Welcome to FaithBuilders!
FaithBuilders is an exciting way for people and for families to connect with each other at the end of each day, to share what is happening in their lives with each other, and to build bridges between their faith and what’s happening in their lives. FaithBuilders is a way for people of all ages to move through the Bible and to think about stories from the Bible that have been a part of the Christian faith for thousands of years. FaithBuilders is something that we can easily incorporate into our daily routines, and it is a daily faith practice that encourages us to talk with each other, to pray with each other about what’s happening in our lives, and to bless each other at the end of each day.
We are going to begin our journey, this year, by spending some time learning about the life of Jesus Christ. This is a great way to learn more about Jesus if you don’t know much about Him right now, and it’s also a great way for parents to introduce stories about Jesus to their children and teenagers. We’re going to be focusing upon only one story each week. And throughout the week, we are going to be pondering several questions that can help us to think more about what we believe more deeply and apply what we believe to our daily lives. If you get off-track, don’t worry about it! Just pick up with the next story when you get started again. This is about learning and growing with people who are an important part of your life.
You might want to use these FaithBuilders steps to help you get started: (1) take a few moments to simply “connect” with another person, or with your children, as bedtime approaches, to simply see how the day went; (2) spend a few minutes reading the story that’s been chosen for the week and talking about one (or more) of the questions that have been provided (or you might want to talk about something else that came into your mind as you read the story); (3) spend a few moments picking something (or even a few things) that you can pray about together; and then, (4) end your time together with a short blessing – realizing that your blessing is one of the most important things that you can offer to another person.
May God richly bless you as you make FaithBuilders a part of your daily routine, and as you continue your journey of faith toward wherever God is leading you.
YEAR A – The Life and Ministry of Jesus Christ
Week 1 – Luke 1:26-38
Do you think that God still has a special plan for our lives, and for the lives of the people that we know and love?
If God has a special plan for our lives, how do we know what that plan is? (After all, God doesn’t always send angels that speak to us, right?)
Mary was told that she was going to bring Jesus into the world. How have you brought Jesus into the world this week?
It’s sometimes scary to do what you think God wants you to do. Where can you find strength and courage to do it?
Why do you think the angel told Mary about Elizabeth?
Week 2 – Luke 2:1-7
We all follow rules and laws that have been written by other people. Who writes the rules and laws that you obey?
Rules and laws aren’t always easy to follow. It wasn’t easy for Mary and Joseph to obey the law and travel through the desert when Mary was ready to have a baby. Can you think of a time when it was hard for you to follow a rule or law? What was that like?
At Christmas, we sometimes see manger scenes in homes, in churches and even in other public places. Why do people put up manger scenes at Christmas?
The king told lots of people to go to Bethlehem. Can you think of a time when you were in a place with a lot of other people, when you needed to stand in line for a long time, or when you had to remain standing because there weren’t any seats left? What was that like?
Lots of different things happen at Christmas: shopping, parties, decorating, singing, etc. How can you make sure that there is room for Jesus in your life and in your home this Christmas?
Week 3 – Luke 2:8-20
Luke’s Gospel tells us that the shepherds “were filled with great fear” (Luke 2:9). What is something that you are afraid of? What does it feel like to be afraid?
The angels told the shepherds, “Fear not!” (Luke 2:10) How can knowing that God is with you help you in times when you are afraid?
We often call Jesus our “Savior.” What is something that you need to be saved from, right now?
What is something that you can do on Christmas morning to help you to remember that Christmas is about Jesus? (FaithBuilders Idea: What would it be like to start the day on Christmas by reading Luke 2:1-20 as a family?)
Why do you think the shepherds returned to their places of work “glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen” (Luke 2:20)? How will you return to school, or to work in the days following Christmas, this year?
Week 4 – Matthew 2:1-12
Have you ever taken trip where you needed to sit in a car or an airplane for a long period of time? How do you think the person who was driving the car (or flying the airplane) knew where to go?
Can you think of a way that God pointed you in the right direction one day? What was that like?
Why do you think King Herod was “troubled” when he heard that a child, who was going to be the “King of the Jews,” was born?
How do you think the Wise Men felt after they had been traveling for a long time and finally got to the place where they wanted to be?
Why do you think King Herod wanted to know where the baby that the Wise Men were seeking could be found?
Why do you think the Wise Men left “by another road”?
Week 5 – Luke 2:22-40
How did your parents choose your name?
Many people in the Lutheran Church are baptized when they are still babies. Why did your parents want to have you baptized? What are some things that your parents promised to do on the day you were baptized?
What was it like to wait for Christmas this year? Why is it harder to wait for something “really big” (like the summer break from school – or a family vacation) than it is to wait for something that’s not “really big”?
How does it feel when something happens that you’ve wanted to see happen for a long time? How do you think Simeon felt when he saw Jesus?
Why do you think people come to worship? Why do you think Anna spent so much time praying?
Week 6 – Matthew 2:13-23
Do you think God still talks to people and tells them what God wants them to do?
If you believe that God still talks to people, what do you think the voice of God sounds like? How do you know that you’re really hearing a message from God?
Why do you think that King Herod was so upset when he heard that another King had been born?
Do you think people with a lot of power are sometimes afraid of other people who have a lot of power? Why?
Why do you think bad things happen to good people? Do you think God decides to “zap” people from Heaven? Do you think people suffer because other people decide to do things that hurt them?
What is something that you could do this week to help people to suffer less?
Week 7 – Luke 2:41-52
What is the Feast of the Passover? (This is a great week to review the story of the Exodus – Exodus 10:1—12:14)
Why do you think it’s important for parents to help their children learn about and come to know God?
Martin Luther began his Small Catechism with the words: “As the head of the family should teach them in a simple way to his/[her] household.” How can FaithBuilders help parents fulfill the promises that they made on the day that their child/children was/were baptized?
Why do you think that 12-year-old Jesus was listening and asking questions in the Temple? How can listening and asking questions help us to learn about God? What questions about God would you like to ask?
Big parts of the life of Jesus are missing in the Bible. We, first, meet Jesus as an infant. We see Jesus when He is 12 years old. Then, Jesus appears, at about the age of 30, and begins His ministry. Why do you think that parts of Jesus’ life are missing from the Bible?
Week 8 – Matthew 3:1-12
John the Baptizer was a rather scary and gruff man who called people to change the ways they act and behave. Why do you think John told people that they need to change the way they act and behave?
The Church talks a lot about something called “sin.” How would you define the word “sin”? Why is it so hard for us to admit when we’ve done something wrong?
John the Baptizer called some people who believed that they were doing everything “right” a bunch of snakes. Why do you think that some religious people believe that they are better than people who aren’t religious?
John the Baptizer told people that Jesus would come into the world with a “winnowing fork in His hands.” What is a winnowing fork? Why do people use a winnowing fork?
What is “chaff”? Why would farmers want to separate the grains of wheat from the chaff before storing it in a barn? Does chaff have a useful purpose? If so, what is it?
Week 9 – John 1:29-34
John the Baptizer told other people that Jesus was a part of God’s plan and that Jesus was doing something very important. What is something that you are doing that is important? What makes it important?
John was, also, a person who encouraged Jesus in His ministry. Can you name someone who encourages you?
A lot of people need to be encouraged these days. Can you think of someone who needs to be encouraged by you? How could you encourage that person?
God has a special plan for all of our lives. Can you think of a way that God is working in your life right now?
One of the ways that we can encourage others and help them to see that they’re doing something important is to simply say, “Thank you.” How often do you say, “Thank you’? Who could you say “Thank you” to tomorrow?
Take a moment to read: Hebrews 10:24. What is being said in this verse of the Bible? How can we do that?
Week 10 – Luke 4:1-13
What does the word “temptation” mean? Who are some people who are encouraging you to do bad things?
God filled Jesus with the Holy Spirit before the devil tries to get Him to do bad things. How do you think God helps you to make good decisions and choices?
Jesus quotes the Bible three different times while He is being tempted to do the wrong thing. How can reading and learning more about the Bible help you when you’re being led in the wrong direction?
In this week’s reading, we’re reminded that the devil (and other people) can twist what the Bible says when they want to lead us in the wrong direction. What are some things you can do to make sure that that doesn’t happen to you? Who is helping you understand the Bible?
This week’s reading ends with the words: “and when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from Him until an opportune time.” What does that mean? Do you think that we can be tempted to do the wrong thing more than once? (You may want to explore: Luke 22:39-46)
Week 11 – John 1:35-51
John the Baptizer was one of the first people to figure out that Jesus was special. Why do you think that John called Jesus the “Lamb of God”?
In the story of Great Passover (Exodus 12:1-13), Moses tells the people that when God sees the blood of a lamb on their doorpost, the Angel of Death will “pass over” their home. Jesus died on a cross, so that God will pass over (forgive) the things we do wrong. What similarities do you see between these two stories?
This week’s story is filled with people who point others toward Jesus. John points people toward Jesus. Andrew points Peter to Jesus, and then Philip points Nathaniel to Jesus. Who are some people who are pointing you toward Jesus right now? Take a moment to say a prayer for those people today.
