Key Passage: Psalm 51:10 “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.”

Big Picture Question: Who is our perfect King? Jesus is our perfect King.

Christ Connection: God told Saul to obey Him and everything would go well. But Saul did not obey God. God rejected Saul as king. God would give His people a better king. Jesus is God’s Son, and He is our perfect King. He will rule over His people forever.

Dear Parents,

Saul continued his pattern of sin. This week in The Gospel Project, your kids heard a story of how God responded to Saul’s continued failure. God had placed Saul in the position of king, but due to Saul’s folly and failure, God commanded that he would only rule for a short time until another was given his throne. Samuel delivered God’s message to Saul and then never saw him again.

God’s desire is for people to obey Him, completely. When sin creeps into our lives, God desires that we seek His forgiveness instead of continuing in the sin we are committing. God ultimately would give the people a better King, His Son, Jesus. Jesus’ kingdom, unlike Saul’s, would have no end. Jesus will reign for all eternity.

Family Activity: Play “king of the Hill” with your kids. Talk to them about how God decided to replace Saul with an obedient king.

Go Further: Play chore swap for the week. If each family member has regular chores, swap them up. If not, give each family member a chore to complete by the end of the week. Then share how you felt when you completed the chore or didn’t complete the chore. How well did each member complete his or her chore? Let family members tell what they would have done differently if God had asked them to do the chore.

Key Passage: Psalm 51:10 “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.”

Big Picture Question: Who was Israel’s first king? Saul was Israel’s first king.

Christ Connection: The Israelites wanted a king. They did not trust God. God gave the Israelites a king, but He had a plan to send His Son, Jesus, to be king over the whole world. Jesus would be the perfect King. Jesus would bring peace and save people from sin.

Dear Parents,

After the death of Eli’s sons due to their sin, the nation of Israel lived under the rule of their last judge, Samuel. Samuel was the last of the judges because the people of the nation rebelled against God and demanded that a king like other nations. Samuel was upset, but at God’s insistence Samuel anointed Saul as the first king of Israel. God assured Samuel that the people had not rejected Samuel, but they had rejected God instead.

God’s desire and intention was that the people would be presided over by a heavenly king—Himself— and that no earthly king was needed. God gave them their earthly king but warned them of the laws this king could enact and the many rules the people would now have to follow. The Israelites didn’t trust God and so they willingly placed themselves under the rule of the earthly king.

Saul was not interested in leading God’s people and from the very beginning tried to hide during his public revealing. Saul’s attitude would change little, and by willfully ignoring God’s commands for leading His nation, Saul ultimately would be rejected by God. God’s intent was to rule the people as their heavenly King, but the Israelites didn’t trust that plan. God had a better plan waiting, a plan to send His Son, Jesus. Jesus would be the perfect King who would bring peace and salvation to the world.

Family Activity: Cut a crown out of construction paper. Encourage family members to put on the crown one at a time and name three things they would do if allowed to be king or queen for the day. Talk about Jesus as King, and what He did by giving His life for us and our sin.

Key Passage: 1 Samuel 2:35 “Then I will raise up a faithful priest for Myself. He will do whatever is in My heart and mind.”

Big Picture Question: Why was the ark of God important? The ark reminded God’s people that God was with them.

Christ Connection: The ark of the covenant reminded the Israelites that God was with them. God gave His people something even better to remind them that He was with them. God sent His Son, Jesus. One of Jesus’ names is Immanuel, which means, “God with us.”

Dear Parents,

In our last story, Samuel shared about the sin Eli’s sons were committing at God’s temple. The story this week, “The Ark Was Captured,” is one example of the things they allowed to happen to the tabernacle and its furnishings. The ark of the covenant was a symbol of God’s presence with the people. As the Israelites battled the Philistines, they lost a battle quite substantially. Instead of asking God what happened, they decided it would be a good idea to go get the box of God, the ark of the covenant, and bring it into battle with them.

When confronted with this message from the battlefield, Eli’s two sons thought it was a great idea and sent the ark from the tabernacle to the battle. Not only did the Israelites’ strategy not work, but the ark was captured by the Philistines and both of Eli’s sons were killed during the battle. When the news of their deaths reached Eli, he fell off the stool he was sitting on and died as well. God’s punishment for their sin had been exacted. Samuel’s words had come true.

As priests in Israel, Eli’s sons were responsible for leading the nation in its worship of the one true God. Part of their responsibility would have been seeking God’s desire for going into battle. Instead of seeking God’s direction, Eli’s sons took it upon themselves to send the ark into the battle. God proved that He was the one true God and let the Philistines kill many of the Israelite soldiers.

