Fasting- An Act of Submission

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When we think of “worship,” fasting rarely comes to mind, but in truth, they’re closely related. Fasting and worship share the same root – submission to God.

1. Read

James 4:6-7 [ESV] “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble. Submit yourselves therefore to God.”

Fasting, just like worship, is an act of willful submission. It rarely comes easily, but that’s part of what makes it so powerful. If God is really “Lord,” we owe Him worship, whether we feel like it in the moment or not. Q . What has been the most challenging part of your fast so far? Have you been tempted to cheat, or to quit? How does sticking with it – against your natural desires – help you deepen your devotion to God?

2. Challenge

Psalm 8:1-4 [NLT] “LORD, our Lord, your majestic name fills the earth! Your glory is higher than the heavens…What are mere mortals that you should think about them, human beings that you should care for them?”

Whatever the expression is, worship begins with an understanding that God is, well – God, and you’re not. Before you call on God to meet your larger-than-life need or give you divine wisdom, you have to get off of the throne of your life and bow before Him. Fasting is a season of practicing that dynamic, as you say “no” to your desires, and “yes” to God’s plan. Q . What’s an area of your life that needs divine intervention? Is He Lord in that area of your life right now, or are you? Q . God wants us to be humble, but not to feel broken-down or worthless. How would you describe the right balance between self-worth in God, and humble knee-bowing before His throne?

3. Prayer Focus

Take a minute to search your heart. What are the areas where your will often puts up a fight against God’s way? Ask the Holy Spirit to help you, as you continue a season of fasting, to focus on submitting better in those areas.


Family with Small Children Discussion Guide

Life is a Highway: STOP

1. Power Verse

Galatians 5:25 “…let us follow the Holy Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives.”

What’s up: “S-T-O-P Say No To Sin!”

This week, we continue our series called, “Life Is A Highway”. In this series, we’re learning that life is a lot like a highway. The Bible says that there are two roads that we can choose to travel on. One leads to life in Heaven forever and one leads to sin and death. We have to make sure we are on the road that leads to Heaven.

2. Activity

Ask your kids to make a list of “BIG” sins and “little” sins. When they finish, take turns reading each list.  Sin is dangerous. ALL sin is dangerous. Sadly, many Christians have decided there are “BIG” sins and “little” sins – they divide them up just like we did. There are some sinful habits that we tend to ignore and allow to remain in our lives.

3. Discussion

What are some of the sinful habits we tend to ignore and allow to remain in our lives? Why? ALL sin breaks God’s heart and can cause eternal damage to our souls. It’s important to S.T.O.P. sin in its tracks and defeat those nagging sinful habits that tend to continue to hang around. S – Stop What You Are Doing T – Think About What The Bible Says O – Obey It P – Pray That God Will Give You Strength To Resist It

4. Prayer Focus

Pray for your children if they have been struggling with the same sinful habits over and over. Pray God will help them break those habits and follow the S.T.O.P. method.

Why Fast?

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Fasting is supposed to be a season of focusing on God, but it can easily become a season of focusing on “doing it the right way.” In the end, God’s not impressed with the “how” of fasting; He’s impressed with the “why.”

1. Read

Matthew 6:16 [NLT] “And when you fast, don’t make it obvious, as the hypocrites do, for they try to look miserable and disheveled so people will admire them for their fasting. I tell you the truth, that is the only reward they will ever get.”
Fasting can become a way to show how “spiritual” you are by how you do it. It’s human nature to want a pat on the back for doing something hard, but we should seek that from God, not people. Q . You shouldn’t fast to impress others, but you should encourage others, especially your family / children, to want to fast themselves. What’s the difference between this and what Jesus was describing? Where is the line between inspiring others and showing off?

2. Challenge

Matthew 15:1-3 [NLT] “Some Pharisees and teachers of religious law now arrived from Jerusalem to see Jesus. They asked him, ‘Why do your disciples disobey our age-old tradition? For they ignore our tradition of ceremonial hand washing before they eat.’ Jesus replied, ‘And why do you, by your traditions, violate the direct commandments of God?’”
When you’re working hard to serve the Lord through a fast, it’s easy to become sidetracked judging others on the “how” of their service. Instead, focus on the heart behind why you’re fasting. Q . As Christians, we’re called to look out for each other, and confront those who have strayed into sin. How is that dynamic different from the Pharisees’ interaction with Jesus? Q . Imagine a scenario where your focus on the details and traditions of a fast could overshadow the heart behind it in someone else. What would that conversation sound like? How can you avoid playing it out in real life?

