SIX OR SO NECCO CONVERSATION HEARTS - sort through beforehand and use only ones that are okay with this age
Have you ever heard a word and not known what it meant? It feels a little silly, doesn't it? How do you figure out what a word means?
Let's imagine that we don't know the meaning of a word we ALL know, and that word is LOVE (write on white board).
And let's pretend that the only clues we have to what the word "love" means come from Necco conversation hearts. So I'm going to give out a few hearts to some volunteers, who will read to us what's on the heart. And then we're going to brainstorm together what this new word "love" might mean.
(invite children to read what's on the heart one at a time and after each child reads the message, ask the kids to talk more about what "love" might mean, and write that on the white board - choose some hearts that indicate how you look means you'll be loved, that love is all about romance, etc.).
Okay, thanks everyone. So let's look at all the ideas we had about "love".
Now let's look at another way we might understand love by watching this video clip:
(choose scene from film or YouTube that shows self-sacrificing, tender love - the story of the Hoyt father and son is amazing!).
If you didn't know the meaning of the word "love" and all you saw was this video, what would you think "love" meant?
(let kids answer)
We use the word "love" all the time. We say we "love" a video game or a TV show or LOVE ice cream. We talk about God loving us and sometimes it sounds like God's love is about as serious as loving ice cream!
God's love has a lot in common with the love of this dad for his son. What ways can you think of?
(let kids answer).
Now let's look at 1 John 4:10 and 19
You'll never find love like this any where on earth. It's a one-of-a-kind love. It's so different from what our Necco conversation hearts tell us love is, right?
Maybe you and I get a little taste of this love when we're snuggled next to our mom or dad, and feel really, really safe. God's love is even better!
Let's thank God for His undeserved love that cost him BIG time!
Sunday, October 21, 2012
YEAR 1 – FAITH - RECEIVING GOD’S GIFT OF ETERNAL LIFE
three Boxes gift wrapped - one with an old lunch in it, one that's empty, and the third is a beautiful box with a small stuffed animal in it and a note inside that says "You've opened the best gift."
Way back in September, we have been talking in Council Time about a BIG problem that every human being has – sin. And we’ve talked about the problems sin brings, including the BIG one which is that sin separates us from God.
We spent some time looking at what God has done to solve sin’s awful problem – sending His only Son, Jesus, to make a swap with us – to take our sins on him, and to give us his goodness.
We talked about repentance, what it means to be deeply sorry for our sins. One way to look at this deep sorrow for sins is to be totally honest before God and to tell him that there is nothing in us that can earn his love.
There’s one final piece that we need to know, and that how we get this wonderful gift from God. It's the final piece and it is called faith.
Take out the 3 Boxes and put them in front of you in a line.
Now the first thing we need to know about faith is going to be explained by these 3 boxes.
Let’s see, what can we tell about these boxes just by looking at them?
(have leftover lunch inside one - ewwww - this is gross! Who would ever call this a gift? Sometimes things look good on the outside, but they are icky on the inside.
Okay, let's open the second one (shake it, say - I don't hear anything) - open it up - Wow, this isn't a gift either - this box is just empty). that's a big disappointment.
Maybe this third one is the real gift. What do you think? (Shake it - at least there's something INSIDE this one, right?)
Open up the box - hey look at this! My favorite (hug the stuffed animal and ham it up. THIS is a real gift, right! But look, there's a note. (read note) Yup - this was the best.
Now what if we all agreed –
and Box #2
were not worth it. But when we looked at box #3 we thought - yes, this gift
#3 really looks like the one that is
worth it. And then...we jus t left the gift here, and walked away?
Gifts are great, right? But there’s something important about gifts, that, maybe I can show it best by having a volunteer come forward
(whisper to volunteer that whatever I do or say, he/she should not take the gift)
I am so happy that xx is here, and I have something wonderful for her I know she’ll like it. I want to gift it to her because I like her. Am I right, xx, that you didn’t do anything to earn this gift?
Did you talk with me earlier and ask me for this gift? Were you really, really good and therefore somehow earned this gift?
Okay, well, I am so happy to give you this gift
(try again –
Um, here, this is for you. Clubbers, what is the problem?
She isn’t taking the gift!
What does she need to do? Receive the gift.
(Give her the gift to open)
Clubbers, we just had a little illustration of what faith is. God has offered you and me a wonderful, wonderful gift in Jesus. He has offered to take away all your sins, to forgive you, to make you His child, to give you eternal life.