People were told to “come and see” Jesus. What are some ways that we can invite others to “come and see” Jesus today? (You might want to talk about the fact that 88% of those who visit a church for the first time are brought there by someone that they know.)
Week 12 – John 2:1-11
Have you ever been to a wedding reception? What are some things that you remember about it?
How do you think someone who invited a lot of people to a birthday party would feel if all of the food was eaten by the guests before the party was over?
Jesus tells His mother, “What concern is that to you and to Me? My hour has not yet come.” What do you think Jesus means when He says that? When is Jesus’ hour?
The steward at the wedding in Cana of Galilee said, “Everyone serves the good wine first, and then the inferior wine after the guests have become drunk. But you have kept the good wine until now.” What do you think the steward means when he talks about the water that Jesus turned into wine in that way?
Week 13 – Luke 4:13-30
Jesus went to a synagogue on the Sabbath. Synagogues are places where people come each week to learn about God. Name three reasons why people come to Sunday School and worship on Sundays.
Jesus said that He came to bring good news to the poor, to proclaim freedom to captives and to bring a message of freedom to those who are hurt by people who are more powerful than they are. What are some of the ways that our church is doing that today?
Why do you think people who were listening to Jesus got mad when He talked about God helping people that they didn’t think are as “good” as they are? (verses 25-28)
What do you think Jesus meant when He told people: “No prophet is acceptable in his own hometown”? We usually think of Jesus as a man who was kind and loving. Why would people want to throw a person like that off the top a cliff?
Week 14 – Mark 1:21-34
Have you ever stood up to a bully (or to someone else) who was making another person’s life difficult? Why do you think Jesus tells the impure spirit to be quiet? Would you ever be that brave?
Jesus told an impure spirit to leave a person who was being troubled by it and the impure spirit listened to Him. What do you think this says about Jesus’ power? Can you think of a place in your life (or in someone else’s life) where Jesus’ power is needed today? Take some time to pray about that.
Have you ever been sick? We see Simon taking care of someone who is very sick in this reading. Who helps take care of you when you are sick? How do other people help you to get better? Take some time to pray for someone who helps take care of you today.
Jesus healed many people who were sick and whose lives were being ruined by impure spirits. Do you think it’s fair that some people were healed and others were not? How do you think Jesus decided who to help?
Can you think of a few people who need Jesus to heal them today? Take some time to prayer for those people.
Week 15 – John 3:1-21
Nicodemus came to talk to Jesus “at night.” Why do you think Nicodemus didn’t just come to talk with Jesus in the middle of the day?
Have you ever had a time when you really liked someone and wanted to be his/her friend but were afraid to be that person’s friend because you were afraid that your other friends wouldn’t like you anymore?
Jesus tells Nicodemus that people need to be born again. If mothers do all of the hard work to give birth to children and babies do nothing at all, why do you think so many people believe that being “born again” is about making a choice or doing something for ourselves?
Take a few moments to read Numbers 21:4-9. How can this unusual story from the Old Testament help you to understand why Jesus died on the Cross?
This week’s story tells us that God did not send Jesus into our world to condemn it. God sent Jesus into our world to save it. What are some things that we need to be saved from today? Take some time to pray that.
Week 16 – John 4:4-42
What do you think it would be like to live in a place where you need to walk many miles every time you need water?
Sometimes, when we have a lot of something and are not afraid that what we have will run out, we can become very wasteful. Can you think of a way that you waste water? How could you stop doing that?
Our church provides equipment and supplies that people need to dig wells in a place called Madagascar. Can you find Madagascar on a map? Why do you think our church is digging wells for people in other countries?
Have you ever been really thirsty? What does it feel like when you’re thirsty? How do you feel after you drink a large glass of cold water?
What do you think Jesus means when He tells a woman that He’ll give her “living water”? What is “living water”?
Can you think of any ways God is providing something you need? What if God never made water for us?
Can you think of something God gives to you that will last forever? What is it? How does it make you feel when you think about what God has given to you?
What is “Eternal Life”? Where does it come from?
Week 17 – Matthew 8:5-13
Have you ever prayed for another person? Why do you think people pray for others when they’re going through hard times? Is there someone you could pray for today?
A centurion is a Roman soldier who commands a group of 100 soldiers. Centurions tell other people what to do. Why do you think that the centurion did not simply tell Jesus what to do? Have you ever tried to tell God what to do? Did it work?
Sometimes when we pray, we tell God what we want God to do. What can we learn from this story about prayer and about how to pray for other people?
We don’t know if the centurion’s servant knew that he went to Jesus to ask for help, or not. Have you ever prayed for someone secretly? Can you name some people in your life who might be praying for you without letting you know?
Make a list of people that you can pray for this week. And then, divide your list into seven groups. Pray for one of the groups of people each night before you go to bed.
Week 18 – Matthew 8:23-27
Have you ever been in a boat? What are some things you remember about being in a boat (Did it rock back and forth? Did it make your stomach feel weird? How did it feel when you got out of the boat and started to walk on the land again?)?
A great storm arose on the sea and the disciples were afraid. What are some things that scare you? What does it feel like when you are scared?
The disciples were very scared when the storm arose, but Jesus was asleep. Have you ever slept through a storm? Have you ever been unable to go to sleep because of a storm? If you couldn’t go to sleep during a storm, why couldn’t you do it?
After the disciples awakened Jesus, He said to them: “Why are you afraid? Don’t you have faith?” How can trusting in the fact that God is going to take care of you help you when you are afraid? If you’re scared about something right now, take a few moments to say a little prayer and to talk with God about it.
Why do you think the disciples were amazed when Jesus calmed the storm? Can you think of a time when Jesus took away something that was scaring you? How can remembering that God was with you help you to face other scary times?
Week 19 – Luke 8:40-56
Jairus, a ruler of the synagogue, came to Jesus to ask Him to help his daughter, who was very sick. Have you ever prayed for someone who is sick? Why do you think people pray for people when they are sick?
While Jesus was on his way to Jairus’ house, another woman who was sick secretly touched His clothes. Why do you think the woman did that? Why didn’t she just ask Jesus for help?
When Jesus said that He knew someone had touched His garments because He had felt power go out of Himself, why do you think the woman was afraid to admit what she had done?
While Jesus was still traveling to Jairus’ house, a messenger arrived to tell Him that Jairus’ daughter was already dead. Why do you think Jesus didn’t just turn around and go back home? Why did Jesus continue to travel to Jairus’ house?
What would you say if someone told you that a person who is dead is just sleeping? Why do you think you would respond in that way?
After Jesus brought Jairus’ daughter back to life, He told her parents that they were not allowed to tell anybody about what had happened. Why do you think Jesus told them that? Why wouldn’t Jesus want them to tell everyone else what happened? Would you have trouble keeping a secret like that?
Week 20: John 6:1-15
Can you think of a time when a lot of people came to your house for a meal? How many people were sitting at the table? How much food needed to be prepared? Was there any food left at the end of the meal? What happened to the extra food?
Jesus used the five barley loaves and two fish that He got from a little boy to do a wonderful thing. Can you think of something in your life that Jesus could use to do something great? What is it?
A denarius (plural: denarii) was the amount of money that a worker was paid for an entire day’s work. (see: Matthew 20:2) And thus, when Philip spoke about 200 denarii, he was saying that almost 7 months of an average worker’s wages would not be enough money to buy a little bit of food for the people who had gathered. How many days each month do the people in your family have to work to buy food for you to eat (you may need a calculator to figure that out)? What would happen if you didn’t have enough money? Do you know anybody who doesn’t have enough money to buy the food that they need? How could you help that person?
We sometimes don’t think that God can use our gifts, talents and financial resources to do much. And yet, the story of the feeding of the five thousands reminds us that God can do wonderful things with whatever we have. How can this truth encourage you to share whatever you have? What is something little that you can do this week that God could use to make a big difference in someone else’s life?
The people who saw Jesus feed five thousand people wanted to make Him a king, but Jesus didn’t want them to do that. Many people would like other people to call them their king. Why do you think that Jesus didn’t want to be their king?
What is something that you could do this week, quietly and secretly, that would help another person – without calling attention to yourself?
Week 21 – Matthew 14:22-33
Jesus was a very busy man, and people wanted Jesus to do things for them almost everywhere He went. Why do you think Jesus withdrew from the crowds and “went up on the mountain by Himself”? (Matthew 14:23) (It might be helpful to remember that, in the Bible, God often speaks to people while they are on the top of mountains.)
Do you have a regular time when you withdraw from the busyness in your life to spend time alone with God? What do you do during that time?
Why do you think the disciples thought Jesus was a ghost when He walked toward them on top of the water in the middle of the storm?
Jesus tells His disciples, “Do not be afraid.” (Matthew 14:27) Is there something that is scaring you right now? Where do you find strength during the times in your life when you are afraid?
When Jesus told Peter to get out of the boat and walk on top of the water, He was asking Peter to do something that people can’t do all by themselves. Has God ever called you to do something that you didn’t think you could do? Why do you think Peter stepped out of the boat when he knew that people can’t stand on top of water? What is faith?
