Gratitude

It Is Too Painful

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Family Devotional Adult 11-26-17Family Devotional Kid 11-26-17

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Adult & Teen Discussion Guide

1. Primary Statement

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

2. Bible Verse

Sometimes we experience pain as a discipline or a warning.

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

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

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

3. Discussion

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

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

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

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

4. Prayer Focus

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


Family with Small Children Discussion Guide

1. Power Verse

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

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

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

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

2. Discussion

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

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

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

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

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

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

Q. What is God’s grace?

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

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

4. Prayer Focus

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

It Is Too Lonely

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Family Devotional Adult 11-19-17Family Devotional Kid 11-19-17

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Adult & Teen Discussion Guide

1. Primary Statement

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

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

2. Bible Verse

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

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

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

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

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

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

3. Discussion

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

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

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

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

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

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

4. Prayer Focus

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


Family with Small Children Discussion Guide

1. Power Verse

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

Watts Up: “I Will Be Thankful Every Single Day!”

Jesus asked many questions, and from those questions and His teachings we can learn about how to live our lives.  This week’s lesson is important to help us live a life of gratitude!

2. Bible Reading

Read:  Luke 17:11-19

Jesus Heals Ten Men Who Have a Skin Disease

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

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

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

17 Jesus asked, “Weren’t all ten healed? Where are the other nine? 18 Didn’t anyone else return and give praise to God except this outsider?” 19 Then Jesus said to him, “Get up and go. Your faith has healed you.”

Q. What was wrong with the men who stopped to meet Jesus?

Q. What did they want from Jesus?

Q. How many came back to thank Jesus?

Q. What was Jesus’ response?

3. Discussion

Ten men came to Jesus that day.  Ten men had leprosy.  Even though all ten men were healed, only one of them came back to thank Him.  Can you believe that?  How could only one person come to thank Jesus for what He had done?

Q. Have you ever had something amazing happen in your life that you forgot to thank Jesus for?  

Q. Why do you think it is so easy for us to forget to take the time to thank Him?  (We get busy, we forget Jesus is the source of everything, etc.)

Q. What can we do to help remember to thank Jesus for everything we receive?

4. Prayer Focus

Spend time as a family listing, making a chart, or coming up with a fun way to demonstrate all the things you are grateful for that God has given you.  When you are finished, pray together and thank Him for all He has done for you!

It Costs Too Much

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Family Devotional Adult 11-12-17Family Devotional Kid 11-12-17

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Adult & Teen Discussion Guide

1. Primary Statement

Have you ever felt the need to do something, but didn’t follow through because the cost was too high? Everything has a cost – whether money, time or energy – and whether something “costs a lot,” or “costs too much” often depends on who’s asking.

2. Bible Verse

Matthew 10:8 [NKJV] “Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out demons. Freely you have received, freely give.”

Matthew 16:24 [ESV] “Then Jesus told his disciples, ‘If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.’”

When God asks something of us, it often comes at a high cost. We have to remember who’s asking, though – not only is He God the Creator, but He’s the Savior, who has given us so much. 

Q. What’s something God has asked of you that cost a lot? 

Q. When you consider what God has freely given you, does that cost seem greater or smaller?

3. Discussion

2 Corinthians 9:6-8 [ESV] “Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”

Who’s asking doesn’t just determine what we’re willing to give, it determines how we feel about giving it. God isn’t after reluctant givers, obedient givers, or even willing givers. He wants our partnership with Him to be something we celebrate – to give because we love Him.

Q. Have you ever said “yes” to God’s commands because you felt obligated to? In that moment, did you think of Him more as “God the Creator” or “God the Savior?”

Q. What steps could you take this week to redirect your heart to serve God more joyfully?

4. Prayer Focus

Take a few minutes as a family and thank God for blessing you in so many generous ways. Ask the Holy Spirit to develop inside of you the willingness and joy to say “yes” to whatever He commands.


Family with Small Children Discussion Guide

1. Power Verse

Romans 16:20 “The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet…”

Watts Up:  “The Devil Is A Liar, And He’s UNDER MY FEET!”

In our series, “Soul Food”, we learn that swagger is one of the key ingredients for a healthy Christian life.  Swagger is how someone looks, feels, and acts when they know they are going to win.  It’s the way they carry themselves, the way they react to difficulties, the way they handle it when their enemy comes against them.  In the Bible Story, you will see a man who has been attacked by the enemy (the devil), but when Jesus sets him free, he develops some swagger by knowing that Jesus has and will take care of him when he faces difficulty.

2. Bible Reading

Read:  Luke 8:26-39

26 Jesus and his disciples sailed to the area of the Gerasenes across the lake from Galilee. 27 When Jesus stepped on shore, he was met by a man from the town. The man was controlled by demons. For a long time he had not worn clothes or lived in a house. He lived in the tombs. 28 When he saw Jesus, he cried out and fell at his feet. He shouted at the top of his voice, “Jesus, Son of the Most High God, what do you want with me? I beg you, don’t hurt me!” 29 This was because Jesus had commanded the evil spirit to come out of the man. Many times the spirit had taken hold of him. The man’s hands and feet were chained, and he was kept under guard. But he had broken his chains. And then the demon had forced him to go out into lonely places in the countryside.

