MINISTRY

Faith Talks

Each week’s content will correspond with the kid’s lesson on Sunday morning, whether you are joining us online or in person!

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.

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 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.

Preschool Questions

  • James says that a person who hears the Word of God but does not do what it says is like who? (A person who sees himself in a mirror and then immediately forgets what he looks like, James 1:23-24)
  • What two groups of people did James specifically mention helping? (widows and orphans, James 1:27)
  • What does James say a person can show their faith by? (the works they do to obey God, James 2:18)

Grade School Questions

  • If you take care of people in need and show kindness to others, but do not trust Jesus, are you saved? (Remind kids that faith is necessary to salvation. We cannot earn salvation by good works.)
  • Why is faith without works useless? (Guide kids to understand that a person who claims faith but shows no outward signs of loving and obeying God’s Word probably does not have true faith. Explain that saving faith is marked by the Holy Spirit’s presence in a person’s life. He transforms people to live more and more like Jesus; a person who isn’t being transformed likely doesn’t have the Holy Spirit in his life.)
  • What are some ways we can do good works through faith? (Help kids brainstorm practical ways they can live on mission, such as sharing their lunch with a friend, showing kindness to someone they don’t normally get along with, and telling their friends about Jesus.)

Activity: Faith and works paper planes

Supplies Needed: Paper, Markers

Do: Have your kids to create paper airplanes, and write the word FAITH on one wing, and WORKS on the other. Then, let your kids to cut off one wing of the airplane, whichever wing they choose. Let them fly their planes.

Say: These airplanes sure flew a lot farther with both wings, didn’t they? Airplanes need both wings to fly. In the same way, Christians need both faith and works to please God. You can’t have an airplane without two wings, and you can’t have true faith without also obeying God and having good works. Good works cannot save us, but James said faith without works is useless.

The believers in the early church faced intense persecution. After Stephen was killed, Jesus’ followers at the church in Jerusalem scattered; however, they did not stop talking about Jesus. They continued to share the good news. One man, Philip, took the gospel to Samaria. The crowds there listened and believed, and they had great joy.

In this week’s Bible story, Philip was instructed by an angel of the Lord to go to a certain road in the desert. Philip obeyed. The Spirit led Philip to a chariot, where an Ethiopian official was reading the Scriptures from the prophet Isaiah. The Ethiopian man did not understand what he was reading, so Philip explained it to him.

The man was reading from the prophet Isaiah: “He was led like a sheep to the slaughter … In his humiliation justice was denied him … For his life is taken from the earth” (Acts 8:32-33). The official wondered if Isaiah was speaking about himself or another person. Philip told the official that Isaiah’s words weren’t about Isaiah; they were about the Messiah—Jesus! The official believed in Jesus and was baptized.

Guide your kids to consider the role of the Holy Spirit in this interaction between Philip and the Ethiopian official. Who was responsible for Philip’s going to the desert? Who helped Philip explain the Scriptures? Who changed the heart of the official so he would believe?

After his interaction with the Ethiopian official, Philip continued sharing the gospel in all the towns on his way to the town of Caesarea.

In our mission of making disciples, believers must be willing instruments to be used in the hands of the Lord. Philip didn’t go into the desert that day with a strategy for converting another man; the Holy Spirit led Philip, and he obeyed. As believers, we can be open to the guidance of the Holy Spirit and willing to follow His lead. He will go with us.

Preschool Questions

  • What did Philip ask the man? (Do you understand what you are reading?)
  • Who did Isaiah write about? (Jesus)
  • What did the Ethiopian man think about the good news about Jesus? (He believed and went home happy.)

Grade School Questions

  • Who told Philip to go to the chariot and talk to the official? Help kids recognize that the Holy Spirit spoke to Philip and Philip obeyed.
  • How did Philip know what to say to the official? Lead kids to recall that Jesus promised the Holy Spirit would help us and teach us what to say.
  • How can we have the Holy Spirit today? Help kids recognize that when we follow Jesus, God promises to send each of us the Holy Spirit to live within us. This promise is for everyone!

