Joy Comes in the Morning

In Samuel, we have been reading about many people in conflict, Conflicts that have escalated. Conflicts where God steps in and says enough is enough, ending someone’s life. We have read about massive battles which ends in loss of life. We have also read about the end of friendships.  Jillian’s recap on Monday was so helpful to remind us of the Saul/Samuel/David/Jonathan intertwined story.  Rachel recapped yesterday’s reading with the Saul reaching the end of his rope and asking Samuel to rise from the dead to help him.  Today’s reading in 1 Samuel 29 is no exception to conflict and confusion. In today’s reading, David comes to help yet is sent away.

But the commanders of the Philistines were angry with him. And the commanders of the Philistines said to him, “Send the man back, that he may return to the place to which you have assigned him. He shall not go down with us to battle, lest in the battle he become an adversary to us. For how could this fellow reconcile himself to his lord? Would it not be with the heads of the men here? Is not this David, of whom they sing to one another in dances,

‘Saul has struck down his thousands,
    and David his ten thousands’?”

It’s been a lot of heavy reading around Samuel, Saul and David.  Then, we have the chance to read Psalm 30.   The title is uplifting: Joy Comes with the Morning. A Psalm of David.

The Philistines appear angry in today’s verse. Maybe they are overworked and underpaid. Maybe they are just downright worn out. Maybe they were still in mourning over Samuel dying. Maybe they are starting to mistrust everyone’s intent. Maybe they just want all the fighting and wars to be over?

Sometimes our days may seem like mini battles or wars. Maybe we are just downright tired. Maybe we don’t know what to do next to solve a certain problem. I know sometimes at night, I lay there and pray. I think about what I’m asking God to help me solve or overcome or have more patience with in my days. I might drift off and then in the morning “joy” comes. I feel relieved for some reason. Ready to tackle the day or ready to work harder at resolving a situation. It just seems as if God lifts my problems overnight or at least eases my burden. In our readings today, it certainly seems as if God is trying to lift up David. Let us be glad!

10Hear O Lord, and be merciful to me!
    O Lord, be my helper!”

11 You have turned for me my mourning into dancing;
    you have loosed my sackcloth
    and clothed me with gladness,
12 that my glory may sing your praise and not be silent.
    O Lord my God, I will give thanks to you forever!

Wishing you all a “joyful” morning.

David and Goliath

1 Samuel 17, Psalm 18

This past week, I heard a sermon by Pastor Lanny Westphal entitled “Mission Impossible”.  He started with “do you remember” the old TV show prior to the Mission Impossible movies? The show started with the phrase “should you choose to accept this Mission…..”.

Mission Impossible Theme Song

The title and theme are so relevant to today’s verse in 1 Samuel 17. David’s mission did seem impossible!  Here he was with the Israelites, looking down into the Valley of Elah, ready to enter the camp of the Philistines on the other side of the valley.

 And there came out from the camp of the Philistines a champion named Goliath of Gath, whose height was six[a] cubits[b] and a span. He had a helmet of bronze on his head, and he was armed with a coat of mail, and the weight of the coat was five thousand shekels[c] of bronze. And he had bronze armor on his legs, and a javelin of bronze slung between his shoulders. The shaft of his spear was like a weaver’s beam, and his spear’s head weighed six hundred shekels of iron. And his shield-bearer went before him. He stood and shouted to the ranks of Israel, “Why have you come out to draw up for battle? Am I not a Philistine, and are you not servants of Saul? Choose a man for yourselves, and let him come down to me. If he is able to fight with me and kill me, then we will be your servants. But if I prevail against him and kill him, then you shall be our servants and serve us.”

If you read the footnote, it says a cubit is 18 inches.  So Goliath of Gath was over 9 feet tall.  That’s huge even in today’s world!  The description continues to scare us with the helmet and armor and spear and shield.  I can hear the booming voice of this giant.  Then, within the Israelite camp, David is the one who want to take on the giant.

32 And David said to Saul, “Let no man’s heart fail because of him. Your servant will go and fight with this Philistine.”

