Monday, October 31, 2016

Tentmakers

TODAY’S SPECIAL: Acts 18:1-4

TO CHEW ON: "And because he was a tentmaker as they were, he stayed and worked with them.” Acts 18:3

What do you want to be when you grow up – a musician? a pilot? a cook? an artist? a road builder? Could you do these things – and be a missionary too?

Paul would say “yes.” He was a missionary, but when he needed money for rent and food he also had a job. He made tents. When the church in Corinth was small and there weren’t enough people to pay the salary of a full-time missionary pastor, Paul worked with his friends Priscilla and Aquilla at tent-making during the day. In his time off he worked for the church.

"Paul worked as a tentmaker" Illustration by Annie Vallotton"Paul worked as a tentmaker" Illustration by Annie Vallotton from the Good News Bible
© American Bible Society 1976, 1992, used with permission.


We still use the word “tentmaker” to describe people who do a second job to support themselves while they work for God. These modern tentmakers don’t literally make tents. They do many jobs, from teaching English to nursing to engineering. They can often get into countries where pastors and missionaries aren’t allowed. Sometimes they work in places where the local people can’t afford to pay full-time workers.

No matter what our job is, we can also be a missionary and tell people about Jesus.

PRAYER: Dear Jesus, help me to be a missionary no matter what job I do. Amen

MORE: Bible Jobs.
Do you know what jobs these Bible characters did? Match each Bible character with the job they did.


1. Lydia (Acts 16:14) __________
2. Simon (Peter) (Mark 1:16) __________
3. Joseph (Genesis 41:39-40) __________
4. Luke (Colossians 4:14) __________
5. Matthew (Matthew 9:9) __________
6. David (1 Samuel 16:11-13) __________
7. Deborah (Judges 4:4,5) __________
8. Nehemiah (Nehemiah 1:11) __________



A. Doctor
B. Drink server (cup-bearer)
C. Administrator (the one in charge)
D. Tax collector
E. Fisherman
F. Cloth dealer
G. Shepherd
H. Prophet and Judge

ANSWERS

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Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

And Your God is...?

TODAY’S SPECIAL: Acts 17:22-28

TO CHEW ON: For as I walked around and observed your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: “To An Unknown God” Now what you worship as something unknown, I am going to proclaim to you. Acts 17:23

As Paul waited in Athens for Timothy and Silas to join him, he walked around the city. On his walks he saw altars and statues (idols) to which the people prayed. He also saw an altar with a title that grabbed his attention: “To An Unknown God.”

"Paul Speaks at Athens" - Artist unknown

The next day he went to the public square where the people gathered to hear and discuss new ideas. He said to the people, “I see you have made an altar to ‘An Unknown God.’ Today I’m going to tell you about him.” Then he told them about Jesus.

"Paul Preaches in Athens" - Raphael

It’s natural for humans to worship. We all worship something. You probably don’t worship an idol at an altar. But if you answer the questions - what do I spend the most time dreaming about, hoping for, working on - you may be surprised at who or what is most important to you.

PRAYER: Dear Jesus, please show me if I am worshiping other things besides You. I want to worship You. Amen.

MORE: Our Idols


Match the statements, below, with who or what someone may be worshiping.

1. I just love clothes. ____
2. I’d do anything to make the team. ____
3. Nothing will keep me from getting to the top. ____
4. The most important thing is to have enough money. ____
5. I wonder what Jesus would think about this. ____


A. Monday   B. Jesus    C. Clothes

D. Sports    E. Success


ANSWERS

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Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Jail Joy

TODAY’S SPECIAL: Acts 16:23-34

TO CHEW ON: "About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them." Acts 16:25

What things would fill you with joy?
1. Getting a new pet.
2. Winning a contest.
3. Being teased about being a Christian.
4. Finishing a hard job.
5. Being arrested for helping someone.

My guess is you didn’t choose 3. and 5. But Paul and Silas were joyful even after helping someone and being put in jail for it.

After the Philippi officials beat them, Paul and Silas were locked in a jail cell for helping the slave girl. But they didn’t get angry, complain, whine or grumble. Instead they prayed and sang hymns.

What happened next gave them even more reason for joy. An earthquake shook the jail. Their chains came loose. The doors flew open.

"Earthquake in the prison" - Sir James Thornhill"Earthquake in the prison" - Sir James Thornhill

The jailer, afraid that everyone would escape, was ready to harm himself.

"Paul and Silas with the Jailer" - Artist unknown"Paul and Silas with the Jailer" - Artist unknown

But Paul and Silas didn’t run. Instead they calmed the desperate jailer and told him no one was going to escape.

