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Adventures in Odyssey

Welcome to Your Easter Devotions!

Week 1 — Salvation

This Week’s Verse:

“There are many rooms in my Father’s house. If this were not true, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you.” (John 14:2)

Recently, Adventures in Odyssey fan Payton H. described what would be the perfect day for her. She mentioned a trip to New Zealand, roller coasters, and “my favorite movie star feeding me watermelon.” What would be the perfect day for you? Unlimited ice cream? A day at the beach?

As good as all those things are, being in heaven will be so much better than any of that. In fact, we can’t even imagine the joy we’ll experience in heaven. First Corinthians 2:9 says, “no eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has known what God has prepared for those who love him.”

We don’t know exactly what it will be like in heaven, but we’re given a few clues in the Bible. Revelation 5 talks about hearing the voices of singing angels. Revelation 21 tells us that there will be no more crying or death or pain. But the best thing about heaven will be the presence of God. In fact, Revelation 22 tells us that there won’t even be a need for the sun in heaven, because God will be bright enough to light up the whole place.

People often wonder if heaven is going to be boring. When it comes down to it, heaven does sound a lot like never-ending church. Church is nice, but all day, every day? And for eternity? Wow. That’s a lot of singing. But the problem is probably our lack of imagination.

Ginny was a woman who had been blind since birth. She described a weird life because she had no concept of what anything looked like. She could feel things like clothes and faces and grass, but she had no idea what colors were. Ginny had no idea what
green meant. But imagine if there were a miracle, and she was able to see. Suddenly, she would be able to understand how wonderful and beautiful the world is. That could be the way it will be when we go to heaven. We can’t imagine what pure joy will be like because we’ve never felt it. We have no concept of perfection because we’ve never seen it. And when we do, we’ll see just how wonderful and beautiful heaven is.

Salvation entitles us to the best gift ever: to be with Jesus in heaven for eternity.

Week 1 Challenge: 
Draw a picture or describe with words what you think heaven will be like. Then ask your family what they think it will be like.

Week 2 — Discipleship

This Week’s Verse:

“I keep every thought under control in order to make it obey Christ.” (2 Corinthians 10:5) 

In the Adventures in Odyssey episode “The Fundamentals” (Album 21), Phil McFarland thought he knew everything about playing basketball. He wouldn’t let the coach correct his shooting style. Then Phil played against Rusty Gordon, who blocked all of Phil’s shots. Finally, Phil asked for help and learned to become a better player. 

When we obey God and take correction from those who are wiser in His ways than we are, we become better disciples of Jesus. Our lives honor Him, and everyone’s a lot better off. 

Even Jesus, the greatest of all, was obedient when He lived on earth. Just think about how wise and powerful He is! He’s the Word of God who created the universe (John 1:1-3). He did so many wonderful things while He was here that John said the whole world couldn’t hold enough books to tell about them all (John 21:25). That’s some power! 

But even though He had all that power, Jesus still obeyed His parents. Remember when He was twelve? Mary and Joseph found Him in the temple talking with the Jewish teachers. Jesus wanted to be in His Father’s house, but he returned to Nazareth when His parents asked Him to (Luke 2:41-52). 

More important, Jesus, who is the God the Son, obeyed God the Father. That meant dying for our sins on the cross. In the garden of Gethsemane, Jesus prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, take this cup of suffering away from me. But let what you want be done, not what I want” (Matthew 26:39). He was willing to obey His Father even if it meant dying on the cross! 

Being a disciple of Jesus means becoming like Him in obedience. Jesus said, “If you love me, you will obey what I command” (John14:15). If you trust that God loves you and knows what He’s doing, you’ll honor Him by obeying His Word. You’ll also obey the people He has placed in authority over you, especially your parents. Jesus, the greatest of all, obeyed. And now you have the joy of obeying Him. 

Week 2 Challenge: Think about one way you could learn to obey God more completely. Talk with your parents about it. Ask them for advice on how to obey better. Ask God to help you improve in this area. At the end of the week, talk with your parents again and see how well you did.

