Giving Thanks

Thanksgiving can be a busy time for families, and it can be hard to find a few moments to read God’s Word together and give thanks to God as a family.

Over the next two weeks, we want to encourage you to make that a priority. This simplified faith talk guide will include ideas for suggested Scripture readings, discussion questions, songs, and more to help you be intentional about spending time giving thanks together over the next two weeks (there will be no separate faith talk guide next week).

Suggested Scripture Readings:

Discussion Questions:

 

  • What has God done in your life that you are thankful for?
  • Who are some people in your life that you thank God for?
  • How can we give thanks to God in all circumstances?

Ideas for Younger Kids:

With your children, write a “Thank-You” note to God. Have them come up with one or two things they want to thank God for. Write these down and put the note up somewhere in your house (like your refrigerator).

A Thanksgiving Playlist:

We’ve created a Spotify playlist of some thanksgiving related songs and hymns. You could listen to this in the car with family or turn it on while you are getting ready for your Thanksgiving meal. (If it works better, here’s the YouTube playlist).

A Thanksgiving Prayer:

We give thanks to you, Lord, for you are good. Your unfailing love never ends. We thank you, Lord, that you are the King. Nothing happens apart from your plan.

We give thanks to you, Lord for your holiness. You are just and faithful and perfect in all your ways. And we thank you for the salvation you have granted us in Jesus and for how you have given us your Spirit to be in us and with us during this earthly life.

We give thanks to you, Lord, for the people of God, that we are part of a community of faith. We thank you for providing for us in more ways than we could count. You have blessed us, Father, beyond all measure, with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places. We give thanks to you!

 
If you have any questions, comments, or ideas related to this Family Faith Talk guide or future guides, please let us know by leaving a comment!

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Losing Focus

Read Together: Revelation 2:1–7

On Sunday morning, Adi reminded us that we need to be careful that we do not lose our focus on the main thing. We are called to reflect the character of God as we proclaim the good news to the world. Yet, there is always a danger that we lose this focus. And one church who had lost their focus was the church in Ephesus.

In Revelation 2:1–7, Jesus sends a letter to the Ephesians. This letter comes to Ephesus about 40 years after Paul founded the church there during his second missionary journey. Jesus commends the Ephesian church for their good works, good theology, and patient endurance in suffering for Jesus. But Jesus also calls out something that needs to change: they’ve abandoned their “first love.” Jesus calls them to repent and return to this love they have neglected.

What was this first love? As G. K. Beale writes, “This probably means they had lost their passion for the message of the gospel. . . . A passionate love for Christ leads us to love those outside and seek to win them.”* The church had grown cold in their love for God and for others, and so they were neglecting their witness to the world. They had lost their focus on the main thing.

In this rebuke, there is a warning for us. We must keep our focus on the main thing. We must continually pursue a vibrant love for Jesus that leads us to represent him boldly and winsomely to the world. As individuals, as families, and as a church body, we must keep the main thing the main thing. We must not abandon our first love.

Discussion Questions

  1. What was the “first love” that the church in Ephesus had abandoned?
  2. What are the dangers of losing focus on the main thing?
  3. What are some ways we can keep our focus on the main thing?

Ideas for Younger Kids

  • Read “A Mission for the Ages” in The Biggest Story Bible Storybook (pages 232–35).
  • Discuss with your children this question: What is the main thing Jesus has asked his church to do? Talk about the mission of the church: loving God and others as we share the good news about Jesus with the world. This is a good opportunity to talk with your children about the focus of the Christian life and the mission of the church.

Memorization: “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.” (Romans 1:16)

Song: Listen to “O Church Arise” (Keith & Kristyn Getty). This is a great reminder of our focus: we are “An army bold whose battle-cry is Love/Reaching out to those in darkness.”

Pray Together

  • Praise God for his unfailing love!
  • Confess before God that we often lose our focus on the main thing and neglect our loving witness before the world.
  • Give thanks to God for the good news of Jesus that is power for salvation to those who believe.
  • Pray that God would give us strength to love him and others this week by sharing the love of Christ with those who don’t know him.

