Healing

Empowered by the Spirit- Part 5

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God wants us to be effective witnesses – representatives of who Jesus is to the spiritually lost in our world. In order to accomplish that goal, the Holy Spirit empowers believers with special abilities, including the gifts of discernment and speaking / interpreting unknown languages.

1 John 4:1 [NLT] “Dear friends, do not believe everyone who claims to speak by the Spirit. You must test them to see if the spirit they have comes from God. For there are many false prophets in the world.”

The spiritual gift of discernment enables you to identify the spirit behind a person or group, to tell whether a prophecy is legitimate or not, or to have insight into the spiritual realities of a situation.

Q . Have you ever fallen for an email scam or a similar hoax? If so, what were the repercussions? (if not, what do you imagine they would be?)

Q . What are some sources in our world of incorrect teaching about God?

Q . How might the gift of discernment make you more effective as a witness?

2. Challenge

1 Corinthians 14:5 [ESV] “Now I want you all to speak in tongues, but even more to prophesy. The one who prophesies is greater than the one who speaks in tongues, unless someone interprets, so that the church may be built up.”

The spiritual gift of “tongues,” or, speaking in an unknown language, is one that seems to be mostly for personal prayer time, but it can also be beneficial to others -when it’s interpreted.

Q . When did you first encounter people speaking in unknown languages? What was your impression at the time? Is that different from your impression now?

Q . What are some ways that speaking in unknown languages could help you be a better witness, or point the spiritually lost toward God?

3. Prayer Focus

Take a few minutes as a family: thank God for the spiritual abilities to discern spirits and speak in unknown languages. If you’ve received the ability to, take a little time to pray in the Spirit using unknown languages.


Family with Small Children Discussion Guide

God’s Response To Failure

1. Power Verse

1 John 1:9 “But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.”

What’s Up: “When I Fail, I Can See God Always Comes Looking For Me!”

This week, we continue the series called, “The Garden”. In this series, we will look at the four characters involved in the first sin in the Garden of Eden: Satan, Adam, Eve, and God. 

In this lesson, we learn just how much our Heavenly Father loves us.

2. Read

Q. Who are people you love? (i.e. family, friends, etc.) Have you ever gotten mad at someone you love?

Q. Ever wonder how God feels when we sin? Does He get angry? Does He plot revenge? Does He say,“I told you so?” 

So many people have the idea in their mind that God is sitting in Heaven with one hand on the “zapper” and one foot raised in the air just waiting to STOMP on us when we sin.

Genesis 3:8-11 Then the man and his wife heard the Lord God walking in the garden. It was during the coolest time of the day. They hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden.  But the Lord God called out to the man. “Where are you?” he asked. “I heard you in the garden,” the man answered. “I was afraid, because I was naked. So I hid.” The Lord God said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten fruit from the tree I commanded you not to eat from?”

3. Discussion

Through the story of Adam and Eve, we see God’s heart and how He really responds when we fail Him. When we run from Him, He comes looking for us and gives us a chance to make it right.

John 3:16 “God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son. Anyone who believes in him will not die but will have eternal life.”

Q. Have you ever been afraid of what God thought when you messed up?

Q. What do you do when you mess up? What should you do when you mess up? 

4. Prayer Focus

Give your child a chance to “make it right” with God. Let them know that when they mess up, God comes to them and gives them a chance to be forgiven – all they have to do is ask.

Empowered by the Spirit- Part 4

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The Holy Spirit has special abilities He gives to us, which help us to be better witnesses in our world. Two of those abilities, miracles and prophecy, are often misunderstood. The truth is, they’re vital, real-world practical functions of God’s work in our lives today.

1 Corinthians 12:10a [NLT] “He gives one person the power to perform miracles…”

When people think of “performing miracles,” they often imagine parting the Red Sea or calling down fire from heaven. The truth is, a “miracle” is any time God’s power intervenes to change how a situation plays out. Through the Holy Spirit’s enablement, God wants to use us to pray situation-changing prayers that address real needs in the world around us.

Q . What is the most memorable or spectacular miracle you remember from the Bible?

Q . What’s a need that you’ve encountered where you’ve asked God to get involved and change something?

Q . What are the differences between those 2 examples? What are the similarities?

2. Challenge

1 Corinthians 12:10 [NLT] “He gives one person the power to perform miracles, and another the ability to prophesy.”

We often think of “prophecy” as telling the future, but this spiritual ability is much broader than that. A “prophet” is anyone who speaks God’s words under His inspiration.

