Monday, May 30, 2011

The General's Confession

By Mary Vee

Gladys Aylward's Thoughts

photo courtesy of visualbiblealive.com
Last time I wrote about a general who listened to the Bible story I told several lost women and then took me as a prisoner.  You can read the story here.

Once the general asked Jesus into his heart he realized he had a problem.  "How can I tell my men I have asked Jesus into my heart?  They may not respect me any more. Do I have to tell them?"

I waited for a minute before answering.  When he didn't say anything I answered, "I suppose you do, that is, if you truly want to be a Christian."

He puckered his face and folded his arms.  I think he wanted me to change my mind.  


He tapped his foot and looked toward the sky. I wondered what he was thinking.  Would he tell his men, or would he choose to hide his new faith in Jesus?

He sighed then turn toward the door. "Very well, I'll tell my men tomorrow--IF you come with me. I--I may need your help."

He decided to tell his men!  Yeah!

The next day he called his men together. I stood by him, like I promised, ready to help if he needed.

His men stood in silence waiting for him to speak. He took a deep breath, glanced toward me, then back at his men. "Up to this time we've stolen and killed like thieves. We took and never helped." His soldier's nodded and smiled with pride.

The general held my Bible in the air. "Last night I chose to believe in Jesus Christ as my Savior. His words are in this book Jesus Christ says stealing and killing are wrong. I have taken from innocent people and killed them.  From this day forward, I will not steal or kill.  I will obey the words of this Book."

My heart drummed like a crowd cheering.  The general's words spoke true worship for Jesus Christ.

The general handed back my Bible. "Ai-weh-deh, will you find me a Bible of my own?"

I nodded. "I will search until I find one for you."

He smiled then faced his men again. "Who will join me?" His eyes went to each soldier. "You who will promise to obey the words of Jesus Christ follow me."

I practically danced my way back to the inn. The next day I found a Bible to give the general.

Even though the war continued for years, I never heard from the general again. One day the Japanese soldiers invaded Yang Cheng, the next the Chinese came.  Still, I know in my heart, I'll see the general in heaven.

Next Monday I will tell you more.

Until then, God be with you

Gladys Aylward

Photo is of the Crown of empress, with dragon and phoenix design, with pearls and precious stones, Ming Tombs, imperial tombs of China. Courtesy of visualbiblealive.com

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Gibeon's Cry for Help

By Mary Vee
Joshua 11


King of Gibeon's Thoughts



Recently I sent soldiers to the Israelite camp to make a treaty.  OK, I admite it, I set up a plan to deceive their leader, but I had to.

Rumors of their powerful God scared me.  I didn't want my city destroyed like Jericho and Ai.

Joshua and the Israelite elders believed the story told by my men and made a peace treaty between our nations. This I expected because my men could tell lies well.

What surprised me was Joshua's decision to honor his treaty after he discovered the lie.  I respect him for keeping his word. I can't say I would've done the same thing. He must be a great leader.

My people became slaves to the Israelites in exchange for our lives. We cut their wood and hauled water for them. They treated us well.

A few days ago a messenger came to my tent. "My lord, I have a message."

"Yes?"

"The king of Jerusalem has gathered four other kings and united their armys. He's angry about the treaty and thinks our great fighters will join with the Israelites to wage war against him. His united army left this morning to attack our city."

I never liked the king of Jerusalem.  He was bossy, and couldn't be satisfied unless he'd hurt someone. My army was strong and mighty but they couldn't fight five united armies. We needed help. "Take a message to Joshua, the leader of Israel. Tell him the king of Jerusalem has united four other armies with his and plans to wage an attack on Gibeon. Since we've made peace with him and His God with the treaty, he must protect us."

The messenger returned days later.  "My lord."

"Yes?"

"Joshua said he would protect us.  He gathered his military before I left and seemed quite excited to fight this war."

At last, something good would happen. Joshua's army marched toward Gibeon at the same time the king of Jerusalem and the five united armies marched toward us.  I can't imagine Joshua's army could conquer the united army, but maybe Joshua's God will protect us.

Both armies fought a fierce battle, and Joshua's God did the most amazing miracle. You simply must come back next time to read how God of Israel help us, a city that could have been destroyed without a peace treaty.

*******************************
1. What problem did the king of Gibeon have?
2. Why did the King of Jerusalem want to unite 5 armies?
3. Who did the king of Gibeon ask for help?
4.  Did he agree to help the king of Gibeon? Why?
5. Why did the king of Gibeon think he could ask for help? (hint: what had he done before,  click here  for the answer).

