Tag Archives: Bible study for kids

Heavy Lifting

bigstock-Woman-with-her-personal-fitnes-44726662Weights are not my thing. Pinned by the bench press, I feel like a cartoon character with squeaky sound effects while my husband effortlessly lifts weight in three digit numbers.

Down days can pin me too if I’m not careful. When my heart is heavy, I tend to withdraw. Escape. Hole up. And if I don’t watch it, I’m pinned and the negative emotions press on my chest like too much weight on the bar.

Thankfully, God provides a spotter.

Proverbs 25:20 says, “Like one who takes away a garment on a cold day, or like vinegar poured on soda, is one who sings songs to a heavy heart.” I know we hit this verse recently, but it came up again during my quiet time and something jumped out at me. When we looked at this verse before, we talked about the need to refresh others. What caught my eye this time was how.

Sing songs.

God points to music when our hearts feel heavy and we need spotting. Look at these verses:

Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. (Ephesians 5:19-20 NIV)

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. (Colossians 3:16 NIV)

Not only does Paul encourage us to share psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, but he also ties songs—specifically spiritual songs—to an attitude of gratitude.

Why?

Because depression and negativity find it hard to get a grip when we give thanks. Because self-pity withers and dies in the face of gratefulness.

So, take a deep breath and push. Put on some tunes and sing with a thankful heart. You’ll be amazed at what you can bench.

Questions:

What weighs you down?

What do you do when you are sad?

What Christian music encourages you?

How does music help you transition to a positive outlook and a thankful spirit?

Assemble a heavy day playlist.

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More Jars

bigstock-Pottery-1248429Another jar story. I couldn’t resist. Here a full jar begins the story, but by the end, the abundance has been miraculous. This widow is a believer, but her husband’s death has left the family in a financial crisis. She and her boys have nothing to live on, but that’s not the main concern. Creditors threaten to take her children as slaves. She comes to Elisha the prophet willing to do whatever he tells her. Obedient, needing only direction. Elisha sends her to collect all the jars she can find. The boys scurry from house to house asking to borrow any extra jars. Large, small, they slowly fill the small house. Then, she brings out the only thing she has—a little oil. She closes the door and begins to pour.

And pour.

And pour.

And pour.

“When all the jars were full, she said to her son, ‘Bring me another one.’ But he replied, ‘There is not a jar left.’ Then the oil stopped flowing. She went and told the man of God, and he said, ‘Go, sell the oil and pay your debts. You and your sons can live on what is left.’”(2 Kings 4:6,7 NIV)

And guessing from the quality of Jesus’ wine at the wedding in Cana, this would be some EVOO Rachel Ray would proudly use. Imagine the awe, the dropped jaws as the little jar filled big ones. The wonder at God’s provision. The humility of knowing God saw and cared and moved on their behalf.

Cultivate such willingness to obey that all you need is direction.

How? One choice at a time.

“The smallest good act today is the capture of a strategic point from which, a few months later, you may be able to go on to victories you never dreamed of.”  C. S. Lewis

Questions:

How willing are you to obey?

When is obedience easy?

When is it hard?

Does obedience get easier? Is there a process at work?

When has your obedience opened the way for a greater revelation of God?

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Empty Jars

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God, through Elijah, proclaimed a three year drought. To protect His prophet from King Ahab and Queen Jezebel, God hid Elijah by a small brook and provided takeout via Raven Express. Now, the brook is dry too. So God sends Elijah to the beach to a poor widow from Zarephath. Only God neglected to give the widow a heads up.

“So he(Elijah) went to Zarephath. When he came to the town gate, a widow was there gathering sticks. He called to her and asked, “Would you bring me a little water in a jar so I may have a drink?” As she was going to get it, he called, “And bring me, please, a piece of bread.”

“As surely as the LORD your God lives,” she replied, “I don’t have any bread—only a handful of flour in a jar and a little oil in a jug. I am gathering a few sticks to take home and make a meal for myself and my son, that we may eat it—and die.”