Maybe Paul and Silas’s reaction to their beating made the jailor curious. Maybe the prayers they prayed and the songs they sang made him want to know their God. Because the jailer then asked them a strange question. What was it? (Acts 16:30) 1.______________________________________________

The Philippian Jailer - Artist unknownThe Philippian Jailer - Artist unknown

The jailor and his family accepted Jesus that night and were baptized. Then he and his family were also filled with (Acts 16:34) 2. ______________ .

When we live for Jesus He gives us this unexplainable joy. Things around us might be falling apart. We might be in big trouble. But still, we are joyful because we know Jesus is with us. He takes care of us and gives us joy even in the middle of problems,

PRAYER: Dear Jesus, thank You that the joy You give us is stronger than the things that go wrong in our lives. Amen.


MORE: Jails
- Find out about jails in Bible times
- Look at a picture of Philippian jail ruins which may be the prison where Paul and Silas were kept.


ANSWERS

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Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Fortune-teller

TODAY’S SPECIAL: Acts 16:16-22

TO CHEW ON: "She kept this up for many days. Finally Paul became so annoyed that he turned around and said to the spirit, “In the name of Jesus Christ I command you to come out of her!” At that moment the spirit left her." (Acts 16:18)

Paul went on two more mission trips. On one of them he took Silas as his helper. They visited the city of Philippi and met with the Christians there.

Every day as they walked to their prayer meeting, a slave girl followed them. She made money for her owners by telling fortunes. Every day as she walked behind Paul and Silas she shouted, “These men are servants of the Most High God, who are telling you the way to be saved.”

What she said was true. But Paul knew the spirit who inspired her to say it was not the Holy Spirit but an evil spirit. One day he had had enough. He turned around and commanded the evil spirit to come out of her. (A word that describes casting an evil spirit out of someone is exorcism.) The spirit did come out of her. But when the spirit was gone the slave girl could no longer tell fortunes.

"Exorcism" by J. C. Weigel - 1695"Exorcism" by J. C. Weigel - 1695

What happened next? (Acts 16:22)
1. The slave girl’s owners thanked Paul and Silas for getting the spirit out of her.
2. The slave girl’s owners dragged Paul and Silas to the city authorities. They said Paul had wrecked their business.
3. The slave girl beat up Paul and Silas.

"Paul and Silas arrested" - Artist unknown"Paul and Silas arrested" - Artist unknown

Paul and Silas helped the girl by getting her free from the evil spirit. But they also got in trouble for doing it. Are we willing to do the thing God wants us to, even if it means we’ll get into trouble?



PRAYER: Dear Jesus, help me to brave to do things that honor You, no matter what the consequences. Amen.


MORE: What About You?


1. What are some fortune-telling activities we have today?

2. Have you ever taken part in them?

3. What would you do if:
  • your friend wants to visit the lady who reads palms at the fair?
  • a bunch of friends pull out a Oija board at a party?
  • you get a horoscope calendar as a gift?

ANSWERS


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Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

The Fickle Crowd

TODAY’S SPECIAL: Acts 14:8-20

TO CHEW ON: "Then some Jews came from Antioch and Iconium and won the crowd over. They stoned Paul and dragged him outside the city, thinking he was dead." Acts 14:19

Have you ever been to a sports game where the hometown team starts making mistakes? Very quickly a cheering crowd turns into a hissing, booing one.

Paul and Barnabas found this out. When they came to Lystra, Paul healed a man who had never walked.

"Paul heals the man at Lystra" - Caspar Luiken, 1672-1708"Paul heals the man at Lystra" - Caspar Luiken, 1672-1708

After seeing that, the people were in awe of Barnabas and Paul.

"Paul in Lystra" - Artist unknown, 1897"Paul in Lystra" - Artist unknown, 1897

They tried to pray to them. Paul quickly told them to stop and explained they should worship only the God of heaven.

"In Lystra" - Artist unknown"In Lystra" - Artist unknown

But then some of the Jewish leaders from the towns where Paul and Barnabas had visited earlier, arrived in Lystra. They persuaded the crowd Paul and Barnabas were bad men who deserved death. The crowd turned from worshiping Paul and Barnabas to trying to kill Paul. They stoned him then they dragged him outside the city thinking he was dead.

"Paul stoned" by J. C. Weigel, 1695"Paul stoned" by J. C. Weigel, 1695

We can’t measure our success by how we’re treated by the crowd. We may be popular with the crowd one day, and persecuted the next. Instead we live to please only one person. Who is that?
- Our parent?
- Our friend?
- Ourselves?
- Jesus?

