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John 8: 2- 11 “Early in the morning He came again into the temple, and all the people were coming to Him; and He sat down and began to teach them. The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman caught in adultery, and having set her in the center of the court, they said to Him, “Teacher, this woman has been caught in adultery, in the very act. “Now in the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women; what then do You say?” They were saying this, testing Him, so that they might have grounds for accusing Him. But Jesus stooped down and with His finger wrote on the ground. But when they persisted in asking Him, He straightened up, and said to them, “He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” Again He stooped down and wrote on the ground. When they heard it, they began to go out one by one, beginning with the older ones, and He was left alone, and the woman, where she was, in the center of the court. Straightening up, Jesus said to her, “Woman, where are they? Did no one condemn you?” She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “I do not condemn you, either. Go. From now on sin no more.”
Whew!!! Can you imagine the wide range of emotions this woman must have felt? At first, was she embarrassed for being caught in the act and for being brought into the court full of men and for everyone to know her sin? Did she know who Jesus was? Did she wonder what he would say? What if he said “yes, stone her”? Was she scared that she was about to die? Did she feel awe when the men started to leave? Did she feel relief when she said that he would not condemn her? How do you think she felt when he instructed her to sin no more? What do you think she choose to do next?
After speaking with Jesus, she had a choice to make. Continue in her life, continue sinning or make changes to her life… turn over a new leaf, so to speak, meaning turn over the previous page with bad behavior, and starting anew on a fresh page.” (www.wisegeek.com) We do not know any more about this woman. Did she continue her life of sin or did she make changes? Let’s say that she did choose to start on a new fresh page. Sounds easy right? But all of us know that sin in one’s life brings consequences. Even if we make changes, we still have to deal with those consequences. For this woman, making changes to sin no more may have been very hard. First she would have had to “cold turkey quit” the relationship she had with her lover. She may have had to mend relationships with family, possibly her husband or her father. This may have brought loneliness, trepidation, and possibly left her without a house to live in. This is all a lot of speculation, but the point is turning over to new page, while at first sounds exciting and refreshing (and it is!), can be full of emotions and hardships. Sin that “easily entangles” (Hebrews12:1) can be hard to untangle. Mark 14: 38 says “the spirit is willing, but the flesh is week.”
Do you realize that Christ also tells US to “sin no more”? We all have sin in our life that we should rid ourselves of. How does it make you feel when Christ tells YOU to “sin no more”? More importantly though, is how do you respond? We too have the same choice the adulterous woman had. And God is just as merciful to us as he was to this woman. Do we take that mercy, and go on our merry way, failing to truly repent and honor God? Or do we humble ourselves, knowing that we deserve death, and choose to live a life that brings glory to God?
It takes determination, commitment, and most importantly, reliance on God to truly repent of sin. The rest of Mark 14:38 says “keep watching and praying that you may not come into temptation.” We must keep watch over ourselves and pray for God’s help for He is faithful to help us. “Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” Hebrews 4: 16. And Ephesians 6:10 says “ Finally, Be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might.” With God’s strength we can overcome sin and start fresh on a new page. So what will you choose? The easy road back to sin and eternal death or the harder, more challenging road that leads to freedom, blessings, and
eternal life. The choice is yours to make.
by Amy Ellis
originally printed in the Fall 2010 issue N3V4
Play “Leaf Pile Hunt.”
Create piles of leaves scattered about a large area (works with straw in a barn too) Hide the candy in and about the pile of leaves. Gather all of the guests and when the host says go, everyone hunts the candy.
Start a Leaf Journal.
A leaf journal is simple and easy to do. All you need is a notebook, glue, a pen, and the great outdoors! Take the kids and head outside for a walk, collecting leaves in different shapes, sizes, and colors as you go along. Try not to bend and break them as you continue on your walk, and when you get home begin gluing them into your notebook with 1 or 2 leaves per page. Do a little research to find out what kind of tree your leaf came from and make a note of it in the journal. If you are unable to find it don’t sweat it. Just glue the leaf in anyway and enjoy the rich, warm colors that you and your kids have collected. Leaf rubbings, using crayons and copy paper, would also make a great addition to your journal.
Have a leaf fight.
First, arm everyone with rakes and gather large stacks of leaves together from those scattered across your lawn. Form teams and take your places behind a stack of your choosing. Pelt your opponents with handfuls of leaves until the stack is gone. The first team to lose its pile wins. Second, rake the piles together again and this time take turns jumping in the piles.