Faith is telling God you want this gift. Faith isn’t something we do to impress God. It’s merely putting out our hands, and receiving.
Open your Bibles to Ephesians 2:8-9
God offers this gift to you, no matter if you are young or old. But receiving the gift is not automatic. God calls you to receive it, to take it – and that’s called faith.
30 CORE COMMITMENTS – PRAYER
Let’s imagine that you and are in an amazing spaceship that is traveling in orbit around the earth. This spaceship has a special type of sensor that can listen in on all the prayers being said to God – prayers spoken out loud or prayers just spoken silently. Our spaceship travels over all the places of the earth – North America, South America, Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia and even Antarctica. (Write PRAY lengthwise on the board)
What do you think we’d hear when we put on our headphones and turn on the sensor that hears the prayers?
(wait for answers)
Write PRAY on the board, then add in smaller letters
Now think of all the prayers we imagined we heard. If these 4 words help us think of ways we pray to God, which one best describes the prayers we heard?
God really does want to know what we need and what we’re concerned about – the things we’d ask for – let’s turn to Matthew 7:7-11
(God wants us to ask and he will give us what we need). But God wants more than just asking when we talk to him.
But imagine if I was talking to you, and every time I talked with you, all I talked about was what I needed. God wants us to talk to him about what we need, but there are other important things beyond what we need.
Let’s begin with the “P” – praise. Let’s say I saw Gian practice hard in soccer and I watched him play a game. I watched all that hard work pay off when he was able to move around several opponents and get the ball right into the goal. What could I say to Gian that would praise him?
(you’re becoming a strong part of the team)
We see something about Gian and tell him. God wants praise too, not because he’s a great soccer player, but mostly because he’s wonderful beyond anything humans are. God isn’t proud to want praise. He’s the only one who is worth it, worthy to be praised. Turn to Revelation 4:11
Here’s just one reason God is worth praising – He’s the Creator and what a creation He made!!!
Praise means – wow, God, you’re amazing!
Repent – or “sorry” prayers:
We know the Bible tells us we are all sinners – Romans 3:23. Jeremiah 17:9
God has made a way for us to be forgiven – but part of that forgiveness involves something called “repenting”. Maybe you’ve done something wrong – maybe fought with your brother or sister, and your mom says – say you’re sorry – and you say (wait for kids)…sorry. And maybe 1 minute later, when mom’s out of the room, you hit your sister for telling mom on you.
Hm – repenting? Sorry? What do you think?
Repenting looks more like this: Turn to Psalm 51
Psalm 51:3&4 (I’m wrong and guilty)
51:17 – broken hearted – sorrow, sad
Forgive me – 51:2
Change me – 51:10
What does God think of a prayer like this? Is he mad at me when I sin? He hates sin, but what does He think of someone who is truly sorry?
(read 51:17 again)
Ask – we know well about this
Yield – (have an object and invite someone forward – have us both hold onto it, and then give it to him/her)
What did I just do? I yielded.
Remember last week when we talked about saying “You’re not the boss of me”?
We can push God away and tell him He has no business telling us how to live. But when we decide to follow Jesus, we agree that God is the boss of me.
We “yield” to God and let Him be the boss. And that is the best decision we can make. If God is Creator, and what he does is the best, we make a very, very smart decision to yield to God.
So now we know there’s lots more to prayer than just asking. (Review).
Now I have an important question for you:
Is there anyone you pray for and who prays for you?
The Bible tells us that God listens to prayers. He will listen to you when you ask Him to help someone else. He will listen to someone else who asks Him to help you. But He wants you to ask.
So who could that person be who might say – yes, I’ll pray for you not just today, but often? Who would you be willing to pray for not just today but often?
I want to give you 2 gifts from 2 people at Westerly who thought these would be really helpful – these bracelets were created to be in twos – one to keep and one to give to someone with the promise to pray for one another. (These silicone bracelets were from a National Day of Prayer event).
(Hand out bracelets).
T&T Leaders, please take one and help it remind you to pray for your handbook kids.
Once everyone gets 2 bracelets, put one on yourself and keep the other to give away.
On the outside of the bracelets are the letters PRAY, and on the inside are the words we just talked about.
So to close, I want you to put on your bracelet and then put your other hand on it.
