Quiet and Hidden

Bible:

He told them another parable. “The kingdom of heaven is like leaven that a woman took and hid in three measures of flour, till it was all leavened.” Matthew 13:33 ESV

If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. Colossians 3:1-4 ESV

Reflection:

Have you ever watched a movie all the way to the end, through all the credits? If you do, you will see a lot of different job titles, like key grip and dolly grip and gaffer and best boy. The people who do these jobs are probably people you have never heard of, and you probably don’t know what these jobs are, either! A gaffer is the head of the electrical department for a film production, and a dolly grip moves camera cranes and the wheeled platforms, called dollies, that carry cameras and the people that are working the cameras. A key grip supervises all the other grips, who move and set up cameras and equipment. A best boy is the second in command to the gaffer or key grip. All of these jobs are very important, and a movie couldn’t get made without them. But they are quiet and hidden jobs. People who go to the movies don’t see the work that they do or realize how much effort they put into the process of making a film.

Jesus gave us a picture of his kingdom that’s a little bit like that. He said that the kingdom of heaven is like a leaven, such as yeast, that a woman puts into bread dough. The yeast works in the dough in a quiet and hidden way, and soon the bread starts to rise. What started out as a little bit of dough soon fills the bread pan to overflowing because the yeast worked all through the dough. God’s kingdom is like that. God’s word works quietly in the hearts and lives of people in ways that we can’t always see or understand, but the Holy Spirit brings changes to people everywhere he is at work. Someday we will see and understand all the ways God has been at work in our world, but for now his ways are often hidden from us.

God hid himself in the human person, Jesus, who died a shameful death on the cross for all people. When people see Jesus on the cross, they might not understand that God was at work in what Jesus was doing. But because of what Jesus did for us, our sins are forgiven, and we have been brought into the kingdom of heaven. God is at work in our hearts and lives, and even if we can’t always understand his purposes in the things that happen, we can be sure that our life is hidden with Jesus in heaven, and that someday when Jesus comes again everything will be made clear to us.

Prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for sending Jesus to give us life, and for hiding our lives safely with Jesus in heaven. In His Name, Amen.

Source:

http://mentalfloss.com/article/50626/11-strange-movie-job-titles%E2%80%94explained

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God Gives the Growth

Bible:

And when he was alone, those around him with the twelve asked him about the parables. 

And he said to them, “Do you not understand this parable? How then will you understand all the parables? The sower sows the word. And these are the ones along the path, where the word is sown: when they hear, Satan immediately comes and takes away the word that is sown in them. And these are the ones sown on rocky ground: the ones who, when they hear the word, immediately receive it with joy. And they have no root in themselves, but endure for a while; then, when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately they fall away. And others are the ones sown among thorns. They are those who hear the word, but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it proves unfruitful. But those that were sown on the good soil are the ones who hear the word and accept it and bear fruit, thirtyfold and sixtyfold and a hundredfold.”

And he said, “The kingdom of God is as if a man should scatter seed on the ground. He sleeps and rises night and day, and the seed sprouts and grows; he knows not how. The earth produces by itself, first the blade, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear. But when the grain is ripe, at once he puts in the sickle, because the harvest has come.”Mark 4:10, 13-20, 26-29 ESV

So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. He who plants and he who waters are one, and each will receive his wages according to his labor. For we are God’s fellow workers. You are God’s field, God’s building. I Corinthians 3:7-9 ESV

Reflection:

Seeds are small, sometimes very tiny, dry things that look dead, but there is the potential for the life of a new plant or tree in a seed. Many seeds come with an outer layer called a seed coat, which protects and gives food to the life inside the seed. A seed stays dormant, or sleeping, until it gets the right conditions–water, light, and a warm enough temperature. When this happens, a seed begins to grow. Roots push down into the soil to bring water and nutrients to the seed, and a shoot sprouts upward toward the sun. What happens to a seed seems almost magical, but it is all the plan of God. He is the one who creates seeds and gives them the ability to grow.

