Sunday, December 27, 2009
New Year’s Day is the biggest day of the year for people to choose to change. Most of them don’t change at all. Ever. But they decide to change every year on New Year’s Day. New Year’s Day could be a party for you or just a night to stay up really late, but it is really not much different than all of the other days of your long life. You just have to start writing a different year, and you have to decide if you are going to call it two thousand ten or twenty ten. It is just a day, but writing a new year, starting a new year, the first day of a new decade is a good time to think about who you are, how you act and what you want to change.
A change on New Year’s Day is called a New Year’s Resolution. A resolution is a sure choice, something that you won’t change your mind about. I think a New Year’s Resolution is a good idea. You might even make a list of two or three or four things that you are for sure going to do this year that will make you better than you were last year.
Jonathan Edwards is a famous revival preacher who was born more than 300 years ago. It’s hard to believe that people way back then knew anything, but they did. Jonathan Edwards is a great man to study and you can start right here on this page. When Jonathan was 19 and 20 years old he made a list of resolutions. His list had 70 things on it. For normal people, that is too many. Also, he didn’t make his list just at New Year’s. He worked on it for a couple of years. But he had a lot of great ones and he had some great ideas about how to make them work. First he read his list every week. That helped him to remember what the list said and remember to do the stuff on the list. Also Jonathan Edwards knew that he could not follow the list all by himself, so he prayed for God’s help and God’s power to help him do the good things that he put on his list.
It would be great for you to do some of the same things that Jonathan Edwards did, but his list is sort of hard to read. I read his list and put some of my favorites into easier words for you to read. Read Jonathan’s list and pick a few for you to do.
1. Never lose time. Never waste time. Use every minute in the best way I can.
2. Live my life with all my strength, while I live.
3. Never do anything that I would be afraid to do if I knew I would die in one hour.
4. Any time I feel pain, think about two huge pains: first people who die for God and second hell.
5. Any time I think of a question about science or math or God, I need to find the answer.
6. If anything makes my pride bigger, makes me think that I am great, throw that thing away.
7. Never do anything for revenge. Never try to get back at someone.
8. Never be angry at something that can’t think like a dog or a toy or a baby or a snowflake.
9. Never say bad words about another person.
10. Be careful to eat right.
11. Find anything in me that doubts the love of God and fight against that doubt.
12. Read and study the Bible more and more so that every day of my life I know more of the Bible than I did the day before.
Just 12 of the 70 great resolutions of Jonathan Edwards. Pick something from this list or pick
something else, but remember to write it down and read it every week. And pray for God to help you do it.
Sunday, December 20, 2009
Really Read It: I Peter 2
Memorize: I Peter 2:9 But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.
That little alien had a flawless plan. His one man ship was small enough to slip past the airplanes and the star watchers. He landed at night outside of town where no one would see. It all worked perfectly. He got to earth secretly. The next morning he went to school. That is when his plan failed. He could do nothing secretly. He didn't look normal in math class because he was the only one with green skin. He couldn't blend in during reading because he said, "veem, veer, veez," instead of "A, B, C." P.E. class went wrong when he jumped into the basketball hoop instead of throwing the ball in. After all that lunch was the worst part of his day. He ate the trash can instead of his food. He didn't look the same, he didn't act the same, and he didn't think the same as anyone else at school. He could not fit in. He could not blend in.
Peter told the Jesus followers to be aliens. Peter is famous for being one of the top guys with Jesus. He is known for some of the biggest mess-ups but also for some of the biggest hero moments of the Bible. After Jesus went up to heaven, Peter was the main leader of the church. One of the things he did to lead the church was to write down some important stuff. Some of Peter's words are in the Bible. In I Peter 2:11, Peter calls God's people aliens. I don't think that Peter had any ideas about little, green men from space. He used the word to mean a person from a different country. But the idea is the same. Peter was telling those people that they should be aliens. If you look at a regular person and then look at a God person, there should be big time differences that are easy to see. The way they act, the words they use, the way they think.
When Peter told those people 2,000 years ago to be aliens, it was really God telling them. And God has the same words for you today. If you are a child of God, then you should be an alien. It should be easy to tell that you are different from the normal kids of the world. If you want to learn how to be different, you can read the rest of I Peter 2 and the rest of 1 Peter really. Peter has a lot of ways for you to be an alien.
Sunday, December 13, 2009
Grandpa Jacob was the grandpa that I hardly knew at all. He was my dad’s dad. My mom’s side grandpa I always saw a lot from when I was even a baby. Grandpa Jacob I only met when I was six and I only even saw him three times. But that last time I saw him was the best big-time day of my whole life and I know it’s gonna stay that even when I am grown up and then when I am old. That day will always matter more than all of my other days. I went to see him with my dad and my big brother. When Dad talked to us on the way he sounded sad, but also serious. I could tell he thought this was a big deal.
“Boys, I am taking you to see my dad, your grandfather, and… and I think he is dying.” Well that did not make me think it was a good day. I didn’t really want to watch a old guy die and like I said I didn’t really know him. But dad kept going and how he talked made me sort of scared but not only scared. “My dad is going to talk to you, and he is going to say important words. You see, God talks to my dad and God blesses my dad more than anybody else in the world. And God is going to tell him what to say about you. He is going to say God’s words to you.”
Wouldn’t that make you a little scared? Maybe you’re a wimp and it would make you a lot scared. You’d have to be a fool to not be at least a little scared by that. God is going to tell me all about my life. I’m just a kid. I’ve got a lot of life left. I hope.
When we got there Dad and Grandpa started talking to each other like we weren’t even in the room. And I started hoping they would forget about Grandpa telling me God’s words, but then I was scared they would forget about Grandpa telling me God’s words. I wanted him to but I didn’t. But I wanted it more than I didn’t.
And then Grandpa stopped right in the middle a story about when his wife died, looked right at us, and said, “Are these your sons?"
Dad said, "Yes."
"Bring them over here so I can bless them," Grandpa asked from his bed.
My whole body started tingling and I was more excited than ever and more scared than ever. My brain wanted to get God, but my brain was not my loudest talker. Inside of me there was something else that wanted what God was giving so bad.
