God's Wonderful Stories: Volume 1

Table of Contents

1. The Adam and Eve Story Part 1
2. The Adam and Eve Story Part 2
3. What Happened to Enoch?
4. Three Men in Prison
5. The Man Who Forgot
6. Big Sister
7. That Man Moses
8. Millions of Frogs
9. A Terrifying Hailstorm
10. Strange Fire
11. The Story of Twelve Spies
12. Melting Hearts
13. Achan's Secret
14. The Story of Naomi's Family
15. The Story of a Big Man
16. Enough Is Enough
17. More About the Mother and Her Son
18. I Lost the Ax Head
19. Josiah's Grandfather
20. Josiah, the King
21. The Plot Against the Great King
22. The Poor Wise Man
23. A Special Tree
24. More About Shaphan
25. The Story of Four Boys
26. The King's Dream
27. A Statue, an Orchestra and a Furnace
28. The King's Second Dream
29. The Handwriting on the Wall
30. Daniel's Jealous Enemies
31. More About Daniel
32. He Walked on the Water
33. The King Rides a Donkey
34. Invited … Are You Coming?
35. The Sword out of God's Mouth
36. The Man Who Came Running
37. The Story of Two Men
38. The Tree Climber
39. The Poolside Story
40. Another Poolside Story
41. Who Tells Fish What to Do?
42. The Story of Rhoda
43. Peter's Story

The Adam and Eve Story Part 1

This famous story is often referred to in the conversations of the world, but somehow they seldom get it right. Perhaps you are hearing it for the first time, perhaps for the thousandth time, but it is most important to have the story right. Nobody likes to have their words repeated all wrong, because then people get the wrong meaning.
To begin with, God had planted a beautiful garden in Eden when He created the world, and He had arranged beautiful trees—lots of them—with fruit good for food. In the very center He had placed the wonderful tree of life. He also placed the tree of the knowledge of good and evil in the garden. This was the only tree whose fruit God had said not to eat.
What a wonderful parkland for Adam and Eve to enjoy and to care for. This was all pleasure for them, not work, and it cost them nothing.
BUT  .  .  .  there is always a BUT as long as Satan is active on earth, and that means today also. BUT, Satan is a hater of God and of everything that God loves, and that includes you and me.
Satan was, no doubt, very beautiful and not a slithering, legless creature as snakes are today. He came to ask Eve if God had said that they could not eat of every tree of the garden. Now this commandment had been given to Adam, but he had certainly told Eve. Did he not tell it right? or did she not listen right? or did she forget some of the words? Her answer was not correct.
Let’s read in the Bible and check to see what God said to Adam. It is always very, very important to find out exactly what God says. We can be thankful that we have God’s Word in writing. Genesis 2:17 says, “Of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.”
Eve answered Satan that they could eat any of the fruit, but not from the tree in the middle of the garden.
Oh, Eve! Didn’t you listen? The forbidden tree of the knowledge of good and evil is not in the middle of the garden. The tree in the middle is the tree of life!
Did she want that forbidden fruit so much that it became the center of the garden for her? And to you we ask, Is there something which God refuses but which you secretly want so much that it has become the center of your life? And because of it, are you missing God’s wonderful gift of everlasting life through Jesus Christ our Lord? Eve’s mistake is a very old one, repeated in many lives today.
And then she added, “God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die.” Did she mean that there was a possibility that she might die? God had said, “Thou shalt surely die.” There was no shadow of doubt.
Besides, God did not say anything about touching it. I wonder if she was thinking that God was extra hard on her. It is much better to remember exactly what God has said and to add nothing.
Eve stood there looking at that wonderful fruit - good for food, pleasant to the eyes, and a temptation to make her wise. She took the fruit and ate and gave to her husband also, and he ate. And Adam and Eve, who ate of that forbidden fruit, are dead.
What they did is not hard to understand. It was simply a “Yes” answer when God had said “No.” It happened six thousand years ago, but the same story is repeated every day and everywhere. God says, “Thou shalt not,” and man says, “But I’m going to anyway.” Death results. We have sinned, and it looks hopeless.
Hopeless? God is not defeated. He has not changed His holiness or His love. He knew all about our sin, and He had a plan: “In this was manifested [made plain] the love of God toward us, because that God sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him” (1 John 4:9).
We’ll tell you more in the next story.

The Adam and Eve Story Part 2

Do you remember the previous story about Adam and Eve eating the forbidden fruit? God saw what they had done, and God had the power to sweep them right off the earth, as He could do to all of us sinners today. But God loved them, and He loves us too much for that.
That disobedience turned Adam and Eve into cowards. They sewed fig leaves together to cover themselves, and when God came to visit, they hid behind the trees. But God sees through all such things, whether it is fig leaves and trees, or a big stone church.
“Adam  .  .  .  where art thou?” asked the voice of God as He came walking in the garden in the cool of the day.
“I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself,” answered Adam.
“Who told thee that thou wast naked? Hast thou eaten of the tree, whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldest not eat?”
And Adam answered, “The woman whom Thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the [fruit], and I did eat.”
Do you see how lovingly God speaks to this guilty man? It is Adam who tries to put the blame on Eve, but God gives each one a chance to speak.
Then God asked Eve, “What is this that thou hast done?” And Eve blamed Satan and said that he had deceived her.
This is the true account as the perfect wisdom of God has written it down for us to learn from. God asks questions, and man answers in the same way as you may be answering today. Do you see that He loves you? He asks questions to give you a chance to confess your sin and He will forgive you.
God did not ask Satan any questions at all. Satan’s choice was already made, and there is no Savior for him or for any of his wicked demons. But there is a Savior for you. There is Jesus, born of the virgin Mary, who died on the cross for sins like Adam’s and like yours. Will you tell God the truth about yourself and receive His forgiveness?
Yes, Adam and Eve were put out of the garden. Why? So they could not eat of the tree of life, which they had ignored when it was free to them. God made it impossible for them to go back. He placed an angel to the east of the garden with a flaming sword which turned every way to keep them away from the tree of life. If they had eaten of that tree of life, they would have lived on earth forever. God did not want us to have to live forever on an earth full of sin. He has a perfect home in heaven for us that has no sin! That is why we cannot go to heaven unless our sins are gone. “Our Lord Jesus Christ  .  .  .  gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us from this present evil world” (Galatians 1:3-4). “The blood of Je-sus Christ His Son cleanseth us from all sin” (1 John 1:7).
Was God defeated? No, never! “The gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 6:23). This gift of eternal life is better than anything that Adam and Eve lost. Satan is defeated. God is forever the Almighty One. Is He your Shelter, your Refuge and Savior now and forever?

What Happened to Enoch?

It was a very long time ago, maybe 5000 years, when Jared and his wife welcomed their first little boy into the world. They called him Enoch.
It was a busy world for a little boy to grow up in. There were not only farmers and cattle ranchers, there were also metal workers who crafted in brass and iron and taught their skills to others. And it was a world full of music, with harps and flutes. The people had enough cleverness to build a city where they could share their skills and pleasures.
I am not sure what part the boy Enoch had in all this. There were very old men living in his day. One of them was Adam, the only man in the world who never was a little boy. Another one was Adam’s son Seth, who had certainly heard from his parents the story of the Garden of Eden and the forbidden fruit. These stories had surely been passed on to Enoch, and since the first man was still alive, they would not be told as twisted tales. Adam was Enoch’s great, great, great, great grandfather who lived to be 950 years old.
Enoch grew to be a man of 65, and then he and his wife had a little son whom they named Methuselah.
Enoch was a father now, and he had found something far more important to live for than all the busyness and pleasure of the world around him. Enoch walked with God, and He led Enoch to do his daily duties and to train his son to call upon God too. Walking with God was not a now-and-then matter in Enoch’s life; it was daily life to him.
Enoch had many more sons and daughters after that, and he lived for 300 more years. And in all that time he walked with God so closely that God was able to tell him one of His wonderful secrets. These secrets are all recorded in the Bible now, so that God has nothing new to tell. I wonder if you have taken time to read and remember what God has written in His wonderful book.
Enoch foretold God’s wonderful news nearly 5000 years ago. It has not happened yet, but it most certainly will come true. Remember, God’s knowledge is so perfect that He can speak of the future as if it were happening right now! This was His secret He told to Enoch: “Behold, the Lord [comes] with ten thousands of His saints, to execute judgment upon all” (Jude 14-15).
There must have been a lot of wickedness around Enoch in his day, but the Lord told Enoch that He is coming in a future day, not alone, but with those who belong to Him. When He comes, He will deliver deserved judgment upon ungodly sinners. And in all these thousands of years since, God has not changed His plan!
Nothing in the wicked world around Enoch changed his attitude; he simply walked with God, and God brought a wonderful change to his life. God took him out of the world to be with Himself ! Enoch did not die, and there was no funeral and no burial. God tells it like this in the Bible: “He [Enoch] was not; for God took him” (Genesis 5:24).
Have you heard that this is going to happen to those of us who are believers too? The day is coming very soon when we who belong to the Lord Jesus will be called to His home, and, just like Enoch, there will be no funerals and no burials for us. There is no place on earth where the body of Jesus lies buried, because He is alive and in heaven. And there will be no place on earth for the bodies of living believers either. Even those believers who have already died will leave empty graves behind.
This God was Enoch’s God, and He is our God too. He is not a God of our imagination, but the same One who gave His only Son to die for us. This same God who is holy and true wants your company today and forever in heaven. Will you walk with God and learn His secrets too?
Do you remember Methuselah, the son of Enoch? He lived 969 years and died the very same year that Noah entered into the ark and the flood came and destroyed all the unbelievers. Let no one tell you that God does not care. His loving welcome is as true as His terrible anger against sin. We have a God who cares!
“Be ye therefore ready also: for the Son of Man [comes] at an hour when ye think not” (Luke 12:40).

Three Men in Prison

It was not fair that Joseph was in prison. It was all a lie, but he had no chance to answer. He wore iron chains too, and where he had to stay was not a cell, but a dungeon.
However, Joseph was a believer in the living God. His belief shone in his conduct so much that the keeper of the prison noticed it and promoted him to be over the other prisoners. His belief in the living God was the real thing.
The crime he was accused of was against the king, which made it even more serious. His fellow-prisoners were the king’s prisoners too. One had been the “chief butler,” which was a very high position. He brought the royal wine-cup to the king. Another had been the “chief baker,” which was a high position too, since eating was of top importance in the king’s life.
But Joseph, you remember, was a servant of the living God, and since he knew God was taking care of him, he could give his time and thought to taking care of others. One morning when he found the butler and the baker extra sad, he asked them why.
Both men had dreamed. The butler had dreamed that he was back in the king’s court. In his dream he squeezed three bunches of grapes into a cup and then gave the cup to the king. What could this dream mean?
“Interpretations belong to God,” said Joseph. Then he explained that in three days the butler would be restored to his former position of chief butler.
How did Joseph know what would happen? He didn’t seem to have any doubt about it, even though there was no court announcement and he had no other way of knowing. The answer is one word - “God.” Do you know that answer too? You can, because you can have God’s Word, the Bible, if you want it. You and I can be sure of what will happen to us after this life, if we simply believe what God says in the Bible.
The butler had three days waiting time. And for me, I don’t know how long the waiting time may be, but I am sure that God’s Word is true, and the Savior who died for me has given me everlasting life. The Lord Jesus promises, “He that believ-eth on Me hath everlasting life” (John 6:47). I am sure of another of His promises: “I will come again, and receive you unto Myself; that where I am, there ye may be also” (John 14:3).
The baker was pleased to hear the butler’s news, and so he was ready to tell his dream too. He told Joseph that he dreamed that he carried three white baskets on his head, and the top one was full of all kinds of baked goods for the king. And then birds came and ate them out of the basket.
I can imagine how proud the baker was of his baking skills, and he must have waited eagerly for Joseph’s answer. But it all came to nothing. Joseph explained that in three days the king would hang him on a tree, and the birds would eat his flesh.
And it all came true, just as Joseph said. Why does God tell us such a sad story? You have heard many sad stories of warning against fire and accident and drugs, but this is God’s story and it is far more serious for you than death and disaster. This is forever. Can you see what God is showing to you?
It was God who made the grapes for the butler, but it was the baker’s own hard work that prepared the goodies, and it was the baker who carried his gift on his head.
Are you listening to the lesson? Don’t prepare your own gift and expect God to accept you. Don’t carry your gift on your head, where your brains and your own ideas are. There is only one gift that God will accept to receive you into His home with joy forever. That gift is something that He Himself has prepared for you. Here is the answer as God Himself has written it for you. “The blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us from all sin” (1 John 1:7). “By grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9).
Read this story in the Bible, and you will see that we have left out some details. Read it as God wrote it, and be sure that you have accepted God’s gift to you: “The gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 6:23).

The Man Who Forgot

Our last story was about the butler who was released from the king’s (Pharaoh’s) prison after his dream about the grapes.
Joseph, his helper in prison, had been very kind to him, and the butler had good reason to remember this kindness all his life. But Joseph had been more than kind. He was a believer in the living God, and he had given the butler the meaning of his dream - a message from God which came true in the butler’s life. This is a great deal more important than ordinary kindness. A message from God is worth listening to, more important than all friendly kindness that others may show to you.
“Show kindness.   .   . unto me, and make mention of me unto Pharaoh,” said Joseph when the butler left the prison. He explained to the butler that he had been stolen away from the land of the Hebrews, and that he had done no wrong in the captain’s house to cause them to put him into prison.
Doesn’t that sound like a true believer? If you have read the whole story in the Book of Genesis, you will know that Joseph’s mean brothers were to blame, because they had stolen him away and then sold him as a slave. And then the captain’s wife was to blame for having him thrown into prison. But Joseph does not blame anybody. If we are true believers, let us take this lesson to heart. Our God makes Himself responsible for us, and we should not hold bitterness against those who wrong us.
The butler was released on the king’s birthday to go back to his old position of honor, to carry the wine cup to the king. But in all the excitement and honors of the king’s court, the butler forgot about Joseph in prison. Two years of freedom and easy living slipped away for the butler, and there were two more years of unjust prison life for Joseph, servant of the living God. Even though the butler had forgotten, God had not forgotten. God never forgets His own.
Trouble came into the king’s life. He had dreams at night which troubled him all day, and no one could tell him what they meant, not even the magicians who knew all the tricks. And when the king had a problem, everyone had a problem, even the butler. His easy living was clouded with trouble.
Perhaps your easy living is troubled too. Do you remember the One who died to set you free? He is still unwanted in this world, but He has asked you to “remember Me.” Do you remember?
Finally the butler remembered, and he told the king about the prisoner whose explanation of his dream had come true. Joseph was sent for at once. With a shave and clean clothes, he was soon standing before the king. And when the king explained his problem, the young prisoner said, “[The answer] is not in me: God shall give Pharaoh an answer of peace.”
In our hearts we can praise his answer. He took no credit to himself at all, but only to God “in whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” Joseph explained the dreams. The land was going to have seven years of good crops, followed by seven years of terrible famine. This was going to be a far bigger problem than the king himself could handle. And so young Joseph was immediately appointed prime minister. His job was to make a plan and carry it through.
Is the living God worth trusting? Is He able to move kings and nations to carry out His plans? This story has many more details which you may read for yourself in Genesis 41, and each word will teach you that God is God, and His hands control all men and nations. This is not hard for Him to do, even in this year, since He has all power and all wisdom.
But there is one problem that required the hardest thing that God Himself ever chose to do. He could create the whole world with the word of His mouth, but He had to give up His only beloved Son to save one sinner for eternity. He did this for you! He did it because He loves you! Have you thanked Him? Today is the day to thank Him, and then live your thanks in your everyday life.
“Thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 15:57).