Week 3 — Prayer

This Week’s Verse:
“I told the people not to eat any food. In that way, we made ourselves low in the sight of God. We prayed that he would give us and our children a safe journey.” (Ezra 8:21) 

Have you ever made New Year’s resolutions? Have you ever made one where you had to give up something? Potato chips? Television? Video games? Do you ever get to the point on January 5th where you can think only about potato chips? 

Have you ever made a New Year’s resolution that you knew you could keep, just so you could say that you kept one? “I’m going to give up wrestling with my brother … on Thursdays … between 4:00 and 6:00 PM … unless he starts it.” 

Fasting means giving up something for a period of time. Giving up something that’s hard to give up is one of the points of fasting. It’s about sacrifice. When most people think of fasting, the think of fasting from food. Jesus fasted in the wilderness for forty days after He was baptized (and before He battled with Satan). He probably did this because He knew He had a big job in front of Him. He was beginning His ministry. So, He prayed and fasted to get ready for what lay ahead. However, fasting doesn’t always involve giving up food. A lot of times, it means giving up something that competes for your time with God. 

In the Adventures in Odyssey episode “Fast as I Can” (Album 52), Matthew gave up computers because he thought he was spending too much time with them. Eugene gave up showing off because he thought he might be too proud of his intellect. Connie gave up primping because she thought she might be too concerned about her appearance. And Wooton gave up junk food because he knew he had bad eating habits. 

Sacrificing things isn’t the only point of fasting, however. The stuff you’re giving up should be replaced with better stuff. Whenever Wooton thought about junk food, he said a little prayer for someone. This is a great way to concentrate on God during a fast. In the Bible, people fasted when they had something important coming up. The people in the early church fasted before they appointed leaders. Acts 14:23 says, “Paul and Barnabas appointed elders for [the people] in each church. The elders had trusted in the Lord. Paul and Barnabas prayed and fasted. They placed the elders in the Lord’s care.” 

Do you have something important coming up? A big decision that you, or someone in your family, has to make soon? Fasting might be a good way to shower that decision in prayer. Giving up something that may be distracting you from Jesus is one way you can show your love for the One who gave His life for you on the cross! 

Week 3 Challenge: Fast by giving up something for a day, week, or even a month. Don’t stop eating certain types of food unless you get your parents’ permission.

Week 4 — Faith

This Week’s Verse:

“Have faith in the Lord our God. He’ll take good care of you.” (2 Chronicles 20:20)

We show our faith in everyday life even when we don’t realize we’re doing it. We get into our cars to drive across town, having faith that when we step on the brake pedal, the car will stop. If we didn’t have that kind of faith in our brakes, we would drive a lot more slowly. We exercise faith when we get on elevators. Are we sure that a cable will hold a lift full of people? I guess we are. We have faith that the food we just ordered at a restaurant won’t make us sick. Are we certain that the farmers who picked this food can tell the difference between a safe mushroom and a poisonous one? We don’t know any of these things for sure. We just have faith.

Hebrews 11:1 says, “Faith is being sure of what we hope for. It is being certain of what we do not see.” But faith is also strengthened by evidence. We believe in our car brakes because they’ve worked every other time we’ve used them. This is also true of elevators. And we rarely experience food poisoning at a restaurant, so we trust that the food is safe.

The same is true of our faith in God. God has worked things out for us in the past, and so we can have complete faith in Him that He will look out for our best interests in the future. Before Noah built his ark, the Bible says that “the Lord was pleased with Noah” (Genesis 6:8). Noah was already a man of God. He had already seen evidence of God working in his life. But, boy, did Noah have to have a lot of faith to do what he did!

In the Adventures in Odyssey episode “By Faith, Noah” (album 4), Whit told a funny version of the story of Noah. When God asked Noah to build a huge boat, Noah probably thought the whole idea was nuts. But he had faith in God, so he built the ark. In Whit’s story, Noah had to deal with his neighbors who mocked him, city health inspectors, the president of the Ark Builders Union, and others. But Noah Kept building. For 120 years he hammered, sawed, sanded, and buffed. Noah’s faith paid off for him because he and his family ended up being the only people on the planet to survive a flood.

