love

Hard Question: Divorce & Remarriage

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Family Devotional 6-18-17 AdultFamily Devotional 6-18-17 Kids

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Adult & Teen Discussion Guide

1. Primary Statement

When you look across our culture, commitment seems to be at an all-time low, and the poster child for the problem is marriage.  God designed marriage to bless us, and even if it ends, His desire for us is peace and healing.  

God’s plan for families has always been committed relationships for life.  Look for those dynamics in the following verses:

2. Bible Verse 

Matthew 19:5-6 [ESV] “and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’?  So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.”

1 Corinthians 7:15 [NIV] “But if the unbeliever leaves, let him do so. A believing man or woman is not bound in such circumstances; God has called us to live in peace.”

Q. God refers to marriage as a covenant – in what ways is marriage similar to His covenant with us?

3. Application

It takes 2 people to stay in a relationship, and sometimes, no matter how hard you try, things come to an end. Even then, we’re called to live in peace and to forgive, so everyone can heal and move forward in life.

Q. God permits divorce in some cases, but is that ever His preference? 

Q. Have you ever been hurt by a divorce? If so, how hard was it for you to offer forgiveness? Is there someone you still need to forgive?

4. Prayer Focus

Take a few minutes as a family and thank God for blessing humanity with marriage. Ask Him to help you to be faithful and support marriage – not only in your life, but in the lives of those around you.


Family with Small Children Discussion Guide

1. Activity

“I will tell my friends about Jesus!”

Tell your children to imagine that they’re sick—so sick, in fact, that without help, they’ll die.  Ask them the following questions:  How do you think you’d feel emotionally if you were this sick?  What do you think you’d do to try to get better?

2. Bible Verse

Mark 16:15 & Romans 10:13  “Go into all the world and preach the good news…”

Tell your children that someone told them about a new cure for their illness. Have them imagine that they’ve undergone treatment and now they’re perfectly healthy.  

Ask them the following questions:

Q. How would you feel emotionally once you were healed?

Q. How would you feel toward the person who told you about the cure?

Q. How would you feel toward the person who actually found the cure?

Q. How would you feel if you found out there was a cure and a friend had known about it but didn’t tell you?

 

3. Application 

Next, have your children imagine that a friend has come to them describing some symptoms that are very similar to the ones they had.  After listening to this friend for awhile, they realize that he has the same disease that they did.  

Talk about the following questions:

Q. Would you tell your friend about the cure? Why?  What might happen to your friend if you don’t tell him about the cure?

Q. Can you force the person to undergo the treatment and take the medicine that will cure him?

Tell your children that all people have a disease that will eventually kill them: sin.  Sin is a disease that everyone is born with, and unless we seek the “cure”—Jesus—we will die an eternal death and be separated from God and everything that’s good.

4. Prayer Focus

Tell your children that thinking about sin as a fatal disease will help them see the importance of telling others about Jesus.  Our job is to tell them about Jesus and show them Christ’s love, so they’ll know about the cure. Pray with your family, asking God to open your eyes to the people around you who need to know about Him.

Waiting for God

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Family Devotional 6-11-17 Adult

Family Devotional 6-11-17 Kids

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Adult & Teen Discussion Guide

1. Primary Statement

Sometimes it’s hard to wait. In a culture of microwave dinners, Keurig coffee brewers, and on-demand video content, it can seem downright criminal when God doesn’t answer prayers quickly. When the answer doesn’t come in the time we expect it to, though, the problem is not God’s timing… it’s ours.

2. Bible Verse 

2 Peter 3:9 [ESV] “The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.”

God’s timing works differently than ours, with many factors we may not take into account. Remember, He’s patient, and He’s working for your good.

Q. What’s a prayer you’ve prayed that didn’t get answered as quickly as you wanted?

Q. What’s an example of a time when God was patient with you?

Q. Would you rather have God’s answers – and judgment – happen on your timetable, or on His?

3. Application

Matthew 7:11 [NLT] “So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask him.”

God will give good things to you, but He’s the one who determines what is truly good. If you find yourself not getting what you want, that thing you’re asking for might not be as good for you as it seems.

Q. What’s something that humans used to think was good or healthy, which we now understand is bad or unhealthy?

Q.  Is it possible that something that seems good for you could actually be bad for others? If God loves all humanity, could His delay in answering be for the greater good?