Dad put me in front of him on one side and my big brother on the other. I found out that the side was a big deal. The little brother got a blessing from God, but the big brother got the best blessing. I had no idea when I stood there and Grandpa put his hands on us, but he blessed Dad first. Then Dad stopped him and said his hands were wrong. That was the whole thing about the oldest son gets the best blessing. And Dad was getting worked up about it.
"This one is the oldest. Put your right hand on him. Give him the best blessing."
Grandpa kept his hands crossed just like they were and spoke powerfully first to Dad and then to us. He talked about nations, and so many people that come from us, and big time money, and blessings. Most of the words made sense to my brain, but the greatest thing about those words was how they went deep down inside of me and I felt like my insides were alive for the first time ever. Sure I'd been breathing before. I did it since I was born. But when those words went inside of me, it felt like I was breathing better than I ever did before. It seemed like I could see better, colors were brighter, I could see more in things. More mattered. And was it because it of the words, or because it was Grandpa Jacob who said them, or was it because he crossed his arms and gave me the right hand, the better hand? I think all that stuff was good. But the real change was God. It wasn't really an old grandpa who crossed his arms. Really God crossed His arms and reached out to me with a better blessing than I was supposed to get. God gave me better than I ever should have had.
This is my guess about a great little story from the Bible. Grandpa is Jacob who tricked Esau, tricked his dad, and wrestled with God. Dad is Joseph who got a coat from his dad and was sold by his brothers. The kids are Manasseh, the oldest, and Ephraim, the youngest. But God and Jesus and you are in this story too. Over and over in the Bible, God put in stories to show what He is like and what he is going to do in Jesus. I think this is one of them. In this story God is like Jacob giving the blessing and speaking what will happen in your life. Jesus is the big brother. He is the first born of all the people ever made or ever born. And Jesus is the one who should get all of the greatest best stuff ever. You are the little brother, and you could maybe have the stuff that's left over after the big brother gets what he wants.
But God crossed His arms.
God reached out to you. God reaches out to you. And gives you the best blessing. He gives you the great things that only Jesus should really have. You get to have blessing, healing, power, wholeness, vision, peace, and fill-up-your-body life.
Sunday, December 6, 2009
A Quick Look: Matthew 2:7 – 12
Really Read It: Matthew 1 – 2
Memorize: Matthew 2:11 On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh.
Christmas is weird. Don’t get mad. Weird doesn’t always mean bad, but it is weird. A huge tree inside the house is weird. Hanging tons of toys and lights on a tree is weird. Little lights to show off the shape of your house is weird. Huge socks hanging up is weird. Chubby, bearded strangers holding kids is weird. Animal and baby statues on the lawn is weird. There are reasons for all of those weirds. You could find out if you want, but it might ruin Christmas.
This page does not tell about those weirds. This page is to get rid of one more Christmas weird that is a bad one.
It is weird to have a special day for Jesus and give Him nothing.
The good news of the Bible, the great news of Jesus is that God comes down to people. The Bible tells of so many times when God came down from heaven to help His people. And every time He came down, the smart people gave to Him.
Gideon is famous because he led a small army and wiped out a big army with God’s help. When God first showed up to talk to Gideon, Gideon made great effort to give God a great meal. He couldn’t pull a frozen pizza out. He had to kill a goat and make some bread from scratch. When God showed up, Gideon gave.
Many other smart men of the Bible gave dead animals to God: Abel, Abraham, David, Elijah. But a woman impresses me more than any of those guys. One evening when Jesus was on the earth a woman brought him a big gift, a jar of perfume. Most of you would be sad if your best birthday present was a $100 jar of perfume dumped on your feet. But for Jesus it was the perfect gift. God showed up on earth and that woman gave.
At Christmas the most famous givers are the Magi or the Kings or the Wise Men from the East. There are three of them in every Christmas story but the Bible one. The Bible does not tell how many Magi came to give Jesus stuff. What if there were ninety or them? We don’t know how many Magi came, but we know that when God came down, these guys spent a lot of money and a lot of time to take a trip. And on that trip they gave a lot of money to a baby. God showed up on the earth and the Magi gave, and gave big.
God keeps coming down today. A lot of people say that Christmas is a special day to say thank you to God for coming to earth. If that’s true then you need to give to God. But what does God want? I have heard that God doesn’t want money. He wants your heart. I would have to agree with that. God already has all the money and all of the stuff. God does want your heart, your loyalty, your strength. But God knows that money is connected to your heart. You cannot say, “God, I give you my heart and I keep all of my money for myself.” To give God your heart, you have to give Him stuff. A lot of stuff. If God has your heart then it will be easy to give Him more than you get this month.
Isaiah 9:2 – 7
The people walking in darkness
have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of the shadow of death
a light has dawned.
3 You have enlarged the nation
and increased their joy;
they rejoice before you
as people rejoice at the harvest,
as men rejoice
when dividing the plunder.
4 For as in the day of Midian's defeat,
you have shattered
the yoke that burdens them,
the bar across their shoulders,
the rod of their oppressor.
5 Every warrior's boot used in battle
and every garment rolled in blood
will be destined for burning,
will be fuel for the fire.
6 For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
7 Of the increase of his government and peace
there will be no end.
He will reign on David's throne
and over his kingdom,
establishing and upholding it
with justice and righteousness
from that time on and forever.
The zeal of the LORD Almighty
will accomplish this.
Sunday, November 29, 2009
A Quick Look: Esther 4:13-17
Really Read It: Esther 1:1-Esther 10:3
Memorize: Revelation 19:7 Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready.
Some kids know what a mailbox is and almost as many have heard of the old time use of paper to write a letter. If you don’t know what a letter is, don’t worry. You will learn about it in history class soon. But I want you imagine that you opened the mailbox and found a letter to you that said this.
You have been picked for a special job. If you live, you will make $55,000 and see your story on TV. If you die, you will not get the money and you won’t care that you are on TV. If you want this job, in three months we will pick you up in a helicopter. You can bring your backpack packed with whatever you want. The helicopter will take you to the top of a mountain in Canada and leave you there. If you can live for three months, you get the money.
We hope you can come.
Kids On A Mountain TV
I don’t think the laws in America or Canada would allow this to happen, but think about what you would do if it did. What would you do to get ready for this mountain adventure? What would you study? What would you practice? What would you learn to do? What would you take with you? How would you prepare?
