How God Speaks to Us – A Christmas Lesson illustrating God’s ways of communicating to us

MP900433113We know the Christmas story – but did you know that it provides us with a great picture of how God communicated and still communicates with people today?

1. God speaks directly to people through angels and his Holy Spirit.

He sent an angel directly to Zachariah about John the Baptist’s birth and to Mary with the message that she would bear a son named Jesus. Luke 1:5-25 and Luke 1:26-38 NIV

Gabriel appeared to the priest Zachariah while he ministered in the temple and told him he and his wife would have a son. This was a one-on-one encounter where God spoke directly to a man through an angel. Zacharaiah was able to communicate with the angel because he expressed his doubts about the message and was punished for it by losing his ability to speak until the baby was born. That must have been a long 9 months!

The same angel went directly to Mary with the message of Jesus’s birth. Again there was interaction when Mary asked the angel how it was going to happen – not expressing doubt but needing clarification. The angel responded by telling her what she needed to know. Her last words to the angel were words of acceptance of the message.

In  Luke 2:25-35 God spoke to Simeon, a devout man who lived in Jerusalem. Simeon had been praying for years about the coming of a deliverer. The Bible tells us the holy Spirit was on him and God told him through the Holy Spirit that  he wouldn’t die until he had seen God’s son Simeon recognized Jesus right away through the inner prompting of the Holy Spirit and gave a special blessing to the child and his parents.

Has God ever spoken directly to you through his Holy Spirit or through an angel How did you know it was His voice?

2. In the Christmas story God speaks through dreams to Joseph. Matthew 1:18-24 and Matthew 2:13-15  Joseph had 2 separate dreams from God with important instructions – the first time telling him about Mary’s pregnancy and that he was not to divorce her, but to marry her. the second time, he was warned to take the baby and leave for Egypt so the baby would be protected.

Has God ever communicated with you through a dream? Did you believe it? how did you know the dream was from God?

3. God spoke through preaching. The angels proclaimed Christ’s birth to the shepherds on the hillside. Luke 2:8-20 Even though this is a direct revelation to the shepherds by angels, it it different. The shepherds did not interact with the angels – they weren’t allowed to ask questions – it was more like a lecture or a sermon.

Has God ever used a preacher or a sermon to minister to you  or to speak to your heart?

4. God spoke through signs in the Christmas story. Remember the wise men? They came searching for baby Jesus because they saw his star in the east. They were astronomers who watched the sky for important events. We aren’t sure what they saw exactly – a conjunction of planets, a nova or a comet, but they sis see something – something that they interpreted as being a herald of the birth of a great king.  Because of what they saw, they came and worshipped. Matthew 2:1-2

God can use events and circumstances to speak to us today too. There are no coincidences with God – just everyday miracles where God is in cognito. looking back, can you identify times where God used events and circumstances to speak to your heart?

5. God used his Word to speak to people that first Christmas. For years there had been prophets speaking and teaching about the coming of the messiah. Isaiah was one of the most prominent. Isaiah 9:6-8All of the men in Israel would have known that prophecy.

When the wise men  came to Herod asking where the King of the Jews would be born, Herod had his advisors check God’s word.  Matthew 2:3-8 they found the references in the scrolls, the written words of the day,  that a ruler would come out of Bethlehem.

Today we have the Bible which is God’s recorded word. He uses that Word to speak and illuminate our hearts. We can read it a dozen times and each time we see something new. We can be going through something and  be reading God’s word and suddenly a verse will jump out at us that has a direct bearing on something we are going through. Has this ever happened to you?

he  uses these same ways that he did in the Christmas story.   Through his Holy Spirit, through his word, through circumstances, through others. But, he also always confirms his message through one or more sources.

That’s how we can tell it’s his voice – The things he says always line up with the Word and are always confirmed by other sources.

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You Gotta ♥ Valentine;s Day

Valentines Day really has a lot of great applications for children’s ministry.

How about some “Conversation Heart” Bingo?  Using the sayings from a (clearance) bag of candy hearts, make up some Bingo  cards.  Then pick one heart from the bag at a time and call out the saying until one of the children has a bingo. Whoever wins, gets the hearts that were called. Tie this game in with a lesson on Christ’s love  – any time of the year.

Speaking of Conversation Hearts,  About.com has a free printable page with conversation hearts, in color and black and white. There are even some blank hearts which you can customize for your lessons, activities and games. Too cute!

Kevin Savitz also offers free printable Valentine items from games to cards and even candy box patterns you can use for your children’s class. He offers a family safe free resource.

Clearance sales after Valentines’ Day offer a great time to stock up on little items for treasure chests and prizes. And you can purchase boxed valentines to give to the children the next year or to use for craft projects.

Stuffies with hearts on them make great prayer reminders:

  • Attach a prayer card with the name of  a person or situation that needs prayer to each stuffie and send it home with the child as a reminder to pray for that person or situation.
  • Or use them during prayer time in class by lining them up across the front for a month at a time. Have each toy represent one prayer need.
  • Play a memory game associated with the prayer requests to see if the children can remember  what prayer request each stuffie represents.
  • You can also pass them out during prayer time and have each recipient pray out loud for the request associated with his stuffie.
  • The animals holding little hearts are a great reminder that Jesus loves. others. Use them to pray for the salvation of loved ones.

According to Jennifer at Clip With Purpose, these after holiday sales are a great time to pick up shoe box items for Operation Christmas Child too. Don’t forget, not only will valentine candy, trinkets and stuffies be on clearance, so will winter hats and mittens which make great shoebox items. (or gift items for your class for next Christmas).

 

Looking Forward to a successful New Year

There’s something special – almost magical – about a new beginning in a new year.”This year, I’m going to do it!” We say to ourselves as we make our resolutions for the New Year. . But our good intentions are quickly followed by, “Oh well, maybe next year,” as we throw up our hands in surrender when we fail.

To illustrate this concept to my children’s church group, i asked one of the younger boys to stand in front of the group. Giving him two buttons, I instructed him to toss the buttons into a cereal bowl about 3 feet away on the floor.

He almost made it with the first button, bouncing it off the bowl. The second one missed completely.

Then I explained to the children that when we make resolutions or promises to ourselves to change our lifestyles, we often have difficulty keeping those promises. We miss the mark far more often than we hit it.

But with the Lord’s help, we can be successful in making changes in our lives. He wants us to change and to grow. Having goals  to reach those changes is important along with trusting Him for the help we need to achieve those goals as we see in Philippians 3:12-14.

The Bible has much to say about “newness” and “renewing” our lives – a great start to develop our goals for the New Year..

Christ gives us new life – 2 Corinthians 5:17

He renews our spirits – Psalm 51:10-12

He renews our strength – Isaiah 40:31

Christ renews our minds – Romans 12:2

With His “renewing” power, He can help us to set realistic goals for life-changes and He can give us the motivation and help to keep working toward those changes.

To drive that home, I gave each child a button and asked them to think of a change (or resolution) they wanted to make in the next year. Then we prayed for the “renewing power” of Christ to help them achieve those changes. As each one spoke their promise out loud, they dropped their button in the bowl.

As expected some of the buttons bounced out, allowing me to remind them that it is Jesus’s power that helps them pick up their button and keep trying as they work toward changing their lives.

Of course there’s always a joker in the bunch as one young boy promised to “hit his brother every day” – one he would have no trouble keeping! Thankfully he did change it to a promise to clean his room. LOL!

What do you want to see changed in your life this year? Rely on the renewing power of Christ to help you achieve it!

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