A Jealous Brother


“Now his older son was in the field, and as he came and drew near to the house, he heard music and dancing. And he called one of the servants and asked what these things meant. And he said to him, ‘Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fattened calf, because he has received him back safe and sound.’ But he was angry and refused to go in. His father came out and entreated him, but he answered his father, ‘Look, these many years I have served you, and I never disobeyed your command, yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours came, who has devoured your property with prostitutes, you killed the fattened calf for him!’ And he said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. It was fitting to celebrate and be glad, for this your brother was dead, and is alive; he was lost, and is found.’” Luke 15:25-32 ESV

And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. Ephesians 4:30-32 ESV


George Bailey was always a good, dutiful man. When he was a boy, his younger brother fell into some icy water and almost drowned, but George jumped in and pulled him out. Because of that, he lost the hearing in one ear, and when he grew up and there was a war he wasn’t allowed to fight because of his bad ear. He had to stay home and watch his brother go to war and become a hero. George’s brother left their small town after the war to follow his dreams, but George stayed home and continued to do what he thought was right, even though he also had dreams of traveling and of becoming an engineer. Those dreams didn’t come true, and later, when George was in trouble, he felt as if his whole life had been pointless. He was ready to jump off a bridge and kill himself, but then an angel came and showed him how much his life had meant to many of the people in town. When George went home, everyone was ready to help him with his problem, and he realized that his life had great value and joy.

This is only a story, but George is a little bit like the older brother in the story Jesus continued to tell. The older brother in the story didn’t take his inheritance from his father and run away. He stayed home and worked with his father and always did what he thought was right. He might have sometimes felt jealous of the fun he thought his younger brother was having, and when his brother came home and his father threw him a party, he was so angry and jealous that he wouldn’t join the celebration. His father came out to talk to him, gently and patiently. The father said that the older son had always been with his father, and that everything his father had was his. He tried to show his son that his life had great value and joy because he had stayed home with him. The father pleaded with him to understand his joy over his younger son, who had caused him so much grief and now come home again. The father wanted the older son to share that joy, just as he shared everything else with him.

We are sometimes like the older brother. We try to live lives faithful to God and his ways, but we don’t always realize what value and joy our lives have because we live our lives with the Lord. We might even feel jealous of people who go their own way and don’t care about God. When one of these people comes to know the love of our Heavenly Father through what Jesus has done for us on the cross, we might even feel jealous. We don’t want to forgive them, because we forget how much love and forgiveness the Lord gives us every day because of Jesus. But our Heavenly Father pleads with us patiently and gently to be ready to love and forgive everyone who comes home to him, the same way that he forgives us. He wants us to share in the joy of his mercy and grace for all people, now and forever.


Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for the life we have with you. Help us to love and welcome everyone that you bring home to your family. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.


Capra, Frank, dir. It’s a Wonderful Life RKO Radio Pictures, 1946. Film.


Three Enemies


[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


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.


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



We Are Children of God


[Jesus said:]  Pray then like this:

Our Father who art in heaven . . . ” Matthew 6:9a RSV

See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. I John 3:1a ESV

But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God. Galatians 4:4-7 ESV


A mother brought her little girl to see Santa Claus at a department store. The mother stood close by and told Santa that her daughter was Dutch, and didn’t speak English. The little girl had lost her family in the Netherlands during the war, and now this American mother had adopted her. Santa Claus was able to speak Dutch, and he asked the little girl in that language what she wanted for Christmas. The little girl replied that she didn’t want anything. She said that she already had received her gift when she had been adopted by her new mother. After the terror and sorrow of the war, this little girl wanted nothing more than to be at home and loved by a new family and to have a mother to take care of her again.

When Jesus taught his followers how to pray, he started out by saying that we should call God “Father.” He said that God is our Father in heaven, and that it’s okay for us to call him that. This means that God loves and cares for us the way a good father on earth does, but because he’s our Heavenly Father he can do so much more for us than any father on earth can do. When we say “our” Father, it reminds us that we have many, many brothers and sisters, and that we’re part of the huge family of God, made of everyone who believes in Jesus. We all pray together with and for each other when we pray the prayer that Jesus taught us.

