WEEK OF NOVEMBER 19TH, 2017

Day 1 – 1 Thessalonians 5: 1-11

In the letter to the Thessalonians, St. Paul issues a warning that Jesus will come when the time is right and we will all stand before the judgement seat of God. Consequently it encourages us to be prepared for His arrival, not participating in the deeds of darkness that are so common in our day and age. But rather we should practice the acts of faith and love that demonstrate our relationship and trust in Jesus Christ.

Read 1 Thessalonians 5: 1-11

Head
Paul talks about deeds of darkness. Talk together about what those kinds of deeds are. How do you see this happening in what people around you, at school or work, are doing? 

What is it that makes it a deed of darkness? Read Mark 12: 28-31, how do these works of darkness break the two greatest commandments? 

Heart
Paul mentions having put on a breast plate of righteousness and a helmet of salvation. What does he mean by these terms? Talk why those pieces of armor were so important.

Share stories of your own journey to faith, you could share baptism stories and how you want to have a home that talks about and makes faith a priority by putting on this “armor” daily. 

Hands
Paul not only talks about walking in the light, but also tells them to encourage and build one another up. How will you work on building one another up in your home?
Consider encouraging one another in: gratitude, prayer, saying thank you, making time for devotions etc.

Take time to split up and pray with one other person. List out some of the deeds of darkness you previously talked about and pray against temptation for that other person.


Day 2 – Matthew 25: 14-30

As we continue the theme of Jesus second coming, we find Jesus continuing his warning to be prepared. Following up on his story of the ten bridesmaids, Jesus now relates the story of three servants who are entrusted by their master with various amounts of wealth and property to manage. When the master calls his servants later to give an account of their stewardship, we find two that made use of their master’s property that resulted in adding to his wealth. The third servant, however, made no attempt to add to the wealth that had been entrusted to him, and was punished. 

God has entrusted each of us with capabilities that we are called to use to further his kingdom, contrary to the world, that invites us to use these gifts for our own pleasure and comfort. God invites us to see these gifts differently, rather than “how have we expanded our own wealth and pleasures?” it is “how have we expanded God’s kingdom?” 

Read Matthew 25: 14-30

Head
November is the end of the Church Year. It is during this time of year we have readings that look to the end times. Why is being reminded of the conclusion of time important for living in the now? Does the idea of Heaven comfort or scare you? Why? 

Heart
How does serving others relate to Heaven and managing God’s wealth?

Talk about this saying: God does not NEED your good works, but your neighbor DOES!

Now talk about this: We are saved by grace alone, but grace is never alone! It acts and cares for others

Hands
What are some of your abilities or gifts, and how could you use them to bless others and expand God’s kingdom?

WEEK OF NOVEMBER 12TH, 2017

DAY 1 – Amos 5: 18-24

**The lessons for this week deal with God coming in judgment. In the case of the Old Testament lesson, God comes to the wandering nation of Israel, now divided into 2 kingdoms: the Northern and the Southern kingdoms.  [View the Map] The North has strayed off, seeking protection and security in other countries and kings. In the case of the Gospel lesson, God comes as a groom and finds his guests unprepared and distracted.**

In our Old Testament reading today, God had invited His people, Israel, to trust Him, and He had shown countless times when He protected and served them in the past. But instead God found them chasing after idols and ignoring His promises. God compares His dilemma to someone who enters his own house only to be bitten by a venomous snake. Israel had turned their back on God and sought safety and support in other kingdoms. Now God sees through all their ceremonies and worship, because the people were going through the motions. They were not genuine in looking to God above all things. 
In enters Amos, a herdsman (shepherd), who was called to prophetically speak on behalf of God. The Assyrian nation to the north is about to descend on the Northern Kingdom, capture their citizens, and deport them throughout the Assyrian empire. All this God sees coming, and allows to happen as a consequence of their seeking hope and peace in other things. 

Read Amos 5: 18-24

Head
How can this passage apply to people inside the church today?
Amos mentions being righteous. How are we righteous? (read 2 Corinthians 5:21 for additional insight). What does this mean for our worship and sacrifices?
With Amos being a herdsman (shepherd), who else in the bible was a Shepherd? How does shepherd make God’s story come together?

Heart
Read this information about shepherds in Biblical Times: 


