Sunday Morning 2/28: Unit 29, Session 4: Doers of the Word

The early church was made up mostly of Jewish believers who had grown up believing they needed to fully obey God to be accepted. Grace was a new concept for them, and many struggled with understanding how grace and obedience fit together. Some made the mistake of thinking that once they had acceptance in Jesus, obedience didn’t matter after all.

This greatly concerned James—Jesus’ half-brother and a leader in the church at Jerusalem— so he wrote a letter to the Jewish Christians scattered throughout the Roman Empire. James wanted these Christians to understand that grace and obedience do not work against each other; they work with each other.

James wrote, “Be doers of the word. If you hear the word but don’t do it, you fool yourselves. Anyone who is a hearer but not a doer is like someone who looks at himself in a mirror, goes away and forgets right away what he looked like.”

James wanted Christians to realize that true faith in Jesus—a faith that comes by grace—will always lead to action. True faith is an active faith.

James gave an example: When we look into a mirror and see something is not right—our hair is out of place or food is stuck in our teeth—we don’t just walk away; we fix it. The gospel is like that mirror. It shows us what is true about ourselves, and when we see we are not living out our true identity, we should want to address it.

Help your kids understand that true faith in Jesus always leads to living differently. When we trust in Jesus, God changes our hearts so that we will want to live a life pleasing to Him. We aren’t accepted by God because of our obedience; we obey God out of gratitude because we are accepted by Him through Jesus.

Jesus said, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word” (John 14:23). James reminded believers to be doers of the word. Jesus rescues us from sin and frees us to live a life that honors God. By doing what is good and right, people who trust Jesus can show that they really believe in Him.

FAMILY STARTING POINTS 

  • Babies and Toddlers
    • People are saved by faith in Jesus.
    • The Bible tells us how to obey God.
    • Believers show the world that Jesus has changed us.
    • Our love for Jesus helps us do what is right.
    • The church serves God.
  • Preschool
    • James reminded believers to do what Jesus said. 
    • What is the church? The church is all Christians everywhere.
  • Kids
    • James said that faith without works is useless. 
    • What is the church? The church is all Christians everywhere, who gather together in their communities to worship and serve God.

UNIT KEY PASSAGE

  • Romans 12:5

NEXT WEEK 

  • “Philip and the Ethiopian” (Acts 8)

Sunday Morning 2/21: Unit 29, Session 3: The Good News

After Jesus returned to heaven and sent the Holy Spirit to the apostles, the gospel began to spread. Those who heard the good news at Pentecost included visitors from Rome, and they were likely among the three thousand who believed. (See Acts 2:10,41.) When Paul wrote his letter to the Romans in AD 57, he had never been to Rome. But by that time, Roman believers were meeting in house churches. 

Paul wrote his letter in part to explain the essentials of the Christian faith and what it means to live for Jesus. Paul’s words are helpful to Christians today. As you guide your kids through Romans 5–6, help them grasp the good news of the gospel. This is the message for which Jesus’ followers gave their lives. This good news changes everything.

First, help your kids understand the benefits of believing in Jesus. To appreciate the good news, kids need to understand the bad news: Apart from Jesus, we are dead in our sin—separated from God. We need to be rescued. God sent Jesus into the world to rescue sinners. When we trust in His death and resurrection, we are made right with God and are saved from sin and death.

Next, compare and contrast the first Adam with Jesus—”the second Adam.” Adam represented all people, but he sinned. Sin brought death into the world, and death spread to all people because all people sinned. Jesus came to bring us life. He obeyed God perfectly. All who trust in Him are forgiven and have eternal life.

Finally, introduce how believers deal with sin in view of God’s grace. Since our sin is forgiven, should we keep on sinning? Paul was emphatic that the answer is no. When we are in Christ, we are no longer slaves to sin. Sin will still be a struggle in our fallen world, but we have power through the Holy Spirit to resist sin and live a life that honors God.

Because God created everything, He is in charge of everything. Everyone sins, or disobeys God. Our sin separates us from God. The good news of the gospel is that God sent His Son, Jesus, to take the punishment we deserve. Everyone who trusts in Jesus will be saved.

