God's Wonderful Stories: Volume 2

Table of Contents

1. The Tower of Babel
2. Why Lot Was Not Happy
3. The Story of a Mountain Sheep
4. Wagons
5. God Is Light
6. A Sword out of God's Mouth
7. Food From Heaven
8. Water for a Million
9. Golden Calf
10. The Story of Korah
11. The Story of a Pile of Stones
12. The Man With the Sword
13. Sisera's Story
14. King of the Trees
15. Best Friends
16. The Young Man's Problem
17. Stolen Hearts
18. The Little Boy Prince
19. What the Ravens Did
20. King Ahab's Plan
21. Guess What the King Did
22. The King's Treasurer
23. The Story of the Little Cake
24. No King Uzziah!
25. The Great Stone Wall Part 1
26. The Great Stone Wall Part 2
27. The Oxen Were Loaded
28. Jeremiah Tells the Truth
29. The King Could Not Sleep
30. Jonah Runs Away
31. Jonah Changes His Mind
32. Jonah Feels Sorry for Himself
33. The Carpenter's Son
34. A Feast for Jesus
35. Mary, Help Me!
36. Why Are You Sad?
37. Come and See
38. A Boy's Lunch Feeds Thousands
39. Pointing a Finger
40. He Washed Their Feet
41. What Did Stephen See?
42. Felix's Problem
43. King Agrippa
44. Story of a Sailing Ship
45. The Story of the Shipwreck

The Tower of Babel

Some of you children live where the land is flat right to the skyline, and at night that sky is sprinkled with stars. Some of you live in the mountains with snowy peaks and where there are tall trees and small trees. And some of you bend your heads way back to look up at tall buildings towering into the sky where you hardly ever see a star because of the city lights.
But none of you have ever seen a tower like the one in today’s story. It was not destroyed by the crash of airplanes, but it is gone, as all the inventions of man must finally go. Here’s the story of the tower of Babel, and since it is written in God’s Word, we know that it is true.
It happened long ago in the plain of Shinar. The people at that time were very clever and full of ideas. They knew a lot, and they wanted to learn more of the secrets of the universe, so they planned a tower tall enough to reach above the clouds right into the heavens. Stone would not do, so they found special clay and made kiln-dried bricks and firmly cemented them together with asphalt. They had no textbooks of engineering and no machinery, but they all spoke the same language and had the same goal. They decided to give themselves a name so they wouldn’t be scattered all over the earth.
But they were God’s creation, just as you and I are, and God loved them. God loves you and me too, and He has planned for mankind a wonderful joy and a wonderful place with Himself in heaven that no man can improve. When man tries to improve on what God has made for us here on earth, man only spoils it. God came down to look at their tower. He heard their plans and He saw that they had decided to break through the limits that His wisdom had set for them. He saw, as they did not see, that they were planning their own misery, and in His wisdom, He decided to stop them.
If you do not know the story, you will never guess what He did that night. Destroy the tower? No. He did something that only God could do. The people all spoke the same language since they all lived in one part of the world. So God removed from the brain of every family all memory of the language that they had been speaking, and each family was given a different language. Each language was perfect in its details and understood only within the family. Isn’t our God powerful - far beyond the most powerful person you know?
With so many different languages, they could not work together. The families moved apart, and the planned tower became a ruin. The name Babel means “confusion,” and we still have the confusion of those many languages today.
We have come a long way since then and God has not stopped us. Research has explored and uncovered many wonders of God’s creation, but each new discovery does not increase the happiness of mankind. Do you feel frustrated and sad? God cares. That is why He sent His only begotten Son to die for you. That is why the Lord Jesus wants to welcome you to the place which He calls “My Father’s house.” There is room there for saved sinners, but there is no room for rebellious sinners. Will you accept Him as your own Savior right now?
“Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners” (1 Timothy 1:15).

Why Lot Was Not Happy

Lot had many reasons to be happy. He was a rich man, and he had chosen for himself a beautiful place to live. He had a wife and four daughters. Two were married and two lived at home with their parents. He also had a very important place of authority in the city of Sodom. As they say today, he had it all.
One evening two travelers came to his door, and Lot quickly invited them in to share supper and a night’s lodging. The men said, No, we will spend the night in the street.
Those men were God’s messengers, and they knew that Lot was a true believer in God. But they also knew that there was something wrong in Lot’s home. It’s good to be a true believer in the God of heaven and to live a good life, but do you remember that if Jesus is your Savior you really belong to Him now? Let God make your choices. If you are making your own choices, there is something wrong in your life. For one thing, you are missing the joy of God’s daily companionship.
Please stay, urged Lot, and so the two travelers stayed. Lot was the cook, and he made them a feast and showed them where to sleep. But before they could relax, there was a crowd outside. A whole gang of rioters, old and young, were pounding on the door and calling to Lot to bring out his visitors. This was not just fun or curiosity; they had wicked plans.
Lot stepped outside to calm them down, but they would not listen. Even though Lot was a judge in the city, his life was in danger from this gang. So the two messengers opened the door a little and pulled Lot inside. But a closed door isn’t much protection when a gang is all fired up and about to break down the door. So God’s messengers saved Lot by striking those rioters with blindness, and they couldn’t see to find the door!
Will you find the door to a happy life by any plans you can think of ? You are welcome to come right now to our wonderful Savior who said, “I am the door” (John 10:9). The same hopeless searching will happen to any sinner who will not have Christ the Savior of sinners right now. And when God shuts that door to heaven, what will you do? “Seek ye the Lord while He may be found” (Isaiah 55:6). “Behold, now is the day of salvation” (2 Corinthians 6:2).
God’s messengers now told Lot that they had come with God’s authority to destroy the wicked city of Sodom. Bring all your family and come with us, they said. Lot went at once to tell his married daughters and their husbands.
We have to get out of here, because God is going to destroy the city! But they thought it was a joke. Lot had not been living as a believer in God, so why should they listen to him now? If you are a real Christian, are you living so that people are ready to believe you? Stop and think about this.
Morning came, but Lot still did not want to leave Sodom. He had a nice home there, and the sun was coming up as usual. So God’s messengers grabbed the hands of Lot, his wife and his two unmarried daughters and hurried them out of the city, leaving everything behind. Then God in His mercy warned them, “Escape for thy life; look not behind thee, neither stay thou in all the plain; escape to the mountain, lest thou be consumed.”
Oh, please! Let me go to this little city instead, cried Lot.
God’s messengers agreed, but Lot and his family missed the joy of letting God decide. Lot lost not only all his riches, but his wife and his married children too. And his two daughters who came with him were sinful and wicked.
As they hurried out of Sodom, God had warned them, Don’t look back! But Lot’s wife looked back, and she became a pillar of salt.
That morning was the very last sunrise over Sodom. It was completely destroyed by fire from heaven, and there were no survivors.
God wants you to listen to this story. He has told it to us because He is the same God today. His mercy calls to you now, but His judgment is sure to come. God is slow to judge and ready to save, even though it cost Him the blood of His beloved Son. Will you come to Him today? and will you let Him make your choices? Then your life will not end in loss and sorrow but in eternal reward.

The Story of a Mountain Sheep

It was a sure-footed mountain sheep that loved to be free on Mount Moriah long ago. Each of its strong hoofs was divided down the middle, which gave it a good grip on rocky ledges that you would never dare to climb. And it had strong, curved horns, which made it a good fighter. But there was a day  .  .  . let me tell you about it.
Up the mountain that day came an old man named Abraham with his young son Isaac. Isaac carried a big bundle of wood. Abraham had no matches, so he carried a container of red coals of fire and a knife. It looked as if Abraham had a plan.
Yes, but it was not his own plan. It was God’s plan, and I’m sure Abraham’s heart was hurting when he thought of it. Isaac did not know the plan. He knew that the fire and the knife were to offer a sacrifice to God, but he could not see any sacrifice. “Where is the lamb?” he asked his father.
“God will provide [for] Himself a lamb,” answered his father, and they climbed up the mountain together.
On the mountaintop, Abraham built an altar of stones, arranged Isaac’s bundle of wood on it, and then tied up his son and laid him on the altar upon the wood. Then he lifted up his knife.
They were all alone up there on the mountaintop. Who was there to see how very much their hearts were hurting? Why would Abraham do such a strange thing? Because God told him to. God had promised to give Abraham this son, and down in his heart Abraham knew that God keeps all His promises, and God was able to bring back that son alive from the dead. Yes, since God had told him to, he would sacrifice his own son and let God do the rest.
Were they really alone? No. God was watching, and God saw right into their hearts, just as He does into yours and mine right now. “Abraham, Abraham,” called a voice from heaven, and Abraham immediately stopped to listen. “Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou anything unto him,” said the Voice.
God was very, very pleased that Abraham was willing to trust Him and to give his son. God loves to be trusted. You can rest on His promises, no matter how much it hurts. God will make very sure that He pours out His best gifts upon anyone who believes His Word and trusts Him.
Then Abraham turned around, and there was that ram - that male sheep - right behind him. Why didn’t the sheep run away? It was strong, a good climber and a good fighter. But its great horns were caught in a thick bush, and it could not get away.
The knife was used on the ram now, and the fire burned the ram as the sacrifice instead of Abraham’s son. After all, Isaac was a sinner, as we are too, and God must have a sinless offering. The ram was called a clean animal in the sight of God. This was the reason why sheep and lambs were often chosen as sacrifices to God, and they were killed and burned without suffering.
That is why when John saw Jesus, he said, “Behold the Lamb of God!” (John 1:36). Jesus died on a wooden cross. The people were very wicked and cruel to Him, but it was not the people who hurt Him most. It was God Himself who punished Jesus for my sins, but then it was completely dark and no one saw when God did this.
And when the punishment for sin was finished, Jesus was still alive! He died shortly after by giving up His life, and then He was buried. But on the third day, He came out of the grave, alive forever, and He is my Savior now because He died for me. Is He your Savior too?


Good old farm wagons are not often seen today. They were slow and bumpy, but they never had engine trouble or flat tires. In America there was a horse to pull them, and in other countries it was probably an ass, which is like a donkey, only stronger and bigger.
Joseph was the most powerful man in Egypt at the time of our story, and his father was a hungry, old man living in the land of Canaan. They had not seen each other for twenty years, and maybe you don’t know why. The real problem was the ten older brothers who wanted Joseph out of the family altogether.
Are you one of the crowd who wishes that Jesus was out of your life-story too? The memory of Him as a baby in a manger long ago might be all right, but you don’t want His power and authority over you right now. You want to live your own life without Him.
There was no food for the family in Canaan, and no one can live without food. Joseph had plenty in Egypt, because he had been storing it up for seven years. But the hungry family in Canaan had almost nothing left. They may have had a little fancy food, like nuts and honey, but that isn’t enough to live on.
Perhaps some of you can understand and remember hungry days when you didn’t have enough to eat. Or perhaps you are overweight but are still hungry-hearted. You know that it is not plenty of food that makes people happy. Your fill of all sorts of goodies can leave you heart-hungry and unhappy.
Joseph knew that his family in Canaan was nearly out of food. He sent wagons to bring his father to Egypt, and the wagons had enough room to bring all Joseph’s brothers and their families - more than sixty people. Since there were at least twenty asses, there was plenty of pulling power for the wagons. His father was a sad, old man with poor eyesight, but nobody could fail to see that lineup of wagons. His sons explained that they were sent from Joseph to bring him and all his family to live near Joseph, who was a ruler in Egypt. The poor, old man had a hard time believing that Joseph was still alive, but there were the wagons he had sent, loaded with food for the journey. And ten of his sons had returned from Egypt and told their father that Joseph had said, Never mind your stuff  .  .  .  just come!
When Joseph’s father saw the wagons, he believed the message. His spirit was renewed and he came!
Will you believe the message from Jesus and come to Him? God has sent you a wonderful book, and He has sent you real believers who can tell you that it is true. You cannot see Jesus, but He is real. We have a thousand daily proofs that He is real - our food and clothing and friendships and even our very breath - all comes from His hands of love. And we have His wonderful book which answers the need of our hungry hearts. Satan may tell you that you can’t understand that book, but God will give you understanding if you ask Him.
God’s book explains that you need a Savior to cleanse you from your sins. Our living, loving Jesus is the Savior who took the punishment for the sins of every believer while He was on the cross. You also need His company every day. Here is His promise: “Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world” (Matthew 28:20).
Will you come as Joseph’s father did? It may have been a long, bumpy ride, but it ended in wonderful hugs and tears of joy. He found his beloved Joseph, and he was never hungry again.
If you come, your life will have a joyful ending in the Father’s house. You will be happy, but Jesus will be happier than you are. That wonderful book reports that “there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that [repents]” (Luke 15:10).

God Is Light

It is good of God to give us sunlight, which finds its way into every little crack. It is very hard to find blinds or curtains dark enough to shut it out.
“God is light” (1 John 1:5), and He always was light, even before the sun was created. On the first day He said, “Let there be light” (Genesis 1:3), and there was light, even though the sun was not made until the fourth day.
Here is a story of three days when God sent darkness into the land of Egypt where His people were slaves.
“Let My people go!” was God’s message to Pharaoh, king of Egypt. No! said Pharaoh. However, he was fearful enough of God to release them a little bit, but God wanted him to release them totally - with no return.
I wonder if you know the God who wants the same for you - total release from the power of Satan. He wants to save you.   .   . not a little bit.   .   . but all the way home to heaven.
Perhaps you would like to stay under the power of sin and Satan a little longer. Maybe you would rather be saved some other day. But are you having troubles in your life? hurts and bumps? sickness? loss of money? people who don’t treat you right? bad news? things that don’t turn out right? God is sending troubles to make you listen. Why? Because He loves you, and He does not want you to live in darkness but to enjoy the light of life.
God sent darkness into the land of Egypt, thick darkness that they could even feel! Darkness so dark that people were afraid to move. Candles? No indeed. When God sends darkness, nobody can make even the tiniest spark of light. When God sends outer darkness, there is no light at all and no possibility of making any.
But God’s people had light in their homes! It was God’s light, and I really cannot explain it. We Christians have light in our homes too, if we love and obey God’s Word. It is light that cheers our hearts and shows us the way to go. Our “God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all” (1 John 1:5).
King Pharaoh sent for Moses and told him, I will let you all go, even your children, but your cattle must stay behind. But their cattle were important for sacrifices to God, and their freedom would not be total if they could not serve Him with sacrifices.
Did you know that God requires a sacrifice for sin today too? Not a cow or a sheep, because those sacrifices had to be repeated over and over again. Our God has sent His only begotten Son as the sacrifice for sin, once for all. Our Jesus shed His precious blood just once, and this is forever. God can never accept any other sacrifice to take away sin.
When Jesus, the Son of God, was on the cross, there was darkness over all the land for three hours. God in all His holiness turned away from the sacrifice who was bearing our sins. Never will we Christians feel darkness like that. It was like the darkness of hell, for God is not there. Jesus did not deserve this; we did - for our sins! We who know Jesus as our Savior are children of the day, not of night nor of darkness. Our future home will be in heaven where God lives. There is no need of the sun nor the moon, and there is no night there. But without God, it is the blackness of darkness forever.
Moses would have nothing to do with King Pharaoh’s halfway offer of leaving the cattle behind. No, he said, we won’t leave a hoof behind!
Good answer! Good for Moses and for you and me too. We want to belong to Jesus totally - for big things and little things. Don’t leave anything in the land of slavery. “If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed” (John 8:36).
God lifted the darkness in Egypt after three days, but Pharaoh still would not let God’s people go. So God brought one more disaster - death - and death is the end of opportunity.
Maybe there is something hurting you today. God sent it because He loves you and He wants you to listen. Will you choose the God who is light? or the blackness of darkness without Him forever?

