Happiness=Doing Your Best

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When asked what they do for fun, not many people list “working really hard.” The truth is, part of the God-character in us as Christians is a robust work ethic – giving whatever we do 100% effort. When we do that consistently, God will reward us.

1. Read

Colossians 3:17 [ESV] “And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus…”

It’s easy to think of Christianity as a part of your life – even a big part – but God wants His character to overlay everything we do. If you really want to live the God-life, you have to go all-in.

  • Think back through your day (or yesterday) and list 6-8 things that you did. (They can be big things, or simple, everyday things.)
  •  For each of those things, how might they be influenced by this overlay of God’s way of living? 
  • Were your decisions influenced at all by your relationship with God?

2. Challenge

Colossians 3:23-24 [ESV] Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward.”

When you give half-effort on a project or assignment, it’s not just a bad reflection on you, it’s an insult to your true boss – GOD. He has great happiness and rewards for those who give their best effort.

  • What’s a hobby, chore, or job that it’s easy for you to give 100% effort on?
  • What’s one that you have a hard time giving effort and attention to?
  • Does God care more about the effort you put on some activities than He does on others? 
  • If not, how does that affect the way you feel about things you typically give half-effort to?

3. Prayer Focus

When you talk to God today, thank Jesus for going all the way through 33 years on this planet, and not doing the cross halfway. Bring up those things that you struggle to give effort on, and ask the Holy Spirit to help you give 100% on them this week.


Family with Small Children Discussion Guide

Resting In God

1. Power Verse

Psalm 23:2 “He lets me rest in green meadows; he leads me beside peaceful streams.”

What’s Up: “I Won’t Be Stressed, ‘Cause God Gives Me Rest!”

This week are continuing in the series “The Good Shepherd.” We learned how God is the Shepherd who brings us peace and rest. Practice reading the Psalms 23 together- focus on Psalms 23:2 after you have read the whole chapter.

2. Read

Psalm 23 “The Lord is my shepherd; I have all that I need. He lets me rest in green meadows; he leads me beside peaceful streams. He renews my strength. He guides me along right paths, bringing honor to his name. Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me. Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me. You prepare a feast for me  in the presence of my enemies. You honor me by anointing my head with oil. My cup overflows with blessings. Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life,and I will live in the house of the Lord forever.”

  • Do you think God cares about us and wants us to stress and worry all the time?
  • What do you think David was trying to teach us in verse two of this Psalm?

That’s right! God wants to teach us to rest in Him! He doesn’t want us to be stressed about school, and sports, and friends, and everything else that can get us down and discouraged- He wants us to learn to come to Him and find Peace and Rest. Let’s look at a famous story from the Bible that we can use to learn this lesson from.

3. Discussion

Luke 10:38-42 (The story of Mary and Martha)“As Jesus and the disciples… came to a certain village where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. Her sister, Mary, sat at the Lord’s feet, listening to what he taught. But Martha was distracted by the big dinner she was preparing. She came to Jesus and said, “Lord, doesn’t it seem unfair to you that my sister just sits here while I do all the work? Tell her to come and help me.” But the Lord said to her, “My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details!There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary hasdiscovered it, and it will not be taken away from her.”

  • What was Martha doing in the story? 
  • What was Mary doing in the story? 
  • Who do you think was doing the “right” thing or the “better” thing?

Some times it isn’t about getting everything done, or being busy, but it’s about simply taking time to be with Jesus! Mary knew that being with Jesus was the best way to rest and find peace in her life. It’s the same way for us- when we are stressed, or worried, or tired, we should go to Jesus to find rest.

4. Prayer Focus

Take time as a family to sit and spend time with Jesus. Pray as a family and sit in His presence. REST together in Him.

Happiness=Serving Others

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Jesus said, “the greatest among you will be your servant.” We’re called to serve and meet the needs of others… which can be a counterintuitive, counter-cultural thing, at times. When we do, though, we not only make God happy – we find happiness ourselves.

