What God is Saying:

"Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age." Matthew 28:19-20

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Easter Devotion - Overwhelmed by Love (Day 7)

Six days before the Passover, Jesus arrived at Bethany, where Lazarus lived, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. Here a dinner was given in Jesus' honor. Martha served, while Lazarus was among those reclining at the table with him.
Then Mary took about a pint of pure nard, an expensive perfume; she poured it on Jesus' feet and wiped his feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.
But one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, who was later to betray him, objected, "Why wasn't this perfume sold and the money given to the poor? It was worth a year's wages." He did not say this because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief; as keeper of the money bag, he used to help himself to what was put into it.
"Leave her alone," Jesus replied. "It was intended that she should save this perfume for the day of my burial. You will always have the poor among you, but you will not always have me."
 John 12:1-8

1) Mary, Martha and Lazarus decided to give a dinner party, possibly celebrating how Lazarus had been raised from the dead. Who was the dinner given to honor?
2) How did Mary choose to honor Jesus?
3) Why was this so special?
4) Who was upset about it and why?
5) What did Jesus say to him?
6) What can we learn, from Mary's example, about loving Jesus?

Final Thought 
Mary was overwhelmed with her love for Jesus. She could have used the perfume for herself, maybe her wedding, or sold it, but she saw Jesus as more important. When she wiped his feet with her hair, she did the job of a servant. But Mary also did something else. Anointing was normally done to kings or very important people. Mary knew that Jesus was important and so, she anointed Him. What is a way that you can show Jesus that He is more important to you than the things you have?

Thank You Jesus for Your incredible love for us, a love that sent You to the cross. We ask You to help us love You more than anything else in the world. 

Song - Lord, You are More Precious than Silver

Lord, You are more precious than silver.
Lord, You are more costly than gold.
Lord, You are more beautiful than diamonds,
And nothing I desire compares to You.

Who can weigh the value of knowing You?
Who can judge the worth of who You are?
Who can count the blessings of loving You?
Who can say just how great You are?

Here is a link for the music: Lord, You are

For further study 
There are many children throughout the world who are very bold in their faith in Christ, especially in nations where it is hard to be a Christian. Sharing their stories can encourage a bolder faith in your children. A wonderful resource is Kids of Courage

* Some of the content of this blog is based on the book Family Celebrations at Easter by Ann Hibbard.*

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Easter Devotion - Zacchaeus, Come Down! (Day 6)

Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through. A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy.
He wanted to see who Jesus was, but being a short man he could not, because of the crowd. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore‑fig tree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way.
When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, "Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today." So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly.
All the people saw this and began to mutter, "He has gone to be the guest of a 'sinner.' "
But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, "Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount."
Jesus said to him, "Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost."  Luke 19:1-10

What kind of man was Zacchaeus?
Why do you think he wanted to see Jesus? 
Why do you think Jesus wanted to eat at his home for dinner?
What did the people around Jesus think of His decision to eat with Zacchaeus? Why?
What did Zacchaeus decide to do after being with Jesus?
What lessons can we learn from Zacchaeus?

Final Thought 
Zacchaeus showed his faith in Jesus by what he did. First, he wanted to see Jesus so badly that he climbed a tree. Then, he gladly came down and hosted Jesus for dinner. Jesus didn't tell Zacchaeus to pay back the money he had stolen. Being with Jesus for even a short time caused Zacchaeus to want to do what was right and thus show his love for Jesus. Just an afternoon with Jesus totally changed his heart and his life. When we follow Jesus, we will want to do what is right also.  

 Thank You Jesus for accepting us just as we are but not leaving us like that. Thank You that the Holy Spirit changes us on the inside once we accept You as our Savior. 

Song - Just as I Am, without One Plea    (esp. the second verse)

Just as I am, without one plea, 
but that thy blood was shed for me, 
and that thou bidst me come to thee, 
O Lamb of God, I come, I come. 

Just as I am, and waiting not,
  To rid my soul of one dark blot,
  To Thee, Whose blood can cleanse each spot, 
O Lamb of God, I come, I come. 

Here is a music link. Just as I Am

You may also want to sing the children's song: Zacchaeus was a wee little man. Here is a link with music and words: Zacchaeus

For further study 
There are many children throughout the world who are very bold in their faith in Christ, especially in nations where it is hard to be a Christian. Sharing their stories can encourage a bolder faith in your children. A wonderful resource is Kids of Courage

* Some of the content of this blog is based on the book Family Celebrations at Easter by Ann Hibbard.*

Monday, February 19, 2018

Easter Devotion - Bold for Jesus (Day 5)

As Jesus approached Jericho, a blind man was sitting by the roadside begging. When he heard the crowd going by, he asked what was happening. They told him, "Jesus of Nazareth is passing by."
He called out, "Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!"
Those who led the way rebuked him and told him to be quiet, but he shouted all the more, "Son of David, have mercy on me!"
Jesus stopped and ordered the man to be brought to him. When he came near, Jesus asked him, "What do you want me to do for you?"
"Lord, I want to see," he replied.
Jesus said to him, "Receive your sight; your faith has healed you."
Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus, praising God. When all the people saw it, they also praised God.  Luke 18:35-43

1) What did the blind man do when he heard that Jesus was passing by?
2) Why did people rebuke/scold him and tell him to be quiet?
3) What did he do when they hushed him?  Why?
4) When Jesus healed him, what did Jesus say had healed him?
5) Do you ever get embarrassed to tell others you are a Christian? If so, what lesson can you learn from the blind man?
6) What was the response of the people, who had previously scolded the blind man, once he was healed by Jesus?
7) Do you think your boldness for Jesus can bring praise to Him from other people?

