THE FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT WEEK FIVE: (KINDNESS)

I published a little too soon before–here are some updates.

“Be kind to one another, tender hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.”  Ephesians 4:32

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Kindness.   It is what our 11 year old dog McCoy needs to exhibit to his new baby sister Elsa.  When she nips at his ears, kindness is not forthcoming!  It is very interesting to me that most of the verses in the New Testament that deal with kindness also have some correlation with forgiveness.   Instead of taking revenge, show kindness.  When someone nips you on the ears, don’t retaliate with a growl.  Instead, be tender-hearted, kind, and forgiving.  When you think about it, that is exactly what God has done for us.  He took on the payment and punishment for our sin so that we would experience His loving-kindness.   People tend to categorize God as “the God of the Old Testament” and “the God of the New Testament.”  I’ve…

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THE FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT WEEK FIVE: (KINDNESS)

“Be kind to one another, tender hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.”  Ephesians 4:32

_1KH1352

Kindness.   It is what our 11 year old dog McCoy needs to exhibit to his new baby sister Elsa.  When she nips at his ears, kindness is not forthcoming!  It is very interesting to me that most of the verses in the New Testament that deal with kindness also have some correlation with forgiveness.   Instead of taking revenge, show kindness.  When someone nips you on the ears, don’t retaliate with a growl.  Instead, be tender-hearted, kind, and forgiving.  When you think about it, that is exactly what God has done for us.  He took on the payment and punishment for our sin so that we would experience His loving-kindness.   People tend to categorize God as “the God of the Old Testament” and “the God of the New Testament.”  I’ve heard many people make the comment that in the Old Testament, God is all wrath and anger, and in the New Testament we see His mercy.   I strongly disagree with this assessment.   God demonstrates His hesed, Hebrew for “loving-kindness”, time and time again in the Old Testament.  He shows it to the outcasts Hagar and Ishmael.   He shows it countless times to His people Israel.

My hope is that you will grow in the knowledge of the LORD this week as you encounter His hesed:  His great loving-kindness.

Parent Overview for This Week:

Throughout the week, show your family random acts of kindness.   Write a note and put it in your kids lunchboxes, or leave a little note on their pillow.  Make their bed for them one day.  Show a kindness to your spouse (flowers, written letter, helping with chores).  Your whole family will engage in acts of kindness toward the end of the week.

DAY ONE:  Understanding Kindness

You and your kids will begin to brainstorm about what true kindness looks like by going on a scavenger hunt.  You will need to have written out the acts of kindness on sheets of paper and put them in Easter eggs–or just hide the papers around the house.  Your kids will find them and as a family you will talk through the different acts of kindness.

DAY TWO: The Kindness of the LORD

Today, you and your children discover the loving-kindness of our covenant God.   There will be a few scriptures that you and/or your children can read through and discuss.  If you have older children, a great Biblical story that reveals the kind heart of God is found in Genesis 21.   When Hagar and Ishmael are sent away, God meets them in their need.  It is a beautiful story of God’s love, kindness, and provision.

DAY THREE:  Biblical Portrait of Kindness:  David and Mephibosheth

For today’s lesson, you will want to make sure you have read up on the conflict/history between David and King Saul.  It is important that your kids understand how Saul mistreated David, and that David had every right as King to retaliate against Saul’s family.  Not only does David not take revenge, but he invites a member of Saul’s family to dine at his table.  This is kindness in action!

DAY FOUR: Be Kind to One Another

Today’s focus will be showing kindness to another person when we feel they don’t deserve it.  This is a hard lesson not only for siblings but for relationships at school.  You will all read through some scriptures and come up with ideas of how to show kindness to those we really don’t feel like loving.

DAY FIVE:  Other Acts of Kindness

For the rest of the week, you and your family will be engaging in special acts of kindness for one another.  I’ve included a short list of ideas, but by all means come up with your own!  Each family member will do 3 acts of kindness for the other members of the family.  Before you start the week on “Goodness” make sure you talk about how these simple acts of kindness made a difference.

Also, today you will have your family devotion out of the house and on the streets.  Walk through your neighborhood–by houses, churches, and schools.  You will give your family an opportunity to come up with ways to show kindness to your neighbors and the needy around you.

FRUIT OF THE WEEK:  Peaches or Pears OR have each child pick a favorite fruit (make some different recipes that feature these favorites as an act of kindness).

Here is a link to one of our favorites:  Peach Crisp with Maple Cream Sauce

DAY ONE:  UNDERSTANDING KINDNESS

Verse for the Day:   Col. 3:12 “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.”

  • Begin today’s lesson with prayer, asking God to reveal His kindness to you.
  • Read the scripture for the day and talk about putting on kindness like a piece of clothing.
  • Tell your kids to think about the word kindness when they put on a certain article of clothing each day this week.   For instance, when I put on my shoes, I’m going to think about putting on kindness.  Let them pick which article they want to use.  This will really stick with them throughout the week!
  • Ask your kids:  “What is kindness?”   “How do we show kindness?”

ACTIVITY:  Kindness Scavenger Hunt

  • Hide several Easter eggs around the house and in each egg put a strip of paper with one of these words:
    • tenderness
    • concern for others
    • helping those in need
    • loving the unlovable
    • reaching out to the lonely
    • giving of your own money or possessions
    • reaching out to a schoolmate
    • saying thank you to a teacher or parent
  • Have your kids search through the house for the eggs and bring them back.  Divide them evenly among your kids.
  • Have your kids read the strips of paper in each egg and talk about them together.
  • Share with each other about times you have each shown kindness.
  • End with prayer, asking God to give you opportunities to show His kindness this week.

DAY TWO:  THE KINDNESS OF THE LORD

Verse of the Day:  Hosea 11:4

  • In the Old Testament, the Hebrew word for kindness is hesed.  This word is often used in describing God’s kindness.
  • Share this definition with your kids (or at least as much as they would understand):  “unfailing love, loyal love, devotion, kindness, often based on a prior relationship, especially a covenant relationship
  • Talk about what unfailing love means.  God’s love will never fail us.
  • What does loyal love mean?  God is loyal to us.
  • How about devotion?  Give some examples of devotion.
  • When you become a Christian, you are in a covenant relationship with God–a binding relationship that lasts for eternity.  Because of this relationship, we experience His kindness and mercy every day.

Now we are going to look at some verses that describe God’s kindness.

  • Hosea 11:4:   “I led them with cords of human kindness, with ties of love; I lifted the yoke from their neck and bent down to feed them.”
    • In a few minutes you are going to demonstrate this verse with your children so that they have a visual picture of how God shows kindness to us.
  • Jeremiah 9:24:  “BUT LET HIM WHO BOASTS BOAST ABOUT THIS: THAT HE UNDERSTANDS AND KNOWS ME, THAT I AM THE LORD, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight,” declares the LORD.
    • Notice that kindness is a part of God’s nature–His character.   He DELIGHTS in kindness.  Do we delight in being kind?
  • Isaiah 54:8:  “In a surge of anger I hid my face from you for a moment, but with everlasting kindness I will have compassion on you,” says the LORD your Redeemer.”
    • notice how God contrasts the length of His anger with the length of His kindness!  temporary vs. eternal!
  • Titus 3:4  “But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy.”
    • God demonstrates His kindness by saving us from our sin.  We did ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to deserve God’s kindness.   Make sure your kids understand this!

ACTIVITY:  Cords of human kindness

  • If you have some rope, string, or even a dog leash, tie one end around a child’s wrist or waist and tie the other end around a parent’s wrist or waist.  Have the parent walk and notice how the child stays safely tethered to his/her parent.  Pretend that you are walking through some dangerous path.  How would God’s tether keep us safe from harm?
  • This is a visual picture of Hosea 11:4.   God leads His people in this way.   We are bound to Him in His love.
  • You could also have your child carry something heavy for a while, then lift it from their shoulders—to show how God lifts our burdens.  Ask your children:  “What are some things that weigh heavy on you?”  God can take them from you!
  • He even bends down to feed us–both physically and spiritually.  Jesus Christ came down to earth.  He came down to our level, so to speak.  Philippians 2 talks about how He left His glory and took on the form of a servant—human form.   He wanted to proclaim the Good News with human lips.  If that isn’t kindness, I don’t know what is!
  • Ask your kids what this teaches them about God’s kindness to us.

End the lesson by thanking God for His kindness to us, even though we don’t deserve it.

DAY THREE: A Biblical Portrait of Kindness:  David and Mephibosheth

Scripture for the Day: 2 Samuel 9

  • Before you read this passage, ask your children if they know any Bible stories about King Saul and David and what happened between them.
  • Remind them that Saul tried to kill/hurt David on many occasions because he was jealous of David.
  • Saul’s son Jonathan was David’s friend, and he warned David to flee from Saul because he knew King Saul was going to hurt/kill David.
  • During this time period, when a new King took over, if the previous King was an enemy, all the old King’s family would be destroyed or exiled.
  • But lets see what David did when he took over the throne from Saul.
  • Have your children read/or you read this story, found in 2 Samuel 9:1-13

After you have read the story, talk about the kindness he showed to one of Saul’s family members.  Remind them what normally would have happened to Mephibosheth, and how David’s actions demonstrated true kindness.

  • End with prayer, asking God to reveal to each family member a person to whom they can show kindness, instead of harshness or revenge.  You will be talking more about this in the coming days.

DAY FOUR:  BE KIND TO ONE ANOTHER

Verse of the Day: Ephesians 4:32  “Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”

  •  Begin by saying a prayer and reading the verse of the day
  • Ask the question:  “Has anyone ever sinned against you?”
    • Let each child share a situation/story
  • “How did you feel?”  “What did you want to do?”
  • “Have you ever sinned against God?”
  • “How do you think this affects God?”  “Did you know that we can grieve the Holy Spirit?” (Ephesians 4:30)
  • “Remember that ‘the payment for sin is death’.   Did God take revenge upon you?”
  • “What did He do instead?”
  • Read the scripture of the day AGAIN!
  • “So because you have been forgiven, accepted into God’s family, and given the same inheritance as Jesus, how should we respond to those who sin against us?”

Read 1 Thessalonians 5:15:  “Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always try to be kind to each other and to everyone else.”

  • “What does it mean to pay back wrong for wrong?”
  • “When your brother or sister yells at you, how would you pay back wrong for wrong?”
  • “What should you do instead?”
  • Ask your kids to come up with other examples of paying back wrong for wrong.

Read Luke 6:35:  “But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked.”

  • Notice again that God is kind to the sinner, and we should likewise be kind.

Application:

  • “What are some things you can do to show kindness to the bullies/enemies at school?”
    • Don’t give angry/mean looks
    • Give a genuine smile
    • Say hi or ask how they are doing
    • Don’t talk about the person behind their back
  • “What are some ways you can show kindness to your brother/sister?”
    • Give a random hug
    • Say I love you
    • Do something for them.  Do their chores for them one day.
    • Write a short encouraging note
    • Say I’m sorry.
    • Ask if he/she needs help with something.

Finish by having each family member pray and ask the Holy Spirit to give ideas about how to show kindness to one another.   Ask each family member to carry out an act of kindness toward someone.  When you meet again for devotions, have your family share what they did.

