SojournKids

5 Minute Devotional: God Called Isaiah (Isaiah 6)

Josh RobertsComment

Dear Parents,

This week we learned about God’s calling of the prophet Isaiah.  With God’s people struggling with sin, God sent Isaiah to preach a message of hope. Even though God was going to correct His people through judgment, His purpose was one of grace through which God would receive glory. God planned to send a Messiah who would bring salvation to the world.

(3 minutes) READ Isaiah 6

Isaiah had a vision of God’s glory and realized his own sin. God forgave Isaiah’s sin. Like Isaiah, when we see how holy God is, we see how sinful we are. God sent His Son, Jesus, to pay for our sin. We can find salvation only in Him.

Help your kids understand that God is perfectly holy—He is pure and without sin and He is unique from anything and everyone else. God is also loving and full of mercy and grace. God sent Jesus to die on the cross to pay for the sins—past, present, and future—of those who would trust in Him. When we trust in Jesus, God says to us the words Isaiah heard: “Your guilt is taken away. Your sin is atoned for.”

(1 minute) REVIEW one of these doctrine memory questions, or the month’s memory verse by having your kids repeat it after you.

Gospel Project Big Picture Question: How many gods are there? There is one true God who alone deserves worship.

Sojourn Kids North Star Catechism: Where do we learn to love, trust, and obey God? In the Bible.

Memory Verse: Hebrews 1:1-2 In the past, God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days, He has spoken to us by His Son.

(1 minute) PRAY and sending Jesus to pay the price for our sin.

Additional resources can be found in the Gospel Project for Kids app under Unit 13 - Session 4.

 

5 Minute Devotional: Elisha and Naaman (2nd Kings 5)

Josh RobertsComment

Dear Parents,

This week, we learn about Naaman—a commander for the Syrian army— who was really sick. He had leprosy, a skin disease that was likely disfiguring and isolating. Without a cure, Naaman would face great suffering. But help came from an unlikely source: a young slave girl.

(3 minutes) READ 2nd Kings 5

As an Israelite, the girl knew about the one true God. She was familiar with God’s prophets, including Elisha, who had performed miracles to help and heal people. The girl told her mistress that Elisha the prophet could heal Naaman. So the king of Syria sent a letter to the king of Israel, asking him to cure Naaman of his leprosy. But the king of Israel had no power to heal Naaman. The power to heal comes only from God.

Elisha called for Naaman. But what happened next was not at all what Naaman expected. Naaman expected Elisha to call upon the name of God, wave his hand over Naaman, and miraculously heal him. Instead, Elisha instructed Naaman to go wash in the river.  Naaman was upset! He could have washed in a river back home! But Naaman’s servants urged him to wash. He did, and God healed him.

Naaman was sick with a skin problem. His disease went away when he trusted God’s instruction from Elisha and washed in the river. All people have a sin problem that leads to death. We all need a Healer. When we trust Jesus as Lord and Savior, God forgives our sin and heals us. Help your kids understand that not all sick people will be healed on this side of heaven, but our physical maladies are symptoms of an even greater illness—sin. Jesus’ death and resurrection provided healing—forgiveness and eternal life—for those who trust in Him.

(1 minute) REVIEW one of these doctrine memory questions, or the month’s memory verse by having your kids repeat it after you.

Gospel Project Big Picture Question: How many gods are there? There is one true God who alone deserves worship.

Sojourn Kids North Star Catechism: Where do we learn to love, trust, and obey God? In the Bible.

Memory Verse: Hebrews 1:1-2 In the past, God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days, He has spoken to us by His Son.

(1 minute) PRAY and thank God for forgiving our sins.

 

How do I encourage my child to trust Jesus without giving false assurances?

Jared KennedyComment

This past Sunday, I met with a group of parents and their children for the Student Baptism class at Sojourn Midtown. One thing we talked about is a question that is often raised by conscientious parents: "How do I encourage my child to trust Jesus without giving false assurances?"

In Matthew 28:18-20, the call is “Go! Make disciples. Baptize them.” In order to fill this command, we must call our kids to respond to Christ. Parents should speak freely to their kids about responding to Jesus—repenting, trusting, obeying, and making a decision to follow him.

