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Streams in the Desert for Kids366 Devotions to Bring Comfort
By L.B. Cowman
ZondervanCopyright © 2009 Zondervan
All right reserved.
Chapter OneGod is in Control
The land ... is a land the Lord your God cares for; the eyes of the Lord your God are continually on it from the beginning of the year to its end. Deuteronomy 11:11-12
Happy New Year! What will your family do today? Do you usually watch the Rose Bowl Parade? Are there any football fans at your house? Perhaps you are one. Do you like to control the TV remote when watching the games and parades today so that you can switch back and forth or stay on the program you like?
Don't we all wish we could be in control, not just of the remote but of everything that happens in our life? We wish we could control our grades. We wish we could control our friends so they would always be good to us. We wish we could control how we play sports so that we could always be in first place. But we can't control very much about our lives because we don't know what's going to happen in the future. The good news is that there is Someone who knows everything. He knows all about what's going to happen, when it will happen, and to whom. That Someone is God.
In the scripture at the beginning of this devotion, we read that the eyes of the Lord God are always on the land. That means God is not only watching over the earth, but he iswatching us. God loves us. Nothing can happen to us without him knowing about it. He cares about us more than we can imagine.
Dear Lord, Thank you that your eyes are always on us and on our land. Please help us to trust you, even when we feel as if everything is out of control. Thank you for loving us so much that you never take your eyes off of us. Amen.
The side rooms all around the temple were wider at each successive level. The structure surrounding the temple was built in ascending stages, so that the rooms widened as one went upward. A stairway went up from the lowest floor to the top floor through the middle floor. Ezekiel 41:7
If you have ever climbed stairs to look out of a high window, you know there can be a lot to see. You discover things from high places that you never see if you stay on the ground. And the higher you go, the better the view.
In Paris, France, -people buy tickets to get to the highest spot around-the top of the Eiffel Tower. From there they can see over buildings, rivers and entire cities. But to get to the top, they have to climb almost 1,700 steps. (If you had 80 floors in your house, you might have 1,700 stairs!) You can imagine how tiring it is to climb all the way to the top. Leg muscles burn. Breathing becomes loud and labored. Many -people have to rest several times. But those who keep trying and keep going get to see farther and wider than anyone who stops halfway.
God invites us to live on the high places, where our lives and our problems can be seen from a heavenly perspective. There are blessings we might never realize if we don't draw nearer to him. But it can be a difficult climb. Praising God in hard times isn't easy. Standing up for what is right instead of what's popular takes courage and strength. Remembering Jesus every day may seem tiring. But if we give up too early, we could miss the grander life God has planned for us.
So keep climbing. The Bible assures us that the view is worth it!
Dear Father, Help me follow your ways so that I can live closer to you. Even though it takes a lot of effort and commitment, I know that's the best place to be. Amen.
God Leads Us Gently
Jacob said to Esau, "I must care for the ewes and cows that are nursing their young. If they are driven hard just one day, all the animals will die.
So let my lord go on ahead ... while I move along slowly at the pace ... of the children. Genesis 33:12,14
Long ago, a man in the Bible named Jacob had a huge family as well as many servants, cattle, sheep, and camels. One day he decided to move the whole lot of them across some of the worst desert terrain in the world to his homeland in Israel. No moving vans or buses here. The -people had to walk. Can you imagine the braying and baaing of the animals? Can you imagine the whining and crying of the babies? It wasn't a very pleasant trip.
The Bible tells us that Jacob realized how young and weak many of the children and animals were. He decided not to force them to go too far in one day. He was gentle with them. That's why he told his brother Esau to go on ahead of him, and he would only go as fast as the youngest and weakest of his tribe could go.
And that's the way God leads us. He takes us tenderly through the hard times in our lives. He is gentle with us, especially when we have failed. Sometimes we get so mad at ourselves when we just can't get it right. So we have to learn to be gentle with ourselves in the same way God is. It's important to treat yourself the way Jacob treated his family ... the way God treats us ... gently.
