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Coming Soon

Honesty, Week 1

Naaman and Elisha's Servant, Gehazi

2 Kings 5

When you're not truthful, you lost trust.

Israel and Aram were enemies. Soldiers from Aram even captured Israelites and brought them back to Aram to work. One of these was a young girl who became a servant in the home of Aram’s great army commander, Naaman.

Though Naaman was wealthy, he had a problem no amount of money could solve: a terrible skin disease called leprosy. The servant girl from Israel bravely offered a suggestion. “Naaman should go and see the prophet in Samaria,” she said.

The servant girl knew all about the prophet, Elisha, who shared the words of God with the people of Israel. And Naaman listened to the girl! But instead of going straight to Elisha, he took rich gifts to the king of Israel first, along with a letter from the king of Aram.

The king of Israel frowned as he read the letter: “I’m sending my servant Naaman to you with this letter. I want you to heal him of his skin disease.” The king’s face paled. “What?” he cried. “I’m not God! Your king is trying to start something with me.”

The king of Israel made such a fuss that the prophet Elisha heard the news and sent a messenger. It may have been his trusted servant, Gehazi.

“Elijah says, ‘Tell this man Naaman to come to me!’” Gehazi relayed to the king.

Then Gehazi raced back home to help Elisha prepare for an important visitor. Sure enough, the king of Israel sent Naaman straight to their doorstep.

Gehazi peeked out the window. “Just look how low the chariot is riding!” he exclaimed. “What’s that in the back? Embroidered robes . . . silver . . . enough gold to pave all the streets of Jerusalem . . . ”

“Gehazi!” warned Elisha.

“Hurry,” Gehazi chided. “You’ll want to put on your best robe to meet this man!” “Nope,” responded Elisha.

“You’re not wearing the robe?” Gehazi asked.

“I’m not going out,” Elisha replied. “You are.”

“But,” sputtered Gehazi, “my robe. It’s old. It’s not even a name brand!”

Despite Gehazi’s protests, Elisha sent him out the door with a message for Naaman. Flustered, Gehazi shuffled out to meet Naaman.

“Are you the prophet?” Naaman demanded.

“Uh, no,” Gehazi confessed. “But let me just say, that is one excellent chariot. I see you got the golden hubcap upgrade!”

“Where’s Elisha?” Naaman asked.

Gehazi cleared his throat. “Um, he says, ‘Go! Wash yourself in the Jordan River seven times. Then your skin will be healed. You will be pure and ‘clean’ again.’”

Naaman frowned. “I thought Elisha would come out himself and say the proper words and wave his hand and I’d be healed, just like that! But swim in the Jordan River?! It’s just like any other river. What’s so special about it? Forget it.”

Naaman tore off, angry. But his servants convinced him to follow Elisha’s instructions anyway.

He dipped seven times in the cool waters of the Jordan River. When he rose from the water the seventh time, his skin was perfectly clean. He was healed!

“Unbelievable!” he said in wonder.

Naaman raced back to Elisha’s home. This time the prophet came outside, along with Gehazi.

Naaman marveled at his unmarked arms and hands. “Now I know that there is no God anywhere . . . except in Israel!” he exclaimed. “Please take a gift from me.”

Gehazi inched closer to the chariot. He could see the richly-colored robes and tunics stacked over bags of gold and silver. He imagined draping one of the heavy robes around his own shoulders.

But before Gehazi could speak, Elisha responded sharply. “No! I serve the Lord. You can be sure that he lives. And you can be just as sure that I won’t accept a gift from you.”

“Please,” said Naaman. “I’m begging you.”

Still, Elisha refused to take a single gold coin, and sent Naaman away in peace. The prophet went back inside his house, leaving Gehazi speechless on the doorstep.

“Seriously?!” wailed Gehazi. He could still see the dust kicked up by the horses’ hoofs. “Elisha should have taken something!” he complained. “If he didn’t want it, he could have given it to me . . .”

With that, Gehazi took off running down the road. His arms pumped and his sandals flapped, and his off-brand robe streamed out behind him as he crested the hill and raced up beside the chariot.

