Walk the Talk

What is a Disciple?

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Adult & Teen Discussion Guide

What does it mean to make a disciple? Well – it doesn’t mean finding 12 guys to follow you around in robes and sandals! Jesus’ famous final command can be summed up this way: form a relationship with someone, and use your words and actions to help them live a life devoted to God the way that yours is.

1. Bible Knowledge

2 Timothy 2:1–2 [ESV] “You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus, and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also.”

Bible knowledge can be passed along in a ton of different ways, but Christian character can only be conveyed one way, learning by example, one to one.

Q. Ask a friend or family member to describe how you talk, what your body language is like when you’re excited, how you sound when you’re tired. Where did you learn things like that from – school, reading a book… or from the example of people around you?

Q. What one or two people in your life have had the biggest impact on your character?

2. Challenge

Romans 6:1–4 [ESV] “Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? … just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.” 

It’s not enough to know the Bible or believe in Jesus.  We’ve got to teach people to do what He said. Successful discipleship produces visible life change.

Q. Name a few people in your life who look up to you or take their cues from how you live. How are your attitudes and actions pointing them toward a God-pleasing life? 

Q. If you’re setting an example for others by accident, how much more effectively could you influence them if you did it strategically? What could you start (or stop) today that would help you disciple someone more effectively?

3. Prayer Focus

Take a few minutes as a family: thank God for the example(s) who showed you how to live a God-pleasing life. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you be that kind of an example for the next generation of believers.


Family with Small Children Discussion Guide

Be Happy When People Pick On You

1. Power Verse

Matthew 5:10 “God blesses those who are persecuted for doing right, for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs.”

Watts Up: “Even When I’m Treated Bad, I Know God Will Bless Me Good!”

This week, we start a brand new series called, “Ouch!”  In this series, we will learn about powerful truths Jesus taught when he preached the Sermon on the Mount.  Jesus said some things that made his followers say, “Ouch!” because they knew what Jesus said was so true, and when they thought about how they were living compared to how Jesus said they should be, it stung a little.

2. Bible Reading

Read: Genesis 39-41

Joseph and Potiphar’s Wife

39 Now Joseph had been taken down to Egypt. Potiphar, an Egyptian who was one of Pharaoh’s officials, the captain of the guard, bought him from the Ishmaelites who had taken him there.

The Lord was with Joseph so that he prospered, and he lived in the house of his Egyptian master. When his master saw that the Lord was with him and that the Lord gave him success in everything he did, Joseph found favor in his eyes and became his attendant. Potiphar put him in charge of his household, and he entrusted to his care everything he owned. From the time he put him in charge of his household and of all that he owned, the Lord blessed the household of the Egyptian because of Joseph. The blessing of the Lord was on everything Potiphar had, both in the house and in the field. So Potiphar left everything he had in Joseph’s care; with Joseph in charge, he did not concern himself with anything except the food he ate.

Now Joseph was well-built and handsome, and after a while his master’s wife took notice of Joseph and said, “Come to bed with me!”

But he refused. “With me in charge,” he told her, “my master does not concern himself with anything in the house; everything he owns he has entrusted to my care. No one is greater in this house than I am. My master has withheld nothing from me except you, because you are his wife. How then could I do such a wicked thing and sin against God?” 10 And though she spoke to Joseph day after day, he refused to go to bed with her or even be with her.

11 One day he went into the house to attend to his duties, and none of the household servants was inside. 12 She caught him by his cloak and said, “Come to bed with me!” But he left his cloak in her hand and ran out of the house.

13 When she saw that he had left his cloak in her hand and had run out of the house, 14 she called her household servants. “Look,” she said to them, “this Hebrew has been brought to us to make sport of us! He came in here to sleep with me, but I screamed. 15 When he heard me scream for help, he left his cloak beside me and ran out of the house.”

16 She kept his cloak beside her until his master came home. 17 Then she told him this story: “That Hebrew slave you brought us came to me to make sport of me.18 But as soon as I screamed for help, he left his cloak beside me and ran out of the house.”

19 When his master heard the story his wife told him, saying, “This is how your slave treated me,” he burned with anger. 20 Joseph’s master took him and put him in prison, the place where the king’s prisoners were confined.

But while Joseph was there in the prison, 21 the Lord was with him; he showed him kindness and granted him favor in the eyes of the prison warden. 22 So the warden put Joseph in charge of all those held in the prison, and he was made responsible for all that was done there. 23 The warden paid no attention to anything under Joseph’s care, because the Lord was with Joseph and gave him success in whatever he did.

The Cupbearer and the Baker

40 Some time later, the cupbearer and the baker of the king of Egypt offended their master, the king of Egypt. Pharaoh was angry with his two officials, the chief cupbearer and the chief baker, and put them in custody in the house of the captain of the guard, in the same prison where Joseph was confined. The captain of the guard assigned them to Joseph, and he attended them.