Big Sister

It is very important to be a big sister, especially when you have a secret like Miriam had. It doesn’t matter if I tell you her secret now, but it mattered a lot then.
Her secret was that there was a new baby brother in her home, and everybody knew that King Pharaoh had ordered that all Hebrew baby boys should be thrown into the Nile River. The Hebrews were the king’s slaves, and he was afraid the Hebrew boys would grow up to be too strong for him. He was afraid there would be so many of them that they would fight against him and win their freedom.
People without God and without Christ are often afraid and try all sorts of ways to make sure that nobody and nothing will be too strong for them. But it was Isaiah who said, “The Lord  .  .  .  is my strength and my song; He also is become my salvation” (Isaiah 12:2). I’m sure the king did not know anything about the Lord or he would not have made such a wicked command because he was afraid.
The Hebrew midwives who helped the mothers having new babies knew the king’s command, but they didn’t listen to him; they saved the baby boys alive. That was brave, wasn’t it?
After three months, Miriam’s baby brother must have become rather noisy, and so his mother did a very surprising thing. She put him in the Nile River herself, but not the way the king intended. She took a big basket made of bulrushes and waterproofed it with tar. Then she carefully laid her baby boy in it, covered him up and set the basket afloat among the tall weeds by the river. Big sister Miriam watched from a distance to see what would happen to him.
That was the time that King Pharaoh’s daughter, the princess, came down to the river to bathe, and her servants walked along by the riverbank. When she saw the basket among the weeds, she sent her maid to get it. When the princess opened the basket, the baby cried, and his cries melted her heart.
“This is one of the Hebrews’ children,” she said. She knew her father’s command about the Hebrew baby boys, but she felt sorry for the little crying baby and decided she wanted that baby for herself. But she was going to have a problem very soon -how would she feed the baby?
Before she had time to wonder, Miriam ran to the princess and asked if she should call a Hebrew nurse to feed the baby for her. “Go,” said the princess. Miriam probably ran all the way home and burst into the house to tell her mother the good news. Mother was ready to run faster than Miriam did and to hold out her arms gladly to her very own baby.
“Take this child away, and nurse it for me, and I will give thee thy wages,” said the princess.
The princess may not have known who the nurse really was, but there was no need to hide the baby anymore. This Hebrew baby boy lived because the princess had saved him, and nobody could argue with that.
We don’t know what name his parents gave the baby, but the princess called him “Moses.” And that was his name from then on, and he lived for 120 years.
When Moses was old enough to walk by himself, that brave mother took him to the palace of the princess and left him there. It was a hard thing to do, but do you know something? It is more important to belong to God because the Lord Jesus has saved you than it is to belong to anybody on earth. His mother went home and put away his little things, but she knew that little Moses was God’s good gift, and God never changes His mind about gifts. Both the parents were not afraid of the king’s commandment.
As Moses grew up, he was given a good education, and he could talk about important matters with anybody. But he never forgot that he was a Hebrew, and it showed up in his life. We’ll tell you about it in the next story.
This story about the baby Moses is a story of doing what God says, no matter what anybody else says. You can find what God wants you to do by reading His book, the Bible. And if you aren’t brave enough to do what God says, ask Him for the courage, and He will give it to you. It takes courage to obey Him even today!
“We ought to obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29).

That Man Moses

There wasn’t very much about Egypt that Moses didn’t know. Not only was he very smart, he was a good speaker too. He was also in a very important position as the adopted son of the king’s daughter. It was enough to make any man proud of himself and sure of his future.
But there was something inside Moses’ heart that made him unhappy. There were people in Egypt who were having a rough time. They were working very hard as slaves and getting scoldings and beatings instead of pay. This specially bothered him because he knew who his real parents were - he knew that by birth he really was one of those slaves. It was as if they were his own brothers, and his good life in the palace could not make him forget that those slaves were really his people.
One day Moses went by himself to watch them working, but he saw more than that. He saw an Egyptian beating one of his own hard-working people, and that was not fair. Moses was a strong man himself, so he looked this way and that way to make sure no one was watching. Then he killed that Egyptian and buried him in the sand.
But you can never be sure. If you want to hide what you are doing, you had better not do it.
Moses went out again another day and saw a fight, but this time it was two of his own people who were fighting each other. This time he wanted to be a peacemaker so that they would be friends again. But the attacker was angry at Moses for breaking up the fight. Who made you a prince and a judge over us? he asked. Will you kill me like you killed the Egyptian yesterday?
Now Moses knew that someone had seen what he had done to that Egyptian and that the king would hear about it. When Moses saw that he was in trouble, he quickly left Egypt and the good life that he had in the palace and went away to Midian to live. But his people were still slaves in Egypt, working under hard conditions as brick builders for the king.
God had a great work for Moses to do, but he was not ready for it yet. And God had a great surprise for those poor, hard-working slaves, but they were not ready for it either.
Don’t be angry if God keeps you waiting. He wants you to be ready for His blessing. You may ask, “Ready? How can I be ready?” You are ready when you will let God have His way. He loves you and wants to save you from your sins right now, through the precious blood of His dear Son. Are you ready to let Him save you? or do you want to argue with Him first?
Moses was already a saved man, but his riches and education and strength did not make him ready to be used by God to save his people from slavery. It is God who is wise and strong and loving, not Moses or you or me. Are you ready to be used by Him to help others?
While Moses was living elsewhere, he learned what God wanted him to know. After many years, God sent him back again to Egypt, and he did deliver his people from slavery. Have you and I learned that God is always right?
“As for God, His way is perfect: the word of the Lord is tried [proven]” (Psalm 18:30).

Millions of Frogs

Perhaps you have heard of Pharaoh, the great king of Egypt. He was keeping the children of Israel as slaves to make bricks for his projects. But God knew what Pharaoh was doing, and He sent Moses to tell him, “Let My people go!”
Pharaoh’s answer was very bold against God. He said, “Who is the Lord, that I should obey His voice?” (Exodus 5:2).
Maybe you have said bold words like that. But everyone needs to listen to God. He says, “The wages of sin is death.” God means what He says. And the only way you can escape the wages of your sins is to repent and believe what God says about a Substitute He has provided for you.
Pharaoh did not care what God said, so God spoke to him in ways that were not very pleasant. One of those ways was the plague of frogs.
The Nile River flowed through Egypt, and in its quieter spots there were large, green frogs, long-legged and slippery. Perhaps we like them in the river when they swell out their throats and sing. But God’s purpose was intended to make Pharaoh obey His voice. God told Aaron to stretch out his rod over the river so that frogs would come up on the land. And they came! They came right into the Egyptians’ houses and into their bedrooms and into their beds! Not just a few, but lots and lots of them - in the kitchens and in their mixing bowls and in the ovens! In fact, the frogs were jumping all over the people and their servants, till nobody could get a moment’s peace.
Pharaoh’s magicians couldn’t make the frogs go away, and Pharaoh was terribly upset. He told Moses, “Entreat the Lord, that He may take away the frogs from me.”
“When?” asked Moses.
“Tomorrow!” answered Pharaoh.
God answered Moses’ prayer, and from then on the frogs stayed in the river. But the frogs already on land died in the bedrooms and kitchens and all over, and the people gathered them into heaps, and the land stank.
Do you think Pharaoh listened now and promised to let God’s people go? No, he didn’t. I suppose his workmen figured out some way to clean up the mess and then ordered the children of Israel to get back to work making bricks.
Do you hear the tender, loving voice of God speaking to you when troubles come? Will you refuse to listen to Him as Pharaoh did? There were more troubles for Pharaoh after that, and there will be in your life too, because God has promised, “The wages of sin is death.”
God finally sent death into every family of those Egyptian people, and there was a great and bitter cry. Why didn’t they listen at first? And why don’t you listen to God’s warnings? Even bad words you have said are sin and recorded by God Himself, and “the wages of sin is death.”
Is there any hope for you? Is there anyone willing to die in your place since you have sinned against God?
There is a wonderful promise in God’s Word which says, “Christ died for our sins” (1 Corinthians 15:3). The work is done. The Savior died and rose again. But He is not everybody’s Savior, because there are so many who go their own way, with unbelieving hearts, and they blame God for the troubles He sends.
Won’t you thank Him for troubles that make you listen - and thank Him for the precious blood of Jesus which cleanses us from all sin? Pharaoh didn’t listen. Will you?

A Terrifying Hailstorm

The cows were all lying dead in the field one day, and their keepers were lying dead beside them. Whatever could have happened? Let me tell you the story. And since this is one of God’s stories, we may be sure that it is true.
Pharaoh, king of Egypt, was using the children of Israel as slaves to make bricks for his building projects. God told Pharaoh, “Let My people go!”
No! said Pharaoh. He wanted to keep them as slaves.
Perhaps you said “No” to God and to His Son Jesus yesterday when He reminded you again of your sins. Nothing bad happened, and you got up this morning healthy and well. So did the Egyptian people  .  .  .  for a while. But God sent them nine warnings before He sent the tenth one - death. Has He sent warnings to you?
One of those nine warnings was a furious storm of thunder, lightning and hail so huge and heavy it pounded everything flat, including people and animals. If the weather forecast warned you of a terrible storm like that, you would make sure that you and everything you owned were in a safe shelter. But this warning to Pharaoh was not from the weatherman; it was from God, and Pharaoh did not listen.
Do you listen to God? He never makes mistakes. His Word tells you over and over again that God will judge this sinful world. Do you have a safe shelter from that judgment?
Perhaps you don’t know where to find shelter. That’s why God gave us the Bible, and that’s why we are telling you this story. Jesus, the Savior of sinners -Jesus, who died for our sins and rose again - Jesus, the Son of God, is the perfect and only shelter from that judgment which God has warned is coming against sin and sinners.
There were some Egyptians who feared God and listened, and they brought their livestock home. But I’m afraid that word “some” did not include very many. There was no escape from the pounding hail and fiery lightning for anyone or anything left outside. The fields were strewn with the dead bodies of people and animals.
Pharaoh cried out to Moses to ask God to stop the deadly storm. You notice that Pharaoh himself did not cry to God. He had to beg Moses to ask God to stop the storm. But God loves you, and He wants to hear a cry from your own heart, not just asking for peace and good health, but to cleanse you from all your sins by the precious blood of Jesus. Do you see that sin is the real deep-down problem in your life?
Moses stretched forth his hands toward heaven and the hailstorm stopped. This did not bring life again to the cows and keepers, and it did not teach Pharaoh his lesson-that God is true and He must be obeyed.
From the rest of the story in the Book of Exodus, it is plain that Pharaoh never learned. Will you listen and learn? You can never get past the power of God, and you can never guess the love of His heart until you come to Him through Jesus. You will find that “God is love” (1 John 4:16). What He will do for you is a million times better than stopping a hailstorm! In His mighty power, He will do far more than all you ask or think.
“In the fear of the Lord is strong confidence: and His children shall have a place of refuge” (Proverbs 14:26).

Strange Fire

If you are camping on a chilly evening, it is a big challenge to light a fire without matches. It takes a skilled camper to do this. But if he really needs a fire, he will probably succeed.
Here is a greater challenge. You or I happen to come along and see a campfire with a pot of water boiling and a pan of sizzling fish and no one around. We see no clues, so how can we tell how that fire was lighted? God certainly knows the answer, but we would have no way of finding out. Maybe there are two other fires close by where other campers are cooking supper. Was this fire started from one of those? We just cannot tell. Now let me tell you a story about a fire, and since it is one of God’s stories, we know it is true.
Nadab and Abihu were the two oldest sons of Aaron the high priest. They could well remember being up in the holy mountain with their father, and they knew their religion well. Now they were dressed in priestly robes and had a very important place in the worship of the Lord. Their duty was to carry a censer with smoking incense in it. (A censer was a metal pot that held burning coals. The priest sprinkled incense made of sweet spices over the burning coals. As the incense burned, it gave off a cloud of sweet-smelling smoke.) I’m sure it was a very impressive sight. Nadab and Abihu were important religious men, and they were doing their job.
But  .  .  .  there was something wrong. God had told them exactly where to get the burning coals for lighting the incense. They were to get them from the fire from the great brass altar where God had ordered that a clean animal should be offered in sacrifice to Himself. This was the only right way to light the incense, but they had lighted it from some other source. Probably no one knew what they had done, not even their father. But God knew. They were offering to God strange fire.
Who could tell that they had gotten the fire from some other source? No one but God. You and I must meet God too, and many of us offer our praises to Him now and often come together to worship. But our worship must be according to His directions. It must begin with the perfect sacrifice of Christ on the cross where He suffered God’s judgment against sin. If you offer any praise which does not begin with this perfect sacrifice, God will not accept you.
The sacrifice of Christ on the cross is not only for everyone - it is for you personally. God has given you and me the Bible so that we will know that nothing but the death of Christ will ever make us welcome in His presence.
God tells us what happened to those two priests. “There went out fire from the Lord, and devoured them.” Right there, all of a sudden, those two men lay dead. Their cousins came and carried their bodies away. Their father was a faithful priest and his heart was very sad, but he could not save them. If they had taken the fire from the burnt offering upon the brass altar, they would have lived. But they made their own choice and disobeyed God.
We have a choice to make too before we meet God. We may choose the Savior who died for sinners, or we may choose something else and disobey God. Robes and religion and incense will not save you from the wrath of God, but the Lord Jesus who loves you and died for you can save you right now. Will you accept Him as the sacrifice for your sins?
“There is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). “By grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9).

The Story of Twelve Spies

Since the work of spies is important and dangerous, they must be people of courage and skill. They must be able to observe, listen and bring back accurate information to those who sent them.
Twelve men of Israel were handpicked to be spies while they and their families were in the wilderness on their way to the promised land of Canaan. The spies were given directions and a list of the information they must bring back to those who sent them. Their instructions were to go southward and up into the mountain to see the land. Here is the list of what they were to find out on their spying mission: Are the people strong or weak?
Are there few or many?
Is the land good or bad?
Do the people live in cities or do they live in tents?
Do they have strongholds?
Is the soil fertile or poor?
Are there trees?
Bring back samples of the fruit growing there.
The instructions did not include anything about methods of attack or fighting, but only sight information. It looked like an interesting assignment, and they probably set off eagerly. Imagine the excitement as Moses and their families and friends watched them leave and disappear across the sands of the desert, full of hope and strength.
They were gone forty days. We can imagine the welcome when all twelve arrived safely home again. They brought back good news of the fertile and wooded land which God had promised to give to them and were loaded with pomegranates and figs and grapes. In fact, one big cluster of juicy grapes was so heavy that it took two men to carry it between them on a pole!
But why did their faces look so gloomy and dark when they brought back such good news and wonderful fruit? Ten of the spies looked hopeless and defeated, and the crowds soon learned the reason. It’s no use, those ten spies said. No hope. Their cities have great walls, and the people living there are as big as giants! They looked down at us like we were grasshoppers, and we felt like grasshoppers too.
This message was greeted by cries of despair and disappointment. Here we are in the wilderness, and there’s no hope of taking the land! Let’s elect a captain and go back to Egypt where we used to be slaves. It’s better than dying out here in the wilderness! And their cries of despair turned to anger.
But there were two of the spies who did not agree with this unbelief and rebellion. Caleb quieted the people and told them, We are well able to go up. But no one listened. Joshua and Caleb stood up again and answered them with confidence that came straight from God. Just the two of them stood alone in front of all that angry, shouting crowd, but they had the word of God to trust in, and nothing changes God’s word!
“If the Lord delight in us, then HE will bring us into this land, and give it [to] us.” These good words rang out above the crowd, and they heard it. But their angry answer was, Stone them! Kill them!
Rebellion can lead people a long way into sin. But whether you are very young, very old or in between, you can share the brave words of those two men, and be sure, very sure, that if you belong to God, He is going to take you to His home, because He promised, and God keeps His promises. He knows how, no matter what you have done.
Then the glory of the Lord appeared, and all the people saw it. That silenced them, but it did not change their hearts. God sent a plague which immediately destroyed the ten spies who had rebelled against Him.
Being a spy may be dangerous, but it is more than dangerous to rebel against God: It is sure destruction. It was nearly forty years later that God brought that huge crowd of over a million people into the land that the spies had visited. But during that time, all the rebellious adults died and were buried in the wilderness. Did God hate them? No, not at all. He loved them and took good care of them on that forty-year journey. But the children were the ones who lived to enter and enjoy the wonderful land which the spies had explored.
By this time, Joshua and Caleb were about eighty years old, strong and vigorous, and they received the place of their choice in the good land which God had promised to them. Why? Because they simply believed God. When God said, This land is for you, they said, Yes.
Can you do that too? God says that salvation is for you, because His Son, the Lord Jesus, died to take away your sins. His gift of eternal life is for you, right now. Will you believe Him and say, “Yes”? Eternal death will come to you if your answer is “No.” What will your answer be?
“I am the Lord: I will speak, and the word that I shall speak shall come to pass” (Ezekiel 12:25). “What shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God?” (1 Peter 4:17).

