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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.

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.

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.

Is it hard to remember to pray or read your Bible at bedtime? That is hard for many people.

Jesus Wants All of MeJesus Wants All of Me, written by Phil A. Smouse,  is a great book of devotions that was written for small children. It is easy to read, has nice pictures, a short Bible verse and a prayer for every day of the year. It even has a place for you to write your thoughts to share with Jesus. You might ask your parents to look for a copy of this book for you to read every day.