After they had been in custody for some time, each of the two men—the cupbearer and the baker of the king of Egypt, who were being held in prison—had a dream the same night, and each dream had a meaning of its own.

When Joseph came to them the next morning, he saw that they were dejected.So he asked Pharaoh’s officials who were in custody with him in his master’s house, “Why do you look so sad today?”

“We both had dreams,” they answered, “but there is no one to interpret them.”

Then Joseph said to them, “Do not interpretations belong to God? Tell me your dreams.”

So the chief cupbearer told Joseph his dream. He said to him, “In my dream I saw a vine in front of me, 10 and on the vine were three branches. As soon as it budded, it blossomed, and its clusters ripened into grapes. 11 Pharaoh’s cup was in my hand, and I took the grapes, squeezed them into Pharaoh’s cup and put the cup in his hand.”

12 “This is what it means,” Joseph said to him. “The three branches are three days.13 Within three days Pharaoh will lift up your head and restore you to your position, and you will put Pharaoh’s cup in his hand, just as you used to do when you were his cupbearer. 14 But when all goes well with you, remember me and show me kindness; mention me to Pharaoh and get me out of this prison. 15 I was forcibly carried off from the land of the Hebrews, and even here I have done nothing to deserve being put in a dungeon.”

16 When the chief baker saw that Joseph had given a favorable interpretation, he said to Joseph, “I too had a dream: On my head were three baskets of bread.[a]17 In the top basket were all kinds of baked goods for Pharaoh, but the birds were eating them out of the basket on my head.”

18 “This is what it means,” Joseph said. “The three baskets are three days.19 Within three days Pharaoh will lift off your head and impale your body on a pole.And the birds will eat away your flesh.”

20 Now the third day was Pharaoh’s birthday, and he gave a feast for all his officials. He lifted up the heads of the chief cupbearer and the chief baker in the presence of his officials: 21 He restored the chief cupbearer to his position, so that he once again put the cup into Pharaoh’s hand— 22 but he impaled the chief baker, just as Joseph had said to them in his interpretation.

23 The chief cupbearer, however, did not remember Joseph; he forgot him.

Pharaoh’s Dreams

41 When two full years had passed, Pharaoh had a dream: He was standing by the Nile, when out of the river there came up seven cows, sleek and fat, and they grazed among the reeds. After them, seven other cows, ugly and gaunt, came up out of the Nile and stood beside those on the riverbank. And the cows that were ugly and gaunt ate up the seven sleek, fat cows. Then Pharaoh woke up.

He fell asleep again and had a second dream: Seven heads of grain, healthy and good, were growing on a single stalk. After them, seven other heads of grain sprouted—thin and scorched by the east wind. The thin heads of grain swallowed up the seven healthy, full heads. Then Pharaoh woke up; it had been a dream.

In the morning his mind was troubled, so he sent for all the magicians and wise men of Egypt. Pharaoh told them his dreams, but no one could interpret them for him.

Then the chief cupbearer said to Pharaoh, “Today I am reminded of my shortcomings. 10 Pharaoh was once angry with his servants, and he imprisoned me and the chief baker in the house of the captain of the guard. 11 Each of us had a dream the same night, and each dream had a meaning of its own. 12 Now a young Hebrew was there with us, a servant of the captain of the guard. We told him our dreams, and he interpreted them for us, giving each man the interpretation of his dream. 13 And things turned out exactly as he interpreted them to us: I was restored to my position, and the other man was impaled.”

14 So Pharaoh sent for Joseph, and he was quickly brought from the dungeon.When he had shaved and changed his clothes, he came before Pharaoh.

15 Pharaoh said to Joseph, “I had a dream, and no one can interpret it. But I have heard it said of you that when you hear a dream you can interpret it.”

16 “I cannot do it,” Joseph replied to Pharaoh, “but God will give Pharaoh the answer he desires.”

17 Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, “In my dream I was standing on the bank of the Nile, 18 when out of the river there came up seven cows, fat and sleek, and they grazed among the reeds. 19 After them, seven other cows came up—scrawny and very ugly and lean. I had never seen such ugly cows in all the land of Egypt. 20 The lean, ugly cows ate up the seven fat cows that came up first. 21 But even after they ate them, no one could tell that they had done so; they looked just as ugly as before. Then I woke up.

22 “In my dream I saw seven heads of grain, full and good, growing on a single stalk. 23 After them, seven other heads sprouted—withered and thin and scorched by the east wind. 24 The thin heads of grain swallowed up the seven good heads. I told this to the magicians, but none of them could explain it to me.”

