Is God Magic?

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I ran across this e-mail that I sent to my one and only, favorite God-daughter several years ago. She had called and left me a message asking two important things she was pondering. . . . Is God magic? How does He live in everyone’s heart? I felt compelled to share it with all of you. It’s these simple questions that our children ask that can shape their faith and grow their hearts closer to Christ. I pray we take the time and allow God to speak through us when we have the opportunity to answer their questions. Whether it’s for our own children, grandchildren or someone else’s child He places in our path; I pray we take every opportunity to plant a seed when given the chance.

Dear Hadley,

I was so happy to hear your voice on my messages when I woke up this morning. I can tell you are a very smart young lady and you asked some great questions.

I thought I would write this out for you so you can read it over and over again. Sometimes it helps me learn when I can do that. And, you will need to teach your little sister all about God one day too. You asked if God was magic. He isn’t magic. He is something much more. He has powers and is able to do things that we can’t even imagine because there is no one else like Him anywhere.

He never has to sleep, He knows everything – even the numbers of hairs we have on our heads. I know this because in the Bible it says,

“I know that the LORD is great, that our Lord is greater than all gods.” Psalm 135:5

He who watches over you will not slumber; indeed, He who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.” Psalm 121

And “Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered.” Luke 12:7

No one on earth knows how God does it, but we know He does because He tells us in the Bible and the Bible is how God speaks to us now that He lives in Heaven and not on earth.

All this is hard to understand for mommies and daddies too,  so don’t worry if it is hard to understand. Part of being a Christian is believing in God even though we can’t see Him.  It’s like love, we can’t see love, but we know it’s there because we feel it.

That brings us to your next question. How does God live in all of our hearts (yours, mine, your mom’s and dad’s). This is another thing that is great and very unique about God. Like water (that can be liquid or frozen or steam coming out of a pot), God can take all forms. When God sent Jesus to earth to die for our sins on the cross He made us a promise that His Spirit would always live with us here on earth. Again, we don’t really understand how He does it, but He loves all of us so much He is able to live in anyone’s heart that loves Him and believes in Him. It is His gift to us and the greatest gift we will ever receive.

God loves you so much. I am so proud of you for asking these questions so you can learn more about Him. God created us all to wonder about Him and seek Him. . . you are fulfilling that desire and need, so I know God is smiling at you.

Love, Allison (November 14, 2010)

 

 

James, Chapter 5 ~ Bible Study for Families

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Chapter 5 – The Book of James ~ A Bible Study for Families

(from The Message Translation)

By Allison T. Cain

Just in case you missed the past few weeks (Chapters 1-4) go back and start there  – – – – Just a reminder: I have written this study using The Message translation to make it easier for children to comprehend. However, as you go along please read the text from your favorite and more traditional translation (we like the NIV). You can break this up by chapter or by verses. Do whatever is best for you and your family. I pray the lessons in the book of James will be absorbed in all of our hearts as we study it together.

Chapter 5 – Destroying Your Life from Within

1-3 And a final word to you arrogant rich: Take some lessons in lament. You’ll need buckets for the tears when the crash comes upon you. Your money is corrupt and your fine clothes stink. Your greedy luxuries are a cancer in your gut, destroying your life from within. You thought you were piling up wealth. What you’ve piled up is judgment.

What does arrogant mean?

It isn’t bad to be rich, but arrogance is wrong.

What are luxuries?

It isn’t bad to have luxuries, but greedy is wrong.

Why do you think James calls greedy luxuries a cancer?

4-6 All the workers you’ve exploited and cheated cry out for judgment. The groans of the workers you used and abused are a roar in the ears of the Master Avenger. You’ve looted the earth and lived it up. But all you’ll have to show for it is a fatter than usual corpse. In fact, what you’ve done is condemn and murder perfectly good persons, who stand there and take it.

Who do you think the Master Avenger is that James is referring to?

James is reminding us that the Lord Almighty hears the cries of the people we do terrible things to. He hears what we say and sees what we do to others. He stands up for the lowly and does not like it when we treat others badly or unfairly to get ahead. Just the same, God hears and sees when we are hurt or mistreated too.

