Sharing Your Faith

Hard Question: Can I Trust the Bible?

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Family Devotional Adults 7-2-17Family Devotional Kids 7-2-17

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Adult & Teen Discussion Guide

1. Primary Statement

The Bible has a lot to say about many things in life, but how can you be sure you can trust it? Ultimately, it comes down to a question of faith, but below are a few reasons to tip the scales in favor of trusting it as God’s word.

2. Facts

The names of over 40 different kings of various countries mentioned in the Bible have all been found in contemporary documents and inscriptions outside of the Old Testament, and are always consistent with the times and places associated with them in the Bible.

In 1947, archaeologists discovered the Dead Sea scrolls. They were 1,000 years older than the oldest copy to that point, and they were 99.5% identical, the only differences being in spelling and sentence word order.

We have 5,000 ancient copies of the New Testament, all identical, and the earliest existing copies are just 50-100 years after the events they describe.

Q. Before now, have you ever taken a serious look at the historical evidence/criticism of the Bible?

Q. Does research like this make you more confident or less confident in the Bible?

3. Bible Verse

Paul said in 1 Corinthians 1:18 [NLT] 

“The message of the cross is foolish to those who are headed for destruction! But we who are being saved know it is the very power of God.”

Jesus’ disciples didn’t take the gospel message lightly – they were willing to die for it. After Jesus commissioned them, Paul, along with 10 of the remaining 11 disciples, were speared, beheaded or crucified for their faith – hardly the sort of thing you’d do if you made up the story!

Q. Do you believe the Bible is the source of truth about God? If so, what evidence or factor was the most important in making your decision?

4. Prayer Focus

Take a few minutes as a family and thank God for telling us about Himself through the Bible. Ask Him to continue to speak to you as you study scripture, and to deepen your confidence in the Bible as the source of truth.


Family with Small Children Discussion Guide

1. Activity

“With God Nothing is Impossible!” 

Write our power verse for this week on a piece of a paper and cut it up word by word.   As a family, work together putting the pieces of the power verse back together.   As you do, help your kids memorize this verse.  This verse is key to help them with any type of difficulty or challenge they may face!

2. Bible Verse

Luke 18:27 “…What is impossible for people is possible with God.”

This week we continue our series “Say What?” by talking about the “Impossible.” Many people say things like, “That’s impossible,” but it’s important our children learn all things are possible with God!

Start by Reading Matthew 19:16-30.

Just then, a man came up to Jesus. He asked, “Teacher, what good thing must I do to receive eternal life?”

17 “Why do you ask me about what is good?” Jesus replied. “There is only one who is good. If you want to enter the kingdom, obey the commandments.”

18 “Which ones?” the man asked.

Jesus said, “ ‘Do not murder. Do not commit adultery. Do not steal. Do not be a false witness. 19 Honor your father and mother.’ (Exodus 20:12–16; Deuteronomy 5:16–20) And ‘love your neighbor as you love yourself.’ ” (Leviticus 19:18)

20 “I have obeyed all those commandments,” the young man said. “What else do I need to do?”

21 Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go and sell everything you have. Give the money to those who are poor. You will have treasure in heaven. Then come and follow me.”

22 When the young man heard this, he went away sad. He was very rich.

23 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “What I’m about to tell you is true. It is hard for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of heaven. 24 Again I tell you, it is hard for a camel to go through the eye of a needle. But it is even harder for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”

25 When the disciples heard this, they were really amazed. They asked, “Then who can be saved?”

26 Jesus looked at them and said, “With people, this is impossible. But with God, all things are possible.”

27 Peter answered him, “We have left everything to follow you! What reward will be given to us?”

28 “What I’m about to tell you is true,” Jesus said to them. “When all things are made new, the Son of Man will sit on his glorious throne. Then you who have followed me will also sit on 12 thrones. You will judge the 12 tribes of Israel. 29 Suppose anyone has left houses, brothers or sisters, father or mother, husband or wife, children or fields because of me. Anyone who has done that will receive 100 times as much. They will also receive eternal life. 30 But many who are first will be last. And many who are last will be first.

