Adult & Teen Discussion Guide
1. Primary Statement
Everybody’s looking for ways to make life better. From smart phones that translate languages, to cars that help you stay in your lane, to updated nutrition levels, everyone’s trying to improve the quality of their lives. As great as man-made advancements are though, there’s only one way to change life from the inside out – allowing the Holy Spirit to rebuild your character in God’s image.
2. Bible Verse
John 10:10 [ESV] “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy…”
The “thief” is Satan, and his aim is to destroy you.
If you take an inventory of the world around you, it’s easy to see the effect of sin and the pain it brings. Satan is a real being, who is working to prevent people from experiencing peace with God by providing unfulfilling substitutes. These pursuits may seem good or fun in the moment, but ultimately, they lead people further and further from God.
Q. List a few sources of pain or hardship in your life. Do you believe these sources fit with God’s original design for humanity?
Q. If not, what influence does Satan – and sin – have on them?
John 10:10 [ESV] “… I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.”
Jesus came to bring the full, vibrant life God always intended for you. At the core, the one thing every human longs for is peace with God. Satan offers external “fixes,” but they never fill the void. Life with God at the center doesn’t change the outward circumstances – those are part of a sin infected world. Instead, it changes you, and enables you to live in joy and victory regardless of what’s happening around you.
Q. How do you think a relationship with God might better equip you to handle the sources of pain & hardship you listed above?
Q. How differently would you view these situations if you didn’t have God’s help?
4. Prayer Focus
Take a few minutes as a family and thank God for the joy, peace, and fulfillment that He has planned for your life. Ask Him to help you share that good news with others, so more people can experience life the way God intended it.
Family with Small Children Discussion Guide
1. Power Verse
Proverbs 13:10 “Pride leads to conflict; those who take advice are wise.”
“I Will Listen and Learn To Take Godly Advice!”
The last few weeks we have been learning about how we are “Never Too Young” to do amazing things for God. This week we learned a very important lesson on how to “Listen to Godly Advice.”
Q. What is Godly advice?
Q. Who are some people who can give you Godly advice?
Q. Why do you think it’s sometimes hard to do what other people tell you to do?
It’s easy to want to do things on your own or to think you know what is best for yourself. However, God places people in your life to help you and guide you in your walk with Him.
Q. Have you ever tried to do something or get somewhere with no directions?
Q. Was it easy or hard to do?
Q. Why do we need directions when we are going somewhere or putting something together?
We need directions because we can’t always do it on our own! That is how it is with living our lives for Him. God doesn’t want us to do it on our own! He sends parents, teachers, pastors, and friends to help us! Isn’t that cool that God gives us people to help us in our journey with Him?
Take time with your kids to discuss who these special people are in their lives. Help or allow your children to write a letter to one of these people thanking them for guiding them and helping them in their walk with Christ.
4. Prayer Focus
Pray that your child will listen and follow the leaders that God has placed in their lives!
Let me introduce you to what I consider to be a very interesting and important aspect to our lives in consideration of the times that we are living in. Consider if you will an event from the Old Testament.
David was the sovereign king of Israel and God’s chosen ruler. God’s desire was that David would always depend on him rather than on his own strength or on the might of his armies. For that reason God had told David to never count his fighting men. David however, was stubborn and wanted to know how many men he had to depend on so in rebellion to God’s directive David had the fighting men counted. In response to this disobedience God gave David three choices, Three years of famine, three months of being at the mercy of his enemies, or three days of God’s judgment. David choose God’s judgment and in the days that followed 70,000 of David’s men died!
It is the immediacy of that judgment that I want you to notice.
Then consider the book of Revelation which is a prophetic telling of the days that will come at the end of this age when God’s judgment will once again be poured out upon mankind. The numbers of those who will die in rebellion to God are staggering. At different times we see both a fourth and a third of all humanity die on the earth. Literally this is billions of people.
Once again notice the severity and the immediacy of that judgment.
Then there is the period of time we are living in today. During our time it seems as if anything goes and that there is no reaction from God about anything.
