On Wings Of Eagles

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Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Little Samuel

1 Samuel 1:21-22 (ESV)
21 The man Elkanah and all his house went up to offer to the Lord the yearly sacrifice and to pay his vow. 22 But Hannah did not go up, for she said to her husband, “As soon as the child is weaned, I will bring him, so that he may appear in the presence of the Lord and dwell there forever.”

A woman named Hannah, living in the tribal territory of Ephraim in the 11th century b.c., had a tough life. Not only was she unable to have a child; she was part of a polygamous marriage, and her rival wife had many sons and daughters and taunted poor Hannah cruelly because of it. Hannah prayed repeatedly for a child and nothing happened.

But then—her miracle. She bore a son, a gift from God, and she named him “Sh’mu-El,” Samuel, which means “heard by God.” Whereupon she decided to do the most amazing thing, so great was her overwhelming gratitude to God: “When her husband Elkanah went up with all his family to offer the annual sacrifice to the Lord and to fulfill his vow, Hannah did not go. She said to her husband, ‘After the boy is weaned, I will take him and present him before the Lord, and he will live there always’”.

Astonishing! She took her little miracle boy to the town of Shiloh, current location of the ark of the covenant and altar of sacrifice to the Lord, and placed him into the care of Eli, the high priest. What a sacrifice! Even more amazing is the child champion who made the best of his new home. What a brave little man! Do you suppose he ever cried, “I want my mom!”?

Samuel grew up to be one of the greatest prophets in Israel’s history.

Dear Lord, help us to be like Hannah and see our children as gifts from You. Help us to teach them to love and serve You. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Naaman’s servant girl

2 Kings 5:2-3 (ESV)
2 Now the Syrians on one of their raids had carried off a little girl from the land of Israel, and she worked in the service of Naaman's wife. 3 She said to her mistress, “Would that my lord were with the prophet who is in Samaria! He would cure him of his leprosy.”

The Bible’s main characters are almost all adults. Almost. But there are some amazing children in the narrative of God’s plan of salvation. One of them is a little Israelite girl (name, alas, unknown) who had been taken captive by raiders from Aram (Syria). What of her parents? Were they killed? captives also? safe back home grieving over their lost daughter? We are not told.

What kind of mind-set would you expect the girl to have? Brooding over the injustice of her forced servitude? Seeking to sabotage operations in a military household? Crafting plans for an escape as soon as the opportunity presented itself? Plotting to assassinate the Syrian general as an act of patriotism? None of the above. Hearing that her master was plagued with leprosy, she offered information to help him: “Now bands of raiders from Aram had gone out and had taken captive a young girl from Israel, and she served Naaman’s wife. She said to her mistress, ‘If only my master would see the prophet who is in Samaria! He would cure him of his leprosy’” (2 Kings 5:2,3).

It could not have gone better for General Naaman the Leper. He met the great Israelite prophet Elisha, who put him in touch with Israel’s God. He was healed completely, and in gratitude he exclaimed, “Now I know that there is no God in all the world except in Israel” (verse 15).

Amazing! Never say, “Only a child.”

Dear Lord, we thank You for the children. Help us to look at the children around us with Your eyes. Help us to take the time to nurture them and bring their potential out. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.

Monday, November 12, 2018

A legacy of character and faith

Joshua 4:21-22 (ESV)
21 And he said to the people of Israel, “When your children ask their fathers in times to come, ‘What do these stones mean?’ 22 then you shall let your children know, ‘Israel passed over this Jordan on dry ground.’

Ruth Bell Graham was raised in China where her parents were medical missionaries. During this time, the Chinese people resented all foreigners, calling them “foreign devils.” It was common for Ruth to hear of Chinese Christians and missionaries laying their lives down as martyrs for their faith.

In spite of the chaos around them, singing and laughter was often heard coming out of the Bell home. Ruth learned from her parents’ example of prayer and Bible study. Ruth’s parents had the priority to heal souls and bodies of the Chinese, but little did they know, they were helping shape a little girl to become a great woman of God. Their faithful service to their Savior was impacting their daughter. They were leaving a legacy.