Q. What do you think the word “impossible” means?

Q. What do you think is “impossible”?

Q. When it comes to God, is there anything that you think is too hard or “impossible” for Him?

3. Application 

In our story today, we learn that nothing is impossible for God.  Even when things seem difficult, Jesus can do the impossible!

Read Mark 9:14-29

14 When Jesus and those who were with him came to the other disciples, they saw a large crowd around them. The teachers of the law were arguing with them. 15 When all the people saw Jesus, they were filled with wonder. And they ran to greet him.

16 “What are you arguing with them about?” Jesus asked.

17 A man in the crowd answered. “Teacher,” he said, “I brought you my son. He is controlled by an evil spirit. Because of this, my son can’t speak anymore. 18 When the spirit takes hold of him, it throws him to the ground. He foams at the mouth. He grinds his teeth. And his body becomes stiff. I asked your disciples to drive out the spirit. But they couldn’t do it.”

19 “You unbelieving people!” Jesus replied. “How long do I have to stay with you? How long do I have to put up with you? Bring the boy to me.”

20 So they brought him. As soon as the spirit saw Jesus, it threw the boy into a fit. He fell to the ground. He rolled around and foamed at the mouth.

21 Jesus asked the boy’s father, “How long has he been like this?”

“Since he was a child,” he answered. 22 “The spirit has often thrown him into fire or water to kill him. But if you can do anything, take pity on us. Please help us.”

23 “ ‘If you can’?” said Jesus. “Everything is possible for the one who believes.”

24 Right away the boy’s father cried out, “I do believe! Help me overcome my unbelief!”

25 Jesus saw that a crowd was running over to see what was happening. Then he ordered the evil spirit to leave the boy. “You spirit that makes him unable to hear and speak!” he said. “I command you, come out of him. Never enter him again.”

26 The spirit screamed. It shook the boy wildly. Then it came out of him. The boy looked so lifeless that many people said, “He’s dead.” 27 But Jesus took him by the hand. He lifted the boy to his feet, and the boy stood up.

28 Jesus went indoors. Then his disciples asked him in private, “Why couldn’t we drive out the evil spirit?”

29 He replied, “This kind can come out only by prayer.”

Q. What did Jesus say to the man in verse 23?  

Q. What does that verse mean to you?

Jesus healed the boy in our story because with Him nothing is impossible!  Whatever you need Jesus to do for you, or someone you love, Jesus can do it – because He can do the impossible if we just have faith and believe!

4. Prayer Focus

Ask your children what types of things they need Jesus to do for them or the people they love.  Pray together that He will do the IMPOSSIBLE!

Hard Question: Homosexuality

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Family Devotional 6-25-17 AdultFamily Devotional 6-25-17 Kids

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Adult & Teen Discussion Guide

1. Primary Statement

Of all the controversial topics facing American Christians today, perhaps none is more fiercely debated than homosexuality. 

Cultural norms and values have been in a state of rapid change over the past few decades, but God’s view on it remains unchanged.  

Homosexual behavior is contrary to God’s teaching.

2. Bible Verse 

Leviticus 18:22  [ESV] “Do not practice homosexuality, having sex with another man as with a woman. It is a detestable sin.”

1 Timothy 1:10-11  [NLT] “The law is for people who are sexually immoral, or who practice homosexuality, or are slave traders, liars, promise breakers, or who do anything else that contradicts the wholesome teaching that comes from the glorious Good News entrusted to me by our blessed God.”

Q. God’s statements on homosexuality were separated by over a thousand years. Do you think they are tied to a cultural period, or are they meant to instruct all cultures and times?

Q. The Bible condemns many other practices beyond homosexuality. Why do you think the topic of homosexuality generates more controversy than other sexual sins?

3. Application

Homosexual behavior is contrary to God’s design.

Matthew 19:4-5 [NLT] “Haven’t you read the Scriptures?” Jesus replied. “They record that from the beginning ‘God made them male and female.’ And he said, ‘This explains why a man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one.’”

