Lessons in Faithfulness

Day 1: Ruth 1:1-5

Story: A peaceful home
During the time that Israel was ruled by judges there was a famine in the land. A man who was living in Bethlehem at that time moved to the land of Moab with his wife, Naomi, and their two sons.
While they were living there Naomi’s husband died and she was left alone with her two sons. Naomi’s sons married women from Moab. One woman’s name was Orpah (not Oprah), and the other was Ruth. After about ten years both sons died and Naomi was left without a husband or  sons.
Discussion: Why do bad times come to ruin our good times?
Imagine if the world was as flat as a board: no canyons or cliffs, no valleys or mountains. What if it wasn’t only flat, but everything on it was the same color: no happy reds and oranges, and no darker shades of blue and green.
Life is seldom uneventful for long. Our lives seem full of ups and downs. However, God doesn’t just let us have good and bad times to keep us from getting bored; there is a purpose for everything that happens to us. God uses the ups and downs to help us grow in different ways. Struggles help our characters to grow strong; difficulties build up our faith; and tough times help us become more like Jesus (Romans 8:28-29). But more often than not, God sends us times of blessings so we can renew our strength, take courage and enjoy life! 
Life was rather up and down for Naomi. First, it was the hardship of a famine and moving to a distant country. Then there were happy weddings and a peaceful home life. And then her husband and sons died. Life had also robbed Ruth and Orpah of their joy at a young age. Yet even as spring follows winter, and dawn follows the dark night, so our seasons of hardship will pass.
Memory Verse: …We know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. Romans 5:3-4

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Day 2: Ruth 1:6-18

Story: A tough decision
Some time after Naomi’s husband and sons had died, she heard that the famine in her home country had ended. The Lord had given His people a good harvest. So she packed up her things and got ready to go back to her country with her two daughters-in-law. They started out together and as they were walking Naomi turned to them and said, “Why don’t you go back home and stay with your mothers? May the Lord make it possible for you to marry again and bless you both for what you have done for me.”
So Orpah left to go back home, but Ruth said to Naomi, “Don’t ask me to leave you. Wherever you go, I will go: wherever you live, I will live. Your people will be my people, and your God will be my God.”
When Naomi saw that Ruth was determined to go with her she said nothing more and they carried on walking.
Discussion: Who should I follow when people have a different faith?
Who is right and who is wrong – or are they all right? How can I know whose god is the true God?
Ruth had grown up in Moab where they did not worship God as they did in Israel. Over the years she had watched Naomi’s steady faith in God through good times and bad. Ruth saw how Naomi’s faith had stayed strong, and how God had been faithful to her. Now Ruth was ready to trust God with her life, as Naomi had.
You may know someone who believes in a different god, or who says he believes in the true God but doesn’t believe that Jesus is the Son of God. You can know for sure that the God of the Bible is the living God who created the world and the One who hears your prayers (Hebrews 11:6). If you read believe the Bible, be assured that you are trusting in the true and living God.
Memory Verse: For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus. 1 Timothy 2:5

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Day 3: Ruth 1:22, 2:1-10

Story: Caring and being cared for
When Naomi and Ruth got to Bethlehem, the barley harvest was just starting. The women of the town recognized Naomi and welcomed her back.
One day Ruth said to Naomi, “Let me go to the fields to gather grain that has been dropped. I am sure someone will let me work with them.”
So Ruth went to a field and walked behind the reapers, picking up grain. She didn’t know that she was working in a field that belonged to Boaz, a rich relative of Naomi.
Boaz happened to arrive there some time later and when he saw Ruth he asked the workers about her. They told him that she had come from the land of Moab with Naomi and that she had worked in the field from early morning. Then Boaz went to talk to Ruth and told her not to gather grain from any other field except from his field.
Discussion: Will God always provide for me?
Jesus said that we should not worry about our needs for tomorrow because our Heavenly Father has taken care of them already (Matthew 6:31-34). So does that mean we should not plan ahead, save up, or work for a living? Not at all! God wants us to live responsibly by planning for the future and working hard. In fact, Paul had some strong words for a group of Christians who had stopped working and become lazy: he told them to get back to work (2 Thessalonians 3:11-12).
Ruth worked hard every day to gather enough grain for Naomi and herself. Yet Ruth knew that it was God who had provided the good harvest, the field, the kind reapers and a caring owner.
Memory Verse: Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Matthew 6:26

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Day 4: Ruth 3:1-11

Story: Loyalty is rewarded
Day after day, Ruth gathered grain from the field of Boaz (a relative of Naomi). One day, Naomi said to Ruth, “I must find a husband for you so that you can have your own home again. Boaz, in whose field you have been working, will be threshing barley tonight. Now, get dressed in your best clothes, put on some perfume, and go to where he is threshing; but don’t let him see you. This evening, when he has finished eating, see where he lies down and when he is asleep, go lie at his feet.”
Ruth did everything exactly as Naomi had told her to do. When Boaz woke up in the night, he said, “Who are you?”
Ruth answered, “It is Ruth, Sir. You are my relative. Please will you look after me?”
Then Boaz replied, “The Lord bless you! You are showing even greater loyalty by doing this than by what you have done for your mother-in-law.”
Discussion: What is true loyalty?
Loyalty is a quality that doesn’t always seem that important to people. Often, a person’s physical strength, power, influence, wealth, and cleverness impress people far more than his or her loyalty. Yet God sees things differently (1 Samuel 16:7).
Loyalty: 
   – ties love and faithfulness together.
   – does not expect to be rewarded.
   – wants only the best for the other person.
   – is costly—it may cost a life.
   – does not quit.
   – does not change sides.
   – takes time to prove itself.
Memory Verse: Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves. Romans 12:10

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Day 5: Ruth 4:1-10, 13 

Story: A branch of the tree
During the night, Ruth had gone to lie at the feet of Boaz and had asked him to marry her. Boaz loved Ruth very much and wanted to marry her, but there was a problem. Ruth had a relative who was closer to her than he was. So Boaz said to her, “Stay here for the night and in the morning we will find out whether he will look after you.”
In the morning, Boaz sent Ruth home with a huge amount of barley. Then Boaz went to the meeting place in town where he waited for the other relative. When he came, Boaz said to him, “Naomi wants to sell her field, and you have the first option to buy it. However, if you buy the field, you must take Ruth too, so that her children will inherit the field.” When the relative, who had children of his own, heard that the deal included any children Ruth would have, he said, “No, I don’t want to buy it.”
So Boaz was able to buy the field and marry Ruth. The Lord blessed her, and she had a son named Obed. Obed became the father of Jesse; and Jesse became the father of David—the greatest king of Israel.
Discussion: What is a genealogy (family tree)?
Do you know who your grandfather is? Do you know who your grandfather’s grandfather was? Every person has a family tree, which is a way of writing down the names of each person’s parents, going back many generations.
Imagine that you are a twig joined to a thin branch, which is attached to a thicker branch that grows from the stem of a huge tree.
The genealogy (family tree) of Jesus is written in Matthew chapter one. In Matthew 1:5, you will see the name of Ruth. Isn’t it great that someone who was hardly known during her lifetime would be part of the earthly genealogy of Jesus, the King of kings?
Memory Verse: A shoot will come up from Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit. Isaiah 11:1

 



