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, April 19, 2014

Children's Easter Devotion: He is Risen!!!




Then the disciples went back to their homes, but Mary stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus' body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot.
They asked her, "Woman, why are you crying?" 
"They have taken my Lord away," she said, "and I don't know where they have put him."
At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus.
"Woman," he said, "why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?" Thinking he was the gardener, she said, "Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him."
Jesus said to her, "Mary." She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, "Rabboni!" (which means Teacher).
Jesus said, "Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet returned to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, 'I am returning to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.' "
Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the news: "I have seen the Lord!" And she told them that he had said these things to her.  John 20:10-18


Questions:
- Who was Mary Magdalene? (Jesus had cast seven demons from her-Luke 8:2, she was one of His followers and was at the cross-Mark 15:40; she saw Him buried-Mark 15:47)
- Why do you think Mary stayed at the tomb after Peter and John had left?
- What do you think she felt when she realized it was Jesus who was talking to her?
- What can we learn from Mary's example?

Thoughts:
We can only imagine what Mary's thoughts were that Sunday morning upon seeing her Lord alive! She had watched Him be killed and seen His dead body placed in the tomb. While all but one of the disciples (John) didn't dare show their faces at the cross out of fear, she stayed there, supporting Jesus' mother Mary, and showing her love and dedication to Jesus up to the bitter end. And for Mary, even His death was not the end of her devotion. She risked her life to return to the tomb that Sunday morning. Jesus rewarded her faithfulness by choosing Mary, a woman who had been possessed by seven demons (we can only imagine the horror she experienced), to be the first one to see Him after He rose. Oh praise You sweet Jesus! You reveal Yourself to children and women...the ones who society so often abuses and persecutes. What a wonderful Savior we serve!

Prayer:
Sweet Jesus...how precious You are! We can't wait to see you face to face the way Mary did in the Garden. Some day, we know, You will return and take us to live with You forever. Until that day, may we live our lives with all the devotion and love of Mary Magdalene. Thank You Jesus!

Song: Christ the Lord is Risen Today

Christ the Lord is ris'n today, Alleluia!
Sons of men and angels say, Alleluia!
Raise your joys and triumphs high, Alleluia!
Sing, ye heav'ns, and earth reply, 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!

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

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

Hail the Lord of earth and heaven, Alleluia!
Praise to Thee by both be given, Alleluia!
Thee we greet triumphant now, Alleluia!
Hail the Resurrection, thou, Alleluia!

King of glory, soul of bliss, Alleluia!
Everlasing life is this, Alleluia!
Thee to know, Thy power to prove, Alleluia!
Thus to sing, and thus to love, Alleluia!



Here is a video with the lyrics and music: song

Friday, April 18, 2014

Children's Easter Devotion: The Grave Couldn't Hold Him (Day 40)



Now there was a man named Joseph, a member of the Council, a good and upright man, who had not consented to their decision and action. He came from the Judean town of Arimathea and he was waiting for the kingdom of God.
Going to Pilate, he asked for Jesus' body.
Then he took it down, wrapped it in linen cloth and placed it in a tomb cut in the rock, one in which no one had yet been laid. It was Preparation Day, and the Sabbath was about to begin.
The women who had come with Jesus from Galilee followed Joseph and saw the tomb and how his body was laid in it. Then they went home and prepared spices and perfumes. But they rested on the Sabbath in obedience to the commandment.  Luke 23:50-56

Later, Joseph of Arimathea asked Pilate for the body of Jesus. Now Joseph was a disciple of Jesus, but secretly because he feared the Jews. With Pilate's permission, he came and took the body away.
He was accompanied by Nicodemus, the man who earlier had visited Jesus at night. Nicodemus brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about seventy‑five pounds.


Taking Jesus' body, the two of them wrapped it, with the spices, in strips of linen. This was in accordance with Jewish burial customs. John 19:38-40

The next day, the one after Preparation Day, the chief priests and the Pharisees went to Pilate.
"Sir," they said, "we remember that while he was still alive that deceiver said, 'After three days I will rise again.'
So give the order for the tomb to be made secure until the third day. Otherwise, his disciples may come and steal the body and tell the people that he has been raised from the dead. This last deception will be worse than the first."
"Take a guard," Pilate answered. "Go, make the tomb as secure as you know how."
So they went and made the tomb secure by putting a seal on the stone and posting the guard.
Matthew 27:60-66

Questions:
- Who was Joseph of Arimathea?
- What does this tell you about the Jewish religious leaders? (not all were against Christ)
- Can you think of another religious leader who came to believe in Jesus? (Nicodemus) read
John 19:38-40
- What did Joseph and Nicodemus do to Jesus' body? Why?
- Who was worried about Jesus' body being stolen? Why?
- How did Pilate respond to their request?

