God Knows Me – Part One

Mr. Mathisen:             Boys and girls, did you know that God knows you better than anybody else in the whole world?

Stanley:                       Are you sure? My friend Elwood knows me pretty good.

Mr. Mathisen:             Stanley, God knows you better than Elwood. He  knows you better than your sister Susie, He knows you better than even your Mom or Dad.

Stanley:                       Whoa, that must be pretty well! How come God knows me so well? Has He been watching me from behind a bush? Is there a camera somewhere around here? Is He watching me now?

Mr. Mathisen:             OK, Stanley, slow down. No, God isn’t watching you from behind a bush or on  a camera somewhere. He knows you that well because He made you.

Stanley:                       What? I thought that my Mom made me.

Mr. Mathisen:             Well, she did help by carrying you around for nine months, but it was God who made you.

Stanley:                       Didn’t my Dad help? I always that he helped.

Mr. Mathisen:             Yes, your Dad helped too, but it was God who made you.

Stanley:                       How do you know that? Where you there? You are awful old…and fat…and bald.

Mr. Mathisen:             Hey! That’s not nice, Stanley.

Stanley:                       I’m sorry.

Mr. Mathisen:             Well, let me tell you how I know. King David tells us about it in Psalm 139. Let me read some of it to you. King David is talking about God here:

You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb.

Thank You for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.

You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion, as I was woven together in the dark of the womb. You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in Your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed. (Psalm 139:13-16)

Stanley:                      Wow! You were right! He made me! I think He did a really good job, don’t you?

Mr. Mathisen:          Yes, I do Stanley. When somebody makes something, they know it pretty well. But is that the only reason God knows you. Do you think that He knows all about you just because He made you?

The Story of Leaving the Ninety and Nine to Find the One – Part Two – Conclusion

Stanley:                       Well, I sang the song to myself and then I prayed for awhile. I asked Jesus to send someone to find me. I sang the song to myself again a couple of times, and I prayed again. I hollered help a couple of times too, but, mostly I prayed. And you know what happened then?

Mr. Mathisen:             No, I don’t Stanley. What happened then?

Stanley:                       Well, after I prayed, I began to feel really calm and peaceful. It was like Jesus was telling me that He would answer my prayer. Just then, I heard a voice calling my name, and I looked up and there was Mr. Christos. He was kneeling at the top of the cliff and looking down at me. I couldn’t believe it. I had just prayed and sang and there he was.

Mr. Mathisen:             Jesus was really watching out for you wasn’t He?

Stanley:                       He sure was! Mr. Christos yelled down to me to ask if I was all right. I told him that I was, and he told me to not move and that he would be right back.

He went away for a couple of minutes and came back with a rope. He tied one end around a tree and the other around his waist. Then he slowly lowered himself down that cliff until he was beside me. He had me climb onto him in the front. I put my arms around his neck and hung on tight. Then he used his arms and legs and pulled us both back up that cliff. It was really slow, but I was never scared. I knew that Mr. Christos had left all the other kids and came looking for me and then he rescued me. I was so happy that I almost cried.

When we got to the top, we backed up against a tree and just sat up there at the top of the cliff for a few minutes while he got his breath back and I just sat real close to him. He risked his life to save me. He left all the others to come find me. Then he gave me a quick hug and told me to never, ever scare him like that again. I quietly said “Ok”, and then we went to find the others.

He never got mad at me at all.

Mr. Mathisen:             Stanley, did you know that our story today is the Parable of the Lost Sheep?

Stanley:                       No. Are you kidding?

Mr. Mathisen:             Nope. Listen to this. It is from the Gospel of Luke, chapter 15, verses 4 through 7.

4 “If you had one hundred sheep, and one of them strayed away and was lost in the wilderness, wouldn’t you leave the ninety-nine others to go and search for the lost one until you found it? 5 And then you would joyfully carry it home on your shoulders. 6 When you arrived, you would call together your friends and neighbors to rejoice with you because your lost sheep was found. 7 In the same way, heaven will be happier over one lost sinner who returns to God than over ninety-nine others who are righteous and haven’t strayed away!

