He waters the furrows with abundant rain. Showers soften the earth, melting the clods and causing seeds to sprout across the land.  Then he crowns it all with green, lush pastures in the wilderness; hillsides blossom with joy.”

Psalm 65

1-2 O God in Zion, we wait before you in silent praise, and thus fulfill our vow. And because you answer prayer, all mankind will come to you with their requests. Though sins fill our hearts, you forgive them all. How greatly to be envied are those you have chosen to come and live with you within the holy tabernacle courts! What joys await us among all the good things there. With dread deeds and awesome power you will defend us from our enemies,[a] O God who saves us. You are the only hope of all mankind throughout the world and far away upon the sea.

He formed the mountains by his mighty strength. He quiets the raging oceans and all the world’s clamor. In the farthest corners of the earth the glorious acts of God shall startle everyone. The dawn and sunset shout for joy! He waters the earth to make it fertile. The rivers of God will not run dry! He prepares the earth for his people and sends them rich harvests of grain. 10 He waters the furrows with abundant rain. Showers soften the earth, melting the clods and causing seeds to sprout across the land. 11-12 Then he crowns it all with green, lush pastures in the wilderness; hillsides blossom with joy. 13 The pastures are filled with flocks of sheep, and the valleys are carpeted with grain. All the world shouts with joy and sings.

This psalm speaks of new life, of creation, of spring. There is a feeling of overcoming in this psalm of David, as if he has been through a hard time previously. Sometimes seasons are more than a time of year. Tell kids about a hard winter in your life (waiting for a long time for something, a time when your prayers didn’t seem to get answered), and a new spring. (like maybe when you had children- or started your career- or went to high school). Just like cycles in nature, there are many seasons of life. As David teaches us in this psalm, we need to keep praying, trusting, and believing that God will bring us through! As spring is blooming all around us, it would be fun to try and make marshmallow flowers- the kind you see on fancy cupcakes. While we aren’t baking for this devotional, if you had some cupcakes bought or made ahead of time it would definitely be a bonus.  

20150518_161943_resized_2Supplies are large and small marshmallow, sugar and some kind of food coloring. Drop some coloring into a small bowl of sugar and mix to create colored sugars. Though most of us have some food coloring in the back of the baking shelf, if you’re desperate for color try juice or melt a colorful hard candy in the microwave and add it to the sugar. Once you have the suger just give the kids some marshmallows, a knife or scissors, and a plate each. The sugar will stick to only the sticky “cut” face of the marshmallow.

1) Cut a large marshmallow in half to make a large sticky circle.
2) Cut mini-marshmallow lengthwise DIAGONALLY to create petals.
Press the petals sticky side into the sugar.
3) Place the petal color side up onto the round sticky large marshmallow.
This is what the petals will stick to. Alternatively, if you have any icing they will stick to that as well.20150518_163108_resized_1

Finish off with a quick family prayer. God cares about every area of our lives; let’s encourage the children to pray about whatever is on their hearts. Add to your family prayer journal weekly, and be sure to leave space to jot down a quick note when God answers the prayer. Your kids will grow stronger in their faith when they can look back and see what the Lord has done. 

My thoughts are not like your thoughts. And your ways are not like my ways,” announces the Lord. “The heavens are higher than the earth. And my ways are higher than your ways. My thoughts are higher than your thoughts. The rain and the snow come down from the sky. They do not return to it without watering the earth. They make plants come up and grow. The plants produce seeds for farmers. They also produce food for people to eat. The words I speak are like that. They will not return to me without producing results. They will accomplish what I want them to. They will do exactly what I sent them to do.” Isaiah 55:8-11

We know the Bible mentions snow, 25 times in fact, but often we think of it figuratively. The Bible speaks of our sins being washed as white as snow for example, but the people of Israel must have experienced pure, blinding, fresh snow in order to understand that powerful metaphor.

In my part of the world we’re covered in snow from November to March, and it can be difficult to stay excited about frigid temperatures. We have to remind ourselves that yes, spring actually will come. In Isaiah 55, God encourages us to remember His reasons are better than ours and we need to trust that everything He does is for a reason. Even snow. The scripture tells us that the snow waters the soil and makes plants grow. We don’t usually associate snow with gardening, but actually, all moisture waters the earth. Check out this video with the kids to learn how snow is formed.  snowflake

Today you and the kiddos can create your own snowflake masterpieces using marshmallows and toothpicks.

Let’s keep in mind that although we don’t always understand God’s purpose, he has good plans for us and, just like the scripture above, He intends to accomplish good things in us. In Jer 29:11 He says, “For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you. Plans to give you a hope and a future.” We can trust that.

Finish off with a quick family prayer. God cares about every area of our lives; let’s encourage the children to pray about whatever is on their hearts. Add to your prayer journal weekly, and be sure to leave space to jot down a quick note when God answers the prayer. Your kids will grow stronger in their faith when they can look back and see what the Lord has done.How did this work for you? Did you adapt it to fit your family?

This week: The Desires of Our Heart

Delight yourself also in the Lord, And He shall give you the desires of your heart.” Psalm 37:4

Using colored mini-marshmallows, let children arrange them on a non-stick baking sheet in any way they like, as long as they’re touching. I recommend using parchment or wax paper. They might create pictures of their favorite things, or fun patterns. You are going to bake them in the oven at 300 degrees for 5-10 minutes. They will melt together, and kids will be able to admire (or eat!) their works of art.

As the marshmallows are baking, tell the kids the scripture verse for this week and discuss what it might mean to them:  What does it really mean to delight in the Lord?  What are the desires of your heart? Check on the marshmallows…

Have the kids find Psalm 37:4 in their Bibles and read them aloud. They may be slightly different, but will have the same message. If they are using the NIRV version it should be this: Find your delight in the Lord. Then he will give you everything your heart really wants.

