God loves me
[The theme of ‘God loves’ is not as simple as it seems. Does God love sinners? If so, does that mean he accepts them? What sort of love is it? How do Jesus and faith fit it? And how does all this relate to young children? To read more discussion about these issues, please read the God loves? page.]
Here are some ideas for each page of the book:
1. God made me and he loves me. He loved me when I was a little baby. He even loved me before I was born.
- If your child hasn’t read the previous books in this series, it’s worth taking time to talk about the fact that God made them. God made their hands, feet, arms, legs, eyes, ears… God made every part of them.
- In the Bible, Psalm 139:13 says “You (God) created every part of me; you put me together in my mother’s womb.” So God made them and God loved them before they were born.
- This is something that the really little ones will not understand yet (you might read only the first sentence on this page to them). But it’s worth helping your child as they grow up, to know that God made them and loved them before they were born.
2 & 3. God loves me as I grow bigger… and bigger. He never stops loving me.
- For those of you with really little ones, you can point to the baby that best represents where they are up to. Say something like, “You can
stand just like that baby. And once you were very, very small just like that baby (point to baby on far left). And God loves you as you are getting bigger
- Over time, as they grow both physically and in their understanding, we want our children to know that ‘God never stops loving me’.
- You could play a game where your child pretends to be the various ages and stages of this baby (and/or themselves). This will help them to better
understand how God has helped them grow.
4. God loves me when I’m playing.
- Why “when I’m playing”? Well, it’s something that little ones do often and they do well.
- “when I’m playing” is also a way of helping them begin to think about different times in the day or different places.
- Over the next few pages we are talking about different activities and different times in the day, and being quite specific.
- We will also move from such specifics to the more general, “God loves me all the time!”
- You can talk here about all the things that your child likes to do when they are playing. Ask questions about the girl in the photo: “What is
she playing with? Where is she going to go?” And then ask your child: “What do you like playing? Where do you like playing?”
5. God loves me when I’m with my friends.
- This is a page for a bit of a laugh. I know the individual babies are quite small (given the size of the book) but there are some funny ones.
- The really little ones will relate to the babies in the photo.
- You can talk with older ones about their friends, their names and what they like to do with their friends.
- You could also mention that God loves their friends too (more is said about this in the book ‘God loves’).
- Ask “what colours can you see?”
6. God loves me when I’m asleep.
- Little ones spend lots of time asleep (hopefully!), so here’s something they can relate to.
- If you want to look at a photo of a really little one sleeping, you can turn to the first page of the book.
- So even when ‘I’m asleep’ and it’s ‘night’ and it’s ‘dark’, God still loves me. God
doesn’t stop loving me if I’m asleep.
- You could also explain that God doesn’t sleep.
7. And God loves me when I’m awake. God loves me all day and all night.
- Here we are being both specific and broad, covering the whole day and night.
- We’re again working towards the more general statement that ‘God loves me all the time.’
- God keeps loving me all through the day and night.
- Ask your child “What do you do at night? After you wake up?”… and eventually you could talk about ‘morning’ and
8. God loves me all the time!
- After all the preceding specifics, here we have the ‘general’ statement, “God loves me all the time.” You could use this
page as a springboard to talking about specifics in each day that are relevant to your child.
- As children grow we want them to grow in their understanding of God’s love. They need to learn that we can’t assume on God’s love
regardless of how we live (i.e. when they are older, if they live in total rejection of Christ, then there are consequences). So children need to learn
that God’s love is something to be greatly thankful for and appreciate (not disregard). We want them to grow up treasuring God’s love.
- So the sentence on this page has an exclamation mark and the child in the photo looks happy!
9. God loves me wherever I am.
- Here’s the second generalization. It’s not just ‘all the time’ throughout the day and night. But it’s also
‘wherever’ we are.
- You can talk in specifics about places that your child goes to.
- We can’t go away from God’s love by going to a different place or moving to a different country, for instance.
- In all the changes of life, God’s love is a constant. However, as children grow, they need to grow in their understanding of the character of
10. God loves me when I’m happy.
- Yes, God loves me when I’m happy, but note the next page (it’s not just when I’m happy, or when I’m in a good mood). I
don’t need to be happy for God to love me. So don’t give your child this impression when reading this page.
- As it’s the same child on the facing pages (the happy and the sad) it helps support the idea that God loves us when are happy and when we are
sad. God continues to love us.
- An extension of this page is that we can be happy because God loves us.
- God’s love is the great foundation for joy in the Christian life (which isn’t a constant state of happiness but a deep rooted joy in
our loving heavenly Father even in the midst of the turmoils of life).
11. God loves me when I’m sad. God always loves me.
- We’re trying to communicate that God loves us however we are feeling. Sometimes, when we are feeling ‘sad’ we can think that
people might stop loving us. This isn’t the case with God.
- When children are sad, it can be a comfort to know that God loves us and we can talk to him. We can pray a simple prayer like, “Dear God.
I’m feeling sad. Thank you that you love me. Amen.” Or we could add, for an older one, “Please help me.”
- A child can also learn to pray for others when they are sad, for example, “Dear God. Aunty Abby is sad. Please help her. Please help her to
know that you love her. Amen.”
12. God’s book, the Bible, says that God showed us he loves us by sending Jesus. Thank you God for Jesus!
- The Bible defines God’s love. Throughout the Bible we learn more and more of the nature of God’s love. God sending Jesus is the supreme
act of his love for us.
- ‘God showed us he loves us by sending Jesus’ is a similar statement to one made in ‘God loves’. You might like to read the
notes for that book on the two page spread with the verse John 3:16.
