Friday, December 28, 2012

The Big Give

Do you know what the big give is? It's Jesus. God loved the world so much that He gave His only Son so that whoever believes in Him will not perish but have everlasting life (John 3:16). It amazes me to think that God loves us so much that He gave . . . He gave His only Son.

What do you do when you love someone a whole lot? Since we are created in God's image, I think it is natural for us to want to give. What will you give to God for such a Great Gift?

I've thought about this a lot and I decided a long time ago to give God my life. In return He gave me a purpose and that is to love others. Every day I have to pray that He will teach me to love as He loves and that He will help me become more like Jesus. Sometimes, though, I feel like Paul in the New Testament. He said he was the worst of sinners. How could God be pleased with my gift?

You know what? He takes my sin away and makes something beautiful grow in me. I cannot describe how wonderful that makes me feel. He uses the ugly things I've done to redeem others who have traveled similar paths to mine. I am glad I can encourage others who have had the same doubts and troubles I've had.

Think About It
I hope you will respond to God's Big Give by giving back to Him. Here are some suggestions:
Love others.
Give a helping hand.
Give a smile or a hug.
Give an offering.
Don't play favorites.
Be a friend to a lonely person.
Obey your parents.

Pray About It
Father God, thank you for giving us Your Son. Help us to love as you do and show us to be more like Jesus. Amen.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Christmas in Heaven

While we anticipate the glory of giving and receiving gifts in a few days, twenty children from Newtown, Connecticut will spend Christmas with Jesus. Last week they enjoyed the ribbons and wrappings under their Christmas tree, and as the time grew closer, they thought about what Santa might bring them. Maybe they planned to bake cookies for him and leave a few carrots for his reindeer.

Christmas this year will be more exciting than any Christmas they ever had, because they will be in the loving arms of Jesus, our Lord. But their parents and grandparents and brothers and sisters will grieve this Christmas. The lights and tinsel will not mean the same. Their hearts are broken because a man under Satan's control killed the precious children in their families. My heart is broken too. Will you pray with me?

Lord Jesus, thank you that these children are home in Heaven with you. Thank you that they will cry no more tears and have no more hurts. But, Lord God, we pray for those they left behind. Comfort them with your love. Soothe their aching hearts and give them your peace. Amen.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Where is Your Pot of Gold?

I will tell you a secret. Once upon a time many years ago, I was a scuba diver and dreamed about finding lost treasures in the sea. Sunken ships still fascinate me and deep inside I would like to put on a wet suit, mask, regulator and oxygen tank to search for my pot of gold.

During the Christmas season, it's easy for me to be distracted when I shop for presents to give to my family and friends. That's because I find a lot of things I'd like to have.

Jesus said, "Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also" Matthew 6:21.

Did you know when we get to heaven, the streets will be made of gold? The stuff we think is so valuable today will be the ground we walk on. Wow! We won't be thinking about finding our treasure because Jesus will be our treasure. Did you know you are His treasure? He risked everything for you, His very life, so you could live with Him forever.

Think About It

When I think of all Jesus did for me, I want to respond by giving back to Him, but how? 1 Peter 4:7-10 has the answer: "Let us love each other deeply. Let us offer hospitality to each other without complaint and let us use whatever  spiritual gifts we have to serve each other faithfully." 

Pray About It

Lord Jesus, I know it isn't all about me and my things. Help me to focus on You, Your love for me and how I can share your love with others. Amen.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Are You Kidding Me?

Maggie says, "Are you kidding me?"
Christmas is a time to believe, a time to love and share. Many people say they don't believe in God or in Santa or Christmas. Are you kidding me? Who can hold a newborn baby or experience a miracle and not believe in a God who loves and cares about them? What kid doesn't get excited about the tinsel and ribbon under the tree?

Yesterday I helped second graders with their Christmas shopping in the school store. Several times before the children entered the room with the tables of merchandise, teachers admonished, "This is the time to shop for people in your family, not for yourself."

One by one as the kids filled their bags, I led them to a table in the lunch room where we waited for the last minute shoppers to finish. One little boy played with a toy he purchased. "Whose that for?" I asked.

"Me," he said.

"You weren't supposed to shop for yourself," I replied.

"I know." He smiled.

How many of us are guilty of buying for ourselves while we shop for Christmas? I have to confess I am as guilty as the little boy. Yet, I find more joy in wrapping gifts for others, than in satisfaction of buying things for myself.

