Dear FPC—
Happy Thanksgiving! I love Thanksgiving because it is about gratitude and family and seems less commercialized that many other holidays. Oh, and food! Did I mention the food? 😊
Seriously though, looking for the blessings you have in life and choosing the be grateful for them is a very healthy practice. We can be content or unhappy in all circumstances, it is up to how we respond. This morning the men’s breakfast was talking about “glass half full faith” as opposed to “glass half empty faith.” I encourage you to walk towards your loving Savior and enjoy a glass half full life (maybe you’ll even notice that it 3.4s full—or even full to overflowing!) Just open yourself up to the ways God is blessing you and say thank you!
Don’t forget about our special Thanksgiving Eve service, Wednesday at 7 pm. This is a great way to get into an attitude of gratitude.
This Thanksgiving take a few minutes to stop and pray and give thanks for the blessings in your life. I’ll be thanking God for you!
Gratefully,

Pastor Steve

Key Passage: Luke 1:76 “And child, you will be called a prophet of the Most High, for you will go before the Lord to prepare His ways.”

Big Picture Question: Why did Elizabeth’s baby leap in her belly? Elizabeth’s baby was happy because of Jesus.

Christ Connection: God kept His promise to send a Savior. This was good news! Before Jesus was born, people sang songs and thanked God for His Son. Mary and Elizabeth worshiped God because of Jesus.

Dear Parents,

Thank you for continuing this journey of The Gospel Project® for Kids. Today’s Bible story picks up after the angel Gabriel announced to Mary that she would be the mother of God’s Son, Jesus, although she was a virgin. Gabriel said with God all things are possible. Mary’s relative Elizabeth was also pregnant though Elizabeth was barren and well past childbearing age. Mary hurried to visit Elizabeth to share in the joy of their miraculous pregnancies.

Mary’s arrival brought great joy to both Elizabeth and Elizabeth’s unborn baby. In the presence of the unborn Messiah, John leaped in Elizabeth’s belly. Elizabeth was also filled with the Holy Spirit, and she said, “Mary, you are blessed!”

The story of Mary’s visit with Elizabeth gives us a remarkable picture of women living by faith. Being a young, unwed pregnant woman could have caused Mary to worry. Instead, her response is marked by her trust in God. Mary’s song reflects her knowledge of God’s Word and her understanding of who God is. God kept His promise to Abraham and his descendants. The coming of the promised Savior was good news! Before Jesus was born, people rejoiced and praised God for His Son. Mary and Elizabeth worshiped God because of Jesus.

Family Activity: Read Luke 1:39-56 aloud from the Bible. Talk about how happy Mary and Elizabeth were. If you have photos of your kids when they were babies, show them the photos. Lead them to read Psalm 139:13. Consider donating diapers or other baby items to a pregnancy care ministry or other ministry supported by your church.

Key Passage: Luke 1:76 “And child, you will be called a prophet of the Most High, for you will go before the Lord to prepare His ways.”

Big Picture Question: Who announced John’s birth? An angel said that John would be born.

Christ Connection: God gave John a special job: to tell people that His Son, Jesus, was coming! John told the people what God said, and he told them to get ready to meet Jesus.

Dear Parents,

This week in The Gospel Project® for Kids, our journey takes us to the beginning of John the Baptist’s ministry, specifically his birth. John is called the forerunner of the Savior. The term refers to someone who would literally run before a king, heralding his coming. At the end of the Old Testament, God spoke these words to His people: “Look, I am going to send you Elijah the prophet before the great and awesome Day of the Lord comes” (Mal. 4:5). Then a period of silence began. For 400 years, God did not speak to the Jewish people as He had done through the prophets.

Luke described Zechariah and his wife, Elizabeth, as descendants of Aaron. They both loved God and lived in obedience of His commandments. But they were childless. Elizabeth was barren, and by that time, they were both old. Zechariah the priest was serving in the temple during the reign of Herod the Great when Gabriel, an angel of the Lord, appeared. Gabriel said, “Do not be afraid, Zechariah, because your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you will name him John.”

The name John means “the Lord is gracious.” He certainly is. The foretelling of John’s birth by the angel Gabriel marked the coming of the end of God’s silence. Compare Malachi 4:5-6 to Luke 1:16-17. God had big plans for the baby who wasn’t even born yet. God sent John to be the last prophet who would tell people about the coming Savior. John’s job was to remind the people what God had said in the past and to get the people ready to meet Jesus.

Family Activity: Instruct everyone to remain silent. When you point to a family member, she should shout something that is good news. Then everyone should be silent again. Point to another family member, and allow him to share good news. Explain that God was silent for 400 years before the angel announced John’s birth.

