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

Advertisements

Twisted Nails

Theme:  The purpose of the law.

Scripture:  Mark 10:2-9

Materials:  Twisted nail puzzle, flower vase puzzle

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:  I brought something special to show you today.  It may look like just two twisted nails to you, but it is actually a puzzle.  Can you get the two nails apart?  It seems like whoever put this puzzle together didn’t want you to be able to pull the nails apart.

There is a special puzzle in this world, made by God, that was never meant to be pulled apart either.  This puzzle, this union, is called marriage.  Before we talk about the special purpose of marriage, let’s look at what Jesus said.  We are going to read from the gospel of Mark, chapter 10.  There is a special name in this passage, the name of someone from the Old Testament.  Through careful listening, I would like for you to see if you can figure out which man from the Old Testament is mentioned in this passage.  Listen now. Continue reading

Last & First

Theme:  Last in the world, first in the Kingdom

Scripture:  Mark 9:33-37

Materials:  none

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 we are going to read a passage from the Gospel of Mark.  This passage takes place after Jesus and his disciples had been traveling for quite some time.  They rest together in a home, and Jesus takes the opportunity to teach just the disciples.  As we read, I want you to silently keep track, with your fingers, of how many times I say Jesus’ name while I read.  Listen now as I read:

Mark 9:33-37

Then they arrived at a house in the city of Capernaum.  When they were inside, Jesus asked the disciples, “What were you discussing while we were walking?”  But the disciples kept quiet, because they had argued with one another about who was the greatest.  They were ashamed to tell Jesus, because they knew that their argument was wrong.  Jesus sat all of them down and said, “If anyone would be fist, he must be last of all and servant of all.”  (He meant that to be first in his kingdom, you would have to not be proud and to serve others on this world.)  Then, Jesus held a child in his arms and said to the disciples, “Whoever welcomes one of these children in my name also welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me also welcomes he who sent me.”  And who sent Jesus?

First, let’s see who was listening – hold up your fingers to show me how many times we said the name of Jesus.  Nice job, everyone!  Thank you for listening.  Who can tell me about what we just read?  (Prompting questions if needed:  To whom was Jesus speaking?  What were the disciples arguing about?  What did Jesus say?)  Does anyone have any idea what Jesus meant about being last to be first?  (See what kind of answers your children provide, then move on to the illustration to help clarify.)

Illustration:  Here is a story I’ve heard my Dad tell before.

My Dad loved playing sports in school, and he used to always look forward to playing kickball at recess.  Have any of you ever played kickball?  It is so much fun!  Well, the little boys took their game of kickball very seriously and were very picky about who would be on their teams.  My Dad tried to pick the very best players for his team – he was used to winning every game.  One day, before recess, the teacher pulled my Dad aside and asked him to do something.  “Karl,” she said, “Today, I want you to pick Marty first when you are making your kickball team.”  Oh no, he thought.  Marty was a nice guy, but he was a terrible athlete!  He was such a slow runner and usually missed the ball.  How would his team ever win the game if Marty was on his team?  But then, the teacher gave him The Look.  You know that look – the one that says, “You know what you are supposed to do.”  Oh dear, what was my Dad going to do?

At recess, my Dad and the other team captain flipped a coin to see who would begin picking their team first – my Dad won the coin flip.  He would get to choose his first team member.  He was still wrestling in his mind, he could win for sure and get The Look again from the teacher, or he could choose Marty first for his team.  What would you do?  My Dad let out a deep breath, and then he chose…Marty.  You should have seen his face!  Marty almost didn’t believe it!  He ran to my Dad’s side and stood behind him just beaming with joy.

My Dad’s team lost the kickball game that recess, but he didn’t mind so much.  He realized that being able to serve Marty gave him far more joy than winning the game.

In this story, how was my Dad first and last?  By worldly standards, he was last, because he lost the game.  But, by God’s standards, he was first, because he put aside his own wants and chose Marty.  It wasn’t easy, but by serving Marty, my Dad honored, welcomed, God.

Closing prayer:  Dear Jesus, thank you for coming to this earth to become last for us, for serving and teaching us.  Lead us as we grow, and show us how to serve others so that we can honor you with our lives.  This week, show us how we can serve you by serving others.  Amen.

PARENTS:  Review this lesson with your children this week.  Ask them about the kickball story.  See how they feel about choosing Marty – would it be hard for them?  Why was it the right thing to do?  Then, brainstorm with your child about how they can serve someone in their life.  Is there someone at school they can be a friend to?  Is there some way they can put their sibling first?  Make sure to point back to Jesus when you are talking about service – when we put other people ahead of ourselves, we are welcoming Jesus in to our hearts and lives.

