Money

The Kingdom of God

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Jesus talked a lot about God’s “Kingdom.” Over 100 times in the gospels He mentions it, trying to explain it to people whose minds were stuck on a physical kingdom. God’s kingdom isn’t a place, it’s a state of being, where He’s the boss.

1. Read

Luke 17:20-21 [MSG] “Jesus, grilled by the Pharisees on when the kingdom of God would come, answered, ‘The kingdom of God doesn’t come by counting the days on the calendar. Nor when someone says, ‘Look here!’ or, ‘There it is!’ And why? Because God’s kingdom is already among you.”

What the pharisees couldn’t understand was that you don’t enter God’s kingdom by being born somewhere, or traveling somewhere, or waiting for some new political leader. You enter it by submitting to God’s leadership – serving Him as King.

  • Before this week’s lesson, did you think of the “Kingdom of God” as a place (like heaven), or a state of being?
  • Are there people you know who believe in God, but don’t submit to His leadership?
  • Are they in the kingdom, or not?

2. Challenge

Matthew 13:47-50 [NLT] “Again, the Kingdom of Heaven is like a fishing net that was thrown into the water and caught fish of every kind. When the net was full, they dragged it up onto the shore, sat down, and sorted the good fish into crates, but threw the bad ones away. That is the way it will be at the end of the world. The angels will come and separate the wicked people from the righteous, throwing the wicked into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

Kingdom citizenship is required to enter heaven. We have to show people the way, so they don’t wind up in that fiery furnace!

  • Who are the people in your life who need to enter God’s kingdom? Make a to-do list for this week: what can you do to point them toward Him?

3. Prayer Focus

Take some time to reaffirm your submission to God’s leadership. Ask the Holy Spirit to use your life as an inspiration to spiritually lost people around you, pointing them to Him.


Family with Small Children Discussion Guide

Buried Treasure

1. Power Verse

Matthew 6:21 “Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.”

What’s Up: “I’m Gonna Store Up Treasure In Heaven!”

This week, we finish our series called, “Living Large.” In this series, we’ve been learning how to handle our money and possessions God’s way.

2. Read

2 Corinthians 8:1-4 “Brothers and sisters, we want you to know about the grace that God has given to the churches in Macedonia.  They have suffered a great deal. But in their suffering, their joy was more than full. Even though they were very poor, they gave very freely.  I tell you that they gave as much as they could. In fact, they gave even more than they could. Completely on their own, they begged us for the chance to share in serving the Lord’s people in that way.”

3. Discussion

  • Why do you think the Macedonian churches wanted so badly to give?
  • How is it possible to give beyond your ability?
  • What does it mean to sacrifice?
  • Have you and your family given sacrificially in the past? If so, how did you feel about it?

Talk to your kids honestly about some of the ways you sacrifice for them, particularly how you sometimes give up things you want or need so that they can have things they want or need. Tell them that you willingly give up these things because you love them and it brings you joy to be able to give to them.

Then tell your kids that this week, as a family, you’re going to practice intentional sacrifice—you’re going to give up something your family wants or needs and give that item or the money you would have used to buy that item to someone else. Brainstorm for a few minutes to think of things your family enjoys or uses frequently. A few suggestions are certain foods, renting movies, eating out, etc.

Then discuss what you want to do with the money you saved. Do you want to buy some groceries or a gift card to a restaurant for another family, put gas in someone else’s car, or put the money in the offering at church? Whatever you decide to do, do it together as a family. Even if you can afford it, don’t buy the item for yourself—go the entire week without it.

4. Prayer Focus

Thank God for not only supplying everything you need, but for giving you the chance to supply someone else with what they need.

Powerful Prayer

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Let’s be honest – sometimes prayer feels like a joy and sometimes it feels like a chore. Sometimes it seems fresh and inspired; other times, it’s as mindless as reciting the pledge of allegiance to open school. When we think about the reality of hell though, our prayer life should become focused, urgent and Spirit-led.

1. Read

Jude 20:21 [ESV] “But you, beloved, building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit,  keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life.”

In order to be a beacon of light to point others to God’s salvation, your spirit and body need to be aligned with God. That happens when you pray.

  • When Jude says “praying in the Holy Spirit,” do you think he means speaking in unknown languages, or having your known-language prayer directed by the Spirit? Or is it both?
  • What are a few places in your life where your spirit and human nature get out of alignment with God’s way? Give some examples of how your effectiveness as a witness would be different with more spiritual strength in those areas.

2. Challenge

2 Corinthians 10:4 [NASB95] “For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses.

We’re not fighting physical fortresses, but strongholds in the minds of the spiritually lost that make it hard for them to receive the good news of salvation. They’re called “fortresses” for a reason – they won’t go down with half-hearted, lip-service prayer. If we intend to do battle, we need to pray like warriors!

