Expect great things from God

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Chapter 6 -Son of laughter

Activities

1. Father Abraham
We couldn’t read about Abraham without singing the golden oldie “Father Abraham had many sons”

Great fun. We had a chat about what it means to be a son (or daughter) of Abraham. I said that Abrahams’ great, great, great….. Grandson would be King David and that his great, great, great…..grandson would be the king of kings – Jesus. If we choose to trust in Jesus and follow Him, we become part of Gods family and become Kings and Queens in Gods kingdom (Romans 8:17).

2. Trampoline jump.

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We were going a bit stir crazy in the house over winter so I set the kids a challenge to jump on the trampoline the same number as their ages. That didn’t take too long so they jumped the number of years old Abraham and Sarah were when they had Isaac – 90 yrs old and 99 yrs old! James then decided to add them together and then did Granny and Grandpas ages too (top secret ages). Fantastic workout.

Had a chat with them afterwards about how impossible it seemed to Abraham and Sarah to have a baby but pointed out that God always Keeps His promises and that nothing is impossible for Him.

I also told them about another time in the Bible when an older man and woman had a baby when it seemed impossible. The baby’s name was John and he would grow up to become John the Baptist who would fulfil the prophecy of the Old Testament and prepare the way for Jesus the messiah and our saviour.

In Luke 1:36 the angel had said to Mary
“And did you know that your cousin Elizabeth conceived a son, old as she is? Everyone called her barren, and here she is six months pregnant! Nothing, you see, is impossible with God.”

3. Promise pancakes
I got this idea from the book “Bake through the Bible” by Suzie Bentley.Taylor and Bekah Moore

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We made some pancakes, folded them over and put glitter sprinkles on top.

The promises can be downloaded as a printable at the goodbook.co.uk/baking.

We talked about the different promises and I pointed out that God gave some of the promises specifically to Abraham (God would make him into a great nation- Gen 12:2, he would have more descendants than the stars – Gen 15:5 and God would make him famous -Gen 2:12). Other promises in the Bible are for Gods people (“I will never leave or abandon you” Deut 31:8) and there are more promises in the New Testament for anyone who believes and trusts in Jesus (“I will give you rest when you bring your worries to me” Matt 11:28-29, “You will not die but live with me forever” John 3:16, “Nothing can separate you from my love” Romans 8:38-39 and of course many more).

4. Descendants like stars and sand picture
I got this idea from the blog whenyourise.com blog

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Thoughts

“Expect great things from God, achieve great things for God”
(William Carey, the first missionary to India)

We have recently started a rota for doing chores after dinner. This week holds the record for the number of items smashed while drying dishes! It really is easier to do things myself but in order for the kids to learn independence and be part of family living it is good for them to help out. As I was cleaning up the glass (again) I thought of how God doesn’t need us to help Him with His work on earth. He chooses to involve us because He loves us and wants to work with us as part of a loving relationship.

With one breath God breathed life into Adam, with the words “Be still” Jesus calmed the storm. He who calls that which is not into being, calls us to be a part of His great plan to restore all living things to Himself, all of which is only possible through Jesus sacrifice on the cross (Colossians 1:20). We must keep our eyes fixed on Him as our only hope.

God chooses to use us as His hands and feet, to love as He loves and to walk alongside others, guiding them to a loving relationship with Him. In Ephesians 2:8-10 it says;

“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”

We can often underestimate what God wants to do through us but these truths from Gods word say that before we were born He had in mind a purpose and prepared good works for each of us to do for His glory to build up His kingdom.

The other amazing truth is that God does not expect us to do these works alone. He has given us His Holy Spirit as a guide, comforter and help. Our part is to be like Abraham who “trusted what God said more than what his eyes could see” (Jesus story Bible).

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Stairway to heaven

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Week 5 – A giant stairway to heaven

Activities (We got a bit carried away with the tower theme this week!)