Don’t forget about the marshmallows! Take the marshmallow cookies out of the oven now!

marshmallow pic devo

As the treats are cooling, ask the kids to re-write the verse in their own words, and be prepared to be amazed at their unique understanding of God’s word. Encourage them to dig into God’s Word even more during the coming week.  evan devo

Finish off with a quick family prayer. God cares about every area of our lives; let’s encourage the children to pray about whatever is on their hearts. Add to your prayer journal weekly, and be sure to leave space to jot down a quick note when God answers the prayer. Your kids will grow stronger in their faith when they can look back and see what the Lord has done.How did this work for you? Did you adapt it to fit your family?

Welcome to the easiest family devotional you’ll ever come across- Marshmallow Madness! We can do this!

I challenge you to spend 20 minutes a week being intentional about passing your faith on to your kids
           …and all you need is a bag of marshmallows.

This week: Peacemakers

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.” Matthew 5:9

Hold up one colored mini-marshmallow and say something like “Look at this 1 lonely marshmallow. It can’t do much by itself, but when we put a bunch of them together we can create something beautiful!”

Peacemakers are people that try and bring harmony. They help everybody feel good, even though we are all different.

Create a picture with colored mini-marshmallows. Family members can make their own pictures separately or work together to produce a giant masterpiece. Enjoy this time together and mention how the different colors and patterns make everything better.

marshmallow

Keep a handful of marshmallows handy and let the kids know that for the next few days, whenever you notice somebody in the family going out of their way to be a peacemaker you’ll reward them with a “piece” of marshmallow 🙂

Finish off with a quick family prayer. God cares about every area of our lives; let’s encourage the children to pray about whatever is on their hearts. Add to your prayer journal weekly, and be sure to leave space to jot down a quick note when God answers the prayer. Your kids will grow stronger in their faith when they can look back and see what the Lord has done.How did this work for you? Did you adapt it to fit your family?

Empower our children to succeed in this life-teach them to be battle ready-with the armor of God!

armor of God

What are our weapons?

According to God’s Word; Truth, righteousness, the gospel, faith, salvation, the Holy Spirit and prayer.

What’s more, Ephesians 6:10 promises that we don’t have to fight in our own strength. We have the power of our mighty God to draw from.

Here are some fantastic ideas for learning about God’s armor.

There are activities here for all ages. Choose one or two and have an incredible family night!

For younger kids: “A Heart to Change Our Generation” gives us a whole activity making these great bags as well as explaining what each piece of armor means. (below)

ARMOR RACING: At the blow of the whistle, let children run around a designated area and find the various types of armor pictures that a parent has hidden. Children will then come back to the table area and tape that piece of armor to their clothing, in the correct spot. The teacher can then put all the armor pictures in a basket and the children will once again race to get a piece of armor and tape it to their clothing again. Continue to play as time allows.

PASS THE SWORD: Sit in a circle and play “musical sword”. As the music plays, pass the sword and when the music stops, the child (or parent)  holding the sword, will read the Bible verse and then will sit out. The game continues until there is only one player left.

ARMOR VIDEO: After the lesson has been shared with the children, let each child choose a picture of a piece of armor and tape it to their clothing. Take a video of the children talking about the armor and the lesson. Show the children the video.

ALUMINUM FOIL SOLDIER: Give children some foil and a certain amount of time to form a soldier. This will be similar to using play dough, but not messy.

BELT OF TRUTH: Give children supplies to make a construction paper belt with strips of paper hanging down and taped to the belt. (Reinforce the belt with postage tape or clear contact paper). Strips of paper could have a Bible verse written on each piece.

BREASTPLATE OF RIGHTEOUSNESS:
Give children a paper bag and cut out a place for the head and arms to slip into. Decorate the bag with CHOOSE TO DO WHAT GOD SAYS IS RIGHT, etc.

FEET FITTED WITH THE GOSPEL OF PEACE:
Provide children with a piece of foam to cut in the shape of their foot and laces to attach to the foam (hole punched) and lace up their ankle and leg.

SHIELD OF FAITH: Provide children with a piece of cardboard to decorate as a shield and tape a handle (strip of wide paper) to the back so the shield can be held in front of child.

HELMET OF SALVATION:
Give each child a paper plate to form in the way that they choose, to be a helmet. Color and write HELMET OF SALVATION, etc. Attach pipe cleaners or string to hole on the sides to tie it onto their head.

SWORD OF THE SPIRIT: Provide each child with a long strip of poster board and foil to cover the “sword” and Bible stickers to decorate their sword. Give each child another small piece of poster board to form as the handle and color and tape to the sword.

SING A SONG: Do an army cadence if desired such as: 1-2-3-4, 1-2-3-4, I AM IN GOD’S ARMY TOO (I am in God’s army too); HE’S MY KING AND THAT IS TRUE (He’s my King and that is true); I’LL WEAR THE ARMOR OF MY GOD (I’ll wear the armor of my God); AND DO ALL THAT HE SAYS TO DO (and do all that He says to do). (I know, the last part doesn’t rhyme… feel free to send suggestions)

Worksheets:   Armor of God  word search,  decoder, fill in the blank, cross word, coloring page boy soldier, These links were adapted from an excellent free website called sermons4kids.com

Lori, at “Life’s a Bowl Of Cherries” made a cute snack based on the armor of God.

A beautiful coloring page for girls and boys. Very nice artwork.

Show teens the picture below and discuss its meaning for each piece of armor. You might be surprised at their responses.

https://i0.wp.com/media-cache-lt0.pinterest.com/originals/d3/7f/5e/d37f5ef5b79f0c6660b06e63c3c8d402.jpg