Thoughts
It is encouraging to read of Joseph and Nicodemus. Not every Jewish religious leader wanted to crucify Jesus. Most likely these men were not at the trial of Jesus or else their voices were drowned out by the crowd. Even though they could not prevent His death, they did what they could to provide for Jesus' burial, along with the women. In life and in death, Jesus was greatly loved by His followers. And even in death, He was feared by those who hated Him. That is why the Roman guard was posted...in case someone came to steal His body. We can only wonder at what point, before Sunday morning, Jesus left that tomb, but praise God, it is empty today!

Prayer
We thank You Jesus that You are alive today. Your tomb is empty and we rejoice. May we be loving, devoted followers of you like Joseph, Nicodemus and the women. We love you Jesus!

Song: Were You There?

Were you there when they crucified my Lord?
Were you there when they crucified my Lord?
Oh sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble
Were you there when they crucified my Lord?

Were you there when they laid Him in the tomb?
Were you there when they laid Him in the tomb?
Oh sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble
Were you there when they nailed Him to the tree?

Were you there when He rose up from the grave?
Were you there when He rose up from the grave?
Oh sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble
Were you there when He rose up from the grave?
Were you there when He rose up from the grave?

Here is a link to the song with great video from The Passion of the Christ: Were You There?
(it is in black and white but you may want to watch this first to make sure it is not too graphic for younger children)

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Children's Easter Devotion: Why Is It Called "Good Friday?" (Day 39)



About the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, "Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?"--which means, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?"  Matthew 27:46

Thoughts: (the below article was written by Joni Erickson Tada and Steve Estes)

The face that Moses had begged to see--was forbidden to see--was slapped bloody. The thorns that God had sent to curse the earth's rebellion now twisted around his own brow.... 

"On your back with you!" One raises a mallet to sink in the spike. But the soldier's heart must continue pumping as he readies the prisoner's wrist. Someone must sustain the soldier's life minute by minute, for no man has this power on his own. Who supplies breath to his lungs? Who gives energy to his cells? Who holds his molecules together? Only by the Son do "all things hold together". The victim wills that the soldier live on--he grants the warriors continued existence. 
The man swings. 

As the man swings, the Son recalls how he and the Father first designed the medial nerve of the human forearm--the sensations it would be capable of. The design proves flawless--the nerves perform exquisitely. "Up you go!" They lift the cross. God is on display...and can scarcely breathe. 

But these pains are a mere warm up to his other and growing dread. He begins to feel a foreign sensation. Somewhere during the day an unearthly foul odor began to waft, not around his nose, but his heart. He feels dirty. Human wickedness starts to crawl upon his spotless being...The apple of his Father's eye turns brown with rot. 

His Father! He must face his Father like this! 

From heaven, the Father now rouses himself like a lion disturbed, shakes his mane, and roars against the shriveling remnant of a man hanging on a cross. Never has the Son seen the Father look at him so, never felt even the least of his hot breathe. But the roar shakes the unseen world and darkens the visible sky. The son does not recognize these eyes. 

"Son of man, why have you behaved so??" You have cheated...stolen, gossiped--murdured, envied, hated, lied. You have cursed, robbed, overspent, overeaten...disobeyed...Oh the duties you have shirked, the children you have abandoned! Who has ever so ignored the poor, so played the coward, so belittled my name?? Have you ever held your razor tongue? Who gave you the boldness to rig elections, foment revolutions...and worship demons? Does the list never end! Splitting families...acting smugly...accepting bribes. You have burned down buildings, perfected terrorist tactics, founded false religions, traded in slaves--relishing each morsel and bragging about it all! I hate, loathe, these things in you! Disgust for everything about you consumes me. Can you not feel my wrath??" 

Of course the Son is innocent. He is blamelessness itself. The Father knows this...but the divine pair have an agreement, and the unthinkable must now take place. Jesus will be treated as if personally responsible for every sin ever committed. 