Melting Hearts

Most of you know all about melting snow and melting icebergs, but what do you know about melting hearts? Here is a true story that will help you to understand.
This story is about a lady who lived in a house on top of a long, high wall enclosing the city of Jericho, near the Jordan River. Her parents and her brothers and sisters lived inside the shelter of the wall. And for many years they all had heard the story of a great army of half-a-million people who were coming to their city to destroy them.
At first it seemed like a faraway tale. But it was different from other tales because, although the people in the city had a wall and a river for protection, the people who were coming had a God. Their God was mighty and could roll back the waters of the Red Sea and lead them across safely, and then drown all their enemies who chased them. Their God could also feed them for forty years in the barren, desert wilderness. There was no other god who could do mighty things like that. And as the people in this city thought about it, they were afraid - their hearts melted. And what can you do for melting hearts?
The lady in the house on top of the wall was not afraid - she did not have a melting heart. Her name was Rahab. Living on top of the wall, it couldn’t protect her, and she didn’t have a spear or shield, but her heart was trusting in the same mighty God who had fed His people all those forty years. There are no ups and downs with a God like that. He is always the same, always trustworthy. Do you know Him?
Rahab had more than these people’s wonderful stories to believe. She had a personal promise. She was told by two messengers from God’s people that if she hung the scarlet cord in her window, everyone in her house would be safe when God’s judgment fell on the wicked city. Rahab quickly tied the scarlet cord in her window and did just as she was told, and the promise made her safe.
We have a promise too. “He that believ-eth on Me [the Son] hath everlasting life” (John 6:47). Who is the Son? He is the Son of God, whose precious blood cleanses us from all sin. If you take that promise for your very own, you will be as safe as Rahab was. God keeps His promises. His awful judgment day will find you safe, because you are cleansed by the precious blood of the Savior who died for you.
Rahab climbed down from her house on the wall and went into the city of melting hearts. The frightened people were probably reminding each other about the protection of the flooded Jordan River, the strong walls they were counting on, and the well-armed soldiers in their city. But Rahab did not listen to them; she had a promise she was counting on. She went to her parents and her brothers and sisters and told them about the wonderful promise God’s messengers had given her. She invited her family to stay in her house, which had only the scarlet cord in the window to protect them. And they came!
Will you come? We are telling you this story to urge you to come to Jesus Christ, because His blood is your protection and His Word is your promise. Will you come now and be as safe as Rahab was? God is always the Same; His promise will never change.
Soon the army of God’s people came to the wall of the city. The flooded Jordan River was nothing at all when God led His people through on the dry riverbed! And the city walls were nothing at all when God commanded His people to shout and the walls fell down flat! God’s people had a wonderful victory that day. The city of Jericho was completely destroyed, including all the people and their livestock.
I suppose it was crowded in that little house on the wall before the wall fell, but God kept His promise, and every person in Rahab’s house was safely removed to the safety of God’s people. In fact, Rahab lived to be an ancestor in the royal line of Jesus who was born of the virgin Mary.
Would you have been in Ra-hab’s house if you had been there? Maybe you would not have been invited, but you are certainly invited right now. Come and believe and trust the One who gave Himself for sinners. Come to the protection of His precious blood. There is no halfway point. When you hear of the judgment of God against sin, fear should melt your heart. You may shut your ears and mind to it, you may count on your good works to protect you, or you may trust the Savior of sinners with all your heart. Only one carries the promise of God. Which will you do?
“Whoso putteth his trust in the Lord shall be safe” (Proverbs 29:25).

Achan's Secret

It’s my secret, Achan said to himself. No one needs to know. And he carefully scraped a hole in the floor of his tent and hid them there - two hundred shekels of silver, a wedge of gold, and a fine imported garment.
You see, Achan had worn the same clothes for forty years. Maybe, if he had been a child when the journey began, he had exchanged clothes and sandals with other growing children until he was a man, but nothing was newer than forty years old.
Are you thinking, Poor, tattered old clothes?
No, they weren’t tattered or worn out! Achan did not stop to think about how wonderful his clothes really were. God had kept them fresh, without fading or need for mending, through all those years of dusty desert travel. There was nothing like those clothes in the whole world, neither then nor now. So why steal and hide a supposedly better garment when what God had provided was still just like new? And more importantly, God had said “No” about taking anything of the riches of Jericho.
Achan was part of the army which had won a great victory at Jericho. The next city, which was Ai, was just a small city and would be an easy victory. No problem.
But there WAS a problem! God knew about that stuff hidden in Achan’s tent, and God let Israel’s army turn back defeated from the little city of Ai. Joshua, their leader, took this problem at once to the God of Israel. God’s answer was, “Israel [has] sinned”!
We aren’t told how long it was between the hiding and the discovery. Perhaps in our lives it may be a long time, but the discovery of hidden sin is sure to come. Achan had an opportunity to confess his hidden sin before God, but he didn’t confess until he was pointed out as the guilty one.
Do you know that you have an opportunity right now to confess to God that you are a sinner? There is forgiveness for you, because it was for peoples’ sins that Jesus suffered and died on Calvary. He knows everything you have done. Tell Him now that you are a sinner and need your sins forgiven. Confess with your mouth that Jesus Christ is Lord and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead. God has promised that you will be eternally saved from the punishment for your sins. “If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved” (Romans 10:9).
Achan confessed when he was faced with his guilt and told them where to find the things in his tent. Punishment was total. He, his family and all his belongings were destroyed, and a great heap of stones was piled over the whole guilty group.
God tells you and me that “every tongue [shall] confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:11). If you wait until you stand before God as your judge to make this confession, then your punishment will be total. But if you will confess from your heart today that Jesus Christ is your Lord and Savior, you will find that Jesus bore your total punishment on the cross, and forgiveness for you is free. When your life here on earth is over, you will be welcomed to your home in heaven where Jesus is right now.

The Story of Naomi's Family

Naomi and her husband Elime-lech and their two sons lived in the land of Israel. It was a time of famine in that land.
Elimelech looked out across the dry fields and worried because they did not have enough to eat. He decided to move his family to the land of Moab. But he did not ask God about this plan, and there was one thing he forgot. In the land of Moab where he chose to go, they worshipped idols and paid no attention at all to the commandments of the true God.
The move seemed good at first, but then Elimelech died, and Naomi and her two sons were left alone. The two boys grew up and married two nice girls from Moab named Orpah and Ruth.
But more trouble came. Naomi’s two sons died, and all that was left of the family was three lonely widows. What did they talk about now? I know one thing. Naomi told them about the God whom she had known in Israel, the country God had chosen for His people. And when she heard that God had filled the fields in Israel with grain for food, she decided to go back again. Ten years had not made her forget God.
Perhaps you heard about God years ago, but since then you have made all your own plans without Him. But God has sent pain and sickness and perhaps death into your life or your best friend’s life. He wants to bring you back to hear His Word again. Will you come? Will you listen?
The three widows set out together, and they had no choice but to walk. But it seems that Naomi hesitated to bring the two young widows back to her country. She thought they would be lonely and unhappy, and she urged them to go home again to their mothers. There were a lot of tears and kisses as the three stood together before parting, and then Orpah went home to her mother.
What happened to her next? God doesn’t say another word about her. She probably married again and went on worshipping idols and died without a Savior. There is no one but God, the true God of heaven and earth, who can forgive sins. “Who can forgive sins but God only?” (Mark 2:7). Will you go off into silence as Orpah did, far from the God who loves you?
But Ruth hugged Naomi and would not let her go on to Israel alone. Ruth wanted Naomi for keeps, and she wanted the God whom Naomi had told her about. Nothing would make her stay in Moab.
It was a good choice for Ruth, and for you too! There is only one God who loves you and who can plan for your future far better than you can yourself. Cling to Him, and let nothing turn you away!
Naomi and Ruth came at last to the land of Judah in Israel and found that the harvest was just beginning in the fields. The people recognized Naomi and welcomed her back to their land and to all the customs that God had lovingly planned for them.
One custom was that the poor could go into the fields of the rich, after the reapers had left with their loads, and pick up any grain left behind. God had a secret plan for Ruth, and so she happened to pick up grain in the field of a rich man named Boaz. He was one of Naomi’s relatives.
Boaz noticed Ruth right away, and he asked questions about her. He was told that she was the young widow who came back from Moab with Naomi. He might have been disgusted with someone from Moab, but God controls the hearts of people. He did then, and He does now. You don’t have to be an important person to be noticed, if you let God plan for you. Boaz came right over and made Ruth welcome. He told her to drink from the cool water that his workers had brought from the well, and he also told the reapers to drop extra grain for her as they carried it away.
It only got better for Ruth. He told her to sit with his reapers for lunch, and he served her more than enough food. And finally, he really wanted to marry her.
But there was one reason why he couldn’t, and it was written in the law of God. There was a closer relative who had the right to marry Ruth. What could Boaz do?
And did you know that Jesus loves you and wants you to share heaven with Him, but there is a reason why you can’t? You are a sinner. You have disobeyed God. What can God do?
Perhaps you know the answer. “God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son” (John 3:16). He sent His Son Jesus to go to Calvary’s cross in your place. It was there Jesus took the punishment for the sins of any sinner who will accept Him as Savior. This, and nothing else, opens the way for Him to bring you to His home forever.
And there was only one thing Boaz could do. He talked to the other relative. He asked this man if he wished to marry Ruth, and the man said he couldn’t because it would spoil his own inheritance.
Now Boaz was free to marry Ruth, and he was a mighty man of wealth. The blessings really piled up for Ruth, but I will let you read them yourself in the Book of Ruth in the Bible.
Do you see what happens when you let God make your choices? Not all the blessings come today. The best are reserved for eternity, and eternity is forever. If you are already saved, do let Him plan for you!
“As for God, His way is perfect; the word of the Lord is tried [tested]: He is a buckler [shield] to all them that trust in Him” (2 Samuel 22:31).

The Story of a Big Man

He would probably have bumped his head on the top of your front door, for he was nine feet tall, and he was not thin. And he had a big, booming voice to match. The Bible says he was one of the family of giants.
This big man lived long before guns and bombs, so when he came out and shouted his threats against the people he hated, the children of Israel, it was enough to make the bravest person tremble. Nobody wanted to fight with him. COME AND FIGHT! he shouted. But nobody came.
And then one day somebody did come to fight him. Who could be bold enough or strong enough to accept a challenge like that? The young lad who came was not really strong at all, but he knew someone that the giant did not know. He knew God.
I wonder if you know Him - God, who has all power. The big giant didn’t care about who God was, and nothing happened to him. Nothing, until  .  .  .
The lad who came into the valley to meet the giant had already trusted God, and God had given him strength to kill a lion and a bear, just with his hands, in order to save his sheep. The lad’s name was David.
But the giant seemed to need a lot of equipment to fight with. He had a helmet of brass, a heavy coat of metal, brass protectors for his legs, more protection for his shoulders, and a huge spear so heavy that an ordinary man could not lift it. He also had someone in front of him carrying his shield. He seemed to have some gods too, but he was counting on his size and all his expensive equipment to protect him from anyone who would dare to fight him.
Young David had a shepherd’s bag where he had put five carefully selected stones, and he carried a sling. That was all. No, not really. Remember, he was trusting God.
The giant shouted in his big, booming voice that he was going to feed this youngster to the vultures. But listen to David’s answer: “Thou comest to me with a sword, and with a spear, and with a shield: but I come to thee in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom thou hast defied  .  .  .  that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel  .  .  .  for the battle is the Lord’s.” Then the giant came closer, and David ran to meet him. And one stone, aimed on the run, sank into the giant’s forehead, and he fell on his face to the earth, and all that heavy armor added to the mighty thunder of his fall.
Who won? It was God who won. And it is always God who wins. His Son, the Lord Jesus, has already won the victory over sin and Satan when He died and rose again. And one day soon His enemies will bow their knees before Him and confess that He is Lord of all.
Whose side are you on? When the giant fell, many in his army may have wished that they could change sides when the men came rushing down from David’s side, but they turned and fled without a fight. However, there is no fleeing when Jesus returns as the Victor.
You may make that decision right now. Run to Him, not away from Him. He has promised, “Him that cometh to Me I will in no wise cast out” (John 6:37). There is no way He will refuse you if you come now, for He loves you and died for you. “Whoso putteth his trust in the Lord shall be safe” (Proverbs 29:25).
Whose side are you on?

Enough Is Enough

It is wonderful to be satisfied. But some of our readers are always hungry, some are always sick, and most of us are always wanting what we do not have. But here is the story of a mother who had enough, even when those around her became thinner and hungrier every day.
The country where this mother lived had had no rain for three years. The crops dried up in the fields and vegetable gardens, cows gave no milk for children and there was no meat for dinner. Nobody had enough food, and there were not many smiles.
This poor, thin mother had one little boy and one big barrel that had only a tiny handful of flour left in the bottom. She also had one bottle with a tiny bit of oil left in it. Sadly, all she could do was to go find two sticks to build a little fire and cook a little pancake for the two of them. After that, their food would be gone and they would starve to death. There was no other hope.
What a sad situation it was for this mother and her little son. They did not have enough. Maybe you have a lot more than she had, but you are going to lose it ALL when you die. What will you have then? Enough? If you have Je-sus as your Savior, you have enough. Nothing, not even death, can take you away from the Savior who loves you.
God knew all about this poor mother. As she was finding sticks to build the fire, she heard Elijah at the city gate calling to her. Now Elijah was God’s messenger to His people Israel. He asked her for a little drink of water. She turned to get it for the traveler, but then he also asked her for a little piece of bread.
Her answer is surprising because she lived in a country where God was not known, but she said, “As the Lord thy God liveth, I have not a cake.” Her answer was true. And then she truthfully told him about that little bit of flour and oil and her plan for her and her son to eat it and die.
It is wonderful to tell God the truth. Perhaps it would take longer for you to list everything that you have, but you could end up the same way - use it all and then die.
“Make me  .  .  . a little cake first,” said Elijah, “and bring it unto me, and after make for thee and for thy son.”
If you were that mother, would you gasp at such an impossibility? There wasn’t enough flour and oil to make a little cake for him to eat and then another one for her and her son to eat. Would you turn away and not listen anymore?
But Elijah’s message came from God. God’s message to you may be just what you don’t want to hear - that you are a hopeless sinner and can do nothing to earn heaven for yourself. Keep on listening! God’s Word is true, from cover to cover!
“Fear not,” said Elijah. And this was God’s promise: “The barrel of meal shall not [be used up], neither shall the cruse of oil fail, until the day that the Lord [sends] rain upon the earth.” Do you understand that promise? There would always be some flour in the barrel and some oil in the bottle as long as she needed it. God didn’t promise a full barrel or a full bottle. Just enough. Enough for each day as it came. If she did not use it all each day, it did not pile up.
You don’t need to ask if God’s promise came true. His promises always come true. “The barrel of meal [was not used up], neither did the cruse of oil fail, according to the word of the Lord.”
Each of us who is living right now can say that we have as much of our blessed Lord Jesus as we want, and our lives show how much we want. Our stomachs may have too much or too little, but that is not where our happiness lies. It is the Lord Jesus Himself who is enough for each day and gives us real happiness.
You may wonder why the Bible does not tell us that she shared this food with her neighbors who were starving too. Perhaps they were not willing to believe in the living God and His promises. I cannot share my salvation with others, but I can tell them to come to Jesus for their own salvation. Will you come and believe? He has promised, “Him that [comes] to Me I will in [no way] cast out” (John 6:37). “These are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life [salvation] through His name” (John 20:31).
We will tell you more of this mother and her son in the next story.

