Tag Archives: Bible

Back-to-School Devotion Based on Jesus Learning to Read by Henry O. Tanner

Are you excited to start school? Did you know Jesus went to school? He probably learned in a synagogue school.

Look at Henry Tanner’s painting, Christ Learning to Read, and notice that neither Jesus nor his mother, Mary, have halos. In earlier times Christian artists often added halos to show a person was holy. We must never forget that Jesus is fully and completely God.

But Henry Tanner knew the Bible teaches that Jesus is also fully and completely man. This means He was born and grew just like you, but without sin. So Tanner shows Jesus as a regular boy.

And as Jesus grew, He had to learn things just like any other boy or girl, including how to read. Wow! The One who created us with the ability to talk, the very author of the Bible itself, humbled Himself to learn how to read just like you!

Why We Need to Learn to Read

The titles of Tanner’s 2 paintings tell us why Jesus and all of us should try to learn to read. Jesus learned to read so He could read the Scriptures. He delighted in reading and meditating on God’s Word. He knew,

“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge,” (Proverbs 1:7a).

Christ and His Mother Reading the Scriptures by Henry O. Tanner, 1909, Dallas Museum of Art, public domain

3 Things We Learn from Reading God’s Word

  1. When we read God’s Story in His Word, we learn that God made this beautiful world and everything in it. He made the oceans and singing whales that swim there. He made the mountains and the little pikas that build burrows on the highest slopes. He made fierce tigers that blend in to jungle grasses. And He made you in His own image to be creative and curious, and able to sing and write, paint and play games, study the stars and knit, and do all these things for His glory.
  2. The Bible teaches us also that our sin is the reason for the trouble and sadness in the world.
  3. But most important of all, the Bible tells us God loves us and has sent Jesus to be our Savior so we can be part of God’s family. And someday He will return to restore our world to its first beauty and we will live with Him forever.

And God’s Story is the most wonderful story of all and the very best reason to learn to read.

Hide a few of these verses in Your Heart for Light for Your School Year

  • Psalm 1:1-3
  • Psalm 19:7-14
  • Psalm 119:11,18, 105
  • Proverbs 1:1-7
  • Proverbs 4:23

Prayer: Thank you, Heavenly Father, for giving us your Word and the ability to learn to read so we can know how much You love us. We pray we will treasure Your Word in our hearts, so we can glorify You this school year in our work and our friendships.

Molly and I hope you enjoyed this devotion based on Christ Learning to Read by Henry O. Tanner. And we pray you will have a wonderful school year! Next week we’ll have an art activity based on the painting

Don’t miss what’s coming to Kathy the Picture Lady blog in late August through September!

Many wonderful new children’s books are releasing, so starting with the last post of August, I’ll be interviewing 6 children’s authors, and Molly will talk to some of the main characters in each of their new releases of picture books and board books!

Molly hopes you’ll join us to learn more about such fun characters as a mole, a rocking chair, frogs, animal daddys, pugs, and all the people and creatures that came to the manger when Jesus was born!

Molly has enjoyed reading these books and is eager to learn to read all the special new books we’ll be reviewing in late August and September!

Also Before You Go

If you’d like more activity ideas for art, history, and nature, curriculum connections, and links to more resources, be sure to sign up for my newsletter and receive a free guide to 5 Ways Art Benefits Children’s Cognitive, Physical, Spiritual, and Social Development, with a Few Fun and Easy Activities for each Benefit

Visit my website where you’ll find free downloadable puzzles, how-to-draw pages and coloring pages for kids and an updated list of my hands-on workshops, chapels, and presentations for all ages. Add link





Guard Your Heart, a devotion based on A Young Girl Reading by Jean Honore Fragonard

A Young Girl Reading wikimedia commons

I first saw this painting on a poster I bought my first year of teaching. I loved the painting, and I especially loved the Bible verse printed on the poster. I always hung it in my classroom no matter where we moved. The verse is from Proverbs 4:23.

“Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.”

The word “wellspring” really doubles down on its meaning as a source of life. The word well, something we draw water from, comes from Old English, meaning “to bubble and roll.” Spring, also from Old English, means “to come out or up with speed and force.”20150330_112626

So the picture is of the heart as a source of life that bubbles-up with a forceful or continual supply. Is this verse talking about our physical hearts, whose beats send blood around our bodies and the physical life we have because of that?

No, it’s talking about our spiritual heart—the center of our being—our innermost thoughts and desires. And life is not the life that will end in death, but eternal life.

The Lord is most concerned about that heart, because it is the heart that the Holy Spirit must change for us to believe in Jesus and receive eternal life. He changes it from a heart of stone to one of flesh so our inner most thoughts and desires change course and spring up with love for God.

20170505_122045But, wait, there’s more. Notice that the verse in Proverbs is a command, “Guard your heart….” We don’t just guard something important once and then forget it. Did Smaug in The Hobbit stop guarding his treasure? No, he slept right on top of it, and it was just gold and jewels!


How much more should we keep on guarding the priceless treasure of a heart that has been bought with the precious blood of Christ and now belongs to God? 

In the Sermon on the Mount, where He tells us how to live as children of God, Jesus says, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth…. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven…. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matt.:19-21.

Paul in Colossians 3:1 says “Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above where Christ is seated at the right hand of God.”

In Fragonard’s painting the young girl is reading a book, which can be a help to guarding her heart or not, depending, of course, on what she chooses to read or “put into her heart.”

We all make many choices each day as to what we “put into our hearts.” And today there are more ways than ever to do that— a wide variety of electronic devices to keep up with numerous social media sites, to play games, to read books, and to watch movies and TV.

How do you decide what goes into your heart? How do you guard your heart so that it is a heart that can continually bubble up in a life that honors and serves God and overflows with love for Him and others?

The place to start is spending time daily reading the Bible. Psalm 1 compares a person who spends time reading and meditating on God’s word to, “a tree planted by streams of water which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither.”

20140711_142654We also need to make wise choices about all the other things we read and view each day. In the Parable of the Sower (Matt. 13) Jesus warns against letting the cares and wealth of the world choke out our faith, as weeds can choke up an untended spring or well, so it is no longer a wellspring of life.

In the comment section tell us how you and your family decide what books, websites, movies, and other media to spend time on.

Here’s one to start you off:   World, a Christian news magazine has reviews in every issue of music, movies, and adult and children’s books that are very helpful.  world.wng.org

I hope you’ll let me know in the comments whether this new format is helpful, and tell others how this blog can help adults and children enjoy and appreciate great art from a Christian perspective—as well as make some of their own!

Be sure to visit my website to see the art workshops and other types of presentations I’m available to do! See the details at:      www.kathy-oneill.com

Next Post: Activities for Digging Deeper  (based on A Young Girl Reading)


Be sure and sign up to receive these posts by email.