Sharing Your Faith

Connect to Community

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Adult & Teen Discussion Guide

“Changing the world” is a popular idea in America – from childhood, we were told we could change the world if we try hard enough. Of course, we learned early on that this wasn’t meant to be taken literally. No one person could actually make the entire world better, right? As representatives of God, that’s exactly what we’re called to do. Make our world better, one community at a time.

1. Discussion 

Matthew 5:14-16 [ESV] “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. 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.”

God’s plan for Christians is for us – collectively – to shine light & truth into the dark world around us.

Q. When you read these verses, do you normally hear the “you” as singular, or plural?

Q. Which problems in your community do you take an active role in trying to address? Which problems do you passively accept?

Q. What are 2 or 3 problems in your community that would improve if the people involved began living God’s way?

2. Challenge

Matthew 5:3-9 [ESV] “Blessed are the poor in spirit… Blessed are those who mourn… Blessed are the meek… Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness… Blessed are the merciful… Blessed are the pure in heart… Blessed are the peacemakers.”

We impact our community by living with God’s character as our driving force. When we live a transformed life as a connected, active part of our community, we bring the creative, life-giving power of the Holy Spirit to every area, and with it, the greatest hope for change that the world has ever seen.

Q . When you edit your thoughts and actions to line up with God’s way, do you do it for the sake of God’s relationship with you, or His mission to reach the people around you?

Q . The brokenness of your community can be healed when people see the example of God’s power in your life. How does that impact the importance you put on living God’s way?

3. Prayer Focus

Take a few minutes as a family: thank God for filling your life with importance by making you part of His work to bring light to the world. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you to live His way in the context of community.


Family with Small Children Discussion Guide

Who Are You Chained To?

1. Power Verse

Proverbs 27:17 “As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend.”

What’s Up: “I Will Choose Friends Who Will Lift Me Up!”

This week, we continue our series called, “Prison Break.”  In this lesson, we learn from the example of Paul and Silas.  We learn that each of us must be careful who we connect ourselves with.  We need friends who will be willing to “sing” with us even in the darkest hours of our lives.

2. Discussion

Acts 16:25-26 About midnight Paul and Silas were praying. They were also singing hymns to God. The other prisoners were listening to them. Suddenly there was a powerful earthquake. It shook the prison from top to bottom. All at once the prison doors flew open. Everyone’s chains came loose.”

Q. What did Paul and Silas do while in prison?  Were they sad and upset?

Q. What happened to Paul and Silas while they were in jail? 

Q. What did the earthquake cause to happen?

Each one of us have days where nothing seems to be going right.  The car won’t start, traffic is backed up and makes you late for work, and you get in trouble with your boss.  Those days are very tough.  It’s easy for us to get down in the dumps and feel like we are all alone.  It’s in those moments that true godly friends can step in to lift our spirits and remind us that God is in control.

3. Challenge

Q. Do you have godly friends to help you in tough times?

Q. Have you ever faced a situation where you needed godly friends?  

Q. Did you have friends there for you?

Q. Are there any friends in your life that aren’t godly influences?

4. Prayer Focus

Pray for your children that God would lead them to godly people.  Pray for them to pick the right friends that will direct them to God, not away from God.  Pray for them if they feel like they are in bad relationships that need to change.

Connect to People

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Adult & Teen Discussion Guide

Ever try to pull a large TV out of the box, set up a tent, or hang a ceiling fan by yourself? Some things in life are just easier with help from someone else. God created humans as social beings, and if we want to experience the full life He has for us, we need to experience it in community.

1. Discussion 

Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 “Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up!”

The enemy of your soul doesn’t take a summer vacation. Life can be a constant struggle, especially when you’re walking against the grain of culture to follow God’s ways. You need people around you to pick you up when you stumble – and you need to be there for them in the same way.

Q . Who are the people in your life who pick you up when you need help? Who are the people you help?

Q . If you had a larger support group, would living for God be easier or harder? How?

2. Challenge

Ecclesiastes 4:8 [ESV] “…one person who has no other, either son or brother, yet there is no end to all his toil, and his eyes are never satisfied with riches, so that he never asks, ‘For whom am I toiling and depriving myself of pleasure?’ This also is vanity and an unhappy business.”

Because we were created to live in community, part of our sense of purpose and enjoyment in life is doing things to benefit others. When we isolate ourselves, we cut ourselves off from that sense of meaning and value in life.

