I was blowing bubbles with my kids the other day, and I was struck by the beauty of the colors in each bubble. Every single bubble, big and small, was bedecked with an iridescent rainbow. As I looked at those rainbows, visual reminders of God’s promises and His faithfulness, I thought about how good our God is to us. In every single circumstance in our life, big and small, His beauty shines through as He reminds us of His faithfulness in keeping His promises to His children.
We wanted to share with you some highlights from our curriculum, so that your child will be able to follow along with the lessons they are being taught in Children’s Ministry. This blog post contains information about this week’s lesson from our Gospel Story curriculum, which is being taught to 3 & 4 year olds, up through 3rd grade, as well as this week’s lesson from our New City Catechism that is being taught to 4th-5th graders. May it brighten your week and bless you!
The lesson for this week from the Gospel Story Bible is called Four Men in a Furnace, about Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. The biblical account for this story can be found in Daniel, chapter 3. If you would like to read the child-friendly version of this story from the Gospel Story Bible, you may click here. There is also a preschool version of the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego from the Beginner’s Gospel Story Bible, which you can read by clicking here. To access the weekly coloring sheet, click here, then scroll down to the last page.
Play a game of Simon Says with your child, only change the words to say Bible Says. For example, "Bible Says follow God" (march in place), "Bible Says worship" (lift your hands to demonstrate worship), "Bible Says rest" (close your eyes and tilt your head to rest on your shoulder). Every now and then, change the words to say "Idol Says". If Idol Says follow me, or Idol Says worship, your child should not listen, just as Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego did not listen to the command to worship idols.
This is a fun story to dramatize with legos or other toys. Gather some lego people, or other small figurines, to be Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, as well as King Nebuchadnezzar. One other to be the Angel of the Lord. Use legos, or blocks, to build a tall tower to represent the idol that King Nebuchadnezzar built. Use more legos, or blocks, to build the furnace. Act out the story, letting your child imagine the scene and recognize the courage and faith of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, as well as the mighty power and love of God.
Play a trust game with eggs. You will need a hard boiled egg as well as some raw eggs in the carton. Take your child outside for this activity, to help emphasize the messiness of cracking a raw egg. Ask your child if they trust you to crack an egg on their head. You can "accidentally" drop a raw egg while you are asking them, to build dramatic tension. Talk with your child about trust, and assure them that they can trust you, and you will not get messy egg all in their hair. When they are finally ready to trust you, use the hard boiled egg and crack it on their head, then peel it and bite into it. Use this activity to talk about how Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego trusted God when they were thrown into the fiery furnace. They trusted that God was in control and that He had a plan. We can trust Him, too.
If you have an older child, you can talk with them about our heart idols we are all prone to have. The lesson recommends gathering a 20 dollar bill, a mirror, a video game controller, and a pair of headphones. The $20 represents our love of wealth and its corresponding independence and power. The mirror represents our love of reputation and self. The game controller represents our love of power and control. The headphones represent our love of peace and privacy. These things are not bad things, but our hearts can be tempted to love them too much, to the point of idolatry. Think back to Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, how they made the right choice because they trusted in God, who meant more to them than their very lives. They ended up standing with Jesus in the fire. When we trust in God, we can also know that Jesus is standing with us.
There are a couple of teaching points that are good to draw out to your child as you go through this lesson. First of all, we learn that idols cannot save, God can. Read Psalm 115:3-8 with your child to learn what an idol is. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were right not to bow down and worship the statue made by King Nebuchadnezzar. That statue could do nothing to help them or save them. Instead, they put their trust in God, even in the face of their punishment, a fiery furnace. The furnace was hot enough to have melted the idol if it had been in there with them. But the Angel of the Lord, whom many believe to have been Jesus Himself, did not burn up, and He protected Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego so that they did not burn up either. Jesus protected them and was with them. Secondly, we learn that we can trust God, no matter what. It's easy to fall into the pattern of telling our children that "God will keep you safe", and He is, in fact, our Protector (Psalm 68:4-6), but what's amazing about this story is that Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego not only had faith that God would protect them, but they even had faith if He chose not to! They knew that whether they lived or died, God was still in control, God was still watching over them, and God was still working His plan for our good and His glory. This is an incredibly powerful truth to understand about God! May we all grow in our understanding of what it looks like to walk in this kind of faith and trust in our great God and Savior!
Our Sword Bible Memory Verse for July comes from Psalm 118. For preschoolers, they are learning Psalm 118:24. For K-3rd grade, they are learning Psalm 118:22-24. To see the verses printed out, you can click here and go to Sword Verse #17.
Our New City Catechism question for this week is question #51 - “Of what advantage to us is Christ’s ascension?” Answer - “Christ is now advocating for us in the presence of His Father and also sends us His Spirit.” The biblical passage for this lesson can be found in Romans 8:3-39. The weekly memory verse for this age group is Romans 8:34.
The weekly resource for this lesson can be found by clicking here. It lists several scenarios that involve 3 persons: a reader of the scenario, an advocate, and a judge. Choose a couple different ones and take turns with your child being the different parts. If you have multiple children old enough for this exercise, pull them in and fill all the roles. Talk about how we can’t always speak for ourselves, and we need an advocate to speak for us. That’s what Jesus is doing before the throne. He is advocating for us, speaking for us, when our sins and weakness make us unable to speak for ourselves. Praise the Lord!
There is also a neat story about hope that you can share with your children. After you read it, have them tell you what thought gives Carlos hope in this story:
Carlos loved to read. When he was lost in a book, he had no idea what was going on around him. One day, Carlos started reading a new book on the bus on the way home from school. Suddenly, he heard the bus driver say, “Last stop, everybody off!” Carlos had missed his stop! Normally when this happened, Carlos told the bus driver, which was the right thing to do. But today there was a new driver and Carlos was too embarrassed. He picked up his backpack and got off the bus. The other children had already scattered. Carlos didn’t recognize any of the houses. He had no idea where he was! He felt totally hopeless. He sat down on the curb with his head in his hands. Then he remembered that he had learned in church that Jesus is his advocate in heaven, interceding on his behalf. This made him feel less alone. Surely Jesus could get him home. And Jesus had given him the Holy Spirit to guide him. Carlos felt hope rise in his heart, even though he still didn’t know how to get home. He picked up his backpack and started walking. In the distance, he could see a playground. As he got closer, he recognized the swing set with the bright orange swings. That was the playground across from his grandmother’s house! He ran across the playground, and sure enough, there was his grandmother’s house. Carlos prayed a prayer of thanksgiving as he looked both ways and crossed the street. He could see his grandmother through the window. He was not lost anymore!
If you’re looking for other resources for ideas and activities you can do with your children to help them use their time to invest in God’s kingdom, here are some we recommend:
https://youtu.be/7KL1AXb-4lQ (A song about Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego)
Printable-bible-verse-coloring-pages (Some free scripture coloring pages)
https://pin.it/3JMTzsy (Helpful verses for taming the tongue)