Nothing without Love

Bible:

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing. I Corinthians 13:1-3 ESV

Many waters cannot quench love,
neither can floods drown it.
If a man offered for love
all the wealth of his house,
he would be utterly despised. Song of Solomon 8:7 ESV

Reflection:

Barbara Hutton was born to very rich parents, and she was extremely rich from the day she was born. She had a very unhappy life, though. Her mother killed herself when she was six, and her father never paid much attention to her. When she grew up, she married and divorced seven different men. At the end of her life she had an amazing collection of art and jewelry, including an emerald and diamond bracelet that had belonged to Catherine the Great. She gave money to anyone she thought might be her friend, but in the end, when she died, she didn’t have the one thing she had wanted all her life. Barbara Hutton never knew a love she could depend on, and because of that, nothing she had really gave her any happiness.

Paul wrote to the Corinthians about how important love is. He said that nothing, even the heroic and wonderful things people might do, even for God, are worth anything at all without love. People might be able to speak all kinds of languages from all over the earth and heaven as well, and they might know and understand many difficult things and be able to explain them to others and have a strong faith that works miracles, and they might even give their bodies away to be burned, but none of this is any good at all without love.

Sometimes we get caught up in the idea of doing wonderful things for God, but we forget that the most important thing of all is to love him and love others. We start to focus on the great things we are doing, and it makes us proud. We forget how much we need the love of Jesus, who died on the cross for us and showed us the most perfect love of all. The love of Jesus forgives our sins, and makes us humble as we realize how much we need what he has to give us. Our own strength and power really can’t do anything lasting or worthwhile, but the love of Jesus  makes us able to truly serve and help others.

Prayer:

Dear Jesus, thank you for your love. Please help us to remember most of all to love you and others. Amen.

Source:

http://www.elenasdiary.com/en/saga-of-the-week/1010-barbara-hutton-h-istoria-toy-perifimou-ftoxoy-plousiokoritsou

The Death of Ananias

Bible:

But a man named Ananias, with his wife Sapphira, sold a piece of property, and with his wife’s knowledge he kept back for himself some of the proceeds and brought only a part of it and laid it at the apostles’ feet. But Peter said, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back for yourself part of the proceeds of the land? While it remained unsold, did it not remain your own? And after it was sold, was it not at your disposal? Why is it that you have contrived this deed in your heart? You have not lied to man but to God.” When Ananias heard these words, he fell down and breathed his last. And great fear came upon all who heard of it. The young men rose and wrapped him up and carried him out and buried him. Acts 5:1-6 ESV

I will punish the world for its evil,
and the wicked for their iniquity;
I will put an end to the pomp of the arrogant,
and lay low the pompous pride of the ruthless.
I will make people more rare than fine gold,
and mankind than the gold of Ophir.
Therefore I will make the heavens tremble,
and the earth will be shaken out of its place,
at the wrath of the Lord of hosts
in the day of his fierce anger. Isaiah 13:11-13 ESV

Reflection:

Gardeners and farmers always have to be on the lookout for pests and diseases that can ruin an entire crop. The earlier they can detect something wrong, the more of their crop they can save by getting rid of what is hurting it. Good farmers walk through their crops with magnifying glasses to be able to see even very small insects or their eggs. They carry jars or plastic bags so that they can gather specimens to test what they find. They carry strips of cloth or flagging tape so that they can mark the plants that are infested, and also a notepad and pencil so they can write their findings down. Sometimes farmers also set traps for insects so they can catch them at times when they are not able to monitor their fields. They might use sticky paper or containers of water and molasses and dish soap. All of this work makes the farmer able to do what has to be done to protect the crops.

