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LESSONS FOR THE LITTLE ONES.*
THE GOOD SHEPHERD. "I am the Good Shepherd: the Good Shepherd giveth His life for the sheep."John X. 11. DEAR children, this is the first Sunday of the new year, and I am pleased to see you all present. I think, in connection with the day, we cannot take a better subject than that of the “Good Shepherd, that giveth His life for the sheep.”
Do you know who said this ?—(Jesus Christ.)
Yes; Jesus Christ calls Himself a shepherd.
Who do you think are His sheep ?(We.)
Yes; I hope we are. He is quite willing to be our Shepherd, if we are willing to be His sheep.
But now you know Jesus is speaking a kind of parable in the words we have just read. He means to teach us something about His love and kindness, by comparing Himself to a shepherd and His people to sheep.
Sheep are very helpless animals, and want more looking after than almost any other animal that we keep for our use. They must always have plenty of grass and plenty of water. But, besides this, they can never be left very long to themselves, or it is pretty sure one or other of them will have got into trouble. Perhaps one will have rolled over on its back, and not be able to get up again. Or else one may have got caught by its wool in a hedge, and not be able to get loose.
Do any of you remember a story in the Bible about a ram that was caught by its horns in a thicket ? Whom did the angel of the Lord tell to go and take it, and offer it for a sacrifice instead of his own son ?-(Abraham.)
Yes. Then another way in which sheep are troublesome is, that if they get out of the place they are put into, they are very stupid about finding their
way back. The shepherd must go and look for them, and bring them back. There are many passages in the Bible that speak about this.
One more thing that makes sheep want looking after is that they are very easily worried and killed by any fierce animal that gets among them. In the country where our Lord Jesus lived there were wolves; and if a shepherd boy was put to mind the sheep, he might happen some day to see a wolf trying to steal into the fold. Our Lord says that if this were to happen the boy would be afraid of the wolf, and, instead of saving the sheep from him, he would run away to save himself.
The boy would do this because the sheep did not belong to him ; he was only paid for looking after them. If the man to whom the sheep belonged saw the wolf coming, he would not run away, but would stay and try to keep the wolf out of the fold.
Now do any of you know who is said in the Bible to be like a roaring lion ?(The devil.)
Yes. And our Lord says that Satan is like a wolf trying to catch sheep.
Now, if we are like poor silly, helpless sheep, and Satan is like a strong, fierce wolf, how can we be kept safe from him? We must have a shepherd to take care of us, and our shepherd must be- - ? (Jesus Christ.)
The Lord Jesus is far, far stronger than the devil; and as long as we listen to His voice, and follow Him, Satan cannot hurt us.
Well now we have talked of the first part of the text. Tell me the second part of it.—("The Good Shepherd giveth His life for the sheep.")
Jesus is not only a shepherd, but the Good Shepherd. He is not a shepherd that would leave his sheep when danger came. He loves His sheep. They are His own.
* These four capital lessons for the little ones have unfortunately been overlooked, or they would have appeared sooner. We value “S. B.”'s contributions too highly not to desire to hear oftener from her. The index question is discussed in “ Teachers in Council."Editor.
If a shepherd were to let the wolf kill him rather than let it hurt the sheep, shouldn't you say he was a very good, kind shepherd, and loved his sheep ?(Yes.)
Well, the Lord Jesus gave His life for His sheep. Think how kind this was ! In order that the devil might not have your souls, and make them miserable for ever in hell, Jesus Christ suffered Himself to be nailed to the cross, and put to death. He would not stay up in heaven with God His Father and all the holy angels; but He came and lived in this world with sinful men, and after a life full of hardships and sorrows He suffered a cruel death. And all this was because He was the Good Shepherd; and so He gave His life for the sheep.
Now, dear children, I want you all to love this good, kind Jesus. If you ask Him, He will make you be like obedient sheep; He will make you good and happy. It grieves Him when little children leave His fold and wander away ; I mean when they will be naughty, and say and do things which they know are bad. But, even if you have been bad, Jesus is like a good shepherd that goes to look after the sheep that have strayed. He is calling you now to come back to Him. Listen to His gentle voice when you hear it in your heart.
Think how dreadful it would be to grow up to be bad men and women, and when you die to be miserable for ever. And think how happy you may be, if you have Jesus Christ for your Shepherd, and are His good little lambs now, and follow Him like His sheep when you grow up. Then you will not be afraid to die, for you will know that you are going to the fold above, where all who love Jesus Christ will be safe and happy for ever. The blessed Saviour will be always with you, and no wicked spirit can ever come near that fold harm you any more.
THE VALUE OF SPARROWS. " Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows."- Matt. x. 31. It is the Lord Jesus Christ who said these words to His disciples. He says them to you and to me in the Bible. They are very kind words. Say the first three words of the text again.(“Fear
not.”) Yes, that means, Don't be afraid. I dare say you all know very well what it is to feel afraid. Some little children feel afraid if they are in the dark; some feel afraid if they have to go an errand quite alone.
