In 1 Samuel 1 we see that the downcast Hannah loved God and, in His presence through prayer, went from great anguish and grief to joy even before she becomes pregnant with the child she vowed to give to God! He remembered her and blessed her with a son and that event causes her to say in chapter 2 “My heart rejoices in the Lord!” Samuel, God’s answer to Hannah’s prayer, is born to serve. Our story for the kids takes place in chapter 3 when Samuel is about 12 and eager to obey! That is why he listens, then hears, then responds to God’s voice. Thank you for listening, hearing and responding to God’s call to serve in Eastview Kids! We thank God often for you!:)
Samson was not much of a hero! Is that why I relate to him? He was gifted with strength because God wanted him to save the Israelites from the Philistines. But Samson made some bad choices. He chose not to obey his parents and he chose not to obey God. He chose to be self-centered and took his strength for granted and only remembered to call on the Lord when he was in trouble. He was a little like a child who discovers, later in life, that their parents really did know what was best for them! God’s commands are always for our own good!! No matter what our individual strengths or weaknesses, we are powerful when we choose to trust and obey only God!
Remember the Hugh Grant movie titled “Four Weddings and a Funeral?” (Honestly, I don’t remember the movie, just that title!!) Well the book of Ruth might be titled “Three Funerals and a Wedding!” It’s a story of determination (Naomi), commitment (Ruth) and integrity (Boaz) but most of all, of God’s perfect plan and his tender concern for his people. Is there a difficult circumstance you’re walking through? God’s sovereignty, wisdom, and kindness often come in hard circumstances and many times are expressed through the kindness of others. Ruth demonstrated this in word and deed when she told Naomi: “Where you go I will go , and where you stay, I will stay.” Praying that we too might be a sweet reflection of God’s goodness to those He places in our lives.
In our story last week, God asked the Israelites to obey Him even when it didn’t make sense, and Joshua and his men marched, blew horns, shouted and watched God collapse the walls of Jericho! In today's lesson, it happens again! We see God asking his children to obey and when they do, He can act on their behalf! He chose Gideon to lead the Israelites to victory. In a very unusual battle, Gideon wins with a very small number of warriors and another strange battle plan. God wanted to be sure the people of Israel realized that only the power of God delivered them and not any strength of their own. In our own lives, we need to remember that obedience to God frees us up to depend on God instead of trying to handle things on our own. Will you promise to do 2 things this week? First sing Jesus Can do Anything from this Sunday's wall activities often!! Second, watch this week as God steps in to lead and direct you and then win your battles!
That's some battle plan, God! Walk around...play some music...yell. As Israel begins to conquer Canaan, it runs into a major obstacle – Jericho. Jericho was a fortified city with a strong fortified wall around it and secure gates. Archeological digs have found sites where they believe Jericho was located. It appears that, according to one archeologist, it might have even had 2 walls around it; the outer wall being six feet thick and the inner wall being 12 feet thick. Houses were even built into the walls of the city (see Joshua 2:15).
Well, obviously, God’s battle plan seemed a bit unorthodox. But because of the way He had Israel conquer Jericho, there was a fear of the LORD and the Israelites that spread throughout the land of Canaan. God made the armies of Israel strong and successful as they came to occupy the land. It's a good thing Joshua listened to the bizarre directions that God had given him for taking the city of Jericho. We need to be obedient to God even though sometimes God calls us to do things that seem strange at first. God’s ways are not our ways yet they’re always good and right and best (and many times miraculous)!
What is your favorite part of Christmas? I bet you will say "Gifts!" Gifts have been a part of Christmas for a long time! It started with a group of wise men that traveled from the east, following a star in the sky. They were seeking the new King that had been born. They brought gifts to Jesus, who by the time they arrived, was around two years old. These gifts were symbolic: they brought gold for a king, incense used by priests in the temple, and myrrh, an embalming spice—this King and High Priest was born to die. We continue the tradition of gift giving still today. But as we think about Christmas, we must always keep our eyes on the greatest gift ever given: Jesus! He came wrapped not in paper, but in strips of cloth. He came not to fulfill our wishes, but to give us eternal life! Today we will focus on the gifts of Christmas & talk about how we can receive the Gift of Christmas best by giving! In response to the best Gift-Giver we give Him our hearts & complete authority of our lives then listen for ways we can become gift-givers too! Like you do 26 times a year! THANK YOU!
