<![CDATA[Building Godly character by studying the "characters" of God. - Home]]>Tue, 28 Nov 2017 14:13:23 -0800Weebly<![CDATA[2017 Devotion Challenge]]>Tue, 28 Nov 2017 17:30:00 GMThttp://charactersoffaithdevotions.com/home/2017-devotion-challengeDuring the month of December I challenge you and your family to do a daily reading together.  This is a reading plan that includes the entire month and covers from the birth of John the Baptist to the coming of the wise men.  If you miss a day there is make up time on the weekend and an activity to review what you are learning.  Take this opportunity to spend a little time remembering why we have this season of giving, because God gave us the greatest gift ever!  Everyday on the Facebook page there will be a reminder of that day's reading and questions and there is a link below to a downloadable/printable version for you reference.  Have a blessed season as we all celebrate the great gift God ever gave us, Himself.
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December 1 – Isaiah 40:3-5, Malachi 4:5-6
Who are these passages foretelling the coming of? (John the Baptist)  Note that the verses in Malachi are the very last verses of the Old Testament.  These were God’s final words to his people before the events leading up to the Messiah began about 400 years later.  God told them what to watch for, the one to prepare their hearts for the Messiah.
December 2&3
Read this week’s passage if you haven’t already and collect at least 14 craft sticks (Popsicle sticks) and a container to keep them in for the weekend reviews to come.
December 4 – Luke 1:5-7
What 2 characters are introduced today? (Zechariah and Elizabeth)  What are we told about them? (they were righteous) We are also told that Elizabeth could not have children and was old.  Many in their culture would have said that the reason they didn’t have children was because they were sinning in some way and had displeased God, but this passage tells us the opposite.  God tells us they were righteous, therefore He was pleased with them. 
Write Zechariah on one craft stick and Elizabeth on another and place them in your container.
December 5 – Luke 1:8-22
What vision did Zechariah see?  Did you notice that verses 16-17 are almost the same words as Malachi 4:5-6?  What sign was Zechariah given to show him this was really going to happen?
Add craft sticks for Gabriel and John to your container today!
December 6 – Luke 1:23-25
What happened when Zechariah went home?  How does Elizabeth feel?  Did she tell everyone?
December 7 – Luke 1:26-38
Who did Gabriel appear to?  What did he tell her?  Was she surprised?  Who did Gabriel use as an example of God doing the impossible?
Add craft sticks for Mary and Joseph to your container.
December 8 – Luke 1:39-45
What did John do when Elizabeth heard Mary’s voice?  What did the Holy Spirit cause Elizabeth to say?
December 9 & 10
This weekend, read any passages you missed.  As a review, take turns drawing a stick from the container and telling everyone what you remember about that character!
December 11 – Luke 1:46-56
What does Mary say about God and how He treats His people?  Notice that she stayed with Elizabeth until about time for John to be born.
December 12 – Luke 1:57-66
What did the friends want to name John?  What happened when they asked Zechariah?  What did everyone wonder after this miracle?
December 13 -   Luke 1:67-80
What does Zechariah say about God?  What does Zechariah predict about John?  Where did John live until he started his ministry?
December 14 – Matthew 1:18-25
When Joseph found out Mary was pregnant he was going to divorce her kindly. What happened to change his mind? What were they to name the baby?
Add a craft stick for Jesus to your container.
December 15 – Matthew 1:1-17
This is the genealogy (family history) of Joseph, the man assumed to be Jesus father. Can you find the 14 generations between the major events in Jewish history?
December 16 & 17
This weekend, read any passages you missed.  As a review, take turns drawing a stick from the container and telling everyone what you remember about that character. Do you know more about some of them than you did last week?
December 18 - Luke 3:23-38
This is the genealogy of Mary, Jesus’ mother.  How is it different from the genealogy of Joseph?  Are both Mary and Joseph descendants of King David?
December 19 – Micah 5:2-4, Isaiah 9:6-7
Where is the Messiah supposed to be born? (Bethlehem)  What are some of the things the prophets said about the coming Messiah?  What are some of the names it gives for the Messiah?
December 20 – Luke 2:1-7
Why did Joseph go to Bethlehem?  Did God use Caesar Augustus?  Does God use people who are not godly when he wants to? What is a manger? Did your parents lay you in a manger after you were born?
Add Caesar Augustus to your craft stick collection.
December 21 – Luke 2:8-14
Who appeared to the shepherds?  What was the sign they were to look for to identify the Savior? What did the angels say in praise of God?
Add the shepherds and the angels to your craft stick collection!
December 22 – Luke 2:15-20
Did the shepherds wait around to be told again?  Did they keep the news to themselves?  What did Mary do?
December 23 & 24
This weekend, once again read any passages you missed.  As a review, take turns drawing a stick from the container and telling everyone what you remember about that character.  Can you tell something about everyone we have a stick for?
December 25
Sometime today, as you celebrate and enjoy family and friends, read the Christmas story again.  Maybe use a different version that you have been reading in for your daily devotions or read a storybook version.  Just be sure to take time today to discuss the One we are really celebrating!  At our house we always make a birthday cake and sing Happy Birthday to Jesus.
December 26 – Luke 2:21-24
What offering did Mary and Joseph make for Jesus’ birth?  Note that this was the called for offering of the poor and notice that Mary and Joseph followed all the customs and traditions that God’s people had been taught.  They were doing their best to follow God, which is part of why God chose them to be Jesus’ earthly parents!
December 27 – Luke 2:25-35
What was special about Simeon (what promise had he received)?  What did he say to bless God?  What did he tell Mary about the future?
Make a craft stick for Simeon and add it to your container.
December 28 – Luke 2:36-38
Who was Anna?  Why did she get to see the Messiah? (She was faithful!)
Add Anna to your craft stick collection.
December 29 – Matthew 2:1-12
Who came looking for Jesus?  Why do you think they asked the current ruler of the country, Herod?  Did Herod really want to worship Jesus?  Do you recognize the passage quoted in verse 6?  What gifts the wise men bring?
Add the wise men and Herod to your collection of craft sticks!
December 30 & 31
As on previous weekends, read any missed passages.  For one final time do the craft stick challenge.  Can you tell something about each person in the container?  Did you learn anything new this year about the events around the birth of Christ?
<![CDATA[Solomon’s Great Wealth]]>Sun, 26 Nov 2017 16:00:00 GMThttp://charactersoffaithdevotions.com/home/solomons-great-wealthTopic: Sin
1 Kings 10:14-29

