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Awake My Soul and Praise the Lord

Children Desiring God Blog // Awake My Soul Hymn

Each Monday, the Children Desiring God team gathers together for a time of devotions, hymn singing and prayer for each other and each of you. This week, we sung the hymn, Awake, My Soul, and with the Sun, which Thomas Ken wrote based on the following verses:

Awake, my glory! Awake, O harp and lyre! I will awake the dawn!
Bless the LORD, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name!
Psalm 57:8 & 103:1

Although you may not recognize the title or composer, the eleventh verse is on of the most frequently used pieces of music in public worship…commonly known as the Doxology.

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Why Did Jesus Die?—Free Devotional for Families

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We would love to bless your family this week by giving you a short devotional that will help your children understand the rich and glorious meaning of what Jesus accomplished when He died on the cross and then rose from the grave. It is from our resource: Helping Children to Understand the Gospel. The devotional includes short Scripture passages to read, a child-friendly explanation of the texts, hands-on activities that illustrate the truths presented, and prayer prompts. You can download it here.

 

New Easter Resource for Families

Mission Accomplished book

Just released—Mission Accomplished: A Two-Week Family Easter Devotional by Scott James. Here is Sally Michael’s endorsement:

Scott James has provided families with an easy-to-use, yet spiritually enriching Easter devotional. Starting with the events leading to the cross through the ascension of Jesus, families are encouraged to read the corresponding Scripture, discuss the passage, and make application through questioning and activities. In addition, many selections include a rich hymn to use in family worship. This little book is a great tool for focusing the hearts of your family members on the reality of Jesus s redemptive mission.

Here is a more detailed description from the publisher:

Celebrate the Greatest Rescue Mission in History Nearly 2,000 years ago, a simple wooden cross and an empty tomb served as the setting for the greatest rescue mission in history the good news of a loving Father going to great lengths to save his broken children. Every year at Easter, with a joyful shout of Christ is risen! we declare again the climax of this great story. Although Easter Sunday only happens once a year, the truths behind it are big enough to shape our lives every single day. Starting on Palm Sunday, your family will spend two weeks (fourteen devotions) walking in time with Jesus as he finished the work his Father had given him. Extending your devotional time into the week beyond Easter Sunday will encourage your family to follow the risen Jesus as he calls his disciples on a Spirit-filled mission to spread the good news to all nations. Your family will learn that God calls every Christ follower to that very same task, promising that his power and presence will help us as we go. Each devotion takes just ten-minutes and is suitable for all ages of children. Included are suggestions for hymns to sing and family activities that give you a chance to remember and apply the truth that Christ is risen indeed! 

It is easier to speak smilingly about bunnies and baskets on Easter than it is to explore Christ s cruel death and miraculous resurrection. But for every parent who believes that Christ is risen indeed, there is Mission Accomplished. 

Fourteen theologically rich yet kid-friendly devotions connect well-known Easter stories to the overall biblical message of redemption. 

Starts with the Passion Week and extends into the week beyond Easter Sunday, walking kids through the immediate aftermath of the resurrection and then unpacking the implications of Jesus death and resurrection for our own lives. 

Great for busy parents and families, each day’s core devotion can be completed in just ten minutes.

Family activities are included to give parents options for helping kids of all ages to understand and apply Easter truths and can be completed in an additional ten minutes. 

Full text of classic hymns for your family to sing in worship.

Not All are Merry

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As we minister in our classrooms this Christmas season, it is important that we recognize that not all children may be merry. Some have experienced terrible loss that will be felt by the whole family—maybe the recent death of a beloved grandparent. Others will feel the turmoil and stress of a broken home or fighting parents. Maybe daddy has lost his job and money is tight. A few might be fearful and lonely because daddy is a soldier, fighting a war far, far away—he won’t be home for Christmas. Whatever the source of their sadness, here is a good reminder from Dr. Albert Mohler:

Is Christmas also for those who grieve? Such a question would perplex those who experienced the events that night in humble Bethlehem and those who followed Christ throughout his earthly ministry. Christmas is especially for those who grieve.

…The baby Jesus was born into a world of grief, suffering, and loss. The meaning of his incarnation was recognized by the aged Zechariah, the father of John the Baptist, who prophesied that God had acted to save his people, “because of the tender mercy of our God, whereby the sunrise shall visit us from on high, to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace” (Luke 1:78-79).

