I Can’t Get Over This…and Don’t Want To

For years I’ve sung songs like “there is a fountain filled with blood drawn from Immanuel’s veins. And sinners plunged beneath that flood lose all their guilty stains.” I’ve meditated on this verse: “The dying thief rejoiced to see that fountain in his day. And there may I, though vile as he, wash all my sins away.”

Sunday we heard these words:

I’m no longer a slave to fear
I am a child of God.
From my mother’s womb
You have chosen me
Love has called my name.
I’ve been born again
Into your family
Your blood flows through my veins.

I have believed this for years. However, I’ve discovered that it’s one thing to believe this theologically, it’s another to believe it experientially–to actually incorporate this into my daily thinking.

Last night, at family devotions, we watched this video. I seldom share videos but it’s worth ten minutes. If you belong to Christ, this is your life in Christ. (I’m crying as I type this).

Watch. Be grateful. Share your thoughts on Facebook or on the blog. Encourage one another. Revel in his grace today.

 

All Good Things Come To An End?

Beautiful-Beach-Wallpapers-HD-Pictures

Ocean breeze, beautiful water, and not a care in the world is where I found myself last week. As Bethany and I were on vacation, I felt like I never wanted to leave. However, as a wise person once said, “All good things must come to an end.”

Do they? Do ALL good things come to an end? Yesterday in Kids Worship we discussed Solomon’s thoughts on life that he wrote in the book of Ecclesiastes.

Solomon wrote how apart from God, everything is meaningless. I didn’t feel this way while I was at the beach. However, when Saturday morning came, I felt it.

The money we earn will one day be gone, generations come and go, and our nature is to never be satisfied with the things of the world are a few things that Solomon discusses in this book.

There is one good thing that will not come to an end: God. He is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. Take these questions, and help your kids understand how everything is temporary and meaningless apart from God. With God, we have a purpose.

Here are the Conversation Starters:

  • Do you believe that God gave us talents?
  • Why did he give us talents?
  • So, if we use these talents without him, what good are they?
  • Do you have a game system? (Xbox, Nintendo Wii, etc.)
  • If you have games with no system, what would the use of the game be? (Worthless)
  • Read Ecclesiastes 1:8. (This means we are never satisfied.)
  • Will food satisfy us? (No, because in two hours you are hungry again.)
  • What is the only thing that will satisfy us? (Jesus)
  • Read John 4:13-14. (This means that earthly things will not satisfy. Only Jesus can.)

Adjust where needed! God bless.

Do Not Despise the Day of Small Things

For whoever has despised the day of small things shall rejoice, and shall see the plumb line in the hand of Zerubbabel. “These seven are the eyes of the LORD, which range through the whole earth.” (Zechariah 4:10 ESV)

Zerubbabel was Israel’s civic leader with a formidable task: rebuilding the temple. The temple lay in ruins, destroyed by the Assyrians. Twenty years had passed and no rebuilding had been done. No doubt there were naysayers, negative Nancys, pouting Pollys, barking Bobs. Before they could rebuild, they had to remove the rubble. And there’s no glory in rubble removal–it’s one tedious chunk after another.

However, days of small things are followed by moments of glory. We forget that, without the days of small things, there won’t be moments of glory. Noah spent up to 120 years building the ark–and a year riding in it to safety. Moses was on the backside of the desert 40 years, and spent one day crossing the Red Sea. Israel marched around Jericho for 7 straight days, and watched it fall in a few hours. Days of small things: moments of glory.

What is your day of small things? A fussy one-year old? A dirty diaper? Helping your aged mother into the shower? 10 hours on a Wednesday at work? One more semester in college? Correcting your teenager again…for the same thing you pointed out to her yesterday? Another day in singleness?

We love the miraculous, endure the mundane. We relish the glory, despise the groan. We celebrate the extraordinary, trudge through the ordinary.