1. Read

Romans 12:13 [ESV] “I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment…”

Being a servant to others begins with an accurate understanding of where your position is. As long as you see yourself as more important than others, you’ll never be able to spend yourself to meet their needs.

  • Name 2 or 3 of the most selfless-giving people you’ve known. From what you can tell, do/did they serve out of obligation, or did they just value others more than themselves?
  • How did their selflessness benefit you?
  • If a poll were taken of 100 people close to you, how would they rate your view of your own importance? 
  • Would they label you as selfless, selfish, or somewhere in between?

2. Challenge

1 Peter 5:6 [ESV]“Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you.”

If you puff yourself up full of self-importance, God will have to spend time bringing you back down to earth. If you live humble, though, and serve others, God will raise you up and bring you honor and fulfillment.

  • It’s easy to serve kind, selfless people, but not everyone in life falls into that category. Who are the people in your life who are the hardest to serve? 
  • Why do you think that is? 
  • Does that change God’s expectation of you?
  • Think of a time when you willingly gave time, energy, attention, or money to serve others. How fulfilled did you feel afterward? 
  • Did that act increase or deflate your happiness?

3. Prayer Focus

Take a few minutes to thank Jesus for setting the example of selfless service. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you keep the right view of yourself, so you can invest your life in serving others.


Family with Small Children Discussion Guide

The Good Shepherd

1. Power Verse

Psalm 23:1 “The Lord is my shepherd; I have all that I need.”

What’s Up: “I Will Follow The Lord, ‘Cause He’s My Shepherd!”

This week we started a new series “The Good Shepherd.” We will spend the next few weeks learning how God is the Shepherd who longs to take care of His sheep – Us!

2. Read

Luke 15:1-7 “Then Jesus told them a story.  He said, ‘Suppose one of you has 100 sheep and loses one of them. Won’t he leave the 99 in the open country? Won’t he go and look for the one lost sheep until he finds it?  When he finds it, he will joyfully put it on his shoulders and go home. Then he will call his friends and neighbors together. He will say, ‘Be joyful with me. I have found my lost sheep.’  I tell you, it will be the same in heaven. There will be great joy when one sinner turns away from sin. Yes, there will be more joy than for 99 godly people who do not need to turn away from their sins.”

  • How many sheep were there in the story? What happened to one of the sheep?
  • What did the shepherd do for the one sheep that was missing?
  • Who/What does the sheep represent?

3. Discussion

In our Bible Story, one sheep was missing. The shepherd left 99 of his sheep to go find the one that was lost. We learn from this story that God, our shepherd, will do whatever it takes to find one of his sheep (us!) that is lost or missing. 

  • What do you think it means for a person to be lost or missing? 
  • Why do you think God cares so much about one person who is missing?

That’s Right! God loves us so much, He will do whatever it takes to be in relationship with us. And when we are in relationship with Him, He will do whatever He can to take care of us and meet our needs. He is “The Good Shepherd” who wants to take care of us. He loves us and wants us to have everything we need!!!

4. Prayer Focus

Pray for the members of your family that they will be in right relationship with God. Give each child an opportunity to respond to an opportunity to accept Him. Also, give each child a chance to share a need that maybe they need God to meet as their “Good Shepherd.”

Happiness=Generosity

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Finding happiness in generosity sounds like a contradictory statement – after all, accumulating stuff makes you feel happy, right? Well, in God’s economy, the more you give, the more you’re blessed, and the happiness that comes from giving is way beyond what comes from getting.

1. Read

Luke 6:38 [ESV] “Give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.”

No matter how generous you are, God will always outdo you in the giving department. The blessings may not come to you in dollars, but they’re always abundant.

  • Think of a time when your generosity met someone else’s need.
  • How did it make you feel?
  • What impact did it have on your outlook on life?
  • Giving money is just one way to be generous. What are other ways you can show generosity to others?

