Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Couriosity and the Ark

By Mary Vee
I Samuel 6,7

Samuel's Journal

Now that I am older, God has allowed me to serve Him in the Temple as the leader of the Israelites.

Not long ago, Eli, Israel's last priest, died after he heard the Ark of God had been stolen by the Philistines.

Many months had passed before the Philistines gave the ark back to Israel. They thought they stole our God. But no one can steal the Almighty.


God didn't need our help to solve the problem. He punished each Philistine city that had housed the ark with a plague and disease. After many of their people died, the Philistine lords met together and decided to send the ark back to us.

They set the ark on a cart, included golden offerings for God, and let milkcows deliver the Ark of the Lord to Beth Shemesh. The Israelites ran from the fields and cheered when they saw the ark coming to their city. They offered sacrifices to God in celebration. But some of the people from the city did not show God respect.

One day, while the Ark of God sat at Beth Shemesh, a few of the townspeople became curious. They wanted to take a look inside the ark. They didn't ask permission from God or a priest or a prophet. They simply wanted to look inside, and they did.

A few people crept to the Ark of God, when no one was looking, lifted the lid and looked inside. I don't know if they were surprised, happy, or pleased, but I do know God didn't like it.

They told their friends what they had done. That night a few more crept to the Ark of God, made sure no one was looking then peeked inside. They told their friends who told their friends and soon seventy people had sneaked to the Ark of God without permission to look inside.

That night the people who looked inside the ark became sick. No medicines could help them. They all died.

The people from Beth Shemesh cried when they found God had punished the seventy people.

They called the Israelites from the next village, Kiriath Jearim, to take the ark away.

Like the Philistines, the people of Beth Shemesh didn't realize the importance of the Ark of the Covenant of the Lord. God gave Moses many rules for worship and the care for the pieces belonging in the Temple. The most important piece was the Ark of the Lord.

I was thinking about the time when Moses asked God to see Him. God said no man could see His face and survive because it would be too much for our human bodies. But, God made a way. He had Moses stand in a cleft of a rock, where he would have stone to his left, to his right, behind him, above him, and below his feet. God placed his hand over the opening then allowed his back to pass by the rock. Moses saw a glimps of God's glory. God granted Moses request because he asked and because Moses obeyed and loved Him.

There seemed to be a big difference between the Philistines, the people of Beth Shemesh, and Moses.

***************************
1. Did the Philistines love God?
2. What did 70 of the people from Beth Shemesh do that did not respect God?
3. What did the people of Beth Shemesh do with the Ark of God?
4. What did Moses do different from the 70 people?

Monday, November 28, 2011

Lamasery Part II

By Mary Vee

From Gladys Journal

photo courtesy of visualbiblealive.com
If you missed last weeks part one explanation of how I managed to get myself inside a Lamasery, which is a type of Buddhist worship, you can click here


The young man who found us on the road and guided us to the temple grounds spoke with a kind voice. But a kind voice doesn't always mean the person is kind or he is taking us to a safe place. I felt very nervous about going inside the gate. 


He led Dr. Huang and me inside the grounds then signaled the gatekeeper to close the gate. I couldn't help but wonder if I would be a prisoner, trapped in this place far away from anything. No one would hear my cry for help. 


My heart raced with "what if this" and "what if that's"...until the young man stopped walking and turned to me. He said, "We have waited so very long--."


I didn't know what he meant. I bowed and waited for him to finish. He took a breath and  closed his eyes for a long moment. "I and all those in the Lamasery want to hear about the God who loves."


I didn't know what to say. These men devoted their lives to worship a god that was not real. They lived everyday with strict rules ordered by their religion. How did the men living behind these walls, far away from any village discover there is a real God who loves them?  I didn't know. But I sure wanted to find out the answer.

With his simple comment, all my pounding heart and shaky knees ran away. God showed me that I was to tell these men about Jesus!


A group of lamas (men who serve Buddah) met us at the door. They took me to my own room and offered to bring me much more than I ever needed or wanted. I had fresh water to wash myself, soft cushions to sit on, fancy dishes with the most delightful food; I felt like a princess. I ate my meal then laid down for a rest before any expected duties. 


Before my eyes closed, two young men knocked on my door and asked me to go with them to a meeting. I walked in the hall a little ways they found Dr. Huang. "Gladys, I'm glad I will be waling with you. Did you enjoy your meal? They certainly have treated us well, wouldn't you say?"


"Oh, yes. They have." We followed the men through several courts and halls, rooms and larger courts. We stopped at the largest court of all. Five hundred lama priests sat in a semi circle with their hands folded together.  I was surprised to see so many people.


The young men took us to the front of the group. Dr. Huang and I sat like the men before us and waited for instructions. I Ieaned over to Dr. Huang, "What are we suppose to do?"


He tipped his head and smiled. "A church service. First, you sing whatever you want."