God’s presence was always with the nation of Israel. The ark symbolized God’s dwelling with and among His people. The Israelites mistakenly thought that if they had the ark with them in battle, God would be there to fight for them. As the ark in the Old Testament symbolized God’s presence with the people, later God gave His people something much greater than a sign: He sent His Son, Jesus. Jesus is called Immanuel which means, “God is with us.”

Family Activity: Play hide-and-seek sardine-style. One family member will hide alone. As each family member locates the hiding player, she will join him in the hiding place until the last person arrives. Play several rounds. Discuss the difference between hiding alone and hiding with someone. Remind kids that God is with His people today. Invite everyone to think of a time they need to remember that God is with them.

Key Passage: 1 Samuel 2:35 “Then I will raise up a faithful priest for Myself. He will do whatever is in My heart and mind.”

Big Picture Question: Who spoke to Samuel? God spoke to Samuel, and Samuel listened.

Christ Connection: Samuel told people what God is like. Jesus came to earth as a human. His life showed the world what God is like.

Dear Parents,

The Gospel Project for Kids story this week is about a woman named Hannah. Hannah had a good life but one thing was missing. Hannah wanted a child. As her family went annually to Shiloh to worship at the tabernacle, Hannah became distressed and prayed to God that He would give her a son. Hannah wanted a son so badly she promised to give him back to the Lord to serve Him. God granted Hannah’s prayer and a year later she gave birth to a son named Samuel.

Later Samuel lived in the tabernacle with Eli the priest. One night God spoke to Samuel, who didn’t understand the contact. Once Eli explained to Samuel that it was God calling him, Samuel went back to bed. When God called the third time, Samuel told the Lord that he was listening. God gave Samuel a harsh message for Eli and his family. Eli had allowed his sons to disrespect God and the elements of the tabernacle, and God was sending a warning that Eli and his family would be punished for their sin.

Eli awoke in the morning and urged Samuel to share God’s message. Samuel shared the message, and from that day on, Samuel grew and was known throughout the land as someone who was honest. Samuel shared God’s word with Eli the priest, but also with others from Israel. Samuel was used by God to share His word, but the Book of John tells us that Jesus is the Word. Samuel told people what God wanted them to do, but Jesus showed people through His life how God wanted them to live. Jesus ultimately freed people from the power of sin by dying on the cross.

Family Activity: Instruct one family member to close his eyes while another family member says, “Samuel, Samuel!” Allow the family member with the closed eyes to open his eyes and guess who spoke. Take turns playing the game. Explain that God speaks in a variety of ways. Ask family members to name different ways God reveals his plan to us.

Go further: Pray for couples you know who have not been able to have children. Pray for the kids who need to be adopted.

Key Passage: 1 Samuel 2:35 “Then I will raise up a faithful priest for Myself. He will do whatever is in My heart and mind.”

Big Picture Question: Who is our Helper? Jesus is our Helper.

Christ Connection: Boaz helped his close relatives. Boaz was a family redeemer. He bought back what his relatives lost. Jesus is our Redeemer. He bought our salvation from sin by dying on the cross.

Dear Parents,

This week in The Gospel Project for Kids our journey is taking us for a look at stories that hint of a coming Savior, Jesus Christ. Today’s story is about Ruth and Boaz. Ruth was the daughter-in-law of Naomi, a woman from Bethlehem who had moved with her husband and sons to escape a famine in their town. After the husbands of both Naomi and Ruth died, the two women moved back to Bethlehem to Naomi’s family’s land.

Ruth went to gather grain in the fields of a man named Boaz, who turned out to be a family redeemer. The role of the redeemer was to take care of close family members when they were in trouble. Since Ruth and Naomi were both women, they would not be able to inherit the land previously owned by Naomi’s husband. As family redeemer, Boaz had the right to marry Ruth and claim the property and responsibility for himself. Boaz did just that and took care of Ruth and Naomi.

Ruth and Boaz soon had a son whom they named Obed. Obed was the grandfather of King David. Through David’s line, God sent the perfect Redeemer in the person of Jesus Christ. We need help because we sin; Jesus bought our salvation for us by taking our punishment when He died on the cross.

Family Activity: Draw names to assign each family member another family member to serve secretly during the week. At the end of the week, record the ways family members served one another. Discuss Boaz’s role as a family redeemer. Celebrate that Jesus redeems us from our sin.

Go further: Collect items for a homeless shelter or conduct a yard sale and donate the proceeds to one.