The story of Esther from the Book of Esther in the Bible is so amazing. If this story was on TV I would say it was too amazing to be a realistic story. The TV writers should do better to make it so I believe it. This story just has too many things that are just too surprising. This story fits together like a really tough puzzle that looks like nothing until you get the last piece. And then all of a sudden, it’s a great picture. I am not going to retell any of the story here, so you have just got to read it in the Bible.
Two times in the story, Esther had to prepare, to get ready. The first time she had to get ready to meet the king to see if he would pick her to be his wife or not. This one may have been like practicing to be a model. The king must have picked his wife mostly because of her looks. The king’s workers put special stuff on her skin for a whole year and gave her the right clothes and jewelry. She might have prepared in other ways too. Maybe she had to study language, history, cooking, poetry. Those are all guesses, but Esther prepared to meet the king and it worked. He liked her better than any of the other women.
The second time Esther had to prepare was to save all of the Jewish people, her people from death. This preparing was only three days but it was tough. Esther prepared to go and see the king by fasting and praying to God. Fasting means eating no food. For Esther fasting meant no eating and no drinking for three days. Esther prepared to see the king and it worked. The king saved Esther’s life and the lives of her people.
Like I said, you really need to read this story. I put in only a little bit of two little parts of Esther’s story. But when you read it, or even before you read it, or if you skip out and never read it, I want you to copy Esther in the way she prepared. Esther prepared to marry a king. Your job is to get ready for Jesus. The Bible says that the people that love Jesus are His bride. It is pretty hard to think of Jesus marrying so many people, and it is even harder for boys to think about a wedding dress. So skip that and think about what you can do to get ready for Jesus.
If Jesus was going to come to your house in three months, what would you do to prepare? What would you do to your house? What would you make? What would you clean? What would you buy? And Jesus would like all of those things. But He would look at your life, at your heart more than your house. What would you study? What would you practice? What would you learn to do? What would you think? What would you do? What would you say? How would you pray? How would you worship? How would you prepare for Jesus?
Now take those answers. Take all those things that you would do to get ready for Jesus to come to your house and start on them right away. Jesus is coming to your house so you must get ready. But Jesus is not coming in three months. Jesus is coming now and you are not ready. Get ready quick. Keep getting ready and stay ready for Jesus. If you do, Jesus will come, and Jesus will stay so close all the days of your life.
Sunday, November 15, 2009
A Quick Look: Jude 17-23
Really Read It: Jude
Memorize: Jude 20-21 But you, dear friends, build yourselves up in your most holy faith and pray in the Holy Spirit. Keep yourselves in God's love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life.
“And now for the longest race of the day. All 6400 meter runners report to the starting line right away. The race will begin in two minutes.”
Chet started for the starting line as soon as he heard the voice from the loud speaker. That was his race. He had been waiting all day. He looked at the track as he walked toward it. It didn’t look that big. Chet was sure he could run a lap around it quick and easy. He was not so sure about 16 laps.
Two minutes later the starter shot the fake gun and Chet took off with the crowd of runners. Chet stayed right in the middle of the pack for the first lap. He fell back a little on the second lap as the runners began to spread out. And on the third lap, Chet stopped running and hid behind the high jump mat. He sat in his hiding place and stared at his watch for 13 minutes. Then he snuck back to the track and ran right back into the race.
One lap to go for the race leader and Chet was just three steps behind. Chet’s rested legs carried him past the race leader and the crowd cheered as Chet crossed the finish line. Chet looked good with his gold medal, but he didn’t win anything.
I made up Chet, the fake winner. I got the idea when I read the book of Jude. If you want to read a whole book of the Bible in less time than Chet was hiding, you could try Jude. The whole book in only 25 verses long. Jude was not a fake winner, but he wrote about people who look like they love God, when they don’t. You can tell if you really know these people. You would never give Chet 1st place if you watched him for the whole race. But if you just saw the end, he would be your winner. Jude had at least five ways to describe these church people:.
- Shepherds who only feed themselves
- His whole job is to take care of the sheep, but instead of finding food for them, he finds food for himself while the sheep starve. Bad shepherd right?
- Clouds without rain
- You may like these clouds if you are playing baseball. Rain could end the game, but the clouds would be nice shade. So forget baseball and pretend you are a strawberry plant. Then you would be looking up at the sky waiting for the clouds to roll in. The clouds that come but give you no rain are much, much worse than no clouds at all.
- Autumn trees without fruit
- If you climb an apple tree in September, you should find some apples. A tree without any is wasting water, wasting dirt. It should be used for firewood.
- Wild waves of the sea
- Wandering stars
Jude explained these people better than just trees, clouds, and waves. He called them godless, but remember these are people in the church. So if you go to church you might see one of these people. Or if you go to church this might be you. Jude wrote about the people that God got out of slavery in Egypt. God saved them. He did so many great things for them, but in the end, they did not follow Him. That’s just like a kid that God saved and helped and healed, but the kid stopped following God.
In verse 11 Jude put in three bad guy names, but all three guys were guys who knew a lot about God. They knew God, but they did not follow. They did things that God hates to help themselves.
1. Bad Guy Number One is Cain. He learned about God from his dad, Adam. He knew how to worship, but his brother did a better job at worshipping God. So Cain killed his brother. Never hate someone who loves God more than you. Never hate someone who worships with more strength than you. Never hate God’s ways and God’s plan.
2. Bad Guy Number Two is Balaam. There’s a good chance that you know that Balaam’s donkey talked to him. That was not his problem. Balaam big mess up was after that. Balaam knew all about God, and he heard God speak better than maybe anyone alive today. He said some great words about God and about Jesus that you can find in the Bible. But Balaam had no heart for God. He wanted a king to like him and he wanted money. I wonder what you would pick if you had the choice that Balaam had. One choice was to be great friends with a king and get rich. The other choice was to be hated by that king, get no money, and find the favor of God. Balaam picked the wrong thing.
3. Bad Guy Number Three is Korah. He was a slave in Egypt until God sent Moses to get him out. But after that, he did not want to follow Moses. He wanted to be the boss. He wanted people to follow him.
