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Obedience, Week 1

What is the Bible?

Psalm 119:105

When you learn about God, it's easier to follow Him.

Your word is like a lamp that shows me the way. It is like a light that guides me.

Note to Parents: Today’s story needs a visual! Please have a print Bible or Bible app ready so you and your child can explore the different parts of the Bible as you read. If you aren’t familiar with the Bible yourself, don’t worry. Just use the table of contents or app navigation to find the sections and books mentioned.

Whether you turn the pages or read it through an app, the Bible is a library of 66 different books that fit together to form God’s One Big Story. And just like in any library, those books are different.

In the Bible, you’ll find stories of adventure about men and women like Moses, Joshua, Ruth, and David.

You’ll discover words of wisdom like these in Proverbs 3: Trust in the Lord with all your heart. Do not depend on your own understanding. In all your ways obey him. Then he will make your paths smooth and straight.

Some of those wise words are even pretty funny, like this verse from Proverbs 26: Foolish people who do the same foolish things again are like a dog that returns to where it has thrown up.

In the Bible, you’ll find letters of encouragement, written down with quill on parchment, long before texts and email. In First Corinthians, the apostle Paul tells us, Follow my example, just as I follow the example of Christ.

You’ll even discover poems and songs in these pages.

The words of the Bible were written down by people who met God—and were changed forever because of it. These authors were everything from kings and prophets to teachers and fishermen.

Though each book and each author is different, every word is inspired by God. These books fit together like the pieces of a puzzle to reveal a grand picture:

God’s One Big Story.

The whole Bible tells the story of how God made us and loves us so much that He made a way to rescue us, even when we turned our backs on Him.

Take a look at the table of contents in your Bible or on your app. The Story starts with the 39 books of the Old Testament. In the beginning, there’s nothing. No one. No breath, no being, no light.

Nothing . . . but God.

But here, in Genesis, God creates the entire universe. He spins it out into space. He makes human beings. He gives them freedom to live and love and grow.

But they turn away. They disobey. They reject God. The world is broken.

Even as people leave God, though, He never leaves them. From the beginning, He’s had a plan to bring them home.

He starts by choosing a man we know as Abraham. God promises to make a great nation from Abraham’s family. A nation of God’s people.

The rest of the Old Testament tells the story of Abraham’s family, the Israelites. How over and over, they turn away from God. And how over and over, He rescues them from captivity.

God even sends prophets who speak His words, like bright points of light in the darkness. They tell of a Savior who will rescue not just the Israelites, but the whole world. The prophet Isaiah says:

A child will be born to us.

A son will be given to us.

He will rule over us….

His rule will be based on what is fair and right. It will last forever.

It’s an incredible promise. But scroll down to the last book in the Old Testament: Malachi. After the words that Malachi recorded, there’s a big gap. For hundreds of years, we don’t have a single recorded word from God.

It’s a dark time. Some of God’s people think He has abandoned them.

But then, in a blaze of light, God sends an angel to an ordinary teenager named Mary. He tells her, “You will become pregnant and give birth to a son. You must call him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High God.”

Take a look at the second part of the Bible now, starting with Matthew. The 27 books of the New Testament tell the story of Jesus and His followers. In Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, we see Jesus’ birth, and how He becomes a Kid who grows in wisdom, faith, and friendship.

We see Jesus as a young Man, who teaches and heals and shows God’s overwhelming, amazing love to every single person He meets—and who is then killed by the religious leaders.

And we see how, from this dark, dark time, God raises Jesus back to life.

It’s the single most important moment in history. Jesus has defeated death. And through the rest of the New Testament, His followers spread the news, no matter what it costs them.

The final book of the Bible, Revelation, tells what the end of the Story will be like, when God makes everything right again . . . forever.

But here’s the most amazing part of the Bible: You’re in it.

You, me, all of us.

We are living between the early church and the time when Jesus will return and make everything right.

Right here, right now, we can follow Jesus and share His story as we love God, and love others.

It’s a huge job! But God didn’t leave us to do it alone. He gives everyone who follows Jesus the power of His Holy Spirit. As you read God’s words, He will help you understand and give you the power to obey. The book of Psalms tells us:

Your word is like a lamp that shows me the way. It is like a light that guides me.

The more you dig into the Bible, the more you discover Who God is— and how you can follow Him in all you say and do.

Because the Bible is God’s One Big Story. And it will always point you back to Him.

