Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence,
work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.
Do all things without complaining and disputing, that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world,
holding fast the word of life, so that I may rejoice in the day of Christ that I have not run in vain or labored in vain.
As I was running recently I was questioning if all the efforts to get up and out early to get a run in was really making a difference. Then I heard the above scripture as I was listening to Philippians on my iphone. My thoughts immediately went from physical to spiritual and from efforts for my physical health to my efforts for my children’s spiritual health through the years.
Paul’s source of joy and desire for his beloved Philippians should be every mother’s joy and desire for her children:
That they would obey not only in her presence but much more in her absence
That they would take charge of their own spiritual lives, allowing God to work in them His good pleasure
That they would shine as lights in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation
That they would hold fast the Word of Life until the day of Christ so that she can rejoice that she has not run in vain or labored in vain.
This reminded of the time my sister and I decided to surprise Mom and Dad with new living room furniture as theirs was completely ruined from the pets they so lovingly allowed me to have all through my childhood . When Dad sat down on the new furniture he said with tears in his eyes, ‘We must have done something right to have children to treat us so kindly.’ I was thankful that we gave my Dad and Mom cause to feel they had not run or labored in vain.
Now on this Mother’s Day I want to say to my four beloved children, “Thank you for holding forth the Word of Life and giving your Dad and me reason to rejoice that we have not run in vain. We see yall taking charge of your own spiritual lives and shining as lights in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation. Yall have made me a happy mother!!!!”
I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth. 3 John 1:4
Read the book of Job and tell it dramatically in your own words or read it to your children from a Children’s Bible. My First Study Bible tells and illustrates the story excellently.
Here’s a suggested telling of the story. ”Job loved God and had been very blessed by Him with many animals, nice houses, 7 sons, and 3 daughters. He was very happy. But one day thieves stole all of his animals. Then a great wind destroyed the house that all of his children were dining in and they were all killed. Then Job became sick with sores all over his body. He was sad that God had allowed all these bad things to happen to him but he never stopped trusting God!!
His friends came to sit with him and told him that all these things had happened because he was a bad person. Job knew that wasn’t the truth. He cried out to God for answers. God came to Job in a whirlwind and reminded Job how big He is and all the things He can do. Job believed that God is greater than man (Job 33:12) God told him his friends were wrong and then God told Job to pray for his friends.
The Bible says that after Job prayed for his friends God began to restore all that had been taken away. He gave Job TWICE as much as he had before – (Job 42:10 When Job prayed for his friends, the Lord restored his fortunes.) Job was happy again. Job knew and loved God even more now.
Use a circle cut from cardstock and covered in clear contact paper as Job’s face. Glue on wiggly eyes. Use play dough to show the different feelings Job had (glad, sad, and glad again) Show the sores on his face and then show his face after God healed him.
Lunch can be a sandwich made to look like sad Job.
Mark two jars, one with ‘God Can’ and the other marked ‘I Can’. Write on legos somethings that only God can do (ex. – make a fish, cause the sun to shine), and somethings that we can do (ex. – catch a fish, turn on a flashlight). Drop the legos in the appropriate jars.
Sing “My God is So Big”
Lead children to pray for their friends like Job did. Especially tell them about and pray for a friend your family might know who quit trusting God when something bad happened.
(Click here for another lesson on How Big God is.)
. . . And look at all those children! There they sit around your table as vigorous and healthy as young olive trees. Psalm 128:3
I love it when research actually validates what God has said! This verse indicates that children are healthy when they sit around your table and now a recent research reveals that children and adolescents who share family meals 3 or more times per week are more likely to be in a normal weight range and have healthier dietary and eating patterns than those who share fewer than 3 family meals together. And this article points out the multiple advantages to family meals together.
Simplify your life – cut out an extracurricular activity if you have to – but make meals together a family tradition that your children will remember long after they have left home. Meal time is important, not just for the physical nourishment your children need, but also for the mental, emotional, and spiritual nurturing they need.
Here are some suggestions to help you meet those needs around your table:
Conversation starters during the meal:
What did you enjoy doing today?
What did you enjoy learning?
Who did you enjoy being with today?
Did you do something kind today?
What was your high today?
What was your low?
After the meal:
Do a short devotional, read a Bible story, or spend time memorizing a verse together.
Our family’s favorite thing was Playdough Devotionals. Each person would make something out of their playdough and the rest of the family would guess what part of the story they were illustrating.
Have prayer time, but before you do, ask:
What happened today you are thankful for?
Who did you talk to, or see, or hear about that we should pray for?
What happened or is going to happen that we need to pray about for you?
