Friday, October 20, 2017

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.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

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.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

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.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

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.

Monday, October 16, 2017

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.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

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.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

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.

Friday, October 13, 2017

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.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

The Sharing Church

TODAY’S SPECIAL: Acts 4:32-36

TO CHEW ON: "All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they shared everything they had." Acts 4:32

It was only weeks after Jesus had returned to heaven. But the people who believed in Jesus lived with Holy Spirit power and amazing things happened. The Apostles - Peter, John and others - preached boldly. Signs and miracles happened everywhere. As a result thousands believed in Jesus.

These new followers of Jesus spent a lot of time together - meeting in the temple courts, praising God and boasting about what He had done. They even ate their meals together.

"The Apostles preaching" - Artist unknown"The Apostles preaching" - Artist unknown

Another thing they did was share – everything they had. In fact, people were so generous, they sold their things and brought the money to the leaders to help pay for the needs of those who didn’t have enough. Not one of those early Christians needed to beg, use food stamps or go to the food bank.

"They shared what they had" - Artist unknown"They shared what they had" - Artist unknown

How do you feel about sharing? Is it hard for you to let others use, borrow or have your stuff? Has anyone ever shared with you? Which do you find easier, to share your things with someone or to take when someone shares with you?

PRAYER: Dear Jesus, help me to willingly share my possessions. Amen.

MORE: Share Your Stuff- Go through your closets, drawers and shelves.

- Collect, in a bag, all the things you no longer need.

- Deliver it to the Salvation Army, your downtown mission or any place that helps people in need.

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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 11, 2017

Obey Whom?

TODAY’S SPECIAL: Acts 4:13-21

TO CHEW ON: "Then they called them in again and commanded them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John replied, 'Which is right in God’s eyes: to listen to you, or to him? You be the judges!'” Acts 4:18,19

After God healed the lame man through Peter, many people believed in Jesus. This made the religious leaders jealous.

"Preaching to the multitudes" - Artist unknown"Preaching to the multitudes" - Artist unknown

First they ordered Peter and John to stop preaching. Then they grilled them with questions. Finally they told them not to speak of Jesus any more OR ELSE and let them go.


"The boldness of Peter and John" - Artist unknown "The boldness of Peter and John" - Artist unknown

But Peter and John had no intention of obeying the leaders’ order. They knew in some things it’s more important to obey God than people.

"Peter and John before the Sanhedrin" - Artist unknown"Peter and John before the Sanhedrin" - Artist unknown

What about today? Can you think of a situation when you would need to disobey what someone told you to do or the law of your land in order to obey God?


PRAYER: Dear God, please help me to know when I should obey You even if it means I would be disobeying others. Then give me the courage to do what pleases You. Amen.


MORE: Hard Choices
Are there times when we too have to choose between obeying God and people? What would you do in the following situations? Why?

  • You see your friend steal something. Your friend demands that you don’t tell.
  • Someone on the phone asks for your dad, but he tells you to say he’s not home.
  • On the school playground you talk to a friend about Jesus. Someone tells the teacher and she asks you never to talk about Jesus on school property again.
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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 10, 2017

Not What He Asked For

TODAY’S SPECIAL: Acts 3:1-10


TO CHEW ON: "When he saw Peter and John about to enter, he asked them for money." Acts 3:3

The man who sat at the temple entrance to beg had always been crippled. As a boy he had never climbed trees, played tag or walked to a friend’s home to play. By now he was used to not being able to walk. He didn’t ask for much any more -- just a few coins to buy food and pay rent.

His life was hard and disappointing. He had few nice surprises. I’m sure he didn’t expect much to change. Probably after he asked Peter for money and heard his answer: “Silver and gold I do not have...” he was already feeling disappointed.

"St. Peter and St. John cure the lame man" - Nicolas Poussin 1655"St. Peter and St. John cure the lame man" - Nicolas Poussin 1655

But in the instant that Peter took the man’s hand and lifted him to his feet, God’s power came into his body. His feet and ankles became strong. He could walk for the first time -- and leap and skip and jump! God gave him, not what he asked for but something far, far better.

St. Peter and St. John at the Beautiful Gate - Gustave Dore
Maybe you’ve been waiting for something in your life to change but so far it hasn’t. Don’t give up. Keep asking. For just around the corner may be the answer to your prayer and far more!

PRAYER: Dear Jesus, help me to wait for You to give the best things, those things I haven’t even dared to hope for. Amen.



MORE:
Ask For It!
1. On a piece of paper write one thing in your life you wish would change.

