Faith

Connect to Community

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Adult & Teen Discussion Guide

“Changing the world” is a popular idea in America – from childhood, we were told we could change the world if we try hard enough. Of course, we learned early on that this wasn’t meant to be taken literally. No one person could actually make the entire world better, right? As representatives of God, that’s exactly what we’re called to do. Make our world better, one community at a time.

1. Discussion 

Matthew 5:14-16 [ESV] “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”

God’s plan for Christians is for us – collectively – to shine light & truth into the dark world around us.

Q. When you read these verses, do you normally hear the “you” as singular, or plural?

Q. Which problems in your community do you take an active role in trying to address? Which problems do you passively accept?

Q. What are 2 or 3 problems in your community that would improve if the people involved began living God’s way?

2. Challenge

Matthew 5:3-9 [ESV] “Blessed are the poor in spirit… Blessed are those who mourn… Blessed are the meek… Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness… Blessed are the merciful… Blessed are the pure in heart… Blessed are the peacemakers.”

We impact our community by living with God’s character as our driving force. When we live a transformed life as a connected, active part of our community, we bring the creative, life-giving power of the Holy Spirit to every area, and with it, the greatest hope for change that the world has ever seen.

Q . When you edit your thoughts and actions to line up with God’s way, do you do it for the sake of God’s relationship with you, or His mission to reach the people around you?

Q . The brokenness of your community can be healed when people see the example of God’s power in your life. How does that impact the importance you put on living God’s way?

3. Prayer Focus

Take a few minutes as a family: thank God for filling your life with importance by making you part of His work to bring light to the world. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you to live His way in the context of community.


Family with Small Children Discussion Guide

Who Are You Chained To?

1. Power Verse

Proverbs 27:17 “As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend.”

What’s Up: “I Will Choose Friends Who Will Lift Me Up!”

This week, we continue our series called, “Prison Break.”  In this lesson, we learn from the example of Paul and Silas.  We learn that each of us must be careful who we connect ourselves with.  We need friends who will be willing to “sing” with us even in the darkest hours of our lives.

2. Discussion

Acts 16:25-26 About midnight Paul and Silas were praying. They were also singing hymns to God. The other prisoners were listening to them. Suddenly there was a powerful earthquake. It shook the prison from top to bottom. All at once the prison doors flew open. Everyone’s chains came loose.”

Q. What did Paul and Silas do while in prison?  Were they sad and upset?

Q. What happened to Paul and Silas while they were in jail? 

Q. What did the earthquake cause to happen?

Each one of us have days where nothing seems to be going right.  The car won’t start, traffic is backed up and makes you late for work, and you get in trouble with your boss.  Those days are very tough.  It’s easy for us to get down in the dumps and feel like we are all alone.  It’s in those moments that true godly friends can step in to lift our spirits and remind us that God is in control.

3. Challenge

Q. Do you have godly friends to help you in tough times?

Q. Have you ever faced a situation where you needed godly friends?  

Q. Did you have friends there for you?

Q. Are there any friends in your life that aren’t godly influences?

4. Prayer Focus

Pray for your children that God would lead them to godly people.  Pray for them to pick the right friends that will direct them to God, not away from God.  Pray for them if they feel like they are in bad relationships that need to change.

Connect to People

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Adult & Teen Discussion Guide

Ever try to pull a large TV out of the box, set up a tent, or hang a ceiling fan by yourself? Some things in life are just easier with help from someone else. God created humans as social beings, and if we want to experience the full life He has for us, we need to experience it in community.

1. Discussion 

Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 “Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up!”

The enemy of your soul doesn’t take a summer vacation. Life can be a constant struggle, especially when you’re walking against the grain of culture to follow God’s ways. You need people around you to pick you up when you stumble – and you need to be there for them in the same way.

Q . Who are the people in your life who pick you up when you need help? Who are the people you help?

Q . If you had a larger support group, would living for God be easier or harder? How?

2. Challenge

Ecclesiastes 4:8 [ESV] “…one person who has no other, either son or brother, yet there is no end to all his toil, and his eyes are never satisfied with riches, so that he never asks, ‘For whom am I toiling and depriving myself of pleasure?’ This also is vanity and an unhappy business.”

Because we were created to live in community, part of our sense of purpose and enjoyment in life is doing things to benefit others. When we isolate ourselves, we cut ourselves off from that sense of meaning and value in life.

Q . Think of a time when you did something selfless to benefit someone else, how did it make you feel in the moment? At the end of that day, did you feel a sense of purpose, or was it meaningless? 

