First Sabbath   
 
Just One Look!
 
Memory Text: “God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son so that whoever believes in him may not be lost, but have eternal life” (John 3:16, NCV).*

Motivational Aid 
Put up a big banner with the word “HOPE” on it. Then ask, “What does this word mean to you?” Explain that hope means: to desire with expectation getting something; to look forward to; to anticipate.

Story 
James hurried to the school door and rushed outside. The cold, crisp winter air felt good on his face. Winter was his favorite time of year. There were so many fun things to do! The ground was covered with fresh snow—perfect for a snowball fight with his friends. His mom wouldn’t be home from work for two hours, and James was planning to walk home with his two friends, Josh and Bobby.
 
James lived in a small town, and his school was only a half mile from his house. There were many interesting things to see and do between his house and the school. Now he waited under the old oak tree for his friends.      
 
“Hey, James!” yelled his buddies.
 
Josh and Bobby were already packing the soft snow into snowballs. James darted behind the tree and started his own pile of snowballs. The fun began.
 
“Let’s go by the park today.” Josh had run out of snowballs and was ready to
move on.
 
“Yeah, the pond is frozen solid, and I can beat both of you getting across,” Bobby spoke up as they picked up their books and headed in the direction of home.
 
“Well, guys,” James replied, “my mom said the pond looks safe, but sometimes looks can be deceiving. She told me to stay away from the pond.”
 
“I saw the pond this morning, and it looked OK to me,” Bobby replied.
 
“Come on, James,” Josh spoke up. “We can just walk past it. We don’t have to race across it.”
 
James hesitated. He knew what his mom had said, and he wanted to obey her. But just a look wouldn’t hurt anything.
 
“OK!” James began to run. “Last one there is a rotten egg!”
 
When the boys reached the pond, it was a memorable sight. The ice on the top of the pond glistened under the evening sun. It was indeed tempting to skate on its slick surface. In fact, several children had donned their ice skates and were beginning to move out onto the pond.
 
James, Josh, and Bobby watched. They wanted so much to join the others out on the pond, but they all knew James’s mother’s warning must be followed. James, Josh, and Bobby had a choice. They could obey Mrs. Martin or take that dare and race across the pond. Suddenly someone screamed! “The ice is cracking! Get off the ice!” Just then a boy plunged into the cold waters of the pond.
 
“Help!” Everyone wanted to save the boy in the water, but the ice was too dangerous for them to get near him. They could hear the fire-truck siren screaming in the distance, and in just minutes the firefighters were there with their long ladder to rescue the freezing child. The boy was saved. James, Josh, and Bobby bowed their heads for a prayer of thanks.
 
James thanked God for a wise and loving mother and for the firefighters who saved the drowning child. He thought of Jesus, and thanked God for sending His only Son to die so he could be saved, even when he made bad choices.
 
Remember Eve, the first woman and mother of the world? Eve made a bad choice. She decided to have “just a look” at that forbidden tree. Soon Eve was deceived by Satan, who was disguised as a beautiful talking snake. She ate the forbidden fruit and disobeyed God. Yes, Eve had sinned, and because of her disobedience everyone must die. Eventually she and her husband, Adam, had to leave the Garden of Eden. But God forgave her. God gave Eve hope. God gave Eve a promise. He told Eve that He would send Jesus, His beloved Son, to die on earth to save her and all of us who made bad choices. Eve lived many more years expecting the fulfillment of this hope through one of her descendants. Because of this promise to Eve, we also have the hope of seeing Jesus and being in heaven with Him someday.
 
Application
Look at your life and then make a list of bad choices you have made. Not telling the truth? Cheating on a test? Then make a list of victories you have had this week and share that with one another in the group.
 
Discussion
1. Why is it difficult to make good choices?
2. What are the benefits of placing your hope in Jesus in regards to making choices?     
 
Activity
Let’s make a snowflake to hang in your room with the word “HOPE” on one side and the memory text (John 3:16) written on the other side. You can decorate your snowflake with glitter if you would like.
 
Sunday
 
The Messenger
 
Memory Text: “Jesus said, ‘Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust in me. There are many rooms in my Father’s house; I would not tell you this if it were not true. I am going there to prepare a place for you. After I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me so that you may be where I am’” (John 14:1-3, NCV).
 