God, we’re sorry that sometimes all we do is ask you for things and don’t ever tell you we’re sorry for the sins we do, or tell you that you are wonderful. We’re sorry that we live like we’re the bosses, but you really are the boss.
Lord, let these bracelets help us find a friend who will pray for us – special prayer friends.
Table with newspaper
Sharp small knife
Candle and matches
We’ve been talking this fall about the huge love God has for you and me and the world – a love that gave us this wonderful book, the Bible, so we could know who God is. A huge love that helps us when we are in trouble.
Today, with Halloween so close, we’re going to use this beautiful big pumpkin to help us understand better the greatest way God helps us, and I need a few readers:
(Have on index cards)
1 John 1:9
2 Corinthians 5:17
And finally I need a 6th grader to help me up front.
So I’ve already gotten this pumpkin started a bit, but x, can you finish opening it up at the top? Let’s tip over the pumpkin so everybody sees what’s inside. Why don’t you get your hands right into that stuff!
· How is the stuff x is pulling out of the pumpkin like the sin that we have in our hearts? (Jeremiah 17:9)
Okay, let’s clean it out. We’re pulling it out all that slimy, nasty stuff and cleaning it out, aren’t we? Let’s have x read 1 John 1:9
When we put our faith in Jesus, he helps us by removing the sin that pushes God away from us. That’s called God’s forgiveness.
· How is forgiveness like cleaning out the pumpkin?
Okay, x, let’s draw a happy face on this pumpkin because God is doing something really wonderful here! While x is cutting the face out, x, please read 2 Cor. 5:17
· How is x making this pumpkin into something new? How does Jesus make us new creations?
Well, this pumpkin looks mighty fine – it’s cleaned out, is new a jack-o-lantern, but it’s kind of dark inside, isn’t it? I think it needs some light inside.
(put candle inside pumpkin and light it, put on lid).
Could we have our final reader read Matt. 5:14-16
(Turn off room lights)
· How is the light in the pumpkin like the way God wants us to shine?
· How does God want our light to shine before others? How did we do this in a small way tonight? (Not so people will notice us, but so they think about God)
If you made a beautiful jack-o-lantern like this, would you light it and then put it in a closet? No? Why not?
So Jesus says – when we have become new creations in Jesus, we need to be with people, to help them learn about Jesus and his great gift of forgiveness too.
“Build my Life”
Beginning tonight, we’re starting a 10-week series:
It matters how I live
Tonight we want to begin by thinking about who has the authority to tell us what to do. You and I have many people in our lives who have authority over us. Can you think of some:
· many adults
What makes it easy to obey someone in authority?
What makes it hard?
· I believe they care about me
· I think they are asking me to do something good for me
· I trust them
· they have thought it through before asking me
· They don’t care about me
· They have dumb rules
· I don’t trust them
· they are asking me to do something that is bad for me
It isn’t always easy to obey people in authority, is it? Sometimes we want to do what WE WANT to do!
I want you to get out your Bibles and look at the very last book of the Bible - Revelation. This book is about the end of time - how God will finally destroy all things that are evil and God will reign as King without any enemies.
Turn to chapter 19:11-16
Now this is a powerful word picture, isn’t it? What things did you notice about the person on the horse?
· righteous judge
· makes war
· eyes on fire
· word of God
· armies following him
· king of king
· lord of lords
Now what does it mean, king of kings, lord of Lords?
What kind of a Lord is Jesus?
Faithful - he never betrays or tricks you
He is true - he never lies to you
he cares about true and hates evil
he is powerful
What would it mean to have Jesus be Lord of your life?
What would Jesus ask you to do?
Sometimes we’re afraid that Jesus will ask us to do impossible things or that he will ask us to do the very hardest thing we could imagine. Or that he will hurt us somehow. Let’s see what the Bible says about the plans God has for you and me
What kinds of plans does God have?
For wholeness and not for evil
to give you future and a hope
Now let’s imagine this circle is you. Let’s write inside all the things that make you up:
Inside let’s put a chair. Whoever sits in that chair decides what to do with all the parts of your life. Let’s pretend this is me. And so I’ll write my name - “Mary” on the chair. Everybody who has ever been born sits in this center place in their lives.
Now let’s imagine that something new has happened to me. I have understood that I have sinned against God and deserve His punishment. I am sorry for all the wrong things I have done. And I have asked God to forgive me. I understand that God sent Jesus into the world to take my punishment and give me His goodness. This is great news. And God will forgive me the next time I sin and ask Him to forgive me.