Moonsand tower

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I found a great, easy way to make your own moonsand from Pinterest. Mix 8 cups of flour with 1 cup baby oil. It really works. They had loads of fun but very messy afterwards.

Minecraft tower

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In an attempt to include my 11year old I interrupted his killing of zombies on minecraft and asked if he would like to make a Minecraft Tower of Babel. He graciously obliged and was quite proud of his creation, which was unfinished because the people of babel were unable to complete theirs.

Choc crispy cake tower

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This may not look too appetising but was very tasty. We melted some butter, chocolate and marshmallows in a pan. Mixed in some rice crispies. Then we popped the mixture into ice cube trays and put in the fridge. YUM!

Mega block tower
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Pancake charades

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James came up with this idea. It combines pass the parcel, cherades and eating pancakes. First we made pancakes and put them on a plate in the middle of the table. James suggested we pass an orange around the table while the music played. When the music stopped the person had to act out a cherade. Whoever guessed right got a pancake. The idea being the winner is the one with the highest pancake tower.

During a couple of these activities I asked the kids if they thought there was anything wrong with building a tower. They all said yes. I then had great opportunity to talk to them about how God made us in His image and since God is creative, He wants us to be creative and use the gifts He has given to us. The problem with the people who built the tower of Babel was not the actual building but their attitude. It says in the Bible that they “wanted to make a name for themselves”. God wants us to use our gifts and be creative not to make us look good but to bring Him glory.

Missionary books
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I have been collecting these books over the years. They are simply written stories about missionaries who have made a difference. Just like in the time of Babel God wanted people to scatter all over the earth, in Mark 16:15-16 Jesus said to His disciples “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.”.

*www.desiringGod.com

Thoughts

A trip to the dentist is never a dull experience with the kids. At this weeks visit Jacob was singing in the waiting room at the top of his voice “people change but God don’t change at all. NOOOOOOONOOOOOOO”, Esther was singing twinkle twinkle little teeth, until the moment she needed to open her mouth which remained firmly shut in the dentist chair, James was in shorts and tshirt (mid winter at the moment) as I had forgotten he had an afterschool club and Stephen looked very embarrassed to be connected with us. Although this was more of a comical moment there are lots of times when I do really worry about what people think of me.

Like most people, I like to be liked. But my true identity is not based on what others think of me, what kind of parent I am or how many “good works” I do. My identity can only be found in Christ. It says in 2 Corinthians 5:17

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”

The people of Babel became too comfortable and confident in their own abilities and tried to make a name for themselves. They wanted to use their gifts for their own glory instead of for Gods glory. God made us to be creative. We are after all made in His image. We are made to build, to learn and to explore. But mostly we are made to worship. Not ourselves or our creations but worship our creator and Heavenly Father. He is the only One that can fill the God shaped hole in our lives.

John Piper describes the two sins the people of Babel committed as the love of praise and the love of security. He explained that God’s will for human beings is not that we find our joy in being praised, but that we find our joy in knowing and praising Him.*

When I worry about what other people think of me I try to remember who I am in Christ, what He has done for me and how much He loves me. This is one of the many ways to lift my eyes heavenwards, taking the focus away from a “poor wee me” attitude to a “thank you Jesus” attitude. But it is so much more than that. As we grow in Christ we become more like Him. Paul says in Philippians 2:5-11;

“You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had. Though he was God,he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. Instead, he gave up his divine privileges;he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When he appeared in human form, he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross. Therefore, God elevated him to the place of highest honour and gave him the name above all other names, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,to the glory of God the Father.”

What’s your fruit of happiness?