Now you have seen more examples of church bad guys. Trees, clouds, waves, Cain, Balaam, Korah. They can all be confusing. They all knew about God and kept right on going their own way. And the ending for every one of them is worse than bad. So make sure that you are not like any of them. Forget your own way. Forget what you want. Find God’s way and find what God wants. It really is better. It’s not just better in the end. It’s better right now. It feels better. It works better. And isn’t that what you told God when you started? Didn’t you tell Jesus that you wanted Him to have His way in you? Didn’t you ask God to take over your life? Then why to you keep fighting for your way like the trees, clouds, waves, Cain, Balaam, and Korah?
Sunday, November 8, 2009
Really Read It: Acts 16: 1-40
Memorize: Psalm 135:3 Praise the LORD, for the LORD is good; sing praise to his name, for that is pleasant.
Here is a sad page from the journal of a foolish little girl who lived just 500 years into the future. Besides the ear lobe computer and the shoulder rockets, Zola has a happiness gauge on her right pinkie nail.
Zola’s Journal for November 8, 2509
I went to church today but I didn’t do anything. I mean I couldn’t do any worship or good prayers or anything because my pinkie showed just 62% happy. I like that better than the really low numbers for sure. But I never worship God unless He makes me at least 80% happy. Oh wow, it just went down two more points. I bet that’s because I don’t like the shape of that cloud right there. Oh well, I’ll see how the clouds and the pinkie look next week. Gotta go. Bye.
The 2009 happiness gauge is just in your head, and you don’t put it in a number. But a bunch of kids use it the same way that Zola did. How many kids are great worshipers when things are going great but do nothing when things don’t go the way you want? Your job is not to worship God because you are happy. You are not ready to worship because your life is easy. Don’t worship God because nothing bad happened to you. Worship God because of who God is, and that never changes.
Paul and Silas are a great example of this. You should read their whole story in Acts 16, but I want to put some of it right here in my words too. Paul and Silas made a rich guy really mad. It is pretty weird the way they did it. They got a demon out of this guy’s slave. But with the demon this slave made money for the owner. So the slave owner was so mad at Paul and Silas that they took them to court. They were able to get Paul and Silas in trouble. A lot of trouble. Paul and Silas were beaten (flogged really) and chained up in prison. I know a little bit about what happened when men were flogged and really is it too bad to put in here, but it is bad, bad, painful, bad stuff. And Paul and Silas got that for helping a girl. They did nothing wrong. What if Silas had a little pinkie happiness gauge? What would it show?
But he worshipped and Paul worshipped in the prison into the night. They were loud worshipers even though the other prisoners could hear them. Most kids won’t worship loud enough for the person next to them in church to hear. These guys worshipped loud and they did it when things were bad.
The story has a really neat ending. God set them free with an earthquake, but they didn’t leave. Then the prison guard started following Jesus and made great friends with Paul and Silas. And Paul and Silas wouldn’t leave even when the big bosses told them to, because they weren’t treated right. You should read all of that and you can learn a lot of lessons from it. Like the power of God (that’s the earthquake part) or what you should act like after you get saved (you could learn that from the prison guard.)
After you read all of that, remember that Paul and Silas had it really bad and they worshipped God because He is God. They weren’t worshipping to get something. They worshipped because of the greatness, powerfulness, brightness of an awesome, forever God.
Sunday, November 1, 2009
Really Read It: Acts 7: 51-60, Luke 15:11-31, Luke 23:32-49
Memorize: Matthew 6:14 For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.
Squid the Squirrel and Squire the Squirrel lived at the end of the world. They knew as well as you do that the world is a ball so it doesn’t really have an end. They still called their home the end of the world, because their 70 foot tree was perched on the top of a 700 foot cliff. One day Squid and Squire sat in the highest of high branches of their tree and watched the clouds float by below them as they talked about their winter food.
“We didn’t store quite as much as last year,” Squire began. “But if we just cut back a little we’ll make it to spring just fine. I might even loose a little of my chubby squirrel belly if spring comes late.”
“Sure,” snapped Squid. “We could make it, but it’s really only enough for one squirrel. So I think we should split up.”
“What do you mean?” asked Squire.
“I mean,” said Squid mealy, “That I will stay here and you will go down there!” With that he lunged at Squire, knocked him off balance, and shoved him off of the branch.
Squire did not fall 70 feet to the bottom of the tree. He fell 770 feet to the bottom of the cliff. And while he was falling to his death, Squire considered what Squid had just done and talked to God about it. “God please forgive Squid for the awful thing he had just done. God please…” And he said no more because he hit the ground.
Can a squirrel forgive another squirrel for a sin as bad as murder?
No. Squirrels are not smart enough to sin or forgive.
Can a person forgive another person for a sin as bad as murder?
Yes. Few victims get the chance to forgive because they are dead, but the Bible tells of at least two people who did just what Squire the Squirrel did.
Jesus looked at his murderers and looked up to heaven to ask God to forgive them. Jesus forgave the worst possible crime, the worst possible sin, the worst possible act. But the forgiveness of Jesus was not, is not just for that day. Jesus bought forgiveness for the worst thing and the tiny bit bad thing and every bad thing in between. That is good news for anyone who has ever done anything wrong. (That’s everyone.) God wants his people to be close to him. But God is perfect and you are not. That difference, perfect on one side and messed up on the other side, makes it so that God and people can’t be close. They can’t be close without forgiveness. Jesus already paid for it, and God is ready to forgive right when you call out to him for it.
There are a few ways to stop forgiveness. You can stop forgiveness if you don’t want it. Simple right. But it’s a big deal. You have to want to be close to God, you have to want God, and you have to want forgiveness. If you don’t want it, don’t worry. You are not going to get it. The other way to stop God’s forgiveness coming to you is to stop forgiving other people. Matthew 6:14 says it very clearly, and you will not get forgiveness from God if you will not forgive other people.
Most likely Stephen learned about Jesus the same way you did. Stephen didn’t meet Jesus face to face like Peter and John. Stephen learned about Jesus by hearing people talk about Him and maybe reading about Him. But Stephen called out to Jesus for forgiveness, salvation, to be close to God. And Jesus came to Stephen. He sent Stephen the Holy Spirit. And Stephen did great things for God. But not for very long. Stephen was killed. As he was being killed, Stephen knew what was happening and he had time to forgive his killers as they were killing him. Stephen forgave the worst.
