Never Left Alone

 

Sanctity of Life Sundayneverleftalone

ThemeWe can never be orphaned because God has adopted us as His sons and daughters.  He cherishes each and every life.

Scripture:  John 14:15-21

MaterialsSuite for Solo Cello No. 1 in G Major (or any other piece by Bach), a slideshow or printed cards of famous orphans

Opening:  Have children sit in a circle.  Introduce yourself.  Light the candle and say, “We can’t see God, but we can see his light in the world.  This candle reminds us that God is here with us.”  Say a quick opening prayer for your time together and lead the Lord’s Prayer.

Lesson:  Who can tell me what it means to be an “orphan”.  What does it mean to be adopted?  Allow and guide answers as necessary.  To be orphaned means that a person has lost both of their parents either through death or through other circumstances.  The life and future of an orphan can be very uncertain, because people are so shaped by those who love and take care of them.  Adoption is an amazing thing for an orphan.  When someone is adopted by a new family, that family cares for them in the very same way they care and love their own children.

Begin music.  We are going to have a little history lesson and learn about three orphans whose lives would have been very different had it not been for the families who adopted them.  The first little boy we are going to talk about was orphaned when he was nine years old.  After moving half way across the United States, he was adopted by an uncle who taught him the importance of hard work.  Forty-four years later, after many different jobs and experiences, this little boy became the thirty-first president of the United States, Herbert Hoover.  He was President in a very difficult time but is known for creating many job opportunities and helping the poorest families during the Great Depression.

The next little boy was born as a slave and was kidnapped with his mother and sister when he was only one week old!  The master who owned this little boy’s family searched for his missing slaves but only found the little baby.  Fortunately for the little baby, this white family adopted him and raised him as their own son.  For the time they were in, this was a very strange and dangerous thing for a white family to do, but they cared for and taught this little boy until he left home to attend school.  This little boy became a great scientist known for his work with farmers and peanuts; his name was George Washington Carver.

The last little boy we are going to talk about was orphaned when he was ten years old.  After he lost his parents, he was adopted by his oldest brother, who was a great musician.  While shadowing his older brother, this little boy learned all about music, how to play many different types of instruments, and met many famous composers.  When he grew up, he wrote many beautiful pieces of music, including the one we are listening to now – his name was Johann Sebastian Bach.

None of these men could have achieved what they did without someone realizing that their lives were valuable and that they were worth the time and effort to raise them.  In the same way, God, our Heavenly Father, sees value in our lives and has adopted us as His sons and daughters.  Jesus told his disciples that he would not leave them as orphans, and because Jesus conquered death, he has not been separated from us.  He also sent his Holy Spirit to be with us – so we might feel alone, sad or scared sometimes, but we will never be without the comfort of God, our Father who loves and cares for us as much as he loves and cares for his own son, Jesus.

Closing PrayerDear God, thank you so much for bringing us into your family.  Thank you for showing us that we are loved and cherished in your eyes.  Help us to treat everyone in our lives with that same love and respect, and teach the world that everyone is worthwhile.  Amen.

~ Family Study Guide ~

John 14:15-21

Monday – verse 15

“If you love me, you will keep my commandments.”

  1. Why do we have rules or commandments?  What would life (at home, at school, on the road, etc.) be like if there were no rules?  What is the purpose of commandments in the Bible for us today?
  2. This passage in John comes after Jesus tells his disciples that he will soon die.  He asks them to remember all that he has taught them and reminds them that the natural actions of loving him are doing the things he commanded.  As a family, pray that you will cherish the words of God in your heart and that you will live out the commandments, rules, in your daily lives.

Tuesday – verses 16-17

“and I will ask the Father and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him.  You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.”

  1. Why do you think Jesus thought it was necessary to send the Holy Spirit, the Helper, to the disciples after he left the earth?  Did he not trust that they could spread the Word by themselves?
  2. Obviously, we cannot do anything in our own power – we need the help of the Holy Spirit.  Discuss how the Holy Spirit can help you with something difficult you are facing now.  Pray together for each other and for the Holy Spirit to guide and direct you in whatever path you directed.