Final Thought
Jesus was not embarrassed by the blind man's loud cries. He loved to see faith like that of the blind man, bold and persistent. It was a faith that 1) didn't care what others thought, 2) directly admitted his need and 3) followed Jesus immediately and gladly with a heart full of praise.

Ask God to help you be more bold for Him and to trust that when you pray to Him, He hears you.

Song - Take My Life and Let It Be

Take my life and let it be
Consecrated, Lord, to Thee.
Take my hands and let them move
At the impulse of Thy love
At the impulse of Thy love

Take my feet and let them be
Swift and beautiful for Thee.
Take my voice and let me sing,
Always, only for my King.
Always, only for my King.

Take my lips and let them be
Filled with messages from Thee.
Take my silver and my gold,
Not a mite would I withhold.
Not a mite would I withhold

Take my love, my Lord, I pour
At Thy feet its treasure store.
Take myself and I will be
Ever, only, all for Thee.

Ever, only, all for Thee. 

Take my life and let it be
Consecrated Lord to Thee
Take myself and I will be 
Ever, only, all for Thee
Ever, only, all for Thee

For further study 
There are many children throughout the world who are very bold in their faith in Christ, especially in nations where it is hard to be a Christian. Sharing their stories can encourage a bolder faith in your children. A wonderful resource is Kids of Courage

* Some of the content of this blog is based on the book Family Celebrations at Easter by Ann Hibbard.*

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Easter Devotion - He is Risen!

On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them. In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: ‘The Son of Man must be delivered over to the hands of sinners, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.’ ” Then they remembered his words.
 When they came back from the tomb, they told all these things to the Eleven and to all the others. It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the others with them who told this to the apostles. But they did not believe the women, because their words seemed to them like nonsense. Peter, however, got up and ran to the tomb. Bending over, he saw the strips of linen lying by themselves, and he went away, wondering to himself what had happened.  Luke 24:1-12

Did you know that the forty days of Lent do not include the Sundays? Can you guess why that is? Lent is a time of thinking about Jesus' death. Every Sunday of the year, however, is a celebration of Jesus' resurrection. For that reason, we will spend each of the six Sundays during Lent looking at one of the resurrection stories.

1) What did the women expect to see and do at the tomb?
2) What did they find instead?
3) What was their reaction?
4) How do you think they felt when the disciples did not believe them?

Final Thought
These women loved Jesus very much. They followed Him and cared for Him during His life, watched and wept as He died on the cross, and continued to be faithful to Him in His death by bringing spices for His body. Unlike Jesus' disciples, these women did not deny Jesus or run away in fear when He was arrested. Isn't it fitting, then, that they were the first ones to know about His resurrection?


Song - Christ the Lord is Risen Today

Christ, the Lord, is risen today, Alleluia! 
Sons of men and angels say, Alleluia! 
Raise your joys and triumphs high, Alleluia! 
Sing, ye heavens, and earth, reply, Alleluia! 

Lives again our glorious King, Alleluia! 
Where, O death, is now thy sting? Alleluia! 
Dying once, our souls to save, Alleluia! 
Where thy victory, O grave? Alleluia! 

Love's redeeming work is done, Alleluia! 
Fought the fight, the battle won, Alleluia! 
Death in vain forbids Him rise, Alleluia! 
Christ has opened Paradise, Alleluia! 

Soar we now where Christ has led, Alleluia! 
Following our exalted Head, Alleluia! 
Made like Him, like Him we rise, Alleluia! 
Ours the cross, the grave, the skies, Alleluia!

* Some of the content of this blog is based on the book Family Celebrations at Easter by Ann Hibbard.*

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Easter Devotion - Desire Him More (Day 4)

And a ruler asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone. You know the commandments: ‘Do not commit adultery, Do not murder, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Honor your father and mother.’” And he said, “All these I have kept from my youth.” When Jesus heard this, he said to him, “One thing you still lack. Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” But when he heard these things, he became very sad, for he was extremely rich. Jesus, seeing that he had become sad, said, “How difficult it is for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God! For it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.” Those who heard it said, “Then who can be saved?” But he said, “What is impossible with man is possible with God.” And Peter said, “See, we have left our homes and followed you.” And he said to them, “Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or wife or brothers or parents or children, for the sake of the kingdom of God, who will not receive many times more in this time, and in the age to come eternal life.”  Luke 18:18-30

1) What question did the ruler ask Jesus?
2) How did Jesus answer? Why did the man go away sad?
3) Why do you think Jesus told him to sell everything he had?
4) What in your life might hold you back from following Jesus?