David showed conviction, courage and purpose. He was going to take on the giant. He knew the Lord would be with him. But Saul doubted him because of his youth, immaturity, inexperience and most likely his size.

And Saul said to David, “You are not able to go against this Philistine to fight with him, for you are but a youth, and he has been a man of war from his youth.”

Saul and David continue to banter until Saul reluctantly allows him to go.

37 And David said, “The Lord who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.” And Saul said to David, “Go, and the Lord be with you!”

We then read on to hear Saul trying to arm David by cloaking him with all kinds of gear:   armor, a helmet, and a sword. However, David did not need all this extra battle gear. He went with his slingshot and 5 flat stones. He felt confident with what he knew.   As we continue Goliath “disdained him”. I’m sure he thought who is this “kid” they have sent, almost thinking it was disrespectful of the Israelites.

Then, out of nowhere comes the stone, hits Goliath in the forehead and down he goes.

Mission Possible. Mission Accomplished.

Saul doubted David, but David stood tall. I think about this story in so many different ways. Do we charge forth and take on our giants, whether that be at work, or a sickness or a person who is standing in our way?  Do we feel confident as we go?  Do we arm our children when they want to take on their giants? Do we boost there confidence or hold them back, doubting their abilities because we don’t want them to get hurt?  Are we asking God to stand with us when we go to battle?

Do you choose to take on missions that seem impossible or only those that seem possible? What mission are you going to tackle this week? What is your Goliath? With God behind you, you can be courageous and take on the world.

Be gracious to me, O Lord

Be gracious to me, O Lord, for I am languishing;
heal me, O Lord, for my bones are troubled.
My soul also is greatly troubled.
But you, O Lord—how long?

As I started reading 1 Samuel 5, I knew right away it would be a hard chapter to write on. As I turned to Psalm 6, it certainly fit the circumstances of my life at the moment. I thought to myself “is this my mother’s prayer right now?” Unfortunately, my mom is not in good health. She has had Parkinson’s for over 18 years and has fared extremely well thanks to an excellent physician and just being a healthy person. She has always handled her condition with grace, never complaining nor wanting to discuss it, just dealing with the cards she has been dealt.  However, in the last few months, the tide has turned. She and my dad (who is 10 years older than she is) visited at Christmas. When I asked them to come, they hesitated and it took them two weeks to say yes. When they arrived, I knew why. Her health was starting to fail. She really needed assistance to walk, get dressed, administer her medicine and just monitor what was going on. I had a few moments of frustration during the visit thinking to myself “why did they come, what if she falls (which she did several times), they should not have come, this is too much”.  In the end, after realizing we had to monitor her at all times due to falling, we did have a good visit and I tried my best to make it a happy holiday for all, knowing this was the last trip to Illinois.

Once back at home, she did not recover well from the trip and continued to go so far downhill including a stay in the hospital. After a few days, she was moved to rehab center and will be there for quite some time. Some days are good, some days she can’t talk to me because her mind is not right. It is difficult to hear and see this strong person becoming so feeble and lose her mind.

As I read this verse in Psalm 4, it made me think of her. Is she thinking this same thought? Is she ready to go be with her mother and grandmother, both wonderful people? Is she crying out in pain and agony? Our family has always been full of faith: when it’s your time, God will call you. We have not feared death. I see that in my dad now too. He’s letting it all play out.

After I wrote this original draft over the weekend, I did talk to her a few times this week. Luckily, she has been having better days. She is thinking more clearly and almost begging me to “get her out” of there. She obviously is not ready to go to heaven. She may be wondering ‘what is God intending in this rehab place”, but deep down, she’s not ready to go anywhere but home.  I hope the Lord has mercy on her as we aren’t ready for her to go either.  May God help my mom and my dad have peace and comfort this week.

Be gracious to me, O Lord, for I am languishing;
heal me, O Lord, for my bones are troubled.
My soul also is greatly troubled.
But you, O Lord—how long?


