Kindness

Occasionally my wife and I minister to someone just before they die.  Sometimes the person is very anxious.  The dying person might be very upset and concerned about what is going to happen to loved ones when the person passes on to the next life.    It is a very moving moment. My wife addresses the person: “You can go home to Jesus now.  Your family loves you and wants you to be at peace and free from suffering.”  At that very moment, we’ve seen the person simply relax and die.  It is as though they have been given permission to pass away.

Before Moses can die, he has to be sure that careful instructions are given to the people about how those placed under his care are to be treated. You’ll read verses about being kind to those in need.  

How will you fulfill these commands of Moses on his deathbed—commands that the Holy Spirit longs for you to keep alive in your heart?  

 Deuteronomy 15:1-11

The Saturday passages follow the reading list that Jewish people use in their synagogue worship throughout the world. They are taken from
“The Torah,” the first five books of the Bible from Genesis to Deuteronomy that are read each year beginning with autumn.

These Firestarters are from a new edition of The Bible Through the Seasons being developed for families with children. For the Firestarters in the original edition, I recommend the ebook.  You will have the entire program of well over a thousand of these introductions with you on your phone or table! Check the menu options at the site for more information.

Lifted High to See Jesus

When Jesus came to that spot, he looked up and said, “Zacchaeus, come down at once. I must stay in your home today.” 
So Zacchaeus came down at once, happy to welcome Jesus.
Luke 19:5-6

When you were a little child, watching a parade go by, you likely couldn’t see very well because the people in front of you were much taller than you. Maybe your Dad put you on his shoulders so that you could see better.

For the past ten chapters in the Gospel of St. Luke, all the stories and teachings of Jesus happen while he is making his way to Jerusalem; there he will suffer, die and rise from the dead. Great crowds followed Jesus; it was just like a parade!  A very short man named Zacchaeus wanted to see Jesus as he passed by.  Zacchaeus was too heavy to sit on someone’s shoulders, so he climbed up a tree so that he could see Jesus.  Watch him; then catch the smile of love on Jesus’ face when he sees Zacchaeus sticking out way up in that tree.

So many people in our lives have shared their faith and love with us, for they too, wanted to wiggle their way through the events of their lives so that they could see Jesus better.   We get to see Jesus, because it is as though we are sitting on the shoulders of these faithful ones, so that we too can see Jesus. 

Luke 19:1-28

Fridays are dedicated to the Gospels. This being Year C,
the third year in the cycle, we generally read from the Gospel of Luke.

These Firestarters are from a new edition of The Bible Through the Seasons being developed for families with children. For the Firestarters in the original edition, I recommend the ebook.  You will have the entire program of well over a thousand of these introductions with you on your phone or table! Check the menu options at the site for more information.

Final Encouraging Words

One of the purposes for the letter to the Hebrews, was to encourage Jewish Christians who had suffered so much persecution from the Roman emperors.  These are the final chapters.  What beautiful verses the writer shares!  Knowing that he would be closing the letter, his love, care and encouragement gets stronger and stronger. 

When we do what is right before God, there is joy in our hearts that no one can take from us.  God’s love is so much greater than the hatred of the worst enemy.  Take these special expressions of the writer, one at a time, perhaps having one chapter in the morning, the other in the afternoon or evening.      

Schools are opening soon.  Listen to the words of this reading; they will encourage you and lift you up as you get ready for another year.  Children in school bring fresh joys to parents’ own desire to grow in learning.

Hebrews 12—13

Thursdays are dedicated to the letters of Paul, other letters,
the Book of Acts, and the Book of Revelation.

These Firestarters are from a new edition of The Bible Through the Seasons being developed for families with children. For the Firestarters in the original edition, I recommend the ebook.  You will have the entire program of well over a thousand of these introductions with you on your phone or table! Check the menu options at the site for more information.

Giving Our Feelings to God

Every now and then we learn about people being held hostage. It must be a terrible experience to be totally controlled by those who hate you. Imagine how painful it would be to be forced by your captors to sing your favorite songs!

