Keys for Kids Devotional Feed

Guest of Honor

Bible Reading: Luke 2:4-1

"We're still at the mall, Mom," Soren said, frustrated. "The car won't start, and a guy from a garage across the street is working on it now. Dad says we'll be there as soon as we can, but it'll be a while. He said to tell you the show must go on, whatever that means."

Mom knew what Dad meant. He was talking about the surprise birthday party they had planned for Soren. Dad had taken Soren shopping just to get him out of the house. The guests were in the living room now, waiting for him to come home. Mom knew Dad was telling her to go ahead with the games and food.

An hour later, Soren burst into the house. "Mom," he called, "we're home. You'll never guess--"

"Surprise! Surprise!" his friends shouted, interrupting him. Soren was surprised!

"About time you got here," said Patrick, one of the guests. "We were about ready to give your birthday presents to somebody else."

"Nuh-uh! They're Soren's," protested Soren's sister, Penny. She slipped her little hand into her big brother's. "It's his birfday."

"It's okay, Penny. We wouldn't give his gifts to anyone else," Patrick assured her. He handed a present to Soren. "Here, open mine first."

"Glad you finally made it, Soren" said another friend after Soren had opened all his gifts. "Your birthday party just wasn't right without you."

After all his guests were gone, Soren sat down to eat a piece of his birthday cake. "I wish I hadn't missed the games, but at least the car was fixed in time for me to see everyone and open my presents."

"I'm glad too," said Mom. "As Penny says, it's your 'birfday,' and a birthday celebration without the guest of honor--the birthday person--just isn't worth much."

"Happy birfday, Soren," Penny said, grinning. She pointed to the nativity set on a nearby table. "And happy birfday, Jesus!"

Mom laughed. "Thanks for the reminder, Penny. With everything going on this time of year, it can easy for us to forget that we celebrate Jesus's birthday at Christmas and how He became human so He could save us from sin. Let's make sure He's our guest of honor at Christmas and celebrate the wonderful gift of His birth."

-Hazel W. Marett

How About You?
Is Jesus the guest of honor in your Christmas celebration? Without Him, there would be no Christmas. In all the excitement of gifts, parties, and other Christmas events, don't forget Jesus. As you go about your holiday activities, celebrate the gift of His birth. Jesus is God, but He became human so we could be saved through His death and resurrection. Now that's something to celebrate each and every Christmas!

Today's Key Verse:
For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. (NKJV) (Luke 2:11)

Today's Key Thought:
Christmas honors Jesus's birthday

Time to Learn

Bible Reading: 1 Corinthians 3:1; Galatians 5:22-6:2

"Mom," Jade said as she helped put food away after dinner one evening, "I'm confused."

"About what?" Mom asked.

"Well, Alice acts like she's better than some kids at school, and she says mean things to them. She told me she trusted Jesus as her Savior recently, but if she really did, she should be nicer. We've been studying the fruit of the Spirit in church, but she acts like she never heard of it."

As Jade loaded the dishwasher, her grey kitten jumped up on the counter, causing a big mess. "Coco! Get down!" Jade scolded, and Coco jumped down and walked calmly away. "Now I have to clean up this mess! Sometimes I wish I didn't even have a cat. She can be such a pain!" grumbled Jade as she wiped the counter.

"Do you want to give Coco away?" Mom asked.

Jade shook her head. She picked up Coco and stroked her soft fur. "I can't expect you to know everything you need to yet. You're still a baby, and I'm not going to give up on you and give you away," she told her.

"That's right," Mom said. "You need to train her and teach her how to behave. Most of all, you have to be patient with her." Mom paused. "And I'm sure you don't really want to give Alice away either."

Jade looked puzzled. "Give Alice away? What do you mean?"

"I mean you don't want to give up on her. She's a baby too--what the Bible calls an 'infant in Christ.' She needs time to learn lessons from God's Word and for the Holy Spirit to work that knowledge out in her life. He's helping all of us learn and grow in our relationship with Jesus and shaping us to be more like Him. So be patient with Alice and help her learn those things, the way God is patient with us."

