Joseph Sold Into Slavery

Dear Parents,
This week we took our Bible skills to the Old Testament and looked at the story of Joseph. Joseph’s story is actually a story about God’s faithfulness. Through everything that happened to Joseph, the Lord was with him, working for the good of many people.

Turn in your Bible with your students and read Genesis 37:12-36 aloud.

Now his brothers had gone to graze their father’s flocks near Shechem, and Israel said to Joseph, “As you know, your brothers are grazing the flocks near Shechem. Come, I am going to send you to them.”
“Very well,” he replied.
So he said to him, “Go and see if all is well with your brothers and with the flocks, and bring word back to me.” Then he sent him off from the Valley of Hebron.
When Joseph arrived at Shechem, a man found him wandering around in the fields and asked him, “What are you looking for?”
He replied, “I’m looking for my brothers. Can you tell me where they are grazing their flocks?”
“They have moved on from here,” the man answered. “I heard them say, ‘Let’s go to Dothan.’”
So Joseph went after his brothers and found them near Dothan. But they saw him in the distance, and before he reached them, they plotted to kill him.
“Here comes that dreamer!” they said to each other. “Come now, let’s kill him and throw him into one of these cisterns and say that a ferocious animal devoured him. Then we’ll see what comes of his dreams.”
When Reuben heard this, he tried to rescue him from their hands. “Let’s not take his life,” he said. “Don’t shed any blood. Throw him into this cistern here in the wilderness, but don’t lay a hand on him.” Reuben said this to rescue him from them and take him back to his father.
So when Joseph came to his brothers, they stripped him of his robe—the ornate robe he was wearing— and they took him and threw him into the cistern. The cistern was empty; there was no water in it.
As they sat down to eat their meal, they looked up and saw a caravan of Ishmaelites coming from Gilead. Their camels were loaded with spices, balm and myrrh, and they were on their way to take them down to Egypt.
Judah said to his brothers, “What will we gain if we kill our brother and cover up his blood? Come, let’s sell him to the Ishmaelites and not lay our hands on him; after all, he is our brother, our own flesh and blood.” His brothers agreed.
So when the Midianite merchants came by, his brothers pulled Joseph up out of the cistern and sold him for twenty shekels of silver to the Ishmaelites, who took him to Egypt.
When Reuben returned to the cistern and saw that Joseph was not there, he tore his clothes. He went back to his brothers and said, “The boy isn’t there! Where can I turn now?”
Then they got Joseph’s robe, slaughtered a goat and dipped the robe in the blood. They took the ornate robe back to their father and said, “We found this. Examine it to see whether it is your son’s robe.”
He recognized it and said, “It is my son’s robe! Some ferocious animal has devoured him. Joseph has surely been torn to pieces.”
Then Jacob tore his clothes, put on sackcloth and mourned for his son many days. All his sons and daughters came to comfort him, but he refused to be comforted. “No,” he said, “I will continue to mourn until I join my son in the grave.” So his father wept for him.
Meanwhile, the Midianites sold Joseph in Egypt to Potiphar, one of Pharaoh’s officials, the captain of the guard.

(If it seems like Joseph’s story isn’t quite finished, that’s because it is not. We will be looking at the second half of Joseph next week.

Begin asking observation questions: What happened? Who did it happen to? Who are the important people in the story? How did it happen? Why? Etc. See what emerges as an important theme to your students. Write down their observations and answers.

Ask the students for their questions. Write down all the questions that pop up, whether on-topic, or off (feel free to make a separate list for off-topic questions). Focus on answering the questions that are closer to the heart of the passage. Explain that questions that have sidetracked are also important, but we might need to come back next week with the answers to those.

As the children ask their questions, allow the group to respond with an answer, and make sure to back up these answers with text from the Bible. Ask the child who answers a question if they know somewhere in the Bible where they can find that answer.

Possible questions that might arise:
• What is slavery? (give historical context)
• Why would a brother want to kill or sell his own brother? sin! – Jesus said that anyone who says he “hates” his brother has committed murder in his heart…how might this apply to what we read today
• Who are the Midianites? context of history – group of people from Midian, sometimes Israel’s enemy – e.g., Gideon & the Midianites. Moses’ wife was from Midian(?) – check for accuracy…

Work together to find answers to any and all questions. Check google, trusted Bible commentaries, and the Bible itself. Always test your answers against what the Bible actually says. You may not be able to answer all the questions in one sitting. Make a list of questions you would like to research throughout the week, and come back to.