2. Challenge

Matthew 6:33 [ESV] “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”

When you receive, it’s a good day for you, but when you give, you’re advancing God’s kingdom – not only in yourself, but in others. People see God’s love and generous heart through your actions, and those qualities point hearts toward Him.

  • Which area in your life is it hardest to be generous in?
  • Any time you say “no” to yourself and “yes” to God, you’re advancing His kingdom (His rulership) in your heart. How has generosity deepened your submission to God’s rule? What can you expect to gain in return for putting His requests ahead of your own interests?

3. Prayer Focus

When you talk to God this week, remember to thank Him for being so generous with you. Ask Him to meet your needs in proportion to the way you meet the needs of others… and then go be as generous as you can!


Family with Small Children Discussion Guide

Should I Be baptized?

1. Power Verse

Acts 2:38 “…Repent and be baptized, every one of you…”

What’s Up: “Baptism Is A Picture Of What God’s Done For Me!”

2. Activity

On a piece of paper, draw some of the following logos or symbols you think your kids will recognize: McDonalds, Target, Superman, Batman, Nike, and Shell Gas. You can also Google “common logos” and let them look at some of the pictures. Ask them to identify each of the logos. Then discuss the following questions: 

  • What do the people who make these signs want you to do when you see one of their symbols? (Help your kids understand that the logos are supposed to make you think about what they represent.)
  • Are the symbols actually the product they represent? For example, is the McDonald logo a real hamburger, or is the Nike swoosh a real shoe?

3. Discussion

Explain to your kids that baptism is a symbol, too, just like the symbols you looked at. Tell them that going into the water symbolizes dying, being under the water symbolizes being buried, and coming out of the water represents being raised from the dead, just like Jesus did. Remind them that Jesus was baptized, too.

  • Why did Jesus get baptized? (To lead us by example.)
  • Why should you get baptized? (It symbolizes to others that you’re following Jesus’ example.)
  • Does getting baptized save you or cause your sins to be forgiven?
  • How do you get saved, if baptism doesn’t save you?

If your kids haven’t been baptized, talk to them about whether they’ve asked Jesus to forgive their sins. If they have, ask them if they’re ready to be baptized. If they haven’t, talk to them more about why it’s important to ask Jesus to save them.

4. Prayer Focus

If your kids have been baptized, talk about the experience. Ask them how they felt and what it meant to them. Finish by praying together.

Happiness=Forgiveness

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Everyone’s looking for happiness – from diet plans, to dating sites, to shopping trips – we’re looking everywhere. And yet, happiness-producing things are already all around us… if we can see them.

1. Read

Romans 14:17 [SEV] “God’s kingdom isn’t about eating and drinking. It is about pleasing God, about living in peace, and about true happiness. All this comes from the Holy Spirit.”

God doesn’t want to snuff out the happiness in your life – He wants to fill your life with it.The instructions we find in the Bible are there to make your life better, and in the end, they produce the kind of happiness that will last.

  • What’s your favorite fruit? Think of all the work that goes into producing it – planting, fertilizing, harvesting, etc. Does the fruit come without the work?
  •  What are some God-adjustments to your life that take effort? What sort of fruit might they produce in your life in the long run? What about in someone else’s life?

2. Challenge

Proverbs 17:9 [ESV] “Whoever covers an offense seeks love, but he who repeats a matter separates close friends.”

Resentment & unforgiveness keep you so focused on the bad in your life that you become unable to appreciate the good. God calls you to forgive, not only for the sake of others, but to keep you from nullifying your own happiness.

  • Think of someone you know who’s bitter or resentful. Is their “right” to be angry making them happier? Are they pleasant to be around? 
  • What are some ways their life might change if they let go of old hurts?
  • List a few things God has forgiven you for. Did He deserve what you did? Did you deserve His forgiveness? In light of His example, what sorts of things should you be willing to forgive when people do them to you?