Lessons in Pride

Day 1: Judges 8:1-3, 28
Background: When we last left Gideon, God had just helped 300 men defeat the tens of thousands of Midianite soldiers.
Story: Feeling left out
When all the fighting was over and the two Midianite chiefs had been killed, the people from the tribe of Ephraim complained to Gideon. “Why didn’t you call us to help you fight the Midianites?” they asked. So Gideon said to them, “The little I did was nothing compared to what you have done. With God’s help you killed the Midianite chiefs! What have I done to compare with that?”
When they heard what Gideon said, they were not so angry anymore. In the end the Midianites were completely defeated and were no longer a threat. The Lord sent peace in the land for as long as Gideon lived.
Discuss: What should I do about someone who feels left out? Have you ever been told that you could only invite a certain number of friends to a party?
If you were to meet one of the friends who wasn’t invited and feels hurt, what would you say? Maybe you are the captain of a team and have to decide who gets to play in a match. How would you explain to your friend why you didn’t choose him or her? You could say; “You aren’t quite good enough,” or “There wasn’t enough space for everyone.” However, deep down you know that you would not be happy with an answer like that.
On the other hand, trying to avoid your friend in the hope that the problem will go away will only make your friendship cool off. Gideon realized that a tribe had been left out of the action, but he let them share the feeling of victory by making them feel important and useful. Can you think of some ways to encourage a friend who feels left out?
Verse for today: Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Philippians 2:4
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Day 2: Judges 13:1-5, 24-25
Story: An unexpected messenger
Gideon had died and the Israelites had started sinning against the Lord again. So, the Lord let the Philistines rule over them for forty years.
One day, the Lord’s angel appeared to a woman who had not been able to have children and said, “You will soon be pregnant and have a son. After he is born, you must never cut his hair because he will be dedicated to God.”
When the angel had gone, the woman told her husband Manoah about the message from God. Manoah prayed to God and said, “Please let the man of God You sent come back and tell us how to raise the boy.” So, God answered Manoah’s prayer and sent the angel again. When the boy was born, his mother named him Samson, and the Lord blessed him and made him strong.
Discuss: Why was Samson not meant to cut his hair? During the time of Moses, if someone wanted to give himself to God in a special way, he had to follow God’s instructions (Numbers 6:1-8). Any person could take a Nazirite vow to fully dedicate himself to God for a certain time. During that time, he was not allowed to eat grapes or drink wine, nor was he allowed to cut his hair (which was a sign of his dedication to God).
If you would like to give your life to God for Him to use in a special way, you don’t need an outward sign
to show others about your dedication to God. People will see your faithfulness to the Lord by the way
you live.
However, if you want to do something to remind yourself of the commitment or pledge you made to the
Lord, you could write it on a decorated card and keep it in your Bible.
Verse for today: You are to be holy to me because I, the LORD, am holy, and I have set you apart from the nations to be my own. Leviticus 20:26
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Day 3: Judges 14:1-4
Story: Samson gets his way
When Samson had grown up, he went to a place called Timnah where he met a Philistine woman he
liked. He went back home and said to his father and mother, “I have met a woman in Timnah and I want
you to get her for me.”
His parents asked him, “Why do you go to those heathen Philistines to look for a wife? Can’t you find a
girl from your own people?”
“She is the one I want,” Samson said; “get her for me!”
Discuss: Why do parents ‘always’ say no?
At times, it may seem as though the only answer you get from your parents when you ask for
something, is ‘NO!’ Has the thought ever struck you that you may be asking for the wrong things?
Samson wanted to date a girl from the Philistine people who did not believe in God. His parents knew
that this was not a good idea and tried to reason with him. “Surely there are many pretty girls here
among God’s people,” they said.
But Samson was stubborn and demanded his own way. What he didn’t know was that before long he
would find out that the Philistines were not friendly people and that he couldn’t even trust this Philistine
girl.
In spite of how it seems at times, your parents want you to have what is best (Luke 11:13). But not only
that, they want to keep you from things that are not good. They want to keep you safe and unharmed in
every way. So whenever your parents say no, remember that they are protecting you or trying to help
you control your many wishes.
Verse for today:
Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. Ephesians 6:1
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Day 4: Judges 14:5-9
Story: Keeping secrets
Samson was on his way to Timnah with his father and mother to meet the Philistine women he wanted
to marry. On their way, walking through the vineyards, Samson heard a young lion roaring. The power of
the Lord came on Samson and made him very strong. He went after the lion and killed it with his bare
hands, but He didn’t tell his parents what he had done.
A few days later, when Samson went back to marry the Philistine woman, he went to look for the dead
lion. A swarm of bees had made a hive inside the lion’s body, so Samson scraped the honey out and,
when he met up with his parents again, gave them some too. But Samson did not tell his parents where
he had got the honey.
Discuss: Should I tell my parents everything?
Isn’t it amazing how parents seem to find out about the things their children try to hide from them? For
a while, children may be able to cover up something, but in the end, parents always seem to stumble
across the evidence or start asking uncomfortable questions. When you try to cover up your sin, you’ll
end up feeling guilty, dirty, dishonest, and miserable. God knows you are not perfect; so when you do
sin, He wants you to confess your sin straight away (1 John 1:9).
Samson was not supposed to go near anything that was dead, and he knew it, yet he was disobedient
and kept it a secret. You don’t need to carry the weight of guilt in your heart, or live a life of secret
failures! Tell your parents about your temptations and struggles so they can pray for you and encourage
you.
Verse for today:
Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes
of him to whom we must give account. Hebrews 4:13
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Day 5: Judges 14:10-20
Story: Samson throws a party
Samson was having a party, which was the thing to do after getting married. He and his father went to
the woman’s house where thirty young Philistine men joined them. Samson said to the men, “Let me ask
you a riddle. I bet each of you a piece of fine linen and special clothes that you can’t solve the riddle by
the time the wedding feast is over.” They all agreed, so Samson said, “Here is the riddle: Out of the eater
came something to eat; out of the strong came something sweet.”
Day after day the young men tried to work out the riddle. On the fourth day, they went to Samson’s wife
and told her to trick Samson into telling her the riddle. At first Samson would not tell her, but after she
had nagged and cried about it for days, he told her. She secretly went to tell the Philistines the meaning
of the riddle, and Samson lost the bet.
Discuss: Is it wrong to take a bet?
Why do people take bets? Is it because they are convinced they are right; is it because they enjoy
proving someone wrong; or is it to get something for nothing out of the deal? These reasons (and
probably some others) seem pretty selfish and are likely to cause quarrels and disappointment.
Solving a riddle can be a lot of fun, and it is good when it just a friendly brainteaser. In Samson’s case,
this was more than a friendly brainteaser—it was a show of power and pride. (Samson didn’t even have
the linen and clothes he promised as a reward.) With any bet, someone is always the loser! Don’t take a
bet in order to prove yourself better than someone else or to get something from the other person.
Verse for today:
Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce
quarrels. 2 Timothy 2:23


Lessons in Faith – Gideon

Day 1: Judges 6:25-32 – Gideon

Background: 

At different times of the OT, God called different leaders (prophets, priests, judges, and kings). Gideon was a judge that led the Israelites during a war time.
Story: 
The Lord’s angel had told Gideon that God would use him to rescue the Israelites from their enemies. That evening, the angel told him to take two bulls and go and destroy his father’s altar to the heathen god, Baal. The Lord also told him to build an altar on the exact same spot and burn one of the bulls on it using the wood from the Asherah pole (which was also an idol).
That night, while everybody was sleeping, he and ten of his servants took the two bulls and tore down the altar. In the morning, when the people of the town got up and found that their altar had been torn down, they asked each other, “Who did this?” When they found out that Gideon had done it, they said to his father Joash, “Bring Gideon here so we can put him to death.”
But Joash said, “Are you trying to defend Baal? It is his altar that was torn down; let Baal defend himself!”
 
Discuss: 
How can I openly honor God?
People usually talk and write about the things that fill their minds. David wrote many beautiful songs and poems about the Lord because he thought about God all the time (Psalm 63:6).
Those who watch and listen to horrible things, fill their minds (and hearts) with wrong things. The evil that litters their minds starts to spill out in different ways that can be seen and heard by those around them.
So if, for example, someone at school has scribbled bad words somewhere, or written something dishonoring about the Lord, you could ask your teacher if you may clean it off or blot it out. God will honor your bold step when you, like Gideon, do the right thing.
 
Memory Verse for the day: Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. Matthew 5:8 

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Day 2: Judges 6:36-40 – Gideon

Background:

Gideon had been called to stand up for God. First, he destroyed the pagan towers. Now he had to decide if he should keep following God.
Story: 
Gideon wanted to make very sure that God wanted him to rescue the Israelites from their enemies. He said to the Lord, “I will put a sheep skin on the ground outside tonight. In the morning, if there is only dew on the fleece and not on the ground, I will know that You are going to use me to rescue Israel.”
When Gideon got up the next morning, the fleece was so wet that he filled a bowl with the water he squeezed from it even though the ground around the fleece was dry. Then Gideon said to God, “Don’t be angry with me. Please just let me ask one more thing. This time, let the fleece be dry and the ground wet.” The next morning when Gideon woke up, the fleece was completely dry, yet the ground around the fleece was wet!
 
Discuss: 
Is it wrong to ask God for a sign?
In most cases, you won’t need a special sign to show you whether or not to do something that is right and good. You don’t need the Lord to give you a sign to be kind to someone or to listen to your parents. These are things the Bible says are good and right. The Bible also tells us that we should not test the Lord or expect Him to answer a silly request (
Luke 4:12). Some people ask for a special sign from God because of their unbelief (Mark 8:11-12
), and some because they don’t want to do what God has already told them to do.
However, Gideon may have put the lives of many Israelites in danger if he had not made sure that he understood God’s message clearly. God will also show you what to do if you earnestly ask Him to lead you.
 