Try to relax and enjoy time together eating a nourishing meal, talking with your children, and growing closer to God as a family. Then you can truly say, ‘Look at my healthy children around the table.’
(Oh – and don’t forget to talk about 1 Cor. 3:9 ‘We work together as partners who belong to God’ as everyone helps to clean up the kitchen when it’s all over so Mom can enjoy the time without thinking about what needs to be done afterwards.)
Go to each of these sites to read an account of what Jesus was doing each day before that first Easter morning. Use the activity ideas for each day to make your children aware of the Greatest Story ever told!!
The flowers are springing up, and the time of singing birds has come, even the cooing of turtledoves. Song 2:12
In Matthew 6:25-34, Jesus must have been enjoying spring time as He taught His friends about how much God loves them. He noticed the birds flying around and said, ”Look at the birds! They aren’t worried about having enough to eat because God feeds them. In the same way, you shouldn’t worry about what you will eat. God will feed you too!” Then Jesus picked up some flowers that were blooming and said, “These flowers don’t have to worry about what they will wear because God has beautifully clothed them. You don’t need to worry about clothes either for God will make sure you have something to wear.”
I hope your main activity with your children during this season can be outside enjoying nature together. Share with them that the Bible says in Psalm 145:10that all God’s works shall praise Him.
As yall observe the beauty of God’s creation, join with the flowers, trees, and birds in praising God. Here’s some songs to sing as you do.
This one is an old recording, but you can get the idea, or better yet, you can make up your own:
Isaiah 55:12 says the mountains and hills will burst into song, and the trees of the field will clap their hands! So even if we don’t praise the Lord, creation still will. Here’s a song about this that was recorded for me and my children by a friend, Patti Bennett:
Did you or your children ever wonder why we celebrate St. Patrick’s Day? I’m not sure what lies behind some of the traditions associated with the day, but the man that the holiday is named for has a story children need to hear.
Did you know Patrick isn’t Irish? About 385 years after Jesus lived, Patrick was born into a wealthy English family. When he was 16 years old, he was kidnapped by Irish pirates and taken to Ireland as a slave where he worked as a shepherd. During this time he was lonely and afraid; this caused him to turn to God with his whole heart and he began to experience the love of Jesus.. After about 6 years as a slave, Patrick escaped and returned to his home country where he began studying to be a priest.
However, he did not forget Ireland; he had a desire to go back one day and tell them about Jesus. He did eventually return there as a missionary. Isn’t that amazing that he would want to go back to the place where he had been enslaved and tell them of God’s love? What an act of forgiveness! Eventually Patrick was called a saint by the Catholic Church because of his love and kindness to the people of Ireland.
So because Jesus loved Patrick, Patrick was able to love and forgive the people of Ireland and then he spent his life telling them about Jesus. Patrick died on March 17, 461 and now we celebrate St. Patrick’s Day each March 17.
Please make your children aware in the midst of the stories of leprechans and the various ways of observing the holiday, that the reason for the activities this week is because Jesus loved and cared for Patrick and then Patrick loved and care for the people who had wronged him. It would be a good time to share these verses:
Ephes. 4:32 And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ forgave you. John 15:12 This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.
It is believed that Patrick brought the shamrock plant to Ireland and used the three-leafed plant to illustrate the message of the Trinity. This would be a good time to teach about the Trinity. Click here for help in sharing the concept with your children. A good children’s book to illustrate the Trinity is 3 in 1: A Picture of God.
Go outside and look for clover and talk about the Trinity; be like St. Patrick teaching the Irish.
Even the sparrow has found a home, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may have her young– a place near your altar, O Lord Almighty, my King and my God, Psalm 84:3
He will keep in perfect peace all those who trust in him, whose thoughts turn often to the Lord! Isaiah 26:3
In the last post we talked about how God values birds and used them as teaching aides and object lessons, so let’s do the same. Let’s use birds to teach our children about trusting God. Tell a different Bible Story each day and do the corresponding Activity. Put one of the above verses on the fridge and spend the week memorizing it.
1.Matthew 6:26, Job 12:7God wants us to look at the birds and learn from them. There are many Bible verses that talk about birds which shows how much God values even the little birds. We can value the birds too by giving them food in the winter when it is hard for them to find food and leaving fresh water for them if there hasn’t been rain in a while. We can also value the birds by hearing what God says about them in the Bible.
2. Psalm 84 David was sitting in the Tabernacle of God (church) and singing to God about how much he loved to be near Him. He must have been watching the birds there and it caused him to think about how even the birds felt safe to build their nests there in the church. They knew the best place to live is near to God. The sparrows and swallows are known for being restless birds who loved to freely flutter and dart about, but they felt it was safe to rest near to God. God will keep us safe too when we stay near to Him.
