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. 

John 14:26  But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.

Family Time Training is sharing their post with us this week. If you like this teaching tool,  check out their unlimited access to 280 family devotionals for only $6 per month www.famtime.com

You need 3 clear glasses, milk, a large heart cut out of cardboard, chocolate syrup and two spoons.Place three glasses on the table. You say the words in bold. These glasses each represent a different type of person. Pour cold milk in each glass so it is 3/4 full.The milk represents the choices we make in life like attitudes, thoughts,and actions.Put the cardboard heart over one of the glasses. The opening of the glass represents the person’s heart. We have three glasses, one represents a closed or hard heart and two are open. Jesus is the bottle of chocolate syrup. He is not welcome in the life of the person with a hard heart. Since the other two people have open hearts, Jesus can come in. Pour in the chocolate syrup so that there is a visible layer of chocolate on the bottom of the glass. These two people have Jesus in their lives. When we have Jesus we also have the Holy Spirit represented by this spoon. Place a spoon in each of the two glasses. Stir the spoon in one of the glasses and point out how the color of the milk changes. The stirring represents the Holy Spirit being active in a person’s life: listening to what the Spirit says and doing it. This person’s life looks different. People can tell by the choices that he makes that he is a believer. Do not stir the spoon in the other glass.This represents the person who believes in Jesus, has the Holy Spirit in his life but does not listen to the Spirit or do what the Spirit says. The attitudes, thoughts, and actions (milk) looks alot like  the non-Christian. It’s hard to see the difference. This might be a “Sunday Only” Christian.

The three glasses represent the three types of people in this world. The non-Christian who has a closed heart, the Christian who goes to church but doesn’t let God influence his life, and the Christian who is actively listening to the Holy Spirit. As a Christian have you got milk? Or have you got chocolate milk? Allow children to drink the milk and chocolate milk as you complete this lesson.

John 15:26 “When the Counselor comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father, he will testify about me.”

John 16:13 “But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come.”

With all the Christmas hub-bub flying by my calendar, I find myself buzzing with nervous anticipation. Pinterest entices me into believing I can- I really can- learn to knit and sew and bake and cook gourmet- all while saving money of course.  Making quality time for the kids. Finding quantity time with the kids. Ultimately, hiding from the kids.

That’s when I give up the super mom act! I go into hibernation mode, throw out all the “have to’s” and “shoulds”. I marvel at the incredible gift of salvation and how God has changed my life.  Initially it’s all positive, but as I continue to reflect on the past year I gravitate toward over-analyzing my many failures. I ponder the year ahead and determine what will attain more of God’s favor. It’s not that I’m being completely selfish, I do genuinely want to please Him. Perhaps if I worked harder in ministry, or found more time for that service project. Maybe if I took this class or joined that prayer group I could get that heavenly A plus. I want to accomplish everything He’s called me to do, but I suspect I’m missing the point…

And probably you are too.  Most of us make goals for ourselves each new year. I’m no mind reader but I bet yours are similar to mine- you want to improve your health (read lose weight), your finances (save money), and your relationships (spend more happy time with the family-emphasis on happy).  Most importantly, I want to grow closer to Jesus than ever before.

The Message Bible translates Romans 12:1-2 : “So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.”

sarahSarah Young, author of “Jesus Calling”, the hugely popular daily devotional, is changing the way people view their prayer time. I find her so interesting because she was a Super Christian for 16 years before she understood devotion. I mean she was PERFECT! She went to seminary and earned her master’s degree in counseling and biblical studies. She was a missionary in Japan for 8 years. Got married and had children. Earned yet another degree in counseling at University. Even moved to Australia and started a church!

Yeah, I would think she deserves a heavenly pat on the head…

And yet, as she looks back on her life, she reflects,

“I cherished my experiences of helping deeply wounded women find healing in Christ. I was also thankful for my kind, loving husband and our two delightful children, who were the main joys of my life. However, not once during those sixteen years did I vividly experience the Presence of Jesus.”

As she was preparing to pack up and move down under, she began searching out God’s Presence like never before. And she discovered her previous devotions were pretty much one-sided. Formerly, her time with God was mostly HER praying, HER  reading, HER asking and thanking, and HER writing down HER thoughts. Now she practiced the art of waiting:

 “I began seeking God’s Presence in earnest. My days started alone with God, equipped with Bible, devotional book, prayer journal, pen, and coffee. As I waited in His Presence, God began to reveal Himself to me. An hour or two alone with Him seemed too brief.”

Of all the experiences she’s had, of the many soul’s Sarah has won for Christ through counsel, prayer, both in her profession and in service as a missionary, she cites her quiet time with God to be the most personally victorious she has felt as a Christian. Hmm…

Let’s experience absolute victory in our walk with our Creator this year. Jesus has much to say to me and you, and I resolve to listen.