Q . Do you ever feel like you’re just going through the motions in life, without any overarching direction? How do you think engaging in community to help others might change that feeling?

3. Prayer Focus

Take a few minutes as a family: thank God for the people in your life that you can lean on when times are hard. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you connect to people, not only to find help, but to find purpose.


Family with Small Children Discussion Guide

Singing In The Dark!

1. Power Verse

Psalm 34:1 “I will praise the Lord at all times. I will constantly speak his praises.”

What’s Up: “No Matter What I’m Going Through – I Will Praise The Lord!”

This week, we continue our series called, “Prison Break.” In this lesson, we learn that even in our darkest times, we should worship God! In our Bible Story, we see a great example of this when the Apostle Paul and Silas find themselves in the middle of a very BAD day! They were taken to the authorities, beaten badly, and thrown in a dark prison! But that didn’t stop them from worshiping! They knew God would take care of them, so they began singing songs of praise to God!

2. Discussion

Acts 16:16-25 One day we were going to the place of prayer. On the way we were met by a female slave. She had a spirit that helped her tell people what was going to happen. She earned a lot of money for her owners by doing this. She followed Paul and the rest of us around. She shouted, “These men serve the Most High God. They are telling you how to be saved.” She kept this up for many days. Finally Paul became upset. Turning around, he spoke to the spirit that was in her. “In the name of Jesus Christ,” he said, “I command you to come out of her!” At that very moment the spirit left the woman. Her owners realized that their hope of making money was gone. So they grabbed Paul and Silas. They dragged them into the market place to face the authorities. They brought them to the judges. “These men are Jews,” her owners said. “They are making trouble in our city. They are suggesting practices that are against Roman law. These are practices we can’t accept or take part in.” The crowd joined the attack against Paul and Silas. The judges ordered that Paul and Silas be stripped and beaten with rods. They were whipped without mercy. Then they were thrown into prison. The jailer was commanded to guard them carefully.  When he received these orders, he put Paul and Silas deep inside the prison. He fastened their feet so they couldn’t get away. About midnight Paul and Silas were praying. They were also singing hymns to God. The other prisoners were listening to them.

Q. What were Paul and Silas doing? Who was following them?

Q. What did Paul & Silas do after the slave girl kept following them? What happened next? What happened to Paul & Silas?

Q. What did Paul and Silas do while they were in their dark prison cell?

3. Challenge

Troubled times are expected in life – even for Christians! Jesus said,“In this world you will have trouble.” But there’s no reason to quit when we face hard times. Jesus also said,“Take heart! I have overcome the world!” That’s a reason to celebrate! That’s a reason to praise God and worship Him for helping us, even in our darkest times!

Q. Have you ever had a really, really bad day? What happened? 

Q. When you’re facing tough times, what should you do? 

Q. How should you respond?

Q. Why should we worship God during our darkest times?

4. Prayer Focus

Pray that your children won’t be surprised when troubles come, but that instead they will be ready. Pray that they will decide not to quit and to worship God, even in their darkest times. Spend some time in worship and thanking God together!

Connect to God

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Adult & Teen Discussion Guide

Jesus didn’t come to the earth, live as a human for 33 years, and die a brutal death so we could experience a “pretty good” life – He came so we could experience it abundantly! God wants the best for us, and that starts when we connect to our Creator.

1. Discussion 

John 1:4 [ESV] “In him was life, and the life was the light of men.”

From the very beginning, the very source of life has been a connection between God and humankind. That divine connection was lost when sin entered the world, but a loving God has made a way for us to regain purpose and vitality in every part of life – even though our physical bodies are still decaying under the curse of sin.

Q . When are the times you feel the most “connected” to God? When are the times you feel least “connected?”

Q . Do you think God’s plan is for you to experience his light in some parts of life, or in all?

Q . If God’s light is relegated to a few areas in your life, who do you think put up the boundaries – you or Him?

2. Challenge

John 14:16–17 [ESV] “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.”

More than just being near God, He sent His Holy Spirit so He could be in us, bringing His perspective and growing His character from the inside out.

Q . What are some ways that the Holy Spirit influences your life?

Q . What’s one area of your life that would improve if the Holy Spirit became more involved in it?

3. Prayer Focus

Take a few minutes as a family: thank God for reaching out to reconnect with you. Ask the Holy Spirit to bring His perspective and character into more areas of your lives.


Family with Small Children Discussion Guide

Breaking Free!

1. Power Verse

John 8:36 “So if the Son sets you free, you are truly free.”

What’s Up: “I Know God Can Set Me FREE!”

