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Courage, Week 1

Moses Is Born

Exodus 2:1-10

You can do what you should even when you don't know what will happen next.

After years of hardship, including being kidnapped and sold as a slave by his own brothers, and then falsely imprisoned, Joseph, the great-grandson of Abraham, became an important official in the land of Egypt. When a famine came, Joseph invited his father Jacob and the whole family to move from Canaan to Egypt, where they would have food to eat. Jacob’s family stayed in Egypt, and over hundreds of years, so many children were born that God’s people, the Israelites, became a great nation. The Egyptians weren’t pleased.

Their ruler, the Pharaoh, frowned:
“They’re spreading like rabbits!
A terrible habit.
Before they go berserk,
Let’s put them to work!”

The Egyptians forced the Israelites to work hard in the fields and to work hard building new cities. But still, their numbers grew. So Pharaoh gave a dreadful order.

“All these babies must stop;
Their numbers must drop.
Take all baby boys; I’ll smile
When you throw them into the Nile.”

Every baby boy born to an Israelite family was now in terrible danger. But an Israelite woman named Jochebed determined to save her newborn son. Jochebed calmed the baby by wrapping him tightly in strips of soft fabric. She handed him to her older daughter, Miriam. “We have to keep him quiet,” she warned. “The Egyptians might hear if he cries.”

“Mama. All babies do is cry,” Miriam pointed out.

For three long months, Jochebed and Miriam managed to keep the baby hidden. But his little lungs were growing strong and loud. Every time Egyptian soldiers passed by in the street, Jochebed worried they would hear her child.

“We could take him away,” suggested Miriam.

“They’d never let us leave,” Jochebed explained. “We have to hide him somewhere close.”

“The field?” wondered Miriam.

Jochebed shook her head, struck with a new idea. “The river!” she exclaimed.

“The river? That’s where the Egyptians want to put him!” Miriam protested.

“Which is why they’ll never look for him there,” said Jochebed. “Run down to the market and buy a big basket. We can hide your brother inside.”

Miriam nodded as she finally understood. “He’ll float in the reeds. He’ll be safe!”

Miriam hurried to the market and bought a sturdy basket. Then Jochebed coated the basket with tar so the water couldn’t get in.

“I’ll put this inside,” said Miriam, holding up a soft blanket.

Jochebed slipped her baby boy into the basket, and together, she and Miriam carried him down to the river.

“God keep you safe, little one!” whispered Jochebed as she gently set the basket into the water, between the reeds. “Miriam, stay nearby and watch.”

“What if someone comes?” worried Miriam. “God will show you what to do,” Jochebed said.

As her mother left, Miriam settled into the roots at the base of the willow tree where she could keep an eye on the basket. The murmur of the water and the hot sun nearly put her to sleep—until a cry alerted her.

“Oh! He needs something!” Miriam started to stand, but realized just in time she wasn’t alone.

A group of women were approaching the water. One of the girls wore a beautiful robe and a circle of gold around her head.

“The Princess!” marveled Miriam. “What will she do if she sees me?” She crouched on the ground, still frozen in place. “What will she do if she finds my brother?”

It was too late. The princess turned toward the reeds. “I hear something,” she said, pointing. “In the grass. What is it?”

A servant stepped closer. “I see a basket, Princess.”

“Go get it for me!” ordered the princess.

Miriam watched, terrified, as the servant girl waded into the water and picked up her brother’s basket.

“Bring it here! Let me see!” ordered the princess. She took the basket and peered inside. “Oh! It must be one of the Hebrew babies. Poor thing.”

Miriam caught her breath as the princess cradled her baby brother. She silently pleaded for God to help her. Then she rose to her feet and walked straight toward the princess.

“What’s this?” asked the princess. “Who are you?”

Miriam’s mouth felt dry. She swallowed. “I thought . . . maybe you needed help. With that baby.”

The princess frowned and nodded. “He’s very little . . .”

“I could get one of the Hebrew women to feed the baby and take care of him for you,” offered Miriam.

