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Soldier4Christ
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« Reply #5520 on: February 13, 2009, 09:19:28 AM »

"Homeless and Hungry"

The cold winter wind bit at Gwen’s nose and ears as she and her mother were shopping downtown. “Can we stop at the pet store and get some birdseed?” asked Gwen. Mom agreed, and they headed for the store.

As they crossed an alley, they saw a man sleeping there, huddled against a wall. He was shivering in a shabby coat, his hands bare and his toes poking out from his shoes. Gwen grabbed her mother by the hand and quickly pulled her past the alley. “What’s the hurry?” asked Mom.

“That man made me nervous,” explained Gwen. She frowned and glanced back over her shoulder. “Why is he dressed like that? And why is he sleeping on the street on such a cold day?”

“I suppose he’s a homeless person,” replied Mom.

“At school we talked about homeless people,” said Gwen as they went into the pet store, “but I didn’t think there were any in small towns like ours.”

After buying a bag of birdseed, Gwen and her mother started back to the car. As they passed the alley, they saw that the man was gone. Mom looked sad. “I hope he’s okay,” she said. Gwen nodded.

When the two got home, Gwen filled the family’s backyard feeder with birdseed. Then she went inside and rubbed the cold from her tingling fingers. She joined her mother at the window, and they watched birds swoop down to the feeder. “I’m glad we can put out seeds for them,” said Gwen. “It’s so cold, and it’s hard for them to find food. They might die without us.” She paused, then added, “But you know what? Some verses my Sunday school teacher read last week say God knows about every sparrow that falls.”

“And did she tell you that God cares even more about you than He does about the birds?” asked Mom.

Gwen smiled. “Yes—one verse says we’re more valuable than many sparrows.”

Mom nodded. “Well, we found a way to help the birds through the cold winter, so do you think we could also find a way to help homeless people?” she asked.

Gwen stared out at the snowy backyard, thinking of the man they’d seen. “I bet we can!” she said. She got out a piece of paper. “Let’s write down some ideas.”


HOW ABOUT YOU?
Have you ever thought about what it would be like to be homeless? Really cold? Really hungry? Have you talked with your parents and friends about what you could do to help? Perhaps there’s an organization in your town that needs money, food, or clothes in order to help homeless people. Perhaps your church has an outreach that needs donations. Would you be willing to do without something you want in order to help? Think about it.


TODAY'S KEY VERSE:
Inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these . . . you did it to Me. Matthew 25:40

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« Reply #5521 on: February 14, 2009, 11:16:54 AM »

"The Right Focus"

Dinner was finished, and Jared was just thinking of teasing his sister when she interrupted his plan. “Why did you have to stay in at recess time today?” she asked him. “I heard you and a bunch of other kids cheated on a test.”

Jared swallowed hard, and it suddenly became very quiet in the kitchen. Only Goldie, the family dog, had anything to say as she yipped for a handout. “Goldie! Quiet!” commanded Dad. Goldie sat down immediately and waited.

“It was no big deal,” muttered Jared, and he tried to change the subject, but it didn’t work. “Heidi wasn’t covering her paper at all,” Jared finally mumbled, “and I kept thinking about being on the honor roll.”

“I see,” said Dad. He cut a scrap of meat and showed it to Goldie. The dog began licking her lips hungrily. “Goldie—stay!” Dad ordered firmly, then he placed the meat on the floor in front of the dog. Goldie thumped her tail excitedly, but she stayed where she was. “Jared, do you have any idea why Goldie is able to resist the temptation to take the meat?” asked Dad.

Jared grinned. “She knows Sally helped make dinner tonight, and . . . ow!” His sister’s elbow had made a direct hit in Jared’s ribs.

“Look at Goldie’s eyes,” said Dad, not finding Jared’s remark too amusing. “They’re looking at me, right?” Jared nodded. “If Goldie kept staring at the meat, she’d never be able to resist it,” continued Dad. “Instead, she’s focusing on her master.” He turned toward Jared. “Whenever you’re tempted, who should you focus on?”

“On Jesus,” replied Jared with a sigh. “I know that, Dad. But you make it sound so easy, and it isn’t easy!”

“You’re right, Jared. It’s not easy at all,” agreed Dad, “but it is your choice. When you’re tempted, you need to stop yourself and direct your thoughts back to where they ought to be. Focus on Jesus—think about what He would want you to do.”