3. Prayer Focus

Talk to God in a different way this time. Try to communicate without using the phrases and terminology that normally come to mind. What do you need? What are you thankful for? Keep it real, and just say it in plain English.

Family with Small Children Discussion Guide

Life is a Highway: Yield

1. Power Verse

Galatians 5:25 “…let us follow the Holy Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives.” 
What’s Up: “Slow Down, Wait A Minute, Listen To The Holy Spirit!” This week, we continue our series called, “Life Is A Highway”.  In this series, we’re learning that life is a lot like a highway.  The Bible says that there are two roads that we can choose to travel on.  One leads to life in Heaven forever and one leads to sin and death.  We have to make sure we are on the road that leads to Heaven.

2. Activity

Show your children a GPS or map app on your phone. Q. How does a GPS/map app know where to tell you to turn? (It’s in constant communication with satellites that give it information about your position.) Q.  What happens if you’re using a GPS/map app and you make a wrong turn? (The GPS tells you how to get back on the right road.) Q. If a GPS/map app has access to ALL the information about your location, would it ever be smart to ignore the directions it gives you? Why not?

3. Discussion

The Holy Spirit is like this GPS/map app.  He speaks to us as we travel down the highway of life.  He tells us where to go and what to do.  We need to listen to His still small voice in our hearts and always obey what He tell us. Q. How is the Holy Spirit able to help you in your everyday life? Q. How has the Holy Spirit helped you in the past?  Did you listen?

4. Prayer Focus

Pray for your children to listen to the Holy Spirit speaking into their lives.  Practice slowing down by sitting still for a few moments.  Ask your children to listen to what the Holy Spirit is speaking to their hearts.  Then, pray that God will help them obey the Holy Spirit this week.

Fasting for Advancement

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A fast is a special season of setting yourself apart and reaching out to God. It’s more than just a routine or tradition – fasting is for special times and special needs.

1. Read

2 Chronicles 20:1-3 [NLT] “After this, the armies of the Moabites, Ammonites, and some of the Meunitesa declared war on Jehoshaphat… Jehoshaphat was terrified by this news and begged the LORD for guidance. He also ordered everyone in Judah to begin fasting.”

Jehoshaphat was in a dire circumstance – something that was beyond his ability to fix, and he responded by seeking God’s help in a special way. Whether it’s oppression, danger, hardship, or even a new season of opportunities you’re facing – when the moment is bigger than you, fasting is the right way to respond.

Q . What are the challenges, hardships or decisions in your life right now which are too big to be addressed by your strength alone?

Q . Have you fasted before? What prompted you to do it? How did God respond?

2. Challenge

2 Chronicles 20:3-4 [NLT] “Jehoshaphat was terrified by this news and begged the LORD for guidance. He also ordered everyone in Judah to begin fasting. So people from all the towns of Judah came to Jerusalem to seek the LORD’s help.

Fasting isn’t a badge of honor you wear to feel holier, or a magical ritual that makes God do your will. Fasting is a way to put yourself in a position of humility and dependence, while you wait on God’s guidance, provision, protection, and blessing.

Q . As you begin this fast, what do you want the Lord to do for you?

Q . How is fasting different than normal times of prayer? What change does it make in you?

3. Prayer Focus

Take a few minutes as you begin this season of fasting, and reaffirm your submission to God and your reliance on Him for help. Ask Him specifically what you need, and thank Him in advance for His answer.


Family with Small Children Discussion Guide

Life is a Highway: One Way

1. Power Verse

John 14:6 “I am THE WAY, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.”

What’s Up: “God’s Son Is The Only ONE WAY To Heaven!”

This week, we start a brand new series called, “Life Is A Highway”.  In this series, we’ll learn that life is a lot like a highway.  The Bible says that there are two roads that we can choose to travel on.  One leads to life in Heaven forever and one leads to sin and death.  We have to make sure we are on the road that leads to Heaven.

2. Activity

Draw a horizontal line with a large circle at the right end of it across the middle of a piece of paper. Label the line “Jesus” and in the circle, write the word “Heaven.”  Show the paper to your children and tell them that they’re going to help you draw a life map.

Ask them to name some of the things they’ll encounter during their lives that might influence them, either positively or negatively.For each suggestion they make, draw a side road off of the horizontal road and label it.Some of the side roads might be friends, school, sports, drugs, money, alcohol, work, spouses, children, etc. 