We were all like this little girl visiting Santa Claus. We had lost our Heavenly Father by our sin and rebellion, and we were alone in our sorrow and fears. But God sent Jesus to be our Savior and our Brother, and Jesus died on the cross for us so that all our sins could be forgiven. Because of Jesus, we now are God’s children forever, and we can come to our Heavenly Father in prayer every day and know that he will hear us and help us and forgive us.


Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for loving us and making us your children. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.





[Jesus said:] “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.” Matthew 5:9 ESV

How beautiful upon the mountains
are the feet of him who brings good news,
who publishes peace, who brings good news of happiness,
who publishes salvation,
who says to Zion, “Your God reigns.” Isaiah 52:7 ESV


Many years ago a Swedish man named Alfred Nobel was interested in working for peace in the world. It is interesting that he wanted to see less war between nations, because he was an armaments manufacturer, but maybe he saw the terrible weapons of war that were being developed and hoped they would never be used. He left provisions in his will for a person to receive a prize every year for increasing peace in the world by promoting brotherhood between nations and reducing standing armies, and with a few exceptions every year someone is given the Nobel Peace Prize. Henry Dunant, who helped establish the International Red Cross, won the first Nobel Peace Prize. Many people have won since then, including Martin Luther King, Jr., and Mother Teresa. Sometimes people don’t like or agree with the person who was chosen for the award, and after many years of Nobel Peace Prizes, there still is war in the world.

Jesus said that peacemakers would be called the sons, or children, of God. He knew the reality of sin and darkness and evil in the world, and it is pleasing to God to work for greater peace and understanding between people. But Jesus had in mind another kind of peace, a peace between people and God. The same evil that causes war and violence between nations and groups in the world also causes a separation between people and God. People who help others make peace with God are truly blessed and doing the greatest work of God in this world.

Jesus was the great peacemaker between us and our Heavenly Father. He took all our sin and evil on himself, and he took it to the cross with him. He defeated evil and all the forces of darkness by dying on the cross and rising again from the dead. Jesus brings us peace with God by forgiving our sins and bringing us back to the love of our Heavenly Father. He gives his people the job of sharing the good news of his love and forgiveness with all the people of the world. When people come to know Jesus as Savior, they have peace with God. Having peace with God makes us want to work for peace between people in this world as well. We know that the work of peace will never be complete until Jesus returns, but we have his forgiveness and help to go with us every day until the world ends.


Dear Jesus, thank you for giving us peace with God. Please help us to be peacemakers, especially by sharing your good news. Amen.



My Word Will Stand


Jeremiah said to all the people and all the women, “Hear the word of the Lord, all you of Judah who are in the land of Egypt. Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: You and your wives have declared with your mouths, and have fulfilled it with your hands, saying, ‘We will surely perform our vows that we have made, to make offerings to the queen of heaven and to pour out drink offerings to her.’ Then confirm your vows and perform your vows! Therefore hear the word of the Lord, all you of Judah who dwell in the land of Egypt: Behold, I have sworn by my great name, says the Lord, that my name shall no more be invoked by the mouth of any man of Judah in all the land of Egypt, saying, ‘As the Lord God lives.’ Behold, I am watching over them for disaster and not for good. All the men of Judah who are in the land of Egypt shall be consumed by the sword and by famine, until there is an end of them. And those who escape the sword shall return from the land of Egypt to the land of Judah, few in number; and all the remnant of Judah, who came to the land of Egypt to live, shall know whose word will stand, mine or theirs.” Jeremiah 44:24-28 ESV

A voice says, “Cry!”
And I said, “What shall I cry?”
All flesh is grass,
and all its beauty is like the flower of the field.
The grass withers, the flower fades
when the breath of the Lord blows on it;
surely the people are grass.
The grass withers, the flower fades,
but the word of our God will stand forever. Isaiah 40:6-8 ESV


In 1784 a Frenchman named Jacques-Louis David painted a picture called, “The Oath of the Horatii.” This painting is set in ancient Rome, and it shows a father holding up three swords to his three sons. The three sons are raising their right arms to take an oath that they will do their duty to the family and the State, even if they have to die in doing that duty. The three young men are grim and determined, but off to the side of the picture are some women, wives or sisters of the three brothers. They are pictures of tragedy and sadness, because they know how much the men’s oath will cost their family. One of them is a wife who came from the enemy family, the Curatii, and another one is a sister who is engaged to the enemy family. They can see nothing but grief to come.