Do you believe that God will take care of you? That God is always looking out for you? That God loves you? The evidence is all around you, but when it comes right down to it, you simply must have faith.

Week 4 Challenge:
 In your Bible reading this week, make note of all the people who had to have faith. How did they show their faith? What did they risk by having faith? How were they rewarded by having faith?

Week 5 — Forgiveness

This Week’s Verse:
“Forgive us our sins, just as we also have forgiven those who sin against us.” (Matthew 6:12)

John Adams and Thomas Jefferson are a part of American history. They both declared America’s independence, and they both became US presidents. They were also good friends.

At first, they believed many of the same things and helped each other. They even spent time in France together. They wanted the French government to help the American colonies fight the war for independence.

Over time, these two men found they also had differences. For a while they figured out ways to have opposite opinions and be friends. But then they each went too far with their differences, and their friendship ended.

One day years later, Jefferson heard that Adams had complimented him. Jefferson wrote Adams a letter, and Adams wrote back. These two men chose to forgive each other and become friends again. They remained friends for the rest of their lives.

When you’re close to someone, it doesn’t mean you like all the same things or always want to do the same stuff. It also doesn’t mean that you won’t mess up or treat each other poorly. But it does mean you’ll have the opportunity to forgive each other.

In the Adventures in Odyssey episode “Call Me If You Care” (album 43), Connie learned how easy it is to become estranged from someone in your family that you love. After forgiving her father, Connie tried to find a way to reconnect with him.

Like Connie, you may realize that your family and friends aren’t the same as you. And they don’t always act as you expect them to. The solution: You can allow them to be the people they are and forgive them when they disappoint you. Because Jefferson and Adams forgave each other, they were able to enjoy a close friendship for many, many years. In their later years, they wrote letters to each other. Surprisingly, they died on the same day.

Week 5 Challenge:
Write down three ways you might accidentally hurt a friend. Remember these things the next time someone upsets you. It may help you forgive this person.

Week 6 — Service

This Week’s Verse:

“Serve your masters with all your heart. Work as if you were not serving people but the Lord.” (Ephesians 6:7)

Do you like firecrackers? Campfire s’mores? How about scented candles that make the house smell like lilac? If so, thank English chemist John Walker. Oh, he’s not responsible for any of those things. But if he hadn’t invented matches in 1827, lighting a fuse, a fire, or a candlewick would be awfully difficult today. Even though John Walker is no longer with us, he provided a service that lives on every time somebody strikes a match.

This week we’re learning about serving others. Usually, that involves family members, like helping your mom clear off the dinner table or walking a tin of chocolate-chip cookies to grandma’s house. But God has also given you talents you can use to make the world a better place. Wouldn’t it be great to cure a disease, design an amusement park, or write a hit song that 
inspires millions of people? Well, what’s stopping you? After all, every world changer started out as a kid with a dream.

In the meantime, you can have a lasting impact on your school, church, or neighborhood. “How do I do that?” you might ask. “Should I pick up trash? Plant a tree? Become class president and campaign for jelly-bean Tuesdays and flip-flop Fridays?” Sure, you could go that route. The possibilities are endless. Do you remember when Eugene and Katrina created the nonprofit organization Hand Up? In the Adventures in Odyssey episode “Blood, Sweat, and Fears” (album 47), they even helped the local hospital host a blood drive, and the whole gang at Whit’s End pitched in.

No matter how you use your talents in public service, you should always put people first, strive for excellence, and redirect any glory to God. Ask Him how He wants to use you. Then get ready to set your world on fire!

Week 6 Challenge:
 Have you ever heard of a RAOK? That’s a “random act of kindness,” which means doing something nice for someone – maybe a total stranger – and expecting nothing in return. Make a list of fun ideas and do one a day for as long as you can. How many days in a row can you go?

Happy Easter from the Adventures in Odyssey team!