Loving Your Enemies

Reading: Matthew 5:38-48

“Coals of Fire,” is a short story that was published in the book Tiger and Tom in 1910. This collection of moral tales for children is now out of print and can be read freely online.

COALS OF FIRE

Guy Morgan came in from school with rapid step and impetuous manner. His mother looked up from her work. There was a round, red spot on his cheek, and an ominous glitter in his eyes. She knew the signs. His naturally fierce temper had been stirred in some way to a heat that had kindled his whole nature. He tossed down his cap, threw himself on an ottoman at her feet, and then said, with still a little of the heat of his temper in his tone, “Never say, after this, that I don’t love you, mother.” Read the rest of this entry »

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Posted in Anger, Kindness, Repentance & Forgiveness. Comments Off on Loving Your Enemies

Learning and Growing

Reading: Lamentations 3:22-29

Jeremiah is writing about the Israelites. They have been carried away into captivity and slavery. Jeremiah hopes that during this hard time, they will turn back to God and increase their faith. It is a time of sorrow, but it can also be a time of great learning. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Church, Courage, Hope, Patience, Prophets, Repentance & Forgiveness, Talents, Work, Youth. Comments Off on Learning and Growing

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?

Redemption in Christ

Reading: Isaiah 43:1-7

One sunny summer day Jonah and his Aunt Nina went out shopping together. Jonah had brought his own money so that he could buy his mother a birthday present.

“What do you want to get your Mama for her birthday?” asked Aunt Nina as they sat in traffic.

Jonah smiled. “Last month I saw a bracelet on sale at Mr. Clark’s jewelry store. Daddy helped me put it on layaway for Mama, and today I brought the money for it. Mr. Clark gave me a good discount because Daddy works with his wife.”

“That was good thinking, Jonah,” said his aunt.

“Well, we were there to get Daddy’s watch fixed, and when I saw that bracelet I knew that Mama would like it. Daddy already paid for part of it, and he said I could pay the rest when I came back.”

Aunt Nina nodded. “I’ll take you there today so you can do that. Did you bring your receipt?”

“Yes.” Jonah dug around in his pocket and found the piece of paper that his Daddy had given him. “Do I just give it to Mr. Clark?”

“Yes, with the rest of the money you owe. Tell him you’ve come to redeem your bracelet.” Aunt Nina smiled. “Do you know what that means?”

“That I’ve come to buy it?”

“It’s somewhat the same meaning. Mama’s bracelet is waiting for its new owner. It’s waiting in that little case in Mr. Clark’s store, and you’ve come to set it free. Mr. Clark is holding it for you until pay the rest of what is owed on it.

“You’ve heard of people holding prisoners for ransom? The one who pays the ransom is the redeemer. You are the bracelet’s redeemer. God calls Himself a Redeemer. Can you think of what God paid for us?”

Jonah nodded. “Christ died for the sins of man. He paid for all the bad things that men do. ”

“That’s right. Christ paid the price that man should have paid. Christ is our Redeemer. And if He was willing to do that for us, we should know that He would protect us as long as we followed Him.”

“I’ve always wondered why Christ would do that for people, even the baddest people who killed him,” said Jonah.

“Well, it was a gift. You are buying a gift today for your Mama because she’s precious to you. And God wants us to know that we’re precious to Him.”

For Further Study:

  • Redemption… atonement… salvation… these words all point to the sacrifice that Christ made on our behalf. Read Psalm 130. How much did Israel long for their Messiah?

 

  • Read Romans 3:21. Who needs redemption? How is redemption found? How complete is that redemption? Read Romans 6:3-7. How do we come into contact with the redeeming blood of Jesus Christ?

 

  • Read verse 7 from Isaiah 43. Did you ever consider that YOU were created for God’s glory? How are you glorifying God in your life? What else can you do to bring glory to His Name?
Posted in Hope, Joy, Repentance & Forgiveness, Savior. Comments Off on Redemption in Christ

Complete Forgiveness

Reading: Isaiah 1:16-20

Have you ever played in the snow? I used to live in the Northern part of the United States, and every winter the snow would come to fill our streets and yards. Overnight, the world was transformed into a crystal-white play-land. Trees, bushes, and houses looked unfamiliar underneath their blankets. Everything seemed clearer and sharper, as if I were wearing new eyeglasses. Even the air smelled different.