Q . Has anyone ever come to you with a message they felt like God asked them to share? Was it relevant to your life at the time?

Q . What are some types of things God may want to say to people around you? How often is there a need in your world for the Spiritual ability to prophesy?

3. Prayer Focus

Take a few minutes as a family: thank God for answering prayers with His power, and for speaking to you through various sources. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you to notice and obey when He prompts you to function in a special ability.


Family with Small Children Discussion Guide

No Fear

1. Power Verse

Isaiah 41:10 “Don’t be afraid, for I am with you…”

What’s Up: “I Don’t Have To Be Afraid, I’ll Put My Trust In God!”

With God on our side, we should never be afraid! Kids have a lot of things that they may fear. It’s important at an early age, we help them learn that with God, there is nothing that is too big for us to face. With Him by our side, we can face anything!

2. Read

Ask your children to list some of the things they are scared or afraid of together.

Q.  What do you think Jesus says about fear? Jesus has a lot to say about fear, and we are actually talking about that today! We are going to learn from a familiar story in the Bible of how Jesus reacts to our fears.

Matthew 8:23-27 “Jesus got into a boat. His disciples followed him. Suddenly a terrible storm came up on the lake. The waves crashed over the boat. But Jesus was sleeping. The disciples went and woke him up. They said, “Lord! Save us! We’re going to drown!” He replied, “Your faith is so small! Why are you so afraid?” Then Jesus got up and ordered the winds and the waves to stop. It became completely calm. The disciples were amazed. They asked, “What kind of man is this? Even the winds and the waves obey him!”

3. Discussion

Q. What was Jesus’ response to the storm?

Q. Why do you think the storm didn’t scare Jesus?

Just like the storm didn’t scare or intimidate Jesus, our fears and problems don’t scare Him either. Jesus is never afraid. He can help us not be scared, too! We just have to trust Him!

Take time working with each of your children coming up with a plan of how they can face their fear they mentioned earlier in our devotion. 

Q. What scriptures could they quote that would help them? What could they pray to help calm them? 

4. Prayer Focus

Pray together after you have finished writing or drawing out your plan.

It Is Too Painful

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Adult & Teen Discussion Guide

1. Primary Statement

Life is painful. From toothaches to heartaches, experiencing pain is a part of the human existence. Many people doubt God or leave God because of the pain they experience, but the truth is: God isn’t the source of pain, and if we stay close to Him, He will help us through our pain and bring good out of it in the end.

2. Bible Verse

Sometimes we experience pain as a discipline or a warning.

If you try to bend your finger the wrong way, it hurts! Why? The pain is a warning that your current course of action will damage your body. If you drive too fast around a police officer, you may get a speeding ticket. Why? The financial pain of paying a fine encourages you to drive more safely in the future. Sometimes, we bring pain on ourselves, but it’s helpful.

Hebrews 12:11 [ESV] “For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.”

Q. What’s a painful consequence you’ve experienced? Did it cause you to change your actions in the future?

3. Discussion

Sometimes we experience pain that we did nothing to cause or deserve.

God’s original creation was pain-free, but when sin entered the world, pain came along with it. Sometimes bad things happen to good people, because this is the sin-infected version of God’s world. In those times, we can look to God for relief, endurance, and perspective. In the long run, God can bring good out of any situation.

Romans 8:28 [ESV] “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”

Q. Think of a time you experienced pain that you did nothing to cause. At the time, were you frustrated at God because of it? Looking back now, ask yourself: Did God cause it? Did God help me through it? Am I in some way stronger today because of it?

4. Prayer Focus

Take a few minutes as a family and thank God for the hope of a pain-free future with Him forever. Ask the Holy Spirit to strengthen you in seasons of pain and help you to stay close to Him through any circumstance.


Family with Small Children Discussion Guide

1. Power Verse

 James 1:17 “Every good and perfect gift is from above…”

Watts Up: “G-R-A-C-E!  God Gives Grace to You and Me!”

**PARENTS:  Have 2 small presents ready for each kid (a few coins, candy, etc.).

Call your kids together and tell them that for the next several weeks,you’re going to talk about gifts. Without explaining anything, hand each of them one of the gifts you’ve chosen. Don’t discuss it or tell them why you chose it. If they thank you, just say, “You’re welcome,” without talking about it anymore.

