We like to have everything planned out for our lives. We do not like to have unknowns in life. When we are planning a vacation, we calculate the cost and we plan the route to take, and we make a list of all of the items to pack. When we are getting a budget organized, we list all of our income and all of our expenses, and plan accordingly.
Yet in life, there are times when we cannot plan things. With Abraham, he was told to go but he wasn’t told where. He wasn’t given a map or even a general idea. He wasn’t given much of anything—but he was given a promise, a promise from God.
Abraham only had God to go on. He only had the promise God gave him to guide him and bless him. Today is a good day to walk in faith—to cling to the promises of God.
“Those who know your name trust in you, for you, LORD, have never forsaken those who seek you.” – Psalm 9:10 [NIV]
In Genesis 11, the people were attempting to build a tower to make a name for themselves which resulted in the people being scattered. By attempting to build the tower, they were seeking glory for themselves, rather than glory for God. They were trying to build themselves up rather than living for God.
When you look around today, it seems like there are a lot of towers being built up all over the world. Perhaps we have been scattered all over and we speak different languages, but it did not rid us of this desire to be like God—the same desire that plagued Adam & Eve in the garden. People are still trying to get noticed. People are still trying to build up. People are still trying to live for themselves rather than for God.
Today, look at your life and check for any towers. Are you seeking glory? Are you trying to get noticed? It is okay to get some attention, but we should always be pointing to Christ. To God be the glory.
“So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” – 1 Corinthians 10:31 [NIV]
This lesson is on the Parable of the Foolish Rich Man. The passage to read is Luke 12:13-21. The key verse is Luke 16:13. The front page of the activity sheet is divided into two sides. The object is to have the children list what they think both types of people would look like in their opinion. The one side would be those who are rich toward God and the other side would be those who are like the foolish rich man. On the second side, there is an activity to look through the passage and notice all of the key words that focus on the self. There are a few verses included with the lesson for the kids to reflect upon further with parents at home.
To open the class, I am going to ask some questions that would give the children options of seeing how people could put God first or put money or themselves first. From there, I am going to tell the parable and have a few students read some verses. I got some granola (honey and oats) to share with the children as I discuss this abundance of crops. Then we will discuss further using the activity sheet I created (front and back). Our craft will be something I’ve seen around in the past. We will make silos using toilet paper rolls. I am going to get the tubes of toilet paper covered with white paper before class and glued at the bottom to save time. They will decorate the silos and then instead of filling them with crops, fill them with blessings from God. Then every night they can pull out a blessing and thank God. When the blessings run out, they are encouraged to fill the silos up (or even fill up as they see more blessings).
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My daughter is always mixing drinks. She often takes different juices and mixes them together. One morning she asked me if orange juice would taste good with orange soda and I advised her to not try that mixture. I’ve had orange juice with Sprite, but the thought of this possible mixture did not sound like a good idea.
She didn’t give up on the idea. Not so long later I noticed a large container filled with her new creation. The problem was that she could not stand the new mixture. It tasted disgusting and so it was all a waste. We ended up pouring the contents of the large container down the drain. What a waste of some good orange juice!
God has given us His Spirit and His Word. Sometimes we have a tendency to try to mix it with other things. We think we need more—like it’s not enough. Or we try to add to the Word. There are also moments when we waste what God has given us by not even reading the Bible, praying, or seeking this gift of the Spirit that we’ve received. The problem is this isn’t just some orange juice.
“Every word of God proves true; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him. Do not add to his words, lest he rebuke you and you be found a liar.” – Proverbs 30:5-6 [ESV]
During the hot summer months, chocolate, gum, and lip balm do no fair too well. The heat does a good job to melt the items. Being a Hershey girl, I love chocolate. When you purchase chocolate at a store, by the time you carry it from the store to your car, the chocolate is already melting from the high temperatures. I always advise my kids to not open it, but instead to put it in the refrigerator so it can harden again. When the chocolate is eventually opened, it is interesting to see the new form of the chocolate.
Heat is often affiliated with changing the shapes of items so it’s no surprise to read about heat in the Bible. We read and the refiner’s fire and the furnace of affliction. We also read about taking a new form. When we accept Christ, we start to become a new creation.
There are times when we can feel the heat of the furnace of affliction. We are being pruned and built up. We are being challenged. We are being tested like gold. We find ourselves in these situations because we are called to be a holy people and little by little God gets us to where He created us to be as His child with a purpose. “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything” (James 1:2-4 NIV)
“I will bring that group through the fire and make them pure. I will refine them like silver and purify them like gold. They will call on my name, and I will answer them. I will say, ‘These are my people,’ and they will say, ‘The LORD is our God.'” – Zechariah 13:9 [NLT]
During the summer, I often give my dog Max some ice cubes. When we come inside from a walk, I give him one ice cube to munch on and I try to encourage him to drink his water as well. But first thing in the morning he does not want to accept the ice cube because he expects a bone. Every morning he gets a bone to help clean his teeth. He tosses the ice cube on the floor and sits in defiance waiting for me to give him his bone first. He is focused on getting what is better to him so he won’t budge.
