Exodus 13:17–14:31 The Red Sea

 Originally written 9/9/2012

This week we jump in to the Red Sea.  We have been talking about the life of Moses, and ended last quarter with the Israelites being set free from slavery in Egypt.  This week we learn the point that “God helps us when we’re afraid.”

The Israelites are just like us, you know.  They were slaves to the Egyptians, and God brought them out of it. But even though they had just seen the ten plagues and the miraculous escape first hand, they were getting worried again.  Even though they had the physical cloud and fire that they could see every day, guiding them through the desert, they were worried again.  It looked like they were trapped!  The Red Sea on one side, the Egyptian army on the other.

We were slaves, to sin.  Jesus brought us out of it.  We have all seen amazing aspects of what God has done in our lives.  We may have even witnessed physical miracles.  But there always seems to come a time when our backs are against the wall.  The Egyptians are caving in on us. There doesn’t seem to be a way out of whatever mess we are in. And we cry out in terror.

From the Message: Exodus 14:12- “They were totally afraid. They cried out in terror to God. They told Moses, “Weren’t the cemeteries large enough in Egypt so that you had to take us out here in the wilderness to die? What have you done to us, taking us out of Egypt? Back in Egypt didn’t we tell you this would happen? Didn’t we tell you, ‘Leave us alone here in Egypt—we’re better off as slaves in Egypt than as corpses in the wilderness.'” 13 Moses spoke to the people: “Don’t be afraid. Stand firm and watch God do his work of salvation for you today. Take a good look at the Egyptians today for you’re never going to see them again.  14 God will fight the battle for you.  And you? You keep your mouths shut!”

God knew what he was doing through the whole experience.  Even when it looked like there was no hope, God had a plan through it all.  He wanted the Israelites to go through the dry Red Sea so that he could destroy the Egyptians a second later.  And much later, that became the cornerstone of the Israelite faith, the major miracle they looked back to.

So we learn that God had a plan.  He was going to take care of his Israelite people.  And we know God does not change.  He has a plan, and is going to take care of his people. Us. Me.

One of my favorite verses- Matthew 6:25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?…

Learning to have that faith, Growing that faith, that God will take care of us always- For me and many of you it started long ago when we were in Sunday School.  And my prayer is that for these kids you will be teaching this lesson to this Sunday, it will begin also. Blessings!


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Genesis 24:1-67 Isaac and Rebekah

 Originally written 6/10/2012

The focus this week is “We can seek God’s direction”- Based on Genesis 24:1-67, Isaac and Rebekah’s wedding story. Abraham is old, and does not want Isaac marrying a Canaanite woman.  So he sends his trusted servant out with lots of gifts, camels and extra servants, to Abraham’s old hometown.  In last week’s lesson, we learned when Abraham was given the ram, he called God “Jehovah Jireh”, which means “The LORD provides”.  I’m sure Abraham had taught his servant this.  Abraham knew the Lord would provide a wife for his son, and so did the servant. The servant is serious about his mission, he probably cares alot about Abraham and Isaac.  He wants to make the right choice for his master.  He gets to the town, to the well outside.  He prays that God will show him the woman he is supposed to meet. He prays that the right woman will come to the well for her daily water run, and offer to give him and his camels a drink.  This is a pretty big request.  We don’t usually think about it, but one camel will drink between 30-50 gallons of water at a time. And the servant didn’t just have one camel.  He had camels.  Probably a bunch, maybe ten!  So he is asking for a woman to pour 300-500 gallons of water into a trough, just so the camels can have a drink.  Can you imagine how much that much water weighs?!  It is an extraordinary request.  But God answers immediately.  The servant hadn’t even finished his prayer.  God was already at work!  Rebekah came to the well.  The servant spoke first.  He asked for a drink of water.  This request was a normal request for a traveling stranger.  She came over with her jar and volunteered to water his camels too. This was not a normal response!  And he didn’t have to even ask!  Long story short, Rebekah came back with the servant and married Isaac.  And he didn’t just marry her, he loved her!  The servant needed Godly wisdom and direction in finding a bride for Isaac.  He didn’t just go in and pick the prettiest woman on his own understanding.  He sought the Lord’s will first, before he even started looking.  God answered immediately.  This story goes right along with our Key Verse- James 1:5 “ If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. ” The servant needed wisdom picking out the woman, and God gave generously and quickly. Jehovah Jireh- The Lord provides.   Proverbs 3:5-6 says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.”  Ask God to give us what we need, for direction, for wisdom; He will provide. Such a hard thing to do all the time, but we see examples of this everywhere.  God providing at just the right time, at just the last minute, at the perfect moment.  I’ve personally experienced God’s provision even this week. I’m sure you all have too.  Ask God for direction.  Trust that he will make your paths straight.  Jehovah Jireh-God will provide.  Bonnie