More About the Mother and Her Son

Do you remember the last story about the mother who had enough food for herself and her little son and for Elijah as long as the famine lasted? But life was not all happiness after that. This mother had more to learn. God sent trouble into her life, and she was puzzled and sad and sort of angry. Why would God send such sadness to her after all this?
Her only child was sick, so sick that he stopped breathing. She hugged the little lifeless body to herself and called Elijah, God’s messenger, who had a little room in her loft. “O thou man of God,” she said, “art thou come unto me to call my sin to remembrance and to slay my son?”
She was right in saying that God had taken away the child’s life, but she did not know the heart of God. Her conscience was troubled by the past sin in her life, and she did not know the God who can bring back life.
Do you? Have you learned that the precious blood of Jesus has power to clean every trace of your sin from God’s record? Do you know the Savior who was raised from the dead and who lives in heaven right now? It is wonderful relief and joy to know Him.
“Give me thy son,” said Elijah. He took the child from her arms and carried him up to his little room and laid him on his own bed. But Elijah was puzzled too. Why does God send sorrow to His children? Perhaps we don’t know now, but we will know someday. Elijah cried to the Lord and then stretched himself upon the child three times. “O Lord my God,” he said, “let this child’s soul come into him again!” And God restored the child’s soul, and he began breathing again. Then Elijah brought him to his mother. “See,” he said, “thy son [lives]”!
But while that mother waited with empty arms, she had learned something. “Now  .  .  .  I know,” she said, “that thou art a man of God, and that the word of the Lord in thy mouth is truth.” (We must remember that before the Bible was written, God’s Word came through His prophets, like Elijah.)
The food supply had not taught her that the Word of God is the truth, but sorrow had taught her. “Now  .  .  .  I know,” she said. Do you know? Are you sure that those sins of yours are settled before God and that you really believe that the Word of God is truth? If so, your life will have a happy ending in heaven, regardless of what the troubles may be right now. God is faithful. Will you trust Him now?
“We know that all things work together for good to them that love God” (Romans 8:28).
“Thy [God’s] Word is truth” (John 17:17).

I Lost the Ax Head

It was not a very happy surprise. A woodchopper cannot do much if he suddenly finds that he has put all his energy into a mighty swing, and the iron ax head has suddenly flown off into the air all by itself, and he is left holding only the handle. That is not a happy surprise.
Here is how it happened. There was a group of young men, sons of the prophets, living together in the land of Israel. They decided that their living quarters were too small, so they must find a good location and build a new place.
They found the right spot by the Jordan River, and they had a supply of axes for the job. But there was one more thing to think about. Did they want Elisha to go with them? Elisha was a man of God.
When you make a plan like that, do you want a man of God to go with you? It might be hard today to find a man of God available to go with you, not to bless the job when you are done, but to be there for your every move and conversation. But you can take a Bible with you and read it daily. And you can pray about each little problem as it arises and be thankful for all that Jesus has done for you. Is that the way you face your projects? God is willing. Are you?
The men asked Elisha to go with them, and he said, “Yes.” So they set to work. One man had no ax, so he borrowed one and helped with the work as they began to cut down trees for the log building. The axes were swinging and the chips flying. Suddenly one worker held only the wooden handle as his ax head flew off and landed with a splash in the river.
Now this workman had a problem, but he knew exactly where to turn.
Do you? When you face a problem, don’t say bad words. Don’t show impatience or anger. Tell God about it. He is right there, if you want His help, and He has the answer. He cares about your problem because He loves you.
Elisha was right there, and the workman cried out, “Alas, master! for it was borrowed!” This doubled the problem. How could he return a borrowed ax if it was lost?
I wonder if you know that your life does not belong to you. It belongs to the One who gave you a beating heart before you were born. And the problem of your borrowed life is doubled if you are a lost sinner. But we are here to tell you that God has the answer, because He sent His Son to die for you.
Where did it fall? asked Elisha.
The workman showed him the place, but the problem remained. The iron ax head still lay at the bottom of the river, and wishing would not bring it up. Prayer would not bring it up. Iron is heavier than water, and there it lay, out of sight, in the mud, for the Jordan is a muddy river. Elisha could not raise it.
I wonder if you know that God Himself cannot save you without the death of His only begotten Son. Maybe you cry about your sins every day, but God cannot save you without the precious blood of Christ to remove your sins. The lost remains lost.
Then Elisha cut down a stick. Nobody asked him to. He did this himself and threw it into the water. The water had no power over the stick because it was not heavy. It did not sink. And did you know that death had no power over the Lord Jesus when He died on the cross? We die because we have no choice, but Jesus gave up His life. He is “the Son of God, who loved me, and gave Himself for me” (Galatians 2:20).
When that stick hit the water, behold, a miracle - the ax head swam! It was the very same old ax head that was lost, and yet it had a new power. It did not float; it swam! There was God-given power now, which was above the power of gravity to make it sink.
Do you want this power? Only God can give it to you. The same boy or girl who was lost can now be given victory over sin and death by the power of God. And this power must be used if you want to live for Jesus. He is an all-the-way-home Savior. Will you trust Him now?
“Take it up to thee,” said Elisha, and the workman reached out his hand and took up the ax head. And that is where we leave it. We are not told any more about that ax head, perhaps because God wants you to finish the story yourself.
What will you do with the new life God has given you? Will you use it for Himself, with the wonderful new power that God gives? It is wonderful beyond words to know that we belong to Him now and that He will change our bodies into new and glorified bodies where death has no power at all.
“The gospel of Christ.   .   . is the power of God unto salvation to every one that [believes]” (Romans 1:16).

Josiah's Grandfather

Josiah was a little boy prince in the royal family of Judah. His father, Amon, was just a teenager when Josiah was born, but he was a very wicked teenager.
But there was something special about Josiah’s old grandfather. He was a king in Jerusalem for 55 years, and for many of those years he was a very bad king. Among other evil things, he was responsible for innocent people being killed. God sent warnings to him, but he would not listen. You could hardly read of a more wicked man than Josiah’s grandfather. His name was Manas-seh.
And then something happened. When King Manasseh was in his middle years, God suddenly interfered and stopped him. God sent an enemy who captured Manasseh. The enemy king bound him with heavy chains and carried him to the faraway city of Babylon. Now, without his palace and his power, Manasseh had time to think of the messages he had heard about the God of heaven. In his misery, he was ready to confess the sin of his heart and the sins of his life. This great king of Judah learned that he was only a guilty sinner in the eyes of God whom he had despised.
Do you think the great God of holiness would listen to the prayer of such a man? He certainly did. When God’s Son, the Lord Jesus, was here on earth, it was said of Him, “This man receiveth sinners” (Luke 15:2). “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners” (1 Timothy 1:15). God was ready to save that repenting king in his misery, and He is ready to save you right now. Are you sorry about your sins? “He that [covers] his sins shall not prosper: but whoso [confesses] and [forsakes] them shall have mercy” (Proverbs 28:13).
I cannot tell you how, but somehow God in His mercy to Manasseh gave him back his kingly throne in Jerusalem, and now he was a new man. He wanted no more false gods and no more cruelty and murder. Instead, he wanted to build up the city and defend it for the Lord’s sake. The people obeyed him, but their hearts were not changed.
This was the grandfather that little Josiah knew. The boy heard good words from him about the true God, and Josiah listened and remembered. He was only six when the old man died, but even though he had no Bible, the Word of God went deep into his heart and he remembered.
His young father became king when the grandfather died, and King Amon was as wicked as his father had been in his worst days. Little Josiah heard and saw lots of wickedness in the two years his father was king, but nothing erased from his heart the words that God had placed there.
Are you six, or maybe older? Do you listen and remember when the Word of God is spoken to you? You are certainly old enough to listen and remember, and it will change your life.
Our next story will tell you what happened to the little boy Josiah.

Josiah, the King

Josiah was six years old when his grandfather died? His young father was king for only two years, and now, when Josiah was only eight, he sat on the big throne of the kingdom of Judah.
He probably learned and played as boys do until he was sixteen, and all that time the Word of God lay like good seed in Josiah’s heart. But at sixteen he felt his responsibilities as king, and he began to seek the only true God of King David. Josiah’s own father had been a wicked man, but here’s a lesson for you. Don’t let somebody’s bad example lead you to forget God and do evil things. If you know somebody who loves and follows the Lord Jesus, this is the example to follow. This is what Josiah did. He knew about King David, who wrote, “The Lord is my Shepherd,” and this was the Lord whom Josiah wanted to follow too.
Josiah had no Bible, but he learned a lot that was good. He could have learned a lot that was bad, as his father did, but he had a choice to make, and so do you. He knew that the Lord is the only true God, and all other worship is false, so he gave orders to break down all the idols and altars for the worship of false gods. This was his kingly duty, and he did it.
But you can’t take away idol worship and leave people with nothing at all. Josiah wanted the people to worship the true God, so he sent Shaphan and a few others to the temple of God to sweep out the mess and to repair the broken walls. Hilkiah the priest was there to help them.
Suddenly, all the brooms and shovels and hammers were quiet as everyone stopped to listen to the great news. Hilkiah had found a book! Somewhere among the rubbish he found the great Book of the Law of the Lord, written down by Moses. A real Bible! Not the whole Bible, because God had not yet come to earth in the person of His Son Jesus, and Jesus had not yet died on the cross and gone back to heaven. But it was a wonderful discovery, because it was really the Word of God.
Do you know where your Bible is? Is it under a pile of magazines? Or is it in your bookcase and never read? Shaphan carried that wonderful book to King Josiah. I am not sure if the king could read, but he listened when Shaphan read it to him. What Shaphan read made him feel terrible, just awful, because he realized the people of Judah had disobeyed the laws of the Lord, and they were facing judgments. He knew that his kingly robes could not hide him from God, and he tore his own robes in despair.
Then he sent Shaphan to ask the Lord about it. You don’t need to send somebody else to talk to the Lord for you. He assures you, “While they are yet speaking, I will hear” (Isaiah 65:24). Call to God in the name of the Lord Jesus. He has a joyful answer for your despair, because Jesus died for you. Jesus is more willing to save you from your disobedience than you are to be saved.
God gave Josiah the answer. Nothing could change the promised judgment, because God never breaks His Word. The promised judgment was going to come, but God told Josiah that it would not come in his lifetime, because God valued his repentance.
God gives the same answer to you. Yes, the promised judgment will come on this world, but if you will repent and trust in the Lord Jesus as the One who took that judgment for you, then He promises to take you to His home before that judgment falls. Will you trust Him?
Josiah wanted to worship the Lord, but he really didn’t know how. So he searched in the Book of the Law of the Lord and found out exactly how God had told His people to worship Him. They got 30,000 lambs and young goats ready to offer to the Lord, and they killed them and offered the blood to God. They roasted them and feasted together, and the singers made a wonderful choir. It was a joyful time. Josiah was twenty-six years old when this passover feast was kept. Even King Solomon had not kept such a wonderful feast of the Lord.
Did you notice that their worship began with killing lambs for sacrifice to God? If you really want to worship God, you must begin the same way. You don’t need to kill a lamb, but thank and praise the Lord Jesus, the holy Lamb of God, who has already been sacrificed for you. The feasting and the joy and the singing come after we know that His precious blood has been offered for us. “The blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleans-eth us from all sin” (1 John 1:7).
But something else happened that we will tell you about in another story.

The Plot Against the Great King

Maybe you have heard legends of great kings of long ago, but this story is not a legend. It is recorded in the Book of Esther in God’s Word, so we know it is true.
King Ahasuerus was a very important king of the land of Persia. He had friends and enemies, and he had a heart full of pride, just like you and I have. There were two men who served in the royal court who appeared to be his friends, but they were secretly his enemies, and they had an evil plan.
When Jesus was on earth, there were many religious people who worshipped God loudly and proudly, but when God sent His beloved Son into the world, the secrets of their hearts showed up. “Away with Him, crucify Him,” they shouted.
I wonder, Are you a real friend of God or are you an enemy of God? When God says that “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners” (1 Timothy 1:15), do you answer, “Sinners? Not me!” Then you are an enemy of God. But listen! It is possible right now to have your sins freely forgiven and to be His friend forever. Read on.
We are not told the reasons those servants were plotting against the king. Maybe it’s because we all have different reasons for being enemies of God. But their evil plan was to get rid of that king by murdering him. However, a man named Mordecai exposed their plot, and the king’s life was saved. The two traitors were hanged at once.
But when our Jesus was captured one dark night, His life was not saved. Those evil men were no surprise to Him; He knew long ago what was going to happen. There were many thousands of angels waiting for the command to set Him free, but no such command was given. He was crucified.
And now the amazing wonder is that God offers us forgiveness! That same Jesus who died on the cross is the Savior who died for us and rose from the dead. Have you believed that He died for you? There is forgiveness for you, right now!
Sometime later, King Ahasuerus had a bad night. He could not sleep, and he was not a patient man. Bring me the records! he called, and his obedient servants brought him the great scrolls of the kingdom. Now read to me, he demanded, and the reading began.
The records included the story of the plot against the king’s life, its discovery and the hanging of the two traitors. But no mention was made of a reward for the loyal informer who saved the king’s life.
What honor was given to Mordecai for this? the king asked.
Nothing was done for him, answered the servants.
You see, the king’s relief that his life was saved and his anger against the traitors had made him forget to reward Mordecai’s loyalty. In the king’s mind, punishment was most important. He would reward later, if and when he remembered.
But our God is not like that! Never! No one on earth or in heaven will ever make Him forget one act of faithful love to Himself. Our God remembers, and He will reward all believers first for even a cup of cold water given in His name, before He sends one rebellious sinner to the lake of fire. And His rewards are lasting.
It was daybreak when the king thought of rewarding his loyal servant, but he couldn’t think what reward to choose. So he asked his attendant to check who was in the courtyard.
Yes, a highly honored servant named Haman was there, and he was called in to choose the reward. Haman, thinking it was all for himself, piled on all the honors he could think of—fancy clothes, jewelry and a parade through town with everyone cheering. And then Haman found out it was not for himself ! It was all for Mordecai.
Are you expecting to receive the eternal joys of heaven for yourself  ? You’d better make sure that you have followed God’s plan. If you are safe in Christ, if He is your Savior, God has promised that heaven’s eternal joy and happiness are waiting for you. But if not, read Revelation 20:15 and see what a dreadful future is before you.
Mordecai got the fancy clothes and the cheering parade, and perhaps he enjoyed it, but it only lasted a short time. King Ahasuerus is dead now, and his importance and honors died with him. But Jesus my Savior lives! He will present Himself as King of kings and Lord of lords. He will be honored by ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands, and we will share His honors forever in heaven.
If you are really a Christian, will you let the world know that you are a friend of God? Let them see that you know God’s Word is true. God will remember your loyalty, and He will choose your reward Himself.
But if not  .  .  .  what can God do with a sinner who won’t have Christ? Here is His warning: “Whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire” (Revelation 20:15).