  • What are some examples of spiritual fortresses in the minds of the spiritually lost around you?
  • Think of the most firmly-entrenched Republican or Democrat you know. Could their political views be changed by a social media post? How about a well thought-out, persuasive argument? Probably not. Now, imagine that level of mental fortress in a spiritually lost person in your life. How should that shape your prayers for them? What specifically should you ask God to do?

3. Prayer Focus

Take some time to ask God fervently to align your spirit with His, and to tear down spiritual fortresses in the minds of the spiritually lost people in your life. Be specific, use their names, pray in the Spirit, and don’t be in a hurry!


Family with Small Children Discussion Guide

Are You Smarter Than An Ant?

1. Power Verse

Matthew 6:33 “Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.”

What’s Up: “My Money Is God’s Money, So I Will Use It WELL!”

This week, we continue our series called, “Living Large”. In this series, we are learning how to handle our money and possessions God’s way.

2. Discussion

I want you to imagine that the local bank is giving out $100 bills to everyone wearing a ball cap who shows up at the bank on Monday at noon.

  • What would happen if you showed up on Sunday instead of Monday?
  • What would happen if you showed up at the right time, but didn’t have on a ball cap?
  • What would happen if you showed up at the right time wearing a cowboy hat?
  • What if you got really excited about what the bank was doing and told everybody you knew about it, but forgot to go to the bank yourself?
  • Whose fault would it be if you didn’t get the $100?

3. Read

Malachi 3:8-10 “Will a mere human being dare to steal from God? But you rob me! “You ask, ‘How are we robbing you?’ “By holding back your offerings. You also steal from me when you do not bring me a tenth of everything you produce. So you are under my curse. In fact, your whole nation is under my curse. That is because you are robbing me. Bring the entire tenth to the storerooms in my temple. Then there will be plenty of food. Test me this way,” says the Lord. “Then you will see that I will throw open the windows of heaven. I will pour out so many blessings that you will not have enough room to store them.”

  • What does God expect us to do with the money we receive?
  • How much do we pay when we tithe? For example, if you had $10, how much would you tithe on it?
  • Why do you think God asks us to tithe? Does He need the money?

4. Prayer Focus

God asks us to tithe, so we learn to trust Him instead of our money. When we obey Him by tithing, we position ourselves to be blessed in the future. Spend time thanking God for the money He’s given to you and your children and asking Him to help you trust Him enough to always pay your tithe.

Erasing Hell

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Hell is a real place. As Christians, we typically believe in a literal hell, but have the concept pushed so far into the corners of our awareness that it has little to no impact on our lives. If we want to do this God-life the right way, we need to live like there’s a hell to be avoided.

1. Read

Matthew 25:41 [NASB95] “Then He will also say to those on His left, ‘Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels…”

Hell is a very real place, with very real regret and suffering. Any concept less than that will fall short as a motivation for us and for the people we love.

  • What was your concept of hell as a child? How was it talked about in your family, peers and church?
  • How is today’s cultural understanding of hell different from when you were growing up?
  • How is your personal understanding different? Are those changes positive or negative?

2. Challenge

Matthew 6:14-15 [NASB95] “For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions.”

It’s easy to say you’ve forgiven someone while still harboring anger and resentment in your heart. The kind of forgiveness God expects, though, is complete restoration of the relationship.

  • Think of a time when you forgave someone who wronged you – but you still didn’t like them. Maybe you even wished them ill. Now think of a time you’ve asked God for forgiveness. Imagine Him “forgiving” you, but still disliking you, and even looking for ways to pay you back for your wrongdoing. How “forgiven” would you feel?

  • God’s forgiveness is a model for what He expects of us. What offenses do you still carry hard feelings over? What could you do this week to move toward restoration, and forgive more like God does?

3. Prayer Focus

Take a few minutes to thank God for rescuing you from an eternal future in hell. Ask the Holy Spirit to keep the reality of hell in your mind as motivation to live right, forgive others, and share the good news of His offer of salvation.


Family with Small Children Discussion Guide

I Want it Now

1. Power Verse

Luke 12:15 “Beware! Guard against every kind of greed. Life is not measured by how much you own.”

What’s Up: “I Won’t Be Greedy For More And More Stuff!”

This week, we continue our series called, “Living Large”. In this series, we are learning how to handle our money and possessions God’s way.

2. Activity

Place a plate of candy, cookies, or some other food your children really enjoy in front of them. Tell them they can have one piece right now, BUT if they’ll wait until you come back, they can have two. Then leave the room, telling them to stay there until you come back. Depending on the age of your children, you should stay away for 2-10 minutes. Come back and tell them if they didn’t eat the candy or cookie, they can have two now.