Dear Lord, Help me to be patient with myself. Help me remember that every day is a new day and you are in it. Lord, I pray for my friends who feel like failures. Help me to help them. Amen.
Finding God's Help
Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. Mark 11:24
Have you ever wanted something so much that you kept begging and begging your parents to get it for you? Perhaps they think you are not quite ready for whatever it is. But you want it so much you keep on bugging them for it. Finally, after a long while, you give up and figure you are never going to get it. You have lost hope. You have lost faith that what you want will ever be yours.
Sometimes the same thing happens when we pray to God. We want something so much that we beg him for it. When God doesn't grant us our request, we think he's not listening. We think he doesn't care. We pray so long and so hard that we pray ourselves right out of faith. But the Bible teaches that God always hears our prayers. Like your parents, he may not think you're ready for whatever you are asking. Or maybe he knows it would not be best for you. Or maybe he fully intends to answer your prayer, but it just isn't the right time.
Now is the time to simply trust God and believe he knows what he's doing. We have to let our prayer rest with him until he is ready to make it happen.
Dear Lord, I believe that you will answer my prayers in your way and your time. Help me to learn what it means to let my prayer rest in your hands. Amen.
Stuck Between a Rock and a Hard Place
Then Asa called to the Lord his God and said, "Lord, there is no one like you to help the powerless against the mighty." 2 Chron-icles 14:11
Talk about being in a tough place! King Asa certainly was. Asa was one of the good guys. He listened to God. He did what he should. Then a huge army of Ethiopians, -people from an African nation, began to gather in preparation for fighting and wiping out King Asa and his country of Judah. Well, Asa wasn't the kind of guy who just sat there waiting for something bad to happen to him. He gathered his own army. He called up 300,000 troops from one part of his country and 280,000 troops from another part of his kingdom. That seems like a lot of soldiers until you realize that the Ethiopians probably had closer to a million soldiers. That means Asa's enemies had nearly twice as many soldiers as he did.
On the day of the battle, King Asa stood with his troops and looked out at the huge army of the enemy. Then he did something we can do when we are facing an impossible problem and there seems to be no way out. He called to God. "Help!" he said. "Lord, there is no one like you to help us. We're depending on you to get us out of this mess. We've come against this vast army in your name. Now please help us!"
And God certainly did help. The enemy was "crushed before the Lord and his forces" (vs. 12). What a wonderful, encouraging story! When we are in the worst place of all our life, we need to call out to God. We need to tell God, and remind ourselves, that God is the one who stands protectively between us and our biggest problems.
Dear Lord, I'm going through a tough time now. I don't know where to turn or what to do. I need you to help me and lead me. You can do what I can't do and protect me from my enemies. I know that you are a God who cares for me. Amen.
Don't Worry, Be Happy
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze, for I am the Lord, your God. Isaiah 43:2-3a
Do you know what a worrywart is? It's someone who worries about everything all the time. He worries about failing a test, even when he's studied. She worries it's going to rain when the sun's shining bright. Worrywarts worry about getting sick, about accidents, about every bad thing they can think of to worry about. But worry is not good for the worrier. Worry can make you sick. There is nothing that can be changed by worrying. And most of what we worry about never happens anyway. The Bible tells us not to be anxious-that means, don't worry.
Bad things do sometimes happen to -people, but God has promised to be with us in the bad times. Corrie ten Boom, a Dutch lady whose family hid and saved Jewish -people during World War II, was frightened and worried that her family might get caught. Her father said to her, "When we are going on a train ride, when do I give you the ticket?" "When we are ready to get on," she answered. "Yes," he told her, "and God will come to help you when you need him and not before." And God did help Corrie when she needed him.
You can choose to worry or choose to trust, and trusting is what God asks his children to do. Jesus said we should let tomorrow take care of itself. That means we can't do anything about what will happen tomorrow, so don't worry about it today (see Matthew 6:34).
Dear Lord, Help me not to worry about things I can't change. Help me to choose to trust you every day of my life. I know you will give me what I need to get through tough times. I'm going to choose to trust a lot more and worry a lot less. Amen.
