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Kingdom of Heaven Lesson #1

“The Kingdom of Heaven”

Mathew 13: 24-30

(October 1st-6th 2017)

According to Iowa Agriculture Literacy 2015, there are a lot of reasons for farmers to plow or till their fields. But, plowing does present some challenges. One of the principle problems with plowing fields is the potential wind and water erosion that might carry soil away from the field. For this reason many farmers chose to plant their fields using no-till technology in which last year’s organic matter is left on the surface and seeds are drilled directly into soil without plowing. The organic matter from previous years helps hold the soil in place.”

In the parable of the wheat, Jesus illustrates how we like farmers have to be careful not to erode the soil or those God is calling to himself, but to drill the seeds of the Gospel message directly into their hearts.

Answer and discuss the following question with your group.

If you or your small group was put in charge of building a kingdom, what would it include and why?” Is there anything or anyone that would definitely be left out?

Read the following excerpt out loud or watch message segment #1. 

An excerpt from the StoneBridge message, “Kingdom of Heaven”.

Watch Online

“One of the things that was different about Jesus – than all of the other religious teachers was – that Jesus hung around folks that just didn’t fit in. The religious leaders – the Pharisees big complaint about Jesus was that he hung out with sinful people.  It really bothered them that Jesus wasn’t bothered by them.

A real religious person would not have talked with – associated with – eaten with – or even let them touch their robe – if they did not keep the law. The world was divided into 2 worlds – good and bad

They would have been very bothered that Jesus was not weeding out anyone.”

Read Matthew 13: 24-30 and answer/discuss the following questions.

From Matthew 13:24-30 identify who is:

  • The Enemy
  • The Man who sowed the good seed
  • The Wheat (good plants)
  • The Tares (weeds, bad plants)

Look at Matthew 13:27 and 28, Sometimes we are like the owner’s servants who see others as bad seed, something evil, something to get rid of, or to keep out of the church. What are some of the ways or the reasons we do this in the name of Christianity?

Look at Matthew 13: 29 and 30, Jesus doesn’t want anything to happen to the plants until they have the chance to mature to see if they will be wheat or not. Jesus feels the same way about people inside and outside the church. What are some ways we “the church” can keep from pulling up the “wheat” (judging) when interacting with others that are different than ourselves, have “sin issues,” or just do things we don’t like?

Read the following excerpt out loud or watch message segment #2.

An excerpt from the StoneBridge message, “Kingdom of Heaven”.

Watch Online

“Lovingly confront Christians on sin issues. But I would say that we are anything but loving and usually we yell at people who are outside of the faith. I certainly need Christ followers who will lovingly hold me to the path. This should be done in a humble manner that is grace filled. But when it comes to people who are outside the church – leave the judgement to God. Let’s tell people about Jesus and his grace rather than judging and condemning.”

Read Answer/discuss the following questions.

2nd Timothy 4:2 tells us, “… we are to correct, rebuke and encourage with great patience and careful instruction.” Those that have accepted Jesus as the Lord of their life, do need others in a loving, humble manner to help correct and encourage them using scripture. What would be some good examples of this practice? What would be some poor examples of this practice?

In the sermon, Pastor Mark said, “Loving God and loving people would mean that we talk about sin and repentance – but it also means that we love – and that involves relationships not rules.” What does this mean to you and what does it look like?

Pastor Mark also shared, “Love involves time.” What are some ways you are currently spending time to show God’s love to those inside and outside the church?

Love also involves telling people about the goodness and the grace of God. How do you or would you tell people about the goodness and grace of God?

Reflection and Wrap-up

As a result of this study, what practical steps do you need to take to ensure those attending Stonebridge find a place that is safe, loving and with the main focus being sharing the message of God’s love and saving grace through Christ?

Pray Together as a Group

Additional Study

If you have time during your Small Group or you want to study more about the Kingdom of Heaven read and consider the following passages:

Matthew 5:20

Matthew 7:21

Ephesians 2:8-9

John 1:16

Acts 11:23

For the printable PDF of this lesson, click the following link:

Kingdom of Heaven Lesson 1

Breaking Bad – Lesson #3

“Parenting Fail”

Luke 2:41-52; Exodus 20:12; Psalm 111:10

(September 24-30, 2017)

In Dr. Seuss’ popular book The Cat in the Hat, young Sally and Sam’s Mother leaves them alone for a while. While bored on a rainy day, the young kids are tempted by an exciting stranger. As the Cat in the Hat approaches their house, he reassures the kids their Mom won’t mind if he comes in to play. The Cat looks fun and acts fun. “I know it is wet and the sun is not sunny, but we can have lots of good fun that is funny,” the Cat tells them. The young kids let him in, but the Cat makes poor decisions, tries to play with too many things at once and creates a big mess. When Thing 1 and Thing 2 arrive, matters go from bad to worse as they fly kites in the house and knock everything over. Thankfully the young boy Sam takes a stand. “I do NOT like the way that they play! If Mother could see this, oh what she would say.”