3.Matthew 6:25-33 Jesus was teaching His friends about how much God loves them when He noticed the birds flying around. He said, ”Look at the birds! They aren’t worried about having enough to eat because God feeds them. In the same way, you shouldn’t worry about what you will eat. God will feed you too!” Just stay close to God and He will make sure you have all you need.
4.Job 28:21, Proverbs 1:17, Job 35:11,Psalm 145:10 God liked to use the birds as an example. The birds have the ability to see more than we can because they can fly high above and see a lot of things at one time. The birds are very watchful and not easily trapped. God said it is foolish to lay a net in front of the bird; he won’t go into it. God made birds wise, but He made man even wiser. God made birds to sing His praises and He made us to do so too!
5.Matthew 23:37 One day Jesus was feeling sad about all the evil in the world. People had turned away from God and were doing the opposite of what He wanted them to do. He loved them and wanted to protect them but they refused. He compared his love for them to that of a bird. He said, “Oh how I wish I could gather you like a hen gathers her chicks under her wings so I could love and protect you but you wouldn’t let me.” Let’s stay near Jesus and let Him love and protect us.
1. Make a bird feeder out of a pinecone: Spread it with peanut butter and cover it in birdseed. Hang it in a place outside that you can see from a window. Then sit down and watch the birds with your children. While watching, point out that the birds mentioned in Ps 84:3 made their homes near God and that is what we should do. The birds knew that near God is where they would be the safest. The same is true for us.
2. Color - Look at the picture at the top – how peaceful the little bird is even though there is a thunderstorm going on around it. Click here to download the above picture to color. Talk about the fact that the bird trusts God to keep him peaceful in the midst of the storm. We can trust God when things go wrong in our lives.
3. Eat like a bird: When people say, ‘You eat like a bird,’ they often mean you hardly eat anything at all. But although birds do eat tiny mouthfuls of food, they do so hundreds of times each day. So try a bird’s eating habits. Take a day to eat like a bird -break up your meal into about two dozen tiny meals and eat your food gradually, one tiny bite at a time – (suggestion from TLC Bird Watching Activities) Talk about Matthew 6:26 - that the birds don’t worry about where they get their food because God feeds them.
4. Make a bird out of paper Click herefor a pattern of the above. Cut out and make a slit to slide the wings through. Tape to a craft stick and singLittle Bird as you move it up and down to ‘fly it’. Fly the bird high and talk about all the bird can see from way up high in the sky. Pretend the bird is singing and praising God.
5. Make a picture of a bird and her babies in a nest. Click here to download and print onto card stock . As you cut, color and fold this, talk about how Jesus pointed out in Matthew 23:37 that the mother bird loves and protects her babies by taking them under her wings and that is what He wants to do for us.
And now enjoy this song about feeding birds from one of my favorite Disney movies – “Mary Poppins”. Interesting that the birds were at a cathedral just as the birds in Psalm 84 were at the Tabernacle.
Even the sparrow has found a home, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may have her young–
a place near your altar, O Lord Almighty, my King and my God, Psalm 84:3
Interesting that in this verse God uses sparrows and swallows which are considered the most restless of birds. He referred to them as ‘fluttering’ and ‘darting’ in Proverbs 26:2.
Yet these most restless birds find a place of rest for themselves and their young near the altar of God. We should follow their example with our young, giving them to God. We need to stay close to Him, allowing God to work through us to train them in the way they should go; so they will be like these birds that were free to go anywhere, but chose to stay near the altar.
David must have been watching the birds in the sanctuary of God and it stirred up in him the desire to dwell that near to God and find rest for himself and his children. Jesus must have been watching the birds when He used them as teaching aides in Matthew 6:26 and Matthew 23:37
God obviously values birds as there are numerous references to them in Scripture:
My nephew and his wife work to rescue birds with The International Bird Rescue Center in San Pedro, CA. So I asked them for some info on birds. They pointed me to a documentary called “Life of Birds” Watch and study more about these creatures that God values. You might learn something about parenting.
But the most important thing we can learn from the birds is that as we seek to parent in the midst of the storms of our busy lives, we should stop the ‘fluttering’ and ‘darting’ and lay our children at the altar of God – keeping ourselves and them near to Him, and finding peace and protection there. ‘The sparrows and swallows could not have chosen a better place to find rest, or a safer place to have their young and raise their family. The dwelling place of God should be a place of safety where we can raise our children.’ ( Matthew McDonald )
Now for something fun. One thing I learned in this study is that parents may feed the newborns every 10 minutes – whew – we think every 2 to 3 hours is tough! Here’s a video of footage my son Jeremiah captured a few years ago observing a robin feeding her young. Watch till the end and see what devoted parents they are.