Wednesday – verses 18-19

“I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.  Yet a little while and the world will see me no more, but you will see me.  Because I live, you also will live.”

  1. Jesus is saying that even though he will die, he will not be leaving, or orphaning us.  How is his death different?
  2. To us, Jesus’ resurrection is a miracle, something only he could do.  He lives!  But why do we, ordinary people, get to share in his victory, his life after death?  Thank God tonight, as a family, for the amazing love God demonstrated by having his only Son die the death that was meant for us.

Thursday – verse 20

“In that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you.”

  1. Cover your eyes with your fingers.  How much can you see?  Would you be able to move around very well?  Of course not!  Jesus said many things to his disciples that confused them, but here he was telling them that soon everything will be made clear, and they will be able to understand.
  2. Is there something in the Bible, or something Jesus has said that confuses you?  Talk about it as a family and then pray that the Holy Spirit will make God’s Word clear to you.

Friday – verse 21

“Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me.  And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.”

  1. Have you ever heard the phrase, “Your actions speak louder than your words”?  What does it mean?  How does following Jesus’ commandments show that we love him?
  2. Look up the word “manifest”.  What does it mean?  How will Jesus manifest himself to us today?  (Remember, it can also be a feeling.)  As a family, pray that your love for Christ will be made clear to everyone through your actions and that Jesus will send us his comfort and love.

Saturday – Prepare for Worship

Together, review and reflect on this week’s lesson from John 14.  Did anything profoundly affect you?  Did any verses stick with you?  Did any of the discussions or prayers affect your bond as a family?

Preview the reading for Sunday, Luke 4:14-21.  This reading cannot be found in the children’s Bibles, but you may consider using the NIV or The Message if you have younger children.  Ask them if they have any questions about the passage.  Help clarify where you can, and write down any questions to which you do not know the answers.  It would be wonderful for you to take those questions to church and see if they are answered in the sermon.  If they are not, have your child ask your minister after the service.  I can guarantee that he will be thrilled!

Linking up with:
http://christianmommyblogger.com Picture Womanhood With Purpose A Little R & R

TheBetterMom.com GraceLaced Mondays The Alabaster Jar  USE this for BLOG

 Growing Home Photobucket Artful Homemaking CSAHM Parenting Button

  WIPWednesday  Walking Redeemed Womanhood With Purpose Missional Women

 

The Alabaster Jar TheBetterMom.com  essentialthingdevotions.com

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A Greater Plan

agreatplan

Theme: The meaning of Baptism &God’s plan for us

Scripture: Luke 3:15-22

Materials: baptism gown (or other white garment), oil, water, construction paper, glue, markers, ribbon or string for hanging

Opening: Have children sit in a circle. Introduce yourself. Light the candle and say, “We can’t see God, but we can see his light in the world. This candle reminds us that God is here with us.” Say a quick opening prayer for your time together and lead the Lord’s Prayer.

Lesson: Today is a special day – does anyone know what we are remembering today? Today is the day when we remember the baptism of Jesus. Let’s read about his baptism from the Beginner’s Bible. Read pages 303-307. Comprehension questions: Who baptized Jesus? What was John’s life like – what did he do? What happened after John baptized Jesus?

We too, like Jesus, get baptized. Who can tell us a little bit about what happens during a baptism service and what baptism means? Allow time for answers. Okay, that was great! I’m going to fill in some of the gaps. There are three major symbols in baptism – a white outfit, oil, and water. The water and the white outfit mean similar things: that we are washed clean from our sins and that we have gotten rid of our “old selves” and put on Christ – the changes of new life. The oil is used to mark your forehead, to anoint you, and the words “you are sealed by the Holy Spirit in Baptism and marked as Christ’s own forever. Amen.” are spoken over you.

Our baptism is very similar to, symbolic of, Jesus’ baptism, and it means that we are adopted into His family. When you are part of a family, you are a part of all of the plans of that family. God has a special rescue plan for His people, and we are all part of that plan. Everyone, together and individually, has special roles in this plan, but we are all called to live like Jesus and spread the good news of the Bible. And one day, maybe even in your life, Jesus will come back to earth and bring His family to His Kingdom.