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Genesis 22:1-18 Abraham and Isaac

 Originally written 6/3/2012

We are talking about Abraham and Isaac this week.  Genesis 22:1-18. Yes, we are jumping back to the Old Testament.  One thing I really like about this curriculum is that we will go through the entire Bible in a year.  It goes chronologically, and so we start at the beginning now, in the summer.  It also is on a 3 year track, so we cover different stories during those 3 years.  I am guessing in other years we will study creation and the flood and all that.

But we start with Abraham this time.  And it is an interesting story to start with.  How many times did Abraham obey God?  Alot.  (He also disobeyed God many times too, but we’ll not go into that…) And since we have a target audience of children, talking about sacrificing your child on an altar just doesn’t seem like the right story to go with!  But, this is the problem with prepackaged material.  And, the Bible isn’t always pretty.  So much more gore and horrific details are there too.   I think the curriculum lessons do a good job of leaving out the worst of the story.  It re-directs the children into seeing how God provided the ram.

However, I ponder why God asked Abraham to make such a sacrifice. I can’t even imagine this.  It makes me shudder.  I want to say that Abraham realized God was testing him. I want to say he never intended to go through with it… but the Bible says otherwise.  Abraham told Isaac “God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.”  I’m sure Abraham was praying the entire time that God would provide something else.

But he went through with it, and offered his child on the altar.  His only child, one whom was promised from early on.  God saw this, and at the last minute, at the right time, provided a ram to be sacrificed instead.

At the right time.  At the seemingly last minute.  God’s timing.

God did the same thing, a couple thousand years later.  He offered his own son on the cross for us.  And he did go through with it.  There was no ram in the bushes then.  What a sacrifice.

Abraham obeyed God, even when it didn’t make sense.  He obeyed even when it would cost everything.  Isaac was Abraham’s future.  His only son, when God had promised to make him the father of many nations.

We learn alot from this lesson.  God wants us.  He wants our obedience.  He may ask us to sacrifice something in our lives, but it is always for the good.  God has his own timing, and will come through for us.  God knew he was going to provide the ram.  He knew he was going to provide it at the last minute.  If he had provided the ram in the beginning, the trip up the mountain wouldn’t have been so difficult for Abraham, and it wouldn’t have taught him as much either.

I’m reminded of Romans 8:28- “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”  God worked for the good of Abraham and Isaac.  He called them to a higher purpose that day.  He required much, and they gave it.  (Notice Isaac didn’t struggle when Abraham bound him!)  They were obedient, and God worked it out for the good.

We all go through different struggles, different trials in our lives. Maybe we are being asked to sacrifice an activity, or financial security, or our lifestyles.  Maybe God asks us to do something that seems impossible.  He certainly asked Abraham to do so.  But he provided a way.  He worked it out for the good of Abraham and Isaac.   We have to hold on tight to the promise that he will work it out for us as well.  In all things God works for the good.  Because God is good.

Have a great week! -Bonnie

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Barnabas in Antioch- Acts 11:19-26

We continue through Acts this week, focusing on Acts 11: 19-26.  I struggled with this lesson a bit, because it is not really a story.   I find it kind of a report on what was happening with the early church. 

The early followers were pushed out of Jerusalem after the persecution of Stephen and others.  A lot of them ended up in Antioch, which was one of the biggest cities in the world at that time.  Many of the believers kept to themselves, encouraging other Jews to follow Christ.  But some reached out to the Greeks living there in the city.  This is interesting because even though we saw Peter called to minister to Cornelius, and Philip to the Ethiopian, on the majority, the believers at that time spread the gospel only to other Jews. 

