Author: Joe Sutton

The Big Ten: Honour for the Honourable

The Big TenYesterday we continued our mini-series on the Ten Commandments.  If you couldn’t join us then you can catch up here.  We looked at the 5th Commandment, which in the ESV reads:

“Honour your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you.”

Honour For Parents

We noted how Paul applies this Commandment to the gentiles in Ephesus when he says:

Ephesians 6 1 Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. 2 “Honour your father and mother” (this is the first commandment with a promise), 3 “that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.”

So for Paul, the most straightforward understanding is obedience. Thus, the first and primary meaning is that children are commanded to honour their parents. This means, literally, consider them to be “weighty,” significant, and of great importance. This would work out in many different ways, for example:

  • Obedience to their instructions and wishes
  • Heeding their wisdom and advice
  • Deference to them
  • Honouring by enacting deeds of blessing for them
  • Doing nothing that could lead to their shame or disgrace
  • Provision for them in old age

Neither Moses nor Paul put limits on this: it doesn’t expire with age and it isn’t invalidated if parents are not honourable. The Pharisees tried to find ways around this command, and you can read Jesus’ thoughts on the matter in Mark 7:9-13.

Great examples of honouring parents can be found in the lives of Noah’s sons Shem and Japheth in Genesis 9, in Isaac and in Joseph in particular with his wonderful provision for his family who left him for dead. Ruth is a remarkable example of loyalty to her mother-in-law, and through her loyalty great blessing for her – and the entire world! – came to pass.

Honour From Parents

We discussed how a natural extension of this Commandment is that parents should therefore be honourable. This means, for example:

  • Educating our children – we may entrust this to schools but the parents remain ultimately responsible
  • Providing consistent, appropriate and proportionate discipline
  • Providing consistent and reasonable boundaries that are reviewed as the child matures

But perhaps the greatest and most honourable thing a parent can do is model the Christian walk.  It doesn’t mean being perfect; it means giving an example of prayer and trust, of forgiveness and repentance, of worship and fellowship.  If, for example, we are putting our own priorities and agenda ahead of God’s, we are teaching our children to be selfish!

Parents, to young children, are like God to them.  They are their source of life, they provide their needs, they teach them and protect them.  In many other ways, too.  As such, we parents – and perhaps especially fathers – have the awesome responsibility of depicting the heart of The Father to them.  A high calling, and we do well to seek God for assistance!

Dishonourable Parents

We touched on the difficult topic of how to handle dishonourable or even abusive parents.  Sadly, mankind’s brokenness is such that many thousands of children are abused.  The National Association of People Abused in Childhood publish some alarming statistics here.

The will of the LORD for us is that, as followers and believers in the Lord Jesus, our calling is one of forgiveness, even as we have been forgiven.  We looked at David and Saul in 1 Samuel 24 as an example of showing honour even to a wicked, abusive king.

Showing honour might look like:

  • Praying for the salvation of our parents
  • Not speaking ill of them
  • Not blaming them for our own sins
  • Forgiveness and responding to change, should their be any

However, it is not honourable to tolerate abuse of any kind.  Just as David did, and as the Lord enables, you leave.

Honour Our Father

Jesus said many incredible things during His ministry on Earth.  One, in particular, was revealing God as “The Father.”  This concept is almost entirely absent from the Old Testament, and only hinted at in a couple of prophetic passages about the Coming Messiah.  One of the central tenets of the Christian faith is that, when we come to saving knowledge and believe the message, we are adopted by God the Father.  We enter into an intimate Father/child relationship with Him, something all throughout the Old Testament no one could boast.

All praise, honour and glory is due to Him.  It’s Him whom we ultimately revere and obey.  Our relationship with Him supersedes all others (see Luke 14:26-27).  So, while we are charged to obey and honour our parents, it would never be in violation to the Word of God.

Just as our earthly fathers discipline us, so too does our Heavenly Father.  The difference is, He does it perfectly.  Our challenge is to humbly submit to God’s discipline, knowing that ultimately it works for our good and His glory.

The Big Ten

The Big Ten: No Other Name

The Big TenThis morning we continued our series-within-a-series, pausing on the Ten Commandments to really drill down into each one.  As always, the sermon is available in the media section of the website.

Today we tackled the Third Commandment:

“You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain.”

The text of the verse can be taken in multiple ways.  Three possible re-phrasings of the prohibitions would be:

  • Don’t receive to yourself the Name of the Lord in a way empty of meaning.
  • Don’t bear the name of God in futility.
  • Don’t use God’s name in an empty, trivial or worthless way.

The Name of the LORD is something we’ve discussed much in our time in Exodus.  What’s clear from the Scriptures is that the Name of God is inseparable from God Himself.  In the Psalms we frquently read of, for example, giving thanks to God’s Name (54:6), singing praises to it (92:1), and blessing it (96:2).  So, what we do with God’s Name is what we do with God Himself.

Jesus, The Name of God

We reviewed the text of Matthew 1:20-25 and made some discoveries:

Matthew 1:20–25 (ESV)

20 … an angel of the Lord appeared to [Joseph] in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” 22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet:

23  “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel”

(which means, God with us). 24 When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife, 25 but knew her not until she had given birth to a son. And he called his name Jesus.

We notice how the Son to be born will bear two names:

  • Jesus, which derives from the Hebrew name Jehoshua (Joshua) and means “The LORD’s Salvation”
  • Immanuel, which means “God with us”

Jesus is “The LORD’s Salvation”, and He is God incarnate.  In John 17:6 He declares that He has manifested God’s name – meaning, He has made it visible.  We can’t escape the reality that Jesus Christ was declared to be – and claimed to be – God Himself.