The idea of shepherding, and in specific the idea of God acting as the Shepherd of His people, is a theme found throughout the Bible, from beginning to end. In Genesis 48:24, as Jacob, on his deathbed summarized his life, he declared that God had been his “shepherd all of his life to this day.” In Revelation 7:17, when the saints who come out of the tribulation are brought before God, John brings together two of the most striking images of the scripture by stating, "for the Lamb in the center of the throne shall be their shepherd and shall guide them to springs of the water of life; and God shall wipe every tear from their eye.” Abraham, Issac, Jacob, Joseph were all shepherds, as was Moses and David. It is also used figuratively to represent rulers of kingdoms and of God to his people (Psalms 23:1; 80:1; Isaiah 40:11; 44:28; Jeremiah 25:34,35; Nahum 3:18; John 10:11,14; Hebrews 13:20; 1 Peter 2:25; 5:4).
The duties of a shepherd in a country like Palestine were very demanding. In early morning he would take the flock from the pen, marching at its head to the spot where they were to be pastured. Here he watched them all day, taking care that none of the sheep strayed, and if any for a time eluded his watch and wandered away from the rest, would seek till he found and brought it back. Sheep require to be supplied with water, and the shepherd has to guide them either to some running stream or to wells dug in the wilderness and furnished with troughs. At night he brought the flock home to the pen, counting them as they passed under the rod at the door to assure himself that none were missing. Often his labors would not end at sunset. Often he had to guard the pen through the night from the attack of wild beasts, or the wily attempts of the prowling thief (1 Samuel 17:34).

Looking at the theme of shepherd, who else is in your life to help shepherd you?

What makes some better shepherds than others?

Hands
Take time to pray about specific people in your life, thanking God that they shepherd you.

 


DAY 2 – Matthew 25: 1-13

In our gospel today Jesus has withdrawn to get some rest. The disciples take this opportunity to ask Jesus when the Last Day will come. Jesus responds with a parable about a wedding that provides a warning for all listening and us today: be prepared spiritually! In the story the guests are waiting for the groom to arrive. The wait extends longer than expected, and as night sets in, the guests have to light their lamps. Unfortunately, the wait continues even longer, and some lamps begin to run low on oil. Some guests had planned ahead and brought spare oil, but others had not. Those running low must quickly go to a store to get more oil, but when they arrive back at the banquet, the groom has already arrived and taken the other guests in to the banquet. In the end they miss out because they did not have enough oil to wait as long as needed.

Read Matthew 25: 1-13

Head
What sticks out to you about this reading? How does this reading apply to today?

Since we are eagerly waiting for Jesus’ return, would you prefer Jesus to come sooner or later and why?

What does it look like to have the “oil needed” to be prepared for Christ’s return?

Heart
Is there anyway to share your oil with others?

Hands
As a family write a letter to a persecuted Christian, encourage these Christians to stand firm in their faith as they continue to wait for the groom. Voice of the Martyrs Letters will be available at worship, and can be returned there.

WEEK OF NOVEMBER 5TH, 2017

DAY 1 – 1 John 3: 1-3

St. John, in his letter to Christians of Asia minor (and to us), expands on the great love that God the Father has shown us: that we are already His children! And the world does not recognize us as God’s children simply because they refuse to acknowledge God—or even acknowledge that there is a god. And as God’s children, we will be “like” God when we are in His presence in Heaven. Because we are loved by God the father and part of His family that changes how we live and show others the love of Jesus.

Read 1 John 3: 1-3

Head
Read the introduction and then 1 John 3:1-3.  Share what your favorite part of being a child is/was. Share what is hard about being a child.

Talk about what it means to hope in Jesus right now for you.

Heart
In 1 John we see that people struggled to recognize the church because they did not know who Jesus was.  How does our culture view the church today? How does this affect their struggle to recognize who Jesus is?

How can thinking about yourself as a child of God help us share Jesus with others? 

Hands
Who are you loving and building a relationship with because you are a loved child of God?

OR

In worship this week we talked about people who have been hurt by the church. Talk to 1-2 people this week and ask what their struggle with church and Christianity is. Talk with your family about what you heard or learned from these conversations. 


DAY 2 – Matthew 5: 1-12

Jesus begins his Sermon on the Mount with a listing of godly characteristics which we call the Beatitudes. These characteristics are:

Poor in spirit, meaning those who recognize that they need God’s spiritual intervention.

Those who mourn, meaning those who lament their own sins, needing God’s forgiveness.

Those who are meek, meaning those who do not aggressively demand their satisfaction but instead depend on God’s favor.

Those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, meaning those who recognize that they need God’s rather than man’s righteousness.

Those who are merciful, meaning those who are compassionate toward others.

Those who are pure in heart, meaning those whose words and actions reflect God’s righteousness in their hearts.

Those who are peacemakers, meaning those who promote true world peace through the proclamation of God’s salvation through their words and actions.

Those who are persecuted, meaning those who have been used and abused simply because they love and serve Jesus.

Read Matthew 5: 1-12

Head
Jesus begins the sermon on the mount with the familiar ‘beatitudes’. Here he makes eight statements about people who are blessed. These seem to run counter in many ways to what our culture would think of for blessed people. Take time together to read Matthew 5:1-12. Now read the explanation provided and talk through each of the eight. Share the one that is easiest and the one that’s hardest for you? 

Which of these beatitudes do you think would be most radical in your context/ friends/ workplace/...? 

Heart
Pick one or two that you can focus on this week for yourself. Why did you pick those?
Who can you pray for this week?

Hands
Who are you loving and building a relationship with because you are a loved child of God?

OR

In worship this week we talked about people who have been hurt by the church. Talk to 1-2 people this week and ask what their struggle with church and Christianity is. Talk with your family about what you heard or learned from these conversations.