This week, we continue our series called, “Prison Break.” In this week’s lesson, we learn that God is able to set us free from any prison that we are in. Even when it seems like God has forgotten us, He will always come through – right on time!

2. Discussion

Acts 12 About that time Herod the king laid violent hands on some who belonged to the church. So Peter was kept in prison, but earnest prayer for him was made to God by the church. Now when Herod was about to bring him out, on that very night, Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains, and sentries before the door were guarding the prison. And behold, an angel of the Lord stood next to him, and a light shone in the cell. He struck Peter on the side and woke him, saying, “Get up quickly.” And the chains fell off his hands. And the angel said to him, “Dress yourself and put on your sandals.” And he did so. And he said to him, “Wrap your cloak around you and follow me.” And he went out and followed him. He did not know that what was being done by the angel was real, but thought he was seeing a vision. When they had passed the first and the second guard, they came to the iron gate leading into the city. It opened for them of its own accord, and they went out and went along one street, and immediately the angel left him.  When Peter came to himself, he said, “Now I am sure that the Lord has sent his angel and rescued me from the hand of Herod and from all that the Jewish people were expecting.”When he realized this, he went to the house of Mary, the mother of John whose other name was Mark, where many were gathered together and were praying. And when he knocked at the door of the gateway, a servant girl named Rhoda came to answer. Recognizing Peter’s voice, in her joy she did not open the gate but ran in and reported that Peter was standing at the gate. They said to her, “You are out of your mind.” But she kept insisting that it was so, and they kept saying, “It is his angel!” But Peter continued knocking, and when they opened, they saw him and were amazed.” 

Q. Did the religious leaders like that Peter was preaching and teaching about Jesus? What did they do to Peter?

Q. What happened while Peter was sleeping? What did the angel help Peter do?

Q. Where did Peter go when he got out of prison?

3. Challenge

Prisons come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. Sometimes they are prisons of circumstances that are forced on us. Other times, they are prisons of our own making. No matter what kind of prison we find ourselves in, we can rest assured that God is able to set us free! All we must do is call on God, and He will provide a way of escape. He may not come in the exact way or time that we want, but God will always come through.

Q. Has there ever been a time you felt like you were in a “prison”? Did you rely on God to set you free?

4. Prayer Focus

Pray for your children if they are going through a “prison” in their life. Pray that they will have God’s peace. Pray that they will trust God’s timing. Pray that God will set them FREE from their prison, today. Pray that they will trust in God in future “prisons” they go through.

 

Into All the World

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Adult & Teen Discussion Guide

You know as a Christian, you’re supposed to make disciples – but what’s the best way? And who should be doing the heavy lifting? As it turns out, “evangelism” is a lot bigger – and subtler – than you often think, and the right person to carry it out is you!

1. Discussion 

1 Peter 2:9 [NLT]  “…You are a chosen people. You are royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light.”

The calling – and blessing – to serve as a representative of God is on every believer, including you! As you show people what it looks like to be brought from darkness into light, God will draw them to repentance and life change.

Q . Do you feel like God has a “call on your life?” If so, how would you describe it to someone?

Q . When you consider God’s plans for you, do you think of them more as things He wants you to do, or ways He wants you to be? Which should take priority?

2. Challenge

Matthew 5:16 [GNT] “In the same way your light must shine before people, so that they will see the good things you do and praise your Father in heaven.”

When it comes to fulfilling God’s call to make disciples, we’re always “on the clock.” His influence on your attitudes, your perspectives, and your actions, should touch every aspect of life. 

In that way, you’ll be showing people what God has done inside you and pointing them to Him.

Q . What’s an activity or scenario in your life where it’s easy to spot God’s influence? What’s one where it’s difficult?

Q . How could you go about increasing God’s influence in that area?

3. Prayer Focus

Take a few minutes as a family: thank God for calling you to be part of such an important assignment. Ask the Holy Spirit to increase His influence in parts of your life that you’ve never considered before, so you can be more effective at making disciples.


Family with Small Children Discussion Guide

Unstoppable

1. Power Verse

Job 42:2 “I know that you can do anything, and no one can stop you.”

What’s Up: “Nothing Can Stop The Work Of God!”

This week, we start a brand new series called, “Prison Break.” In this week’s lesson, we learn that NOTHING can stop God’s plan. Through the apostles’ Prison Break, we learn that God is more powerful than anything and everything in this world!