25 Then Joseph said to Pharaoh, “The dreams of Pharaoh are one and the same.God has revealed to Pharaoh what he is about to do. 26 The seven good cows are seven years, and the seven good heads of grain are seven years; it is one and the same dream. 27 The seven lean, ugly cows that came up afterward are seven years, and so are the seven worthless heads of grain scorched by the east wind: They are seven years of famine.

28 “It is just as I said to Pharaoh: God has shown Pharaoh what he is about to do.29 Seven years of great abundance are coming throughout the land of Egypt, 30 but seven years of famine will follow them. Then all the abundance in Egypt will be forgotten, and the famine will ravage the land. 31 The abundance in the land will not be remembered, because the famine that follows it will be so severe. 32 The reason the dream was given to Pharaoh in two forms is that the matter has been firmly decided by God, and God will do it soon.

33 “And now let Pharaoh look for a discerning and wise man and put him in charge of the land of Egypt. 34 Let Pharaoh appoint commissioners over the land to take a fifth of the harvest of Egypt during the seven years of abundance. 35 They should collect all the food of these good years that are coming and store up the grain under the authority of Pharaoh, to be kept in the cities for food. 36 This food should be held in reserve for the country, to be used during the seven years of famine that will come upon Egypt, so that the country may not be ruined by the famine.”

37 The plan seemed good to Pharaoh and to all his officials. 38 So Pharaoh asked them, “Can we find anyone like this man, one in whom is the spirit of God[b]?”

39 Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Since God has made all this known to you, there is no one so discerning and wise as you. 40 You shall be in charge of my palace,and all my people are to submit to your orders. Only with respect to the throne will I be greater than you.”

Joseph in Charge of Egypt

41 So Pharaoh said to Joseph, “I hereby put you in charge of the whole land of Egypt.” 42 Then Pharaoh took his signet ring from his finger and put it on Joseph’s finger. He dressed him in robes of fine linen and put a gold chain around his neck.43 He had him ride in a chariot as his second-in-command,[c] and people shouted before him, “Make way[d]!” Thus he put him in charge of the whole land of Egypt.

44 Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, “I am Pharaoh, but without your word no one will lift hand or foot in all Egypt.” 45 Pharaoh gave Joseph the name Zaphenath-Paneah and gave him Asenath daughter of Potiphera, priest of On,[e] to be his wife.And Joseph went throughout the land of Egypt.

46 Joseph was thirty years old when he entered the service of Pharaoh king of Egypt. And Joseph went out from Pharaoh’s presence and traveled throughout Egypt. 47 During the seven years of abundance the land produced plentifully.48 Joseph collected all the food produced in those seven years of abundance in Egypt and stored it in the cities. In each city he put the food grown in the fields surrounding it. 49 Joseph stored up huge quantities of grain, like the sand of the sea; it was so much that he stopped keeping records because it was beyond measure.

50 Before the years of famine came, two sons were born to Joseph by Asenath daughter of Potiphera, priest of On. 51 Joseph named his firstborn Manasseh[f] and said, “It is because God has made me forget all my trouble and all my father’s household.” 52 The second son he named Ephraim[g] and said, “It is because God has made me fruitful in the land of my suffering.”

53 The seven years of abundance in Egypt came to an end, 54 and the seven years of famine began, just as Joseph had said. There was famine in all the other lands, but in the whole land of Egypt there was food. 55 When all Egypt began to feel the famine, the people cried to Pharaoh for food. Then Pharaoh told all the Egyptians, “Go to Joseph and do what he tells you.”

56 When the famine had spread over the whole country, Joseph opened all the storehouses and sold grain to the Egyptians, for the famine was severe throughout Egypt. 57 And all the world came to Egypt to buy grain from Joseph, because the famine was severe everywhere.

3. Discussion

Q. What happened to Joseph?  

Q. Did Joseph do anything wrong?

Q. Was Joseph treated fairly?  How did he respond? 

Everyone gets mistreated at one time or another.  It’s a part of life, but how we respond is important.  It’s natural to respond to bullies and mean words and actions by getting upset or even angry, but Jesus said that we shouldn’t respond that way.

Jesus said that we should be HAPPY when people pick on us.  Ouch!  It stings a little when we realize the truth Jesus shared and how our behavior has differed from His instructions.

Q. Have you ever been mistreated by people in your life?  

Q. How did it make you feel?

Q. How do you normally respond to people who hurt you?

4. Prayer Focus

Pray for your child if they are being mistreated or bullied.  Pray that they will continue to do the right thing.  Pray that they will be comforted in knowing they are not alone in their situation – that Jesus knows how they feel.  And pray that they will always stay faithful to God even when they are persecuted.

Spiritual Growth

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Adult & Teen Discussion Guide

Last week, we looked at God’s big vision for 2018, 700 new people reached with the gospel and growing spiritually as part of the church. It’s awesome – we want to see it… but how are we supposed to go about accomplishing it?

