God's Warning to Seven Churches

Dear Parents,

The Book of Revelation opens with John’s description of a vision. In the vision, Jesus gave John messages for seven local churches. Jesus told John to write these messages on a scroll and send them to the churches.

In most cases, Jesus commended the church for their good work, warned them about the areas in which they needed correction, and urged them to return to Him. Among other things, He warned the churches not to forget their love of the Lord. He encouraged them not to be afraid of being tested. He urged those who were surrounded by evil to not deny their faith. Each time, Jesus promised to reward those who remain faithful to Him.

The church is made up of people who have trusted in Jesus, who are committed to one another, and who meet together to worship Jesus and share the gospel. Jesus loves the church as His bride. (See Eph. 5:25-27; Rev. 19:7-9.) Jesus’ message called the churches to turn away from their sin and remain faithful to Him. The Lord is slow to anger (Ex. 34-6-7) and patient, wanting everyone to repent (2 Pet. 3:9).

Jesus warned specific churches in Asia Minor (modern-day Turkey), but the problems they faced can still be found in churches today. Help kids understand some of the problems the early churches faced: They did not love like they should, they believed false teaching and did wrong things, and they were lukewarm—useless to the cause of Christ. 

Help your children understand that we can pray for our churches to be faithful, effective instruments in spreading the gospel. We should love the church because Jesus loves the church. Through the church, Jesus helps believers work together to do God’s plan. Finally, Jesus warned believers to stay alert because He will come like a thief when no one is expecting Him. Believers—then and now—must always be ready!

Jesus loves the church. His message to seven local churches called them to turn away from their sin and remain faithful to Him. We can learn from those churches. Through the church, Jesus helps believers work together to do God’s plan.

John's Vision of Jesus

Dear Parents,

During this unit, we will be looking at God’s message about what will happen when Jesus returns in the Book of Revelation. The apostle John wrote the Book of Revelation from the island of Patmos. Patmos was a small Greek island where the Roman emperor often exiled prisoners. John was likely sent to Patmos as a prisoner, arrested for preaching the gospel.

With this Bible story, introduce your kids to the Book of Revelation—the last book of the Bible. Other Bible books tell us about things that happened in past, but Revelation tells about things that will happen in the future. A glimpse of the future kingdom of God gives believers hope and encourages them to remain faithful to Christ.

In Revelation 1, Jesus appeared to John in a vision to tell about the end of time. John was on the island of Patmos when he heard a voice telling him to write what he saw. John turned and, in a vision, saw Jesus: He was wearing a long robe with a gold sash wrapped around His chest. His head and hair were as white as snow, and His eyes were like a fiery flame. Because the Book of Revelation is highly symbolic, avoid dwelling on the physical description of Jesus. Jesus’ appearance to John reveals what Jesus is like: worthy of all honor, powerful, and victorious. 

John saw Jesus walking among seven lampstands, symbols for the seven churches. Explain to the boys and girls you teach that lampstands are used to bring light into dark places. That is the purpose of the church—to bring the light of the gospel into a dark world.

When John saw Jesus, he fell at Jesus’ feet. Jesus reached down and put His hand on John. He said, “Don’t be afraid” (Rev. 1:17). Jesus showed Himself to John and explained that He is the First and the Last, the Living One. While Jesus was on earth, He defeated sin and death by dying on the cross and coming back to life. Now Jesus is lifted up in glory and honor forever and ever. We can look forward to a future with Him forever.