Think About It
Jesus said, "It is more joyful to give than to receive." Although it is challenging, it is a lesson worth learning. There is a pair of fur lined shoes I'd like to have, but this year, I choose not to think about them. When I see their picture in ads, I delete them off my e-mail, and switch my thinking to others and what I can do for them.

Pray About It
Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief when I am tempted to act selfishly. Help me to trust you to set priorities and make good decisions. Amen.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

God's Gift to You

Do you know what God's gift to you is? It's His love wrapped up in Jesus. He sent His only Son into the world to teach us how to live and then to die on the cross to take away our sins. God doesn't like sin, the things we do wrong. There is no sin where He lives in heaven. To make it possible for us to live forever with Him, Jesus died on the cross for our sins. But He didn't stay dead. He rose from the grave, victorious over sin, death and Satan. Our life with God starts the moment we believe in Jesus as our Savior.

What is the best gift you can give back to God? It's your heart overflowing with love for Him so that it spills on the people close to us. That's how others will come to want God's love.

Think About It
Jesus gave all He had, His life for you. Will you give your life to Him? He will never leave you or forsake you. He hears your prayers and heals your hurts. He wants to be your Best Friend Forever (BFF).

Pray About It
Thank you, Father God, for your gift of love in Jesus. Help me to be more like Him. Teach me your ways and lead me along your paths. Amen.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

All You Got

Kurt Marton-October 2012
Timothy's grandma, Lois, and his mom, Eunice, taught him about Jesus. He learned to love the truth and was not afraid to talk about the good news of forgiveness. Paul, an apostle, told Timothy, "Don't let anyone look down on you because you are young. Set an example for the believers in what you say and how you live" 1 Timothy 4:12.

Remember not to let people look down on you. God gave you special talents and abilities. Some people are good at sports and others in music and others in knowledge. Whatever you do, give it all you got.

My grandson, Kurt, is great at baseball and has won the respect of his coach and peers at the early age of seven. I think some day we might see him on a professional team, and I'll be able to say, "I knew you before you were famous."

Think About It
God made each of us special. Do you know what your specialty is? A better question is, what do you like to do? Most likely you are good at it. Consider this verse. Whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. 1 Corinthians 10:30-32. That is what Jesus did. He glorified God in all He did. He gave all He had--even His very own life so you could experience God's love and forgiveness.

Pray About it

Thank you, Lord Jesus, that you made each of us in Your image and each of us different. Help us to find out what we are good at and use it to bring you glory.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Go and Tell - Matthew 28:18-20

Sue Tornai and her dog, Maggie, with Chicken Soup's Finding
My Faith Book, September 30, 2012
Jesus said, "Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,"
Matthew 28:18-20 (in Context) Matthew 28.

I don't know about you, but I take Jesus' words very seriously. That is why I teach Sunday school and write stories about God's love. My story, "The Promise," is one of 101 heart-moving, life-changing stories in Chicken Soup's Finding My Faith book. and last week my honorarium books arrived! Those are books the publisher gives the authors.

If you would like your copy of Chicken Soup's Finding My Faith book, it will be released October 16, 2012 in paperback and Kindle formats.

Think About It
How do you tell people about God's love? I would like to know your story. Please leave it in a comments box and email me your contact information at I would like your permission to put it on my blog. Tell me how it makes you feel when God uses you. It is an awesome feeling for me.

Pray About It
Lord Jesus, I pray that this book will touch hearts and lives for You. May Your Holy Spirit use the inspirational stories about life, belief and spiritual renewal to demonstrate your amazing love. Amen.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

How Many Times Should I Forgive?

Has one of your friends or someone in your family done something that hurt you? Really hurt you? Does it seem like it's impossible to look at that person or talk to him? Do think you could be friends again? Do you know what to do? Peter asked Jesus this question. Check this out from Matthew 18:21:

Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?”

Jesus answered, I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times."

Do you think Peter counted all the times someone did him wrong so he could find justification at seventy-seven times? I don't think so. I think forgiveness became a lifestyle and it must be our lifestyle too. Jesus died so we could be forgiven. If you have known forgiveness, you will want others to know it too.

