Healthy Church

Great Big U- Part 2

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Family Devotional Adult 10-8-17

Family Devotional Kids 10-8-17

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Adult & Teen Discussion Guide

1. Primary Statement

Through the Holy Spirit, God wants to use believers to get engaged in serving and make up the body of Christ – the Church. Often times, though, we feel like our lack of skills, qualifications or training leaves us without anything to offer. The truth is, God is looking for people just like you to accomplish His will on the earth.

2. Bible Verse

1 Corinthians 1:26-27 [ESV] “For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God.” 

Q. Think of someone in today’s world who has done, or is doing, big things for God. How qualified do they seem to you? How skilled? Does that intimidate you or encourage you?

Q. Now, imagine that same person when the Lord first called them to serve. How qualified or prepared do you think they felt at the time? Does that change how you feel about your own readiness to serve God?

3. Discussion

Judges 6:12-16 [NLT] “Gideon son of Joash was threshing wheat at the bottom of a winepress to hide the grain from the Midianites.  The angel of the Lord appeared to him and said, ‘Mighty hero, the Lord is with you!…Go with the strength you have, and rescue Israel from the Midianites. I am sending you!’ ‘But Lord,’ Gideon replied, ‘how can I rescue Israel? My clan is the weakest in the whole tribe of Manasseh, and I am the least in my entire family!’ The Lord said to him, ‘I will be with you.’”

Q. What is your family history and background? Believers or unbelievers? Casual Christians or ardent God-followers? Have you served God since childhood, or did you come to accept Him as an adult?

Q. How might God be able to use your past to equip you for His service? 

4. Prayer Focus

Take a few minutes as a family and thank God for calling you to be part of the body of Christ. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you engage in the Church to accomplish His will.


Family with Small Children Discussion Guide

1. Power Verse

2 Chronicles 7:14 “If my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and heal their land.”

“Gotta Stay Humble, Got To Pray, & God Will Heal Our Land Today!”

In our series, “Soul Food”, we continue to find out the key ingredients for a healthy Christian life.  This week, we learn that humility is one of those ingredients.  Humility is essential for serving God and giving Him all the glory each day.  We learn from the example of King Nebuchadnezzar what can happen if we are prideful.

2. Bible Reading

Read:  Daniel 4:24-37

24 “Your Majesty, here is what your dream means. The Most High God has given an order against you. 25 You will be driven away from people. You will live with the wild animals. You will eat grass just as an ox does. You will become wet with the dew of heaven. Seven periods of time will pass by for you. Then you will recognize that the Most High God rules over all kingdoms on earth. He gives them to anyone he wants. 26 But he gave a command to leave the stump of the tree along with its roots. That means your kingdom will be given back to you. It will happen when you recognize that the God of heaven rules. 27 So, Your Majesty, I hope you will accept my advice. Stop being sinful. Do what is right. Give up your evil practices. Show kindness to those who are being treated badly. Then perhaps things will continue to go well with you.”

Nebuchadnezzar’s Dream Comes True

28 All this happened to King Nebuchadnezzar. 29 It took place twelve months later. He was walking on the roof of his palace in Babylon. 30 He said, “Isn’t this the great Babylon I have built as a place for my royal palace? I used my mighty power to build it. It shows how glorious my majesty is.”

31 He was still speaking when he heard a voice from heaven. It said, “King Nebuchadnezzar, here is what has been ordered concerning you. Your royal authority has been taken from you. 32 You will be driven away from people. You will live with the wild animals. You will eat grass just as an ox does. Seven periods of time will pass by for you. Then you will recognize that the Most High God rules over all kingdoms on earth. He gives them to anyone he wants.”

33 What had been said about King Nebuchadnezzar came true at once. He was driven away from people. He ate grass just as an ox does. His body became wet with the dew of heaven. He stayed that way until his hair grew like the feathers of an eagle. His nails became like the claws of a bird.

34 At the end of that time I, Nebuchadnezzar, looked up toward heaven. My mind became clear again. Then I praised the Most High God. I gave honor and glory to the God who lives forever.

His rule will last forever.
    His kingdom will never end.
35 He considers all the nations on earth
    to be nothing.
He does as he pleases
    with the powers of heaven.
He does what he wants
    with the nations of the earth.
No one can hold back his hand.
    No one can say to him,
    “What have you done?”