Q . Think of a time when you did something selfless to benefit someone else, how did it make you feel in the moment? At the end of that day, did you feel a sense of purpose, or was it meaningless? 

Q . Do you ever feel like you’re just going through the motions in life, without any overarching direction? How do you think engaging in community to help others might change that feeling?

3. Prayer Focus

Take a few minutes as a family: thank God for the people in your life that you can lean on when times are hard. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you connect to people, not only to find help, but to find purpose.


Family with Small Children Discussion Guide

Singing In The Dark!

1. Power Verse

Psalm 34:1 “I will praise the Lord at all times. I will constantly speak his praises.”

What’s Up: “No Matter What I’m Going Through – I Will Praise The Lord!”

This week, we continue our series called, “Prison Break.” In this lesson, we learn that even in our darkest times, we should worship God! In our Bible Story, we see a great example of this when the Apostle Paul and Silas find themselves in the middle of a very BAD day! They were taken to the authorities, beaten badly, and thrown in a dark prison! But that didn’t stop them from worshiping! They knew God would take care of them, so they began singing songs of praise to God!

2. Discussion

Acts 16:16-25 One day we were going to the place of prayer. On the way we were met by a female slave. She had a spirit that helped her tell people what was going to happen. She earned a lot of money for her owners by doing this. She followed Paul and the rest of us around. She shouted, “These men serve the Most High God. They are telling you how to be saved.” She kept this up for many days. Finally Paul became upset. Turning around, he spoke to the spirit that was in her. “In the name of Jesus Christ,” he said, “I command you to come out of her!” At that very moment the spirit left the woman. Her owners realized that their hope of making money was gone. So they grabbed Paul and Silas. They dragged them into the market place to face the authorities. They brought them to the judges. “These men are Jews,” her owners said. “They are making trouble in our city. They are suggesting practices that are against Roman law. These are practices we can’t accept or take part in.” The crowd joined the attack against Paul and Silas. The judges ordered that Paul and Silas be stripped and beaten with rods. They were whipped without mercy. Then they were thrown into prison. The jailer was commanded to guard them carefully.  When he received these orders, he put Paul and Silas deep inside the prison. He fastened their feet so they couldn’t get away. About midnight Paul and Silas were praying. They were also singing hymns to God. The other prisoners were listening to them.

Q. What were Paul and Silas doing? Who was following them?

Q. What did Paul & Silas do after the slave girl kept following them? What happened next? What happened to Paul & Silas?

Q. What did Paul and Silas do while they were in their dark prison cell?

3. Challenge

Troubled times are expected in life – even for Christians! Jesus said,“In this world you will have trouble.” But there’s no reason to quit when we face hard times. Jesus also said,“Take heart! I have overcome the world!” That’s a reason to celebrate! That’s a reason to praise God and worship Him for helping us, even in our darkest times!

Q. Have you ever had a really, really bad day? What happened? 

Q. When you’re facing tough times, what should you do? 

Q. How should you respond?

Q. Why should we worship God during our darkest times?

4. Prayer Focus

Pray that your children won’t be surprised when troubles come, but that instead they will be ready. Pray that they will decide not to quit and to worship God, even in their darkest times. Spend some time in worship and thanking God together!

Connect to God

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Adult & Teen Discussion Guide

Jesus didn’t come to the earth, live as a human for 33 years, and die a brutal death so we could experience a “pretty good” life – He came so we could experience it abundantly! God wants the best for us, and that starts when we connect to our Creator.

1. Discussion 

John 1:4 [ESV] “In him was life, and the life was the light of men.”

From the very beginning, the very source of life has been a connection between God and humankind. That divine connection was lost when sin entered the world, but a loving God has made a way for us to regain purpose and vitality in every part of life – even though our physical bodies are still decaying under the curse of sin.

Q . When are the times you feel the most “connected” to God? When are the times you feel least “connected?”

Q . Do you think God’s plan is for you to experience his light in some parts of life, or in all?

Q . If God’s light is relegated to a few areas in your life, who do you think put up the boundaries – you or Him?

2. Challenge

John 14:16–17 [ESV] “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.”

More than just being near God, He sent His Holy Spirit so He could be in us, bringing His perspective and growing His character from the inside out.

Q . What are some ways that the Holy Spirit influences your life?

