God's Wonderful Stories: Volume 3

Table of Contents

1. Who Shut the Door?
2. Sarah Laughed
3. "Remember Lot's Wife"
4. The Story of Jacob's Ladder
5. Another Story of Jacob
6. The Waters of Marah
7. The Story of Five Sisters
8. Snakebite!
9. What Happened to the Brass Serpent?
10. Ambush!
11. A Girl Named Achsah
12. The Story of Samson
13. Samson and the Foxes
14. Samson and the Jawbone
15. The Final Story of Samson
16. The Poor Man's Lamb
17. Who Stopped the Fire? Part 1
18. Who Stopped the Fire? Part 2
19. It Rained and It Rained
20. What Happened to Elijah?
21. More About Elijah
22. King Asa's Victory
23. Another Story About King Asa
24. Emergency!
25. What's Inside?
26. What About the Weeds?
27. A Surprise From Under the Sea
28. Good Fish and Bad Fish
29. A Fig Tree but No Figs
30. The Leper Makes a Mistake
31. The Deaf Man Hears
32. The Man Who Saw Men as Big as Trees
33. Who Put the Most Money Into the Treasury?
34. The Story of Ten Men
35. Just a Bit of Money
36. What Happened to the Crippled Man?
37. Four Anchors
38. Be of Good Cheer, Paul

Who Shut the Door?

Maybe you have heard the story of Noah and the boatload of animals. The whole story is so wonderful and so different from the picture-book tales that you see in bookstores.
You have probably heard that Noah built an ark. He built it exactly the shape and size that God had planned. It was not painted red and blue or yellow and green, but it was covered all over with black tar to make it waterproof. It was more important for this very special boat to be waterproof than to be pretty.
The ark had one door - a front door. There was no back door. And here’s a puzzle for you to think about as we tell you this story. Who shut the door?
It is not hard to picture the door wide open and large enough for a pair of elephants to go through. So it was certainly big enough for anybody who wanted to go in, not just to explore but to stay. There was no sign that said “No Trespassing,” and there was no cashier to take money. The open door was an invitation to “COME IN!”
Why would anyone want to go into the ark? Because God had Noah build it to save people from a big flood that He was going to send as punishment for their sinfulness. He has provided a different kind of ark for you and me. Our sinfulness deserves punishment too, but God sent His Son Jesus to bear the punishment for sin on the cross as the substitute for anyone who will accept Him as his or her very own Savior. Jesus said, “I am the door: by Me if any man enter in, he shall be saved” (John 10:9).
All the animals went inside the ark, and there was food for them inside too. Then Noah and all his family went in, eight of them, but the door wasn’t closed yet. It stayed open for seven more days, with the opportunity for all the people to come into the ark and be safe from the coming flood.
Wasn’t it kind of God to keep the door open for seven more days? Noah had warned the people that God said He was going to send a flood, and anyone outside of the ark would be drowned. God kept the door open for any who might accept the opportunity to go in and be safe from the coming judgment. But nobody else went in  .  .  . they didn’t believe God.
God has given us a warning of coming judgment for our sins. Just as He had Noah build the ark as a place of safety from the flood, He sent His Son Jesus into the world to make a place of safety for sinners from the coming judgment for their sins. The door of salvation is open right now, waiting for you to come in. God does not tell us how long it will remain open - maybe just seven more days or maybe seven more minutes! When it’s God’s time, He will shut the door and leave you outside if you do not come in now while it is still open.
Who shut the door of the ark? God did. The Bible doesn’t tell us that the door was ever opened again until after the flood was over. When God shuts a door, it remains shut until He opens it.
Then it rained for forty days, and the water bubbled up from underground too. There never was such a flood before and never has been since. Even the mountains were covered with water. When God sends judgment, there is no way out!
The ark was not built like most boats, with a pointed prow at the front. It just floated safely - the higher the water, the higher it floated. No leaks and no drips. It was three floors high, and Noah and his family probably lived on the third floor, because there was a window for them up there, just as God had planned.
After a whole year, they felt the ark resting on a mountaintop. There were two ravens in the ark, and Noah sent one of them out, but it flew away and never came back. Then Noah sent out a dove, but it flew back again because the floodwaters were still too high -the ark was the only place it could rest. Noah took the dove inside the ark again.
Then a week later he sent the dove out again, and this time it came back with an olive leaf in its beak! That was a good sign that the trees were beginning to leaf out again. Maybe you’ve seen a picture of a dove with a leaf in its beak, and now you know the story.
A third time Noah sent the dove out, and this time it found a place to live in the fresh green trees and did not come back again. Then Noah removed the covering of the ark and looked and saw that the ground was dry. Very good news! It is always good news when you trust what God says. Now the eight people inside and all the animals were free to come out of the ark and live on the clean earth.
God is giving you an opportunity to be washed clean from all your sins through the death of Jesus. Have you accepted His loving offer to be saved from the punishment you deserve? Have you come through His open door? If not, He warns, “These shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal” (Matthew 25:46).
Think About God’s Word!
1. What did the dove bring back with it?
2. Who can close your bedroom door? Who is the door to God’s family? You’ll find an answer at the beginning of John 10.
Project: Can you give examples of more arks in the Bible? You’ll find one of them in Exodus 2.

Sarah Laughed

There are two kinds of laughing. One is the happy kind that you can share with others, because they are sure to be happy about it too. The other kind is because you don’t believe what somebody says, and you think it is all ridiculous.
Which kind was Sarah’s laugh? Listen to her story and maybe you can tell. It might even be both kinds. Read on and see.
Abraham and Sarah had been married a long time. In fact, he was 99 years old and Sarah was 90. That is old enough to be great grandparents! But they weren’t even parents or grandparents, because they had no children and were too old to have any.
If God is wise and powerful enough to plan that our parents should have children before they are old, then God can work beyond His plans if He chooses, and nobody can stop Him! “With men it is impossible, but not with God: for with God all things are possible” (Mark 10:27). God told Abraham that he would have a son in his old age, and Abraham believed God.
Do you? Don’t argue about it or try to understand how it could be true. When we don’t understand, God says, “Be still, and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10).
Where is Sarah? God asked. Abraham answered, In the tent. You see, Abraham was a traveler with no land of his own, and so they lived in a tent, and Sarah was at home there.
God gave Abraham and Sarah a promise: I will return to you according to the time of life, and Sarah shall have a son.
Sarah was listening in the tent door, and she heard God’s promise too. I don’t think she made a sound, but inside her heart she laughed. I’m too old! she thought.
Do you think God doesn’t know how old you are? Maybe you are 5 or 15 or 100. God knows everyone’s age, and nothing can change His promise - even if you laugh at it! In fact, Sarah didn’t laugh out loud, and God still knew she laughed!
Why did Sarah laugh? asked God. Now Sarah was afraid, and she tried to cover it up with a lie. I didn’t laugh, she said. But God answered her, No, but you did laugh.
Laughing at God’s promise can’t change it. He will certainly do as He has said, whether it is heaven or hell for you. Confessing is better than covering up. Tell Him now that you have sinned, and you will find that “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners” (1 Timothy 1:15).
Sarah’s precious little baby boy did come to her, just as God had said. So now was the time for happy laughter. In fact, she called his name Isaac, which means “laughter.” And all her friends shared the happy news that a son was born to Abraham and Sarah when it was humanly impossible!
Sarah’s faith was not very strong, but it was faith in the right Person. Where is your faith? Are you trusting in the God who has given His only Son for you? Or is it in your religion or in your own hopes and plans? Maybe your own plans seem right, but the end of that way is eternal death. “There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death” (Proverbs 14:12). The end of God’s promises is everlasting life: “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that be-liev-eth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him” (John 3:36).
Think About God’s Word!
1. What two kinds of laughing did Sarah do?
2. Have you ever denied doing something you didn’t think the other person could prove you’d done? What is a verse that tells what God thinks of such an action?
3. Does God laugh? In what ways? What Bible verses can you give to support your answer? You can start your search in Psalm 2.

"Remember Lot's Wife"

Here is one story that the Lord Jesus has told us to remember. However, you can’t remember a story you have never heard. Perhaps some of you have never heard the story of Lot’s wife, so I shall tell you about her.
We don’t know her name, except that she was Mrs. Lot, and she lived in a city called Sodom. Mr. and Mrs. Lot had sons and daughters, and at least two of their daughters were married and lived in homes of their own. I don’t think Mrs. Lot was very hospitable, and I will tell you why.
God sent two men to the gate of Sodom, and there they found Lot sitting in a place of great importance as a judge in that city. He was very polite to the visitors and invited them to his house. At first they refused, but they finally did accept Lot’s invitation and came to his house.
I don’t know where Mrs. Lot was, but she didn’t seem to share her husband’s hospitality. It was Lot who did the cooking and serving and made his guests welcome. Those two visitors were angel-messengers from God, but it seems that Mrs. Lot missed the opportunity.
Are you missing an opportunity when God’s messengers come to your house? You could be a listener and a helper.
Lot heard an important warning from the visiting angels that night, but I am not sure that Lot’s wife heard the warning. Lot not only listened to the warning, but he believed it and went to the homes of his married daughters to warn them. He told them, God is going to destroy this city! But nobody believed him. They laughed, as though he were telling them a joke. It was the last time Lot’s family heard the warning.
When you hear God’s warning of judgment that is sure to come, is it a joke to you? Is hell something to laugh about? Hebrews 9:27 is warning us right now: “It is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment.”
When morning came, it was time to leave the city, but Lot and his wife and young daughters did not want to go. The two angels actually took their hands and pulled them out of the city, because God was merciful to them.
As God was destroying Sodom with fire from heaven, the angels told Lot and his wife and family, Escape for your lives, and DON’T LOOK BACK! But it seems Mrs. Lot did not really believe the message. She looked back at the burning city, but she never took another step. She became a pillar of salt!
God tells us to “remember Lot’s wife” (Luke 17:32). There is a lesson in this story He wants us to learn and remember. It is a reminder to each of us that we must never say “Yes” when God says “No!”
Do you believe God’s Word? Do you believe Him when He says, “The earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up” (2 Peter 3:10)? God will judge this sinful world exactly as He has promised. But God has a plan of escape for any who will turn to His Son, Christ Jesus, for salvation from their sins. Will you believe in Him and be saved?
Lot escaped, but he was not a happy man. His life shows us why Christians are not always happy. He believed God’s Word, but he did not like what he heard. He had worked so hard to improve Sodom, and now it was hard to know the whole city was gone up in flames.
Don’t waste your life doing your own thing. Even if you are a true believer, you may follow your own ideas of what you want to do without reading God’s Word to find out His choice. The world has a lot to offer, but God has more joy and love for you than you could ever guess, if you follow His plan.
“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).
Think About God’s Word!
1. What warning did the angels bring?
2. Do you have trouble “hearing” something you don’t like - such as a call to clean your room? How does an obedient spirit improve our hearing?
Project: God uses the ear as a symbol in many places in His Word. Can you give five verses about the ear, hearing or listening? You might need to use a concordance. What message do they send about what God expects from us?

The Story of Jacob's Ladder

“Go,” said Jacob’s mother. “Go,” said Jacob’s father. They both loved him dearly, but Jacob’s twin brother did not love him at all. In fact, he was angry enough to kill him, so it seemed best that Jacob should go away for a while to save his life.
His brother Esau had reason to be angry. Esau was the firstborn, so he had the right to the blessing - a double share of his father’s possessions - but Jacob had stolen Esau’s blessing by selfishness and lies. Now the right to the blessing was gone, gone forever, and Esau could not get it back. The blessing was now Jacob’s.
You have a right to blessing from God too, just because you were born into the world. Satan can’t steal it from you unless you give it to him or throw it away. “God so loved the world” - that includes you, doesn’t it? God loved you so much that He gave His only Son for you, and He is telling you about it right now. Don’t throw His message away!
Jacob wanted Esau’s blessing of the double share, and he chose crooked ways to get it. But this was not necessary. God knows what to do. God is ready to give you a better blessing than you ever thought of asking for. Don’t throw it away. Jesus died for sinners like you, and He wants to give you not only forgiveness for your sins, but a home with Himself in heaven forever - a home where only God’s children are welcome to come. You know you are a sinner, so what is your answer to the Savior of sinners?
Jacob went away to find his uncle Laban, but it was a very long, tiring journey on foot. Night came, and he found a spot to lie down on the ground and used a stone under his head for a pillow. In his sleep he had a very wonderful dream.
In his dream, Jacob saw a ladder so high that it reached right up to heaven. On that ladder were angels, going up from earth to heaven and down again. Did you notice that they started at the bottom and went up? Is that a surprise? We think of angels as heavenly beings, but they must have been down on earth already. Perhaps they had been appointed by God to guard Jacob on his journey, and in his dream Jacob was allowed a glimpse of them, although they were really there all the time.
He woke up and remembered the dream, but not with joy. In fear he said, “How dreadful is this place! this is  .  .  .  the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.”
Why should that frighten him? Wouldn’t you like to go to heaven? The truth is this: If your sins are not forgiven, you would not be happy in heaven, and the real presence of God would be terrifying to you.
That morning Jacob tried to make a bargain with God. He promised God that if He would take care of him and bring him home again, he would give Him ten percent of his wages!
But that money would not take away his sins and bring God’s blessing. And there is nothing you can do - nothing to take away your sins - but let Jesus save you. He gave His life’s blood for you, and there is nothing more for you to do but to accept His gift. A million dollars cannot buy it. Jesus has paid the price, and you can be justified freely by His grace: “Being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus” (Romans 3:24). Look to Jesus right now and take His free forgiveness and thank Him for it. You may not have another chance. Don’t throw away your blessing!
I think Jacob trusted himself rather than God that day. However, he remembered his dream, and he set up his pillow-stone for a memorial before he went on his way.
Think About God’s Word!
1. What did Jacob promise to give God to receive blessing?
2. Do you try to earn someone’s love and kindness by being good? Can you do that with God? What verses support your answer?
Project: What blessings has a Christian already received? Can they be lost? Start your search in Ephesians 1.

