3. Children’s Book: “Best Friends”
To Parents and Teachers: This page is taken from a booklet entitled, “Best Friends” that I put together for a children’s Sunday School class.
You are encouraged to read along with your child so you can discuss the material together and answer questions your child may have.
In Proverbs 22:6, God encourages us to, “Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not turn from it.”
May the Lord bless you in the sacred endeavor He has given you to nurture a child’s spiritual development.
By Susan McGorty Copyright © 1991, 1995, 2009, 2011 “Summer Sundays” by Susan McGorty. All Rights Reserved. Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.
“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” Genesis 1:1. The sun and moon, the oceans and fish, the sky and birds, the land and animals, God made them all. And after He had made everything, the Bible says, “God saw that it was good” Genesis 1:25. But He was not finished yet.
“Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground'” Genesis 1:26.
The Bible tells us, “the Lord God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life” Genesis 2:7. His name was Adam.
Adam lived in a beautiful garden in a place called Eden. God gave Adam important jobs to do, like caring for the garden and naming all the animals. God knew that Adam needed a partner. So one day while Adam was in a deep sleep, God made the first woman from one of Adam’s ribs. When Adam woke up and saw her, he said, “this is now bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh” Genesis 2:23. Adam called her Eve.
What a wonderful time Adam and Eve had in the beautiful garden of Eden! All of the animals were their friends, they had plenty of good things to eat, and best of all, God would come to the garden and visit with them.
God loved Adam and Eve very much. They were best friends. In fact, God loved them so much that He warned them about something. God said, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die” Genesis 2:16-17.
God wanted Adam and Eve to be happy forever. But He knew that if they disobeyed Him, the wonderful times would stop and they would be sad. Then one day when they were near the tree, one of the creatures, the serpent, tempted Eve by lying to her about what God had said.
But instead of obeying God, Eve took some of the fruit and ate it. Then she gave the fruit to her husband Adam, and he ate it, too. This was the first sin ever committed by people. Sin is when we do wrong things and disobey what God has said.
When Adam and Eve sinned by disobeying God, they became separated from Him. Their hearts were now dirty with sin. Everything God had created changed that day because of sin.
This is a very sad story, isn’t it? It’s also bad news for us, because the Bible says, “all have sinned.” Each of us have done wrong things in our lives. And just like Adam and Eve, our hearts are dirty with sin. Our sins keep us apart from God who loves us.
But you know what? God has some “Good News!” He loves us so much that He made a way to bring us together with Him so we can be best friends. Would you like to learn more about this Good News? That’s coming up next.
Memory Verse: “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Romans 3:23
Are you a perfect person? Of course not. None of us are. Each of us have done wrong things in our lives. We learned the bad news that our hearts are dirty with sin, and our sins keeps us apart from God. Now we’ll learn the Good News!
Because God loves us, He made a way to take away our sins. The Bible says, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” John 3:16. (The word “eternal” means “lasting forever.”)
The Lord Jesus Christ came down from Heaven and was born into the world like you and I were, except He was perfect and had no sin. Jesus showed us what God the Father was like. He said, “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father” John 14:9.
Jesus was a friend to the people everyone else rejected. He loved people and did many miracles to help them. He made the blind see, the deaf hear, and even raised the dead back to life. He loved children and often held them in His arms and blessed them.
The religious leaders of the day were jealous of Jesus and hated Him. They thought they were following God because they kept God’s rules. But Jesus showed them they only looked like they were keeping God’s rules on the outside, because, inside, their hearts were black with sin. They didn’t want to hear the truth, so they made plans to destroy Jesus.
But Jesus knew that His mission in coming to earth was to die on the cross for the sins of the whole world. And on the third day after His death, He would raise his own body to life again and return to Heaven. And that’s exactly what He did. Jesus suffered and died on the cross in our place. He took the punishment for our sins so that we could be forgiven by God.
“Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” Romans 10:13. What will we be saved from? We will be saved from being apart from God forever. One day, we will live with Him in Heaven.
Jesus loves you very much. He said, “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in” Revelation 3:20.
Right now Jesus is standing at the door of your heart, waiting for you to call on Him and invite Him in. If you are sorry for your sins and ask God to forgive you, He will. Then you will be born into God’s family. This is what the Bible calls being “born again.”
