...but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; They will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.
ISAIAH 40:31

A Blog for Kids and Everyone.

This is a journey through God's word. The Bible is so amazing! There are a lot of great stories. Some that we know well and some will surprise us. We will have a lot of fun as we color, watch short cartoons and tell funny stories.

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

The Book of Ester (1-2) Vashti Banished

  Wasn't Nehemiah a great story? And it is all true....it really happened all those years ago. Now we are going to go back in time a little bit to  about 40 years before Nehemiah rebuilt the wall around Jerusalem. The Bible is not in chronological order. Which means it isn't in order of how things happened. The book of Ester is set in Persia after Nebuchadnezzar and Babylon were overthrown by the Persian Empire. The story of Esther is set about 30 years after the temple in Jerusalem was built and Ezra was the prophet of the time. At this time most of the Jews are still scattered throughout Persia.

   Now there was a king of Persia named Xerxes. Here ruled over all 127 provinces, from India down to Ethiopia. He had been king for 3 years when he decided to throw a huge party for all the princes and military officials. The party lasted 6 months! Then just when you think the party was over, the king throws a 7 day party for his palace servants and immediate officials. In the meantime, Queen Vashti was throwing her own party for the women of the kingdom.
  On the seventh day of the party, after the king had a little too much to drink, he started bragging about what a beautiful wife he had. Then he sent some of his servants to go bring the queen to him so he could show off her beauty in front of all the other men. When the message was conveyed to Queen Vashti that the king wanted her to parade around in front of a bunch of men who had been drinking for seven days, she refused. Disobeying the king was unheard of at the time. A queen would never refuse the request of the king!
  As soon as King Xerxes heard about Queen Vashti's response, he became infuriated and called his consultants together and asked their advice, because they were experts in Persian laws and customs.
 "What must be done with Queen Vashti?" The king asked. "What does the law say about a penalty for a queen who disobeys her king?"
  One of the king's consultants whose name was Memucan answered. "Queen Vashti has not only wronged the king, but she has also wronged all the princes and the male subjects in the kingdom." He continued. "The queen's behavior will become known to all the women in the kingdom, and before you know it, they will begin disrespecting their husbands which will lead to disorder and chaos in your kingdom."
  One of the other consultants spoke up. "If it please the king, let Queen Vashti be banished from the kingdom and never come before the king again! ... And let her position be given to another who is more worthy! Also send out a decree that all wives must honor their husbands because he is the master of the household."
  King Xerxes agreed and the queen was banished from the kingdom, never to be heard from again. Soon the king began to regret what he had done. If he had not acted so prideful, he would have not requested that the queen come before him and all the men then she would not have had to refuse. He was sad because he missed her.

 The Bible says that pride leads to destruction. (Prov 16:18) and patience is better than pride. (Eccles 7:8) God does not like pride. Pride hurts us and God doesn't want that. If we humble ourselves, God will lift us up. (James 4:10) The next time you feel like showing off or bragging about yourself... remember that it may make you feel like a big shot at the time, but eventually regret will set in, just like it did for King Xerxes.

  Some of his advisors saw that the king was down in the dumps over the whole situation and one spoke up. "May your servants travel to each of the 127 provinces of Persia and bring back to most beautiful virgins. We will hold a Miss Persia contest and whom ever you choose, will be the next queen of Persia!" The king liked the idea and the servants were dispatched to find the most beautiful virgins in all the land.

  Next time we will get an inside look at the Miss Persia contest.

Saturday, July 7, 2018

Against All Opposition, The Wall Is Completed (Nehemiah 4-13)