Closing prayer: Dear God, thank you so much for the gift and sacrifice of your Son. Thank you for allowing us to be a part of your great plan and including us in the baptism of Jesus. Help us to live out a life that brings you glory and serves as a shining example in this dark world. Amen.

Closing activity: Help children trace their hands on construction paper. Before helping them cut out their handprints, have them write their name on their hands. Glue (or attach in some way) the handprints together to form a wreath with a banner in the middle that says: “I am part of God’s plan!” Make enough hands to fill the wreath. Hang the colorful wreath in a prominent area.

handwreath

~ Family Study Guide ~

Luke 3:15-22 

Monday – verses 15-16

As the people were in expectation, and all were questioning in their hearts concerning John, whether he might be the Christ, John answered them all, saying, “I baptize you with water, but he who is mightier than I is coming, the strap of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.

  1. John was a prophet and a cousin of Jesus, but he says that not even he is worthy enough serve and be near Jesus.  What makes Jesus so great, and why is it miraculous that we have been adopted to be his brothers and sisters?
  2. John could only baptize with water and tell people to ask for forgiveness from God.  Jesus could do much more – how did the effect of baptism change after Jesus was baptized?  What does that mean for you?  Close in prayer as a family, and specifically ask for the Holy Spirit to be present in your life.

Tuesday – verse 17

His winnowing fork is in his hand, to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.”

  1. Why does Jesus have the supreme right and ability to separate the “good wheat” from the “chaff” (His people who have served His purpose from those who do not know him).
  2. We, as God’s people, are on the earth to serve a purpose, to be a part of his great rescue plan.  What does he call all of us to do in this life.  What has he called you to specifically do?  As you close in prayer, ask God to bless your ministry and/or to show you how you can serve him this week.

Wednesday – verse 18

So with many other exhortations he preached good news to the people.

  1.  John was a popular preacher – many came to listen to him.  What do you think made him so popular?  What made people listen?  (Remember, he did not preach an easy message, but always taught the truth.  Look back farther in the chapter to see who was in the crowds listening.)
  2. You do not have to be a prophet or preacher to share Jesus’ message with people you know.  Is there someone in your life who needs to hear a specific message this week?  As a family, find pieces of scripture that might help with the situation.  Then, ask God to guide you as you speak with this person, that you will show nothing but the love of Jesus in your speech and actions.

Thursday – verses 19-20

But Herod the tetrarch, who had been reproved by him for Herodias, his brother’s wife, and for all the evil things that Herod had done,added this to them all, that he locked up John in prison.

  1. Why did Herod lock up John?  (If you need to, read the NIV translation for help: But when John rebuked Herod the tetrarch because of his marriage to Herodias, his brother’s wife, and all the other evil things he had done…)
  2. Herod concluded that the only way he could get John to be quiet was to lock him up in jail (but I am willing to bet that John still preached to his jailers and fellow inmates).  Oh! that this would be the only way someone could unsuccessfully get us be quiet about Jesus!  Is there something holding you back from sharing the good news?  Why?  Read Hebrews 13:6 for assurance.  Ask God to give you strength, wisdom, and discernment as you live out the Gospel and share Jesus’ message with the world.

Friday – verses 21-22

 Now when all the people were baptized, and when Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, the heavens were opened, and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form, like a dove; and a voice came from heaven, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.”

  1. How is the oil that our heads are anointed with at our baptism symbolic of the dove descending on Jesus?
  2. Jesus was hated by many in his life for the message he taught.  You too will share in this discomfort others have for our faith. But, like Jesus, God will one day announce the we are his sons and daughters, he will bring us to His home.  How does that make you feel?  How might this comfort change the way you live your daily life?  As a family, thank God for the assurance He gives us of His love and provision in this life and in the next.  Ask that you will never turn away from His message and that you will keep Him as your rock and foundation.

Saturday – Prepare for Worship

Together, review and reflect on this week’s lesson from Luke 3.  Did anything profoundly affect you?  Did any verses stick with you?  Did any of the discussions or prayers affect your bond as a family?

