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The Bible

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Family Devotional Adult 10-22-17

Family Devotional Kids 10-22-17

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Adult & Teen Discussion Guide

1. Primary Statement

The Bible is more than just a collection of laws and moral guidelines. It’s more than a history or philosophy book – it’s the authoritative Word of God. At the same time, many passages in scripture are debated over their historical accuracy or scientific feasibility – even among religious scholars. With all that uncertainty, what should we believe? According to Jesus, every last word.

2. Discussion

Jesus affirmed the Bible by quoting and teaching from it. 

Jesus quoted the Old Testament scriptures 78 different times, referencing 27 different books. Included in these are books with debated miracles, like Genesis (creation, global flood), Exodus (Egyptian plagues, parting of the Red Sea) and Daniel (Daniel in the lion’s den, Shadrach, Meshach,  and Abednego in the furnace). If you trust Jesus’ words, you have good reason to trust the rest of the Bible.

Q. Which passages in scripture do you find the hardest to believe? 

Q. If Jesus quoted a passage or a book, would that make it easier for you to accept the rest of the book as reliable?

 

3. Bible Verse

Jesus affirmed the Bible directly.

When Jesus referred to the Old Testament writings, He used phrases to describe it such as “the Scripture,” and “the Word of God.” He also said this about the Old Testament:

Matthew 5:17-18 [NLT] “Don’t misunderstand why I have come. I did not come to abolish the law of Moses or the writings of the prophets. No, I came to accomplish their purpose. I Tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not even the smallest detail of God’s law will disappear until its purpose is achieved.”

Q. Which passages in scripture do you see Christians ignoring most often? 

Which passages do you tend to ignore? 

Q. Since Jesus spoke about the importance of every detail in the Old Testament scripture, is there any logical room to accept some of it as fact and other parts as fiction, legend or embellishment?

4. Prayer Focus

Take a few minutes to pray together as a family. Thank God for communicating to you through the words of the Bible and ask Him to help you fully trust in it as His source of truth.


Family with Small Children Discussion Guide

1. Power Verse

Psalm 84:2 “…With my whole being, body and soul, I will shout joyfully to the living God.”

“God’s Won The Victory, It’s Time To SHOUT!” 

In our series, “Soul Food”, we learn that a shout for victory is one of the key ingredients for a healthy Christian life.  We are often faced with difficult and impossible circumstances.  Sometimes the enemy, Satan, tries to trick us and make us feel discouraged when we’re faced with those tough times.  When we remember that God sent His Son, Jesus, to defeat the devil and win the ultimate victory, we should SHOUT for victory!

2. Bible Reading

Read: Joshua 6

Joshua 6 New International Reader’s Version (NIRV)

The gates of Jericho were shut tight and guarded closely because of the Israelites. No one went out. No one came in.

Then the Lord said to Joshua, “I have handed Jericho over to you. I have also handed over to you its king and its fighting men. March around the city once with all your fighting men. In fact, do it for six days. Have seven priests get trumpets made out of rams’ horns. They must carry them in front of the ark. On the seventh day, march around the city seven times. Tell the priests to blow the trumpets as you march. You will hear them blow a long blast on the trumpets. When you do, tell the whole army to give a loud shout. The wall of the city will fall down. Then the whole army will march up to the city. Everyone will go straight in.”

So Joshua, the son of Nun, called for the priests. He said to them, “Go and get the ark of the covenant of the Lord. I want seven of you to carry trumpets in front of it.” He gave an order to the army. He said, “Move out! March around the city. Some of the fighting men must march in front of the ark of the Lord.”

When Joshua had spoken to the men, the seven priests went forward. They were carrying the seven trumpets as they marched in front of the ark of the Lord. They were blowing the trumpets. The ark of the Lord’s covenant was carried behind the priests. Some of the fighting men marched ahead of the priests who were blowing the trumpets. The others followed behind the ark and guarded all the priests. That whole time the priests were blowing the trumpets. 10 But Joshua had given an order to the army. He had said, “Don’t give a war cry. Don’t raise your voices. Don’t say a word until the day I tell you to shout. Then shout!” 11 So he had the ark of the Lord carried around the city once. Then the army returned to camp. They spent the night there.

