The Real Story of that First Christmas Eve

The Real Story of that

First Christmas Eve

 

 

 

 

Please allow me to begin this story by sharing that over the many centuries, since the beginning of what we now celebrate as Christmas, our societies have painted a much different picture of the Christmas story. We have gotten sidetracked from the real story. Now a simple manger scene might be tucked away on a shelf or table top somewhere in the house symbolically placed without much fanfare or notice. It has become just another ornament or decoration in the house already filled with lights, candles, bows, and other Christmas adornments. There is far more focus upon the gaily wrapped gifts under the tree as we wonder, “What is under the tree for me?” There is more attention to the candy, cookies and cakes being prepared for the Christmas family gathering than that manger scene that depicts the real purpose of Christmas.

Is it wrong to think about all the other wonderful treats and gifts and ornamentation that now come with Christmas? Is it wrong to sing Jingle Bells and Grandma Got Run Over By the Reindeer on Christmas Eve? Is it wrong to talk about Santa Claus, the North Pole, and Rudolf the Red-nosed Reindeer? Is it wrong to watch any of the myriad of Christmas stories that Hollywood has created and we like to watch each Christmas season? No, all are a by-product in some way and has fashioned our response to what Christmas has become to our society. The way we celebrate has been influenced by our heritage and family traditions as our way to interpret the “Spirit of Christmas” – sharing that interpretation to our children and grandchildren, so they may pass the heritage on as they grow up and raise their family too.

However, if we do not stop and pull aside all the trimmings, decorations, commercialized aspects of Christmas we truly have missed the true inspiration behind the meaning and purpose of Christmas. If we fall prey to all the above and not reflect upon the real reason for the season we might as well follow the rest of the world and stop calling it CHRISTmas, as many in the world would prefer we do. And why is that so? Is it because if they join us in truly celebrating Christmas (the CHRIST MASS, as it originally was called) they will be hearing the true meaning and origin of why we celebrate Christmas: The Birth of Jesus, God’s Son, given to the world as His love gift, so we may know God’s love through knowing and accepting Jesus as the Truth, the Way, and the Life who reveals God to our hearts. With all the recent events in our world, there has been no greater need for our world to grasp a hold upon than the real meaning of Christmas, the true story of that first Christmas Eve that occurred in history (yes, it is a real event of real people recorded so it can be shared from generation to generation to anchor our faith in God’s love for us).

The Bible records that the Apostle Paul saw the Christ child event as significant because it reflected God’s deliberate act to demonstrate His love for us by introducing Himself through Jesus, who was born into this world just as we too are born into this world. In writing to the early churches, some 50 years after the birth, Paul wrote the WHAT and WHY of that first Christmas Eve.

WHAT: But when the time arrived that was set by God the Father, God sent his Son, born among us of a woman, born under the conditions of the law so that he might redeem those of us who have been kidnapped by the law. Galatians 4:4-5 The Message

The timing of Jesus’ birth was not arbitrary. It was established by key events and came directed by the providential hand of God for His good purposes. The events and settings were promised and fulfilled so that the people of God would recognize the signs of His birth when it happened.

WHY: Thus we have been set free to experience our rightful heritage. You can tell for sure that you are now fully adopted as his own children because God sent the Spirit of his Son into our lives crying out, “Papa! Father!” Doesn’t that privilege of intimate conversation with God make it plain that you are not a slave, but a child? And if you are a child, you’re also an heir, with complete access to the inheritance. Galatians 4:6-7 The Message

The why is much more important! Until this point in history the people of God had lost contact with the personal God who led His people from Egypt and delivered them to the Promised Land. Like many of us today, they had taken God’s goodness and love for granted and had been alienated from God for over 500 years, in fact many had been sent into exile to foreign lands. Now, God’s people, scattered all over the world, were under Roman rule without a real “King” to free them from the oppression they were under, and they clung to the promise that God would send a Messiah, or Savior to free them, so they would once again enjoy the direct relationship and inheritance of being God’s children again. God promised it and each day they prayed and hoped that “today would be that day” – and then it happened. God answered their prayers! Here is the story behind that first Christmas Eve:

About that time Caesar Augustus ordered a census to be taken throughout the Empire. This was the first census when Quirinius was governor of Syria. Everyone had to travel to his own ancestral hometown to be accounted for. So Joseph went from the Galilean town of Nazareth up to Bethlehem in Judah, David’s town, for the census. As a descendant of David, he had to go there. He went with Mary, his fiance, who was pregnant. While they were there, the time came for her to give birth. She gave birth to a son, her firstborn. She wrapped him in a blanket and laid him in a manger, because there was no room in the hostel. Luke 2:1-7 The Message

This brief passage and a couple of equally short passages in the Gospel accounts of the Bible reveal the story and we read them at church and they are repeated in the songs of Christmas that we sing in church services every year, such as Silent Night, O Little Town of Bethlehem, Joy to the World, etc. And there are some churches that still do manger recreations, but how do you personally respond to the story? Is it real to you as you share it to your children or grandchildren?

This is how Hershel Hobbs wrote about it in his account recorded in the Illustrated Life of Jesus:

In faraway Rome Augustus Caesar ruled his vast empire with an iron hand. True to Roman fashion he was primarily concerned that his subjects should keep the peace and pay their taxes. In 8 B.C. he had inaugurated a periodical census every fourteen years in order to enroll his people for taxation. According to Tacitus (Roman Historian) even the regna, the independent kingdoms under the Roman Empire, were included in this census.

Probably two years later this census was carried out in Palestine. Herod, the vassal king, would not think of disobeying Augustus. Yet, knowing the Jew’s aversion to paying taxes to Rome, he delayed it as long as he dared. Even then he sought to placate the Jews by adhering to their customs in dealing with them along tribal lines. So when the order for enrollment was finally given, it called for every Jew to be enrolled at the place where the tribal register was kept.

Thus Joseph and Mary journeyed from Nazareth to Bethlehem, for they were descendants of David and members of the tribe of Judah. Though they were peasants (poor, everyday common folks), royal blood flowed in their veins. By this time Mary was great with child (in her final days of pregnancy) and this journey of approximately 100 miles worked a great hardship on her.  Nevertheless Caesar’s decree must be obeyed.

However, she and Joseph moved under a greater word (inspiration) than that of the Roman emperor, for God had said that His Son, the Messiah, should be born in Bethlehem. Augustus knew nothing of this prophecy and cared less. But unknowingly he was an instrument in God’s hands, as his decree like an invisible cord drew the virgin mother toward her destiny.

After several days of travel, late in the afternoon these weary travelers climbed the last rocky, steep ascent leading into Bethlehem. The streets were crowded with hundreds of other men and women bent on the same mission. Clouds of dust boiled up from the stirring of the hundreds of feet of men and animals. A bedlam of noise characteristic of such a scene filled the ears of the weary couple from Nazareth as laboriously they made their way to the village inn. But it was already filled to overflowing.

So because there was no lodging to be had, Joseph bedded his wife down in the area provided for the animals. Here Mary “gave birth to her firstborn Son, and she wrapped Him snugly in cloth and laid Him in a manger (animal feed trough)” Luke 2:7.

Thus was the Son of God born – not in a king’s palace or in a home of the wealthy or mighty, but to a peasant mother whose delivery room was a stable. No physician stood by to assist. Only the gnarled hands of a village carpenter came to her aid, but they were hands made tender by a conquering love and a devotion to God. As the newborn babe slept through the night, He was under the watchful eyes of His mother and Joseph, but most of all He was secure under the never-failing gaze of His Heavenly Father.

The next morning Bethlehem roused from her sleep. It was business as usual as the bazaars rang with the noise of commerce. The enrollment was finished, and the crowds moved out to return to their homes. Caesar’s bidding had been done, and the village of David returned to normal. Only a few simple folks knew that on that night in the little village there had transpired the greatest event in the history of the world.

…Jesus’ birth was largely unnoticed by the world. Outside of the Bible no ancient historian took note of the event. They were so bent on the recording the affairs of men and nations that they failed to recognize God’s history within history, whereby in the person of His Son He entered into the arena of time to answer the universal cry of men’s hearts. But it did not occur without recognition by those whose hearts were prepared to receive it.

Heaven itself rejoiced over the glorious event. For the angelic hosts burst asunder the barrier of invisibility to proclaim the Savior’s birth and to sing the Christian anthem dedicated to His praise. For their audience they had a handful of lowly shepherds, the simple folk who counted for little in the tides of history which ever beat upon the shores of time. But their hearts were firmly fixed in God’s promises upon which they meditated in the quiet hours of the night. In Bethlehem’s fields where Ruth had gleaned in the fields of Boaz, later to become his bride and the Moabite ancestress of the Savior; where David had tended his sheep, all the while contemplating on God’s glory and on Him who was to be born; there the shepherds first heard the glad tidings that unto them had been born a Savior, Christ the Lord.

The shepherds hastened to Bethlehem to find it as the angels had said. They found Mary and Joseph and the Babe lying in a manger. God in a cradle! Upon hearing from the shepherds about the heavenly declaration, Mary placed the event alongside the message of Gabriel, pondering them in her heart. And she knew that God had fulfilled His promise. The shepherds returned to their work, carrying back into their mundane sphere the memory of an experience which would forever cast an aura of glory about them and about all others who in humble trust some to Him who fills the universe with His presence, yet who for a little while was contained in a baby’s impromptu cradle – a manger!

How about you and your family as you share and reflect this story about the first Christmas Eve? Has that manger scene in your home now risen in its meaning among all the other Christmas decorations and symbols of today’s Christmas season?

Rather than read the cute but created story about “Twas the Night Before Christmas” to your children, maybe this year you will read them the real, God-inspired true story about “The Night that Brought Christmas into the World!”

God bless, and Merry Christmas!

God’s Creation Brings Life and Light

baby brotherGod’s Message to My Grandchildren

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Title: God’s Creation Brings Life and Light

Text: Genesis 1:1-2:4 (The Message)

This is the story of how it all started, of Heaven and Earth when they were created.

First this: God created the Heavens and Earth—all you see, all you don’t see. Earth was a soup of nothingness, a bottomless emptiness, an inky blackness. God’s Spirit brooded like a bird above the watery abyss.

God spoke: “Light!” And light appeared. God saw that light was good and separated light from dark. God named the light Day, he named the dark Night. It was evening, it was morning—Day One.

God spoke: “Sky! In the middle of the waters; separate water from water!” God made sky. He separated the water under sky from the water above sky. And there it was: he named sky the Heavens; It was evening, it was morning—Day Two.

God spoke: “Separate! Water-beneath-Heaven, gather into one place; Land, appear!” And there it was. God named the land Earth. He named the pooled water Ocean. God saw that it was good.

God spoke: “Earth, green up! Grow all varieties of seed-bearing plants,Every sort of fruit-bearing tree.” And there it was. Earth produced green seed-bearing plants, all varieties, and fruit-bearing trees of all sorts. God saw that it was good. It was evening, it was morning—Day Three.

God spoke: “Lights! Come out! Shine in Heaven’s sky! Separate Day from Night. Mark seasons and days and years, Lights in Heaven’s sky to give light to Earth.” And there it was. God made two big lights, the larger to take charge of Day, the smaller to be in charge of Night; and he made the stars. God placed them in the heavenly sky to light up Earth and oversee Day and Night, to separate light and dark. God saw that it was good. It was evening, it was morning—Day Four.

God spoke: “Swarm, Ocean, with fish and all sea life!Birds, fly through the sky over Earth!” God created the huge whales, all the swarm of life in the waters, and every kind and species of flying birds. God saw that it was good. God blessed them: “Prosper! Reproduce! Fill Ocean! Birds, reproduce on Earth!” It was evening, it was morning—Day Five.

God spoke: “Earth, generate life! Every sort and kind:cattle and reptiles and wild animals—all kinds.” And there it was: wild animals of every kind, cattle of all kinds, every sort of reptile and bug. God saw that it was good.

God spoke: “Let us make human beings in our image, make them reflecting our nature so they can be responsible for the fish in the sea, the birds in the air, the cattle, and, yes, Earth itself, and every animal that moves on the face of Earth.” God created human beings; he created them god-like, reflecting God’s nature. He created them male and female. God blessed them: “Prosper! Reproduce! Fill Earth! Take charge! Be responsible for fish in the sea and birds in the air, for every living thing that moves on the face of Earth.” Then God said, “I’ve given you every sort of seed-bearing plant on Earth and every kind of fruit-bearing tree, given them to you for food. To all animals and all birds, everything that moves and breathes, I give whatever grows out of the ground for food.” And there it was. God looked over everything he had made; it was so good, so very good! It was evening, it was morning—Day Six.

