10 Benefits of Teenagers (and Families) Serving

By | January 30, 2015

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Community service is now a graduation requirement at many U.S. high schools. That may be one reason volunteerism is on the rise among young people today.

But another is that teenagers are recognizing the value and joy of helping to meet other people’s needs and finding significance by serving a purpose. This millennial generation craves making a difference in the world, and today’s teenagers are actively searching for ways to engage and serve.

For Christian teenagers, serving is an important practice of connecting their faith to something real and tangible, and understanding God’s call on our lives to love and serve others.

As you and your family are entering this new year, explore the variety of serving opportunities that exist for your teenagers and for your whole family in your local church, community organizations, camps and family-friendly mission trips.

 

  • Service gives teenagers a sense of significance, purpose and worth. Living out the greatest commandment to love others connects kids to something much bigger and significant than themselves and their struggle for identity in a me-driven culture.
  • Service takes teenagers out of their comfort zones. The challenge of tackling something new makes kids pay attention, work as a team, face obstacles, and expands their capacity for overcoming hardship.
  • Service teaches kids to rely more directly on God—and helps them grow closer to him in the process…making their faith something they own, not something forced on them.
  • Service leverages new, meaningful relationships with like-minded peers. Teenagers are exposed to new peers and mentors who share the values of service and living out their faith.
  • Service makes kids appreciate how fortunate they are. Helping others in need puts life into perspective and makes kids count their blessings.
  • Service makes people in need become real and human.Teenagers gain a greater sense of respect and value for every life, as well as sensitivity to how God can use them to touch others with His love.
  • Service creates a hunger for God. Kids who serve realize they’re also serving God in the process and often desire to get to know Him better.
  • Service builds a wide range of life skills. Teenagers learn responsibility, tolerance, accountability, good citizenship, compassion, friendliness, acceptance, self-control, determination, endurance, and dependability.
  • Service encourages young people to be salt and light. Kids share their Christian faith with people by demonstrating God’s love in practical, tangible ways.
  • Service becomes a habit. When teenagers help others, they establish a lifestyle of service that often carries over into adulthood.

Elijah Ran from Jezebel

By | January 24, 2015

Our story for today talks about Elijah sleeping under a broom tree. Unlike its name would suggest, it does not have large sweeping branches and leaves. In fact, it is just the opposite. A broom tree is actually a desert shrub with long slender branches, small leaves, and white fragrant blossoms. It has a large canopy which provides only a small amount of shade in the desert.

In Israel the white broom tree was used as kindling for stoves. The roots, trunks, and branches were used for coals because they retained the heat for long periods of time. A traveler through the desert would celebrate finding a broom tree. Although not much, it would provide some shade dur- ing the daylight hours. The traveler could then use the branches for a fire to cook his meal. He would cover the embers from the fire with 2-4 inches of sand for a cozy, warm mattress during the cold, desert night.

Screen Shot 2015-01-18 at 8.24.08 AMElijah found new strength under the canopy of a broom tree. He found shade to rest during the day, bread was cooked for a meal, and he may have used the embers to warm his bed at night.

God used the attributes of a broom tree to renew Elijah’s strength and spirit.

 

Review: Last week we learned how God showed Israel once again that He is the one true God. King Ahab and Queen Jezebel led Israel to worship Baal. Elijah, God’s prophet, challenged the prophets of Baal. Whichever god called down fire and burned up the sacrifice would prove that he was the one true God.

The God of Israel easily won the challenge. What did God do to make sure there was no doubt that He was GOD? God burned up the wood, altar, stones, and even the water in the trench. Israel cried out saying, “The Lord He is God!”

 

Scripture Reading: I Kings 19

Memory Verse: “Turn from your evil ways. Observe my commands and decrees in accordance with the entire Law that I com- manded your fathers to obey” 2 Kings 17:13b

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TALK

  1. Elijah had just witnessed a miracle of God against the false god Baal. God also ended a drought in the land. Elijah should have been celebrating. Instead, he was afraid and on the run. What was the reason for Elijah’s behavior?

