A Family Devotional Lesson on Luke 15:11-14
Big Idea: No matter how badly we stray away from God the Father, He still loves us and longs for our return to Him.
Ice Breaker: Imagine running away from home. Help one the younger children pack a suitcase with some clothes, food, and even some money. Send them out into the backyard (be careful with children who are too young to understand that this is only a dramatization). Assign another family member to be an investigative newspaper (or television – in this scenario you could for videotape the interview for even more fun) reporter. Send out the reporter to interview the runaway. Write out the questions that the reporter will ask the runaway son or daughter. For example, what plans does the runaway have for the next few days or weeks? Why is running away from home exciting? Will it be exciting in the rain? In the snow? In the dark of night? How will you eat? Where can you live? What can you buy without money? How long will your money last? What will you do when it’s gone? When will you begin to miss your own bed? When will you begin to miss your mommy and daddy, brothers and sisters, neighborhood friends? Do you think that you will go back home? Why?
A Family Devotional Lesson on Luke 3:7-14
Big Idea: When we change our heart, we change our behavior. And just as you know that your heart has changed by your changed behavior, so you know a tree by its fruit.
Ice Breaker: Have two drawings of trees ready for the devo. Ask your children to take turns drawing and coloring “bad apples” on the first tree. Discuss what kind of tree produces “bad apples.” Now take turns drawing and coloring good apples on the second tree. Likewise discuss the attributes of good tree that produces good apples. How can a tree that produces bad apples begin to produce good apples (this may take some explaining from mom and dad)? How will you know when a bad apple tree has become a good apple tree? How can a boy or girl who produces bad behavior begin to produce good behavior? How do we know when someone has changed their heart?
A Family Devotional Lesson on Luke 15:8-10
Big Idea: It’s great to find something valuable that’ been lost. That’s how God feels about us when we try to run from Him and hide.
Ice Breaker: Hide something valuable in the main room of your home. Pick something special that your children will highly value (toys, candy, trading cards, etc.). Tell the children what’s been “lost.” Ask them to try to find it (make it a slight challenge to find the item). You can equip them with flashlights to better dramatize the search.
A Family Devotional Lesson on Luke 15:3-7
Big Idea: Shepherds care about sheep – even lost sheep. They make every effort to protect every single one. And they run after the strays with an urgent and longing heart. That’s how God feels about us when we try to run from Him and hide.
Ice Breaker: Play Hide and God Seek. In this version of the classic playground game, you give each of the children (or participating adults) some cotton ball sheep ears. Pick someone to be the shepherd – dress him or her up with a sheet and staff to magnify the effect. Designate one of the children to be the “lost sheep” that strays away and hides. The shepherd counts the remaining sheep only to realize that one has strayed. The shepherd asks the sheep to stay together while he or she runs after the lost sheep. Celebrate every time a lost sheep returns home. Take turns being sheep and the shepherd.
The Christmas List
Big Idea: Giving Beats Getting!
- Ice Breaker: Lay out fancy paper with Christmas decorations/borders on it. Have a pen or pencil laid out next to the sheet. Tell each family member that tonight each of us will fill out our “Official Christmas List.” Each person’s list will be posted on the refrigerator or bulletin board until Christmas. Give them a time limit. Act as a scribe for younger children. At the end of the allotted time, collect each list and read it to the family. Most of the time, everyone lists the items they want to GET rather than the items that they want to GIVE. If everyone does this, just read the lists and wait to make a comment until after you read and discuss the text. If someone writes a GIVING list, then talk about the mindset difference between the consumers and contributers.
- Read the Text: Acts 20:32-35
Questions from the Passage:
- What does covet mean? Why is it wrong to covet? What have you coveted this week? What are you most likely to covet? Do commercials make you covet things? Do you think that Jesus is pleased or displeased with commercials that make you covet toys and games and clothes and other things? Why is Jesus displeased with them? How should you feel about them?
- Why did Paul work so hard? Whom did he help with the money that he made?
- Jesus says “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”
- Do you believe that?
- How will you be more blessed if you give everyone a gift at Christmas but no one gives you anything?
- How will you be more blessed if you give away toys to poor children rather than get more for yourself?
- Have you ever given something to a poor person? How did it feel to do that?
- What’s something that you can do this week to “give rather than receive”?
- How can you start a Christmas tradition that honors Jesus’ words about giving rather than receiving?