The Lord Controls Wise and Foolish People

Proverbs 21

Proverbs 21 is full of short bursts of information for us to consider.  As I read through the chapter several times, three particular verses stood out:

1 In the Lord’s hand the king’s heart is a stream of water
that he channels toward all who please him..

5 The plans of the diligent lead to profit
as surely as haste leads to poverty.

21 Whoever pursues righteousness and love
finds life, prosperity[a] and honor.

In this introductory statement, God talks to us about leadership. “Kings” or people of different levels of leadership will exist. No matter who the “kings” are in our life, God is calling the shots. He is trying to promote good leadership, following his plan. He is working on the outcome, directing the various leaders. If a person has power, how will God try to work through the heart with actions? I don’t know that we always see that positive outcome in the short term but we have to trust that he is in charge of the long term.

I like verse 5 because I am a planner (and yes, I know a few of you out there are planners too!). Plan ahead. Planning serves us well. We can’t plan for everything in our days or our lives, but plan what you can and it will help you be prepared for whatever might come your way. I know if I plan for the week, at least I have some idea of what’s ahead. It might change or more might be added but it helps get a handle on daily life. This message reinforces the benefit of being thoughtful. If we take the time to think through situations and listen for God’s message about our plans, it will serve him well and pleases him. He also sends the message that if you operate on the fly or “shoot from the hip”, in the end you will fail or at the very least, you will be behind.

Verse 21 is my favorite and very needed this week. If you pursue the right path, if you are a good person, in the end you will be fulfilled. Look for ways to follow the righteous path and your will have a good life. Sometimes do you feel though that the good people get the short straw? Or they aren’t selected for a team or for a new role? We have to have patience. It doesn’t always show in the short run, but in this verse, we see the long term view. If things don’t go our way at times, in the end, God is showing us that will prevail.

What I liked about this verse was how it relates to the next few verses in Proverbs: “Thirty Sayings of the Wise”. Should be a good week of reading for us!


Joshua 9. Proverbs 9.

On December 1st last year, I posted on “Harsh Words”. Betrayal. Trial. Denial. Today, we add another harsh word: Deception. What comes to mind when you think of the word deception? Have you ever been deceived? I imagine the answer is yes. I can think of a number of instances of deception in my life, some very harmful. I could get worked up just thinking about one particular deceptive friendship (or so I thought it was a friendship.)

In the case of today’s story, it’s an interesting twist. The strategy of deception was used so that the Gibeonites would not be attacked. They heard what Joshua and the Israelites had done to other cities, Jordan and Ai, and people. Instead of joining with the larger forces and Kings west of the Jordan (the kings of the Hittites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites) to fight the Israelites, they decided to use a plan of deception. They weighed the option of joining, fighting and possibly failing, and they went into submissive mode, acting as if they had nothing, even their bread was rotten, “dry and moldy”. Woe is me (us). They went right into the Israelite camp and pretended they were something they were not. They lied about where they came from, saying they were from far away when they were not. They wanted a treaty so as not to be killed. The Gibeonites decided living as servants was a better life than not living at all. An interesting strategy.

How many times in life do we see people act a certain way to get attention or recognition, either positive or negative but just to get people to take notice and validate who they are? Do you know people who exaggerate the truth, outlive their incomes, flaunt their clothes, jewelry or travel, talk about themselves constantly, all to get attention or to get ahead?  The people who will say whatever they think others want to hear? Do you know people who pull the “Woe is me” card to gather either money or sympathy or attention or “likes” on social media? Trickery.

I love the way Joshua handles the situation when he finds out he has been deceived: “Why did you deceive us by saying, ‘We live a long way from you,’ while actually you live near us? 2”  

He calls them out. Do you feel like calling people out sometimes? Why did you exaggerate or not tell the truth about your whereabouts? Hopefully a lesson I have taught my kids, but one of them in particular had to learn the hard way (see the image at the top of this post for how I felt!).  Is it really worth not telling the truth and trying to deceive me? I always find out. To me, it’s best to tell the truth, be real, even if you may not receive favor or if you may get in trouble or if you won’t get ahead at work.  If you deceive someone, then when does it stop?  You have to continue to play games.

