God's Wonderful Stories: Volume 4

Table of Contents

1. Methuselah
2. The Story of a Hunter
3. Moses, Take off Your Shoes!
4. Try Digging Holes
5. The King With a Small Name
6. The Woodsman’s Story
7. Caleb’s Reward
8. Micah Thought He Had Everything
9. Why Did Ahithophel Die?
10. The Great King Solomon
11. Don’t Join the Crowd!
12. Vegetable Stew for a Hundred Men
13. Eyes That Really See
14. The Choir Leader
15. The King Was in a Rage
16. The Story of Two Kings (Part 1)
17. The Story of Two Kings (Part 2)
18. The Queen Was Afraid
19. What Happened to Haman?
20. A Man Named Habakkuk
21. One Tiny Mustard Seed
22. Do You Have the Right Key?
23. A Surprise and a Secret
24. A Debt Too Big to Pay
25. Working for a Penny a Day
26. Planting Time
27. A Miracle for a Blind Man
28. Will a Penny Be Enough?
29. Can Anybody Hear You Think?
30. The Good Samaritan
31. The Story of a Fig Tree
32. She Couldn’t Stand up Straight
33. The Tower
34. The Rich Man and the Beggar
35. What Happened at the Jordan River
36. A Miracle at a Wedding
37. Breakfast by the Sea
38. The Man on the Roof (Part 1)
39. The Man on the Roof (Part 2)
40. Where Is Peter?
41. A Visit to Philippi
42. What Is Heaven Like?

Methuselah

Do you remember what made Methuselah so special in the world’s entire history? If you don’t know, read on and you will find out.
Although he lived to be a very old man, one strange thing about Methuselah is that he died before his father! I’ll tell you the answer to that puzzle right now: His father never died at all! And, if you are a real Christian, that fact might very well be true of you too. Yes, you may never die!
How could that be? We have the Lord’s promise that He will come back to take us to His Father’s home in heaven. And since He conquered death at Calvary, if we are still living when He comes, He’ll take us to heaven and we’ll never die!
Are you wondering about those believers who have already died and are buried? They can’t hear us now, but they’ll hear the voice of Jesus when He comes and will rise out of their graves in new bodies, ready for heaven, just as we will be. We’ll all meet our Lord Jesus together in the clouds. Now what could be better than that? (You can read about this wonderful event in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-17.)
Methuselah’s father was a true believer. His name was Enoch. And when his baby boy was born, God gave Enoch a special name to give to his infant son. The name God gave him meant, “When he is dead, it shall be sent.” As little Methuselah grew up, he may not have understood why he had that name, but he carried the message everywhere. He eventually became a great grandfather, and still he lived on and on, carrying God’s promise everywhere that something was coming when he died. Since that promise came from God, it was unbreakable. It is only God who can make promises that cannot be broken.
We all know that death is the end of man’s life on earth, and Methuselah didn’t die until he was 969 years old! Why was God so slow to end Methuselah’s life? Was there something that God was really unwilling to do? Yes. And here’s what happened the year that Methuselah died: THE FLOOD CAME.
That was such a huge disaster that only eight people lived safely through it. Everybody else in the whole world drowned. So far, there has never been another disaster equal to that. But God’s judgment on this world is sure to come. He will destroy this earth, not by water but by fire. That is His unbreakable promise. He has been so slow to do this that people say, “It will never happen.” But remember, God’s promise is unbreakable!
Only eight people were saved from that flood. It didn’t take long for people to sin and disobey God again, and that’s where we are right now. Is there hope for us? Can anyone be saved now from God’s coming judgment?
If Jesus had not come, the answer would be “NO.” But He DID come! “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners” (1 Timothy 1:15). On Calvary’s cross, God poured on Him all the punishment that belonged to us because we are sinners. In His great love, “the Son of God  ...  loved me and gave Himself for me” (Galatians 2:20). That settles it forever! What wonderful news!
Would you say then that everyone is saved from punishment for their sins? No, because refusers are not saved, and there are many, many refusers. Will you accept Jesus as your Saviour now — today — and no longer be a refuser?
Maybe you remember Noah who was one of the eight saved when the flood came. Did you know that Noah did not shut the door of the ark once the eight people and all the creatures were inside? God shut the door, not Noah. We are not going to shut you out of heaven, but if you are a refuser, God will do that.
There is no other Saviour but Jesus. “The Son of Man [Jesus] is not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them” (Luke 9:5-6).
Think About God’s Word!
1. What does the name “Methuselah” mean?
2. How do you know God has waited patiently for you?
Project: Second Peter talks about the Lord waiting patiently for the flood. Why did He?

The Story of a Hunter

Most hunters today hunt for wild animals with a gun, but this is a story of people long ago who had never heard of guns. But most everyone knows about bow-and-arrow hunting, and this is what the hunter in this Bible story used.
Esau was a clever hunter. Sometimes he brought home a deer for his family, and his mother knew how to cook it just right. The good smell of roasting venison made everybody’s mouth water. Esau’s father, Isaac, especially liked it. Esau was his favorite son, and even the thought of such a venison dinner made him feel good.
Isaac was the father of Esau and his twin brother Jacob, and Isaac was a very special son of Abraham. He knew God in a way that most people did not know Him. He knew that the line of God’s blessing to every nation was to be passed down through himself, since he was the only son of Abraham and Sarah.
That blessing was a very special promise from God, and no one could break it. Now that he was old, Isaac wanted to pass the blessing down to his favorite son, and he wanted to get ready for this special occasion by eating something that made him feel good. Esau was the hunter, and Isaac asked him to bring home a deer so he could have a venison dinner. So Esau got his bow and arrows ready and went hunting.
But Rebekah, Isaac’s wife, had a favorite son too. She wanted the best blessing for Jacob. Now Jacob was not a hunter, so Rebekah said to him, Go bring me a young goat and I will make a roast that smells delicious, and your father will like it.
They were all busy, trying to make God’s promise of blessing come true by their own efforts. God let them try to work things out to suit themselves, but nobody can break God’s promise.
Your whole life may be spent trying to earn God’s favor, but your efforts will never win. God had His own wonderful plan — Christ died for our sins and rose again. The work is finished, and nothing can change His love for sinners. God’s blessing for you comes through His Son. Come to Him now and accept His loving blessing, and don’t try to win it by your own efforts. “The Son of God  ...  loved me, and gave Himself for me” (Galatians 2:20).
Jacob went out to the pasture, and a young goat was not hard to catch. Rebekah’s roasting meat soon smelled so good. Then Jacob dressed up in Esau’s clothes, and his mother covered his hands and neck with furry animal skin, because Esau was a hairy man. They did this so his father Isaac, who was blind, would think he was Esau rather than Jacob.
And so Jacob went in first to his father, and the old man was puzzled at the sound of Jacob’s voice. He said, The voice is Jacob’s voice, but the hands are the hands of Esau. His clothes had the hunter smell too, and the roast was delicious. Isaac was fooled, and he gave the blessing of God to Jacob, the younger twin.
In spite of all their cheating and lying, Isaac’s giving the blessing to Jacob could not be changed. Jacob got what he wanted, but he did not have a happy life.
Then Esau, Isaac’s favorite son, came home with the deer he had killed. This might have been a joyful feast, but it wasn’t. Isaac cried out with frustration and pain, and Esau cried out with anger and disappointment when he heard that Jacob had already received the blessing.
The blessing that Esau had been so sure of was lost forever. It was a sad, sad cry: Bless me also, O my father! Yes, there was a blessing for him too, but it was temporary, and there was anger and fighting in its future.
You can’t make God’s promises come true by your good works or break them by your sins. The blessing God offers you was completed when Jesus said, “It is finished” (John 19:30). Look up to Jesus and believe, and then thank Him, and let me tell you one thing — it will change your life! God will show you how blessed you are, until He takes you to 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 Jacob do to get the blessing from Isaac?
2. How do we know that Jacob didn’t get the blessing because of his cheating and lying?
Project: Find the story that shows that Jacob had learned about lying from his father. Tell how we know that Jacob’s sons continued the bad family tradition.

Moses, Take off Your Shoes!

You may have heard the story of baby Moses who was found floating in a little basket in the Nile River. An Egyptian princess found him and adopted him, so he became the king’s grandson.
The royal palace made sure that as Moses grew up he was given an excellent education. He knew more about the pyramids than historians know today, and he probably saw the pyramids often. But along with all his learning, he had a secret sadness. He knew he was a Hebrew boy and that the Hebrews were hard-working slaves of the Egyptian people who mistreated them badly.
Moses’ heart was deeply troubled when he saw how the Egyptians continued to abuse the Hebrews. He knew the Hebrews were God’s chosen people, and, being a Hebrew by birth, his loyalty led him to refuse to be called the king’s grandson. He gave up all the royal pleasures and chose instead to endure the hardships the Hebrews were going through.
Is following God really worth that much? Wouldn’t it be better to have everybody respecting him as the king’s grandson, rather than standing on the side of God? Ask yourself this question. If Jesus is truly your Saviour, is it better to stand with the world and not let anybody know that you belong to Jesus? You might lose your friends if you tell them, “I belong to Jesus.”
Moses lost his place in the royal family. In fact, he almost lost his life, but he went off to the desert and got a job looking after the sheep of a man named Jethro. Was this new position better or worse? Wait and see  ...
Moses had been working there for forty years, and he had married Jethro’s daughter and had two sons. By now he was eighty years old. Maybe he had forgotten his Egyptian education, but he had learned a lot more. He was a listener now when God spoke — and that’s worth learning. Have you learned to be a listener when God speaks?
One day Moses saw something very puzzling — a bush on fire. Even though it was burning with fire, it was not burning up. He decided to go closer to see why the bush didn’t burn up. Moses, Moses, called a Voice from the burning bush. Then Moses answered, Here am I. The Voice continued, Don’t come closer. Take off your shoes, for the place where you are standing is holy ground.
If you heard God’s voice calling you like that, would you answer Him or would you run away? The Bible is God’s Word, and He is calling you by name today! Are you listening? He has better news for you than He had for Moses, because you are living in the time after the Lord Jesus died on the cross. He doesn’t tell you to take off your shoes. Instead, you will be given a son’s place in the Father’s house. God wants to make you one of His children, if you will accept His Son, the Lord Jesus, as your very own Saviour. He promises a position in His family that will be yours forever! Will you answer, “Here am I”? “As many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name” (John 1:12).
The Voice continued, I am the God of Abraham and of Isaac and of Jacob. There was no doubt about whose voice it was. Still Moses did not run away, but he hid his face. He was afraid to look upon God.
It is a good thing for you and me to be afraid of God, because He hates sin  ...  but that’s not the end of the story. I know that Jesus died for my sins, including every secret sin, and I come before Him with joy because my sins are gone — washed away by His precious blood. “In whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace” (Ephesians 1:7).
Boys and girls, do you know whose voice is speaking in the Bible? It is God Himself speaking to you. You may close the book and try to forget, or you may be afraid of His holiness, but how much better to stand up as a forgiven sinner and a true child of God and answer Him with joy. Which shall it be? God loves you and really wants you to be a part of His family. He says, “Come unto Me” (Matthew 11:28).
Think About God’s Word!
1. What did the Voice from the burning bush say to Moses?
2. How do we learn to listen to God’s voice? What does He use to speak to us? What are some of the things that make us “hard of hearing”?
Project: Look in the Book of Job to see if you can figure out what made it hard for Job to “hear” God at first. What can you find at the start of the last chapter of Job that shows how Job finally was able to listen to God’s voice?

Try Digging Holes

Why are those men digging big holes near the river? Have they lost something?
Yes, they certainly have. They have lost fresh water, and there is no water to drink or to bathe in or to use for cooking. What has happened in the land of Egypt?
Moses told Pharaoh, king of Egypt, to let God’s people leave Egypt, and Pharaoh said, “NO!” But Pharaoh did not know that you can’t say “No” to God and get away with it. God doesn’t take “No” from anybody — not then, not today and not ever! God could have killed all those wicked people in Egypt easier than we kill mosquitoes, but our God is merciful and gracious and slow to get angry.
God sent the Egyptians warnings first, and the first warning was turning the water of the Nile River into blood. The fish died and the whole land smelled awful! The pools and ponds were full of blood, and the buckets of water in their homes had turned to blood too. No wonder they dug holes to try to find water. What else could they do for a drink? There were no soda pop or coffee machines back then.
It was a whole week before the sparkling river water flowed again, and then they were busy cleaning up the mess. Even so, God had not forgotten about Pharaoh’s “No.”
Then God sent frogs, millions of them! Frogs in the fields, in the houses, in the beds, in the cupboards and in the mixing bowls. “That’s nothing,” said Pharaoh’s magicians. “We can do that too.” And they did, BUT  ...  they couldn’t make the frogs go away!
Pharaoh had his share of frogs too, and he begged Moses to take them away. “When?” asked Moses. “Tomorrow,” said Pharaoh.
Don’t you wonder why he didn’t say, “Today”? And we wonder, Why not come to the Saviour of sinners right now, today? There was a tomorrow for Pharaoh, but there might not be one for you. The Bible warns, “Boast not thyself of tomorrow; for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth” (Proverbs 27:1).
Moses let Pharaoh’s answer stand, and the frogs returned to the river the next day, except the ones that had already died. So Egypt had another smelly, clean-up job. But God was not finished.
And since you are reading this story, God is not finished with you either. If you have troubles today, you may also have more tomorrow. He is speaking to you, because He loves you and wants you! That’s why He sent His beloved Son Jesus to die for you. He wants you to come to Jesus right now to be washed clean of your sins. Will you say, “Yes”?
The next trouble God sent to Egypt was lice, tiny, biting lice — in their hair and on their bodies and everywhere. “This is the finger of God,” said the magicians. “We can’t copy this!” Lice are very tiny, but the wisest man in the world cannot make a live one. “This is truly the finger of God. What shall we do?”
In the morning, Moses had the same message from God for Pharaoh: “Let My people go!” Maybe Pharaoh was tired of hearing that same message, but he still wasn’t ready to obey.
Are you ready to obey God? Will you accept Jesus as your Lord and Saviour today? “In whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace” (Ephesians 1:7).
You may read about Pharaoh not wanting to obey God. As you read, remember that God has said, “I am the Lord, I change not” (Malachi 3:6).
Think About God’s Word!
1. Why did the Egyptians need to dig holes to look for water?
2. God patiently gave the Egyptians one chance to repent after another. How did the Lord Jesus do that one last time with Judas in John 13?
Project: Find as many different examples as you can of the Lord waiting patiently before He judges. Here’s a place to start: Genesis 6:3.

The King With a Small Name

He was the biggest king with the smallest name that you will probably ever hear of. This king’s name was Og. He lived long ago, and he was a giant. There were no electric lights then. When nighttime came, people just lay down on a bedroll on the floor and slept until sunrise. There was not much to do in the dark without electric lights.
But King Og had a bed. It was a real bed, and it was made of iron. Being a king, it was probably very comfortable with cozy blankets and pillows, but we really don’t know because the Bible does not tell us. But the Bible does tell us how big King Og’s bed was — nine cubits long and four cubits wide. And since a cubit was the length of a man’s forearm, that means it was almost fourteen feet long and six feet wide. So we know this king with the very small name was a very big man — a true giant!
However, it isn’t really size that is important. We know that a little, tiny germ can kill a person just as easily as a big, bad accident. Maybe King Og was proud of being such a big man, but the Bible tells us, “Man [looks] on the outward appearance, but the Lord [looks] on the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7). Have you ever wondered what God sees when He looks on your heart?
He says, “All have sinned” (Romans 3:23), and that means not only King Og, but you and me too. And all the stain removers in the world cannot bleach out one of those sins! There is only one way to have our sins removed, and the Bible tells us how.
In their travels to the land that God had promised them, the children of Israel came to King Og’s country. Being a mighty warrior who ruled over sixty cities, King Og fought against God’s people. But there was a last day and a last night for the giant king. He did not win the battle, and he was dead the next day. Nobody can win against God — not ever!
They kept King Og’s huge iron bed, but it was just for show. Og was dead, and his body turned to dust until the resurrection. What then? The Bible tells us that the dead, small and great, will stand before God, and the book of life will be opened, “and whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire” (Revelation 20:15).
When that day comes, will you stand before God because you died in your sins? He is the God who sent His Son Jesus to die for you. He is the God who has love and forgiveness for you right now. Only Jesus can remove your sins and write your name in the book of life. He is the One who came into the world to save sinners. “What must I do to be saved?  ...  Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved” (Acts 16:30-31).
Think About God’s Word!
1. Why did the children of Israel keep King Og’s bed?
2. Pride blocks our view of God’s purposes. Og probably was confident of his own power and didn’t know it was going to cause him problems. What does Proverbs 16:18 tell us about the results of pride in our hearts?
Project: Pride can be a major problem in the heart of any Christian. However, it’s sometimes hard to spot correctly in others. In 1 Samuel 17 someone falsely accused somebody else of pride. Who accused whom? What other examples can you give of false accusations of pride or pretension in someone else? Hint: You should know one of the falsely accused very, very well.