We can say out loud that we forgive, but what is happening in our hearts? Here are seven ways to forgive from your heart:
  1. Choose not to tell anyone how your friend hurt you. This is hard. Can you trust one person who will encourage you whom you know will not tell anyone? Ask God to help you.
  2. Be pleasant around the person who hurt you.
  3. If you talk to the person, do all you can to free him from guilt. Jesus said in Luke 6:31, "Do to others as you would have them do to you."
  4. Do not remind them how much they hurt you. Once you have forgiven, you must behave as though you don't think your friend did anything wrong.
  5. Encourage your friend by showing compassion.
  6. Some days might be easier than other days to forgive. Keep forgiving. It's not easy, but God is with you to help you.
  7. Pray for the one who hurt you. Jesus said, "Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you," Matthew 5:44. This doesn't mean, "Oh God, please deal with my friend and the pain he caused me." It means, "I pray for my friend, that You would give him peace, that he would know Your forgiveness and love."
"Forgiveness" is not a popular word in the world today. It wasn't popular when Jesus walked this earth either. That's why He came--to show us how to live, love and forgive. Without God's love, "forgiveness" is just another word.

Think About It
When we truly forgive those who hurt us, we act as Jesus would. That's how people will desire to know and love Him. Is there someone you need to forgive? Choose today to take these steps to show them Jesus' love.

Pray About It
Lord Jesus, I am sorry for my thoughts about my friend. I choose today to forgive, and I need your help to make it real and lasting. Amen.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Show Respect-Matthew 8:5-13

A Roman centurion went to the town of Capernaum and pleaded with Jesus to heal his servant who lay at home sick and in terrible agony. When Jesus got ready to go, the centurion said, "Oh Jesus, no! I'm not worthy to have You come under my roof. Just say the word and my servant will be well. I know, for I am a man of authority over soldiers. I say to this one come, and he comes, and to another go and he goes. And to my slave I say do this and he does."

When Jesus heard this, he was amazed and said to those following him, Truly I tell you, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith. 11 I say to you that many will come from the east and the west, and will take their places at the feast with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. 12 But the subjects of the kingdom will be thrown outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
13 Then Jesus said to the centurion, Go! Let it be done just as you believed it would.” And his servant was healed at that moment (Matthew 8:10-13).

Think About It
The centurion showed respect for Jesus when he humbled himself before Him saying he wasn't worthy to have Him come to his house and when He trusted Jesus by asking Him to heal his servant. Write down three ways you can show respect to Jesus; to your parents and teachers. Then practice them this week.

Pray About It
Lord Jesus, I love and worship you. Help me to show You, my parents and teachers respect. Thank you for Your faithfulness of being with me. Amen

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Back to School

Vacations - over. Books, notebooks, pencils, markers, backpacks, bikes, buses. It's back-to-school time. Memories of the summer fade under hard work and study.

Did you know Jesus didn't take a vacation? All the time He walked on earth, He taught people, even children, what the kingdom of God is like. He said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these,” Matthew 19:13-15.

I hope it makes you feel special to think that Jesus took children in His arms and blessed them on their birthdays. Wouldn't it be wonderful if that happened on your next birthday? Someday we will get to be with Jesus all the time. One day will be as special as the next.

Until then, we have school and homework to think about. A person who follows Jesus also does things He did. He worked hard helping His dad in the carpenter shop. He talked with the people in the temple and had compassion for those who were hungry and thirsty.

Whether we are on vacation or attending classes, we can do what Jesus said, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and Love your neighbor as yourself,” Luke 10:26-28.

Think About It
Discuss with your parents how you can take an active roll in showing love to others, whether it is people in your family, friends at school, on the playground or at church.

Pray About It
Lord Jesus, thank you for loving kids. Thank you for loving me and showing me how to love others. Amen.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Have Faith and Do Not Doubt

Early in the morning Jesus walked with His disciples toward Jerusalem. Seeing a fig tree, he went up to get some of its fruit but found none. It was not the time of year for it to bear fruit. Jesus said, "May you never bear fruit," and the tree withered.

The dried up tree astonished the disciples. Jesus smiled at them. "I assure you--if you have faith and do not doubt, you will also do what I did to the tree. Even more! You will be able to say to the mountain, 'throw yourself into the sea,' and it will do it. You will receive whatever you ask in prayer." (Matthew 21:16-22)

Think About It
Those who have hearts for God will want the same things He does. They know God is always with them--through the storms as well as the celebrations of life. Write down a prayer for this week about whatever is going on in your life, and pray it with your family or close friend.

