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What God Found (or maybe Who) October 23, 2011

Posted by Michelle Knoll in Devotionals.
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Welcome!  If you haven’t read any of the first stories in this storybook, then I encourage you to start at the beginning.  And for those of you who have already read those stories, it’s been a year since they were posted, so you might want to go back and review them.

In our last bedtime story, we talked about how the earth was filled completely with evil.

It was really bad.

The Lord repented of making man. This means that He changed His mind about creating man.  He had big dreams for the people He created, but they no longer cared about God’s dreams or ideas or even God.  He wasn’t angry, though, he was hurt.  Deeply hurt.

But… He was still full of Love.  So He looked and looked for someone to share that Love with, even when the whole world was full of wickedness and evil.

Let’s stop and think about that.  Suppose you lived in an area where the crime was horrible, and you wanted to move away to a safe place.  Okay, but suppose there wasn’t a safe place anywhere.   That would be scary, wouldn’t it?  Well, that’s the way the world was, at this time in its history.  There was NO place to go, to escape from evil.

Sounds like a nightmare, doesn’t it?

But even in the midst of all of this nightmare, God found someone who wasn’t involved in the wickedness.  He found Noah.

But what made Noah so special that God would notice him, among all the people in the world?

Well, Noah obeyed God’s rules and treated other people the way they were supposed to be treated.  He wasn’t mean like everyone else.  He didn’t do evil things.

That would be someone you’d want to know, right?  Me too.

Noah was a really good guy.  He did what God wanted all of mankind to do: he followed God’s rules.

Then, the Bible says something very important: Noah walked with God.

When you take a walk with someone, they can see you, you know?  They can know things about you.  They can watch what you do.  Noah knew God could see him, and Noah knew God watched everything he did.  Noah thought about God and about God’s rules.  And this caused Noah to be obedient.

Do you keep God on your mind?

Do you think about God’s rules?

This is what Noah did.

Or do you forget God is there, watching everything?

This is what the wicked and evil people did.

Have you ever been forgotten?  Or have you ever been waiting on someone to pick you up, and they were late, and you felt like they forgot all about you?  It’s not a good feeling, is it?

Well, it hurt God’s heart to be forgotten by the people He had created.

But did God get angry over that?

No.  He did not.  And we’ll talk about that more in our next bedtime story.

In the meantime, just remember: God’s never forgotten about you.  He always thinks about you.

Do you think about Him?

Good night.

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One Little Comment Can Mean So Much September 19, 2010

Posted by Michelle Knoll in Devotionals.
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Welcome back!  For those of you that haven’t read any of our bedtime stories yet, these are built on the greatest story ever told, starting with Genesis.

We now focus on one little comment in this entire story that is so full of meaning, it’s hard to find words to describe it all.

At the end of the “generations of Adam,” the story states that Noah had three sons: Shem, Ham, and Japheth.  Noah was 500 years old when he had these sons.  Or… at least had the first one.  We don’t know if they were triplets or not.  We just know Noah became a dad at the ripe old age of 500.  (Can you imagine being 500 years old, and changing your kids’ diapers??)  🙂

After this, the story says that the “sons of God” began to marry the “daughters of men.”

This is a sad statement, really.  What this sentence means, is this: the people who called themselves “followers of God” began to marry those that weren’t followers of God.  And apparently, they didn’t care who they married.

And then… the Lord makes a very interesting comment.  He says, “My Spirit shall not strive with man forever, because he also is flesh; nevertheless his days shall be one hundred and twenty years.”

Just what exactly did the Lord mean by that comment?

There are a lot of different thoughts about this comment.  Some say that the Lord was saying, “I’m only going to be patient with you humans for another 120 years, and then… that’s it!”  They say that He was fed up with man’s wickedness, which resulted from Seth’s descendants marrying Cain’s descendants.

