Generosity

Happiness=Serving Others

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Jesus said, “the greatest among you will be your servant.” We’re called to serve and meet the needs of others… which can be a counterintuitive, counter-cultural thing, at times. When we do, though, we not only make God happy – we find happiness ourselves.

1. Read

Romans 12:13 [ESV] “I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment…”

Being a servant to others begins with an accurate understanding of where your position is. As long as you see yourself as more important than others, you’ll never be able to spend yourself to meet their needs.

  • Name 2 or 3 of the most selfless-giving people you’ve known. From what you can tell, do/did they serve out of obligation, or did they just value others more than themselves?
  • How did their selflessness benefit you?
  • If a poll were taken of 100 people close to you, how would they rate your view of your own importance? 
  • Would they label you as selfless, selfish, or somewhere in between?

2. Challenge

1 Peter 5:6 [ESV]“Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you.”

If you puff yourself up full of self-importance, God will have to spend time bringing you back down to earth. If you live humble, though, and serve others, God will raise you up and bring you honor and fulfillment.

  • It’s easy to serve kind, selfless people, but not everyone in life falls into that category. Who are the people in your life who are the hardest to serve? 
  • Why do you think that is? 
  • Does that change God’s expectation of you?
  • Think of a time when you willingly gave time, energy, attention, or money to serve others. How fulfilled did you feel afterward? 
  • Did that act increase or deflate your happiness?

3. Prayer Focus

Take a few minutes to thank Jesus for setting the example of selfless service. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you keep the right view of yourself, so you can invest your life in serving others.


Family with Small Children Discussion Guide

The Good Shepherd

1. Power Verse

Psalm 23:1 “The Lord is my shepherd; I have all that I need.”

What’s Up: “I Will Follow The Lord, ‘Cause He’s My Shepherd!”

This week we started a new series “The Good Shepherd.” We will spend the next few weeks learning how God is the Shepherd who longs to take care of His sheep – Us!

2. Read

Luke 15:1-7 “Then Jesus told them a story.  He said, ‘Suppose one of you has 100 sheep and loses one of them. Won’t he leave the 99 in the open country? Won’t he go and look for the one lost sheep until he finds it?  When he finds it, he will joyfully put it on his shoulders and go home. Then he will call his friends and neighbors together. He will say, ‘Be joyful with me. I have found my lost sheep.’  I tell you, it will be the same in heaven. There will be great joy when one sinner turns away from sin. Yes, there will be more joy than for 99 godly people who do not need to turn away from their sins.”

  • How many sheep were there in the story? What happened to one of the sheep?
  • What did the shepherd do for the one sheep that was missing?
  • Who/What does the sheep represent?

3. Discussion

In our Bible Story, one sheep was missing. The shepherd left 99 of his sheep to go find the one that was lost. We learn from this story that God, our shepherd, will do whatever it takes to find one of his sheep (us!) that is lost or missing. 

  • What do you think it means for a person to be lost or missing? 
  • Why do you think God cares so much about one person who is missing?

That’s Right! God loves us so much, He will do whatever it takes to be in relationship with us. And when we are in relationship with Him, He will do whatever He can to take care of us and meet our needs. He is “The Good Shepherd” who wants to take care of us. He loves us and wants us to have everything we need!!!

4. Prayer Focus

Pray for the members of your family that they will be in right relationship with God. Give each child an opportunity to respond to an opportunity to accept Him. Also, give each child a chance to share a need that maybe they need God to meet as their “Good Shepherd.”

Happiness=Generosity

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Finding happiness in generosity sounds like a contradictory statement – after all, accumulating stuff makes you feel happy, right? Well, in God’s economy, the more you give, the more you’re blessed, and the happiness that comes from giving is way beyond what comes from getting.

1. Read

Luke 6:38 [ESV] “Give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.”

No matter how generous you are, God will always outdo you in the giving department. The blessings may not come to you in dollars, but they’re always abundant.

  • Think of a time when your generosity met someone else’s need.
  • How did it make you feel?
  • What impact did it have on your outlook on life?
  • Giving money is just one way to be generous. What are other ways you can show generosity to others?

2. Challenge

Matthew 6:33 [ESV] “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”

When you receive, it’s a good day for you, but when you give, you’re advancing God’s kingdom – not only in yourself, but in others. People see God’s love and generous heart through your actions, and those qualities point hearts toward Him.

  • Which area in your life is it hardest to be generous in?
  • Any time you say “no” to yourself and “yes” to God, you’re advancing His kingdom (His rulership) in your heart. How has generosity deepened your submission to God’s rule? What can you expect to gain in return for putting His requests ahead of your own interests?