When you’re sifting through the rubble remember there will be a day of rejoicing. Though Zerubbabel’s hands now held broken scraps of temple stone, one day they would hold the plumb line. One day he would measure corners, lay stones, build walls, erect altars, sew curtains, lead the people in celebration. Until then…the day of small things.

Jesus lived 33 years in relative obscurity, held neglected children, fed hungry commoners, angered religious elites. He endured six agonizing hours on a cross, three days in a tomb, and rose from the dead in a moment of glory.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:1-2 ESV)

Jesus endured the day of small things “for the joy set before him.” For whoever has despised the day of small things shall rejoice.

 

 

Proverbial Wisdom

Have you ever gone through a time in your life where you truly needed wisdom? I’m sure most of you have. The past two weeks in Kids Worship we have been discussing Solomon and his wisdom.

Solomon was so wise! He was so wise that he needed to share his wisdom, so he wrote the book of Proverbs.

Yesterday in Kids Worship, we walked through some of the verses that give us wisdom. These verses can spark awesome conversation with your kids. They also give you an opportunity to pour your own personal wisdom on them.

Here are the Conversation Starters for this week:

  • Solomon was the wisest king, should we listen to him?
  • Read Proverbs 1:7
  • What does fear the Lord mean? Does it mean to run away scared like when you see a spider??
  • What does this verse say about people who do not listen to wisdom? (They are fools)
  • So, when you parent or teacher gives you advice, should you listen?
  • Read Proverbs 3:5-6
  • Are you supposed to trust in the Lord with half of your heart?
  • What does it mean that he will make your paths straight?
  • Read Proverbs 4:14
  • What does this mean? (Don’t be friends with troublemakers)
  • Have you ever gotten in trouble because the person next to you was talking?
  • If you hang out with people who get in trouble, you eventually will. Should you listen to your parents about who you hang out with? (Yes)
  • Pray.

Adjust where you need to! God bless.

If I Had One Wish…

If I told you that you could have one wish granted, what would it be? You cannot wish for more wishes!

You might drive yourself crazy with all of the endless possibilities: a new car, world peace, one billion dollars (that one was popular with the kids), a new house, etc.

God gave Solomon the opportunity to wish for anything in the world. Solomon was named the new king of Israel after his father, David, died. God appeared to Solomon in a dream and gave him the opportunity to choose from the limitless possibilities a king would want.

His answer is shocking to most who read this story. Solomon asked God for wisdom. He could have wished for his enemies to die or even to be immortal! Solomon wanted to be a good king. The one thing he needed to help him was wisdom.

Our Main Idea in Kids Worship yesterday was God gives us what we need. For Solomon, it was wisdom. I led one of the Bible Fellowship classes yesterday, and the conversation was amazing. I believe you can really pour into your kids with these Conversation Starters!

  • If you could have one wish what would it be? (They can’t ask for more wishes.)
  • Why would you wish for that?
  • Remind them about who Solomon is and read 1 Kings 3:9(It may be difficult for them to understand the language of the text, so explain he is asking for wisdom.)
  • What is the difference between knowledge and wisdom? (Knowledge is knowing things, but wisdom is knowing what to do with them.)
  • What are some things that Solomon could have asked for?
  • Did God give him wisdom? (Yes. Read 1 Kings 3:11-12.)
  • Was Solomon being selfish when he asked for wisdom?
  • Would you change your answer knowing what Solomon wished for?
  • Read Proverbs 2:6-7.
  • Explain that most wishes are materialistic. These wishes (one billion dollars, a new car, etc.) are attainable wishes. However, wisdom only comes from God according to the book of Proverbs.
  • Have you ever been scared or confused and you didn’t know what to do? (Explain a time when you didn’t know what to do.)
  • We can pray and ask God to give us wisdom on what we are supposed to do. (Pray together.)

As always, adjust where necessary! God bless.

Promises for Perilous Times

Once again the news announces another attack. This time, more than 80 people killed as a lone truck driver plows through families celebrating Bastille Day in France. Fifty children are hospitalized. Even for someone with great faith, the question of God’s presence can surface. Where is God in all this?