While We Wait

Dear Parents,

Peter’s story of faith began when Jesus said, “Follow Me.” (Matt. 4:18) Peter and his brother Andrew—two fishermen from Galilee—left their nets and followed Jesus. As one of Jesus’ twelve disciples, Peter witnessed firsthand Jesus’ miracles and teachings. He saw Jesus heal his mother-in-law (Matt. 8:14) and raise a little girl from the dead (Luke 8:49-55). He saw Jesus walk on water, and Peter walked on water too. (Matt. 14:25-29)

Peter believed that Jesus is the Messiah (Matt. 16:16), and he was understandably upset when Jesus predicted that Peter would deny Him (Matt. 26:34-35). Peter fell asleep as Jesus prayed in the garden, and he drew his sword to defend Jesus when He was arrested. (Matt. 26:40; John 18:10) Peter denied Jesus three times, but after the resurrection Jesus appeared to Peter and the other disciples. Then Jesus restored Peter to ministry at the sea of Galilee. (John 21:15-19)

The first 12 chapters in the Book of Acts record the Holy Spirit’s work through Peter after Pentecost. God revealed to Peter that the gospel is for everyone—Jews and Gentiles. Peter was arrested and imprisoned for sharing the gospel, but an angel of the Lord rescued him. (Acts 12:1-8)

When Peter wrote his second letter, he was in prison again. Peter was aware that death was imminent. (2 Pet. 1:13-15) Like Jude, Peter warned against false teachers. Soon after his letter was written, Peter was killed in Rome as Jesus had predicted. (John 21:18-19) 

Some people thought the believers were foolish for thinking Jesus is coming again. Peter explained that God is patient, and He wants everyone to trust in Jesus. At just the right time, Jesus will come again, and we look forward to the day when He creates the new heavens and a new earth. 

As you talk about this Bible story with your kids, remind them that Peter’s letter was written nearly two thousand years ago to believers who were not far removed from Jesus’ life on earth. Today, we still wait eagerly for Jesus’ return, and God calls us to use our time on earth as an opportunity to better know and love Him, and to tell others about Him.

Remember God's Truth

Dear Parents,

Jude, along with James, was a younger half-brother of Jesus. And like James, it wasn’t until Jesus rose from the dead that Jude believed Jesus was the Son of God. Sometime between AD 65 and AD 80, Jude wrote a short letter to warn believers about false teachers. False teachers had secretly made their way into the church, and Jude urged his readers not to abandon their beliefs but to “contend for the faith” (Jude 3). 

Jude wanted them to not only defend the true teachings but also to actively share the gospel. He told his friends to show mercy to those who doubt, to lead others to Jesus, and to hate sin.

There are still false teachers today, and some of them still try to sneak into the church itself. Remind your children that God loves us, and He warns us through Scripture to be on guard. We can study His Word to know what is true, and we can rely on the Holy Spirit for wisdom and discernment.

Such a strong warning about false teachers might be reason for panic among believers, but Jude ended his letter reminding them of God’s promise. Ultimately, Jesus is the One who protects His people from sin. Throughout history, God has been working out His plan to bring a people to Himself. God will keep us, and He calls us to not only remember His truth but to encourage other believers to defend the faith.

As you talk with your kids about this story, emphasize that Jude warned the early Christians that some people would try to divide them by sinning and by teaching things that weren’t true. Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life—the One who protects His people from sin. Because of Jesus, we will be able to stand before God with joy.

Paul Gave Hope

Dear Parents,

Consider how your life would change if you could know the future—if you could accurately predict the weather or outcomes of baseball game. If you could know how your life is going to turn out, would you live today differently? In the bigger picture of God’s plan for the world, we do know the future. God reveals the outcome of His plan for humanity in His Word. 

In the Book of 1 Thessalonians, Paul writes about the future to encourage believers facing persecution. Their hope as believers then is the same as our hope as believers today. We look forward to a final resurrection, the return of Jesus, and the judgment of the world.

Around AD 50, the city of Thessalonica was filled with those who worshiped idols, Greek and Roman gods, and even the Roman emperor himself. So when Paul started a church there, he quickly faced persecution and was forced to flee the city. Even though he could not return, Paul still loved the young church and was concerned for them, so he sent Timothy to check on the believers.

Timothy reported back with good news—though the church was suffering from persecution, they were holding tightly to their faith. They did have some misunderstandings about Christianity, especially the return of Jesus, but they were working hard for the Lord. Paul wrote a letter to encourage the believers and to clear up misunderstandings about the future and what happens when Christians die.

