The Story of Esther – Part 6 – Conclusion

King:                           Queen Esther we have eaten your excellent food for two days now, what is it that you request from me? I will give you anything that you request up to half of my kingdom!

Esther:                        (With her heart beating so loudly in her chest that she was afraid that the king might hear it.) If I have found favor with you, my king, and, if it pleases your majesty, please grant me my life. This is my request. Also, that you spare my people, this also is my request. For I and my people have been condemned to horrible punishment and…and…I can‘t even say it! If we had just been sold like fruits and vegetables in the market, I would have kept quiet and not disturbed the king. But, that is not the case . . .

King:                           Who is he, where is he that would do such a thing???

Esther:                        (Standing and pointing at Haman) Here he is, your majesty, the foul villain Haman!!

Esther accusing Haman

Mr. Mathisen:             Now Haman nearly choked on a bit of bread that he was eating and began to sputter food all over himself and the table. He was suddenly more frightened than he had ever been in his whole life. He did not know what to do. He did not know, nor would he have ever guessed that this lovely young queen was a Jew! How could he have known?

The king got up and walked quickly to a nearby garden to think. While he was gone, Haman went up to the queen and began groveling at her feet, pleading for his life. Just as he was doing that the king came back in and found him on the floor clutching at the queen’s feet whimpering for his life. The king thought that Haman was attacking the queen. The king called his servants and ordered Haman to be taken away. Another of the kings servants told the king that Haman had built a huge device in front of his home to punish Mordecai the Jew. The king then ordered that Haman be punished on the very device that he had prepared for Mordecai.

Haman being led to the gallows

Esther explained the whole story to the king. The king then sent for Mordecai and gave him his royal signet ring and appointed him to Haman’s old job. Esther and Mordecai then explained to the king about the proclamation and asked that the king issue a new proclamation saying that the Jews in the country could defend themselves from others that tried to harm them. He did so and on the day appointed the Jews all over the country assembled together to defend themselves. That day is remembered by Jews today as the feast of Purim.

So, always remember to be strong and very courageous and never be afraid to do the right thing.

Stanley:                       Boy! That was some story. Queen Esther sure was brave, even if she was a girl.

Mr. Mathisen:             Stanley, girls can be just as brave as boys. Remember it God who makes us really brave. We can’t be very brave at all without Him. Well, boys and girls, what do you think???

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The Promises of God with Stanley – Part 1

Stanley:                       Two hundred twenty-one, two hundred twenty-two, two hundred twenty-three…

Mr. Mathisen:             Stanley?

Stanley:                       Two hundred twenty-four, two hundred twenty-five, two hundred twenty-six…

Mr. Mathisen:             Stanley?

Stanley:                       Two hundred twenty-seven….

Mr. Mathisen:             Stanley, what are you doing? What are you counting?

Stanley:                       Two hundred twenty eight….huh? Oh, I’m counting the promises that God has for us in the Bible.

Mr. Mathisen:             Stanley, do you want me to just tell you how many there are?

Stanley:                       Two hundred twenty eight….huh? Do mean that you already know?

Mr. Mathisen:             I know about how many there are. Would you like to know?

Stanley:                       Would I like to know? You bet! How many are there?

Mr. Mathisen:             I looked it up, and there are more than three thousand promises that God makes to His people in the Bible. Isn’t that fantastic?

Stanley:                       Wow! And I was only up to two hundred twenty-eight! Can you tell us about them? I’m sure that the girls and boys would like to know too.

Mr. Mathisen:             Sure, let’s start with two basic promises. The first one is found in the book of Isaiah chapter 41 verse 13.

For I hold you by your right hand—I, the LORD your God. And I say to you, ‘Don’t be afraid. I am here to help you.  (Isa 41:13)

Stanley:                       Wow! Does that mean God is right here, right now, ready to help us?

Mr. Mathisen;             Yes, Stanley that’s exactly what it means. There is another verse that talks about what Jesus said. It’s in a book called Hebrews chapter 13 verse 6. It says:

So we can say with confidence, “The LORD is my helper so that I will have no fear.”  (Heb 13:6a)

And in another verse Jesus says:

“I will never leave you or abandon you.”  (Heb 13:5b)

Stanley:                       Wow! That does mean God is right here, right now, ready to help us!

Mr. Mathisen;             You know, I know a couple of stories that talk about that. Would you like to hear them?

Stanley:                       You bet. I bet I know one too.