Why do you think the disciples worshipped Jesus and called Him the “Son of God” after they saw Him walking on top of the water and calming the storm? Do you believe that Jesus is the “Son of God”? Why?
Week 22 – Luke 9:18-27
Sometimes we pray when we are alone and sometimes we pray with other people. Do you have times when you pray alone? Do you think it’s important to pray with other people? Why, or why not?
People were confused and said all kinds of things about Jesus. What did Peter mean when he said that Jesus is “the Christ.” What does the word “Christ” mean?
Jesus told His disciples that He was going to suffer and be rejected and be killed and be raised on the third day. What are some things that we do in the Church during the seasons of Lent and Easter to remember that?
Many people call the hard times in their lives their “crosses to bear.” And yet, Jesus says that our cross is something that we “take up.” Have you ever done something for someone else that made your life more difficult? Is there someone that you think God wants you to help right now; and yet, you are afraid that, if you do what you think God wants you to do, it might make your life more difficult?
We all like to play it safe and live our lives in peace. What do you think Jesus means when He says: “For whoever loses his/her life for My sake will find it”? What do you think Jesus meant when He said that?
Week 23 – Matthew 17:1-13
In this week’s story, Jesus takes the disciples to the top of a mountain. Why do you think that this story takes place on the top of a mountain? (You might want to, also, read: Exodus 3:1-6, Exodus 19:1-6, and Matthew 5:1-12) What happens to people when they are on the top of a mountain in the Bible?
Have you ever had a time in your life when you experienced God’s presence in a way that you had never experienced it at any other time? What happened? Have you ever shared what happened with another person?
Why do you think God spoke from a cloud? (see: Exodus 20:1-19)
Have you ever been asked to keep something that you saw a secret? How do you know when it’s OK to keep secrets and when you need to share things that you are keeping secret with another person?
Why do you think that Jesus didn’t want the disciples to tell other people what they had seen until after He had been raised from the dead? How do you know when it’s OK to share a secret that you know? Do you have a secret that you think you need to share with another person, right now? What is stopping you?
Week 24 – Matthew 18:1-6
How would you define the word: Great? Can you think of someone that you think is great? What makes you think that person is great?
Why do you think Jesus called children great? Can you name some of the things that children lose as they grow older? Why do you think it’s easier for children to trust other people than it is for adults to do the same thing? Why do you think children can so easily forgive each other and remain friends with other children even after they’ve been hurt? What can a child teach you about how to live as an adult?
What is a millstone? How much do millstones weigh? What would happen to you if someone tied a millstone around your neck and threw you into deep water?
Why do you think Jesus is so serious about how adults care for children?
What are some ways that adults teach children to sin? What would a child learn by watching how you treat others? What would a child learn by listening to the words you use when you speak about other people? Why do you think it’s so important for adults to be role models that children can imitate as they grow? What’s something that you want little children to learn from you?
Week 25 – Luke 10:25-37
Why do you think the man who questioned Jesus wanted to know what he needed to do to inherit eternal life? (Luke 10:25) Have you ever wondered about that? Do you believe that you need to do more good things than bad things in order to go to Heaven when you die? What do you think St. Paul means when he tells us that we are made right in the eyes of God, despite what we’ve done, because of God’s great love for us? (Romans 3:23-24) Do St. Paul’s words challenge what you think?
What do you think the Bible means when it says that the man who questioned Jesus wanted to justify himself? (Luke 10:29) What does the word “justify” mean? Why do you think people believe that they can make themselves right in the eyes of God?
Why do you think that people walked past the man who had been hurt by robbers and who had been left alone on the side of the road? Why do you think that people sometimes don’t help people who need help from someone else? Have you ever not helped someone? If so, what stopped you from helping that person?
Samaritans were considered to be outcasts in traditional Jewish circles. How do you think people felt when Jesus said that an outcast was willing to help a man that the religious people were not willing to help? Why do you think the religious people in this story didn’t help the injured man? What does it mean to be “religious”? Do you think people can be “religious,” but not do what God wants them to do?
What does it mean for us to be a neighbor to each other? How could you be a better neighbor, right now?
How do the words of Jesus at the end of this story challenge you? How is your faith challenged when Jesus tells you to go into the world and show mercy? (Luke 10:37)
Week 26 – John 11:1-46
We often expect God to listen to our prayers and to give us the things that we ask God to give us very quickly. Why do you think Jesus didn’t immediately rush to the bedside of Lazarus when He heard that Lazarus was sick? (John 11:4-7) Have you ever wondered why Jesus didn’t help somebody that you know who was sick?
Lazarus was already dead by the time Jesus arrived. Have you ever known a person who died? What does it feel like when someone that you know dies? Why do you think people came to comfort Mary and Martha after Lazarus died? (John 11:19)
Have you ever gone to a funeral home? Why do you think people do that?
What is grief? What is something that you could say someone who is grieving?
Why do you think Jesus cried when He got to the tomb of Lazarus? (John 11:35) Did you know that Jesus was a man who sometimes cried? What does the fact that Jesus was a man who cried tell you about Him? Do you think it’s OK for you to cry?
Jesus promises us that God is going to raise us up and take us to Heaven after we die. What does “resurrection” mean? (John 11:25) What do you think Heaven is like? How can the fact that Jesus has promised to raise us from the dead help you when you’re grieving?
Week 27 – Mark 10:13-16
Christian adults talk about children being “the future of the Church”; but, in this story, Jesus invites children of all ages to come to Him. Do you think children are a part of the Church, right now? If so, what’s one way that you (or your church) make children feel welcome when they attend worship?
Why do you think Jesus was angry with the disciples when they became impatient with adults who were bringing their children to see Jesus? Why do some people become impatient when parents bring their children to worship, today? Ask a child if he/she feels welcome during worship. What can little children teach adults about hospitality? How can children challenge us to think about the ways that we behave?
Many Christians believe that it’s important for children to grow up and to become adults who are faithful and responsible; but, Jesus said that faithful and responsible adults need to become more like children. Why do you think Jesus said that? What do you think children could teach you about life, right now?
What does it mean to “receive the kingdom of God like a child”? (Mark 10:15)
Jesus shows us that it’s important for us to bless each other. Take a few moments to place your hands on another person’s head and to ask God to bless that person this week. What is it like to bless someone? What is it like to be blessed by another person? How does it feel when someone puts his/her hands on top of your head?
Week 28 – Matthew 19:16-30
Have you ever wondered if you are good enough to go to Heaven? When we think that we go to Heaven because we have done more good things than bad things, we are left with a question: How can we know when we’ve done enough good things? How would you answer that question?
Jesus points the rich man back to the Ten Commandments when He tells him how he should be living. How many of the Ten Commandments can you name? Take some time to review and learn the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:1-17); so that, by the end of the week, you can name all ten of them.
The rich young man tells Jesus that he follows the Ten Commandments. Why do you think that the rich man thought that it was important for him to do that? Have you ever tried to convince another person that you are good? If so, why did you do that?
Jesus tells the rich young man: “If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in Heaven.” (Matthew 19:21) Why do you think that Jesus’ words made the rich man sorrowful? (Matthew 19:22)
Jesus said: “Only with difficulty will a rich person enter the Kingdom of Heaven. It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of God.” (Matthew 19:23-24) Do you think that money is bad? If not, why do you think Jesus said these words?
Jesus tells us that the first will be last, and the last will be first. What do you think He means when He says that? Have you ever tried really hard to be the first person in a line? How does it feel to be the first person in a line? How does it feel to be the last person in a line? Can you think of any people who always seem to be last in the line? Why do you think Jesus says that people who have lived their lives being last in the line are going to be first in the line in Heaven? Is there a way that you can help someone who is last in the line to feel both important and loved this week?
Week 29 – Luke 7:36-50
Jesus was able to attract a wide variety of people. Who do you think Jesus attracts today? Why do you think people are still attracted to Jesus? How did you first hear about Jesus? What draws you to Jesus?
Have you ever thrown a party? What would you do if someone that you didn’t like came to one of your parties? Would you just continue the party? Would you ask the person to leave? Would you would feel upset, but not say anything? Why would you do that?
Why do you think the Pharisee was so upset when the uninvited woman walked into his dinner-party with Jesus? What is a sinner? Why do you think that some people don’t think that other people deserve to be called “special”? What would it feel like if other people kept telling you that Jesus doesn’t think that you are special? Who makes you feel special, right now? Have you ever done something so bad that it made you wonder if Jesus still loves you and thinks that you are special?
Have you ever owed somebody money? What do you think it would be like to owe someone so much money that you could never repay what you borrowed? What do you think it would be like if the person who had loaned you the money said, “I have decided to forget about the money that I loaned to you.”?
Jesus came into the world to forgive our sins, so that we can live at peace with God. Have you ever needed Jesus to forgive you? Did Jesus do it? Is there something that you need Jesus to forgive, right now? Take some time to pray about that.
Week 30 – Matthew 21:1-11
Have you ever heard of Palm Sunday? Take some time to read and to think about the story of Palm Sunday this week.