Now Jesus Christ knows that it is very uncomfortable and disagreeable to feel afraid ; so He says very kindly, Don't be afraid : " Fear ye not." Next time you are inclined to be frightened, remember these words, and try and think you hear Jesus saying to you, “ Fear not."
But what is the reason that children feel afraid in the dark, or when alone ? It is because they feel as if there was nobody to take care of them. Now Jesus knows all our feelings, and He knows that children, and grown-up people too, if they are in any real danger, want to feel that some one is taking care of them. So He does not only say, “ Fear ye not,” but He gives a reason why we need not fear. The reason is, that we “are of more value--? (than many sparrows.")
Now I must tell you what Jesus Christ said about the little sparrows just before this. He said that a sparrow was such a common little bird that nobody thought much of it, and that you might buy a couple of sparrows for almost nothing. You all know that, don't you? But Jesus Christ also says that one of them does not fall to the ground without our heavenly Father. If you look at
little bird's wings, you will see how beautifully every feather is made. No man can make anything so beautiful, so strong, and yet so light. I hope you will all be kind to the little birds. If God notices when a sparrow falls to the ground, you may be sure His eye is upon any child
Son Jesus Christ to save sinners. And every one that goes to Jesus Christ, and asks to be washed in His blood, and to be made good by His Holy Spirit coming into the heart, may be joyful and happy here, and yet more so for ever hereafter.
Now if God loved you so much as to give His Son to die for you, how much more will He take care of you ! Try, therefore, dear children, and whenever you feel frightened, think about God, and remember that He is near you, and that He is taking care of you : try and remember the words, " Fear ye not; ye are of more value than many sparrows."
who is cruel enough to throw stones at them, or hurt or kill them, for mere “ fun” as it is called.
But we must go back to the lesson of our text. You see the Lord Jesus Christ tells us not to be afraid. And the reason He gives is that we “are of more value than-? (many sparrows.”)
It is as if He would say, “If God looks after the little birds, and takes care of them, you may feel quite sure He is looking after you, and taking care of you."
What is the great difference between the birds and us?--(They haven't got souls.)
Yes, that is a wonderful difference. God has given them bodies, beautifully and wonderfully made ; but the little birds have no souls. Our bodies will die, just as the little sparrows die ; but our souls do not die. Some day, our bodies will rise up out of their graves, and be joined again to our souls ; and body and soul will live for ever and
Those who have been good will be very happy for ever and ever; and those who have been wicked will be dreadfully miserable and unhappy for ever and ever.
What a difference between us and the sparrows! when a little sparrow dies, there is an end of it: it will never live again. So you see why the Lord Jesus says we are of more value than many sparrows.
God is very kind to the little birds ; He feeds them, and takes care of them. But He does a great deal more for you. He feeds you, and takes care of you ; and above all He shows His great love for your soul. If God had let us alone, we could only have been miserable for ever. Only good people can be happy, and live in heaven when they rise again. Is there anybody in the world who has been always quite good, and never thought, or said, or done anything wrong in all his life ?-(No.)
Have any of you children been quite good always ?-(No.)
And yet God says only good and holy people can live with Him in heaven. But, in His great love, He sent His dear
LOVE OF GOD. "I know you, that ye have not the love of God in you.”—John v. 42. This is a very sad text; but perhaps, if I explain it to you, you may find it is a useful text to think about. Say it over after me, all of you.
Now tell me the first three words again.-(" I know you.”)
Who do you think said, “I know you ”'?—(Jesus Christ.)
Yes, and He says it now to each of you little ones.
He knows your name, and where you live, and all about you. Your teachers know your names, and something about you; they know whether you come regularly to school, and whether you are well behaved there, and whether you are quiet or not at church, and whether you are attentive or not when they are teaching you. And if I were to go and ask the people who live next door to you, what sort of a child any one of you is, I dare say they could tell me a great deal about you, and whether you are on the whole good or naughty.
But there is something which your teachers cannot know, and which your neighbours cannot know, but which Jesus Christ knows.
Tell me again the three first words of the text.-("I know you.”)
Yes; now Jesus means, I know your heart; I know all you think about; I know all your feelings; I know all your
wishes. Is there anybody in the world who can look into your heart, and can tell all your thoughts ?-(No.)
But Jesus can; and when He said to the Jews “I know you,” He meant that He knew their thoughts and feelings.
Will you try and remember this ? Remember that when you feel naughty tempers and thoughts in you, Jesus knows they are there. Remember also that when you try to think about Jesus, and when you feel you wish very much to be good and holy, that Jesus knows those thoughts too. It is His Holy Spirit that gives you such thoughts; and He loves to see them in your heart.
we must talk about the other part of our verse. Let us say the whole of it once more.-("I know you, that ye have not the love of God in you.")
You see, when Jesus Christ looked into the hearts of the Jews, there was something He did not find there. What was it? He says,
6 Ye have not- - ? (the love of God in you.”)
How sad! there was no love of God in their hearts. God had shown great love to them. They were Jews, that is, Israelites ; and you know the Israelites were God's chosen people. God had very often spoken to them, and He had sent them many kind messages about His love. And now His own dear Son was come to tell them, more than ever, that God loved them; but they would not believe His kind words, and they did not love Him at all in return.
