Potenital

Jonah: “Enemy”

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It’s always refreshing to see the “bad guys” in life get what they deserve, but in the economy of God’s grace, your enemy isn’t who you think it is.

1. Read

Jonah 3:10-4:3 [NLT] “When God saw what (the people of Nineveh) had done and how they had put a stop to their evil ways, he changed his mind and did not carry out the destruction he had threatened. This change of plans greatly upset Jonah, and he became very angry. …Just kill me now, Lord! I’d rather be dead than alive if whatI predicted will not happen.”

In Jonah’s day, the Assyrians of Nineveh were the “bad guys,” and Jonah was really hoping they’d get the Sodom and Gomorrah treatment.

  • Think of a few people, groups or organizations that feel like enemies of the church, or of you as a Christian. Based on their actions, what kind of judgment (in this life and the next) do they deserve? 
  • How would that make the human side of you feel?
  • Is that God’s preferred outcome for their lives?

2. Challenge

Jonah 4:11 [NLT] “Nineveh has more than 120,000 people living in spiritual darkness, not to mention all the animals,” (God replied). “Shouldn’t I feel sorry for such a great city?”

Luke 6:35-36 [NLT] “…(God) is kind to those who are unthankful and wicked. You must be compassionate, just as your Father is compassionate.”

Through the lens of God’s grace, no human is the enemy. Hell is. God’s greatest desire for the antagonists in your life is not to nuke them, but to guide them back to repentance (genuine life change) by showing kindness and compassion.

  • For those people / groups you listed, what are some ways you or the church as a whole could show them unexpected kindness and compassion?
  • Coupled with an unwavering standard of God’s truth, how do you think these acts of compassion would be received, vs a picket line or boycott?
  • Which approach better fits God’s long-term goal for those people?

3. Prayer Focus

Spend time praying for your “enemies.” Ask God to bless them, even though they don’t deserve it. Ask the Holy Spirit to put love in your heart for them, and to use you to extend His kindness – and truth – to them.


Family with Small Children Discussion Guide

“Spy Kids: How To Survive A Night With The Lions”

1. Power Verse

Psalm 55:16 “But I will call on God, and the Lord will rescue me.”

What’s Up: “Building Good Character Makes Me Strong!”

This week, we continue our series called, “Spy Kids”. In this series, we’re learning from the story of Daniel!

2. Discussion

Before you start, double some grocery bags and fill them with enough books or canned goods so your children can’t lift the bag easily. Then call your children in and ask them to pick up the bag. When they can’t, take one item out and ask them to lift it again. Continue doing this until the bag is easy for them to lift.

  • If you knew that sometime in the future your life would depend on you being able to pick up something this heavy, what would you do? (Some type of weight training where they would start with smaller weights and work up to heavier ones; having someone train them.)
  • You’re going to face many types of problems in life. Some will be easy to overcome, but others may not be. All of the problems will be easier to face if you prepare ahead of time by learning to rely on God.
  • If you never pray, read the Bible, or worship God, how easy do you think it would be to rely on Him when you have a problem?
  • Do you think you could pray or worship for an hour without stopping?
  • How do you learn to pray or worship for longer periods of time?

By starting small and building good spiritual habits now, you’ll have the strength you need to face any problems that may come your way.

3. Prayer Focus

Ask God to help you develop those spiritual habits so you can rely on Him when you face problems.

Jonah: Lost Cause

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Have you ever written someone off as a lost cause? Maybe you wrote yourself off! Let’s be honest – if you look from a human perspective, some people are so far from faith in God it would take a miracle to change them… and that’s exactly what God has in mind.

1. Read

Jonah 3:4-5 [NLT] “On the day Jonah entered the city (Nineveh), he shouted to the crowds: ‘Forty days from now Nineveh will be destroyed!’ The people of Nineveh believed God’s message, and from the greatest to the least, they declared a fast and put on burlap to show their sorrow.”

If you asked an 8th century B.C. Jew who the most unlikely people on the planet were to receive God’s mercy, the Assyrians of Nineveh would’ve topped the list. They were right in the cross-hairs of God’s judgment – but they repented powerfully.

  • Name an individual who seems like a lost cause spiritually. Now, think of a few people groups who fit that description. Do you think God has given up on reaching them? Do you act like He has?

2. Challenge

Jonah 3:4-5 [NLT] “The people of Nineveh believed God’s message…”

Jonah didn’t have angelic vocal chords. It wasn’t his presentation that changed the hearts of a wicked city, it was God’s message. When we write people off as too far gone, we do it with our abilities and strategies in mind. When the Holy Spirit is involved, though, no one is beyond his reach, even the lost causes.