Stephen is a great example for you. The Holy Spirit filled him and gave him to power to forgive the worst. Stephen chose to forgive the worst. Stephen stayed in the forgiveness of God. Stephen stayed close to Jesus.
What would it look like if a church was filled with the Holy Spirit? You can watch a video and see what the Holy Spirit does. http://www.worldrevivalchurch.com
You can find more of Nathan’s writing on lulu and helium.
Monday, October 26, 2009
Really Read It: 1 Samuel 1:21- 1 Samuel 2:11, Luke 17:11-17, Luke 12:13-21
Memorize:1 Samuel 2:1 Then Hannah prayed and said: "My heart rejoices in the LORD; in the LORD my horn is lifted high. My mouth boasts over my enemies, for I delight in your deliverance.”
Tronco was the biggest, meanest, toughest fighting bull on the farm. Don was the biggest, meanest, toughest bull fighter on the farm. Day after day these enemies met. They fought, they speared, they ran, they jabbed, they struggled and strained for victory. And at the battle’s end, Don always raised his spear in victory while Tronco stood in silence.
You might think less of Don if you knew that the only reason he was the toughest bull fighter on the farm was that he was the only bull fighter on the farm. You might think even less of him if you knew that while Tronco was the toughest bull on the farm, he was also the only bull. And even worse, he was not a real bull. Don wanted to be a bull fighter so badly that he made Tronco from a few logs, a few boards, and four old wagon wheels.
So day after day, Don fought his fake bull, but he also prayed. Don asked God to make him a great bull fighter. And God did it. The steps are boring, but the day came when Don stood in a huge bull fighting ring with a huge bull and a huge crowd watching. Don fought that bull with great skill and great flare. He won his fight, but he lost his God. Don told his fans how strong he was, how smart he was, and how quick he was. He forgot that he asked God, begged God to make him a great bull fighter. He forgot that God did it. He forgot God as soon as he got the blessing. Don never won another bull fight. He couldn’t even beat Tronco after that, so he worked shoveling bull dung for the rest of his life.
Don is a made up guy who got it wrong. Hannah is a real girl who got it right. I hope you can learn from both of them.
Hannah had some fights in her life too. She didn’t fight with a bull. She probably didn’t fight at all, but another woman fought her, insulted her, and made her life awful. It was all about kids. Hannah really wanted a kid. If you are a kid, you see a kid every time you look in the mirror. You see kids at school, at church, at the park, at the zoo, at the pizza place… There are kids all over, but there are a lot of grownups who really want to have a kid and they just don’t. Hannah was like that. I’m pretty sure that Hannah wanted a son more than Don wanted to fight a bull. I think that she wanted a son more than you have ever wanted anything. Hannah prayed so hard that she looked like she was going crazy. And God answered. Hannah got what she wanted, she got her answer from God.
Don messed up after that and a lot of people act like he did. They get what they want and then they forget God. Hannah didn’t do that. Hannah brought her son to God’s house and gave him to God. And Hannah prayed. In her prayer she told God how great he was, she praised Him, she thanked Him. And she talked about what happens to people who forget God. The guys who get from God and then forget God loose the gift. God gives money, food, kids, health but it fades away when you forget God. Hannah’s life has a happy ending. Her first son, the one she gave to God, was Samuel. And Samuel had a great life in God and lived as a great man, famous and trusted in his country. But Hannah had other children too, and God blessed her.
Jesus healed a lot of people when he was walking around on the earth. The Bible doesn’t always tell what the people did after they got better, but one time it does. In Luke 17 there were ten guys who all had a skin sickness called leprosy. Jesus healed all of them, but only one came back to Jesus. He came, “praising God in a loud voice. He threw himself at Jesus' feet and thanked him.” Jesus said that his loud praising and his thanking was showing his faith. And his faith made him well.
Hannah and this man had faith and it came out in thanks and praises to God. It made the blessings of God keep going. Jesus told a story about a man who got great blessings from God, but after he got them he showed no faith. This guy was a farmer and he got a crop so big that he became rich. Then he said to himself, “You have plenty of good things laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.”
Jesus ended the story this way, “But God said to him, 'You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?' This is how it will be with anyone who stores up things for himself but is not rich toward God."
“Rich toward God” might make more sense than the word “faith.” Rich toward God sounds like a money thing. And it could be. If God does for you and it has to do with money, then part of being rich toward God is giving God money. But rich toward God is way better and way bigger than just money. Rich toward God means you remember God like Hannah. She kept her promise to God and she kept praising God and thanking God all of her life. God gives a lot of blessings that are not about money. Without money can you still be rich toward God? How did Hannah do it? How was the healed man rich toward God? What about Don? How would his story end, if he remembered to be rich toward God after he got his blessing? See if you can change that to a story with a happy ending. You could make up a new ending for that rich farmer story too. What would his life be like, if he were rich toward God?
What would church look like if the people were trying to be rich toward God? You can watch a video of a church like that. http://www.worldrevivalchurch.com
You can find more of Nathan’s writing on lulu and helium.
Sunday, October 18, 2009
Really Read It: Proverbs 1:1-33
Memorize: Proverbs 9:10 "The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.
James 3:17 “But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.”
Paul’s search for wisdom was much like Solomon’s. Paul read and studied and taught the Scriptures, but he had no wisdom until he was struck by the power of God. As a young man Paul believed the Scriptures gave him all the wisdom he would ever need. But then God, gave him the Holy Spirit. God gave Paul the supernatural gift of wisdom. God taught Paul the Scriptures. God revealed the gospel. God reached into Paul’s mind and gave him wisdom. After that Paul looked back at the laws and regulations in which he had once trusted. He said they had the appearance of wisdom, but they lack value. They lack the power to change a life. (1 Corinthians 2:13, Colossians 2:23)
Solomon and Paul are great examples of wisdom, but Jesus is no doubt the best the world has seen. Jesus is seated in heaven with full wisdom, all wisdom. The man Jesus when He walked on our earth did not have full wisdom, but He did speak and act through the Spirit of wisdom. (Isaiah 11:2, Luke 2:40)
It is through Jesus that this wisdom is available to His children. People can get wisdom only through the blood of Jesus. He bought it. His blood paid for the sin of humanity. His blood is redemption for the earth. But it also paid for wisdom. Jesus became the wisdom of God for His people. (1 Corinthians 1:30, Ephesians 1:7-9)
Wisdom is in Jesus. God wants to give wisdom to His people. But that doesn’t mean that every person sitting in church has it. Sadly that is far from the truth. Wisdom is needed. Wisdom will stop destruction in any life. But God doesn’t send wisdom just because it is needed. God does not respond to need. God responds to faith. God responds to hunger, desire, and passion. Wisdom would not be so rare if people who name the name of Jesus would truly desire it, seek it. Solomon said, “Wisdom calls aloud in the street, she raises her voice in the public square.” (Proverbs 1:20) Wisdom is not hard to find. It is available. You don’t have to find to public square to find wisdom. Solomon really means that you can get wisdom. Today, you have it close enough to you for you to reach out and get it. Today you will get one day older. You can ‘t stop that. You are turning into an old person. But are you turning into a wise person. You can stop that or you can find one day’s wisdom today.