Pray About It
Lord Jesus, I want to be more like you. Change my heart and help me do what you want me to do. I love you and I am yours. Amen.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Freedom Ain't Free

How many of you have someone in your family who is currently serving in harm's way? My dad served in the United States Air Force (USAF) and fought in the Korean war. The father of my kids served in the Viet Nam war, also with the USAF. More recently:
  • A niece served two times in Afghanistan with the United States Army.
  • A grandson served in the United States Coast Guard in the Persian Gulf.
  • A nephew served in the United States Army in Kuwait.
These men and women have been willing to give their lives for freedom. Many others have lost their lives. As you celebrate Independence Day this year, remember to pray for those who are still serving in harms way. If your mom or dad or another relative are currently serving at home or abroad, leave me a prayer request in "comments" and I would be happy to pray for them. Enjoy the parades, fireworks and food--and pray for our country, our freedom and our leaders.

"If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land" (2 Chronicles 7:14 NIV).

Father God, even as we see our freedom threatened, we know you are in control. As we humble ourselves and pray, we ask you to heal our land. Bring us back to you and give us your peace. Amen.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Dropping Your Guard

School is out and it's time for summer fun. What will you do? Where will you go?
Camping with your family?
Church, music or scout camp?
The city zoo?

Whatever you do, it's easy to drop your guard and become an easy target for temptation. How will you avoid getting off track this summer? Here are some tips:
  1. Read your devotions and pray every morning. Now is not the time to forget them. They help you remember to do the right things.
  2. Think of ways you can help people instead of thinking about yourself all the time.
  3. Read good books.
  4. Watch wholesome movies or TV.
  5. Be safe by being cautious. Slow down, put on sunscreen.
  6. Get plenty of rest.
  7. Eat right.
Think About It
No one wants to be around a grumpo. When we don't get enough rest or eat right, we get irritable. That's not fun for anyone. How will you practice thinking of other people this summer?

Pray About It
Thank you, Lord Jesus, for a break from school. Sometimes without the normal structure, life gets confusing and I forget to live for you. Help me not to drop my guard, but to be strong for you. Amen.

Friday, May 25, 2012

He's God the Whole World in His Hands

In troubling times like today, we may be tempted to think that God isn't paying attention. However, He is very much in control of what goes on in the world.

It's easy to focus on our financial problems, sickness, or troubled relationships, but be encouraged. We have a lot to be thankful for. Let's think about all our blessings. They are gifts from God and He has a plan for how we should use them.

I like to remember His plan for good stewardship with three S's:

We are good stewards when we serve God with our first fruits. That means the first part of every day, spending time talking with Him and reading His word. He gave each of us talents and abilities and we should consider how we can use them to serve God and others. All our money is a gift from God too and we please Him when we give at least the first 10% back to Him to spread the good news of the gospel and help other people around the world.

A good steward also saves 10% of the money he receives. This comes in handy when things break down and need to be replaced.

Check this out. We have 80% of our income to spend on paying bills, buying food, gas and clothes. You many not have bills yet, but as you grow older, they come in the mailbox for things that run your household.

Think About It
Do you receive an allowance? Begin now to be a good steward by using the three S's. It gets harder the longer you delay. If you receive a $10 allowance, serve God by offering $1 back to Him and savie $1. You'll still have $8 to spend.

Pray About It
Lord Jesus, help us to be good stewards of all the blessings you give us. Help us to share our time, talents and abilities to inspire people to love you. Amen.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Parable of Talents - Matt. 25:14-30

Before a man went away on a long journey he entrusted his possessions to people who worked for him. To one he gave five talents. To another two talents and another one talent.

Do you know what a talent is? During the time of Jesus, it was seventy five pounds of gold. That would be about fifteen years' pay for a soldier. Does that give you the big picture?

The first servant put his five talents to work and earned five more. The second earned two more. The last one buried his talent in the ground. When the man returned from his trip the ten and four talents impressed him and he said to the first two servants, "Well done, good and faithful servants."

Then the man turned to the third servant who said to him, "I know all about you. You're a difficult man, reaping where you haven't sown and gathering where you haven't scattered seed. I was afraid, so I buried your talent in the ground. Look, here is your talent."

This made the man furious! "You evil, lazy servant! So you know all about me? Why then didn't you at least put my money on deposit in a bank so it would earn interest?"

The Master of the three servants invited the first two to share in his joy and put them in charge of many things, but he took away the talent from the lazy servant and gave it to the one with ten talents. Then he threw him out of his presence and that's a terrible place of darkness and crying and grinding teeth. (Based on Matthew 25:14-30).

