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Free Lesson: Helping Children Understand the Cross

Children Desiring God Blog // Helping Children Understand the Cross: Free Lesson

The gospel narratives give us a vivid picture of the events of Jesus’ final days and hours. As teachers and parents it is important that we help our children “walk” through these. All the events of Jesus’ life and ministry led to this moment in history: The perfect Son of God giving up His life on the cross. But it is also crucial that we give our children a vivid picture of what was “unseen” or more hidden in the narratives of the crucifixion. Unseen by any human eye, when Jesus died on the cross something truly amazing happened …

[Jesus Christ]…  whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. (Romans 3:25 ESV)

For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
(2 Corinthians 5:21 ESV)

He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. (1 Peter 2:24 ESV)

Here is a free lesson for our newly revised curriculum Jesus, What a Savior that is designed to help children better see and understand the significance of Jesus’ death on the cross. Although it was written for 5-6 year old children, the illustrations and explanations can be easily adapted for older children.

 

Why Should Children Be Taught the Ten Commandments?

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Consider these words by Sally Michael from the preface of the curriculum, The Righteous Shall Live By Faith: A Study for Children and Adults on the Ten Commandments:

…studying the Ten Commandments is not old fashioned and need not be legalistic or boring. The Ten Commandments have much to teach us about our great and glorious God. They reflect to us the perfections of God and His heart for His people. They are the foundation of God’s moral law. They show His children how to “walk in all His ways.”

The Ten Commandments have been part of the religious education of Western countries for hundreds of years and have often been part of the public school curriculum. It is only recently that they have been considered “outdated.”

We are in great need of moral absolutes in the 21st Century. The Ten Commandments stand as God’s great moral absolutes to a confused and troubled world. The Ten Commandments are as relevant today as they were when God gave them to Moses on Mount Sinai.

But the Ten Commandments are not only pertinent to our moral instruction, they can also be an instrument of conversion. For it is in God’s perfect law that we see our depravity. Understanding the requirements of God’s law serves as a mirror to show us our total inability to meet those standards.

A drowning man must first see that he is drowning before he can appreciate a life preserver. John Piper, pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, Minnesota, has said that you must see your plight before you can recognize the rescue. The Ten Commandments show us our plight. Faith in Jesus’ atoning death on the cross is our rescue.

“In days gone by, children learned the commandments before they learned John 3:16, because only then did John 3:16 have real meaning for them. Likewise, John Eliot’s first translation work among the Indians was not of John 3:16 but of the Ten Commandments, and he preached his first sermon on them. Did John Eliot think the Indians would be saved by the Ten Commandments? Of course not, but the commandments would show them why they needed to be saved—they were law-breakers, and they needed a law-keeper to be their substitute.” (Ernest C. Reisinger. “Whatever Happened to the Ten Commandments?”, copyright © 1999, page 5)

So rather than a study in legalism, the study of the Ten Commandments is refreshingly freeing from legalism. It shows us that we can never gain heaven through works of righteousness, and it points us to grace—the grace of God to undeserving, inadequate, depraved sinners! There is no greater news than this—and there is no greater freedom from legalism than the perfect righteousness of Jesus freely given to those who trust in Him.

The Ten Commandments become the mirror of our soul and then our expression of a redeemed heart. The redeemed heart—the heart of flesh that Ezekiel says replaces the heart of stone—overflows in its love of God and expresses itself in walking in the ways of His commandments.

“I will run in the way of your commandments when you enlarge my heart!”—Psalm 119:32

Did you know that along with a curriculum on the Ten Commandments, CDG also has a corresponding Family Devotional Guide which you can find here?

Free Christmas Lesson

12-13 Blog Post 300During the month of December, it is easy to get pulled in a million different directions…school programs, shopping, parties, decorating the tree, traveling, visiting family, wrapping gifts, building snowmen…but it can be difficult to find time to focus on the true reason for Christmas.

Our challenge for your family is to set aside an hour in the next two weeks to learn about the miraculous event of Jesus the Savior being born. In most Christmas stories, the focus is always on the tiny baby, wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. Children relate well to that vision of God as a small, touchable and knowable baby Jesus. But, it is not the end of God’s revelation of His Son. Baby Jesus will grow up into a Man, the perfect Son of God, and His obedience will lead Him to a most painful, undeserved death on the cross.