Mr. Mathisen:             Would you like to tell your story first?

Stanley:                       No, I want to hear yours first.

Mr. Mathisen:             Okay, remember the time when Gideon was asked by God to fight the Midianites, but God would only let him have 300 soldiers to fight 32,000  Midianites? They didn’t even have to fight. Gideon and his men startled the sleeping Midianites with horns and lamps and the Midianites beat themselves and then they ran away! How cool was that?

Creation – Part 3

Mr. Mathisen:             Well Stanley, it says here that:  “And God said, “Let there be space between the waters, to separate water from water.” And so it was. God made this space to separate the waters above from the waters below. And God called the space “sky.” This happened on the second day.

Stanley:                       There He goes separating stuff again. God seems to be really good at that. I sure am glad that the water is below the sky.

Mr. Mathisen:             Why Stanley?

Stanley:                       Because, I wouldn’t want all that water to fall on me.

Mr. Mathisen:             (Laughing) Oh, Stanley… Let’s see what happens next. 9 And God said, “Let the waters beneath the sky be gathered into one place so dry ground may appear.” And so it was. 10 God named the dry ground “land” and the water “seas.” And God saw that it was good.

You see Stanley, there is that good thing again. Let’s continue.

11 Then God said, “Let the land burst forth with every sort of grass and seed-bearing plant. And let there be trees that grow seed-bearing fruit. The seeds will then produce the kinds of plants and trees from which they came.” And so it was. 12 The land was filled with seed-bearing plants and trees, and their seeds produced plants and trees of like kind. And God saw that it was good. 13 This all happened on the third day.

Stanley:                      Whew! I’m getting tired just listening to all of this. God is doing a lot of cool stuff! But, Mr. Mathisen, I thought that God made people first. Aren’t we His favorites?

Mr. Mathisen:             Well, that’s a good question Stanley. Does your Mom call you for dinner before she cooks it?

Stanley:                       No…

Mr. Mathisen:             That’s because she wants to get it all ready for you first. That’s what God is doing here. He is getting the world ready for us. I’d say that was pretty smart and shows how much He loves us.

Stanley:                       That’s cool, but, if He loves us so much why did He create weeds? My mom makes me pull weeds sometimes and it’s really hard work and sometimes I can’t tell the weeds from the stuff that’s supposed to be there….

Mr. Mathisen:             I don’t think that this is where the weeds came from. I think that the weeds showed up after Adam and Eve sinned and had to leave the Garden of Eden. Weeds are a lot like sin. You don’t want any weeds in your garden, and you don’t want any sin in your life. That is why we need Jesus as our saviour. When He comes into our heart, He helps us to not sin. In a way, He helps to keep the weeds of sin out of our life. Does that help Stanley?

Stanley:                       Hey! That’s pretty smart, what happens next? This is getting really interesting!!

Mr. Mathisen:             Well, let’s see. Where were we? Oh yes, let’s pick up with verse 14.

14 And God said, “Let bright lights appear in the sky to separate the day from the night.

Stanley:                       (Interrupting) There He goes separating stuff again.

Mr. Mathisen:             They will be signs to mark off the seasons, the days, and the years. 15 Let their light shine down upon the earth.” And so it was. 16 For God made two great lights, the sun and the moon, to shine down upon the earth. The greater one, the sun, presides during the day; the lesser one, the moon, presides through the night. He also made the stars. 17 God set these lights in the heavens to light the earth, 18 to govern the day and the night, and to separate the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good. 19 This all happened on the fourth day.

Mr. Mathisen:             Stanley, what do you think that all of that meant?

Stanley:           Wow!

God Knows Me – Conclusion

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?

Stanley:                    Well, yeah. Is there another way that God can know me better?

Mr. Mathisen:          Sure, remember when you were asking if God was watching you from behind a bush or with a camera?

Stanley:                    Yeah, was I right? Is He really doing that?

Mr. Mathisen:          No, not exactly, listen to another part of that Psalm.

O LORD, You have examined my heart and know everything about me.

Stanley:                    What? He looked at my heart?

Mr. Mathisen:          You know when I sit down or stand up.

You know my thoughts even when I’m far away.

Stanley:                    Has He got a big telescope?

Mr. Mathisen:          You see me when I travel and when I rest at home.

You know everything I do.

Stanley:                    Wait a minute, wait a minute, WAIT A MINUTE!!!!

Mr. Mathisen:           Yes, Stanley?