DAY FIVE: ACTS OF KINDNESS

Verse for the day:  Prov. 12:25 An anxious heart weighs a man down, but a kind word cheers him up.

Begin with prayer and by reading today’s verse.

  • “Did anyone speak a kind word to someone since we last met?”
  • “Let’s remember that a kind word can cheer someone’s heart.  Don’t neglect speaking kind words to those around you.”
  • “What acts of kindness did God lay upon your heart?”
  • “Throughout the weekend, lets each do 3 kind things for one another as a family.”
    • Help with chores without being asked
    • Write kind notes
    • Give hugs/kisses, say I love you
    • Offer to help when you normally wouldn’t
    • Give a small gift
    • Speak words of encouragement to one another

ACTIVITY:  Look for opportunities.

Today, or one day during the weekend, get your family out of the house and take a walk through your neighborhood.

  • As you walk by certain homes, talk about how you as a family can show kindness to your neighbors.  (invite them for a meal, leave a gift or food on their doorstep)
  • If you have a church in the neighborhood, pray for them as you walk past.  Indicate to your kids that praying for other churches and people is a kind thing to do!
  • If you have a school in your neighborhood, walk around it and talk about the people who are often overlooked and talk about ways your kids can reach out to the lonely and the overlooked.  (Leave a kind note for or say a kind word to the janitor, the librarian, the girl who eats by herself every day).
  • If possible, go to an area of town where you know the poor and needy hangout.   Take a small box filled with toiletries, socks, and a scripture verse to give to them.  Or, take items to your local food pantry or crisis center.  On your way there, read these verses:
    • Prov. 14:21 He who despises his neighbor sins, but blessed is he who is kind to the needy.
    • Prov. 14:31 He who oppresses the poor shows contempt for their Maker, but whoever is kind to the needy honors God.

Remember to show acts of kindness to your family members throughout the weekend and until you begin the lessons on “Goodness.”   Your kids will love coming up with ways to show kindness.

2Tim. 2:24 “And the Lord’s servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful.”

THE FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT: WEEK FOUR: (PATIENCE)

2Tim. 4:2 “Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage — with great patience and careful instruction.”

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In all the different parenting groups, MOPS meetings, and Bible studies that I have attended there is one fruit of the Spirit with which everyone seems to need help….patience.   More than any other fruit, it seems that we really struggle with this one as parents.  I know I have.   I know I do.   There have been times when my husband and I have been extremely consistent in discipline and one of our children still puts the toe across the line five months down the line.  Or, the common phrase, “If I had a dollar for every time I’ve reminded my child to make her bed, I’d be a millionaire.”   And, truth be told, we probably aren’t exaggerating very much when we make this statement.  Well…we would at least have $1,000 more to our name, right??  And, let’s not even get started on the marriage relationship!  🙂   After 18 years of marriage we all struggle with patience with our spouse from time to time.

We need help with patience.   Our children need help with patience.  There is only One who can truly help us.

“THE LORD, the LORD, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness…” Exodus 34:6

Parent Overview for This Week:

DAY ONE:  What is Patience?

Today you will be teaching your children the two Greek words used for patience in the Bible.  One is patience with people and the other is patience in circumstances.  You are going to demonstrate these two forms of patience by either acting out a skit/having your kids act out a scenario/or just talking about different scenarios that require patience with each other.  Then you are going to demonstrate what endurance means by holding up a heavy object for a long period of time.  Make sure you find an object that really is heavy and label it “difficult circumstances”  or “hard times”.

DAY TWO: The Perfect Patience of our God

Have your Bibles ready!  Today you are going to read several verses about the patience of God.  It is through discovering just how patient God is with us that we can be patient with others.   It is so important that your kids come to understand that they are sinners in need of God’s mercy and grace.  This is the key to patience.

DAY THREE: Slow to Anger

Today’s activity can be a real eye opener for your family if you struggle with being easily angered.  You will need pieces of paper labelled with different phrases/words about anger.  You will also need a deep box or hamper with clothes or other paper.  You are going to layer the labelled papers with the clothes/scraps.  Do this before your family gathering.   Then, when you meet, your kids are going to start at the top and dig to the bottom to find the real reasons for anger.  DON’T RUSH THROUGH THIS ONE.  Take time to talk about the heart motives that are at the root of anger in your family.

DAY FOUR: Taming the Tongue

Today you will be going through several passages of scripture and discussing them with your kids.  You will be reminded of just how dangerous and damaging our words can be, and that our words show what is truly in our hearts.  If you have kids that can read, assign them a little reading homework–James Chapter 3 (parents should read it too!)

DAY FIVE: Persevering Patience

Today you will need a fruit or vegetable and its seeds.  It might also be good to have pictures of the process a seed goes through to become a full grown plant with fruit.  You will use this simple illustration, based on a passage of scripture, to teach your kids that it takes time to produce the fruit of patience.  It probably won’t happen overnight.  Kids need to know that they need to persevere in their patience with siblings, parents, friends, and enemies.  This illustration is simple, but powerful!  Read through the whole day before sitting down with your family.

FRUIT FOR THE WEEK:  Tomatoes (because I find myself lacking in patience when growing them!)

DAY ONE:  What is Patience?

Verse for the Day:  Colossians 1:10-12

INTRODUCE:  “Two Kinds of Patience”

  • Read Galatians 5:22
  • The Bible actually uses two different Greek words for patience:  makrothumia and hupomone.
    Have your kids repeat the words after you.

    • Makrothumia is defined:  “to be long suffering…forbearance, self restraint before proceeding to action..the quality of a person who is able to avenge himself yet refrains from doing so.”   Makruthumia is patience toward people.
    • Hupomone is defined:  “to persevere, to remain under…bearing up under…it refers to that quality of character which does not allow one to surrender to circumstances.  Hupomone is patience as it relates to circumstances or things.
  • Ask your kids “Which one do you think is used for the Fruit of the Spirit?”  Why?”
  • If your kids are young and don’t know what self-restraint is, take some time to explain it to them.

ACTIVITY:  Demonstrating the two kinds of patience

PART I:  Before you meet as a family, take some time to come up with a common scenario where your kids struggle with patience.  You can confer with a spouse, or think on your own.  If you have time, you can write out the scenario as a kind of skit that your kids can read and act out.   If you don’t have time, then you can simply talk out the scenario with your spouse/grandparent/or other adult before you meet as a family.  The two of you can act out a scene for your kids.  OR, if you have older kids who are willing, have them come up with a scenario to show the family.  Older kids will love putting together a “show” that demonstrates patience with their siblings.  Let them be creative—they will usually come up with a great scene to show you.

If you don’t have any time for this, then just talk about a possible scenario together as a family.  Let your kids come up with the ideas, though.  Let them brainstorm and talk about situations that try their patience.

PART II:  Get something REALLY heavy that you or your spouse can hold up–or that you can bear the weight of for a few minutes.  Label that item with a sheet of paper entitled:  “difficult circumstances” or “hard times”.  Hold it up over your head and talk about how perseverance means holding up under difficult times and not dropping the weight–even when it gets hard and you feel tired.  Let your kids visually see what it means to “bear up under” something.  Once they get the point, ask your kids to come up with some circumstances that would require this kind of patience. 

Finish with the question:  “Do we sometimes have to show both kinds of patience at the same time?”  Explain to your kids that sometimes we have to be patient with people over a long period of time.  This requires that we don’t take revenge AND we endure and persevere with them no matter how long it takes.   Give an example of how you have done this with your own kids.

PRAY THIS VERSE OVER YOUR CHILDREN INDIVIDUALLY:  (This verse actually uses BOTH words for patience!)

Col. 1:10 And we pray this in order that you (insert family member name) may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God,
Col. 1:11 being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience

DAY TWO:  The Perfect Patience of Our God

Verse for the Day:  Psa. 86:15 “But you, O Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness.”

Begin today by saying the verse of the day together and the following verses:

  • Psalm 103:8
  • Psalm 145:8
  • Joel 2:13
  • Exodus 34:6

In each of these verses, the phrase “slow to anger” is the Hebrew word for patience.

  • Ask your kids to give examples of how God was patient with the Israelites
  • If they can’t come up with anything, explain how time and time again, even though the Israelites were unfaithful and turned away from God, He demonstrated patience.

Now read 2 Peter 3:9 and Romans 2:4

  • What is one reason why God is patient with us?
  • What does it mean to repent of something?
  • So what are these verses really saying?  What does it mean for you?

Look at 1 Timothy 1:16

“But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe on him and receive eternal life.”

THE NLT SAYS IT THIS WAY: “But God had mercy on me so that Christ Jesus could use me as a prime example of his great patience with even the worst sinners. Then others will realize that they, too, can believe in him and receive eternal life.”

We learn three very important things from this passage:

  • Paul acknowledges that he is “the worst of sinners”.  He is no better than anyone else.  THIS IS CRUCIAL TO OUR STUDY ON PATIENCE LATER THIS WEEK!
  • Jesus has UNLIMITED PATIENCE.  Ask your kids What does unlimited patience mean? His patience with his children will never run out.  NEVER RUN OUT.
  • When other people see how God has been patient with us, they too can believe in Him and receive eternal life.  WHEN WE TRULY UNDERSTAND HOW GOD HAS BEEN PATIENT WITH US, THEN WE CAN SHOW HIS UNLIMITED PATIENCE WITH OTHERS AND THEY WILL BE DRAWN TO HIM!
  • Ask your kids to give an example of how they can be patient with someone–and lead that person to Christ.  OR give your own example.

Finish by praying and thanking God for his UNLIMITED patience.  After you thank Him, lead out in a prayer like this,  “God, I just want to confess that just like Paul, I am the worst of sinners.  You have been so patient with me and have shown me grace and mercy.  Help me to see others as you see me and to be patient with them.”  Give your kids a chance to pray too.

DAY THREE:  Slow to Anger

Verse for the Day:  James 1:19-20 “My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires.”

  • More often than not, our lack of patience is revealed in our anger.
  • Begin by reading today’s verse and talk about it as a family.
  • Read these:
    • Prov. 14:29 “A patient man has great understanding, but a quick-tempered man displays folly.”
      Prov. 15:18 “A hot-tempered man stirs up dissension, but a patient man calms a quarrel.”
    • Are we as a family slow to become angry or quick tempered?

ACTIVITY:  What is at the bottom of my anger?

Have a large box or hamper full of clothes or papers.  Throughout the hamper, you will have sheets of paper with different words:

  • hitting
  • angry words/yelling
  • mean looks
  • frustrated
  • tired
  • anxiety/worry
  • fear
  • selfishness
  • an unforgiving heart (root of bitterness)
  • pride

At the very bottom of the hamper or box place the paper with the word “pride” on it.  Then, place some clothes or other scraps of paper on top.  Next put “selfishness”, then a few more clothes/scraps.  Next add “fear” and “anxiety or worry.”  Layer on more clothes/paper scraps.  Then place “tired” and “frustrated”.  Layer more clothes or papers and then on top place the final three words: hitting, angry words, and mean looks.  You should now have a layered box or hamper with the actions of anger on top and the real reasons for anger closer to the bottom.