Key Passage: Judges 2:18 “Whenever the LORD raised up judges for them, the LORD was with the judge, and he saved them from the hand of their enemies.”

Big Picture Question: What should I do when I sin? I should ask God to forgive me.

Christ Connection: God chose Samson to help save the Israelites from their enemies, the Philistines. When he died, Samson killed many Philistines. God sent Jesus to save people from sin. Jesus died on the cross and rose again to rescue us from sin.

Dear Parents,

This week’s Bible story is about Samson. Once again, the Israelites had turned away from worshiping God, so God gave them over to the Philistines. The beginning of Judges 13 states that not all Israelites worshiped false gods, though. Manoah and his wife worshiped the LORD.

The Angel of the LORD came to Manoah and his wife to tell them that the barren couple would have a son. The baby boy would be a Nazirite from birth. He could not eat raisins, grapes, or drink wine; he could not cut his hair. (See Num. 6:1-6.) God gave Samson incredible strength to deliver His people from the Philistines.

Special calling, check. Special strength, check. Samson appeared to have all the makings of an impressive leader. Samson had terrible taste in women, though, and he took his special calling for granted. Though Samson disobeyed God, God used Samson to accomplish His purpose of delivering the Israelites from the Philistines. Jesus came as the last Deliverer, saving through His life and His death those who would trust in him.

Family Activity: Samson was a strong man. God used Samson’s muscles against the enemies of Israel. Have a family strong man competition. Try arm wrestling, thumb wrestling, push-ups, or sit-ups. Modify the requirements for younger kids.

Go further: Take bottled water or sports drinks to a local park where people run or exercise and give them away for free.

Key Passage: Judges 2:18 “Whenever the LORD raised up judges for them, the LORD was with the judge, and he saved them from the hand of their enemies.”

Big Picture Question: How does God help us obey Him? God is always with us.

Christ Connection: The people of Israel needed help. They asked God to help them. God used Gideon to help the people, and God fought for them. We need help too. We need God to save us from sin. We cannot save ourselves. God sent His Son Jesus to save us.

Dear Parents,

This week’s Bible story, “Gideon,” starts out the same way the previous stories have started: The Israelites once again turned away from God. This time, God handed the Israelites over to the Midianites. The Bible says the Midianites would swarm the Israelites like locusts, devouring all of their livestock and crops. The Israelites hid in caves and were reduced to poverty.

The Angel of the LORD personally delivered a message to Gideon as he was threshing grain in a wine vat to hide it from the Midianites. God called Gideon to deliver His people from the Midianites. Gideon told the Angel that he was the youngest son of the weakest house in the tribe of Manasseh. God had a solution, though: “I will be with you,” He said. (Judg. 6:16)

Not only did God choose an unlikely hero for today’s Bible story, but God also reduced Gideon’s army to only 300 soldiers. People would know God defeated the Midianites, not the might of the Israelite army. In battle, God turned the Midianites’ swords against each other. Gideon and his army pursued the enemy troops. Gideon alone could not defeat the Midianites. In the same way, we aren’t able to save ourselves from sin. Jesus came to save us from our sin because He is enough. Only God, through Jesus Christ, can save us.

Family Activity: Gideon needed God’s help to trust God’s plan and obey Him. Gideon asked God to prove His plan. God reduced Gideon’s army from 32,000 soldiers to 300 soldiers. Read Joshua 7:2 and talk about why God did that. When Gideon did what God said, he showed that he trusted God. Share with your children at least one way God has proved that your family can trust him.

Go further: Research various phobias and what the Bible says about fear.

Key Passage: Judges 2:18 “Whenever the LORD raised up judges for them, the LORD was with the judge, and he saved them from the hand of their enemies.”

Big Picture Question: How does God act? God does what is good for us.

Christ Connection: Everything God does is for His glory and our good. (Psalm 115:3; Romans 8:28) God used Deborah, Barak, and Jael to help the people of Israel win battles against Canaan. God also uses people to help us and teach us about Jesus. God sent His Son Jesus to do what is very good for us: to save us from sin.

Dear Parents,

This week’s story in The Gospel Project for Kids® was “Deborah and Barak.” After the death of the first judges, the Israelites fell into a continuous cycle: sin, bondage, deliverance, and peace. When the people of Israel were oppressed by the king of Canaan, Deborah was the judge of Israel. Deborah sent for Barak and encouraged him to gather an army and fight the Canaanite army and its commander, Sisera.