12 Joshua got up early the next morning. The priests went and got the ark of the Lord. 13 The seven priests carrying the seven trumpets started out. They marched in front of the ark of the Lord. They blew the trumpets. Some of the fighting men marched ahead of them. The others followed behind the ark and guarded all of them. The priests kept blowing the trumpets. 14 On the second day they marched around the city once. Then the army returned to camp. They did all those things for six days.

15 On the seventh day, they got up at sunrise. They marched around the city, just as they had done before. But on that day they went around it seven times. 16 On the seventh time around, the priests blew a long blast on the trumpets. Then Joshua gave a command to the army. He said, “Shout! The Lord has given you the city! 17 The city and everything in it must be set apart to the Lord to be destroyed. But the prostitute Rahab and all those with her in her house must be spared. That’s because she hid the spies we sent. 18 But keep away from the things that have been set apart to the Lord. If you take any of them, you will be destroyed. And you will bring trouble on the camp of Israel. You will cause it to be destroyed. 19 All the silver and gold is holy. It is set apart to the Lord. So are all the things made out of bronze and iron. All those things must be added to the treasures kept in the Lord’s house.”

20 The priests blew the trumpets. As soon as the army heard the sound, they gave a loud shout. Then the wall fell down. Everyone charged straight in. So they took the city. 21 They set it apart to the Lord to be destroyed. They destroyed every living thing in it with their swords. They killed men and women. They wiped out young people and old people. They destroyed cattle, sheep and donkeys.

22 Then Joshua spoke to the two men who had gone in to check out the land. He said, “Go into the prostitute’s house. Bring her out. Also bring out everyone with her. That’s what you promised her you would do.” 23 So the young men who had checked out the land went into Rahab’s house. They brought her out along with her parents and brothers and sisters. They brought out everyone else there with her. They put them in a place outside the camp of Israel.

24 Then they burned the whole city and everything in it. But they added the silver and gold to the treasures kept in the Lord’s house. They also put there the things made out of bronze and iron. 25 But Joshua spared the prostitute Rahab. He spared her family. He also spared everyone else in the house with her. He did it because she hid the spies he had sent to Jericho. Rahab lives among the Israelites to this day.

26 At that time Joshua made a promise and called down a curse. He said, “May the person who tries to rebuild this city of Jericho be under the Lord’s curse.

“If that person lays its foundations,
    it will cost the life of his oldest son.
If he sets up its gates,
    it will cost the life of his youngest son.”

27 So the Lord was with Joshua. And Joshua became famous everywhere in the land.

Q. What city did God tell Joshua to destroy?  What was in the way?

Q. What did God tell Joshua and the Israelite army to do?

Q. What happened after the army marched around the wall the last time?

Q. When did the army shout – before or after the walls came down?

3. Discussion

Sometimes the enemy, Satan, will try to make us think God isn’t able to or doesn’t want to help us out.  But as Christians, we know that God has already won the victory and defeated the devil, so we shouldn’t be discouraged and afraid of what will happen when we’re faced with tough times.  Instead, we should celebrate what we know God is capable of and desires to do to help us.  We must SHOUT about the victory we know we can have with God on our side.

Q. What are some difficult or impossible circumstances you might face?

Q. How should you respond when faced with difficult and impossible circumstances?

4. Prayer Focus

Pray that your children will be bold and courageous when faced with tough circumstances because they know that God has already won the victory.lightstock_263442_download_medium_user_1189589

Called for a Purpose

Posted on Updated on

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.

Great Big U- Part 2

Posted on Updated on

Family Devotional Adult 10-8-17

Family Devotional Kids 10-8-17

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Adult & Teen Discussion Guide

1. Primary Statement

Through the Holy Spirit, God wants to use believers to get engaged in serving and make up the body of Christ – the Church. Often times, though, we feel like our lack of skills, qualifications or training leaves us without anything to offer. The truth is, God is looking for people just like you to accomplish His will on the earth.

2. Bible Verse

1 Corinthians 1:26-27 [ESV] “For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God.” 

Q. Think of someone in today’s world who has done, or is doing, big things for God. How qualified do they seem to you? How skilled? Does that intimidate you or encourage you?

Q. Now, imagine that same person when the Lord first called them to serve. How qualified or prepared do you think they felt at the time? Does that change how you feel about your own readiness to serve God?

