The Story of Esther – Part 4

Haman:                       Your most exalted majesty, are you aware that there is a certain group of people scattered throughout your lands that do not follow your laws? They only follow their own laws and their laws are contrary to your laws. This is not good for your kingdom. I think that you should declare a law (of the Medes & Persians that can never be broken) that these awful, terrible, despicable people should be punished and removed from your kingdom. (Now remember that Haman did not know that Queen Esther was Mordecai’s cousin and a Jew herself.)

haman talking to king

Stanley:                     That’s horrible! He didn’t get away with that did he?

Mr. Mathisen:             Actually, Stanley, he did. The king did not know who these people were and just believed whatever Haman told him (a very dangerous thing to do). He had no idea that it would mean that someone would kill his own queen and the man that had saved his life. So, the king signed the new law (of the Medes & Persians that could never be broken), and Haman left with the proclamation a very happy man. The new law said that on a certain day all of the Jews in the whole country were to be punished and their property taken. He sent copies of the new law that the local rulers in every area of the country.

Now, when Mordecai found out about this new law he did the same as the other Jews, he ripped his robes, put on sackcloth and poured ashes all over himself and went up and down the street moaning and wailing. (By the way so did Jews all over the country when the news became known. They ripped their clothes, put ashes on themselves, put on sackcloth and mourned loudly in the streets…oh, what a noise they made!)

Mordecai could not go through the King’s gate this way so, he didn‘t visit with Esther for several days. She  became concerned when she did not hear from or see him for several days. She did not know about the new law and was just worried about her cousin. Finally, a servant told her what Mordecai was doing, and she sent a servant to bring him new clothes and to find out what was bothering him. He sent the clothes back to Esther with a message telling her what was wrong and sent a copy of the new law. He also told the servant to ask Esther to go to the king about the new law.

Esther sent back a message saying that the king had not called to see her for several weeks and if she went to see the king without him asking to see her…the punishment was….well…it was too horrible to say.

Stanley:                       Now THAT girl was in a pickle! I’m glad it wasn’t me!!

Mr. Mathisen:              You’re sure right, Stanley. But listen up because here’s what happens next: Mordecai sent her a message back saying that the fate of all of her people and her own life as well was up to her. He said in the message: “Perhaps, just perhaps, God put you in this position just for such a time as this. Be strong and very courageous!”

The Story of Esther – Part 3

At the palace, she was given the finest clothing, the most expensive beauty treatments and the best food in all the land. She was soon kept so busy every day with new activities that she forgot that this was all designed to make her even more beautiful to the king. They must have worked because, as soon as the king saw Esther, he seemed to forget all the other young women and made her his queen. Queen Esther of Persia! Esther was excited, proud and frightened all at once, but remembered what Mordecai had told her about being strong and courageous. When she remembered that, she prayed to the Lord for strength and felt much better.

Now, Mordecai went on with his duties as the gatekeeper at the King’s Gate to the city. He thought about Esther every day and would often walk by the palace to see if he could catch a glimpse of her. Soon they discovered that they could send messages to each other by way of her servants, and Mordecai also would visit her window occasionally and continued to encourage Esther in her new life.

One day at the gate, Mordecai heard some men talking about a plan to kill the king…

Mordecai-at-the-Gate-overhearing-the-plot

Ali:                              We got the WORD Abdul! We got a dozen of the kings own guards in on it with us, and we’re gonna do it TONIGHT!

Abdul:                         Are you sure about everything, Ali? We don’t want no slip-ups. Are you sure we can count on them guards?

Ali:                              Yeah, it’s gonna be a cinch! The high prince that’s planning this thing has left nothing to chance. He’s got it all planned down to the last detail. We’re gonna be rollin’ in gold!

Abdul:                         Yeah, I can feel it in my hands already. HA HA HA HA…..

