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Archive for 40 Days

Hezekiah, Judah’s Faithful King

Israel was God’s chosen people, the only nation on earth that was directly under the leadership of God. Beginning with Moses, God chose leaders with whom He communicated messages to Israel. These leaders would consult God regarding decisions and await God’s verbal response before proceeding. This did not last, however, as the people of Israel became dissatisfied. They compared themselves to other nations and wanted to be like them. They wanted to have a king to rule them and fight for them. What a strange request as they already had the King of all Kings doing that for them!

Their pursuit for what they considered a “perfect” king began with Saul. Saul immediately began to do things his own way. His not-so-perfect reign ended with him falling on his own sword. King David was next, and although he sought after God, he, too, was imperfect. Many kings of Israel would come and go, some righteous and many wicked, but there was no perfect king to be found. They already had a perfect king under God’s leadership, but they were blinded by dissatisfaction and covetousness.

Their pursuit for a perfect king ended in hopelessness and despair. It was a futile pursuit, as there was no perfect earthly king. The only perfect king would be one with no sin. In Isaiah 9:6–7, God describes the perfect king

and a perfect kingdom: “Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that tim

e on and forever.” Isaiah’s prophecy was referring to the coming of Jesus Christ, the promised

Messiah. He is the perfect King because He is perfect.

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Review: Last week, we learned King Ahaz was confronted by the prophet Isaiah with a message from God. Ahaz was a wicked king who did not follow the ways of the Lord. Ahaz was terrified because Judah was threatened with an attack. Isaiah told Ahaz not to be afraid, but Ahaz did not believe. His faith was weak because he did not live right in the eyes of the Lord.

What sign did God give to Ahaz? God promised to send a Son who would be called Immanuel, meaning “God with us.”

Scripture Reading: Reading God’s Word is the most important part of family worship. If you don’t have time to do anything else, be sure to do this section.   2 Kings 18:3–6; 13–16; 19:14–19; 32–37.

Memory Verse: Isaiah 53:6: “We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way, and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all”

TALK

Hezekiah was king to the Southern Kingdom, Judah. Hezekiah was a righteous king who kept the commands of the Lord. He led Judah back to worshipping the true God.

  • What does verse 7 say is the result of Hezekiah’s faithfulness to God?
    • The Lord was with him and he was successful in whatever he did.
      • If the Bible recorded your life, what would it say about you? Would you be listed among those who did right in the eyes of the Lord or among those who did not follow the ways of the Lord?
      • Following Hezekiah’s example, what can you do to be among those who follow God? What “false idols” in your life need to be destroyed?
  • In 2 Kings 18:3–6 we are introduced to King Hezekiah, son of Ahaz. How does the Bible describe Hezekiah?
    • He did what was right in the eyes of the Lord; destroyed false idols and high places of worship; he trusted in the Lord God of Israel; there was no other king of Judah like him.
  • Although Hezekiah was a righteous king, he was not perfect. What did Hezekiah do when the king of Assyria (Sennacherib) attacked and captured the fortified cities of Judah?
    • Hezekiah apologized to Sennacherib and offered him money to leave Judah alone. Sennacherib demanded a huge amount of money—more money than Hezekiah had.
  • What did Hezekiah do to get all the money?
    • He took all the silver and gold that was for the temple of the Lord; he even stripped off the gold that covered the doors and doorposts of the temple. Hezekiah allowed fear to control his decisions. He put his trust in himself instead of the Almighty God.

 

  • Hezekiah was confident that God would protect Judah from its enemies. He used successful strategies to encourage His people and to defeat the enemy:
    • Hezekiah humbled himself before the Lord (2 Kings 18:37–19:2).
    • Hezekiah sought godly counsel (2 Kings 19:2–4).
    • Hezekiah took his troubles to the Lord (2 Kings 19:14–19).
    • Hezekiah trusted God to defend him as He promised (2 Kings 19:34).