Stanley:                    Do you mean that God knows everything? He knows everything I do,  everything I think, everything I’ve ever done or thought?

Mr. Mathisen:          Yup! Listen to the rest of this.

You know what I am going to say even before I say it, LORD.

You go before me and follow me.

You place Your hand of blessing on my head.

Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too great for me to understand! (Psalm 139:1-6)

How about all that Stanley? God knows you better than anyone in the whole world, He made you different from everybody else. He loves you in a special way that He reserves for just you.

You see Stanley, God is not watching you because He’s nosy. He watches you because He loves you so very much and wants to keep an eye on you.

Stanley:                    Wow! I feel really special!

Mr. Mathisen:          You are special, Stanley. Another way to say that is that you were “fearfully and wonderfully made”. All of you children and all of us teachers were “fearfully and wonderfully made. God took the same care in making all of us. He watches over all of us. He knows us all better than anyone else does, AND He loves us better than anyone else does. What a wonderful God we have!

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?

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.

Abram Goes to War – Part 5

Abram’s small army was highly organized and seemed to move as a single entity. With his leg throbbing again, Kenan could barely keep up with them. But, he was determined not to be left behind. He fell into the last row of marching soldiers and managed to keep pace with them.

After a two-day march, they caught up with King Kedorlaomer’s army at Dan where they had stopped for the night and made camp. It was clear that the king was unaware he was being chased. They had set no sentries. They were not expecting another fight.

After assessing the situation, Abram went away for a short while to pray and to consult with the Lord about his next move. Kenan took note of the fact that Abram seemed to confer with his God a lot. Every time he did that he returned full of confidence that he was about to do the right thing. Kenan had never seen anyone be that way before. His respect for Abram and for Abram’s God was growing.

Abram divided his men into two groups; Kenan was assigned to the group that he had marched with. Abram himself commanded that group. He assigned the two groups to positions opposite each other on the hills above King Kedorlaomer’s camp.

As Kenan stood with his group waiting for Abram’s signal he began to be overcome with fear. “The last time I went into a battle, I was hurt and left for dead. I’m not really sure I want to go through that again,” he thought to himself. “Wait a minute! Since that time, I have tried praying to Abram’s God and I have been helped each time. I’m going to try that again.”

Kenan looked up into the night sky and said silently, “Lord God of Abram, please protect me during this battle. Please give us victory over our enemies and help us to rescue my master Lot and his family. Thank you for listening to me. Help me to become your servant like Abram.”

Kenan felt a surge of strength and confidence. He smiled, gripped his sword and waited for the signal.

When Abram gave the signal, they attacked the king and his army from opposite sides. They yelled for all they were worth and that noise seemed to echo and get louder in the little valley.

Kenan raced down the hill with his unit. Abram’s men were shouting “For Abram and his God!”

Although the night was clear, they caught the enemy completely by surprise. The unprepared soldiers of the king were running around in circles, fighting each other and amazingly, their vastly superior force ran away from the fight. They abandoned their camp, livestock, plunder from Sodom and the captives.

Abram left a few men to guard this camp, but took the main force to chase after the King Kedorlaomer’s army. They chased them all the way to Damascus where the kings finally surrendered.

After Abram and his fighting men returned from the battle, there was a grand re-union between Lot, his family, and Abram. Lot asked Abram why he came after them and how they knew where to find them. Abram called for Kenan and presented him as the hero of the day to Lot and his family. Lot thanked him, but immediately turned his attention to locating his household goods and his personal gods from among the plunder.

Kenan felt like Lot considered him as nothing. He turned away from the family that he had done so much to save and found a place away from the rest and sat by himself.

The rich voice of Abram cut through Kenan’s sadness. “Mind if I sit with you awhile son?”

Kenan looked up to see Abram standing there, looking at him. “No, my lord, please be seated. I was just doing some thinking.”

“I could see that. My nephew seems to be more disappointed in his things than his people. I’ll bet you were expecting more thanks than you got.”

“Well, no…it’s just that I…I…I think that I’m really tired.”

“All right, if that’s true. I’ll just leave you to your thinking. But remember this, I can tell that you have been watching me. I can sense also that you have been testing the Lord and find Him to be faithful. I can tell you this. Place your faith in Him. There is a little saying that I learned from my father and I will pass it on to you if you want to hear it.”

Kenan looked deep into the man’s eyes, “Yes sir, what is it?”

Abram simply smiled and said, “God is faithful, just you wait and see.”