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What do you think that it means to be a part of God’s Story?

Take a minute and share with each other. The Bible is God’s gift to us. It comes from God, it’s about God, and it’s through God and the power of His Holy Spirit that we understand it. Brainstorm some ways that you could spend more time discovering God through His Word, whether it’s through reading Bible stories out loud, memorizing verses, drawing pictures of your favorite stories, or any other means you can think of. Pray for each other, that God will give you a love for His Word, and show you what it means to follow Him and be a part of His Story.

Coming Soon

Obedience, Week 2

The Fall

Genesis 3:1-24

Trust and obey, even when you think your way is better.

In the beginning . . . before the beginning, there was nothing.

Nothing . . . but God.

No sight.
No sound.
No touch.

Then, God spoke, and light exploded across the darkness! At the sound of His voice, waters tumbled and the sky stretched out wide. He called plants and fish and animals to life with a few words. And God saw that it was good.

Then God got down in the mud. He shaped the dirt into a person and breathed life into his lungs. God looked at that very first man, Adam, and said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper who is just right for him.”

So God took one of Adam’s ribs and formed the first woman: Eve. God looked at the people He created and saw that they were very good!

Adam and Eve set off into their new home—a beautiful garden filled with swift, flowing rivers, amazing plants, and tasty things to eat.

“I wonder what this is like inside . . .” Adam wondered, tapping a huge, green oval he picked off the vine. “Sounds a bit hollow . . .” he added, and dropped it against a rock. It splattered.

“Bright red!” Eve exclaimed. “What a mess.”

Adam tasted a bit. “So good!” he said. “Try some!”

Eve took a juicy bite, too. “Mmm . . . I’d say that is . . . watermelon!” she decided.

God allowed Adam and Eve to go anywhere and do anything they wanted. There was only one rule to keep them safe, and God had given it to Adam: “You may eat fruit from any tree in the garden,” God said. “But you must not eat the fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. If you do, you will certainly die.”

Adam stared up at the tall tree in the center of the garden. Its beautiful, ripe fruit seemed to glow in the sunlight. “I wonder what it’s like inside,” he murmured. “But I don’t want to, um, what’s that thing You said? Die.”

Adam and Eve loved their new home, swimming in the river and feeding bits of honey cakes to the birds. There was nothing at all they needed.

Except dessert, of course.

“Let’s go pick some dates,” Eve suggested.

But on their way to the date palm trees, Adam and Eve passed right by the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. The beautiful fruit swayed gently in the evening breeze, when suddenly, they heard a hissing sound and both jumped back.

A vivid green serpent was coiled along the branch, hovering over a fruit! “Ssuch a ssweet desssert!” it crooned.

“Oh, no,” protested Eve. “I’m just looking. God said we can’t eat this fruit. If we even touch it, we’ll—what’s that thing?—we’ll die!”

“Cccertainly not ssoo!” the serpent exclaimed. “God knowss if you ssample thiss fruit you’ll know new thingsss. Jusst like God.”

The fruit looked so inviting, Eve couldn’t help reaching out her hand again. She almost touched it. “You mean . . . it would make me ssmart, I mean smart?”

“Wissse,” explained the serpent. “Like God.”

Eve turned to Adam. “Well . . . that would be a good thing, right?” she pointed out.

Adam’s eyes were fixed on the juicy fruit, too. “Seems like it,” he agreed. “And I’m really curious what’s inside . . .”

“What if God is just keeping us from something good?” Eve asked.

“You’re missssing out,” encouraged the serpent.

Eve grasped the fruit, and it dropped right into her hand. She took a big, juicy bite. “What’s it like?” Adam asked. “Do you feel different? Do you think that—” “Here,” said Eve, and handed the fruit to Adam. He took a bite, too.

He frowned. “It’s really, it’s, um . . . oh.”

Adam and Eve hardly even noticed what the fruit was like, because suddenly, new and terrible thoughts and feelings flooded over them. For the first time ever, they knew what it was like to feel guilty and ashamed. And for the first time ever, they realized something else.

Eve glanced down at herself. “Adam, we didn’t . . . we’re not . . . We should cover ourselves up!” she exclaimed.

“With what?”

Eve glanced around. “Leaves! We’ll use leaves.”

Adam and Eve pieced together leaves from a fig tree to cover themselves. But before they even finished, they heard a rustling and swaying in the garden.

“It’s Him,” gasped Eve. “It’s God!”