The same strategies used by Hezekiah can be used by those in God’s army today against the enemy, the Devil. In order to be a part of God’s army, you must first accept Jesus as your Savior (see Basics of Salvation page in back of this guide). God can be trusted to hear and answer our prayers according to His will. His answers are far greater than what we would expect or think possible.

PRAY

Humble yourself before the Lord acknowledging Him as the Almighty God

Bring any requests you have before God

Trust God to answer your requests in His way and His time

 

DO

Arm wrestle with your kids and other family members. Have fun but donʼt hurt anyone. Ask: “How easy was it to arm wrestle me? How easy do you think it would be if you

could arm wrestle God? Do you think I could win an arm-wrestling contest against God?”

Invite your family to think of things that are very strong. Make a list. Ask: “Is God stronger than all of these things?” Read John 10:27-29. Talk about Godʼs ability to keep those who love Him secure in His plan.

Recall the fact that Hezekiah was a king who understood that his sin separated him from God. Hezekiah became sorry for his sin, and God forgave Hezekiah. Hezekiah led the people of Judah to worship God like they were supposed to.

Spend some time worshiping God by singing and through prayer.

(Vista Dublin lesson: April 19th, Vista Worthington: May 3rd)

Family Resources for Lent

The season of Lent has begun! This Christian tradition started on Ash Wednesday (February 18th) and ends on Holy Saturday (April 4th) – the day before Easter Sunday.

The 40 days of Lent (Sundays are not counted in the 40 days, because Sunday is the day of resurrection) reflect the 40 days that Christ was tempted in the desert, and are a time of preparation for Easter. The focus of Lent is on self-denial, sacrifice, and simplicity; a time when Christians reflect on all that Christ “gave up” by dying on the cross. Many Christians use this time for fasting and prayer; as a period of spiritual reflection, soul-searching, and renewal, and many choose to “give up” something as a personal sacrifice during this period.  The Holy Spirit ministers to our souls and changes our hearts… but our part is not passive! Do we cultivate the disciplines (like solitude, fasting and prayer) that put the plow to the ground for the Spirit to work? Having spent the first part of 2015 growing as Worshipful, Relational and Missional people through our “Kingdom DNA” series, let’s plant some seeds of discipline to allow the Spirit to grow us and our families into more of who He’s made us to be — fruitful followers of Jesus!

Below are some wonderful resources for families to participate together:

  • Sense of the Resurrection -12 activities leads families through Jesus’ anointing to the empty tomb – Please email Melinda Woody for more information.
  • Recreate the Passover meal – Help children experience the Passover meal that Christ partook with his disciples as the last supper
  • Easter tree – Similar to a Jesse tree at Christmas time, the Easter tree is a fun way for kids to celebrate and learn about the different aspects of the Easter story by placing symbolic ornaments on a homemade tree.
  • Give up something – Lent is a time of sacrifice. Have each member of the family choose something they will give up during the season of Lent. Some suggestions: television, chocolate, a favorite toy, computer games, certain music.
  • Make Resurrection Rolls. This is a favorite activity for my kids! Marshmallows represent Jesus’ body going into the “tomb” of crescent rolls. When they come out of the oven, Jesus’ body (the marshmallow) is gone!
  • Act out the Resurrection Story, or Passion Play, as a family.

Share with us how your family is participating in Lent together.  We would love to hear and see the pictures.

Don’t forget about other opportunities to be together as a family.

Mid-40 days reflective gatherings

Vista Dublin: Wed., March 4, 6 – 8 p.m. Come and go as you please | Dublin Rec. Center

Vista Worthington: Wed., March 11, 7 p.m. Griswold Center ~child care provided for gatherings

Easter Sunday Services  Sunday, April 5th

Vista Dublin: 9 & 11 a.m. at Dublin Jerome High School

Vista Worthington: 9:45 a.m. at Marcus Theatres

Lent 101

Lent is a season of the Christian Year where Christians focus on simple living, prayer, and fasting in order to grow closer to God.

 

When is Lent?