PRAYER: Dear Jesus, help me to stay loyal to You, no matter what the crowd around me does. Amen.


MORE: Many Miles
Draw the rest of Paul’s journey and the return trip on your map.
1. From Iconium to –> Lystra to –> Derbe.
2. The return trip: Lystra –> Iconium –> Antioch –> through Pisidia –> Pamphylia –> Perga –> Attalia –> sailed back to Antioch

3. Bible teachers think Paul and Barnabas were away on their mission trip for a year and a half (18 months). In that time they covered about 1250 miles. They traveled most of the land miles by foot – walking!

ANSWERS

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Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Obedience + Persecution = Joy

TODAY’S SPECIAL: Acts 13:42-52

TO CHEW ON: "And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit." Acts 13:52

Barnabas and Paul traveled to Perga and then to Psidian Antioch. When they preached in the church (synagogue), many people listened and believed. In fact at one meeting almost the whole town came out to listen.

"Through this man (Jesus) is preached the forgiveness of sins" - Artist unknown"Through this man (Jesus) is preached the forgiveness of sins" - Artist unknown

But the Jewish leaders didn’t like Paul and Barnabas because they said the good news about Jesus was for non-Jews (Gentiles). When more and more people believed, the Jewish leaders got jealous. They gossiped and lied about Paul and Barnabas and turned the city’s important people against them. Soon persecution started again. Barnabas and Paul had to leave town.

"Paul stirs up Antioch" - Artist unknown"Paul stirs up Antioch" - Artist unknown

What did Paul and Barnabas do? (Acts 13:51,52)
1. They were afraid and stopped preaching.
2. They were angry and fought against those who made them leave.
3. They left, but were joyful because they had done all they could to tell people about Jesus.

How could the disciples be joyful even when they were hassled and chased out of town? It was because they knew they were doing the job God had given them to do. It wasn’t their job to make people like them, agree with them or believe what they said. Only God could do that. But it was their job to tell about Jesus. When they did that, they were joyful, even though their hearers were mean to them.

Still today we can have joy in the middle of persecution. Such joy isn’t based on outward success but the satisfaction of knowing we are obeying and pleasing God.

PRAYER: Dear God, help me to be joyful in persecution. Amen.

MORE: Joyful Times
• The Bible talks about people having joy at different times. Match each joyful occasion with its Bible reference. (Careful, there’s one that isn’t true! Which one is it?)

1. When they saw a star.
2. When Jesus came back to life
3. When being persecuted
4. Trusting Jesus is real, though we haven’t seen Him
5. When reaching our ambitions
6. When in God’s presence
7. When prayers are answered
8. When “eating” God’s Word

A. Psalm 16:11    B. 1 Peter 1:8  

C. Matthew 2:7-10   D. Jeremiah 15:16

E. Acts 13:50-52  F. Matthew 28:8 

G. John 16:24

• The trip goes on. Mark Paul’s mission trip route to these cities on your map:
Acts 13:13-14


ANSWERS

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Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

From Problem to Praise

TODAY’S SPECIAL: Acts 13:6-12

TO CHEW ON: "But Elymas the sorcerer (for that is what his name means) opposed them and tried to turn the proconsul from the faith." Acts 13:8

What happens on mission trips but problems?

Barnabas and Saul (from now on called Paul - Acts 13:8), were invited by one of Cyprus’s government officials, Sergius Paulus, to talk about God. But one of the servants, Elymas who was a sorcerer told his boss not to listen to them and not to believe in God.

Then the Holy Spirit showed Paul whose side Elymas was on. So Paul went to him and said, “You are a child of the devil and an enemy of everything that is right.” To prove God’s power was behind his words, Paul told Elymas he would go blind - and he did.

The Conversion of the Proconsul - By Raphael, 1515-1516The Conversion of the Proconsul - By Raphael, 1515-1516

When Sergius Paulus saw God’s power, he believed in God. Isn’t it just like God to turn a problem into praise!

We should not be surprised if we get resistance when we’re telling people about Jesus. Satan, Jesus’ enemy and ours, doesn’t want people to know about Him or trust Him. But we don’t need to fear Satan or be silenced by problems he puts in our way. Instead, we can pray for wisdom to know how to react. We can also pray for God to turn our problem into praise.

PRAYER: Dear God, help me to trust Your power when problems come against me. Amen.

MORE: Sorcerers and Sorcery
1. - Look up sorcerer in the dictionary.
- What is sorcery?
- Are there still sorcerers today?
- Some storybooks have characters who are sorcerers in them. What do you think about reading such books?

