Sunday Morning 5/16: Unit 32, Session 2: Paul’s First Journey

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.

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.

Paul and Barnabas never softened their message or abandoned 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 (DUHR bih), 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.

Many people 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 spread so that people all over the world could be saved from their sin by trusting in Jesus.

FAMILY STARTING POINTS 

  • Babies and Toddlers
    • God gives us a mission.
    • We tell others about Jesus so they can hear and believe.
    • Paul and Barnabas traveled to tell people about Jesus.
    • Paul healed a man who could not walk.
    • Many people believed in Jesus.
  • Preschool
    • Paul told people about Jesus.
    • What is our mission as Christians? Our mission is to make followers of Jesus from every nation by the power of the Holy Spirit.
  • Kids
    • Paul and Barnabas told Jews and Gentiles about Jesus. 
    • What is our mission as Christians? Our mission is to make disciples of all nations by the power of the Holy Spirit.

UNIT KEY PASSAGE

  • Matthew 28:19-20

NEXT WEEK 

  • “The Church Divided” (1 Corinthians 1–6)

Sunday Morning 5/9: Unit 32, Session 1: Peter Escaped from Prison

Peter had witnessed the pouring out of the Holy Spirit on Gentile believers. God made it clear: the gospel is for all because Jesus is Lord of all. Peter returned to Jerusalem and told the believers there what had happened. At this time, other believers who had scattered amid persecution were preaching the gospel. By God’s grace, people believed and the church grew.

Before long, King Herod Agrippa attacked the believers. He arrested Peter and killed James, the brother of John. Herod put Peter in prison and planned to kill him too.

While Peter was in prison, the other believers prayed earnestly for him. God answered their prayers. Guided by an angel late one night, Peter walked right out of the prison. He escaped to the house of Mary and told the believers gathered there what God had done. Then Peter left Jerusalem for a while because his life was in danger.

Consider emphasizing one or more of the following points as you talk about this Bible story. First, prayer is powerful. God answered the people’s prayers for Peter. When we pray, God hears us, and we can trust that He is good and will act according to His will. Prayer shouldn’t be a last resort for people who feel powerless about their circumstances. Prayer is powerful; we can call on the Lord of the universe at any time!

Second, God is in control. God had a plan for Peter and the church. Herod couldn’t stop God’s plan. God rescued Peter from his enemies. Even when our own plans fall apart, God is in control. 

Finally, following Jesus is risky—but worth it. Peter knew he would face death because He believed in Jesus. Many believers were killed because of their faith. But Peter didn’t hide or give up. He kept going so he could share the good news of the gospel. Jesus is worth living—and dying—for.

God answered the people’s prayers for Peter. God had a plan for Peter and the church, and He rescued Peter from his enemies. Peter knew he would face death because He believed in Jesus, but he kept going so he could share the good news of the gospel.

FAMILY STARTING POINTS 

  • Babies and Toddlers
    • God gives us a mission.
    • Believers share the good news about Jesus no matter what.
    • King Herod put Peter in jail.
    • An angel rescued Peter and set him free.
    • God saved Peter so he could tell others about Jesus.
  • Preschool
    • God rescued Peter from prison.
    • What is our mission as Christians? Our mission is to make followers of Jesus from every nation by the power of the Holy Spirit.
  • Kids
    • God rescued Peter from prison. 
    • What is our mission as Christians? Our mission is to make disciples of all nations by the power of the Holy Spirit.

UNIT KEY PASSAGE

  • Matthew 28:19-20
  • NEXT WEEK 

    • “Paul’s First Journey” (Acts 13–14)

    Sunday Morning 5/2: Unit 31, Session 4: The Hall of Faith

    It is common to think of faith as something that is just within us—trust and confidence in God. While that is surely part of it, faith doesn’t stop there. Faith starts inside of us and always leads to action.

    The writer of the Book of Hebrews wanted to explain the fullness of faith to the early Jewish Christians. One of the best ways he could do this was to walk through examples of how men and women in the Old Testament had proven to be faithful. The result is Hebrews 11, often known as the Hall of Faith. 

    Abel had faith when he gave an offering to God, and God accepted his offering. Noah had faith. He believed God when God told him to build an ark to rescue his family. 

    Abraham had faith when God called him to leave his home. Abraham’s wife Sarah had faith when she trusted God to give her a family even though she was too old to have children. Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, and Moses had faith too. Rahab had faith when she hid the Israelite spies in Jericho. 

    All of these people trusted God, and so did many others. Having faith was not easy. Many suffered, and they died before God’s greatest promise—the arrival of Jesus—came true, but they believed that God had a wonderful plan. God was pleased with them because they trusted Him.