The Father watches as his heart's treasure, the mirror image of himself, sinks drowning into raw, liquid sin. Jehovah's stored rage against humankind from every century explodes in a single direction. 

"Father, Father, why have you foresaken me?!" 

But heaven stops its ears. The Son stares up at the One who can not, who will not, reach down or reply. 

The Trinity had planned it. The Son endured it. The Spirit enabled him. The Father rejected the Son whom he loved. Jesus, the God-man from Nazareth, perished. The Father accepted his sacrifice for sin and was satisfied. The Rescue was accomplished. 


Questions
- What are your thoughts after hearing that? 
- What did Jesus have to endure?  Why?
- Why is the day that He died on the cross called Good Friday?

Prayer
Lord Jesus, thank You! Thank You from the bottom of our hearts for rescuing us from sin, from rebellion, from eternal separation and hell. Thank You Jesus. Help us to remember, each day, each moment, what You did for us. Help us to tell other people so that they too, can believe and be saved. May our lives count for Your glory and for Your Kingdom. 

Song: How Beautiful

How beautiful the hands that served
The wine and the bread and the sons of the earth
How beautiful the feet that walked
The long dusty roads and the hill to the cross

How beautiful, how beautiful
How beautiful is the body of Christ

How beautiful the heart that bled
That took all my sin and bore it instead
How beautiful the tender eyes
That chose to forgive and never despise

How beautiful, how beautiful
How beautiful is the body of Christ

And as He laid down His life
We offer this sacrifice
That we will live just as he died
Willing to pay the price
Willing to pay the price

How beautiful the radiant bride
Who waits for her groom with His light in her eyes
How beautiful when humble hearts give
The fruit of pure lives so that others may live

How beautiful, how beautiful
How beautiful is the body of Christ

How beautiful the feet that bring
The sound of good news and the love of the King
How beautiful the hands that serve
The wine and the bread and the sons of the earth

How beautiful, how beautiful
How beautiful is the body of Christ


Here is a video of the song: How Beautiful

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Children's Easter Devotion: Come to the Table, All Are Welcome (Day 38)



When evening came, Jesus arrived with the Twelve. While they were reclining at the table eating, he said, "I tell you the truth, one of you will betray me—one who is eating with me."
They were saddened, and one by one they said to him, "Surely not I?"
"It is one of the Twelve," he replied, "one who dips bread into the bowl with me.
The Son of Man will go just as it is written about him. But woe to that man who betrays the Son of Man! It would be better for him if he had not been born."
While they were eating, Jesus took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying, "Take it; this is my body."
Then he took the cup, gave thanks and offered it to them, and they all drank from it.
"This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many," he said to them.
"I tell you the truth, I will not drink again of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it anew in the kingdom of God."
When they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.  Mark 14:17-26

Questions:
- What Jewish holiday were Jesus and His disciples celebrating?
- What did Jesus predict about one of His followers? How do you think that made Jesus feel?
- What represented Jesus body that would be crucified for our sins?
- What represented Jesus blood that would be spilled for our sins?
- What is this sharing of the bread and wine called in the Christian faith? Talk about the importance of communion. (If your children are believers, you may want to have communion with them at this time, to remember the sacrifice Jesus made for us).

Thoughts
"The wine and the matzot, or unleavened bread, were a very important part of the Passover celebration. Passover was the celebration of God's deliverance of the Jews from slavery in Egypt. When Jesus identified Himself with the bread and the wine, He was telling His disciples, and us, that it would be by His death that we would be delivered from sin." Ann Hibbard from Family Celebrations at Easter.

Prayer
Lord Jesus, thank you for the sacrifice you made on the cross for my sins. Whenever I take communion, may I be reminded of how much You love me and may I commit my life to You. I love You Jesus.

Song: Come to the Table by Michael Card

Come to the table
And savor the sight,
The wine and the bread that was broken.
And all have been welcome to come
If they might
Accept as their own these two tokens.
The bread is his body,
The wine is the blood
And the one who provides them is true.
He freely offers
We freely receive.
To accept and believe him is all we must do.

Come to the table
And taste of the glory
And savor the sorrow
He's dying tomorrow.
The hand that is breaking the bread
Soon will be broken.
And here at the table
Sit those who have loved him,
One is a traitor and one will deny,
Though he's lived his life for them all
And for all be crucified.