Sunday, October 11, 2009
A Quick Look: Proverbs 1:2-5
Really Read It: Proverbs 1:1-33
Memorize: Proverbs 9:10 "The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.
James 3:17 “But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.”
Old people are the wise ones and kids are foolish. That’s how it works. When you first got to the earth, you didn’t know how to talk or walk. The biggest challenge of your day was to touch your nose, and you couldn’t do it. But you learned so much so quickly until you got to be the smart and able person that you are today. And if you keep learning, you will be really smart when you are really old. But the truth is there are a lot of foolish grownups and foolish old people. You only get to be a wise old person if you get a little wisdom each day and you keep adding and keep growing in wisdom. So a kid doesn’t have to be foolish. It is foolish to wait until you are old to get wisdom. It wouldn’t work. You have to start getting wisdom now. Keep getting it and keep doing it all of your life.
God is ready to give wisdom. He wants to His people to have it. He wants His children to live by it. God doesn’t waste His wisdom; He only gives it to His people. To get the wisdom of God, a person must first fear God. A child of God will worship and reverence God. If that heart is in you, that God fearing, God reverencing, soft heart then God will begin to give wisdom. But that is a big if. It is everything. The fear of the Lord is life changing, life directing. It’s salvation. It’s being born again. It’s your whole heart. It’s all of Christianity. God will give His wisdom to that person. He wants His children to have it, but He also wants His children to want to. God is looking for people who are seeking His wisdom, living out the wisdom that they know, and working to get more. James wrote that anyone who doesn’t have wisdom should ask for it in James 1:5. The problem with wisdom is that the people who don’t have it, don’t have enough wisdom to know that they need wisdom. An easy solution and the honest solution is that everyone should ask for wisdom. No one is walking the earth today who has enough wisdom. No one has gotten all of the wisdom that God wants to give.
God gives wisdom in two ways. He gives wisdom through His word and He gives wisdom through the Holy Spirit. Moses is a great place to start to see the Word as a source of wisdom. God spoke to Moses so that he could write the first five books of the Bible. Of course, at the time they were written, they were not the first five books of the Bible. Those books made up the whole Bible for the brand new nation of Israel moving into their own land. Moses taught them from the Word of God, and in Deuteronomy 4, he spoke about the importance of the Word. At the beginning of this chapter Moses told them to remember and do the Word, to live as the Word directs, to live by its wisdom. Moses even told them that if they did, other nations would be impressed by their lives. A life of wisdom doing the Word was meant to be a tool to advance the Kingdom of God. When other nations saw that wisdom, they would be jealous to have that wisdom for themselves. If Israel lived it, other nations around them would turn to the God of Israel. Sadly the Bible shows only a few instances when this happened. That is because Israel didn’t do the Word very much. The same is true today. When the people of God seek wisdom from the Word and display it in their lives, people who care nothing for God will notice. Sadly this doesn’t happen much.
A look at Biblical wisdom cannot leave out Solomon. We are almost sure that Solomon studied the Word like Moses said to do. His father David would have made sure that his son read the laws of the Tabernacle and the Ark. It seems that Solomon would have read the words of Samuel and David that told about the great works of God in the years just before he was born. Solomon should have gained wisdom that way, but he got more wisdom than any other person on earth when God gave it to him. Solomon is a great example of getting wisdom through the Word and getting supernatural wisdom through the Holy Spirit. But what did he say about wisdom after he had gotten so much? In Proverbs 1, he wrote that the Proverbs, and I would add all of the Word of God, are for getting wisdom. But as he continued in the first Proverb, he brought in the idea of teachers. Parents are the most important teachers for children, and they must impart Godly wisdom to their children. But gaining wisdom doesn’t end when childhood ends. God gives wisdom through His Word, but for God’s people to get wisdom, good Bible teachers are also needed.
Start getting mercy right now from the Bible, from good teachers, and from the Holy Spirit. And remember to test the thing that you think is great.
Test the thing that you think is wisdom with James 3:17.
Sunday, October 4, 2009
A Quick Look: Acts 8:15-17
Really Read It: Acts 2, Acts 8, Acts 10
Memorize: Acts 1:5 For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.
“Hey, Dad, look. I found a cordless fan. This will be great for our camping trip. This thing can run in our tent all night and we’ll be cool as ice.”
“That looks just like the fan I had in the garage, Son. Were did you find it?”
“Wow, how did you know? I found it in the garage.”
“But the fan in the garage isn’t cordless…”
“It is now, Dad. Check it out.”
Dad took the fan from his foolish son and looked it over. It was true there was no cord anywhere, just a useless little stump where the cord used to be. It was not true that it would be great for the camping trip. A piece of tree bark could do just as well as that fan at keeping the campers cool. The fan had no power.
I drive a 1999 Suzuki Esteem with 160,000 miles on it. If you have seen some neat cars made by Suzuki then you didn’t see my car. I like it, but it is old. And it’s not fast. It wasn’t fast even when it was new, and now with the clunks and sputters in the engine it is even less fast. But I would race any Mustang, any Porsche, any Corvette. I would even take my car to the NASCAR track as long as I get to make one rule. My car gets to use gasoline and the other cars don’t. I will win every time. It doesn’t matter that those cars have high dollar fine tuned engines built for speed. They will go nowhere without gasoline. They have no power.
