The Power of the Gospel

Reading: Romans 1:13-19

Paul certainly was not someone who was ashamed of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  He gave his life to preaching and teaching others.  Paul was absolutely certain that the Bible could save every man on earth.  Nothing else is needed for man to find salvation.  He only has to read the Bible, believe God’s Word, and obey it.  Isn’t that what verse 17 is telling us in today’s reading?  We have to live by faith, and make God’s Word part of our daily lives.  That is how the Word saves us.  Isn’t it wonderful to have all that power in our hands?

The lesson, “Good Advice” was written by Bruce S. Wright and published in A Children’s Six Minutes in 1922.  Now out of print, the book may be read freely online.

Most of us, men and women as well as girls and boys, do not take kindly to advice. We very much prefer that people keep their advice to themselves. There are times, however, when we are compelled to listen to advice, because of the source. Here is a bit of advice that commands our attention. It is from the great English novelist, Charles Dickens.

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Posted in Inspiration of the Word, Youth. Comments Off on The Power of the Gospel

The Straight and Narrow Way

Reading: Matthew 7:13-20

Today’s reading shows us how important it is for those who love God to keep their focus on their Heavenly goals. The way that leads to life eternal is narrow and difficult. It requires patience, effort, and courage to follow God’s will instead of “going with the crowd” and living only for today. Also, there are many distractions along the way.

What kind of distractions did you read about in today’s verses? What did Jesus say would happen to people who tried to take others off the right way to Heaven?

The author of the following parable is unknown. The story was passed on to me by a friend.

Once, a Christian father and his three adolescent sons went on a winter hike. They came to They came to a field glistening white from a snow the night before. There was not a single track of any kind that had been made in the field. The father, wanting to challenge his youngsters and perhaps teach them a lesson, suggested they have a contest – which one could walk the straightest path across the field? Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Courage, Heaven, Inspiration of the Word, King/Judge, Pilgrims/pioneers/immigration, Prophets. Comments Off on The Straight and Narrow Way

God Charges Jeremiah

Reading: Jeremiah 1:4-10

When I was a little girl my mother had to take a job in the evenings at a pharmacy. My father cared for me and my two little sisters while she was working. I was nine years old, my next sister was six, and my youngest sister was a baby. You can imagine what hard work that was for my father in the evenings. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Church, Courage, Family, Hope, Humility/Pride, Inspiration of the Word, Loves children, Prophets, Talents, Work, Youth. Comments Off on God Charges Jeremiah

My Ways

Reading: Isaiah 55:6-11

One day when I was about 11 years old I determined that I was going to make myself a skirt. I found some fabric, cut it and started to sew it together just like that. But of course when I held the skirt up to myself, I noticed so many mistakes. My stitches could be seen, the pattern on the fabric was going the wrong way, and I had no idea how I was going to get into it, for I hadn’t thought of leaving myself room for a waistband or zipper. Read the rest of this entry »

Christ’s Sacrifice

Reading: Isaiah 53:4-9 (older children can read the entire chapter)

Imagine that you are a young prince in the Middle Ages. What are the many advantages that you would have? I think one of the best ones would be your own personal whipping boy. Imagine not ever getting punished for anything, but instead having someone around to stand in for you and receive your punishment! “Yes, Father, you are right, I did steal a cookie…. Mickey, hold out your hand for Father to spank.”

Now tell me, if that were happening today, who would you pick to be your whipping boy? Do you have someone in mind? Would you pick your best friend, a stranger, or an enemy? What if you were someone’s whipping boy? For whom would you be willing to do that service?

These verses in Isaiah show us the punishment that Christ received in place of men. We cannot compare Him to a mere whipping boy, because the punishment He received was far greater, and led to His death. Yet He received it willingly. How do these verses describe what happened to Him? How do they describe His willingness?

Can you imagine a prince being a peasant’s whipping boy in the Middle Ages? Yet Christ the King took the punishment for man, whom He created.

I hope that today you will think hard about the sacrifice that Christ made for men. When sin lies heavily upon our hearts, there is a wonderful hope waiting for us: the knowledge that Christ has already borne the punishment for it. These verses in Isaiah are dark and sad, but they also contain a wonderful, saving message.

For Further Study:

  • Read Isaiah 53:1-3. Christ did not have the kind of face or body that seemed “kingly.” In fact, most people who knew Him on earth were amazed at how “ordinary” in appearance He was. Read Matthew 13:54-58; John 1:45-46; and Mark 15:16-20. What do these verses tell us about the power of the gospel? What do they tell us about the faith of Christ’s followers? What do they tell us about the way we should think of appearances, family ties, and worldly accomplishments?
  • Read the account of Christ’s trial & crucifixion from one of the gospels today: Matthew 26:47-27:56; or Mark 14: 43-15:41; or Luke 22:54-23:49; or John 18:12-19:30. Note how the prophecies in Isaiah 53 were fulfilled.
  • How willingly do you (or don’t you) receive punishment? How would you feel and act towards your sibling or friend, if they willingly and silently received punishment that was intended for you?