At the same time, it is important to help our children see that it's not their responsiveness thats make them a Christian. Christians come to Jesus in faith, not by works (Ephesians 2:8-9). Just like us adults, kids can deceive themselves into thinking that good works or religious practices can save them. So, we shouldn't assure kids that what they do (even when it is praying a sinner’s prayer for mercy or asking Jesus into your heart) guarantees they will go to heaven. Praying a prayer or doing good works does not secure a child's salvation. As much as we want to assure our hearts with things we can manipulate (our knowledge, emotional experiences, prayers, or our works), these things offer no lasting hope.

So how do we encourage kids to respond to God’s call while avoiding false assurances?

(1)  Boldly teach children about their sin. Charles Spurgeon once said, “We must not flatter or deceive children by teaching them that their nature is good.  Rather, we tenderly teach children about their failures—pointing out the specific sins to which children are prone (greed, pride in performance, lying, disobedience, etc.). Our goal is to be tender but true.  We pray that the Holy Spirit will use the truth to bring conviction to the child’s heart and conscience, and ultimately to give the gift of faith.”

(2) Focus on what Jesus has done to save rather than what a child should do. In children’s ministry, we often emphasize the ABCs: (A) Admit you are a sinner; (B) Believe in Jesus; and (C) Confess faith in Him. There is nothing wrong with this (see Romans 10:9-10) so long as we make clear that salvation is not about what we do but about what Christ has done. If we only talk to kids about what they should do, we run the risk of confusing or discouraging them. When a child becomes aware of their sin, they may become introspective and worry, “Did I do enough? How can Jesus live in my heart when I still get so angry?” What Jesus has done for us is the most important thing—so much more important than what we do. He saves us. We do not save ourselves. We must teach kids to look outside of themselves to the love and forgiveness that comes because of what Christ has already done for them (Galatians 2:20). For this reason, I prefer a gospel tract like Billy Graham’s Steps to Peace With God or my Are You Close to God? that emphasizes what Christ has done outside of us over the ABC method. Another helpful resource is Marty Machowski's booklet, Leading Your Child To Christ, pictured above. As Octavius Winslow wrote, “One simple believing [look at] Christ will produce more light and peace and joy than a lifetime of looking within ourselves for evidences and signs of grace.”

(3) Call kids to respond. Call them to decide. We must be clear that the call to respond is not the gospel. But we also must be clear that a response is necessary. The Scripture calls all people to believe. So, you don’t have to wait until you know that a child is saved in order to call them to respond, or call them to make a decision.

Rote--a child's ability to repeat back stories, verses, and biblical truth without thought of meaning.

Recognition--a child's ability to recognize biblical concepts that have been taught before

Restatement--a child's ability to express new concepts in his own words and to relate them to a biblical worldview/system of thought.

Relation--a child's ability to relate biblical truths to life and see an appropriate gospel response/application.

Realization--a child's ability and desire for putting gospel applications into action in his daily life.

(4) Recognize differing levels of responsiveness in young children, and encourage them to take the next step. Christian educators, Larry Richards and Gary Bredfeldt, outline five levels of biblical learning (on the right). This outline reminds us that children typically learn the language of faith before their faith is fully realized. That's normal. Worship pastor Bob Kauflin has written, "Younger children, who may not know God yet, may still participate enthusiastically in various external forms of worshipping God. As the Holy Spirit enables them, they will become increasingly aware of their sinfulness before God, accept His gracious gift of forgiveness through the gospel, and be included among those who will forever be growing in their love for and worship of God." 

(5) Give children gospel assurances. Avoiding false assurances doesn't mean not giving assurances altogether. Children should be taught that Jesus alone saves, and they should be assured that they can bank on him. We should feel free to assure children that Jesus will save them if they trust him. We should freely invite children to come to Jesus and keep coming to him for their whole life. Should children be led to memorize, recite, or sing Bible passages that give personal assurance--passages like Job 19:25-26, Psalm 23:1, Psalm 42:11, Galatians 2:20, or Romans 8:16? Absolutely yes! Leading a child to memorize these assurances is not the same thing as giving false assurances, because these words are the very words of Christ. What do we do if we hear our kids assuring themselves with one of these passages? Rejoice! And encourage them, "Keep on believing! Keep on believing!" 