Another Story of Jacob

The last story was about Jacob, the man who went to sleep using a stone for a pillow and dreamed about a ladder reaching up to heaven. Here is another story about the same man, but he is not so young as he was when he had that dream. He is married now and has one daughter and many sons.
Jacob had been very mean to his twin brother Esau when they were younger, and now he was afraid of Esau. Jacob was planning to go back home again with his large family, and he was very rich in herds of cattle, sheep and goats, which he would also take home. However, the news reached him that Esau was coming to meet him.
A bad conscience makes anybody afraid. If you are afraid to meet your brother after you have done something wrong to him, how will you ever meet God? Maybe you can forget it for a while, but when you meet God, you will find the record of all your sins is there! What will you do?
God knows how you feel, and He cares. When Jesus was on the cross in total darkness, God punished Him for my sins - all of them - even the ones I have forgotten. And when Jesus said, “It is finished,” the necessary punishment for my sins was completed and gone forever, and I can meet Him with joy  .  .  .  not with fear. But what about you? Did Jesus bear the punishment for your sins? Can you join us in thanking Him now and forever for taking the punishment that we deserved?
Jacob, who was worried about meeting Esau, sent his family on ahead while he stayed alone by the brook that night. That’s where the Angel of God met him and wrestled with him. The struggle lasted all night, for Jacob was determined to win and not to give up.
Then the Angel touched Jacob’s hip, and suddenly it was out of joint. If the Angel had power to do that, He could have done a great deal more, but God’s way is perfect. His will is to bless and not to destroy.
Let me go, said the Angel. It’s almost sunrise.
Jacob was crippled now, but he was ready to ask for what only God could give. Are you ready too? Are you ready to give up and ask instead of arguing? Are you ready to receive God’s blessing instead of fighting for your own way?
I will not let Thee go except Thou bless me, said Jacob.
What is your name? said the Angel.
God knows your name very well. God is asking right now if you will tell Him that your name is “sinner.” Will you tell Him? “Christ Je-sus came into the world to save sinners” (1 Timothy 1:15). If you will tell Him right now that you are a sinner, then He is ready to save you. That’s what Jesus came to earth to do!
Jacob told the Angel of God that his name was Jacob, and immediately the Angel gave him a new name - “Israel.” This new name means “prince,” and it covered up the old, deceitful name of “Jacob.” What a nice new name.
Did you know that if you are born into God’s family, you have a new name too? You won’t know what it is until you are in heaven with the Lord Jesus.
Then Jacob asked the Angel of God, What is Thy name? But he never got a clear answer, perhaps because God has many names, and each one of them fits our need and yet is far beyond our thoughts. One of His names is “Wonderful,” and He is wonderful today and for all eternity!
Jacob got the blessing that he wanted from the Angel of God, and so he was the winner in the wrestling. He was also a cripple for the rest of his life, but in his old age he worshipped God, leaning on the top of his staff. You can be a winner too, and God will give you more than you ever thought of asking for. If your life ends in true worship, your eternity will be joyful worship too. “Thanks be to God, which giv-eth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 15:57).
Think About God’s Word!
1. What did Jacob’s new name “Israel” mean?
2. Do you have any nicknames? What special meaning do they have? Will you receive the new name mentioned in Revelation 2:17?
Project: How many names and titles of God can you name? Start your list by reading Isaiah 9:6.

The Waters of Marah

Have you had a good drink today? No matter what you like best to drink, the main part of it is water. There are dozens of ways to get the water our bodies need, and everyone needs it every day, no matter where you live. Even thousands of years ago, everybody needed water to drink every day.
What is all this water made of ? Maybe it’s a surprise to you to learn that it’s made of hydrogen and oxygen, and neither of these is wet to begin with. Hydrogen is a gas that makes balloons go up, and oxygen is a gas that comes from green plants in sunshine. Who ever thought of putting those two together and making clear, wet stuff for us to drink? God did! And you can’t live long without it!
There were about two million people walking across the desert, more than three thousand years ago. They were gloriously happy and free, because God had just brought them through the Red Sea on dry land and had drowned all their enemies when they tried to follow them! They felt as if all their troubles were past, and now the day was a good day.
As they walked, they got very thirsty, but there was nothing to drink that first day, and that made them not quite so happy. There was no water on the second day either. Finally on the third day they saw water sparkling in the distance. Water at last! Stoop down and drink!
Oh, but it was horrible stuff  .  .  . bitter! We can’t drink this water! And then they got angry. Whose idea was it to bring us here? Moses, it’s your fault! What are we going to drink?
I think each of us can understand their unhappiness at this point. Have you wanted something, like right now, and what you found was no good? If you looked around, you could probably find somebody to blame. And you could scowl and make a big fuss about it, and maybe you could find others who shared the disappointment with you.
Does God care about your problem? Oh yes! Remember, He sent His only Son to die for you. Is there any greater proof of His love than this? Tell Him your problem, and let His perfect wisdom, not yours, give you the answer.
Those two million people had a real setback, but they went to the wrong person about it. They should have told God their problem. Remember, He is the God who made hydrogen and oxygen when He created the world, and it was God who put them together to make water for us.
Moses cried to God, and the answer was not what anyone would have expected.   .   . God showed him a tree! Now how could a tree solve the problem of the undrinkable water?
Are you remembering that God has also shown you and me a tree - the only way to solve our sin problem? The Lord Jesus was nailed to a tree made into the shape of a cross. God has shown us that the wonderful Savior who died on that cross has taken the sins of every believer on Himself, and those sins are gone forever!
Moses cast that tree into the water of Marah, and the water was made sweet! How wonderful for all of those terribly thirsty travelers. Where did the bitterness go? That is God’s secret. It is enough for us to know that God knows how to deal with every problem, and He loves and cares.
The story does not end there. God has better secrets than you ever thought of asking for. The next place they came to was Elim, where there were twelve wells of water and seventy palm trees. His blessings are for those who trust Him and wait patiently for Him.
“My God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19).
Think About God’s Word!
1. What does God use to make water?
2. What have you “needed” very badly but not gotten when you wanted it? What did Absalom do in 2 Samuel 14:28-32 when he didn’t get what he wanted?
Project: How does Psalm 37 tell us to respond when we are being mistreated and not getting what we “deserve”?

The Story of Five Sisters

Those five girls were on a camping trip that lasted for forty years. There were no roads and no cars or trucks, and there also were no stores to buy food or clothes. There must have been a million campers, and somewhere in that crowd was one tent for Zelophehad, his wife and his family of five daughters.
They had many adventures in those forty years that the Bible tells us about. Best of all, they had a promise from God that He would give them a good land when their camping trip ended, and each man would have a good, valuable spot to raise his family. Believing God’s promise made them feel secure and happy.
But those five sisters did some thinking. Every man? they said. But our father died along the way and we have no brothers. Is there not any land for us girls?
Maybe some of you girls feel dissatisfied like that too. And maybe you are asking, “Does God have nothing for us girls?” Wait and see what happened.
Those five sisters did not get angry and make a fuss. They went to their leader Moses and explained the problem to him. Moses did not know what to do, so he asked God for the answer.
That was the very best thing to do. Will you do that too? If you want a place in God’s home in heaven, talk to God about it, and He will give you a promise from His book - an unbreakable promise written in love long ago for you. The only ones who are going to miss out are the ones who don’t care. Will you read His Word and find His special promise for you?
Moses told the girls God’s answer. Yes, the five sisters may each have a place in the promised land, and this would be true for every girl without a father or brothers.
The others in the tribe thought it over. It won’t work, they said, because if they marry someone from another tribe, they’ll take the ownership of the land with them. So then our tribe will be losers!
Moses told them God’s answer to that problem: Let them marry someone from their own tribe, and no one will be losers. What a perfect solution!
Now those five sisters had a poor start in life with the loss of their father, but suddenly they became rich - real land owners. And when they would marry a man from their own tribe, they would have two pieces of land! They and their husbands would end up doubly rich!
Yes, and if you trust God, whether you are a boy or a girl, you’ll be rich too. And if you marry someone who wants to put Jesus first, you’ll be doubly rich too. Don’t trust yourself or your religion; trust the all-wise God who wrote the Bible. He is the One who has all the promises and blessings stored up for you. It is Jesus who said, “In My Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you” (John 14:2).
But when the five sisters went back to their tent, they still had nothing. Their father was dead, and there was nobody but girls to do the work. But they had a promise! If they were absolutely sure of the truth of God’s promise, they went home smiling and they would be happy doing their work. They were rich girls, and eventually doubly rich - even with only work ahead right now.
Yes, and we Christians are rich too. Maybe we have lots of work and no fancy clothes or expensive cars, but we already HAVE our promised home in the Father’s house, and we can enjoy what’s coming right now. God’s Word has made us rich!
It all came true for those five girls. They all followed God’s instructions and married in their own tribe, and their promise of double riches became real!
If you are a real Christian, why not enjoy your riches right now? They are all yours! “Ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that ye through His poverty might be rich” (2 Corinthians 8:9).
Think About God’s Word!
1. How could the girls become doubly rich?
2. Have you ever broken a promise you made? Can God break His promises? You’ll find the answer in 2 Corinthians 1:20.
Project: Hebrews 11 gives a very unusual example of “riches.” What are these “riches,” and why should we value them?


It wasn’t a real snake. It was made of brass, twisted around a pole and placed very high for everyone to see. I expect you would like to know why that serpent of shining brass was up there in the sunlight that day. Here is the story: The people of God were camping in the desert near the end of their long, forty-year journey. They had very many tents, all placed in the order that God had commanded. God had taken good care of His people for all those long years of travel. Now their journey was nearly over, and the shortest route was straight ahead, through the land belonging to their father’s brother.
Can we use your highway? Moses asked.
No! And it was a definite answer.
We won’t spoil anything, and we’ll pay for whatever we use.
The answer was still, No!
God’s people were really discouraged. God would not let them fight about it, and they were all angry inside.
Do you understand their feelings? Do you feel like that too when things are not fair? God cares about your disappointment. In fact, He cared so much about His people’s disappointment that He made their trouble a whole lot worse!
Are you saying, “I don’t understand”? We have a God who is much wiser than we are. He can see that we don’t always need a smooth trail, but we always need Him.
God sent fiery serpents (serpents are snakes) slithering under the tent walls, and their terrible, poisonous bites began killing the people.
If God hates complainers, you and I deserve to die too, and that’s why God tells you this story. He wants to save you, but first of all He wants you to see that you need to be saved.
The people cried out to Moses, Ask God to take away the snakes! They were ready and wanted to be saved now, but they chose the wrong way of salvation. If God only took away the snakes, there were all those people who were already bitten who would certainly die, and that would be a lot of deaths.
Are you ready to be saved now? If you cry out to Him, be sure to let Him choose how to save you. He has already sent His only begotten Son to die for you, because He knew you needed Him. Let Him save you by the blood of Jesus who died for you! God has no other way.
The Bible does not say if God took away the snakes. It does tell us that He told Moses to make a serpent of brass and set it up high on a pole so that everyone could see it. The reason for the brass serpent was this - one look at that serpent on the pole meant instant cure! The bitten person was healed at once  .  .  .  it only took one look!
No doctor in the world could ever plan a cure like that, and no arguing could change it. God’s promise was true; all they needed was just to look. And God’s promise is true for you too. Jesus who died on the cross is the only Savior of sinners. His way is perfect. Why will you die without Him? “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).
I cannot tell you what happened to the snakes on the ground, but I know what happened to the brass serpent on the pole. We’ll tell you about it in the next story.
Think About God’s Word!
1. What did the Lord send to make the people turn to Him?
2. Have you ever been in a difficult situation where you began to pray and things seemed to get worse? Does God always answer prayers immediately? One answer can be found in Daniel 10:2-3,10-13.
Project: How many prayers can you find in the Bible that took at least one year to be answered or still haven’t been answered? You’ll find one in Romans 10.

What Happened to the Brass Serpent?

The children of Israel had been bitten by poisonous snakes, and God instructed Moses to make a serpent out of brass and mount it on a pole. God’s instructions were that the people only needed to look at the brass serpent to be healed of their snake bites. It was a simple matter of look and live!
Wasn’t that a wonderful brass serpent? No, not really. The wonder was in the God who made the promise. Maybe the serpent had to be polished to keep its shine, but it was only a brass statue on a pole and had no real power of itself. God tells you this story because He wants you to see that the power is all His own. Religion will not save you.
This amazing serpent seemed to be a treasure which the people felt must not be destroyed. Keep it, they decided. It saved our lives!
Do you think that the church can save you? No, that isn’t God’s way. Do you think that some man or woman, whoever they are, could say good prayers for you and make sure that God would listen? No, that isn’t God’s way either. These people made the same mistake about the shiny brass serpent, and it seemed to grow more important to them as the years went by.
They gave the statue lots of honor. They even burned incense to it! That means they took some sweet-smelling dried plants, the best they could find, and burned them to make a cloud of scented smoke around the serpent. This seemed very nice, but they did not search to see what God had commanded, so all their sweet smells had no value at all.
God is not hard to please. He has already provided all you need to be saved: “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved” (Acts 16:31). He does not ask you to fold your hands and pray to the cross. No, He asks you to pray to Jesus Himself - the Lord Jesus Christ. He will save you from your sins and give you power to choose His ways and to live for Him.
The king at that time was Hezekiah. The brass serpent had been treasured all through the life of David and Solomon and many others, but King Hezekiah knew that making an idol of the serpent was wrong. He didn’t trouble himself about what other great kings had done. He saw that cloud of sweet incense being offered to that ancient statue and he said, No! That’s just a piece of brass! And he broke it to pieces.
We hear no more about it, but I hope the people listened to King Hezekiah. God doesn’t want worthless worship - don’t worship “things,” no matter how valuable they may have been to you in the past.
And I hope you listen to God’s message too. We read in the Bible that our God wants worshippers!.   .   . He wants you! He will not make you a miserable slave, but He wants to save you from the pain and suffering of eternal punishment and give you eternal joy with Him in heaven forever.
Yes, life is a rough road, and God does not promise to take away your troubles now. But He does promise to stay with you always, until He comes to take you home to heaven.
“In the world ye shall have tribulation [trouble]: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).
Think About God’s Word!
1. What did the people begin to do with the brass serpent?
2. Have you ever gotten so excited by a gift that you forgot to thank the person who gave it? Have you given a gift that no one said thanks for? How do we thank God for His wonderful gift?
Project: What examples of gratefulness to the giver of a gift can you find in the Bible? Start your search in Luke 17.