    Queen Jezebel, a Baal worshipper, heard about what was done on Mt. Carmel, and said she was going to kill Elijah.

  2. Elijah went into the desert where he sat under a tree to pray. What did Elijah say to God?

    Elijah told God that he had enough and wanted to die; then he went to sleep.

  3. Elijah had very quickly forgotten the power of almighty God. We are often like Elijah. Has there been a time when you gave up because you had forgotten what God had done for you?
  4. An angel came and fed Elijah. How long did Elijah travel after eating the food? Where did Elijah go?

    Elijah traveled for forty days and forty nights. The Bible states that Elijah was strengthened by the food; this seems to indicate that the food gave Elijah supernatural strength to travel for so long without needing more food. Elijah traveled until he reached Mt. Horeb. This is an alternative name for Mt. Sinai where God gave Moses the Ten Command- ments.

  5. God told Elijah that He was going to pass by. What four things happened and at what point did God speak to Elijah?

    There was a powerful wind, but God was not in the wind. There was an earthquake, but God was not in the earthquake. There was fire, but God was not in the fire. There was a gentle whisper. It was then God spoke to Elijah.

  6. What good news did God bring Elijah, and what did God tell Elijah to do? God told Elijah that there were 7,000 Jehovah-worshippers that had escaped death. Elijah was to anoint Hazael as king over Aram, Jehu as king over Israel, and Elisha to succeed him as prophet.

This is a wonderful story of God’s compassion and provision for his servant, Elijah. Psalm 103:13- 14 says, “As a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him; for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust.” Even when we forget what God has done for us, He still loves us and wants only what is good for us.

PRAY

Use your prayer time giving praise and adoration to God for who He is. Use the following verses to praise God for His characteristics:
  • God the Protector: Psalm 5:11 “But let all who take refuge in you be glad; let them ever sing for joy. Spread your protection over them, that those who love your name may rejoice in you.”
  • God the Provider: Philippians 4:19 “And my God will meet all your needs according to his glo- rious riches in Christ Jesus.”
  • God is With You: Jeremiah 29:13 “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”• God is Almighty: Ephesians 6:10 “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.”

 

DO

Cut out the cards found Unit 13 – Names of God and display them for all to see. Discuss the names of God and what they mean. Read the following verses one at a time and see if your family can match the characteristic of God with what Elijah experienced.

I Kings 19:6—Jehovah Jireh

I Kings 19:8—El Shaddai

I Kings 19:11-13—Jehovah Shammah

I Kings 19:18—Jehovah Sabaoth

 

(Vista Dublin lesson January 25th, Vista Worthington Lesson, February 15th)

Elijah Confronted Evil Ahab

By | January 18, 2015

The Bible describes King Ahab as one that “did more evil in the eyes of the Lord than any of those before him”. Although he was following in his father’s footsteps, his wife, Jezebel, greatly influenced his actions against Jehovah (I Kings 16:30-34).

Queen Jezebel was the daughter of a Phoenician king. She was a worshipper of Baal, a reference in the Bible to any false god. This means that when Jezebel married Ahab, she not only brought her servants with her, but she brought the presence of numerous false gods with her into the pal- ace. Jezebel not only worshipped Baal, but she also displayed such a hatred for Jehovah- worshippers, that she started a campaign (with the approval of Ahab) to have them all killed. The prophets of Baal were given national prominence, with some even living within the royal palace.

When the Israelites entered the Promised Land, one of the first commands that God gave to them was not to intermarry with other nations. God’s reasoning was because the other nations would turn Israel away from God and cause them to worship false gods. Ahab and Jezebel were perfect examples of God’s prediction being fulfilled.

God gives commands to help us be fully committed to Him so that we will not turn away and waste our time on other gods. Think about the examples of Israel’s and Judah’s kings and what hap- pened because they served false gods. Do you choose the gods of Israel or the GOD of Judah?