Millions of babies are aborted each year, genocide occurs regularly, and anything which the scriptures declare is sacred to God seems to be fair game for men and women to trounce under their feet without a peep from heaven.
What changed? Where’s God? Is he even really there? If you are honest all of these are questions that you’ve asked or at least thought.
It is exactly this same situation and question that Peter is addressing in 2 Peter 3 when by the Holy Spirit’s direction he writes…
“Above all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. They will say, “Where is this ‘coming’ he promised? Ever since our ancestors died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation.” But they deliberately forget that long ago by God’s word the heavens came into being and the earth was formed out of water and by water. By these waters also the world of that time was deluged and destroyed. By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly. But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything done in it will be laid bare. Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat. But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells.” (2 Peter 3:3–13, NIV)
Right now we are living in what scholars have called a “dispensation of grace” or a time in which God has withheld his judgment because of the atonement of Jesus on the cross. Literally we are living in the middle of two periods of God’s judgment upon humanity, one behind us, and one in front of us. Because we live relatively short lives in reference to God’s interaction with mankind we can begin to believe only what we see and feel and we can begin to use only the experiences of our lives and the opinions of society around us to form the belief system that controls our actions, behaviors, and beliefs. This is very dangerous because just like all periods of grace this one will come to an end and God will once again judge the sinfulness of mankind. If we have used something other than God’s perspective, found in the Bible, as the rule for our lives we are falling prey to the world around us and are subject to His judgment.
Where are you today?
- Are the scriptures the basis for your life?
- Do you find yourself regularly being constrained and challenged by God’s word to become something more?
- Are you living a life that you will not be ashamed of when Christ returns?
- Are you living a life worthy of the kindness and grace that Jesus has afforded you and me?
- Do you feel out of sync with the philosophies and thinking of today’s world?
We should absolutely enjoy this period of God’s graciousness but let’s never forget that ultimately we all give an account for our lives and let’s live our lives with that day in mind.
2 SAMUEL 11
YOU SHOULD NEVER GET TO A PLACE WHERE YOU THINK YOUR POSITION GIVES YOU THE RIGHT TO SIN.
What does James 1:14-15 say about temptation?
David seeing Bathsheba naked was not a sin but not turning away when enticed was a sin.
What does Jesus say about adultery in Matthew 5:27-28?
How does Joseph react to a much stronger temptation in Genesis 39:6-12?
Our imaginations are very powerful & even with the best intentions we can allow our imaginations to lead us astray. What 2 things does Matthew 26:41 say to do to prevent this from happening?
Our society glamorizes adultery for entertainment but how seriously does God take marriage?
Malachi 2:13-15: Hebrews 13:4
YOU CAN NEVER GO BEYOND GOD’S ABILITY TO KNOW WHAT’S GOING ON IN YOUR LIFE.
What was the penalty for any Israelite committing adultery (David definitely would have known this)?
How did God show great mercy to David after his sin?
2 Samuel 12:13
What does God use in this day to reveal our sins to us & bring us back to Him?
What did David pray to God not to remove from him after confessing his sin to God?
I was thinking about a few conversations that I’ve had over the past few days. In the background of my mind during these conversations was the fact that we have been praying for the past 48 days for revival and desire for God to renew and restore not only the relationships of people to himself but to draw thousands to himself. It’s the mixture of these conversations and our revival that brings me to raise a question.
Why do we always, after enough time, move away from God?
In the process of thinking this through, I went to the story of the golden calf in Exodus 32. If you’re not familiar with this section of scripture let me give you a short summary. God has led the people of Israel out of Egyptian slavery under Moses’ leadership. God performs unprecedented, visual miracles to not only deliver them from Egypt but also to provide for them during their journey away from Egypt and toward the land that He was giving them. God leads the people to a mountain named Sinai and with Moses on the top of the mountain and the people in the plain below, over a forty-day period the Lord gives Moses the law including the Ten Commandments.
