The Most Precious Possession

Here is the fourth, and final, sermon in The Missional Life Mini Series.  Click on the following links to read the first three sermons: Foundations, Principles, & Community.  Check back soon for a new page that will allow you to search for children’s sermons on this website by sermon series or by scripture.  This page will replace the existing Colossians page.  I will also be adding home study guides to The Missional Life sermons soon.  If you haven’t seen them already, I have attached home study guides to almost all of the Colossians sermons (I’m just missing one).

Theme:  Why is a soul so important?  How to live out a life in Christ.

Scripture:  Mark 8:34-38

Materials:  A (materially) precious item, small boxes (decorated or plain), decorative materials (markers, ribbons, glitter, etc.), shiny pennies

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 I brought something that is very special to me.  It doesn’t look like an ordinary box, does it?  It is made of a special wood, there are initials carved on the lid, and there is a metal plaque on the side with a date.  Do you think there is something special inside?  What do you think could be in this small box?  Let’s open it and see!  These things may not look very special to you, but these are mementos from my wedding.  There is a wedding license, the knife we cut our cake with, a photo, a very old handkerchief I carried with my bouquet, and precious notes our friends and family sent us. Continue reading

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Spectator or Pro?

Here is the third installment of The Missional Life mini sermon series.  The first two sermons were on Foundations and Principles.  This week we are using the High Priestly Prayer found in John 17.  I had no desire to even attempt to rewrite this beautiful prayer, so this week I used The Message translation on just a very small part of the prayer.  Another first for the lessons is a writing page, complements of colormountain.com.  This activity is a little beyond the capabilities of the children I teach (4-7 years old), but I thought this would be a great writing prompt for older children.

Theme:  Are you just a fan of the church, a spectator in a pew, or are you an active member of God’s family?

Scripture:  John 17 (verses 20-23)

Materials:  a YouTube video of a sporting event

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:  Last week we learned about the living water that we receive from Jesus.  Who can tell me something you remember from the lesson last week?  Today we are going to learn about what it means to be an active member in God’s Church.

First, we are going to watch a clip from the 1992 World Series between the Toronto Blue Jays and the Atlanta Braves.  Does anyone in here like baseball?  Let’s watch.  Play about a minute of footage, then ask – Is anyone having fun?  What?  You’re bored?  I thought you liked baseball.  Oh, you say that you would rather be playing.  So you are telling me that it is not as much fun to watch baseball as it is to play?  Hmmm.

Let’s see what Jesus has to say about this.  I am going to read a short passage from the Gospel of John.  Here we are jumping right in the middle of a very important prayer that Jesus prays called the High Priestly Prayer.  While you are listening, I want you to keep track, with your fingers, of how many times Jesus says they or them.

I’m praying not only for them

But also for those who will believe in me

Because of them and their witness about me.

The goal is for all of them to become one heart and mind—

Just as you, Father, are in me and I in you,

So they might be one heart and mind with us.

Then the world might believe that you, in fact, sent me.

The same glory you gave me, I gave them,

So they’ll be as unified and together as we are—

I in them and you in me.

Then they’ll be mature in this oneness,

And give the godless world evidence

That you’ve sent me and loved them

In the same way you’ve loved me.

Ok, let’s see those fingers.  How many times did you hear the words they or them?  Did you know that just in that short portion of Jesus’ prayer, he prays for us ten times?  Can you believe that Jesus prayed, and is praying, for us?  I’m not talking about the people he knew while he was walking on the earth, I mean that he was praying for you, Mery, you Garret, and you Devon.

Well, what does this have to do with baseball?  Jesus doesn’t talk about baseball, but he does pray that we are one with the Father like he, Jesus, is one with God and that we might shine his light for all to see so that everyone can know God.  That means that we cannot be spectator Christians; he wants us to be active members of his family, not just fans who sit in pews on Sundays.  And the most wonderful part of being a member of this team, this family, is that we are not alone!  God and Jesus are always with us and have formed a great family in the community of the Church.  This community is a huge help, support, and source of growth.  When we work together, unified, we live out and increase the message of the good news Jesus brings.  This is how God wants us to live as his children on this earth.  We are training and working together for the glory of God’s kingdom.

