Great Stories of the Bible

The Holy Spirit in You

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Resistance. Let’s face it – nobody likes it. Resistance is uncomfortable. Push-back on your “great idea” is discouraging. The counterpoint to your great political argument is frustrating. When it comes to your spiritual life, though, resistance is a given – and if you find it’s missing, you’re probably unhealthy.

1. Read

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… You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.”

The Holy Spirit has always been working with humankind to accomplish God’s will, but thanks to Jesus, He’s not just around us anymore. He’s within us, resurrecting the God-nature in us, so that we’re not bound to follow our urges and instincts anymore.

  • Name a few examples of things in your life that you would do differently, were it not for God’s influence in your life. Imagine those things uninhibited, like a runaway train in your life. 
  • Would that outcome make you healthier? 
  • A better friend or family member?

2. Challenge

Galatians 5:17 [NLT] “The sinful nature wants to do evil, which is just the opposite of what the Spirit wants. And the Spirit gives us desires that are the opposite of what the sinful nature desires. These two forces are constantly fighting each other, so you are not free to carry out your good intentions.”

The Holy Spirit inside of you leads you toward His character, His desires, and ultimately, His actions. The problem is, your human nature still wants what it wants. As long as the Holy Spirit is leading you, there will be resistance. It’s not a sign of your weakness; it’s a sign that something is working!

  • What’s an area of your life that you’ve felt resistance on this week? Which way won out in the end – God’s or yours? 
  • Imagine getting better at His way, until the point where you become an expert in that area. Would that outcome make you healthier? A better friend or family member?

3. Prayer Focus

When you talk to God today, thank the Holy Spirit for bringing the resistance to your human nature. Ask Him to help you lean on His power, so that you can win more and more of those battles with sin.


Family with Small Children Discussion Guide

“Come Home: A Loving Father”

1. Power Verse

1 John 3:1 “See how very much our heavenly Father loves us, for he allows us to be called his children.”

What’s Up: “I Know God’s Arms Are Always Open!”

This week, we continue our series called, “Come Home.” In this series, we’re learning from the Parable of the Prodigal Son the importance of living at home – living in the Kingdom of God!

2. Bible Reading

Give several coins to your children and tell them to pretend that each coin is worth a million dollars.  Let them count the coins and figure out how much money they’re worth.  Ask them how they’d feel if they had that much money.

Have your children put all of the coins in a pile in front of you and leave the room.  While they’re gone, take one of the coins and hide it.  Call your children back in the room and have them count the coins again.  When they realize a coin is missing, tell them that it’s lost and they need to find it.  Let your children hunt for the coin until they find it.

3. Discussion

  • How would you feel if these coins were really worth a million dollars and you lost one of them?
  • If you lost one of them, would you just stand there hoping it would show up? Why not?
  • How would you feel once you found the lost coin?
  • If we are the coins, how does God feel about us? If we turn our backs on Him, what does He do?
  • How does God feel and what does He do when we come back?

If we ever turn our backs on God, He will do whatever it takes to bring us back to Him.  And once we return, He celebrates!  Remember, you can always come home!

4. Pray

Thank God for caring enough about each of you to pursue you even if you leave Him.  Ask Him to help you to never turn your back on Him.

God’s Presence in our Lives

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Have you ever tried to do a job with the wrong tool? Or maybe with no tools at all? It’s amazing how difficult an otherwise-easy fix becomes if you go about it the wrong way. The same thing is true for your spiritual life. If you’re trying it on your own, you’re working too hard!

1. Read

John 14:26 [ESV] “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.”

You wouldn’t try to loosen the lug nuts on a car wheel or mix cookie dough with your bare hands! It takes the right tool to do the job. The Holy Spirit inside of you is an amazing gift – He gives you the strength and perspective you need to live the God-life the way you’re supposed to.

  • What’s one battleground area in your life where doing things God’s way is difficult for you? 
  • What are the try-hard, effort-based things you do to steer your life His way in that area? 
  • How would your win/loss ratio in that area change if your default actions or thoughts (without any conscious decision) leaned more toward God’s way than yours?

2. Challenge

Romans 7:18 [ESV] “For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out.”

No matter how hard you try, no matter how disciplined you are, you’ll never be able to please God with your life in your own strength. The only way to grow spiritually is to lean into the Holy Spirit, as you get to know God better. As you do that, He changes not your actions, but your desires, and when your heart is transformed, it makes it a lot easier for your behaviors to follow.

  • “Know God better” is a broad platitude, but it’s vitally important to do. What are some examples of how this happens in your life? 
  • What is one thing you can do differently this week that would help you improve those pathways of knowing Him?