3. Discussion

Q. Some things we listed are always bad influences.  What are they?

Q. Some things we listed can sometimes be good influences and sometimes bad.  What are they?  Why?

Q. Can following any of those things get you to Heaven?  Why not?

Throughout life, things will come along, both good and bad, that might distract us or cause us to lose sight of our true destination – Heaven.  Some of those things may be exciting or seem good at the time, but they won’t get us to Heaven.  The only way we can stay on the highway to Heaven is to maintain a daily relationship with Jesus.

4. Prayer Focus

Pray that God would help your children to stay focused on the highway to Heaven and to live their life so others will see the difference in them.

Parent Power

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Parents and kids both have a responsibility to each-other: to teach and to learn God’s truth, so that they can serve God together.

1. Read

Deuteronomy 6:6–7 [NLT] “And you must commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these commands that I am giving you today.  Repeat them again and again to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up.”

God’s expectation for parents is to invest time teaching their children about who God is – not just in an abstract way, but as you’re going through everyday life.

Q . What are a few things you learned from your parents when you were young? How are those skills, attitudes or practices benefiting your life now?

Q . Give a few examples of values or behaviors that God wants parents to teach their children. What are some real-life scenarios where those things come into play? How can those scenarios become teaching moments?

2. Challenge

Proverbs 1:8 [NLT] “My child, listen when your father corrects you. Don’t neglect your mother’s instruction.”

Nobody likes getting disciplined – it’s painful!  In the end, it helps us, though – as long as we receive it. It takes patience and humility to accept correction, but that’s the only way we’ll really learn.

Q . Do you ever get frustrated when someone’s trying to teach you something, or give you advice on how to do something better? Do you think you learn more with a resistant attitude, or a receptive attitude?

Q . For parents – what kind of tone do you take when instructing your kids? Are you making it easier or harder for them to accept your instruction and to respect you in return?

3. Prayer Focus

Take a few minutes as a family and talk to God about your relationship with the people you influence, and the ones who influence you. Ask Him to help you teach the next generation faithfully and to have a receptive attitude when you need correction or instruction.


Family with Small Children Discussion Guide

Jesus Is…Prince of Peace

1. Power Verse

1 John 3:1 “See what amazing love the Father has given us! Because of it, we are called children of God. And that’s what we really are!”

What’s Up: “I can obey and learn each day!”

Parents and kids both have a responsibility to each-other: to teach and to learn God’s truth, so that they can serve God together.

2. Read

Deuteronomy 6:6–7 [NLT] “And you must commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these commands that I am giving you today.  Repeat them again and again to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up.”

3. Discussion

God’s expectation for parents is to invest time teaching their children about who God is – not just in an abstract way, but as you’re going through everyday life. Q . What are your favorite things to do together as a family?  What are a few things that your parents taught you to do?  Q . What are somethings that you could teach your parents about? (video games, Common Core math, dance moves, etc.)

Proverbs 1:8 [NLT] “My child, listen when your father corrects you. Don’t neglect your mother’s instruction.”

Nobody likes getting disciplined – it’s painful!  In the end, it helps us, though – as long as we receive it. It takes patience and humility to accept correction, but that’s the only way we’ll really learn.

Q . Do you ever get frustrated when someone’s trying to teach you something, or give you advice on how to do something better? Do you think you learn more with a bad attitude, or a good attitude?

Q . For parents – what kind of tone do you take when instructing your kids? Are you making it easier or harder for them to accept your teaching and to respect you in return?

4. Prayer Focus

Take a few minutes as a family and talk to God about your relationship with the people who love and care for you.  Pray that you will have good, respectful attitudes when learning and when teaching each other.

Prince of Peace

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Jesus’ birth brought a lot of things to humanity, but one of the greatest things – and one that the spiritually lost search for most – is peace.

1. Read

Luke 2:13-14 [NLT] “Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others—the armies of heaven—praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in highest heaven, and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.’”
The Shepherds who witnessed the armies of heaven showing up on earth must’ve been scared, but the birth of the Messiah was the greatest peace gesture in the history of humanity. At last, we could be in right-standing with God. Q . Think back (if you can!) to a time before you had a relationship with God. What was it like to be at odds with God? How is the peace in your life different now from what it was then? Q . What are a few substitutes people turn to in order to find peace apart from God? How do those substitutes fall short in the end?