Memory Verse for the day: If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God. James 1:5

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Day 3: Judges 7:1-8 – Gideon

Now that God had given Gideon a clear sign that He would give him victory over the Midianites, Gideon and his men got up early the next day and camped next to a little river. 
The Lord said to Gideon, “You have too many men. Your men might boast that they won the battle all by themselves. Let those who are afraid go back home.” After thousands had gone back home, the Lord said to Gideon, “You still have too many men. Take the men down to the river and I will show you who to choose.” 
Then the Lord showed Gideon that the men who scooped up the water with their hands and lapped it should go with him, while those who got down on their knees to drink were to go back home. So Gideon was left with only three hundred men.
 
Discuss:  How can fewer be better?
How would you feel if your team coach decided to halve the number of players just before the team runs onto the field? You would probably hear comments from both sides about the slaughter about to take place. You would wonder if the coach even cared that you would be facing one of the strongest teams out there.
Yet, how would you feel afterwards if your half-sized team beat the strongest team so badly that the scorekeeper couldn’t keep up? Wouldn’t you be proud to have a coach who knows what he is doing and who knows what his team can do?
Our Lord gets all the glory when the odds are against us—when victory seems impossible. Let us never boast in our own strength but in the strength of the Lord our God (1 Corinthians 1:28-29).

Memory Verse for the day: It is not by sword or spear that the LORD saves; for the battle is the LORD’s… 1 Samuel 17:47

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Day 4: Judges 7:9-10, 15-22 – Gideon

The Lord had told Gideon to send back most of the men in the Israelite army. He was left with only three hundred men. That night the Lord told Gideon to get up and attack the Midianite camp. Then He said, “If you are afraid to attack, go down to the camp with your servant and you will hear what they are saying.”
So Gideon and his servant Purah went down to the edge of the camp. There they heard a man telling someone else about a dream he’d had. “I dreamt that a loaf of barley bread rolled into our camp and flattened a tent.”
The other person replied, “It is the sword of the Israelite, Gideon.”
When Gideon heard about the man’s dream and what the other person said, he worshiped and praised God.
 
Discuss:  Does being afraid mean that I don’t trust God?
God made us with a natural fear that keeps us from doing dangerous things and taking unnecessary risks. If we were scared of nothing at all, we would walk across a road without looking, jump off buildings and tease crocodiles!
Fear is only good when it keeps us from doing daring things that could harm us. Fear is not good when it keeps us from enjoying life; when it keeps us from being the best we can be, and when it keeps us from doing what God has planned for us to do.
The Lord called Gideon a brave man even though he was afraid (Judges 6:12). Being brave is when we trust God enough to step out in faith and obey Him, even when our fear tells us that the situation is not safe.
 
Memory Verse for the day: When I am afraid, I will trust in you. In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I will not be afraid. What can mortal man do to me? Psalm 56:3-4

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Day 5: Judges 7:15-22 – Gideon

When Gideon got back from spying on the enemy camp, he divided his three hundred men into three groups. He gave each man a trumpet and an empty jar with a flaming torch inside. He told his men, “When I get to the edge of the camp, do exactly what I do.”
Just before midnight, Gideon and his men got to the edge of the enemy camp. All at once, they blew their trumpets and smashed their jars. They held their torches high and shouted, “A sword for the Lord and for Gideon.”
The enemy troops panicked. In the confusion they started attacking each other and fled. So Gideon sent a message to the tribe of Ephraim to stop the Midianites from crossing the Jordan River.
 
Discuss:  Does the devil know what God is planning?
No one knows what God has got planned or how He will work things out. Only God is all-knowing and eternal. He does not have to wait for His plan to happen in order to see how it will work out. He already lives in the future! That means, even though God makes a decision now, He can already see His plan happening.
As believers, we have the Spirit of Jesus living in us. Because we are God’s children, He lets us know as much as we need to know about His plan (1 Corinthians 2:16). God shows His children things that His enemy knows nothing about. God had worked out a plan; Gideon was told about the plan; and guess what—the enemy knew nothing!
The devil doesn’t have a clue about God’s plans. So when the devil tries to mess up what God is doing, God just goes ahead and uses the devil’s little schemes for His own glory!
 
Memory Verse for the day: 
In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. 1 Corinthians 2:11b


Easter Week Devotionals

April 10 – Monday

Story: Jesus Washed the Disciples’ Feet
It was just before the Passover meal. Jesus knew that it was almost time for Him to leave this world and be reunited with God, His Father. Jesus loved His disciples and wanted to show them how much He loved them. Jesus knew that Judas Iscariot was going to betray Him. He got up from the table and tied a towel around His waist. He poured water into a bowl and began to wash His disciples’ feet and then dry them with the towel wrapped around His waist. Simon Peter didn’t want Jesus to wash his feet.

Jesus said that if He didn’t wash his feet, Peter would have to part with Him. Peter asked that his hands and head also be washed! Jesus told Peter that someone who has bathed doesn’t need to wash anything except his feet. Jesus knew who would betray Him and told Peter that he was clean, but not all of the disciples were clean.

When He finished, He asked the disciples if they knew what He had done for them. He told them that He washed their feet to serve them, now they should go and follow His example of serving others. — Based on John 13:1-17

THE POINT: JESUS WANTS PEOPLE TO FOLLOW HIS EXAMPLE.

Living by Example
I love puzzles! When you dump all of the pieces on the table, the first thing you do is look at the front of the box to see what the puzzle will look like. The Bible does that for us. If we look at how Jesus lived here on earth, we can follow His example to know how to best follow Him. Jesus showed us how to serve the people around us. Jesus washed His disciples’ feet and taught us how to serve others in love. As followers of Christ, we are to live by His example.
 
Pray:
Dear God, thank You for giving us the example of Jesus. Help me remember the way Jesus served others. Amen.

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April 11 – Tuesday

Story: The Last Supper
In those days, the Jewish people gathered for feasts such as the Festival of Unleavened Bread and the Passover. People gathered together to remember how God had rescued His people out of Egypt.
On the first day of the Festival of Unleavened Bread, Jesus told the disciples to go into the city and tell a certain man that Jesus wanted to celebrate Passover at his house with the disciples.
When evening came, Jesus was sitting at the table with the disciples. Jesus said that one of the disciples would betray Him. He was talking about Judas Iscariot.
While they were eating, Jesus took the bread, gave thanks, and broke it. He gave it to His disciples and said, “Take this and eat it; this is My body.”
In the same way, Jesus took the cup, gave thanks, and gave it to His disciples. Then He said, “Drink from it, all of you.” He told the disciples that His blood would be shed for many for the forgiveness of sins.
Jesus would be arrested and sentenced to be crucified. Jesus had done nothing wrong, but He died so that the Old Testament Scripture might be fulfilled. — Based on Matthew 26:17-30

THE POINT: JESUS CAME TO BE THE SAVIOR.

Remember:
How does your family remember important things like soccer practice or piano lessons or birthday parties? Do you have a calendar posted on the refrigerator? Do you use sticky notes? Do you set notifications on your computer? It is important to remember important things.
Even though the disciples didn’t know what was about to happen, Jesus did. He didn’t want them to ever forget. Jesus wants us to remember that He took our punishment, died for our sins, and rose back to life to prove He has power over sin and death! When your church conducts the Lord’s Supper (or you might call it Communion) it is a very special time to remember how much Jesus loves us and that He came to be the Savior. Now that’s something to remember and celebrate!
 
Pray:
Dear God, thank You for sending Jesus to be our Savior. Help us to always remember that He loved us enough to die for our sins so we can be forgiven. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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April 12 – Wednesday

Story: Jesus Prayed in the Garden
Jesus and His disciples celebrated the special feast called the Passover.
After the Passover feast, the disciples went out to a garden with Jesus. Jesus said that each of them would leave Him. Peter promised that he would never leave, but Jesus said, “Before you hear the rooster crow, you will deny me three times!”
Jesus prayed in the garden, but His disciples kept falling asleep. Soon, Judas arrived with soldiers who arrested Jesus! Jesus was taken to unfair trials. He was beaten and mocked. — Based on Matthew 26:34-51

THE POINT: PEOPLE CAN TALK TO GOD.

Think:
I love to work in my yard. In spring, I get excited when it is time to plant flowers. Have you ever planted flowers in your yard? They start out small, and then as the season moves into summer, they start blooming and become beautiful. When I’m in my yard, I enjoy talking to God.
Jesus went to a garden and prayed to His Father in Heaven. Jesus knew that prayer was important. Even though He knew He was about to be put to death, He still took time to talk to God. Take time to talk to God today. You can tell Him anything. 
 
