Sunday, December 25, 2016

Day 25 - Merry Christmas

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish but have everlasting life. — John 3:16 (KJV)  

      “The Passion Tree” tells the greatest story ever told.  God’s Word never ends.  His story never ends.  And we are part of His story!  There are a lot of hidden pictures and symbolism to find.  See how many you can answer.

  1. Why is the tree so large in comparison to the people?
  2. Why is the garland red?
  3. How many events are depicted from the Old Testament and the New Testament?
  4. How many lights are on the star at the top of the tree?  Why that number?  Is there something strange about the crown of thorns at the top of the tree?  Why would there be a Golden Crown at the top of the tree?
  5. Look at the red ornaments on the tree.  What do they form?
  6. How many candles are on the tree?  Why that number?  Can you see a suggestion of Christ in each flame?  What could that symbolize?
  7. Can you find the map of the world?
  8. Can you find the reference “John 3:16” hidden in the stars?

     The story is told of a man who rejected God for years.  His family followed Jesus, and one Christmas Eve while they were at church, something happened that changed his life forever.  It was cold and snowy, and while he was sitting in his nice warm home, he heard a thump on his front window.  Then there was another, and another.  A flock of geese were lost and trying to find a safe place.  They were worn out from wandering around in the cold and he wanted to help them, so he ran to his barn and turned on the lights so they would know where to go.  But they wouldn’t go in where it was warm, so he tried putting seeds and food along the path to lead them to safety.  He even tried to get behind them and shoo them in.  But everything He did only scared them more.  Finally he gave up, but he was so sad; he thought, “If only I could be like one of them.  Then I could show them the way, and they wouldn’t be afraid of me.”  Just then he heard the church bells ring, and understood what God had done for him.  God came to earth as a tiny baby, Jesus.  He became a man just like us to show all of us the Way.   This Christmas Day as we give gifts to each other, we’ll offer Him our gifts of praise and honor, and thank Him for His wonderful gift to us.  “For God so loved the world that He gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes on Him will not perish, but have everlasting life.”  John 3:16

Today's Prayer

     God and Father, thank You for loving us and wanting us to know You.  Thank You for sending Your Son, Jesus, to give us the way.  What a gift!  We give gifts to each other today because we want to show our love.  How sad we would be if we went to all the trouble of giving a gift to someone and they wouldn’t even take it!  Christmas Day shows You have given us the greatest gift of forgiveness and everlasting life.   Thank You for Your gift, Jesus!

Today's Activity:

     Each day of the calendar is a bigger picture of an ornament on “The Passion Tree.”  Both tell the story of God’s plan for the world from Genesis to Revelation.  Have the children locate their favorite event depicted on the Passion Tree and talk about one thing they learned about that story.

Seek & Find Answer to the question above:

#1 - The Tree - The tree represents the entire message.  You’ll notice the tree is scaled much too large for the landscape.  This is to illustrate the incomprehensible dimensions of God’s Word and His Plan for us.

#2 - The Red Garland - The red garland that is woven throughout the tree never ends.  It connects the ornaments and candles and represents what some have called “the crimson thread.” It symbolizes the blood of Christ.  His life is woven through all history from eternity past to eternity future.

#3 - The Story - The story begins in the paintings of the ornaments, starting at the lower left on the tree and chronologically follows the crimson garland coursing to the topper.  There are 12 ornaments that show events in the Old Testament and 12 ornaments that illustrate events in the New Testament.

#4 - The Crowns and Star - The red garland continues past the last ornament into the crown of thorns, which is now budding with life because Jesus is alive!  At the top of the tree you’ll see a star representing the glory of God.  The seven lights remind us of the perfection of God and His seven-fold nature.  In the center of the crown of thorns there is a majestic crown that conveys the confident truth that Jesus is coming again and will reign, as KING OF KINGS and LORD OF LORDS, forever and ever.

#5 - Red Ornaments - Down the center of the tree, the red ornaments form a cross.  Believing in Jesus and His sacrificial death on the cross is the only way to heaven.  The Bible says, “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.” Acts 4:12 NIV

#6 - 33 Candles - There are 33 candles.  Jesus was born and walked on earth for 33 years in the form of a man.  You can see an image of Christ in each flame, which illustrates the fact that in this dark world, He is the only true Light.

#7 - Map of the World - There are some people under the tree carrying the Light to others who are walking in darkness.  The snow-covered landscape suggests a map of the entire globe because this Message is for every person on the face of the earth.

#8 - John 3:16 - The reference is found in the stars next to the Baby Jesus ornament.  God loves you and has prepared a way for you to live with Him in heaven!

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Day 24 - The Great White Throne of Judgment

What do you see in the painting that can help us remember what Jesus has done for us?

And I saw a great white throne, and I saw the one who was sitting on it.  The earth and sky fled from His presence, but they found no place to hide.  I saw the dead, both great and small, standing before God’s throne.  And the books were opened, including the Book of Life.  And the dead were judged according to the things written in the books, according to what they had done. — Revelation 20:11-12 (NLT)  

      God will finally have to deal with everyone who has chosen to disobey.  He is the perfect Judge of right and wrong.  He says the penalty for sin is death, but He doesn’t want anyone to die, so Jesus came to take our place.  He is the only way we can escape Hell, the place where He will send the devil and his demons forever.  Everyone who refuses God’s way will someday have to stand before the Great White Throne of God.  (Revelation 20:11-12)  Then they will not have any excuse for rejecting God’s Son, Jesus.  If we believe in Jesus as God’s only way to Heaven, we will never have to stand at the Great White Throne.   When we follow Him, we already have everlasting life, and our place will be at the Judgment Seat of Christ.  He loves us and wants to be with us, so we never have any reason to fear His judgment, but II Corinthians 5: 9-10 says we should “…make it our goal to please Him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it.  For we all must appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.”

Today's Prayer

     Thank You, God, for doing so much to keep us from having to die for our sins.  Calvary’s cross, where You had to take on every sin of the world, must have been even more horrible than the lake of fire could be for us.  Thank You for loving us so much.  We give You our praise, Jesus, as our Christmas gift to You.