Think About It
As with all the parables Jesus told, there is an underlying truth in the story. The man who went on a journey is God and we are His servants. He gives each of us time, talents, abilities, and money. How would you feel if you gave someone a gift and they threw it away or failed to put it to use? Me too. I would feel hurt. That's how God feels when we don't use the gifts He gives us. We owe Him all we have because He gave all He had, His only Son, for us so we could live with Him forever. However, He is happy with our first fruits, whether it is time, talent, abilities or money. Write down the gifts God gave you. Then write down how you will use them this week to serve God and others

Pray About It
Father God, You are our Treasure. We thank you for all the ways you bless us. Help us to learn to be faithful with small things so you will trust us with big things. Amen.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

You Are God's Treasure

Have you wondered what the Kingdom of Heaven is like? Jesus said, "The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls.  When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it" (Matthew 13: 44-46).

Did you know you are the precious treasure to God? He gave His one and only Son for you. Jesus died on the cross for your sins so you could live with God forever. That's a long, long time. Without Jesus, the result of our sin would be our death. But Jesus took our place. Then He rose from the grave victorious over sin, death and the devil. We can live with confidence, knowing the God of Creation loves and cares for us.

Think About It
Since you are God's treasure, is He your treasure? He gave up everything, the life of His Son. Will you give Him your life too?

Pray About It
Thank you, Lord Jesus, taking my sins away so I can live for you. Help me to trust you more and live for you. Amen.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

What Does Your Cross Look Like?

Jesus said, "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will save it. What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul?" Mark 8:34-36

Many think when suffering comes along that God isn't paying attention, that He doesn't hear their cries for healing. Did you know He was the beginning of Job's problems? He said to Satan, "Have you considered my servant, Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil." Job 1:8. Satan was sure Job would fall away from God if he had to suffer. Not so! God allowed Job to lose seven sons, three daughters, his health and wealth, but Job remained faithful.

God also allowed Naomi to suffer. She and her family left Bethlehem during a famine and found a living in Moab. Her sons married Moabite wives and all seemed well for a while, yet not for long. Naomi's husband and two sons died, but she kept her faith in God.

God's perfect plan for us meant His own Son would suffer persecution, crucifixion and death. Thanks be to God, that is not the end of the story. Three days after His death, Jesus rose from the grave, rolled away the stone and lived among His people for forty days before He ascended into Heaven. More than five hundred people witnessed seeing and hearing Him. He is now preparing a place for us to be with Him forever. A place for Job and Naomi too. However, even when they were on earth, God more than restored them from their losses. Job had ten more children, good health and more wealth than he could imagine. Naomi became a grandmother and God took care of her the rest of her life on earth.

Think About It
What does your cross look like? Is your family going through a tough time with bad health or financial stress? Whatever problems you may have, Jesus promised in Matthew 28:20 that He would always be with us. Because He suffered much, we can trust Him to be with us in our in our suffering. By remaining faithful as Job and Naomi did, God will build strong character in us too.

Pray About It
Lord Jesus, whatever problems we face, help us stand firm and trust You. Thank you that in our weakness you work your strength and give us hope.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Dialogue with Jesus

Experience God’s love through conversations Jesus had with Nicodemus,the Woman at the Well, Martha, Zacchaeus, Peter, the Roman Centurion, the Rich Young Ruler, Simon the Pharisee, the Adulterous Woman, and more.

Dialogue with Jesus is fifty-two devotions for families, written to teach children how to pray. Bible stories come alive and inspire questions, acceptance, love, and faith.

A book for families, but it can be used for teaching by home schooling mothers, Sunday school teachers, and in mentoring relationships.

Each devotion includes:
  • A retold Bible story with Jesus' words in red
  • A "Think About It" section, which applies Bible truth
  • A "Pray About It" section with simple prayers kids can learn.
This book is a work in progress, born in the Mentoring Track at Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference. Find similar devotions on my Talking with Jesus blog. 
Please leave your suggestions how I could make this a great devotional book for families.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Do Not Covet--The Tenth Commandment

Do you want things your friends have? Do you see things you want when shopping with your parents? Do you dream about having stuff in the commercials on TV? This is called coveting and it's #10 on God's Big Ten list. Do you know what the cure is for coveting? It's being content with what you have. Don't dwell on wishing for things you can't have. You may think stuff can make you happy, but it can't. Jesus said, "Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also," (Matthew 6:19-21).