Needless to say, this has implications!  There are two key ones for us:

Trust in the Name of Jesus for Salvation

Peter declared in Acts 4:12, “there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”  There is no other foundation.  Jesus’ very name means that He is The LORD’s Salvation, and if we don’t have Him, we don’t have salvation.  We can’t clean ourselves up or make ourselves fit; we come to The LORD’s Salvation as we are, and receive the free gift He freely offers.

Reflect the Name you bear

Because God’s Name represents Him, He is zealous to protect His Holy Name.  He is not prepared to be made a mockery for long!  Just as Jesus Himself cleansed the Temple in John 2:15ff, He wants to cleanse His Temple today (see 1 Cor 3:16) of unrighteousness.  In 1 Timothy 6:1, Paul comments how our good conduct ensures “that the name of God and the teaching may not be reviled.”  How we act as Christians, bearers of the name of Christ, matters.  Either it brings God glory and honour, or it brings disrepute and shame.

Paul has a phrase he’s fond of, using it three times in his epistles.  It’s “walk in a manner worthy.”  Worthy of our calling in Ephesians 4:1, worthy of God in 1 Thessalonians 2:12, and worthy of the Lord in Colossians 1:10.  So we need to pause and consider:

  • Does my manner of life and conduct properly reflect my God?
  • Does my worship reflect the joy of one destined for eternal bliss and contentment?
  • Does my work represent one who is rendering service to the Lord Christ?

Let us not bear the Name of Christ in vain!  Let us trust Him fully for our salvation, and let us seek to conduct ourselves as He would have us to, fully reliant upon His Holy Spirit to do so.

This Week at Calvary Family Ministry

For you to discuss and engage in the spiritual life of your children here is what we looked at this week at Calvary Family Ministry.

Topic:

God’s covenant with Abraham (Genesis 12, 15 and 17)

Synopsis:

God promised to bless all the world through Abraham. God sent Jesus from His home in heaven to be born on earth into Abraham’s family. Through Jesus, all the nations of the earth are blessed because Jesus saves people from their sins.

Talking Point:

Since the beginning, God wanted to bless and provide for His people. Genesis 11 records the generations between Noah and Abram. Noah’s son Shem had a family. Through Shem’s line, God would keep His promise to send a Savior. Shem’s seventh-great grandson was named Abram. Abram was born in Ur of the Chaldeans.

Abram was in his homeland when God spoke to him. God told Abram: “Go out from your land, your relatives, and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. I will make you into a great nation, I will bless you, I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, I will curse anyone who treats you with contempt, and all the peoples on earth will be blessed through you” (Gen. 12:1-3).

By faith, Abram obeyed God. He traveled toward the land of Canaan with his wife, Sarai; his father, Terah; and his nephew, Lot. They settled in Haran, about 600 miles from their home. When Abram was 75 years old, he left Haran with his wife, his nephew, and all their possessions.

Genesis 15 records the Abrahamic covenant. The word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision. God made a covenant with Abram and promised to give him offspring as numerous as the stars in the sky and to give his family the land of Canaan. At 99 years old, Abram was still childless. How would God keep His promise if Abram didn’t have any children? But God was serious about the covenant; He always keeps His promises. God even changed Abram’s name to Abraham, which means “Father of a Multitude.”

God promised to bless all the earth through Abraham. At just the right time, Jesus was born into Abraham’s family. (Gal. 4:4-5) Jesus fulfilled God’s promise to Abraham. (See Gal. 3:8.) Jesus came into the world to save sinners. Through Him, all the nations of the earth are blessed.

Questions to discuss with your child:

Q: Why can we trust God?

A: We can trust God because He is faithful and does everything for His glory and our good.

Discuss: God made a covenant to bless all the world through Abraham.

Key Unit Passage:

Galatians 3:29

Next Week:

Abraham and Isaac (Genesis 22)

This Week at Calvary Family Ministry

For you to discuss and engage in the spiritual life of your children here is what we looked at this week at Calvary Family Ministry.

Topic:

The suffering of Job (Job)

Synopsis:

Job learned that God is all-powerful, sovereign, and good. When we face suffering, we can hope in God. God sent Jesus, the only truly innocent One, to suffer and die so that everyone who trusts in Him can have forgiveness and eternal life.

Talking Point

Why would we hear the story of Job while studying stories from Genesis? Most biblical authorities believe, based on subject matter and language, that Job was a contemporary to the patriarchs. Job fits chronologically into this period in history.

Job was a wealthy man who loved God. At the beginning of the book, God allows Satan to test Job’s faithfulness. Job lost everything, and he asked God why these things were happening. God answered Job, and His response reveals that God alone is all-powerful, sovereign, and good.

“Have you ever in your life commanded the morning or assigned the dawn its place?” (Job 38:12). God has. He is all-powerful. “Does the eagle soar at your command?” (Job 39:27). It does at God’s. He is sovereign. “Who provides the raven’s food when its young cry out to God?” (Job 38:41). God provides. He is good.

While the Book of Job speaks volumes to the problem of human suffering, it is also an important picture of how a suffering person should relate to God. Throughout all of Job’s suffering, Job never turned away from God. Job didn’t understand his suffering, but he understood who God is. Job’s suffering ultimately brought him closer to God.

Job reminds us that following Jesus is worth it. God is good, present, and in control. We can trust Him when we don’t understand the pain we have to endure. At the cross, God used the ultimate pain to bring about the ultimate good: our future and final salvation from sin.

Questions to discuss with your child:

Q: Who is God?

A: God is our Creator and King.