"But how can I help her learn?" asked Jade.

"Be a good friend and teach her by your example," said Mom. "Invite her to programs at church like Bible club so she can learn more about Jesus and meet other Christian kids."

Jade grinned. "Okay. I'll talk to her tomorrow."

-Vicki L. Reinhardt

How About You?
Are you patient with new Christians? Keep in mind that the Holy Spirit is still working in your life, just as He is in theirs, and that one characteristic of the fruit of the Spirit is patience. Instead of criticizing new believers, trust God to help you be patient with them as they grow in their faith. Help them learn more about Jesus and the Bible, teach them through your own example, and introduce them to other Christian kids. Remember that you are also growing in the Lord along with them.

Today's Key Verse:
The fruit that the Spirit produces in a person's life is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. (ERV) (Galatians 5:22-23)

Today's Key Thought:
Be patient with new Christians

A New Tradition

Bible Reading: Psalm 30:10-12

Clunk, clunk, clunk! Olivia slammed her fists on the piano keys, tears stinging her eyes.

Dad put down the evergreen wreath he had been about to hang and hurried to Olivia's side. "What's wrong, Liv? Your piano playing was so beautiful. You know that 'Deck the Halls' is my favorite Christmas carol." He cleared his throat, preparing to sing, but Olivia stopped him.

"No, Dad. I don't want to play this year. Christmas is all wrong."

Dad's expression turned sad. "You're right. Without your mom, Christmas is not the same."

Olivia wiped away a tear and pointed toward the kitchen. "Mom always made homemade snickerdoodles this time of year. It's tradition that we bring snickerdoodles to the nursing home and give them to the residents. Nothing feels right this year without Mom."

Dad nodded slowly. "I wish I could have made snickerdoodles, but I couldn't find your mom's recipe. I know it was one of your favorite traditions." His voice cracked slightly. "I'm sorry, Liv."

Olivia looked at her dad and for the first time realized how difficult this Christmas must be for him too. She closed her eyes and said a silent prayer for both of them. Jesus, I know You understand what we're going through because you experienced sadness too when you came and died to save us, she prayed. Please help us through this. When she opened her eyes, her gaze fell on the piano music in front of her. Suddenly, she had an idea. "Dad, what if this year we start a new tradition?"

"What do you have in mind?"

Olivia placed her hands on the piano keys and played the opening chords of "Deck the Halls." Instinctively, her dad started singing along. "Deck the halls with boughs of holly, fa-la-la-la-la, la-la-la-la."

Olivia stopped playing. "See? Neither of us can cook like Mom, but I can play the piano and you can sing. The nursing home has a piano. What if we go there tonight and sing Christmas carols with the residents? I bet it would make their Christmas really special."

Dad's grin said it all. "That's a great idea, Liv. This will be a wonderful new tradition."

Olivia smiled. "A tradition that would make Mom happy."

-Amanda Spino

How About You?
Have you ever felt so sad that you wondered if you would ever be happy again? The Bible promises that at these times, Jesus is very close to you. He knows what sadness feels like, and He wants to mourn with you, comfort you, and help you feel the peace and joy that come from knowing Him. Next time you feel sad, go to Him so He can turn your mourning into dancing.

Today's Key Verse:
The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. (NIV) (Psalm 34:18)

Today's Key Thought:
Turn mourning into dancing

Ordinary, But Important

Bible Reading: 1 Corinthians 12:18-22, 27-31

"I wish I could have a singing or acting part in the Christmas play," Angelica said. "It would be nice to be important for a change, instead of just pressing costumes."

"Angelica, you are important," Mom said as she sliced potatoes for dinner.

"Want me to set the table?" offered Angelica, walking over to the cupboard. "Can we use the good crystal goblets tonight? They're so pretty!"

"Sure," said Mom. "But how about taking these cookies over to Mrs. Ashe? She doesn't get many visitors, so it'd be nice if you could stay and talk with her for a while."

When Angelica returned home, her family was just sitting down to eat. As she slipped into her chair, she saw crystal goblets at each place, but no plates. "Let's thank God for our food," said Dad, so Angelica quickly closed her eyes.