Pray:
Dear God, thank You for loving me. Thank You for giving me a way that I can talk to You. You love me, and You sent Jesus to die on the cross for my sins. Thank You, God. Amen.

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April 13 – Thursday

Story: Peter Denied Jesus
Two disciples followed Jesus as the soldiers took Him to the high priest. One disciple knew the high priest and went inside. He spoke to a servant who allowed Peter inside the courtyard. The servant girl asked if Peter was one of Jesus’ disciples. Peter lied. He said, “No, I’m not.”
Peter joined the other people standing around a fire. They asked him, “Aren’t you one of this man’s disciples?” and Peter lied again, saying, “I am not!”
One man who had seen Peter in the garden when Jesus was arrested asked, “Didn’t I see you in the garden with Jesus?” As soon as Peter again denied knowing Jesus, the rooster crowed.
Later, after Jesus had been crucified and raised from the dead, Jesus met with Peter. Jesus showed Peter that He still loved him. — Based on John 18:15-18, 25-27; 21:15-17

THE POINT: JESUS LOVES PEOPLE EVEN WHEN THEY MAKE MISTAKES.

Consider:
Did you ever take something that wasn’t yours? “Not me!” Did you ever do something your parents told you not to do? “Not me!” Have you ever disobeyed God? “Not me!” Have you ever told a lie? “Not me! I mean… well…”
Everyone has done something wrong. Peter was a disciple and even he did wrong. But Jesus forgave Peter. Who should be glad Jesus loved Peter even after he did wrong? “You and me!” Who else does Jesus love even after we do wrong? “You and me!”
 
Pray:
Dear God, sometimes I do wrong things and think wrong things. Thank You for forgiving me and for loving me even when I make mistakes. Amen.

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April 14 – Good Friday!

Story: Jesus’ Trial and Death
While Jesus and the disciples were praying in the garden, Judas arrived with an armed crowd, who arrested Jesus. They took Jesus to Caiaphas, the high priest, and to Pilate, the Roman governor. The crowd wanted Jesus to be crucified.
Pilate’s soldiers mocked Jesus by putting a robe on Him, a crown made of thorns on His head, and a reed in His hand. They spit on Him, beat Him, and led Him to Golgotha, where they crucified Him.
It became dark as night in the middle of the day. Jesus cried out to God, “Why have You forsaken Me?” Jesus cried out again; then He died. — Based on Matthew 26:47-50; 27:1-45

THE POINT: JESUS KNEW HE WOULD SUFFER IN ORDER TO BE OUR SAVIOR.

Discuss:
Being teased or bullied is no fun at all. Maybe you have been teased before. In the Bible, the word that is used to describe teasing is “mock.” The Bible says that Jesus was mocked. Jesus was teased and bullied.
Jesus went through that and much worse when He died. A friend betrayed Him, and Jesus was arrested. He was beaten and mocked. Then He died on a cross alone. But, even though He knew what was coming, Jesus chose to go through all that. Why? He did it because He loves us so much, He wanted to save us. We never have to feel alone or unloved. His death shows us He loves us more than anyone can!
Pray:
Dear God, thank You for loving us so much You sent Jesus. Thank You that He understands our pain and, even though He knew what was coming, He chose to die for us. Amen.

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April 15 – Saturday

Story: Jesus’ Burial
Joseph of Arimathea went to Pilate and asked for Jesus’ body. Joseph took the body and placed it in a new tomb. He rolled a large rock in front. The chief priests asked Pilate to put guards at the tomb. — Based on Matthew 27:57-66

THE POINT: NO MATTER HOW HARD THINGS MAY BE, GOD WILL NEVER FAIL YOU.

Consider:
Sometimes I think about my grandmother and I get sad. I loved my grandmother, but she died several years ago. We had so much fun together. She loved me, and I loved her. Jesus’ friends loved Him, and He loved them. Jesus’ friends were sad. They missed Jesus and were concerned they would never see Him again, even though He told them He would rise again. They didn’t understand His death was necessary. Jesus did rise again. He didn’t leave His friends in their sadness. He didn’t fail them. God loves you, and He will never fail you.
Pray:
Dear God, thank You for sending Jesus to die for our sins. Thank You that Jesus arose and is alive. Thank You no matter how sad I am or how hard things are, You will never fail me. In Jesus’ name, amen.

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April 16 – Sunday

Story: Jesus Is Alive! 
After the Sabbath, early in the morning, on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and another Mary went to view the tomb where Jesus had been buried.
Suddenly, a strong earthquake shook because an angel came down from heaven. The angel rolled back the heavy stone from the entrance of the tomb. The angel, who looked like lightning and was wearing a robe of purest white, sat on the stone. The guards standing at the tomb were so afraid they were like dead men and could not even move!
The angel told the women not to be afraid. He knew they were looking for Jesus. The angel told them the best news ever. He said that Jesus was alive just as He had promised. The angel told the women to go quickly to the disciples to tell them the good news. “Tell them Jesus has been raised from the dead!”
The women left quickly and joyfully. They ran to tell the disciples the good news that Jesus was alive.
Suddenly, Jesus met the women and said, “Good morning!” The women ran to Him, took hold of His feet, and worshiped Him!
Then Jesus told them, “Do not be afraid. Go and tell My brothers to go to Galilee. They will see Me there!” — Based on Matthew 28:1-10

THE POINT: JESUS HAS POWER OVER DEATH AND HE IS THE SAVIOR!

Think:
Has someone you loved ever moved away? Did you feel upset or even confused when that happened? Now imagine you made plans for a reunion. You’d probably feel excited and maybe even a little nervous until the happy day you were able to reunite. That’s how Jesus’ followers probably felt, too. They knew Jesus would die, but they also knew He promised to live again. When Mary Magdalene and the other Mary returned to Jesus’ tomb, they witnessed Jesus’ incredible power. The women’s sadness turned into joy when they saw the risen Savior. This is joyful news for us, too! We can put all our hope and trust in our mighty God!
 
Pray:
Dear Jesus, thank You for so powerfully defeating death. You are a mighty Savior! Because of Your resurrection, we can receive the joy of new life in You, and we can look forward to the day when we will get to see You face to face. In Jesus’ name, amen.


Patience – Family Devotionals – Week of 4-2-17

We have been talking about Self-Control for a couple of weeks now. Related is patience. Continue to find ways to teach your children about the fruit of the Spirit as we learn together.

Lesson #1 – Abraham & Sarah

Open Discussion:
Q: Have you ever wanted something and just couldn’t wait?
Q: How did you feel when Christmas or your birthday was just a couple of days away?
Today, we are going to talk about Abraham. God had promised Abraham that he would have many dependents (children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren) but Abraham was old and his wife had never had a child.
Read Genesis 17:1-6, 17 – “When Abram was ninety-nine years old the Lord appeared to Abram and said to him, ‘I am God almighty; walk before me and be blameless, that I may make my covenant between me and you, and may multiply you greatly.’ Then Abram fell on his face. And God said to him, ‘Behold, my covenant is with you, and you shall be the father of a multitude of nations. No longer shall your name be called Abram, but your name shall me Abraham, for I have made you the father of a multitude of nations. I will make you exceedingly fruitful, and I will make you into nations, and kings shall come from you.’. . .Then Abraham fell on his face and laughed and said to himself, ‘Shall a child be born to a man who is a hundred years old? Shall Sarah, who is ninety years old, bear a child?’” 
Q: How old was Abraham and Sarah?
Q: Can people that old have children?
Q: What did Abraham do when he heard God’s promise? Why?

Discuss: Sometimes God asks us to wait for something even though he’s promised it to us. God promised Abraham he would be the father of many people. But at a very old age, he was still without any children. Abraham and Sarah knew what God had told them but they had yet to see evidence of the promise in their lives. How could Abraham become the father of many when he didn’t have any children? Abraham and Sarah trusted God and they waited patiently for him. This doesn’t mean they waited perfectly. They took matters into their own hands at times. But God’s grace covered them and he still fulfilled his promise, in his perfect timing.

Use this story to share with your child that sometimes God and parents ask us to wait for things. We have to trust that they know what is best for us and will do what they promised. As we wait, it can be tempting to make things happen on our own or to run ahead. But waiting patiently means waiting without question or complaining. Doing so will make the blessing we receive so much sweeter.

Related verse: “I waited patiently for the Lord; he came towards me to me and heard my cry.” Psalm 40:1 (Explain to your child that this means God is near as we wait. He understands our struggle and will help us if we ask him to.)