            When you were young and away from your parents, would you have let the Cat in? As parents, we want to help our children mature and have the wisdom to take a stand before things become messy. In other words, as the Cat said, “It is fun to have fun, but you have to know how.”

Answer and discuss the following question with your group.

  1. Share a time when either you or your parent’s had a #parentingfail? Or How have one of your children made a good decision that made you proud?

Read the following excerpt out loud or watch message segment #1.

 An excerpt from the StoneBridge message, “Parenting Fail”.

Watch Online

The law required every adult male Jew who lived within 15 miles of Jerusalem to attend Passover. Mary and Joseph were 90 miles away. This would have been a big deal. Still to this day the goal for every Jew all over the world is to attend once in their lifetime, to celebrate in Jerusalem the Passover feast. The celebration would last seven days. It really was the most important celebration you could go to. It has a happy time filled with hugs and singing.

God was indeed good. He was a deliverer and I am sure that at every camp fire there were conversations and prayers that again God would deliver the nation from Rome, a Messiah would come who would save the people.

After seven days Mary and Joseph and Jesus are heading home. The way travel would have worked was that these families that had come from Nazareth would have traveled in a caravan. It was for protection and fellowship. Women and children would go first. The men and young boys would follow. They would meet up at the end of the day to set up camp.

At the end of the day Mary and Joseph find each other, but Jesus is not at their camp. Maybe he is with his friends. No one has seen him all day. Mary thought he had been with Joseph. Joseph thought that he had been with Mary. He was just at the age where he could have been with either group. It was an honest mistake, but Jesus was lost.

Read Luke 2:41-50 and answer/discuss the following questions.

  1. As set forth in Luke 2:41-42, Jesus’ parents went to Jerusalem and the Passover festival “every year” and, when Jesus was twelve, attended the festival “as usual.” Based on these verses and the message excerpt above, explain the spiritual culture instilled into Jesus’ home by his parents.
  1. What “parenting fail” did Jesus’ parents make during the Passover festival? What was the emotional state of Jesus’ parent during this event? Do you think this was an honest mistake by good parents, bad parenting, or a possible case for child protective services? How come?
  1. This is the only glimpse of Jesus between his infancy and his adulthood. What does this passage reveal about Jesus’ identity and his mission.

Read the following excerpt out loud or watch message segment #2.

An excerpt from the StoneBridge message, “Parenting Fail”.

Watch Online

Many of us have lived our lives without wisdom. The choices that we have made with our money have been foolish. The choices that we made with regard to relationships have been stupid. Have you ever said this, “How could I have been so stupid. I can’t believe I did that. If only I would have listened.”

Parents, part of our responsibility is to teach the wisdom of God to our kids. The primary way that kids learn about God is through their parents. StoneBridge loves to teach kids God’s Word. We will do our best to do that in creative ways, but we know that partnering with parents will truly help them in the area of wisdom.

We don’t want our kids to learn the hard way. We want them to avoid the lessons that we learned by being foolish. “Well I don’t care what God says about money, I can figure this out.” OK. “I don’t care what God has to say about sex, I can figure this out.” “I don’t care what God says about being healthy, I got this.” Then we are choosing to ignore the wisdom of God.

Read Luke 2:51-52, Exodus 20:12 and Psalm 111:10 and answer/discuss the following questions.

  1. What were the different ways in which Jesus matured? How does Luke 2:51-52 reflect the truth of the fifth commandment in Exodus 20:12 and the promise of this commandment?
  1. Given that “Fear of the Lord” refers to revering God and honoring his commands, What is the difference between living with a knowledge of God and fearing God? Based on Psalm 111:10, what is the result of fearing God?

Reflection and Wrap-up

 

  1. When it comes to matters of faith, what is the culture in your family and your priorities? How can modeling a right relationship with God as a parent can lead to faith being “caught more than it is taught.”
  1. Parents sometimes make mistakes. Explain how the passages in this lesson can help you not only recover from your mistakes, but also encourage you to teach your children the benefits of revering God and obeying his commands.

Pray Together as a Group

Additional Study

If you have time during your Small Group or you want to study more about helping your children mature in faith, read and consider the following passages:

Proverbs 9:10

Deuteronomy 10:12

James 1:19

Philippians 2:14

Luke 11:4

Galatians 6:9

1Thessalonians 5:11

Matthew 6:24

For the printable PDF of this lesson, click the following link:

Lesson 3 Breaking Bad

 

 

Breaking Bad Lesson #2

“When Bad Things Happen”

(September 17-23, 2017)

“The Sound Of Silence”
(originally by Simon & Garfunkel)

 

Hello, darkness, my old friend.
I’ve come to talk with you again
Because a vision softly creeping,
Left its seeds while I was sleeping.