When Solomon prayed for wisdom, God promised that he would not only be wise, but wealthy as well.  Verse 24 tells us that all the world sought Solomon’s wisdom and verse 25 says they brought him gifts.  We are also told that 666 talents of gold came in every year besides what came from merchants and traders.  That is almost 25 tons every year!  The kingdom was so wealthy that they made cups out of gold.  The Bible says silver was considered of little value and as common as stones!!  Truly God blessed Solomon and his people.

However, all of this wealth gathering was a sign of problems to come.  The last part of this chapter says that the king built up huge numbers of horses, specifically from Egypt.  But why is that a big deal?   Because in the law that Moses gave to the people there was a section specifically for kings.  In that law (Deuteronomy 17:16) God specifically tells king not build up horses. Why?  Because horses, are part of armies and armies give us a false sense of protection.  The king might begin to rely on himself and his army instead of God. By collecting horses Solomon was breaking God’s rules and when we break one, it is easier to break another!

Discussion Starter:
How does one little fib open the door to more lies and deception? (Lies to cover up the fib)
<![CDATA[The Queen of Sheba Visits]]>Sun, 19 Nov 2017 21:40:23 GMThttp://charactersoffaithdevotions.com/home/the-queen-of-sheba-visitsTopic: Prayer
1 Kings 10:1-13

Solomon became famous throughout the world.  The Queen of Sheba (possibly modern Yemen) heard of him and want to see for herself.  So she put together a caravan of camels and brought spices, gold and precious stones as gifts to King Solomon.  The gold was 120 talents, which is about 9,000 pounds!  That is more than the average weight of an adult male Asian elephant!