The Woodsman’s Story

The two men in this story, back in Bible times, were in a forest where trees grew tall and had strong, wooden trunks, with green leaves at the top. They were the same as the trees we have today. God never changed His method of making trees or people or animals, because He made them right the first time.
Each of these woodsmen had an axe, and each man planned to chop down a tree. Maybe the wood from these two trees was going to be used for building something or maybe it would be burned as fuel for cooking fires or keeping warm. But here’s what happened.
One man raised his axe with a mighty upward swing of his arms, and, without warning, the head of his axe flew off and struck and killed his friend instantly! There was no hope for the woodsman lying on the ground  ...  he was dead!
The man swinging his axe never intended to do this. It was an accident. But how was he going to prove it?
There were no police in those days — only a person called “the avenger of blood.” This person might be the dead man’s father or brother. And as soon as the dead woodsman’s relative knew that his son or brother had been killed, he would be very angry and begin looking for the person who was responsible.
We do not know the thoughts that went through “the avenger’s” heart, but we all know something of the angry thoughts in men’s hearts today. Men’s hearts have not changed. Anger was active then, and anger is just as active now.
How was the poor woodsman going to escape? He knew his dead friend’s angry relative would be looking for him to kill him in return.
However, God knew all about this before it happened, and He had made a plan for people who had accidentally killed someone. God chose six cities in the land of Israel, and they were called “Cities of Refuge.” Today we might call them “Cities of Protection.” God made sure that there was a good road to each of those cities, and everybody knew about them.
“Run, man, run! Don’t waste a second! If the avenger’s relative finds you before you get to the protection of one of these cities, he might kill you!”
The woodsman would be safe inside the closest city of refuge until the judges met together to find out if he really planned to kill his friend or if it was an accident. What would the decision be  ...  yes or no? Of course, the judges could make a mistake, but in most cases it was clear  ...  the killer must die! But the man whom the judges decided had killed accidentally would be safe in the city of refuge, and no one could harm him. How long would he be safe? Until the death of the high priest. Then he could go home again safely.
Can you put yourself in that story? We are sure God wrote it for you and me, because Romans 15:4 tells us, “Whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning.” Have you ever sinned because you wanted to, even when you knew it was wrong? Then RUN! Don’t waste a second!
But where shall I run? There is no city of protection now, and I know God is angry with me!
Here is the biggest surprise of the story. You have sinned against God, so run to the very God you have sinned against! He will welcome you with open arms, because He gave His Son to die in your place. You will be safe forever, because God Himself will have no punishment for you since He loved you enough to pour that punishment upon His Son Jesus. It was “the Son of God, who loved me, and gave Himself for me” (Galatians 2:20).
If you are without Jesus as your Saviour, God’s judgment will find you unprotected, and God will not make any mistake.
Think About God’s Word!
1. How did God provide for people who had accidentally killed someone?
2. In Luke 23:34 the Lord Jesus says something very marvelous. How does it make it possible for us to think of running to Him for refuge from the judgment we deserve?
Project: When Peter preached in the Book of Acts, he gave the Jews a chance to run to the Lord Jesus as their “city of refuge” by treating their sin of crucifying their Messiah as a “sin of ignorance.” Can you find the reference where he does this?

Caleb’s Reward

Sometimes a reward is a wide ribbon to hang around your neck with a big, round medal on it. Sometimes it’s money to spend, and sometimes it’s a big surprise. Here’s the story of a reward that was a surprise.
Maybe you remember that there were twelve spies sent out by Moses to secretly look over the land that God had promised to give to His people, the children of Israel. The people wondered, Is it a good land? The spies’ answer was, Yes, very good. But the men who live there now are as big as giants! We’ll never win over them! We’ll never be able to live there!
But Caleb believed the Lord. He was one of the twelve spies, and the Bible tells us three times that Caleb totally followed the Lord. He did not report anything about the giants; he only reported that the land was good. Of course it was a good land, and of course they would all live there! Hadn’t God promised this? Wasn’t God’s promise enough?
That promise had been made years before, when Caleb was only a little boy. And when he went with the others to spy out the land, he was forty years old — a full-grown man. He was a strong man too, but no match for a giant! However, Caleb still was very sure, because God had promised the land to them, and he firmly believed God’s promise.
God’s promises always hold true, even for a sick person in bed or a child or an old person in a wheelchair! Do you believe His promises? One of them is in John 6:37: “Him that cometh to Me I will in no wise cast out.” You can come to Him no matter what your problem is. His promise to you is good right now, but there is a time limit! When Jesus comes to call all the believers to His home in heaven, then He will close the door, and the promise will no longer be offered! It’s not a good idea to wait!
The children of Israel had finally come to the promised land. They had crossed the Red Sea, God had fed them for forty years without any grocery stores or vegetable gardens, and they had crossed the Jordan River on dry land. Now they had arrived in the promised land.
Can you figure out how old Caleb was by this time? The Bible says he was eighty-five, and even though he was an old man, he was strong, just like he was when he was a spy. If you have a grandfather, he probably is not as strong as he was as a young man, but God can do anything. Perhaps your grandfather has stronger faith than you have, and you should listen to him if his faith comes from God.
When the land was being divided among the tribes, Caleb was given the mountain of Hebron for his possession as his reward. He still did not worry about the giants living there because he had no doubt that he would win over them. He said, “If so be the Lord will be with me, then I shall be able to drive them out, as the Lord said” (Joshua 14:12). You don’t need to wonder if he won the fight against the giants. It was not really Caleb, but it was the Lord Himself who won that victory.
You don’t need to worry, either, if the Lord will give you victory over the giants in your life — giants like selfishness and pride. The Lord is absolutely trustworthy, and He promises to help every boy and girl and grown-up that trusts Him.
Think About God’s Word!
1. What did Caleb receive as a reward for trusting the Lord in going to the promised land?
2. The Lord strengthened the old man Caleb. How did He strengthen David to fight Goliath? How has He strengthened you?
Project: Samson was strengthened by the Lord too. Can you describe how the Lord did it by reading Samson’s story in the Book of Judges?

Micah Thought He Had Everything

He had a home and family and silver and nice little idols and a priest for his religion. Now what more could a person want? Yes, he had a little sin in his past life, a little stealing from his mother. However, his mother had forgiven him, and that settled the matter.
Does forgiveness from a man or woman really settle the matter of sin? If you think so, you have never faced the God who made you, and you haven’t read His Book, the Bible. Sin is against God, and only God can forgive. Mark 2:7 says, “Who can forgive sins but God only?”
Micah had a lot going for him, but somehow way down inside was something called “fear.” Do you think it might have been because of his sins? Do you have fear down inside because of your sins?
Then came a day when some men came to Micah’s house while he was away, and they heard the voice of his priest talking. Good, they said. We recognize that voice  ...  it’s Micah’s priest. Let’s make him an offer. It was a good offer, because there were six hundred soldiers waiting at the gate looking for a place to settle. So they offered Micah’s priest a better job than he had — more money and more honor. He agreed, and away they all went, taking Micah’s priest and Micah’s idols and whatever else they wanted.
Micah soon heard about this, and his neighbors shared his concern. Follow them and get your stuff back! they said. So a group got together and followed them. Soon the six hundred soldiers looked back and saw this little group following them.
What’s the trouble? they called.
Trouble? said Micah. You’ve taken my idols and my priest, and what’s left? And now you are asking, What’s the trouble?
Can you imagine how Micah felt? How would you feel if someone took away your idols and your priest? What would you have left?
If you are a true Christian, you should not have idols, because you have the true God. And if your Priest is the Lord Jesus, our great High Priest, no one can take Him from you. If someone were to rob you of everything you own, you are still richer than the thief! We would certainly feel terribly upset and even angry, but our hearts could never say, “What is there left?” Our Jesus is forever! He cares when we are hurting and upset, but He lovingly assures us, “Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee” (Isaiah 41:10). That’s His promise. If we had our hearts set on riches, perhaps He wants us to see that no one can take away our Saviour. Whatever we lose, we can never lose Jesus, because He can’t lose even one of us!
Maybe, like Micah’s priest, you are looking for the best job, the most pay and the most honor. You will certainly find all this in our Saviour, but not on this earth. “We walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7), and this means believing what we cannot see.
After His crucifixion, the disciples saw Jesus go up as far as the cloud, but after that they did not see Him anymore. However, they heard the angel’s promise that He would come again. And they had heard the Lord’s own promise, “I will come again, and receive you unto Myself; that where I am, there ye may be also” (John 14:3). By faith we are absolutely sure that this is true.
What do you have that you can’t lose? Will you have our wonderful Saviour today and the gift of salvation that He is offering you? The debt we owe for our sins is already paid, now and forever!
Think About God’s Word!
1. What was taken away from Micah?
2. What is an example of an idol that you or I might have?
Project: List as many things as you can that God has given to you that can’t be taken away. What Bible verses can you give to support your answers?

Why Did Ahithophel Die?

Ahithophel had a very good job. He was counselor to King David, and that made him a very important man. He was a wise man too, and his advice was good. He also had good health. Then why did Ahithophel die?
Here is the story. King David had a very good-looking son named Absalom who was a popular prince. But having lots of friends was not enough; he wanted to be king. And when he sneaked away from his father’s care and blew a trumpet to call his friends together, there were many who followed him. And included in that crowd was Ahithophel, his father’s wise counselor.
It was an excited crowd that followed Absalom, and they shouted, Absalom reigns in Hebron! They knew that the only way Absalom could become king would be by killing his father, King David. They also knew that the king had many loyal followers too. How could they win this battle?
Of course they asked Ahithophel, the wise counselor, and he gave Absalom some good advice. He said, Do it right away. Don’t give King David time to make plans. Fight him right now!
This reminds me of the day they planned to kill the Lord Jesus. Pilate, the governor, asked the crowd, What shall I do with Jesus who is called Christ? They all shouted, Let Him be crucified! But Jesus was the Son of God, and their answer was proof that they did not want Him.
Jesus made no answer to their shouting. He knew that He must die to save those very men who were shouting against Him. His friends had all left Him, and He stood alone. Then He was nailed to that cruel cross, and all the people jeered and insulted Him while He hung there. They were guilty of His death. But Jesus died like no other man ever did. God Himself poured out on Him the penalty for the full load of sins of every true believer. No one saw this, for it happened in the dark. But when the light came back, He cried, “It is finished” (John 19:30). Yes, the terrible penalty for sin had been completely paid! He left nothing for you and me to do but to trust Him! “He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon Him; and with His stripes we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5).
After Ahithophel had given Absalom good advice, another man came along. His name was Hushai, and he said, No, Ahithophel’s advice is not good. Gather together a big army and lead it yourself in person against King David. Now Hushai was really working for King David, his friend. His advice gave the king time to escape and get his army ready for war.
Ahithophel was sure that his advice was good, and maybe it was, but it was not God’s way. Maybe you have some good advice about escaping the judgment of God, but at the end of the road, it won’t work! God’s Word is settled in heaven. There is no other Saviour but Jesus.
So what did Ahithophel do? He went home, set his house in order and hanged himself. That was the end of the road for him  ...  on earth. But he has yet to meet God about his choice.
And so you also must meet God someday, perhaps sooner than you think. Will you meet Him as a forgiven sinner and thank Him for all eternity for dying for you? Do you know that He loves you and will welcome you into His home in heaven forever? Or will you meet Him still with your sins and no loving Saviour and no precious blood to wash them away? You will face your own punishment.
When you are dead, you cannot change your mind. Then it is too late for forgiveness and a home in heaven.
Think About God’s Word!
1. How did Hushai’s advice to Absalom help King David?
2. What did Judas do when his plans didn’t work out? How is this the ultimate act of rebellion?
Project: Listening to the right advice is extremely important. How can you show from the Book of Proverbs that it is very important for a young person to listen to the instruction of their mother or father?

The Great King Solomon

How old was Solomon when he became king?
He was somewhere in his late teens  ...  a very young man to be king over so many thousands of God’s people. His father, King David, chose Solomon to be the next king, and the young man must have felt his need of wisdom and understanding.
What would you do? Go to a university and study royalty and the laws of the country? A leadership program might help, but Solomon felt his need was deeper than that. In fact, he may not have slept very well when he found himself in such a high position as king. That was the night when God appeared to him in a dream and asked him one big question: Solomon, what shall I give you?
Suppose God asked you that question on one of your sleepless nights, and you knew He had the power to give what you asked for. What would you say? Think about it for a minute.
Solomon answered, I am only a little child, and I am leader of Your chosen people who are more than can be counted. Give me an understanding heart. This was a wonderful beginning, both for him and for you. Wisdom and understanding are God’s good gift and may be found every day in reading the Word of God — the Bible.
God was pleased with King Solomon’s answer. He didn’t ask for a long life or riches or victory over Israel’s enemies. No, he asked for wisdom, and God gave him a wise and understanding heart, as well as all the extras too.
I wonder if you have ever asked God for wisdom. Of course, it would be senseless to ask for wisdom and then start looking for it in foolish places and wasting your time. “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” (Proverbs 9:10), and you will find it in the Book God has written — the Bible. If you look for God’s wisdom, you will also find joy and wonderful riches that will last much longer than gold.
King Solomon was given so much wisdom that he could design and build amazing buildings and design beautiful gardens without hiring special people. He knew all about trees and plants, philosophy and music, all without a university education. People came from other countries to hear his wisdom and learn from him. He didn’t need an education degree — God gave him wisdom, and he just used it.
Is wisdom enough? If you know what is right, will you be sure to do it? King Solomon knew what was right, but, little by little, he let go of it. God had said, “If thou wilt walk in My ways” (1 Kings 3:14). Did you notice that little word “if”? King Solomon’s royal line depended upon walking in God’s ways.
Here’s something for you to think about. If getting to heaven depended on you, even just a little bit, you would never get there. You can be sure that Jesus Himself will take you to His Father’s house, because Jesus did ALL the work on Calvary’s cross. You cannot add anything to the finished work of Christ.
King Solomon’s visitors probably went home thinking that he was a very intelligent man, and he certainly was. But he did not know how to say “No” to himself. God had told him not to have lots of horses and lots of wives. But he brought lots of horses from Egypt, and he had seven hundred wives from countries that had many gods and didn’t believe in the only true God. Here’s the sad part: His wives turned his heart away from the only true God — the God who had given him wisdom and understanding.
Is there something that is turning your heart away from God? King Solomon never thought anything would turn his heart away from Him, but that’s just what happened. He built places of worship for the wicked gods of his wives, and they sacrificed and burned incense there, and King Solomon worshipped their gods too. This didn’t happen all at once. It came about step by step, until he was worse than the people of those countries—because he knew better!
Maybe your friends think of you as a Bible person, but is Jesus your very own Saviour? If you are a true believer, you have the Holy Spirit living in you, and He will give you the power to say “No” to the little steps into sin before they grow into big ones. If you want God’s wisdom today, look for it in the right place! It is our Lord Jesus Christ who is our wisdom and righteousness and Redeemer.
Think About God’s Word!
1. What did Solomon ask God to give him?
2. Why is it important to say “No” to ourselves? Which part of the fruit of the Spirit listed in Galatians 5:22-23 is related to saying “No” to ourselves?
Project: Daniel was marvelously helped in not giving in to what most of us would give in to easily. How many situations can you find where he showed self-control?