Activity: Funnel Challenge

Supplies Needed: Empty water bottle with narrow opening, bag of dried beans, piece of paper

Do: Give your kids an empty water bottle, a bag of dried beans and a plain sheet of paper. Without explaining how, instruct them to get all the beans in the water bottle as quickly as possible without spilling any on the floor. See how long it takes for them to figure out to roll the paper as a funnel and pour in the beans. If they are stuck after a few minutes, give hints on how to use the paper.

Say: The quickest way to accomplish this challenge was to use the paper creatively. Paper is usually written on, but it can have so many different uses. In a similar way, God can use us in creative ways that we might not expect. As we heard in our Bible story this week, one of Jesus’ followers was a willing instrument in God’s plan to spread the gospel.

Saul was no stranger to religion. He grew up in a religious household. He was a devout Jew who was born in Tarsus (Phil. 3:5) and inherited his Roman citizenship from his father. So when people began talking about this man named Jesus and claiming that He was the promised Messiah, Saul was defensive.

Saul believed strongly in the Jewish faith of his ancestors. He violently persecuted God’s church and tried to destroy it. (Gal. 1:13-14) He dragged believers from their houses and put them in prison. He approved of the stoning of Stephen, the first Christian martyr. Saul thought he was doing the right thing by defending Judaism, but God’s purposes could not be stopped. As Saul was on his way to arrest believers in Damascus, the Lord stopped him in his tracks.

Jesus revealed Himself to Saul, and Saul was never the same. He was struck blind and led into Damascus, where a believer named Ananias placed his hands on Saul. Suddenly, Saul could see again. Saul was convinced that Jesus is Lord. Saul later described the experience as being like dying and receiving a new life. (Gal. 2:20; 2 Cor. 5:17)

God had a purpose and a plan for Saul. He had set Saul apart before Saul was even born (Gal. 1:15). God said, “This man is my chosen instrument to take my name to Gentiles, kings, and Israelites” (Acts 9:15). Jesus changed Saul’s life. As you teach your kids, clarify that conversion happens when a person recognizes his sin, repents, believes in Jesus, and confesses Jesus as Savior and Lord. Jesus changes a person’s heart, and as a result, his life is changed too.

Jesus appeared to Saul and changed him inside and out. Jesus called Saul, who was once an enemy of Christians, to spend the rest of his life telling people the gospel and leading them to trust Jesus as Lord and Savior.

Preschool Questions

  • What did Jesus ask Paul? (“Why are you against me?”)
  • What did God tell Ananias He had planned for Paul? (“I have chosen Paul to tell many people about me.”)
  • Why were the people so amazed when Paul said that Jesus is the Son of God? (He had been an enemy of Jesus, but now he loved Jesus.)

Grade School Questions

  • Why was Ananias nervous about going to Saul? Help kids recognize that Ananias knew what Saul had done in Jerusalem and why he had come to Damascus.
  • What happened to Saul because Ananias obeyed God? Help kids recognize that Saul received his sight, but he also received Jesus as his Savior. Saul followed in baptism and learned from the Christians in Damascus.
  • Why should we be like Ananias, willing to obey even if we’re scared or nervous? Help kids recognize that nothing is impossible with God, so we can trust Him when He tells us to do something.

Activity: Blinded

Supplies Needed: Random obstacles (chairs, cones, etc.)

Do: Set up obstacles in an open space. Arrange chairs or cones. You may tape paper to the floor as obstacles to avoid. One player should put on a blindfold. His family will guide him through the obstacle course using only verbal instructions. The family may not touch the blindfolded player. After kids move through the obstacles, pairs should switch roles and go again.

Say: Everyday tasks become so much harder when you can’t see, right? In this week’s story, we will learn about a man who was blinded by the Lord so that he could finally see the truth about 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.

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.

Preschool Questions

  • What is the gospel? (The good news of Jesus)
  • Who wrote a letter to the people in the church at Colossae? (Paul)
  • What did Paul tell the people in his letter? (How people who love and follow Jesus are supposed to live)

Grade School Questions

  • Why did Paul write this letter to the Colossians? Help kids recognize Paul wanted to encourage the church and make sure they had a complete understanding of Jesus.
  • How did Paul want the people to live their lives? Help kids recognize that everything we do should be done in the name of Jesus.
  • How does Jesus want us to live our lives today? Help kids recognize that Jesus wants us to live in Him through faith.