3. Discussion

Judges 6:12-16 [NLT] “Gideon son of Joash was threshing wheat at the bottom of a winepress to hide the grain from the Midianites.  The angel of the Lord appeared to him and said, ‘Mighty hero, the Lord is with you!…Go with the strength you have, and rescue Israel from the Midianites. I am sending you!’ ‘But Lord,’ Gideon replied, ‘how can I rescue Israel? My clan is the weakest in the whole tribe of Manasseh, and I am the least in my entire family!’ The Lord said to him, ‘I will be with you.’”

Q. What is your family history and background? Believers or unbelievers? Casual Christians or ardent God-followers? Have you served God since childhood, or did you come to accept Him as an adult?

Q. How might God be able to use your past to equip you for His service? 

4. Prayer Focus

Take a few minutes as a family and thank God for calling you to be part of the body of Christ. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you engage in the Church to accomplish His will.


Family with Small Children Discussion Guide

1. Power Verse

2 Chronicles 7:14 “If my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and heal their land.”

“Gotta Stay Humble, Got To Pray, & God Will Heal Our Land Today!”

In our series, “Soul Food”, we continue to find out the key ingredients for a healthy Christian life.  This week, we learn that humility is one of those ingredients.  Humility is essential for serving God and giving Him all the glory each day.  We learn from the example of King Nebuchadnezzar what can happen if we are prideful.

2. Bible Reading

Read:  Daniel 4:24-37

24 “Your Majesty, here is what your dream means. The Most High God has given an order against you. 25 You will be driven away from people. You will live with the wild animals. You will eat grass just as an ox does. You will become wet with the dew of heaven. Seven periods of time will pass by for you. Then you will recognize that the Most High God rules over all kingdoms on earth. He gives them to anyone he wants. 26 But he gave a command to leave the stump of the tree along with its roots. That means your kingdom will be given back to you. It will happen when you recognize that the God of heaven rules. 27 So, Your Majesty, I hope you will accept my advice. Stop being sinful. Do what is right. Give up your evil practices. Show kindness to those who are being treated badly. Then perhaps things will continue to go well with you.”

Nebuchadnezzar’s Dream Comes True

28 All this happened to King Nebuchadnezzar. 29 It took place twelve months later. He was walking on the roof of his palace in Babylon. 30 He said, “Isn’t this the great Babylon I have built as a place for my royal palace? I used my mighty power to build it. It shows how glorious my majesty is.”

31 He was still speaking when he heard a voice from heaven. It said, “King Nebuchadnezzar, here is what has been ordered concerning you. Your royal authority has been taken from you. 32 You will be driven away from people. You will live with the wild animals. You will eat grass just as an ox does. Seven periods of time will pass by for you. Then you will recognize that the Most High God rules over all kingdoms on earth. He gives them to anyone he wants.”

33 What had been said about King Nebuchadnezzar came true at once. He was driven away from people. He ate grass just as an ox does. His body became wet with the dew of heaven. He stayed that way until his hair grew like the feathers of an eagle. His nails became like the claws of a bird.

34 At the end of that time I, Nebuchadnezzar, looked up toward heaven. My mind became clear again. Then I praised the Most High God. I gave honor and glory to the God who lives forever.

His rule will last forever.
    His kingdom will never end.
35 He considers all the nations on earth
    to be nothing.
He does as he pleases
    with the powers of heaven.
He does what he wants
    with the nations of the earth.
No one can hold back his hand.
    No one can say to him,
    “What have you done?”

36 My honor and glory were returned to me when my mind became clear again. The glory of my kingdom was given back to me. My advisers and nobles came to me. And I was put back on my throne. I became even greater than I had been before. 37 Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, give praise and honor and glory to the King of heaven. Everything he does is right. All his ways are fair. He is able to bring down those who live proudly.

Q. Whom did King Nebuchadnezzar think was the reason for all of his success?

Q.  What did Daniel say would happen to King Nebuchadnezzar if he continued to have pride?  How did he respond?

Q. What did God do to King Nebuchadnezzar as punishment for his pride?  Then what happened when the time passed?

3. Discussion

King Nebuchadnezzar was very prideful and took all of the credit and glory for himself, instead of giving God glory.  When God saw this, God removed King Nebuchadnezzar from his position as king of Babylon until he was humbled and began to give God all of the glory.  We learn from our Power Verse, 2 Chronicles 7:14, that God says we must humble ourselves, pray, seek His face, and turn from our sin.  If we do those things, He says He will hear us, forgive us, and heal our land.

