Once upon a time, there was a king, who ruled over a vast kingdom,
the largest ever. He was a good and kind king, who had a special dream
about what he could do for his people even before there were any.
You know there was a time long, long ago when there were no people.
The Bible says so.
Before he even had made people, the good king made the earth, the
sky and air and weather and seasons. He made the oceans and seas.
He made fish and big creatures that live in the oceans, like whales,
and land animals and birds and plants for them to eat. So then when
the earth was ready he made the first two humans and named them Adam
and Eve. He made a beautiful place for them to live, called the Garden
of Eden. Just like your parents do for you children now, the king
looked after Adam and Eve and always tried to help them, giving them
food and care and lots of love. If they needed anything at all they
could just ask him for it and he would give it to them if it was best
for them. The king called it prayer when people came to him asking
But Adam and Eve committed a serious sin of disobedience so he made
them leave the Garden of Eden and work hard for a living in the world.
They had some tough times. Adam and Eve had children and their children
had children and the number of people in the world grew. They had
to work hard, mostly as farmers in hard, rocky land and raising animals
like goats and sheep. And it was hot in that part of the world in
summer and pretty cold and rainy during the winter.
As many years passed, the king knew his people were naughty sometimes.
But he tried to forgive them when they were unkind or hurt each other
or did something else wrong. That included kids being mean and lazy
and disobeying their parents. He even gave the people rules in which
he tried to teach them to love each other and get along and be kind
and helpful. To remind them about how important the rules were he
wrote them on big stones. He called the rules the Ten Commandments.
But most of his people wouldn't listen to him and obey the rules.
They lied, and cheated and even worse. Some even used his name to
say bad things about each other, especially when they were angry and
quarreling. That was called cursing and swearing, which is pretty
bad. The more they did these nasty things the more angry and unhappy
they became and the more they tried to hurt one another, sometimes
even hitting each other with clubs and knives.
You see, the good king had wanted to have a special place for his
people where they would live with him forever and be happy after their
lives on earth were over. But he was sad and disappointed at how they
misbehaved. It seemed like he was going to chase them away, too, like
Adam and Eve. He even threatened to make them suffer a lot of pain
forever in a place where all the bad people went when they left earth
and it was dark and hot there. Even people who tried to behave themselves
would have to go there and suffer like that and the worst of it was
they would all be completely separated from the good king. Imagine
what it would be like to be separated from your mom or dad or grandmas
and grandpas who love you so much and you would never see them again.
How sad you would be.
But the king's only son didn't like that idea. He wanted to save all
the people from that happening. Maybe he thought that really it didn't
seem fair that if people try to be good and love the king and obey
his rules and respect their parents and help others should suffer
One day, the king and his son, who he loved very much, thought of
another plan to keep such a terrible thing from happening. It would
be a great plan for sinners like us who do some naughty things once
in awhile if when they leave earth at the end of their lives they
could go to this happy place where angels and the king and his son
also live. But certain things would have to be done first. For one
thing, the son would have to have a very extra-special love for the
people of the earth to make it work.
The reason why I say a special love for the people is because the
son would have to come to earth and die a very painful death. His
dying like this would make up for all the sins of men and women and
boys and girls. The Father promised the son that he would make him
alive again after three days of death. Even so, can you imagine loving
people so much you would be willing to die for them?
Another part of God's plan was that only sinners who have faith, in
other words who believe in God, could go to this wondrous, special,
place when they leave this earth. As you have probably heard from
your parents at home, in the Bible or in Children's Church, God calls
this awesome place Heaven.
God the Father's son could have skipped that pain and death and could
have been happy with his dad forever. But he loved you and me and
all people so much he was willing to leave his place with his dad
and come to earth as a human being. Part of the plan was to live with
human parents for thirty years in a little town called Nazareth in
Israel. Then he would walk around in many places in that dry country
and work very hard in heat and cold to tell many stories and give
lessons to many, many people about how they should live, and work
and be kind and love others. Then he would die on the cross for us
sinners to we can go to Heaven, if we believe in God and try to live
like he wants us to. So Jesus did all this for us.
Now we don't have to be like saints all the time-no one can be like
that. We all do things wrong once in awhile, even when we don't want
to. Maybe we don't obey our parents, or don't treat them right, or
lie, or say things that hurt the feelings of our friends. Or maybe
we don't get our homework done like we should. There are lots of ways
to be bad, aren't there? When we are, the important thing is to talk
to God in prayer, say we're sorry and ask for his help. In the prayer,
the Our Father, we say, "lead us not into temptation." So
God can give us extra help in doing the right thing when we are tempted
and want to do the wrong thing. There's a name for that help from
God: it's called grace. We don't deserve grace, but it's a free gift
God gives if we ask for it and just try to live like he wants us to.
And you know what? Reading the Bible is one of the best ways in trying
to be good and have a holier life. It's full of great ideas on how
to live the way God wants us to. You know, he is the one who thought
of writing this book. I often thought that if there was only one book
I could have-maybe if I was in a shipwreck and on an island by myself
someplace in the middle of an ocean-it would be the Bible. Why? It's
so interesting. It's full of God's thoughts and acts and good ideas
for happiness at home and school and wherever we live. It not only
tells us how to live right but is full of stories about how God created
his kingdom, about the wise words and exciting birth in Bethlehem
and life of his son, Jesus Christ, who rose from the dead and saved
us from suffering forever. It also tells tales of great heroes, men
and women who God created and chose to travel around and tell everyone
about him and how we can live with him after we leave earth.
The Bible shows that Jesus and his father are God Almighty. Jesus
did many miracles that only God could do and an ordinary man could
not. His rising from the dead is only one of them, a very big one.
Other examples were bringing other people back from the dead, walking
on water, telling big storms to calm down, changing water into wine
to help out a married couple and curing people of all kinds of terrible
sickness even without pills or doctors or hospitals. A young boy helped
Jesus do one miracle by giving him a few fishes and loaves of bread
and Jesus made it become enough fishes and loaves to feed thousands
of hungry people.
That just shows how powerful God is in ruling over the entire huge
universe all around us. The universe is our earth and all the planets
and stars and other bodies in the sky that we can see and others we
can't see because they are so far away it would take us years and
years in the fastest airplanes or space ships to visit them. Isn't
it amazing that God could make a whole universe? The average person
would have enough trouble making one house or a car. We can't even
create one blade of grass or one grain of sand, God does.
Another thing to remember is that Jesus just loved people like us
so much. He had a big heart for the poor and sick and people who didn't
have any friends and we should try to be like that, too. But Jesus
especially loved children. The Bible tells us that one time some kids
wanted to come and talk with him and his friends tried to keep them
away. But Jesus didn't like that and made them let the children come
and talk with him. He told them adults should be more like children
and he said something bad would happen to adults who harm kids. You
might see paintings showing him with little children on his lap and
he's hugging them. You'll get some of those hugs from Jesus in heaven
some day, and from God, his father, too. We actually have two fathers
because the father of Jesus is our father, too, and we are his children,
even grown up people like me.
So keep in mind that God the Father loves you and so does his son,
Jesus Christ. Jesus proved it by dying on the cross for us. That opened
the doors of Heaven for us to live forever with them and our Christian
parents and relatives and friends forever. Think about it; it's sure
lots of fun with family and friends now, especially on birthdays and
Christmas time. But there are going to be even greater times when
we are all in Heaven and that will be so different. It'll be sort
of like a birthday party every day. We won't have sickness or pain
or sad, unhappy days that make us cry ever again. Just good times
of joy and laughter and singing songs together that tell how great
our God is and how we love him and he loves us.