Preview the reading for Sunday, John 8:15-21.  This reading cannot be found in the children’s Bibles, but you may consider using the NIV or The Message if you have younger children.  It may be helpful to find a picture of Jesus teaching to give them something on which to focus.  Ask them if they have any questions.  Help clarify where you can, and write down any questions to which you do not know the answers.  It would be wonderful for you to take those questions to church and see if they are answered in the sermon.  If they are not, have your child ask your minister after the service.  I can guarantee that he will be thrilled!

Linking up with:
http://christianmommyblogger.com Picture Womanhood With Purpose A Little R & R

TheBetterMom.com GraceLaced Mondays The Alabaster Jar  USE this for BLOG

 Growing Home Photobucket Artful Homemaking CSAHM Parenting Button

  WIPWednesday  Walking Redeemed Womanhood With Purpose Missional Women

 

The Alabaster Jar TheBetterMom.com 

A Song for the Father

songforfather

Theme:  Mary Sunday and making our lives a song dedicated to God

Scripture:  Luke 1:26-56

Materials:  A simplified translation of the story of Mary, pictures or a slide show to pair with the reading, paper and coloring/writing supplies

Opening:  Have children sit in a circle.  Introduce yourself.  Light three candles in the Advent wreath (including the pink one) and say, “We can’t see God, but we can see his light in the world.  These candles remind us that God is here with us and remind us to prepare for the birth of Christ!  We are lighting the pink candle today because today is the Sunday when we remember Mary.”  Say a quick opening prayer for your time together and lead the Lord’s Prayer.

Lesson:  I would like everyone to think of their favorite song and share it with the rest of us.  Why is it your favorite song?  One of my favorite songs is called “I Get to Be the One” by J.J. Heller.  It is about a mother singing to her new baby and telling the new baby all of the things they get to do together.  Can anyone guess why that is one of my favorite songs?  That’s correct – I just had a baby and I sing that song to her all of the time! Continue reading

Heaven Broke Through

heavenbrokethrough

Theme:  Why the message of John the Baptist is still so important today.

Scripture:  Luke 3:7-18

Materials:  Advent wreath, dove ornament, tissue paper, glue, ribbon, The Jesus Storybook Bible

Opening:  Have children sit in a circle.  Introduce yourself.  Light the candle and say, “We can’t see God, but we can see his light in the world.  This candle reminds us that God is here with us.”  Say a quick opening prayer for your time together and lead the Lord’s Prayer.

Lesson:  Right now we are celebrating a special church season called “Advent”.  Can anyone tell me what Advent is?  The word advent means “the arrival of a notable person, thing, or event”.  Who and what are we waiting for?  That is correct!  We are waiting for Jesus and getting ready for Christmas!  I’m sure that your family has already decorated for Christmas.  When I was growing up, I always knew that Christmas was getting close when one of these came out.  Bring out Advent wreath.  Who made a wreath like this last week?  Who can tell me a little bit about it?  These four candles represent the four Sundays leading up to Christmas.  These candles are just like the candle we have in this room; they remind us of God and remind us to prepare for the coming of Jesus.

Speaking of preparation, there was a man in the Bible named John the Baptist who’s biggest message was about preparing for the coming of Jesus.  Let’s read about John from our Jesus Storybook Bible.  Read pages 200-207.

Show pages 201-202 and ask: What was John’s message?  Because Heaven had opened up and sent the Savior to the world, John knew that people needed to prepare their hearts to receive the message of Jesus.  There were four things John reminded God’s people to do: Continue reading

Lord of the Sabbath

Theme:  What does Sabbath mean and how is Jesus Lord of the Sabbath?

Scripture:  Mark 2:23-28

Materials:  prayer cards

Opening:  Have children sit in a circle.  Introduce yourself.  Light the candle and say, “We can’t see God, but we can see his light in the world.  This candle reminds us that God is here with us.”  Say a quick opening prayer for your time together and lead the Lord’s Prayer.