Motivational Aid
Divide the children into groups of three or four. Provide them with poster-size papers and markers. Ask each group to write down different types of messengers. They could look into history to list messengers of ancient times, such as the Greek messenger who carried the news about military attacks, etc. Tape them all around the room. Then ask the children, “How is carrying messages today different from long ago? Would you rather be a messenger today than be one in ancient times? Why?”
 
Story
Frank was only 12 years old, but he wanted a job. He had so many things he needed, but no money to get them. His parents told him he would have to earn the money in order to get them. So he applied for a position as a newsboy. He would deliver the newspaper each evening and Sunday morning and would earn the money by himself.
 
“Frank, get up!” It was Mom. “You must have your papers delivered by 6:00 a.m. This is Sunday morning.”
 
Frank opened one eye and looked at the clock. Four a.m.! Wow, what an awful time to get up. Then he thought about that new bicycle he wanted and quickly got out of bed and headed for the garage, where he would band his papers and load them onto his old bicycle for delivery.
 
Every evening Frank rushed home from school and delivered his papers before doing his homework. Needless to say, he had no time for sports! It was all worth it, though. He now had a brand-new wallet and his own money to put into it.
 
One day as Frank banded the papers, he started to read some of the stories. To his amazement, most of the stories were BAD NEWS! Frank started thinking. I’m a messenger of BAD NEWS!
 
That thought bothered Frank for several days. He did not like being a messenger of bad news. “I want to be a messenger of GOOD NEWS,” he reasoned. “How can I do that?”
 
Frank remembered seeing his mom make a newspaper called The Good News for the primary Sabbath school. He remembered hearing his mom sing a song that said, “The good news is God made a way.”
 
“That’s it! I’ll put some good news into each newspaper I deliver.”
 
That is exactly what he did. Frank went to the Adventist Book Store with his mom and tried looking for something that told the good news of Jesus. He wanted people to know about Jesus their Savior. Finally, Frank found a small pamphlet that he could insert into each of the papers as he put the rubber band around them. Frank believed in Jesus and hoped for the day when he would see Him. He wanted to share with the people in his neighborhood this wonderful hope.
 
Someone in the Bible was also called to be a messenger of hope to many people. His name was Moses. Can you tell me anything about Moses?
 
Yes! He was hidden in a basket when he was a small baby. He was raised by the Pharaoh’s daughter and became an adopted prince. He saw his people being treated badly and wanted to help them. God called him to become the leader of the Israelites to lead them out of Egypt. He was to lead them to the Promised Land—a land they could call their own.
 
Did Moses get to see the Promised Land? No, he did not, because he got angry and did not follow God’s instruction. But even though Moses did not get to see the Promised Land of Canaan, he did not lose hope in God. After his death God raised him from the grave to be with Him in heaven. His hope was only delayed!
 
Jesus told us He has prepared a place for us and that He will come again to take us to live with Him. Don’t let this hope grow dim.
 
Application
Make a list of things that you can do to be a messenger of hope. Share them with a friend. Then make another list of things you should avoid if you want to bear good news to others.
 
Discussion
1. If God has called you to be a messenger of hope, what preparation do you need?
2. What qualities can you learn from Moses that can help you to be a good messenger?
3. What are some ways you can share this hope with your friends and neighbors just as Frank did?       
 
Activity
Make a “newspaper” with only good news in it. You can entitle the paper HOPE. Write short news clips and draw pictures to illustrate this news.
 
Monday
 
Adopted
 
Memory Text: “Because of his love, God . . . decided to make us his own children through Jesus Christ” (Eph. 1:5, NCV).
 
Motivational Aid
Try to find a picture of a family with adopted children (or an actual family you know). Tell (or ask the family to talk) about their experience. Can anyone tell me what “adopted” means? Yes! It means to be taken voluntarily into another family. Then ask, “How do you feel if a loving family takes you in?”
 
Story
Kathy was playing happily with her neighbor Lei when sounds of sirens went fleeting by.
 
“It must be a fire,” she said casually to Lei.
 
Kathy and Lei were so engrossed in their Barbie dolls that they did not notice that police cars, ambulances, and people were busy at an accident scene. A four-car crash had just taken place at the end of the road, and it was causing a huge traffic jam.
 