36 My honor and glory were returned to me when my mind became clear again. The glory of my kingdom was given back to me. My advisers and nobles came to me. And I was put back on my throne. I became even greater than I had been before. 37 Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, give praise and honor and glory to the King of heaven. Everything he does is right. All his ways are fair. He is able to bring down those who live proudly.

Q. Whom did King Nebuchadnezzar think was the reason for all of his success?

Q.  What did Daniel say would happen to King Nebuchadnezzar if he continued to have pride?  How did he respond?

Q. What did God do to King Nebuchadnezzar as punishment for his pride?  Then what happened when the time passed?

3. Discussion

King Nebuchadnezzar was very prideful and took all of the credit and glory for himself, instead of giving God glory.  When God saw this, God removed King Nebuchadnezzar from his position as king of Babylon until he was humbled and began to give God all of the glory.  We learn from our Power Verse, 2 Chronicles 7:14, that God says we must humble ourselves, pray, seek His face, and turn from our sin.  If we do those things, He says He will hear us, forgive us, and heal our land.

Q. What are some ways you can become too prideful in your own life?

Q. What can you do to make sure you never allow pride to keep you from giving God all of the glory?

4. Prayer Focus

Pray that your children would humble themselves before God, pray, seek Him whenever they face life’s many difficult situations, and always run from sin.

Great Big U

Posted on Updated on

Family Devotional Adult 10-1-17

Family Devotional Kids 10-1-17

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Adult & Teen Discussion Guide

1. Primary Statement

God’s plans for believers to influence the world are group plans. He’s designed a system where believers work together with a united purpose, but widely varied functions to accomplish His goals. We call that diverse-yet-unified system, “church.”

2. Bible Verse

1 Corinthians 12:12-19 [ESV] “For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ …If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. If all were a single member, where would the body be?” 

Q. Have you ever felt like a “spare part,” or unnecessary organ in the church body?

Q. List several different functions that people might serve as part of a church. Which ones have you normally considered the most important? Which ones are least important?

Q. Look at the “less important” functions on your list. Can the church survive without them? If so, would it be more effective without the functions, or less effective?

3. Discussion

Proverbs 27:17 [ESV] “Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.”

The relationships we build, functioning together in a church, can be some of the deepest and most rewarding in life. They can also lead to some of the deepest and most painful offenses. As we work together, conflict will inevitably come, but we need to use that to spur us on to grow as individuals and as an organization.

Q. Think of an example of conflict between different people functioning as part of the church body. In what ways could that conflict hurt the body? In what ways could it produce growth?

4. Prayer Focus

Take a few minutes as a family and thank God for the purpose He has for you as part of the church body. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you work together with other believers to affect our world and grow His kingdom.


Family with Small Children Discussion Guide

1. Power Verse

Psalm 68:3 “But let the godly rejoice. Let them be glad in God’s presence. Let them be filled with joy.” 

“I’ll Be Full of the Joy of the Lord!”

In our series, “Soul Food”, we continue to find out the key ingredients for a healthy Christian life.  This week, we learn that joy is one of those ingredients.  A lot of times it is easy for followers of Jesus to lose their joy when bad or difficult circumstances come their way.  When tough stuff happens in our lives, we often lose our sense of joy because we’ve forgotten some very important things about the joy of the Lord.

2. Bible Reading

Read:  2 Samuel 6

David Brings the Ark to Jerusalem

Again David brought together the best soldiers in Israel. The total number was 30,000. He and all his men went to Baalah in Judah. They wanted to bring the ark of God up to Jerusalem from there. The ark is named after the Lord. He is the Lordwho rules over all. He sits on his throne between the cherubim that are on the ark. The ark of God was placed on a new cart. Then it was brought from Abinadab’s house, which was on a hill. Uzzah and Ahio were guiding the cart. They were the sons of Abinadab. The ark of God was on the cart. Ahio was walking in front of it. David was celebrating with all his might in front of the Lord. So was the whole community of Israel. All of them were playing castanets, harps, lyres, tambourines, rattles and cymbals.

They came to the threshing floor of Nakon. The oxen nearly fell there. So Uzzah reached out and took hold of the ark of God. Then the Lord was very angry with Uzzah. That’s because what Uzzah did showed that he didn’t have any respect for the Lord. So God struck him down. He died there beside the ark of God.