2. Discussion

Q. What did you do to be able to become a member of this family? (Nothing, you were born or adopted into it.)

Q. What are some of the benefits of being a member of our family?

Q. Do you think there’s anything you could do that would cause you to no longer be a member of our family? If so, what? (If your kids mention some things, just say something like, “Oh, really? Do you really think so?” Don’t argue or disagree with them, though.) Now hand them another present. Once again, don’t discuss it or give them a reason for giving them any presents.

Q. Have you ever heard the phrase, “no strings attached”? What does it mean? Grace means that we receive something that we don’t deserve or didn’t earn. Grace is a “no strings attached” gift, which means that the person who gave it to you won’t snatch it back if you don’t do what they want you to do.

The unexpected and unearned gifts you have just gotten are like “grace.”

Q. Can you think of any times you’ve received grace in the past? (Maybe one time you didn’t turn in your homework, but the teacher didn’t count it against you or someone did something nice for you just because they love you.)

Q. What is God’s grace?

Q. What has He done for us that we don’t deserve? (Think not only about salvation, but all of the daily blessings He gives us.)

Q.  What should be our response to His grace? No matter what you [kids] do, your parents will never stop loving you, and neither will God.

4. Prayer Focus

Pray together, thanking God for his grace and asking him to help you see every day the things he does for you that you don’t deserve. Ask him to help you have a thankful heart and to pass his grace on to others.

It Is Too Lonely

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Adult & Teen Discussion Guide

1. Primary Statement

When we decide to go all-in for God’s way of life, we may find that some relationships need to change – and others may need to end. The good news is, God’s design for us is community. Though we may experience lonely times walking God’s path, we also have the opportunity for wonderful friendships to grow along the way.

Romans 12:2 [ESV] “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind…”

2. Bible Verse

1 Corinthians 15:33 [NIV] “Do not be misled: ‘Bad company corrupts good character.’”

Luke 14:26 [NLT]  “If you want to be my disciple, you must, by comparison, hate everyone else—your father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even your own life.”

Sometimes, when we change our life, our old friends don’t want to be around us anymore. Sometimes, in order to step toward God, we need to remove ourselves from the influence of friends who are living the old way.

Q. Who are the main influences in your personal life? 

Q. For each, consider: are they pushing you toward God and His ways, or pulling you away from Him? 

Q. Which influences do you need to limit your exposure to?

3. Discussion

Matthew 12:48-50 [NLT] “Jesus asked, ‘Who is my mother? Who are my brothers?’ Then he pointed to his disciples and said, ‘Look, these are my mother and brothers. Anyone who does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother!’”

Mark 10:29-30 [GWT] “Jesus said, ‘I can guarantee this truth: Anyone who gave up his home, brothers, sisters, mother, father, children, or fields because of me and the Good News will certainly receive a hundred times as much here in this life.’”

God’s desire isn’t to make you lonely, it’s to fill your life with the community of friendship that is found in the church.

Q. Who are the positive influences in your life, the ones who push you toward God?

Q. How might your Christian life change if you had more positive-influence relationships?

Q. What’s something tangible you could do this week to cultivate the right kinds of friendships in your life?

4. Prayer Focus

Take a few minutes as a family and thank God for the positive influences in your life. Ask the Holy Spirit to give you wisdom and courage to change, end, or cultivate the relationships you need to fully live your life for Him.


Family with Small Children Discussion Guide

1. Power Verse

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

Watts 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. Bible Reading

Read:  Luke 17:11-19

Jesus Heals Ten Men Who Have a Skin Disease

11 Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem. He traveled along the border between Samaria and Galilee. 12 As he was going into a village, ten men met him. They had a skin disease. They were standing close by. 13 And they called out in a loud voice, “Jesus! Master! Have pity on us!”

14 Jesus saw them and said, “Go. Show yourselves to the priests.” While they were on the way, they were healed.

15 When one of them saw that he was healed, he came back. He praised God in a loud voice. 16 He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him. The man was a Samaritan.

17 Jesus asked, “Weren’t all ten healed? Where are the other nine? 18 Didn’t anyone else return and give praise to God except this outsider?” 19 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?

Q. 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!

Raising the Dead

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John chapter 11 tells the story of the death and resurrection of Lazarus.  It is an amazing story of how sometimes the plan of God seems strange and ill-timed to us, but that through faith and belief in Jesus, everything truly does work out for good for us (Romans 8:28).

Lazarus is sick.   A report comes to Jesus.  He intentionally delays.   Jesus comes to the tomb and raises Lazarus from the dead.  Start the party!