Dad picked up the scrap of meat and tossed it into the air. Goldie caught and swallowed it, barely taking time to chew. She sat down and licked her lips again. It had been well worth the wait.


HOW ABOUT YOU?
Do you find yourself in situations where you feel tempted to cheat? To watch TV shows you know are dishonoring to God? To join in gossiping about others? Don’t spend time thinking about things you know are wrong—and wishing you could do them. Instead, focus your thoughts on Jesus—think about what He would want you to do. Let Him be your guide as you make your choices.


TODAY'S KEY VERSE:
Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. Colossians 3:2

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« Reply #5522 on: February 15, 2009, 08:21:32 AM »

"A Listening Ear"

Olivia looked at the tall buildings surrounding her new home. A big lump came into her throat as she thought about the stormy divorce that had taken her father away from her. She tried to tell her mother how lonely she was, but she felt like Mom didn’t really listen. I know Mom’s nervous about starting her new job today, thought Olivia, tears gathering in her eyes, but I wish she’d think a little more about me and how I’m feeling on my first day at a new school!

Olivia dreaded walking into her new school, but the principal was kind and sent an aide to guide her to the sixth grade classroom. When the bell rang for lunch, Holly, the girl sitting in front of Olivia, turned around. “Want to eat lunch with me?” asked Holly. Olivia breathed a huge sigh of relief as she went with her new friend to the cafeteria.

“What does your dad do?” asked Holly as she and Olivia ate.

Olivia had hoped no one would ask about her dad. “He’s a salesman,” she answered vaguely. “How about your dad? What does he do?”

Holly shrugged. “My dad left Mom when I was a baby,” she said.

Olivia didn’t answer right away; then she said in a small voice, “My folks are divorced, too.” Almost in tears, she added, “And Mom just thinks about her own problems and doesn’t even hear me when I talk about mine.”

“I know what you mean,” answered Holly. She hesitated, then added. “I was really lonely until I met my Heavenly Father.”

“Your what?” asked Olivia.

Holly smiled. “My Heavenly Father—God,” she explained. “He always listens. I can talk to Him about anything, and He helps me to not feel so lonely.”

“Must be nice,” said Olivia wistfully.

Holly leaned forward eagerly. “Why don’t you come to Sunday school with me and learn about Him?” she suggested. “When you don’t have a dad, it’s especially cool to have a Heavenly Father.”

“Someone to listen, right?” asked Olivia.

“Right,” said Holly. She got up. “Finished?” she asked. “Ready to go outside?”

Olivia nodded. “Yes,” she said, “but tell me more about your Heavenly Father!”


HOW ABOUT YOU?
Do you know the Heavenly Father—God? Even if you have an earthly father, you need God, too. You can know Him because of what Jesus did for you when He died on the cross for your sins and rose again. Do you know Jesus? He loves you and is always ready to listen to His children.You can talk with Him about anything and everything, no matter where you are, what you’re doing, or what problems you have. Why not go to Him right now?


TODAY'S KEY VERSE:
The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and His ears are open to their cry. Psalm 34:15

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« Reply #5523 on: February 16, 2009, 09:26:18 AM »

On the Mountain Top

After six days Jesus took Peter, James and John with him and led them up a high mountain, where they were all alone. There he was transfigured before them. His clothes became dazzling white, whiter than anyone in the world could bleach them. And there appeared before them Elijah and Moses, who were talking with Jesus. Peter said to Jesus, "Rabbi, it is good for us to be here. Let us put up three shelters--one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah." Mark 9:2-5

I have some beautiful pictures to show you this morning. They are pictures of some of the most beautiful mountain peaks you can imagine. Aren't they beautiful? Have you ever taken a vacation in the mountains? Of all the vacations that I have ever taken, the ones that I enjoyed the most were the ones that I took in the mountains.

Why do you think people enjoy vacationing in the mountains? There are several reasons. One reason is that they want to get away from the heat. In the summer months, the heat can become almost unbearable at times. It is refreshing to go up into the mountains where the air is cool. Another reason is to enjoy the beautiful view. When you are down in the valley, it is often difficult to see and appreciate the beauty around you, but from the mountain top, you can clearly see the beauty of the world below. Finally, many people enjoy vacationing in the mountains to get away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. It is good to get away from the pressure of work and busy schedules, and just sit back and relax. When we are enjoying a get away in the mountains, we sometimes find it hard to go back to our day to day life.