The baby fussed, and the princess said quickly, “Oh, yes. Yes, please do.”

Miriam rushed home to find her mother. “Come quickly!” she said, “They found him. But it’s okay. I promise.”

Jochebed and Miriam hurried to meet the princess.

“Take this baby and feed him for me,” the princess told Jochebed. “I’ll pay you.”

The princess handed the baby boy back to Jochebed, who nearly wept with relief. “Yes. Of course. I’ll do it,” she said.

Jochebed took Moses home and cared for him. It didn’t matter if anyone found her baby now! And when Moses was older, Jochebed took him to live with the princess in Pharaoh’s palace.

“His name is . . . Moses,” decided the princess. “Because I pulled him out of the water.”

God had used the courage of Jochebed and Miriam to save Moses. And God would use Moses for an even bigger challenge.

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Think of a time you’ve been afraid and share what it felt like to you.

Fear can make us feel all sorts of things—like freezing in place or feeling sick or wanting to run away. Jochebed and Miriam probably felt all of those things! But even when you feel those things, God can still help you be brave. Think of something this week that makes you anxious—maybe a big test or a tryout or facing a bully. Then pray for each other, that God will give you the strength to be brave, even in the midst of your fear.

Coming Soon

Courage, Week 2

Moses and the Burning Bush/The 10 Plagues

Exodus 3-6:12; 7-12:42

You can do what you should even when you don't feel ready.

The Bible.

It’s God’s One Big Story. The epic adventure of how He created us and loves us so much that He made a way to rescue us, even when we turned our backs on Him.

As we travel through the Bible, from Genesis to Revelation, we discover people who met God and found their lives changed forever.

Though God’s people, the Israelites, were slaves in Egypt, God heard their cries for help. He had a plan to work through a man named Moses, an Israelite who had grown up in Pharaoh’s palace. But after making a terrible mistake, Moses had fled from Egypt. He lived in Midian, raising a family and caring for sheep, certain that his life in Egypt was long finished.

“Eighty years old! Maybe it’s time for me to retire and live the quiet life,” he considered as he slowly followed his sheep up a brushy hillside. But a sudden “whoosh!” drew his attention.

Just ahead, a bush had burst into flames!

Moses stared in amazement as the fire flared, but the leaves didn’t burn. “How is this possible?” he gasped.

As Moses edged closer, a Voice called from the midst of the fire.

“Moses! Moses!”

“Here I am,” he said, voice quaking.

“Do not come any closer,” the Voice told him. “Take off your sandals. The place you are standing on is holy ground.”

Moses stopped in his tracks. With shaking fingers, he tugged off his sandals.

The Voice spoke again: “I am the God of Abraham. I am the God of Isaac. And I am the God of Jacob.”

At these words, Moses covered his face in awe.

“I have seen how my people are suffering in Egypt,” said God. “I have heard them cry out. . . . I will bring them into a good land. . . . So now, go. I am sending you to Pharaoh. I want you to bring the Israelites out of Egypt.”

Moses dropped down to his knees, face to the ground. “Me?” he squeaked.

“I will be with you,” said God.

“But what if the Israelites don’t believe You sent me?” asked Moses.

God gave Moses several miraculous signs to show the Israelites. Right then and there, He turned Moses’ walking stick into a snake!

. . . And then back into a stick.

Still, Moses was frozen with fear. “Lord, I’m a terrible speaker in front of people,” he protested.

“Go!” commanded God. “I will help you speak.”

“Couldn’t You send someone else?” asked Moses.

“Your brother Aaron can speak well,” God told Moses. “He is already on his way to meet you. He will be glad to see you. Speak to him.Tell him what to say. I will help both of you speak.”

Even though the thought of facing Pharaoh made him sick with fear, Moses traveled back to Egypt. With Aaron’s help, he spoke to the Israelites.

“God will lead us out of Egypt!” he proclaimed.

Just as God had promised, the Israelites believed him! But they did have some questions. “So Pharaoh’s going to roll out the red carpet for us to leave?” they wondered.

“I . . . I still have to talk to him,” Moses confessed.