Here are two hearts:
The left heart is dirty because of sin, and the right heart is washed clean of sin.
Which of these hearts do you think you have? Which of these hearts do you want to have?
If you ask God to, He will forgive your sins and give you a clean, new heart. Would you like to invite Jesus into your heart right now? If you really do, here’s a prayer you can say to God:
Dear God, I’m sorry for all my sins. Please forgive me. I believe that Jesus died on the cross for me. Jesus, please come into my heart and guide my life. In Jesus name, I pray.
Did you talk to God and invite Jesus into your heart? Well, if you did:
- God has forgiven all your sins.
- Jesus has come into your heart and life. He is the best friend you will ever have. He says, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you” Hebrews 13:5. He loves you and will always be with you.
- God is now your Heavenly Father, and you are His special child.
- Heaven will be your home one day.
- You are now a “Christian.” A Christian is a follower of Jesus.
Thank you God, for the Good News!
Memory Verse: “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” Romans 10:13
After Jesus rose from the dead and before He returned to Heaven, He told His disciples (followers), “Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you” Matthew 28:19-20.
Baptism is something Christians do to show everyone they are following Jesus and living a brand new life. No one can see when Jesus comes into a person’s heart, but they can see that person being baptized. Baptism shows on the outside what has happened to them on the inside.
Even Jesus was baptized giving us an example to follow: “Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptized by John” Matthew 3:13. When we are baptized, it’s a time when we remember and identify with Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection:
- Jesus died on the cross. (We are dead to our old way of life (sin)
- Jesus was buried. (Our old way of life is buried with Him.)
- Jesus rose from the dead! (We have a new life too!)
You can be baptized wherever there is water. You can wear your bathing suit, or a t-shirt and shorts. You stand in the water and a Christian pastor or leader prays and says, “I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit,” as he dunks you under the water and back up again.
Baptism is a time to thank God for the new life He has given us. Even if you have been a Christian for awhile but were never baptized, don’t be sad. You too can still be baptized. Baptism is a special event in your life you will remember always.
Memory Verse: “Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” Matthew 28:19
How do you get to know a new friend? You spend time with them and learn more about them. You may get their phone number and call them to talk.
Our Father in Heaven wants us to get to know Him too. God doesn’t have a phone number, because He has made getting in touch with Him even easier than a phone call. We can talk to God anytime and anywhere, about anything and everything. The Bible calls this prayer.
We can pray out loud or silently (God can hear our thoughts). God wants to hear from us as often as possible. He loves us and wants us to spend time with Him. We can always trust God, so we can share anything that’s on our mind with Him. For example, we can:
– Ask God to help us at school.
– Thank Him for our day.
– Pray for our family and friends.
Are there things in your life that make you afraid? God understands and wants to help you.
God knows you better than anyone in the whole world. He knows everything about you and thinks you are very special. And because He knows you so well, He knows exactly what you need in your life and just when you need it.
Jesus loved praying and spending time with God
the Father. His disciples saw this, and asked Him to teach them how to pray. This prayer model can be found in Matthew 6: 9-14. Our Father in Heaven wants us to be close to Him and enjoy a special relationship with Him.
We don’t ever have to be afraid to talk to God, even if we have sinned (done wrong things and disobeyed what God has said). Being a Christian doesn’t mean there won’t be times when we mess up. God knows when we do, so we can be honest and open with Him.
The Bible tells us in 1 John 1:9, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” If we tell God about our sins and are sorry for them, God will forgive us and purify (clean) us of our sins.
Jesus went through many hard times on earth and was tempted to sin just like we are. Even though Jesus never sinned, He understands exactly what we’re going through when we are tempted. He loves us and wants to help us be strong so we can resist sin. Ask God to help you do what is right and good, and He will.
Have you been mean to someone, or has someone been mean to you? The Bible says: “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you” Ephesians 4:32.
God wants us to behave with kindness and compassion toward one another. And because He has forgiven us so much, God wants us to forgive others. Sometimes, forgiving someone who has not been nice to us can be a hard thing to do. But if we ask Him to, God will help us forgive them from our heart and give us peace inside.