As soon as I, Nehemiah, had assigned each person or family a section of the wall, they immediately began construction.  And as soon as Sanballat, Tobiah and Geshem saw that the people were beginning to build, they became furious. "We have already tried to discourage them." Geshem said.
"Yes, Nehemiah prayed and talked to the people and they were not discouraged." Tobiah added.
"We need to get others on our side." Sanballat said as he pounded his fist on the table.
  So the three men went to a section of the wall that we were building. I could see they were up to no good as they stood among a crowd of onlookers and began to make fun of us, hoping the others would join them. Tobiah pointed and shouted, "That wall is so weak that if a fox tried to walk along the top of it, the wall would crumble to the ground!" I prayed that my people would ignore the comments and that the crowd would not go along with Tobiah. And so we continued to build the wall.
 After a few weeks, the wall was about half complete. Saballat, Tobiah and Geshem were fuming! They sent messengers to the wall and handed me a letter. Here is what it said. "We have the Arabs, the Ammonites and the Ashdodites on our side. If you do not cease in your attempt to rebuild the wall around Jerusalem, we will attack." I prayed to the God of heaven that the threats were only just threats and that God would give me wisdom. So I stationed half the men as guards with shields and swords along the wall and armed the men that were working  on the wall with swords as well.

 The three evil men saw that we were not deterred. Progress on the wall continued and the they devised another plan. Again they sent messengers and handed me a letter. Here is what that letter said. "It has come to our attention that you are building the wall in order to rebel against your king in Persia and then name yourself as king over Jerusalem. If you do not stop construction of the wall immediately, we will inform the king of Persia of your plan and he will have you arrested and the people charged with treason." I sent a message back saying it was all lies and then I prayed for strength. Then we continued to build.
 We finally had the wall up, but still had not put up the gates and doors, which were important to secure the city. Sanballat, Tobiah and Geshem knew they had one last chance. They managed to bribe a man I knew named Shemaiah to try to trick me into meeting him inside the temple. I prayed, and God revealed to me that Shemaiah was working for Tobiah and Sanballat in order to discredit me. We continued to work on the wall. We hung the gates and doors. The wall was complete. And in only 52 days! The neighboring countries became fearful because they knew it was impossible to complete a project that would normally take a few years in only 52 days, and that God must be on our side. They were right!
  I called the prophet Ezra to read the law of God in front of the wall. Then the Levites reminded the people about how God was with us. Not only in the building of the wall, but throughout our history. From Abraham to Moses to the promised land until now, God has been with us the whole way. The people began to weep and confessed their sins. Then they made a vow to love God with their whole body, soul strength and mind, and to obey Him. Then we dedicated the wall to the God of heaven and rejoiced with songs, music, dancing, praying, worshiping and praising our God.
  I became governor of Jerusalem for 12 years the finally returned to king Antaxerxes. He was very happy to see me. I shared stories with him about how God has inspired, protected and been with us. I don't know if he realized that I would be gone for 12 years when I first left, but he received me back with open arms and he let me return to Jerusalem for a visit whenever I wanted. On one return visit, I found out that Eliashib the priest had emptied out one of the temple rooms and rented it to Tobiah for some of his personal belongings. As soon as I found out. I threw all of Tobiah's things out of the temple and replaced Eliashib with a Levite, a scribe and a priest, I knew all three men and trusted them. I also found out that some of the people and merchants were not honoring the Sabbath day. Before I returned to Persia, I prayed and then implemented some new rules.
  During the building of the wall, something that God inspired Nehemiah to do, there was so much opposition. There was an attempt to discourage the workers and they were made fun of, threatened, lied to and tricked. Notice what Nehemiah did each time. He prayed, then he planned and then he pushed forward. We should remember these three Ps when we are doing things for God and opposition arises (and it will). Pray, Plan, Push forward. God is on our side when we are called according to His purpose. He will guide you, protect you and give you wisdom.

Sunday, July 1, 2018

Nehemiah Goes Back to Rebuild the Wall (Nehemiah 2-3)

  Last time Nehemiah was before the king of Persia, asking for permission to go to Jerusalem to rebuild the wall around the city. It was a request that could have landed him in the dungeon or put to death. Let's return to the story and let Nehemiah continue to tell you in his own words.

