Self Discipline

Happiness=Doing Your Best

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When asked what they do for fun, not many people list “working really hard.” The truth is, part of the God-character in us as Christians is a robust work ethic – giving whatever we do 100% effort. When we do that consistently, God will reward us.

1. Read

Colossians 3:17 [ESV] “And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus…”

It’s easy to think of Christianity as a part of your life – even a big part – but God wants His character to overlay everything we do. If you really want to live the God-life, you have to go all-in.

  • Think back through your day (or yesterday) and list 6-8 things that you did. (They can be big things, or simple, everyday things.)
  •  For each of those things, how might they be influenced by this overlay of God’s way of living? 
  • Were your decisions influenced at all by your relationship with God?

2. Challenge

Colossians 3:23-24 [ESV] Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward.”

When you give half-effort on a project or assignment, it’s not just a bad reflection on you, it’s an insult to your true boss – GOD. He has great happiness and rewards for those who give their best effort.

  • What’s a hobby, chore, or job that it’s easy for you to give 100% effort on?
  • What’s one that you have a hard time giving effort and attention to?
  • Does God care more about the effort you put on some activities than He does on others? 
  • If not, how does that affect the way you feel about things you typically give half-effort to?

3. Prayer Focus

When you talk to God today, thank Jesus for going all the way through 33 years on this planet, and not doing the cross halfway. Bring up those things that you struggle to give effort on, and ask the Holy Spirit to help you give 100% on them this week.


Family with Small Children Discussion Guide

Resting In God

1. Power Verse

Psalm 23:2 “He lets me rest in green meadows; he leads me beside peaceful streams.”

What’s Up: “I Won’t Be Stressed, ‘Cause God Gives Me Rest!”

This week are continuing in the series “The Good Shepherd.” We learned how God is the Shepherd who brings us peace and rest. Practice reading the Psalms 23 together- focus on Psalms 23:2 after you have read the whole chapter.

2. Read

Psalm 23 “The Lord is my shepherd; I have all that I need. He lets me rest in green meadows; he leads me beside peaceful streams. He renews my strength. He guides me along right paths, bringing honor to his name. Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me. Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me. You prepare a feast for me  in the presence of my enemies. You honor me by anointing my head with oil. My cup overflows with blessings. Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life,and I will live in the house of the Lord forever.”

  • Do you think God cares about us and wants us to stress and worry all the time?
  • What do you think David was trying to teach us in verse two of this Psalm?

That’s right! God wants to teach us to rest in Him! He doesn’t want us to be stressed about school, and sports, and friends, and everything else that can get us down and discouraged- He wants us to learn to come to Him and find Peace and Rest. Let’s look at a famous story from the Bible that we can use to learn this lesson from.

3. Discussion

Luke 10:38-42 (The story of Mary and Martha)“As Jesus and the disciples… came to a certain village where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. Her sister, Mary, sat at the Lord’s feet, listening to what he taught. But Martha was distracted by the big dinner she was preparing. She came to Jesus and said, “Lord, doesn’t it seem unfair to you that my sister just sits here while I do all the work? Tell her to come and help me.” But the Lord said to her, “My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details!There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary hasdiscovered it, and it will not be taken away from her.”

  • What was Martha doing in the story? 
  • What was Mary doing in the story? 
  • Who do you think was doing the “right” thing or the “better” thing?

Some times it isn’t about getting everything done, or being busy, but it’s about simply taking time to be with Jesus! Mary knew that being with Jesus was the best way to rest and find peace in her life. It’s the same way for us- when we are stressed, or worried, or tired, we should go to Jesus to find rest.

4. Prayer Focus

Take time as a family to sit and spend time with Jesus. Pray as a family and sit in His presence. REST together in Him.

Happiness=Serving Others

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Jesus said, “the greatest among you will be your servant.” We’re called to serve and meet the needs of others… which can be a counterintuitive, counter-cultural thing, at times. When we do, though, we not only make God happy – we find happiness ourselves.

1. Read

Romans 12:13 [ESV] “I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment…”

Being a servant to others begins with an accurate understanding of where your position is. As long as you see yourself as more important than others, you’ll never be able to spend yourself to meet their needs.

  • Name 2 or 3 of the most selfless-giving people you’ve known. From what you can tell, do/did they serve out of obligation, or did they just value others more than themselves?
  • How did their selflessness benefit you?
  • If a poll were taken of 100 people close to you, how would they rate your view of your own importance? 
  • Would they label you as selfless, selfish, or somewhere in between?

2. Challenge

1 Peter 5:6 [ESV]“Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you.”

If you puff yourself up full of self-importance, God will have to spend time bringing you back down to earth. If you live humble, though, and serve others, God will raise you up and bring you honor and fulfillment.

