Esther

Lenses- Part 2

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Adult & Teen Discussion Guide

Everyone views life through a set of lenses – priorities, values, and expectations that help them make sense of the world around them. Those lenses filter what light (truth) comes in… but for those who are Christians, the lens has just as much of an impact in the other direction.

1. Discussion

The lens you use for life affects the way God’s light shines through you. 

2 Corinthians 3:17 [NLT] “For the Lord is the Spirit, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord.”

The lens you view life through filters not only your beliefs, but also your actions, words, and attitudes. As God’s representatives to our world, it’s up to us to show those who are lost – by our behavior – what it means to be a Christian. We should be, as best we can, an accurate representation of what God’s life change looks like in a person.

Q. When you think about reflecting the “glory of the Lord,” what types of imagery comes to your mind? Does it seem like an everyday-life thing, or a mystic, other-worldly thing?

Q. When you consider the definition of “glory” – renown, honor, magnificence, beauty – does that change how “reflecting God’s glory” looks in your mind? How so?

2. Challenge

It’s the work of the Holy Spirit to calibrate your lens to reflect God’s glory properly.

2 Corinthians 3:18 [NLT] “And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image.”

Q. If someone from the outside commented on your life from 5 years ago versus today, what differences in words, actions, and attitudes would they see?

Q. On a scale of 1 to 10, how would you rate the level of contrast between how you live your life (as a Christian) versus how people who don’t serve God live?

Q. What could you do this week to allow the Holy Spirit to work on your lens?

3. Prayer Focus

Take a few minutes as a family: thank God for allowing you to see His glory and to know Him. Ask the Holy Spirit to keep shaping the lens you see life through so you can be a good reflection for people who are spiritually lost to see.


Family with Small Children Discussion Guide

How to Make Your Life Count

1. Power Verse

Philippians 2:13 “For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him.”

What’s Up: “God Can Use Me To Change The World!”

This week, we conclude our series called, “You Only Live Once” or “YOLO.” We’ve been learning some important lessons about making our lives count! Since we only live once, we need to make sure we do our very best to honor God with our lives and remain faithful to Him.

2. Discussion

Q. What do you think it means to make a difference in the world?

Q. Do you feel like you’re currently making a big difference in the world?

Sometimes it can be difficult to imagine yourself making a massive difference for the Kingdom of God. Changing the world or making a huge impact can seem pretty intimidating!

This week, we learned how Esther made a difference with her life. She really made her life count! 

We learned that we can make a difference too, if we take the right steps.

3. Challenge

Q. What have you done to live differently than the rest of the world?

Q. What can you do in order to live differently than the rest of the world?

Q. How often do you pray and seek God’s direction for your life?

Q. What can you do to make a big difference for the Kingdom of God? Will you be able to do it on your own? What steps should you take to accomplish this? 

We can really learn from Esther’s example to live different than the rest of the world, pray and seek God’s direction, and always remember just ONE person plus God can make a huge difference!

4. Prayer Focus

Pray that your children will do everything they can to make their lives count and make a difference! Pray they will set themselves apart from this world and choose to seek and obey God’s direction in their lives.

Lenses- Part 1

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Adult & Teen Discussion Guide

Everybody looks at life through a lens – a set of preconceptions about what’s valuable, what motivates actions, what is versus what should be. That lens makes a huge difference in our lives – especially when it comes to how we view God.

1. Discussion

Luke 11:34-35 [NLT] “When your eye is healthy, your whole body is filled with light. But when it is unhealthy, your body is filled with darkness. Make sure that the light you think you have is not actually darkness.”

The lens we view life through can bring God’s truth… or it can fool us into believing a lie. Too many people in our world have the wrong outlook on life because their lens is filtering things in a negative way.

Q. What sorts of factors might affect the way someone looks at life? (i.e. upbringing, hurts & failures, etc.)

Q. What factors in your past (or present) do you think have the most influence on the way you look at life? that impact your quality of life? What other areas in your life might improve?

2. Challenge

Many people who heard Jesus’ teaching couldn’t accept Him as the Messiah (the promised savior) because their filters were set on a military leader who would liberate the Jews from Roman occupancy. As a result, they were blind to the truth that could save them. In the same way, people today have skewed filters for what kind of savior Jesus is supposed to be. If we want to be able to hear and accept the truth, we need to have the right lens. The one that comes from God’s source of truth- the Bible.

Q. What are some preconceptions people have about Jesus that might not be accurate?

Q. How do you think those misconceptions might keep someone from being saved or living a healthy spiritual life?

Q. What can you do to make sure your own lens is allowing you to see Jesus accurately?

 

3. Prayer Focus

Take a few minutes as a family: thank God for allowing you to understand and accept the good news of Jesus, our Messiah. Ask the Holy Spirit to continually shape your lens by the truth of the Bible, so you can see life the way that He wants you to see it.