Today's Activity:

     Tell the children you are going to have a time of praise and thanksgiving for God’s plan to save us.  Ask each one to choose a song that praises Him.  Then lead them in a time of prayer, encouraging each one to tell Him at least one thing for which they are thankful.

Seek & Find Answer to the question in the painting above:
The cross.  Jesus sits on the Great White Throne with the cross behind Him.   Do you see the red comets shooting out from the cross?  There are there to remind us of His sacrifice for us. 

Friday, December 23, 2016

Day 23 - The Return of Jesus

There is no "Seek and Find" in today's painting.  What would you add if you were the artist?

And now, dear brothers and sisters, we want you to know what will happen to the believers who have died so you will not grieve like people who have no hope.  For since we believe that Jesus died and was raised to life again, we also believe that when Jesus returns, God will bring back with him the believers who have died.  We tell you this directly from the Lord: We who are still living when the Lord returns will not meet him ahead of those who have died.  For the Lord himself will come down from heaven with a commanding shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet call of God. First, the Christians who have died will rise from their graves.  Then, together with them, we who are still alive and remain on the earth will be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. Then we will be with the Lord forever. — 1 Thessalonians 4:13-17 (NLT)  

      God’s plan is still playing out.  For many believers, life on earth will end and they will move on to Heaven.  But for those who are alive when He comes, here is what will happen.  God’s trumpet will sound, and Jesus Christ will come in the clouds.  He will come with a shout and call Christians who have died to rise from their graves.  Then, Christians who are alive will be raised up in the sky, right to where He is!  Does that make you want to praise God?  Do you want to say, “Thank You” to think that we will never be separated again when He comes?  We will see Him face to face when He calls His children to be by His side.  Then, in an instant, in the twinkling of an eye, we will be changed.  We will have new bodies that are made for eternity – never to sin or be sick or die.  Are you His child?  Do you belong to Him?  Are you excited about spending eternity with the One who gave His life so we can live forever?

Today's Prayer

     Lord, You tell us Jesus will come back when we aren’t expecting Him.  When He comes, we’ll probably be living like any other day.  Please help us to watch faithfully for You, so we aren’t taken by surprise.  Please help us be ready to welcome You with great joy.

Today's Activity:

     Ask the children what they think they will do on their first day in Heaven.  Have them draw a picture of it.

Seek & Find Answer to the question in the painting above:
There is no “Seek & Find” in today’s painting.  What would you add if you were the artist?

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Day 22 - Power of Pentecost

Can you find the dove in the painting?  What do you think the empty jugs represent?

On the day of Pentecost, seven weeks after Jesus’ resurrection, the believers were meeting together in one place.  Suddenly, there was a sound from heaven like the roaring of a mighty windstorm in the skies above them, and it filled the house where they were meeting.  Then, what looked like flames or tongues of fire appeared and settled on each of them.  And everyone present was filled with the Holy Spirit. — Acts 2:1-4a (NLT)  

      Before Jesus went back to Heaven, He told His disciples to wait because He was going to send them a gift called the Holy Spirit of God.  They obeyed Him and waited, and 50 days later on the day of Pentecost, they were all filled with the Holy Spirit.  Because of the great power they received they would never be the same.  Today, everyone who believes in Jesus has the same Holy Spirit living in them.  Because of what God did at Pentecost, we have His power.  Jesus told them that the Holy Spirit would give them power to be His witnesses in Jerusalem and Judea and Samaria and to the ends of the earth.

     Do you know what a witness is?  When the Holy Spirit filled the believers at Pentecost, they began to think like Christ… and walk like Christ… and understand things they couldn’t understand before.  They had become Christians, God’s children.  Do you have the mind of Christ?  Are you walking in the power of the Holy Spirit, like Christ?  Are you a Christian?

Today's Prayer

     Lord, it is awesome to read how You sent the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost in a sound to wake them up, a wind to make them move, a fire that would shine for the world to see, and tongues that would make them speak.  Please keep us awake to hear Your Word.  Help us move when You tell us to “go,” and use our tongues for You.  Change our lives so we walk like Jesus.  Shine Your light through us and fill our hearts with fire to share Your Good News.

Today's Activity:

     Read Acts 2:1-13.  Present each child a beautifully gift-wrapped night light that represents the Holy Spirit.  Discuss how its light can remind them of the light of truth God’s Holy Spirit brings to believers.   Talk about why Jesus told His disciples to “be His witnesses in Jerusalem and Judea and Samaria and to the ends of the earth,” and remind them of His Great Commission (day 15).

Seek & Find Answer to the question in the painting above:
The dove is right behind the standing believer.  It represents the coming of the Holy Spirit.  Flames of fire are also a sign of the Holy Spirit.  Empty vessels (jugs) sit at the front of the room like the believers waiting to be filled.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Day 21 - The Ascension of Jesus

What is happening is this painting?  Do you know where this is taking place?  Can you find something in the painting that will help you find out?

It was not long after he said this that he was taken up into the sky while they were watching, and he disappeared into a cloud. — Acts 1:9 (NLT)  

      After Jesus came back to life, He spent the next forty days telling people about the Kingdom of God.  Then while He was speaking to them and blessing them, He rose into the sky.  He had finished the work God called Him to do.  In His resurrected body, He moved from this physical world into the spiritual world.  His disciples saw Him rise into the clouds, and it changed their lives completely.  It should change our lives today.  How do you think you would have felt if you’d been there?   How do you think knowing Jesus is alive will change your life?  He has promised to come back for all who believe in Him.  When He comes back, He will take His followers to a wonderful, beautiful place that He is building.  Have you given your life to the God who loves you and has plans for you?  Have you given your heart to the God who has all power and authority and wants to make your life better?  He is a wonderful Savior, and He gives us the right to choose His way.  He is not a good way, or even a great way to Heaven –
He is the ONLY way.

