Proverbs 2: 1-11

My son, accept my words.
    Store up my commands inside you.
Let your ears listen to wisdom.
    Apply your heart to understanding.
Call out for the ability to be wise.
    Cry out for understanding.
Look for it as you would look for silver.
    Search for it as you would search for hidden treasure.
THEN you will understand how to have respect for the Lord.
    You will find out how to know God.
The Lord gives wisdom.
    Knowledge and understanding come from his mouth.
He stores up success for honest people.
    He is like a shield to those who live without blame.
He guards the path of those who are honest.
    He watches over the way of his faithful ones.

You will understand what is right and honest and fair.
    You will understand the right way to live.
10 Your heart will become wise.
    Your mind will delight in knowledge.
11 Good sense will keep you safe.
    Understanding will guard you.   ~Proverbs 2: 1-11

Welcome back friends! This week we are going to look for treasures. Proverbs 2 is a powerful chapter to encourage us all towards Godly living. It teaches us stick-in-the-mud adults how to trust God and to discern the best solutions to life’s inescapable dilemmas. Our children are no different. They’re making decisions about who they want to be around, who they want to be, and they need wisdom and understanding to stay out of the mud themselves. (Figuratively and sometimes literally!)

Take 2 large marshmallows and write WISDOM on one, and UNDERSTANDING on the other. Once you’ve read the scripture together, discuss what these two words mean to you and have the kids give their own definitions. Notice that we are told to search for wisdom and understanding. Imagine if we knew there was buried treasure in our yard. We wouldn’t quit until we found it.  We need to have that same determination to make time to be wise. Pay attention to all the good things that come after wisdom and understanding (in verse 5). Success. Protection. How to choose the right paths. How to delight in knowledge.

Have the kids hide their eyes and count while you hide the marshmallows. When ready, release the children to run around the house searching. There is nothing better that hearing a child, breathless with excitement, shout out “I found it! I found WISDOM!”

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. 

This week: Be Silent!

We think even a foolish person is wise if he keeps silent. We think he understands what is right if he controls his tongue.  -Proverbs 17:28

I like the way Mark Twain (or Abraham Lincoln, the attribution is debatable) is credited for describing Proverbs 17:28 this way: “It’s better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt.”

There is so much wisdom in keeping silent. Do you ever re-think a conversation, wishing you could claw back that thoughtless comment. It takes work to control our tongue. It is a serious flaw: The more we speak, our chance of pronouncing damaging remarks greatly increases. The more we speak, the more trouble and drama we’ll heap on ourselves. Fact.

The words of our mouth can trap us – Proverbs 6:2

When we speak too much, sin abounds – Proverbs 10:19 

Harsh words are like swords – Proverbs 12:18

So in conclusion, the more we keep quiet, the smarter we’ll appear!
To help us remember to keep our mouths closed, we’ll play Chubby Bunny. The trick to this game is to see how many marshmallows we can ft in our mouth and still close it enough to properly say “Chubby Bunny”. Obviously, use caution when asking young children to stuff their mouths to overflowing 🙂  Maybe use small marshmallows for young children, but middle school on up to adult can play using large marshmallows.Count on using at least four large marshmallows for each player. The rules are: no swallowing, no spitting, no chewing, no drooling. The toughest part is actually the drool, in my humble opinion. Keep going around and having each player add one more marshmallow and clearly speaking “Chubby Bunny”. When all players but one have been disqualified, you’ll have your Chubby Bunny Champion!
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 family night work for you? Did you adapt it to fit your family?