Q. The traditional definition of a family has been changing in America for a long time. Do you think that change has affected the rise in acceptance of homosexual lifestyles? If so, how?

Q. Is someone who is living a homosexual lifestyle contradicting God’s family design more than someone who is addicted to pornography or engaged in an extramarital affair? Have you / the church typically acted like these sins were on the same level, or different levels?

4. Prayer Focus

Take a few minutes as a family and thank God for His wonderful design for human sexuality. Ask Him to help you live within His teaching and design, and to be loving yet truthful to those who are contradicting it.


Family with Small Children Discussion Guide

1. Activity

Don’t store up treasure on earth.  Store up treasure in Heaven!

As a family, make a list, chart, or just plan how individually or as a group you can work to make Jesus more important than your stuff or just number #1 in your life.

2. Bible Verse

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

This week we began a new series, “Say What?”  The kids learned an important lesson about the things they value and find important.  Nothing in life is more important than Jesus!

Start the lesson by Reading Matthew 19:16-30.

16 A man came to Jesus and asked, “Teacher, what good thing must I do to have eternal life?”

17 Jesus answered, “Why do you ask me about what is good? Only God is good. But if you want to have eternal life, obey the law’s commands.”

18 The man asked, “Which ones?”

Jesus answered, “‘You must not murder anyone, you must not commit adultery, you must not steal, you must not tell lies about others, 19 you must respect your father and mother,’[a] and ‘love your neighbor[b] the same as you love yourself.’[c]

20 The young man said, “I have obeyed all these commands. What else do I need?”

21 Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, then go and sell all that you own. Give the money to the poor, and you will have riches in heaven. Then come and follow me!”

22 But when the young man heard Jesus tell him to give away his money, he was sad. He didn’t want to do this, because he was very rich. So he left.

23 Then Jesus said to his followers, “The truth is, it will be very hard for a rich person to enter God’s kingdom. 24 Yes, I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter God’s kingdom.”

25 The followers were amazed to hear this. They asked, “Then who can be saved?”

26 Jesus looked at them and said, “This is something that people cannot do. But God can do anything.”

27 Peter said to him, “We left everything we had and followed you. So what will we have?”

28 Jesus said to them, “When the time of the new world comes, the Son of Man will sit on his great and glorious throne. And I can promise that you who followed me will sit on twelve thrones, and you will judge the twelve tribes of Israel.29 Everyone who has left houses, brothers, sisters, father, mother, children, or farms to follow me will get much more than they left. And they will have eternal life.30 Many people who are first now will be last in the future. And many who are last now will be first in the future.

Q. What did Jesus tell the man in the story he must do with his possessions?

Q. How did this make the man feel?

Q. What did Jesus tell his disciples about someone who is rich?

It’s easy to want “stuff” but Jesus was teaching His disciples that the more things we have the harder it can be to give up everything and follow Him. 

Jesus never wants us to make money or things more important than Him!

3. Application 

Q. What is your favorite toy or game to play with?

Q. What if Jesus asked you to give that up or give it away to the poor, could you do it?  

Q. Would it be hard for you?Jesus may not ask you to give away your favorite toy, or all your money, but He doesn’t want anything to be more important than Him.  Jesus should be number one in our lives.  He is the most important, and if we obey Him, we will be blessed!

4. Prayer Focus

Pray for your children this week to make Jesus the most important part of their lives.

Hard Question: Divorce & Remarriage

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Family Devotional 6-18-17 AdultFamily Devotional 6-18-17 Kids

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Adult & Teen Discussion Guide

1. Primary Statement

When you look across our culture, commitment seems to be at an all-time low, and the poster child for the problem is marriage.  God designed marriage to bless us, and even if it ends, His desire for us is peace and healing.  

God’s plan for families has always been committed relationships for life.  Look for those dynamics in the following verses:

2. Bible Verse 

Matthew 19:5-6 [ESV] “and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’?  So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.”

1 Corinthians 7:15 [NIV] “But if the unbeliever leaves, let him do so. A believing man or woman is not bound in such circumstances; God has called us to live in peace.”

