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Lesson 67: Why You Should Hate Your Life (John 12:24-26)

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September 21, 2014

If I wanted to preach a sermon that appeals to a wide audience, I probably should come up with a different title than, “Why You Should Hate Your Life.” For one thing, it’s a downer. It’s not a happy title. There’s already enough doom and gloom in this world, so why preach a sermon about hating your life? For another thing, not many people wonder about, “How can I hate my life?” It doesn’t help build self-esteem and we all know that building our self-esteem should be one of our main goals in the Christian life, don’t we? (In case you can’t tell, I was being facetious!)

But here’s why I think “Why You Should Hate Your Life” is a good title for a sermon: Because Jesus said that we should do it! And it’s not something that you will fall into naturally without thought or effort. To do it, you’ve got to think carefully about what it means and work at it daily. It’s not a “do it once and you’re done” kind of thing. Also, Jesus said that if I hate my life in this world, I will keep it to life eternal. So this isn’t just some self-help advice about how to have your best life now. It’s about your eternal destiny! So we need to be clear on what Jesus meant and how we should apply it!

We shouldn’t brush aside any of Jesus’ teachings, but when He repeats a message often, we really need to pay attention. He gives us a “heads up” when He begins (12:24) with, “Truly, truly ….” That means, “Wake up! Don’t miss this! Think carefully about this because it’s important!” He proceeds to talk about Himself—He is the grain of wheat that dies so that it will bear much fruit. But in that, Jesus is also our example. We are to die to ourselves so that we bear much fruit. Then He applies it directly to us in verse 25 in the form of a paradox, followed by a motivational promise as to why we should do this (verse 26).

Jesus taught the same truth with slight variations in Matthew 10:37-39; 16:24-27; Mark 8:34-38; Luke 9:23-26; 14:27; & 17:33. To cite Mark 8:34-38:

And He summoned the crowd with His disciples, and said to them, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it. For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul? For what will a man give in exchange for his soul? For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will also be ashamed of him when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels.”

Jesus’ words apply to everyone who wants to follow Him. He assumes that we all want to save our lives. But He tells us that the way to save our lives is to lose them for His sake and the gospel’s. And, He’s talking about saving or losing our lives eternally, as the comment about coming “in the glory of His Father with the holy angels” shows. So it’s vitally important to understand and apply Jesus’ words in our text. The message is:

You should hate your life in this world because you want to follow Jesus, serve Him, and be with Him forever.

We see: The servant’s model: Jesus (12:24); the servant’s mandate: to hate our lives in this world (12:25); and, the servant’s motivation: to be with Jesus and to be honored by the Father (12:26).

1. The servant’s model: By laying down His life on the cross, Jesus bore much fruit (12:24).

Jesus said (John 12:24), “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.” Jesus was referring to the cross. He is the grain of wheat that fell into the ground, died, and bore much fruit. By giving His life as a ransom for many, Jesus “brought many sons to glory” (Mark 10:45; Heb. 2:10). He bore much fruit.

We can never imitate Jesus in His substitutionary death for the sins of others. His death was unique because Jesus is unique. He is the only God-man. He is the eternal Word made flesh, who came as the Lamb of God to take away the sins of the world (John 1:14, 29). Only Jesus could do that.

But in another sense, His death was an example for us all. During His short ministry on earth, Jesus was constantly dying to Himself as He loved others. We see a graphic example of that in John 13, where Jesus took a towel and a basin of water to wash the disciples’ feet. That was the job of a servant. But Jesus did it as an example of how we are to lay aside our lives to serve one another (John 13:15). The culmination of Jesus’ dying to Himself was when He literally laid down His life on the cross for us. That’s how He bore much fruit. When we follow Him by daily dying to ourselves to serve others, we will bear much fruit, and so prove ourselves to be His disciples (John 15:8). Jesus applies His example to us in verse 25:

2. The servant’s mandate: To follow Jesus, you must hate, not love, your life in this world (12:25).

John 12:25: “He who loves his life loses it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it to life eternal.” In the Greek text, the first two words translated “life” are psyche, which is often translated “soul.” The last “life” comes from zoe, which refers to the eternal life that God gives. Jesus assumes that we all want to keep our souls (or lives) to life eternal. But here’s the paradox: the way to keep your life is to hate it. The way to lose it is to love it. Also, this isn’t just aimed at the dedicated few who want to go to the mission field or become martyrs for the sake of the gospel. This is a mandate for all who follow Jesus (Mark 8:34). All that follow Him are in the daily process of hating their lives in this world. They are the ones who keep their lives eternally.