This activity will help your family see that the actions of hitting, yelling, angry words, etc. are just the tip of the iceberg.  They are the signs of a deeper problem.  “Lets keep digging to see what lies beneath the surface.”   As they uncover more motivations, talk about these motivations and give examples of why they cause anger.  It is important to note that being tired or frustrated is no excuse for anger and that there is some deeper sin.  Keep going and uncover how worry or fear can result in anger.  Keep digging…and finally uncover the last three strips of paper.

The real reason for most outbursts of anger have to do with selfishness, an unforgiving heart, and pride.  So when you are angry with your sister, one of these three traits (or sometimes all three) are usually present.  When a parent is angry with a child, the parent usually views his/herself as better than or less sinful than the child.  Or parents are driven by fear of what other people think and if a child misbehaves in public, the anger comes out (I’ve been guilty of this one).

Take some time to talk about this.  Have your kids do some heart searching.  Parents, search your hearts as well to determine what it is that is at the bottom of your anger.  Then, confess your sin before God and to your children.  Give them some space to pray a prayer of repentance as well.

Take two days on this one if needed.

DAY FOUR: Taming the Tongue

Verses for the Day:

  • Proverbs 15:1 “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.”
  • Matt. 12:34b  “Out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks”

Yesterday we talked about what was at the bottom of our anger.  Today we are going to spend a little time with one of the most common ways we show anger or a lack of patience.   When we are not patient, the words tend to flow.  We are looking at what was at the top of our hamper/box yesterday.   As families, we really need to address the issue of our tongue.  So today we are all going to take a look at what damage our tongues can inflict on those around us.

Let’s begin by looking at scripture:

  • Matt. 12:34b  “Out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks”
    • Ask your kids What does this mean?
  • Proverbs 15:1 “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.”
    • Give an example from your own life of a time you followed this proverb and maybe a time when you didn’t follow it.
  • Prov. 29:11 A fool gives full vent to his anger, but a wise man keeps himself under control.
  • Prov. 12:18 Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.
    • Talk about how sharp a sword is (or pull out a kitchen knife and cut some fruit or vegetable to show its sharpness).  Our tongue can do this to someone’s heart.
  • Prov. 21:23 He who guards his mouth and his tongue keeps himself from calamity.
    • How do we guard our mouths?
  • Prov. 10:19 When words are many, sin is not absent, but he who holds his tongue is wise.
    • Parents, think of a time when you gave your kids a long lecture about why/ how they missed the mark.  Was sin present?  Did you encourage/build up, or pull down with your words? (Been there done that!)
  • James 1:26 If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless.
    • Ouch!  Talk about what this means with your kids.

Finish today by reminding one another that what comes out of our mouth shows what is in our heart!  Just like yesterday, if we are speaking angry words, there is sin in our hearts that we need to confess and turn away from.  Talk about ways you can use a gentle voice and gentle words to make your point.  Harsh words will never end in peace and patience.  Finally, remind your kids that their words to one another and to you can wound a heart.  “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me”  JUST ISN’T TRUE–moreover, that statement is unbiblical.  Words can severely wound.  If you need to, ask your children for forgiveness for the times you have used harsh words that wound.  Make a pact to warn each other when harsh/wounding words are being used.

OPTIONAL:  JAMES CHAPTER 3

The third chapter of James is an EXCELLENT passage on the tongue and the damage it can inflict.  If you want to, assign it as reading to your older kids (and yourself), and then talk about it another day this week.

DAY FIVE: Persevering in Patience

Verse of the Day:  Eph. 4:2 “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.”

  • Remember on day one how we talked about two kinds of patience?  Can you remember what they are?
  • Look at our verse for the day:
    • How can being humble help us be patient?
    • Remind your kids about the large object you held up on day one.  Say to them: “We need to hold one another up in this way too.  It will get hard at times, and we will get tired of being patient, but we must persevere in our patience and not give up!”
    • Go around the family circle and say to one another, “Don’t give up on __________”
    • “Healing the wounds that our words have caused can take lots of time.  The important thing is to forgive and not give up.”

James 5:7 “Be patient, then, brothers, until the Lord’s coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop and how patient he is for the autumn and spring rains. You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming is near.”

ACTIVITY:  The Patience of a Farmer

  • Bring to the table or your family circle any fruit or veggies you have on hand
  • Take the seed(s) out of a piece of fruit or a vegetable
  • Ask your kids,  “Did you know that this fruit came from this little seed?”
  • If you have older kids, have them describe the process from seed to fruit.
  • If you have younger kids, show them pictures of each stage in a plant’s growth and how it produces fruit.
  • Tell them: “This process takes several weeks and sometimes months!”
  • Changing our family habits to produce more fruit of patience will take time too!
  • It won’t usually grow overnight!
  • We have to water the seed of patience, give it the light of the Son (Jesus), and wait for the plant to grow.
  • After the plant grows, we have to watch carefully for weeds or anything that might try to choke out our “patience plant”. 
  • What are some things that could be weeds that slow down or stop our growth as a patient family?
  • Once you see a weed, pull it out! 
  • Keep the soil of our hearts softened and fresh–not hard and packed down.
    • Keep forgiving when someone wrongs you because you have been forgiven much.
    • Keep giving thanks to God for your brother/sister/parent/friend/enemy
    • Pray for each other
  • After a while, we will begin to see the fruit of patience!!
  • Then, there will be lots of patience fruit–not just one.

Finish by praying together and asking God to give you endurance as you seek to have more patience with one another.   Start choosing patience today and watch what God will do!

c9105-_dsc8327Rom. 12:12 Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.

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The Fruit of the Spirit Unit: Week Three: (Peace)

Is. 54:13 All your sons will be taught by the LORD, and great will be your children’s peace.

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Well, you’ve made it to week 3!  My hope and prayer is that you are beginning to see the fruit of some of the seeds you are sowing in the hearts of your children.  Don’t forget to pray that God waters and nourishes the seeds.

This week is all about Peace.   Again, you will notice that we begin by talking about God as the source of peace, and that Jesus brought us peace by His death on the cross.  Love, Joy, and Peace have these in common.

A motto for this week can be:  “Without Grace There is No Peace!

The week will begin by defining peace and reading scriptures about how God is our Peace.  Then you will present the Gospel again, by talking about how God’s just wrath was satisfied by Jesus’ death on the cross.  We now have peace with God because the sin debt has been paid in full.  Next, we will talk about how as Christians, we are warriors on a battlefield, and how Satan wants to make our minds a place of worry and stress.  You will discover how God can bring peace to an anxious and worried mind.  (I have to admit, day three really excites me!  Make sure you don’t skip it!).  Next, you will talk with your kids about how obeying God (and you) will lead to peace and that when we sin, we step out of the safety and security God’s peace brings.  Finally, you will round out the week by encouraging your kids to be peacemakers at their school, church, and with their brothers/sisters.

PARENT OVERVIEW FOR THIS WEEK:

Need to print this outline?  Go here.

DAY ONE:  God is the Source and Giver of Peace

  • Have a piece of poster board, or just a regular sheet of paper with two columns
  • At the beginning of the week, look at the definition of peace listed in the outline for day one.  Write these words on sheets of paper and hang them up all around the house.  Let them stay there for the entire week.  For example, you might hang “safety” on the front door, and “security” on the kitchen refrigerator.  You can also hang up other synonyms for peace.  It would be good to choose one to hang in each child’s room.

DAY TWO:  Peace Comes Through Jesus’ Death on the Cross:  Without Grace There is No Peace

  • On this day you will use the well-known peace sign to make a point that the peace Jesus brings is different from the world’s.  Use the example I give to draw your own.

DAY THREE:  Peace of the Mind:  The Battlefield of the Mind and The Armor of God

  • Today’s activity is going to be especially fun for young boys, but girls can join in the action too!  Teenagers won’t want to act out a battle scene with toys, but there is plenty of content that they need to hear and talk about.  If you have teens, make sure you read through the day first, and pick out what you feel is important for them to know about peace of the mind.  They are the age group that will struggle with worry, anxiety, and insecurity the most.  DON’T SKIP THIS DAY!!
  • You will need action figures or dolls OR your child can draw a battle scene on paper
  • Print out the diagram of a soldier with the armor of God labelled (use this for ANY age).
  • Choose a listed scripture on the printouts page to memorize with your family.

DAY FOUR:  Peace Comes With Obedience

  • Use this printout of the Circle of Blessing or draw it on your own.
  • You will also need a storybook Bible for toddlers/preschoolers if you have them because you are going to read the story of Jonah as a family.

DAY FIVE:  Being a Peacemaker

  • Sheets of paper and pens for optional writing
FRUIT OF THE WEEK: Grapes

EVERY MORNING THIS WEEK GREET ONE ANOTHER WITH:

“Grace and peace to you through Jesus Christ” AND/OR  “Shalom”

DAY ONE: GOD IS THE SOURCE AND GIVER OF PEACE

Verse for the day:  Psalm 29:11  “The LORD gives strength to His people; the LORD blesses His people with peace.”

Song to Sing:   “I’ve Got Peace Like a River”

INTRODUCE “Peace”:

  • Using a piece of poster board, or just an 8.5×11 sheet of paper, make two columns.
  • Ask your children to define “peace” and give you examples or words that describe peace.  Write them in one column.
  • Then ask them to come up with words and examples that would be the opposite of peace and list them in the other column.
  • Talk about the two lists–drawing any comparisons with what you notice in your own family.  If your kids are too young to come up with the lists, you can do it and then explain the words you have listed.
  • Next, introduce the Hebrew word for peace:  Shalom and practice saying it together.
  • Share this definition (pick the words that will make the most sense to your kiddos):  “peace, calm, safety, well-being; wholeness; peace can have a focus of security, safety which can bring feelings of satisfaction, well-being, and contentment.”
  • Ask your kids:  Have there been times when you haven’t felt peaceful?  Talk about those times together.
  • Tell them:  “One of the judges of the Israelites, named Gideon, actually built an altar/special place and named it “God is Peace”.
  • God is our peace. You can find calm, rest, safety, and satisfaction in Him and Him alone.
  • Read back over the list of words that describe peace and tell your kids that God provides all of these for us.
  • Finish by reading Is. 54:10  “Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my promise of peace be removed,” says the LORD, who has compassion on you, and turn it into a prayer, “Lord thank you for your compassion for us.  As your children you promise that even if the mountains should crumble or be taken away, your peace will not be taken away from us.  No matter what happens around us, your peace is always available for us.  Help us to turn to you for peace.

DAY TWO: PEACE COMES THROUGH CHRIST’S WORK ON THE CROSS

Today’s Verse:  Isaiah 53:5 “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.”

ACTIVITY:  The true peace sign.

  • In John 14:27, Jesus told his disciples, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.
  • The peace that Jesus gives to those who follow Him is different from the peace the world gives.
  • Ask your older children to compare/contrast what the world sees as peace and what God sees as peace.  If you only have younger children, talk a little bit about how the world views peace and how it is different from the peace God gives.  (You could even give examples about wars in other countries, where they may try to make peace but it just doesn’t work).
  • Hold up the peace sign you or your child drew and then draw another circle, but this time put a cross in it.