Go Together

  • As a family or with another believer set aside a time this week to discuss this hard question: where is my/our focus in life? Be honest and consider whether the good news about Jesus is really your focus or whether, like the Ephesian church, you have left behind your first love. Then, write down some practical ways you can be intentional about sharing the love of Jesus with others over the next two months.

 

*G. K. Beale, Revelation: A Shorter Commentary, p. 55.

 
If you have any questions, comments, or ideas related to this Family Faith Talk guide or future guides, please let us know by leaving a comment!

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Pure Speech

Read Together: James 3:1–12

In our short series on deacons, we learned that deacons must be mature believers, those who seek to reflect the character of Christ in how they live and serve. Paul mentions that deacons must not be “double-tongued” (1 Tim 3:8). One mark of maturity in the faith shows up in how we speak. And James talks more in depth about the importance of our speech in James 3:1–12.

In this passage, James reflects on the power of the tongue: just like a horse’s bridle or a boat’s rudder, the tongue may be small, but it is powerful. The power of speech can be as destructive as a forest fire. Our speech can be poisonous, and except by the grace of God, we cannot bring our speech into line with God’s design.

So often, we are “double-tongued.” We come to church on Sunday and sing praises to God, but later in the day we find ourselves speaking (or typing!) spiteful words to those made in the image of God. Yet, those who are growing in Christ should care deeply about how we speak about others. We should want our speech to be consistent, truthful, and encouraging.

As James teaches, pure speech flows out of a pure heart, like fresh water from a fresh-water spring or figs from a fig tree. We need God’s Spirit working in us, making us new in Christ, to grow in pure speech. And if we are growing in Christ, we will learn to watch what is coming out of our mouths. We will seek to avoid gossip, put-downs, hateful speech, and cursing, and we will learn to build others up, praise the Lord with a pure heart, and use our words to serve and love others as Christ has loved us.

Discussion Questions

  1. What word-pictures does James use to describe the tongue and what do these teach us about the power of our words?
  2. What are some ways we use words to hurt others? How can we avoid these?
  3. What are some ways we can use our words for good?

Ideas for Younger Kids

  • Read “Taming the Tongue” in The Biggest Story Bible Storybook (pages 502–05).
  • Discuss with your children the power of our words. Describe how our words can be like a small spark that starts a forest fire. Consider showing this short video that shows the power of a forest fire once started. Remind them that we should want to speak words that build up, not hurt and destroy.

Memorization: “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.” (Ephesians 4:29)

Song: Listen to “O Great God” (by Sovereign Grace Music) as a prayer for God to continue to work in your heart and help you live and speak in a gracious, God-glorifying way.

Pray Together

  • Praise God for his Word that gives us life!
  • Confess before God all the ways we use our words to hurt and tear down.
  • Give thanks for God’s work in our hearts to make us new through Jesus and transform every part of us, including the way we speak.
  • Pray that God would help us to be people who speak the truth with love and grace, encouraging others, praising the Lord, and sharing Christ with others.

Go Together

  • Use the month of November and the emphasis on Thanksgiving to speak (or write) encouraging words to others and tell them why you are thankful for them. As a family or individual, you could write an encouraging note once a week throughout the rest of the month to someone else giving at least one reason why you are thankful for them.
 
If you have any questions, comments, or ideas related to this Family Faith Talk guide or future guides, please let us know by leaving a comment!

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Serving Like Jesus

Read Together: John 13:1–20

The beginning of John 13 records the well-known story of Jesus’ washing his disciples’ feet. Jesus’ action is a powerful picture of humble, loving service. It functions as another example from the life of Jesus that none of us are above any act of genuine service to others, no matter how “lowly” we might view it to be.

Also, notice three things about the background of the foot-washing. First, Jesus washes his disciples’ feet in light of what is coming—the time of his death was on the doorstep (13:1). Second, Jesus washes his disciples’ feet as an action that reveals his immense, persevering love for his disciples (13:1). Third, Jesus’ position and power as having come from God and receiving all things from the Father didn’t stop him from humble service (13:3).