“Ambush” means an attacker is hidden in an unexpected place to take someone by surprise. Before we tell you this story, we remind you that it is one of God’s Old Testament stories. God has written it so that we may learn from it, but today we do not go out to attack others as God’s people were told to do before Jesus came. The New Testament tells us of Jesus our Savior who came to suffer and die for sinners like us, and Jesus said, “Follow Me.”
“Ai” was a small name for a small city. Israel had just conquered the great city Jericho, so of course Ai would be easy. A few thousand soldiers could settle that little problem. No need to ask the Lord about that!
Are you a good person with just a few sins - not very many at all? You can handle a little problem like that without Jesus.  .  . or can you? Read this story and you might change your mind. Israel went up to fight against Ai and ran away defeated. Not only that, but thirty-six of their men were left dead on the ground -defeated! - and Ai was a small city.
Joshua, the leader of God’s people, was down in the depths of despair, but he took his problem to the right place - God -and He had the answer. We will skip part of the story and then tell you God’s plan to conquer that small city.
Thirty thousand men were sent out at night to lie in ambush behind the city, watching and ready for the signal to rise. Then Joshua and his men attacked the city in plain sight, and the soldiers of Ai rushed out to chase them. They were probably saying to themselves, Hurray for us! Let’s defeat those Israelites again! But there was one important thing that they did not know. Joshua knew, and his men knew, but the soldiers of Ai did not know about the ambush behind the city. They were doomed and did not know it. To them it looked like an easy victory.
God knows your heart too. He knows you are a sinner, and His promise of judgment against sin is unbreakable. Maybe you feel that this is your time of fun, but God has promised judgment to come.
Nobody told Ai about those men in ambush, but God is telling you right now of His judgment soon to come. God had no plan of escape for Ai, because they were wicked and had already made their choice against God, and He has not changed. There is still a way of escape for you, not because God will forget to punish you, but because Jesus Himself has taken all your fiery judgment upon Himself, but only if you will come to Him now. His perfect love casts out fear. Yes, the judgment is real, but we know that our Savior and His love for sinners is real. Will you thank Him for this without waiting a moment longer?
The men of Ai probably shouted for joy as every man from the city rushed out to chase their attackers. But the men in ambush kept watching Joshua. When he stretched out his sword toward Ai, they had their signal, and every one of them rushed to the city and set it on fire! The chasers suddenly found themselves chased and turned around to see their city ablaze!  .  .  . hopeless!  .  .  .  no place to run! Nothing but total defeat and no survivors.
God wants you to know this story because right now there IS a place for you to run. Jesus said, “Come unto ME” (Matthew 11:28), and in the strong, loving arms of Jesus you will find safety forever. If Jesus is your Savior, the judgment of God against your sin is behind you, not ahead of you. And in Christ you will find a great deal more than just safety. The love of God and His wisdom and power have no end and no boundary, and it is all for you. Will you trust Him now? Judgment to come is not a risk but a certainty! Our God keeps all His promises. We have found Him to be our Savior for today and forever.
“Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding” (Proverbs 3:5).
Think About God’s Word!
1. What victory did Israel win just before reaching Ai?
2. Did you ever brag about something and then discover later how wrong you were? What instruction does Proverbs 27 give on boasting?
Project: The Bible has a lot to say about where we should put our trust and confidence. How many verses can you find on this subject? Start your search in Psalm 20.

A Girl Named Achsah

Achsah was a little girl born in the wilderness long ago. She had many adventures; some were fun and some were unhappy. But there was one thing that made her different from other little girls. Her father was Caleb, and he was one of the few older men in camp.
Why was he still alive when the other older men had died? I will tell you why. God had promised to give the children of Israel the land of Canaan, and Caleb and another man named Joshua were two of the twelve men sent to spy out the land and see how good it was. The men came back and said that it was a very good land, but all but Caleb and Joshua said it would be impossible to take it over because the people living there were too strong.
But Caleb and Joshua knew the unbreakable promises of God. They knew that God would keep His promise to give them the land of Canaan no matter how strong the people were who lived there.
The other men died who spied out the land and gave a bad report. But Caleb and Joshua lived, and they got the land just as God had promised.
Do you know some of God’s unbreakable promises? Can you name one or two? Here’s one: “The wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 6:23). No earthquake or explosion in the world can ever break that promise! Do you believe that promise from God?
Caleb’s daughter Achsah grew up to be a very nice young lady, and Caleb looked for a brave, young warrior to be her husband. He said, Whoever conquers the city of Kirjath-sepher can marry my daughter!
The brave young man who conquered Kirjath-sepher was Othniel, and he and Achsah were soon married. But that isn’t the end of the story. Her father had given her a very good south land for their home together, but she needed something more. She didn’t just sit at home and wish for what she needed; she got on her donkey and went to find her father. Then she stood and made her request: You have given me a south land. Please give me also springs of water. She knew desert land could not grow much without necessary water.
That was an excellent request. Caleb gladly gave her double what she asked for - he gave her both upper and lower springs. There were no withered seedlings in her garden! She was willing to be a worker and make sure that her land would supply plenty of food for her family. Her husband Othniel was a conqueror, and together they worked willingly.
Are you a willing worker for God? He has not promised beautiful gardens and plenty of money, but He has promised that He “shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19). He doesn’t promise to supply all your wants but all your needs.
If you have not been cleansed from your sins by the blood of the Lord Jesus, this is your most important need! Here is another of God’s unbreakable promises for you: “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved” (Acts 16:31).
Think About God’s Word!
1. What did Achsah ask her father for?
2. How can you make plants grow in a very dry area? What did Achsah do to make sure her garden would grow well?
Project: Water is very refreshing. What did the Lord Jesus say about water for the soul? Start your search in John 7.

The Story of Samson

Samson was a strong man - a very strong man. He did not become strong by exercising and weight lifting; he was strong because it was God’s choice to make him so. The nation where he was born was under the control of Philistine conquerors, and they were afraid to do anything to get free.
Samson found a woman in the land of the Philistines who seemed just right for him to marry, and he went to visit her. It was a difficult trip for a man, even a strong man, to take alone. A loud roar, which was much too close, alerted him that a fierce lion was about to spring on him - teeth, claws and all!
I don’t really think that Samson’s strength was in his muscles, but in the power of God. He faced that hungry, vicious creature with his bare hands and tore it to death! Samson said to himself, I won’t tell anybody about the lion  .  .  .  this is my secret.
After a while he passed the same spot again, and there in the dead lion’s carcass was a surprise-bees!-lots of them! In the carcass he found a large amount of sweet honey. (And do you know something? This happened thousands of years ago, but the bees knew then how to store their honey in six-sided cells of beeswax, just as they do today.)
A handful of dripping honey was just as sweet as our honey is today, and I’m sure it left him licking his lips. He shared the honey with his father and mother too, but where the honey came from was still his secret.
God has secrets too. Why does He send troubles into our lives? You and I have troubles which hurt and scare us and make us cry. If God really loves us, why does He send troubles to us?
That is one of God’s secrets. The lion did not run away, but God gave Samson the strength to win the victory. And here’s something else to think about. After a while, he found sweet honey in that lion carcass, and it was good food for others as well as himself.
The biggest trouble that anyone in the world has ever faced was the cross of Calvary where the Savior Jesus was crucified. Our Jesus could have called for angels to destroy those evil men, but instead of that, He let them nail Him to that cross, and He suffered in the darkness for our sins. Now He is risen and has gone back to heaven. And right now He says to you, “O taste and see that the Lord is good” (Psalm 34:8). And the sweetness of knowing Jesus as your Savior is not just for today  .  .  .  it’s forever!
Maybe all you can hear today is the roar of great, big troubles. Maybe you see the teeth and claws of some danger which seems to be ruining your life. Will you remember that our Lord Jesus has already conquered the power of our enemy Satan? Jesus promised there would be troubles in your life. But then He adds, “Be of good cheer; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).
Someday you will find a blessing hidden inside that trouble. But until then, God keeps His secrets. Can you trust Him?  .  .  . even if you can’t see how any good could come from your trouble? His wisdom is perfect, and His love never fails!
“O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are His judgments, and His ways past finding out!” (Romans 11:33).
Think About God’s Word!
1. What did Samson find in the lion’s carcass?
2. Have you ever worried over a problem that turned out well in the end? What happened to Job in the last chapter of Job?
Project: How does Satan try to scare us? One of the Bible’s answers is in 1 Peter 5.

Samson and the Foxes

Do you remember how Samson visited a young woman in the land of the Philistines whom he wished to marry? But when he went back again to marry her, her father said, No! Samson was not at all happy about that and decided to get even.
Perhaps that was all right, but we have a God who loves us far more deeply than Samson ever loved this young woman. God sent His Son into the world, but Jesus, the Son of God, came to His own people, and they would not receive Him. In today’s story this young woman’s father answered for her, but you cannot let anyone else answer for you. You must answer for yourself about receiving God’s Son, the living, loving Savior. God knew long ago that you are a sinner, and you cannot come to His home in heaven with your sins. So He sent His Son for you and me: “Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God” (1 Peter 3:18).
Samson saw that the Philistines’ fields were golden with ripened grain, ready for harvesting, and some of it was already gathered into shocks standing in the fields. He also saw that the olive trees were loaded with ripe olives, ready for picking to make olive oil.
He came up with a plan to get even. He caught three hundred foxes and tied their tails together in pairs. Then he put a torch between each pair of tails and set the torches on fire. Of course, the foxes ran in all directions through the Philistines’ fields of ripened grain, and the burning torches set the fields on fire. The ripened grain and standing shocks burned to ashes, and the ripe olives flared like oil lamps!
Who did this? cried the Philistines. And they were told that Samson had done this to get even, because this young woman’s father refused to let Samson marry her. The Philistines were very angry with her and her father and burned them both with fire.
You see it is dangerous to say “No” to a strong man. But it is more dangerous to say “No” to God. His offer to save you from your sins has cost Him the life-blood of His only Son. He loves sinners with a deeper love than anyone on earth could ever love.
The Bible tells us two wonderful things that no one can change: “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners” (1 Timothy 1:15). “Our God is a consuming fire” (Hebrews 12:29).
Think About God’s Word!
1. What did Samson do to get revenge?
2. Why do we want to hurt someone that has hurt us? What did the Lord do when He was “hurt” by others? (Part of the answer is in 1 Peter 2:21-24.)
Project: How did David respond in 2 Samuel 16 when he was attacked by Shimei?

Samson and the Jawbone

In our last story of Samson, he set on fire the Philistines’ fields that were ready for harvesting. Of course, the Philistines were angry! Now Samson’s own people were afraid that the Philistines would come against them because of what Samson had done. So they hunted for Samson until they found him in the cleft of a rock where he was staying.
They planned to tie him up and hand him over to the Philistines. But they could not tie up a man who was stronger than they were. First they promised him, We will not kill you, but we will give you to the Philistines. Then Samson allowed them to tie him up. You see, God had given him a secret source of strength against the enemies of God.
All true Christians have a secret source of strength too, so that all the powers of Satan and death can never drag us down to a lost eternity. Are you saved from your sins? Are you born into the family of God? Then you are His forever, and no man or devil can snatch you out of His hand. Jesus said, “I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of My hand” (John 10:28).
The Philistines shouted when they saw their strong enemy tied up, but they did not know the power of God. The ropes on Samson’s arms broke loose like burnt thread, and God gave him mighty power. He picked up the jawbone of a donkey and killed a thousand men with it!
We Christians must remember that God never tells us to fight people. Our struggle is with the evil in our own hearts. This is where God will give us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ, but it is not an easy victory.
Samson saw all those dead men, and he said, Heaps upon heaps..   .   . With the jawbone of a donkey I have killed a thousand men! But did he really? Didn’t God give him the victory? He was taking the praise to himself.
Samson was thirsty, so thirsty that he thought he would die, and then he called on the Lord. “In the day of my trouble I will call upon Thee: for Thou wilt answer me” (Psalm 86:7). It is a good thing to call on the Lord when you are in impossible trouble, but why not call on Him right now? Our breath is always in the hand of God, and our sins were an impossible barrier. Why not praise Him for His wonderful forgiveness and ask Him for daily strength right now.
Yes, God answered Samson’s prayer of distress. He split a hollow place, and from that hollow place came springing water. Samson drank the water and was revived. He had named the place, “The high place of the jawbone,” in honor of his victory, but now he changed the name to “The well of him who called.” He was not remembering it as his victory; he was remembering it as his need.
God tells us what our song will be in heaven. All of us will be praising together the One who has redeemed us to God by His blood. Are you redeemed by the blood of Jesus? If not, you can’t join in that song, and you won’t be there. But if you are redeemed by the blood of Jesus, you can sing that song with all your heart today. You can find it in Revelation 5:9-10.
Think About God’s Word!
1. What did Samson think had given him victory?
2. Have you ever taken credit for a success that belonged to someone else? A good attitude toward a spiritual victory is given in 1 Corinthians 15:57. What is that attitude?
Project: How does 1 Samuel 17 show who David trusted for winning a victory over Goliath?