Today's Prayer

     Lord, thank You for showing us that this life is only the beginning of what You have planned for us.  Thank You for such clear words and pictures about life after death.  Lord Jesus, You stepped from this world we can see into the real world we can’t see to get our place there ready.  Because of what You did for us, some day we really will be able to see You face to face, and live with You forever.

Today's Activity:

     Ask the children what they think Heaven will be like.  Name several things about Heaven that will be different from the earth where we now live.  (Suggested reading, “Heaven for Kids” by Randy Alcorn)

Seek & Find Answer to the question in the painting above:
Jesus is rising into Heaven.  Scripture tells us He is rising from the mountain just outside Jerusalem.  The top of the globe is seen and it appears that Christ is rising from the area of the Israel.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Day 20 - The Resurrection of Jesus

What is Jesus doing in this painting?  What is He holding in His hands?  Can you see something that lets us know how much God loves Him?

Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance.  So she came running to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved, and said, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put him!” — John 20:1-2 (NIV)  

      God’s plan had not failed!  Death and Satan did not win!  After three days in the tomb, Jesus rose from the dead.  The resurrection of Jesus Christ is the single most important thing that ever happened in the history of the world.  What do your history books say is important?  It is even more important than Christmas Day, when we celebrate His birth, and Good Friday, when we remember His crucifixion.  If He had never risen from the grave, none of the other things would mean very much.  Jesus is the only One who has ever won over death, and He did it for us.  We can live forever with Him.  Even when we face death, it is just a way to real life in heaven with God.   Even when our friends and family die, we know we will see them again if they have accepted Him.  All who trust in Christ will live forever.  Have you trusted in Christ?

Today's Prayer

     Lord, sometimes it seems like the world is winning, just like it did to the disciples when Jesus was crucified.  Please help us always remember You did exactly what You told us You would do.  You overcame the world.  You conquered death.  And You give us Your power to win if we trust You.  Teach us to praise You as Lord.

Today's Activity:

     Think of someone you knew who died and was a Christian.  What did this person do while they were on earth to show that they were a Christian?  If you are a believer, you have a great promise from God that you will see them again.  Discuss things that this person could be doing right now in Heaven.  Ephesians 3:21 says that the Lord is able to do more than we can imagine.  So let your imaginations go!

Seek & Find Answer to the question in the painting above:
Jesus is breaking through the power of the  tomb.   In His hands are flames of fire that represent the power of hell and death.  The heart around Him is the heart of God who is with Him forever.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Day 19 - The Borrowed Tomb

Does something seem wrong with this picture?

As evening approached, Joseph, a rich man from Arimathea who was one of Jesus’ followers, went to Pilate and asked for Jesus’ body.  And Pilate issued an order to release it to him.  Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a long linen cloth.  He placed it in his own new tomb, which had been carved out of the rock. Then he rolled a great stone across the entrance as he left. — Matthew 27:57-60 (NLT)  

      When Jesus died, it seemed like God’s plan had failed.  Satan and his demons were sure they had won and they cheered as they watched Him die on the cross.  But everything that happened was in God’s control, and the Son of Man had only just begun.   Jesus is the Rock of Ages and the Chief Cornerstone, so the tomb where they buried Him was carved out of the rocky hillside.  Adam was driven out of the Garden of Eden when he first sinned, and Jesus won His battle in the Garden of Gethsemane and then was laid in a borrowed tomb in a garden to bring us back to God.  But the grave could not hold Christ, and He changed what the grave means for us, forever.  He rose from the dead.  The Bible says just as Jesus died and rose again, we will also be raised to new life in Him, if we know Him as our personal Savior and Lord.  All during His time of suffering, they kept telling Jesus to show His power and escape.  But He knew He would show His greatest power when He defeated death.  His tomb is empty, and it reminds us of God’s mighty power to carry out His purpose and plan.

Today's Prayer

     Lord, sometimes it seems like the world is winning, just like it did to the disciples when Jesus was crucified.  Please help us always remember You did exactly what You told us You would do.  You overcame the world.  You conquered death.  And You give us Your power to win if we trust You.  Teach us to praise You as Lord.

Today's Activity:

     Have the children go online or search a good Bible concordance, find as many Scriptures as they can that refer to Jesus as “Rock, or Stone,” and read and discuss them.   Have the younger children draw a picture of Jesus defeating Satan.

Seek & Find Answer to the question in the painting above:
Why is the body lying outside the tomb, instead of inside, where you would expect a body to be?  It is because Jesus is stronger than the tomb, where DEATH and HELL and SATAN belong. 

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Day 18 - The Crucifixion

Can you find what symbolizes the great battle between Satan and God?  Where is the sign that tells us who the battle was all about?

And when they came to the place called The Skull, there they crucified Him and the criminals, one on the right and the other on the left. — Luke 23:33 (NASB)  

      Jesus was the Son of God.  But He didn’t resist when men came to arrest Him on false charges.  He could have called angels to strike them down, but instead He let them beat him and lie about Him.  He didn’t argue when they sentenced Him to die in a cruel and shameful way because He knew that was why He agreed to come to earth and become like us.  It was God’s plan all along. The Bible says, “The payment for sin is death.”  But since we are all so sinful, just dying for our sins could never pay enough.  Only God’s perfect Son was good enough to do that.  When Jesus said, “It is finished!” on the cross, He was giving every one of us the chance to begin again as His follower.  Are you choosing to follow Jesus?

Today's Prayer

     Lord, I can’t really imagine everything You were willing to go through for me.  Thank You that You always had a plan to save me from my sins, even though You knew every bad thing I would ever do.  Please help me always remember that You paid the highest price so I could be with You forever.  Please help me always make You Lord of my life.

Today's Activity:

     Have the children memorize John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that He gave His One and only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”  Now help them make a poster to hang in their room that says, “For God so loved (child’s name) that He gave His One and only Son, so when (child’s name) believes on Him, (he/she) will never die, but have everlasting life.”  John 3:16.  Talk about “the plan of salvation” and help them understand “believing on Him” means also repenting of their sins and accepting Him as Lord of their lives.

Seek & Find Answer to the question in the painting above:
The darkness and light show the great battle between Satan’s darkness and God’s light.  The sign above Christ’s head tells us the battle was all about us. (Did you know when He was dying on the cross, He was thinking about you?)