But God wants me to begin to change - and He wants to be Lord of me. Can I trust him? Will he want the best for me? Are his laws good? Yes.
(Erase Mary and put God)
I hope you understand that it is not easy to say “yes” to God in this way. The will to run our own lives is very, very strong. But when we are on the seat, our own plans are often not good at all for us. It may be easy to say “yes” to God in one place, and harder in another. You and I need to grow in our trust that having God in control is the very best thing for us.
Are you willing to do what Jesus wants? Who is in control? Are you in the control seat?
Turn my eyes from looking at worthless things;
and give me life in your ways.
6 pens and pack of index cards
CD player, laptop and projector
Opening Song: Ultimate Adventure
Computer and powerpoint with Bradford proclamation
Announcements – no AWANA next week, Store on 12/7 (2 weeks)
Have children sit in front with their handbook leaders in small circles. Have a pack of index cards, 6 pens and a large clear bowl.
In Children’s Church I like to teach the kids that there are 4 kinds of prayers.
- Please prayers – what do you think those are?
- Sorry prayers – “ “
- Praise prayers – can you think of what these are?
- And finally, thanks prayers.
Most of the time we only do please prayers – we ask God for things we need. But God loves to hear the other 3 kinds of prayers too. He loves to hear us tell him what we have done wrong and we are sorry. He loves to hear us tell Him how amazing He is – that’s what praise is. And he loves us to thank him for what He has done for us.
Next week is Thanksgiving, and we mostly think of it as a day with lots and lots of food! Sometimes we have family with us, and it’s a fun, happy day. But when our country started way back in the 1600s, thanksgiving was a very different celebration. When the first European settlement came to America at Plymouth Rock almost 400 years ago, the first governor’s name was William Bradford. Most of you know that these early settlers suffered a great deal when they arrived here. The winters were very cold – not like the winters we have been having lately. Many people didn’t have enough food and became week. Many got sick and died. Of the original 102 people who arrived, only about 50 survived those first 2 years. But in that second year, things began to change. And so in 1623, Governor Bradford issued an official proclamation, calling everyone in the whole colony to a day of just for thanksgiving. Here is what he wrote in his proclamation (overhead version so all can read with you?):
Now I, your magistrate, do proclaim that all ye Pilgrims, with your wives and ye little ones, do gather at ye meeting house, on ye hill, between the hours of 9 and 12 in the day time, on Thursday, November 29th, of the year of our Lord one thousand six hundred and twenty-three and the third year since ye Pilgrims landed on ye Pilgrim Rock, there to listen to ye pastor and render thanksgiving to ye Almighty God for all His blessings.
Ye Governor of Ye Colony
Now let’s think - what’s missing from this Thanksgiving that William Bradford calls for compared to a traditional Thanksgiving in America?
Does he say anything about a big meal?
Did they all get together for a football game?
Was there a big parade in NYC to kick off Santa coming to town?
Thanksgiving is to be a day to give thanks to God for all his blessings. And they were to get together for 3 whole hours to do this! And I think that 3 hours was just fine, because they were very very grateful!
So tonight, since we won’t meet next week, we want to do just what William Bradford urged those people to do, to stop and thank God for all his blessings.
So we are going to think of as many ways as we can of reasons to thank God.
- Maybe you can thank God for being healthy, just like the Pilgrims did.
- Or maybe you can thank God for the soft bed you have to sleep in every night where you are safe.
- Or maybe for the family God has given you who love you and care for you.
- Maybe you can thank God for being a God who loves the world or who made this amazing and beautiful world
I’m going to ask you to get in a circle with your handbook leader, and talk about what you can thank God for. Leaders, I want you to write down one reason for thanksgiving that your kids tell you on each index card and I will give you 3 minutes to write down as many blessings as your handbook group can think of.
Okay, here’s how we are going to do a real Thanksgiving tonight. Instead of asking your leaders to just read out the things we are thankful for, we’re going to tell God! So leaders, please get your group’s cards and come forward.
I am going to begin the prayer and when I stop, I am going to ask Bonnie to come up and read out the things her group has told her as a prayer of thanks, and as you read them, put them in the bowl. And when Bonnie is done, I will point to Mr. Mika who will come up and read what his group has said as a prayer of thanks and we’ll give these prayers of thanksgiving until we’re all done, okay?
