When Thanksgiving is over, we start thinking about the next holiday . . .
What do you suppose most kids think is the best thing about Christmas? (Getting gifts--some will say that we celebrate the birth of Christ.) I can understand both answers because JESUS coming to earth is the greatest gift our world could ever receive, and everyone LOVES receiving gifts.
Did you ever receive a gift that had other gifts included when you opened it? (Examples: pinata; DVD with a couple of movies or additional clips included; Wii game that has several games on one disk; book with several stories in one; a box of candy with several kinds of candy inside; a cell phone with internet connection and apps, etc.)
When we receive JESUS as our Savior (ask HIM to forgive our sins and come into our lives) we not only receive HIM, but also the Holy Spirit. We can't see the Holy Spirit, but we can tell the Holy Spirit is living in us, because of all the other wonderful gifts that show up in our lives! (2 Co. 5:17)
Read Galatians 5:22-23, "The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control." (NIV)
WOW! When we ask Jesus into our hearts, we get lots more too! We don't SEE the Holy Spirit with our eyes, but we see the affects of the Holy Spirit in our lives. (To explain this point, you may like to share with the children about the wind. You don't see the wind, but you see the affects of the wind, etc.) The Holy Spirit immediately starts working in our hearts by giving us NINE other gifts so we can have enough to give to others!
(Pull out big papers [or boxes] one at a time and "reveal" the fruit of the Spirit. Talk about "each fruit" as it is shown. Example: 9 large pieces of paper folded with #1-9 on the outside of the folded paper. Up to 9 children are handed the papers one at a time and have them open and reveal the "fruit of the Spirit" (include some decoration if possible). If fewer children, each one receives one and then continue until all have been displayed. The big papers make a big impact.)
With these special gifts from God our lives will show the change that happened when we received Jesus as our Savior. The more you let them show (practice them in your life), the bigger these special gifts from the Holy Spirit will grow and more people will see that you are really different because you have received Jesus as Savior; and they will be blessed too! When you give a gift to others, they are pleased and so are you!
Can you guess what these are? (Show some very plump grapes and if time allows, let the children sample them.) Yes, these are juicy grapes and yummy! (Include the children in the demonstration by telling how much they like the juicy grapes.)
Do you know what these are? (Show some raisins). Yes, these are raisins. Do you know what raisins were at one time? Yes, they were grapes. Do you know how this happened? The grapes were set aside and allowed to become shriveled and almost dried up. They are still grapes, but they are certainly not as attractive anymore. (Some children will not know they were once a juicy grape, so be sure to include interaction for them to grasp this.)
What do you think might happen to our "Spirit fruit" if we don't use them? (They will shrivel up like the grapes that became raisins. People around you may not notice that you are even a Christian at all.) The raisins are a good example of what will happen if we don't practice the special gifts of the Spirit that JESUS gives us. If we don't receive (use) these special gifts from Jesus and share them with others, the special gifts that came with the Holy Spirit will dry up - shrivel - and others will not notice that we are different because we asked Jesus to be our Savior.
I don't know about you, but I want my life to look DELICIOUS to others - so delicious that they want to have this "fruit" too. Then I can tell them how they can get an endless supply of wonderful fruit from the Holy Spirit! If I am shriveled up, others will not notice the special gifts that can be theirs. Let's share our gifts with others. We LOVE others a lot, show lots of JOY in things we do; be PATIENT and KIND; show GOODNESS in the things we plan; be FAITHFUL to God; GENTLE (not mean) and show SELF-CONTROL - even when we get mad, don't do mean things to others. (Explain, demonstrate, or have the children respond with ideas of ways to exercise each of the "Spirit fruit" as you repeat the Scripture slowly.)
It may be getting close to Christmas, but if you have Jesus in your life, you already have LOTS of gifts to enjoy for yourself AND to give to others! And if you invite Jesus to be your Savior (the Greatest GIFT of all) you receive more and more from HIM and the gifts HE gives will grow and grow! You will never run out of fruit to share with others!
Your prize today is a box of raisins. I want this to remind you that if you don't practice all the gifts that God gives you, HIS FRUIT will dry up and your life as a Christian will not be attractive to others. I don't want to be a shriveled up fruit of the Spirit. I want to be a JUICY FRUIT for JESUS!
"Dear Heavenly Father, Thank You for the Christmas Season, a time to think about the greatest gift of all: JESUS. Help us remember to enjoy and share the wonderful FRUIT of the Spirit that you give to all people who ask JESUS to be their Savior. In Jesus' name, Amen!"
Copyright 2010 Emmalea Butler
NOTE: I presented this to a small group of 5 children (ages 1-9) during Children's Message, 10 minutes with our kids in front of the congregation. When a 4 year old boy received the 3rd sign to open, he blurted out, "No, more! This is just TOO much!" The congregation laughed and I made the point that God is that generous to us, and we are sometimes overcome with HIS goodness! There were many kind comments from the adult "children" about the message following the service.
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