Family Devotional: Patience and Self-Control

This summer, we’re excited to have two different lesson units for the Preschool-Elementary kids on Sunday mornings! June 5-26 and July 10-24, we will be doing a Dr. Seuss-inspired unit on the Fruits of the Spirit, and August 7-21, we will be learning about interacting with God and the Holy Spirit through prayer, worship, and the Bible, all with an Olympics theme! Each of these lesson weeks, our staff will bring you a devotional idea you can use with your kids to help them take what they just learned on Sunday morning and integrate it into their daily lives.

By Patrick Showers, Associate Elementary Pastor

Woodland Hills Church

Galatians 5 lists fruits or outward actions/expressions that result in being connected to God. These fruits are an expression of our transforming heart as we gain a deeper understanding of God and are reminded that He knows us intimately. Of all the fruits listed, patience and self-control are the two that seem the most difficult to envision as a consistent part of my life. Don’t get me wrong – I desire patience, especially when dealing with irritating people or a child that just keeps bugging me and bugging me and bugging me and, uh, well, you get the point. I’m sure none of you can relate. In fact, I’ve come to believe that patience is missing from my gene pool. I come from a long line of relatives with a weak ability to patiently handle stress, irritation, or discomfort. I’m not sure where this genetic mutation first began, but the legacy has continued for several generations. So, believe me when I say patience was not modeled well in my childhood.

Then there is that next fruit: self-control, a word that has been feared by many throughout time. It is such a big deal in our culture that we have huge sections of libraries and bookstores dedicated to self-help. People crave the ability to control their eating habits, their relationships, their desires, and emotions. We see it on New Years’ Day when many people create a resolution and hope that this year will be different than the past. What usually happens with these resolutions? Most fail miserably in a short time. Here again my genetics have let me down. My family line has struggled with controlling their desires. You name it: alcoholism, overeating, over-spending, and the list goes on.

I’ve hit the opposite of genetic jackpot when it comes to these two fruits. Even when I concentrate my efforts and will towards patience or self-control, I can only manage success for short bursts and even then, the results might be mixed. However, once I realize that I cannot do this alone, that’s when God can really shine. My dependence upon Him draws me close and that is when the Spirit of God, the Spirit of Truth, and my Counselor shines through. The Fruits of the Spirit are a result of me + Jesus = new life.

When sharing the Fruit of the Spirit with our children, we can let them know that it is okay if we can’t do this alone because when we trust in God, when we let Him change us, then we will shine with His fruits.

Here are some ideas for sharing the fruit of patience & self-control with kids:

  • When you come upon an apple tree, what do you expect to see? Apples. The Fruit of the Spirit is what people might expect to see if someone is living their life for Jesus.
  • Save a rotting piece of fruit and have a good piece available. Then ask your children: “Which piece of fruit would you rather eat?” We desire to have fruit that isn’t rotten. We want fruit that looks healthy, tasty, and ripe. Following God’s ways helps us to be that healthy fruit and not a rotten fruit.
  • Ask them to think about fruit: It’s good for you, it keeps you healthy, and it reproduces more fruit. If you do things that are good for you, do things to be healthy and following God’s ways, then you are being what God wants for you and that looks like fruits of the Spirit.
  • Talk to your children about ways that they can grow closer to God: Reading their Bible, prayer, worship, going to Heroes Gate, and hanging out with other followers of Jesus. These are things that help healthy fruit grow in our lives. Just like fruit trees need sunshine, rain, and food to grow healthy fruit, we need to know God and stay connected to Him (like a friendship). Plant a bean seed and as it grows, remind kids to care for their hearts, as well.

Attached you will find a few activity pages, crafts, and coloring sheets to reinforce understanding of the Fruits of the Spirit in the lives of your little ones.

Patience & Self Control pages

patience copy

self-control copy

Family Devotional – Peace

This summer, we’re excited to have two different lesson units for the Preschool-Elementary kids on Sunday mornings! June 5-26 and July 10-24, we will be doing a Dr. Seuss-inspired unit on the Fruits of the Spirit, and August 7-21, we will be learning about interacting with God and the Holy Spirit through prayer, worship, and the Bible, all with an Olympics theme! Each of these lesson weeks, our staff will bring you a devotional idea you can use with your kids to help them take what they just learned on Sunday morning and integrate it into their daily lives.

By Teresa Sayles, Children’s Ministry Creative Arts Director, Woodland Hills Church

Peace can mean a lot of things in today’s world.  Ask your kids what they think of when they hear the word “peace.”  What do they think it means?  What images or things come to mind when they think about peace?