I thought for a moment then sang a song. At the end, no one said or did anything. I looked at Dr. Huang and shrugged.


He waited another minute then looked back. "I guess its time to tell them about Jesus." He told then the story of Jesus' birth and then His death. When he finished, he looked at me again. "Sing another song."


I sang another song then told the men another Bible story. When I finished the story, I sang another song. 


Silence. No one moved.


Dr. Huang looked at me, shrugged and told another Bible story and I sang a song. I watched for anyone to say, "OK thanks for everything, now we can go." But no one moved. I smiled at Dr. Huang and told another Bible story. We had shared God's love more well over three hours.


No one moved or spoke. I couldn't understand. Were they sleeping? I leaned over to Dr. Huang. "I'm tired. I need to rest."


He nodded. "Then we will stop." We stood and walked out of the hall. No one said anything. No one stopped us. Had anyone listened to the stories?

Later I learned that the lamas had a rule. They must sit still and not speak until the speaker left the room first. Good that Dr. Huang said we should leave! We might have stayed in the great court all night!


Late that night, two men knocked on the door. Why would someone come to the door at a late hour? Did I do something wrong? Were they angry that a woman had come to the temple? Were they upset that we told them about Jesus? I didn't know if I should open the door or not.


Come back next week to find out why they came to my door.


Gladys Aylward

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Philistines Don't Like the Ark of the Covenant

By Mary Vee
I Samuel 5


A Philistine Soldier's Journal


Our god, Dagon, fell to the ground right in front of the Israelite's Ark of the Covenant of the Lord and smashed to a million pieces.

If that wasn't enough, the people from our city became sick, really sick, so sick many died. And not just the people from our city, but from whole territory around us! We couldn't figure out what caused the problem. 


I'm thinking we shouldn't have taken the Israelites ark and maybe their God is punishing us. No matter what medicines we gave to the sick people, they didn't get better.

The lords from our city must have thought the same thing, too. After a couple of days they met together and asked, "What should we do with the ark of the God of Israel? It's making our people sick and many are dieing."


They decided to send the ark southeast about ten miles to the Philistine city, Gath. I was chosen to help carry the ark. We set it up in the city where the priest said then left.

Good, no more problems for us.


A few days later a messenger came to our captain and reported the men from Gath had been struck with a great illness. Everyone, young and old, rich or poor became  sick. No one escaped the plague.  The captain called me to his office. "That ark of the God of Israel is causing more problems than the people of Israel. Go to Gath, get the Israelite ark of God, and take it to Ekron.


The people of Gath cheered when we carried the ark of God away. We marched north only a few miles to Ekron. Citizens from Ekron formed a line and stood in our way shouting, "No! You have brought the ark of the God of Israel to kill us and our people! We won't let you in." 


They wouldn't let us in the city at all. The other soldiers and I had to stand outside the city gate with the ark of God until a decision could be made. While we stood there, doing absolutely nothing, bored...bored...bored, the people of Ekron sent for all the Philistine lords. 

Even with the ark not inside the city,  some men died, others became deathly sick.


A few days later the lords arrived. The people of Ekron raised their fists and shouted, "Send away the ark of the God of Israel. Let it go back to its own place and its own people so it does not kill us." . 


Our army had stolen the ark of the God of Israel about seven months ago. It caused us nothing but trouble. If the lords asked me, I'd say get rid of it.

The lords met and talked about what should be done with the ark. One suggested we send it back to the Israelites.

Another lord said, "If you send it away, don't send it empty. Return it with a sin offering. Then you will be healed."


Another said, "What should we send for an offering to their God?"


The lords decided five golden tumors and five golden rats. Five because there were five Philistine lords. Golden rats and tumors because that was the plague sent. "If we give glory to the God of Israel instead of ignoring Him like the Egyptians did, perhaps He will not punish us with many plagues like He did to them." 


We made a new cart, hitched two milk cows who had never worn a yolk before, and took their calves away from them. Last, we set the ark on the cart along with the golden offerings. 


To make sure the sickness came from the Ark of the Covenant of the Lord, the lords thought of this test:  if the cows returned the cart to the Israelite city by themselves instead of leaving the road to search for their calves then the Israelite Lord punished us. If the cows turn back to search for their calves or refuse to move then the sickness came for a different reason.


We followed all the instructions the lords gave. Yolk milking cows, take calves away, put ark on cart with offereings and watch. I couldn't believe my eyes. The cows went straight for the road to Beth Shemesh and kept walking along the highway crying with each step until they reached the Israeliteas city.


I sneaked behind the cart the whole way. It really went there!


*****************************
1. What happened to the people of the Ashdod?
2. What did they do with the Ark of the Covenent?
3. What happened to the people of Gath?
4. What did they do with the Ark of the Covenant?
5. What did the people of Ekron do when they saw the Ark of the Covenant?
6. What did the Philistine Lords say?
7. What was the test and what was the result?