It would have been interesting to see if Joshua would have had mercy on the Gibeonites if they had arrived, saying “we are here, don’t kill us, we want to have a treaty, what can we do?“ Rather they presented themselves as being in great need and traveling from far away. Joshua did not kill them but his punishment was harsh. You are now under a curse: You will never be released from service as woodcutters and water carriers for the house of my God.”

Some of the Gibeonites might have been ok living like servants rather than dying in a battle with the other great armies. However, a better strategy could have been telling the truth. Would they have been allowed to live differently?

As we carry out our daily lives, this lesson is a good reminder to be real. Be yourself. Don’t lead people down false paths.  Don’t “dress to impress”. Don’t use the “woe is me” card. Don’t worry about “likes”. Do your best at work by being honest with thoughts and actions. God loves you just the way you are and so do we!

Praise the Lord!

Psalm 148

As we are still celebrating the birth of Jesus, we can shout from the rooftops “Praise the Lord!”. Today’s Psalm calls all people on earth, anywhere in the world, and those in heaven to get out, get moving, be thankful, be loud, and praise the Lord. It is a joyful Psalm, reminding all of us to offer up our thanksgiving and praise. I, for one, am not a stand-on-the-street-corner-shouting type of person, but this Psalm certainly makes me want to shout or state or exclaim aloud “Praise the Lord”.

By Webster’s definition, praise as a verb means

1 : to express a favorable judgment of : commend

2 : to glorify (a god or saint) especially by the attribution of perfections

Do we take the time to “glorify” God? Do we “express a favorable judgment”? If we look back on the last year, can we honestly say we have been full of praise every day? Most likely not. We have all been through good days and bad days, times of joy and times of sadness. As we close this year, we can reflect back and then look anew to what we can do differently.

If we look in the Bible (NIV version), the word praise is used 299 times in the Old Testament and 41 times in the New Testament. In today’s Psalm, the command to “Praise the Lord” is repeated nine times in the first five verses and twelve times in the entire psalm. Breaking down the Psalm, Everything and everyone in heaven should praise the Lord (148:1-6). This is interesting to me. Everyone in heaven? Those who have gone before should still be praising the Lord. 

Praise the Lord.[a]

Praise the Lord from the heavens;
praise him in the heights above.
Praise him, all his angels;
praise him, all his heavenly hosts.
Praise him, sun and moon;
praise him, all you shining stars.
Praise him, you highest heavens
and you waters above the skies.

  1. Everything and everyone on earth should praise the Lord (148:7-14). This part is easier to grasp. Men, women, children, creatures all should Praise the Lord! From the mountains the seas, the hills, the trees, from anywhere and everywhere, Praise the Lord! We can and should praise the Lord. We can and should be thankful for all he has done for us this year. Maybe things didn’t go as you planned or expected, but it is still important to be thankful and praise him. When you see something that God has made, praise him for it! Praise him for keeping us close to him.

As I have read the posts this week, praise was highlighted quite a few times. Monday, Jillian started us off with Rejoice! Rejoice as God loves us, rejoice as he is watching over us. In return, we can offer our praise. A powerful word that helps us focus on God, not on ourselves. On Tuesday, we read about David praising God in Deb’s post. Then, Tracy’s picture and post on “Praise the Lord” helps us show gratefulness. Caitlyn also posted on praise: “praise is beautiful, praise is fitting” from Psalm 147. Praise IS beautiful and it IS fitting. As we enter 2018, each day we could find a new way to praise God each and everyday. He has done marvelous things. Rejoice!


Praise the Lord, all you servants of the Lord
who minister by night in the house of the Lord.
Lift up your hands in the sanctuary
and praise the Lord.

May the Lord bless you from Zion,
he who is the Maker of heaven and earth.

Today’s readings are Mark 10 and Psalm 134. I recently had a very similar text to write on and chose the portion “let the children come to me”. You may recall, I wrote about my first grade teacher and about how teachers in general can be so influential early in our lives. I was talking with Jennifer about having this same text and she suggested writing on the Psalm as she had done the same thing recently.