Then there are others who say that God was reducing the life span of all men to a maximum of 120 years.  Let’s face it, mankind had been living a lot of years up to this point.  Why, did you know that Methuselah lived for 969 years, and Adam was still alive when his great-great-great-great-great-great-grandson Lamech was born???  (Talk about a big, yearly family reunion!)

Still, others say that this verse actually foretells how long man will be on the earth.  The idea is, when the Lord said “days” He meant “time” and when He said “years” He meant “divisions of time.”  This, they conclude, is a foretelling of the institution of the Jubilee year, and God was saying man would live on this earth for 120 Jubilees, and then the end of time will come.

You know what?  We could speculate and speculate, and stay up all night, wondering which explanation is the correct one.  They could all be wrong, and then again, they could all be right, at the same time.  Because with God, that’s possible.  He could have been talking about all three situations, at one time.  After all…. He’s God.

But the point is this:  God was stating His Love for mankind.  He was willing to extend His patience even with the wickedness going on, because He loves His creation, man included.  He was also willing to shorten man’s lifespan, because when man lived for hundreds of years, he had more time to get into more trouble, you know?  Likewise, God was willing to give man a clue as to how much time he might have on the earth, before time ran out.  Because God doesn’t want anyone to be left behind, when time runs out

He loves us.

So the important questions, from this curious statement He made, are these:

— Are you involved in wickedness that is trying God’s patience?

— Are you banking on living a really long time, which is causing you to put off a decision to follow the Lord with your whole heart?

— Are you thinking that life on this planet will last forever, and nothing will ever change?

As you go to sleep tonight, think about your own life.  God, Who is loving and patient and kind, and Who loves you with a passionate love, doesn’t want you to run out of time.  He wants to make your life the best it can be.

Are you making Him wait?

Why would you do that?

Talk to Him tonight, as you go to sleep.

New Life, Lost Life, Troubled Life September 12, 2010

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Now let us turn the page, and peer into…

Life After the Garden.

Adam and Eve had a son and named him Cain.  And Eve acknowledged the Lord was still with her, even though she had messed up so badly, when she said, “I’ve given birth to a son, with the help of the Lord.”

That says a lot, you know?

Well, guess what!  Adam and Eve had another baby!  And they named him Abel.

But babies, as you know, grow up to become adults.  Cain and Able grew up, each learning their own trades:  Cain, a farmer, and Abel, a herdsman.

Well, the time came for an offering to be made to the Lord.  So Cain brought produce from his garden, and Abel brought the “firstlings” from his flock.  The Lord liked the offering that Abel brought, but He didn’t like the offering that Cain brought.

Hmm. Why didn’t He?

Well, there are two possible reasons why this was so.  One reason could be that Cain’s offering was not an animal, while Abel’s offering was, and God expected the offering to be an animal.  But another reason can be seen in the way their offerings were… well, offered.

It says that Abel brought the “firstlings” of his flock, but it doesn’t say that Cain brought the “first fruits” of his garden.  Is it possible that Abel brought what was asked of him, the first and best of his animals, while Cain just brought whatever he wanted to bring?  If this is the case, then it’s pretty easy to see why God wasn’t impressed with what Cain had brought.  There was an attitude involved in Cain’s offering that wasn’t pleasing to God.

Let’s be honest with ourselves: what matters more? What we do?  Or the attitude with which we do it?

And you know, since the Lord had sacrificed an animal (or more than one) to make the coverings for Adam and Eve, this reason for God’s dislike of Cain’s offering could be a combination of both these reasons.  Perhaps, Cain didn’t make his offering the way the Lord requested it to be made, and he didn’t think it mattered how he did it.

When the Lord didn’t like his offering, did Cain humble himself before the Lord, and say, “I’m sorry.  You’re right.  I didn’t do what You requested.”

No, Cain got so upset that he killed his brother Abel.  Cain expected to be treated better because he was the first-born, so he got jealous of Abel when Abel was treated better by the Lord.