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Review:  Last week we learned about the kings of Israel, the Northern Kingdom. We read about five different kings, all of which were evil and caused Israel to sin. Their sinful leadership caused Israel to be a nation full of trouble and constant change. In the time of forty years, Israel had 5 different kings.

The Southern Kingdom, Judah, was just the opposite. During the same forty years, Judah had just one king because the Bible says that he was fully com- mitted to God. What was the king of Judah’s name? King Asa

Scripture Reading

This is the most important part of family worship. If you don’t have time to do anything else, be sure to do this section.    I Kings 18

 

Memory Verse

“Turn from your evil ways. Observe my commands and de- crees in accordance with the entire Law that I commanded your fathers to obey” 2 Kings 17:13b Screen Shot 2015-01-18 at 8.24.08 AM

Talk: 

  1. Who was Elijah and who was Ahab?

    Elijah was a prophet chosen by God to bring His message to Israel; Ahab was the king of the Northern Kingdom; he was a very wicked king.

  2. The people of Israel were going back and forth between worshipping God and worshipping Baal. Elijah gave the prophets of Baal a challenge. What was it?

    Elijah wanted the people to see for themselves who the real God was. They set up two altars, each with a bull to sacrifice. Would Baal or would God send down fire to burn up the sacrifice?

  3. What did the prophets of Baal do to get fire sent down to burn up the sacrifice?

    They danced, shouted, and even cut themselves with knives. Of course, they were doing all this for nothing. Baal was just an idol. He was not a god of any kind. No fire came.

  4. What did Elijah do?

    First he laid twelve stones at the base of the altar representing the twelve tribes of Israel. Then he had the people pour water over the sacrifice three times. He then prayed a simple prayer of faith asking God to show the people His power. Immediately fire fell from the sky, burned up the sacrifice, the altar, the water, and the dirt.

  5. How did the people respond when they saw God send the fire?

    They fell down on their faces and cried out, “The Lord He is God! The Lord He is God!”

  6. The people of Israel were going back and forth between worshipping God and living for Him, and worshipping the idols of the world and living for them. In what ways are we just like the children of Israel?

    Talk about how easy it is to live for Christ in some situations, but act totally different at other times. As an example, you can compare how a person acts in church to how that same person might act at home .

This is a good opportunity to talk about hypocrisy and how God desires for us to be fully committed to Him at all times.

 

PRAY:

God not only sent fire from heaven, but everything on the altar including the dust around it was burned. God left no doubt that He was the one true God. He wanted His children to turn back to Him. God is the same God today as He was on Mt. Carmel. He desires His children to be fully committed to Him. Use your prayer time as a commitment to be a family that is fully committed to God. Use Joshua 24:15 as your prayer of commitment.

 

DO:

Supplies

  • Graham crackers
  • Animal crackers
  • Red licorice
  • Mini marshmallows
  • Pretzel sticks
  • Frosting—chocolate will make it taste like a S’more

Procedure

1. Give each person 1/2 a graham cracker

2. Frost the graham cracker

3. Place marshmallows on graham cracker representing the stones for the altar

4. Frost the top of the marshmallows

5. Place pretzels on marshmallows representing the wood

6. Each person choose an animal cracker and frost the back of it

7. Place animal on “wood” representing the sacrifice 8. Arrange licorice “fire” and attach to the sacrifice

(Vista Dublin lesson January 18th, Vista Worthington Lesson, February 1st)

Snowy Day Family Devotionals

By | January 12, 2015

Build an Igloo: Create a refuge from the wind in an outdoor igloo.  If inside, use a white tablecloth or blanket to cover a table and create a much warmer version.

Read Psalm 147:15-18:  “He sends His command to the earth; His word runs swiftly.  He spreads the snow like wool and scatters the frost like ashes. He hurls down his hail like pebbles. Who can withstand His icy blast? He sends his word and melts them; he stirs up his breezes, and the waters flow.”

