Kids know how to enjoy pizza, pets, games and ice cream. But how do we help them know what it means to enjoy God?
God is not looking for kids who dutifully behave, but for those who will know and love Him (Ps. 34:8; 37:4). Something will always be missing until they grasp that God made us to enjoy a relationship with Him (Gen. 1:26; Ps. 16:11; Matt. 22:35–38).
A Father’s Story
One father shared his struggles and joys in taking his three kids to Bible study each week. “The kids love it, but it’s lots of work for me!” A neighbor asked why he bothered rushing home every Monday and then back to church for Bible study.
“One Monday a week,” he asserted, “is a small investment for the eternal dividends God promises.” This father understands that enjoying God is a process. His kids once thought of God’s Word as a rule book. Now they’re experiencing God’s Word as His voice and enjoying a delicious meal for their souls (Ps. 119:103).
At first, his kids read the Bible just to complete all the study questions for class. “Over time, my kids’ thinking about Bible study has changed. It’s no longer ‘eat your vegetables.’ Now Bible study means tasting sweet honey.” The study questions serve his kids as a journal. They record God’s truths with words and pictures. This journal is helping them realize what it means to enjoy God.
More than a “Dear Diary” discipline, journaling helps kids concentrate. God made our brains so that the act of writing out our thoughts helps us think and remember. Here’s an amazing truth: nothing has a greater impact on a child’s life than the Word of God. The Holy Spirit takes God’s Word and points us to Jesus. When we write down what is true about God, the Holy Spirit supersizes it! Your kids can start journaling using a Bible study lesson, my book A Jesus Christmas, or another resource of your choice.
These three tips will help:
1. Journal what God’s actions tell you about who He is.
How can we help kids enjoy God as they would their best friend? Children cannot see God with their eyes. We can help kids know God in His Word. God’s actions tell us who He is. As you read the Bible together, point out what God is doing. Then ask, “What did God do and what does His action tell us about Him?”
- Gen. 1:1, 27; Ps. 19:1 – God created everything. God alone is able to bring something out of nothing. He is all-powerful and good.
- Isa. 41:10; Rom. 3:24–26 – God is also righteous. Jesus willingly died so that the Father could forgive our sin and give us Jesus’ righteousness (Ps. 86:11; 2 Cor. 5:21).
2. Journal your response to what God has done for you in Jesus.
Children do not understand their own sinful hearts and the greatness of God’s grace to them in sending Jesus. We can help kids understand and remember God’s acts of love. Ask, “What has God done for me in Jesus, and how will I praise Him?”
- Our holy and loving Father created us to love and enjoy Him (Gen. 1:27–30; 1 Cor. 1:9; 2 Cor. 13:14; 1 John 1:1–7). As His precious children we are happiest when we live for His honor (Isa. 43:4–7; Acts 17:28).
- Jesus is stronger than everything—even sin and death. God promises to forgive the sin of all who turn to Him and trust in Jesus. God’s children will spend eternity in heaven with Him (Eph. 1:4–5; Rom. 8:1).
3. Journal how you are learning to love the things Jesus loves.
Children think their own way is best. We can help them understand the joy and privilege of obeying our loving Father whose way is always best (Rom. 6:22–23; 1 Cor. 6:19–20). As you read the Bible, watch for God’s Word to teach, challenge, correct and train you and your child (2 Tim. 3:16–17). The Holy Spirit grows us to be more like Jesus as we respond to God (Eph. 4:22–24). Knowing God as Father changes us from being rule-keepers to people who can find joy in obedience (Rom. 8:14–16).
- The Holy Spirit is Jesus right with you all the time. All who turn to God and trust in Jesus have the Holy Spirit living in them (Rom. 8:9–15). That’s how close Jesus is!
- God invites us to taste and see His goodness (Ps. 34:8). As we spend time getting to know God by listening to Him speak, we love and enjoy Him.
Bonus: For Super-Sized Enjoyment . . .
Journal entries that help you remember.
God strongly warns His people not to forget His Word. At the same time, He encourages us to actively remember His goodness (Deut. 4:10; 8:2, 18; 32:7). Help your family learn to rest in God’s grace for the future as you remember together what He has done in the past (2 Thess. 2:13; 2 Tim. 2:8). Journal in words, pictures, stories, poems, or songs to help you remember the mighty work of God in your lives.
Journal entries that help you trace God’s work to make you more like Jesus.
Most children enjoy looking at family photos and videos to see how much they have grown. Or they eagerly mark their physical growth on a door or wall. Spiritual growth is not as easily measured. The Holy Spirit changes us little by little, as we yield to Him. In the future, when you reread the journal notes, you will enjoy God even more. He will reveal to you His power at work in the minds and hearts of those you love.
Are you ready to start journaling with your kids? A parent rarely needs to help a child enjoy pizza, pets, games and ice cream. But helping your child discover their soul’s most satisfying joy in God requires earnest prayer and deliberate effort. The greatest enjoyment in this world and in the ages to come is God alone.
Journal entry from an eight-year-old
Journal entry from a ten-year-old
Editor’s Note: One way to invest in your children and grandchildren this Christmas is with Barbara’s book A Jesus Christmas (The Good Book Company, 2018). Barbara’s a seasoned discipler of children that you can trust—you’ll be encouraged as she guides you and your little ones to enjoy God more through daily journaling. Buy your copy here, before the Advent season starts!