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Jesus story book – chapter 3 “the terrible lie”

Activities

1. Toilet roll “sin” challenge
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We split the room in 2 using drumsticks! Jacob went on one side and Esther on the other. I then scrunched up bits of toilet roll and said each one represents a sin. Every time we thought of a sin I gave them one of the balls. I then gave them the challenge to get rid of their sin (scrunched up loo roll balls) by throwing them to the other side. Even with mums help Esther and Jacob still ended up with balls on their side. I then chatted to them about it not being possible to get rid of our own sin. However, there was a way of getting rid of it. I gathered all the balls up an said when Jesus died and rose again for us He beat the power of sin. We then went to the toilet and flushed all the balls away, much to their delight. I explained that even when we follow Jesus we still sin but Gods Holy Spirit lives in us helping us to become more like Jesus. The other thing I added was the promise in the Bible that when we say sorry for our sins, God forgives us but also forgets them as if they’ve been flushed away!

(I must add a plumbing warning to this activity. One of my friends tried it and at the crucial bit of flushing the ‘sins’ away, the toilet got a bit blocked. Thankfully a bit of prodding helped. Maybe for the purpose of this exercise you could limit the number of ‘sins’)

2. Silly snack idea (from Pinterest)

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3. Impossible jump

This was by far my most favorite activity. We made a line with a piece of string at the far end of the carpet and set the challenge to jump over it (feet had to start at the lower end of carpet). J quickly pointed out it was impossible. I said that it was a bit like us trying to make our own way to God by leading a good life. No matter how hard we try we can never do it. I then said because of Jesus, God was able to step over the line as our sins no longer separated us from Him if we choose to follow Him. I then stepped over the piece of string and for the next 5 min the kids took it in turns to take a run and jump into my arms from the other room. After a while I collapsed on a heap on the couch. I was able to say to them that although we all get tired and worn out and need to sleep, God never does  He never slumbers or sleeps (Psalm 121:4) And always welcomes us into His loving arms.

4. Apple experiment

I asked J to take a bite out of an apple and asked how it tasted, good was the response. I suggested we leave the apple for a week and see what happens to it. As you see below it went very brown and unappealing. I compared this to sin saying at first sin can be attractive and we can enjoy it but after a while it begins to destroy us And makes us feel dirty and bad inside. However, I emphasised that this was the end and we ceremoniously dropped it in the bin. I explained that when we chose to be a follower of Jesus, the Holy Spirit lives inside us and makes our hearts clean again. Although as Christians we will still sin, Gods Holy Spirit helps us become more like Jesus.

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5. Dominoes

We tried to set up dominoes in different shapes and letters and then knock them down. While I was putting each domino up I compared them to sins. Sometimes we can get away with sins by not getting caught or convince ourselves it wasn’t that serious. However, one sin often leads to another and eventually sin destroys our lives, bringing hurt, pain etc.

We then had a look at some clips on youtube of massive domino tracks. Great fun. Couldn’t help myself but point out how sin doesn’t just effect us but hurts others too.

6. Let’s dance

It’s a bit cold here in Glasgow at the moment so nothing beats a dance around the room to some kids worship song or any music really. I recommend Rizers, Go fish and Colin Buchanan (warning re Colin Buchanan – you do start singing the songs in an Ozzy accent!)
I suggested to J that he do some silly actions and I would copy him. Exhausting work but definitely warmed us up! I pointed out to J at the end that sometimes we can copy others in our attitudes and behaviour and that the Bible says the best way to live is by following Jesus.

(NOTE I adapted some of these ideas from the following sources
http://www.churchleaders.com/children/childrens-ministry-how-tos/160571-6-ideas-for-teaching-kids-about-sin.html?p=2

Thoughts

At a ladies bible study recently we are looking at Hosea and while the children are not quite ready for the book itself, it served as a reminder to me of how faithful our God is. Peoples’ ultimate sin of rejecting God started in the garden of Eden when Adam and Eve believed the lie and thought they could find happiness apart from Him. Throughout the whole of the Bible and history people have sought personal happiness and we like the Israelites often seek fulfilment through created things rather than our creator. Despite our rebellion and Gods hate for sin He remains faithful. In the garden of Eden, in Hosea and throughout Gods word He promises that he will make a way for us to be His again.