Stanley:                       That’s just like what happened to me. My legs were a little shaky from being cramped up on the ledge and Mr. Christos carried me until I could walk by myself and then when we got back to the others, he told everyone what happened and how glad he was that he found me and that I was ok and back with my class. Everyone else was happy too. We had a great time the rest of the day. I made real sure that I stayed with everyone else, and I could see Mr. Christos keeping an extra sharp eye on me all the time. That made me feel real good too.

Mr. Mathisen:             Well Stanley, what lesson did you learn?

Stanley:                       I learned that whenever I get myself into trouble, the very first thing that I should do is to pray. God will always help me.

Mr. Mathisen: That sounds like a pretty good lesson to learn if you ask me.

The Story of Leaving the Ninety and Nine to Find the One – Part One

The Story of Leaving the Ninety and Nine to Find the One

By: God

Adapted by: S.C. Mathisen

Mr. Mathisen:             Stanley, I understand that you had a bit of an adventure this last week.

Stanley:                       Boy, you bet I did, and it was NOT fun Mr. Mathisen! I got really scared. But, I learned something really important, and I’m all right now.

Mr. Mathisen:             Well, would you like to talk about what happened? Maybe the boys and girls would like to hear about it. Maybe they could learn something too.

Stanley:                       Well, alright.

Mr. Mathisen:             Let’s start at the beginning. Where were you? And what were you doing?

Stanley:                       Well, all of the 1 2 my school went on a field trip to the park near Puget Sound. You know the one with the big cliffs and the railroad tracks down by the beach?my school went on a field trip to the park near Puget Sound. You know the one with the big cliffs and the railroad tracks down by the beach?

Mr. Mathisen:             Yes, I do. Go on…

Stanley:                       Well, it was a really sunny day. We all met at the school and rode a couple of school buses to the park. We were all excited to be going to the beach instead of sitting in class. When we got to the park, they lined us all up by class and counted us just to make sure that we were all there. I couldn’t believe that there were a hundred of us!

Well anyway, that’s a lot of kids, and so we headed down to the beach. Our teachers and some of were all walking down the trail the beach, and I saw that my tennis shoe had come untied. So, I stopped to retie it. Our group was the last one and my teacher (Mr. Christos) told me to hurry up. He didn’t want me to be left behind. I said that I would tie it as fast as I could and catch up with them. He said to hurry because he didn’t want me left behind. Then, some other kids started asking him some questions; he turned and followed them down the path toward the beach.

By the time I finished tying my shoes and looked up, they were all out of sight around the bend and down the path toward the beach. I started to run after them when I saw it. It was a Bald Eagle! I had never seen one for real, so I started to follow it. It was flying towards the woods that were next to the beach.

Mr. Mathisen:             Wait a minute! You followed the eagle instead of your teacher?

Stanley:                       Well, I had never seen a real, live one before. I’ve only seen them on TV or pictures of them in books, so I got really excited and . . . kinda forgot what I was supposed to be doing. I just followed it into the woods. I wanted to see where it was going to land. I almost tripped over some trees that had fallen over and stuff. I had a little trouble seeing it a couple of times, but I was watching it real close to make sure that I didn’t lose it. The next thing I knew, I was falling down the side of the cliff. I landed on a little ledge about half way down.

Mr. Mathisen:             Wow! Were you hurt very badly? You look ok now.