Q. Sometimes a good thing can become bad if it comes at the wrong time or in the wrong amount. Can you think of a few examples?

4. Prayer Focus

Take a few minutes as a family and thank God for caring enough about what’s good for you to answer prayers in His timing. Ask Him to give you patience to wait for His answers and to help you trust in His character while you’re waiting.


Family with Small Children Discussion Guide

1. Activity

“I Will Worship God With All My Heart!”

Give everyone a pen and piece of paper and have them write down the name of their favorite celebrity—an athlete, a singer, an actor, a public figure, or whomever.   Once everyone is finished, tell them to imagine that they’ve been invited to spend an hour alone with this person.

2. Bible Verse

Psalm 100:2 “Worship the LORD with gladness. Come before him, singing with joy.”   

Then talk about the following questions:

Q. What is the first thing you would do when you saw this famous person?

Q. How would you feel while you were in this person’s presence?

Q. How do you think you would feel once you left this person’s presence?

Q. What are some of the things you might say to that person?

When you’re discussing some of the things you might say, suggest to your children that they may say something like:

“You’re the best quarterback ever.  The way you run the ball is awesome.”

“You’re so funny in all of your movies.  I love the way you can make me laugh.”

“The way you dress is so cool, I would love to look just like you.”

3. Application 

Tell your children that while they may never get the chance to be in the presence of their favorite celebrity, they always have the opportunity to be in the presence of God. 

Sometimes our biggest problem in worship is we can’t really think of anything to say other than, “Thank you, Jesus” over and over.  Maybe it’s because we aren’t paying enough attention to what God is doing in our lives every day.  As a family, make a commitment to praising God every day over the next week for something He’s done in your life that day.  It may be something simple like giving you the strength to resist temptation or giving you a sense of peace during a stressful situation. Whatever it is, make sure you spend some time praising God for it.

4. Prayer Focus

To end your devotion, have each person name one thing that God has done for them recently.  Then worship God together as a family, either silently or out loud, praising Him for all of the good things He does.

Free Will & Choices

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Family Devotional 6-4-17 Adult

Family Devotional 6-4-17 Kids

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Adult & Teen Discussion Guide

1. Primary Statement

Of all the things God blessed humanity with, one of the most beautiful, powerful, and potentially dangerous gifts He gave is the ability to choose. From choosing which shirt to wear, to choosing which career to pursue, to choosing how to respond to God’s Word, every decision in our lives comes with consequences. There is great power in the human will!

2. Bible Verse 

Matthew 8:5-13 [NLT] “When Jesus returned to Capernaum, a Roman officer came and pleaded with him, ‘Lord, my young servant lies in bed, paralyzed and in terrible pain.’ Jesus said, ‘I will come and heal him.’ But the officer said, ‘Lord, I am not worthy to have you come into my home. Just say the word from where you are, and my servant will be healed…’ Then Jesus said to the Roman officer, ‘Go back home. Because you believed, it has happened.’ And the young servant was healed that same hour.”

Q. The officer’s decision to believe Jesus affected his household. Who is affected by your decisions in life?

Q. The decision to trust Jesus to heal, sight unseen, is a risk. What are things it’s risky to believe God for? What factors make it easier or harder to decide to trust Him in risky situations?

3. Application

Proverbs 14:12 [ESV] “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death.”

Ephesians 5:15 [NLT] “So be careful how you live. Don’t live like fools, but like those who are wise.”

James 1:5 [ESV] “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.”

Q. The right decision isn’t always obvious – we need God’s wisdom. What are some ways God brings wisdom into your life?

Q. When you consider the consequences of every decision – good or bad – does it make you feel more empowered or intimidated? Which do you think God wants you to feel?

4. Prayer Focus

Take a few minutes as a family and thank God for the blessing of free will. Ask Him to give you wisdom to make the right decisions for yourself and for others.


Family with Small Children Discussion Guide

1. Activity

The B-I-B-L-E, Yes That’s The Book For Me!”

Take a sheet of paper and write “I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.” (Psalm 119:11) on it using the largest letters you can.  Show it to your children and have them read it aloud or repeat it after you. Now take the sheet of paper and cut it into a puzzle where each word is its own puzzle piece.  Lay the pieces out in front of your children, and have them put the puzzle back together.  Repeat the verse aloud several times.  Leave the verse in front of them and take out the piece that says “word” and see if they can still recite the verse.  Leaving that piece out, take out the word “heart” and ask them to recite the verse.  Continue removing pieces until they can repeat the verse by heart.