When Jeremiah warned his people in Egypt of the coming judgment of God, he also talked about solemn oaths. The people had taken a vow that they would serve the queen of heaven and pour out offerings to her, and they were determined to keep that vow, even though it was going to give them only sadness and death and trouble. God gave his word through Jeremiah that he would judge them for their rebellion. The Lord swore by his own great name that they would almost all die in war or in famine, until only a very small number of them would be left. That small group would straggle back to the land of Judah, and they would know that the promises and the word of the Lord would stand, but not their own weak vows.

The word of the Lord will always stand, and that is both bad news and good news for us. It’s bad news because God promises that he will judge sin, and we are all sinners who deserve his anger and judgment. But God also has a word of mercy that he gives us through Jesus. The Lord’s judgment for sin was all poured out on Jesus at the cross, and everyone who believes in Jesus has God’s love and forgiveness. God’s mercy for us is guaranteed by his promise that nothing in all the universe can separate us from his love, and we can count on that word, now and always.


Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for your word of mercy to us. Help us to trust in that word for now and always. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.


Cumming, Robert Annotated Art London: Dorling Kindersley Limited, 1995, pp. 70-71.

By the Waters of Babylon


By the waters of Babylon,
there we sat down and wept,
when we remembered Zion.
On the willows there
we hung up our lyres.
For there our captors
required of us songs,
and our tormentors, mirth, saying,
“Sing us one of the songs of Zion!”

How shall we sing the Lord‘s song
in a foreign land?
If I forget you, O Jerusalem,
let my right hand forget its skill!
Let my tongue stick to the roof of my mouth,
if I do not remember you,
if I do not set Jerusalem
above my highest joy! Psalm 137:1-6 ESV

By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he went to live in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, heirs with him of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God.

These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city. Hebrews 11:8-10, 13-16 ESV


There’s a song about a young man from Nova Scotia who has been called off to war. He is very sad to leave his home, and all his friends, and his aged parents. He thinks about the sweetheart he has to leave behind, and the graves of his three brothers. He says that he has no rest as he is tossed on the dark sea, thinking about his homeland. The chorus of the song is:

Farewell to Nova Scotia, you seabound coast
Let your mountains dark and dreary be
For when I am far away on the brimy ocean tossed
Will you ever heave a sigh or a wish for me?

It can be very sad to be forced to be far away from home and to miss the people and the places you love. The psalm we read talks about the exiles from Jerusalem living in Babylon and weeping for their home. The Babylonians were demanding that they sing a song from their own country, and they didn’t want to, because it would make them feel heartbroken. Instead, they hung up their lyres on the willow trees by the water and cried. They didn’t want to forget Jerusalem or to let themselves be happy in a foreign land. Their temple had been destroyed, and God felt very far away from them.

God’s people felt as if they had lost the Lord when they lost Jerusalem and the temple. They couldn’t see beyond their earthly homeland to the homeland God has prepared for all his people everywhere. Many years before, Abraham had left his homeland to go to the promised land, but in faith he knew that the land the Lord had promised to his descendants was only a picture of the better country in heaven. Abraham saw this country by faith, and through Jesus we share the same faith and the same promise from God. Jesus came to be near his people and to open heaven to everyone in the world who believes in him. He died for us so that our sins could be forgiven, and he is with us every day. We know that, even though we are far from our heavenly home now, we will someday live there with our Lord forever.


Dear Jesus, thank you for being with us every day and for the promise of our heavenly home. Amen.



