Making Life Better

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Family Devotional Adult 9-17-17

Family Devotional Kids 9-17-17

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Adult & Teen Discussion Guide

1. Primary Statement

Everybody’s looking for ways to make life better. From smart phones that translate languages, to cars that help you stay in your lane, to updated nutrition levels, everyone’s trying to improve the quality of their lives. As great as man-made advancements are though, there’s only one way to change life from the inside out – allowing the Holy Spirit to rebuild your character in God’s image. 

2. Bible Verse

John 10:10 [ESV] “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy…”

The “thief” is Satan, and his aim is to destroy you.

If you take an inventory of the world around you, it’s easy to see the effect of sin and the pain it brings. Satan is a real being, who is working to prevent people from experiencing peace with God by providing unfulfilling substitutes. These pursuits may seem good or fun in the moment, but ultimately, they lead people further and further from God.

Q. List a few sources of pain or hardship in your life. Do you believe these sources fit with God’s original design for humanity? 

Q. If not, what influence does Satan – and sin – have on them?

3. Discussion

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

Jesus came to bring the full, vibrant life God always intended for you.  At the core, the one thing every human longs for is peace with God. Satan offers external “fixes,” but they never fill the void. Life with God at the center doesn’t change the outward circumstances – those are part of a sin infected world. Instead, it changes you, and enables you to live in joy and victory regardless of what’s happening around you. 

Q. How do you think a relationship with God might better equip you to handle the sources of pain & hardship you listed above? 

Q. How differently would you view these situations if you didn’t have God’s help?

4. Prayer Focus

Take a few minutes as a family and thank God for the joy, peace, and fulfillment that He has planned for your life. Ask Him to help you share that good news with others, so more people can experience life the way God intended it.

Family with Small Children Discussion Guide

1. Power Verse

Proverbs 13:10  “Pride leads to conflict; those who take advice are wise.”

“I Will Listen and Learn To Take Godly Advice!”

The last few weeks we have been learning about how we are “Never Too Young” to do amazing things for God.  This week we learned a very important lesson on how to “Listen to Godly Advice.”

2. Discussion

Q. What is Godly advice?

Q. Who are some people who can give you Godly advice?

Q. Why do you think it’s sometimes hard to do what other people tell you to do?

It’s easy to want to do things on your own or to think you know what is best for yourself.  However, God places people in your life to help you and guide you in your walk with Him.

Q. Have you ever tried to do something or get somewhere with no directions?

Q. Was it easy or hard to do?

Q. Why do we need directions when we are going somewhere or putting something together?

3. Activity 

We need directions because we can’t always do it on our own!  That is how it is with living our lives for Him.  God doesn’t want us to do it on our own!  He sends parents, teachers, pastors, and friends to help us!  Isn’t that cool that God gives us people to help us in our journey with Him?

Take time with your kids to discuss who these special people are in their lives.  Help or allow your children to write a letter to one of these people thanking them for guiding them and helping them in their walk with Christ.


4. Prayer Focus

Pray that your child will listen and follow the leaders that God has placed in their lives!

Decisions, Decisions

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More so than in several years I have been watching national television news.  It began with the Republican and Democratic national Conventions.  I tuned in to parts of each of these because I wanted to see what each of the presidential candidates had to say and I wanted to see how they would say it.  This then continued with my occasionally watching the national news, which is a new thing for me.

  • On top of the political season, which is upon us,
  • We are in the midst of many very important decisions here at the church.
  • I leave Thursday to move my mother to Alton.
  • I’m finishing up building my wife a new kitchen/dining room.
  • And my son-in-law just enlisted in the Marine Corp.

It strikes me that perhaps I am in a season of life where I could use a little extra wisdom!

Have you ever felt that way?  It feels to me that right now, every day offers the awesome potential to make a real difference in the lives of people, but only if I choose wisely.  I have prayed for years that the Lord would use me to change the world and I’m beginning to see that come to pass, but I didn’t realize when I prayed that with the possibility of great success comes the possibility for great failure and many of the decisions are simply more than my intellect can handle.

Therefore, my new daily routine includes the second chapter of Proverbs.