2. Continue drawing Paul’s trip on the map by drawing a line from Salamis to Paphos where this story happened.




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Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Paul's First Mission Trip

TODAY’S SPECIAL: Acts 13:1-5

TO CHEW ON: "While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, 'Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.'” Acts 13:2.

While Herod was persecuting the believers in Jerusalem, Barnabas and Saul were teaching in Antioch. It was here that those who believed in Jesus were first called Christians.

One day during a prayer meeting in Antioch, God the Holy Spirit told the Antioch Christians to set apart Barnabas and Saul for a special job. They were to go on a mission trip. They would travel to places where no one knew about Jesus and tell about Him.


Paul begins his first missionary journey - Artist unknownPaul begins his first missionary journey - Artist unknown

Have you ever been on a mission trip? If you have, you’ll know that preparing for such a trip is lots of work. You have to raise money for the plane or bus fare and for expenses along the way. If you’re going out of your country you need to get travel papers (like passports, visas and travel insurance). You may need shots to protect you against foreign diseases. You need foreign money. You need to prepare for what you’re going to do when you get there - practice your songs and stories, collect supplies for crafts or equipment for sports. And of course, you have to pack your clothes.

Before Saul and Barnabas left on the first missions trip, we don’t read of them doing any of these things - though I’m sure they did some of them.

Paul starts on a big trip - Artist unknownPaul starts on a big trip - Artist unknown

But they did have one thing that made their trip a sure success. They had the call of God. In all our preparations to serve God, let’s not forget to first listen for His call, telling us that this is what He wants us to do.

PRAYER: Dear Jesus, please help me to be willing to go on any mission, near or far, to tell people about You. Amen.

MORE: Map It
Starting at Antioch, trace the first few stops of Saul and Barnabas’s trip on the map. Acts 13: 1
Acts 13:4
Acts 13: 5

This is a detail of a map that can be viewed at www.bible.ca
Copyright, 1994 by Abingdon Press
Used with permission

(To print the map, click on it, then print the window that opens.)

ANSWERS

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Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Angel Jail-break

TODAY’S SPECIAL: Acts 12:1-12

TO CHEW ON: "So Peter was kept in prison, but the church was earnestly praying to God for him." Acts 12:5

Peter was in big trouble. After King Herod killed James, he arrested Peter. For days Peter had been in a cramped, uncomfortable jail, chained and guarded by sixteen soldiers.

The night before Herod was going to put him on trial Peter was asleep in his cell. He was awakened by strange man shaking him. “Quick, get up and get dressed!” the man said. The cell was filled with light even though it was the middle of the night. Then his chains fell off.


Peter's miraculous escape from prison - Artist unknownPeter's miraculous escape from prison - Artist unknown

I must be dreaming Peter thought as he pulled on his clothes, wrapped his cloak around him, and followed the man out of the prison. It was not until he had walked a block or two and his companion disappeared that Peter realized - I’m not dreaming. This is real. I was just set free by an angel!

ST. Peter delivered from prison - Gustave Dore
He went to the home of his friends. What had they been doing while he was in jail? _____________ (Acts 12:5)

What do you do when things are desperate?
- Call an ambulance or the police?
- Call a doctor?
- Call a lawyer?
- Start a petition?
- Start an email campaign?
- Pray?

When things are at their worst, when there’s no way out, when a bad ending is certain we can pray, just like the church prayed for Peter. The God who got Peter out of prison 2000 years ago is still our God today!

PRAYER: Dear Jesus, please remind me to invite You into all my desperate situations. Amen.

MORE: Angels
What do you think:
- Do angels exist?
- Have you ever seen one?
- Could you tell if someone was an angel and not just an ordinary person? How?

ANSWERS 

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Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

The Encourager

TODAY’S SPECIAL: Acts 11:19-26


TO CHEW ON: "Then Barnabas went to Tarsus to look for Saul, and when he found him, he brought him to Antioch." Acts 11:25, 26a

- You studied hard but still didn’t do well on the test.
- You’d like to join the badminton club but you don’t know any of the kids.
- It’s youth night at church, but the friend with whom you usually go is out of town.

Q: What do you need in each of these situations?

A: An encourager, like Barnabas.

Barnabas was a well-known and respected leader in the early church. When Jesus’ followers were scattered because of persecution, he stayed at headquarters in Jerusalem. But then news came that everywhere Jesus’ followers had moved, people were believing in Jesus. The leaders sent Barnabas to check things out.

Barnabas - Artist unknown
When he came to Antioch he saw God was blessing Jewish people and Greeks as well. He encouraged these new followers of Jesus.

Then he went to Tarsus to look for another new Christian named Saul. When he found Saul, he brought him to Antioch and put him to work, teaching the new believers.