Stanley:                       I was more scared than hurt. I mean I landed pretty hard, but I thought for a minute there that I . I looked around to see where I was and I wasn’t sure until I looked down and realized that I was stuck on a ledge! I couldn’t climb back up and I couldn’t climb down! I was stuck on this ledge and I didn’t know where anyone from my school was and they didn’t know where I was! . I looked around to see where I was and I wasn’t sure until I looked down and realized that I was stuck on a ledge! I couldn’t climb back up and I couldn’t climb down! I was stuck on this ledge and I didn’t know where anyone from my school was and they didn’t know where I was! . I looked around to see where I was and I wasn’t sure until I looked down and realized that I was stuck on a ledge! I couldn’t climb back up and I couldn’t climb down! I was stuck on this ledge and I didn’t know where anyone from my school was and they didn’t know where I was!

Mr. Mathisen:             Were you scared Stanley?

Stanley:                       Boy was I!! I was really scared there for awhile and then…

Mr. Mathisen:             And then what?

Stanley:                       And then I remembered your song about not being afraid. You know the one that goes like this: (singing) “I will NOT be afraid, I will NOT be afraid, I will NOT be afraid. With Jesus as my helper NOT be afraid!”

Mr. Mathisen: That’s exactly why we sing those songs, Stanley. What happened then? We don’t want to leave you on that ledge.

Elijah and the Widow – Part 2 – Conclusion

But after a while the brook dried up, for there was no rainfall anywhere in the land. Then the LORD said to Elijah, “Go and live in the village of Zarephath, near the city of Sidon. I have instructed a widow there to feed you.” (1Ki 17:7-9)

Stanley:     Was there a path to Zarephath?

Mr. Mathisen:    Oh Stanley, of course there was, but it was also a mighty long walk.

So he went to Zarephath. As he arrived at the gates of the village, he saw a widow gathering sticks, and he asked her, “Would you please bring me a little water in a cup?”

As she was going to get it, he called to her, “Bring me a bite of bread, too.”

But she said, “I swear by the LORD your God that I don’t have a single piece of bread in the house. And I have only a handful of flour left in the jar and a little cooking oil in the bottom of the jug. I was just gathering a few sticks to cook this last meal, and then my son and I will die.”

But Elijah said to her, “Don’t be afraid! Go ahead and do just what you’ve said, but make a little bread for me first. Then use what’s left to prepare a meal for yourself and your son. (1Ki 17:10-13)

Stanley:                      Wait a second! Was he asking her to use the last of the food that she had to feed him first? That’s not very nice.

Mr. Mathisen:          Hang on Stanley, wait until you see what comes next.

For this is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: There will always be flour and olive oil left in your containers until the time when the LORD sends rain and the crops grow again!” (1Ki 17:14)

Stanley:    Whoa! What does that mean? I thought that she said that she only had enough left for a little bit of bread.

Mr. Mathisen:    Yes, Stanley, that is true. But, when we give or share the way that God wants us to, then the bit that we have left goes longer. It’s always better to obey God and give. You see God wants us to be generous and be willing to share what we have whether we have a little or a lot. In fact, I think that your memory verse for today is I Timothy 6:18. It says, “Do good…be generous and be willing to share”. Let’s go back to the story because God did even more for that widow and her son than keep them fed.

So she did as Elijah said, and she and Elijah and her son continued to eat for many days.

There was always enough flour and olive oil left in the containers, just as the LORD had promised through Elijah.

Sometime later the woman’s son became sick. He grew worse and worse, and finally he died.

Then she said to Elijah, “O man of God, what have you done to me? Have you come here to point out my sins and kill my son?”

But Elijah replied, “Give me your son.” And he took the child’s body from her arms, carried him up the stairs to the room where he was staying, and laid the body on his bed.

Then Elijah cried out to the LORD, “O LORD my God, why have You brought tragedy to this widow who has opened her home to me, causing her son to die?”

And he stretched himself out over the child three times and cried out to the LORD, “O LORD my God, please let this child’s life return to him.”

The LORD heard Elijah’s prayer, and the life of the child returned, and he revived!

Then Elijah brought him down from the upper room and gave him to his mother. “Look!” he said. “Your son is alive!”