Think About It
David wrote, "Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart," Psalm 37:4

Pray About It
Thank you, Father God, for all the ways you love us and bless our lives. Help us to recognize what you have done instead of thinking about stuff that we don't really need, because we know you are in control and you will give us what we need. Amen.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Do Not Lie--the Ninth Commandment

What if our noses grew every time we told a lie? What if our ears grew? What if our feet grew? Maybe people wouldn't lie so much. Did you know lying is problem of the heart? Yes, our hearts are the heart of the problem. So what is the solution?

The solution to lying is the same as for all other acts of disobedience to the Ten Commandments. It is God's love. He loves us so much He gave His only Son to take the punishment for our sins so we wouldn't have to. When we believe that with all our hearts and accept God's love, our lives change. We won't want to lie anymore.

Love rejoices in TRUTH. (1 Corinthians 13:6) Jesus said, "I am the way, the TRUTH, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me," (John 14:6) and "If you love me, you will obey what I command. I will ask the Father and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever--the Spirit of TRUTH," (John 14:15).

Think About It
So is it ever okay to lie? Check this out in Proverbs 6:16-19.
There are six things the Lord hates, seven that are detestable to him.
  1. Haughty eyes
  2. A lying tongue
  3. Hands that shed innocent blood
  4. A heart that devises wicked schemes
  5. Feet that are quick to rush into evil
  6. A false witness who pours out lies, and
  7. A man who stirs up dissension among brothers.
Pray About It
Lord Jesus, help us to accept your love and not the ways of the world. Help us to honor you with our mouths by telling the truth. Thank you for sending your Counselor, the Holy Spirit, to help us live for you. Amen.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Real Girls of the Bible-A Review

I loved reading Real Girls of the Bible, a devotional book by Mona Hodgson. It is part of FaithGirlz series by Zonderkids. Mona told each real girl's story according to her place and time in the Bible and made Scripture come alive for me. I especially enjoyed the application as the Bible girl might have talked with today's girls. The book is filled with history lessons, "check this out" pages, and Bible verses that expand the life and meaning of the Bible girl's story. This is a great book for the young girl in your family, sure to build her faith and deepen her relationship with God.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The Eighth Commandment-Do Not Steal

Have you ever wanted something so much you stole it? Whether you shoplift a piece of candy from the bulk candy bin at the grocery store or cheat on school tests or rob a house, it's called stealing. What would you think if the store manager not only kicked you out of his store, but called the police on you? How would you feel if your best friend found out you copied her answers on to your test? No matter how much you want cool stuff or think you are entitled to it, if you have to steal it, it's wrong.

In fact, stealing is one of God's Big Ten. You may think you can get away with taking things that are not yours, but God knows. You have no secrets He doesn't know about. You can't hide from Him. Why not live your life pleasing Him? He loves you more than you could ever imagine and He wants you to have an abundant life.

Think About It
Why not make Jesus the desire of your heart? "Yes, LORD, walking in the way of your laws, we wait for you; your name and renown are the desire of our hearts."
Isaiah 26:7-9
"Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart."
Psalm 37:3-5

Pray About It
Thank you, Father God, for loving us and blessing us. Help us to concentrate on your life in us and not our life in the world. Amen.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

The Seventh Commandment

God intended marriage to be holy. He said in the seventh commandment, "Do not commit adultery." Wouldn't it be great if married couples could keep the "in love" feeling alive throughout the years they are together? Life seems to get in the way. Children and problems, pain and suffering get in the mix and challenge the best of relationships. Only with God's help can a man and woman keep their love alive.

During difficult times, it's tempting to accept the attention of another person, but Jesus said even if a man looks at another woman with lust, he has committed adultery in his heart. We cannot trust our hearts. They will lead us astray if we are not careful.

Think About It
Guard your friendships and save serious relationships for adulthood. Write down the important things you want in the person you want to spend your life with. Pray for God to help you find the right person. Don't settle for second best.

Pray About It
Lord Jesus, help us to remember that marriage is holy. Help us to keep our friendships pure for that reason. Amen.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Jesus Fed a Crowd (John 6:1-15)

John the Baptist was killed because an evil woman, Herodias (Herod's wife), held a grudge against Him. Can you imagine how the people felt? Heart broken and wanting to be alone with His disciples, Jesus tried to get to a solitary place near the Sea of Galilee. Yet He saw a crowd of people and had compassion on them. Jesus said they were like sheep without a shepherd. Maybe they were grieving the loss of the Baptist too. Jesus comforted them and healed their sick.