    This week, share the examples of these heroes of faith to help your kids understand faith in action. We can and should learn from these examples; that is why God gave them to us in Hebrews 11. However, emphasize that every person in this list was a sinner in need of salvation. Each of these heroes needed a greater hero. Point your kids to Jesus, the perfect hero who rescues us from sin.

    God kept His promise to send the Messiah—His own Son, Jesus—to rescue people from sin. Jesus is the true hero of the Bible. He gives us faith. We can look to Him because in Him, all of God’s promises will come true.

    FAMILY STARTING POINTS 

    • Babies and Toddlers
      • The good news is about Jesus.
      • Jesus is the only true hero of the Bible.
      • Faith is when you believe something that you have not seen.
      • People in the Bible had faith in God.
      • We have faith that God sent Jesus to rescue us.
    • Preschool
      • People who love Jesus live by faith.
      • What is the gospel? The gospel is the good news that God sent His Son, Jesus, into the world to rescue sinners.
    • Kids
      • God works mightily through people who have faith in Him. 
      • What is the gospel? The gospel is the good news that God sent His Son, Jesus, into the world to rescue sinners.

    UNIT KEY PASSAGE

    • 1 Chronicles 16:31 

    NEXT WEEK 

    • “Peter Escaped from Prison” (Acts 12)

    Sunday Morning 4/25: Unit 31, Session 3: Jesus is Better

    Hebrews was a letter written to encourage believers to not only stand strong in their faith, but also to grow in their faith. More than anything else, though, the writer of Hebrews preached the superiority of Jesus: Jesus was present at the creation of the world. He is the heir of all things and God spoke to the people through Him.

    Because the writer of Hebrews was writing to a mostly Jewish audience, he used the history and heroes of the Old Testament to show how Jesus fulfilled all of God’s promises to send a Messiah to save His people. As you introduce your kids to the Book of Hebrews, concentrate on a major theme found in chapters 1–8: Jesus is better.

    Jesus is better than angels. He is the Son of God. He is better than Moses and the Mosaic covenant. Jesus completely fulfilled the covenant of the Old Testament; that made Jesus’ new covenant far better. Jesus is better than the tabernacle and the priests. 

    Because of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection, the people no longer needed priests to speak to God for them or to offer sacrifices to take away their sins. These Old Testament figures, laws, and traditions pointed forward to someone better: Jesus.

    Emphasize to your kids that Jesus is better than anyone and anything. He is the better Prophet, the better Priest, and the better King. Everyone who trusts in Jesus has salvation from sin through His perfect life, death, and resurrection. As the church, Jesus calls us to share the gospel with the world. Jesus is the superior solution to the problem of sin. He is all that is needed for salvation.

    FAMILY STARTING POINTS 

    • Babies and Toddlers
      • The good news is about Jesus.
      • Jesus is better than anyone and anything.
      • Jesus is God the Son.
      • Jesus became a human being to rescue us.
      • Jesus is the greatest!
    • Preschool
      • Jesus is better than anyone and anything.
      • What is the gospel? The gospel is the good news that God sent His Son, Jesus, into the world to rescue sinners.
    • Kids
      • Jesus, our great High Priest, brought a better covenant. 
      • What is the gospel? The gospel is the good news that God sent His Son, Jesus, into the world to rescue sinners.

    UNIT KEY PASSAGE

    • 1 Chronicles 16:31 

    NEXT WEEK 

    • “The Hall of Faith” (Hebrews 11)

    Sunday Morning 4/18: Unit 31, Session 2: Barnabus in Antioch

    In the face of persecution, the early church saw growth as believers dispersed following Stephen’s death. (See Acts 7) As they went, they carried the good news with them. Jesus’ disciples had cared for the church from Jerusalem, but God began to call them out as missionaries too. 

    In Acts 8, Philip went to Samaria and Judea. The Holy Spirit led him to share the good news with an Ethiopian official. Paul encountered Jesus in Acts 9 and began spreading the gospel. Peter performed miracles and people believed in Jesus. In Acts 10, God made it clear to Peter that the gospel was not only for the Jews but also for Gentiles. Peter gave testimony about the salvation of Gentiles to Jewish leaders in Jerusalem who thought people needed to follow Jewish law to be saved.

    As the message about Jesus went out, churches were started. One of these churches was in Antioch, which was the capital of Syria. When the church at Antioch began, it was made up only of Jewish Christians. But, as Acts 11:20 reveals, some Christians from Cyprus and Cyrene went to Antioch and began sharing the gospel with Greeks (Gentiles). Many Gentiles believed.

    When the church in Jerusalem heard about this, what was their response? They sent Barnabas to Antioch to encourage the believers there! Then even more people believed in Jesus. The Bible tells us that Antioch was the place where believers were first called  “Christians.”