Together, Moses and Aaron approached the palace—the place where Moses had grown up. Moses could feel his throat tighten as he and Aaron entered the vaulted throne room. Pharaoh towered high above them on his gold throne.

Moses whispered to Aaron, “Tell him . . . The Lord says, ‘Let my people go. Then they will be able to hold a feast to honor me in the desert.’”

Aaron repeated the words loudly and clearly. The Pharaoh’s eyes narrowed as he glared down. “Who is ‘the Lord?’ Why should I obey him?” barked the ruler.

Instead of releasing God’s people, Pharaoh gave orders for them to work even harder!

The Israelites weren’t happy with Moses. “You aren’t helping,” they complained. “You’ve messed things up even more!”

Moses cried out to God, “I did what You asked and now it’s just worse. You haven’t saved your people at all.”

Still, the Lord told Moses and Aaron to return to Pharaoh. “[Pharaoh] will not listen to you,” He told them. “So I will use my powerful hand against Egypt. When I judge them with mighty acts, I will bring my people Israel out like an army on the march. . . . I will bring the people of Israel out of Egypt.”

Even though God performed miraculous signs through Moses and Aaron in front of Pharaoh, the king still wouldn’t listen! So one morning, Aaron and Moses met Pharaoh down at the Nile River.

“Here’s what God says to say. And what to do,” Moses whispered to Aaron.

The brothers confronted Pharaoh, and Aaron said and did just as God had commanded Moses. “The Lord . . . has sent me to you!” announced Aaron. “He says, ‘Let my people go. . . But up to now you have not listened . . . Here is how you will know I am the Lord.’”

Aaron raised his staff high. “I will strike the water . . . with [this] walking stick,” he said. “The river will turn into blood. The fish in the river will die. The river will stink. The Egyptians will not be able to drink its water.”

Pharaoh smirked, but Moses nodded at Aaron. His older brother struck the water with his staff. Immediately, the water turned to dark red blood!

But still Pharaoh wouldn’t let God’s people go.

God spoke to Moses again. “Go back to Pharaoh.”

Again and again, Moses and Aaron appeared before Pharaoh to speak God’s words: “Let my people go!”

Over and over, Pharaoh promised to release God’s people. And each time, he went back on his word, even though God sent frogs, followed by gnats, and then flies. All the Egyptians’ livestock died. Terrible sores showed up all over the Egyptians and their animals. Hail rained down, destroying crops and tearing leaves from the trees. Locusts finished off anything the hail left behind. Then deep darkness descended on the land for three days.

At last, the worst plague of all: the oldest son of every Egyptian family . . . died.

Only the Israelite families were saved—by painting the blood of a lamb over their door frames, just as God had told them to do.

When Pharaoh saw the terrible thing that had happened, he called to Moses. “Leave! All of you . . . just leave us alone. Go!”

The Egyptians were so eager to get rid of the Israelites they even gave them silver and gold and clothes to take along.

“No time to bake your bread! Just bring the dough along,” Moses commanded the Israelites.

God’s people packed up in the middle of the night and left as quickly as they could, leading their flocks and herds. God had spoken through Moses—in spite of his fears. God’s people were free from slavery. And four hundred and thirty years after they first arrived in Egypt, God’s people were finally headed home.

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How do you think Moses felt when God told him to leave the life he knew to go and face Pharaoh in Egypt?

List all the things he might have been thinking and feeling. Moses definitely didn’t feel ready to lead hundreds of thousands of God’s people to freedom. But God was with him, every step of the way, just as He promised. What is happening in your life right now that you don’t feel ready for? Take a few minutes and share. Then pray for each other, that you will trust God to give you everything you need to be brave and move forward, even when you don’t feel ready.

Coming Soon

Courage, Week 3

Israel Goes Through the Red Sea

Exodus 13:17-14:31

You can do what you should even when things seem impossible.