Next, read together Romans 12:17-18 and then read together Philippians 4:6-7 and point out that Paul wrote both letters, yet it seems like he’s talking about a different kind of peace in each of the letters.  Explain that there are actually two different kinds of peace that the Holy Spirit wants to help us grow and learn about in our lives.

The first is a peace we have with other people.  It includes not fighting with or being mean toward others, helping others who are fighting to stop and find a peaceful solution, and trying our best to be good examples by choosing God’s love instead of anger and hate and revenge.  Jesus calls us to be peacemakers in this world and to spread His love wherever we go and with everyone we meet.

The second kind of peace is a special peace that comes straight from God.  This kind of peace in Hebrew is called shalom (pronounced sha-lome).  Ask the kids to say that word with you a couple of times.  Shalom is a peace from God that settles down our hearts with His love and helps us to trust Him even when things are going wrong.  It’s the kind of peace Paul had when he was in jail and yet chose to sing praises to God all night (Acts 16:16-40).  It’s the kind of peace Mary had when she said she would take on the important job of being Jesus’ mom (Luke 1:26-38).  And it’s the kind of peace God’s Holy Spirit wants to give us each day, too!  We may have a terrible day or something may go really wrong, but instead of worrying about something or getting upset, we can know that God is with us through it all, and that can help us to have God’s peace as we let His Holy Spirit remind us of His never-ending love for us.

To help your kids think of how they can be peaceful peacemakers each day, grab a large sheet of paper, a piece of poster board, or another large writing material and write across the top: “We’re Peaceful Peacemakers!”  Then divide the remaining paper into two columns and label one, “Ways I was a Peacemaker This Week” and write “Times I Felt God’s Peace This Week” above the other.  Encourage the kids to decorate the paper as they like, leaving room within each column for writing and drawing.  Then, have each family member list a few ways they were peacemakers this week (ex. sharing a toy, not getting mad at a sibling, apologizing for something, etc.) or times when they felt God’s peace (ex. while praying, while playing outside on a nice day, when scared they remembered God is with them, etc.) and have them write or draw a picture of it in under the columns.  Lastly, put the list somewhere in your home where your family can continue to see it and update it as the week goes on.

You can also download coloring page like below for your kids to decorate as they are reminded that, even when they’re scared, they can still have God’s peace in their hearts because He is with them.

peace coloring sheet

Family Devotional – Love and Kindness

This summer, we’re excited to have two different lesson units for the Preschool-Elementary kids on Sunday mornings! June 5-26 and July 10-24, we will be doing a Dr. Seuss-inspired unit on the Fruits of the Spirit, and August 7-21, we will be learning about interacting with God and the Holy Spirit through prayer, worship, and the Bible, all with an Olympics theme! Each of these lesson weeks, our staff will bring you a devotional idea you can use with your kids to help them take what they just learned on Sunday morning and integrate it into their daily lives.

By Paula Bowlby, Associate Early Childhood Pastor

Woodland Hills Church

The word love is used so often these days that it can get confusing. “I love this TV show!” for example. Can you really love a TV show? What does love mean? What does God think love looks like? This past week, we talked about love and kindness in Heroes Gate and how we are to love God and others.

Read together: 1 Corinthians 13:4-7

Love never gives up.
Love cares more for others than for self.
Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have.
Love doesn’t strut,
Doesn’t have a swelled head,
Doesn’t force itself on others,
Isn’t always “me first,”
Doesn’t fly off the handle,
Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others,
Doesn’t revel when others grovel,
Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
Puts up with anything,
Trusts God always,
Always looks for the best,
Never looks back,
But keeps going to the end.

(The Message)

Question’s for conversation starters with your family:

  1. Can you think of a time when you felt very loved or someone showed kindness to you? How did that make you feel?
  2. Can you think of people you would like to show kindness and love to?
  3. Can you think of someone that it is a little harder to be kind and loving toward? How can you try to show them God’s love?
  4. Have you ever felt loved by God?

Prayer time – Pray for God’s help and God’s guidance as you try to show others His love. Ask for His help and opportunities to show love even when it’s not easy.

Family Devotional – Joy

 

This summer, we’re excited to have two different lesson units for the Preschool-Elementary kids on Sunday mornings! June 5-26 and July 10-24, we will be doing a Dr. Seuss-inspired unit on the Fruits of the Spirit, and August 7-21, we will be learning about interacting with God and the Holy Spirit through prayer, worship, and the Bible, all with an Olympics theme! Each of these lesson weeks, our staff will bring you a devotional idea you can use with your kids to help them take what they just learned on Sunday morning and integrate it into their daily lives.