From this background and Jesus’ own words, we learn that Jesus’ act of humbling himself to wash his disciples’ feet is an intentional picture of his humiliation and death on the cross that makes his followers clean. And so, first and foremost, this story summons us to come to Jesus to be made clean through his sacrificial work on the cross. Jesus’ death on the cross is our only hope of forgiveness and cleansing from sin.

But Jesus is also clear that his humble act of service is an example to his disciples: no loving service is below Christ’s people. If our Lord so served us, we must serve one another. We are called to serve one another with a persevering love, humbling ourselves as our Lord and Savior humbled himself to make us clean.

Discussion Questions

  1. Why does Jesus wash his disciples’ feet?
  2. What does Jesus’ humble act of service teach us?
  3. What are some ways we can humbly serve others?

Ideas for Younger Kids

  • Read the first half of “The Servant King” in The Jesus Storybook Bible (pages 286–89).
  • Gather the following items: a bowl of warm water, a towel, and a washcloth. Read the story from the chapter in The Jesus Storybook Bible or consider reading John 13:3–17 in the NIrV.
    • Use the bowl of water and the towels to “act out” Jesus’ washing his disciples’ feet (whether you actually wash your children’s feet is totally up to you!).
    • Talk about how this was something that no one wanted to do, but Jesus was willing to serve his disciples in this way. It teaches us how he came to make us clean on the inside and that we should serve one another.      

Memorization: “Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” (Ephesians 5:1–2)

Song: Reflect on Jesus’ sacrifice and listen to See the Destined Day Arise (by Matt Merker, performed by Kenwood Music—the lyrics are based on an ancient hymn from the 500s).  

Pray Together

  •  Praise God for the love of Christ that never ends!
  • Confess before God the pride and selfishness that often leads us to serve ourselves and not others. Confess your need for Jesus to make you clean.
  • Give thanks to God that Jesus has come to make us clean!
  • Pray that God would make you clean through Jesus and that he would give you strength to serve others in humility and love.

Go Together

  • Choose one intentional way to serve others and make it practical and helpful. Here are some ideas to get you started: find a church member or neighbor who needs help raking leaves and offer your help on a Saturday, bake some cookies together and take them to a neighbor who doesn’t know Jesus (sharing the gospel is a crucial way we serve others as Jesus has served us!), or as a family, each choose one different way you will serve one another (like taking charge of doing the dishes, cleaning, or other chores someone else normally does for the month).

If you have any questions, comments, or ideas related to this Family Faith Talk guide or future guides, please let us know by leaving a comment!

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Faithful Servants

Read Together: Luke 19:11–27

On Sunday morning, we considered how we should live as those who await the return of King Jesus. The end is near (1 Pet 4:7), and that should affect the way we live. In Luke 19:11–27, Jesus tells a parable that both corrects the misunderstanding that the kingdom would arrive immediately during Jesus’ first coming and gives us insight into how we should live as those who await his second coming.

In the story, a nobleman entrusts ten of his servants with a sum of money (a “mina” each) with instructions to do business until he comes back. He is gone for a period of time, and when he returns, he rewards those who have been good stewards of the money and rebukes the servant who had just let the money sit. In addition, the king passes judgment on those who had rebelled against him while he was gone.

This parable teaches us that though Jesus declared that he would return soon, he was also clear that there would be an indefinite period of time before his second coming. So, while we believe that the end is near, we shouldn’t be surprised that almost two thousand years have passed and Jesus has not returned. The story also teaches us how we should live as we wait for the second coming: we must live as the King has called us to live and use what he has given us to serve his purposes.

The minas in the parable refer to the gifts and responsibilities Jesus has given his people. We must be faithful with these while we wait for Jesus to return. Of course, we are not saved by our faithfulness, but a true faith and allegiance to King Jesus will lead to faithfulness with what he has entrusted to us. Jesus is clear that when he returns, he will reward the faithfulness of his servants. But he is equally clear that there will also be judgment: those who rebel against the king will be condemned forever. We must give our allegiance to King Jesus and stay on mission, using what he’s given us to honor him as we serve and love others.