Perhaps Paul’s greatest message was about the return of Jesus. The prophets in the Old Testament told about the Day of the Lord, a day when God would come to judge the world and save His people. Paul said that in the future, on the Day of the Lord, Jesus will return for His people and judge the wicked. Believers live with hope, knowing that Jesus will come again. That’s a promise we can still claim today.

Paul’s letter gave believers hope. Help your kids understand this week that the hope we find in the Bible is stronger than just wanting something to happen; biblical hope is expecting with confidence because we know God is faithful and true.

Paul's Letter to Philemon

Dear Parents,

During this unit, we will be looking at how God gave hope to Christians while they waited for Jesus’ return. Paul was a prisoner under house arrest in Rome when a man named Onesimus (oh NESS ih muhs) came to visit him. Onesimus was a slave who had run away from a wealthy man named Philemon. As it turned out, Paul was a friend of Philemon. So when Paul told Onesimus the good news about Jesus and Onesimus believed, Paul desired forgiveness and reconciliation between Onesimus and Philemon—now brothers in Christ.

So Paul wrote a letter and told Onesimus to take it to Philemon. The Book of Philemon is the letter written by Paul to Philemon. Though Onesimus had become dear to him and Paul wanted Onesimus to stay with him in Rome, Paul sent him back to Philemon with his letter.

In the letter, Paul urged Philemon to forgive Onesimus and treat him as a fellow brother in Christ. Paul even offered to pay Onesimus’s debt for him. Though Paul could have used his authority as an apostle of Christ to force Philemon to do what he wanted, Paul instead appealed to him as a friend and a fellow believer. He urged Philemon to treat Onesimus as if he were Paul himself—with love and kindness.

Paul offered to pay Onesimus’s debt to make peace between him and Philemon. In this way, Paul acted like Jesus, who makes peace between God and man. Jesus took the punishment we deserve for our sin. He paid our debt so that we can be forgiven and welcomed by God as brothers and sisters of Jesus. (See Heb. 2:11.)

Paul’s letter serves as a reminder to us that everyone is equal before Jesus. People from completely different backgrounds—like Paul, a former Jewish leader; Onesimus, a runaway slave; and Philemon, a Gentile slave-owner—are brought together by the gospel under the lordship of Jesus Christ. In light of God’s love for us, remind your kids this week that we can be loving, kind, and forgiving to our brothers and sisters in Christ for the glory of God.

Paul Made Much of Jesus

Dear Parents,

Paul wrote his letter to the church at Colossae not long after he arrived in Rome as a prisoner. The letter served to correct false teaching in the church and to encourage right living among believers. Focus on verses 15-20, in which Paul described who Jesus is.

Paul’s teaching to the Colossians was important because the believers were trying to figure out what it meant to follow Jesus. They were struggling to understand the gospel and discern what is really true. These are the same questions we face as believers today: Who is Jesus? What is the gospel? What is true about God and about myself?

Keep these points in mind as you talk about this Bible story with your kids.

1. Jesus is the image of the invisible God. (Col. 1:15) If you want to know what God is like, look at Jesus. His life and teaching tells us what is true about God. He reflects God’s character. (See Heb. 1:3.) Jesus Himself said, “The one who has seen me has seen the Father” (John 14:9).

2. Jesus is Creator. (Col. 1:16-17) Because He created everything, He is in charge of everything—even invisible things! He controls and sustains all things. Because He is at the center, we can take comfort in Him even when life is hard.

3. Jesus is King. (Col. 1:18) The reality is that we live in God’s kingdom. If we live for ourselves instead of Him, we sin. Sin is rebellion against the King. We deserve to die for our sin, but the good news—the gospel—is that Jesus came to save sinners.

As you share with your kids this week, help them see Paul made much of Jesus because Jesus is better. Paul encouraged believers by reminding them that Jesus is great. Jesus is God’s Son, and He died on the cross to rescue people from sin. The gospel is true, and Jesus is all we need.