(6) Finally, there is no reason to pressure children for commitments, because the pressure is off. We can trust that God is already at work kids’ hearts. Our responsibility is to faithfully teach the gospel to them and leave the results to the Lord. Sometimes we’re tempted to pressure children, because we feel that getting them saved is our responsibility. It is not. Salvation is God’s work (2 Corinthians 5:18-20; Ephesians 2:8-9). Give children an opportunity to respond, but trust God to work in the hearts of his children to bring them to himself through faith, in his time and in his ways.

5 Minute Devotional: Elijah Ran from Jezebel (1st Kings 16-17)

Josh RobertsComment

Dear Parents,

This week, we continue to study the prophet Elijah. Elijah had just witnessed God’s great display of power over the false god Baal but trouble awaited Elijah in the form of Ahab’s wife, Jezebel.  When Jezebel heard what happened at Mount Carmel, she threatened to kill Elijah. Elijah ran away and hid in the wilderness.

(3 minutes) READ 1st Kings 19

God was merciful to Elijah. An angel of the Lord brought Elijah food and drink while he rested. God also reassured Elijah that he was not alone and provided a friend and successor to him in Elisha.  As a prophet of God, Elijah faced enemies who wanted to hurt him. Elijah’s life points forward to Jesus, the greatest Prophet, who was hated and killed for sharing and teaching God’s Word.

 

Help your kids understand that God’s prophets suffered, but their lives and messages pointed forward to the ultimate prophet, priest, and king—Jesus Christ—who suffered for the sins of the world. Jesus was hated and killed, but His death and resurrection brought victory for God’s people.

(1 minute) REVIEW one of these doctrine memory questions, or the month’s memory verse by having your kids repeat it after you.

Gospel Project Big Picture Question: How many gods are there? There is one true God who alone deserves worship.

Sojourn Kids North Star Catechism: Where do we learn to love, trust, and obey God? In the Bible.

Memory Verse: Hebrews 1:1-2 In the past, God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days, He has spoken to us by His Son.

(1 minute) PRAY and thank God for the gift of His Son who suffered in our place.

 

5 Minute Devotional: Elijah Confronted Evil Ahab (1st Kings 16-17)

Josh RobertsComment

Dear Parents, 

This week, we continue in the big story of the Bible by learning about the contest between Elijah and the prophets of Baal. King Ahab was an evil king. In fact, “Ahab did more to provoke the Lord God of Israel than all the kings of Israel who were before him” (1 Kings 16:33). The things that Ahab did made God angry. God wanted His people to be faithful to Him, but King Ahab led them away from God.

(3 minutes) READ 1st Kings 16-17

God chose Elijah to get Ahab’s attention. Elijah set up a challenge to prove who is the one true God. He faced off against the prophets of Baal. Each group prepared a bull on an altar and called on its deity to send fire from heaven. The prophets of Baal called and cried and cut themselves, but Baal did not answer.

Elijah poured water on and around his altar. He called to God, and God sent fire from heaven. Everything was burned up. The prophets could not deny that the God of Elijah is the one true God, and God sent a great rain to end the drought.

 

The people who worshiped the false god Baal danced and cried and cut their bodies to show that they loved Baal. But the one true God is not like the false gods. Instead, He showed His love for us by sending His Son, Jesus. Jesus bled and died to rescue us from sin when we trust in Him.

Help your kids understand that God is an initiating God. We love God because He first loved us, which He proved by providing Jesus. Only God—the one true God—has power to help His people and to save them. And He saves them through His Son, Jesus, whose name means “the Lord saves.”

(1 minute) REVIEW one of these doctrine memory questions, or the month’s memory verse by having your kids repeat it after you.

Gospel Project Big Picture Question: How many gods are there? There is one true God who alone deserves worship.

Sojourn Kids North Star Catechism: Where do we learn to love, trust, and obey God? In the Bible.

Memory Verse: Hebrews 1:1-2 In the past, God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days, He has spoken to us by His Son.

(1 minute) PRAY and thank God that he first loved us