Did you know that Jesus enjoyed getting away for a mountain retreat? The Bible tells us that one day Jesus took Peter, James and John high up into the mountains so that they could be alone. While on the mountain top, Jesus' appearance changed. His clothes became a dazzling white, whiter than any bleach could get them. Then Elijah and Moses appeared and began talking to Jesus. Peter exclaimed, "Teacher, it is wonderful for us to be here! Let's build three shelters -- one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah." Then a cloud passed over and covered them. From the cloud came a voice saying, "This is my Son, and I love him. Listen to what he says!" Then when they looked again, they saw only Jesus.

I imagine that Peter, James, and John would have been happy to stay up there on the mountain top, but did they? No, Jesus knew that the purpose of their experience on the mountain top was to renew their strength for the difficult days that were ahead of them, so he led the disciples back down from the mountains into the valley.

You and I sometimes need a vacation in the mountains to help us cope with the heat and stress of our every day life. We also need mountain top experiences in our daily walk with Jesus. We need those experiences to renew our strength for the difficult tasks that we face as we follow Jesus each day.
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« Reply #5524 on: February 16, 2009, 09:28:04 AM »

"Remote Control"

“I sure hope we get remote control race cars for our birthday,” said Bryce as he and his twin brother walked home from school.

“Me, too,” agreed Andrew, “but with Dad out of work, you know we won’t get them.” He kicked at a stone on the sidewalk.

“Don’t be so sure,” replied Bryce. “When Aunt Elizabeth called last week, she asked what we wanted, and I told her we wanted the cars. Who knows! She might come through with them.”

When the boys arrived home, there was a large package on the table. It was for them—a package from Aunt Elizabeth. Could it be? It was! A remote control car . . . well, sort of. “A remote control truck?” asked Andrew. “Not a race car? And only one?” There was disappointment in his voice.

“We have to share it?” asked Bryce in disbelief.

“Certainly,” said Mom. “Why shouldn’t you share?”

The boys sighed, but they took turns playing with the truck and learning to use the remote control. “It’s tricky to back up the truck with that trailer attached,” said Andrew after a while. “I didn’t expect it to be like this.”

“What did you expect?” asked Mom.

“That each of us would get a car,” said Bryce.

“I didn’t expect to get a remote control car at all,” said Andrew. He looked thoughtful. “I suppose we really should be thankful to have this truck, even if we do have to share it.”

“I agree with that,” said Mom. “Tell me—what are some things you like about it?”

“Well,” said Bryce after a moment, “it does have turbo speed.”

“And it came with a trailer,” said Andrew. “I think it’s kind of fun to figure out how to make it back up the right way.”

Bryce picked up the truck. “Yeah,” he agreed. “It might even be more fun than running an ordinary remote control car.”

Mom nodded. “How about sending Aunt Elizabeth an email to thank her?” she suggested. “Mention all the things you like about the gift. Thank her for it—and don’t forget to thank God for Aunt Elizabeth. She’s been very good to you two.” The boys grinned and nodded.


HOW ABOUT YOU?
What do you do when you get a gift that isn’t what you wanted? Do you complain, or do you stop and think of something nice about it? Do you say thank you? Or would you be counted with the nine lepers in today’s Scripture reading who failed to say thanks? Don’t be like them! Thank the person who gave you something—no matter what it is. Most of all, thank God for those who love you enough to give you gifts.


TODAY'S KEY VERSE:
Be thankful to Him, and bless His name. Psalm 100:4

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« Reply #5525 on: February 17, 2009, 08:33:52 AM »

"Remote Control (cont’d.)"

One afternoon, Bryce and Andrew took their remote control truck out to the driveway. Their mother was weeding the flower beds, and their little sister Amanda amused herself by hopping around on a pogo stick. “Mom,” Amanda said, “I wish I had a remote control pogo stick. I could ride it, and you could tell it to go up and down, up and down, all by itself. That would be fun!”

“Yeah, that would be cool!” agreed Bryce as he watched his sister.

Mom laughed. “I never heard of such a thing,” she said. “Maybe you can invent one when you grow up.”

“But I want one now!” insisted Amanda.

Mom had an idea. “Get out your hobby horse,” she suggested. So Amanda ran and got her toy—a straight stick with a small horse's head attached to one end. “Now, when I give a command, do whatever I say,” Mom told Amanda. “If I say to go left, you go left. If I say to go right, you go right. It’s kind of like I’m moving you by remote control! Do you get it?” Amanda ginned and nodded. “Ready?” asked Mom. “Okay, go straight ahead . . . Turn left . . . Turn left again . . . Now go right . . . Back up . . . Go forward . . . Stop!” Amanda ran around, moving according to her mother’s instructions. The boys joined in, too, and soon they were taking turns giving and receiving commands.

Before bedtime that evening, Mom read a Bible story about a Roman leader, called a centurion. The man asked Jesus to heal his servant. “Lord, I am not worthy that You should come under my roof,” the centurion said. “But only speak a word, and my servant will be healed.”

At the end of the reading, Mom smiled. “Jesus was pleased with that man’s faith,” she said. “The servant was healed the moment Jesus simply said, ‘So let it be done for you.’”

“Remote control!” exclaimed Andrew with a grin. “I didn’t know there was remote control in the Bible!”

Mom smiled. “That’s an interesting way to look at it,” she said. “God made this world, and He controls everything in it. If we’re wise, we let Him have control of our lives, too.”


HOW ABOUT YOU?
Do you accept that God is in control of your life? Don’t worry about all the different things happening—some good and some not so good. Instead, remember that God knows all about them, and He is in control of everything. He knows what is best for everyone—including you.


TODAY'S KEY VERSE:
You, whose name alone is the Lord, are the Most High over all the earth. Psalm 83:18

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« Reply #5526 on: February 18, 2009, 09:24:27 AM »

"Stumbling Blocks"

Mia was having a bad day. Leslie and Krista had come to play, but when Krista won nearly every game, Mia became angry. “Give me that score sheet,” she demanded, grabbing for it. “You didn’t put down the right points.”

“I did, too!” exclaimed Krista, holding on to the paper.

“Give that here!” insisted Mia. “You’re a cheater!” Leslie watched as the fight got uglier. Finally, Krista shoved the paper over; she also got up and went home. “You’re just a big baby,” Mia called after her.

As Mia and Leslie started another game, Mia muttered that she didn’t like Krista—and she didn’t like several other classmates, either. She called them stupid and ugly and said they wore funny clothes. Leslie hesitantly agreed with her.

Soon Mia’s mother came into the room. “Thanks for coming over, Leslie,” she said. “I need to talk with Mia now, but I hope you’ll come again soon.” Turning to leave, she added, “Pick up your games, Mia—I’ll be back in a minute.”

As Mia was picking up the games, she heard a piercing scream. She ran to the kitchen and saw that her little brother had stumbled over a pair of shoes she had left in the middle of the room. A cut on his head was bleeding, and Mia felt terrible.

After Mom cleaned Scotty’s face and bandaged his cut, she sat down with Mia. “I’m s-s-sorry,” whispered Mia before Mom even said anything. “It’s all my fault that Scotty got hurt. “You told me not to leave my stuff lying around, and I forgot it.”

“Yes, but I’m even more concerned about something else,” said Mom. “Wasn’t Leslie saved in Kids’ Club just a few weeks ago?” Mia nodded. “Well,” continued Mom, “I saw the way you acted toward Krista today, and I also heard some of your conversation with Leslie. Scotty stumbled because of shoes you left out, but I’m afraid Leslie may ‘stumble’ in her new life as a Christian because of some things you did and said. Your words and actions weren’t pleasing to the Lord, and they weren’t a good example for Leslie. They could cause her to stumble spiritually.”

Mia blushed as she remembered her behavior. “I think an apology is in order, don’t you?” asked Mom solemnly. “An apology to both Leslie and Krista.” Mia nodded. She thought about what she would say, then picked up the phone.


HOW ABOUT YOU?
Are you careful to be a good example—especially to new Christians? In today’s world, people are generally very concerned about their “rights.” Even Christians sometimes think they should not have to answer to anybody but God! But they forget that God says you should “esteem” or think of others as better than yourself. He says to live in such a way that you do not cause anyone else to stumble spiritually. Make sure the things you do and say are things He approves.


TODAY'S KEY VERSE:
Resolve this, not to put a stumbling block or a cause to fall in our brother’s way. Romans 14:13

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« Reply #5527 on: February 19, 2009, 09:08:06 AM »

"Detour"

“Uh, oh!” exclaimed Mom. “That sign says, ‘Detour—straight ahead.’ We can’t make our turn onto the freeway. The ramp is closed for repairs.” She drove on down the street.

“But we’re going away from the freeway,” said Maggie as she looked out the back window. “We have to get on it somehow, don’t we?”

“We will if we follow the orange detour signs,” said Mom. “See if you can find the next one.”