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Day 17 - The Garden of Gethsemane

God is always near when we pray.  He promised He will always be there to protect us and help us do the right thing when we ask.  Can you see the heart in the painting?  It reminds us how much God loves us.

Then they came to a place which was named Gethsemane; and He said to His disciples, “Sit here while I pray.”  And He took Peter, James, and John with Him, and He began to be troubled and deeply distressed.  Then He said to them, “My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death.  Stay here and watch.”  He went a little farther, and fell on the ground, and prayed that if it were possible, the hour might pass from Him.  And He said, “Abba Father, all things are possible for You.  Take this cup away from Me; nevertheless, not what I will, but what You will.”  — Mark 14:32-36 (NKJV)  

      Jesus knew He was going to have to die in a terrible way.  He knew it was going to be very, very hard and He didn’t want to have to do it.  He knew He would feel the awful pain because He was a Man.   But He was the Son of God, too, and He was going to have to do something even more horrible.  2 Corinthians 5:21 says, “For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin.”  He would have to become sin!  He would be taking all the punishment for all the sins of every man, woman and child who ever lived.  And worst of all, for the first time in all eternity, God the Father would have to leave Him all alone because He can’t be a part of sin.  He went to the Garden of Gethsemane to pray, and the Bible says He prayed so hard He actually sweat great drops of blood. Can you imagine ever praying that hard?  Can you imagine how Jesus must have felt knowing His Father wouldn’t be there to help Him when He would go from being perfect to being all the most horrible sins man could ever think of?  Jesus could have chosen not to do it, but after He asked His Father three times to find another way, He chose to obey.  Have you ever asked God to help you do something really hard?   Have you ever felt like He wasn’t answering?

Today's Prayer

     Lord Jesus, thank You for loving me so much that You would die for all my sins and mistakes.  Thank You that You didn’t give up when it was so hard.  Please help me choose what You want when things are hard instead of my own way.   Please help me always remember how much You love me, and be thankful.

Today's Activity:

     Tell the children about a hard thing God helped you through when you prayed.  Ask them to draw a picture of the hardest thing they’ve asked God to help them with.  Then ask them to draw a picture of His answer.  Be prepared to discuss why we should praise Him in everything.

Seek & Find Answer to the question in the painting above:
The Heart of God is always around us when we pray.  Do you see His heart surrounding Jesus?  Did you notice the serpent lurking in the Garden?

Friday, December 16, 2016

Day 16 - The Ministry of Jesus

Jesus stands before an endless corridor with the cup and the bread, that are signs of His sacrifice for us. Can you find the cross in this painting?

For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you: that the Lord Jesus on the same night in which He was betrayed took bread; and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, “Take, eat; this is My body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of Me.”  In the same manner He also took the cup after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood.  This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.” — 1 Corinthians 11:23-25 (NKJV)

      When Jesus was 33 years old He had been in ministry only three years, but it was time for Him to finish the work God sent Him to do.  He had never sinned, but He was about to die for every sin of every man, woman and child so we could once again be in God’s presence.  He tried to help His disciples be ready for what was going to happen next.  He’d been telling them about it during His ministry, and He talked about it during The Last Supper with them before He was crucified.  He told them His blood would be shed and His body would be broken.  He broke bread and drank “the fruit of the vine” with them, and told them to remember what He did for them after He was gone.  He wants us also to remember His broken body and shed blood for us until He comes back, so He asks us to keep the Lord’s Supper when we worship together as the Church.  We should never forget the price Jesus paid so we can have the freedom to praise and serve Him.

Today's Prayer

     Lord, each time we have the Lord’s Supper, I promise to take time to think about what I need to admit to You as sin and change.  Thank You that You are always faithful to forgive me and make me clean.  Please help me always remember that You gave Your life so my sins could be forgiven.

Today's Activity:

     Have the children draw a picture of the last communion they attended at church and how it was done. Talk with them about what communion means to each of them.  Perhaps schedule a time to talk to your pastor about why we observe communion.

Seek & Find Answer to the question in the painting above:
The shadow of the cross in front of Jesus is a shadow of what is about to happen and a reminder of what He has done for us.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Day 15 - The Ministry of Jesus

Jesus is preaching to the people, but do you see something strange in the painting?

Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness among the people. — Matthew 4:23 (NIV) 

      Jesus did many things to show people He was God.  He was everything all the Old Testament prophecies said Messiah would be.  He preached that He had brought hope for everyone to be with God again, like Adam and Eve were before the fall of man.  He taught that He was the only Way to heaven, the real Truth, and the giver of Life.  He did many miracles, healed the sick, and even brought some people back from death.  He led people to follow Him and taught them how to live a life that pleases God.  He wants us to walk the way He walked, do what He did, and live like He lived.  He wants us to be like Him in our daily lives, and then follow His example and tell others the good news about Him.  His “Great Commission” is to go into all the world, baptize them and teach them to obey everything He commanded.   We should always follow His example and teach His good news.

Today's Prayer

     Lord, thank You for teaching us to live like You and tell people about You.  Please help me watch for ways I can talk about my faith with everyone I meet, and use me to help them know You better.  Use me in a new and wonderful way this week.

Today's Activity:

     Help the children list as many miracles of Jesus as they can think of.  Have them draw something that reminds them of the miracle they like best and tell why.

Seek & Find Answer to the question in the painting above:
See the little boy?  He’s dressed like today’s children to show that Jesus came to save all people of all time.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Day 14 - The Baptism of Jesus

In this painting, what reminds us Jesus is the Light of the World?  What represents the Holy Spirit?  Where is He?

