Cocoa Powder

Trust God and Be Obedient

Sadie came in the back door and took a deep breath. Mmm, brownies. When she rounded the corner into the kitchen she stopped. There were stacks of brownies everywhere! Sadie reached out to take a brownie off the stack nearest to her. “Stop right there!” 

“Mom, you scared me to death! Where were you?” Mom chuckled. “I needed more baggies. Hands off those brownies. Those are for the bake sale tomorrow.” Sadie’s shoulders fell. “We can’t eat even one?” 

“Not unless you want to pay for it.” Mom opened the baggies and dropped the brownies into individual bags. “Do you need any help?” Sadie really wanted to get her hands on a brownie. They smelled so good. 

“Sure, you can clean up and put all the ingredients away.” Sadie spied the cocoa powder sitting there without the lid. She picked it up and inhaled deeply. Mmm, chocolate. What if she just ate a spoonful of the cocoa instead of a brownie? All that chocolaty goodness made her mouth start to water. 

Sadie grabbed a spoon and Mom spoke. “I wouldn’t do that if I were you. It doesn’t taste as good as it smells.” Sadie smelled the cocoa again. “Trust me.” Mom said. 

“It can’t be that bad.” Sadie said. She took a big bite, then grimaced and choked, blowing cocoa powder all over the sink and counter. “Yuck!” She spit the powder in the sink and used a cup to rinse her mouth, her eyes watering because of the bitter taste. 

“You know, this reminds me of our devotion this morning,” said Mom as she helped Sadie wipe the counter. “Remember how Satan made the fruit so appealing Eve began to doubt she could trust God’s word?” 

“Just like I didn’t trust you about the cocoa powder.” Sadie mumbled. Mom nodded, continuing. “Sin looks appealing, but when you get a bite, it is bitter and makes your soul sick. The cocoa smelled good, but you didn’t trust me when I told you it doesn’t taste good.” 

“Yeah, I think I’ll remember this lesson the next time I’m tempted not to trust you.” said Sadie. Mom hugged her. “The same goes for trusting God. Next time you are tempted to sin, remember the bitterness that will follow and trust Him. Obedience won’t leave a bad taste in your mouth.” 

Follow Up Verse

The LORD watches over those who obey him, those who trust in his constant love. Psalm 33:18 (GNT)

F. I. T. – Follow It Through

Do you wonder if God is trustworthy? Should we be obedient to Him and his commands? The answer is Yes! He only wants what is best for us. The Bible says that if we are obedient and trust God, He will bless us.  Be obedient and trust God. He has good plans for us and will give us a hopeful future.

Real Love

Luke and Grandma

Luke crossed his arms and kicked the wall in the corner where he was standing.

“Luke Jenkins, you better not be kicking my walls!” Luke stuck his head further in the corner.

“I hate you!” He screamed. He was so mad. He couldn’t believe his grandma had put him in the corner. All because he wanted to finish his game. It wasn’t fair!

“Well, that’s too bad, because I love you too much to allow you to behave badly and be disrespectful.”  Luke jumped. He hadn’t heard Grandma come up behind him. 

“You want to talk about what happened?” Luke turned his head back into the corner. “No.”  Grandma got the rocking chair and sat down behind Luke. Soon she was humming and fanning herself. She wasn’t speaking; just rocking, fanning, and humming. Finally, Luke couldn’t take it anymore. “It’s not fair. I don’t deserve to be in the corner.” He said. Grandma just kept rocking, fanning, and humming, the soothing sound calming Luke. As he listened, he recognized the tune. What A Friend We Have In Jesus. It was one of Grandma’s favorite hymns. Luke started thinking about what had happened. Grandma had asked him several times to put away his tablet, but he didn’t want to. He just wanted to finish his game. She finally took it from his hands and turned it off. He had exploded at her and tried to take the game back. As he stood there, he was glad his face was in the corner. He was so ashamed of his behavior. Tears started to pool in his eyes. “Grandma?” Luke whispered shakily. “I’m sorry.” 

Grandma just kept rocking and fanning. “What are you sorry for?” She asked. 

Luke felt shame wash over his face. “I’m sorry I was disrespectful to you. And, and, I’m sorry that I yelled at you. I don’t hate you Grandma.” Luke turned and reached for Grandma’s open arms. He fell into her lap and cried on her shoulder as she rocked him and whispered “Shh, I know,” over and over. Finally, when he had stopped crying, she sat him up and asked, “Are you ready to learn now?”