David was angry because the Lord’s great anger had broken out against Uzzah. That’s why the place is still called Perez Uzzah to this day.

David was afraid of the Lord that day. He asked, “How can the ark of the Lordever be brought to me?” 10 He didn’t want to take the ark of the Lord to be with him in the City of David. Instead, he took it to the house of Obed-Edom. Obed-Edom was from Gath. 11 The ark of the Lord remained in Obed-Edom’s house for three months. And the Lord blessed him and his whole family.

12 King David was told, “The Lord has blessed the family of Obed-Edom. He has also blessed everything that belongs to him. That’s because the ark of God is in Obed-Edom’s house.” So David went down there to bring up the ark. With great joy he brought it up from the house of Obed-Edom. He took it to the City of David. 13 Those carrying the ark of the Lord took six steps forward. Then David sacrificed a bull and a fat calf. 14 David was wearing a sacred linen apron. He danced in front of the Lord with all his might. 15 He did it while he was bringing up the ark of the Lord. The whole community of Israel helped him bring it up. They shouted. They blew trumpets.

16 The ark of the Lord was brought into the City of David. Saul’s daughter Michal was watching from a window. She saw King David leaping and dancing in front of the Lord. That made her hate him in her heart.

17 The ark of the Lord was brought into Jerusalem. It was put in its place in the tent David had set up for it. David sacrificed burnt offerings and friendship offerings to the Lord. 18 After he finished sacrificing those offerings, he blessed the people in the name of the Lord who rules over all. 19 He gave to each Israelite man and woman a loaf of bread. He also gave each one a date cake and a raisin cake. Then all the people went home.

20 David returned home to bless his family. Saul’s daughter Michal came out to meet him. She said, “You are the king of Israel. You have really brought honor to yourself today, haven’t you? You have gone around half-naked right in front of the female slaves of your officials. You acted like a fool!”

21 David said to Michal, “I did it to honor the Lord. He chose me instead of your father or anyone else in Saul’s family. The Lord appointed me ruler over his people Israel. I will celebrate to honor the Lord. 22 And that’s not all. I will bring even less honor to myself. I will bring even more shame on myself. But those female slaves you spoke about will honor me.”

23 Saul’s daughter Michal didn’t have any children as long as she lived.

Q. What happened that caused David to worship God like he did?

Q. How did David show his joy and worship?

Q. What did David’s wife, Michal, say about David dancing before the Lord?

Q. How did David respond?  Did he let Michal’s criticism keep him from having and expressing his joy in the Lord?

3. Discussion

David had joy even when his wife, Michal, criticized him during his time of worship and dancing.  In spite of what was going on around him, David chose to have the joy of the Lord and let no one stop him from showing it.  From this we learn that joy is not optional – it’s a command.  The Bible says we must have joy – even when the things going on around us aren’t very fun and exciting.  And the reason we should have joy in every circumstance, good or bad, is because God is with us always. 

Q. What are some circumstances that could cause you to lose your joy?

Q. What can you do to make sure you never allow your circumstances to keep you from having the joy of the Lord?

4. Prayer Focus

Pray that your children will have joy no matter what circumstances they are facing.  Pray that they will remember that joy is not optional because they know that God is with them always.

We are Better Together

Posted on Updated on

Family Devotional Adult 9-24-17

Family Devotional Kids 9-24-17

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Adult & Teen Discussion Guide

1. Primary Statement

We live in a culture where people are becoming more and more isolated. From online shopping to text messages, technology is slowly chipping away at the social interactions in our lives, and leaving us vulnerable to the strategies of our spiritual enemy. The life God has planned for us is one that’s lived together in community.

2. Bible Verse

Isolation leaves you weak.

Ecclesiastes 4:1 [NLT] “Again, I observed all the oppression that takes place under the sun. I saw the tears of the oppressed, with no one to comfort them. The oppressors have great power, and their victims are helpless.” 

Q. Have you ever felt alone, even around people? 

Q. Think of the time(s) in your life when you felt the most isolated. How close to God did you feel in that time? How fulfilled or unsatisfied did you feel?

3. Discussion

Strength and purpose is found in sharing life with each other.

Ecclesiastes 4:12 [NLT] “A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.”