Discussion Questions

  1. Why does Jesus tell this parable? What does this background teach us about Jesus’ second coming?
  2. What does it mean to be a faithful servant? How can we live faithfully as we wait for Jesus to return?
  3. What are some ways God has gifted you and how can you use those gifts to serve Jesus and others?

Ideas for Younger Kids

  • Read “A Dream of Heaven” in The Jesus Storybook Bible (pages 342–50) and talk about how we are waiting for Jesus to come again and what will happen when he does.
  • Discuss with your kids about times when we have to wait for things. For example, we wait with excitement for holidays like Christmas to arrive and all the fun and celebration they bring. For believers, waiting for Jesus to come back and make everything good and new is even more exciting! We should be excited for Jesus to come back, but we should also seek to obey his commands while we wait.

Memorization: “Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.” (1 Corinthians 15:58)

Song: Listen to “Rejoice, the Lord Is King!” (written by Charles Wesley, performed by Norton Hall Band). This hymn is a call to rejoice in Jesus as our King, and it mentions our hope and joy in his second coming.  

Pray Together

  •  Praise the Lord for the hope we have that Jesus is coming soon!
  • Confess that we at times struggle to live faithfully for Jesus while we wait for him to return.
  • Give thanks that Jesus is always faithful even when we’re not, and that he will be faithful to come again and do all that he said he would.
  • Pray that God would help us use what he’s given us to love and serve others and bring glory to him. Ask him to help us to live faithfully while we wait for Jesus to return.

Go Together

  • Write down a list of practical ways you (as individuals or as a family) can live faithfully for King Jesus in light of his second coming. Choose one of these ways to pay special attention to over the next several weeks.
  • For example, you might recognize that one way we live faithfully for Jesus is using what God has given us to serve others. This includes, as we talked about on Sunday, living generously. So, you might make a specific plan to invite others regularly (e.g., once a month) into your home for a meal, for encouragement and fellowship. Or you might commit to find unique ways to earn some extra money that you will give to missions.

If you have any questions, comments, or ideas related to this Family Faith Talk guide or future guides, please let us know by leaving a comment!

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Loving in Deed and Truth

Read Together: 1 John 3:11–18

As Pastor Jerry reminded us on Sunday: those who worship God care for the poor and needy. This passage in 1 John teaches us that a true care for the needy arises out of a Christlike love for others. From the beginning, Jesus has taught his followers to love one another (John 13:34). In fact, a life of love is a key evidence that we have passed from spiritual death to spiritual life (v. 14).

We see in 1 John 3:16–18 that this love is not simply a warm fuzzy feeling for a vague group of people. It is easy to say you love “everyone”. It’s easy as Christians simply to say that we love people. Yet, as author G. P. Lewis put it, “It is easier to be enthusiastic about Humanity with a capital ‘H’ than it is to love individual men and women, especially those who are uninteresting, exasperating, depraved, or otherwise unattractive. Loving everybody in general may be an excuse for loving nobody in particular.”*

So, when it comes to loving and caring for the poor and needy among us, it is all about concrete, practical action for individual people with real needs, especially our brothers and sisters in Christ who have needs. We are called to love with our actions not just our words, even when it means sacrificing our own possessions and comfort. This is what we are called to as a church as we seek to care for the needy.

John tells us that we know this kind of love through experiencing Jesus’ sacrificial love for us (v. 16). So, if we want to grow in caring for the poor and needy, an essential first step is to stand at the foot of the cross and behold the dying love of Jesus for his people. How can we who have experienced such love hold onto our possessions and comfort with clenched fists? Those who worship God care for the poor and needy because we know that we are poor and needy before God, and yet he has so loved and cared for us in sending his own Son to give his life for us.

Discussion Questions

  1. According to John, how do we know love? What does this mean for how we love others?
  2. What does it mean to love in deed and in truth?
  3. What are some practical, concrete ways you can love and care for others this week?