So, what does it mean to “love your life in this world” and “to hate your life in this world”? Let’s look at both sides of it:

A. To follow Jesus, you must not love your life in this world.

Note three things about loving your life in this world:

1) Loving your life in this world means living with this life only in view.

That’s what Jesus means by “in this world.” It’s to live as if this world is all there is, so get all the gusto you can now. It’s to live for “your best life now.” That’s the stupidest title for a supposedly Christian book that I’ve ever heard of! Did Jesus enjoy His best life now as He endured the hostility of sinners against Him and went to cross in His early thirties? Did Paul enjoy his best life now as he suffered beatings, imprisonments, a stoning, shipwrecks, and frequent dangers for the sake of the gospel (2 Cor. 11:23-27)? Did any of the martyrs enjoy their best life now as they had their heads cut off or their bodies burned at the stake? If that book is telling you how to have your best life now by laying it down for the sake of Jesus and the gospel, “Amen!” But if it’s telling you how you can have health and wealth and a comfortable lifestyle now, then it’s completely opposed to Jesus’ teaching!

Jesus told about a man who was enjoying his best life now. He said to his soul (Luke 12:19), “Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years to come; take your ease, eat, drink, and be merry.” But God said to him (Luke 12:20), “You fool! This very night your soul is required of you; and now who will own what you have prepared?” Jesus concluded (Luke 12:21), “So is the man who stores up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.”

Those in the world live as if this life is all that there is. Their aim in life is to accumulate as much money and stuff as they think will make them happy. Their motto is, “He who dies with the most toys wins!” But Jesus says, “He loses.”

2) Loving your life in this world means living for the same things people in the world live for.

What do people without Christ in this world live for? John tells us (1 John 2:15-17):

Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever.

If greed and accumulating this world’s stuff is a temptation for you (as it is for me), I urge you to memorize those verses and rehearse them often in your mind! The merchants of this world bombard us daily with the message, “To be happy, you need the stuff that I’m selling. Buy this stuff and you’ll be happy!” I’ll be honest: I like a lot of the stuff they’re selling. And, some of it does make life more comfortable and easy to navigate. I’m thankful for computers and the Internet, which make preparing my sermons and making them available worldwide much easier. They have many other wonderful features. I’m sure that someday I’ll join the rest of the world in getting a smart phone and once I learn how to use it, I’ll like the way it makes life easier. The same can be said for many other things in the world. But, I’ve got to be on guard against loving those things. If I love those things as opposed to doing the will of God, John says, the love of the Father is not in me.

3) Loving your life in this world is the sure way to lose it.

John 12:25a: “He who loves his life loses it….” That’s the same thing as Mark 8:35a, “For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it,” which is the same as, “to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul” (Mark 8:36). Let me put it nicely: People are crazy! A story that I’ve used many times in funeral messages illustrates why:

In 1981, a man was flown into the remote Alaskan wilderness to photograph the natural beauty of the tundra. He had photo equipment, 500 rolls of film, several firearms, and 1,400 pounds of provisions. As the months passed, the entries in his diary, which at first detailed the wonder and fascination with the wildlife around him, turned into a pathetic record of a nightmare. In August he wrote, “I think I should have used more foresight about arranging my departure. I’ll soon find out.”

He waited and waited, but no one came to his rescue. In November he died in a nameless valley, by a nameless lake, 225 miles northeast of Fairbanks. An investigation revealed that he had care-fully provided for his adventure, but he had made no provision to be flown out of the area.

That was a bit shortsighted, wasn’t it? And yet, how many people live their lives without making any plans for their departure to face eternity? The statistics on death are quite impressive! You know for certain that you will be departing. And you know that you won’t be taking any of your stuff with you when you go. I read about a rich guy once who was buried in his Cadillac. But he’s not driving it now! As they say, you never see a hearse towing a U-Haul!