God’s people, the Israelites, had worked as slaves in Egypt for hundreds of years. But God sent Moses to confront the Egyptian Pharaoh and demand freedom. Though Moses was scared, he listened to God. He faced down Pharaoh. And after God sent a series of terrible plagues—like turning the rivers to blood, hoards of frogs, and finally, the death of every oldest son in Egypt—Pharaoh reached his limit. “Leave!” he ordered. “Go!”

God’s people left quickly—or as quickly as more than a million people and their animals can move. They left by night and later camped on the edge of the desert.

We don’t know who many of the Israelites were, but we do know that many of them were children. We can imagine that one of them was a young girl named Tikva, traveling with her grandmother Devorah.

“Safta,” Tikva may have wondered, “where are we going?”

“The Lord Himself has promised us a home,” said her grandmother.

“How will we get there?”

“You see that column of cloud ahead?” Devorah asked, pointing. “Moses has said God Himself is in the cloud, guiding us.”

“And the flames we see at night . . . is God in them, too?” asked Tikva. Devorah nodded. “I believe it.”

Tikva’s eyes widened. “The cloud is moving again!”

“Let’s get ready,” Devorah told her. “Gather the goats.”

Tikva herded their three goats together as Devorah packed up their belongings. They set off again with the slow-moving crowd, traveling all day. Late in the afternoon, the sun gleamed bright against a vast body of water far ahead: the Red Sea.

“It’s so much bigger than the Nile!” gasped Tikva.

Around them, others began to set up camp for the night. But Tikva and her grandmother pushed on to the shore. By the time they reached the sea, they were near the front of the crowd.

“I can’t see the other side,” Tikva marveled. “How deep is it?”

They both stared out across the water. “Very deep I should think,” said Devorah. “Would you like to wade?”

Tikva shivered. She couldn’t swim. “No. I don’t think so,” she said.

As Tikva turned away from the water, she spotted a rise in the land ahead. A tall man with wild, white hair and a thick staff stood at the center of a group of men, looking back across the desert.

“Is that Moses?” asked Tikva.

“I think so,” Devorah nodded.

As they watched, something changed. While Moses appeared calm, the men with him began to point and shout. Others ran down from the hill.

“Pharaoh’s changed his mind!” called one man. “He’s coming after us with all his chariots and horses and troops!”

Tikva strained her eyes to see across the desert. Sure enough, a big cloud of dust was blooming. “Where will we go?” she worried. “There’s nowhere but the water!”

“I believe God will help us,” said Devorah, her voice steady.

“Will Moses tell us what to do?” Tikva asked.

“Let’s find out,” said Devorah.

Together, they hurried toward the place where Moses stood. A panicked crowd had already gathered.

“Why did you bring us out here to die?” one man moaned. “It would have been better to stay in Egypt as slaves!”

Tikva glanced back at the growing dust cloud. It had been terrible working so hard for Pharaoh. Even Tikva and her friends had carried bricks as an Egyptian master shouted at them.

Moses held up his rod and called out over the crowd, “Don’t be afraid. Stand firm. You will see how the Lord will save you today. . . . The Lord will fight for you. Just be still.”

Moses waved the people away with his rod and stalked toward the water’s edge. “I think he’s talking with God,” said Tikva’s grandmother.

As dusk settled, Tikva and Devorah huddled together with their goats.

“Look at the tall cloud!” exclaimed Tikva. “It’s moved to the back of the camp.”

“God’s standing between us and the Egyptians,” explained Devorah.

Tikva stood, shifting her weight back and forth. Everyone around them was restless too. At last she spotted Moses’ brother, Aaron, hurrying along the water’s edge. Devorah stepped forward.

“Please,” she asked. “Tell us what your brother is doing.”

“God told Moses to hold his walking stick over the Red Sea,” said Aaron. “God will gain glory because of all this.”

Even as they listened to Aaron, Tikva could feel a strong wind rising. It whipped the water into a wild froth. And slowly, the water began to part in the middle before the place where Moses stood.

As night fell, Tikva and Devorah watched in amazement: the wind was pushing the water into two great walls with a dry path between. They could hear the distant sounds of Pharaoh’s army, but the cloud separated the Egyptians from God’s people.