The Poor Wise Man

Once there was a little city, but not very many men lived in it. Perhaps there were many mothers there, and girls and boys and babies, but without many strong men for an army, the city was weak and in danger.
A great king came to that city and wanted to take it over, so he laid siege to it. That means he set his soldiers all around the city and would not let anyone come in, not even to bring food or water to the people inside. There were not enough men who could fight against the king and his great army. It seemed that the poor people in the little city would die either of thirst or of starvation.
And that was not bad enough. The king built a great fortress around the city. He set his soldiers to dig earth and stones and build great towers of attack against that little city, so that he would soon capture it and have the victory.
Hopeless, wasn’t it? But there was a poor wise man living in that city. He certainly was not rich and famous. He had enough wisdom that he could have escaped, but that was not what he wanted to do. Instead, he used his wisdom to save that little city. I cannot tell you what he did, because the Bible doesn’t tell us, but I can surely tell you that his wisdom was wonderful! The great king with all his soldiers and his fortress was totally defeated! Perhaps he went back to his own country or perhaps he lay dead, but he was conquered.
Was there a parade and fame and rewards for the poor wise man who saved the city? No. The people did not remember him. Perhaps they could tell their children the story of the wonderful deed, but they did not remember the poor wise man who saved them.
Are you like that too? Perhaps you have heard the story of Calvary’s cross where Jesus was crucified, and perhaps you have seen churches and crosses and religious men in fine robes. But do you remember the Lord Jesus who died on that cross for you?
Jesus was not always poor. He owned everything because He made everything. And His home is the wonderful glory of heaven. But He came down to poverty. And when He died, He had nothing-nothing at all but a crown of thorns - not even a grave to be buried in.
Great statues have been built for Him, but that was not His choice. In our story, no one remembered that poor wise man who saved the city, but God has made a lasting remembrance for him - He has written his story in the Bible for us to read.
And God in His Book has asked us to remember the One who died for us, and He has told us how in 1 Corinthians 11:23-25. God’s wisdom brings salvation to us through the death of His Son. Let’s remember our Lord Jesus. His way is perfect.
“God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through Him might be saved” (John 3:17).

A Special Tree

Once upon a time, there was a man in the forest, searching for a special tree. It must not be too small or too crooked or too soft or too hard. It had to be just right. Finally, he found such a tree. He chopped it down, and he probably had helpers to bring it home with him.
All the side branches must be trimmed off and the narrow top chopped off before it was ready for his secret purpose. The smaller branches were not wasted. He probably had a wife who was busy kneading bread for supper, and when the fire made from the branches was just right, she was able to make good, crunchy, little loaves for the family. And roasted meat too. Then they were glad of the cozy warmth as they gathered around the fire when the sun went down. “Aha,” he said, “I am warm.”
Maybe it was the next day that he and his helpers set to work on his special project. The blacksmith did the metal part, getting a hot fire going, handling the metal with tongs and hammering away at the red-hot bars until they were shaped as he wished. His arms were tired, but he worked without even a drink of water until it was finished.
The carpenter took his ruler and compass, marked and measured and chiselled and planed that specially chosen piece of wood, until it was just right - or as nearly right as he could make it.
What was all this fuss about? What were they trying to make? They were making a beautiful statue of a man. And this lifeless statue would remain in his house in order that it might be his god, and he could worship it.
And yet our God has plainly told us, “Before Me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after Me. I, even I, am the Lord; and beside Me there is no Savior” (Isaiah 43:10-11). Je-sus, who died for us, is our Savior indeed. Jesus is God.
A man who would go to all that trouble to make himself a god is a very foolish man, isn’t he? His god is only a piece of dead wood and lifeless metal. That statue cannot see or hear or talk or love. But before you call him foolish, perhaps you can think of something in your life that is more important to you than the living God who made you. It could be something that you worked very hard to fix up, and it is the most important object of your life. The man in our story cooked his dinner, warmed himself and made a god for himself, all out of the same tree and with the same effort. Is the god you worship the work of your own efforts? If so, it is just as lifeless and powerless as the man’s statue.
No one could ever think up a god like the living God who made us and who loves us and who sent His Son Jesus to die for us. No one could ever plan to spend eternity with such a holy God who is also light, who shows up all we have done. But He loves us so much that by the blood of His only Son, He is willing to make us fit to enjoy His home in heaven forever.
Don’t rest a minute until you can say, “This God is [my] God forever and ever: He will be [my] guide even unto death” (Psalm 48:14).

More About Shaphan

Do you remember our earlier story about Shaphan? He was the scribe who was in the temple when Hilkiah the priest discovered that forgotten Bible as they were cleaning out the rubbish. And Shaphan was the one who brought it to King Josiah and read the wonderful words to him.
King Josiah and Shaphan were both young men, and each of them had a son. Jehoiakim, the son of King Josiah, sat on the throne of the kingdom, but he did not care for God at all, and things went from bad to worse. God sent a prophet to them named Jeremiah who spent a good deal of time in prison because the king did not want to hear him.
But God still loved His people. A young man named Baruch copied out Jeremiah’s words in a book and read them aloud to all who would listen. And one of the listeners was the grandson of Shaphan.
Are you listening to the Word of God? That boy was, but the king was not.
That young boy then went to his father who was sitting with all the king’s advisors. He repeated to them everything Baruch had read. They told the boy to go get Baruch and bring him to them. Baruch was then told to “sit down now, and read it in our ears.” I think Shaphan had taught his family that the Word of God is true, for they all reacted with fear, and they said to Baruch, “We will surely tell the king of all these words.”
So now the message comes to King Jehoiakim, the son of good King Josiah. What will he do when he hears it?
It was a chilly day, and the king quite comfortably sat beside a cozy fireplace and listened to the Word of God. But he and all his princes did not like hearing God’s warning of coming judgment. In fact, when the messenger had read three or four pages, King Jehoiakim took the book away from the messenger and cut it with a penknife.
The son of Shaphan and the other advisors were extremely upset and told the king not to burn the book! But the king hated to hear the words of judgment, and in anger he threw one page after another into the fire, until the whole thing was burned to ashes. He was so angry that he ordered his servants to catch Baruch and Jeremiah, but the Lord hid them.
Because the book was burned, was that the end of the words of God? Oh, no! Jeremiah repeated the words again, and Baruch wrote them down again. Nothing, no nothing, ever cancels the Word of God! It is settled in heaven where we must face it someday. How joyfully you and I will face it if we accept Jesus as our Savior now! The judgment is all true, but if you accept Jesus as your Substitute, you can happily claim that He bore the judgment in your place!
King Jehoiakim rejected his last opportunity to obey God. He was captured by the enemy, as God had said, and his dead body was just left out in the weather, without being buried. He was a lost soul forever.
Right now, you may hear the Word of God if you will listen. Here is part of it for you to read and obey: “If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved” (Romans 10:9).

The Story of Four Boys

They were four boys, probably teenagers, who had been taken as prisoners of war to be educated by Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon. Most likely their parents had been killed and their homes burned by the king’s victorious army.
They had good health, good looks and sharp minds, ready for education in the greatest country in the world at that time. The king ordered where they would stay, what they would eat and their education. In three years they would have their final exam before the king. We don’t know how many young men were in this class, but since the king was the conqueror of many nations, there were probably hundreds of handpicked young men in this competition. A man named Melzar was in charge of these four young men as principal.
These four had something special which set them apart from all the other young men in their class. They had the fear of the Lord, and we know that “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” (Proverbs 9:10). Daniel was their leader, but each of them trusted with all his heart in the God of heaven and was ready to stand with Daniel or, if necessary, to stand alone.
Do you know the fear of the Lord? Does it matter to you what God says about what you are doing or plan to do? If not, then even if you are the smartest person in your class, you do not have the beginning of wisdom. Is it possible that you will find you are a fool after all, no matter how smart you are? God will count you a fool if you ignore what He says in the Bible.
I’m sure the royal food was very tasty and attractive, and it was a great honor to be offered the king’s wine. But Daniel and his friends were not interested in the king’s “good life” or the gods that he worshipped. Daniel asked permission to eat a simple diet of grains and vegetables with water to drink. Others might enjoy the king’s food, but God had told the children of Israel what they could and could not eat, and Daniel’s first wish was to please God.
You have choices to make too, not only in food, but in what you do, where you go, what you see and what you listen to. You make these choices every day, and your choices will end up marking you as wise or foolish before God.
Daniel’s three friends made the same choice. The people in charge liked Daniel very much, and so Melzar agreed to a ten-day test of the four young men eating only the simple diet while the rest of the students ate the king’s food.
After the ten-day test, their faces were happy and healthy, even healthier than the students who ate the king’s food. So Melzar continued to give them their simple diet for the rest of the three years.
Then came the big examination day when all the young men were brought before the king for questioning. The king quickly discovered that these four young men were full of wisdom and understanding. In fact, he found them ten times wiser than all the magicians and astrologers in his kingdom.
Where did all this wisdom come from? Certainly not from teachers or books, or the other students would have been just as wise. The wisdom of Daniel and his friends came from God who knows all things. And it is the same today. Neither the wisest men nor the most knowledgeable books can tell you how to have one of your sins wiped out from God’s record. But God’s book, the Bible, tells you. And if you ask a child who really knows the Lord Jesus as the Savior of sinners, that child will be able to tell you too.
We have more to tell you about Daniel and his friends, so be sure to read the next story. You may also read the Book of Daniel in the Bible and see if you can find out the names of Daniel’s three friends.

The King's Dream

The last story was about Daniel and his three friends who won the great king’s competition, because God had given them wisdom? That great king, whose name was Nebuchadnezzar, was very good at forgetting, as this story will show.
The king had a bad night with a very troublesome dream. In the morning, he sent for all the wise men in his kingdom to solve his problem. The king’s problem really had two parts. First, the king could not remember his dream, so the wise men were to tell him what the dream was about. Then second, they were to tell him what the dream meant.
The wisest men in the kingdom found themselves trying to do the impossible. Not only that, the king told them they would all be put to death if they couldn’t tell him the dream and what it meant.
What terror those wise men must have suffered. Not one of them knew the God who knows all things and says, “I know the things that come into your mind, every one of them” (Ezekiel 11:5). For those of us who know Him, it is a relief and a joy to remember that God knows and understands our thoughts. But for those who do not know Him, it will be terror when they stand before Him without an answer.
The wise men tried to gain time, but the king’s unreasonable anger made him order his soldiers to kill all the wise men of Babylon. It seems that Daniel and his friends, who had not been told before of the king’s problem, were included in the list.
Perhaps you can guess what Daniel did. He did not quickly say, “Leave it to me; I’ll tell him.” Instead, he went confidently into the presence of the enraged king and asked for time and told the king that his God would tell him the dream and its meaning. Then Daniel went to his three friends, and they prayed about it together, asking God to show Dan-iel the dream and its meaning so they would not be killed.
Can’t you just see those four young men in all that terrified city, confidently asking their God to do what no one on earth could do? That same God can do more for you than Daniel ever knew about, because Daniel lived before the Lord Jesus died on the cross. Daniel never heard, as you have, that “Christ died for our sins  .  .  .  and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures” (1 Corinthians 15:3-4). But Dan-iel believed what God had already written, and this was the power in his life.
God gave Daniel a night vision which opened the whole secret of the dream and its meaning to him. Daniel’s answer to God was, “I thank Thee, and praise Thee, O Thou God of my fathers, who hast given me wisdom and might” (Daniel 2:23). I wonder if you know, as Daniel did, that power that belongs to God.
Then the king’s servant, Arioch, hurried Daniel with his answer into the king’s presence. The king asked Daniel, “Art thou able?” Daniel’s answer was, “There is a God in heaven that [reveals] secrets.” He didn’t use the words “I” and “me” in his answer. He gave God all the credit.
The king had dreamed of a great statue with a head of bright gold, chest and arms of silver, belly and thighs of brass, legs of iron, and feet partly of iron and partly of clay. Then he saw in his dream a stone which came and struck the statue so that it crumbled to dust and was blown away like bits of straw. Then the stone became a great mountain and filled the whole earth.
Perhaps you can guess why this dream troubled the king so much. When he saw that great statue turn to dust and disappear, he felt somehow that his own kingdom would be destroyed too, and he was right. It is a terrifying thought, if you have no Savior, to think that someday everything around you will be burned up by the power of God. If you are trusting in only yourself and your own things, when that time comes you will have nothing left and no protection, for “the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up” (2 Peter 3:10). What will you have left when God does this? If you have accepted the Lord Jesus Christ as your Savior, then you will have riches and rest in Jesus, that the greatest of men perhaps knows nothing about.
Daniel explained the dream -that the king was like the head of gold. Another kingdom after him would be like silver, which is not so valuable. Then a third one would be like brass, and a fourth one would be strong and bruising like iron. It finally would be like the feet and toes of iron and clay, which is not strong because they will not stick together. This statue was telling future events of the world as only God could show them.
Finally, Daniel explained that the stone would not only knock down the kingdoms, but it would destroy all world power and then fill the whole earth itself. This has not happened yet, but the Bible tells us it will. Daniel probably did not understand as well as we do that that great stone is a reminder of the Lord Jesus Christ, whose kingdom shall stand forever.
There is only one Refuge in these days of terror yet to come, but this Refuge takes away all doubt and fear, and gives all the protection and joy and peace and security that no one can have without Christ. Jesus, the Savior of sinners, is ready now to welcome you to Himself. Will you accept Him as your Savior?
“The preaching of the cross is to them that perish, foolishness; but unto us which are saved, it is the power of God” (1 Corinthians 1:18).

A Statue, an Orchestra and a Furnace

The great King Nebuchadnezzar had already had two lessons in the greatness and power of the God of heaven, but he still had not learned how powerful the true God was. You and I have certainly had some lessons of His great power too, but let us try to be better learners than the great king who decided to show off his own power.
The king only seemed to like great things. All his ideas were big, so the statue he decided to build was about as tall as an eight-story building. Then, he had it completely covered with glistening gold. At its base he had an orchestra of musicians with musical instruments, and around this he gathered all the important men in his great empire for the statue’s dedication. Their orders were to bow down in worship before this awesome statue as soon as the orchestra began to play. This was the first day of the dedication, so it was a tremendous national celebration. Everybody was there.
This crowd included Daniel’s three friends, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, who were some of the important men in the government. Like Daniel, their hearts were true to the true God who said, “Thou shalt have no other gods before Me.  .  .  .  Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them” (Exodus 20:3,5). They were not going to disobey their God.
When the orchestra began to play around the huge, golden statue, everyone else bowed down, but those three young men remained standing. Their names were noted by the officers.
This is a long-ago story, but although the music and the worldly gods are different today, the crowd and what they want you to do are the same. Who obeys God and His Word today? Do you? Or do you follow the crowd?
The three men were at once accused of disobeying the king’s order and brought before the king. He was furious! The three young men stood before the king unafraid, because they trusted their God’s greater power. They answered, “O Nebuchadnez-zar.  .  . our God whom we serve is able to deliver us  .  .  .  but if not  .  .  .  we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.” They already knew that the penalty was to be cast alive into a burning, fiery furnace, but even that did not turn them away from obeying God, because they knew Him. The better we know Him, the more we trust Him.
Their answer so infuriated the king that he ordered the furnace to be overheated seven times, and he commanded the strongest men in his army to tie up the three men with ropes and throw them into the furnace. The furnace was so raging hot that the strong men themselves died from the blast of heat as they threw them in. The three young men fell down inside the blazing furnace.
I suppose the king wanted the satisfaction of seeing them burn up, and as he sat watching them in the furnace, he saw God’s wonderful surprise. He stood up and called to his officers in amazement! “Did not we cast three men bound into the midst of the fire?  .  .  .  I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire  .  .  .  and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God.”
The king then came to the blazing furnace himself and gave his personal command to the three young men to come out to him, and they obeyed. The great crowd of officers who looked them over could find nothing burned except their binding ropes that had burned off. Their hair and clothes had not burned, and there wasn’t even the smell of fire on them!
Did you know that our God can do this for you too? He can save you from the fiery penalty of your sins. He knows that you are a sinner, but since the Lord Jesus has already paid the penalty for sin, God is able to forgive your sins forever, if you will come to Him for forgiveness. Why stay away any longer from the God of such love and such power? The mightiest of men had no power at all against the king’s fire. But God did! And no strength of man can save you from the fiery judgment of God for your sins. But since Jesus died for sinners, He has promised that anyone who hears His Word and believes “shall not come into condemnation [ judgment]; but is passed from death unto life” (John 5:24). What a wonderful promise, and it won’t cost you anything!
The king finally gave honor to the true God who delivered the three men, and his new orders were that no one should speak a word against Him. However, the king still did not claim that God as his own or trust Him for himself.
Do you? It is not enough to say “Yes” when you think of His power, if you have never come to Him to have your sins forgiven. Is He the God who gave His Son to die for you? You might go to an eternity in hell saying, “He saved others,” if He has not really saved you.
“How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation?” (Hebrews 2:3).