When the queen questioned King Solomon, he was able to answer all her questions.  No question was too hard for Solomon!!  The queen was also greatly impressed with his palace and how it was run.  She said that his prosperity and wisdom even exceeded what she had heard.  Solomon then sent her home with generous gifts.  God had truly answered Solomon’s prayer for wisdom!

Weigh several different items.  Figure out how many of each you would need to equal 9,000 pounds.
<![CDATA[Powerful Kingdom of Israel]]>Sun, 12 Nov 2017 14:00:00 GMThttp://charactersoffaithdevotions.com/home/powerful-kingdom-of-israelTopic: Blessings
1 Kings 9:10-28

The Lord had truly blessed Solomon and made his kingdom powerful.  Chapter 9 tells us that King Hiram sent King Solomon all the wood and gold he wanted during the construction of the temple and palace.  As a thank you Solomon gave Hiram 20 cities.  When Hiram went and saw them he was not pleased.  He considered them good for nothing.  Yet, he sent back a gift of 120 talents of gold.  Why would he do that?  I think by this time Solomon was so powerful, Hiram was afraid to make him mad.

After building the temple Solomon went on building throughout the area. Adding walls to cities and terracing hilly land for people to live on (the Millo).  He did all this construction with forced laborers who were non-Israelites that lived in the land.  Any remaining Canaanites were now forced to work for the King.  He also built a fleet of ships.  Solomon and Israel had been hugely blessed!  They had the materials and people to build up their country.  God was showing them and the people around them that they were His chosen people and that He takes care of His people.

But who are God’s people today?  Many years after King Solomon, Jesus came to save not only the Jews (the people of Israel) but all of us.  Today, anyone who believes in Jesus and follows His teachings is a child of God.  Because of this we can expect God’s blessing in our lives.  These blessing may not be the great wealth that Solomon had but some things are worth more than gold; like family and friends!

Make a list of at least 5 things God had blessed you with.
<![CDATA[God Appears to Solomon Again]]>Sat, 04 Nov 2017 20:18:22 GMThttp://charactersoffaithdevotions.com/home/god-appears-to-solomon-againTopics: Obedience, Consequences
1 Kings 9:1-9

After Solomon had completed the temple and his palace, God appeared to him again.  God tells Solomon that He has heard Solomon’s prayers and He will be in the temple.  Then God renews his promise to David of an everlasting kingdom with Solomon.  But this promise has conditions.  Yes God promises to let their family rule Israel, but the kings must follow God’s law.  God goes on to warn that the people must not worship other gods and if they do they will lose the land and be mocked by others.  Why do you think God is reminding Solomon of these warnings?  Do the Israelites have a good history of following the law?  Not really.  When times are good, the people of Israel have a history of turning away from God and only coming back when things are really bad.  God is reminding Solomon and his people that disobedience has consequences.  That if they turn from God they are bringing bad things on themselves.  God’s rules are there to help us, when we disobey we bring problems on ourselves!

Make a stop sign. Talk about how obeying stop signs is about keeping us safe when we drive not just about someone else getting to tell us what to do!!
<![CDATA[Final Dedication of the Temple]]>Sun, 29 Oct 2017 16:00:00 GMThttp://charactersoffaithdevotions.com/home/final-dedication-of-the-templeTopic: God’s Presence
1 Kings 8

When construction of the temple was complete, Solomon called all the people together.  The priests and Levites then moved the Ark of the Covenant, and the Tabernacle with all its furnishings to the temple.  Solomon and the people offered so many sheep and oxen in sacrifice during this move they couldn’t be counted.  After the priests placed the ark in its new place and came out, the temple was completely filled with the presence of God in the form of a cloud.  It was so filled the priests couldn’t work!!

Solomon then turned to the people and gave a speech about how God had chosen his father, David, as king.   And how David had wanted to build a temple, but God said that his son would do it and now it was done!