30 Jesus asked him, “What is your name?”

“Legion,” he replied, because many demons had gone into him. 31 And they begged Jesus again and again not to order them to go into the Abyss.

32 A large herd of pigs was feeding there on the hillside. The demons begged Jesus to let them go into the pigs. And he allowed it. 33 When the demons came out of the man, they went into the pigs. Then the herd rushed down the steep bank. They ran into the lake and drowned.

34 Those who were tending the pigs saw what had happened. They ran off and reported it in the town and countryside. 35 The people went out to see what had happened. Then they came to Jesus. They found the man who was now free of the demons. He was sitting at Jesus’ feet. He was dressed and thinking clearly. All this made the people afraid. 36 Those who had seen it told the others how the man who had been controlled by demons was now healed. 37 Then all the people who lived in the area of the Gerasenes asked Jesus to leave them. They were filled with fear. So he got into the boat and left.

38 The man who was now free of the demons begged to go with him. But Jesus sent him away. He said to him, 39 “Return home and tell how much God has done for you.” So the man went away. He told people all over town how much Jesus had done for him.

Q. Who ran up to Jesus as he got off the boat?  

Q. Where had he been living?

Q. What did the demon-possessed man say to Jesus?

Q. What did Jesus do to help the demon- possessed man?  Where did the demons go?

Q. What was the man doing when the people from the town came to see?

3. Discussion

Someone with “swagger” knows they are on the winning side. They look past things that stop others because they already know they are going to win.  You can have “swagger” because Jesus has already defeated the devil.  In fact, if you look in the back of the book (the Bible), WE WIN!  Jesus defeated the enemy, and we share in that victory as followers of Jesus!

Q. What are some difficult or impossible circumstances you might face?

Q. How should you respond when faced with difficult and impossible circumstances?

4. Prayer Focus

Lead the children in a prayer of celebration and thanksgiving that Jesus IS victorious and that WE WIN!

The Love of God

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If you are having trouble reading it, here is the family-devotional-9-18-16 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.

Suffering & Shame

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Today I want to bring a powerful section of scripture before you for consideration.  It is powerful not for the wonder that it instills, but rather for the shame and humiliation that it describes.  This section of scripture is found in John chapter nineteen verses twenty three and twenty four.

John 19:23–24 (NIV84)  When the soldiers crucified Jesus, they took his clothes, dividing them into four shares, one for each of them, with the undergarment remaining. This garment was seamless, woven in one piece from top to bottom. 24 “Let’s not tear it,” they said to one another. “Let’s decide by lot who will get it.” This happened that the scripture might be fulfilled which said, “They divided my garments among them and cast lots for my clothing.” So this is what the soldiers did.

Whenever I think about Jesus being beaten and then crucified for you and me, I always try to imagine the extreme physical suffering that Jesus endured.  I picture in my mind, the scourging post and blow after blow falling on Jesus’ body.  I imagine the blood loss and trauma that is poured out upon him.  Ultimately, Jesus arrives at the place of crucifixion and nails are used to pierce his wrists and feet and he is raised up for all to see.  It always moves me to imagine it.  However, there is a piece that I always leave out.

The above verses reminded me that there is another powerful aspect to what Jesus endured for you and me.  These verses remind me that Jesus is crucified naked.  Not only did Jesus endure physical suffering to redeem you and me, but he also endured tremendous shame as he hung naked before the world.  Not only did Jesus take upon himself the pain that was to be mine, he also took the shame.  Something about this causes me to have a deeper appreciation for Jesus.  It’s one thing to square your shoulders and walk boldly into someone else’s punishment, but it’s something entirely different to be shamed for that person.  That’s what Jesus did for us.  He took not only the pain but also the shame.

Can you imagine heaven’s reaction?  Although I have no scriptural basis for this, I imagine that the angels wanted to wipe us out.  Here is their King being openly shamed by his creation.  Surely they did not understand.  Do we?  Do you and I act like we really understand the price that was paid for our salvation?

Father, today we praise you for the price that was paid, that we might be saved!  Let us never take for granted the suffering and shame that Jesus bore for us.

Blessings

Take Your Temperature

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Have you ever been around someone who is never thankful for anything?  I regret to say that I have.  These people are like giant sponges that suck all of the life out of everything and everyone they come in contact with.  They are literally death.

Paul had an interesting take on what refusing to be thankful to God would lead to.  In Romans 1:21-25 we read…

 “Although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened… Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator– who is forever praised.”

Paul said that these people knew God but refused to glorify God or to give Him the thanks that He deserved. 

In short, they refused to be thankful. 

It is the end result of that strikes me as profound.

Their lack of thanksgiving resulted in immorality and sin.  Thanksgiving is an insulator against immorality and sin in our lives.  If you think about it, that makes sense.  A God, who in our minds is worthy of praise and thanksgiving and who is seen as the author of every good thing in our lives, is also a God whom we wish to serve and obey.  A God, who we view so small as to allow us to ignore his blessings and whose justice and righteousness we can disregard, is also one easily disobeyed.

Therefore, thanksgiving is a thermometer for you soul. 

It diagnoses what is really going on inside.

Check yourself today.  Are you a person more prone to complain or to give thanks?  One leads to life and the other to death.

Blessings and have a great Thanksgiving Season!