Fun Object Lesson to Teach Kids About Greed

Kids often think if they can just have the next new thing, they will be happy. As adults, we’ve hopefully learned that we can’t fill the space in our lives meant for God with things. There is always something new or something better or something more. Rarely, does a greedy person ever believe they have enough money or “stuff”.

There’s a fun family devotional you can do with your kids that involves an object lesson. Before your kids join you, find a tin can that has a safety cut lid with no sharp edges. Put about an inch or two of fingernail polish remover with acetone in the can. (Remover without acetone won’t work.) You will also need a huge pile of styrofoam packing noodles.

Call your kids together. Tell them about King Solomon. Remind them he asked God for wisdom, so God said He would also grant Solomon wealth because he had chosen wisdom. Read them 1 Kings 10:14-29. In today’s money, Solomon’s worth is estimated to be $2 trillion!

But when he was older, Solomon wrote the book Ecclesiastes because he learned a hard lesson about money and things. Ask your kids to make a pile of styrofoam noodles that will fill the can you have chosen. Slowly begin dropping one noodle in at a time. As you drop a noodle, ask your kids what are some of the things they would buy if they had $10. With each noodle, raise the amount of money they can spend. The noodles should be dissolving in the acetone. (Reminder this is a toxic chemical and should be watched carefully around children. Dispose of properly afterwards, so they don’t mistake it for water and drink it.)

Eventually, all of the noodles in their pile should be gone and the can still hasn’t filled with noodles. Similarly, if you made the jumps in money small enough, there should still be things they want to buy. Now start adding the remaining noodles from the original pile. Note that the can never fills with noodles and they never run out of ways to spend the money.

Explain that the acetone represents the greed that can grow in our hearts. We can feed it money and things, but it will devour them and still want more.

Read 1 Corinthians 6:10. Ask your kids what God would prefer us to have in our hearts other than greed.

Fun Family Devotional About Yeast

Cooler weather is a great time to bake bread…and it’s not as hard as you might think. This family devotional is a great way to teach your kids some important biblical principles, spend time together cooking and then have fresh, hot bread to eat or share.

Although there are a lot of Bible stories involving bread, for this devotional, we are focusing on a common ingredient of bread…yeast. The Bible actually talks about yeast in two different ways, but the same principle applies…a tiny bit of yeast can have a big impact.

Before you gather your kids, make sure you have all of the ingredients and baking equipment you will need. You will be making two batches of bread…one with yeast and one without. The recipes are slightly different because yeast breads tend to have extra ingredients. To be authentic and cook actual breads from Bible times would require lots of flours we normally don’t use in baking. These recipes call for white flour, but you could substitute a more rustic flour…the flavor will just be different.

Read Matthew 13:33. Jesus told this parable comparing yeast to the kingdom of heaven. A small amount of leaven added to bread yields more bread. Yeast is an organism. When you sprinkle it on warmed milk or sugar water, if you watch it carefully, you can actually watch it multiply. In fact you may want to do that with the yeast for the bread recipe that includes yeast. Show your kids how it is multiplying. The gases produced by the yeast are what makes bread dough with yeast double in size in just a few hours. In this parable, Jesus is telling the Apostles that the church will begin small, but grow rapidly as if it were bread dough with yeast in it.

Now read Matthew 16:5-12. In this case, Jesus is using the example of yeast as a bad thing. Thankfully, he explains his meaning to the Apostles. The teachings of the Pharisees and Sadducees were not what God wanted. Jesus was warning his Apostles that if they paid attention to these teachings, the problems they caused would be like yeast…spreading throughout everything they were trying to do for God.

If your kids are interested, you can discuss other passages about yeast like 1 Corinthians 5:6-8, Exodus 12:39, Deuteronomy 16:1-4, and Luke 13:20-21. As you are reading and discussing the passages, you can begin making the two types of bread. The unleavened bread should go in the oven as soon as the dough is completed. The dough with yeast will have to rise for several hours before baking.

When the yeast dough has doubled in size, call your kids back together. Explain that these Bible stories show how easily something that seems small can actually have a huge impact either good or bad. And sometimes, once that thing has worked it’s way into every area of our lives, it can be almost impossible to remove. That is why we must be so careful about even the small things we allow to influence us.