2. Discussion

 

Acts 5:12-42 

The Apostles Heal Many People

12 The apostles did many signs and wonders among the people. All the believers used to meet together at Solomon’s Porch. 13 No outsider dared to join them. But the people thought highly of them. 14 More and more men and women believed in the Lord. They joined the other believers. 15 So people brought those who were sick into the streets. They placed them on beds and mats. They hoped that at least Peter’s shadow might fall on some of them as he walked by. 16 Crowds even gathered from the towns around Jerusalem. They brought their sick people. They also brought those who were suffering because of evil spirits. All of them were healed.

The Apostles Are Treated Badly

17 The high priest and all his companions were Sadducees. They were very jealous of the apostles. 18 So they arrested them and put them in the public jail. 19 But during the night an angel of the Lord came. He opened the doors of the jail and brought the apostles out. 20 “Go! Stand in the temple courtyard,” the angel said. “Tell the people all about this new life.”

21 Early the next day they did as they had been told. They entered the temple courtyard. There they began to teach the people.

The high priest and his companions arrived. They called the Sanhedrin together. The Sanhedrin was a gathering of all the elders of Israel. They sent for the apostles who were in jail. 22 The officers arrived at the jail. But they didn’t find the apostles there. So they went back and reported it. 23 “We found the jail locked up tight,” they said. “The guards were standing at the doors. But when we opened the doors, we didn’t find anyone inside.” 24 When the captain of the temple guard and the chief priests heard this report, they were bewildered. They wondered what would happen next.

25 Then someone came and said, “Look! The men you put in jail are standing in the temple courtyard. They are teaching the people.” 26 So the captain went with his officers and brought the apostles back. But they didn’t use force. They were afraid the people would kill them by throwing stones at them.

27 They brought the apostles to the Sanhedrin. The high priest questioned them. 28 “We gave you clear orders not to teach in Jesus’ name,” he said. “But you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching. You want to make us guilty of this man’s death.”

29 Peter and the other apostles replied, “We must obey God instead of people! 30 You had Jesus killed by nailing him to a cross. But the God of our people raised Jesus from the dead. 31 Now Jesus is Prince and Savior. God has proved this by giving Jesus a place of honor with him. He did it to turn Israel away from their sins and forgive them. 32 We are telling people about these things. And so is the Holy Spirit. God has given the Spirit to those who obey him.”

33 When the leaders heard this, they became very angry. They wanted to put the apostles to death. 34 But a Pharisee named Gamaliel stood up in the Sanhedrin. He was a teacher of the law. He was honored by all the people. He ordered the apostles to be taken outside for a little while. 35 Then Gamaliel spoke to the Sanhedrin. “Men of Israel,” he said, “think carefully about what you plan to do to these men. 36 Some time ago Theudas appeared. He claimed he was really somebody. About 400 people followed him. But he was killed. All his followers were scattered. So they accomplished nothing. 37 After this, Judas from Galilee came along. This was in the days when the Romans made a list of all the people. Judas led a gang of men against the Romans. He too was killed. All his followers were scattered. 38 So let me give you some advice. Leave these men alone! Let them go! If their plans and actions only come from people, they will fail. 39 But if their plans come from God, you won’t be able to stop these men. You will only find yourselves fighting against God.”

40 His speech won the leaders over. They called the apostles in and had them whipped. The leaders ordered them not to speak in Jesus’ name. Then they let the apostles go.

41 The apostles were full of joy as they left the Sanhedrin. They considered it an honor to suffer shame for the name of Jesus. 42 Every day they taught in the temple courtyards and from house to house. They never stopped telling people the good news that Jesus is the Messiah.

3. Challenge

Q. Was everyone happy about what the disciples  were doing? What happened to the apostles? Did they stay there? Were the apostle able to keep preaching & teaching?

Q. What can we do when it seems like the enemy is trying to stop God’s plan?

As Christians, we have a very real enemy – the devil. The Bible says that the enemy has come to steal, kill, and destroy. The devil will try anything and everything in order to try to stop God’s plan.The early Church learned this the hard way. The apostles found themselves thrown in prison simply for preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

4. Prayer Focus

Lead your children in a prayer of thanksgiving that God is unstoppable! His plan is unstoppable! Pray that God will help them be bold!

Holy Spirit Empowered

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Adult & Teen Discussion Guide

Sharing your faith with friends and family can be intimidating. “What if they don’t believe me? What if they think I’m crazy? What if I totally mess up the message?” On our own, it would be impossible to fulfill God’s vision to reach people who need Him. The good news is, we’re not on our own – the Holy Spirit is with us!

