Family Resources - June 6
Happy June everyone! I can’t believe how quickly this year is going by! May this new month be a new blessing to you from the Lord!
We wanted to share with you some highlights from our curriculum, so that your child will be able to follow along with the lessons they are being taught in Children’s Ministry. This blog post contains information about this week’s lesson from our Gospel Story curriculum, which is being taught to 3 & 4 year olds, up through 3rd grade, as well as this week’s lesson from our New City Catechism that is being taught to 4th-5th graders. May it brighten your week and bless you!
The lesson for this week from the Gospel Story Curriculum is about the Fall of Israel. This sobering story comes from 2 Kings 17:1-20, although for younger kids it is recommended that you abridge it to teach verses 6-15. If you would like to read the child-friendly version of this story from the Gospel Story Bible, you may click here. To access the weekly coloring sheet, click here, then scroll down to the last page.
There are a lot of phrases and terms in this story that might be difficult for younger children to understand. Take some time to go through some of them, explaining what they are:
Asherah poles - something people use to worship false idols
Baal - the name of a false god
The God of Israel - a reference to God
High places - the hills/mountains where people would worship false idols
Idols - the general name for things we worship other than God
The Lord - a name for God
Sacred stones - tools used to worship idols
The presence of the Lord - when we are standing with God
After explaining each of these phrases/terms, go through them again with your child, having them give a thumbs up if it is something about God, and a thumbs down if it is about idols. Go through them a second, maybe even a third time, mixing up the order, until you feel your child really understands what each of these things are.
For this activity, you will need a mouse trap or two, as well as some yellow caution tape (yellow streamer or ribbon would also work), and a long stick for setting the trap off. Set the traps and place them on a table, then put some chairs a distance away from the table and wrap the caution tape around the chairs. Allow your children to come look at the traps, but warn them not to cross the caution tape. If they even start to get too close to the caution tape, warn them "Be careful!". Explain that the tape and your words are a warning to keep your child safe, so that they will not be hurt by the traps. Use a stick to trigger one of the traps, showing your child how fast and strong it is. Use this lesson to teach your child about the warnings God gave to the people of Israel through the prophets, in order to keep them safe so they would not be hurt by sin. But Israel did not listen.
One object lesson you can use involves giving your child a few recognizable seeds (acorns, feed corn, sunflower seeds, apple seeds, etc). Ask them to identify the seeds, then tell them you will need them to help you plant these seeds and grow a garden, so that you will have lettuce, tomatoes, carrots, and green peppers. Your child will most likely recognize the absurdity of this suggestion, pointing out that you can't plant one kind of a seed and expect something completely different to grow. Read Galatians 6:7-8 to your child and talk about sowing and reaping, recognizing the bad seeds that Israel had been sowing, and asking God to help you grow good seeds of faith in your life.
Have your child go through 2 Kings 17:7-18 and make a list of all Israel's sins. Things like "Israel feared other gods" or "Israel walked in the customs of other nations". There are over 20 reasons listed in these verses. It's easy to see why Israel deserved a punishment. Of course, if we were to list out our sins against God, it would be easy to see how much we also deserve punishment. Thankfully, God is merciful to us, in sending His Son, Jesus, to die on the cross for our sins, taking the punishment for us and setting us free to live for Him!
There are a couple of teaching points that are good to draw out to your child as you go through this lesson. First of all, it’s clear that Israel deserved punishment. They turned their backs on God, secretly doing wicked things, and openly doing wicked things, even giving their children to be burned as sacrifices to false gods. It was right for God to hand them over to captivity. But this story, while showing God’s righteous justice, is also a wonderful example of His loving mercy. God was merciful in sending warnings. He didn't just send them one prophet to say, "Hey now, don't forget about God". He sent several prophets, again and again, to tell His people to repent, to turn to God, to give up their idols, to look to the coming of the Messiah, and to watch out for the destruction that was coming. God gives us warnings, too, in His word, so that we will keep away from evil and know to follow Him. God was merciful in sparing Judah. Verse 18 tells us that Judah also did bad things, but that was the tribe governed by David's family line, and God did not allow them to be captured by the king of Assyria, as Israel was. We do bad things, like Judah, but God is merciful to us. God was merciful in making Jerusalem's exile only 70 years. Eventually, Judah and Jerusalem also were captured and taken into captivity because of their many sins against God. Yet God didn't allow them to be scattered forever or taken away forever. He set a time limit, saying that their captivity would be for 70 years, but after that they would be allowed to go back to the place where God's temple was. And most of all, God was merciful in sending His Son. Ultimately, the reason God kept showing mercy to Judah was because He was planning to send Jesus through David's line. This magnificent act would show God's mercy to the whole world, past, present, and future. God is mercy!
Since we are in a new month, we have a new Sword Bible Memory Verse. Our verse for June comes from 1 John 1. For preschoolers, they are learning 1 John 1:5. For K-3rd grade, they are learning 1 John 1:5-7. To see the verses printed out, you can click here and go to Sword Verse #16.
Our New City Catechism question for this week is question #45 - “Is baptism with water the washing away of sin itself?” Answer - “No, only the blood of Christ can cleanse us from sin.” The biblical passage for this lesson comes from Luke 3:15-22. The weekly memory verse for this age group is Luke 3:16.
A good object lesson involves the use of a small whiteboard, such as you would hang on your refrigerator. (Preschool teacher trick, a laminated piece of paper will also do the trick!) You will need a permanent marker and a dry erase marker (preferably red). Prior to the lesson, use the permanent marker to draw a heart on the whiteboard, and then write the word SIN in the middle of it. Show it to your child and ask them to erase it. Provide an eraser/tissue/washcloth for the job. Suggest getting a wet cloth to clean it. Does the water wash the permanent marker away? No, and neither does it wash our sins away. Dry the board thoroughly. Only the blood of Christ can wash away our sins. Use the red dry erase marker to color over the heart and word, completely covering it up. Now, with a dry tissue, you should be able to wipe off the permanent marker with the dry erase. (If it doesn’t all come off at once, apply more dry erase on the black lines).
As you teach this lesson to your kids, encourage them in their faith to see how Jesus has ordained that baptism is to be the normal experience for every believer. However, He also established that baptism is not necessary to salvation in the story of the thief on the cross. Read Luke 23:39-43 with your kids, helping them to see that even though the thief was not baptized, Jesus confirmed His faith and assured him of salvation. And where was Jesus when He did this? On the cross, shedding His blood in order to save us. What a mighty God we serve!
If you’re looking for other resources for ideas and activities you can do with your children to help them use their time to invest in God’s kingdom, here are some we recommend:
https://pin.it/4G2jtFq (Although this is a link to purchase these art cards, you could also make some together with your child. This link has excellent suggestions for what to do with them!)
https://pin.it/5VgAaeA (A fun and easy way to get your child started in treasuring God’s word)
Children (Cedar Springs Presbyterian Church is preparing to host their annual VBS next week, June 7-10. This year, they are offering a virtual version that does not require registration. They are also offering an in-person FAMILY VBS in the evenings, the week of June 7-10. June 2 is the last day to register for the in-person VBS. All the information is on their website, which you can access by clicking on this link.)