Discuss: Job learned that God is good, even in suffering.

Key Unit Passage:

Colossians 1:16-17

Next Week:

God’s covenant with Abraham (Genesis 12, 15 and 17)

This Week at Calvary Family Ministry

For you to discuss and engage in the spiritual life of your children here is what we looked at this week at Calvary Family Ministry.

Topic:

The Tower of Babel (Genesis 11)

Synopsis:

People chose to give glory to themselves instead of God. They ignored God’s plan, so God confused their language and scattered the people all over the earth. One day, Jesus will gather together all of God’s people—people from every tribe and people who speak all kinds of languages—and they will worship Him together. (Revelation 7:9-10)

Talking Point

Following the flood, God commanded Noah in Genesis 9:1 to “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth.” This command echoes the one given to Adam and Eve in Genesis 1:28. God intended the paradise of the garden to spread into the whole world, but sinful people had other desires.

Genesis 10 accounts for the nations that spread out in the land after the flood (Gen. 10:32). The people moved east and settled in a valley. This story continues the cycle of distrust and disobedience to God. In Genesis 11:2, Scripture indicates that instead of filling the earth as God commanded, the people devised a plan to settle in one place and build a city and a large tower into the sky.

Read Genesis 11:4. The people’s motive was clear: “Let us make a name for ourselves.” The people didn’t want to be scattered. They didn’t believe God would give them what was good if they obeyed Him. They sought to obtain for themselves what they believed was good.

The people tried to build a monument with its top in the sky, but they succeeded only in separating themselves from God and from each other. God confused their language and scattered them over the earth. They were unable to finish building the city, so the city was called Babel—which sounds like the Hebrew word for “confused”—because there the Lord confused the people’s language.

Through Jesus, God brings together people of every tongue, tribe, and nation; we are all one in Christ. That is the gospel. Pray that the kids you teach would have open hearts to receive it.

Questions to discuss with your child:

Q: Who is God?

A: God is our Creator and King.

Discuss: People tried to build a tower to glorify themselves instead of God.

Key Unit Passage:

Colossians 1:16-17

Next Week:

The suffering of Job (Job)

This Week at Calvary Family Ministry

For you to discuss and engage in the spiritual life of your children here is what we looked at this week at Calvary Family Ministry.

Topic:

Noah and the ark (Genesis 6-9)

Synopsis:

God rescued Noah and his family from the flood. The story of Noah points ahead to a greater rescue. God’s Son, Jesus—the only perfectly righteous One—came to take the punishment for our sin. By trusting in Him, we are saved from the punishment our sin deserves.

Talking Point

Adam and Eve left the garden to start a life out in the world. Despite the grief of their sins, imagine their joy as their family grew. With each birth, maybe Eve hoped this son would be the one to end the curse of sin, to crush the head of the snake. (Gen. 3:15) But Adam and Eve witnessed sin’s effects on their own children: Cain murdered Abel. Cain was not the Promised One, and neither was Abel.

Some time later, Eve gave birth to another son, Seth. Seth lived 912 years. He saw the earth’s population grow as God sustained generation after generation. Less than 20 years after his death, Seth’s sixth-great-grandson, Noah was born.

By this time—10 generations after Adam—people had stopped following God. Scripture describes a deplorable situation: “Human wickedness was widespread on the earth … every inclination of the human mind was nothing but evil all the time” (Gen. 6:5).

God decided to send a flood to cleanse the earth. He was right to punish this sin. The waters would cover the earth and destroy everything. God graciously chose to save one man and his family, so He warned Noah about the flood and told him to build an ark.

Noah believed God’s warning about the coming judgment. He obediently worked to build the ark. But the work took years, and Noah likely faced ridicule from his friends and neighbors. Was Noah crazy, building a boat where there was no water?

Finally, God’s judgment came. Floodwaters covered the earth. Every living thing was destroyed, but Noah and his family were safe inside the ark. God rescued Noah’s family—the family His own Son would be born into. Jesus would warn of God’s coming judgment too, but instead of condemning the world, Jesus would give up His life to rescue sinners.

Questions to discuss with your child:

Q: Who is God?

A: God is our Creator and King.

Discuss: God punished sin but chose to rescue Noah and his family.

Key Unit Passage:

Colossians 1:16-17

Next Week:

The Tower of Babel (Genesis 11)



This Week at Calvary Family Ministry

For you to discuss and engage in the spiritual life of your children here is what we looked at this week at Calvary Family Ministry.

Topic:

Sin entered the world (Genesis 3)

Synopsis:

Ever since Adam and Eve sinned, all people have been sinners. Our sin separates us from God, but God still loves us. God promised a Rescuer would come from Eve’s family. God sent His Son, Jesus, to rescue people from sin and bring them back to God.

Talking Point:

Adam and Eve enjoyed all that was good in the garden of Eden. The Lord gave them only one restriction: “You must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil,” and the punishment for disobeying was severe: “You will certainly die” (Gen. 2:17).

Before the fall, Adam and Eve enjoyed a loving, two-way relationship with God. The garden was a true paradise. God filled the garden with good gifts so that they might enjoy them and give thanks to God. This glorifies God. All of that changed when Adam and Eve gave in to the serpent’s temptation. Eve believed the lie that leads many of us to sin: Maybe God is holding out on me.

Adam and Eve desired something more: the wisdom the fruit offered. But when their eyes were opened, they were aware of their nakedness and they felt ashamed. Surely the Lord’s heart broke at their act of disobedience and rebellion. Because of their sin, He cast them out of the garden. Though they did not die right away, sin’s effect was immediate and thorough. Their lives and their children’s lives—and the lives of all of mankind—would be forever affected by their choice.