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Lesson #2 – Joseph

Open Discussion:
Q: What if God told you today that you would be President of the USA when you grew up… What would you do tomorrow?
Q: What if I told you that I would give you $20 on Friday… Could you spend that money today?
Today we are going to talk about Joseph. God told Joseph in a dream that he would one day be a leader of many people – even his older brothers. Let’s find out what happened.
Read Genesis 37:23-24, 28, 38:1-2, 45:4-5, 7 – “So when Joseph came to his brothers, they stripped him of his robe, the robe of many colors that he wore. And they took him and threw him into a pit. The pit was empty; there was no water in it. . .Then Midianite traders passed by. And they drew Joseph up and lifted him out of the pit, and sold him to the Ishmaelites for twenty shekels of silver. They took Joseph to Egypt. . .Now Joseph had been brought down to Egypt, and Potipher, an officer of Pharaoh, the captain of the guard, an Egyptian, had bought him from the Ishmaelites who had brought him down there. The Lord was with Joseph, and he became a successful man. . .So Joseph said to his brothers, ‘Come near to me please.’ And they came near. And he said, ‘I am your brother Joseph, whom you sold into Egypt. And now do not be distressed or angry with yourselves because you sold me here, for God sent me before you to preserve life. . .And God sent me before you to preserve for you a remnant on earth, and to keep alive for you many survivors.’” (The story of Joseph is long and involved but such a powerful illustration of how God works as we wait. Consider reading the full story to your child in a storybook Bible.)
Q: What did Joseph’s brothers do to Joseph?
Q: Was Joseph a great leader of people when this happened?
Q: How long did Joseph have to wait until God kept His promise?
(until he was 30 – 13 years after being sold)

When we trust God in the midst of waiting, we allow him to work on our behalf. Joseph was his father’s favorite and because of this, his brothers did not like him. They wanted to hurt him and get rid of him. They chose to sell their brother and so he was brought to Egypt. While there, Joseph became very successful and helped the king. Later, during years of famine (or a shortage of food in the land), Joseph was put in charge of the grain available in Egypt. Joseph’s family was in great need of food so his brothers traveled to Egypt to find some. Little did they know; their brother was in charge of the food and would provide for them.

Use this story to share with your child that when we trust God while we wait, we allow him to work things out for us. Joseph could have been scared and angry at what his brothers did to him. But he faithfully worked with a good attitude while he waited through life in Egypt. He became friends with the king and God used his new relationships to provide for his family.

Related verse: “And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.” Galatians 6:9

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Lesson #3 – God’s Example of Patience

Open Discussion:
Q: Do I always stay calm when you don’t listen to me?
Q: Do I sometimes yell or lose my temper?
God is patient with us when we sin. He was patient with the Israelites for generation after generation. Let’s learn about one of those stories.
 
Read James 5:7-8 and Mark 4:18-19. “Be patient, then, brothers and sisters, until the Lord’s coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop, patiently waiting for the autumn and spring rains. You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming is near…    Still others, like seed sown among thorns, hear the word; but the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful.”
Q: How long does it take for a crop to grow?
Q: What would happen if the farmer tried to harvest his crop too early?
Q: What would happen if the farmer got tired of waiting and ploughed the field before it had a chance to rain?
Q: What kind of crop would God like to see growing in our lives?
Q: What kind of harvest does God want us to have?
Q: What stops our lives from being fruitful? (Mark 4:18-19)
 
Key concepts
– Our lives are like a different kind of farm.
– God wants us to be patient in helping Him bring in a harvest of people for His kingdom.
– Every time someone asks God to forgive their sins and tells Him they want Jesus Christ as the leader of their life, it is part of the harvest for God’s kingdom.
– When we show God’s love to others and/or tell them that God loves them, we are “farming” for God.

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Lesson #4 – Being Patient with Others

Open Discussion:
Q: Is it easy to wait on someone else when you want to go somewhere?
Q: How do you feel when you are waiting on your mother/sibling/me?
Q: Is it fun to wait on dinner to get ready when you are really hungry?
 
Read Psalm 37:1,3-5,7-8 and Colossians 3:13. “Do not [worry] because of those who are evil or be envious of those who do wrong… Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture… Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him and he will do this… Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; do not [worry] when people succeed in their… wicked schemes. Refrain from anger and turn from wrath; do not fret—it leads only to evil… Bear with each other and forgive one another… Forgive as the Lord forgave you.”
Q: When do you find it easy to get mad? / What gets you really upset?
Q: What do people do that bothers you and annoys you?
Q: What does the Bible say about getting mad and worrying/fretting?
Q: What did David do when he was frustrated with others?(prayed – wrote the Psalm)
Q: How will you remember to “put up with” that behavior or person in the future?
Q: What will you do to help you remember to go to God in prayer/for help?
 
Key concepts 
– It can get frustrating when it seems like someone else is “getting away with” causing trouble. Often, when someone does something wrong, we want to punish that person ourselves. But the Bible says that fretting and getting angry only leads to evil. When David got angry with people, he talked to God (Psalm 37:1-8).
– God wants us to put up with each other and forgive whatever complaints we have about each other. He wants us to forgive as He forgave us (Colossians 3:13).
– A suggestion to help your children remind themselves that they are “putting up” with someone is to have your children clench their hands into fists, as though they are preparing for a boxing match. Have them say, “David was a warrior, but he went to God in prayer!” Then have them fold their hands into a praying position and talk to God about what is bothering them.


Lessons on Self Control – Week of 3-26-17

LESSONS ON SELF-CONTROL

These Bible stories are written with the theme of self-control. Choose one that is appropriate for your children. Before reading aloud, take a few minutes to review the story. If the Bible passage is too complex for your kids, paraphrase the story yourself or use information from the Overview.

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Lesson 1 – Isaac digs wells
Read Genesis 26:17-22 in part, in whole, or read the Overview (whichever is best for your kids). The Message paraphrase is also helpful at times. Follow the link and type in your verses at the top.
 
Overview
Isaac’s servants had moved into a new territory. Part of moving into new territory involved finding water for the flocks they were caring for. As Isaac’s men dug wells, the herdsman living in the new territory argued with them and kept claiming the wells as their own.
Instead of fighting back and fighting for the wells that were rightfully theirs, Isaac and his people just kept moving on and digging another well, until the herdsmen of Gerar left them alone. These men exercised self-control and didn’t fight for their rights. Isaac and his servants set a good example for all of us of what to do if someone picks a fight with you. The best thing to do is to walk away and keep the peace.
 
Questions for discussion:
-What do other kids do when they want to pick a fight?
-How about your brother/sister?
-How do you feel when someone says that something you own is his/hers?
-What happened to Isaac’s servants?
-What did they do?
-How many wells did they have to dig before the herdsman of Gerar didn’t bother them?
-What is the best thing to do if someone picks a fight with you?

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Lesson 2 – Who needs self-control?
Read Titus 2:1-12 in part, in whole, or read the Overview. As you read this passage, ask the kids to listen for the word “self-control.” Ask them to raise their hands when they hear it.
 
Overview
Self-control is saying “no” to ungodliness (behavior that does not please God) and worldly passions (allowing things to be so important to you that they contribute to sinful behavior). The Bible indicates that everyone is to be self-controlled. When we choose to have the Holy Spirit live inside of us, God helps us to maintain self-control. Self-control is one of the fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23). Ask God to help you remember to ask for help when you are tempted to lose self-control.
 
Questions for discussion:
-Can you think of something you do that does not please God?
-Have you ever wanted something so much that you had a tantrum when you were told you couldn’t have it?
-What is self-control?
-Who needs to be self-controlled?
-Why do we need to be self-controlled?
-When are you most tempted to lose self-control?

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Lesson 3 – Expressing anger hastily
Read Proverbs 29:20, Ecclesiastes 7:9, Proverbs 29:11, and Proverbs 14:17 in part, in whole, or read the Overview.
 
Overview
Most of us have said or done something foolish and later regretted it. As you read the Bible verses listed above, notice a word that is used in all of these verses; the word is fool.
Traditionally, the word fool was defined as “one without spiritual wisdom; wicked person.” When we let the devil tempt us with losing self-control, this causes us to do things that are not righteous.
Normally we think of wickedness as something mean or bad that has been planned out ahead of time, but we can actually do wicked things when we say or do things without thinking. In fact, we can hurt people more by careless words and actions than if we planned to hurt them. Matthew 12:36 says that all of us will have to give an account to God for every careless word we speak. The good news is that God will help us with self-control when we ask Him. Take time to pray – encourage one of the kids to talk with God and pray together.
 