1. The Holy Spirit will give us boldness to share the message.

Acts 1:8 [ESV]  “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”

Being filled with the Spirit is not just about speaking in unknown languages – He works in us to give us courage to speak up, and the right words to say. Even if you’re naturally timid and soft-spoken, He will help you to share with the people in your life who need to hear it.

Q. What’s something in life you’d love to do, but are too scared/nervous to try?

Q. Trusting the Holy Spirit to give you courage in the moment you need it, what possibly-intimidating interactions with friends and family could you initiate this week?

2. The Holy Spirit will give weight to our words.

John 6:44 [NLT] “For no one can come to me (Jesus) unless the Father who sent me draws them to me…”

The Holy Spirit not only gives you the confidence to share, but when you do, it’s His influence that causes your words to ring true in the hearts of the people who hear. 

Q. Can you remember a time when you heard something at church or from another believer, and you felt like it was speaking “directly to you?” How did that change the way you responded to what was said?

Q. Trusting the Holy Spirit to cause the words to resonate with those who hear, what would you say to your friends & family who don’t know God?

3. Prayer Focus

Take a few minutes as a family: thank God for sending the Holy Spirit to help you accomplish His mission. Ask Him for boldness to share your faith this week with the people in your life who need Him.


Family with Small Children Discussion Guide

1. Power Verse

Matthew 7:1 “Do not judge, or you too will be judged.”  

Watts Up: “God Is The Judge, And I AM NOT!”

This week, we continue the series called, “Ouch!” This week, we learn not to be a “rock thrower” judging others, but to be a “grace giver” instead.

2. Bible Reading

John 8:1-11 “But Jesus went to the Mount of Olives… All the people gathered around him there. He sat down to teach them. The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman… They said to Jesus, ‘Teacher, this woman was caught sleeping with a man who was not her husband. In the Law, Moses commanded us to kill such women by throwing stones at them. Now what do you say?’ They were trying to trap Jesus with that question…. So he stood up and said to them, ‘Has any one of you not sinned? Then you be the first to throw a stone at her.’ He bent down again and wrote on the ground. Those who heard what he had said began to go away. They left one at a time, the older ones first. Soon only Jesus was left. The woman was still standing there. Jesus stood up and asked her, ‘Woman, where are they? Hasn’t anyone found you guilty?’  ‘No one, sir,’ she said. ‘Then I don’t find you guilty either,’ Jesus said. ‘Go now and leave your life of sin.’”

3. Discussion

Q. Who brought the woman to Jesus & why?

Q.  What was Jesus’ response? Were the Pharisees innocent?

Have you ever known someone that was SO BAD that you thought, “They could NEVER become a Christian!” OR have you ever known someone who had done so many sinful things that you thought, “That person sure does deserve some punishment!”  Well, that’s exactly what the Pharisees thought when they brought the woman to Jesus in today’s Bible Story. This woman had been caught sinning. She had a bad reputation and everyone seemed to know that she was guilty of sin. The Pharisees brought her before Jesus, and they planned to “stone” her.

Q. Have you ever been a “rock thrower” instead of a “grace giver”?

Q. What do you think you could do instead of judging others?

4. Prayer Focus

Pray for your children if they have been guilty of judging others and “throwing rocks” at others. Pray that they will remember that they are sinners too. Pray they will receive forgiveness for their sins (including for judging others) and choose to be a “Grace Giver” like Jesus.

Motivation

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Adult & Teen Discussion Guide

Sharing your faith with friends and family members who don’t know God takes effort – it takes prayer and patience and strategy. Why do we do it, then? We do it because someone’s future and present depend on it.

1. Bible Knowledge

Revelation 20:15 [ESV] “And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.”

If someone stands before God’s judgment throne and their name isn’t recorded in the Book of Life, they’ll be thrown into hell. It’s harsh and scary, but true. The first thing that should motivate us to share faith is the reality that someone’s eternal destination depends on it.

Q. Did you consider the reality of hell when you decided to make Jesus Lord?

Q. When you think about the possibility of a friend or family member ending up there, how does that make you feel? Scared? Angry? Sad? Motivated?

2. Challenge

John 10:10 [ESV]  “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” 

Accepting Jesus as Lord will save someone from hell, but it’s not just about eternity. A relationship with God brings peace, purpose, comfort, direction, and many other wonderful things in this life. When you share your faith with someone, you’re inviting them to experience this mortal life to the fullest – making life better.

Q. What are some of the benefits of a relationship with God that you’ve experienced in this life?

Q. Which of those benefits would you most like your unsaved family and friends to experience?

Q. How can you weave those benefits into your testimony as you share your faith with people?

3. Prayer Focus

Take a few minutes as a family: thank God for saving you from eternal destruction and for benefiting your mortal life in so many ways. Ask the Holy Spirit to motivate you like never before to share the good news of salvation with the people around you who need it.