But now thus says the LORD, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. (Isaiah 43:1 ESV)

In this one sentence, we discover two powerful reasons God is concerned about those who are his: he created them and he redeemed them. You are God’s masterpiece, the climax of his creation. God breathed the breath of life into Adam and he became a living being. “And God saw that it was good.” God also redeemed you. To redeem is to buy or pay off, to clear by payment. God bought Israel back…many times. Their most powerful redeeming moment was the Red Sea rescue. With Pharaoh’s army closing in, God parted the Red Sea and more than a million Israelites left 400 years of slavery in their rearview mirror.

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. (Isaiah 43:2 ESV)

Notice the tiny word that begins God’s next statement: when, not if. God’s created and redeemed people will pass through deep waters. They will ford raging rivers. They will walk through fiery places. Don’t miss God’s promise: I will be with you. God’s people are not exempt from trials–they are exempt from abandonment. I will be with you.  God’s people are also safe from ultimate destruction. Though the water rises, the rivers rage and the fire threatens, they will not ultimately destroy. Why?

In the next five verses, God makes these statements:

For I am the Lord your God (vs. 3)

Because you are precious in my eyes (vs. 4)

Fear not, for I am with you (vs. 5)

I created you for my glory (vs. 7)

Let those sink in today. When you read the newspaper, watch the news, check your twitter feed, hear the insistent voice of your Redeemer.

The God of Again

Jerusalem had seen 70 years of devastation. The Assyrian army came with a vengeance, destroyed the palace, ransacked the temple, and confiscated the articles used to worship God, carrying them back to their own pagan temples. The walls in shambles, the city in ruins, God speaks through Zechariah his prophet:

“The LORD was very angry with your fathers. Therefore say to them, Thus declares the LORD of hosts: Return to me, says the LORD of hosts, and I will return to you, says the LORD of hosts. (Zechariah 1:2-3 ESV)

Repeated words are repeated for a reason. God is referenced as the LORD of hosts three times in this passage. The LORD of hosts is the God of angel armies, the God who fights for Israel. When God chose to speak to his people after their rebellion, he spoke as the LORD (all capitals refers to God’s personal name, Jehovah), and specifically the LORD of armies–God’s ready to fight for his own wandering children.

Why? After all they’ve done, why would he desire to defend them?

So the angel who talked with me said to me, ‘Cry out, Thus says the LORD of hosts: I am exceedingly jealous for Jerusalem and for Zion. (Zechariah 1:14 ESV)

God is jealous for his children. He loves them (and you). Then the word again shows up–4 times in one sentence. Don’t miss it.

Cry out again, Thus says the LORD of hosts: My cities shall again overflow with prosperity, and the LORD will again comfort Zion and again choose Jerusalem.’” (Zechariah 1:17 ESV, emphasis mine)

God is the God of again. Cry out again. My cities shall again. and the LORD will again. And again choose. Dictionary.com defines again as “once more, another time, anew.”

Going through a divorce? You can love again. Death of a loved one? You’ll see them again. Fired from your job? You’ll work again. Breakup with the person you thought was the one? You’ll date again. Committed that same sin? God forgives again. Bank account exhausted? God will provide again.

“How can you be sure?” you ask.

For thus said the LORD of hosts, after his glory sent me to the nations who plundered you, for he who touches you touches the apple of his eye: (Zechariah 2:8 ESV)

You are the apple of his eye, the pulse of his heart, the thought on his mind, the object of his jealousy, the joy of Jesus on the cross, the bride of Christ. Anybody who touches you, touches the apple of God’s eye.

And I will be to her a wall of fire all around, declares the LORD, and I will be the glory in her midst.’” (Zechariah 2:5 ESV)

God’s got you. He’s around you and in you.

The God of again.