So why don’t more people—including the Lord’s people—think more seriously about Jesus’ words (John 12:25a): “He who loves his life loses it…”? Our goals, our desires, the way we spend our money and our lives, should not be focused on this life only. Loving your life in this world is the sure way to lose it. Let’s look at the flip side:

B. To follow Jesus, you must hate your life in this world.

You ask, “Am I supposed to become a monk, take a vow of poverty, wear hair shirts, have no contact with the outside world, and spend hours singing Gregorian chants?” Is it wrong to enjoy life? What does it mean to hate my life in this world?

To “hate” our lives (John 12:25) is the same thing as denying ourselves and taking up our cross daily to follow Jesus (Luke 9:23). It means that we must daily repudiate a self-centered life. It means living for God’s glory and His purpose by submitting every thought, word, and deed to the lordship of Jesus. It means moment by moment seeking to love God and love others for Jesus’ sake by saying no to my inherent selfishness and pride. Here are two things to consider about hating your life in this world:

1) Hating your life in this world is not the way to gain eternal life, but rather a characteristic of all who have eternal life.

When Jesus says (John 12:25b), “he who hates his life in this world will keep it to life eternal,” He is not describing how to obtain eternal life, unless we understand hating our life in this world to mean denying all trust in our own good works and trusting in Christ alone for salvation. But I think rather by “hating his life,” Jesus is referring to the daily, lifelong process of dying to self as we live for Him. That process is characteristic of all who have truly trusted in Christ for salvation. If you’re not engaging in the daily battle of fighting your own selfishness and pride, you may need to ask, “Have I truly repented of my sins and trusted in Christ as my Savior and Lord?”

2) Hating your life in this world means dying to selfishness in order to love others for Jesus’ sake.

“Hating your life in this world” is the same thing as “taking up your cross daily” to follow Jesus (Luke 9:23). Many Christians think that to bear their cross means putting up with a difficult mate or with a painful malady, like arthritis or back pain. But taking up your cross is not an unavoidable trial that you must endure. Jesus says that it is a daily activity that you choose to embrace. In Jesus’ day, the cross wasn’t an implement of irritation, inconvenience, or even suffering. The cross was an instrument of tortuous, slow execution. Jesus’ hearers knew that a man who took up his cross was, for all practical purposes, a dead man. A man bearing his cross gave up all hope and interest in the things of this world, including self-fulfillment. He knew that in a very short time he would be leaving this world. He was dead to self.

Taking up your cross or hating your life in this world is not something you achieve in an emotional moment of spiritual ecstasy or dedication. You never arrive on a spiritual mountaintop where you can sigh with relief, “I’m finally there! No more death to self!” Nor are there any shortcuts or quick fixes to this painful process. The need to hate my life or die to self is never finished in this life; it is a daily battle. A. T. Pierson said, “Getting rid of the ‘self-life’ is like peeling an onion: layer upon layer—and a tearful process!”

Jesus’ death on the cross was the supreme act of love in human history. While, as I said, we can’t die to pay for others’ sins, to the extent that we follow Jesus’ example by dying to our own selfishness for the sake of others’ ultimate good, we are imitating His example of love. In other words, self-sacrifice for others’ highest good is the essence of biblical love. In Ephesians 5:2, Paul exhorts, “Walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma.” Later he applies it to husbands (Eph. 5:25), “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her….” Love is a self-sacrificing commitment that seeks the highest good of the one loved. And love is the supreme mark of the Christian, the first fruit of the Holy Spirit (John 13:35; Gal. 5:22).

I’m a husband and I see a lot of Christian husbands who fail to apply this on a daily basis with their wives, so I’m going to talk about that for a moment. If you’re in a different role, it applies to you, so you can adapt the application for your situation. But I see a lot of husbands who think that being the head of their homes means being the king of their homes. And kings don’t serve others. Kings are served by others. So they don’t serve their wives and kids; they expect their wives and kids to serve them. If they want to do something, they do it without a thought about how it may affect their wife and kids. If they want to buy a new toy, they buy it without talking to their wife about her needs. In other words, they’re living selfishly. They’re not hating their lives in order to love others for Jesus’ sake. But hating your life in this world means dying to selfishness in order to love others for Jesus’ sake.