Don’t Join the Crowd!

Forty-two children make quite a crowd. And when they all shout the same thing, it makes lots of noise, and it’s fun. But when they are shouting words that are mocking someone, that is wrong! Do you know what the word “mocking” means? It means to make fun of someone or to insult the person. You may know what it feels like to have someone make fun of you. It makes you unhappy and want to run away. And if it’s a big group of children all making fun of you, that makes it even worse!
Now listen to this story about Elisha. He had just seen a wonderful sight. He had seen his dear friend Elijah go up to heaven in a whirlwind, with a chariot of fire and horses of fire. Fifty men had gone to search for him, but, of course, they couldn’t find him  ...  Elijah was in heaven.
I wonder what those forty-two children had heard about Elijah and Elisha. There were no telephones or cell phones or e-mail to pass the news around, but everybody had heard the story. And to some, it was just a story.
What is it to you? If God tells a story, is it just another tale, and it doesn’t matter if you get it all wrong? We are very sure that God’s Word is true, and we don’t dare change it or laugh at what God has said.
To those forty-two children at Bethel, it was just a funny story about Elijah going up to heaven. When they saw Elisha go by, they shouted at him to go up too. They said, Go up, bald head! And they said it again, mocking Elisha. Maybe Elisha had lost the hair on his head, but God tells us to respect old age.
Would you have joined in their shouting if you had been there? God says, “Thou shalt not follow a [crowd] to do evil” (Exodus 23:2). It is important to obey the Word of God, and even if you must stand alone, God stands with you!
Elisha knew that this was a serious thing for children to do, and he turned and cursed them in the name of the Lord. Those children very suddenly stopped their mocking, and they probably started screaming instead. God controls what animals do, and God sent two mother bears out of the forest to attack them. Those two angry bears had claws, and they tore those forty-two children. There’s nothing so angry as a mother bear, and this time God directed the bears’ anger against the mocking children.
Maybe as you and I read this story, we can remember when we were as bad as those children. God hates sin now just as He hated it then. Should I be afraid? Will bears or something else attack me? Listen to the good news.
“Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners” (1 Timothy 1:15). He also tells us, “Perfect love [casts] out fear” (1 John 4:18). I don’t know where those children could have run for safety, but I know where you can run. Right now there is refuge and safety in Jesus Himself. He took all the anger of God against sin — all of it — so completely that He could say, “It is finished” (John 19:30). His love casts out fear, forever!
I don’t know what may happen in your life before He comes, but I know you will never have to bear your troubles alone. His promise is, “I will never leave [you], nor forsake [you]” (Hebrews 13:5). If you are afraid, come closer to Him and see how His perfect love casts out fear.
Think About God’s Word!
1. What happened to the forty-two children who mocked Elisha?
2. Proverbs 1 has verses that warn against the peer pressure of bad companions. What verses are they?
Project: The good king Jehoshaphat had a very bad friend. How did that bad friend have a bad affect on Jehoshaphat’s life?

Vegetable Stew for a Hundred Men

It was a hungry time, and all those young men must have been really glad when Elisha said to his servant, Put on the great pot and boil stew for the sons of the prophets.
You can guess all the good veggies that would be in that pot of stew and the good smell that came from the steam as it bubbled and cooked. But there was one young man who had an idea, and he thought it was a good idea. Maybe he thought there wasn’t enough stew in that big pot to feed all those hundred men, or maybe he just wanted to add more herb flavoring to it.
This is a Bible story, and we may be sure that God is telling us something important here. Of course, the Bible is a good book, but don’t you think we should add a little something to it? It is a very old book and probably some modern changes or additions would help. Wouldn’t it be a good idea to try? After all, Jesus lived two thousand years ago, and maybe we could add a few up-to-date thoughts and make it easier to read and more pleasant.
God, the author of the Bible, used a great assortment of men to write His Word, but it’s the Word of God all the way through. All you will do is spoil it if you try to add your own ideas.
This young man in our story went out and gathered a whole lapful of wild gourds and shredded them into the pot of stew. He must have been a helpful person, and he wanted to make sure there would be enough stew for everyone. His reason was really good, so wouldn’t it be all right if he made a little mistake?
No, it wouldn’t! And if you make a little mistake about the way to God’s home in heaven, it won’t be all right either. Jesus said, “I am the way” (John 14:6). Could anything be plainer than that? Jesus suffered God’s anger against sin, and Jesus is our Saviour forever. Are you adding anything to that truth? If you are, it may be a whole lapful of lies.
As soon as the men began eating the stew, they said, Oh, man of God, there is death in the pot! Do you mean that a few shreds of wild gourd would cause death? Yes, they would! And even one little lie of the devil could cause you to miss salvation forever, if you believe him. The devil may say that we’re all sinners and Jesus died for everybody and so it’s all right with you. But stop a minute. You will find in the Bible that you are a sinner, and God deals with one sinner at a time. Will you come to Him now, not in bunches or in families, but just by yourself? It has to be personal. “The Son of God  ...  loved ME, and gave Himself for ME” (Galatians 2:20). There is still time for you right now. There would not have been time if those men had swallowed the stew and then found it was poison. The first spoonful showed that it was poisonous, and they told the right person. They quickly said, Oh, man of God, there is death in the pot! Don’t swallow the devil’s lies. Look and see what God says!
Elisha did not get upset, and he did not scold anybody. He just said, Bring me meal. Meal was ground wheat that was ready for food. Many times the Bible shows us that wheat is a picture of Christ Himself who came to earth and suffered and died for you. Elisha added the wheat meal to the pot of stew, and it removed the poison of the wild gourds. The young men could all eat it now without harm and be filled and happy.
If you know the Lord Jesus as your very own Saviour, then you may have a whole lapful of Satan’s lies offered to you by people who don’t know your Saviour. But if you read your Bible, you will find that Jesus Himself is everything you need, and your happiness will be now and forever.
“I have blotted out, as a thick cloud, [your] transgressions, and, as a cloud, [your] sins: return unto Me; for I have redeemed [you]” (Isaiah 44:22).
Think About God’s Word!
1. What did adding the wild gourds do to Elisha’s pot of stew?
2. Good food has a lot to do with how healthy we are. What is one way to get good “spiritual” food?
Project: This story says that wheat is a “picture of Christ Himself.” How many verses can you find that support this statement?

Eyes That Really See

I will make my camp here, said the king of Syria, but that’s a military secret!
But then, for some unknown reason, the children of Israel knew exactly where the Syrian camp would be. This happened more than once. Finally the king of Syria decided there must be a spy among his men. How else would those Israelites know his secret plans?
I’ll tell you how, said one of his servants. Elisha the prophet tells the king of Israel even what you say in your bedroom!
I’ll catch that Elisha, said the king, and he sent his soldiers with horses and chariots at night to surround the city of Dothan where Elisha was staying.
Elisha had a servant who got up early the next morning and came back looking scared. He had seen that the Syrian army had surrounded Dothan. He cried to Elisha in fear, Master, what shall we do?
Do not fear, said Elisha. There are more soldiers with us than with them. The servant might have argued, but he didn’t have time because Elisha began to pray: Lord, I pray, open my servant’s eyes that he may see!
Do you and I understand that it’s only by the eyes of faith that we can see the things that God has prepared for those who love and follow Him? His blessings are real indeed, but if you have not accepted God’s beloved Son Jesus as your Saviour, you do not have eyes of faith, and you will not see His mercies and blessings.
The Lord did open the servant’s eyes, and then he saw that the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire surrounding Elisha to protect him. God doesn’t tell us any more about the servant. Perhaps he believed and followed Elisha’s God, the only true God, or perhaps he didn’t.
Elisha prayed again: Lord, strike the Syrians with blindness. And immediately they could not see. Then Elisha said to the Syrians, This is not the way, and this is not the city. Follow me. And suddenly the man whom the king of Syria wanted to kill became their leader, all the way to Samaria and right inside that city of Israel. Then Elisha prayed, Lord, open the eyes of the Syrians that they may see, and they quickly discovered that they were now captives in Samaria.
It was a perfect chance for the king of Israel to wipe out the whole Syrian army, but he asked Elisha first, Shall I kill them? Shall I kill them? Now was his chance, and he was eager to get rid of this enemy!
Boys and girls and grown-ups, God is not waiting for a chance to punish you! He loves you and is waiting for you to come to Him as a poor sinner comes, feeling truly sorry for all your sins. His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, suffered and died for sinners like you and me. Will you kneel at His feet and tell Him how sorry you are for your sins and that you accept Him as your very own Saviour?
Elisha answered the king of Israel’s question. NO, don’t kill them! Give them bread and give them water, and let them go back to their master.
You and I have a faithful Creator God who gives you food and drink every day. Will you go back to Satan, your old master? Or will you gladly give yourself to God who loves you so much that He gave up His only Son to die for you? “Whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Acts 2:21).
Because of Elisha’s kindness to the Syrian army, they never came back into the land of Israel. What a wonderful lesson in how to treat your enemies! “Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you” (Matthew 5:44).
Think About God’s Word!
1. What did the servant see when his eyes were opened?
2. How is Proverbs 15:1 related to what happened in this story?
Project: Where else in God’s Word can you find kind acts or words that helped to diffuse anger?

The Choir Leader

Asaph was a very good choir leader, back when David was king of Israel. The men and women in the choir were all standing in perfect order, and when Asaph lifted his hand to give the starting signal, every voice was raised in perfect harmony. It must have been wonderful to hear. God made the human voice on the sixth day of creation, and the notes of the musical scale are the same now as they were then.
God was pleased with their harmony, for He had created it. But at the same time, He looked right down into the singers’ hearts to see if they meant what they were singing. The words were beautiful words of praise, but they were empty words if they did not come from a heart full of praise.
Asaph was an excellent leader, but at the same time he had a problem deep down in his heart. Yes, he knew God is worth trusting, but he wondered, Why do wicked people succeed? There are people who cheat and steal and say bad things. They live as they like, and they continue to be healthy and rich and respected. But what about the rest of us? We try to live Christian lives and be honest and kind even when others don’t know. But we don’t have wonderful jobs and good health and good looks  ...  all those nice things go to somebody else. It doesn’t seem fair!
Maybe you have the same problem down in your heart. You have tried hard, but success passes you by and piles up for somebody else. It makes you doubt the wisdom of God, and you know it isn’t right to doubt Him. What should you do?
Asaph found the answer, and if you read Psalm 73, you will find out as he did. “I went into the sanctuary of God; then understood I their end” (vs. 17). You see, Asaph went to the right place to find the answer. He went to the sanctuary of God, and if you want the answer, you do the same. Kneel down and tell God your problem, and look in His Book, the Bible, for the answer.
Asaph learned from God that He set those wicked people in slippery places. Maybe you can understand that, if you’ve ever tried to walk in slippery mud on a hillside, with nothing to grab onto. Down you go, and you land in whatever happens to be at the bottom.
Don’t try to go the way of those wicked people that seem so successful. They will be brought to despair. Over and over again you are warned not to follow what they do.
Asaph found security in God. “I am continually with Thee; Thou hast holden me by my right hand.  ...  God is the strength of my heart, and my portion forever” (Psalm 73:23,26).
The wicked may go on being successful, but Asaph was looking beyond time into God’s great forever, and his heart was satisfied. He said, “It is good for me to draw near to God: I have put my trust in the Lord God” (Psalm 73:28). And when he lifted up his hand to lead the choir, he did so with a heart that rested in God.
“Happy is that people, whose God is the Lord” (Psalm 144:15).
Think About God’s Word!
1. Where did Asaph go to find the answer to the question that was troubling him?
2. Have you ever gone to another person to get advice and been disappointed with their answer? How do we know that the Lord Jesus will never give bad advice? What does Isaiah 9:6 call Him?
Project: Compare the advice given to Job by Bildad, Zophar and Eliphaz with the advice given by Elihu. What’s the difference?

The King Was in a Rage

Here is the story of a great king of Judah named King Asa. In his younger days as king, he trusted in God and won a great victory. A million men had come to make war with the little country of Judah. Having a much smaller army, King Asa prayed with all his heart to God about fighting against this great enemy. When the battle was over, King Asa’s country was victorious and much richer than before. He knew it was God’s victory, and his heart was filled with praise.
The prophet named Oded went out to meet King Asa and told him, Be strong, and don’t let your hands be weak. This encouraged King Asa so much that he gathered others from Israel for a great feast to thank God for the victory. There were animal sacrifices and trumpets and shouting and good promises to follow God with all their hearts and with all their souls.
Did you ever feel like that? Did you ever praise and shout and make music and feel as if you could follow the Lord forever? Joy and victory and promises are good, but they won’t keep you forever. It is exciting to be with other Christians and praise the Lord together. But days and years pass, and Satan has his sneaky plans for you, even if you are a real Christian and your intentions are good.
Satan had another plan to bother King Asa, and this time the enemy was closer to home and not nearly so big and scary-looking. The enemy’s plan was to build up the city of Ramah and cut off supplies to King Asa. So what would the king do this time?
King Asa thought up his own plan, and maybe it was a good plan. He sent silver and gold to King Ben-hadad and said, Go fight with my enemy. The plan worked. The enemy king stopped building up Ramah, and King Asa carried off the stones and timber and used it for his own buildings.
Maybe that was a smart idea, but where were the sacrifices and praise to God after this victory? And where was the music and shouting? And what about those promises he made to God after the first victory?
It’s not much use to make promises to God, because we are too changeable to keep them. But listen to this! We have a wonderful Saviour who has gone all the way to Calvary’s cross to keep His promise to sinners like you and me! If He has saved you and you really want to follow Him, then He will supply strength every day, if you ask Him. You can’t do it alone. Don’t count on your promises; count on His! His power can never fail!
King Asa wasn’t trusting in God; he had trusted in gold and silver. It worked. But that is not the end of the story. Now God sent Hanani the prophet to tell King Asa that what he had done was wrong. This is what he said: “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. Herein thou hast done foolishly: therefore from henceforth thou shalt have wars” (2 Chronicles 16:9).
King Asa was in a rage about this. Hanani’s message did not please him at all. To make sure he did not hear it again, he shut up the prophet in prison. But can anyone silence God?
King Asa got a disease in his feet. He didn’t turn to God first about the problem; he turned to the doctors and hoped they could help him.
If you are a true Christian, remember, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble” (Psalm 46:1). The doctors can probably help you, but also remember that all skill and wisdom comes from God. Psalm 107:19 says, “They cry unto the Lord in their trouble, and He [saves] them out of their distresses.” God is sure to do the best thing for you, and if the disease is not healed, He will stay with you right to the end. He promises, “I will never leave thee” (Hebrews 13:5).
For two years King Asa suffered from this disease until finally he died. God did not forget that joyful victory in his younger days, but how sad that King Asa did not continue to trust in God. And it’s sad that he was in a rage when the prophet told him what he had done was wrong. He did not die triumphantly.
And God remembers how you trusted Him once, maybe years ago. He has not changed. His wisdom, love and power are forever the same. He loved you enough to send Jesus to die for you. Trust Him now and turn to Him every day of your life.
Think About God’s Word!
1. What did King Asa do to Hanani after he gave King Asa a troubling message?
2. Trusting in the Lord isn’t just a feeling. Those come and go. Trust is shown by simply believing God and doing what He says. What did the children of Israel do that showed their faith? (See Exodus 14:13.)
Project: Describe how each of these people showed their faith in God: Daniel; David; Noah; Joseph.

