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

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Children's Easter Devotion: A Race to the Tomb


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 the Sundays during Lent looking at one of the resurrection stories.

Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance.
So she came running to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved, and said, "They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don't know where they have put him!"
So Peter and the other disciple started for the tomb.
Both were running, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first.
He bent over and looked in at the strips of linen lying there but did not go in.
Then Simon Peter, who was behind him, arrived and went into the tomb. He saw the strips of linen lying there, as well as the burial cloth that had been around Jesus' head. The cloth was folded up by itself, separate from the linen.
Finally the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went inside. He saw and believed. (They still did not understand from Scripture that Jesus had to rise from the dead.)  John 20:1-9

Questions:
- Why did Mary Magdalene go to the tomb early that Sunday morning? (the Sabbath time of rest was over and she had gone to the tomb to anoint Jesus' dead body with spices)
- What did Mary think when she saw that the stone had been rolled away from the tomb?
- Who were the two disciples that raced to the tomb? (the disciple "Jesus loved" is John, the author of the book of John)
- Who got there first?
- Why do you think John did not go in at first?
- What did Simon Peter discover inside the tomb?
- Do you think that if Jesus' body was taken by either an enemy or a friend, they would have taken off the strips of linen that wrapped His body and neatly folded the cloth that had been around Jesus' head?
- What do you think it means that John "saw and believed"?

Thoughts
The fact that John and Peter raced to the tomb, shows that in their hearts they still held out hope that all was not lost after Jesus' death, even though they did not understand His statements that He would rise from the dead. Peter, ever the leader and eager follower, pushes past John and enters the tomb. What do you think his thoughts were after he had, just two days before, denied ever knowing Jesus? Graciously, God allows Peter and John to see, with their own eyes, the empty, neat and orderly tomb. They believe even when they do not understand. We can learn a lesson from Peter and John. We may not always understand how or why God is doing something, but we can believe Him, have faith in Him and eagerly await the day when our faith will become sight.

In order to understand the significance of the folded napkin, you have to understand a little bit about Hebrew tradition of that day. The folded napkin had to do with the Master and Servant, and every Jewish boy knew this tradition. When the servant set the dinner table for the master, he made sure that it was exactly the way the master wanted it. The table was furnished perfectly, and then the servant would wait, just out of sight, until the master had finished eating, and the servant would not dare touch that table, until the master was finished..
Now if the master were done eating, he would rise from the table, wipe his fingers, his mouth, and clean his beard, and would wad up that napkin and toss it onto the table. The servant would then know to clear the table. For in those days, the wadded napkin meant, “I’m finished..” But if the master got up from the table, and folded his napkin, and laid it beside his plate, the servant would not dare touch the table, because The folded napkin meant, “I’m coming back!”

Prayer
Lord Jesus, thank you for rising from the dead! Thank you for giving us the Bible so that we can know this truth. Help us to have faith in You, even when we don't understand everything that is happening around us or to us. We celebrate your resurrection this day and every day!

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!

Here is a link for the music: Christ the Lord is risen today



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.*

Friday, February 27, 2015

Children's Easter Devotion (Day 10): And Jesus Wept


As he approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it and said, "If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace—but now it is hidden from your eyes.
The days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment against you and encircle you and hem you in on every side.
They will dash you to the ground, you and the children within your walls. They will not leave one stone on another, because you did not recognize the time of God's coming to you." Luke 19:41-44


"You have heard that it was said, 'Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.'
But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.
If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that?
Be perfect (complete, entire, full-grown), therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect." 
Matthew 5:43-48

Questions:
- Why do you think Jesus began to cry when He saw Jerusalem?
- Jesus had been to Jerusalem many times before, why do you think He cried this time?
- What did Jesus say would happen to Jerusalem?
(In 70 AD, the Romans conquered Jerusalem, destroyed the temple and totally demolished the city...this is what Jesus was referring to).
- What was the reason that these terrible things were going to take place?
- Many of the people in Jerusalem would turn against Jesus later in that same week and call for His death. Yet, He loved them. What lesson can we learn from Jesus?
- Could this same cry of Jesus apply to the world today?

Final Thought: 
If many of us had been treated the way Jesus was treated, we would have wanted revenge. Yet Jesus did not want revenge. He did not want judgment to fall upon Jerusalem. And He does not want judgment to fall upon our world. He wants everyone He created to experience His peace. But the only way they can do that is by accepting Jesus as their Savior. We can show love for our enemies by praying for them and sharing the story of Jesus with them when we have the chance.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, just as you wept over Jerusalem and its people, may our hearts be broken for those who are lost. Give us eyes to see and ears to hear the cries of those who have never known You and may we do all we can to bring them the saving knowledge of who You are and Your love for them. Use us, we pray. In Your name, Amen.

Song:  They Will Know We Are Christians

We are one in the Spirit, we are one in the Lord
We are one in the Spirit, we are one in the Lord
And we pray that all unity may one day be restored
And they'll know we are Christians by our love, by our love
They will know we are Christians by our love

We will work with each other, we will work side by side
We will work with each other, we will work side by side
And we'll guard each one's dignity and save each one's pride
And they'll know we are Christians by our love, by our love
They will know we are Christians by our love


A great video of this song performed by Jars of Clay with mission footage is here: They'll know we are Christians


Food for Thought: 
This would be a great time to talk to your children about mission work. There are over 2 billion people who have never heard of the name Jesus. They, like Jerusalem, are wept over by our Lord Jesus. Our children can have hearts for the lost and a desire to share Christ with the world if we will pray and share with them what God is doing in the world and how they can be involved. Check out this blogspot for more info on sharing missions with your children and educating yourself.