When we work together, we’ve got each others’ backs. We can be an encouragement when someone else is down, a word of caution when someone else is straying off God’s path – and they can be that for us. When we pour into someone else’s life, we can find the purpose and value in our own. 

Q. How connected do you feel to others today? How about in the church?

Q. If you’re more isolated than you want / should be, what steps can you take this week to help change the situation?

4. Prayer Focus

Take a few minutes as a family and thank God for the people that He’s put in your life. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you to start and invest in relationships that will help you and others live stronger, God-pleasing lives.


Family with Small Children Discussion Guide

1. Power Verse

John 16:33  “I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”

“No Matter What Happens – Jesus Gives Me Peace!”

In our brand new series, “Soul Food”, we will find out the key ingredients for a healthy Christian life.  This week, we learn that suffering is one of those ingredients.  Too many people have the idea that once you become a Christian, everything is going to go smoothly and you will never have a tough time in life.  But that is not what Jesus taught us.  Suffering isn’t only a “possibility” – Jesus said it is a guarantee.  Bad things will happen to us even as we follow Him.  Suffering is part of the deal.

2. Bible Reading

Read:  Acts 6:8-7:54

Stephen was full of God’s grace and power. He did great wonders and signs among the people. But members of the group called the Synagogue of the Freedmen began to oppose him. Some of them were Jews from Cyrene and Alexandria. Others were Jews from Cilicia and Asia Minor. They all began to argue with Stephen. 10 But he was too wise for them. That’s because the Holy Spirit gave Stephen wisdom whenever he spoke.

11 Then in secret they talked some men into lying about Stephen. They said, “We heard Stephen speak evil things against Moses and against God.”

12 So the people were stirred up. The elders and the teachers of the law were stirred up too. They arrested Stephen and brought him to the Sanhedrin. 13 They found witnesses who were willing to tell lies. These liars said, “This fellow never stops speaking against this holy place. He also speaks against the law. 14 We have heard him say that this Jesus of Nazareth will destroy this place. He says Jesus will change the practices that Moses handed down to us.”

15 All who were sitting in the Sanhedrin looked right at Stephen. They saw that his face was like the face of an angel.

Stephen Speaks to the Sanhedrin

Then the high priest questioned Stephen. “Is what these people are saying true?” he asked.

“Brothers and fathers, listen to me!” Stephen replied. “The God of glory appeared to our father Abraham. At that time Abraham was still in Mesopotamia. He had not yet begun living in Harran. ‘Leave your country and your people,’ God said. ‘Go to the land I will show you.’ (Genesis 12:1)

“So Abraham left the land of Babylonia. He settled in Harran. After his father died, God sent Abraham to this land where you are now living. God didn’t give him any property here. He didn’t even give him enough land to set his foot on. But God made a promise to him and to all his family after him. He said they would possess the land. The promise was made even though at that time Abraham had no child. Here is what God said to him. ‘For 400 years your family after you will be strangers in a country not their own. They will be slaves and will be treated badly. But I will punish the nation that makes them slaves,’ God said. ‘After that, they will leave that country and worship me here.’ (Genesis 15:13,14) Then God made a covenant with Abraham. God told him that circumcision would show who the members of the covenant were. Abraham became Isaac’s father. He circumcised Isaac eight days after he was born. Later, Isaac became Jacob’s father. Jacob had 12 sons. They became the founders of the 12 tribes of Israel.

“Jacob’s sons were jealous of their brother Joseph. So they sold him as a slave. He was taken to Egypt. But God was with him. 10 He saved Joseph from all his troubles. God made Joseph wise. He helped him to become the friend of Pharaoh, the king of Egypt. So Pharaoh made Joseph ruler over Egypt and his whole palace.

11 “There was not enough food for all Egypt and Canaan. This brought great suffering. Jacob and his sons couldn’t find food. 12 But Jacob heard that there was grain in Egypt. So he sent his sons on their first visit. 13 On their second visit, Joseph told his brothers who he was. Pharaoh learned about Joseph’s family. 14 After this, Joseph sent for his father Jacob and his whole family. The total number of people was 75. 15 Then Jacob went down to Egypt. There he and his family died. 16 Some of their bodies were brought back to Shechem. They were placed in a tomb Abraham had bought. He had purchased it from Hamor’s sons at Shechem. He had purchased it for a certain amount of money.