The Story of Two Kings (Part 1)

King Jehoshaphat came to visit King Ahab, but it might have been better if he had stayed at home. Jehoshaphat was a friendly man, and he thought a visit to Ahab would be a good thing to do. So he came with a great deal of royal fuss, and Ahab made a great feast for him. One king should have a good dinner, but imagine the fancy feast for two kings! And all their attendants shared the feast too.
Ahab got to thinking that here was a chance to have help fighting Ramoth-gilead. So he said to Jehoshaphat, Will you go with me to battle?
Yes, said Jehoshaphat. I am like you, and my people are like your people. We will go with you to the battle.
Just a minute, Jehoshaphat. You are a true believer, and Ahab isn’t! Why did you come, and why did you feast with him? Now you are going to share his battles. If you are a real believer, God will give you strength to say “No.”
Be careful, Christian boys and girls. Ask God if you should share with unbelievers. Satan has traps in that road. And you will stumble other believers too.
The believing Jehoshaphat did have some doubts in the back of his mind, so he suggested asking the word of the Lord about this risk of fighting Ramoth-gilead. Okay, said Ahab, and he called four hundred prophets together who brought good news of success. Yes, they said. Go up to battle. God will deliver Ramoth-gilead into the king’s hand.
But Jehoshaphat was not satisfied with that answer. Perhaps he noticed that those prophets spoke of “God,” and he spoke of the “Lord.”
Have you noticed that too? Unbelievers may speak of God, but they rarely say a word about the Lord Jesus Christ. True believers acknowledge that He is their Lord and Saviour.
Is there another prophet of the Lord besides? asked Jehoshaphat.
Yes, said Ahab, but I hate him, because he always predicts evil about me.
What else can we true believers say to you if you have no Saviour? We don’t want to comfort you with lies. God says you are a lost sinner, and it is true. “All have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). And if you die a lost sinner, your eternity will be tragically all evil! But we can happily tell you that our Lord Jesus Christ is the Saviour of sinners, and God Himself has no other way: “If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved” (Romans 10:9).
So Ahab agreed to call Micaiah, the one prophet of the Lord, and they would hear his prediction. At first he fitted in with all the others, but Ahab knew that this was not the true message. Then Micaiah told the truth: I saw all Israel as sheep having no shepherd. And Ahab instantly understood what the message meant.
Ahab said to Jehoshaphat, Didn’t I tell you he always predicts evil? Then Ahab made his own decision — he believed the four hundred prophets instead of Micaiah, the prophet of the Lord.
What will you do? Will you believe what most say, or will you believe the Word of God? “Forever, O Lord, Thy word is settled in heaven” (Psalm 119:89).
Perhaps you would like to hear about the battle that day. If you think you know what happened, don’t be too sure. The next story will tell you what happened.
Think About God’s Word!
1. What did Jehoshaphat suggest he and Ahab do before fighting Ramoth-gilead?
2. When did the Lord give Joseph the strength to say “No” when he was tempted with evil? You can read about it in Genesis 39.
Project: Sometimes being faithful to the Lord lets us experience a bit of suffering. How many examples can you give of people in the Word of God who suffered for refusing to go along with evil? You could get off to a good start in your search by reading Acts 5.

The Story of Two Kings (Part 2)

There was one little detail Ahab had to take care of before going into battle. Last week we read that Micaiah was the prophet of the Lord that predicted Ahab would lose the battle. Ahab hated him and said, Put Micaiah in prison, and feed him on bread and water till I come back in peace.
But somehow Ahab still had a feeling that the Lord was against him, so he thought it would be safer to disguise himself and not wear his royal robe into battle. That way, maybe the enemy couldn’t identify him. But then he told Jehoshaphat to wear his royal robe!
Do you think God won’t know who you are when you stand before Him? Can anyone hide in secret places where God will not find him? No. He even knows the secrets of your heart! Psalm 44:21 says, “Shall not God search this out? for He knoweth the secrets of the heart.” Now is the time to come to Him with your sins for His cleansing through the precious blood of Christ. Then, instead of facing Him in judgment, you can look forward to that happy day when He will welcome you to His home in heaven.
Of course, the enemy soldiers saw Jehoshaphat right away in his royal robe. They had orders from their leader: Never mind anybody else! Fight the king! And the attack on Jehoshaphat came from all sides at once. What could the believing king do?
Let me tell you, dear believing friend, that there is one thing you can do. God has not promised that you will never die, but He has promised that you are His forever! He says, “Call upon Me in the day of trouble” (Psalm 50:15), and you will find that He keeps His promise for all eternity! Even in death He answers, “This one is Mine.”
The believing King Jehosha­phat cried out to the Lord, and God diverted the soldiers away from him. It was God who did this, because Jehoshaphat knew the Lord, and the enemy didn’t. God has power over people even if they don’t know Him.
Of course, soldiers then didn’t have guns, but they had spears and arrows, and they were trained archers. One enemy soldier put all his strength into a shot and sent his arrow powerfully against somebody  ...  no special target. It was just a guess.
All the soldiers wore armor, and the armor had joints so the soldiers could move. That enemy soldier’s powerful arrow went straight through a joint in Ahab’s armor, and Ahab knew he was fatally wounded. His only shelter was to be carried from the battle where he watched from the sidelines until sunset, and then he died.
A royal funeral would probably follow, but it was too late to change King Ahab’s destination for eternity. Death closes the door of opportunity forever for everyone, as it did for King Ahab. Come now to the Saviour who loves you and died for you, before your door of opportunity closes forever.
Think About God’s Word!
1. What happened after Jehoshaphat cried out to the Lord?
2. Are there any real accidents?
Project: What other clever schemes can you think of that God blocked? You can start with Matthew 2, but I think you’ll find lots more than the one shown there.

The Queen Was Afraid

Maybe some girls use a lot of makeup and hair coloring to make themselves beautiful, but not Esther. All the other girls did their best, but everyone agreed that Esther was the most beautiful of all. The king thought so too, and Esther became queen. But the king was a busy man, and it was a whole month since he had taken time to see his queen. Shushan the palace where they lived was a very big place.
Queen Esther was a Jewish orphan who had been brought up by her Uncle Mordecai. Only ladies were allowed in the part of the palace where she stayed now as queen, so her uncle walked outside every day to where he could share news with Esther who was so dear to him.
One day Mordecai’s news was bad, very bad. The king had a special advisor named Haman, and this evil man said that he would pay a huge reward to have all the Jews in the kingdom destroyed.
Agreed, said the king. You choose the day and write out the order, and I will sign it. And Haman did, and the order was sent out in a great rush, and the king and Haman sat down to drink.
But do you know something? You may get very angry about something, but you can’t change God’s Word, no matter who you are. Nothing and nobody in the world can change God’s plan.
God has a wonderful plan. He sent His beloved Son, Christ Jesus, into the world to save sinners. The devil didn’t like that plan, and he tried to kill Jesus even when He was a baby, so He couldn’t be your Saviour. It didn’t work. So then the devil wanted to get people to throw Jesus over a cliff or kill Him with stones  ...  but the devil can’t win!
God’s plan was for Jesus to give up His life on the cross for sinners, which He did. So now the devil will try to keep you from listening to God’s Word, and he will fill you with lies about it. But God’s Word stands true forever! Just as God has a plan for sinners to be saved, He had a plan to save the Jewish people. Read on in the story and see what happened.
Mordecai sent a message to Queen Esther that she should plead with the king for the life of her people, the Jews. But she was afraid. She had reason to be afraid, because the king did not listen to anybody. He carried a golden scepter in his royal hand, and if you came into his presence uninvited, it could mean death for you  ...  with no second chance! He was a man of power. But our God is all-powerful!
No wonder Queen Esther was afraid. If she went uninvited before the king, he might order her death! She begged Mordecai and all her friends to fast (not to eat anything), to prove that they cared too. After fasting for three days, she went in to the king. What would he say?
I wonder if you know that God Himself who inspired this story and the people who shared in giving it to you care very much about you right now. We know God’s answer if you come to Jesus. We know that Jesus Himself invites you over and over again. “Him that cometh to Me I will in no wise cast out” (John 6:37). Why are you waiting?
When Queen Esther approached the king, he held out the golden scepter, and the queen came and touched the top of the scepter. It was a silent action of welcome, and it meant life to her — not death!
Now think of the far, far better welcome of our God to you. If you come in the name of Jesus, there is no doubt about your welcome. And it’s everlasting life that He gives, not just honor from a king who died long ago.
Once the king welcomed Queen Esther, she said, Come to a banquet that I will provide for you and Haman. And the king very willingly agreed, and Haman did too. Everything seemed to be working out right, just as evil Haman had hoped. He went home and boasted to his family and friends, but that is not the end of the story. God tells us a secret that Haman did not know.
Are you finding in your life today that things seem to be working out right? This is not the end of the story for you either, because you are a sinner. And if the matter of your sins is not settled between you and God, no amount of boasting or the approval of friends will ever settle it. God says, “He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy” (Proverbs 28:13).
Think About God’s Word!
1. What did Mordecai and Esther’s friends do before she went to see the king?
2. When we pray, we have the privilege of stopping worrying. How can you see that this is true from Philippians 4:6-9?
Project: Why might Joshua have been worried in Joshua 1? What did the Lord say to encourage Joshua? How did Joshua encourage the rest?

What Happened to Haman?

Queen Esther’s banquet was set for the next day. Haman went home and bragged about the royal invitation. Then he added, But there’s one problem—everybody bows down to me except Mordecai the Jew. Hang him! said his wife. Build a gallows fifty feet high so everybody can see! Haman agreed, and the gallows was built.
But the account in the Bible tells us something that Haman did not know. Two doorkeepers at Shushan the palace were angry with the king and whispered their plan to murder him. Mordecai, who was Queen Esther’s uncle, heard of this secret plan to murder the king, and he told the king. The two would-be murderers were executed, and this plot and Mordecai’s telling the king of the plot were written in the history books of the kingdom.
The king had a bad night after accepting Queen Esther’s invitation, and he just could not sleep. Bring me the history books, he told his servants. Now read to me. When the account was read of the two doorkeepers’ plot to murder him, he asked, How was Mordecai rewarded for telling me about the plot?
He received no reward, said the reader.
Certainly God causes people to remember, but sometimes He causes us to forget. Do you have sins in your life that you want to forget? Unless your sins are washed away in the blood of Christ, they will come back to torment you forever! Won’t you come to that wonderful Saviour right now to have your sins washed away? He promises to reserve a place for you in heaven where there won’t be any sadness — only joy.
Then the king asked who was in the court. Only Haman was there, coming early to ask permission to hang Mordecai on the high gallows he had built for that purpose. Before Haman could ask about hanging Mordecai, the king asked him, What should be done to the man whom the king delights to honor?
Of course, that’s me, thought Haman, and he piled on all the honors he could think of — the king’s horse to ride on, the fanciest clothes, and an announcer to tell the people that this man was honored by the great king. Then the king ordered, Do all you said to Mordecai the Jew!
Haman couldn’t refuse the king’s order. It was done, every word of it, and he went home to his wife in total misery. His entire plan had turned upside down!
Boys and girls, and grown-ups too, don’t let this happen to you. Surrender to the Lord Jesus Christ right now, and you will find that in due time you will share His honors too. He knows all your secret sins, but He loves you anyway and wants you to share heaven with Himself.
Queen Esther’s banquet was only the beginning. She had another one the next day, and that was when she poured out her tears and her hopeful wish for the safety of her people. She begged the king for the lives of the Jewish people.
Who planned this crime? asked the king, and she put the blame where it belonged—Haman — who was sitting right there.
The king was furious! He went out into the palace garden. While he was gone, Haman begged the queen for his life, but it was too late. When the king returned, one of the servants suggested that Haman should be hanged on the gallows that he had built for Mordecai. And that is what happened.
Have you found yourself in this story? You may come boldly, not fearfully, to Jesus, telling Him you are a sinner and that you want Him to wash away your sins. He will save you, not just for today, but forever!
Or you may refuse to come. Then your place is in this story too, not just for one day, but forever in that awful place where the fire is never put out. You are urgently invited to come and be joyfully washed clean from every sin. “The blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us from all sin” (1 John 1:7). “I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repent­eth” (Luke 15:7).
Think About God’s Word!
1. Why did the king “delight to honor” Mordecai instead of Haman?
2. How do we honor the Lord Jesus Christ?
Project: Find as many people as possible in the Bible who honored the Lord. What did they do?

A Man Named Habakkuk

Is this man’s name hard for you to say? One of the books of the Bible is named after him. See if you can find it. Here is a clue: It’s in the Old Testament.
Habakkuk was one of God’s prophets, and he was a true man of faith during a very difficult time for the people of Israel. But I think you will find that his story has a very happy ending.
Maybe you remember that God gave Israel the ten commandments, which were very wise and good. Israel was a happy nation at that time. They had lots of sunshine and rain for their gardens and fields. The fathers and mothers were strong and healthy, and they had many healthy, happy children.
BUT, they did not obey God. (There’s always a “but” if you listen to the wrong voice.) Instead, they chose their own way and went deeper and deeper into sin. God loved them too much to let them go on in their own choices.
What did God send? Troubles. And He has sent troubles into your life too, because He loves you so much, and He knows the end of the road if you choose your own way. It’s like He is saying to you, Listen to Me! Will you listen?
There was another nation called Chaldeans who didn’t care at all about God, and they had very hot tempers and sharp swords. They came against Israel and fought and won. Israel was smashed to bits, and the strong men were either dead or prisoners. God sent bare, brown fields to their land. There was no fruit on the trees, no grapes on the vines, no olive oil for cooking, no wheat or rice or barley, and no cows or sheep for meat. What was left?
Have you ever felt like that? Everything is gone with nothing left and all you can do is cry? There are many right now in America who feel like that. There are some that may have lots of things, but nothing satisfies them, and their hearts are broken. They just want to kill themselves. Is it possible to have a happy ending after all that?
Listen, and you will hear Habakkuk’s song of triumph and joy when everything else was gone. “Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation. The Lord God is my strength.  ...  To the chief singer on my stringed instruments” (Habakkuk 3:18-19).
Do you really mean that Habakkuk was joyful when he had lost everything? Well, there was one thing he had not lost. He had the love of God in his heart forever! And he knew Him as the God of his salvation. He did not know, as you and I do, that God has given His only Son to die for sinners, for this had not yet happened. But he did know that God was faithful forever, and he was ready to sing about it. He did not have a big choir, but he had his own happy voice, and he wanted everyone to know, so he played a stringed instrument, like a harp.
We want you to know too. If you lose out on something today, or maybe you lose someone whom you love very much, remember that JESUS IS FOREVER! If you are saved, you can never lose Jesus, because He can’t lose you! “Jesus Christ [is] the same yesterday, and today, and forever” (Hebrews 13:8). And He says, “I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee” (Hebrews 13:5). “Lo, I am with you alway” (Matthew 28:20).
Think About God’s Word!
1. Why was Habakkuk still joyful after trouble was sent to Israel?
2. Just about everything we own eventually gets broken, wears out, gets lost or loses its usefulness. Just about everyone we know will grow old and eventually die. What can you name that never changes?
Project: This project is pretty challenging, but it never hurts to puzzle over God’s Word. How many people in the Bible can you list that didn’t or won’t have a physical death before they enter their eternal state. Hint: There are more than two.