The Psalm today is very short and to the point. I certainly have enjoyed the Psalms this fall as an extra portion of our daily devotion. For today’s post, I am going to focus on “Lift up your hands in the sanctuary and praise the Lord.” During this season of Advent, we have opportunities to pause and reflect on the Christmas season. I always love the start of Advent, the color that starts to appear, the white lights that people hang in the church, and that first Sunday message on Hope. The hope of Christ’s coming, hope shining for us in darkness and hope for the world as we lite the first candle in the Advent wreath.

This past Sunday, we focused on Peace during the second Sunday in Advent. In our church, the message given was around peacemakers.   We lite the second candle to remind us that Jesus is the Prince of Peace. His light helps us find ways to share God’s peace with others. We were reminded of John the Baptist preparing the way for Jesus. We also had our choir sing Gloria in D Major by Vivaldi. It is always a wonderful way to experience the holiday season.

(Translated to English)

Glory to God in the highest,

And on earth peace to people of good will.

We praise you,

We bless you,

We adore you,

We glorify you,

We give you thanks for your great glory.

Lord God, heavenly King,

O God, almighty Father.


Lord Jesus Christ, Only Begotten Son,

Lord God, Lamb of God, Son of the Father,

You take away the sins of the world,

Have mercy on us;

You take away the sins of the world,

Receive our prayer,

You are seated at the right hand of the Father,

Have mercy on us.

For you alone are the Holy One,

You alone are the Lord,

You alone are the Most High,

Jesus Christ,

With the Holy Spirit,

In the glory of God the Father.


When I was growing up, my father was a pastor but he was also a voice and choral conducting professor. He would take us to so many concerts, some his own and some at other venues. One year, he took us to New York to hear a choir sing in at the Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church. It was not even Christmastime but there was a special choir performing this same piece. I remember as a child being in awe of the church and this massive choir joining so loudly in praise. Every time it is sung, I feel at peace. I feel my shoulders relax as I sink into the pew and take in all the words.

For your listening pleasure:

Vivaldi’s Gloria

As I watched this clip, it brought this same peace and happiness to me that the choir did in New York City and that I experienced this past Sunday with our choir.

(I kept watching more videos :-).  Years ago this video circulated on Please take a moment and enjoy this video:

Vivaldi – 8 minute version

May the Peace of the Lord be with You today and always.

Harsh words

John 18 and Psalm 120

Heavy. Heavy hearted. Those were the words I thought of early Sunday morning when I read this chapter in John. Betrayal. Trial. Denial. All harsh words. Jesus’ time on earth was coming to an end. Everyone was surprised, yet it had been predicted. We read several times in John of Jesus predicting his death. Tracy outlined for us in her writing on Wednesday the confusion and eventual heartache his disciples must have been feeling:

“They are so taken back by this news that they don’t even think to ask Him where He is going. They are shellshocked and can only deal with how this is affecting their lives. Then Jesus continues by saying that it is actually best for them if He goes away. How can this be? He IS the ministry, how can they continue to teach and convert people to faith in Him if He is not with them?”

So on the night when he was going to be betrayed, he and the disciples crossed the Valley of Kidron and Jesus went to the garden to pray. He knew what was happening yet he was in a quandary as he did not want to end his time on earth. He knew this moment was planned, yet still difficult. After his prayer, he found his closes friends sleeping, not keeping watch as he had directed them to do. I’m sure he was disappointed.

Then, Judas and the gang of captors arrived. Jesus knew. The disciples went into defense mode. In that moment, they did not grasp what was transpiring right in front of them. Had they not been told or warned as to what was happening? Yet they were caught off guard. Simon Peter retaliates by going after the Roman guard, almost try to cut off his head but instead hits his ear. He would lay down his life for Jesus and was showing his loyalty. Yet, Jesus did not want that help or defense from Peter at that time for he knew this moment was part of God’s plan. He knew all things.

The betrayal. Judas gives Jesus away with a kiss. It is a bit odd to me. He is handing him over to be killed yet gives him a kiss? I am sure the guards knew which person was Jesus. He didn’t care about Jesus at that moment, or did he? He didn’t. He wanted the money. Judas was greedy. “I am He”, says Jesus. We don’t read about it in this verse but we know Judas’ guilt overcame him and he could not live with himself.

