Day 1 (Monday)
So - after Cain killed Abel, things went from bad to worse. Adam and Eve died, and most of the people who came after them were wicked. After awhile, only Noah and his family remained righteous, so God sent a great flood to cleanse the earth and start again. After the Flood, Noah’s descendants quickly grew wicked again, but after many years, God called a man named Abram to leave his homeland of Ur (at the northern end of the Persian Gulf) and to go to the Promised Land. God told him that he would be the father of many nations. Along the way, Abram had many adventures, but he (almost) always trusted God, and he always repented when he messed up (see how important repentance is turning out to be?!). We find him here after he won a great victory against his enemies, but he still had no children, and he is starting to wonder how God will make him a father of many nations without any children of his own.
“1 After these things the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision, “Do not be afraid, Abram, I am your shield; your reward shall be very great.” 2 But Abram said, “O Lord God, what will you give me, for I continue childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?” 3 And Abram said, “You have given me no offspring, and so a slave born in my house is to be my heir.” 4 But the word of the Lord came to him, “This man shall not be your heir; no one but your very own issue shall be your heir.” 5 He brought him outside and said, “Look toward heaven and count the stars, if you are able to count them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your descendants be.” 6 And he believed the Lord; and the Lord reckoned it to him as righteousness.
7 Then he said to him, “I am the Lord who brought you from Ur of the Chaldeans, to give you this land to possess.” 8 But he said, “O Lord God, how am I to know that I shall possess it?” 9 He said to him, “Bring me a heifer three years old, a female goat three years old, a ram three years old, a turtledove, and a young pigeon.” 10 He brought him all these and cut them in two, laying each half over against the other; but he did not cut the birds in two. 11 And when birds of prey came down on the carcasses, Abram drove them away.
12 As the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell upon Abram, and a deep and terrifying darkness descended upon him. 13 Then the Lord[c] said to Abram, “Know this for certain, that your offspring shall be aliens in a land that is not theirs, and shall be slaves there, and they shall be oppressed for four hundred years; 14 but I will bring judgment on the nation that they serve, and afterward they shall come out with great possessions. 15 As for yourself, you shall go to your ancestors in peace; you shall be buried in a good old age. 16 And they shall come back here in the fourth generation; for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet complete.”
17 When the sun had gone down and it was dark, a smoking fire pot and a flaming torch passed between these pieces. 18 On that day the Lord made a covenant with Abram, saying, “To your descendants I give this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the river Euphrates, 19 the land of the Kenites, the Kenizzites, the Kadmonites, 20 the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Rephaim, 21 the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Girgashites, and the Jebusites.”
We won’t be reading more about Abraham for awhile, but we are going to go on to read about what happened to his descendants in Egypt starting next week. We stopped over here with Abraham for one week, though, to remind ourselves how we got from Cain and Abel to a whole nation being slaves in Egypt.
1) What was bothering Abram at the beginning of this reading? (He doesn’t have any children of his own, and he is wondering who will inherit God’s promises to him).
2) How does God answer him? (He tells him that he will have a child of his own, and tells him to look at the stars, because his descendants will be impossible to count, like the stars)
3) How does Abram respond to this? Does he believe God? (This is important; St. Paul references this in Hebrews. Abram believes/trusts God, and God counts that trust as righteousness)
4) What does God promise to Abram? (He promises him that his descendants will possess the land that Abram is a stranger in - this is the Promise that makes the land of Canaan the “Promised Land.”)
5) What does God do to give Abram assurance that his descendants will inherit the Promised Land? (He has Abram kill some animals and cut them in half - and then, after it gets dark, Abram sees a fiery torch and fire pot pass between the halves of the animals. You may need to re-read this a couple times for the kids to see what is happening…God tells Abram something else in between the cutting up of the animals and the fiery things passing between the halves. This is one way that a covenant, a promise would have been made. Passing between the two halves of the animals is a way to say that, if what I promised doesn’t happen, may what happened to these animals happen to me. So God is making His promise to Abram as clear as it can possibly be - and Abram believes Him).
6) What does God tell Abram will happen to his descendants for 400 years? (He tells him that they will be slaves for 400 years, but that after that God will deliver them).
7) Does God give a reason for the 400 year delay between the promise of the Promised Land and the fulfillment? (This is a little sneaky, and the kids may not catch it. When God says “the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet complete,” He is saying that the people who live in the Promised Land are going to become horribly wicked, but that they haven’t reached that point of wickedness yet. He isn’t going to give their land to Israel until their sins reach that point. At that time, the normal life and worship of these Amorites will involve the regular killing of infants and children to sacrifice to their idols - that is the time that God is going to kick them out and give their land to the descendants of Abram).
Day 2 (Wednesday)
Saint Demetrios the Great-Martyr
This is a brief life of St. Demetrios from https://www.johnsanidopoulos.com/2010/10/holy-great-martyr-demetrios-of.html
“This glorious and wonderworking saint was born in Thessalonica of noble and devout parents. Implored of God by childless parents, Demetrius was their only son, and so was raised and educated with great care. Demetrius's father was a commander in Thessalonica.