After they drove a couple of blocks, Maggie pointed. “There’s a sign,” she said. “It says to turn right—but we’d have to turn left to go the right direction. Someone must have switched the signs!”

“Let’s just do what the signs say,” replied Mom, turning to the right. The next sign also said to go right, and the next said to go right again.

“We’re going in circles,” worried Maggie. “How can that be right?”

“Look ahead!” said Mom. “This road leads onto the freeway. The signs were correct even though they seemed wrong.” She turned onto the ramp. “You know what?” she asked. “Someone has given directions for our lives, too, and we have to trust that His directions are good and right—even if they sometimes seem wrong to us. Do you know who I mean?”

Maggie thought about it. “Dad?” she guessed.

Mom laughed. “He’d be pleased to hear that answer,” she said, “but I was thinking of God. The Bible says things like, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive,’ and, ‘A soft answer turns away wrath.’ Those statements may seem wrong to us, but they’re true.”

“How about, ‘Love your enemies’?” said Maggie. “That was my memory verse last week.”

Mom grinned. “Here’s a good one for us today,” she said. “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.”

“I learned that verse, too!” said Maggie. “Instead of worrying about getting to the freeway, I guess I should have prayed about it.”

“And given thanks,” said Mom with a smile. “Don’t forget that part!”


HOW ABOUT YOU?
Do God’s directions sometimes seem difficult to you—even wrong? Trust Him! He knows that the blessings you get when you cheerfully give are greater than any “thing” you can receive from others. He knows that quietly answering someone who’s angry with you brings more joy than replying in anger. He knows that treating others the way you like to be treated results in peace and contentment. In every case, God knows what’s best for you. He’ll never give you wrong directions.


TODAY'S KEY VERSE:
In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths. Proverbs 3:6

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« Reply #5528 on: February 20, 2009, 09:57:31 AM »

"In the Family"

“We had a new girl in our class today,” said Leilah as she nibbled on cheese and crackers. “Her name is Anna. She’s from an orphanage in Romania, and an American family—the Blackmans—adopted her.”

“How wonderful for her!” exclaimed Mom. “And for the Blackmans!”

“Deborah says she feels sorry for Anna because she doesn’t have any real family of her own,” added Leilah.

Mom sat down at the table. “That’s ridiculous,” she declared. “Of course she has a family! The minute Anna was adopted, she became as much a part of the Blackman family as if she had been physically born into it.” Mom smiled at Leilah. “I wonder if Deborah realizes that you are also adopted.”

Leilah’s mouth dropped open, and she stared at her mother. “I didn’t know I was adopted!” she exclaimed.

Still smiling, Mom said, “Well, you are. When you accepted Jesus as your Savior last year, you were immediately adopted into God’s family. You’re a child of God now, just like Anna is a child of the Blackmans.” Mom reached over and picked up her Bible from the counter. She opened it and handed it to Leilah. “Read Romans 8:16 and 17,” she said.

Leilah read aloud. “The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ.”

Mom nodded. “You became a child of God and an heir to His heavenly riches,” she said. “God accepts you as His own, just like Anna’s new parents accept her as their very own. What do you think of that, honey?”

Leilah grinned. “I like it! I think Anna and I will get along well together,” she said. “She’ll be glad to learn that I’ve been adopted, too.” After a moment, Leilah looked at her mother and added, “And you know what, Mom? If Anna becomes a Christian, she’ll have been adopted twice. Isn’t that cool? I’m going to tell her.”


HOW ABOUT YOU?
Have you been adopted into God’s family? If not, would you like to be? When you trust Jesus as Savior you become a member of a royal family—and you even have an inheritance. Don’t wait! Trust in Jesus today.


TODAY'S KEY VERSE:
The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God. Romans 8:16

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« Reply #5529 on: February 21, 2009, 10:01:24 AM »

"Sowing and Reaping"

With a pout on her face, Liliana walked out to the garden where her mother was picking beans. “Shana doesn’t want to come to my birthday party this year, Mom,” said Liliana. “She made up a lame excuse about having to be someplace else, but I think she just doesn’t want to come.”

“Is this the same Shana who came last year and gave you the sweater she had knitted herself?” asked Mom.

Liliana’s expression grew even darker. “Yes,” she muttered, thinking that her mother never forgot anything. Liliana had made fun of the sweater in front of all the other girls, calling it “dumpy and homemade.”

Mom stood up. “We’ll have these good beans for supper,” she said, “and I’d like a few strawberries, too.” She pointed to some vines. “Grab some off that vine for me,” she said.