This is exactly what happened to God’s people when they were in exile—forced to leave the special land given to them by God, to be marched off to a foreign land. When they got there, their captors mocked them, making them sing the sacred songs of their homeland. The people in exile became so angry with their captors that they wished that awful things would happen to them.

When you and I feel angry, there are loving ways to accept this emotion and to express it in ways that are helpful and not hurtful. Then along comes a special gift from God: the power to forgive those who have wronged us.

Psalm 137

Wednesdays are devoted to the reading of the Psalms,
one a week across the three-year cycle.

These Firestarters are from a new edition of The Bible Through the Seasons being developed for families with children. For the Firestarters in the original edition, I recommend the ebook.  You will have the entire program of well over a thousand of these introductions with you on your phone or table! Check the menu options at the site for more information.

A Heart Just Like God’s

You’ll be reading one of the most beautiful prayers in the Old Testament.   You’ll see why David is called, “A man after God’s heart.”  

Look at all that goes into David’s prayer: humility, praise, joy, wonder. He pleads to God for what the people need. I suggest that you and your family pray this prayer slowly, being nourished by it just as if it were a delicious meal that you eat slowly, so as to enjoy every bite.  

Just as God helped David to be so special, so God’s energy, called “grace” is with you so that you too can be someone who lives with the very heart of God’s love and kindness. 

  1 Chronicles 29:10-20

Tuesdays are dedicated to the the History and Writings
of the Hebrew Scriptures.

These Firestarters are from a new edition of The Bible Through the Seasons being developed for families with children. For the Firestarters in the original edition, I recommend the ebook.  You will have the entire program of well over a thousand of these introductions with you on your phone or table! Check the menu options at the site for more information.

Living the Way God Wants

Remember the story of Jonah—how God called him to walk through the wicked city of Nineveh crying out, “Repent!” Well, the people in the city heard him and did stop being selfish and ignoring God; but it seems that this didn’t last very long.  They lost a sense of God and God’s love for them, and went back into their proud and evil ways.  

In today’s reading the prophet Nahum tells what is going to happen to that city.  The details are awful!  God is compassionate, but God is also just.  If people continue to ignore God’s call to live the way God wants, then terrible things can happen. 

Even though all the words of Nahum are very strong about how God does not like evil, stay close to verse 7: “The Lord is good, a haven in a day of distress. He acknowledges those who take refuge in him.”  

God lives inside you, so you don’t have to go very far to feel God’s loving embrace that protects you.

Nahum 1:1-8

Mondays are dedicated to the reading of the Hebrew Prophets.

These Firestarters are from a new edition of The Bible Through the Seasons being developed for families with children. For the Firestarters in the original edition, I recommend the ebook.  You will have the entire program of well over a thousand of these introductions with you on your phone or table! Check the menu options at the site for more information.

Touched and Healed by Jesus

Can you imagine: a woman crippled and bent over for eighteen years! She couldn’t look up to see the blue sky, but always had her face staring at the ground.

She comes to the synagogue one day.  Jesus is teaching. Maybe she hopes that something Jesus says will at least bring her some comfort.   However, she gets much more; Jesus heals her. She stands up and smiles at Jesus, as she is now able to see him face to face. 

Imagine that you’re the next one for Jesus to touch and heal.  You may not be a crippled person, but if you think about it, there’s likely some hurt you are carrying that needs to be healed.  Feel the touch of Jesus on your heart and be healed.

Look up at the blue sky and thank God for your life and how Jesus is with you at every moment.  Look at him face to face and thank him, the Father and the Holy Spirit, for giving you the gift of life. 

Luke 13:10-17

On Sundays we follow the Gospels from the Revised Common Lectionary.

These Firestarters are from a new edition of The Bible Through the Seasons being developed for families with children. For the Firestarters in the original edition, I recommend the ebook.  You will have the entire program of well over a thousand of these introductions with you on your phone or table! Check the menu options at the site for more information.