A Sword out of God's Mouth

Maybe you have heard of a girl drawing a picture with a pen in her mouth or of a man painting a picture with a paint brush in his mouth. They are certainly very clever, and it is truly wonderful what such artists can do. However, this story is far more wonderful than that. Just listen!
This is the story of a sword coming out of God’s mouth! It is a powerful sword too, not just a toy sword or a picture of one. This sword is not made of steel - it is far more powerful than even steel. And the One who uses it is the very same One who “[upholds] all things by the word of His power” (Hebrews 1:3). The sword is the word that comes out of God’s mouth, and it can be used as He pleases. Now that’s a powerful sword, isn’t it?
Here is a story of one time when this great sword was used.
The people of Egypt were evil. They made slaves out of God’s people Israel and made them work hard, gathering clay and straw and making bricks for the king’s building projects. And because the Egyptians were afraid that their slaves might become powerful enough to rebel, the king ordered that all baby boys should be thrown into the river. The Egyptians gave no respect or honor at all to the God of heaven. They worshipped the gods of the sun and the river and the fields, and they included all the evil deeds that are a part of this sort of worship.
God let it continue for a while, but He saw what was going on and He cared, just as He cares today. God sent the Egyptians many warnings, which everybody felt and understood, but the king’s heart was hard. He said no, he would not allow his slaves to go free with all their families and their possessions.
But there came a night when God would not allow this wickedness to go on any longer. “Go,” He said to His people Israel. And that night, the sword of God’s judgment was used against Egypt. There was no fighting and bloodshed. God’s word is the sword that comes out of His mouth, and there is no striking back or escaping. The Lord struck dead all the firstborn in the land of Egypt that night, from the oldest child of the king on his throne right to the oldest child of the prisoner in the dungeon, including all the firstborn of cattle.
Our God still has the sword in His mouth, and there is no answering back or arguing with Him. “The wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23), and this sentence cannot be changed.
But God’s people Israel were protected that night - not one was struck dead. How could they be protected, since they were sinners too? God had a most wonderful answer to that question. The lamb, the little first-year lamb with nothing wrong with it, was killed instead, and its blood was sprinkled on the upper and side posts of the doors of their houses. This blood is what God saw on that awful night, and this is why the firstborn of every Israelite family was alive and could march out of Egypt with the rest of the family and their cattle and their possessions.
And for the same reason, the sword of the Lord has no terrors for me. A woolly lamb didn’t die for me, but Jesus, the precious Lamb of God, has died for me, and the God who promised safety for Israel has promised that “the blood of Jesus Christ His Son [cleanses] us from all sin” (1 John 1:7)!
This provision is not for just one special nation or skin color; this is for you. Which will it be? The sword of God’s judgment? or the Savior who died for sinners? There is no other choice.

Food From Heaven

Perhaps you remember the Bible story of God’s promise to give the children of Israel the fertile land of Canaan.
When the people did not believe God and grumbled and complained, God delayed the blessing and caused their wandering trip to Canaan to last forty long years. During that time, He fed all those people in the waste and hostile wilderness without any fields of grain, vegetable gardens or imports. How could He do this? It would be an impossible problem for us, but it was no problem to God. We would never have guessed God’s method if He had not told us.
God said, “I will rain bread from heaven for you; and the people shall go out and gather a certain [amount] every day.” The next morning, the dew lay on the ground all around their camp, and when the dew dried up, there was a small round thing on the surface of the ground. What is it? the people asked. In their language the word was “manna.” Moses explained to them, “This is the bread which the Lord [has] given you to eat.”
This was a surprise, wasn’t it? They could not be lazy, because a million people made a very large camp, and they had a long way to walk to the land beyond their tents where the manna lay on the ground. The Bible describes the manna as being like coriander seed. Coriander seed is round and about this size: O - about 1/8 inch in diameter. So it was steady work to gather a day’s supply for a hungry family. Probably everyone helped, even the children. It had to be gathered early, because once the sun was hot, it melted and was gone. Don’t keep any extra manna overnight, instructed Moses. Gather it fresh every morning.
But surely it doesn’t matter if we sleep in a little longer, some said. There was something in their hearts that said, We don’t have to obey Moses. He’s eighty years old! You may understand this rebellious feeling, because it is right there in your heart too. Why can’t I have my own way? I don’t have to do what the Bible says!
So, some of them gathered enough to eat for two days, and perhaps they thought that they were extra hard workers and could rest the next morning. But in the morning, those families looked into the pot of yesterday’s manna and.   .   . it smelled awful and it was crawling with worms! They had to throw it out and go hungry that day.
Didn’t they know better than to choose their own way? It never works to disobey God. It might seem to for a while, but God knows all things and His way is right. To choose your own way is not only foolish, it is sin. But in His mercy, God gave them fresh manna the next morning, and His mercy is the same for you right now. Do you know how much He loves you and how perfect His ways are?
Then Moses had another command. There will be no manna on the seventh day (Saturday, their holy Sabbath day). Gather twice as much on Friday. This could be baking day, or they could boil the manna or leave it fresh. It made no difference, because it would keep over Saturday, even if the weather were warm. The seventh day was a day of good food without hard work.
But isn’t one day as good as another? Even if you are a Christian, you may think that you can choose your own way and your own time of receiving God’s blessings. Some of the people thought that same way, and they went out with their empty pots to gather manna on Saturday, the Sabbath, and there wasn’t any! They came home hungry, and it may be that they learned their lesson faster than we do. The lesson is simply  .  .  .  let God make the choices. He knows our needs better than we do, and His timing is perfect. We can find out what His choices are by reading His Word, the Bible, and “listening” to His voice.
God does not command us to stop working on the seventh day. Not now. It was on the first day of the week (Sunday) that our Lord Jesus rose from the dead, and on that day we specially love to remember Him. He looks for a loving response in your heart, since He gave His life for you. The answer, “I don’t care,” or, “Some other day,” will leave you empty and hungry in your heart, even if you are a Christian. Listen to the Word of God, and let Him make your choices. “As for God, His way is perfect; the word of the Lord is tried: He is a buckler [guardian] to all them that trust in Him” (2 Samuel 22:31).
You may be wondering about the need of clothes and shoes for all those people during those forty years of walking. That’s another wonder from God’s supply. Their shoes never wore out and their clothes were always new! No wear and tear and no patching. Do you see what a God we have? Why not trust Him now and forever!
And where did a million people and their cattle find enough water to drink in desert conditions? You may find out by reading our next story.

Water for a Million

One of the hardest things to carry on a long hike is enough water. If there are no places to refill your water bottles along the way, you do not last long. What then could anyone do for a million people who left home in a rush in the middle of the night, without even time to bake their bread?
It was not just a long hike for the children of Israel; it was a journey forty years long. It included mothers and dads, grandparents, children and babies, and cattle, goats and sheep. Supplying water for that size crowd is a problem too big for any department to handle. There were no rivers, no lakes, no springs or fountains. That would make any engineer in the world say, “Impossible!”
It might be good to begin by considering what took the children of Israel into the desert. They got there by crossing the Red Sea, not in boats, but on dry land, because God had told Moses to go ahead and lead them through. They were hotly pursued by their enemy, but God looked after that by putting a cloud behind them so the Egyptians could not see them.
And how did you get here? Because God made you. He made you by His power, when man could only say, “Impossible!” Clever men can make dolls, but not people. And God made you grow too, and He knows what you need. Will you not trust Him for everything you need? The children of Israel had to learn to trust Him for their needs.
Water, cried all those people. We need water! This was true enough, and their need was very real, but why should they be angry at Moses? Did you bring us here to kill us with thirst? they demanded. But since God’s power had divided the sea and brought them through on dry land, surely they could trust Him for water! Yes, and since God has by His wisdom and power created each one of us and brought us through until today, surely He has a plan for us in the biggest problem of all - our sins and eternity. Yes, He has the answer, if we will trust His way.
The people were ready to pick up stones to throw at Moses for bringing them there. They did not stop to think that if God had not already saved them, they would have been dragged back into slavery. Could they not look back at those wonderful miracles and know that He wouldn’t let them down now?
But if God had the answer to their need of water, why did He let them feel so dry and thirsty? That is a very old question. If you are saying, “I know God can get me out of my problem, but why doesn’t He do it?” you are asking a question that is thousands of years old. You see, God wants to show us how very much He loves us, and if He solved all our problems before we felt them, we might live and die like animals without thinking of Him at all. God’s answers to our problems often come in unexpected ways. And His answer to the children of Israel was far more wonderful than they ever guessed.
God’s answer for their problem was given to Moses. “I will stand before thee there upon the rock in Horeb.” The answer was coming, not from earthly springs, but from God Himself. Moses was told to use the same rod which had been used to open up the Red Sea. The command was, “[Strike] the rock, and there shall come water out of it, that the people may drink.” And Moses did just that.
The story does not need to say what happened next, for I’m sure you know. Water! Not a cupful or a jugful but plenty for everyone, because God’s supply is always enough, without rationing or crowding. In fact, if you have read His promise in John 4:14, you know that Jesus said, “[Whoever drinks] of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst.” Never! Not that we don’t want any more, but that the supply is always there. Everlasting life does not need renewing; it is an ever-springing well.
I think there was great drinking and splashing and wading and washing that day, and even the cattle slurped their fill. And it did not cost God a lot to give them such a waterfall. But when God supplies His never-thirst-again water for us, it cost Him a tremendous amount - He gave up His only Son for our need. The Lord Jesus Himself became poor for our sakes, that we through His poverty might be rich.
When the Lord Jesus was there upon the cross, He said, “I thirst!” Surely God would supply for His Son abundance of water, wouldn’t He? No, there was nothing given to Jesus but some vinegar on a sponge. No man could ever be poorer than He was that day He died for you and me.
He has gone back to heaven now and is offering to share all His abundant riches with you. The Lord Jesus loves you and really wants you to come, just as you are, right now. The last invitation in the Bible is, “Let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely” (Revelation 22:17).

Golden Calf

We first read about Moses in the Bible as the baby who was found floating in a basket in the Nile River. He had a three-year-old brother named Aaron.
When Moses was older, God chose him as the leader of the children of Israel. At the time of this story, Moses and Aaron were in their eighties and strong and healthy.
God had a wonderful plan to explain to Moses, and so He called him up to the top of Mount Sinai where Moses could listen undisturbed. God chose Aaron to be the high priest, and he waited down in the desert with the thousands of people of Israel while God gave Moses the ten commandments and the pattern of His beautiful place of worship. This took a long time - more than a month - and God wrote the ten commandments with His finger on tablets of stone.
Here is the first commandment: “Thou shalt have no other gods before Me” (Exodus 20:3).
It was not a long month for Moses, but it was a very long month for the people who were waiting for him below the mountain. They said that Moses was the man who brought them out of Egypt, and they didn’t know what had happened to him. What a huge mistake! It was God, not Moses, who opened the Red Sea and brought them through! And one bad mistake often leads to a worse one.
Are you making a bad mistake like that? Are you thinking that some person has put you where you are? Are you forgetting that it is God’s power and God’s love that have planned the details of your life? How you handle the details is often where the mistakes are made. Remember, one bad mistake can lead to a worse one, and the people of Israel were about to do just that.
Let us make gods to go before us, said the people.
Do you really need other gods? Isn’t our God enough? If you say, “No, He is not enough,” then you don’t know Him. He is the God who loves you and gave His only Son to die for you. Is He not enough?
Aaron told the people to break off their golden earrings, and with the melted-down metal, he shaped a golden calf. The people were delighted and said, “These [are] thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt” (Exodus 32:4). And since the next day was a feast to the Lord, they made it a day of sacrifices and celebrations and games, and they had a great songfest. But, they had broken the first commandment.
The people of Israel did not turn away from the worship of the Lord, but they changed it to suit their own pleasure. The God who had saved them was not who they were thinking about on that feast day. Aaron was a good man, but he led them in the wrong direction just to please them.
Moses came down from Mount Sinai with those wonderful handwritten tablets in his hand. But when he heard and saw the party, he became angry and shattered the stone tablets on the mountainside. He saw that the people had already broken the first commandment.
Now, we know that the wages of sin is death, and we would expect God to destroy those wicked people who broke His law. Well, if God destroyed lawbreakers, why are you and I still alive? God had a plan to save those people, and He has a plan to save us too. Yes, “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23), but JESUS DIED FOR ME so that I could go free!
Isn’t that a wonderful plan? It was God’s own Son who took my place and died for me. God knew that I was a sinner, and He was glad when I understood this too and said yes to Him and to His great plan of salvation. But there comes a moment when it will be too late to say yes. It is important to say yes to Him right now!
If you read this story in Exodus 32, you will find that God did not just overlook this great sin. It brought sorrow to the whole nation. They all deserved to be destroyed, but God patiently brought them through.
God wants to save you right now. If His patience waits for you a little longer, you will only build up sorrow for yourself in the meantime, and you may find that when you need Him, it is too late. God says, “Today if [you] will hear His voice, harden not your hearts” (Hebrews 3:15). And the message of that verse is so important that He says it again in Hebrews 4:7.

The Story of Korah

Why did Moses become the great leader of Israel in Bible days? Because God chose him and trained him ever since he had been a baby. Then, when he was eighty years old God gave him his important leadership assignment.
Korah didn’t like it that Moses was the leader, and he told Moses, We are important too! Moses, you take too much leadership! And Korah talked about it so much that he persuaded others to join him in complaining.
Do you understand Korah’s feeling? Perhaps you think Dad takes too much leadership in your home. But remember, it was God who put dads in positions as heads of families. If you are a complainer, you will drag others with you until there is open rebellion against God’s authority!
That’s what Korah did. Others joined him, and when Moses called them, they answered, We will not come up!
Then Moses ordered a test before the Lord. Korah and his 250 men were to come together and bring their censers with burning incense in them before the Lord. God answered by showing His glory for all of them to see. Then He told Moses and his brother Aaron to get away, and He would immediately destroy the rebellious gathering.
But here is something strange. Moses and Aaron did not hurry away to safety for themselves. They got down and prayed, and the Lord spoke again: Go and tell the people to get away from the tents of these wicked men! Don’t touch anything of theirs!
This time Moses obeyed at once and told the Lord’s message to the people. Now they all had their opportunity to get away from the tents of those wicked, rebellious men. If they believed that God would truly punish this rebellion, they had a chance to escape. And many of the people listened to Moses and did escape.
Moses gave one last warning, and then the earth split apart and swallowed the rebellious men with their households, and they went down alive into the pit, and the others fled at the cry of them. Then fire came from God and destroyed the 250 men who had offered incense.
There was rebellion and warning and judgment. It is just the same today, and that is why God has recorded this account for us in the Bible. It is a warning that there is judgment for sin. Maybe this is your last warning! Read it for yourself and remember that God has not changed. There is a way of escape today, but no promise for tomorrow. John 3:16 tells us of that way of escape that is offered to you today: “God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever be-liev-eth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
“How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation?” (Hebrews 2:3).

The Story of a Pile of Stones

Father, said the young lad, why are these twelve stones piled up here beside the river?
And this was the father’s answer: When you were very little, we came to this Jordan River and found that it had overflowed all its banks. It was a long way across, and there were thousands of us and we had no boats. But Joshua was our leader, and he had instructions from God, telling us what to do.
God had told us long ago exactly how to build an ark for Him. Now this ark is not a boat like Noah built. This ark is a beautiful golden box, built just as God had said, and He told the priests how to carry it. They were to carry it by poles on their shoulders, so that it rose above their heads as they walked.
When we reached the river, Joshua told the priests to carry the ark right into the middle of the river, and that’s what they did. As soon as their feet touched the water, God stopped the river from flowing and made it stand in a heap far away, so that the riverbed was dry. The priests walked into the dry riverbed and stood still right in the middle of it, and we all walked across safely on dry ground. But God told us not to get close to the ark. We stayed about half a mile away, but we could still see the ark there. We walked across that dry riverbed without being afraid that the river would start flowing again, because we knew God was holding the river back. The ark stayed there until every one of us was safely over to this shore, and then Joshua told the priests to come up out of the dry riverbed.
God told Joshua to choose twelve men to carry twelve stones from the place in the riverbed where the priests’ feet stood firm as they held the ark and make a pile of those twelve stones right here on the shore.
That is the meaning of the twelve stones that you see. And do you know something? God wanted you to ask that question, and He wanted me to answer it. He wanted us to remember all our lives what God did for us that day.
It is a good thing for children to ask questions about what God has done for us. And it is good when we can answer them correctly, but, of course, sometimes we make mistakes. If you really want to know for sure what God has done for us, you can find it for yourself in the Bible. Or if you can’t read, you could get a Bible and ask your father or mother to read it to you.
What if you don’t have a Bible and don’t have a mother? Then tell God your problem. He will not fail you! He is sure to answer you because He loves you very much, and He wants you to know Him and all He has done for you. You will never be in any place in the whole world where God cannot hear you and bring you an answer from His Word, the Bible. He tells us, “Before they call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear” (Isaiah 65:24). The question is, Do you really want to know? You will never in all your life learn anything more important than to know and believe what God has done for you.
If you have a Bible of your own or can borrow one, there is more of this story of the twelve stones for you to read.