…The great truth of Christmas is that the Father so loves the world that he sent his own Son to assume human flesh and to dwell among us, to die for our sins and to suffer for our iniquity, and to declare that the kingdom of God is at hand. This same Jesus was raised from the dead on the third day, conquering death and sin. There is salvation, full pardon from sin, and life everlasting to those who believe and trust in him.

…Christians bear a particular responsibility to surround fellow believers with this confidence, and to minister Christmas joy and love to those bearing griefs. We stand together in the Gospel of Jesus Christ, declaring with the Apostle Paul that nothing, not even death, can separate us from the love of God. We bind one another’s hearts, respect one another’s tears, and remind one another of the blessed hope. For, it was Christ himself who promised that our “sorrow will turn into joy” (John 16:20).

(From – And Them That Mourn”—Celebrating Christmas in the Face of Grief and Sorrow.)

This does not mean that we must strike a somber note in the classroom by removing or minimizing celebratory elements or activities. But it should cause us to think about how we might acknowledge the realities of suffering, sorrow, fear, loneliness, etc. even while many other people are merry and happy. (No doubt, Mary and Joseph weren’t all “jolly” on the road to Bethlehem, nor their flight to Egypt!) But in that acknowledgment, we must also gently point children to the life-giving, hope-filled, joy-producing message of the Gospel. Furthermore, consider practical ways to reach out to a child who is experiencing grief: Talk to the parents and ask them, “How could we encourage your child this Christmas?”; send a special note or give the child a phone call; give a gift to the family (e.g., provide the child with a special opportunity to participate in a lesson, etc.). Whatever you choose to do, make sure to acknowledge the grief, extend compassion, and point to our only hope, Jesus, in whom there is everlasting joy!

O come, O come, Emmanuel,

And ransom captive Israel,
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear.

O come, Thou Day-spring, come and cheer
Our spirits by Thine advent here;
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night,
And death’s dark shadows put to flight.

Rejoice! Rejoice!

Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.

(Image courtesy of Artur84 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.)

 

 

What Do Our Children Need from Us?

Children Desiring God // What Do Our Children Need from Us?


Consider these words from Dr. Joel Beeke,

The salvation of our children is priceless; their spiritual needs far outweigh their physical needs. They need our prayers—our earnest prayers with hearts aflame, both for their initial repentance and coming to Christ by faith, and for their life of ongoing growth in faith. Matthew Henry rightly declared that it is of far more value for parents who die to leave behind a treasury of prayers for their children than it is to leave behind a treasury of silver and gold.¹

 

¹From Praying for Our Children’s Salvation, ligonier.org

Reading the Bible through the Right Lens

Children Desiring God Blog //  Reading the Bible through the Right Lens

If you have attended the preconference at one of our Children Desiring God national conferences, you probably remember the teaching emphasis that “the Bible is first and foremost a book about God.” This emphasis can revolutionize the way you teach the Bible to children. But, has it also revolutionized your time with God in the Word?

In her book, Women of the Word, Jen Wilkin talks about “getting things backward” in her reading of the Bible. She states, (more…)

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?

Christmas That Lasts

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No matter what your Christmas celebration may have involved, and no matter whether it exceeded or fell short of your expectations, here is a powerful reminder from Pastor John MacArthur,

Christmas should be simple, not complex, very simple. Christmas should be stripped of all of its trappings so that all that is left is the simplicity of God becoming man.

That is the only element in the Christmas seasonal celebration that has in it any lasting power to effect life. There is no real strength, no real peace or comfort or hope or love or promise or confidence for the future to be found in Santa Claus. There’s no lasting value in any earthly (more…)

God Moves Kingdoms for the Sake of His People

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Here are some words of great comfort and encouragement from Pastor John Piper:

Have you ever thought what an amazing thing it is that God ordained beforehand that the Messiah be born in Bethlehem (as the prophecy in Micah 5 shows); and that he so ordained things that when the time came, the Messiah’s mother and legal father were living in Nazareth; and that in order to fulfill his word and bring two little people to Bethlehem that first Christmas, God put it in the heart of Caesar Augustus that all the Roman world should be enrolled each in his own town? (more…)

A Strange Question

It is not an unusual question. Most of us have probably heard it as a means of examining our hearts toward God: Do you love the gift, or the Giver?

But I think it is a strange question. It assumes that the two are mutually exclusive. However, in my mind and heart, they are tied together. Let me explain. (more…)

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