The aspect that never fails to jump out at me is the context and placement of this section of scripture.  Remember that in the last two chapters and also in this chapter, there are groups of people that have now committed to kill Jesus.  Here’s the part that jumps out at me.  What makes you think that you can kill a man that raises other people back from the dead?  Isn’t there something in your thinking that says, “Hey, maybe I shouldn’t mess with a guy who walks on water, multiplies food, makes lame men walk, blind men to see, removes leprosy, and now has raised a dead man back to life!”

It’s totally and absolutely absurd to me.  But that’s what sin’s deceitfulness is like. Notice these verses from Hebrews 3.

Hebrews 3:12–13 (NIV84)  See to it, brothers, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. 13 But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.

Yesterday I wrote to you about being able to hear the Lord’s voice.  Sin slowly removes that ability.  It is deceitful telling yourself that there is no consequence because no one is getting hurt, but someone is always getting hurt… you are.  Even when confronted with the things Jesus did, sin still had the power to cause blindness so deep that the people could not see.

They simply cannot see that you really cannot kill a man who can raise others back to life. 

It’s a great blessing to be on the right side of the truth!

Blessings

Breaking the Rules

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John chapter nine is one of my favorite passages of scripture.  If you’ve already read it you know that Jesus was going on his way when he came upon a man who was born blind.  Jesus spits in the dirt, makes some mud, and tells the man to go wash in the pool of Siloam.  When the man washes the mud from his eyes, he can see!  The fame of the miracle spreads and these who have watched the man grow into adulthood cannot believe it’s actually him but perhaps just someone who looks like him.   He assures the people that it’s him and then tells them about the man who has healed him.

The man is brought before the Pharisees and they begin to question him about the healing because it had been done on the Sabbath.  At first they question whether he was ever really blind.  After assuring him that he was indeed blind, they begin to question the validity of the miracle because they cannot get past the fact that Jehovah God would condone a healing done on the Sabbath.  As I’m sure you are probably aware, the Pharisees are completely wrapped up in the law and pretty much at the top of the list of do’s and don’t for them, are the rules concerning what can and cannot be done on the Sabbath.

Their problem is that because they are so engrossed in their additions to God’s law that they are completely missing the one who gave the law and it’s heart.  Standing before them is a living, breathing, seeing, contradiction of their belief system.

Rather than evaluate their belief system, they deny the miracle that they see with their own eyes.

The part I like best in this chapter is when they begin to spout their error laden theology.  Then this nobody, having been touched by Jesus, begins to present truth right back at them and they simply can’t handle it!

John 9:30–34 (ESV)  The man answered, “Why, this is an amazing thing! You do not know where he comes from, and yet he opened my eyes. 31 We know that God does not listen to sinners, but if anyone is a worshiper of God and does his will, God listens to him. 32 Never since the world began has it been heard that anyone opened the eyes of a man born blind. 33 If this man were not from God, he could do nothing.” 34 They answered him, “You were born in utter sin, and would you teach us?” And they cast him out.

I’m reminded of a couple of verses in Luke twelve…

Luke 12:11–12 (ESV)  “And when they bring you before the synagogues and the rulers and the authorities, do not be anxious about how you should defend yourself or what you should say, 12 for the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say.”

Ultimately, God’s truth wins out every time.  During our time of fasting and prayer, let us allow the Holy Spirit to examine every part of who we are and bring us to a place where nothing is more important than the depth of our love and trust in Him.

Blessings

Healing

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Just a short blog today, but nonetheless, it’s a powerful section of scripture.  In John chapter 5 there are many powerful truths, but let me highlight just a single one.

Jesus is traveling through Jerusalem and on His way through, He comes to a pool called Bethesda.  There is a strange occurrence that people there believe in.  It seems that the people believe that occasionally an angel  comes down and troubles the surface of the water and that the first person to get in the water after this happenes, would be healed.  I don’t know if this actually happened or if it was sort of folklore.  Anyway, because of this belief the place is covered with suffering people.

Jesus walks up to a man that has been crippled for 38 years, has a simple conversation with him, heals him, and walks into the crowd.  It’s an amazing miracle!

The part that I want you to notice today is that it doesn’t matter how long a thing has gripped you; the length of the affliction or the hurt is insignificant.

The significant factor is not the size of your need but the size of your Savior!

In our thinking, the longer a thing has been in place, the more sturdy it becomes.  We even apply that to bad things.  A person who has been crippled for 38 years, in our thinking, is always going to be crippled.  Not with Jesus!  He defies traditional thinking and the logic of mankind.

Let’s believe that long-held strongholds and circumstances will fall at the touch of Jesus at Abundant Life!!

Blessings