If you have followed my blog for a while, you may have noticed that I am often emphasizing the teaching of Bible stories to elementary age kids in chronological order. Likewise, I would encourage you, when possible, to include the historical context of the stories. That is exactly what I did when I prepared my Jesus Curriculum. Why would I do that?
1) Because too often, Jesus seems like a cardboard character to kids. You might think that going back into history would make Him even more distant. Ironically, the reverse is true. Placing Him in the setting of ancient Palestine brings His teachings to life. It helps us better understand what He said and did, and why.
2) Because the Bible is telling a real story. Real stories always have settings and supporting characters and subplots. Without that, the story lacks depth, reality, and meaning.
3) Because it’s fascinating. It’s fun to find out why the Pharisees were so upset over Jesus healing on the Sabbath. (You weren’t allowed to carry anything that weighed more than two dried figs on the Sabbath – much less a mat.) It’s fun to wash hands like they did.
Several years ago, I spoke at Children’s Pastors Conference on teaching about Jesus in the context of His times. Afterward, someone asked if I had the historical information in a reference book for teachers. I didn’t, but the wheels began turning. The result is the Day by Day Devotions with Jesus in Ancient Palestine, a book of 180 kids’ devotions for the school year.
Now, the attendee actually asked for a book where teachers could find background material for preparing lessons. So why a book of devotions? Well. . . for teachers, I wanted to place relevant historical information alongside Bible passages for ease of finding the contextual background. But I realized that kids could read these passages too, discovering the same fascinating information for themselves. So I ended up writing a book of devotions for kids that doubles as a reference book for teacher preparation.
Teachers can start using Day by Day Devotions with Jesus in Ancient Palestine right away. For kids, it will be a perfect devo to start using in the fall, as it will take them through the school year. And when summer vacation rolls around they can continue their historical devotions with, A Summer of Psalms. When paired with Day by Day Devotions with Jesus, the Psalms book, with fun facts about life around the time of King David, will help kids complete a full year of devotions.
Without a doubt, I can say I’ve been tremendously inspired by these fascinating historical studies, and I’m excited to be able to communicate them to kids. I expect them to give you and your kids a depth of insight into the Bible that you’ll treasure forever.