Today’s Bible reading tells the sad story of the way God’s judgment fell on Ananias. It might seem as if God was very harsh, but he wanted to protect his young church from the harm that sin would cause. Ananias was rich, and he sold one of his fields as other rich Christians had been doing. Then he kept some of the money for himself before he gave the rest to the apostles. Peter made it clear that Ananias was free to not sell his field and to keep it for himself. He was also free to keep some money for himself and to not give all of it to the church. Ananias’ sin was lying by saying he was giving everything when he really wasn’t. His wish for everyone to think he was better than he really was caused him to lie to God the Holy Spirit, and for that reason God caused him to fall down dead.

Sins of lying and of pride can hurt the whole church. These sins are dangerous because they make us start thinking that we can earn God’s love and blessing by the good things that we do. Sometimes people try to prove that they’re better than others, and instead of remembering that we are all sinners who need God’s forgiveness, we start lying and cheating and trying to make others look bad instead of loving and helping each other. Jesus died for these sins, too, and there is forgiveness for them, but he warns us to be very careful to not turn away from the love and grace he has for us. Jesus wants his church to be a place of forgiveness and care for all people, and he sends us his Holy Spirit to help us never trust our own work or cleverness but instead to keep trusting him for everything.

Prayer:

Dear Jesus, please help us to remember our need for your help and forgiveness every day, and to not fall into sins of lying and of pride. Amen.

Source:

https://www.echocommunity.org/en/resources/78ba129d-56a3-43b6-abd9-dc963495f235

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

No Showing Off

Bible:

[Jesus said:] “Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven.

“Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

“And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.” Matthew 6:1-6 ESV

And the Lord said:
“Because this people draw near with their mouth
and honor me with their lips,
while their hearts are far from me,
and their fear of me is a commandment taught by men,
therefore, behold, I will again
do wonderful things with this people,
with wonder upon wonder;
and the wisdom of their wise men shall perish,
and the discernment of their discerning men shall be hidden.” Isaiah 29:13-14 ESV

Reflection:

There’s an old story about a little boy who was learning how to ride his bike, and he liked to show off. He kept riding around the block, and each time he passed his home he would shout out for his mom to look at him. The first time he rode past his house, he yelled, “Look Ma! No hands!” The second time he rode past his house, he yelled, “Look Ma! No feet!” The third time he rode past his house he yelled, “Look Ma! No teeth!”

This joke makes fun of people who show off and pretend to be better than they actually are. Jesus had some stern words for people who tried to show off how good and holy they were. He talked about people who gave gifts to others who were poor and needy, but had someone blow a trumpet to announce to everyone the wonderful thing they were doing. He also talked about people who would pray, standing up in the synagogs or on the street corners so everyone could see what they were doing. Jesus said that the attention and praise these people got for showing off was the only reward they were going to get. He told his followers to keep their prayers and their kind acts a secret.

Of course we want to witness to our faith in Jesus, and people who are touched by our kindness will usually know about it. While Jesus said we should let our light shine, he also asks us to remember that he is our light, and not our own efforts or goodness. It’s so easy to enjoy the good things others say about us when we let the light of Jesus shine that we start to show off. We forget about Jesus, we forget about loving the people we are helping, and we only think about ourselves. These selfish thoughts do not please our Father in Heaven.

Jesus died on the cross to pay for all of our sins, including our sins of pride and selfishness. We can come to him for help and forgiveness every day, and let him show his love and goodness through us, rather than trying to show off our own.

Prayer:

Dear Jesus, please forgive us for showing off how good we think we are. Please help us to remember that you are our light, and to give glory to you instead of ourselves. Amen.