The trial. Jesus is hauled away. Taken to Annas first, he was questioned. This encounter did not go well:

19 Meanwhile, the high priest questioned Jesus about his disciples and his teaching.

20 “I have spoken openly to the world,” Jesus replied. “I always taught in synagogues or at the temple, where all the Jews come together. I said nothing in secret. 21 Why question me? Ask those who heard me. Surely they know what I said.”

22 When Jesus said this, one of the officials nearby slapped him in the face. “Is this the way you answer the high priest?” he demanded.

23 “If I said something wrong,” Jesus replied, “testify as to what is wrong. But if I spoke the truth, why did you strike me?” 24 Then Annas sent him bound to Caiaphas the high priest.

Then, he was sent to Caiaphas for an additional questioning. In this particular chapter, we are not given details about his encounter as we move quickly into the meeting or trial with Pilate. Since it was early on the morning of the Passover, Pilate had to come out to meet Jesus. Interesting detail that Pilate wasn’t on his throne, he wasn’t sitting in his “office” ruling the meeting. He had been told many things about Jesus and was finally meeting him.

29 So Pilate came out to them and asked, “What charges are you bringing against this man?”

30 “If he were not a criminal,” they replied, “we would not have handed him over to you.”

31 Pilate said, “Take him yourselves and judge him by your own law.”

“But we have no right to execute anyone,” they objected. 32 This took place to fulfill what Jesus had said about the kind of death he was going to die.

33 Pilate then went back inside the palace, summoned Jesus and asked him, “Are you the king of the Jews?”

34 “Is that your own idea,” Jesus asked, “or did others talk to you about me?”

35 “Am I a Jew?” Pilate replied. “Your own people and chief priests handed you over to me. What is it you have done?

Pilate did not want to crucify him. He was confused. Pilate finds not reason to charge him with a crime. He does have a chance to set him free but he knew the people would riot.   And so, as the crowd demands, he sets Barabbas free. (Sigh…..)

The denial. Lastly, we come to Peter. Poor Peter. He watched his best friend and leader be captured. His mind is racing: could I have saved him, should I have done more, can I somehow release him from the guards, will I speak with him again. He is overcome with panic and fear. He is first questioned by a servant girl:

17 “You aren’t one of this man’s disciples too, are you?” she asked Peter.

He replied, “I am not.”

Strike One. They are standing around the fire trying to warm themselves. Peter did not run away though. He was standing with servants and officials. He is asked again.

So they asked him, “You aren’t one of his disciples too, are you?”

He denied it, saying, “I am not.”

Strike Two. He still remains. Now, Peter must have been more on edge. He is waiting though. Could he help Jesus? Would he be released?

“Didn’t I see you with him in the garden?” 27 Again Peter denied it, and at that moment a rooster began to crow.

Strike Three.   The story foretold to Peter by Jesus has come to life. Peter’s denial. He runs away weeping for he never thought he would deny Jesus.

Dark days. Yet, we will read on and come to a brighter time, Jesus’ resurrection! All this, the Betrayal, the Trial, and the Denial, all lead to our salvation.

The woman at the well

John 4

I am always intrigued when I read this story. It seems like such a random encounter, two people meeting at a well, just like if two people struck up a conversation at Starbuck’s. However, I doubt any of Jesus’ encounters were random. This setting was not just “a well”; it was Jacob’s well. These meetings were part of the plan of touching so many individuals in unique ways, with unique circumstances at unique points in time when people needed him most.

When you read this story, you could almost picture the drama involved. A man starts talking to a woman. My first reaction would have been to walk away either out of fear or just being uncomfortable. She did not leave. Jesus spoke to this Samaritan woman at the well, which, as a Jew, was against his customs.

It was said to have been a very hot day. He and the disciples had travelled part way from Jerusalem to Sychar on their way to Galilee. Jesus came to the well for a drink, and in the middle of the day, the Samaritan woman was there drawing water. Why was she there in the middle of the day? Well, we can ascertain that she didn’t’ want to talk to anyone. Given her storied past filled with five husbands, she knew people talked about her and she most likely was not a popular female in town.