Then Jesus went from Galilee to the Jordan River to be baptized by John.  But John didn’t want to baptize Him.  “I am the one who needs to be baptized by you,” he said, “so why are you coming to me?”  But Jesus said, “It must be done, because we must do everything that is right.”  So then John baptized Him.  After His baptism, as Jesus came up out of the water, the heavens were opened and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and settling on him.  And a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son, and I am fully pleased with Him.” — Matthew 3:13-17 (NLT)  

      Jesus grew up just like any other boy.  For thirty years He lived in Nazareth, working in His family’s carpenter shop.  But He always knew the world was waiting for Him to show the great love of God through His life and sacrifice for our sins.  When God the Son was baptized we could see the Trinity:  God the Father saying from heaven that He was pleased with His Son, and God the Spirit coming down like a dove to sit on His shoulder.  The Bible says it was a picture of His coming death, burial and resurrection; and to show He was ready to begin His ministry and work.  Some say it was an example of what we should do.  God has a special ministry for each of us.  When we accept Him as our personal Savior, we should be baptized and follow that example to begin the work He has for us to do. Are you asking God to show you what He wants you to do and then doing it the best you can?

Today's Prayer

     Lord Jesus, thank You for being our example.  Please show me the work You want me to do, and help me do what You say so You can say about me, “This is my child, in whom I am well pleased!”

Today's Activity:

     Have the children read I Peter 2:38-39 and discuss what baptism represents.  Have them draw a picture of their own (past or future) baptism and talk about what it means to them.

Seek & Find Answer to the question in the painting above:
Light shines down on Jesus at His baptism to remind us Jesus is the Light of the World.  The Holy Spirit can be seen as a dove coming down to settle on Him.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Day 13 - The Baby Jesus

Can you find three things about Christ: His birth, His death and His resurrection?

“And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus,
for He will save His people from their sins.”  — Matthew 1:21 (NKJV)

But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son,
born of a woman, born under the law. — Galatians 4:4 (NKJV)  

      God always had a plan for His people.  The day the prophets had been telling about had finally come.   The star in the east pointed the way.  God’s Son had come to earth as a tiny baby born to a young girl named Mary.  He had come into the world so the world could be saved.  Never before had there been such a miracle!  God became one of us, completely human in every way, but still completely God.  Jesus.  Even His name was a wonderful miracle, given to Mary by God.  Just the mention of His name would cast out demons, heal the sick and raise the dead, and only Jesus can take away our sin.  It doesn’t matter where you came from or what the color of your skin is, He wants you to accept Him as your Savior.  Some day everyone who ever lived will bow down to Him as Lord.  Is Jesus Christ your Lord?

Today's Prayer

     Lord God, thank You for sending Your only Son to live among us so we could know You.  Lord Jesus, thank You for being Immanuel, “God with us,” and coming to earth to save us.  Thank You for sending Your Holy Spirit to live in our hearts.  

Today's Activity:

     Have the children help create or set up a nativity scene where it will remind them every day why Jesus came to earth.  (Don’t forget to leave the manger empty until He comes on Christmas Eve.)

Seek & Find Answer to the question in the painting above:
1. The manger is encircled by a heart.  “For God so loved the world.”
2. The lamb is a symbol of Jesus’ sacrifice as “The Lamb of God.”  There are three crosses; one on the hill above the manger and one on each post beside the manger.
3. The empty tomb is found on the distant hillside between the two posts on the right side of the painting.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Day 12 - The Prophets

All the prophets' predictions about the Messiah pointed to Jesus Christ and His sacrifice on the cross for us.  Can you find the cross in this painting?

Concerning this salvation, the prophets, who spoke of the grace that was to come to you, searched intently and with the greatest care, trying to find out the time and circumstances to which the Spirit of Christ in them was pointing when he predicted the sufferings of the Messiah and the glories that would follow. — 1 Peter 1:10-11 (NIV)  

      After the Israelites were settled in the Promised Land, God sent many prophets to tell them He was going to send Someone to bless all the people of the world.  The prophets knew all their predictions would come true in one Man, the Messiah, and they searched and prayed all the time for their coming King.   Do you think the prophets knew the Messiah would come as a little baby?  Did any of them know the Messiah would be Jesus Christ?  Today, preachers and teachers are telling us that Christ is coming again, but just like many people in the Old Testament, many today will not believe it.  Do you believe Jesus is coming again?  Does that make you happy, or scared?

Today's Prayer

     Lord, thank You for telling us about the Old Testament prophets, who waited and believed You would send the Messiah just like You promised.  Thank You that Jesus came, and He will keep His promise to come again for everyone who believes in Him.  Please live in me and keep my heart clean for You.  Thank You for forgiving me of all my sins.

Today's Activity:

     Have the children help build a cross from 2 x 4 boards or strong cardboard and place in the yard.  Or, have them draw a picture of a cross to place in the front window.

Seek & Find Answer to the question in the painting above:
The prophet’s fingers are pointing to the cross on the parchment, just as his prophecies pointed to Jesus the Messiah.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Day 11 - The Ten Commandments & the Tabernacle

Can you find the cross?

And let them make Me a sanctuary, that I may dwell among them.  —  Exodus 25:8 (NKJV)  

      While the Israelites were in the wilderness on the way to the land God was giving them, He gave Moses the Ten Commandments and the law that they would live by.  What do you think the world would be like today if people actually tried to live by the Ten Commandments?  God also gave Moses instructions on how to build the tabernacle where He would live among them.  He told Moses to make everything exactly like the pattern He had given him because it was not only a place to worship, it was a picture of Christ, who would come to save us from sin, and of the place God is building in Heaven for us.

Today's Prayer

     Father, I know the greatest commandment is to love You with all my heart and soul and mind.  Thank You that because of Jesus we can come right to You whenever we choose, instead of waiting for a priest to come for us only once a year.  We’re so thankful You live in everyone who accepts Jesus as Lord, instead of behind a curtain in the Holy of Holies, the way it was before He came.

Today's Activity:

     God told Moses exactly where the Israelites were to set up their camp.  Do you think it could have been in the shape of a cross?   Draw 5 rectangles on your paper like in the painting above.