FAMILY STARTING POINTS 

  • Babies and Toddlers
    • Jesus came to save people from their wrong choices.
    • While we were sinners, God sent Jesus to rescue us.
    • The good news about Jesus is for everybody.
    • Jesus saves everyone who trusts in Him.
    • The church serves God.
  • Preschool
    • God loves us and sent Jesus to save us. 
    • What is the church? The church is all Christians everywhere.
  • Kids
    • God sent Jesus into the world to rescue sinners. 
    • What is the church? The church is all Christians everywhere, who gather together in their communities to worship and serve God.

UNIT KEY PASSAGE

  • Romans 12:5

NEXT WEEK 

  • “Doers of the Word” (James 1–2)

Sunday Morning 2/14: Unit 29, Session 2: Stephen’s Sermon

Stephen was one of the seven men chosen to serve as leaders in the early church at Jerusalem. (See Acts 6:1-7.) God blessed Stephen and gave him power to do wonders and miracles like some of the apostles.

Some of the Jews accused Stephen of blasphemy and dragged him to the Sanhedrin, a group of Jewish leaders who acted as a legal council. Stephen addressed the group. He drew from the Jewish history, which the leaders of the Sanhedrin would have known well. But Stephen taught from the Old Testament things the Jewish leaders had likely never realized. 

As Stephen preached, he showed how the Old Testament pointed to a coming Savior and how that Savior was Jesus. Stephen pointed out that the Jews’ ancestors had rejected God’s prophets. And they were just like their fathers; they rejected the Messiah, the Lord Jesus. Not only did they reject Jesus, they killed Him!

The Jewish leaders rushed at Stephen. As he faced his enemies, Stephen looked into heaven and saw God’s glory. Jesus was standing at God’s right hand. The Jews forced Stephen out of the city, and they stoned him.

Remind your kids of Jesus’ words in Matthew 10:22: “You will be hated by everyone because of my name. But the one who endures to the end will be saved.” Following Jesus will include difficulty and suffering. Jesus gives words of both warning and comfort: “Don’t be afraid” (Matt. 10:26).

Stephen was killed because he was a Christian. Jesus told His followers that they would be persecuted—hated, hurt, or even killed—for loving Him. Jesus also said that those who suffer for Him would be blessed. We can face suffering in this life because Jesus suffered first. He died and then rose again, and He is waiting for us in heaven.

FAMILY STARTING POINTS 

  • Babies and Toddlers
    • God was with Stephen.
    • Stephen told about God’s plan to send Jesus.
    • Stephen said that Jesus is the Messiah.
    • We can remember that Jesus suffered for us.
    • The church serves God.
  • Preschool
    • People hurt Stephen because he followed Jesus. 
    • What is the church? The church is all Christians everywhere.
  • Kids
    • Stephen preached about Jesus no matter what. 
    • What is the church? The church is all Christians everywhere, who gather together in their communities to worship and serve God.

UNIT KEY PASSAGE

  • Romans 12:5

NEXT WEEK 

  • “The Good News” (Romans 5–6)

Sunday Morning 2/7: Unit 29, Session 1: Ananias and Sapphira

Something amazing was happening among believers in the early church. Not only was the Holy Spirit changing people’s hearts to believe in Jesus, He was empowering them to live differently. We see the evidence of God’s grace among the believers in Acts 4:32-35. The believers shared everything they had. If one person had a need, someone else gladly gave what he had to meet that need. As a result, “there was not a needy person among them” (Acts 4:34).

Joseph (also known as Barnabas) was one of the disciples living in this way. He sold a field and gave the money to the apostles. But trouble arose when Ananias and his wife, Sapphira, sold some land. Perhaps they wanted to appear as generous as Barnabas without feeling the full cost of such generosity. They secretly kept back some of the money, and Ananias brought the rest to Peter.