  • It’s easy to serve kind, selfless people, but not everyone in life falls into that category. Who are the people in your life who are the hardest to serve? 
  • Why do you think that is? 
  • Does that change God’s expectation of you?
  • Think of a time when you willingly gave time, energy, attention, or money to serve others. How fulfilled did you feel afterward? 
  • Did that act increase or deflate your happiness?

3. Prayer Focus

Take a few minutes to thank Jesus for setting the example of selfless service. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you keep the right view of yourself, so you can invest your life in serving others.


Family with Small Children Discussion Guide

The Good Shepherd

1. Power Verse

Psalm 23:1 “The Lord is my shepherd; I have all that I need.”

What’s Up: “I Will Follow The Lord, ‘Cause He’s My Shepherd!”

This week we started a new series “The Good Shepherd.” We will spend the next few weeks learning how God is the Shepherd who longs to take care of His sheep – Us!

2. Read

Luke 15:1-7 “Then Jesus told them a story.  He said, ‘Suppose one of you has 100 sheep and loses one of them. Won’t he leave the 99 in the open country? Won’t he go and look for the one lost sheep until he finds it?  When he finds it, he will joyfully put it on his shoulders and go home. Then he will call his friends and neighbors together. He will say, ‘Be joyful with me. I have found my lost sheep.’  I tell you, it will be the same in heaven. There will be great joy when one sinner turns away from sin. Yes, there will be more joy than for 99 godly people who do not need to turn away from their sins.”

  • How many sheep were there in the story? What happened to one of the sheep?
  • What did the shepherd do for the one sheep that was missing?
  • Who/What does the sheep represent?

3. Discussion

In our Bible Story, one sheep was missing. The shepherd left 99 of his sheep to go find the one that was lost. We learn from this story that God, our shepherd, will do whatever it takes to find one of his sheep (us!) that is lost or missing. 

  • What do you think it means for a person to be lost or missing? 
  • Why do you think God cares so much about one person who is missing?

That’s Right! God loves us so much, He will do whatever it takes to be in relationship with us. And when we are in relationship with Him, He will do whatever He can to take care of us and meet our needs. He is “The Good Shepherd” who wants to take care of us. He loves us and wants us to have everything we need!!!

4. Prayer Focus

Pray for the members of your family that they will be in right relationship with God. Give each child an opportunity to respond to an opportunity to accept Him. Also, give each child a chance to share a need that maybe they need God to meet as their “Good Shepherd.”

Happiness=Generosity

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Finding happiness in generosity sounds like a contradictory statement – after all, accumulating stuff makes you feel happy, right? Well, in God’s economy, the more you give, the more you’re blessed, and the happiness that comes from giving is way beyond what comes from getting.

1. Read

Luke 6:38 [ESV] “Give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.”

No matter how generous you are, God will always outdo you in the giving department. The blessings may not come to you in dollars, but they’re always abundant.

  • Think of a time when your generosity met someone else’s need.
  • How did it make you feel?
  • What impact did it have on your outlook on life?
  • Giving money is just one way to be generous. What are other ways you can show generosity to others?

2. Challenge

Matthew 6:33 [ESV] “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”

When you receive, it’s a good day for you, but when you give, you’re advancing God’s kingdom – not only in yourself, but in others. People see God’s love and generous heart through your actions, and those qualities point hearts toward Him.

  • Which area in your life is it hardest to be generous in?
  • Any time you say “no” to yourself and “yes” to God, you’re advancing His kingdom (His rulership) in your heart. How has generosity deepened your submission to God’s rule? What can you expect to gain in return for putting His requests ahead of your own interests?

3. Prayer Focus

When you talk to God this week, remember to thank Him for being so generous with you. Ask Him to meet your needs in proportion to the way you meet the needs of others… and then go be as generous as you can!


Family with Small Children Discussion Guide

Should I Be baptized?

1. Power Verse

Acts 2:38 “…Repent and be baptized, every one of you…”

What’s Up: “Baptism Is A Picture Of What God’s Done For Me!”

2. Activity

On a piece of paper, draw some of the following logos or symbols you think your kids will recognize: McDonalds, Target, Superman, Batman, Nike, and Shell Gas. You can also Google “common logos” and let them look at some of the pictures. Ask them to identify each of the logos. Then discuss the following questions: 

  • What do the people who make these signs want you to do when you see one of their symbols? (Help your kids understand that the logos are supposed to make you think about what they represent.)
  • Are the symbols actually the product they represent? For example, is the McDonald logo a real hamburger, or is the Nike swoosh a real shoe?

3. Discussion

Explain to your kids that baptism is a symbol, too, just like the symbols you looked at. Tell them that going into the water symbolizes dying, being under the water symbolizes being buried, and coming out of the water represents being raised from the dead, just like Jesus did. Remind them that Jesus was baptized, too.