One Tiny Mustard Seed

You might ask, “What kind of mustard seed?” because there are many kinds of mustard. Maybe you put bright-yellow mustard on your hot dog today. Or maybe you live in a land where you’ve never tasted hot dogs, and maybe you never saw mustard. You boys and girls who read this story live in all parts of the world, but God has a message for you today no matter where you live.
I have a wildflower book that lists six kinds of mustard, but I don’t think the one Jesus told us about is one of those in my book. However, I can understand His story, and you see if you can understand it too.
Jesus said that a man took one tiny mustard seed and planted it in his garden. The man must have been a good gardener, because the seed sprouted and grew, and grew, and grew some more. In fact, it grew into a tree! It must have been a really big tree, because birds came and made nests in its branches.
The Bible does not tell us anything more about that mustard tree, perhaps because God wants you to think about that tree just as it is.
When Jesus told that story, He was on His way toward Jerusalem, and He knew very well that He would be crucified there. Why didn’t He go somewhere and hide? I’ll tell you why. It was because He loved sinners like you and me, and He came into the world on purpose to save us. The only way He could do this was by taking our place and dying for us. He loved sinners so much that He did not hide from suffering and death. “Christ died for our sins” (1 Corinthians 15:3). Isn’t that enough to make you love Him forever?
Now, do you boys and girls know what a refuge is? Maybe you’ve heard of a wildlife refuge, which is a place where animals and birds can live and be protected.
I’m sure that big mustard tree was a good, leafy refuge for birds and their nests and babies, but it’s not a good place of protection for you. The tree was so big that everybody could see it. It’s like a big building where people go to say prayers, but even a building like that is not a refuge for you.
You and I need a refuge because we are sinners. Is there no place where we can hide from the wrath of God that we deserve for our sins? Yes, there is a Saviour, and only One: “[The Lord] is my Rock and my Salvation.  ...  The Rock of my strength, and my Refuge, is in God” (Psalm 62:6-7).
I have seen a tree blown down in a storm, but the great Rock stands firm. This Rock is the Lord Jesus Himself. “A Man shall be as a hiding place from the wind, and a [cover] from the [wild storm]” (Isaiah 32:2). The full fury of the storm, which is God’s wrath against sin, strikes the Rock, but He is my refuge.
Now think about the story Jesus told. There was a gardener and a garden and a seed that sprouted and grew bigger and bigger. Religion has grown just like that — bigger and bigger, but there is no refuge in religion. Religion cannot save you from your sins. Only Christ Himself can do that, because He died for them. “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved” (Acts 16:31).
Have you come to the Lord Jesus who said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man [comes] unto the Father, but by Me” (John 14:6)? There is no refuge from the punishment for your sins except in Jesus. The huge tree of religion can’t do it!
Think About God’s Word!
1. What happened after the tiny mustard seed was planted?
2. What does it mean that religion isn’t a refuge but the Man Christ Jesus is?
Project: Even loving parents (and many children don’t have them) can’t keep their children from all dangers. What verses can you give that show how much the Lord cares about His children and is able to protect them?

Do You Have the Right Key?

God doesn’t really need a key to keep people from entering His home. In Revelation 1:18, Jesus is the great Judge who says, “I  ...  have the keys of hell and of death,” but it does not say that He has the keys of heaven. Of course not! Heaven isn’t locked!
But if I tell you one of God’s stories, maybe it will help you to understand why some people do not find a welcome in His presence. And if you are not welcome, there is no way for you to enter His home. Jesus is the door, and there is no other door to heaven. He says, “I am the door: by Me if any man enter in, he shall be saved” (John 10:9).
There was a poor mother in the land of Canaan who had a very unhappy daughter at home. Satan was troubling her terribly, and she was just miserable. You know, Satan sends his demons to trouble people today too, and if he gets a chance, he drags people down into bad habits, bad thoughts and wicked acts.
This poor mother knew that nobody could help her daughter but Jesus. So when Jesus came to her town, she followed Him, calling, Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me. My daughter is miserably troubled by a devil.
But Jesus, who has all power and love, didn’t answer her. Maybe He did not hear her, so she called out to Him again. There were disciples with Jesus that day, and they did not like all that noise. They begged Jesus, Send her away, for she is calling after us.
These disciples had seen Jesus heal many others, but this mother and her daughter were different. Israel was God’s chosen nation, but this mother and daughter were not Israelites — they were Gentiles. The disciples seemed to think that God had no blessing for outsiders.
But did you know that “God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son” (John 3:16)? That doesn’t leave anybody out —not you and not me! God’s wonderful love includes anybody who is willing, no matter what nationality you are or what color of skin you have.
So why then didn’t Jesus answer the lady? You see, she called Him, “Son of David,” but Jesus is lots more than the Son of David to me! He came into the world to save sinners, and I am a sinner! Are you? If you answered, “Yes,” then you may be sure that He will answer your call, because He came to save sinners. The precious blood of Jesus can wash completely clean the very worst sinner who comes to Him.
Jesus answered the complaining disciples by saying, I am not sent except to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. This was before His death and before Israel finally refused Him and crucified Him. So at that time He came to His own nation of Israel.
The poor mother heard what Jesus said, but she did not go home sadly and say, “No blessing for me.” Instead, she came and worshipped Jesus and said, Lord, help me!
Maybe you have said that, and no help came. Listen to the rest of the story.
Jesus said, It is not right to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs! Then the mother answered, Truth, Lord, but the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.
You see, she was not insulted to be called a dog. Are you insulted if Jesus calls you a sinner? Or are you ready to say, “Truth, Lord”?
Jesus answered, O woman, great is your faith! And He promised her that she would have what she asked for. Her daughter was healed right away!
It doesn’t take a long time for Jesus to save you, because the price for your sins was already paid when He died on the cross. Nothing stops Him from keeping His promises. Will you come to Him in faith today, believing that “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners” (1 Timothy 1:15)? And you don’t need a key, because Jesus is the door, and the door isn’t locked.
Think About God’s Word!
1. Why did Jesus heal the woman’s daughter?
2. What right do we have to blessing from the Lord Jesus?
Project: Several Gentiles were blessed along with the Jews in the Old Testament. Who can you name?

A Surprise and a Secret

They climbed up a very high mountain that day. The three men with the Lord Jesus were Peter, James and John. The Lord knew exactly what would happen on that mountaintop, but the three men who followed Him did not know. Jesus had said, “Follow Me” (Luke 9:23), and that was enough for the three men. They knew who had called them, and they followed.
It must have been a long climb that day, and the three men were so tired that they fell asleep after the climb. It was a wonderful surprise on the mountaintop, not like anything they had ever seen before, but they almost missed it. There was Jesus, shining like the sun! His face was bright as sunlight, and his clothing was white as the light. There were two men talking with Jesus — Moses and Elijah. I don’t think that Peter and James and John understood what the two visitors talked about with Jesus, but I do, and if you read Luke 9:31, you will understand too.
Seeing these two Old Testament men of God talking with Jesus was all so wonderful that Peter did not want it to come to an end. He wanted to make three tents of worship — one for Jesus, one for Moses and one for Elijah.
Wasn’t that a good plan? No, not at all! You can’t put Jesus on the same level with anybody else. Jesus is more than a good man; Jesus is truly the eternal Son of God!
A cloud came and overshadowed them. Then a voice came out of the cloud that said, “This is My beloved Son: hear Him” (Luke 9:35). And they fell on their faces and were afraid.
Now they knew it was God who had said those words, but our loving and kind Jesus did not want them to be afraid. He touched them and said, “Arise, and be not afraid” (Matthew 17:7). And there was Jesus alone with them.
Jesus had one more thing to tell them as they climbed down the mountain. He said, Don’t tell anybody what you saw. (Then if it’s a secret, how do we know?) They listened as Jesus added, Until the Son of Man is risen again from the dead.
Peter, James and John did not understand what Jesus told them, because when He was dead, they were totally sad, and when He rose from the dead, they were completely surprised.
But what Jesus had said was the truth. He DID rise from the dead, and then it was time to tell others what they had seen on the mountaintop.
Jesus said, “I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in Me, though he were dead, yet shall he live” (John 11:25).
Think About God’s Word!
1. Who did Peter, James and John see talking with Jesus?
2. Why did Jesus want the secret in this story kept until He had risen from the dead? Not sure? Ask your mom, dad or Sunday school teacher. The answer is worth thinking about.
Project: Mysteries, like secrets, are pretty exciting for almost everyone. But God’s mysteries aren’t meant to be hidden from any of His children today. Pick up a concordance or use a Bible search program and look for the words “mystery” or “mysteries.” How many special secrets that used to be hidden have been shown to Christians since Jesus died and rose again?

A Debt Too Big to Pay

Two for a dollar. This was a good price, but little Hudson did not have a dollar; he only had a few pennies. He could not make the salesman understand that two pennies were better than nothing. So he had to turn away, fighting tears because he didn’t have enough money.
If you are older than Hudson, you may have bigger debts and no money to cover them. The man in today’s story was a servant to a king and had used the king’s money to pay off his own debts. Then one day the king found out what his servant had done. By this time the servant’s debt was huge. How could he ever pay back what he owed to the king? The king ordered that all the servant’s possessions, including the servant himself, his wife and his children, should be sold as slaves to pay off the debt. That meant the servant and his wife and his children would be slaves for the rest of their lives!
There was only one thing the servant could think of to do — take the low place and beg for the king’s patience, saying he would eventually pay back the whole amount to the king.
What do you think of that plan? Do you think a servant with no money could pay back the huge, enormous amount of money that he had stolen and wasted? It was a foolish idea, and the king probably knew this, but he felt sorry for the servant and said, I forgive you. So the servant did not have to pay back the huge debt that he owed the king.
How good and kind of the king to forgive his servant. The king was rich enough to spare that money and to forgive the thief and let him go free.
Do you want a God like that king? Maybe you do, but I need a God who goes far, far beyond such kindness. It was God Himself who saved me by sending His only begotten Son to die for me! Jesus paid my debt with His own blood. And He also gave me a new nature that delights to please Him. What a wonderful gift of love and mercy and forgiveness from God!
Now here’s the rest of the story about the forgiven servant. That servant went out a free man, and then he found one of his fellow-servants who owed him a hundred pennies. He took that fellow-servant by the throat and demanded, Pay me that money!
The fellow-servant fell at his feet and begged him, Have patience with me. I will pay the whole amount I owe you! But the servant said, NO, and sent him to prison till he paid every penny. Now that didn’t make sense at all. How could a man in prison pay anything? It was really very foolish to send the fellow-servant to prison!
Now look at your own life. How are you going to pay the debt of your sins to God? Money will never cover that huge debt! What can you do?
Listen to God’s answer. He is ready to forgive you, because He sent His only Son to take your place — to suffer God’s fair judgment against sin and to shed His precious blood for all who have sinned against Him. Nothing else will cover that debt — nothing!
Some of the other servants were very sorry about the fellow-servant being sent to prison, and they told the king.
Call that servant whom I forgave! ordered the king.
You are a wicked servant! said the king. I forgave your debt because you asked me to. Shouldn’t you have pity on your fellow-servant just as I had pity on you? Then the angry king ordered, Send him to the tormentors till he pays all that was due to me!
No doubt the king’s anger was right and the punishment was right. But my God is greater than that. He loves me and gave His only Son for me, and my debt is fully paid. Shouldn’t I then forgive others for His sake? His Word says, “Be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you” (Ephesians 4:32).
Think About God’s Word!
1. What happened to the forgiven servant who wouldn’t forgive his fellow-servant?
2. Sometimes it is very hard to see the unkindness of others toward us in the proper perspective. We exaggerate their failure and pretend ours isn’t so bad. How did Saul do this in 1 Samuel 15?
Project: What individuals in the Bible had a really hard time forgiving? What were the consequences? You can find at least two of them in the story of the rebellion against King David.

Working for a Penny a Day

The penny in this story was worth more than the little brown penny we use today, because this happened when Caesar was alive, and his picture was on each coin.
This is the story of a man who had a vineyard where he grew lots of grapes. He needed a lot of workers for the job, because grapes don’t grow on trees like apples do. Grapes grow on vines that have to be trained to climb a support. The fields where they grow have to be weeded and the vines have to be pruned and cared for, until big, juicy clusters of grapes hang ready for harvesting. No ladders are needed, just workers.
One morning the owner went to the marketplace and found men looking for a job. A penny a day, he offered them, and the men were glad for a job and agreed to work for a penny a day. It was a common day’s wages at that time.
But one group of workers was not enough. The owner went back to hire another group and found men standing idle and promised them, I will give you what is right. They must have trusted his honesty, because they also went to work. Twice more that day the owner went to hire more workers, and, at last, when the workday was almost over, he found more men standing idle and said to them, Why are you standing all day doing nothing?
They answered, Because nobody has hired us.
Go also into the vineyard, and whatever is right you will receive.
They trusted him, and they also went to work in the vineyard.
Are you like those men? Maybe this is the last time you will hear the voice of God calling you. This may be your last chance to be saved. Will you listen? Will you come? “Incline your ear, and come unto Me: hear, and your soul shall live” (Isaiah 55:3).
Then came sunset, and the owner said to his officer, Call the workers and give them their pay, beginning from the last hired to the first hired.
Do you remember the promise the owner had made to the first group of workers? A penny a day, he had said, and he was a man who kept his promises.
But here was a surprise. Even the last workers hired late in the day received a penny! The first workers saw this, and they held out their hands for more than a penny. But no, they had agreed for a penny, and a penny was what they received. Not fair, they grumbled. These men worked only one hour, and you gave them the same pay as those of us who worked hard all day in the heat!
Friend, said the owner, I do you no wrong. Didn’t you agree with me for a penny? It’s yours. Now take it, and go your way. I will give to the last workers just what I gave to you. Is it not lawful for me to do what I will with my own money? Are your thoughts evil because I am good?
That’s a question for you to think about. If you grumble, remember that God is in control, and it’s God you are grumbling about. He is right in everything He does.
The truth is that, because Jesus died for me, God can pour out His blessing on me when I didn’t deserve it at all. That’s what is called “grace,” and let me tell you that God is the God of all grace. His riches are far more than a penny — they are unsearchable riches! Don’t fight for an extra penny, but rather come, right now, and receive from Him the grace and forgiveness for your sins that only God in His great love for us could think of giving! And it doesn’t matter if you are a big sinner with lots of sins or a little sinner with not so many, His grace and forgiveness are the same for each one who comes to Him.
“In whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace” (Ephesians 1:7).
Think About God’s Word!
1. Why did the first workers grumble after receiving their pennies?
2. How does Philippians 4 encourage us not to grumble but rather to be thankful?
Project: The children of Israel grumbled often in the wilderness. When did they grumble and what were the consequences?

Planting Time

Some of us in North America have had the fun of planting seeds in springtime. However, for some of you, North America is far away, and summer begins for you when snow begins to fall in the north. God made the world that way — round like a ball. He made it like that because that is the best way to preserve life, and He loves His creatures.
Seeds grow the same way all over the world. They need good soil, good rain and lots of patience from the person who plants them. Here is a story that Jesus told about planting seeds.
A man was planting seeds. He must have had lots of them, because he scattered them everywhere. If you think of each seed as a Bible verse, you will understand that God gives us lots of them. We have a whole book full of verses, and we’re scattering them right now. There is food in each one, and we can’t live without food. Will you make sure the Bible verses grow in your heart?
Some of the man’s seeds fell by the wayside. Nobody had dug up this ground, and the seeds didn’t stay there long. The birds gobbled them up before they had a chance to grow or maybe people walked right over the seeds. God says that in this story the birds are like Satan’s messengers. “Forget it,” says Satan, and lots of people do just that. If you forget God’s Word, it’s gone!
Some of the man’s seeds fell on stony ground. Everybody knows you can’t grow food on stones. Where will the roots go? There could be a little moisture, but not enough. Those seeds couldn’t produce food for anybody. Do you listen and remember what you hear from God’s Word? But if your friends don’t like it, then you don’t care about it anymore. God’s Word is too precious to waste.
Some of the man’s seeds fell among thorns. Maybe this was sort of good soil, because weeds grew there, but they were sturdy, thorny weeds. They crowded out those valuable little plants till they came to nothing. There are thorny weeds that are stronger than we are—weeds like worry or big plans that keep our minds full of thoughts so that the Word of God is crowded out. People say, “Oh no, I don’t have time to read the Bible, and I don’t have time to pray!” You have twenty-four hours every day, the same whether you are rich or poor. Don’t let the weeds of worry or ambition or fun crowd out the Word of God in your life.
Some of the man’s seeds fell on good ground. If you have a garden, you understand what good ground is. You must dig and rake, taking out stones and pulling up weeds, and then adding fertilizer and water. Your garden will show if it has prepared ground. The seed is good seed, but does it fall in good ground in your heart?
This is so important that perhaps we should tell you how to prepare the ground. It begins by listening: “He that hath ears to hear, let him hear” (Matthew 11:15). Look at your life and you will see that you really need this message from God. If you see your need to be saved from your sins, God gladly saves. Power belongs to Him. He has done all the work to save you from your sins. He sent His beloved Son: “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners” (1 Timothy 1:15).
God is true to His promises. He will give you power to throw out the stones and dig up the weeds, but the willingness must be yours. Are you willing to let Him save you — right now—today? Are you willing to let Him help you remove the thorny weeds, the stones and the birds? Satan will never stop bothering you, but God is stronger than Satan. He can make that good seed grow into food for yourself and others. Best of all, He will reward you. That’s just what He wants to do.
Think About God’s Word!
1. What different places did the man’s seeds fall?
2. Besides worry, ambition and fun, what are some other weeds that grow in our hearts in a way that chokes out God’s Word?
Project: How is the “ground” of our hearts kept properly cultivated? What does God tell us to do so that His Word has good ground to grow in? What verses can you give that support your answers?