2. Tuck your wish into your Bible, your journal or some place where you will see it and remember to pray about it

3. Talk to God about it regularly.

4. Now watch for God’s answer to your prayer. When it comes, write the answer and the date on the paper with the request.

5. Display it in a place where it will remind you how much God loves and cares for 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.

Monday, October 9, 2017

Power!

TODAY’S SPECIAL: Acts 2:1-13

TO CHEW ON: "Amazed and perplexed, they asked one another, 'What does this mean?'” Acts 2:12

Picture this. A group of people have met in a house for a church service. Suddenly the house is filled with the sound of a loud wind.

"Pentecost" by Kelly Nora"Pentecost" by Kelly Nora

Tongues that look like fire rest on each person’s head. Then these people begin to talk, but in languages they’ve never learned.

Out on the street people passing by hear sounds from inside the building. They gather to listen. These listeners have come from many places and speak different languages. Now they are hearing the people inside the house saying words they can understand. They’re talking about how wonderful God is.

"The Holy Spirit Comes at Pentecost" - Artist unknown"The Holy Spirit Comes at Pentecost" - Artist unknown

What do you think?
1.___ This never happened - it was all made up.
2. ___ This was the Holy Spirit power that Jesus had told His friends to wait for.
3. ___ The disciples were drunk.

According to the Bible, this did happen. The day the Holy Spirit entered the Jerusalem room where the disciples were waiting is called Pentecost. Before that day the Holy Spirit gave power to God’s special servants. Pentecost was a day when God’s power became available to every Christian.

Here are some things the Holy Spirit does in your life and mine:

1. He helps us know and understand who Jesus is (John 15:26).
2. He invites us to come to Jesus (Revelation 22:17).
3. He causes us to be born again (John 3:5).
4. He makes us feel guilty and fear God’s judgment when we sin (John 16:7-8).
5. He helps us worship God (John 4:23-24).
6. He helps us pray (Romans 8:26).

PRAYER: Dear God, I welcome Holy Spirit into my life. Amen.

MORE: Modern Holy Spirit- Does Holy Spirit still give us power to witness today? In what ways?

- Have you been in a place where Holy Spirit’s power was evident? What did you see? Hear?

- What modern-day stories have you heard that would prove that Holy Spirit still gives power to Jesus’ followers today?

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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 8, 2017

Last Words

TODAY’S SPECIAL: Acts 1:3-8


TO CHEW ON: 'But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.' Acts 1:8

We pay close attention to a person’s last words. When we know we are seeing someone for the last time, we’re careful to listen to the things they say.

The words above are the last words written in the Bible that Jesus said to His disciples before He went into heaven. He told His followers two important things.


"Jesus before His return to heaven" - Artist unknown"Jesus before His return to heaven" - Artist unknown

Complete Jesus’ instructions by filling in the blanks using Acts 1:8 and the words below:

1. Jesus had a job for them to do:
You will be ______ ________ in __________, ___________, __________ and to the ends of the earth.

2. He would help them do that job:
You will _________ _________ when the ________ ______ comes on you.

Samaria,   Jerusalem,

receive,   my,   power,

Spirit,   Judea,

Holy,    witnesses


After Jesus said these things, He left His disciples and returned to heaven.


"The Ascension" - Artist unknown"The Ascension" - Artist unknown

The job Jesus gave His disciples just before He went back to heaven is still our job today. Are we doing it?

PRAYER: Dear Holy Spirit, please give me power to be a witness for Jesus in my world. Amen.

MORE: Your Assignment
Jesus gave this job assignment to people:
- whose home city was Jerusalem
- whose home province or state was Judea
- whose neighboring province or state was Samaria.

Fill out Jesus’ job assignment for you:


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 7, 2017

Death to Death!

TODAY’S SPECIAL: Matthew 28:1-10

TO CHEW ON: "He is not here; he has risen just as he said ..." Matthew 28:6

Something mysterious happens when people die. The invisible but living part of a person – the moving, breathing, thinking, feeling, loving part – leaves the body. The body – the physical shell which did the breathing, talking, laughing and hugging – is still there. But it is empty - the real person is gone. We call them dead.

Physical death is final. Even the most clever doctor can’t capture the living part of a person and stuff it back into a dead body to make the person come alive again.

It was now three days after Jesus had died and been buried. Some of His women friends went to the tomb on the morning after the Sabbath.

When they got there, everything was different than they expected. The large stone that had stood in front of the cave tomb wasn’t there.