How does it make you feel to know God is on your side when you are mistreated?

7-8 Meanwhile, friends, wait patiently for the Master’s Arrival. You see farmers do this all the time, waiting for their valuable crops to mature, patiently letting the rain do its slow but sure work. Be patient like that. Stay steady and strong. The Master could arrive at any time.

Who is the Master we are waiting for?

How does a farmer have to be patient? When do you have to patient?

9 Friends, don’t complain about each other. A far greater complaint could be lodged against you, you know. The Judge is standing just around the corner.

Have you ever talked about a friend (gossiped) to someone else? Or has a someone you called a friend complained about you to others?

How did it make you feel?

What do Proverbs 11:13 and Proverbs 16:28 say about gossip?

10-11 Take the old prophets as your mentors. They put up with anything, went through everything, and never once quit, all the time honoring God. What a gift life is to those who stay the course! You’ve heard, of course, of Job’s staying power, and you know how God brought it all together for him at the end. That’s because God cares, cares right down to the last detail.

No one in the Bible is perfect, except Jesus, but God used them anyway. Can you name some people from the Bible and qualities they have that you should model?

Name some good qualities God has given you that you think God could use to honor Him.

12 And since you know that he cares, let your language show it. Don’t add words like “I swear to God” to your own words. Don’t show your impatience by concocting oaths to hurry up God. Just say yes or no. Just say what is true. That way, your language can’t be used against you.

In Exodus 20 (The 10 Commandments), what commandment says we should not take the Lord’s name in vain?

Do you think this law is important to God? Why?

Prayer to Be Reckoned With

13-15 Are you hurting? Pray. Do you feel great? Sing. Are you sick? Call the church leaders together to pray and anoint you with oil in the name of the Master. Believing-prayer will heal you, and Jesus will put you on your feet. And if you’ve sinned, you’ll be forgiven—healed inside and out.

What should you do if you are hurting?

What if you feel great?

What about if you are sick?

Have you ever prayed for a sick friend?

What will happen if you have sinned?

16-18 Make this your common practice: Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you can live together whole and healed. The prayer of a person living right with God is something powerful to be reckoned with. Elijah, for instance, human just like us, prayed hard that it wouldn’t rain, and it didn’t—not a drop for three and a half years. Then he prayed that it would rain, and it did. The showers came and everything started growing again.

James gives us a formula to practice daily.

1st we should C____________ our sins.

2nd we should P___________ for each other.

Where Elijah’s prayers answered?  Check out 1 Kings 17 to read more about Elijah’s story.

19-20 My dear friends, if you know people who have wandered off from God’s truth, don’t write them off. Go after them. Get them back and you will have rescued precious lives from destruction and prevented an epidemic of wandering away from God.

Should we turn our backs on friends and family that have strayed from God?

What are some ways we can help them come back to God?

Make a list of friends or family you can pray for over the next year that have strayed from God.

Look up 1 Peter 4:8. Write it out on paper and illustrate it. Memorize this week.

The Book of James (Chapter 4) ~ A Bible Study for Families

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Chapter 4 – The Book of James ~ A Bible Study for Families

(from The Message Translation)

By Allison T. Cain

 

Just in case you missed the past few weeks (Chapter 1, 2 & 3) go back and start there  – – – – Just a reminder: I have written this study using The Message translation to make it easier for children to comprehend. However, as you go along please read the text from your favorite and more traditional translation (we like the NIV). You can break this up by chapter or by verses. Do whatever is best for you and your family. I pray the lessons in the book of James will be absorbed in all of our hearts as we study it together.

 

Chapter 4 – Get Serious

 1-2 Where do you think all these appalling wars and quarrels come from? Do you think they just happen? Think again. They come about because you want your own way, and fight for it deep inside yourselves. You lust for what you don’t have and are willing to kill to get it. You want what isn’t yours and will risk violence to get your hands on it.

Have you ever stopped to consider why wars begin or people get into fights? What do you think starts them?