Fans and cars are not the only things that need power. How many things do you have that would be totally useless without power? Computer, chainsaw, coffee maker, copy machine, calculator, and that’s just the letter C list I got in 32 seconds. But God also made people to need power. In Acts 1:8 Jesus said, “you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses.” You must have power to be a witness for Jesus. Holy Spirit power is for something. It’s to be a witness. To be a witness is every part of your life. This power is to preach, teach, talk about God. You don’t have to be big and put on a suit to preach. The Holy Spirit will give you power use the right words about God at the lunch table or at the park. This power is to heal sickness. This power is hope right now. This power is to push back fear. This power is to live a life of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. And Jesus gives His children this power, but that’s not really the whole story.
To get the whole story, you need to pick something in which you want to be great. A sport, acting, singing, speaking… And pick somebody who is already great at it. Just like Bob Roberts who wanted to be a great singer and he was such a big fan of the great Joe Jones. But then the famous singer Joe Jones heard a song by Bob Roberts and he was blown away. So the big super star singer became a fan of some other singer. And when they met, Bob ran up to Joe and said, “You’re the best!” But Joe looked at Bob and said, “No. You’re the best!” But that just made Bob want to say it even louder, “No. You’re the best!” And those two guys kept saying, “You’re the best!” “No. You’re the best!” to each other for 45 minutes and they both meant it every time.
That is what Jesus and the Holy Spirit do to each other and people get stuck in the middle of their argument. Stuck between Jesus and the Holy Spirit is a great place to be. Here’s how it works. Start with the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit wants to tell Jesus that He’s the best, and He uses people to do it. So the Holy Spirit leads people to Jesus. That is how people get saved, born again. But then Jesus wants to say it back to the Holy Spirit and He uses people to say it too. Jesus fills His people with the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit comes in to people like a strong fast wind. And as soon as the Holy Spirit is in a person, He starts doing in that person. He starts giving that person power. And the reason for all of the Holy Spirit’s doing is to lift up the name of Jesus, to praise Jesus, advance the name of Jesus, to tell Jesus, “You’re the best.”
Your job as a person is to be the voice of the Holy Spirit to tell Jesus, “You’re the best.” You do that when you give your life to Jesus. But you’re not done. Keep giving your life to Jesus so that those words keep going. And while those words are still flying through the universe, your job is to be the words of the Holy Spirit saying it back. Most church people never get there. Cry out to Jesus that He would fill you with the Holy Spirit. Jesus wants to do it, but He loves the Holy Spirit too much to shove Him into a person that doesn’t want Him. Jesus will send the Holy Spirit to every one who wants Him. But it doesn’t work to just say you want to be filled with the Holy Spirit and then turn on the TV. Your mouth says you want Him, but Jesus sees into your heart. If you really want to be filled with the Holy Spirit, Jesus will be able to tell, but other people will be able to tell too. When you want something it shows.
Praying, asking, crying out is a great way to prove that you really want this. It will also help to read how it worked in the Bible. Here are a few of the Bible passages where people were filled with the Holy Spirit. I put just a few words about each event, but you should really read the whole thing from the Bible.
- In Acts 1 Jesus told His followers to wait for the Holy Spirit and then He went up to heaven. In Acts 2, 120 follows of Jesus were together in one room when, “a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. 4All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.” After that Peter preached in the street and 3,000 people started following Jesus.
- Acts 8 tells the story of Philip preaching in a city called Samaria. The Holy Spirit helped Philip preach and do miracles and heal sick people. The people believed Philip’s message about Jesus and they were baptized. But they weren’t filled with the Holy Spirit until Peter and John came and prayed for them.
- In Acts 10, God used angels and dreams to set up a church service for Peter to preach to a bunch of people he had never met. While Peter was talking to them “the Holy Spirit came on all who heard the message. 45The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astonished that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on the Gentiles. 46For they heard them speaking in tongues and praising God.
What would it look like if a church was filled with the Holy Spirit? You can watch a video and see what the Holy Spirit does. http://www.worldrevivalchurch.com
You can find more of Nathan’s writing on lulu and helium.
Sunday, September 27, 2009
Really Read It: Psalm 105: 1-45
A Quick Look: Psalm 105: 1-6
Memorize: Psalm 105:4-5 Look to the LORD and his strength; seek his face always. Remember the wonders he has done, his miracles, and the judgments he pronounced.
The Psalms were songs. They were written to be sung, and songs are easier to remember than speeches. If you are trying to memorize Psalm 105:4-5, it would be much easier if you make the words into a song. If you do that you are really putting those words back where they started. Those words were written thousands of years ago in a different language, and they were written as a song. If you went to worship with your family in those days, you would sing all the words of Psalm 105. And if you liked the tune or if it just got stuck in your head, you would sing it on the way home, and during dinner, while you played in the yard, as you walked to school… And singing that song so much would help you in so many ways.
I know that you have songs bumping around in your brain. You hear so many that you can’t keep them out. There are nothing songs like Old McDonald, the Itsy Bitsy Spider, and the Woo Woo Dance that get stuck in your head. There are learning songs about letters, colors, and shapes that stick in your head just as much as the nothing songs. Some of you hear way different songs about loving a boy or a girl or the world or a pet dinosaur. All of those songs can take up room inside your head, and they don’t give you very much help. But hopefully you have some songs in your head that teach you about God and some songs that praise God. The psalms were songs like that, and they still are. A lot of the songs you sing at church come from the palms.
Palm 105 has two main parts. The first part is short. Six verses short. And the second part is long. 39 verses long. The first part tells a lot of things to do to have a great life, follow God, and stay close to Him. If you learned this song, it could help you remember how to live just like that other song helps you with your ABC’s. Just the short part of this psalm gives you so much to do that it could take all day. But I want to give you a little shorter time for it so that you can get done in 20 minutes.
- Give thanks to the Lord. Tell God thank you for as many things as you can for 1 minute.
- Call on His name. Call out to God for help and keep calling for 1 minute.
- Praise Him and worship Him with words and singing for 4 minutes.
- Seek the Lord. Try to find Him, tell Him that you want Him, you want to know Him, you want to be close to Him, want to see Him, understand Him. Do this for 3 minutes.