When Peter confronted Ananias, he didn’t tell him he was wrong to only bring part of the money. In fact, Peter said Ananias could have been honest about how the money was divided. Ananias and Sapphira’s sin was in pretending to be generous when they were actually greedy. They had tried to deceive the apostles, but Peter pointed out that they were guilty of trying to deceive God. Ananias dropped dead, and a few hours later his wife did too.

As you teach this story to kids, avoid using Ananias and Sapphira as a warning to be generous or die. As sinners, we struggle with the temptation of greed. Point your kids to Jesus, who forgives our greed and changes us through the Holy Spirit. Ananias and Sapphira wanted to look generous, but they were greedy. The Holy Spirit changes our hearts to want to share with those in need because Jesus generously gave all He had so we can share in His riches and have forgiveness and eternal life.

FAMILY STARTING POINTS 

  • Babies and Toddlers
    • Ananias and Sapphira lied about their gift.
    • Ananias and Sapphira were punished for lying to God.
    • We give because Jesus gives us what we need.
    • Jesus gave up everything He had for us.
    • The church serves God.
  • Preschool
    • Ananias and Sapphira pretended to be generous. 
    • What is the church? The church is all Christians everywhere.
  • Kids
    • Ananias and Sapphira lied about their gift to the church. 
    • What is the church? The church is all Christians everywhere, who gather together in their communities to worship and serve God.

UNIT KEY PASSAGE

  • Romans 12:5

NEXT WEEK 

  • “Stephen’s Sermon” (Acts 6–7)

Sunday Morning 1/31: Unit 28, Session 4: Living Like Jesus

Like his first letter, Peter’s second letter was written to believers in the early church who had experienced persecution and suffering. At this time, Peter was in a Roman prison. He was aware that his death was imminent. (See 2 Pet. 1:13-15.) Besides the outside threats to their faith, these believers were also confronted with false teachers within the church who tried to lead them away from the true gospel. 

Paul warned against false teachers. In the opening chapter of his letter, Paul’s exhortation to live like Jesus gives believers a measure for making sure they are following the truth. The best defense against false teachers is a dedication to a knowledge of the truth. As you prepare to teach from 2 Peter 1, consider these two questions: How do we live like Jesus? Why do we live like Jesus?

First, God’s people live like Jesus through the power of Jesus (2 Pet. 1:3-4) and through personal application (2 Pet. 1:5-7). Not only is the Christian life marked by faith in Christ, it is characterized by goodness, knowledge, self-control, endurance, godliness, brotherly affection, and love. These come from knowing Jesus, who calls us to Himself.

Second, God’s people live like Jesus to confirm their calling. (2 Pet. 1:8-11) If we claim to have faith but do not live like Jesus, we have forgotten what Jesus has done for us. Because God has credited to us Jesus’ righteousness, we strive to live in loving obedience to Him to show those around us that Jesus has truly changed our lives.

Soon after writing this letter, Peter was killed in Rome as Jesus had predicted. (John 21:18-19) Help your kids grasp that Jesus lived a perfect life and died the death we deserve for our sin. When we trust in Jesus, God forgives our sins and changes our hearts. Jesus calls and empowers His followers to live like Him.

FAMILY STARTING POINTS 

  • Babies and Toddlers
    • Peter wrote a letter to people who loved Jesus.
    • Peter told believers to remember what Jesus did for them.
    • Jesus helps His followers live like Him.
    • We live like Jesus because He died for us.
    • The Holy Spirit helps us.
  • Preschool
    • Peter encouraged believers to live like Jesus. 
    • How does the Holy Spirit help Christians? The Holy Spirit comforts us, shows us our sin, and guides us as we live for God’s glory.
  • Kids
    • Peter instructed believers to live like Jesus. 
    • How does the Holy Spirit help Christians? The Holy Spirit comforts us, shows us our sin, and guides us as we live for God’s glory.

UNIT KEY PASSAGE

  • 2 Peter 1:3

NEXT WEEK 

  • “Ananias and Sapphira” (Acts 4–5)

Sunday Morning 1/24: Unit 28, Session 3: Faithful in Hard Times

Peter’s story of faith began when Jesus said, “Follow Me.” (Matt. 4:18) Peter and his brother Andrew—two fishermen from Galilee—left their nets and followed Jesus. As one of Jesus’ twelve disciples, Peter witnessed firsthand Jesus’ miracles and teachings.