Healing Hands

I am working on reevaluating the lesson I write.  If you are wondering, I am writing sermons for two churches now – one follows the lectionary (you should be able to search for them accordingly) and the other follows the lectionary on holy days but, otherwise, follows monthly themes (which I am also trying to group in categories).  There is a small difference with this sermon which I will try to implement with other sermons.  Where I cannot use stories from The Jesus Storybook Bible or The New Beginners Bible, I will be rewriting the passages for the children.  DO NOTE: Rewriting these stories does not mean that I am dumbing them down.  One of the reasons that I write children’s sermons is because I believe that children of all ages can embrace the truth of the Gospel.  Difficult subjects, such as the crucifixion, should not be skirted around.  My goal in rewriting some of the passages from the Bible for children is to write them in a plain language so that they can better grasp the message(s) from God.  I hope that this, along with guiding questions before reading the passage, will help prepare them to listen to Bible readings when they begin attending church for the full service.  If you have any suggestions to help me train them for church participation or Gospel understanding, please share them with me.  🙂

Theme:  Jesus can do far more than we can ask and can take away all the things that hold us back from fully worshiping him with our lives.

ScriptureMark 7:31-37

Materials:  A few cotton balls, a sleeping mask

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 we are going to read a story of Jesus healing a man from the Gospel of Mark.  I want to you to listen for what is wrong with the man who is healed, what the man’s friends ask Jesus to do, and what Jesus does.

Mark 7:31-37

One day a group of friends brought a man to Jesus who had not been able to hear since he was born.  He also had great difficulty with speaking.  The friends begged Jesus to touch the man and pray for him.  Jesus took them away from the crowd of people so they could be alone together.  Jesus put his fingers in the deaf-man’s ears, he spit, and then he touched the man’s tongue.  Jesus looked up to Heaven and commanded, “Be opened”.  Suddenly, the man’s ears were opened and he was able to speak clearly.  The man and his friends were so excited!  Jesus told them to keep it a secret, to not tell about his healing to anyone, but the more he told them to be quiet, the more excited they became!  They were bursting with so much joy and amazement that they couldn’t help but tell everyone they saw.  They told everyone who would listen that Jesus performs miracles and they are all good.  He can even make the deaf hear and the mute speak.

Does anyone have any questions about what we just read?  Who can tell me what was wrong with the man who came to Jesus?  What did the deaf-man’s friends ask Jesus to do?  Did you notice that the friends didn’t ask Jesus to heal their friend but only touch and pray for him?  How surprised to you think they were when Jesus did a most amazing thing by completely healing the man?  I would be shocked!  How does Jesus heal him?  What happens after Jesus heals the man?

Illustration:  I need three volunteers.  Each of my volunteers will have one impediment – something that prevents them from fully understanding or doing the directions I give them.  One of you will be deaf.  Help this child stuff their ears with cotton.  One of you will be blind.  Give this child the sleeping mask or other blindfold.  And one of you will not be able to speak.  Instruct this child to firmly place their hand over their mouth to remind them not to open their mouth.  Once all of the impediments are in place, instruct them to sing Jesus Loves Me while demonstrating the related sign language.  They will each have different difficulties with singing the song.  After one or two rounds of the song, have the volunteers remove their impediments.  Each person had a different problem with this song.  Child 1 could do the signs, but couldn’t hear what song we were singing.  Child 2 could sing, but could not see what we were doing.  And Child 3 had a difficult time signing with one hand and could not sing with us.  Now, that these barriers are removed let’s all sing together.

In the same way that Jesus healed the man’s ears and mouth so that he could more easily worship God with his life, so Jesus also sends his Holy Spirit to relieve us of any barriers that keep us from being in full relationship with God.  If we only ask for help, Jesus can do far more than we ever could have expected and introduce us to a wonderful and abiding relationship with him and the Father.

Closing prayer:  Dear Jesus, thank you so much for all of the miracles you performed while you were on this world and for showing us the way to the Father.  You have made it possible for us to have hope in this life, to worship you with complete surrender, and to live with you after life on this world.  We love you so much.  Please continue to bless us with your Holy Spirit so that we can grow and worship you with our whole lives.  Amen.