Photo is of the city of Ashdod. Courtesy of Visualbiblealive.com







Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Dagon's Defeat

By Mary Vee
I Samuel 5


A Philistine's Journal


What a great battle. We defeated the Israelites without any effort. I don't know what they did to upset their God, but I do know we showed them.

In fact, to teach them a lesson we took their ark of the covenant of their Lord to show we were stronger. The more gods in our temple, the better.


I was chosen to help carry the Israelite ark back to our city, Ashdod, about  twenty-five miles away. See, if we take the ark away from the Israelites, then they won't have their God, we will. No way will the Israelites ever defeat us, now. They will be our slaves forever.


When we reached Ashdod, my commander told us to put the ark of the covenant of God in our temple. We carried it to the door. One of the priests greeted us. "What have you there?"


"We have the Israelites ark of the covenant of the Lord. The commander wants it here."


The priest smiled. "Good then we will have double protection. Our god Dagon and now the Israelite's ark. Set it over here next to Dagon."


I brushed my hands together and looked at our work. Yes, now we will always win. 


The next morning the priest ran to the commander. His eyes were wide, he babbled some words, the poor fellow was really upset. The commander sent us to the temple to help him. Inside the temple I saw what upset the priest. Our god, Dagon, had fallen...right in front of the ark of the covenant of the Lord.

What did Dagon think he was doing?  Bowing down to the Isrealite God?


We stood there with our mouths wide open. How could Dagon have fallen? It is solid and strong. We couldn't figure it out. Well, a couple of us lifted Dagon back to it's standing position, patted the priest on the shoulder to calm him, and left.


The next morning the priest came running like a wild mad man. He waved his arms back and forth and chattered something about Dagon. A group of us dropped everything and ran to the temple with the priest. He took us into the meeting room and pointed.


In front of our faces--our shocked-heart stopping faces--was Dagon fallen on its face to the ground, right before the ark of the Lord. The head of Dagon and both the palms of its hands were broken off and had landed on the threshold.  Only Dagon's torso was left together. 


How did the Israelite's ark of the covenant of the Lord do that? I don't want to go near that ark again. The Israelite God is too powerful for me. No Philistine ever stepped foot on the temple threshold again, for fear of being killed.


******************************
1. Did the Philistines really take God away from the Israelites?
2. What did the Philistines think when they took the ark of the covenant of the Lord to their town?
3. Where did they put the ark?
4. What happened the next morning?
5. What happened the second morning?
6. Who did it?
7. What did the Philistines learn?

Monday, November 21, 2011

Lamasery

By Mary Vee

Gladys Aylward's Journal


photo courtesy of visualbiblealive.com
God has unusual ways of convincing us He is in charge...and His way is the best.  

I am reminded of a man who tried to run away from God. He bought a ticket to sail far away. During a storm the man was thrown overboard and swallowed by a great fish. After three days the man changed his mind and decided to obey God. At that point,God had the fish spit him out on the shore and the man went where God told Him to go.

Oh, I could tell hundreds of stories like that. God loves the world so much He will do the very thing we don't expect to get our attention. And I am no exception.

One day, a doctor who took care of my medical problems and I left a Chinese village located deep in the mountains to tell other people about God. Dr. Huang and I prayed, asking God to bring people to our path to tell them the Gospel. Villagers from the last village said we wouldn't see anyone. That no one live further up the mountain trail past theri village. But God showed us many people along the way. After nine days, though, we didn't see anyone else walking the path.

At the end of the day we had both grown hungry and really wanted to sleep in a bed. The problem: no people, no homes, no villages. I couldn't understand. Someone had to live there. The doctor and I sat at the side of the road to pray. I prayed for food and a place to sleep. The doctor prayed for someone to come our way who needed to hear about God's love. 

After praying we sat and waited, and waited, and waited. We sang praises to God that echoed wonderfully in the mountains and certainly made my voice sound much better than it was! To my surprise, as we finished a song the doctor looked behind us, stood, then ran toward the mountain path. He shouted, "Look, there is the man we prayed for!"

I didn't feel well enough to climb the rocks with the doctor, so I sat and waited for him to come back. Dr. Huang returned a few minutes later and said "Gladys, guess what? The man invited us to supper and will give us a place to sleep."

The food and bed sounded good, but I didn't look forward to the climb up the steep mountain path. The man seemed excited for us to visit. He and the doctor helped me climb to the top of the mountain. He led us to a temple where lamas (men who devote their lives to worshipping Buddah) lived.

When I figured out where we were going I whispered to the doctor, "You do realize he is taking us to a Lamasery."

"Yes, I do."

"And you did tell them I am a woman?"

"Yes, I did."

"But women aren't allowed here."

"Gladys, he and the others who lived in the temple wanted to hear the ones who sang the songs to God. That is us! We can't say no now that I've already said yes. Come, Gladys, I will help you."