Show your kids the risen dough. Ask them what they could do to get rid of the impact the yeast has had on the dough. They may suggest pushing it flat again. If they have more than one idea, let them try it out on various pieces of the dough. You can make rolls with their different ideas and place them on a baking sheet covered in parchment paper. You can write the method on the parchment paper under the roll, so you can keep them straight after baking.

Regardless of what they tried, the baked rolls will still have more height than the unleavened bread. The impact of the yeast is still there. Remind them that they can be like the good yeast in the first scripture and help spread God’s kingdom or they can allow the bad yeast from others influence them to make bad choices. Ask them to think of real world examples of each type of yeast today.

Your family can enjoy the breads or if they turned out well, you may want to share them with others.

Teaching Your Kids to Hate Well

Hate seems a strange topic for a Christian parenting blog post, doesn’t it? I’ve always found it interesting that although the Bible tells us God IS love, God still has some things He hates. Since your kids are supposed to be learning how to reflect God’s image, it makes sense that God would want them to hate these things, too.

Gather your kids and ask them to name a few of their favorite foods. After they have named several, ask them to name some foods they hope you never serve them for a meal. After they name a few, ask them if it would be fair for you to say they hate those foods.

Your children’s response to that question will probably vary depending upon their age and whether or not they realize this is a family devotional. Since the topic is food, you can grant a little leeway on that particular answer. Then ask them if they think it is acceptable to hate a person or say to someone “I hate you!” when they are angry.

Hopefully, they will realize that hating people is not something God wants us to do. Now ask your kids if they have ever heard anyone say, “God is love.” Regardless of their answer, have them explain what they think that means.

After they have given a few responses, ask them,”Since God is love, can God hate something?” (not someone). Read Proverbs 6:16-19 to them. Help them list and then discuss the things these verses tell us God hates…

  • Haughty eyes
  • Lying tongue
  • Hands that shed innocent blood
  • Heart that devises wicked schemes
  • Feet that are quick to rush into evil
  • False witness who pours out lies
  • Stirring up dissension among brothers

As part of your discussion, help them think of real world examples of these behaviors today. Point out that it is actually the behaviors God hates. He still wants everyone, even people who do these things, to repent and become Christians. God loves everyone and hopes they will choose to worship and obey Him so they can spend eternity with Him in Heaven.

Ask your kids if they have ever done these things or encouraged others to do them? Do they say something when others encourage them to behave in these ways? How can they reflect God accurately in their hatred of these behaviors?

The depth of the discussion you have will depend upon the age and maturity of your kids. These behaviors and underlying attitudes are so common in humans, it’s actually important to have this same discussion regularly. Are they slipping into bad patterns or are they avoiding the things God hates? Regularly revisiting these verses will help them become part of your kids’ long term memories, ready to remind them how God feels about these behaviors and attitudes when they are tempted.

Fun Way to See God Through Your Children’s Eyes

One of the most difficult aspects of Christian parenting is truly seeing your kids’ heart for God. It’s impossible to know someone’s heart accurately unless they choose to honestly share it with you. As children grow older, they realize that filtering what parts of their heart they show to their parents can save them a lot of time and trouble. Some kids even begin portraying a false image of what is actually on their hearts, to avoid potentially upsetting others.

It’s difficult to help your child grow spiritually when you are parenting to a partial or incorrect image of their heart and what it feels and believes about God, the Bible, Christianity and more. You need to find ways to encourage your kids to reveal more about their hearts in honest ways.

Art can be a useful way to encourage kids to open up about their feelings. There is something about art that encourages those engaged in it to choose colors and images that reflect parts of who they are or what they think and feel. You can take advantage of that and find ways to use art to get your kids to open up about their personal faith.

Grab plain white paper and some art supplies. If you can afford or make some sort of art supply that is new to your children, that can make it more likely the art will be authentic as they focus on experimenting with the new medium. Participating with your kids and creating your own art work can give you more opportunities for a great discussion when you are finished.