  As I stood nervously before Antaxerxes, the king of Persia, he turned to his wife the queen, then back to me and said, "Yes, Nehemiah, you can go back to the land where your ancestors are buried and rebuild the wall."
  I had found favor in the eyes of God, and thus in the king's eyes as well. So I continued my request. "If it pleases the king, I will be traveling through many territories on my way to Jerusalem, can you write letters to the governors of those territories giving me safe travel through their lands? And also can I have permission to bring along the lumber I will need from the royal forest?" The king granted me these things, for God had touched his heart. The king also sent along some of his army and horsemen to protect me along the way! Isn't that just like God to urge the king to give me far more than I had asked or even hoped for? (Ephesians 3:20)
  So I set out on the 800 mile journey from Persia to Jerusalem. No one knew my purpose, for I had not mentioned it to anyone except the king. However, three men, Sanballat from Horon, Tobiah from Ammon, and Geshem the Arab heard that I was on my way to help the Jews with something and they were not very happy.
 Three days after arriving in Jerusalem, (I still had not mentioned to anyone, not even the city council why I was there) I  took a couple men with me and slipped out one night after dark to survey the area around the city where the wall once stood.  The rubble was so treacherous in some places that even the donkey that I was riding was unable to navigate it and I had to go around those areas.
  As I lay in bed that night, praying for wisdom (James 1:5) and contemplating the task before me, I worked out a wall reconstruction plan in my head. So by the time morning had arrived, I called all the city councilmen to a meeting. I told them about how God had put it in my heart to build the wall, how God had touched the heart of the king, and the plan God had given me to build the wall.

  When God has something for you to do, He won't leave you hanging. He will be with you every step of the way. Continue to pray, ask for guidance and wisdom. God promises to  be your guiding light (Psalm 119:105) and to give you the wisdom to carry out His will.

  The councilmen replied all at once. "Good! Let's rebuild this wall!"  They were excited to begin and so was I, so we started to rebuild immediately. It wasn't long before Sanballat, Tobiah and Geshem heard what we were doing. The scoffed and hurled insults and tried to discourage us, but I told them that God was with us and the wall would be rebuilt. Of course they didn't like my response, but it was the truth.
  Being in charge of the rebuild, I designated the men to work on different sections of the wall, and I had each family rebuild the part of the wall that was behind their own home. I knew this would save time and the men would make sure that the wall was built well near their homes. Everyone pitched in to help. Even the priest help build a part of the wall. The work was running smoothly.... but then...

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Nehemiah (1and2) Nehemiah Decides to Rebuild the Wall

  It had been 100 years since God touched the hearts of the Persian kings and allowed the Jewish exiles to return to Judah/Jerusalem and 40 years since God's temple had been rebuilt. The book of Nehemiah is unique. It was written by Nehemiah in the first person style. Which means he wrote of everything that happened to him and around him from his vantage point. So we are going to let Nehemiah tell the story in his own words. So whenever you read the words Me or myself or I, it is Nehemiah talking about himself.
  Hi, my name, as you already know is Nehemiah. For the past one hundred years, my countrymen, the Jews, have been making the 800 mile trek from Persian back to Jerusalem. Many of my friends and family have made the journey. But I have remained here in Persian. Mostly because I have a comfortable life here. I work for the king and live in his palace. I am the king's cup bearer, which means I taste the king's drink and food to make sure no one is trying to poison him. Yes, it is a dangerous job, but it is also a respected job because the king trusts me. Sometimes he even asks for my advice on some issues that arise in his kingdom. But I do miss my friends and family.
  So you can imagine my excitement when I heard that my brother and some of his friends were returning to Persia for a visit. When I heard that my brother was inside the kingdom walls, I ran out to meet him and his friends. My heart was beating as I asked how he and all the returning exiles were doing back in Jerusalem. But my heart sank when my brother answered, "Not good."
  "Why? what is going on?." I asked.
  "Without a wall around the city, the people are afraid to leave their homes, especially the women and children." My brother answered and then continued."The men are fearful that some neighboring countries will send troops through the city and snatch up all the women and children and the temple has yet to be decorated with the ornate silver and gold pieces that originally graced the walls and sanctuary."
  The walls had been torn down and burned by the Babylonians more than a hundred years ago. I knew it was not good for the people to live in fear. How can people live a God honoring life if they are afraid to come out of their own homes? I became very sad for the people there. I even began to cry. For many days after I hears the news, I fasted and prayed to the God of Heaven. I confessed my sin and the sin of all my people. I reminded God of His promise to restore His people and His city if we returned to Him through repentance, worship and obedience. I prayed for about four months that God would do something to help the people. Then something changed. I felt God telling me that I was the one that He was calling to go and help the people and rebuild the wall around Jerusalem.