1. Prepare Yourself

1 Peter 3:15 [GW] “But dedicate your lives to Christ as Lord. Always be ready to defend your confidence in God when anyone asks you to explain it.”

Q. Why do you choose to live with Christ as Lord of your life? Take a moment to explain it out loud, or if it helps, write it down.

Q. You don’t need to quote the entire Bible to lead someone to faith in God, but it would help to know a few verses by heart. Test yourself right now – can you remember verses that explain God’s plan for salvation? If not, what’s one verse that you should start memorizing today?

2. Engage the World

Matthew 13:3-8 [NLT] “Listen! A farmer went out to plant some seeds. 4 As he scattered them across his field, some seeds fell on a footpath… 5 Other seeds fell on shallow soil… 7 Other seeds fell among thorns… 8 Still other seeds fell on fertile soil, and they produced a crop that was thirty, sixty, and even a hundred times as much as had been planted!”

It’s not our job to make people accept Christ.  Jesus told us, not everyone will choose Him, but it is our job to spread the gospel like seeds everywhere we go. 

Q. The best gospel presentation you can make is your life. What elements of your life would support your claim that Jesus is Lord? What elements might contradict that message?

Q. Not every interaction with people is a “harvesting” moment. Sometimes our role is to plant a seed; we give people something to think about, to get the wheels turning in their minds and hearts. What are a few examples of what that might look like through your life?

Prayer Focus

Take a few minutes as a family: thank God for entrusting you with sharing the gospel. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you prepare to share your faith, and to open up opportunities with people who need a relationship with Him.


Family with Small Children Discussion Guide

Money Matters

1. Power Verse

Psalm 24:1 “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it.  The world and all its people belong to him.” 

Watts Up: “I’ll Be A Good Steward And Take Care Of God’s Stuff!”

This week we answer a very important question… “What is Stewardship?”  It’s important for our children to not only know what it means to be a “steward,” but also know how to take care of the stuff God gives them!

2. Bible Reading

Read: Matthew 25:14-28

“…A man was going on a journey. He sent for his slaves and put them in charge of his money. He gave five bags of gold to one. He gave two bags to another. And he gave one bag to the third. The man gave each slave the amount of money he knew the slave could take care of…The slave who had received five bags of gold went at once and put his money to work. He earned five bags more. The one with the two bags of gold earned two more. But the man who had received one bag went and dug a hole in the ground. He hid his master’s money in it.  After a long time the master of those slaves returned…The man who had received five bags of gold brought the other five. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you trusted me with five bags of gold. See, I have earned five more.’ His master replied, ‘You have done well, good and faithful slave! You have been faithful with a few things. I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’ The man with two bags of gold also came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you trusted me with two bags of gold. See, I have earned two more.’ His master replied, ‘You have done well, good and faithful slave! You have been faithful with a few things. I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’ Then the man who had received one bag of gold came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘I knew that you are a hard man. You harvest where you have not planted. You gather crops where you have not scattered seed. So I was afraid. I went out and hid your gold in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you.’ His master replied, ‘You evil, lazy slave! …Well then, you should have put my money in the bank. When I returned, I would have received it back with interest.’ Then his master commanded the other slaves, ‘Take the bag of gold from him. Give it to the one who has ten bags.’” 

3. Discussion

Q. How many servants were there in our Bible story? What did each servant do with the “talents” or money he was given? What did the third servant do wrong with his “talent” or money?

That’s right!  The third servant buried his talent.  

Instead of making good use of it, he wasted it.  The master was not happy.  In the same way, God does not want us to waste our money, instead He wants us to be good “stewards!”

Q. What does it mean to be a good steward? Who does our money and stuff really belong to?  (God) How can we be good stewards of the things God has given to us?

4. Prayer Focus

Everything we have comes from God!  He is our source.  It’s important that we remember as “stewards” it’s our job to take good care of what we have because all of it comes from God and really belongs to Him! Pray that you and your children will recognize God as your source and focus on being good stewards of the things you have!

Predicament

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Adult & Teen Discussion Guide

God’s vision for Abundant Life in 2018 is big – reach 700 people with the good news of God’s salvation and disciple them. In order to do our part to see that vision become reality, we’ve got to overcome 3 predicaments our culture is entrenched in.

1. The Relationship Predicament

As technology changes communication, more and more people are becoming isolated. It was Jesus’ prayer for the church that we would be united, working together.

John 17:11 (ESV) Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one.

Q. Do you feel connected or isolated in life? Is the church a factor in that feeling?

Q. Is forming friendships easy or difficult for you? If it’s easy – how might you be able to help others who are less comfortable making friends? If it’s difficult, what are some steps you can make to overcome that challenge?