17 “In Egypt the number of our people grew and grew. It was nearly time for God to make his promise to Abraham come true. 18 Then ‘a new king came to power in Egypt. Joseph didn’t mean anything to him.’ (Exodus 1:8) 19 The king was very evil and dishonest with our people. He treated them badly. He forced them to throw out their newborn babies to die.

20 “At that time Moses was born. He was not an ordinary child. For three months he was taken care of by his family. 21 Then he was placed outside. But Pharaoh’s daughter took him home. She brought him up as her own son. 22 Moses was taught all the knowledge of the people of Egypt. He became a powerful speaker and a man of action.

23 “When Moses was 40 years old, he decided to visit the people of Israel. They were his own people. 24 He saw one of them being treated badly by an Egyptian. So he went to help him. He got even by killing the man. 25 Moses thought his own people would realize that God was using him to save them. But they didn’t. 26 The next day Moses saw two Israelites fighting. He tried to make peace between them. ‘Men, you are both Israelites,’ he said. ‘Why do you want to hurt each other?’

27 “But the man who was treating the other one badly pushed Moses to one side. He said, ‘Who made you ruler and judge over us? 28 Are you thinking of killing me as you killed the Egyptian yesterday?’ (Exodus 2:14) 29 When Moses heard this, he escaped to Midian. He lived there as an outsider. He became the father of two sons there.

30 “Forty years passed. Then an angel appeared to Moses in the flames of a burning bush. This happened in the desert near Mount Sinai. 31 When Moses saw the bush, he was amazed. He went over for a closer look. There he heard the Lord say, 32 ‘I am the God of your fathers. I am the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.’ (Exodus 3:6) Moses shook with fear. He didn’t dare to look.

33 “Then the Lord said to him, ‘Take off your sandals. You must do this because the place where you are standing is holy ground. 34 I have seen my people beaten down in Egypt. I have heard their groans. I have come down to set them free. Now come. I will send you back to Egypt.’ (Exodus 3:5,7,8,10)

35 “This is the same Moses the two men of Israel would not accept. They had said, ‘Who made you ruler and judge?’ But God himself sent Moses to rule the people of Israel and set them free. He spoke to Moses through an angel. The angel had appeared to him in the bush. 36 So Moses led them out of Egypt. He did wonders and signs in Egypt, at the Red Sea, and for 40 years in the desert.

37 “This is the same Moses who spoke to the Israelites. ‘God will send you a prophet,’ he said. ‘He will be like me. He will come from your own people.’ (Deuteronomy 18:15) 38 Moses was with the Israelites in the desert. He was with the angel who spoke to him on Mount Sinai. Moses was with our people of long ago. He received living words to pass on to us.

39 “But our people refused to obey Moses. They would not accept him. In their hearts, they wished they were back in Egypt. 40 They told Aaron, ‘Make us a god who will lead us. This fellow Moses brought us up out of Egypt. But we don’t know what has happened to him!’ (Exodus 32:1) 41 That was the time they made a statue to be their god. It was shaped like a calf. They brought sacrifices to it. They even enjoyed what they had made with their own hands. 42 But God turned away from them. He let them go on worshiping the sun, moon and stars. This agrees with what is written in the book of the prophets. There it says,

“ ‘People of Israel, did you bring me sacrifices and offerings
    for 40 years in the desert?
43 You have taken with you the shrine of your false god Molek.
    You have taken with you the star of your false god Rephan.
    You made statues of those gods to worship.
So I will send you away from your country.’ (Amos 5:25–27)
    God sent them to Babylon and even farther.

44 “Long ago our people were in the desert. They had with them the holy tent. The tent was where the tablets of the covenant law were kept. Moses had made the holy tent as God had commanded him. Moses made it like the pattern he had seen. 45 Our people received the tent from God. Then they brought it with them when they took the land of Canaan. God drove out the nations that were in their way. At that time Joshua was Israel’s leader. The tent remained in the land until David’s time. 46 David was blessed by God. So David asked if he could build a house for the God of Jacob. 47 But it was Solomon who built the temple for God.