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  • Say, “This is our peace sign.  Only Jesus can give us true peace.”
  • “Why do you think the cross is our peace sign?”  Allow your kids to answer.
  • Did you know that the Bible says that before we came to believe in Christ that we were enemies of God?  Colossians 1:21 says “Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior.” Because we were born sinners and God is holy and just, we were outside of His family and were against Him. 
  • Remember Romans 3:23 and 6:23?   All humans have sinned and fallen short of God’s standard and the punishment for our sin is death.  We all deserve to be punished by God.
  • BUT, Is. 53:5 says,  “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.
  • This means that Jesus took God’s punishment and wrath toward sin instead of us.  For the moment that Jesus was on the cross, all our sin was put on Him, and God looked away from Him.  That is why Jesus cried out, “Father, why have you forsaken/left me?”  God and sin cannot co-exist and Jesus willingly took on our sin and experienced separation from God the Father in that moment so that we would no longer be enemies of God.
  • Read all of this passage and then take some time to make sure your kids understand it:

    Col. 1:19   “For God in all his fullness was pleased to live in Christ, and through him God reconciled everything to himself.   He made peace with everything in heaven and on earth by means of Christ’s blood on the cross. This includes you who were once far away from God. You were his enemies, separated from him by your evil thoughts and actions. Yet now he has reconciled you to himself through the death of Christ in his physical body. As a result, he has brought you into his own presence, and you are holy and blameless as you stand before him without a single fault.”

This is why the prophet Isaiah called Jesus the Prince of Peace:

Is. 9:6 For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end.

And it is why the angels said to the shepherds: Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.”

  •  Hopefully you have been greeting one another this week with “Grace and peace to you” so your family is familiar with the phrase.  Say to your kids:  “Did you know that several of the books and letters in the New Testament begin with the greeting:  Grace and Peace to you?   It is used in 12 of the NT books/letters.  Paul, Peter, and John don’t say Peace and Grace to you because they know that without God’s Grace, there can’t be peace.

Grace and Peace:   You can’t have peace until you have grace.   Without grace there is no peace.

  • Close with prayer and have your kids pray and thank God for His grace.  Thank Jesus for taking God’s wrath and punishment so that we would no longer be God’s enemy, but His family.  Thank Him for bringing peace.

(Another great passage to read and discuss if you have time later in the week, and especially if you have older kids/teens, is Ephesians Chapter 2.   I will include the entire passage from the New Living Translation in the printouts for this week.  This translation will immediately make sense to your kids, and give them deeper understanding of the peace Jesus purchased for us.)

DAY THREE:  BRINGING PEACE TO THE BATTLEFIELD OF THE MIND

Verse for the day:   Is. 26:3 “You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you.”

A note to parents:   The content of today’s lesson is definitely geared toward older children, but there are verses that you can talk about with your younger child.   Most children aged 3-6 have not yet encountered circumstances which cause worry or anxiety.  Believe it or not, your 7-10 yr old may be experiencing anxiety, even if he/she doesn’t know how to express it.  I know our oldest child had some experiences in her second grade year that brought worry and anxiety to her mind.  If you have children aged 8-18 in your household, really spend some quality time discussing these verses and talking about the worries your child may be experiencing.   Talk about your own worries and the thoughts that cause anxiety in your mind.  Be open and honest about your insecurities. The mind is our battlefield.  So today we are going to be using that metaphor to teach our children about peace of the mind. If you have sons, they will love this activity.  Throughout the lesson, they are going to act out with their action figures different aspects of a battle.   If you have girls, they could draw it out, or get some of their dolls and pretend one set of dolls is the enemy and the other set of dolls is God’s army.  This activity should stick with your kids.   If you have teens, just talk about the verses and concepts below without “acting out” a battle.  You could still use the printout of the soldier when describing the armor of God.  You can also choose between the two activities: either the battle field or the armor of God.  You can also split it into two days if you want to.

ACTIVITY:  War Zone and the Armor of God

  • If you have a boy, have him pull out his toys/legos/action figures and construct a battlefield on your living room floor.  He can do this earlier in the day before you meet as a family.  He will undoubtedly have a side with good guys and a side with bad guys.
  • If you only have girls (as we do), you could have them draw a picture of a battlefield, using specific colors to set apart one side from the other or have them pull out their dolls and choose which side is the enemy and which side is God’s army.
  • One side will be labeled :  THE ENEMY (SATAN AND HIS FORCES)
  • The other side:  THE ARMY OF GOD (if your children are believers, remind them that they are warriors!)
  • If you can, find a figure that represents Jesus, or have your daughters draw Jesus prominently on the army of God side.  Explain that when Jesus died on the cross and rose again, God won the war.   God already has the victory.  Satan is already defeated.
  • This is such an important concept for all of us to realize:  THE WAR HAS BEEN WON!
  • But, we do face battles everyday, and those battles take place in our minds.   Our own thoughts and thoughts Satan plants in our mind can wage war with our peace.
  • As children of God, we are warriors.   We fight these battles but remember God the victor is on our side, and we have the victory in Christ Jesus.
  • Read 2 Corinthians 10:3-5.   Explain what it means to your younger kids, and/or ask your older kids what the verse means.
    • We are fighting a battle and waging war against Satan
    • We are fighting against the false teachings, and human-made rules/philosophies that are lies and stand against the truth of scripture.   Have your children name some of these false teachings.  If they don’t know, take this opportunity to bring out some of the lies that permeate our culture today.
    • Our weapons are supernatural.
    • We have to take every thought captive.  Have your children demonstrate what it is to take an enemy captive.  Every thought that enters your mind, or every time you hear someone talk about what they think is true–we have to take that captive and see if it holds up to God’s standard of truth.
  • Read Ephesians 6: 10-18
    • Use the printout of the soldier to describe each piece of armor to your child.
    • Point out that our enemy, Satan is constantly shooting darts/arrows into our mind.  He wants us to doubt https://i1.wp.com/www.terryartworxstudio.com/files/Armor_of_God2008.jpgGod and doubt His promises.
    • Show your kids how faith and trust in God shields them from the arrows and how the helmet of salvation protects their minds.
    • THIS IS KEY!  It is the fact that we are saved, holy, redeemed children of God that keeps our mind at peace and free from the enemy’s flaming arrows and lies.  If we really believe we are who God says we are, and He is who He says He is, our mind is protected and at peace (see Beth Moore’s Believing God for the entire “shield of faith”.)
    • Finally, talk about the sword of the Spirit–THE BIBLE!  Explain that knowing the Bible is the only weapon we are given to actually fight the enemy.  The other parts of the armor protect us from the darts and arrows.  The sword fights and defeats our enemy.  We have to learn how to fight with the sword.  We have to memorize and know God’s Word!
    • “When Satan comes at you with a lie, you can speak out the truth against it and destroy that lie with the sword of truth”

For Teens and Older Children–In Conclusion:  On the printouts section, I have listed several verses.  Read them and decide which one you want to memorize as a family.  Remember, we must learn to wield the Sword of the Spirit and memorizing scripture is the way to do it!

DAY FOUR:  PEACE COMES WITH OBEDIENCE

Today’s Verse:  Is. 32:17 “The fruit of righteousness will be peace; the effect of righteousness will be quietness and confidence forever.”

ACTIVITY:  Not Like Jonah!

  • For toddlers and preschoolers, read the story of Jonah from your children’s Bible/Storybook.  You could even act out the story with them.
  • For older children/teens have them read the story of Jonah from the Bible.  You don’t have to read all the chapters, but definitely include the part where Jonah disobeys God, and how God responds to that disobedience.  Also read what happens when he obeys God, and how the violent people of Nineveh heed God’s warning change to a peaceful people.
  • This next portion is taken from Ted Tripp’s book “Shepherding a Child’s Heart”.  Printout this wonderful example, or on a sheet of paper draw a circle.  This is the circle of blessing.  Draw a stick figure in the circle and write the words:  peace, safety, joy.
  • “When we obey God, we remain in the circle.   Even though we may go through hard times and sad times, we can still have peace in our hearts when we obey Him.  When we sin, we step outside the circle.” 
  • Draw a stick figure outside the circle and write the words:  danger, painful consequences, unsafe, easily attacked by Satan, etc. or just use the above printout.
  • “When we are outside the circle of blessing, we are putting ourselves in danger.  As God’s children, He will convict us of sin and call us back into the circle–back into safety and into the joy and peace of walking with Him.  Sometimes, God will discipline us in order to get us back in the circle.”
  • When you are outside the circle, you won’t have a peace in your heart.  The Holy Spirit will give you an unrest–a “red flag” to say stop!  Go back into the circle!”
  • When you disobey mommy and daddy, you are disobeying God.  He knows when you have sinned, and you can’t run away from Him.  Jonah thought he could, but God knew him and found him!  God loves you so much, He will do what it takes to bring His child back to the circle of peace and blessing.”
  • Read Heb. 12:11No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.”
  • This might be a good time for you as a parent to share about times when you disobeyed God and how you felt inside.  Also talk about the circumstances around you, and how God showed you that living outside the circle of blessing only brings stress, anxiety, pain, and danger.
  • Close by reading the verse for the day and Isaiah 48:18:  “If only you had paid attention to my commands, your peace would have been like a river, your righteousness like the waves of the sea.”
  • Pray:  “Lord, please teach us that obeying you leads to life and peace.   We know as believers in Christ we are forgiven, but you desire obedience from us.  It proves that we love you and that we are your followers.  When we sin, please convict us and show us our wayward heart.  Show us that no sin escapes your notice and we can’t hide it from you.  Show us our sinful ways, discipline us, and help us to see how different life is when we live in the circle of blessing each day.”

SOME OPTIONAL VERSES THAT ARE GREAT FOR THIS LESSON:

Mal. 2:6 True instruction was in his mouth and nothing false was found on his lips. He walked with me in peace and uprightness, and turned many from sin. (When we walk in obedience, we can have an amazing affect on other people to help them turn from sin).

Prov. 16:7 When a man’s ways are pleasing to the LORD, he makes even his enemies live at peace with him.  (This might be very encouraging if your child is being bullied or treated unfairly at school).

Is. 57:2 Those who walk uprightly enter into peace; they find rest as they lie in death.  (Walking uprightly doesn’t mean we are perfect.  It means that when we sin and God convicts us, we obey and get back into the circle of blessing.)

Is. 48:22 “There is no peace,” says the LORD, “for the wicked.”  (If you have older kids/teens who are struggling with an unbeliever who is making evil choices, or if they know about some of the wicked leaders in this world, this verse might be a good talking point.)

DAY FIVE:  BLESSED ARE THE PEACEMAKERS

“Be a peacemaker not a peacekeeper”  Beth Moore

Verse for Today:  Col. 3:15 “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.”  Psalm 34:14  “Turn from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.”