Closing prayer:  Dear Jesus, thank you for your wonderful prayer.  It means so much to us that you prayed for us before we were ever born and that you continue to pray for us today.  Help us become one with you and God.  Help our hearts and minds to want the same things that you want in this world, and show us how to remain active members of your family while we are here on earth.  Amen.

PARENTS!  If there was time during Gracetime, your child drew and colored on the picture of the baseball field.  As you review this lesson this week, help them articulate why they either drew themselves in the stands or in the field of the baseball field.  If they can write, help them write out their thoughts.  Then, help them think of ways that they can remain active members of God’s family.  Examples include: going to church every Sunday, reading the Bible every day, praying every day, finding ways to love and help other people, singing songs to God, etc.

It is so good for children to realize early in their lives that they are very important members of God’s family, and, as easy as it can be, God doesn’t want them to be passive members of the Church family.  Children get just as much, if not more, fulfillment and meaning out of serving.  Find ways that they can be a part of the ministries you love.  If you pass around the offering plate, let them walk with you and help.  If you are in charge of the slideshow one morning, let them help change slides.  And I don’t know of a better Greeter than a small child.  🙂

Home Study Guide

John 17:9-22

Monday – verses 9-11 – “prayer for the disciples”

I am praying for them. I am not praying for the world but for those whom you have given me, for they are yours. 10 All mine are yours, and yours are mine, and I am glorified in them. 11 And I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one. 

  1. Jesus sets aside this special time to pray for the disciples.  Why does Jesus say that he is glorified in the disciples?  How is Jesus glorified as you follow him?
  2. Why does Jesus pray for the unity of the disciples?  What difference does it make?

Tuesday – verses 12-13 – “prayer for joy”

12 While I was with them, I kept them in your name, which you have given me. I have guarded them, and not one of them has been lost except the son of destruction, that the Scripture might be fulfilled. 13 But now I am coming to you, and these things I speak in the world, that they may have my joy fulfilled in themselves. 

  1. Why did Judas have to be lost?  Did Jesus intentionally not guard Judas?  How do you understand the tension between divine sovereignty and human responsibility?
  2. How would the disciples find Jesus’ joy?  What role does unity have to play in our joy?

Wednesday – verses 14-16 – “prayer for protection”

14 I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 15 I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one. 16 They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world.

  1. Why does the world hate Jesus’ disciples?  How do we balance the call to be in the world and not of it with the call of the missional life?
  2. What does it mean that we are not “of the world?”

Thursday – verses 17-19 – “prayer for truth”

17 Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. 18 As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. 19 And for their sake I consecrate myself, that they also may be sanctified in truth.

  1. As Jesus is sent, so we are sent.  What are the ramifications of this statement?
  2. How important is the truth?  Sanctify means to make holy.  In what way does God’s word make us holy?

Friday – verses 20-22 – “prayer for us”

20 “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, 21 that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, 

  1. Why does Jesus pray for our unity?  What difference does it make when we are on mission?
  2. What glory has Jesus given us?  How does this gift unify the believers?

Living Water

This is the second installment of the sermon mini-series on The Missional Life.  The first sermon from this series can be found here.  Like the last sermon I posted on Zacchaeus, I wrote a children’s version of John 4.  I also added, through inspiration from the book Parenting in the Pew, some ways to keep the children engaged in the Bible story.  I hope to continue to refine the lessons I write so that they teach Biblical truths while training children to eventually participate in church and empowering parents to lead their children in worship at home.

Theme:  Our longing and need for the saving Gospel of Jesus

Scripture: John 4:3-42, (Psalm 42:1-2)

Materials:  Dying plant in an empty glass, live plant in a glass of water, Jesus at the Well coloring page

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:  We are going to read a story from Jesus’ life that comes from the book of John.  There are two things I would like for you to do as we read – when you hear the name Jesus I want you to clap and cheer, like this.  Let’s practice…Jesus!  Nice job!  Now, when you hear the word Samaria or Samaritan I want you to scowl and “grrr”, like this.  Let me see you do it.  Very nice.  Okay, listen carefully.