    As you talk this week, emphasize the story point: Barnabas went to Antioch to encourage believers. Even though some people tried to stop it, the gospel spread throughout the earth—not only to Jews but also to Gentiles. The good news about Jesus is for everyone. God calls us to celebrate when others believe and help them know and love Jesus more.

    FAMILY STARTING POINTS 

    • Babies and Toddlers
      • The good news is about Jesus.
      • Believers celebrate when others believe in Jesus.
      • Some of the Gentiles in Antioch trusted in Jesus.
      • Barnabas and Paul taught people about Jesus.
      • Christians are glad when people trust in Jesus.
    • Preschool
      • The gospel continued to spread.
      • What is the gospel? The gospel is the good news that God sent His Son, Jesus, into the world to rescue sinners.
    • Kids
      • Barnabas went to Antioch to encourage believers. 
      • What is the gospel? The gospel is the good news that God sent His Son, Jesus, into the world to rescue sinners.

    UNIT KEY PASSAGE

    • 1 Chronicles 16:31 

    NEXT WEEK 

    • “Jesus Is Better” (Hebrews 1–8)

    Sunday Morning 4/11: Unit 31, Session 1: Peter and Cornelius

    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 (cess uh REE uh), 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’ 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. As you talk with your kids, emphasize that 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.

    FAMILY STARTING POINTS 

    • Babies and Toddlers
      • The good news is about Jesus.
      • God wants believers to tell everyone the good news.
      • Peter told Cornelius about Jesus..
      • God showed Peter that the good news is for all people..
      • Everyone who trusts in Jesus will be saved.
    • Preschool
      • The good news about Jesus is for everyone.
      • What is the gospel? The gospel is the good news that God sent His Son, Jesus, into the world to rescue sinners.
    • Kids
      • The gospel is for all people. 
      • What is the gospel? The gospel is the good news that God sent His Son, Jesus, into the world to rescue sinners.

    UNIT KEY PASSAGE

    • 1 Chronicles 16:31 

    NEXT WEEK 

    • “Barnabas in Antioch” (Acts 11)

    Sunday Morning 4/4: EASTER: Jesus’ Crucifixion and Resurrection

    Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection are essential to the Christian faith. If we teach Jesus as a respected teacher and miracle-worker who claimed to be the Messiah and who was crucified on the cross—but who was not resurrected—then we are teaching the Jesus of Judaism. If we teach Jesus as a wise teacher and prophet who ascended into heaven—but who was not crucified—then we are teaching the Jesus of Islam.

    Jesus came to earth to save us from our sins. (Matt. 1:21) He died to show God’s love to us (Rom. 5:7-8) so that whoever believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16) Jesus died so that we would be forgiven. (Eph. 1:7) Jesus died to bring us to God. (1 Pet. 3:18)

    The time between Friday afternoon and Sunday morning must have been dark hours for Jesus’ disciples. Fear, doubt, and confusion certainly overwhelmed their thoughts. Jesus, their Lord, was dead. He had been unjustly arrested, falsely accused, and severely beaten. Even worse, He had been killed in a horrible manner: by crucifixion.

    The story doesn’t end there. Jesus’ body was laid in a tomb. The tomb was sealed and guards watched over it. The Jews remembered Jesus’ claim that He would rise from the dead (John 2:19-21), and they made sure no one could steal His body and insist He had risen. Imagine their surprise when Jesus did rise from the dead!

    Jesus’ resurrection gives us joy and hope for our own resurrection. The same Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead will raise our bodies to life. (Rom. 8:11)

    As you share this Bible story, emphasize the gospel: the good news of who Jesus is and what He has done. We do not worship a dead Savior. Jesus is alive! Sadness turns to joy. There is hope for sinners.

    Jesus’ death and resurrection is the center of the gospel. Jesus died to pay for our sins. Jesus is alive! God gives hope and true joy to everyone who trusts in Jesus.

    FAMILY STARTING POINTS 

    • Babies and Toddlers
      • The good news is about Jesus.
      • Jesus gives us true joy and life with God forever.
      • Jesus was put on a cross.
      • Jesus died and was buried in a tomb.
      • Jesus rose from the dead and is alive!
    • Preschool
      • Jesus died on the cross and is alive.
      • What is the gospel? The gospel is the good news that God sent His Son, Jesus, into the world to rescue sinners.
    • Kids
      • Jesus’ resurrection gives true joy to believers. 
      • What is the gospel? The gospel is the good news that God sent His Son, Jesus, into the world to rescue sinners.

    UNIT KEY PASSAGE

    • 1 Chronicles 16:31 

    NEXT WEEK 

    • “Peter and Cornelius” (Acts 10)

    Sunday Morning 3/28: Unit 30, Session 4: Guarding the Truth

    In New Testament times, Corinth was an important city in ancient Greece. About eighteen years after Jesus’ death on the cross, Paul preached the gospel to the Corinthians and established the church there. (See Acts 18.) He stayed in Corinth for at least 18 months.

