A Strong and Courageous Leader

Today we start some stories about Joshua and the conquest of Canaan. Distinctive of this leader is his strength and courage. Joshua was Moses’ servant from his youth. He had a close-up vision of the struggles this great servant of God went through. Thus, the Lord was preparing him for the great mission of leading the people into the Promised Land.

Aaron and Hur supporting Moses

Joshua’s first experience as a leader was when Moses entrusted him with the battle against the Amalekites. But Moses did not leave him alone. “I will stand on top of the hill with the staff of God in my hands” was a very encouraging promise. With the staff Moses had appeared before Pharaoh; with the staff in hand the waters of the impressive Red Sea had been opened and closed.

Joshua and the men who went with him to fight against the Amalekites knew that at the top of the hill was their leader, raising the staff of God towards heaven. When Moses hands grew tired, Aaron and Hur held his hands up until sunset, when Joshua won the battle.

Read this story in Exodus 17:8-16.

What a beautiful example of the generations serving the Lord together! The younger men at the front of the battle and the older ones supporting them with their prayers. What an example of supporting each other in prayer! As leaders pray for the younger generation, children and young people can support their leaders in prayer. When some get tired in battle, others come forth to raise their hands and support them (as Aaron and Hur did for Moses).

Use today’s story of Joshua, the valiant warrior, to encourage children to trust the Lord and to support their leaders in prayer. Praise the Lord! Hallelujah! Together we move forward in God’s Kingdom.

The encouraging words that God said to his servant Joshua, are equally encouraging for us and the children.

The new kids on the block are Eliab and Elizabeth. We have made their faces in different sizes, for you to introduce them to the children. Choose the size that best fits you. Put them in your Bible, hide them somewhere in the classroom (have some fun looking for them), put them in your pocket, attach them to a fly swatter… Enjoy introducing them, the twin grandchildren of Eleazar and Raquel.

Here is my precious grandson David presenting the twins. A small Elizabeth (to put in your Bible) and Elizabeth on a fly swatter; Eliab is on the back.

Letter size:  Eliab Elizabeth CO     Eliab Elizabeth GR     Eliab Elizabeth BW

A4 size:  Eliab Elizabeth CO A4    Eliab Elizabeth GR A4     Eliab Elizabeth BW A4

In preparation for the stories of the following weeks, read the book of Joshua. Imagine that you are one of the millions of Israelites conquering the Promised Land. Think of your leaders. Support them in prayer! Teach the children to support their leaders. More than anything, we want everyone to be strong and courageous.

Blessings to all!

Read THE PROMISED LAND story #2: A Valiant Warrior

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God Our Eternal Refuge

“The eternal God is your dwelling place, and underneath are the everlasting arms,” reads the ESV Bible. I have chosen the CEV translation for the Bible verse. It really makes it very understandable. It’s so comforting to think of the Lord carrying us in his arms.

God is our eternal dwelling place, our refuge. He has not promised us a rose covered path; but we do have the assurance that he is with us even if we go through fire and deep waters.

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
    and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;
when you walk through fire you shall not be burned,
    and the flame shall not consume you. Isaiah 43:2

Today’s verse is part of Moses’ final blessing to the people before his death. It’s interesting to observe that he was strong and vigorous until God took him home.

“Moses was 120 years old when he died. His eye was undimmed, and his vigor unabated” (Deuteronomy 34:7).

In our imaginary story, the main characters —Eleazar and Rachel— get married and start a family. In the following stories, which will be about the conquest of the Promised Land, their grandchildren —Eliab and Elizabeth— will be the ones entering into Canaan.

I have incorporated into the story things that show God’s care for his people. Their clothes did not wear out and their feet did not swell (see Deuteronomy 8:4; 29:5). God gave his people manna, which I’m sure contained all the nutrients they needed.

Another detail that has caught my attention, and makes me think that if implemented in our day might avoid many problems, and surely there would be fewer divorces. Here it is:

When a man is newly married, he shall not go out with the army or be liable for any other public duty. He shall be free at home one year to be happy with his wife whom he has taken. Deuteronomy 24:5

A year to make the love of his life happy! Our God thinks about every detail. How wonderful that he is our eternal refuge! I believe it’s interesting for children to know these details.

Some verses that speak about the Lord as our refuge: Psalm 3:3; 27:5; 28:7; 32:7; 34:7; 91:1,11,12; 119:114; Genesis 15:1; 2 Kings 6:17

Fun activity: on YouTube you can find easy instructions to make a tent. It would be fun for the children to make a tent, as Eleazar made one for him and his bride. Here are two links. The first one is super easy to make.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5tVOQST7Pig

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yT70lX6lhlg

Follow the 8 stories about entering the Promised Land.

Welcome to read story #1 today: Moses’ Final Blessing

Eleazar’s parents and Rachel’s father discussing wedding plans.

Moses viewing the Promised Land.

Read Deuteronomy 32-34, that has Moses’ final blessing to the people of Israel.

May the Lord bless you abundantly!