God did not leave Adam and Eve without hope. He promised that one of Eve’s descendants would strike the head of the serpent. (Gen. 3:15) Each generation after Eve hoped that one of their children would be the promised One—the One who would crush the head of the snake and put an end to the curse over creation.

Sin is a big problem that needs a big solution. At just the right time, God sent His Son into the world, born as a baby. Matthew 1:21 says, “You are to name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”

Questions to discuss with your child:

Q: Who is God?

A: God is our Creator and King.

Discuss: Adam and Eve broke God’s law, and their sin separated them from God.

Key Unit Passage:

Colossians 1:16-17

Next Week:

Noah and the ark (Genesis 6-9)



This Week at Calvary Family Ministry

For you to discuss and engage in the spiritual life of your children here is what we looked at this week at Calvary Family Ministry.

Topic:

God created people (Genesis 1-2)

Synopsis:

God created people in His own image and provides for everything He made. People are special because God made people to live forever in a relationship with Him. Through His Son, Jesus, we can have eternal life with God just as He planned.

Talking Point:

On the sixth day of creation, God created man in His own image. God formed the man out of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature. (Gen. 2:7) Man was set apart as different from the rest of God’s creation. God skillfully formed man out of dust as a potter forms a pot out of clay. (See Isa. 64:8.) He put His own breath into man.

God sustained and provided for the man. He planted a garden in Eden and put the man there to work it and keep it. (Gen. 2:8,15) Then God gave the man a command. God told the man, “You must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.” Then God explained the consequences, “For on the day you eat from it, you will certainly die” (Gen. 2:17).

Then God made woman from the man’s rib. She was a suitable helper for him. Both man and woman were created in God’s image. The first man, Adam, and the first woman, Eve, lived in the garden and enjoyed God’s friendship.

Being made in the image of God means we are made like Him, or patterned after Him. God does not have a physical body; He is Spirit, and He has given each of us a spirit. God gives people the ability to think and to feel emotions and to make choices. He gives us the ability to understand right and wrong.

God created people to know and love Him. We know that Adam and Eve’s disobedience brought sin into the world. For that reason, God sent His Son, Jesus—“the image of the invisible God” (Col. 1:15) and “the exact expression of His nature” (Heb. 1:3). God the Son became fully man, acting as the second Adam, to bring life to those who are in Him. (See 1 Cor. 15:45-49.)

Questions to discuss with your child:

Q: Who is God?

A: God is our Creator and King.

Discuss: God created people in His own image, and He loves us.

Key Unit Passage:

Colossians 1:16-17

Next Week:

Sin entered the world (Genesis 3)

This Week in Calvary Family Ministry

For you to discuss and engage in the spiritual life of your children here is what we looked at this week at Calvary Family Ministry.

Topic:

God created the world (Genesis 1)

Synopsis:

Jesus is Lord over all of creation. The Son has always existed. The Bible says everything was created by Him and for Him, and He holds everything together. All of creation exists to bring God glory.

Talking Point:

In the beginning, God created everything. God created the universe ex nihilo, or “out of nothing.” All of creation began with a word. When God spoke, it happened: light, land, sky, stars, plants, and animals. God made them all, and they were good. Creation was perfect, just as God intended.

The first story—in fact, every story in the Bible—is a small piece of a much bigger story: God’s redemptive story. Sin would enter the world and affect everything, but God already knew. He already had a plan to show His grace to people through His Son (2 Tim. 1:9), to rescue and restore.

The Bible says that God’s plan existed before He created the world. (Eph. 1:4-6) The Bible tells the story of how a great God redeemed rebellious people by sending His Son, Jesus, to be the perfect sacrifice for sin.

The story of Jesus does not begin in a manger. God the Son has always existed, and He was present at creation. He is the Word through whom all things were created. (John 1:1-3) Colossians 1:16-17 says that everything was created by Him and for Him, and He holds everything together. Through creation, we see and understand God’s eternal power and divine nature. (Rom. 1:20)

God created everything with a purpose: to bring Him glory. Psalm 19:1 says, “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the expanse proclaims the work of his hands.”

The Book of Genesis is the beginning of the greatest story ever told. It is a true story, and at the center of it all is the true hero: our Savior, Jesus Christ. This story changes everything.

Questions to discuss with your child:

Q: Who is God?

A: God is our Creator and King.

Discuss: God created everything, and everything He created was good.

Key Unit Passage:

Colossians 1:16-17

Next Week:

God created people (Genesis 1-2)

This Week at Calvary Family Ministry

For you to discuss and engage in the spiritual life of your children here is what we looked at this week at Calvary Family Ministry.

Topic:

Remember God’s word (Jude)

Synopsis:

Jude warned the early Christians that some people would try to divide them by sinning and by teaching things that weren’t true. Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life—the One who protects His people from sin. Because of Jesus, we will be able to stand before God with joy.

 

Talking Point:

Jude, along with James, was a younger half-brother of Jesus. And like James, it wasn’t until Jesus rose from the dead that Jude believed Jesus was the Son of God. Sometime between AD 65 and AD 80, Jude wrote a short letter to warn believers about false teachers. False teachers had secretly made their way into the church, and Jude urged his readers not to abandon their beliefs but to “contend for the faith” (Jude 3).

Jude warned the early Christians that some people would try to divide them by sinning and by teaching things that weren’t true. Jude wanted them to not only defend the true teachings but also to actively share the gospel. He told his friends to show mercy to those who doubt, to lead others to Jesus, and to hate sin.

