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If you believe something with all your heart, then it’s right for you. Or is it? A lot of people want you to believe that. They want to believe there is no true right and wrong in this world. They want to make up their own rules.

From the beginning of time God has been trying to teach us what is right and wrong. Adam and Eve broke God’s first rule by eating the only fruit in the garden God told them not to eat. People have been choosing to break God’s rules ever since that day.

God gave Moses ten rules called the Ten Commandments. But the people broke those rules as well.

Many hundreds of years passed and the people kept breaking God’s rules. Then God sent Jesus to teach us how to live in a way that pleases God. He taught about serving God by loving people. He taught people to take care of other people’s needs instead of only thinking about themselves.

Jesus healed people. He helped blind people to see, deaf people to walk, and crippled people to walk. He even raised people from the dead.

The religious leaders didn’t really care about the people. They liked to look and feel important. But Jesus could see right through them. They became jealous because the people listened to Jesus. Jesus said he was God’s Son. This really made the religious leaders angry, so they had Jesus killed. They caused him to be crucified on a cross.

The best part is that Jesus didn’t stay dead. Jesus came back alive and appeared to many people again. After many days, the people saw Jesus float up into heaven. He promised to come back again one day. We are still waiting for that day. It could be very soon.

If we will learn all we can about Jesus and about how he taught us to live, we will grow closer to God. One day when Jesus was talking to the people he said, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6  NIV)

Don’t miss the joy of knowing Jesus in a personal way. And don’t miss out on the chance to live forever with Jesus. Read about Jesus in the Bible and pray to God every day. And don’t let anyone fool you into believing there are many ways to God. That doesn’t fit what Jesus said.

Copyright © 2010 by Janice D. Green

Scripture quoted by permission. Quotations designated (NIV) are from THE HOLY BIBLE: NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.

Do you ever feel like everything is piling up on you? You messed up at school on a big assignment, your best friend got mad at you (or you don’t even have a best friend), and when you got home your family acted like you weren’t even there… Life can be tough sometimes, even for kids. I hope you have a family that loves you and helps you to believe in yourself. But even if you don’t, you have a heavenly Father who loves and cares for you. Jesus loves you in the very same way. He even died for you on a cross to prove it. And he rose up from the grave to prove that he was God’s son.

Once Jesus was talking to a large crowd of people when he said: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”  (Matthew 11:28-30  NIV)

Those might seem like some big words for kids to understand, but Jesus was telling those people to bring their problems to him and let him help them solve them.

Jesus uses the word “yoke” when he talked to the people. They knew what a yoke was, but maybe you don’t understand it. In Bible days two oxen were used together to pull heavy carts and wagons. The yoke made it easier for the animals to share the load as they pulled the wagon. Jesus is willing to share our hard times and help to make it easier for us.

Jesus promises to go through hard times with us like a best friend. If we learn to live the way he teaches us to live, he will help us to feel good about ourselves and will help us to enjoy life.

Copyright © 2010 by Janice D. Green

Scripture quoted by permission. Quotations designated (NIV) are from THE HOLY BIBLE: NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.

I wrote a review on this great Bible story book when I first began writing this blog. But today I learned that its publisher, Zondervan, also has videos online to go with these stories. I watched the first one about when Jesus was born, and it was sooooo good I had to pass it on to my readers. Check out this link and see for yourself how good these stories are:

The Jesus Storybook Bible – video

Blue Moon one day late. It was cloudy the night of Dec. 31, so I took this on Jan. 1, 2010.

 

Tonight, December 31, 2009, we will have a blue moon. 

Does that mean it will look blue? Not really. “Blue Moon” is an expression that we use whenever we have a second full moon in a month. 

What is a full moon? A full moon happens when the sun and moon are on the opposite sides of the earth so the sun lights up every part that faces the earth. 