3. Prayer Focus

Thank God for how ready He is to forgive you when you mess up. Ask the Holy Spirit to highlight old wounds you still hang onto, and to help you to truly forgive, so you can move forward in uninhibited happiness.


Family with Small Children Discussion Guide

Super Science Sunday!

1. Power Verse

Galatians 6:2 “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.”

What’s Up: “God gives us friends and family to help us during tough times.”

The kids experienced wacky science experiments in Overflow Kids Church today, all designed to demonstrate Biblical truths.  Take a few minutes to discuss the service with your kids.  What was their favorite experiment? Did they learn any scientific facts? 

2. The Science

These are some of the experiments that were used in the children’s service, and the Biblical points they demonstrated.

Balloon on a bed of nails: A balloon can be popped by a single nail, but not when placed on a bed full of nails. This reminds us that God gives us friends and family to help us during tough times.

  • Think of a time when you were helped by someone.
  • Have ever been blessed by another person?
  • What are some ways that people can really help each other?

3. Discussion

Inertia Beads Demonstration:  A long string of beads is placed into a cup.  A slight tug on one end of the beads creates an inertia reactions that pulls all of the beads quickly out of the cup.

Proverbs 12:26  “One who is righteous is a guide to his neighbor, but the way of the wicked leads them astray.”

  • Why is it important to have good friends? 
  • What are some ways that our friends might encourage us to make poor decisions? 
  • How can we encourage our friends to be more like Jesus?

4. Prayer Focus

Take a moment to pray for our friends and family members.  Ask God to help each one of us to be good friends that point people toward good decisions and ultimately, closer to God.

Path of Salvation

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The path Jesus took to secure salvation for the world was a costly, painful, difficult one. And yet, it wasn’t “plan B.” God knew from the beginning what it would cost to redeem humanity, and He made us anyway.

1. Read

Revelation 13:8 [NKJV] “All who dwell on the earth will worship (the beast), whose names have not been written in the Book of Life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.

It’s hard to understand God’s ability to see everything from all time – all at once – but He does. He knew from creation that we would need a Savior, and Jesus has always been the plan.

  • Which do you think was tougher for God at the beginning – knowing that your prized creation would need you to save them, or knowing that even with all your efforts, some would still choose to reject you?
  • If God knew humans would sin, did they really have a choice, or were they predetermined to fail? Talk over the different angles… then be thankful that God understands things beyond what our logical brainscan handle.

2. Challenge

Colossians 1:16-17 [NASB95] “…all things have been created through Him (Jesus) and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.”

Not only did Jesus know He’d have to save us… but He was the one who created the materials for the tools used to crucify Him. He even knew when He was doing it, they’d be used that way. They were made for Him! There was a level of determination and intentionality through that creation that could only be motivated by unbelievable love.

  • When you consider Jesus as not only Savior, but Creator, how does that change the way you feel about the crucifixion? 
  • How does it affect the way you see His love for you?

3. Prayer Focus

Praise God for being victorious over death, and for His great love, which is more than any human could give. Thank Him for loving you enough to plan for your salvation.


Family with Small Children Discussion Guide

Surprise!

1. Power Verse

Matthew 28:5,6 “The angel said, …‘You are looking for Jesus… He isn’t here. He has been raised from the dead.”

What’s Up: “Don’t Be Surprised, Jesus Is ALIVE!”

Jesus took the world by SURPRISE when he showed up on the scene 2,000 years ago. Never before had the world seen such power, love, and holiness. But that was just the beginning of Jesus’ SURPRISES! In today’s lesson, we learn of Jesus’ biggest SURPRISE of ALL!

2. Activity

(Get cupcakes or a small cake to eat while you and your child have this discussion.)

  • Have you been to asurprise party before?
  • Why is it called asurprise party? (i.e. the person didn’t know it was going to happen)

Jesus’ disciples were SURPRISED when Jesus was crucified and died on the cross. They expected Jesus to overthrow the Roman government so that He could be saved. Instead, He was in the grave.