Family with Small Children Discussion Guide

Lessons From Esther

1. Power Verse

John 14:15 “If you love me, obey my commandments.”

What’s Up: “I’ll Trust God & I Will Obey!”

2. Discussion

This week, we continue our series called, “You Only Live Once” or “YOLO.” We’re learning some important lessons about making our lives count! Since we only live once, we need to make sure we do our very best to honor God with our life and remain faithful to Him.

Q. What do you think the word “trust” means?

Q. Have you ever been in a situation where it was hard to trust someone?

Q. Have you ever been in a situation where it was hard to trust God?

This week we learned about Esther. She found herself in a pretty tough situation. When Mordecai told her of Haman’s plan to destroy the Jews, she could have thought only about herself and played it safe. She could have ignored Mordecai’s request and never told the King how evil Haman was. However, Esther made the tough choice to trust God and obey Him. 

3. Challenge

Queen Esther spoke up and, as a result, the Jews were saved. She was brought into the kingdom for that special moment, & she didn’t waste it.

Q. In the situation you described earlier, did you end up trusting God?

Q. What did you do? How did it turn out?

Q. What can we do to strengthen our ability to trust God?

Q.  What can we do to make sure we’re ready and able to “seize our moment” when the time comes?

If we will trust God, obey Him, and seize our moment – God will bless us big-time!

 

4. Prayer Focus

Pray for your children to trust God and look for their “moment.” Pray for them if they are struggling to obey God’s commands. Remind them that blessing follows obedience. God is good. We can trust Him.

Peace

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Adult & Teen Discussion Guide

Everybody wants to be at peace – peace with God, with others, peace with whatever life throws at you. God wants that, too. He has peace that’s beyond anything humans can find or cultivate, but it can only be experienced when we’re submitted to His leadership.

1. Discussion

2 Thessalonians 3:16 [NLT] “Now may the Lord of peace himself give you his peace at all times and in every situation.”

The peace of God is different than a human emotion. Just like His contentment, it supersedes logic and circumstance, and works no matter what kind of storm is blowing around us.

Q. What’s the greatest stress in your life right now? What situation brings the most anxiety?

Q. Have you tried just talking yourself out of stress/worry? How did that work for you?

Q. If you could hit a button and instantly relieve the stress from this situation, how would that impact your quality of life? What other areas in your life might improve?

2. Challenge

Isaiah 26:3 [NLT] “You [God] will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you!

God’s peace is perfect- it overcomes any stress or worry- but it’s not a promise to every human. His peace comes with His presence, to those who trust Him and keep their thoughts fixed on Him. When we lean in close to our heavenly father, we can experience the peace of His protection- something truly supernatural.

Q. Think of your stressful situation again, is it easy or difficult to trust God to see you through, no matter the outcome?

Q. What steps could you take this week to keep your thoughts focused more on God your helper and less on the situation and the stress it brings?

3. Prayer Focus

Take a few minutes as a family: thank God for His supernatural peace. Whatever is stressful to you, hand it over to Him. Ask the Holy Spirit to keep your thoughts focused on Him, and to bring, with His presence, perfect peace in every situation.


Family with Small Children Discussion Guide

Lessons From Haman

1. Power Verse

Philippians 2:3 “Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves.”

What’s Up: “Treat People Nicely – Don’t Be A Jerk!”

2. Discussion

This week, we continue our series called, “You Only Live Once”, or “YOLO.”  We’re learning some important lessons about making our lives count!  Since we only live once, we need to make sure we do our very best to honor God with our life and remain faithful to Him.

Q. What do you think the word “pride” means?

Q. Have you ever met someone that was filled with pride?

Nobody likes a jerk.  They’re filled with pride, always get what they want, and treat others as less than themselves.  As followers of Jesus, we need to avoid becoming a jerk.

In the Bible Story this week, we learned from King Xerxes how to NOT be a jerk.  King Xerxes made a lot of terrible mistakes that made him a total jerk!  We learned to avoid the mistakes King Xerxes made and be much better examples of what it means to be a follower of Jesus.

3. Activity

Q. Who in your life is a great example of kindness?

Q. How can we avoid becoming prideful?

Q. What are some things we can do to show kindness to others?

We need to do our very best to always be humble, to not get mad when we don’t get our way, and to treat people like they matter!

4. Prayer Focus

Pray for your children to avoid being a jerk.  Pray that they would love and treat everyone with humility and kindness!