Jesus explained his story about the farmer who planted seeds and left them to grow. A farmer can’t make seeds grow. Only God can do that. All the farmer can do is plant his seeds in the field. Jesus said that the seeds in his story are a picture of God’s word. God’s word isn’t just another book, but instead God’s word brings new life. God the Holy Spirit works through the Word of God to give the gift of faith to people. We can spread God’s word, but it’s God that makes it grow in people’s hearts. Jesus said that people are like different kinds of soil. Some soil is good and some isn’t good. People with hearts that are hard and won’t hear God’s word are like the hard path. There is no chance for the word to take root before Satan takes the seed away the same way that birds eat seeds that fall on the ground. People who have stony hearts believe God’s word until trouble comes, but then they give up easily because his word never takes root deep in their hearts. People whose hearts are full of thorny weeds are so worried about things in this life that they don’t let God’s word grow strong.

This story of Jesus seems a little bit scary. How can we be good soil so that God’s word will take root and grow and not get taken away or shrivel in the hot sun or get choked with weeds? We want to keep hearing and learning and studying God’s word so that the Holy Spirit can help us grow. But just as it is God who makes the seed grow, he also is the one who makes our hearts good soil for him. We don’t have to put our trust in our efforts to grow and have good hearts. God loves us so much that he sent Jesus to die on the cross for us, and he forgives us for the times we are stony or weedy or hard. He sends us his Holy Spirit through his Word so that our hearts are softened and we grow strong and healthy in him.

Prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for your word of life to us. Please help us to grow and be strong for you. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Source:

http://citadel.sjfc.edu/students/scm03254/e-port/vsg/The%20plant%20life%20cycle.htm

Look at the Fruits

Bible:

[Jesus said:] “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles?  So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit.”  Matthew 7:15-18 ESV

The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.” Luke 6:45 ESV

I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them. For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites, and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naive. Romans 16:17-18 ESV

Reflection:

There are many ways to identify a tree, to find out what kind of tree it is that you are looking at. First you can look to see if the tree has needles and cones, and then you know it is a conifer. Instead of needles, a tree might have leaves, and that makes a tree a deciduous tree. If you are looking at a deciduous tree, you then look to see if there is a single leaf attached to a stalk, or if instead it has a compound leaf. If the tree has single leaves, are they opposite to each other, or staggered on the twig? Then you can look at the shape of the leaves. If you are looking at a conifer, you can look at the shape of its cones, or even its bark. It can be very interesting to learn to identify a tree.

When Jesus warned his followers about false teachers, he used the picture of a tree, and he said that there’s really only one way to know what kind of tree a false teacher is, and that is by looking at the fruits. He said that a good tree produces good fruit, like grapes or figs, but a diseased tree only produces diseased fruit. It’s silly to try to find grapes on a thorn bush or figs on a thistle! A false teacher might look good in many ways, just like a wolf who has covered himself in a sheepskin might look harmless and gentle. But what is the fruit we are supposed to look for to know if a teacher in the church is a false teacher or a true one? We shouldn’t look at the good work a false teacher might do, or how many people are following the teacher, or even at how interesting and exciting the teaching is. The only thing we should look for is whether or not a teacher is teaching the truth about Jesus. If a teacher is telling lies about Jesus, those lies are the bad fruit that Jesus warns us to stay away from.

How can we know if a teacher is teaching things that are true? God has given us his word, the Bible, and we always compare what the teacher says with what the Bible teaches. That’s how we know if a teacher is true or false. The most important thing to remember is that Jesus came to us to save us. He died on the cross to pay for all of our sins, and everyone who believes in him has forgiveness and eternal life with him. A false teacher who teaches something different from that is very dangerous because this teacher can lead us away from Jesus, our Savior. But Jesus sends us his Holy Spirit to help us to know him and to know when someone is telling lies, so we can stay close to our Lord always.

Prayer:

Dear Jesus, help us to stay close to you and to stay away from people who teach lies about you. Amen.

