Tonight at the dinner table, we are going to do this little devotional and I thought I’d make it available for your family, too! This is geared toward younger children, you can engage your older children by having them read the Scripture passages, watch the videos suggested below, and asking them more in depth questions about what “doing the right thing” would look like in their lives. You can also do more in in depth study with them on topics such as “Sola Scriptura”, John Calvin, Martin Luther’s work translating the Latin Bible into German for the common people, and his controversial stance on Jews.
An online picture of Martin Luther nailing the 95 theses on the wall
A coloring picture (print from the internet) of Martin Luther
If you’re feeling really creative, paper, nails, hammer and a board. Have a paper and nail for each person, with each paper saying “I Will….”
Crayons or markers
Ask: What did we celebrate yesterday? (Halloween) What do people do on Halloween? (Dress up, decorate, knock on doors and say, “Trick or Treat,” and eat lots of candy.)
Say: I know about someone who lived over 500 years ago who banged on a door on October 31, too. His name was Martin Luther. (Not to be confused with Martin Luther King, Jr. who was also awesome, but not a part of this story.) Show the picture of Martin Luther.
He wasn’t trick or treating, though. He was nailing a very important paper to the door of the church building in his town. And instead of getting candy, he got into a lot of trouble. Here is his story:
As a young man, Martin became a lawyer to please his father. One day, he was caught in a storm and almost struck by lightning. He promised God then and there that if he made it out of the storm alive, he would serve God instead. After the storm, Martin became a monk. A monk is a special priest or pastor who lives in a place with other monks. They work, pray, help people, and spend their whole lives serving God.
Hardly any regular people had a Bible, or were able to read God’s word. But because Martin was a monk, he studied the Bible a lot. He loved God’s word. As he studied, he saw more and more how the Bible was supposed to be read and understood by everyone, not just the priests or pastors. He also began to see that the leaders in the church were not obeying God.
The church leaders were making bad choices. They were selling indulgences. “Indulgences” is a big word to say they were having people pay money to have their sins forgiven. The leaders in the church were trying to build a big, beautiful church building, and this is how they decided to get the money for it. Like a fundraiser, but one that hurt people by lying and taking their money for the wrong reasons. They told people they couldn’t go to heaven unless they paid money.
Ask: What is heaven? (It is where you go when you die?) How do you think we are able to go to heaven? Is it from being really good? Is it from doing really good things? Is it from paying money?
Say: Let’s see what the Bible has to say about it.
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life” (from John 3:16, NIV).
Ask: What does this verse say about how we have eternal life, or, go to heaven? (believing in God’s Son, Jesus).
“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith, and this is not from yourselves, it is a gift of God, not by works so that no one can boast” (from Ephesians 2:8–9, NIV).
Ask: What do these verses say about how we are saved from our sins? (By grace) Who gives us this gift? (God) Can we do work or pay money to get into heaven? (No)
“I Am the Way, the Truth, and the Life, no one comes to the Father but through Me” (John 14:6, NIV).
Ask: Who is talking here? (Jesus) How do we come to the Father? (Through Jesus).
Martin Luther read the Bible and saw how important it was that people know they didn’t need to pay money to be forgiven of their sins and go to heaven. Jesus already died and rose again to make a way for us to go to heaven. He loves us so much, and Martin wanted people to know that.
So, he marched down to the church, and nailed a big document to the door with 95 Theses on it. “Theses” is a word that means questions or statements or arguments. He wrote 95 things he thought were bad choices by the church leaders.
Even though he was respectful in how he wrote the theses, the church leaders were not happy with him. He even had to hide for awhile because he thought they might hurt him. They wanted him to say he was wrong, but he knew he was doing the right thing.
Because of him, a bunch of new churches started and began to grow, and many people learned the truth about Jesus and His free gift of salvation. All the Protestant Christian churches today came from Martin Luther’s bravery so many years ago.
Ask: Do you think it was hard for Martin to tell his leaders they were wrong? Have you ever had to do something that you knew was right, but it was really scary to do?
Say: Martin loved God. Martin studied God’s word. Martin made the right choice to help other people know that Jesus died to save them, and they couldn’t try to pay their way into heaven.
How can you stand up for what is right? Maybe someone who is being bullied at school – how can you help them? Maybe someone is being mean – how can you help them to be kind? Who can we tell about Jesus this week?
Hand out the coloring sheet and crayons for coloring.
OR say: We are going to nail our own thesis to a board. Hand out a piece of paper and crayon/pencil to each person. Have them write one thing they will do that is right and good this week, and one person they will tell about Jesus this week, and nail it on the board. Keep it somewhere everyone can see it during the week.
Prayer: Jesus, thank you for dying for us and rising from the dead so that we can be saved from our sins if we believe in you. Thank you for brave Martin Luther who wanted people to know the truth about your salvation. Help me to tell someone about you this week, Jesus. In Your Name, Amen.
For further study: