God is Merciful (Week Starting November 11, 2018)

Read this Scripture:  
Psalm 103:8 (ESV) - The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.

Read this Thought:
A dictionary will tell you that mercy is, “compassion or forgiveness shown toward someone whom it is within one's power to punish or harm.”  It is very hard to read the Bible, the book that tells us all about God, and not see that God is full of mercy - that He is merciful.

Over and over and over again we read true stories of God showing compassion and forgiveness to those who really deserve punishment.  The people of Israel are a classic example of this… They complain and God provides for them. They make and idol of a cow to worship and He forgives them.  They reject God’s leadership and ask for a human king and He gives them one. They don’t follow His instructions and He still lets them live in the promised land (at least for a time).  

Now this is where this truth gets very interesting.  God’s mercy has to be held with His other attributes, especially His justice (which we talked about that last week).  If God was just merciful He would never punish anyone for doing anything wrong - no one would ever have justice.  God perfectly balances both His justice and His mercy.

So when the Israelites rejected God and His instructions He loved them and in His mercy gave them many opportunities to repent and return to loving Him.  Eventually, God in His justice had to punish the Israelites for all the bad things they were doing - we can read about how they were taken from their land in the books of 2 Kings and 2 Chronicles.  

In spite of all this, God still had a merciful rescue plan.  This plan didn’t just have the people returning to the promised land but a returning to relationship with God through Jesus.

Do this Activity:
Get a piece of paper and pen and work together on making an acrostic.  On the page write the letters for ‘mercy’ downward like this:
M
E
R
C
Y

Then work together to create statements that describe God’s mercy.  Make sure to start each statement with the letter it is next to. (For example next to ‘M’ you could write - “Makes a way for us to have a relationship with Himself”).

Discuss this Question:
Why can we show mercy to someone who has wronged us?

November Scripture Memory:
John 17:3 - This is eternal life: that they may know You, the only true God, and the One You have sent —Jesus Christ.

Pray Together

God is Just (Week Starting November 4, 2018)

Read this Scripture:  
Jeremiah 9:24 - The one who boasts should boast in this, that he understands and knows Me — that I am Yahweh, showing faithful love, justice, and righteousness on the earth, for I delight in these things.

Read this Thought:
Our memory verse for the month of October said that God delights in justice (that means really likes it).  God isn’t only a Person who likes justice a lot, He actually is more than that. He is the very definition of justice - He is just.  What does that mean?

When we say God is just, we mean that He gives to everyone exactly what they deserve.  This is a truth about God that reminds us that He is fair and right in the way He treats both us and everyone who has ever lived.  This truth about God is VERY good news. Imagine if God was all powerful and not just... If that were true, He might be powerful and mean - wouldn’t that make Him a bully?  Nobody likes someone who is a bully!

So the fact that God is just is a relief.  Well, it’s kind of a relief. You see this also means that God has to give us what we deserve.  We have all done things that are bad.  Because of this, we deserve to have God, in His fairness and rightness, punish us.  But God made a way for us to escape what we deserve. He placed the punishment for our wrongs on His Son Jesus.  This is incredibly good news! The term for good news in the Bible is the ‘gospel’.

The gospel is the message that no one who trusts in Jesus has to face punishment because Jesus took our punishment for us.  Thankfully, God is just and merciful (which we will look at next week).

Do this Activity:
Watch this video: thebibleproject.com/explore/justice/

Discuss this Question:
Has there been a time in your life that you could talk about, when you received grace instead of the justice you deserved?

November Scripture Memory:
John 17:3 - This is eternal life: that they may know You, the only true God, and the One You have sent —Jesus Christ.

Pray Together

God is Wisdom (Week Starting October 28, 2018)

Read this Scripture:
James 1:5 - Now if any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives to all generously and without criticizing, and it will be given to him.

James 3:17 - But the wisdom from above if first pure, then peace-loving, gentle, compliant, full of mercy and good fruits, without favoritism and hypocrisy.

Read this Thought:
When we think of a wise person, we often think of someone who is older. Can you think of someone who is old (like maybe your grandparents)? People who have lived a long time, and have had lots of birthdays, usually have wisdom to offer those of us who are younger.

Even though people can become older and wiser, God is the only one who offers true and completely trustworthy wisdom. When we look to God’s word, we are reminded, “If any of us lacks wisdom, we should ask God, who gives to all generously” (James 1:5). What does the wisdom that God offers us look like?

If we look further on in James, we find the answer, “But the wisdom from above if first pure, then peace-loving, gentle, compliant, full of mercy and good fruits, without favoritism and hypocrisy” (James 3:17). The wisdom that God offers us is wisdom to live like Jesus. All those things listed look exactly like the life of Christ (He was pure, peace-loving, gentle and all the rest).