  • Did you eat the candy or cookie? Why or why not?

  • How did you feel while you were waiting for me to come back?

  • Was it hard or easy to resist the temptation to eat the candy or cookie?

  • If you ate the candy or cookie, how do you feel now?

  •  If you didn’t eat the candy or cookie, how do you feel now?

3. Discussion

This activity is kind of like saving money. Sometimes you see something you want to buy, but if you wait to buy it, you might either have more money or discover that you don’t want it after all.

  • Have you ever bought anything that you later regretted buying? What was it? 
  • Why did you regret buying it?
  • What are some ways you can prevent this from happening in the future?

God wants us to handle the money He gives us wisely, and buying things on an impulse isn’t a wise way to spend money.

4. Prayer Focus

Spend time thanking God for the money He’s given to you and your children and asking Him to help you give, save, and spend it wisely.

Big Impact

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We all want to have a big impact for God – to see poverty eradicated, or the lines of racism erased, to see dozens, or even hundreds of people give their lives to Jesus as a result of our service. God wants the big impact, too, but He typically accomplishes it in much subtler ways – in the little things.

1. Read

Luke 13:18-19 [NLT] “Then Jesus said, “What is the Kingdom of God like?…It is like a tiny mustard seed that a man planted in a garden; it grows and becomes a tree…”

God loves building big things out of small beginnings! Just like a mustard seed, your contribution to God’s grand, worldwide scheme might seem small, but through the Holy Spirit’s direction, little acts of obedience can produce major victories for His mission.

  • What was your missions pledge for 2019? (if you haven’t made one yet… make one!) In the grand scheme of things, does it seem like a little, or a lot? Now, think of Jesus feeding 5,000 people with 5 bread loaves and 2 fish. Did He need a lot to start with, or did He just need one person’s obedience? What sort of impact do you think God can produce through your obedience?

2. Challenge

Mark 4:32 [NIV] “Yet when planted, [the mustard seed] grows and becomes the largest of all garden plants, with such big branches that the birds can perch in its shade.”

Sometimes, it feels like we put in the work, and nothing is happening! Not every seed planted sprouts up overnight, but under the surface, the Holy Spirit is always working in the lives of people, more than we realize. Think of a few decisions you made today that were affected by your commitment to serve God. 

  • Did they have an obvious, immediate impact for His kingdom? If not, imagine some ways that little decisions might have a big impact over time.

  • List a few people who have had a large spiritual impact on you. Did they accomplish that impact in one large gesture, or was it the accumulation of a lot of seemingly-insignificant things over a period of time?

3. Prayer Focus

Take a few minutes to thank God for the people who sowed seeds of obedience so that you could hear the gospel. Ask Him to take your behaviors, your influence, your talents and your finances, and accomplish big stuff with them for His cause.


Family with Small Children Discussion Guide

Follow the Leader

1. Power Verse

Ephesians 5:1 “Follow God’s example in everything you do…”

What’s Up: “I Will Follow God’s Plan For My Money And Stuff!”

This week, we start a brand new series called, “Living Large”. In this series, we are learning how to handle our money and possessions God’s way. This week, we learned to “Follow the Leader.”

2. Activity

(Set Up: Go through your house and place a small amount of money [loose change is fine] in various locations.) Play Follow the Leader, doing the following:

  • Do fun, safe activities that lead them to the places you’ve hidden the money. Give them the money when you get there.
  • Do things that you normally wouldn’t allow your children to do, such as walk on top of the furniture, kick the walls, etc. When you stop, point out that there’s no money around.

Play Simon Says, doing the following:

  • Give fun, safe commands, such as turn in circles, jog in place, do jumping jacks, etc. After “Simon” tells them to stop, give them a coin.
  • Give commands without saying Simon says that you normally wouldn’t want your children to do, such as kick your brother, pinch your sister, pick your nose, etc. Give a coin only to the children who DIDN’T obey the command.

3. Discussion

How are these games like the way we should handle our money? 

God blesses us when we tithe and give our money because that’s what the Bible says. When we’re unsure about how to spend our money, we should follow the example or ask for help from people who are obeying God.

4. Prayer Focus

Spend time thanking God for all of the money He gives us, and ask Him to help your children spend and save it the way He wants them to.

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.

Cornerstone- Blessings

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Family Devotional Adults 4-16-17

Family Devotional Kids 4-16-17


Adult & Teen Discussion Guide

1. Primary Statement

A life built on the Cornerstone is a life full of blessing! Jesus’ death and resurrection are not just about getting into heaven, they’re the basis of a new agreement between God and humanity.