How often do we get a full moon? It takes twenty-nine and a half days for the moon to revolve around the earth, so we get one full moon every twenty-nine and a half days. Since most of our months are 30 or 31 days, we get two full moons in the same month only about once every two and a half years. 

You might want to take a look at the moon tonight if you stay up late for New Year’s Eve. It will look the same as any other full moon, but we call it a “blue moon.” This happens on New Year’s Eve about once every twenty years. 

Genesis 1:14-18 tells us that God made the sun, moon, and stars to give us light and to mark the days, months, years, and the seasons. The moon causes the tides in the ocean and is important in many of the life cycles of animals in the ocean. When you look at the moon, think of the awesome God who created it and thank him for being so wise to work out so many things for us. 

© 2009 by Janice D. Green

I listened to the song Mary Did You Know? several times this evening. Isn’t that what Christmas is really all about? Mary had a baby whose father was God. Mary had no idea what would happen in the days and months and years ahead with the Christ child.

How could she know? Her baby would turn the world upside-down with his teachings, and his miracles. The very church he came to build up rejected him, and had him crucified. But Jesus was God, and he rose from the dead.

But Mary knew none of this the night baby Jesus was born. Somehow she must have known she had seen a miracle just the same. The shepherds witnessed the miracle of the angels who told them where to find the baby Jesus. Later the wise men came to see Jesus too. We know it was later because by then they were living in a house, not in the stable.

Listen to the song, Mary Did You Know (click on title), as sung by Bethany Haberer and imagine yourself looking into Mary’s eyes and at baby Jesus as you listen. Imagine the sounds and the smells of the stable. Imagine the shepherds on the hillside listening to the angels, and then finding the baby Jesus in a manger like they said.

Heavenly Father, help me to feel your presence this Christmas. Don’t let my Christmas wish list of things I want get in the way of experiencing a real Christmas: the joy of remembering that you sent your Son Jesus to live on earth so we could know you. Amen

Do you ever find it hard to do what is right, even though you know what you should do? Perhaps a friend wants you to steal some candy from a store. Or maybe several classmates are making fun of someone. Will you join them or stick up for the child they are laughing at?

Jesus once lived on earth just like us. He knows what it is like to be around people who would try to get us to do bad things. And Jesus is here for us now to help us to do good.

Jesus said to his disciples, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.”- John 15:5,8 (NIV)

So how does this work? How do we become a branch on Jesus’ vine so we can bear much fruit? We begin by believing in Jesus and making a promise to him to live for him. We also have to tell him about the sinful things we have done and ask him to forgive us. Then Jesus will live in your heart and help you to live in a way that pleases God. He will also let you live in heaven with him forever when you die.

Doing the right things can still be hard at times, especially if we think we have already done everything God wants. We need to do more than start with Jesus, we need to keep on talking to him in prayer and living to please him. We need to read his book, the Bible, so we will learn more about how Jesus wants us to live. The more we spend time with Jesus in prayer and in the Bible, the more we will be like him. It is also important to go regularly to a church that believes Jesus is the Son of God. Christian teachers, pastors, and friends can help us to learn what the Bible says. They can also help us remain in Jesus and bear much fruit.

Father God, thank you for showing me the way to know you through Jesus. Come and live in my heart. Forgive my sins, especially when I _________________. Help me to always look to you for the strength I need to do the things that please you. Thank you for making me and for showing all people the best way to live together in peace. Amen.

© 2009 by Janice D. Green

Scripture quoted by permission. Quotations designated (NIV) are from THE HOLY BIBLE: NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.

Do you have friends who wear a WWJD bracelet? The letters stand for “What Would Jesus Do?” People wear these bracelets to remind themselves to think of what Jesus would do when they are tempted to do somthing they shouldn’t. This is a good way to remind yourself to think about Jesus when friends want you to do bad things.

Do you think the bracelet always works? What if you saw someone who was wearing a WWJD cheat on a test or take someone’s pencil when they thought nobody was looking? Or maybe you heard them say unkind things about another kid. Do you really know someone is trustworthy just because they are wearing a WWJD bracelet?