Liliana absentmindedly bent toward the vine, then stopped. “Mom,” she said, “these aren’t the strawberry plants. These are cucumbers.”

“Oh, I know I planted cucumbers there, but I want strawberries now,” said Mom. “Just pick a few for me, please.”

“What are you talking about, Mom?” asked Liliana. “I can’t get strawberries from a cucumber vine.” Then she noticed the expression on her mother’s face. “Oh!” she exclaimed. “I know what you’re doing.”

“And what is that?” Mom asked.

“Well . . . it has something to do with me and Shana, doesn’t it?” asked Liliana. “I guess you’re saying I’m getting what I deserve, right?”

Mom smiled. “Not exactly,” she said. “I’m saying that you’re getting the crop you planted. We reap what we plant in the garden—in this case, cucumbers. The Bible says we will reap what we sow in our lives, too. You can’t expect a harvest of kindness and friendship unless you plant seeds of kindness and friendship.”

“I . . . I . . .” Liliana stuttered; then she sighed. “Oh, I know you’re right, Mom,” she admitted. “I’ll apologize to Shana.”

“Good,” approved Mom. “Make sure you do that as soon as you get to school in the morning. Now let’s gather the rest of these vegetables.”


HOW ABOUT YOU?
Have you “reaped” any good things today? Any not-so-good things? What kind of seeds have you planted? The next time you eat fruits or vegetables, remember that you’ll always “reap what you sow” in your spiritual garden—your life—as well as in your vegetable garden. Ask God to help you plant good seeds as you live in a way that pleases Him. Then the response you get from others will also be good.


TODAY'S KEY VERSE:
Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. Galatians 6:7

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« Reply #5530 on: February 22, 2009, 01:10:10 PM »

"Pleasing Gifts"

“Mom, did you see the posters Jim drew for Vacation Bible School?” asked Jeanie as she helped her mother weed the flower beds. “They’re really cool! And Tara’s good at explaining things, so she’s going to be a teacher’s assistant in Aunt Renee’s class. But me! I can’t do anything except to play dumb games with the kids and croak a bit to help during the singing.”

“Singing and games are an important part of VBS,” Mom said. “And you don’t croak. You sing very well.”

Jeanie sighed. “I bet God won’t be impressed with what I have to offer,” she said. “I know I’m not.”

“Jeanie, that’s just not . . .” began Mom. She was interrupted by a squeal from little Billy, who was hurrying across the lawn toward them.

“Me made present for Mommy!” called Billy. Clutched in his soil-stained little hands was a small pot half-filled with sand. Billy had stuck a dandelion into the sand. Jeanie grinned as she and her mother watched Billy run toward them with a huge smile on his face.

Mom turned to Jeanie. “It’s a stupid present, isn’t it?” she asked quietly. “That old pot he used is cracked and dirty. And that’s just an old weed! He should have brought me roses from the florist.”

Jeanie looked horrified. “Mom!” she protested. “Where would he get them? He’s only three! You’re not going to tell him that, are you?”

Mom bent down and took the flower pot Billy offered. “Thank you, Billy Boy!” she said. “I’ll put this right in the middle of our dining room table!” She gave him a hug and then turned back to Jeanie. “Actually, I love Billy’s gift, even if it’s not perfect,” added Mom. “I know he brought it to me because he loves me. And honey, when we offer gifts to God, with real love in our hearts, don’t you think He’s pleased and accepts them in much the way I accept Billy’s gift? Even if they’re not perfect?”

“You mean like my singing and playing with the kids?” asked Jeanie.

Mom nodded. “I’m glad Billy didn’t sit at the kitchen table and pout about what he couldn’t give me,” she said. “I’m glad he did what he could. That’s what God wants us to do, too. He wants us to do what we can to serve Him.”


HOW ABOUT YOU?
Do you do what you can for God? Don’t compare what you can do with what others do. Don’t spend time wishing you had talents God gave to someone else. He wants you to serve Him with the abilities He gave you. If your heart is filled with love for God and you’re offering Him your very best, He accepts your gifts with great joy.