What reason does James give for others fighting?

Have you ever wanted something that wasn’t yours? (i.e. a toy, house, shoes) What was it? Did you ever try to take it from the person who had it or convince someone to give it to you?

Look up the ten commandments (Exodus 10). What is the 10th commandment? To covet is to want something someone else has.

2-3 You wouldn’t think of just asking God for it, would you? And why not? Because you know you’d be asking for what you have no right to. You’re spoiled children, each wanting your own way.

When we want things others have James calls us “spoiled children”.

Talk about wants and needs. What’s the difference between the two? Give some examples of each.

4-6 You’re cheating on God. If all you want is your own way, flirting with the world every chance you get, you end up enemies of God and his way. And do you suppose God doesn’t care? The proverb has it that “he’s a fiercely jealous lover.” And what he gives in love is far better than anything else you’ll find. It’s common knowledge that “God goes against the willful proud; God gives grace to the willing humble.”

When we act like spoiled children, who are we cheating (v.4)?

We are cheating God and He becomes our E___________.

How would it feel to know that God is your enemy?

7-10 So let God work his will in you. Yell a loud no to the Devil and watch him scamper. Say a quiet yes to God and he’ll be there in no time. Quit dabbling in sin. Purify your inner life. Quit playing the field. Hit bottom, and cry your eyes out. The fun and games are over. Get serious, really serious. Get down on your knees before the Master; it’s the only way you’ll get on your feet.

James tells us how to stay close to God so He can work in us. What should we yell at the Devil when he tries to get us to move in the wrong decision?

What else could you say to him?

We are supposed to yell at the Devil, but we are supposed to w___________ to God and he’ll be there. Think about it, when you do you whisper to someone? When they are far away or very close? God is always close to us. So close, we only need to whisper to Him.

Why do you think James tells us to get serious and get on our knees (v.10) so you can get up on your feet? Do you talk to God on your knees?

11-12 Don’t bad-mouth each other, friends. It’s God’s Word, his Message, his Royal Rule, that takes a beating in that kind of talk. You’re supposed to be honoring the Message, not writing graffiti all over it. God is in charge of deciding human destiny. Who do you think you are to meddle in the destiny of others?

James mentions the Royal Rule again in these verses. Do you remember what it is?

Who can you choose to love as yourself this week? How are some ways you will show them?

Nothing but a Wisp of Fog

13-15 And now I have a word for you who brashly announce, “Today—at the latest, tomorrow—we’re off to such and such a city for the year. We’re going to start a business and make a lot of money.” You don’t know the first thing about tomorrow. You’re nothing but a wisp of fog, catching a brief bit of sun before disappearing. Instead, make it a habit to say, “If the Master wills it and we’re still alive, we’ll do this or that.”

Do you or your family ever make plans to do things together? James reminds us that we should seek God in all our decisions and seek His plans for us because He is the only one who knows our future.

When you have a decision to make, do you ever ask God for guidance?

When we make plans without considering God’s will for us do you think we are being selfish or faithful? Why?

16-17 As it is, you are full of your grandiose selves. All such vaunting self-importance is evil. In fact, if you know the right thing to do and don’t do it, that, for you, is evil.

James tells us that self-importance (selfishness) is E_____________. If we know the right thing to do and don’t do it that is evil too.

Have you ever done something you knew you shouldn’t? Did anyone find out? Did you ask forgiveness?

Close by praying together that God will give you the strength and wisdom to push the Devil aside and to seek God’s wisdom and direction in all you do.

The Book of James (Chapter 3) ~ A Bible Study for Families

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WEEK 2/Chapter 3 – The Book of James ~ A Bible Study for Families

(from The Message Translation)

By Allison T. Cain

 

Just in case you missed the past few weeks (Chapter 1 & 2) go back and start there  – – – – Just a reminder: I have written this study using The Message translation to make it easier for children to comprehend. However, as you go along please read the text from your favorite and more traditional translation (we like the NIV). You can break this up by chapter or by verses. Do whatever is best for you and your family. I pray the lessons in the book of James will be absorbed in all of our hearts as we study it together.