Naaman pulled to a halt. “Is everything all right?” he asked.

Gehazi leaned over, panting, trying to choose just the right words. “My master sent me to say that two young prophets have come to visit. Please give them 75 pounds of silver and two sets of clothes.”

“Of course. Of course!” said Naaman. “Take twice as much.”

Naaman’s servants carried the heavy bags of silver and clothing back up the road, but as they approached Elisha’s house, Gehazi stopped them.

“Hey! Thanks! I got it from here!” he said.

Then straining beneath the weight of his load, Gehazi snuck inside and stashed the silver and clothes in his own room. He hurried back out and strolled inside through the front door, whistling.

Elisha studied him with sharp eyes. “Where have you been?” he asked. “Who, me? I didn’t go anywhere,” said Gehazi.

“Didn’t my spirit go with you?” asked Elisha. “I know Naaman greeted you. I know you took money and clothes.”

“I was just being nice to the horses,” protested Gehazi. “Making their load lighter.”

Elisha studied Gehazi, sorrow in his eyes. “You and your family after you will forever have the same skin disease that Naaman had,” he said.

“But that won’t match my new robes!” Gehazi moaned.

Sure enough, Gehazi’s skin was soon covered with sores, just as Naaman’s had been. His lie had won him some new clothes, but it had cost him Elisha’s trust—and a full and healthy life.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++

Has anyone ever lied to you?

Share with each other how it felt. It hurts when someone doesn’t tell you the truth. And what’s more, you start to wonder whether they’ll do it again. It’s hard to trust that person, especially if they’ve lied or hidden the truth more than once. That’s why it’s so important for you to be honest, too! If you aren’t truthful with your parents, it’s tough for them to trust you with privileges—like screen time or a later bedtime. If you aren’t truthful with your boss, you’re probably not getting a raise. Are there specific times when you’re tempted to be untruthful? Pray for each other that you would have the courage to always tell the truth and that you’d be trustworthy in all situations.

Coming Soon

Honesty, Week 2

David and Ahimelek

1 Samuel 21-22

When you're not truthful, you hurt others.

Though David had been chosen by God to be the next ruler of Israel, Saul was still king. Saul was jealous of David’s popularity and victories in battle. In fact, he feared David so much that he tried to kill him!

David escaped from Saul with the help of the king’s son, Jonathan. Now David was alone and on the run. He had no food and no way to defend himself when he arrived in Nob, the place where God’s Tabernacle stood.

David went immediately to the high priest, Ahimelek.

“Why are you alone?” asked Ahimelek. He searched the road behind David, afraid that Israel’s enemies might be chasing close behind.

“Weeeeeell,” David hedged. He knew if he revealed the truth—that King Saul was trying to kill him—the priest would have to send him away empty-handed.

“It’s like this,” David said at last. “Um, the king gave me a secret mission. I can’t tell anyone.

Ahimelek’s face cleared. “Oh! I see.”

“I’ve told my men to meet me nearby,” said David. “And I’m . . . I mean, we are starving. Do you have any food for us? Maybe, oh, five loaves of bread?”

“No,” Ahimelek said, shaking his head. “The only food I have is holy bread. Set aside for God.”

“We have all kept ourselves holy,” David declared, “so you can give it to us.” “Okay,” Ahimelek agreed. “You can have it.”

The priest took the bread that had been offered to God and gave it to David, who tore into it.

Ahimelek wasn’t the only one to notice David’s arrival. The priest’s son, Abiathar, polished candlesticks just outside the tent. And a huge man named Doeg sat nearby, picking bits of roast lamb out of his teeth with a splinter of wood.

Doeg was King Saul’s chief shepherd, sent to stay at the Tabernacle for a time. He watched David with narrowed eyes and murmured to himself, “Well, well, well. . . ”

David finished a portion of the bread and scanned the horizon. Then he turned back to Ahimelech. “I don’t suppose you have a sword or a spear here?” he wondered.

“You don’t have your own weapon?” Ahimelek asked in surprise.

“There was no time,” David said quickly. “I had to start my, uh, secret mission for the king right away.”