Maybe by this point you’re wondering, “Why would I want to die to myself and live for Christ and others?” That leads to:

3. The servant’s motivation: If we serve Jesus and follow Him, we’ll bear much fruit, we’ll be with Him forever, and the Father will honor us (12:26).

John 12:26: “If anyone serves Me, he must follow Me; and where I am, there My servant will be also; if anyone serves Me, the Father will honor him.” Two brief comments:

A. To serve Jesus, you must follow Him with the goal of bearing much fruit.

Jesus assumes that all His people will serve Him. And all who serve Him must follow Him. This means obeying His teachings and commandments, of course. But in the context, it especially means following Him by dying to self so that we might, like Jesus, bear much fruit. As He will tell the disciples (John 15:16), He chose them so that they would bear fruit. If the Lord has chosen you, then that’s your purpose. Fruit refers to all character qualities, behavior, and service that He produces in and through us as we abide in Him. Then comes the motivation:

B. If we serve and follow Jesus, we will be with Him forever and the Father will honor us.

Jesus here doesn’t say that He will be with us, although that is true (Matt. 28:20). Rather, He says that we will be with Him. In John 14:3, He promises, “If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also.” “Where I am” refers to heaven. To be with Jesus in heaven throughout eternity is more than sufficient reward for all of the trials and persecution that we may go through in this life! And on top of that, Jesus promises that the Father will honor us! I’m sure that we can’t imagine what that entails, but all the honors that this world can give will pale by comparison to the honor that the Father will give to those who have faithfully served His Son.

Conclusion

One writer (Luccock, cited by Ralph Earle, The Gospel According to Mark [Zondervan], p. 108) observes that a mummy is the best preserved thing in human history. If you want to make yourself a spiritual mummy, then try to preserve your life. Jesus says, “You’ll die alone.” But if you die to self for Jesus’ sake, you’ll bear much fruit. So why should you hate your life in this world? Because you want to follow Jesus and be like Him. You want to serve Him and be with Him forever. Remember the famous words of missionary martyr Jim Elliot: “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.”

Application Questions

  1. Discuss: If you die to self to serve others, won’t you become a doormat who gets used by others? When is it okay to say no?
  2. Does hating your life in this world mean that it’s wrong to have fun and enjoy life? Support your answer from Scripture.
  3. What are some practical ways that you can serve your family (or roommates if you’re not living at home)?
  4. To what extent should Christians be motivated by eternal rewards? Can the rewards motivation taint us? Cite Scripture.

Copyright, Steven J. Cole, 2014, All Rights Reserved.

Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture Quotations are from the New American Standard Bible, Updated Edition © The Lockman Foundation

Related Topics: Christian Life, Discipleship, Spiritual Life

5. Why We Should Pursue Faithfulness (1 Corinthians 4:1-21)

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1 Corinthians (part five)

The more I read the Bible, the higher I elevate the importance of our faithfulness. It summarizes our job description on earth. The measuring stick God uses to evaluate the quality of our lives seems to have the word "faithfulness" inscribed on it. Certainly, faithfulness to God is not impressive in the eyes of the world. It may not look like success to those who don't know Christ; they may even criticize us for doing the things that God praises. But we have one ultimate, objective Judge who knows our hearts and our motives in addition to our actions. If you're around me much, you're going to hear this notion of faithfulness repeated over and over again. Be faithful, trust God for the results, and invite others to a life of faithfulness.

Related Topics: Christian Life, Spiritual Life

Issue 019. 2014 October Bible.org Translator's Newsletter

Thank You!

This last few months has resulted in 16 new translated articles being added to the site. We have added our main salvation article into two more languages (Hindi and Swahili), and are always appreciative of the gospel being made available to more people. Please pray that God uses it in the spread of His kingdom. Thank you for your hard work, Mariza, Jenny, Roma, and David!

What a blessing to be able to provide these new resources to our readers around the world. Thank you all for your ongoing translation work. See the Languages and Articles Here.

Hints and Tips

Tip: Want to double-check a hard section to translate? Want to know more about the way a word or phrase has been translated by others in other real translations?

Linguee (http://www.linguee.com/) has an interesting resource that I highly recommend you check out. It is not a “machine translation” like Google Translate, but it provides some translation suggestions on the left hand side of the screen while giving similar real translations for comparison in the main body of the results page. This could be an interesting tool for providing further background information on the translation of phrases that are challenging for you—in complement with traditional dictionary resources and discussion with other individuals. Currently it is available with 25 languages.