Jesus came and lived a perfectly wise life to help us understand that we cannot be wise like Him, even if we really really try. Thankfully, when we give Him our lives He gives us His Holy Spirit to live inside us, to lead us, to true wisdom.

Do this Activity:
Grab a piece of paper and a pen. Work together to brainstorm and write down or illustrate all the things about Jesus’ life that show that He had wisdom.

Discuss this Question:
Why does God’s Wisdom and the worldly wisdom look different?

October Scripture Memory:
Jeremiah 9:24 - The one who boasts should boast in this, that he understands and knows Me — that I am Yahweh, showing faithful love, justice, and righteousness on the earth, for I delight in these things.

God is Eternal (Week Starting October 21, 2018)

Read this Scripture:  
Revelation 1:8 - “I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “the One who is, who was, and who is coming, the Almighty.”

Read this Thought:
What does the word eternal mean?  It is a word used to describe something without beginning and without an end.  Imagine a circle drawn on a page - it is a line that has no starting point and no ending.

God is eternal.  He has always existed and will always exist.  He has no beginning and no end. That’s very, very hard for us to understand because we are, in this way, quite different from God. We are born, we live our lives, and then we die.

Thankfully that’s not all that life is about…  In a book called Ecclesiastes, in the Bible, we are told that God has placed eternity in our hearts (Ecclesiastes 3:11).  So even though we have a very definite beginning (the day we were born), God designed us to live forever with Him.

The way that we are able to have this life that goes on, even after death, is through Jesus.  Jesus himself said, “For God loved the world in this way: He gave His One and Only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16 emphasis added).

Do this Activity:
Find a glass or another object near you that is circular.  Show the circle at the top of the glass and ask them where the circle starts and where the circle ends?  Then ask why we can’t tell? Finally ask how this is like God who has no beginning and no end?

Discuss this Question:
Why should the fact that God is eternal bring us comfort?

October Scripture Memory:
Jeremiah 9:24 - The one who boasts should boast in this, that he understands and knows Me — that I am Yahweh, showing faithful love, justice, and righteousness on the earth, for I delight in these things.

Pray Together

God is All-Powerful (Week Starting October 14, 2018)

Read this Scripture:  
Psalm 147:4-5 - [The LORD] counts the number of the stars; He gives names to all of them. Our Lord is great, vast in power; His understanding is infinite.

Read this Thought:
When you think of something powerful, what do you think of?  Maybe a big truck or a giant bulldozer. Perhaps you think of a enormous wave crashing against the shore or a volcano erupting and spurting out melted rocks or possibly a powerful storm like a hurricane.  All these things certainly are powerful, but they are not even close to being as powerful as God.

God is all powerful.  That means that He is mightier and stronger than literally anything!

Why is it important for us to know this?  Because it reminds us of who we are, and who God is.  We are small and need God - who is great and powerful.  Sometimes, when we aren’t thinking right, we want to live our lives without God.  When we do this, we think we are powerful and wise and don’t need Him. This never works out well, because sooner or later, we find out that we aren’t as powerful or wise as we may think.

The good news, is that God (who is the most powerful being in the universe) wants to have a relationship with us.  He tells us, that He has made it possible for us to be adopted into His family through Jesus. When this happens, we then have this all-powerful God as our Father!

Do this Activity:
You will need a few supplies for a volcano experiment.  Vinegar, baking soda, spoon and a glass or jar. Take your supplies somewhere you can make a mess.  Pour the vinegar into the container then add a few tablespoons of baking soda. You can add food coloring to make it more dramatic. See this link for an example: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nCFahAe5SYc

Talk about how this is a powerful reaction like a volcano.  Also talk about how even the biggest volcanoes are not nearly as powerful as God.

Discuss this Question:
Why is it important for us to believe that God is all-powerful?

October Scripture Memory:
Jeremiah 9:24 - The one who boasts should boast in this, that he understands and knows Me — that I am Yahweh, showing faithful love, justice, and righteousness on the earth, for I delight in these things.

Pray Together

God is All-Present (Week Starting October 7, 2018)

Read this Scripture:  
Psalm 139:7-10
Where can I go to escape Your Spirit? Where can I flee from Your presence? If I go up to heaven, You are there; if I make my bed in Sheol, You are there. If I live at the eastern horizon or settle at the western limits, even there Your hand will lead me; Your right hand will hold on to me.

Read this Thought:
God is everywhere.  That means absolutely everywhere.  He is with you when you sleep at night. He is with friends or family who may be travelling on the other side of the world.  He is under the earth and above the earth. He is at the very distant edges of the furthest galaxies we can see with our biggest telescopes.  He is everywhere!

This truth should make us feel two things at the same time.  Uneasy and comforted. I know those two things don’t usually go together, but think about why…  

It’s a little scary to think that God sees everything.  That means He sees us when we are mean or angry or bad. We cannot hide from Him, even if we try.