An expresion I sometimes hear people say is “Your actions speak louder than your words.” Kids wearing a WWJD bracelet are telling the world that they do what Jesus says. But if they don’t act like they are listening to what Jesus says, their actions are speaking louder than their bracelet about what kind of person they really are.

When we obey Jesus’ rules we are bearing fruit. There is a Bible verse  that says, “Produce fruit in keeping with repentance… “(Luke 3:8 NIV) Jesus is saying that it isn’t enough to look like a Christian, to wear a WWJD bracelet or a cross on a necklace. We must do what Jesus tells us to do.

Father God, work in our hearts to help us want to please you from the inside out. Help us to bear fruit for you in everything we do. Amen.

© 2009 by Janice D. Green

Scripture quoted by permission. Quotations designated (NIV) are from THE HOLY BIBLE: NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.

Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 NIV)

 I probably don’t have to tell any of my readers who live in the United States that Thursday is Thanksgiving. Every school kid knows that they get out of school for two or three days because it is Thanksgiving. And most kids probably were asked by one or more teachers to tell what they were thankful for during the last day in class before the Thanksgiving vacation days when school was closed. 

When I was a school librarian I sometimes asked my students to tell or write about something they were thankful for. Some would mention their mother or father, family, or friends. Others might mention something that had been given to them. But Tommy and a few others couldn’t think of anything to be thankful for. Tommy didn’t wear name brand clothes and he probably didn’t make all As, but his clothing was nice and he wasn’t failing. I sensed that Tommy’s real problem was a spirit of discontentment. He wanted things some of his classmates had and felt cheated somehow because he couldn’t have them.

How many of us are like Tommy? We watch commercials on TV and see things we want. We become jealous of our friends’ nice clothes or their fancy cell phones.

When I was in high school my family camped beside a lake two summers while my father went to college in a different state than were we lived. The first summer we camped for 11 weeks and enjoyed fishing and swimming every day we were there. Before the second summer we purchased a boat. My brother also bought a SCUBA tank. You would have thought the second summer would have been fantastic. But money was tight and we could only buy a little gasoline for the boat. We also couldn’t afford to fill the SCUBA tank as often as we wanted. So the rest of the time we had to settle for doing the same things we had done the summer before. And even though those things were wonderful the first summer, they weren’t good enough any more. Seven weeks into the summer we packed up our tent and our boat and went back home for the rest of the summer.

1 Thessalonians 5:18 says we should give thanks in all circumstances. Not only when we have all of our wants met. If we are willing to thank God for everything, for the air we breathe, for our health, for a soft place to sleep and a blanket to cover us, for clothing to keep us warm, for someone to love us, we will have discovered the secret of real joy.

If we let jealousy and discontentment get in the way of being thankful for the blessings we have, we lose our joy. But if we are willing to look on the bright side, to see the many blessings that are ours and we take the time to thank God for them, we will learn the secret of true happiness.

Thank God for your blessings. If you still can’t think of any blessings, go to Google and do a search for something like world hunger or aids orphans. Then think again about the blessings you have and thank God for being so good to you.

Father God, enable our hearts to be thankful in everything. Help us to willing to care more about others’ needs than about our wants.

Copyright © 2009 by Janice Green

Scripture quoted by permission. Quotations designated (NIV) are from THE HOLY BIBLE: NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.

You are getting your gear together to go on a camping trip. You have your clothes, your sleeping bag… What else will you need? Did you remember a flashlight so you can see to walk around at night? Does your flashlight have fresh batteries?

There were no flashlights in Bible times. Instead they used oil lamps to see at night. Psalm 119:105 says, “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.” (NIV)

What does this verse mean?” The Bible is often called the Word of God. Do you think you could use a Bible instead of a flashlight to walk around in the dark when you are camping? Of course not. And that isn’t what the Psalm writer meant either.