3. Prayer Focus

When you talk to God this week, remember to thank Him for being so generous with you. Ask Him to meet your needs in proportion to the way you meet the needs of others… and then go be as generous as you can!


Family with Small Children Discussion Guide

Should I Be baptized?

1. Power Verse

Acts 2:38 “…Repent and be baptized, every one of you…”

What’s Up: “Baptism Is A Picture Of What God’s Done For Me!”

2. Activity

On a piece of paper, draw some of the following logos or symbols you think your kids will recognize: McDonalds, Target, Superman, Batman, Nike, and Shell Gas. You can also Google “common logos” and let them look at some of the pictures. Ask them to identify each of the logos. Then discuss the following questions: 

  • What do the people who make these signs want you to do when you see one of their symbols? (Help your kids understand that the logos are supposed to make you think about what they represent.)
  • Are the symbols actually the product they represent? For example, is the McDonald logo a real hamburger, or is the Nike swoosh a real shoe?

3. Discussion

Explain to your kids that baptism is a symbol, too, just like the symbols you looked at. Tell them that going into the water symbolizes dying, being under the water symbolizes being buried, and coming out of the water represents being raised from the dead, just like Jesus did. Remind them that Jesus was baptized, too.

  • Why did Jesus get baptized? (To lead us by example.)
  • Why should you get baptized? (It symbolizes to others that you’re following Jesus’ example.)
  • Does getting baptized save you or cause your sins to be forgiven?
  • How do you get saved, if baptism doesn’t save you?

If your kids haven’t been baptized, talk to them about whether they’ve asked Jesus to forgive their sins. If they have, ask them if they’re ready to be baptized. If they haven’t, talk to them more about why it’s important to ask Jesus to save them.

4. Prayer Focus

If your kids have been baptized, talk about the experience. Ask them how they felt and what it meant to them. Finish by praying together.

Path of Salvation

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The path Jesus took to secure salvation for the world was a costly, painful, difficult one. And yet, it wasn’t “plan B.” God knew from the beginning what it would cost to redeem humanity, and He made us anyway.

1. Read

Revelation 13:8 [NKJV] “All who dwell on the earth will worship (the beast), whose names have not been written in the Book of Life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.

It’s hard to understand God’s ability to see everything from all time – all at once – but He does. He knew from creation that we would need a Savior, and Jesus has always been the plan.

  • Which do you think was tougher for God at the beginning – knowing that your prized creation would need you to save them, or knowing that even with all your efforts, some would still choose to reject you?
  • If God knew humans would sin, did they really have a choice, or were they predetermined to fail? Talk over the different angles… then be thankful that God understands things beyond what our logical brainscan handle.

2. Challenge

Colossians 1:16-17 [NASB95] “…all things have been created through Him (Jesus) and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.”

Not only did Jesus know He’d have to save us… but He was the one who created the materials for the tools used to crucify Him. He even knew when He was doing it, they’d be used that way. They were made for Him! There was a level of determination and intentionality through that creation that could only be motivated by unbelievable love.

  • When you consider Jesus as not only Savior, but Creator, how does that change the way you feel about the crucifixion? 
  • How does it affect the way you see His love for you?

3. Prayer Focus

Praise God for being victorious over death, and for His great love, which is more than any human could give. Thank Him for loving you enough to plan for your salvation.


Family with Small Children Discussion Guide

Surprise!

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: “Don’t Be Surprised, Jesus Is ALIVE!”

Jesus took the world by SURPRISE when he showed up on the scene 2,000 years ago. Never before had the world seen such power, love, and holiness. But that was just the beginning of Jesus’ SURPRISES! In today’s lesson, we learn of Jesus’ biggest SURPRISE of ALL!

2. Activity

(Get cupcakes or a small cake to eat while you and your child have this discussion.)

  • Have you been to asurprise party before?
  • Why is it called asurprise party? (i.e. the person didn’t know it was going to happen)

Jesus’ disciples were SURPRISED when Jesus was crucified and died on the cross. They expected Jesus to overthrow the Roman government so that He could be saved. Instead, He was in the grave.

But nothing could equal the SURPRISE that the world experienced the very first Easter Sunday morning. The tomb was empty, and Jesus was alive!

3. Discussion

  • Do you think Jesus was surprised that He was alive?

Jesus knew exactly what was going to happen! He wasn’t surprised at all. In fact, He did it all on purpose! He died and rose again so that you and I could be forgiven for our sins. All we have to do is ask for His forgiveness!