2. Challenge

John 14:27 [GNT] “Peace is what I leave with you; it is my own peace that I give you. I do not give it as the world does. Do not be worried and upset; do not be afraid.”
Our Messiah didn’t just come to make peace between us and God – He came to equip us with supernatural peace for the challenges and worries of an imperfect life. Q . What’s the difference between the peace the world gives and the kind of peace that only God can give? Q . Peace doesn’t mean the absence of challenges – it’s a change in perspective; a different response. Think of a time when you asked God to remove a problem, and instead, He gave you peace in the middle of it. Was the end result still good? Were you closer to Him as a result?

3. Prayer Focus

Take a few minutes as a family – thank Jesus for making peace between you and God. Ask the Holy Spirit to be your comforter and peace-giver when life gets stressful.

Family with Small Children Discussion Guide

Jesus Is… Emmanuel

1. Power Verse

Matthew 1:23 “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Emmanuel (which means ‘God with us’).”
What’s Up: “Jesus Is With Me Every Single Day!” This week, we continue our series called, “Jesus Is…” In this week’s lesson, we learned another word that is used in the Bible to describe Jesus. We learned that Jesus is…Emmanuel.

2. Read

Read the Christmas Story from the Gospels (You choose which one you would like to read) or retell the story in your own words. Where was Jesus born? What do you think it looked like? (Have your child draw a picture of the manger on a sheet of paper.)

3. Discussion

Christmas is the birthday of a king. But, Jesus was not just ANY king. He was a king who left His throne in Heaven in order to come to Earth. His entire motivation was to save the world from their sin. Jesus chose to come to Earth not as a flashy king with a crown and material wealth. He chose the most humble beginnings – a stable and a manger. He proved that He was not in it for Himself, but for others. Jesus is Emmanuel – “God with us.” He didn’t wait for us to come to HIM. He came to us. He came FOR us. He came to be WITH us. No matter where we are, what we do, or what we face, we can always count on Jesus to be with us. When we face trouble in this world, Jesus can bring peace to our lives. Just like the shepherds – when we spend time with Jesus, we can feel His presence and His peace.

4. Prayer Focus

Pray for your child if they are facing tough situations in their lives. Pray they will be reminded that Jesus is always with them. Lead them in a prayer of thanksgiving for Jesus’ sacrifice to come to Earth and pay the price for our sins.

Eternal Messiah

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Jesus may have been born in a stable 2,000 years ago, but our Savior is eternal – He has no beginning and no end. He’s the Everlasting Father.

1. Read

John 1:1 [NLT] “In the beginning the Word already existed. The Word was with God, and the Word was God.”
An Eternal Messiah means that Jesus wasn’t a course-correction. He wasn’t “plan B.” Jesus was with God the Father in the beginning of time. He knew the fall of humanity was coming, and He knew he would be the sacrifice for us. Q . If you knew ahead of time that the human race you helped create would betray you, and you’d have to die to fix their mess, would you go through with it? Q . The Messiah came to save you, even knowing you’d mess some things up after accepting Him. How does that affect the way you feel about His love for you? How does that affect the way you feel about the way you should live your life now?

2. Challenge

Matthew 10:29-31 [VOICE] “Look, if you sold a few sparrows, how much money would you get? A copper coin apiece, perhaps? And yet your Father in heaven knows when those small sparrows fall to the ground. You, beloved, are worth so much more than a whole flock of sparrows. God knows everything about you, even the number of hairs on your head. So do not fear.”
Just as the Messiah was Eternal before you, He’s in eternity ahead of you. Whatever lies ahead of you on the road, He’s already there, and He cares about you deeply. Q . What are things ahead of you in life that cause anxiety when you think about them? What are a few things that might happen which make you nervous? Q . God doesn’t just see the future – He’s already in the future. How does that change how you feel about what might happen to you?

3. Prayer Focus

Take a few minutes as a family – thank Jesus for creating humanity, even knowing He’d have to suffer to save us. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you live up to the sacrifice paid to save you.

Family with Small Children Discussion Guide

Jesus Is…Prince of Peace

1. Power Verse

Psalm 29:11 “The Lord gives his people strength. The Lord blesses them with peace.”
What’s Up: “When Life Gives Me Trouble, Jesus Gives Me Peace!” This week, we continue our series called, “Jesus Is…” In this week’s lesson, we learned another word that Isaiah used to describe Jesus when prophesying about His birth. We learned that Jesus is…Prince of Peace. What would you do if you were a prince or princess? (have your children draw a picture of what their crown would look like.)