48 “But the Most High God does not live in houses made by human hands. As God says through the prophet,

49 “ ‘Heaven is my throne.
    The earth is under my control.
What kind of house will you build for me?
    says the Lord.
    Where will my resting place be?
50 Didn’t my hand make all these things?’ (Isaiah 66:1,2)

51 “You stubborn people! You won’t obey! You won’t listen! You are just like your people of long ago! You always oppose the Holy Spirit! 52 Was there ever a prophet your people didn’t try to hurt? They even killed those who told about the coming of the Blameless One. And now you have handed him over to his enemies. You have murdered him. 53 The law you received was given by angels. But you haven’t obeyed it.”

Stephen Is Killed

54 When the members of the Sanhedrin heard this, they became very angry. They were so angry they ground their teeth at Stephen.

Q. What did Stephen do that didn’t sit well with the other religious leaders?

Q. What were they afraid would happen if Stephen continued?

Q. What did the religious leaders do to ruin Stephen’s reputation?  What did they do when that didn’t stop Stephen from sharing about Jesus?

Q. What did Stephen look to Heaven and say right before he died?

3. Discussion

Life is full of troubles and difficulties.  Each day, we will be in a fight against our enemy, the devil.  But Jesus has already defeated the devil, so we do not have to be afraid or worried.  Although life is full of “many trials and sorrows,” we can have peace in our hearts and minds because Jesus has “overcome the world.”  If we trust Him and never give up, we will win the victory!

Q. What are some ways that you might suffer for your faith today?

Q. How should you prepare yourself for the suffering you know will eventually happen as a follower of Jesus?

4. Prayer Focus

Pray that your children will not be afraid or discouraged when suffering comes their way.  Pray that they will stand firm in their faith in Jesus.  Pray that they will take heart, knowing that He has overcome the world!

Better Together

Posted on Updated on

Family Devotional 8-6-17 AdultsFamily Devotional 8-6-17 Kids

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Adult & Teen Discussion Guide

1. Bible Verse

“A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.” (Ecclesiastes 4:12, NLT) 

2. Application

We are better together!

The scriptures teach that we are not intended to go through life by ourselves, but rather God intends that we would be a part of a community of faith.

One of the primary purposes of this community of faith is DISCIPLESHIP!

Discipleship is the passing on of biblical truths from one generation of believers to another.

 

3. Discussion

How is discipleship accomplished?

“You have heard me teach things that have been confirmed by many reliable witnesses. Now teach these truths to other trustworthy people who will be able to pass them on to others.” (2 Timothy 2:2, NLT) 

Discuss with your family or friends how important friendship based 

relationships are to the advancement of the Kingdom of God.

Q. How strategic are you about using your relationships for encouraging others in the things of the Lord?

4. Prayer Focus

Lord, reveal to me how I can be a part of friendship/interest based groups and through the relationships built, move people closer to you.


Family with Small Children Discussion Guide

1. Power Verse

“Forgiving Others”

Matthew 6:14  “If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you.” 

Forgiving someone for stepping on your toe may be easy, but what about someone who really hurts your feelings?  Jesus taught us that we must forgive EVERYONE in order to be forgiven.  This is an important lesson for our children to learn as they begin to face people who may be difficult to forgive.

2. The Word

 

Read:  Matthew 18:21-35

“Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?” Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times. “Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand bags of gold was brought to him. Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt. “At this the servant fell on his knees before him. ‘Be patient with me,’ he begged, ‘and I will pay back everything.’  The servant’s master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go. “But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred silver coins. He grabbed him and began to choke him. ‘Pay back what you owe me!’ he demanded. “His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay it back.’  “But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt. When the other servants saw what had happened, they were outraged and went and told their master everything that had happened.  “Then the master called the servant in. ‘You wicked servant,’ he said, ‘I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?’ In anger his master handed him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed.  “This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart.”

 

3. Discussion 

Q. How many times did Jesus say we should forgive someone?  What lesson do we learn from the servant in this story Jesus told? 

Q. What was Jesus’ final statement in verse 35?

Q. Do you think it is fair that you should have to forgive people who have hurt you?

Jesus was teaching his disciples and others that we must forgive others, not once but over and over again.  Forgiveness is not an option.  If we want Jesus to forgive us, we have to forgive others who have hurt us. 

4. Prayer Focus

Sometimes, forgiving people who have hurt us isn’t easy.  Jesus isn’t saying forget what they have done to you, but He is saying forgive them.  Forgiveness is possible because Jesus has forgiveness us.  He can help us to forgive others who have hurt us.  Ask if anyone in your family has someone they need to forgive.   Pray together that God will help you forgive others.

