Daniel 6: 1-16; Luke 10: 29-37

What a week, with our daily presentations for Vacation Bible School “To Mars and Beyond!” Our drama team presented five great Bible stories, and then Mary Ann and I had 20 more hours a day with two of our four grandsons. We had an exhausting week.
Let me ask you a question: have any of you of any age attended a Bible School other than ours? I did when I was young; and I did not enjoy it! So when God called me to ministry I declared that we would make Vacation Bible School “The most fun a kid can have in church!” For 32 years here I have been involved and in character to do that. Today I want to take you back to your childhood if you attended church, and remind you of 5 of the great stories of the Bible.

In our Bible Story Station this past week, we turned the handbell room into our staging area for our dramas! Here are the highlights of what we taught:
“Daniel Trusts God in the Lion’s Den” Daniel 6
Our Power Launcher was; “Go beyond with faith!” Let’s say it together!
The story included a King of Babylon named Darius; and a Jewish young man named Daniel, who was taken to Babylon during the Exile of all the Jews from Israel; there he was asked to learn the ways of the Babylonians.
The King learned that Daniel had many gifts, including being able to interpret dreams. Some Babylonians were jealous when the King made Daniel second in command. But Daniel had faith as he faced a lion’s den. He prayed to God to save him. Tell examples of faith; like being blindfolded.
Think of times you have needed to depend of faith to move forward.
Faith is important!

Day 2: Queen Esther Takes a Stand
Our power launcher was “Go beyond with Boldness!” Let’s say it together.
That day our story came from Chapters 4-9 in the book of Esther.
The story was about a Jewish woman, who even when she was named Queen, had no power of her own. They were in the land of Persia and the King was Xerxes. His wife was Queen Vashti, who at one point refused to do anything her husband asked her to do (Yep, completely unreasonable, right men? Lol)‘Anyway because of that, he cast her aside and began a lengthy series of try-outs for the women of his kingdom to come and audition to be his queen! At long last he chose a woman named Esther. Esther was an orphan, raised by her cousin, a royal guard named Mordecai. King Xerxes appointed an evil man named Haman to be his second in command, one who hated Jews and was cruel to them. He particularly loathed Mordecai. When Mordecai refused to bow down to Haman, Haman went and squealed to, I mean, told the King. Haman was going to make it very hard on the Jews, even more than usual. Esther had a decision: should she speak up to the King to support her people, possibly alienating herself from her husband? She decided to do so; she acted in boldness to save her people. The King, for her sake, decided to save her people and took power away from Haman in the process. Queen Esther’s boldness saved her people. We talked with the boys and girls about times they acted with boldness, like standing with a friend against a bully, and telling an adult about the situation.
Think about times you might have, or might need to, act with boldness.

Day 3: A Good Samaritan Helps a Fellow Traveler
Our Power Launcher was “Go beyond with kindness!” Say it with me.
We followed the book of Luke, chapter 10, verses 25-37
A man who was an expert in Hebrew religious law challenged Jesus about
Eternal life. “Teacher” he asked, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” What does the law say?” asked Jesus. The man replied, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, with all your mind, and all your strength, and you shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Jesus said, “Do that and you will live.” But the man of the law further asked him “Who is my neighbor?”
Then Jesus told the story of the Good Samaritan.
A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and got attacked by robbers.
Priest-explain that Jewish law said he couldn’t lead temple worship if he touched blood or a possibly diseased man.
Levite- like an elder in a church; same reason for not helping as the priest.
Samaritans were loathed and hated by Jews, but Jesus said the Samaritan acted like a neighbor. He was caring, and went above and beyond.
Who are the Samaritans in your life? Other races, other religions, other political parties? Do you ignore or shun or hate them?
Jesus calls them “neighbor.”
Some of the children decided they would be kind to some people to whom they aren’t usually kind: one boy said he would be kind to his brother! I asked, “Aren’t you usually kind?” “No.” he replied. It was a start!
You now know who your neighbor is.
Will you be as kind as even the Samaritan was to the beaten man?

Day 4 Jesus Heals 10 Lepers
Luke 17: 11-19; our Power Launcher was “Go beyond with Thankfulness!” Say it!
We learned that there was a big difference between leopards-big cats with spots- and lepers- people with horrible skin diseases. We also learned it would be nicer to call them people with leprosy instead of “lepers.”
Their skin disease made people afraid to eat with them, come close to them, or touch them. They were quarantine in colonies outside of town. But when they saw Jesus, they wondered if he might heal them like he healed others. To be considered clean, a priest had to examine their skin and pronounce them clean. Jesus told them to show themselves to a priest, implying that their skin would be better almost immediately. Nine left, but one stayed. Why? To thank Jesus for healing him. “Where are the other 9?” Jesus asked. He really knew. In our age and his age, only 1 out of 10 people remember to express thanks in more than a word. Giving thanks takes intention and action. The children wrote thank you notes to people they wanted to thank for things. They were instructed to not just put the note in their backpack, but to hand it or mail it to the person. It is good training and a good practice. Jesus only gave a blessing to the one who expressed thankfulness. Go and do likewise to receive your blessings because of your thankfulness.

Finally, Day 5: Jesus Comforts Friends on the Way to Emmaus; Luke 24: 13-35
Our Power Launcher was “Go Beyond with Hope!” Say it with me.
The boys and girls learned what happened in Jerusalem to Jesus on a cross, and how his body was laid in a tomb (a cave-like place) and after 3 days women came to bring spices and fragrance to honor Jesus’ body in his death, and they found his body gone! He had risen from the dead! Where did he go?
One place we learned he went was to a road outside of Jerusalem that led to the village of Emmaus. He started talking to two disciples who didn’t recognize him.
I told them that happens in grief sometimes, people don’t recognize others through their tears. They finally recognized him in the breaking of the bread- a motion that he made many times when he was with them.
The lesson we learned is that nothing is impossible. They saw their Savior risen from the dead because with God, nothing is impossible.
I told the children that our daughter Jenny teaches her son Marshall, who was at Bible School with us, to never say he can’t do something. Instead he is taught to say, “I need some help.” What a wonderful retraining from our times of saying “I can’t” or “God can’t” do something! If only people in the midst of despair, or feeling hopeless, would find the hopeful of words of asking: “I need some help;” or “with God nothing is impossible” before they do something quite irreversible like taking one’s own life. We taught the boys and girls to have hope, because the disciples didn’t think Jesus could rise from the dead; but he did! Whether they can’t tie a shoe, or work a puzzle, or pass a test, they can say “I need some help,” instead of saying, “I can’t do it.” They learned how to have hope again. And today, you learned how too! A visit with boys and girls can be trying one instance and rewarding the next. We hope the lessons we taught were a blessing for you today.
Jeffrey A. Sumner June 23, 2019