  • Ask your children, “What does it mean for the peace of Christ to rule in our hearts?”
  • “What would our home be like if we let Jesus’ peace rule and be in charge?”
  • Have your kids think and write down some thoughts/answers to this question.  Or, just discuss your answers together.
  • Rom. 14:19 says,  “Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification.  How could we do that for each other?
  • Read the following two verses.  Have older kids read them from their Bibles:
    • Matt. 5:9 Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.
    • James 3:18 Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness.
  • Did you know that peacemaking and peacekeeping are very different?
    • Peacemakers: See a problem or sinful behavior and talk with the other person about it in truth and in love.  They try to help the other person see their wayward way with gentleness and respect.
    • Peacekeepers: Don’t warn people of their sin because they don’t want that other person to get mad at them or not like them.
    • Peacemaking parents:  Discipline their kids calmly even if it results in crying or having their kid mad at them, because peacemaking parents know that if their children go without a consequence for their sinful behavior, it will follow them into adulthood, and they will experience much more pain outside the circle of blessing.  A great verse for this is: Prov. 29:17 “Discipline your son, and he will give you peace; he will bring delight to your soul.”
    • Peacekeeping parents:  Avoid true discipline because they don’t want their child to be upset.  They want their child to like them and not be upset with them.  The end result is more pain and strife in the future and a break in the parental/child relationship.
    • Now have your kids give examples of how they could make peace with their siblings.  Let them discover if they are peacemakers or peacekeepers.  Remind them that peacemaking isn’t yelling the truth at one another.  Sure, Martha may have taken your doll, but speaking in anger back to her isn’t peacemaking.  Remember, peacemakers SOW IN PEACE.  They plant seeds of peace.
    • Help your kids realize that they are planting seeds in each others’ hearts.   If they sow seeds of peace, they will harvest righteousness and peace from their brother or sister. (This can apply to friends at school too!)
  • Conclude with prayer, asking God to help you be true peacemakers.  Is. 52:7 How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, “Your God reigns!”

Jude 2 Mercy, peace and love be yours in abundance!

 Is. 55:12 You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands.”

Reflections on the Fruit of the Spirit Unit: What We Have Noticed

_DSC9060_edited-1I wanted to take a moment to share what God has been doing in the life of our family since we began this unit a few weeks ago.  I want to stress again, that the changes we see in our family are largely due to the fact that my husband and I began to earnestly seek the Lord.  When we make knowing Christ our priority and yield to His authority in our lives, God responds.  For my husband, the idols of career and ambition were being laid aside.  For myself, the idol of my children and their success was being put in its rightful place–which meant it was being moved out of the No. 1 slot!   This blog is the fruit of those choices and is totally the work of God–not my own.

Our youngest daughter had begun expressing a desire to give her heart to Christ a couple of months ago.   My husband and I have answered questions, prayed with her, and guided her in every way we knew how.  But I believe what captivated our daughter and motivated her to action was the truth that God loves her so much that He took her punishment in her stead.   His unfailing love, as presented in the characteristics listed in 1 Corinthians 13, will never give up and never run out on her.   He gave His life for her, and she trusts Him as her Savior and Rescuer.   So it was wonderful to pray with our daughter and to see the joy fill her heart when she made the choice to follow Him.   At the moment the prayer was finished, her older sister grabbed her in a bear hug and a sisterhood with an eternal bond began. 

In the following week, we noticed that the concepts and truths we had discussed as a family regarding love were showing up in the life of our youngest daughter.  She was willfully making choices of dying to self, and putting God and others first.  She was kind and compassionate when her older sister needed help.  She was unselfish and giving in situations where she would normally cling tightly to her wants and desires.  There have been several occasions where each family member has stared at her in awe–as she has made choices which are clearly not her normal M. O.   God is at work in her.   I praise Him for confirming that He is in fact indwelling her and she is now a temple of the Holy Spirit.   I have seen His love pouring out through her.

As we began our second week on the Fruit of Joy, we saw some amazing truths come to light in the life of our oldest daughter.   As we were sitting at the dinner table talking about the difference between joy and happiness, she essentially laid out every truth for us.   We didn’t have to teach her that happiness can come and go, but joy is eternal.   For our week on love, we had used a heart as the shape for the week.   She immediately wanted to find a shape that would represent joy, and she came up with a circle…”Because joy has no end–it keeps going and going!”   This happened before we went on the path of eternal joy laid out in DAY ONE.  My husband grinned from ear to ear and teared up to see his daughter proclaiming and understanding Biblical truths.   So, then a little test….last night we all had a rough night of sleep.   It was one of those nights when our oldest just couldn’t get comfortable in her bed and her mind was excited and couldn’t rest.   There were several interruptions, but I think she finally found sleep.   As we dragged into the kitchen this morning to say, “This is the Day the Lord has made, I will rejoice and be glad in it”,  there was no doubt it was said with very little energy and excitement.   Today, we were going to have to choose joy.   I grabbed her hand and looked her in the eyes and said,  “Little sister, we are going to have to fight for joy today!”  She grinned.  “Remember, that the joy of your salvation remains despite how tired and cranky you feel.”   For the rest of the morning, His joy was clearly evident in the lives of our family.

God is at work in this devotional time we are sharing on the Fruit of the Spirit.   I know we will have many times of testing ahead, and days when we don’t choose joy.   There will be days when our youngest does not want to share and our oldest gets upset at the littlest things, but the seeds of Truth are being planted.  The great Seed Sower is watering and shining His Son in the hearts of His children.

All Glory Be To Him!

Parent Tip

Parents, please know that even though there are 5-6 days worth of content, you can adjust the lessons to fit your busy schedule.  If you want to pick 3 lessons instead of all 6, do that!  You can also take 2 days to complete one lesson.  These are just ideas that you can tweak each week!  We also use our supper time together to cover a lot of the information.  Use that as a time for talking about the day’s lesson.  For more parent tips look here.

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FAMILY UNIT: The Fruit of the Spirit Part 2 (Joy)

“I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.”

 3John 4

Welcome to week two!  My prayer is that God blessed your family time in His Word seeking the truth about love last week.

So now we come to the second fruit of the Spirit:  Joy.

One of the big focus points this week will be a quote I heard in a sermon recently:

“Happiness depends upon happenings, joy depends upon Jesus.” 

The crux of this week will be teaching your children the difference between happiness and the abundant joy that Jesus offers us through The Holy Spirit.

  • When things don’t go our way and we quickly resort to whining or complaining, then we aren’t fully grasping the joy available to us from the Holy Spirit.
  • Kids struggle with this.  Adults do too, for that matter!  They want something now and if it isn’t given, they show you.
  • How can we as parents guide our children into finding a deep abiding joy that is not changed by circumstances?   It isn’t an overnight fix, but scripture is clear about how to address this heart condition.
  • I will admit my youngest really struggles with this one.  For several months now, we have been teaching her about how whining and complaining is sinful behavior and that it shows selfishness and a lack of thankfulness in our hearts.  We have been consistent in discipline, but it is really taking time.  This week, however, she made a profession of faith in Christ and decided to follow Him!  She now has an opportunity not just to hear the truth about joy, but experience it!  In fact, after she accepted Christ she could not contain her joy–the joy of her salvation!

PARENT OVERVIEW FOR THIS WEEK:

(Remember you can print these out by going here)

It is going to be really important that you read through each day’s lesson before going through it with your kids.   This week, I tried to include verses that would speak to both younger and older kids.   If you only have younger kids, read through them and discern which are best for their age and understanding.   There are several verses this week that will be great discussion points for your pre-teens and teenagers.  Make sure you prepare all the things needed for the activities before you begin them.   It won’t take much work–I promise!

DAY ONE:   Going on a Joy Hunt

  • Cut out footprints from paper–big enough on which to write words and phrases.  Need a stencil?  Go here
  • Make two 81/2 x 11 signs (see activity for specifics)
  • Map out a way to make two paths in your home (see activity for specifics)

DAY TWO:  Parable of the Hidden Treasure

  • Make a sign with the word “chara” on one side and “charis” on the other side.  You are going to show the similarity between Joy and Grace.
  • Pick out an item that your kids REALLY love/want but belongs to you.  You are going to hide it and they will have to find it.

DAY THREE:  Matching Worksheet for Psalm 119 verses

  • Print out a copy of the Psalm 119 matching worksheet for each child.  You can get the worksheet here.  It is included in the printout sheets for this week’s study.

DAY FOUR:  Letters of Joy

  • Write a letter to each child.   You can divide and conquer–i.e. mom can write to one child and dad to another, etc.  Tell your child why he/she brings you joy, giving praise to God as you write.   Always acknowledge God’s involvement in the joy your child brings.

DAY FIVE:   How Can God Use Me?

  • Have several blank sheets of paper for your kids to either draw or write on and provide pens/crayons/markers.

DAY SIX:     Refiners Fire OR When Life Gives you Lemons

  • You will need several objects from around your house that are gold, silver, or glass.  You must be able to see your reflection in one of the objects.  You can use a small mirror!
  • OR
  • You will need all the fixins’ for lemonade.  See link to recipe just below this sentence.  (You can do this activity on a different day or do both activities on the same day).

FRUIT FOR THE WEEK:  Either bananas or lemons.   We are going to use lemons.   I want to emphasize joy in the midst of our sour experiences in life.  We are going to make lemonade, lemon bars, lemon poppyseed bread, etc.

Lemonade

Photo courtesy Linda Stradley

Shape for the week:  Circle  (joy is eternal and unending.   My oldest actually came up with that!

SEEDS THAT YOU WILL PLANT THIS WEEK:

  • Lasting joy and satisfaction can not come from the things the world gives.   God is our only true, lasting source of joy.
  • When you experience happiness because of a yummy meal or a new car, etc.  you can keep your heart focused on God by acknowledging Him and giving Him thanks.
  • A thankful heart is a joyful heart.
  • While we were sinners, Jesus took our punishment.  We deserve separation from God, but God showed us favor we didn’t deserve because He loves us.  That is the greatest reason for joy.
  • The Bible is THE best written source for help when we need it, for comfort, for understanding God, for changing our lives, for giving us joy.   It is God’s gift to us.
  • We need to build solid friendships with other believers in Christ.  Our brothers and sisters in Christ are very important to us.  Their fellowship, help, encouragement, and shared experience will give even more joy on our journey with Christ.
  • God has a purpose for you.  Obey Him and watch what joy will come when He uses you for His Kingdom purpose.
  • Christians suffer.  The path we travel is not easy.  But, as followers of Christ, we can have joy and hope in the midst of grief and suffering.
  • Jesus suffered more than any of us will ever suffer.   He knows our suffering.  But he endured it for the joy of bringing us from death to life and having us with Him in heaven for eternity.

EVERY MORNING THIS WEEK GREET ONE ANOTHER BY SAYING:

Parent:    “This is the Day the Lord has made”

Child:   “I will rejoice and be glad in it”

 

DAY ONE:  “What is Joy?” “Happiness vs. Joy”

Verse for the dayPsalm 28:7

Songs to Sing:  “Rejoice in the Lord Always”, “This is the Day”

INTRODUCE “JOY”

  • Explain to your kids that the New Testament wasn’t originally written in English, but in a different language called Greek.  (If you have older kids that already know this, ask them if they know the original language).
  • The Greek word most commonly used for “joy” is “chara”  (kahrah–with emphasis on the last syllable).
  • Say “chara” together as a family.
  • Chara translates:  “joy, rejoicing, gladness, enjoyment, bliss”
  • Have your kids create a hand motion or sign language that they think would represent joy.  Do it together as a family and say the word “chara“.
  • Use this motion everyday as you talk about joy.
  • Who is the source of our joy?   Where does joy come from?