  • You can certainly tell people about God’s grace, but what are some other ways His message can be communicated through you?
  • God didn’t prophecy doom to dishearten the Ninevites; He did it to give them a chance to change (yes – even the worst of the worst!) How does God’s dealing with Nineveh affect the way you view His heart for the lost causes that you listed?

3. Prayer Focus

Talk to God and thank Him for coming to rescue you – even while you were a sinner. Ask Him to help you see those “lost causes” in your life the way He does – as people in need of His message and life-changing power. Then, ask Him to use your life to present that message.


Family with Small Children Discussion Guide

“Spy Kids: Where’s Daniel When You Need Him?”

1. Power Verse

Proverbs 12:26 “The righteous should choose his friends carefully, for the way of the wicked leads them astray.”

What’s Up: “I Will Choose To Have Godly Friends!”

This week, we continue our series called, “Spy Kids”. In this series, we’re learning from the story of Daniel!

2. Discussion

Explain to your children that their lives are like a NASCAR race. Ask them what the goal of a race car driver is. Then explain to them that winning the race of life means living eternally with God. However, in order to win the race, we all need some help.

Every race car driver has a pit crew that keeps his or her car in the best shape possible during the race.

  • What are some of the responsibilities of the pit crew?
  • Would the driver win the race if she had to take care of all those responsibilities by herself? Why not?
  • Can we win the race if we don’t have anyone helping us?

The crew chief is in charge of the entire crew and remains in constant contact with the driver by using microphones and headphones.

  • What kind of person should be the crew chief in our life?
  • Ask your children who owns the car the driver is racing. (Some children may think the driver owns the car, but actually a company owns it.)
  • Who owns our lives?
  • Could we win the race if we didn’t have an owner?
  • Who ultimately should get the credit when we win the race?

Talk about how important it is for us to have people in our lives (“Daniels,” as we learned this week) who will help us win our race.

3. Prayer Focus

Ask God to help you have a good pit crew in your life. Thank Him for owning your life and giving you everything you need to win.

Called for a Purpose

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Family Devotional Adult 10-15-17

Family Devotional Kids 10-15-17

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Adult & Teen Discussion Guide

1. Primary Statement

God has a calling for every person on earth – not just for what he wants someone to do, but more importantly, who he wants them to become. In order to live the God-life to the fullest, you need a clear vision for the calling God has for you.

2. Bible Verse

1 Corinthians 9:24-27 [NLT] “Don’t you realize that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize? So run to win! All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize… I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified.”

Q. Think of the kind of person God has called you to be. What are a few temptations that could pull you off of that track? 

Q. What sorts of things could you do to “discipline your body” like Paul and stay focused?

3. Discussion

Hebrews 11:17-18 [NLT] “It was by faith that Abraham offered Isaac as a sacrifice when God was testing him. Abraham, who had received God’s promises, was ready to sacrifice his only son, Isaac, even though God had told him, ‘Isaac is the son through whom your descendants will be counted.’”

Q. Has God (through the Bible, a sermon, or some other way) ever asked you to do something that didn’t make sense?  How would a clear vision for your calling change the way you view that request? 

Psalm 56:3-4 [NLT] “But when I am afraid, I will put my trust in you. I praise God for what he has promised. I trust in God, so why should I be afraid? What can mere mortals do to me?”

Q. Why do you think praising God for His promise helped David through his fear? How might the same principle work in your life?

4. Prayer Focus

Take a few minutes as a family and thank God for calling you to be something greater than you could be on your own. Ask the Holy Spirit to keep you focused on becoming the person He’s called you to be.


Family with Small Children Discussion Guide

1. Power Verse

 Psalm 92:1 “It is good to give thanks to the Lord, to sing praises to the Most High.” 

“No Matter What May Ever Go Wrong, I Ain’t Gonna Let It Steal My Song!” 

In our series, “Soul Food”, we learn that a joyful song in our heart is one of the key ingredients for a healthy Christian life.  There are times in life when we can be going along, singing a joyful tune, loving everything that’s going on – then suddenly, life hits us like a ton of bricks!  It is easy to get overwhelmed, depressed, and dejected when those times come.  This week, we learn from David during a time he was running for his life from King Saul and how he didn’t let his circumstances steal his song.

2. Bible Reading

Read:  1 Samuel 19; 1 Samuel 22:1,2;   Psalm 34:1-10

1 Samuel 19
Saul Tries to Kill David

19 Saul told his son Jonathan and all the attendants to kill David. But Jonathan liked David very much. So Jonathan warned him, “My father Saul is looking for a chance to kill you. Be very careful tomorrow morning. Find a place to hide and stay there. My father and I will come and stand in the field where you are hiding. I’ll speak to him about you. Then I’ll tell you what I find out.”