4. Prayer Focus

Pray for your child if they want to receive Jesus as their Savior. Lead them in a prayer to receive forgiveness of their sin.

The Kingdom of God

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Jesus talked a lot about God’s “Kingdom.” Over 100 times in the gospels He mentions it, trying to explain it to people whose minds were stuck on a physical kingdom. God’s kingdom isn’t a place, it’s a state of being, where He’s the boss.

1. Read

Luke 17:20-21 [MSG] “Jesus, grilled by the Pharisees on when the kingdom of God would come, answered, ‘The kingdom of God doesn’t come by counting the days on the calendar. Nor when someone says, ‘Look here!’ or, ‘There it is!’ And why? Because God’s kingdom is already among you.”

What the pharisees couldn’t understand was that you don’t enter God’s kingdom by being born somewhere, or traveling somewhere, or waiting for some new political leader. You enter it by submitting to God’s leadership – serving Him as King.

  • Before this week’s lesson, did you think of the “Kingdom of God” as a place (like heaven), or a state of being?
  • Are there people you know who believe in God, but don’t submit to His leadership?
  • Are they in the kingdom, or not?

2. Challenge

Matthew 13:47-50 [NLT] “Again, the Kingdom of Heaven is like a fishing net that was thrown into the water and caught fish of every kind. When the net was full, they dragged it up onto the shore, sat down, and sorted the good fish into crates, but threw the bad ones away. That is the way it will be at the end of the world. The angels will come and separate the wicked people from the righteous, throwing the wicked into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

Kingdom citizenship is required to enter heaven. We have to show people the way, so they don’t wind up in that fiery furnace!

  • Who are the people in your life who need to enter God’s kingdom? Make a to-do list for this week: what can you do to point them toward Him?

3. Prayer Focus

Take some time to reaffirm your submission to God’s leadership. Ask the Holy Spirit to use your life as an inspiration to spiritually lost people around you, pointing them to Him.


Family with Small Children Discussion Guide

Buried Treasure

1. Power Verse

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

What’s Up: “I’m Gonna Store Up Treasure In Heaven!”

This week, we finish our series called, “Living Large.” In this series, we’ve been learning how to handle our money and possessions God’s way.

2. Read

2 Corinthians 8:1-4 “Brothers and sisters, we want you to know about the grace that God has given to the churches in Macedonia.  They have suffered a great deal. But in their suffering, their joy was more than full. Even though they were very poor, they gave very freely.  I tell you that they gave as much as they could. In fact, they gave even more than they could. Completely on their own, they begged us for the chance to share in serving the Lord’s people in that way.”

3. Discussion

  • Why do you think the Macedonian churches wanted so badly to give?
  • How is it possible to give beyond your ability?
  • What does it mean to sacrifice?
  • Have you and your family given sacrificially in the past? If so, how did you feel about it?

Talk to your kids honestly about some of the ways you sacrifice for them, particularly how you sometimes give up things you want or need so that they can have things they want or need. Tell them that you willingly give up these things because you love them and it brings you joy to be able to give to them.

Then tell your kids that this week, as a family, you’re going to practice intentional sacrifice—you’re going to give up something your family wants or needs and give that item or the money you would have used to buy that item to someone else. Brainstorm for a few minutes to think of things your family enjoys or uses frequently. A few suggestions are certain foods, renting movies, eating out, etc.

Then discuss what you want to do with the money you saved. Do you want to buy some groceries or a gift card to a restaurant for another family, put gas in someone else’s car, or put the money in the offering at church? Whatever you decide to do, do it together as a family. Even if you can afford it, don’t buy the item for yourself—go the entire week without it.

4. Prayer Focus

Thank God for not only supplying everything you need, but for giving you the chance to supply someone else with what they need.

Mother’s Influence

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Family Devotional Adult 5-14-17

Family Devotional Kids 5-14-17

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Adult & Teen Discussion Guide

1. Primary Statement

Of all the sources of God’s wisdom and guidance we have, one of the greatest is the influence of our parents. Much of your character today was shaped by the way your parents lived in front of you. How important it is then, to make sure that we’re providing a good example for the next generation.

2. Bible Verse 

Athaliah had a bad influence… which produced bad consequences.

(2 Chronicles 22:3–4, NLT) “Ahaziah also followed the evil example of King Ahab’s family, for his mother (Athaliah) encouraged him in doing wrong. He did what was evil in the Lord’s sight, just as Ahab’s family had done. They even became his advisers after the death of his father, and they led him to ruin.” 