Because of Barnabas’s encouragement the church in Antioch loved Gentile Christians and accepted Saul instead of being afraid of him.

Are you an encourager? Look up the word ‘encourage’ in the dictionary.

Which of the comments below would you say is NOT encouragement?



PRAYER: Dear God, help me to be an encouragement to others today. Amen.



MORE:
Encourager You
Which things below are encouraging?

1. You suggest to your friend, who is a fast runner, that she try out for the track team.
2. You tell your Mom she makes good meals.
3. You compliment the kid who gives away his lunch cookies so maybe he’ll give them to you.
4. You help the teacher straighten the classroom after school hoping she’ll give you a better mark.
5. You volunteer to help carry the equipment bags for your baseball coach.
6. You invite the new kid at church to youth group, then introduce him to your friends.

As you go through today, watch for people who need encouragement, then encourage them.

ANSWERS




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Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Accepting All People

TODAY’S SPECIAL: Acts 10:24-35

TO CHEW ON: "Then Peter began to speak: 'I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism but accepts men from every nation the one who fears him and does what is right.'" Acts 10:34,35

Peter went back with Cornelius’s servants to Caesarea. Even though Cornelius and his men were Gentiles and not Jews, Peter knew God wanted him to visit Cornelius. Peter probably had an idea his vision was about more than eating unclean food. After he heard Cornelius’s story, Peter knew God was telling him to accept people he had thought of as unclean. What two things did Peter learn (Acts 10:34,35)?

"Peter and Cornelius" - Artist Unknown"Peter and Cornelius" - Artist Unknown

1. God does not _____________________________________________

2. God accepts ______________________________________________

God hasn’t changed. He still loves everyone – no matter what color their skin, what language they speak or where they live. We should love them too.

PRAYER: Dear God, help me to love people of every nationality, like You do. Amen.

MORE: Gentile Pentecost
The same things that happened to the Jews on the day of Pentecost, happened that day to the Roman Cornelius and his family. This proved to Peter that God loved and accepted the Gentiles

Solve the crossword puzzle using the clues below and Acts 10:34,35 and Acts 10: 44-47.
(To solve, click on the puzzle, then print the page that opens.)

Puzzle by Discovery Education's Puzzlemaker

WHAT PETER SAW AND HEARD
Peter saw the ___ (1 down) come down on everyone there.
Peter heard people ___ (7 across).
They were talking in ___ (3 down) (different languages).
They were praising ___ (2 across).

WHAT PETER DID
Then Peter ___ (6 across) everyone who believed.

WHAT PETER LEARNED:
Peter learned God doesn't have ___ (5 across).
God ___ (8 across) everyone.
God loves people from every ___ (4 down).

ANSWERS

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Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Gecko Burgers Anyone?

TODAY’S SPECIAL: Acts 10:9-23

TO CHEW ON: "The voice spoke to him a second time, 'Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.'” Acts 10:15

It was lunchtime in Joppa. Peter (Jesus’s disciple) was hungry. While he was waiting for a call to lunch, a vision appeared. A sheet came down from heaven with all kinds of animals on it. A voice said, “Get up, Peter, kill and eat.”

Though Peter was hungry, there was a problem with the food in front of him. These were animals which God had commanded the Jews not to eat. They were called ‘unclean.’ Peter answered, “I’ve never eaten anything unclean.”

Then the voice said, “Don’t call something impure that God has made clean.”

This happened two more times. Then the sheet disappeared.

"Peter's Vision" - Artist Unknown"Peter's Vision" - Artist Unknown

While Peter was wondering what that was about, Cornelius’s servants arrived at the door. Peter invited them in. They told him about the vision Cornelius had had the day before. They asked Peter to come back with them to Caesarea to talk to Cornelius.

Wow – what a coincidence! Or was it a coincidence? An angel told Cornelius – the Roman soldier – to send for Peter. Meanwhile, Peter had a vision telling him that some of the old rules had changed.

Would Peter go? What would you have done if you were Peter?

PRAYER: Dear God, please help me to hear Your voice in every way You speak to me. Amen.

SUPERSIZE IT: Foods Rule Or Food Rules?
The rules about clean and unclean foods that Peter thought about when he had the vision are found in Leviticus 11.

"Unclean Animals" Illustration by Annie Vallotton"Unclean Animals" Illustration by Annie Vallotton from the Good News Bible
© American Bible Society 1976, 1992, used with permission.