3. Prayer Focus

Talk to the Holy Spirit today, and ask Him to highlight areas in your life where you’re trying to muscle through things on your own instead of working with His help. Commit to investing your energy into knowing Him better, then follow through with it!


Family with Small Children Discussion Guide

“Come Home: You can you always home”

1. Power Verse

1 Peter 3:18 “Christ… died for sinners that he might bring us safely home to God.”

What’s Up: “I can always come home!

This week, we continue our series called, “Come Home.” In this series, we’re learning from the Parable of the Prodigal Son the importance of living at home- living in the Kingdom of God!

2. Bible Reading

  • Have you ever gotten lost before?
  • How did you feel when you were lost?
  • How long did it take for you to realize you were lost? What did you do to get “unlost?”

Luke 15:11-22 Jesus continued, “There was a man who had two sons. The younger son spoke to his father. He said, ‘Father, give me my share of the family property.’ So the father divided his property between his two sons. Not long after that, the younger son packed up all he had. Then he left for a country far away. There he wasted his money on wild living. He spent everything he had. Then the whole country ran low on food. So the son didn’t have what he needed. He went to work for someone who lived in that country. That person sent the son to the fields to feed the pigs. The son wanted to fill his stomach with the food the pigs were eating. But no one gave him anything. Then he began to think clearly again. He said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have more than enough food! But here I am dying from hunger! I will get up and go back to my father. I will say to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven. And I have sinned against you. I am no longer fit to be called your son. Make me like one of your hired servants.’ So he got up and went to his father. While the son was still a long way off, his father saw him. He was filled with tender love for his son. He ran to him. He threw his arms around him and kissed him. The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer fit to be called your son.’ But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet.”

3. Discussion

  • What did the son finally realize after being away from home? How long do you think it took him to get home? 
  • How do you think he felt while he was going home?

Just like we sometimes get physically lost, we can get spiritually lost, too.  We may make one bad decision which leads to another, which leads to another, and the next thing we know, we’re far away from being home with God.  When that happens, we have to do three things:  realize we want to go home, decide to go home, and go home.  If you ever get away from God, all you have to do is repent and ask Him to forgive you, and He will. Remember, you can always come home!

4. Pray

Pray together, asking God to help none of you to ever walk away from Him.  Thank Him for always being willing to forgive and let you come home.

Radical Obedience

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We all want to hear God’s voice – and it’s true, He’s speaking all the time – but actually doing what we hear… well, that’s another story. If you want to hear Him better, though, you need to put His words into practice.

1. Read

James 1:25 [NLT] “…if you look carefully into the perfect law that sets you free, and if you do what it says and don’t forget what you heard, then God will bless you for doing it.”

You’ve probably said it to your kids before – “I’m not just talking ‘cause I like the sound of my own voice!” The Bible is a huge, detailed collection of God’s voice into your life. If we aren’t hearing and doing what He’s already told us, why should we expect to hear – and be able to apply – anything new?

  • What’s something God has spoken to you recently through the Bible? 
  • Has that new understanding produced any change in your life?

2. Challenge

James 1:21 [NLT] “So get rid of all the filth and evil in your lives, and humbly accept the word God has planted in your hearts, for it has the power to save your souls.”

Planted things may start small, but they grow and grow, until they produce something significant. God’s voice into your life is meant to do just that – produce sustained, big-time results over time. The more change His voice brings into your life, the better attuned to the Holy Spirit you’ll be, and the more easily you’ll hear Him in the future.

  • Think of a time when you knew (either through the Bible, or directly from the Holy Spirit) that you needed to change something in your life, but you were reluctant to do it. Did God drop the subject, or did He keep reminding you?
  • How do you think your reluctance affected your ability to hear God’s instructions in other areas of your life?

3. Prayer Focus

When you talk to God today, ask Him to help you remember the things He’s already told you to do. Ask Him for the strength to do the difficult things, and for a constantly-renewed joy as you follow His instructions. And then go out and do it!


Family with Small Children Discussion Guide

“Come Home: Runaway”

1. Power Verse

Psalm 91:2 “This I declare about the LORD: He alone is my refuge, my place of safety; he is my God, and I trust him.”

What’s Up: “I Never Wanna Leave My Spiritual Home!”

This week, we start a brand new series called, “Come Home.” In this series, we’ll learn from the Parable of the Prodigal Son the importance of living at home- living in the Kingdom of God!

2. Activity

Place a backpack or suitcase in the middle of the floor and tell your children to pretend like they’re going to run away from home.  Ask them to go get one of each of the items they think they’d need if they were going to run away.