Why did Jesus come into Jerusalem riding on a donkey? (Hint: Riding into a city on a donkey symbolized the arrival of peace in the time of Jesus. Kings who were waging war rode into cities on the back of horses.) What was the crowd supposed to think when Jesus rode into town on a donkey? Do you think the Roman soldiers would have immediately arrested Jesus if He had ridden into Jerusalem on the back of a horse? Why, or why not?
Why did the people in Jerusalem throw pieces of clothing and palm branches in front of Jesus is this story? (Hint: Palm branches symbolized goodness and victory. People also threw pieces of their clothing before kings.) What were people thinking when they threw pieces of clothing and palm branches in front of Jesus as He rode into town?
Have you ever been given a palm during a worship service? Have you ever made a cross out of the palm that you were given? Why did you do that? What do you think churches do with the palms that aren’t given away on Palm Sunday? (Here’s a link to a video that answers that question: Click here to watch the video)
Have you ever been in a parade? What do you think it feels like when people cheer for you? Has anyone ever cheered for you? If someone has cheered for you, why do you think that they cheered?
Have you ever asked someone to let you borrow something valuable? Has anyone ever refused to lend you something? What would stop someone from lending you something valuable?
A donkey was very valuable in the time of Jesus and the man who loaned Jesus his donkey must have trusted Jesus a lot. What is trust? Is it easy for you to trust other people, or is it hard for you to trust other people? Why?
The people in Jerusalem shouted, “Hosanna!” What does hosanna mean? Take some time to figure that out this week. Why do you think that people shouted, “Hosanna!” when Jesus came riding into Jerusalem on the back of a donkey?
Week 31 – Mark 11:15-19
Have you ever been angry? What does it feel like when you are angry? Did you know that Jesus sometimes got angry?
People needed to use special money when they brought offerings to the Temple in the days of Jesus because regular money was considered to be unclean. The people in the Temple, called moneychangers, exchanged regular money for Temple money, sometimes offering people only a few cents for every dollar that they wanted to exchange. Do you think that was fair? Why would that make Jesus angry?
What do you think Jesus meant when He said, “God’s house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations”? Do you think that everybody who comes to worship in a church is welcomed? If not, why do you think that’s true? What does it mean for a church to be “a house of prayer for all nations” today? What does it mean for us to be “Christ’s Church for All People”?
Have you ever had a time when you were so angry that you wanted to hurt another person? The chief priests and scribes were angry when they saw Jesus overturning the tables outside the Temple in Jerusalem and wanted to “destroy” Jesus. What does it mean to destroy something? What do you think the chief priests and scribes had in mind when they said that they wanted to “destroy” Jesus?
Jesus was ultimately killed because He made so many people angry, and Christians are still being killed today. Why do you think people wanted to kill Jesus? Why do you think people still want to kill Christians today?
Week 32 – Mark 12:41-44
What is a widow? Do you know anybody who is a widow? Take some time to pray for someone who has recently lost her/his husband or wife today.
Did you know that, in the time of Jesus, a man passed his wealth to his oldest son when he died, even when that left his surviving wife in poverty? Do you know what poverty is? What do you think it’s like to not have enough money to buy the things that you need? How can you help somebody who doesn’t have enough money? (This would be a great week to talk about the Church, charities and food banks.)
We collect an offering during every worship service. Why do you think people put money into the offering plate during worship services? What are some things that churches do with the money that they collect during worship services?
What does it mean to “contribute out of your abundance” (Mark 12:44)? How do you think people decide how much money that are going to give to the Church?
Why do you think the widow in this week’s story put everything that she owned into the collection plate in the Temple? What are some ways that you can give everything that you are to God? Pray about that this week.
Week 33 – Matthew 22:34-40
How many of the Ten Commandments can you name? (see Exodus 20:1-21)
Why do you think the Pharisees were trying to “test” Jesus (Matthew 22:35) in this week’s story? Have you ever asked someone a question that you knew would be hard to answer? What was that question? How would you answer the question that you asked? Remember: Our questions do not always have easy answers.
Why do you think that the Pharisees called Jesus: “Teacher”? (Matthew 22:36) Do you think Jesus is a teacher? If so, what do you think Jesus has to teach you? What would you do if you didn’t agree with something that Jesus is trying to teach you?
Jesus tells the Pharisees that the greatest commandment is to love God with all your heart and soul and mind. What are some things that people do when they love God? When you think about God, what pictures come to mind? Is God a scary man sitting on a chair somewhere in the sky with a long, white beard? Are you afraid of God? Is God your friend? Why do you think you picture God in the way that you do?
Jesus tells the Pharisees that a second commandment is just like the first: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” How do people show you that they love you? Who is your neighbor? What is something that you can do today to let somebody know that you love him/her? What’s something special that you can do for somebody today?
What does it feel like to be in love? Is there somebody that you are finding hard to love, right now? Why is it hard for you to love that person? Pray about that today.
Week 34 – John 13:1-14
What is the Passover? (You may want to read: Exodus 12:1-14) Jesus was arrested and was dragged away at the time of the Passover. Why do you think Jesus was arrested during the Passover? What does that tell us about Jesus?
Have you ever heard someone call Jesus the “Lamb of God”? Why would people refer to Jesus as a lamb? (Hint: Lambs were sacrificed to God many years ago, so that God would forgive people’s sins. What does that tell us about Jesus?)
Why do people take a bath? Has someone else ever given you a bath? What was that like?
Jesus washed the disciples’ feet. Ask someone if he/she would allow you to wash his/her feet this week. How did the person respond when you asked him/her to allow you to wash his/her feet? What was it like? Ask the person who allowed you to wash his/her feet if he/she would wash your feet. What was that feel like?
Peter didn’t want Jesus to wash his feet. Why do you think that he didn’t want Jesus to wash his feet? Why did Peter eventually allow Jesus to wash his feet? (Read: John 13:8-9)
Why do you think Jesus tells His disciples that they should wash each other’s feet? Have you ever seen someone wash another person’s feet during a worship service? Why would people wash each other’s feet during a worship service?
Week 35 – Luke 22:7-34
Take some time to think about the story of the Passover again. Why was Jesus killed during the Passover? Take some time to review last week’s questions.
“On the night in which He was betrayed, our Lord Jesus took bread and gave thanks, broke it and gave it to His disciples saying: ‘Take this and eat it. This is My body which is given for you.’ In the same way, also, He took the cup and gave thanks, and gave it to His disciples saying: ‘This cup is the new covenant in My blood which is shed for you and for all people for the forgiveness of sins. Do this in remembrance of Me.” Have you ever heard those words during a worship service? What does the pastor do when he/she is saying those words? Why do we celebrate Holy Communion?
According to Jesus, what is the Bread during Holy Communion? What is the Wine? If the Bread is the “body of Christ” and the Wine is the “blood of Christ,” does it make sense to say that Jesus is with us when we share Holy Communion? This is called: Real Presence.
What does it mean to be great? Do you want to be great one day? What do you think people who want to be great need to do? What do you think Jesus means when he says: “Let the greatest among you become as the youngest, and the leader as one who serves.”
Why do you think Peter pretended that he didn’t know Jesus in this week’s story? It’s often easiest to remain silent when someone else is being hurt because none of us wants to get into trouble for standing up to a bully. Have you ever remained silent while you watched a person bully someone else? If so, why did you do that? What is something that you could have done differently? Pray about that today.
Week 36 – Matthew 26:36-56
Have you ever had to wait while somebody was doing something? Was it easy to do it, or was it hard to do it? What did you do while you were waiting?
Jesus asks God to take “this cup” away from Him several times in this week’s reading. What was the “cup” that Jesus was asking God to take away? Have you ever asked God to take away something that was happening in your life, or in the life of someone that you love? Did God do it? Why do you think God did (or didn’t) do it? Pray about that today.
What do you think Jesus meant when He said, “The Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners”? What was going to happen to Jesus? Why was it going to happen to Jesus?
Judas led a great crowd, including Roman soldiers, to Jesus. Why do you think the people came to Jesus carrying swords and clubs? Were they expecting a fight? Why do you think that Jesus and His followers didn’t put up a fight when the people came to arrest Jesus?
One of the disciples took out his sword and cut the ear off of one of the people who came to arrest Jesus. What do you think Jesus meant when He said, “For all who take the sword will perish by the sword”? What do you think Jesus meant when He said that He was being arrested so that “the Scriptures may be fulfilled”?
Week 37 – Matthew 27:1-26
Have you ever done something that you wished you hadn’t done? What are some things you could have done to make it right again? Do you think it’s too late to make things right, now? Why, or why not?
This week, we hear a story about a man who was so sad that he killed himself. Why do you think he decided to do that? Can you think of something else that he could have done? Do you think Jesus stopped loving Judas after Judas betrayed Him? Why, or why not?
This week’s story tells us that a very large group of people asked Pilate to crucify Jesus and to let a prisoner named Barabbas go free. Do you think that everyone in the crowd wanted Jesus to be killed? If not, why didn’t those people speak up? Have you ever remained silent when you knew that something bad was happening because you wanted to fit in with the rest of a crowd? Why do you think you did that? Pray about that today.