“God made a way through the water!” Tikva declared.

Moses called out to the Israelites, “Hurry! We must walk through!” Tikva and Devorah hurried to join the caravan passing into the sea. “What if the water falls on us?” Tikva wondered, anxious.

Devorah took Tikva’s hand. “Do you really think that will happen?” Tikva shook her head. “God pushed the water back. He’ll keep us safe.”

As they reached the water’s edge, the strong wind whipped their hair. The water rose in high walls, towering above Tikva. In spite of what she’d said, her stomach was tied in knots. She closed her eyes tightly. Then . . . she took her first step between the waters.

Nothing happened! When Tikva opened her eyes, she was standing safely between the walls.

Together, Tikva and Devorah—and all the Israelites—marched right through the heart of the sea. But before all God’s people had made it across, a new sound struck terror: the creaking wheels and thundering hooves of hundred of horses and chariots. Pharaoh was coming after them!

Tikva felt panic grip her again. “How could God bring us through just to let them get us?” she cried.

As dawn neared, though, Tikva heard something new: panicked horses and shouting soldiers.

Aaron called out over the crowd. “God has jammed the wheels of their chariots! The Egyptians are stuck in the middle of the Red Sea!”

Just beyond Aaron, Tikva saw Moses at the water’s edge. As the last Israelite made it through, Moses raised his rod again.

“God told him to reach out his hand over the water again,” explained Aaron.

As the sun burst over the horizon, the walls of water began to collapse. The Egyptians, along with their horses and chariots, were washed away.

Not one was left.

Everything about the last day had seemed impossible. Tikva was grateful God had given her the courage to take that first step between the waters . . . even in the face of fear.

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What do you think it might have felt like to stand there in front of the Red Sea, ready to step between two giant walls of water?

Share some things you might have seen and heard and felt. Walking between all that water through the sea must have seemed impossible. But God was with the Israelites and gave them the courage to walk straight through anyway! Share about something in your life that feels so hard it might seem impossible right now. Pray for each other, that God would give you the courage to keep going and do the right thing in your impossible situation.

Coming Soon

Courage, Week 4

Twelve Men Check Out the Land of Canaan

Numbers 13-14

You can do what you should even when others are afraid.

The Bible.

It’s God’s One Big Story. The epic adventure of how He created us and loves us so much that He made a way to rescue us, even when we turned our backs on Him.

As we travel through the Bible, from Genesis to Revelation, we discover people who met God and found their lives changed forever.

Moses had been 80 years old, living the quiet life, when God challenged

him to return to Egypt and demand freedom for the Israelites. After terrible plagues, a dangerous trip through the Red Sea, and a dry, hot trek across the desert, Moses and the Israelites had finally reached the edge of the land God had promised to them.

God told Moses, “Send some men to check out the land of Canaan. I am giving it to the Israelites. Send one leader from each of Israel’s tribes.”

Moses called together the leaders of each of the twelve tribes: Gaddi, Geuel, Gaddiel, Sethur, Shammua, Shaphat, Nahbi, Palti, Ammiel, Caleb, Joshua, and Igal.

“I need the twelve of you for a secret mission!” he explained.

Igal, a hulking man, smirked. “You picked the right guy,” he bragged.

Shammua, thin and overexcited, jumped up and down. “Yeah, yeah, yeah, we got this!” he shouted.

“God is giving us this land,” Moses told them. “See what the land is like.

See whether the people who live there are strong or weak . . . few or many . . . Do the towns have high walls around them or not? . . . Is it rich land or poor land? . . . Do your best to bring back some of the fruit of the land.”

Joshua, quiet, but determined, promised, “You can count on us.”

His friend Caleb stepped up with a grin. “Would you prefer grapes or pomegranates?” he asked.

Igal elbowed them both out of the way. “Ah, shove off kids. I’m in charge of this little spy expedition.”

The twelve men set off to explore Canaan. For forty days they traveled the land.

“Day one,” grumbled Igal. “Broke a sandal strap.” “But look how rich the land is!” Joshua pointed out.