Heaven and Earth were finished, down to the last detail. By the seventh day God had finished his work. On the seventh day he rested from all his work. God blessed the seventh day. He made it a Holy Day because on that day he rested from his work, all the creating God had done.

Truth: Everything, absolutely everything in this world has a beginning, and each beginning is a gift from God.

Thoughts: Is God silent today? Did God create everything and then sit in heaven and watch His creation grow on its own? Do you believe that God is still in the creation business everyday?

How did your baby brother or sister come into this world knowing how to breath? Who caused him or her to come into being inside of mommy? How did his or her heart begin to beat?

What causes you to grow everyday, getting taller and stronger? Where do some of your thoughts come from that you think about? Why is it that you do not have to think about breathing or the beating of your heart?

What about the birds in the sky, the animals all around us, the bugs and insects, the fish in the water – where did they come from? Who created all of the many, many types of birds, animals, bugs, insects, and fish? Why do you think there are so many different shapes and sizes and colors of trees, bushes, flowers, and crops?

Who directs the wind, the rain, the sun, and the stars?

God is not a one-time creator. God is with us every day. God is behind all the change that happens to each of us and everything in this world. Without God we would not be here today. Why does God work so hard? He loves His creation, and that means you and your family. God is still speaking to us today so we can see Him in our daily lives.

God shares His love so that we can learn to love each other…

Why do Brothers and Sisters Fight?

Kids tug o warGod’s Message to My Grandchildren  

 

 

 

 

 

 

Title: Why do Brothers and Sisters Fight?

Genesis 4:1-10 (The Message)

Adam slept with Eve his wife. She conceived and had Cain. She said, “I’ve gotten a man, with God’s help!” Then she had another baby, Abel.

Abel was a herdsman and Cain a farmer.

Time passed.

Cain brought an offering to God from the produce of his farm. Abel also brought an offering, but from the firstborn animals of his herd, choice cuts of meat.

God liked Abel and his offering, but Cain and his offering didn’t get his approval.

Cain lost his temper and went into a sulk (pouted and was sad).

God spoke to Cain: “Why this tantrum? Why the sulking? If you do well, won’t you be accepted? And if you don’t do well, sin is lying in wait for you, ready to pounce; it’s out to get you, you’ve got to master it.”

Cain had words with his brother. They were out in the field; Cain came at Abel his brother and killed him.

God said to Cain, “Where is Abel your brother?”

He said, “How should I know? Am I his babysitter?”

God said, “What have you done! The voice of your brother’s blood is calling to me from the ground.

Truth: Look to please God and your parents. Do not try to be like your brothers or sisters. We are all different and have special talents and gifts. You should be pleased if your brothers or sisters do well, even if this time you did not do as well as them. Anger is the enemy of love in the family.

Thoughts: Right after Adam and Eve left the Garden of Eden, God blessed them with their first two children, Cain and Abel. Both were very different in what they were good at doing. Cain was the farmer of the crops in the fields and Abel was a farmer of the animals. However, Cain became jealous of Abel because he was doing something different than Cain and God was seemingly more pleased with Abel and his efforts. Cain wanted God to tell him the same thing but rather than work harder at being a farmer of the crops in the field, Cain got angry at Abel and his anger caused a fight that sadly killed Abel. God, our heavenly Father, came to Cain and asked Cain what happened, but Cain would not admit to his anger and what he had done wrong. So God told him you cannot hide the evidence of your actions against your brother. And then God said to Cain, “You have acted wrong against your brother, your parents, and against the love I have for you, and you will be punished.” Then, God sent Cain away from his family. God would continue to protect Cain from harm, but would no longer allow him to be with his family.

Why do brothers and sisters fight with each other?

Do you ever get jealous of what they are doing?

Do you want to get the attention they may be getting from mom and dad?

If your brother or sister is playing with a toy and they seem to be having fun, do you ever get jealous and want that toy to play with, but all you do is cause a fight when you try to get it from your brother or sister?

When we get selfish – only worry about ourselves and not the good of others – God’s love is not being shared in us. In God’s eyes, you, your brothers and sisters and your mommy and daddy are all special to God. Sometimes because of something we say or do we may get extra attention from our family, but that does not make you more special than your brothers or sisters. Never try to be like your brothers or sisters, or special friends you know. You can be happy for them because they can do some things really well, but you too are special. Always try your best and know you are special too. God loves you as you are! It never pays to get angry, because so many other people get hurt by your anger. Share God’s love and every one will smile at you.

Quit Fussing and Fretting, Luke 12:22-34

Luke12_22God’s Message to My Grandchildren

 

 

 

 

 

Title: Quit Fussing and Fretting, Luke 12:22-34
He continued this subject with his disciples. “Don’t fuss about what’s on the table at mealtimes or if the clothes in your closet are in fashion. There is far more to your inner life than the food you put in your stomach, more to your outer appearance than the clothes you hang on your body. Look at the ravens, free and unfettered, not tied down to a job description, carefree in the care of God. And you count far more.

“Has anyone by fussing before the mirror ever gotten taller by so much as an inch? If fussing can’t even do that, why fuss at all?

Walk into the fields and look at the wildflowers. They don’t fuss with their appearance—but have you ever seen color and design quite like it? The ten best-dressed men and women in the country look shabby alongside them. If God gives such attention to the wildflowers, most of them never even seen, don’t you think he’ll attend to you, take pride in you, do his best for you?

“What I’m trying to do here is get you to relax, not be so preoccupied with getting so you can respond to God’s giving. People who don’t know God and the way he works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how he works. Steep yourself in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met. Don’t be afraid of missing out. You’re my dearest friends! The Father wants to give you the very kingdom itself.

“Be generous. Give to the poor. Get yourselves a bank that can’t go bankrupt, a bank in heaven far from bankrobbers, safe from embezzlers, a bank you can bank on. It’s obvious, isn’t it? The place where your treasure is, is the place you will most want to be, and end up being.”

Truth: God has created us so that you can have choices about your life: You can decide what you will be like as you grow up. You can value what you think is most important to you. But, I want to remind you that God wants you to know that what you will value most in your life – what you will fuss and fret about the most – will reveal if your heart is focused on you or Him first and most importantly. God wants your choices to be choices He would like for you.

Application: Do you truly believe that you know what is best for yourself? Do you remember all of the days since before you were even born or only those days you want to remember? Well, it is important to know how well God knows you: God knew you before you were even born, and He knows about everything you have said, thought or done since you were born. He knows all about your past. Cab you say that you remember everything like God does? Do you know what tomorrow will bring for your life, or what about in another year? God knows what everyday of your life will be like before it happens. So, who knows your needs the best? You or God?

Those without God in their life are never happy or satisfied. Even the famous and rich can become very unhappy and troubled with their fame or wealth. They spend their money on themselves trying hard to please themselves, but they can never find contentment or happiness. What you will learn that many others before have discovered is that you can never buy happiness or contentment. Happiness is God’s blessing to those He calls His own. Contentment is a state of mind that puts a smile on your face everyday, once you believe in your heart that God promises to provide and protect you – that He knows best what is right and good for you. Your daddy and poppy love you, but we too know how great God’s love is for you too.

So listen to what God says: “Quit your fussing and fretting – Quit fighting with yourself and others! Know I am God, your God who loves you and wants to care for you.” (Psalm 46:10)

My best advice to you: Forget yesterday. Don’t worry about tomorrow. Live today knowing God loves you. Enjoy everyday as a gift from God who knows you so well and wants you to make all the right choices as you grow up.

Life Requires Faith & Courage, Luke 9:18-27

God’s Message to My Grandchildren

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Title: Life Requires Faith & Courage, Luke 9:18-27

 
One time when Jesus was off praying by himself, his disciples nearby, he asked them, “What are the crowds saying about me, about who I am?”

They said, “John the Baptizer. Others say Elijah. Still others say that one of the prophets from long ago has come back.”

He then asked, “And you—what are you saying about me? Who am I?”

Peter answered, “The Messiah of God.”

Jesus then warned them to keep it quiet. They were to tell no one what Peter had said. He went on, “It is necessary that the Son of Man proceed to an ordeal of suffering, be tried and found guilty by the religious leaders, high priests, and religion scholars, be killed, and on the third day be raised up alive.”

Then he told them what they could expect for themselves: “Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead. You’re not in the driver’s seat—I am. Don’t run from suffering; embrace it. Follow me and I’ll show you how. Self-help is no help at all. Self-sacrifice is the way, my way, to finding yourself, your true self. What good would it do to get everything you want and lose you, the real you?

“If any of you is embarrassed with me and the way I’m leading you, know that the Son of Man will be far more embarrassed with you when he arrives in all his splendor in company with the Father and the holy angels. This isn’t, you realize, pie in the sky by and by. Some who have taken their stand right here are going to see it happen, see with their own eyes the kingdom of God.”

Truth: Jesus took this opportunity to discuss with His disciples that real living – a life with an eternal or heavenly view – requires “faith” to follow what the Lord says and where He may lead, as well as the “courage” to accept the obstacles and threats that may come because others may want to fight you along the way. But, you must not stumble on your own pride and stop following to fight back. It is not an easy life to follow, but it is worth the reward!

Application: The timing of this meeting with His disciples was just after they had been out on their own sharing the Good News they had received from Jesus. They had been visiting and preaching throughout the countryside and ran into many situations because of their relationship and association with Jesus. They heard people discuss what they thought about Jesus. Sometimes it was good things they heard and other times bad things. So, Jesus wanted to share some hard truths with His disciples because there will come a time when they will be on their own and Jesus will be no longer available to them as they knew it then.

Jesus asked them first to clarify what they heard about Jesus: Who do they say I am? There was obvious uncertainty on that question. No one they met had the right answer. So Jesus then asks the disciples, “Who do you say I am?” Peter, speaking for the other disciples immediately shouts out – “You are the Messiah of God!” Or, in other words: They knew Jesus as the specially chosen and promised Savior for God’s people.

And today, Jesus remains God’s specially chosen and promised Savior for you too! He earned that title with honor because as He promised He knew people would rise up against Him and accuse Him, put Him on trial, and then execute Him, not because of what He did, but what He represented to them: a threat to their selfish lifestyles! Jesus shared openly to them that following was a sign of glorifying and honoring God. However, the fact remains that most people in this world prefer to lead their own lives and sacrifice nothing. In fact, if given the opportunity, these selfish people would prefer that you sacrifice your life for their benefit.

But is that what Jesus was trying to teach His disciples? What do you think matters.

Jesus told His disciples that a life that honors God, trusts Him, and seeks the life God promises includes a heavenly home as a reward. If that is your life choice then you must not only recognize who Jesus is, but also follow Him and obey His Way, His Truth and His Life, because only by following Him will you discover your Heavenly Father waiting with open arms for you. (John 14:6) However, Jesus declares there will be trials, times of testing, and tribulation that may come along the way in the life that He leads, but your “faith and courage” are God’s gift to you to face those challenges, because Jesus desires to introduce you to your Heavenly Father as one of His followers.

The choice though is yours to make! You can try to control your own life now, which will deny the values and promises of God in this life, or you will choose the life that God has promised and follow the lead of Jesus as your Savior, as God the Father looks on with a smile of approval.

Which choice you make will be up to you! However, just know your family is praying for you to choose life with God, because we all are looking forward to the day we all will share a new home together in heaven together as we walk with Jesus as one happy family.

Warning: Understanding & Obedience is Contagious, Luke 8:16-25

God’s Message to My Grandchildren

 

 

 

 

Title: Warning: Understanding & Obedience is Contagious

Text: Luke 8:16-25

“No one lights a lamp and then covers it with a washtub or shoves it under the bed. No, you set it up on a lamp stand so those who enter the room can see their way.

“We’re not keeping secrets; we’re telling them. We’re not hiding things; we’re bringing everything out into the open. So be careful that you don’t become misers of what you hear.

“Generosity begets generosity. Stinginess impoverishes.”

(Shortly after saying this) His mother and brothers showed up but couldn’t get through to him because of the crowd.

He was given the message, “Your mother and brothers are standing outside wanting to see you.”

He replied, “My mother and brothers are the ones who hear and do God’s Word. Obedience is thicker than blood.”

One day (shortly afterwards) he and his disciples got in a boat.

“Let’s cross the lake,” he said.

And off they went. It was smooth sailing, and he fell asleep.

A terrific storm came up suddenly on the lake. Water poured in, and they were about to capsize.

They woke Jesus: “Master, Master, we’re going to drown!”