Q . What’s one area of your life that would improve if the Holy Spirit became more involved in it?

3. Prayer Focus

Take a few minutes as a family: thank God for reaching out to reconnect with you. Ask the Holy Spirit to bring His perspective and character into more areas of your lives.


Family with Small Children Discussion Guide

Breaking Free!

1. Power Verse

John 8:36 “So if the Son sets you free, you are truly free.”

What’s Up: “I Know God Can Set Me FREE!”

This week, we continue our series called, “Prison Break.” In this week’s lesson, we learn that God is able to set us free from any prison that we are in. Even when it seems like God has forgotten us, He will always come through – right on time!

2. Discussion

Acts 12 About that time Herod the king laid violent hands on some who belonged to the church. So Peter was kept in prison, but earnest prayer for him was made to God by the church. Now when Herod was about to bring him out, on that very night, Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains, and sentries before the door were guarding the prison. And behold, an angel of the Lord stood next to him, and a light shone in the cell. He struck Peter on the side and woke him, saying, “Get up quickly.” And the chains fell off his hands. And the angel said to him, “Dress yourself and put on your sandals.” And he did so. And he said to him, “Wrap your cloak around you and follow me.” And he went out and followed him. He did not know that what was being done by the angel was real, but thought he was seeing a vision. When they had passed the first and the second guard, they came to the iron gate leading into the city. It opened for them of its own accord, and they went out and went along one street, and immediately the angel left him.  When Peter came to himself, he said, “Now I am sure that the Lord has sent his angel and rescued me from the hand of Herod and from all that the Jewish people were expecting.”When he realized this, he went to the house of Mary, the mother of John whose other name was Mark, where many were gathered together and were praying. And when he knocked at the door of the gateway, a servant girl named Rhoda came to answer. Recognizing Peter’s voice, in her joy she did not open the gate but ran in and reported that Peter was standing at the gate. They said to her, “You are out of your mind.” But she kept insisting that it was so, and they kept saying, “It is his angel!” But Peter continued knocking, and when they opened, they saw him and were amazed.” 

Q. Did the religious leaders like that Peter was preaching and teaching about Jesus? What did they do to Peter?

Q. What happened while Peter was sleeping? What did the angel help Peter do?

Q. Where did Peter go when he got out of prison?

3. Challenge

Prisons come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. Sometimes they are prisons of circumstances that are forced on us. Other times, they are prisons of our own making. No matter what kind of prison we find ourselves in, we can rest assured that God is able to set us free! All we must do is call on God, and He will provide a way of escape. He may not come in the exact way or time that we want, but God will always come through.

Q. Has there ever been a time you felt like you were in a “prison”? Did you rely on God to set you free?

4. Prayer Focus

Pray for your children if they are going through a “prison” in their life. Pray that they will have God’s peace. Pray that they will trust God’s timing. Pray that God will set them FREE from their prison, today. Pray that they will trust in God in future “prisons” they go through.

 

Into All the World

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Adult & Teen Discussion Guide

You know as a Christian, you’re supposed to make disciples – but what’s the best way? And who should be doing the heavy lifting? As it turns out, “evangelism” is a lot bigger – and subtler – than you often think, and the right person to carry it out is you!

1. Discussion 

1 Peter 2:9 [NLT]  “…You are a chosen people. You are royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light.”

The calling – and blessing – to serve as a representative of God is on every believer, including you! As you show people what it looks like to be brought from darkness into light, God will draw them to repentance and life change.

Q . Do you feel like God has a “call on your life?” If so, how would you describe it to someone?

Q . When you consider God’s plans for you, do you think of them more as things He wants you to do, or ways He wants you to be? Which should take priority?

2. Challenge

Matthew 5:16 [GNT] “In the same way your light must shine before people, so that they will see the good things you do and praise your Father in heaven.”

When it comes to fulfilling God’s call to make disciples, we’re always “on the clock.” His influence on your attitudes, your perspectives, and your actions, should touch every aspect of life. 

In that way, you’ll be showing people what God has done inside you and pointing them to Him.

Q . What’s an activity or scenario in your life where it’s easy to spot God’s influence? What’s one where it’s difficult?

Q . How could you go about increasing God’s influence in that area?

3. Prayer Focus

Take a few minutes as a family: thank God for calling you to be part of such an important assignment. Ask the Holy Spirit to increase His influence in parts of your life that you’ve never considered before, so you can be more effective at making disciples.