Paul’s Joy in Prison

Dear Parents,

Paul wrote his letter to the Philippian believers when he was a prisoner at a house in Rome. Paul had planted the church in Philippi about 10 years earlier. The letter begins with thanksgiving and joy, a remarkable response in light of Paul’s lengthy imprisonment. He was waiting to present his case to Caesar, the emperor of Rome.

People began to hear about Paul and why he was a prisoner. The whole imperial guard knew that Paul was in chains because he followed Jesus. Despite what seemed like a series of setbacks, the sufferings Paul faced actually advanced the gospel—and for this reason, Paul was joyful.

No matter what chaos or suffering surrounded Paul, these realities were constant: the gospel was being spread, Jesus was Lord, and Paul knew Him. This eternal perspective was essential to Paul’s peace and joy. God used Paul’s difficult circumstances to spread the gospel and build the church. Paul knew that because Jesus suffered to bring salvation to the world, believers doing God’s work would suffer too.

As you share this story with your kids, remind them that joy is one of the qualities seen in the fruit of the Spirit. (Gal. 5:22) Explain that joy is delight that comes from knowing and serving God. Paul’s joy was not self-generated. He didn’t muster up joy because he was super-spiritual or naively optimistic about his circumstances. Paul had joy because he was focused on Jesus.

Think about suffering in your own life. How do you typically respond to suffering? What does your reaction to suffering reveal about what you believe about God? What does it reveal about what you most treasure in life? Remind your kids that joy in suffering does not discredit grief and pain, but it gives hope in difficult times. This joy is rooted in the faithfulness of God, who ultimately does everything for His glory and our good. 

The Shipwreck

Dear Parents,

Paul was in Roman custody because the Jews said things about Paul that were untrue. Paul had stood before rulers in Caesarea and invoked his right as a Roman citizen to appeal to Caesar. So Festus the governor arranged for Paul to go to Rome.

Paul got onto a ship going toward Rome. As if Paul’s journey to Rome had not already been delayed and complicated enough, the ship was caught up in a terrible storm. Paul had warned the crew not to sail from Crete because they would lose everything and die. But they didn’t listen. But Paul still gave them hope. An angel had appeared to Paul. He said Paul would make it to Rome and all of the people with him would survive.

Paul urged everyone on the ship to eat so they would have energy. The sailors planned to run the ship ashore on an island, but the ship got stuck on a sandbar. The waves battered the ship and it broke into pieces; however, all of the people survived and made it safely to shore.

Paul suffered for Christ. In his letter to the church at Corinth, Paul listed the kinds of things he faced: beatings, stoning, shipwrecks, various dangers, hardship, sleepless nights, hunger and thirst, nakedness, and other daily pressures. (See 2 Cor. 11:24-29.) Again and again, Paul saw evidence of God’s control over his life and the gospel was advanced.

As you talk with your kids about this story, emphasize that Paul trusted God to keep His promise to rescue them from the storm. He also encouraged the sailors to trust God too. God calls us to trust in His Son, Jesus, who died to rescue us from sin and death, and to tell others this good news. We can encourage others to trust God because we know He is good and in control.

Paul Before Rulers

Dear Parents,

Paul was in custody in Caesarea, the capital of the Roman province of Judea. The Jewish leaders had brought serious charges against him, so Paul now stood before Felix, the governor. Felix listened to Paul’s defense but delayed a ruling. He met with Paul off and on for two years. When his time as governor ended, Felix left Paul in prison because he did not want to upset the Jews.

Festus succeeded Felix as governor. The Jews presented their accusations against Paul and asked Festus to bring him to Jerusalem. They hoped to ambush Paul as he traveled and kill him. But Festus invited Paul’s accusers to make their case in Caesarea. When Festus heard Paul’s case, he asked if Paul wanted to be tried in Jerusalem. Paul, knowing his rights as a Roman citizen, appealed to be heard by Caesar.

Several days later, King Agrippa visited Festus and heard about Paul. He asked to listen to Paul’s defense himself. Festus wasn’t sure how he would justify his sending Paul to Caesar without substantiated charges, and he hoped this hearing would provide stronger evidence against Paul. Agrippa told Paul he was out of his mind, but determined Paul could have been set free if he had not appealed to Caesar.

