Effort

Pentecost Sunday

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“Pentecost Sunday” isn’t just about speaking in unknown languages. It’s a long-standing tradition, prescribed by God; a time to give to Him and celebrate all He’s given to us.

1. Read

Deuteronomy 26:10-11 [ESV]“And you shall set [your gift] down before the Lord your God and worship before the Lord your God. And you shall rejoice in all the good that the Lord your God has given to you and to your house.”

The festival God instructed the Israelites to celebrate was set up to coincide with the first harvest of the season. It’s a time to give the first and best to God. In 2019, your first and best is probably not wheat or grapes, but the dynamic is the same. We thank God by giving the first fruits.

  • The “tithe” is a gift for God – the first 10% of all you earn/produce. Is the tithe part of your budget? Do you give it occasionally? If not, why not?
  • When you look at giving as a time to remember God’s blessing and foster gratitude, how does that affect the way you feel about tithe? 

2. Challenge

Romans 8:23 [ESV] “…we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies…”

In a beautifully-arranged set-up, it was on the day of Pentecost that God gave joyfully to us. He sent the Holy Spirit in an infilling, empowering way — the down-payment on an eternity of connection between God and His people. 

  • When God gave the Holy Spirit to us, He gave the very best. How does that make you want to respond? 
  •  Imagine trying to follow God’s way of living and accomplish His plans for your life without the Holy Spirit’s help. What would be harder? 
  • How would your impact on the spiritually lost around you be different? 

3. Prayer Focus

When you talk to God today, thank Him for the amazing gift of the Holy Spirit – not only around you, but in you and empowering you. Ask Him to develop gratitude in your heart, and to help you respond to His kindness by giving Him your first and best with joy.


Family with Small Children Discussion Guide

“Honored & Blessed”

1. Power Verse

Psalm 23:5 “You prepare a feast for me in the presence of my enemies. You honor me by anointing my head with oil. My cup overflows with blessings.”

What’s Up: “I Am Blessed ‘Cause I Belong To The Lord!”

“The Lord is My Shepherd” continues to teach us important truths about God as our Shepherd. As sheep, when we follow the Lord, we are promised in Psalm 23:5 we will be honored and blessed.

2. Read

Psalm 23:5 “You prepare a feast for me in the presence of my enemies. You honor me by anointing my head with oil. My cup overflows with blessings.”

  • What does verse 5 of Psalm 23 say? (If your kids can’t read, then read it aloud to them again and give them an opportunity to explain it to you.)
  • What do you think David meant when he said “you anoint my head with oil?”

3. Discussion

Some times it can be hard for us to understand what a verse from the Bible is saying, but when we take time to figure out what it means, we can learn a lot about God our Shepherd. When David said “you anoint my head with oil” it was a way of saying we are God’s chosen people- we belong to Him!

 

  • How does that make you feel to know you belong to God?
  • Does that help you understand how God can protect you from your enemies?
  • What type of enemies do you need God to help protect you from?

4. Prayer Focus

Pray together as a family that your family will feel blessed and protected by our Good Shepherd.

The Connection

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Baptism is more than a rite of passage. Communion is more than a mid-church snack; dedicating your children is more than a protestant placeholder for christening. Each of these is a powerful way to shout the story of the gospel to the world, but you need to have lived that story first. 

1. Read

1 Corinthians 1:26 [ESV] “For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.”

  • The things we do on New Life Sunday are meant to be a proclamation – a platform where the God-change in your life can be on display to everyone around you.
  • Have you been baptized in water? If so, when did it happen?
  • Who else was there? If you haven’t been baptized, why not?
  • Honesty time! Before this week’s lesson, did you think of communion as a way to proclaim the gospel, or was it just of a way to remember it personally?
  • When you consider it that way, how does it change the way you approach it mentally?

2. Challenge

1 Peter 3:15 [ESV] “…always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect…”

In order to proclaim something, you need to have seen it – lived it – yourself. None of us were literally at the crucifixion of Jesus, but when we stay connected to God’s truth, the “story” becomes real in our spirit, and our proclamation gains credibility and power.

  • When did Jesus’ sacrifice for you first become real in your spirit? How did that affect you emotionally? How did it affect your lifestyle? 
  • Since that time, have those feelings deepened or lessened?
  • Do your words, actions and attitudes enhance the gospel message, or contradict it? 
  • How much of an impact do you think that has on the proclamation the Holy Spirit can make through symbols like baptism and communion? 