Family with Small Children Discussion Guide

Unstoppable

1. Power Verse

Job 42:2 “I know that you can do anything, and no one can stop you.”

What’s Up: “Nothing Can Stop The Work Of God!”

This week, we start a brand new series called, “Prison Break.” In this week’s lesson, we learn that NOTHING can stop God’s plan. Through the apostles’ Prison Break, we learn that God is more powerful than anything and everything in this world!

2. Discussion

 

Acts 5:12-42 

The Apostles Heal Many People

12 The apostles did many signs and wonders among the people. All the believers used to meet together at Solomon’s Porch. 13 No outsider dared to join them. But the people thought highly of them. 14 More and more men and women believed in the Lord. They joined the other believers. 15 So people brought those who were sick into the streets. They placed them on beds and mats. They hoped that at least Peter’s shadow might fall on some of them as he walked by. 16 Crowds even gathered from the towns around Jerusalem. They brought their sick people. They also brought those who were suffering because of evil spirits. All of them were healed.

The Apostles Are Treated Badly

17 The high priest and all his companions were Sadducees. They were very jealous of the apostles. 18 So they arrested them and put them in the public jail. 19 But during the night an angel of the Lord came. He opened the doors of the jail and brought the apostles out. 20 “Go! Stand in the temple courtyard,” the angel said. “Tell the people all about this new life.”

21 Early the next day they did as they had been told. They entered the temple courtyard. There they began to teach the people.

The high priest and his companions arrived. They called the Sanhedrin together. The Sanhedrin was a gathering of all the elders of Israel. They sent for the apostles who were in jail. 22 The officers arrived at the jail. But they didn’t find the apostles there. So they went back and reported it. 23 “We found the jail locked up tight,” they said. “The guards were standing at the doors. But when we opened the doors, we didn’t find anyone inside.” 24 When the captain of the temple guard and the chief priests heard this report, they were bewildered. They wondered what would happen next.

25 Then someone came and said, “Look! The men you put in jail are standing in the temple courtyard. They are teaching the people.” 26 So the captain went with his officers and brought the apostles back. But they didn’t use force. They were afraid the people would kill them by throwing stones at them.

27 They brought the apostles to the Sanhedrin. The high priest questioned them. 28 “We gave you clear orders not to teach in Jesus’ name,” he said. “But you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching. You want to make us guilty of this man’s death.”

29 Peter and the other apostles replied, “We must obey God instead of people! 30 You had Jesus killed by nailing him to a cross. But the God of our people raised Jesus from the dead. 31 Now Jesus is Prince and Savior. God has proved this by giving Jesus a place of honor with him. He did it to turn Israel away from their sins and forgive them. 32 We are telling people about these things. And so is the Holy Spirit. God has given the Spirit to those who obey him.”

33 When the leaders heard this, they became very angry. They wanted to put the apostles to death. 34 But a Pharisee named Gamaliel stood up in the Sanhedrin. He was a teacher of the law. He was honored by all the people. He ordered the apostles to be taken outside for a little while. 35 Then Gamaliel spoke to the Sanhedrin. “Men of Israel,” he said, “think carefully about what you plan to do to these men. 36 Some time ago Theudas appeared. He claimed he was really somebody. About 400 people followed him. But he was killed. All his followers were scattered. So they accomplished nothing. 37 After this, Judas from Galilee came along. This was in the days when the Romans made a list of all the people. Judas led a gang of men against the Romans. He too was killed. All his followers were scattered. 38 So let me give you some advice. Leave these men alone! Let them go! If their plans and actions only come from people, they will fail. 39 But if their plans come from God, you won’t be able to stop these men. You will only find yourselves fighting against God.”

40 His speech won the leaders over. They called the apostles in and had them whipped. The leaders ordered them not to speak in Jesus’ name. Then they let the apostles go.

41 The apostles were full of joy as they left the Sanhedrin. They considered it an honor to suffer shame for the name of Jesus. 42 Every day they taught in the temple courtyards and from house to house. They never stopped telling people the good news that Jesus is the Messiah.

3. Challenge

Q. Was everyone happy about what the disciples  were doing? What happened to the apostles? Did they stay there? Were the apostle able to keep preaching & teaching?