Source:

https://www.arborday.org/trees/whattree/fullonline.cfm

Answers to Prayer

Bible:

[Jesus said:] “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!” Matthew 7:7-11 ESV

When the poor and needy seek water,
and there is none,
and their tongue is parched with thirst,
I the Lord will answer them;
I the God of Israel will not forsake them.
I will open rivers on the bare heights,
and fountains in the midst of the valleys.
I will make the wilderness a pool of water,
and the dry land springs of water.
I will put in the wilderness the cedar,
the acacia, the myrtle, and the olive.
I will set in the desert the cypress,
the plane and the pine together,
that they may see and know,
may consider and understand together,
that the hand of the Lord has done this,
the Holy One of Israel has created it. Isaiah 41:17-20 ESV

Reflection:

When Almanzo was at his town’s Independence Day celebration, his cousin Frank dared him to ask his father for a nickel to buy pink lemonade. Almanzo had never asked his father for money before, and he was afraid to, but his cousin and the other boys were all watching and Frank was making fun of him and saying he was too scared to do it. So Almanzo went up to his father and asked for a nickel. Almanzo’s father talked to him about the value of money, and then he didn’t give him a nickel. He gave Almanzo a silver half-dollar instead! Almanzo got much more from his father than he asked for, because his father was good and listened to him. But he also taught Almanzo some wisdom about how to use the gift. Almanzo didn’t buy lemonade, but instead he bought a little pig to bring home to the farm.

Jesus said that God is our Heavenly Father, and like a good father on earth, he gives his children good things when they ask for them. We can talk to our Heavenly Father in prayer and tell him what is on our mind, and what we need, and Jesus promises that God will answer our prayers. But this doesn’t mean that God is like a magic genie who has to do whatever we tell him, no matter what it is. Even a good earthly father knows what is good for his children and how to say no to foolish wishes. Almanzo’s father didn’t just hand him the nickel he asked for, but he asked him questions about what he wanted to do with it, and he helped him to think about how much hard work went into money, and wise ways to spend it. Our Heavenly Father also listens to our needs and speaks to us in his word to teach us wisdom. He sends us his Holy Spirit so that we can better understand what we really need, and what is best to ask for.

The most important thing we need from God is the forgiveness of our sins every day. Even before we could ask our Heavenly Father for this, he knew we needed it, and he sent Jesus to win it for us. Jesus died on the cross to pay for all of our sins, and because he did that, God forgives us our sins every day. We can always go to God for strength and for help with anything that we need, and know that he will answer our prayers in the way that is best for us. He will do whatever we ask that will keep us his precious children, now and always.

Prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for hearing and answering our prayers. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Source:

Wilder, Laura Ingalls Farmer Boy New York: Harper and Brothers, 1933.

 

The Log in Your Eye

Bible:

[Jesus said:] “Can a blind man lead a blind man? Will they not both fall into a pit? A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone when he is fully trained will be like his teacher. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take out the speck that is in your eye,’ when you yourself do not see the log that is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take out the speck that is in your brother’s eye. Luke 6:39b-42 ESV

Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Colossians 3:12-15 ESV

Reflection:

Lucy often was not a good person. She had a very unkind tongue, and often said hurtful things to other people, especially Charlie Brown. She was very selfish and wanted to have her own way all the time. She was especially unkind to her younger brother, Linus, and if he didn’t do what she wanted, she would often hit him with her fist. But Lucy could never see her own faults, even though she had no trouble seeing the faults of others. One day she decided she would do Linus a great service. She made a list of all the things she thought were wrong with him that he should try to improve. She thought she was doing a good thing for him, and that if Linus would make the New Year’s resolutions she told him to make, he would become a better person.

Jesus said that it’s wrong to think you can improve others when you can’t even improve yourself. He said it was like a blind person leading a blind person. Since neither one of them can see, they will only fall into a ditch together. If you want to try to fix someone else’s fault, which is only a little speck of dirt in the other person’s eye, you first have to take out the log that is in your own eye! Jesus used these pictures to remind us that we are all sinners, and that we shouldn’t think we’re better than anyone else. We shouldn’t think we’re especially qualified to help other people deal with their sins and faults as if we didn’t have enough of our own to deal with. We will never be greater than our teacher, Jesus, and we should be content to be like him.