At times we have our focus skewed and we have our eyes focused on something that isn’t actually better for us. Rather than taking the ice cube, we desire the bone. Our eyes light up when we see the bones in life, and we sometimes sacrifice the much needed ice cube for the bone. We do this in many areas of our life—with our family, with our jobs, with money and possessions, etc.
Today, ask God to help you with your focus. Ask Him what areas need adjusted. Seek His guidance and don’t just listen—follow.
“Let your eyes look straight ahead; fix your gaze directly before you. Give careful thought to the paths for your feet and be steadfast in all your ways.” – Proverbs 4:25-26 [NIV]
Recently when I was teaching, a student chimed up saying that her Bible didn’t say the same thing that the reader shared with the group. I explained to her that there are different translations of the Bible so that anyone can find a Bible that they can understand. The Bible has been translated in numerous languages as well as in numerous translations like the New International Version, the New Living Translation, the King James Version, the New King James Version, the Message, the Revised Standard Version… I could continue, but I think you get the point.
I know that there are some areas where it is hard to access a Bible, where people risk their lives to deliver Bibles to people. But things aren’t like that here and yet some people neglect the Word of God. There are homes you enter where various Bibles are sitting throughout the house, but none are touched. Bookstores have shelves of Bibles. The Salvation Army and other organizations hand out free Bibles. Bibles are given as gifts for birthdays, Christmas, Easter, etc. Yet some people neglect the Word of God. It just sits and collects dust.
Today I pray that you’ll be encouraged to seek the Lord diligently and devote yourself to daily Bible reading. I pray that a Bible won’t be part of the décor of your home or some gift you really wish you could exchange. To think there are people across the globe who would die for a Bible. It really puts things in perspective. The Word is bread. We need bread to live. Let us eat!
“Jesus answered, ‘It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.'” – Matthew 4:4 [NIV]
Despite wearing suntan lotion, my daughter got sunburn. While walking through the parking lot, we were side-by-side heading toward the car. Halfway to our destination, a gentleman began to back up out of his parking spot without looking around in our direction to see if anyone was walking behind him. I forgot about my daughter’s sunburn at that point; I reached out and grabbed her shoulder to pull her back towards me so the car wouldn’t hit her. My daughter yelled because she claimed to have seen the car approaching and she said she was planning to stop. She was screaming because I had touched her sunburn. My daughter did not grasp the fact that I was trying to save her from injury.
Our Father tries to save us and at times we react in this same dissatisfied manner. We do not look at the fact that He’s keeping us from something that could be hurtful or something that could put us in danger. We look at what we lost or what we do not like with our situation. We see things with a different perspective. God looks at the eternal salvation perspective—wanting to save you so you can have everlasting life with Him. We look at what saves us at the moment—what makes us happy and satisfied right now.
Today consider the salvation that is offered to you. Thank God for His concern for your eternal well-being. Examine your current situation from this eternal vantage point. Perhaps things will look a whole lot different with this different view.
“For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.” – 2 Corinthians 4:17 [NIV]
We are not told exactly why Cain’s offering was unacceptable but Abel’s was pleasing to God. In Genesis 4:3-4, we see that Cain brought “some” and Abel brought “the best.” I think if I had to choose between some or the best, I would choose the best. Then in verse 7, Cain is told, “You will be accepted if you do what is right.” It is clear that Cain did not do what was right, and that possibly was linked with a poor attitude that needed correction.
We see this attitude problem from Cain when he gets jealous because Abel’s offering was accepted. God warned Cain that sin was crouching nearby and the attitude needed to be changed, but Cain did not wish to move toward God and seek the remedy. Instead he invited his brother to an outing and then killed Abel. Matthew said that Abel was the first to die for the truth (23:35).
We all have a choice—to be more like Abel or more like Cain when it comes to pleasing God. We don’t know much about these brothers, but we do know a few things. Abel gave the best. Abel did what was pleasing to God. Cain did not present a suitable offering. Cain did not seek out God when told he needed to change his focus. Abel gave all; Cain gave some. Where do you fit? Are you giving the best? Are you trying to live a life pleasing to God? Or are you getting irritated and wanting to do things your own way?
“Then the LORD said to Cain, ‘Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you but you must rule over it.’” – Genesis 4:6-7 [NIV]