It’s the forty days before Easter. Lent excludes Sundays because every Sunday is like a little Easter. This year it’s from Ash Wednesday February 18th to Holy Saturday April 4th.

 

So the real beginning of Lent is Ash Wednesday?

Yes. Ash Wednesday, the day after Mardi Gras, usually begins with a service where we recognize our mortality, repent of our sins, and return to our loving God. We recognize life as a precious gift from God, and return our lives towards Jesus Christ. We may make resolutions and commit to change our lives over the next forty days so that we might be more like Christ. In an Ash Wednesday service, usually a minister or priest marks the sign of the cross on a person’s forehead with ashes.

 

Why ashes?

In Jewish and Christian history, ashes are a sign of mortality and repentance. Mortality, because when we die, our bodies eventually decompose and we become dust/ dirt/ash/whatever. Repentance, because long ago, when people felt remorse for something they did, they would put ashes on their head and wear “sackcloth” (scratchy clothing) to remind them that sin is pretty uncomfortable and leads to a sort of death of the spirit. This was their way of confessing their sins and asking for forgiveness.

 

Where do the ashes come from?

On what we now call Palm Sunday, Jesus rode a donkey into Jerusalem while people waved palms and cheered him on. Less then a week later, Jesus was killed. The palms that were waved in joy became ashes of sorrow. We get ashes for Ash Wednesday by saving the palms from Palm Sunday, burning them, and mixing them with a little water (like tears) or oil. It’s symbolic.

 

What do Christians do with ashes?

At an Ash Wednesday service, folks are invited to come forward to receive the ashes. The minister will make a small cross on your forehead by smudging the ashes. While the ashes remind us of our mortality and sin, the cross reminds us of Jesus’ resurrection (life after death) and forgiveness. It’s a powerful, non-verbal way that we can experience God’s forgiveness and renewal as we return to Jesus.

 

So what is LENT?

At Jesus’ baptism the sky split open, the Spirit of God, which looked like a dove, descended and landed on Jesus, and a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, My Beloved, with whom I am pleased.” Afterward, as told in Matthew 4:1-11, Jesus was sent into the wilderness by the Spirit. Where he fasted and prayed for 40 days. During his time there he was tempted by Satan and found clarity and strength to resist temptation. Afterwards, he was ready to begin his ministry.

 

Why “DO” Lent? How do I start?

Are you searching for something more? Tired of running in circles, but not really living life with direction, purpose or passion? It’s pretty easy to get caught up in the drama of classes, relationships, family, and work. Our lives are filled with distractions that take us away from living a life with Christ. We try to fill the emptiness inside us with mindless TV, meaningless chatter, stimulants, alcohol, too many activities or other irrelevant stuff. We run away from life and from God.

Lent is a great time to “repent” — to return to God and re-focus our lives to be more in line with Jesus. It’s a 40 day trial run in changing your lifestyle and letting God change your heart. You might try one of these practices for Lent:

 

  • FASTING: Some people have been known to go without food for days. But that’s not the only way to fast. You can fast by cutting out some of the things in your life that distract you from God. Some Christians use the whole 40 days to fast from candy, tv, soft drinks, cigarettes or meat as a way to purify their bodies and lives. You might skip one meal a day and use that time to pray instead. Or you can give up some activity like worry or reality tv to spend time outside enjoying Gods creation. What do you need to let go of or “fast” from in order to focus on God? What clutters your calendar and life? How can you simplify your life in terms of what you eat, wear or do?

 

  • SERVICE: Some Christians take something on for Christ. You can collect food for the needy, volunteer once a week to tutor children, or work for reform and justice in your community. You can commit to help a different stranger, co-worker or friend everyday of Lent. Serving others is one way we serve God.

 

  • PRAYER: Christians also use Lent as a time of intentional prayer. You can pray while you walk, create music or art as a prayer to God, or savor a time of quiet listening. All can be ways of becoming more in tune with God.

How will your family use the time to grow closer to God?  Over the next 40 days we will be sharing ways your family can participate in Lent together.