Jesus is the only person who can really take a person’s sins away. He did this by taking all the sins of the world onto himself and paying for them on the cross. He is the only one who can send us his Holy Spirit to help us follow him and turn away from the sin in our lives. Even though Jesus is holy and righteous, he is kind and patient with sinful people. This is good news for us, because we are the sinful people he loves and cares for. We become more like Jesus when we also are kind and patient with others who are sinful, and show them the love of Jesus.

Prayer:

Dear Jesus, help us to become more like you and to share your love with others. Amen.

Source:

Schulz, Charles M. The Complete Peanuts 1959 to 1960 Seattle: Fantagraphics Books, 2006, p. 158.

Judge Not

Bible:

[Jesus said:] “Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven; give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.” Luke 6:37-38 ESV

Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. Galatians 6:1 ESV

Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. I Peter 4:8 ESV

Reflection:

Polly was walking down the street one day when she saw a woman quietly leave a little baby on the steps of an orphanage. Polly was worried that the baby might not be okay, and she ran to pick it up just as the door to the orphanage opened and a worker there saw her. This woman thought that Polly was the mother of the baby and that she was the one who was leaving it at the orphanage, and even when Polly said that that wasn’t true, she didn’t believe her. She was sure that Polly had done this bad thing and scolded her for it.

Jesus said that his people shouldn’t judge others. What that means is that we should think the best of them and believe them, just as the woman at the orphanage should have believed Polly. It also means that we shouldn’t think too badly of a woman like the baby’s actual mother, because we don’t know what was in her heart or why she would do a thing like she did. Sometimes God’s people do need to speak to others who are doing things that displease God, but we should do it gently and humbly, and remember that we also are sinful and do wrong things ourselves. It’s not always easy to know the best ways to love and to forgive and not to judge, and sometimes we need help from older, trusted Christians like our parents or teachers. But the important thing to remember is to love and forgive and not try to hurt others, even when they seem to be doing things that are wrong.

Even Jesus didn’t come to the world to judge us, but instead to lay down his life on the cross so that we can be forgiven. No matter what sins we do, we can always come to him for forgiveness and help. His love covers our sins, and he sends us his Holy Spirit to help us to turn away from sin and to follow his ways. Someday Jesus will return as our judge, but until that happens there is time to turn to God for mercy. We are thankful for God’s mercy, and we want to share that mercy with others so that they can know it too.

Prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father, Thank you for giving us your forgiveness and mercy through Jesus. Help us to share that with others. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Source:

Kanin, Garson, dir. Bachelor Mother RKO Radio Pictures, 1939. Film

Birds and Flowers

Bible:

[Jesus said:]

“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

“Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble. Matthew 6:25-34 ESV

And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. To our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen. Philippians 4:19-20 ESV

Reflection:

Sam had been adopted by his parents for several months, but before they had brought him to his new home he had lived in a place where there was never enough food to eat. Sam was constantly worried that he wouldn’t have food. During mealtimes he ate and ate, even when he wasn’t hungry. He often took food out of the kitchen and hid it in his bedroom, just in case. Sometimes when his parents got up in the morning, they found him sleeping on the floor in the kitchen by the refrigerator. It took Sam a number of months to learn that his parents would always take care of him and give him enough food to eat, and that he didn’t have to worry about it all the time. Then Sam was able to put more energy into school, and friends, and the love of his family, rather than just thinking about food all the time.

God’s children often worry that they won’t have enough to eat, or clothes to wear, or a place to live, and all the other things they need to live in this world. Jesus told us not to worry about these things. Our Heavenly Father knows that we need them, and our worrying won’t make things go better for us. Jesus pointed to the beautiful lilies growing in the field, more beautiful than the majestic clothing King Solomon wore, and he also said to look at the birds flying through the air, who don’t have to work for their food, but just find it where God puts it for them. Our Heavenly Father loves us much more than he loves flowers and birds, and Jesus promises that he will always provide for his people’s needs. Certainly he wants us to work for our living, but instead of worrying, he invites us to pray when things don’t seem to be going well. The Lord wants us to focus our attention first on him, instead of putting all our energy into worrying about our lives in this world.