Q. What can we do when it seems like the enemy is trying to stop God’s plan?

As Christians, we have a very real enemy – the devil. The Bible says that the enemy has come to steal, kill, and destroy. The devil will try anything and everything in order to try to stop God’s plan.The early Church learned this the hard way. The apostles found themselves thrown in prison simply for preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

4. Prayer Focus

Lead your children in a prayer of thanksgiving that God is unstoppable! His plan is unstoppable! Pray that God will help them be bold!

Growing Where You Are Planted

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Adult & Teen Discussion Guide

Life with God is good, but it’s not always easy. Sometimes we find ourselves in a season of frustration, and the natural tendency is to complain or shake our fist at the Creator. What we need to do instead is to remind ourselves whose we are and whose purpose we live to accomplish.

1. Discussion 

Psalms 92:12-15 “The righteous will flourish like a palm tree, they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon; planted in the house of the LORD, they will flourish in the courts of our God.”

God doesn’t plant His servants anywhere with the intent to wither and kill them. He wants us to flourish in any season – even the difficult and frustrating ones.

Q. If you spend a difficult season looking for a way out, how will that change your effectiveness for God? How about if you spend a difficult season looking for ways to learn or to serve?

Q. Psalms 92 says the “righteous” will flourish. What kind of attitude & response to frustration does God expect from someone who is “righteous?”

2. Challenge

Galatians 1:10 [NIV] “Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.”

If we look at a confusing or frustrating season of life from our own perspective (how does this affect me? Where am I at, compared with my peers?), we’re going to stay frustrated. When we remember, though, that our lives belong to God, and we’re instruments in His hands to serve His purpose, we can find growth – and even joy – in the hardest circumstances.

Q. Think back to a frustrating season in your life. Was your attitude positive or negative? Was your focus primarily “God, why are you doing this to me?” Or was it “God, what do you want to do through me?” How did your response affect your attitude in that season? What would be the best response in a future season of frustration?

3. Prayer Focus

Take a few minutes as a family: thank God for loving you through the easy times and the hard times in life. Ask the Holy Spirit to develop the attitude of a servant, so you can have the right attitude and response in any season of life.


Family with Small Children Discussion Guide

Evidence of Grace

1. Power Verse

Titus 2:11  “For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men.”

What’s Up: “I Will Show The World God’s Grace In Me!”

This week, we start a brand new series called, “Stand Out!” As Christians, it’s important that we stand out from the world and from culture. We must be different, and one of the greatest ways we can be different and stand out is by demonstrating the evidence of grace in our lives.

2. Discussion

Read: Mark 2:13-17 “Once again Jesus went out beside the Sea of Galilee. A large crowd came to him. He began to teach them. As he walked along he saw Levi, the son of Alphaeus. Levi was sitting at the tax collector’s booth. ‘Follow me,’ Jesus told him. Levi got up and followed him. Later Jesus was having dinner at Levi’s house. Many tax collectors and sinners were eating with him and his disciples. They were part of the large crowd following Jesus. Some teachers of the law who were Pharisees were there. They saw Jesus eating with sinners and tax collectors. So they asked his disciples, ‘Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?’ Jesus heard that. So he said to them, ‘Those who are healthy don’t need a doctor. Sick people do. I have not come to get those who think they are right with God to follow me. I have come to get sinners to follow me.”’

Q: Who did Jesus ask to be his disciple? 

Q. What was his job? Where did Jesus have dinner?

Q. How did the religious leaders feel about that?

Q.  How did Jesus respond to the religious leaders?

3. Challenge

We need to show the world with our words and actions that we have been changed by God’s grace. Matthew ended up going from a despised, wicked tax collector to a man with the evidence of grace in his life.

Q. What does grace mean?

Q. Who does God give grace to?  

Q. How can you show the evidence of  grace in your life? 

God’s grace is for everyone and it helps us say  “NO” to sin and stay focused on Heaven! We need to make sure we have the evidence of grace in our lives!

4. Prayer Focus

Pray for salvation if your children are ready to receive God’s grace and forgiveness. Pray that they would trade their sins for the hope of Heaven. Pray that they would begin to spend their time focused on the Kingdom of Heaven, instead of the temporary pleasure of sin.

My Purpose

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Adult & Teen Discussion Guide

Every human has an innate desire to find purpose in life. People go about that search in different ways, but ultimately, there’s only one fulfilling solution – serving the purpose you were created for. Serving God.