“The sword of Goliath is here,” Ahimelek told him. “The Philistine you killed. If you want it, take it.”

When the high priest gave him the heavy sword, David slashed it through the air so it glinted in the sunlight. “There’s no sword like it,” he exclaimed. “It’s perfect for my . . . secret mission.”

None of them noticed Doeg, who was still watching. He crossed his arms and smirked as he said to himself, “King Saul’s gonna be none too happy about this.”

David set out from Nob with food and a mighty weapon. But there was no secret mission, and he was still on the run. He tried to find protection in the nearby region of Gath, and then hid out in a cave and later in the forest. Over time, members of his family came to join him. So did other men who were unhappy or in trouble with the king.

Soon, David was leading a band of four hundred men!

Saul was sitting high on a hill beneath a lone tree when he heard the news. He turned to his officials with a snarl. “Have all of you joined together against me?” he thundered. “You think David is going to give you land and make you commanders in the army? No one cares about me. No one even tells me when my own son helps David escape. Now David’s hiding out until he can attack me. Inconceivable!”

As Saul paused for breath, a heavy man stepped forward: Doeg, the head shepherd who had been at the Tabernacle.

“I saw David talking to Ahimelek in Nob,” he offered.

“The high priest?!” Saul exclaimed.

“Yeah, he gave David food and the sword of Goliath,” Doeg said. “Inconceivable!” roared Saul. “Bring me Ahimelek and all the priests at Nob!”

The high priest and his family came before King Saul. “Are you and David in cahoots against me?” demanded the king.

Ahimelek trembled. He had only tried to be helpful, as David had promised he was on a secret mission for the king. “No. No!” Ahimelek promised. “David is faithful to you.”

“Did you give him something to eat and a weapon?” Saul asked, glaring. “He’s hiding out waiting to attack me right now!”

“David’s more faithful to you than anyone!” protested Ahimelek. “I don’t have any idea what’s going on. Just leave me out of this.”

“Inconceivable!” growled Saul. “Do away with this man. With all of them!”

Saul’s official stared in shock. “Kill these priests of the Lord?!” one asked, unable to believe his ears.

“They knew David was on the run,” snarled Saul, “and they didn’t tell me!”

Saul’s officials refused to harm the priests, so the king turned to someone he knew would take action. “Doeg, you do it!” he ordered the beefy man.

“Yes, your majesty,” agreed Doeg, without hesitation.

That day, Doeg did a terrible thing. He killed all the priests, just as the king had commanded.

Only one man escaped—Ahimelek’s son Abiathar. He fled to the countryside to find David.

“Saul has killed all the priests,” he cried. “Because we helped you.”

David’s knuckles tightened on his sword. “This is all my fault,” he confessed. “Stay here with me and I’ll keep you safe.”

David sank down on a nearby stone. He could feel the weight of his secret mission lie pressing down on him—a lie that had cost dozens of people their lives.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++

Think of something you might be tempted to lie about, and share it with each other.

If you told that lie, what might happen? Think of all the possibilities. The truth is, a lie doesn’t just affect you; it affects the people around you, too. You lie that you didn’t sneak the last cookie—and your sister gets punished instead. You tell your parents you brushed your teeth when you didn’t—and you end up with expensive cavities that your parents have to pay to get filled. (Not exactly fun for you, either!) It also hurts others just to know you didn’t care enough about them to be truthful. That’s why being honest with others is super important! Pray for each other, that you would keep your relationships strong by telling the truth, even when you’re tempted to be dishonest.

Coming Soon

Honesty, Week 3

Haman's Plot Against the Jews

Esther 3; 4:8b; 5:6-10; 6:6-11; 7:1-6, 9b-10

When you lie to help yourself, you hurt yourself instead.

King Xerxes was the most powerful man in all of Persia. His commands were the law of the land.

Soon after Xerxes became king, he threw a party for all his most important officials, with merriment and food for all. It was one wild festival—until the king gave an order for his queen, Vashti, to appear before him. And Vashti refused!

Xerxes was so angry that he banished Vashti and chose a new queen—a young girl named Esther. Though he didn’t know it, Esther and her cousin Mordecai were Jews. Like many of God’s people, they had been captured and forced to leave their homes and live in a new land.