Hopefully this will be a helpful resource to you as you work on accurately translating these important messages about God’s Word!

Learn More Tips from our FAQ Section.

Awarding Faithfulness

This time we had the joy of giving out two awards for translation efforts. The first award went to Mariza for having reached the 85 article milestone. She received an ePub version of the book The Hospitality Commands by Alexander Strauch. The second award was to David for his first translation with us. He received an ePub version of the NET Bible with Full Notes. We pray that these resources are a blessing to you in your personal lives and ministry.

For further Award program details see our Awarding Faithfulness article

Know someone else who is bilingual?

If you know of anyone else who would have the time and skills to translate articles for Bible.org please consider recommending this ministry to them. Sometimes the most obvious gifts (like preaching or being a leader) are not the ones with the most impact or need. This is a real opportunity to meet a need and impact thousands and thousands of people with the truth of God’s Word. Click here to contact us and begin impacting thousands around the world

Need help, have questions, or prefer to meet in real time?

I am available and would love to answer any questions you might have. We do have a Frequently Asked Questions section on our Translation Series page, but you can always send me an email! I can also be available through Skype for a voice or chat conversation. Simply let me know through email that you would like to talk and we will get it worked out.

I look forward to hearing from you!

Click here to email us

Related Topics: Administrative and Organization

A Time for Training Wheels: Family Devotions for Three to Seven Year Olds

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As children mount their two-wheelers for the first time the eagerness and excitement of success can be seen in their glowing eyes and cocky smiles. But it only takes one spill for them to realize they are going to need some help and support to make this an enjoyable adventure. This is when training wheels become useful.

Family devotions can be like bike riding. God’s Word is an adventure waiting to be explored, but for many it can be overwhelming and difficult. A Time for Training Wheels will give you the support, ideas, direction and creative flair to make family devotions a successful adventure.

Illustrated by Jon Smail

To download a PDF or Word document version of this book click on the downloads in the Related Media Block.

Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version® NIV® Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.

Related Topics: Bible Literacy, Children's Curriculum, Children's Training Resources, Parent Resources, Christian Education, Christian Home, Devotionals, Parenting

Introduction

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Illustrated by Jon Smail

Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version® NIV® Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.

Dedicated

To the McRae family who provided a platform from which I was free to spread my wings and soar.

To my loving husband Bob whose enthusiasm, involvement and support make our family devotions into memorable events.

To April, Tiffany and Chanelle who are my precious treasures and my inspiration for it in the first place!

Table Of Contents

Section I: What We Can Do For God

1. Making Music To God

2. Pleasing God In What We

3. Learning To Talk To God

4. Learning To Obey God

5. Learning To Listen To God

Section II: Fruit Of The Spirit

1. Love (Valentine’s Day)

2. Joy

3. Peace

4. Patience

5. Kindness

6. Goodness

7. Faithfulness

8. Gentleness

9. Self Control

Section III: Old Testament Stories

1. Creation

2. Tower Of Babel

3. Lot’s Escape

4. Joseph

5. Baby Moses

6. Moses The Leader

7. Jericho

8. Gideon

9. Ruth

10. David

11. Elijah

12. Esther

13. Daniel And The Lion’s Den

14. Jonah

Section IV: Devotions For Outdoors

1. Cloud Gazing

2. Bouquet

3. Nature’s Collage

4. Rock Cracking

5. God Provides Through Growing Things

6. Colors In Nature

Section V: Getting To Know Jesus

1. Jesus Is King

2. Jesus Is Perfect

3. Jesus Is Our Best Friend

4. Jesus Is To Be Obeyed

5. Jesus Is Caring

6. Jesus Is Our Savior

7. Jesus Is To Be Remembered

8. Jesus Is Always With Us

Section VI: Devotions For The Car

1. Bible Stories In A Round

2. God’s Character

3. God In Nature

4. Sing-A-Long

5. Twenty Questions

Section VII: Devotions For Special Occasions

1. Easter

2. May Day

3. Father’s Day (Card For A King)

4. Thanksgiving

5. Christmas

Weekly Devotions For A Year

If you start this in January you will find that the devotionals for special occasions will fall around the date for the celebration.

