Sunday, January 20, 2019

Teenagers!


 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
John 3:16

We've always burned wood as our major heat source. My oldest son said he thought his name was "Git Wood" until he was 10 years old. Of course to help their daddy cut and stack wood while wearing little work gloves was a big deal. Getting to go out on the porch, sometimes barefoot to get wood on a snowy day was a big thrill until they were teens. That's when teens begin to say, "But Mom, Dad, I have a life."

Abraham's teenage son was a little different, especially when it came to worshipping the Lord. Isaac was very dedicated to his father and his heavenly Father, so when Abraham asked him to go worship on the mountain, Isaac was ready to go. At the foot of the mountain, Abraham had Isaac carry the wood for the sacrifice. All alone father and son went to the place for the sacrifice. They laid the wood on the altar. Then Abraham bound Isaac and laid him on the wood. 

WHAT? Picture this. An old man over 100 years old binds a teenager and puts him on an altar for a sacrifice. I know what my teens would have done. They would have high-tailed it back down the mountain. Isaac could have easily outrun Abraham. He could have struggled against the binding and won. Getting away would have been no problem but he was obedient to his father. 

Does this sound familiar? Jesus like Isaac was born through impossible circumstances. Jesus could have called 12 legions of angels to rescue him from a mob (Matthew 26: 52-56) or anyone else. Instead, He allowed himself to be deserted by his followers and led up Calvary's mountain just He and his Father. He allowed himself to be our sacrifice. He had even asked the Father if there was another way (Luke 22:42). There was no substitutionary ram for Jesus. There on a cross, He was sacrificed for our sins. 

Isaac could not die for his father, or even for himself. Isaac was a sinner just like us. He needed Jesus to die for him too. God wanted a picture for Abraham and Isaac and the Old Testament people so they could understand the sacrifice He would make. That picture is still a good one today. I wouldn't be willing to offer one of my children for anyone but I'm thankful Jesus was willing to be that sacrifice. 

Hey Kids:

Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right. Ephesians 6:1

Isaac was an obedient son. I know Abraham was proud of his son, a son who was willing to obey and help a very old man.

Notice the verse says "in the Lord". 
God does not require us to do wrong or be abused in obedience to our parents. 
However, we do need to obey in every other way. 

How have you helped through obedience this week? 
How might you improve in the coming weeks?
Here are some ideas.
1. Be helpful without being asked. That's maturity.
2. When asked, do the job without being reminded.
3. No complaining, whining or rolling your eyes. 
Watch your relationship grow with your family and with the Lord.


Working to be obedient to the Lord
Gail

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Our Promise Keeper





For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end. Jeremiah 29:11





Sometimes it seems all hope is lost. It's just too hard to believe things will change or ever be alright again. We're too young or too old. May as well forget it. But is anything too hard for the Lord, our Promise Keeper? 

From the time I was a young teen, I knew all I wanted was to be a wife and mother. I was very good in school. The other kids were surprised I had no interest in college or a career. I had no dates until I was 20. I knew before we dated that this would be the man I would marry. At 23 we married and immediately started our family. In 4 years time, I had 3 children and the doctor told us our children were so large (10+ lbs) I wouldn't be able to carry another child to term. I was heartbroken. What was happening to the dream and what I thought was God's plan for us? 

When God told Abram to leave his homeland and his relatives, He promised to make Abram a great nation (Genesis 12:1,2). Abram was a young man with a young wife. Surely it was hard for them to leave everything and everyone behind and seek a new land, but they were young, adventurous, God-fearing, and God believing.

God believing - that was the key to the promises God made to Abram. Abram was different from other men, even from his family. Abram's nephew traveled with him but soon even he left Abram for the riches of this world. 

God blessed Abram with cattle. He took care of Abram and Sarai no matter what they tried to figure out for themselves because God had made a promise. Abram appreciated all God was doing for them but there was one promise he didn't see how God was going to keep. God had promised Abram a son. God had changed their names to Abraham (father of many nations) and Sarah (princess) but Abraham was 99 years old. He laughed that a child would be born when he was 100 and Sarah was 90. When Sarah found out she laughed too, but God's answer was "Is anything too hard for the Lord"  Certainly the Creator of the Universe is capable of anything except a lie. He cannot lie (Titus 1:2). At the appointed time Isaac was born to the couple old enough to be great-great-grandparents. 