However, it’s comforting to know that God is with us, because that means that even when we may feel alone or scared we don’t need to - God is there.  On our hardest days, and in our darkest moments, God is present - that can give us a thing called peace. Peace is the opposite of being scared or worried.

Because God is all-present (He is everywhere) we can have peace.

Do this Activity:
Set a timer for 3 or 5 minutes and get everyone to go to a different part of the house.  Instruct everyone to pray to God once they find a place by themselves (if needed, direct them to talk to God about the best part of their day or week and to thank Him for things they are thankful for).  

When the timer goes off, come back together to talk about how amazing it is that God was with each of you - in addition to being with other believers all around the world at that same time!

Discuss this Question:
Why is it hard for us to understand that God is everywhere?

October Scripture Memory:
Jeremiah 9:24 - The one who boasts should boast in this, that he understands and knows Me — that I am Yahweh, showing faithful love, justice, and righteousness on the earth, for I delight in these things.

Pray Together

God is All-Knowing (Week Starting September 30, 2018)

Read this Scripture:  
Psalm 139:15-16 (HCSB)
My bones were not hidden from You when I was made in secret, when I was formed in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw me when I was formless; all my days were written in Your book and planned before a single one of them began.

Read this Thought:
What would it be like to know absolutely everything? To know what has happened in the past, what is happening right now in the present and even what will happen in the future? It would be an amazing super hero ability.  

God is the only one who has this ability. We can trust God with our future because He has the whole story in mind.

It’s actually a good thing that we don’t know everything. Imagine how overwhelming it would be to wake up every morning knowing what hard things and bad things were coming in your future. It would make it next to impossible to enjoy the good that we encounter each day. Fortunately God, knowing this, created us without the ability to know ALL things.

Our lack of knowledge is also good because it reminds us that we need God. We are dependent on Him like a baby bird depends on its mother to live. God feeds us knowledge and insight to direct us in the way we should go when we seek Him, but keeps the burden of looking too far down the road on His own shoulders.

Do this Activity:
Look up these verses from the Old Testament (Isaiah 7:14 and Isaiah 53:5-7). Discuss how the Old Testament was written hundreds of years before Jesus came and yet it talks specifically about Him! Talk about how, in just these few verses, we can see that God knows the future.

Ask everyone to say one thing that they can trust God with in their future because He knows everything.

Discuss this Question:
Why does it give you peace that God is all-knowing?

September Scripture Memory:
Deuteronomy 6:4-5 - 4 “Listen, Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is One.  5 Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.

Pray Together

God is Sovereign (Week Starting September 23, 2018)

Read this Scripture:  
Daniel 4:17 (HCSB)
The Most High is ruler over the kingdom of men.  He gives it to anyone He wants and sets the lowliest of men over it.

Read this Thought:
Sovereign is a big and fancy word.  What does it mean? Well, it means that something or someone is supreme, or above, all else.  

God is sovereign.  That means that God is above all else.  Another way we could say this is to state that God is in control.  He is in control of the planets and stars and all of the universe. He is above all governments and kingdoms.  He is in charge of all space and time. He is sovereign over everyone… Even you!

There once was a very great king called Nebuchadnezzar (isn’t that an impressive name).  He lived several thousand years ago and was king over all the earth. But he had a problem.  He thought that he was awesome, amazing and wonderful. He forgot that God was much more awesome, amazing and wonderful than anyone - even great kings.  God in His goodness had to interrupt Nebuchadnezzar's life and remind him that he was just a king and not the One sovereign over all things.

When we think about God’s control we must remember that God is also good.  When we remember that He is both in control and good, we can trust Him with absolutely everything (our day today, our lives and our future).

Do this Activity:
Supplies: A basketball, peppercorn, jelly bean, (or similar sized objects) and a map. Also, find a landmark 1/2 a mile away and 1 1/2 miles away from where you are.

Read this: If the Sun were as big as a basketball (hold up a basketball), the Earth would be like a peppercorn (hold up a peppercorn and compare). Imagine all of life as you know it, everywhere you’ve ever been, all the complexity and wonder of the world are represented by this tiny peppercorn. (Now walk 85 feet from the basketball - take approximately 30 big steps). This is how far the Earth is from the Sun. We don’t call it space for nothing!

The farthest planet from the Sun is Neptune. It’s about the size of a jelly bean and 1/2 a mile away from our Sun (give reference to something a 1/2 mile away).

Eris, discovered in 2005, is a dwarf planet (like Pluto but bigger) and is the farthest planet or dwarf planet from the Sun. It would be the size of a pinhead and 1 1/2 miles away from our basketball-Sun (give reference to something 1 1/2 miles away).

That’s just our solar system. Our Sun is one of 200 billion stars in our galaxy (or maybe 400 billion, scientists don’t know how many little stars there are). And there are other galaxies, probably 100 billion.  God is sovereign over it all!
(NOTE: This activity is adapted from the Gospel DNA curriculum.)

Discuss this Question:
Why is it hard to trust God sometimes?  Why is it good that God is in control?

September Scripture Memory:
Deuteronomy 6:4-5 - 4 “Listen, Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is One.  5 Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.

Pray Together

God is Trinity (Week Starting September 16, 2018)

Read this Scripture:
2 Corinthians 13:13 (HCSB)
The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with all of you.

Read this Thought:
What is a mystery? A mystery is something that we cannot fully understand. For example, what came first, the chicken or the egg?

As we think about God, we must remember that He is so big that He is even bigger than our understanding. He is a mystery. Yet God is gracious to allow us to know and understand some of all that He is.

The Bible tells us that God is One (see our memory verse below), and at the same time we see that God is represented all throughout the Bible as three Persons - God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. If we only focus on one part of Him, we will miss the fuller, more beautiful picture of who He is. In the Bible there are places where we see all the Persons of God at work together - like when the world was created and when Jesus was baptized.

But how can God be three AND one? That is the mystery. We must trust that who God is, and how He shows Himself to us, is for our good and for His Glory.

Do this Activity:
Grab a sheet of paper and a pen, then draw this picture together.  As you draw, talk about what it means.

Trinity.png

Discuss this Question:
Why is it good that God is 3 in 1 Persons (the Trinity)?

September Scripture Memory:
Deuteronomy 6:4-5 - 4 “Listen, Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is One.  5 Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.

Pray Together

God is Holy (Week Starting September 9, 2018)

Read this Scripture:  
Leviticus 11:44 (HCSB)
For I am Yahweh your God, so you must consecrate yourselves and be holy because I am holy.

Read this Thought:
Holy.  That can be a funny word or a very serious word.  Holey, with an ‘e’ in it, means something that is full of holes - like your favorite pair of old socks that you won’t let anyone throw away.  

However, holy (without the ‘e’) is a very serious word because it describes God.  That word tells us that God is perfect and pure and deserves our love. Not only is God holy, He wants us to be holy like Him - He knows that this is best for us.  Are you holy and pure like God?

Close your eyes and picture that God’s holiness is like a perfect, dazzling, white, new t-shirt.  Now imagine that same shirt with mud and food and all sorts of yucky stains all over it - that’s like us.  Even when we try our best, our sins make it impossible to be holy like God.

Unless…  Well, there actually is one way for us to be holy.  You see Jesus (God’s Son who is Holy too), offers to take our sin (imagine again our dirty shirt) and exchange it for His holiness (His clean shirt).  How good is God, that He would send Jesus to make us holy like Him.

Do this Activity:
There are two ways you could do this activity...  You could watch this video together and talk about it (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DfQc527xsGw).  If you are feeling more adventurous, watch the video beforehand, make sure you have the supplies (Iodine, bleach and water) and do the activity together.  Either way, make sure to talk about how we cannot be holy without Jesus.

Discuss this Question:
Why is being holy like God hard?  How does Jesus help us?

September Scripture Memory:
Deuteronomy 6:4-5 - 4 “Listen, Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is One.  5 Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.

Pray Together

Why Knowing God Matters (Week Starting September 2, 2018)

Read this Scripture:  
Jeremiah 9:23-24 (HCSB)
23 This is what the Lord says:
The wise man must not boast in his wisdom; the strong man must not boast in his strength; the wealthy man must not boast in his wealth.
24 But the one who boasts should boast in this, that he understands and knows Me — that I am Yahweh, showing faithful love, justice, and righteousness on the earth, for I delight in these things.
This is the Lord’s declaration.

Read this Thought:
There are many important things about each and every one of us.  How old we are. When our birthday is. What we like to eat. What are our favorite things to do.  What makes us happy. What makes us sad. These are just a few very important things.

A preacher called A W Tozer once said, “What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.”  Why would he say that? Why would that be more important than anything else? Because God is more important than anything or anyone else - even us!

Even though God is really, really, really, very, very important, He knows us and He wants us to know Him.  How awesome is that! Knowing God is more important than any other thing in our lives. Like the verse from Jeremiah says, knowing God is the thing we should boast about.

Do this Activity:
We are going to learn lots about God in the coming weeks, but you probably already know some things about him.  Get a ball (or something else that you can throw to each other) and sit or stand in a circle. Throw the ball to someone else in the circle and when they catch it they have to say something that is true about God (for example, “God is good” or “God is wise”).

Discuss this Question:
After all we have talked about, why do you think knowing God is so important?

September Scripture Memory:
Deuteronomy 6:4-5 - 4 “Listen, Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is One.  5 Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.

Pray Together