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Joshua Kept His Promise



By Mary Vee
Joshua 10

Joshua signed a peace agreement with the strangers in ragged clothes and moldy bread.

He didn't think to ask God if he should make a treaty because the men showed him they came from far away. 

Soon after the treaty had been signed, Joshua led the Israelites to their next battle.  The strangers traveled with them for three days. Outside the city of Gibeon, Joshua ordered preparation for battle. That night, a messenger knocked on his tent. "My, lord, I bring information."

Joshua waved the man inside. "Yes?"

"My lord, the visitors traveling with us, whom you signed a peace agreement, have been heard speaking secrets to each other. We have discovered the men are Gibeonites."

Joshua leaped to his feet. "Gibeonites! Are you sure?"

"My lord, the tribal leader who sent this message could not contain his anger."

Joshua touched the hilt of his sword. "If I hadn't promised peace, I'd run them through this very instant."  He balled his fist.  "Call the elders and then call a meeting of our people."

The elders crowded into Joshua's tent moments later. He stood before them. "I've received distressing word. The visitors to whom we granted peace, are, in fact, Gibeonites."

The men sat in silence a long time, then one shook his head. "We must honor our peace agreement since we promised before the Lord. If we don't, punishment will come to us."

Joshua huffed. "I wish I didn't have to say this, but you're right. We better tell the people." He and the elders went to the meeting place.

He raised his hands to silence the crowd. One elder stepped close to him and faced the people. "We have learned, the visitors who said they came from a far country a few days ago are, in truth, from Gibeon." He pointed to the city they planned to attack. 

The people screamed and raised their fists. "They lied? We'll get them back for deceiving us. Let's attack the city and leave nothing!"

Joshua shook his head and raised his hands again. "Listen, my brothers. We're all angry at the Gibeonites for what they've done. But a promise has been made. If we break the peace treaty, the Lord's punishment will come on us instead."

One elder nodded. "We must let them live. We'll make them our slaves to do woodcutting and carry water for all our people."

Joshua called to a guard. "Bring the Gibeonites to me."  

Guards pushed the five me forward and forced them to their knees. Joshua paced in front of the men. "Why did you lie, saying you came from a far country when in truth you lived near us? Because you lied, all your people will be cursed. No Gibeonite will be spared from serving us. You will become our woodcutters and carry water for all Israel."

The visitors bowed their heads low."My lord, we heard of your God's power and His plan to give Israel all this land. We feared your God and His servants, the Israelites. Do what seems right to us."

Joshua chose to honored the treaty and the Gibeonites willingly became slaves for the Israelites.

***************************
1. Have you ever kept a promise, even when you didn't want to?  Maybe you felt like you shouldn't. The Bible tells us to be careful what we promise.
2.Do you think Joshua was careful when he promised a treaty to the Gibeonites? click here to read what Joshua did.
3. When Joshua realized he made a bad choice by giving a treaty, what did he do? 
4. What do you think Joshua learned from the Gibeonites?
5. What did you learn from this story? 

Monday, May 23, 2011

Prisoner II

By Mary Vee


photo courtesy of visualbiblealive.com
I remembered seeing a stranger standing near the gate listening to the Bible story I told to the lost Chinese women. He didn't stay long. I'd hoped he heard what I said. Maybe he did. I didn't know.


After the last of the Chinese women left. I cleaned the court area then went to the kitchen to make tea for Lu and me. As the water boiled, Lu ran into the kitchen. "Someone to see you."


I sighed. "Not now, I'm pouring tea." 


Two soldiers barged into the kitchen and spoke softly to him. Lu turned to me and frowned. "They say I must go with them."


Just like that. My helper had been taken by soldiers and I had to care for the wounded myself. I finished pouring my tea then carried it out to the table. To my surprise, two soldiers stood there staring at me. I asked, "Do you want tea?"


The soldiers didn't answer. They stepped aside to let another man into the room. From his uniform, I guessed he was a general.


The general yelled. "You're under arrest."


I sipped my tea then put my cup down. "For what?"


He squinted and folded his arms together. "For keeping secret information from the government. Who told you information about me? Tell me and I will let you go free."


"No one. All I know is you're a general. Anyone can see from your uniform. Other than that I know nothing about you."


His face turned red. "I shall ask you again. Who told you secrets about me?"


I rubbed my forehead and thought for a moment. I had no idea what he meant. "I'm sorry. I don't know what information you want."


He shook his fist at me and threw his hat on the ground. "Then you will remain a prisoner until you tell me the truth."


That night my stomach grumbled. I searched the kitchen but found no food. I went to a soldier. "Excuse me, can I send for food?"


