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Archive for January 2015

10 Benefits of Teenagers (and Families) Serving

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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

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

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)