The Man With the Sword

Battle plans were all made, and Captain Joshua was sure of victory over the city of Jericho. Perhaps you have felt like that too, maybe just before an exam or a contest or a race. Or perhaps you have planned a music program or a large dinner reception and everything is ready. You feel sure that everyone will do their part well, and you are expecting the event to be a great success.
As Joshua was expecting victory, he looked up and saw a man with a sword drawn in his hand! A man usually carries a sword in a sheath at his side, but this man’s sword was in his hand, up and ready for action. It took courage to go right up and face the man, but that’s what Joshua did.
Are you for us or for our enemies? asked Joshua.
The man gave a strange answer. His answer was, No. That may not seem like an answer to Joshua’s question, but if that is God’s answer, don’t find fault with Him. Just listen.
The man told Joshua, I have come as captain of the army of the Lord.
Now Joshua was already captain of the children of Israel. This may have hurt his pride and self-importance. Perhaps you can understand that too. It is natural for each of us to choose the most important place. But Joshua knew that this man was sent from God Himself and that all honor belongs to God. He also knew that hope of victory in any battle is only in God.
What does my Lord say to His servant? asked Joshua. He was prepared for battle, but he knew that God is in control of everything we do and even our very lives. God had given Joshua the battle plans. Would He change them now? Would He cause the plans to fail and spoil his life?
Perhaps you do not know our God if you think that He likes to spoil things for us. Listen to the order which God gave to Captain Joshua.
Take your shoes off your feet, for the place where you are standing is holy ground. And Joshua did exactly as he was told  .  .  .  no arguments and no further questions. He obeyed. Will you also believe without arguing that the God who is in control of all things is holy?
The next day the battle plans which God had given were carried out with total success. The only failure was one of Joshua’s own men who failed to obey God’s command. Joshua needed that lesson of God’s total control or perhaps he would have failed too.
Maybe you have made good plans and you’re all prepared, but what is all that without power? You plan on going to heaven someday, and God wants you there, but your power to go there must come from God Himself. “The Father sent the Son to be the Savior of the world” (1 John 4:14). You also know that the world crucified God’s Son. God’s response to this is simply, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved” (Acts 16:31).
Without question or argument, will you now believe on this wonderful Savior whose blood cleanses from all sin? Our God is forever holy, and His holiness can be satisfied in nothing less than His beloved Son who died for sinners. “As many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name” (John 1:12).

Sisera's Story

Our Jesus owns everything - the world, sun, moon, stars - everything. He made them all, and they all obey His commands. Now think about this: “Our Lord Jesus Christ.   .   . though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that ye through His poverty might be rich” (2 Corinthians 8:9). He gave up everything when He came to earth, knowing He was going to die on a cross so sinners could be saved from their sins and spend eternity with Him in heaven.
Sisera was not like that. He was a powerful captain, and he had nine hundred chariots of iron all ready to carry his soldiers thundering into battle. With all that power, of course he was a winner  .  .  .  or was he?
Sisera’s army was very cruel to God’s people, the children of Israel. For twenty long years Sisera and his army persecuted them, making their lives very hard.
We might wonder if God saw what was going on and if He cared. Oh yes, God saw every detail, and He very much cared. He cares for every single person who is going through a difficult time, and He cares for you too.
The children of Israel cried to God about Sisera and what he was doing to them, and God heard their cry. And sometimes this is why He sends troubles into our lives, so that we will turn to Him. Often when life is going smoothly, we forget all about God. But when a problem comes to us and we can’t figure out a solution, God always has the answer. Do you turn to Him for those answers?
God had the answer for the children of Israel too. He sent a message to a lady named Deborah, a prophetess for God’s people. We don’t have prophets and prophetesses today like they did then, because God has given us His Word, the Bible. He wants us to read it to find His wisdom and answers to our problems. He says in Psalm 119:105 that “[His] word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.”
God gave Deborah a message to give to Barak. She told him God said to get together ten thousand men and go to Mount Tabor. God was going to bring Sisera and his army to that same mountain and was going to give them into Barak’s hand. Barak believed this message from God, but he was afraid. He said to Deborah, If you come with me, I will go.
Perhaps you understand how he felt. You would like to be saved from your sins, but you don’t want to take that step alone. Don’t worry; you won’t have to. Jesus will be with you the whole way.
Deborah went with Barak to meet Sisera’s army at Mount Tabor. Sisera did not know that God had anything to do with all this, and he may have smiled as he said good-bye to his mother and went off to what he thought would be an easy victory with his nine hundred chariots plus many more soldiers.
Deborah told Barak, Go now! The Lord has given Sisera into your hand. Has not the Lord gone out before you?
The battle was short and the victory was sudden! Sisera was so afraid that he jumped out of his chariot and ran away on foot. He came puffing and thirsty to the tent of a woman named Jael. She let him come in, gave him a drink of milk, and provided him a place to sleep with a blanket to cover him.
But Sisera was still scared. He said to Jael, If somebody comes, tell them there is no man here. Then he fell into a deep sleep. Jael knew Sisera was an enemy of the Lord, and very softly she took a tent peg and a hammer and pounded the nail right through his temples into the ground.
It wasn’t long before Barak came running to catch Sisera. Jael went out to meet Barak and said, Come and see. And she showed him that Sisera lay dead in her tent.
Sisera’s mother may have watched for her victorious son, but he never came home. What a miserable ending for all his selfish pride! And his last words were telling someone to lie for his protection. He had caused twenty long years of persecution, but the end came exactly how and when God planned it.
Will you come to our wonderful Lord Jesus right now? It was for our sakes He became poor that we through His poverty might be rich. Our Jesus is raised from the dead and is far above all nations and kingdoms and powers and might and dominion and every name that is named. And still He cares about you and wants to make you His own - His very own - that you might be with Him forever. The end will come, exactly when God has planned it. Then, will you be saved forever? or lost forever?
Make your choice right now!

King of the Trees

Jotham was a young man, probably a teenager. He was the youngest son of the valiant Gideon who had freed Israel from the Midianites, and now Gideon was dead. Jotham had many brothers and one half-brother who was the proudest and most selfish of them all.
Abimelech, the proud and selfish half-brother, said that he wanted to be king. And to make sure that none of his brothers would be king, he set out to murder all his brothers at once. Jotham heard of this and escaped, but all the others were killed.
The young man did not stay in hiding. He came, not to fight for his rights, but to show the mistake of those who had followed Abimelech and made him king. Listen to Jotham’s message. There is a lesson in it for you and me.
Jotham climbed to the top of the mountain where the blessings on Israel were proclaimed. It was a blessing for Israel that he wanted and not his own personal vengeance that took him up there. And from the mountaintop he shouted this story: The trees decided to choose a king over them, so they invited the olive tree to be their ruler. But the olive tree was an oil-producer, used for both lighting and food. The olive tree questioned if it should leave its oil producing, which honors God and man, to be king over the trees.
What would you say if you were offered a promotion like that? Did you know that if you are a real Christian, the Holy Spirit is like the oil within you, and it is far more important to be shining for Jesus than to be high and important among people? The olive tree gave a wise answer.
Then the trees said to the fig tree, “Come  .  .  .  and reign over us.” But the fig tree’s business was to grow sweet, juicy fruit, and it was not wise to leave this job to take top place as king over the trees.
Is this your choice too? God wants you to grow sweet fruit for Him and for others for His sake. He tells us that the fruit He values is the fruit of the Holy Spirit. That fruit is love, joy and peace. Don’t leave this opportunity and take the top place to be important.
Then the trees asked the grapevine to be king, but the grapevine had been chosen to make wine to cheer God and man. The grapevine refused to leave its job of producing wine.
Would this be your choice too? It is more important to bring joy to the heart of God and of others than it is to have everyone cheer for you.
Finally, the trees asked the bramble bush to be king, but even the scratchy bramble had a better choice. If it were chosen to be king over the trees, they would all have to come and put their trust in its shadow. And if not, fire would come from the bramble bush and destroy the tallest cedars.
Which choice of a king over the trees was successful? Not one of them. Every choice they suggested was unwise. Choosing someone for the place of importance and power belongs to God. Jotham knew this. And it seems that the trees in our parable knew this better than some of us do. God gives places of authority to some of us too, but this is not to be snatched away from others. If God has placed you in a position of authority over others, ask Him for wisdom to use this power wisely for Him and for others. “Thine is the kingdom, O Lord, and Thou art exalted as head above all” (1 Chronicles 29:11).
“What shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?” (Mark 8:36).

Best Friends

Here is a story about two young men who were very best friends. One was the son of a king, and one was a shepherd, but their hearts were “knit together.” That means that they were such close friends that they loved each other. Maybe you have a best friend you truly love.
The young shepherd was having a hard time, because the king hated him with a heart full of jealousy and was determined to kill him. The young man spent his days on the mountainside and his nights in a cave, hiding from the jealous and hostile king.
He was not alone. There were many unhappy men who came to the mountainside with the young shepherd, shared his cave at night, and stayed right with him in his troubles.
But where was the young shepherd’s best friend - the king’s son? He was at home in the palace with his angry father. His heart was still true to his friend, but he did not go with him to the mountains. Perhaps he thought he could do more good by staying at home. If so, his thoughts were wrong, for it didn’t work out that way.
When the two young men were together, the king’s son told his dear friend that he knew that God had given the kingdom to him, and when he became king, he, the king’s son, would be next to him. That was his plan, but it is best to let God make our plans for us, and it is good to know what His plans are.
How can you know? By reading God’s Word, of course. He has it all written down for you to read, and no one can change His plans. He promises eternal life and a home in heaven with Himself forever and ever, just by trusting Him right now as your Lord and Savior. If you are wondering how that could be so wonderfully true, just read John’s Gospel and see!
And if you really do belong to Him, don’t choose the company of those who hate Him. You might make very good plans with that sort of company, but God will not make those plans work out. Choose God’s company now - right now even when others don’t want Him. Let Him plan your future, and wait to see what He will do.
Do you know the names of these two young men in our story? The young shepherd was David, and the king’s son was Jonathan. They were very best friends, and they loved each other, but David’s love was greater. That’s like the love of Jesus; it’s always greater than ours. He loved us all the way to the death of the cross.
There was a dreadful battle one day, and the king and his sons were killed - yes, Jonathan died too. This was the time when David became king, but he was full of deep sadness because he had lost his best friend Jonathan. If only Jonathan had joined that unhappy crowd of men that stayed with David, he might not have lost his life and caused David such deep sadness.
What choice are you making today? If Jesus is your Savior, are you choosing what the world calls the “good life” in the company of the haters of Christ? If so, you make sad the heart of the One who loves you more than anyone. Choose Jesus. Choose to follow Him now, even if the world’s palace is nicer than the protection of the cave, and you will see what happens when He comes again in glory to claim you for His own. He wants your company, not only in heaven, but now - right now.
“Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him” (1 John 2:15). “I am a companion of all them that fear Thee, and of them that keep Thy precepts” (Psalm 119:63).

The Young Man's Problem

“Come on  .  .  .  keep up with the crowd!”
Maybe you have felt that you have the same problem too. Is somebody always saying, “Faster, faster!” or “Hurry up!” if you lag behind a little?
That’s how this young man of Egypt felt that day. He was a servant to an Amalekite, and it had been an exciting day for the Amalekites. They had robbed David’s city of Ziklag while he and his men were gone. They took the families as prisoners and finished up by burning the whole place down. Maybe the young man enjoyed the adventure, but they all knew they had no right to do what they had done and that David and his men would be angry when they found out. They also knew that they must get away fast! This was no time for stragglers!
But the young Egyptian did not like the running away part, because he felt sick. And finally he was just too sick to keep up with the Amalekites any longer, so they left him behind.
At the same time, David had some men who couldn’t travel any longer as they chased after the Amalekites who had taken their families as prisoners. David left those men beside the brook Besor where they could safely rest until he could return for them again. But not so with the Amalekites. They said, Just leave that Egyptian in the field. Who cares about him?
Maybe you know that feeling, when you’ve been left out because you couldn’t keep up with the gang. So who cares?
God cares. He sent this problem into your life so that you could learn about His loving heart. He understands the heartache, and He knows the cause. The trouble with that young Egyptian was that he was on the wrong side! He was not on God’s side, and God is the One who wins, because all the earth is His. He sent His beloved Son to die for sinners like you and me, because He cares!
The young Egyptian was left in the field without a drop of water or a crumb of food. Three days and three nights he lay in the field, until the sound of footsteps alerted him. David’s men had found him, and they brought him to David. They saw that his immediate problem was hunger and thirst. And they quickly gave him bread, water, raisins and figs, and then he felt much better.
David asked at once who he belonged to. And the young Egyptian told the whole truth, that he was an Egyptian and a servant to an Amalekite. He told the complete story of what they had done to the city of Ziklag, even though he knew how invaders were treated.
Can you bring me down to this company? asked David. Yes, he could do this, but he wanted to be sure that David knew that he was now on David’s side. Promise not to give me back to my old master, he pleaded.
Our God will never give you back to the slavery of the world’s service once you belong to Him. Never! Do you think that when Jesus has bought you with His precious blood shed on the cross that He will ever let you go? If you think so, then you don’t know Him. Read the Bible daily and see how much He loves you. “Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us, and sent His Son [Jesus] to be the propitiation [satisfaction] for our sins” (1 John 4:10).
It is not hard to guess the rest of the story. David found the Amalekites having a party with the stolen stuff, and he rescued all their beloved wives and children and everything that had been stolen, and he destroyed the wicked invaders.
Our God has not changed. He is still waiting for you to know His loving heart. There is no need to continue to serve your old master, Satan, whom you have tried so hard to please. This world and Satan have nothing to give you except that which has been stolen from the Creator. Our God is over everything, and our Jesus is King of kings and Lord of lords. He lovingly still holds out His nail-pierced hands to you. Will you switch sides and come to Him now?

Stolen Hearts

If you give something to me, can I be blamed for stealing it from you? Well, maybe so. If something is gotten from you by lies and false promises, that is stealing-the worst kind of stealing. Perhaps if I tell you this story of how hearts were stolen, it will help you to understand. It is one of God’s stories from the Bible, so we know it is true.
King David had a son named Absalom who was very good-looking. He had thick, black hair which he cut just once a year. He was so proud of it that he weighed the hair that was cut off.
King David had many problems, but he was a man who trusted God, even when he was a teenager and killed Goliath with a stone from his sling. He believed and listened to God who made heaven and earth, and that’s why he said, “I will fear no evil: for Thou art with me” (Psalm 23:4). Many times the Bible says about David, “The Lord was with him.”
But Absalom did not want the company of his father who trusted God. He wanted his own way.
The city of Jerusalem had a gate which was a busy place where many people passed through on foot or with donkeys carrying loads. Absalom decided to meet the townspeople there and greet them warmly with handshakes and kisses. He told them that he was much better at problem-solving than his father, and his decisions would always be right. This is what he said: “Oh that I were made judge in the land, that every man [who has any problem] might come unto me, and I would do him justice!” And so Absalom stole the hearts of the people of Israel with his lies and false promises. “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? I the Lord search the heart” (Jeremiah 17:9-10).
Most of the people of Israel believed what Absalom had told them and wanted him to be their king. Of course, this led to a revolt against King David. King David had to flee from Jerusalem with his faithful friends, and Absalom took over the place of power. Absalom asked advice of his friends and then set out to lead an army against King Da-vid, his father.
But Absalom’s army did not have the Lord with them. They were scattered all over the country and many of them were lost in the woods. Absalom himself rode under a big oak tree where his head got caught in the thick branches. The mule he was riding on kept going and left him caught in the tree. There he hung, between heaven and earth, and the Lord was not with him. An officer in King David’s army came and put him to death with three darts through his heart.
Is this the end of Absalom’s story? Yes, as far as his time on earth goes, but he still has eternity to face. He did not want God while he was here, and he will spend eternity without Him. It will be an eternity without light or love or happiness.
Is there any hope for a thief to go to heaven? Read on.
Perhaps you have heard of another thief who hung between heaven and earth. He hung on a cross beside the Lord Jesus, and he died there when his legs were broken. This thief wanted the company of the Lord Jesus, and he got more and better than he asked for. He is with Jesus now in heaven, because Jesus forgave his sins, including stealing, and he will be in that happy place for all eternity.
Absalom did not keep his promises, but God always keeps His, whether they are for blessing or for judgment. Whose promises are you trusting, right now?
“Being fully persuaded that, what He had promised, He was able also to perform” (Romans 4:21).