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: 3 Legged Race

“Don’t be proud at all. Be completely gentle. Be patient. Put up with one another in love. The Holy Spirit makes you one in every way. So try your best to remain as one. Let peace keep you together.” Ephesians 4:2-3 (NIRV)

Create your own 3 legged race, tying one leg of two people together. You can use pantyhose, rope, rip an old towel into lengths,even a long sock.  Have a bucket at one end of determined “track” (if weather is decent, outside is better) and teams must carry one marshmallow at a time and drop it in the bucket before turning around to go back for another.  When they have placed 4 marshmallows in the bucket they must run back and cross the finish line. Declare a winner or celebrate everyone’s achievements, whichever works best in your family.
Stay tied as “one”, and debrief by asking how it felt to be connected to another person you couldn’t control. As an example, have one person try to be first ahead of their partner to show how it slows us down. Model how difficult it is to move forward when somebody is pulling you in a different direction. It’s tough for the other person to move ahead when you’re stalling. Alternatively, lock arms with your partner and notice how much easier it becomes to be successful when we’re united.
three-legged race
Look up Ephesians 4:2-3 together and really tie in the wording to the lesson: be gentle, be patient, put up with another.  The Holy Spirit helps us “lock arms” and have unity, so we will move together in the same direction.
We need to choose to work together with those God has put in our lives. That means our brothers and sister, parents, classmates, coaches and friends. Let peace keep us together this week!

When you see kids choosing peace and working together, you can praise their willingness to put up with each other 😉

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: Win the Race!

 “In a race all the runners run. But only one gets the prize. You know that, don’t you? So run in a way that will get you the prize. All who take part in the games train hard. They do it to get a crown that will not last. But we do it to get a crown that will last forever.

So I do not run like someone who doesn’t run toward the finish line. I do not fight like a boxer who hits nothing but air. No, I train my body and bring it under control. Then after I have preached to others, I myself will not break the rules and fail to win the prize.”     ~1 Corinthians 9:24-27 New International Reader’s Version (NIRV)

 runner

This week we are going to run a race of sorts. We are going to push a marshmallow across the room- with our noses! Decide in advance how long the race track will be and create a start and finish line with masking tape or a piece of string perhaps on the floor. If space allows I would recommend having different lengths of tracks or even different routes altogether for each child, based on their age and skill level.  TRUST ME: Use the larger marshmallows, because I can tell you from experience that if you are competitive like me you will hit your nose on the floor if you use a mini-marshmallow. And that really hurts. Don’t let the kids think about their route or practice their nose-pushing techniques beforehand, just throw them into the race. Time them each separately, and then have your children try it again. Their race should have been faster the second time.

The point we want to reinforce is this:  God has a special job for each of us. We all have our own race to run. Don’t give up! Let’s not worry about what others are doing, but focus on getting better and better at the race God has set before each of us.  We want to win our own race. What special job or race does God have for your children? They may already have an idea. Ask each person in the family what they can do now to start training.

For more discussion:

Hebrews 12:1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us

Philippians 3:13-14 Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

Isaiah 40:31  But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.

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. Keep a prayer journal and each week add in prayers. 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! There are many wonderful devotions available, but these are for those of us ~myself included~ who have the best intentions but just can’t seem to get it together.

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

This week:  GUESS HOW MANY 

Depending on the age(s) of your kids, pour marshmallows into 1 container. Younger kids should have a smaller container, older children should have a larger one, or even just leave them in the bag.

Have children guess how many marshmallows are in the container, just like the carnival “Guess how many” game. You could have children whisper their guess to you, or just write down their guesses on a piece of paper. If you want to be a little extra silly, you can have children receive a ballot each time they sing a song or make a rhyme.  For older kids, you can have them find a verse in the Bible, or recite a scripture, or even answer Bible trivia questions to earn a voting ballots.

Then comes the counting: now you know why I suggested younger kids have less marshmallows! Add them up and declare a winner!  (decide if and how to reward the winner)

Then look up Luke 12:6-7 together. Isn’t God amazing?!  He knows everything about us. He even knows how many hairs are on our head. He knows what we worry about, and nothing surprises Him.

I like the way the Message puts it:

6-7 “What’s the price of two or three pet canaries? Some loose change, right? But God never overlooks a single one. And he pays even greater attention to you, down to the last detail—even numbering the hairs on your head! … You’re worth more than a million canaries.

Encourage your children to give their worries to Him. Keep a prayer journal and each week add in your prayers. Your kids will grow stronger in their faith when they can look back and see what God 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