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Family Resources - April 15

Zoom is a wonderful service, and FaceTime has helped me a lot in the last few weeks, but I can’t tell you how much I long to see all your faces again, and hear you and your children filling the halls in Children’s Ministry with your talk and laughter and presence!!  It reminds me of our longing to see Jesus one day in heaven, face to face. It’s nice to see Him now in God’s word, or feel His presence through worship, but oh, how happy a day when we see Him face to face!!!

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 from our Gospel Story Curriculum this week is about when Abraham is Tested.  You can find the biblical account of this story in Genesis 22:1-19. 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.

As an introduction to this story, particularly with younger children, you might ask your child to give you something of theirs, maybe a toy or their shoe.  Ask them if they think you should keep it or give it back? What would they think if you were to throw it away in the trash can, do they think that would be mean?  Ask them if they think you’re really going to keep it for yourself or throw it away, or if they believe you will give it back to your child? With a smile, reward their faith in you by returning the item, letting them know that they believed you would give it back, because they had faith in your good character, that you were nice and not mean.  In the same way, Abraham had faith in God’s good character, that He wouldn’t meanly steal Isaac away, but would give him back to Abraham.  

There are several object lessons that go along with this story, geared towards different ages of children.  Feel free to pick and choose the one(s) you believe will speak to your children’s understanding. For younger children, show them a picture of a star, or a paper cutout star, and use it to remind them of God’s promise to Abraham to give him as many descendants as the stars.  If He meant to keep His promise through Isaac, and He did, or course He would give Isaac back to Abraham! For elementary children, you will need a quarter. Hold it up and ask your children what it is, and if they know who’s face is on the quarter. That’s right, it’s George Washington!  But how do they know that George Washington is real? Have they ever seen him with their eyes? Or do they know because they read about him in their history books, and thus believe by faith that he really did live long ago and help found our country? In the same way, Abraham believed by faith that God was real, that He had real power, and that He was good.  That’s how Abraham could obey God, even when it was hard. For older elementary children, compare this story with the story of the rich young ruler in Matthew 19:16-26. Who do they think was asked to give up more? Why did the rich young ruler walk away sad, yet Abraham walked away glad? How did Abraham show his belief in what Matthew 19:26 says, that “with God all things are possible”?

There are a couple of teaching points that are really good to draw out to your children as you go through this difficult lesson.  First of all, highlight to them how Abraham’s faith in God moved him to obedience. What he was asked to do was incredibly difficult, but he believed in God’s goodness and power.  Hebrews 11:19 tells us that Abraham believed that God could even raise Isaac from the dead. Genesis 22:5 tells us that Abraham told his servants that after he and Isaac got done with their sacrifice, they would return, implying that Abraham believed that he and Isaac would both return together that same day.  What faith! Secondly, talk to your kids about Isaac’s faith in God. Even though he was only a child, we know that Isaac must have had faith in God and in his father. We know this because he did not fight with Abraham, but allowed himself to be tied up and placed on the altar. He went willingly to be sacrificed, reminding us of another Son who would one day go willingly to be our sacrifice for our sins.  Finally, remind them of God’s graciousness to Abraham and Isaac, how He saved Isaac from death and provided a substitute, a ram caught in the thicket. This is also meant to point us to God’s graciousness towards us, how He saves us from death and provides a substitute. Only instead of a ram, Jesus Christ Himself was our substitute.

Along these teaching points, if your children are a little older, here is a good activity to help them learn to recognize prophetic types that the Bible uses.  You will need 10 small items from around the house, and 10 lumps of playdough. Before you begin teaching, press each item into one of the lumps of playdough, so it leaves an impression.  Set the items aside in a box, then show the playdough to your children and have them try to guess what sort of items you used. Perhaps a comb, or a lego, or a leaf. After they've had a chance to guess them all, talk with your children about prophetic "types".  The Bible is full of these, because God, in His providence, arranged the lives of some people to give us some hints of what would happen in the future. In our story this week, Abraham is a "type" of God, who also gave up His Son for us. The ram is a type of Christ, acting as a substitute for Isaac.  Isaac is also a type of Christ, willingly submitting to the sacrifice he does not deserve at the hands of a loving father. Have your children look at the playdough lumps again. What can we learn from looking at a type, or impression? Does it help give us an idea of what it's pointing to? And also, what can't we learn from it?  What is missing from what we see? After talking these things over with your kids, let them see your items in the box, and match each item with its type. 

For April, Sword Bible Memory Verse is taken from Psalm 145.  For preschoolers, they are learning Psalm 145:3. For grades K-2, they are learning Psalm 145:1-3.  And in 3rd grade, they are working on learning Psalm 145:1-6. To see the verses printed out, you can click here and go to Sword Verse #4.

The New City Catechism Question for this week is question #38 - “What is prayer?”  Answer - “Prayer is pouring out our hearts to God.” The biblical passage for this week’s Q&A comes from Psalm 62.  The weekly memory verse for this age group is Psalm 62:8.

This question is the start of a 4 week series on prayer.  Included in this lesson is a resource page with a large blank question mark.  You can access it by clicking here.  Have your children think through and write down any questions they may have about prayer.  Place these question marks somewhere you can all see them and let them know that you will be addressing their questions about prayer in the next few weeks.  

Let your children play a game of communication charades.  As each one has their turn to come up, whisper one of the following words in their ears, and have them act out this form of communication to their siblings.  The words are:

Talking - Letter - Email - Phone Call - Text Message - Facebook - Zoom - Facetime - Message in a Bottle

Use this activity as a way to help your children realize that prayer is simply talking with and communicating with God.  We grow closer to our friends when we spend time with them and talk to them. We grow closer to God also when we spend time with Him and talk to Him.  Sometimes we are tempted to just use prayer as a way to ask for stuff. It’s good to bring our requests to God, the Bible tells us to do that. But do we talk to our parents only when we want them to give us stuff?  Or do we also tell them about our day, about what we’re thinking, do we thank them for helping us with our homework and cooking us dinner? When we talk to God, we can also tell Him about our day, thank Him for all He is doing, praise Him for who He is, and tell Him sorry for the wrong things we do.

One final activity to go along with this lesson is to make your child a prayer journal.  Maybe you have an old notebook laying around that you never used? Or you can fold regular sheets of paper in half and staple them into a booklet.  Encourage your child to use their prayer journal as a safe place to write their thoughts and prayers to God. Nobody else needs to see inside, it’s between them and God.  

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:

Prayer Notes for Kids - ACTS of Prayer (You can print as many of these as you like, to help your child learn the ACTS of praying to God, and give them a starting place to talk to Him.)

Treasurehunt.html (Bible Treasure Hunt ideas for all ages!)

Free-bible-scavenger-hunt (A Bible Scavenger Hunt that will have you digging through your Bibles for the answers)

https://youtu.be/P0lVymbAcOA (This fun video gives ideas on how to set up a Bible Verse obstacle course for your kids!  If you have younger children who can’t read yet, try having them stop at the end of the obstacle course while you help them say their bible verse.  Then they can go back and tag the next child. Play it over and over as long as you are all having fun!)

https://youtu.be/fMZZX79UppQ (This half hour video is the story of Abraham and Isaac.  The first half of the video is about some of our previous bible stories, such as God’s Promise to Abraham, Ishmael, and the birth of Isaac.  The second half is all about our story for this week.)