“Don’t tell anyone about your family or where you come from,” Mordecai warned Esther, hoping to keep her safe.

Just as Xerxes had chosen a new queen on a whim, he liked to move his officials around as if they were chess pieces. One day, he promoted a man named Haman to second-in-command of the entire kingdom.

“Yeah, I’m a pretty big deal,” Haman agreed, smirking.

“Everyone must get down on their knees before Haman!” ordered King Xerxes. “You hear that?” gloated Haman. “Get down before me, you dogs!”

Everyone obeyed and bowed to Haman. Everyone, that is, except Mordecai, who often sat at the palace gate.

“Make him bow!” whined Haman.

The royal officials tried to make Mordecai obey the king’s command, but still, Mordecai refused to bow down.

“No fair!” complained Haman.

“He is a Jew, you know,” said one of the other officials. “They’re not like us.”

“A Jew, huh?” asked Haman, considering. He quickly snapped out of his tantrum and sat down to hatch a terrible plot. Then he went before the king.

“Your majesty,” he began, “there are certain people living here in your kingdom. Foreigners. They’re different from us. They do strange things.”

“Strange?” demanded the king. “Like what?”

Haman didn’t really have a good answer. But that didn’t stop him from twisting one anyway. “Weeeell,” he said at last. “They don’t obey your laws! That’s it. So you shouldn’t put up with them.”

“I shouldn’t put up with them!” agreed the king.

“Send out an order that these Jews should all be destroyed on a certain day,” suggested Haman.

“I’ll do it!” decided the king. He sent the command throughout the land, with no idea that his own queen, Esther, was also a Jew.

When Esther received the news of Haman’s new law from Mordecai, she faced a difficult choice. No one was allowed to see the king uninvited. But risking her life, she stepped into the throne room anyway!

The king held out his scepter to show that she wouldn’t be punished. “What do you want, Queen Esther?” he asked. “I’ll give you anything.”

Esther knew she would have a better chance convincing the king in private, so she said, “I’m preparing a special feast today. Please come. And bring Haman.”

When the king and Haman attended Esther’s special feast, though, she didn’t ask for the king’s help yet. Instead, she invited both men to return the next day for another feast.

Haman left the festive meal in good spirits. “Well, well. Dinner with the queen two days in a row!” he said. “Guess I’m really a big deal.”

But as Haman passed through the palace gate, he saw Mordecai sitting there. And as usual, Mordecai refused to stand. “Ooo. That just burns me up!” grumbled Haman.

He couldn’t get it out of his mind, even as he bragged about all his honors to his family and friends. “I’m rich. I’m the queen’s favorite. I’m a super big deal,” he pointed out. “But I just can’t enjoy how awesome I am while that Jew, Mordecai, is around!”

“Then get rid of him,” suggested a friend. “Aha! I’ll get rid of him!” agreed Haman.

But while Haman made plans to kill Mordecai, Xerxes had just discovered something amazing. Years earlier, Mordecai had stopped a plot to kill the king! When Haman arrived at the palace the next morning, the king immediately asked for his help.

“What should be done for the man I want to honor?” demanded King Xerxes.

Haman was certain that Xerxes wanted to honor him! So he said, “Put a royal robe on this man and have him ride through the streets on your horse. And have someone announce: ‘This is what is done for the man the king wants to honor!’”

The king beamed. “Excellent!” he said. “Go do it all for Mordecai.”

Haman couldn’t believe his ears. “For Mordecai?!” he shrieked. Humiliated, Haman was forced to lead the man he’d plan to kill through the streets on the king’s horse, shouting out, “This is what is done for the man the king wants to honor!”

Haman stalked home afterward to complain to his family and friends. But he still had one triumph to gloat over: that evening he would dine again with the queen. A royal official soon arrived at his door and announced, “Come with us, sir. The feast is ready!”

At dinner, the king asked Esther once again: “What do you want? I’ll give you anything.”

“Your Majesty, please let me and my people live,” begged Esther. “Someone is trying to destroy us!”

