Today was an awesome day! It was a good morning! We started worship with “Hold Us Together,” singing the words, “This is the first day of the rest of your life.” I looked onward and considered that today’s the first day of something special for three young girls, one who was confirming her baptism, and two who were scheduled to be baptized. Yes, my eyes began to tear up. One of the three girls was my daughter—the other two were two precious sisters who I have watched grow through the years—former students, considered family in my eyes. Oh what a wonderful morning!
As the three girls were before us I continued to pray for each one of them and I thanked God for His great plan for each of their lives. After the ceremony had finished, I made my way to the bathroom. I heard the words, “Good morning.” I looked around. No one was in the bathroom. No one was in the lounge. No one was anywhere near me. And I said, “Yes God, it is a good morning.”
Every day someone accepts the Lord as their Savior, it is a good morning. Every time someone becomes a brother or sister in Christ, it is a good morning. Heaven rejoices. We rejoice. God wants all of us to come home. Each one of us. Read 2 Peter 3:9. Today, it was a good morning. Three people very near and dear to my heart had the most important day of their lives. Join me in praying for each of these girls. Pray also that those who have yet to have their “good morning” will open their eyes and ears to what God has for them—the beautiful free gift—and give themselves as a living sacrifice. Thank you Jesus!! Oh what a beautiful day!
I wrote three verses in each of the books for the girls. Here’s one I wrote for my daughter:
“For the LORD your God is living among you. He is a mighty savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.” – Zephaniah 3:17 [NLT]
If you read the instructions to Noah, they were very specific. One of the instructions was in Genesis 6:16 where God told Noah to have a door on the side of the ark. One door. This door, this single door, was the only door to pass through to escape the judgment of God.
From this door we see two great things. First, Noah and his family by faith had to enter through the door. This demonstrates man’s responsibility. The second thing we see is God shutting the door. God alone could shut the door so Noah and his family could escape judgment. When God shut the door no one else could enter.
Salvation. We see it here with Noah and his family. We see how God spares them all and keeps them safe and secure in the ark. He shuts them in. This same salvation is offered to each of us. We too have only one door, one gate. Remember, Jesus said, “I am the gate for the sheep” (John 10:7 NIV). He continued, “Whoever enters through Me will be saved” (v. 9 NIV). When we enter His gate, when we give our life to Him, He promises that “no one can snatch [us] from the Father’s hand” (John 10:29 NLT). Safe. Secure. Salvation.
“And those that entered, male and female of all flesh, went in as God had commanded him. And the LORD shut him in.” – Genesis 7:16 [ESV]
There are many ways to get to a destination. I love when I am driving using my GPS to direct me to somewhere I have been before but might not know each turn necessary. I will not listen to the directions given by the GPS because I know a better way to go, perhaps a faster highway or a safer road. I take the directions I know will still get me to the destination and then I listen later for the directions from the GPS to finish the journey. The GPS yells at me again and again because I am off the desired route.
The Highway of Holiness doesn’t allow for different ways to make the destination. There is only one path, the straight and narrow path. The path is Jesus Christ. He said He is the Way and He is the only way.
Isaiah states that there are some people who will not travel on the Highway of Holiness, otherwise known as the Way of Holiness. We have the option to travel on the great road—to follow in God’s ways—to follow Jesus Christ. We can only travel on the Highway of Holiness through Christ. He is our EZ Pass. We cannot afford the toll otherwise. We also have the option to choose another destination. C.S. Lewis pointed out that hell was a choice and it’s true. Jesus said you couldn’t reach the Father except through Him. He is the Way. The only way.
“And a great road will go through that once deserted land. It will be named the Highway of Holiness. Evil-minded people will never travel on it. It will be only for those who walk in God’s ways; fools will never walk there.” – Isaiah 35:8 [NLT]
There were two sons who were very different. The one son wanted the inheritance so the father split up the estate and the son ran off with the amount he was given. The other remained. Most people remember this story. Finally after the son spends all of his money, he realizes what he did. He returns to his father and repents. What was lost was now found.
What was the father doing while the son was away? Can you remember that part of the story? When the son was returning, he wasn’t even at home when his father saw that he was returning. He was “still a long way off.” Why? Because the father was watching and waiting for the lost son.
God watches and waits for us too. He does not want to lose any of us. He is filled with unfailing love and overflowing compassion. He wants to run to each of us. He wants to embrace you. We simply need to head home. No matter what you have done, no matter how far you have traveled, you always can return to him. He’s waiting. Come home.
“So he returned home to his father. And while he was still a long way off, his father saw him coming. Filled with love and compassion, he ran to his son, embraced him, and kissed him.” – Luke 15:20 [NLT]
My neighbor recently got a dog who always wants to leave his designated area to come say hello to my dog. Each day he tries to walk off his master’s porch, walk down the pavement, and join Max. Since he was unable to find any success choosing the way of the stairs, he decided to sneak around another way. When Max and I approached, his master looked for his puppy in the usual area; however, he wasn’t there. He was already at some bushes making his way toward Max from another route.
We often think we can take another way to get to a destination. We have shortcuts and back roads. There are times when we can skip steps and save time. But when it comes to our relationship with God, there are no back roads, no shortcuts; there is no way to skip any steps.
I was reminded of John 10:1 when I saw the dog sneak around the gate. In this verse, Jesus says, “I tell you the truth, anyone who sneaks over the wall of a sheepfold, rather than going through the gate, must surely be a thief and a robber!” There is only one way to the Father and that is through Jesus, and there is only one way to receive Eternal Life, only one way to have a relationship with God—through Jesus.
“Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.’” – John 14:6 [NIV]
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]
I do not like the taste of grapefruit; however, I read many articles claiming that it would be beneficial for my health so I decided to start drinking grapefruit juice daily. The problem is that I cannot stand the taste. The first time I had some of the juice, I could not even force it down; it made me sick just tasting a sip of the juice. But I knew that it would be beneficial to me so I continued to drink it daily and still have a glass every morning.
Something that leaves a bitter taste in most mouths is discipline. People don’t generally like to be disciplined. Who wants to get a write-up at work for being late? What child wants to be grounded? Yet discipline can help us to grow as well as to correct our behavior. Discipline is for a reason. Discipline is for our best. Yet we have become a society against discipline. People are able to buy themselves out of a punishment. Children are un-grounded thirty minutes later because a parent “feels bad,” doesn’t want the child to get a complex or doesn’t feel like taking the time to enforce the punishment.
It is no different when it comes to the Lord’s discipline. We do not like discipline. We complain about our circumstances. There are situations we go through that are to help us to be holy as God has called us to be as His children, and we don’t recognize the discipline or don’t wish to accept the discipline. Proverbs 3:11-12 states: “My son, do not despise the Lord’s discipline, and do not resent his rebuke, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, as a father the son he delights in” (NIV). God loves you so much that He doesn’t want you to be living in sin. He set you apart for a reason. You can choose to ignore or you can choose to submit. Submission will lead you toward the goodness, to holiness, to life.
Read Psalm 39 and see how David reacts to discipline.
“Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father? If you are not disciplined—and everyone undergoes discipline—then you are not legitimate, not true sons and daughters at all. Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of spirits and live! They disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.”
– Hebrews 12: 7-11 [NIV]
This lesson is geared toward elementary aged children. The lesson could be used for Father’s Day or as a general lesson focused on our Abba Father. The lesson uses Galatians 4:6 as the main verse and it uses animal father facts to promote a discussion about how earthly fathers and our heavenly Father. An optional craft to follow to accompany the lesson is to make cards for fathers.
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