She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.—Matthew 1:21

To help you and you family focus on the bigger picture of Christmas, Children Desiring God is giving you a free copy of “Jesus the Savior is Born” which is a lesson in our revised version of Jesus, What a Savior. This lesson focuses on three main ideas:

  • God loves His people and desires to save them from their sin.
  • God was faithful to send Jesus as the promised Savior.
  • God reveals His greatness to humble people.

The free lesson can be downloaded as a PDF here: Jesus the Savior is Born. We pray it will be a blessing as you and your family celebrate our Savior this Christmas.

This free lesson includes the Lesson Material, Lesson Visuals, Student Workbook, Optional Activities and Growing in Faith Together pages. You may print out or make copies of this lesson for use in you home, church or school. Enjoy!

 

 

Encouraging Contentment at Christmas Time

This grandma almost “lost it” the other day. I was shopping with my daughter and grandchildren at IKEA. As I walked down the aisles with 2-year-old, David he kept repeating over and over and over again, “Cars and trucks. Cars and trucks…” It was his way of reminding me that he wanted grandma to find him and buy him a new car or truck (preferably both!). You see, it was not enough that he already had about a zillion cars and trucks at home—he wanted more. But grandma didn’t buy him another car or truck, and somehow he survived the day.

Every day is a challenge to teach our children (and ourselves) biblical contentment:

“…for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content.”
(Philippians 4:11)

“But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content.” (1 Timothy 6:8)

“Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.'” (Hebrews 13:5)

Christmas time presents even greater challenges for being content with what we have as we are bombarded with catalogs, billboards, commercials, and all manner of slick advertisements that entice us with the message: You need this in order to be happy. Therefore, as we move into this season, it might be a good time to give our children a refresher course on contentment by reminding them of these foundational truths:

    • Our possessions are from God, belong to God, and are under God’s authority.

“I am the LORD, who made all things, who alone stretched out the heavens, who spread out the earth by myself,” (Isaiah 44:24b)

“…Whatever is under the whole heaven is mine.” (Job 41:11b)

“Both riches and honor come from you, and you rule over all.” (1 Chronicles 29:12)

    • God knows all of our needs and graciously provides for our needs.

“…for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.” (Matthew 6:8)

“…he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything.” (Acts 17:25)

    • God is good to all and will not withhold any good thing from His children.

“The LORD is good to all, and his mercy is over all that he has made.” (Psalm 145:9)

“If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!” (Matthew 7:11)

    • Possessions are temporary and cannot truly satisfy us.

“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal,” (Matthew 6:19)

“He who loves money will not be satisfied with money, nor he who loves wealth with his income; this also is vanity.” (Ecclesiastes 5:10)

    • The desire for possessions may become a dangerous snare.

“…’Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.'” (Luke 12:15)

“For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.” (1 Timothy 6:10)

    • True contentment comes from knowing, loving, and trusting Jesus.

“You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” (Psalm 16:11)

“Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ…” (Philippians 3:8)

The following are a few practical discussion ideas for applying these truths to the heart:

  • Read 1 Timothy 6:6-8. Did you bring anything into the world? Can you take anything with you when you die? What does verse 8 say that we should be content with? Why is this hard for us? If you lived in a very poor country where many people were starving, would it be easier to be content with having food? Why? How can you have this same attitude without having to be in that situation?
  • Do you often compare what you have with what others have? Why? Do you feel that you need what they have in order to be happy? Why? If and when you feel this way, what are you saying about what you think will make you truly happy? Is this what God tells us will make us happy? Is God your heavenly Father? Do you trust Him to provide for you all that you need in order to be happy? Read Matthew 7:7-11. What kinds of things do you ask God for? Why do you ask for these things? Do you believe that God wants to give you good gifts? Do you complain about the good things that God has already given you? Why is it sometimes hard to be thankful? Is it because God is stingy? Or is it because our hearts are not grateful? How could you focus on thankfulness to God this week?
  • Make a “Thank you” list to God for His many good gifts. What should a list like this remind us of? When feelings of wanting more and more “stuff” start to creep into your heart, do you stop to think about how generous God has already been to you? Do you thank Him for life and breath and everything else? How could stopping and remembering this help you to fight against feeling discontent with what you have?
  • Is God able to satisfy your every need? Therefore, if He withholds something from you, like having your own bedroom or a new iPad, is it because He isn’t able to provide you with those things? Why might God choose to withhold something from you? What better thing might God have for you? Give a concrete example of this.
  • Read Philippians 4:12-13. What is the “secret” of being content? Why does Paul say that it is a secret? Are secrets easy things to find out? No, they are to be “found out” by actively searching for them. Can you be content through your own strength? Why not? Whose strength must you depend on?
  • What is the hardest struggle you have when you think of earthly treasures? What kinds of things “feed” this feeling? What do commercials, movies, books, and store advertisements tell you is worth “laying up”? How can you protect yourself from this in some measure? Do you do this, or do you continue to feed your appetite for earthly treasures?
  • Have you ever received something that you were really happy and excited about? Did you feel as excited about it a week later? A month later? Two years later? Why not? What does this tell you about earthly treasures and the happiness they bring? Will this happen to heavenly treasures? Why not?

