When the enemies of Judah and Benjamin heard that the exiles were building a temple for the LORD, the God of Israel, they came to Zerubbabel and to the heads of the families and said, “Let us help you build because, like you, we seek your God and have been sacrificing to him since the time of Esarhaddon king of Assyria, who brought us here.” But Zerubbabel, Jeshua and the rest of the heads of the families of Israel answered, “You have no part with us in building a temple to o...ur God. We alone will build it for the LORD, the God of Israel, as King Cyrus, the king of Persia, commanded us.” Then the peoples around them set out to discourage the people of Judah and make them afraid to go on building. (Ezra 4:1-4 NIV)
Prayer: LORD, not every smiling face has good intentions; sometimes assistance is offered with a motive. Accepting the wrong “helping hand” in a time of need could bring discouragement, delay, or even failure of what You intend. Give me greater discernment to recognize those who are genuine, who You have sent to help me, as well as courage to reject those that do not have Your interests at heart. Thank You for every true help You have sent my way. In Jesus’ name,
When I look at a patch of dandelions, I see a bunch of weeds that are going to take over my yard. My kids see flowers for Mom and blowing white fluff you can wish on.
When I hear music I love, I know I can’t carry a tune and don’t have much rhythm so I sit self-consciously and listen. My kids feel the beat and move to it. They sing out the words. If they don’t know them, they make up their own.
When I feel wind on my face, I brace myself against it. I feel it messing up my ha...ir and pulling me back when I walk. My kids close their eyes, spread their arms and fly with it, until they fall to the ground laughing.
When I pray, I say thee and thou and grant me this, give me that, etc. My kids say, “Hi God! Thanks for my toys and my friends. Please keep the bad dreams away tonight. Sorry, I don’t want to go to Heaven yet. I would miss my Mommy and Daddy.”
When I see a mud puddle, I step around it. I see muddy shoes and dirty carpets. My kids sit in it. They see dams to build, rivers to cross and worms to play with.
When I look at an old drunk and he smiles at me, I see a smelly, dirty person who probably wants money and I look away. My kids see someone smiling at them and they smile back.
I wonder if we are given kids to teach or to learn from?
No wonder God says that unless we become like little children, we shall not inherit the Kingdom of God.
by Mumbi Vickie Ngangu
When I was young, I often played the game Mercy. It’s a simple game, really.
You and your opponent take both of your hands and intertwine them with each other’s. You then proceed to bend them back trying to “win the game.” When it starts to hurt beyond what you can handle, you merely yell, “Mercy!” and your opponent stops. Whoever yells “Mercy!” is the loser....
Webster defines mercy as this: Compassion shown to an offender; imprisonment rather than death imposed as penalty for first-degree murder.
In the Christian life, we are far from losers when we are given mercy. Not only was Christ’s sacrifice on the cross full of grace, but also full of mercy! We deserved that cross, not Jesus. We are the offenders, not Him. But God showed us his amazing compassion by not giving us what we deserve.
We readily accept that mercy from God and are so thankful that we aren’t given what we truly deserve. But as fast as we receive God’s mercy in our lives, we have a hard time extending it to others–for example, when we don’t forgive someone for hurting us, even though we’ve been forgiven so much (Romans 5:8).
Or when we hoard our resources during a plentiful time because we’ve forgotten what it was like to be in need.
Or it could be something as simple as not allowing a car to merge into our lane on the highway when we were just extended the same act by another kind driver.
The mercy of God is more than our finite minds will ever be able to comprehend.
We will never understand how the Creator of the Universe sent His Son to our broken earth in order to redeem mankind (Isaiah 55:8-9).
We will never grasp how wide and high and deep the love of God is (Ephesians 3:18).
But even though we don’t fully get it, it doesn’t mean we can’t receive it with open arms and rest in our eternal security through Christ’s death on the cross.
And I believe that when we really receive that and see that we don’t deserve all that’s been sent our way by a kind and loving God, we can then extend that same mercy to others.
Receive mercy. Give mercy.
A Sunday school teacher asked her class if anyone could quote the entire 23rd Psalm. A golden-haired, four-and-a-half-year-old girl was among those who raised their hands. A bit skeptical, the teacher asked if she could really quote the entire psalm. The little girl came to the front of the room, faced the class, made a perky little bow, and said, “The Lord is my shepherd, that’s all I want.” She bowed again and went and sat down. That may well be the greatest interpretation of the 23rd Psalm ever heard. –author unknown
Today, when I awoke, I suddenly realized that this is the best day of my life. Ever.
There were times when I wondered if I would make it to today. But I did! And, because I did, I’m going to celebrate!
Today, I’m going to celebrate what an unbelievable life I have had so far: the accomplishments, the many blessings, and, yes, even the hardships because they have served to make me stronger and strengthened my faith in God....
I will go through this day with my head held high and a happy heart.
I will marvel at God’s seemingly simple gifts: the morning dew, the sun, the clouds, the trees, the flowers, the birds.
No, none of these miraculous creations will escape my notice today.
Today, I will share my excitement for life with other people.
I’ll make someone smile. I’ll go out of my way to perform an unexpected act of kindness for someone I don’t even know. Today, I’ll give a sincere compliment to someone who seems down.
Today is the day I quit worrying about what I don’t have and start being grateful for all the wonderful things God has already given me. I’ll remember that to worry is just a waste of time because my faith in God and His Divine Plan ensures everything will be just fine.
And, tonight, before I go to bed, I’ll go outside and raise my eyes to the heavens. I will stand in awe at the beauty of the stars and the moon, and I will praise God for these magnificent treasures.
As the day ends and I lay my head down on my pillow, I will thank the Almighty for the best day of my life.
And I will sleep the sleep of a contented child, excited with expectation because I know tomorrow is going to be the best day of my life.
DAY 5 in our Back to School Prayer series
Prayer for Perspective (Galatians 2:20; Matthew 28:18-20; Philippians 1:21; Colossians 3:1-2; Ephesians 3:17-20)
Lord, I pray that my children will develop an eternal perspective and purpose, not an earthly one. Help them to see life–and every challenge–through Your eyes, eager and unafraid to share with others the good news of Jesus wherever they go. I pray that they will set their minds on things above, not just what’s going on here, and that they will be rooted and grounded in Your love. I pray they will come to understand the extent of Your own love for them–that it surpasses all the head knowledge they will acquire in school. I pray they will be filled up with You from morning ’til night.