1. Making Music to God

27. David

2. Pleasing God in What We Do

28. Elijah

3. Learning to Talk to God

29. Esther

4. Learning to Obey God

30. Daniel and the Lions Den

5. Learning to Listen to God

31. Jonah

6. Love (Valentines Day)

32. Cloud Gazing

7. Joy

33. Bouquet

8. Peace

34. Natures Collage

9. Patience

35. Rock Cracking

10. Kindness

36. God Provides Through Growing Things

11. Goodness

37. Colors in Nature

12. Faithfulness

38. Jesus is King

13. Easter

39. Jesus is Perfect

14. Gentleness

40. Jesus is Our Best Friend

15. Self Control

41. Jesus Is to Be Obeyed

16. Creation

42. Jesus is Caring

17. Tower of Babel

43. Jesus is Our Savior

18. May Day

44. Jesus is to Be Remembered

19. Lots Escape

45. Jesus is Always With Us

20. Joseph

46. Thanksgiving

21. Baby Moses

47. Bible Stories in a Round

22. Moses the Leader

48. Gods Character

23. Jericho

49. God in Nature

24. Card for a King (Fathers Day)

50. Sing-A-Long

25. Gideon

51. Twenty Questions

26. Ruth

52. Christmas

Making The Most Of A Time For Training Wheels

As children mount their two-wheelers for the first time the eagerness and excitement of success can be seen in their glowing eyes and cocky smiles. But it only takes one spill for them to realize they are going to need some help and support to make this an enjoyable adventure. This is when training wheels become useful.

Family devotions can be like bike riding. God’s Word is an adventure waiting to be explored, but for many it can be overwhelming and difficult. A Time for Training Wheels will give you the support, ideas, direction and creative flair to make family devotions a successful adventure.

Can Family Devotions Happen Successfully?

The unequivocal answer is “yes’” Solomon wrote in Proverbs 22:6 “Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.” The challenge is to do this training in a creative way so we keep our children’s attention. A Time for Training Wheels meets this need. For us, family devotional nights are greeted with three cheers as together my husband and I enjoy ‘‘training our children in the way they should go.”

How Can I Make This Book Work For Our Family?

  • Keep the devotional moving. Don’t get stuck on details. Each devotional should range from 10 to 20 minutes.
  • Adapt the devotional to your setting and to your children’s attention span.
  • Do as much of the devotional as is practical for your children at their stage, needs and interest.
  • Review each upcoming devotional at least the day before so you are able to prepare without pressure.
  • Although the lessons can be applied to all, remember, this is a time for the children to learn and enjoy God’s Word.

Do I Have To Do Them All?

This book can be used in a variety of ways:

  • Take one series a year, spaced evenly throughout the 12 months. For example, the Fruit of the Spirit series has nine lessons, one of which can be done every six weeks.
  • Do only the devotionals that are designated for Special Days. These can be done before, on or after the holiday being celebrated.
  • Use this book on family vacations, allowing each person to choose the one that looks most interesting.
  • Do 1 devotional a week (there are a total of 52 in A Time for Training Wheels).

It is my prayer that you will grow as a family and deepen in your love for our God as you begin this great adventure together.

Mary-Lynn Chambers

1. Making Music To God

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Materials Needed

  • paper plates
  • stapler
  • macaroni or rice
  • empty tins with plastic snap-on lids
  • construction paper
  • glue
  • markers or crayons

Setting The Stage

In Psalm 92:1-3 we see the Psalmist praising God, making music and proclaiming with musical instruments. We need to learn to do as the Psalmist did. Note: In the upcoming months these new musical instruments can be saved and used during family devotional times to add to the singing experience.

Project

The Homemade Way

  • Take the paper plates and fill them with the dried macaroni using a stapler or glue to seal the two plates together securely. Make sure the staples are side by side so no macaroni escapes. Use the markers to decorate the plates.
  • Fill an empty tin with dried macaroni or rice and cover it with a snap-on plastic lid (coffee tins or potato chip cans work well for this). Secure the lid by taping it in place. Glue the construction paper to the outside of the tin. Using your imaginations decorate the tins so they look great and the children will be eager to use them in the future. Note: Make sure nothing will rub off on the children’s hands while they are grasping and shaking the instruments.