We are One

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Unity isn’t a destination- it’s a constant effort, pushing back against the divisive forces in the world around us. 

If you are having trouble reading it, here is the family-devotional-11-20-16 pdf download.


We want to invite you to join this home discipleship program designed to facilitate Bible reading, discussion, and prayer.

There are two pages in the Family Discipleship Guide.  One page is for teen & adult discussion and the other is for kids.

  1. Choose the discipleship outline that works for you and/or your family.
  2. Sit down and read through the scriptures and questions each week and then take some time to discuss your thoughts.
  3. Later in the week we ask that you take time to pray for each other and for specific needs.
  4. Text DISCIPLE to 24587 after each prayer and discussion time or comment below so that we can celebrate with you, who are deepening your knowledge.

As always, please feel free to ask questions.

Who’s Report Will You Believe?

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I’m not sure how many of you frequent Facebook but I would guess that many of you do.  One of the things that most often frustrates me about the postings there are the ones that sound something like…. “Ten reasons why youth are leaving your church”, or “Why everybody hates church music,” or “64 reasons American Churches are Dying.”  I just don’t get it!  First, what makes the people who write these things experts on the church in America, and how were they able to sample a sufficient number of churches to make such all-inclusive remarks?  No one has ever visited our church to assess its health and I’ve never gotten a call asking me about how our youth or music ministry is going.

In truth, this feels more like an attempt to shape the narrative in our country in regard to the church.  Surely we’ve learned by now that one of the ploys of those opposed to a thing is to simply begin reporting on it’s demise and before long people believe it’s dead and actual death soon follows.  My personal experience today is that the truth is far from these reports.

I’ve got many pastor friends that are reporting great advancement of their churches.  Here at Abundant Life we are experiencing growth and advancement across the board and we are expecting more and more.  Walls that have kept people apart for generations are being torn down and in almost every area of ministry we are experiencing an abundance of life!  You can feel that what historically has been called revival is coming to the river bend and young and old alike are drawing closer and closer to God.  We’re coming off of one of our greatest financial years in the history of the church and we are touching not only our region but all over the world!

In short… Who’s report will you believe?  Those who would report the church’s demise are simply not telling the truth or any semblance of the truth.  God is growing his church and just as always… Nothing will prevail against it!

 

Blessings!

Tending Sheep

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We’ll today we come to the last chapter of John  and the last day of our prayer and fasting.  By the time you read this, I and the team will be in Panama.  I’ll continue to blog from there but there will be some gaps because we will be in areas where I won’t be able to get anything out.  Here in chapter twenty one is a section of scripture that the Lord used several years ago to teach me a powerful truth about the church.

Let me set the stage.  In the church world today there are those who are doing a style of church designed to target a specific age group.  When asked about what they are doing and why, I have heard them say many times that their church, “isn’t for everyone” or that they are only going after the young.

Can I be so bold as to say that I don’t agree with this thinking?  I honestly don’t believe that this is the sort of thing that Jesus intended in the scriptures, because of something in this chapter.  Notice with me, verses fifteen through seventeen.

15 When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?”  “Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.”  16 Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.”  17 The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Feed my sheep.”

What I want you to notice is the fact that Jesus changes something each of the three times he questions Peter.  The first time Jesus mentions “feeding” his lambs.  The second time he mentions “taking care” of his sheep.  The third time Jesus tells Peter to “feed his sheep”.  What do I think is significant here?  The church is made up of both lambs and sheep, young and old; and we ministers are to both care for and feed those people.

My firm conviction is that every local congregation can only be healthy if it has the whole range of both physical and spiritual ages.  There is great strength when you combine the wisdom of age with the energy of youth.  We are often called the “body” of Christ.  We are literally his hands and feet in this world. As such we need the variety and diversity that is lost if we become any single group.  Like a family, I believe that we were intended by God to exist together with young and old loving and blessing each other.

I don’t mind bragging on the church that I pastor. Abundant Life Community Church in Alton and Wood River are the best example of this that I have ever found. It’s a place where lambs and sheep worship, serve, grow, and live together.  We don’t struggle over styles of decor or music.  Rather, there is a culture of missions and purpose and a divine sense of God’s calling upon us to reach the world.  It’s an incredible place to serve!  Why?  Because it’s a great flock of sheep!

Blessings!