John 4:3-42

Jesus was traveling to his home region of Galilee but had to walk through the bad region of Samaria.  The Jews and the Samaritans did not like each other one bit!  (The Samaritans thought the way they lived and worshiped God was the right way, but it was very different from what God taught the Jews in the Old Testament.)  Jesus was tired from his very long walk and rested at a well.  He was also very thirsty.  A Samaritan woman came to the well to get water for her home, and Jesus asked for a drink of water.  The woman asked, “Why would you, a Jew, ask me, a Samaritan, for a drink?” (Jews usually did not even speak to Samaritans.)  Jesus replied, “If you knew God and knew who you were really speaking to (because she did not know who Jesus was), you would know that you would only have to ask, and he would give you living water.”  She wondered how he could get water without a bucket or a cup; she did not understand what he meant by living waterJesus explained that regular water cures thirst for a little while, but you are soon thirsty again.  But the living water that Jesus offers cures the thirst in our souls for God and leads us to eternal life with him.  After their talk at the well, the woman runs to her hometown and tells all of the people there about Jesus; the woman and many other Samaritans were saved by living water that day.

Nice job everyone!  Would someone volunteer to retell the story for me?  Did you hear Jesus talking about being thirsty?  What do you think living water means?  When Jesus talks about living water he is talking about the good news of the Gospel, of how he came to the world to die for us as a perfect sacrifice so that we can join him in Heaven.  Only perfect people get into Heaven, but no one apart from Jesus is perfect.  That is why he came to Earth to die for us – he is the only way anyone can get into Heaven.  Without him we would be just like the Samaritans, but Jesus’ message and God’s love are so perfect that they can even save the Samaritans and us.

Closing illustration:  I want you to look at these two plants.  This one is shriveled and dying, but this one is full of life.  What do you think the live plant has that the dying plan does not?  That’s right; the live plant is living because it has water.  Every living thing on this Earth needs water to live.  But this plant only has a little water – what will happen if the plant runs out of water?  You are correct, this plant, full of life, will also begin to shrivel and die.  The living water that Jesus offers all of us will never run out; it will clean away all of our dirtiness and lead us to life with him in Heaven when our time on Earth is over.

Closing prayer:  Heavenly Father, we are so thankful that you sent your Son to this world to give us your living water.  Help us to continue to desire your love and your ways, and sustain us with your never ending, always and forever love.  Remind us that everyone deserves to know about your Gospel, no matter how dirty they appear to us.  In you, we are made clean.  We love you, wonderful Father.  Amen.

PARENTS!  This week, reread the story and have them do the same things when they hear Jesus’ name and the word Samaritan (this will help them pay attention and be part of the story).  Use the coloring page to review different parts of the story.  Emphasize that the living water Jesus offers can cleanse anyone of their sins, no matter how many or how bad.  The way of Jesus is the perfect way, and will satisfy the desire of our hearts.

Home Activity 2:  Hold up the photo of the deer with the verses from Psalm 42.  Have your child tell you what they see in the picture.  Explain that the verse is from the book of Psalms; have them listen carefully as you read the verses.  Ask them what they think the verses mean?  Read them again if you need to.  We all experience a desire to serve God, to experience his great love – sometimes we feel the desire to be with God so strongly that it can feel like being thirsty.

Home Study Guide

John 4:3-26

Monday – verses 3-6 – “The Well”

he left Judea and departed again for Galilee. And he had to pass through Samaria. So he came to a town of Samaria called Sychar, near the field that Jacob had given to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there; so Jesus, wearied as he was from his journey, was sitting beside the well. It was about the sixth hour.

  1. Why did Jesus have to pass through Samaria?  It was not on the way to Galilee and Samaritans were the enemies of the Jews.  What did he have to do?
  2. When Jesus went to the well, he was weary.  What did he do by sitting in such a public place?  How can we put ourselves in public places where conversations can begin?

Tuesday – verses 7-12 – “The Woman”

A woman from Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink.” (For his disciples had gone away into the city to buy food.) The Samaritan woman said to him, “How is it that you, a Jew, ask for a drink from me, a woman of Samaria?” (For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.) 10 Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.” 11 The woman said to him, “Sir, you have nothing to draw water with, and the well is deep. Where do you get that living water? 12 Are you greater than our father Jacob? He gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did his sons and his livestock.”

