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They say it’s better to give than to receive. Well, I can definitely vouch that I was incredibly blessed to be able to give my time, energy and laughter to our kids through teaching our Children’s Ministry one Sunday.
Two Sunday School Newbs
My first-day teaching Children’s Ministry was surprisingly fun and incredibly encouraging; my heart was full of joy by the end of our lesson. We decorated our walls with some scripture wall art, broke out the guitar and kicked off our time together with two action songs, Father Abraham, and My God is so Great.
Conditional Promises through the Lens of the Gospel
One of the key points that really touched my heart as we were preparing for the lesson was understanding what a conditional promise was through the lens of the gospel.
God is the best promise maker and giver
One of thing all of us should acknowledge is that God would still be perfectly good and just if He decided not to rescue us. All of us have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, all of us deserve the penalty for that.
For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to chains of gloomy darkness to be kept until the judgment; (2 Peter 2:4 ESV)
But God, in His infinite mercy and infinite grace decided to provide everybody with an opportunity to be saved. But God sent His Son to suffer and die for the sake of a few.
God provides opportunity, gives us hope, He makes promises when He needn’t have to and gives us a way out of an otherwise impossible situation. God is the one who initiates; not us.
Not Earning a blessing but Meeting a Requirement
When we approach scripture it’s easy to come along certain passages of scripture and see it in a religious way and not in a gospel centred way.
In the same way that you might get asked of ID before entering a nightclub, your age does not earn your way into the club; it’s just a requirement to get in. In the same way, we can feel that because we “did a good job” or “worked extremely hard” that we deserve a break, or earn praise and recognition; we often transfer those false attitudes to our Heavenly Father. For example, it’s very easy to read certain conditional promises in scripture and feel like our obedience to one of God’s commands ought to earn us God’s blessing.
… because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. (Romans 10:8-9 ESV)
One does not deserve salvation because they confessed Jesus is Lord. Confessing with your lips that Jesus is Lord and believing in His resurrection is a requirement for your salvation.
And if you will walk in my ways, keeping my statutes and my commandments, as your father David walked, then I will lengthen your days.” (1 Kings 3:14 ESV)
You do not earn a long life because you obeyed God’s commandments. Instead, God has asked us to meet the requirement of obedience to Him that He might lengthen your days.
Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart. (Psalm 37:4 ESV)
God does not become your genie in a bottle because you spent 1 hour every day intensively “delighting” yourself in Him.
Believing that God owes us something because we have earned His blessings leaves us frustrated, disappointed, doubtful of God’s goodness and sometimes burnt out. It usually happens when we feel that we can manipulate God’s will by individual acts and deeds; that is superstition, religion and witchcraft my friends and not faith and not true.
God always keeps His promises
Even though we do not earn God’s blessing, He is always faithful to uphold His end of His promise. In the same way, you might promise to give dessert to your kids if they finish dinner and are faithful to give them dessert, God is faithful to grant us salvation if we confess Him and trust in His resurrection. Your kids didn’t earn dessert by finishing dinner; they just met a requirement.
Illustrating God’s promises
If you’re not already familiar with the The Jesus Storybook Bible, it’s simply the best Children’s Bible I’ve ever come across. Reading this book makes me want to have kids just to I can read them this book. ;)
This week I used this storybook Bible to illustrate how God can give us conditional promises and how we still want to get the blessing by making up our own requirements.
In the story of Naaman, he was told by Elisha’s servant that he needed to wash in the stinky river to be healed. But Naaman’s heart was too sick to want to listen, Naaman wanted to be healed in his own way and on his own terms. Because Naaman did not meet the requirement of this promises, God was faithful to stay true to His word, and Naaman remained sick.
However, Naaman’s heart was eventually softened and he decided to obey God’s condition; he washed himself in the ‘stinky’ river. God was faithful to keep His side of the promise, and Naaman was healed – but most of all, Naaman’s heart was healed.
I was truly amazed that the kids we were teaching understood conditional promises and the nature of God. I can’t tell you how full my heart was spending time showing them what our God was like. It’s so wonderful to see children understand the person and work of Jesus.
Have you taught a Sunday School or Children’s Ministry Gathering before? How was your first-day teaching? Have you considered what conditional promises were before? Do you sometimes struggle with believing God owes you something or that you deserve more? I do too sometimes.