If you see an ingrained pattern in your children’s behavior, here’s an exercise that will give you some direction. In fact, this activity is good for any parent looking for ways to help children grow, but it’s especially helpful when you’re confused and weighed down by a problem’s complexity or deeply rooted nature.
Take a piece of paper and make a list of your child’s offenses or the problems you’ve seen in the last few days. This isn’t a list to show to your child but is a working list so you can gain some perspective in your discipline. You’re looking for examples of problems that need to be addressed. Look for behaviors, their causes, common arenas where the problem takes place, and others who were typically involved. In this step, you’re simply gathering data and making observations, writing down the facts.
Next, group the problems by character qualities. That is, look for common threads in the offenses that may indicate a bigger heart issue. For example, one mom was discouraged with her son because he continually resisted chores, wasn’t completing his work at school, and gave her a hard time when she asked for help around the house. She saw a common thread: her son didn’t like to work hard and resisted work at every turn. She called it a “work ethic,” but you could easily give it a character quality name, such as working on perseverance or determination.
Grouping offenses around character qualities is freeing for many parents. First, it provides some perspective. Instead of working on fifty different negative behaviors, now you can focus on three or four positive character qualities. Furthermore, once you develop a strategy for character development, you begin to see many of the offenses in your child’s life as opportunities for growth.
This approach also helps parents focus on what their kids need to be doing instead of simply focusing on the wrong behavior. Listen to your words of correction. Are they primarily focused on the problem, or on the solution? One mom caught herself in a trail of statements focused on the problem. “Cut it out.” “Stop being annoying.” “People aren’t going to like you if you keep that up.” Instead, she’d be more effective if she’d say, “Think about being sensitive.” “Remember, stop and think first.” “Look to see how the other person is feeling.” By talking about the positive character quality you’re developing in your child, you can be more positive and hopeful in your approach.
For more ideas about moving from a behavior modification to a heart-based approach to parenting, visit biblicalparenting.info.
Here are some ideas to help you teach your children about showing love during this week of celebrating Valentine’s Day.
Creatively work together to display each day’s verse on the fridge. (cut, color, or paint a heart and put the verse on it)
Repeat the verse often during the day as you reinforce it as you go – here a little, there a little. (Deuteronomy 6:7), (Isaiah 28:10)
Read the Bible stories yourself and then tell them in your own words. Be animated and use visuals when possible.
Have fun establishing God’s Word in your children this week!!!!
Bible Verse:Proverbs 17:17 – A friend loves at all times.
Story: David and Jonathan (1 Samuel 18 1-4)
Activity for Baby to 3: Have a friend over to play with child. Tell story of David and Jonathan. Share toys. For infant, spend time talking about and thanking God for all the baby’s friends, after reading story.
Older Activity: Have child help make cookies and then invite a friend over to share them with. Talk about ways to show love to our friends.
Bible Verse:1 John 4:7 – Love one another.
Story: Elisha’s Friends (2 Kings 4:8-11)
Activity for Baby to 3: Tell the story of Elisha and talk about how you prepared a room for baby to show your love for him. Point out things in baby’s room.
Older Activity: Read story. Draw a picture of the story.
Bible Verse:Galatians 5:13 – Help one another Story: Four Friends (Mark 2:1-12)
Activity for Baby to 3: Make Valentines for friends and pray for for their friends as you do.
Older Activity: Same as for Baby to 3
Bible Verse:2 Corinthians 1:24 – We are helpers.
Story: We Work Together – (Nehemiah 1:1-11, 2:1-20, 3:1-32, 6:15-16)
Activity for Baby to 3: Help fold laundry or pick up toys.
Older Activity: Play blocks together and pretend to build the wall as you tell the story. Dads, let child hammer some nails in some scrap wood while you supervise.
Bible Verse:Ephesians 4:32 – Be kind to one another.
Story: Philip’s New Friend – (Acts 8:1-39)
Activity for Baby to 3: Do something special for baby or child like making him cookies or getting him a new inexpensive toy. Give him a hug and lead child to give someone a hug. Talk about ways he can show kindness.
Older Activity: Read story. Say Philip showed kindness by reading the Bible to his friend and telling him about God. Let’s be kind to our friends and tell them about God. Lead child to send a Bible verse or Bible story to one of his friends.