The Little Boy Prince

This is the story of Abijah, the little boy prince in the land of Israel. Since this is one of God’s stories, we may be sure that it is true. But we know only as much as God is pleased to tell us in the Bible.
The palace in which young Abijah lived was probably rich and beautiful, but it was certainly very wicked. His father, King Jeroboam, seems to have been rather afraid of God and jealous of the power which such a God would have over his people. In his jealousy, King Jeroboam made two calves of gold and set them up for the people to worship, one at each end of his kingdom. This trap was successful because the people did not have so far to go, and they could worship these golden idols and still live in sin. The children of Israel preferred to forget what God had really said: “Thou shalt worship no other god.  .  .  .  Thou shalt make thee no molten gods [gods made of melted metal]” (Exodus 34:14,17). Even today many people think religion is all right if they do not have to obey God.
Would you fit right into King Jeroboam’s family, those who did not want to obey God? Abijah didn’t. Young as he was, he had somehow heard of the God of Israel. God had already brought the children of Israel out from the slavery of Egypt and given them wonderful riches in the land of Israel and taught them to worship Him with joy. I don’t know how much young Abijah knew, but his heart said yes to God who had been so kind and good to His people. Even if all the rest said no to the true God, there was something in this boy’s heart that said yes, and God saw it and heard it and it was of great value to Him.
But big trouble came into the royal household. King Jeroboam was given the bad news that his young son was very sick. Now doctors can be very helpful for sick children, but there are times when things get so bad that we all feel that all we can do is pray. But King Jeroboam was not a praying man. Where could he turn in his trouble?
He remembered the prophet of God who had told him the truth long ago. Maybe the same old man could tell him if his sick son would get better. He decided to send the queen to this old man to find out. So he called in the queen and told her to take him a present of some loaves of bread and a jar of honey, but not to wear clothes like a queen and not to tell him who she was.
Now why did he say that? Did he think the prophet was just a fortune-teller and could be fooled into not knowing it was the queen? Listen! If you want to receive a message from the Word of God, the Bible, or if you want to speak to God, you must remember that He is the God who made you. He not only knows your future, but He controls your future. He is the One who decides.
So the queen wore everyday clothes and went to see the old prophet. He was blind anyway so what she wore made no difference, and he paid no attention to her gift. He greeted her when he heard her footsteps coming. “Come in, thou wife of Jero-boam..   .   . I am sent to [you] with heavy tidings [bad news].” And she hadn’t even said a word to him yet.
Actually, she had been sent to him, but he said, “I am sent to you”! That is just what God does, if you would only listen to Him. He is sending a message to you right now, and He is sending it because He cares. It is a message of bad news, but you can’t escape bad news anyway. Life is like that. But God’s message to you isn’t only bad news about your sins; it includes important good news. His message is of love, forgiveness, joy and peace, because His Son Jesus died for sinners. If you try to cover up the truth of your sins and offer Him a present of the good things you’ve done, His message to you is heavy and hopeless because you are not being honest with Him.
The prophet’s message to the queen was long and full of the judgment of God. It included the honorable death of her young son and the awful and disgraceful death of the king and all his family. “When [your] feet enter into the city, the child shall die,” he told her.
We can’t help but wonder why she did not stay outside the city, giving up the royal palace to save her son’s young life. It all depended on her.
But I have a Savior who loved me enough to leave heaven. He came down and lived in poverty and died on a cross outside the city of Jerusalem for me. And my heart, like that little prince’s, says yes to Him. What does your heart say?
But giving up the royal life was too much for the queen to do. She returned to her city, and God in His mercy allowed her feet to reach the doorstep of the royal palace before the child died. She lost her son, and they will be separated for all eternity. The young prince had gone to heaven, that happy place where princes and beggars are welcomed home if their hearts have truly responded to the Savior as God has shown Him to us. Could you answer Him as that young prince did? Will you say yes to Him right now?
“As many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God” (John 1:12).

What the Ravens Did

They were big black ravens - birds that are bigger than crows, with almost the same coloring and with the same hoarse “Caw, caw!”
Have you ever heard them? They are smart birds and soon learn the ways of men. They can steal the clothespins off your clothesline. Like crows, they like small objects that are shiny, and, if you’re not careful, they will spread their great wings and fly away with that pretty ring that you set down for a moment. They will even sit on top of the funniest scarecrow when they find it is harmless.
Why do most people dislike ravens? Because they like to eat the eggs of songbirds and will quickly peck into a dozen ripe apples without really eating one. And why does God call them unclean birds? Because they also feed on dead creatures killed on the road. Anything will do for a hungry raven.
In this Bible story, the ravens were hungry. There had been no rain, and so there was no ripe fruit or grain in the fields. Maybe there were animals who had died of starvation, and that would be food for ravens, but the pickings were poor.
God cared about this matter of no crops, and He could have sent rain, but He didn’t. God wanted the people to look up to Him. Their looking only to themselves was self-pleasing and sin, including all the sorrow that goes with it. God says, “Look unto Me  .  .  .  all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else” (Isaiah 45:22). God did not give ravens the power to think about their Creator, but you can. Will you look up to God now? All our supplies come from God Himself.
Where Elijah lived they had no rain either and nothing to eat. But Elijah knew God, and he had love in his heart for God’s people. He suffered from hunger just as they did.
God said to Elijah, “Hide thyself by the brook Cherith,” and Elijah obeyed. There was water there, and he drank. But what about dinner? God had also told him that the ravens would bring him food, so it was no surprise to see those great black wings flapping in the sky as the ravens brought him bread and meat in the morning and more bread and meat in the evening.
Ravens don’t act like that, but God can do anything. He has ordered that birds should fly from warm southern countries to make their nests in the north. So they come, every year, without fail. The ravens obeyed Him too. They brought that food to Elijah every day, without fail. That’s how powerful our God is.
Did you know that the same God sent His Son to die for you? And while He was here on earth, the heavens opened for God to say, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:17). And not only that, but because Jesus died for us sinners, God can take you right up to where Jesus is in heaven and make you happy to be there! That’s how powerful and how loving our God is.
The ravens had no thought of refusing what God told them to do. God did not give them the power to make a choice. But you can. You are a sinner who has sinned against God, but He still loves you and gave His Son Jesus to be the Savior for you. He offers you forgiveness of your sins and eternal life through the death and shed blood of His beloved Son. Will you accept Jesus as your Savior? Or will you refuse Him and suffer the eternal consequences for your choice? “I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life” (Deuteronomy 30:19).
Elijah enjoyed his food until the brook dried up, and then God took care of him another way. If you want to know how, read the next story.

King Ahab's Plan

It was a very great battle that day. Army fought against army, with chariots and cavalry and foot soldiers in a fierce display and strong muscles pulling bowstrings and shooting deadly arrows against the enemy.
The enemy’s first purpose was to get the king, but in this case there were two kings, King Ahab and King Jehoshaphat. These two kings had a pact to fight together against their enemy. I think King Ahab must have been afraid, because he said to King Jehoshaphat, I will disguise myself, but you put on your robes. Probably King Ahab was doubly afraid, because God had told him that he would die in this battle, and he was not planning to let that happen. He was going to make sure that he was not the one who would die. He thought his little plan was going to change the word of God.
It was a good plan, and perhaps you have a good plan too. You have heard that God will punish unbelieving sinners in hell, but you are not planning to let this happen to you. You have your own plan, even though God says, “Be not deceived; God is not mocked” (Galatians 6:7).
It happened just as King Ahab had expected. The enemy swarmed around King Jehoshaphat, who was wearing royal robes. But that king was a true believer, and when he saw his danger, he cried out to the Lord, and God helped him and caused the enemy to leave him alone.
I suppose King Ahab watched all this. But just then one of the enemy archers drew his bow, just on a guess, and that arrow flew straight into a joint in King Ahab’s armor  .  .  .  and it went deep.
Take me out of the battle, King Ahab cried to his chariot driver. I am badly wounded!
For the rest of the day, King Ahab stayed where he could see the fighting, but just as the sun was setting, he died.
Can you change God’s word? Never! Is there no hope for a sinner? Can a poor sinner be saved from an eternity in hell before he leaves this world?
The Son of God, who is called the Word, has come into our world as a baby, and as a man He has died to take the sinner’s place. All God’s judgment against sin rolled over Him. He loves you and will be your Savior, if you will come. God has written His Word in a book, the Bible, and He has also sent His Son as the living Word to show you all that is in His heart.
Yes, there is hell, and without Christ you cannot escape it, because His Word is forever unchangeable. But there is heaven for those who will admit that they are sinners and are sorry for their sins and will believe that Christ died on the cross for them. “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believ-eth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him” (John 3:36).
Jesus loves you and wants you. Will you come?

Guess What the King Did

That is very hard to guess, but I won’t tell you the answer yet. The king’s name was Hezekiah, and he was twenty-five years old when he was made king. His father, Ahaz, was a very wicked king who kept losing battles and trying all over to get help. He gave presents to the enemy king -all sorts of valuable things from the house of the Lord and from his own house, but it was all of no use. The enemy only gave him more trouble, and he died without salvation. The country was in bad shape.
That was when Hezekiah became king. The first thing he did was open the doors of the house of the Lord and repair them. Then he prepared the priests for the worship of the Lord.
Now that was a very good start. The Lord should come first in the life of every good king, and He should come first in your life too. Today we can’t really come into the holy presence of the Lord the way Hezekiah did, because there isn’t any golden temple to go to and no altar for animal sacrifices. But God tells us that since Jesus died we don’t need animal sacrifices. We can now come into God’s presence by the blood of Jesus. He became the perfect sacrifice for sins on the cross. God will accept Jesus as the sacrifice for your sins if you will accept Him as your sacrifice.
But Hezekiah had his troubles. The king of Assyria who came against him was a very bold and boastful king. He boasted to the people, “I’ve conquered everybody else, and I can conquer you. Don’t listen to Hezekiah. Don’t let him tell you to trust in the Lord.”
But here’s what Hezekiah did, and this is the answer that you could not guess. Hezekiah trusted the Lord! In fact, he trusted the Lord more than any king before him or after him. God records this in the Bible, and it’s still there in 2 Kings 18:5, after 3000 years. God must have valued it a lot.
And God values it if you will trust Him. Trust Him right over the top of your troubles. Trust Him because His Word says, “The Son of God  .  .  .  loved me, and gave Himself for me” (Galatians 2:20). Trust Him because He has promised that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, and what God says is the truth!
The king of Assyria boasted that no god could save anyone from his power - “and how much less shall your God deliver you out of [my] hand?” And he wrote letters against the Lord. But Hezekiah knew what to do with those letters. He spread them out before the Lord, and he and Isaiah prayed and cried to the Lord about the problem.
Do you know what happened next? The Lord sent an angel who killed all the mighty men and all the leaders and captains in the camp of the enemy. And the enemy king returned to his own land defeated and ashamed.
But the enemy king didn’t seem to learn anything by his defeat. He went back to the house of his evil god, and his very own sons took his life there with their swords.
It’s a sad story, but the best thing to learn and remember is that Hezekiah trusted the Lord, and that is exactly what He wants you to do too. God has told us that we will have problems in this sinful world, but the devil and all his demons cannot defeat anyone who is simply trusting the Lord. “Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and not be afraid” (Isaiah 12:2). This is a good verse to memorize.

The King's Treasurer

Who was Azmaveth? First of all, he was one of King David’s mighty men. He did not become mighty by muscle-building exercises. He was mighty because of how he chose to use his great strength and courage. When it was time to fight King David’s battles, there were no bombs and guns; they used swords and spears which required strong arms. And often they marched all night before a battle with no resting-time. Azmaveth was ready for all this because he was a mighty man.
Maybe some of you are strong too, but most of you are ordinary. You don’t expect to ever be a gold medal winner. But Azma-veth was more than a mighty man - he was King David’s man. He marched ahead with loyalty in his heart to King David, and no fear or offer of money could turn him any other way.
Azmaveth had another special honor. He had charge of the king’s treasures, and those treasures were not small. King David had won them in battle. You may read about the gold and silver and beautiful jewels in 1 Chronicles 29:2. This was a great responsibility for Azmaveth, but he was strong and faithful so that King David lost nothing.
What a high honor it is to be one of God’s treasurers. Would you like that honor? God’s treasures are given to His children, and His treasures can never be lost. Let’s check over some of them. They are found in the first chapter of Ephesians, and I will list a few of them for you.
First, we are chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world.
Then, we are adopted into God’s family.
We are accepted in God’s beloved Son.
We are redeemed by His precious blood.
If you are one of God’s children, these treasures are yours. He purchased these priceless treasures with the lifeblood of His only begotten Son, and they belong to every one of His children. Their value never goes up and down with the market, and their colors never fade. We might forget them and fail to enjoy them, but they can never be taken away or lost. Are these treasures important to you? Do you value them?
Perhaps we should close the treasure chest because we might be showing them to someone who is not one of God’s children. Are you one whose fun and friends have turned you away from God’s treasures? You aren’t interested? If so, the enemy is pleased, because he wants to keep you from having these treasures. This is not a spear-and-sword battle; it’s an even more serious battle for your own priceless soul, because God dearly loves you and wants you for Himself. It is because Satan hates God that he wants to keep you from having the treasures that God wants to give you.
Here is something amazing to remember about our Lord Jesus Christ. “Though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that ye through His poverty might be rich” (2 Corinthians 8:9). Are you rich with God’s treasures? If not, He wants to give them to you now. Accept Jesus as your Savior and you will be rich with God’s treasures.