In 1937, shortly after Shanghai fell to the Japanese, Ruth said goodbye to her family and left China for Wheaton College. A few months later, she accepted a date with a young man named Billy. After that first date she prayed, “Lord, if You’d let me serve You with that man, I’d consider it the greatest privilege of my life.” The Grahams went on to have perhaps the most well-known evangelistic ministry—Billy to the masses and Ruth to the individual. Their deepest core desire was for people to come to know Christ in a personal way.

The couple had five children. Billy was often traveling for months at a time, so Ruth put her heart into raising their children. Her children watched their father reach the masses and their mother love people—one by one—into God’s family.

Billy summed up her passion well:

"The greatest legacy one can pass on to one's children and grandchildren is not money or other material things accumulated in one's life, but rather a legacy of character and faith.”

We see the Israelites crossing the Jordan after 40 years in the wilderness. God rolled back the water and they walked across. What a poignant moment! The barren wilderness behind them and a new chapter before them. God gave specific instructions to bring 12 stones from the middle of the Jordan. Following God’s instructions, they piled them as a sign, a monument, of the miracle God had done. In the future, when the children asked, “What do these stones mean?” they could share the legacy.

What legacy are you leaving your children? How will your children remember you? Will it be a legacy of character and faith—a legacy that shares of God’s goodness?

Dear Lord, we pray that we would leave a legacy for our children. Help us to do the things that would bring honor to You. In the Name of Jesus, Amen. 

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Mr. Rogers’ Hero

1 John 3:11 (ESV)
For this is the message that you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another.

Most of us remember that kind-hearted, gentle, soft-spoken man who invited us into his neighborhood each day. Suddenly, we weren’t sitting in our living room watching TV. We were transported to his world where we were surrounded by puppets, trains and kindness. We learned that kids matter and are worthy of love and acceptance. We learned about anger, trust, courage and sadness. Rogers, an ordained minister, used media to teach kids about morals.

Motivated by the way television addressed children, Mr. Rogers set out to change how people viewed children. Over 3 decades, he became an icon to some and a friend to millions.

Behind the cardigan was a message that is encapsulated with this quote by Fred Rogers,

“Anyone who does anything to help a child is a hero to me."

We learn the importance of love in our families and relationships. The early church was a great example of this sacrificial love. They met together and immediately started meeting needs. They even sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need (Acts 2:44-45). It was an example of love in action.

When we show loyal love and kindness to our kids, they notice. We are teaching them how to be kind to others. Proverbs 3:3 says, “Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart.”

Our children are watching and they notice whether we love others—in words and actions! Jesus is the prime example of this kindness. In love, He laid down His life for us. While we were sinners and completely undeserving of mercy, Jesus died for us. As our passage today points out, He calls us to be sacrificial toward our brothers and sisters in need. That is how God’s love is shown to others—in actions and truth!

Dear Lord, help us to love the children. Help us to find ways that we can love them and show them Your love. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Reflections of Dwight L. Moody

Deuteronomy 11:19 (ESV)
You shall teach them to your children, talking of them when you are sitting in your house, and when you are walking by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.

As a graduate of Moody Bible Institute I always love reading stories of Dwight L. Moody who was one of the great evangelists of the nineteenth century. His father died when Dwight was only 4 years old, leaving his mother to raise 9 children who were under the age of 13. With only a fifth-grade education, Moody moved to Boston at the age of 17 with the goal of making a lot of money. Shortly after his move, he found faith in Jesus Christ and came to the realization that his goal of making money may not be honoring to God. He spent the rest of his life in various evangelistic and discipleship causes, becoming one of the more effective evangelists of all time. It is thought that he presented the gospel to over 100 million people.

Moody surprised many be saying:

"If I could relive my life, I would devote my entire ministry to reaching children for God!"

Even after all his countless accomplishments, how can the evangelist have said that he would throw all that away to devote it to reaching children for God. In fact, many have reported that Moody came back from a revival and reported that 2 ½ people were saved. His listener responded, “You mean two adults and one child?” Moody responded, “No, two children and one adult. When you save a child, you save a life—a whole life.”