Luke wiped his eyes. “Yes ma’am.”

“Good.” Grandma said. She looked into Luke’s eyes. “Luke, do you love me?

Luke felt sad. “Yes, Grandma. I love you.”

Grandma looked deep into his eyes. “Are you sure? Do you know what love is, Luke?”

Luke was puzzled. “I think so.” He said. Grandma lifted Luke off her lap, rose from the rocking chair, and held out her hand to Luke. “Let’s go make sure.” She said. Grandma led them to the kitchen table where her Bible was laid open. “You sit right there in my seat.” Luke sat before the Bible as Grandma sat to his left. “Flip over to First Corinthians chapter thirteen. Start reading out loud at verse four.” Luke found the scripture verses and began to read. “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.”

Grandma looked at Luke and asked, “Luke, did you act like you loved me?” Luke looked back at the verses again. He finally understood what Grandma was saying. If he loved her, like what the Bible said love was, he wouldn’t have acted the way he did. “No, ma’am. I’m sorry. I guess I didn’t really know what love was. I thought it was letting me have anything I wanted.” Grandma nodded. “The messages we get from the world tell us that, but the Bible tells us the truth. Now, I’m not the only one you needed to apologize to. You also need to talk to Jesus. Ask him to help you love like He loves.” Luke nodded. “Yes ma’am. Will you pray with me?” Grandma opened her arms for a hug. “Of course, child.”  

Follow Up Verse

“We love because he first loved us.” 1 John 4:19

F. I. T. – Follow It Through

Do you love others like the Bible says we are to love? Are you listening to the world or are you listening to Jesus? Pray and ask God to help you love like He loves.

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Listening

Another Nicholas Story

Anna sighed as she threw her backpack into the seat beside her and buckled up. 

“How was school today?” Mom asked as she pulled out of the car rider line and onto the street.

“It was okay, but Nicholas got in trouble again.” Anna said.

“Again?” Mom asked. “What did he do this time?” Nicholas had become the central character of many after school discussions and teaching points.

“Today, he was jumping chairs and running in the hall. Mrs. Baker told him to stop several times. When we went to PE, he threw a ball at Kyle and hit him in the face. After that, the teacher sent him to the office. I don’t know why Nicholas won’t just listen. He acts bad and gets in trouble every day. It’s like he wants to get in trouble.”

Mom shook her head again. “I understand that feeling.” Mom said.

Anna met Mom’s eyes in the rearview mirror as they waited at the stop sign. “You do? What do you mean?”

Mom pulled out onto the road and continued the conversation. “Well, sometimes I act that way with God. I know He has to be shaking His head over my behavior when I don’t listen. I try to do things my way instead of God’s way and that’s when I get in trouble, or sin. I don’t want to be disobedient to God, but I do want to have my way. Maybe that’s Nicholas’s problem. He doesn’t want to be disobedient to the teacher, but he also wants to get his way. That doesn’t always happen.”

“Wow, I’ve never thought about it like that.” Anna said. “All this time I just thought he was bad. Maybe he doesn’t listen because he doesn’t know how.” Mom pulled into the garage and turned to Anna. “Anna, that is very insightful. I hadn’t even thought about it that way. Sometimes I want my way more than God’s way and I don’t know how to listen. How much easier would our lives be if we just learned to listen and were obedient to what God has already told us in His Word?”

Anna clapped excitedly. “Oh, that’s like my memory verse for this week. It’s James 1:22. “Do not merely listen to the Word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.” 

“Good job Anna Banana! That’s something we ALL need to do.”

Follow Up Verse

He replied, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it.” Luke 11:28

F. I. T. – Follow It Through

Are you listening to what God says and doing it? If not, ask for forgiveness and then do what God says.

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Without Complaining

Without Complaining

“I don’t want to clean the toilets,” grumbled Jacob as he scrubbed the inside of the bowl. His sister Julie stuck her head in the bathroom, “At least you don’t have to mop the entire house.” She complained. “My job is harder than yours.”

“No way!” Jacob argued. “We have four toilets, and I have to clean them inside and out. My job is harder.”

“Four toilets are easy. I have to sweep and mop every room, and there are twelve!”

Jacob and Julie continued to compare chores and argue about who had to work harder. Finally, Mom had heard enough.

“Jacob!” she called. “Julie! Both of you come here!” Jacob and Julie went to the kitchen where Mom was washing dishes. “What is going on?” She asked. Jacob and Julie started talking at the same time, continuing to argue, getting louder and louder as they tried to talk over each other. Mom held up her hand and they both stopped. 