The Final Story of Samson

Samson, the great, strong man, found himself locked inside a city, with heavy gates locked and bolted to keep him in there. With his great strength, he just picked up those gates, posts and all, and carried them up the hill on his shoulder!
What made Samson so strong? You are not as strong as he was, but you have some power, and it is the same God who gives us every breath we have who gave Samson his great strength. Samson’s extra strength was given because his parents obeyed the command of God to keep Samson’s hair long, and it was never to be cut. Deep in his heart Samson knew this, and he obeyed God’s command too.
Samson was a true believer in God. But he was also a proud and selfish man. He had a lot of disappointments, but he did not learn from them. And as a result, he did not have a happy life or a happy ending. God says that the end of an upright man’s life is peace, but Samson’s end was not peace. Read on and see.
Samson saw a pretty girl named Delilah and decided to marry her. But she was not happy, because she wanted to know the secret of his great strength, and he did not want to tell her.
Hoping to satisfy Delilah’s question about his great strength, he told her lies. But she tested each lie and found each one was not the truth. Her friends promised her lots of money if she would find out the secret to his great strength and tell them. But listen  .  .  .  what is having a lot of money or being in first place or anything else, compared with the knowledge of the true and living God? Do you know Him? He is the God who made the world and who sent His only begotten Son into the world to save sinners. Do you want to know Him? Or would you rather have lots of money?
Delilah wanted that money. And Samson, who was a true believer, wanted to please her. Are you a true believer too? Is your first choice to please the God who loves you so much? If your first choice is anything lower than that, you will find pain and sorrow, as Samson did. God loves you too much to let you have your own way.
Samson finally told Delilah the truth -that if his long hair was cut, he would be like other men. Do you want to be like other people, working for the same goals as the world does? It is a long way down for a believer to live for the same goals as the world.
Delilah’s friends sneaked in and cut his hair. God is still with me, thought Samson, but he was wrong. His great strength was gone! They blinded him, put him in prison, and gave him the job of turning the millstone to grind grain all day long. This work was for donkeys, but they thought it was good enough for their prisoner, and all the shouting and victory was given to their false god Dagon.
Samson was in prison a long time, and his hair began to grow again. His enemies seemed to forget that the source of his strength had been in his long hair, but God did not forget. God knows where every one of His dear children is right now, and He is working to give you better than you ask or think.
Those people planned a big party for Dagon their god, and everybody crowded into the temple for the celebration. Nobody wanted to miss the fun. The temple was a big place with an amazing roof, which was supported by two huge pillars. The best view was on the ground floor, but people on the roof could see and share in the fun too. When everyone was celebrating, blind Samson was led in by a young boy and placed between the two pillars so that everyone could see his badly scarred face and ragged hair. We can imagine the cheers and laughing because their big enemy was defeated.
Was he? Yes, but God was not defeated, and His Word shall stand forever.
Samson said to the boy who held him by the hand, Let me feel the pillars so that I can lean on them. And then Samson prayed to the God in whom his heart truly believed, O Lord God, remember me and strengthen me only this once, O God, that I may have revenge on the Philistines for my two eyes.
Let me die with the Philistines! he said, and then he pushed with all his might! The two great pillars collapsed and the temple fell on all the people! The laughing was changed to screaming.   .   . and then the silence of death. The world’s fun doesn’t last.
God had seen that precious bit of true faith underneath Samson’s pride, and God valued it and included Samson’s name in Hebrews 11 - the faith chapter. But it was a terribly sad ending for Samson.
If you are a true believer, God wants you to live by faith every day. “Faith [comes] by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17). This will lead to a happy life and a happy ending.
Think About God’s Word!
1. What did Delilah’s friends do to Samson?
2. Have you ever done something wrong so that your friends wouldn’t laugh at you? What does God say about that in Proverbs 29:25?
Project: Galatians 2 contains the story of a real believer who did a wrong thing because he was afraid of what others would say. Who was he and what did he do?

The Poor Man's Lamb

There was not much money to spare in the poor man’s house, but he found enough to buy a lamb, a soft woolly lamb. Of course, his children loved it. It was not a lamb that lived outside in the field; it was a family pet, loved almost like a child. It even shared their food and drank from the poor man’s cup. I can picture that man resting in his chair, leaning back with that special pet lamb cuddled up on his chest. Nobody needs to teach a lamb to stay close.
There was plenty to spare in the rich man’s house. He had sheep and lambs, lots of them. He had herds of cows and goats too. They were born in his fields and grew up there. He was rich enough to have big dinners and fancy food every day.
Here comes a traveler to the rich man’s front door. “Greetings,” the traveler said as he introduced himself to the rich man. Of course, every traveler is invited to stay for dinner, and it would be one of the rich man’s fancy dinners with the best of everything.
Suppose you were the rich man: What would you do? First of all, if you give something to a traveler, make sure it is yours to give. It is God who gives us all we have. It is God who created us with the word of His mouth. It is God who gave His only begotten Son for us. These riches are mine to share with you. Je-sus is my Savior forever, and He can be yours too. With all my heart I want to share Him with you, and He will be yours forever too.
The rich man was selfish. He looked over his pastures filled with sheep, but he would not give up one of his own for dinner that night. It must be a tender roast for his visitor. His reputation depended on it. The poor man’s lamb would make the best dinner. Yes, he would take it.
It is not hard to picture the tears and emptiness in the poor man’s house. The pet lamb was gone, and there was no one to set things right. Maybe you are angry and upset and ready to scold that wicked rich man. When King David heard that story, he felt like that too! He was furious at such selfishness!
And then suddenly the prophet Nathan, who told the story to King David, pointed the finger at the king and said, You are the man!
The truth is that King David had taken another man’s wife, and who’s brave enough to accuse the king? But God knew that what King David had done was caused by selfishness, and he had tried to cover up his selfishness to save his reputation.
I think we all see a little of our own selfishness, but we try to cover it up so that no one will know how bad we are. But God knows, and only God can wipe the record clean. Don’t pretend it is not there; it grows deeper every day. But God Himself is the only One who can say, as He said to David after he confessed his sin, The Lord has put away your sin. You shall not die. God is a forgiving God and gives everlasting life - a life which never dies, although our natural bodies may die just as others do.
It was Jesus Himself who took the punishment for our sins in those dark hours on the cross. That wonderful word “forgiven” is for us who have taken shelter in the One who died for us. “In whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace” (Ephesians 1:7). His forgiveness is for sinners only. Will you repent and come to Him now? You can know that your sins are forgiven, and no matter what your background, you can be a child of God, fit for His home in heaven forever.
“Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered” (Romans 4:7).
Think About God’s Word!
1. What did the rich man serve the traveler for dinner?
2. Have you confessed your sin to God? When we confess our sins to God, what do we discover about Him? You’ll find the answer in 1 John 1.
Project: What did David say to God when he confessed the sin talked about in this chapter? You’ll find the answer in Psalm 51.

Who Stopped the Fire? Part 1

Take a deep breath and then blow. That’s the way to put out the fire on a candle or on a dozen candles at one time. But not all fires are put out that easily. There are times when a forest fire gets out of control, and all the planes dumping water, trucks hauling water, and firefighters and volunteers cannot put it out. But here is one of God’s wonderful stories that is different from any you have read before.
Build an altar, said Elijah, a man of God. Place some wood on top and then your slaughtered animal. Then pray to your god to send fire from the sky to burn it up.
And the people who worshipped the god Baal did what Elijah said. Hundreds of them were all praying to Baal to send fire from the sky to burn up their sacrifice. They kept praying for hours, and they prayed louder and louder, but there was no answer from their god. They jumped up and down in a frenzy as they prayed. They even tried cutting themselves till they bled. But there was no fire and no answer. Was Baal not listening?
The truth is that they were praying to a god who really had no power to save them. Of course there was no answer. God had silenced him.
Do you pray too? Are you praying to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ? Or do your prayers go to a god who cannot save you? Our God hears the prayers and cries of His children, and He gives good things to those who ask Him. And He gives better than what we ask or think to ask for. He knows exactly what we need, and He knows you need Him.
Then it was Elijah’s turn. He built an altar of twelve stones. Then he laid wood on the altar, and on top of that he placed a slaughtered bull that was cut in pieces. Around the altar he dug a trench, and then he asked for four barrels of water to be poured all over the sacrifice. Then he told them to pour more water on it the second time and then the third. Twelve barrels of water were poured over the sacrifice, and everything was soaking wet and the trench all around the altar was full of water too.
Now Elijah’s prayer was surprising. There was no doubt about the God he was praying to: “Lord God of Abraham, Isaac and of Israel, let it be known this day that Thou art God in Israel, and that I am Thy servant, and I have done all these things at Thy word.”
That was a good beginning, wasn’t it? He was not trying to be a famous man, but just to let God’s power shine out. Listen to what else he prayed: “Hear me, O Lord, hear me, that this people may know that Thou art the Lord God, and that Thou hast turned their heart back again.”
It burned up the sacrifice and the wood! But it didn’t stop there. It burned up the stones and licked up all the water that was in the trench! And when the people saw it, they fell on their faces and said, “The Lord, He is the God; the Lord, He is the God.”
Now here is the question: What stopped the fire? Why didn’t it burn up those people who worshipped Baal too? It was not burned out. It must be that God stopped the fire. He loved those people who worshipped Baal, and He was willing to turn their hearts to Himself. But would they listen? Would they turn to the only true God? Elijah said to all the people, “How long halt ye between two opinions? If the Lord be God, follow Him” (1 Kings 18:21).
What about you? The Lord loves you too. There is time for you to turn to Him  .  .  .  right now  .  .  .  today. Will you listen? Will you turn?
Think About God’s Word!
1. What was Baal’s answer when people prayed to him?
2. Have you ever talked to someone who answered you without really “hearing” what you had to say? How can we be confident from Hebrews 4:14-16 that God cares about our prayers?
Project: How does Daniel 10 show us that God has heard our prayer even when we don’t hear His answer?

Who Stopped the Fire? Part 2

Our last story was about when God saved the people by stopping the fire, because He loved them and wanted to win their hearts. And this story is even better.
This story is not about a bull that was killed as a sacrifice and laid on an altar of stones and then fire from heaven burned it all up. This story is about a much, much better sacrifice than that. Read on and see.
There was a time when Jesus Himself was nailed to a wooden cross as a sacrifice. In the last story, there were twelve barrels of water, but there was no water here to make the fire any less. Jesus Himself was the Sacrifice, but He was not dead - He was alive on that cross. There were many there to watch Him die, but God did not allow them to see.
No one prayed and asked God to send this fire, as Elijah did. Jesus Himself, the sinless One, asked that the fire of God’s wrath against sin might pass from Him, but He added, “Thy will be done.” The fire of God’s judgment is far worse than any fire that your eyes can see. God brought darkness over all the earth at noon that day, so that no one saw that fire.
Do you remember that in the last story the sacrifice was burned and the stones and water were also burned up, and the people fell on their faces and admitted, “The Lord, He is the God”? But at the cross, when the fire of God’s judgment was over, Jesus Himself was still alive and was able to say, “It is finished”! The wooden cross was still there, and the Sacrifice was not consumed. The fire was not held back, but rather the judgment was FINISHED! Jesus bowed His head and gave up His spirit. No one else on earth ever died like that!
What judgment then is left for me? None at all! The work is finished. After Jesus died, the Roman soldier pierced His side, and the blood and water flowed and demonstrate that the work is finished. He died for me, and His blood has washed away all my sins.
Jesus rose from the dead the third day, and He lives forever to tell you that He died for you. That is why He is sending you this message today. No one but Je-sus will ever offer you a full and free forgiveness, because His sacrifice is enough.
Will you come to Jesus now? He knows all about you and the wrong things you have done. But He loves you anyway, and He is listening for your answer. Right now is the time to say “Yes!” to Him. If Jesus is not your Savior, then you don’t have a Savior. He said, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth My word, and believ-eth on Him that sent Me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life” (John 5:24). “Behold, now is the day of salvation” (2 Corinthians 6:2).
Think About God’s Word!
1. What’s worse than any fire our eyes can see?
2. What punishment do your sins deserve? Revelation 20:15 gives a very solemn answer. What is it?
3. There are many ways that God shows us that the judgment is finished for a believer. How many can you give? You can start your search in 2 Corinthians 5.

It Rained and It Rained

Elijah and his servant climbed to the top of Mount Carmel. Sometimes it’s fun to climb a mountain and stand up there on the top and look in every direction. As we look off into the distance, we wonder at the beautiful view, but all too soon we must come down again through the dark forest and over the sharp, gray rocks.
But I don’t think it was fun for Elijah up there on the mountaintop that day. He was probably a thin and very thirsty man. You see, more than three years earlier he had prayed earnestly to God that He would stop the rains. And it did not rain for three years, so the trees were all bare and the farms and gardens had no flowers or food.
Why did Elijah pray to have the rains stopped? Because God’s people, who should have known better, were worshipping false gods, and this is not only sin, but it brings other sins. God’s way for us is the only way that works. And God cares about us, because He loves us very much.
Elijah had already destroyed the evil prophets, and now he reached the mountaintop and sat down with his head between his knees. I think he was praying in this position, and it was a short prayer. It was simply, Send rain! And this is exactly what God was ready to do. But notice that the evil prophets were destroyed first.
Elijah said to his servant, Go and look toward the sea. This was the great Mediterranean Sea, and the sky above it was solid blue with no clouds, as it had been for more than three years.
There is nothing, reported the servant.
Go again, said Elijah, and he repeated this command six times. And every time the servant’s answer was the same. There is nothing.
Have you found it the same in your life too? Nothing you hope for comes true. You are ready to say that God doesn’t answer. Remember one thing - nobody can break God’s promises! If you come to Him, He has promised never, never to cast you out. Jesus has promised cleansing for your sins, peace for your conscience, and everlasting life now and in His home forever. Come to Him now and find yourself richer than all the gold in all the countries of the whole world combined. God gives His blessings freely and forever.
Elijah told his servant to go look toward the sea again - the seventh time -and there it was.   .   . a cloud the size of a man’s hand! That’s not very big in the great blue sky, but Elijah knew his God and what He could do with one small cloud.
Elijah said, Tell the king to get his chariot ready so the rain doesn’t stop him!
Then the sky was black with clouds and wind, and there was a great rain. And it rained, and it rained.
Elijah’s prayer was answered. Then he did a surprising thing. He tucked the skirts of his robe (which the men wore in those days) into his belt so he could run, and he ran ahead of King Ahab’s chariot all the way to Jezreel.
That was a fast run, and it must have surprised the king. But the queen was not at all pleased  .  .  .  no, not at all! She did not want God to interfere with her life.
Are you like that too? Do you say, “I can handle my own problems”? You know, the biggest problem is that you are a sinner. Maybe the queen knew that too, but she still didn’t want God or anybody who brought a message from God  .  .  .  not even a good message, and she threatened to kill Elijah. She didn’t care about answered prayer and the love of God.
Do you? “God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son” (John 3:16). “In this was [shown] the love of God toward us, because that God sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him” (1 John 4:9). That’s the best news anybody ever told. Do you stand with the wicked queen on that subject and say, “NO”? Then you will perish forever in hell. That’s where lost sinners will end up. Or will you receive God’s love and the gift of His Son and live?
Think About God’s Word!
1. Why did Elijah pray to have the rain stopped?
2. Does it ever seem to you that God doesn’t answer our prayer? What character did Elijah have to have in order to wait for God’s answer to his prayers?
Project: How many years did God wait to fulfill the promise He made to the serpent in Genesis 3?

What Happened to Elijah?