I had to admit, I had never shared the Gospel in a Lamasery before. I've never stepped inside of one either. I felt nervous and awkward about telling lamas about Christ.

Can you imagine? A person like me who had told rioting prisoners, soldiers, men, women, children, government officials and anyone else who came my way about Christ felt nervous about sharing the Gospel. Well, I'm sorry to say...I did.

The only way I could say and do what God wanted me to do at the Lamasery would be if God Himself helped me.

Come back next week to see what God did at the Lamasery.

Gladys Aylward 

Saturday, November 19, 2011

God's Judgement on Eli's House

By Mary Vee
I Samuel 4


A Soldier from the Tribe of Benjamin"s Journal


The Israelites armed ourselves to battle the Philistines again. We camped near Ebenezer and to the west, not far from the sea. The Philistines camped in Aphek. 


Since we were on higher ground we could see their army. Their strong army.


The Philistines showed no fear for the battle. They did not run around as if afraid. Instead they followed typical army procedures by putting themselves in battle array. I must admit, I didn't know how we could defeat them. 


The signal sounded to battle. Our men fought as best they could against the mighty Philistines. I did not sense God's presence with our army. We made mistakes, stepped left when we should have stepped right. At the end of the day, the Philistines soundly defeated us. We lost four thousand men in the field.


Those who survived returned to the camp to report our loses to the Israelite elders. The elders shook their heads. "I don't understand," said one. "Why has the Lord defeated us before the Philistines, the people he told us to conquer?"


Another one said, "We need to brig the ark of the covenant of the Lord from Shiloh here. Maybe then the very presence of the covenant of the Lord will save us from the hand of our enemies." 


The others agreed. They sent a group of men to Shiloh to bring the ark. When they returned, Hophni and Phinehas, sons of the high priest, Eli  also escorted the ark. Seeing the ark approach our camp made all the men cheer. We shouted, we cheered loud and strong, for with the ark of the covenant of the Lord present we would surely win.


The Philistines stood together and looked our way. Yes. Now they would be afraid, as they should. They ran around their camp bumping into each other until someone called them together, probably their captain. He raised his arm and then pointed to our army. He probably gave them the "come on we can do it" speech. Hah. It won't work this time! This time you will be our servants.


The battle resumed a little later. Once again, we couldn't fight as we had been trained. In my heart, I could not feel God's presence with our army. The Philistines fought with strength and great power killings thirty thousand foot soldiers. They pressed forward into the camp and captured the ark of the covenant of the Lord. 


My heart pounded into my head. I could hardly speak. The wicked Philistines captured the ark of the covenant of the Lord and killed Hophni and Phinehas. The elders sent me back to tell Eli, the high priest to report the sad news..


I found Eli sitting on a seat watching for a report. He couldn't see well since he was ninety eight years old. As I walked near him he eyes were wide and his hands trembled. "Tell me," his voice trembled. "Tell me why the city cries out with sorrow." 


I bowed before him. "I came from the battlefield, fleeing the battle line as many others."


He reached his hand out and placed it on my head. "Tell me what has happened."


I sighed. "Israel has fled before the Philistines, and many of our men have been killed including your two sons Hophni and Phinehas...and the ark of God has been captured."


When I said the ark had been captured, Eli went wide and fell backwards off the seat and broke his neck. He died right away.
***********************************


1.  Who did the Israelites go to battle against
2.  Why were they afraid of the Philistines?
3. After the first defeat what did the Israelites do?
4. Who came with the ark to the battlefield?
5. What did the Israelite soldiers do when they saw the ark?
6. What did the Philistines do when they heard shouting?
7. What happened at the second battle?
8. What did Eli do when he heard the news about the ark of the covenant?


In the last story, God spoke to young Samuel. In the message He said He would punish the house of Eli. Why did God punish them? 

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

God Speaks to a Boy Named Samuel

By Mary Vee
I Samuel 3


Samuel's Journal


Last night I heard someone call my name. It was weird because Eli had never called me after I went to bed. 


I hugged my favorite toy, ran to his bed and asked him what he needed. He said he didn't call me and told me to go back to bed. Now that was really weird


I went back to bed but I heard my name called two more times in that night. Each time I ran to Eli's bed to ask what he needed; I'm glad he didn't get angry for me waking him. The third time, Eli said, "If the Lord calls you, say 'Speak Lord for Your servant hears.'"


I walked slower back to my bed. This time I looked in the other rooms in the Temple except the ones I wasn't allowed to go in, like the Holy of Holies. I didn't see anyone. Eli said he thought the Lord had called to me. I'm just a kid. Why would God speak to me?


I went back to my room and climbed under the blankets and hugged my toy. I didn't think I would be able to go to sleep but I must have because my eyes popped open when the voice spoke to me again. "Samuel! Samuel!"


The Lord is calling me. I need to say the words Eli told me to say. I cleared my throat and sat up. "Speak to me Lord, I am you servant and I'm listening."


