Just for one

Would you still teach Sunday School or Children’s Church if you had only one student?

Many weeks of late I have grappled with this question. I had a class of 5-6 teenagers, but several of them graduated in the last two years until it shrunk to 2 youth. We still have a small handful of children whose mom was their teacher so I stepped back into the elementary age bracket to give her a respite from teaching.

However, I have also been dealing with some physical illness issues for the past two years and trying to keep on teaching each week. Several times I have become discouraged and tempted to give up teaching, but each time I feel a strong nudge from the Spirit of the Lord, urging me to continue – even if there’s only one child there.

I couldn’t understand why I felt so strongly about being there  for those kids. I mean, after all, most people retire to let others take over when they start getting older and especially if they are dealing with illness. But then I read this verse today in my daily devotions:

[ Psalm 116 ] I love the Lord, for he heard my voice; he heard my cry for mercy. Because he turned his ear to me, I will call on him as long as I live.

Psalm 116:1-2 NIV

All of a sudden it hit me. I don’t want to give up teaching because I was 8 years old when a Sunday School teacher told me about God’s love for me at a time when I was struggling with some pretty nasty issues of abuse in my life. Her words helped me to call on Jesus one night. I ran into his arms and he has been my Friend, Comforter, Savior and Guide ever since on this journey.

In my heart I  know I must keep teaching and sharing that message of the love of Jesus as long as I can – even if there’s just one in my class and even if I’m having a rough day physically.

Jesus took time to minister to me –  one hurting scared little girl and it made a difference in my life. How can I do any less? What about you? Would you continue to minister to just one child?

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10 Ideas to help support missions

” Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your strength.”  Ecclesiastes 9:10 a  New Life Version (NLV)

Want to give to missions or help in some way, but don’t know how?

Here’s some ideas to get you started:

1. Write to a missionary. When you develop a personal relationship with them, your priorities shift and you begin to care more about their welfare and needs!

2. Save your change for missions. A little goes a long way. By putting his change into a cup each night, Pastor Dan was able to save over $30 last year. That’s $30 a missionary might not otherwise get and chances are you won’t miss it.

3.Talk about what you’re doing for missions on your social media sites. Be aware that there are missionaries in sensitive areas who need to remain anonymous – please respect that, But otherwise, promote missions on Facebook, Twitter and other social networks when you can.

4. Educate yourself about problems the missionaries face in the areas where they work.

5. Be a walking billboard – advertise missions organizations on your tee-shirts or purchase items made by people in other countries. Why not -we “advertise” everything else????

6. Pray! Find out what their needs are and get specific in your prayers. Pray alone and have get-togethers specifically to pray for missions.

7. Use your talents to spread the word and raise money for missions. I have a novel and now am making dolls to sell for missions. What has God given you to do?

8. Keep informed about the missionaries you support by subscribing to newsletters, reading newspaper stories about their countries, etc.

9. Fast one day per month for your missionaries.  16. Partner with corporate sponsors for seasonal promotions.

10. Forward missionary prayer requests to others on your e-mail lists. (Why not? We forward everything else!)

These are just a few suggestions. I’d love to know what you come up with!

So What has God given you to do?  Give it all you’ve got today!

Ants on parade (A women’s picnic devotional idea)

Having a women’s picnic this summer and need a devotional? I’ve got just the thing!

I used this devotional for our Christian Women’s Prayer Connection summer picnic this week to show just a few lessons ants can teach us about praying.

Scripture:

Proverbs 6:6 “Look to the ant…consider her ways and be wise.” (This and all scriptures used  are from the 21st Century KJV found on Bible Gateway)

Lesson points:

1. Ants ate attracted to sweets.
I made and handed out these sweet little picnic baskets with a template purchased from Paper Wishes and filled it with sweet treats for each lady attending.

Scripture:Psalm 34:8 O taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the man that trusteth in Him!

This teaches us to make prayer a sweet time of fellowship between ourselves and the Lord so that we are attracted to our time of prayer. When prayer is a chore or duty, it can leave a sour taste in our mouths and we are reluctant to pray as we should. but when fellowship with our Lord is sweet, we relish our time with him. If we always include praise and bonding time with Jesus in our prayer time, it becomes richer and more inviting.

2. Ants can lift up to 20 times their body weight.
Scripture:Bear ye one another’s burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ. Gal 6:2

Wow just imagine if we apply that one to prayer! We pray so passionately for ourselves when we have a need. Yet our prayers for others consist of  “Bless  them, Lord. Amen.”  We have the ability and spiritual strength to pray just as passionately for others as we help them bear their burdens.

3. Ant’s legs are made for speed.

Scripture: James 1:19  Therefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath…   

After Hurricane Katrina, I remember hearing some people say that Katrina was God’s judgement on New Orleans. These folks were quick to criticise those who were suffering, but yet, none of them were praying faithfully for the hurricane victims – a fact that irritated me to no end. As prayer warriors, we have a need for speed – to hurry to prayer for those who are suffering and to be slow to criticize them. 

4. Consider the Driver or Soldier Ants.
These varieties of ants are  single-minded and united in purpose.  When they move from one place to another, they move together and nothing can stand in their way. They literally destroy everything in their path.

Prayer is such a forceful weapon of spiritual warfare that when we gather together with a single-minded purpose to pray, we can literally disrupt and destroy the works of the Enemy! Look what happened on the Day of Pentecost in Acts Chapter 2!

Close your devotional time  with prayer, taking time to bear each other’s burdens and to pray for a harvest of souls.