The Bible is a book that talks about God speaking to people in dreams (see Genesis 37:5 and Genesis 41:1-25). In Matthew 27:19, Pilate’s wife tells him that he should not have anything to do with what was happening. Have you ever had a time when you thought that God was telling you what you should (or, should not) do something? What happened? Why did you think that it was God who was speaking to you? What did you do?
In Matthew 27:24, Pilate washes his hands in a bowl of water. Why do you think Pilate washed his hands? What do you think Pilate meant when he said, “I am innocent of this man’s blood”? What is a sin? How do we get rid of our sins? Can we just wash our sins away with water?
We say that our sins are washed away in the waters of Holy Baptism. Can you remember anything about the day when you were baptized? If not, see if you can find someone who can tell you more about the day when you were baptized this week. You may even want to mark the day when you were baptized on a calendar, so that you can celebrate the day of your Baptism every year.
Week 38 – Mark 14:66-72
Have you ever told a lie? Why do you think people tell lies?
What is a bully? Why do you think bullies get away with bullying other people?
Have you ever had a time when you saw someone bullying another person? What did you do? And, no matter what you did, why did you choose to do that?
Why do you think Peter was afraid to admit that he knew Jesus? What do you think would have happened to Peter if he had admitted that he was one of Jesus’ closest friends?
What does it mean to be someone’s friend? Have you ever done something that caused a friendship to end? What did you do? What do you think would happen if you told the person that you hurt that you’re sorry about what you did? Pray about that.
Week 39 – John 19:17-37
Many Christians wear a cross around their necks. Why do you think the cross is a symbol that Christians wear? Why do you think that Christians wear crosses?
Many people do not realize that Jesus was crucified because Pontius Pilate viewed Jesus as a political figure who was a threat to the Roman ruler who was called Caesar. How does the fact that Pilate ordered the words, “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews,” highlight this truth? Many people in the Church say that pastors and other leaders should not be “political” in their preaching and teaching. Have you ever thought about the fact that Jesus was a political figure? What kind of political statements did Jesus make?
Why do you think Mary (the mother of Clopas), Mary Magdalene and Mary (the mother of Jesus) remained with Jesus while He was dying on the Cross? Have you ever spent time with someone that you knew was dying? If so, why did you do that?
This week’s reading says that the people did not want Jesus and the two criminals who were crucified with Him to be left on their crosses on the Sabbath. Why do you think the Roman soldiers were ordered to break the legs of the men who were being crucified? Why do you think they didn’t break Jesus’ legs? How is that related to the story of Easter?
People who have witnessed an event are sometimes called to testify in court, so that people on a jury will know what happened and know the truth. In Matthew 19:35, we read: “He who saw it has borne witness – his testimony is true, and he knows he is telling the truth – that you also may believe.” How does reading the Bible help you to learn about God? How can reading the Bible each day help to strengthen your faith?
Week 40 – Matthew 27:57-66
Last week, we saw that the Roman soldiers didn’t break Jesus’ legs because Jesus was already dead by the time that they got to Him. Have you ever known someone who died? What do you think happens when a person dies? Why do you think that some people are afraid to die? Do you think Jesus was afraid to die? Why, or why not?
A man named Joseph asked Pilate to allow him to bury Jesus in a tomb that he had bought. Why do you think we bury people after they die? Have you ever been to a funeral service or to a cemetery? If so, what are some things that you remember about it? Why do you think we have funeral services and cemeteries?
Joseph rolled a large stone in front of the Tomb after he put Jesus’ body inside of the tomb that he had purchased (Matthew 27:60). Why do you think that that wasn’t enough for the chief priests and Pharisees? Why do you think the chief priests and Pharisees asked Pilate to have his soldiers guard Jesus’ tomb (Hint: Matthew 27:64)? Why do you think that the chief priests and Pharisees wanted to make sure that Jesus’ body was still in the Tomb on the third day?
If you lock something inside a box and ask someone to make sure that nobody gets into the box, do you think that what you put into the box will still be inside of it the next time that you open it? Do you think that the Roman guards would have noticed if the disciples had come to the Tomb in the middle of the night and had tried to steal Jesus’ body? If the Roman soldiers were guarding the Tomb and knew that nobody had gotten into it, do you think that they believed that the body of Jesus was still inside the Tomb that they were guarding? Why, or why not?
Week 41 – Matthew 28:1-15
We read, in the story of Easter, that Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the Tomb “toward the dawn of the first day of the week,” (Matthew 28:1) which means that Jesus was raised from the dead sometime in the middle of the night. Many people find it hard to believe that God’s working in their lives during dark and difficult times. How can the Good News that God works “in the dark” encourage you today?
The Jewish community continues to teach that Saturday is the Sabbath. Why do you think Christians celebrate the Sabbath on Sunday?
We hear that an angel of the Lord came down from Heaven and rolled back the stone on the first Easter morning. How would you describe an angel? What do you think angels look like? Do you think that angels are at work in the world today? If so, what kinds of things are they doing?
The angel said, “Do not be afraid,” to the women who saw it. (Matthew 28:5) Jesus says the same thing to the women who came to the Tomb. (Matthew 28:10) Why do you think that both the angel and Jesus told the women that they should not be afraid? Have you ever had a time when remembering that God is with you calmed your fears? If Jesus tells us that we should not be afraid, why do you think people still have times when they are afraid?
Compare the end of the Easter story in Matthew (Matthew 28:10) to the end of the Easter story in Mark (Mark 16:8). Why do you think that the same story in the Bible ends in two different ways?
Do you have a difficult time sharing what you believe about God with other people? Why do you think that sharing your faith can be difficult? Pray about that this week.
Week 42 – Luke 24:13-35
What do you think Jesus looks like? The two followers of Jesus who met Him on the road to Emmaus didn’t recognize Jesus even after spending a lot of time with Him. Why do you think they didn’t recognize Jesus? Do you think you’ve ever failed to see Jesus while He was right beside you? Please read Matthew 25:31-46. Take some time to talk about that.
Jesus spent a lot of time listening to the people that He met on the road to Emmaus. Why do you think Jesus did that? What does this week’s passage tell us about listening? Have you ever talked when you should have listened? How could you be a better listener?
Why do you think the two people who met Jesus on the road to Emmaus invited Jesus to stay with them? What does the word “hospitality” mean? Do you think that Jesus would have stayed with the people that He had met on the road to Emmaus if they had not invited Him to stay with them? Why, or why not?
We read that Jesus took bread and blessed and broke it and gave it to them. (Luke 24:30) How is what Jesus did similar to what we do when we share Holy Communion? Do you feel closer to Jesus when you take Holy Communion? Why, or why not?
Many people saw Jesus after He was raised from the dead. Why do you think the people who saw Jesus after He was raised from the dead shared their stories with each other? What would have happened if none of them had done that? Who first told you about Jesus? Would you know anything about Jesus if nobody talked about Him? Why, or why not?
Week 43 – John 20:19-29
I have often heard people say, “That’s too good to be true.” What do you think people mean when they say that? Have you ever had a time when you found it hard to believe what someone was telling you? What made it hard for you to believe what you were being told?
This disciples locked themselves in a room because they were scared. What do you do when you are scared? Why do you think Jesus said, “Peace be with you” to the disciples when He first appeared to them? Jesus says, “Peace be with you” three times in this week’s lesson. Why do you think He kept repeating what He said? How can knowing that Jesus is with you help you when you are scared?
Why do you think that Thomas wanted to see Jesus’ hands, put his finger into the mark of the nails and place his hand in Jesus’ side? Why do you think he didn’t do it when Jesus appeared and told him to do what he said he wanted to do?
In this week’s reading, Thomas said to Jesus: “My Lord and my God!” This is the only place in the Bible where somebody calls Jesus “God.” Why do you think that Thomas believed that Jesus is God? Christians around the world continue to say that Jesus is God; in fact, in one of our hymns (ELW 414), we sing: “Holy Father, holy Son, Holy Spirit, three we name you. though in essence only one; undivided God we claim you.” What do those words mean to you? Please remember that, if you can’t answer that question, it’s OK. God can be very hard to understand.
Jesus said, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” What do you think Jesus meant by that?
Week 44 – John 21:1-14
Have you ever gone fishing? What kind of fish did you catch? How did you catch the fish? Did you take them home and eat them?
Many of the disciples were fishermen when they met Jesus. Why do you think that many of the disciples returned to being fishermen after Jesus died? Have you ever had a time in your life when you stopped doing something new and went back to doing something you used to do? Why did you do that?
The disciples were very tired after they had fished all night. How do you think they felt when Jesus told them to go back onto the Sea of Tiberius and start fishing again? Has God ever told you to keep going when you were tired and worn out? How do you think the disciples felt when their nets began to fill with fish?
Why do you think John’s Gospel is so clear about the fact that the disciples caught 153 fish? Try to find the answer to that question on the Internet this week.
John’s Gospel tells us that the disciples knew who Jesus was (John 21:12). How do you think the disciples recognized Jesus? John’s Gospel also tells us that this was the third time that Jesus appeared to the disciples (John 21:14). Why do you think that Jesus kept appearing to the disciples? Why wasn’t appearing once, on the first Easter, enough?