  • Where does the snow come from?
  • Who designs every flake?
  • What does the snow tell you about God?  What is its purpose?
  • What are your favorite memories of winter?  Share stories.

Read some of your child’s favorite books about snow.  Some popular children’s picture books on the subject include:  The Jacket I Wear in the Snow, The Mitten, The Snowmen, Snowballs, Snowflake Bentley, and many Laura Ingalls Wilder books.

 

Look out the Window: Pull up a chair and a cup of hot cocoa and watch the snowflakes fall.

Read Psalm 148:7-13:  “Praise the LORD from the earth, you great sea creatures and all ocean depths, lightning and hail, snow and clouds, stormy winds that do his bidding, you mountains and all hills, fruit trees and all cedars, wild animals and all cattle, small creatures and flying birds, kings of the earth and all nations, you princes and all rulers on earth, young men and women, old men and children. Let them praise the name of the LORD, for his name alone is exalted.”

  • Who is meant to praise the Lord?
  • How does snow praise God?
  • How can we praise Him today?

Read Isaiah 55:9-11:  “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.”

  • What is the purpose of snow?
  • What does it do for the earth?
  • In these verses, God compares rain and snow to what?
  • What does His word do?
  • Why should it be important to us?

 

Construct Snowflakes: Take a square white piece of paper and fold it into a triangle.   Repeat the triangular fold.  With scissors, cut out shapes and designs along the sides of the triangle.  Open the snowflake, glue it to a sturdier piece of paper, add glitter, attach a ribbon, and hang as a mobile.  Create multiple snowflakes.

  • Discuss how each snowflake is a new creation of God.
  • If God takes such great care to design each flake, how much more care did He take in designing you?

Read Psalm 119:14, “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.”

  • Ask your child to identify the gifts that God has given them.  Take this opportunity to love your child with encouragement, with statements like, “I love how God put sensitivity on your heart.  You care deeply about others.”  Or, “I love how God made you aggressive.  You will fight for what is right and I am proud of that.”

 

Go Ice Skating: Take your skates to the nearest rink and practice standing firm.  Have them think about what is needed to stand upright and not fall.  For preschool children, attach wax paper to their feet, turn on some praise music, and have them go ice skating indoors.

Read 1 Corinthians 16:13-14, “Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong.  Do everything in love.

  • Discuss how hard it is to stand firm on a slippery surface.  It takes a lot of practice, balance, and hard work.  It is also difficult to stand firm in this world of sin.  The same characteristics are needed to not fall.
  • What can we do as a family to help you stand firm in your faith?
  • Will you be willing to help me be courageous in mine?

Read Psalm 121: 2-4, “My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth.  He will not let your foot slip- he who watches over you will not slumber; indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.

 

Make Footprints in the Snow: Observe your own prints in the back yard.  Spell out words in the snow for others to read.  Look for other prints also and attempt to identify them.

Read Psalm 77:18-20, “Your thunder was heard in the whirlwind, your lightning lit up the world; the earth trembled and quaked.  Your path led through the sea, your way through the mighty waters, though your footprints were not seen. You led your people like a flock by the hand of Moses and Aaron.”

  • Discuss how God saved the Israelites from the Egyptians.
  • Were God’s footprints seen?
  • How did they know that it was Him who was saving them?  Though God doesn’t leave visible footprints, He does direct our steps and assures us that He is there.
  • How does He do that?
  • Have you ever felt God with you?  What was that like?

Can you think of someone whose footprints you would like to follow?  For example, someone who loves God and shows it with his or her life?  Tell me what you notice about that person.  We all need good examples in our lives.  Write a thank you to that person.

What about us?  Are we making footprints that follow God or are we leading others in a wrong direction?  Who may be following us?  Who can we be a good example for?

 

What are some of your favorite things to do in the winter with your family?  How have you incorporated God’s Word into this season?  Please leave a comment below and explain!