I looked around the room and didn't see anything, yet I could hear the Voice. "Samuel, I am going to do something in Israel which will make the ears of everyone who hears tingle. On that day I will do everything to the house of Eli that I said I would do from the beginning to the end.


"I told Eli I would judge his house forever because he knew his sons Hopni and Phinehas did evil yet he didn't make them stop. He allowed his sons to continue their work in My Temple even though they dishonored me with their sins.


"I gave Eli a chance and have waited for him to remove his sons from their Temple duties or stop them in some other way. The time has come for Me to wait no longer. I will punish His house and will not accept any sacrifice from them."


The message scared me. I didn't want to tell Eli. I lay down in my bed but couldn't go back to sleep. When the sun first rose I got up to do my morning chores. I opened the doors of the house of the Lord then did my other chores.


Eli came into the room where I worked. "Samuel, my son, I've been looking for you. Tell me, what did the Lord say to you?"


I looked at him then at the ground. I didn't want to tell him what I heard.


Eli stepped closer and set his hand on my shoulder. "Now, there, my son. Don't worry. Please don't hide any of the words from me."


I looked up at his wrinkled face. I didn't want to hurt him, but I wanted to obey. I told him every work the Lord spoke to me then looked at the ground again and sighed. 


Eli reached out his hand and lifted my chin until I could see his eyes. "It is the Lord's will. Let Him do what seems good to Him."


Eli walked away with slow sad-like steps. 


I've thought about Eli's answer that day for a long time. Even though he didn't do something right, he understood when God said he needed to be punished, and he honored God with his answer. I wonder, though, why Eli didn't punish his sons even after he heard God's message.


**************************
1. Who called Samuel?
2. What did Eli, the priest, tell Samuel to do?
3. What message did God give to Samuel?
4. Why did God make that decision?
5. What did Eli ask Samuel the next morning?
6. What did you learn from this story?

Monday, November 14, 2011

The Missionary Doctor

By Mary Vee


From Gladys Aylward's Journal


photo courtesy visualbiblealive.com
I never knew how God would show me which direction to go in next. I have been surprised many times, like the one I will tell you about today. But this I know. I wouldn't have changed God's plan for any other adventure in the world..


I became ill with typhoid and pneumonia during the the journey across the mountains with the one hundred children. Yes, I became quite sick and never fully recovered. But now that I think about my missionary work after I became sick, I see God's plan. My illness played a great role.


I often found myself resting and healing in a hospital, mission, or someone's home in between my missionary work. While in each place, God allowed me to meet someone who had a need.


One day I was asked to teach a class to college students attending a week long conference. What a great idea! I could enjoy teaching. I gladly agreed but before my appointed time I became too sick to teach and ended up spending the week in bed in the conference housing. Seemed like a  confusing plan from God, right? Well yes until--


In the next room I heard a group of students mumbling. I put on my robe and walked to their door. Fifteen students were crowded around a map and praying. When one student finished praying the next student closed his eyes and put his finger on the map. The group of students prayed for the people in that city or village for about thirty minutes then a different student closed his eyes and pointed to the map.


After hearing these students do this each night I couldn't help but ask them, "Do you know missionaries in those places you've been praying for?"


"No," one answered. "We would go ourselves but we don't have the money or anything else we need to go. The best we can do is pray."


On the last day of the conference I finally felt better. Each day I had thought about the fifteen students and their dedication to the small villages. I had prayed for them and listened to their prayers each night. I packed my belongings and went to the room where the fifteen students prayed. "God has led me to go to those villages and tell them about Jesus." 


I don't believe I've seen a happier group of students in my life.


The next day I left for the first village. I told each person I met about God and His love for them. I went into the villages and told Bible stories and taught God's Word. I went from one village to the next, telling everyone I met about Jesus and what He did for them.


Many days later a Christian woman told me I could go no further on the road. There were no more villages beyond hers. How could that be? Surely someone lived in the mountain villages beyond that place. She said, "I'm sorry, there aren't"


I stayed in her house a few days. Each day I felt a tugging in my heart to go beyond that village and tell anyone I met about Jesus. When the Christian people of the village realized I would not change my mind, they appointed someone to go with me for safety and to help tell people about Christ.


Dr. Huang offered to go with me for five days but made me agree to return afterwards. I agreed.  We left the next morning. As we walked we talked about the Bible. I soon realized that although Dr. Huang loved Jesus, he didn't know the Bible stories and truths found in God's Word. 


Every moment that no one was on the road I taught the doctor Bible stories. He was a feisty fellow. As I told the stories he'd interrupt me and say I had the information wrong. He then said what he thought was right. I pulled out my Scriptures and showed him the page where he could read the story.


We walked. He read. He sighed and said I was right. Then we talked about the story. When we finished, I told a new story. He again said I was wrong. I showed him the page. He read the story. We talked. Over and over. I found this a wonderful game.