The night before Jesus was crucified, He prayed for His disciples, and can you guess who else? Jesus said, “My prayer is not for them [the disciples] alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message” John 17:20. Jesus prayed for you and me! Are there people who you pray for? If not, you may want to pray for:
- Someone you know who hasn’t asked Jesus into their heart yet.
- Someone who is going through hard times.
- Someone who is sick.
- Someone who has been mean to you.
- Someone you love.
God loves and cares about everyone you can think of to pray for.
So pray about the small things as well as the big things in your life. As you go through your day, talk to God. He is happy when you do. As you stay close to Him, He will put different things in your heart to pray for. God wants to answer those prayers so you will be filled with joy!
Memory Verse: “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” 1st John 1:9
Mealtime, mmm! Food is the fuel we need to keep our bodies healthy and strong. But we need more than food to live. Jesus said, “Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God” Matthew 4:4. God’s word is the fuel we need to grow healthy and strong spiritually, in our hearts.
The prophet Jeremiah said, “When your words came, I ate them; they were my joy and my heart’s delight” Jeremiah 15:16. How can we eat God’s words so our hearts will be healthy and strong? By reading and studying His Word, the Bible.
The Bible was written by different people over a period of 1,600 years. It is a collection of 66 books. All of the writers had a special relationship with God. They wrote the Bible under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. God inspired them to write down exactly what He wanted to say to us. That’s why the Bible is called the “Word of God.”
There was a time hundreds of years ago when people like you and I didn’t have bibles. Brave men like William Tyndale were even killed, because they believed the Bible was written for and could be understood by everyone, not just a chosen few. Because of great sacrifices like Tyndale’s, today we enjoy the freedom of having bibles.
Did you know that God’s word is alive? The Bible says, “For the word of God is living and active” Hebrews 4:12. Because God’s words are living words, our Heavenly Father will speak to us as we read our bible. He will speak to us quietly, in our hearts.
God’s word is also a light: “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path” Psalm 119:105. When it’s dark and you can’t see where you’re going, what do you do? You turn on a light. God’s word is the light we need to guide us along the pathway of our lives. When we read the Bible and pray, God will give our life direction and purpose. Jesus will be with us every step of the way.
Okay, so far we’ve learned that reading the Bible makes our hearts healthy and strong. And that God speaks to us and guides us as we read His word. The Bible also says, “I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you” Psalm 119:11. When we memorize bible verses, God can use His word in our hearts and minds to help us in different situations. Knowing what God’s word says can help us to obey Him. Here are some steps for bible memorization:
When you read the Bible and come across a verse you want to memorize:
- Get an index card or small piece of paper. Write the words of the verse on one side. On the other side, write the chapter and verse number (the address).
- You now have your own flash card. Test yourself every day until you can say the verse and address quickly.
- When you feel confident that you know the verse and address well, test yourself once a week.
- Soon you will have your own collection of bible verse flash cards. It’s challenging and fun to do.
Memory Verse: “I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.” Psalm 119:11
Where is the one place Christians gather each Sunday? Church! But did you know that the “Church” is more than just a building? We may meet in a structure we call a church, but it is people who make up the Church. You, me, and Christians everywhere. Jesus said that He would be the immovable stone He would build His Church on. A good house always starts with a strong foundation. If a house is built on a weak foundation, it will collapse when the storms come. The Church is strong because Jesus is our strong foundation.
The Bible also describes the Church as the “Body of Christ.” “There are many parts, but one body” 1 Corinthians 12:20. “You are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it” 1 Corinthians12:27.Think of the Church as a body, with Jesus as the head and the rest of us as the other parts. Some of us are hands, some are feet, and some of us are elbows! We are all important parts. And just like our own body needs each of our parts to operate well, we need each other too.
God has given every one of us different talents, abilities, and gifts. We use them to help and encourage one another. Together all of us make up the Church, or the Body of Christ. It’s a really big body, with Christians in every country of the world. India, Japan, Africa, they too are part of the Body of Christ. We have brothers and sisters everywhere. Just think of it: You are part of a very large family!