  God is amazing that way. Prayer is not only asking God, but listening to Him. As we present our requests to Him, He slowly changes our hearts and guides us into His will. As you continue to pray for someone or some situation, listen. God may changing your heart and prompting you to be His tool for His purpose in that very situation!

  Ok, so I heard the clear voice of God. I was supposed to go back to Jerusalem, get the people together, and lead the reconstruction of the wall around Jerusalem. But there was one problem. Approaching the king with this idea was causing me much angst. The king did not even like if anyone was sad around him, let alone make such a life changing request. He could have me thrown in a dungeon, or even worse, put to death! I prayed that God would calm my soul and put just the right words in my mouth.
  I remember it was a beautiful spring morning. I had never appeared sad before the king before, but this particular morning I was feeling so much compassion for my fellow countrymen back in Jerusalem, that my face reflected my sadness. The king noticed and asked me what was wrong. I was
badly frightened, but replied. "Long live the king! I am sad because the city where my ancestors are buried is in ruins. The wall has been torn down and the gates burned."
  Then the king asked, "What can I do for you?"
  "Ok.... this was my chance..... don't blow it." I thought to myself so under my breath I said a very quick prayer to the God of Heaven, and answered. "If it please the king and you are pleased with me as your servant, I humbly request that you let me go back to Jerusalem to rebuild the wall around the city."

 Next time we will see if the king throws Nehemiah in the dungeon for asking such a thing, or if he grants his request. One thing we found out about Nehemiah so far.... he is definitely a man of prayer.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

The Fall of Judah (2Kings 24 &25) and Ezra

 After Josiah, The next 4 kings were bad. (They didn't do right in the eyes of the Lord)  The kings led the people of Judah away from the Lord. They broke the covenant that God had made with them, which meant that their land would become desolate and the people would be scattered, just as it had happened to Israel 136 years earlier when they were taken over by the Assyrians. The four "bad" kings were Jehoahaz, Jehoiakim, Jehoiachin and Zedekiah. During the third king's reign, King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon, surrounded Jerusalem. He went into the temple and carried out most of the gold and silver that was in there. He also took many of the officials and the king as captives. The people of Judah had one last chance to turn back to God, but the next king, Zedekiah, continued to turn his back on God. 

 God is the God of 2nd 3rd 4th and so on chances. Don't ever feel like you've crossed the line of forgiveness and that you can't come back to God. Just confess it to God (which means that you agree with Him that is was wrong) and repent. (Which means turning away from the wrong doing and turning back to God)

King Nebuchadnezzar and his troops continued to surround Jerusalem for the next eleven years. The food ran out and all the people fled. As they were fleeing, King Zedekiah was captured. Then Some of the Babylonians went into Jerusalem and destroyed walls of the city and burnt the temple of God to the ground. They took what few Jews that remained back to Babylon and made them servants and slaves. With all the people gone, the wall torn down and the temple destroyed, the message that the Lord had given through the prophet Jeremiah came to pass. 'The land laid desolate for 70 years.' During the seventy years, the Babylonian empire was taken over by Persia.  .... That concludes the book of 2Kings.
 The next two books of the Bible are 1Chronicles and 2 Chronicles. These two books are recounts of the two Kings books. They begin with the first King of Israel, King Saul, then David's life is recalled with a few more details and finally King Solomon.  After King Solomon died,  2Chronicles  tells of how Israel split into the north kingdom, (Israel) and the south kingdom, (Judah). Finally the fall of Israel and the fall of Judah were covered. So we will pick up our story seventy years after the fall of Judah in the book of Ezra.