“Who has dared to do this?!” thundered King Xerxes.

Esther turned her gaze directly on Haman. “This man. Haman!” she cried out. The king leapt to his feet, face blazing with anger, as Haman shrank back.

“Unbelievable!” he roared.

One of the king’s officials stepped forward. “Your Majesty, it just so happens that Haman was trying to kill Mordecai,” the man pointed out. “He has everything ready.”

“Well, kill Haman instead!” ordered the king.

That day, Haman was put to death. He had used lies to take revenge, but his dishonest words and actions cost him his life. And through the brave actions of Esther and Mordecai, God’s people, the Jews, were saved.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Say the neighbor is going to pay you to watch her dogs while she’s out of town, and asks whether you’ve ever taken care of big dogs, like hers.

You haven’t done it before. What happens if you lie, just to make sure you get the job? List everything you can think of that might happen.

Well, you probably get the job. Great, right? But since you haven’t walked a really big dog before, the dog pulls you over when it sees a squirrel and you sprain an ankle. Or the dog gets away and digs in another neighbor’s flowerbeds. Or maybe you do fine, but the neighbor finds out you lied and decides not to hire you again. Or no one finds out, but you know you broke your neighbor’s trust and you walk around with a knot of guilt inside that you can’t seem to get rid of.

Whatever happens, truth is that a lie you tell to help yourself, will end up hurting you. It’s just not worth it. Pray for each other, that God will help you be truthful with Him and with others in all circumstances.

Coming Soon

Honesty, Week 4

Confession/Being Honest with God

1 John 1:9

Being truthful with God helps keep you close to Him.

Max was super excited about his first sleepover at his friend Jonah’s house. The boys high-fived when Max’s mom dropped him off.

“I brought my Star Troopers sleeping bag and a whole bag of Twizzlers!” Max announced.

“Dad’s gonna order pizza for us!” Jonah said.

“We can watch Star Troopers,” suggested Max.

“Or there’s this cool movie my dad likes called Goonies,” Jonah added. “But we should wait for Randall.”

“Hold it,” Max said, caught off guard. “Randall’s coming?” Max didn’t know Randall very well. He was a friend of Jonah’s on the traveling soccer team.

“He’s totally cool,” Jonah said. “You’ll like him.”

When Randall arrived, Max hung back. Randall was a lot taller than both of them, and a year older.

“C’mon guys,” Randall scoffed when Jonah mentioned the movie. “We’ve all seen Star Troopers like a million times. Let’s watch something better.”

Max didn’t think there was anything better than Star Troopers. But Jonah jumped right in: “We could go get a new movie at the Blue Box.”

Randall grinned. “Yeah, well, my older brother already bought Dragon Island. It’s totally lit. I’ve got it right here.” He whipped out a Blu-ray case. On the front, a fiery dragon slashed through a crowd with its barbed tail.

“Cool!” Jonah exclaimed, taking a closer look. “I wanted to see that in the theatre, but Dad said to wait for DVD cause it’s a little intense.”

Max swallowed hard as he glanced at the rating on the case. “Is that . . . PG-13?” he asked. Randall shrugged. “It’s no big deal. The dragons just eat people and stuff.”

Max wasn’t allowed to watch a PG-13 movie unless his mom or dad checked it out first. But he didn’t want Randall to think he was just a little kid.

“We could watch that Goonies movie Jonah’s dad likes . . . ” Max offered, trying to think of a way around it.

Max could tell Jonah was about to agree, but Randall cut in first. “Dragon Island 2 comes out next month. It’s not like you can watch that ‘til you’ve seen the first one,” he said, opening the Blu-ray player. “C’mon, kids.”

Randall tossed the shiny new disc into the player and grabbed the remote.

Jonah hopped onto the sofa and grabbed a pillow. “I bet Dad will let me see the new one in the theatre this time.”

Max fidgeted. “Guys . . .” he began.

“Get ready for a wild ride!” Randall said, and shot a side glance at Max. “Unless you want to go play Candy Land® or something.”

“What?” Max reddened. “No! This is totally, uh . . . lit.”