Which animals were the Jews allowed to eat? Which ones were unclean?
Leviticus 11:1-23
Leviticus 11:29-30

CAMEL     PIG
COW (animal with split hoof that chews cud)
RAT       RAVEN     CRICKET
FISH (animal with fins and scales)
STARFISH  GECKO     QUAIL
LOCUST    SHEEP     LIZARD

ANSWERS

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Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Centurion Summons Simon

TODAY’S SPECIAL: Acts 10:1-8

TO CHEW ON: "At Caesarea there was a man named Cornelius, a centurion...” Acts 10:1

Cornelius was not a Jew but a Gentile. It wasn’t only his race that made the Jewish people want to avoid him. His job was a problem too. He was a centurion (centurion = captain) in the Roman army. Roman soldiers often mistreated the Jews. Jewish people were suspicious and afraid of Cornelius.

But Cornelius had some surprising beliefs for a Roman soldier. Unscramble the words below that tell about him (Acts 10:2):
He (dreefa)________ (dgo)________.
He (vgae)___________ to those in need.
He (yrdepa) __________ to God regularly.

One afternoon an angel talked to him in a vision. The angel told him God had noticed his prayers and gifts. He was to send someone to Joppa, find Simon Peter and bring him to his house in Caesarea. God looked past Cornelius’s race and job, into his heart. He knew Cornelius wanted to know Him better. Peter (who was a Jew) would help with that – or would he?

"Cornelius is confronted by the angel" by Caspar Luiken, 1672-1708"Cornelius is confronted by the angel" by Caspar Luiken, 1672-1708

Do you ever jump to conclusions about what a person is like because of their skin color, the fact that they are poorer or richer than you, or because you don’t agree on some things? It's natural to feel more comfortable with people who are like us than those who aren’t. But God loves everyone. Let’s make a habit of looking past people’s accents, the color of their skin or the style of their clothes. Let’s look at everyone through eyes of love, like God does.

PRAYER: Dear God, help me to accept and love everyone, like You do. Amen.


"Roman Soldier" from Wikipedia
Roman Soldier
MORE: Roman Soldiers
Find out about the Roman soldiers.
  • How many soldiers did a centurion command?
  • What did a Roman centurion wear?
  • What weapons did the Roman army use?
  • Most Roman soldiers didn’t worship the God of the Bible. Who or what did they worship?


ANSWERS

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Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

When God says "Go"

TODAY’S SPECIAL: Acts 9:10-19

TO CHEW ON: "But the Lord said to Ananias, 'Go.'” Acts 9:15

Saul had a reputation. Followers of Jesus (Christians) knew him as someone who showed no mercy. Imagine Ananias’s (not the same Ananias as “Ananias and Sapphira”) surprise when God told him, in a vision, to go to Straight Street in Damascus and pray for Saul, his dangerous enemy.

At first Ananias argued, “God, You can’t mean that! Don’t you know who this man is?”

But God’s answer to Ananias was “Go.” For God knew what had happened to Saul three days before. He didn’t tell Ananias that it would be safe. He just asked Annanias to obey. So Annanias went.

"Saul and Ananias"
by Benjamin West (1738-1820)

 "Saul and Ananias" by Benjamin West (1738-1820)
When he got to the house, Ananias didn’t meet the dangerous persecutor Saul he expected. Instead he met the blind and helpless baby Christian Saul.

Ananias put his hands on Saul’s shoulders. “Brother Saul,” he said, “the Lord—Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you were coming here—has sent me so that you may see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit."

Immediately something like scales fell from Saul’s eyes. He could see again! He asked to be baptized, ate some food and began his life as a Christian.

It’s important that, like Ananias, we obey God when He gives us an assignment. We may not understand why God wants us to do something. But we can be sure that He is at work preparing the person or the situation for our words or our help.

PRAYER: Dear God, please give me the courage to obey You, even when what You ask me to do doesn’t make sense. Amen.


MORE: Visions
God spoke to Ananias in a vision.
1. How might a vision be different than a dream?

The New Jerusalem - Gustave Dore

2. Here are some more vision stories from the Bible:
  • A man’s mouth is touched by an angel carrying a hot coal - Isaiah 6:1-8
  • A man sees God’s protecting army - 2 Kings 6:15-17
  • A man gets a glimpse of heaven - Acts 7:55-56

3. Do you think God still gives people visions today? Why do you think as you do?

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Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Turnaround

TODAY’S SPECIAL: Acts 9:1-9

TO CHEW ON: 'Who are you, Lord?' Saul asked." Acts 9:5

Saul thought he was pleasing God by killing the followers of Jesus.

"Saul was breathing murderous threats" - Artist unknown"Saul was breathing murderous threats" - Artist unknown

God saw that Saul was sincere. But he was also wrong. In one amazing moment God turned Saul around.