Before long, Kathy heard Lei’s mother, Mrs. Wong, calling her urgently:
 
“Kathy, Kathy!” Mrs. Wong called earnestly. “Come quickly. Something terrible has happened to your mom and dad.”
 
Dropping everything, Kathy ran out to the gate to meet Mrs. Wong. Her heart was beating fast, and her hands were growing cold.
 
What could happen to Mom and Dad? Kathy thought solemnly.
 
In a matter of hours Kathy was told that her mom, dad, and brother were all killed in that accident. She cried herself to sleep that night. What would happen to her now? Who would take care of her?
 
After all, she was only 7 years old!
 
Yes, Kathy had become an orphan! But two weeks later Uncle John and Aunt Sarah came to help Kathy pack up.
 
“But where am I going?” asked Kathy, with a curious look in her eye.
 
“We are going to take you home with us, Kathy. You are going to become part of our family. We are going to let you share the room with your cousin Gina. Wouldn’t you like that?” smiled Uncle John.
 
“We are going to adopt you!” Aunt Sarah said excitedly.
 
“Really?” exclaimed Kathy as tears flowed down her cheeks. “You are going to love me like you love Gina?”
 
And so it was that Kathy went to live with Uncle John and Aunt Sarah. They loved her just like their own daughter. She attended the Adventist church school and academy. Everything in this school was strange to Kathy. The way the other students talked and dressed. The way they acted. The school had special classes about the Bible, and everyone attended worship in the morning and went to church on Saturday.
 
Can you guess what happened to Kathy? Yes! Kathy learned to know Jesus! Her life started to change. She became a Seventh-day Adventist Christian.
 
There are many people who do not know Jesus. The Bible mentions Rahab as one. She didn’t know Jesus, but she had heard of Israel’s God. She took the risk to save the two spies from Israel when the king of Jericho wanted to arrest them. The spies brought her the message of hope, and she accepted it. When the walls of Jericho tumbled down, everyone was destroyed. Only Rahab and her family were saved, because she obeyed the spies’ instruction to tie a red thread on her window. She accepted Israel’s God. She was adopted into the family of the Israelites, and Rahab became an ancestor of David, who was an ancestor of Jesus.
 
Application
Make a list of things you can do to help children who have become orphans. Can you visit them, or become a friend to one of them? Perhaps you can pray with them? Can you share your toys and clothes with them? Share this list with your pastor and Sabbath school teacher to see if they could arrange for you to visit an orphanage.
 
Discussion
1. When you are adopted into the family of Jesus, how should you live your life?
2. How do you help orphans want to become adopted by Jesus?
 
Activity
Have children weave strands of red yarn into a long string to remind them that God also cares for those who do not know about Him.
 
Tuesday
 
Released at Last!
 
Memory Text: “You can throw us into the blazing furnace. The God we serve
is able to save us from the furnace and your power. If he does this, it is good” (Dan. 3:17, ICB).†
 
Motivational Aid
Pass out colored strips of paper to the children and ask them to write down some of the trials people have faced in their lives. For example, were they or someone they know ever wrongly accused of something they didn’t do? Do they know of anyone going to prison for believing in Jesus? Have them share their answers. Then ask, “How does it feel when you are wrongly accused and everything seems hopeless?”

Story 
Civil war was raging in the country of Sri Lanka. Two religious groups were fighting and killing each other. Everyone was under suspicion. In fact, no one dared to go out of their house unnecessarily. Even Christians who go to church to worship were under suspicion.
 
One evening young pastor Alex was home preparing his sermon for Sabbath services when there was a loud banging on his door.
 
“Open up!” shouted the people outside his house. “Open up!”
 
Everyone in the house stood together nervously as Pastor Alex opened the door. Several people dressed in police and army uniforms stepped inside. They started to accuse Alex of hiding enemies of the other religious group in his house, and of helping them to escape through the church.
 
“No! No! I didn’t do that,” answered Alex loudly. “It must be a mistake! I am a Christian!”
 
Everything went so fast that before he knew it, Alex was arrested and put into jail in a faraway town. He was away from his family, lying in a damp, dirty prison cell filled with crawling creatures. But Pastor Alex remembered God’s promises to deliver His children. He continued to pray every day, to trust in Jesus, and to share Jesus with the other prisoners. Later he was able to get hold of a Bible to study with the other prisoners.
 
