Fun Family Devotional on Gratitude

Having a grateful heart and thanking God regularly for His many blessings can help your kids be more appreciative and generous. It doesn’t come naturally to many children – especially as they grow older. How can you encourage them to be more aware of their blessings and that they all come from God? This fun family devotional is a good starting point.

Grab a Bible, some plain paper and art supplies like markers, crayons or even paints. Before starting, you may want to draw a large heart on a sheet of paper for each of your younger children. (You can have older children draw their own hearts on their paper before doing the activity.)

Read the story of the Ten Lepers found in Luke 17:11-19. Focus especially on the gratitude of the last leper who returned to thank Jesus. Ask your kids why they think one leper came back to thank Jesus. Have them share why they think the others did not return to thank Jesus.

Remind your children that God expects us to be grateful for everything He has given us. Ask them why our gratitude or thankfulness is important to God. (You may have to ask them to think about how they would feel if they gave someone a very special present and the person opened their gift, shrugged and walked away.)

Give your kids the sheets of paper with the hearts drawn on them. Explain to them that God gives us many gifts because He loves us. Tell them you want them to illustrate as many things on their drawings as they can of things for which they should thank God. Encourage them to put personal things, as well as things everyone would have in common.

Once your kids have completed their artwork, have them share what they drew. Encourage them to add new items to their drawings if they wish. Ask your children to think of ways they can thank God for His gifts. (Make sure taking good care of them – stewardship – is mentioned as part of the discussion.) Encourage them to use their drawings this week as they pray, to help them remember to thank God for the many blessings He has given them.

How to Stop Everyone From Nagging You (A Special Post for Kids, Spouses and the Occasional Parent!)

Note: Tired of having to constantly remind others to do what they should be doing? Share the somewhat silly post below, then have a family discussion about the suggestions in the article. Why is having to be constantly reminded to do something, a possible sign of a “heart” problem? What needs to change in the ways you interact with one another?

Are you tired of everyone nagging you? Ever wonder why they don’t know you are already well aware of what they are constantly bothering you about? What if I told you there is a method you can use to eliminate almost all of the nagging people do that bothers you?

This method involves an exercise that will take a little work at first, mainly because you probably have several people bugging you about different things. It’s easy once you get the hang of it though, and will usually stop any future nagging as soon as you use it.

Step 1: Make a list of every person who nags you. Beside their name, list the things they are constantly bugging you about. This list needs to be very thorough or the method won’t work well.

Step 2: Accept that these things are very important to the person listed beside them. The reasons don’t really matter – you probably wouldn’t think they were all that great anyway. You just have to accept that the quirks that make them so lovable include an unreasonable expectation that you do these things consistently and in a manner they consider timely.

Step 3: Remind yourself of the Golden Rule – Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Is there a special possession you don’t want people to borrow without asking or perhaps even touch? Or something you are having to constantly remind others to do because it is important to you? Would you want them to respect your wishes, even if they thought you were being silly about it? Then you need to give the people that are nagging you the same respect about the things that are important to them.

Step 4: This step is crucial. Get up right now and do everything on that list. If it is something that needs to be done on a regular basis, do it immediately whenever the opportunity arises (like putting dirty clothes in the hamper).

That’s it! Repeat the exercise whenever you notice someone has begun nagging you. If you are really paying attention, you can complete the exercise before they even have a chance to nag you. That generally leaves them speechless for a time.

Remember, as unreasonable as others’ requests may seem, they are critically important to them. You will most likely never convince them those things are optional or unimportant. Your time is better spent completing the exercise, thereby giving yourself the peace you so richly deserve!

Fun Way to Teach Your Kids About Serving Others

Remember the story of the Good Samaritan? A man was robbed, beaten and left to die on the side of the road. The religious people who should have helped him, walked on by, too busy to help. The Samaritan, who culturally would have hated the victim, stopped and took the time to serve him.

That story should open our eyes to how important it is to God that we stop and help those He places in our path who have needs. Unfortunately, some of us are so obsessed with our own lives that we don’t even notice the people around us who need our help.

There’s a great way to teach your kids how to be more observant of those around them who need to be served. If you have the time, it’s also a great way to teach them how to use their gifts to serve others and to share their faith while serving.

Grab a Bible and read the story of the Good Samaritan to your kids. (Luke 10:25-37) Explain to your children that as sad as it was that those first people refused to help the victim, it’s even sadder when we are so self-absorbed we don’t even notice someone needs to be served.

Tell your kids you are going on a family service walk. It can be in your neighborhood or in a public place like a mall. As you walk, tell your kids you want them to be really observant and notice people that might need someone to help them in some way. With younger children you may have to give them clues like, “Look for people who look sad” or “Look for people who look like they could use an extra pair of hands to help them.”

Your kids can write down what they notice or just try and remember the things. (With young children, if they share in the moment, you may run the risk of hurting someone’s feelings.) After your walk, talk about what they noticed. Are there things they or your family can do to help those people or people like them? With older children, you can begin having discussions about discernment and how God wants us to use our resources to know the best ways to help people.