Generosity

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Adult & Teen Discussion Guide

Have you ever received way more than you expected? Whether it was a bigger tax refund, or an unexpected hand from your neighbor hauling bags of mulch, it feels great to be on the receiving end of generosity. It feels great to be on the giving end, too… because generosity is a function of God’s character at work in us.

1. Discussion

Ephesians 1:7–8  [ESV] “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight.”

God modeled generosity – going beyond what’s required or expected – when He sent Jesus to live and die to redeem humankind.

Q. God didn’t have to go to such great lengths to save humanity. What other responses to sin could He have taken? What response would you have taken if it had been your decision?

Q. God’s generosity shows up in plenty of other areas in life beyond our salvation. What are some other ways that God has gone above and beyond for you?

2. Challenge

Ephesians 3:17–19 [ESV]  “…so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.”

God expects His children to take on His character – including His generosity. And that encompasses more than money – it’s a willingness to give, whether the need is funds, time, energy, attention, etc. The only way that character change happens is by growing in faith through discipleship.

Q. If someone gauged your relationship with God based solely on your generosity, how close to God would they think you are?

Q. Is generosity easy for you, or is it a challenge? Is there one area for you where generosity comes more easily than others?

3. Prayer Focus

Take a few minutes as a family: thank God for giving to you so freely and extravagantly. Ask the Holy Spirit to grow His generous character in you as you work to know and serve Him better.


Family with Small Children Discussion Guide

Lessons From Haman

1. Power Verse

Psalm 4:4a “Don’t sin by letting anger control you…” 

What’s Up: “I Won’t Let Anger Control Me!”

2. Discussion

This week, we continue our series called, “You Only Live Once” or “YOLO.” We’re learning some important lessons about making our lives count! Since we only live once, we need to make sure we do our very best to honor God with our life and remain faithful to Him.

Q. What are some things that make you angry?

Q. How do you normally respond when things make you angry?

There are many things in life that can make us angry. From not getting our way, to attacks against those we love, many things can bring out the anger in us.

Anger is a powerful emotion. If we allow it to take control of our lives, it can bring some dangerous results. If we don’t allow God to help us with our anger – it can turn to bitterness.

3. Activity

Q. Have you ever allowed anger to take control of your life? Explain.

Q. Why should we ask for God’s help when we’re angry?

In the Bible Story this week, we learned from the story of Haman and how he reacted to Mordecai and the Jews. We learned that it is not a sin to become angry, but it is a sin to allow anger to control you.

Q. What are some appropriate ways to act when you become angry?

Q. What can you do to avoid allowing anger to take control of your life?

4. Prayer Focus

Pray that your children would begin to ask for God’s help when they become angry so they don’t allow their anger to control their lives or lead to bitterness.

Contentment

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Adult & Teen Discussion Guide

Everyone wants to be happy. When you’re happy, life is sweeter, your outlook on the future is brighter, the glass is always half full. God wants you to have hope and a positive outlook, too, but in a way that supersedes the human formula for “happiness.” He wants us to experience supernatural contentment.

1. Discussion

Philippians 4:11-13 [ESV] “…I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.”

Through the Holy Spirit’s guidance, Paul found the secret to feeling content with his life, no matter what it looked like. It wasn’t a switch that flipped instantly – it was a process.

Q. When Paul says in verse 12 “I have learned,” in what sorts of ways do you think he was taught?

Q. Paul wrote this letter nearly 30 years after deciding to follow Jesus. How long do you think it took him to grow to the place where he could write these words truthfully?

2. Challenge

Paul may have been content with his life, but most outsiders looking in at his life would call it difficult at best. It’s hard to understand how someone who was repeatedly rejected, beaten, and threatened could write about contentment, but that’s just the point – God’s contentment bypasses our logical understanding. It may not makes sense to others, but when it’s you… it just works.

Q. What are 3 things you would change about your life today?

Q. Is contentment and thankfulness for your life- just as it is – easy for you to feel and express, or is it a challenge right now?

Q. Learning contentment means seeing your life through God’s worldview. What can you do this week to strengthen that worldview in your mind & heart?

3. Prayer Focus

Take a few minutes as a family: thank God for the good in your life… and for the challenges that help you to learn true contentment. Ask the Holy Spirit to develop His worldview in you more and more, so you can be content under any circumstances.


Family with Small Children Discussion Guide

1. Power Verse

Galatians 6:9 “So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up.”

What’s Up: “God Will Honor Those Who Do What’s Right!”

2. Discussion

This week, we start a brand new series called, “You Only Live Once”, or “YOLO.” We’re learning some important lessons about making our lives count! Since we only live once, we need to make sure we do our very best to honor God with our life and remain faithful to Him.