Sometimes it seems dark, even when the sun is shining. Sometimes we have problems that are so difficult that it feels dark inside us. We wonder which way to go, what to do. Perhaps you have friends who try to get you to do things that are wrong. Someone may be bullying you. Or you may know about someone who is hurting another person, but you don’t know how to get them to stop. These things make us feel dark inside.

Psalm 119:105 tells us that the Bible is our light. That doesn’t mean we will just happen to turn to the right page when we have a problem and the answer will jump out at us. But it does mean that if we will take the time every day to read a little more, we will be prepared for the hard times when they come. Reading the Bible every day is like charging your batteries so your flashlight will shine when it gets dark.

You may be facing dark days already. If you haven’t yet started reading the Bible, get started. Meanwhile, find an older friend who has been reading it a long time to talk to about those dark problems. Maybe their batteries will be charged up enough to light your way for now. They might show you some of the best places in the Bible for you to start reading as well.

Jesus said to them: “Watch out that no one deceives you. Many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am he,’ and will deceive many. (Mark 13:5-6 NIV)

Has anyone ever told you a lie and you believed them?  There is a picture book by Evaline Ness called Sam Bangs and Moonshine. In this story a little boy named Thomas believed a lie that an older girl called “Sam” told him. She said he could find her baby kangaroo out on the rocks in the ocean. The little boy ran out on the rocks to find it because he always believed Sam’s lies. Meanwhile a storm came up and the tide came in. Thomas was rescued, but he got very sick and might have drowned if the men hadn’t gotten to him in time.

Sam learned her lesson about telling lies (her dad called lying moonshine). I hope little Thomas learned how to know when someone was lying to him as he grew up.

Today’s Bible verse tells us to be careful to not let anyone deceive us. Sam deceived Thomas with her lies. Has anyone ever tried to deceive you? Perhaps someone wanted you to steal some candy in a store so they told you it was free. Perhaps someone wanted you to try some drugs and they said it would make you feel good. People who tell you things like this are trying to deceive you. They are not your friends.

The biggest deceiver of all is Satan. He doesn’t want you to believe in Jesus. He wants you to make bad choices, so he makes them seem like fun. But his “fun” doesn’t last. Like Thomas on the rocks in the storm, the fun ended suddenly. Remember Satan wants to hurt us.

Satan’s biggest lie is to pretend that he is Jesus. The Bible tells us that Jesus will come again and make everything good. He will put an end to Satan forever. Satan knows this is going to happen. So he keeps looking for ways to spread lies. His worst trick is to make a bad person look like he is Jesus’ friend, so the bad person can pretend to lead you to Jesus. But this person isn’t really Jesus’ friend and he will do everything he can to keep you from knowing Jesus.

How can you know if you are being lied to about Jesus? How can you know if you are learning the good things God wants you to know? The answers are in the Bible. It is important to start learning what the Bible really says while you are young. Then you will know if someone is teaching you true things about Jesus.

Here are two good things to remember about when Jesus will come again:

The Bible (see Matt 24:36) tells us that nobody knows the day or the hour that Jesus is coming. So if anyone tells you what day Jesus is going to come, you can know that they are wrong. Jesus said not even the angels know when Jesus will return. Only God knows.

The Bible says that when Jesus comes everyone will know it at once. Nobody will have to say to you, “Here he is.” It will happen very fast like lightening across the sky. So if someone tells you Jesus has come, don’t believe it. You would have found out at the same time. (To learn more, read Matthew 24.)

Father God, keep us close to your heart. Help us to learn from your Bible. Guide us to the parts we can understand best, and help us to keep learning new things. Help us to know when deceivers are trying to teach us wrong things. Help us keep our eyes on you. Help us to know Jesus so well that so nobody else can fool us into believing that they are really Jesus. Amen.

© 2009 by Janice D. Green

Scripture quoted by permission. Quotations designated (NIV) are from THE HOLY BIBLE: NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.

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