Lesson:  Does anyone know what the word “Sabbath” means?  This is kind of a strange word, but it is a word that appears all over the Bible.  Sabbath is the day that God set aside, during Creation, for rest.  Do you think that that means God wants us to sleep for an entire day?  No way!  The Sabbath is the day in the week that we set aside for God; we rest from our normal activities and replace them with activities dedicated to God.  Most people don’t work, or work very little on this day; this is also the day that people come together at a church and worship God.  Can anyone guess which day of the week is the Sabbath?  That’s correct!  I am talking about Sunday!

Who would like to share some ways that Sunday is different from other days of the week?  (no school, come to church, a special meal, family time, Mom & Dad are home, etc.)  Is there anything that we are absolutely not allowed to do on Sunday?  Well, not really, but there used to be many strict laws about the Sabbath.  We are going to read a passage from the Gospel of Mark; here Jesus argues with the Pharisees (the men who believed that they were smarter and more holy than Jesus) about the purpose of the Sabbath.  Listen carefully. Continue reading

Redeem the Time

This is the third and final sermon in the Stewardship Mini Series.  The first sermon on Biblical Foundations can be found here, and the second sermon on gifts and tithing can be found here.  This week we use Ephesians 5:15-20 to explore stewardship of time.  Rather than add one take-home activity, I made a wrote a five day home study that expands on this lesson.  My desire is to provide tools for parents to lead their children in worship and begin meaningful conversations.  I would love input on the take-home activities.

Theme:  Stewardship | Using time to our greatest benefit and to honor God

Scripture:  Ephesians 5:15-20

Materials:  A lunchbox full of junk food, a poster board or large piece of paper, markers

Opening:  Have children sit in a circle.  Introduce yourself.  Light the candle and say, “We can’t see God, but we can see his light in the world.  This candle reminds us that God is here with us.”  Say a quick opening prayer for your time together and lead the Lord’s Prayer.

Lesson:  Who can tell me what we have been talking about in the past few weeks?  *wait for answers, offer hint if needed*  We have been talking about taking care of things, things that God has given to us.  These things (like pets, friends, toys, and time) really belong to God, but he has asked us to take care of them for now.  Last week we ended by talking about some gifts we can give God like our time through prayer or reading the Bible with our parents.  Today we’re going to talk about why it’s good for us to spend time with God.  First, let’s read from the fifth chapter of Ephesians.  Paul tells us how we should and should not live.  When you hear me say Holy Spirit, I want you to stand up and listen carefully, because that is when Paul tells us how we should live.  Now, listen.

So be careful how you live. Don’t live like fools, but [live] like those who are wise.  Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days. Don’t act thoughtlessly, but understand what the Lord wants you to do. Don’t be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life. Instead, be filled with the Holy Spirit, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, and making music to the Lord in your hearts. And give thanks for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Nice job everyone; you can sit now.  Can anyone tell me what we are supposed to do with our lives?  Paul mentioned music a lot – that’s because he wants our hearts to be so full of God’s love and his Word that our hearts sing out his name!  God wants us to spend our lives learning about, praying to, and loving him.  Think about that while we look at what I brought today.

What is this?  *hold up lunchbox*  That’s right, a lunchbox; who usually packs your lunch for you?  Well today I packed my own lunch!  Let’s see what is in here: teddy grahams, a chocolate cupcake, chips, and a soda!  Mmmm, that sounds like a good lunch to me – what do you think?  What?  What’s wrong with my lunch?  Do you mean that if I eat all of this that I might get sick?  You’re right.  This is all junk food – none of it is good for my body.  What do you think would happen if this was all I ever ate?  I would get sick and wouldn’t grow up to be big and strong – you can’t survive without the nutrients from fruits, vegetables, and other good food.

In the same way that we wouldn’t feed our body only junk food, we can’t feed our minds with just junk either.  But a lot of people do – they fill their minds with what is on TV, in magazines, movies, and other junk.  These things aren’t always bad, just like cupcakes aren’t always bad, but we need to make time to put good and nourishing things in our mind.  We have to make time to spend with God.  The Bible says that our strength comes from God, and that strength comes to us from his Word.