In the story of the long, long drought in the land of Israel and then the downpour of rain, Elijah was the prophet whom God used for this miracle. But the power came from God Himself. When the false prophets called for rain that didn’t come, Elijah said to them, Call louder! Maybe your god is asleep! To the people he said, If the Lord be God, follow Him: but if Baal, then follow him.
Then the prophets who called on their false god were all killed by the command of Elijah. God’s judgments are serious.
Those false prophets served the queen. When she heard they were all dead, she was so angry with Elijah that she planned to kill him. As queen, she could certainly do this, if God didn’t protect him. Elijah seemed to remember her power, but not God’s power.
Which power is more important to you? Maybe someone is doing bad things to you, or maybe a serious disease looks fatal for you. But think about this -God has power to cast you into hell forever! Which of these powers is the most important - a person, a disease or God?
It is God’s own Son who has died for our sins, and this very moment He is ready to save you. Hell is for the devil and his angels and for unsaved sinners, but it is never, never for anyone who has trusted in Jesus. His arms are wide open to save you now.
Elijah ran for his life. He left his servant in a city, but he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness and sat down under a juniper tree and prayed. Here is his prayer: It is enough! Lord, take away my life, for I am no better than my fathers!
What do you think of that prayer? Elijah certainly was praying to the right Person. He cared more about God than about the queen. But it seems that up to this point he thought he was better than his fathers, and now he is in despair. Will God take away his life? Oh, no! God tenderly cared for him, just as He will do for you if you come to Him.
Elijah fell asleep under that tree. Then God sent an angel to provide bread and water for His tired, hungry servant. It was fresh bread, baked right there beside him. The angel touched him and said, Arise and eat. Elijah ate and slept again. A second time the angel touched him and said, Arise and eat, because the journey is too great for you. Elijah ate and drank again. Now here is a surprise: That was the last food he ate for forty days, and it lasted him until he reached Mount Horeb!
But Elijah still had not learned his lesson. He found a cave to stay in on Mount Horeb. Then God sent a very strong wind that tore into the mountain and smashed rocks, then He sent an earthquake and then a fire. It was all terribly frightening, but it still didn’t change Elijah’s thoughts.
After the fire came a still, small voice, and the Lord said, What are you doing here, Elijah?
Elijah answered, I have been very jealous for the Lord God of hosts, because the children of Israel have forsaken Thy covenant, torn down Thine altars and killed Thy prophets. I’m the only one left, and they’re trying to kill me too!
That was not a good answer. We should not tell God how bad His people are. Remember that God loves them, and He loves you too. Elijah had a lot to learn about God’s love. If God has given you food today, it is because He loves you. And He loves those other people too. Don’t tell God how bad they are. Instead, tell those people how good God is!
Elijah didn’t know that there were 7,000 men who had not worshipped the false god Baal. Do you know where there are other Christians? Share the love of God with them, and don’t think you are the only faithful one.
If we think Elijah had something to learn, let’s remember that we have more chance to learn than he did. “God is love” (1 John 4:16). “God commendeth His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). It will be awful for unsaved sinners to spend eternity without the love of God.
Think About God’s Word!
1. Where did Elijah end up after his forty-day journey?
2. Can you remember a time when you thought you were better than others? What does God call that attitude?
Project: How does Daniel 9 show that Daniel didn’t think he was better than other Jews?

More About Elijah

Maybe you remember that while Elijah was on Mount Horeb he was telling God how bad His people were and how he was the only faithful one left. God was not pleased to hear this faultfinding on Elijah’s part.
God gave Elijah a message: Go and anoint Elisha to be prophet in your place. And Elijah went, without arguing or complaining.
He found Elisha as God had said. Elisha and the servants were plowing a field with twelve yoke of oxen. That equals twenty-four oxen and eleven servants: Elisha was a rich man! But that didn’t stop him from following his God.
When Elisha found that God was calling him, he killed two oxen, used the wooden yoke and plow to make a fire, and boiled the meat to feed the servants. Then he followed Elijah.
That was costly obedience, wasn’t it? Instead of being a rich man, he was now a servant himself, sometimes pouring water on the hands of Elijah to wash them. And all his riches now belonged to others.
But let me tell you a secret. Elisha was richer now than he was before! It is better to follow God, the God who made the world and who has a place for you in heaven. How can you be there in His wonderful home that He has prepared? Only if you place your trust in Jesus, the Savior of sinners. That wonderful place belongs to Him since He rose from the dead and is living up there right now. If you have trusted Jesus as your very own Savior, that place will be yours too someday. “In My Father’s house are many mansions.  .  .  . I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto Myself; that where I am, there ye may be also” (John 14:2-3).
One day the two men, Elijah and Elisha, walked together until they came to the Jordan River. When they reached the river, Elijah wrapped his mantle, or cloak, into a bundle and struck the water with it. The water divided, and the two men walked across on dry land. They both knew that the parting time had come. Elijah must go. As they talked together, Elijah said, Ask what I shall do for you.
Now there’s a big question! Guess what Elisha asked for. He didn’t say anything about money or houses or land. No, he asked for a double share of Elijah’s spirit!
Then Elijah said, That’s a hard thing. But if you see me when I am taken away from you, you will have what you ask.
We can imagine how Elisha never took his eyes off Elijah, and he saw a wonderful sight! A chariot of fire and horses of fire suddenly appeared between them, and Elijah was taken up by a whirlwind into the heavens.
Elisha went back across the Jordan River alone, but he had the same wonderful power to work miracles that Elijah had, and his was even better. Elisha’s miracles were full of grace and of healing and of plenty. Our God is a God of judgment and of grace. If you refuse His loving-kindness offered to you through the death of His beloved Son, all that’s left for you is judgment! God is real, and He does not change!
Elisha went to Jericho, but the people wondered where Elijah was. They said, Let’s go search for him. But Elisha said, No. They coaxed until he said, Yes, and they sent fifty men to search for him in the mountains and valleys, but they came back without a clue. Of course not! When the Lord Jesus comes with a great shout to call all believers to heaven, no searching will ever find us. We’ll be gone, and the door of mercy will be closed.
While the door of mercy is still open, are you listening to God’s message of mercy to you?
Think About God’s Word!
1. How did Elisha get a “double share” of Elijah’s spirit?
2. Have you ever been asked to obey when it would mean you would “lose out” on something you really liked? Luke 18:29-30 gives God’s promise in situations like that. What is it?
Project: The Apostle Paul paid a large price for his obedience to Christ. You can read about it in 2 Corinthians 11-12. How do we know he wasn’t sorry about his sacrifice?

King Asa's Victory

If you have a test at school, is it all right to have a secret helper? Of course not, and if you do, you are cheating! But King Asa had a helper, and it was not cheating. Here is the story.
Asa was a young king, and he began his reign by telling all his people how important it is to obey the Lord God, and he showed them how. First of all, he set to work to chop down the false altars and idols. Next he built cities with strong walls, towers, gates and bars. Then he made his soldiers strong with shields and spears. Good work, King Asa!
It was a happy time for the king and his people. They had ten years of enjoying the good things God gave them. It was a time of peace, with no sad lists of soldiers killed in war.
And then came fear.
A great army of a million soldiers came to fight them! King Asa had a big army, but this enemy was almost twice as big, and they came to fight and kill and win.
What can you do when you face an enemy twice your size? Here’s the answer for King Asa and for you too. “Call upon Me in the day of trouble: I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify Me” (Psalm 50:15).
King Asa prayed. Lord, it is nothing for Thee to help, whether with many or with them who have no power. Help us, O Lord our God, for we rest on Thee and in Thy name we go against this great enemy. O Lord, Thou art our God. Let not this enemy conquer against Thee!
Did you notice how his prayer ended? He did not say, Let not this enemy conquer against us. He said, Let not this enemy conquer against Thee! The battle was not between the two armies. The enemy was coming against GOD! Now who wins?
The Lord God struck the invaders, and King Asa and his army chased them all the way back to the city of Gerar and overthrew them. They were destroyed before the Lord and His army. In fact, King Asa’s men not only conquered them, they ended up far richer than they were before! They found great numbers of cattle and sheep and camels, and they brought them back for their own people, along with spoils taken from the cities.
Did you notice that this story began with King Asa destroying the worship of idols and false gods? Maybe you don’t worship idols, but what do you worship? Something of your own choosing? You cannot truly go into the holy presence of God except by the blood of Jesus. “The blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us from all sin” (1 John 1:7). If you know Him as your very own Savior, you can come boldly into God’s presence by the blood of Jesus. And when Satan and all his army come against you, you can be more than a conqueror! Would you rather go down to defeat now and forever, without Christ?
King Asa’s soldiers and all his people were gloriously triumphant! The prophet Azariah came out to meet them, to encourage and warn them. He reminded them that trusting in God brings victory and forsaking God brings defeat. Now they knew the secret of success.
King Asa listened to Azariah and brought together a huge, eager crowd. They took away the idols, offered a sacrifice of seven hundred bulls and seven thousand sheep, and then made a very solemn promise with true hearts and souls: We will seek the Lord God, and if anyone doesn’t do this, he will be put to death!
This was a loud promise, with shouts and trumpets and rams’ horns, and everyone was rejoicing. And the Lord God gave them rest from war.
Do you think the king kept his promise? Read the next story and see.
Think About God’s Word!
1. Who did Asa tell the Lord that the million-man army had come to fight?
2. Have you ever been in serious danger? What did you do? What did King Asa do? What did Hezekiah do according to 2 Kings 18:14-15?
Project: David also faced some very serious dangers in his life. One of them is described in 1 Samuel 30. What was his trouble and how did he deal with it?

Another Story About King Asa

Asa had been king now for thirty-six years, and things had been going very well for him and for his people. They had made great promises to follow only the true God.
Aren’t promises enough?
Not really. You may have seen a branch of a fruit tree or a grape vine all in blossom-a hope, or promise, that in a number of months it will be loaded with fruit. But instead, it withers up and grows no fruit! Why not? Somehow, it was broken right where the branch joined the trunk, and no more sap came through. No sap - no fruit. Promises are not enough. The branch cannot grow fruit unless it stays connected to the vine or the tree trunk.
Now here comes another enemy king against King Asa, and this new enemy comes in a different way. He plans to build a city to blockade supplies from going in or coming out of King Asa’s city. That might be a good plan, but King Asa heard about it and wanted to make sure it did not work. Who could he get to help him?
Benhadad was a great, strong king. So King Asa figured out that there was enough gold and silver in the house of the Lord and his own house to bribe Benhadad to come and help him. Benhadad had already promised to join with the enemy king, but Asa hoped that when he saw all the gold and silver he was going to offer him, Benhadad would break his promise to the enemy king. Perhaps bribery would win him over.
Yes, it worked!
Benhadad sent the captains of his army, and they destroyed the enemy king’s cities. This made the enemy decide it was safer to go home. So the enemy’s plan against King Asa did not work.
There was a prophet who knew that this was the wrong way to avoid trouble. He came to King Asa and reminded him of the great battle some years earlier when the Lord had made them joyfully victorious, but this time he had not relied on the Lord. And the prophet added, “The eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward Him” (2 Chronicles 16:9).
The verse says “the whole earth,” and that sounds like you and I are included too. “Perfect” means resting on Jesus alone, and not on anything I can do or have done. Je-sus has died for me, and He is all I need. I don’t have to pay Him money to take care of me, because He loves me!
What the prophet said made King Asa so angry that he put the prophet in prison and mistreated some of the people. After that, King Asa had his own troubles too. His feet became diseased.
Maybe you have troubles, and the first thing to do is to pray to the Lord about them. King Asa skipped that part and went to the doctor first about the disease in his feet, but nothing seemed to help him. The infection only became worse, and King Asa died.
King Asa left us with three lessons to learn: 1. He had a glorious victory against huge enemy forces, because he knew only the Lord could save him.
2. He broke his promise, because he did things his own way and did not rely on the Lord.
3. He did not get relief from trouble, because he went to the wrong helper first and left the Lord out, and he had greater trouble afterward.
God tells us this story because He loves us, and He wants us to rely on Him rather than trying to solve our problems by ourselves. “In the day of my trouble I will call upon Thee: for Thou wilt answer me” (Psalm 86:7).
Think About God’s Word!
1. How did King Asa try to solve his problem with the blockade of his city?
2. Was there ever a time when you tried to solve your own problems instead of leaving them to the Lord? Philippians 4:6-7 gives interesting instruction for this type of situation.
Project: There are many verses in God’s Word that show we should have strong confidence in our God. How many can you list? Start your search in Psalm 20.


The centurion was an important man in the Roman army. He had one hundred men under him, and every one of them must take orders from him. They had to do exactly as they were told, no matter if it was hard or easy. What the centurion said must be done at once! He understood military obedience, for he was under authority too.
The centurion had a problem. He had a servant at home who was very dear to him, but something had happened and now he was paralyzed. The servant was really miserable, and there was no hope of a cure. Emergency help was the only answer, but they didn’t have the kind of medical help that you and I have available today. What could the centurion do for his servant?
There is one Power that does not change with research or centuries. That one Power is the same One who created the world and who will finally burn up the whole world. Isn’t it wonderful that that very same Power is for us and not against us! “If God be for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31). That same God who holds our breath in His hand is the same God who sent His only beloved Son into the world that we might live through Him.
The centurion knew that Jesus the Son of God was in Capernaum not far away, and he came to Jesus and told Him his problem.
I will come and heal your servant, said Jesus.
When Jesus was here on earth, anyone could have asked for healing and received it. Jesus healed everyone who came to Him. But this centurion was a man of faith, not just in the healing itself, but faith in Jesus, the Son of God - the One who had all power.
Faith does not trust in people or in things; faith trusts in the one Person -Jesus, the Savior of sinners. If you have real faith in Him, you can tell Him your problem, and He can hear you just as well as if He were standing beside you.
The centurion said to Jesus, I am not worthy for You to come under my roof. Just speak a word and my servant will be healed. A word from Jesus was enough for him. We don’t have Jesus on earth with us today, but we have His Word - the Word of God - the Bible. Is it enough for you? His Word tells us that He is truly the only One who can save you. “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). Will you trust Him?
I am a man under authority, said the centurion. I command and my soldiers obey. You see, he knew that Jesus was under God’s authority, and so His commands must be obeyed. And like the centurion, you can come to Jesus right now and receive from Him His great gift of forgiveness of sins. He can give this to you because He paid the price Himself. Will you come?
Jesus turned to those who were following Him and told them how He was amazed at the centurion’s faith. The crowds who saw what Jesus could do did not have faith like that. Even if they shared the excitement of being healed, they might still be in their sins and on their way to hell. The centurion was a Roman and from a different religion, but it was in Jesus Himself and His word that he trusted now. Be sure above all things that it is the Lord Jesus and His Word that you are trusting and not in your religion or your country.
Jesus said to the centurion, Go your way. As you have believed, so let it be done for you. And the centurion’s servant was healed at that very moment.
That was no surprise, was it? Jesus always answers those who trust Him and His Word. It may surprise other people, but it will not surprise you  .  .  .  it will fill you with joy.
Think About God’s Word!
1. What does faith trust in and what doesn’t it trust in?
2. Is it possible to put faith in something that’s untrustworthy? Have you ever trusted someone’s promise and found they didn’t keep it? What does Hebrews 10:23 tell us about the God who has made promises to us?
Project: How many different examples from Hebrews 11 can you give of how faith acts?