2. The Transformation Predicament

Many Christians are full of information about God, but show no transformation in their lives. If we’re going to preach a gospel of life change, we need to model it.

Q. Which areas in your life are visibly different than unbelievers because of God’s influence? Which areas are not? If those areas changed, would your example to outsiders be stronger?

3. The Consumer Predicament

Our modern world is training us to expect people and organizations to serve us, instead of training us to serve others. Jesus modeled and taught a life that put others first.

John 7:38 (ESV) Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’ 

Q. In which ways does the church exist to benefit you? In which ways are you a part of the church body to benefit others?

Q. If your mentality became 10% less consumer-minded and 10% more servant-minded, what kind of difference would that make in the lives of others? What difference would it make in the fulfillment of God’s vision for Abundant Life?

Prayer Focus

Take a few minutes as a family: thank God for a compelling vision to change lives in our community this year. Ask the Holy Spirit to help us as a church overcome these predicaments together.


Family with Small Children Discussion Guide

Don’t Be a Stink Bug!

1. Power Verse

Philippians 2:5 “You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had.”

Watts Up: “I Will CHOOSE A Good Attitude!”

This week, we continue the series called, “Bugs.”  In this lesson, we use the stinkbug to help us remember that we have a choice whether or not we have a “stinky” attitude. 

2. Bible Reading

Read: Job 1

The Story Begins

There was a man who lived in the land of Uz. His name was Job. He was honest. He did what was right. He had respect for God and avoided evil. Job had seven sons and three daughters. He owned 7,000 sheep and 3,000 camels. He owned 500 pairs of oxen and 500 donkeys. He also had a large number of servants. He was the most important man among all the people in the east.

His sons used to give feasts in their homes on their birthdays. They would invite their three sisters to eat and drink with them. The time for enjoying good food would end. Then Job would make plans for his children to be made pure and “clean.” He would sacrifice a burnt offering for each of them. He would do it early in the morning. He would think, “Perhaps my children have sinned. Maybe they have spoken evil things against God in their hearts.” That’s what Job always did for his children when he felt they had sinned.

One day angels came to the Lord. Satan also came with them. The Lord said to Satan, “Where have you come from?”

Satan answered, “From traveling all around the earth. I’ve been going from one end of it to the other.”

Then the Lord said to Satan, “Have you thought about my servant Job? There isn’t anyone on earth like him. He is honest. He does what is right. He has respect for God and avoids evil.”

“You always give Job everything he needs,” Satan replied. “That’s why he has respect for you. 10 Haven’t you guarded him and his family? Haven’t you taken care of everything he has? You have blessed everything he does. His flocks and herds are spread all through the land. 11 But now reach out your hand and strike down everything he has. Then I’m sure he will speak evil things against you. In fact, he’ll do it right in front of you.”

12 The Lord said to Satan, “All right. I am handing everything he has over to you. But do not touch the man himself.”

Then Satan left the Lord and went on his way.

13 One day Job’s sons and daughters were at their oldest brother’s house. They were enjoying good food and drinking wine. 14 During that time a messenger came to Job. He said, “The oxen were plowing. The donkeys were eating grass near them. 15 Then the Sabeans attacked us and carried off the animals. They killed some of the servants with their swords. I’m the only one who has escaped to tell you!”

16 While he was still speaking, a second messenger came. He said, “God sent lightning from the sky. It struck the sheep and killed them. It burned up some of the servants. I’m the only one who has escaped to tell you!”

17 While he was still speaking, a third messenger came. He said, “The Chaldeans separated themselves into three groups. They attacked your camels and carried them off. They killed the rest of the servants with their swords. I’m the only one who has escaped to tell you!”

18 While he was still speaking, a fourth messenger came. He said, “Your sons and daughters were at their oldest brother’s house. They were enjoying good food and drinking wine. 19 Suddenly a strong wind blew in from the desert. It struck the four corners of the house. The house fell down on your children. Now all of them are dead. I’m the only one who has escaped to tell you!”

20 After Job heard all these reports, he got up and tore his robe. He shaved his head. Then he fell to the ground and worshiped the Lord. 21 He said,

“I was born naked.
    And I’ll leave here naked.
The Lord has given, and the Lord has taken away.
    May the name of the Lord be praised.”

22 In spite of everything, Job didn’t sin by blaming God for doing anything wrong.

3. Discussion

Q. What happened in Job’s life?  

Q. What kind of attitude did he have?

All of us have bad days.  Sometimes our hair won’t cooperate.  Other times, we face difficulties with people we work with.  Every day we are tested to see if we will have a Godly attitude or not.

Too often, we let our attitudes be determined by what our day is like.  If things go well, we have a great attitude. If things go badly, we have a stinky attitude. Our attitude is a choice.  It is not determined by others.  We should have the same attitude that Jesus had – no matter what!