People come to worship to listen to stories about Jesus over and over again. How does listening to the same stories over and over again help people to believe in God?
Week 45 – Acts 1:4-11
Take a few moments to think about your friends and family members. Why do you think that it is important for us to have friends and family members? Why do you think Jesus told His disciples to stay together during a very difficult time in their lives? How can your friends and family members help you when life is hard?
Many people spend a lot of time trying to figure out when Jesus is going to return, but Jesus told His disciples that “it is not for you to know the times or seasons that the Father has fixed by His own authority.” (Acts 1:7) Why do you think people try so hard to figure out what God is going to do? How can knowing that God is taking care of us today help us to stop worrying about what God is going to do tomorrow?
Did you know that the same person who wrote the Gospel of Luke wrote the Book of Acts? Why do you think that Luke decided to continue his Gospel by writing about what happened after Jesus was raised from the dead? Why do you think Luke didn’t just stop there? Why is it important for us to share the story of what we are doing in ministry with other people?
Luke tells us that Jesus “was lifted up” and that “a cloud took Him [Jesus] out of their sight.” (Acts 1:9) Where do you think Jesus went? Do you think that Heaven is somewhere up in the sky? What do you think Heaven looks like? And, what do you think it will be like to be in Heaven with Jesus?
Week 46 – Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23
Do you like it when someone either reads to you or tells you a story? What is something that you remember about your favorite story? Why do you think Jesus told so many stories?
The Bible tells us that Jesus and the people who listened to Him would sit down when Jesus was teaching (see: Matthew 13:2, Matthew 5:1, Matthew 14:19). Why do you think Jesus would sit down and ask other people to do the same thing when He was teaching? How can sitting down with people make them feel more comfortable when you are talking with them?
Have you ever planted a seed and watched it grow? What are some things that seeds need to sprout and grow? Jesus tells us that the sower (the person who scattered the seeds in His story) just threw the seeds everywhere. Why do you think the sower scattered seeds that way? Do you think that the sower knew that some of the seeds would not sprout and grow?
If you had to guess which kind of soil you are in Jesus’ story, right now, what kind of soil would you say that you are? Are birds eating the seeds that have been planted in your life? Are the seeds sprouting and being scorched by the hot sun? Are weeds choking the little plants? Are your seeds growing up to be healthy plants that will produce even more seeds?
We, sometimes, think that some people don’t deserve to have good things in their lives because of the things that they do. Do you think that some people are totally bad and that other people are totally good? What can we learn about life by watching God let the sun shine and the rain fall on both good people and bad people alike? Have you ever thought about the fact that you are sometimes good and that you are sometimes bad? What would it be like if you started to look for the good in everyone? How can the fact that God pours blessings into our lives when we are good and even when we make mistakes be a word of Good News to you?
Week 47 – Matthew 20:1-16
Has anybody ever paid you to do a job? Did you know how much you were going to be paid before you started working? How did the person who hired you decide how much you were going to be paid?
When you pray the Lord’s Prayer, you ask God to give you, each day, your daily bread. What are you asking God to give you when you pray those words? What are some things that you are going to need tomorrow? How is that like a “day’s wage” in this week’s story?
People make different amounts of money for doing different kinds of jobs. Why do you think people are paid different amounts of money? Do you think that it’s fair for some people to be paid more money for doing the exact same job? Do you think that you should be paid more money if you work harder than someone else? Why do you think that?
God sends good things into the lives of people who are good, and God sends good things into the lives of people who are bad. Do you think that’s fair? Would you do that if you could be God for a day? Why, or why not?
This week’s story is about generosity. What is generosity? Can you think of a way that you can demonstrate generosity to another person this week? Pray about that today.
Week 48 – Matthew 22:15-22
Can you name three people whose faces are on American coins? Who were these people, and why do you think we have pictures of them on our coins?
Why do you think that the Pharisees were plotting against Jesus? What do you think they were trying to do when they asked Jesus if they should pay taxes? What happens to people who don’t pay taxes?
The Emperor and the Roman government were very powerful in the time of Jesus, and people who protested against the government were thrown into jail and were often killed. What do you think would have happened to Jesus if He publicly said that people should not pay their taxes? Do you think that this is what the Pharisees wanted to happen?
What do you think Jesus means when He says that we should give the government what belongs to the government, and that we should give God what belongs to God? Can you name three things that you think belong to God? What does it mean when Jesus tells us that we should give back to God what belongs to God? How can we do that?
Churches ask people to contribute money that will be used to support ministry during the offering each week. Do you ever put money into the offering plate? If you do, how do you decide how much money you are going to give back to God? Pray about that.
Week 49 – Matthew 25:14-30
Martin Luther once wrote (in his Small Catechism) that God gives us food, water, clothing, shoes, our home, our country, animals, money, our family members, good government, good weather, peace, good health and even our friends. Why do you think God gives us things like that? What do you think is the most important thing that God ever gave to you?
Jesus tells us that a man gave his servants something called “talents.” A talent was the amount of money that an average worker could earn by working every day for 20 years. Do you think that’s a lot of money? What would you do if someone gave you more money than you could earn in your lifetime? Would you save the money? Would you buy something special? Would you give any of your money to someone else?
We see three people use the money that they were given in different ways in this week’s story. Two of the people doubled the amount of money that they were given, and one of the people buried the money in the ground because he was afraid he was going to lose it. Why do you think the people decided to do different things with their money? Have you ever done something risky? What was it and what made you decide to do it? Has fear ever stopped you from doing something? What could you have done differently if you had been more brave?
Why do you think that the man was angry when one of the people buried his money in the ground? People sometimes say: “Better safe than sorry!” What does that mean? Do you think that’s how God wants you to live? How can knowing that God loves you help you to be more brave when you need to do scary things? Pray about that.
The man who gave his servants his money was really angry, and he took the money that he had given to the man who had buried the money in the ground to a man who had used his money wisely. Why do you think that he did that? Have you ever imagined God as a God who takes things back and calls people worthless? Do you think that’s all this story is about?
What do you think Jesus means when He says: “To everyone who has will more be given, and [that person] will have in abundance. But from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away.” Do you think that’s how God works today? Does that mean that God loves people who have a lot of money more than people who don’t have much at all? Take a moment to read Luke 6:20. If God loves people who have a lot of money more than people who don’t have much money at all, why does Jesus call people who are poor “blessed”?
Week 50 – Mark 6:14-24
In this week’s story, we read about a man named John the Baptizer who often said things that other people didn’t want to hear. Can you think of a time when someone said something that you didn’t want to hear? How did you feel? What did you do?
The Bible contains many rules that are meant to guide our lives. Take some time to review the 10 Commandments this week (Exodus 20:1-17). Have you memorized them, yet? If not, this is a great week to do that.
King Herod got really mad when John the Baptizer told him that he had done something that God didn’t want him to do. Have you ever gotten mad when someone pointed out that you were doing something wrong? What are some things (besides just getting mad) that you can do when someone tells you that you are not doing things that make God happy?
We begin all of our worship services by taking time to confess our sins and to listen to God’s promises of forgiveness. Why do we confess our sins to God and to each other? What do you think God wants us to do after we confess our sins and hear that we are forgiven?
This week’s story is an example of how one bad thing can lead to many other bad things. Can you think of a time when that happened in your life? Could you have done something different to avoid making the problem worse? The Bible often shows us that one bad thing can lead to another and to yet another. How can we stop that cycle? Take some time to pray about that this week.
Week 51 – Luke 9:23-26
Jesus often said that following Him is not going to be easy. Can you think of a time in your life when it was hard to follow Jesus? Why do you think it was so hard to follow Jesus?
Jesus says that if we try to save our lives we are going to lose them and that if we lose our lives, for His sake, we are going to find them. What do you think Jesus means by that?
God touched you and called you to be a follower of Jesus in the waters of Baptism. What are some ways that you are following Jesus? What are some new ways that you might be able to follow Jesus in the coming year? Pray about that.
What does it mean to be ashamed of something? What do you do when you feel ashamed about something that you have done? Do you think there is a difference between feeling guilty and feeling ashamed? If so, how are guilt and shame different?
Jesus often talked about the fact that He is going to return in all of His glory. What do you think the return of Jesus is going to be like? Do you think that you will be happy or scared when Jesus returns? Why?
Year B – 52 Famous Stories from the Bible
Week 1 – Genesis 1:1-2:3
We are beginning our FaithBuilders lessons, this year, by going back to the story of Creation that we find in the first chapter of Genesis. What do you think it was like before God created the heavens and the earth, the sun and the moon, the animals and the birds, fish and even human beings?
“God saw that it was good” every time something new was created. What does it mean when we say that God’s creation is “good”? If God’s creation is “good,” why do you think we have hurricanes, tornadoes, fires and deadly viruses? Do you think that our world is exactly like what God first made? Why, or why not?
The story of Creation tells us that people are made in the image of God. What do you think that means? How could remembering that other people are made in the image of God, just like you are, shape the way you treat them? Pray about that this week.