One of the soldiers asked the general. He stormed into the inn and glared. "No! You will remain a prisoner until you tell me what I want to know." Then he left.


For three days I tried to answer his question, but failed. He wouldn't let me have food, and I clearly didn't have the answer he wanted.  After the third day I think he grew tired of waiting.  He stomped into the inn with a red face and screamed, "Who told you I was a sinner? Answer me now!"


Oh! He must have been the person standing by the gate when I told the Bible story to the Chinese women. I finally understood what he meant. I picked up my Bible and showed him Roman 3: 23  For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. "You see, General, all of us have sinned. Even I have sinned."


I turned to Romans 6:23a The payment for sin is death. "Because of sin we must all die."  He watched me turn to Romans 6:23b but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. "God doesn't want us to die. He has given you and me a gift. Look here--". I turned to Romans 5:8 But God presented His love to us in this way: while we were still sinners, Jesus Christ died for us."  


The general looked at the pages of my Bible then at me. "What do I need to do?" 


I turned to Romans 10:9 If you say you believe with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.  


The General shook his head. "No God would want to save me."


I answered his questions one by one for an hour. At long last he bowed to his knees and asked Jesus into his heart.

Would you like to hear more? Come back next Monday.


Gladys Aylward



Saturday, May 21, 2011

Gibeons' Deception II

By Mary Vee
Joshua 9


Joshua's Thoughts


I moved the Israelite camp back near Jericho after the battle of Ai. We settled into the area while working on new plans. 


One day, late in the afternoon, a guard pointed out a small group of men walking in our direction. Their feet dragged through the sandy soil as if they'd walked many miles.  I didn't expect, nor did I want any visitors. 


"Guard, if they come to the gate, ask them the usual questions. I'll be in my tent."


He saluted me then rushed back to his post.


I returned to my work and found I needed to meet with the elders for some important questions. I sent messengers to bring them to my tent. Not long after we started our meeting a guard came to the door. "Excuse me, commander, the men you saw request to speak with you."


I had trusted my guard to bring only important matters to my attention during meetings with the elders. "Very well, show them in." 


About five men stepped inside the tent. Their clothes had dirt and worn spots and their sandals had been patched together. I wondered why my guard would allow these poor wanderers to speak with me. Couldn't he give them food and send them on their way?


I stood. "Why are you here?"


The men knelt and lowered their heads. One sighed. "My lord, We have come from a far country seeking a treaty with your people."


A treaty? I didn't give treaties and I did't know these men. I sat again and whispered to the elders. "What advice will you give?"


One of the older men turned to the visitors. "Perhaps you live in the land of Canaan and want to trick us. I don't know all the people from this land. You dress like men who have traveled a far distance, but maybe you've only walked a day's journey. How can you expect us to make a treaty with people we don't know?" 


The same man nodded. "I understand your concern." He lowered his head more. "We are your servants." He pointed to the other men with him.


He seemed to speak the truth, yet I still wasn't sure. I walked closer to the man. "Who are you, and where do you come from?"


One of the other men set his hand on the first man's shoulders. "I will answer his question." He raised his eyes a little and looked in my direction. "My lord, we are from a far country. We have heard about your God and all He did in Egypt, to the two kings of Bashan and Hesbon." 


He lowered his head and pressed his hand together. "The elders and all the people from our country sent us to make a treaty with you." 


He reached into his satchel. "This bread had been hot when I left on this journey to see you. But now look, it is dry and moldy. And these worn and mended wine skins were new when I left. My clothes and sandals have become old because of the long journey."


He seemed to tell the truth. "Wait outside the tent while the elders and I speak."


Once they left I turned to the elders and shook my head. "I need your advice."


Each elder sat and thought for a few minutes then spoke. "Their clothes and sandals show proof of their long journey." Another said, "And did you see the mold on the bread?" Yet another answered, "What of the wineskin? It could barely serve its purpose."


I stroke my beard and nodded. "Perhaps they've come from a far country. Who am I to refuse to make a treaty with them?"  I stood. "Guard, call the visitors."


The men stepped into the tent and bowed to their knees. They lowered their heads and waited for my answer.


"Very well, we shall make a treaty with your country."


The men looked at each other and smiled. "We are your servants, my lord."


******************************


1. What did the visitors want?
2. Where did they come from?
     Do you know where they really came from?  click here for the answer: click here
3.  The Lord told Joshua He would give them the Promised Land. Why didn't Joshua or the elders want to make a treaty with anyone from Canaan?
4.  As the leader of the Israelites, Joshua should have asked ________ what to do.
5.  What did Joshua do wrong?
6.  What do you think will happen next?  