 The book of Ezra picks up where 2 Kings left off. Babylon had fallen to the Persians and in the first year of Persian King Cyrus' rule, God touched his heart. The king made a proclamation that all the Jews that were in the land could return to Jerusalem and rebuild the temple. The king also personally brought out valuable items that King Nebuchadnezzar had taken from the temple. Then he ordered that every single item that was taken from the temple be given to the Jews so that they could return them once the temple was rebuilt. Ezra chapter 2 covers a list of all the Jewish exiles that were returning to Jerusalem to rebuild the temple. Chapter 3 describes the first phase of the rebuilding, which was the altar, and then the beginning of the temple rebuild. In Chapter 4, the Jews face opposition when a new king is in charge. The Jews had to put the rebuilding of the temple on hold until the next king, Darius, became ruler of the Persian empire. He reviewed the decree of King Cyrus, and allowed the Jews to resume the rebuilding of the temple. With all the opposition to the rebuilding, it took over 40 years to complete, then Ezra the prophet returned to Jerusalem with many of the Jewish exiles. Chapter 8 of the book of Ezra gives family names of the returning exiles. Ezra made sacrifices in the temple and the people confessed their sins.

Sometimes God touches peoples hearts to fulfill His purposes. Sometimes He touches our hearts too. When God puts something on your heart it is called a burden. He wants you to act. But He won't force you to do anything. If we follow Jesus, we will have burdens placed on our hearts. God may want to bless someone through your actions. And guess what? Then we get blessed too! 

Monday, April 30, 2018

Good and Bad Kings in Israel and Judah...... and King Josiah (2 Kings 8-23)

  Since Israel split in two after King Solomon died (1 Kings 11 and 12), the two kingdoms, Israel in the north and Judah in the south, there were many kings. Every single king in Israel was bad, and most of the kings in Judah were bad, with a couple of good ones sprinkled in. What do I mean by good and bad. The Bible answers this question. Bad king: He did what was evil in the Lord's sight. example..... 2 Kings15:9  Good King: He did what what pleasing in the Lord's sight. example .....2 Kings 15:3  The king had a lot of responsibility, including leading the people according to God's law. When the king went away from the Lord..... the whole country did the same. When the king followed the Lord.... the whole country did the same.
  Many years before this, God told Moses. "If you sin, I will scatter you among the nations." Well since Israel was led by one bad king after another, God finally did what He said He would do. In 2 Kings chapter 17, God swept the Israelites from the land. Assyria attacked Israel, set up their own kings, and sent many of the Israelites out of the land. God had warned them over and over, but the Israelites refused to turn back to Him. Since Judah was led by a good king every few years, God held off scattering them.... for now.
  At the end of 2 Kings 21, we meet the new king of Judah, Amon. He was a bad king, however, he only reigned for 2 years because a few of his servants killed him. So the people made Amon's son king. His name was Josiah and he was a good king. But the amazing thing was his age. How old do you think Josiah was when he became king? He was 8 years old! Some of you reading this are probably older than that right now! The Bible says that Josiah did not turn to the left or the right when it came to following God's law (2 Kings 22:2). Then when he was 26 years old, Josiah had a plan to restore the Temple of the Lord. The temple had been neglected for many years because the people just didn't care about the things of the Lord.
  A high priest named Hilkaih supervised the work. One day he noticed a scroll that was rolled up and stuck in the wall. Hilkaih knew what it was right away. It was The Word Of The Lord! He sent one of the men to go read the scroll to the king.
   When the king heard what was written on the scroll, he became very, distressed. The scroll said, "If you sin, I will destroy the city and I will scatter you among the nations." Right away King Josiah called the High priest. "Go to the temple and pray to God for me and for all the people of Judah."
  In those days, the high priest had direct access to God, Now through Jesus, we can go directly to God in Jesus' name. Josiah not only prayed for himself and guidance, he also prayed for all the people of Judah. What a great example for us! 
 When Hilkaih the high priest returned after praying in the temple, he had this message from God for Josiah. "When you heard what I said in the scroll about destroying the city and scattering the people , you were very distressed and filled with repentance. I have heard your prayers and I will not bring judgement on Judah while you are still alive.
  Josiah called all the leaders, all the priests and all the people of Judah together. He read the whole scroll to everyone. Josiah pledged to follow the entire scroll with his whole heart soul and mind. When the people heard what was written and Josiah's pledge, they pledged as well.
  Right away Josiah ordered that anything to do with idols and false gods be destroyed. He traveled to entire land looking for anything that went against God and destroyed it. Then the land of Judah celebrated the Passover, just as the scrolls had stated.
        We are so blessed to have the Bible. All of God's Word in one book!  The more we read His Word, the more our hearts and minds are transformed. Then we will have a desire to remove all ungodly things from our lives, just as Josiah cleared Judah of the ungodly things. Being good, as we saw earlier, is doing things that are pleasing in God's sight. The Bible speaks to our hearts in such a way, that we know what is pleasing to the Lord.  (Heb 11:6) (Rom 12:1) (1 Thes 2:4) (Phil 4:18)

