A Prayer for the First Day of School

Boy with backpackHeavenly Father, merciful Lord,

We’re beginning a new school year, one unlike any other. Only You in Your infinite knowledge could have seen how 2020 would unfold. As children return to class, we trust You for protection, guidance, and peace for this new school year.

We pray for students. Whether learning on campus or at home, please bless them. Keep them safe and healthy. Ease their adjustment into the routines of school after a long break. Fill their minds with knowledge and their hearts with a love for learning. Please also help them to build friendships and have fun – to be kids and enjoy the innocence of childhood, even in a troubled world.

We pray for parents. Please ease their anxiety. Give them complete assurance that their children are in Your hands. As parents once again juggle work, home life, and school, help them to achieve healthy rhythms for themselves and their families.

We pray for teachers. Teaching was already challenging, and now teachers have even more to keep in mind. Relieve their stress. Preserve them from feelings of overload. Give them joy as they carry out their high calling. Make their homes places of comfort and rest, so that they may be renewed daily.

We pray for administrators. They’ve had so many big decisions to make. Give them wisdom. Grant them peace in their decisions. We ask for grace to be shown to all leaders who strive to serve well.

We pray for those who work with technology. Their role is more important than ever, especially for at-home learning. Give them insight and skills to solve problems and maintain effective systems.

We pray for Christian schools. Along with instilling knowledge about our world, they also are proclaiming spiritual truths. Shine the light of Christ brightly through all Christian schools.

We cling to Your Word, which says: “He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. … For he will deliver you from the snare of the fowler and from the deadly pestilence.” (Psalm 91:1, 3)

O Lord, our Deliverer, our Savior – our hope is in You. Please bless this new school year.

In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Is God Responsible for Satan’s Evil?

C8A148CC-CB52-4B3C-AD4A-521E73395049Today’s tough question:

“If God is omniscient and created Satan knowing ahead of time that Satan would become evil, does that not make God responsible for all of Satan’s evil?”

Let’s affirm some things the Bible teaches about God.

First, God is all powerful. “Ah, Lord God! It is you who have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and by your outstretched arm! Nothing is too hard for you.” (Jeremiah 32:17)

Second, God is all knowing.You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways. Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O Lord, you know it altogether.” (Psalm 139:3-4)

Third, God is purely and completely good.God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all.” (1 John 1:5)

Does knowing that Satan would be evil make God responsible for Satan’s evil? Let me ask: Does knowing that you and I would sin make God responsible for our sins?

God created angels and humans with the ability to make choices. Every good choice is a reflection of His goodness. Every bad choice is a denial of His goodness. For every good thing, to God be the glory. For every evil thing, the blame falls on the perpetrator, whether human or angelic.

Satan is a fallen angel. God created Satan to be good. Known in heaven as Lucifer (Isaiah 14:13-14), the devil’s ego got the best of him. He rebelled against God and was cast to the earth. Jesus said, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven.” (Luke 10:18)

Did God know all of that would happen? Yes, God knows everything. Is God responsible? No. God is never the author of evil.

As I pondered this question, a word came to mind: risk. God is a risk taker. Every time He creates a living being, He takes a risk that things will go sour. Yet He continues to take that risk. Every time a baby is born, it’s possible the baby will grow up to be another Hitler. Or the baby could grow up to be another Billy Graham, preaching the Gospel to millions.

Something we need to remember: God is never on the hot seat. His hand is never caught in a cosmic cookie jar. He’s never busted in a “gotcha” moment. He never slips up.

We do. That’s why the key question about Satan’s existence is not “How is God implicated?” but “How do we resist the devil’s evil schemes?”

Key point: Jesus defeated the devil on the cross. Our job is not to defeat him. That has been accomplished. Our job is to resist him. With God’s help, we can.

We resist Satan aided by our all-knowing, all-powerful, perfectly loving God. God does see around every corner, and so He sees Satan’s tricks before the devil tries to pull them. The Lord goes before us into battle. Through faith in Jesus, God prepares us spiritually for the attacks of the evil one.

“Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.” (Ephesians 6:11)

Previous tough question:

Will We See Our Pets in Heaven?

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Will We See Our Pets in Heaven?

968DD525-EE14-4CA2-93A1-39E759D7DB4FToday’s tough question:

“Will we be re-united with our pets in heaven?”

As a big-time dog lover, I sure hope so!

From my research, the Bible doesn’t discuss the immaterial/non-physical part of our pets after death. I’d be overjoyed to arrive in heaven and find my dogs sitting next to the Master. Certainly, the heart longs for such things.

The Bible teaches that Jesus is the only way to heaven. How that would work for pets, I’m not sure.┬áLet me put it this way: When we reach heaven, we will see that God is perfectly just and righteous in all of His decisions. We will have no objections to what we encounter in heaven. None whatsoever.

Rather than tell us about how we are to view animals after they die, God’s Word tells us how to treat animals while they’re alive. This verse is wonderful: “The righteous care for the needs of their animals, but the kindest acts of the wicked are cruel.” (Proverbs 12:10 NIV)

God entrusted His animal kingdom to our care. “Have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on earth.” (Genesis 1:28 ESV) We are stewards of all creation, including animals. When you’re a loving master to a pet, you’re obeying the Lord’s command in Genesis 1, exercising proper dominion.

The Bible tells us that God pays attention to animals. No animal is too small or too numerous to escape his notice. Jesus said, “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father.” (Matthew 10:29)

When the Bible depicts a new earth after Jesus’ second coming, the description includes animals. Previewing God’s perfect kingdom, Isaiah wrote, “The wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the young goat, and the calf and the lion and the fattened calf together; and a little child shall lead them. The cow and the bear shall graze; their young shall lie down together; and the lion shall eat straw like the ox.” (Isaiah 11:6-7)

Behind today’s tough question lies another question: How do I grieve for a pet? This can be an awkward question. You may not feel that you’re supposed to grieve over an animal the way you do over a human.

Tell that to the tears and heartache! “Supposed to” and reality don’t always match up. Some of the most intense emotions I’ve ever experienced were feelings of grief over the death of my family’s dogs.

Allowing yourself to grieve is the healthiest way to process sadness. And losing a pet is sad. Grief has its own timetable. You grieve as long as you grieve. In the middle of the grief, you can thank God for the years He gave you with your pet.

In all grief, God is our comfort. “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.” (Psalm 34:18)

Eventually, as time brings a measure of healing, we embrace a new season. Our journey continues. In His kindness, God will bring new joys, new opportunities, maybe even a new furry friend that you can enjoy.

Previous tough question: Was God Less Merciful in the Old Testament?