Jonathan told his father Saul some good things about David. He said to him, “Please don’t do anything to harm David. He hasn’t done anything to harm you. And what he’s done has helped you a lot. He put his own life in danger when he killed Goliath. The Lord used him to win a great battle for the whole nation of Israel. When you saw it, you were glad. So why would you do anything to harm a man like David? He isn’t guilty of doing anything to harm you. Why would you want to kill him without any reason?”

Saul paid attention to Jonathan. Saul made a promise. He said, “You can be sure that the Lord lives. And you can be just as sure that David will not be put to death.”

So Jonathan sent for David and told him everything he and Saul had said. Then he brought David to Saul. David served Saul as he had done before.

Once more war broke out. So David went out and fought against the Philistines. He struck them down with so much force that they ran away from him.

But an evil spirit sent by the Lord came on Saul. It happened as he was sitting in his house and holding his spear. While David was playing the harp, 10 Saul tried to pin him to the wall with his spear. But David got away from him just as Saul drove the spear into the wall. That night David escaped.

11 Saul sent some men to watch David’s house. He told them to kill David the next morning. But David’s wife Michal warned him. She said, “You must run for your life tonight. If you don’t, tomorrow you will be killed.” 12 So Michal helped David escape through a window. He ran and got away. 13 Then Michal got a statue of a god. She laid it on David’s bed. She covered it with clothes. And she put some goat hair at the place where David’s head would have been.

14 Saul sent the men to capture David. But Michal told them, “He’s sick.”

15 Then Saul sent the men back to see David. He told them, “Bring him up here to me in his bed. Then I’ll kill him.” 16 But when the men entered, the only thing they found in the bed was the statue. Some goat hair was at the place where David’s head would have been.

17 Saul said to Michal, “Why did you trick me like this? Why did you help my enemy escape?”

Michal told him, “He said to me, ‘Help me get away. If you don’t, I’ll kill you.’ ”

18 After David had run away and escaped, he went to Samuel at Ramah. He told him everything Saul had done to him. Then David and Samuel went to Naioth and stayed there. 19 Saul was told, “David is in Naioth at Ramah.” 20 So Saul sent some men to capture him. When they got there, they saw a group of prophets who were prophesying. Samuel was standing there as their leader. Then the Spirit of God came on Saul’s men. So they also began to prophesy. 21 Saul was told about it. So he sent some more men. They began to prophesy too. Saul sent some men a third time. And they also began to prophesy. 22 Finally, Saul decided to go to Ramah himself. He went to the large well at Seku. He asked some people, “Where are Samuel and David?”

“Over in Naioth at Ramah,” they said.

23 So Saul went to Naioth at Ramah. But the Spirit of God even came on him. He walked along and prophesied until he came to Naioth. 24 There he took off his clothes. Then he also prophesied in front of Samuel. He lay there without his clothes on all that day and night. That’s why people say, “Is Saul also one of the prophets?”

1 Samuel 22:1-2  “David left Gath and escaped to the cave of Adullam. His brothers and the other members of his family heard about it. So they went down to join him there. Everyone who was in trouble or owed money or was unhappy gathered around him. He became their commander. About 400 men were with him.”

Psalm 34:1-10

A psalm of David when he was with Abimelek and pretended to be out of his mind. Abimelek drove him away, and David left.

I will thank the Lord at all times.
    My lips will always praise him.
I will find my glory in knowing the Lord.
    Let those who are hurting hear me and be joyful.
Join me in giving glory to the Lord.
    Let us honor him together.

I looked to the Lord, and he answered me.
    He saved me from everything I was afraid of.
Those who look to him have joyful faces.
    They are never covered with shame.
This poor man called out, and the Lord heard him.
    He saved him out of all his troubles.
The angel of the Lord stands guard
    around those who have respect for him.
    And he saves them.

Taste and see that the Lord is good.
    Blessed is the person who goes to him for safety.
You holy people of God, have respect for the Lord.
    Those who respect him have everything they need.
10 The lions may grow weak and hungry.
    But those who look to the Lord have every good thing they need.

Q. Who was trying to kill David?

Q. What did David do when he found King Saul wanted to kill him?

Q. After running for his life,  where did David end up?

Q. What was David’s attitude like in the song he wrote in Psalm 34?

3. Discussion

Even in the midst of danger, sadness, and difficulty, David never let it steal his song!  He knew that having a song in your heart is an important ingredient for a healthy soul!  We can’t allow bad times, attacks from the enemy, or attacks from other people to steal our song.  We have been saved from our sin and are headed to Heaven for eternity.  That’s something to sing about!  No matter how difficult life may become, we must never let anything steal our song.

Q. What are some circumstances in your own life that can steal your song?

Q. What can you do to make sure you never lose the joyful song in your heart during difficult times?

4. Prayer Focus

Pray that your children would not lose their song.  Ask if they feel like they have already.  Pray that God will restore the song of their heart.  Remind them that God is still on the throne.