TODAY'S KEY VERSE:
She has done what she could. Mark 14:8

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« Reply #5531 on: February 23, 2009, 08:55:44 AM »

Carrying the Message

After John was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God. "The time has come," he said. "The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news!" Mark 1:14-15 (NIV)

What do you do when you have a message that you want to send to someone? Well, you might write the message, fold it, place it in an envelope, seal it up, write the name and address of the person you want to send it to, and drop it in the mail box. Oh my! I think I forgot something, didn't I? There is no way a message is going to be delivered if you don't put a stamp on it. Look at the stamps I have brought with me this morning. They are all shapes, sizes, and colors, but they all have one purpose -- to make sure that the message is delivered. One stamp might be used if you want to send a message to someone who lives nearby. Another stamp might be used to send a message to someone who lives far, far away! Most of us give very little thought to how important these little stamps are until we have an important message to deliver.

Jesus had a very important message to deliver. In the time that Jesus lived, they didn't have a Post Office where you could go and send a message. If you had a message, it was usually delivered in person. That's what Jesus did. The Bible says that Jesus traveled all around Galilee, delivering the good news of God. "The time has come," Jesus said. "The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news!"

The message that Jesus was delivering 2,000 years ago is just important today as it was then. There are still many people who need to hear the good news of God's love for them. How is the message going to be delivered? Jesus has called his disciples to deliver the good news. Who are those disciples? You and me! It is as if you and I are God's postage stamps. Look around you, we are all different shapes, sizes, and colors, but we are called for the same purpose -- to carry the message of God's love. Some may be called to take the message to people in a land far, far away. Others may be called to take the message to a neighbor just down the street. The important thing is to carry the message. If a little postage stamp can take a message to someone on the other side of the world, can't you and I take the message of God's love to our friends and neighbors who live nearby?

Father, we have been given the task of delivering the most important message in the world. Help us to be faithful to carry that message to those who need to hear it. In Jesus' name, Amen.
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« Reply #5532 on: February 23, 2009, 08:57:45 AM »

"Boundaries"

Bryan and his friends drew a large chalk circle on the driveway. “What’s that for?” asked Dad, who was watching.

“We’re playing hide-’n-seek,” answered Bryan, “and this is the safety zone. If we’re found, we’re safe if we can reach the safety zone before getting tagged.”

After a while the kids began to leave, and Bryan ran over to his father. “Dad,” he said, “everybody’s going to Michael’s house to watch TV. Can I go, too?” Dad asked Bryan a few questions about the program they were going to watch, then shook his head. “Aw, Dad,” complained Bryan, “what’s wrong with it? Dustin goes to our church, and he gets to watch it.”

Dad thought for a moment. “The game you were playing can help me explain,” he said. “Think of Satan as being ‘it’ in your life. Your mother and I help to protect you from him by drawing some boundaries. We set limits on what you may do—and that makes your safety zone. We include good things within your boundaries. We leave things that are definitely bad outside the boundaries we set for you.”

“Like drinking and smoking and swearing?” asked Bryan.

“Yes, those things certainly are not allowed in your safety zone. But between the very good and the very bad, there’s a whole range of activities the Bible doesn’t specifically talk about,” explained Dad. “Mom and I consider them, and then at some point we draw a boundary line and say, ‘This is as far as you can go.’”

“And the TV show the guys are going to watch is beyond my safety zone?” asked Bryan. “Then why does Dustin get to see it?”

“Other parents may draw boundaries at different points,” answered Dad. “Some things we consider poor choices may not be wrong, but we have to decide where the line is for us.”

“And Satan can’t get me if I stay inside the boundaries you set?” asked Bryan.

Dad smiled. “I wish that were true,” he said, putting an arm around Byran’s shoulder as they went inside. “But the boundaries can’t keep him out entirely. He doesn’t have as much freedom within the boundaries, but you need to depend on Jesus for complete protection from Satan.”


HOW ABOUT YOU?
Have you wondered why your parents won’t let you do certain things? Do you wonder why you can’t go to some parties or movies that your friends attend? Your mom and dad are not being mean to you. They know that Satan is a powerful force in the world, and God has given them the responsibility to set boundaries for your safety. Obey God and stay within the safety zone.


TODAY'S KEY VERSE:
The devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. 1 Peter 5:8

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« Reply #5533 on: February 24, 2009, 11:31:29 AM »

"Hannah’s Prayer"

Ten-year-old Hannah looked eagerly at the plates of food the waitress set down on the table. She could hardly wait to eat. “Hannah,” said Dad, “why don’t you lead us in giving thanks today?”

Hannah glanced around the busy restaurant. “Right now?” she asked. “What if the waitress comes back with the ketchup?”

