Sunday, November 29, 2009

Get Ready for Jesus

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.

Dear Kid,

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.


Walt Walters

Executive Producer

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

Trees, Clouds, and Waves

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

The Pinkie Happiness Gauge

A Quick Look: Acts 26:23-25
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

Murder in Squirrel Town

A Quick Look: Acts 7: 57-60
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.

You can find more of Nathan’s writing on lulu and helium.