In the Bible Story this week, we learned from a man named Mordecai in the book of Esther. We learned from his example of caring for others, doing the right thing no matter what, and remaining faithful to God.

Q. What are some ways you can show others you care about them?

Q. What are some things you can do because they’re the right things to do, even though you may not enjoy doing them? (i.e. chores, school, etc.)

We should never grow tired from doing the right thing. Instead, we should stay faithful to God because, just at the right time, God will honor and bless our faithfulness.

3. Activity

Have your children do some of the things they discussed earlier when asked some ways they could show others they care about them. Perhaps, they could

write a card to someone, do a  craft to give as a gift to someone, help clean something for someone, lighten someone’s load, or simply share kind words with someone who needs encouragement.

Because you’ve done these things, God said He’ll bless your faithfulness to Him and your faithfulness in doing the right thing no matter what!

4. Prayer Focus

Pray for your children to care for others and always do the right thing – no matter what. Pray, as they care for others and do right, God will honor their faithfulness.

Spiritual Maturity

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Adult & Teen Discussion Guide

1. Primary Statement

Life is a journey. From birth, to childhood, to adolescence, all the way to our twilight years, we’re never really static – we’re always growing. In the same way, Christianity is a lifelong progression, as we grow to become more like God, and know Him better. Growth is God’s expectation for all of us, and it happens best in the context of relationships.

2. Bible Verse

1 Corinthians 3:1-2 [NLT] Dear brothers and sisters, when I was with you I couldn’t talk to you as I would to spiritual people. I had to talk as though you belonged to this world or as though you were infants in Christ. I had to feed you with milk, not with solid food, because you weren’t ready for anything stronger.”

Paul is addressing the spiritual maturity of the Corinthian church. Regardless of our age, we’re all spiritual infants when we join God’s family – but He doesn’t expect us to stay that way.

Romans 12:2 [ESV] “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”

3. Discussion

How do we renew our minds? By being discipled – learning and applying God’s ways of thinking. This is a lifelong process that happens best in relationships with other Christians. 

Q: Which individuals in your life have had the biggest impact on your spiritual growth? Is your relationship with them close, or distant? 

Q: Outside of pastors, authors, and public speakers, who are the spiritually mature people you look to for inspiration and guidance? If you don’t have anyone like that, how might you go about building a relationship with someone?

Q: Who are the people in your life that are less experienced in their relationship with God than you are? Are you actively building them up in their faith? If not, how might you start helping them to grow?

4. Prayer Focus

God’s will for us all is to be part of this process. Never stop learning from others. Never stop teaching and helping others.  Take a few minutes as a family and thank God for the growth-inspiring relationships in your life. Ask Him to help you strengthen those connections, so more and more people can become more like Him.


Family with Small Children Discussion Guide

1. Power Verse

John 15:13  “There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” 

“I Will Stand Up For Others – No Matter What The Cost!”

This week we continued our series, “Never Too Young.”  In this week’s lesson, the children learned a powerful message from the life of Esther about how to stand up for those who are in need!

2. Discussion

Read Esther 4:7-8, 15-16 “Mordecai told him everything that had happened to him. He told him about the exact amount of money Haman had promised to add to the royal treasures. He said Haman wanted it to be used to pay some men to destroy the Jews… It commanded people to wipe out the Jews…

Mordecai told Hathak to show the order to Esther. He wanted Hathak to explain it to her. Mordecai told him to tell her to go and beg the king for mercy. Mordecai wanted her to make an appeal to the king for her people.  15 Then Esther sent a reply to Mordecai. ‘…Then I’ll go to the king. I’ll do it even though it’s against the law. And if I have to die, I’ll die.”’

Q. Do you remember who this week’s Bible story was about?

Q. What did Esther do for her people?

Q. Why was this so important?

3. Activity 

Discuss with your children why what Esther did was so important and how difficult it must have been to stand up for others.  Share a time in your life where you had to stand up for someone or something.  This can help your children identify with this story.

Q. What do you think it means to “stand up for others?”

Q. How does this make God feel when we “stand up for others?”

It’s important that we stand up for others and what is right.  There may be people at your school who are being bullying, and you could be the person to stop them.  There may be a person who needs new friends, and you could be that new friend for them.  Or, maybe God wants you to help those less fortunate than you like the homeless or poor.  It’s important that when you see other people in need, you respond and help them.

4. Prayer Focus

Discuss with your children ways they can “Stand up for others.”  As a family, make a plan to give back to those in need.  Pray together that God will use your family to make a difference in this world!