  1. What was the woman’s initial response to Jesus?  By breaking down all kinds of cultural barriers, Jesus opened the door for new life to this woman.  What kind of barriers are we called to break through so that we can live the missional life?
  2. The woman misunderstands Jesus offer of living water.  What does she thing he is offering?  What is he really offering?  How can we use Jesus’ strategy for ordinary things to start spiritual conversations?  Can you think of other ordinary ways to start spiritual conversations?

Wednesday – verses 13-15 – “The Water”

13 Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, 14 but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” 15 The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water, so that I will not be thirsty or have to come here to draw water.”

  1. Why is thirst such a powerful spiritual image?  Think of a time when you were thirsty.  What does cold water feel like on a parched throat?  What does it mean to be spiritually thirsty?
  2. Jesus uses the image of a spring welling up to eternal life.  What is he speaking of?  How can we receive this water?  Does the woman understand what Jesus is offering?

Thursday – verses 16-20 – “Her Past”

16 Jesus said to her, “Go, call your husband, and come here.” 17 The woman answered him, “I have no husband.” Jesus said to her, “You are right in saying, ‘I have no husband’; 18 for you have had five husbands, and the one you now have is not your husband. What you have said is true.” 19 The woman said to him, “Sir, I perceive that you are a prophet. 20 Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you say that in Jerusalem is the place where people ought to worship.” 

  1. Why does Jesus delve into the woman’s past?  How is dealing with past wrongs and hurts a part of the missional life?
  2. How does this part of the conversation change the conversation?  What does the woman realize about Jesus?

Friday – verses 21-26 – “Worship”

21 Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. 22 You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. 23 But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him.24 God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” 25 The woman said to him, “I know that Messiah is coming (he who is called Christ). When he comes, he will tell us all things.” 26 Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you am he.”

  1. Why is worship so important to the missional life?  What are true worshippers like?
  2. How does Jesus build his self-revelation off of her already-held beliefs? How does Jesus’ self-revelation change everything?  Can you think of a time when a person shared beliefs that helped you start a conversation about Jesus?

Missional Project for the week:

Engage one person either at work or in the neighborhood in a spiritual conversation in which you discover more about their beliefs.  You could start by asking…1) what do you think about the direction our country is headed? 2) the election rhetoric seems to keep coming back to religion, what do you believe?

Open up that conversation in a natural way this week.

Adam or Zacchaeus?

Theme:  Joyfully pursuing Jesus and changing your whole life to follow him

ScriptureLuke 19:1-9

MaterialsThe Jesus Storybook Bible, an image of The Creation of Adam by Michelangelo

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:  Show a large, cropped image of The Creation of Adam, introduce the piece, and ask a series of guiding questions.  This painting is called The Creation of Adam.  It was painted by an artist named Michelangelo around the year 1511 on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel in Rome.  What are some of the first things you notice? (And yes, Adam is naked; remember that in the Garden of Eden, there was no sin and, therefore, no need to cover oneself.)  Let’s look at their body positions: How is Adam sitting?  Does he look comfortable?  What about God, what is He doing?  Why do you think Adam is not trying, with all of his might, to reach God?  If there is no answer to this question right away, it’s okay.  Move on; we will come back to it later.

We are going to talk about this painting again after we read a story from the Bible.  Now we are going to read the story of the man who didn’t have any friends.  His name was Zacchaeus.  The story of Zacchaeus can be found in the Gospel of Luke.  Make sure to listen out for what Zacchaeus’ job was, how Zacchaeus meets Jesus, and how Zacchaeus changes at the end.  Read the story from The Jesus Storybook Bible, pages 264-270.

What was Zacchaeus like at the beginning of his story?  Why didn’t anyone like him?  How did he meet Jesus?  Then what happened?  What did Zacchaeus do at the end to show how his heart had changed?

Did you notice that Zacchaeus was running and jumping and climbing trees?  That doesn’t sound like what an important adult would do!  Could you imagine the governor or president doing that?  Zacchaeus was acting kind of like an excited little boy, wasn’t he?  Do you remember that in another part of the Bible, Jesus says that people with the heart of children will inherit the Kingdom of God?  What he meant is that he wants for us to keep that excitement for him and that unquestioning trust and belief in him.