Happy Just to Be ... Myself
I have learned to be content, whatever the circumstances. Philippians 4:11
Have you ever noticed how easy it is to compare yourself to others? Even if we know better, we look at someone else and think he or she has it better. How many times have you thought: If only I had the right hair or clothes or shape ... If only I were taller or faster or bolder or funnier ...
There's an old story of a king who went to his garden and found everything withered and dying. He asked the oak tree what was wrong. The oak tree said it was sick of living because it was not as tall and beautiful as the pine tree. The pine was dropping needles because it couldn't grow grapes like the grapevine. And the grapevine let itself shrivel up because it couldn't stand straight and tall like the peach tree. Every plant in the garden was discontented and wanted to be something different, except the violet. There it stood with its happy face turned toward the sun. The king asked the little flower why it was so happy and content when every other plant in the garden was so miserable. "Well," said the flower, "I figured that if you had wanted a big oak tree or a pine tree or a peach tree in my spot, you would have planted one; but you planted me-a violet. Since I knew you wanted a violet, I've made up my mind to be the best little violet I can be."
You were made by the almighty Creator with a purpose in mind. Wishing to be anything other than who you are does nothing more than steal your time, energy and joy. But when you see yourself how God does, you realize how great you really are. So you can stop concentrating on other -people and instead focus on your own blessings. Only then will you find you are ready for all the plans and adventures God has for you.
Dear Lord, Help me stop comparing myself to other -people and worrying about the things I think I lack. Thank you for all of the gifts you have given me. Show me how I can best use them for your glory. Amen.
Let it Rain, Let it Pour
I will bless them ... I will send down showers in season; there will be showers of blessing. Ezekiel 34:26
Without water there is no life, and with a tiny amount of water, there is a tiny bit of life. Death Valley is one of the driest places in North America. It gets only about two inches of rain a year, and it gets very hot: in the summer temperatures often rise above 120 degrees. Because of lack of rain and extreme heat, not much grows there. But a few years ago it rained and rained and rained all winter. When spring came every seed that had been lying dormant in the soil came to life and began to grow. Soon the hillsides and valleys were full of desert flowers. There were millions of them. Water and life had come to the desert!
Sometimes our hearts can get dried up. We may feel as dry inside as Death Valley. When that happens, God seems far away. It's easier then to do what we know is wrong. It's easier to be angry. Our souls shrivel up. But God wants to bring life to our souls. He promises showers of blessings. He wants to fill up every dry valley in our life with his living water. And when he does, God will cause good things to grow in our lives. We just have to get to a place where his rain can fall on us. Sometimes that place is beside our bed when we pray. Sometimes it's in church when God comes to us. And sometimes it's when we are alone outdoors that God speaks.
Dear Lord, Please send your showers of blessings to me. Please let good things grow in my life-things that will bless others. Fill up the dry deserts of my life with your love. Amen.
The Reason Why
I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. Romans 8:18
Each year in Grand Rapids, Michigan, the Frederick Meijer Garden has a butterfly exhibit. Part of the garden is a huge glass structure with tropical plants, waterfalls, birds, and, for a short time each spring, thousands of butterflies. When you come into the glass structure from the cold of early March, it's like stepping into a tropical paradise. Butterflies of all shapes, sizes, and colors flutter from feeder to feeder. Off to one side of the indoor garden is a case in which thousands of cocoons are hanging from pins. Some of the cocoons are empty. The butterflies that were once inside have come out and are drying their wings. Other cocoons are split open and butterflies are struggling to get out: it's a slow process that sometimes takes hours. The opening in the cocoon is so tiny that it looks like it might hurt to squeeze out of it. The butterflies look as if they need help, but none of the attendants help them. The struggle they are going through is actually what's best for them. Squeezing through the tiny hole is part of what helps make the butterflies' wings healthy and strong. If the attendants were to try to help, the butterflies would not develop properly. Their wings would be weak and they probably would never fly.
Excerpted from Streams in the Desert for Kids by L.B. Cowman Copyright © 2009 by Zondervan. Excerpted by permission.
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