3. Prayer Focus

Take a few minutes to replay the sequence of events leading to Jesus’ crucifixion in your mind. See it. Smell it. Feel it. Ask the Holy Spirit to make the truth of the gospel vividly tangible in your spirit, so you can be a more effective witness to a lost world.


Family with Small Children Discussion Guide

“Walking Through The Valley”

1. Power Verse

Psalm 23:4 “Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me. Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me.”

What’s Up: “I Have NO Fear ‘Cause God Is Near!”

This week we talked about one of the most difficult parts of Psalm 23 – “walking through the valley.”

2. Read

Psalm 23:4“Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me. Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me.”

  • Have you ever been afraid?
  • What are some things that you are afraid of or that make you scared?(Be sensitive to your kids during this time- give them an opportunity to share some of the real deep things they may be scared of, also be open to sharing some of your own with them.)
  • Do you think God wants you to be scared?

God doesn’t want us to be scared or afraid, rather He wants to comfort and protect us. This scripture says that no matter what we face or where we go, God is “close beside me.”

3. Discussion

  • What do you think that means “God is close beside me?”
  • How does that make you feel to know that God is always with you?

You are never alone. God is always with you. When you are scared, or afraid, or don’t know what to do, all you have to do is whisper Jesus’ name. He is right there with you to help you and take care of you.

4. Prayer Focus

Pray that your children will be reminded that God is always with them and that His rod and staff will continue to protect and comfort them. Also, if time allows, pray for the various things they shared that they are scared of, that they will turn those over to Jesus and trust that He will protect and keep them safe.

Happiness=Great Relationships

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Humans are designed with a need for intimacy. Just like your body needs food, water and sleep, you need intimate human relationships to be fully functional and fulfilled.

1. Read

Genesis 2:18 [NLT] “Then the LORD God said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper who is just right for him.”’

You’re not complete by yourself. God made you that way. Even though Adam was fully connected to God, he still needed human interaction by design. As a result, isolation is bad for your body and your mind.

  • Think of a time in your life when you felt isolated (maybe after a major life change, or in a transitional age or season). How did it affect you physically and emotionally?
  • On a scale of 1-10, how emotionally connected do you feel right now? Is that number higher or lower now than it used to be? Why do you think that is?

2. Challenge

James 5:16 [NLT] “Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.”

Church is by nature a relational thing. God’s design is set up to help fill your need for intimacy. When you invest the time and energy, and risk being vulnerable and honest with someone, you gain the reward of a deep relationship… and so do they.

  • Who is the person (or persons) in your life you can be most transparent with?
  • If you suddenly gained another few close relationships, how would that affect your life? How would it affect the lives of those new friends?
  • Intimacy is something you initiate. What steps could you take this week to start to build the kind of deep relationships you have a designed need for?

3. Prayer Focus

Take a few minutes to pray, and thank God for the intimate relationships that have been a part of your life so far. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you build deep, meaningful friendships with people – not only for your benefit, but for theirs.


Family with Small Children Discussion Guide

New Strength

1. Power Verse

Psalm 23:3 “He renews my strength. He guides me along right paths, bringing honor to his name.”

What’s Up: “When I Am Weak, God Makes Me Strong!” This week we continue our series looking at the 23rd Psalm. We will be reminded that when we are weak, God will renew our strength!

2. Read

Mark 2:1-12 When Jesus returned… the news spread quickly that he was back home. Soon the house where he was staying was so packed with visitors that there was no more room. While he was preaching God’s word to them, four men arrived carrying a paralyzed man on a mat. They couldn’t bring him to Jesus because of the crowd, so they dug a hole through the roof above his head. Then they lowered the man on his mat, right down in front of Jesus. Seeing their faith, Jesus said to the paralyzed man, “My child, your sins are forgiven.” But some of the teachers of religious law who were sitting there thought to themselves, “What is he saying? This is blasphemy! Only God can forgive sins!” Jesus knew immediately what they were thinking, so he asked them, “Why do you question this in your hearts? Is it easier to say to the paralyzed man ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or ‘Stand up, pick up your mat, and walk’?  So I will prove to you that the Son of Man has the authority on earth to forgive sins.” Then Jesus turned to the paralyzed man and said, “Stand up, pick up your mat, and go home!” And the man jumped up, grabbed his mat, and walked out through the stunned onlookers. They were all amazed and praised God, exclaiming, “We’ve never seen anything like this before!”