  • Why did Jesus get baptized? (To lead us by example.)
  • Why should you get baptized? (It symbolizes to others that you’re following Jesus’ example.)
  • Does getting baptized save you or cause your sins to be forgiven?
  • How do you get saved, if baptism doesn’t save you?

If your kids haven’t been baptized, talk to them about whether they’ve asked Jesus to forgive their sins. If they have, ask them if they’re ready to be baptized. If they haven’t, talk to them more about why it’s important to ask Jesus to save them.

4. Prayer Focus

If your kids have been baptized, talk about the experience. Ask them how they felt and what it meant to them. Finish by praying together.

Happiness=Forgiveness

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Everyone’s looking for happiness – from diet plans, to dating sites, to shopping trips – we’re looking everywhere. And yet, happiness-producing things are already all around us… if we can see them.

1. Read

Romans 14:17 [SEV] “God’s kingdom isn’t about eating and drinking. It is about pleasing God, about living in peace, and about true happiness. All this comes from the Holy Spirit.”

God doesn’t want to snuff out the happiness in your life – He wants to fill your life with it.The instructions we find in the Bible are there to make your life better, and in the end, they produce the kind of happiness that will last.

  • What’s your favorite fruit? Think of all the work that goes into producing it – planting, fertilizing, harvesting, etc. Does the fruit come without the work?
  •  What are some God-adjustments to your life that take effort? What sort of fruit might they produce in your life in the long run? What about in someone else’s life?

2. Challenge

Proverbs 17:9 [ESV] “Whoever covers an offense seeks love, but he who repeats a matter separates close friends.”

Resentment & unforgiveness keep you so focused on the bad in your life that you become unable to appreciate the good. God calls you to forgive, not only for the sake of others, but to keep you from nullifying your own happiness.

  • Think of someone you know who’s bitter or resentful. Is their “right” to be angry making them happier? Are they pleasant to be around? 
  • What are some ways their life might change if they let go of old hurts?
  • List a few things God has forgiven you for. Did He deserve what you did? Did you deserve His forgiveness? In light of His example, what sorts of things should you be willing to forgive when people do them to you?

3. Prayer Focus

Thank God for how ready He is to forgive you when you mess up. Ask the Holy Spirit to highlight old wounds you still hang onto, and to help you to truly forgive, so you can move forward in uninhibited happiness.


Family with Small Children Discussion Guide

Super Science Sunday!

1. Power Verse

Galatians 6:2 “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.”

What’s Up: “God gives us friends and family to help us during tough times.”

The kids experienced wacky science experiments in Overflow Kids Church today, all designed to demonstrate Biblical truths.  Take a few minutes to discuss the service with your kids.  What was their favorite experiment? Did they learn any scientific facts? 

2. The Science

These are some of the experiments that were used in the children’s service, and the Biblical points they demonstrated.

Balloon on a bed of nails: A balloon can be popped by a single nail, but not when placed on a bed full of nails. This reminds us that God gives us friends and family to help us during tough times.

  • Think of a time when you were helped by someone.
  • Have ever been blessed by another person?
  • What are some ways that people can really help each other?

3. Discussion

Inertia Beads Demonstration:  A long string of beads is placed into a cup.  A slight tug on one end of the beads creates an inertia reactions that pulls all of the beads quickly out of the cup.

Proverbs 12:26  “One who is righteous is a guide to his neighbor, but the way of the wicked leads them astray.”

  • Why is it important to have good friends? 
  • What are some ways that our friends might encourage us to make poor decisions? 
  • How can we encourage our friends to be more like Jesus?

4. Prayer Focus

Take a moment to pray for our friends and family members.  Ask God to help each one of us to be good friends that point people toward good decisions and ultimately, closer to God.

Erasing Hell- Part 2

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Whether it’s the night before a test, the last 2 minutes of a game, or the startling realization that you hit snooze too many times, urgency produces results. In the same way, understanding there’s a very real hell and an immanent rapture should produce a healthy dose of urgency in our Christian lives.

1. Read

1 Thessalonians 5:2 [NASB95] “For you yourselves know full well that the day of the Lord will come just like a thief in the night.”

Ever wonder why God’s timing is so secretive? Part of the reason He plays that close to the vest is that He wants us to keep ourselves ready for the rapture – close to Him and far from sin.

  • Jesus could come back for His church tomorrow. Is that more exciting or intimidating? What excites you? What intimidates you?
  • If you knew Jesus was returning 3 days from now, how would that affect your relationship with Him and your submission to Him in the various areas of your life?

2. Challenge

Mark 13:35-36 [NLT] “You, too, must keep watch! For you don’t know when the master of the household will return—in the evening, at midnight, before dawn, or at daybreak. Don’t let him find you sleeping when he arrives without warning. ”

The primary work God needs us to do is to point the people around us to salvation – both by what we say, and how we live. Without our witness, many of those people will spend an eternity in hell. We can’t fall asleep on the job – He needs us working at it every day with a sense of urgency!