Let’s look back at our painting.  How do you think this paining would be different if, instead of Adam, Michelangelo had painted Zacchaeus?  Would Zacchaeus just lay down and wait for God to come, not really doing anything to seek him out, or would he be stretching and reaching to get to God?  Do you think their fingers would be barely touching or do you think that God would have a firm grasp of Zacchaeus’ hand, pulling him up to himself?  Zacchaeus did everything he could to see Jesus, but Jesus did more than he ever could have imagined – he invited himself into Zacchaeus’ home and life.  When we open ourselves up to the power and love of Jesus, he will do so much more than we ever thought possible.

Here is one last thing to think about.  When Jesus came into Zacchaeus’ heart, did he wait to change his life or did he commit to changing immediately?  What did he do?  That must have been really difficult, but he knew it was necessary to follow Jesus.  When we allow Jesus into our hearts, the immediate result will be change.  Without this change from our old-selves, we will not be able to follow the leading of Jesus or be able to bring others to him.  We need this excited, joyful embrace of Jesus to begin the missional life in which he is leading us.  This week, really consider, do you want to be an Adam or a Zacchaeus?

Closing prayer:  Dear God, thank you so much for the relatable stories of real people you have put in the Bible.  We have all been an Adam, living our lives without pursuing you; help us to be like Zacchaeus.  Keep our hearts open and in awe of your wonderful love and power.  Help us to put away our old selves and to embrace and worship you with our whole lives.  Amen.

PARENTS!  This week, review the story of Zacchaeus with your children.  Ask them the same questions about what happened in his life.  Together, look at Ephesians 4:17-24.  Talk about your old self, and how God has helped you change.  Help your child identify ways that they have changed (through obedience, temperament, sharing, etc.).  Tell them that Jesus will continue to grow and guide them through the rest of their lives.  When they feel the urging to change something in their lives, encourage them to embrace it full heartedly and turn to Jesus for help.

Home Study Guide

Luke 19:1-10

Monday – verses 1-2 – “Rich”

He entered Jericho and was passing through. And behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus. He was a chief tax collector and was rich. 

  1. How did tax collectors make their money in the Roman Empire?  What does it mean that Zaccheus (Z) was the chief tax collector?  Who is despised like tax collectors in our culture?
  2. Why does Luke tell us that Z is rich?  What did Jesus previously say about the rich receiving salvation?  (see Luke 18:24-25)  What about wealth makes it hard for us to enter the kingdom?

Tuesday – verses 3-4 – “Seeking”

And he was seeking to see who Jesus was, but on account of the crowd he could not, because he was small in stature. So he ran on ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see him, for he was about to pass that way. 

  1. Why did Z seek Jesus?  What do you think he knew about Jesus?  What about his size made it difficult?  Why are you drawn to Jesus?
  2. Z puts his life on a path of intersection with Jesus by running and climbing a tree.  What things are you doing this week to put your life on a path of intersection with Jesus?

Wednesday – verses 5-7 – “Juxtaposition”

And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him,“Zacchaeus, hurry and come down, for I must stay at your house today.” So he hurried and came down and received him joyfully. And when they saw it, they all grumbled, “He has gone in to be the guest of a man who is a sinner.” 

  1. Jesus is going to stay at Z’s house.  Why is this significant?  To whose house could you go today that might cause the same kind of scandal?
  2. Z receives Jesus joyfully while the crowd grumbles.  Why are they grumbling?  When have you found yourself grumbling about God’s generosity to other sinners?

Thursday – verse 8 – “Restitution”

And Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, “Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor. And if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I restore it fourfold.”  

  1. Z calls Jesus Lord. He is converted!  How did this happen?  Who took the initiative?
  2. Why does Z give away ½ to the poor and restore those he has cheated?  Is he earning his new salvation?

Friday – verses 9-10 – “Salvation”

And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, since he also is a son of Abraham. 10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”

  1. Why does Jesus connect Z’s salvation to Abraham? Was Abraham saved by faith or by works?  What will this salvation mean to Z?  What does it mean to you?
  2. How did Jesus seek you?  Why does he make this statement about his mission?  How are you involved with Jesus in seeking the lost?