We met many people along the road who had never heard of Jesus. The more the doctor learned about the Bible stories, the more he shared with the people. Just imagine, we were the first ones to tell those precious souls about Christ. I wouldn't want to do anything else. 


The five days promised turned into nine days. Each day we met people who had never heard about Christ and His love for them. I am so glad we walked on this road.


Then the day came when we didn't meet any one. We found no place to sleep and no food. We set our bags down and prayed.


Come back next week to read the surprise God gave us.


Glady Aylward.


I don't usually write a PS. but this time I will. I really wanted to teach the college class at that conference and was sad at the time my illness wouldn't let me. If I had, I might not have noticed the fifteen students praying, and so on. Even when I think God is not letting me do something, He really is.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Samuel's Dream

By Mary Vee
I Samuel 3


From Eli's Journal


The hour was late. I had stayed up to finish a few chores before going to bed, but perhaps I stayed up too late. I thought I would fall asleep while I walked to my room!


My eyes haven't been quite what they use to be when I first served the Lord in the Temple.On my way to my bed I stubbed my toe.Oh, it hurt so much. I held my breath to keep from crying out because I didn't want to wake the others. Needless to say, I went straight to bed.


Little Samuel went to sleep hours ago. Poor kid. He not only did his work but also the work of my disobedient sons. Samuel has never complained, even though he has the right. I prayed a special blessing for the little guy when I checked on him. Sure enough I found him fast asleep. 


I think I fell asleep after my head touched the bed. I'm not certain. But this I know: Samuel woke me. He shook my arm and said something like, "Here I am, you called me." 


How can I call to him if I'm sleeping? 


What a silly kid. I blinked then rubbed my eyes. Maybe I imagined him there, or maybe I was dreaming. The more I blinked the more I saw of the little guy. I yawned then blinked twice more. "Little Samuel, I didn't call you. Go back to bed."


He tipped his head and looked at me like I was crazy. Sometimes I think I am. But not this time. Samuel went back to bed and I went back to sleep. 


I think only one breath of time passed, although it may have been more when the little guy pulled on my arm again. "Here I am, you called me." 


That was the moment I realized I would not be able to sleep much before morning. I took a deep breath and shook my head. "My dear son, Samuel. I did not call you. Please go back to bed."


He scratched his head and yawned. "Yes, Eli." 


Off to bed he went, and off to sleep I hoped to stay--until the sun popped into my window. I think I heard myself snore once before the little guy yanked on my sleeve. "Here I am, you called me."


He stood looking at me, waiting for a response. He smiled like always, ready, willing to do whatever I asked. The lad truly has been a gift from God. 


Yes, exactly. He is a gift from God! That's the answer. God is the one calling him, not me!


"Samuel, I'm going to tell you to go back to bed, but this time, if you hear your name, say, 'Speak Lord, for Your servant hears.'"


His eyes seemed so large and his smile practically went wider than his face. He nodded then ran out of my room.


I closed my eyes and wondered if I would be able to sleep the rest of the night. Sleep Samuel.


*****************************
1. Who is Eli?
2. Who is Eli's helper?
3.  What did Samuel dream the first time?
4. What did Eli tell Samuel to do?
5. What did Samuel dream the second time?
6. What did Eli tell Samuel to do?
7. What did Samuel dream the third time?
8. What did Eli tell Samuel to do?
9. Do you think Eli will be able to sleep until the sun rises? (hint: come back next time to read the story)

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Eli's Sons Cause Trouble

By Mary Vee
I Samuel 2

From Eli's Journal

If the Lord had not brought young Samuel to live and train in the Temple, I think I would have gone crazy. Why, you ask? Because my two sons Hophni and Phinehas cause trouble.

I am an old man, ready to pass my job as chief priest on to my sons, but I can't bring myself to consider either Hophni or Phinehas for the job. When the people bring their sacrifices to the Temple my sons steal from them and they lay around when they should be working. If God set a rule for the Temple my two sons have surely broken it. My heart aches, my anger boils, and well, I just don't feel well. 

I have talked with my sons about the things they do wrong. Each time they laugh in my face and walk away.  I don't believe they have truly accept the Almighty as the true God. How I pray for them. How I wish they would change. But in all these years of their lives, neither one has given their dedication to the Almighty. All they do is find ways to mock God.

I know, I know I should punish them. 

I--can't bring myself to carry out any punishment, though. Men from the city have reported the crimes my sons have done and how they mislead the people and teach them to sin against others. 


The people believe Hopni and Phinehas because they are my sons. I warned those two: the Lord will judge them for the wrong things they do. But for the sins they commit  against the Lord and his Temple, no one can intercede for them. Did they listen to me. Noooooo

One day when I sat in the Temple, an angel came to me dressed like a man. He wasn't happy. He said, "Did I not clearly show Myself to Moses when he lived in Pharaoh's house in Egypt? Didn't I choose him out of all the tribes of Israel to be My priest. Didn't I give to your family line all the offerings made by fire for food? 

"You have chosen to honor your sons more than Me, Eli, by making yourselves fat with the best of the offerings from My people. They should have been given to Me as an offering. 

"Those who honor Me I will honor, and those who despise Me, I will despise. Your sons Hophni and Phinehas will one day die, both of them and I will raise up a faithful priest who will do what is in My heart and mind. Anyone who is left in your house will bow to this faithful priest."

When he finished speaking, He left. I began to sweat and my heart thumped.  I knew I should talk to my sons and punish them, but I didn't. Instead I went back to my work hoping my sons would turn from their wicked ways.

*********************************
1. Who is the priest at this time?
2. What may Eli upset?
3. What did he do about it?
4. What did Eli do wrong?
5. Who visited Eli?
6. What did the visitor tell Eli?
7. Did Eli change? Did his sons change? 
8. What do you think will happen next?

Monday, November 7, 2011

My Son, Chu En Part 2

By Mary Vee


Gladys Aylward's Journal


photo courtesy of visualbiblealive.com
To read part one of this story, click here.
Chu En returned home for a visit one year later. He had grown tall and still loved the Bible stories. He pulled me aside and said, "Ai-weh-dah, I want to go back to Yang Cheng to help the people."

 I shook my head. "Oh, no, you mustn't. Yang Cheng isn't the same. You'd be in great danger there."


He tipped his head, placed his hands on my shoulders, and smiled. "Now, Mother, you didn't let anyone stop you from coming to China."


He had a good argument, but--I couldn't say yes. "No, the town has been destroyed, most of the people you knew have left, and Japanese soldiers have occupied many of the homes--no."


He sighed and returned to his training with Dr. Tsung. A few months later I heard a noise in the kitchen. "Who's there?"


Chu En poked his head out from another room. "It's me, Mother."


He shouldn't be home yet. There must have been a problem. "Are you sick. You didn't run away, did you?"


"No." He smiled. "I came home to tell you I must go to Yang Cheng. I can't wait any longer. God is telling me to go." He came close, gave me a hug then look straight into my eyes. "Will you ask God to give me a stethoscope to use there?"


He'd made up his mind. I couldn't stop him any longer. At least I could ask God to give him new pants and shoes which he truly needed along with my prayer for the stethoscope.


Two weeks later God had not yet provided new shoes or pants for him. I thought about this as I walked down the village street. On my walk I saw a women. I greeted her. "Good morning, how are you?" She invited me to her hut. As we talked I looked around at the few things she had. On a shelf I saw a box. "What's in the box?"


She shrugged. "I don't know. It belonged to a lady who visited my village long ago. She told us about Jesus. Days later Japanese soldiers came. Some villagers rushed her to a cave to hide from the soldiers. She never returned to my home for her box."


Yes, I was curious about the contents, very curious. "May I open the box?" She took the box down from her shelf and handed it to me. Inside I found clothes, books, old food and a small case. 


What could possibly be in such a strange looking case? I opened the latch, lifted the lid and gasped. A stethoscope! A gift from God! He sent it through a missionary who left it in this village woman's home months ago and brought it here, not knowing--not knowing it was needed.


"Would you like me to care for these things?"


"Well, you do look like her, and you tell Bible stories like she did, so I guess that would be good." 


I ran as fast as I could back to the house. "Chu En! Chu En! Look what God has given!!"


His eyes grew wider than a saucer. "Really?" He took the stethoscope and rubbed his hand along every inch. Only God could have sent such a gift to a small village in the mountains. Chu En reached down and hugged me. "Now, Mother, do you believe God wants me to go to Yang Cheng?"


What could I say? "Yes, Chu En. I believe you must go." 


Two years later I met a man who spoke like someone from Yang Cheng. "Can you tell me about Jesus?" he said.


Not many people walk up to me and ask that question. "Why do you ask?"


In my village of Yang Cheng there is a young man who has a strange instrument that lets him listen and know what is happening to a heart. He says there is a way to know peace and joy in our heart with Jesus."


Firework happiness popped in my heart. This man spoke to Chu En!


I have more to tell you next week. God continues to bless in China.


Gladys Aylward




photo courtesy of Biblevisualimages.com

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Little Samuel Goes to the Temple

By Mary Vee
I Samuel 1-2


From Hannah's Journal


I woke this morning and couldn't decide whether I was more proud or sad. 


I made this promise: If God would give me a child I would give the child back to Him to serve in the Temple.


I'm proud because baby Samuel grew into a fine young boy these last three years. He talked, and amazingly enough he listened. He will serve God well. 


I'm sad because he won't be at my side everyday. 


I helped Samuel get dressed for the journey. "Today we will go to the Temple." He giggled and danced around the room shouting "Yippee. Can I ride the donkey?"


 Elkanah knocked on the door a few moments ago and asked, "Are you ready, Hannah?"