The astonishing part is that even after the amazing, undeniable miracles leading them out of Egypt as well as the things taking place around Mount Sinai during the forty days that Moses is on the mountain, the people still move away from the worship of God and move back into practices that bring God’s anger and judgment.
In only forty days their hearts have moved away from God!
This is a cycle that we see over and over throughout the scriptures and throughout human history.
Flash forward to my conversations over the past few days. We’re still doing it. Yesterday and today I have been involved in a number of conversations, in person and electronically, that have a common thread. In each one someone was looking for justification to do something other than move towards God. Some of the topics were certainly not sin and in fact are perhaps permissible scripturally and yet not beneficial (1 Cor. 6:12). Others were absolutely sin and as such should be avoided by a believer and yet in both situations believers were defending their opinions and positions. Ultimately, it seems, we still fall for the same unending pull of our fallen, sinful natures.
Some might say, ‘Yes, that’s why we needed and why Jesus provided grace!” and they would be absolutely right, and yet grace has more than one aspect. Grace not only removes the penalty for our sin, but it’s also intended to draw us from our sins. God’s kindness in the extension of the precious grace provided by Jesus also draws us away from our sins.
Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance? Romans 2:4 (ESV)
Repentance is a turning away from the sinful lifestyle. We as God’s people are not ultimately looking for loopholes or permissions, we are looking for pathways into deeper fellowship and communion. Our pursuits are not ones that reveal more of our fallen human nature, but more of the nature of Christ. Christ-followers are just that. Also, these pursuits and life habits are not motivated from legalism nor any empty tradition, they find their fuel in the love, grace, kindness, adventure, and warmth of the Father’s embrace and a living relationship with Father, Son, and Holy Spirit!
Having basked in that love, light, and communion our desire becomes singular, bring others into this same consuming experience. Things that have even the smallest chance of hindering that pursuit slowly, as we linger in this relationship longer, begin to be discarded. The things that we are reaching and searching for begin to change over time. Gone is the search for license and loopholes and in their place there is self-motivated discipline. Discipline not grounded in fear but in love.
It’s the lack of this that causes us to need revival! We need to once again regain our focus on the pursuit of God rather than the pursuit of justification and vindication for our move away from Him.
Last night I was reading through a wonderful section of scripture and I thought it would make for a great blog.
In Psalm 19:12-14 we read…
Who can discern his errors? Forgive my hidden faults. Keep your servant also from willful sins; may they not rule over me. Then will I be blameless, innocent of great transgression. May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.
First, we all have patterns of behavior that we fall into that lead us into sins that we are unaware of. Yesterday we were discussing how the things that we say about other people can actually become a tremendous stumbling block and hinder the move of the Holy Spirit in our lives. Satan uses our very nature against us and convinces us that we are totally justified based upon what another person has done to us. However, this is simply not the way we as Christians behave. Ever!
If we’re not very diligent these patterns of behavior and subsequently speaking can become a hidden fault. We don’t realize that we are acting in a sinful way and as such, sin rules in our lives without our knowledge. David asks God to reveal his hidden faults to him. This would be a great practice for each Christian to engage in every day.
“Lord, reveal my hidden faults to me so that I may repent and change.”
Second, David asks God to keep him from willful sins. These are those things that we know are sinful and yet we do them anyway.
In this dispensation of grace in which we live, we have a powerful propensity to go too far. There are those who teach that the power of God’s grace is so great that there is no way for us to offend it. There is a part of me that absolutely believes that. However, for me it’s a matter of sequence. If there is something in me that consciously moves toward sin because I think God will forgive me and I do so over a Spirit-originated conviction, I am walking a very dangerous line. Not because God will withdraw his grace because I believe He never does, but rather because I run the risk of slowly callousing my heart to that grace and damaging my faith. I believe that I can completely erode my faith in God and the things of God and as such I can become unsaved. I’ve done nothing to change God’s grace, but rather I’ve removed my own faith by my actions. Ephesians 2:8-9 indicate to me that both grace and faith are necessary for my salvation.
Therefore, David prayed that God would give him the strength to avoid both the sins he was unaware of and those that he was fully aware of and then he would be innocent of “great transgression.”
