Preserving the Harvest Through Prayer – A prayer gathering idea

I recently became prayer coordinator for a local Christian women’s organization. As prayer coordinator, I am responsible to  plan monthly small group prayer gatherings or “prayer coffees” where the ladies pray for personal and community needs as well as supporting the larger community luncheon meetings with prayer.

Here is the meeting plan I used for November:

Theme: Harvesttable-setting-and-cake
Decoration ideas:  anything fall that relates to the harvest – apples, pumpkins, home canned goods.

Refreshments

Coffee, assorted teas or cider. Some kind of harvest type food.
I served a vintage apple cake recipe circa 1940 from my aunt called Jewish Apple Cake One of the attendees also brought a great caramel dip for sliced apples or crackers/ pretzels.

mason-jar-prayer-cardPrayer cards:

I made prayer cards which the ladies could use to write down the requests. These cards could be hung on the fridge or slipped into their Bibles – anywhere they would see them often and remember to pray through the month. For this meeting I made the prayer cards in the shape of canning jars about the size od a3x5 index card. One of the ladies jokingly said she needed a quart jar for her requests, rather than a pint sized jar. LOL!

Devotional:

Preserving the Harvest Through Prayer

Let’s do a little word association game today. Think of a one word answer and say the first word that pops into your head

Black Friday.
Crowds.
(Encourage the ladies to share their words and why they chose those words. My ladies associated  “crowds” with an unruly group of fans that recently destroyed property in their excitement following a college football game where their team won.)

Think about those crowds of people. How do you see them? (Greedy, jostling, pushy, impatient, impolite, tired angry, single-minded)

Now, how do you think Jesus sees those same crowds of people?

 Matthew 9:36. “When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.” (NIV)

Jesus had compassion on those crowds of people. He looked at them and saw their individual emptiness, their needs, their shame, their hurts. He saw their hearts!

Now think about those crowds of people and look at them the way Jesus did. What do you see now? – a tired mom with a toddler in tow, a dad worried about losing his job before the holidays, a daughter whose mom isn’t expected to make it through the holidays…. They become individual people with needs.

But if we continue to read that passage in Matthew, Jesus saw something else in the crowds.

 Matthew 9: 37 and 38. “Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few.  Pray to the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”

Here he saw more than just a crowd of people, he saw souls that needed to be harvested.

But he also saw something that saddened him – there weren’t enough laborers to gather that harvest so he told his disciples to pray over the harvest that there would be enough workers.

The devotion for today is called Preserving the harvest through prayer. Looking at the home canned food on the table we understand preserving – it’s the process of putting food into jars and preserving it so it lasts until we’re ready to eat it.  (One of my guests suggested that prayer is like the glass jar – it surrounds the person and helps to preserve them as the Lord works in their lives to bring them to himself.)

Prayer is our #1 tool to preserve the harvest! Let’s use it.Here’s several suggestions for usingthe tool of prayer to preserve the harvest:

  1. We can pray  for the individuals in the crowds.
    You might strike up a casual conversation while waiting in line at the check out. Something that is said may give you an inkling into the needs of that person so that you can pray for them.
  2. Blanket the crowd with prayer, targeting issues they may be facing.
    Example – With divorce rates over 50%, there will be at least 5 people out of ten in a room filled with people who have gone through divorce. You can pray for the Lord’s touch on those who have experienced divorce or any other life issue like domestic violence, abuse, etc.
  3. As Jesus directed us, we need to pray that the Lord will send people to minister to the people in the crowds.
  4. This is where it gets personal – Pray that you will have the right words, the right attitude, the compassion of Jesus as you are out in those crowds to be an influence in someone’s life each day!

End in prayer for wisdom and courage to become a prayer warrior and a worker in the harvest field.

Take prayer requests, having the ladies write each one on their prayer card. Take time to pray for each request and remind the ladies to put their prayer card somewhere they will see it often as a reminder to pray.

Please feel free to use this devotional, but if you do, be sure to leave a comment below and let me know how things went!

 

Let’s Get Ready For VBS Part 2

Developing your Theme

You’ve chosen the message you want to get across to your children through your VBS this summer. Now what?

All VBS programs have a theme which helps drive the message across to the children. . It might be a unique setting such as Lifeway’s Big Apple Adventure. This adventure is set in a New York City taxicab, racing around the Big Apple  to promote their message “Where faith and life connect.” Or Concordia’s Big Jungle Adventure which takes place in a jungle and helps the kids to understand that they’re “never alone on their faith journey with Jesus.”