Activity: Encouraging Words

Supplies Needed: Paper and Markers

Say: Paul wrote letters to the early churches to teach them and to encourage them. He told them that Jesus gives new life to people who trust in Him. These days, most people tend to communicate electronically. Sometimes it’s hard to keep up with special messages that way.

Do: Distribute paper to kids and have them write encouraging letters to friends or family members.

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 reveal 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. 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. But our job as believers is 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.

Preschool Questions

  • Who told the people in Corinth about Jesus? (Paul)
  • After Paul left Corinth, who started telling the people things that were not true? (New teachers)
  • Why were the new teachers sharing a message that was not true? (They did not love God and tried to keep the good news from spreading.)

Grade School Questions

  • Paul said the church in Corinth was deceived just like someone else in the Bible. Whom did he reference? Help kids recognize the church was deceived like Eve was deceived by the serpent.
  • How might we be deceived today in the same way as Eve? Help kids recognize when we believe a lie or disobey God, it’s the same as saying we don’t trust God to know what’s best for us and we want to go our own way.
  • How can we know truth and overcome temptation? Help kids recognize that by reading the Bible we will know God’s truth and learn to fight the schemes of the enemy. God will prepare us and provide a way out.

Activity: How do you share the Gospel?

Supplies Needed: Bible, Gospel Plan Poster

Say: God gives us power to stand up for the gospel. To share the gospel with others, we have to know it ourselves. Some people think you have to know the whole Bible to tell someone about Jesus, but that’s not true. You just have to know the basics. Let’s look at this poster, which lays it out clearly for us to learn and then share with others.

Do: Encourage kids to look up the verses for each part of the gospel plan. Let kids find another family member and practice explaining the gospel plan to one another.

Do: Distribute paper to kids and have them write encouraging letters to friends or family members.

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.”

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!

Preschool Questions

  • What did God tell Cornelius in his vision? (To send for Peter; Acts 10:5)
  • What did God show to Peter through a vision? (A sheet in which many animals, including unclean animals, were sitting; Acts 10:11-12)
  • What did Peter’s vision mean? (That God wanted the gospel to be preached to Gentiles; Acts 10:28, 34-36)

Grade School Questions 

  • Why does God love all people? Guide kids to remember that all people are made in God’s image. Help them see that our value and dignity do not come from our actions, our appearance, or the talents we have. Our value is based on God’s love for us and the fact that He has created each of us.
  • Why does God want us to love all people? Guide kids to see that our love reflects His love. If we behave toward others as if we hate them or do not care about them, we communicate untrue things about God. Help them see that the Bible teaches us that we cannot love God without also loving people. Our love for people is evidence of our love for God.
  • How can we show with our actions that we love God and love people? Guide kids to think practically about ways they can care for others. Suggest ways they can show kindness to their classmates and help them see that seeking out ways to show love to people who are different from them is a great way to show that God does not show favoritism.

Activity:  Where is it from?

Do • Display various stuffed animal toys and ask the kids to group them based on various traits, such as where the animal lives, what color it is, whether the animal is a mammal, or what the animal eats (plants, meat, or both).

Say • People like to group things to help us understand them better. We even do that with ourselves sometimes, grouping people based on what language we speak, where we live, or other factors. Sadly, we often sin by thinking certain groups of people are better or worse than others.

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 in Jesus.

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.”

Preschool Questions 

  • How did the Jewish believers react after Peter explained what happened with Cornelius? (They glorified God and understood that Gentiles could be saved by faith too, Acts 11:18)
  • Who did the scattered believers share the gospel with? (Only the Jews, Acts 11:19)
  • In what city were believers first called Christians? (Antioch of Syria, Acts 11:26)

Grade School Questions

  • Who can we share the gospel with? Direct kids to see that God’s plan all along has been for people of all nations and tribes to come to faith. As a result, we can be sure that God wants us to share the gospel with everyone we meet.
  • How do you feel when you think about sharing the gospel with someone? Help kids think through the common emotions they might experience. Remind them that it is normal to feel nervous, afraid, or uncertain. Help them understand that the Bible teaches us the Holy Spirit will empower us and help to give us the words we need to share the gospel. Remind them that even a negative reaction from the person listening doesn’t mean we should stop sharing the gospel.
  • How can you encourage other believers? Guide kids to think practically. Remind them that telling someone you care or thanking them for the ways they help you love Jesus are great ways to encourage others. Sometimes, even just listening to others’ problems is all it takes.