Other things you can do to  make it a memorable devotional time:
Decorate the tables with red and white checked cloth. Add plastic ants as decorations. Serve “ants on logs” (raisins on top of peanut butter or cream cheese stuffed celery). Photocopy small ant clip art and attach to tooth picks for  your veggie or meat trays.

A devotional for a tea party!

Over the weekend I was invited to speak to a group of wiggly, giggly girls, ages 6 to 14 at a sleepover! Yep! There were 80 girls and leaders there from several churches having the time of their lives with “high tea, ” minute-to-win-it games, a craft, movies and just plain fun.

Our devotional time didn’t get started until:00 PM – so I was concerned that they may be running on adrenalin, but they were so well behaved!

Here are the devotional thoughts i shared with them:

Having Tea with Jesus (Pictures will be posted shortly)
Purpose: Giving a picture of our relationship with Jesus through various tea cup and mug illustrations.
Introduction – share an invitation to have tea with Jesus. (He asked me to bring my own mug in the invitation so I went rooting through my bag to find the perfect mug to take along) 

1. A miniature china tea set – Too small to drink out of, but a good reminder of two sisters in the Bible who had “tea” with Jesus. I told the story of Mary and Martha. The ornate miniature tea set reminds me that it is important to spend time with Jesus listening to what He says.

2. A miniature mug with my name on it (Any mug with your name on it will do.) This mug reminds me of 2 things – the first is that Jesus knows my name. That means He loves me and wants to spend time with me, He hears my prayers and knows everything about me. This makes a great relationship. but it also reminds me that I need to spend time talking to Him about other things than just what I want. Time with Jesus is not just about me or gimme, gimme praying. I can talk about how much I love Him, I can listen to Him and I can talk about the things we can do together as well as praying about things for other people.

3. A pretty tea cup that is dirty inside. This  tea cup looks pretty, but it isn’t useable. It reminds me that I was once filled with sin until Jesus came in and cleaned up my heart. Sometimes I still sin and need to ask for forgiveness for my attitudes and actions.

4. Another pretty china cup with a crack in it. – Talk about those who need Jesus – they are precious to Him, but often their hearts are “broken” because of the hurts or pain inflicted on them by another person.  (abuse, trafficking – our girls mission project was for a missionary who helped trafficking victims). I shared how this isn’t just about girls over seas, but many around us are hurting and broken hearted too. Jesus is the one who comes in and can fix the broken hearts.

5. A magic mug. I have 2 Kinkaid mugs which have dark shadows over each window and door. But when hot water is poured into the mug, the lights come on in the windows. I used this mug to illustrate what happens when Christ comes into our hearts – He fills us up with His love, comfort and His presence so we become clean, happy and new inside – our lives become warm and inviting to others as well so we can tell them about Jesus.

Then we had the altar call.

What a precious time as many girls raised their hands and prayed the salvation prayer with me! Feel free to use this devotional idea, substituting your own mugs  for a visual. The mugs kept the girls’ interest. and afterward they wanted to come up and see them – their favorite was the tiny mug with my name on it!
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Ten lepers healed

In addition to miracles of provision (the coin in the Fish’s mouth, and God’s miracles of protection, God performs miracles of healing. There are 25 recorded accounts of healing miracles which include the deliverance from demon posession. So you have a lot of choices for this topic.

I chose the 10 lepers for my children’s church lesson this past week because I wanted to bring out the idea of giving thanks for our healing miracles.

Lesson purpose: To show how no illness is too hard for God to heal and that we should always be grateful for the things He does.

Lesson Scripture: Luke 17:11-19

Story:

We love to act out stories in our children’s church so I took a paste of flour and water and smeared some of it on several children’s forearms. When it dried, it appeared like a patch of “leprous” skin. These children had to stand on one side of the fellowship hall while the rest of the class stood with me.  I shared the Bible history of the disease of Leprosy and what it might have been like for a person diagnosed with leprosy.

In Jesus’s day, people with leprosy were made to live outside of the community, away from their families and weren’t even allowed to go into the church to worship because of the fear that they would spread the disease.

The Sunday School Lessons Site has some great chidl appropriate  material on leprosy. We duscussed what it might have felt like to be forbidden to worship with their families in the “church” and how it felt to be regarded as different or even “not good enough”.

Then we acted out the scriptural story of Jesus healing the 10 lepers  while only one came back to say thank you.

This is interesting because  it sheds some light on why the others may not have reeturned to say thank you –
1. They were anxious to be restored to their families
2. They were anxious to be restored to their church – they didn’t recognize Jesus as God – the heart of their worship – but rather as a means to an end.

The one who came back recognized Jesus as a God’s son – One who was worthy of respect and gratitude.

Craft: This site has a great free interactive craft/visual with complete instructions you can make to illustrate the story. Print out the character page (enlarge it if you want to use it as a visual) and put it together as illustrated. I used cereal boxes to cut strudy strips and stapled the characters to the strips.

 

As an extra lesson craft,  we made cheer leading pompoms  out of tissue paper and curling ribbon for packages.  I precut the tissue paper into 1×14 inch strips and gave each child enough to make a full pompom. We laid the strips out evenly and added pieces of red, green and gold curling ribbon. The colors stood for the blood of Jesus, growing in Christ and heaven, while the white represented purity – being made clean and whole.

Activities: We made up “Thankful cheers” and sang songs with our pompoms.

Songs that work well are:

I’ve got the Joy, Jouy, Joy, Joy down in my heart
Halelu, Halelu, Halelu Halelujah, Praise ye the Lord

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