The story will continue next time.


Photo courtesy of eborg.com

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Gibeons' Deception

By Mary Vee
Joshua 9


A Gibeonite's Thoughts

Distressing word came to our city yesterday. 

A new people group called the Israelites pushed their way across the Jordan River and successfully conquered two important cities. Everyone in our city heard how they marched around the great walls of Jericho for seven days then stood still and shouted with all their might. They probably looked silly. 


But their God told them to march and shout--and that's what they did. Once the Israelites marched the last time around Jericho, their God knocked down the city walls and helped them conquer the city.

Unbelievable. Yet all reports confirmed the information. I must admit, I was afraid. Their God  might conquer all the cities in Canaan including ours!

One morning our king asked for volunteers to carry out a dangerous plan to save our people.  I volunteered right away.  The king chose a handful of us and called the chosen ones to his inner chamber. 

His majesty sat on his throne then called servants to his side. "Bring the needed supplies for these men." They ran to some tables nearby. The king turned to us. "Men, I am sending you on a mission to the Israelite camp. You're to change into these ragged clothes and patched sandals. Old sacks have been set on your donkeys. Take this moldy, dry bread and old mended wineskins with you."

We changed our clothes into the smelly, worn clothes and put on the sandals. I had to stop every few steps to pull the sandals back on my feet as we walked back to the king.

He looked at us and smiled. "Yes. Yes. This is good. I think the plan might work. Now, here is what I want you to do. Go to the Israelites and tell their commander you're ambassadors from a far country and wish to make a treaty."

His plan sounded good. But I thought of a few problems. I stepped forward. "My lord, what if their commander asks for proof? What if he wants to know what country we're from?

He nodded. "Yes, these questions have been considered. Say to him, 'We're your servants from a far country who have heard of your God's power. We packed for a long journey. Look and see the moldy bread.'  Show the commander your old wineskins, moldy bread, worn sandals, and old clothes then say, 'These were new when we left. We have come for peace between you and our country.'

The other men and I looked at each other. This sounded like a good plan and a fun adventure.  Maybe, if the Israelites think only of our sad story and forget to talk with their God during our visit, they'll agree to not conquer our land.

The king's plan would only work if we work hard to fool the Israelites into feeling sorry for us instead of considering what their God wants them to do.  


I turned to the others and smiled. "Let's go."


*******************
1.  Who was afraid of the Israelite God?
2.  Why were they afraid?
3.  What did they decide to do?
4.  How could their plan work?
5.  What do you think will happen? 

The story will be continue next time.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Prisoner

By Mary Vee


photo courtesy of visualbiblealive.com
My home, my mission, the Inn of the Eighth Happiness had been damaged by Japanese bombs. I saw no way to repair the building to use it as an inn again, or a place to live.


Yet God never allowed a problem to come into my life without a solution. A kind family in the village allowed me to sleep on a floor in their home, this was my first blessing after the bombs.


Since the court area of the Inn was a wide open space, nearby Japanese and Chinese armies brought their wounded to rest and hopefully be cared for by some loving soul.  I couldn't run the inn, but I could help the wounded. 


A few men helped me put pieces of the kitchen back together, enough to set up buckets of water to clean wounds and a fire to make tea and rice. I tore towels and any cloth I could find for bandages. 


My village, Yang Cheng became the front line battlefield. 


One day Japanese soldiers came. I ran with other villagers to the caves and hid there. Days later, when the vilage looked safe, we went back home and found many things stolen by soldiers. 


Then Chinese soldiers came, pushing the Japanese soldiers away from our village. I ran with other villagers to the caves again and hid from the battle.  When the soldiers left, we went back home and found more things stolen, this time by Chinese soldiers.


Our crops had been destroyed, food from our kitchens and storehouses had been stolen.  I'd never been so hungry in my life. 


Thankfully, God gave me the idea to send most of my children to Christian homes in other villages where they would be safe. Also, God gave me Lu Cheng, an evangelist, who helped care for the wounded and told Bible stories. Before the war started he helped with church services and told Bible stories when I left to do foot inspecting.


One day a large group of Chinese women came into the court and sat on the ground to rest. Their eyes drooped with sadness and they were dirty. They didn't know where to go or who to trust. "We want our homes and peace." Something they couldn't have. My heart wept for them.


I ran inside the inn and grabbed a Bible picture. The women needed to know about the One who could bring them peace.  The women raised their tired eyes to look at the picture.


"My friends. We've all done bad things in our lives. I want to tell you about the great God in Heaven who loves you and wants to give you peace.  He sent His Son, Jesus to die on the cross to take the punishment for sins. If you will believe that Jesus is God's Son and that He died for your sins, you can find peace.  This may not be a peace here on earth. Soldiers may kill our bodies, but the loving God who made you, will give you peace in heaven."


One by one the women left after the story, ready to see what was left of their homes.


They may not have had food for their stomach that day, but God gave them food for their hearts.


Come back next week to read about the stranger who stood by the gate to hear the story.


Gladys Aylward

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Ambush Ai

By Mary Vee
Joshua 7-8

Joshua's Thoughts

Achan's confession surprised everyone in the camp.

I'd sent messengers to his tent right after he told us the robe, gold wedge, and money pouch had been buried there. What I can't understand is why he took those things.

Before our battle with Jericho, the Lord gave clear instructions not to take anything except offerings for Him. God wanted to remind us to give the first of everything to Him.  I thought all the Israelites understood.

The messengers dug under Achan's tent and found everything where he said. They brought the robe, gold wedge, and money and set them on the ground before me and all the Israelites. I pointed to the stolen things and asked Achan, "Why did you bring us this trouble? You knew we couldn't keep anything from that battle."

He didn't answer.

We took Achan to a valley nearby and punished him as the Lord's instructioned including burning the robe, gold wedge, and pouch of money he stole.

That night the Lord spoke to me. "Joshua, take an army to battle against Ai.  I will be with you. This time, you and all the Israelites may keep any animals or other things you take." He then gave me a really great plan.

I left right away with a large army to Ai, as the Lord instructed. We camped on the north side of the city for the night.  The next morning I sent some of my best warriors south of the city. But before they left, I repeated God's battle plan. "Listen men. When you see Ai's army chase after us, leaving their city unprotected, run in and conquer it."

Everyone said they understood what to do.

I waited for those men to sneak around to the south side of Ai then led the rest of my men forward. Sure enough, once we reached the valley, Ai's guards saw us. The battle cry rang from the city's walls. "Here come the Israelites. Chase after them and leave no prisoners!"


God's plan worked perfectly!  The city gate opened and their army poured into the valley chasing after us.

We ran toward the woods crying and screaming as if we were scared they'd kill us all.  Ai's army followed, laughing with each step.  "You call yourselves warriors, yet you run.  We'll show you who has the better army."

Once we'd run a far distance, I turned and saw smoke rising from Ai. The army commander saw me signal my army to look back at the city.  He looked back, also.  Black smoke bubbled higher into the air.

Ai's army commander yelled, "It's a trap! Flee back to the city!"

Too late.

With the help of the Lord, my men and I chased Ai's army back to the valley and conquered them.  My best warriors, still inside the city, found the king of Ai and brought him to me.

I killed the king then sent my army back to the city to get their reward. They gathered animals, clothes, food, and anything else they wanted before setting fire to the rest of the buildings.

That night I built an altar to the Lord. We offered our thanks and sang praises to the Lord.  I wrote a copy of the law of Moses in front of all the Israelite people then read every word to them. The men, women, and children of Israel listened and worshipped God. 


I am thankful for God's plan today.


***************************
1. Where did Achan hide the things he stole?
2. What did Joshua do with the stolen things?
3. Now that the thief had been found, what did God give Joshua permission to do?
4. What was the battle plan? Who gave the idea for the plan?
5. Who won the battle?
6. What did Joshua and the people do after the battle?
7. What did you learn from this story?

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Achan's Confession

By Mary Vee
Joshua 7

Achan's Thoughts

Joshua, the Israelite leader, and all the elders came back to the camp last night after spending time with God. Although they didn't speak to each other, their angry faces showed us something went wrong.


We lost the battle at Ai yesterday. No one knew why. Joshua and the elders walked to a place outside of camp to talk with God.  The news must not have been good.

Joshua sent messengers throughout the camp calling for a meeting in the morning. I wondered what he'd say. Did God have new instructions? Maybe we shouldn't have attacked Ai.

The next morning I led my household to the meeting place and sat with others in our family.  Joshua stood and raised his arms to quiet everyone. "The Lord told me we lost at Ai because one of our people sinned. Someone stole from the city of Jericho and hid what he took here in the camp." He lowered his arms and closed his hands into a tight fist. Joshua was mad.

I thought about the beautiful robe, wedge of gold, and money pouch hidden in my tent. The soft material and bright colors would make me look important at a fancy dinner. No one saw me take them from the Jericho house or hide them in my tent.  Nope. No one knew. 