Getting to his feet, he told the wind, “Silence!” and the waves, “Quiet down!”

They did it. The lake became smooth as glass.

Then he said to his disciples, “Why can’t you trust me?”

They were in absolute awe, staggered and stammering, “Who is this, anyway? He calls out to the winds and sea, and they do what he tells them!”

Truth: Understanding and obedience comes from finding value in what you hear. Jesus clearly teaches us there is great value in not just knowing what He teaches but in living it out by your words and actions seen by others. Understanding and obedience is highly contagious!

Thoughts: In this passage from Luke’s Gospel account, Jesus ties in three ways of revealing the value of listening and then applying what you hear as your act of obedience.

First, Jesus says plainly whatever you hear from someone that is of importance and value to your life, you should not hide the truths, but let them be reflected in your life – so others can see too. Truth should be shared! Money, even gold and silver, has no value unless it is used. How will you know the value of something unless you reveal it before others? Truth from God has greater value than all the gold and silver and money this world can ever offer you.

Second, Jesus plainly says unless you listen and obey His truths how can you be a part of His family as you claim to be? The same is true with listening and obeying your own parents? If you never listen and obey what they tell you, what are you really saying to your parents? If you love your mother and father, you will listen and obey them. God said plainly to His family of believers, if you love me, you will obey Me! Are you a good listener? Do you want to please your parents? What about Jesus?

Third, Jesus uses a famous story about when He took the disciples out onto the lake and He went to sleep on the boat, but a great storm came upon them. Winds tossed the boat, waves crashed over the sides of the boat, and the rain and lightning scared the disciples. They ran to wake Jesus afraid for their lives. Jesus got up and with simple words caused the wind, rain and waves to stop! The disciples were amazed that the wind, rain and waves obeyed Jesus better than they did. Jesus was sad because He asked them, “Don’t you trust me?”

If you value what you hear, learn to trust it. There will be storms that come up in your life to test whether you listened and believed what you heard from God. The same is true of your parents: If you trust what they tell you, then obey what they tell you. Like Jesus, your parents love you too and will not let the storms of life hurt you either.

Finally, remember how you listen and understand what you hear should be seen by others. Understanding and Obedience of truth is worth sharing with others. If you trust Jesus, in the next storm you will not wake Jesus but crawl up next to him and sleep in peace like Him.

True Belief Requires Being What You Believe, Luke 6:43-49

God’s Message to My Grandchildren

 

 

 

 

Title: True Belief Requires Being What You Believe

Text: Luke 6:43-49

(Jesus said to His followers) You don’t get wormy apples off a healthy tree, nor good apples off a diseased tree. The health of the apple tells the health of the tree. You must begin with your own life-giving lives.

“It’s who you are, not what you say and do, that counts. Your true being brims over into true words and deeds.

“Why are you so polite with me, always saying ‘Yes, sir,’ and ‘That’s right, sir,’ but never doing a thing I tell you? These words I speak to you are not mere additions to your life, homeowner improvements to your standard of living. They are foundation words, words to build a life on.

“If you work the words into your life, you are like a smart carpenter who dug deep and laid the foundation of his house on bedrock. When the river burst its banks and crashed against the house, nothing could shake it; it was built to last. But if you just use my words in Bible studies and don’t work them into your life, you are like a dumb carpenter who built a house but skipped the foundation. When the swollen river came crashing in, it collapsed like a house of cards. It was a total loss.”

Truth: The fruit (what you produce by your words, attitude and actions) your life reveals everyday speaks about the truth of your heart’s health and foundation. In other words, your behavior before others will speak louder than what you say about what you believe in your heart.

Thoughts: Jesus uses three great statements in this passage to reveal that belief or our faith is not not just something we say we have. Genuine belief is something that must become anchored deeply within our heart so that everything we say, do and even our attitude honors what we believe.

What happens in an farmer’s orchard if he finds an apple tree among all the other apple trees is producing nothing but bad, insect infested apples? If you were the farmer, what would you do? If that apple tree was a risk of spreading its disease to the other trees what would you do? Jesus says plainly a bad tree cannot produce good fruit, and nor should a good tree be able to bear bad fruit.

How many of you can relate to what Jesus said to His followers who said they loved what He said and wanted to follow Him? How many have said yes sir or no sir to your father but did not mean it? Can you really please your father or mother simply by saying the right things without changing your words, actions and attitude? How much value is there in the words “I am sorry”, if you really do not mean it?

Finally, Jesus reminds us to build a life of faith we must build our life on a solid foundation. To do so takes extra effort and time. We must shovel all the dirt in our life away and find the solid rock of our faith which is found in God’s Son, Jesus Christ. His words and Spirit of truth must become the foundation or rock that we build our life. If you try to take a shortcut and start building before you have shoveled away and removed all the dirt in your life when the storms of life come your life will be like the house that gets washed away because it did not have a strong anchor hold on its foundation, as Jesus suggested we do.

Genuine belief is not something we say we have, belief is an action word that requires daily shoveling away the disease and dirt in our life – all the bad things in our life – and building upon the things that Jesus would smile about. Your words, actions and attitude toward others must make the good fruit of your life. Only then can you claim to be a good tree, or that you are seeking daily to honor Jesus with a life that pleases God the Father.

A genuine child of God will always be good and never has to tell others about their beliefs with words, their actions and attitude will testify much louder and more convincingly than anything we can say. Jesus said it this way, in time our words and actions will reveal the truth about the condition of our heart. Do you have to convince others that you are good, or do they already say that about you?

The Blind Cannot Lead the Blind, Luke 6:35-42

God’s Message to My Grandchildren

 

 

 

Title: The Blind Cannot Lead the Blind

Text: Luke 6:35-42

I tell you, love your enemies. Help and give without expecting a return. You’ll never—I promise—regret it. Live out this God-created identity the way our Father lives toward us, generously and graciously, even when we’re at our worst.

Our Father is kind; you be kind.

“Don’t pick on people, jump on their failures, criticize their faults—unless, of course, you want the same treatment. Don’t condemn those who are down; that hardness can boomerang. Be easy on people; you’ll find life a lot easier.

“Give away your life; you’ll find life given back, but not merely given back—given back with bonus and blessing. Giving, not getting, is the way. Generosity begets generosity.”

He quoted a proverb: ” ‘Can a blind man guide a blind man?’ Wouldn’t they both end up in the ditch? An apprentice doesn’t lecture the master. The point is to be careful who you follow as your teacher.

“It’s easy to see a smudge on your neighbor’s face and be oblivious to the ugly sneer on your own. Do you have the nerve to say, ‘Let me wash your face for you,’ when your own face is distorted by contempt? It’s this I-know-better-than-you mentality again, playing a holier-than-thou part instead of just living your own part. Wipe that ugly sneer off your own face and you might be fit to offer a washcloth to your neighbor.”

Truth: Never lift yourself up so high that you evaluate others according to what you think is right and good while there remain wrong and bad habits and attitudes that God is working out in your own life. Love others as God loves them, just as He loves you too.

Thoughts: Wait a minute Jesus, are you asking us to love even the unlovable people in our lives? YES! This is exactly what Jesus is saying. It is far too easy to love those who love you and are lovable in our eyes, but think how more valuable it is to love those who are hard to love. We need to be as gracious and generous with others in our life just as God is gracious and generous with us. Our kindness and patience with others must seek always to be measured by God’s kindness and patience.

When is it ever right for you to judge others? Who made you a worthy judge? This world has far too many people who would rather be a judge of others than judge their own lives. There can be only one judge, and none of us can qualify to be the judge of others since we have our own mistakes and shortcomings in our life to deal with. Rather than judge, why not lend a hand to others. Seek to connect with others rather than reject others because they are not perfect, just as we are not perfect.

Jesus said it this way, if we are still blind to our own poor and improper attitudes and actions in our own lives, how can we expect to lead others who are just as blind as us to correct their attitudes and actions? Think of a blind man leading another blind man – neither knows where they are walking. What will be the likely outcome for both of the blind men?

Finally, before you set yourself up to judge others spend time in the mirror and make sure you are acceptable before God who is your judge first and foremost. Never set yourself up as the expert on right and wrong, because you will be judged more harshly for how you judge others. Become a friend first. You must earn the right to help others. A true friend always helps others to be better, and never tears others down to make themselves feel better.

These are not just practical guidelines. These are truths about relationships that Jesus honors. Your life will be filled with less obstacles and challenges from others if you choose to live life being generous and gracious towards others. People are drawn to people who will help them become better and they will feel safer and more secure. People will follow those who reveal the right and good way to live, rather than just tell them what is wrong and bad about their lives.

My final advice on this subject is this: Never seek to be the lone leader trying to lead others on your own. Rather, show others how to follow you as you follow in the footsteps of Jesus as your leader and role model. Others should find Jesus by following you.

Living Like Christ Will Not Be Easy, Luke 6:20-26, 31-33

God’s Message to My Grandchildren

 

 

 

 

Title: Living Like Christ Will Not Be Easy

Text: Luke 6:20-26, 31-33

(When Jesus first called his disciples together and they were about to meet and greet the first crowd of people, Jesus gave these instructions to His disciples – the first Christians. A message for all those who desire to follow and be like Christ.)

“You’re blessed when you’ve lost it all. God’s kingdom is there for the finding.

“You’re blessed when you’re ravenously hungry. Then you’re ready for the Messianic meal (having fellowship with God).

“You’re blessed when the tears flow freely. Joy comes with the morning.

“Count yourself blessed every time someone cuts you down or throws you out, every time someone smears or blackens your name to discredit me. What it means is that the truth is too close for comfort and that that person is uncomfortable. You can be glad when that happens—skip like a lamb, if you like!—for even though they don’t like it, I do… and all heaven applauds. And know that you are in good company; my preachers and witnesses have always been treated like this.”

(So in comparison to the attitudes blessed above, see how Jesus wants us to act when we choose to behave and act like the rest of the world.)

“But it’s trouble ahead if you think you have it made. What you have is all you’ll ever get.

“And it’s trouble ahead if you’re satisfied with yourself. Your self will not satisfy you for long.

“And it’s trouble ahead if you think life’s all fun and games. There’s suffering to be met, and you’re going to meet it.”

(Although reading through all of Chapter 6 will be helpful, here is the summary when in doubt about how to behave when you are in contact with other people in your life – family, friends or strangers.)

“Here is a simple rule of thumb for behavior: Ask yourself what you want people to do for you; then grab the initiative and do it for them! If you only love the lovable, do you expect a pat on the back? Run-of-the-mill sinners do that. If you only help those who help you, do you expect a medal? Garden-variety sinners do that.”

Truth: All Christians are called to make a difference in their world by their actions, attitude, and their words that they share with others. All Christians should know it is God Himself who they are trying to please, not the people of this world. Likewise, you are not to respond to others in the same manner they may treat you, but in the manner that you, a follower of Christ, know is the right way even you would like to be treated.

Thoughts: In this world, this is a fact you will learn by experience: You will never cause someone to like you because you tried to be like them and let them take advantage of you. Also, that does not mean you can change them because you fought with them to show them that you were better and stronger either! That is how wars get started!

What Jesus reveals is that you will win more people by treating others as you want to be treated. You will be surprised that all other people desire from a friend is to be valued and feel that someone genuinely cares about them. Isn’t that exactly as Jesus did when He was around people? Isn’t that what you would like from others?

In walking with the right attitude as a Christian, Jesus summed it up as you read above this way:

1. Don’t focus on what you or others have or do not have. God does not measure the value of a person by the things they have accumulated in this life, nor should you value others by whether they are rich or poor, or what you can get from having them as a friend. There will always be people richer than you, and certainly more that are poorer when it comes to money and things – but if you have a real love relationship with God, you will always be rich in this lifetime.

2. Don’t focus on your needs in life as your priority. God knows what you need and He promises to provide for you. Focus your life on the needs of others. If all you focus on is yourself, life will be a very lonely place to be for you. God wants you to enjoy not only His fellowship, but also the fellowship of others who share the same concerns for each other. A friendship circle is to be cherished and nourished because genuine friends take care of friends, and no lone is left out or left behind.

3. Do not think bad things do not happen to good people – tough times can happen to us all. God did not stop the people from beating and humiliating Jesus, nor did He stop them from even killing him on the Cross. Life will have tough times for you and your friends, but remember God always has our best interests in mind through the bad times too! There will be people who will pretend to be your friends but disappoint you and even try to hurt you, and there may be people you do not even know who do not like you because you represent Jesus. These people hate Jesus so much that they will seek to harm you to get even. But know that God loves you and will protect you whenever that happens.