That’s where I want to live! Free of great transgression!
This morning I was reading in Genesis chapter four and I was once again impressed by the nature of sin. Often times we think of sin as a thing that we do that is contrary to God’s design for our lives, and indeed it is. However, verse seven of Genesis chapter four casts sin in a different light.
Notice with me if you will this verse…
Genesis 4:7 (ESV) “If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it.”
It’s this picture of sin crouching that has captivated me this morning. Rather than sin being an impersonal thing that is simply a word used to describe our misdeeds, here sin has both body and a will or desire. I might be prone to dismiss this as metaphorical language used to describe sin’s ability to damage or hurt a person if it weren’t for who it is that’s speaking and describing sin in this way. It’s God the Father!
Who better than God to give us language that would exactly describe what sin is and what it does. Who would have a better perspective? Who would have a more accurate viewpoint and a more through history dealing with sin than God? With that frame of reference let’s notice again what God the Father says about sin…
- It has a desire for Cain
- It was crouching or lying in wait for Cain
- It was his responsibility to rule over sin
How did God say Cain could accomplish this? By “doing well.” Other translations render these words ‘Do what is right.” Could it really be that simple? In our 50 shades of gray world, could avoiding sin and it’s eternal and earthly cost be as simple as just doing the right thing? Surely there’s some deep, profound, secret to overcoming this world and it’s hold on our lives. The reality is wonderfully simple…
Do the right thing!
Some might question what the right thing is but I’ve noticed that in almost any situation in which I’m tempted to sin, I almost always know exactly what the right thing is. The question is not one of knowing, it’s a question of doing! We know the right things to do.
Today, I challenge you to join me in doing the right things! Don’t complicate what it is that you have to do today….just do the right thing!
Over the past few weeks I have been really looking at the sixteenth chapter of John. Jesus is preparing his disciples for his death, resurrection, ascension, and the coming of the Holy Spirit. In the midst of this teaching there are a couple of verses of scripture that establish a theological and practical truth in my life. In verses eight and nine we read…
John 16:8–9 (ESV) “And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: concerning sin, because they do not believe in me… “
Here’s the truth… All sin rests in unbelief.
So often in our world we think of faith and Christianity in terms of things that you have to do. You have to go to church, give in the offering, tell the truth, etc… However, have you ever thought about Christianity in terms of things that you don’t do? I don’t mean things that you shouldn’t do; we get wrapped up in that at times as well. I mean, have you ever considered that there are things that if left out of your journey towards God, greatly affect your potential destination.
Maybe, simply put it’s like making a cake. There are certain things that you MUST put in. Flour, eggs, milk, sugar, and of course chocolate! Leave any of these out and the chances of having a good cake diminish greatly. The chocolate is just my personal favorite. Anyway, I’m sure you see where I’m headed. There are certain indispensible ingredients. Leave any one of them out and well…you don’t have a cake.
In my walk with Christ it’s like this as well. Without an ever-increasing belief, sin creeps into my life. Or said differently, there is a direct correlation between the degree of sin in my life and the degree to which I believe in Jesus. You might say in response, “But I believe completely in Jesus!” Really? Let’s see.
Jesus said he would never leave nor forsake us. For me that means that He is literally with me every moment of every day. When I turn on the television or sit down and watch a movie, do I allow something to enter into my mind and spirit that is clearly in opposition to Jesus’ teachings? When jealousy or pride shows itself in my heart because of some success that some other minister is having or when I secretly celebrate another person’s downfall or mistake, don’t I have to ignore or not believe that Jesus is still with me in order to maintain those thoughts? You see, there really is a direct connection between how much I believe in Jesus and how much I sin.
Am I still saved during those moments? Absolutely, God’s grace is always bigger than my sin as long as there is any belief in me at all, but I don’t only want enough belief to make it to heaven, I want enough to live an overcoming, Spirit-directed, Christ honoring life before the lost of this world. For that I need more belief. How much more? I don’t know. More every day!