Once again, the Lord asked Cain the same thing He asked Adam and Eve in the garden:  “What have you done?”  Once again, the heart of the Creator of all living things had been broken.  For once again, one of His children had not followed His rules, and now He was going to have to do as any good parent would do: deal with the situation.

So the Lord had to lay out the consequences for not following the rules:

“Now you are cursed from the ground, which has opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand. When you cultivate the ground, it will no longer yield its strength to you; you will be a vagrant and a wanderer on the earth.”

Was Cain repentant even then, after the Lord said these words?  No.  Cain complained;  he told the Lord that this was too much to bear.  “Someone will find me and kill me, now that I am cursed from the ground and also driven from Your sight!”

Yet… because of His Love, the Lord provided for Cain.  He somehow created a warning so whoever found him would know:  Do not harm this man.

Isn’t that amazing!  Even in his troubled state of being a vagrant and wanderer, Cain was still protected by the Lord.

Children, even when you disobey your parents, they still love you.  They still do things to make sure you’re safe.

And when God’s children disobey, break His rules, do things to cause Him pain, He still, still, still… loves His children, and works to protect them.

All because of Love.

Think on His Love as you rest tonight.  Sleep well.

A Love Covering September 9, 2010

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Are you ready — as Paul Harvey used to say — for the rest of the story?

Let’s return to the beautiful garden, and continue where we left off last night.

The Lord showed up in the early evening, to spend time with the man and the woman whom He loved.  But when He got there, He didn’t find things the way He expected them to be.

The serpent had tricked the woman, who had then done a terrible deed, and the man had joined in, right along with her, without regard to the Lord’s one simple rule:

Don’t eat from the one tree I told you about.

And the Lord confronted them, though pain filled His heart, because He knew what was coming next.

He could have killed them on the spot, you know?  He could have allowed His pain to turn into anger, and wiped them out, all of them, including the serpent.  He didn’t have to listen to their excuses for disobeying.  He didn’t have to do anything for them!

But He did.

He patiently dealt with each one, individually.

“Cursed are you,” He said to the serpent, “for what you have done to this woman…”

He then spoke to the woman:  “You’ll now have pain in childbirth…”

“The ground is now cursed,” He told the man, “and you must toil for your food from now on…”

Sounds harsh, doesn’t it?  It sounds like God doesn’t love them at all.

But wait.  He did something that spoke volumes, and told just how much He really DID love Adam and Eve.

He gave of Himself, to cover their mistake.  He gave up something He loved, for the people He loved.

And He didn’t parade this action in front of the whole world, to brag about how great His Love was.  He did it… quietly.

Look at the following verse:

“And the Lord God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife, and clothed them.”

Now, just think for a moment:  where did He obtain garments of skin? (and the translation of that word “skin” is “leather” or “hide.”)

The Lord performed the very first animal sacrifice.  He killed one of the animals He had created, maybe even two (one for each person), and took the skins, and covered man’s nakedness.

Out of His Love, He gave.  He gave up something He loved, for the people He loved, so they wouldn’t have to live in shame.

Even in His pain and heartbreak over man disobeying His rules, He still loved them and helped them. So much so, that He wouldn’t allow them to stay in the garden, where they just might eat from the tree of Life.  He knew, if they ate from that tree, they would have to live forever in a state of pain.  And He love them so much, He wasn’t going to allow that to happen.

So He sent them out, away from the garden.

Can you imagine the Lord standing there, watching Adam and Eve leave?  Can you imagine them stopping, turning and looking back at the One who loved them so completely?  Can you imagine the heartache all of them were going through, as the gate to the garden… closed?

It was a very sad day.  Yes, indeed.

However, He sent them out clothed.  Not naked, not ashamed, but clothed.  And I’m sure He took the time to instruct them on how to make the garments themselves, which meant also instructing them on how to perform the sacrifice.

Because God, in His rich and vast Love and Mercy, never leaves us nor forsakes us.

He always, always, ALWAYS… provides for us.

Dream of good things tonight, okay?

Good night.