I wish I had my daughters' memorization skills. They are three and six years old and can memorize almost anything. That includes Bible verses. My motto has always been "strike when the iron's hot," so regardless of how difficult, I try to incorporate teaching scripture memory into our daily routine. One day my girls' minds will be filled to the brim, making memorization harder. I know they will not remember every verse I teach them, but my prayer is that in years to come, when they need it most, a remnant planted deep in their hearts will rise to the surface and help them.
We try to memorize a verse a week using this system. We also use music as much as possible. One of our favorites is Seeds Family Worship.
However, memorizing Bible verses is not the same as teaching them. Memorization only requires the head. Teaching requires the head and the heart. The Bible isn't the easiest book to read and comprehend even though it is essential to do both. Add to that the lack of context and life experience of young children, and it makes teaching important truths even more difficult.
This especially applies to the promises God gives us in the Bible. God's promises reveal to us His true character. He is not a God who is unconcerned with our needs or who is pleased to raise down an iron fist. He is a God of love. I want my children to know this. And I want them to know that He is their only hope. At the end of the day, there is no human who helps them the way God does.
How to Teach Little Ones the Promises of God in a Way They Understand
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Use simpler words that you can repeat often.
I think it is important for children to read and memorize Bible verses exactly as they are written in the Bible. God chose to use the words He did for a reason. Plus, since memorization comes easily for them at such a young age, there's no reason not to have them memorize the exact verses.
However, for teaching my children in everyday circumstances I use simpler words. These are sentences that I can say often and quickly when they're needed. For example, for Exodus 20:12 I might say, "Honoring mommy and daddy brings you blessings!" Below is a list of ten promises to teach children along with an example of simpler words. The Message paraphrase of the Bible is also a great place to look for language easier for children to understand.
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Use their personal lives to apply God's promises.
Even without much personal experience, children's lives still present opportunities to teach and apply God's Word and promises. For example, my daughter was struggling with separation anxiety. Anytime I dropped her off at her class at church she would cling to me and cry. I used this opportunity to teach her God's promise in Deuteronomy 31:8 that God is always with her even when mommy is not.
"The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” (Deuteronomy 31:8)
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Talk about God's promises at times other than during correction or discipline.
It's easy for parents to remind children what God's Word says when they're being disobedient. But sometimes that's not the most appropriate time. Emotions are heightened, and attention spans are compromised. Plus, we never want God's Word to be used as a punitive tool. God does not intend for the Bible to be punishment. It's better to teach God's promises during small moments of the day.
The other day my six-year-old told me she wanted to be a gymnast when she grows up. I used that opportunity to teach her Jeremiah 29:11. I explained to her that God has a special plan for her life. I also encouraged her to start praying now for God to reveal His plan for her and to develop it in her.
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Relate God's promises in Bible stories back to your child's personal life.
There are many well written children's Bibles available that teach God's Word in a way children can understand without undermining deep truths. However, sometimes Bible stories can be difficult for children (or even adults for that matter!) to relate to because the culture is so different from ours today. It's important that we don't just read the stories to our children, but that we also use that time to discuss how they apply to our lives today.
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Take the promise God gave Abraham that He would bless Abraham's descendants as numerous as all the stars in the sky (Genesis 22:17). When we're reading that verse to our children, we can explain to them that we are descendants of Abraham through our adoption into God's family through our belief in Jesus Christ. And we have been blessed because Jesus, our Savior, was born through Abraham's lineage. God's promise to Abraham is also a promise to us!
There are numerous promises of God in the Bible, and all of them are important, however, here are 10 that might be especially applicable to young children.
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10 Promises of God to Teach Your Little Ones
Memorize it: “Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the LORD your God is giving you."
A simpler way of saying it: "Honoring mommy and daddy brings you blessings!"
Memorize it: "If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you."
A simpler way of saying it: "Whenever you don't know what to do, ask God, and He will tell you!"
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Memorize it: "Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you."
A simpler way of saying it: "When you're tempted to do the wrong thing, go to God and ask for help, then say 'No!' to the devil and watch the temptation go away."
1 John 1:9
Memorize it: "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness."
A simpler way of saying it: "Tell God your sins and He will forgive you and make you right with Him again!"
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Memorize it: "The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”
A simpler way of saying it: "God is already there, so don't be afraid! He will never leave you!"
Memorize it: "'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the LORD, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'"
A simpler way of saying it: "God has a good, good plan for your life that will help you and give you all you need!"
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Memorize it: "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."
A simpler way of saying it: "God loves you so much that He gave you Jesus! And when you believe in Jesus you get to have a relationship with Him now and spend forever with Him in heaven one day!"
Memorize it: "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose."
A simpler way of saying it: "When we love God and try to do His will, He turns all things, even the bad things, into good for us!"
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Memorize it: "Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."
A simpler way of saying it: "Do not worry, but instead pray to God, thank Him, and tell Him what you need. Then He will fill you with so much peace that you won't even understand it!"
Memorize it: "Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight."
A simpler way of saying it: "Trust God with everything you have, do what He wants you to do, and He will tell you the wisest decision to make!"
Brenda Rodgers considers herself a “recovering single” after years as a single woman chasing after marriage instead of chasing after Jesus. Now her passion is to mentor young women to live purposefully and grow in their relationship with God and others. Brenda has been married for five years to a heart transplant hero and is the mom of a toddler girl miracle. She is also the author of the eBook Fall for Him: 25 Challenges from a Recovering Single. You can also read more on Brenda’s blog, www.TripleBraidedLife.com and follow her on Twitter and Facebook.
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Originally published Sunday, 26 January 2020.