1. Discussion

Psalm 100:2-3 [ESV] “Serve the Lord with gladness! Come into his presence with singing! Know that the Lord, he is God! It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.”

Understanding our purpose starts with understanding our origin. We are God’s creation- He’s the one who determined our purpose, and He designed us for it specifically.

Q. Have you ever wondered what your purpose was in life?

Q. When (if) you wondered that, did it feel like something you needed to discover, to remember, or to create?

Q. How do you think someone with a secular evolutionary belief would view the quest for purpose?

2. Challenge

Psalm 100:4-5 [ESV]   Give thanks to him; bless his name! For the Lord is good…”

Your purpose in life is to serve the Lord, to acknowledge Him as a creator and benefactor, and to praise Him – not only with our words, but with our lifestyle. Trying to substitute any other purpose will be unfulfilling in the long run.

Q. What are some alternative purposes people substitute in place of serving God?

Q. What are a few examples of how functioning in your true purpose (serving God) might bring more fulfillment in your life?

3. Prayer Focus

Take a few minutes as a family: thank God for creating you for a purpose. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you stay focused on Him, living life with Him infused in every part.


Family with Small Children Discussion Guide

The kids experienced wacky science experiments is Overflow Kids Church this week, all designed to demonstrate Biblical truths.  Take a few minutes to discuss the what they learned.  

Q. What was your favorite experiment? Did you learn any scientific facts? What interesting things did you see at the science fair?

2. Bible Reading

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

Tornado Tubes:  We created tornadoes in 2 liter bottles of water.

Big Idea: God will bring me through any storm.

Psalm 46:1 (ESV) “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.”

Q. What are some times that you feel afraid?  

Q. What should we do when we are scared?  

Q. How should we pray?

3. Discussion

The acetone ate through the styrofoam: It really dissolved when placed in acetone.

Big Idea: God makes my sins disappear.

1 John 1:9 (ESV) “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

Q. Do you think it disappoints God when we disobey Him and sin? What are some examples of sin?  

Q. What happens to us when we ask Jesus into our hearts and ask for forgiveness for our sins?

4. Prayer Focus

Pray that God would help your children find God in their everyday experiences. Through struggles and victories we can praise God for the things and people around us.

A Life Worth Living

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Adult & Teen Discussion Guide

Jesus came to make life better – not just in eternity, but in this season of living on earth. That difference that He brings is more than theory or philosophy – it’s a real-world, observable change that lifts every part of life.

1. Discussion

John 10:10 [ESV] “I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.”

Jesus’ famous words still ring true today. There’s a level of living that can only exist when the Holy Spirit is regenerating us from the inside out. It’s that change – the kind that people can see – that gives credibility to our story when we share with others.

Q. What are some visible changes that happen in people when they surrender their lives to God?

Q. What’s an example of a behavior or way of life that’s different in you because of the Holy Spirit’s influence?

2. Challenge

Psalm 42:1-2 [ESV]   “As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God.  My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.”

Have you ever had a craving for something, but didn’t know exactly what it was that you were missing? Frustrating, for sure! You understand that the craving in your spirit is for God, but people who don’t know God don’t realize what they’re missing. That’s what’s so exciting about sharing the gospel?  Getting to see someone made spiritually whole when they first encounter God’s abundant life! 

Q. Think back to when you first gave your life to God. How would you describe the difference between the pre-God you, and the spiritually-whole you?   Q. The people in your life who need God may not realize what it is they’re missing. How would you explain the difference God can make in their life?

3. Prayer Focus

Take a few minutes as a family: thank God for making your life abundantly better (be specific!). Ask the Holy Spirit to use you to share that experience with other people who need to experience the God-life.


Family with Small Children Discussion Guide

1. Power Verse

Matthew 28:5-6  “The angel said, … ‘You are looking for Jesus… He isn’t here.  He has been raised from the dead.’”

What’s Up: “I Believe Jesus is ALIVE”

Thomas gets a bad rap. Most of us know him as “Doubting Thomas,” but he is not the only one to ever have doubts about Jesus.  If we are honest, we all struggle with doubts from time to time.  Sadly, we choose to hide our doubts because we are ashamed and think they make us less of a Christian.

2. Bible Reading

Instead, we should admit our doubts to God and ask Him to help us overcome them with faith.  The truth is – even if we doubt Jesus rose from the dead, it doesn’t change the truth that He did!