"The stone was rolled away" - Artist unknown"The stone was rolled away" - Artist unknown

A shining angel greeted them. The angel said, “I know you’re looking for Jesus. He’s not here, He’s risen. Come and see where He was lying.”

"Women at the Grave of Jesus" by O. A. Stemler & Bess B. Cleaveland"Women at the Grave of Jesus" by O. A. Stemler & Bess B. Cleaveland

When they stepped into the tomb it was true. The spot where Jesus had been lying was empty.

"Why seek ye the living among the dead?" Artist unknown"Why seek ye the living among the dead?" Artist unknown

“Go and tell His disciples, Jesus has risen from the dead,” the angel told them.

"Go, tell His disciples, He is risen" Artist unknown
"Go, tell His disciples, He is risen" Artist unknown
Jesus, God’s son, knew His death wouldn’t be final. For though people can’t make dead people come alive again, God can. Many times Jesus had told the disciples He would rise from the dead. But when the women told the disciples the wonderful news, they were shocked. Their surprise shows that either they didn’t hear Him, or they didn’t believe Him, or both.

Do we hear and believe the things God says to us:
- He loves and cares for us?
- He hears and answers prayer?
- Someday we too will have a new body?



PRAYER:
Dear God, help me to hear and believe the things You say. Amen.


"Thomas feeling Jesus' wounds"
by O. A. Stemler & Bess B. Cleaveland

"Thomas feeling Jesus' wounds" by O. A. Stemler & Bess B. Cleaveland
MORE: Jesus’ resurrection body was different from His body before death. Which statements about His new body are not true? Check the Scriptures below if you’re unsure.

1. Jesus’ new body glowed in the dark.

2. The resurrected Jesus could eat food.

3. The resurrected Jesus could appear and disappear miraculously.

4. After his resurrection, Jesus could only fly, not walk.

5. Jesus’ resurrection body was see-through or transparent.

6. Jesus’ resurrection body was solid - you could touch and feel it.

Scriptures to check:
  • Matthew 28:9
  • Luke 24:15
  • Luke 24: 31-42
  • John 20:26-27
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 6, 2017

Dark Day

TODAY’S SPECIAL: Matthew 27:45-54

TO CHEW ON:
“Surely he was the Son of God!” Matthew 27:54

After Pilate’s soldiers were through with Jesus, they put His own clothes on Him again. Then they made Him carry the cross on which He would be nailed. It was about 9 o’clock in the morning when the soldiers and criminals got to Golgotha hill. They lay Jesus on the cross, nailed Him to it, then raised the cross to stand upright.

"The Erection of the Cross" by Gustave Dore, 1865"The Erection of the Cross" by Gustave Dore, 1865

What happened over the next hours is not pleasant to read. The soldiers who watched cast lots (like drawing straws) to see who would get Jesus’ clothes.

"And sitting down they kept watch over Him there." by James Tissot"And sitting down they kept watch over Him there." by James Tissot

People taunted and teased Him. Jesus asked John to look after His mother. He told a thief beside Him that He could be forgiven. At noon everything got as dark as night.

"The Darkness at the Crucifixion" by Gustave Dore, 1865"The Darkness at the Crucifixion" by Gustave Dore, 1865

This lasted for three hours. Around 3 o’clock Jesus cried, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

He asked for something to drink. They held up a sponge dipped in vinegar.

"I am thirsty" by James Tissot"I am thirsty" by James Tissot

"It is finished!" Jesus cried out. Then He died.

"The Earthquake" by James Tissot"The Earthquake" by James Tissot

Chaos. In the darkness, people heard the temple curtain rip from top to bottom. There was an earthquake. People came out of tombs.

Why did the darkness, the curtain ripping and the earthquake happen? Were they all coincidence? Or did the person who wrote this make it up? Or was Jesus really the Son of God - and God was telling us through nature what an important thing had just happened? I think it is the last one; what do you think?

That day everything changed - for every person past, present and future. That day Jesus paid the penalty that God demands for sin, with His life. If you and I accept that He did this for us, God accepts us as forgiven. We can be friends with Him.

PRAYER: Dear Jesus, Son of God, thank You for dying on the cross and taking the punishment I deserve. Amen.

 
MORE: It Was Predicted
Jesus’ death fulfilled many Old Testament prophecies - another proof He was no ordinary man. Match each prediction with the place it is found in the Bible:

_____ 1. They would cast lots for Jesus’ clothes
_____ 2. None of Jesus’ bones would be broken.
_____ 3. Jesus would be pierced.
_____ 4. Jesus would be given vinegar to drink.
_____ 5. Jesus would be a laughingstock and people would stare at Him.