Caleb reached inside a hollow tree. “This place is practically flowing with milk and . . . wow!” he added, pulling out a fistful of oozing gold. “Just look at this honeycomb.”

Igal frowned and pointed to some towering walls across the plain. “What about those giant piles of rock over there?”

“You mean the cities?” asked Joshua.

“Those are cities?” Igal gaped. “They gotta be built by giants!” “Giants?!” babbled Shammua. “Moses didn’t say a word about giants!”

Caleb tried to distract them with a massive bunch of fruit. “But check out the size of these amazing grapes!” he exclaimed.

“Ack! Even the grapes are giants!” said Shammua, getting ready to run.

“This mission is . . . is . . . it’s IMPOSSIBLE!” declared Igal.

After 40 days, the men returned to the Israelite camp to report. They brought with them a bunch of grapes so large it had to be carried on a pole between two men.

“Well?” asked Moses. “How did your mission go?” “Canaan is incredible!” announced Joshua.

“The land is so rich,” added Caleb. “I mean, have you ever seen a grape the size of a baby hippopotamus?”

“This is fantastic news!” said Moses.

But Igal shoved his way forward. “Hold it. Not so fast. The people there are powerful.”

“So powerful,” said Shammua, quaking.

“And their cities have ginormous walls,” said Igal. “So ginormous,” agreed Shammua.

“And the people are taller than giants,” added Igal. “So gigantic!” wailed Shammua.

Joshua and Caleb listened in disbelief. “But God led us here! We should go up and take the land!” insisted Caleb.

“Yes. If we want to be stamped on like grasshoppers!” glowered Igal.

Igal and the others spread terrible, scary stories about the land all through the camp. By evening, panic had descended, and the Israelites crowded around Aaron and Moses.

“Why did the Lord bring us here?” they wailed. “Those people will capture our families! I wish we’d died in Egypt. We should just go back there. Let’s pick another leader.”

Moses and Aaron threw themselves down on the ground before the Lord. Joshua and Caleb torn their clothes as a sign of great distress. They pleaded with the people.

“Listen!” Caleb cried out. “The land totally rocks!”

“If God is pleased with us, He’ll lead us there and give us the land,” added Joshua. “But we’ve got to do what God says,” Caleb pointed out.

“Don’t be afraid of the people in the land,” Joshua instructed. “The Lord is with us!”

The Israelites were too scared to listen. In fact, they started planning ways to get rid of Joshua and Caleb! Before they could take action, the glory of the Lord appeared in brilliant light over the tent of meeting so everyone could see.

Then the Lord spoke to Moses, “How long will these people refuse to believe in me? . . . . I will strike them down.”

“Lord, your love is great. So forgive the sin of these people. Forgive them just as you have done from the time they left Egypt until now,” Moses pleaded.

“I have forgiven them,” said God. “Not one of these people will see the land

I promised to give them. They have seen my glory. They have seen the signs I did in Egypt. And they have seen what I did in the desert. But they did not obey me. But my servant Caleb . . . follows me with his whole heart. Caleb and Joshua are the only ones who will enter the land.”

After God spoke, Igal and the other men who had spread a bad report about Canaan were struck down. Only Joshua and Caleb remained.

Just as God had said, none of the Israelites who had given in to fear lived to see the land God had promised. Instead, they wandered in the desert for forty more years. In the end, it was their children—along with Joshua and Caleb—who would enter Canaan.

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Do you know what “groupthink” is? Share what you think it might mean.

It’s just what it sounds like: One person gets loud about what they think and everyone else starts to join in, even if it’s not what they really believe or feel. That’s what happened to the Israelite leaders when they explored Canaan (all but Joshua and Caleb). Their fear spread to each other, and then to the other Israelites, even though God had promised to give them the land! You may see something like that happening around you. A group of kids all get too scared to stand up to a bully. Or no one sits with the lonely kids because everyone starts to be afraid they’ll get laughed at. But with God’s help, you can do the right thing, even if others around you are afraid. Pray for each other, that you’d have the courage to make wise choices, even if those around you are not.