Key Passage: Luke 1:76 “And child, you will be called a prophet of the Most High, for you will go before the Lord to prepare His ways.”

Big Picture Question: Who is Jesus? Jesus is God’s Son.

Christ Connection: Jesus came to earth and was born as a baby. Jesus’ parents on earth were Mary and Joseph. Jesus is God’s Son. He came to rescue people from their sins.

Dear Parents,

Thank you for continuing this journey of The Gospel Project® for Kids. Aren’t you excited that we’ve finally reached the New Testament? Four hundred years of God’s silence separated the last book of the Old Testament—Malachi—and the first book of the New Testament—Matthew. Matthew, the first of the four Gospels, begins with Jesus’ genealogy, like a family tree.

The prophecies concerning Jesus’ birth are numerous, and many of them refer to Jesus’ lineage. Old Testament prophecies tell of the promised Messiah being born from the seed of a woman (Gen. 3:15); from the seeds of Abraham (Gen. 22:18), Isaac (Gen. 21:12), and Jacob (Num. 24:17); from the tribe of Judah (Micah 5:2); from the line of Jesse (Isa. 11:1); and from the house of David (Jer. 23:5). The prophecies said He would be born of a virgin (Isa. 7:14) and would be the Son of God (1 Chr. 17:13-14; Ps. 2:7). Jesus fulfilled all of these prophecies.

In Bible times, Jews took great care to accurately record family genealogies. The family a person belonged to was directly linked to property rights. Matthew 1:1-17 and Luke 3:23-38 both chronicle the genealogy of Jesus. The account in Matthew presents Jesus as the king of the Jews—the legal heir to the throne of David. The account in Luke was written to Greek Christians and focuses on Jesus’ descent from Adam.

Jesus came to earth as a baby in Bethlehem. Jesus had earthly parents, Mary and Joseph, but His true Father is God. Jesus was still God the Son when He came to earth, but He also took on the form of a man. Jesus was born to save people from their sins.

Family Activity: Draw a family tree. Invite each family member to draw a picture of him or herself. Let kids draw parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents. If available, share family photos or stories about the people in your family tree. Remind kids that Jesus is God’s Son, but He had an earthly family too—Mary and Joseph, David, Abraham,…all the way back to Adam and Eve!

Key Passage: Malachi 4:2 “The sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings, and you will go out and playfully jump like calves.”

Big Picture Question: Why does God keep His promises? God is faithful, and He loves us.

Christ Connection: Malachi was a messenger for God. He said another messenger was coming. That messenger was John the Baptist. John’s job was to get people ready for the last Messenger, Jesus! Jesus is God’s Son. He came to rescue people from sin.

Dear Parents,
Thank you for continuing this journey of The Gospel Project® for Kids. Today’s Bible story takes us to the last book of the Old Testament, the Book of Malachi. After living as prisoners in Babylon for many years, God’s people had returned to Judah—their promised land. They had worked hard and overcome opposition to rebuild the temple and the walls around Jerusalem. Surely God would restore them … finally! But nothing happened. As they waited, they faced drought and economic uncertainty. God’s people probably didn’t feel like God had blessed them at all.

“It is useless to serve God,” they said. “What have we gained by keeping His requirements?” (Mal. 3:14). Did God still care? It wasn’t long until they fell back into the same patterns of sin that led to their exile in the first place: idolatry, covetousness, hypocrisy, arrogance, and abuse of the poor. But God did still love His people. He had been working out His divine plan of redemption, and He never gave up on them. God sent a message to His people through the prophet Malachi.

Malachi spoke to God’s people approximately 100 years after the end of the Babylonian captivity. Malachi’s message from God was a wake-up call. The people’s lack of blessing didn’t mean that God didn’t care: God exposed His people’s sin and made clear that their actions merited a punishment. God’s people needed to repent and turn back to God. “But for you who fear My name,” God said, “the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings” (Mal. 4:2).

Four hundred years of silence followed Malachi’s prophecy; God did not communicate to His people. Malachi was a messenger—a prophet—who told God’s people to repent. Malachi also told about another messenger God would send. This messenger, John the Baptist, would break the silence. John would call people to repent and get them ready for a final Messenger, Jesus Christ. Jesus would bring good news of salvation.

Family Activity: Help kids find the Book of Malachi; the last book in the Old Testament. Read some of God’s promises from Malachi 1:11; 3:1, 17; 4:2. Guide kids to summarize each promise in their own words. Ask family members to share how they feel knowing that God is faithful and that He loves us.

Go further: Volunteer as a family to clean up a walking trail or roadside in your city. Talk to kids about what it meant for John to prepare the way for Jesus.