  • What are some of the things you’ll have to leave behind?  Do you think you’ll miss them?
  • How long do you think you could survive with what you’ve packed?

Tell your children you’re going to make it easier for them to carry their backpacks by taking away everything you’ve paid for or given them.  Have them remove every item from their backpacks that wasn’t given to them by someone other than you or they didn’t pay for themselves.

3. Discussion

  • Can you survive very long with the items leftover?
  • What are some of the benefits you have when you live at home?
  • What are some of the benefits you have when you follow God that you’d have to give up if you ran away from Him?
  • What do you think life would be like if you didn’t have these benefits?
  • Do you know anyone right now who is running away from God?  
  • What might you say or do to help them “come to their senses?”

Tell your children that it’s normal to be afraid when we face tough situations. No one wants to go through the fire. Then place a glass over the candle and watch the flame burn out. Remind your children that God is always in control of the fire.

4. Pray

Pray for people you know who were once following God but now are running from Him.  Pray that they would come home!  Also pray that none of the members of your family ever run from God.

How God Speaks

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Have you ever been on the receiving end of a surprise party? You didn’t realize it (or maybe you did!), but you were being set up – in a good way – through regular, day to day motions. Sometimes God’s voice speaks in generalities, but He often tailors it to your mind, using the dynamics of your life to get the point across.

1. Read

Acts 10:9-13 [NASB]  Peter went up on the housetop about the sixth hour to pray. 10 But he became hungry and was desiring to eat; but while they were making preparations, he fell into a trance…13 A voice came to him, “Get up, Peter, kill and eat!”

Peter’s appetite at the 6th hour (noon) wasn’t a supernatural occurrence. It was lunchtime – he was hungry! God used a regular function of Peter’s life to communicate a vital message that would shape the future of the global church.

  • Has God ever used mundane, everyday things in your life to speak to you? What were they?
  • What kinds of dynamics in your life might be there – at least, in part – to get you to a place where God’s voice makes a powerful impression on you?

2. Challenge

Acts 10:14-15 [NASB] But Peter said, “By no means, Lord, for I have never eaten anything unholy and unclean.” Again a voice came to him a second time, “What God has cleansed, no longer consider unholy.”

God didn’t just use a vision of food to a hungry man; He knew Peter had a lifetime of keeping the law, and He used that history to drive home His message of including the Gentiles in His Kingdom.

  • Did God prevent Peter from eating unclean things so he would be able to respond this way in the future, or did God choose the illustration of unclean food because it fit well with Peter’s history? 
  • This message to Peter was a perfect intersection of his past and God’s truth. There was a lot of strategy involved. How does that change how you think about God’s voice speaking into your life?

3. Prayer Focus

Ask the Holy Spirit to speak to your life this week, and then listen in a different way. Listen for His voice through the everyday activities and conversations of your life. He just might use your “normal” to show you something new!


Family with Small Children Discussion Guide

“Spy Kids: Fire Factor”

1. Power Verse

Psalm 23:4 “I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me.”

What’s Up: “Even In The Fire, I’m Not Alone!”

This week, we conclude our series called, “Spy Kids”.  In this series, we’ve been learning from the story of Daniel!

2. Discussion

Light a small candle; have a glass or jar to cover the candle with later.

  • What are some of the harmful that things fire can do?
  • What are some helpful things that fire can do?

Sometimes when bad things happen to people, they say they’re going through the fire. Although going through hard situations is usually painful, going through the experience successfully usually makes us better people. For example, if your best friend suddenly ignores you and says things behind your back, you might feel hurt and angry—you’re going through the fire. But as you work through the pain and learn to forgive, you’re growing and gaining valuable skills. It may not be pleasant, but there is a payoff.

3. Activity

  • Have you ever burned yourself with fire? What was it like?
  • Do you think Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were afraid to be thrown into the fire? Why or why not?

Tell your children that it’s normal to be afraid when we face tough situations. No one wants to go through the fire. Then place a glass over the candle and watch the flame burn out. Remind your children that God is always in control of the fire.

4. Pray

Pray that God will help you be strong when you face hard situations. Thank Him for always being in control.

Hearing From God

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“Hearing God’s voice” is a mysterious concept for most people. We all want to receive His direction and wisdom, but some of us don’t know how. Truth is, God is speaking, and it just might be your lifestyle that’s making it hard to listen. The good news is, you can change that! Read on…

1. Read

Revelation 3:20 [NLT] 

“Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends.”