Our leader cleared his throat. "The Lord said we would not win any battles until the stolen things were destroyed." 

He stared at each of us as if waiting for someone to confess. I wouldn't. I would keep the robe and money hidden until this whole situation would be forgotten.

Joshua called the leaders of each tribe forward. He stepped in front of each man then turned to the people. "The Lord showed me the sin is in Judah's tribe. The rest of you men may sit."


The leader of Judah, my tribe, stayed in front.  Joshua looked at our families. He waited a few minutes again. Perhaps he still wanted the guilty person to confess. I wished he would, too. Then we could get back to work.



Joshua shook his head then took a deep breath. "Every family leader from the tribe of Judah must come forward."  A large group of men stood and walked toward him, including the leader of my family, the Zarhites. 

Joshua had them form a line then he stood before each one, like he did with the tribal leaders.  He stopped in front of the leader of the Zarhites. "Your family. The Lord showed me the sin is in your family." The other leaders sat down.  Joshua look toward the Zarhite families. He just stood there and waited for a moment.  I wanted to go back to my tent, dig up the robe, and rub the rich material against my skin. I wished he'd hurry and get done.


Joshua walked toward the Zarhite families. He went to each man, one by one and stopped in front of  Zabdi, my grandfather.  I must admit, I started to feel nervous.  The robe, gold, and money pouch couldn't have caused all this trouble?  No. It must have been bigger. One of my cousins must have stolen something of great value. I was sure I didn't cause the problem.

Joshua went to each of grandfather's sons, including Camri, my dad.  He stopped when he reached my dad. "The sin is in your household. Have you sons stand before me."

I looked at my brothers and wondered which one had caused the trouble. Joshua walked to each of us until he came to me.  He stopped right in front of me. Me? Why did he stare at me?

Joshua shook his head. "My son, I beg you. Give glory to the Lord God of Israel. Confess what you have done. Don't hide any of the truth from me."  


All of Israel stared at me with angry faces. The robe I loved hurt all these people?

Tears dripped down my face.  "I--I--" My knees fell to the ground. "I have sinned against the Lord God of Israel. When I saw a beautiful robe in a Jericho house, a pouch of money, and a gold wedge I--I wanted them with all my heart. I took them and hid them in the ground under my tent.  I--" How could I say anything else? My sin had hurt all of Israel.


**********************
1.  What battle did Israel lose?
2.  Why did they lose?
3.  Why was Joshua angry?
4.  How did Joshua figure out who sinned?
5.  What did Achan do?
6.  What did you learn from this story?

Photo courtesy of:   Christian Images Resource

Monday, May 9, 2011

Silver Planes Attack

By Mary Vee

Gladys Aylward's Thoughts


photo courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net
Japanese soldiers had marched into northern cities of China. 

I, along with people in Yang Cheng, knew our small village wouldn't be attacked. We had nothing to give--who'd want a few small homes, some cattle, and an inn on a mountain road? Our lives didn't change after we heard the news--we got up, worked, ate, and slept.

If muleteers hadn't brought information from other places, we wouldn't have known Japanese soldiers came to China.  Planes didn't fly over us, trains couldn't travel through the mountain pass, and roads had not been made for cars. We didn't have radios or telephones. We lived alone.

One day an odd sound swooshed down to us from the sky.  Villagers ran outside their homes, squinted upward, and pointed.  "Tiny silver planes high in the sky.  Look!" Mothers, fathers, and children left their work to gaze at the new sight.  They laughed and danced.  "I've never seen planes in the sky. The silver shines like a ribbon."


They watched as the planes flew back and forth in a dance, lower and lower. 

Since I'd seen planes in England before, I went back to my morning prayers.  My prayer room, on the second floor of the inn, had a window overlooking the village. I knelt on my soft mat to continue worshiping and talking to God about the villager's needs. My heart sang as I talked to God with the people's laughter behind me.

A moment later all sound stopped.


For one second.


Then--

A blast of thunder roared, villagers from Yang Cheng screamed, the floor below me wobbled and shook until it fell down, down to the ground. The ceiling fell on top of me and I heard myself cry out--then I saw nothing.


Sometime later I opened my eyes, but couldn't move my body.  My prayer room lay in pieces, mixed with tables and chairs from the first floor. I realized the silver planes had dropped bombs on my beloved Yang Cheng. 


I couldn't move my head to see what fell on top of me.  Thanks be to God, I didn't feel pain, but I couldn't scream for help either. Some time later, I had no idea how long, footsteps stumbled near me.  "Hallelujah, she's alive! Ai-weh-deh is alive. Help me get this off of her."  