What's Inside?

What’s inside the box? I wondered and wondered when the box was set on the table with instructions that read, “Don’t open it now!” It was a nice-looking box, and it was not wrapped or tied. It was a shoebox, but that didn’t give me a clue to the mystery. Yes, it was something for me, but I had no idea what was inside.
There are lots of puzzles and mysteries in life and many things we cannot guess. But when our Lord Jesus was here on earth, He never found anything beyond His knowledge and understanding, because He was the Son of God. There were nice people who asked Him questions, and Jesus always knew the thoughts and reasons behind their questions. Sometimes their questions were not as nice as they sounded.
And Jesus knows the thoughts and reasons behind our questions too. Does that make you glad, or does it trouble you?
There were men who asked Jesus questions because they wanted to make Him say something that would get Him into trouble. But Matthew 9:4 tells us, “Jesus knowing their thoughts said, Wherefore think ye evil in your hearts?” Jesus knew what they were thinking and what their motives were. Even while He was here on earth, Jesus was God who knows everything and the God who forgives sins. The Pharisees knew that only God could forgive sins, so they questioned, How could Jesus forgive sins? The answer is Jesus is God! That’s how.
Yes, Jesus’ answer did get Him into trouble. He came to die for sinners, like you and me, but those men were guilty of blaming Him for telling the truth. Jesus knew what was in their hearts and that they were trying to corner Him. Nothing was a secret to Him. “[God knows] the secrets of the heart” (Psalm 44:21).
I am very glad that He knows what is in my heart, because I don’t want to have secrets from Him. Do you? He could not forgive my sins if He did not know them.
Perhaps you are still wondering what was in my box. I did not have to wonder very long. In fact, I never opened that box, because there was something alive inside that opened it for me! The lid tipped up, and there were two bright eyes of a cute, little gray kitten with a pink nose and whiskers. That’s what was in my shoebox, and I never guessed it!
That’s a real story. My kitten was a special gift, and he lived for fifteen years and then died. But do you know something? Jesus is a very special gift for you, right now. Let me tell you how.
The men who had secret thoughts against Jesus finally led Him to Calvary’s cross, and they were glad to see Him crucified. He could easily have avoided the cross, but He died there for a special reason-it was His love for you and me. Because He shed His blood on the cross, the way has been opened for us to have our sins forgiven so that we will go to heaven someday. “[Jesus] in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace” (Ephesians 1:7).
Jesus was buried too, but here’s the wonderful part - He rose again! The Lord Jesus is not dead - He is alive in heaven today! I have not seen Him, but I surely will see Him, and so will you. God’s Word tells us that every eye will see Him, and that means you too. Is He your very own Savior? You may gladly receive Him today or you may do like those other men - try to keep your secrets from Him and leave Him out of your life. Either way, you are sure to see Him after you leave this world, either as your Savior or as your Judge.
The Lord Jesus saves people one at a time, and it doesn’t matter how old you are or where you live. Will you be that one right now? “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners” (1 Timothy 1:15).
Think About God’s Word!
1. Why did the men in this story ask Jesus questions?
2. Did you ever have a secret in your heart that you did not want the Lord Jesus to know? What verse in Matthew 9 that you’ve just read shows that this is impossible?
Project: Daniel 2 tells us something very interesting about what God does with secret things. What does He do?

What About the Weeds?

It was good seed. The owner made sure of that. It was very important for him to have a good crop of wheat, so he was very careful to plant only good seed in his field.
Most of us like good bread to eat, but there would be no bread without fields of wheat. The owner with the good seed had an important job to do, not only for himself, but also for all the people. That good seed was carefully planted before sunset that day.
The owner had workers too, and when nighttime came, they all slept. As the days passed, something wonderful went on under the ground, and before long they saw the little green wheat shoots breaking through the planted field. It was so good to see the tiny plants.   .   . but something was wrong! Some of the little green shoots did not look quite right.
Weeds! said the workers. Who planted weeds?
The workers went at once to the owner who had planted good seed in his field and asked him, Didn’t you sow good seed in your field? Where did the weeds come from?
The owner knew. An enemy has done this, he said.
And if the owner is Jesus, the Son of God, He saw what happened in the dark night when the workers were all asleep. You see, this story is a “parable,” a story that Jesus told to help us understand why so many wrong things happen around us and in our own hearts. We have an enemy, Satan, who tries to spoil everything that God has done. Satan does his work secretly, in the dark, so that you won’t know. “Aha, this is fun!” he says, but he does not tell you the end of the road.
Shall I tell you what God says about the end of the road for those weeds that were spoiling the crop of wheat?
The workers saw the weeds beginning to grow and asked, Should we go and pull them up? No, said the owner. If you do, you will pull up the good wheat along with the weeds. Wait until harvesttime, and then I will tell the reapers, “First gather together the weeds and bind them in bundles to burn. Then gather the wheat into my barn.”
Those workers were very wise men, because they said in their hearts, The owner knows. Their plan was to pull up the weeds, but the owner knew that would destroy some good plants too. The workers couldn’t tell for sure which were good plants and which were weeds.
Since this is a parable, those plants are like real people-maybe like you or me. Maybe everybody knows you and I are sinful, or maybe people think you and I are quite good. It isn’t what everybody thinks that is important but what God decides.
At harvesttime, the weeds were bound up in bundles and burned. There are many people who will be sent into everlasting fire. God is the One who decides. He has seen us in the daylight and in the dark all during our lives, and He knows.
You may read this parable in Matthew 13, but it does not tell everything. It does not tell you that Jesus loves sinners like you and me. The same Savior who gathered the good seed into His barn is the same Savior who died for sinners. “Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us, and sent His Son to be the propitiation [deliverer] for our sins” (1 John 4:10). He wants you in His home in heaven forever, and He wants you to be His very own right now.
Jesus Himself told this story as a big red STOP sign to warn you that hell is very real. There is wonderful love in the heart of Jesus, who went all the way to Calvary and died there for sinners like you and me. Will you come to His loving, open arms right now?
Think About God’s Word!
1. Who planted the weeds to spoil the field?
2. Do you remember a time when something bad happened because you weren’t paying attention? Luke 22:39-47 tells an interesting story. Did the disciples do what the Lord asked them to?
Project: Sleep can be a wonderful rest for the body. When are we told to sleep and when are we told to wake up? You can get started on your answer by searching in Romans 13 and Proverbs 3.

A Surprise From Under the Sea

Deep down under the sea something wonderful happened. A tiny speck of sand was stuck inside the oyster’s shell. Oysters don’t do much thinking, but this one used its God-given instinct and covered that speck of sand with a layer of its own nacre so it would not hurt its tender flesh. Now that speck of sand became a tiny pearl, very, very beautiful and unseen by anyone but God.
The oyster grew and the pearl also became larger as the oyster covered it with more layers of nacre. It became a pure, glistening, white gem, a secret treasure, which no one but God had ever seen. In fact, you would never know it was there if I had not told you.
Jesus told us about that secret pearl, because He has a secret too. Wait till you hear the rest of the story.
There was a pearl diver up on top of the waves in a boat. He took a deep breath and went down under and came up again with the oyster in his hand, using the last bit of breath in his lungs. Is there a pearl inside? A really good one? he wondered. Open it and see the gem!
Not long after, a merchantman came along in search of perfect pearls. Ah, there’s one! But it was very, very costly! The buyer knew at once that he could not afford such a gem. The only way he could pay for it was to sell everything he had. Would he do that? Sell everything? This would make him very poor and leave him with nothing, not even a bed to sleep on. Did he want the pearl that badly? If he were an ordinary shopper, he would just walk away, but this merchant was a reminder to us of Je-sus. He wanted us so much that He was willing to come down from the throne of God, down to having nothing-not even a place to lay His head. Nobody could go any lower than death on a cross. Did He really want us that much? Were we that valuable to Him?
Jesus knew all about us when nobody else did, and we were beautiful in His sight. He saw us grow in size, but our sins tarnished any beauty. Some gems have to be polished, but not pearls. They are beautiful just as they are. Jesus loves all of His children, wherever they are, and He doesn’t miss one. There are more of us every day, as each one is saved and cleansed by His precious blood. We are all like one very valuable pearl in His sight, and He wanted us so much He was willing to give up everything-even His life - to purchase us. What amazing love!
Do you remember that He rose from the dead the third day, and He is now living in heaven? If your sins have been cleansed in His precious blood, you are part of that very costly pearl that He paid so much for. He promises that heaven will be your home someday too.
“Ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that ye through His poverty might be rich” (2 Corinthians 8:9).
Think About God’s Word!
1. What did the merchantman do to buy the pearl?
2. Did you ever need to sacrifice a lot to get something you really wanted? Did it satisfy you for very long? Will the Lord Jesus be satisfied with His purchase? What’s His answer in Isaiah 53:11?
Project: The Lord Jesus sacrificed a lot to save us. How big a price did He pay? You can start your list by reading Philippians 2:5-8.

Good Fish and Bad Fish

Did you know that fish lay thousands of eggs? And those eggs hatch into tiny fish and grow into big fish that will also lay thousands of eggs. You would think a lake would soon be so crowded with fish that you could hardly move a boat around in the water. However, God knows that many kinds of fish are good for food.
Here is a parable that Jesus told about fishing for food in the Sea of Galilee long ago. This was not rod-and-line fishing, but the fishermen were using a great fishing net, big enough to hold all kinds of fish. The fishermen spread it out in the sea, and I suppose they had weights to keep the lower edge down while they pulled the net full of fish to shore. It was a good catch that day, heavy with flopping fish that did not like being pulled onto shore.
Every fisherman knows that some fish are worthless for food, and a net will bring in all kinds -good and bad. The good ones must be gathered into containers for the fisherman to sell or use for himself, and the bad ones are either thrown away or perhaps used for fertilizer.
So the fishermen sat down on the shore to do the sorting -good ones put here and bad ones go over there. Maybe they made some mistakes, as we all do, but this is one of God’s parables, and He never makes even the smallest mistake! Jesus told us the meaning of this parable, and here it is.
A time is coming when God will be in charge of sorting those people who have loved and trusted in His Son Jesus from those who have refused His offer of love and salvation. His angels will do the sorting. They are God’s obedient servants, and they do not make mistakes. They will separate the wicked from the just. The wicked will be cast into the furnace of fire, where there is wailing and gnashing of teeth.
You may ask, “Did Jesus really say that?” Yes, He certainly did. You may find it in Matthew 13:50. The wicked and the just are mixed together in this wide world right now, but the day is coming soon when God’s wisdom will do the sorting. He knows all about each one of us and He looks right into our hearts.
God says, “There is none that doeth good, no, not one” (Romans 3:12). So is there hope for any of us? I know I’m a sinner, so what can I do? I can listen and obey God’s Word that says, “By Him all that believe are justified from all things” (Acts 13:39). A bad fish can’t be changed into a good one, but God can give a sinner a new life that never sinned. He can give you this wonderful everlasting life, because He gave His Son to die 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).
Jesus said that hell is a very real place, but Jesus Himself is the way to the Father’s home in heaven. Will you come to Him for that wonderful everlasting life that He is waiting to give you?
Think About God’s Word!
1. Why do fishermen sort their fish?
2. Did you ever “mess up” when sorting something? How does 2 Timothy 2:19 show that the Lord won’t make a mistake when “sorting” people?
Project: What does Revelation 20 teach us about how people are “sorted” by God?

A Fig Tree but No Figs

I’m sure some of you children like to eat fig bars - a cookie with a fig filling. And maybe some of you even like to eat fresh figs or dried figs. But maybe figs are no treat to you; however, they were a special treat in today’s story. Well, they would have been.   .   . but there weren’t any. Here is the story.
The disciples of Jesus were those men who listened to Him and followed Him. They had spent the night in the town of Beth-any, in a place where Jesus knew they would be welcome. In the morning they set out for Jerusalem, and He was hungry.
If you are hungry sometimes -like maybe right now-Je-sus knows and understands, because He was hungry too. Now where could He and His disciples find some breakfast? In Bible times, there were no restaurants or places like McDonald’s where they could get some breakfast, and they didn’t have a packed lunch that they could have for breakfast. They would have to eat what they could find growing along the roadway.
As they walked along, they saw a fig tree with leaves. This was a good sign, because the fruit grows before the leaves come out, so this tree must have an early crop of figs. Je-sus came closer to find and pick the figs.
Do you know what He found? Plenty of leaves, but not a single fig! So Jesus and His disciples were still hungry. It makes me sad to think of that, because you and I might have a good showing of religion but with no fruit for Jesus at all. Compare it to something like this: What good is a house all fixed up with a stove and washing machine but with no power?
The first response to the love of Jesus in your heart is to love Him back. That’s where the growth begins, but there is no growth without a beginning. That fig tree was like many of Jesus’ dear people in Jerusalem. They talked a lot about God and religion, but their love for Jesus, the Son of God, was not there at all. They were all leaves and no fruit.
Jesus did not add fertilizer to that tree so that it would grow figs the next year. He cursed the fig tree, and the curse of God makes bad things happen. He said to the tree, Let no fruit grow on you ever again. And the fig tree dried up from the roots. This was a surprise to the disciples, but Jesus knew a secret that they did not know.
That tree might have been big and beautiful or scrawny and poor, but the fruit it produced for Jesus was the same -nothing! I wonder which tree is the most like you? Big, pretty leaves, giving nice shade for travelers, or crooked branches and diseased leaves. The result for fruit was just the same - nothing! The curse of God was because the tree bore no fruit.
God tells you this story because He wants you to know that He loves you. He is hungry for your loving response. He came right down to this world where we live and found lots of religious people. But from those same people He didn’t receive love -He received a cruel cross. He knew this before He came, but He loved us, even while He was bearing the punishment of God for the sins of those who would believe who He was and repent of their sins. “Unto Him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in His own blood” (Revelation 1:5).
If Jesus cursed the fig tree without any fruit, is there any hope for us? No, no hope without Him! But we have a risen Savior who has forgiveness and cleansing for all who will accept Him. “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners” (1 Timothy 1:15).
You are a sinner. Will you let Him save you now? He has not promised you another opportunity after today.
Think About God’s Word!
1. How were Jesus’ people like a tree with leaves but no fruit?
2. Were you ever rejected when you tried to be friendly to someone? How does Romans 5:10 show us that God didn’t pick friendly people to show His kindness to?
Project: How many things can you find in John 19 that show a lack of “fruit for God” in the hearts of the people described there?