Eunice had a good influence… which produced a great legacy.

(2 Timothy 1:3–5, NLT)“Timothy, I thank God for you… I remember your genuine faith, for you share the faith that first filled your grandmother Lois and your mother, Eunice. And I know that same faith continues strong in you.” 

3. Application

The success Timothy had in ministry was in many ways attributable to the character his mother and grandmother built in him. Even if children don’t seem to be listening to your instruction, be sure that they are greatly influenced by your presence in their life.

Q. What influences the next generation more, what you teach, or how you live?

Q. What are some ways that you’re actively building Godly character in the next generation?

Q. What are some areas where your life choices may be sending the wrong message to someone who’s watching you? What can you do this week to change that?

4. Prayer Focus

Take a few minutes as a family and thank God for those who raised you. Then ask Him to help you live and teach in a way that builds the right kind of character for future generations.


Family with Small Children Discussion Guide

1. Activity

Gather some small candies / cereal pieces / crackers and give them to your child. Take 2 pieces of paper – on one, right “school,” and on another write “mom (or dad/grandma/etc).” Ask your child the following questions, and have them answer by placing food items on either paper. At the end, see whose stack/pile is the largest.

Q: Where did you learn to count? Where did you learn how to hug? Who taught you to spell? Who taught you to share? Where did you learn about planets? Where did you learn about table manners? 

(Add your own questions, if you’d like to.)

2. Bible Verse

Luke 19:10 (ERV) “Follow my example, just as I follow the example of Christ.”

Proverbs 1:8-9 (ERV) “My son (or daughter), listen to your father when he corrects you, and don’t ignore what your mother teaches you. What you learn from your parents will bring you honor and respect, like a crown or a gold medal.”

3. Application & Talking Point

You can learn a lot of things from a lot of different places and people, but the ones who have the biggest impact on who you are as a person are your parents (or grandparents/etc, based on your situation).  God put parents in your life so that you can learn about how to treat other people, how to make wise choices, and how to make God happy with your life. Listen to your parents! Let them help you become the best “you” you can be.

Q. What are some of the people and places you learn things from?

Q. What’s the best thing your parents ever taught you?

Q. What’s something you want to teach if you have kids of your own someday?

4. Prayer Focus

Take a few minutes as a family and thank God for those who raised you. Then ask Him to help you live and teach in a way that builds the right kind of character for future generations.

Tell the Whole World

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Family Devotional Adult 5-7-17

Family Devotional Kids 5-7-17


Adult & Teen Discussion Guide

1. Primary Statement

40% of the people in our world have never been reached with the gospel. Nearly 20% don’t have the access or ability to read the Bible in a language they understand. While we’re blessed with an abundance of knowledge in America, the need around the world is still great. That’s why missions giving is so important!

2. Bible Verse 

Luke 19:1–10 (ESV) “He entered Jericho and was passing through. And behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus. He was a chief tax collector and was rich. And he was seeking to see who Jesus was, but on account of the crowd he could not, because he was small in stature. So he ran on ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see him, for he was about to pass that way. And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, ‘Zacchaeus, hurry and come down, for I must stay at your house today.’ So he hurried and came down and received him joyfully. And when they saw it, they all grumbled, ‘He has gone in to be the guest of a man who is a sinner.’ And Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, ‘Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor. And if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I restore it fourfold.’ And Jesus said to him, ‘Today salvation has come to this house, since he also is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.’”

 

3. Application

Q. Which is a more important group to reach – the lost in unreached countries, or the lost across the street? Can we do both effectively?

Q. How difficult would it be to grow in your faith if all English-translation Bibles suddenly disappeared?

Q. Is there an item, activity, or subscription in your everyday life that you could give up for a season to support missions? How much of a difference would it make in the life of someone in an unreached people group? How much of a difference would it make in you?

4. Prayer Focus

Take a few minutes as a family and thank God for sending someone into your lives to tell you the good news. Then ask Him to help you share that news with the lost by telling them and sending missionaries to them.


Family with Small Children Discussion Guide

1. Activity

Gather 20 M&M’s, Skittle candies, or pennies. Have the kids help you separate out 8 of them (that is 40%) and set aside. Explain to your kid(s) that 40% of the world’s population has never even heard of Jesus. Take the 40% group and divide in half (to make 4 candies). 

Explain that nearly 20% of the world’s population doesn’t have the access or education to be able to read the Bible in a language they understand. 

Throw the 40% group of 8 candies/ pennies in the trash. Without the good news about Jesus, those people are lost.