Ideas for Younger Kids

  • Read “Who Is My Neighbor? (Luke 10)” in The Biggest Story Bible Storybook (pages 368–74). This is the story of the Good Samaritan and should provide a good opportunity to talk about showing love and mercy to those in need, just as God has showed us love and mercy.  
  • Alternatively, simply read the story of the Good Samaritan in Luke 10:25–37 (reading it in the NIrV may be helpful for younger kids). Ask your kids: who showed love to the hurt man? How did he show love to the hurt man? Again, use this as an opportunity to talk about showing love and mercy to those in need, just as God has showed us love and mercy.   

Memorization: “Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.” (1 John 3:18)

Song: Reflect on God’s love revealed in Jesus by listening to “Here is Love Vast as the Ocean”. (This is a classic Welsh hymn by William Rees in a modern arrangement recorded by Nathan Drake.)

Pray Together

  •  Praise God that he is Love and that he cares for us.
  • Confess to God our neediness and our lack of love and ask him to increase our love for Him and for others.
  • Give thanks to God for Jesus and his love displayed on the cross. Praise him for meeting our needs time and time again, especially through the church.
  •  Pray that God would give us wisdom and grace to see needs and help meet them with loving care.

Go Together

  • Make a plan for how you can identify and practically meet needs in our church family and local communities as an expression of Christ-like love. Part of this means committing to be involved in the lives of others so that you can actually see needs that might not always be obvious on the surface.
  • Here are a couple ideas to get you started:
    • Plan a time to volunteer as an individual or family at a place like Good Samaritan Family Services that seeks to meet needs in our community.
    • Make a card and bake some cookies for someone who is in need of encouragement.
  •  

    *Quoted in John Stott, The Letters of John, vol. 19 of TNTC, p. 145.

     

    If you have any questions, comments, or ideas related to this Family Faith Talk guide or future guides, please let us know by leaving a comment!


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    Praying for the Church

    Read Together: 2 Thessalonians 1:3–12

    This past weekend, our Spiritual Life speaker, Gary Rohrmayer, walked us through the prayers of Paul in Ephesians 1–3. On Sunday morning, we looked specifically at Paul’s prayer that the church would be empowered and strengthened. Paul records a prayer with a similar goal in 2 Thessalonians 1:3–12. In verses 3–10, Paul gives thanks for God’s work among the Thessalonian church and offers encouragement for them amid the persecution they’re experiencing.

    Then, Paul shares the heart of his prayers for the church in verses 11–12. He prays that these believers would be strengthened in their faith. He asks God to help them live in a manner that is worthy of his calling on their lives. He prays that God would fulfill their desires to do good and empower every work that flows out of their faith. And so, we see that Paul pleads with God to empower the good desires and faith of this church.

    The purpose of Paul’s request for the church is the glory of Jesus and the glorification of believers (their hope of future glory in Christ). The source of spiritual growth, Paul notes, is ultimately the grace of God working in us. Thus, Paul prays that God, according to his gracious will, would give the church strength to live out their faith so that Jesus might receive the glory and they might grow to be more like him.

    As Pastor Gary challenged us on Sunday: do our prayers for one another reveal these priorities? Do we give thanks for the work God is doing in our hearts, increasing our faith and love? Are we praying earnestly that God, by his grace, would empower us to live out our faith for the glory of Jesus? The prayers of Paul re-center our own prayers and give us a bigger vision for God’s purposes for his church. We should return to these prayers again and again so that the heartbeat of Paul’s prayers might beat in our own.

    Discussion Questions

    1. What is Paul’s main prayer request for the Thessalonian church?
    2. What is the purpose of Paul’s request? Why does this matter?
    3. How do Paul’s prayers challenge our own prayer lives?