Our mother dressed us in bright pink snowsuits to play outside. The plows would leave tall piles of snow in the school parking lot, which made perfect “mountains” for us to climb and build tunnels and warrens for playing. The snow brought new amusements that couldn’t be done the rest of the year: sledding, skating, and snowball fights.

I no longer live where it snows every winter. The closest impression I receive is when the cotton fields are harvested and left in the fields in large, snow-white blocks to be transported to the cotton gin. Those large white “mountains” of cotton remind me of the snow. But it’s not the same as in my childhood, when every year the snow came and changed my world.

Snow can transform a landscape, can change the way we see things, and can also change the things we do. So, too, does the healing power of God’s forgiveness. After confessing our wrongs to Him and resolving to change our ways, the weight of guilt and shame is dissolved, and we can see the goodness of God around us, urging us on in our service to Him. When God says He will make us white as snow, it is because He knows what snow means to the earth it touches.

For Further Study:

  • Repentance is more than just saying you are sorry ~ it means resolving to change your life so that you will not commit the same sin again. Many people feel sorry for their sin but don’t change their circumstances and habits so that they can do better in the future. Read Luke 3:7-14. When John the Baptist told men to repent, he expected them to prove it through their new works for God. Read also Matthew 12:43-45. What happens when we don’t replace wrong behavior with right ones?

 

  • How was true repentance demonstrated in the lives of these people: Paul (Acts 9:1-31); the Philippian jailer (Acts 16:25-34); the Ephesians (Acts 19:11-20).

  • Is there a habit or problem that you feel sorry for and would like to change? Write it down. Write down when it is most likely to happen. Write down the things or people that influence you in this habit. What can you change about your life so that this behavior can cease? Also, what good thing can you do in place of it?
Posted in Baptism, Holiness/purity, Repentance & Forgiveness, Savior, Skies, Weather. Comments Off on Complete Forgiveness

Covetousness

Reading: 2 Samuel 12:1-10

The following story was written by Thornton W. Burgess and published in Mother West Wind “Why” Stories in 1915. Now out of print, the book can be read free online.


WHY BUSTER BEAR APPEARS TO HAVE NO TAIL


Peter Rabbit had something new to bother his bump of curiosity. And it did bother it a lot. He had just seen Buster Bear for the first time, and what do you think had impressed him most? Well, it wasn’t Buster’s great size, or wonderful strength, or big claws, or deep, grumbly-rumbly voice. No, Sir, it wasn’t one of these. It was the fact that Buster Bear seemed to have no tail! Peter couldn’t get over that. He almost pitied Buster Bear. You see, Peter has a great admiration for fine tails. He has always been rather ashamed of the funny little one he has himself. Still, it is a real tail, and he has often comforted himself with that thought.


So the first thing Peter did when he saw Buster Bear was to look to see what kind of a tail he had. Just imagine how surprised he was when he couldn’t make sure that Buster had any tail at all. There was something that might, just might, be meant for a tail, and Peter wasn’t even sure of that. If it was, it was so ridiculously small that Peter felt that he had no reason to be ashamed of his own tail.


He was still thinking about this when he started for home. Half way there, he paused, saw that the way to the Smiling Pool was clear, and suddenly made up his mind to ask Grandfather Frog about Buster Bear’s tail. Off he started, lipperty-lipperty-lip.


“Oh, Grandfather Frog,” he panted, as soon as he reached the edge of the Smiling Pool, “has Buster Bear got a tail?”

Grandfather Frog regarded Peter in silence for a minute or two.


Then very slowly he asked: “What are your eyes for, Peter Rabbit? Couldn’t you see whether or not he has a tail?”


“No, Grandfather Frog. I really couldn’t tell whether he has a tail or not,” replied Peter quite truthfully. “At first I thought he hadn’t, and then I thought he might have. If he has, it doesn’t seem to me that it is enough to call a really truly tail.”