Many of our brothers and sisters in other parts of the world are not as fortunate as we are here in America. A great number are very poor and suffer for a variety of reasons. Many have never even seen a Bible, much less have one of their own. We may not always be able to help our far away brothers and sisters in person, but we can pray for them and do what we can here at home to send them help and encouragement.
Going to church is an important part of being a Christian. It is a privilege to be able to attend church, knowing that many Christians in other countries do not have this same opportunity and precious freedom. We go to church to:
- Worship God.
- Learn more about God, the Bible, and how to live the Christian life.
- Be with, help, and encourage others.
Memory Verse: “Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.” 1 Corinthians 12:27
Draw Yourself in the Picture. “You are part of a very large family!”
“How can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard?…How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!” Romans 10:14-15.
Earlier we learned about the Good News, which is also called the “Gospel.” That Jesus died on the cross for the sins of the whole world. He took the punishment for our sins. Every person who asks God to forgive their sins, calls on Jesus and invites Him into their heart, is born into God’s family. They won’t be apart from God anymore. But there are still many people who haven’t heard the gospel yet.
The Bible says when Jesus saw the crowds of people, “He had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, ‘The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field'” Matthew 9:36-38.
Jesus was telling his disciples to pray and ask God to send workers, Christians like you and me, out into the world to tell people about His love for them.
There are some workers who are called “missionaries,” who do just that. They take the gospel to people all over the world. But did you know that we can be workers for God too, wherever we are?
If you know someone who is not a Christian, pray for them. Then tell them what Jesus has done for you. God wants everyone to know Him and become part of His family.
Our job as Christians is to tell others about Jesus, then the Holy Spirit does the rest. His job is to show people their sins and their need for Jesus.
When we “witness,” or share the Good News with others, we are like farmers planting seeds. The Apostle Paul said:“I planted the seed, Apollos [a fellow Christian] watered it, but God made it grow” 1 Corinthians 3:6. The Bible says God’s word is a seed:
– When you tell people about Jesus and share the Good News, the seed of God’s word is planted in their heart.
– Later on, someone else may talk to that person about Jesus. They are watering the seed.
– But only God can make the seed grow!
We need to remember that not everyone will want to be a Christian the first time they hear about Jesus. For some, it may take more time. So if someone says “no” to Jesus, don’t be sad. They may say “yes” to Jesus later on. Keep praying for them. God loves them and will answer your prayers by continuing to knock on the door of their heart. One day you may hear them say, “Jesus come in. I need you in my life.”
Memory Verse: “I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes.” Romans 1:16
TROUBLE & TRIALS
Jesus told His disciples, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” John 16:33.
This is not always an easy world to live in. There is trouble, trials (difficulties), and tough times for all of us. Jesus says that as Christians, we will have trouble. Bad and sad things happen to Christians and to people who are not Christians.
Remember how we learned that because of sin the whole world changed? Sickness, sadness, and a lot of bad things came into the world. Because we live in the world, these things will affect all of us at one time or another.
But the difference between Christians and people who are not Christians, is that we are not alone when trouble comes into our lives. Jesus is with us during the bad and sad times, helping us each step of the way. He wants us to know that no matter how rough things may be, that He will help us and never leave us. And with Jesus by our side, we can overcome trouble, trials, and the tough times of life.
One of the reasons why trouble may come into our lives is because of choices we make to sin. We are faced with choices every day. If we choose to do wrong things, disobeying what God has said, we will have sad days. We can pray and ask God to help us be strong and resist sin.
When we do the right thing and obey God, sometimes people will laugh at us or call us names. When that happens, it’s hard to feel happy. But remember what Jesus said: “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven” Matthew 5:11-12.
God has our reward in Heaven waiting for us! He will give us peace and joy and reward us for obeying and following Him.
Another reason why trouble may come is because of the Christian’s enemy. This enemy doesn’t like God’s children, and is always trying to make life hard for Christians. Do you know who this enemy is? His name is Satan or the devil. He is an angel that rebelled against God a long time ago. The Bible tells us that one day God is going to get rid of the devil once and for all. Then he will never be able to bother anyone ever again.