So leaders, we’ll start with Bonnie and then Ken, and when Ken is done please come up with your cards and read them as a prayer of thanks to God. And clubbers, I want us all to hold hands while we pray. I’ll start.
Loving God, tonight we want to have a Thanksgiving just for you. So as we read out the things we are thankful for, be hear what we have to say and be pleased with our thanks. Here are some of the things we are thankful for…Amen.
I wonder if you’ve heard people talk about what a person really cares about by saying - “That’s something close to their heart.”
It doesn’t really mean that if you opened them up and looked at the organ that pumps their blood, you’d see the things they care about stuck to their heart. What does it mean?
· Give me some examples of things that are close to people’s hearts?
· Why do you think knowing what’s close to someone’s heart helps you know them better?
I want us to look tonight at some things that are close to God’s heart, and one reason for doing this is so we can get to know God better.
I cut out a BIG heart because we’re going to think tonight about what is close to God’s heart, and I think of God as having A BIG HEART!
So I have few verses in the Bible to look up - Sword Drill or Volunteers:
“Do not rob the poor because he is poor,
or crush the afflicted at the gate.
For the LORD will plead their case
And take the life of those who rob them.
What is this verse saying: Proverbs gives us the way to live wisely in this world. Maybe you could think of it as walking through life with God’s light showing us the way.
(Walk using flashlight)
So this part of Proverbs is saying what? What group of people is it talking about? And what is it saying about them? How are we to treat them? Who is looking out for them, and ready to punish those who hurt these people?
Why does someone look out for someone else, or get angry when someone is harmed? It’s because they are special to him.
So let’s write on this part of God’s heart what we just learned He cares about:
One more verse:
“This is what the Lord Almighty says: Administer true justice, show mercy and compassion to one another. Do not oppress the widow or the fatherless, the alien or the poor. In your hearts do not think evil of each other.”
(HAVE THIS WRITTEN ON THE BOARD)
So what does this verse say about what or who is close to God’s heart?
Let’s write these on God’s heart too
Have markers and ask for volunteers - there are three things and 4 types of people that we hear about in this verse.
Now God cares so much about these people that a verse or 2 later, he says that he is angry with his people because they have seen people in need and made their hearts like stones - hard! And it says God became very angry. And one result of God’s anger was that when these people called to God, he wouldn’t listen.
Now it is a very bad thing to find out that God isn’t listening to you. But it didn’t have to be that way. If they had taken their hearts of stone, and softened them like God’s heart, God would be anxious to hear their prayers.
So, let’s make some connections to you and me. Here is the heart that shows just a few of the things close to God’s heart. There are many more, but these are important ones.
And we learned from the verses in Zechariah that when people make their hearts like stone against these people, God is very angry.
What then does that tell us about the kind of heart God wants us to have towards these people?
Now here’s a way to think about it. I wonder if you have ever noticed that there is something about you that is just like your mom or dad. Maybe it’s the color of your eyes, or the way your ears look, or how your toes look.
Or maybe it’s the way you say something, and someone laughs and says - you sound just like your dad!
God wants his children to look like Him. He wants people to look at His children and say - oh, don’t they remind you of their father? God! God wants your heart to be tender to the things His heart is tender towards. He doesn’t want His children to have hard, stony hearts towards the poor, and orphans, and widows, and strangers.
He wants my heart and your heart to be like his - to look at people in trouble with mercy and compassion, not with cold rejection. And you know that’s just what he did for you and me.
Let me read you one more verse - James 2:15-16
If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and be filled,” and yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that?
Your warmest thoughts towards someone who is poor - is worthless unless you give them what they need.
And so we’re going to do something through AWANA that will help people who don’t have the warm clothes they need, and we’ll do it because we know God’s heart is warm towards the poor, and we want to have hearts like our heavenly Dad.
I’ve brought some examples of what you might have in your home. These are really nice coats that my kids wore, but they can’t wear them any more - they’re too small. But they would be perfect for someone else.
Here’s another coat.
Now look - are they okay? Do they have holes, or are they smelly? No. They’re in good shape, and a kid wouldn’t mind wearing them.
And so we’re going to look for coats that kids would like to wear. We want you to talk with your moms and dads, and ask them who you could ask to give coats.