The Professional Way

  • Go to a department store, flee market, garage sale or music store as a family. While on the drive or walk, discuss how God enjoys music. Talk about favorite songs you could sing to God. Point out how musical instruments can help make singing fun and interesting. Take time to decide what type of instruments you would like to buy. On the drive home try out your new instruments while singing praise songs to God.

Songs

This Little Light of Mine

I Will Make You Fishers of Men

Jesus Loves Me

Memory Verse

Ps.92:1
It is good to praise the LORD and make music to your name, O Most High.

Related Topics: Children's Training Resources, Parent Resources, Christian Education, Christian Home, Devotionals, Worship

2. Pleasing God In What We Do

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Materials Needed

  • 2’ x 2’ piece of paper (can be the back of a sheet of wrapping paper or a run of computer paper taped together to form a large square) OR one sheet of paper per person
  • vanilla pudding (chocolate pudding if you do not have any food coloring)
  • two or three different colors of food coloring
  • two or three large, shallow containers (for example, a cake pan)
  • brightly colored markers

Setting The Stage

There are many ways we can please God with our bodies. Ask your children how this can be possible. Direct their answers and help them understand that we can use our mouths to encourage, hands to help, smiles to make sad people feel better, ears to listen to what our parents are saying, etc. Encourage them to think of other ways while you work on this project.

Project

1. Make the vanilla pudding (can be prepared ahead of time). Divide pudding equally and place each part in a separate large, shallow container. Add a different food coloring to each container until the desired color is achieved. The more variety in color the better. Set the containers by the large piece of paper.

2. Have the children dip their hands and feet into the different containers and place them on the paper, leaving behind a colorful hand or foot print. Try to leave space between each print for writing.

3. After all of the prints have been made, ask the children to think of something specific they could do with their hands or feet that would make God happy.

Examples:

Helping mommy by cleaning up my room (hands)

Coming quickly when I am called (feet)

4. Write the specific actions in brightly colored markers beside the prints, one appropriate action for each hand or foot print.

5. When the pudding is dry, hang the finished product on the fridge or wall as a reminder for the rest of the week of what we can do to please God.

Song

Head and Shoulders

(use original tune or Mary had a Little Lamb”)

Head and shoulders, knees and toes, knees and toes, knees and toes
Head and shoulders, knees and toes - (shout) “All For Jesus!”

As you are singing the parts of the body touch each particular part and finish the song by raising your hands and shouting “All for Jesus!”

Prayer

Each person can ask God to help him or her do one of the actions he or she wrote down.

Memory Verse

Proverbs 31:20
She opens her arms to the poor and extends her hands to the needy.

Related Topics: Children's Curriculum, Children's Training Resources, Parent Resources, Christian Education, Christian Home, Devotionals

3. Learning To Talk To God

Related Media

Materials Needed

  • five small brown paper bags or dark plastic bags (they need to be nontransparent)
  • five small items made by God. Examples: piece of fruit, plastic or real flower, Bible, stuffed animal, rock or shell.
  • children’s book on prayer or a storybook where someone had to pray
  • large piece of paper (2’ x 2’) (smaller sheets may be taped together)
  • masking tape
  • markers or crayons

Setting The Stage

There are many reasons for prayer. We often spend time in prayer only when we have a request. This devotional will help your children appreciate thanking God in prayer. Before you start, you will need to acquire a children’s book involving prayer, assemble the mystery bags, each containing one item made by God, and tape the large piece of paper to the wall.

Project

  • Read the book on prayer. If you don’t have one you can purchase one at any Christian bookstore or check one out of your church library. If neither of these options are available to you, read Matthew 14:23. Discuss the prayer of the person in the story or the content of Jesus’ prayer on the mountainside.
  • Have the 2’ x 2’ sheet of paper taped to the wall. Let each child draw a picture that depicts details from the prayer in the story just read. Encourage the reluctant and inexperienced drawers to try as well. Once the picture is drawn, let the child describe it to you.
  • With the filled mystery bags set off to the side have each person sit down. Pass the bags around and let each child feel the outside and then guess what is inside. Once the guessing is done, remove the items and ask the children what all of the items have in common. The answer is that God made them. Point out how we need to thank God for making them and that thanksgiving is part of prayer.