“Julie, do you have a warm bed? Nice clothes? Dishes to eat your food off of?” Mom turned toward Jacob. 

“What about you Jacob? Do you have a nice floor to play in with all your toys? A working bathroom so that you can shower and be clean?”

Jacob and Julie both looked at each other and then looked at the floor. Julie was the first to speak.”I’m sorry, Mom. I guess I just got frustrated. I didn’t mean to be so ungrateful.”

Jacob nodded his head. “Me too, Mom. I guess I forgot just how blessed we were.”

Mom reached out to hug both of her children.

“You are both right. We have been blessed. I understand it can be frustrating sometimes, but we have to take care of the things God has blessed us with. That means we have to work together. When you were too little to help, I did it all by myself. Now that you can help, we can spend more time together as a family. The Bible tells us to work willingly and without hesitation out of love for Christ. Our work doesn’t have to be hard if we have the right attitude.”

Jacob and Julie hugged Mom tight.

“Hey, it’s like that song we sang in kid’s choir last week. Remember Julie?”

Julie laughed. “Yeah, the complaining song.” Mom laughed too. “The complaining song? This I have to hear.”

Jacob started singing.

“Do everything without complaining. Do everything without arguing. So that you will become, blameless and pure, children of God.”

Mom smiled. “I like that.”

Follow Up Verse

Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.”Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky. Philippians 2:14-15

F. I. T. — Follow It Through

Are you grateful? Do you show it? Always be ready to help out and help others with a good attitude.

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Making The Team

Chosen

Daniel checked the list on the door of the gym for his name. It wasn’t there. He didn’t make the team? His shoulders slumped as he turned to walk back to his bike. What happened? How did he not make the team? Daniel took his time riding home from the school. When he came in the back door, his big brother Michael was sitting at the bar working on his homework.

“What’s up squirt?” Michael asked as Daniel opened the refrigerator to get a drink.

“Nothing now.” Daniel mumbled. 

Michael turned to face Daniel. “What do you mean, nothing now?”

Daniel sat down on the opposite side of Michael. “I didn’t make the team at school. I just checked the door where they posted it.” Daniel took a long drink of his juice box.

Michael nodded. “Sorry squirt. I know you really wanted to be chosen for the school team this year.”

“Yeah, now I’ll have to play on the rec team again. They have to take everybody.” Daniel grumbled.

“I know it isn’t your first choice, but rec ball is a good way to build your skills. You can try out for the school team again next year.” Michael paused for a moment and watched his little brother. He had really struggled fitting in since they had moved. He knew Daniel wanted to make the team so he could make some friends.

“You know, I didn’t make the school team at your age either.” Michael said. 

Daniel looked up from the circles he was drawing on the countertop with his fingers. “Really? I thought you always got picked.”

“Nope. My first year at Jefferson I didn’t even make the alternate list. So I played rec ball and worked hard on my skills in the off season. When I tried out the next year, I made the team.” Michael reached around and got a juice box out of the refrigerator. 

“I just wanted to be picked.” Daniel whispered still looking at his fingers making circles on the countertop.

“I know, man. I did too. But Dad helped me to see it as an opportunity to work hard and get better. Plus, he shared a Bible verse with me that helped. It’s from Ephesians.” Michael grabbed his phone to look up the verse. “Here it is, Ephesians 1:4 — ‘Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes.’ Dad said that Jesus picked me for His team before He even created the world. That made me feel a little better about not making the school team.”

“Yeah, I guess.” Daniel perked up a bit. “I mean, being on Jesus’s team is more important than any other team.”

Michael smiled. “You know it! How about I finish my math homework later and you and I go practice some ball?”

Daniel jumped out of his seat. “Let’s go”

Follow Up Verse

“You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit–fruit that will last–and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you.” John 15:16

F. I. T. – Follow It Through

We might not always make the team or be chosen to play a special part or sing a solo, but God has chosen us to be His children in Christ. When we accept Jesus as our Savior, we become part of His family. We are CHOSEN.

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Strong and Courageous

Just a Bully

David came in from school and threw his backpack on the stairs. “Stupid Kevin!” David growled through clenched teeth. Dad came around the corner. “Whoa, what’s going on? Why are you so mad?” David sniffed and Dad reached out to hug him. As soon as David wrapped his arms around his dad, he broke down. His dad patted him on the back and led him to the couch to sit down. “Okay son, tell me what’s going on.” 