True and False Prophets


Then the prophet Jeremiah spoke to Hananiah the prophet in the presence of the priests and all the people who were standing in the house of the Lord, and the prophet Jeremiah said, “Amen! May the Lord do so; may the Lord make the words that you have prophesied come true, and bring back to this place from Babylon the vessels of the house of the Lord, and all the exiles. Yet hear now this word that I speak in your hearing and in the hearing of all the people. The prophets who preceded you and me from ancient times prophesied war, famine, and pestilence against many countries and great kingdoms. As for the prophet who prophesies peace, when the word of that prophet comes to pass, then it will be known that the Lord has truly sent the prophet.”

Then the prophet Hananiah took the yoke-bars from the neck of Jeremiah the prophet and broke them. And Hananiah spoke in the presence of all the people, saying, “Thus says the Lord: Even so will I break the yoke of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon from the neck of all the nations within two years.” But Jeremiah the prophet went his way. Jeremiah 28:5-11 ESV

Answer me when I call, O God of my righteousness!
You have given me relief when I was in distress.
Be gracious to me and hear my prayer!

O men, how long shall my honor be turned into shame?
How long will you love vain words and seek after lies?
But know that the Lord has set apart the godly for himself;
the Lord hears when I call to him.

Be angry, and do not sin;
ponder in your own hearts on your beds, and be silent. Psalm 4:1-4 ESV


One invention that made war an even more terrible thing than it had been before is the machine gun. The machine gun made it possible to quickly and automatically shoot many rounds of ammunition at the enemy. It completely changed how World War I was fought, because to protect themselves from machine gun fire soldiers dug themselves into trenches. But the interesting thing about machine guns is that their inventor, Hiram Maxim, thought that they would bring peace. When people asked him if his invention would make war more terrible and cruel, he said instead that it would make war impossible. Many people believed this. They thought that the death and suffering a machine gun could cause would make nations want to work for peace and avoid getting involved in such cruel warfare. But this was a lie, unfortunately. Wars continue to happen, and more and more cruel inventions make them even more devastating.

When Hananiah told the people that within two years God would return the true king and all the exiles to their own country, many people believed him. Hananiah even broke the wooden yoke that Jeremiah had made to give the people a picture of obeying the Babylonian empire. Jeremiah wished that what Hananiah said was true, because of course he wanted his people to know happier times. But Jeremiah said that the only way to tell if a prophet was telling the truth is if what he predicted would come true. Jeremiah knew that the truth was that the people were under God’s judgment, and that there would be more war and trouble to come. Jeremiah was a true prophet of the Lord, but he didn’t argue with Hananiah. He simply walked away, and he left Hananiah and his lies in God’s hands.

We sometimes want to believe lies that are positive and happy. We want to believe that through our own efforts we can bring an end to war, or cure all the sicknesses in the world, or even put an end to death. But these are lies, because only God can do these things. God came to us in Jesus to destroy sin and death and all the forces of evil forever by dying on the cross and rising again. Because of what Jesus did for us, we know that we will live forever in his heavenly kingdom, where there won’t be any more sickness or death or war. In the meantime, it pleases God if we work to heal sickness and pain and to bring peace. We shouldn’t be surprised or worried, though, when we see war and evil and disease, and we can be confident that God will bring all our suffering to an end in his time. We can leave it all in God’s hands.


Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for sending Jesus to destroy sin and death and evil, and help us to trust you to work for good in our broken world. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.



A Strong City


In that day this song will be sung in the land of Judah:

“We have a strong city;
he sets up salvation
as walls and bulwarks.
Open the gates,
that the righteous nation that keeps faith may enter in.
You keep him in perfect peace
whose mind is stayed on you,
because he trusts in you.
Trust in the Lord forever,
for the Lord God is an everlasting rock.
For he has humbled
the inhabitants of the height,
the lofty city.
He lays it low, lays it low to the ground,
casts it to the dust.
The foot tramples it,
the feet of the poor,
the steps of the needy.” Isaiah 26:1-6 ESV

God is our refuge and strength,
a very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way,
though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam,
though the mountains tremble at its swelling. 