Maybe it’s an aunt or uncle. Maybe it’s families in your neighborhood. Maybe it’s people at your church. We could do a great drive just by asking Westerly people to help. But who will ask? If you want to talk with me afterwards about how to get this church to be a part, please come up after council time.
If you go to another church, you could ask your mom and dad how do to that.
I think we can know that God is very pleased by this. We’re caring for people very close to his heart.
If you do this again, the kids REALLY connected with the cartoons intro, but the transition to self-centeredness didn’t work. You need to either eliminate the cartoons part, or find a way to help the kids move beyond this!
VIDEO CLIP OF DICK AND RICK HOYT, marathon runners
How many of you watch cartoons? What are your favorites?
Why do you think people like to watch cartoons?
What kinds of things can happen in a cartoon that couldn’t happen in real life?
· Animals talk
· People get hurt but don’t really get hurt
· People pull things out of thin air to use as a prop – bug bunny gets a big mallet to bang someone on the head
Maybe when you were smaller you thought that some of the things you saw in cartoons would work in real life. Did any of you think that?
When is it fine to think this?
When might it be dangerous?
How would this world be if we acted like we were in cartoons? What if I really believed I was like Batman and could jump off a building and fly?
What if I really thought I could take up a big frying pan and hit my little sister on the head, and it wouldn’t hurt?
Sometimes we just don’t think – could something I want be good for me, but hurt someone else?
There are so many good things that God gives us. One wonderful blessing is that he frees us from just thinking about “me” and think about others too.
When I think only about myself, what am I?
I am being something called self-centered.
Here’s a good way to think about what it means to be self-centered. I want you to imagine what the solar system looks like. What’s on the far, far edges of our solar system?
What’s in the solar system as we move in from the edges?
What’s in the very center?
Our whole solar system revolves around the sun. That’s really good because we need the sun to have life! The sun warms the earth so we don’t freeze and die. It provides the energy for plants to make oxygen. It even gives us Vitamin D that keeps us healthy. You could say that our solar system is sun-centered. And that’s really good!
What would happen if I deep down believed that I was the center of the world, not like the sun, but that I was the most important thing in the world?
We sometimes call it selfishness. But selfishness is just a little part of being self-centered.
Sometimes we’re self-centered because we’re really afraid that we won’t get what we really want. We sometimes actually get panicky! Maybe you find this happens when there’s only one thing left – like a donut or a piece of candy. You want it so bad, and it’s so hard to think about anything else but how much you want that thing! It’s easy to see this in kids, but adults can be this way too.
What if everybody was out just for themselves?
What would happen if a mom or dad only cared for themselves and not the family? (kids really got the impact of this question)
What would happen if a kid only cared for herself and not the family?
When you and I become Christians, not only does God wash our sins away and make us clean, but he begins a big, big construction project in us. It’s a project that is going to change who’s the most important thing from being me to being God. This is such a huge project it is like moving the sun out of the center of the solar system! God moves ME out of the center and He moves into that place.
Maybe you’ve said to someone – you’re not the boss of me. When you and I become a Christian, we tell God – you ARE the boss of me!
(I don’t know that this idea below really made sense to the kids)
Do you know that when we act as if we are #1, we think we’re doing just what we want to do, but we are actually in slavery? The need to be #1 pushes us around and holds us down. I don’t know about you, but I HATE the idea of anyone pushing me around. But I LOVE the idea of someone helping me to be free!
When God frees me from needing to be the most important one, the funny and wonderful thing is that I am lots happier, really deep down happier! My heart comes alive! Because God made me and you to love God and other people.
I want to show you a wonderful video tonight. It’s the true story of a dad and a son. As you watch it, I want you to think about why the Dad did what he did.
(show video of Dick and Rick Hoyt – dad and son who run marathons together)
Okay, let’s talk about what we see.
- What challenge did this family faced?
- What new thing did the son want to do?
- What did you notice about the boy’s face as they ran together?
- Was it easy for the dad? Do you think he believes it’s worth it? What if the dad only care for himself? Would he be happier?
Boys and girls, that dad could have lived his life with him in the center. But what joy he would have missed, and how much joy others would have missed. Not only did he look full of joy, but wow –what a grin on his son’s face! And everyone watching them run couldn’t help but see love!
You and I can choose to live our whole lives with us in the center, like the sun. But that is a very awful way to live a life. God calls you and me to let HIM be the center and to get out of the middle. Will you do that?