The Story of the Little Cake

Elijah had obeyed God and stayed by the brook and the ravens brought food to him. Because there had been no rain, he stayed there until the brook became a trickle, and soon there was no water left to drink. He might have made a little plan for himself, but he waited for God’s plan, and that’s the wisest thing to do for every decision we face in life.
God told him, Arise, go to Zare-phath, for I have commanded a widow there to feed you.
Now this did not seem like a good plan. Poor widows in a time of famine can’t feed anybody. But God can, and with Him it was no problem. It is impossible for a person to give you the breath of life, and it is impossible for a person to take away your sin. But God can! He has given His Son to take our sin upon Himself when He died on Calvary’s cross. The only problem is in the sinner who will not come to Him. Won’t you come and see?
Elijah went to Zarephath, and there was the widow at the city gate, stooping to gather a few dry sticks, and I’m sure there were plenty of dry sticks around. Please, called Elijah, may I have a little water in a cup? And the widow went at once to get it for him, though I’m sure water was scarce. Bring me a bit of bread in your hand, he added.
As the Lord your God lives, she said, I don’t have a cake, but only a handful of flour in a barrel and a little oil in a jar. I am gathering two sticks to make a little fire and one little pancake so that my son and I may eat it, and then we will die.
She had very little. But Elijah had a promise from God, and the widow had faith to believe it, and that made her very rich.
Elijah told her, Go and make me a little cake first and bring it to me, and after that make one for you and your son. And now came the promise: The bin of flour shall not be used up, and neither shall the jar of oil go dry, until the day that the Lord sends rain upon the earth.
Making a cake out of flour and oil was something that she did every day for herself and her son, but now will she take her last handful of flour and the last of her oil to make a cake for God’s messenger? Would God’s promise hold true that she would not run out of either flour or oil?
Can you and I do the same? Can we make our everyday duties an act of true faith in the God who is in control of all things?
Yes, the promise came true - each day there was flour in the bin and oil in the jar. The family’s needs for food were supplied one day at a time, until the Lord sent rain upon the earth.
This promise was for one widow only, and maybe her neighbors went hungry, but God’s promise today is for anybody. God says, “Whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely” (Revelation 22:17), and the word “whosoever” includes you. But are you choosing to leave yourself out because you don’t believe God’s promise?
Now the widow had one more thing to learn. God had another miracle that only He is able to do. Her son became sick, very sick, until he stopped breathing. Who could she turn to for help?
She called to the man of God - Elijah. She knew she was a sinner, and now that death had come to her son, her conscience made her afraid. It was God who had power not only to keep her flour and oil from running out, but to restore the life of her son too. It is good for us to remember this.
Why had this happened? Elijah was puzzled too, but he did not turn away. Give me your son, said Elijah, and he carried the child up to his room and laid him on his own bed. He stretched himself out upon the child three times and cried to the Lord, O Lord my God, I pray, let this child’s soul come back to life.
Yes, the Lord heard Elijah’s prayer. The child’s soul came back to life, and Elijah took him to his mother.
The widow said, Now I know that you are a man of God, and the word of the Lord that you speak is true.
The Bible tells us about an even more wonderful resurrection. Our Jesus rose from the dead! And when He returns to give the great shout in the sky, those who belong to Him, whether dead or alive, will rise at once to meet Him in the air.
Do you believe that the Lord Jesus rose from the dead, and if you are His, that you also will rise to meet Him? “Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures.  .  .  .  He was buried, and.   .   . He rose again the third day according to the scriptures” (1 Corinthians 15:3-4).

No King Uzziah!

Uzziah was only sixteen when he became king over God’s great nation of Israel. Just a teenager, but he was full of ambition for the success of his nation.
He made wonderful advances in agriculture-deep wells for water, fields for grape vines and pasture for cattle. This was his specialty, and he loved it. The nation of Israel prospered.
King Uzziah was also concerned about the defense of Israel. He had a large, powerful army which knew how to use machines for fighting, invented by skillful men. In all this, he received his strength and wisdom from God, who helped him marvelously until he was strong.
If you read this story in the Old Testament, you will see that this happened before God sent His Son Jesus to earth to die for that nation. God loved His people then, and He loves them now, even though they shouted against Jesus, “Crucify Him, crucify Him” (Luke 23:21).
When King Uzziah went about his business, he saw the beautiful temple every day in which God had planned for His people to worship Him. There were no seats in that temple - no sitting down - because the animal sacrifices were never finished. There were priests wearing special robes who killed and burned the animals on the altar outside the temple door, just as God had instructed them to do. And inside the temple was the beautiful, golden incense altar where the priests burned incense, lifting sweet odors to the God of heaven. Only the priests were allowed inside, just as God had instructed. God doesn’t need locks on His doors to keep people out.
King Uzziah’s heart was bursting with his fame and success. It seemed as if there was nothing he could not do. Since God had helped him so much, he felt that he could go right in and offer sweet incense inside the temple. Why not? Who could say no to the king?
God could. And He can say no to you too, no matter who you are or what robes you wear. You may sing His praises very sweetly, but are you really fit to be there, worshipping before Him? God has no locks on His doors to keep you out, but God is God. You cannot trespass into His presence - you must follow His instructions.
The priests had a right to go in because they were born to that position, and they were cleansed according to God’s order by the blood of a clean animal in sacrifice. If you wish to go into the presence of God, are you born again? Have you been cleansed by the blood of Christ? Jesus said, “No man cometh unto the Father, but by Me” (John 14:6).
“Go out!” cried the priests to King Uzziah. But this made the king angry. They could not order him to  .  .  .  and suddenly the great king realized that God had struck him with leprosy in his forehead. The priests hurried him out of the temple, and he was in a rush to get out himself. But he could not go back to his palace; he had to go to an isolated house, for he was now a leper—a person having that terrible disease that was incurable and that would spread to others. Uzziah learned his lesson, but it was a hard lesson, and there could be no return to his former life as a reigning king.
Will you wait to learn your lesson until there is no return and you stand before the great white throne? Then you will be in the presence of God with no blood to cleanse you from your sins and no second chance. Or will you learn now to come to God through the Lord Jesus Christ who gave His precious blood to cleanse you from every sin?
Jesus says, “Him that cometh to Me I will in no wise cast out” (John 6:37).

The Great Stone Wall Part 1

Once there was a great king with a very long name and a huge sense of how important he was. His name was Artaxerxes. He was such a great king that he was in danger of being poisoned by his enemies. Many kings back in Bible times had an important servant called a cupbearer. It was an honor to be the king’s cupbearer, and his responsibility was to make sure there was no poison in the king’s cup before he presented it to the king. Nehemiah was King Artaxerxes’ faithful and important cupbearer.
No servant was ever allowed to be sad in this king’s presence. But one day Nehemiah heard some very bad news, and he was brokenhearted. He couldn’t smile, not even for the great king he served.
The news Nehemiah heard was that the wall of God’s chosen city, Jerusalem, was broken down and the gates were burned with fire. This city was where Nehemiah had been born and raised, and he just couldn’t keep the sadness from showing in his face.
Why are you sad? asked the king. You are not sick, so you must be sad at heart.
Nehemiah was terribly afraid, but he told the king about the broken wall and burned gates of Jerusalem.
Do you have a request? asked the king.
This was a big question, bigger than Nehemiah knew how to answer. But he was used to bringing his problems to the God of heaven, and now he quickly prayed to God before he answered the king.
Then Nehemiah answered, Please send me to Jerusalem to rebuild the city.
For how long? asked the king.
Nehemiah set a certain amount of time, but he needed more than just time. He asked for letters of introduction to the governors and also for timber to build homes and gates. The king said yes to everything, and Nehemiah and his helpers were soon on their way to Jerusalem.
You see, when God makes a plan, He puts it into the heart of the right man to say yes. Why should we be upset with the man who seems to say no? If it is God’s plan, no one can change it!
When Nehemiah arrived in Jerusalem, he kept his reason for being there deep in his heart. He went out one night in the dark to see if the city was really all that bad. Yes, it was that bad or worse. He had started out riding a donkey, but there was so much rubbish that the donkey couldn’t find a way to walk through it. It was time to clear away the rubbish and start building!
Nehemiah had willing helpers, and each one is carefully recorded in the Bible, along with the work that each one did. There were goldsmiths and merchants, the pharmacist’s son and priests, and even girls helped. A stone wall around a city is not easy to build, and there were heavy, wooden gates with locks and bars to set up, and there was no power machinery to work with.
Building the wall was hard enough, but that was not all. An enemy of the Jews named Sanballat heard about it, and he was angry! Why? Well, if you are really doing God’s work, Satan, the great enemy of God, will be angry and will stir up trouble. And Sanballat was one of Satan’s servants. But remember, if God wants the work done, nothing can stop it! “We are more than conquerors through Him that loved us” (Romans 8:37).
It is good to be a conqueror, but how can you be more than conqueror? Here is the answer. Because of Satan’s hatred, you can be better off than you were before - Satan tries to stop the Lord’s work, but he ends up helping it instead!
Do you understand how this can happen? I’ll explain. When Jesus was on earth, He went about doing good and healing everyone who came to Him, making it plain that religion was not enough. Satan hated all this, and he stirred up the people against Jesus until at last they crucified Him.
Did Satan win? NO, NO! Jesus had the victory! He rose from the dead, and now He is the Savior who died for sinners, and Satan is forever defeated!
I have accepted Jesus as my Savior. Whose side are you on?
We will tell you more about Nehemiah and that wall in our next story.

The Great Stone Wall Part 2

The volunteer helpers were hard at work rebuilding the broken wall and burned gates. They were lifting heavy stones and hoisting huge wooden gates into place. It was hard work, but it was made much harder by enemies who did not like what they were doing.
Sanballat, one of their enemies, mocked them, saying the builders were feeble, and one of Sanballat’s friends said the stone wall was so poor that a fox could break it down. If that were true, why did it bother them? They planned to make more trouble - to come down secretly to kill the builders.
But Nehemiah knew what to do with his problems: “Hear, O our God; for we are despised,” he prayed.
So we built the wall, and the entire wall was joined together up to half its height, for the people had a mind to work. The wall was joined, but the work was not finished, and the enemy’s work was not finished either. In fact, they were furious and made evil plans!
Look, they said, the workers are tired. We’ll sneak in and kill them, and they’ll never know till it’s too late.
Ten times they tried these scary tactics, and it is true that the workers became discouraged. But Nehemiah said, Don’t be afraid of them. Remember the Lord who is great and terrible.
We have far more reason than they had to remember the Lord. Yes, He is great and terrible, but we also know that the Son of God, Jesus our Savior, loves us and has died for us, and God sent the Holy Spirit to live within us. If it gave them courage to remember how great and terrible the Lord is, we have a much greater reason to trust Him and take courage!
Sanballat tried another trick since his first one didn’t work. The people are planning a rebellion, he said, because Nehemiah is trying to be their king! In fact, Sanballat even hired a man in Jerusalem to tell Nehemiah, Come and hide in the temple and shut the doors, to save your life!
No, said Nehemiah.
None of the enemies’ tricks really worked, because it was God’s work and could not be stopped. The wall was properly finished, and then their enemies admitted, This work was done by their God.
That was not the end of the problems for Jerusalem, and it is not the end of problems for you and me. It is good to remember that Jesus said, “In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). You see, God has promised us troubles, and He keeps His promises  .  .  .  all of them. His promise of everlasting life through Jesus Christ our Lord is unbreakable too. But remember, this promise and gift of everlasting life is only yours if you take it, through Jesus Christ our Lord! “The wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 6:23).

The Oxen Were Loaded

Yes, the oxen were loaded that day, and they were tired. They probably had been pulling the load all day, because oxen are strong beasts, and it takes a lot for their strong and steady legs to become really tired.
What load did they carry? Let’s look up the answer in Isaiah 46:1-2: “Their idols were upon the beasts, and upon the cattle: [their] carriages were heavy laden; they are a burden to the weary beast. They stoop, they bow down together; they could not deliver the burden.” Those tired oxen were carrying a load of idols, perhaps for moving or perhaps for a parade. Of course, it was a very valuable load, for what is more important in anybody’s life than their idols?
The idols were probably handmade and hand painted and maybe mended and repainted. Idols must be kept in repair, you know, so that they can be faithfully worshipped. Not very many people can live without idols. They are very important, even if they keep you busy and tired and never satisfied.
Do you have some idols in your life? I can think of a few things that I know are idols to some people. Sometimes we call these things “gods,” because they take up so much time and money and work that other things are pushed aside and neglected. See if you can name a few, maybe even in your own life.
Every country has different gods. In Babylon long ago, they were images made of wood or stone, and in the country where you live now, you might think your gods are much more worthy of your time and work. But there’s one thing all gods have in common - they don’t love you. You must buy them with money and time and energy, but they don’t love you. They will never satisfy you, and they will never last beyond death. You must leave them all behind, and most of them you will stop enjoying long before you leave this life.
Is there a God that you don’t have to carry? Is there a God whose approval you don’t have to win? Yes. I have a God who carries me, and He lives in heaven! My God is the One who made me and loves me, and He says, “Even to your old age I am He; and even to hoar [white] hairs I will carry you: I have made, and I will bear; even I will carry, and will deliver you” (Isaiah 46:4).
Would you like to have a God like that? You may ask, What can I do to earn His approval? Nothing. “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners” (1 Timothy 1:15). If you know that you are a sinner, then you know that God loves you and is ready to save you. And He will be responsible to carry you home; you don’t have to carry Him.
Do you want this God of love forever and ever? Or do you look at the gods that seem more important to you, and will you struggle to give your life to those gods that do not love you and cannot save your soul? You are sure to lose them in the end and to lose your soul too.
“Look unto Me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else” (Isaiah 45:22).

Jeremiah Tells the Truth

The great city of Jerusalem had lost something, and they could not find it because they did not look for it in the right place. They had lost the favor of God. In fact, they had thrown it away as if it was worth nothing.
We have lost the favor of God too, because we have sinned against Him. Do you know where to find God’s favor? The Bible gives us the answer - right in the strong, loving arms of Jesus! His death on the cross, where He shed His precious blood to wash away our sins, is the reason why God can give to you and me something much better than what we lost. Don’t keep on looking for God’s favor in the wrong place.
In today’s story, Jerusalem was in trouble. The city was under siege - that means that the great army of the king of Babylon was camping all around the city. The people inside the city walls were starving hungry, and no food came in.
King Zedekiah, the king of Jerusalem, was a people-pleaser. It seems that he listened to anything and tried to please everybody.
The prophet Jeremiah was not a people-pleaser. He listened to what God said, and he told the truth no matter what people said. Jeremiah was as hungry as the rest of them - maybe more so - but still he told the truth as God told it to him.
Jeremiah’s message from God was that Jerusalem would NOT be saved. He told the people that the king of Babylon would destroy them. The only way they would live was to surrender to the king of Babylon. But the people hated this message. King Zedekiah may have believed it, but he had no courage to do what Jeremiah said.
Do you have the courage to say, “I believe that God’s message is true; I know that God will punish this sinful world that deserves it; I will take Jesus as my Savior right now”?
Most people hated Jeremiah’s message, and they got the king’s permission to put him in prison. They chose the worst part of the king’s dungeons - a dark hole with muck at the bottom. They dropped him down into the hole with ropes, and his feet sank in the oozy mud.
But God cares what happens to His messengers. King Zedekiah had an Ethiopian helper named Ebed-melech who believed and trusted God. When he heard that Jeremiah was in that terrible dungeon, he went to the king and said, “My lord the king, these men have done evil. [Jeremiah will] die for hunger  .  .  .  for there is no more bread in the city.”
The king told Ebed-melech to take “thirty men  .  .  .  and take up Jeremiah the prophet out of the dungeon.”
The kind, Ethiopian helper did more than he was commanded. He remembered how thin Jeremiah was, and he got some ropes and then searched for old rags to pad the ropes to make it softer for Jeremiah’s armpits as they pulled him out. This did not give Jeremiah liberty, but it put him in a much more pleasant place and assured his small bread supply every day.
Then the king called for a secret interview with Jeremiah. He told the king the very same message he had told him before-that judgment on Jerusalem was sure to come. Jerusalem had sinned and God MUST punish sin.
“I am afraid,” said the king.
Perhaps you are afraid too. If you don’t know Jesus the Savior of sinners, you should be afraid. But listen right now to this message from the Word of God: “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners” (1 Timothy 1:15). If you come to Him now, you will find His loving promise to be true: “Him that cometh to Me I will in no wise cast out” (John 6:37). The ones who are lost are those who will not come to Him now.
What happened to Ebed-melech? God promised him that he would be saved from the judgment which fell upon the city. Why? Because he was kind to Jeremiah? No. God said, “Because thou hast put thy trust in ME.”
It is not your good deeds that will save you, but it is your trust in God that makes the difference for all eternity. No good deeds could ever wipe out the sins of the past, but the precious blood of Jesus is enough to make you spotless when you stand before the throne of God. Will you trust Him for this?
Was King Zedekiah captured after all? Yes, he surely was. You may read that sad story in Jeremiah 39 in the Bible.
Jeremiah’s life was spared. God has special purposes and plans for those who trust and obey Him. We can only say, as Jesus Himself said long ago, “Come and see” (John 1:39).