Making a Gallows

Bible:

And Haman went out that day joyful and glad of heart. But when Haman saw Mordecai in the king’s gate, that he neither rose nor trembled before him, he was filled with wrath against Mordecai. Nevertheless, Haman restrained himself and went home, and he sent and brought his friends and his wife Zeresh. And Haman recounted to them the splendor of his riches, the number of his sons, all the promotions with which the king had honored him, and how he had advanced him above the officials and the servants of the king. Then Haman said, “Even Queen Esther let no one but me come with the king to the feast she prepared. And tomorrow also I am invited by her together with the king. Yet all this is worth nothing to me, so long as I see Mordecai the Jew sitting at the king’s gate.” Then his wife Zeresh and all his friends said to him, “Let a gallows fifty cubits high be made, and in the morning tell the king to have Mordecai hanged upon it. Then go joyfully with the king to the feast.” This idea pleased Haman, and he had the gallows made. Esther 5:9-14 ESV

There is none holy like the Lord:
for there is none besides you;
there is no rock like our God.
Talk no more so very proudly,
let not arrogance come from your mouth;
for the Lord is a God of knowledge,
and by him actions are weighed.
The bows of the mighty are broken,
but the feeble bind on strength. I Samuel 2:2-4 ESV

Reflection:

There’s a story about the Battle of Marathon, a battle fought between Persian forces and the Greek city of Athens during a war when the Persians were invading Greece. The battles of this war had gone well for the Persians up to this point, and they had conquered some parts of Greece. They were confident that they would also win the battle against Athens, and according to the story the Persians brought a block of marble on their ships with them to use to make a memorial trophy of the victory they expected to win.

We don’t know if this story is true or not, but Haman did something similar after his first feast with King Ahasuerus and Queen Esther. He came home and started bragging to his wife and his friends about his wealth and all of his sons and all the promotions the king had given him. He thought that his power and advancement would go on and on, but there was one thing he still wanted, and that was to bring down Mordecai. He continued to hate Mordecai because he refused to bow down to him. But then his wife and his friends gave him an idea. They told him he should build a gallows for putting Mordecai to death. Haman did that, confident that he’d soon be able to get rid of his enemy.

Sometimes we think that everything will always go our way, and that there’s nothing that can stop us. We don’t realize that the good things we have are gifts from God, and instead think that our own hard work and talent have given us everything. The Lord is displeased with this kind of pride and arrogance. The worst kind of arrogance is when people think that they can make things right between themselves and God all on their own. They think they can win God’s love and help by their efforts and good works. But it’s very dangerous to think this way. We are all sinful, and we need the Lord’s help in everything. We could never make ourselves right with God, but he’s done that for us by sending Jesus to die for us to pay for our sins. Because of Jesus, we have God’s love and help, and every good thing, now and always.

Prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father, please forgive us when we are proud and arrogant, and help us to trust in what you’ve given us through Jesus. In His Name, Amen.

Source:

http://mythmaniacs.com/nemesis.htm

An Unhappy Marriage

Bible:

On the seventh day, when the heart of the king was merry with wine, he commanded Mehuman, Biztha, Harbona, Bigtha and Abagtha, Zethar and Carkas, the seven eunuchs who served in the presence of King Ahasuerus, to bring Queen Vashti before the king with her royal crown, in order to show the peoples and the princes her beauty, for she was lovely to look at. But Queen Vashti refused to come at the king’s command delivered by the eunuchs. At this the king became enraged, and his anger burned within him.

Then the king said to the wise men who knew the times (for this was the king’s procedure toward all who were versed in law and judgment, the men next to him being Carshena, Shethar, Admatha, Tarshish, Meres, Marsena, and Memucan, the seven princes of Persia and Media, who saw the king’s face, and sat first in the kingdom): “According to the law, what is to be done to Queen Vashti, because she has not performed the command of King Ahasuerus delivered by the eunuchs?” Then Memucan said in the presence of the king and the officials, “Not only against the king has Queen Vashti done wrong, but also against all the officials and all the peoples who are in all the provinces of King Ahasuerus. For the queen’s behavior will be made known to all women, causing them to look at their husbands with contempt, since they will say, ‘King Ahasuerus commanded Queen Vashti to be brought before him, and she did not come.’ This very day the noble women of Persia and Media who have heard of the queen’s behavior will say the same to all the king’s officials, and there will be contempt and wrath in plenty. If it please the king, let a royal order go out from him, and let it be written among the laws of the Persians and the Medes so that it may not be repealed, that Vashti is never again to come before King Ahasuerus. And let the king give her royal position to another who is better than she. So when the decree made by the king is proclaimed throughout all his kingdom, for it is vast, all women will give honor to their husbands, high and low alike.” This advice pleased the king and the princes, and the king did as Memucan proposed. He sent letters to all the royal provinces, to every province in its own script and to every people in its own language, that every man be master in his own household and speak according to the language of his people. Esther 1:10-22 ESV

Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.

Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body. “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband. Ephesians 5:22-33 ESV

Reflection:

Sarah and Adoniram had been married for forty years. Adoniram was a prosperous farmer who had promised his wife before they were married that he would build her a beautiful new house before their first year was over, but he had never kept that promise. He had built new barns for his cows, but his family still lived in the same poor little house that they had started their marriage in. Then Adoniram built another beautiful barn for some new cows, and his wife was very upset. She reminded him of the promise he had made to her before they had been married, and showed him how shabby and poor their old house was, but her husband wouldn’t change his mind. So when he went out of town for a few days, Sarah and her two children moved all of their furniture into the beautiful new barn and turned it into their home. When Adoniram came home and discovered what Sarah had done, he realized that he had not treated his wife and children well, and he promised he would fix up the new barn to make it into a lovely house.

The story of King Ahasuerus and Queen Vashti didn’t end so happily. When the king called for his wife to come to the men’s party so he could show off her beauty, she refused to come. She probably didn’t want to have a bunch of men staring at her, especially since they would have been drinking too much wine. God wants wives to respect their husbands, but he also wants husbands to treat their wives with kindness and consideration and love, and the king didn’t seem to care about his wife’s feelings. Ahasuerus became very angry, and after getting some advice from his wise men he divorced Vashti and removed her from being the queen. He even made it a law that men should be the bosses of their homes, and if their wives spoke a different language, they had to speak their husband’s language at home. King Ahasuerus cared most about his own pride and of not having people look down on him because Queen Vashti had disobeyed him.

Sometimes Jesus is pictured as a bridegroom, and his people are pictured as his bride. Jesus isn’t like Adoniram or Ahasuerus. He loves his people dearly, and even though we’ve disobeyed him and turned away from him, his love caused him to come to earth and give his life for us. We had been separated from him, but he brought us back, and he covered our ugly sins with his perfect holiness. Usually a bride provides her own wedding gown, but Jesus provided us with his righteousness and forgiveness, which washes us clean of all our sins and covers us like a beautiful wedding dress. Husbands and wives don’t always love and respect each other perfectly in this world, but in Jesus we know what perfect love and care are like.

Prayer:

Dear Jesus, thank you for your amazing love and care and forgiveness. Amen.

Source:

http://wilkinsfreeman.info/Short/RevoltOfMotherNEN.htm

Pride and a Foolish Law

Bible:

Then these high officials and satraps came by agreement to the king and said to him, “O King Darius, live forever! All the high officials of the kingdom, the prefects and the satraps, the counselors and the governors are agreed that the king should establish an ordinance and enforce an injunction, that whoever makes petition to any god or man for thirty days, except to you, O king, shall be cast into the den of lions. Now, O king, establish the injunction and sign the document, so that it cannot be changed, according to the law of the Medes and the Persians, which cannot be revoked.” Therefore King Darius signed the document and injunction. Daniel 6:6-9 ESV

Blessed is the man who makes
the Lord his trust,
who does not turn to the proud,
to those who go astray after a lie!
You have multiplied, O Lord my God,
your wondrous deeds and your thoughts toward us;
none can compare with you!
I will proclaim and tell of them,
yet they are more than can be told. Psalm 40:4-5 ESV

Reflection:

Once a little frog saw a big ox in a field, and he went home and told his father about it. His father wasn’t impressed. “I can make myself just as big as an ox if I want to!” said the bullfrog, and he started to puff himself up. As he blew himself out, the little frog kept saying that the ox was much bigger than that. So the frog kept puffing himself full of air until he burst like a big balloon!