Do you know how long Alex stayed in prison? More than 15 long years! But he never gave up hope that God is in control and will deliver him. He helped many prisoners to become followers of Jesus, and they were baptized in the prison.
 
God did not forget Alex! In the year 2000 Alex was released from prison!
 
Do you remember Daniel? Can you imagine how Daniel felt when he was facing many difficult moments in his life? He was only a young boy when he was taken as prisoner to Babylon. He had to leave his mother and father and go to a foreign land where he didn’t know their language or their customs. Everything seemed hopeless! But Daniel remained faithful to Jesus. He did not forget what his parents had taught him. He did not forget to honor God in his daily life, including the food he ate. Eventually Daniel and his three friends were found to be the wisest in Babylon. God gave him wisdom to interpret the dream of King Nebuchadnezzar. He was promoted to become a minister under this powerful king for many years.
 
Once more, when he was wrongly accused and thrown into the lions’ den, Daniel could say firmly, “My God sent his angel to close the lions’ mouths. They have not hurt me, because my God knows I am innocent. I never did anything wrong to you, my king” (Dan. 6:22, ICB).
 
Daniel lived to an old age, serving three kings. His endurance and trust in God eventually defeated his evil enemies, and Daniel was placed in the highest position of Babylon.
 
Application
Make a list of names of people who are facing trials now, and pray for each one of them. Maybe some are in prison for their faith. Perhaps an uncle couldn’t find a job because he refused to work on Sabbath. Maybe a friend is dying of cancer. Practice praying two to three times a day.
 
Discussion
1. Why is it important to keep a trusting spirit in difficult times?
2. In what way can a person under trials and difficulties remain faithful to God?
3. If you were misjudged or wrongly accused, how would you handle the situation?
 
Activity
Write a prayer journal with names of friends who are going through difficulties, and pray for them. Send a card to tell someone in trouble that you are praying for them. Cut out a heart from red paper, and put a text of hope on one side and the picture of Jesus on the other.
 
Wednesday
 
Mary’s Hope
 
Memory Text: “She will give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins” (Matt. 1:21, NCV).
 
Motivational Aid
Bring a bassinet filled with things needed for babies. Ask the children to identify them and discuss what each item is used for. Talk about the excitement of having a new baby brother or sister. “What preparation did your mom make before having the baby?”
 
Story
(Parents and Teachers—Read Luke 2:1-16 and Luke 1:26-35 before presenting today’s reading.)
 
How many of you have a baby in your house? Babies are special, aren’t they? Once a year the world focuses on a very special baby. Can anyone tell me who that baby is? Yes! It’s the Baby Jesus. Today, we want to focus on Baby Jesus’ mother, Mary. The Bible tells us that Gabriel, an angel from God, was sent to tell Mary she would have Baby Jesus (Luke 1:26-35). Mary wasn’t married, and this would be her first baby. Do you think she was afraid? I think she was surprised and afraid. The angel told Mary not to fear—she was chosen by God, and her baby would be very special. The angel told Mary to name the baby “Jesus.” Do you know what answer Mary gave to the angel? Yes! She said she was the servant of God and would do everything the angel told her to do.
 
Mary was so happy to be chosen to serve God and have a special little baby named Jesus. Luke 1:46-55 says that Mary was so happy she praised God aloud for everyone to hear. Do you know why Mary was so excited?
 
Because she knew Jesus was going to be the Savior of the world. God had chosen her to take care of the One who would save us all from the evil one, Satan.
 
Mary did all God asked her to do. She took very special care of little Jesus and taught Him to love and honor God and love those around Him. She watched Him grow to be a man, and she let Him go as He went about His mission to teach and heal those around Him. Mary was always aware of who Jesus was and what His mission was on this earth.
 
Boys and girls, there are many stories in the Bible about Jesus’ life on this earth. Can anyone tell me what happened to Jesus? (Let children answer.) Yes, wicked men killed Jesus and hung Him on the cross to die. How do you think Mary felt? Her heart was broken. Even though Mary knew Jesus had come here to save the world from the evil one, her heart was still broken. Mary was still the mother of Jesus. But she believed God’s promises, and she knew God was stronger than Satan.
 
Did Jesus stay dead? No! Jesus arose from the tomb, and when He did, He sealed the hope of heaven for all of us who believe in Him. Mary, His mother, must have sung with joy when she learned that her Son, Jesus, had overcome the evil one who causes death.
 
Jesus’ love for us is hope! Jesus waits for us in heaven, where He is the King of all heaven and earth.
 
Application
Write down three things you could say to a friend or neighbor about your hope in Jesus. Maybe you want to tell about His love for everyone? Or that He is coming again? Find the time to call on those friends.
 
Discussion
1. Is there any other way that God could save us without letting Jesus die?
2. What does the resurrection of Jesus mean to us?
 
Activity
Let each child make a simple cross as a bookmark to carry in their Bible. Ask them to print the words “HOPE” horizontally and “LOVE” vertically on their cross.
 
Thursday
 
Paul: Changed Inside Out!
 
Memory Text: “If anyone belongs to Christ, then he is made new. The old things have gone; everything is made new!” (2 Cor. 5:17, ICB).
 
Motivational Aid
Show some newspaper clippings of two convicted teenagers. Have children identify the bad things they have done. Then ask children to write down several ways they could help these convicted teens change their bad ways. Who can help?
 
Story
Osman was looking forward to attending Ridgewood High School. He had moved from a small country school to the city where his dad had found a new job. The city was always better. At least that’s what Osman thought. Life in the city would be more interesting with lots of fun things to do.
He made many friends at Ridgewood High, and they introduced him to many exciting things he had never seen or ever tried. Of course, the parties were great, and he even tried some beer. He was growing up, all right!
One afternoon as he was packing up his bag to go home, his buddy Hosni called out.
 
“Hey, Oss, do you want to do something different tonight?” Hosni asked invitingly.
 
“What would that be?” Osman replied with a look of curiosity.
 
“Come and see for yourself—just meet at the same old place,” reminded Hosni as he dashed out of the door.
 
That night the five “musketeers,” as they called themselves, got together to try a very harmful drug called “speed.” They thought at first it was exciting and fun. Many more nights were spent in trying other drugs that were passed on to them.
 
After six months Osman got so hooked on these drugs that he started stealing his parents’ money to buy them from drug peddlers around the school. Soon, his school grades were dropping day by day, and he was beginning to skip classes several times a week. Osman and Hosni were put on probation. One night the two boys even robbed a 7-Eleven store and got away with hundreds of dollars.
 
Crime does not pay. Soon they were arrested and charged in court. They were sent to a juvenile detention center for special help. It was there that they met Gerry, a Christian counselor, who introduced them to Jesus. Only Jesus could help them change their sinful ways. They had lots of time to read inspirational books and study the Bible.
 
One year later the joyous day came when Osman gave his life to Jesus. He knew it wouldn’t be easy, but he believed that “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Phil. 4:13, NKJV).‡ Indeed, Osman felt like a new man. He was changed inside out!
 
Similarly, when Saul met Jesus on the road to Dasmascus, he surrendered his life to Him. He became Paul the apostle. Instead of persecuting the Christians, Paul became a changed man when he gave his life to Jesus. Paul found the hope in Jesus Christ exciting, and it changed his mission and his goal for life. He was no longer thinking of selfish ambition. He had no concern for fame and popularity among friends.
 
Mind you, many Christians in the church were suspicious of Paul at first. Was he really truly sorry for his sins? Maybe it was a trick to get more Christians killed. But as Paul committed himself to working with the other apostles and believers for several years, they finally believed that his conversion was genuine. He was on fire for Jesus Christ, taking several missionary trips to Asia Minor to preach this hope of salvation.
 
Paul suffered lots of hardship for Jesus, but he did not mind. Instead, he continued to encourage Christians everywhere to “carry each other’s burdens” (Gal. 6:2), to unite as one in Christ Jesus. Paul’s life and ministry lifted up the hope that “now Christ is risen from the dead” (1 Cor. 15:20, NKJV), and that we are to “press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called . . . [us] heavenward in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 3:14).
 
Application
Volunteer to give a testimony in the church or Sabbath school class on how Jesus changed your life after you made the choice to follow Him. Share with a friend in school the joy and hope of believing in Jesus.
 
Discussion
1. If you become changed in Jesus, does it mean you won’t get into trouble anymore?
2. Suppose someone said to you, “I have tried many times to stop smoking but have had no success,” what would you say? How can you help them find the hope in Jesus?
 