But nothing could equal the SURPRISE that the world experienced the very first Easter Sunday morning. The tomb was empty, and Jesus was alive!

3. Discussion

  • Do you think Jesus was surprised that He was alive?

Jesus knew exactly what was going to happen! He wasn’t surprised at all. In fact, He did it all on purpose! He died and rose again so that you and I could be forgiven for our sins. All we have to do is ask for His forgiveness!

4. Prayer Focus

Pray for your child if they want to receive Jesus as their Savior. Lead them in a prayer to receive forgiveness of their sin.

The Kingdom of God

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Jesus talked a lot about God’s “Kingdom.” Over 100 times in the gospels He mentions it, trying to explain it to people whose minds were stuck on a physical kingdom. God’s kingdom isn’t a place, it’s a state of being, where He’s the boss.

1. Read

Luke 17:20-21 [MSG] “Jesus, grilled by the Pharisees on when the kingdom of God would come, answered, ‘The kingdom of God doesn’t come by counting the days on the calendar. Nor when someone says, ‘Look here!’ or, ‘There it is!’ And why? Because God’s kingdom is already among you.”

What the pharisees couldn’t understand was that you don’t enter God’s kingdom by being born somewhere, or traveling somewhere, or waiting for some new political leader. You enter it by submitting to God’s leadership – serving Him as King.

  • Before this week’s lesson, did you think of the “Kingdom of God” as a place (like heaven), or a state of being?
  • Are there people you know who believe in God, but don’t submit to His leadership?
  • Are they in the kingdom, or not?

2. Challenge

Matthew 13:47-50 [NLT] “Again, the Kingdom of Heaven is like a fishing net that was thrown into the water and caught fish of every kind. When the net was full, they dragged it up onto the shore, sat down, and sorted the good fish into crates, but threw the bad ones away. That is the way it will be at the end of the world. The angels will come and separate the wicked people from the righteous, throwing the wicked into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

Kingdom citizenship is required to enter heaven. We have to show people the way, so they don’t wind up in that fiery furnace!

  • Who are the people in your life who need to enter God’s kingdom? Make a to-do list for this week: what can you do to point them toward Him?

3. Prayer Focus

Take some time to reaffirm your submission to God’s leadership. Ask the Holy Spirit to use your life as an inspiration to spiritually lost people around you, pointing them to Him.


Family with Small Children Discussion Guide

Buried Treasure

1. Power Verse

Matthew 6:21 “Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.”

What’s Up: “I’m Gonna Store Up Treasure In Heaven!”

This week, we finish our series called, “Living Large.” In this series, we’ve been learning how to handle our money and possessions God’s way.

2. Read

2 Corinthians 8:1-4 “Brothers and sisters, we want you to know about the grace that God has given to the churches in Macedonia.  They have suffered a great deal. But in their suffering, their joy was more than full. Even though they were very poor, they gave very freely.  I tell you that they gave as much as they could. In fact, they gave even more than they could. Completely on their own, they begged us for the chance to share in serving the Lord’s people in that way.”

3. Discussion

  • Why do you think the Macedonian churches wanted so badly to give?
  • How is it possible to give beyond your ability?
  • What does it mean to sacrifice?
  • Have you and your family given sacrificially in the past? If so, how did you feel about it?

Talk to your kids honestly about some of the ways you sacrifice for them, particularly how you sometimes give up things you want or need so that they can have things they want or need. Tell them that you willingly give up these things because you love them and it brings you joy to be able to give to them.

Then tell your kids that this week, as a family, you’re going to practice intentional sacrifice—you’re going to give up something your family wants or needs and give that item or the money you would have used to buy that item to someone else. Brainstorm for a few minutes to think of things your family enjoys or uses frequently. A few suggestions are certain foods, renting movies, eating out, etc.