    Ideas for Younger Kids

    • Read 2 Thessalonians 1:11–12 and then learn the following catechism question together (Q.97 from A Catechism for Boys and Girls). Use this as an opportunity to talk about what prayer is and what are some things we should pray for.
      • Q: What is prayer?
      • A: Prayer is talking with God.
    • Read “Knock Knock, Who’s There? (Acts 12)” in The Biggest Story Bible Storybook (pages 472–75). Highlight the hope we have that God answers prayer in amazing ways, even when our faith is weak, and talk about how this encourages us to pray big prayers for each other for God’s glory.  

    Memorization: “To this end we always pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling and may fulfill every resolve for good and every work of faith by his power, so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.” (2 Thess 1:11–12)

    Song: Listen to “A Christian’s Daily Prayer” by Sovereign Grace Music.

    Pray Together

    • Praise God for his love and grace, that he hears us and gives us strength to follow him.
    • Confess to God where we have let our prayers drift into worldly priorities.
    • Give thanks to God for the work he is doing in your family, in our church family, and in churches around the world.
    • Pray that God would strengthen you, your family, and our church family, by his grace, to live out our faith so that he might be glorified in us and we might become more like Jesus.

    Go Together

    • Over the next week or two, commit to praying 2 Thessalonians 1:11­–12 each day for our church family. Choose a specific time (e.g., a mealtime or in the evening), and use a copy of the church directory, praying through a page or two of the directory each day. If you pray for the individuals and families on one page each day, this will take you two weeks. If you pray for those on two pages, it will take you just over one week. If you need a copy of the church directory, contact Pastor Nathan for a digital copy or pick up a paper copy at the back of the church.


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    Fearing the Lord

    Read Together: Joshua 3:7–4:7, 19–24

    These chapters in Joshua tell the story of Israel crossing the Jordan River as they enter the Promised Land. They cross the Jordan just as they crossed the Red Sea—on dry ground. After they cross, Joshua instructs a man from each of the twelve tribes to take a stone from the Jordan to set up a memorial of this miraculous crossing. This memorial would provide opportunities for parents in the future to tell their children about God’s mighty power in giving them the Promised Land.

    In verse 24, Joshua gives the ultimate purpose of all of this: that the nations might know the Lord’s might and that his people would fear the Lord their God forever. God’s mighty act of drying up the Jordan was meant to draw God’s people into a proper fear of the Lord. It was the fear of the Lord that was the foundation for Israel’s success and prosperity in the Promised Land. And as Pastor Jerry preached on Sunday, the fear of the Lord is the foundation for our joy and faith today.

    This story teaches us a primary way we grow in the fear of the Lord and help our children to fear the Lord: we remember God’s mighty work of redeeming and saving his people. The greatest and most glorious work of our God is the salvation Jesus has won for those who trust in him. Jesus is leading a new Exodus and a new crossing of the Jordan into the Promised Land. And the center of this salvation and hope of glory is Jesus’ death and resurrection.

    Therefore, we grow in the fear of the Lord most when we dwell on the cross and what it means.* In our own personal discipleship and in the training of our children, the cross and the gospel must be central. So, let’s be people and families who learn to fear the Lord our God, to stand in awe before him because of his holy power and gracious love revealed most clearly in the death and resurrection of Jesus.

    Discussion Questions

    1. What does Joshua say is the purpose of the miracle in this story (hint: see 4:24)?
    2. What does it mean to fear the Lord?
    3. How do God’s mighty works help us grow in the fear of the Lord?

    Ideas for Younger Kids

    • Retell the story of Israel’s crossing the Jordan in your own words. Collect twelve rocks/stones and have your children stack or pile them up. Talk about how this was to remind Israel of what God had done. Talk about how the same God who led Israel into the Promised Land works today to save us and lead us to heaven through Jesus.
    • Read “Free at Last” in The Biggest Story Bible Storybook (pages 84–91). This tells the story of the plagues and the Exodus, which could be a starting point for discussion about God saving his people and how this leads us to love him and obey him.

    Memorization: “and he will be the stability of your times, abundance of salvation, wisdom, and knowledge; the fear of the LORD is Zion’s treasure.” (Isaiah 33:6)

    Song: Listen to “The Power of the Cross” by Keith Getty and Stuart Townend and reflect on what the cross means and how it teaches us the fear of the Lord.