For now, though, the devil is still around and will try to get Christians to take their eyes off Jesus and disobey God. The Bible says in James 4:7-8: “Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you.” Christians are told to resist (stand firm against) the devil, and come near to God. We come near to God by praying, reading and studying our bibles, obeying, and trusting Him.
Finally, it’s important to remember what the Bible says about trials: “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance” James 1:2-3.
When runners prepare for a big race, they train in order to do well. The training is not easy, but it helps build strong muscles and endurance.
In much the same way, God can use trials in our lives, to help build strong spiritual muscles in us. These muscles make our faith (trust) in God, grow, so we can do well running our life’s race. Trials are opportunities we can use to become stronger, closer to Jesus, and more and more like Him.
So remember, when bad or sad things happen, God has not left you. Read your bible, pray, and stay close to Jesus. Trust and be strong in Him. God has a great promise for the Christian: “And we know that in all things [even the bad and sad things] God works for the good of those who love Him” Romans 8:28.
Memory Verse: “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him.” Romans 8:28
SUM IT UP
We sure have learned a lot, haven’t we? You may think you’re the same person you were before you started learning about Jesus and living the Christian life, but you’re not. You’re much wiser and have grown, inside your heart. God has taught you new things about Himself and the Bible. Let’s sum up some of the things we’ve learned:
We know that because of Adam and Eve’s disobedience, sin came into the world and changed everything. We also got the bad news that not only Adam and Eve, but all of us have sinned. Our sins keep us apart from God who loves us. But God has Good News! He loves us so much that He made a way to bring us together with Him so we can be best friends.
The Good News is that Jesus came down from Heaven to die on the cross for the sins of the whole world. He took the punishment for our sins. If we are sorry and ask God to forgive our sins, He will, and give us a clean, new heart. When we call on Jesus and invite Him into our heart, He comes in. Then we are born into God’s family and become Christians, or followers of Jesus. Jesus is the best friend we will ever have and will always be with us.
When Christians are baptized, they show everyone they are following Jesus and living a brand new life. Baptism shows on the outside what has happened to them on the inside. Even Jesus was baptized, giving us an example to follow. Baptism is a special event in our lives.
We can pray and talk to God our Father anytime and anywhere, about anything and everything. God loves us and wants us to spend time with Him. We can always trust Him and share anything that’s on our mind. We don’t ever have to be afraid to talk to God, even if we have sinned. If we tell God about our sins and are sorry for them, He will forgive us. And because God has forgiven us so much, He wants us to forgive others. God wants us to be kind and compassionate to one another.
Reading and studying God’s Word, the Bible, keeps our hearts healthy and strong. Because God’s words are living words, He will speak to us quietly in our hearts as we read our bibles. His word is also a light to guide us along the pathway of our lives. God can use the bible verses we memorize to help us in different situations. Knowing what God’s word says can help us to obey Him.
Christians everywhere make up the Church, or the Body of Christ. God has given each of us different talents, abilities, and gifts that we use to help and encourage one another. At church we worship God, learn more about Him, the Bible, and how to live the Christian life. oEach of us can be a worker for God wherever we are by witnessing, or sharing the Good News with others. God wants everyone to know Him and become part of His family. Not everyone wants to be a Christian the first time they hear about Jesus, so we keep praying for them. They may say “yes” to Jesus later on.
There is trouble, trials, and tough times for all of us. But Christians are not alone when trouble comes into our lives. Jesus is with us during the bad and sad times, helping us each step of the way. We can pray and ask God to help us be strong and resist sin. Christians are also told to resist our enemy, the devil, and come near to God. God can use trials to build spiritual muscles which makes our faith in God, grow. We have His promise that “in all things God works for the good of those who love Him.”
Congratulations Reader! You have been a good learner. Know that God loves you very much and has a plan for your life. As you spend time in prayer, and in your bible, you will become closer and closer to your Father in Heaven. You will learn about the promises He has for you in His Word, and discover the plans He has for your life, day by day. Remember that Jesus will be with you always, for He said, “Never will I leave you.”
There is nothing better in the whole world than being Best Friends with Jesus!
By Susan McGorty Copyright © 1991, 1995, 2009, 2011 “Summer Sundays” by Susan McGorty. All Rights Reserved. Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.