With these events, Paul was positioned to go to Rome, just as God had said he would. (See Acts 19:21; 23:11.) God had chosen Paul to take the gospel to Gentiles, kings, and the Israelites. (See Acts 9:15-16.) Paul was confident that Jesus has the power to save people from sin, and he was willing to do whatever it took to share the gospel.

This week, help your kids think about how Paul might have felt as he spoke before rulers and remained in custody for two years. Lead them to consider how God was at work to keep His promises in Paul’s life.

The Plan to Stop Paul

Dear Parents,

This unit we will be talking about God’s plan for Paul, who had devoted his life to preaching the gospel and planting churches, in a frightening and dangerous position. As Paul’s third missionary journey came to an end, a prophet named Agabus warned him that the Jews would seize him in Jerusalem and hand him over to the Gentiles. (See Acts 21:10-11.)

But Paul did not hesitate, knowing Jerusalem was exactly where God wanted Paul to go. Paul returned to Jerusalem and was seized by a group of Jews who wanted to kill him because of the gospel.

The Roman soldiers nearby saw the commotion and stepped in, taking Paul into Roman custody. Now Paul was in Gentile hands. Paul remained under Roman protection and was staying in the barracks when the Lord gave him a message: “Have courage! For as you have testified about me in Jerusalem, so it is necessary for you to testify in Rome” (Acts 23:11).

What a comforting message for Paul! The sovereign Lord told Paul his future: You’re going to Rome. Paul wasn’t exactly sure how he was going to get to Rome, but he could trust that God was working all things together for that purpose.

The next morning, Paul’s nephew uncovered a plot to kill Paul and reported it to the Roman army commander. The commander arranged for Paul to go to Caesarea, where he would be safe.

In this Bible story, we see God using human means to bring about His end. Even when others threatened his life, Paul trusted that God is faithful. He believed that God, who showed His love for the world by sending Jesus to die on the cross and rise again, would help him through hard times. We too can risk everything to share the gospel with courage because we know that God loves us and will care for us. 

As you talk to your kids this week, remind them that God calls us to be obedient and faithful as we take part in His greater plan to show His glory to us and through us for the fame of His name. No matter what obstacles we may face, God’s plan for us is always for His glory and our good.

Jesus Was Born

Dear Parents,

Do you think it was just by chance that Caesar Augustus called for a census? Did it just so happen that Mary and Joseph were traveling to Bethlehem—the very place the Messiah was prophesied to be born? (Micah 5:2) God is in control of all things, which He showed by using a pagan emperor to bring about His plan.

After Jesus was born, Mary laid Him in a manger. A king in a manger! It was so unlikely. But Jesus was no ordinary baby. He was God’s Son, sent in the most humble of positions, “not to be served, but to serve, and to give His life—a ransom for many” (Matt. 20:28).

Imagine the shepherds’ surprise when an angel of the Lord suddenly appeared. The Bible says that they were terrified! But the angel said to them, “Don’t be afraid, for look, I proclaim to you good news of great joy that will be for all the people: Today a Savior, who is Messiah the Lord, was born for you in the city of David” (Luke 2:10-11).

What a relief! This angel had come to bring good news. First, he proclaimed a Savior. The people of Israel were well aware of their need for a Savior. They made sacrifices daily to atone for their sin. Finally, a Savior had come who would be the perfect sacrifice for sin, once and for all.

Jesus was also Messiah the Lord. The word Messiah means “anointed one,” especially a king. The Deliverer and Redeemer would be King over His people. And this was all happening in Bethlehem, the city of David—just as the prophet Micah said.

This is the best news ever! An army of angels appeared, praising God and saying: “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and peace on earth to people He favors” (Luke 2:14). The purpose of Jesus’ birth was twofold: to bring glory to God and to make peace between God and those who trust in Jesus’ death and resurrection.

