How to help your child enjoy God
BY BARBARA REAOCH |
BSF CHILDREN’S DIVISION DIRECTOR
Kids know how to enjoy pizza, pets, games and ice cream. But how we can we help them know what it means to enjoy God? God is not looking for kids who dutifully behave, but for those who will know and love Him (Psalms 34:8, 37:4). Something will always be missing until they grasp that God made us to enjoy a relationship with Him (Genesis 1:26, Psalm 16:11, Matthew 22:25-38).
A father’s story
One father shared his struggles and joys in bringing his three kids to BSF every Monday. “The kids love it,” he said, “but it’s lots of work for me!”
A neighbor asked why he bothered rushing home every Monday and then back to church for BSF. “One Monday a week,” he replied, “is a small investment for the eternal dividends God promises.”
This father understands that enjoying God is a process. His kids once thought of God’s Word as a rule book. Now they’re experiencing God’s Word as His voice and enjoying a delicious meal for their souls (Psalm 119:103).
At first, his kids read the Bible just to complete all the study questions. “Over time, my kids’ thinking about Bible study has changed. It’s no longer ‘eat your vegetables.’ Now Bible study means tasting sweet honey.” The study questions serve his kids as a journal. They record God’s truths with words and pictures. This journal helps them realize what it means to enjoy God.
More than a “Dear Diary” discipline, journaling helps kids concentrate. God made our brains so the act of writing out our thoughts helps us think and remember. Here’s an amazing truth: nothing has a greater impact on a child’s life than the Word of God. The Holy Spirit takes God’s Word and points us to Jesus. When we write down what is true about God, the Holy Spirit supersizes it!
An 8-year-old’s journal entry.
These three journaling topics can also help get you started:
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What do God’s actions tell you about who He is?
How can we help kids enjoy God as they would their best friend?
We cannot see God, but we can help kids know God in His Word. God’s actions tell us who He is. As you read the Bible together, point out what God is doing.
Then ask, “What did God do, and what does His action tell us about Him?”
- Genesis 1:1, 27; Psalm 19:1 – God created everything. God alone is able to bring something out of nothing. He is all-powerful and good.
- Isaiah 41:10; Romans 3:24-26 – God is also righteous. Jesus willingly died so that the Father could forgive our sin and give us Jesus’ righteousness (Psalm 86:11; 2 Corinthians 5:21).
Describe what God has done for you in Jesus.
Children do not understand their own sinful hearts and the greatness of God’s grace to them in sending Jesus as an atonement for sin. We can help kids understand and remember God’s acts of love.
Ask, “What has God done for me in Jesus, and how will I praise Him?”
- Our holy and loving Father created us to love and enjoy Him (Genesis 1:27-30; 1 Corinthians 1:9; 2 Corinthians 13:14; 1 John 1:1-7). As His precious children we are happiest when we live for His honor (Isaiah 43:4-7; Acts 17:28).
- Jesus is stronger than everything – even sin and death. God promises to forgive the sin of all who turn to Him and trust in Jesus. God’s children will spend eternity in heaven with Him (Ephesians 1:4-5; Romans 8:1).
How you are learning to love the things Jesus loves?
Children think their own way is best. We can help them understand the joy and privilege of obeying our loving Father, whose way is always best (Romans 6:22-23; 1 Corinthians 6:19-20).
As you read the Bible, watch for God’s Word to teach, challenge, correct and train you and your child (2 Timothy 3:16-17).
The Holy Spirit grows us to be more like Jesus as we respond to God (Ephesians 4:22-24). Knowing God as Father changes us from being rule-keepers to people who can find joy in obedience (Romans 8:14-16).
- The Holy Spirit is Jesus with you all the time. All who turn to God and trust in Jesus have the Holy Spirit living in them (Romans 8:9-15). That’s how close Jesus is!
- God invites us to taste and see His goodness (Psalm 34:8). As we spend time getting to know God by listening to Him speak, we love and enjoy Him.
Journal entries help you remember. God strongly warns His people not to forget His Word. At the same time, He encourages us to actively remember His goodness (Deuteronomy 4:10; 8:2, 18; 32:7). Help your family learn to rest in God’s grace for the future as you remember together what He has done in the past (2 Thessalonians 2:13; 2 Timothy 2:8). Journal in words, pictures, stories, poems or songs, to help you remember the mighty work of God in your lives.
Journal entries help you trace God’s work to make you more like Jesus. Most children enjoy looking at family photos and videos to see how much they’ve grown. Or they eagerly mark their physical growth on a door or wall. Spiritual growth is not as easily measured. The Holy Spirit changes us little by little, as we yield to Him. In the future, when you reread the journal notes, you will enjoy God even more. He will reveal to you His power at work in the minds and hearts of those you love.
Are you ready to start journaling as a family? Parents can play an active role in helping children discover their soul’s most satisfying joy in God. This requires earnest prayer and deliberate effort. Together, families can discover that the greatest enjoyment in this world and in the ages to come is God alone.
A 10-year-old’s journal entry.
Barbara Reaoch’s new book A Jesus Christmas, has just been released. The book is a 25-day journey that can guide your family through the Old and New Testaments to Jesus.
Each day’s Scripture passage leads kids of all ages to explore God’s truth in their lives. The Family Journaling space gives you a daily opportunity to begin to learn how journaling helps kids enjoy God.