By Patrick Showers, Associate Elementary Pastor

Woodland Hills Church

When we hear the word joy, a few things may pop up in our minds. We may think about the character from the Pixar movie “Inside Out.” Joy’s goal has always been to make sure Riley stays joyful. She is lighthearted, optimistic and determined to find the fun in every situation. As long as Riley is happy, so is Joy. “Inside Out” defines joy as a feeling that is tied to happiness or being optimistic.

You may even think of joy as being lighthearted or upbeat after watching this movie. Even the Bible agrees with these definitions.

Yet, the Bible has a different take on the word joy.

  • It’s more than a feeling
  • It’s more than something we can create or make happen.
  • It’s not dependent upon circumstance.
  • It is the triumph of faith, love, and hope in sad times, hard times, or challenging situations.
  • Hard times, sad times, and challenges can actually enhance joy.

We can look at God and the Bible through the lens of Jesus’ life, and we can do the same with joy. He is the prime example of joy. It didn’t matter whether things were going well or tough. His joy didn’t depend on the people around him. Even if he wasn’t feeling well or had pain, Jesus still had joy.

He may not have been making jokes or acting silly when filled with joy during those hard days, but he was confident that he was loved by God, important to God, and that better days were coming. He had love, faith, and hope.

He had confidence that God loved him, was always with him, celebrated his victories and comforted him in his loses, as well as knowing that the outcome didn’t diminish God’s love. His faith and hope and God’s love within the framework of their relationship created a way for joy to flourish in his life. Jesus also saw challenges as opportunities.

Children are often filled with joy. It is an extension of their childlike faith. When kids are confident of being loved and valued, they strum with joy. Like Joy in the movie, they are excited, optimistic, and lighthearted.   What if we tied that to the joy, which comes from the unchanging love of God?

  • He will never let them down
  • He is always with them
  • He provides guidance in the form of the Holy Spirit
  • He desires to be as close to them as parents
  • He is bigger than any challenge, sadness, or pain.

When we are filled with a Biblical Joy, our lives point out God’s fingerprint in our life during the good moments and the tough moments. When things are rough, it is important to remember how God is with us, think about the things that are going well or have gone well in our life, and how God is there to help and comfort us through sorrow, pain, and even suffering.

When I spent several months in the hospital recovering after an accident which left me paralyzed, God used a verse found in Zephaniah to remind me of this, and the Holy Spirit used it to reinforce a sense of joy even when I struggled.

Zephaniah 3:17, “For the Lord your God is living among you. He is a mighty savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fears.  He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.”

What a great picture of a God that is with us, is capable of standing up for us, enjoys us, comforts us, and is excited when things are going well. This is joy in my mind and you see it often in the life of Jesus.

This past Sunday, the kids in Heroes Gate learned about Joy as one of the fruits of the Holy Spirit found in Galatians 5. When we spend time in the presence of Jesus, we are filled with joy.

You will find below some activities for the kids: coloring pages, a word find, and Fruits of the Spirit coloring page.

We hope you find these helpful.

GGGFE.Lesson 2. Joy

 

 

Summer Preview Pack

Here’s a look ahead to what we’ll be learning in Heroes Gate this summer:

June 5-26; July 10-24: Summer curriculum begins in Heroes Gate! Toddlers will continue their interactive Bible video Bible Adventures while Preschool-5th grade will begin a summer series called God’s Gather and Grow Fruit Emporium, a series on the Fruit of the Spirit with creative stories told in the style of Dr. Seuss!

July 3, 31; August 28: Toddler sand Preschoolers will set off on more Bible Adventures these days while Kindergarten-5th grade will be blasting off to join the crew of Konnect Space Station as they help kids around the world know the message of God’s love.

August 7-21: Toddlers will continue with their Bible Adventures while Preschoolers and Elementary kids learn about the Holy Spirit with the help of the Olympic spirit.

As 6th graders have now “graduated” into the Echo youth group, we do not have lessons for them this summer. However, if your 6th grader would like to volunteer in Heroes Gate as a Student Helper, contact Paula Bowlby at pbowlby@whchurch.org.

We are also looking for adults to volunteer with us as our regular volunteers take a break for the summer. We’d love for you to consider volunteering 4 times over the coming summer months and helping the kids of Heroes Gate to know God’s love and their place in His story! To sign up, follow this link!