The King Could Not Sleep

The great King Darius could not get to sleep because his head was full of worried thoughts. Maybe you have a bad night like that sometimes, and if you do, I hope you know how to pray. If you tell God your thoughts, you can be sure He is listening, for our God never slumbers or sleeps, and He is always listening. “Behold, the Lord’s  .  .  .  ear [is not] heavy, that it cannot hear” (Isaiah 59:1).
I am sure King Darius had a very comfortable bed, but sleep would not come. His servants probably asked him if he wanted a midnight snack or if he wanted some soft music to help him fall asleep.
No, nothing would help. The trouble was that the great king wanted to change his mind. But he had signed the law, and he could not erase what he had done.
You and I can’t erase things that we have done either. Maybe you sinned yesterday, and today you wish you could wipe it out. But what you did is written in the books of heaven, and you cannot remove it.
Is there any hope for you? Oh, yes! Jesus knew all about you and your sins long ago, and He came into the world to save sinners. He died and shed His precious blood for a very special reason: “The blood of Jesus Christ [God’s] Son cleanseth us from all sin” (1 John 1:7). However, if you are not a sinner, you cannot be saved. But if you are a sinner and are ready to tell God this and to accept His Son as your very own Savior, then your sins will be washed away and you will belong to Him forever. Knowing that you belong to Him is tremendous!
King Darius got up early the next morning, because he couldn’t forget what he had done at sunset the day before. He had given orders to throw Daniel into the den of hungry lions. Daniel was an old man who had faithfully served the kings of his country for many years, and all his accounts were correct and honest. The problem was that other men were jealous of him, and they convinced the king to pass a law that nobody could pray to anyone but the king himself. Then when they found Daniel on his knees praying to the God of heaven, they told the king about it and reminded him of his signed law.
Even the king could not change the law. He racked his brain all day but could not think of any way to save Daniel.
I’m glad my God planned a way to save me! He sent His own beloved Son to die in my place - Jesus took my punishment.
King Darius hurried to the den of lions and called sadly, “Daniel.   .   . is thy God, whom thou servest continually, able to deliver thee from the lions?”
Most of you know Daniel’s answer. “My God hath sent His angel, and hath shut the lions’ mouths, that they have not hurt me.” Most likely, while the king had a sleepless night, Daniel may have had a good night’s sleep in that den of lions. But I am sure he remembered first of all to thank God for that angel messenger who shut the lions’ mouths.
The relieved king quickly commanded his servants to lift Daniel up out of the den. But the rest of the story is the sad end of those jealous men who did not believe in Daniel’s God. They were thrown into the den of lions, and they had no Savior. The lions quickly proved how hungry they were. It was the king’s righteous punishment.
Our God is a God of righteous punishment too. He offers His free and loving forgiveness now - today. But our Jesus did not take the punishment for all sinners - only for those who come to Him, trust Him and accept His love. What does God do with sinners who refuse His Son as their Savior? “Whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire” (Revelation 20:15).

Jonah Runs Away

A message beginning with the little word “Go” was given to Jonah from God. But something inside of Jo-nah immediately said, “I don’t want to go.” God’s message was very clear that Jonah was to go to the city of Nineveh and shout God’s special announcement there. But Jonah chose not to obey.
Of course, Jonah had a reason for not going. We all do when we refuse to do what God says. Jonah liked God’s announcement to Nineveh because it was an announcement of judgment to a city full of people he thought were no good anyway. Jonah’s problem was that he was afraid the people would repent, and then God would not send the judgment he had announced. Jonah felt they really deserved the judgment.
Now isn’t that very selfish! Jonah wanted those sinners to be punished, and God wanted them to repent and be saved! That’s the reason God was sending Jonah to Nineveh. And that’s the reason God sent His dear Son into the world - to save sinners. And that’s the reason He is sending you this announcement right now. He wants you to repent and be saved from the punishment you deserve.
But, Jonah did not obey God. He went the opposite way. He went to Joppa, got on a ship going to Tarshish, and climbed down around the cargo to have a good sleep.
Of course he paid his fare. Trips like that are not free. But salvation is free, and God is offering it to you right now. “The gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 6:23).
God had more to say to Jonah, so God sent a mighty storm into the sea. It was so terrifying that they thought the ship was going to break apart and sink. Every sailor cried to his god for protection. But Jonah slept on. The captain awakened him and cried, “Call upon [your] God, [perhaps He] will think upon us, that we perish not.”
Then they cast lots, which means that they chose a name by chance to see who had been the cause of the storm. Jonah’s name was drawn first. In that terrifying moment, Jonah knew that escape from God is impossible.
How much terror will it take to teach you? If you learn now, God has His way of escape for you. Remember that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners -to save you.
Even though suicide was no escape from God, Jonah told the sailors, “Take me up, and cast me  .  .  .  into the sea; so shall the sea be calm unto you; for I know that [because of me] this great [storm] is upon you.”
The sailors didn’t want to throw him overboard, so they tried rowing very hard to get to land. But it didn’t work. The fierceness of the storm made it impossible.
“The wages of sin is death.” Jonah had sinned in disobeying God. He must be thrown overboard, and so this is what they did. Then the sea became calm. “What manner of man is this, that even the wind and the sea obey Him?” (Mark 4:41). Because of this the sailors feared the Lord greatly and offered a sacrifice and made promises to Him.
For you today the sacrifice has already been offered since Christ died for sins. If the sailors’ lesson has reached your heart, you will fear the Lord greatly. His kind and loving announcement to you is, “Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Romans 10:13).
The Lord had prepared a great fish to swallow Jonah. That seems awful, doesn’t it? Just imagine being crowded into its hot, oozy stomach, waiting to be digested for three hopeless days and nights of darkness.
No, not quite hopeless. Eternity in hell is hopeless. But in Jonah’s awful fish prison he was able to pray, and his hope grew into certainty that God was hearing him pray even in the fish’s stomach at the bottom of the sea. In full confidence Jonah said, “I will sacrifice unto Thee with the voice of thanksgiving..  .  . Salvation is of the Lord” (Jonah 2:9).
This prayer was prayed in the awfulness of a fish’s stomach. Where are you right now? Maybe alone or in a crowd. Maybe having fun or in trouble. But if you pray in faith as Jonah prayed, God will hear you and answer you, because Christ is the Savior of sinners. It is not too late right now.
God heard Jonah’s prayers from the fish’s stomach. He spoke to the fish and it vomited out Jonah onto dry land.
Our next story tells how Jonah changed his mind.

Jonah Changes His Mind

The Lord repeated His message to Jonah, and this time he went to Nineveh as the Lord had told him. It was a very big city with a high, protecting wall built around it. The king and all his nobles and all the people and all their cattle lived in the city. Since there was no refrigeration, this was the only way to have fresh meat. The city was so big that it took three days to walk across it.
Jonah walked through the city for one day and shouted God’s announcement, “Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown”! Jonah would have been glad if Nineveh had been destroyed without a warning, BUT GOD IS NOT LIKE THAT ! That is why He has provided this book for you. Accept it from God as a loving warning, because He wants to save you now. Somehow, Jonah’s announcement got through the walls of the king’s palace (is there any place where the Lord cannot reach you?), and the king arose from his throne, took off his beautiful robe and covered himself with rough clothes and sat in ashes. That’s very undignified, but he and the people of Nineveh believed God and nothing else mattered, not even good clothes or good dinners or nice plans. The king and his nobles commanded that every man and animal must be covered with rough clothes, and they could not eat or drink anything. They were all to cry mightily to the Lord and must stop being cruel or wicked. Somehow they hoped that God would hear.
Is it really that important? They did not even have a promise that God would hear their cry, though I am sure that with all those hungry animals, grown-ups and children it was a very loud cry!
But you and I do have a promise that God will hear even a whisper. The precious blood of Jesus has already been shed for sinners, and His promise is often repeated in His Word, “Him that [comes] to Me I will.   .   . [NOT] cast out” (John 6:37). You are sure of a welcome. Never mind your favorite clothes and dinners and good times. Cry to Him now and leave your wickedness behind. There is no “maybe” about His forgiving you.
The Lord saw that they were sorry in Nineveh and how they turned from their evil ways. He chose not to send the judgment He had promised. What a relief !
But that is not the end of the story for Nineveh. They had no sacrifice for their sin and God held back the judgment, but later it did come. The people of Nineveh returned to their evil ways, and their city was overthrown to a heap of ruins, still buried now by centuries of earth. “Being good” just because you are afraid is not enough. The precious blood of Jesus is the only sacrifice that can blot out your sins of the past, and only God by His Spirit can give you a new life. Improving the old one is not enough. If God’s judgment did not fall upon Jesus for your sins, then it must fall upon you forever. There is no other hope.
How did Jonah like it that God held back the judgment on Nineveh? Read the next story and see.

Jonah Feels Sorry for Himself

When the forty days of Jonah’s warning from God came to an end and the judgment did not fall, Jonah was very disappointed. There stood the same buildings, the same wall and the same people. Jonah was so angry because God didn’t bring down His judgment on Nineveh that he asked God to take away his life.
Why was Jonah so miserable? Because he knew that God is merciful, slow to anger and of great kindness, and Jonah did not want this kindness shown to his enemies. But no matter what we think or how angry we might be, we can’t change the character of God.
Jonah went up to a hilltop overlooking the city and waited to see if it would be destroyed. Perhaps you remember that Jesus, the Son of God, did that too and looked over the doomed city of Jerusalem with tears upon His loving face. He would gladly have spread out His arms like the wings of a mother hen and covered them all safely from judgment. But they would not come to Him. They chose instead to crucify Him, and the city was destroyed. All the people, even the children, lost their lives.
Jonah had no tears for Nineveh. He felt terribly sorry for himself and his reputation, because the city was not destroyed as he had said. And now the hot tropical sun was burning down on his head.
God cared about Jonah even though he was angry, and God prepared a gourd vine to grow very quickly over his head. Jonah was glad, very glad for the shade over his head, but he was still very far from the heart of the God of love. God still cared so much about Jonah’s wrong attitude that He prepared a worm to chew right through that vine so that it withered and died. And Jonah was again left with the hot sun beating down on his head and a strong east wind blowing against him, till he was so miserable he just wanted to die. Now Jonah was angry about the gourd vine.
What is it that is making you angry right now? Is it because God is sending troubles into your life? He certainly did this to Jonah. If it makes you angry in your heart, then you have not learned to know the God who loves you with perfect love. He is the same loving God who sent His only Son to die for sinners like you. If you will answer His call, you will hear Him say, “I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with loving-kindness have I drawn thee” (Jeremiah 31:3).
We cannot tell you the end of the Jonah story because God does not tell us. But He does remind Jonah that, in that great city that Jonah wanted destroyed, there were more than 120,000 persons who could not tell their right hand from their left. Those were very young children that He must have cared about very much! He still does care about every child very much, because Jesus said, “It is not the will of your Father which is in heaven, that one of these little ones should perish” (Matthew 18:14).
And He cares very much about you. Have you accepted His mercy and love?

The Carpenter's Son

The stories of Jesus are full of surprises. Maybe you have read many storybooks that have surprises, but no one ever wrote a story like this one. It is from the Bible, so it is all true!
When Jesus was a boy, He lived in Nazareth with His parents and brothers and sisters. There were five boys in the family, and Jesus was the oldest. We don’t know how many sisters He had, because the Bible doesn’t tell us. When He was about thirty years old, Jesus went to live in Capernaum, but then He returned to Nazareth where He had been brought up. He went to the usual place of worship and stood up to read.
What book would He read? The Scriptures, of course. It is the only book to show us the way to God. The attendant gave Him an old book—a scroll of Isaiah—and He read the wonderful words from chapter 61, “He hath sent Me to [heal] the brokenhearted.”
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if some doctor lived near you who could heal the brokenhearted? Someone who could also open blind eyes to see and set prisoners free? There was Someone right there in Nazareth who could do all those things, and all for free. It was Jesus, the very person who was reading to them. They enjoyed the message and His gracious words of hope.
Then Jesus reminded the listeners of the days of hunger long ago when God had sent Elijah to a Gentile country to a widow who received from God enough food to feed Elijah and her family too. And He reminded them of Naaman, that poor army captain of a Gentile country who had leprosy and was healed completely through Elisha. Those were miracles, but that was not the way they wanted it. Those miracles to Gentiles hurt their religious pride, and they were furious with Jesus for reminding them.
God tells you the same message today. Never mind where you were born or your pride in your religion. Religious or not, God wants to save you, no matter if you are a Jew or a Gentile, because “Christ Je-sus came into the world to save sinners” (1 Timothy 1:15). Jesus wants to save you so much that He died for you. Does this make you happy? or angry? or do you say, “Who cares?”
The crowd that day decided to get rid of Jesus. Their plan was to take Him to the top of a cliff and throw Him over it. Perhaps you have another way to be rid of Him - just leave Him out of your life, and out of books, and out of schools, and out of Sundays. Whatever your plan is, it won’t work because Jesus loves you, and He wants to save you from your sins right now. After you leave this life, you are going to meet Him, either as your Savior or as your Judge.
The crowd took Jesus to the hilltop that day, but He passed right through the middle of them and went on His way. They could not destroy Him then, for God’s plan was that Je-sus must die on the cross for sinners, and the crowd could not change God’s plan. Jesus’ love took Him to the cross to be the Savior for you and me today.
About a year later, Jesus returned to Nazareth. They were amazed at His wisdom and His wonderful works, because they said that He was just the carpenter’s son and they knew His brothers and sisters. So how could He be so wonderful? They didn’t believe that He was the Son of God.
Yes, our Jesus is wonderful! He was a real man, and he got hungry and thirsty just like all of us do. But He was also the Creator God, and this power could be seen in everything He did. We can’t begin to understand everything about Him, but we can understand that He loves us very much. Romans 5:8 says, “God commendeth His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” And 1 John 3:16 says, “Hereby perceive [understand] we the love of God, because He laid down His life for us.”
Whether you will have Him or not, He is still the Savior of sinners and the Judge of all the earth. He has saved many of us from our sins. Will you let Him save you?

A Feast for Jesus

Simon the Pharisee liked to listen to new stories, just as the rest of us do. He found it so interesting to listen to Jesus that he invited the great prophet-healer to his house for a feast, and Jesus came.
Simon’s guests had walked the dusty streets in sandals. It was common courtesy in those days for servants to bring water to wash and cool their guests’ dusty feet. Then the host would kiss each guest’s cheek and add a touch of perfumed ointment to their heads. These courtesies made the guests feel comfortable and welcome.
Jesus came into Simon’s house as an invited guest and took His place at the table. However, He was not given the common courtesy of comfort and welcome.
There was a woman in that city who was sure of two things. First, she knew she was a sinner, and second, she knew that only Jesus could forgive her. Perhaps in those two things she knew more than Simon did. Do you know that those two things apply to you too?
The woman brought an alabaster box of special ointment and stood behind Jesus. She had tears running down her face, because she knew she was a sinner. She began to wash His feet with tears and wipe them with her long hair. Then she kissed His feet and poured her precious ointment on them.
Simon did not say anything to the woman, but he was busy thinking. He had no idea that his wonderful guest was the One who knows all our thoughts and why we think them. Just think! This story is two thousand years old, but you and I know what Simon was thinking that day because God recorded it in the Bible. This is the God that you and I must meet someday-joyfully or in terror!
Simon had thought that Jesus was a prophet, but now he wondered why Jesus didn’t seem to know what an awful sinner the woman was. Simon thought she was so wicked that she had no right to touch Jesus.
Oh, didn’t Simon know that “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners” (1 Timothy 1:15)? No, Simon didn’t know. Simon was a religious leader in fancy robes, but he didn’t really know who Jesus was. He didn’t know that it’s only sinners who are invited into Jesus’ presence. Many of us can gladly say, “I know! I came to Him, and He is my Savior now!”
Then Jesus told Simon the story of a man who had two people who owed him money. One owed five hundred pennies (which was a huge amount in those days), and the other one owed fifty pennies. Sadly, neither one of them had even one penny to pay the man. Then the man said, I freely forgive you both.
Jesus asked Simon, Which one will love him most?
I suppose the one to whom he forgave the most money, answered Simon.
Maybe Simon was pleased when Jesus told him that his answer was correct. But there was more for Jesus to tell Simon: You see this woman? You did not give Me water for My feet, but she washed My feet with tears. You didn’t give Me a kiss, but she has kissed My feet many times. You did not put oil on My head, but she has poured special oil on My feet.
Jesus was truly a prophet, but He was far more than that. He knew all about the woman’s sins, and still He turned to her and said, “Thy sins are forgiven.”
No one else has the right to say this. If you want forgiveness for your sins, you must go to God Himself for this. “Who can forgive sins but God only?” (Mark 2:7).
Simon had nothing more to say. And the woman said nothing either, but the guests were all filled with thoughts. We don’t know that woman’s sin, but we know what the guests were thinking: Who is this prophet who also forgives sins?
Do you know who He is? He is Jesus, the eternal Son of God, the One who took my sins upon Himself when He died for me. Then He, and no one else, has a right to say what He said to that woman at His feet, “Thy faith hath saved thee; go in peace.”
What about your sins? Have you come to Jesus for forgiveness?