Solomon then prayed to God.  He praised Him and acknowledged that no earthly building could hold Him.  However, Solomon asked that God would hear the prayers of the people in this special place and that it would be a special place they could connect with God.  He prayed that God would answer the people’s prayers and forgive them when they repented of their sins.

After his prayer, Solomon turned back to the people and spoke a blessing over them.  That they would continue to follow God and He would continue to be with them, leading and guiding them.

Finally they sacrificed again which included 22,000 bulls and 120,000 sheep.  After the sacrifices, they celebrated for 7 days, then 7 more days; 14 days total.  The people of Israel celebrated that God was with them!

Discussion Starter:
Is God in some places and not in others?  Are there places where we feel closer to God and feel His presence more?  Where is the place you feel closest to God?]]>
<![CDATA[Solomon’s Palace]]>Sun, 22 Oct 2017 16:00:00 GMThttp://charactersoffaithdevotions.com/home/solomons-palaceTopic: Godly Heart
1 Kings 7:1-12

Around the same time he was building the temple, Solomon was also having a palace constructed.  It took 13 years to build the palace.  It isn’t clear if this was during, in between or right after construction of the temple.  This description of the palace was put in the middle of the description of the construction of the temple and its furnishings.

We do know that the palace was 5 parts: his personal palace, the House of the Forest of Lebanon, the Hall of Pillars, the Hall of Judgement and the palace of his Egyptian wife.  These may have been separate buildings or sections of one building.  We do know the construction was similar to the temple with stone exteriors lined with wood from Lebanon.  We also know that the House of the Forest of Lebanon was about double the size of the temple and the Hall of Pillars was about the size of the temple.

But why do kings build such elaborate palaces?  They do it to show how powerful they are.  When kings conquer lands they take plunder and by displaying wealth they show how strong they are.  We hope that Solomon built this elaborate palace to show how strong and powerful his God was, but some have suggested that the elaborateness of the palace is an early sign that Solomon was starting to rely on himself, not God.  We will have to wait and see if Solomon will be as faithful throughout his life as his father was.

Discussion Starter:
Is it okay to have expensive things?  Is it okay to drive an expensive car, rather than a plain one or live in a super expensive house rather than a normal one? [My answer is it depends on your motivation.  Are you driving the expensive car because you can truly afford it and want the extra features or to impress your friends?  Do you live in the fancy house because it boosts your self-esteem or because you are well-known and need the extra security for your family’s safety?  God knows your heart and it matters!]
<![CDATA[Solomon Builds the Temple]]>Sun, 15 Oct 2017 16:00:00 GMThttp://charactersoffaithdevotions.com/home/solomon-builds-the-templeTopics: Godly Heart, God’s Plan
1 Kings 6, 7:13-51

In the fourth year of Solomon’s reign he began building the temple.  The exterior and main walls were made of stone.  However all of the stone had to be cut at the quarry.  They did not allow use of iron tools at the temple site because it was considered disrespectful to God.  So they would cut the stones to fit, then transport them to the site and assemble them.  This was more work, but this was God’s temple!  It must be respected!!

The interior was then lined with carved wood and most of that was covered in gold!  Solomon brought in a special craftsman to make all of the things made from bronze, mostly things that went outside for the burnt offering area and washing area.  Verse 7:47 says that so much bronze was used they didn’t even try to weight it!!  They spent 7 years building the beautiful temple.  But what was it for?  Verse 6:11-14 tell us.  God says that if His children will follow His rules, He will live among them.  They were building a home for God.  A place they could go worship Him and show Him how much they loved Him.

Solomon ends up building a beautiful temple and it stood for many years.  But did God’s people keep their end of the deal?  Did they follow God’s rules?  Unfortunately as we continue our study of 1&2 Kings we will find that they didn’t keep their end of the agreement.  Eventually the beautiful temple would be destroyed.  But does that mean that God stopped dwelling with men?  No!!  God had a good plan that we find out about in the New Testament, so that now He dwells right in our hearts instead of in a building!  You can have God right in your heart because of Jesus.  Isn’t that great?