Q. What determines your attitude?  

Q. Do you normally have a stinky attitude?

Q.  How can you change your attitude?

4. Prayer Focus

Lead your child in a prayer of repentance for having the wrong attitude at times.  Pray that God will help them to choose the right attitude, just as Jesus did.  Pray that with God’s help, they will make the right choice for the right attitude and never ever be a stinkbug.

Called for a Purpose

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Family Devotional Adult 10-15-17

Family Devotional Kids 10-15-17

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Adult & Teen Discussion Guide

1. Primary Statement

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

2. Bible Verse

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

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

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

3. Discussion

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

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

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

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

4. Prayer Focus

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


Family with Small Children Discussion Guide

1. Power Verse

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

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

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

2. Bible Reading

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

1 Samuel 19
Saul Tries to Kill David

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Over in Naioth at Ramah,” they said.

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

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

Psalm 34:1-10

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

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

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

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

Q. Who was trying to kill David?

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

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

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

3. Discussion

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

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

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

4. Prayer Focus

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

God’s Miracles

Posted on Updated on

Family Devotional 8-20-17 AdultsFamily Devotional 8-20-17 Kids

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Adult & Teen Discussion Guide

1. Primary Statement

Miracles aren’t just for “Bible stories.” They’re not just for Bible times, either. God is still an all-powerful, miracle-working God – but we don’t always see that played out in our lives. If we want to see the miraculous power of God in our lives, we need to put ourselves in the position to be used.

2. Bible Verse

Galatians 3:2–5 (ESV) “Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law (deeds, or what you can do) or by hearing with faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh? Did you suffer so many things in vain—if indeed it was in vain? Does he who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you do so by works of the law, or by hearing with faith…”

 

3. Discussion

It takes faith to live a miraculous life – that faith is revealed in…

An understanding of who God is:

Q: How much time have you spent with God on your own this week? Do you think He’s pleased with that, or do you think He wants more?

A submission to Christ’s lordship:

Q: Take an inventory of your lifestyle – what area is the hardest to submit to Christ’s lordship? How does that area look to others?

A willingness to be gracefully bold:

Q: Have you experienced pentecostal services or people who came across as “weird?” Are you ever reluctant to step out in faith because you’re concerned about what you’ll look like to others?

An expectation of God’s deliverance:

Q: Have you ever prayed about something fully expecting the answer to be “no?” What effect do you think that has on God’s response to your request?

4. Prayer Focus

Take a few minutes as a family and thank God for the miraculous way He answers prayers. Ask Him to help you grow in faith so you can be ready to bring that power into your life and the lives of those around you.


Family with Small Children Discussion Guide

1. Power Verse

Ephesians 4:15  …speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ…”

“I Will Speak Up And Say What Is Right!”

This week, we continued our series “Never Too Young.”  The children are learning that they are “Never Too Young” to do amazing things for God.

2. Discussion

In this week’s story a guy named Naaman had a servant girl who helped him.  

We are going to reread it now.  

Read: 2 Kings 5

Now Naaman was commander of the army of the king of Aram. He was a great man in the sight of his master and highly regarded, because through him the Lordhad given victory to Aram. He was a valiant soldier, but he had leprosy.

Now bands of raiders from Aram had gone out and had taken captive a young girl from Israel, and she served Naaman’s wife. She said to her mistress, “If only my master would see the prophet who is in Samaria! He would cure him of his leprosy.”

Naaman went to his master and told him what the girl from Israel had said. “By all means, go,” the king of Aram replied. “I will send a letter to the king of Israel.” So Naaman left, taking with him ten talents[b] of silver, six thousand shekels[c] of gold and ten sets of clothing. The letter that he took to the king of Israel read: “With this letter I am sending my servant Naaman to you so that you may cure him of his leprosy.”

As soon as the king of Israel read the letter, he tore his robes and said, “Am I God? Can I kill and bring back to life? Why does this fellow send someone to me to be cured of his leprosy? See how he is trying to pick a quarrel with me!”

When Elisha the man of God heard that the king of Israel had torn his robes, he sent him this message: “Why have you torn your robes? Have the man come to me and he will know that there is a prophet in Israel.” So Naaman went with his horses and chariots and stopped at the door of Elisha’s house. 10 Elisha sent a messenger to say to him, “Go, wash yourself seven times in the Jordan, and your flesh will be restored and you will be cleansed.”

11 But Naaman went away angry and said, “I thought that he would surely come out to me and stand and call on the name of the Lord his God, wave his hand over the spot and cure me of my leprosy. 12 Are not Abana and Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? Couldn’t I wash in them and be cleansed?” So he turned and went off in a rage.

