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Editor’s note: This is a slightly adapted version of the devotional included in the Ocean Commotion VBS Director Guide.
Churches across the United States will begin diving into Noah’s Flood with Ocean Commotion VBS in just a few short weeks. We have even heard reports of VBS programs overseas that have already started! While it is vital to get this solid Bible teaching to children during VBS, we shouldn’t neglect the volunteers. Ocean Commotion VBS has put together a series of devotionals to help you encourage your leaders to focus on what they are teaching, and the One they are teaching about.
Here is a devotion to help kickoff Day 1 of VBS:
By faith Noah, being divinely warned of things not yet seen, moved with godly fear, prepared an ark for the saving of his household, by which he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness which is according to faith. (Hebrews 11:7)
This week at Ocean Commotion, we’ll be teaching our kids to stand for God, obey God, trust God, thank God, and fear God, just as Noah did 4,300 years ago. All characteristics that we want to instill in our children, right? But if we’re not careful as we teach good character qualities, we can easily fall into the trap of moralism. Moralism is the idea that we can achieve righteousness or right living apart from the gospel. We teach moralism when we say, “Noah took a stand for God, and you should, too!” While it’s true that Noah stood for God in the face of unrelenting wickedness, he did not do it in his own power.
Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord (Genesis 6:8). He walked with God (Genesis 6:9). He knew that God was the one who was saving him from the coming judgment, and by faith in God, he willingly responded to God’s call on his life (Hebrews 11:7). Noah’s stand for God was grounded in his faith in God. Think about it this way: So what if we teach kids to stand for God? If we teach them to stand for God apart from the gospel, they are as much in danger of the fires of hell as the child who mocks God. If we teach kids to obey God’s commands (be kind, tell the truth, obey your parents, stay sexually pure until marriage) apart from the gospel, they are as much in danger of eternal separation from God’s goodness as the homosexuals who outright defy God’s commands.
If we teach them to thank God but don’t hold out the ultimate reason we give thanks—that we’ve been rescued from the eternal wrath of God on our sins—we bring them no closer to the kingdom of heaven than the ingrates who refuse to acknowledge God even exists.
We don’t want to encourage kids to change themselves— to take a stand in their own power just because some guy did it thousands of years ago. Being good, standing for God—moralism—doesn’t save anybody. After all, it wasn’t for the righteous that Jesus came; He came for sinners (Luke 5:32). Instead, we need to encourage our children to realize their desperate need for a Savior who will help them stand for Him through the indwelling power of His Holy Spirit.
As we go through this week, let’s look for opportunities to share Noah’s life with our kids—how he stood for God, obeyed God, trusted God, thanked God, and feared God—through the lens of his faith in God. Let’s point them to the only One who can save us and sanctify us—the only truly moral One who gives us His morality when we can’t manufacture any on our own (2 Corinthians 5:21). Let’s reject the idea that morality is our end goal. And let’s encourage them to trust whole-heartedly in Jesus and to rely on Him to work out these attributes in us—the only true basis for morality that exists.
We are glad to supply you with answers through VBS, Answers magazine, articles, and resources. It is our hope that these magazine articles, web articles, and devotions will empower your team to share Christ with the children and each other during your week of VBS.
Note: The devotions included in your VBS kit will be slightly modified versions of these articles to better fit the VBS occasion.
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