The Leper Makes a Mistake

You have heard that Jesus grew up among the poor people in a place called Galilee. When He was a man, He did not stand proudly and make crowds listen to Him.
At the beginning of the day, Jesus got up early and went to a quiet spot in the desert where He prayed. That was the day a leper came to Him. A leper was a person who had a deadly disease called leprosy. Because other people could catch the disease from a leper, he was called “unclean” and no one must touch him. This poor leper was miserable, hopeless and lonely. But he could still listen to the town news, and he heard of Jesus who could heal a leper of that terrible disease!
Good news? Yes, if it’s true.
But we have better news than that for you right now. Not just some smart doctor who has a cure for cancer or AIDS or some other terrible disease. There is the Savior of sinners who can take away all your sins forever and has a home in heaven for you! He loves you and gave His life for you. Will you do what that leper did and just come?
The leper was sure of Jesus’ power to heal, but he was not very sure if Jesus would heal a poor leper. Maybe Jesus was too busy or maybe He healed only rich and important people.
Are you wondering, Is He willing to heal me?
No, He won’t if you are not a sinner. But if you are a sinner -little or big, rich or poor - come and see! His promises have all the power of God behind them: “Him that cometh to Me I will in no [way] cast out” (John 6:37).
The leper fell on his knees in front of Jesus. He still was not sure that Jesus was willing, but Jesus was moved with pity. It was more than power reaching a long way down from heaven to heal a poor human; it was the loving heart of Je-sus, who knows what we suffer and who is tenderhearted in suffering with us. Jesus touched him and said, “I will; be thou clean.” And immediately every trace of leprosy was gone!
Jesus told the healed leper to say nothing to anyone about it. The first thing he was to do was show himself to the priest and make an offering for his healing as Moses had commanded. If he did this, the priest might have to search the Scriptures to find out what offering this should be, since he may never have had a healed leper come to him before. The priest might wonder who this wonderful Man was who could do such a great thing. If he searched the Scriptures deeper, he would discover that Jesus was truly the sent One whom God had promised long ago.
But the healed leper didn’t follow Jesus’ instructions. He was so excited that he told everybody and shouted out everywhere, Jesus healed me! This was true and wonderful, but it was not God’s choice for him. His healing was plain enough to see, but as far as we know he never went to the priest about it as Jesus had instructed.
If you are truly cleansed from your sins, there will be a change in you too, and it begins on the inside. You have a new purpose now, and it changes your whole life. Do you belong to Jesus? Let Him show you what to do. That healed man hindered Jesus’ work by telling everybody about it, so that Jesus could no longer openly enter the city.
Let Jesus choose for you. His way is perfect. “As for God, His way is perfect: the word of the Lord is tried: He is a buckler to all those that trust in Him” (Psalm 18:30).
Think About God’s Word!
1. What was the leper not sure Jesus would do even though He could do it?
2. Have you ever wanted to do something kind that you just couldn’t? How does Matthew 28:18 show that Je-sus is able to do all that’s His will to do?
Project: How many wonderful things does John 3 record that Jesus has done?

The Deaf Man Hears

When Jesus was here, there were many, many people who had illnesses and diseases, just like people today. His power and His willingness to heal were available to anyone who would come to Him. The only sick people who were not healed by Jesus were the ones who did not choose to come to Him. All the people were eager to be healed, but many did not want Jesus, the Son of God. The crowd who cried, “Crucify Him!” was so great that it may have included some of those healed people too. And we know that they all died later on, even the healed ones.
Is Jesus so angry with us that He has gone away forever? Oh, no! He is in heaven now, and His loving promises are far more wonderful than good health in bodies that will finally die anyway. The Lord Jesus promises eternal life, and it doesn’t end here in a world of trouble and sorrow. Eternal life goes on and on in His wonderful home of happiness and love, and it never ends! And best of all, eternal life will be spent with HIM! Is that what you want? If so, then God who cannot lie makes this promise to you today: “Whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have eternal life” (John 3:15).
When Jesus was here on earth, there was a man who was completely deaf. He not only couldn’t hear any sound at all, but he also had a tongue problem and could not speak clearly. But he had some friends who really wanted to help him, and they brought him to Jesus and begged Jesus to heal the man.
Jesus knows that no two of us are alike and that our needs are not all the same. Jesus took the deaf man by the hand and led him away from the crowd, and looking up to heaven, He groaned. Why would Jesus groan? After all, He had all power to heal - He was the Son of God. We need to remember that our Jesus is a real Savior. He knows all about you, and He feels and cares about all those problems in your life that you can’t tell to anybody. He loves you so much that He doesn’t save you as if He pressed a button for your salvation. And He loved the deaf man so much that He groaned because of the man’s awful condition. Then Je-sus said, “Be opened,” and immediately the deaf man’s ears were healed and he could hear, and his tongue was healed and he could speak clearly!
Jesus told the healed man and his friends, Don’t talk about this to anyone. Perhaps Jesus wanted the man’s good hearing and clear speaking to show itself to the people. They couldn’t miss seeing how real his healing was.
I wonder if your Christian life is such that people can’t miss seeing that you are a real believer in Jesus. You have ears to listen to Him and a tongue to speak of Him. Do your friends know that Jesus is your Savior and has cleansed you from all your sins?
But the more Jesus urged the healed man and his friends not to make a public fuss about the man’s healing, the more they told everyone far and wide. Jesus has done all things well, they said. He makes the deaf to hear and the mute to speak. What they said sounded very good and was true, but they were not obeying Jesus. If you are saved, will you listen to God’s Word and let Him choose for you? If you trusted Him for your salvation, now trust Him for every day as it comes.
Think About God’s Word!
1. How long did it take to heal the deaf man?
2. Has God healed you? What does 1 Peter 2:24 tell that He’s done for Christians?
Project: How many times in the Gospels does it say that a person was healed immediately? You can start your list with the person in Mark 10:46-52.

The Man Who Saw Men as Big as Trees

You will surely remember that when Jesus was here on earth, He showed wonderful power to heal anyone who needed healing. One of His names is “Wonderful,” and His power has not changed.
Why then do we read of many in Israel, before Jesus came to earth, who were sick with leprosy and other diseases? And why are many Christians sick today? That puzzle is answered when we remember that our wonderful Savior healed everyone who came to Him when He was here. But now He is gone because the world did not want Him. We who are redeemed by His precious blood know that He does not hide His love today, but He hides His power. Even if you are sick, you can be sure that He loves you and He cares. “Unto Him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in His own blood” (Revelation 1:5).
When Jesus was here, the people brought a blind man to Him. Just touch him, the people said to Jesus. But they were not wise to tell Jesus what to do. His wisdom is perfect, and if we choose our own way of getting things done, we are sure to be losers.
Jesus took the blind man by the hand and led him out of the town. Then He did a very unexpected thing - He spit on the blind man’s eyes. Are you surprised? This act shows us that Jesus was so holy that everything that came from His mouth was holy too.
This is not true of all the things that come from our mouths; bad words, angry words, lies and bad germs may come from us. But take a moment to think of the perfect holiness of the Son of God. He is the One we must meet in eternity. Are you afraid?
Then Jesus put His hands on the man and said, Do you see anything? “I see men as trees, walking,” the man said. They must have seemed like very great men! Perhaps that is a reminder to us not to see men bigger than God made them.
Jesus put His hands again on the man’s eyes and made him look up. Then he saw every man clearly!
Are you saved from your sins already, and do you see some great man who is very important or very terrifying in your life? It is Jesus Himself who is all-important, and it is His Word we obey. Come to Him and ask His viewpoint for all that is around you.
What was the next thing the man was to do? Jesus, the one who had given him his eyesight, told him what to do. Go to your house - not to town - and don’t tell anyone in the town were Jesus’ instructions to the man.
Now that you are truly saved, perhaps you find that telling the folks at home is the hardest thing to do. They may tease you and expect you to live a Christian life right there with your family, and Satan will tempt you in all kinds of wrong ways. It is good to remember that Jesus sent you there, and He is able to keep you from failing, if you come to Him for His power.
The people in the town would soon find out that the blind man could now see. They would probably ask, Who made that blind man so different? It was Jesus, and all the praise and honor belong to Him.
Think About God’s Word!
1. Did the man see clearly at first?
2. What happens when you look through someone else’s glasses? How does 1 Corinthians 13:12 show us that we will see someday when we have Jesus’ vision?
Project: How long did it take the Apostle Paul in Acts 9 to see clearly?

Who Put the Most Money Into the Treasury?

I think you all know how to count, and some of you know lots more than that. In fact, some of you might even be called a “math whiz.” But even if you are smart, there are some math problems that are way beyond your brains or your computer to find the answer.
First question: How many stars are in the sky? We know that God placed them there with His fingers, but nobody can count them, and nobody ever will.
Second question: Which is greater, a hundred dollars or a penny? Read this story before you try to answer that one. It isn’t as easy as it looks.
Jesus was sitting near the temple in Jeru-salem in a place near the treasury, and He saw the people putting in their money offerings. Maybe the coins were wrapped up, but that makes no difference to the eyes of the Son of God. Jesus knew exactly what each person put in, and He also knew how much he or she had left for themselves.
Along comes a rich man. His offering to the treasury is large. I don’t know how much the offering was, but I’m sure Je-sus had no trouble with calculations.
Here comes a poor lady whose husband is dead, and she has almost no money. If she gives her two mites to the treasury, then what will she have for dinner? Actually, she will have nothing left, because those two mites are the only money she has to live on. Can you guess what she did? Yes, she let those two mites slip from her fingers into the treasury. And I can tell you only one thing-Je-sus saw it all - that she had nothing left for herself.
Are you sure that Jesus sees what you do? Can you let it all go and trust Him for the future? Don’t you think there is a little bit that you might want to keep for yourself ? The Bible does not tell us what happened to that woman or what Jesus did for her. But think about God’s great heart of love in this verse: “He that spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?” (Romans 8:32). I know God’s great heart of love, and I know He took care of all that poor widow’s needs.
Here is the math question: Which was bigger, the rich man’s large offering or the poor widow’s two mites? Your computer won’t come up with an answer to that question; however, Jesus already gives us the answer: “Of a truth I say unto you, that this poor widow hath cast in more than they all” (Luke 21:3). The poor widow’s offering was all of her money - 100%!
Did the two mites add up to more than all the other rich offerings put together? Yes; Je-sus said so. His values are not the same as ours. The widow’s offering was a secret to everyone but God, and He knew and He valued it rightly.
Do you have secrets with Jesus that nobody else knows? Or maybe other people would not know how to value them if they did know. Can we trust Him for the future even if it looks impossible now?
First: We can trust Jesus to take from us the impossible load of our sins. We can’t measure that load, but He can, because He bore it Himself in those dark hours on the cross. No computer on earth could ever measure that load, but Jesus knows.
Second: We can trust Jesus for our daily cares. He knows how big they are or how small they are.   .   . even when they seem big to us. He put the stars in the sky, and they are there day and night, whether we see them or not. If His understanding is limitless, surely He can understand our small cares.
Third: We can trust Jesus for our eternity. He will make a new body out of our dust or He will take us up in the clouds without ever dying. He will give each of us a new body to live with Himself forever. Maybe that looks impossible, but we can trust God’s promise and His perfect wisdom, which never changes.
Are you trusting Jesus for your future?
Think About God’s Word!
1. Who said the widow had put in more than all the rest?
2. When did you most recently give all your available money to someone else to use? What did the early Christians do in Acts 2:44-45?
Project: How many ways can you find in 2 Corinthians 8-9 that show how much God appreciates generous giving?

The Story of Ten Men

They were ten unhappy men. Unhappy because they were not only sick, but their disease had no cure. The law said that anyone having the terrible disease of leprosy must not come near to anyone, not even to their own family, because others could catch the disease. Each of those ten men had the miserable, lonely disease of leprosy.
At the time those ten men lived, there was no cure. There are doctors now who have wonderful success in curing leprosy, but they can never restore what the disease has done to a person’s body. Only God can do that.
Jesus was on His way to Jerusalem when the ten men saw Him. Nobody else knew what would happen to Him in that city, but Jesus knew. It was just outside that city that there was a place called Calvary where He would die on a cross for sinners.
As Jesus came to their village, the ten men were near enough to see who was coming. They shouted with all that was left of their voices, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us”!
Jesus saw their misery, and He knew that their problem was deeper than leprosy. “Go show yourselves unto the priests,” He told them.
Now, if you have read the law of God, you will know that the priests’ duty was to say whether or not it was really leprosy, but the priests could not heal the disease. If the sick person really had active leprosy, he was shut out. And that’s exactly the best any person on earth can do for a guilty sinner. Are you a sinner? Then nobody can do anything for your sins. Nobody but One! Only God! And Jesus is God.
As those ten men went to find a priest, every one of them was cleansed completely with not a trace of leprosy remaining. What excitement went right through them! They knew the priest had not performed the miracle of curing them - that was impossible, for they had not even seen him yet.
Now what did they do with their cured, healthy bodies? Well, what are you doing with yours? or what would you do if you had one? Maybe you can think of lots of ways to have fun, and lots of friends to go out with, and ambitions to work on. We don’t know what nine of them did, but there was one—just one -whose heart was full of praise to God. Only one.
That one man turned back and with a loud voice glorified God. He was not ashamed of being the only one, for his voice was loud. And he not only glorified God, he fell down at Jesus’ feet, thanking Him.
Jesus was glad, but He was sorry too. “Were there not ten cleansed? but where are the nine?” Jesus asked. Sadly, none of the other nine returned to give glory to God and to thank Jesus.
God wants to give you far more than a healthy body. He wants to give you the forgiveness of your sins, and He will do this if you will call to Him.
Are you wondering, If Jesus is in heaven, how can I call to Him? Do you know about the Bible verse that says, “Christ died for our sins.  .  . and.  .  . He rose again” (1 Corinthians 15:3-4)? He is alive in heaven, and His hearing is so perfect that He can even hear you think! Distance is nothing to Him. Call out to Him wherever you are, and He will hear and He will forgive every one of your sins. When He has forgiven you, get down on your knees and thank Him, and then tell others about Him.
Then Jesus said to the cleansed man at His feet, “Arise, go thy way: thy faith [has] made thee whole.” We can’t tell you where he went or where you will go after you are forgiven, but the wonderful news is that Jesus will never leave you or forsake you. Never! Not even if you die.
Think About God’s Word!
1. How many returned to thank God?
2. How have your parents trained you to be thankful? What did Jesus thank His Father for in Luke 10:21?
Project: How many different things do you have to thank God for? You might start your list by reading Ephesians 1 and writing down some of your spiritual blessings.