Jesus said that God’s kingdom and righteousness were the things we should put first in our lives. We are members of God’s kingdom because Jesus died on the cross so that our sins could be forgiven and we could become God’s people forever. We are sinful people and we don’t deserve to be in this kingdom, but Jesus covers our sins with his righteousness. He sends us his Holy Spirit to help us put our trust in our Heavenly Father’s care for us, and to live the righteous lives that he’s given us as a free gift forever.

Prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father, Thank you for providing us with what we need every day. Help us to always trust in your care. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

God and Money

Bible:

[Jesus said:] “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

“No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.” Matthew 6:19-21, 24 ESV

Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” So we can confidently say,

“The Lord is my helper;
I will not fear;
what can man do to me?” Hebrews 13:5-6 ESV

Reflection:

Perry Mason was a lawyer whose job was to defend people who had been accused of doing something wrong and to see that they got a fair trial and were found to be not guilty. Hamilton Burger was a lawyer too, but his job was to prosecute. That means that he worked for the government against people who were accused of doing something wrong so that they would be found guilty and punished for their crimes. But one day a man named Jefferson Pike was accused of murdering a man that he had been very angry with. It would be Hamilton Burger’s job to prosecute him in court, but the problem was that Jefferson was a good friend of Hamilton’s and had once saved his life. Hamilton Burger knew that he couldn’t possibly prosecute his friend because of this, and he even asked Perry Mason to defend Jefferson. Burger disqualified himself from his friend’s trial, because he knew his heart wouldn’t be in the prosecution and that he wouldn’t do good work. He couldn’t be on two sides at the same time.

This is only a story, but it shows something that is true. Jesus taught that we can’t be on two sides at the same time. We can either make money and things the heart of our lives, or we can make God the heart of our lives, but we can’t do both at the same time. Loving money and making it your greatest treasure will give you very different priorities than loving God and making him your highest treasure. Jesus warns his followers that it is foolish to make money our greatest treasure. The beautiful things that money can buy will all be ruined in time, and thieves can take all our money and everything we have. Disasters of different kinds can take away our money and things, but nothing can take God’s love away from us, and it will last forever.

Sometimes God gives his people the blessing of money and things, but sometimes he doesn’t, and that doesn’t mean he loves rich people more than he loves poor people. To the Lord, we are his greatest treasure, and he paid for us with something much more valuable than money. He paid for us with his own life on the cross, and because of what Jesus has done for us, we are his. He forgives us for our sins of greed and our hearts that so easily turn away from him. He sends his us Holy Spirit so that we can make him our greatest treasure, and can see all the other blessings he gives us in the right perspective.

Prayer:

Dear Jesus, thank you for the price you paid to make us yours. Please help us to treasure you above all things. Amen.

Source:

Gillis, Jackson (Writer) & Miller, Robert Ellis (Director). (1960). The Case of the Prudent Prosecutor [Television series episode]. Herbert Hirschman (Producer), Perry Mason. Paisano Productions. New York: Columbia Broadcasting System.

Three Enemies

Bible:

[Jesus said:] “Pray then like this: . . .

And lead us not into temptation.” Matthew 6:9a, 13a RSV

Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. I Peter 5:8

Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever. I John 2:15-17 ESV

For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. Romans 7:18 ESV

Reflection:

In the 1930s there was a civil war in Spain. In 1936 one side in this war tried to conquer the capital city of Madrid and overthrow its government. An army general of the fighting forces, Emilio Mola, had four columns of soldiers that were marching toward Madrid. While he was moving his soldiers toward the battle, the story goes that he said, ” I have under my command four columns that march towards the capital, not counting the fifth that is inside Madrid.” What General Mola meant was that even though Madrid was under the rule of the government he was trying to overthrow, there were many people in Madrid who were doing everything they could to help his side in the war, and they were as powerful as a column of soldiers. Since then, the phrase “fifth column” means people in a country who are working in some way to help the enemy in a war.