Explain that you will give them a title for their piece of art. They can create anything using words or images that will fit the title you have given them. Give your kids a title like, “Who Is God to Me?”. Then give them the time and freedom to create their answer to that question. Have them explain their finished work of art. Ask interested questions. Why did they choose those particular things? What would they absolutely not have included in their work of art? What would someone who knew nothing about God learn from their finished creation? The more they become engaged in talking about their masterpiece, the more of their heart they are likely to reveal.

To make it more interesting, give each child a different title for their piece of artwork. Create a family art museum. Do the project more than once with different questions and different mediums. Find ways to share the finished art with others. It’s a fun way to check in periodically on your kids’ heart for God.

Fun Ways to Teach Difficult Biblical Concepts to Kids

Kids are full of questions. It can be exhausting to help them find the answers they want. When many kids reach preschool, their parents become tired of answering the constant questions. They begin evading or changing the subject. Soon kids stop asking their questions. They leave those holes in their knowledge or find other ways to get the answers they want and need.

Unfortunately, if their questions are spiritual, this can have disastrous results. Those unasked and unanswered questions by parents can lead to doubts or answers provided by people who don’t give godly answers.

There are fun ways to be proactive and teach your kids some of the more difficult concepts in the Bible. Instead of teaching your kids a bunch of big words with definitions they still may not understand, using familiar objects can make the concepts understandable and memorable.

Object lessons use an object familiar to kids and take something about that object to help them understand a more difficult and often abstract idea in the Bible. We’ve listed a few examples below to get you started.

  • The Trinity. The idea of one God who has three different manifestations is extremely abstract and difficult for even adults to fully understand. Ice, a bowl and a microwave can help. Show your kids the ice. Ask them to describe it and tell you everything they know about it. Place it in a bowl and heat it in the microwave just long enough to melt the ice, but not hot enough to create steam. Have your kids describe the water. Then place it back in the microwave (or on a pan on the stove) and get it hot enough for the water to become steam. Ask your kids to describe the steam. Point out that all three were water, but in different forms. In fact they were all from the exact same water. Draw the connections to God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit.
  • How our behaviors can be influenced by others. Take some celery (or white carnations), glasses of water and food dye. Ask your kids to describe the celery. Take particular note of the lovely green color. Make a fresh cut at the bottom of a stalk and place it in a glass of water you have colored with food dye. Observe as the celery takes in the colored water and begins to change color. Explain to your kids that others can influence our beliefs, thoughts, words and actions if we spend enough time with them. The celery did not expect to change color by hanging out in the colored water, but it did. Likewise, they can be influenced to do things God doesn’t want them to do – even if they don’t intend to disobey Him – merely by spending a lot of time with people who don’t obey God.
  • The Blood of Jesus covering our sins. Take a piece of white paper, yellow markers or crayons and red plastic wrap (depending on how dark it is, you may need more than one layer put together for this to work). Have your kids name some things that God has told us are sins. Encourage them to write or draw these sins in yellow marker on the white paper. Explain about Jesus dying on the cross for our sins and how our sins are forgiven through baptism…because the blood of Jesus covers those sins. Place the red plastic wrap (representing the blood of Jesus) over the sins your kids have written and watch them disappear. For older kids, you may also want to discuss trying to avoid sin and praying for forgiveness once they have become Christians.
  • Sins darken our hearts if we reject God and remain in sin. Grab some bread without preservatives. Cut it into the shape of a heart (dampening it slightly will make the mold grow faster). Ask your kids to name some sins. As they name a sin, have them use their hands to “put” that “sin” on their heart, by naming the sin and touching the bread with their hands (and the imaginary word representing the sin). After several “sins” have been placed on the bread, put the bread heart in a plastic baggie and seal it. Watch it for several days. Point out to your kids that at first those “sins” appear to have no impact on the bread heart. As more and more mold grows, discuss the problems with remaining enmeshed in sin. Continue until the bread is totally covered in mold. Compare it to the original state of the heart. Point out that sin can darken our hearts – especially over time.

There are many other object lessons you can find online, or you can create your own. Young children may still struggle a bit even after an object lesson, but over time object lessons can help your kids better understand and remember difficult spiritual concepts.