The men grunted as they tugged and yanked the object off of me.  "Are you hurt, Ai-weh-deh?" 


They helped me stand. "I'll be fine." Air filled my lungs which made me cough.  I shoved hair away from my face and took another delicious breath.  "I need my first-aid kit. I need to help others."  We searched through the broken tables, chairs, and ceiling pieces until my satchel was found. I opened it and found only a few bandages. "This will have to do. We must help others. Hurry, gather anyone who can walk and search every house for others who are injured or trapped."

As I ran throughout the village I thanked God for sending those men to rescue me. He showed them where I was and he gave them strength to help me. Praise God for His protection.


Come back next week to read what happened next.


Your friend,
Gladys Aylward

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Defeat and Revelation

By Mary Vee
Joshua 7


Joshua's Thoughts


The battle of Jericho ended in an awesome victory.  


God showed His mighty power by knocking down the city walls in a thundering flash. Our army didn't have to work hard to finish the battle. We gathered gold and silver from the city as a gift for the Lord then destroyed everything else in the city.


To make sure every person obeyed God's command to not keep anything, each soldier had to pass by me before they went to their tent.  I walked each man to the Lord's treasury, then watched him set all the gold and silver coins or bars he took into the offering. Before I let him leave I asked, "Did you take anything else from Jericho?" Each man answered, "No."


We celebrated our first successful battle in the Promised Land for a few days before returning to the work God assigned. 


The next city on our list to conquer was Ai.  I sent a few scouts to look at the city and decide how many soldiers would be needed for an attack.  When the group returned they reported, "My Lord, Joshua, the city of Ai is small. There's no need to send all our soldiers into battle. Two or three thousand men will be enough to conquer the city."


The next day I sent three thousand men to Ai.  By nightfall most of the men had returned tired, afraid, and disappointed. I asked, "What happened to the missing men? What went wrong?"


Several stepped forward. "My Lord, we fell into a quick defeat. Thirty-six of our men lost their lives before we had a chance to attack. Maybe they knew we were coming. I don't know. But this is a fact, the Lord God Almighty did not protect us in this battle."


I dismissed the men to their homes then walked to the ark of the Lord.  How could we have lost? I bowed before the ark and wept. "Oh, my Lord, why has this happened?" I tore my clothes and fell to the ground, laying flat on the earth until the sun set.  


The elders of the camp joined me. We put ashes on our heads and cried out to God. "Why? Why did you bring us across the Jordan River? Will you let the Amorites destroy us?  What will happen when the people of this land hear we lost this battle? They'll think we're weak and set out to attack us." The elders and I cried until the Lord answered.


God spoke to me, "Joshua, get up. Why do you lie on the ground crying to me? Israel has sinned. I instructed you and the people to take nothing from Jericho for yourselves, yet things have been stolen from that city and hidden in the Israelite camp. How could the children of Israel win a battle when their backs are turned to me?" 


The Lord continued, "Unless you destroy the stolen items, I won't stay with you. Call everyone together. Tell them to prepare for a special meeting tomorrow. At that time I will reveal the thief."


A thief? How did that happen? I asked each soldier if they took anything from Jericho. I watched each one put gold and silver coins in the Lord's treasury before I let him returned to camp.  Who dared to lie to me and bring the Lord's anger on us?


The elders and I returned to the camp late that night. Well, they walked, I stomped. I wanted to know right away who lied and stole, but God said the people needed to prepare for the meeting, which means I have to wait until tomorrow.  


*****************************
When we sin, the Lord will let people around us discover the truth.  Even when we think no one is looking, God sees.


1.  What was the second city chosen for battle?
2.  Was this considered an easy or difficult battle?
3.  Did the Israelite army win?
4.  Why or why not?
5.  Why did Joshua and the elders cry out to God?
6.  What did God say?
7.  What did Joshua decide to do? 






Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Temptation

By Mary Vee
Joshua 7


Achan's Thoughts


I ran straight into Jericho, like all the other Israelites, through the cloud of dust left from the collapse of the great city walls. In truth, I didn't have a drop of fear. No soldier from Jericho or citizen could harm me; God told Joshua He would give us the city.


I climbed over bricks once mortared together to form the wall until I reached the city streets. Further up the road I found a magnificent home. The arched doorway led to a cedar door finely carved with swirled and lined pictures of fruit, trees, and beasts. 


I pressed with both arms to open the heavy door then peeked inside. Whoever lived there must have fled.  The room before me contained cedar tables set on a marble floor. I wanted to run back to the camp, grab my wife, and bring her back to see this place. 