At the end of the day the disciples wanted to send the people away so they could get something to eat, but Jesus had a better plan. He wanted to feed them. Philip said eight months wages would not be enough to give each person a bite. The Bible says at least five thousand men gathered on the hillside that day (not including women and children). If the average family in the crowd had a man, his wife and two children, there must have been about twenty thousand people with Jesus. Can you imagine what that looks like? Think of a sports arena. Most of them hold at least fifteen thousand sports fans.

A boy offered his lunch to feed the crowd. Isn't that just like a boy? He wanted to help the Lord. Andrew said, "Here are two fish and five barley loaves." Jesus gave thanks and then asked the disciples to distribute the food. Everyone in the crowd ate until they were satisfied. Jesus didn't want anything to be wasted so the disciples picked up twelve baskets of leftovers.

Think about it
Jesus multiplied the boy's gift. Think what might happen if we are as willing as the boy to give. Yet, we can't out give God. He is ready to give back to us abundantly. The miracle of feeding five thousand (more like twenty thousand) lasted longer than one afternoon, because people ate from the baskets of fish and bread collected after dinner.

Pray about it
Thank you, Father God, for the way you bless each and every one of us. Help us to be good stewards of your gifts. Amen.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

The Way, The Truth, and the Life (John 14:6)

My dog looks and acts a lot like a lamb. Did you know that sheep will follow only their shepherd? My dog, Maggie, follows only me. When my grandkids or other friends walk with us, sometimes they want to hold her leash. But guess who she follows? Yep, it's me. She's always looking to see where I am. Did you know that sheep have to be led to water or food, and they will only eat or drink from their shepherd? Maggie is like that too. She eats what John, my husband, and I give her but not what strangers give her. Did you know that sheep will obey only their master? Maggie's like that. She comes only when I call her. Sometimes she will give a paw shake to my grandkids, but she saves most of her obedience for me.

One of my favorite pictures is of Jesus holding a lamb. Lambs like to be held. So does Maggie. She wants to be in my lab or in my arms all the time. She thinks that's what I'm here for.

I compared Maggie's relationship to me with my relationship to Jesus. Because I read His word, I learn His ways more and more. That is huge in today's world, because many people and things compete for my allegiance. Since Christ is my shepherd, I cannot be deceived. Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me," (John 14:6). So I will follow only Him, feed only on His word, obey only His commands, and experience His glorious presence every day.

Think About It
How about you? Will you find the truth in what Jesus says? Will you follow Him all the days of your life? Will you obey His commands and enjoy His presence? If your answers to these questions are "yes," you have great hope for your future, for eternity. Praise God!

Pray About It
Thank you, Father God, that you sent Jesus to teach me how to live and to die for me because I could never be perfect. Thank you that my perfection and strength are in Christ alone. Amen.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

My Dog Got Skunked

My dog, Maggie, can hear things that I can't. Sometimes I think she is imagining things. Like the other night--she kept going outside barking and barking. I thought she was chasing cats. She hates cats! Well, then I heard her running and barking around the apple tree. Then I smelled that horrible scent of a skunk and I knew Maggie was in trouble.

Half asleep, I went to the family room where the doggie door is. Maggie ran in scared, really scared. I picked her up (big mistake). She had that smell on her and the smell got on me. In my slumber I dowsed her and myself with baby powder and went back to sleep. Frankly, the powder didn't work. It smelled good at first but when I woke up, I realized we both got skunked, and so did our bed.

Getting skunked made me think how sin works. When I know I've done something that doesn't please God, I am tempted to do some wonderful things (like using baby powder) so God won't think about my sin. It doesn't work that way. I found out that when I confess my sin, God is faithful to forgive me. Then I don't have to worry about balancing the scale of doing good for every time I sin. The most important thing is that I pray for God to help me live for Him.

If you or your pet get skunked, don't use baby powder. Here are some things you can do that will help:
  1. Don't pick up your pet without first wrapping it in a towel and don't let him/her touch anything in your house, especially your bed.
  2. Bathe your dog using some of these solutions: a peroxide/baking soda bath, orange bath, soda bath, fabric softener bath, or commercial skunk smell removers. Find prices and directions here:
Do you try to balance good deeds against wrong things you do? Remember this verse: If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9 NIV).