3. Discussion

  • What was wrong with the man in the story?
  • What did His friends do for him?
  • What did Jesus do for this man?

Jesus healed the man in the story. He knew he was paralyzed and weak and Jesus made Him strong again. In the same way, when we are weak, God can make us strong.

  • Have you ever felt weak or worn out? 
  • What types of things have you worn out, right now?
  • What do you think God wants to do for you when you feel this way?

God wants to give you strength and help you so you can do more for Him and bring honor to His name. He doesn’t want you to struggle and be stressed. He wants you to be strong!

4. Prayer Focus

“He renews my strength. He guides me along right paths, bringing honor to his name.” – Psalm 23:3 

Pray for each member of your family that they will have renewed strength so they can bring honor to His name!

Happiness=Doing Your Best

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When asked what they do for fun, not many people list “working really hard.” The truth is, part of the God-character in us as Christians is a robust work ethic – giving whatever we do 100% effort. When we do that consistently, God will reward us.

1. Read

Colossians 3:17 [ESV] “And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus…”

It’s easy to think of Christianity as a part of your life – even a big part – but God wants His character to overlay everything we do. If you really want to live the God-life, you have to go all-in.

  • Think back through your day (or yesterday) and list 6-8 things that you did. (They can be big things, or simple, everyday things.)
  •  For each of those things, how might they be influenced by this overlay of God’s way of living? 
  • Were your decisions influenced at all by your relationship with God?

2. Challenge

Colossians 3:23-24 [ESV] Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward.”

When you give half-effort on a project or assignment, it’s not just a bad reflection on you, it’s an insult to your true boss – GOD. He has great happiness and rewards for those who give their best effort.

  • What’s a hobby, chore, or job that it’s easy for you to give 100% effort on?
  • What’s one that you have a hard time giving effort and attention to?
  • Does God care more about the effort you put on some activities than He does on others? 
  • If not, how does that affect the way you feel about things you typically give half-effort to?

3. Prayer Focus

When you talk to God today, thank Jesus for going all the way through 33 years on this planet, and not doing the cross halfway. Bring up those things that you struggle to give effort on, and ask the Holy Spirit to help you give 100% on them this week.


Family with Small Children Discussion Guide

Resting In God

1. Power Verse

Psalm 23:2 “He lets me rest in green meadows; he leads me beside peaceful streams.”

What’s Up: “I Won’t Be Stressed, ‘Cause God Gives Me Rest!”

This week are continuing in the series “The Good Shepherd.” We learned how God is the Shepherd who brings us peace and rest. Practice reading the Psalms 23 together- focus on Psalms 23:2 after you have read the whole chapter.

2. Read

Psalm 23 “The Lord is my shepherd; I have all that I need. He lets me rest in green meadows; he leads me beside peaceful streams. He renews my strength. He guides me along right paths, bringing honor to his name. Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me. Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me. You prepare a feast for me  in the presence of my enemies. You honor me by anointing my head with oil. My cup overflows with blessings. Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life,and I will live in the house of the Lord forever.”

  • Do you think God cares about us and wants us to stress and worry all the time?
  • What do you think David was trying to teach us in verse two of this Psalm?

That’s right! God wants to teach us to rest in Him! He doesn’t want us to be stressed about school, and sports, and friends, and everything else that can get us down and discouraged- He wants us to learn to come to Him and find Peace and Rest. Let’s look at a famous story from the Bible that we can use to learn this lesson from.

3. Discussion

Luke 10:38-42 (The story of Mary and Martha)“As Jesus and the disciples… came to a certain village where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. Her sister, Mary, sat at the Lord’s feet, listening to what he taught. But Martha was distracted by the big dinner she was preparing. She came to Jesus and said, “Lord, doesn’t it seem unfair to you that my sister just sits here while I do all the work? Tell her to come and help me.” But the Lord said to her, “My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details!There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary hasdiscovered it, and it will not be taken away from her.”

  • What was Martha doing in the story? 
  • What was Mary doing in the story? 
  • Who do you think was doing the “right” thing or the “better” thing?

Some times it isn’t about getting everything done, or being busy, but it’s about simply taking time to be with Jesus! Mary knew that being with Jesus was the best way to rest and find peace in her life. It’s the same way for us- when we are stressed, or worried, or tired, we should go to Jesus to find rest.

4. Prayer Focus

Take time as a family to sit and spend time with Jesus. Pray as a family and sit in His presence. REST together in Him.