Hello beautiful teachers! I hope that you are having a wonderful week as we prepare our hearts to learn and teach the wonderful birth of Jesus. What an amazing season of Joy we are in right now – Christmas is by far, my family’s favorite holiday. The tree, the decorations, the smell of warm cookies baking on the weekend; all signs of the Christmas holiday at our house. One of my favorite decorations is my Willow Tree Nativity scene. When the kids were much smaller, I didn’t put this decoration out because I didn’t want it to get broken. I also used to move the decorations around to make them look perfect once the kiddos were done “decorating”. In their minds, putting every single ornament on 5 chosen branches at the very bottom of the tree was perfect. I only did this for one year though - I found myself stressed and worried about things that weren't important.
I work daily to keep my focus on what really matters - realizing that Christmas isn’t about a perfect tree or keeping my Nativity scene in a box. It is about celebrating the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ and the pure joy that this should bring to everyone! I try to remember daily the reason for why we are celebrating – to see the perfection in our Lord versus perfection in everything around us. No matter what we are going through, we can always turn to a perfect God in this imperfect world. My prayer this week is that we are all able to remember this – even through the hustle and bustle of life and through the Christmas season. We put too many unrealistic expectations on ourselves – God does not. He just wants us to believe that Jesus is His son who came to seek and save the lost and to celebrate and share this wonderful news!!
As we keep our focus on God, we see the full glory of His promises. It's only when we shift our focus that the obstacles come into view and we begin to doubt. Choose to fully focus on God and receive the abundance of His promises.
This isn’t always easy for us especially when situations are difficult. It can be hard to hold on to God’s promises when a loved one is sick, when your job is in jeopardy, during financial crisis, or even when others are just being mean to you. When things don’t go the way we want or when we are suffering we can sometimes ask: Where are you God? Do you see me? Do you care?
We need to remember that God sees the bigger picture. He loves us so much He always does what is best for us, even if it is painful. God always hears our prayers and He answers us according to His perfect purposes. God promises to never leave us or forsake us. We can trust Him because He is Sovereign, Holy, All Powerful, Loving and Faithful!! So even in your difficult situations you can praise Him and believe what He says. Your situation may not change but your understanding of God will change how you respond. God loves you so much and has good plans for you!! Choose to believe what God says. You are a dearly loved child of God!!❤️
God Cares For You ...can u say, deep down, that you genuinely believe that to be true? what about when ur workplace is restructuring and u are being let go? Or u get a call from ur parents who inform u that one of them has been diagnosed w/cancer? what about when business is down and u need to make some tough decisions, or someone u care about always seems to be down on their luck & they’re facing yet another “wrong time & place” scenario? what about when you receive unexpected news about your own health or when hopes & dreams have been dashed to pieces?
here’s what I know. God knew the mess we were about to make of His good world when we decided to try our own hand at making right & wrong decisions without Him. And even while we were turning our backs on Him, He was moving to bring about our rescue! He came & entered His now sin-stained world, walked in the middle of the mess, endured the tragic consequences that we made of the place, not for Himself! He took those horrible tragedies to the cross, where they were defeated and where He busted thru even death itself! Why? why in the world would He do that? Again, it certainly wasn’t for Himself - He had been living in a state of perfect unity & community in the heavenly realm prior to His entrance on earth. So, definitely NOT for Himself...but for US! Out of His self-sacrificing, self-giving love (cus that’s what real love is) He left His throne & all its glory to do for us what we were helpless to do for ourselves. He came and won the battle against Evil. It’s been defeated. And will one day be done away with for good! in the meantime...know that there is a Name that is above all names, and He is the one who is working ALL things together for good for those who love Him. You haven’t been abandoned. He sees every big & little thing you’re walking thru, He’s there with you. And while our limited perspective looks at our circumstances and says, “the only way this situation could possibly end in a way that I think is good is if...” (fill in the blank). But, dear friends, it’s in that moment when we’ve yet again (think Adam & Eve), decided that WE know what’s good and what’s not! my encouragement - remember there is One who sees it ALL, He sees way more than our limited perspective ever will, His thoughts are not ours, His Ways are so much higher, and He is the One who is with you, leading you, navigating you thru the tough terrain that seemingly makes no sense to the human eye. He’s there and tells you to abide in Him. Don’t wander away, draw nearer - He really is for you. The tragic yet beautiful act displayed on the cross is proof! Gotta trust someone — your imperfect self? Or the flawless, perfect One who’d rather die than live without you! back to the opening sentence (and this Sunday’s big idea): “God cares for you.” It’s truer than you can imagine❤️ WHATEVER ur walking thru this week, there is One who is near & dear, He is good and He IS working to set all things right and make all things new...because He loves you that much!