Why do you think they did not love God, who is so kind and good and loving? You do not know? It was because they loved sin. Nobody can really love God unless they hate sin, because God hates it.
Now, dear children, I want you each one to put this question to yourself, “ Is there any love of God in my heart ?" I can't see whether there is; but Jesus can.
Perhaps some of you think, I'm afraid I don't love God; I wish I did. Well then I will tell you what to do. Every day make this little prayer to God, "O God, teach me to love Thee, for Jesus Christ's sake."
The Lord Jesus Christ will hear your prayer; for you know He says,
- ? (“Suffer little children to come unto Me, and forbid them not.”) And another text says,
" Those that seek Me early shall find Me ;” which means that little children may learn to know and to love God.
Who is it that gives you everything you have ?—(God.)
Yes; if God did not make the corn grow, you would have no bread. If God had not made the coals and the wood, you could have no warm fires. If God did not take care of you every day, you could not live at all. God made the bright sun in the sky for us ; God made the pretty flowers for us; God made the nuts, and the blackberries, and all the wild things that little children like to gather and eat; God is doing you good all day long, and every day. And because God knew you could never get to heaven without Jesus Christ, He sent His dear Son down from heaven to-? (die on the cross for you).
And now Jesus Christ is living again in heaven, and getting a place ready for all the little children that love God. You would not like to think that when Jesus looks into your heart, He says, “I know you, that you have not(the love of God in you.”)
No, you want Him to say, "I see you are trying to love and to please God,” don't you ?-(Yes.)
Well then, dear children, do ask the good God to help you to love Him; and He will. And if you love God you are sure to be good and happy in this world, and to be happy for ever and ever hereafter.
TRUE CHRISTIAN GLADNESS.
“ Then were the disciples glad when they saw the Lord."-John xx. 20. It is very pleasant when something happens to us that makes us glad, isn't it? With those who love God, it is only good or innocent things happening that makes them feel glad. It was seeing the Lord Jesus Christ that made the disciples glad.
But, before we talk about this, I will tell you one or two stories out of the Bible, about bad people being made glad.
There was once a very wicked man, called Haman. He was very rich and great, and the king made him his friend and favourite. One day the queen invited him to come with the king to a feast that she had prepared. At the end of the feast the queen asked him to come again with the king the next day. Haman was very proud of being the only man in the kingdom who had such honour done to him, and he went home to boast of it to his wife and friends, and “his heart was glad.” Haman did not love the God of Israel: therefore his gladness did not last long, for his wickedness was found out that very night, and he was put to death.
And now we will talk of some other wicked men who were once made “glad.”.
Which of the apostles was a bad man? -(Judas Iscariot.)
What did he do that was wicked ?(He betrayed Jesus Christ.)
Yes. The chief priests wanted to get hold of our Lord when He was alone; and Judas said that if they would give him some money he would come and lead them to where Jesus was.
And the Bible says that when they heard Judas say this, they were “glad.” They had long hated the Lord Jesus, and wanted to kill Him; but they never had been able to take Him, because the people crowded round Him to be healed and taught, and they were afraid of the people. But now, when one of Jesus' own apostles came and promised to show them where they could find Him, and take Him prisoner, without the people being near, their wicked hearts were
Now, dear children, let us talk about the people who were glad in our text. Say it again.-" Then were," etc.)
Who were glad ?-(The disciples.)
When were they glad ?—(When they saw the Lord.)
Do any of you know when the dis
ciples had last seen the Lord before this time ?—(They had last seen Him hanging dead upon the cross; and some of them had seen His dead body laid in a tomb.)
This had happened on the Friday ; and now, on the Sunday evening, they were talking together about it. Some of them said they thought, from all they heard, that Jesus was alive again; and some of them could not believe that it could be so. Suddenly the Lord Jesus Christ Himself stood in the midst of them. He spoke kind words to them : “Peace be unto you.” Then He showed them His hands.
What would they see on His hands ? -(The mark of the nails.)
Then He showed them His side. What would they see on His side ?(The mark of the spear.)
Yes. So when they saw these marks, they would feel quite sure that this was Jesus Christ Himself, their Master, who had been put to death, but who was now alive again.
How do people feel when any one dies whom they love ?-(Sorry, unhappy.)
Well, the disciples felt very sorry and very unhappy when they saw their kind, good Master suffer such a cruel death. Jesus had told them that He should rise again on the third day, but they had not understood or believed it. But now when saw His kind face again, and heard His kind words once more, and felt sure He really was alive again, they felt very glad. “Then were the disciples glad when
? (" they saw the Lord.”') Yes, it was seeing the Lord Jesus Christ that made them glad. Do you think it would make you glad to see Him ?-(Yes, teacher.)
[The teacher may here enlarge on matters that are apt to make a child glad.]
Now Jesus Christ is gone away for a time. But if you ask Him He will come and be in your hearts and teach you to know and to love Him, and this will make you happy ; and some day, we don't know when (perhaps it may be very soon), He will come down from