A Miracle for a Blind Man

The man’s name was Bartimeus, and his father’s name was Timeus. Bartimeus was blind, and he spent his life as a beggar. He sat beside the dusty roadway outside of Jericho and hoped people passing by would give him a coin or two. In Bible times, there weren’t jobs for blind people to earn money like there are today. Begging was all Bartimeus could do.
One day as Bartimeus sat beside the road, he heard the shuffle of many feet. A crowd was coming. What was going on? Then he heard someone say it was Jesus of Nazareth coming!
He had heard of the town of Nazareth, but there wasn’t much good to be said about it. Bartimeus didn’t care about the town, but he did care about the man Jesus. He had heard of the miracles that Jesus had done, and now He was coming down the road near where he was sitting!
Bartimeus called out, Jesus, Thou son of David, have mercy on me! The people near him told him to be quiet. But there was real faith in his heart and he knew his need of Jesus. No one could stop him, and he called out to Jesus again: Thou Son of David, have mercy on me!
Do you have a need of Jesus? You probably know that He was born in a stable, grew up and died on a wooden cross. But do you know more than that about Him? Have you ever heard that He loves you? Do you know that He is the Son of God and that He came into this world to save you from your sins? That is why you need Him  ...  to save you from your sins and give you eternal life. You can call out to Him just like Bartimeus did. And He will answer you, just like He answered Bartimeus.
When Jesus heard Bartimeus’s call, He stood still. Then He commanded the people to bring Bartimeus to Himself. The people quickly told Bartimeus, Be of good comfort. Rise! Jesus is calling you! The blind man threw off his coat, got up and quickly went to Him.
What do you want Me to do for you? asked Jesus.
Bartimeus answered, Lord, that I might receive my sight.
Jesus answered at once, Go your way.  ...  Your faith has made you whole. Instantly the wonderful miracle happened; Bartimeus received his sight! And then he followed Jesus.
And Jesus will instantly save you too if you will trust Him. Nothing and nobody else can save you from your sins. This wasn’t just religious faith that saved Bartimeus, and it wasn’t church faith either. It was Jesus, the Saviour of sinners. And He can do the same for you right now, because He died for sinners. “This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners” (1 Timothy 1:15).
Bartimeus didn’t let the opportunity pass to call out to Jesus. Don’t let the opportunity pass to call out to Jesus to save you. You may not have that opportunity again.
Think About God’s Word!
1. What did Bartimeus do when he heard Jesus was coming down the road?
2. How did the blind man in John 9 grow to understand how important the Lord Jesus was to him?
Project: How many people in the New Testament did the Lord Jesus heal? Were there any that came to Him to be healed and returned home still sick?

Will a Penny Be Enough?

In Bible days, one penny was what a man was paid for a whole day’s work. I think it must have had more value than a penny does now. But it looked much the same as the little copper penny you see today, and it had a picture on it too.
Maybe your penny has a picture of Abraham Lincoln. The penny in our story today had a different man’s picture on it, but I won’t tell you whose picture it was. Read the story and see if you can find out.
There were clever men in Jerusalem when Jesus was there. Some of these men, who were called Pharisees, thought they had made a trap that would catch Jesus and get Him into trouble. Among the many miracles Jesus had done, He had fed great crowds of people and had healed everyone who came to Him. And He did these wonderful things without charging anybody or accepting a penny of donation from anyone. Why did they not want Him?
They asked Jesus a trick question, and here is what they asked Him: Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?
Jesus could see right into the hearts of those Pharisees, just as He can see into yours. And He knew they were trying to trick him with the question. His answer was, Show Me a penny. Then He asked them, Whose picture and engraving is on this penny?
They answered, Caesar’s. Everything around them that day was a reminder that Caesar was in control. Caesar is dead now and his country is not in power. But our Jesus is alive in heaven, and the day is coming when the kingdoms of this world will become His kingdoms!
Jesus answered the Pharisees’ question, Give to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.
The Pharisees were silent. They had nothing to say, but they did not change their minds. They had already decided to put Jesus to death.
You and I were not there that day, but Jesus’ words are for us too — today. Give to God the things that are God’s. Remember, God is in control.
We pay our taxes, and that is quite right. Jesus is not asking for your pennies; He wants you yourself. Pennies will still be here after you are dead, but if you belong to Jesus, you are His forever! All the pennies in the world will not pay what you are worth to Him. He loves you so much that He willingly went to Calvary’s cross to die for you.
You may be clever enough to make a trap for someone, but nothing can change the Word of God. John 3:16 says, “God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Is there such a thing as perishing? God says so, and He did not write the word “die” in that verse, because “perish” means far more than dying. It means to suffer eternal punishment after death.
There is only one God who can give you everlasting life, and He is the God who loves you so much that He gave His only Son to die for you. The Pharisees did not want His Son. Do you?
Did you find the answer to the question about whose picture was on the penny they showed to Jesus?
Think About God’s Word!
1. How did Jesus answer the Pharisees’ trick question?
2. Romans 3 mentions something else that stops people from arguing. What is it?
Project: What are some other occasions when the Lord Jesus skillfully closed the mouths of His enemies by His wise answers?

Can Anybody Hear You Think?

“Shhhh, listen  ...  I want to hear you think!” The children all laughed, because nobody can hear you think. That’s one thing you can do all by yourself and nobody knows.
But God knows. He not only knows what you think, but He understands. And more than that, He knows your thoughts before you think them, and that’s more than you know yourself! Psalm 139:2 makes us sure about that: “Thou understandest my thought afar off.” Can Jesus know and understand people’s thoughts too? Yes, because Jesus is God. Here is a story in Luke 5 about that.
There were a great many religious men sitting in the house that day. It was such a big crowd that the doorway was blocked. But if you really want to bring your sick friend to Jesus, you aren’t going to be stopped by a little thing like a crowded doorway. We MUST take this man to Jesus, they said, and if he is too sick to walk, we’ll carry him inside right in his bed!
It took four men to carry the sick man’s bed, one at each corner, but they found the doorway blocked. Now what could they do? Well, let’s try the roof! one of them suggested. So they carried him up the outside stairs, broke open a hole in the roof by removing the roof tiles and then let the bed down by ropes right in front of Jesus!
Now that was a surprise  ...  a surprise to everybody except Jesus. He knew that the sick man’s problem was sin, and He also knows that your problem and mine is the very same — SIN. Boys and girls, don’t let anything stop you from coming to Jesus, because He is the only One who can say what Jesus said that day to the sick man. He told him, Thy sins are forgiven thee (vs. 20).
There were frowns on the faces of those religious people around Jesus, but He knew their thoughts. They were thinking, Who can forgive sins, but God alone? (vs. 21). They were right in thinking that question, but the problem was that they didn’t believe that Jesus is God.
Is that your problem too? If you don’t believe that Jesus is God, your sins are not forgiven. You believe that Jesus is not telling the truth.
Jesus answered what they were thinking, even though they did not say anything out loud to Him. He asked those frowning people, [Which] is easier, to say, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Rise up and walk? (vs. 23). They probably didn’t answer Him, but if you and I really know what Jesus has done for us, we can answer His question.
It was very, very hard for Jesus to say, Thy sins be forgiven thee, because He could never say this if He did not take the punishment for those sins Himself. We can never measure that punishment! It took the three hours of darkness on the cross to put away our sins. Do you know and understand that it required Jesus’ death on Calvary’s cross to say those words to you? The religious people in that house did not know, but you can know, and you can thank Him now and forever for His love that made Him willing to do this for sinners who deserve nothing but hell.
Jesus said to the sick man, Rise up and walk, and there was no question about it. The man stood up, picked up his bed and walked. That was a big change in his life, wasn’t it? The crowd was amazed and glorified God, and being filled with fear they said, We have seen strange things today (vs. 26).
We hope that after reading this story you will say more than what the unbelieving crowd said. Will you believe and confess that Jesus is God and that He died on the cross and took the punishment for your sins?
“If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved” (Romans 10:9).
Think About God’s Word!
1. What did Jesus tell the sick man who was brought to Him through a hole in the roof?
2. Why do we need the Lord Jesus to pay for our sins? Why can’t we just help Him out by doing our little part and letting Him do the rest?
Project: Write a simple gospel tract that clearly explains God’s way of salvation.

The Good Samaritan

It was a downhill road from Jerusalem to Jericho — not a steep slope, but a steady downgrade all the way. We don’t know why that traveler chose to go to Jericho, but if he had known about the thieves along the way, maybe he would have stayed at home. But he didn’t know.
All of us can understand that, because there is so much that we don’t know. We might think, “I can be a little bit bad, but I won’t be very bad. Yes, I know it’s wrong, but I won’t go very far.” Maybe you don’t know that when you are bad, even a little bit, God calls it sin. That makes you a sinner, and a sinner is someone who disobeys God. He says in the Bible, “There is no difference: for all have sinned” (Romans 3:22-23). But even worse, He tells us there can be absolutely no sin in heaven! There is something else you may not know, and it is good news. God loves sinners, and so He sent His very own beloved Son Jesus down to this world to save sinners from their sins. He tells us in Acts 16:31, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved.” Let the Lord Jesus save you right now, before you read any farther!
Now let’s see what happened to the traveler on the road to Jericho. The Bible tells us he met a band of thieves who took everything he had, even his clothes! And if that wasn’t bad enough, they wounded him and left him half dead. At least they didn’t kill him.
The poor, wounded traveler certainly needed help. The first man who came by was a priest. It was the priest’s business to decide if a person needed the kind of help he could offer, but this poor man was beyond the services of a priest. The priest couldn’t do anything but pass by on the other side.
Then a Levite came by. The duty of a Levite was to teach the people the right thing to do, but this poor wounded man couldn’t do anything. What good was a teacher who just looked and passed by on the other side?
Then a third person came by, and the wounded traveler would be able to tell that he was not walking but riding, for he would be able to hear the animal’s clip-clops. Would this man be able to help him? This man was a Samaritan, and the Jews didn’t like the Samaritans. But this man came close and touched the wounded traveler. The Samaritan poured good wine into his mouth and poured oil into his wounds. This made the wounded traveler feel much better. But he still couldn’t walk, so the Samaritan put him on his own donkey. This meant the Samaritan had to walk, and maybe he had to hold up the wounded man too.
They went to an inn, and the innkeeper took care of the wounded man until he was well. Did he do it for nothing? Oh, no. The good Samaritan paid the innkeeper for his services and promised him more money for any extra expense, until he would come again!
Our Jesus has promised to come again. He will do better than this story, for our Jesus is not far away from you even right now. He is near you to help and comfort you until He comes again. Many people did not like the Samaritans, but I’m sure the poor traveler had many good words to say for his rescuer. Do you have a good word to say for Jesus? If He has rescued you from your sins, He is your “good Samaritan.” And He is loving you and caring for you all the way home to His Father’s house in heaven. You should have many good words to say for Him! “Blessed be the Lord, who daily loadeth us with benefits, even the God of our salvation” (Psalm 68:19).
It was Jesus Himself who died and shed His blood that you might live. Thank Him with all your heart right now, and tell others what He has done for you.
Think About God’s Word!
1. Who was it that helped the wounded traveler?
2. Why did the Lord Jesus help people who despised Him?
Project: How many different ways can you give that the “good Samaritan” was like the Lord Jesus?

The Story of a Fig Tree

I have never seen figs growing on a tree, though I have often seen a fig tree in a big public space like a shopping mall. Have you?
Fig trees in Bible times had leaves like a maple tree but much bigger. In fact, when Adam and Eve wanted to cover themselves so that God would not see them, they sewed fig leaves together and made aprons. Most of you know the rest of their story, and you know whether their fig-leaf aprons worked out.
In today’s story, there was a fig tree planted in a field of grape vines. That’s a funny place to plant a fig tree with its big shady leaves, but that’s where it was, and I think the man who took care of the field really liked it. But, after all, it was not his to decide one way or the other about the tree. He was the caretaker of the field for the owner.
Do you have a field too? Maybe you do, even if it’s only a space to run around in or maybe play a game of ball or maybe have a vegetable garden. Is it yours? Psalm 24:1 says, “The earth is the Lord’s, and the fullness thereof.”
Does God really own the world? Yes. You mean the whole world? Yes, it’s all His. Even if it’s in a mess? God didn’t make it a mess. He made it very good, and it still belongs to Him even if we have made it a mess.
One day the owner of the fig tree came looking for juicy, ripe figs, when it was time for the figs to be ripe. Do you know how many figs he found? None at all  ...  not even one!
Oh well, maybe the tree needs to grow more. But the second year was the same, and the third year too. About then the owner thought, What’s the use? No figs  ...  not even one. Cut it down, he said. It’s just taking up valuable space.
Now this is scary. God has a lesson in this story of the fig tree that applies to you and me. We live in God’s world, and we know that planet Earth is somewhere in space and that God is the owner. Has He really said, “Destroy it”? Yes, He has, and He has promised it will happen. Read 2 Peter 3:10 and see.
But the fig tree in our story had a caretaker, and the caretaker told the owner that he had a plan for the tree. And our Jesus had a plan too. In fact, it was God’s plan, and God and Jesus His Son followed through with the plan with complete togetherness.
This was their plan: Jesus the Saviour gave His life for us. We are sinners and deserve to be totally destroyed, Earth included, but Jesus our Saviour has died to redeem us. And now God is waiting  ...  waiting  ...  will you come to Him now? Will you be the fruit that God is waiting for in a world that does not want Him? “Our Saviour Jesus Christ; who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from all iniquity [sin]” (Titus 2:13-14).
The caretaker’s plan for the fig tree was to wait another year. I will dig up the soil and add fertilizer, and we’ll see if it bears fruit next year. And so God is waiting. He has not yet destroyed the world we live in, but He has promised that it will happen! While He waits, He is busy and the Caretaker is busy. Jesus sends troubles to wake up sinners, which is like digging up the soil. And He sends blessings and invitations like the one you are receiving right now, which is like the good of the fertilizer.
The story does not tell us what happened to the fig tree, perhaps because God wants you to give Him your answer right now. We can see that the world is saying “No” to God’s ownership, but He is waiting for your answer. You are one person, and He loves and cares about you. Are you one of the fruits of His harvest? God Himself wants you. Will you come?
Think About God’s Word!
1. Why did the owner want to cut down the fig tree?
2. We know that the world will be destroyed someday. How does that change our priorities today?
Project: How many places in God’s Word can you find a promise that the Lord will bring judgment? Hint: Start your search in 2 Peter 3.