Q. What are some ways you can become too prideful in your own life?

Q. What can you do to make sure you never allow pride to keep you from giving God all of the glory?

4. Prayer Focus

Pray that your children would humble themselves before God, pray, seek Him whenever they face life’s many difficult situations, and always run from sin.

Great Big U

Posted on Updated on

Family Devotional Adult 10-1-17

Family Devotional Kids 10-1-17

Download pdf button royal purple


Adult & Teen Discussion Guide

1. Primary Statement

God’s plans for believers to influence the world are group plans. He’s designed a system where believers work together with a united purpose, but widely varied functions to accomplish His goals. We call that diverse-yet-unified system, “church.”

2. Bible Verse

1 Corinthians 12:12-19 [ESV] “For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ …If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. If all were a single member, where would the body be?” 

Q. Have you ever felt like a “spare part,” or unnecessary organ in the church body?

Q. List several different functions that people might serve as part of a church. Which ones have you normally considered the most important? Which ones are least important?

Q. Look at the “less important” functions on your list. Can the church survive without them? If so, would it be more effective without the functions, or less effective?

3. Discussion

Proverbs 27:17 [ESV] “Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.”

The relationships we build, functioning together in a church, can be some of the deepest and most rewarding in life. They can also lead to some of the deepest and most painful offenses. As we work together, conflict will inevitably come, but we need to use that to spur us on to grow as individuals and as an organization.

Q. Think of an example of conflict between different people functioning as part of the church body. In what ways could that conflict hurt the body? In what ways could it produce growth?

4. Prayer Focus

Take a few minutes as a family and thank God for the purpose He has for you as part of the church body. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you work together with other believers to affect our world and grow His kingdom.


Family with Small Children Discussion Guide

1. Power Verse

Psalm 68:3 “But let the godly rejoice. Let them be glad in God’s presence. Let them be filled with joy.” 

“I’ll Be Full of the Joy of the Lord!”

In our series, “Soul Food”, we continue to find out the key ingredients for a healthy Christian life.  This week, we learn that joy is one of those ingredients.  A lot of times it is easy for followers of Jesus to lose their joy when bad or difficult circumstances come their way.  When tough stuff happens in our lives, we often lose our sense of joy because we’ve forgotten some very important things about the joy of the Lord.

2. Bible Reading

Read:  2 Samuel 6

David Brings the Ark to Jerusalem

Again David brought together the best soldiers in Israel. The total number was 30,000. He and all his men went to Baalah in Judah. They wanted to bring the ark of God up to Jerusalem from there. The ark is named after the Lord. He is the Lordwho rules over all. He sits on his throne between the cherubim that are on the ark. The ark of God was placed on a new cart. Then it was brought from Abinadab’s house, which was on a hill. Uzzah and Ahio were guiding the cart. They were the sons of Abinadab. The ark of God was on the cart. Ahio was walking in front of it. David was celebrating with all his might in front of the Lord. So was the whole community of Israel. All of them were playing castanets, harps, lyres, tambourines, rattles and cymbals.

They came to the threshing floor of Nakon. The oxen nearly fell there. So Uzzah reached out and took hold of the ark of God. Then the Lord was very angry with Uzzah. That’s because what Uzzah did showed that he didn’t have any respect for the Lord. So God struck him down. He died there beside the ark of God.

David was angry because the Lord’s great anger had broken out against Uzzah. That’s why the place is still called Perez Uzzah to this day.

David was afraid of the Lord that day. He asked, “How can the ark of the Lordever be brought to me?” 10 He didn’t want to take the ark of the Lord to be with him in the City of David. Instead, he took it to the house of Obed-Edom. Obed-Edom was from Gath. 11 The ark of the Lord remained in Obed-Edom’s house for three months. And the Lord blessed him and his whole family.

12 King David was told, “The Lord has blessed the family of Obed-Edom. He has also blessed everything that belongs to him. That’s because the ark of God is in Obed-Edom’s house.” So David went down there to bring up the ark. With great joy he brought it up from the house of Obed-Edom. He took it to the City of David. 13 Those carrying the ark of the Lord took six steps forward. Then David sacrificed a bull and a fat calf. 14 David was wearing a sacred linen apron. He danced in front of the Lord with all his might. 15 He did it while he was bringing up the ark of the Lord. The whole community of Israel helped him bring it up. They shouted. They blew trumpets.