Read Numbers 2.
   — Write the name of the tribe on the East on the rectangle with the E (v. 3)
   — Write down the total number of that tribe. (v. 9)
   — Write the name of the tribe on the South on the rectangle with the S (v. 10)
   — Write down the total number of that tribe. (v. 16)
   — Write the name of the tribe on the West on the rectangle with the W (v. 18)
   — Write down the total number of that tribe. (v. 24)
   — Write the name of the tribe on the North on the rectangle with the N (v. 25)
   — Write down the total number of that tribe. (v. 29)

     Notice that the tribes on the North and South have close to the same number.  But the tribe on the East is larger and the tribe on the West is smaller.  As they were camped the shape could have been in the shape of a cross.

Seek & Find Answer to the question in the painting above:
The camp of the Israelites could form a cross.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Day 10 - Moses the Deliverer

Can you find the cross? It is there to remind us God gave a way to cross from death to life.

But lift up your rod, and stretch out your hand over the sea and divide it.  And the children of Israel shall go on dry ground through the midst of the sea. — Exodus 14:16 (NKJV)  

      Abraham’s family became a great nation, Israel.  Many years later Israel moved to Egypt because there was nothing to eat in their land.  Can you imagine living in a land where there is no food at all?  In Egypt the children and grandchildren of Abraham grew even greater.  After many years, the Egyptians were afraid of them and made them slaves.  When they cried out to God for help, He sent Moses to lead them to freedom.  The Egyptians would not let them go until God sent plagues on their nation.  Then, even after Israel had left, the Egyptians decided to send their army to bring them back.  Israel was trapped between Egypt’s army and the Red Sea until Moses raised his arm over the water and called on God to save them.  God answered, “Stand still and watch the power of the Lord.” Then He did a miracle and caused the waters to part so His people could escape across dry land to the wilderness.

Today's Prayer

     Lord, sometimes it seems like there are things to be afraid of all around.  I believe Your promise that “greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world.”  Please help me see Your power and remember You are stronger than anything I can be afraid of.

Today's Activity:

      Tell your children how God saved Moses when he was a baby and prepared him to lead the people while he was growing up as a son of Pharaoh’s daughter.   Have them pretend to be Moses and see how long they can hold their arm up like Moses did over the waters.  Have them list as many plagues as they can find in Exodus 7-11.

Seek & Find Answer to the question in the painting above:
Look for the light of the cross in the sky across from Moses.

Friday, December 9, 2016

Day 9 - Abraham’s Sacrifice

Can you find the cross?

And He said, “Do not lay your hand on the lad, or do anything to him; for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me.”  — Genesis 22:12 (NKJV)  

      Even though Abraham trusted God, it was hard for him and his wife, Sarah, to see how their family could be a blessing to all people when they could not seem to have even one child of their own.  But God wanted the world to know this was all His plan, so He waited until they were too old to have children before He worked a miracle and gave them Isaac.  Then He did a very strange thing.  He asked Abraham to offer Isaac to Him as a sacrifice of worship!  Have you ever felt like God was asking you to do a strange thing?  Do your parents ever ask you to do something you don’t understand?  God already knew Abraham’s heart, but He was testing him.  God knew what Abraham would do.  Abraham chose to trust when he didn’t understand, and God gave him another sacrifice in Isaac’s place.  But God’s plan was much bigger than Abraham’s story.  He gave the ram to die so Abraham’s only son could live, just like He would give His Only Son to die so we can live with Him forever.

Today's Prayer

     Lord God, thank You for the plans You have for my life.  I want to learn to choose Your plan instead of mine.  Please help me remember if I study your Bible and pray to You each day, I will know how to do what pleases You.  Please help me never forget to thank You for the sacrifice You made for me.

Today's Activity:

      Talk about the meaning of “sacrifice” and ask the children to list what they would be willing to sacrifice for your family.  Now have them list what they would sacrifice for God.  Have each of them choose one sacrifice they will make for God during this Christmas season (e.g., serving meals to the poor, giving something they love to someone in need, doing something for another member of the family, etc.).  Be sure to follow through with them and help them identify the blessing that will come from their sacrifice.

Seek & Find Answer to the question in the painting above:
The cross of Jesus Christ can be seen on the side of the altar of Abraham’s sacrifice.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Day 8 - Abraham’s Blessing

Can you find Jesus in this painting?

The Lord had said to Abram, “Leave your country, your people and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you.  I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing.  I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on the earth will be blessed through you.” 
— Genesis 12:1-3 (NIV)  

      After God scattered the people at the Tower of Babel, He knew it was time for the next step of His plan.  He chose Abraham, and told him He would make his family a great nation that would bless all people everywhere.  Abraham chose to believe and obey God, even though God told him to leave the country where he lived.  It would be the first of many sacrifices God asked Abraham to make, but Abraham was willing to follow Him no matter what.  Do you know what a sacrifice is?  Has God ever asked you to sacrifice something for Him?  Abraham obeyed God, and God kept His promise to make him the father of a great nation, but probably even Abraham could not have imagined God would choose his family to bring the world the Savior, Jesus Christ!  When we choose to believe and obey God and are willing to give Him whatever He asks, He promises He will give us more blessings than anything we might give up.

Today's Prayer

     Father, thank You for our family.  Thank You that You have made a way for us to be in Your family forever.  Thank You for Abraham.  Help us to be like him and to be willing to go and do whatever You ask.  Please help us understand what will please You, and give us the courage and strength we’ll need to do it.  We love You, Lord, and want to give You our very best.  Thank You for always blessing us more than we can ever imagine.

Today's Activity:

      Discuss how the Bible lists the names of family genealogies to show Jesus’ ancestry.  Have your children draw their genealogy.  Start with their name at the top.  Then put their parent’s names on the next line.  Then put their parent’s parent’s names on the next line.  See how many generations you can name.

Seek & Find Answer to the question in the painting above:
The Name of Jesus is written in the stars above Abraham and Sarah’s heads.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Day 7 - The Tower of Babel

Can you find the cross?  God has warned that sin and wrong choices will bring His terrible judgement once again.  The good news is, God has always had a plan to save us from our sins through the cross of Jesus Christ.