Make autumn placemats.
Collect colorful fallen leaves of different sizes and shapes. Arrange them in attractive but varying patterns. Press between sheets of wax paper and steam it closed with a warm (not hot) iron. Trim each placemat with colorful strips of construction paper or discount fabric with a fall pattern. Place on the kitchen or dining room table for seasonal flair.
Enjoy God’s Creation.
Take a walk, go on a hike, go for a bike ride or just drive through the countryside and enjoy the beauty that God has created.
Create a Leaf T-shirt
•bleach in a spray bottle
•dark colored T-shirt
•large bucket of cool water
Put the newspaper in between the layers of the t-shirt. Spread your leaves out on the front of the T-shirt. Be creative! Spray the front of the t-shirt with bleach. Try and spray as evenly as possible, covering both the leaves and the empty areas. Allow the bleach to stay on for about 5 minutes. You will start to see the color of the shirt fade. Rinse the shirt in the bucket of cool water. Rinse it well to get out the bleach. You’re all done!
(These ideas were found on various internet sites.) Originally printed in the Fall 2010 issue V3N4
In this day and time, we are always in a hurry. We have trained ourselves and our children to expect everything NOW. When our expectations are not met, we often become impatient and frustrated, pushing harder to get what we want. We begin to rely only on ourselves in order to get what we think we “need.” In our quest for more, there is no room for patience or time to wait for God to bless us in His time.
God sometimes asks us to wait. He promises to provide for us in due time if we will wait patiently. Ecclesiastes 3:1 tells us “To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.” God’s timetable is not the same as ours. We need to trust in God’s promises and not become frustrated when things do not work out according to our plans.
The following women all had one thing in common – they were each barren.Some grew impatient as they waited for a child, and tried to “help” God with His plans. But later, in God’s time, they each bore a great man.
Sarah was promised a child at such an advanced age that she laughed at the news. She tried to rush God’s plan by encouraging her husband, Abraham, to have a child with her handmaid, Hagar. But God blessed Sarah with a child in her old age, and this son Issac was a great man. He was used to test Abraham’s faith in God (Genesis 22). God’s promise was given to Abraham that his seed would be multiplied as the stars in heaven, and that promise was fulfilled in God’s time.
Issac grew up and married a woman named Rebekah (Genesis 25). When Issac realized that Rebekah was barren, he intreated the Lord for his wife and she bore a son named Jacob. Jacob was also given the promise of God and his name was changed to Israel (Genesis 35:10). He became the father of 12 sons, through which grew the great nation of Israel.
Jacob worked for many years for the privilege of marrying the beautiful woman, Rachel. Jacob also married her sister, Leah, who was able to provide Jacob with children. Rachel was very frustrated with her inability to conceive, but in God’s time, He opened her womb and she bore a son named Joseph (Genesis 30:22- 24). Joseph’s brothers were jealous of him and sold him into slavery. But through God’s will, he arrived in Egypt where he became a powerful man, second only to Pharaoh. In this position, he was able to bring all of Israel to Egypt in order for them to survive the famine and continue to become a great nation.
In the book of Judges, we read of Manoah, whose wife was barren. An angel of the Lord promised her that she would conceive and bare a son who would be a Nazarite unto God from the womb. Manoah’s wife did bare a son, who she named Samson. God blessed Samson, and he grew up to deliver the children of Israel out of the hand of the Philistines and became a judge of Israel for 20 years.
In 1st Samuel, we read of Hannah and her sadness at not having a child. She vowed that if she had a son, she would give him to the Lord all the days of his life. Hannah was blessed and bore Samuel, who served God from his youth and was a great judge over Israel all the days of his life (I Samuel 7:15).
Then in the New Testament, we read of Elisabeth who was barren in her old age. But an angel promised her husband, Zacharias, that they would have a son who would be filled with the Holy Ghost from his mother’s womb. Elisabeth did have a son, John, who became known as John the Baptizer. He was perhaps the greatest of these sons who were born, because his duty was to prepare the way for our Lord Jesus Christ. He was given the privilege of baptizing Jesus (Matthew 3:13-17, Mark 1:9-11, and Luke 3:21-23).