Others use an activity as their theme like Cokesbuty’s Shake it up Cafe  which takes place in a restaurant style kitchen and deals with “carrying out God’s recipe.” The Go Fish Guys are spicing up old hymns this year with their Kickin’ It Old School theme which centers around a hip-hop concert setting.

Wow just thinking about those themes gets my creative juices flowing. Without even reading their materials, I could plan a whole program. There’s so much you can do with those ideas!

Are you beginning to get the picture? The theme s your visual set which coordinates with your message to make the VBS experience memorable.

So sit down and get out  some paper to develop your theme. For an example, let’s use the Salvation message from the last post. You might be planning to teach the Roman Road to Salvation ( A series of scriptures from the book of Romans which explain the concepts of salvation.)

Wow, right away I can envision an old Roman coliseum or a road leading to Rome. You could have teachers dressed like soldiers or gladiators and posters of horses and chariots on display. You might even have a special room like the catacombs where they hear their Bible stories related to the Romans Road message or share missionary stories of persecuted Christians.

Jungle settings or gold mines lend themselves to  messages about finding bible treasures. Or  settings like a Bible home, an old western town or a beach might be used to promote the message of Christian living. For one of our VBS events, we designed a wacky mad scientist’s lab to teach about God’s wonderful world. And For another VBS we created a time travel machine to revisit the stories during Daniel’s time.

Other themes might be: Old West, a Circus, a medieval castle, a lighthouse, a carnival outer space, or any other such theme. Developing your theme/setting is one of the most fun parts of the planning process so let your imaginations go. The sky’s the limit!

Sometimes your theme will help determine your message. We’ve planned VBS events where we wanted to develop a certain setting. We had all kinds of theme ideas in place even before we knew which Bible lessons we would teach. We tailored the messages to fit the theme. Whichever way works for you. there’s no hard and fast rules.

The theme will  help you develop your program. Everything from the snacks to the games to the stories and memory verses will gel together with the theme helping you to create a memorable learning  experience for the kids.

Step two: Decide on a theme/setting

Let’s get ready for VBS!

I was in a Christian bookstore the other day and  realized they were already beginning to put out their Vacation Bible School curricula. Well, I guess it ‘s that time – Summer will be here before you know it. Better get those plans in motion soon.

One of the problems in small churches is the lack of finances to purchase those big fancy VBS kits and another problem is finding the volunteers to make it work. Because of that my husband and I put our own programs together for many years.

If you find yourself in the same boat – short on resources but still wanting to do something for your church kids – I’ll be posting some of our ideas here to help you out over the next few weeks. You can plan a  great VBS program from scratch with  a limited budget and only a few volunteers.

Check out the curricula in the stores or online. There are a lot of elements that they all have in common. But the most important  is the central message that the author is trying to get across to the children – One they will take home and put into practice in their lives.Everything else (decorations, theme, snacks, games, crafts, activities)  supports that message.

So the first thing you want to do is to sit down and determine what your message will be for the VBS.. No, I’m not talking about writing the complete lesson plans for all four or five nights – I’m talking about the central truth of your outreach.  What one key word or phrase do you want them to remember? You need to be able to boil it down into one word – certainly no more than five or six.

Developing your own VBS materials has an added bonus. You can tailor the program to fit the spiritual needs of your own children and the children in your community. For example, if your community recently experienced something frightening, you could choose a message of hope and comfort or one about fighting fear –using stories of Bible heroes. By  gearing it toward their needs, it will help them to “get” the message and remember it even more.

Key messages would look something like this:

Salvation
Jesus loves you
Hiding God’s Word in your heart
Discovering God’s promises
God’s amazing world
Learning about Jesus through music, etc.,etc.

Once you have the key message for your VBS – you can break each one down into 4 or five nightly lessons  like this:

Salvation (The Romans Road with one salvation verse emphasized each night)
Jesus loves you (Bible stories that show His love in action – a different story for each night.)
God’s amazing World – pick unique animals or things that show God’s creative  variety and intelligence – one for each night)
And so on.

This central message is the key thought  you want the children to take home with them each night  Each individual story or lesson will build on that message. .But you’ll need to do some creative ideas to help make these truths memorable. We’ll talk about developing your theme in the next post.

For now, remember – choose your central or key message with prayer to meet the needs of your children.

I’d love to hear some of your ideas! Feel free to leave a comment or e-mail me,

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