Family with Small Children Discussion Guide

1. Power Verse

1 Thessalonians 5:22 “Stay away from every kind of evil.” 

Watts Up:  “I’ll Do Whatever It Takes To STAY AWAY From Sin!”

This week, we continue our series called, “Ouch!” In this series, we learn about powerful truths Jesus taught when he preached the Sermon on the Mount. In this lesson, we learn about Jesus’ teaching of “if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off!” Of course, Jesus didn’t mean this literally, but He was serious about each of us being willing to “cut off” and “cut out” of our lives every attitude, action, and habit that is sinful!

2. Bible Reading

2 Kings 21:1-16 “Manasseh was 12 years old when he became king. He ruled in Jerusalem for 55 years…3 Manasseh also set up altars to the god named Baal. Manasseh even bowed down to all the stars. And he worshiped them…10 The Lord spoke through his servants the prophets. He said, 11 ‘Manasseh, the king of Judah, has committed terrible sins. I hate them.’ 16 And he [King Manasseh] caused Judah to commit sin. So they also did what was evil in the eyes of the Lord.”

2 Kings 22:1-2, 23:24-25 “Josiah was eight years old when he became king… Josiah did what was right in the eyes of the Lord. He lived the way King David had lived. He didn’t turn away from it to the right or the left. 24He got rid of the statues of family gods and the statues of other gods. He got rid of everything else the Lord hates that was in Judah and Jerusalem. 25 He obeyed the Lord with all his heart and all his soul.”

3. Discussion

Q. Who became king in the story?

Q. Who did King Josiah think the people should worship?

Q. Have you ever wanted something SO BAD that you were willing to do ANYTHING to get it? 

Q. Have you had the attitude of “whatever it takes” – nothing was going to stop you?

Well, that is exactly the attitude that Jesus says we are supposed to have when it comes to staying away from sin. We are supposed to be willing to do whatever it takes to keep sin out of our lives.

Q. Do you have that kind of attitude about keeping sin out of your life?

Q. Do you have things that you need to “cut out” of your life? 

Q. What are some of those things?

4. Prayer Focus

Pray with your child about things in their life that they need to “cut off.” Pray for them for forgiveness of sin and God’s help to stay away from sin. Pray that they will not try to see how close they can get to sin, but rather how FAR AWAY they can stay from sin!

We are Better Together

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Family Devotional Adult 9-24-17

Family Devotional Kids 9-24-17

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Adult & Teen Discussion Guide

1. Primary Statement

We live in a culture where people are becoming more and more isolated. From online shopping to text messages, technology is slowly chipping away at the social interactions in our lives, and leaving us vulnerable to the strategies of our spiritual enemy. The life God has planned for us is one that’s lived together in community.

2. Bible Verse

Isolation leaves you weak.

Ecclesiastes 4:1 [NLT] “Again, I observed all the oppression that takes place under the sun. I saw the tears of the oppressed, with no one to comfort them. The oppressors have great power, and their victims are helpless.” 

Q. Have you ever felt alone, even around people? 

Q. Think of the time(s) in your life when you felt the most isolated. How close to God did you feel in that time? How fulfilled or unsatisfied did you feel?

3. Discussion

Strength and purpose is found in sharing life with each other.

Ecclesiastes 4:12 [NLT] “A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.”

When we work together, we’ve got each others’ backs. We can be an encouragement when someone else is down, a word of caution when someone else is straying off God’s path – and they can be that for us. When we pour into someone else’s life, we can find the purpose and value in our own. 

Q. How connected do you feel to others today? How about in the church?

Q. If you’re more isolated than you want / should be, what steps can you take this week to help change the situation?

4. Prayer Focus

Take a few minutes as a family and thank God for the people that He’s put in your life. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you to start and invest in relationships that will help you and others live stronger, God-pleasing lives.


Family with Small Children Discussion Guide

1. Power Verse

John 16:33  “I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”

“No Matter What Happens – Jesus Gives Me Peace!”

In our brand new series, “Soul Food”, we will find out the key ingredients for a healthy Christian life.  This week, we learn that suffering is one of those ingredients.  Too many people have the idea that once you become a Christian, everything is going to go smoothly and you will never have a tough time in life.  But that is not what Jesus taught us.  Suffering isn’t only a “possibility” – Jesus said it is a guarantee.  Bad things will happen to us even as we follow Him.  Suffering is part of the deal.