Perhaps Moody knew that people are most open to the gospel when they are children. They absorb biblical information easily and they are moldable. They are formulating their perceptions of God, the world, and people. In general, they have longer to live and impact others for Christ.

God’s instructions to the Jewish people were clear. He wanted them to teach His commands to their children and reiterate those teachings often—when they sat at home, when they walked along the road, when they lay down, and then they got up. Each event of the day could be used to teach God’s principles to a child.

The children in your sphere of influence will only be children for a short time. Will God use you to change the spiritual course of their lives?

Dear Lord, we pray for wisdom today so that we may know how to reach the children. Give us the words that will touch their life for You. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.

Friday, November 9, 2018

A Divine Appointment

Mark 9:36-37 (ESV)
36 And he took a child and put him in the midst of them, and taking him in his arms, he said to them, 37 “Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, and whoever receives me, receives not me but him who sent me.”

Wess Stafford was raised in rural West Africa, the son of missionaries. He grew to love the African people. While witnessing poverty firsthand, he watched many of his friends die of easily-treatable diseases. Wess’ childhood was a difficult one due to the abuse and hardship he endured at a boarding school. He recounts being beaten 17 times a week on average during those years. The abuse was horrendous and went on for several years.

The abuse and hardships provided Wess with a heart for the most vulnerable of children, a passion that would benefit many. He served as the president of Compassion International from 1993-2013 and helped release children from poverty in Jesus’ name.

"Every child you encounter is a divine appointment." – Wess Stafford

We read that Jesus valued His interactions with children as well. Throughout His ministry, Jesus highlighted the value of a child. In fact, Jesus said that when we welcome a child, we welcome Him. Young ones are often void of pride, hypocrisy and haughtiness. Instead they are teachable and humble. They are indeed a divine appointment!

How would our lives be different if we lived with Stafford’s quote in mind. Instead of seeing children (our own or others) as a distraction or an inconvenience, what if we view them as a divine appointment?

“Jesus said, ‘Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these’”.

Let’s follow Jesus’ example and pour into the life of a child today.

Dear Lord, Thanks You for the children that are all around us. Help us to not look at them as distractions but as a divine appointment form You to make a difference in their life. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Let’s build strong children.

Proverbs 22:6  (ESV)
Train up a child in the way he should go;
    even when he is old he will not depart from it.

At 13-years of age, slave Frederick Douglass longed for someone to confide in; he longed for a father and protector. A pastor encouraged him to cry out to God because He would always be such a friend. The pastor explained about sin and repentance and how to be reconciled to God. As a result, Frederick cast all his cares on God and accepted God’s gift of salvation. He suddenly saw his world in a new light. He began to love all men, including slaveholders, though he abhorred slavery more than ever. His desire to learn increased, especially when it came to the Bible.

He began to teach himself how to read and write and he passed his knowledge on to other slaves by teaching them how to read the New Testament. More than 40 slaves would attend his weekly instruction. Eventually, the study was discovered by the slaveowners, who violently forced the slaves to stop.

This abolitionist and statesman is considered by many to be the most influential African American of the nineteenth century. Douglass is quoted as saying,

"It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men."

Solomon shares the importance of giving children a strong foundation in the faith while they are young. Training up children in “the way they should go” means directing them toward the Savior and teaching them the ways of God. Even at a young age, children can comprehend their need for a Savior and accept His gift of salvation.

Discipline is also an integral part of raising godly children. Godly discipline is rooted in love and the Bible says it produces a harvest of righteousness for those who have been trained by it (Hebrews 12:11).

As Douglass said, it is easier to be diligent in raising strong children than to repair broken adults. How are you training your children up in the ways of the Lord? Are you giving them a strong foundation in the ways of God? Consistently share your faith with your children and encourage them to make it their own in a personal and intimate way. 

Dear Lord, thank You for the children that are in our life. Help us to train them in a way that You would have us to. Give us the strength to mold them into fine young men and women. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.