Friday, April 20, 2018

The Four Lepers and The Enemy Camp (2 Kings 6- 7)

  Last time we saw that the Aramean army was led into Syria by Elisha after God had confused them. The king of Israel wanted to destroy them, But Elisha told him to feed them and send them back home.
  Well some time later, the king of Aram decided to surround Syria in an attempt to take it over. As a result, there was a terrible famine in the land. The king of Syria walked down the streets, becoming more and more distraught seeing the suffering of the hungry people. As he continued to witness the effects of the famine, the king became more and more angry at Elisha.... and God. "I should have destroyed the Aramean army when I had the chance!" He said. "I want Elisha arrested and put to death this very day!"
  Elisha was at  his home with some of leaders of Israel. God revealed the king's plan to Elisha and he told the men, "One of the king's men is on his way to arrest me, but don't open the door. I want the king to show up here personally so I can speak to him."
  Sure enough, a short time later, the king showed up at Elisha's house and angrily shouted, "It is the Lord who has brought this terrible situation on our land and people! Why should we wait on Him any longer? The people are without hope and starving!"
  Elisha calmly said. "The Lord has said that by this time tomorrow, the people will have more than enough food. They will have horses and livestock, and plenty of silver and gold!" One of the kings men replied. "Even God himself could not make that happen, even if He opened the floodgates of heaven." Elisha looked at him and said. "You will not be able to share in any of it."
  That evening, four men with leprosy were outside the city gates talking among themselves. Lepers were not allowed to live inside the city because of their contagious condition. "Why should we sit here waiting to die? We will starve if we stay here, and will starve if we go into the city." One of them continued. "We may as well surrender to the Aramean army. If they let us live, so much better. But if they kill us, we would have died anyway."
  Little did they know, but God had caused the whole Aramean army to hear the clatter of speeding chariots and the galloping of horses, so that it sounded like a huge army was approaching! The Army fled for their lives, leaving behind everything, including their gold, silver, horses and livestock. So when the four lepers entered the Aramean camp that evening, no one was there! They entered one tent after another, eating, drinking  and carrying out all the silver and gold. Then one of the lepers said. "Wait a minute.....this is not right. This is good news! We should go back and tell all the people about this. We should not keep this to ourselves when there are people on the other side of that wall who are starving to death."
  So they went back and told the gatekeeper the good news. He relayed the message to the king who thought it may be a trap. He sent a couple men to check it out. When they returned, they informed the king that it was true. Then all the people made a mad dash to the Aramean camp and ate and drank till they were satisfied. They carried out all the silver and gold. They also took the horses and all the livestock. So it was just as Elisha the prophet had foretold. The Syrian economy was booming and the people were overjoyed. But remember the guy that said that this was impossible, even if God opened the gates of heaven, and Elisha told him that he would not eat any of it?...... well he was trampled to death as he stood near the city gate!
  The four lepers had good news. They knew it was not right to not tell anyone about it. Did you know that the word "Gospel" means good news? The four Gospels are the story of Jesus' life, death and resurrection. So the story of Jesus is good news! If we know the good news of Jesus, it is not right for us to keep it to ourselves. Just as there were people starving in Syria because they didn't know the good news of the food that was just outside the walls of the city, there are people all around us "starving to death" and without hope because they don't know The Bread of Life, Jesus. The life-giving promise of Jesus is a free gift for all who believe and take the step of trusting Him. Jesus wants us to tell the whole world about Him. (The good news)  Matthew 28:16-20