Deborah told Barak that God would hand Sisera and his troops to him. Barak agreed to go, but only if Deborah would go with him. Deborah went, but she told Barak that God
would use a woman to defeat Sisera. In battle, God confused Sisera and his 900 charioteers and all of his army. Barak and his men didn’t have to fight, they just chased down the Canaanite army as they fled! All of Sisera’s troops died, but Sisera escaped on foot.

Sisera fled to the tent of Jael, whose husband was an ally of the Canaanite king. Jael invited him inside, gave him a drink, and covered him as he slept. Then she killed him! God used Deborah, Barak, and Jael to free his people from bondage. God uses people and events to save us not only from our enemies, but to bring our ultimate good: salvation through His Son, Jesus Christ.

Family Activity: Deborah and Barak sang a praise song to God. Choose a favorite family praise song. If you like a challenge, make up a song about things God has done for your family’s good and His glory.

Go further: Research how God used women in the Bible. Consider Ruth, Mary, Esther, Timothy’s mother and grandmother, and so forth.

Key Passage: Judges 2:18 “Whenever the LORD raised up judges for them, the LORD was with the judge, and he saved them from the hand of their enemies.”

Big Picture Question: How does God make His plan happen? God uses people in His plan.

Christ Connection: After God’s people sinned, the judges helped God’s people obey God again. But the judges could not change the people’s hearts and make them love God. God had a plan. He sent His Son, Jesus, to change their hearts and save them from sin forever.

Dear Parents,

Thank you for continuing this journey of The Gospel Project for Kids®. Today’s Bible story takes place chronologically after the death of Joshua. The Israelites had God’s laws to help them live their everyday lives, but without a leader they fell into a cycle of sin. They turned away from God and worshiped idols, which led to bondage and oppression by foreign kings. Then they remembered God and cried out to Him. God raised up a judge to deliver them, and finally there was ease in the land.

Today’s Bible story, “The First Judges,” describes how God raised up Othniel, Ehud, and Shamgar to deliver His people when they cried out to Him. As long as the judge was alive, the people followed God and experienced peace and prosperity. When the judge died, however, they would fall back into the cycle of sin.

The Israelites needed someone better than a judge; they needed a king who would save them not only from the consequences of their sin, but the sin itself. That was all part of God’s plan. God sent a true Deliverer; His Son, Jesus, died for our sin and delivered us forever from the oppression of sin and death.

Family Activity: Think of one or two believers at church or in the community whom you admire. Talk about why you admire them. Share that just as God works in their lives to accomplish His plan, and just as He did with the judges in ancient Israel, God works in the lives of your family members.

Go further: Write, decorate, and send thank you cards to leaders whom God has placed in your life. Consider including a gift card as well.

Key Passage: Joshua 24:15 “Choose this day whom you will serve…As for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.”

Big Picture Question: How can we show we love God? We can serve God and worship Him.

Christ Connection: Joshua was very old. He talked to God’s people and told them to obey God even after he, Joshua, died. After Jesus died and was raised from the dead, He talked to His friends. Jesus wanted them to tell other people about Him. Now Jesus lives in heaven, and He wants us to tell other people about Him too.

Dear Parents,
Today, your kids learned about “Joshua’s Final Encouragement.” Joshua was an old man—120 years old!—but his life was a testament of God’s faithfulness to His people.

God had promised when the Israelites began the conquest of Canaan that God would be with Joshua wherever he went. (Joshua 1:9) Joshua reminded the Israelites about the history of their nation, from the covenant first made to Abraham to the banks of the Jordan River when the Israelites crossed over on dry ground. Joshua also reminded the Israelites that God fought all of their battles. Not one of God’s promises to His people failed. Isn’t that a pretty awesome encouragement? We serve a God who keeps His promises!

Joshua reminded the Israelites that they still lived among people who worshiped false gods, false gods that could lead the people away from following the one true God. Joshua made it clear: the Israelites could not sit on the fence. They could not worship Yahweh one day and the Baals the next. Joshua drew the line in the sand and told them to choose. Joshua said, “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” The Israelites made a covenant to serve Yahweh. Joshua read the book of the Law, and made an altar to seal their commitment to God.

How can we show our commitment to God? We can serve, worship, and obey God. As you talk about Joshua’s legacy of faith with your kids, point to an even greater legacy of faith. After Christ’s resurrection, He sent His disciples out to tell the nations about Him. Jesus calls all people who trust in Him to tell others about Him.

Family Activity: Discover a way your family can serve others during the week. Consider making dinner for a neighbor, babysitting for a friend, visiting a nursing home, serving at a homeless shelter, picking up litter in the neighborhood, and so forth.

Go further: Send an email or letter of encouragement to an international missionary.