Faith

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.

Erasing Hell- Part 2

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Whether it’s the night before a test, the last 2 minutes of a game, or the startling realization that you hit snooze too many times, urgency produces results. In the same way, understanding there’s a very real hell and an immanent rapture should produce a healthy dose of urgency in our Christian lives.

1. Read

1 Thessalonians 5:2 [NASB95] “For you yourselves know full well that the day of the Lord will come just like a thief in the night.”

Ever wonder why God’s timing is so secretive? Part of the reason He plays that close to the vest is that He wants us to keep ourselves ready for the rapture – close to Him and far from sin.

  • Jesus could come back for His church tomorrow. Is that more exciting or intimidating? What excites you? What intimidates you?
  • If you knew Jesus was returning 3 days from now, how would that affect your relationship with Him and your submission to Him in the various areas of your life?

2. Challenge

Mark 13:35-36 [NLT] “You, too, must keep watch! For you don’t know when the master of the household will return—in the evening, at midnight, before dawn, or at daybreak. Don’t let him find you sleeping when he arrives without warning. ”

The primary work God needs us to do is to point the people around us to salvation – both by what we say, and how we live. Without our witness, many of those people will spend an eternity in hell. We can’t fall asleep on the job – He needs us working at it every day with a sense of urgency!

  • List a few people in your sphere of influence who are in danger of hell. What could you do this week to show them what a Christian life looks like? 
  • God has given us everything we need to point spiritually lost people toward Him. What are a few of those resources He’s provided? For each one you list, how could you better take advantage of it this week?

3. Prayer Focus

Take a few minutes to thank God for being patient enough to give people time to be saved. Ask the Holy Spirit to keep you in a sense of spiritual urgency to reach people around you with the good news.


Family with Small Children Discussion Guide

God’s Never Ending Love

1. Power Verse

John 9:4 (ESV) “We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming, when no one can work.”

What’s Up: “We must all work to share God’s love!”

2. Activity

Have your children draw a picture of a giant pile of their all time favorite candy.  Hide a piece of this candy somewhere in your house where they will never be able to find it.

Have them imagine if the candy pile they drew would never run out, but somehow it just kept growing and growing.

  • What would do with all of that candy if you really had it?  
  • Where would you try to store it?  Who are some people you might share it with?  
  • Would you be willing to share it with strangers, knowing that it will never run out?

Now tell them to try and find the hidden candy, give them five minutes to try and locate it. After the time is up, take them to the hidden candy and give it to them.

3. Discussion

God has given us a giant pile of His love.  It’s more than we could ever store up and use just for ourselves.  

  • What are some ways that we could share God’s love with others?  

  • Sometimes people don’t know where to find God’s love, but we know right where it is!

  • Think together about some people you know that might need help finding God’s love.  How can we work together to help them find it?

4. Prayer Focus

Spend time thanking God for his never ending love.  Then, start praying for the people who don’t know about God’s love.

Big Impact

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We all want to have a big impact for God – to see poverty eradicated, or the lines of racism erased, to see dozens, or even hundreds of people give their lives to Jesus as a result of our service. God wants the big impact, too, but He typically accomplishes it in much subtler ways – in the little things.

1. Read

Luke 13:18-19 [NLT] “Then Jesus said, “What is the Kingdom of God like?…It is like a tiny mustard seed that a man planted in a garden; it grows and becomes a tree…”

God loves building big things out of small beginnings! Just like a mustard seed, your contribution to God’s grand, worldwide scheme might seem small, but through the Holy Spirit’s direction, little acts of obedience can produce major victories for His mission.

  • What was your missions pledge for 2019? (if you haven’t made one yet… make one!) In the grand scheme of things, does it seem like a little, or a lot? Now, think of Jesus feeding 5,000 people with 5 bread loaves and 2 fish. Did He need a lot to start with, or did He just need one person’s obedience? What sort of impact do you think God can produce through your obedience?

2. Challenge

Mark 4:32 [NIV] “Yet when planted, [the mustard seed] grows and becomes the largest of all garden plants, with such big branches that the birds can perch in its shade.”

Sometimes, it feels like we put in the work, and nothing is happening! Not every seed planted sprouts up overnight, but under the surface, the Holy Spirit is always working in the lives of people, more than we realize. Think of a few decisions you made today that were affected by your commitment to serve God. 

  • Did they have an obvious, immediate impact for His kingdom? If not, imagine some ways that little decisions might have a big impact over time.

  • List a few people who have had a large spiritual impact on you. Did they accomplish that impact in one large gesture, or was it the accumulation of a lot of seemingly-insignificant things over a period of time?

3. Prayer Focus

Take a few minutes to thank God for the people who sowed seeds of obedience so that you could hear the gospel. Ask Him to take your behaviors, your influence, your talents and your finances, and accomplish big stuff with them for His cause.