2.Bible Verse & Talking Point

Psalm 1:1-6 (ESV)

“Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers. The wicked are not so, but are like chaff that the wind drives away. Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous; for the Lord knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish.”

Q. What are some ways you’ve experienced God’s blessings?  

Q. What are a few hardships that living life God’s way protects you from?

Q. What are some ways that living God’s way makes life better for others around you?

3. Application

 

Remember, the biblical idea of “blessing” is twofold: 

(1) A public declaration of a favored status with God. 

Ephesians 2:19-20 (ESV) 

So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God.”

(2) An endowment of power for prosperity and success. 

Philippians 4:19 (ESV) 

And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.”

4. Wrap up Discussion

Doing things God’s way doesn’t just make your future better, it makes your today better. A life built on the Cornerstone isn’t perfect or pain-free, but it is full of God’s acceptance, prosperity, and success.

5. Prayer Focus

Take a few minutes as a family and thank God for sending Jesus to die in our place, not only for our salvation, but to make this life better.


Family with Small Children Discussion Guide

1. Activity

Find a tree in your yard or near your house, and investigate it. Point out the roots, and explain (or remind them) that trees use their roots to draw water and nutrients from the soil. Point out that trees grow big and strong here because we’re close to the river. Ask them to imagine what would happen if you planted a tree seed in the middle of a desert, or on top of a volcano.

2. Bible Verse

Psalms 1:1,3 (VOICE)

“God’s blessings follow you and await you at every turn: when you don’t follow the advice of those who delight in wicked schemes, when you avoid sin’s highway, when judgment and sarcasm beckon you, but you refuse…You are like a tree, planted by flowing, cool streams of water that never run dry. Your fruit ripens in its time; your leaves never fade or curl in the summer sun. No matter what you do, you prosper.”

3. Application & Talking Point

Q. If God blesses you, does that mean that bad stuff will never happen again? (no)

Q. If we do what God wants, will He give us peace and keep us from hurting ourselves and other people? (yes!)

5. Prayer Focus

Take a few minutes as a family and thank God for sending Jesus to die in our place, not only for our salvation, but to make this life better.

Family Devotional 4-16-17 pdf download

Cornerstone- Money

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Adult & Teen Discussion Guide

1. Primary Statement

Christ should be the cornerstone in every area of our lives, including our finances. How we go about getting material things, and what we do with them when we have them, matters to God. If we want God to bless our finances, we need to do things His way.

2.Bible Verse & Talking Point

Don’t spend your life worrying about money.

Matthew 6:31-32 (ESV) 

“Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all.”

Q: What’s our greatest material need? Are we doing more worrying or trusting about it?  Work hard and earn a good living.

Proverbs 13:4 (NLT) 

“Lazy people want much but get little, but those who work hard will prosper.”

Q. Trusting God to help doesn’t mean we don’t get involved. What’s our greatest financial need at the moment? What does God expect our role to be in meeting it?

3. Application

Give to God first, and trust Him with the rest.

Malachi 3:10 (NLT) 

“‘Bring all the tithes into the storehouse so there will be enough food in my Temple. If you do,’ says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, ‘I will open the windows of heaven for you. I will pour out a blessing so great you won’t have enough room to take it in!’”

Q. Tithing is about trust. Do we believe God will meet our needs if we give to Him first?

 

4. Wrap up Discussion

Live within your means and don’t become a slave to debt.   Proverbs 22:7 says, “The rich rules over the poor, and the borrower is the slave of the lender.”

Q. What are the financial obligations in our life that stress us? Is there a way to scale back?

5. Prayer Focus

Take a few minutes as a family and ask God to help you be grateful, generous and hard-working.


Family with Small Children Discussion Guide

1. Activity

Help your kids make 2 lists. On the first one, have them list some things they don’t have that they want. For the second, have them walk around the house and list all the good things that they already have. Help direct their attention to the less-obvious things, like a toilet that works, food in the fridge, a roof that keeps them dry on rainy days.

2. Bible Verse

Matthew 6:31-32 (NLT)

“So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs.”

3. Application & Talking Point

Having stuff is great – God loves to bless us with good things and reward us for working hard. At the same time, He doesn’t want the most important thing in our lives to be getting stuff. 

When we focus on getting we become greedy and unthankful. It hurts us and it hurts others. Instead, God wants us to be grateful, generous, and hard-working. (Define these words if needed.)

Q. What are some ways God takes care of our family’s needs?

4. Wrap up Discussion

Q. Is it a bad thing to make money or have nice things? (no)

Q. What’s one way you can be grateful? Generous? Hard-working?

5. Prayer Focus

Take a few minutes as a family and ask God to help you be grateful, generous, and hard-working.

Family Devotional 4-2-17 pdf download