Then discuss what you want to do with the money you saved. Do you want to buy some groceries or a gift card to a restaurant for another family, put gas in someone else’s car, or put the money in the offering at church? Whatever you decide to do, do it together as a family. Even if you can afford it, don’t buy the item for yourself—go the entire week without it.

4. Prayer Focus

Thank God for not only supplying everything you need, but for giving you the chance to supply someone else with what they need.

Powerful Prayer

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Let’s be honest – sometimes prayer feels like a joy and sometimes it feels like a chore. Sometimes it seems fresh and inspired; other times, it’s as mindless as reciting the pledge of allegiance to open school. When we think about the reality of hell though, our prayer life should become focused, urgent and Spirit-led.

1. Read

Jude 20:21 [ESV] “But you, beloved, building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit,  keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life.”

In order to be a beacon of light to point others to God’s salvation, your spirit and body need to be aligned with God. That happens when you pray.

  • When Jude says “praying in the Holy Spirit,” do you think he means speaking in unknown languages, or having your known-language prayer directed by the Spirit? Or is it both?
  • What are a few places in your life where your spirit and human nature get out of alignment with God’s way? Give some examples of how your effectiveness as a witness would be different with more spiritual strength in those areas.

2. Challenge

2 Corinthians 10:4 [NASB95] “For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses.

We’re not fighting physical fortresses, but strongholds in the minds of the spiritually lost that make it hard for them to receive the good news of salvation. They’re called “fortresses” for a reason – they won’t go down with half-hearted, lip-service prayer. If we intend to do battle, we need to pray like warriors!

  • What are some examples of spiritual fortresses in the minds of the spiritually lost around you?
  • Think of the most firmly-entrenched Republican or Democrat you know. Could their political views be changed by a social media post? How about a well thought-out, persuasive argument? Probably not. Now, imagine that level of mental fortress in a spiritually lost person in your life. How should that shape your prayers for them? What specifically should you ask God to do?

3. Prayer Focus

Take some time to ask God fervently to align your spirit with His, and to tear down spiritual fortresses in the minds of the spiritually lost people in your life. Be specific, use their names, pray in the Spirit, and don’t be in a hurry!


Family with Small Children Discussion Guide

Are You Smarter Than An Ant?

1. Power Verse

Matthew 6:33 “Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.”

What’s Up: “My Money Is God’s Money, So I Will Use It WELL!”

This week, we continue our series called, “Living Large”. In this series, we are learning how to handle our money and possessions God’s way.

2. Discussion

I want you to imagine that the local bank is giving out $100 bills to everyone wearing a ball cap who shows up at the bank on Monday at noon.

  • What would happen if you showed up on Sunday instead of Monday?
  • What would happen if you showed up at the right time, but didn’t have on a ball cap?
  • What would happen if you showed up at the right time wearing a cowboy hat?
  • What if you got really excited about what the bank was doing and told everybody you knew about it, but forgot to go to the bank yourself?
  • Whose fault would it be if you didn’t get the $100?

3. Read

Malachi 3:8-10 “Will a mere human being dare to steal from God? But you rob me! “You ask, ‘How are we robbing you?’ “By holding back your offerings. You also steal from me when you do not bring me a tenth of everything you produce. So you are under my curse. In fact, your whole nation is under my curse. That is because you are robbing me. Bring the entire tenth to the storerooms in my temple. Then there will be plenty of food. Test me this way,” says the Lord. “Then you will see that I will throw open the windows of heaven. I will pour out so many blessings that you will not have enough room to store them.”

  • What does God expect us to do with the money we receive?
  • How much do we pay when we tithe? For example, if you had $10, how much would you tithe on it?
  • Why do you think God asks us to tithe? Does He need the money?

4. Prayer Focus

God asks us to tithe, so we learn to trust Him instead of our money. When we obey Him by tithing, we position ourselves to be blessed in the future. Spend time thanking God for the money He’s given to you and your children and asking Him to help you trust Him enough to always pay your tithe.