- Memorize: “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” Acts 20:35
- Final Activity: Look at your Christmas List… do you want everyone who sees that to think of you as a taker rather than a giver? Let’s all tear down our old lists that show our old attitude of selfishness. Make a new Christmas List… of what you want to GIVE!!!! Celebrate the contribution that your family will make together this year!!!
Big Idea: We look to men for help for very real needs; how much more should we earnestly look to Jesus for our deliverance in the face of persecution (assuming that we are living a Godly life in Christ which results in persecution).
Ice Breaker: Get a volunteer to play their own dog. Ask another volunteer to be the owner/master. Set the clock to meal time for this dog. Put on your “director’s hat” and yell “Action!” Observe the “dog’s” intensity and perseverance for his master’s help. Discuss the dynamic as a group, assuring the group that this will actually have something to do with the text you’ll study today.
Read the Text: Psalm 123 (read this after the Ice Breaker)
Questions from the Passage:
- V. 1. What does it mean to “lift up my eyes” to the Lord? What makes it difficult to try to lift our eyes to a throne in heaven?
- V. 2. Why would a slave look to the hand of his master? And what would be the occasion for a maid to look to the hand of her mistress? How could you express this idea in modern terms with employees and employers? How do you –in effect – look toward the hand of your employer or clients? Refer back to the Ice Breaker and ask, “Do any others have a dog?” How does he look toward you? For how long will he look toward you? (Ask for more volunteers to quickly imitate their dogs on this matter.)
- V. 2b. “So our eyes look to the Lord our God, till he shows us his mercy.” Here is the heart of our lesson. What are the needs that a master, mistress, or employer satisfies for us? What are the needs that the Lord satisfies for us? Which needs are more important? Which needs are more urgent? Which needs are effectively more real to you? How exactly can we “look to the Lord our God”? Have you been doing that this week; why or why not? What gets in the way of looking to Jesus? How can you practically overcome those obstacles? What type of mercy do you need from the Lord? Have you persevered in seeking this mercy? Is this the mercy that the Psalmist has in view? [There’s a bit of “gotcha” coming here!]
- V. 3-4. The Psalmist needs mercy for a specific reason, what is it? What is happening to him? Why would be enduring this ordeal? [Answer: He’s being persecuted for taking a stand for the Lord our God!] Is this the same type of mercy you most require? Has your walk with Christ caused you to be held in contempt this week, last week? Why would you most likely receive contempt and ridicule from the proud and arrogant?
- Finally, what might be the reason that you are not in the difficult position of needing mercy from the Lord due to persecution? Is it possible to both walk with Jesus and to enjoy a life of ease? What decisions have you made based on our discussion of this Psalm?
A Family Devotional Lesson on Faith over Fear
1st Samuel 15:24-28
Big Idea: Samuel’s fear of the people caused him to sin and lose his place as King over Israel. Our fear of people also can cause us to sin.
Play Acting: Simulate the school lunch room at your dining room table. Have each child take a turn playing himself or herself at school in each scenario. Everyone else in the family plays the lunch crowd of kids. Set up a different temptation/intimidation for each child.
- Temptation scenario 1: open your lunch bags and get ready to eat; stare right at the first volunteer (the family member who is playing self at school). Attempt to simply use your stares to frighten him/her from praying before eating.
- Temptation Scenario 2: Have one from the crowd tell a “potty joke.” Everyone enjoys the compromising humor – but how does the family member playing self respond?
- Temptation Scenario 3: All begin to gossip about one of the kids who is not sitting at the table.
- Temptation Scenario 4: All begin to grumble and complain about the unfairness of your teacher.
After you’ve completed a scenario for each child, discuss how fear of people became a real temptation to compromise our beliefs and even sin against God. Then discuss how they can remember to choose faith over fear each time they face a crowd.
Read the Text: 1st Samuel 15:24-28
Questions from the Passage:
- Why does Saul sin?
- Is it good that he recognizes why he sins?
- Whose voice did Saul obey?
- What would Saul have done if he were faced with your lunchroom crowd?
- Why is it dangerous to reject the Word of God?
- How would the story be different if Saul obeyed God instead of letting the people intimidate him? How would your lunchroom story also be different?
Then Saul said to Samuel, “I have sinned. I violated the Lord’s command and your instructions. I was afraid of the people and so I gave in to them.” 1st Samuel 15:24