As long as you have a strong circle of friends and family, you will be rich in this lifetime. Love and friendship have far more lasting value than gold! That is why Jesus shared also with His disciples: You cannot worship “money” and “God” at the same time. Think carefully which should be the focus of your life, the choice will have an impact on all the relationships you will have in this world.

Be Ready, The Devil will Test & Tempt You! Luke 4:1-13

God’s Message to My Grandchildren

 

 

 

 

Title: Be Ready, The Devil will Test & Tempt You!

Text: Luke 4:1-13

(After growing up into a young man, Jesus at 30 years of age began His mission of sharing the good news message from God. He had been identified at His baptism as God’s special Son, and it was time for Jesus to begin pursuing His Heavenly Father’s mission for Him. But first,  God sent Him into the desert to spend 40 days alone being tested and tempted. God used the Devil to demonstrate that Jesus was ready to accomplish what God asked Him to do.)

Now Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, left the Jordan (where He was baptized) and was led by the Spirit into the wild. For forty wilderness days and nights he was tested by the Devil. He ate nothing during those days, and when the time was up he was hungry.

The Devil, playing on his hunger, gave the first test: “Since you’re God’s Son, command this stone to turn into a loaf of bread.”

Jesus answered by quoting Deuteronomy: “It takes more than bread to really live.”

For the second test he led him up and spread out all the kingdoms of the earth on display at once. Then the Devil said, “They’re yours in all their splendor to serve your pleasure. I’m in charge of them all and can turn them over to whomever I wish. Worship me and they’re yours, the whole works.”

Jesus refused, again backing his refusal with Deuteronomy: “Worship the Lord your God and only the Lord your God. Serve him with absolute single-heartedness.”

For the third test the Devil took him to Jerusalem and put him on top of the Temple. He said, “If you are God’s Son, jump. It’s written, isn’t it, that ‘he has placed you in the care of angels to protect you; they will catch you; you won’t so much as stub your toe on a stone’?”

“Yes,” said Jesus, “and it’s also written, ‘Don’t you dare tempt the Lord your God.’ “

That completed the testing. The Devil retreated temporarily, lying in wait for another opportunity.

Truth: If you desire to become a child of God, like Jesus, you will be tested and tempted. Being a Christian does not mean there will be no challenges or threats in your life. In fact, expect and be prepared for times when you will be tested and tempted because of your relationship with God.

Thoughts: This story about Jesus reveals three ways you will be likely tempted and tested by the Devil. But, trust this truth: God does not allow the Devil to do anything that God does not want you to handle. So why does God want you to go through tough times?

Well, to begin with, even the brother of Jesus said (ref James 1:2-4) – “Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely (there are no short-cuts). Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.”

God wants you to become the best you can be, and it may mean He will bring times of testing to make you stronger and thus making you aware of areas in your life that need to be better. God wants you to be worthy to help others to follow in your footsteps, just as Jesus led His disciples.

The three ways the Devil will test you are as Jesus was tested & tempted. The Devil will test –

1. Your concern for your daily needs.

2. Your desire for influence over others.

3. Your faith in God and His promises.

Jesus responded well to each of these temptations, and so can you.

1. God promises to supply all our daily needs. Our hunger and thirst should be greater than our daily food and water, where you will live or how you will be able to provide for all your daily needs. Our faith should be in God’s promise to take care of us. Jesus mentions our daily bread in the Lord’s prayer as coming from God, not the world. Jesus also said “You’re blessed (will know true happiness) when you’ve worked up a good appetite for God. He’s food and drink in the best meal you’ll ever eat.” Matthew 5:6

2. Jesus plainly said to the Devil that you can never receive lasting pleasure from others. You cannot make others love you or make you feel good. However, if you pursue the approval of God, you will find the joy in your life that will last. Jesus said this about the kind of life we should have with others: “You’re blessed (know true happiness) when you can show people how to cooperate instead of compete or fight. That’s when you discover who you really are, and your place in God’s family” Matt 5:9. All power and authority rest with God. If you try to exercise what you think is your power and authority over others, your relationship with God will suffer.

3. Your relationship with God must be like Jesus had with His Father – a life of absolute faith. There is never a reason you should have to test God and His promises. There is enough evidence in your life and the lives of your family and friends to strengthen your faith relationship with God. Jesus clearly talked about God’s love for you when He said: “This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life. God didn’t go to all the trouble of sending his Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again. Anyone who trusts in him is acquitted; anyone who refuses to trust him has long since been under the death sentence without knowing it. And why? Because of that person’s failure to believe in the one-of-a-kind Son of God when introduced to him.” John 3:16-18

The final point is this: The better you understand the three ways that the Devil will attack you and challenge your relationship with God, the more you understand that the Devil will lurk in your life looking for another time to test you again and again. The more you love God, the more jealous the Devil is of that love and he will try to destroy that love relationship. But God says this: “You’re blessed (will know true happiness) when your commitment to God provokes persecution. The persecution drives you even deeper into God’s kingdom. ‘Not only that—count yourselves blessed every time people put you down or throw you out or speak lies about you to discredit me. What it means is that the truth is too close for comfort and they are uncomfortable. You can be glad when that happens—give a cheer, even!—for though they don’t like it, I do! And all heaven applauds. And know that you are in good company. My prophets and witnesses have always gotten into this kind of trouble.” Matt 5:10-12

Walk in the footsteps of Jesus by faith, trust His message, and you will be blessed. The Devil’s ways will never bring you anything but regret and sadness. I pray you never have to learn this lesson the hard way, so I pray you will trust in God’s ways!

Growing Up Like Jesus, Luke 2:41-52

God’s Message to My Grandchildren

 

 

 

 

Title: Growing Up Like Jesus

Text: Luke 2:41-52

Every year Jesus’ parents traveled to Jerusalem for the Feast of Passover. When he was twelve years old, they went up as they always did for the Feast. When it was over and they left for home, the child Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem, but his parents didn’t know it.

Thinking he was somewhere in the company of pilgrims, they journeyed for a whole day and then began looking for him among relatives and neighbors. When they didn’t find him, they went back to Jerusalem looking for him.

The next day they found him in the Temple seated among the teachers, listening to them and asking questions. The teachers were all quite taken with him, impressed with the sharpness of his answers.

But his parents were not impressed; they were upset and hurt. His mother said, “Young man, why have you done this to us? Your father and I have been half out of our minds looking for you.”

He said, “Why were you looking for me? Didn’t you know that I had to be here, dealing with the things of my Father?”

But they had no idea what he was talking about. So he went back to Nazareth with them, and lived obediently with them. His mother held these things dearly, deep within herself.

And Jesus matured, growing up in both body and spirit, blessed by both God and people.

Truth: Honor your Heavenly Father and your earthly father too! Learn to be respectful and obedient to your parents so that you can grow up smarter, taller, stronger and closer to God too! Your heavenly Father deserves your attention, but so does your earthly father (and mom) too! God holds them accountable for how they guide and provide for you.

Thoughts: In this passage the young boy named Jesus was taught from His early childhood about God, His Heavenly Father, and Jesus took every opportunity to get to honor and to know him. However, even Jesus had to be reminded that though it is good to seek after His Heavenly Father and to learn more about Him every day, He was responsible to His parents, and to neglect obeying and respecting them was an offense to God, His Heavenly Father too!

Each of you should follow in the footsteps of Jesus and seek to know as much as you can about many things. It is good to exercise and practice all the gifts and talents God has given you from your birth, but do not forget to obey and respect your parents. God holds them responsible for your well-being and up-bringing. They are there to help you to grow up smarter, stronger, taller and closer to God.

Mary and Joseph knew Jesus would live a life different from the other children his age, and Jesus would spend much of His time studying and learning to be closer to God, His Heavenly Father. But, Jesus also learned how important it was for Him to honor and respect His parents, who were also a gift from God to Him.

As you grow, just like Jesus, understand the importance of learning how to grow outwardly (in body), upwardly (in Godliness), and inwardly (in mind). You may not become the smartest, strongest or fastest, but you can grow up to be all that God, your Heavenly Father, has created you to become. No one can be who you were created to become, but you! Be the best you, you can possibly become, pleasing your parents and your Heavenly Father – Jesus did it, and so can you!

And, like Jesus, you will grow blessing and being blessed by both God and all the people in your life, especially your Grandfather (who will always be proud of you and your parents).

Thanksgiving, a Love Gift from God, Luke 2:21-39

God’s Message to My Grandchildren

 

 

 

 

 

 

Title: Thanksgiving, a Love Gift from God

Text: Luke 2:21-39

When the eighth day arrived after his birth, the child was named Jesus, the name given to Mary by the angel Gabriel months before he was born. Then when the days for purification were complete, they took him up to Jerusalem to offer him to God as commanded in God’s Law: “Every male who opens the womb shall be a holy offering to God,” and also to sacrifice the “pair of doves or two young pigeons” prescribed in God’s Law.

In Jerusalem at the time, there was a man, Simeon by name, a good man, a man who lived in the prayerful expectancy of help for Israel. And the Holy Spirit was on him. The Holy Spirit had shown him that he would see the Messiah of God before he died.

Led by the Spirit, he entered the Temple. As the parents of the child Jesus brought him in to carry out the rituals of the Law, Simeon took him into his arms and blessed God: God, you can now release your servant; release me in peace as you promised. With my own eyes I’ve seen your salvation; it’s now out in the open for everyone to see: A God-revealing light to the non-Jewish nations, and of glory for your people Israel.

Jesus’ father and mother were speechless with surprise at these words.

Simeon went on to bless them, and said to Mary his mother, This child marks both the failure and the recovery of many in Israel, a figure misunderstood and contradicted — the pain of a sword-thrust through you — But the rejection will force honesty, as God reveals who they really are.

Anna the prophetess was also there, a daughter of Phanuel from the tribe of Asher. She was by now a very old woman. She had been married seven years 37 and a widow for eighty-four. She never left the Temple area, worshiping night and day with her fastings and prayers.

At the very time Simeon was praying, she showed up, broke into an anthem of praise to God, and talked about the child to all who were waiting expectantly for the freeing of Jerusalem.

When they finished everything required by God in the Law, they returned to Galilee and their own town, Nazareth. There the child grew strong in body and wise in spirit. And the grace of God was on him.

Truth: Learning to say thank you comes from God. Our greatest thank you should be to God for the gift of His son, Jesus.

Thoughts: Shortly after the birth of Jesus the first Thanksgiving came as Joseph and Mary brought the baby Jesus to the Temple complex to be identified or set apart for God. While there, during the ceremony, there were two godly people, Simeon and Anna, both faithful servants of God who recognized Jesus as the Messiah or Savior promised by God, and both offered prayers of praise and thanksgiving to God.

Thanksgiving should be celebrated more than just one day a year.  I do not believe it is a coincidence that Thanksgiving and Christmas are such linked holidays in our life. I pray you will come to realize that “thanksgiving” is a gift of God once you know who Jesus was then and is still, the Son of God born into this world so you can know God’s love for you. When we truly understand the meaning of offering “thanksgiving” to God, it will be a part of our daily prayers to God for all he does everyday.

Just as God is your Heavenly Father and you can be adopted into God’s family as a brother or sister of Jesus, God embraces the value of family. As you sit and eat your meal offer thanksgiving with your family. Remember in your prayer the value that God has placed upon the love of family, and give God the Father the thanks that is due to Him. There is no greater love this world will ever know!

Christmas, An Event for Everyone, Luke 2:1-20

God’s Message to My Grandchildren

 

 

 

 

Title: Christmas, An Event for Everyone

Text: Luke 2:1-20

(God in His timing and under His authority made the circumstances just right for the birth of His Son, Jesus, into the world. His birth came in a unique way that once again accomplished what He promised long before recorded by His prophets and was shared from generation to generation among the people…)

About that time Caesar Augustus (the emperor of the Roman Empire) ordered a census to be taken throughout the Empire. This was the first census when Quirinius was governor of Syria. Everyone had to travel to his own ancestral hometown to be accounted for. So Joseph went from the Galilean town of Nazareth up to Bethlehem in Judah, David’s town, for the census. As a descendant of David, he had to go there. He went with Mary, his fiance’, who was pregnant.

While they were there, the time came for her to give birth. She gave birth to a son, her firstborn. She wrapped him in a blanket and laid him in a manger, because there was no room in the hostel.

There were sheepherders camping in the neighborhood. They had set night watches over their sheep. Suddenly, God’s angel stood among them and God’s glory blazed around them. They were terrified.