“Well, it is a really truly tail, even if you don’t think so,” retorted Grandfather Frog, “and he has it for a reminder.”


“A reminder!” exclaimed Peter, looking very much puzzled. “A reminder of what?”


Grandfather Frog cleared his throat two or three times. “Sit down, Peter, and learn a lesson from the tale of the tail of Old King Bear,” said he very seriously.


“You remember that once upon a time, long ago, when the world was young, Old King Bear ruled in the Green Forest, and everybody brought tribute to him.” Peter nodded and Grandfather Frog went on.


“Now Old King Bear was the great-great-ever-so-great grandfather of Buster Bear, and he looked very much as Buster does, except that he didn’t have any tail at all, not the least sign of a tail. At first, before he was made king of the Green Forest, he didn’t mind this at all. In fact, he was rather pleased that he didn’t have a tail. You see, he couldn’t think of any earthly use he would have for a tail, and so he was glad that he hadn’t got one to bother with.


“This was just Old Mother Nature’s view of the matter. She had done her very best to give everybody everything that they really needed, and not to give them things which they didn’t need. She couldn’t see that Mr. Bear had the least need of a tail, and so she hadn’t given him one. Mr. Bear was perfectly happy without one, and was so busy getting enough to eat that he didn’t have time for silly thoughts or vain wishes.


“Then he was made king over all the people of the Green Forest, and his word was law. It was a very great honor, and for a while he felt it so and did his best to rule wisely. He went about just as before, hunting for his living, and had no more time than before for foolish thoughts or vain wishes. But after a little, the little people over whom he ruled began to bring him tribute, so that he no longer had to hunt for enough to eat. Indeed, he had so much brought to him, that he couldn’t begin to eat all of it, and he grew very dainty and fussy about what he did eat. Having nothing to do but eat and sleep, he grew very fat and lazy, as is the case with most people who have nothing to do. He grew so fat that when he walked, he puffed and wheezed. He grew so lazy that he wanted to be waited on all the time.


“It happened about this time that he overheard Mr. Fox talking to Mr. Wolf when they both thought him asleep. ‘A pretty kind of a king, he is!’ sneered Mr. Fox. ‘The idea of a king without a tail!’


“‘That’s so,’ assented Mr. Wolf. ‘Why, even that little upstart, Mr. Rabbit, has got a make-believe tail.'”


Grandfather Frog’s eyes twinkled as he said this, and Peter looked very much embarrassed. But he didn’t say anything, so Grandfather Frog went on.


“Old King Bear pretended to wake up just then, and right away Mr. Fox and Mr. Wolf were as polite and smiling as you please and began to flatter him. They told him how proud they were of their king, and how handsome he was, and a lot of other nice things, all of which he had heard often before and had believed. He pretended to believe them now, but after they were through paying their respects and had gone away, he kept turning over and over in his mind what he had overheard them say when they thought he was asleep.


“After that he couldn’t think of anything but the fact that he hadn’t any tail. He took particular notice of all who came to pay him tribute, and he saw that every one of them had a tail. Some had long tails; some had short tails; some had handsome tails and some had homely tails; but everybody had a tail of some kind. The more he tried not to think of these tails, the more he did think of them. The more he thought of them, the more discontented he grew because he had none. He didn’t stop to think that probably all of them had use for their tails. No, Sir, he didn’t think of that. Everybody else had a tail, and he hadn’t. He felt that it was a disgrace that he, the king, should have no tail. He brooded over it so much that he lost his appetite and grew cross and peevish.


“Then along came Old Mother Nature to see how things were going in the Green Forest. Of course she saw right away that something was wrong with Old King Bear. When she asked him what the matter was, he was ashamed to tell her at first. But after a little he told her that he wanted a tail; that he could never again be happy unless he had a tail. She told him that he hadn’t the least use in the world for a tail, and that he wouldn’t be any happier if he had one. Nothing that she could say made any difference–he wanted a tail. Finally she gave him one.