“Let’s build a great city with a tower that reaches to the skies – a monument to our greatness!  This will bring us together and keep us from scattering all over the world.” — Genesis 11:4 (NLT)  

      Sadly, as Noah’s family grew and spread over the earth, mankind forgot all that had happened.  Do you think people today are a lot like people in Noah’s day?   God planned for them to form many nations that would follow Him, but they wanted to make themselves great instead.  They all chose to settle in the same place and started building a great tower that would reach to the skies.  They wanted a great monument to their greatness.  Instead, God confused their languages so they couldn’t understand each other, and scattered them all over the world.   Do you think people today are still trying to build monuments to their greatness?

Today's Prayer

     Lord, forgive us when we forget we can’t live without You.  You are the only giver of life.  Thank You for loving us so much You’ll do whatever it takes to bring us back to You.

Today's Activity:

      Have a contest to see who can draw the most imaginative Tower of Babel.  Have the children sign their drawings and hang them on the fridge.  Discuss how pride and rebellion always separate us from God.  Have them memorize Isaiah 55:9, “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”

Seek & Find Answer to the question in the painting above:
The cross is on the large boulder on the path ahead of the people.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Day 6 - The Flood

Noah was a good man, but God knew he and his family would sin, too.  Can you find the shadow of the cross of forgiveness in the painting?

Now the Lord observed the extent of the people’s wickedness, and He saw that all their thoughts were consistently and totally evil.  So the Lord was sorry He had ever made them.  It broke His heart.  And the Lord said, “I will completely wipe out this human race that I have created.  Yes, and I will destroy all the animals and birds, too.  I am sorry I ever made them.”  But Noah found favor with the Lord. — Genesis 6:5-8 (NLT)  

      Adam and Eve’s family grew and spread over the earth, but so did sin and wrong choices.  It got so bad that the Lord was sorry He had ever made man.  He looked for someone to love and obey Him, but in all the earth He could find only Noah, so He decided to destroy His once-beautiful creation and start again.  God told Noah to build a huge boat that would save his family and two of every animal on earth.  It took him many, many years, but he chose to keep on building the ark exactly as God told him.  It had never rained on earth, but Noah believed God when He said He would send a flood to cover the world.  Noah tried to warn his neighbors, but they only laughed at him and kept on doing wrong.  How hard do you think that must have been?  Then it began to rain, and though they begged to be let in, God had closed the door and it wouldn’t open again until everything on earth was destroyed.  When the water finally went down and Noah and his family stepped out on dry land, God sent a wondrous rainbow as a promise He would never again destroy the earth with water.  How do you think they must have felt to know they were the only people on earth?

Today's Prayer

     Thank You God, for keeping Your promises; and for loving us so much. You always make a way for us to be saved.   Please help us to always praise You for Your goodness, and whenever we see a rainbow, help us remember all You’ve done for us.

Today's Activity:

      Have the children work together on a poster showing Noah building the ark, the ark during the flood, and Noah and his family and the animals coming out of the ark on dry land.  Ask them to list as many animals as they can think of and discuss how noisy and smelly it must have been, and how hard they must have worked on the ark.

Seek & Find Answer to the question in the painting above:
The cross is reflected on the side of the mountain where the ark sits.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Day 5 - Cain and Abel

God's plan to save us from sin has always been the cross of Jesus Christ, where we can be forgiven for anything we have done.  Can you find the shadow of the cross?

Now Cain said to his brother Abel, “Let’s go out to the field.”  And while they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother Abel and killed him.  — Genesis 4:8 (NIV) 

       After  Adam and Eve were banished from the Garden of Eden because of what had seemed a small sin, all generations to come would be under the curse of sin.  Cain and Abel, the first sons of Adam and Eve, were born with the same choice to obey or disobey God as their parents.  Sadly, they made wrong choices, too.  God knew their hearts, just like He knows ours, and after Cain murdered his brother, God drove him from His presence. We are all children of Adam.  We all have the same sinful nature, and we are all driven from the presence of God.  But He has a plan, and if we turn to Jesus Christ we will be forgiven.

Today's Prayer

     God, I know sometimes I do things for the wrong reasons.  You know my heart better than I do.  Please help me to see myself the way You do, and help me fix the things I need to change.  Help me to be loving and kind to everyone I know.  I love You and want to do things Your way.

Today's Activity:

      For discussion:  Why did Cain murder Abel?  Since we’re all under the curse of sin, can we help it if we do wrong?  Do you ever think or say bad things about your brother or sister or friends?  Are you glad God knows your heart?  Why?  Have the children secretly write out something nice they can do for their brother or sister (or other relative or friend if they have no siblings) during this Christmas season.  Set a time to discuss what they did and how they believe God used it.

Seek & Find Answer to the question in the painting above:
The shadow of the Cross of Salvation is on the rock beside Cain.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Day 4 - Banished from Eden

Adam and Eve had to leave the Garden of Eden because of their sin.  Can you find the word "sin" in the painting?

Then the Lord God said, “The people have become as we are, knowing everything, both good and evil.  What if they eat the fruit of the tree of life?  Then they will live forever!”  So the Lord God banished Adam and his wife from the Garden of Eden, and he sent Adam out to cultivate the ground from which he had been made. — Genesis 3:22-23 (NLT) 

       God knew when He created Adam and Eve they would let Satan trick them into doing wrong and die, but He loved them anyway, and already had a plan to save them.  They believed that eating the fruit would give them the knowledge of good and evil, like God.  Do you think it’s sad they didn’t stop to think they already knew all about Good?   How long do you think it was before they saw how awful it was to know about evil?  How God’s heart must have hurt to have to drive them from the Garden He’d made just for them, even though He’d always known it would happen.  Do you think He cried with them when they found out the garden they had chosen would be full of weeds and thorns and hard work and tears?  Do you think they ever knew that because of their choice, everyone on earth would live with tears and hard things?  The Good News is that “…God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him will not perish, but have eternal life.”  (John 3:16)  He’s getting an even more wonderful place ready, where He plans to spend forever walking and talking with everyone who chooses Him.

Today's Prayer

     Lord Jesus, You are the only perfect One.  Only You are good enough to pay for the sins of the world. Thank You for loving us enough to die so we can live forever with You.  Help us to live so people want to know more about You.