Come to the table he's prepared for you
The bread of forgiveness the wine of release.
Come to the table and sit down beside him.
The Saviour wants you to join in the feast.

Come to the table and see in his eyes
The love that the Father has spoken.
And know you are welcome
Whatever your crime,
Though every commandment you've broken.
For he's come to love you
And not to condemn.
And he offers a pardon of peace.
If you'll come to the table
You'll feel in your heart
The greatest forgiveness,
The greatest release

Come to the table
And taste of the glory
And savor the sorrow
He's dying tomorrow.
The hand that is breaking the bread
Soon will be broken.
And here at the table
Sit those who have loved him,
One is a traitor and one will deny,
Though he's lived his life for them all
And for all be crucified.

Come to the table he's prepared for you
The bread of forgiveness the wine of release.
Come to the table and sit down beside him.
The Saviour wants you to join in the feast.



Here is a website with the song and a great slide show: Come to the Table

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Children's Easter Devotion: A Glimpse of Heaven (Day 37)


After this I looked and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands.
And they cried out in a loud voice: "Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb."
All the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures. They fell down on their faces before the throne and worshiped God,
saying: "Amen! Praise and glory and wisdom and thanks and honor and power and strength be to our God for ever and ever. Amen!"
Then one of the elders asked me, "These in white robes--who are they, and where did they come from?"
I answered, "Sir, you know." And he said, "These are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.
Therefore, "they are before the throne of God and serve him day and night in his temple; and he who sits on the throne will spread his tent over them.
Never again will they hunger; never again will they thirst. The sun will not beat upon them, nor any scorching heat.
For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd; he will lead them to springs of living water. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes." Revelation 7:9-17


Questions:
- What is the book of Revelation about? (a vision John sees about the events going on in Heaven and on earth - some in the present, some in the future); these events seem to be taking place right now, pointing to the ongoing worship of Jesus Christ that occurs in Heaven
- How do you think John must have felt to see this worship of Christ after he had seen His crucifixion years earlier?
- How is the multitude described? Who are they?
- Who is the Lamb?
- Describe some of the things that John and we can learn about Heaven from these verses.
- What does it mean that the Lamb is their Shepherd?

Thoughts
Here, in Revelation, we can catch a small glimpse of what Heaven is like right now and what we can expect to see and do when we get there. It is centered on the worship of the Trinity (God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit) as we celebrate the Lamb. This will be beyond any wonderful experience we have ever had on earth because each of us was created specifically to worship God. In Heaven, we will be able to fully and completely carry out all that we were created to be. And Jesus will be at the center of it all. This is why we should do our best today, on earth, to make Jesus the center of our life. To ask Him to sit on the throne of our heart and to worship Him daily. This will bring both joy to us and to the Lord and prepare us for eternity in Heaven. Is He sitting on the throne of your life today?

Prayer
Lord Jesus, we so look forward to one day being in Heaven with You, worshipping You around the throne and entering ultimate joy and peace. Thank You for making a way for us. While we are here on earth, may we worship You with our lives. Show us how to do this Lord. We love You so much!

Song: Salvation Belongs to our God

Salvation belongs to our God
Who sits upon the throne
And unto the Lamb
Praise and glory, wisdom and thanks
Honor and power and strength

Be to our God forever and ever
Be to our God forever and ever
Be to our God forever and ever, Amen

And we, the redeemed shall be strong
In purpose and unity
Declaring aloud
Praise and glory, wisdom and thanks
Honor and power and strength

Here is a link with the music: Salvation belongs to our God

Monday, April 14, 2014

Children's Easter Devotion: Free in Jesus (Day 36)




Bible: read 2 Corinthians 5:21 and 8:9 first and then go to the questions

God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.  2 Corinthians 5:21

For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich.  2 Corinthians 8:9

You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly.
Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die.
But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God's wrath through him!
For if, when we were God's enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!
Not only is this so, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.  Romans 5:6-11

For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin--because anyone who has died has been freed from sin.
Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him.
For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him.
The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God.
In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.  Romans 6:6-11


Questions:
- What did God make Jesus become for us? What do you think that means?
- What is righteousness? (right living, living a life that is pleasing to God)
- What does it mean that we will become the righteousness of God? (we can't earn righteousness, it is a gift of God through Christ)
- Read Romans 5:6-11
- What were we when Christ died for us? So did we do anything to earn His forgiveness?
- Will Jesus forgive everything we do if we ask Him?
- Read Romans 6:6-11
- What are we no longer slaves to? What does that mean?
- Will Jesus ever have to die again for our sins?
- What does it mean to be dead to sin but alive to God?