2. Bible Verse

2 Timothy 3:16 “All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true…” 

Then talk about the following questions:

Q. What does it mean to hide something in your heart? (It means to memorize it.)

Q. Why are we supposed to memorize God’s word? (It helps us choose not to sin when we’re faced with temptation.)

Q. What are some tricks you use when you need to memorize something for school, like math facts or definitions?  How could you use those tricks to help you memorize Bible verses?

3. Application 

Tell your children that the Bible is like a road map for our lives, and the more familiar we are with it, the easier it is to understand which way to go.  Make it a family habit to memorize verses together and rehearse them with each other—working on them as a family helps keep everyone accountable.

4. Prayer Focus

Pray together, thanking God for giving us His word to help us live our lives.  Ask Him to help your family as you begin to hide His word in your hearts.

Love Your Neighbor

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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.

We are One

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Unity isn’t a destination- it’s a constant effort, pushing back against the divisive forces in the world around us. 

If you are having trouble reading it, here is the family-devotional-11-20-16 pdf download.


We want to invite you to join this home discipleship program designed to facilitate Bible reading, discussion, and prayer.

There are two pages in the Family Discipleship Guide.  One page is for teen & adult discussion and the other is for kids.

  1. Choose the discipleship outline that works for you and/or your family.
  2. Sit down and read through the scriptures and questions each week and then take some time to discuss your thoughts.
  3. Later in the week we ask that you take time to pray for each other and for specific needs.
  4. Text DISCIPLE to 24587 after each prayer and discussion time or comment below so that we can celebrate with you, who are deepening your knowledge.

As always, please feel free to ask questions.

The Love of God- Part 3

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family-devotional-10-2-16-adult family-devotional-10-2-16-kids

If you are having trouble reading it, here is the family-devotional-10-2-16 pdf download.


We want to invite you to join this home discipleship program designed to facilitate Bible reading, discussion, and prayer.

There are two pages in the Family Discipleship Guide.  One page is for teen & adult discussion and the other is for kids.

  1. Choose the discipleship outline that works for you and/or your family.
  2. Sit down and read through the scriptures and questions each week and then take some time to discuss your thoughts.
  3. Later in the week we ask that you take time to pray for each other and for specific needs.
  4. Text DISCIPLE to 24587 after each prayer and discussion time or comment below so that we can celebrate with you, who are deepening your knowledge.

As always, please feel free to ask questions.

Making Life Better

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hello

I wanted to take a few moments this morning to encourage all of you in reference to the growth of our church.  Two and a half years ago we were averaging somewhere around 300 people on a Sunday morning.  This past Sunday we had 510 and we are regularly at that number and above!  To what do we credit that growth?  Well certainly the Lord is blessing us but let me tell you what I know is causing us to grow.

It’s YOU!

Your involvement, support and attitude is making ALCC an infectious place that people want to be a part of.  ALCC is unlike any church I have ever been associated with.  When you walk in you can feel the excitement, joy, and love.

On a regular basis I speak with those who are new to our church and I routinely ask them what it is that made them become a part.  It is almost, without exception, that one of the things at the top of their list is the atmosphere that you create.  People love the warmth, friendship, and joy that they see on your faces and that coupled with God’s presence is an unbeatable combination.

Psalm 133 speaks of this sort of atmosphere when it says…

Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity! It is like the precious oil on the head, running down on the beard, on the beard of Aaron, running down on the collar of his robes! It is like the dew of Hermon, which falls on the mountains of Zion! For there the Lord has commanded the blessing, life forevermore.

When people dwell together in unity there is a life-giving anointing that results.  Working together literally has an anointing on it that pours life into people!  That’s what’s going on at ALCC.  People who are tired, broken, and hurting walk onto this property and perhaps unknown to them, they come in contact with God’s life-giving anointing that they were made to be recharged by.  As a result, they leave here happier, stronger, and better prepared to face life.  We literally “Made Life Better”.  You do that every time you put a smile on your face, extend a hand of friendship, forgive someone, support the church financially, and speak well of the ministries and people of ALCC.  Unity produces LIFE!

It is a great blessing to be the pastor at Abundant Life Community Church and I face every day excited about what God is doing through the ministries of our church.  It is my sincere prayer that the remaining years of our ministry will be spent here with you.

Keep up the great work!

Blessings