Activity: Be an encourager

Say • What are some ways you can encourage your friends in their faith? Can you encourage someone to come to church? To read the Bible? To pray more? Remind kids that they encourage others, like Barnabas did and like missionaries do today. Ask the kids to discuss different ways they could encourage one another. Point out that we can remind our brothers and sisters to live out their faith daily by reading the Bible, praying, and telling others about Jesus.

Do • Write some encouraging notes to friends or family and let them know that you are praying for them! They would love to get a note from you!

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 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.

Preschool Questions 

  • How did God speak to people long ago? (Through prophets, Heb. 1:1)
  • Who is the perfect Prophet through whom God has spoken? (Jesus, Heb. 1:2)
  • How is Jesus a better high priest? (He lived as a human, but never sinned; Heb. 5:1-10)

Grade School Questions 

  • Why is the new covenant better? Guide your kids to see that under the new covenant, we are declared righteous by God. Remind them that Jesus’ sacrifice was perfect, and we don’t need to keep offering more and more sacrifices. The old covenant was sufficient to show people their need for a Savior, but it is the new covenant that provides salvation from sin.
  • What are things you sometimes value too highly? Encourage your kids to answer honestly and think about the people, things, or events that they may make idols in their lives. Remind them that Jesus is better and help them think through ways to adjust their lives to make Him their priority.
  • How can we hear from God? Guide kids to understand that God’s Word, Scripture, has been preserved for us. We can read the Bible to see Jesus’ teachings from when He was on earth, as well as the teachings He gave through His apostles after returning to heaven. Help them remember that the Holy Spirit helps believers understand God’s Word.

Activity: The greatest treasure

Supplies needed: construction paper, fake money, gems, and craft supplies.

Provide kids with construction paper, plastic coins, adhesive gems, and other craft supplies such as glitter glue and stickers. Encourage kids to draw a treasure chest on their papers and decorate it with the coins, jewels, and other craft supplies. Kids can write Jesus is the greatest treasure on their sheets.

Say • Jesus, our great High Priest, brought a better covenant. No matter what riches or popularity the world might have for us, Jesus will always be more valuable. He gives us hope for the future and lasting joy and peace. We can be a part of His plan for the world when we share the gospel and encourage others to live for Him.

It is common to think of faith as something that is just inside 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. The people listed in Hebrews 11 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.

Preschool Questions 

  • What is faith? (Being sure that what we hope for will happen, Heb. 11:1)
  • What trait tied all the Old Testament heroes together? (Their faith, Heb. 11)
  • Are faithful people rewarded with happy, easy lives? (No, having faith isn’t always easy; Heb. 11:36-37)

Grade School Questions 

  • What is the reward God gives for faith? Guide your kids to see that God’s rewards are bigger than material possessions, fame, glory, or power. Instead, God promises eternal life with Him in the perfect world Jesus will bring when He returns.
  • Why is faith important? Help kids understand that faith is how God provides us salvation, grows us to be more like Jesus, and works His plans through us.
  • Who are people in your life who have great faith? Guide your kids to think about the men and women they know who have demonstrated great faith. Direct them to consider parents, the pastors of your church, and the ministry leaders and volunteers they interact with each week.

Say • God works mightily through people who have faith in Him. God uses people even though He doesn’t need us. When we have faith, God gives us power through the Holy Spirit so that we can be a part of His mission to spread the gospel to all nations. What is the gospel? The gospel is the good news that God sent His Son, Jesus, into the world to rescue sinners.

Activity: Missions statements

Do • Write this statement on a separate piece of construction paper: We are Forerunners of the Faith, united, to help people find and follow Jesus.

Say • This statement is the mission and vision statement for Rush Creek. Let’s talk about what this statement means and how we can do these things.

Do • Distribute sticky notes and ask kids to write some of their ideas on the notes and stick them next to the statement. Remind them that God works mightily through people who have faith in Him. They too can be in the Hall of Faith—used by God to live out their faith, serve others, and obey what Jesus commanded the church to do.