16 The ark of the Lord was brought into the City of David. Saul’s daughter Michal was watching from a window. She saw King David leaping and dancing in front of the Lord. That made her hate him in her heart.

17 The ark of the Lord was brought into Jerusalem. It was put in its place in the tent David had set up for it. David sacrificed burnt offerings and friendship offerings to the Lord. 18 After he finished sacrificing those offerings, he blessed the people in the name of the Lord who rules over all. 19 He gave to each Israelite man and woman a loaf of bread. He also gave each one a date cake and a raisin cake. Then all the people went home.

20 David returned home to bless his family. Saul’s daughter Michal came out to meet him. She said, “You are the king of Israel. You have really brought honor to yourself today, haven’t you? You have gone around half-naked right in front of the female slaves of your officials. You acted like a fool!”

21 David said to Michal, “I did it to honor the Lord. He chose me instead of your father or anyone else in Saul’s family. The Lord appointed me ruler over his people Israel. I will celebrate to honor the Lord. 22 And that’s not all. I will bring even less honor to myself. I will bring even more shame on myself. But those female slaves you spoke about will honor me.”

23 Saul’s daughter Michal didn’t have any children as long as she lived.

Q. What happened that caused David to worship God like he did?

Q. How did David show his joy and worship?

Q. What did David’s wife, Michal, say about David dancing before the Lord?

Q. How did David respond?  Did he let Michal’s criticism keep him from having and expressing his joy in the Lord?

3. Discussion

David had joy even when his wife, Michal, criticized him during his time of worship and dancing.  In spite of what was going on around him, David chose to have the joy of the Lord and let no one stop him from showing it.  From this we learn that joy is not optional – it’s a command.  The Bible says we must have joy – even when the things going on around us aren’t very fun and exciting.  And the reason we should have joy in every circumstance, good or bad, is because God is with us always. 

Q. What are some circumstances that could cause you to lose your joy?

Q. What can you do to make sure you never allow your circumstances to keep you from having the joy of the Lord?

4. Prayer Focus

Pray that your children will have joy no matter what circumstances they are facing.  Pray that they will remember that joy is not optional because they know that God is with them always.

We are Better Together

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Family Devotional Adult 9-24-17

Family Devotional Kids 9-24-17

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Adult & Teen Discussion Guide

1. Primary Statement

We live in a culture where people are becoming more and more isolated. From online shopping to text messages, technology is slowly chipping away at the social interactions in our lives, and leaving us vulnerable to the strategies of our spiritual enemy. The life God has planned for us is one that’s lived together in community.

2. Bible Verse

Isolation leaves you weak.

Ecclesiastes 4:1 [NLT] “Again, I observed all the oppression that takes place under the sun. I saw the tears of the oppressed, with no one to comfort them. The oppressors have great power, and their victims are helpless.” 

Q. Have you ever felt alone, even around people? 

Q. Think of the time(s) in your life when you felt the most isolated. How close to God did you feel in that time? How fulfilled or unsatisfied did you feel?

3. Discussion

Strength and purpose is found in sharing life with each other.

Ecclesiastes 4:12 [NLT] “A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.”

When we work together, we’ve got each others’ backs. We can be an encouragement when someone else is down, a word of caution when someone else is straying off God’s path – and they can be that for us. When we pour into someone else’s life, we can find the purpose and value in our own. 

Q. How connected do you feel to others today? How about in the church?

Q. If you’re more isolated than you want / should be, what steps can you take this week to help change the situation?

4. Prayer Focus

Take a few minutes as a family and thank God for the people that He’s put in your life. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you to start and invest in relationships that will help you and others live stronger, God-pleasing lives.


Family with Small Children Discussion Guide

1. Power Verse

John 16:33  “I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”

“No Matter What Happens – Jesus Gives Me Peace!”

In our brand new series, “Soul Food”, we will find out the key ingredients for a healthy Christian life.  This week, we learn that suffering is one of those ingredients.  Too many people have the idea that once you become a Christian, everything is going to go smoothly and you will never have a tough time in life.  But that is not what Jesus taught us.  Suffering isn’t only a “possibility” – Jesus said it is a guarantee.  Bad things will happen to us even as we follow Him.  Suffering is part of the deal.