He was traveling on the road near the town of Damascus, on his way to kill more Christians, when a light blinded him. He fell to the ground. A voice asked, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?”

Saul answered: “Who are you, Lord?”

Saul sees a bright light - Artist unknown
Saul sees a bright light - Artist unknown
What do you think he meant by “Lord”?
____ A nobleman with a title.
____ The owner of some land (landlord).
____ God – the ruler and master of everything.

(I’m sure you chose the last one.)

Then the voice that spoke to him said He was Jesus. What a shock to Saul! In that moment, he realized that the person he’d hated was God. In that moment he went from hating Jesus and the people who followed Him, to following Jesus himself. Saul called Jesus “Lord” and he meant God, the ruler and master of everything. He gave Jesus the right to be the boss of his life. At that moment Saul’s life was turned around.

Meeting Jesus still turns lives around. We may feel we’re the boss of our lives but after we meet Jesus:
- we want to do what He tells us.
- we go from wanting to please others to wanting to please God the most.
- we go from being selfish with our things to giving them to God to use any way He wants.

Have you met Jesus? Has He turned your life around?

PRAYER: Dear Jesus, please be the Lord - the boss, ruler and master - of my life too. Amen.

MORE: Picture It
Draw a comic strip of Saul’s turnaround story. (Click on the box below, then print the page that opens.)




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Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Surprising Appearance

TODAY’S SPECIAL: Acts 8:26-39

TO CHEW ON: "Then Philip began with that very passage of Scripture and told him the good news about Jesus." Acts 8:35

Imagine you are an African government official. You are living shortly after Jesus died. You believe in God. In fact your boss, Queen Candace of Ethiopia, has just given you time off to worship Him in Jerusalem. Now you are on your way home. You’re reading more about God from a scroll (a Bible-time book of Scriptures) called Isaiah. The trouble is, it doesn’t make sense.

Suddenly a man appears beside your chariot. (But you’re on a desert road from Israel to North Africa. Where did he come from?)


"The Ethiopian Converted" - by O.A. Stemler & B.B. Cleaveland, 1925"The Ethiopian Converted" - by O.A. Stemler & B.B. Cleaveland, 1925

He asks you what you’re reading. When you tell him you don’t understand it, he joins you in the chariot and explains it all as you ride along. He tells you the good news about Jesus. He even shows you that Jesus was the one you were reading about in the scroll.

He explains about getting baptized, and how it is a sign to you and others that you really believe in Jesus. When you pass by a desert oasis there is water and he baptizes you.

"Ethiopian Eunuch" by Johann C. Weigel, 1695"Ethiopian Eunuch" by Johann C. Weigel, 1695

And then the stranger is gone – as mysteriously as he came.

This story shows us some pretty neat things about God. It shows:
1. God saw the Ethiopian man’s seeking heart and heard his questions.
2. God cared enough about him to send Philip to answer them.
3. God can break the laws of nature if He needs to.

The wonderful thing is we worship the same God. He still answers questioning hearts, sometimes in miraculous ways. Do you have questions about God, life and what’s happening to you? Ask Him to help you understand.

PRAYER: Dear God, thank You that You see and answer the questions of seeking hearts. Amen.

MORE: SUPER-NaturalSometimes God breaks the laws of nature - of space, time and gravity (like He did when He took Philip to the desert and then transported him away from it). Match these SUPER-natural events, below, with the people involved:

Jesus and a blind man - Artist unknown" ______ and a Blind Man" - Artist unknown

1. The sun’s shadow moved backward (2 Kings 20:10,11)
2. A man with leprosy was healed by bathing in a river (2 Kings 5:14)
3. Someone healed blind eyes with mud (John 9:1-7)
4. A walking stick turned into a snake (Exodus 7:8-10)
5. An iron axe head floated on water (2 Kings 6:1-6)
6. Sea water piled up to form a wall (Exodus 14:22)

A. Israelites
B. Aaron
C. Elisha
D. Hezekiah
E. Naaman
F. Jesus


ANSWERS


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Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

From Bad to Good

TODAY’S SPECIAL: Acts 8:1-8

TO CHEW ON: "Those who had been scattered preached the word wherever they went." Acts 8:4.

Have you ever had to move because it wasn’t safe for you to live in your old home any more? That’s what happened to the followers of Jesus after Stephen’s death. Everyone, from people in government to neighbors, was out to get them. They were threatened, arrested, and many more were killed.

So they moved to other places in Judea and Samaria. Now there were no more big gatherings in the Jerusalem temple court. The large praise meetings stopped. There was hardly anyone left to go to the prayer gatherings and potluck dinners. Because of persecution the Christians left Jerusalem and were scattered all around.