That's when I remembered Joshua, our commander's, words. He told us the Lord's instructions: all plunder from Jericho belonged to the Lord, since it was the first battle in the Promised Land. Plunder from the rest of the battles will belong to us. 


I could have left the moment I remember Joshua's words. I should have. But my feet moved forward throughout the house on their own.  


In one room I found  a colorful robe neatly draped over a chair.  I brushed my hand over the soft material and found no seams. Fine golden threads filled in spaces between purples, reds, and blues. Never in my life had I seen such a garment. 


I put my arms into the sleeves and wrapped the remaining material around my body. My heart pounded. I wrapped my arms together and closed my eyes.  How I wish my family could see me dressed as royalty.

Noises from other Israelite soldiers grew louder.  I pulled the robe off and folded it tight into a small bundle and hid it under my clothing.  Joshua said anything not taken as an offering to the Lord would be burned. I couldn't let this robe be burned. If God wouldn't use it why couldn't I?  I'll hide the robe in my tent until a day when no one would wonder where it came from.


Yes. I will keep this robe and hide it.


On my way out of the house, I noticed a sack of money and a wedge of gold weighing about fifty shekels.  Imagine what I could buy with this money.  Once I am given my property in the Promised Land I could build my own home with marble floors and cedar doors. I couldn't keep a smile from bursting across my face.


I hid the sack of money and gold wedge under my clothes until I returned to my tent. While my wife made dinner over the fire outside, I dug a hole and safely buried the robe, sack of money and gold wedge then set a chair over the place.  


There.


Now I will be rich and happy. 


*************************************
1. What did God say the Israelites could take from Jericho?
2. The Bible tells us we should always give the first of our money or things we have to Him as an offering. Why do you think God said the Israelites could not keep anything from Jericho?
3. What two things could be given to God from the city of Jericho?
4. What would be done with everything else in Jericho?
5. What 3 things did Achan find?
6. What did he do with the things?
7. Do you think Achan will be rich and happy? (be sure to read the next story to see what happened next.)


photo courtesy of:  christianimagesource.com

Monday, May 2, 2011

A Spoonful of Courage

By Mary Vee

Gladys Thoughts

photo courtesy of visualbiblealive.com
Last week I talked about the scary village and a woman who hid four little girls. You can click here if you missed the story.

My guards stayed close to me for three days while I inspected little girl's feet in Yuan Tsun. They kept their weapons ready to use every moment to keep away the wicked people. I sure was glad.

Instead of sleeping in the inn as I originally planned, I chose to stay in the house of the woman who hid the girls. I didn't want her to bind the girls feet again. I also didn't want the master of the house to come home and beat her or the little girls. Thankfully he never came home those three days. Each night I told the woman about Jesus and His great love for her. "Jesus wants to help and protect you."

I thought about the little girls and the woman each day I visited other homes in Yuan Tsun. How could I help her? How could I show her Jesus loved her?  As I finished unbinding a little girl's feet at the last home, God gave me a wonderful idea. They could come live with me at the inn!

I ran back to her home and told her my idea. "What do you think? Would you like to live at the inn?"

She shook her head. "My master will look for me and beat me."

The poor woman covered her face with her hands and sobbed. I reached my arm around her. "Trust me. God will protect you. Bring the girls to the inn."

She looked up at my face and squinted. "Are you sure you want us to come?"  A smile burst on her face when I nodded. We packed their few belongings and left for the inn.

The girls sang and danced next to the mule.  The woman spent most of the time looking at the ground. She never looked at the beautiful mountains or sang or danced. I couldn't figure out what she was thinking. Why wasn't she happy?

As we walked through the inn gate, all my adopted children ran to us. I introduced the new girls as their sisters. Before I could ask, Ninepence and the other children took the new girls to the play area. Oh the laughter and giggling that rang from the play area filled my heart with joy.

But the woman didn't smile. She wiped a tear then bowed. "When will you take me to prison for the mean way I treated the girls?"

The poor woman. "I won't take you to jail. You are to live here, too!"

Her eyes jumped wide. "Really? I can live here and learn more about Jesus?"

"Yes. I would like for you to live here at the inn with the children and me."

She fell to her knees and thanked me. "I have been a mean person, Ai-weh-dah. Will you teach me to live for Jesus?"

 The next few months we worked hard to pay her old master for the girls and her freedom. Every day she went out to the city to tell women what Jesus did for her. She told Bible stories and shared God's love to everyone she met.

Come back next week to hear how else God showed His love.

Gladys Aylward