Mr. Mathisen:             Now Mordecai sent a hurried message to Esther and told her all about what he had heard. She sent a servant to the King saying that “Mordecai the Jew overheard a plot on the king’s life”. The king investigated the plot and stopped the plotters in their tracks. Mordecai had saved the life of the king. But…the king forgot…and the whole incident was soon forgotten. And, no one suspected the Queen Esther was Mordecai’s cousin or that she was herself a Jew.

Now one of the King’s highest advisors was an evil man named Haman. Haman was a very proud man and demanded that everyone bow to him whenever he walked by. He would go through the King’s Gate and demand that everyone bow to him as he went through it. Everyone did, that is, except for Mordecai. You see, as a Jew, Mordecai would bow to no one except God. Everyone else saw that and that made Haman really mad. And, because Mordecai would not bow to him, Haman began to try to think of a way to get back at Mordecai for embarrassing him. After thinking for awhile, Haman decided to not only get even with Mordecai but with all of the Jews in the whole land. One day he went to go see the king…

Bring the Children to Me With Stanley

Mr. Mathisen:             Boys and girls, this morning we are going to meet Jesus. Do you like that idea, Stanley…Stanley?

Stanley:                       Huh? I’m sorry I was pretending to be pirate. Ahhrrrggghhhh! Where’s my sword, matey?

Mr. Mathisen:             Stanley, don’t you want to meet Jesus?

Stanley:                       Sure, sure, right after I capture that ship with all the doubloons.

Mr. Mathisen:             Hang on there, buddy. You can pretend to be a pirate another time, right now let’s focus on being in Sunday school with a story to tell.

Stanley:                       Oh ok. What do I get to do?

Mr. Mathisen:             Thank you. This morning we are going to learn about a time when Jesus was sitting outside in a town east of the Jordan River in the area where the tribe of Manasseh lived.

Stanley:                       Tribe? Were they Indians?

Mr. Mathisen:             No, they were…well, we’ll talk about that at another time. Let’s just say that some of the people of Israel lived over there, and Jesus went to preach to them. So let’s pretend that we are back there, and we want to go visit with Jesus.

We can pretend that it is a warm day, and Jesus is sitting on a bench under a tree and he is surrounded by people.

Do you want to go over and visit with Him?

Stanley:                       Nope.

Mr. Mathisen:             You don’t? Why not?

Stanley:                       I don’t want to.

Mr. Mathisen:             Why? Are you afraid?

Stanley:                       Well, yeah, kind of. He’s so big.

Mr. Mathisen:             But, every grown up is big compared to you.

Stanley:                       Not Zaccheus.

Mr. Mathisen:             No, not Zaccheus. But, does Jesus look mean or scary?

Stanley:                       No, not really.

Mr. Mathisen:             Well, how about if I go with you? I’ll stay right with you.

Stanley:                       Can I hide behind you if I get scared?

Mr. Mathisen:             Sure, let’s go over there now.

Stanley:                       Wait! Those other big men are chasing all the kids away. I’m scared! I don’t wanna go over there now.

Mr. Mathisen:             Stanley, you’re right. But look now, Jesus is telling those men to stop doing that. I think those were His followers, but He wants to see the children.

Stanley:                       You’re right!  Look, He’s picking some kids up and putting them on His lap. I’m going over there now! Bye…

jesus_w_children

Mr. Mathisen:             Stanley, wait for me! Oh, never mind. You’re in good hands.

The Story of When Jesus Calls Peter – Conclusion

Stanley:                      Wait a minute the boat is tipping over! I’m gonna drown. We’re all gonna die!

Mr. Mathisen:          Stanley, you are not going to drown, and we are not all gonna die. Pay attention to what’s going on. Peter is calling to those friends of his with that other boat. They are coming to help us with this huge catch of fish.

Peters net overflowing

Stanley:                      Maybe we can have fish and chips for lunch then.

Mr. Mathisen:          Stanley! Pay attention this is important stuff going on here. We’re with Jesus and Peter. Look the other boat is here, and the two boats are hauling the fish in.

Stanley:                      I’ve never seen so many fish in one place in my life. Uh oh! The boat is getting so full of fish that…that. We’re gonna sink! I’m gonna drown. We’re all gonna die!

Mr. Mathisen:          Stanley! Will you stop that? Listen Peter is talking to Jesus. Now he’s gotten down on his knees right here in the boat.

Peter:                         Oh, Lord, please leave me—I’m too much of a sinner to be around You.

Mr. Mathisen:          Did you hear that Stanley? Listen! Jesus is answering him.

Jesus:                         Don’t be afraid! From now on you’ll be fishing for people!

Stanley:                      Look! We’re almost back to the shore. All those other fishermen are coming to help with all these fish!

Mr. Mathisen:          We better get out of the boat and keep out of the way Stanley. Here we are, it’s much better up here on the beach a little ways.

Stanley:                      Can I keep this fish that got into my pocket? I bet my mom can cook it up really good!

Mr. Mathisen:          No Stanley. It doesn’t belong to us. Let’s go back down to where they are spreading the fish out on the beach and put it in with the rest. Wait a minute, Peter and his friends are leaving all these fish and their boats and following Jesus.

Stanley:                      Wow! That’s right. Where are they going? Wait is that Jesus talking again?

Mr. Mathisen:          Yes. I can just make it out He is saying. “Don’t be afraid! From now on you’ll be fishing for people!” Wow! It looks like choosing to obey Jesus really changed Peter’s life.

Fisher of men

Stanley:                      It sure did. Look at all these fish! They are just walking away from them. I’ll bet they never did that before.

Mr. Mathisen:          Stanley, I think that Peter and his friends James and John are going to find themselves doing a lot of things that they never did before, just because they decided to obey Jesus. Sometimes Jesus asks us to do things that may not make much sense, at first. But we need to obey Him anyway because He is God, and He knows what is best for us. You boys and girls need to do the same thing. Obey Jesus and obey your parents and teachers.

The Story of When Jesus Calls Peter – Part 2

Stanley:                       Wait a minute that man is walking backwards!

Mr. Mathisen:             That’s right Stanley. Those people keep crowding in on him and he has to walk backwards to keep from getting trampled by them. Look! He’s turned around and is talking to Peter.

Stanley:                       What’s he saying; I can’t hear over the noise of the crowd?

Mr. Mathisen:             I’m not sure but now he’s getting into one of those boats and he’s talking to that big man. Wait! That must be Peter. Let’s run over and listen.

Stanley:                       Um, OK. You run. I left my legs at home.

Mr. Mathisen:             Oh, Stanley. (Make running sounds) Ok, here we are at the boat. You know I think that we can squeeze into the back of the boat and see and hear everything that goes on. In we go, let’s jump!

Stanley:                       Wait a minute! You landed on me!

Mr. Mathisen:             I did not. Wait a minute! That man is Jesus. This is Peter’s boat and Jesus is asking Peter to push the boat out into the water so that He can continue to preach but not get trampled.

Stanley:                       You know, Peter didn’t look to happy about this to begin with, but he just looked at Jesus for a minute and his whole face changed. Now he’s happy to help. Wow! Talking with Jesus changed his mind!

Mr. Mathisen:             You sure are right Stanley. Peter didn’t want to obey at first, but looking at Jesus and hearing Him ask changed the way that Peter was acting. Now he seems to be really happy to help! And now we can sit in the boat and listen to Jesus teach the people too. Right, Stanley?  Stanley? Stanley, what are you doing?

Jesus-Teaching-From-Simons-Boat

Stanley:                       Vroom! Vroom! Vrooooooom! Huh? Oh, I was playing motor boat with my hand in the water.

Mr. Mathisen:             Shhh! Jesus is done teaching the crowd now and He’s asking Peter to move the boat out into deeper waters. Listen to what he is saying.

Jesus:                          “Now go out where it is deeper, and let down your nets to catch some fish.”