Repeat Phil. 2:3-5
Picture of Martin Luther King Jr. and of Hitler
This past Monday & Tuesday, we had a remarkable 2 days. Monday was Martin Luther King Day, and what was Tuesday (Presidential Inauguration Day)?
(Hold up picture of MLK)
Martin Luther King had 4 children. Did you know that one of Martin Luther King’s sons was an honored guest at President Obama’s inauguration yesterday? Why would Obama want one of King’s children there?
The children of Martin Luther King Jr. are very, very proud of their father and their family name because of the good and brave things their father did to help end racism in our country. When people see these children, they think of their father.
But not all family names are names to be proud of. Many of you have heard of a man named Adolph Hitler. He lived about 60 years ago and was the leader of Germany. He was a cruel and clever man. He was the one who began World War II and his plans to rule the world caused millions of people to die.
What most people remember about him is that he hated Jews and made a horrible plan to kill every Jewish person. He succeeded in having millions killed. Many countries went to war against Hitler to stop him, and many soldiers died trying to defeat Germany.
Maybe your grandfather or great-grandfather fought in this war.
When Hitler was finally defeated in 1945, many hoped he would be arrested and the whole world could see him punished for the evil he had done. Instead, just as the army was getting close to where he was hiding, he decided to kill himself. He never had to pay for the awful crimes he did – at least here on earth.
As people learned more and more about the evil this one man had done, the last name Hitler became a name the whole world hated.
Like any other name, Adolph Hitler was not the only person with the last name Hitler in the world. Just like there are many people named Lee or Joseph, there were other Hitlers. But after Hitler was defeated, suddenly no one admitted they had the last name of “Hitler”. Anyone who’s name was Hitler immediately changed it to something else.
They did not want anyone to think they were related to this evil man. By his evil actions, he destroyed the family name of Hitler and now no one has that last name.
What this man did by all his evil was to destroy his family name. What you do can ruin your family name like Hitler did or you can honor your family name.
God, too, cares about his name. Will you open your Bibles to the second book, Exodus and look for chapter 20:7
This is the third commandment God gave to Moses. Can you tell us what this commandment tells us NOT to do?
What does it mean to take someone’s name in vain?
Vain means – it has no value. God says you cannot treat my glorious name as if it is trash, worthless.
Let’s use an example. Imagine that someone made a beautiful crown out of gold and diamonds, pearls and the rarest jewels in the world. This is something of so much value that no one could really guess what it is worth.
So say somehow I was able to get this priceless crown, and I took the crown and went out into my back yard and used the crown to dig a hole in my garden.
Why is that crazy?
Right, the crown has such value, and I am treating it like it is an ordinary shovel.
Now let’s imagine that this crown belongs to God, and because it is His crown, it represents everything good that He is. His goodness, his kindness, his hatred of evil, his power, his love for us to die on the cross. This is the crown of the best king who has ever lived in this world.
Then using the crown for such a dirty job would be doubly awful. Not only is the crown worthy of more care because it is made of gold and jewels, but also because it is Jesus’ crown, it should be treated with even more honor.
Boys and girls, we don’t have God’ crown to care for. But we do have Jesus’ name, and this commandment tells us that we are to treat his name with as much honor as God himself.
The commandment also tells us that God is not going to ignore it when people use his name in a way that is disrespectful or careless.
Now many of you, sad to say, have heard people swear and use bad language. This commandment is not really about saying bad words. It is about one particular way that people swear – when they use God’s name along with other words.
Many, many times, even on television, I hear people use bad language, but I have even heard people who are angry blurt out the words – Jesus Christ. Are they really talking with Jesus? No. They are using Jesus’ name in vain.
Boys and girls, it’s not just adults to break this commandment. Even kids can break this important commandment. You don’t have to be an adult to use God’s name in a bad way. And I am sad to say that even kids who call themselves Christians can use God’s name in a bad way. This is particularly sad because it is a great honor to be a Christian.
Do you remember at the beginning I talked about how after Adolph Hitler died, everyone who had the last name Hitler changed their name? They were ashamed.
If you are a follower of Jesus Christ, you are part of God’s family. You have reason to be proud of God’s name far more than the children of Martin Luther King Jr. should be proud of their name, or any other family. You would never catch Martin Luther King’s children dishonoring their great father. Boys and girls, never, never dishonor the name of your good and great God.