There are still false teachers today, and some of them still try to sneak into the church itself. God loves us, and He warns us through Scripture to be on guard. We can study His Word to know what is true, and we can rely on the Holy Spirit for wisdom and discernment.

Such a strong warning about false teachers might be reason for panic among believers, but Jude ended his letter reminding them of God’s promise. Ultimately, Jesus is the One who protects His people from sin. Throughout history, God has been working out His plan to bring a people to Himself. God will keep us, and He calls us to not only remember His truth but to encourage other believers to defend the faith.

Because of Jesus, we will be able to stand before God with great joy. In the words of Jude, “to the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, power, and authority before all time, now and forever. Amen” (Jude 25).

 

 

Questions to discuss with your child:

Q: How do we live while waiting for Jesus to return?

A: We remember God’s truth, grow in godliness, and spread the gospel.

Discuss: Jude encouraged Christians to stand strong in the faith.

Key Unit Passage:

2 Timothy 3:16-17

 

Next week’s lesson:

While we wait (2 Peter 3)

This Week at Calvary Family Ministry

For you to discuss and engage in the spiritual life of your children here is what we looked at this week at Calvary Family Ministry.

Topic:

A cheerful giver (2 Corinthians 8)

Synopsis:

God has been merciful and generous to us. He gave us the greatest gift—His own Son. Jesus showed us what generosity looks like when He gave up His life to save us from sin. Because of Jesus, we can be merciful and generous to others.

 

Talking Point:

 

Paul had written a letter (1 Corinthians) addressing several sins that were being tolerated in the church at Corinth. The letter had been a risk. The Corinthians may have rejected Paul, but they did not.

Paul wrote 2 Corinthians to celebrate what God had done in the church and to call on them for help. The church in Jerusalem was in desperate need of help, so Paul was collecting money from the other churches on their behalf.

Paul encouraged the Corinthians to be generous. He told them about the churches in Macedonia. Macedonia was an area north of Corinth. The Christians there were suffering, and they did not have a lot of wealth. Nevertheless, they had joy and gave as much as they could to help others.

Paul encouraged the believers at Corinth to give too. Giving is one way we can show we love God. God is generous to us, so we can be generous to others. Jesus was rich; He had glory and honor in heaven. But He gave that up and became poor by coming to earth to help sinners.

Jesus did this so that we, who had nothing, could become rich. Now we have salvation and eternal life in Jesus. As a result, Paul wanted the Corinthians to give generously and joyfully, out of gratitude for what God has done.

We may feel like the churches in Macedonia who had little to give, but encourage them the same way Paul encouraged the church in Corinth. It is not the amount that we give that glorifies God—it is our level of generosity and joy when we give.

Do not give out of duty but out of gratitude. God loves a cheerful giver. There are many ways to give—whether time or money or talents—to advance the work of the gospel in your city, your nation, and the world.

 

Questions to discuss with your child:

Q: Who changes us?

A: The Holy Spirit changes us to be like Jesus for God’s glory.

Discuss: God is generous to us, so we can be generous to others.

Key Unit Passage:

2 Corinthians 5:17

This Week at Calvary Family Ministry

For you to discuss and engage in the spiritual life of your children here is what we looked at this week at Calvary Family Ministry.

Topic:

The armour of God (Ephesians 6)

Synopsis:

Paul told believers to be ready to fight a spiritual battle each and every day. People and powers who are against God will be against us too. But Jesus died and rose from the dead. He had victory over evil. We can fight the battle against evil, knowing Jesus already won the war.

 

Talking Point:

Paul knew that following Jesus is difficult. After Paul met Jesus on the road to Damascus, his life was turned upside down and he was never the same. Paul spent the rest of his life struggling and suffering to advance the very gospel that he had denied and fought against before his conversion.

Paul was in prison when he wrote his letter to the believers at the church in Ephesus. Paul knew firsthand that the life of a believer is a battle—an ongoing fight. But Paul didn’t see life as a fight against the Romans, those who had thrown him in prison, or those who opposed the gospel. The battle is against evil.

At the conclusion of his letter, Paul used a Roman soldier’s armor as a picture of how we are to prepare ourselves to fight the battle against evil. Believers are to carry God’s truth, righteousness, and peace wherever we go. Likewise, we are to hold fast to our faith, salvation, and the Word of God. When we are fully protected by this armor of God, we are ready for any battle.

In addition to wearing the armor of God, Paul called on believers to pray at all times. Paul wanted to remind believers that even with the armor of God, we still need to rely on God to protect us and to win the fight against evil. God never intends for us to fight in our own power. We are to rely on His power.

Be sure to also explain that while life can be difficult and we are to be ready to fight against evil, we can have complete confidence that we will be victorious because, by His death and resurrection, Jesus has already won the war.

 

Questions to discuss with your child:

Q: Who changes us?

A: The Holy Spirit changes us to be like Jesus for God’s glory.

Discuss: God gives us what we need to stand strong against evil.

Key Unit Passage:

2 Corinthians 5:17

Next Week:

A cheerful giver (2 Corinthians 8)

This Week at Calvary Family Ministry

For you to discuss and engage in the spiritual life of your children here is what we looked at this week at Calvary Family Ministry.

Topic:

Children of God (Romans 8)

Synopsis:

God is changing believers to be more like Jesus. We are God’s children—freed from sin, given power to do what is right, and adopted into God’s family. Because Jesus died on the cross, God the Father welcomes us and promises a future with Him forever.

 

Talking Point:

Rome was one of the most important cities in Paul’s day. Paul understood that it was essential that the church in the capital of the Roman Empire be anchored in the gospel. Unlike many of the other churches we read about in the New Testament, Paul didn’t help plant the church in Rome; in fact, he hadn’t even visited yet. Paul was planning his first visit to this important church when he wrote a letter to make sure the believers there properly understood the gospel.