God gave people dominion over the earth. What does the word “dominion” mean? Does having dominion over the earth mean that we can simply do whatever we want to do? How are having dominion over something and taking care of something related to each other?
The story of Creation tells us that God rested on the seventh day and even called that day “holy.” Do you have a day when you stop and rest each week? Take a few moments to read Exodus 20:8-11. What does it mean to remember the Sabbath and keep it holy? How can you keep the Sabbath holy this week? Pray about that.
Week 2 – Genesis 2:10-3:7
The story of Creation tells us that God placed Adam into the Garden of Eden to work it and to keep it. What do you think the Garden of Eden was like? Why do you think that God put Adam into the Garden of Eden?
In Genesis 2:18, God says, “It is not good that the man should be alone.” Have you ever been lonely? Why do you think that God doesn’t want you to be alone? Who are some of the people that God has given to you, so that you don’t have to live your life alone? Take some time to thank God for those special people today.
In Genesis 2:22, God makes another person, so that Adam doesn’t have to live his life all alone. Can you think of someone who may be lonely right now? What is something that you can do, this week, to help that person know that other people care about him/her?
The story of Creation tells us that God created one, special tree and told Adam and Eve that they should never eat fruit from that tree. Why do you think God created a tree that people should never touch? Why do you think Adam and Eve didn’t listen to God? Have you ever done something that someone told you that you should never do? Why did you do it?
Eve took some of the forbidden fruit to Adam, after she had eaten some of it herself and told Adam that he should eat some of it, too. Have you ever been told to do something that you knew you shouldn’t do by someone else? How can you respond to people who try to get you to do the wrong thing?
Week 3 – Genesis 6:9-9:17
The story of Noah and the Flood is one of the scariest stories in the Bible. It’s a story that talks about the world being so bad that God decides to send a flood that destroys almost everything that is living. Do you think that God still gets mad today? If so, what do you think God does when God gets mad? Do you think that God still does things to punish people who are bad? Why do you think that bad things, sometimes, happen to good people?
The Bible tells us that Noah was supposed to build an ark that was 300 cubits long, 50 cubits wide and 30 cubits high. What is a cubit? How many cubits long is your home? Was Noah’s ark bigger, or smaller, than your home? Would your home fit inside of Noah’s ark?
Why do you think that God decided to save Noah and his family? Do you think that Noah missed any animals when he gathered them and put them onto the ark? Do you think that some animals are good and some animals are bad? How do you decide whether an animal is good, or bad?
What do you think the world looked like after the Flood? What do you think Noah and his family thought when they saw the rainbow? Why did God put a rainbow in the sky?
The Bible tells us that God made covenants with many people – including Noah and his family. What is a covenant? Why do you think God makes covenants with people?
Week 4 – Genesis 11:1-9
Do you know anyone who speaks a different language? Why do you think people speak different languages? Why do you think that people want other people to speak the same language that they do? If we decided that everyone should speak the same language, who would decide which language we would all speak?
Can you think of a person who is famous? How do people become famous? The Bible tells us that the people who build the Tower of Babel did it to “make a name for themselves.” (Genesis 11:4) What does it mean to make a name for yourself? Why do you think some people will do almost anything to make a name for themselves?
Why do you think that God didn’t want people to build a tower that would reach all the way up into the heavens? Our faith tells us that Christianity is not about “finding Jesus,” but, rather, is about being found by God. What does that mean to you? How does the story of Christmas remind us that God comes into our world and looks for us?
The words that we use were, often, first used in another language. Do you think that our word “babble” could be somehow related to “Babel”? What does it mean when someone babbles? How could our world “babble” be related to this story from the Bible?
Week 5 – Genesis 17:1-8
Two weeks ago, we talked about the word: Covenant. What is a covenant? Why do you think God makes covenants with people? Can you name another covenant that God made with people (Hint: Genesis 9:9-11)
In this week’s story, God tells Abram that he is going to be the “father of many nations.” What do you think it means to be the “father of many nations”? How could Abram become the “father of many nations” when he was already ninety-nine years old (Genesis 17:1)?
In this week’s story, God changes Abram’s name to Abraham. How did you get your name? How did your parents decide what to name you? What gave your parents the right to give you your name? What does that tell you about God?
In this week’s story, God says, “I will give to you and to your offspring after you the land of your sojournings, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession.” (Genesis 17:8) How many children did Abraham have? Do you think that all of Abraham’s children were supposed to share the same piece of land? Why, or why not?
People argue about the ownership of land in the Holy Land today because the people of Israel (Jewish people) say that God gave them the land because they are the descendants of Isaac (one of Abraham’s sons) and the Palestinians (Muslims) say that God gave them the land because they are the descendants of Ishmael (one of Abraham’s sons). How do you make sense of that? Can two groups of people own the same land because they are both descendants of Abraham?
Week 6 – Genesis 18:1-15
Have you or your parents ever invited guests to come into your home? What are some things that you do when you know that guests are on the way? Do you prepare special food? Do you decorate? Do you borrow tables and chairs? What is “hospitality”?
Why do you think that Abraham said, “O Lord, if I have found favor in your sight, do not pass by your servant” (Genesis 18:3) when the three men first approached him? Do you think that the men looked like other people? How do you think Abraham knew that the men were actually messengers of God? Who are God’s messengers today?
The Bible tells us that angels are messengers of God. Do you think that the men who came to Abraham were angels? What do you think angels look like? Do you think that angels still come into the world today? If so, what kind of message do you think angels are bringing to people?
When Sarah heard the men tell Abraham that he was going to become a father, she laughed at what they said. Why do you think Sarah laughed? (See: Genesis 18:13)
God asked Abraham, “Is anything too hard for the Lord?” (Genesis 18:14) Do you think that God can do whatever God wants to do? If so, how does God decide what to do? Why do you think God, sometimes, doesn’t do what people want God to do?
Week 7 – Genesis 22:1-19
Do you think that God tests people? If so, what are some things that God might do to test people today? What happens if people fail the test? What happens if people pass the test?
Why do you think that God would ask Abraham to give back his son, Isaac, when God knew how badly Abraham wanted to have a son? People, sometimes, give up something that they really like during a Season of the Church Year called Lent. Why do you think people do that? Do you think that God still asks you to give up things that are important to you today?
When Isaac asked his father, “Where is the lamb for the burnt offering?” (Genesis 22:7), Abraham responds: “God will provide for Himself the lamb for a burnt offering.” (Genesis 22:8) We say that people have faith when they trust that God will provide whatever they need in life. What is something that you trust God to do? Can you name some ways that God has provided things that you need?
After God provides a ram for Abraham, God tells Abraham to name the place, “The Lord will provide.” (Genesis 22:14) Can you think of a place that has been named for a person? Can you think of a place that has been given a name that’s supposed to make us think about something else? (Hint: Washington D.C., Pennsylvania, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia)
The angel tells Abraham, “I will surely multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven and in your offspring shall all the nations of the earth be blessed.” (Genesis 22:18) How many stars are there in the sky? What do you think the angel meant when it said that Abraham’s offspring will be as numerous as the stars? What do you think the angel meant when it said that all nations would be blessed by descendants of Abraham? Can you think of a way that that has happened? (Hint: Jesus was a descendant of Abraham)
Week 8 – Genesis 25:19-34
This weeks story tells us that Isaac prayed for a son for nearly 20 years. Have you ever prayed about the same thing over and over again? Why do you think God answers some of our prayers quickly, but answer other prayers more slowly. What can we learn about faith while we are waiting for God to answer our prayers (Hint: Hebrews 11:1)?
How many children was Rebekah expecting (Hint: Genesis 25:22-23)? What do you think it means when we are told that “the children struggled together within her.” Why do you think Rebekah’s babies were struggling with each other?
This week’s story tells us that Esau was the firstborn son of Isaac and Rebekah. What is a “birthright”? Why do you think having a “birthright” is important? Do we still use “birthrights” today? How do parents tell us which belongings they want each of their children to be given after they die today?
Have you ever been really hungry? What does that feel like? If you are really hungry, what is something that you would do to get food? Do you think that you might be willing to pay more for food if you are really hungry? If so, how much more?
Esau sells his birthright to Jacob in this week’s story. Why do you think Jacob wanted Esau’s birthright? Why do you think Esau quickly sold his birthright? Have you ever given someone something that you later wanted back? What did you do? How would you feel if the person was not willing to return what you had given to him/her?
Week 9 – Genesis 27:1-40
Have you ever cooked a meal for someone else? Why did you do it? What did you cook?
This week’s story is a story about lying and stealing something from another person. Do you think that it’s wrong to lie? Why, or why not? Why do you think God tells us that we shouldn’t steal things from other people (See: Exodus 20:15)? Has anybody ever stolen something from you? If so, how did that make you feel?
Why do you think that Rebekah wanted Jacob to receive his father’s blessing? Do you think that it’s ever OK for a parent to like one of their children more than another? What kinds of problems can be caused when a parent likes one of their children more than another (See: Genesis 27:41-45 and 32:6-8)? Pray about that this week.