The birth of Jesus was good news! Jesus was not an ordinary baby. He was God’s Son, sent to earth from heaven. Jesus came into the world to save people from their sins and to be their King.

Heroes of Faith

Dear Parents,

It is common to think of faith as something that is just within us—trust and confidence in God. While that is surely part of it, faith doesn’t stop there. Faith starts inside of us and always leads to action.

The writer of the Book of Hebrews wanted to explain the fullness of faith to the early Jewish Christians. One of the best ways he could do this was to walk through examples of how men and women in the Old Testament had proven to be faithful. The result is Hebrews 11, often known as the Hall of Faith. 

Abel had faith when he gave an offering to God, and God accepted his offering. Noah had faith. He believed God when God told him to build an ark to rescue his family. 

Abraham had faith when God called him to leave his home. Abraham’s wife Sarah had faith when she trusted God to give her a family even though she was too old to have children. Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, and Moses had faith too. Rahab had faith when she hid the Israelite spies in Jericho. 

All of these people trusted God, and so did many others. Having faith was not easy. Many suffered, and they died before God’s greatest promise—the arrival of Jesus—came true, but they believed that God had a wonderful plan. God was pleased with them because they trusted Him.

This week, share the examples of these heroes of faith to help your kids understand faith in action. We can and should learn from these examples; that is why God gave them to us in Hebrews 11. However, emphasize that every person in this list was a sinner in need of salvation. Each of these heroes needed a greater hero. Point your kids to the perfect hero who rescues us from sin: Jesus.

The Bible gives examples of people who had faith, but the true hero of the Bible is Jesus. Jesus looked forward to the joy that would come because of the cross. Because of Jesus, the things the faithful people in the Bible looked forward to will come true. We know that Jesus will come back one day because God always keeps His promises.

A Cheerful Giver

Dear Parents,

Paul had written a letter (1 Corinthians) addressing several sins that were being tolerated in the church at Corinth. The letter had been a risk. The Corinthians may have rejected Paul, but they did not.

Paul wrote 2 Corinthians to celebrate what God had done in the church and to call on them for help. The church in Jerusalem was in desperate need of help, so Paul was collecting money from the other churches on their behalf.

Paul encouraged the Corinthians to be generous. He told them about the churches in Macedonia. Macedonia was an area north of Corinth. The Christians there were suffering, and they did not have a lot of wealth. Nevertheless, they had joy and gave as much as they could to help others.

Paul encouraged the believers at Corinth to give too. Giving is one way we can show we love God. God is generous to us, so we can be generous to others. Jesus was rich; He had glory and honor in heaven. But He gave that up and became poor by coming to earth to help sinners. 

Jesus did this so that we, who had nothing, could become rich. Now we have salvation and eternal life in Jesus. As a result, Paul wanted the Corinthians to give generously and joyfully, out of gratitude for what God has done.

Your kids may feel like the churches in Macedonia who had little to give, but encourage them the same way Paul encouraged the church in Corinth. It is not the amount that we give that glorifies God—it is our level of generosity and joy when we give. 

God has been merciful and generous to us. He gave us the greatest gift—His own Son. Jesus showed us what generosity looks like when He gave up His life to save us from sin. Because of Jesus, we can be merciful and generous to others.

Caution kids not to give out of duty but out of gratitude. God loves a cheerful giver. Help kids find ways they can give—whether time or money or talents—to advance the work of the gospel in your city, your nation, and the world.

The Armor of God

Dear Parents,

Paul knew that following Jesus is difficult. After Paul met Jesus on the road to Damascus, his life was turned upside down and he was never the same. Paul spent the rest of his life struggling and suffering to advance the very gospel that he had denied and fought against before his conversion.

Paul was in prison when he wrote his letter to the believers at the church in Ephesus. Paul knew firsthand that the life of a believer is a battle—an ongoing fight. But Paul didn’t see life as a fight against the Romans, those who had thrown him in prison, or those who opposed the gospel. The battle is against evil.