The Book of Romans contains one of the clearest explanations of the gospel in the Bible. Paul opens his letter by explaining the sin problem that plagues us all. He then moves on to share how Jesus’ perfect life, death, and resurrection was sufficient to save people who trust in Jesus.

In Romans 5, people are described as helpless, ungodly, sinners, and enemies apart from Christ. Then, in chapter 8, Paul begins to show how having a relationship with Jesus changes us. He describes believers as children of God in Christ. That’s quite a change!

The gospel doesn’t just spare us from the ultimate consequences of our sin. The gospel doesn’t just make us neutral to God. Because of the gospel, we are adopted by God and have the right and privilege to call God our loving Father. Being children of God means we have nothing to fear. Our relationship with God is secure for eternity.

Some may not have good relationships with their fathers, some may not have a father at all. God is our perfect Father, a Father who is always there for us and who loves us unconditionally because of His Son, Jesus.

Questions to discuss with your child:

Q: Who changes us?

A: The Holy Spirit changes us to be like Jesus for God’s glory.

Discuss: When we trust in Jesus, God gives us the Holy Spirit and makes us His children.

Key Unit Passage:

2 Corinthians 5:17

Next Week:

A transformed mind (Romans 12)

This Week at Calvary Family Ministry

For you to discuss and engage in the spiritual life of your children here is what we looked at this week at Calvary Family Ministry.

Topic:

The Church was divided (1 Corinthians 1)

Synopsis:

Paul told believers in the Corinthian church to come together because of the gospel of Jesus. He reminded them that Jesus saves sinners. Because of Jesus and what He has done, believers can humbly come together as one body.

 

Talking Point:

 

Paul helped start the church in Corinth, a city in southern Greece, during his second missionary journey. Corinth was known for its wickedness. If any city needed a church, this was it. Paul remained in Corinth for about 18 months and then continued traveling to share the gospel and plant more churches.

Six years later, Paul received word from Chloe, a believer in Corinth, that the church there was struggling. The church was fractured and openly engaging in various sins. Some believers were even denying the resurrection! This news surely troubled Paul, so he sat down to write a letter to the church.

One of the first issues Paul addressed was the church’s division. Even if he could help resolve the other issues, a divided church would never be healthy and impact the city the way it needed to. According to Chloe’s report, several factions had formed in the church. Some claimed to follow Paul. Others Apollos. Others Peter. And some even claimed to follow Jesus, which wasn’t as good as it sounded. This group was most likely simply trying to sound more spiritual than the others.

Paul told the Corinthian believers that they should not be divided; they should all be one because of their shared faith in Jesus. Jesus isn’t divided, and He alone died on the cross for them. Paul’s message was clear: the gospel does not divide believers, it unites them.

We all—kids included—are experts in finding ways to divide ourselves. Sin and selfishness divide, but Jesus and the gospel unite. God designed the church to show what true unity among a beautifully diverse people looks like.

Questions to discuss with your child:

Q: Why does God want us to obey Him?

A: Obedience is our response to God’s love for us.

Discuss: Paul wrote that Christians are joined together by faith in Jesus.

Key Unit Passage:

Galatians 2:20

Next Week:

The Church showed favouritism (James 2)

This Week at Calvary Family Ministry

For you to discuss and engage in the spiritual life of your children here is what we looked at this week at Calvary Family Ministry.

Topic:

Paul confronted Peter (Galatians 2)

Synopsis:

Peter was wrong to separate himself from the Gentiles. The gospel is for everyone, and we should show love to everyone. Paul reminded Peter that only Jesus can save people from sin. God accepts people who have faith in Jesus, not people who try to earn salvation on their own.

 

Talking Point:

 

Peter, one of Jesus’ original disciples, had grown up in a culture where the Jews believed that God only cared about them, not the Gentiles. Because of this, most of the Jews looked down on the Gentiles and refused to even associate with them. Jews believed Gentiles were unclean; Gentiles didn’t live the right way to please God. Any Jew who did associate with Gentiles did so at the risk of being ridiculed by his own people.

After Jesus’ resurrection and ascension, God shared with Peter that He loved not only the Jews, but the Gentiles as well. (Acts 10:9-16) Peter took to heart this message from God and began associating with Gentiles, even eating with Gentile believers—that is, until some Jewish believers came around. When he was among Jews, Peter did not eat with the Gentiles and even told them they were supposed to follow certain Jewish laws. But he knew that was not true! Peter also led Barnabas, known for encouraging believers and bringing them together, into acting the same way.

When the apostle Paul learned about this, he confronted Peter in person. Paul reminded Peter that they both knew that God accepts people not based on how they live but by faith. (Rom. 3:21-22) Peter’s actions contradicted that core gospel message.

Paul shared this story with the believers in Galatia (a major province of Rome in modern Turkey) to remind them, and us, of the same truth. Salvation is not based on ethnicity or external obedience to the law. Salvation comes from faith in Jesus Christ, a faith that is freely available to people of every tongue, tribe, and nation.

Salvation is found in Jesus. Because God loves all people, we—in Jesus—can love all people too.

 

 

Questions to discuss with your child:

Q: Why does God want us to obey Him?

A: Obedience is our response to God’s love for us.

Discuss: Paul wrote that we are saved through faith in Jesus alone.

Key Unit Passage:

Galatians 2:20

Next Week:

The Church was divided (1 Corinthians 1)

This Week at Calvary Family Ministry

For you to discuss and engage in the spiritual life of your children here is what we looked at this week at Calvary Family Ministry.