Questions for discussion
-Have you ever said or done anything and later you wished you hadn’t?
-What does the Bible say about doing or saying things without thinking first?
-What does it mean to speak in haste?
-When are you tempted to speak without thinking first?
-What does it mean to be provoked in your spirit?
-What does it mean to give full vent to your anger?
-How can you stop yourself from being foolish?

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Lesson 4 – Jesus fights temptation
Read Luke 4:1-13 in part, in whole, or read the Overview.
 
Overview
The Bible says Satan tempted Jesus for forty days. During this time, Jesus did not eat. Satan tempted Jesus with food, power and the opportunity to show off His power and to honor Himself instead of God. When Satan tempted Jesus, Jesus used Bible verses to tell Satan why He wasn’t going to do what he asked Him to do.
The Bible also tells us Jesus was full of the Holy Spirit, which means God helped him be self-controlled. It is the same for you and I. If we try to fight Satan and temptation on our own, it is difficult, and perhaps impossible. If we ask God to fill us with His Holy Spirit to help us fight Satan and temptation, we can be strong and victorious like Jesus.
 
Questions for discussion
-Tell me about a time when you were really, really hungry.
-How badly do you want to eat when you are just starving?
-Can you imagine how hungry Jesus must have been after not eating for 40 days?
-If you had not eaten for 40 days and you had the power to turn stone into bread, would you?
-Jesus had all the power in the world and Satan tempted him to show it off, but Jesus didn’t. How did Jesus resist temptation?
-How can we use Scripture to help us maintain self-control?

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Activity Ideas 

Idea #1 – A self-control poster

Directions
1) Help your children draw or trace a picture of a lion on the poster.
2) Next have your children place their hands over the lion and trace around their hands.
3) Write the memory verse of your choice on the poster.
4) Use the poster as a reminder that the best way to defeat Satan when he tries to devour us is to pray.
5) Review the questions for discussion below to enhance your children’s understanding of the concepts.

Throughout the day, encourage your children to clasp their hands together tightly when they feel like they are going to lose self-control. Have them come to you so you can help them pray. Explain that Satan is strong like a lion, but we can be stronger than Satan when we go to God for help. Just as the tracing of their hands covers the lion, they can be stronger than the temptation Satan sends when they are full of the Holy Spirit. Tell your children that putting their hands together will help remind them to talk to God and ask for His help in maintaining self-control.

Questions for discussion
-Could you win in a fight against a real lion?
-Who could help you and how?
-Who does the Bible say is like a lion?
-Why does the Bible say you need to be alert?
-How does Satan try to devour you?
-How can you beat Satan when he is acting like a lion?

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Idea #2 – Giggle game

Directions – physical activity
To play the giggle game, name one person as “it.” The other family members can do anything they want to make this person laugh, except touch them. After the person who is “it” laughs, another person takes a turn being “it” until all family members or players have had a chance.After the game, talk about self-control. Explain that it is usually okay to laugh in life, but there are times when we shouldn’t laugh. We should not laugh when someone is hurt or sad, during quiet time at school or church, or if they are somewhere where they have been asked to be quiet. The following questions will help to clarify this for young children.
 
Questions for discussion
-Can you think of some times in life when we shouldn’t laugh?
-Eating is fun, like laughing is fun, but there is a time to eat and a time to stop eating. When is it time to stop eating?
-Playing is fun. But when Mom or Dad say it is time to stop, it can be tempting to continue.
-When is it time to stop playing?
-Chasing around and being silly is fun, but there is a time and a place for silliness.
-When is okay to be silly?
-When is it not okay to be silly?
-How can you have self-control in these situations?
 
Key concepts
There are times when we need to obey the instructions of parents and stop doing what seems to be fun. Even though it is tempting to do what feels good instead of stopping, we can ask God to help us be self-controlled and to choose to stop what we are doing.
 
Relevant Scripture
Ecclesiastes 3:1,4 “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heaven… a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance.”


Lessons on Self-Control – Week of 3-19-17

This week: Self-Control

Key Points

  • Self-control is the discipline of delaying impulse or gratification for a greater purpose.
  • The ultimate goal of practicing self-control is to choose Christ over the things of the world.
  • The power to overcome temptation and practice self-control comes from God’s Spirit.

Family Memory Verse: Proverbs 25:28 “Like a city whose walls are broken down is a man who lacks self-control.”

Preschool Activity:
Before mealtime, shake out the sillies by dancing and wiggling together. Then take a deep, calming breath; exhale slowly. This tells your child that mealtime is a calm time when he should remain seated. Use this opportunity to explain what self-control means — choosing to do the right thing even when you don’t really want to. Afterward, be active again as you clean up together.
 
Grade school Activity:
To illustrate self-control for your child, take a small package of M&M’s or other bite-size candy and pour the contents into a bowl. Remove one piece of candy and place it in a second bowl.

Before dinner, offer your child a treat. Explain that he has a choice: He can either choose to eat the single candy now or he can choose to wait until after dinner and enjoy a full bowl of candy. Help him choose to wait. Later, after he’s finished the treat, ask your child if he feels it was worth the wait.

Explain to your child that self-control begins with controlling your “self.” Everyone has a “Mr. Self” or “Miss Self.” Mr. Self hates to be patient. Miss Self doesn’t think about tomorrow; she wants as much as she can get today. But God tells us that sometimes we have to wait. He knows that is hard for us, but He promises it will be worth it (Isaiah 30:18). Ask your child to think of times when self-control is difficult but worth the effort.

Tween Activity
Use this activity to help your tween learn how to recognize and overcome temptation. Over several days, have your tween jot down examples of tempting ads as he watches TV, passes billboards or notices in-store promotions. Let him know you will do the same. Your lists might include ads for junk food, must-see movies, fad clothing or anything else that’s enticing. Then get together with your child to share your lists.

Have your tween tell what was most tempting to him and why. Talk about how giving in to temptations now might cause us to give up something better in the future. Brainstorm examples such as spending money on candy instead of saving it for something more meaningful. Explain how self-control allows us to say “no” to something in the moment in favor of a greater “yes” in the future.

Once your tween understands how easy it is to be tempted, role-play the part of a friend who lacks self-control — someone who gossips, skips class or watches movies that he knows he shouldn’t. Ask your child how she will respond when encountering this behavior. How will she avoid the temptation to give in or take part? This exercise will help your child see how temptations are veiled in everyday interactions. End by reading 1 Corinthians 10:13 as an assurance that, even though temptation is all around us, God will help us exercise self-control.

 

Other verses to discuss this week:

Galatians 5:16-25
Titus 2:11-14
1 Peter 1:13-15
1 John 2:15-17


Mary’s Pregnancy – Week of 3-12-17

This week, your children learned about Mary and the promise of a child. Mary had not been married (although betrothed) she had no physical way of becoming pregnant since she was still a virgin. Gabriel the angel had come to Mary and told her about her special pregnancy and the special child she was going to give birth to. Mary was scared, but chose to submit to God’s will and found happiness. All this is found in Luke 1:26-56).

This week we are going to have lessons that are based on some emotions that Mary went through. Lesson #3 will be harder concept for many kids to understand. You might need to make additional adaptations for #3.

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Day #1 – Luke 1:26-56 – Mary became Pregnant (excerpts from MSG below)
Q: Have you ever been afraid?
Q: When was the last time? What were you afraid of?
Q: Would you be scared if you saw an angel?

We are going to read about Mary. Mary was Jesus’ mother. Mary got to talk to an angel before Jesus was born. She was scared at first.

Read: God sent the angel Gabriel to… a virgin engaged to be married… [her] name [was] Mary… Gabriel greeted her: “Good morning! You’re beautiful with God’s beauty, Beautiful inside and out!” [Mary] was… shaken… But the angel assured her, “Mary, you have nothing to fear.”
Q: Was the angel mean or nice?
Q: Did the angel Gabriel want Mary to be scared?
 
Read: God has a surprise for you: You will become pregnant and give birth to a son and call his name Jesus.
[Your son] will be great… The Lord God will give him the throne [and] he will rule… forever.”
Q: What did the angel promise to Mary? (she would have a son, he would be a king)
 
Read: Mary said to the angel, “But how…”  
The angel answered, The Holy Spirit will come upon you…Therefore, the child you bring to birth will be called Holy, Son of God… Nothing, you see, is impossible with God.” And Mary said, “Yes, I see it all now: I’m… ready to serve. Let it be with me just as you say.”
Q: How did Mary feel after she found out she was going to have a baby? Was she scared, confused, happy?
Q: When Mary was scared and confused, what did she do? (she asked questions, then trusted God) 
Q: What should we do when we are scared or confused? (ask questions and trust)
Q: Who can we go to ask questions? (God, parent, grandparent, teacher)
Q: Who can you trust to help give you good information? (God, parent, grandparent, teacher)

Pray: Dear God, Thank you for loving Mary. Thank you for picking her for a special job. Thank you for loving us, too. Help us learn to trust you with the answers you give us.