Chapter 3 – When You Open Your Mouth

1-2 Don’t be in any rush to become a teacher, my friends. Teaching is highly responsible work. Teachers are held to the strictest standards. And none of us is perfectly qualified. We get it wrong nearly every time we open our mouths. If you could find someone whose speech was perfectly true, you’d have a perfect person, in perfect control of life.

James lists two reasons we should be slow to teach others. What are they?

Is anyone perfectly qualified to teach?

Do you ever feel like you need to be perfect? When and Why?

How does it feel when you succeed at something? How about when you fail?

Now consider how God adores and loves you no matter how many times you mess up, make the wrong decision or fail. How big does His love feel?

3-5 A bit in the mouth of a horse controls the whole horse. A small rudder on a huge ship in the hands of a skilled captain sets a course in the face of the strongest winds. A word out of your mouth may seem of no account, but it can accomplish nearly anything—or destroy it!

In verses 3-5 James uses two examples of small things that control larger things. What are those two large things? What controls these large objects?

5-6 It only takes a spark, remember, to set off a forest fire. A careless or wrongly placed word out of your mouth can do that. By our speech we can ruin the world, turn harmony to chaos, throw mud on a reputation, send the whole world up in smoke and go up in smoke with it, smoke right from the pit of hell.

He explains that our words can seem small and insignificant but can cause destruction. How do you think words cause destruction?

Has someone ever used words to hurt you? When?

7-10 This is scary: You can tame a tiger, but you can’t tame a tongue—it’s never been done. The tongue runs wild, a wanton killer. With our tongues we bless God our Father; with the same tongues we curse the very men and women he made in his image. Curses and blessings out of the same mouth!

What is scary to James (v.10)?

What two things does He tell us can come out of our mouths?  C___________ and B_____________

10-12 My friends, this can’t go on. A spring doesn’t gush fresh water one day and brackish the next, does it? Apple trees don’t bear strawberries, do they? Raspberry bushes don’t bear apples, do they? You’re not going to dip into a polluted mud hole and get a cup of clear, cool water, are you?

We could turn verses 10-12 into a list of things that don’t go together. For example:

Fresh water ≠ salty water

apple trees ≠ strawberries

What are the other two things that don’t equal each other?

James is trying to tell us that a mouth that curses doesn’t equal a mouth that praises God anymore than an apple tree produces strawberries. We need to pick one. Should a Christian choose to have a mouth that curses or blesses others?

It’s can’t be both. This can be hard to do, but God can give us the strength we need to control our tongues.

Live Well, Live Wisely

13-16 Do you want to be counted wise, to build a reputation for wisdom? Here’s what you do: Live well, live wisely, live humbly. It’s the way you live, not the way you talk, that counts. Mean-spirited ambition isn’t wisdom. Boasting that you are wise isn’t wisdom. Twisting the truth to make yourselves sound wise isn’t wisdom. It’s the furthest thing from wisdom—it’s animal cunning, devilish conniving. Whenever you’re trying to look better than others or get the better of others, things fall apart and everyone ends up at the others’ throats.

What do you think it means to be wise?

In your life, who do you consider to be wise? Do you think wisdom makes this person a good one to ask advice?

What does James tell us we need to do to build a reputation of being wise?

Live __________, Live ____________, and Live _____________

What counts? What you say or what you do?

James lists several things that don’t show wisdom. Make a list of those things and circle the quality that you struggle with the most.

Then, write out a prayer asking God to help you overcome this and live more wisely.

17-18 Real wisdom, God’s wisdom, begins with a holy life and is characterized by getting along with others. It is gentle and reasonable, overflowing with mercy and blessings, not hot one day and cold the next, not two-faced. You can develop a healthy, robust community that lives right with God and enjoy its results only if you do the hard work of getting along with each other, treating each other with dignity and honor.

In these verses, James lists the qualities of wisdom. Make a list of those qualities.

What takes hard work (v.18)? Do you have a hard time with this or does it come easily to you?