Q. God refers to marriage as a covenant – in what ways is marriage similar to His covenant with us?

3. Application

It takes 2 people to stay in a relationship, and sometimes, no matter how hard you try, things come to an end. Even then, we’re called to live in peace and to forgive, so everyone can heal and move forward in life.

Q. God permits divorce in some cases, but is that ever His preference? 

Q. Have you ever been hurt by a divorce? If so, how hard was it for you to offer forgiveness? Is there someone you still need to forgive?

4. Prayer Focus

Take a few minutes as a family and thank God for blessing humanity with marriage. Ask Him to help you to be faithful and support marriage – not only in your life, but in the lives of those around you.


Family with Small Children Discussion Guide

1. Activity

“I will tell my friends about Jesus!”

Tell your children to imagine that they’re sick—so sick, in fact, that without help, they’ll die.  Ask them the following questions:  How do you think you’d feel emotionally if you were this sick?  What do you think you’d do to try to get better?

2. Bible Verse

Mark 16:15 & Romans 10:13  “Go into all the world and preach the good news…”

Tell your children that someone told them about a new cure for their illness. Have them imagine that they’ve undergone treatment and now they’re perfectly healthy.  

Ask them the following questions:

Q. How would you feel emotionally once you were healed?

Q. How would you feel toward the person who told you about the cure?

Q. How would you feel toward the person who actually found the cure?

Q. How would you feel if you found out there was a cure and a friend had known about it but didn’t tell you?

 

3. Application 

Next, have your children imagine that a friend has come to them describing some symptoms that are very similar to the ones they had.  After listening to this friend for awhile, they realize that he has the same disease that they did.  

Talk about the following questions:

Q. Would you tell your friend about the cure? Why?  What might happen to your friend if you don’t tell him about the cure?

Q. Can you force the person to undergo the treatment and take the medicine that will cure him?

Tell your children that all people have a disease that will eventually kill them: sin.  Sin is a disease that everyone is born with, and unless we seek the “cure”—Jesus—we will die an eternal death and be separated from God and everything that’s good.

4. Prayer Focus

Tell your children that thinking about sin as a fatal disease will help them see the importance of telling others about Jesus.  Our job is to tell them about Jesus and show them Christ’s love, so they’ll know about the cure. Pray with your family, asking God to open your eyes to the people around you who need to know about Him.

Cornerstone- Lifestyle

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Family Devotional Adults 4-9-17

Family Devotional Kids 4-9-17


Adult & Teen Discussion Guide

1. Primary Statement

A life built on the Cornerstone of Christ looks different than those built on the world’s standards. Every one of us has a responsibility to live a visibly-changed life, and the empowerment of God to accomplish it.

2.Bible Verse & Talking Point

You have a responsibility to live differently.

Matthew 5:16 (ESV) 

“In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.

1 Corinthians 9:25-27 (ESV)

“Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.”

Q. In which area in life is it the hardest to live differently than the world? 

 Q. What happens to our message when we preach one thing, but live another?

3. Application

The Holy Spirit gives you the power to say “no” to sin and “yes” to right-living.

Romans 8:11-13 (NLT) 

The Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you. And just as God raised Christ Jesus from the dead, he will give life to your mortal bodies by this same Spirit living within you.Therefore, dear brothers and sisters, you have no obligation to do what your sinful nature urges you to do. For if you live by its dictates, you will die. But if through the power of the Spirit you put to death the deeds of your sinful nature, you will live.”

4. Wrap up Discussion

Q. What’s something you know you should do that seems impossible?

On your own, it’s impossible to choose a God-honoring life, but with the Holy Spirit’s help, you have more than enough strength to reject sin and practice what you preach.

5. Prayer Focus

Take a few minutes as a family and ask God to help you choose the right things through His power in you.


Family with Small Children Discussion Guide

1. Activity

Find something around the house that is too heavy for your child to lift on their own, but not too heavy for you. Ask them to try lifting it. After establishing that it’s impossible (or really difficult, if you underestimated their strength), ask them to lift it again, but this time, help them do it.

