Idols in our hearts

Reading: Exodus 32:1-6

Have you heard this story before?  Did you know that God was so angry with the Israelites for making a golden calf that Moses killed 3,000 men for worshiping that idol (Exodus 32:28)?

Most Americans can’t ever imagine bowing down to a statue the way that the Israelites did.  But people don’t realize that anything can be an idol if it comes before our love for God.  For example, when we are greedy and covetous, that is a form of idolatry (Colossians 3:5).

Do you remember that when the Israelites entered Canaan, God told them to destroy all the people and all their idols?  He did not want any of that to remain.  God knew that idol worship would make the Israelites forget their love for him.  And the same thing can happen to us if we put anything before God.

How to be Happy was written by Lydia Sigourney and published in 1833.  Now out of print, the book is in the public domain and may be read freely online.  The following is an excerpt from one of the chapters.

LOVE YOUR SAVIOR

His character, so beautifully related in the Bible, is worthy of your warmest love. You remember his obedience to his mother, his being subject to her will, even when his wisdom astonished the most learned men of the realm. May you also, my dear children, as you “grow in stature, grow in wisdom, and in favor with God and man.”
Read the rest of this entry »

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Posted in Bible History, Heart, Holiness/purity, Idols, Loves children, Savior, Worship. Comments Off on Idols in our hearts

Whole-Hearted Love

Reading: 2 Kings 10:21-31

Jehu the king did many good things for God. However, Jehu had learned how to worship idols just like his father. Jehu never did remove idol worship completely from Israel. He was not “careful to walk in the ways of the Lord with all his heart.” There were things that Jehu allowed his heart to love more than God. Isn’t that sad?

No matter how much good we do, it doesn’t help us if we love other things more than God. There are many good people in the world. But God wants our hearts. If we give God our whole hearts, then goodness will follow. Learn to love God now with your whole heart, while you are young and can choose a godly life. Give Him your heart!

“Only This Once” appeared in Tiger and Tom and Other Stories for Boys. This book of short moral stories for children was published in 1910 and can be read freely online.

ONLY THIS ONCE

“I’ll be in again very soon, mother; I am only going ’round the corner to see the new billiard rooms;” and, cap in hand, Harry was closing the parlor door when his mother called him back.

“I cannot consent to your going there, my dear,” she said; “you must know that both your father and myself disapprove of all such places.” Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Bible History, Courage, Heart, Holiness/purity, Idols, King/Judge, Youth. Comments Off on Whole-Hearted Love

Ghost Town

Reading: Lamentations 1:1-1-2

Have you ever heard of a ghost town? I live in Texas, and there are many legends of old Wild West ghost towns, towns that used to be filled with cowboys and gold miners, but which now stand empty. Imagine buildings with darkened rooms, cobwebs and tumbleweeds everywhere, and no sound but the lonely desert wind. That is what I imagine when I read these verses in Lamentations. The Israelite’s enemies have come and taken God’s people away. Jeremiah the prophet is looking out over his beloved city and all he sees is a ghost town. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Bible History, Idols, King/Judge, Pilgrims/pioneers/immigration, Prophets, Wars. Comments Off on Ghost Town

Being a light to the world

Introduction: Today’s reading shows us how severe God had to be with the Israelites to teach them how to follow His commandments.

Reading: Deuteronomy 13:6-11

Abel’s grandfather peered over his glasses at Abel as the boy came up the porch. He was accompanied by his best friend Marcus, who was carrying something.

“Look at what we found in the old milking shed, Grandpa,” said Abel excitedly. “It’s a lantern!”

“Well, I guess you’re right,” said Grandpa, putting his newspaper down and taking the lantern in his hands. “That was the lantern your great-grandpa Josiah used when he’d go check on the animals at night, just before going to bed.”

“Can we clean it up and put oil in it?” asked Marcus. “We’d like to hang it in our tree house.”

“Well, boys, I’ll help you clean it up as best I can,” promised Grandpa. “But I don’t want you to use it in that tree house. It’s not safe. We can try lighting it tonight in the kitchen and see how it works. I wouldn’t count on it being very useful, though.”

“Look at how rusted it is! It may be rusted all the way through,” said Abel, scraping the side with his fingernail.

Grandpa put the lantern down and looked intently at the boys. “What would have been the right way to treat this thing? How could we have kept it from rusting so badly?”

“Well, I guess it shouldn’t have been left in that old milking shed and forgotten,” said Abel. “The roof of that old shed didn’t keep the rain and snow out.”