Why did God choose Abram and Sarai? Why did He wait so long to give them their promised child? God said:
For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the Lord, to do justice and judgment; that the Lord may bring upon Abraham that which he hath spoken of him. 
Genesis 18:19

It was hard for Abraham and Sarah to wait. It was hard to stay faithful but it was all part of God's plan to prosper them and prosper us. We may be waiting for a mate, or a child, or healing. We may question what God is doing, but know that He will never leave us or forsake us. His plan is the best plan. 

When my oldest child was almost four, he started reading environmental print. I decided he needed to learn to read. I bought material and over the course of the next year or so I taught him. I taught his brother and his sister. I went back to school and finished a degree in Early Childhood Education. I got a full-time teaching job when my oldest left for college. So I was a stay at home mom for them.  For over 20 years I have taught 30 to 40 children each year. They don't forget me. They speak to me in the halls. They come back and visit me when they are seniors. They bring their children to me to teach. As I near retirement I see the Lord has filled my home with many more children than I could have ever born. Children I nurture and bring up in the Lord if only for a few hours for a few days. When my husband retired he became a bus driver of all things. God's plan is always the best plan. We just have to be patient. 

Hey Kids:

What are you waiting for? Do you want to be popular, athletic, or maybe you are in need of healing?

First, know you have turned from your sins and given your life to Christ.

Then look at your mentors and the gifts God has given you. Are you musical, artistic, construction minded, or do you love cooking? 
You don't have to be an athlete. Most likely you won't be popular as a Christian. 

But know God has great plans for you. 
Wait on the Lord. Ask Him to show you how to use the talents He has given you. And yes mothering is a career and a talent that girls should never be ashamed of. 

Blessing while we wait on God, 
Gail



Sunday, January 6, 2019

Choices

But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord. Genesis 6:8

When all the world was upside down and in chaos with every thought of mankind only wickedness, how did Noah find grace? Choice. Noah's choice was to worship and follow God no matter what everyone else did. It's always been about choices.
Last week we looked at the choices Adam and Eve made to first disobey and then accept the sacrifice God made for their sin. But along the way to Noah, more choices were made.
Cain and Abel made choices. Cain gave his hard work on the altar as his offering to God. Abel gave a blood sacrifice of an innocent animal. Both boys were taught the necessity of a blood sacrifice. Cain's choice was not acceptable and he refused to follow God's plan. One bad choice led to the worst choice. He killed his brother Abel. 
God's plan would not be stopped. He gave Adam and Eve another son, Seth. Eve knew God had given her another seed instead of Abel (Genesis 4:25). As Seth's family grew, the world chose to move farther and farther away from God. Many of Seth's family made choices to inter-marry with the ungodly seed of Cain (Genesis 6:2,5-7). However, Eve's seed still remained in Enos, then Cainan, and Mahalaleel, and Jared whose son was Enoch. 
Enoch, the man who was not, he did not die because he walked with God. His son was Methuselah, the oldest man to ever live. Enoch gave him a name that means "after he is gone judgment will come." Methuselah died the year of the flood. His son was Lamech who named his son Noah which means "rest". God was going to give his creation rest, but first, there would be destruction.
Each son in the line to Noah had many sons and daughters but the ones who followed God, the ones who kept trying to tell a lost world that judgment was coming were few. It's hard to stay faithful when everyone else around you is making bad choices. Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord because he continued to preach repentance while he built the ark (II Peter 2:5). God saved Noah and his family because they were willing to believe God and obey. 
God asks no less of us today. Believe His way is the only way. Accept the sacrifice of His Son for our sin. Demonstrate that belief in our actions and words.
As in the days of Noah, judgment will come when no one expects it. May we be found faithful.
Hey Kids: 
Reading genealogies in the Bible is tough but you will find interesting tidbits that bring all the rest of the stories together. 
Do you know your own genealogy? Who were/are your grandparents, great-grandparents? How far back can you go? 
Were they Godly men and women? How did they serve? 
How does God want you to serve Him? Make a list of the talents He has given you.  How can you use these talents to demonstrate God's grace to a world filled with bad choices?
Growing in grace,
Gail





Sunday, December 30, 2018

In the Beginning



And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel. Genesis 3:15





Do you think about Christmas as a 2000-year-old story? Actually, it started in the beginning. In the beginning, God created Adam. From Adam He created Eve. Adam's DNA, Adam's blood is the beginning of the human race. When Eve was deceived she could have died and God could have created another woman from Adam, but Adam chose to disobey as well. His disobedience brought sin into the whole human race.