- Get God’s Strength. Ask God to make you strong in your body and bold for Him for 1 minute.
If you did all that for exactly those minutes, you took 10 minutes. The last one will take 10 minutes, but you can’t do it by yourself. The Psalm says to do some things that need another person. You can talk to your family, but it might be better to call a friend on the phone or maybe even write a letter.
- Talk about who God is and how great He is. Tell what He did long ago in the Bible and tell what he did in your life for 10 minutes.
That’s the short part of Psalm 105 except for one thing. And that one thing is the one thing that the long part of Psalm 105 is about. Psalm 105:5 says, “Remember the wonders he has done, his miracles, and the judgments he pronounced.” And verses 7-45 tell a story of the great God and a lot of things to remember. It is important to remember great things that God has done. The easy kind of remembering is pulling something out of your brain. But to remember also means to hear it again or see it again. Remember can even mean learn something you have never heard before. Remember something new can’t be right. And your right, it’s not a new thing you need to remember. Remember means to learn something old, something that happened years ago. But it’s new to you, because you weren’t there. It’s new to you because you have never heard it before.
So here is a list of things to remember. You will do better at remembering if you write down your rememberings. These do not have times on them. They could be long, but I believe they are good enough to spend some time on.
- Remember what God has done in your life. He helped you and helped your family, He saved you, He taught you, He met your needs, He gave you friends, family, He healed you, He did great things in your life.
- Remember what God did in your family before you were born. Ask your parents and grandparents and great-grandparents to tell you stories of God’s help and God’s activity in your family.
- Remember your church. Learn the story of the start of your church and the great things that God has done through the years it has been alive. Some of you have a church that is part of a huge group of churches, and you could learn how the whole group got started.
- Remember what God has done on His earth. Keep reading, keep studying the Bible to see what God did in that day. But also learn what God has done since then. Find out about revivals and miracles and missionaries and God activity on the earth. Find out what God is doing on the earth right now.
I find new challenges and new strength from God to meet them every time I walk into World Revival Church. See a little piece.
Monday, September 21, 2009
Memorize: Romans 14:17-19 For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and approved by men. Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification.
Sally was so excited about her tiny seed. She got it from her uncle. He was excited about it too.
“Sally, this is a very good squash seed. If you take good care of it, and you plant it in good soil, and water it, and give it good sun light, it will grow into a big squash plant. You will pick huge bright yellow squash from your plant.”
“Thank you, thank you, thank you,” said Sally. “I have always wanted a seed. Hello, Seed. You are my special, great seed. But I don’t want you to grow a squash plant, and make huge bright yellow squash. I want you to be a watermelon plant and grow huge juicy watermelons.”
So Sally planted her seed and took great care of it. A little plant came up and Sally said, “Hi little watermelon plant. Grow big and strong and make huge juicy watermelons all for me.”
The plant grew and grew. Sally was thrilled when the little buds opened up into yellow flowers. “Great job plant. Your flowers are so pretty. You will make great watermelons. I just know it.”
And then the flowers wilted and formed little yellow fruit. And the fruit grew and grew, and Sally knew that a watermelon was not bright yellow. A watermelon was not a funny club shape with little bumps all over it. Her seed, her plant, her flowers did not make huge juicy watermelons. It made squash.
Sally put on her big brown boots and picked the squash. She carried it to her driveway and laid it carefully on the cement. She took one step back from the squash, jumped as high as she could, and squashed that squash to bits with her squash squashing boots.
Sally’s squash squashing boots got a lot of work that summer, and her driveway got very messy. That one seed gave Sally 14 big squash, and Sally squashed every one of them. She just couldn’t believe that her seed grew squash when she wanted watermelon.
Skeeter had more choices than Sally. Sally’s uncle only gave her one seed. But Skeeter had a whole bag of seeds to pick from. Skeeter’s seeds weren’t plant seeds, but they were still seeds that he could grow into something bigger. They were still seeds that would give him something back. When Skeeter saw Sally squashing her 14th squash, he picked out a seed and planted it right then. He said, “Stupid Sally squashing squash!” Skeeter planted seeds like that a lot. He planted anger whenever he wanted to. He planted put downs and pushed for his own way. He planted selfishness, pride, and greed. And Skeeter’s seeds grew. He got back exactly what he planted just like Sally. She planted a squash seed. It does not matter one bit that she wanted watermelon. A squash seed can only grow squash. Skeeter planted anger. It does not matter one bit that he wanted peace. An anger seed can only grow anger.
The Bible has a lot of stories about plants and farming. Jesus and the Bible writers put those stories in there because the people they were teaching knew a lot about farming, so it was a good way for them to learn. You may not know so much about farming, but a seed still has an important message for you. A seed can only grow one kind of plant. If you plant squash, you get squash. If you want to get watermelon, you have to throw away the squash seed and get a new one, a watermelon seed.
Paul wrote the Book of Romans. It was a letter to a church to help them with some of their problems. By problems I really mean fights. I don’t think they were punching or kicking each other, but the bad words were flying. They were fighting with each other about food. Some people said, “Never eat lobster!” and some people said, “Lobster is great.”
Paul told them that peace matters more than lobster. I put his words at the top of the page for the memory verses, but I’ll put them right here, so you can read them again if you didn’t memorize them yet. Romans 14:17-19 For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and approved by men. Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification.
Paul said make every effort to do what leads to peace. That is planting peace. Effort is something that you do, something that you work at. Every effort is more than any person has ever done. You have made effort before, maybe even a lot of effort or great effort. But you have always stopped before you got to every effort. What if you wanted to wash the dishes, but your mom said you had to watch TV. Every effort would keep asking, keep begging. Every effort would turn off the TV and dash into the kitchen. Every effort would pull the slimy spoons away from your mom, so that you could smear the soap and scrub them clean.
If you want peace in your life (and you do) you must make every effort to plant peace. Put it into every part of the day that you can. Shove peace into a fight instead of your way. Plant peace instead of anger. Plant peace instead of greed, selfishness. If you plant peace, you’ll get peace and it really does feel good.
Proverbs 12:20 There is deceit in the hearts of those who plot evil, but joy for those who promote peace.
Proverbs 17:1 Better a dry crust with peace and quiet than a house full of feasting, with strife.