In our hurry-up lifestyle, we must remember to have patience and “be anxious for nothing.” (Philippians 4:6) As we are told in Matthew 6:25-34, we do not have to worry about our life and physical needs because God will take care of everything as long as we “seek first the kingdom of God.” When we leave our timetable in God’s hands, we can be free to live a life that is filled with the fruits of the spirit (Galatians 5:16-23).
When we stop being in such a hurry, we can fill our lives with doing good and keep our minds on things that are true, noble, just, pure, lovely, and of good report (Philippians 4:8). We can forget the worry and wanting and remember that God shall supply all our needs (Philippians 4:19).
This fall, let’s slow down and turn over a new leaf. Let us “not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart” (Galatians 6:9).
By Nancy Branson
Originally printed in the Fall 2010 issue V3N4
In Deuteronomy 5:1, Moses calls all of Israel before him to speak to them the statutes and judgments of God. He tells them to learn them, keep them and do them. These people took the covenant between themselves and God very seriously. It was important for the Israelites to keep God’s commandments because they were about to go and possess the land that was promised to them. The process of taking the land would require their faithfulness for many generations, so teaching the law to their children was of the utmost importance.
Deuteronomy 6:7 says that they were to teach the law diligently to their children and talk about it when in the house, when walking by the way, when lying down, and getting up. In other words – all the time. Teaching God’s laws to their children was to be a full-time job for Israelite parents.
We are no longer under the old law (Galatians 3:24-25). But the writings of the Old Testament were written for our learning and the importance of parental teaching found in Deuteronomy can surely apply to us today.
But for many of us, our days consist mostly of rushing to get our children to school and other activities on time, supervising homework, fixing meals, and running baths. There is precious little time left to talk to our children about God.
Maybe we can’t all set aside time for a hour-long family devotional every night, but there are small moments each day when we can share a portion of God’s word.
Today, we can teach our children while:
* sharing a quick bowl of cereal in the morning
* walking or driving them to school
* eating an occasional lunch with them at school
* driving to practices or meetings
* eating dinner together as a family
* giving baths
* spending a quiet moment together before bed
Each new day presents new opportunities to teach our children, and we have to be diligent and ready to seize those opportunities when they arise. As we enter into the fall season, let’s turn over a new leaf and make an effort to spend more time talking with our children about God’s word.
By Valerie Enoch
Originally printed in the Fall 2010 issue V3N4
Originally, the phrase “turning over a new leaf” meant to turn to a new page in a book. The phrase came to mean to change one’s life.
I read a story about a man who was overtaken in sin. His friend pleaded for him to “turn over a new leaf” and the man agreed. Later, the friend came to visit and found the man overtaken by the same sin. When the man was confronted about the breaking of his vow, he replied, “Yes, but I hadn’t quite made it to the end of the page”.
History tells of another man named Marcus Julius Agrippa. He was the seventh and last king of the family of Herod the Great and lived from about 27 AD to 94 AD. As ruler over Jerusalem, he was well studied in Jewish history and claimed Judaism as his religion.
Paul, formerly a Jew, and known as Saul of Tarsus, lived during this same time. The Bible tells of a meeting between these two men of history in Acts 26. Paul was arrested in 54 AD because the Jews wanted him put to death for his preaching of the Gospel. Agrippa agreed to hear Paul’s case.
Paul spoke of how he was formerly a Pharisee and how he now stood before Agrippa being judged for the “hope of the promise of God”. He recalled how he had imprisoned Christians and spoken out against them as they were being put to death. How Jesus had appeared to him on the road to Damascus and had told him that he would become a minister to the Gentiles that they might turn “from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and inheritance among them that are sanctified by faith in Jesus.” Paul recounted his journeys and the preaching he had done. A man in the crowd stood and called Paul “mad”, but Paul defended his words and boldly argued that Agrippa knew these things to be true because they had not been done in secret but out in the open with many witnesses.
Paul turned to Agrippa and implored, “Do you believe the Prophets? I know that you believe.”
Agrippa replied, “You almost persuade me to become a Christian”.
Agrippa had reached the end of the page but couldn’t convince himself to “turn over a new leaf” fearful he had somehow missed something on the page. If only he had turned the page, he would have known God’s forgiveness and the beauty of being called His child.
Forgiveness of sin and eternal life in Heaven is the perfect ending, but you can’t get there without reading the whole book. You must “turn over a new leaf” to get there.
By Beth Drake
Originally printed in the Fall 2010 issue V3N4