“I’m sure she won’t mind waiting,” replied Dad, and they all bowed their heads. Hannah glanced around again, then mumbled a quick prayer.

“I couldn’t even understand what you said,” complained Luke.

“Me neither,” agreed Diana. “You talked too fast.”

“I wasn’t praying to you,” replied Hannah. “God understood me, and He knows I’m thankful.”

“That’s enough, kids,” said Dad. “Hannah’s right. God does know what she prayed—but, honey, Luke and Diana are right, too.”

Mom’s eyes met Hannah’s. “Do you find it embarrassing to pray?” Mom asked.

“No, not usually,” said Hannah, “but everybody is watching us here.”

“Who is?” asked Luke, looking around.

“Well . . . it feels like everybody is watching us when we all close our eyes,” said Hannah. “Why can’t we pray with our eyes open?”

“It isn’t your eyes that God is concerned about; it’s your heart,” said Dad. He paused. “Jesus is a part of your life—like you’re a part of each of our lives,” he added. “How would you feel if we left you home because we didn’t want to be seen talking to you?”

“Left me ho . . .” began Hannah. She stopped and stared. “You don’t like to be seen talking with me?”

Dad smiled. “Actually, we do,” he said, “but how would you feel if we didn’t?”

“I . . . I . . . Pretty bad,” admitted Hannah after a moment. Then she put down her fork. “Can I pray again?” she asked. Mom and Dad nodded.

“Dear God,” began Hannah, and from her heart she thanked God for the food. She finished with a hearty “amen,” which was repeated by another “amen” beside the table. Hannah looked up as the waitress smiled and handed her the ketchup.


HOW ABOUT YOU?
Is it hard to show love for God when unbelievers are nearby? Do you wonder what people will think if you bow your head and pray in public? Are you afraid kids will think you’re strange if you politely ask them not to swear? Or if you tell them you don’t want to do wrong things because you’re a Christian? Jesus suffered public scorn when He went to the cross and died for you. Never be ashamed of Him!


TODAY'S KEY VERSE:
Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord. 2 timothy 1:8

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« Reply #5534 on: February 25, 2009, 09:32:46 AM »

"Same Old Thing"

Robbie watched as his sister Brittany put on her coat, ready to leave for the children’s rally at their church. “It’s too bad you have a cold and can’t come,” said Brittany.

Robbie shrugged. “Oh, well,” he said, “Pastor Walters said the speaker would be talking about Noah. I’ve heard that story lots of times. It’ll just be more of the same old thing.” He noticed Mom frown when he said that. But it is the same old thing, Robbie told himself. I’m glad I don’t have to go. Muffling a sneeze, he turned on the TV.

“Watching the Lions and Bears game?” asked Dad after Mom and Brittany left. “That’s a delayed broadcast, isn’t it? You know who won.”

Robbie nodded. “Yeah,” he said, “but I like to see it anyway.”

When Mom and Brittany came home, the game had ended and Robbie was looking through some old baseball magazines. “Anybody hungry?” asked Mom.

“I am! Let’s have pizza!” suggested Robbie promptly.

“You want pizza again?” asked Mom. “We had it just two nights ago.”

“I never get tired of pizza,” replied Robbie, and the others agreed. It sounded good to them, too.

As they ate, Brittany mentioned that she had enjoyed the special children’s rally at church, but Robbie wasn’t impressed. “I still say it’s the same old thing. I already know all about Noah,” he told her. “Ask me anything.”

“How big was the ark, compared to a football field?” asked Brittany. “And how high was it?”

“Well, I . . . ah . . .” Robbie’s voice faded out. He didn’t know the answers.

“You say the story of Noah is the ‘same old thing,’ but the TV rerun of a football game is exciting to you,” observed Dad.

“And you’d probably like to have pizza almost every day,” said Mom.

“And you read the same old sports magazines over and over,” added Brittany.

“Why is everybody ganging up on me?” protested Robbie.

Dad smiled. “We just don’t want you to think of the Bible as being ‘the same old thing,’ because it isn’t,” he said. “There are always new facts and lessons to be learned—even from stories you already know.”


HOW ABOUT YOU?
Do you listen for something new each time you hear or read the Bible? No matter how many times you’ve heard a story, there are still more lessons to learn and instructions to obey. Always ask God to teach you and give you understanding as you read. Listen with a mind that is open to what He’s saying to you.


TODAY'S KEY VERSE:
Give me understanding, and I shall keep Your law; indeed, I shall observe it with my whole heart. Psalm 119:34

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