 

Israel’s History of Evil Kings

By | January 10, 2015

In I Samuel 8, the nation of Israel demanded that Samuel give them a king. They wanted someone who would lead them and fight their battles for them; someone who would save them from their enemies. They thought things would be better with an earthly king. They wanted some- thing more than what God had already given them. As a result, the books of Kings and Chronicles are filled with stories of how Israel was defeated because of their evil kings.

This sin of discontent was a familiar one. In Genesis, Adam and Eve were tempted and gave in to the very same sin. They thought things would be better if they ate the forbidden fruit. They wanted something more than what God had already provided for them. They, too, rejected God as their king. The consequences of their sin affected the entire human race causing all to be born with a sinful nature.

Immediately following the sin of Adam and Eve, God promised to send a Savior. He would be a King that would fight all battles and defeat all enemies. He would be a King that would always be righteous. God’s promise was fulfilled in Jesus Christ. He has all power and even conquered death. He is the one to whom all praise should be given.

He is the KING OF KINGS!

 

Screen Shot 2015-01-10 at 2.59.44 PMLast week we learned about the importance of God’s Word in our lives. It is a light that shines on the path that God wants for us to take. This means that God’s Word shows us how we should live in order to please Him.

Solomon wrote an entire book (Ecclesiastes) talking about all of the things he had accumulated and experienced in his life. Although he had great wis- dom and wealth, Solomon claimed that none of those things were important.

What did Solomon say was the only thing that mattered in life?

Fear God and keep his commandments

 

Scripture Reading

*This is the most important part of family worship. If you don’t have time to do anything else, be sure to do this section.

I Kings 16

Screen Shot 2015-01-10 at 3.01.54 PMMemory Verse : “Turn from your evil ways. Observe my commands and decrees in accordance with the entire Law that I commanded your fathers to obey” 2 Kings 17:13b

Talk

  1. In I Kings 16, we read about the history of Israel, the Northern Kingdom. What were the names of Israel’s kings and how many years did each one reign?

    Baasha 24 years; Elah 2 years; Zimri 7 days; Omri 12 years; Ahab 22 years

  2. Each of Israel’s kings were described in the same way. How does the Bible describe them?

    Read verses 7, 13, 19, 25, and 30. “he did evil in the eyes of the Lord”; “because of all the sins Baasha and his son Elah had committed and caused Israel to commit”; “doing evil in the eyes of the Lord”; “Omri did evil in the eyes of the Lord”; “Ahab did more evil in the eyes of the Lord than any of those before him”.

  3. The kings did evil and led the people to sin, so their reigns and lives were cut short..

    Read 1 Kings 15:9,14; 2 Chronicles 15:8,15,17. Asa was the king of the Southern King- dom, Judah. How does the Bible describe his reign differently than that of Israel’s kings? “Asa’s heart was fully committed to the Lord all his life”; “he removed the detestable idols from the whole land of Judah”; “they sought God eagerly”

  4. Asa reigned 40 years while the Northern Kingdom had 5 different kings.

    Read 2 Chronicles 16:9a. How does it say God rewards those who are committed to Him? God gives strength to those who are fully committed to him. Asa showed his commitment by getting rid of the idols in Judah. How can we show that our hearts are fully commit- ted to God?

  5. The nation of Israel asked God to give them a king, but no king was perfect; they all failed. God had a plan to lead his people back to him. God sent His Son, Jesus Christ, the one and only perfect king. Philippians 2:10-11 says, “that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

PRAY:

  • What ways do you not allow God to be king in your life? Confess those to God.
  • What can you work on this week to show that your heart is fully committed to God? Ask God to help you keep your commitment.
  • Praise God that He is the one and only perfect king who deserves all praise.

 

DO:

  • Ahead of time, download the crowns Unit 13 Session 1 Activity, print and cut out crowns on next pages
  • On each crown write 1-2 descriptions of that king; hang up for all to see
  • Cut out 6 circles; put either a smiley face or a frown on each circle representing each king’s rule
  • Attach faces under each crown

 

(Vista Dublin lesson January 11th, Vista Worthington Lesson, January 25th) 

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