    In his first letter to the Corinthians, Paul wrote to help believers solve some problems within the church. In his second letter, written just a few weeks later, Paul wrote to encourage the church and to assure them that God loved them—even when they had troubles. Of all Paul’s letters in the New Testament, none reveals his heart as much as 2 Corinthians. In it, Paul showed his passion for Christ as he fiercely defended his ministry against false teachings.

    Paul wrote of the dangers he faced as a disciple of Christ—stonings, beatings, imprisonment, hunger, and hardship. But he also wrote of the comfort and the strength to endure that Jesus gives to those who trust in Him. Nothing could keep Paul from sharing the good news of Jesus—a  lesson for the believers at Corinth and for all believers everywhere.

    As you talk about 2 Corinthians 11, emphasize that God gives us power to stand up for the gospel. Paul cared about the believers in Corinth, and he wanted them to be faithful to Jesus and remember the gospel. Paul may not have been an eloquent speaker like those who preached lies, but he refused to back down. Paul suffered and nearly died to share the gospel.

    Second Corinthians teaches us that sharing Jesus with the world is not always easy. There will always be some who try to stop the good news from spreading. God calls believers to follow and obey Jesus no matter what. Like Paul, we guard the truth because God, the Father of the Lord Jesus, deserves to be praised.

    FAMILY STARTING POINTS 

    • Babies and Toddlers
      • False teachers were saying things that were not true.
      • Paul wrote a letter to the church at Corinth.
      • Paul wanted people to remember what is true about Jesus.
      • Believers follow Jesus and obey Him no matter what.
      • The church worships God.
    • Preschool
      • Paul wanted people to remember what is true about Jesus.
      • Why does the church exist? The church exists to glorify God.
    • Kids
      • God gives us power to stand up for the gospel. 
      • Why does the church exist? The church exists to glorify God by worshiping Him, showing His love, and telling others about Jesus.

    UNIT KEY PASSAGE

    • Colossians 1:18

    NEXT WEEK 

    “EASTER: Jesus’ Crucifixion and Resurrection” (Matthew 26–28; John 20)

    Sunday Morning 3/21: Unit 30, Session 3: New Life in Jesus

    Paul wrote his letter to the Colossians while he was imprisoned in Rome. At this point, Paul had not yet visited the church at Colossae. The church was established by Epaphras, who reported to Paul that the church was facing troubles with false teachers. Paul wanted to put an end to the false teaching and remind the believers of who Jesus really is. Key to this letter is Paul’s teaching about how the gospel affects how we live.

    As you talk with your kids about Colossians 2–3, focus on some of the main points Paul makes. First, God changes us when we trust in Jesus. The Bible describes us apart from Jesus as “enemies of God” (Rom. 5:10) and “dead” in our sins (Eph. 2:1). Jesus rescued us from sin and death by dying on the cross and rising again. Jesus gives new life to people who trust in Him.

    Second, following Jesus means living for Him. Jesus is our reason for living, and He gives us power to live in a way that honors Him. Jesus adopts us into His family and makes us new! We respond to the good news of the gospel by submitting to Jesus as Lord and Savior.

    Finally, Jesus calls us to turn away from our sinful ways and live in a way that honors Him. Paul contrasts an earthly way of thinking with a godly way of thinking. The old, sinful way of living (the “old self”) is characterized by anger, wrath, hatred, lies, and filthy language. Paul wrote that living for Jesus means putting away the evil, selfish ways of the world and living like Jesus by loving God and loving others.

    In Jesus, we have power to live in a new, godly way. This way (the “new self”) is marked by compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience, and love. Paul says believers should “put on” these things. As we grow in this new way of living, God is making us more like His Son.

    God changes us when we trust in Jesus. He adopts us into His family and makes us new! Jesus calls us to turn away from our sinful ways and live in a way that honors Him.

    FAMILY STARTING POINTS 

    • Babies and Toddlers
      • Paul wrote a letter to a church.
      • Paul said to do everything for Jesus.
      • When we love Jesus, He helps us live for Him.
      • Believers live so we can honor God.
      • The church worships God.
    • Preschool
      • God helps us live like Jesus. 
      • Why does the church exist? The church exists to glorify God.
    • Kids
      • Jesus gives new life to people who trust in Him. 
      • Why does the church exist? The church exists to glorify God by worshiping Him, showing His love, and telling others about Jesus.

    UNIT KEY PASSAGE

    • Colossians 1:18

    NEXT WEEK 

    • “Guarding the Truth” (2 Corinthians 11)