Peter believed that Jesus is the Messiah (Matt. 16:16), and he was understandably upset when Jesus predicted that Peter would deny Him (Matt. 26:34-35). Peter fell asleep as Jesus prayed in the garden, and he drew his sword to defend Jesus when He was arrested. (Matt. 26:40; John 18:10) Peter denied Jesus three times, but after the resurrection Jesus appeared to Peter and the other disciples. Then Jesus restored Peter to ministry at the sea of Galilee. (John 21:15-19)

The first 12 chapters in the Book of Acts record the Holy Spirit’s work through Peter after Pentecost. God revealed to Peter that the gospel is for everyone—Jews and Gentiles. Peter was arrested and imprisoned for sharing the gospel, but an angel of the Lord rescued him. (Acts 12:1-8)

Peter wrote his first letter sometime between AD 62 and 64 to believers who had experienced persecution and suffering. He encouraged them and reminded them how to live holy lives as followers of Christ, looking forward to an eternal reward in their true home—heaven.

Peter’s letter was written nearly two thousand years ago to believers who were not far removed from Jesus’ life on earth. We still wait eagerly for Jesus’ return, but God calls us to faithfulness in hard times—using our time on earth to better know and love Him, and to tell others about Him. As believers, we are all called to live a life of love and to glorify God by what we do and say, even in the midst of trials and troubles.

The Bible says Christians will suffer for following Jesus. Peter encouraged believers who faced persecution for their faith. Through suffering, God can make us more like His Son. Jesus gives us hope and true life so we can live joyfully for Him, even in hard times.

FAMILY STARTING POINTS 

  • Babies and Toddlers
    • People who love Jesus have many troubles.
    • Peter told believers to hope in Jesus.
    • Jesus went through hard times to rescue us.
    • We can live for Jesus even in hard times.
    • The Holy Spirit helps us.
  • Preschool
    • Peter encouraged believers going through hard times. 
    • How does the Holy Spirit help Christians? The Holy Spirit comforts us, shows us our sin, and guides us as we live for God’s glory.
  • Kids
    • Peter encouraged believers who faced persecution. 
    • How does the Holy Spirit help Christians? The Holy Spirit comforts us, shows us our sin, and guides us as we live for God’s glory.

UNIT KEY PASSAGE

  • 2 Peter 1:3

NEXT WEEK

  • “Living Like Jesus” (2 Peter 1)

Sunday Morning 1/17: Unit 28, Session 2: Peter Healed a Man

With the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, Jesus’ disciples were empowered to carry out Jesus’ mission for them: to take the gospel to all the nations. More and more people believed in Jesus. They met together at the temple to praise and worship God, and the first church began.

One afternoon, two of Jesus’ disciples—Peter and John—went to the temple to pray. They encountered at the gate a man who could not walk. Rather than give the man money, Peter gave him something much more valuable: immediate physical healing in Jesus’ name.  

Remember to keep three things in mind. First, Peter’s healing the beggar was not magic; it was a miracle. Beginning in Acts 3:12, Peter responded to the people who were amazed at what had happened. “Why are you amazed at this … as though we had made him walk by our own power?” The man wasn’t healed because Peter was a super-believer. Peter explained that it was by Jesus’ power the man was healed.

Second, the man’s healing made him happy and thankful. He entered the temple and rejoiced! Consider the wonderful miracle of salvation. We are dead in our sin, and God makes us alive in Christ! How we should rejoice and give thanks to the Lord!

Finally, Peter and John were bold in their witness. When confronted by the religious leaders, they did not shy away. Peter and John preached about the salvation found in Jesus. In fact, they said they were “unable to stop speaking about what [they had] seen and heard” (Acts 4:20).