 

Saved From Sin, But Not Consequences

Yesterday morning in Kids Worship, we discussed David’s sin with Bathsheba. Last week we talked about God’s covenant with David. A covenant is different than a contract. A contract says that if you break your end of the agreement, then I don’t have to keep mine.

A covenant says that even if you don’t hold your end of the bargain, I will still keep mine. In this week’s lesson, the kids learned about how David messed up, but God still kept his end of the covenant.

This great story shows us that sin is awful, and it will cause us to perform awful acts. David acted in a way to try and hide his sin from everyone. There is one who will always see our sin: God.

David had to face the punishment for his sin: the death of his child. It is vital that children know that we are forgiven from sins, but we must still face the consequences.

Here are the Conversation Starters for this week:

  • Have you ever tried to hide your sin? (Talk about a time when you did.)
  • Is it right to try and hide your sin?
  • Who will always know that you sinned?
  • Even though God chose David to be king, was David perfect?
  • Read 2 Samuel 12:14
  • What was David’s punishment?
  • What is a punishment you usually receive?
  • Do you deserve the punishment? (Most of the time…)
  • Are we forgiven even though we are punished?
  • Why must we be punished even though we are forgiven?
  • Pray this Psalm together: Psalm 51:10.

As always, adjust where needed! God bless.

God’s Promise

I pray that everyone had a good 4th of July! I hope you had rest and solid family time! As I sat on the front lawn of Asheville Savings Bank I thought about how amazing it is to have freedom.

Thank you to all of you who have served and those who are currently serving in our nation’s military.

Our promise of freedom is overshadowed by God’s promise of freedom from sin. We get to enjoy Independence Day with our families and watch beautiful fireworks. However, that pales in comparison to our eternal freedom from sin.

On Sunday, we talked about God’s covenant with David. You might be thinking, “What does that have to do with my eternal freedom?” Well, a lot actually.

The covenant that God made with David was a promise that his descendants will always be the king. This alludes to 27 generations down to Jesus! Your goal as parents for this devotion is to help your children understand that God’s promises never fail, and that God loves us so much! Here are the Conversation Starters:

  • What is a covenant? (A promise. It’s different than a contract.)
  • Who else did God make a covenant with? (Abraham, Jacob, etc.)
  • David lived in a huge palace. Do you believe that God deserves a big palace?
  • Do you believe he needs it? (No, he cannot be confined to one place.)
  • Read 2 Samuel 7:16
  • What was God’s covenant with David?
  • Do you think that God kept his promise to David? Why?
  • Who was the most popular king to come from David’s line? (Jesus)
  • Did Jesus live in a palace fit for a king? (No)
  • Was David grateful for this covenant?
  • What was the covenant that Jesus made with us? (If we accept him, he will give us eternal life.)
  • Should we be thankful for this covenant? Why?

As always, adjust where you need to!

Friends Till The End

Yesterday was the most kids in Kids Worship we have had since I have been here at Grace! To God be the glory! We had 49 in the first service with 18 in the second.

This is very exciting! This reflects solely on our Lord.

We worked on the transitions this week, and everything went much a lot smoother than last week!

We spent our time talking about David’s friendship with Jonathan, King Saul’s son. This was a friendship that was not welcomed by King Saul. King Saul was furious with David because God chose him to be the next king.

The friendship between David and Jonathan survived the hatred King Saul had toward David. This opens up great paths for conversation!

  1. Who are your friends at school?
  2. Who would you say is your “best friend”? (Tell them your best friend, too.)
  3. What are ways that your best friend shows they are your friend?
  4. How do you show them?
  5. Read 1 Samuel 19:1-3.
  6. How was Jonathan being a good friend to David?
  7. Do you think Jonathan disobeyed his father by telling David to hide?
  8. Do you think it was ok for Jonathan to disobey his father?
  9. Should you disobey your parents?
  10. What are some other ways you can show your friendship towards people? (Eventually land on sharing the Gospel with them. This is a great act of love we can show people.)

As always, please adjust where you need! God bless.