“Quick. Hide,” Adam ordered.

Adam and Eve ducked behind the largest fig tree. In moments, they heard God’s voice: “Where are you?”

Adam didn’t say a word. Eve jabbed him in the ribs with her elbow. “Say something!” she hissed. “You were the one who wanted to hide!”

Adam glared, but spoke up anyway. “I heard you . . . I was afraid, because I [wasn’t wearing clothes]. So I hid.”

“Who said you weren’t wearing anything?” asked God. “Have you eaten fruit from the tree I commanded you not to eat from?”

“I, um . . . You see, it’s not my fault!” Adam protested. “It’s that woman You put here. She gave me the fruit!”

Eve jabbed Adam in the side again. “Eve, what have you done?” God asked.

“It’s not my fault,” cried Eve. “The serpent tricked me!”

God’s heart was saddened. Adam and Eve had chosen to listen to the serpent’s voice instead of trusting Him. They had broken His only rule, one meant to keep them safe. Though God still loved them, Adam and Eve had shattered their perfect friendship with Him.

“You must leave the garden,” God told them. “From now on, you will work hard for your food and face great pain. Someday, you will die and become like the dust you were made from.”

Adam and Eve had chosen their own path instead of obeying God. Sin entered into the world—and their own hearts. Now they had to struggle in the heat and dust to grow the food that had come so easily in the garden.

Because of Adam and Eve’s choice, sin was passed on to every single person who was born after them. Sin spread through their children’s children and grandchildren until people’s hearts everywhere were filled with ugliness— evil thoughts and pleasing themselves—instead of loving and obeying God.

And only a miracle from God could change His people on the inside.

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Who do you obey?

As a kid, it may feel like people are telling you what to do all the time: parents, teachers, coaches. But even adults have to obey sometimes, too—a boss at work, law enforcement officers, and ultimately, God! It can be tough to do what you’re asked—especially when you think you’ve got a better way to handle the situation. But truth is, we often don’t see the big picture, just like Adam and Eve. God gave them that one rule to keep them safe, and He places parents and leaders in charge to keep us safe, too. Kids, tell your parents a time or situation when you have a hard time obeying. Parents, if you can, share the big picture why it’s so important for your child to obey in that situation. Pray for each other, that you will have the strength to obey the people who God has put in charge in your lives.

Coming Soon

Obedience, Week 3

Noah

Genesis 6-8

Trust and obey even when others don't.

After Adam and Eve were sent away from the Garden of Eden, some people still listened to God. But as time went on, more and more people started thinking they didn’t need God at all.

Pretty soon, it seemed no one loved God at all. The whole world was broken, and it made God sad to see the people He created running so far from Him. But there was still one man who listened to God and obeyed everything

He said: Noah. He was the kind of guy who might have helped up out his neighbors. It might have looked something like this.

“Shem, Japheth!” Noah called to his sons. “Get on down to Old Lady Rapscallion’s vineyard. We’re gonna pick those grapes for her since she doesn’t have enough help.”

“On it, Dad,” said Shem.

“Ditto,” added Japheth.

Noah called out to his younger son, “Ham, you gonna join us?”

“Didn’t Old Lady Rapscallion take our best camel and tell everyone it’s hers?” grumbled Ham.

“She sure did,” agreed Noah.

“Left us with the Zeke, the most stubborn camel on Earth,” noted Ham.

Zeke, the most stubborn camel on Earth, coughed loudly and spit on them both.

“She sure did,” said Noah, as he wiped off the spit. “Well, what are you waiting for? If someone needs help, we help.”

Later, after they finished with their neighbor’s grapes, Noah stayed out late to pick grapes in his own vineyard. He loaded the heavy baskets onto Zeke’s back, who spit at him once again.

Noah sighed and wiped the spit off his face. “Thank You, God, that we’ve got a camel. Even Zeke. And thanks for blessing us with such a good crop.”

“Noah,” a voice called out.

Noah jumped. He turned, searching for the source of the voice. There was no one. At last, in awe, Noah asked, “. . . God? Is that You?”

“Noah, the earth is broken,” God told him. “No one seeks Me or does what is right. I’m going to send great floodwaters to destroy everything. I want you to build an ark.”

Noah frowned, trying to understand. “An ‘ark’. . .?”

“It’s a huge boat,” God told him. “Build it 450 feet long, 75 feet wide, and 45 feet high. Use cypress wood.”