Activity:  In the middle of this piece of paper I have drawn a clock and the words “Redeem the Time”.  That means, use every chance you have in the day to worship God.  What are different ways we can spend time with God or show him that we love him during the day?  Together, let’s write or draw different ways we can dedicate our time to God every day.

Closing Prayer:  Dear God, we love you so much and you are so important to us.  Thank you for you servant Paul, for how you used him to speak to us today.  Help us to remember you in our every action and every thought so that we can bring honor and glory to your name.  Amen.

PARENTS! 

  • Monday – Time – Using pictures or words, write out the schedule of a typical day of activities (school, TV time, computer time, outdoor play, etc.).  Use the schedule you made for the lesson last week if you still have it.  If you did not do it last week, ask your child what special time they have set aside for God.  Help them think of times (in the morning, right before bedtime, etc.) when they could be alone with God in prayer, study, or any other form of worship.  If you covered this last week, ask them if they have been able to continue to set aside this time each day.  Keep them accountable and help them make it a habit. Make sure you save the schedule.
  • Tuesday – Opportunity – Using the schedule you made, explore with your child ways that they can bring honor to God through their daily activities.  They can say a quick prayer of thanks for their teachers while they are at school.  They could seek out a classmate with whom they usually do not play.  Chores could be sped along by singing their favorite hymn.  Make sure you ask them what they think they could do before you give options; their answers might surprise you!
  • Wednesday – Junk – Using a green marker, help your child circle all of the things on their schedule that are “junk”.  Junk is anything that is not beneficial for the mind, body or soul.  Remember, treats are not bad, but too much of anything quickly becomes junk!  You might circle TV time, computer time (apart from doing homework), or anything else that might happen too much and interferes with the necessary things (family time, worship time, chores, etc.).  Have them compare the “junk” to the necessary and beneficial things.  If your child is older, make a bar graph or pie chart!  Which category is bigger?  Teaser: How can we make the junk smaller?
  • Thursday – Redeem the Time – Revisit the schedule and any graphs you made.  Ask your child, “How much of our time, talent, and money belong to God?”  The answer is all of it (see A Great Responsibility)!  God has given us many precious gifts, including all of the time we have on this earth – why not use this time to our greatest benefit and to honor our awesome God?  As a family, pray and ask God to help you worship throughout the day.  Ask him to show you how to get rid of the junk and use every moment for his glory.
  • Friday – Commitment – As a family, dedicate, or rededicate, time as a family that is just for God.  This can be singing together, talking about Bible stories – anything that brings you together in worship.  All of these times should include prayer.  Decide how you, as a family, can redeem your time.  This could mean using Sundays as an extended time for family and God (no extra-curriculars), setting a family rule of no TV after _____ pm or instituting prayer before every meal – whatever the Lord is calling you to dedicate as a family.

All Things Come of Thee

This is the second installment of a mini-series on stewardship.  Last week we introduced the concept of stewardship through exploring the story of creation.  This week we continue to build off of the idea that everything belonged to God first, but he still desires, and requires, our time, talent, and tithe.  I am particularly excited about the take-home portion that has a few activities and conversations for families to do together while exploring the different gifts we can dedicate to God.

Theme:  Stewardship | It all belongs to God, but he loves to receive our gifts.

Scripture:  1 Chronicles 29:9-18

Materials:  A wrapped gift (to use as a visual), large paper

Opening:  Have children sit in a circle.  Introduce yourself.  Light the candle and say, “We can’t see God, but we can see his light in the world.  This candle reminds us that God is here with us.”  Say a quick opening prayer for your time together and lead the Lord’s Prayer.

Lesson:  (Post the creation picture if you still have it.)  Does anyone remember what we talked about last week?  (pets, taking care of God’s creation, etc.)  Yes!  We talked about how even though God created everything and everyone around us, he has put us, his children, in charge of his creation.  He wants us to take care of our pets, of nature, of each other until Jesus returns to the Earth.  Good job everyone!

Today we’re going to continue talking about the things that belong to God.  First we are going to listen to a passage from the Old Testament.  Make sure you notice how I feel when I read – am I scared, excited, or sad?  We are also going to be reading about gifts, see if you can figure out what Israel is giving to God. Continue reading