2. Bible Reading

Read:  Acts 6:8-7:54

Stephen was full of God’s grace and power. He did great wonders and signs among the people. But members of the group called the Synagogue of the Freedmen began to oppose him. Some of them were Jews from Cyrene and Alexandria. Others were Jews from Cilicia and Asia Minor. They all began to argue with Stephen. 10 But he was too wise for them. That’s because the Holy Spirit gave Stephen wisdom whenever he spoke.

11 Then in secret they talked some men into lying about Stephen. They said, “We heard Stephen speak evil things against Moses and against God.”

12 So the people were stirred up. The elders and the teachers of the law were stirred up too. They arrested Stephen and brought him to the Sanhedrin. 13 They found witnesses who were willing to tell lies. These liars said, “This fellow never stops speaking against this holy place. He also speaks against the law. 14 We have heard him say that this Jesus of Nazareth will destroy this place. He says Jesus will change the practices that Moses handed down to us.”

15 All who were sitting in the Sanhedrin looked right at Stephen. They saw that his face was like the face of an angel.

Stephen Speaks to the Sanhedrin

Then the high priest questioned Stephen. “Is what these people are saying true?” he asked.

“Brothers and fathers, listen to me!” Stephen replied. “The God of glory appeared to our father Abraham. At that time Abraham was still in Mesopotamia. He had not yet begun living in Harran. ‘Leave your country and your people,’ God said. ‘Go to the land I will show you.’ (Genesis 12:1)

“So Abraham left the land of Babylonia. He settled in Harran. After his father died, God sent Abraham to this land where you are now living. God didn’t give him any property here. He didn’t even give him enough land to set his foot on. But God made a promise to him and to all his family after him. He said they would possess the land. The promise was made even though at that time Abraham had no child. Here is what God said to him. ‘For 400 years your family after you will be strangers in a country not their own. They will be slaves and will be treated badly. But I will punish the nation that makes them slaves,’ God said. ‘After that, they will leave that country and worship me here.’ (Genesis 15:13,14) Then God made a covenant with Abraham. God told him that circumcision would show who the members of the covenant were. Abraham became Isaac’s father. He circumcised Isaac eight days after he was born. Later, Isaac became Jacob’s father. Jacob had 12 sons. They became the founders of the 12 tribes of Israel.

“Jacob’s sons were jealous of their brother Joseph. So they sold him as a slave. He was taken to Egypt. But God was with him. 10 He saved Joseph from all his troubles. God made Joseph wise. He helped him to become the friend of Pharaoh, the king of Egypt. So Pharaoh made Joseph ruler over Egypt and his whole palace.

11 “There was not enough food for all Egypt and Canaan. This brought great suffering. Jacob and his sons couldn’t find food. 12 But Jacob heard that there was grain in Egypt. So he sent his sons on their first visit. 13 On their second visit, Joseph told his brothers who he was. Pharaoh learned about Joseph’s family. 14 After this, Joseph sent for his father Jacob and his whole family. The total number of people was 75. 15 Then Jacob went down to Egypt. There he and his family died. 16 Some of their bodies were brought back to Shechem. They were placed in a tomb Abraham had bought. He had purchased it from Hamor’s sons at Shechem. He had purchased it for a certain amount of money.

17 “In Egypt the number of our people grew and grew. It was nearly time for God to make his promise to Abraham come true. 18 Then ‘a new king came to power in Egypt. Joseph didn’t mean anything to him.’ (Exodus 1:8) 19 The king was very evil and dishonest with our people. He treated them badly. He forced them to throw out their newborn babies to die.

20 “At that time Moses was born. He was not an ordinary child. For three months he was taken care of by his family. 21 Then he was placed outside. But Pharaoh’s daughter took him home. She brought him up as her own son. 22 Moses was taught all the knowledge of the people of Egypt. He became a powerful speaker and a man of action.

23 “When Moses was 40 years old, he decided to visit the people of Israel. They were his own people. 24 He saw one of them being treated badly by an Egyptian. So he went to help him. He got even by killing the man. 25 Moses thought his own people would realize that God was using him to save them. But they didn’t. 26 The next day Moses saw two Israelites fighting. He tried to make peace between them. ‘Men, you are both Israelites,’ he said. ‘Why do you want to hurt each other?’

27 “But the man who was treating the other one badly pushed Moses to one side. He said, ‘Who made you ruler and judge over us? 28 Are you thinking of killing me as you killed the Egyptian yesterday?’ (Exodus 2:14) 29 When Moses heard this, he escaped to Midian. He lived there as an outsider. He became the father of two sons there.