She Couldn’t Stand up Straight

Most of you boys and girls can stand up straight and tall, but this poor lady in our Bible story couldn’t. She had a serious problem with her back, and she had not been able to stand up straight for eighteen years. That was a long time to be bent over!
If you had seen her, you would have said, “Poor lady!” She could not look up as you and I do and see the sky and the tops of the trees and the birds flying. All she could see was the ground in front of her feet. Maybe nobody wanted to be bothered with her, but I’ll tell you a secret, or maybe two secrets. If you had seen her that day, there were two secrets that did not show at all.
You probably have secrets like that too. If I looked at you, I might see how you look today, but God sees all your yesterdays. He sees things you have forgotten and things you can’t forget. And He knows all your tomorrows too. He loves you right now, and He cares a lot about you.
The first secret is that this poor lady was in that bent-over position for all those long years because Satan, the evil one, had done this to her. Her back must have ached and hurt a lot, but there was nothing she could do about it. She could not straighten herself up.
The other secret is that this lady was a daughter of Abraham. Maybe you remember hearing about Abraham and Sarah, that when they were very, very old God promised them they would have a son. Instead of saying, No! We are too old, Abraham believed God. That’s what faith is — believing God when He speaks, even if it seems impossible. That’s why many of us are sure we are going to be with Jesus someday. God has given us the faith to believe Him, even if it means that we will have to come right out of our graves when He calls us home!
Jesus saw this bent-over lady and called to her and put His hands on her and said, Woman, you are loosed from your disability, and she immediately stood up straight! You may be sure the first person she saw was Jesus! She was standing up straight, and everybody could see that!
Her back was as good as new for the first time in eighteen years, and she glorified God. But wasn’t it Jesus who healed her? Yes, but Jesus is God.
Now you might think that everybody would be glad that she was healed, but not all of them were. The ruler of the synagogue was angry because Jesus had healed on the sabbath day. The ruler said, Come some other day of the week and not on the sabbath day! You see, God said that the sabbath was to be a holy day, but the ruler did not know the heart of God. He did not know that God cares enough to heal, whatever day it is. And He cares enough to save you from your sins right now, whatever day it is.
Jesus reminded the ruler that if he had a donkey or an ox tied up, he would certainly untie it and lead it somewhere to drink water, no matter what day it was. Any man cares for his farm animals, and maybe you care for your dog, but Jesus cares even more for you. He cares so much that He gave His precious life for you. Will you trust Him right now, without waiting for another day? Jesus wants you now, and He is the only One who can loose you from Satan’s power. “I will trust and not be afraid” (Isaiah 12:2).
Think About God’s Word!
1. Why was the ruler of the synagogue angry when the woman was healed?
2. What does it mean that Satan has someone bound? Why do people who don’t know Christ as their Saviour think they are free to do what they want?
Project: Luke 8 has a very interesting story about someone else who was bound. How is it similar to this story? What are some differences?

The Tower

Frankie was about three years old when he built a tower out of wooden building blocks. He got about five blocks stacked up, but then the whole thing tumbled down. He laughed and tried again.
But Frank is a man now, and if he is a good builder he will start building a tower with plans. Some towers reach very, very high into the sky. He will need helpers to study the bedrock underground and decide what the depth of the foundation should be. He’ll also need to decide on the number and strength of the steel beams to be used, as well as everything else that will be needed. It will take lots of planning.
And there is one more thing that Frank needs to figure out. How much will it cost to build this tower, and does he have enough money to pay for it? There is no use in being right about the details if you can’t pay the bill.
Most of us agree that heaven is up in the sky someplace. The disciples saw Jesus go up to heaven after His resurrection, until a cloud received Him out of their sight. It was far better than a tower; it was God’s power! And the disciples definitely wanted to go to heaven too, but they couldn’t build a tower to reach heaven or pay for it.
Maybe you would like to go to heaven too, but do you have enough money to pay your way? If you want to travel anywhere, you can’t go even halfway without money. And what good is halfway? You don’t want to be dropped in the middle of the ocean!
There’s a story in the Bible about a man who didn’t figure out everything first. He just set to work to build a tower and figured that it would all work out somehow. But it didn’t!
If you want to reach heaven where Jesus is, the whole price must be paid before you go. Here is the good news. Just before the Lord Jesus died on the cross, He said, “It is finished” (John 19:30). No one else but Jesus could have taken our load of sins on Himself and paid for them. No one else could have suffered as He did from the hand of a holy God and then shout, “It is finished”!
Here’s something else to think about. Do you have your ticket to heaven? It is offered as a gift, so you don’t have to pay for it, because Jesus already paid for it on the cross. “The wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 6:23). All you have to do to receive this very special gift is to tell Him that you know you are a sinner and accept His wonderful gift of eternal life with thankfulness. You don’t need to build a tower to reach heaven. Jesus is the way, and He has the power to take you there.
The builder in our Bible story got half finished building his tower when he ran out of money. All he had was a half-finished tower. There was no hiding his foolish mistake. Maybe he was really a smart man, but he didn’t stop to think that he would need lots of money to build and finish a tower.
Are you like that too? Have you really thought about what it takes to reach heaven? I don’t mean money, because you can’t buy your way to heaven with dollars. What I mean is, Are your sins washed away, since not one sin can enter God’s heaven?
Lots of people passed by that unfinished tower, and they laughed at the foolish builder. They said, This man began to build a tower and was not able to finish! He may have been a rich man at the beginning, but he had nothing now except a half-finished tower. What a wasted life!
Are you building your life without Christ? You may be successful right up until quitting time, and then find that you have missed heaven after all. The Lord Jesus is the only One who can pay your way to heaven. “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).
Think About God’s Word!
1. Why couldn’t the man finish the tower he was building?
2. How is John 6:66 related to this story?
Project: The Lord Jesus always finishes everything He starts. How many different places in Scripture can you find that show this? Start your search in Philippians 1.

The Rich Man and the Beggar

Not everybody could afford to buy a purple suit, but this rich man wore purple, because everybody knew that it was the most expensive color you could buy. And his meals were extra good too, not just for a treat now and then, but every day. And even though he spent lots of money on clothes and food, he still had lots of money left for whatever he wanted. He was a very rich man.
His house had a gate, perhaps because he wanted to be sure that thieves didn’t get in. Outside his gate were stray dogs running loose on the street. And there was one more thing outside his gate; you’ll never guess what it was. It was a beggar.
The beggar’s name was Lazarus, and he lay there often. The dogs came and licked his sores. He probably was very thin, and when dinnertime came, all he could do was wish for something — anything — to eat.
Lazarus died, and the angels carried him up to Abraham’s arms in heaven. He was no stranger there, because he knew all about Abraham. Do you know about him? Abraham was an old man when God promised that he and Sarah would have a son, and Sarah was very old too. But Abraham believed God.
Do you believe God? Do you know that He has a promise for you if you will believe Him? He has promised forgiveness for your sins through the precious blood of Christ. Even though you have never seen Jesus, will you just simply believe this because God says so? Abraham did. And the beggar felt at home in the arms of Abraham because he believed God too.
The rich man also died and was buried, probably with an expensive funeral. But after he died, he wasn’t rich anymore; all his riches were left behind. He went into eternity with nothing.
The Bible tells us that the rich man was very unhappy where he was; in fact, he was in torment. God allowed him to see the beggar Lazarus in heaven in Abraham’s arms, and oh, how the rich man begged for a drop of water, just one drop! He cried, Father Abraham, have mercy on me. Send Lazarus to bring me a drop of water to cool my tongue. I am tormented in this flame!
But Abraham said, No. You had good things in your lifetime and he only had troubles. Now he is comforted and you are tormented.
You see, both men had gone beyond this life, and now there was a great separation between them — one was in heaven and one was in hell — and by the law of God, this separation would be forever. Nobody — nobody — can ever cross over. No boats or planes or anything else can cross that separation.
But you are alive, and that separation is not yet settled for you. Jesus is willing to save you today, and after that He will give you the power to live for Him.
After his death, the rich man pleaded that his five brothers should be told about the awfulness of the torment of hell, but it was too late. If they don’t believe God’s Word now, they won’t believe even if someone comes back from the dead to tell them.
Did someone rise from the dead? YES! Jesus rose, and it is Jesus Himself who invites you to trust Him now. He never told a lie. His home in heaven is ready for all sinners who believe, and the door is still open!
That great, endless separation between believers and unbelievers is as real as Jesus said it is, and there is no changing it after death. Will you make your decision right now?
“The wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 6:23).
Think About God’s Word!
1. Where did Lazarus go after he died?
2. Was Lazarus accepted into heaven just because he was poor?
Project: What does this story tell us that hell is like? What other details does Scripture give us about hell?

What Happened at the Jordan River

The Jordan River rippled along as usual that day, carrying the clear snow-water of Mount Hermon right down to the dark, heavy waters of the Dead Sea.
But it was not an ordinary day. There was a crowd by the riverside that had come to be baptized with the baptism of repentance. They were sinners, and they knew that baptism was the right thing to do. It was turning in the right direction. Every one of us is a sinner before God, and if you are not ready to face up to this, then you can only turn away with your sins. That’s a very serious choice.
It was John who baptized the people in the Jordan River. He was not a man who wore fancy robes, but he knew something that the people did not know. It’s no secret now, but it was then. Even John knew only part of the secret. This is what he knew: There was a Man standing there who would baptize them with the Holy Spirit and with fire. And this special Man was younger than John and mightier in power and glory. John said that he was not fit to stoop down and unfasten this Man’s sandals! Who could this Man be? Do you know?
This was a puzzle even to John. In all that crowd, how could he know which was the right Man? God told John the answer, and he listened and remembered: “Upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending, and remaining on Him, the same is He which baptizeth with the Holy Ghost” (John 1:33). John had been wondering and watching for this promised sign to come true.
Maybe you too are wondering, Who is Jesus? Where can I find Him? John didn’t look here and there for this powerful Man, but he remembered what God had said, and yes, he found what God had told him was true. He found Jesus. Will you do the same? God’s Word, the Bible, will point Him out to you.
Jesus came to be baptized too. The people all confessed their sins, but Jesus had no sins to confess. Jesus went under the water as the others did, but God was ready to mark Him out so that no one would mistake who He was. A clear voice from heaven said, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:17). John looked, and do you know what he saw? The Spirit of God came down in the form of a dove and rested upon Jesus.
John knew for sure it was Jesus, and you can know for sure too. Later on when John saw Jesus coming to him, he said, “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world” (John 1:29).
That is a huge thing, to take away the sin of the world, isn’t it? Sin is a root that goes down so deep that no country can get rid of it, but someday God will! It is God’s Lamb who died for the sin of the world who will remove the whole root from God’s creation.
Jesus had not died on the cross when John saw Him, but He was God’s Lamb — perfect and holy and ready to be offered as the only sacrifice for sin that God could accept. People wondered about John, but he would not take any honor for himself. It was Jesus that God wanted everybody to see — Jesus, God’s holy Lamb, who would die to take away the sins of any boy or girl, man or woman, who would believe in Him and accept Him as Saviour.
We know that sin is spoiling the world now. God knows it too. He has promised to take away the sin of the world, leaving no sin at all in His new creation. He has told us that this world as it is now will be destroyed by fire.
The voice from heaven, the pure white dove, and the Lord’s holy life were marks that pointed to Jesus, and Jesus only. If you had been one of the crowd by the river that day, would you have found Jesus? He is the only Saviour of sinners. Is He your Saviour? No one can save you but Jesus. There’s no other way but His way! “The Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world” (1 John 4:14).
Think About God’s Word!
1. What did the voice from heaven say when Jesus was baptized?
2. Was there ever a pure white dove that descended on anyone else? Why or why not?
Project: What is the dove a symbol of? How is it different from a raven?

A Miracle at a Wedding

Who should be included on the guest list? That’s a question for every wedding and for children’s parties too. Get out the paper and pencil, and we’ll make a list of whom we will invite.
The Bible has a wedding story, and, of course, there was a guest list. Do you know whose name was first on the list? Jesus! And His disciples were invited too. Mary, Jesus’ mother, was there already. Maybe she was a helper.
If you have a party, you can’t have Jesus on your guest list, because He has gone back to heaven. But He has left us one thing. Can you guess what it is?
A picture of Himself? A statue to worship? A big stone church?
Oh, no! He has left us a wonderful book. Do you know what it is called? You are right if you said, “The Bible.” Sometimes this book is loved, and sometimes it is hated more than any other book on earth. Do you have a Bible of your very own? Do you read it? They ran out of wine at the wedding. Mary said to Jesus, They have no wine to drink. It’s hard to have a wedding party without anything to drink. They had six big, stone waterpots, really big ones, but it seems they were empty too. Jesus told Mary that His time was not yet come.
You and I can understand that too, because when we ask Jesus for a treat, sometimes He doesn’t answer us right away. That’s because it’s not His time, and His time is always perfect. It’s good just to trust Him and wait.
Mary said to the servants, Whatever He says to you, do it!
Jesus spoke to the servants and said, Fill the waterpots with water. That was not easy to do, because you remember they were big, stone pots. But they obeyed Jesus with no complaints. They filled them up to the brim!
Then Jesus said, Draw some out and take it to the man in charge of the feast. Water? Just water? Jesus had never done any miracles before, so they had nothing to remember. They did exactly what Jesus said, and they brought some to the feast-master. But what he drank wasn’t water — it was wine! Those waterpots weren’t full of water now; they were full of wine!
The feast-master didn’t know anything about where the wine came from, but the servants knew. He was an important man, but those servants knew something he didn’t know. They knew Jesus and that He had turned the water into wine — a miracle!
Do you know Jesus? He will not turn water into wine for you, but He will wash away your sins if you ask Him. He can do that because He suffered on the cross for those very sins. Maybe you think you don’t need Him. Do you know where those sins will take you? They will take you to hell! But right now, because He loves you, Jesus offers forgiveness through His precious blood. “Be it known unto you therefore, men and brethren, that through this man [Jesus] is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins” (Acts 13:38). Forgiveness for your sins is far more wonderful than turning water into wine!
The feast-master called the bridegroom because he wondered why he had kept the good wine until last. The Bible doesn’t say it was better or best, but GOOD! There’s nothing to be compared with the good that Jesus gives. It’s not better; it’s good! There is nothing in all the world’s joys to be compared to the joy that’s found in Jesus. His wonderful love will never end!
Maybe if you grow old you won’t be able to run and jump as you do now. But the good joy that Jesus gives will still be there in big supply, and it won’t end if Jesus calls you to heaven. Heaven is a place full of joy, because Jesus is there.
Think About God’s Word!
1. How did Jesus provide for the wedding party with no wine?
2. In this story Mary gave the servants a wonderful instruction. What was it?
Project: What is wine a symbol of in God’s Word? Maybe if you ask a mature Christian, they could help you with this question.

Breakfast by the Sea

Some of us may find that fishing is fun, but for these seven men it had been a business. They were fishermen by trade. When Peter said, I’m going fishing, they all answered, We are going with you.
Years had passed since these seven disciples of Jesus had dropped their fishing nets into the sea, but they quickly remembered how to do it. They remembered that it was easier to get a good catch of fish at night. However, in the morning their nets were empty.
Why weren’t they able to catch even one fish by morning? Because Jesus was not with them. And if Jesus is not with you, you have an emptiness too. You can try doubly hard, but you can’t fill that empty place with anything you can do. The wonderful truth is that Jesus Himself is the only One who can fill that empty place in your life, and He is ready to be your Saviour right now.
The seven fishermen worked hard all night in the dark and hoped for a good catch, but in all those hours, nothing came into their net  ...  not even one fish. That meant they had no fish to sell and they had nothing for breakfast. What a big disappointment!
But Jesus was not far away. When morning came, He stood on the shore and called to them, Children, have you caught any meat [fish]? And they had to answer, No.
Jesus said to them, Cast the net on the right side of the ship and you will catch some. And they did catch fish  ...  their net was full!
This same Jesus calls to you wherever you are right now. Will you be as quick to obey Him as those disciples were? Jesus has all power, and He is quick to answer. He does not promise you fish with fins and scales, but He promises eternal life. However, those seven fishermen had to obey before they got His answer. And do you know what you have to do? Read John 3:16 and see! Read Acts 16:31 and see! Have you obeyed what Jesus has told you to do? If so, He has filled that empty place in your life  ...  your net is full!
Peter did not know who was talking to them on the shore. John told him, It is the Lord! When Peter heard that, he put on his coat and jumped into the water. He thought it was the fastest way to get to Jesus. We don’t know if he waded in or swam into shore, but he wanted to be with Him.
The disciples had a huge catch of fish, and they dragged the full net to shore and counted them. There were 153 fish  ...  plenty to sell and plenty to eat!
But what were fish compared with having Jesus with them? He was the risen Saviour who had already died and was buried and rose again the third day. It was those same hands with the nail wounds that already had prepared a fire of hot coals on the shore, with fish already cooking, and He had bread for them too. The fish they had caught in their net were good, but perhaps Jesus was showing them that He could provide for them. His way is perfect. We should never, never doubt Him.
John calls himself “the disciple whom Jesus loved” (John 21:20). But he doesn’t say, “He loves me best.” Maybe for a while Peter had forgotten that Jesus loved him, but the Saviour’s love was just as real for Peter, and it is real for you too. It was Paul who said, “The Son of God, who loved me, and gave Himself for me” (Galatians 2:20), and he also called himself the chief of sinners. Our sin doesn’t turn away Jesus’ love for us.
How much does God love us? He loves us so much that He gave His only begotten Son to die for us. That’s a lot of love! If you come to Jesus because you need Him — because there is no one else to save sinners and because you believe His promise — then you’ll find that He loves YOU, just as truly as He loved John.
Think About God’s Word!
1. Why couldn’t the seven fishermen catch any fish?
2. How many of the 153 fish did the Lord Jesus need to feed the fishermen? What does this tell us about how He cares for us?
Project: The Lord did other miracles with fish. Which ones can you name and what lessons do they teach?