There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
the holy habitation of the Most High.
God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved;
God will help her when morning dawns.
The nations rage, the kingdoms totter;
he utters his voice, the earth melts.
The Lord of hosts is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress. Psalm 46:1-7 ESV


The ancient city of Xian, in China, has a wall around it that is 40 feet tall, at least 40 feet wide around the top, and 50 to 60 feet wide around the bottom. Along the wall there are 98 ramparts, which were built so that soldiers could keep watch for an enemy that might attack the city. On the outer side of the top of the wall there are battlements from which soldier also could keep watch for and shoot at the enemy. Around the outside of the city wall there is a deep moat. There are four gates built into the wall, one on each side, and each gate has three gate towers and a suspension bridge for letting people into and out of the city over the moat. The city walls of Xian were originally made of dirt, but later they were rebuilt with bricks. The people of Xian would have felt very safe with such a strong fortress surrounding their city.

The prophet Isaiah talked about a strong city with walls and bulwarks and gates that are wide open so that God’s people can come in. The foundation of the city is God himself, their everlasting rock. God has defeated the enemies of his people who had threatened them, and even the poorest and neediest are able to trample their enemies and share in their defeat. People who come into this city are safe and at peace. God is a wall around them, and they are so secure that they don’t have to worry about their enemies hurting them ever again.

There is no city on earth that can ever be completely safe from the attack of enemies and the destruction of war, but there is one safe place where no enemy can hurt us and we can be in perfect peace. That safe place is with God, who loves us and protects us from everything that threatens us. Even when we have troubles, we can know that God is with us and will keep us close to him always. He sent his Son Jesus to die for us and to defeat our greatest enemies of all–sin and death and the devil. Because of what Jesus did for us, we are safe in his care, no matter what happens to us. Someday he will bring us to his heavenly kingdom where there will be no more death or pain, and we will be happy and at peace forever.


Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for giving us safety and peace through Jesus, our Savior. In His Name, Amen.



A Very Good King


Uzziah was sixteen years old when he began to reign, and he reigned fifty-two years in Jerusalem.

He went out and made war against the Philistines and broke through the wall of Gath and the wall of Jabneh and the wall of Ashdod, and he built cities in the territory of Ashdod and elsewhere among the Philistines. God helped him against the Philistines and against the Arabians who lived in Gurbaal and against the Meunites. The Ammonites paid tribute to Uzziah, and his fame spread even to the border of Egypt, for he became very strong. Moreover, Uzziah built towers in Jerusalem at the Corner Gate and at the Valley Gate and at the Angle, and fortified them. And he built towers in the wilderness and cut out many cisterns, for he had large herds, both in the Shephelah and in the plain, and he had farmers and vinedressers in the hills and in the fertile lands, for he loved the soil. Moreover, Uzziah had an army of soldiers, fit for war, in divisions according to the numbers in the muster made by Jeiel the secretary and Maaseiah the officer, under the direction of Hananiah, one of the king’s commanders. The whole number of the heads of fathers’ houses of mighty men of valor was 2,600. Under their command was an army of 307,500, who could make war with mighty power, to help the king against the enemy. And Uzziah prepared for all the army shields, spears, helmets, coats of mail, bows, and stones for slinging. In Jerusalem he made machines, invented by skillful men, to be on the towers and the corners, to shoot arrows and great stones. And his fame spread far, for he was marvelously helped, till he was strong. II Chronicles 26:3a, 6-15 ESV

Give the king your justice, O God,
and your righteousness to the royal son!
May he judge your people with righteousness,
and your poor with justice!
Let the mountains bear prosperity for the people,
and the hills, in righteousness!
May he defend the cause of the poor of the people,
give deliverance to the children of the needy,
and crush the oppressor!

May they fear you while the sun endures,
and as long as the moon, throughout all generations!
May he be like rain that falls on the mown grass,
like showers that water the earth!
In his days may the righteous flourish,
and peace abound, till the moon be no more! Psalm 72:1-7 ESV


Many, many years ago a man named Alfred ruled in Wessex, which is part of today’s England. It was a time of war with Viking raiders, who were plundering the coasts of England and building their own settlements there. Alfred built a fortified base against Vikings that had settled in his area of England, then he defeated them in battle. Alfred became a great king. He made peace with the other Viking settlements, built more fortresses and strengthened his armies, and gained territory for his kingdom. He also promoted education and learning among his people. Today people call this king Alfred the Great.