PARENTS!  Review this lesson during the week.  Ask your children if they have any new questions about the story or the message.  Then, discuss with your child what barriers to a godly and worshipful life the Holy Spirit can remove for us.  This might be a difficult, abstract thing to talk about with your child, so give them examples of areas the Holy Spirit can help with.  For me, he is working on focus and complete surrender during worship.  He has also helped me in the past year become more comfortable praying aloud with other people.  In your life, what barriers has he removed for you?  What is he currently helping you with?  What is he helping your child with?  (Answers could be things like sharing, respecting family prayer time, paying more attention to Bible stories, being a friend to the friendless, etc.)

Stand Firm

Theme:  Hold fast to the teachings of God and practice spiritual disciplines.

Scripture:  Deuteronomy 4:1-9, Mark 7:1-23, Ephesians 6:10-20

Materials:  Soldier “paper doll”, weapon cut-outs, tape/glue/velcro

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:  I am thinking of a certain job.  I am going to give you a few clues and then give you an opportunity to guess.  This person is brave, loyal, and strong.  They may have many different roles in this job, but their main job is to protect their country.  Can you guess what job I’m thinking about?  That’s correct!  I am thinking of a soldier!  Do any of you know a soldier?  What are they like?

When you think of a soldier you might think of someone like these two men wearing green fatigues, boots, and patches.  You might even think about some of the weapons they use.  We are going to talk about a similar warrior – a Roman soldier.  They had many of the same qualities and duties of our soldiers today, but, boy, did they dress differently!  Their weapons were different too!  Each piece of a Roman soldier’s uniform had a very special purpose, most preserved the soldier’s life.  We are going to talk about the different parts of a Roman soldier’s armor, but first we are going to read from the book of Ephesians and hear about how Paul compares Christian training to the different parts of a soldier’s armor.

Read Ephesians 6:10-20 from the Bible provided.

Paul tells the believers, in this letter, things like “stand firm”, “withstand”, “keep alert”, and “persevere”.   All of these words remind us to continue in our walk with God and to not forget all of the blessings he has given us.  In Deuteronomy, Moses urges God’s people to “take care, and keep your soul diligently, lest you forget the things that your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life”.  Both Paul and Moses knew how easy it is for us to forget about God and continue on with our lives.  It might seem harmless to go a couple days without praying or spending time with God by reading the Bible, but those few days can quickly turn into weeks, month, or even years where we don’t give God a second thought.  How sad!  This is why we must be warriors for God.  Being a warrior doesn’t mean that you are always fighting, but all soldiers continue to train so that they remain strong for the day when they do have to fight.  We too have to train every day so that we will have the strength of God’s words in our hearts and trust in his power in dark days.

Illustration:  Print the Roman soldier out on a large sheet of paper – color him if you would like.  Print out the pieces of armor on the same size paper and cut each out.  I will be gluing tin foil on some of them to give them a stronger appearance.  As you describe each piece of armor, have a child tape/glue/Velcro the corresponding piece to the soldier and have the rest of the children color the corresponding piece of armor on their coloring sheets of the soldier.  It will be much easier if you specify the color of each piece: “Now find the breastplate and color it blue.  Can you find the sword and color it grey?”  Let’s look at the different pieces of armor Paul describes and see how they are central to our daily walk with God.

  • First, Paul talks about the belt of truth.  The belt was so important to a Roman soldier since it held the sheath for their sword and the strips of leather that protected their lower body.  Godly truth is important to us because we need it to carry the sword of the Spirit and use the sword well.
  • Next, is the breastplate of righteousness.  The breastplate protects a lot of vital organs – heart, lungs, stomach.  An attack to any of these would surely mean death.  In the same way, not walking in the righteousness of God or following his path for our lives leads to real death.  But his way protects us from all evil.
  • Shoes may not seem like an important part of the armor of God, but think about how little things, like sticks and rocks, hurt our tender feet and prevent us from continuing on our path.  Shoes allow us to step freely and without fear while we turn our full attention to the battle at hand.
  • The shield of faith – A Roman’s shield was huge (three feet tall) and curved, so not only did it guard the whole body, but it also deflected forceful blows that would otherwise hurt or destroy the soldier.  It may take extra effort on our part to raise the heavy shield of faith and to put our whole trust in God, but it will surely protect us from all assaults.
  • Next, Paul mentions the helmet of salvation.  Obviously the head is a pretty important thing to protect.  In the same way that the precious metal of a helmet protected a soldier’s head, so does the assurance of salvation, of our eternal life with Jesus, protect our minds from discouragement in a fallen world and from temptations to disobey God.
  • Finally, the sword of the Spirit, the only real weapon – The Roman’s sword was double-edged and was a fierce weapon on the battlefield.  God’s Spirit goes out before us like the sword.  It helps us cut to the core of a matter and find the truth, it directs us to the truth in God’s word, and it also helps us to cut out any obstacles in our lives.