Then the woman told Elijah, “Now I know for sure that you are a man of God, and that the LORD truly speaks through you.” (1Ki 17:15-24)

Stanley:       Wow, you were right. Healing her son and bringing him back to life was a lot more than keeping them fed. I guess that being generous when God asks us to is more important than I thought.

Mr. Mathisen:   Yes, Stanley, always remember that God is our provider. He will take care of us so that we can always be generous and share what we have whether it’s a little or a lot.

# # #

Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Elijah and the Widow – Part 1

Mr. Mathisen:          Boys and girls, this morning we are going to tell the story of Elijah and the Widow. Who can tell me who Elijah was?

Stanley:                      Ooh, Ooh, ooh…I know, I know!

Mr. Mathisen:          Stanley, do you really know who Elijah was?

Stanley:                      Sure, sure, he’s a great big, tall guy that plays basketball. I was watching a game on the TV with my dad the other night. He’s really good. There was this one shot from half court that went swoosh! Nothing but net! It was fantastic! He was great! He won the game for his team.

Mr. Mathisen:          Wow! That sure sounds like fun Stanley, but that is not who we are going to talk about.

Stanley:                      We’re not?

Mr. Mathisen:          Nope.

Stanley:                      Not even a little right?

Mr. Mathisen:          Nope.

Stanley:                      Oh…sorry.

Mr. Mathisen:          No problem Stanley.  Actually, you were a little bit right in that Elijah was great and he won a game for his team.

Stanley:                      Huh?

Mr. Mathisen:          Well let me tell the story and you just ask questions when you don’t understand something ok?

Stanley:                      You mean I can interrupt you? I already do that anyway.

Mr. Mathisen:          That’s right you do and I am going to solve that problem by giving you permission to interrupt me.

Stanley:                      That’s not much fun.

Mr. Mathisen:          Maybe not, but let’s get started anyway.

Stanley:                      Hmmph!

Now Elijah, who was from Tishbe in Gilead, told King Ahab, “As surely as the LORD, the God of Israel, lives—the God I serve—there will be no dew or rain during the next few years until I give the word!” (1Ki 17:1)

Stanley:                      Wait a second! How did Elijah know there was going to be no rain or dew for the next few years? How could he know that?

Mr. Mathisen:          Stanley do you know what a prophet is?

Stanley:                      Sure I do. That’s what you get when your business is making money. (I heard that on the news.)

Mr. Mathisen:          No, a prophet is somebody that God talks to and then he tells the people what God told him. Listen to the next verse and maybe you’ll understand better.

Then the LORD said to Elijah, “Go to the east and hide by Kerith Brook, near where it enters the Jordan River. Drink from the brook and eat what the ravens bring you, for I have commanded them to bring you food.” So Elijah did as the LORD told him and camped beside Kerith Brook, east of the Jordan. The ravens brought him bread and meat each morning and evening, and he drank from the brook. (1Ki 17:2-6)

Stanley:                      Ravens? Did you say ravens? Like the big black birds?

Mr. Mathisen:             Yes, I’m pretty sure that’s what they were.

Stanley:                      And they were bringing him food? I hope that they didn’t carry it in their mouths. Eew! That would be yucky

Mr. Mathisen:          Yes, that would be yucky. But, I am pretty sure that God had them carry the food with the talons on their feet and dropped it where Elijah could clean it up and eat it.

Stanley:                      That was actually a pretty cool way to get your food. It was Air mail, special delivery.

Mr. Mathisen:          It was pretty cool and God kept it up for nearly a year and then…

* * *

Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

God Cares for Me – Conclusion

The girls chose to trust Mr. Christopherson and when he led them into the dark and gloomy part of the trail, some of the other kids got scared and nervous. But, Susie and Andrea didn’t because they knew the teacher personally and trusted him to take care of them.