Long before King Alfred, Uzziah was the king of the southern kingdom of Judah. He was from David’s line, and he was a great king like his ancestor David. He strengthened his armies and won battles against the Philistines and other nations. His kingdom was so strong that some nations paid tribute to him, and even the nation of Egypt heard about his fame. Uzziah built fortresses to strengthen and defend his country, and he even invented some war machinery to shoot arrows and sling huge stones at the enemy. But Uzziah wasn’t only a man of war. He also loved his land, and he did a lot to strengthen farming in his kingdom. He built cisterns to supply water for his herds of animals and he had fields of grain and vineyards of grapes. Times of peace gave him a chance to make his country strong and prosperous.

Great kings in David’s line were a gift of God to his people, and they also pointed ahead to the one great King who was coming. God had said that the promised Savior would come from David’s line and would be the greatest king of all. Jesus is our promised Savior, but when he came he didn’t have an army or fields of grain. He went to battle by himself against the biggest enemies of his people, sin and death. He defeated all the forces of evil by dying on the cross and rising again from the dead. Everyone who believes in Jesus is part of his kingdom, and he rules us with his love. One day he will come back and take us to his heavenly kingdom, a kingdom that will last forever.


Dear Jesus, thank you for being our great and good king. Amen.




Sounding a Warning


Hear this word that the Lord has spoken against you, O people of Israel, against the whole family that I brought up out of the land of Egypt:

“You only have I known
of all the families of the earth;
therefore I will punish you
for all your iniquities.

Is a trumpet blown in a city,
and the people are not afraid?
Does disaster come to a city,
unless the Lord has done it?” Amos 3:1-2, 6 ESV

The Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “Make two silver trumpets. Of hammered work you shall make them, and you shall use them for summoning the congregation and for breaking camp. . . . And when you go to war in your land against the adversary who oppresses you, then you shall sound an alarm with the trumpets, that you may be remembered before the Lord your God, and you shall be saved from your enemies. Numbers 10:1-2, 9 ESV


In the United States many years ago, if there was a disaster and the people in a city or area needed to be warned, the city or town officials would order the bells to ring. If all the bells in a town were ringing, people from miles around would hear them and know there was a problem. Later on, bells were replaced by sirens. During World War II sirens became very common all around the country. People would listen for sirens to know if there was any danger from an attack. Sirens continued to be used after the war because people in the United States were worried about nuclear bombs, and these alarms were ready to sound if there was a need to try to escape danger. Sirens also can be used to warn people about a weather disaster such as a tornado or a tsunami. Nowadays sirens aren’t used so much because many people have cell phones and other electronic devices to get important information quickly.

In Bible times, trumpets were used as signals and warnings for people. Blowing the trumpets often meant that a city or an area was under attack. If people heard the trumpets blowing, they would feel afraid, knowing that there was danger and violence coming. Amos used the picture of trumpets to talk about the disaster that God was bringing to his people Israel because of their sins. He talked about how God had loved his people and brought them out of Egypt, but they had turned against him and stopped following his ways. God was going to punish his people for their sins, and they had reason to feel the same fear that people felt when trumpets were blowing because a city was under attack.

Trumpets are a picture of warning and disaster and punishment for sins. God’s word, the Bible, is like a trumpet for us. In the Bible we read and hear about God’s laws and the punishment for breaking his laws. We know that we also deserve disaster because of our sins. But God loves us, and he gives us a way to escape the disaster our sins would have brought to us. He sent Jesus to die on the cross for us and take away our sins. Because of Jesus, God forgives our sins every day and keeps us safe from the disaster of his punishment. Someday, this world will end, and one final trumpet will sound. We don’t have to be afraid of this trumpet, because for everyone who believes in Jesus this trumpet will be the beginning of life forever with God in his heavenly kingdom.


Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for sending Jesus to keep us safe from the disaster of our sins. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.