Elijah said to her, “Don’t be afraid. Go home and do as you have said. But first make a small cake of bread for me from what you have and bring it to me, and then make something for yourself and your son. For this is what the LORD, the God of Israel says, ‘The jar of flour will not be used up and the jug of oil will not run dry until the day the LORD gives rain on the land.’”(I Kings 17:10-14 NIV)

Here it is. A call to choose: what she wants vs. what God wants. God says feed my guy; her mother’s instinct says my boy is hungry. This poor widow in Zarephath has every right to tell this crazy old prophet to get lost. This is their last meal—one piece of bread—and then they will starve. Note how she refers to God: the LORD your God.

Yet, for some reason, she obeys. She gives away their last bite of food.

And a miracle happens. The jar and the jug are full.

God calls us to give up our right to ourselves. He wants us to zero in on one choice only—His. What shape has your call taken? Talk to the kid everyone ignores? Not cuss when the guys in the locker room do? Cut off the gossip before it starts? Tithe? Take turns with your sibling? Give your husband ten minutes before sharing the kids with him? Return the favor for your wife?

Our call may come one hundred times a day. Look to the One calling and remember, He will keep the jar full.

Questions:

Reread the passage. What stands out?

What would you have done in her shoes? What do you think her reaction was when the jars didn’t empty?

Did Elijah’s God ever become her God? What kind of discussions might she and Elijah have?

How do you think Elijah felt? God sent him to a Gentile woman. By Jewish law, Elijah shouldn’t be in her house. What rights did Elijah give up?

What is God calling you to choose? Do you think He will come through for you?

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My Hands Are Full

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“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5: 3 NIV)

Once upon a time, there was a little girl. She loved to dress up. Hats, shoes, scarves, and lipstick. She had a favorite necklace of little plastic pearls and she wore it everywhere. One night, Daddy came to tuck her in bed. He asked his little girl to give him the precious necklace.

“No, Daddy. It’s mine. It’s my favorite,” she said.

“Ok. You keep it.” He kissed her goodnight and she went to sleep. Night after night, he asked her for the necklace. Night after night, she refused. One night, tears streaming down her cheeks, she handed him the little plastic pearls.

“Thank you, sweetheart,” Daddy said. “I’m been waiting to give you these.” He took out a strand of real pearls and placed them around her neck.

Keep this story in mind as we take a look at the verse above from Matthew.

Poor.

Empty-handed.

Not positives where we live. We like full things. Full bellies. Full gas tanks. Closets, houses, hands—full. But look. To the poor is given the kingdom, the real pearls.

God can’t fill hands or hearts that are already full. What’s filling your hands, your heart, your schedule? Is it plastic or genuine? Temporal or eternal? Yes, work, school, those things are musts, but what about the rest? What’s eating the rest of your time? TV, electronics, endless activities?

As the schedule takes shape for this school year, clear some space for God:

  • Keep a Bible at the table and read as you munch your Cheerios in the morning
  • Tape a memory verse to the bathroom mirror
  • Play praise music and pray in the car

Let go of the plastic. Turn to the One whose gifts will leave you speechless.

Questions:

Look at your week’s schedule. ID the plastic. (Not the have to’s, rather the good that pushes out the best.) ID the genuine.

What can you let go to make room for the real stuff?

Start small. To what one thing will you commit to turn your attention to God?

Get ready for distractions. What is most likely to throw you off your commitment this week? How will you fight it?

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Are You Being Watched?

cross-training“No king is saved by the size of his army; no warrior escapes by his great strength. A horse is a vain hope for deliverance; despite all its great strength it cannot save. But the eyes of the LORD are on those who fear him, on those whose hope is in his unfailing love, to deliver them from death and keep them alive in famine.” (Psalm 33: 16-19 NIV)

Big armies. Strong warriors. Fast horses. All impressive. As an athlete, I admire strength, discipline, and muscle. God, however, looks elsewhere. Check out verse 18:

“But the eyes of the LORD are on those who fear him, on those whose hope is in his unfailing love”

My oldest currently trains for a spot in the Navy’s special operations forces. Muscles, strength, and discipline abound. His training is top notch and if anyone is prepared for battle, it’s his group of guys. As thankful as I am for his training, my hope for him rests with God. God holds my son’s life regardless of the size of the enemy army, the battle conditions, or the weapons used.

The same holds true in the civilian world of Starbucks and soccer practice. Do any of these challenges ring true?