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.*

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Children's Easter Devotion (Day 9): The Stones Will Cry Out


As he went along, people spread their cloaks on the road.
When he came near the place where the road goes down the Mount of Olives, the whole crowd of disciples began joyfully to praise God in loud voices for all the miracles they had seen:
"Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!" 
"Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!"
Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Jesus, "Teacher, rebuke your disciples!"
"I tell you," he replied, "if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out."  Luke 19:36-40



The next day the great crowd that had come for the Feast heard that Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem.
They took palm branches and went out to meet him, shouting, "Hosanna!" "Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!" "Blessed is the King of Israel!"
Jesus found a young donkey and sat upon it, as it is written,
"Do not be afraid, O Daughter of Zion; see, your king is coming, seated on a donkey's colt." At first his disciples did not understand all this. Only after Jesus was glorified did they realize that these things had been written about him and that they had done these things to him.  John 12:12-16

Questions:
Why is it called Palm Sunday?  (the palm branch was a symbol of triumph and victory in the Jewish tradition)
Why did Jesus ride on a donkey?
What does it mean to fulfill prophecy?
Why were the people so excited to see Jesus?
What were the people expecting Jesus to do...die for them or rule over them as a Jewish king by conquering Rome?
Why do you think the Pharisees told Jesus to make everyone stop praising Him?
What did Jesus mean by his reply that "the stones will cry out?"

Final Thought
Jesus deserves our praise and our joy, but not for what he can do for us (like the Jews who praised Him for His miracles and for their hope in His conquering Rome) but for who He is. We can praise Him every day throughout the day, through singing, prayer, talking about who He is and what He has done, reading our Bibles and doing our best to obey Him. We can look forward with excitement to His return to earth some day!

Prayer:
We praise You Lord Jesus for who You are! You are mighty and powerful yet humble and gentle. Thank you for entering our hearts as our Savior. May we love You for who You are!

Songs:  All Glory, Laud and Honor 

All glory, laud, and honor,
to thee, Redeemer, King,
to whom the lips of children
made sweet hosannas ring.

1. Thou art the King of Israel,
thou David's royal Son,
who in the Lord's name comest,
the King and Blessed One.
(Refrain)


Here is a website for the music: All Glory


Praise Him 

Praise Him, praise Him,
praise Him in the morning,
praise Him in the noontime.

Praise Him, praise Him,
praise Him when the sun goes down.



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.*

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Children's Easter Devotion (Day 8): Trust and Obey


As he approached Bethphage and Bethany at the hill called the Mount of Olives, he sent two of his disciples, saying to them,
"Go to the village ahead of you, and as you enter it, you will find a colt tied there, which no one has ever ridden. Untie it and bring it here. If anyone asks you, 'Why are you untying it?' tell him, 'The Lord needs it.' "
Those who were sent ahead went and found it just as he had told them.
As they were untying the colt, its owners asked them, "Why are you untying the colt?"
They replied, "The Lord needs it."
They brought it to Jesus, threw their cloaks on the colt and put Jesus on it.  Luke 19:28-35

Discuss 
- What did Jesus tell the disciples to do?
- Do you think this was a strange request...why?
- What did Jesus know about the colt/donkey? 
- Why would Jesus ride on a colt/donkey? (read Zechariah 9:9 - Rejoice greatly, O Daughter of Zion! Shout, Daughter of Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and having salvation, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey. - and discuss how Jesus fulfilled that prophecy)
- Did the disciples obey Him? Do you think they had any questions in their heads about this?
- Why do you think the owners let the disciples take the colt?

Final Thought: 
Sometimes the Lord calls us to do something. yet we still may worry how it will all work out. The disciples may have worried also. When we worry, we are basically saying to God that we don't trust Him to work in our lives the way He says He will. You see, Jesus knew all about the colt and how His Father in Heaven had prepared that colt for Him. In the same way, when Jesus asks us to do something, He already has everything prepared for us. All we have to do is trust and obey His Word.  
"Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow, it empties today of its strength."
"But my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:19

Prayer
Thank You Lord for always preparing the way before us. We ask You to help us walk in that way, trusting and obeying You. 

Song: Trust and Obey

When we walk with the Lord in the light of His Word,
What a glory He sheds on our way!
While we do His good will, He abides with us still,
And with all who will trust and obey.

Refrain:
Trust and obey, for there’s no other way
To be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.

But we never can prove
The delights of His love
Until all on the altar we lay;
For the favor He shows,
For the joy He bestows,
Are for them who will trust and obey.

Lord I love you, please help me to
Trust and obey

Then in fellowship sweet
We will sit at His feet,
Or we'll walk by His side in the way;
What He says we will do,
Where He sends we will go;
Never fear, only trust and obey.

Here is a website with the song and lyrics song



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 24, 2015

Children's Easter Devotion (Day 7): Overwhelmed by Love

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


Discuss 
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?

Prayer 
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.*

Monday, February 23, 2015

Children's Easter Devotion (Day 6): A Life Changed


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

Questions
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.  

Prayer
 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.*

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Children's Easter Devotion (Day 5): Bold for Jesus

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


Discuss 
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.

Prayer
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.*