God’s speaking – not just to “the church,” but to you personally! What He wants is a close, ongoing relationship with you, where you communicate back and forth. If you’re not hearing Him, the breakdown is on your end of the line.

  • What are some ways God uses to speak to people? How does He most often speak to you?
  • What kinds of things do you think God wants to communicate to you? 

2. Challenge

Mark 1:35 [NIV] “Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.”

If anyone had ears attuned to the Holy Spirit’s voice, it was Jesus. And yet, He regularly got away from the noise and busyness of life so He could pray effectively. If you want to hear God’s voice, slow down! Get quiet, and you’ll be amazed at how much easier it is to hear.

  • Life is full of tasks, worries and inputs competing for your time and attention. Which are the loudest in your life?
  • Be painfully honest – how often do you block out time to slow down, get quiet and listen to God? 
  • If you increased that by, say, 20%, how do you think your ability to hear Him would change?

3. Prayer Focus

Do prayer time differently today. Block out a period of time. Don’t talk. Don’t multi-task. Don’t check your watch every 60 seconds. Slow down. Be quiet. Just listen. (Seriously! Don’t talk!)


Family with Small Children Discussion Guide

“Spy Kids: Don’t Get Burned By Peer Pressure”

1. Power Verse

Romans 12:2 “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world…”

What’s Up: “I Won’t Bow To Peer Pressure!”

This week, we continue our series called, “Spy Kids”. In this series,we’re learning from the story of Daniel!

2. Discussion

For this devotion, you will need some toothpicks, a small cup of peanut butter, and a small ball of Playdoh or clay.

  • What did you learn about Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego this week (Daniel 3)?
  • Why did the king get mad at Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego?
  • Why wouldn’t they obey his order?
  • Did they know God would deliver them from the fire if they were thrown in?
  • By starting small and building good spiritual habits now, you’ll have the strength you need to face any problems that may come your way.

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were experiencing peer pressure. There will always be people who will pressure or push you to do wrong things. Even though it might be hard to resist the pressure, God is always there to help us.

3. Activity

Place a few toothpicks deep in the peanut butter, and ask your children to gently push the toothpicks. Then place a few more toothpicks deep in the Playdoh or clay, and ask your children to gently push on those toothpicks. Ask them which is harder to push over. Then explain that as our relationship with God grows more solid, the harder it is for people to push us to do the wrong thing. When people see we aren’t going to bow to peer pressure, they’ll want to know what’s different about us, which gives us a great chance to tell them about Jesus.

4. Pray

Ask God to deepen your relationship with Him. Pray He will give you the strength to stand up under any peer pressure you’re experiencing.

Jonah: “Enemy”

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It’s always refreshing to see the “bad guys” in life get what they deserve, but in the economy of God’s grace, your enemy isn’t who you think it is.

1. Read

Jonah 3:10-4:3 [NLT] “When God saw what (the people of Nineveh) had done and how they had put a stop to their evil ways, he changed his mind and did not carry out the destruction he had threatened. This change of plans greatly upset Jonah, and he became very angry. …Just kill me now, Lord! I’d rather be dead than alive if whatI predicted will not happen.”

In Jonah’s day, the Assyrians of Nineveh were the “bad guys,” and Jonah was really hoping they’d get the Sodom and Gomorrah treatment.

  • Think of a few people, groups or organizations that feel like enemies of the church, or of you as a Christian. Based on their actions, what kind of judgment (in this life and the next) do they deserve? 
  • How would that make the human side of you feel?
  • Is that God’s preferred outcome for their lives?

2. Challenge

Jonah 4:11 [NLT] “Nineveh has more than 120,000 people living in spiritual darkness, not to mention all the animals,” (God replied). “Shouldn’t I feel sorry for such a great city?”

Luke 6:35-36 [NLT] “…(God) is kind to those who are unthankful and wicked. You must be compassionate, just as your Father is compassionate.”

Through the lens of God’s grace, no human is the enemy. Hell is. God’s greatest desire for the antagonists in your life is not to nuke them, but to guide them back to repentance (genuine life change) by showing kindness and compassion.

  • For those people / groups you listed, what are some ways you or the church as a whole could show them unexpected kindness and compassion?
  • Coupled with an unwavering standard of God’s truth, how do you think these acts of compassion would be received, vs a picket line or boycott?
  • Which approach better fits God’s long-term goal for those people?

3. Prayer Focus

Spend time praying for your “enemies.” Ask God to bless them, even though they don’t deserve it. Ask the Holy Spirit to put love in your heart for them, and to use you to extend His kindness – and truth – to them.


