Twice this week I have seen a young man walking his son down the middle of the street. I often see runners and walkers alike walking on the street at the side of the road. Many of them have florescent clothing and typical exercise attire. All of them are looking forward to be aware of any oncoming traffic while walking on the proper side of the street to be as safe as possible. This man with the small child; however, rarely looks up as he walks his child. He has his face looking downward at his “Smart Phone,” keeping his attention there for blocks at a time.
If you have a child, God has blessed you with that child. You have been entrusted to care for the child and to raise the child in the way of the Lord. Numerous passages speak of teaching our children the Lord’s Word. Numerous passages mention training up a child. Sadly, there are many parents who are lost themselves, walking hap hazardously through life. This can be not only dangerous for the parents but can also be hurtful to the children. Other parents, even those who know the Lord, have been engrossed with other things in life, that their children do not get much of their attention.
Today, if you have a child—thank God for such a great blessing and seek Him for guidance. Rely on His Word to help you train up the child as the way to go in life. Ask yourself—are you active in your child’s life? Do you know what is going on at your son’s school? Are you interested in what your daughter is interested in? Get interested. Pay attention. Hug. Show love. Show support. Share wisdom. Share Jesus. They need it.
“Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward.” – Psalm 127:3 [ESV]
Getting Started: Discussion of Count the Stars Simile
First tell children about some similes – brave as a lion, crazy like a fox, slow as molasses. Visual illustration: molasses poured out slowly.
Genesis 15 says “look up at the sky and count the stars… so shall your offspring be.” – As many people as stars.
Can you count the stars? Do you know how many stars there are in the sky? What does this mean? (You can also show your favorite constellation to intro to these questions).
Craft / Activity
Watered down glue / glitter / black or dark blue construction paper / brown or beige construction paper
Cut the brown / beige construction paper as a small land mass before class.
Spread the watered down glue on the papers. Put the land mass at the bottom of the paper. Sprinkle glitter on the paper. Be sure to have a small box to catch the glitter that falls from the paper.
On the land mass, write “Count the Stars” – Genesis 15:5
After doing the activity, begin digging deeper into the lesson (this allows for the papers to dry and for children to have another visual learning experience).
Genesis 12:1-5 – God’s promise to Abram
I will make you into a GREAT NATION
I will make your NAME GREAT
You will be A BLESSING
… ALL PEOPLES ON EARTH WILL BE BLESSED THROUGH YOU.
(New Home – Great Name – Family)
Abram (75 years old) – left Haran with Sarai and Lot.
Genesis 15:2-6 – Count the Stars
Abram asked what the Lord could give. He had no children. The Lord said, “Look up at the sky and count the stars –if indeed you can count them. So shall your offspring be.” Abram believed the LORD, and he credited it to him as righteousness.
Genesis 18:10-14 – Sarah Laughs
Three men visit Abraham and food is prepared. They explain that Sarah would have a son. Sarah laughed. Is anything too hard for the LORD?
Genesis 21:1-7 –Isaac born
The Lord did as He promised. Abraham and Sarah had a son, Isaac, God has brought me laughter. Abraham was 100 years old.
Discuss what this means to us. Discuss blessing. Discuss abundance.
Closing Verse: 2 Corinthians 9:8
“And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.”
What does this mean? What are we promised?
A child was trying to get a Matchbox Car he wanted by hiding it from his mother for she already said he could not have the toy. He thought he was pretty clever in hiding it underneath some other items on the conveyor belt at the checkout; however, she was onto his tactics. She knew what he was thinking and she was expecting his deceptive actions. Without even having to dig around the barricade to find the hidden toy, she said she did not want to purchase the item underneath. She knew what was there. She knew what he did.
God knows what we do as well. He even knows our heart. There is no way to hide what you are really feeling or what you have done, are considering doing, or will do at some time. He knows all. So why try to hide? Why be one person at one time and then be a different person—the real you—at another time? Why try to “cover up” something you have done, thinking it will remain hidden? God sees. God knows. You cannot hide it from God.
He knows. He knows you. He made you. He formed you together. You can see this in two ways—trying to hide from Him though there’s no way to hide—or trying to seek His will for your life and see the beautiful plan He has designed specifically for you. Why walk in disobedience, trying to hide from a loving Father, when you have the opportunity for so much more? Let us get to know Him better and stop the hiding-and-seek game.
“Our actions will show that we belong to the truth, so we will be confident when we stand before God. Even if we feel guilty, God is greater than our feelings, and he knows everything.” – 1 John 3:19-20 [NLT]
The other day I was asked to keep the fruit snacks out of the bag as I processed an order. I was sure to comply with the request but it was not good enough. The fruit snacks I kept back were for the one child; however, the other child also had a box of fruit snacks. Something very trivial to me became a very loud scene.