(Discussion ideas adapted from the CDG curriculum To Be Like Jesus: A Study for Children on Following Jesus.)

(Photo courtesy of blackstock at FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

All New Visuals for Jesus, What a Savior! + Giveaway

 

Last month, Children Desiring God released the revised version of Jesus, What a Savior! This 40-week curriculum teaches kindergarten students about redemption. One of the main elements of our curriculum revision is a complete redesign of the Visuals Packet. Teachers use the visuals in this resource during the lesson to capture students’ attention, visualize Bible stories, and emphasize key points of the lesson.

The vibrant, full-color visuals include a variety of original Bible story images, photographs and illustrations. The Visuals Packet is available either as a pre-printed resource or as a printable PDF file on the Resources DVD in the Teacher’s Kit. To learn more about the revised version of Jesus, What a Savior!, view a sample of the lessons.

 

Jesus, What a Savior! Giveaway

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To celebrate the release of Jesus, What a Savior!, we are giving away a free Teacher’s Kit and 5 Students Workbooks! Be sure to enter our contest by the end of December!

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Please note: This is a continuation of the giveaway started on December 2. Don’t worry, if you entered this giveaway on our previous blog post, your entries are already included.

 

GIVEAWAY: Jesus, What a Savior!

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Children Desiring God is excited to announce our biggest giveaway of the year to celebrate the release of the revised Jesus, What a Savior! curriculum. You have a chance to win a free Teacher’s Kit and 5 Student Workbooks.

Jesus, What a Savior is a 40 week Sunday School curriculum written to teach kindergarten students about redemption. Take a look at the curriculum sample or learn more about it here.

Be sure to enter to win by the end of December using the tool below.
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Being Good is Not Good Enough

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If you did not heard our exciting news last week, we have officially released the revised version of Jesus, What a Savior!

Jesus What a Savior! is a 40 week Sunday school curriculum designed to teacher Kindergartners about Redemption. In the curriculum, author Jill Nelson shares why she wrote the curriculum.

A few years ago, I asked a class of first grade children, “How does a person get saved from their sin?” Many eager hands went up. The responses of these eager children? “By obeying God,” “By being kind to people,” “By being real good.” Not one child made reference to Jesus’ death on the cross for sinners. It was not that these children did not know about the cross and its message, but it was not on the front burner of their hearts and minds. And so, the curriculum, Jesus, What a Savior! was born.

In Jesus, What a Savior!, children are presented with these main themes:

  • The incomparable greatness and worth of God, who is to be desired and treasured above all things (represented by a silver heart).
  • The desperate condition of sinners who have fallen short of treasuring the glory of God and are totally helpless to save themselves (represented by a darkened heart).
  • The all-sufficient work of Jesus on the cross to save sinners who put their trust in Him (represented by a red heart).

This is the glorious Gospel of Jesus! Salvation from sin cannot be found in any other person or place. Obeying God will not save us from our sin. Being kind will not save us from our sin. Being good will not save us from our sin.  Only Jesus is able to save us from our sins.