God’s Wonderful Plans

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Jeremiah 29:11

The previous story was about Amy Carmichael, the girl who prayed for blue eyes. The answer to her prayer was “no.” Today’s story shows why. God had plans for that Irish girl, plans that included more than 50 years in India rescuing children from the clutches of idolatry, leading them to a beautiful life with Christ. Over the years Amy was Amma (mom in Tamil) for close to a thousand girls and boys.

God has wonderful plans for each of his children. Unfortunately, many do not seek these plans because they want to do their own will; but there is nothing better than following God’s ways.

To Jeremiah the Lord said: “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations” (1: 5).

From the time of his birth, God watched over Moses, preparing him for the great mission of rescuing Israel from slavery. Have you followed the stories of The Great Escape? Joshua, who led the people in conquering the Promised Land, had years of preparation as Moses’ servant. The following stories are going to be about Conquering the Promised Land!

God had plans for Samuel, God’s answer to Hannah’s prayer. As a child, God spoke to him (see 1 Samuel 3). This child, who grew up in the temple, became a great prophet.

We have had the stories of Elijah and Elisha, men who followed God’s plans and saw wonderous miracles.

The greatest thing is God’s love and plans to save humanity. Nobody could stop him. Jesus came and gave his life as a ransom for many. We continue fulfilling God’s plans in proclaiming his holy gospel.

God had very special plans for Amy Carmichael. She gave her life for the children of India. They loved their Amma.

Find Part 2 of the story under MISSION STORIES.

Another story you find on this page is “Breakfast from Heaven” about George Muller. I received some pictures from my friend Karuna. They told the story to the children in the Maranatha Ministry and the children colored the flash-card pictures. The children don’t speak English so the story was translated for them.

What a good idea, to use the pictures in gray scale and color them!

Please pray for these precious children.

“No” is also an Answer

What do you hope for when you pray? I’m sure you’re hoping for an answer. And as you pray and bring your needs before your heavenly Father, surely you hope to receive a positive response. If the result is not what you expected, you might think that your prayer has not been answered. But “no” is also an answer. That’s what today’s story teaches.

I am very grateful to the Lord that He arranged things so that before Absalom was promoted to his home in heaven he managed to draw the necessary pictures for one of my favorite stories. I had hoped to make a series about the life of Amy Carmichael, an extraordinary missionary who dedicated her life to saving children in India from being slaves to pagan gods. At least I have two stories. God said “no” when Amy as a child asked him for blue eyes, because she would need her brown eyes in her missionary work. That’s what the next story is about.

May I ask you to pray for India. Through Facebook I have come to know an Indian lady that has a ministry to widows and orphans and children in general. Her name is Karuna. She and her husband have the Maranatha Ministry. Through Messenger, using my cell phone, I’ve talked to some of the children and they have greeted me, singing and dancing. It was exciting!

Karuna has asked me to pray especially…
• for children who have little opportunity to receive schooling
• that many children will come to know Christ

Find the story about Amy under MISSION STORIES.

After these stories we will continue with Conquering the Promised Land.

A Sanctuary in the Desert

Everything we begin has an ending. The only thing with no end is eternity. That’s why it’s so important to choose right where we will spend it. The only way to a safe and happy eternity is Jesus. No one comes to the Father without him. I hope You have made Jesus your Savior and Lord.

The Great Escape series has now come to an end; but we will not leave our friends Eleazar and Rachel wandering with no end in the desert. The purpose of the “escape” was to reach the Promised Land. Reach it they will!

Something had to happen during the 40 years in the desert. I decided these two children were such good friends they needed to spend the rest of their lives together. When the story continues they will no longer be children, but parents and grandparents.  In the next part of the story, Conquering the Promised Land, their grandchildren, Eliab and Elizabeth, will be the “stars.”

Coming… Eleazar and Rachel with their grandchildren

Just as Eleazar and Rachel saw the wonder of God opening the Red Sea, their grandchildren will cross the Jordan on dry ground. So, follow us in the sequence, where God continues to do miracles, this time the people led by Joshua.

Today’s story is about the Tabernacle, how the people of God gave offerings and volunteered their skills to build the sanctuary that would be their place of worship where God showed his presence.

One interesting detail we find in Exodus 36:6,7. People brought their freewill offerings until there was more than enough. Then Moses restrained the people from bringing offerings. I like to think how it would be today if we came to church and were not allowed to give our offerings, because there was “more than enough.” How great would that be?

Well, here is the story for today. Be blessed. Inspire the children to give themselves as a “freewill” offering to the Lord. I was ten years old when I answered Jesus’ call to tell children about him. I’ve been doing that ever since. More than 60 years with Jesus gets better every day. How I wish that for every child! And for you!!!!

Before we continue with the journey to the Promised Land I will have a mission story. Have you heard about Amy Carmichael, the Irish girl who prayed for blue eyes? She spent her entire life in India rescuing girls and boys from a life without Jesus. That’s what’s coming up next. Find out if she got the blue eyes she prayed for!

Welcome today to read The Great Escape #15: A Special Sanctuary for the Lord

Murmurings, Consequences, and Mercy

We have a gracious and merciful God. He had a merciful and humble servant. Year after year Moses endured complaining from the people of Israel. In the previous story he was upset and stroke the rock instead of talking to it.

