Salvation

Happiness=Forgiveness

Posted on Updated on

  

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

Posted on Updated on



 Download pdf button devotional blue   

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

Posted on Updated on


 Download pdf button devotional blue   

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

Posted on Updated on

 Download pdf button devotional blue  

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

Posted on Updated on

 Download pdf button devotional blue  

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.

God’s Plan of Salvation Involves Us

Posted on

dome of the rock

This morning I was studying Isaiah chapter 49.  Notice with me verses 8-9.

This is what the Lord says: “In the time of my favor I will answer you, and in the day of salvation I will help you; I will keep you and will make you to be a covenant for the people, to restore the land and to reassign its desolate inheritances, to say to the captives, ‘Come out,’ and to those in darkness, ‘Be free!’ “They will feed beside the roads and find pasture on every barren hill.”

This chapter is speaking about the restoration of the nation of Israel.  While there is a direct prophetic word for Israel here I believe that there is also a word for you and I and all Christians in these verses as well.

Israel was called by God to bring forth his plan of salvation to the world.

Through their lineage, Jesus was born and became God’s perfect sacrifice to pay the penalty for mankind’s sin.  Through several different periods of history Israel fell away and later came back to God. Why was God so patient with this very obstinate people?  Because it was through his covenant with them that he intended to redeem the entire world.  His love for all people through all time is reflected in his great patience and perseverance with Israel.

This is wonderful but what I really want you to see is the result of all of this.  It’s seen in these verses from Isaiah.  Notice the things that God’s people will do after God has kept them.

“You will be a covenant for the people…”– it is through God’s people that he will relate to this world.  That’s you and me.  

2 Corinthians 5:20 says…  “We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.

It’s through you and me that God is working out his plan of salvation in the world:

  • To restore the land and to reassign its desolate inheritances.  Sons and daughters of God have been kidnapped by sin and their lives are being ravaged by its affects upon them.  They were created to be in fellowship with God and receive an inheritance as one of God’s children.  Through you and me, they regain their “desolate inheritance!”  We are taking back what Satan has stolen!
  • To say to the captives, ‘Come out,’ and to those in darkness, ‘Be free!’   What an awesome privilege you and I have.  We are in the business of bringing people into freedom and out of the darkness.

Today let’s pray diligently for those whose lives we will intersect today.  We have too big an assignment to fail!

Blessings

Do You Believe in Jesus?

Posted on

Over the past few weeks I have been really looking at the sixteenth chapter of John.  Jesus is preparing his disciples for his death, resurrection, ascension, and the coming of the Holy Spirit.  In the midst of this teaching there are a couple of verses of scripture that establish a theological and practical truth in my life.  In verses eight and nine we read…

John 16:8–9 (ESV)  “And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment:  concerning sin, because they do not believe in me… “

Here’s the truth… All sin rests in unbelief.

So often in our world we think of faith and Christianity in terms of things that you have to do.  You have to go to church, give in the offering, tell the truth, etc…  However, have you ever thought about Christianity in terms of things that you don’t do?  I don’t mean things that you shouldn’t do; we get wrapped up in that at times as well.  I mean, have you ever considered that there are things that if left out of your journey towards God, greatly affect your potential destination.

Maybe, simply put it’s like making a cake.  There are certain things that you MUST put in.  Flour, eggs, milk, sugar, and of course chocolate!  Leave any of these out and the chances of having a good cake diminish greatly.  The chocolate is just my personal favorite.  Anyway, I’m sure you see where I’m headed.  There are certain indispensible ingredients.  Leave any one of them out and well…you don’t have a cake.

In my walk with Christ it’s like this as well.  Without an ever-increasing belief, sin creeps into my life.  Or said differently, there is a direct correlation between the degree of sin in my life and the degree to which I believe in Jesus.  You might say in response, “But I believe completely in Jesus!”  Really?  Let’s see.

Jesus said he would never leave nor forsake us.  For me that means that He is literally with me every moment of every day.  When I turn on the television or sit down and watch a movie, do I allow something to enter into my mind and spirit that is clearly in opposition to Jesus’ teachings?  When jealousy or pride shows itself in my heart because of some success that some other minister is having or when I secretly celebrate another person’s downfall or mistake, don’t I have to ignore or not believe that Jesus is still with me in order to maintain those thoughts?  You see, there really is a direct connection between how much I believe in Jesus and how much I sin.

Am I still saved during those moments?  Absolutely, God’s grace is always bigger than my sin as long as there is any belief in me at all, but I don’t only want enough belief to make it to heaven, I want enough to live an overcoming, Spirit-directed, Christ honoring life before the lost of this world.  For that I need more belief.  How much more?  I don’t know.  More every day!

Blessings