 

Now Available: Jesus, What a Savior! Revised

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Children Desiring God is excited to announce the release of the revised version of Jesus, What a Savior! This 40-week Sunday school curriculum is designed to teach Kindergartners redemptive history. We have been working hard to improve the ways in which our curriculum equips teachers, engages students and impacts families:

  • Updated lessons provide teachers with devotionals and prayer points, incorporate more teacher-student interaction, maintain a consistent length and are formatted in a cleaner format that is easier to teach from.
  • New and expanded application questions help small group leaders guide children to apply truths taught in the lesson to their hearts. Questions complement the Student Workbook which has been redesigned to be more interactive for children.
  • Original, full-color visuals capture the attention of young learners and help teach important truths of the lessons.
  • Optional Activities to help teachers with longer class times reinforce lesson themes and encourage Scripture memory in interactive ways.
  • Growing in Faith Together: Parent and Child Resource Pages prompt spiritual conversations and help parents fulfill the calling to shepherd their children.

Visit the following links to learn more about the revised version of Jesus, What a Savior!:

Learn more about available products and place your order!

View a sample of the curriculum and the curriculum Scope and Sequence.

Do you currently own a copy of Jesus, What a Savior!? Read about upgrade options or call customer service at 800.477.1414 to place your upgrade order.

 

Reaching the Heart + Friday Contest

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When children come to Sunday school, we hope they will learn many things about God. While facts are good and important for them to learn, head knowledge is not the ultimate goal of our curriculum. We want to help children move from head knowledge to heart knowledge. Children not only need to know the truth of God’s Word, but more importantly, they need to respond to and act on it.

Students Workbooks are the tool we have designed for this very purpose. Not only do workbooks help reinforce the main ideas presented in the lesson, using them in a small group setting will help engage children and enhance the application process.

In the revised Jesus, What a Savior! Student Workbook, kindergartners will enjoy hands-on activities such as Dot-to-dot, coloring, matching, mazes, tracing letters, and cutting and pasting. While children are completing the workbook pages, small group leaders engage them in discussion based on questions provided in the Teacher’s Guide.
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What is in the Box?

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There is something special about receiving a package and experiencing the excitement of slicing through the tape or ripping the tab off in order to get the first glimpse of what is inside the box.

At Children Desiring God, hearing the UPS lady walk through the door to our offices always gets everyone’s attention. Undoubtedly, someone will ask her the big question, “What is it?” As she attempts to catch her breath after hauling our boxes up the steep stairs to the third floor, she will respond with something along the lines of: “How would I know? You are the ones who ordered it. All I can see is the box.”

The box—a dirty, travel-worn and sometimes damaged package.

In a way, our hearts are like the cardboard boxes that arrive dirty and travel-worn because we are all born with darkened, sinful hearts that fail to reflect God’s perfect righteousness. We are damaged, and there is nothing we can do in our own power to change that. But, God can! God in His mercy sent us a perfect “package” that is the only solution for our sin problem. The gift is Jesus, the Savior! Because of Jesus’ perfect righteousness and His death on the cross, He can make our sinful hearts new so that we might reflect God’s glory as we should. These are some of the truths kindergarteners are taught in our curriculum, Jesus, What a Savior!

So, back to the UPS delivery. Last Friday, when we received our deliveries, the exciting answer to “What is in the box?” was: proofs from the printer for the revised version of Jesus, What a Savior!

We are so excited to have this first set of proofs in hand after working diligently over the past two years to revise Jesus, What a Savior! What’s different about the revised version? While the truths being taught to kindergarteners will remain the same, we added many improvements:  lesson content, format, and illustrations have been updated making the lessons easier to teach; the visuals have been replaced with more colorful, original artwork; and the workbook is more interactive for the needs of young children.

We are now in the last stage of our publishing process and we are working hard to ensure that all of the details are in place so the curriculum will be ready for your classrooms.

We hope that you too will soon have the excitement of receiving a box in the mail, full of the revised Jesus, What a Savior! curriculum. Since you will have to wait a little longer before you can place an order, we want to give you a sneak peek inside the box. Have fun looking at a Sample of the revised curriculum, as well as the Scope & Sequence which will give you an overview of all the lessons. More information about the revision process is also available on our Revised Curriculum page.

Be on the lookout over the next few weeks for more information about Jesus, What a Savior! and for the official curriculum release date. Also, check back Friday to enter to win a special prize we are giving away in the Friday Contest.

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