At the conclusion of his letter, Paul used a Roman soldier’s armor as a picture of how we are to prepare ourselves to fight the battle against evil. Believers are to carry God’s truth, righteousness, and peace wherever we go. Likewise, we are to hold fast to our faith, salvation, and the Word of God. When we are fully protected by this armor of God, we are ready for any battle.

In addition to wearing the armor of God, Paul called on believers to pray at all times. Paul wanted to remind believers that even with the armor of God, we still need to rely on God to protect us and to win the fight against evil.

Paul told believers to be ready to fight a spiritual battle each and every day. People and powers who are against God will be against us too. But Jesus died and rose from the dead. He had victory over evil. We can fight the battle against evil, knowing Jesus already won the war.

This week, show your kids all that God has given them to help them fight against evil. Emphasize that God never intends for us to fight in our own power. We are to rely on His power.

The Fruit of the Spirit

Dear Parents,

When we trust in Jesus, we become children of God and the gospel changes us. Our thinking changes so we can understand what pleases God and know His will. But gospel transformation doesn’t stop there. The gospel also changes how we live each day.

In his letter to the Galatians, Paul described the fruit of the flesh—what a person’s life looks like apart from Christ: anger, jealousy, selfishness, impurity, strife, and similar things. Paul shared that people who live like this will not enter God’s kingdom because this behavior reveals the condition of the person’s heart. These behaviors are the fruit of that person’s sinful heart.

Then Paul told the believers in the Galatian church how to recognize that God is working in someone’s life. He contrasted the fruit of the flesh with the fruit of the Spirit—what a person’s life looks like in Christ: love, joy, peace, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. This is the fruit produced in a person whose heart is changed by Christ.

As you share the fruit of the Spirit with your kids this week, be careful to help them see that this fruit is produced by the Holy Spirit working in them. It is not called the fruit of the Christian. Our response to the fruit of the Spirit should not be to think of ways we can be more loving, joyful, peaceful, or kind. That is mistakenly believing the fruit is produced by us! When we trust in Jesus, the Holy Spirit begins to change us.

When we trust in Jesus, the Holy Spirit begins to change us. Paul told the believers in the Galatian church how to recognize that God is working in someone’s life. People who are saved by Jesus become more like Him, and the Holy Spirit gives them power to say no to sin and to live in a way that pleases God.

Children of God

Dear Parents,

Rome was one of the most important cities in Paul’s day. Paul understood that it was essential that the church in the capital of the Roman Empire be anchored in the gospel. Unlike many of the other churches we read about in the New Testament, Paul didn’t help plant the church in Rome; in fact, he hadn’t even visited yet. Paul was planning his first visit to this important church when he wrote a letter to make sure the believers there properly understood the gospel.

The Book of Romans contains one of the clearest explanations of the gospel in the Bible. Paul opens his letter by explaining the sin problem that plagues us all. He then moves on to share how Jesus’ perfect life, death, and resurrection was sufficient to save people who trust in Jesus.

In Romans 5, people are described as helpless, ungodly, sinners, and enemies apart from Christ. Then, in chapter 8, Paul begins to show how having a relationship with Jesus changes us. He describes believers as children of God in Christ. That’s quite a change!

The gospel doesn’t just spare us from the ultimate consequences of our sin. The gospel doesn’t just make us neutral to God. Because of the gospel, we are adopted by God and have the right and privilege to call God our loving Father. Gently and lovingly explain that God is our perfect Father, a Father who is always there for us and who loves us unconditionally because of His Son, Jesus. Being children of God means we have nothing to fear. Our relationship with God is secure for eternity.

God is changing believers to be more like Jesus. We are God’s children—freed from sin, given power to do what is right, and adopted into God’s family. Because Jesus died on the cross, God the Father welcomes us and promises a future with Him forever.

Paul’s Letters to Church Leaders

Dear Parents,

As the early church expanded outside Jerusalem, new churches were planted in various cities. Each church needed godly leaders to help it grow and stay true to the gospel. Paul understood this need, which is why he wrote letters to some of the leaders in the church. Two of these leaders were Timothy and Titus. Timothy was Paul’s friend. He had traveled with Paul and helped him. Now Timothy was a leader at the church in Ephesus.