Family with Small Children Discussion Guide

Follow the Leader

1. Power Verse

Ephesians 5:1 “Follow God’s example in everything you do…”

What’s Up: “I Will Follow God’s Plan For My Money And Stuff!”

This week, we start a brand new series called, “Living Large”. In this series, we are learning how to handle our money and possessions God’s way. This week, we learned to “Follow the Leader.”

2. Activity

(Set Up: Go through your house and place a small amount of money [loose change is fine] in various locations.) Play Follow the Leader, doing the following:

  • Do fun, safe activities that lead them to the places you’ve hidden the money. Give them the money when you get there.
  • Do things that you normally wouldn’t allow your children to do, such as walk on top of the furniture, kick the walls, etc. When you stop, point out that there’s no money around.

Play Simon Says, doing the following:

  • Give fun, safe commands, such as turn in circles, jog in place, do jumping jacks, etc. After “Simon” tells them to stop, give them a coin.
  • Give commands without saying Simon says that you normally wouldn’t want your children to do, such as kick your brother, pinch your sister, pick your nose, etc. Give a coin only to the children who DIDN’T obey the command.

3. Discussion

How are these games like the way we should handle our money? 

God blesses us when we tithe and give our money because that’s what the Bible says. When we’re unsure about how to spend our money, we should follow the example or ask for help from people who are obeying God.

4. Prayer Focus

Spend time thanking God for all of the money He gives us, and ask Him to help your children spend and save it the way He wants them to.

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.

Empowered by the Spirit- Part 6

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The Holy Spirit grants a lot of different abilities to believers to accomplish His mission – from knowledge, to healing, to discernment – but it all starts with infilling, when the Holy Spirit comes upon a believer in power.

Acts 1:8 [ESV] “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses…”

God can give any ability to anyone He chooses at any time, but the example we see in scripture is that the abilities of His Spirit flow freely once a believer has been filled with, or baptized in, the Holy Spirit. If you want the abilities, you need to be filled!

Q . Speaking in unknown languages is the first noticeable sign that a person has been filled. If you’ve been Spirit-filled, what was your experience like speaking in unknown languages for the first time? How would you describe it to someone who had never been around it?

Q . If you haven’t experienced Holy Spirit infilling yet, describe your thoughts or ideas about speaking in unknown languages. Does that idea confuse or intimidate you? What would prevent you from asking God to fill you, right here, right now?

2. Challenge

Acts 2:16-17 [NLT] “No, what you see was predicted long ago by the prophet Joel: ‘In the last days,’ God says, ‘I will pour out my Spirit upon all people.’”

Spirit-empowerment is such a big deal, God wants every believer to experience it. That means you, too!

Q . If empowerment is so vital, why doesn’t every believer speak in unknown languages and operate in the special abilities of the Spirit? Is the breakdown on God’s end, or ours?

Q . In what ways has your experience with or understanding of the Holy Spirit changed during this series? What are some ways you’ve grown in that area? How can you share those experiences and new understanding with others?

3. Prayer Focus

Take a few minutes as a family: thank God for the empowerment that comes with the infilling of the Holy Spirit. Ask Him to fill and energize you to be effective accomplishing the mission He’s given you.


Family with Small Children Discussion Guide

Give Thanks

1. Power Verse

1 Chronicles 16:8 “Give thanks to the Lord and proclaim his greatness…”

What’s Up: “I Will Be Thankful Every Single Day!”

Jesus asked many questions, and from those questions and His teachings we can learn about how to live our lives. This week’s lesson is important to help us live a life of gratitude!

2. Read

Luke 17: 11-19 “Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem. He traveled along the border between Samaria and Galilee. As he was going into a village, ten men met him. They had a skin disease. They were standing close by. And they called out in a loud voice, “Jesus! Master! Have pity on us!” Jesus saw them and said, “Go. Show yourselves to the priests.” While they were on the way, they were healed. When one of them saw that he was healed, he came back. He praised God in a loud voice. He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him. The man was a Samaritan. Jesus asked, “Weren’t all ten healed? Where are the other nine? Didn’t anyone else return and give praise to God except this outsider?” Then Jesus said to him, “Get up and go. Your faith has healed you.”

Q. What was wrong with the men who stopped to meet Jesus? What did they want from Jesus?

Q. How many came back to thank Jesus?

Q. What was Jesus’ response?

3. Discussion

Ten men came to Jesus that day. Ten men had leprosy. Even though all ten men were healed, only one of them came back to thank Him. Can you believe that? How could only one person come to thank Jesus for what He had done? 

Q. Have you ever had something amazing happen in your life that you forgot to thank Jesus for?

Q. Why do you think it is so easy for us to forget to take the time to thank Him? (we get busy, we forget Jesus is the source of everything, etc)

Q. What can we do to help remember to thank Jesus for everything we receive?

4. Prayer Focus

Spend time as a family listing, making a chart, or coming up with a fun way to demonstrate all the things you are grateful for that God has given you. When you are finished, pray together and thank Him for all He has done for you!