Christians are also in a war, but it’s not the kind of war that’s fought with guns and tanks and bombs. We have enemies who hate us and are trying to turn us away from God. The first enemy we have is the devil and all his evil angels. They do everything they can to destroy the works of God and to turn his people against him. Another enemy we have is the world. God made the world, and he made everything to be good, but sin has corrupted the world, and people don’t follow God’s ways and rebel against him in pride and in wanting things that do not please him. We often hear and follow the voice of the world instead of the voice of the Lord. The devil and the world are the two enemies that attack us from the outside, but we also have a “fifth column” inside us that always tempts us to turn away from the Lord, and that is our own sinful nature. Jesus has made us his own, but there is sin in us that continues to fight and rebel against the good that God has done in us.

Jesus taught us to pray, “Lead us not into temptation.” We know that temptations will come to us until the day we die, but we ask our Heavenly Father to lead us instead of letting our enemies lead us, and to help us not to give into these temptations. We ask him for his strength when we are weak, and we ask him to turn temptations away from us if it is his will. Jesus also suffered many temptations when he lived among us on earth, but he never turned away from his Heavenly Father’s ways. He understands how it feels to be tempted, and he is always ready to help us. His perfect life covers our sinfulness, and his death and resurrection defeated all the forces of evil once and for all. Jesus forgives our sins every day, and sends us his Holy Spirit to give us the strength to follow his lead.

Prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father, please forgive our sins and help us to be strong and not to fall into temptation. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Source:

https://www.google.com/culturalinstitute/beta/exhibit/qgIi0fwrfe4XJw

Thanking and Sharing

Bible:

[Jesus said:] “Pray then like this: . . .

Give us this day our daily bread.” Matthew 6:9a, 11 RSV

You cause the grass to grow for the livestock
and plants for man to cultivate,
that he may bring forth food from the earth
and wine to gladden the heart of man,
oil to make his face shine
and bread to strengthen man’s heart. Psalm 104:14-15 ESV

The eyes of all look to you,
and you give them their food in due season.
You open your hand;
you satisfy the desire of every living thing. Psalm 145:15-16 ESV

Reflection:

Sara Crewe was the daughter of an immensely rich man, and she lived in luxury in a girls’ boarding school in London. But after her father died, everyone thought that he had been ruined and that Sara was now very poor. For some time Sara was cold and hungry and had to work hard for the little she had, but then she found out that her father had left a huge fortune behind for her, and that she was richer than ever. She went back to a life of comfort and luxury, but she had learned what it means to be poor and hungry. She decided to use some of her money to make sure that children who didn’t have enough to eat could come into a bakery shop and have some food. The woman who baked in the shop was happy to work with Sara in this plan. She remembered a day when Sara had been very poor and had found a little money in the mud and bought some buns, and then had given most of them to another girl who was even hungrier than Sara had been. The woman had hired this other girl, who had become a hard worker in the shop. This other girl now was warm and well-fed and had work to do, and she was going to be the one to give the food to the hungry children who came by.

Jesus taught his followers to ask God for their daily bread. He didn’t only mean bread and other food, but he also meant clothing, and homes, and health, and education, and family, and work, and good government, and good weather, and everything in the world that we need to live. God gives these blessings to his children even before we ask him, and in this prayer we are reminded to thank God for all of his good gifts.

We know that God loves and cares for all people, and it’s hard to understand sometimes why people are hungry and sick and homeless and don’t have the things they need. There are many reasons why people suffer need in this sin-broken world. There is war and injustice and selfishness, famine and disease and disaster, sickness and disability and irresponsible behavior. We might not understand the reasons God lets things happen the way they do, but we do know that God wants to provide for his children, and that he gives us his blessings not only for our own sakes, but for the sake of other people as well. We can be sure that it pleases God when we do our best to help others in need, and when we do this, we become one way our Heavenly Father provides daily bread for other people.

Sometimes we take our daily bread for granted, as if we got it all by ourselves without any help and blessing from God, and we forget to be thankful. Often we are selfish, and want to keep everything we have for ourselves. Jesus came to die on the cross to pay for our sins of selfishness and unthankfulness, and he sends us his Holy Spirit to help us to be thankful and to share our blessings with others.

Prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for giving us our daily bread. Help us to care and to share with others in need. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Source:

Burnett, Frances Hodgson A Little Princess New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1905.