And it did get dark, it got very dark and the breeze began to get cold. The path became wet and the children began to be scared. Then they started hearing the creepy noises. Owls were hooting. Mountain lions were growling. Strange lights were going on in the distance.

The children were beginning to huddle themselves closer together and some of the girls were beginning to cry.

Mr. Christopherson heard all this, stopped the group, gathered all the children together in a little spot where there were some benches.

Mr. Christopherson stood there in the middle of the children with his walking stick.

“All right you guys, I know this place looks and feels really creepy but, remember that I am right here with you all the time and I’ve got this big stick. Nothing can get to you without going through me.”

A sigh of relief went through all the children. Johnny jumped up and went and stood next to Mr. Christopherson and said loudly, “and they’ll have to get through me too!”

The children all laughed.  Mr. Christopherson put his hand on Johnny’s shoulder and said “that’s right! They’ll have to get through Johnny too. Now, let’s get moving.”

So off they went on the path laughing and talking.

Psa 23:5  You prepare a feast for me in the presence of my enemies. You honor me by anointing my head with oil. My cup overflows with blessings.

When they arrived at the campsite, the children were surprised to see a large white tent set up. Inside the tent were  tables set up with lots and lots of food. Johnny saw a large plate of oatmeal raisin cookies and began to run. Then he saw Mrs. Johnson, Susie’s mom and his mom and dad and all the other parents of the kids in the class. Everyone sat down to a large meal with all their friends and families and had a wonderful time.

Psa 23:6  Surely Your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will live in the house of the LORD forever.

When everyone was done eating, Mr. Christopherson stood up and said, “All of this was arranged as part of our lesson on Psalm 23. I wanted you all to know that Jesus is your good shepherd and cares for you all the time where ever you are. No matter what. If anyone wants to harm you, they have to go through Him. I  set all of this up with your parents. The weird noises in the scary place were set up by some of the dad’s. You were never in any danger whatsoever. You were surrounded at all times by people who love you and care for you. But, God cares for you even more than we do. That is our lesson for the day.

God Cares for Me – Part Two

After walking for another half hour, Mr. Christopherson stopped and said “OK guys, let’s take break. Find a place to sit  down. I have some special energy bars in my backpack that will help you feel better and stronger for the rest of the trip. Get out the ”

He asked a few of the kids to help him to pass them out while everyone also got out their bottles of water to drink.

Andrea and Susie were really hungry, finished their bars quickly and decided to do a little exploring while everyone else was finishing their food. Andrea noticed that the trail branched off into two trails. One went up the side of the valley into the sunshine. The other trail stayed beside the stream and led into an area with a lot of really big trees that looked kind of dark and scary.

“Which way do you think we should go, girls?” Mr. Christopherson asked from behind them.

Susie was somewhat startled by the question as they did not know that Mr. Christopherson had come up behind them.

Susie thought for a second and asked “Which way is the safest way to get where we are going to?”

“Only one way gets us to our campsite. But, which way would you choose? The bright and sunny one or the one that looks dark and gloomy?”

“Umm…”

“I could just take a vote of all the boys and girls that are along today, some would go one way, some another. But only one way gets us to our goal, and I will not let you go the wrong way. It’s my job to get you to the campsite safely, and that is the way we will go.”

“That probably means that it’s the way that looks dark and gloomy.” said Andrea.

“That’s right,” responded Mr. Christopherson “but I know the way through there to the other side. Also, I will be there to protect you and calm your fears. You can call on me anytime, and I will answer you.”

Susie looked up at Mr. Christopherson thoughtfully for a moment and then asked, “Why?”

“Why what?”

“Why are so determined to keep us safe and to get us to our campsite safely? What if we run into a bear or a mountain lion or something?”

“When I accepted the job as your teacher and the responsibility of taking you on this trip, I agreed to be your shepherd. I agreed to guard you with my life. I do that to honor God.”

Psa 23:4  Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for You are close beside me. Your rod and Your staff protect and comfort me.