Doing this activity regularly can train your kids to be more observant of the needs of others. If your family follows up by actually serving some of the people you see, you will make an even deeper impression on your children. You may even want to encourage other families to do the same thing and then share with each other the needs you see in your community. It’s a great way to strengthen the faith foundation of your children and help them grow to their godly potential.

Fun Way to Teach Your Kids About Avoiding Peer Pressure

One of the hardest things for any child to become comfortable with is being different than their peers. Yet as Christian, they will make many choices that are different than those made by most of their peers in order to obey God. Some kids fold under the pressure and disobey God – more to fit in with everyone else than because they actually want to participate in the sin.

This activity can be a fun way to talk about strategies to avoid following the crowd when they know it means doing something God wouldn’t want them to do.

Read from Daniel chapter 1 the story introducing Daniel and his friends. Point out that Daniel and his friends were of royal blood. They had been brought to Babylon the Bible says, because they were also good looking and intelligent. They were already well educated because of their royal birth. The Babylonians wanted them to have three more years of education in their languages, customs, etc.

As part of the training they were to receive, they were to be fed the same way as the royals of Babylon were fed. This diet had several problems, that the Bible doesn’t specifically mention, but we can assume from what we know of both diets.

First the Babylonians ate some foods God had forbidden the Jews to eat or weren’t prepared the way God told them to prepare their food.  There was also a very good chance the food and drinks they were given had been sacrificed to idols before they were given to the captives. Daniel and his friends probably thought it was at the very least disrespectful to God to eat food sacrificed to false gods. Finally, the royal Babylonian diet was very heavy in meats, fats and oils. Those foods aren’t healthy to eat in the amounts the royal Babylonians evidently ate them. (Archaeologists have found ancient Babylonian recipes. Almost all of them were for meat dishes where the meat was also soaked in quite a bit of oil.)

Daniel and his friends made a special request. They wanted to eat a vegetarian diet and drink water. They suggested a test to prove this diet would make them healthier than the original diet they had been offered. While the Bible does not require us to eat a vegetarian diet, studies have shown it is a very healthy way to eat. God allows us to eat meat and in small portions, meat can provide things our bodies need like iron and protein.

Ask your kids what the other young men in captivity might have said or done when Daniel and his friends rejected the royal diet they were offered. What sort of peer pressure, do they think Daniel and his friends might have had to endure – not just from other captives, but from the Babylonians as well? Why do they think Daniel and his friends were able to stay focused on what they thought God wanted them to do in spite of what others said or did to them?

We don’t know for sure what they did to remain strong, but you and your kids might want to look at the stories of Daniel and the Lions’ Den and Shadrach and Friends and the Fiery Furnace that happen later in Daniel. It seems they had a pattern of doing what God wanted even when the pressure to disobey God might mean their death.

Ask your kids to brainstorm ways they can stand up to peer pressure when others are trying to get them to do things they know would mean disobeying God. You may even want to act out a few scenarios to help them practice some strategies. Peer pressure is never fun, but giving your kids some tools to stand up to it, can make the experience a little easier for them.

Fun Activity to Help Kids Understand Humble Service

Serving others can seem to come naturally to very young children. As they get older, however, selfishness can begin creeping into their hearts. Suddenly, humbling serving someone else can seem not so great. Yet, that’s one of the things God calls His people to do on a regular basis.

There’s a fun activity you can do with your kids to help them understand the realities of the humble service of people like Rebekah in the Bible. You will need your Bible and a sealed gallon water jug (or two) for each of your children.

Read or tell your children the story found in Genesis 24. Point out to your kids the time when Abraham sent his servant to find a wife for Isaac. Explain Rebekah most likely had a clay jug or jar which could hold three gallons of water. Have your kids attempt to lift two or three gallon jugs of water at the same time (This activity is best done outdoors – just in case!).

Place a “camel” several yards away from where your kids are standing. Give each child one or two (depending upon age and strength) gallon jugs filled with water. Make sure the tops are sealed. You can do this as a relay effort or make each child water “a camel” on his or her own. Each child should carry the jug(s) of water to the “camel” touch the camel and carry the jug(s) back to the starting point (To be really authentic, you can have a pretend “well” at the starting point.)

Stop when each child has carried the equivalent of 25 gallons of water. Stop and explain each of them has now watered ONE camel. The servant most likely had four or more camels. You can continue until they have each watered four camels or until they are tired. Discuss how much hard work it was for Rebekah to water the camels. What might it have shown about her character that she was willing to do that for a stranger? Why might that be important to God and to the servant that she was that willing to serve others?

Discuss how she humbly watered the camels without complaining or expecting the servant to help her. Ask them how hard that must have been for her. What ways might God want them to serve others that are difficult? How can they remember to have an attitude of humble service – even though they are tired by the difficult task?