After Jesus returned to heaven, the Holy Spirit gave the disciples power to begin working. With the power of Jesus’ name, Peter healed a man who was lame. Not even the religious leaders could stop Jesus’ followers from sharing the good news about Jesus.

The same power that enabled Peter to heal the man who was lame—the power of the Holy Spirit—enables believers today to live on mission for Jesus. Pray that God would give your kids a willingness to be used by Him for His glory and for the fame of Jesus’ name. 

FAMILY STARTING POINTS 

  • Babies and Toddlers
    • Peter and John went to the temple to pray.
    • They healed a man in Jesus’ name.
    • Only Jesus rescues and heals people.
    • The Holy Spirit gives us power to do God’s plan.
    • The Holy Spirit helps us.
  • Preschool
    • Peter healed the man who could not walk. 
    • How does the Holy Spirit help Christians? The Holy Spirit comforts us, shows us our sin, and guides us as we live for God’s glory.
  • Kids
    • The Holy Spirit gave Peter power to heal a man. 
    • How does the Holy Spirit help Christians? The Holy Spirit comforts us, shows us our sin, and guides us as we live for God’s glory.

UNIT KEY PASSAGE

  • 2 Peter 1:3

NEXT WEEK 

  • “Faithful in Hard Times” (1 Peter 1-2)

Sunday Morning 1/10: Unit 28, Session 1: The Holy Spirit Came

Before Jesus ascended to heaven, He instructed the disciples to go to Jerusalem and wait. Jesus promised that the Holy Spirit would come upon them. So the disciples went back to Jerusalem, where they waited and prayed for 40 days.

The time came for the Jewish festival called Pentecost, or the Feast of Weeks. As with the Passover festival, Jews from all over the Roman Empire would be at the temple in Jerusalem.

During this festival, the Holy Spirit came to the disciples in Jerusalem. They heard a sound like a violent, rushing wind. When the Holy Spirit filled Jesus’ followers, they were able to speak in foreign languages. They went out into the city and began to preach, and the Jews from all over the world were amazed. These men were from Galilee, but they were speaking in languages the visitors could understand.

Some of those who heard this thought the disciples were drunk. But Peter explained that God had kept His promise to send the Holy Spirit. He reminded them of the prophet Joel’s words: “I will pour out my Spirit on all humanity” (Joel 2:28).

The disciples told about God’s plan. The Holy Spirit convicted the crowd and they asked, “Brothers, what must we do?” Peter told them to repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus. That day, three thousand people received salvation!

God kept His promise to send the Holy Spirit. With the Holy Spirit’s help, Jesus’ disciples could begin their work to share the gospel with the entire world. God gives the Holy Spirit to everyone who trusts in Jesus as Lord and Savior.

As you talk with your kids, emphasize that the Holy Spirit gives us power to do God’s work, and He changes us to be more like Jesus.

FAMILY STARTING POINTS 

  • Babies and Toddlers
    • God sent the Holy Spirit to Jesus’ friends.
    • Peter told people that Jesus is alive.
    • The Holy Spirit helped people hear and believe the good news.
    • God gives the Holy Spirit to everyone who trusts in Jesus.
    • The Holy Spirit helps us.
  • Preschool
    • God sent the Holy Spirit just as He promised. 
    • How does the Holy Spirit help Christians? The Holy Spirit comforts us, shows us our sin, and guides us as we live for God’s glory.
  • Kids
    • God kept His promise to send the Holy Spirit. 
    • How does the Holy Spirit help Christians? The Holy Spirit comforts us, shows us our sin, and guides us as we live for God’s glory.

UNIT KEY PASSAGE

  • 2 Peter 1:3

NEXT WEEK 

  • “Peter Healed a Man” (Acts 3–4)

Sunday Morning 1/3: Unit 27, Session 4: Jesus Returned to Heaven

After Jesus’ death and resurrection, He appeared to His disciples over a 40-day period. At one point, He appeared to more than 500 people. During that time, Jesus taught about the kingdom of God. Some of them wondered if Jesus was finally going to overthrow the Roman government and set up His kingdom on earth.