Today's Activity:

      Discuss why God couldn’t let Adam and Eve stay in the Garden and live forever after they sinned. Ask your children if they know who God’s one and only Son is. Ask them if they want to ask Him into their hearts.  Help them create “refrigerator art” or a poster for their room with the “ABCs” of Salvation:
     A – Admit you are a sinner and choose the wrong things.
     B – Believe Jesus died so you don’t have to die to pay for the wrong you choose.
     C – Choose to live for Jesus.

Seek & Find Answer to the question in the painting above:
The branches and briars on the right side of the painting spell “sin.”

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Day 3 - The Temptation

When the woman saw that the fruit of the vine was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it.  She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it.  — Genesis 3:6 (NIV) 

Do you know who the serpent represents?  There are three crosses in the picture that let us know God had a plan all along to deal with sin.  Can you find them?  The artist was surprised that some people have found the word "sin" in the painting, since he did not plan for it to be there.  Can you see it?

Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made.  He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?” — Genesis 3:1 (NIV)

      God wants us to love Him because we want to, not because we have to, so He made Man with the freedom to choose.  We make many choices every day, don’t we?  But there was a problem.  The tree in the middle of the Garden was so beautiful and the fruit looked so good that Eve wanted to believe the Serpent when he told her God didn’t really mean they would die if they ate it.  Because Adam and Eve chose the wrong thing and did the only thing God told them not to do, mankind was no longer perfect.  Now, because we’re “only human” too, we often make the wrong choices.  Can you think of choices you made just today that you wish you had decided differently?   God warns us in I Peter 5:8 “that old serpent Satan” is still looking for anyone he can trick and destroy.  If we don’t choose to obey God, we’ll fall for Satan’s lies.

Today's Prayer

     God our Creator, thank You for loving us so much You want us to love You back with all our hearts.  Thank You for giving us free choice.  You knew when You gave it to Adam and Eve they would choose wrong and it would cost Your only Son’s life.   Please forgive us when we choose the wrong thing and hurt Your heart.  Help us remember to ask You for help to make the right choices, and to listen to You instead of Satan’s lies.

Today's Activity:

      Ask your children if they think the serpent was creepy and scary like snakes are now, or beautiful, like everything else in the Garden. Discuss with them whether Eve disobeyed God because she was hungry, or because she believed the serpent when he said that she would "be like God." Discuss how she wanted to be like God and why that was wrong. Discuss why Adam also made the wrong choice. Discuss ways that your children could be tempted to disobey and help them discover ways they can resist that temptation. Fun fact: The fruit is never called an "apple" in the Bible.

Seek & Find Answer to the question in the painting above:
The serpent represents Satan.  Three crosses are reflected on the fruit.  The upper body of the serpent forms the letter “s,” the branch in the middles is an “i,” and the lower body of the serpent forms an “n.”

Friday, December 2, 2016

Day 2 - The Garden of Eden

Even in the Garden of Eden, Jesus was always present.  Can you find Him?  Why do you think He is where He is?

And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.
Genesis 1:26A (NKJV)

God created the earth, sky, sun, moon and stars.  Then He made the land animals and sea creatures and birds that fly, and Genesis 1:25 says “God saw that it was good.”    Did you know He did all that just by speaking the word?   But when God created Man, He made him in His own image (just like Him) so Man was very special in God’s eyes.  He actually formed Adam from the dust with His very own hands and gave him His very own Breath of Life.   Did you know that you are made in His image, too, and so is every human life?   God made Adam and Eve perfect and beautiful, and put them in His amazing Garden of Eden so they could walk and talk with Him.  Can you imagine actually seeing the God who created you?  Do you think there is a way you can walk and talk with Him today?  His Bible tells us that if we have faith in His Son we can come to Him freely, and Ephesians 4:24 says that in Jesus we are “created to be like God.”

Today's Prayer

     Lord Jesus, thank You for making us in Your image and giving us life.  Help us learn to “walk and talk” like You, so people around us will know we belong to You, and want to “walk and talk” with You, too.

Today's Activity:

     Have your children make a list of all the different human lives that are “precious in God’s sight.”  (e.g., unborn babies, little children, teenagers, moms and dads, old people, sick people, etc.)   Ask them to tell you why they think God cares so much about people.  Discuss whether there are some people He doesn’t want to walk with Him.  Ask them if they know how they can “walk and talk with God.”

Seek & Find Answer to the question in the painting above:
Do you see His shadow on the pathway?  Jesus is waiting to walk and talk with Adam and Eve.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Day 1 - In the Beginning

Can you find Jesus the Creator in this painting?

 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. — Genesis 1:1 (NKJV)

God created the world and everything in it. He made it perfect in every way - a beautiful, quiet place for Him to walk in the Garden and enjoy His creation. Everything was made for His glory, from the endless universe so enormous you could never explore it to the single cell so tiny you could never see it. Does that word "glory" sound strange to you? Do you know what it means? God made His creation for His own pleasure, and to remind us that He is God, and we're not. Have you ever looked at the millions of stars in the sky on a dark, dark night and wondered where they came from? Have you ever looked at all the beautiful trees in the forest and thought that God surely is the greatest Artist there is?  Psalm 19:1 says, "The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of His hands."

Today's Prayer

Father God, today we'll stop and remember that You are the Creator of everything. Thank You for giving us such a wonderful world. Thank You for using everything You've made to teach us about You. Please help us remember that everything is created for Your pleasure, to show us You are God. And please help us remember to always praise You for it.

Today's Activity

Set aside quiet time as a family to consider God's creation. On a clear, dark night, wrap up in a blanket with the children in the yard and study the stars. Ask them if they think everything they see could have "just happened." Take a walk in the woods. Have the children see how many different trees, flowers, mosses, grasses, animals, and other created things they can find. Talk about how beautiful and intricate even the simplest things they're seeing are. Ask if they think all this could be "just an accident."

Seek & Find Answer to the question in the painting above:
The face of Jesus the Creator covers all the earth.