Family with Small Children Discussion Guide

“Spy Kids: How To Survive A Night With The Lions”

1. Power Verse

Psalm 55:16 “But I will call on God, and the Lord will rescue me.”

What’s Up: “Building Good Character Makes Me Strong!”

This week, we continue our series called, “Spy Kids”. In this series, we’re learning from the story of Daniel!

2. Discussion

Before you start, double some grocery bags and fill them with enough books or canned goods so your children can’t lift the bag easily. Then call your children in and ask them to pick up the bag. When they can’t, take one item out and ask them to lift it again. Continue doing this until the bag is easy for them to lift.

  • If you knew that sometime in the future your life would depend on you being able to pick up something this heavy, what would you do? (Some type of weight training where they would start with smaller weights and work up to heavier ones; having someone train them.)
  • You’re going to face many types of problems in life. Some will be easy to overcome, but others may not be. All of the problems will be easier to face if you prepare ahead of time by learning to rely on God.
  • If you never pray, read the Bible, or worship God, how easy do you think it would be to rely on Him when you have a problem?
  • Do you think you could pray or worship for an hour without stopping?
  • How do you learn to pray or worship for longer periods of time?

By starting small and building good spiritual habits now, you’ll have the strength you need to face any problems that may come your way.

3. Prayer Focus

Ask God to help you develop those spiritual habits so you can rely on Him when you face problems.

Jonah: Lost Cause

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Have you ever written someone off as a lost cause? Maybe you wrote yourself off! Let’s be honest – if you look from a human perspective, some people are so far from faith in God it would take a miracle to change them… and that’s exactly what God has in mind.

1. Read

Jonah 3:4-5 [NLT] “On the day Jonah entered the city (Nineveh), he shouted to the crowds: ‘Forty days from now Nineveh will be destroyed!’ The people of Nineveh believed God’s message, and from the greatest to the least, they declared a fast and put on burlap to show their sorrow.”

If you asked an 8th century B.C. Jew who the most unlikely people on the planet were to receive God’s mercy, the Assyrians of Nineveh would’ve topped the list. They were right in the cross-hairs of God’s judgment – but they repented powerfully.

  • Name an individual who seems like a lost cause spiritually. Now, think of a few people groups who fit that description. Do you think God has given up on reaching them? Do you act like He has?

2. Challenge

Jonah 3:4-5 [NLT] “The people of Nineveh believed God’s message…”

Jonah didn’t have angelic vocal chords. It wasn’t his presentation that changed the hearts of a wicked city, it was God’s message. When we write people off as too far gone, we do it with our abilities and strategies in mind. When the Holy Spirit is involved, though, no one is beyond his reach, even the lost causes.

  • You can certainly tell people about God’s grace, but what are some other ways His message can be communicated through you?
  • God didn’t prophecy doom to dishearten the Ninevites; He did it to give them a chance to change (yes – even the worst of the worst!) How does God’s dealing with Nineveh affect the way you view His heart for the lost causes that you listed?

3. Prayer Focus

Talk to God and thank Him for coming to rescue you – even while you were a sinner. Ask Him to help you see those “lost causes” in your life the way He does – as people in need of His message and life-changing power. Then, ask Him to use your life to present that message.


Family with Small Children Discussion Guide

“Spy Kids: Where’s Daniel When You Need Him?”

1. Power Verse

Proverbs 12:26 “The righteous should choose his friends carefully, for the way of the wicked leads them astray.”

What’s Up: “I Will Choose To Have Godly Friends!”

This week, we continue our series called, “Spy Kids”. In this series, we’re learning from the story of Daniel!

2. Discussion

Explain to your children that their lives are like a NASCAR race. Ask them what the goal of a race car driver is. Then explain to them that winning the race of life means living eternally with God. However, in order to win the race, we all need some help.

Every race car driver has a pit crew that keeps his or her car in the best shape possible during the race.

  • What are some of the responsibilities of the pit crew?
  • Would the driver win the race if she had to take care of all those responsibilities by herself? Why not?
  • Can we win the race if we don’t have anyone helping us?

The crew chief is in charge of the entire crew and remains in constant contact with the driver by using microphones and headphones.

  • What kind of person should be the crew chief in our life?
  • Ask your children who owns the car the driver is racing. (Some children may think the driver owns the car, but actually a company owns it.)
  • Who owns our lives?
  • Could we win the race if we didn’t have an owner?
  • Who ultimately should get the credit when we win the race?

Talk about how important it is for us to have people in our lives (“Daniels,” as we learned this week) who will help us win our race.

3. Prayer Focus

Ask God to help you have a good pit crew in your life. Thank Him for owning your life and giving you everything you need to win.