From the first moment a dragon came roaring across the screen, Max could feel his fingernails digging into his leg. It wasn’t that he couldn’t take a little action, but the dragon attacks seemed to end in a lot of blood. The violent images burned themselves into Max’s head and didn’t leave, even when the movie ended.

“I’ve heard the effects are gonna be even better for the sequel!” enthused Randall.

Jonah shook his head. “Who’d be dumb enough to go back to that island?”

The boys unrolled their sleeping bags and turned out the lights. But while Randall and Jonah seemed to drop off to sleep right away, Max lay awake. The glowing buttons on the media system looked like eyes. And when Max heard thumping and scraping on the stairs, his heart raced, even when he realized it was Jonah’s dog.

Max knew just what his mom would say: “You can talk to God about it, kiddo.”

But somehow, Max didn’t feel like praying. He couldn’t help thinking how he shouldn’t have been watching Dragon Island in the first place.

The next morning when his mom picked him up, Max couldn’t help rubbing his eyes

and yawning in the car.

“Did you kids sleep at all?” she asked. “Maybe you shouldn’t do sleepovers.

“No!” Max protested. “I mean, yes! I mean . . . we slept. It’s just . . . the floor was hard.”

“You sure everything’s okay?”

“Yeah,” Max lied. “Totally fine.”

Still, Max was jumpy the rest of the day.

“Can you go down into the basement and get some paper towels from the closet?” his mom asked him before lunch.

Max swallowed hard. “The basement? It’s dark down there . . .”

Later, while his mom was at the grocery store, Max’s dad needed to make a run to the home improvement store. “You can stay by yourself,” Dad offered. “I’ll just be gone half an hour.”

“No!” Max nearly shouted. “Don’t leave me . . . I mean,” he forced himself to say calmly, “I want to come.”

As evening arrived, and dusk crept in, images from the movie continued to haunt Max. At bedtime, his mom came in to check on him.

“Night, kiddo,” she said. “I’ll just turn the light out.” “No! Leave it on,” Max asked quickly.

Mom stared at him. “Max, what’s wrong?” “Nothing. I just have homework to finish.”

His mom didn’t look convinced, but she only said, “Fifteen minutes, okay? Then I want this light out.”

Max lay in bed, lights on, covers pulled up to his chin. He knew his fears weren’t real, but that didn’t stop him from imagining what might be waiting outside his window with hot, smoldering breath.

At last he found his voice. “Um . . . God?” His voice sounded croaky in the silence. “I know I shouldn’t have watched the movie. I know I should have told Mom and Dad about it. I’m really sorry.”

It was such a relief to say the words out loud, like a big rock in Max’s stomach was dissolving.

“Please take these pictures out of my head,” Max asked. “Please help me be able to sleep.”

Max took a deep breath and felt himself start to relax for the first time all day, just as the door opened again.

“Max?” his mom said. “Lights.”

“Hey, Mom? There’s something I need to tell you,” confessed Max.

Mom listened without interrupting as Max told the whole story. Then she offered to pray with him.

“You’re not mad?” Max asked.

“I’m not saying there won’t be consequences,” mom pointed out. “But I think you’ve already been pretty hard on yourself. I’m mostly just glad you chose to talk to God about it. And me. Think you can sleep now?”

“Yeah,” Max said. “But . . . can I get the night light from the bathroom?” “Sure thing,” she answered.

It still took Max awhile to fall asleep. But every time his thoughts strayed to scary images, he asked God to help him, knowing that God was right with him.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++

When you hide the truth or do something wrong and don’t tell anyone like Max did, it can actually make you feel sick.

Is there a time you remember feeling this way? Share with each other how you felt, or how you think you might feel if this happened. Here’s the thing: you can never actually hide the truth—God knows your heart and all of your words and actions. But when you don’t share these things with Him, you can feel far away from Him, even though He’s promised He is always with you. Choosing to tell God everything, even the wrong choices you’ve made, can draw you closer to God. Bringing everything into the light allows you to live without a heavy load of guilt and to ask for God’s help to make things right. Pray for each other, that you would both tell God everything, even when you’re tempted to hide.