The Parable of the Prodigal Son

Dear Parents,
This week we looked at the Parable of the Prodigal Son. If you remember, we began eight weeks ago with the Parable of the Lost Sheep, learning about how God seeks and saves the Lost. This week’s parable shows just how much God is willing to do that. Grab a Bible and ask your children to tell you what a parable is. Jesus used parables when he was teaching. A parable is a story about something that you already know about, which helps you to understand something about God and his kingdom.

Ask your students to turn in their Bibles to Luke 15:11—

Jesus continued: “There was a man who had two sons. The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided his property between them.

“Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living. After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything.

“When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants.’ So he got up and went to his father.

“But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.

“The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’

“But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.

“Meanwhile, the older son was in the field. When he came near the house, he heard music and dancing. So he called one of the servants and asked him what was going on. ‘Your brother has come,’ he replied, ‘and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.’

“The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him. But he answered his father, ‘Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!’

“‘My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’”

Ask & Discuss:
• Who is the father in this story?
• Who are the sons? (prodigal & one who stayed home)? What in the Bible story makes you think this?
• What made the prodigal son return to his family’s home?
o Did you expect him to be welcomed back, or for the family to be angry?
• Why do you think the father had such a big celebration when the prodigal son came home?
• What can you learn about God from this story (how did the father treat his sons – the one who stayed and the lost one)?

Pray together thanking God for how he welcomes each of us back, no matter what we have done.

The Parable of the Talents

Dear Parents,
This week we looked at the Parable of the Talents (or bags of gold). Jesus used parables when he was teaching. A parable is a story about something that you already know about, which helps you to understand something about God and his kingdom. Some of the things we might read in the Bible aren’t part of our lives today, but we can still learn about God from the stories that Jesus told.

Ask your children to turn in their Bibles to Matthew 25:14—

“Again, it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted his wealth to them. To one he gave five bags of gold, to another two bags, and to another one bag, each according to his ability. Then he went on his journey. The man who had received five bags of gold went at once and put his money to work and gained five bags more. So also, the one with two bags of gold gained two more. But the man who had received one bag went off, dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money.

“After a long time the master of those servants returned and settled accounts with them. The man who had received five bags of gold brought the other five. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with five bags of gold. See, I have gained five more.’

“His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’

“The man with two bags of gold also came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with two bags of gold; see, I have gained two more.’

“His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’

“Then the man who had received one bag of gold came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘I knew that you are a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed. So I was afraid and went out and hid your gold in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you.’

“His master replied, ‘You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed? Well then, you should have put my money on deposit with the bankers, so that when I returned I would have received it back with interest.

“‘So take the bag of gold from him and give it to the one who has ten bags. For whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them. And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’

Ask the students to retell the story, what happened, and why they think the master responded to the servants as “well done” or “wicked and lazy”.
Ask & Discuss:
• Why do you think the master called the last servant “wicked and lazy?”
o What did he do/not do that made him lazy in the eyes of the master?
• Who is the master in the story?
• Who are the servants?
• What might the “talents” represent in the story. It’s money there, but what if I don’t have any money?
o What is something that God has given you?
o How can you use that to praise him and tell others about him?
• What is the word we use to describe someone who uses what they have in a good way? (responsible)
o Think of a time when you were responsible. Share with us.
o How can you be responsible with God’s gifts?

The Parable of the Great Feast

Dear Parents,
This week we looked at the Parable of the Great Feast. Jesus used parables when he was teaching. A parable is a story about something that you already know about, which helps you to understand something about God and his kingdom. Some of the things we might read in the Bible aren’t part of our lives today, but we can still learn about God from the stories that Jesus told.