13 Naaman’s servants went to him and said, “My father, if the prophet had told you to do some great thing, would you not have done it? How much more, then, when he tells you, ‘Wash and be cleansed’!” 14 So he went down and dipped himself in the Jordan seven times, as the man of God had told him, and his flesh was restored and became clean like that of a young boy.

15 Then Naaman and all his attendants went back to the man of God. He stood before him and said, “Now I know that there is no God in all the world except in Israel. So please accept a gift from your servant.”

16 The prophet answered, “As surely as the Lord lives, whom I serve, I will not accept a thing.” And even though Naaman urged him, he refused.

17 “If you will not,” said Naaman, “please let me, your servant, be given as much earth as a pair of mules can carry, for your servant will never again make burnt offerings and sacrifices to any other god but the Lord. 18 But may the Lord forgive your servant for this one thing: When my master enters the temple of Rimmon to bow down and he is leaning on my arm and I have to bow there also—when I bow down in the temple of Rimmon, may the Lord forgive your servant for this.”

19 “Go in peace,” Elisha said.

After Naaman had traveled some distance, 20 Gehazi, the servant of Elisha the man of God, said to himself, “My master was too easy on Naaman, this Aramean, by not accepting from him what he brought. As surely as the Lord lives, I will run after him and get something from him.”

21 So Gehazi hurried after Naaman. When Naaman saw him running toward him, he got down from the chariot to meet him. “Is everything all right?” he asked.

22 “Everything is all right,” Gehazi answered. “My master sent me to say, ‘Two young men from the company of the prophets have just come to me from the hill country of Ephraim. Please give them a talent[d] of silver and two sets of clothing.’”

23 “By all means, take two talents,” said Naaman. He urged Gehazi to accept them, and then tied up the two talents of silver in two bags, with two sets of clothing. He gave them to two of his servants, and they carried them ahead of Gehazi. 24 When Gehazi came to the hill, he took the things from the servants and put them away in the house. He sent the men away and they left.

25 When he went in and stood before his master, Elisha asked him, “Where have you been, Gehazi?”

“Your servant didn’t go anywhere,” Gehazi answered.

26 But Elisha said to him, “Was not my spirit with you when the man got down from his chariot to meet you? Is this the time to take money or to accept clothes—or olive groves and vineyards, or flocks and herds, or male and female slaves?27 Naaman’s leprosy will cling to you and to your descendants forever.” Then Gehazi went from Elisha’s presence and his skin was leprous—it had become as white as snow.

Q. What did the little girl do for Naaman?

Q. Why was this so important?

Q. Would you have been able to do what she did?

It’s easy to think you are too young to speak up for someone or to tell other’s about Jesus, but the world needs to hear what you have to say!

Q. Have you ever gotten a really cool gift for Christmas or your Birthday?  Did you want to keep it to yourself or show it off to others?  

Q. Why do we want to share our special gifts with others?

Q. As Christians, what is something we should want to share with others?  (the story of Jesus)

That’s right, as Christians, it’s our jobs to “Speak Up” and tell other’s about Jesus.  It isn’t always easy, but God wants us to tell others about Him.  We need to share the love of Jesus with those around us!

3. Activity 

As a family, make a chart, list, or poster to write down the names of people, friends, or family members that you can share Jesus with.  Let everyone participate and share during this time.  

4. Prayer Focus

When you are finished, pray for the people on your list and ask God to give each of you courage to tell them about Christ!

Love Your Neighbor

Posted on Updated on

Family Devotional Adult 5-28-17

Family Devotional Kids 5-28-17

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Adult & Teen Discussion Guide

1. Primary Statement

Loving people who love us is easy. Loving those who are different, who dislike us, or who intentionally hurt us, that’s a different story. To love these, though, is to prove that God’s love and grace are at work inside of us.

2. Bible Verse 

Matthew 5:43-45a [NLT] “You have heard the law that says, ‘Love your neighbor’ and hate your enemy. But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven.”

Q. Looking back over your life, who would be some “enemies” on a personal level? Without God’s help, how difficult would it be to love them?

Q. What are a few groups, nationalities, or cultures which seem like enemies to you? (i.e. urban gangs, terrorist organizations, foreign dictators)

Q. What pressures are there from your own group, nationality, and culture to treat these people with hostility?

3. Application

Matthew 5:45b-48 [NLT] “For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and the unjust alike.  If you love only those who love you, what reward is there for that? Even corrupt tax collectors do that much. If you are kind only to your friends, how are you different from anyone else? Even pagans do that. But you are to be perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect.”

Jesus called us to share the good news with everyone, even our enemies. When we remember our own need for God’s grace and forgiveness (things we don’t deserve), we can more easily extend grace and forgiveness to those who are hard to love.