Last week when the boys returned to school and E was at granny’s I sat for most of the day playing lego!! My main purpose was to find in the vast metropolis of lego pieces one complete set for J who is 6 and blessed with lots of hand me down lego. Several times I was tempted to give up and felt guilty about wasting my time. While sitting there it occurred to me that what I was doing was a very small parallel to what God does for us on a daily basis as His mercies are new every morning (Lamentations 3:23-24).

Firstly, just as in Creation God brings order out of chaos. In Genesis one God creates everything perfectly and describes it as “good”. Satan then comes with his lies and brings chaos, disaster and separation from God our main source of true happiness. Jesus says in John 10:8-10 says “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly”.

The second parallel I thought of while rummaging through lego was the verse Matthew 7:11 “If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!”. My efforts to find missing pieces of lego of course pale into insignificance compared to our Heavenly Father who never sleeps or slumbers, does not give up and continually works things out for the good of those who trust in Him (Psalm121:4).

Lastly I remembered life is not about what God wants to give me or any of His children. Both of these promises above are not dependent on our circumstances and not promises for material prosperity or even health. They are promises that God Himself will walk with us through life, whatever it brings. In Him alone will we find true joy. Yes, I was making up a lego set for J who was delighted when he received the gift. Ultimately though I wanted him to love me more than the lego.

The story and the song

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The Jesus Story Bible chapter 1- Story and the Song

Activities

1. Making Music
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We made a kazoo and used it to sing along to “Make a joyful noise to the Lord” by the Rizers (see below for link) and chatted about how Gods love for us can make us want to sing for joy.

Instructions for kazoo:
Put some greaseproof paper around the top of kichen roll holder and secure with an elastic band. Make a hole near the top of the kitchen roll. Decorate and hum or sing into it for a great noise.

2. Other instrument ideas are:
Guitar – Elastic bands around an old tissue box
Rice shaker – put rice inside a used kitchen roll. Cover both sides with greaseproof paper and secure with Sellotape and/or elastic bands. Decorate if you like.

3. Breaking the rules, basketball.
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As the story suggests I emphasised to the kids that the Bible is not a book of rules. We did however have a chat about how there are rules in the Bible and they help us to live the way God wants us to live and that He knows what’s best for us because He made us.

My sons love basketball and I took the opprtunity while they were playing one day to suggest that they play without rules for a while. Up until then there had been a few arguments about rules and cheating. They played for about 2 minutes without rules and then got fed up. We chatted afterwards about the need first and foremost to love and enjoy the game and that we need rules to make the most of the game. Similarly in life we need to love God first “with all our hearts, soul and mind” (Deuteronomy 6:5) and the rules set out in the Bible help us to live for Him rather than ourselves.

Songs

I lift my eyes up Brian Doerksen

Make a joyful noise
Song Tracks: http://www.worshiphousekids.com/31926/

Thoughts

One of my favourite psalms and worship song is “I lift my eyes up” (Psalm 121) by Brian Doerksen. In times of discouragement and difficulty I have found it helpful to look up at the beauty and magnificence of the sky, knowing that God, my God placed it there for His glory and that whatever is going on down here on earth He is in control. The first chapter of the Jesus story Bible starts with a paraphrase of Psalm 19 “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.”.

I recently read of a woman who survived Aushwitz. In her journal she had recorded that although her body was fevered and her surroundings atrocious she was able to catch a glimpse of the sky and found hope in knowing God was her strength despite her circumstances. I am reminded of one of John Pipers famous quotes “God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him”.

An image that springs to mind as I write this is of one of my friends at a toddler group who has a 2 month old baby. As she was talking to me earlier this week I couldn’t help but be distracted by her baby boy gazing up at her with the biggest smile, fixing his eyes on her with complete adoration, dependance and trust. This is how God wants us to be with Him. Hebrews 12:1,2 Paul tells us to;
“throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.”

The rest of chapter 1 emphasises that the Bible is not a book of rules or a book of heroes but a story of how God loves His children and comes to rescue them.