Monday, June 2, 2014

What Freedom Means by Martin Wiles

(All material is original to the author with the exception of songs and activities which have been borrowed from various sources. All studies are free for public use.)

What Freedom Means
Scripture Reference: John 8:36
(Compiled and written by Martin W. Wiles)

Objectives: To remind children how wonderful it is to live in a free country and also to teach them about the freedom they have in Christ when they trust him as their Savior.  

Say: Because this is the weekend we celebrate our country’s freedom, we’ll not talk about one of Jesus’ stories. We’ll continue those stories next week. Today, we want to talk about two things: patriotism and Christianity. Patriotism means loving your country, being loyal to it, and thanking and praying for those who serve in the military. They serve and fight so that our country can remain free from the control of any who might try to tell us we can’t worship God or observe any of the other freedoms we enjoy. In America, we enjoy the following freedoms: religion, speech, press, and peaceful assembly. (Take a moment to explain to the children what each of these freedoms mean.) Christianity is our loyalty to Jesus like patriotism is loyalty to our country. Christ frees us from sin’s control just as our military has fought many wars to keep us free from other people’s control. 

Say: (Display the following verse where the children can easily see it.) Let’s say our memory verse together. So if the Son (Jesus) sets you free, you are truly free. (John 8:36 NLT)

Bible Story Time: 
Tell the children the story of the Pilgrims and about the wars that have since been fought by America to preserve our freedom. Then relate this to the freedom from sin that Christians enjoy because of what Jesus did on the cross:

In 1606, members of the church in Scrooby, Nottingham, separated from the Anglican church (the church in England) because they were worried about the future of their faith. In 1608, led by their pastor John Robinson, about 125 of them left England for the Low Countries. William Bradford and William Brewster also went along. Difficulties in making a living had made them sad, and their children were being influenced by the bad behavior of Holland’s children. In 1619 they decided to look for “a place where they might have liberty and live comfortably,” raising the possibility of America. In 1620, about 100 people, 35 of them Pilgrims from Layden, set out from Plymouth, England, on a ship named Mayflower. 

Had the Mayflower reached the intended destination-the mouth of the Hudson River on Virginia Company's grant of land, they might soon have been forgotten. But their ship touched America slightly to the north of Cape Cod Bay. Because of the storm-tossed seas of December, they decided to stay where they were. Before going ashore, they drew up the Mayflower Compact and chose William Bradford as their governor. 

Landing on the bleak Massachusetts shore at Plymouth in December of 1620, the Pilgrims had to endure a desperate winter. As luck would have it though, there was an Indian in the area by the name of Squanto who spoke English. He had been kidnapped in 1615 by an English sea captain who took him to Spain, but he soon escaped and made his way back to England. By 1619, he had made his way to America where he stayed. To the Pilgrims, he was “a special instrument sent of God for their good.” Not only did he serve as an interpreter but he also showed them the best places to fish, how to plant, and how to cultivate. They worked hard, got their crops in the ground, had a bountiful harvest the following November, and invited their Indian neighbors to a Thanksgiving feast.

The first men and women who came to America were men and women who worshipped God. They were confident that God helped them through that first winter, supplying their needs, and sending the Indians to be their helpers.

The first people to come to America from Europe came because they wanted to be able to worship God as they thought was best and not have anyone else tell them how they must worship or what church they had to belong to. The Church of England was doing this. 

Reflection: How would you feel if someone was telling you what church you had to belong to or that you couldn’t worship God at all? 

Many wars have been fought by America to preserve this freedom. The colonists in America eventually had to fight a war with England to keep their freedom. This war is called the American Revolution or the The Revolutionary War. Many other wars followed: the French and Indian War, the War of 1812, the Civil War, World Wars I and II, Korean War, Vietnam War, Desert Storm, Afghanistan, and Iraq. Currently, we are still fighting a war with terrorism. 

Reflection: Has anyone in your family served in the military or fought in a war? 

As important as our country’s freedom is, there is another freedom that’s more essential. It’s the freedom we have when we trust Jesus as our Savior. When we do this, he forgives all our sins. The Bible tells us we are slaves to sin, but Jesus frees us from that slavery. He died on the cross to pay for our sins. When we trust him as our Savior, he gives us the strength to obey him—which we couldn’t do without his help. He also promises that he’s preparing a place for us in heaven when we die. 

What does the first story teach us about how important our freedom is as a country? What are some ways you can show God how thankful you are that he allows you to live in this great country? (Answers might include: praying for our president, praying for those who lead our country, praying for those in the military, sending a letter to someone in the military, sending a care package to someone in the military, thanking God for letting you live in America.) 

What does the second story teach us about how important our freedom from sin is? What are some ways you can show God how thankful you are that he allows you to be his child? (Answers might include: thanking him that you can go to heaven instead of hell, thanking him for forgiving all your sins, reading your Bible, praying regularly, coming to church, telling your friends about Jesus.)

Activity Break: 
Show children the American flag. Tell them what the stars and stripes represent. Then provide them with materials and let them draw their own flag. When they are finished, let them draw and color a picture of the cross. Remind them of the two freedoms each represents. 

Wrap Up: 
Let children draw and then color something they think represents freedom. 

Let’s sing a song to remind us how important our freedom is.
America the Beautiful

O beautiful for spacious skies,
For amber waves of grain,
For purple mountain majesties
Above the fruited plain!
America! America! God shed His grace on thee,
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!

O beautiful for pilgrim feet,
Whose stern impassion'd stress
A thoroughfare for freedom beat
Across the wilderness!
America! America! God mend thine ev'ry flaw,
Confirm thy soul in self-control,
Thy liberty in law!

O beautiful for heroes proved In liberating strife,
Who more than self their country loved,
And mercy more than life!
America! America! May God thy gold refine
Till all success be nobleness,
And ev'ry gain divine!

O Beautiful for patriot dream
That sees beyond the years
Thine alabaster cities gleam,
Undimmed by human tears!
America! America! God shed His grace on thee,
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!

Take Away:
Let each child tell one thing they learned from the stories about the founding of our country and Jesus’ death on the cross.   

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