The angel said, “Don’t be afraid. I’m here to announce a great and joyful event that is meant for everybody, worldwide: A Savior has just been born in David’s town, a Savior who is Messiah and Master. This is what you’re to look for: a baby wrapped in a blanket and lying in a manger.”

At once the angel was joined by a huge angelic choir singing God’s praises: Glory to God in the heavenly heights, Peace to all men and women on earth who please him.

As the angel choir withdrew into heaven, the sheepherders talked it over. “Let’s get over to Bethlehem as fast as we can and see for ourselves what God has revealed to us.”

They left, running, and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in the manger. Seeing was believing. They told everyone they met what the angels had said about this child. All who heard the sheepherders were impressed.

Mary kept all these things to herself, holding them dear, deep within herself.

The sheepherders returned and let loose, glorifying and praising God for everything they had heard and seen. It turned out exactly the way they’d been told!

Truth: God not only provided the right timing, but also provided the right audience to testify of His Son’s humble birth…Besides his mom and earthly father, with a crowd of strangers that had likewise migrated to Bethlehem for the census, God arranged a host of angels, a small group of lowly shepherds, a generous innkeeper, and of course the animals that shared the stall where Jesus was born.

Thoughts: So why the humble setting with only a few humble people as witnesses? Why not a royal birth in a great palace worthy of a future king? Well, as revealed in the story of His birth, there were those who were jealous of His birth – those who actually feared His birth. King Herod, the earthly king of the Jews certainly was not pleased with the news that Jesus had been born and actually tried to kill the baby. God also did not want the religious leaders of the Jews to know about His birth because they would likely have taken the baby Jesus under their care and taken credit for His development, seeking to influence Him for their benefit and authority. They would be the same group who would ultimately have him arrested and then have Him crucified by the Romans.

Those who would benefit the birth of Jesus the most were chosen – the lowly shepherds and the average people who were huddled in the houses and inns of Bethlehem at that time. They would likely be the ones who pursued Jesus to hear Him share the Good News of God’s love years later as He preached throughout the countryside. Certainly, the angels celebrated because they knew who He was and knew Jesus was the Son of God on mission to reveal God’s love and message to His world personally.

Can you imagine that night of Jesus’ birth? This small town of Bethlehem, or literally “House of Bread”, was overflowing with strangers for certain, but this was also the hometown of Joseph’s family. There would be cousins, aunts and uncles likely who were there for Mary and Joseph and the newborn Jesus in those early days. Likewise, we are told that the shepherds told everyone they found about what they heard and saw that night. Many may not have taken the news to heart those first days of Jesus’ birth, but certainly many years later as Jesus became known to the people for His preaching and miracles, they remembered what they had witnessed that night.

As you think about Christmas this year, consider those who were touched by that first night we celebrate each year. Consider how you might have felt if you were there that first night, and how you would later remember that night if you were to be among the crowds who listened to the man Jesus as He spoke about the kingdom of heaven and God’s love. You may not have fully understood the importance of Jesus’ birth, but you would have come to understand the importance of His life, death and resurrection.

I hope this Christmas, all of you will think about your relationship with who Jesus was in history and how He is in your life today. I hope that Christmas will mean more than Christmas trees and gifts to you this year, and for the rest of your lives. Just as the baby Jesus ultimately changed the lives of all who were in Bethlehem that night long ago, Jesus still is changing lives today.

Why We Celebrate Christmas, Luke 1:26-39

God’s Message to My Grandchildren

 

 

 

 

 

Title: Why We Celebrate Christmas

Text: Luke 1:26-39

(In the land of Judea (formerly called Judah, and now known as the country of Israel), at this point in history, the Roman Empire ruled the known world, but the Jews faithfully waited for the promised Messiah, or God’s anointed Savior, to be made revealed. 200 years have passed since the Jews returned to the Promised Land and rebuilt Jerusalem and its Temple, but they were still under the rule of another conquering empire. It is at this time in history God chooses to introduce His Son through the birth of a baby named Jesus, just as it was promised in the Scriptures that the people of God read and prayed over daily. In this passage,  a young girl named Mary is greeted by God’s angel to tell her that was being chosen by God to give birth to God’s unique and special Son.)

In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s (Mary’s older cousin, or more like an aunt) pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to the Galilean village of Nazareth to a virgin (young unmarried girl) engaged to be married to a man descended from David. His name was Joseph, and the virgin’s name, Mary.

Upon entering, Gabriel greeted her: Good morning! You’re beautiful with God’s beauty. Beautiful inside and out! God be with you.

She was thoroughly shaken, wondering what was behind a greeting like that.

But the angel assured her, “Mary, you have nothing to fear. God has a surprise for you: You will become pregnant and give birth to a son and call his name Jesus. He will be great, be called ‘Son of the Highest.’ The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David; He will rule Jacob’s house forever—no end, ever, to his kingdom.”

Mary said to the angel, “But how? I’ve never slept with a man.”

The angel answered, The Holy Spirit will come upon you, the power of the Highest hover over you; therefore, the child you bring to birth will be called Holy, Son of God.

“And did you know that your cousin Elizabeth conceived a son, old as she is? Everyone called her barren, and here she is six months’ pregnant!
Nothing, you see, is impossible with God.”

And Mary said, Yes, I see it all now: I’m the Lord’s maid, ready to serve. Let it be with me just as you say.

Then the angel left her.

Truth: Christmas is a time of celebration to express our thanks to God for the greatest gift the world has ever known, the birth of His special and unique Son, JESUS. This is the one gift that requires no batteries, and can be shared without the risk of it being broken or lost. It is the gift that keeps giving joy, peace and love year after year after year. It is a gift for young kids and adults too! There is no age limit to receive this gift.

Application: Christmas makes Easter possible. The word Christmas comes from the old church long ago celebrating “Christ Mass” or, a special worship service for the people, or masses, to worship and honor Christ. The early church, about 1800 years ago, wanted to teach about the birth of Christ to the people and give them understanding about who Jesus was and how He was such a gift of love from God. You see, at this time there were no books like we have today, not even the Bible we know today, available to the people. The church presented the message of God to the people through daily services called “Masses,” or gathering of the masses of people. It was at this time, the church decided to identify December 25th as the time to celebrate the Christ Mass because in their culture, they already celebrated an annual winter festival. So the church added the Christ Mass to the festivities to have a more special meaning that focused on the birth of Jesus. In time, the Christ Mass became known as “Christmas.”

Looking back in the Bible, it is important to understand the role of Mary in this story. She was chosen by God because of her pure heart and her family tree was important to God’s purpose and plan for all of His people, including you and I today. She also was promised in marriage to a righteous and good man who also had a good family tree that suited God’s purpose. God sent His #1 angel, Gabriel, to comfort and explain to Mary what was going to happen through her. Gabriel revealed that she would become the mother of God’s unique Son and she would name Him, Jesus.

Why was it important to mention her status as a young unmarried girl? Well, God is always good on fulfilling His Word (His promises) to us. In Isaiah 7:14 we learn of God’s sign to His people about a Savior to be born to a virgin, or young maiden. In Matthew’s birth account it quotes this passage as a fulfillment of the promise. Isaiah 9:6 pointed to Jesus as being born to the world as a gift with a specific purpose and title, “Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.”

If you can believe and celebrate God’s story of His promised Son, He was born into this world as a gift from God, then you can take His Word (the Bible) to be true in other ways as well. As Gabriel shared with Mary, “with God nothing is impossible!” If He can choose to have His Son born into this world, can God have His Son enter into your heart as well? Once you believe the truth about Jesus, you will find God’s special gift for you this and every Christmas is the peace, hope and love of Jesus will be in your heart all year long.

I pray each of you will declare the same statement to God as Mary proclaimed: “Yes, I see it all now: I’m the Lord’s young servant, ready to serve. Let it be with me just as you say.” (For your benefit I changed the word for maid to young servant, but the meaning is the same).

Never forget that Christmas is really meant to be a Christ Mass, or a gathering to share the story of Jesus, God’s love gift to all the World!

More to come about Christmas…

Our Family Tree Matters – It Reveals the Root & Fruit that Matters, Matthew 1:1-17

God’s Message to My Grandchildren

 

 

 

 

Title: Our Family Tree Reveals the Root & Fruit that Matters

Text: Matthew 1:1-17

The family tree of Jesus Christ, David’s son, Abraham’s son:

Abraham had Isaac,Isaac had Jacob,
Jacob had Judah and his brothers,
Judah had Perez and Zerah (the mother was Tamar),
Perez had Hezron,
Hezron had Aram,
Aram had Amminadab,
Amminadab had Nahshon,
Nahshon had Salmon,
Salmon had Boaz (his mother was Rahab),
Boaz had Obed (Ruth was the mother),
Obed had Jesse,

Jesse had David, and David became king.
David had Solomon (Uriah’s wife was the mother),
Solomon had Rehoboam,
Rehoboam had Abijah,
Abijah had Asa,
Asa had Jehoshaphat,
Jehoshaphat had Joram,
Joram had Uzziah,
Uzziah had Jotham,
Jotham had Ahaz,
Ahaz had Hezekiah,
Hezekiah had Manasseh,
Manasseh had Amon,
Amon had Josiah,

Josiah had Jehoiachin and his brothers, and then the people were taken into the Babylonian exile. When the Babylonian exile ended, Jehoiachin had Shealtiel,
Shealtiel had Zerubbabel,
Zerubbabel had Abiud,
Abiud had Eliakim,
Eliakim had Azor,
Azor had Zadok,
Zadok had Achim,
Achim had Eliud,
Eliud had Eleazar,
Eleazar had Matthan,
Matthan had Jacob,
Jacob had Joseph, Mary’s husband, the Mary who gave birth to Jesus, the Jesus who was called Christ.

There were fourteen generations from Abraham to David, another fourteen from David to the Babylonian exile, and yet another fourteen from the Babylonian exile to Christ.

Truth: Who we are is rooted deep in the Family Tree that reveals where you come from! Even Jesus had a family tree rooted well before His birth. His family tree influenced who He was and who He became. The same is true about you.

A true nugget of truth is this: “The nut never falls far from the tree.” In other words, much of who you are is greatly determined by where you came from. The Bible even confirms this principle by the genealogies (one’s family tree) that exists throughout the Bible.

Application: In the family tree of Jesus there are 42 generations from Abraham to Jesus, representing a myriad of family members with one common thread. They revealed the Hebrew (Jewish) connection in their history, which meant they were all connected somehow to the chosen family of God. The same family that sprouted from Abraham eventually migrated to Egypt through the 12 sons of Jacob (who was also known as the family of Israel) and then they were put into slavery by the kings of Egypt, but later in history the families of Israel were freed by God through Moses (Exodus, Numbers, Deuteronomy).

The mention of Rahab as the mother of Boaz points to the days when the families of Israel were brought out of Egypt and entered the Promised Land. Rahab helped them conquer the city of Jericho. (Joshua) Interesting fact: she was not a Hebrew, or originally a family member of Israel, but was a Canaanite woman. And later in the family tree history we find Ruth, a Moabite woman, was married to Boaz, and she birth to the grandfather of King David, the greatest of the Kings of Israel. (Book of Ruth) Why is that important? Yes, the Bible tries to point to Jesus being born of Hebrew lineage, but even He had a lineage that represented ALL people. Isn’t it important that God is the God of ALL people, not just some special people!

After David, the lineage runs through a list of kings who reigned over Israel and Judah – both good and very bad kings (Book of 1-2 Kings, 1-2 Chronicles). Why is that important? Just because some of your family members may have made mistakes or even been considered bad people, or even criminals, does that make you bad or a criminal too? But likewise, just because your family members were great and good people does that guarantee that you will be great and good either? You have the opportunity to choose which you will become by the choices you make. Your personality and many of your physical traits are reflections from your family before you, but you still have a fresh start in the choices you will be able to make.

The listing of the final 14 generations before Jesus was born reflects the wondrous grace of God and His mercy. The original families of Israel, identified as the nations of Israel and Judah, were punished for their disobedience to God. They wanted to believe they were somehow special because of their family tree and could live as they saw fit, but be God would forgive them because they were special. BUT, God tried to tell them that was wrong, and ultimately God allowed them to be conquered by other nations (Books of Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel). The families of Israel were taken away from the Promised Land and scattered all over the foreign lands. During this period in their history the Book of Daniel and Esther were written to speak about what life was like for the people. But then also the Books of Ezra and Nehemiah and Haggai speak about the restoration of the people back to the Promised Land. They rebuilt their cities and the Temple to honor God, but it was never the same as they had once known.