Q. Who is more loved by God: you or the people from the list you made earlier? Who is more in need of God’s grace? Who is more deserving of it?

4. Prayer Focus

Take a few minutes as a family and thank God for extending grace to you. Ask Him to help you love those like the people on your list, and to share the good news with them.


Family with Small Children Discussion Guide

1. Activity

For this devotion, you will need a flashlight or lamp, and a TV or radio. Have your entire family go into the darkest room of your house and then ask them what they see.  Depending on how dark it is, they may or may not be able to see anything.  Hand the flashlight to one of your children (or have someone turn on a lamp or overhead light) and ask them again what they can see.

2. Bible Verse

“The Holy Spirit Will Give Me Power!”

Acts 1:8 “And you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you…”

Then talk about the following questions:

Q. Why couldn’t we see much at first?

Q. Why did turning on the flashlight or lamp help us see better?

Q. What caused the flashlight or lamp to be able to light up? (electricity)

Q. Could you see the electricity? (No, but you could see what the electricity did.)

3. Application & Talking Point

Have your family move into the room where the TV or radio is.  Tell one of your children to turn on the TV or radio.  Listen for a few moments, and then have someone turn it off.

Ask the following questions:

Q. How does the TV or radio work? (Most children and adults won’t be able to answer this question very well, and that’s the point: we don’t really know how they work, we just know that they do.)

Q. What does the TV or radio need in order to work? (electricity)

Explain to your children that the Holy Spirit is kind of like electricity. When we become Christians, it’s like having a power plant in our hearts!  Although we may not fully understand how He does it, the Holy Spirit guides, convicts, comforts, and teaches us.  He also gives us the power we need to do what God asks us to.

4. Prayer Focus

Pray together, thanking God for giving each member of your family the Holy Spirit as a power source in your lives.

How to Keep Work from Sucking the Life Out of You

Posted on Updated on

Family Devotional Adult 5-21-17

Family Devotional Kids 5-21-17

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Adult & Teen Discussion Guide

1. Primary Statement

Work is a blessing from God that can become a boat anchor around your neck if it grows out of balance. Your body and mind were designed for regular intervals of rest – without that, work can suck the life out of you and steal your joy.

2. Bible Verse 

Exodus 20:9-10 [NLT] “You have six days each week for your ordinary work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath day of rest dedicated to the LORD your God. On that day no one in your household may do any work.”

Q. When you have a “day off,” how much rest do you actually get?

Q. Running your life without rest isn’t just stupid – it’s a sin. Do you agree or disagree?

Q. Do you think God is pleased with the way you observe His command to take a break? If not, how can you change your routine?

Ecclesiastes 4:6 [NLT] “Better to have one handful with quietness than two handfuls with hard work and chasing the wind.”

3. Application

Luke 12:15 [ESV] “And he (Jesus) said to them, ‘Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.’”

Q. God warns us to fight against the pursuit of “more.” In which area is “more” most tempting for you? (work, money, success, hobbies, etc.)

Q. What is the thing/activity in your life that is most out-of-balance? What would happen if you did it less or took more frequent breaks from it?

Q. Sometimes we feel like we can’t take a break, because we’re on our own and things depend on us. Who could you call that would be willing to help you from time to time so you could get some rest?

4. Prayer Focus

Take a few minutes as a family and thank God for the good things He’s put in your life. Ask Him to help you keep things in balance and make time to rest.


Family with Small Children Discussion Guide

1. Activity

Prep: Gather some small candies / cereal pieces / marbles / etc. and put them in a bowl. Also get a coloring book and crayons (or notepad and pencil). 

Instructions: Ask your child to grab a handful of items from the bowl and hold them in one hand while coloring/sketching something simple with the other. Then, have them repeat the process, only with two handfuls of items. When they’re finished, compare the quality of the 2 colorings / sketches.

2. Bible Verse

Ecclesiastes 4:6 [NLT] “Better to have one handful with quietness than two handfuls with hard work and chasing the wind.”

God warns us in the Bible about having too much of anything – even something good. Just like it’s hard to color when both of your hands are full, it’s hard to live a healthy life when you’re trying to do too much of everything. Things like schoolwork, sports, cartoons and video games are all great… but we also need to take time to rest. God told adults to take a break from work once a week, and kids need rest, too.

3. Application & Talking Point

 

Q. What’s your favorite thing to spend time doing? Is it a good thing or a bad thing?

Q. If you spent literally (parents, define this word if needed) all your time doing it, what would happen to you? (example: no bathroom break, no food, no sleep).

Q. Even good things can become unhealthy when we do them too much. What’s one thing you need a parent to remind you to take a break from this week?

4. Prayer Focus

Take a few minutes as a family and thank God for the good things He’s put in your life. Ask Him to help you keep things in balance and make time to rest.