Isaac gave Jacob the blessing that he wanted to give to Esau in this week’s story. Why do you think that Isaac didn’t take back his blessing when he learned that he had been fooled by Rebekah and Jacob? Have you ever promised somebody that you would do something that you later wished you hadn’t? Have you ever given somebody something that you wish you could give to somebody else? What did you do when you changed your mind?
We see two very different blessings in this week’s story. Isaac gives one blessing to his son, Jacob (See: Genesis 27:28-29), and a very different type of blessing to his son, Esau (See: Genesis 27:39-40). How are these blessings different? Why do you think that Isaac was so harsh toward Esau, even after he realized that Rebekah and Jacob had tricked him? Do you think that God was happy about what happened? Why, or why not?
Week 10 – Genesis 28:10-22
Last week, we read a story about Jacob stealing his brother Esau’s blessing. This made Esau very angry (See: Genesis 27:41-45). Have you ever been angry because of what someone else did to you? What do you do when you are angry? What is “revenge”? Have you ever tried to get revenge after someone made you angry? If so, why do you think that you wanted to get revenge?
The story of Jacob’s ladder begins after Jacob flees from his brother, Esau, and reminds us that God often works in our lives when we are afraid. Have you ever been afraid? What are some of the things that cause you to be afraid? How can knowing that God is with you help you when you are afraid?
What do you think Jacob’s ladder looked like? What do you think the angels looked like? Why do you think the angels were going up and down the ladder?
What do you think God meant when God told Jacob: “I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land. For I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.” (Genesis 28:15) Why do you think God told Jacob that? Can you think of something that God has promised to give you? Why do you think God promises to give people things? What do you call it when you trust that God is going to give you something that you haven’t received yet? (See: Hebrews 11:1)
The Bible tells us that Jacob was afraid. Have you ever been afraid of God? What might cause someone to be afraid of God? Being afraid and being filled with fear are sometimes different in the Bible. How do you think Jacob felt in this week’s story? Was Jacob afraid (filled with awe and wonder) or was Jacob filled with fear (scared)? Do you think that Jacob may have been in awe and scared at the same time? How can knowing Jesus affect how you feel about God?
Week 11 – Genesis 29:14-30
Have you ever been tricked by another person? Talk a little bit about a time when you were tricked and about how being tricked made you feel.
Jacob served Laban for seven years before he asked Laban to allow him to marry his daughter, Rachel. Why do you think Laban tricked Jacob (See: Genesis 29:17-18 and Genesis 29:26)? How do you think Jacob felt when he discovered that he had married Leah? How do you think Leah felt about the whole thing?
People sometimes grow angry when they discover that they have been tricked by other people. Do you think that Jacob got angry? Why do you think that Jacob agreed to work for Laban for another seven years? Do you think Jacob forgave Laban, or did he just work for Laban for another seven years to get what he wanted?
We do not ask fathers to “give away” the bride during weddings at our church. Why do you think that we stopped doing that? What does being “given away” by her father during the wedding ceremony say about a woman and her relationship with her father and husband?
Jacob ended up married to both Leah and Rachel (which was allowed when the Book of Genesis was written); but we learn in this week’s story, that Jacob loved Rachel more than he loved Leah (See: Genesis 29:30). What do you think it was like to live in the house with Jacob, Leah and Rachel? What kind of problems do you think were created because Jacob loved Rachel more than he loved Leah?
Laban tricked Jacob because he wanted Leah to be married and to have a nice life, too. Do you think that it’s ever OK to do something that you know is wrong because you want to see something good happen? (For example: Do you think that it’s ever OK to steal money from someone who is wealthy and give it to somebody who sends his/her kids to school hungry because he/she does not have enough money to buy food?) If you think that it’s OK to do something that you know is wrong because you think that something good will happen, where do you draw the line? How far is too far?
Week 12 – Genesis 37:1-8
Have you ever thought that someone liked another person more than you? What do you think it would be like to live in a family where your father loved one of your brothers or sisters more than you? What kind of problems do you think that would cause? Would you be mad at your father, at your brothers or sisters, or at everyone? Pray about that this week.
Many people know Joseph as a young man with the “Technicolor Dreamcoat.” However, the translators of the Bible did not translate the Hebrew properly when they wrote that Joseph had a “robe of many colors.” The Hebrew actually tells us that Joseph’s robe was very long and fancy. Joseph and his brothers were the son of a shepherd. What would happen if you wore a long, fancy robe while you were taking care of sheep? Do you think that it would get dirty? What would happen if you walked over some sheep manure?
Joseph’s brothers wore short robes that would not get dirty while they were taking care of the sheep. Why do you think Joseph’s father gave him a long robe? How was this another sign that pointed to the fact that Joseph was his father’s favorite? Do you think that Joseph’s father expected him to work as hard as his brothers? How would you feel if someone simply stood around watching you while you were working hard?
Joseph was not only his father’s favorite son, he was also a tattletale. Have you ever told your parents about something wrong that one of your brothers or sisters did? Have you ever tattled on another person? How did that change your relationship with that person?
Joseph was his father’s favorite son. Joseph was given a long, fancy robe that said that he didn’t have to work as hard as his brothers. And then, Joseph had a dream where his own brothers bowed down to him as a sign of being his servants. How do you think Joseph’s brothers felt when Joseph told them about his dream? How would you have felt? Pray about that this week.
Week 13 – Genesis 37:12-28
We started to read the story of Joseph last week, and we learned that Joseph was his father’s favorite son. What do you think it would be like to be your parent’s favorite child? What do you think it would be like to know that one of your brothers or sisters was the favorite?
Why do you think Joseph’s brothers called him, “The Dreamer”? (See: Genesis 37:5-8)
Israel (Jacob) sent Joseph to the pastures to look for his brothers (See: Genesis 37:12-14). Why do you think Joseph wasn’t helping his brothers to take care of the sheep? Have you ever had to do something by yourself when someone else was supposed to help you? How did you feel about that? Did it make you angry? Did it change the way that you felt about the person who was supposed to help you? Pray about that.
Why do you think Joseph’s brothers wanted to kill him? What do you think would have happened to Joseph if Reuben hadn’t defended him? Why do you think Reuben defended Joseph when he was one of Joseph’s brothers, too?
Jesus once said, “You have heard it said of old, ‘You shall not murder, and whoever murders will be in danger of judgment.’ But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment.” (See: Matthew 5:21-22) What do you think Jesus meant when He said those words?
What do you think about anger? Is anger always a bad thing? Is it ever OK to be angry when you see something happening that isn’t right? Can you think of a time when Jesus was angry? (See: Matthew 21:12-13) Take some time to pray about anger this week and to ask God to help you to understand anger better.
Week 14 – Genesis 41:16-57
Do you think that God talks to people today? If you do, how do you think God does that? This week’s story tells us that God speaks to people when they are dreaming. What do you think about that? Have you ever had a time when you thought God spoke to you? Take some time to talk with somebody about that this week.
This week’s story reminds us that some people are better at figuring out what God is saying than others (Compare: Genesis 41:24b and Genesis 41:25). Who helps you to figure out what God is saying? What would you do if two people told you that God is telling you to do two different things? Pray about that this week.
Have you, or your parents, ever bought things like milk, toilet paper and bread because a snow storm was approaching? Why did you, or your parents, do that? How is what you or your parents did similar to what Joseph did in this week’s story (See: Genesis 41:47-49)?
What is a famine? What do you think it would be like to live through a famine? Do we still have famines today? How can what Joseph did (See: Genesis 41:56-57) help you to understand what you can do during famines today?
People in our world need people, just like you, during hard times in their lives. Can you think of somebody that you can help this week? Take some time to pray about that; and then, do something to make someone’s life better.
Week 15 – Genesis 42:1-11
We have been reading the story of Joseph for several weeks. We learned that Joseph’s father treated him better than he treated Joseph’s brothers. We learned that Joseph’s brothers sold him to people who were going to use him as a slave. What is a slave? How do you think Joseph felt when he was being taken to Egypt to be a slave? How do you think Joseph’s brother’s felt when they saw Joseph being taken away?
We heard that a great famine spread across the entire known world in the time of Joseph. Do you remember what a famine is? Why do you think Jacob sent ten of Joseph’s brothers to Egypt (See: Genesis 42:1-2)?
Why do you think that Jacob only sent ten of his sons to Egypt (See: Genesis 42:4)? Why do you think that Benjamin became Jacob’s favorite son after he thought that Joseph had been killed by wild animals (See: Genesis 37:29-33, Genesis 35:16-20)?
Joseph recognized his brothers when they came to buy their grain (See: Genesis 42:7). Why do you think Joseph’s brothers didn’t recognize him? Why do you think Joseph treated his own brothers like strangers? Have you ever treated somebody differently because of something that happened in the past? Why did you do that?
The Bible sometimes uses irony to inject humor into stories. What is irony? Can you find any irony in this week’s story (See: Genesis 42:11)? Can you imagine people reading this story and bursting into laughter when Joseph’s brothers tell him that they are honest men? Have you ever wanted to laugh when someone told you something that know is not true? How did you feel when you knew that the person was lying to you?
Week 16 – Coming Soon!