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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.

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.

When do you pray? At the dinner table? At bedtime with your mother or father? These are good times to pray, but did you know that some of our best prayers happen at other times.

I prayed a special prayer once when I was young. I lived on a truck farm with my family. On a truck farm people raise many kinds of vegetables to sell to grocery stores and to people who come to the farm to buy them. Everybody worked on the farm. My brothers and sister and I helped to pull weeds in the fields. We also caught bugs and caterpillars that ate the plants.

One hot Saturday afternoon I kicked off my shoes while pulling weeds in the bean fields. On Sunday morning when we were getting ready to go to church I couldn’t find them. I really liked Sunday school and had been trying to get perfect attendance. When I couldn’t find my shoes Dad said I would have to stay home. I was about to cry. Then I remembered that I had left them in the field the day before. I ran to the field behind the barn, and then ran up and down the long rows of beans hoping I would see my shoes. But I couldn’t find them.

Then I thought about prayer. Did God really answer our prayers? Would He help me find my shoes? I stopped looking, bowed my head, and closed my eyes. “Please God, if you really do answer prayers, help me find my shoes.” Then I opened my eyes and turned around. What joy! I didn’t even have to walk again to look for my shoes because I could see them lying on the ground right behind where I was standing when I prayed.

There is a Bible verse that says, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” (Matthew 7:7 NIV)

When have you prayed for something you really wanted? Can you tell about a special prayer God has answered for you? If so, please write about it in the comments below. It is exciting to share how God shows His love to us.

Did you ever pray for something that you didn’t get? Sometimes God answers by saying “No” or “Wait a little longer.” We have to trust that God knows what is best for us. Sometimes we ask for things we want, but God knows if we are asking for things that are not good for us. When God says “No” it is still a good thing.

Heavenly Father, help us to remember to pray when we need your help. People tell us you love us. Show us your love in the way you answer our prayers. And help us to love you more and more every day. 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.