As quickly as he could, Noah laid out blueprints using pieces of grapevine. A boat that size would be longer than a football field!

“When it’s finished,” God continued, “you will go inside with all your family.”

Noah counted in his head. “The boys, their wives, me and the wife . . . that’s eight.”

“And two of every animal on Earth,” God added.

Noah staggered, bumping into Zeke. The camel spit in his face again. “Even the cobras and wasps?!” gasped Noah.

“Every kind of animal,” God confirmed. “And you’ll need to gather enough food for your family and all the animals to eat. Everything on Earth will be destroyed, but I promise to save you and your family.”

Obeying God would take more work than Noah could imagine. It would take years. Maybe the rest of his life! And Noah knew his neighbors wouldn’t help. But Noah loved God, so he took a deep, deep breath.

“Okay, God!” he agreed.

Noah turned to go in search of his sons, and perhaps he found some of his neighbors watching from across the fence, doubled over laughing.

“God?” they mocked. “Noah’s battier than Old Lady Rapscallion. His camel’s got more sense than he does!”

But even though no one else was listening to God, Noah and his sons got

to work on the ark. Construction took a long time. Many, many long years! Noah’s neighbors continued to make fun of him. But Noah continued to obey God. And finally, the ark with its three massive decks was finished!

“Come on, boys,” Noah called out as thunder began to grumble. “Our work isn’t done yet!”

The sky darkened and a brisk breeze blew up, carrying with it the smells of . . . a zoo. Noah and his family stared in amazement at an approaching herd of animals.

“Dad!” groaned Ham. “Everyone’s already laughing at us! What are they going to say if we load up all these animals?”

“That doesn’t matter!” said Noah. “God has told us to do this. Quick!

Get the ramp in place.”

Noah and his family loaded up all the animals, and at last, everyone was on board. Just as the first drops of rain began, God shut the door behind Noah and his family.

“Whatever happens, we’re all here, together,” Noah told them. “We’ve done what God told us to do.”

Rain began to fall. Drops at first, then showers, then a downpour . . . for

days and weeks. The floodwaters rose to cover the entire Earth, destroying everything and everyone. But Noah and his family were safe, just as God had promised.

When the waters receded, Noah and his family stepped out onto dry ground and saw a rainbow—a sign of God’s promise that He would never again flood the entire Earth. He was thankful that nothing had stopped him from obeying God, even when no one else did.

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Share about a time when it seemed that no one else was listening to the coach, teacher, or person in charge.

Did you choose to obey anyway? It’s extra hard to obey when you’re the only one, but God can give you the strength to do it. Noah followed through on what God told him to do for many, many years. His neighbors didn’t choose to follow God—but sometimes, when you choose to obey, others will follow your example. Pray together, that God will help you listen to and obey the people in charge this week, even when others don’t.

Coming Soon

Obedience, Week 4

Abraham to Isaac

Genesis 12-21

Trust and obey even if I don't know how it will work out.

Abram lived in Harran with his wife Sarai and nephew Lot. His flocks of sheep provided the fuzziest wool in the land, and his goats were extra smart.

Though Abram had many servants and herders and all the good things he could want, sometimes it was still hard to sleep at night.

“We have no children,” he murmured. “What do all these other things matter?”

Sarai slept deeply, but Abram crept out of the tent. Pulling his cloak tight against the chilly night air, he headed briskly up the hillside. The soft slap of his sandals seemed to be the only sound in the world until:

“Abram.”

Startled by the voice, Abram jumped back. He turned to the right. To the left. Abram spun around. Vast darkness stretched out around him while stars wheeled overhead. The whole earth seemed to spin beneath him.

“There’s no one,”he said.“It must be…is it…God?”

The people of Harran worshiped many false gods, thinking they were real.

Abram knew this was something different. Someone different.

“Go from your country, your people and your father’s family,” said God. “Go to the land I will show you.”

But . . . this is my home,” Abram may have pointed out. “I’m already 75 years old.” “Abram, I will make you into a great nation,” said God. “I will bless you. I will make your name great. You will be a blessing to others.”

The words of the Lord were staggering. Though Abram had no children now, God was promising him enough kids and grandkids to fill an entire country!

“You do realize that Sarai, that both of us . . . we’re getting too old to have kids!” Abram likely exclaimed.

“All nations on earth will be blessed because of you,” God told Abram. “Wow, God,” replied Abram at last. “I don’t know what to say. I mean . . .except . . . well, I’ll go.”