“We could have been using it all this time,” added Marcus. “Then we could’ve kept it clean made sure it didn’t run out of oil.”

Grandpa nodded. “Remember that Jesus said in the book of Matthew, ‘You are the light of the world.’ Our light shouldn’t be left forgotten or turned off someplace. We need to be shining God’s love and God’s Word every day. As we grow and learn, it becomes more and more a part of us. We can be useful to God.” He pointed at the lantern. “Without working and serving God every day, it will be easier and easier to sin. Then if we try to be a light later on, we may have found that we’re pretty rusty and close to useless.”

Memory Verse: For we have brought nothing into the world, so we cannot take anything out of it either. 1 Timothy 6:7

For Further Study:

  • Today’s reading seems very harsh, but we have to remember that God wanted the Israelites to leave no room for sin. Once a person starts leaving room for sin, it becomes very easy to make it a habit. God expects the same love and obedience from His people today. Read 1 Thessalonians 5:22; Titus 2:11-14; James 4:7; and 1 Peter 1:13.
Posted in Holiness/purity, Idols, Inspiration of the Word, King/Judge. Comments Off on Being a light to the world

God Shows Us The Way

Reading: Leviticus 18: 1-5

Taylor was very excited! He was going to the San Antonio Zoo with his Mimi and Pop-Pop, and they were going to be together the entire day. As soon as they arrived at the zoo, Taylor said that he wanted to see the bears. “Bears are my favorite,” he told his Mimi, “especially the polar bears! Do you think they have a polar bear?”

Pop-Pop smiled and looked around. “They should have one somewhere. I think they have brown bears and koala bears also. Which way would you like to go?”

“It’s a very big zoo,” Mimi told him. “We might not be able to see everything before your Daddy picks us up for dinner.”

“Then I want to make sure we see the bears first, and then say hello to the snakes and tigers. And I would like to see the bears last before we leave the zoo, so I can tell them good-bye.”

“Why don’t we follow everyone else?” asked Mimi.

Taylor looked around. “They’re all going in different directions,” he said. “Besides, they might not want to see the bears like I do. We should look for a sign, or a map.”

“I see a man over there handing out maps,” Pop-Pop said. “I’ll get one for each of us.”

While waiting for him to return, Mimi said to Taylor, “You know, Taylor, we wouldn’t want to get lost in a big place like this. All of these trails wind around the zoo.”

“I know, Mimi,” said Taylor. “We’ll need to pick a place to meet in case we’re separated. It’s a good thing they give us maps.”

“Don’t you think it’s awfully hard to follow a map, though?” asked Mimi with a smile.

Taylor shook his head. “Not once you learn how. Mama taught me how to follow one. And it’s better than being lost.”

Mimi nodded as Pop-Pop returned. “That’s the way it is with God’s Word also, honey. Life is very hard to figure out without it. Sometimes it seems like the Bible is hard to learn or follow, but we have to remember that God gave it to us to make our lives easier. He gave it to us so that we can enjoy life, and reach our goal, and not get lost.”

Memory Verse: Therefore be ye ____, for I am ____. Leviticus 11:44 (also quoted in 1 Peter 1:16).

For Further Study:

  • Read again Leviticus 18:3. The Israelites had to leave behind some things in Egypt so that they could make their journey to their Promised Land. The same is true of Christians. They have to leave behind many things and then follow God’s “map” to Heaven. What are some of the things that Christians have to be prepared to give up and/or change in their lives? See Luke 18:29-30; Colossians 3:5; 2 Thessalonians 3:6; 2 Timothy 2:4; 1 John 2:15-17.

 

  • List your favorite possessions in this world. List your favorite hobbies. List your best friends. Would you be able to give them up if they got in the way of your obedience to God? Pray that you’ll have a heart that would desire to give up anything for the Lord. That’s the kind of heart that Christ had!
Posted in Heaven, Holiness/purity, Idols, Inspiration of the Word, Pilgrims/pioneers/immigration. Comments Off on God Shows Us The Way

Boldness of Faith

Reading: Ezra 9:1-3

Judy was helping her older sister Mary iron their father’s shirts for work & church assemblies.  Judy sprayed the shirts with starch and laid them on the counter.  Mary took shirts from the counter and ironed them on a nearby board.  Together, the sisters would finish enough shirts for their father for a week, as well as earn some spending money.

 

“Here is a T-shirt that was mixed up in this load of laundry,” said Judy, holding up one of their father’s undershirts. 

 

Mary’s eyes widened and then she giggled.  “Oh dear,” she said, “it looks like I accidentally washed this one in the load for hot water.”