Workplace: the boss, competitors, the economy

Home: overbooked schedule, marriage maintenance, parenting

School: peer pressure, tests, friend issues

It’s easy to be overwhelmed by an outward show of strength.(My calendar/to-do list can paralyze me in seconds if I let it.) Yet, God makes a promise to those who fear Him, whose trust is in His unfailing love. God has their back. He delivers them and keeps them alive during famines of all kinds.

Where are you putting your hope? Your 401K? Your marriage? Your BFF?

Or are you growing respect for God? Are you building trust in His love? If you are, you’re being watched. You can count on it.

Questions:Kings, armies, horses—places ancient peoples put their hope. Where do people place their hope and trust today? (This varies for adults, teens, preteens, and kids. Take turns sharing.)

Talk through the things people place their hope in today. Discuss what would happen if each were to fail or fall through.

Is it hard to put God first, to fear Him as Scripture counsels? Why? Is it a busyness thing or a trust/faith issue?

What is God doing in verses 18-19? What is the purpose of His watchfulness?

How can this impact the rest of your day? Tomorrow?

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Unchained

cross-training“Paul replied, ‘Short time or long—I pray God that not only you but all who are listening to me today may become what I am, except for these chains.’”(Acts 26:29)

Shackles.

Unwieldy things. Heavy. Noisy. They don’t go with anything, yet Paul wore these less than lovely accessories for over four years. Look at the final verse of Acts:

“Boldly and without hindrance he preached the kingdom of God and taught about

the Lord Jesus Christ.”(Acts 28:31)

Boldly, clinking and clanking with every step, yet without hindrance.

Are you dragging some chains? Demands at work? Demands at home? A wounded heart? How about the kids? Oh, kids wear chains too. Sticks and stones may break bones, but words can cause internal bleeding and sometimes, chains. Chains like:

Anxiety over tests and grades

Sibling rivalry

Body or image issues

But look at Paul. Boldly. Without hindrance. In spite of his chains.

Paul’s God was bigger. So big, the chains were overshadowed and forgotten.

God’s bigger than our chains too. Look past the chains and focus on Him. Allow the shackles to dwindle in the light of His Presence. Be bold. All things are possible.

Questions:

What chains are you dragging? Worry, pressure, hurt feelings, insecurity?

How have they hindered you? What have you been afraid to do because of ___________?

Paul is arrested in Acts 21. Skim through Acts 21-28. Look at Paul’s physical situation and contrast it to his spiritual state.

Bring your chains to Jesus and ask for help in overcoming them. Keep a journal over the next several days and weeks. Record His response.

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This Person Will Self-Destruct in Five, Four. . .

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“A man’s own folly ruins his life, yet his heart rages against the LORD.”(Proverbs 19:3)

Have you ever tried to help someone who was obviously in need only to have them refuse your help? Then, you watched as they went their own way, only to crash and burn. A brother or sister, a best friend, even a child?

Look at the verse above. Scripture defines folly as foolishness or poor choices, especially when one knows better. Solomon says folly ruins one’s life. We’ve all seen it. A choice you knew was a bad one—but they chose it anyway. Choices to:

  • Disobey
  • Hurt someone
  • Take unnecessary risk

Solomon tells us this person’s heart rages against the LORD and His loving correction. Like my dog Zuno when his ears hurt. He snaps at me when I try to help. When he yields and lets me put medicine in his ears, he gets better.

Do you snap or submit?

Do you stop and listen to wise counsel? Or, when someone tries to head off a wrong choice, are you like Zuno who snarls and runs from the medicine? Learning to stop and count the cost takes practice. Keeping emotions and a strong will in check requires a partnership with God. Now is not too early to start.

Cultivate a responsive spirit instead of one that will self-destruct.

Questions:

How do you respond to correction? Be honest.

How can we test the counsel of others to see if it is wise and to see if it applies to us?(Not all counsel is good.)

What can help you submit rather than snap? (Phil. 4:4-9 How many ideas can you find in this passage?)

How can you cultivate a responsive spirit to God? (Colossians 3:23-24, Galatians 5:16-17,22-25)

How can you give good counsel and increase the chances of it being received? (Phil. 4:3-11)

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