It’s time for another free, fun, flexible family devotional. Sand is everywhere in the Bible. All of the wilderness mentioned in the Bible was basically a desert environment. Those stories that occurred in sandy environments can also teach your kids something God wants them to learn.
As usual, we provide three possible Bible stories and their applications. You can choose which one you think your kids use the most. If you don’t live near a desert or beach, you can still find sand at playgrounds, your local craft or home improvement store and possibly even in your yard.
Let’s get started!
Materials: sand, container for growing something, cacti, library books or websites about the desert – particularly the wilderness near and around Israel
Procedure: Choose one of the following Bible stories and its application principles to share with your kids.
- The Israelites Wander in the Wilderness. Exodus, Numbers, Deuteronomy. So many stories happened in the wilderness. Many of them are about the same thing. Even though the Israelites had watched as God delivered them from slavery in Egypt, their faith in Him remained weak. Time and time again, they would whine or complain. They even worshipped a golden calf when Moses was gone for too long getting the Law from God! The one that caused the harshest punishment from God was when they refused to believe Joshua and Caleb who said God would help them successfully enter the Promised Land!. Even with the Bible today, we can still have weak faith. We often refuse to trust God or believe He will keep His promises, even when we see Him active in the Bible and in our lives. God wants us to not only believe in Him, but also to trust that He will keep all of His promises to us.
- Jesus Tempted in the Wilderness. Matthew 4:1-11. After his baptism, Jesus went into the desert to fast and pray before beginning his ministry. Satan came to him at the point when he was probably most vulnerable – after many days of no food. Yet, Jesus would not give in to the temptations Satan presented to him. He refused to disobey God, even though it might have given him things he wanted. Satan tempts us today. He knows when we are most vulnerable, too. Just like Jesus though, if we are prepared and lean on God to help us, we can avoid Satan’s traps and avoid sinning.
- Paul After His Conversion. Galatians 1:12-18. After Paul was converted (Acts 9:1-19), Paul writes he went to Damascus and then the desert of Arabia and stayed there for three years, before he began his full ministry. No one knows for sure how much of that time Paul was in the desert or everything that happened while he was in the desert. Some people believe verse 12 means Jesus taught Paul in the desert. Others think this verse is talking about Paul’s conversion. Either way, with Paul’s background as a former Pharisee, it is almost certain he spent much time in Bible study and prayer. He was preparing for the many things that would happen to him as he preached the Gospel for the rest of his life. Read 2 Corinthians 11:16-33 for a list of the things that happened to Paul after he left the desert. We may have times that aren’t as rough as those Paul had, but they will still be very difficult for us. It is important that we are ready when the tough times come. The best way to be prepared is to spend a lot of time studying our Bibles and praying – just like Paul.
Tell your kids the Bible story and application principles you have chosen. Ask them what it is like living in a desert. Without plumbing, how would they get water? What could they eat for food? In the case of the temptation of Jesus, he was fasting. How hard would it be to fast that long in a place that was probably very hot and dry?
Show them the pictures you have found showing the desert. Share with them any information you learned. If your kids couldn’t answer the questions earlier, can they answer them with this added information?
Ask older children why they think people like Jesus and Paul went into the desert areas to think, pray and possibly even study. What can we learn from them and how they chose to spend their time in a quiet place with God?
Use sand, your container and cacti to create a desert container or terrarium. Encourage each other to use it as a reminder to study the Bible or pray when ever you see it. End your time discussing other ways you can encourage each other to read your Bible and pray every day.