2. Bible Reading

Read:  Acts 6:8-7:54

Stephen was full of God’s grace and power. He did great wonders and signs among the people. But members of the group called the Synagogue of the Freedmen began to oppose him. Some of them were Jews from Cyrene and Alexandria. Others were Jews from Cilicia and Asia Minor. They all began to argue with Stephen. 10 But he was too wise for them. That’s because the Holy Spirit gave Stephen wisdom whenever he spoke.

11 Then in secret they talked some men into lying about Stephen. They said, “We heard Stephen speak evil things against Moses and against God.”

12 So the people were stirred up. The elders and the teachers of the law were stirred up too. They arrested Stephen and brought him to the Sanhedrin. 13 They found witnesses who were willing to tell lies. These liars said, “This fellow never stops speaking against this holy place. He also speaks against the law. 14 We have heard him say that this Jesus of Nazareth will destroy this place. He says Jesus will change the practices that Moses handed down to us.”

15 All who were sitting in the Sanhedrin looked right at Stephen. They saw that his face was like the face of an angel.

Stephen Speaks to the Sanhedrin

Then the high priest questioned Stephen. “Is what these people are saying true?” he asked.

“Brothers and fathers, listen to me!” Stephen replied. “The God of glory appeared to our father Abraham. At that time Abraham was still in Mesopotamia. He had not yet begun living in Harran. ‘Leave your country and your people,’ God said. ‘Go to the land I will show you.’ (Genesis 12:1)

“So Abraham left the land of Babylonia. He settled in Harran. After his father died, God sent Abraham to this land where you are now living. God didn’t give him any property here. He didn’t even give him enough land to set his foot on. But God made a promise to him and to all his family after him. He said they would possess the land. The promise was made even though at that time Abraham had no child. Here is what God said to him. ‘For 400 years your family after you will be strangers in a country not their own. They will be slaves and will be treated badly. But I will punish the nation that makes them slaves,’ God said. ‘After that, they will leave that country and worship me here.’ (Genesis 15:13,14) Then God made a covenant with Abraham. God told him that circumcision would show who the members of the covenant were. Abraham became Isaac’s father. He circumcised Isaac eight days after he was born. Later, Isaac became Jacob’s father. Jacob had 12 sons. They became the founders of the 12 tribes of Israel.

“Jacob’s sons were jealous of their brother Joseph. So they sold him as a slave. He was taken to Egypt. But God was with him. 10 He saved Joseph from all his troubles. God made Joseph wise. He helped him to become the friend of Pharaoh, the king of Egypt. So Pharaoh made Joseph ruler over Egypt and his whole palace.

11 “There was not enough food for all Egypt and Canaan. This brought great suffering. Jacob and his sons couldn’t find food. 12 But Jacob heard that there was grain in Egypt. So he sent his sons on their first visit. 13 On their second visit, Joseph told his brothers who he was. Pharaoh learned about Joseph’s family. 14 After this, Joseph sent for his father Jacob and his whole family. The total number of people was 75. 15 Then Jacob went down to Egypt. There he and his family died. 16 Some of their bodies were brought back to Shechem. They were placed in a tomb Abraham had bought. He had purchased it from Hamor’s sons at Shechem. He had purchased it for a certain amount of money.

17 “In Egypt the number of our people grew and grew. It was nearly time for God to make his promise to Abraham come true. 18 Then ‘a new king came to power in Egypt. Joseph didn’t mean anything to him.’ (Exodus 1:8) 19 The king was very evil and dishonest with our people. He treated them badly. He forced them to throw out their newborn babies to die.

20 “At that time Moses was born. He was not an ordinary child. For three months he was taken care of by his family. 21 Then he was placed outside. But Pharaoh’s daughter took him home. She brought him up as her own son. 22 Moses was taught all the knowledge of the people of Egypt. He became a powerful speaker and a man of action.

23 “When Moses was 40 years old, he decided to visit the people of Israel. They were his own people. 24 He saw one of them being treated badly by an Egyptian. So he went to help him. He got even by killing the man. 25 Moses thought his own people would realize that God was using him to save them. But they didn’t. 26 The next day Moses saw two Israelites fighting. He tried to make peace between them. ‘Men, you are both Israelites,’ he said. ‘Why do you want to hurt each other?’