Peter:                          “Master, we worked hard all last night and didn’t catch a thing. But if You say so, I’ll let the nets down again.”

Mr. Mathisen:          Look, Stanley. We’re going out farther into the lake. They’re putting their nets down. Whoa! They caught something already!

Stanley:                      Wait a minute the boat is tipping over! I’m gonna drown. We’re all gonna die!

The Story of When Jesus Calls Peter – Part 1

Mr. Mathisen:             Boys and girls, this morning we are going to tell the story of when Jesus calls the Apostle Peter. Who can tell me who Peter was?

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

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

Stanley:                       Sure, sure, he was the cut off the guy’s ear in the garden when the soldiers were arresting Jesus.

Mr. Mathisen:             Well, that is true but we are going to talk about another time before Peter was a follower of Jesus. Do you know what Peter did before he was an apostle?

Stanley:                       Umm…..was he a carpenter?

Mr. Mathisen:             No…does anyone else know what Peter did before he was an apostle?

Stanley:                       Wait! Don’t I get another guess?

Mr. Mathisen:             Okay, go ahead and try again.

Stanley:                       Ummm…was he a mailman?

Mr. Mathisen:             No, Stanley he was not a mailman. Let me give you a hint.

Stanley:                       Ok, I like hints.

Mr. Mathisen:             When today’s story starts, he is on the beach cleaning some fish nets.

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

Mr. Mathisen:             Ok, what was he?

Stanley:                       He was a fisherman!

Mr. Mathisen:             Very good Stanley. For today’s story, let’s go for a walk on the beach, and then maybe we’ll go for ride in Peter’s boat.

Stanley:                       Are we going to have another storm? I don’t like storms when I’m on a boat. I get sort of sick to my stomach.

Mr. Mathisen:             Oh don’t worry about that today. There won’t be any storms in this story. So let’s pretend that we’re walking on the beach of the Sea of Galilee. It’s a bright, sunny day, and we can see Peter and his friends with all their nets laid out on the beach so that they can dry them, clean them and fix any tears in them.

come-follow-me

Stanley:                       Boy, I can sure smell that wonderful sea air. I can hear seagulls and look there’s a big crowd down there on the beach, and it’s headed this way.

Mr. Mathisen:             You’re right Stanley. All those people are listening to that man, and he is headed this way.

Stanley:                       Wait a minute that man is walking backwards!

The Story of When Jesus Calmed the Sea – Part 2

Stanley:                       Oh boy, a boat ride!!! I can’t wait!! Can we water ski too???

Mr. Mathisen:             (Laughing) No, Stanley, it’s not that kind of boat. It was a probably the kind of boat that Peter and John fished from. It had no motor. It had a sail, and they could use oars to get it moving. It was also big enough to hold them all because it was built to hold a lot of fish. Let’s return now to those thrilling days of yesteryear and…well…let’s go with them now. Come on…Jesus is very tired from being with the people all day and is eager to get away, I heard Peter say that we were going to take a little ride across the lake and spend the night at the home of some friends on the other side.

As we get into the boat, there is just enough room in the bow (front) for us to sit down at this end away from the others and be out of the way. Jesus is sitting in the stern (back) on a cushion where there is a little room looking out across the lake. He seems to be praying. It’s wonderful to be with Him. Can you smell the water, Stanley? Isn’t it great!

(Begin swaying like on a boat.)

Stanley:                       Yeah, but, the boat is moving a lot, and I don’t think I feel so good.

Mr. Mathisen:             Would like to go back to your box & rest?

Stanley:                       What? Huh? Do I want to go back in the box? No way!! I’ll…be…alright. Do you see those dark clouds over there? It’s getting cold too. I hope we don’t have a storm? Uh…did you bring my raincoat?

Mr. Mathisen:             No Stanley, I didn’t. Hey, I just noticed that Jesus is taking a little nap and Peter is passing around some dried, smoked fish to eat. Mmmm, Stanley, you have got to try this fish! It is so GOOD! It’s better than the smoked salmon that we get at the Pike Place Market. (Stanley mumbles something) Hmm? What did you say?