SAY THESE TOGETHER AS A CHANT:

GOD IS THE AUTHOR OF JOY

JESUS IS THE SOURCE OF JOY

THE HOLY SPIRIT IS THE GIVER OF JOY

ACTIVITY:  “Going on a Joy Hunt” (Pieces of paper cut into footprint shapes or rectangles in two different colors, two larger 8.5×11 signs, tape, Marker.  Need a stencil for the footprints?  You can find them here.)

You are going to make two pathways in your home.   One set of colored footprints will lead to  a sign that reads “TEMPORARY HAPPINESS“.   This path will lead to a dead end so put the sign on a wall and have your footprint papers lead right up to the wall.

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  • The other set of colored footprints will lead to a different sign that reads “FOREVER JOY“.  This path will make a circle or oval in your home–where there is no end.  Hang the sign on a doorpost that you can walk through.  This will allow your kids to experience what unending and everlasting means!  At first, you will think of them as two different trails.

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  • On the first set of colored papers write down circumstances that make your kids feel happy.  If you want, you can ask your kids the question : “What makes you feel happy?” and write down what they say.   Older kids can write it themselves. These are just ideas, you can write whatever fits your kids’ ages the best:  “Getting a new toy”,  “Eating your favorite foods”, “Buying something with your saved money”, “Going to a friends house”, “Getting a good grade at school”, “Being liked by my friends”, “Watching TV”, “Playing a video game”,  “Buying/getting a new outfit of clothes”.

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  • On the second set of colored papers write down these truths and their corresponding scriptures:  “God loves me” (John 3:16), “God has a purpose for me” (Eph. 2:10), “God knows me personally (Psalm 139)” “Jesus took the punishment I deserve” (Is. 53:6) .   If you have children who have accepted Christ include these:  “God speaks well of me” (Eph 1:3) OR “I am blessed by God” (Eph 1:3), “I belong to a forever family”, “I can spend forever with God in heaven” (2 Peter 1:11), “I have an everlasting inheritance”(1 Peter 1:3-4), “I am forgiven” (1 John 2:12).

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  • Go down the “TEMPORARY HAPPINESS” path first.   Talk about how with each of these, they maybe happy for awhile, but the happiness doesn’t stay.  One thing we have pointed out before is how our girls wanted a certain toy so badly and when they finally got it they were happy, but a few months later they didn’t even play with the toy anymore.  Instead, they wanted something new.   You could also make the point that even if a friend is nice to you one day, they may not treat you well the next day and how happiness is affected by that.
  • Next, go down the “FOREVER JOY” path.   As you come to a paper read the verse that corresponds and expound on it a bit.  For instance, when you come to the paper that reads, “God speaks well of me” you can read the scripture and then talk about how God always speaks blessings over us.  Our friends may say a mean thing about us, but as believers, God never will.
  • ****Finally*****, and this is the cool part, take some of footprints from the TEMPORARY HAPPINESS path and intersperse them with the footprints on the FOREVER JOY path.   They are now a part of the eternal path.

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  • When you step on the footprint, “Getting a new toy” you can teach your child that even though it is temporary, you can still have a forever perspective about it.   Say,  “When you get a new toy, you can thank God for giving it to you.”  Or, when you step on the footprint, “Eating my favorite food”, you can say, “God is the giver of all good things–even the food we eat.  Next time you eat your favorite food, thank God for the food he gives to us.”  Do this with as many of the footprints as you can.
  • I think you will notice that JOY and THANKFULNESS are linked!   It is THANKFULNESS that brings the temporary into the eternal!
  •  So tell your kids, “When you give God thanks and praise for the earthly things, you are tapping into your forever joy!”
  • Take time to answer any questions that might arise from this activity.
  • Finish by singing “Rejoice in the Lord Always”

 

DAY TWO:   “Where does real joy come from?

*****A note to parents:  Today, you will be sharing the Gospel with your kids.  I strongly believe that we can’t truly have joy in our salvation until we understand what Jesus has saved us from.   You may have really little ones that have not yet heard about hell and the final judgement.  I know we didn’t talk about that with our girls when they were 2-3 yrs old.  There is a portion of scripture that will talk about that today.  Read through the whole lesson before you meet with your family.*****

Verse for the day: Psalm 95:1

Songs to sing:  “Ive Got the Joy, Joy, Joy, Joy, Down in My Heart” “There is Joy in the Lord”

  • Ask your kids what they learned about joy yesterday.
  • Emphasize that when we are thankful to God our hearts are ready for joy to take over!
  • Say the chant together again:

GOD IS THE AUTHOR OF JOY

JESUS IS THE SOURCE OF JOY

THE HOLY SPIRIT IS THE GIVER OF JOY

  • Use your sign language created yesterday and review the Greek word “chara“.  You are going to show your kids a really cool thing about this word today!

Question for today:  Why does our Joy come from God?  What has He done for us that gives us joy?

  •  If you have older kids who read ask them to look up these verses and take turns reading them as a family.  Otherwise, you can read them to your kids and then ask the question that follows:
    • Luke 2: 8-11
      • The angels said that Jesus’ coming to earth was a reason for great joy for all the people.  Why is this such good news? (note that the angel calls Jesus the Savior.)
      • What does a Savior do? (one who saves)
    • Revelation 7:10
      • Salvation belongs to _______________.
      • What is salvation?  (to be rescued, to be delivered from)
      • What are we saved from?
        • Matthew 1:21  (This is when the angel appeared to Joseph)
          • What did the angel say that Jesus would save his people from?
        • Revelation 20:11-15 (Emphasize that these events are yet to come and are for non believers)
          • What else are believers saved from?  (“being cast into the lake of fire, the second death, judgement according to our works” (Beth Moore, Living Beyond Yourself)
          • Non-believers are referred to as not having their names in what book?
    • Luke 10:17-20
      • Why were the 72 joyful?
      • Jesus corrected them.  What did he say should be the reason for their joy?
      • What does it mean, “there names were written in heaven?” (Rev. 20:11-15 again!)
    • Romans 5:8 says that while we were sinners Christ died for us.
      • We all deserve the punishment described in Revelation 20:11-15 because “All have sinned and fallen short of God’s glory” (Romans 3:23) and the punishment for sin is death (Romans 6:23).

This is why the angels said Jesus’ coming to earth was a reason for joy!  Without him coming and dying and raising from the dead, we would all be in our sins and destined for death and separation from God forever!

God’s plan for Jesus to die and take the punishment instead of us is how he shows us GRACE!  Grace means that God showed us favor and punished His own Son instead.  When you believe in Jesus’ work on the cross, and believe that He rose again, you are accepting God’s GRACE plan.

  • Ephesians 2:8 “For it is by GRACE you have been SAVED through FAITH, and not of yourselves, it is the GIFT of GOD.”

Lets look at the Greek Language again:

JOY:  “chara”

GRACE: “charis”

Ask your kids:  What is similar about these two words?

“If you only understand what grace means and what you have received by it, you would never cease to rejoice!”

This is where our joy comes from!  God’s act of GRACE gives us the reason for JOY!

ACTIVITY:   Act out the parable  of the Hidden Treasure found in Matthew 13:44

  • Earlier in the day, hide a special family treasure somewhere in your house.  Or you can hide something that your kids have really been wanting that belongs to you but you haven’t let them touch it or have it.  (I’m hiding our ipad).
  • Tell your kids that you have that special item hidden in the house and they must find it.
  • Give your kids clues about where it is hidden.
  • When they find it and bring it to you ask them,  “Would you buy this your allowance in order to keep it?” (Hopefully they would say yes! I know that my kids would like to call the ipad theirs instead of mom’s ipad!)
  • Read Matthew 13:44-46.
  • For those of us who desire to follow Jesus, we have the same joy as the people described in these parables!
  • TALK TO YOUR KIDS ABOUT THE JOY OF YOUR SALVATION–GIVE TESTIMONY!

Finish by reading Isaiah 51:11 and then turn it into a prayer that you pray over your family.

Other verses you can use:

Psalm 90:14 ” O satisfy us in the morning with Your loving kindness, that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days.”

Psalm 92:4 “For you O LORD, have made me glad by what you have done!”

Psalm 126:2-3 “”Then our mouth was filled with laughter and our tongue with joyful shouting…The LORD has done great things for us; We are glad.”

1 Peter 1:8:  Even though we don’t see God, we know Him and have great joy!

DAY THREE:   “Finding Joy in God’s Word”

Verse for the day: Psalm 66:1

Song to sing:  “The B-I-B-L-E”, “Joyful Joyful We Adore Thee”, “All My Fountains are in You

ACTIVITY:  Discovering Joy with God’s Word

  • Make sure each family member has a Bible (including Children Storybook Bibles!)
  • Also give each child who can read the matching  Worksheet  On this worksheet they will match the meaning of each verse with the scripture reference.
  • Say to them:  “Remember how we found the treasure of salvation yesterday?  Well God has given us another very special treasure.  His Word.  Did you know that God uses His Word to bring us joy?
  • Say:  “The longest Psalm in the Bible happens to be the one about God’s Word. Let’s look at some verses from Psalm 119
  • Take turns reading the verse and then filling in the blank on their worksheets:

YOU COULD SUMMARIZE EACH VERSE LIKE THIS:

Psalm 119:14      God’s Word and commands can bring us more joy than riches, money, or things.  Though toys get broken and clothes get worn out, and money comes and goes, you can have joy from God’s commands and words EVERY DAY!

Psalm 119:16      God’s Word can bring us such joy that we want to read it everyday.  We can delight in what the Bible teaches us.

Psalm 119:24      We can look to God’s Word for answers when we have questions.  God uses the Bible to teach us.

Psalm 119:47      We delight in God’s Word because we love His commands and teachings.

Psalm 119:111     God’s Word has truths that can be the joy of our hearts.

Psalm 119:143    When hard and painful times come, the Bible can bring us joy and delight.

FINISH TODAY BY GOING AROUND THE CIRCLE AND HAVE EACH PERSON SHARE THEIR FAVORITE SCRIPTURE VERSE AND WHY IT BRINGS THEM JOY.

Then pray and thank God for his Word: use the verses above  and PRAY THEM TO GOD as a prayer of thanks or petition.  Example:  “God, I thank you for your Word,  please help me to love your Word more than the things I have.  Help me to want to read the Bible as much as I want to play with my toys.”

 

 

DAY FOUR:   “Finding Joy with Brothers and Sisters in Christ”

Verse for the dayPsalm 5:11

BEFORE YOU MEET TODAY, write a joy letter to your each of your children.  Following the example of Philippians chapter 1, write how God has blessed you through them, and what you enjoy about your kids.  Include some of the things you pray for each child–just as Paul does in this chapter.

START THE LESSON BY READING THE JOY LETTERS YOU WROTE TO YOUR KIDS.