  • List a few people in your sphere of influence who are in danger of hell. What could you do this week to show them what a Christian life looks like? 
  • God has given us everything we need to point spiritually lost people toward Him. What are a few of those resources He’s provided? For each one you list, how could you better take advantage of it this week?

3. Prayer Focus

Take a few minutes to thank God for being patient enough to give people time to be saved. Ask the Holy Spirit to keep you in a sense of spiritual urgency to reach people around you with the good news.


Family with Small Children Discussion Guide

God’s Never Ending Love

1. Power Verse

John 9:4 (ESV) “We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming, when no one can work.”

What’s Up: “We must all work to share God’s love!”

2. Activity

Have your children draw a picture of a giant pile of their all time favorite candy.  Hide a piece of this candy somewhere in your house where they will never be able to find it.

Have them imagine if the candy pile they drew would never run out, but somehow it just kept growing and growing.

  • What would do with all of that candy if you really had it?  
  • Where would you try to store it?  Who are some people you might share it with?  
  • Would you be willing to share it with strangers, knowing that it will never run out?

Now tell them to try and find the hidden candy, give them five minutes to try and locate it. After the time is up, take them to the hidden candy and give it to them.

3. Discussion

God has given us a giant pile of His love.  It’s more than we could ever store up and use just for ourselves.  

  • What are some ways that we could share God’s love with others?  

  • Sometimes people don’t know where to find God’s love, but we know right where it is!

  • Think together about some people you know that might need help finding God’s love.  How can we work together to help them find it?

4. Prayer Focus

Spend time thanking God for his never ending love.  Then, start praying for the people who don’t know about God’s love.

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.

Fasting- An Act of Submission

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When we think of “worship,” fasting rarely comes to mind, but in truth, they’re closely related. Fasting and worship share the same root – submission to God.

1. Read

James 4:6-7 [ESV] “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble. Submit yourselves therefore to God.”

Fasting, just like worship, is an act of willful submission. It rarely comes easily, but that’s part of what makes it so powerful. If God is really “Lord,” we owe Him worship, whether we feel like it in the moment or not. Q . What has been the most challenging part of your fast so far? Have you been tempted to cheat, or to quit? How does sticking with it – against your natural desires – help you deepen your devotion to God?

2. Challenge

Psalm 8:1-4 [NLT] “LORD, our Lord, your majestic name fills the earth! Your glory is higher than the heavens…What are mere mortals that you should think about them, human beings that you should care for them?”

Whatever the expression is, worship begins with an understanding that God is, well – God, and you’re not. Before you call on God to meet your larger-than-life need or give you divine wisdom, you have to get off of the throne of your life and bow before Him. Fasting is a season of practicing that dynamic, as you say “no” to your desires, and “yes” to God’s plan. Q . What’s an area of your life that needs divine intervention? Is He Lord in that area of your life right now, or are you? Q . God wants us to be humble, but not to feel broken-down or worthless. How would you describe the right balance between self-worth in God, and humble knee-bowing before His throne?

3. Prayer Focus

Take a minute to search your heart. What are the areas where your will often puts up a fight against God’s way? Ask the Holy Spirit to help you, as you continue a season of fasting, to focus on submitting better in those areas.


Family with Small Children Discussion Guide

Life is a Highway: STOP

1. Power Verse

Galatians 5:25 “…let us follow the Holy Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives.”

What’s up: “S-T-O-P Say No To Sin!”

This week, we continue our series called, “Life Is A Highway”. In this series, we’re learning that life is a lot like a highway. The Bible says that there are two roads that we can choose to travel on. One leads to life in Heaven forever and one leads to sin and death. We have to make sure we are on the road that leads to Heaven.

2. Activity

Ask your kids to make a list of “BIG” sins and “little” sins. When they finish, take turns reading each list.  Sin is dangerous. ALL sin is dangerous. Sadly, many Christians have decided there are “BIG” sins and “little” sins – they divide them up just like we did. There are some sinful habits that we tend to ignore and allow to remain in our lives.

3. Discussion

What are some of the sinful habits we tend to ignore and allow to remain in our lives? Why? ALL sin breaks God’s heart and can cause eternal damage to our souls. It’s important to S.T.O.P. sin in its tracks and defeat those nagging sinful habits that tend to continue to hang around. S – Stop What You Are Doing T – Think About What The Bible Says O – Obey It P – Pray That God Will Give You Strength To Resist It

4. Prayer Focus

Pray for your children if they have been struggling with the same sinful habits over and over. Pray God will help them break those habits and follow the S.T.O.P. method.