It was through this restoration period of their history they became greatly influenced by other cultures and even they became known as the Jews by the Greeks and Romans who ruled over them. Therefore we have read that Jesus was born a Jew.

As you grow older and find the time, I pray you will read and research each of the family tree members of Jesus, and you will learn how God works through your own family tree with a greater plan and purpose that you may not ever fully understand. However, also learn that history will reveal much to you as you look back on your own family tree. I wonder what the branches and fruit will look like in generations to come from the influence you will have had on your family, just as I wonder about my influence as a grandfather? Will your life make a difference in the future about what kind of fruit or nuts that your family tree will bear? What difference will you make on the roots and fruit of your family tree?

The question you should always ask and investigate an answer to is this: Where did I come from? Why am I here? And, how will my choices in life impact me and my family in the future? Why did God make me who I am, and am I making a difference by the choices I am making? How will I be remembered should matter to each of us!

Why Serve God? It is a Family Responsibility, Malachi 3:13-4:6

God’s Message to My Grandchildren

 

 

 

 

 

Title: Why Serve God? It is a Family Responsibility

Text: Malachi 3:13-4:6

(At the end of the Old Testament the prophet Malachi wrote about 200 years before Jesus was born about the days to come for the people of Israel. They were now scattered all over the known world but their faith prevailed. The key to their survival was the strength of their family bonds. Children learned from and looked up to their parents. God looked and continues today to look to the parents to pass on the message of hope, faith and love to their children, as they waited for the arrival of God’s promised Messiah – Jesus.)

God says, “You have spoken hard, rude words to me.

“You ask, ‘When did we ever do that?’

“When you said, ‘It doesn’t pay to serve God. What do we ever get out of it? When we did what he said and went around with long faces, serious about God-of-the-Angel-Armies, what difference did it make? Those who take life into their own hands are the lucky ones. They break all the rules and get ahead anyway. They push God to the limit and get by with it.'”

Then those whose lives honored God got together and talked it over. God saw what they were doing and listened in. A book was opened in God’s presence and minutes were taken of the meeting, with the names of the God-fearers written down, all the names of those who honored God’s name.

God-of-the-Angel-Armies said, “They’re mine, all mine. They’ll get special treatment when I go into action. I treat them with the same consideration and kindness that parents give the child who honors them. Once more you’ll see the difference it makes between being a person who does the right thing and one who doesn’t, between serving God and not serving him.

“Count on it: The day is coming, raging like a forest fire. All the arrogant people who do evil things will be burned up like stove wood, burned to a crisp, nothing left but scorched earth and ash—a black day. But for you, sunrise! The sun of righteousness will dawn on those who honor my name, healing radiating from its wings. You will be bursting with energy, like colts frisky and frolicking. And you’ll tromp on the wicked. They’ll be nothing but ashes under your feet on that Day.”

God-of-the-Angel-Armies says so…(My prophet will come before me and) he will convince parents to look after their children and children to look up to their parents. If they refuse, I’ll come and put the land under a curse.”

Truth: Why didn’t the families of Israel give up when they found themselves enslaved and having to live in foreign lands? Why didn’t the families of Israel give up on God and decide to believe in the gods that supposedly empowered and guided the people who defeated them?

Today, why should you not give up, give in, or give out in your fight to follow the faith of your parents? The answer lies in this fact: How we respond in this life will decide if we will stand before GOD with a smile or in fear. Just as the families of Israel waited faithfully for God’s promised Messiah, we now look forward to standing before Him too!

Thoughts: For centuries the families of Israel had struggled to live their lives honoring God. Often many of them would feel they were special and there was nothing they could do wrong that would change their relationship with God. They were God’s chosen people – nothing could change that fact. Children felt they were special because their parents were good and right living parents. So what if they walked in ways that were not right or good. It felt right and good to them, even if their parents warned them how their actions and attitudes went against what God wanted for them. These children believed only that God would certainly love them because of their parents! But they found out God was not happy with their choices and there were consequences for the way they chose to live their lives.

Just because life does not always seem fair and right, God is in control. Even when we may feel uprooted and out of place, God is in control. Even when it seems that bad things are happening all around you and others call it good, God is in control.

If you knew there was coming a time in your future when God will step in and take charge of your life in such a way that there will no more pain, no more uncertainty, no more hunger or thirst, what would you do to change the way you live your life now?

The key to our faith are these key points which the New Testament in the Bible reveals.

1. God is in control, and God will not let the bad and wrong things in this life to overcome us if we trust Him and His promises.

2. God is in control, and God will not leave us on our own. God sent His Son, Jesus and His Spirit to guide and guard us through the tough times in our life.

3. God is in control, and God still gives us the same promise of “that day” we all will face when God will receive us as one of His children or reject us because we rejected Him.

4. God is in control, yet God will give you a choice to make in this life: serve God’s will or serve our will.

5. God is in control, and God even decides how we will face death: in fear or by faith.

Not even death can defeat the purposes and plans of God for you and your life with Him.

Dads and moms, God has placed a big responsibility in your hands. Not only do you have your own choice to make, you have to serve God by guiding and directing your children to know God so they can choose to serve Him too.

Is God in control in your life? The choice is left to you, but I pray your parents are helping you to understand the choice you will be making.

Never Run From What You Know in Your Heart is Right, Jonah 2:1-10

God’s Message to My Grandchildren

 

 

 

 

Title: Never Run From What You Know in Your Heart is Right

Text: Jonah 2:1-10

(Jonah was a prophet of God and was asked by God to go and share the good news about God’s love and mercy to the great city of Nineveh, which was the capital of the people who were the enemy of Israel. They were feared by all nations at that time in history.

Can you imagine being asked by God to go and tell these kind of people who told you they hated what God had to say? But, God wanted you to go anyway? Jonah, out of fear, tried to run from God instead, but he learned you cannot run from God. God will change our fears of the bad and ugly into faith in the good and beautiful ways of God!)

Then Jonah prayed to his God from the belly of the fish. He prayed: “In trouble, deep trouble, I prayed to God. He answered me. From the belly of the grave I cried, ‘Help!’

You heard my cry. You threw me into ocean’s depths, into a watery grave, with ocean waves, ocean breakers crashing over me.

I said, ‘I’ve been thrown away, thrown out, out of your sight. I’ll never again lay eyes on your Holy Temple.’

Ocean gripped me by the throat. The ancient Abyss (deepest, darkest depths of this world) grabbed me and held tight. My head was all tangled in seaweed at the bottom of the sea where the mountains take root. I was as far down as a body can go, and the gates were slamming shut behind me forever—

Yet you pulled me up from that grave alive, O God, my God! When my life was slipping away, I remembered God, and my prayer got through to you, made it all the way to your Holy Temple.

Those who worship hollow (empty, man-made) gods, god-frauds, walk away from their only true love. But I’m worshiping you, God, calling out in thanksgiving! And I’ll do what I promised I’d do! Salvation belongs to God!”

Then God spoke to the fish, and it vomited up Jonah on the seashore.

Truth: As a child of God there will come times when you will be faced with a choice that seems very hard and a challenge to you. Fear will grip you because of the choice you have to make. However, God will remain with you, even when you fail to obey, and then try to run and hide because the right thing to do is so hard to do. God will use that moment to demonstrate to you that when you trust in Him, your fears will be washed away and you will be able to to do what you know to be right and true, honest and noble.

Application: Jonah was a great prophet and had a history of working hard for God all throughout the land among the people of God. However, there came a time when God asked Jonah to do something that brought Jonah to say, “okay God”, but inside he was really saying, “No way God!” In fact, the fear Jonah felt was so great of the people who Jonah was asked to go and talk to for God that he ran away and tried to sail to the other side of the world. What Jonah was trying to say to God was “You are wrong God! And, You cannot make me do this!” But, what Jonah had forgotten in all his fussing and fretting was He was a servant of the almighty God of all creation. God was and still is today the same God of His people and all the horrible, terrible people we are asked to go talk to for God.

There will be times when your heart, soul and mind tell you what is right and true, and you know you have a choice to make to honor your God. You can stand and fight your fears, or try to take flight and run from your fears. However, you can never outrun your fears, just as you can never outrun what is right and true, or God’s love for you. You will always find your fears have raced away with you, not from you because they are within you. So, is it not better to stand up and face your fears and learn that God is with you, for you, and in you to conquer your fears – that is the beginning of walking with God in faith.

Once Jonah accepted what God was trying to tell him, he was saved from the depths of the sea and he completed the mission to the people of Nineveh.

Never allow your fears to cause you to run away from what is right, true, honorable, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent and worthy of God’s praise. Do not allow any fears to stop you from doing the things you know you should do and you will find the God of peace will be with you. (Phil 4:8-10) Jonah was rewarded and you will be too!

New Heart, Clean Heart, Jeremiah 31:31-34

God’s Message to My Grandchildren

 

 

 

 

Title: New Heart, Clean Heart

Text: Jeremiah 31:31-34

“…The time is coming when I will make a brand-new covenant with Israel and Judah (God’s chosen people). It won’t be a repeat of the covenant I made with their ancestors when I took their hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt. They broke that covenant even though I did my part as their Master.” God’s Decree.

“This is the brand-new covenant that I will make with Israel when the time comes. I will put my law within them—write it on their hearts!—and be their God. And they will be my people. They will no longer go around setting up schools to teach each other about God. They’ll know me firsthand, the dull and the bright, the smart and the slow. I’ll wipe the slate clean for each of them. I’ll forget they ever sinned!” God’s Decree.

Truth: This passage is very important. It is God saying to all His people that He loves us and wants to bless us with His forgiveness and give us a new life, and to do that He begins by putting into our heart a way for us to know Him personally. No matter what wrongs we have done, God wants to give us a fresh start by giving us a new, clean heart.

Application: The chosen people of God that we read about in the Bible had misused the gift God had given them. They had forgotten His promises. God wanted them to realize their choices had consequences and He allowed His people to be defeated by enemies and then removed them from their homes and lands – all of which God had given them when He led them into the Promised Land. However, as the people were being kicked out and taken out of the land, God told Jeremiah, His prophet at the time, that there was Good News in the Bad times they were experiencing: God wanted to use these bad times to let His people to know God will work through the coming days to help them discover the new Heart, the clean Heart that God will give them as He places His message of love upon that new, clean heart.

Jeremiah’s message from God did not get immediate acceptance by the people because they were experiencing some really tough times in their lives. They had lost almost everything that they they thought was important to them. But sometimes we need to lose all the “things” in our life to realize the one thing we cannot really afford to lose is our relationship with God.

I pray each of you will never have to face the hardships like the people of Israel and Judah had to face, but many of us will face some really tough times not because God hates you, but that He loves you and will give you an opportunity to find Him along side of  you when all else seems lost. Homes can be rebuilt, money replaced, and relationships reestablished – but if ever we lose God, we lose all our hope. God knows what we need and He is forever faithful to reveal His love for you, and He wants to be in your heart in the good times and the bad times.

Do you feel God working in your heart? I pray every day that you will let God into your heart to help you face all that you will face as you grow up. Your heart is where God begins to help us to know Him.

God’s Highway Returns Us Home, Isaiah 34:16-35:10

God’s Message to My Grandchildren

 

 

 

 

 

Title: God’s Highway Returns Us Home

Text: Isaiah 34:16-35:10

(There may times in your life when it seems life is not fair and everyone is against you. There may be times when even God seems far away from you, but God promises to never leave or forget his promises to you. These are the words He spoke through His prophet Isaiah long ago when the people of Israel felt abandoned by God. God may allow bad things to happen, but good news will come from it. Read what Isaiah said…)

Get and read God’s book: None of this is going away, this breeding, brooding evil. God has personally commanded it all. His Spirit set it in motion. God has assigned them their place, decreed their fate in detail.

This is permanent— generation after generation, the same old thing.

Wilderness and desert will sing joyously, the badlands will celebrate and flower— like the crocus (beautiful, colorful garden plant) in spring, bursting into blossom, a symphony of song and color; mountain glories of Lebanon— a gift; awesome Carmel, stunning Sharon—gifts: God’s resplendent glory, fully on display; God awesome, God majestic.

Energize the limp hands, strengthen the rubbery knees. Tell fearful souls, “Courage! Take heart! God is here, right here, on his way to put things right and redress all wrongs. He’s on his way! He’ll save you!”

Blind eyes will be opened, deaf ears unstopped, lame men and women will leap like deer, the voiceless break into song. Springs of water will burst out in the wilderness, streams flow in the desert. Hot sands (of the desert) will become a cool oasis, thirsty ground a splashing fountain. Even lowly jackals (wild dogs of the desert) will have water to drink, and barren grasslands flourish richly.