When God confronted Adam and Eve about their disobedience, Adam blamed Eve. Eve blamed the snake. God does not allow sin to go unpunished. He started with Satan who had taken the form of a snake. God made the snake and Eve enemies. He added that her seed would bruise Satan's head and Satan would bruise the heel of her seed. 

WAIT! She can't produce offspring without Adam unless there is a virgin birth. That was God's plan before the world was created. (I Peter 1: 19-21) To show His plan of salvation to Adam and Eve, God sacrificed an innocent animal. Hebrews 9:22 tells us that without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sin. Adam and Eve accepted the bloody coats of skin and God accepted them. 

God knew from the beginning we would sin. From the beginning, He provided a way for His Son to be our sacrifice. Will we like Adam and Eve confess our sin? When we accept God's gift of the sacrifice of His Son, He will accept us too.


Blessings for the New Year,
Gail

Sunday, December 16, 2018

The Sweet Story of Christmas


In fact, the law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness. Hebrews 9:22 NIV

I'll tell this the way it was told to me, though I am sure there are others who would disagree with the story, surely no one will disagree with the message. So grab a candy cane and enjoy this sweet tale of Christmas with the whole family.

In the middle ages, when kings and queens declared and enforced the laws with the sword, a law was made that Christmas would no longer be celebrated. It broke the heart of an old candy maker who loved to see the sweet smiles of children as they enjoyed his sweet Christmas treats. He also loved Christmas traditions and the telling of the story in the churches and homes.  No one was allowed to own or read a Bible except the priests and now that was questionable under the rule of this queen. He wondered how this generation would grow up without the knowledge of Jesus if the laws forbade the telling of the stories.

As the old candy maker locked his doors for the evening and knelt by his counter for prayer, the Lord gave him an idea. It was not illegal to make new kinds of candy and he knew just what kind of new candy he would make.

All night the candy maker tweaked his candy recipes to fit the story of Jesus. As the new day dawned he set out for his shop anxious to get a start on his new candy. He would start with a pure white candy and spice it with peppermint. Then he would layer it with red candy, making a pattern of a wide red stripe and three thin red stripes. As he rolled and twisted the hardening candy, he sliced off lengths of candy and bent them into a crook at the top. The next day would be Christmas and he would be ready to share his Christmas story. 

As families entered his shop the next day with faces long and sad because of the canceled holiday, he offered them a new candy and an old story. "See this crook?" he said. "On a night long ago, shepherds stood on a hillside watching their flock by night. Angels announced the birth of a baby born to a virgin. The baby would be pure and sinless like the white of the candy cane. His father would be God the Father. The baby would be the Son of God and He would give us the Holy Spirit." The old candy maker pointed to the three thin stripes going around the candy cane. "The baby's name was to be called Jesus." The candy maker turned the cane upside down, making the J. "The big red stripe," he said. "is the blood Jesus would shed on Calvary for our sins. Taste the candy now children. The peppermint reminds us of the gifts the wise men brought to Jesus and the spices used to prepare His body for burial when He died upon the cross. His blood covers our sins and offers forgiveness. This, children, is the real story of Christmas, not the toys and candy, but the coming of the Savior of the world as a baby in a manger, not just visited by shepherds but to be our Shepherd, guiding us to eternal life in Christ."

The parents were grateful their children were able to hear the Christmas story that morning and take home a reminder of the true meaning of the season. 

Now as you have received a candy cane, examine it for the three thin stripes, the large stripe, the taste of peppermint and the pure white candy that makes the body of the cane. Turn it to make the J and the shepherd's crook. 