Pick a description in chapter 6 or 7 and draw what you think that part of the temple looked like.  Talk about why we build beautiful buildings for God.  And also talk about which is more important to God, a beautiful building or a beautiful heart?
<![CDATA[Solomon Organizes His People]]>Sun, 08 Oct 2017 17:30:00 GMThttp://charactersoffaithdevotions.com/home/solomon-organizes-his-peopleTopic: Responsibility
1 Kings 4&5

As Solomon began to reign, he organized his government.  He put specific people in charge of specific things.  He set up 12 territorial governors.  Each governor was responsible for providing the king’s household with food one month of the year.  This way no one region bore the burden unfairly.  There was peace and prosperity in the land.

Hiram, King of Tyre, sent messengers to Solomon.  He had been a friend to King David and Solomon wisely continued this friendship.  The people that Hiram ruled were known to be skilled woodworkers and Solomon made a treaty with Hiram to trade food for timber.  Solomon needed a lot of timber because he was preparing to build the temple that his father, David, had dreamed of building.

Solomon also raised up a workforce to go to Lebanon (part of Hiram’s kingdom) to help with the work.  30,000 men were hired but they went in 10,000 men crews.  They would go to Lebanon for one month but then go home to their families for 2 months.  This way they had enough workers, but the workers were also happy.  Wasn’t Solomon smart?  A man named Adoniram was in charge of these men.

Solomon also had thousands of people quarrying stone for the temple and selected people to be in charge of the quarrying and transport.  Have you notice a pattern?  Solomon figured out what needed to be done, then he organized it and put someone in charge.  Solomon had many things to oversee, but knew he needed to delegate tasks.  Solomon broke up the responsibilities so that no one person was overwhelmed.  By sharing the burden the work gets done but no one person gets worn out in the process.  If everyone does their share we can all have what we need and have time for fun!

Try an experiment that works great at our house.  Do the 15 minute straighten up challenge.  Set a timer and have everyone start straightening the house.  Have a designated spot for things that each person has to deal with (possibly their chair at the table or their bed).  The rule is that if you know where it goes, put it there; otherwise put it in the spot for who it belongs to.  As you work through the house, each person periodically works on the stuff in their spot, then goes back to general cleaning.  When the timer goes off, everyone stops and you do something fun.  The house may not be perfect, but it is better.  Everyone helped and everyone gets the benefits.  At our house, with everyone really trying we usually run out of things to put away before the timer goes off!   After a few times of doing this, most kids see how easy it is (and effective) and don’t complain when asked to do it.]]>
<![CDATA[Solomon’s Wise Decision]]>Sun, 01 Oct 2017 16:00:00 GMThttp://charactersoffaithdevotions.com/home/solomons-wise-decisionTopic: Wisdom
1 Kings 3:16-28

In our last lesson, Solomon asked for the ability to make wise decisions.  So in this passage we get to see one of the many wise decisions he made.

Two women came to King Solomon with a problem.  They both lived in the same house and had recently had a baby.  Unfortunately one of the babies died.  Now both women said the living baby belonged to them.  Obviously one of them was lying.  How to decide which was telling the truth?

Solomon’s way was this: he told his guards to bring a sword and cut the baby in 2 and give each woman half.  Now one woman said “fine, that worked for her,” but the other said “no, give the baby to the other woman.”  So who is the real mother?  Solomon said to give the baby to the woman who said to give it to the other woman. The real mother would rather the baby live without her than die.  The other woman didn’t love the baby, so it wasn’t really hers.  Solomon wisely gave the baby to the woman who wanted it to live at all costs; its real mother.

Solomon showed just how wise he was in the clever way he solved this difficult problem.  Many of his wise sayings are collected in the book of Proverbs to help us behave wisely too.

Read some of Solomon’s wise sayings in Proverbs 10.  Choose one to memorize so you can become wise like Solomon too!