It’s so easy to get caught up in all the details that sometimes you miss the BIG picture.
I am guilty of diving into the excitement and anticipation of the Jesse Tree but often forgetting the ONE THING that is most important.
We tell lots of Bible stories around our house but knowing stories and “knowing God” are two different things.
We want our kids to not only know these Bible stories but to understand them. To make them relevant, and give them meaning. To invite our children into a relationship with Jesus, not just a memorization of facts.
WE WANT JESUS TO TOUCH THEIR HEARTS.
Christmas is a great time to be intentional with sharing the gospel.
In doing the Jesse Tree, there are many opportunities to bridge the gospel and create understanding with your kids.
Here are some ways we do just that.
Sharing the Gospel: Creating Understanding
I sin, and miss the mark.
|Trying to get a bullseye every time (to be perfect)|
Everyone has sinned. No one measures up to God’s glory. Romans 3:23 NIRV
In telling the story of Adam and Eve’s sin, I realized my kids did not really understand what sin meant.
In college, our college pastor shared an illustration for sin. In archery, when an arrow misses the bullseye, it is called sin. It means to “miss the mark.”
I drew a target, and had my kids throw sock balls. I told them they had to hit the middle every time. At first they thought it was fun, but quickly it turned to frustration.
Then we talked about how God is holy, and perfect. He is like the bullseye of the target. To be close to God, we must meet His standards of perfection too.
But we sin. Just like the many failed attempts to be perfect on the target, we fail in our words, our thoughts, and our actions to be perfect like God.
We don’t measure up. We miss the mark. We are not good enough even in our very best attempts. We need help.
Our sin separates us from God.
When you sin, the pay you get is death. Romans 6:23a NIRV
This can be a tough concept for young kids but they often understand and grasp a lot more than we give them credit for!
You are creating experiences that are stepping stones to their further understanding down the line.
The payment you get for “missing the mark” is separation from God (death). I explained this to my kids by setting up a mock courtroom.
|Our gavel in our courtroom|
When I called to order the court, I pretended that each of my children got in trouble for something. They chose what they had done to get in trouble (they had plenty of ideas)!
Then, I gave them their sentence (consequence). I reminded them of the story Abraham and Isaac…the act of a sacrifice to please God.
God demands a sacrifice (to give something up) to be forgiven, to please Him.
That’s when the hard part came. I told them that they had to give up something. (Even young kids, my kids, understood this.)
My daughter even offered to give me her favorite toy…my son his favorite car. Then I stepped in and offered to give something up myself. “That’s just what God did for you. He stepped in and gave something He loved instead,” I told them.
We finished up our mock courtroom with this–(God says…) “I love you both so much, that I will have my son, my only son, give up His life in your place. He will be the sacrifice for the wrong things you did.” You are free and forgiven.
Jesus is our ladder to God.
|From Jacob’s ladder|
The good news is that God knows we cannot save ourselves. We cannot be good enough. He made a way for us to be close to God.
But here is how God has shown his love for us. While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8 NIRV
But God gives you the gift of eternal life because of what Christ Jesus our Lord has done. Romans 6:23b NIRV
Christ died for sins once and for all time. The One who did what is right died for those who don’t do right. He died to bring you to God. 1 Peter 3:18 NIRV
In reading the story of Jacob’s ladder, Jesus is the only way we can get close to God. He is our ladder to heaven.
He was God’s son who came to earth to live as a human just like you and me. He died for us, and rose again three days later. He won the battle over death!
Jesus died in our place so we can be forgiven. Now, we can be close to God and live with Him in heaven.
Jesus is our ladder to God.
Eternal life is a gift!
|Andrew receiving the gift|
God’s grace has saved you because of your faith in Christ. Your salvation doesn’t come from anything you do. It is God’s gift. It is not based on anything you have done. No one can brag about earning it. Ephesians 2:8-9 NIRV
I tell my kids that baby Jesus coming to earth is God’s greatest gift to us. God sent Jesus to provide a way for us to have eternal life, to be rescued from our sin.
God gives us this gift for FREE. We don’t deserve it, we didn’t earn it…it is free.
I wrapped up a present and asked them, “What do you have to do to receive this present?” TAKE IT!
That’s right. I didn’t make you do anything to receive it. I love you, and wanted to share it with you.
God’s forgiveness is like that. We can do nothing to earn it or deserve it. It is His free gift to us because of what Jesus did for you and me.
We receive it by faith.
|Eleanor trusting the chair to catch her|
I tell my kids that faith is to have complete trust or confidence in something.
I had them stand by a chair, and asked…”Do you think this chair will catch you? Do you have faith it will hold you up?” Yes Mommy! Then they sat down.
Faith in Christ is to have complete trust and confidence that He died to forgive you of your sins, and rose from the dead, and that you will live with him forever in heaven.
If you believe in Jesus, that He died for your sins and rose again, then you can know you are saved!
Because you believed the good news, you are saved. 1 Corinthians 15:2 NIRV
I encourage my kids to tell Richard or I when they want to receive God’s gift of eternal life.
In the meantime, we pray, pray, pray!!! We trust God will do the work in their hearts in His perfect timing.
I end with this…I am praying that each of you has opportunties to share the gospel with your kids. I’m praying they will be rescued, and accept God’s gift of grace.
Just as Paul admitted to the Corinthians,
“My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a
demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God’s power (1 Corinthians 2:4-5).”
I am praying that God works through you not according to human wisdom, but by His power. And for His glory, may He draw each of our children closer to Him!