"Conversions of the Samaritans" - Matthias Scheits, 1972"Conversions of the Samaritans" - Matthias Scheits, 1972

But they didn’t stop talking about Jesus. Everywhere they went, they spread the good news. Jesus had died for sins. People could be friends with God again. Everyone could live in Holy Spirit power. People could look forward to heaven when they died.

"Philip at Samaria" - Artist unknown, 1573
 "Philip at Samaria" - Artist unknown, 1573

Many heard, and accepted Jesus. In a Samaritan city where Philip went , he explained about God’s power and people were healed. It brought joy to the whole city. Because of a bad thing – persecution – a good thing happened – more people heard about Jesus and accepted Him.

God can still bring good things out of bad. Your sickness and time spent in hospital may mean you get to tell your roommate about Jesus.

A flood in your city might help you meet people in a shelter who become lifelong friends.

Ask God to help you see even bad things as good gifts from Him.

PRAYER: Dear Jesus, You can bring good things out of bad. Help me to trust You for this in my life. Amen.

MORE: Your Bad to Good
- Name some bad things that have happened to you.

- What good things came out of the bad?

- What bad things are you facing now?

- Will you trust God to bring something good out of those bad things?

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Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Friday, October 14, 2016

The First Martyr

TODAY’S SPECIAL: Acts 7:51-60

TO CHEW ON: "Then he fell on his knees and cried out, 'Lord, do not hold this sin against them.' When he had said this, he fell asleep." Acts 7:60

Stephen was known for his wisdom. He was full of the Holy Spirit. He did many signs and miracles. But even such a special man had enemies.

Some important people argued with him about Jesus, and lost the argument. They decided to silence him. So they got people to tell lies about him. Then they arrested him and put him on trial. Stephen used his trial to talk about Jesus even more.

"Stephen before he is martyred" - Artist unknown"Stephen before he is martyred" - Artist unknown

When he told the High Priest (his judge) and the crowd, they were enemies of God because they had killed Jesus, it was too much for them. In anger they dragged him outside the city and threw stones at him.

"The stoning of Stephen" - Artist unknown"The stoning of Stephen" - Artist unknown

But even then Stephen honored Jesus. He asked God to forgive the people who were hurting him. Then he died.

"The stoning of Stephen" by Julius Schnorr von Carolsfeld, 1851-60"The stoning of Stephen" by Julius Schnorr von Carolsfeld, 1851-60

Would we have had such forgiving hearts?

PRAYER:
Dear God, please give me the courage to stay true to You and love my enemies no matter what happens. Amen.


MORE: Modern Martyrs
Have you ever been teased for being a Christian? Have you been threatened or hurt? That is persecution.

What is the difference between being persecuted and being a martyr?

- Check out Kids of Courage for some modern-day stories of people who are being persecuted.


- Pick out one country where Christians are being persecuted and martyred. Begin to pray for that country and the Christians who live there.

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Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

God's All-seeing Eyes

TODAY’S SPECIAL: Acts 5:1-10

TO CHEW ON: "With his wife’s full knowledge, he kept back part of the money for himself, but brought the rest and laid it at the apostles’ feet." Acts 5:2

Some early Christians sold their property and gave the money from those sales to help others. Ananias and Sapphira decided to do this too. But instead of bringing the whole amount, they brought just a part and kept back some for themselves.

There was nothing wrong with this. But then Ananias did a sneaky thing. He gave the money to the leaders as if it were the entire amount. He tried to leave the impression that he was giving everything, even though he wasn’t. Later his wife Sapphira lied in the same way.

But God saw their deception. He told Peter, and Peter exposed their lie. That day Ananias fell down dead when Peter confronted him with what he had done.

"Death of Ananias" by Raphael"Death of Ananias" by Raphael

Later the same thing happened to Sapphira. It was God’s judgment on them for trying to deceive.

"Death of Sapphira" by Nicolas Poissin-1652"Death of Sapphira" by Nicolas Poissin-1652

PRAYER: Dear God, I cannot fool You, even if I try. Help me to be honest with myself, with others and with You. Amen.


MORE: Old Sins Lying Around?
In the Bible, God rarely punished people for sins as immediately as he punished Ananias and Sapphira. But someday God will make public the things we have knowingly covered up and tried to hide.

Have you ever told a lie? Did you get away with it? Know that God sees and knows your lie, even though nothing has ever happened to you because of it. It’s a good idea to confess it to God now and know His forgiveness.

It may be a good idea for you to also say sorry to the person you deceived. Talk to God about this. Then do what He tells you.

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Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.