The King's Second Dream

Our last story was about Nebuchadnezzar, the great king of Babylon, who gave honor to the God of Daniel and his three friends, but who did not claim that God as his own. He was an intelligent and important king, but a very slow learner when God spoke. The events of this story hit him so hard that he told the story himself. In fact, he learned something that you can learn right now, even though the great men of the world today may not know it yet. He said afterward, “How great are [God’s] signs! and how mighty are His wonders! His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and His dominion is from generation to generation.”
The king told about a dream he had that frightened him so badly that he sent for all the wise men of Babylon to explain it to him. But none of them could. Finally, Daniel came, but why was Daniel last? Surely the king had enough proof that the God of Daniel had all the answers, but he tried all the other wise men first. Even when Daniel finally came, the king greeted him with the words, “I know that the spirit of the holy gods is in thee.” How could a man be so intelligent and yet so foolish?
May we ask the same question about you? Do you know the real and true God who gave His only Son to die for sinners? It is the most important knowledge in the whole world. Is He your Savior? or are you, like the king, trying everything else first?
The king told Daniel that he had dreamed about a great tree. It was very tall, and there was so much fruit on it that it fed all the people and all the animals. So far, the dream was good, but what he saw next seemed to come a little too close to his own life, and it frightened him.
A holy one came down from heaven with a command to cut down the tree, scatter its branches, leaves and fruit, and leave only the stump in the earth. Destroying that great tree seemed to have a special message for the king. The stump was to be left alone in the field all through dry days and wet nights for seven years. Since this was the decree of heaven, no one could change it. The lesson was carefully explained so that the living might know that the true God rules in the kingdom of men and that He chooses its rulers, even though they may be very wicked men.
God showed Daniel the unhappy meaning of the dream, and Daniel felt such concern for the troubled king that he didn’t say anything for a whole hour, as if he just couldn’t bear to tell the king the bad news. By that time it was the king’s turn to feel concern for Daniel, and he said, “Let not the dream [or its meaning] trouble thee.” And this was the news that Daniel then told the king.
The huge tree was a picture of the great king himself. But the king was going to be sent away into the wilderness to live alone with the wild animals for seven years. He would eat grass and there would be no shelter from the weather. But the stump of the tree that was left in the ground was a promise that the king would be restored to his kingdom when he had finally learned that the true God is in control of everything.
It was going to take seven years of living like a wild animal for the king to learn that lesson. If you have not learned yet that God controls your life and future, I hope you learn it faster.
Then Daniel added a word of advice, which was dangerous to say to such a powerful king. Daniel advised him to stop his sinful ways and be good and kind to the people, and maybe God would let him rule as a peaceful king. It seems that the king thought seriously about this for a whole year, but thinking about it is not enough.
What about your sins? You are much more responsible to God than the ancient king of Babylon ever was, because you know so much more. You know that God sent the Lord Jesus to show His love and kindness, and then to be nailed to the cross by the people who did not want Him. Do you want Him? Don’t just think about it, but answer Him now. He came to save sinners, not just to make them great people on earth, but to share His home in heaven with them forever.
There came a last day in the palace for the great king. It was a day of pride and boasting as he walked in his palace balcony overlooking the great city. He told himself that he had built the city “by the might of my power, and for the honor of my majesty.” Those were boastful words for a sinner, after all his warnings! His last day of ruling as king had come, and a voice from heaven repeated the lesson he had not learned. Just as God had warned him in the dream, he was sent into the wilderness to live like a wild animal for seven years.
Have you learned the simple lesson that you are not the master of your own life? It is God who rules. He may seem to be silent now while this world of sin continues in its pride and injustice. However, the last day will come, and then God will punish all sin, and every tongue shall confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.
King Nebuchadnezzar finally learned who was in control. At the end of seven years, God gave him back his kingdom with even more majesty. The king himself wrote the humbling story, and without mentioning Daniel, he gave honor and praise to the God of heaven. You can read King Nebuchadnezzar’s story in the Bible.
The silence of God today does not mean that He does not care. He is waiting for you to learn that power belongs to Him, and that same power is “the power of God unto salvation to every one that [believes]” (Romans 1:16). Have you learned that lesson and come to Him for the forgiveness of your sins?

The Handwriting on the Wall

Great King Nebuchadnezzar had a son. His name was Belshazzar, and he became king of Babylon. He knew all about his father’s hard lessons from the God of heaven, but hearing the story did not change the young king’s heart. He could have learned from his father’s mistakes, but he did not learn until it was too late.
You have heard that you are a sinner and that God hates sin. Are you willing to learn from God before it is too late?
Belshazzar made a great feast for a thousand of his important men, and they were having a good time at the party. In their excitement they sent for the golden vessels that were taken out of the temple at Jeru-salem and used them for wine glasses. These were holy vessels used to worship the Lord, but they used them for a joke. As they drank from them, they praised whatever gods they chose - idols of gold, silver, brass, wood and stone.
It was nighttime, and the palace hall was lighted with candles set in holders on the wall. This is how the Bible tells what happened: “In the same hour came forth fingers of a man’s hand, and wrote over against the candlestick upon the plaster of the wall of the king’s palace: and the king saw the part of the hand that wrote.”
Belshazzar suddenly quit laughing and his knees knocked together with fear. “Bring the astrologers!” he cried.
At last he was ready to listen, but not to the Word of God. He hoped his fortune-tellers could explain the words written on the palace wall, so he cried out for help - but from the wrong source.
If there are times when you are afraid because of your sins, don’t go to the wrong source. Cry out to the Lord Jesus Christ, the Savior of sinners. He knows if your cry is because you are very sorry about your sins, and He is able to save you, because “Christ Je-sus came into the world to save sinners” (1 Timothy 1:15).
The astrologers came, but not one of them could read the words or explain what they meant. However, the queen remembered something. She remembered that when King Nebuchadnezzar had troubled dreams, Daniel, who had wisdom from God, had explained the meanings.
The queen was not there at the party, but she came when she heard what had happened. She told the king, “Let not thy thoughts trouble thee.  .  .  .  There is a man in thy kingdom, in whom is the spirit of the holy gods.  .  .  .  Now let Daniel be called, and he will show the [meaning].”
The great question today is, “What must I do to be saved?” Some of us know the answer to that question, and that is why we are telling you this story right now.
The king then sent for Daniel, as the queen suggested. The king promised him a rich reward if he would explain the writing on the palace wall. But how can you reward someone who is already rich? Daniel had God-given riches; he didn’t want earthly riches. Daniel answered the king, “Let thy gifts be to thyself, and give thy rewards to another.” Then, with wisdom from God, he explained the strange words on the wall.
First he reviewed the story of how humbling it was for Belshazzar’s father, King Nebuchadnezzar, until he finally learned that “the most high God ruled in the kingdom of men.” But this young king had defied and mocked the God of heaven and worshipped idols!
Then Daniel explained the meaning of the strange words on the wall—“MENE, MENE, TE-KEL, UPHARSIN”:
“MENE; God has numbered thy kingdom and finished it.
TEKEL; thou art weighed in the balances, and art found wanting.
PERES; thy kingdom is divided, and given to the Medes and Persians.”
Each of these words was a signal of death. But even then, the king did not believe it, for he then proclaimed Daniel to be the third ruler in the kingdom.
What kingdom? Daniel had just explained the meaning of the words, that not only was Belshazzar’s life finished, but so was his kingdom!
And during that very night, Belshazzar was killed by the enemy nation who was already waiting outside the city gates. And they took over the kingdom, just as God had said.
Do you think God does not care what you do or what you say? He is very much in control in the big world and in your own life. He allows sinners to go just so far. He is giving you the opportunity right now to repent of your sins and be safe in His everlasting arms, because His Son, Christ Jesus, came into the world to save sinners. Will you listen and learn and trust Him right now?
“What shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God?” (1 Peter 4:17). “Whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire” (Revelation 20:15).

Daniel's Jealous Enemies

The princes and presidents of the great city of Babylon long ago were working on a scheme. The scheme was this: How can we get Daniel into trouble?
There were a hundred and twenty of those men, and every one of them was jealous because the king had chosen Daniel as chief president, right over their heads. But there was something special about Daniel which made them hate him more than anything else. Daniel lived in obedience to the God of heaven. This was the real reason for their hatred and the target of their scheme. This is what they said: “We shall not find any occasion against this Daniel, except we find it against him concerning the law of his God.”
And so they put their heads together and came up with this scheme. They knew the king would like this idea because it would make him like a god. They suggested the king make a law that, for thirty days, no one must ask a petition of any god or man except of the king. This, they told him, was agreed upon by all the presidents, governors, princes, counselors and captains. This sounds like a powerful list of important people, but really it was not true. We know the chief president, Daniel, did not agree.
This great law could not become valid until the king signed it, but there was no problem there. They wrote it up, and the king signed it right away. It seems that he did not give it any serious thought. Not very many business people today would be so careless. But beware! Satan has his wicked schemes today too, and his greatest purpose is to keep you from turning to God for the salvation of your soul. Are you going to let him win?
Daniel knew what had happened, but he didn’t fight it. He would trust God and prove the truth of Psalm 18:2: “The Lord is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust.” He simply kneeled as he had done before, three times a day with his windows open toward Jerusalem, and prayed and gave thanks to God. There was no secret about it. His enemies found him praying as usual. Their plan worked. Daniel had broken the new law and now he was in trouble. The punishment for breaking that law was to be thrown into the den of lions. They would soon be rid of him for good.
It did not take them long to report this matter to the king. Great as he was, the king could not back down on his own law. He liked Daniel very much, and he was very upset with himself for signing such a law.
It was too late for the king to change the law. But listen! It is not too late for you to turn to the Lord Jesus and change your “No” to “Yes.” God is still ready and willing to save you. It is wrong and foolish to refuse Him, but although He can never change His promises or break His laws, He can let you change your mind - now!
But what could the poor king do about Daniel, his chief president? This was a problem too great for him to handle. The law said the punishment must be the den of lions, and he could not change it because he had signed it. He struggled to find a solution all day, but there was no answer. The afternoon went by, the day was almost over, and the king’s problem was unsolved. He kept thinking, How can I save Daniel? How can I save Daniel? It was impossible.
Can you think of a way? Well, there might have been one. The king himself could have taken Daniel’s punishment. But it is not surprising that he never thought of that. And yet God -the God who created all things -had a great desire in His loving heart to save sinners from the punishment for their sins. God could not change His holy nature in order to save sinners like you and me, as if sin did not really matter very much. Sin must be punished, and there was no way to save sinners from that punishment- no way but one, and only God could think of such a plan and carry it through.
God sent His only Son to die for sinners. And the Lord Jesus came willingly to the world of wicked men and bore the punishment for anyone who will accept Him as Savior. You may claim Him as your very own Savior and say, “He took my punishment and died in my place.”
But the king never thought of such a thing. He struggled all day till the sun went down, and he couldn’t think of a way to save Daniel. No wonder. It is only God who could think of the only possible way to save sinners like us.
The jealous men came to remind the king that he must keep his promise, and so that’s what he had to do. Just before they put Daniel in the den, the king told him his God would save him. The king had no solution, but he hoped Daniel’s God did. At the king’s command, Daniel was thrown into the den of lions. Then a stone was brought and laid over the top of the opening of the den, and the king sealed it with his own seal and the seal of his lords. That made it official and could not be changed.
There Daniel was, down in the den with hungry lions. What do you think happened next?
Read the next story and see!

More About Daniel

Do you remember how the last story ended? We left Daniel thrown into the den of hungry lions, with a stone laid across the opening and sealed. Daniel’s jealous enemies thought that was the end of him.
The king went back to his palace. I’m sure he had a beautiful palace with more beautiful things than any of us have ever seen. He had soldiers to guard him and servants to supply whatever snacks or music might comfort him, but he did not want any of these things that night. He did not sleep a wink because he was so upset about Daniel, who was such a good and honest president, and about the plot that ended up with Daniel thrown into the den of lions.
Now which would you rather be - Daniel in the dark pit with a bunch of hungry lions, or the king in his great palace with every service at his command? If you really have come to know God through the Lord Jesus, you know that nothing is as good as having Him with you wherever you are, and nothing is as nice to think about as knowing that whatever happens, you will be with Him forever. Daniel, who had God with him in that den of lions, had more reason to be happy that night than the king, who spent a miserable night. And right now there are many miserable people who lie on soft, fancy pillows - people who haven’t accepted the Lord Jesus as their Savior and face the punishment for their own sins.
At the first streak of dawn, the king was up and hurried to the den of lions. As soon as he came near, he called with a fearful voice, “O Daniel, servant of the living God, is thy God, whom thou servest continually, able to deliver thee from the lions?”
What a question! Is God able? Of course He is able. He was able to prevent Daniel from being thrown in there in the first place, but sometimes He chooses to allow trouble to come to us. He often delivers us in remarkable ways, but even if death comes, our God has power over death. Yes, our God is able!
The king did not have to wait long for Daniel’s answer. He replied at once, not with anger at his enemies or the king, but with the joy of victory in how God had protected him. He said, “My God hath sent His angel, and hath shut the lions’ mouths, that they have not hurt me.”
Then the king was very glad, and at his command Daniel was taken up out of the den. They looked him over to see if the lions had hurt him, but there wasn’t a single mark on him, “because he believed in his God.”
That was Daniel’s safety, and it can be yours too - he believed in his God. You also can claim that great and all-powerful God as your own, if you come to Him through the Lord Jesus Christ who loves you and died for you. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man [comes] unto the Father, but by Me” (John 14:6).
And now, what about the men who had made the plot against Daniel? They probably had a good sleep that night, but it was their last. You cannot sin against God and get away with it, even though things may be okay for a while. At the king’s command they were cast into the den of lions. God did not shut the lions’ mouths this time. Those men died without a Savior.
Oh, don’t die without a Savior, because after death comes the judgment. “It is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment: so Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many” (Hebrews 9:27-28). Is Christ your Savior? or will you have to bear the judgment for your sins?