Final Thought
If we truly want to follow Jesus, we have to let it all go. Let go of everything of this world that holds our attention and our heart more than God. That's what Jesus was asking this rich young ruler...let go of your possessions. Don't you see that I am so much more fulfilling than money? Desire Me more than your riches. Yet the man went away sad because he could no do that. For some it may be riches, for others a career, for others the opinions of their family and friends, for others it's the dreams and goals they have for themselves. When we follow Jesus, we have to put all that before Him and say, take what you want, change what you want...my life belongs to You...I will follow where You lead. When we do that, He will answer, He will lead, He will strengthen us for the journey because, "What is impossible with men, is possible with God."


Song - When I Survey the Wondrous Cross

1. When I survey the wondrous cross
on which the Prince of Glory died;
my richest gain I count but loss,
and pour contempt on all my pride.

2. Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast,
save in the death of Christ, my God;
all the vain things that charm me most,
I sacrifice them to his blood.

3. See, from his head, his hands, his feet,
sorrow and love flow mingled down.
Did e'er such love and sorrow meet,
or thorns compose so rich a crown.

4. Were the whole realm of nature mine,
that were an offering far too small;
love so amazing, so divine,

demands my soul, my life, my all.

Easter Devotion - Walking in Humility (Day 3)

(Jesus) told his next story to some who were complacently pleased with themselves over their moral performance and looked down their noses at the common people: "Two men went up to the Temple to pray, one a Pharisee, the other a tax man. The Pharisee posed and prayed like this: 'Oh, God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, crooks, adulterers, or, heaven forbid, like this tax man. I fast twice a week and tithe on all my income.'
"Meanwhile the tax man, slumped in the shadows, his face in his hands, not daring to look up, said, 'God, give mercy. Forgive me, a sinner.'"
Jesus commented, "This tax man, not the other, went home made right with God. If you walk around with your nose in the air, you're going to end up flat on your face, but if you're content to be simply yourself (to humble yourself), you will become more than yourself." Luke 18:9-14

1) Describe the two men in the story. How were they alike? How were they different?
2) Which kind of prayer is easier to pray?
3) Which prayer did God like better? Why?
4) What does it mean to "humble yourself?"

Final Thought
We may not pray a prayer, like the Pharisee did, out loud, but how often do we think prideful thoughts...think we are better than other people, that we deserve good things because of our good behavior, think we are smarter, prettier, more talented...think that surely God should reward someone like us. When we think this way we are fooling ourselves. The truth is we all sin, we all make mistakes, think wrong thoughts, say wrong things, do wrong things. We all need Jesus to enter our lives, clean us up and change us from the inside out. We all need to be humbled...to stop thinking so much about ourselves and instead think so much about God.


Song - Amazing Grace  

(maybe talk through the verses with your children before you sing this song...help them understand we don't "deserve" anything from God but instead should just praise Him. Because of His grace we have all that we will ever need)

Friday, February 16, 2018

Easter Devotion - Everyone Is Invited! (Day 2)

Jesus replied. "There was once a man who threw a great dinner party and invited many. When it was time for dinner, he sent out his servant to the invited guests, saying, 'Come on in; the food's on the table.'
"Then they all began to beg off, one after another making excuses. The first said, 'I bought a piece of property and need to look it over. Send my regrets.'
"Another said, 'I just bought five teams of oxen, and I really need to check them out. Send my regrets.'
"And yet another said, 'I just got married and need to get home to my wife.'
"The servant went back and told the master what had happened. He was outraged and told the servant 'Quickly, get out into the city streets and alleys. Collect all who look like they need a square meal, all the misfits and homeless and wretched you can lay your hands on, and bring them here.' 
"The servant reported back, 'Master, I did what you commanded— and there's still room.'
"The master said, 'Then go to the country roads. Whoever you find, drag them in. I want my house full!'"
Luke 14:16-24

1) Pretend that you were having the most fantastic birthday party ever - but everyone you invited said they couldn't come. How would that make you feel?
2) What did the man giving the party in Jesus' story do?
3) A parable is a story with a meaning. In this parable, the man giving the party is God. Whom did the first guests represent? The second group of guests? What message was Jesus giving the Jews throughout this story?
4) When God calls us to know Him or spend time with Him, sometimes we give excuses too. What are some of the excuses we use instead of accepting God's invitations?

Final Thought
God is always calling us to know Him better. He loves us so much! Just as parents want their children to know them better or friends want to know each other better, God wants us to know Him! Psalm 34:8 says "Taste and see that the Lord is good." Knowing God is like enjoying a wonderful feast. And we are invited because of what Jesus did on the cross for us. Those who accept will have a seat at God's glorious banquet in Heaven.


Song - Just As I Am

 Just as I am, without one plea,
but that thy blood was shed for me,
and that thou bidst me come to thee,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

Just as I am, poor, wretched, blind;
sight, riches, healing of the mind,
yea, all I need in thee to find,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

Here is a link for the music:  Just as I am