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. John 3:16

Merry Christmas, 



Gail

Sunday, December 9, 2018

Christmas Excitement

And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn. Luke 2:7

Until this year, I always told the entire Christmas story in one sitting. Then I thought about my blog of the Giving the Twelve Days of Nativity. Hmmm. This might be a good idea for the children I teach or the children in our homes. 

Most of my students think Christmas is only about Santa and presents. I can teach Bible stories from a historical perspective, so I decided to do Christmas a little at a time. Here's my plan.

Day 1: Bring out the stable, Mary and Joseph and a few stable animals.  Introduce Mary and Joseph traveling to Bethlehem. Trouble at the Inn (Define Inn). Bedding down in the stable. Demonstrating using dramatic play. Place the pieces in dramatic play. Allow the children to retell only this bit of the story.

Day 2: Bring out the shepherds, sheep, hillside, and angels. Retell the beginning of the story, then add the birth and shepherds' visit (Define manger). Add these pieces to dramatic play. 

Day 3 or in a few days: Bring out the wise men and camels and a small box to make a house (Matthew 2:11). Retell the story while I play with the pieces. Include their visit to Herod (I didn't have castle blocks but that would have been a great addition) and the reason they did not return. Add the pieces to dramatic play. 

In the telling of the story, I included that we give presents because the wise men gave presents to the baby Jesus. Sometimes adults who doubt the story of the wise men, ask me what happened to the presents. Many of my children have unemployed parents. I include that when Mary and Joseph and Jesus got to Egypt, Joseph had no job. Selling the expensive gifts that a child could not play with would have provided them with the money they needed to survive until they could return to their home. 

Every day children chose to play with the nativity set in dramatic play. They scattered out the pieces, built oasis and shepherd fields, and brought visitors to the baby. There was lots of excitement and learning about the true story of Christmas without Santa that I hope they never forget. 

Hey Kids: 
Do you have a nativity set that small children can play with? 
Can you help teach little ones about Christmas? 
What can you share about the true meaning of Christmas?

Sunday, December 2, 2018

Truth Hidden Among the Trappings



And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots: Isaiah 11:1

This weekend is the kick-off of the Christmas season here in the States. There's a frenzy of shopping and decorating. 

Putting up the tree is often a family time filled with traditions - Baby's First Ornament, hand-made ornaments, and great grandma's Victorian ornaments. 

Nostalgia fills the air as we settle down in front of the fire with a cup of hot chocolate and gaze at the sparkling tree. But WAIT! Did we miss the point? What have we instilled in our traditions that show our families the true meaning of Christmas? 

Instilling the true meaning shouldn't sound like some sort of lesson. It needs to be a natural mention of how the items and colors remind you of Jesus and His love for us. Maybe the Hey Kids section will spark some ideas.

Hey Kids 

  There are various meanings associated with Christmas. What meanings?
    •  Red - The color of blood. 
    • Gold - The wisemen brought Jesus gold and frankincense and myrrh. 
    • Blue - The color of royalty. Jesus is King of Kings. 
    • White - The color of purity. Jesus was without sin. 
    • Wisemen followed a star. 
    • Angels announced His birth. 
    • Ribbons held the breastplate to the ephod on the robe of the high priest. 
    • Bells were sown around the hem of the priest's robe so all could hear him as he performed his priestly duties. Jesus is our High Priest.
  • The tree is made of wood. Christ shed His blood on a cross made of wood. 
  • The evergreen needles tell us that Jesus gives us eternal life. 
  • The trunk and the branches lead us back to our scripture: And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots: 
  • We display our Christmas trees where all can see their beauty. So should Jesus be displayed in our lives that all can see His beauty. 
  • We want to receive the gifts. May all the world come to Jesus this Christmas and receive His gift of salvation. 
May there be Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace, good will toward men. 

 What else?

What intentional things are you doing to put Christ in your Christmas? 

You don't have to do anything more, only think about the reason you are 
  • making cookies
  • the places you are decorating
  • the reasons for the decorations you are using
Do you need to research why we use a particular item? 
Is there anything that surprises you? 
Please share your Christmas blessings with us.

Blessings,
Gail