2. Read

Luke 2:4-20 “While Joseph and Mary were there, the time came for the child to be born. She gave birth to her first baby. It was a boy. She wrapped him in large strips of cloth. Then she placed him in a manger. There were shepherds living out in the fields nearby. It was night, and they were taking care of their sheep.  An angel of the Lord appeared to them. And the glory of the Lord shone around them. They were terrified.  But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news. It will bring great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you. He is the Messiah, the Lord. Here is how you will know I am telling you the truth. You will find a baby wrapped in strips of cloth and lying in a manger.” Suddenly a large group of angels from heaven also appeared. They were praising God. They said, “May glory be given to God in the highest heaven! And may peace be given to those he is pleased with on earth!” So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph and the baby. The baby was lying in the manger. After the shepherds had seen him, they told everyone. They reported what the angel had said about this child.”

3. Discussion

Q. Who did the angels appear to in this story? Q.  Where did the shepherds go?  Q. Who did they go to see? When the shepherds went to see Jesus, they worshiped Him. They were able to receive peace in His presence. Life is full of trouble and difficult things. This world is filled with scary situations – divorce, death, war, tragedy, etc. It can cause us to fear or worry. When we face trouble in this world, Jesus can bring peace to our lives. Just like the shepherds – when we spend time with Jesus, we can feel His presence and His peace.

4. Prayer Focus

Spend some time in worship with your family. Pray your kids will receive the peace that only Jesus can bring to our lives.

Mighty God

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Isaiah’s prophecy tells us that this promised Messiah – Jesus – was more than a prophet or teacher. His name was to be called “Mighty God.”

1. Read

John 14:8-9 [NLT] “Philip said, ‘Lord, show us the Father, and we will be satisfied.’ Jesus replied, ‘Have I been with you all this time, Philip, and yet you still don’t know who I am? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father!’”

Jesus wasn’t a reflection of God, or a teacher about God. He was God. He is God. Christmas reminds us that Jesus is the most unique individual to ever live. Q . When you read about His life, which is harder to remember: that Jesus was fully God, or that he was fully human? Q . If Jesus had been just a prophet – even the greatest of all prophets – how would that have changed the impact of the crucifixion?

2. Challenge

Philippians 2:5-7 [NLT] “You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had. Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. Instead, he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being.”

Christmas reminds us that God isn’t just standing in the perfection of heaven passing judgment on helplessly-corrupted humanity. He stepped down into our mess to lead us back to Him. Q . Which of Jesus’ divine privileges do you think it was hardest to do without? Do you think it ever frustrated Him to be so limited? Q . We often speak of God “sending” Jesus to earth, but since Jesus is God, we can also think of it as God Himself coming to save us. Which way of looking at it are you more familiar with? What does each say about God’s character and how He feels about you?

3. Prayer Focus

Take a few minutes as a family – thank God for loving you enough to come Himself to save you. Take a minute to worship Jesus for who He is – the Mighty God.


Family with Small Children Discussion Guide

Jesus Is…Everlasting Father

1. Power Verse

John 3:1 “See how very much our Father loves us, for he calls us his children, and that is what we are!”

What’s Up: My Heavenly Father Is The BEST!”

This week, we continue our series called, “Jesus Is…” In this week’s lesson, we learned another word that Isaiah used to describe Jesus when prophesying about His birth. We learned that Jesus is… Everlasting Father.   This world is full of different types of families! A lot of families look way different than others! Q. What do some other families you know look like? (i.e. mom, two kids) Q. What does our family look like?  (Have your children draw a picture of your family, labeling each person.)

2. Read

Matthew 1:20-25 “But as Joseph was thinking about this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream. The angel said, “Joseph, son of David, don’t be afraid to take Mary home as your wife. The baby inside her is from the Holy Spirit.  She is going to have a son. You must give him the name Jesus. That’s because he will save his people from their sins.” All this took place to bring about what the Lord had said would happen. He had said through the prophet, “The virgin is going to have a baby. She will give birth to a son. And he will be called Immanuel.” (Isaiah 7:14) The name Immanuel means “God with us.” Joseph woke up. He did what the angel of the Lord commanded him to do. He took Mary home as his wife. But he did not sleep with her until she gave birth to a son. And Joseph gave him the name Jesus.”

3. Discussion

Q. Who was the young man in this story? Q. Who came to speak to him? Q. What did the angel say to Joseph? Q. How did he respond? Because of his obedience, Joseph became the earthly father of Jesus. And God is OUR Father – our Everlasting Father! Even though we have our family here on earth, we are all children of God! He is our Everlasting Father! He will always love us and never leave us!Have your children add God to their family picture, labeling Him “Everlasting Father.”

4. Prayer Focus

Pray your kids will remember that no matter what happens God, their Everlasting Father, will always be there.