- The fact that ‘the Bible says’ it means that it is true. This isn’t a make believe fairy tale.
- We want our children to thank God for Jesus.
13. 1 John 4 verse 9, “And God showed his love for us by sending his only Son into the world.” The name of God’s Son is
- Here we have a specific verse that tells us that the way God showed his love for us is by sending Jesus.
- Young children may not be able to grasp the full meaning of this verse, so at first we want them to hear that God’s love and Jesus are connected. We
want them to equate Jesus with God’s love. You want your child to see that when you read the last few pages of this book, you are reading ‘good
news’—something to be really thankful for.
- For little ones it’s about hearing the verse time and time again.
- For older ones it’s about developing a growing understanding of the verse and an appropriate response to it.
- Here are a few tips for explaining:
- ‘God showed his love’—you can talk about how you ‘show your love’. We can’t see God so we can’t
‘see’ him showing his love in the same ways a parent’s love can ‘be seen’. But we can ‘see’ God’s love for
us when we read about Jesus in the Bible. People who lived at the same time as Jesus was on earth could ‘see’ what Jesus did and how he
‘showed’ us God’s love. Some of them ‘wrote’ about Jesus and so we can learn from what they saw.
- ‘by sending’—Jesus was with God in heaven. God ‘sent’ him to our ‘world’. He was born as a baby and grew
up to be a man while he was on earth. (This is something children will take time to understand.)
- ‘his only Son’—When parents have a child that is a boy, he is called their ‘son’. God had one ‘Son’. So
Jesus is called his ‘only Son’. (For children who can read, when we write ‘God’s Son’ we write son like ‘Son’
because of how important Jesus is and because in the Bible it is also a title for God’s king.)
- ‘into the world’—‘world’ is a bit of a tricky concept for young children. If we show them a globe and say
“that’s the world” it’s not necessarily going to help. Imagine how much you need to understand in order for a globe of the world to
make sense. The same is true for a map of the world. As a child meets different people who come from different countries, as a child realizes there’s
more than just where they live, as a child gets the idea of planes going to lots of different far away places, and as a child gets the idea of the
‘country’ where they live and other countries ‘in the world’, gradually a child will grow in their understanding of ‘the
world’. So it’s a ‘concept’ they will gradually understand. (As they will eventually understand that all the different countries in
the world can be shown on a map or a globe.)
- Why did God send Jesus? How does it show God’s love for us? That’s a big question! I have written a whole one year syllabus for 5-8
year olds that attempts to answer that question. It takes time to explain, time to understand and especially for ‘little’ ones.
- In the notes for ‘God knows me’ I explain the importance of children realizing that “God knows what I do and what I
say”—everything, all the time. We can’t hide from God. So God sees when we disobey, when we are unkind, when we are naughty. This is a
step towards children realizing that they ‘sin’. They are not always ‘good’. They don’t always do ‘good’ things.
They don’t always say ‘good’ things.
- God is good. God is always good. Our bad sin means we can’t be friends with a good God. We deserve to be punished for our sin (just like
children deserve to be punished when they are naughty, do wrong things, disobey, hurt others).
- God sent Jesus to take that punishment for us. Instead of us being punished (which we deserve), Jesus (who is always good and never does anything
wrong) was punished. So Jesus died.
- It sounds like sad news. But the good news is that Jesus didn’t stay dead. He came back to life and is living with God in heaven where
everything is always good—no sin, no sadness, no grumpiness, no tears. So God showed his love (how much he loves us) by sending Jesus so that we too
can live with God forever in heaven.
- While we live in the world there will be sadness and tears and hurting. God sent Jesus as a gift. Those who believe that Jesus is God’s son,
who trust in him, will be given that gift.
- Over time, you will be able to read further in 1 John 4:10, “This is what love is: it is not that we have loved God, but that he loved us and
sent his Son to be the means by which our sins are forgiven.” This is what you want to progress to in helping your child learn about God’s love
shown in Jesus. And love is not about what we have done but about what God has done. So as children get older you can talk more about
what these verses mean. Why is sending Jesus a loving thing to do? God sent Jesus to die. But Jesus died “to be the means by which [the way] our sins
are forgiven”. Jesus died so that we could be forgiven and be friends with God. Did Jesus stay dead? No. He came back to life again! He’s still
alive today. And he can give us ‘life’ forever with him (see the last part of 1 John 4:9).
14. Thank you God that you love me lots and lots!
- In children’s words, God loves us ‘lots and lots’. You might have a different word that your child understands to mean the
equivalent of ‘lots and lots’. You can do an action like the girl in the photo, somehow illustrating that God’s love is deserving of a
big, BIG thank you.
- We want to model to our children a sense of thankfulness for God’s love—the constancy of his love, the enormity of his love—and
thankfulness for God’s love shown in Jesus. When you pray with your child, remember to thank God for his love and for sending Jesus. “Thank you
God for Jesus.”
- Your prayer need only be very short. You (or your child) could say, “Thank you God that you love me (or your child’s name, depending
who’s speaking)”. Also pray “Thank you God for Jesus.”
- A fitting way to end the book is in thankfulness for God loving us ‘lots and lots’ But our thankfulness will hopefully spill over into
the whole of life.
Making your own ‘God loves me’ book
It would be great to make your own ‘God loves me’ book specially for your child. It in you could include photos or drawings of your child doing
things throughout the day, at different places in the day, at different times in the day. Add to this a simple text about God loving them throughout the
day. You could also include photos of when your child was younger, especially a tiny baby, and how God has always loved them.
Pictures to hang
You could paste on coloured cardboard (as a frame) a photo or drawing of your child with the caption ‘God loves me’.
Write your own song. Here’s one I wrote…
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