Jesus had a different plan for the disciples. He directed the Eleven to go to a mountain, where He appeared to them again. They worshiped Him, but some still doubted. (Matt. 28:17) On the mountain, Jesus gave His disciples the Great Commission. He commanded His disciples to go into the world and preach the gospel, the good news about Him. 

The Great Commission is not just for missionaries far from home. All believers are called to share the gospel with others, teach them to obey God’s commands, and baptize them in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Jesus finished His commission with a profound promise: “And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matt. 28:20).

Jesus told the disciples to remain in Jerusalem until they received the Father’s promise—the Holy Spirit. Those who repented of their sins and trusted in Jesus’ death and resurrection would be baptized by the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit would give them power to live holy lives and take the gospel to the ends of the earth. After Jesus told the disciples these things, Jesus was taken up into the sky—right in front of their eyes!

Jesus left earth and returned to heaven, but He did not leave us alone. Jesus promised to send the Holy Spirit to be with us and help us do God’s work—to teach people everywhere about Jesus so they will trust in Him as their Lord and Savior. One day, Jesus will return to make all things new and to rule as Lord over all.

FAMILY STARTING POINTS 

  • Babies and Toddlers
    • Jesus told His friends to go and tell others about Him.
    • The friends watched Jesus go up into heaven.
    • Jesus will come back one day.
    • The Holy Spirit helps us while we wait for Jesus.
    • Jesus is alive in heaven.
  • Preschool
    • Jesus gave His disciples a mission. 
    • Where is Jesus now? Jesus is in heaven.
  • Kids
    • Jesus gave His disciples the Great Commission. 
    • Where is Jesus now? Jesus ascended to heaven where He is seated at the right hand of the Father.

UNIT KEY PASSAGE

  • John 11:25

NEXT WEEK 

  • “The Holy Spirit Came” (Acts 2)

Sunday Morning 12/27: Unit 27, Session 3: Jesus Appeared to the Disciples

The disciples were devastated that Jesus had died. They believed that Jesus was the Messiah, but they had abandoned Him and Jesus was killed. How could He save anyone if He was dead? But now some people were reporting that Jesus was alive! Was it true?

The disciples were talking about these things when Jesus stood among them. “Peace to you!” He said. Imagine how Jesus’ words might have calmed the disciples’ anxious hearts. Their Lord, whom they had deserted, didn’t show up to scold them for their failures or shame them for their lack of faith. He spoke peace to them.

Thomas, who was not with the disciples when Jesus came, had a hard time believing. Thomas wanted physical proof. A week later, Jesus showed Thomas His hands and His side. Thomas immediately believed, and Jesus said, “Because you have seen me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe” (John 20:29).

With His resurrection, Jesus’ mission was accomplished, but the disciples’ work was just beginning. Jesus gave His followers a job to do: “As the Father has sent me, I also send you” (John 20:21). This verse contains the Gospel of John’s version of the Great Commission. 

Jesus, the One sent from the Father, sent the disciples to be His messengers and representatives. Jesus equipped the disciples with the Holy Spirit to proclaim the gospel—the good news of what Jesus has done—to the world.

Emphasize to your kids that for 40 days, Jesus presented Himself to more than 500 people and proved that He is alive. Jesus is still alive today. We have not seen Jesus, but if we believe in Him, we will be blessed. He sends out believers to tell others about Him and gives us power through the Holy Spirit.

FAMILY STARTING POINTS 

  • Babies and Toddlers
    • The friends were hiding in a room.
    • Jesus showed His friends He is alive.
    • Jesus told Thomas to believe.
    • We have not seen Jesus, but we believe He is alive.
    • Jesus is alive in heaven.
  • Preschool
    • Jesus appeared to His disciples.
    • Where is Jesus now? Jesus is in heaven.
  • Kids
    • Jesus proved He is alive. 
    • Where is Jesus now? Jesus ascended to heaven where He is seated at the right hand of the Father.

UNIT KEY PASSAGE

  • John 11:25

NEXT WEEK 

  • “Jesus Returned to Heaven” (Matthew 28; Acts 1)