The Man on the Roof (Part 1)

Peter lived in a country that had no snow, and so the rooftops were flat. People could easily go up to the rooftop for a little quietness and fresh air.
Peter went up to the housetop to pray, not a quick prayer at bedtime, but really a time for seeking God’s will for the day. Then he felt very hungry, and while they were cooking a meal for him, he fell asleep, and in his sleep he had a vision.
Are you wondering what a vision is? It’s something like a dream but far more real. Now God speaks to us from the Bible, and it is complete. God has nothing more to write. If we want to know His will, the Holy Spirit will bring the Word of God to us, as we are ready to hear it.
Did you notice that Peter’s food was not ready? Maybe that is a reminder to us that in Peter’s time the Word of God was not complete. So God spoke to His people in different ways when they were hungry to know His will. Today you and I have the complete Bible to turn to, to learn what God wants to tell us.
Peter saw the vision of a great sheet, let down from heaven by the four corners. In that sheet he saw all kinds of animals, creeping things and birds. Then a Voice said to him, “Rise, Peter; kill, and eat” (Acts 10:13).
Something inside of Peter shuddered at the sight of this kind of food. God had told His people long ago that they must not eat anything unclean. So how could a Jewish man eat these unclean creatures? Peter answered, “Not so, Lord; for I have never eaten anything that is common or unclean” (Acts 10:14). But how can you say “No” when the Lord speaks?
Peter was right in what God had commanded the Jewish people earlier, but since Christ had come and died for us, no man or animal was to be treated as unclean. The Lord Jesus said, “God so loved the world” (John 3:16), and that includes every nation, every sinner, and every person who believes in that precious Saviour of sinners. That means you too, no matter where you were born or what color your skin is.
God knew Peter’s problem, and He repeated the vision three times so Peter would understand. But he was still puzzled. It was so opposite to the religion God had given His people long ago.
Suddenly, Peter’s thoughts were interrupted by three visitors asking for him. I don’t think Peter heard their knock on the door, but God told him they were there and added, “Go with them.  ...  I have sent them” (Acts 10:20).
There was no doubt now who had sent the visitors, even though they were Romans and not Jews. Peter and a few others walked with them until they reached the home of Cornelius, a Roman centurion.
Now God had already spoken to Cornelius. He had sent an angel to tell him to bring Peter, and so there was a group gathered in his house all ready to hear what God had to tell them. Here they were, and Cornelius’s heart overflowed with joy! Can you guess what he did? Maybe you’ll be surprised. The answer is in the next story.
Think About God’s Word!
1. What did Peter see in his vision?
2. God doesn’t play favorites. How does 1 Timothy 2:3-4 show that this is true?
Project: The Book of Acts shows how energetically the gospel was preached throughout the world. How many different examples can you find of the gospel being preached to different groups of people?

The Man on the Roof (Part 2)

Peter got a wonderful welcome in Cornelius’s home, and everyone was eager to hear the message God had given Peter. In fact, Cornelius was so delighted that he knelt down at Peter’s feet to worship him! Peter immediately told him, Stand up! I also am a man!
Perhaps you need to learn that lesson too. Our message for you is important if it comes from God, and it would be wise for you to look in your Bible to see if our message is true. Don’t worship the messenger, no matter who the messenger is or what clothes he wears.
Should we worship Jesus? Yes indeed! Jesus said, “He that hath seen Me hath seen the Father” (John 14:9). Anyone who does not honor Jesus does not honor God the Father who sent Him.
Cornelius said to Peter, We are here to listen to everything that God commanded you.
Here was Peter, who was Jewish, looking at that roomful of Romans, who were Gentiles, and the first thing he told them was, God is no respecter of persons. This was something Peter had just learned when God had given him the vision of a great sheet let down from heaven with all kinds of animals, birds and creeping things in it. God had told him, “Rise, Peter; kill, and eat”!
Peter had said, Not so, Lord, but the Lord had not made a mistake. Up until then the Jewish people could only eat what God called “clean animals,” but the Gentiles ate all those creatures in that great sheet. Now the Jews and Gentiles could eat the same thing.
God is no respecter of persons. Are you Jewish? Are you Gentile? Are you little or big? Are you black or white? Are you from the east or from the west? God has no favorites. Jesus said, “I am the door” (John 10:9), and He has no other door for sinners to enter heaven no matter who you are. This was hard for Peter to learn, and maybe it is hard for you to learn too.
Peter told them that God had commanded him to preach the peace of Jesus Christ who is Lord of all. Jesus, raised from the dead, is ordained by God to be Judge of the living and the dead, and through His name, whoever (Jew or Gentile) believes in Him will receive forgiveness of sins.
This was astounding news to the Romans who were listening that day, and they believed it. This Jesus, whom the Romans had crucified, was the Judge of the living and the dead! This did not frighten them because the Judge Himself was their Saviour.
And then the Holy Spirit came from heaven to live within them. They praised the God who had saved them. Peter saw no reason why they should not be baptized, and he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord.
He stayed a few days, but nobody was worshipping Peter. They were a happy group of believers, with the power of the Holy Spirit within them. They understood that this was all really God’s plan and not Peter’s. Peter was only the messenger.
Think About God’s Word!
1. What did Peter say when Cornelius knelt down to worship him?
2. We feel pretty special when others give us a lot of praise. It’s pretty tempting to get rather full of ourselves. Philippians 2:5-13 was written for situations like this. What instruction does it give to Christians?
Project: In Acts 14 and Revelation 19 there are other incidents where men fell down to worship those that weren’t God. What happened in these cases? What happened in Luke 17 when someone fell down at Jesus’ feet to thank Him? What was the difference on this occasion?

Where Is Peter?

King Herod knew everything — at least he thought he did. Peter was preaching to the people about Jesus and that He was alive, and it made King Herod angry! Everybody knew that Jesus had been crucified and had died on that agonizing cross. And they all knew that He had been buried in a cave, and a huge stone had been rolled over the entrance to the cave. The stone had been sealed, and Roman sol­diers stood on guard to make sure no one stole the body of Jesus. So how could Jesus possibly be alive?
But He IS alive! Peter was absolutely sure of this, and what he was preaching made King Herod so an­gry he said, Arrest that man! And Peter was arrested and put in prison, with far more guards than an ordi­nary prisoner. There were sixteen soldiers, four at a time, appointed to guard him. And they put big, rat­tling chains on his wrists, along with three locked doors between him and freedom.
But the next morning Peter was gone! Sandals, coat — everything was gone — except his chains. If the king was angry before, he was furious now. Somebody must be to blame for Peter’s escape! Somebody must pay for this!
King Herod was up against the power of God, and no amount of rage was going to change God’s plan. Perhaps you feel angry too when people tell you that you can’t do wrong and get away with it. It is impossible! God says twice, “The soul that sinneth, it shall die” (Ezekiel 18:4; 18:20). But the good news is that this same Jesus who died and rose again from the dead is ready to save you right now. He died to save sin­ners like you and me. He wants you! Will you come to Him right now?
King Herod ordered that all those soldiers should be executed! They must be to blame for letting Peter es­cape, and King Herod was going to show his power.
God has power too, but He does not show His power like that. He made the earth and all that is in it by His mighty power. What then could He do to you since you have dis­obeyed Him? Here is the greatest wonder in the whole world’s history: “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners” (1 Timothy 1:15). He could not save sinners unless He took those sins upon Himself and paid for them. And that is what He did in those three hours of darkness on the cross. The work is finished! And His payment is big enough for your sins too.
Will you say “No” to this offer? Will you refuse the Saviour who died for sin­ners? If so, then you must bear the pun­ishment for your sins forever, and nobody could say that God does not care. God proved that He cared when He laid all the sins of every believer on His Son and punished Him instead. If you refuse the Saviour of sinners, then you must spend eternity without God, with­out love and without light.
King Herod was eaten by worms after that, and he died an awful death. God has not forgotten, and King Herod will pay for his own sins.
But I have not told you where Peter went after he left the prison. Herod did not know, but I know, because I read the story. Would you like to know? Then get a Bible and read the story yourself. It is too wonderful to miss!
Think About God’s Word!
1. What did King Herod do to Peter when he heard that Peter was preaching to people about Jesus?
2. King Herod abused his power because he got angry. God has far more power than Herod ever dreamt of having, but His ways are completely different. How does 2 Peter 3:9 show this?
Project: What other rulers got angry and tried to take out their rage on others? Hint: You can find two of the many by reading in Esther 3 and Daniel 2.

A Visit to Philippi

There was a day when the Apostle Paul and his fellow-traveler Silas visited Philippi. They heard about a prayer meeting down by the riverside, and you may be sure that’s where they went. There were no cushions or comfortable chairs, just dirt and pebbles on the ground to kneel on for people who really wanted to pray to the God of heaven. A Christian lady by the name of Lydia was also there.
Paul knew a lot more about Scripture than the people of Philippi did, but this was not for showing off but for sharing. God opened Lydia’s heart to invite Paul and Silas to come and stay at her house, even though she knew that Paul was not a popular person in town.
Paul and Silas went out the next day, and behind them followed a young slave girl who was very good at telling fortunes. She was so good that she made lots of money for her masters. She followed Paul and Silas, shouting, These men are servants of the most high God. They show us the way of salva­tion! For many days Paul listened to the slave girl re­peating this, but he soon saw that it came straight from the devil. No, he would not have the devil’s help in the message from God! He turned and cast out the slave girl’s evil spirit by the power of God that is stronger than Satan.
It was wonderful relief for the poor girl! The power of Satan was broken in her life, but her masters also got no more money since she no longer had the evil spirit that could tell fortunes. Her masters were fu­rious, and they knew how to stir up trouble for Paul and Silas. They dragged the two men to the marketplace and called the town’s officials to punish these intruders who they said were teaching unlawful things against the Romans.
Were they really teaching unlawful things? No. But we don’t read that Paul and Silas said a word in their own defense.
The officials gave orders to beat their bare backs, and this was not a little beating. Paul knew the beating was not fair, and he also knew that if he said, I’m a Roman, they would stop their beating right away. But still Paul didn’t say anything. God was their defender, and they left the mat­ter with Him.
After the beating, the jailer chose a horrible dungeon for them and locked their feet in stocks. Then he went to sleep. Why not? He didn’t care about them.
But these prisoners were different. They prayed in prison and then they sang praises! The other prisoners heard them, but the jailer slept on.
Now here’s something to remember: God knows what to do! He sent an earth­quake, a very special earthquake that threw open the prison doors and loos­ened every prisoner’s chains and stocks. It woke the jailer so that he jumped out of bed terrified!
One look at the open prison doors and he said, They’re all gone! The officials will kill me for letting them go, so I’ll take my sword and kill myself! But don’t forget, God cared for that jailer, and Paul and Silas cared too.
Don’t kill yourself! cried Paul from the prison. We are all here!
It was midnight, and the jailer called for a light. He ran into the prison and came trembling and fell down before Paul and Silas and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved?
What did he mean? Not saved from the officials, because he thought using his own sword was the answer to that. Here was a power he did not understand. Saved from what? From the power of God against him. Do you feel this too? The power of God is against you and your sins, and you cannot escape by tak­ing your own life. There is only one way of escape, and here it is: “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved” (Acts 16:31). The jailer believed, and he was saved from the power of God against his sins.
He brought the two prisoners home, washed their beaten backs, fed them, and was baptized, he and all his household, believing in God and rejoic­ing. What a night — and what a happy family!
Think About God’s Word!
1. How were Paul and Silas different from other prisoners?
2. It is impossible for our flesh to “rejoice” when we are in really bad circumstances. What did Paul say in a letter to the people in Philippi (Philippians 4:4)?
Project: Our words are a lot easier for others to “hear” when we live consistently with what we say we believe. How did Joseph do that in Genesis 39? Show Bible verses that present other men and women living consistently with what they said they believed.

What Is Heaven Like?

Maybe you have wondered what heaven is really like. “I want to go there, because I don’t want to go to the other place,” one boy said to me.
A girl said, “No, I don’t want to go there because they sing all the time, and I’d be bored!”
“I don’t want heaven; I just want to be gone to nothing,” said another.
I’m afraid those children have never read the Bible. The only One who knows the answer to our question has written a book for you — the Bible. Surely the Lord Jesus knows what heaven is like. He has lived there since farther back than our minds can go, and after He rose from the dead, He went back to heaven. But since He went back, He has a real body with nail wounds in His hands. He didn’t have those before. So with the Lord Jesus in heaven, it is a wonderful place of happiness! He is also called the Lamb of God.
Have you read the Book of Revelation? It will tell you what is NOT found in heaven — no tears, no sorrow and no pain. But how can God tell you what His home is really like? You may read about the street of gold, and we know gold is valuable and beautiful. You might read about the wounded Lamb with seven horns and seven eyes, and that sounds a little scary.
Let me tell you a secret. These pictures God gives us are symbols, like a beaver or a star or a bear with a hat on. God wants to tell us something, and instead of saying, “I can’t understand,” let’s listen and learn God’s secret symbols.
In Revelation 5, we have three groups praising the Lord in heaven. The first group is twenty-four elders. Elders are people, and it’s easy to count to twenty-four. There were beasts too, and I can’t imagine what they looked like, but they show the character of God. You’ll find them described in Revelation 4:7.
The elders had seats, and there was not one empty seat. You know what? There will be no empty seats in heaven! If you are saved from your sins, even if you are very little, there’s a place for you in God’s home, and nobody can take that place but YOU! It’s reserved just for you.
The twenty-four elders bow down before the Lamb, and they SING! And more than that, the words are sung to that wonderful Lamb who died to save them. Did you notice that they sing to the Lamb and not just about Him? And they sing about His blood. Those twenty-four elders are from every tribe and language and race and nation, and they are kings and priests! You won’t have to stretch your neck for a peek at them; you’ll be right there singing with them, and you won’t be out of breath or bored! It will be wonderful to be there! And the best part is that Jesus will be there!
The next group is way beyond my mathematical ability. There are so many thousands that I couldn’t count that high. They are angels, and they don’t sing about the blood because Jesus didn’t die for angels. In fact, they don’t sing at all. They talk with a loud voice, like a crowd of cheering people. They don’t speak to the Lamb, but speak about Him. They have seven things to praise Him for, and you’ll find them in verse 12.
Then there’s a third group, and no number is given for them. This group includes creatures in heaven (like the birds) and creatures in the sea (like fish), and the writer (John) heard them saying, “Blessing and honor and glory and power” — just four things. They have praises for God and the Lamb, because they are fitted to live where they are, but they don’t have understanding of the One who created them.
After all these praises, the beasts say, “Amen,” and the elders (that’s the saved people like you and me), worship Him who lives forever and ever.
What does your heart say to all this? Are you in that happy number who sing, “Thou art worthy”? You can’t fit into the second or third group, and if you have no place in the first group, where will you be?
I can’t find anything in God’s Book about “going to nothing” when you die. In fact, I can read the awful truth in Revelation 20:15 of those not found written in the book of life. Many of you boys and girls have memorized that verse. Do you remember its very sad and serious message? If not, it would be good to look it up.
Is your name written in God’s book of life? I sure hope so!
“Every one of us shall give account of himself to God” (Romans 14:12).
Think About God’s Word!
1. Where did the Lord Jesus go after He rose from the dead?
2. What are the seven things the Lamb is praised for in Revelation 5:12?
Project: It sure is wonderful to think of heaven and what will happen there. What will happen in hell? Matthew 13:42 gives part of the answer, but there are other verses that give some of the character of the place as well.