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90 Devotions for Kids, Volume 2
By MARSHAL YOUNGER, KATHY BUCHANAN, Marianne Hering
Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.Copyright © 2014 Focus on the Family
All rights reserved.
One Messy Family Tree
Read Matthew 1:1–17.
Wally Haggler wants to do what is right. But sometimes he thinks he can't, because his family is full of convicted criminals. In the Adventures in Odyssey episode "The Green Ring Conspiracy, Part I" (album 53), Wally learns that even though he can't control the actions of his relatives, he can choose to take charge of his life and do good things.
Wally isn't the only one with a family full of unsavory and shady characters. Even Jesus had some shady characters in His family. Today's Scripture passage contains a record of Jesus' ancestors. It's more than a list of funny names that are difficult to pronounce. God put that list in the Bible because He wanted to show us something important about Jesus' ancestors.
All the people on that list played a part in many Old Testament stories. Some of these people were heroes, and some were disappointments. Some were good and honorable. Others were known for lying, cheating, disobeying God, and even committing murder.
It makes you wonder why God would want His perfect Son to come from a family tree with rotten branches. Wouldn't God want Jesus' family to be filled with perfect people who were known for doing wonderful things?
But that's not the way God works. He uses imperfect people to carry out His purposes in the world. He also brings good from bad situations. Jesus came in all His goodness and glory to bring hope to a messy world—starting with a messy manger in a messy stable.
Jesus' lineage shows us that God can do amazing things, no matter what. He can use far-from-perfect people to make His perfect plans come about.
Ask your parents to tell you stories about your grandparents or even your great-grandparents. Talk about what you can learn from the wise choices and mistakes your relatives have made.CHAPTER 2
A New Name
Read Matthew 1:18–25.
What would you think if you came to school one day, and everyone started calling you the Kid Who Always Has Pizza for Lunch? What if your family called you the Child Who Leaves Her Dirty Socks on the Floor? And your neighborhood friends called you the One Who Always Wants to Go Swimming? What if people named you by the things you do?
You probably would change your behavior so you could be known as the Kid Who Always Gets Good Grades in Math or the One Who Usually Has Kind Words.
Did you know that God has a whole bunch of names in the Bible? Because He is so big and powerful and so many other great things, He can't be fully described by a single name. He's called El Shaddai, which means "God Almighty"; Jehovah Jireh, which means "provider"; Elohim, which means "strong one"; and many other names.
In Matthew 1 we discover a new name for God that was given to His Son, Jesus. Did you see it when you read today's Bible passage? Yep, there it is in verse 23: Immanuel. "God with us." The name Immanuel describes a God who walks with us and knows us personally. It's not like the names for God in the Old Testament. Those make Him sound a little scary because He's so powerful and so far above us.
Jesus came to earth as Immanuel—God with us. He ate and drank with the poor and with people who were outcasts. He laughed heartily as He sat around telling His disciples stories. He shed tears when He saw someone in pain. He felt loneliness and fear and pain. Jesus walked alongside people and felt their feelings. He showed that God loves us and wants a relationship with us.
In the Odyssey adventure "Back to Bethlehem, Part 1" (album 10), Connie and Eugene witness the birth of Jesus when they travel to the Holy Land in the Imagination Station. They see for themselves that Jesus is born into a common life, and that His parents are ordinary people. His humble life on earth is a far cry from His royal home in heaven. But coming to earth as a human doesn't change who Jesus has always been. He is still the all-knowing, all-powerful Creator and King of the universe.
The people of Jesus' time couldn't grasp that God chose to come to earth in human form so that He could walk among us. We can now call Jesus the Amazing God Who Came to Earth to Love Ordinary People Like You and Me!
In what ways is Jesus Immanuel, "God with us," in your daily life? How is He with you at school? When you're doing chores? When you're at a baseball game? What special name could you give to Jesus that captures how much you appreciate His closeness to you?CHAPTER 3
What to Get the God Who Has Everything
Read Matthew 2:1–12.
Gold. Frankincense. Myrrh.
These seem like strange gifts for a baby, don't they? Why didn't the wise men bring Jesus a cuddly blanket and a stuffed giraffe instead? But these gifts carried a special meaning and importance, perhaps even more than the wise men themselves realized. Here's why.
Gold was a gift that people in Bible times gave to honor a king. The men from the East recognized Jesus as a child who would one day be a king. The wise men brought Jesus their most precious gifts to honor Him.
Frankincense was a costly, sweet-smelling gum from a tree that people offered as a gift to worship God. Frankincense was burned during Jewish religious services, and the fragrance would fill the temple.
Myrrh was a symbol of bitterness, sorrow, and pain. It was also used to prepare bodies for burial. The wise men couldn't have known how Jesus would die, and yet they brought Him this gift.
Giving the three gifts showed that the wise men honored Jesus as King and worshipped Him as God. These gifts also foreshadowed (gave a hint about the future) that one day Jesus would experience the sorrow and pain of death.
It's harder for us to come up with gift ideas for Jesus. We can't follow a star to heaven or ship Him a package via FedEx. What would we send Him anyway? He owns all the chocolate and music and electronic games in the world already! But there is one gift we can give Him.
Here's a hint: Hebrews 13:15 says, "Let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise." And Psalm 95:2 tells us, "Let us come to him and give him thanks. Let us praise him with music and song" (NIRV).
God loves it when we praise Him for everything He's done.
So let's give Him a gift He'll really appreciate. Send up a King-sized "You're awesome, God!" prayer of praise.
The book of Psalms is filled with poems and songs of praise and thanks to God. Write your own poem or compose a song about Jesus that reveals why He's important to you.
Excerpted from 90 Devotions for Kids, Volume 2 by MARSHAL YOUNGER, KATHY BUCHANAN, Marianne Hering. Copyright © 2014 Focus on the Family. Excerpted by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc..
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