Read: Luke 22-24 

Judas Agrees to Hand Jesus Over

22 The Feast of Unleavened Bread, called the Passover, was near. The chief priests and the teachers of the law were looking for a way to get rid of Jesus. They were afraid of the people. Then Satan entered Judas, who was called Iscariot. Judas was one of the 12 disciples. He went to the chief priests and the officers of the temple guard. He talked with them about how he could hand Jesus over to them. They were delighted and agreed to give him money. Judas accepted their offer. He watched for the right time to hand Jesus over to them. He wanted to do it when no crowd was around.

The Last Supper

Then the day of Unleavened Bread came. That was the time the Passover lamb had to be sacrificed. Jesus sent Peter and John on ahead. “Go,” he told them. “Prepare for us to eat the Passover meal.” 13 Peter and John left. They found things just as Jesus had told them. So they prepared the Passover meal. 17 After Jesus took the cup, he gave thanks. He said, “Take this cup and share it among yourselves. 18 I tell you, I will not drink wine with you again until God’s kingdom comes.” 19 Then Jesus took bread. He gave thanks and broke it. He handed it to them and said, “This is my body. It is given for you. Every time you eat it, do this in memory of me.”

 

Jesus Prays on the Mount of Olives

39 Jesus went out as usual to the Mount of Olives. His disciples followed him. 40 When they reached the place, Jesus spoke. “Pray that you won’t fall into sin when you are tempted,” he said to them. 41 Then he went a short distance away from them. There he got down on his knees and prayed. 42 He said, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup of suffering away from me. But do what you want, not what I want.” 43 An angel from heaven appeared to Jesus and gave him strength. 44 Because he was very sad and troubled, he prayed even harder. His sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.

45 After that, he got up from prayer and went back to the disciples. He found them sleeping. They were worn out because they were very sad. 46 “Why are you sleeping?” he asked them. “Get up! Pray that you won’t fall into sin when you are tempted.”

Jesus Is Arrested

47 While Jesus was still speaking, a crowd came up. The man named Judas was leading them. He was one of the 12 disciples. Judas approached Jesus to kiss him. 48 But Jesus asked him, “Judas, are you handing over the Son of Man with a kiss?”

49 Jesus’ followers saw what was going to happen. So they said, “Lord, should we use our swords against them?” 50 One of them struck the slave of the high priest and cut off his right ear.

51 But Jesus answered, “Stop this!” And he touched the man’s ear and healed him.

52 Then Jesus spoke to the chief priests, the officers of the temple guard, and the elders. They had all come for him. “Am I leading a band of armed men against you?” he asked. “Do you have to come with swords and clubs? 53 Every day I was with you in the temple courtyard. And you didn’t lay a hand on me. But this is your hour. This is when darkness rules.”

 

The Guards Make Fun of Jesus

63 There were men guarding Jesus. They began laughing at him and beating him. 64 They blindfolded him. They said, “Prophesy! Who hit you?” 65 They also said many other things to make fun of him.

Jesus Is Brought to Pilate and Herod

66 At dawn the elders of the people met together. These included the chief priests and the teachers of the law. Jesus was led to them. 67 “If you are the Messiah,” they said, “tell us.”

Jesus answered, “If I tell you, you will not believe me. 68 And if I asked you, you would not answer. 69 But from now on, the Son of Man will be seated at the right hand of the mighty God.” 70 They all asked, “Are you the Son of God then?” He replied, “You say that I am.” 20 Pilate wanted to let Jesus go. So he made an appeal to the crowd again. 21 But they kept shouting, “Crucify him! Crucify him!” 22 Pilate spoke to them for the third time. “Why?” he asked. “What wrong has this man done? I have found no reason to have him put to death. So I will just have him whipped and let him go.” 23 But with loud shouts they kept calling for Jesus to be crucified. The people’s shouts won out. 24 So Pilate decided to give them what they wanted. 

Jesus Is Nailed to a Cross

32 Two other men were also led out with Jesus to be killed. Both of them had broken the law. 33 The soldiers brought them to the place called the Skull. There they nailed Jesus to the cross. He hung between the two criminals. One was on his right and one was on his left. 34 Jesus said, “Father, forgive them. They don’t know what they are doing.” The soldiers divided up his clothes by casting lots.