Read along with me…

Proverbs 2 (NIV84)

1 My son, if you accept my words and store up my commands within you, 2 turning your ear to wisdom and applying your heart to understanding, 3 and if you call out for insight and cry aloud for understanding, 4 and if you look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure, 5 then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God. 6 For the Lord gives wisdom, and from his mouth come knowledge and understanding. 7 He holds victory in store for the upright, he is a shield to those whose walk is blameless, 8 for he guards the course of the just and protects the way of his faithful ones. 9 Then you will understand what is right and just and fair—every good path. 10 For wisdom will enter your heart, and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul. 11 Discretion will protect you, and understanding will guard you. 12 Wisdom will save you from the ways of wicked men, from men whose words are perverse, 13 who leave the straight paths to walk in dark ways, 14 who delight in doing wrong and rejoice in the perverseness of evil, 15 whose paths are crooked and who are devious in their ways. 16 It will save you also from the adulteress, from the wayward wife with her seductive words, 17 who has left the partner of her youth and ignored the covenant she made before God. 18 For her house leads down to death and her paths to the spirits of the dead. 19 None who go to her return or attain the paths of life. 20 Thus you will walk in the ways of good men and keep to the paths of the righteous. 21 For the upright will live in the land, and the blameless will remain in it; 22 but the wicked will be cut off from the land, and the unfaithful will be torn from it.

I especially love a couple of verses.

Verse 5 “then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God.”

Verses 7 & 8 “He holds victory in store for the upright, he is a shield to those whose walk is blameless, for he guards the course of the just and protects the way of his faithful ones.”

Nothing could be more valuable than “the knowledge of God”, and what could be a better insurer of success than God guarding your course and protecting you as one of his faithful ones?

In these days of great decisions I for one am going to lean as fully as ever before on the Word of God and the Holy Spirit for guidance.  I know that I am insufficient for the tasks before me, but with equal confidence I know that he is more than enough.

Proverbs 3: 5 says

5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; 6 in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.  (NIV84)

Today I am trusting that this will be my greatest determinate of success!


God Inspired Idea

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Today I we saw a phenomenal example of what a single God-given idea can do.  The house in this picture is the headquarters of a ministry that you can find at www.jesus.net and it was an idea birthed through a new friend of mine named Eric.

In 1999 the internet was just beginning to take hold here in Europe and God placed an idea in the heart of Eric to use the internet to reach out to people across the world for Jesus.  At that time there was not a single church-based site on the whole of the net.  It seems to us as if the internet has always been around but really it had just begun in 1999 as it had only been released for commercial use in 1995.  Anyway, Eric had this idea to build a site where people could learn about Jesus and find discipleship ideas that could help them in their growing faith.  That initial website was in French and had the name “top Christian” or “cool Christian” (English translations of the French name) and it was pretty much just Eric working from the church he was pastoring. 

A lot of people thought that Eric was wasting his time trying to use this new technology for the Kingdom of God and as such support was almost non-existent.  But this was a God idea, and miracles always follow God-given ideas.  Today, 12 years later, that initial website is now offered in 23 languages and if you go to the site you can watch in real time as people from all around the world indicate that they have made a decision to follow Christ. 

What can a God idea do?

Since it’s release 2.5 million people have indicated that they decided to follow Christ because of the website!   That’s what a God idea can do and He’s got more of them!  I believe He’s got one for you!


Birthday Wisdom

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Well today is my birthday.  I’m 47 years old today.  There are a couple of things that amaze me about birthdays.  First, how quickly they come and go.  It seems like only yesterday that I was thinking how old 30 year old people are!  I remember when my friend’s grandparents were around the age that I am now!  You know… ancient!!

Second, it amazes me how some people make a really big deal about people not knowing how old they are.  They reach a certain number of years and then they just stop changing the number they are 39 for the rest of their lives.  What is it that they are afraid of or avoiding? 

I love what a friend of mine Ron Calaway-Haebeck sent me on a Facebook message this morning.  He said that it’s been proven that birthdays are good for you.  People who have more of them live longer!  The Bible says…

Wisdom is with the aged, and understanding with length of days. Job12:12

It is almost a daily thing that I ask the Lord to give me both wisdom and understanding to both serve him and lead the church better.  When I pray that prayer I almost always have some sort of divine impartation in mind.  You know that God will pour something out of heaven that will land on my head and give me supernatural wisdom and understanding that will equip me to overcome every difficulty that presents itself.  I really wasn’t thinking that He would allow me to get old and along the way both wisdom and understanding would grow in me through the struggles and learning of a long life.  However, that’s exactly the process that the Lord uses over and over in the lives of His people.

So, how should we see the passing years?  As opportunities to grow into the people God intends that we should be.  Do our bodies get slower and weaker?  Yes, but at the same time our spirits can get faster and stronger!  And that is a great birthday possibility!