Activity
Ask your mom or Sabbath school teacher to help you plan a party for a friend who has accepted Jesus. Decorate the room with your drawings and cutouts. Have lots of food. Invite them to tell one change that Jesus helped them to make in their life after they accepted Him.
 
Friday
 
John’s Hope
 
Memory Text: “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth. . . . And I saw the holy city . . . coming down out of heaven from God” (Rev. 21:1, 2, NCV).
 
Motivational Aid
Show pictures of children with handicaps. Have children identify the various types of handicaps: Hearing loss. Blindness. Speech loss. Then ask, “How would you feel if you had a physical handicap? How would you deal with it at school and in public places?
 
Story
Bryan sat in his wheelchair near the west window. The warm sunlight made tracks across his lap. It was cold outside, but Bryan was warm with the sun and the lap quilt his aunt Louise had given him. He liked to sit at the window and watch the schoolchildren load onto the buses after school.
 
All was quiet in the house. Bryan was alone. Both Mom and Dad worked outside the home, and his older sister had not gotten home from her school. Bryan was 10 years old and could take good care of himself for most of the time. He had learned to operate his motorized wheelchair, and the house was built so he could go just about anywhere he wanted. He had a schoolteacher after lunch from 1:00-3:00 p.m. every day during the school year. Although Bryan’s legs were crooked with polio, his mind was bright and he was a quick learner. His family did not live near a church school, and his parents did not want Bryan to attend the public school in their city. They had hopes of getting Bryan and his sister into church school and were working out the transportation problem. But in the meantime it could get lonely at home.
 
Although Bryan could not walk, he loved God. He accepted his disability without questioning God. Bryan trusted God and knew that He would use him and his disability as a witness to everyone around him. Bryan also knew he would go to heaven to live with God and Jesus someday. When he did, he knew he would run like the wind and chase the lion cubs as they played with him. Bryan kept in his heart this hope that we all have: Jesus died to save us and will take us to live with Him in heaven.
 
Remember John the Beloved, one of Jesus’ disciples? He was also alone on the island of Patmos. He was sent there for preaching the hope of salvation. But John was not discouraged, for Jesus appeared to him to strengthen his hope in Him and in the church. He was given many visions about the second coming of Jesus, the new heaven and new earth, where “[God] will wipe away every tear from their eyes. . . . There will be no more death, sadness, crying, or pain. . . . All the old ways are gone” (Rev. 21:4, NCV).
 
The apostle John was greatly comforted as he recorded all these beautiful messages that Jesus gave him. We can be assured that this hope of meeting Jesus again in the new earth will soon be realized.
 
Application
Ask your mom to take you to visit a children’s hospital. Talk to different children about the hope of Jesus’ coming and heaven. If possible, give them a CD with Bible stories and encourage them to listen.
 
Discussion
1. What would you say to another child if they asked, “If there is a God, why didn’t He help me to see?”
2. How can you develop a positive attitude and be cheerful?
3. What is one thing you’ll like to do when you get to heaven?
 
Activity
Have the children draw a picture of today’s story. Let the children share their pictures with you, then place the pictures on the wall. Also, have them cut a heart from paper and write “God Is Love” on one side and “I Love God” on the other.
 
Second Sabbath
 
Jesus: Our Living Hope
 
Memory Text: “Jesus said, ‘Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust in me. There are many rooms in my Father’s house; I would not tell you this if it were not true. I am going there to prepare a place for you. After I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me so that you may be where I am’” (John 14:1-3, NCV).
 
Motivational Aid
Hide some “goodies” ahead of time. Then give the children two minutes to search for those things. When time is up, get together and talk about their finds. Did everyone find at least one thing? Then ask, “Did you have an easy time in your search? How did you feel when you were searching for the goodies and couldn’t find any? How serious were you in searching?”
 
Story 
“‘My J-E-S-U-S. The name I love the best! He died for me, He arose again, my J-E-S-U-S!’” You could hear the children in the primary class singing their hearts out.
 
Robert Lang hurried past the Sabbath school door. He was visiting the church for the first time. He vaguely remembered hearing about Jesus many years ago. Now his life was a mess, and he was looking for something to help make his life better. He was invited many times to visit the Seventh-day Adventist church near his home, but had not responded until today. He followed the usher to a special class for adult visitors. He was a little afraid, but he had come this far and couldn’t turn back now.
 