Prayer

Let each person pick one of the items from the bags and say a simple thank you to God for making that item.

Memory Verse

Luke 11:1b
Lord teach us to pray

Related Topics: Children's Training Resources, Parent Resources, Christian Education, Christian Home, Devotionals, Prayer

4. Learning To Obey God

Related Media

Materials Needed

  • video of Noah’s Ark (borrow from friend, Christian book store or church library)
  • box of animal crackers or stuffed or plastic animals (in pairs).
  • brown construction paper
  • glue or stapler

Setting The Stage

There are times when it is hard to obey God, but it is very important that we do so. The story of Noah will help your children understand this truth.

Project

Video:

View the video of Noah’s Ark or take the time to explain the story to your children. The story is found in Genesis 6-9. The basic details you want to communicate to your children are as follows:

  • Noah was a man who loved God. The people outside his family did not love God.
  • God was very sad that the other people were so disobedient and mean. He realized that the only way to make the world a nice place to live in was to start all over.
  • So God asked Noah to build a big boat. A boat big enough to hold two of every kind of animal as well as his whole family. They were to get inside the boat with the animals while God sent the biggest rain storm ever. Anyone who was not in the boat would die.
  • Noah obeyed God, built the boat and filled it with the animals. When that was done he and his family got on the boat. They all lived through the storm. When they were able to get off the boat they were the only ones left on the earth.
  • They started over again, but first they took time to thank God by bowing and praying. God answered by sending a rainbow. The rainbow was his promise that he would never send such a big rain storm again.

Ark:

Cut the brown construction paper in the shape of a boat and then cut a second piece the same shape and size. Glue the two pieces together at the sides and bottom leaving the top of the boat open. While the glue is drying open the box of animal crackers, empty the contents and look for matching pairs. Once the pairs have been found, take one of each kind and place them inside your glued boat. If you don’t have animal crackers, set stuffed animals around the boat.

Discussion:

Discuss why it would have been hard for Noah to obey God. Here are some ideas:

  • There had never been any rain up to that point so Noah didn’t even understand the concept of a flood.
  • The other people around him made fun of him for making a boat so big and for obeying God.
  • Noah must have wondered whether the boat was going to work and how he was going to get everyone on the boat.

Song

Trust and Obey

(use the original tune)

Trust and obey, for there is no other way to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.

Prayer

Pray about one area in which you have a hard time obeying. Example: Cleaning your room, coming when you are called, talking kindly to your brother or sister.

Memory Verse

Ephesians 6: 1
Children, obey your parents in the lord, for this is right.

Related Topics: Children's Curriculum, Children's Training Resources, Parent Resources, Christian Education, Christian Home, Devotionals

5. Learning To Listen To God

Related Media

Materials Needed

  • timer
  • tape of a religious children’s song

Setting The Stage

No matter how old you are in the faith it is hard to learn to listen to God. This devotional will help your children understand what you mean when you say, “Listen to what God is saying”.

Project

Game:

  • Take a regular kitchen timer or another household item or toy that would make a similar soft sound.
  • Have the children leave the room.
  • Turn the timer on and hide it somewhere in the room.
  • Have the children come back into the room and listen very carefully until they detect the location of the timer and find it.
  • Play the game over and over giving each child a chance to find the timer.

Questions And Principles:

Question:

How hard did you have to listen to be able to hear the ticking sound?

Principle: You have to stop and listen intently to hear what God is trying to say to you.

Question:

Through whom does God speak to you?

Principle: God can speak to you through the Bible, through older, wiser people (like your parents) or through people who really know about the Bible (like the pastor or a Sunday school teacher).

Question:

In your life whom does God use to speak to you?

Principle: Learn to know the people whom God uses (therefore name specific names).

Question:

In your life what does God use to speak to you?

Principle: Learn the tools that God uses (like music, story tapes, videos, the Bible).

Practice:

Play a song from a children’s tape and ask them what is the message of the song. You will want to listen to the song beforehand to make sure that it is a clear, easily understood message.

Prayer

Ask God to help you learn to listen to his voice as he speaks to you in a variety of ways this coming week.

Related Topics: Bibliology (The Written Word), Children, Children's Training Resources, Parent Resources, Christian Education, Christian Home, Devotionals

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