 

Judy looked at the shirt, which was now small enough to fit her.  “Ooh, will Daddy be angry at us?” she asked.

 

“I don’t think so,” said Mary.  “It’s one of his oldest shirts.  I’ll ask him, and if it needs to be replaced, I’ll use my money for it.  It was my fault.”

 

Judy was relieved. She was already envisioning her spending allowance being reduced.  She looked again at the shirt in her hands and said, “I can’t believe how little this is.”

 

“Yes, that can happen if you’re not careful,” Mary said, picking up her iron again.  “Judy, do you know that the Bible talks about shrinking?”

 

“It does?  Who shrunk something in the Bible?” 

 

“Well, in chapter 10 of the book of Hebrews it talks about Christians who ‘shrink back’ from faith in God.  A person can shrink back in the faith when they become discouraged or afraid, or when they become caught up in sin and forsake God.  This is what the Israelites did when they worshipped idols. Christians do it today when they disobey God and mistreat others, and don’t ask for forgiveness.  Can you imagine if your faith shrunk smaller and smaller, like this shirt?”

 

“That would be terrible,” Judy said. 

 

“Yes, it would be so dangerous for us.  Some people’s faith shrinks so small that they have trouble finding it again when they most need it.  That’s why in the same chapter in Hebrews, it says we should be brave, love others, and worship Him as much as possible.  This will help us keep from shrinking back.”

 

Judy grabbed her father’s shirt and held it up.  “It will keep us out of hot water!” she said.

 

Mary laughed. “That’s right!  It will make us useful for God!”

For Further Study:

  • Priests and kings in Ezra’s day had a special purpose.  In Ezra 9:2 God says that they did not teach the people to obey Him.  Do you think your life has a purpose? Do you think of yourself as having a special job? You are very important to God, Christ’s church, and your family. Even though it’s hard to imagine, even a child can do wonderful things for God. Do you remember how Christ talked about children in Matthew 19:13-15 and Mark 10:13-16? When you are humble, trusting, willing to obey, and loving, you teach older people what they must be like to enter Heaven! God has given you this great job because children are so good at trusting God, helping others, and being cheerful.
  • Finish these sentences:
    I have a special purpose for God. It is:
    I can fulfill this purpose every day by doing these things :
    These can get in the way of my work for God:
Posted in Courage, Holiness/purity, Idols, Priesthood, Prophets, Worship. Comments Off on Boldness of Faith

A Good Young King

Reading: 2 Kings 23:21-25

Did you know… that Josiah was eight years old when he became king? Josiah was a king who pleased God.

Did you know… that Josiah read God’s law? Josiah didn’t rely on what all the other people were doing – if he did, he would have joined them in worshipping idols. Josiah wanted to know what God said about things.

Did you know… that Josiah was tender-hearted and humble? When he found out what God wanted, he changed what he was doing. He feared God’s punishment and he cared about pleasing God.

Did you know… that Josiah taught all the people to follow God also? We see that he was interested in teaching others and saving them from God’s judgment.

Did you know… because of his faithfulness, Josiah did not have to fear what would happen to him after he died? It says so in 2 Kings 22:20. And God promises the same thing to us!

Loves has been perfected among us in this:
that we may have boldness in the day of judgment;
because as He is, so are we in this world.
1 John 4:17

For Further Study:
God wants us to feel confident about being with Him someday, just like Josiah did. He wants His people to feel hope and peace about an eternal home with Him. Read Proverbs 14:32; Romans 14:8; Philippians 1:21; and Revelation 14:13.

Josiah changed because he read God’s Word. This is seen over and over again in the Scripture – faith comes from hearing the Word first (Romans 10:17). Sometimes the Word was read, sometimes it was preached, sometimes it came through a prophet. But always, it was only the True and inspired Word of God that brought people to act in a way that pleased God. In fact, when people acted without reading God’s Word, they very often made mistakes and were punished! Read about these examples from the Bible. Did these people seek directions from God’s word? Genesis 11:1-8; 1 Samuel 13:11-14; Matthew 7:21-23 ; Acts 17:1-4; Acts 19:11-20.

Journal: Do you know that you’re more blessed than Josiah? Josiah had the imperfect Law of Moses; but God has given you the complete gospel of Jesus Christ! You can read it, change your life, and teach others to change just like Josiah did! Pray to God to help you stay faithful to His Word, just like His young servant Josiah. God notices your courage and love for Him!

Posted in Courage, Heaven, Holiness/purity, Humility/Pride, Idols, Inspiration of the Word, Youth. Comments Off on A Good Young King