2. Bible Verse

Romans 8:11-12 (NLT)

“The Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you. And just as God raised Christ Jesus from the dead, he will give life to your mortal bodies by this same Spirit living within you.Therefore, dear brothers and sisters, you have no obligation (parents, define “obligation”) to do what your sinful nature urges you to do.”

3. Application & Talking Point

Q. Do you ever find yourself in a spot where you know the right thing to do, but you feel like you just can’t? (parents, you may need to suggest a few examples)

Sometimes it feels like it’s impossible to make the right choice – and by yourself, it is; just like picking up something really heavy. But when God lives inside of you, He helps you. No matter what the situation is, you can do the right thing with God’s help!

4. Wrap up Discussion

Q. What’s something that you know you should do, but it seems too hard? You can do it with God’s help!

5. Prayer Focus

Take a few minutes as a family and ask God to help you choose the right things through His power in you.

Family Devotional 4-9-17 pdf download

Cornerstone- Beliefs

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Family Devotional 3-19-17 pdf download


Adult & Teen Discussion Guide

1. Primary Point

The way we see the world is largely based on how our parents and other influential adults in our lives saw things. In the same way, what we believe, teach, and model will have a compounding effect on every generation to come after us. All the more reason to choose a cornerstone that’s perfectly straight.

2. Application & Talking Point

Psalm 78:5-7 (ESV)

“He (God) established a testimony in Jacob and appointed a law in Israel, which he commanded our fathers to teach to their children, that the next generation might know them, the children yet unborn, and arise and tell them to their children, so that they should set their hope in God and not forget the works of God, but keep his commandments…”

Q: Which commands or beliefs are the hardest for you to communicate? 

Q: Which are the hardest to model?

3. Bible Verse

Worldview drift always starts with something small…

Romans 1:21 (ESV) “For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.”

…but eventually takes people way off course.

Romans 1:29-30 (ESV) “They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless.”

4. Wrap up Discussion

Q: Where do you feel the most drift between the beliefs of your generation and those of the younger ones? 

Q: Where might that slippery slope lead to in the future? 

Q: How can you do something about it today?

5. Prayer Focus

Take a few minutes as a family and ask God to help you teach and model Christ as the Cornerstone to the next generation.


Family with Small Children Discussion Guide

1. Primary Point

Babies aren’t born reading and writing – they don’t even know how to talk! They have to learn. It’s a kid’s job to learn, and it’s a parent’s job to teach, and those jobs are given by God.

2. Bible Verse

Psalm 78:5-7 (The Message)

“…(God) set his Word firmly in Israel, 

Then commanded our parents to teach it to their children, 

So the next generation would know, and all  the generations to come—

Know the truth and tell the stories so their children can trust in God, 

Never forget the works of God but keep his commands to the letter.”

3. Application & Talking Point

(Blindfold your child. Ask them to walk around the room while you speak directions to them [“move to your left, turn right,” etc]. 

Let each child take a turn.) 

Q. Did it sound like your parent was bossing you around? 

Q. Were they trying to hurt you, or help you?

Q. Could they see things you couldn’t see?

Sometimes we want to do things our own way & we don’t want parents to tell us what to do. 

Remember, though, God said it’s a parent’s job to teach kids the right way to live. Parents teach, correct, and even punish because they love you, and want to help you live a life that makes God happy. 

4. Wrap up Discussion

Q. What is a parent’s job? (to teach!)

Q. What is a kid’s job? (to learn!)

5. Prayer Focus

Take a few minutes as a family and ask God to help you work together as a family to teach and learn God’s way of living.

Spiritual Battle

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family-devotional-kids-1-22-17

 

We’ve all grown up believing that fighting is wrong – and in a physical sense, that’s generally true. In a spiritual sense, though, we too often shy away from fights we’re equipped to win.

If you are having trouble reading it, here is the family-devotional-1-22-17 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.

Labor of Love

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Each of us has been called by God to be a witness to our world. Our mission is challenging, costly and long-term, but the cause and the reward far outweigh the cost.

If you are having trouble reading it, here is the family-devotional-12-11-16 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.