Barnabas went up from Jerusalem to Antioch to visit these people.  He was sent to encourage them and help them as they established themselves in this new part of the world.  Once he saw how many had accepted the gospel, he went to get Saul (Paul) to help him work with these people. 

The early church met in homes, in family groups of 20-30 usually.  But even though there may have been many different groups in the city, they all considered themselves part of the same church.  And it was here in this city that the people changed their name.  Instead of being just followers or disciples, they became a new entity, Christians- “Like Christ”.  People were no longer Greek or Jewish.  They were all Christians.  They were unified. 

We see that God blessed this work.  He wanted the gospel spread to the entire world, not just kept to the Jewish community.  It was in God’s plan the whole time to have this news, His word, His love, shared throughout the entire world. 

Think of the people, what all they had been through.  I’m sure many of them had undergone trials, persecution.  But they didn’t give up just because of it.  They moved on and spread the gospel where they went.  God was with them the entire time.

Several things to think about from this passage:  How can we be like Barnabas?  How can we encourage other believers to keep on?   How can we be like those early followers, spreading the gospel wherever we are?

 On Sunday, John encouraged us to “bloom where we are planted”.  To do God’s work wherever we are in our lives.  That is exactly what the early Christians were doing. 

As you share this passage with the kids this Sunday, keep in mind that God loves these little ones.  He will use whomever, however he wants to.  He can use even these little ones to spread the gospel! The work Barnabas and Saul did with these people in Antioch is just like what you are doing with these kids at Stones River.  You are teaching them, encouraging them, and loving them.  You are helping them GROW to be like Christ.

Which is exactly the point.

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Peter and Cornelius obey (Acts 10)

Ok, so this week we are talking about Peter and Cornelius found in Acts 10.   Cornelius, who is a high up official in the Roman army, is also a good person.  Even though he is not Jewish, he believes in God, and helps others.  He prays to God, and wants to do right.  God answers his prayer, and speaks to him in a vision.  God tells Cornelius to go looking for Peter, tells him where to find him.  Cornelius doesn’t question this vision.  Instead he immediately sent his trusted men to find Peter.

Meanwhile, Peter had a vision of his own.  God spoke to him telling him it was ok to eat anything that previously was considered unclean.  Peter, being Peter, argues back with the vision, saying he won’t eat anything impure.  He wants to follow the law!  Peter is rebuked, “Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.” (vs 15)  At the same time he is on the roof seeing this vision, the men from Cornelius are knocking at his door.  Peter goes downstairs, and goes with them.

The end result is awesome.  Peter listens to his vision from God.  Previously, it would have been considered against the Jewish law to enter a Gentile’s house.  They eat the things considered impure.  But Peter obeyed God.  He understood that God wanted the gospel shared with this household.  Cornelius and all his family were baptized that day!

Several things can be taken from this story.  First, how awesome is our God!  He worked on Cornelius’ heart to be open to Him.  He worked on Peter’s heart to be obedient to him.  God prepared Peter to go to Cornelius’ house. To be ready to give up his preconceived beliefs on who he should share the gospel with. God worked on both men to prepare a way for the gospel to be shared.   When God has a purpose in mind, He achieves it. 

Secondly, both men obeyed.  They both were given a “strange” vision.  Both could have dismissed them easily.  But they listened to the vision, to God speaking to them, and they obeyed without delay, even if what they were called to do went against what they were previously accustomed to.

I’ve been reading Miraculous Movements by Jerry Trousdale (John King’s friend).  What is amazing is that God is still doing this very thing today.  Calling two people out that would never meet, that might have preconceived beliefs keeping them apart.  There are many stories in the book where even today people are coming to Christ because they obeyed their visions.  They obeyed God speaking to them.

God is still at work today.  He is calling every one of us to be ready to spread the gospel to whoever is ready to listen, even if it goes against the norm.  For example, you gave up the belief you had to hear every sermon every week.  It isn’t   comfortable to every week teach little ones, especially when there may only be one or two in your class.  But you are making a huge impact on them.  You are telling these kids through your actions that you care about them.  That God cares about them.  Thank you.

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Grow pictures-Baby class

Grow pictures-Baby class

Sarah and Ashleigh teaching the baby class.


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Grow pictures- 2 and 3 year old class

grow pictures

Missy teaching 2 and 3 year olds.

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