There will be a highway called the Holy Road. No one rude or rebellious is permitted on this road. It’s for God’s people exclusively—impossible to get lost on this road. Not even fools can get lost on it. No lions on this road, no dangerous wild animals— Nothing and no one dangerous or threatening. Only the redeemed will walk on it. The people God has ransomed will come back on this road. They’ll sing as they make their way home to Zion (God’s mountain), unfading halos of joy encircling their heads, welcomed home with gifts of joy and gladness as all sorrows and sighs scurry into the night.

Truth: God is always in control of all things. Even the bad things in our life happen because God allows them to happen, but He allows them to happen for our good. Just like your parents may punish you so that you may learn the difference between what is right and wrong, so does God use bad things to help us to trust His ways. And where can you know what His ways are? As Isaiah said in the beginning of this passage, “Go and get God’s Book, His Bible. It is His gift to all of us to guide and help us find that HOLY HIGHWAY that leads us safely to His special mountain.

Application: There are a lot of images in this passage to think about and share with your mom and dad as you read this, but it is one that shows you there is always hope when bad things happen. God is always there for you – no matter how bad it may feel to you. God has promised His love will never fail us. We must believe that God will always show us His good purpose for everything. It may be in His timing, not our timing, but if you will trust God, we will always come to realize God’s ways are the best for us.

Can you picture this special HIGHWAY! Only those who God loves and He allows will be on this HIGHWAY because they are not dangerous, rude or rebellious to others. This HIGHWAY is protected and guarded all along the way by God and His angels so no one can get lost, and the evil people are not allowed to enter.

Yes, difficult and even evil things may happen in our life time, but it is not because God does not love you…in fact, the opposite is true. God proved His love for you so much that long ago He gave us His own Son and though He shared the message of God’s love to everyone, evil and bad things happened to Him, but God allowed it to happen to show us there is always a way through the ugly and painful times in life. Jesus was His Son who was tortured and killed, but God’s love brought Him back to life so that we could see that even death cannot defeat God’s love for us.

If there is any message about life that I can offer my grandchildren and all who read this to their children, it is the message of hope, faith and love that God desires we cherish and cling onto no matter the circumstances we may face in this lifetime. Where can we begin this life journey of hope, faith and love? God’s Word is the beginning and ultimate source of finding our way onto God’s HOLY HIGHWAY! God will do the rest if only we will believe.

Why do what is Right and Good and not do what is Wrong and Bad? Psalm 1

God’s Message to My Grandchildren

 

 

 

 

 

 

Title: Why do what is Right and Good and not do what is Wrong and Bad?

Text: Psalm 1

How well God must like you—

You don’t hang out at Sin Saloon, you don’t slink along Dead-End Road, (and) you don’t go to Smart-Mouth College.

Instead you thrill to God’s Word. You chew on Scripture day and night.

You’re a tree replanted in Eden, bearing fresh fruit every month, never dropping a leaf, always in blossom.

You’re not at all like the wicked, who are mere windblown dust— without defense in court, unfit company for innocent people.

God charts the road you take. The road they take is Skid Row.

Truth: There will always be a choice for us to choose each and every day. The choice will be for what is right and good, or for what is wrong and bad. But, God clearly loves you when you choose what pleases Him.

Application: This Psalm was written by a father (King David) to his children, and I want you as my children and grandchildren to hear this message that is found in the center of the Bible. It is a simple but very important message about how much God loves you when you do what is right and good by listening to Him.

Just as God says in this passage, I am sending a warning out to you: not all your “so-called friends” will always be offering you choices that are right and good. In fact, many times you will be tempted and tested by them to actually do what is clearly wrong and bad – and you will know it too, but you will feel pressure to join them anyway.

Who are the most important people in your life? Who do you want to please the most: Your parents or “so-called friends”? Which choice will make God happy?

What happens depends upon the choice you make. When you are choosing what is right and good, things go much better every day. As this passage says, as a result, you make better choices about where to go and not to go, what to say and not to say, and you will always feel good about what you have done each day and you do not need to hide anything or lie about anything.

But, if you choose wrong and bad ways, you will feel ashamed and find you have lost your way, and you will find you have to lie and hide what you have done and said to those you claim to love. However, you may be able to lie and hide some things you say and do from your mom and dad, but what about God? Do you think God is not able to know the truth?

It is good to have right and good friends to hang out with and I pray you will have many awesome friends in your life because they will help you to do what is right and good, just as you may help them to do the same. But, choose your friends carefully. Make sure they do not lead you down any path that you know is wrong or bad in your heart. That is God speaking to you when you understand the difference.

Whenever you are not sure, come ask your grandfather and I will help you to decide for yourself the right path to take and avoid what is called “Skid Row.”

God is… Job 38:1-38

God’s Message to My Grandchildren

 

 

 

 

 

Title: God is…

Text: Job 38:1-38

(Job was a very good father, husband, and certainly a man of God. The Devil was given permission by God to cause a lot of sadness and trouble in Job’s life, but he was not allowed to kill Job. The Devil thought he could get Job to turn away from God in the midst of the storms that the Devil would bring to his life…However just as Job was questioning God about the storms in his life…read the rest of the story)

And now, finally, God answered Job from the eye of a violent storm.

He said: “Why do you confuse the issue? Why do you talk without knowing what you’re talking about?

Pull yourself together, Job! Up on your feet! Stand tall!

I have some questions for you,and I want some straight answers.

Where were you when I created the earth?

Tell me, since you know so much! Who decided on its size? Certainly you’ll know that!

Who came up with the blueprints and measurements? How was its foundation poured, and who set the cornerstone, while the morning stars sang in chorus and all the angels shouted praise?

And who took charge of the ocean when it gushed forth like a baby from the womb?

That was me! I wrapped it in soft clouds, and tucked it in safely at night. Then I made a playpen for it, a strong playpen so it couldn’t run loose, and said, ‘Stay here, this is your place. Your wild tantrums are confined to this place.’

“And have you ever ordered Morning, ‘Get up! ‘told Dawn, ‘Get to work!’ So you could seize Earth like a blanket and shake out the wicked like cockroaches?

As the sun brings everything to light, brings out all the colors and shapes, the cover of darkness is snatched from the wicked—they’re caught in the very act!

“Have you ever gotten to the true bottom of things, explored the labyrinthine (vast corridors of) caves of deep ocean?

Do you know the first thing about death? Do you have one clue regarding death’s dark mysteries?

And do you have any idea how large this earth is?

Speak up if you have even the beginning of an answer.

“Do you know where Light comes from and where Darkness lives so you can take them by the hand and lead them home when they get lost? Why, of course you know that. You’ve known them all your life, grown up in the same neighborhood with them!

“Have you ever traveled to where snow is made, seen the vault where hail is stockpiled, the arsenals of hail and snow that I keep in readiness for times of trouble and battle and war?

Can you find your way to where lightning is launched, or to the place from which the wind blows?

Who do you suppose carves canyons for the downpours of rain, and charts the route of thunderstorms that bring water to unvisited fields, deserts no one ever lays eyes on, drenching the useless wastelands so they’re carpeted with wildflowers and grass?

And who do you think is the father of rain and dew, the mother of ice and frost?

You don’t for a minute imagine these marvels of weather just happen, do you?

“Can you catch the eye of the beautiful Pleiades sisters, or distract Orion from his hunt? Can you get Venus to look your way,or get the Great Bear and her cubs to come out and play? Do you know the first thing about the sky’s constellations and how they affect things on Earth?

“Can you get the attention of the clouds,and commission a shower of rain? Can you take charge of the lightning bolts and have them report to you for orders?

Truth: God has the answers to all our questions. However, there are some questions that Man can only guess and wonder about the answers. Why, because God alone is God. God made man and everything in this world, and not the other way around. God is not an idea or thought. God is… (That understanding is the beginning of your life of faith that will change your life no matter what storms come in your life.)

Application: Job had certainly suffered many terrible events in his life. The Devil certainly thought he could cause Job to turn away from God. But, just when Job began to question God after Job’s friends try to convince him that God was punishing him for some wrong he had done, God steps in and reminds Job of the power and authority of God in this world. And God reminded him how much He loved him and that God trusted Job to come through the storms that the Devil would throw against him. In the end of the story, and I recommend each family read the remaining chapters of Job’s story, there is a happy ending as Job is blessed by God for coming through the storms as he did.

God does not expect us to be perfect as we face the challenges in this world, just faithful and prayerful – God will do the rest for His name sake, not our sake. All God asks is that you never, never, never quit believing and seeking God’s will, God’s ways, and God’s wisdom to guide and inspire you through the good and bad times in life. He has promised to care for His children for His name’s sake – God is not a liar! God is not one to break His promises to you. God does not promise to remove the storms from our life, but He does promise to deliver us through the storms.

Take it from from your grandfather (aka Poppy) God is an awesome God. When the winds blow, the lightning strikes all around, and the earth even shakes and the water threatens to flood, God will be there for you and He will offer a solid, safe rock to stand upon until the storm passes by. Where there is a prayer of faith, fear cannot survive within your heart. You can be scared about the storm as it threatens you because if you did not have God’s promise in your heart then the Devil will win and fear will defeat your faith.

BUT, you have God and His promise. Know in your heart that God is... and He lives within you, and loves you.

God Knows and Gives Us All We Need, 2 Kings 4:1-7

God’s Message to My Grandchildren

 

 

 

 

 

 

Title: God Knows and Gives Us All We Need

Text: 2 Kings 4:1-7

(Elisha was Elijah’s student, and he continued to serve as God’s messenger to the people after Elijah was taken to heaven by God.)

One day the wife of a man from the guild of prophets called out to Elisha, “Your servant my husband is dead. You well know what a good man he was, devoted to God. And now the man to whom he was in debt is on his way to collect by taking my two children as slaves.”

Elisha said, “I wonder how I can be of help. Tell me, what do you have in your house?”

“Nothing,” she said. “Well, I do have a little oil.”

“Here’s what you do,” said Elisha. “Go up and down the street and borrow jugs and bowls from all your neighbors. And not just a few—all you can get. Then come home and lock the door behind you, you and your sons. Pour oil into each container; when each is full, set it aside.”

She did what he said. She locked the door behind her and her sons; as they brought the containers to her, she filled them. When all the jugs and bowls were full, she said to one of her sons, “Another jug, please.”

He said, “That’s it. There are no more jugs.” Then the oil stopped.

She went and told the story to the man of God.

He said, “Go sell the oil and make good on your debts. Live, both you and your sons, on what’s left.”

Truth: It is so easy for us to focus upon God providing the oil into the jugs until the jugs ran out. However, I would suggest, did God already know how many jugs were available? Could God provide the jugs to the same degree He provided the oil? God gives us “all” we need. Our responsibility as we grow up is to trust in God’s promise to provide “all” we need. No matter how old we are there is nothing God needs from us but our obedience.

Thoughts: Here is a story about God’s love for each of us, His children. God knows everything about our lives, and He certainly knows all our needs as we go through life. There are children in this setting who are helpless because of the debts that the family faced and they risked being taken as slaves to pay off the debt their father left the family with when he died. The mother appealed to Elisha the prophet as God’s representative; the whole family was told what to do; and everyone did their part. The result: they found all the jugs that were available to be found and all were filled by God. The money they earned from selling the oil paid all their debts and provided extra money for them to live on.

It is very important for all of us, young or old, to know and believe – God knows and gives us all we need! The family was blessed by obeying and trusting that God would provide all their needs. God provided not just the oil, but also all the jugs for the oil. In your life, your family may need something other than oil, but trust God knows what your family needs. Trust your mother and father are praying and seeking God to help your family handle whatever it needs. Maybe your family has concerns such as a new job for mom or dad, a home situation, a car repair or even a new car, health problems in the family, or having the money to do special things for the family. It is just as important that your mother and father trust that God knows and gives all you need, and that you and your brothers and sisters learn to trust God will take care of you too!

The first “jug” you need to bring to God is your “heart”. God will fill it with His love so you will always know He cares for you, no matter what is happening in your life. I pray your family trusts God first with filling every heart with His love, and is obedient as God brings you through whatever challenges you and your family may face in days ahead…

Listen for the Quiet Voice in the Storms, 1 Kings 19:1-15a

God’s Message to My Grandchildren

 

 

 

 

 

 

Title: Listen for the Quiet Voice in the Storms

Text: 1 Kings 19:1-15a

(Elijah was one of the greatest Prophets (special messengers) anointed by God to deal with the wrongs in the land of Israel. In the setting of this passage, the king and queen wanted to kill Elijah for killing all the false prophets that the king and queen listened to instead of God’s prophets, who they had executed except for Elijah…)

Ahab reported to Jezebel everything that Elijah had done, including the massacre of the prophets. Jezebel immediately sent a messenger to Elijah with her threat: “The gods will get you for this and I’ll get even with you! By this time tomorrow you’ll be as dead as any one of those prophets.”