The children had to have their own boxes of fruit snacks. A big tantrum proceeded—where there was no respect, no discipline, nothing but blame passed to me for not keeping both boxes of fruit snacks out. Each box of fruit snacks contains ten pouches. One would assume children would share. I never heard of children both needing to have their own. But what was worse, was that the mother blamed me for an error when the error wasn’t bagged fruit snacks. The children caused such a scene with people shaking their heads at the selfishness, the disrespect, etc.
I don’t want to criticize bad parenting. I mess up often. But today I want to remind you all of something very important. We have an amazing Father—a PERFECT FATHER. He doesn’t give us everything. Some things we aren’t meant to have because it would spoil us. So why do we insist on giving our children everything? There is a reason for discipline. There is a reason for tough love. There is a reason for restrictions and guidelines. When something is spoiled, we say it’s “rotten.” Let us not raise up rotten children. Let us raise up God fearing, respectful, loving children.
“Whoever spares the rod hates their children, but the one who loves their children is careful to discipline them.” – Proverbs 13:24 [NIV]
As a parent it can be very frustrating to constantly be repeating the same thing over and over again. There may be a rule that you have for your child’s benefit and you find yourself having to repeat it because it is not followed. It can be very nerve-wracking when you sound like a broken record with some rules, and yet you find that the repetition doesn’t always equal obedience.
Today I had to spend a great deal of time fixing my son’s computer because he failed to follow the rules that I have enforced since he learned how to use a computer. For some reason, his desire to follow the other way caused him to neglect my rule, a rule which was set for his own good and for the benefit of his computer’s health.
We do this all the time. God has left us His Word and within we find a lot of rules to follow and an example of how to live better. Yet we find ourselves constantly disobeying again and again. The Bible is very repetitive but we still don’t get it. We still fall short. Thankfully my son has a mom who is a bit of a tech nerd who can fix the consequences caused from disobeying the computer rules. Thankfully we have a Savior who has taken the punishment once and for all for each one of us despite our disobedience.
Today, thank God for His love and His sacrifice and pray for a more obedient heart—a heart devoted to Him.
“And this is love: that we walk in obedience to his commands. As you have heard from the beginning, his command is that you walk in love.” – 2 John 1:6 [NIV]
God’s timing is the timing that matters. In a world where we are so timed focused, trying to shove as much as we can into the time we have, and trying to plan out every second of every day, God’s timing is still the timing that matters. He is in control, and if we try to take shortcuts to get where we think we are meant to be, or even to get to where God has shown us to be, we will find that God is still in control. We cannot rush His blessings; we cannot rush His plan.
God made a promise to Abraham, but He did not specify the details. After years past and Sarah still had not had a child, she considered making sure that God’s promise came true. She gave Hagar to Abraham so that God’s plan would be satisfied. Ishmael was then born. Clarification was made by God in light of the impatience shown by Abraham; he would have a son from Sarah, and this would be the son who would continue the chosen line. There was no shortcut. There was no “taking things into my own hands” type of situation that would work. God’s timing was the only timing that mattered.
Now Reuben, the son of Leah and Jacob, discovered mandrakes. When Rachel got wind of this information, she wanted to bargain with Leah for the mandrakes. The mandrakes were believed to help with fertility and Rachel wanted a child of her own. Up until that time, she had no children. Jacob’s children were all from Leah, Rachel’s sister, and both handmaids. The deal was simple: if Leah would give the mandrakes to Rachel, Leah could spend the evening with Jacob. Leah wanted so badly to be loved by Jacob so she agreed. Unfortunately, the mandrakes didn’t work for Rachel. Her plan didn’t succeed. Once again, we cannot rush His blessings; we cannot rush His plan.
Eventually Rachel had a son; in fact, she had two sons, Joseph and Benjamin. Joseph assumed the position of first born son when it came to the family blessing, receiving a double portion of the inheritance. Joseph was used by God to save Israel. Sarah also was the mother of many nations, as she too, had a son, Isaac, who was Jacob’s father. Both of these stories ended with the fulfillment of God’s Word, but neither of these situations occurred on human timing. God’s timing prevails. He is in control.
You may be at a time in your life when you are wondering why God is leading you in a particular area after all of these years. You may be considering when the big blessings will come. Perhaps you are losing patience. Just remember, you can make attempts to reach where you think you are to be, or where God has shown you will be, but ultimately it’s all in God’s hands. Patience can sometimes be difficult. It’s important to rest in the character of God. He is faithful. Trust Him. Don’t rush.