Thank you, Lord Jesus, for your faithfulness and always being here to get the stink of my sin off of me. I love you. Amen.


Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The Sixth Commandment

Have you ever been angry with someone? Even Jesus was angry. His anger was a righteous anger, like the time the moneychangers and merchants setup shop at the temple. They thought they were offering a good service for travelers coming from far away to the annual Passover, by providing animals and doves for sacrifice. Yet, they made the temple into a den of thieves and Jesus' anger caused Him to straighten things out by turning over their tables and scattering the animals.

"You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, 'Do not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.' But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment." Jesus' exact words from Matthew 5:21. Paul said in Ephesians 4:26, "In your anger do not sin. Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold." Do you know why? If we hold on to our anger, it could grow into grudges, bitterness and malice. That means it could get so out of control that we could murder someone.

While Jesus was with His disciples the last time, He said, "Love others as I have loved you." Did you know that love is the answer to anger? By following Jesus' commands we will obey the sixth commandment, "Do not murder," Exodus 20:13.

Lord Jesus, help us in our anger to be more like You. Help us not to sin but to love as You do. Help us to straighten things out before the sun goes down. Amen.

Friday, January 6, 2012

The Gifts of the Magi

January 6 is a Christian holiday known as Epiphany. Besides being the twelfth day of Christmas, we remember the visit of the Magi or the Wise Men with the Christ child. They brought gifts and they have significant meaning.

Gold is precious across all nations and cultures. It is fit for royalty and said to the Christ child, You will be a King.

Frankincense is a milky sap tapped from the Boswellia tree and is known for its calming, restorative, and meditative properties. Ancient people burned Frankincense, believing it carried their prayers to Heaven. This gift illustrates Christ's role as Priest.

Myrrh is the resin produced by a small, tough, scraggly tree that grows in semi-desert regions along the Red Sea. It is known as a wound healer because of its antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties. Yet the most popular use is as an embalming ointment. After Jesus died on the cross, Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea anointed Jesus' body with myrrh. This is the gift that signifies Jesus as our Savior.

Epiphany commemorates the manifestation of Christ to the gentiles in the persons of the Magi. For more fascinating information regarding the gifts of the Magi, follow this link:

The gifts of the Magi inspired the annual tradition of Christmas gift giving. What gift did you give or receive this Christmas that has lasting value?

Thank you, Father God, for the greatest gift of all, the gift of love in Your Son and our Lord Jesus. Help us to love as you do so others may come to know your love too. Amen.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Ten Said "No," Two Said "Go"

After wandering in the desert many years, Moses commanded representatives from every one of the twelve tribes of Israel to explore the land of Canaan (the Promised Land). "Go up through the Negev and into the hill country. See what the land is like. Are the people strong or weak? Are there lots of them or just a few? Are the cities fortified or unwalled? Is the soil fertile or poor? Are there any trees? Do your best to bring back some fruit of the land," (Numbers 13: 17-20).

The results? Ten reported, "The land flows with milk and honey. Here is its fruit. But the cities are fortified and large. The people are giants and we are as grasshoppers to them. But Joshua and Caleb said, "The land we explored is good. If the Lord is pleased with us, he will lead us into the land flowing with milk and honey, and will give it to us. Do not rebel against the Lord. Do not be afraid of the people. The Lord is with us," (Numbers 14:7-9).

Yet the people were afraid and wanted to stone Joshua and Caleb. They grumbled against Moses and Aaron, so none of them crossed over the Jordan into the promised land, but died in the desert. Joshua and Caleb led the next generation into the promised land and God fought their battles and overcame the nations so Israel could inhabit the land.

Do you remember any of the names of the ten who said "no"? I didn't think so. If you are curious, you can read them in the 13th chapter of Numbers. They died because of their unbelief. You know what unbelief causes? Grumbling. Unbelief focuses on circumstances. Faith focuses on God, what He has done and what He can do. Joshua and Caleb had faith. They trusted God to go before them and fight their enemies. Do you have enemies? Maybe they are bullies at school. Maybe they are desires to have things you can't have. Maybe they are feelings that you are better than other kids. Trust God to defeat your enemies, whatever and whoever they are, so He can make His home in your heart and life.

Thank you, Father God, for examples like Joshua and Caleb, who trusted you instead of being discouraged by their circumstances. Help us to trust you to overcome anything that gets in the way of our relationship with you. Amen.