27 “But the man who was treating the other one badly pushed Moses to one side. He said, ‘Who made you ruler and judge over us? 28 Are you thinking of killing me as you killed the Egyptian yesterday?’ (Exodus 2:14) 29 When Moses heard this, he escaped to Midian. He lived there as an outsider. He became the father of two sons there.

30 “Forty years passed. Then an angel appeared to Moses in the flames of a burning bush. This happened in the desert near Mount Sinai. 31 When Moses saw the bush, he was amazed. He went over for a closer look. There he heard the Lord say, 32 ‘I am the God of your fathers. I am the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.’ (Exodus 3:6) Moses shook with fear. He didn’t dare to look.

33 “Then the Lord said to him, ‘Take off your sandals. You must do this because the place where you are standing is holy ground. 34 I have seen my people beaten down in Egypt. I have heard their groans. I have come down to set them free. Now come. I will send you back to Egypt.’ (Exodus 3:5,7,8,10)

35 “This is the same Moses the two men of Israel would not accept. They had said, ‘Who made you ruler and judge?’ But God himself sent Moses to rule the people of Israel and set them free. He spoke to Moses through an angel. The angel had appeared to him in the bush. 36 So Moses led them out of Egypt. He did wonders and signs in Egypt, at the Red Sea, and for 40 years in the desert.

37 “This is the same Moses who spoke to the Israelites. ‘God will send you a prophet,’ he said. ‘He will be like me. He will come from your own people.’ (Deuteronomy 18:15) 38 Moses was with the Israelites in the desert. He was with the angel who spoke to him on Mount Sinai. Moses was with our people of long ago. He received living words to pass on to us.

39 “But our people refused to obey Moses. They would not accept him. In their hearts, they wished they were back in Egypt. 40 They told Aaron, ‘Make us a god who will lead us. This fellow Moses brought us up out of Egypt. But we don’t know what has happened to him!’ (Exodus 32:1) 41 That was the time they made a statue to be their god. It was shaped like a calf. They brought sacrifices to it. They even enjoyed what they had made with their own hands. 42 But God turned away from them. He let them go on worshiping the sun, moon and stars. This agrees with what is written in the book of the prophets. There it says,

“ ‘People of Israel, did you bring me sacrifices and offerings
    for 40 years in the desert?
43 You have taken with you the shrine of your false god Molek.
    You have taken with you the star of your false god Rephan.
    You made statues of those gods to worship.
So I will send you away from your country.’ (Amos 5:25–27)
    God sent them to Babylon and even farther.

44 “Long ago our people were in the desert. They had with them the holy tent. The tent was where the tablets of the covenant law were kept. Moses had made the holy tent as God had commanded him. Moses made it like the pattern he had seen. 45 Our people received the tent from God. Then they brought it with them when they took the land of Canaan. God drove out the nations that were in their way. At that time Joshua was Israel’s leader. The tent remained in the land until David’s time. 46 David was blessed by God. So David asked if he could build a house for the God of Jacob. 47 But it was Solomon who built the temple for God.

48 “But the Most High God does not live in houses made by human hands. As God says through the prophet,

49 “ ‘Heaven is my throne.
    The earth is under my control.
What kind of house will you build for me?
    says the Lord.
    Where will my resting place be?
50 Didn’t my hand make all these things?’ (Isaiah 66:1,2)

51 “You stubborn people! You won’t obey! You won’t listen! You are just like your people of long ago! You always oppose the Holy Spirit! 52 Was there ever a prophet your people didn’t try to hurt? They even killed those who told about the coming of the Blameless One. And now you have handed him over to his enemies. You have murdered him. 53 The law you received was given by angels. But you haven’t obeyed it.”

Stephen Is Killed

54 When the members of the Sanhedrin heard this, they became very angry. They were so angry they ground their teeth at Stephen.

Q. What did Stephen do that didn’t sit well with the other religious leaders?

Q. What were they afraid would happen if Stephen continued?

Q. What did the religious leaders do to ruin Stephen’s reputation?  What did they do when that didn’t stop Stephen from sharing about Jesus?