2. Bible Verse

Luke 19:10 (ERV) “The Son of Man (that’s Jesus!) came to find lost people and save them.”

Romans 10:14 (ERV) “But before people can pray to the Lord for help, they must believe in him. And before they can believe in the Lord, they must hear about him. And for anyone to hear about the Lord, someone must tell them.”

3. Application & Talking Point

Q. How did it make you feel when we threw away the candy (or pennies)? How do you think God feels when a person He loves dies without ever hearing about Him?

Did you know that there are over 7.5 billion people in the world?

That’s enough M&M’s to fill 175 swimming pools (100 pools with pennies)! The reason adults give to missionaries and kids work so hard to raise money for BGMC is so we can help send people to tell that lost 40% that God loves them and Jesus died for their sins. Telling people the good news about God’s love was Jesus’ most important mission, and it should be our most important one, too!

Q. What’s something you can do (maybe with a parent’s help) to help raise money for BGMC (Boys & Girls Missionary Challenge) this week? 

 

4. Prayer Focus

Take a few minutes as a family and thank God for sending someone into your lives to tell you the good news. Then ask Him to help you share that news with the lost by telling them and sending missionaries to them.

Family Devotional 5-7-17 pdf download

How to Make Your Boss Happy

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Family Devotional Adults 4-30-17

Family Devotional Kids 4-30-17


Adult & Teen Discussion Guide

1. Primary Statement

Some leaders in life are great, some are okay, and some are downright terrible. God has called you to honor and submit to all of them, and to work hard to please Him with your actions and attitude. 

2.Bible Verse & Talking Point

God is your real boss.

Colossians 3:23-24 (NLT) “Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people. Remember that the Lord will give you an inheritance as your reward, and that the Master you are serving is Christ.”

Your work ethic matters to God, because ultimately, He’s your boss. Whatever you do with your time, do it well! Have a good attitude. Go above and beyond what’s required. You’re not working for a paycheck, a grade, or even the respect of others. You’re working for the Lord.

Q. If you work hard, but have a bad attitude, is God still pleased?

Q. Which area of your job is the easiest to become complacent in? Would extra effort in that area matter to your human boss/ leader? Would it matter to God?

3. Application

Honor God by honoring the human leaders in your life.

Romans 13:1-2 (NLT) “Everyone must submit to governing authorities. For all authority comes from God, and those in positions of authority have been placed there by God. So anyone who rebels against authority is rebelling against what God has institutedand they will be punished.”

The human leaders in your life are an extension of God’s authority. When we respect and submit to them, we’re serving God. We don’t honor and submit because they’ve earned it, we do it because our God commands it.

Q. God said He’ll reward you for honoring authority. What are some ways He might do that?

4. Wrap up Discussion

Q. Who are the leaders in your life you have the hardest time respecting?

Q. Is it possible to treat them with honor and respect while disagreeing about how they do things? Think specifically – what would that look like?

5. Prayer Focus

Take a few minutes as a family and thank God for the leaders He’s put in your life. Ask God to help you to respect Him by respecting the leaders in your life.


Family with Small Children Discussion Guide

1. Activity

Play a few rounds of “Simon Says” with the family. Let different people take turns being “Simon.” Try suggesting a few actions that are silly or undesirable. For example: “Simon says sing your favorite song in a dinosaur voice,” or “Simon says put an ice cube in your sock.”

2. Bible Verse

Colossians 3:20 (NIV) “Children, always obey your parents, for this pleases the Lord.”

Romans 13:1-2 (NLT)“Everyone must submit to governing authorities. For all authority comes from God, and those in positions of authority have been placed there by God. So anyone who rebels against authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and they will be punished.”

3. Application & Talking Point

If you want to win “Simon Says,” you have to follow instructions, even if they seem silly or you don’t like them. 

Just like “Simon” is in charge in the game, God put parents (or guardians) in charge of kids, so they can grow up well and learn how to make good choices. When we obey our parents with a good attitude, we’re not just respecting them, we’re respecting God. That means, if we disobey or have grumpy attitudes, we’re disrespecting God 😦 Choose to make God happy today, obey your parents and treat them with respect.

Q. What’s something parents ask you to do that you don’t like to do?

Q. Does it still make God happy when we obey, but have a bad attitude? (no!)

Q. What’s something you could do today that would show your parents (and God) respect?

4. Prayer Focus

Take a few minutes as a family and thank God for the leaders He’s put in your life. Ask God to help you to respect Him by respecting the leaders in your life.

Family Devotional 4-30-17 pdf download