Editor’s note: This devotion is slightly adapted from CTA’s free devotion designed to accompany the Count Your Blessings materials. See our web catalog for items you may want to use to help children experience and express thankfulness to God during this Thanksgiving month.
You will need a bag of candy corn. (This is in addition to the small bags that come with the bookmark.) Make sure you have enough pieces for each child to have three or four kernels for an activity later in the devotion.
Raise your hand if you have gone on a trip with your family. Have any of you ever moved away from your house and gone to a different house? What are some of the ways you have traveled from one place to another?
I’d like to tell you about some people who left their homes, got on a boat, and went to a new place they had never seen before. They went to a place where there were no houses or buildings or stores. There were no McDonald’s or Chuck E. Cheese restaurants (or name businesses the children know about and like to visit).
These people wanted so much to worship the true God that they left everything they had and went to a new place.
Getting to the Heart
Almost 400 years ago in the country of England (on the other side of the ocean) a group of people called Pilgrims wanted to come to America so that they could worship God. They packed up their belongings, left their houses, and boarded a ship called the Mayflower. There were 102 people on that ship, and most of them were children just like you!
It was very crowded and the journey was difficult. Many grown-ups and children got seasick. Others got sick because they didn’t have fruits and vegetables to eat and they didn’t have fresh water to drink or to wash in. But God didn’t give up on them. He kept watching over them and blessing them. There was even a baby born on the Mayflower! Because he was born on the ocean, his parents named him Oceanus!
The voyage took a long, long time. When the Pilgrims finally got to land, their troubles were not over. By then, it was winter. There weren’t any houses to live in. There wasn’t much food to eat. In fact, on some days, each person got only a few kernels of corn! Because it was so cold and they didn’t have much food, many more people got sick. Many even died.
How do you think they felt? I suppose some of them even wanted to quit and go back to England. They might have done that, but they knew God had led them to their new land, and they trusted him.
When spring came, God sent Native Americans to help the Pilgrims. The Native Americans taught the Pilgrims how to plant corn and fertilize it by putting fish in the ground with the corn seeds. The Pilgrims worked hard that summer growing food and building houses. When fall came, God gave them a great harvest. The Pilgrims knew God had helped them, and they were very thankful to him.
To celebrate God’s goodness to them, they had a feast—a thanksgiving feast. They invited their new friends, the Native Americans, to eat with them. It was the first Thanksgiving, and the celebration lasted for three days!
Just like the Pilgrims, we have struggles too. Sometimes people we love get sick. Sometimes we feel sad or lonely. Sometimes we are afraid. No matter what struggles and troubles we face, God keeps on loving us. He always gives us exactly what we need. The Bible says, “God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19).
When we are sick, God gives us doctors and medicine to help us. When we feel sad or lonely, God gives us friends and families to help us. When we are afraid, God gives us parents and teachers to help us.
God loves you! He won’t always take your struggles away, but he promises that he will stay with you. He will always help you, no matter what. God loves you so much that he sent his own Son, Jesus, to die for you to take your sins away. That is the best gift ever! And because God loved us enough to give us his very best Gift—Jesus—we know he will give us everything else we need, too.
Right now I have a few pieces of candy corn for each of you. As I pass them out, I want you to think of some of the blessings God has given you. When everyone has some corn, we will go around the circle and each of us will name some blessings that God has given us. As you name each blessing, you may eat a piece of candy corn. Who would like to go first?
(Do this; then pray a prayer like the following.)
Dear God, thank you so much for the many gifts you give to us, gifts such as (repeat some of the blessings the children named as you went around the circle). Thank you for the many ways you help us each day. Thank you most especially for sending Jesus to die for us and take away our sins so that we can be your friends now and forever someday in heaven. Amen.
Taking It Home
(Hold up the Count Your Blessings bookmarks with the small bags of candy corn.)
I would like you to continue thinking about all the blessings God has given you. I have a bookmark for you that will remind you to count your blessings. This bookmark comes with a bag of candy corn so you can count those blessings one by one, just like we did today.
(You may want to read the message on the bookmark so younger children will understand how it works.)