Just a Bit of Money

Yes, said Ananias to his wife. We’ll sell that piece of land and give the money for the work of the Lord. But it’s a lot of money  .  .  . do we have to give that much? We could keep back part of the price for ourselves, and then we could pretend that we gave all of it. Nobody would know.
Yes, said Sapphira his wife. That’s a good plan. We’ll keep it a secret. We won’t tell that we gave only part of the price and kept the rest for ourselves.
And so Ananias and Sapphira sold their piece of land at a fair and honest price and then kept back part of the money in a secret place for themselves.
We don’t blame anybody for keeping honest money for their own needs. So what was wrong with that bit of hidden money? Just this: They pretended they had not hidden some away and that they gave the whole amount for the work of the Lord. It was something like this: Look at us! We are great givers! We gave all we had! It sounded good, but it was a lie.
Perhaps every one of us can remember that we have done things like that too, when we wanted people to think well of us. We are all guilty! Where can we find anybody who never did or thought a lie like that?
There is only one person who, “though He was rich, yet for [our] sakes He became poor, that [we] through His poverty might be rich” (2 Corinthians 8:9). His name is Je-sus. The world and the entire universe are His, but He gave up so much for our sakes. When He hung on the cross in the darkness, He had nothing  .  .  .  nothing, not even God to comfort Him. No one could ever be so rich or become so poor as He. All He had left was His life.   .   . and He gave that up too.
Why did Jesus do this? It was His love for sinners like you and me, that we through His poverty might be rich. Will you answer Him with all your heart? He loves you and died for you and wants you for Himself.
Ananias brought part of the money to the apostles’ feet in a very humble way. But God showed to Peter what was in that man’s heart. Peter said, Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and keep back part of the price of the land?
You see where that lie came from -straight from Satan. And the lie was not just to Peter but to the Holy Spirit. Doesn’t that make our lies and our selfishness extra bad?
It was your money, said Peter. It was up to you to do as you chose with it. Why did you plan this? You have not lied to men but to God!
Ananias heard what Peter said, and then - he fell dead! God was showing what He thought of such sin. He is not showing the same sudden punishment now, but it’s not because He cares any less. He has shown it once for you and me to remember. God hates sin, and He holds your life in His hand. How then can He let you and me live?
The answer is “Christ died for our sins” (1 Corinthians 15:3). If you will not have Christ, God has no forgiveness for you. Je-sus shows His love for you now with open arms to welcome you. Will you come to Him for forgiveness? He says, “I will forgive [your] iniquity, and I will remember [your] sin no more” (Jeremiah 31:34).
The young men buried Ananias. After that, Sapphira came in, not knowing what had happened to her husband.
Peter said, Tell me  .  .  .  was this the price of the land you sold?
Yes, that was the price, she answered.
She had made her own choice too. Husband and wife had agreed together on the lie, and each was guilty. Agreeing with others doesn’t take away your own guilt.
Peter said, How is it that you agreed together to lie to the Spirit of the Lord? Then Sapphira fell down dead, and the young men buried her beside her husband.
This is a solemn story. God records it so you will remember, whether you are a Christian or not, that God hates lying and pretending. It is so wonderful to have a Savior who never pretends, but His love to us is real, through sunshine and storms, now and forever. Are you one of His very own?
Think About God’s Word!
1. What lie did Sapphira tell?
2. What motives have you had for telling lies? Who does John 8:44 call the father of lies?
Project: How many lies can you find in the Book of Genesis, and what were their consequences? You might start with Satan’s lies in Genesis 3.

What Happened to the Crippled Man?

He had been crippled his whole life. When other boys could run and kick balls or jump over puddles, he could only watch them. I’m not sure that anybody cared very much about this cripple living in the city of Lystra, but God cared, and God cares about you too.
That crippled boy was a man now. His sandals never wore out, because he never walked on them. I’m sure he had sadness in his heart, but there was something else in his heart too. Maybe your heart is sad or maybe it’s full of fun. But do you have this other secret in your heart too? You’re probably asking, “What is the secret?”
The crippled man had something God values, and that something was “faith.” He didn’t wonder and hope that maybe God could heal him. He KNEW that God could heal him. Faith always knows, and faith was the secret in his heart.
If you have faith, you are not wondering if maybe God can save you and take your sins away and make you one of His very own children. You KNOW you can trust His promise; He has written it in the Bible for us to read and believe: “He that [believes] on Me [has] everlasting life” (John 6:47). Faith always knows, and faith in the Lord Je-sus will not only save your soul, it will change your life!
The crippled man heard Paul speak. What do you do when someone is speaking the Word of God? Do you listen? Do you want to hear more? This man did, and this is what he heard: “Stand upright on thy feet” (Acts 14:10). And for the first time in his whole life, that’s exactly what he did -he stood up on his feet! And not only that, but he leaped and walked!
The crowd of people saw what Paul had done, but they really missed seeing what God had done. Paul’s words were good words, but the power of God was behind those words, and they missed that part.
Bible words are always good words, and maybe you can repeat some from memory, but do you know that the power of God is in those words? And do you know those words are for you? The crippled man knew the power of God was in Paul’s words, but the crowd didn’t know that.
The crowd got all excited about this man’s wonderful healing, and they said, The gods have come down to earth in the likeness of men! They are Jupiter and Mercury! Then the religious priests brought garlands of flowers and oxen to sacrifice to Paul and his friend Barnabas.
Oh, no, no, no! The crowd had it all wrong! There was no faith in their hearts. Paul and Barnabas ran in among the people, crying, We are only men, just like you! Turn to the living God who made heaven and earth and the sea!
Perhaps in your heart you still believe what others tell you or what you can see. But it is the living God who fills our hearts with truth and gladness. Faith says, “Yes, I know,” even if the crowd does not agree.
Some people came from Antioch and talked the crowd into turning against Paul, and the crowd listened to them. Then they picked up big stones and hurled them at him from all sides, until he fell down unconscious. He’s dead, they said, and they dragged him outside the city. But his friends stood around him, and soon he revived, got up and went back into the city. The next day he was off to preach the same good news in another city.
You would expect that Paul would never go back to Lystra, but he did! There were people there who had believed his message, and he came back to encourage and help them. He told them to continue in the faith. Yes, they would have troubles, but it was worth it all.
We are telling you the same message today. Trust Jesus Himself, read His Word, and don’t be surprised if you have troubles. The living God is the One who cares about you. Jesus has gone to heaven, and He has prepared the place for you. Here is His promise: “I will come again, and receive you unto Myself  ” (John 14:3).
Think About God’s Word!
1. How did the crowd react to the wonderful healing?
2. Have you ever run into troubles when you were doing something for the Lord? How does He encourage us in John 16:33?
Project: How many different troubles did Paul run into in his life? You can get your list off to a great start with 2 Corinthians 11:23-33.

Four Anchors

Isn’t one anchor enough?
Perhaps you have heard of the Halifax anchor, which was large enough to hold a strong battleship. It was made of the heaviest iron and weighed ½ ton, but that made it all the worse when trouble came. There was a great explosion on that ship on the morning of December 6, 1917, in the Halifax harbor, and the great iron anchor was thrown two miles through the air, chopping off trees like a lawn mower on grass. About 2000 men, women and children were killed in that explosion, with another 9000 injured, and the anchor did not save them.
There’s a Bible story about anchors in Acts 27. One was not enough. They had four, and they had good, experienced sailors on board who knew how to use them. Did these four anchors save the sailors? Read on and see.
Paul the Apostle was a prisoner on that ship. Inspired by God, Luke wrote about Paul’s journey. You can read his story in the Book of Acts in the Bible.
The ship sailed on the Mediterranean Sea on its way to Rome, but they were tossed about by stormy weather. After two stormy weeks, they checked to see how deep the water was. They used a line that reached to the bottom of the sea, and each check showed that the water was a little shallower. That told them they must be coming closer to land, but nothing could be seen in the dark, stormy night.
So they threw out four anchors to hold the ship where it was and waited for daylight. Perhaps they were too scared to think about being hungry, but it had been two weeks since they had eaten anything. Paul was not scared, because God had given him a promise of safety all the way to land.
What good is a promise? It depends on who makes the promise. In this case it was God who promised, and nobody, nobody, nobody can break God’s promise!
In the early dawn, Paul suggested everybody on board eat some food, and he set a good example by thanking the Lord and eating. The others all followed and ate too. Then they threw the wheat into the sea to make the ship lighter.
When there was more daylight, even through the rain they could see a creek flowing out from land into the sea. Then they threw off the anchors into the sea, and we never hear of those anchors again.
Don’t trust in useless anchors! They may be all right for this life, but they’ll never take you safely into eternity. Be sure you are trusting the promises of God -“Christ died for our sins” (1 Corinthians 15:3). No useless anchors and no religion will ever take you to God’s city of holiness.
The sailors hoisted the mainsail and the wind drove them to shore where they ran aground. The front end of the ship stuck fast and the back end was being smashed by the violent waves. The ship was now a total wreck!
Kill the prisoners! cried the soldiers on board. They might escape!
No! said the centurion who wanted to save Paul. Let those who can swim jump in first, and then let the others grab a broken piece of the ship and float to land.
Who was drowned? Nobody. God had promised Paul that there would be no loss of life, but only of the ship.
If you don’t know God’s promises for yourself, read your Bible and find out. You may lose all your things here, and certainly you will leave them all behind when you leave this world, but you cannot break God’s promise. “What shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?” (Mark 8:36).
Is there an anchor worth trusting? If you read Hebrews 6 you will find the only One. This “hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast  .  .  .  even Jesus” (Hebrews 6:19-20). Since He rose from the dead and is already in heaven, and since He is my Savior, He has promised that I will be there with Him someday too.
Is Jesus your Anchor? Will you be in heaven with Him too?
Think About God’s Word!
1. Did the four anchors save the sailors?
2. Have you ever gone fishing and needed to cut your anchor free to get loose? How does trusting in Jesus Christ give us safety and not bondage? See John 8:36.
Project: How many different ways can you give that show the security God gives to a believer? You can start your search by considering the stories given in Luke 15.

Be of Good Cheer, Paul

Has anybody ever said to you, “Cheer up” or “Have a good day”? Does it seem to help? Sometimes we are really, really sad, and we can’t cheer up unless someone takes away the problem, but who could do that?
Paul certainly had a problem. He was in prison and it was totally unfair. Those of his own nationality hated his message and were angry enough to kill him right on the castle steps! Paul stated that he was a Roman by birth, and that saved his life  .  .  . but not his freedom.
The governor did not understand what the uproar was all about or why the people were so angry and ready to pull Paul apart to pieces, so he ordered the guards to bring Paul inside the castle. And there he was, imprisoned and awaiting trial. What would happen next?
Paul may have been sitting with his head in his hands. He wanted to be a true witness for Jesus, but now he was in prison. Had he failed? Was he like a defeated soldier? How does our Lord Jesus treat His defeated soldiers?
Jesus knew all about that lonely man in prison, and He knows all about you too. He knows your problems, big or little. Maybe it was your mistake that landed you where you are, or maybe it wasn’t your fault at all. This is the very moment when you need Jesus.
The next night Jesus stood by Paul and said, Be of good cheer, Paul, for as you have testified of Me in Jerusalem, you will also testify of Me at Rome. Those were good words, and notice that it was Jesus Himself who came to Paul. He can come to you too, through the book He has written - the Bible.
Morning came and about forty angry men got together and made a plan to kill Paul. We won’t eat or drink until we have killed him, they vowed. That was their secret plan, but who can keep secrets from God? Somehow Paul’s nephew heard of the plan, and he was permitted to go talk to his Uncle Paul in prison.
After hearing his nephew’s message, Paul called the officer and said, Take this young man to the chief captain  .  .  .  he has something to tell him. Then the chief captain took the young man by the hand off to a private place and asked, What do you have to tell me?
Paul’s nephew said, The Jews have a plan. They are going to ask you to bring Paul down tomorrow to ask him more questions. But there are more than forty of them waiting for the chance to kill him by surprise. They have sworn not to eat or drink until they have killed him, and they are all ready and waiting for a promise from you.
Forty, thought the chief captain. I’ll command four hundred and seventy soldiers to escort him to the governor at Cæsarea before morning!
And that’s just what happened. All those soldiers with their horses and spears left while it was still dark to guard one prisoner on one short journey. We don’t know what happened to the forty furious men, whether they broke their vow or whether they starved to death. But one thing is sure -they didn’t kill Paul!
Who won? God won, and He always does. Jesus Himself had promised Paul that he would be sent to Rome, and that’s where he was sent! It is wonderful to have a God like that; no one can break His promises!
Satan has lots more than forty reasons why you and I should spend eternity in hell. He knows all about God’s promises too, and he wants you to shut your ears to the message of the gospel. But Satan is a liar; his promises are not true.
It is God who will stand by you tonight and say, “Be of good cheer.” He does not just forget about your sins and start you on the road to happiness. Many of us can say, “It was Jesus Himself who took my sins on Himself in the darkness on the cross.” It is God Himself who says, “Whosoever [believes] in Him [shall] not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). And not all the power of men and devils can break that promise!
However, God has not promised you an easy life. He did not promise Paul that he would be released from prison, but He did promise Paul that he would “bear witness” of Him, and that’s what every Christian should want to do. The end of the Christian’s life is heaven with Jesus.
Would you like to end up in heaven with Jesus? He said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man [comes] unto the Father, but by Me” (John 14:6).
Think About God’s Word!
1. How many soldiers did the captain prepare to protect Paul?
2. Have you ever been in serious danger of losing your life? How did the Lord preserve you? What preservation could the Lord Jesus have asked for from His Father in Matthew 26:53?
Project: What different ways can you list that the Lord delivered His people in the Book of 2 Kings? You’ll find a very unusual one in 2 Kings 3.
I didn’t laugh, she said. But God answered her, No, but you did laugh.
Moses cast that tree into the water of Marah, and the water was made sweet!
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