30 “Forty years passed. Then an angel appeared to Moses in the flames of a burning bush. This happened in the desert near Mount Sinai. 31 When Moses saw the bush, he was amazed. He went over for a closer look. There he heard the Lord say, 32 ‘I am the God of your fathers. I am the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.’ (Exodus 3:6) Moses shook with fear. He didn’t dare to look.

33 “Then the Lord said to him, ‘Take off your sandals. You must do this because the place where you are standing is holy ground. 34 I have seen my people beaten down in Egypt. I have heard their groans. I have come down to set them free. Now come. I will send you back to Egypt.’ (Exodus 3:5,7,8,10)

35 “This is the same Moses the two men of Israel would not accept. They had said, ‘Who made you ruler and judge?’ But God himself sent Moses to rule the people of Israel and set them free. He spoke to Moses through an angel. The angel had appeared to him in the bush. 36 So Moses led them out of Egypt. He did wonders and signs in Egypt, at the Red Sea, and for 40 years in the desert.

37 “This is the same Moses who spoke to the Israelites. ‘God will send you a prophet,’ he said. ‘He will be like me. He will come from your own people.’ (Deuteronomy 18:15) 38 Moses was with the Israelites in the desert. He was with the angel who spoke to him on Mount Sinai. Moses was with our people of long ago. He received living words to pass on to us.

39 “But our people refused to obey Moses. They would not accept him. In their hearts, they wished they were back in Egypt. 40 They told Aaron, ‘Make us a god who will lead us. This fellow Moses brought us up out of Egypt. But we don’t know what has happened to him!’ (Exodus 32:1) 41 That was the time they made a statue to be their god. It was shaped like a calf. They brought sacrifices to it. They even enjoyed what they had made with their own hands. 42 But God turned away from them. He let them go on worshiping the sun, moon and stars. This agrees with what is written in the book of the prophets. There it says,

“ ‘People of Israel, did you bring me sacrifices and offerings
    for 40 years in the desert?
43 You have taken with you the shrine of your false god Molek.
    You have taken with you the star of your false god Rephan.
    You made statues of those gods to worship.
So I will send you away from your country.’ (Amos 5:25–27)
    God sent them to Babylon and even farther.

44 “Long ago our people were in the desert. They had with them the holy tent. The tent was where the tablets of the covenant law were kept. Moses had made the holy tent as God had commanded him. Moses made it like the pattern he had seen. 45 Our people received the tent from God. Then they brought it with them when they took the land of Canaan. God drove out the nations that were in their way. At that time Joshua was Israel’s leader. The tent remained in the land until David’s time. 46 David was blessed by God. So David asked if he could build a house for the God of Jacob. 47 But it was Solomon who built the temple for God.

48 “But the Most High God does not live in houses made by human hands. As God says through the prophet,

49 “ ‘Heaven is my throne.
    The earth is under my control.
What kind of house will you build for me?
    says the Lord.
    Where will my resting place be?
50 Didn’t my hand make all these things?’ (Isaiah 66:1,2)

51 “You stubborn people! You won’t obey! You won’t listen! You are just like your people of long ago! You always oppose the Holy Spirit! 52 Was there ever a prophet your people didn’t try to hurt? They even killed those who told about the coming of the Blameless One. And now you have handed him over to his enemies. You have murdered him. 53 The law you received was given by angels. But you haven’t obeyed it.”

Stephen Is Killed

54 When the members of the Sanhedrin heard this, they became very angry. They were so angry they ground their teeth at Stephen.

Q. What did Stephen do that didn’t sit well with the other religious leaders?

Q. What were they afraid would happen if Stephen continued?

Q. What did the religious leaders do to ruin Stephen’s reputation?  What did they do when that didn’t stop Stephen from sharing about Jesus?

Q. What did Stephen look to Heaven and say right before he died?

3. Discussion

Life is full of troubles and difficulties.  Each day, we will be in a fight against our enemy, the devil.  But Jesus has already defeated the devil, so we do not have to be afraid or worried.  Although life is full of “many trials and sorrows,” we can have peace in our hearts and minds because Jesus has “overcome the world.”  If we trust Him and never give up, we will win the victory!

Q. What are some ways that you might suffer for your faith today?

Q. How should you prepare yourself for the suffering you know will eventually happen as a follower of Jesus?

4. Prayer Focus

Pray that your children will not be afraid or discouraged when suffering comes their way.  Pray that they will stand firm in their faith in Jesus.  Pray that they will take heart, knowing that He has overcome the world!