Login

Register

Login

Register


Cultivating Children’s Love for Jesus

by David Sanford, Hearts Alive Writer

Why do children love Jesus so much? In the Gospels, it’s clear that they loved Jesus because He first loved them. Jesus wasn’t posing for future artists when He invited children to gather around Him. Actually, He didn’t have to do any coaxing. Children loved Him. So did their parents, who were eager for Jesus to bless their children.

Like a beloved uncle or grandfather, Jesus would put His hands on their heads and pray for them. I can imagine parents reminding their children, “Do you remember when Jesus prayed for you?” What a treasured memory.

It’s sometimes said that adults who love children at heart are really kids themselves. That is, they’ve retained the best qualities of their childhood.

While some grown-ups love to be around kids, some apparently don’t. There’s no question which when we look at Jesus.

Jesus loved to be with children. During His three and a half years of ministry as an adult, we see Jesus giving an amazing amount of priority to ministry to children. Jesus talks with children, something only parents and grandparents usually did in that culture. Jesus commends the faith of little children who, in that culture, were sometimes considered incapable and unable to truly embrace religious faith until they were almost teenagers.

Not only that, but we see Jesus blessing children. We see Him feeding them. We even see Jesus using a little boy’s sack lunch to feed the multitudes and send 12 hefty baskets full of leftovers to help feed others.

Beyond that, we see Jesus healing boys and girls who are demon-possessed and curing others who are sick and dying. He even resurrects a 12-year-old girl who had just died and an older boy who had died a few hours earlier.

In his preaching and teaching, Jesus said that children are a strategic, essential part of his kingdom in heaven and on earth. In so many words, Jesus told his disciples, “Listen, my kingdom belongs to kids.” Not only that, but Jesus goes on to say, “Unless you become like a little kid, you can’t even get into My kingdom.”

What is Jesus talking about? Well, what are kids good at doing? They’re good at receiving. When you’re a small child, your mom and dad give you some food. What do you do? You receive it. Your grandparents send you a birthday satchel with five shekels in it. What do you do? You receive it. God gives you a sunny day to go outside and play. What do you do? You receive it.

The same thing applies when it comes to God’s kingdom. Can you work really hard to get a part of God’s kingdom? No. Can you be good enough, for long enough, to get a part of God’s kingdom? Again, no. Can you pay lots of money to get a part of God’s kingdom? No. That’s what grown-ups would try to do. Jesus says, That’s not the way to get into My kingdom. My kingdom isn’t like that at all. To get into My kingdom you have to get down lower—humble yourself—and trust Me.

What do you have to do to get a part of God’s kingdom? That’s right. You have to receive something. Or, specifically, Someone.

In all we do with children, let’s be sure to cultivate their love for Jesus.

The Servant Life Hearts Alive Palm Sunday Reflections

There’s a bumper sticker that some of you may have seen, it says: Salt Life. I imagine this to mean a life dedicated to spending as much time as possible at the beach: swimming, tanning, jet skiing, surfing, fishing, basically celebrating sun and sand. This coming week’s Palm Sunday lesson in our Hearts Alive curriculum for kids is about The Servant Life, and if you are reading this blog as a Sunday school teacher, congratulations! You are already immersed in Servant Life. As a servant, you know that there can be days that it is a thankless job. You sacrifice a leisurely morning in bed to the rush of preparing for class and sometimes dealing with the behavioral issues of other people’s children. There are those rewarding moments when you see the difference that knowing Christ can make in a child’s life, but most of the time, you will not witness the fruit of your labors. You won’t see the comfort that God brings to a child when he faces a small social challenge or even a full blown crisis in the future. Yet let me assure you, that seed is taking root. God’s Word never returns empty and will accomplish what HE desires (Isaiah 55:11 NIV).

The opposite of the Servant Life is the King Life, and He who is the worthiest, King of all Kings, spurned this life while He lived on earth. It is the life that many in the secular culture sing about… Greed, power, pleasure, cutting down others, being successful, demanding respect and adulation. It is a me-focused life. This week’s Heart’s Alive lesson is a great opportunity to ask ourselves and our students to reflect upon which lifestyle we have chosen for ourselves. Are we little “kings” always demanding to go first, to speak the most, never to wait, and always have our way? Or do we follow the example of our Lord who washed others feet and died a horrible death on the cross to pay a debt that He certainly didn’t owe, but gave out of love. The King Life seems more fun than the Servant Life, but this is a temporary delusion. Lasting fulfillment and happiness is always found in serving others.