King Darius was as proud and foolish as this bullfrog. He thought he had enough power and wisdom to take care of everyone’s needs in his whole kingdom, and that the people didn’t need any other government official or any god to help them. The leaders of the government used the king’s pride to trick him into making a very foolish law. The law said that no one could ask anyone for any help except for the king–not any other person and not any god–for thirty days. King Darius probably thought that by signing this law he would show everyone in the empire how important and powerful he was, so he signed the law. He didn’t realize that it was all a trick to trap Daniel and to get rid of him.

We all sometimes get tricked by our pride to think that we can take care of ourselves and handle things on our own without God’s help. But we need God every day, and we really can’t do anything without him, even though we often don’t think about the way he takes care of us and provides for us. Most importantly, we couldn’t ever win our way back to God after our foolishness and pride separated us from him. We sometimes start to think that we can follow God’s ways and be good enough to be his children on our own, but we can’t. We are sinful, and the only way back to God is through Jesus, our Savior. Jesus came to die on the cross for us so that our sins could be forgiven and we could be God’s people. We can always trust Jesus for forgiveness and for everything we need to go God’s way, now and always.

Prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father, please help us to always trust you and know that you give us everything we need. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Not Learning from the Past

Bible:

Then Daniel answered and said before the king, “Let your gifts be for yourself, and give your rewards to another. Nevertheless, I will read the writing to the king and make known to him the interpretation. O king, the Most High God gave Nebuchadnezzar your father kingship and greatness and glory and majesty.  And because of the greatness that he gave him, all peoples, nations, and languages trembled and feared before him. Whom he would, he killed, and whom he would, he kept alive; whom he would, he raised up, and whom he would, he humbled. But when his heart was lifted up and his spirit was hardened so that he dealt proudly, he was brought down from his kingly throne, and his glory was taken from him. He was driven from among the children of mankind, and his mind was made like that of a beast, and his dwelling was with the wild donkeys. He was fed grass like an ox, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven, until he knew that the Most High God rules the kingdom of mankind and sets over it whom he will. And you his son, Belshazzar, have not humbled your heart, though you knew all this, but you have lifted up yourself against the Lord of heaven. And the vessels of his house have been brought in before you, and you and your lords, your wives, and your concubines have drunk wine from them. And you have praised the gods of silver and gold, of bronze, iron, wood, and stone, which do not see or hear or know, but the God in whose hand is your breath, and whose are all your ways, you have not honored.” Daniel 5:17-23 ESV

[Paul writes:] I thank him who has given me strength, Christ Jesus our Lord, because he judged me faithful, appointing me to his service,  though formerly I was a blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent opponent. But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief, and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life. I Timothy 1:12-16 ESV

Reflection:

There’s a song about a man who had a son, but he was always too busy to spend any time with him. He was away on a business trip when his son learned to walk. He gave his son a ball for his tenth birthday, but he was too busy to play with him or teach him how to throw. As his son grew up, he became like his father. He didn’t learn anything at all from his father’s mistakes. When he came home from college his dad wanted him to sit and talk with him for awhile, but all he wanted to do was borrow the car and go do something else. When the son got married and had a family, he never had any time to visit his dad or spend any time with him.

Belshazzar wasn’t actually Nebuchadnezzar’s son, but he ruled Nebuchadnezzar’s kingdom, so Daniel talked to him as if Nebuchadnezzar had been his father. Nebuchadnezzar had learned a hard lesson about the true God when he became too proud. He became mentally ill and lived as an animal for awhile until he learned to give glory to the Lord of Heaven. Belshazzar knew about that, and he should have learned from Nebuchadnezzar’s mistakes, but he didn’t. He worshiped false gods and idols and made fun of the true God. Daniel scolded Belshazzar for his foolishness and his pride. He should have learned from the sins and mistakes of the past, but he didn’t. Because of that, God’s judgment would fall on him.