Topic:

Paul preached in Europe (Acts 17)

Synopsis:

The men of Athens worshiped a false god whom they did not know. Paul explained to the men God’s plan of salvation. He said that God is not like the Greek idols. Only God deserves our worship! Paul talked about Jesus and the resurrection. All people can know God because Jesus took the punishment for sin that separates people from God.

 

Talking Point:

 

Paul and Silas had been released from prison in Philippi. Before leaving the city, they met with believers at Lydia’s house and encouraged them. Then they traveled to Thessalonica and stopped at the synagogue to explain to the Jews that Jesus is the Messiah. A large number of Greeks and influential women believed in Jesus.

Before long, Jews in the city became jealous and forced Paul and Silas out of the city. Even though the Jews opposed Paul’s preaching, the number of believers in Thessalonica grew and the church there was established.

Paul made his way through Berea, where people heard the gospel and believed. The Jews from Thessalonica followed him and caused trouble, so Paul went to Athens. Athens—about 200 miles from Berea—was a cultural center. People in Athens loved to hear about and study the latest ideas. The Jews and the philosophers in the city were interested in what Paul had to say, but Paul was troubled by what he saw. Athens was full of idols to every kind of god. There was even an altar to an unknown god.

The people obviously had a religious desire. Paul knew that their hunger for God could be satisfied—in Jesus. Paul began preaching, telling the people that they worshiped a god they did not know. He said that people can know God! God made the world and everything in it! “We ought not to think that God is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and imagination of man,” Paul said.

Then Paul told them about Jesus and how God wanted them to turn away from their sins. Some people made fun of Paul, but others believed. Paul explained God’s plan of salvation. God is not like the Greek idols. Only God deserves our worship! Because Jesus took the punishment for our sin, we can know God.

 

Questions to discuss with your child:

Q: How do people hear about Jesus?

A: God uses Christians to tell others about Jesus so they may repent and be saved.

Discuss: Paul taught the people in Athens that the one true God sent Jesus to be the Savior.

Key Unit Passage:

Philippians Acts 1:8

Next Week:

Paul’s third journey (Acts 18)

This Week at Calvary Family Ministry

For you to discuss and engage in the spiritual life of your children here is what we looked at this week at Calvary Family Ministry.

Topic:

Paul’s second journey (Acts 16)

Synopsis:

Lydia, the jailer, and many others were saved because they heard the gospel and believed in Jesus. Paul and Silas preached the same message to all people, no matter who they were: “Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved.”

 

Talking Point:

 

Paul was back at the church of Antioch in Syria. The church had sent out Paul and Barnabas to preach the gospel to Jews and Gentiles in places like Lystra and Derbe. Then they returned to the church of Antioch. Some time passed, and Paul wanted to return to some of the cities he visited on his first journey to see how the new believers were doing.

Silas accompanied Paul on his second missionary journey. The pair traveled through Syria and Cilicia, encouraging believers and strengthening churches. The number of believers in the churches increased daily.

The Lord called Paul and Silas to go to Macedonia, so they obeyed. Two major events happened while Paul was in Macedonia. First, a woman named Lydia became a believer. Paul and Silas had gone to the river to pray. They spoke to the women at the river. God opened Lydia’s heart to the good news of the gospel.

Then, a jailer became a believer. This happened when Paul and Silas were thrown into prison after Paul commanded a fortune-telling spirit to come out of a slave girl. Late at night, an earthquake rocked the prison. The prisoners could have escaped, but they stayed where they were.

This was a huge relief to the jailer. Had the prisoners escaped, the jailer would have been punished. In fact, the jailer was ready to kill himself when Paul shouted, “We are all here!” The jailer asked Paul and Silas how to be saved. They told him, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved.” The man believed and was baptized.

Lydia, the jailer, and many others were saved because they heard the gospel and believed in Jesus. Paul and Silas preached the same message to all people, no matter who they were: “Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved.”

 

Questions to discuss with your child:

Q: How do people hear about Jesus?

A: God uses Christians to tell others about Jesus so they may repent and be saved.

Discuss: Paul and Silas told the jailer, “Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved.”

Key Unit Passage:

Philippians Acts 1:8

Next Week:

Paul preached in Europe (Acts 17)

This Week at Calvary Family Ministry

For you to discuss and engage in the spiritual life of your children here is what we looked at this week at Calvary Family Ministry.

Topic:

The message: ‘Christ alone’ (Acts 15)

Synopsis:

The church leaders met in Jerusalem to answer a tough question: Can a person be saved by faith alone or was something more needed? The early church agreed that because of Jesus’ death and resurrection, He alone is all we need to be saved.

 

Talking Point:

 

The church in Antioch praised God for His grace to Paul on his first missionary journey. Though Paul and Barnabas were strongly opposed in some places, many people heard the gospel and believed. Paul and Barnabas took the gospel to both Jews and Gentiles. But a problem arose when some Christians began saying that the new followers of Jesus—the Gentile believers—needed to obey the Law of Moses in order to be right with God.

Paul and Barnabas debated this issue with other church leaders in Jerusalem. They met together to answer a tough question: Can a person be saved by faith alone or was something more needed? When Paul addressed the council, he insisted that God saves Gentiles the same way He saves Jews: through the grace of the Lord Jesus.

Paul testified to the things God had done among the Gentiles. God had given Gentiles the Holy Spirit. James cited the prophets Amos and Isaiah in support. The group agreed that because of Jesus’ death and resurrection, He alone is all we need to be saved. They also agreed that they  should not make salvation more difficult for Gentiles by adding unnecessary rules.