When Elijah saw how things were, he ran for dear life to Beersheba, far in the south of Judah…then went on into the desert another day’s journey. He came to a lone broom bush and collapsed in its shade, wanting in the worst way to be done with it all—to just die: “Enough of this, God! Take my life—I’m ready to join my ancestors in the grave!”

Exhausted, he fell asleep under the lone broom bush. Suddenly an angel shook him awake and said, “Get up and eat!”

He looked around and, to his surprise, right by his head were a loaf of bread baked on some coals and a jug of water. He ate the meal and went back to sleep. The angel of God came back, shook him awake again, and said, “Get up and eat some more—you’ve got a long journey ahead of you.”

He got up, ate and drank his fill, and set out. Nourished by that meal, he walked forty days and nights, all the way to the mountain of God, to Horeb. When he got there, he crawled into a cave and went to sleep. Then the word of God came to him: “So Elijah, what are you doing here?”

“I’ve been working my heart out for the God-of-the-Angel-Armies,” said Elijah. “The people of Israel have abandoned your covenant, destroyed the places of worship, and murdered your prophets. I’m the only one left, and now they’re trying to kill me.”

Then he was told, “Go, stand on the mountain at attention before God. God will pass by.”

A hurricane wind ripped through the mountains and shattered the rocks before God, but God wasn’t to be found in the wind; after the wind an earthquake, but God wasn’t in the earthquake; and after the earthquake fire, but God wasn’t in the fire; and after the fire a gentle and quiet whisper.

When Elijah heard the quiet voice, he muffled his face with his great cloak, went to the mouth of the cave, and stood there. A quiet voice asked, “So Elijah, now tell me, what are you doing here?”

Elijah said it again, “I’ve been working my heart out for God, the God-of-the-Angel-Armies, because the people of Israel have abandoned your covenant, destroyed your places of worship, and murdered your prophets. I’m the only one left, and now they’re trying to kill me.”

God said, “Go back the way you came through the desert…”

Truth: There will be times in your life when you may face the anger of certain people who are opposed to the ways of God that you know to be right and true. There may even be times when your stand for what God has taught you will cause their anger to turn against you personally. However, if you will not abandon God, God will never abandon you, and He will even strengthen you so that you will be able to stand for God and His truth.

Application: As this passage reveals, God is not to be found in the storms of life – He was not found in the stormy winds, the earthquakes, or the fires that Elijah saw. God comes to us in a whisper – a small, quiet voice that causes us to quit our fussing and complaining so we can hear him speak to our heart, soul and mind. When we have troubles in our life, God uses His Spirit’s voice to guide us so that we can trust Him even more, and to know He is not the source of the troubles.  There will always be storms in our life, but God will not speak to you through the storms. He will use the storms in our life to help us seek Him.

As you read this passage you will find that God sent His angel to help Elijah and to encourage him, and cares for you too, if you will continue to seek after Him. God knows this life can be stressful and challenging, and as you get older you will understand the tough choices we will need to make, because you will learn that every choice comes with a consequence for good or bad purposes. But whether our choice has led us into a good or bad consequence, God always works to reveal His good, pleasing and awesome love for you.

I hope you will never feel so bad about your life that you will want to just die like Elijah did, but take heart: God sent His angel to encourage Elijah and give him a message and mission of hope. As the rest of the story reveals, if you continue to read in the following chapters that follow, Elijah is used by God to help His people to be freed from the evil leadership of the king and queen. Then, when Elijah’s mission was complete, God had Elijah taken up to heaven in a chariot of fire. Wow…what a way for God to say thank you to Elijah for not giving up! My hope is that no matter what storms may arise in your lives, you will never, never, never quit on God, because He will never give up on you and will take care of you, if only you will trust in Him and listen for His quiet voice to guide you through the storms.

Wealth or Wisdom? 1 Kings 3:1-15

God’s Message to My Grandchildren

 

 

 

 

 

 

Title: Wealth or Wisdom?

Text: 1 Kings 3:1-15

(After his father, King David died, Solomon was anointed as the next king of Israel. What influence did David have on his son? After becoming king, this is what Solomon recognized he needed to do because of what his father taught him.)

Solomon arranged a marriage contract with Pharaoh, king of Egypt. He married Pharaoh’s daughter and brought her to the City of David until he had completed building his royal palace and God’s Temple and the wall around Jerusalem.

Meanwhile, the people were worshiping at local shrines because at that time no temple had yet been built to the Name of God.

Solomon loved God and continued to live in the God-honoring ways of David his father, except that he also worshiped at the local shrines, offering sacrifices and burning incense.

The king went to Gibeon, the most prestigious of the local shrines, to worship. He sacrificed a thousand Whole-Burnt-Offerings on that altar. That night, there in Gibeon, God appeared to Solomon in a dream:

God said, “What can I give you? Ask.”

Solomon said, “You were extravagantly generous in love with David my father, and he lived faithfully in your presence, his relationships were just and his heart right. And you have persisted in this great and generous love by giving him—and this very day!—a son to sit on his throne. And now here I am: God, my God, you have made me, your servant, ruler of the kingdom in place of David my father. I’m too young for this, a mere child! I don’t know the ropes, hardly know the ‘ins’ and ‘outs’ of this job. And here I am, set down in the middle of the people you’ve chosen, a great people—far too many to ever count. Here’s what I want: Give me a God-listening heart so I can lead your people well, discerning the difference between good and evil. For who on their own is capable of leading your glorious people?”

God, the Master, was delighted with Solomon’s response. And God said to him, “Because you have asked for this and haven’t grasped after a long life, or riches, or the doom of your enemies, but you have asked for the ability to lead and govern well, I’ll give you what you’ve asked for— I’m giving you a wise and mature heart. There’s never been one like you before; and there will be no one after. As a bonus, I’m giving you both the wealth and glory you didn’t ask for—there’s not a king anywhere who will come up to your mark. And if you stay on course, keeping your eye on the life-map and the God-signs as your father David did, I’ll also give you a long life.”

Solomon woke up—what a dream! He returned to Jerusalem, took his place before the Chest of the Covenant of God, and worshiped by sacrificing Whole-Burnt-Offerings and Peace-Offerings. Then he laid out a banquet for everyone in his service.

Truth: Wisdom is the greatest gift anyone can receive from God. Wealth is man-made, and can be lost or stolen or wasted foolishly. Wisdom is the gift of knowing right from wrong, and good from evil. Wealth is found in more places than in gold or silver. Wealth is measured in how people respond to you and trust their lives with you. And, that is where wisdom comes in. Wisdom helps you to understand the importance and power of wealth and how to use it wisely, not selfishly.

Thoughts: If you had but one request from God, what would be the right thing to ask for to change your life? Wealth or Wisdom? Most men or women would ask for money, power and riches. But without wisdom all the money, power and riches would be lost, wasted or stolen in time. With wisdom you will know how to handle wealth, and realize real wealth is not something you can deposit in a bank. It is not defined by the car you drive or the big home you live in. Wealth is best measured by your circle of friends, family, and those who are touched by your life, even if you never know them personally. Wisdom and wealth are connected because it is godly wisdom that helps you share your influence upon others that determines your genuine wealth in life.

It is important to listen carefully to what God said to Solomon, “And if you stay on course, keeping your eye on the life-map and the God-signs as your father David did, I’ll also give you a long life.” God was sharing the KEY to wisdom and wealth: obeying and loving God first with all your life choices. IF you choose rightly, God promises that He will give you a long and happy life.

Some of the richest men in this world are never listed on the world’s list of wealthiest men, because the world measures wealth by money, gold and how much property someone owns. God measures wealth by how many lives are touched and influenced for good and right reasons. A great story to watch every Christmas holiday season that reveals this truth is the story of “Scrooge in the Christmas Carol.” See how his life was changed. He became a wise and wealthy man after he realized life is not measured by the money in your bank.

Its a Matter of the Heart, 1 Samuel 15:35-16:13

God’s Message to My Grandchildren

 

 

 

 

 

Title: It’s a Matter of the Heart

Text: 1 Samuel 15:35-16:13

(After Saul, the first of the Israelite kings, acted on his own and disappointed God, God sent Samuel to find and anoint the next king of Israel…However, this time God would select the king, not the people!)

(Because of what Saul did wrong) Samuel never laid eyes on Saul again in this life, although he grieved long and deeply over him. But God was sorry he had ever made Saul king in the first place.

God addressed Samuel: “So, how long are you going to mope over Saul?
You know I’ve rejected him as king over Israel. Fill your flask with anointing oil and get going. I’m sending you to Jesse of Bethlehem. I’ve spotted the very king I want among his sons.”

“I can’t do that,” said Samuel. “Saul will hear about it and kill me.”

God said, “Take a heifer (a baby cow) with you and announce, ‘I’ve come to lead you in worship of God, with this heifer as a sacrifice.’ Make sure Jesse gets invited. I’ll let you know what to do next. I’ll point out the one you are to anoint.”

Samuel did what God told him.

When he arrived at Bethlehem, the town fathers greeted him, but apprehensively. “Is there something wrong?”

“Nothing’s wrong. I’ve come to sacrifice this heifer and lead you in the worship of God. Prepare yourselves, be consecrated, and join me in worship.”

He made sure Jesse and his sons were also consecrated and called to worship.

When they arrived, Samuel took one look at Eliab and thought, “Here he is! God’s anointed!”

But God told Samuel, “Looks aren’t everything. Don’t be impressed with his looks and stature. I’ve already eliminated him. God judges persons differently than humans do. Men and women look at the face; God looks into the heart.”

Jesse then called up Abinadab and presented him to Samuel. Samuel said, “This man isn’t God’s choice either.”

Next Jesse presented Shammah. Samuel said, “No, this man isn’t either.”

Jesse presented his seven sons to Samuel. Samuel was blunt with Jesse, “God hasn’t chosen any of these.”

Then he asked Jesse, “Is this it? Are there no more sons?”

“Well, yes, there’s the runt. But he’s out tending the sheep.”

Samuel ordered Jesse, “Go get him. We’re not moving from this spot until he’s here.”

Jesse sent for him. He was brought in, the very picture of health—bright-eyed, good-looking.

God said, “Up on your feet! Anoint him! This is the one.”

Samuel took his flask of oil and anointed him, with his brothers standing around watching. The Spirit of God entered David like a rush of wind, God vitally empowering him for the rest of his life.

Truth: Do not judge a person by their size or their good looks. Like God did with David, take the time to know their heart. Their words, actions and attitude will reveal if they are really worthy of your time and respect. The same is true for others looking at you, so protect what you allow into your heart.

Thoughts: In this story, Israel had finally settled into the Promised Land but for some reason they could not get totally satisfied. They thought what they needed was a KING like all the other nations. They forgot that God was their ruler. They figured that if they had a king, they would be better led and less likely to be attacked by their enemies all the time. Well, they were wrong!

When we allow God to rule over our hearts, our lives are far better off than if we relied upon the direction and leadership of others in our life. The Israelites learned that kings are not reliable. They are men in leadership, but men make mistakes – even the best of men make mistakes, and people’s lives will be affected when they make mistakes. However, when we allow God to lead our lives, we have this assurance: God does not make mistakes! God wants and desires only good and right things to happen in our lives. Does that mean we will not have problems and challenges? No! God often uses problems and challenges to make us better and stronger. But, God also only gives us what we deserve and need so that we can follow Him daily.

If only the Israelites had not desired a king of their own, how different history might have been. Even King David, who God selected to replace the people’s choice for king, made some poor choices in his life, but God blessed him anyway. In fact, it is through David’s family that Jesus was born into this world. So, even with the problems and challenges that David brought onto himself and his family, he was blessed by God for his faithfulness through it all.

When you are looking at people, take the key point in this passage: do not be fooled by one’s outward appearance. Take the time to get to know a person on the inside before you judge them. A person’s character – the way they behave and act – is rooted in the heart. Therefore, prayerfully ask God to help you to see people for who they are the inside before you make a decision about them.

Friendships are built over time! Choose carefully who you allow to be your friend and adviser. Always know the difference between being friendly and having friends. Both come with responsibility and consequences for your life. (Parents, take the time to share this with your children.)