Moses was not perfect–sometimes enough is enough! Now the people were complaining again, unhappy for the food God sent to them every morning, and once again in need of water. Water was a constant need. Men cannot live without water (women need even more!).

From Mount Hor they set out by the way to the Red Sea, to go around the land of Edom. And the people became impatient on the way. And the people spoke against God and against Moses, “Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? For there is no food and no water, and we loathe this worthless food.” Then the Lord sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people, so that many people of Israel died.

And the people came to Moses and said, “We have sinned, for we have spoken against the Lord and against you. Pray to the Lord, that he take away the serpents from us.” So Moses prayed for the people. And the Lord said to Moses, “Make a fiery serpent and set it on a pole, and everyone who is bitten, when he sees it, shall live.” So Moses made a bronze serpent and set it on a pole. And if a serpent bit anyone, he would look at the bronze serpent and live. Numbers 21:4-9

This was a foreshadow of the greatest gift to come. Jesus was lifted up on the Cross so that everyone who is bit by sin can lift up their eyes and look at Him and live. Praise the Lord, that is all of us!

The murmurings brought consequences–death in the camp! But our merciful God sent a means of salvation. “Lift up your eyes, look at the bronze serpent and live!”

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses [see chapter 11], let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:1-2

Welcome to read the story about the bronze serpent. Next time will be the last story of THE GREAT ESCAPE. But there is more… They need to reach the Promised Land! So we will have a series about conquering Canaan. I hope you will continue to follow us.

May the Lord bless you abundantly!

The story for the day, #14 in THE GREAT ESCAPE: The Bronze Serpent

 

 

 

Are You Thirsty? There Are Springs of Living Water

As a deer pants for flowing streams,
so pants my soul for you, O God.
My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.
Psalm 42:1,2

Imagine yourself in the desert with millions of people, all in search of water. The search lasts three days, when at last you reach a water source, but it’s bitter! What a disappointment! Your throat is burning with thirst… but drinking bitter water? No way! That’s worse than not drinking water at all!

That’s what the Israelites experienced in the desert. They started complaining against Moses. It was no small thing to deal with thirsty people. It has been estimated that the water supply they needed on a daily basis represents 300 train tank wagons. This was not weekly or monthly, but daily! They would have needed 30 train wagons with food, but God sent bread from heaven to supply that need. God also watched over his people to give them water.

When they reached Marah, and the waters were bitter, God showed Moses a piece of wood that would heal the waters. When he threw it in the waters, the water became sweet. After Marah they arrived at Elim, where there were twelve springs and seventy palm trees. What a refreshing place in the desert heat!

Elim, a place of springs and palm trees

Today’s story is about the rock that accompanied Israel, the rock from which water gushed out. Paul writes in a letter to the church in Corinth that the spiritual rock that followed them was Christ (1 Corinthians 10:1-5). The incident that I cover in today’s story shows the faithfulness of God, even though his servant was unfaithful. Even though we are unfaithful, the Lord remains faithful (2 Timothy 2:11-13). How precious!

God wanted to show the people his glory, but Moses was overcome by anger. That can happen to anyone, especially if someone is under the pressure that Moses felt.

Once again the people were thirsty and there was no water. But there was a rock! God had already given them water from that rock, when Moses hit it. This time God told him to speak to the rock and water would gush forth. But anger overtook him, and Moses hit the rock, twice! God was faithful and gave water to his people. But Moses paid the consequences of his disobedience. He and his brother Aaron would not be allowed to enter the Promised Land.

It may seem a cruel punishment for the man who bore the burden of leading that rebellious people for forty years to the land of promise. The rock that accompanied them was Christ. On the cross Jesus was wounded and beaten to give us the water of life. We just have to “speak” to let the rivers of water flow in our hearts.

Are you thirsty? There are springs of living water. “As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God” (Psalm 42:1,2).

May we daily thirst for God and seek more and more of Jesus.

To expand on this topic, read:
John 4:13,14; 6:35; 7:37,38; Isaiah 55:1; Matthew 5:6; Revelation 21:6; 22:17.

Texts for today’s theme: Exodus 15:22-27; 17:1-7; Numbers 20:1-13.

I have a testimony that has to do with the verse that I have chosen for today’s story. It happened in 1975, when our little family had moved to Chaclacayo, in Peru. My brother Lasse and his friend Marco (my assistant Cristina’s father) were helping us paint the rooms. There was a problem, a very short supply of water. One morning, in our devotional time, we read the passage from Exodus 23:20-25. I hadn’t noticed before the promise in those verses, but when we came to verse 25, I jumped up and cried out in excitement, because of the words that God would bless our bread and our “water.” I took it personally, and during the time we lived in that house, we had the water we needed!

Are you thirsty? Jesus is the great spring of living water. Whoever comes to him will never thirst again!

Welcome to read the Great Escape story #13:  Water from a Rock

 

I am sad to inform you that our beloved artist Absalom did not recover from the infection he had and moved from the hospital to his heavenly home. Thank you for your prayers. He will be greatly missed. Some plans will have to change but the Lord will continue to lead this ministry and provide the help I need, no doubt about that. Please pray for Absalom’s family in Costa Rica.