He Walked on the Water

If you live where some of us do, you have probably walked on water many times. In the cold north, teams of horses and even trucks drive right across the rivers in January. Of course, it is frozen water, rock-hard, but it is still real water, and only God could make it like that. It was God who designed and made that wonderful material called “ice.” One reason was so that Northerners could have an extra advantage in getting around in the hard months of winter. God is very wise, isn’t He? But this story isn’t about walking on ice; it’s about walking on water.
That very same God who designed water and ice came down to earth as a man in the person of His Son, Jesus, and He lived here with ordinary people. Those who believed and followed Him were called “disciples.”
One day, Jesus had His disciples get into a boat on the shore of the sea of Tiberias while He sent the people who were at the seaside home after supper. Je-sus must have been tired, but He went up into a mountain to pray and was there alone as it grew dark.
By this time the boat was out in the middle of the sea, and a bad storm had suddenly come up. The disciples were rowing into the strong wind, and the little boat was tossed about in the crashing waves. They struggled hard with their oars, but the wind was too strong to row against. They felt all alone and afraid in that dark, stormy night with the high waves and strong winds against them.
Perhaps you understand those scary feelings too. Maybe you have struggled hard and gotten nowhere and have felt discouraged and alone and in the dark. Most of us can remember a time like that.
Of course, Je-sus could see the disciples out there in the storm, because distance and darkness don’t block His vision. He saw them struggling, and He waited.
Now don’t be discouraged if God leaves you waiting. If you trust Him when you can’t see any hope, you will find that He is worth trusting. He will never let you down, for if you belong to Him, He is still with you while you wait. He promises, “I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee” (Hebrews 13:5). And the disciples were about to learn this.
It was about 3:00 in the morning when Jesus went out to them, walking on the water. Since He created the water, it was no problem for Him to walk on it. The howling wind and crashing waves were all under His control too.
The disciples in the boat saw Him, but they thought it was a ghost or a spirit, and they were afraid. These men did not know who was walking out to them. But when you and I know Jesus as our very own Savior and Lord, all fear is gone. The Savior who walked on the water that day is not a ghost or a spirit, but a real, living Savior who had come to them because He loved them. Peter was almost sure of this, so he called out, “Lord, if it be Thou, bid me come unto Thee on the water.” Then above the howl of the wind and crash of the waves, he heard and recognized the voice he knew so well, and the answer he heard was just one word, “Come”!
Of course, it is impossible for you and me to walk on water, but with God all things are possible, and Jesus is God. Peter believed Jesus and answered by stepping right over the side of the boat and walking on the water to go to Jesus. I cannot tell you how far it was; however, I know that the wind was still howling and the waves were still crashing. And as Peter walked on the water, he took one look around at the raging storm, and then he began to sink!
Although Peter looked away from Jesus to the storm, the eyes of Jesus never looked away from Peter. And Jesus’ eyes full of love are watching you right now. Do you belong to Jesus? Have you come to Him when He has called you to “Come”? Then He will never, never let you sink!
Immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and caught Peter. It did not matter about distance. The Lord’s hand is never too far away to save you, even though He is in heaven now. I’m sure Peter never forgot that loving clasp that would never, never let him go, and Jesus and Peter walked together through the storm back to the boat. And then the storm stopped at once.
Was Peter safer in the boat on a quiet sea than he was on the waves on a stormy night? No, of course not. In Jesus’ hand we are sure of safety anywhere, until we are home with Him in heaven. God does not tell us we will never have any troubles, but He tells us we will never have to bear them alone. And He tells us that the end of the road is heaven where He is and where storms are over forever.
Do you know this same Jesus as your Lord and Savior? There is no other Savior but Jesus, and there is no other way but His way. Listen to Him and come to Him now.
“Behold, the Lord’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither His ear heavy, that it cannot hear” (Isaiah 59:1).

The King Rides a Donkey

This is a wonderful story, for no king in the whole history of the world would be able to ride an untrained donkey. But this King, who was born in a stable, was the Creator of all things. The fish and the birds and the animals obeyed His commands. Perhaps in this they were wiser than you are. Do you obey His commands?
Jesus sent two of His disciples to go into the city where they would find a mother donkey and a colt tied up where two roads met. They were told to untie them and bring them to Jesus, and if the owner questioned them about it, they would say, “The Lord hath need of him.”
This happened exactly as Jesus had said, and now He was ready to ride to the temple in Jerusalem. And the wonder is that God had the prophet Zechariah record hundreds of years before that this would happen and on this very day.
Is this God your God? He certainly is mine! And I never want to say His name carelessly as many others do, because I know Him and reverence Him. I wish you knew Him too!
The disciples took off their coats and threw them onto the back of the colt, and Jesus sat on him. Other people spread their coats on the road and cut down branches of palm trees and spread them on the road. Poor donkey? No, he was not a poor donkey! If the branches were in his way, he just stepped a little higher and kept on going. He was carrying Jesus, the Son of God, on his back. That untrained little donkey was the willing servant of the One who created him. The air was filled with shouts, but that little donkey showed no fear.
“Hosanna!” cried the crowds. “Hosanna to the Son of David!” That word “Hosanna” means “bestow blessing.” Perhaps even the crowds did not know why they said this. It is very good to praise the Lord, but better still to kneel and praise Him when you are alone and there is no one but God to hear you.
After that wonderful donkey ride, Jesus went into the temple and found them selling things in there for religious offerings and making money. God had told them long ago how to build a temple for His praise, and now the temple was being used in a wrong way and for themselves. You have heard of the kindness and love of Jesus, but have you heard that He hates sin? Jesus did not destroy those men, but He upset the tables and poured out the money and drove them all out. We do not have a God who does not care if we sin.
That very same week the crowds were shouting again. This time the King who had ridden on an untamed donkey was wearing a crown of thorns and was clothed by the soldiers in a purple robe, just to make fun of Him. This time the rulers had decided that He spoiled their religion and their self-importance, and the people agreed.
“Away with Him! Crucify Him!” they shouted.
Were you there that day? No, but you have the same decision to make as if you were there. If He were dead, it might not matter, but Jesus is not dead. He is the Son of God, the Savior of sinners. If you say “No” to Him, then you are saying, “Away with Him!” just the same as the crowd did. Since He is living and is coming back, it is impossible for you to go on without a decision.
Jesus loves you and died for you. Won’t you receive Him as your Savior? “God commendeth His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).

Invited … Are You Coming?

A certain king planned a marriage for his son. The invitation list included only very special people, and they would be very honored and looking forward to wearing their finest clothes and to being there on time!
Or were they? It depended, I suppose, on what they really thought of that king. If he was unpopular, it would not take much to keep them away.
But why would a king be unpopular? He was certainly rich enough to provide a grand wedding feast. He killed the finest of his cattle for roast beef and veal, and the fanciest desserts were ready, and it was all free. I suppose it was a question of what was more important to those people.
I know of another King who is unpopular. I have heard His name used scornfully every day, even by children. And I have heard Him blamed when things go wrong among ourselves, and His book is seldom read. Do you know that great King? His name is God. He is not wanted, because His holiness interferes with our sin.
When it was time to begin the marriage, the king in our story sent his servants to tell the people who had been invited to “come; for all things are now ready.” An amazing thing happened! Even with a second invitation, none of those honored people took the king’s invitation seriously enough to come. They all had other things to do instead. One went to his farm, and another went to his business. And worse than that, they treated his servants very, very badly.
What would you do, or rather, what are you doing now? God is sending you His invitation while you are reading this story. What other plans are keeping you from coming?
The servants told the king that nobody invited would come; they all had other plans, and he was very angry. But everything was still ready, so he sent his servants out to bring in the poor and the homeless and the beggars, until all the seats for the wedding were filled. It did not matter at all that they were a ragged bunch, for the king made sure that each one was fitted and dressed for the occasion. It is not hard to imagine how pleased and grateful those people would be. The king was pleased too.
Our God is pleased when sinners respond to His invitation to come to Him. He is pleased to pour on us all the love of His heart and the riches of His grace. But God does not forget about those who refuse and despise Him. In our story, the king destroyed those who refused his invitation and treated his servants badly, and he burned up their city. Do you think God cares any differently about those who refuse His invitation and rebel against Him now? There is punishment awaiting them too.
There is one more warning at the end of the story. One of the guests who came did not wear the clothes the king had provided. The king asked him why, and the guest was speechless. The king ordered him to be bound hand and foot and cast into outer darkness. We are often reminded that God is holy, and He is not to be ignored. He can make you ready for His holy presence, but you cannot do this for yourself. God is willing to do it for you, at the expense of the life-blood of His Son. Are you willing?
“Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear My voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with Me” (Revelation 3:20).

The Sword out of God's Mouth

You can read in the Bible of the sword which goes out from the mouth of God. This is not a sword made of steel - it is far more powerful than even steel. And God who uses it speaks with power, and when He uses that sword, no one can answer back or fight with Him. Here is a story about that wonderful sword.
You remember that the great God who created all things by the word of His power became a baby and grew up to be a man in the same world where you and I live. His name was Jesus. All He needed to heal sick people was to speak a word. He didn’t need medicine or doctors or operations. All He needed to feed thousands of hungry people was just a command. He used a small amount of food, and His power made it enough to feed five thousand people, with leftovers.
Why then was Jesus hated? Why did they search the garden of Gethsemane in the darkness until they found Him and then tied Him up with ropes? Because He told them the same thing that He is telling you-that you are a sinner - you have sinned against God, and you need His salvation or you will be lost forever. This was and still is the message no one wants to hear.
Peter was with Jesus in the garden that night and Peter loved Him, but Peter made a mistake. He drew his metal sword to defend his Master. He may have been aiming for the servant’s head, but all he did was cut off the man’s ear. This mistake was corrected in a way that only our Jesus could have done. He touched the servant’s ear and healed him.
Jesus knew that Peter was trying to protect Him. And this is the wonderful answer of the Lord Jesus to Peter in the garden that night. “Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to My Father, and He shall presently give Me more than twelve legions of angels? But how then shall the scriptures be fulfilled, that thus it must be?” (Matthew 26:53-54).
Those thousands of angels at His command could have instantly wiped out every person in the world. The sword of the Lord has power beyond our wildest imagination. But God’s sword was NOT used against those wicked men, because Jesus was ready to go to the cross and meet that sword Himself so you and I could go free!
God had already called, “Awake, O sword, against My Shepherd [Jesus], and against the Man that is My Fellow, saith the Lord of hosts: smite the Shepherd [Je-sus]” (Zechariah 13:7).
The sword of God was used in full strength against our blessed Lord Jesus when He was on the cross. No one was allowed to see that awful smiting that Jesus endured while He suffered for sin. God made darkness come over all the land. Total darkness. It was as if God were telling us that this was too deep and serious for any of us to understand. Jesus cried out, “My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?” You and I do not understand this, but we know it is true, because the Bible is true - it is God’s Word.
At the end of three hours of bearing God’s punishment for sin, Jesus was still alive and able to pronounce that His own work was finished. No one but God Himself could say, “It is finished,” as Jesus did. And after that, He gave up His life. Who but God could do that?
If then the sword of God’s judgment against sin has finished its work, is there any punishment left for you and me? If we are protected in the loving arms of Jesus our Savior who died for us and rose again, there is no need to fear - we are set free. However, the sword of the Lord will still fall on those who are not protected in the strong, loving arms of Jesus.
If you will come to Him now, you can be set free from all punishment for your sins. If you refuse to come to Him, you will bear the punishment from God’s sword for your sins.
Have you been set free from God’s sword of punishment?
“Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:32). “If the Son [Jesus] therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed” (John 8:36).

The Man Who Came Running

The man came running. He was not going to miss his chance to speak to that wonderful Man, who could tell him what he really wanted to know. When he got to Jesus, he kneeled in front of Him, knowing that He was worthy of this honor.
What was it that this man wanted that he was in such a hurry to speak to Jesus? It must have been something important that he needed right away.
Yes, it was. He was a rich man, but he still had an emptiness in his heart. He knew that he would grow old and eventually leave his possessions behind when he died, and he wanted everlasting life. Who but Jesus could tell him how to get it?
“Good Master,” he said, “what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?”
That is a very strange question, isn’t it? Some of us have inherited things, because our parents or grandparents have died and left us things in their wills. But we didn’t really have to do anything to receive those things except be in the family, did we? But the rich man wanted to “do” something to earn eternal life. What could he do?
But Jesus knew, as He always does, what was missing in that man’s heart, and so He said, “Why callest thou Me good? There is none good but one, that is, God.”
I think everyone must agree that Je-sus was good, always was good and never had a moment of anything but good in Him. What does that mean? HE must be GOD! This is what the man was missing, and many people miss it today. Jesus is the eternal Son of God and worthy of everything we have!
Then Jesus began quoting to him some of the commandments, which he knew very well already. “Master,” he said, “all these have I [obeyed] from my youth.”
Jesus knew all about this man’s boyhood days and knew that he had been a good boy. As Jesus looked at him He loved him, but He knew there was one thing missing. Je-sus had not quoted the commandments, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind,” and, “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.”
“One thing thou lackest,” said Jesus, and this was going to touch a very tender point for this man. “Go.   .   . sell whatsoever thou hast  .  .  .  give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven.  .  .  .  Take up the cross  .  .  . follow Me.”
But the man was rich. He thought that to give it all away was too much to ask. He went away distressed and sad.
Did he ever come back? Perhaps, after he learned who that wonderful Man really was. Maybe he changed his mind and was one of those in Acts 2:45 who were filled with rejoicing and praise. We don’t know. But we do know that Jesus, who created the heaven and earth, loves us so much that He gave ALL that He had to buy us with His precious blood. “Ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that ye through His poverty might be rich” (2 Corinthians 8:9). In Him we have the gift of eternal life, and in Him we have the inheritance we could never receive by doing anything.
I hope that man came back to Jesus, and I hope you will come too. Our Jesus, who is the Son of God, is high above all powers and every name that is named, not only in this world but also in that which is to come. Will you follow Him now?

The Story of Two Men

There were two men who went up to the temple to pray. That was a good religious thing to do, and they went to the right place to pray, and they offered their prayers to the right Person. That’s a good start, isn’t it?
God tells us stories like this to show us what happens to our prayers. We are praying to someone we can’t see, and if God did not tell us, we might never know what happens in heaven when our prayers get there.
It doesn’t take long for one little prayer to go up from one little child right to the throne where God is sitting. God has no problem with distance or sound waves. This story brings things clearly into focus so we can see what happens.
The first man was a Pharisee, one of those people who liked to wear religious robes and make long, public prayers. He was looked up to as a leader of religion, and he prayed like this: “God, I thank Thee, that I am not as other men are, [cheaters and full of sin].”
What would God think of a prayer like that? This man did not seem to think that he was a sinner, but God says that “all have sinned” (Romans 3:23). And God says that all the world is guilty before Him (Romans 3:19). We know for sure God heard his prayer, because He records every word of it in Luke 18:11, and you may read it.
The Pharisee continued praying, telling God that he was not like the other man, who was a publican. Then he listed his fastings and givings, which are things people should not brag about.
Are your givings secret? God has an unpublished record of things done for His sake, but perhaps you think your record is blank. It is only things done for Jesus’ sake that He can reward. Even if you can’t remember what’s on your record, don’t worry. You don’t have to remember everything, because God does not forget.
Then the other man prayed. Being a publican, nobody liked him, because he was employed by the Romans to collect taxes. Tax collectors were dishonest, and this man had a bad conscience about it. Perhaps he had taken money dishonestly from people and could not begin to pay it all back.
The publican could not even look up to heaven when he prayed, but he struck himself on the chest and said, “God be merciful to me a sinner.”
We will not ask your opinion about those two prayers, because God has already told us how He received them. He says, “This man [the publican] went down to his house justified rather than the other.” Justified. That’s a big word. If you say you are sorry, someone might forgive you, but if you are truly guilty, only God can say, “Justified”! This means that you stand before Him as righteous in His holy eyes! No one but God could do this for you.
That guilty publican went down to his house justified, and we know this because God says so. Perhaps you are in your house now, or perhaps in a hospital or in a prison or on the street. You can pray that same prayer as the publican did, with the same answer from the same God, for the Lord Jesus has died to redeem you.
“Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners” (1 Timothy 1:15). “Being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus” (Romans 3:24).