When Dad said "Amen," Mom picked up the casserole dish and handed it to Angelica. "Help yourself," said Mom.

Angelica held the dish uncertainly. "Why don't we have plates?" She looked at her little brother and sister. "I bet you guys set the table."

"No, I did," said Mom. "The goblets are very pretty, so why not just use them? Plates would look so ordinary next to the goblets." Dad's eyes twinkled, and Angelica's little brother and sister stifled giggles.

"But we can't use them for this kind of food!" Angelica protested.

"You're right. We need different dishes for different foods," said Mom. "Dishes aren't all alike because each has a different purpose. It's that way in God's kingdom too. He uses people for different purposes--some to sing, some to preach, some to visit elderly people, and…"

"And some to press costumes, right?" Angelica said, smirking.

Mom nodded. "That's another way He uses some of us. Some jobs appear to be more glamorous to us than others, but each is as important as the next. Each one of us is special to Jesus, and He's given us different abilities and tasks so we can all serve Him together and help more people know about Him."

"Okay, I get the point," Angelica said. "Ordinary plates are very important. I'll get them." She grinned. "And after dinner, I have some very important costumes to press!"

-Hazel W. Marett

How About You?
Do you realize that everything you do for Jesus is important? Today's Bible reading points out that just like each part of your physical body is important, each member of the body of Christ--every Christian--is important too. Don't make the mistake of thinking that what someone else does or even what you do is more important than some other job. As we serve Jesus together, He will use every task done for Him to accomplish His purpose.

Today's Key Verse:
Whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. (NKJV) (1 Corinthians 10:31)

Today's Key Thought:
Whatever you do is important

Drop the Oars

Bible Reading: Luke 18:9-14

"Colton can't come over this afternoon," said Travis. "He has to go with his mom door-to-door to pass out church fliers and stuff."

"Really?" Dad was interested. "Are Colton and his family Christians?"

"I don't think so. They talk about faith in Jesus, but they don't believe He's God. That doesn't make sense to me. They seem to think they have to do a lot of good things to be saved--like handing out church fliers. I don't understand it. I don't think Colton does either, but he does whatever he's told. Says it can't hurt."

"It sounds to me like he needs to drop the oars and grab the rope," Dad said.

"What do you mean?" asked Travis.

"There's a river with a big waterfall near the town where I grew up," said Dad. "Just above the falls, the water is very wild and dangerous. It's unsafe for boating, and I remember one time when a teenager in a rowboat got caught in the swift current." Dad paused, remembering.

"So what happened?" asked Travis.

"The strong current pulled him closer and closer to the falls. A crowd gathered on the bank, and people called to him to row harder. He tried his best, but it was obvious he wasn't going to make it. Then someone threw a rope to him. What do you think the crowd called out to him then?"

"Uh, they probably told him to grab the rope," said Travis.

Dad nodded. "They yelled, 'Drop the oars! Grab the rope!' He did, and they pulled him to shore." Dad paused, still seeing the scene in his mind.

"Why does Colton remind you of that?" asked Travis.

"Well, because he reminds me of myself," Dad replied. "I was the teenager in the boat."

"Wait…what?" Travis gaped at his dad. "You almost went over those falls? Like, for real?"

Dad laughed. "Yes, for real. And when those people pulled me to shore, God used that experience to help me realize I'd been trying to save myself spiritually too. But trying to save ourselves from sin is useless. The only way any of us can be saved is to trust Jesus to save us. Let's pray God would do what He did for me and help Colton and his family understand that."

-Hazel W. Marett

How About You?
Are you struggling to save yourself? Do you think that living a good life will save you from your sins and earn a place for you in heaven? It won't. Don't be like the Pharisee in today's Bible reading. You can only be saved when you stop trying to save yourself and simply trust Jesus--as the tax collector did. Pray today as he did, putting your trust in Jesus to be your Savior. (To learn more, click the "Good News!" button in the right column of this page.)

Today's Key Verse:
God, have mercy on me, a sinner! (CSB) (Luke 18:13)

Today's Key Thought:
Trust Jesus to save you