When his father died, Emperor Maximian appointed Demetrius as commander in his place. As he appointed him, Maximian, an opponent of Christ, particularly recommended that he persecute and exterminate the Christians in Thessalonica. Demetrius not only disobeyed the emperor but openly confessed and preached the Lord Jesus Christ in the city of Thessalonica. When the emperor heard of this he became furious with Demetrius. Then, when he was returning from battle against the Sarmatians, Maximian stopped at Thessalonica to investigate the matter.
The emperor summoned Demetrius and questioned him about his faith. Demetrius openly acknowledged his Christian Faith to the emperor and also denounced the emperor's idolatry. Maximian cast Demetrius into prison. Knowing what was awaiting him, Demetrius gave all his goods to his faithful servant Louppos to distribute to the poor, and joyfully awaited his imminent suffering for Christ the Lord.
An angel of God appeared to him in prison, saying: "Peace be to you, O sufferer of Christ; be brave and be strong!" After several days, the emperor sent soldiers to the prison to kill Demetrius. The soldiers found the saint of God at prayer and ran him through with lances. Christians secretly took his body and honorably buried it. Healing myrrh flowed from the body of the martyr of Christ, curing many of the sick. Soon, a small church was built over his relics.
An Illyrian nobleman, Leontius, was afflicted with an incurable illness. He hastened, with prayer to the relics of St. Demetrius and was completely healed. In thanksgiving, Leontius erected a much larger church on the site of the old church. The saint appeared to him on two occasions.
When Emperor Justinian wanted to translate the relics of the saint from Thessalonica to Constantinople, flaming sparks sprang from the tomb and a voice was heard: "Stop, and do not touch!" And thus, the relics of St. Demetrius have remained for all time in Thessalonica.
As the protector of Thessalonica, St. Demetrius has appeared many times, and on many occasions has saved Thessalonica from great calamity. His miracles are without number.
1) Were Demetrios’ parents Christians? How can you tell? (It says they were devout, and that they “implored God” for him)
2) What job did Demetrios’ father have? (He was a commander, we can assume in the army)
3) How did Demetrios become the commander? (The emperor appointed him commander when his father died)
4) What job did the emperor tell him to do as commander? (He told him to find and to kill the Christians in Thessalonica)
5) What did Demetrios do? (He confessed and preached Christ, which means he said in public that he trusted in Jesus Christ, and told the people about him)
6) What did the emperor do then? (He came back, and questioned Demetrios, and when Demetrios refused to renounce Christ, and instead condemned the emperor and his worship of idols, the emperor threw him in prison, and after several days he had him killed).
7) What happened after the emperor had Demetrios killed? (The Christians came and took his body and buried it with honor; after some time a Church was built over his relics. Myrrh from God flowed from his body, and many people were healed, both then, and over the centuries until now. The myrrh is still flowing, and has a sweet and heavenly fragrance, and God still works miracles through the prayers of St. Demetrios).
Day 3 (Friday)
Last week we saw Jesus in Capernaum, preaching and healing and casting out demons. He stayed there for a little while, and one day, He went out to the shore of the Sea of Galilee nearby and was preaching to a crowd there. Let’s see what happened.
“Once while Jesus[a] was standing beside the lake of Gennesaret, and the crowd was pressing in on him to hear the word of God, 2 he saw two boats there at the shore of the lake; the fishermen had gone out of them and were washing their nets. 3 He got into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, and asked him to put out a little way from the shore. Then he sat down and taught the crowds from the boat. 4 When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into the deep water and let down your nets for a catch.” 5 Simon answered, “Master, we have worked all night long but have caught nothing. Yet if you say so, I will let down the nets.” 6 When they had done this, they caught so many fish that their nets were beginning to break. 7 So they signaled their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both boats, so that they began to sink. 8 But when Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, “Go away from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man!” 9 For he and all who were with him were amazed at the catch of fish that they had taken; 10 and so also were James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. Then Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching people.” 11 When they had brought their boats to shore, they left everything and followed him.”
1) What happened when Jesus was preaching on the seashore? (The crowd gathered close, and was pressing so close, they were pushing Him into the water)
2) What did Jesus do? Did He go stand on the water? (Not exactly - he asked Simon if He could preach from his boat while he was cleaning his fishing nets.)
3) Have we met this Simon before? (Sort of - Jesus went to his house and healed his mother-in-law in the reading we had last week. This Simon is the one that Jesus gave a nickname to - He told him he was like a rock, so we still call him Petros, or Peter).
4) What happened after Jesus finished preaching? (He told Simon to take the boat out into the deeper water and to let down the nets to fish).
5) What did Simon say about this? (He told Jesus that they had been fishing all night and hadn’t caught anything…but then he did what Jesus said even though he thought it sounded silly)
6) What happened? (They caught so many fish that the boat started to sink, and they had to get help from their partners)
7) What did Simon say to Jesus then? (He asked Him to go away, because he was a sinful man, he said - this means that Simon realized that Jesus was a holy man, or maybe even that He was God, and he knew that he was unworthy to have the Lord God with him)
8) What did Jesus say to that? (He told him not to worry, but that He was going to give Simon a new job, to catch people instead of fish, and to bring them into the kingdom of Heaven).
9) What happened at the end of the story? (Simon, and his partners James and John, and his brother Andrew, although we don’t talk about him here by name, left their boats and their nets and their fish and their work and went to follow Jesus and be His disciples)