The Tree Climber

No doubt there were lots of trees growing outside the city of Jericho that day, but there was one that was very special. It was a sycamore tree, but it was not the big leaves or the sweet fruit that made it important. You might have walked down the road and thought the trees all looked the same, so what was so special about that one? Let me tell you the secret of that tree.
A great crowd of people were coming out of Jericho one day. They were crowded around a man named Jesus who could do wonderful things that nobody else could do. But there was one man, just one, who wanted to see Jesus for a different reason. He wanted to see who Jesus was - not what He looked like or what wonderful miracles He could do, but who was this man?
Have you learned who Jesus is? Jesus will never disappoint you if you really want to know. Once when He said, “I AM,” all His enemies fell backward to the ground. But they didn’t really care who He was. They got up again and took Him away to crucify Him. Now, if you really want to know who He is, He will show you.
The man who really wanted to know who Jesus was realized he was just too short to see Jesus above the crowd. But that did not stop the man. He ran ahead and climbed up into that sycamore tree and looked down on Jesus from the branches. Now do you see why that tree was so special?
Of course, Jesus knew he was there, just as He knows where you are this very moment. Jesus stood still and called the short man by name - “Zaccheus, make haste, and come down; for today I must abide at thy house.” Now the secret was out, and the surprised crowd saw Zaccheus slide quickly down the tree and stand before Jesus. Zaccheus knew he was a sinner, but he was still joyful at the thought that Jesus was coming to his very own house.
Can’t you just hear the voices of the people crowded around? Their little trip was ended, and I can almost hear their mutterings: “Jesus has gone to be the guest of a man who is a sinner!” And that was true, but they seemed to forget that they were sinners too, every one of them. And not one of them had received Jesus joyfully as Zaccheus did. Have you?
Zaccheus was a rich man, and he was also important where he worked, but he had not been an honest man. It seems that Jesus did not say anything about this, but Zaccheus was feeling guilty about his dishonesty in the presence of Jesus. He said to Him, “Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have taken anything from any man by false accusation [dishonestly], I restore him fourfold [give back four times as much].”
It is good to make right the wrongs we have done to others, but this does not wipe away the sin. It was Jesus who wiped away all Zaccheus’s sins that day. This is what Jesus said: “This day is salvation come to this house, forasmuch as he also is a son of Abraham.” Jesus was explaining that Abraham was a man who believed God, and Zaccheus did too. Do you?
Then the Lord Jesus adds the words that show that this story is for us too: “The Son of Man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.” Can you answer, “Yes, Lord, I’m a lost sinner too”? And will you receive Him joyfully, since He came to seek and to save lost ones like you?

The Poolside Story

It was far more important than an ordinary swimming pool. It was a pool in Jeru-salem, and if you had been there you might have heard the bleating of sheep because there was a sheep market nearby.
Around this pool you would not find deck chairs and sunbathers; you would find sick people. The pool had five porches full of blind, diseased, crippled and paralyzed people. Some had friends with them, and some were alone. Some were sitting, and some were lying on bedrolls. All of them were waiting  .  .  .  waiting in their misery and their hope.
What were they waiting for?
God cared about their misery, and at a certain time of year He sent an angel to stir up the water. When that happened, there was great excitement among the sick and crippled who waited in hope. How they struggled to get into the pool! They knew that the first one, and only the first one, who stepped into the pool would be healed of whatever disease he had.
How we pity those poor people! If you had been there, perhaps you would have been a helper, but, of course, that would not be possible if you were crippled too. I wonder if you have ever faced the problem that you are crippled with sin - sin that you cannot erase and bad habits that you cannot break. Being tied up with sins, it is impossible to make your own way to God’s home of holiness and joy in heaven. Because of your sins, you are on your way to a lost eternity in hell.
Did you notice that it was an angel that stirred up the water, and that it was only the first person into the pool who was healed? But God has not sent an angel to set you free from your sins. God has sent His only begotten Son! And the promise is not to only the first who comes - it is to everyone who comes! Better still, the promise is not for the healing of the body for those who eventually will die anyway. No, this promise is for everlasting life -forever as a child of God in the Father’s house. How could anyone say, “I don’t care”?
Jesus, the Son of God, was by the pool one day. He saw a man there who had been sick for thirty-eight years. Jesus said to the sick man, “Wilt thou be made whole?” Today we would say, “Would you like to be healed?”
You would think that the man would say, “Yes!” But he didn’t! Instead, he began to explain about the pool and the stirring up of the water and that he had nobody to help him. Did he not know who was talking to him?
Then Jesus, who created our bodies, spoke with His authority and power and said, “Rise, take up thy bed, and walk.” Immediately the man was healed, and he picked up his bedroll and walked.
The day on which this happened was the Sabbath, Saturday, the day which God had given to Israel as a day of rest. This quickly started an argument. It was against the Jews’ religion to carry anything on the Sabbath, and the healed man had carried his bedroll. They were right about this. God had promised six days of blessing and success if they were obedient, and then they were to have a day of rest. But Jesus came to a land of disobedience and misery, and He cared so much for their sorrows that He healed even on the Sabbath day. They had lost their success and their rest because of sin. But they cared more about their religion than about the loving Savior who came to set them free.
Who told you to carry your bed? they asked. But all the poor man could say was, I don’t know.
Is that your answer too? Don’t you care to know Jesus? He is the One who came into the world to save sinners. Your health comes from Him now, and an eternal life in heaven can never come from anyone but Jesus.
Jesus had slipped away among the crowd, and the healed man did not seem to care. But Jesus found him in the temple and said to him, “Behold, thou art made whole: sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto thee.”
It seems that with a healthy body, the man had not faced the problem of his sins. Have you? Do you know that sin is more serious than thirty-eight years of sickness, because sin can cause you to spend eternity in hell, and eternity means forever? Hell is the end of the road if you have no Savior.
The man left Jesus and then told those who had asked him that it was Jesus who had healed him. Their response was a plan to kill Jesus.
There we leave the man who was healed, in the company of the haters of Christ. This story is in John 5, but it says no more about him. As far as we know, he is still in that company. What is your company now? and for eternity? Is it Christ the Savior of sinners, or is it the haters of Christ? You may choose Him now, today. It may be too late to make a choice tomorrow.
“Ye will not come to Me, that ye might have life” (John 5:40). “Whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely” (Revelation 22:17).

Another Poolside Story

The blind man sat by the dusty wayside, begging. He had been born blind and could only beg for a living. As Jesus and His disciples passed the man, the disciples wondered why anyone should have such a birth defect. So they asked Jesus about it. And Jesus is the right person to ask.
Jesus told them He had a blessing for that man, and He has a blessing for you too, which is yours for the taking. Have you seen it and accepted it? Don’t turn it down!
Jesus then spat on the ground and made clay of the spittle and put it on the blind man’s eyes. Jesus is the holy Son of God, and everything that came from His mouth was holy too. Then Jesus said to him, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam.”
The blind man obeyed without asking questions, and when he washed in the pool of Siloam his eyes were healed and he could see! What a miracle!
Then he came back, and first he met the neighbors. Were they glad that he was no longer blind? No, they found it hard to believe him. But the man told them exactly what had happened. And he gave all the credit to “a Man that is called Jesus.”
“Where is He?” they asked. But all he could answer was that he didn’t know. He had never seen Jesus, but he had obeyed His voice.
Have you obeyed His voice? That is the way to receive God’s blessing - obey that voice. In John 5:24, Jesus tells us, “He that [hears] My word, and [believes] on Him that sent Me, [has] everlasting life.” You can do what the blind man did. He listened to Jesus and believed Him. The words of Jesus are recorded in the Bible for you to hear and believe and obey.
Next the man met the religious leaders. They were very strict about the Sabbath day (the seventh day, Saturday). They argued that Jesus was not of God because He healed the man on the Sabbath day. The man did not know very much, but he knew one thing, and no arguments could change his mind. He told the religious leaders, “One thing I know, that, whereas I was blind, now I see.”
Even his parents did not stand with him. But the man with his marvelous new eyesight was ready to answer anyone in the world. And the more they talked against Jesus, the more he insisted that Jesus was of God. He told them, “If this Man were not of God, He could do nothing.”
The religious leaders didn’t like what he said, and they threw him out of the synagogue.
How discouraging! Family and friends gone. An outcast with no possibility of begging anymore. Who will help him now?
Jesus found him! He said to him, “[Do you] believe on the Son of God?”
The man answered, “Who is He, Lord, that I might believe on Him?”
Jesus said, “Thou hast both seen Him, and it is He that [talks] with thee.”
“And he said, Lord, I believe. And he worshipped Him.”
That is where we leave the man who had been blind - at the feet of Jesus. And he will be with Jesus for all eternity.
That was God’s blessing for him, and that blessing is for you too. Did you notice how he got it? It was the Son of God who healed him, and the arguments of others did not turn him away from Jesus. And when Jesus found him, he listened and believed. You can do that too. Right now. Will you? “He that [believes] on the Son [has] everlasting life” (John 3:36).

Who Tells Fish What to Do?

“I’m going fishing,” said Peter long ago. It was evening and a good time for casting his fishing net into the sea. Peter was a skilled fisherman, and he didn’t fish just for fun. It was how he earned his living. His father was a fisherman too.
Peter was old enough to have many memories stored up in his mind. Some of his were very special memories, because he was alive when Jesus lived on earth. He had been there when Jesus was crucified and buried, and he had seen the empty grave on that wonderful morning of His resurrection. He was also one of those who had seen Jesus, twice, since then.
Now Peter and six others were out under the stars with their dragnet, and he knew the ways of fish. It would be a good night.
But it wasn’t. They had fished hopefully during the long night hours, but when the morning light began to glow in the eastern sky, they had caught nothing. Not one single fish.
Have you found your life to be like that? All your hard work adds up to nothing; your nets are empty and the future looks empty too? Listen to this story, because it is true. God can command the fish, and He can give you much better than you can ask or hope for. “Now unto Him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think” (Ephesians 3:20).
Those seven fishermen saw a Man standing on the shore. There was no halo around His head; He looked like an ordinary man. This Man called to them and asked them if they had any food.
“No,” they answered.
Then that Man Jesus told them to cast the net on the right side of the boat and they would catch some.
How could Jesus know that? How could He tell experienced fishermen how to fish? Do you not know that our Jesus is the Creator of all things, and everything is under His control? Are you remembering that He is the Son of God? They cast the net on the right side of the boat, and it was so full of fish that they could hardly drag it into the boat.
Now there was one man in the boat who knew for a fact that Jesus loved him, and he said to Peter, “It is the Lord!”
Peter’s heart answered at once, I want to go to Him! And he put on his fisherman’s coat and jumped into the sea to go to Jesus at once. Never mind the fish  .  .  .  the others could drag them in.
As soon as the boat came to shore, the fishermen saw a nice little fire there, burned down to hot coals, and fish laid on it and bread.
“Bring the fish you have caught,” Jesus said. Peter pulled in the catch. How many fish were there? One hundred and fifty three  .  .  .  and they were big ones!
We don’t hear any more about those fish. I am sure they were not wasted, but Jesus Himself was the important One, and those men were important because Jesus loved them.
I wonder if you have learned that you are important because Jesus loves you. Never mind the failures or the successes. Jesus knows how to change the failures and use the successes to make your life what He wants you to be. What is most important is having Him in your life!
They had a wonderful breakfast that morning, because Jesus Himself cooked and served it with His own hands. And they were wounded hands, because He had already been crucified and risen from the dead. His resurrection body was not hungry, but He knew that they were hungry, and He made the breakfast for them that they liked best.
He still lives to supply our needs. There was a long, lonely, dark, hopeless night before that meal, and perhaps life is like that for you now. Be of good courage. You will see Him in the “morning,” and He will not go away as He did when He went up into heaven and left His followers here.
To be with Jesus in heaven will be far better than the best feast you ever had in your whole life. If He has put some disappointments in your life now, let Him use them for His perfect plans. But keep watching for the “morning” when He will call all those who are cleansed from their sins to His home in heaven. “He that shall come will come, and will not tarry [delay]” (Hebrews 10:37).
But I have a question for you. Have you been cleansed from your sins? If not, don’t wait! or you’ll be left behind. “The blood of Jesus Christ [God’s] Son cleans-eth us from all sin” (1 John 1:7).

The Story of Rhoda

I cannot tell you how old Rhoda was, but the Bible calls her a “damsel,” so I think she could have been a young teenager. She may have been a servant-girl or even a daughter in the house of John Mark. I know she was an active girl and not afraid of the dark, even though it was late at night.
It was shortly after midnight, and there were many gathered together in that house, praying. Peter was in prison and his life was in danger. They were not signing a protest to the government to release him. Instead, they were praying to the God of heaven, the Father who loved them, and to the Lord Jesus who has all power in heaven and earth.
Rhoda was there at the prayer meeting. She knew Peter, for she had often listened to his voice and she knew it well. His words were precious, because he told her that she was not redeemed with silver and gold but with the precious blood of Christ. He told her that Jesus, His own self, bore her sins in His own body on the tree. And he told her that she was a living stone in God’s great spiritual house. Perhaps she had not yet heard of all these wonderful truths, but all this was part of Peter’s message, and since it was God’s Word, it was precious to the hearts of those in John Mark’s house that night. Maybe there were groans and tears as they prayed for Peter in prison and about to lose his life.
Listen! There is a knock at the gate. It was Rhoda who ran down the passageway in the dark where she heard not only a knock but a voice calling to be let in. She recognized the voice, and she was so surprised and happy that she ran back to those praying with the news that Peter was at the gate!
But girls can be wrong! Why listen to Rhoda? It couldn’t be true. Didn’t she know that Peter was in prison? They told her she was out of her mind.
But she insisted that it was Peter’s voice and that he was at the gate!
“It is his angel,” they said.
Maybe there has been a time in your life when you knew that the answer is “Yes,” even when everybody around you said “No.” If you are trusting what God says, you may be sure that His Word is true. Others will see it later. Yes, God is true and His Word is worth trusting no matter what anybody says.
By this time everybody could hear the knocking on the gate, and when they opened it.   .   . there stood Peter - the very man they had been praying for! They were so delighted that they all talked at once, but Peter raised his hand to hush them.
After they became quiet, he told them how the Lord had brought him out of the prison. It was a very interesting story that he told them, and we will tell it to you next.

Peter's Story

We left Peter raising his hand to hush all the surprised people in John Mark’s house in the middle of the night. He was about to tell them how God had set him free. This is the story of how he got out of prison.
Herod the king wanted to please the people, and since they did not like God’s message, he locked up Peter - God’s messenger-in prison. Herod made very sure that no power on earth could set Peter free. There were sixteen soldiers on guard duty that night. As Peter the prisoner lay down to sleep, each of his hands was chained to one of the soldiers guarding him. Besides that, there were prison keepers on guard outside the prison door.
You’ll never guess what God did to set Peter free. And if you don’t know already, you could never guess what God has done to set one poor sinner, like you or me, free forever from the power of Satan. God sent His only Son Jesus to take the sinner’s place in judgment. Neither you nor I could make such an amazing plan. Only God could. I accepted God’s plan of freedom from my sins and Satan’s power. What about you? Have you accepted His plan of freedom from your sins?
In the night, God sent an angel to the prison, and a light shone around Peter. The angel struck him on the side to waken him and helped him up, and his chains fell off from his hands. Then the angel told him to fasten his belt, put on his sandals, put on his coat and follow him. And during this time, not one soldier woke up.
Peter obeyed the angel, thinking it must be a dream. The angel led him past the first and second prison doors, and then the iron gate leading to the city opened for them all by itself. They passed down the street, and suddenly the angel disappeared, leaving Peter standing alone under the stars. Now he knew for sure that it was not a dream but really true that God had sent His angel to set him free.
We who have trusted the Savior of sinners are ready to tell you the same thing: “Now I know for sure that the Lord Jesus has made me free!” God promised this in John 8:36: “If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.”
Guess what Peter did next. He went straight to the prayer meeting at John Mark’s house where Rhoda was and told them how God had set him free. Then he left the city and went to another place.
In the morning, there was not a trace of him anywhere in the city. Of course, Herod the king was very angry, and he added to this wickedness by killing the soldiers who had been on guard duty that night when the angel set Peter free.
King Herod had a miserable death soon after that, and he has gone where unforgiven sinners go. But I am sure I will meet Peter and Rhoda in heaven, because they trusted in the God who sent His Son to die for sinners.
Will you be in heaven to meet Peter and Rhoda too?
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