Stanley:                       Oh, I’m sorry. I said I didn’t want anything to eat, my stomach is still not so good,

(large lurch, then back to hard swaying)

Whoa! Did you feel that? Something is definitely wrong with this boat and WOAH! Look at that sky, it is almost dark as nighttime, and that wind is getting colder and stronger all the time.

Mr. Mathisen:             I think that you are right Stanley. This boat is pitching around really badly. The waves are getting so high that we are getting water in the boat.

Stanley:                       Aaaahhhhh!! I’m getting wet!!!

The Promises of God with Stanley – Conclusion

Mr. Mathisen:             I’m glad you weren’t hurt very badly.

Stanley:                       I was more scared than hurt. I mean I landed pretty hard, but I thought for a minute there that I was gonna die.

Well, I looked around to see where I was 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:             I’ll bet you were pretty scared Stanley. I would have been.

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

Mr. Mathisen:             And then what?

Stanley:                       Well, I sang 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 & 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:             Wow! That was a great story. Thanks, Stanley.

So boys and girls, remember we were talking about just two of God’s 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:                       And that means God is right here, right now, ready to help us.

Mr. Mathisen;             Yes, Stanley that’s exactly what it means. The other verse was

“The LORD is my helper, so I will have no fear.”  (Heb 13:6a)

And remember that Jesus said:

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

The Promises of God with Stanley – Part 2

Stanley:                       Oh yes! How about David when he had to face the giant Goliath?

Mr. Mathisen:             That is good, Stanley. Let’s see what was David doing before that?

Stanley:                       Wasn’t he a shepherd?

Mr. Mathisen:             Yes, all of David’s older brothers were fighting in the army while David was back home taking care of the sheep.

Stanley:                       That must have been boring.

Mr. Mathisen:             Not really, you see sometimes David had to fight off lions and…

Stanley:                       Lions and tigers and bears?

Mr. Mathisen:             Almost, it was just lions and bears. You see, sometimes a lion would try to capture one of the sheep and David would have to go whack the lion and get the lamb back from him. Sometimes he had to kill the lion. Other times he had to fight off a hungry bear. But you see, lot’s of people would think about what mighty warriors they were if they could do that, but David knew that it was God that was helping him. He knew that God was giving him the courage and the strength to fight them off, and that is a pretty important thing to know.

His father asked him to go to the battlefield to take some food to his brothers and to see how they were doing.

As David arrives at the battle camp, the Israelites and Philistines are lined up on opposite sides of the valley hurling sticks and stones and insults at each other. On the Philistine side Goliath, a giant twelve feet tall, is lined up in the middle of their line. He is yelling something at the Israelites. “I have put the armies of Israel to shame this day. Send your champion out to fight me. If I win, you will become our slaves. If your champion wins, we will become your slaves.” Then all of the Philistines yelled insults at the Israelites. Goliath then said very loudly, “I think that you all are a bunch of cowards and your God is a fake!”

When David heard that, he became very angry. He knew that his God was not a fake. David had spent many hours in prayer while he was with the sheep. God had given him courage and strength to fight wild animals. God was not a fake.

David went immediately to where his brothers were to deliver the food. He could see that they were afraid of Goliath.

Goliath stepped out and yelled again, “I think that you all are a bunch of cowards, and your God is a fake!”

This made David even madder, and he asked “who is this Philistine, that he has put shame on the armies of the living God?”

David went to King Saul and asked permission to fight Goliath. King Saul gave David his own armor to wear in the battle against him. But, when David put it on, it was way too large and kept him from moving around, so he took it off. He said to the king, I am not used to fighting in all this armor. God will protect me as He always has.

So David, wearing his normal shepherd clothes took his walking stick and stopped to pick up five small round smooth stones from the bed of the stream that ran through the valley.

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?