Ask your children to turn in their Bibles to Luke 14:12 –

Then Jesus said to his host, “When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or sisters, your relatives, or your rich neighbors; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”
When one of those at the table with him heard this, he said to Jesus, “Blessed is the one who will eat at the feast in the kingdom of God.”
Jesus replied: “A certain man was preparing a great banquet and invited many guests. At the time of the banquet he sent his servant to tell those who had been invited, ‘Come, for everything is now ready.’
“But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said, ‘I have just bought a field, and I must go and see it. Please excuse me.’
“Another said, ‘I have just bought five yoke of oxen, and I’m on my way to try them out. Please excuse me.’
“Still another said, ‘I just got married, so I can’t come.’
“The servant came back and reported this to his master. Then the owner of the house became angry and ordered his servant, ‘Go out quickly into the streets and alleys of the town and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame.’
“‘Sir,’ the servant said, ‘what you ordered has been done, but there is still room.’
“Then the master told his servant, ‘Go out to the roads and country lanes and compel them to come in, so that my house will be full. I tell you, not one of those who were invited will get a taste of my banquet.’”

Ask the students to retell the story from what they remember. If you hear them make a claim that isn’t part of the story, ask them to show you where they see that in the Bible. Re-read verses as necessary to help them remember.

Ask & Discuss:
• Who did the king invite to the party first?
• Why did the guests make excuses not to come? (something else was more important)
• How did the king respond?
• Who do you think the king is in the story? Who are the people he invited?
o When God invites us to spend time with him, he is like the king.
o What things do you sometimes make more important than God? (share your examples too).
• Invite the kids to share observations about why Jesus might have told this story.
• How can we be ready to say yes to God? (How can we know when God is speaking to us?, Can we read the bible? Pray? What else?)

The Parable of the Wedding Feast

Dear Parents,
This week we looked at the Parable of the Great Feast. Jesus used parables when he was teaching. A parable is a story about something that you already know about, which helps you to understand something about God and his kingdom. Some of the things we might read in the Bible aren’t part of our lives today, but we can still learn about God from the stories that Jesus told.

Ask your children to turn in their Bibles to Luke 14:7 –

When he noticed how the guests picked the places of honor at the table, he told them this parable: “When someone invites you to a wedding feast, do not take the place of honor, for a person more distinguished than you may have been invited. If so, the host who invited both of you will come and say to you, ‘Give this person your seat.’ Then, humiliated, you will have to take the least important place. But when you are invited, take the lowest place, so that when your host comes, he will say to you, ‘Friend, move up to a better place.’ Then you will be honored in the presence of all the other guests. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”

Ask the students to retell the story from what they remember. If you hear them make a claim that isn’t part of the story, ask them to show you where they see that in the Bible. Re-read verses as necessary to help them remember.

Ask & Discuss:
• What do you do when you go to a party? Do you try to be the middle of attention?
• Invite the kids to share observations about why Jesus might have told this story. What do they think the disciples were thinking when he shared the story?
• What does it mean to be humble?
o How can you tell if someone is humble?
o Would you like to be humble? Is it a good thing?
o Why do you think that being humble was important to Jesus?

The Parable of the Good Samaritan

Dear Parents,
Jesus used parables when he was teaching. A parable is a story about something that you already know about, which helps you to understand something about God and his kingdom. Some of the things we might read in the Bible aren’t part of our lives today, but we can still learn about God from the stories that Jesus told.

Ask your children to turn in their Bibles to Luke 10:25.

On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus.

“Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

“What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?”

He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind;’ and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”

“You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”

But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”

In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’ “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”

The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”

Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”

Ask the students to retell the story from what they remember. If you hear them make a claim that isn’t part of the story, ask them to show you where they see that in the Bible. Re-read verses as necessary to help them remember.

Ask & Discuss:
• In the story, who did you expect to help the man who was hurt? Who actually helped him?
• Invite the kids to share observations about what happened, what the characters in the story were thinking, and why that might be good or bad.
• Do you sometimes act like the people who were too busy to help? Do you ever act like the Good Samaritan? Share an example with us.
• What does this parable tell you about loving your friends? People you don’t know? People you don’t like?

The Parable of the Unmerciful Servant

Dear Parents, Jesus used parables when he was teaching. A parable is a story about something that you already know about, which helps you to understand something about God and his kingdom. Some of the things we might read in the Bible aren’t part of our lives today, but we can still learn about God […]

The Parable of the Sower

Dear Parents,

This week, we looked closely at the Parable of the Sower. The Gospels record dozens of Jesus’ parables. A parable is a story Jesus told to help people understand the kingdom of God. Each parable taught a lesson and revealed secrets of God’s kingdom for those who would understand. (See Matt. 13:10-13.)