Mary, Help Me!

Jesus was a foot-traveler, as poor men sometimes are. He came to the village of -Bethany where a woman named Martha welcomed Him into her house.
That was a good welcome, wasn’t it? Perhaps if you wanted to receive Jesus into your house, there might be a few things to do first. You might need to tidy up and put some things out of sight, quickly turn off the TV, and be careful of the language you use. But it seems that Martha did not need to do any of these things. And what good would it do anyway? Where can you put things that Jesus will not know that they are there? Let’s always remember Hebrews 4:13: “All things are naked and opened unto the eyes of Him with whom we have to do.”
It is wonderful to welcome Jesus into your home. It is good to always have things in order for Him. Will He take all feeling of stress out of your life and bring peace to your home? No, not really. The stress remained in Martha’s home and perhaps grew even greater. We will tell you the story.
Martha was a busy hostess. She wanted to do things just right for her special Guest, until she was quite stressed about it all and so upset that she became a fault-finder. Do some of you today feel the same way? Are you trying to do your best and others are not helping as they should, and you are upset and stressed about it? Martha was, and Jesus understood.
Martha had a sister named Mary who wanted to hear Jesus, and she did not want to miss a word. She sat at His feet and listened to all He said. Jesus was the Giver, and she needed Him. Do you need Him too?
But Martha was so upset with Mary that she asked Jesus, Don’t You care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her to help me.
If we talk like that to Jesus, we have not learned to know Him. Yes, He cares about every detail of our lives, as only perfect love can care. Martha thought that the problem was her sister, but it was really in herself. The same perfect love and wisdom looks at you today and says, as Jesus said, “Martha, Martha.” Just imagine Him saying your name like that, with double tenderness and understanding. He did not scold her, even though she had tried to correct Him. He put His finger on the real cause and told Martha, “Thou art careful and troubled about many things.   .   . but.   .   . Mary [has] chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.”
Mary heard this promise, and although she said nothing, Jesus’ words stayed with her. She was a listener, and this would not be taken away from her.
Maybe you know some busy ladies whose helping hands have served many, and those hands lie idle now and can’t do anything. Those very same ladies now can be listeners like Mary, and what is learned will carry over to heaven. Sickness or age may stop our busy hands, but nothing can stop our learning more and more about Jesus and His love.
It is good to have busy hands in the service of the Lord, but only if those hands work in obedience and love to the One to whom we belong. Depending on Jesus gives us peace in our daily duties on the road to heaven. And nothing else gives us this peace. “My peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid” (John 14:27).

Why Are You Sad?

There were eleven apostles in the room that morning and others with them, and they were very, very sad. I think you could have heard them as they mourned and wept. They felt as if they could never smile again.
Maybe that’s the way you feel right now. Has something gone wrong in your life? Is it something that seems as if it could never, ever be repaired? Then listen to this story  .  .  .  God meant it just for you.
These eleven men had lived with Jesus for three years, and they had seen His wonders of love and power. They had seen Him healing people, feeding thousands and raising the dead. They had listened to His stories of seeds and weeds and fish and trees and pearls, and they loved Him. Peter had already told Him, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matthew 16:16), and they felt sure that Jesus would always be with them.
But now He was dead.
Joseph of Arimathea had buried Him in his own new tomb and rolled a great stone over the opening. It was all over. No wonder they were sad.   .   . He was gone. I cannot imagine how deep their sorrow was, for I have never felt for a moment that Jesus is dead. Have you? They knew that Jesus was not popular. The crowd had crucified Him like a criminal! So they shut the doors of the room where they were gathered, so that none of Jesus’ enemies would find them.
And then suddenly, without any doors opening, Jesus was there in the room with them! Of course they would be glad  .  .  .  but no, they were terrified! How could He be real? But He was real, and He told them, “It is I myself: handle Me, and see” (Luke 24:39). And that’s what they wanted - the real, living, loving Lord Jesus, and their hearts were glad.
The risen Jesus had a real body of flesh and bones, with real nail marks in His hands and feet, and a sword wound in His side. There is no mention of blood. His precious blood had flowed from His wounded side to save those men  .  .  .  and me! Can you put your name there too? Was it for you He died? Yes, if you want Him. Yes, if you are a sinner, because He died for sinners. “God commendeth His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). Those men were glad, and I am glad too. Are you?
Forty days later, He lifted up those nail-pierced hands and blessed His disciples and went right up into heaven  .  .  .  just like that. And He is there now, a real, living Man, the only One in heaven who has a real, human body. Never, never will He die again. It was once for all.
There are many who have placed their trust in Jesus and who are with Him now, but only their spirits. Their bodies are here on earth, buried or burned or drowned. God knows exactly where those bodies are. When Jesus comes on the cloud to give His great shout for all who trust Him, then those bodies will rise and be made new, and we who are alive will rise in new bodies too. “The Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord” (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17).
Will you be glad? Perhaps “glad” is too small a word to use for the joy of seeing Jesus, your Savior, for the first time. Or will you put this paper away and say, “No, not for me”?
Why not look in God’s Word, the Bible, and see if what we have said is true.
“Be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of Man cometh” (Matthew 24:44).

Come and See

When you hear someone say, “Come and see,” do you come? I guess it depends on who says it. If it’s the right person, you probably come. This is a story about the time Jesus said, “Come and see,” and we can be sure He is the right Person!
There were two men standing with John, and it was the same day John saw Jesus walking and exclaimed, “Behold the Lamb of God!” This was very wonderful, because long ago the words were written, “God will provide Himself a lamb” (Genesis 22:8), and Je-sus was God’s Lamb. He didn’t look like it, but He was.
Those two men left John and followed Jesus. Jesus turned and saw them following Him and asked them what they were looking for. They answered and asked Jesus where He lived. And Jesus answered them with those wonderful words, “Come and see.”
We don’t know the names of both of those two men who followed Jesus, but you could pretend it was you and your best friend. Would you come? Remember, it’s Jesus who is inviting you. Let me ask again, Would you come?
The two men both came. We don’t know the street or the house, but it doesn’t matter. We know that Jesus was there, and they must have been delighted, for they stayed all the rest of the day.
After that, Jesus invited Philip to “follow Me.” Philip was so delighted that he was off to share the news with his friend Nathanael. He told Nathanael, “We have found Him,” and then he explained to Nathanael that this was the same person that God had told them about in the Old Testament. It is “Jesus of Nazareth”!
Nathanael wasn’t so sure. It didn’t seem possible to him that a man from the town of Nazareth could be the “Promised One.” He said to Philip, “Can  .  .  .  any good thing come out of Nazareth?”
How are you going to argue with a man like that? Would you tell him that Nazareth is not really so bad after all? What would you say?
Philip gave Nathanael the best answer. He said, “Come and see.” And Nathanael came and saw Jesus, and Nathanael’s heart was truly satisfied as to who this person really was. He exclaimed, “Thou art the Son of God; Thou art the King of Israel” (John 1:49).
Do you see what happens when you “come and see”? Maybe you have a friend who is inviting you now to “come and see” Jesus - not to see His face, not to see a picture, not to see a big church building, but to come and see Jesus as God shows Him to us in the Bible. If you “come and see,” you will find that He will not disappoint you, and you can learn more about Him and His love for you every day.
“Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that [comes] to Me shall never hunger; and he that [believes] on Me shall never thirst” (John 6:35). “Come unto Me: hear, and your soul shall live” (Isaiah 55:3).
Will you “come and see”?

A Boy's Lunch Feeds Thousands

There was a great crowd - thousands of people, and they were hungry. We have seen pictures of hungry crowds like that, and perhaps some of you have suffered from little or no food. Most of us don’t know very much about being hungry. We wish we could help those who are, but we don’t know what to do.
The Lord Jesus looked up and saw a crowd like that. They had followed Him because they saw how wonderfully He had healed sick people, and they wanted a share of His miracles. There were a few disciples close to Him who were there because they loved Him and had answered His call to follow Him. One of these was Philip.
In the heart of Jesus there is perfect wisdom, love and power. He wanted Philip (and you and me too) to know this, so He asked a test question: “[Where] shall we buy bread, that these [people] may eat?”
Philip’s idea was to buy two hundred pennyworth of bread, and with this maybe everyone could have a little. Philip didn’t even have the money, but this idea was the best he could think of.
When you have a problem, do you offer God the best idea you can think of to solve it? Like Philip’s, your own plan is so tiny that it is no good at all. Have you stopped to think that you are speaking to the same Jesus who has perfect wisdom, love and power? Answer His test question by telling Him you don’t know the answer, but you are sure He does. Philip didn’t have the right answer. He could have said, “Show us, Lord.” When you don’t have the answer, trust Him and say, “Show me, Lord.”
There was another disciple there - a quiet man named Andrew. He spoke up and said to Jesus, “There is a lad here, [who has] five barley loaves, and two small fishes.” He seemed almost ashamed of such a suggestion, so he added, “But what are they among so many?” Maybe that was not a good question, but he was asking the right Person. Give the problem to Jesus, and give Him what you have. See what His hands will do!
We don’t hear any more about the lad, but we know that he was willing to give to Jesus, not part of his food, but all of it. Can you imagine how thrilled he was when he saw what Jesus did with it and had a share of that miracle supper himself !
The Bible doesn’t tell us what the lad’s name was, but it is enough that Jesus knows. Is there a lad reading this? Is there someone willing to give to Jesus something he would find useful for himself if he kept it?
Then Jesus said, “Make the men sit down.” There was plenty of grass to sit on, and Mark tells us that they were seated in groups of fifty, men, women and children, probably at least ten thousand in all. With such a tiny supply of food on hand, Jesus’ disciples really must have been trusting Him when they seated the hungry crowds for supper.
Then Jesus thanked God His Father for the food. And He divided the bread and fish so that Philip and the other disciples could pass it to the eager hands stretched out for supper.
Do you stop to thank God for your food before you eat? Every bite comes from God, and if you are hungry you are ready to eat it all. But do you sometimes grumble a bit if it’s not your favorite? “Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Ephesians 5:20).
But where is Jesus now? Why is He not here to feed the hungry today? Because He was unwanted. The crowds shouted, “Away with Him, crucify Him.” And He is gone. What does your heart say to Him now? We have shared lots of things with the selfish and wicked crowds, but we have turned away from Jesus while we enjoyed His gifts, and now He is gone. But He is risen from the dead and is living now in heaven, with the same wisdom, love and power that filled His heart when He was here. He is ready to forgive you - ready to make you His own. He loves you and died for you. Will you come to Him right now?
Jesus told His disciples to gather up the leftovers after everyone had eaten. They found that they had twelve baskets full of food. What did they do with it? Don’t worry. He does not explain to us His full supply for our needs. But if Jesus is your Savior, you will never come to the last crumb of His wisdom, love and power. Your basket will always be full.
“My God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19).

Pointing a Finger

Jesus had spent all that dark and chilly night on the Mount of Olives, and early in the morning He went to the temple where His people came to worship.
It seems that many of them were out of bed early too that morning. They had something special on their minds. They had a duty to do. It was a chance to show how right they were. It was a chance to show how wrong somebody else was.
I think we understand that very well, and we might have been up early too to join the stone-throwing crowd against one bad woman. She was a married woman who had been found in the night with someone else’s husband.
Her accusers were good, religious people who knew the ten commandments well. They were sure that this woman had broken a commandment and were quite sure she should be stoned to death. The law of Moses said so. They asked Jesus what should be done.
God Himself was the One who gave those ten commandments, and God was there that early morning in the person of Jesus, His eternal Son. The same God whose finger wrote those ten commandments on tablets of stone long ago was standing there, and God does not change His holiness to suit our sins.
They waited for His answer, and I can imagine the poor, scared woman held her breath. But Jesus did not speak. He stooped down and with His finger wrote on the ground.
What did He write? We are not told, but some of the most wonderful words of Jesus are written down for anyone to read, words such as, “[You] shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:32). The Bible is God’s personal message for you.
These accusers were so busy finger-pointing and fault-finding that perhaps they missed the wonderful words written by the finger of Jesus Himself. And you - DON’T MISS IT TOO!
But the accusers kept right on asking what should be done about this woman’s great sin against the law of Moses. Jesus stood up and said to them, “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.” Then He stooped down and wrote on the ground again.
That brought silence. Everyone in the presence of that Holy One began to search his own heart, and everyone found the same thing. Sin. Search your own heart and you will find it there too. Sin. And God knows all about it.
The gray-haired ones among them were the first to feel their guilt. They had been sinners a long time, and their lists were long and ugly, even if no one else knew about them. The oldest one there quietly slipped away. He could not throw a stone. And so it went on, right down to the youngest and strongest who could have lifted a boulder to throw at her. But each one knew that his heart was sinful too, and each one slipped away.
Gone. All gone! But why did they go? Why didn’t they come to the feet of Jesus and tell Him that they were sinners too? Listen, you who are reading this story, don’t go away. Don’t go away from the only One who can save you. Jesus knows your sin far better than you do, but He loves you, and that’s why He died for you. He wants to cleanse you from those sins that make you guilty in His sight. There is no salvation for you anywhere else. Don’t go away!
Now the poor woman had her chance to escape. She was no longer in a ring of accusers pointing fingers who had the right to stone her to death. The only One left was the sinless, holy Son of God. She stood silent, but she did not go away.
Jesus said to her, “Where are  .  .  .  thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee?”
She said, “No man, Lord.”
And Jesus said to her, “Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.”
How could Jesus leave her uncondemned? Is that fair after what the Word of God had said in the Old Testament?
The only way He could let her go free was to bear the punishment for that sin Himself. And not only for that one sin, but for all the black history of her life. He did this during the hours of darkness on Calvary’s cross. Only Jesus had a right to throw a deadly stone at her, but only Jesus could take the total punishment upon Himself.
Will you go away from Him too? Will you carry your own sins down into eternity with you, or will you come to Him now - the One who offers you total forgiveness, at the cost of His own precious blood? “Who can forgive sins but God only?” (Mark 2:7). “The blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us from all sin” (1 John 1:7).