When I was a little girl, I remember when I went to the mall with my grandmother, my mother, and my sister. When we were about ready to leave, we had a few things we wanted to look at yet. My mother and grandmother wanted to go and do their own thing. I was still pretty young, but I was old enough to know better. They told me when I was finished purchasing an item, to meet at this certain place and they were going to do what they had to do and then they were going to meet me there.
I had different plans. I said I was old enough to meet them out at the car, that I could walk out to the car by myself and everything would be fine. My grandmother and my mother said absolutely not, that they would meet me at the spot and that was it. So I finished making the purchase that I needed to make and I decided I was going to go out to the car. I was gonna show them, because I could get out to the car by myself.
I was out by the car. Waiting. Waiting. Waiting. No one was coming. My grandmother and mother in the meantime were frantically searching for me, with my sister, dragging her around everywhere looking for me and wondering where I was. I was lost they thought. It took a long time before finally they came out to the parking lot and they found me. I got in trouble of course. I should have gotten in trouble because I didn’t listen.
It reminds me of how we sometimes don’t listen and we all at one point or another were lost. I was thinking back to Luke 15, where you can find the lost sheep and lost coin parables, and how the coin and sheep were valuable. We are very valuable to God. He doesn’t want any of us to not be with Him. Just to imagine ninety-nine sheep and one gets away. He goes after that one. Each of us are that one at one point or another. We are all thought of as an only child. To imagine that kind of love.
A lot of people think love is emotion. The word love is about action. That is how God loves us. He comes and He gets His lost sheep. He is with you through it all. He doesn’t leave you. He shows His love. The way He shows His love was to send His Son to redeem you and to redeem me. That’s action- that’s what love is all about. We are asked to love one another, to serve one another, and the love that we are to have is a love filled with action.
Read Luke 15
When I was a little girl, I can remember sneaking over to my parent’s secret stash of records (yes records). I would pull the record out of the cover, and delicately place it on the spindle. As I got older, I was given a radio and tape player combo. It was one of my prized possessions, and every moment I had, I would sit and listen to the radio and record clips to playback later. My favorite artist at that time was Amy Grant. “Father’s Eyes” was my all-time favorite.
I never lost this passion for music. Though I am not blessed with a voice that moves people to tears (unless tears of pain), I simply cannot get enough of music. It is the same way with God’s Word. I can read the Bible over and over again, and it’s never enough. I have this undying thirst to quench.
I always tell people that faith and music was what I had going for me as a child. Oddly enough, I can look back on the past year and see that most of this year was focused on God, His Word, and music. I have dabbled in music and video editing, participated in music promotions, and even written some music. But as I messed around in the world of music, my heart was still with my Best Friend.
The great thing is that although my singing is not appealing to many, God loves to hear me sing; He loves to hear us all sing. This might be a bit surprising to some people who feel that we must walk before God in a conservative manner, pretending to be something we are not. I’m sorry, but who wears a tie that is that straight? Who stands so perfectly? No one.
God doesn’t want a show; He wants our heart. You can give Him that wearing flip-flops and a stained shirt. Our best isn’t the most expensive outfit we have in our closet, nor is it what society has labeled at the top of the list. Our best is all of us, our whole being. And before you ask, no, you cannot haggle to get a different deal with a more fair percentage. This percentage is perfectly fair.
Yesterday was a tough day for me. I started to get the sense of being overwhelmed. This feeling didn’t last very long. I could feel it coming, and I acted quickly. When storms come your way, when things seem to pile up, or when you just need a moment to breathe, where do you go? What do you do? Do you take a walk? I do at times. Do you call a friend? I do at times. Do you take a nap? There are times I only wish I could. Yesterday, I wanted to scream. I wanted to stomp on the floor like a little child who did not get her way; however, I didn’t.
When we don’t get what we want, when things are not what we planned, we can’t act like a 2-year-old and think it will get better. We need to understand that God has better things planned that our human minds cannot even fathom. We also need to keep ourselves in check. Even when things seem so bad, I just turn my head to the left or the right, and I see someone who has it worse. We all have something we are going through– it is how we react to the situation(s) that show our true colors. Whether we like to admit it or not, we are all very blessed.
So when I felt myself getting overwhelmed, I put on my own private jam session. I don’t have the records to sneak, nor do I have my old radio and tape player combo. Today we have iTunes. Click, click, and there it is with no skipping and no stopping. And as the music began, I looked upward and sang. I sang loud. Yes, God doesn’t need us to sing loud, but I wanted to let Him know that I wanted nothing more than to sing to Him at that very moment. I wanted to thank Him for everything. I have so much to be thankful for, so much that I could sing praises 24 hours a day and it wouldn’t be enough.
Psalm 150, the Psalm of Praise, comes to mind. Verse 6 says, “Let everything that has breath praise the Lord” [NASB].