When we look to people to be our examples to follow, we might find good examples and bad examples, but we will never find perfect examples. That’s because everyone is a sinner. The Apostle Paul did many wonderful things for the Lord, but he never forgot the terrible things he had done before he came to believe in Jesus. He had hated Jesus and hurt many people who were Christians. We can learn from Paul’s bad example and not be like he was before he became a Christian, and we can also learn from his good example and the way he followed Jesus afterwards. But Paul said that the best example he could give was the example of the amazing love and grace of the Lord. From Paul’s example we can learn that because of Jesus’ death on the cross for us, we can know the forgiveness of all our sins. The best people to follow are people who believe in Jesus and trust in him to give them the eternal life Jesus came to bring.

Prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for giving us Jesus, our Savior, and for people who show us how to follow him and believe in him. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Source:

Chapin, Harry. “Cat’s in the Cradle.” Verities and Balderdash. Electra, 1973. LP.

The King Returns

Bible:

At the end of the days I, Nebuchadnezzar, lifted my eyes to heaven, and my reason returned to me, and I blessed the Most High, and praised and honored him who lives forever,

for his dominion is an everlasting dominion,
and his kingdom endures from generation to generation;
all the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing,
and he does according to his will among the host of heaven
and among the inhabitants of the earth;
and none can stay his hand
or say to him, “What have you done?”

At the same time my reason returned to me, and for the glory of my kingdom, my majesty and splendor returned to me. My counselors and my lords sought me, and I was established in my kingdom, and still more greatness was added to me. Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and extol and honor the King of heaven, for all his works are right and his ways are just; and those who walk in pride he is able to humble. Daniel 4:34-37 ESV

I give you thanks, O Lord, with my whole heart;
before the gods I sing your praise;
I bow down toward your holy temple
and give thanks to your name for your steadfast love and your faithfulness,
for you have exalted above all things
your name and your word.
On the day I called, you answered me;
my strength of soul you increased.

All the kings of the earth shall give you thanks, O Lord,
for they have heard the words of your mouth,
and they shall sing of the ways of the Lord,
for great is the glory of the Lord.
For though the Lord is high, he regards the lowly,
but the haughty he knows from afar. Psalm 138:1-6 ESV

Reflection:

King George III of England was troubled with mental illness at different times during his reign. He would become agitated and unable to concentrate on his work as king. He talked very quickly, sometimes until he had foam running out of his mouth, but he didn’t always make sense. His vision was blurred and he couldn’t sleep well.  Doctors at that time didn’t know what caused it or how to treat it. They did things such as making him bleed or keeping him in an unheated room during the cold of winter. They gave him medicines, and tied him in a chair if he was being difficult. The first time this happened, King George went away to a private palace to be treated. The people were thinking of removing him from being the king and having his son rule instead, but soon the king recovered. King George and his people were happy and thanked God for his recovery. They had services of thanksgiving to God in some of the churches in England when their king came back.

King Nebuchadnezzar also recovered from his mental illness after a time. One day, when he knew he was better, he looked up to the sky and thanked the God of Heaven for his recovery. He returned to his palace in Babylon, and his people accepted him back as their king. God gave Nebuchadnezzar even more power and glory than he had had before. The Lord had judged him for his pride, and the king learned to be humble and to give thanks and glory to the true God for everything that he was and everything that he had.

We all have a terrible problem, sin, that separates us from God and from other people. We can’t help ourselves, but instead we need God’s help to be healed from the sin in our lives. God sent Jesus to be our Savior, and Jesus took all our sins on himself at the cross. He died to take our penalty for sin, and rose again to destroy the power of sin and death. Because of Jesus, we are free from sin and able to love and serve him and other people. We give thanks to God for all the good things he has done for us, and for all the blessings he gives us every day.

Prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father, Thank you for Jesus, our Savior, and for all the good things you give us every day. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Source:

http://www.history.org/foundation/journal/spring10/king.cfm

Wanting to Be God

Bible:

All this came upon King Nebuchadnezzar. At the end of twelve months he was walking on the roof of the royal palace of Babylon, and the king answered and said, “Is not this great Babylon, which I have built by my mighty power as a royal residence and for the glory of my majesty?” While the words were still in the king’s mouth, there fell a voice from heaven, “O King Nebuchadnezzar, to you it is spoken: The kingdom has departed from you, and you shall be driven from among men, and your dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field. And you shall be made to eat grass like an ox, and seven periods of time shall pass over you, until you know that the Most High rules the kingdom of men and gives it to whom he will.” Immediately the word was fulfilled against Nebuchadnezzar. He was driven from among men and ate grass like an ox, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven till his hair grew as long as eagles’ feathers, and his nails were like birds’ claws. Daniel 4:28-33 ESV

Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made.

He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’” But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate. Genesis 3:1-6 ESV

Reflection:

Once there was a poor fisherman who caught a fish one day, and to his surprise found out that the fish could talk. The fish said that he was a magic fish, and that if the fisherman would let him go, he would grant him any wish. The fisherman let the fish go without wishing for anything, but when his wife found out about this, she was very angry. She didn’t like living in their poor shack, and wanted a cottage instead. The fisherman went to the seashore and called the fish and told him his wife’s wish, and the fish gave them a cottage. But the fisherman’s wife wasn’t happy with that. She wanted a mansion, and when the fish gave her that, she wanted a palace, and then she wanted to be the queen, and then the empress, and then the pope. The fish granted her all of these wishes, one after the other. But the fisherman’s wife still wasn’t happy. She saw the sun rising in the morning and setting in the evening, and knew that she wasn’t in control of that. So she had one more wish–to be God. But this was too much to wish for, and when the fisherman told the fish this wish, he went back to find that he and his wife were back in their poor little shack.

This is only a story, but it’s a little bit like what Nebuchadnezzar did. God had given him more and more power and glory in his kingdom, and a beautiful palace to live in, and an empire that extended over much of the known world. But Nebuchadnezzar was very proud. He thought that he had done everything by himself, and that there could be no end to his own power and glory. Nebuchadnezzar had made himself into a god, and he didn’t feel as if he needed the true God’s help and blessing. The Lord wouldn’t let that kind of pride and arrogance stand, so he judged Nebuchadnezzar by making him ill in his mind. The mighty king started thinking and acting like an animal, and he was driven from his palace and went out to the fields to live. He ate grass and got wet with the morning dew after sleeping in the field each night, and his hair grew long and shaggy and his fingernails and toenails got longer and longer so that they were like claws. The Lord was teaching Nebuchadnezzar to be more humble and to give glory to the true God.

We are all like Nebuchadnezzar sometimes. Our first parents sinned in the Garden of Eden because they wanted to be like God. They wanted to be in control of their own lives and do things their own way, instead of obeying God and following his ways. Just as Nebuchadnezzar was driven out of his palace, Adam and Eve were driven out of the garden. When we sin, we are also saying that we want to be God. We don’t want to give the Lord glory, and we don’t want to obey him, but instead we want to go our own way and do our own thing. God’s judgment falls on the sin of pride, but the Lord provided an escape for us when he sent Jesus to be our Savior and to die for us on the cross. Because of Jesus, God forgives us all our sins of pride and disobedience, and he sends us his Holy Spirit to help us give glory to our Lord and follow his ways. We will live with him in his heavenly kingdom, a kingdom more glorious than any human person can build, and a kingdom that will last forever.

Prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father, please teach us to be humble and to give you all the glory. Thank you for forgiving our sins through Jesus, our Savior. In His Name, Amen.