"Yes, I am. And little Samuel is, too."


We left our home in Ramah and took Samuel along with gifts for the Lord. I had missed the last three celebrations to stay home and take care of Samuel. We walked to Shiloh for the annual visit to the Temple and found a place in the crowd to eat our meal before going into worship. Elkanah went to his place in the Temple and I took little Samuel to mine.


I held his little hand and walked up the stairs. Inside the room, I searched for Eli, the priest, the same one who saw me pray three years ago. I wanted to show him God had answered my prayer. 


Eli sat in a special chair off to the side. "Come Samuel. This is the man I told you about."


Samuel stayed close to my leg as we walked closer.  I bowed before Eli, little Samuel copied me. "My Lord. I have come to show you how God answered prayer. I am the woman who stood by you, here in this room three years ago. I had prayed for a child. The Lord granted me my petition and gave me this son."


I guided little Samuel to stand in front of me and put my hands on his shoulders. "My lord, I am lending this little one to the Lord, God Almighty to serve him as long as he lives."


I should have felt like crying when Samuel walked straight and tall toward Eli without my telling him to go, but instead, my heart bubbled because I knew I had kept my promise to God.


I kneeled and prayed to the Almighty:
My heart rejoices in the Lord; I smile at my enemies because I rejoice in Your salvation.
No one is holy like the Lord, there is none besides You. Nor is there any rock like our God
Don't talk proudly, for the Lord is the God of knowledge; and by Him actions are weighed.
The bows of mighty men are broken, Those who stumbled are held up with strength
The Lord kills and makes alive; He makes poor and rich, He brings low and lifts up
He raises poor from the dust to set them among princes 
and makes them inherit the throne of glory.
He will guard the feet of His saints but the wicked shall be silent in darkness
By strength no man shall prevail. The enemies of the Lord shall be broken. 
The Lord will judge.
He will give strength to His king and exalt His anointed

I hugged and kissed little Samuel and told him I would bring him a gift the next time I saw him. He smiled. My sweet little Samuel smiled. Thank you God for my son, Samuel.

*******************************
1. What promise did Hannah make to God?
2. Where did Elkanah and Hannah go?
3. What did they take?
4. What did Hannah do when she reached the Temple?
5.  What did she say to Eli?
6.  What did Hannah do?
7. Why did Hannah feel happy?
8. What did you learn from this story?

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Sweet Baby Samuel

By Mary Vee
I Samuel 1


From Hannah's Journal


Can you hear my baby? He is sleeping. His little chest rises and falls with each tiny breath. Baby Samuel is a gift from God.


Oh, look. He moved his hand. He opened his fist to let us see his tiny fingers. Excuse me, I must pick him up. 


"Hannah, Hannah, where are you?"


"I'm in here with Baby Samuel."


My husband, Elkanah, peeked around the corner. "It's time to leave for the Temple. Are you ready?"


I hugged my little baby. "Not yet. I can't take Samuel until he can walk. The priest need to be able to take care of him. No, not yet. Baby Samuel needs to stand tall when he appears before the Lord."


Elkanah nodded and pointed his eyebrows down. "Do what you think is best; You can wait until Samuel is able to walk and stand before the Lord. But, remember, you promised you would give him to the Lord."


Baby Samuel stretched then yawned. His little heart beat like raindrops patting against the tent. "Just think, Samuel, some day you will do great things for the Lord." I hugged him close. His soft breath tickled my neck. 


It seemed only days before Samuel could sit. He chewed on his fingers and anything else he could shove in his mouth. Poor baby cried when his teeth broke through his gums. 


Most of the time baby Samuel giggled and explored. He laughed when his older cousins tickled him. Sometimes, while standing at my cooking pot, I'd watch him staring at the other children and wonder what he was thinking. His eyes moved with the children's movements. He seemed to study their moves then try to imitate them. He seemed to care about others around him.


Soon Samuel took a first step then many more. He toddled a few steps and fell, picked himself up and toddled some more. I had to keep any dangerous objects away from him--what a curious little boy.


Feasts and celebrations past. Samuel learned to run after the other children and join in some of their games. He could stand tall and speak words. And the questions! Every wakening second he either asked a question or furrowed his brow as he thought about an answer. 


At this time, God let me know Samuel could go to the Temple to serve him. I packed a few of his things, the needed gifts for the priest and walked with Elkanah to the Temple. 


You might ask, did I feel sad? Did I cry? Well, only as a proud mother would. God gave this little boy to our nation to serve Him. Sure I will miss him, but I also know young Samuel will be here at the Temple serving the Almighty God.


********************
1.  Why did Hannah need to take Samuel to the Temple?
2.  Why did Hannah wait?
3.  Why did Hannah later take Samuel to the Temple?
4.  What promise did Hannah make (hint, read last week's story here. 
5.  What did you learn from today's story?


photo courtesy of christianimageresource.com