    Pray Together

    • Praise the Lord for all his mighty works, especially the salvation we have through Jesus.
    • Confess before him our imperfect fear, awe, and love.
    • Ask him to help you grow in the fear of Lord by opening your eyes afresh to the glory of who he is and what he has done through Jesus.
    • Ask him to help your children or grandchildren and the children in our congregation come to know the fear of the Lord and that the fear of the Lord would be the foundation for their faith and joy.

    Go Together

    • In your home, set up a memorial that will remind you of God’s mighty works. Print out a picture, find a painting or some artwork, or have your kids create some “art” that will remind you of God’s works but will also lead others to ask questions about it and give you opportunities to talk about the Lord and in so doing help you grow in the fear of the Lord.

    *Michael Reeves, Rejoice and Tremble, 116–24.

    If you have any questions, comments, or ideas related to this Family Faith Talk guide or future guides, please let us know by leaving a comment!


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    Wise Builders

    Read Together: James 1:16-25

    As we saw in Matthew 7:24-29, the right response to Jesus’ teaching and the way of wisdom, is to listen to Jesus’ words and obey them. We build our lives upon Jesus, by hearing and doing his Word. James 1:16-25 reminds us of the crucial importance of the Word in our lives. God causes us to be born again through the word of truth (1:18). It is the implanted word that saves our souls (1:21). This word is fundamentally the gospel, the good news about Jesus and the call to believe in him and turn away from our sins. 

    This word calls from us a response. We are called to be doers of the word not hearers only (1:22). The word should make us active, not passive. It calls us to hear and obey, to listen and do. We all face a danger as we listen to sermons, go to Bible studies, and read the Bible as individuals that we deceive ourselves and become like the foolish man who built his house on the sandy foundation of his own wisdom. We hear the Word, read it, and know it backwards and forwards. But we don’t build our lives on it. We look at the mirror of God’s Word, and we are confronted with our sin, but we close our Bibles, walk to our cars, and forget. And as a result, we are unchanged. 

    A key to becoming a doer of the word, is remembering what the Word is and what the Word does. God’s Word is his perfect law. It is good and better than any word you’ll ever read. And it is the law of liberty. It is the law that leads to true freedom. It is the way to freedom from sin, guilt, anxiety, doubt, and on and on. Obeying God’s Word leads to true flourishing. Those who persevere in the word and do it are those who are truly blessed, who know true joy and flourish under God’s blessing (1:25). They are those who will stand, by faith in the gospel-word, when the last day comes.

    Discussion Questions

    1.  What does it mean to be a doer of the word?
    2.  Does this command to obey God’s Word contradict salvation by faith alone? Why not?
    3.  What are some ways you can grow to be someone who doesn’t just listen to God’s Word, but obeys it?

    Ideas for Younger Kids

    • Get out a handheld mirror and talk about times when we see something in our reflection that we should change: broccoli in our teeth, chocolate on our face, and so on. Just like when we see something in the mirror that we should change, when we read God’s Word it should lead us to change our lives so they line up with God’s Word. 
    • Read “The Sermon That Was” in The Biggest Story Bible Storybook (pages 300-303). 

    Memorization: “But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.” (James 1:22)

    Song: “How Firm a Foundation” Listen here.

    Pray Together

    Praise God for his perfect Word that points us to Jesus as the way of salvation and teaches us how to live.

    Ask him to forgive you for when you have been more like the foolish man and have heard the Word but didn’t do it.

    Pray that God would help you put his Word into practice each day.

    Pray that God would so work in our church family that we would be a church defined by faith in the Word that leads to obedience to the Word. 

    Go Together

    Here are some ideas to grow in doing the Word:

    Commit to using these Faith Talk guides each week to help you grow in your application of Sunday’s sermon.

    Commit or recommit to reading God’s Word regularly (as individuals and families). As you read, ask the question: How can we live this out today? Consider even writing down your answer in a notebook until it becomes a habit.  

     

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