When he asked for a drink, she must have been confused for he had not jar or anything to lower down into the well for the water. Was he asking to use her jar? Her unclean jar, thus making Jesus unclean? Confusion! He carried on by not really taking a drink but describing to her “living water”. He was sharing the word and giving her forgiveness so that she too could have eternal life. He shared with her that he knew the story of her husbands. Again, shock. The conversation continues and she speaks about her faith in the Messiah. Jesus answers with “I who speak to you am he.”  I would have been thinking, “Is this really happening? Is this real?”

Three outcomes occur: 1) the Samaritan woman is given forgiveness based on her faith and understands now the living water of eternal life. Jesus saved her through grace. 2) She goes to share the word with others, to be a disciple. 3) Jesus shows that he does not judge. He went against some long standing “rules” to make a difference in this woman’s life and to heal her of her storied past. How amazing and wonderful.

I walk away from this reading with the thought of what a conversation can do to transform someone. Could you and I make a difference in a stranger’s life or even their day? Could we influence an acquaintance who maybe we don’t know that well but if we took the time to chat, we might influence his or her day? I know I need to try harder as I shy away from these types of encounters.

As you read this message today, see if there is a way to make a difference. As you read Psalm 106, please pray:

Save us, O Lord our God,
and gather us from among the nations,
that we may give thanks to your holy name
and glory in your praise.

48 Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel,
from everlasting to everlasting!
And let all the people say, “Amen!”
Praise the Lord!

“Let the little children come to me”

Can you recall your Kindergarten or First Grade teachers? I can. After a week of Lab School at Eastern Illinois University where I had attended preschool, my parents decided to move me to the public elementary school, Mark Twain. Mrs. Triplett was awaiting my arrival and had two girls, Lisa Grant and Gina Eads, with her at the door. What an impression they made on me, welcoming me, ensuring I had a great start to Kindergarten. I can still visualize the picture of them standing there and then recall they brought me over to the sandbox in the room as my parents left.

My other vivid memory was Mrs. James, my first grade teacher. She had a checker system for being good – 3 checkers and you received an M&M. She had all kinds of interesting plants and animals in her room. We had an extensive unit on Ecology and went on a ton of field trips. I still pay attention to Walking Sticks, Praying Mantis and Monarchs based on her science units.  She invited the entire class over to her house to bake Christmas cookies. I can still picture Mrs. James. What an impression she had on me!

As I thought about other teachers, I recall one of my favorites, Mr. Gochenour, fifth grade. If you could recite all the states and capitols, he gave you a “huge” Marathon candy bar.  He also taught the entire class how to Disco Dance – Ha!  As my school years progressed, I don’t recall many of my junior high teachers and just have a few favorites from high school. I had to have a conversation with my mom about my teachers to try to help my memory! What that told me was how influential teachers were in my early years.

I think that is true today for our children. I know my kids school habits, friends, thoughts about school and confidence were formed by their teachers at Northpoint. I thank Mrs. Kraft and Mrs. Kerber for their influences on my boys.

The other visual this chapter gave me was our Children’s Sermon. I smile each week as the children go forward for a message from the Pastor. How influential that person is and can be with these little people. I can recall my father practicing his children’s sermons on me at a very young age. He wanted to make an impression and leave the children with a brief yet important thought of the day.

As we look at Matthew 19 today and as with many of the chapters in Matthew, there is so much content. Many chapters contain multiple messages, words of inspiration, parables, guidelines and reprimands. Matthew 19 is no different. “Let the little children come to me”. We all know this verse well.   The disciples were trying to keep the children from bothering Jesus. However, he “rebuked” them.   He understood the important influence he could make on their lives as such as early age. How impressionable the children were and he wanted to take the time to impart his words on them as well as provide healing to those in need.

As we go about our daily lives, let us be thankful for people who make an impression on our children, from teachers to pastors. May we also take time to make our own impressions on young children, those we know and even those we do not know. Even a smile or a compliment makes a difference.

“Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so.” You can finish the song out loud or in your head.

Extra reading:  Psalm 92