The church chose two men—Judas and Silas—to go with Paul and Barnabas to the church at Antioch. They wrote a letter for the Gentile believers there, encouraging them and giving them instructions for how to live as followers of Christ.

The message for the Gentile believers was important: Whether Jew or Gentile, salvation comes only through faith in Christ. No one is saved by the law but by grace alone. While the Bible does give us plenty of instruction for how to live, sinners are made right with God only by the grace of Jesus. Salvation is a gift. To receive this gift, Jesus is all we need.

Questions to discuss with your child:

Q: How do people hear about Jesus?

A: God uses Christians to tell others about Jesus so they may repent and be saved.

Discuss: The church in Jerusalem encouraged Gentile believers.

Key Unit Passage:

Philippians Acts 1:8

Next Week:

Paul’s second journey (Acts 16)

This Week at Calvary Family Ministry

For you to discuss and engage in the spiritual life of your children here is what we looked at this week at Calvary Family Ministry.

Topic:

Paul’s first journey (Acts 13)

Synopsis:

Paul and Barnabas faced many people who rejected the good news about Jesus. But God had a plan for Paul to share the gospel with Gentiles, no matter what troubles Paul faced. Many believed in Jesus. The church grew and the gospel was shared so that people all over the world could be saved from their sin by trusting in Jesus as Lord and Savior.

 

Talking Point:

 

Jesus’ followers preached the gospel in Jerusalem, and the good news spread to places like Judea and Samaria. More and more people believed, and new churches began as both Jews and Gentiles began to follow Jesus.

Barnabas went to Antioch—a city about 300 miles north of Jerusalem—where he brought Paul to help teach the believers. The church in Antioch grew. It was here that the disciples first became known as Christians. (See Acts 11:26.)

The Holy Spirit told the believers at the church in Antioch to send out Paul and Barnabas to preach the gospel. The church obeyed, and Paul and Barnabas traveled to several cities and all over the island of Cyprus, telling both Jews and Gentiles about Jesus.

Consider Paul—once a devoted persecutor of Christians—now a Christian missionary, devoted to obeying God’s call to go and tell others the good news about Jesus. This was Paul’s first missionary journey, and it wasn’t easy. Paul and Barnabas faced rejection in every place that they traveled. Some of the people believed, but some of them were angry. Many people rejected the truth about Jesus. In some places, the Jews made plans to kill Paul.

In no place did Paul and Barnabas soften their message or abandon their mission. In Lystra, Paul healed a man, and when the witnesses to this miracle began to worship Paul and Barnabas, the two men emphatically gave credit to the one true God. When Paul’s enemies attacked him and left him for dead, Paul continued on. Paul and Barnabas shared the gospel in Derbe, and many people believed.

The Holy Spirit sent Paul and Barnabas to tell Jews and Gentiles about Jesus. If Paul had not taken the gospel to the Gentiles, many of us would probably not be believers today. God uses people to tell others about Jesus so that people all over the world can be saved from their sin by trusting in Jesus as Lord and Savior.

Questions to discuss with your child:

Q: How do people hear about Jesus?

A: God uses Christians to tell others about Jesus so they may repent and be saved.

Discuss: The Holy Spirit sent Paul and Barnabas to tell Jews and Gentiles about Jesus.

Key Unit Passage:

Philippians Acts 1:8

Next Week:

The message: ‘Christ alone’ (Acts 15)

This Week at Calvary Family Ministry

For you to discuss and engage in the spiritual life of your children here is what we looked at this week at Calvary Family Ministry.

Topic:

Peter visited Cornelius (Acts 10)

Synopsis:

God showed Peter that just as there is no “clean” and “unclean” food, there are no “clean” and “unclean” people. God calls believers to tell everyone the good news about Jesus, no matter who they are or where they come from. Jesus is the Lord of all.

 

Talking Point:

 

 

The apostle Peter preached and taught boldly after Pentecost. Jesus had commanded His followers to take the gospel to the ends of the earth. Acts 10 shows us how God made clear to Peter that the gospel is for everyone—not only the Jews but also the Gentiles.

The story begins in Caesarea, the capital city in the Roman province of Judea. Cornelius, a Roman centurion, lived in Caesarea. Like many of the people in Caesarea, Cornelius was a Gentile; however, he did not worship the Roman gods. Cornelius worshiped the one true God, and one day, God spoke to Cornelius in a vision. In the vision, an angel told Cornelius to send for Peter.

Now Peter was in Joppa (JAHP uh), about 30 miles south of Caesarea. As Cornelius’s men approached the city, Peter had a vision too. He was on a rooftop when God showed him a sheet of animals and commanded him to eat. The problem was that some of the animals were considered “unclean” by Jewish food laws. Three times, God said to Peter, “What God has made clean, do not call impure.”

Peter visited Cornelius and others who had gathered with him. Peter understood that God did not want a Jewish man to call anyone unclean just because he was a foreigner. (See Acts 10:28-29.) Peter preached the gospel to the Gentiles there, and they believed. The Holy Spirit filled them, and they were baptized.

The gospel is good news for everyone. God showed Peter that just as there is no “clean” and “unclean” food, there are no “clean” and “unclean” people. God calls believers to tell everyone the good news about Jesus, no matter who they are or where they come from. Jesus is the Lord of all!

Questions to discuss with your child:

Q: What does the Holy Spirit do?

A: The Holy Spirit helps Christians follow Jesus.

Discuss: The Holy Spirit told Peter to preach to Cornelius, a Gentile.

Key Unit Passage:

Philippians 2:13

Next Week:

Paul’s first journey (Acts 13)

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