And the vision that was planted in my brain
Still remains
Within the sound of silence.

In restless dreams I walked alone.
Narrow streets of cobblestone
‘Neath the halo of a street lamp.
I turned my collar to the cold and damp

When my eyes were stabbed by the flash of a neon light
That split the night
And touched the sound of silence.

And in the naked light I saw
Ten thousand people, maybe more.
People talking without speaking.
People hearing without listening.

People writing songs that voices never share.
And no one dare
Disturb the sound of silence.

“Fools,” said I, “You do not know:
Silence, like a cancer, grows.
Hear my words that I might teach you.
Take my arms that I might reach you,”

But my words like silent raindrops fell
And echoed in the wells of silence.

And the people bowed and prayed
To the neon god they made.
And the sign flashed out its warning
In the words that it was forming.

And the sign said,
“The words of the prophets are written on the subway walls
And tenement halls.
And whispered in the sound of silence.”

read more…

Breaking Bad – Lesson #1

“Starting Off Bad”

Luke 1:26-38

(September 10-16, 2017)

Children Are A Gift From God
by Sandra Tolson

God sent me three packages
That needed special care
“Take care of these tiny gifts
For they are very rare.”

“Watch over them with all your love
And let them feel your touch
Take care of their every need
For you are needed very much.”

“These gifts will grow up very fast
As you soon will see
Love them with all your heart
And let them be what they will be.”

“When these gifts have fully grown
Look at Heaven up above
Know they exist because of God
And all his precious love.” read more…

Learning to Love – AGAIN

 

“Learning to Love-Again”

1 John 4:18

 (September 3rd-9th, 2017)

“Dan Cathy, Chick-fil-A’s chief operating officer took the command to love your enemies seriously, initiating a conversation with and ultimately befriending a LGBT activist.

The activist reported, ‘Cathy expressed a sincere interest in my life, wanting to get to know me on a personal level. He wanted to know about where I grew up, my faith, my family, even my husband, Tommy. In return, I learned about his wife and kids and gained an appreciation for his devout belief in Jesus Christ and his commitment to being a follower of Christ more than a Christian. Dan expressed regret and genuine sadness when he heard of people being treated unkindly in the name of Chick-fil-A, but he offered no apologies for his genuine beliefs about marriage.”
(Christianity Today, 2013) read more…

For Thou Art With Me – Lesson #7

For Thou Art with Me

 

“I Will Dwell in the House of the Lord Forever “

 

Psalm 23:6; John 10:7-15; Deuteronomy 11:18-21

(August 27-September 2, 2017)

The long and winding road

That leads to your door

Will never disappear

I’ve seen that road before

It always leads me here

Lead me to your door.

The Long and Winding Road (Lennon-McCartney)

read more…

For Thou Art With Me – Lesson #6

“For Thou Art with Me”

“Goodness and Mercy”

Psalm 23:6

 (August 20, 2017)

There are no ordinary people. You have never talked with a mere mortal.  Nations, cultures, arts, civilizations – these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit – immortal horrors or everlasting splendors…. And our charity must be a real and costly lover, with deep feeling for the sins in spite of which we love the sinner…. Your neighbor is the holiest object presented to your senses.

— The Weight of Glory, C.S. Lewis

I’m holding all of my life up to the light,
The light of eternity I know what I should let go.
I see what matters most in the light of eternity,
I want You to see me shine in the light of eternity.

— The Light of Eternity, Matthew West read more…

For Thou Art with Me – Lesson #5

“For Thou Art with Me”

“My Cup Overflows”

Psalm 23:4-5

 (August 13, 2017)

Life is hard from time to time. Life may seem hard all the time. Even at the end of a good day, we need someone who looks over the wear and tear to our body and soul. The Good Shepherd directs our path with nudges and pushes with his “rod and staff”. He provides real time first aid or rejuvenation as he ‘anoints my head with oil”. These poetic phrases describe a part of everyday life that is often lacking – one who watches out for us and keeps us whole. Safe and sound. read more…

For Thou Art With Me – Lesson #4

For Thou Art with Me

 

“Even Though”

Psalm 23:4

 (August 6-12, 2017)

Life is good on the mountaintops of celebration. But no matter how much we’d like to spend our lives up there, we need to walk through the valleys of challenges, too. Life is tough in the valleys. Still, there are valuable lessons we can learn in the valleys that we could never learn if we stayed on the mountaintops” Crosswalk, 2017. read more…

For Thou Art With Me – Lesson #3

 

For Thou Art with Me

 

“He Guides Me Along Right Paths”

 

Psalm 23:3

Proverbs 14:12; John 10:10-11

(July 30-August 5, 2017)

How does it feel?

How does it feel

To be on your own

With no direction home

Like a complete unknown

Like a rolling stone?

–Bob Dylan, Like A Rolling Stone

read more…