“Come in!” The jovial woman speaking to him must be the teacher. “We are so glad you’ve joined us!” She handed him a Bible and a small booklet the class members were apparently talking about. “My name is Clare Ricks. We are studying from Matthew, chapter 1, beginning with verse 18. You will find it on page 985. We are studying the life of Jesus and are beginning with His birth.”
 
Ms. Ricks handed Robert a small card and asked him to provide them his name, address, and telephone number. He sat next to a man about his own age and settled back to listen. He had no intention of letting anyone know why he was here, and waited to see what others were saying. He found page 985 and began reading. Memories flooded his mind. He remembered his childhood and the Bible stories his mother had taught him. He remembered going to church with his mom and dad, and he remembered attending Vacation Bible School. How had he gotten so far from the things he had been taught during his childhood?
 
Robert took the Bible Ms. Ricks offered him when he left the class. He stayed for the preaching service, and on his way out, there was Ms. Ricks again. “Robert?” she touched him on the arm. “Will you join us for a delicious meal prepared for our visitors?” He hesitated. “Well . . .” Ms. Ricks interrupted. “You are welcome! Come; let me introduce you to Charles and Lisa.”
 
Soon, “going to church” became a part of Robert Lang’s life again. He enjoyed the new friends he made. He liked the pastor and the sermons he heard each week. He was especially fond of Ms. Ricks, who seemed to be such a warm and friendly person. He liked the music that was so calming and encouraging to him. But the thing he enjoyed the most was hearing, studying, and learning about Jesus, his Savior and best Friend.
 
When the primary Sabbath school teacher asked for volunteers to help with the children’s Easter pageant, Robert answered the call. He was talented in painting. He helped build the backdrops, and would often stay to watch the children rehearse the Easter story. The most intriguing part for Robert was when Jesus came out of the tomb and the children’s choir sang about His victory over death. Robert had studied about the crucifixion and burial of Jesus, but he had not been moved until now, when he realized that Jesus died for him. It didn’t matter what kind of life he had lived, Jesus still loved him the same. Robert’s eyes filled with tears each time the children sang. His heart filled with hope, knowing that Jesus had prepared a place in heaven for him.
 
On the day of the Easter pageant Robert sat near the back. He could see and hear the children but did not want others to see his emotion. His heart filled with joy for Jesus, his Savior. Robert knew God had forgiven him for his sins because Jesus had died for him. And, because of that death, Robert knew God would always forgive him when he asked. That was God’s gift to him!
 
Robert stood and walked to the front when the pastor asked if anyone wanted to give their heart to Jesus. His heart was filled with love, peace, and hope. He had found the “something” he was looking for in his life.
 
Yes, Jesus died for each of us. His life was without sin of any kind. He gladly came as a tiny baby and lived here as we do. He is coming back to this earth soon to take all who love Him to live with Him in heaven.
 
Jesus is our living hope! Would you like to give your heart to Him today?
 
Application
Write your name on the decision card indicating that you want to follow Jesus, who gives you hope. Sing together the song “I Have Decided to Follow Jesus.” Let your parents and
the pastor know that you want to be baptized and be Jesus’ child.
 
Discussion
1. If we continue to live a sinful life, how can we make a turnaround to respond to Jesus?
2. If you find joy and peace in Jesus as the living hope, how can you intentionally get others to learn about this hope?
 
Activity
Learn and sing the song “Soon and Very Soon,” in He Is Our Song, No. 121. Ask your Sabbath school teacher if you can share it with the rest of the children in your class.
 
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*Scriptures credited to NCV are quoted from The Holy Bible, New Century Version, copyright © 1987, 1988, 1991 by Word Publishing, Dallas, Texas 75039. Used by permission.
†Scriptures credited to ICB are quoted from the International Children’s Bible, New Century Version, copyright © 1983, 1986, 1988 by Word Publishing, Dallas, Texas 75039. Used by
permission.
‡Texts credited to NKJV are from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1979, 1980, 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
 
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Margaret Taglavore is Children’s Ministries director of the Southwestern Union Conference in Texas, U.S.A. Prior to working in the union, she served as Children’s Ministries director of the Texas Conference.


 
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