All of these pieces of armor are heavy and unnatural to our human tendencies, but we must, with the help of God, pick them up every day.  We must continue to train, through our devotions and prayers, so that we do not forget God’s great gifts and find ourselves unprotected in difficult times.  Stay alert!  Carefully and attentively keep and train your soul!  Stand firm in the promises and protection of God!

Closing prayer:  Dear God, thank you for your daily provision.  Send your Holy Spirit to guide and protect us and we go on in this life.  Help us maintain and mature our faith, and bring us to your Heavenly home where there are no temptations, troubles, or worries.  Amen

PARENTS!  There are many ways to help train your children at home.  Read to them from a children’s Bible, pray with them outside of mealtime, point out God’s presence in everyday activities, lead them in memorizing important Biblical truths.  Most importantly, be a model for them – let them see how you follow God on a daily basis.  A great resource for learning or memorizing important Bible verses with your children is Truth Cards (www.truthcards.org). 

Ta Da!

 

 

Caution: Stumbling Blocks

Theme:  The path to God is clear with Jesus by our side.

Scripture:  Joshua 24:14-25, Ephesians 5:21-33, John 6:60-69 Lectionary – Year B, Proper 16

Materials:  Painter’s tape or duct tape, an obstacle, a basket or bowl to hold the memory 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.

Illustration:  Use tape to put X’s on the floor.  The first two X’s should be close enough to be easy to step or jump to, the next X should be a little harder to get to without help, the next X should be impossible to get to alone, and the last X should be blocked by an obstacle (chair, table, stack of books, etc.).  The finish line should be easy to step to after the last X.  Have something to make the end – an orange cone, a red flag, or a basket containing the memory cards.  Explain that you have set up an obstacle course.  The traveler can only get to the end of the obstacle course by following, and only stepping on, the X’s.  If you step or fall off of an X, you have to go back to the beginning.  After you have explained the rules, ask for a volunteer.  See how long it takes the child to realize that they cannot finish by themselves.  Once they look to you, encourage them to ask you for help and explain that you never said that they couldn’t have help.  You made the obstacle course, so you have control over it.  Only help them to the next X; they need to ask you for help over the obstacle.  Congratulate them at the end and ask them to sit back down.

Lesson:  What did you think about that obstacle course?  Wait for answers.  Could the traveler finish the course by themselves? No.   Why not?  He couldn’t jump far enough; there was something in the way.  How did he finish it?  You helped him!  Could just anybody have helped him finish?  No, everyone else would have had to stay on the X’s.  Our journey to Heaven can sometimes seem like this obstacle course.  Sometimes there are leaps we just can’t make by ourselves – we have to rely on Jesus, through faith, to help us get to where we are going.  Other times there are things that physically block us from moving forward.  In those times, we have to do more than lean on Jesus; we may have to let him carry us forward.  Regardless of where we are in our journey in life, we need Jesus to get to the end.  Without him, there would be no way for us to make it to his Kingdom, the finish line.

Open up your marked Bibles to the Gospel of John, Chapter 6.  We are going to read verses 60-69.  Right before this passage, Jesus told a large group of people what I just told you, that he is the only way to Heaven.  Pay attention to how the crowd reacted.  Read John 6:60-69.

The crowd did not like his message very much, did they?  The group that was listening to Jesus was larger than the group that is here today, but only 12 stayed; only 12 believed what Jesus said.

There are many things that can be difficult to understand in the Bible and in life.  When these things interfere with our trust in Jesus’ teachings, they are called stumbling blocks.  Some teachings that are stumbling blocks for people that we heard about today include not being able to earn God’s gift of grace, submitting in marriage, and accepting that Jesus is the only way to God.  I could preach many sermons about each of these teachings and how they are not really difficult to accept, but, for now, I just want you to remember one thing.  When you come to a passage in the Bible that you do not understand or a situation in life that confuses you, always turn to Jesus first.  He is there, waiting for you to ask him for help, just like I was waiting for you to ask me to help you through the obstacle course.  When we choose Jesus over everything else in this world, the journey will not seem difficult because we are more aware of his constant presence with us.  Choose to serve Jesus, and he will make the path clear.

Closing prayer:  Heavenly Father, we thank you for your Son.  Thank you for sending him to us so that we could have access to you – we would not be able to have eternal life with you without Jesus and your grace.  Guide us and bless us as we choose to serve you, as we make the daily decision to choose you over the world.  Help us to be a light in this dark world, always reflecting your perfect love.  Amen. 

Memory verse: