Family Devotional: Gentleness

This week, we finished our last lesson on the Fruits of the Spirit.   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

Being the parent of three little girls did not prepare me for having a son. My girls seemed innately gentle with their toys, especially dolls & stuffed animals. Even when they were upset with each other, they wouldn’t push or shove. Each time a new baby came into our house, they would clamor around to take turns holding and cuddling with the expertise of a well-seasoned grandma. When my son was able to begin crawling and walkie, I soon learned that he handled his toys very differently than his sisters. He wasn’t gentle with his clothes, his food, or with his toys. Don’t get me wrong, he wasn’t purposely damaging his stuff, but instead he played hard. Crashes, high speeds, squealing, and oops were a constant part of his daily life.
When he was two years old, his first cousin was born. We wondered how this seemingly ungentle toddler would respond to a baby crawling around and grabbing his toys. Their first interactions revealed a side of our son we didn’t realize was there. He was patient, gentle, and shared willingly, even when a toy was ripped from his grasp. Over the past 4 years, he has had lots of practice with babies, toddlers, and even preschool cousins interfering with his activities, grabbing his toys, and even breaking his stuff. Yet, through it all he has been extremely patient and gentle.

Galatians 5 describes one of the fruits of the Holy Spirit’s presence in our life as gentleness. What is gentleness? It is the humble and meek attitude of wanting to help other people instead of wanting to be superior to them. This attitude flows from a spirit of real love for the individual—having true, outgoing concern for his or her well-being. This attitude is shown in how we think about, treat, and what we say to others. Jesus lived His life by humbly responding to others with gentleness instead of asserting His authority or power over them. He patiently cared for people and desired that all would find healing in God’s love and grace.

Gentleness isn’t our normal response in every situation. If someone tries to take something from us, breaks our stuff, or yells at us, our first response doesn’t usually sound gentle. Instead, we may get angry, yell back, or worse. The key here is spending time with Jesus. When we spend time in prayer, in worship, reading the Bible, and with other Christians, we find it easier to respond like Jesus would.

Ask your kids to think about how much they learn and understand during the school year. They may have mastered addition or multiplication, but when they take three months off during the summer, they can start to forget some of what they learned. Instead of being really good at it, they may struggle until they’ve had some practice. Spending time with Jesus helps us to grow, learn new skills, and respond to tough situations with His help. When we are away from Him for a while, we start to forget or lose some of these skills.

Gentleness also takes some practice. Try role-playing some scenarios that usually cause members of your family to get upset or angry. Then try out some responses that involve being gentle instead. If we practice enough times, then this new skill can become automatic. For example, when you first began to read, you were probably slow. Over time, with practice, your reading got better and better.

Here’s a challenge for your family: Try spending 5 minutes each day with Jesus. It can be in prayer, worship, Bible reading, or writing to Him. Then watch for opportunities to respond with gentleness instead of anger and help each other with gentle reminders as situations occur.

Family Devotional: Faithfulness

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 Creative Arts Director

Woodland Hills Church

In our world, a person’s word isn’t always something we can count on. But God is always faithful to what He says and promises. Ask your kids what it means to be “faithful” and ask them to give examples of what faithfulness looks like. If they don’t know what it means, explain that being faithful means you do what you say you will do. You can be counted on to keep your promises.

Read Psalm 136 together and talk about the different ways the psalm celebrates how God is faithful. Are there ways they’ve seen God be faithful and keep His promises to them? (ex. they know God is always with them, God loves them all the time, etc.)

Explain that, because God is faithful and keeps His promises, He wants us to do our best to be faithful to Him and to others, as well. When we choose to be faithful and keep our promises, people know we can be counted on. When they need something, they will know we are the people they can turn to. Part of being a good friend is choosing to be faithful toward others. Ask them for examples of how they’ve seen other people (friends or family members) be faithful and keep their promises or show they can be relied upon to help out.

If you have it in your home or want to get it from the library, read Dr. Seuss’s Horton Hatches the Egg and talk about how Horton shows “an elephant’s faithful one hundred percent.” Discuss how Horton chose to be faithful despite all that happened to him and what people said, and talk about how he was rewarded in the end for his faithfulness.

For a fun family activity around faithfulness, read Psalm 136 again (or part of it if you have younger children), and come up with actions for the words or make it into a song with a dance! You could even make it into a music video!

You can also download this coloring page for your kids to decorate as they are reminded to be faithful people who can be counted on to keep their word and help others.

Goodness Devotional and Resources for Tough Family Discussions

A Note to Our Parents: We are including this week’s devotional on the spiritual fruit of Goodness in this blog post, which you will find near the end. First, however, we realize it’s been a tough summer with the various events and violence in the United States, and this past week, one of those events was very close to home. You as parents may be concerned and looking for simple ways to talk to your kids about current events. We have come up with a few related Biblical resources and themes that you can use to engage and talk with your kids at whatever level you deem best. We highly recommend you take the time to listen to Greg’s sermon – Philando and Jeronimo – from this past weekend if you haven’t already for a Kingdom perspective.

We would encourage you to talk to your kids about who Jesus is, how he loves unconditionally, and how he showed his love for all throughout his time here on earth. Good Bible passages that illustrate Jesus showing love to everyone would be Matthew 6:43-48 (Loving Your Enemies), Matthew 8:5-13 (Jesus and the Roman Centurion), Matthew 9:18-26 (Jesus Heals a Sick Woman), Luke 19:1-9 (Jesus and Zacchaeus), John 4:4-30 (Jesus and the Samaritan Woman), and John 11:1-44 (Jesus Raises Lazarus) along with any of the accounts of Jesus’ death on the cross and his resurrection. For a family devotional on Kingdom love and kindness, check out our blog post from June 15th.

Identity is key to helping us know how to react in situations, and it may be helpful for your family to talk about what it means to be a child of God and a follower of Christ. One passage you may want to check out that deals with our identity in Christ would be 2 Corinthians 5:16-21, “So from now on we don’t look at anyone the way the world does. At one time we looked at Christ in that way. But we don’t anymore. When anyone lives in Christ, the new creation has come. The old is gone! The new is here! All this is from God. He brought us back to himself through Christ’s death on the cross. And he has given us the task of bringing others back to him through Christ. God was bringing the world back to himself through Christ. He did not hold people’s sins against them. God has trusted us with the message that people may be brought back to him. So we are Christ’s official messengers. It is as if God were making his appeal through us. Here is what Christ wants us to beg you to do. Come back to God! Christ didn’t have any sin. But God made him become sin for us. So we can be made right with God because of what Christ has done for us.” Other identity passages include Galatians 3:26-29 (All One in Christ), 1 Corinthians 12:12-26 (Parts of One Body), and 1 John 3:1-3 (Children of God).

Jesus also came to bring peace, and as his followers, we are called to live out that same peace with everyone. On this topic, you may want to read together 2 Corinthians 13:11, “Finally, brothers and sisters, be joyful! Work to make things right with one another. Help one another and agree with one another. Live in peace. And the God who gives love and peace will be with you.” Other helpful verses on this topic are Romans 12:17-18 and James 3:17-18. For a family devotional on this topic, check out our blog post from June 23rd.

If you find your kids are feeling fearful or worried with any of the topics you raise or other things they may hear, we would recommend taking time as a family to pray together and to reaffirm the love and power of Jesus by checking out stories and verses such as Isaiah 41:10 (God is with You), Mark 4:35-41 (Jesus Calms the Storm), Luke 12:22-34 (Do Not Worry), and John 10:1-18 (Jesus as the Good Shepherd).

If your children are old enough, you may also want to look at Ephesians 6:18, “At all times, pray by the power of the Spirit. Pray all kinds of prayers. Be watchful, so that you can pray. Always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.” As the book of James reminds us, our prayers are powerful and effective, and we encourage your family to pray through all of this together and keep Jesus and his love your focus.


This Week’s Family Devotional on Goodness:

At first glance, “goodness” may seem like it’s about following rules and being “good.” But when Paul was listing the fruits of the Spirit in his letter to the Galatians (5: 22), he meant a goodness of generosity. This generosity is about sharing everything you have and you are with others. So whether it’s your time, your money, your talents, or your love, God calls us to be generous and put the needs of others before ourselves.

Read Romans 12:10, 1 Corinthians 10:24, and Philippians 2:3-4 together and talk about what it might look like for your family members to love others unconditionally and put their needs above your own. Encourage them to specifically think of people whom they may find it difficult to love and have them pray about ways they can show God’s love to them and believe the best about them no matter what.

Brainstorm together some ideas and ways in which your family and its individual members can show love to others and put them first. Some suggestions might be drawing pictures for a neighbor, making cookies for a community event, volunteering at a food shelf, or other random acts of kindness. Encourage them to also think of ways they can show generous love to people all over the world, whether that’s through prayer, raising donations for a non-profit, or befriending a child in his/her class that seems to be having a rough time.

Video Lessons from Sunday

Due to it being a holiday weekend, we took a break from our regular live lessons this past Sunday and played videos for the kids that taught them about resisting temptation and how we can pray anytime, anywhere.  These videos come from Life.Church, and we wanted to share a link with you in case you wanted to catch what your child watched this past Sunday (or if they weren’t here and wanted to see what their classmates watched).

For Elementary: Follow the link below and go to the section entitled – “Part 3 – Temptation: The Button – Good or Evil?” and find the “Teaching Segment Video” area – click the arrow on the right to show the viewing options.  Click the “Preview” button beside the MOV, MP4, or WMV formats – whichever you prefer.

For Toddlers and Preschool: Follow the link below and to the first section (Group Elements).  Go to the “Message Video” section and click the arrow on the right for viewing options.  Click the “Preview” button beside the MOV, MP4, or WMV formats – whichever you prefer.