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Day #2 – Mark 4:35-41 – Dealing with Fear (excerpts from MSG below)
Q: Do you remember Mary? She was afraid when she first met the angel.
Q: What did Mary do when she was scared? (she trusted God)
Q: Do you think you would be scared if Jesus was right beside you and could hold your hand?
Q: Did you know that the disciples got scared one time while Jesus was right there with them?
 
Read: Late that day he said to them, “Let’s go across to the other side.” They took him in the boat as he was. Other boats came along. A huge storm came up. Waves poured into the boat, threatening to sink it. And Jesus was in the stern, head on a pillow, sleeping! They roused him, saying, “Teacher, is it nothing to you that we’re going down?”
Q: What happened in this story? (encourage kids to tell the story in their words)
 
Discuss: Some disciples had been fishermen, but this was a horrible storm – one of the worst they had ever seen! They thought they were going to die in the storm because their ship was sinking. What were the disciples trying to do while they were scared? (wake up Jesus)
Q: Remember when you said you were scared of _________? The disciples were VERY scared!
 
Read: Awake now, [Jesus] told the wind to pipe down and said to the sea, “Quiet! Settle down!” The wind ran out of breath; the sea became smooth as glass. Jesus reprimanded the disciples: “Why are you such cowards? Don’t you have any faith at all?” They were in absolute awe… “[The] wind and sea at his beck and call!”
Q: What did the disciples do when they were scared? (they ran to Jesus for help)
Q: Was Jesus able to help them?
 
-Transition- OK, now I want you to think about how Mary felt when she first saw the angel.
 
Q: How did Mary feel? (scared)
Q: What did she do? (ran/prayed to God for help – just like the disciples)
Q: if Mary asked God for help, and the disciples asked Jesus for help, can we ask for help when we are scared, too?
 
Pray: Thank you God for answering prayer. You helped calm the storm, and helped Mary when she was afraid. Please help me when I am afraid, too.

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Day #3 – Genesis 11:1-9 – Dealing with Confusion (excerpts from MSG below)
See notes at the top of page #1 – this is a harder concept for many children.
 
Read: At one time, the whole Earth spoke the same language…They said to one another… “Come, let’s build ourselves a city and a tower that reaches Heaven. Let’s make ourselves famous so we won’t be scattered here and there across the Earth.” God came down to look over the city and the tower those people had built. God took one look and said, “One people, one language; why, this is only a first step. No telling what they’ll come up with next—they’ll stop at nothing! Come, we’ll go down and garble their speech so they won’t understand each other.” 
Then God scattered them from there all over the world. And they had to quit building the city. That’s how it came to be called Babel, because there God turned their language into “babble.” From there God scattered them all over the world.
 
Discuss: 
Q: When Mary was scared and confused, who did she submit/turn to? (God)
Q: When the disciples were scared and didn’t know what was going to happen, who did they ask for help? (Jesus)
Q: When we are scared or confused, can we ask God for help? (yes)
Q: Do you ever try to do things without God’s help?
 
The people in Genesis tried to do things without going to God for help. They thought they could do it right all by themselves.
Q: Have you ever made a mess while trying to do things all by yourself?
Q: If you had asked for help while you were ________, would there have been such a big mess?
Q: Did these people ask God for help? Did they try to listen to God? (no)
Q: Do you think that if these people were loving God they would want to build the tower? (no)
Q: So, why were they building a tower? (they wanted power and control)
Q: Did Mary want to take power and control for herself? (no)
Q: Did the disciples want to take power and control away from God? (no)
 
Sometimes, people don’t make wise/smart decisions because they want to do things without asking God if it is a good idea first. Sometimes when we do that, we make bad decisions.
Sometimes you do things without asking for permission. Sometimes you know it is wrong and you want to do it anyway. This is called sin. When you choose to sin, bad things usually happen. (break things, lose things, hurt people)
The people in Genesis knew it was a sin to try to be like God, but they wanted power and control anyway. God didn’t like that, so He stopped them.

What we should learn: We need to trust God to do the right things. We don’t need to try to take power or control away from Him. We need to follow God and His rules. The Bible says when we obey God, we are loving Him. (John 14:15, John 14:23, 1 John 2:3-5, 1 John 5:2-3, 1 John 4:19-20, 2 John 1:6, John 15:10-14, 2 Corinthians 5:14-15, John 15:15-17, and more)

Pray: Dear God, I don’t want to sin against you. I don’t want to do things my way and mess things up. I want to learn to listen to you. I do love you, and I want to obey you.

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Day #4 – Luke 1:39-56 – Dealing with Excitement (excerpts from MSG below)

Discuss: When Drew’s family learned that they were moving to Mississippi for the first time, they were scared and confused. They didn’t know if they would like their new school, their new home, their new church, or if they would make any new friends. After they all prayed about it some, everyone started to listen to what God wanted. Once they did this, they started to get excited about the new possibilities and the move.
Mary (Jesus’ mother) was scared when she first met the angel. Then she was confused because she didn’t understand God’s plan. After she thought about it, she started to get excited about what God was going to do!
 
Read: “Mary didn’t waste a minute. She got up and traveled to a town in Judah in the hill country, straight to Zachariah’s house, and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby in her womb leaped. She was filled with the Holy Spirit, and sang out exuberantly.
And Mary said, I’m bursting with God-news; I’m dancing the song of my Savior God… I’m the most fortunate woman on earth!”
Mary stayed with Elizabeth for three months and then went back to her own home.”
Q: When Mary got excited, where did she go? (her cousin’s = Elizabeth’s house)
Q: Why did she want to go to Elizabeth’s house? (they were both pregnant, and they wanted to be excited together)
Q: When the two mommies got together, what happened? (they both sang and shouted, and the baby in Elizabeth’s tummy jumped around)
Q: What do you like to do when you are excited?
Q: Is it fun to celebrate together?
Q: When we see God doing great things, do we need to celebrate?

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Day #5 – Review ideas with a project
OK, so I loved doing this as a kid, so I am bringing it back!
Make a thingy (I don’t know what it’s called) to review the events of Mary’s discovery that she would have a baby, and that He would become Jesus – our Savior.
 
  • Find a long strip of paper and draw a series of pictures.
  • Take a shoebox and cut out holes on both sides for paper towel rolls. Cut a “screen” in the top.
  • Place the rolls in the holes, and attach both ends of the paper to the rolls. Remember you will need some blank paper after the end of the pictures.
  • Decorate the front, and twist/turn the paper towel rolls to advance/rewind the pictures.
    • click HERE for a sample
 


The Big Picture – Week of 3-5-17

Weekly Devotionals
I want to do things a little differently this week. I wanted to step back some and look at the big picture.
The big picture is that we all want our children to know God, and know that Christ has a plan for them.
With that in mind, I wanted to lay out 5 key steps that discuss God’s plan for each of us. Please take this
week to cover these steps with your family in a developmentally-appropriate way. Having trouble doing
that? We have a class for you (Sunday nights @ 6pm).
 
We started our new Parenting class series out this week on Family Worship and what it means. Over the
next several weeks we will be talking about having real conversations with our children about what it
means to be a Christian (or Christ seeker). To understand what this really is, and why we should be
doing this, we need to remember the main point for the Bible as a whole – the Gospel. Everything in the
Old Testament points to Christ, and everything in the New Testament points to Him as well. Why? It is
all about God restoring individual relationships with Him.
 
Miss a week of the Parenting class? No worries! Every concept and lesson is beneficial. Come join and
learn with all of us.
 
So, these main 5 points of the Big Picture are listed below. Take 1 a day, or find a time to cover this plan
as needed with your kids.
 
Concept #1:
God rules! Take the time to explain that God created everything and is in charge of everything. Read
Genesis 1:1. Read Revelation 4:11 and Colossians 1:16-17. Explain that God’s plan A from the very
beginning was Christ – there wasn’t a plan “A” and then Jesus became plan “B.” God knew from before
creation we would need to be redeemed.
 
Concept #2:
We have sinned. Everyone has sinned – from Adam and Eve to me and you. God cannot be around sin,
so our sin separates us from God. Read Romans 3:23 and Romans 6:23. Just like there are consequences
on this world for speeding, having a messy room, or lying, there are eternal consequences for our sins as
well. Remind them that God had a plan for fixing this, however.
 