A. Psalm 69:21
B. Psalm 22:18
C. Psalm 34:20
D. Psalm 22:17
E. Psalm 22:16

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 5, 2017

Silent

TODAY’S SPECIAL: Mark 15:1-5; 15-20

TO CHEW ON: "So again Pilate asked him, 'Aren’t you going to answer? See how many things they are accusing you of.' 

But Jesus still made no reply, and Pilate was amazed." Mark 15:4,5

Judas led the soldiers into Gethsemane. He walked up to Jesus, called out “Teacher!” and gave Jesus a kiss. It looked like a meeting of good friends. But it wasn’t. This kiss was not a love kiss but a kiss of betrayal. It was Judas’s signal telling the soldiers which person to arrest.

"Judas the Betrayer" - Artist unknown"Judas the Betrayer" - Artist unknown

The soldiers arrested Jesus and took Him away for a trial at the High Priest’s house. There false witnesses lied about what Jesus had said and done. The Jewish leaders pronounced Him guilty of blasphemy - a crime that deserved the death penalty under Jewish law.

"Jesus before Caiaphas" - Artist unknown"Jesus before Caiaphas" - Artist unknown

Early next morning they brought Him to Pilate, the Roman Governor. They wanted Pilate to condemn Jesus to death by crucifixion - hanging on a cross.

"Jesus before Pilate" - Artist unknown"Jesus before Pilate" - Artist unknown

Find five things Pilate’s soldiers did to Jesus before He was led away to be crucified? (Mark 15:15-20)
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.



When these things were happening to Him, Jesus did not fight back. Why do you think Jesus reacted the way He did?

PRAYER: Dear Jesus, thank You for Your example of meekness in suffering. Help me learn to trust God in suffering like You did. Amen.


MORE: Modern Trials
Our courts work differently than the courts in Jesus’ time. Can you match these modern-day trial words with their meanings?

1. Jury | 2. Judge | 3. Witness | 4. Accused | 
 
5. Verdict | 6. Evidence | 7. Testimony | 
 
8. Plaintiff | 9. Lawyer 
 
************** 
A.  This is what the decision of a judge or jury  is called.

B.  This is a  person who knows or has seen something.

C. This person gives advice to and acts for a person in court.

D. This is a  group of people in court who decide whether the accused is guilty or innocent.

E. This person accuses someone of a crime.

F. This is what people say they saw or heard.

G. This person pronounces the verdict of guilt or innocence.

H. This person is accused of a crime.

I. This may prove or disprove that a thing happened.


- Do you think Jesus’s trial would have been different in our courts? 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.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Betrayed!

TODAY’S SPECIAL: John 13:18-30


TO CHEW ON: 'Very truly I tell you, one of you is going to betray me.' - Jesus, John 13:21

  • Your brother promises to wait for you after school, but then walks home without you.

  • You tell your best friend a secret and ask her not to tell anyone. But the next day you find that five people in your class know your secret.

  • Your baseball team has its own signals. One day you play a team that knows exactly what each of your signals means.

You have been betrayed! Whether betrayal comes from someone disappointing you, telling your secrets or helping your enemy, being betrayed is not fun.

My Betrayer is Here - Artist unknown"My Betrayer Is Here" - Artist unknown

Jesus was betrayed too. His betrayer came to the garden where He was praying. He came with soldiers who were planning to arrest Jesus.

1. Who was the traitor? (John 18:1-6)
a)____ John
b)____ Peter
c)____ Judas.

2. How did he betray Jesus: (Mark 14:43-46)
a)____ He spread bad stories about Jesus all around town.
b)____ He lost the money bag he was in charge of.
c)____ He kissed Jesus to show the soldiers which person to arrest.

Betrayed with a Kiss - Artist unknown"Betrayed with a Kiss" - Artist unknown

3.What was the purpose of Judas’ betrayal? (John 13:18)
a)____ to fulfill the Scripture
b)____ to help Judas get more money.
c)____ to show that Satan was more powerful than God.

I’m sure this betrayal by a friend hurt Jesus as much as being betrayed by our friends hurts us. But even this bad thing worked out to be good – for Jesus, and for us. It was one of the steps that led toward Jesus being killed. But that death and what happened later makes it possible for you and me to be friends with God now.

PRAYER: Dear Jesus, thank You for taking this betrayal for me. Help me not to be a person who betrays others. Amen

MORE: Traitors
  • Have you ever betrayed someone? Who? What did you do?
  • Has someone every betrayed you? Who was the traitor? What did they do?
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.