Q. What did Stephen look to Heaven and say right before he died?

3. Discussion

Life is full of troubles and difficulties.  Each day, we will be in a fight against our enemy, the devil.  But Jesus has already defeated the devil, so we do not have to be afraid or worried.  Although life is full of “many trials and sorrows,” we can have peace in our hearts and minds because Jesus has “overcome the world.”  If we trust Him and never give up, we will win the victory!

Q. What are some ways that you might suffer for your faith today?

Q. How should you prepare yourself for the suffering you know will eventually happen as a follower of Jesus?

4. Prayer Focus

Pray that your children will not be afraid or discouraged when suffering comes their way.  Pray that they will stand firm in their faith in Jesus.  Pray that they will take heart, knowing that He has overcome the world!

Making Life Better

Posted on Updated on

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!

Spiritual Maturity

Posted on Updated on

Family Devotional Adult 9-10-17Family Devotional Kids 9-10-17

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Adult & Teen Discussion Guide

1. Primary Statement

Life is a journey. From birth, to childhood, to adolescence, all the way to our twilight years, we’re never really static – we’re always growing. In the same way, Christianity is a lifelong progression, as we grow to become more like God, and know Him better. Growth is God’s expectation for all of us, and it happens best in the context of relationships.

2. Bible Verse

1 Corinthians 3:1-2 [NLT] Dear brothers and sisters, when I was with you I couldn’t talk to you as I would to spiritual people. I had to talk as though you belonged to this world or as though you were infants in Christ. I had to feed you with milk, not with solid food, because you weren’t ready for anything stronger.”

Paul is addressing the spiritual maturity of the Corinthian church. Regardless of our age, we’re all spiritual infants when we join God’s family – but He doesn’t expect us to stay that way.

Romans 12:2 [ESV] “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”

3. Discussion

How do we renew our minds? By being discipled – learning and applying God’s ways of thinking. This is a lifelong process that happens best in relationships with other Christians. 

Q: Which individuals in your life have had the biggest impact on your spiritual growth? Is your relationship with them close, or distant? 

Q: Outside of pastors, authors, and public speakers, who are the spiritually mature people you look to for inspiration and guidance? If you don’t have anyone like that, how might you go about building a relationship with someone?

Q: Who are the people in your life that are less experienced in their relationship with God than you are? Are you actively building them up in their faith? If not, how might you start helping them to grow?

4. Prayer Focus

God’s will for us all is to be part of this process. Never stop learning from others. Never stop teaching and helping others.  Take a few minutes as a family and thank God for the growth-inspiring relationships in your life. Ask Him to help you strengthen those connections, so more and more people can become more like Him.


Family with Small Children Discussion Guide

1. Power Verse

John 15:13  “There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” 

“I Will Stand Up For Others – No Matter What The Cost!”

This week we continued our series, “Never Too Young.”  In this week’s lesson, the children learned a powerful message from the life of Esther about how to stand up for those who are in need!

2. Discussion

Read Esther 4:7-8, 15-16 “Mordecai told him everything that had happened to him. He told him about the exact amount of money Haman had promised to add to the royal treasures. He said Haman wanted it to be used to pay some men to destroy the Jews… It commanded people to wipe out the Jews…

Mordecai told Hathak to show the order to Esther. He wanted Hathak to explain it to her. Mordecai told him to tell her to go and beg the king for mercy. Mordecai wanted her to make an appeal to the king for her people.  15 Then Esther sent a reply to Mordecai. ‘…Then I’ll go to the king. I’ll do it even though it’s against the law. And if I have to die, I’ll die.”’

Q. Do you remember who this week’s Bible story was about?

Q. What did Esther do for her people?

Q. Why was this so important?

3. Activity 

Discuss with your children why what Esther did was so important and how difficult it must have been to stand up for others.  Share a time in your life where you had to stand up for someone or something.  This can help your children identify with this story.

Q. What do you think it means to “stand up for others?”

Q. How does this make God feel when we “stand up for others?”

It’s important that we stand up for others and what is right.  There may be people at your school who are being bullying, and you could be the person to stop them.  There may be a person who needs new friends, and you could be that new friend for them.  Or, maybe God wants you to help those less fortunate than you like the homeless or poor.  It’s important that when you see other people in need, you respond and help them.

4. Prayer Focus

Discuss with your children ways they can “Stand up for others.”  As a family, make a plan to give back to those in need.  Pray together that God will use your family to make a difference in this world!