SAY THE FOLLOWING TO YOUR KIDS:

“Does anyone know who Paul is?   Can anyone remember His story?  Paul traveled to many different cities to start churches.  He met many people who became Christians because of his teaching.  Did you know that he wrote several letters to different churches after he visited them?  In many of these letters, Paul talks about how the Christians he met bring him joy.  We learn from Paul that God can use our brothers and sisters in Christ to bring us joy.”

Have a child read Philippians 1: 1-8.   Read the passage a second time with a different child or parent.

Ask your kids:  What clues do we see that show us Paul loved the Christians in Philippi?

  • Paul always prayed with JOY for the Philippian church…
  • They have a SHARED experience.   Did you know that all Christians share and experience many of the same things?  You are not alone.
  • Paul knew that God would finish the work He began in their hearts when they became Christians.  Christians can GROW together.
  • Paul really missed his Christian friends while he was in prison.  He longed to see them and have fellowship with them.

So it is clear from these verses that OTHER CHRISTIANS CAN BRING US JOY:

  • Because we SHARE in many things just like your family shares in many things.
    • Talk about the things you have in common with each other as a biological family.  Then give examples of what you share with brothers and sisters in Christ (the Holy Spirit, God’s power, God’s Word, etc., suffering for the gospel)
  • Because we can LEARN and GROW from each other as we follow Christ.
    • Talk about how older siblings can teach the younger and vice versa.  Mention how your kids learn from you and you from them.  Give examples of how you have learned from other Christians.  Have your teens or older kids share too.
  • Because we can PRAY for each other and share when God answers prayer.
    • Share times that you have prayed for one another as a family and seen God at work.
  • Because we have FRIENDSHIP and FELLOWSHIP.
    • Christians can have fun together just like families do!  Fellowship is an important part of our walk with Christ.  We are supposed to enjoy one another.   (If you have school aged children and teenagers, this might be a good opportunity to stress why having Christian friends is SO important.  Though we may have some non-believing friends, we need friends that have a shared experience in Christ.)

IF YOUR CHILDREN ENJOY WRITING, have them write a short letter to a family member or Christian friend expressing the joy they find in their friendship/fellowship.

 

DAY FIVE:    “Finding Joy in Your God-Given Purpose and Passions”

Verse for the day: Psalm 33:3

ASK YOUR KIDS:

  • Did you know that God created you for a reason? 
  • Did you know that you have a special assignment for His Kingdom? 
  • He created you to find joy in Him but He also created you to give Him glory by fulfilling His call on your life.
  • You don’t have to wait until you are a grown up to find God’s purpose for you!  He can do great things through a person of any age!

HAVE EACH OF YOUR KIDS talk about what they really like to do–what they are passionate about and remind them that God can use their talents and their skills for His Kingdom purposes.   Give an example from your own life if you have one.

You can experience godly joy when you are obeying God and using the gifts He has given you for His purposes.

(If you have older kids and teenagers, take some time to talk about this with them.   At this point they may have certain career aspirations.  Remind them that a job without a calling will leave them empty.  Talk to them about the importance of looking for ways to reach others in their job/career path for Christ.  Tell them about your own journey.  Never pass up an opportunity to share your testimony.)

The Bible is full of scriptures that talk about the joy a person has when they obey God.   Read these and talk about how God can bring joy through work and obedience.

  • Deuteronomy 16:15
  • Psalm 33:3  “Sing to him a new song, PLAY SKILLFULLY, and shout for joy”
  • Eccl. 8:15 (For older kids/teens)
  • Heb.  13:17  (This can be for obeying teachers too!)

ACTIVITY:  How Can God Use Me?

  • Have your younger kids draw a picture of what they would like to do when they grow up.   Older kids/teens can help the others or write about their career aspirations.
  • Then, go around the group and have each child talk about how God could use them to point people to Jesus in that job. (You are going to get better answers than you think–even from a 5 yr old!  This is a great way to plant the seed in your child’s heart that their job is not to make money or make them well known.)
  • Read Proverbs 15:23 and 15:30 What do these verses show us that we can do each day to bring joy to others?

CHALLENGE one another to find ways to be joy to others at school, at home, and in the workplace.  Tell your kids to look for ways to help bring joy into another person’s life.  Maybe as a family you could all share stories later this week.

CLOSE IN PRAYER

 

DAY SIX:    “What About Pain and Suffering?  Is Joy Possible?”

Verse for the dayPsalm 30:11

 ASK YOUR KIDS: 

  • “Do Christians suffer and go through hard times? 
  • “Can we cry but still have a joy too?”
  • “Does having joy in the middle of pain mean that we don’t cry?”
  • Remember what we talked about a few days ago…where does our joy come from?  What is the reason for our joy?”
  • Do hard times erase that reason for joy?  Does God’s grace come and go or is He with us through the tough times?”

THE BIBLE TALKS A WHOLE LOT ABOUT JOY WHILE SUFFERING:  Divide up these verses, read them, and discuss them.

Psalm 94:19  “When anxiety was great within me, Your comfort brought joy to my soul.”

Psalm 126:5  “Those who sow/plant in tears will reap with songs of joy. ”  (You may plant tears for seeds, but you will harvest joy)

John 16:20-22  Jesus said, ” I tell you the truth, you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices. You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy. A woman giving birth to a child has pain because her time has come; but when her baby is born she forgets the anguish because of her joy that a child is born into the world.  So with you: Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy.” (I’m sure there are plenty of mom’s out there who could relate the truth of this verse!)

2 Corinthians 8:2  “And now, brothers, we want you to know about the grace that God has given the Macedonian churches. Out of the most severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity.”   (Can we have joy no matter how much or little we have?  Yes!)

1 Peter 4:13 “But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.”

ACTIVITY OPTION 1:  Refiners Fire

  • Gather objects of gold, silver, and glass (or have your kids each find an object of these materials).  Make sure that you can see your reflection in at least one of  the items.
  • Talk with them about the refining process:
    • The metal is stuck into the very hot fire
    • The dross/impurities are burned off
    • The refiner takes the metal out of the fire for awhile and checks the metal for more impurities
    • The refiner sticks the metal back in to burn off more dross
    • This process repeats until the metal or glass is pure.
    • When the refiner takes it out the last time, he knows it is ready when he can see his reflection in it.
    • Pass around an object where each family member can see their reflection.
  • Our suffering on this earth is much like the refining process
    • James 1:2-4
      • “What develops when we have trials and suffering?” (perseverance)
      • When we learn to persevere what happens?”  (we become mature and complete, not lacking anything)
    • Romans 5:3-5
      • What does suffering produce in us?”
  • Take the object that shows a reflection and pass it around again.
  • SAY THIS WHILE IT IS BEING PASSED:  GOD IS THE REFINER, AND WHEN WE GO THROUGH SUFFERING HE IS MAKING US MORE LIKE HIM–SO HE CAN SEE HIS REFLECTION IN US.  HE PROMISES THAT HE WILL WORK ALL THINGS TOGETHER FOR GOOD.

ACTIVITY OPTION 2:  When Life Gives You Lemons…

  • As a family, make a pitcher of homemade lemonade.  Here is a good recipe if you need one.
  • Before you start, have your kids taste a raw lemon.  Yep.  Don’t skip this step!
    • Talk about how many times in life, we go through sour times.
  • Now make the lemonade.   When you add the sugar say:  “Think of the sugar like the joy of the LORD”
  • When the recipe is made drink it together.
  • Say:  “The sourness of the lemon is still there–just like our hard times stick around and may go on for a long time, but if you let Him, the Holy Spirit will fill you with His sweet joy.  You have a choice, to remain bitter or add the sugar.”

Close with Hebrews 12:2.  Remember that Jesus has suffered much more than we ever will, and He endured the horrible pain and suffering of the cross because He knew there was joy on the other side!  Remind your children about the joy that is ahead for believers in heaven.

As you close your family time, pray this scripture over each of your children by name. If you have older children or teens, have them pray the scripture over you as parents.:

(Say child’s name), may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”  Rom. 15:13.  

“Lord, please remind us that the problems and pain we go through now is light and momentary.  They won’t last forever, or for even an hour in some cases.  Please help us to remember that the joy we will experience with you in heaven is far greater than the pain we go through now here on earth. And Lord, your Word says that ‘the joy of the Lord is our strength.’  Please fill us with your joy and give us the strength we need to face our difficult days.”


Other Ideas:

  • Watch the Veggie Tales Episode “Madame Blueberry”.  This cartoon has a great way of teaching kids that they can be joyful without all the “stuff” they think they want.
  • Find a Video on You Tube about the refining process for silver, gold, or glass.  This will give your kids a visual to relate to day six’s topic.  I found this one that gives a little spiritual insight:  Man teaches seminary students about refining

 

I know this week was a little more work than last week—hang in there!  You are planting seeds that will produce fruit that lasts!  See you next time for the fruit of PEACE.

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This picture brings me joy! Sow those seeds grandparents! Photo: Zoe Photography, Kristin Hightower, owner

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FAMILY UNIT: The Fruit of the Spirit Part One (LOVE)

 This summer, I felt God leading me time and time again to the Fruit of the Spirit, found in Galatians 5.  It had been several years since I had completed Beth Moore’s study Living Beyond Yourself so I decided to pull it out and go through it again.   Needless to say, I needed that study.

Exhibiting love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control is a tall order and we cannot do it in our own strength.

 

So, last week, our family began a 9 week study of the Fruit of the Spirit.   No, it isn’t as in-depth and overwhelming as it sounds.   It is actually very simple, and only takes about 15-20 minutes a day (30 if the kids start asking questions).   Each week, we find different ways to learn about a specific fruit.   The first fruit we covered, of course, was love.

Here are some simple ideas to use with your own family:

DAY ONE:   “THE FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT”

VERSE OF THE DAY:  Galatians 5:22-23 (say this aloud several times as a family)

INTRODUCE THE PASSAGE (30 minutes)

  •  Begin with prayer and then ask questions like, “Who is the Holy Spirit?”, “What do you think it means by Fruit of the Spirit?”  You can talk about the fact that when you make the decision to follow Christ, the Holy Spirit comes to live inside you.    At the time we started this, we had one child who was a believer and the other was getting close to making a decision.  It was neat for our younger child to learn that God would live inside her if/when she made that choice.  It was also great for our older child to talk about how the Holy Spirit has helped her to produce this fruit.
  • Next, read Galatians 5:16-23.  If you have a child that is reading, ask him/her to read that passage.   If you have younger children and you don’t want them to know about “sexual immorality or sensuality” in verse 19 then you can read the other fruit of the flesh.   We have a Kindergartener, so I didn’t read those words aloud.  There was plenty to talk about with “jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, envy” etc.
  • Talk about fruit trees and how you can tell what kind of fruit tree it is by the fruit that are on it.
  • Have your kids get a sheet of paper and draw what they think the two kinds of trees would look like.   This gives them a great visual to compare and contrast.  OR you could draw the tree portion and they could put the fruit on it. (The fruit of the flesh will probably be brown or black).
  • Pick out a few of the fruit listed for each type of tree–talk about them or describe what they mean.  Ask your kids questions,  “What is idolatry?”   “Why do you think jealousy is a sinful fruit?”   Let your kids ask questions too.
  • Ask your children what kind of tree they would want to be.  (They’ll point to the pretty tree they drew with the colorful fruit).
  • Pray with your kids, asking God to teach all of you as a family about the Fruit of the Spirit.
  • Another idea: We are using a different fruit for each week we study.  For love: strawberries, for joy: bananas, etc.   I am making different dishes this week that include strawberries.  When you are eating the desserts/snacks that you make with the fruit, talk about the fruit of the Spirit that corresponds. At the end of the study you could make a fruit salad with all 9 fruits to celebrate the end of the unit. 
Strawberry Shortcake with Creme Cheese frosting.  Recipe courtesy Pioneer Woman

DAY TWO:    “WHAT IS LOVE?”