The Lord’s Highway

Reading: Isaiah 35:8-10

“I think we are lost,” said Michael to his older brother. He tried not to sound too scornful, but the sun was hot, and he was tired.

The boys had taken a picnic lunch and gone riding through their ranch all morning. Now they were heading home on their horses. But lately there had been no familiar landmarks. The sun was right above them, so they could not use that as a guide.

Matthew scanned the horizon for something familiar, perhaps a windmill or a hill that would tell him where they were. He tried not to look worried. He knew that if they stayed gone too long, their family and ranch hands would come looking for them. However, he didn’t like the idea of being stuck in the wilderness waiting for them, especially when it grew dark. He knew there were wild animals roaming about, as their ranch land covered thousands of acres. Fortunately, the days were long, and they would have several hours more to try and reach home before the coyotes and mountain lions emerged.

Suddenly Michael pointed at something shiny on his left. “Look at that streak of light. What do you think it is? The river?”

Matthew looked carefully for a while to make sure of what he saw, then said a silent prayer of thanks. “That’s the highway. And praise the Lord, it’s on our left-hand side. That means we’re headed in the right direction. We’ll turn a little bit so we come closer to it, but we’re going the right way, Michael. We should be home in about an hour.”

Michael was relieved. He knew that if they had turned their backs to the highway by mistake, their travels would have taken them many miles away from home. “It’s a good thing I saw that.”

Matthew agreed. And though he didn’t admit it, he felt a lot safer knowing where they were headed.

For Further Study:

  • Here are some other verses about walking on the Lord’s way: Proverbs 4:11; Proverbs 16:17; Psalm 23:3; Psalm 25:10; Psalm 119:35; Matthew 7:14. How do we know that we are walking on the right path for God? What has He given us to guide us? Think of the opposite of these verses – what are people like, and what is life like, when His way is not followed?

  • At what times in your life have you felt spiritually lost? Has there been something you are doubting or fearing? Is there something in the future that worries or scares you? Let God know about it today.
Posted in Beasts & Birds, Inspiration of the Word, Pilgrims/pioneers/immigration. Comments Off on The Lord’s Highway

Our Hearts of Clay

Reading: Isaiah 29:13-16

One of the most interesting toys in our home is an electric child’s pottery wheel that was given to us by a relative. It’s been great fun learning how to make things on it. However, pottery is not something that is undertaken easily. Have you ever looked at a piece of pottery? Perhaps in your home there is a cookie jar, clay jug, or some other shaped vessel. Even a plate is an amazing thing if you think about it ~ to think that a perfect circle could be formed so smoothly and evenly! I didn’t appreciate this until I attempted to make one of my own.

Pottery clay is a tricky thing. Ours came in a plastic bag and we had to cut off chunks of it that could be easily managed. Then it had to be kneaded and warmed by our hands so that it would be pliable enough to work with. We had to squeeze the air bubbles out of it and, sometimes, drip water onto it to make it the right consistency ~ not too wet and not too dry. The children were impatient. When could they use the pottery wheel? “Not yet, for if you tried to make something of this clay before it’s ready, it would not form properly. There would be air bubbles in your piece which would make it less strong.”

Finally, we could put our lump of clay on the wheel and start it spinning. The clay felt so nice and cold in our hands. But oh, what was happening ~ the wheel spun too quickly, we’ve pressed too much on this side, and now our piece is turning into a cone. Stop the wheel… mash the clay… start over. This happened many times.

We were able to make two lumpy little bowls that day. One is painted beautifully and sits on my kitchen counter, holding marbles and bracelets and game pieces, or whatever else I pick up from the kitchen floor for my children to put away. The other little bowl was dried and painted, but then promptly broke when we set it on the counter. We don’t know why. How sad to lose something for which we had worked so hard!

It’s no wonder that God compares our hearts to clay. Do they conform freely to His will? Do they struggle within His hands, wishing to follow their own tradition? Do they sin and show others by their behavior, “He did not make me”? Do they act like pretty little pieces but then shatter at the first sign of stress?

Now that I think about it, we haven’t used our pottery wheel since that first time. My children say it is too difficult. Perhaps in a few years they will have bigger hands ~ and more patience!

For Further Study:

  • Read Jeremiah 18:1-12. How did God show the Israelites that He was “the potter”? How did His “clay” behave?

 

  • Verses 13 and 14 from today’s reading are repeated in Matthew 15:8-9. Jesus used those verses to show that the Pharisees were hypocrites. They told others to follow God, but they did not follow God themselves Read the verses preceding these. What tradition were the Pharisees doing? What law of God were they breaking?

 

  • What have you done lately to show that you are “good clay” in your Father’s hands? What have you done that may have declared to others, “He did not make me”? What can you pray about these things?
Posted in Earth, Heart, Humility/Pride, Inspiration of the Word, Worship. Comments Off on Our Hearts of Clay