David sniffed again and wiped his eyes. “Kevin is being mean to the new guy in our class Gavin. When I tried to be Gavin’s friend, Kevin started being mean to me.” David crossed his arms angrily. “He’s such a bully!” 

Dad nodded his head. “I know that you and Kevin haven’t always gotten along. Did you tell your teacher what happened?”

David sighed and sat back on the couch. “Yes, and she said she would talk to him, but it never changes anything.”

Dad nodded again. “Well, you may have to take matters into your own hands.” 

David straightened and turned towards his dad. “What? You want me to get in a fight?”

Dad laughed but shook his head. “No. I don’t want you to get in a fight, but it is okay to stand up for yourself, as long as you do it the right way.”

Dad explained why some people bullied other people and then they watched some videos about how to peacefully stop a bully. David agreed to try it the next time Kevin picked on him or Gavin. 

The next morning at breakfast, David was feeling nervous. He knew that Kevin would start in on him, and Gavin, as soon as they got to school. 

“What’s wrong? Are the eggs not good?” Dad asked.

David sighed. “I don’t know if I can go through with it, Dad. What if it doesn’t work?”

Dad reached for his Bible. “I know just what you need. One of my favorite verses for when I’m feeling nervous is  Deuteronomy 31:6, “So be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid and do not panic before them. For the LORD your God will personally go ahead of you. He will neither fail you nor abandon you.”

David smiled. “Thanks, Dad. Can we pray before we go?” 

“Absolutely.” Dad said.

Follow Up Verse

“So be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid and do not panic before them. For the LORD your God will personally go ahead of you. He will neither fail you nor abandon you.” Deuteronomy 31:6

F. I. T. – Follow It Through

Do you get nervous or afraid sometimes? Trust in God. He is always with you. Trust God to take care of you.

Making Good Choices

Ill Gotten Goodies

Sasha looked through the desk drawers for the notebook Mrs. Richards wanted. She finally found it in the bottom drawer. When she lifted it out, she discovered a box of candy bars. Her stomach rumbled. She’d skipped snack today because she forgot her money. She lifted the lid. There were several in there. Would she notice if she took one? She could always buy one at the snack store tomorrow and replace it. Her stomach rumbled even louder. Sasha took a candy bar and closed the lid. She’d replace it tomorrow. 

The next day, Sasha was talking with her friends on the way to the snack store. When it was her turn, she got her wallet out to buy a snack, and the replacement candy bar. “$3.50” the attendant said. Sasha opened her wallet.  Where was all her money? She knew she had ten dollars in there yesterday. “Uhm, I need to put the candy bar back. Just the juice please.” Sasha said. She handed the attendant the only dollar bill in her wallet. What was she going to do? She needed to replace the candy bar in Mrs. Richards’s desk before she noticed. All day Sasha worried over the situation. When she got to Mrs. Richards’s classroom, Mrs. Richards had the bottom drawer open pulling everything out of it. “Are you looking for your notebook again? I think you left it on the podium.” Sasha said. 

“No. Today is special snack and I know I counted fifteen candy bars, but when I checked the box, there were only fourteen,” she sighed. “I guess one of the kids won’t be getting a candy bar.” Sasha swallowed. She felt terrible. She never should have taken the candy bar. What would she do now?

Mrs. Richards reached for her purse and pulled out a five dollar bill. “Sasha, can you go down to the snack store and buy me another candy bar? I can’t believe I miscounted.”

“Yes, ma’am.” Sasha took the money and walked to the snack store, feeling sicker with every step. She had to tell Mrs. Richards the truth and face the consequences.

When she returned, Mrs. Richards was setting up the special snack. “Thank you, Sasha. Just put the change in my desk. I’m so glad we caught my mistake in time.”

Sasha swallowed hard. “Mrs. Richards, it wasn’t your mistake. I’m so sorry.” Sasha looked at the floor. “I took a candy bar yesterday because I forgot my snack. I intended to replace it this morning, but when I opened my wallet, my money was missing. I am so sorry for taking the candy without asking.” 

Mrs. Richards sighed. “Sasha, I am disappointed in your actions, but thank you for being truthful. You could have easily lied and gotten away with it. Have you learned your lesson?”

“Yes, ma’am. I never want to take anything without permission again.”

Follow Up Verse  

“You shall not steal.” Exodus 20:15

F.I.T. – Follow It Through 

Do not take things that do not belong to you without permission.

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