“The greatest among you will be your servant.” Matthew 22:11, NIV

“My Father will honor the one who serves me.” John 12:26, NIV

“In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.'” Acts 20:35, NIV

Guarding the Faith

“O Timothy, guard the deposit entrusted to you. Avoid the irreverent babble and contradictions of what is falsely called ‘knowledge,’ for by professing it some have swerved from the faith. Grace be with you.” – 1 Timothy 6:20-21

 

Paul’s final charge to Timothy is to “guard the deposit entrusted to you” (6:20). As a minister of the Gospel, Timothy is being sent into a battle on the front lines for the very Gospel itself. He needs strong encouragement to see the importance of the task and ministry with which he has been entrusted.

The need for Paul’s letter was occasioned for two main reasons: geography and time. First, Paul was simply not able to be in more than one place at a time. The delegation of leadership to others was an essential task for Paul if there was to be a geographically broad gospel movement. As Paul traveled on his missionary journeys moving from region to region, city to city, town to town, many new congregations were planted. New leadership had to be developed in each region, city, and town. Coordination and support of those various congregations also became mission-critical for the gospel.

The second issue was related to time. Paul was always keenly aware that his days of “fruitful ministry” were numbered. The issue of succession was critically important to Paul as he empowered Timothy to lead and then to identify and empower more leaders for the churches.

In this way, we see the first examples of succession and delegation at work in the church in the personal and pastoral relationship between Timothy and Paul. For Paul, the issue is not merely the passing of a torch humanly speaking, but for him it was critically important that the content and character of the gospel be guarded in order that it may be passed on faithfully to the next generation of leaders.

As each generation considers its own faith, it must also keep in mind the needs of the next generation of believers. We are given a sacred trust in the gospel of Jesus Christ, guarding the faith carefully so that it can be passed on.

In what ways are you delegating, passing on, and guarding the faith which has been entrusted to you?

———————————–

This post originally appeared on The Bible Challenge.

The Cross Walk: A Brand New 7-Week Children’s Curriculum

We are thrilled to announce the release of The Cross Walk: Learning to Walk Like Jesus. The Cross Walk is an exciting new Children’s Curriculum that combines games, crafts, and hands-on activities with solid Biblical teaching. Perfect for Sunday School or mid-week gatherings, this brand-new resource is designed for Grades K-5, large group or small group sessions. What makes The Cross Walk unique is its parallel to the themes the adults are exploring in The Crucified Life study series, making for a powerful entire-family teaching experience. However, The Cross Walk offers powerful lessons on the foundations of faith for children any time of the year, regardless of whether their parents are participating in The Crucified Life.

The Cross Walk contains 7 weekly sessions based on Jesus’ Seven Words from the Cross:

Session 1: Forgiveness – “God forgives me. I need to forgive others.”

Session 2: Salvation – “When I do something wrong, I should run back to God.”

Session 3: Relationship – “I can help take care of the family of God”

Session 4: Distress – “Jesus helps me thirst to do the right thing.”

Session 5: Abandonment – “God will never leave me or abandon me.”

Session 6: Reunion – “I can trust God, even in difficult times.”

Session 7: Triumph – “God helps me finish the race!”

The Cross Walk Children’s Curriculum includes:

  • Weekly Large Group time of engaging Bible lessons taught through stories, skits, and videos (Grades K-5)
  • Weekly Small Group time for follow-up activities and crafts (divided by Grades K-1, Grades 2-3, and Grades 4-5) to help the lessons “stick” to little hearts
  • Lively, engaging games that tie in to the Bible teachings
  • Uplifting worship songs with on-screen graphics downloadable from the website, including two original songs written for The Cross Walk
  • Original animated videos of Bible stories, narrated by children
  • “Cross Walk, All Week” handouts featuring Dinner Table Talk to help families apply the lessons together

Don’t pass up the chance to get The Cross Walk at the low introductory price of $79.99 for the Digital-Only Package or $99.99 for the Print + Digital Package!

Download a free sample of The Cross Walk!

Purchase The Cross Walk now!

Announcing The Cross Walk: The companion to The Crucified Life – for kids!

Cross Walk coverComing Soon…

The Cross Walk!

We are very excited to announce the upcoming release of The Cross Walk: the companion curriculum to The Crucified Life – for kids in grades K-5! This project is still in design, but we are planning to have it ready for release in January, so that churches can do this curriculum with their children at the same time the adults of the congregation are doing The Crucified Life for Lent.

View the cover image at right. (Click the image to preview Week 1: Forgiveness.)

We are so excited about involving children in church-wide Crucified Life campaigns, and we think the families of your congregations will be blessed by it!




Leave us a comment below to give us your thoughts…

Read More
Sign Up for Our Newsletter

Subscribe to our monthly newsletter updates.


Archives