VERSE FOR THE DAYPsalm 18:1  (Recite this together as a family first thing in the morning and again throughout the day.   Post it somewhere in your kitchen or bathroom mirrors)

ACTIVITY:   Poster board, sheets of paper cut into rectangles, permanent marker, tape

  •  Before you meet together, grab a large sheet of poster board and write LOVE at the top.  Then underneath the title, make two columns:  IS    and    IS NOT.   Cut out rectangular sheets of paper and label them with all the descriptions listed in 1 Corinthians 13: 4-7.  For instance, on one rectangle you would write “patient” on another you would write “kind”, and another “boastful”, etc.  Put a little masking tape on the back.  As you can see, mine was not fancy at all, but the kids LOVED this activity.
  • Read 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 as a family.
  • Have your kids take turns reading a rectangle and putting it in the appropriate column.  If a child selects “easily angered” he/she would put it under the IS NOT column, and so forth.  Do this until all the rectangles are on the board.
  • Talk about each characteristic and be real and open about the aspects with which each family member struggles.
  • Close in prayer, with each family member thanking God for His love, and confessing the aspect of Love that is most difficult for him/her.  “God please help me to show your love by being more patient with my sister.”

DAY THREE:   “THE LOVE OF GOD”

VERSE FOR THE DAYPsalm 40:16

Songs to sing together“One thing remains”,O Love that Wilt Not Let Me Go

ACTIVITY:  Sheets of paper cut into hearts, permanent marker.

  • Before you meet as a family cut out hearts from any kind of paper and label each with a verse:  John 3:16, John 13:34, Romans 5:8, Romans 8:35-39, 1 John 3:1 
  • Hide the hearts around the house.
  • When you gather, have your kids go on a scavenger hunt to find the hearts.
  • They will LOVE this step.  If you have teens, let them hide the hearts.
  • When they come back, have your older children read the verse listed from their own Bible.  For younger children, you can read the verse on their heart.
  • Ask the questions:
    • Where does love come from?
    • Who does love begin with?
    • Do these verses talk about feelings or actions? (A huge point that will be made this week is that love is more than words or feelings—true love requires action!)
    • What are God’s actions that show us he loves us?
    • Talk about the Gospel–that we don’t earn His love and that he loves us even while we are sinners. (Romans 5:8)
    • Talk about other ways God shows His love: providing yummy fruits and vegetables for us, sunshine and rain, providing for all our needs.
    • Emphasize to your kids that God’s love NEVER fails.   No matter how many times we mess up, He is waiting there for us to turn back to Him.  He will never leave or forsake us.  His love is unconditional.

 DAY FOUR:  “OUR LOVE FOR GOD”

VERSE OF THE DAY:   Psalm 63:3

Songs to sing together:  “Love the Lord your God” by Lincoln Brewster, “Father I Adore You, Lay My Life Before You”

  • Just like yesterday, cut out hearts (I made them a little smaller so that the kids could see that God’s love for us is much bigger than we could ever love Him).
  • Use the following verses:  Deuteronomy 6:5, John 14:15 & 14:21-23, 1 Peter 1:8, John 15:9
  • Have the kids go through the scavenger hunt again to find the hearts.
  • Read the verses from the Bible.
  • Ask the questions:
    • What do these verses say about how we show God we love Him?
    • Why do we love God?  (this will bring in what you covered yesterday).
    • What are some ways we can show God we love Him each day?
      •  Give Him praise and thanks
      • Spend time with Him
      • Obey His Word
      • Obey your parents
      • Talk about Him throughout your day and acknowledge Him

DAY FIVE:   “OUR LOVE FOR OTHERS:  FAMILY & FRIENDS”

VERSE OF THE DAY: Psalm 116:1

Songs to sing together:  “Beloved, Let Us Love One Another” (1 John 4:7 & 8)

  •  If your kids are up for the scavenger hunt again, then repeat the same steps using these verses:  1 John 3:16, John 15:12 & 17, 1 Peter 4:8, 1 John 4:7-8, Matthew 19:19
  • If not, then simply sit down as a family, read and discuss the verses
  • Today, your family will spend time talking about how each member can show love to each other.  I’m substituting the name “Martha”
    • Martha, how does your brother show you love?
    • How do Mommy and Daddy show you love?
    • How can you show love to ____________?  (family member)
    • Martha, in what ways would you like for Daddy to show you he loves you?
      • Spending time with you
      • Lots of hugs and kisses
      • Speaking Encouraging words over you
      • Helping
    • Just as an aside, if you have never read The Five Love Languages of Children by Gary Chapman, read it.  It is a wonderful source for discovering what speaks love to your child.
    • Have your kids make a list of these answers to hang in their room.  It is a great reminder to them of how they can love other family members.
    • A pdf with sample pages to print can be found here.

 DAY SIX:  “LOVING OUR ENEMIES”

VERSE OF THE DAY: Psalm 119: 47, 127, 165

  •  Begin today with prayer.
  • Give each family member a sheet of paper and ask them to write down a list of names of people that they either don’t like or with which they have trouble getting along.  Younger children who can’t write yet can talk about the friends in preschool who get on their nerves, etc.
  • Have each family member share why they have difficultly with the names they listed.  You may have older kids/teens who don’t want to talk about it.  That’s okay.  Just tell them to write the name down–they won’t have to tell the rest of the family who it is.  But, hopefully every family member will feel comfortable sharing.   If moms and dads share openly, the kids usually follow suit.
  • Let’s see what God’s Word says about loving our enemies:
    • Proverbs 10:12 & 15:17
    • Matthew 5:43-46
    • Luke 6:27-36
    • Ephesians 4:32
    • Read the parable of the two debtors Luke 7:40-43
      • As children of God and followers of Christ who have been forgiven much, how should we then treat our enemies?
      • Give some examples from your own life about how God empowered you to love your enemies.  Personal testimony goes a long way.
      • Talk about how hard it is to show love to our enemies–be real with your kids.
      • Have your kids write down a plan for what they can do to love their enemies.
      • This may open up the topic of bullying in school.  Be ready for that conversation and decide as parents how you feel God leading you to guide your child if he/she is bullied.

DAY SEVEN:   REVIEW

  • As you spend time together at dinner, or at a designated family time, ask your kids:
    • What did you learn about love this week?
    • How did God challenge you?
    • What do you want to do differently?
    • What was your favorite scripture about love?
    • What was your favorite song?

 OTHER IDEAS AND RESOURCES:

  •  I am working on sample PDF files that you can download, print, and use in your own home.  Right now they are rather simple and were quickly put together.  I will probably come back and update them soon. See the Activity Printout page.
  • Teenagers and older kids may appreciate Francis Chan’s Crazy Love.  You can read portions of this wonderful book to them.   The first few chapters really give a picture of just how much God loves us.  There are also short video and audio teachings of Chan on his website.  These are awesome and your kids will respond to what he has to say.
  • Older kids may also enjoy a more in-depth look at the different kinds of love described in scripture:  eros, phileo, and agape.   Talk about the differences between these three kinds of love and which reflects God.
  • Beth Moore’s study Living Beyond Yourself is another wonderful resource you can use to teach the Fruit of the Spirit.

I hope that this simple, easy way to teach your children about God’s love will help give you ideas!  If you have your own ideas, PLEASE share them in the comment portion of this blog!

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Introduction

Nope, this blog is not about gardening or farming, although I will say I have developed a fondness for gardening and a reverence for those who farm the land.   It takes a great deal of hard work and discipline but the rewards that are reaped are so satisfying.  I suppose the same can be said for sowing seed in the garden of our children’s heart.

This blog is actually about parenting, mentoring, counseling, and guiding children toward a deeper relationship with Christ.   If there is one thing I have learned as a parent, it has been the hard lesson that the words and actions I exhibit to my children now will have an impact on their future.   We cannot parent just for the here and now—we have to look ahead and parent in a way that prepares our kids for what lies ahead.

It began with a simple question, “What kinds of seed am I planting in the hearts of my children?  What kind of fruit is being produced from the seed I have sewn in them.”

I am without a doubt the kind of parent who has read every parenting book with a Christian perspective.  You name it, I’ve probably read it.  From day conception I had resources for how to nurture and care for my children during pregnancy.  When the babies were born, I pulled out my copy of “Baby Wise” and put into action its methods.  When they grew older and began to show the tendency to disobey, to throw fits, and to deceive, I pulled out my Dobson books.   In their two’s and three’s it was “Shepherding a Child’s Heart”,  “Parenting with Love and Logic”, “Boundaries with Kids,” etc.

There is no doubt that these books provided great insight and philosophies of parenting that really work and honor God.   But even when I dotted every ‘i’ and crossed every ‘t’, something was missing.   I could expound here with a lot of specifics, but the bottom line was, I wasn’t allowing God to transform my heart, and I was worrying too much about my children’s hearts.   I had made my children an idol—all in the name of Christianity!   When they were happy, I was happy.   When they were whining, arguing, or disobeying, I was discouraged and upset.  I took every sinful act personally.   I realized that I was not living proof of the things I was teaching them.  I would become easily angered while telling them not to get angry.   Anybody relate?

When God showed me my wayward thinking, I began to think about the fact that if I am consistently seeking Him, praising Him, holding on to Him during times of suffering, living out my relationship with Him before my children…then His power will be made manifest in my life and the lives of my children.

My hope for this blog is to give parents simple, easy ways to walk with the Lord and to guide their children on a God-oriented path.  `

If there is one other thing I have learned, it would be that parenting children to follow Christ RATHER than subscribe to the rules of religion or denomination takes determination, resolve, and surrender.  Daily.  Not everyday will be perfect—we aren’t going for perfect–just surrendered.   If your kids see your surrendered life, it will rub off on them.

The focus of the blog:

AS AN INDIVIDUAL AND AS A FAMILY, LIVING A LIFESTYLE THAT BRINGS GOD GLORY

  • Touch points just for the parents and grandparents–to draw you into God’s presence before you teach your kids
  • Daily/Weekly ideas that you can incorporate into your busy schedule that will help point your family to Christ.

FOCUS ON RELATIONSHIPS

  • Our relationship with God, and our relationship with family members and relationships with those outside the family unit.
  • Activities to build understanding about God and bring family members closer together.

THE WORD

  • Ideas for giving specific scriptures to teach your children in fun and engaging ways.  Scripture memory is so important.  We have to learn how to wield the Sword of the Spirit with skill!
  • To provide links and other resources that are already available online or on the printed page.

My hope is to keep it simple.

The first installment:   A Family Unit on The Fruit of the Spirit.

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