Titus was a Gentile believer. He had traveled with Paul too. Now Titus was on the island of Crete to help train more church leaders. Paul wrote to give Timothy and Titus advice, and he gave instructions for all the church leaders.

Paul warned Timothy and Titus that being a leader was difficult at times, but God had chosen them to be leaders. Their role as leaders put them in a position to serve God. Paul hoped that recognizing this would help them persevere and live in a way that pleased Christ.

As you share with your kids this week, help them see the value in God’s gift of church leaders. Look for ways to support your leaders so that your kids value them, love them, and respect them. Consider ways your family can encourage your leaders.

At the same time, emphasize that God is at work in your kids and that they too might be leaders in the church one day—perhaps one day soon. Help your kids see that being a leader is a great privilege to help point others to the gospel.

Finally, be sure that your kids understand that church leaders do not lead on their own. All church leaders follow the leadership of Jesus, who was a servant-leader to us. He gave His life so that we could be forgiven of our sin.

Paul wrote to give Timothy and Titus advice and to help all church leaders know how to lead God’s people. Church leaders help believers know what is true, and they serve the church by following the example of Jesus, who served us by dying on the cross for our sins.

Love One Another

Dear Parents,

The apostle John had been one of Jesus’ closest friends. Along with Peter and James, John was part of the innermost core of Jesus’ disciples. John even referred to himself in his Gospel as “the one whom Jesus loved.”

It is not surprising that 50 years after Jesus returned to heaven, John wrote a letter to help believers understand who Jesus is. At the center of John’s message was one key theme: love. 

John wrote that God is love, and if believers truly love God, then we will love one another. Our love for one another should be so deep that we are willing to lay down our lives for one another just as Jesus did for us. It is this deep, genuine love that will cause the world to understand the reality of the gospel.

Love is misunderstood and distorted in our culture today, and your kids may have been impacted by this in some way. Your kids may see love as just a feeling, as something temporary, or as something that has to be earned. This session is the perfect opportunity to expose the world’s myths about love and remind your kids of the truth about God’s love.

Remind kids that Jesus’ love for them is unconditional and unending. It is not just a feeling. Jesus’ love for us is proven by His death on the cross to rescue them from sin. We can love others because God loved us first.

John wrote a letter to teach believers in the church about the importance of showing love. Love is more than feelings or words—it is an action. Jesus showed God’s love for us when He died on the cross to rescue people from sin.

The Church Showed Favoritism

Dear Parents,

During Jesus’ earthly ministry, many Jews struggled to believe that Jesus was indeed the Messiah, the Son of God. This included James, Jesus’ half-brother. But after Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection, Jesus appeared to James, and at last James believed. James later became the leader of the church in Jerusalem—a vital role in the early, growing church. 

The early church was comprised mostly of Jewish believers. That makes sense because of the church’s origin in Israel but also because that was the mission Jesus gave: start with the Jews and spread out from there. James wrote a letter to these Jewish believers who were scattered around the region, helping them understand how their new faith in Jesus should frame how they live. 

James told his fellow believers that one way they could live out the gospel was by not showing favoritism. James used an example of how a church might show favoritism to a wealthy man over a poor man who came to a meeting. 

The natural response might be to treat the wealthy man better, but James told the believers that God does not show favoritism. God has treated all people—rich and poor—the same: generously with the gospel. God’s kindness toward us should cause us to want to treat others with similar love, generosity, and equality. 

When believers in the early church treated some people as better than others, James told them they were wrong. He reminded them that Jesus commanded believers to love one another. Because He has shown great mercy to us, we can show mercy to others.

This week’s session is a great follow-up to last week’s. Your kids may think that being united is just a matter of getting along with one another and not fighting. But God’s heart is for us to be united far more deeply. Help your kids see that the gospel should compel them to treat one another in the same way—with the same love, mercy, and grace shown to us by Jesus.