Thoughts
Our sin was destroyed on the cross. All the wrong things we have done or will do in the future have been destroyed. Instead of being clothed in our sin, we are clothed in Jesus' white robes of righteousness. That means that when God looks at us, He no longer sees our sin. Instead, He see Jesus' goodness. We cannot do anything to earn it. This has already been done for us. All we have to do is receive God's perfect gift.

Prayer
Lord Jesus, I praise You and thank You for what You did on the cross. You became my sin. All the times I have been mean, or hateful, or cruel, or unloving, the times I've lied or disobeyed, You took all that sin away. Now I don't have to live under its weight but I am free to live in righteousness through You. I love You Jesus.

Song: Crucified with Christ

As I look back on what I thought was living
I'm amazed at the price I choose to pay
And to think I ignored what really mattered
Cause I thought the sacrifice would be too great
But when I finally reached the point of giving in
I found the cross was calling even then
And even though it took dying to survive
I've never felt so much alive.

Chorus
For I am crucified with Christ and yet I live
Not I but Christ that lives within me
His Cross will never ask for more than I can give
For it's not my strength but His
There's no greater sacrifice
For I am crucified with Christ and yet I live

As I hear the Savior call for daily dying
I will bow beneath the weight of Calvary
Let my hands surrender to His piercing purpose
That holds me to the cross but sets me free
I will glory in the power of the cross
The things I thought were gain I count as loss
And with His suffering I identify
And by His resurrection power I am alive

Chorus

Bridge
And I will offer all I have
So that His cross is not in vain
For I found to live is Christ
And to die is truly gain



Here is a link with the music and words: Crucified with Christ

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Children's Easter Devotion: We Are Pardoned, He Was Condemned (Day 35)


Pilate called together the chief priests, the rulers and the people, and said to them, "You brought me this man as one who was inciting the people to rebellion. I have examined him in your presence and have found no basis for your charges against him.
Neither has Herod, for he sent him back to us; as you can see, he has done nothing to deserve death.
Therefore, I will punish him and then release him."
With one voice they cried out, "Away with this man! Release Barabbas to us!"
(Barabbas had been thrown into prison for an insurrection in the city, and for murder.)
Wanting to release Jesus, Pilate appealed to them again.
But they kept shouting, "Crucify him! Crucify him!"
For the third time he spoke to them: "Why? What crime has this man committed? I have found in him no grounds for the death penalty. Therefore I will have him punished and then release him."
But with loud shouts they insistently demanded that he be crucified, and their shouts prevailed.
So Pilate decided to grant their demand.
He released the man who had been thrown into prison for insurrection and murder, the one they asked for, and surrendered Jesus to their will.  Luke 23:13-25


But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.
We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.  Isaiah 53:5-6


Questions:
- Who deserved to be punished? What had he done?
- Who was punished instead? What had Jesus done wrong?
- How was Jesus a substitute for Barabbas?
- How do you think Barabbas felt when he realized that he was free and someone else would die in his place.
- What can we learn from this? (read Isaiah 53:5-6)


Thoughts
We are all like Barabbas. We have all committed sin that has condemned us to an eternity of punishment. "All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one." Romans 3:12  We can't earn a pardon/salvation anymore than Barabbas could do anything himself to be released. All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away. Isaiah 64:6 Yet, just as with Barabbas, Jesus stepped in and took our punishment. We are pardoned and He was condemned.


Prayer
Lord Jesus, how can we thank You enough for what You did for us? You took our punishment, our sins, and got rid of them on the cross. We love You and want You to be our Lord and Savior. Praise You Jesus.


Song: Amazing Love

I'm forgiven because you were forsaken
I'm accepted, You were condemned
I'm alive and well
Your spirit is within me
Because you died and rose again

Amazing love, how can it be?
That you, my king. would die for me
Amazing love, I know it's true
And it's my joy to honor you
Amazing love how can it be?
That my king would die for me
Amazing love I know it's true
And it's my joy to honor you
In all I do
I honor you

You are my king
You are my king
Jesus, You are my king
Jesus, You are my king

Here is a link to the song with words: Amazing Love