“For a few days Old King Bear was perfectly happy. He spent all his spare time admiring his new tail. He called the attention of all his subjects to it, and they all told him that it was a very wonderful tail and was very becoming to him. But it wasn’t long before he found that his new tail was very much in the way. It bothered him when he walked. It was in the way when he sat down. It was a nuisance when he climbed a tree. He didn’t have a single use for it, and yet he had to carry it with him wherever he went. Worse still, he overheard little Mr. Squirrel and Mr. Possum making fun of it. And then he discovered that the very ones who admired his tail so to his face were laughing at him and poking fun at him behind his back.


“And then Old King Bear wished that he hadn’t a tail more than ever he wished that he did have a tail. Again he lost his appetite and grew cross and peevish, so that no one dared come near him. So matters went from bad to worse, until once more Old Mother Nature visited the Green Forest to see how things were. Very humbly Old King Bear went down on his knees and begged her to take away his tail. At first Old Mother Nature refused, but he begged so hard and promised so faithfully never again to be discontented, that finally she relented and took away his tail, all but just a wee little bit. That she left as a reminder lest he should forget the lesson he had learned and should again grow envious.


“And every bear since that long-ago day has carried about with him a reminder–you can hardly call it a real tail–of the silly, foolish discontent of Old King Bear,” concluded Grandfather Frog.


Peter Rabbit scratched one long ear thoughtfully as he replied: “Thank you, Grandfather Frog. I think that hereafter I will be quite content with what I’ve got and never want things it is not meant that I should have.”


For Further Study:

  • Read Colossians 1:9-12. If David could have read these verses before seeing Bathsheba, how would they have helped him avoid sin?

  • What do you wish you could have/own? What are the things you wish you had money to buy? It’s so hard to deny yourself things, but we can’t own everything we want. And today we studied about how miserable David made himself by wanting something and forgetting all the things he already had. What do you already have? What are the things you can focus on being thankful for so that you won’t dwell on the things you wish for?

Our Important Conscience

Reading Psalm 32

 

This psalm by David shows us what a blessing it is to have God’s forgiveness.  David mourned over his sin and was then comforted by God.

 

What did David feel like before he asked God for forgiveness?  How does he feel after praying to God?


The following story was written by Howard J. Chidley and published in Fifty-Two Story Talks for Boys and Girls in 1914.  Now out of print, the book may be read free online.

 

 

THE BOY AND THE TURTLE

 

 

One day, as [a boy] was going across the fields, he came to a pond where he saw a small turtle sunning itself upon a stone which rose out of the water. The boy picked up a stick, and was about to strike the turtle, when a voice within him said, “Stop!” His arm paused in midair and, startled, he ran home to ask his mother what the voice meant. Tears came into his mother’s eyes as she took the boy in her arms and told him that it was his conscience which had cried “Stop!” Then she told him that his conscience was the voice of God, and that his moral safety depended upon his heeding that inner voice.

 

The same thing is true of all boys and girls. If you obey that inner voice in questions of right and wrong, it will speak to you clearly.   But if you neglect it, it will grow silent, and you will be left in darkness and in doubt as to what is right and wrong.

 

Some people call this voice the “inner light,” and that is a very good name for it. Every time you walk by the light you put fresh oil in the lamp, and the light grows stronger and the way clearer.

 

Whenever that inner voice speaks to you and tells you that a thing is wrong, don’t argue with the voice and give reasons for doing the thing that is wrong. Obey the voice at once, as Parker did, and it will save you endless trouble.

 

 

 

 

 

For Further Study:

 

  • Read 2 Corinthians 7:9-11.  The Corinthians had sinned, and Paul had pointed out their sin to them.  Their sorrow over their sin caused them to repent.  This is called “godly sorrow,” because it led to repentance, a turning back to God for forgiveness and a turning away from sin by changing what they were doing.  When the Corinthians were sorry and repented, they could be joyful over their salvation. 

     

 

 

  • If someone needed to apologize to you, how would you feel if they made a joke about it? if they smiled while doing it? if they became angry at you instead?  How do you think God feels when people need to say they are sorry to Him, but don’t really mean it?

 

Posted in Beasts & Birds, Courage, Holiness/purity, Humility/Pride, King/Judge, Repentance & Forgiveness. Comments Off on Our Important Conscience