Jesus Dies

44 It was now about noon. Then darkness covered the whole land until three o’clock. 45 The sun had stopped shining. The temple curtain was torn in two. 46 Jesus called out in a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commit my life.” After he said this, he took his last breath. 47 The Roman commander saw what had happened. He praised God and said, “Jesus was surely a man who did what was right.” 48 The people had gathered to watch this sight. When they saw what happened, they felt very sad. Then they went away. 49 But all those who knew Jesus stood not very far away, watching these things. They included the women who had followed him from Galilee.

Jesus Is Buried

50 A man named Joseph was a member of the Jewish Council. He was a good and honest man. 51 Joseph had not agreed with what the leaders had decided and done. He was from Arimathea, a town in Judea. He himself was waiting for God’s kingdom. 52 Joseph went to Pilate and asked for Jesus’ body. 53 Joseph took it down and wrapped it in linen cloth. Then he placed it in a tomb cut in the rock. No one had ever been buried there. 54 It was Preparation Day. The Sabbath day was about to begin. 55 The women who had come with Jesus from Galilee followed Joseph. They saw the tomb and how Jesus’ body was placed in it. 56 Then they went home. There they prepared spices and perfumes. But they rested on the Sabbath day in order to obey the Law.

Jesus Rises From the Dead

24 It was very early in the morning on the first day of the week. The women took the spices they had prepared. Then they went to the tomb. They found the stone rolled away from it. When they entered the tomb, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. They were wondering about this. Suddenly two men in clothes as bright as lightning stood beside them. The women were terrified. They bowed down with their faces to the ground. Then the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? Jesus is not here! He has risen! Remember how he told you he would rise. It was while he was still with you in Galilee. He said, ‘The Son of Man must be handed over to sinful people. He must be nailed to a cross. On the third day he will rise from the dead.’ ” Then the women remembered Jesus’ words. They came back from the tomb. They told all these things to the 11 apostles and to all the others. 10 Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the others with them were the ones who told the apostles. 11 But the apostles did not believe the women. Their words didn’t make any sense to them. 12 But Peter got up and ran to the tomb. He bent over and saw the strips of linen lying by themselves. Then he went away, wondering what had happened.

 

Jesus Appears to the Disciples

36 The disciples were still talking about this when Jesus himself suddenly stood among them. He said, “May you have peace!” 37 They were surprised and terrified. They thought they were seeing a ghost. 38 Jesus said to them, “Why are you troubled? Why do you have doubts in your minds? 39 Look at my hands and my feet. It’s really me! Touch me and see. A ghost does not have a body or bones. But you can see that I do.” 40 After he said that, he showed them his hands and feet. 41 But they still did not believe it. They were amazed and filled with joy. So Jesus asked them, “Do you have anything here to eat?” 42 They gave him a piece of cooked fish. 43 He took it and ate it in front of them.

44 Jesus said to them, “This is what I told you while I was still with you. Everything written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms must come true.”

45 Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. 46 He told them, “This is what is written. The Messiah will suffer. He will rise from the dead on the third day. 47 His followers will preach in his name. They will tell others to turn away from their sins and be forgiven. People from every nation will hear it, beginning at Jerusalem. 48 You have seen these things with your own eyes. 49 I am going to send you what my Father has promised. But for now, stay in the city. Stay there until you have received power from heaven.”

Jesus Is Taken Up Into Heaven

50 Jesus led his disciples out to the area near Bethany. Then he lifted up his hands and blessed them. 51 While he was blessing them, he left them. He was taken up into heaven. 52 Then they worshiped him. With great joy, they returned to Jerusalem. 53 Every day they went to the temple, praising God.

3. Discussion

Q. How did Jesus die?  How long was he buried?

Q.  What happened on the third day?  What did the angel say?

John 20:24-29 Now Thomas… one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!” But he said to them, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands… I will not believe.” A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.” Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!” Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

Q. Who doubted that Jesus rose from the dead?

Q. What did Thomas say when the disciples told him about Jesus?

Q. When did Thomas finally choose to believe?

Q. What did Jesus say about those who believe without seeing?

It’s okay to have doubts.  Jesus doesn’t get angry when we doubt, but He does want us to admit our doubt and allow Him to help us overcome it and replace it with strong faith.  

4. Prayer Focus

Pray that God would help your children to leave their doubt behind and choose faith.  Remind them that Jesus loves them even when they doubt, but He wants their lives to be full of faith so they can do amazing things for Him.