He Washed Their Feet

It was Easter time, just before the Passover. Jesus sat down at the supper table, and there were twelve men there with Him.
After supper was over, the men were watching their dear Master to see what He would do next. But not all twelve of them loved Him. There was one who had a dark secret in his heart, which Satan himself had put there. Satan knew that one man’s heart was not looking to Jesus, but, rather, that he was thinking about money, and that was the very spot where Satan could plant his seed of wickedness. What do you think about when others are looking to Jesus and praising and worshipping Him?
Jesus knew Judas was thinking about money, but nothing changed the love in His heart. He took off His outer coat and then tied a towel around His waist, poured water into a basin, and began to wash the disciples’ feet. They were dirty feet, soiled by the unpaved roads of Jerusalem, and it was usually the task of a slave to wash and dry them. But on that day, it was Jesus, King of kings and Lord of lords, who stooped to wash off the dirt, one foot at a time, and leave them dry and comfortable. Jesus was teaching the disciples a lesson.
This was a hard lesson for Peter to learn. He said to Jesus, “Thou shalt never wash my feet!” But Peter had to learn that we cannot share the joy of the Lord’s company if we cling to the dirt and filth of the world we are passing through.
Peter really wanted the Lord’s company more than anything, so he said, “Not my feet only, but also my hands and my head” (John 13:9). Wrong again, Peter! If Jesus has saved you and made you forever clean, what you need is everyday cleansing from the unclean things around you if you want to enjoy the Lord’s company.
That once-forever sin cleansing can be done by Jesus only, but the daily cleansing we can do for one another. Let’s use the water of the Word to help one another.
“Ye are clean,” said Jesus, “but not all.”
Nobody else knew, but Jesus knew that Judas had never received that once-forever sin cleansing. Judas did not love Jesus; he loved money.
Did Jesus Himself ever have His feet washed? Yes He did. He was invited to dinner at the house of a proud Pharisee, and while He was at the table, a sinful woman came behind Him and washed His feet with her tears. Now God did not write the Bible in English. He wrote the New Testament in the Greek language, and He uses a different word for washing. It was not to wash away the dirt of the streets, but rather to refresh His holy feet. Then she wiped His feet with the hairs of her head. And she left them not only washed and dried, but she poured sweet-smelling perfume over His blessed feet.
The proud Pharisee was not pleased at all with this woman, but Jesus knew what was in the heart of that sinful woman, just as He knew what was in the heart of Judas, and in your heart too. And Jesus said, “Her sins, which are many, are forgiven.”
Why didn’t Judas have that wonderful forgiveness too? Because he never repented and came to Jesus to receive it, and so he took his sins into eternity with him. Are you forgiven? And if so, do you know the joy of the Lord’s company every day? And do you help others to be clean from the world’s dirt and filth? This is what Jesus wants you to do.
“If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them” (John 13:17). “Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered” (Romans 4:7).

What Did Stephen See?

Stephen’s face was shining like the face of an angel. But the faces of the men around him were like thunderclouds. Here is the reason why.
The men were all looking down and around and back, but Stephen was looking up into heaven, and that made the difference. Those men of Jerusalem had a wonderful past history and they were proud of who they were, and that was all they could see. But Stephen had reminded them how their nation had disobeyed God for hundreds of years, and in their hatred and rebellion they had finally crucified the Son of God. The men did not want to hear this, and it made them angry.
Why show the men of Jerusalem their hatred and rebellion if it makes them angry? Why not look on the bright side and forget all the awful things their nation did in the past? Because it is God’s Word that shows up our sin, not to make us unhappy, but to make us repent of our sins and to bring them to God to have them washed away forever in the precious blood of Christ. Would you rather hide your sins and keep them forever, even in eternity?
The faces around Ste-phen grew angrier. They showed their teeth like wild animals, as if they were ready to bite him. But Stephen looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God and Jesus standing on the right hand of God. He told those angry men of Jerusalem what he saw: “I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man [Je-sus] standing on the right hand of God” (Acts 7:56).
That was enough! They covered their ears so they would hear no more.
Is that what you do too? Do you cover your ears and say in your heart, “Don’t tell me what God says in the Bible - I want my own way instead”?
That wonderful, joyful sight of Jesus which Ste-phen saw filled those men with anger, and they missed it forever. But they will see Je-sus, at the great white throne before they are cast into hell. And you will see Him there too, if you will not uncover your ears to listen and open your heart to Him now.
They threw Stephen out of the city and angrily began throwing stones at him, intending to kill him. And as the stones were hurled against him, Stephen kneeled down and said, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” And he gave one last, loud cry, “Lord, lay not this sin to their charge.” Then he fell asleep. That means he died, but it was not awful for him when his body slept in death, because the Lord Jesus took his spirit up to heaven.
Was it still possible for those wicked men to be saved from their sins, even the sin of murder? Yes, if they would repent and come to God before it was too late. Saul, who was later known as the Apostle Paul, was there that day, and although he did not actually throw a stone, he agreed with what those angry men did. But he later repented of his sins, and God saved him. You can read in 1 Timothy 1:15 what he wrote: “Christ Je-sus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief.”
God is ready to save you too, right now. It is sinners, not good people, whom Jesus came to save. Now, as you read this, come to Him and find that He loves you and He has a home in heaven for you, bought and paid for by the precious blood of Christ. That’s where you will be forever, if you will repent and look up to Him now to be saved from your sins.
“I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance” (Mark 2:17).

Felix's Problem

Felix was born a Roman slave, and being a slave is a hard life for a healthy young man. It cost a lot of money for Felix to buy his freedom out of slavery. For the first time he was able to make his own choices in life.
Was that the end of his problems? No, not at all. He was appointed by the Roman emperor to the high position of governor. This position gave him a new problem, and I’ll tell you how this came about.
A Christian man named Paul had been preaching the gospel in the city of Jerusalem and had been arrested. Maybe you know what a wonderful message the gospel is. It tells us of free salvation and complete forgiveness of sins through the precious blood of Jesus who died for sinners. There were many religious people in Jerusalem, and this message spoiled their proud religion. Paul’s preaching the gospel made the people so angry that they were ready to tear him to pieces. In fact, the soldiers had to pick up Paul and carry him into the castle to protect him from the angry mob who wanted to kill him.
The next day forty angry men decided that they would not eat or drink until they had killed Paul. But one boy got permission to visit the prisoner and said, Uncle Paul, they have a plan to kill you.
Paul told his nephew, Go tell the chief captain about that.
That news gave the chief captain a problem, but he decided to have his prisoner transferred to Felix the governor and let him decide what to do. So, in the dark of night, he ordered a guard of two hundred soldiers, seventy horsemen and two hundred spearmen to take Paul to the city of Cæsarea where Felix was governor. That’s nearly five hundred strong men to guard one prisoner!
But I shall tell you a secret. Paul had far more guardians than that, even if the soldiers had all stayed at home. We have thousands of angels sent with God’s orders to take care of us  .  .  . not always according to our plans, but according to God’s perfect plans.
Felix wasted no time, probably because he thought the problem was an easy one. He ordered a hearing for the prisoner. Some men had hurried from Jerusalem to accuse Paul, but Paul spoke for himself. Felix probably was expecting some argument from Paul to explain what the uproar was all about. He probably thought the matter did not concern him personally. But when Paul spoke of righteousness, self-control and judgment to come, Felix trembled with fear. He realized the message was for himself, because he knew he was a sinner. We know that the message is for us too, and down in our hearts we understand that we are sinners, and God must punish sin. And we tremble with fear too.
That wasn’t the end of the message, but Felix did not want to hear any more. I will listen to you some other day when it suits me, he said. And Paul’s hearing was ended.
Then Felix did some thinking, but not about Paul’s message that had made him tremble with fear. He thought about the money that some of those rich Jews had, and he hoped that maybe they would bribe him with money to release Paul.
Money! He wasn’t going to miss the chance of seeing if he could get more than he already had. During the next two years, Felix often found time to call Paul to court again, but I don’t think he ever trembled in fear again. And he didn’t get the bribery money that he hoped to get. When his term as governor ended two years later, he left Paul chained in prison, hoping that would please the Jews.
That’s the last we hear of Felix. He’s been dead a long time and waiting to meet God in eternity. You and I will meet God too. For me, I will meet the same loving Savior who died for me and washed away all my sins in His precious blood, so I have no fear.
What about you? Will you meet the loving Savior with your sins completely gone? If not, all the money in the world can’t take away your fear when you meet the God whom you tried to forget. In fact, money, if you did get it, will be no more than dust.
“What shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?” (Mark 8:36).
Read our next story for more about Paul in prison.

King Agrippa

Felix the governor left Paul in prison for two years. When Felix’s term as governor ended, another governor named Festus replaced him. Festus found that Felix had left the problem for him to solve: What shall I do with Paul the prisoner? But Festus, the new governor, could not handle this problem either.
Then Festus had a surprise -visit from King Agrip-pa. Festus explained the problem to King Agrippa: The prisoner Paul talked about someone named Jesus who was dead, but he is accused of saying that Jesus is alive.
I would like to hear Paul myself, said King Agrippa.
Tomorrow you will hear him, said Festus.
King Agrippa’s wife, Bernice, also wanted to hear what Paul was going to say. So the place where they would listen to Paul’s speech was arranged, and King Agrippa and Bernice came with great pomp and ceremony, and all the chief men of the city also came for the event. Then when Festus gave the word, Paul was led in, and the governor made a speech introducing Paul and explaining why he had been arrested. There stood the lone prisoner, chained and facing King Agrippa and his wife. What could he say?
Paul reached out his chained hand and said, I am happy, King Agrippa, because I shall answer for myself and tell you what I am accused of.
Happy? How could a man be happy after two years in a cruel Roman prison? But Paul was glad of the chance to share the gospel message, and he continued by speaking about how he became a Christian.
Paul told how he had been a very religious man, and he knew by reading the ancient prophets that God had promised to send a Deliverer to His people. But surely the Deliverer could not be Jesus, because He had been put to death! How could He do anything now?
The thought of it had made Saul, as he used to be called, so angry that he wanted to kill anybody who believed in this crucified Jesus. In fact, he was on his way to do this hateful deed when a great light, brighter than the sun, shone around him and his followers, and they all fell flat to the ground! Then a voice from heaven said, Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?
Who are You, Lord? cried Paul, and he was given the wonderful answer, I am Jesus! Then Paul knew that Jesus was alive again! And this same Jesus sent him to tell the good news of forgiveness to people everywhere, even to those who hated Jesus, to turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God. Paul could understand their hate, because his heart had been full of hate too. But now he was bursting with the good news of forgiveness through Christ Jesus who died and rose again.
Festus had heard enough. He shouted, Paul, you are out of your mind! Much learning is driving you mad!
I am not mad, most noble Festus. I speak pure truth. Then he turned to the king: The king knows these things, for this was not done off in a corner somewhere.
King Agrippa, do you believe the prophets?.   .   . I know you do! said Paul.
Yes, King Agrippa knew all this, but it made no difference to him. You’ve almost convinced me to become a Christian, he said. But to him “almost” was good enough.
Paul’s heart was troubled for all the lost sinners in that auditorium. I wish you were a Christian, King Agrippa, he said, and not only you, but all the others who hear me today! I wish you were not only “almost,” but were truly a believer in Jesus, like I am.   .   . except for these chains.
Then King Agrippa stood up, and Festus and Bernice also stood up. Paul’s hearing had come to an end.
Is it the end for you too? We never hear of King Agrippa again. He let the gospel message slip away. Are you a believer in Jesus who was crucified and rose from the dead and is alive in heaven today? Or is “almost” good enough for you too?
“Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures; and.   .   . He was buried, and.   .   . He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures” (1 Corinthians 15:3-4).

Story of a Sailing Ship

It was not a pleasure trip but a matter of important business, and the best way to deliver the cargo was on a sailing ship in the Mediterranean Sea. Good seamanship and good winds were very important, and for this trip they had both. All is well when you have experienced men in charge. Isn’t that true?
Well, I’m not so sure. The best of plans can fail. There is only one book that can be trusted through waves or clouds or storms of failed plans. I wonder if you know about that book and the God who wrote it and the wonderful Savior of sinners of whom it tells. Do you know the name of that book? It is the Bible! If you feel that you cannot understand the Bible, ask the God who wrote it. Or ask the Savior of sinners of whom it tells. Our Jesus is alive, and He is listening.
The sailing ship had arrived at a harbor where it was not suitable to stay, and the master and owner of the ship planned to sail on. They had a little discussion about this, because sailing was dangerous at this time of year. However, most of them voted to sail anyway.   .   . in spite of one warning voice.
That warning voice was Paul, and his warning was based on wisdom given to him from God. But who cares what God says? Do you care what He says? Have you met God, who knows all things? You may have planned your own life, but God says that “there is a way which [seems] right unto a man; but the end thereof are the ways of death” (Proverbs 14:12).
The south wind blew softly as the sailors pulled up anchor and set the sails for departure. The waves were quiet and the sky was blue. However, it wasn’t long until a fierce wind rose up against them, and the waves turned into high mountains of water. The dark, stormy sky blocked the sun, moon and stars for two whole weeks!
Some people might think that you must be brave and forget your troubles, but this was too much and too long. The sailors tried all possible methods to prevent the ship from breaking up, but there were quicksands ready to suck them down and waves high enough to swamp a ship totally out of control. So to lighten the ship, they threw even the ship’s rigging overboard. Now all hope that they could be saved was gone.
Perhaps you have not reached that point in your life. If you are living your life without the Lord Jesus, hopeless despair is in your future. Will you believe God now, right now while you have the Word of God to trust in?
When things were totally hopeless, Paul spoke up. He reminded the men on board that they should have listened to him sooner, but he gave them a promise: “There shall be no loss of any man’s life among you, but [only] of the ship.” An angel had given Paul this promise from God, but you and I have the Bible. Our message is from the same God who sent that angel to Paul before the Bible was completed.
“Be of good cheer,” said Paul, “for I believe God, that it shall be even as it was told me. [However], we must [first] be cast on a certain island.”
About midnight the sailors sensed that they were near shore, so they tested the depth of the water several times and each time found that it was shallower. Those in charge were afraid of rocks, so it was decided to drop four anchors and wait for morning.
But the sailors were too scared to wait. They sneaked a lifeboat over the edge, but Paul’s warning to the soldiers spoiled that plan. The order was given to cut the ropes, and the lifeboat fell empty into the sea.
Paul was a prisoner on that ship, but he had a promise from God that took away his fear. He told everyone that since they would all make it safe to land and they hadn’t eaten anything for two weeks, they should eat some of the food on board to regain their strength.
Now the angel gave Paul a solid promise, didn’t he? But we have a promise which lasts longer than a safe landing on an island. Our God promises everlasting life—bought and paid for by the precious blood of Christ. But instead of trusting God’s promise, are you going to find some little boat that will take you away on uncertain seas until you are lost forever? Believe the Word of God now and be saved forever! All God’s promises are unbreakable, whether of eternal hell or of everlasting life in heaven. “Every word of God is pure: He is a shield unto them that put their trust in Him” (Proverbs 30:5).
Our next story will tell you what happened.

The Story of the Shipwreck

There were 276 people on board ship, and we left them with four anchors holding the ship from crashing on rocks while they waited for morning to come. As dawn began to lighten the sky, Paul got some of the food ready that was on board. They all watched as he gave thanks to God and then urged them to cheer up and eat. They all ate enough to regain their strength and threw the rest away to lighten the ship.
Morning light showed them a strange island with a creek flowing into the sea where they could run the ship aground. They pulled up the anchors and hoisted up the mainsail and let the wind drive them in to shore. The front of the ship stuck fast, but the back part was broken to pieces by the pounding waves.
“Kill the prisoners, lest any of them should swim out, and escape,” cried the soldiers. But their leader said no and told everyone who could to swim to land. Those who couldn’t swim were told to grab a board or a broken piece of the ship so they could float to shore.
Can you guess how many made it safely to land? Every single one of them made it! God had promised Paul that he and all those who were on board with him would be safe. Nobody can break God’s promise!
That promise was not made to you, but here is one God has made for you: “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him” (John 3:36).
It was the island of Malta where they landed. They were all soaking wet, and it was cold and pouring rain. The best thing for them was a big bonfire, and the kind natives of the island had one blazing in no time. Paul set to work gathering sticks to pile on the fire, but there was more than sticks in his bundle  .  .  .  a nasty snake did not like the fire and bit him on the hand and hung on.
Everyone knew it was a poisonous snake, and they thought the snake’s bite would kill Paul. After he shook the snake off into the fire, they watched Paul closely for a long time, but he felt no harm.
Did you know that if you belong to Jesus, you are His forever and He will never let you go? If you are born into God’s family, no one can snatch you out of His hand. God loves His children and He takes care of them, but He does not spoil them.
The chief man on Malta was very sick, but in answer to Paul’s prayer he was wonderfully healed, and many others were also healed in the three months that they stayed there. It seems that Paul the prisoner was the most important man on that ship!
Are you saved? Do you belong to Jesus? You are very important to the God of heaven. He is watching over you, but He has not promised to give you the top place and to make you comfortable. Paul left that island as a prisoner and went on to a prison in Rome  .  .  .  and finally to death. Our Jesus is worth all we can give, and more. He is “the Son of God, who loved me, and gave Himself for me” (Galatians 2:20).
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