Concept #3:
God provided. Read John 3:16-17. God sent Jesus as the answer to the sin separation we deserve. This is
nothing that we could have done on our own. God provided a temporary payment (or postponement)
for sins in the Old Testament by sacrificing innocent animals. He provided an EVERLASTING payment for
those sins through the sacrifice of Jesus the Lamb in the New Testament.
 
Concept #4:
Jesus gives. Jesus lived the perfect life to be that perfect sacrifice. Jesus died for us, but rose again
because He conquered death and our sins. Because of this, we no longer have to suffer all the
consequences of our sins. This was the ultimate gift that God gave mankind. Read Romans 5:8, 2
Corinthians 5:21, and 1 Peter 3:18.
 
Concept #5:
We respond. The gift of salvation (and the beginning of our dedication to Christ) begins when we accept
the gift He provided when He died on the cross. If someone offers to pay your speeding ticket, you must
allow them in order to accept the gift. If you don’t accept the gift, you are still guilty and must pay the fine. Read Romans 10:9-10 and Romans 10:13. We must believe and repent (or turn away from) our
sins. We do not need to continue to sin and hurt Christ in our rebellion. We must learn to submit to Him
and obey.
 
Kids have questions you can’t answer? No worries! We can find the answers together.
 
 
There is a fight… we must be intentional.


5 Ways to Worship – Week of 2-26-17

There are 5 major things that we as adults are supposed to offer up to God according to scripture. This week we are going to discuss 4 of them & how children can make these same sacrifices (a.k.a. Ways to Worship) to Christ.

  • Our Bodies (Romans 12:1-2)
  • Our Finances (Philippians 4:14-18)
  • Our Praise (Hebrews 13:15) – Wednesday’s lesson @ church
  • Our Works (Hebrews 13:16)
  • Our Witness (Romans 15:16)

I believe these lessons will be more beneficial if you can also share the practical ways that you make these same sacrifices. Younger kids will obviously struggle with that more, but older kids can make great connections between you saying something and seeing that you do these things as well.

**Reminder: words in “[]” are words that I used to make the verses easier to read to younger kids. For older kids, please encourage them to read actual scripture.**
 
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 Monday (Day 1) – Our Bodies

Background: Our Bodies are to be a living sacrifice. How can we communicate that to children? It is a tough concept for adults, but let’s see where this goes. 

Read Romans 12:1-2 (excerpts from the MSG): 
“So here’s what I want you to do, [with God’s help]: Take your everyday… life—[sleeping, eating, chores, and conversations]—and place it before God as an offering…
Q: Who wrote Romans? (Paul – the apostle)
Q: Why did Paul write Romans? (A letter to Christians in Rome… He wanted to help them learn about God.)
Q: What was Paul trying to teach in these verses? (That we should be proud of everything we do – that in all our actions, we should want God to see our heart/actions/motivations.)
Think: How was God able to distinguish between Cain’s and Able’s offerings? God knew Cain gave out of spite and Able gave out of love.
 
Continue Reading Romans 12:1-2 (excerpts from the MSG): 
Don’t become so [attached to the world around you] that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. [Pay attention to what God] wants from you, and quickly [answer Him]. [Other kids might get you in trouble, but] God brings the best out of you…”
Q: How could we become attached to the world? (By caring about things like sports/Grammy’s/games more than God)
Q: How will God change us if we focus on Him? (Slowly from the inside out. God works on our heart first.)
Q: Who do you know encourages you to try hard and grow? (Teacher? Parent?)
Q: Do you think that God wants you to grow smart/strong/wise too?
 
Discussion: 
Q: What is something that keeps you from focusing on God more?
Q: Do you think that God has been changing you recently? (for older kids)
Q: What, as a family, is keeping us from focusing on God? (for older kids)
Q: How can we give God ourselves/all of us/our bodies?
 
Pray: Dear God, We want to be smart and wise. We want to focus on you. Please help us learn to be more like Jesus and show others that you love them, too.
 
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Tuesday (Day 2) – Our Finances (our stuff)

Background: Yesterday we spoke about giving our bodies to God – and focusing on Him and not the world (the things around us). Today we are going to discuss giving God our finances (our stuff).
 
Discussion: Today we are going to talk about how we can use our things to show love (God’s love) to others.
Q: Is it wrong to have lots of toys/movies/games/clothes? (No.) 
Q: Is it wrong to never share with others? (Probably so.) 
Q: Why? (If we can’t or won’t share, it probably means that we love something more than we love God.)
I’m glad in God, far happier than you would ever guess… Actually, I don’t [need] anything personally. I’ve learned… to be [happy no matter what]. I’m just as happy with little [or lots]… hands full or hands empty. Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything [with God].
Q: Who wrote Philippians? (Paul)
Q: Where was Paul when he wrote it? (In jail – he had been arrested for telling people about God.)
Q: Was Paul sad or angry for being in jail? (No.)
Q: Why not? (Paul had learned that stuff doesn’t make anyone happy for very long.)
 
Read vs. 15-17 (excerpts): 
“You Philippians… know… that when I first left Macedonia [with God’s message], not one church helped… except you. You were the only one. Even while I was in Thessalonica, you helped out—and not only once, but twice.”
Q: What is Paul telling us in this part? (That his friends from Philippi helped him by giving him money and things.)
Q: Why did his friends give him stuff? (Because Paul wanted to go to new cities and tell people about Jesus.)
Q: How did the gifts help Paul tell others about Jesus? (Paul could pay for hotel rooms/travelling expenses/food. If Paul had to pay for everything himself, he could not have afforded the trips.) 
 
Read vs. 18-20 (excerpts): 
And now I have it all—and keep getting more! The gifts you sent with [our friend] were more than enough… pleasing God no end. You can be sure that God will take care of everything you need…
Q: Does it make God happy when we help others? (Yes.)
Q: Is giving money to the church/missionaries a way to help others and God?
Q: Is giving things to the homeless/sick/disabled a good way to share God’s love?
 
Discussion: Sometimes people need help because they lose a job, get sick, or get too old to take care of things by themselves. Sometimes people need help because they are just having a bad day. Sometimes giving someone money or a blanket can help them in wonderful ways. Sometimes just being nice and giving a smile helps people feel better, too.
Q: Who do you want to be nice to tomorrow?
Q: What are you going to do to show them you want to be nice?
Q: How are you going to show God’s love to them?
 
Pray: Dear God, Please help us to remember to be nice to others. Help us to have giving hearts. Help us to share.
 
 
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Wednesday (Day 3)
Bible lessons taught at church. Come as a family to worship and learn!
 
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Thursday (Day 4) – Our Works

Background: The author of Hebrews tackles many Jewish traditions, and puts many of them in the Christian light for the first time. He tries to explain how Christ is the fulfillment of all of the OT laws, and shows others how Christ would have thought about many “modern day” concepts of the 1st 
century.
Q: Is time important to you?
Q: If you had a free day, what would you want to do with the time you had?
 
Read: Hebrews 13:16 (excerpts from MSG)
…God [especially loves] acts of worship—a different kind of “sacrifice”— [worship can] take place in [the] kitchen and [the] workplace and on the streets.
Q: Why is worship called a “sacrifice”? (We are giving God our time and attention.)
Q: Where can we worship God? (Anywhere and everywhere.)
Q: What is worship? (Praising God and His attributes)
Q: How can we worship God in the car? In your bedroom? In the bathroom? (Sing, pray, read the Bible, talk about God with others, dance) 
Q: Do you like spending time with the people you love?
Q: Why would God like worship more than other things we could do? (He loves spending time with us.)
 
Pray: Dear God, Thank you for who you are. Thank you for loving and caring for us. Thank you for listening to us pray, and sing. 
 
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Friday (Day 5) – Our Witness 
Witnessing (or sharing God’s plan of salvation) is hard for many of us. There are a million (slight exaggeration) different scripted ways to present the Gospel, but many people find that they don’t like using a scripted method.
With kids, they don’t have much of a story (they are just kids after all), so try to talk to your kids about how you can show God’s love to someone. A few ideas are below:
  • Make a card for the mailman or the check-out guy.
  • Draw a picture for a random old person at the store.
  • Put change in a vending machine.
  • Hold the door open for someone.
  • Do a chore for someone without them knowing.
  • Return someone’s cart at the store.
  • Give candy to your bank teller.
  • Leave a letter in a library book.
  • Feed the birds.

I found a sheet with 100 ideas that I will link from the website as well. Try to pick a day where you can do something once a week. Make it your “Day of Kindness” or “Day of sharing.”