Abram walked the hills all night and returned home at the first light of dawn, rousing the whole household from their beds.

“We have to pack,” he told them. “Get the herds ready. Road trip!”

Abram’s wife, Sarai, rubbed the sleep from her eyes. “Where are we going?” she asked. “For how long?”

“I don’t know,” said Abram.

“You don’t know where, or for how long?” she demanded.

“Both!” said Abram.

Abram’s nephew Lot yawned. “If this is all a joke,” he groaned, “I’m going back to bed.”

“No . . . no!” protested Abram. “God spoke to me.”

Lot frowned. “A god. Which god?”

“The One True God,” Abram explained. “He wouldn’t tell us to do something that wouldn’t turn out well, right?”

“But surely everyone would listen to God if that were true!” Sarai pointed out. “Please, trust me,” said Abram. “Trust the One True God. Oh, and God said

we’re going to have kids and grandkids. Lots of them.”

Sarai’s eyebrows shot up. “This One True God does realize I’m 65, right?”

It wasn’t an easy job to prepare dozens of people and hundreds of animals for a one-way trip to who-knows-where, but at last they all set out on the trail. In fact, Abram and his family traveled on foot for hundreds of miles until they reached the land God had spoken of.

“This land . . .” Abram exclaimed, “it’s even more beautiful than Harran!” But even though Abram had done what God had told him, there was still no child. For years and years.

Once again, God spoke. “Look around, Abram,” God told him. “I will give you all of the land you see. I will give it forever to you and your family who comes after you.”

Years passed. And still more years. And though Abram continued to follow God, well . . . God’s promise seemed just as far away as ever, especially to Sarai.

“Children, Abram?” she said shaking her head. “Are you sure this One True God has really promised a child? Look how old I am!”

During another sleepless night, Abram slipped out of the tent. “Abram, do not be afraid,” God told him. “Look up at the sky.”

Abram craned his head back. Above him, stars flooded the deep, blue dome of the sky. Points of light shone in thick layers, deeper and deeper into space.

“Count the stars, if you can,” said God. “That’s how many children will be born into your family.”

God even changed Abram’s name to Abraham, which means, “father of many,” and Sarai became Sarah, which means, “princess.”

At last, one day, the Lord appeared with two travelers under the large trees near Abraham’s tent. Abraham rushed to honor his guests. Together, he and Sarah prepared a tasty pot roast and crusty bread.

“Have some more butter,” Abraham offered. “Sarah’s famous for her barley bread.”

“Where is your wife?” asked the men.

“Just over there in the tent,” said Abraham, pointing.

“I will surely return to you about this time next year,” promised the Lord. “Sarah will have a son.”

Inside the tent, Sarah overheard these words and gasped. “A baby? That promise again?” she asked in disbelief. “I’m almost 90 now!” She imagined trying to chase a baby around the tent. The thought was so ridiculous she laughed aloud!

The men heard her. “Why did Sarah laugh? . . . . Is anything too hard for me?” asked the Lord.

Sarah tugged aside the wall of the tent, face flaming. “I didn’t laugh,” she protested.

“Yes, you laughed,” said God.

Even though Abraham and Sarah were old enough to be great-great grandparents, Sarah did have a baby, one year later. Abraham stared in amazement at the tiny, wriggling bundle. “This little boy is impossible. But somehow he’s here anyway, just like God promised.”

Sarah nodded, smiling. “God’s sure got a sense of humor.” “That’s it,” exclaimed Abraham. “We’ll call our son Isaac.”

“Laughter!” Sarah agreed. “Yes, God has given us laughter. Everyone who hears about this will laugh!”

For 25 long years, Abraham had followed and trusted God—even though he had no idea how God would fulfill His amazing, impossible promise. In the end, every one of God’s words came true, bringing Abraham and Sarah deep joy.

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Share about a time you had to follow complicated directions. . .

. . . like when you were baking a cake or building something really cool out of LEGO® blocks. You may have known how it was supposed to turn out, but while you were in the middle, it may have seemed like a mess. That’s sure what Abraham’s life looked like for a long time! He knew God had promised something amazing, but he had no idea how it was going to work out. Still, Abraham continued to obey God, and God gave Abraham and Sarah a child, just as He has promised. God can help you obey, too, even when you can’t always see how things are going to work out. Pray for each other, that you will be quick to obey God and the people He’s placed in charge.