The parable of the sower would have resonated with those listening because they would have been familiar with the practice of sowing or planting seed. But the parable had a deeper meaning. It contained a lesson about God’s Word and the responses of those who hear it. In the parable, a sower’s seeds fell in four different places. Some of the seeds fell along the path, where they were eaten by birds. Other seeds fell on rocky ground. Those seeds had no roots, so they withered in the sun. Other seeds fell among thorns, and they were choked out. Other seeds fell on good soil, and they produced a crop—a hundred, sixty, or thirty times what was planted.

After Jesus told the parable, He explained it to His disciples. The soil represents people’s hearts, and the seed is the word about God’s kingdom. The person whose heart is like the hard soil hears the good news about God, but he does not understand it or he rejects it. The person whose heart is like the rocky soil is quick to receive the truth, but when life gets hard, he falls away. The person whose heart is like the thorny soil cares more about the things of the world than the good news about God, and the seed cannot grow. The person whose heart is like the good soil hears the good news about God and receives it. He bears fruit, more than what was planted. In the life of a believer, the fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22-23) is evident.

Jesus’ lesson still holds true today. Not everyone believes the truth about Jesus. Some don’t understand it, some believe in Jesus for selfish reasons, and some only want part of Jesus because they love other things more. But those who hear the gospel and understand who Jesus is will become like Jesus and share His good news with others.

The Parable of the Lost Sheep

Parents,

Jesus told parables to people when he was teaching. A parable is a story about something that you already know about, that helps you to understand something about God and his kingdom. When Jesus told parables, he talked about things that were common. Some of the things we might read in the Bible aren’t part of our lives today, but we can still learn about God from the stories that Jesus told.

Ask your children to turn in their Bibles to Luke 15:1.

By this time a lot of men and women of doubtful reputation were hanging around Jesus, listening intently. The Pharisees and religion scholars were not pleased, not at all pleased. They growled, “He takes in sinners and eats meals with them, treating them like old friends.” Their grumbling triggered this story.

“Suppose one of you had a hundred sheep and lost one. Wouldn’t you leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness and go after the lost one until you found it? When found, you can be sure you would put it across your shoulders, rejoicing, and when you got home call in your friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Celebrate with me! I’ve found my lost sheep!’ Count on it—there’s more joy in heaven over one sinner’s rescued life than over ninety-nine good people in no need of rescue.”

Ask them to retell the story, what happened, and what they think it might tell us about God.
Ask & Discuss:
• How do you feel when you lose something? What about when you find it again?
• Who are the sheep in the story? (99 vs. 1)
• Who is the shepherd in the story?
• Why did the shepherd rejoice when he found the sheep that was lost?
• If the shepherd represents God, how do you think God feels when he finds his lost sheep?
• Are there other things that this parable tells you? About Jesus? About people?

Jesus Will Return

Dear Parents,

Thank you for continuing this journey of The Gospel Project® for Kids. Today’s Bible story focuses on the last few chapters of the Book of Revelation. While he was a prisoner on the island of Patmos, the apostle John had an amazing vision of heaven. Jesus told John to write down everything he saw. John saw things that will happen when Jesus comes back to earth. Jesus—who entered Jerusalem humbly on a donkey—will come victoriously, riding on a white horse. His name will be on His robe and His thigh:

KING OF KINGS
AND LORD OF LORDS.

Satan and the evil ones will be defeated and thrown into the lake of fire. The Lord will be on His throne. Then out of heaven will come a new creation—a new heaven and a new earth. God will dwell with humanity. They will be His people, and He will be their God.

John described the beauty of the New City—the New Jerusalem. The streets will be pure gold, like clear glass. The foundations of the city wall will be adorned with precious stones. The city will not need the sun or the moon because God’s glory will illuminate it. There will be no darkness, and nothing evil will ever come into the city.

The promised return of Christ should fill believers with hope, strengthening them to persevere through the trials of this life and remain faithful to the Lord. When Christ returns, those who trust in Him will be with Him and enjoy Him forever. God will undo every bad thing caused by sin—no more death, no more pain, no more tears. Jesus is making all things new!

Christ’s return should also give believers a sense of urgency to share the gospel with the world. It is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes! (Rom. 1:16) Jesus is coming soon. Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!

Read Revelation 21:3-6. Provide paper, crayons, and markers for kids to draw a picture of what the New Earth will be like. Talk about what it will be like to live with God forever.