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.

God’s Warning to Seven Churches

Dear Parents,
Thank you for continuing this journey of The Gospel Project® for Kids. Can you feel it? We are so very close to the end of the Bible, but it is certainly not the end of God’s plan to save sinners. Today’s Bible story teaches kids about John’s vision of Jesus in the Book of Revelation. The Book of Revelation is the last book of the Bible and it tells about things that will happen in the future. A glimpse of the future kingdom of God gives believers hope and compels them to remain faithful to Christ and to tell others about Him.

The apostle John wrote the Book of Revelation from the island of Patmos. John was likely sent to Patmos as a prisoner, arrested for preaching the gospel. The Book of Revelation opens with John’s description of a vision. In the vision, Jesus warned seven local churches in Asia. In most cases, Jesus commended the church for their good work, warned them about the areas in which they needed correction, and urged them to return to Him. Each time, Jesus promised to reward those who remain faithful to Him.

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

The early churches faced some problems. They did not love like they should, they believed false teaching and did wrong things, and they were lukewarm—useless to the cause of Christ. Churches still face these problems today. We can pray for our churches to be faithful, effective instruments in spreading the gospel.

Jesus is “the Alpha and the Omega” (Rev. 1:8). In the Greek alphabet, alpha is the first letter and omega is the last. Jesus is the A to Z. Jesus is the beginning and the end, but not just those; He is everything in-between. Jesus made all things. (John 1:3) He is in control of all things. He holds all things together. (Col. 1:17) And He is coming back someday!

Open your Bible to Revelation 1–3 and briefly review Jesus’ message to the churches. Invite a family member to read Revelation 3:19. Talk about how Jesus loved each of these churches, and He warned them against sinning. Jesus also encouraged them to do what is right. Invite family members to write or draw encouraging notes to one another this week.

Christ’s Return is Anticipated

Dear Parents, This week in The Gospel Project® for Kids, our journey takes us to the church that Paul planted in Thessalonica. The Bible says that the Day of the Lord will be a time of judgment for evildoers (Mal. 4:1) and a time of salvation and deliverance for believers (Rom. 11:26). The Day of […]

Faith in Action Sunday

Dear Parents,
This week was Faith in Action Sunday. We spent the day out in the community BEING the church. If you missed us, you can always do something to better the world around you during the week! Below are a few ideas you can do together as a family.

1. Make cards for Senior Citizens.
2. Donate kids’ craft kits to a local children’s hospital.
3. Organize a board game night at your local nursing home. Gather your friends and favorite classic games, and plan a fun afternoon.
4. Decorate placemats for Meals on Wheels.
5. Organize a food drive in your neighborhood, church, or school.
6. Have a garage sale or lemonade stand for your favorite cause.
7. Plan an afternoon of fun: crafts, a movie and popcorn afternoon, or a kickball tournament at a children’s home or refugee center. Plan a day of fun!
8. When school supplies are very cheap at the beginning of the year, pack up a backpack and supplies for a local child in need (the YMCA frequently collects these, in addition to other organizations).
9. Bring gently used board games and decks of cards to a local homeless shelter.
10. Put on gloves and pick up litter at your local park.
11. Write a letter to your elected official about a cause you believe in.
12. Collect DVD’s and videogames you no longer use/watch and donate them to a Children’s Hospital for patients, or to KidFlicks, an organization that set up movie libraries in the children’s wards of hospitals.
13. Volunteer at an animal shelter- play with the dogs and cats, help to brush them, and clean up after them.
14. Read stories to or share your talent with younger neighborhood children.
15. Stuff warm socks with snacks and fruit to pass out to people who are homeless.
16. Secretly rake leaves or shovel snow for a neighbor in need.
17. Make sure your school is recycling- talk to your city hall to get recycling bins for all of the classrooms and make posters to explain what materials can be recycled.
18. Hold a “dog wash” to raise money for a local animal shelter.
19. Volunteer to read letters or the newspaper to residents in nursing homes.
20. Collect used sporting equipment and donate to communities that do not have access (such as Level the Playing Field to help kids in the US or IAYS that works with the Peace Corps to deliver worldwide).
21. Go through the books you’ve grown out of and donate them to the waiting room of a local dentist or doctor.
22. Grow extra fruit and vegetables in your garden to donate to a food bank.
23. Hold a spa day at a nearby nursing home for residents: paint their nails and do their hair and make-up.
24. Donate your gently used stuffed animals to a local firehouse or police station to give to children in emergencies.
25. Find out when the next sporting event is for your local Special Olympics teams, and go there as cheerleaders for the participants with signs, balloons, and noisemakers.
26. Work with your friends to make a “New Student” guide to your town that includes your favorite parks, a map of the neighborhood, and fun things to do.
27. Plant a garden or tree that your school or neighborhood can enjoy.

Shipwreck!

Dear Parents,

Thank you for continuing this journey of The Gospel Project® for Kids. Last week, kids learned that through the prophet Agabus, the Holy Spirit had told Paul that he would be bound if he went back to Jerusalem, and that’s exactly what happened in today’s Bible story. Some Jews in Jerusalem accused Paul of teaching against God. They tried to kill him, but a Roman army commander stopped them and arrested Paul. Paul had been born a Roman citizen, and his status as such protected him from an unjustified beating.

While in prison, the Lord told Paul that he would one day teach about Him in Rome. Rome was one of the most powerful and influential cities of that day. But Paul spent two years in prison before he was sent to Rome to give his defense to Caesar. Along the way, the ship Paul was sailing on wrecked near the island of Malta. But God kept everyone safe, and Paul had a chance to pray for people who lived on the island. He even healed some of them.

Months later, Paul reached Rome. He was still a prisoner, but he was allowed to stay in a house by himself with a guard. He taught everyone who visited him about Jesus and the kingdom of God. Everyone there knew Paul was in prison for teaching about the Messiah. (Phil. 1:12-13)

Paul’s work to spread the good news of Jesus continued in Rome. No punishment or suffering kept Paul from telling others about Jesus. The Holy Spirit gives believers power to share the gospel all over the world so people will know and love Jesus.

If weather permits, take a trip with your family to a lake, pond, or creek. Make boats out of leaves and twigs and sail them on the water. Open your Bible to Acts 27 and briefly review Paul’s shipwreck. Invite a family member to read Acts 27:24-26. Guide kids to write “Take courage” on sticky notes as a reminder that God helps us carry out His mission.

The Ephesus Mob

Dear Parents,

Thank you for continuing this journey of The Gospel Project® for Kids. Today’s Bible story picks up with Paul’s third missionary journey. Paul traveled from place to place, teaching about Jesus and encouraging the believers. Luke, the writer of Acts, records that a major disturbance arose in Ephesus concerning Christians. Ephesus was a large city in Asia Minor. It was a central location for politics, religions, and business.

Some men there made their living by making silver shrines for false gods, like the goddess Artemis. If people started to believe what Paul was saying, they could lose their livelihood! The men started a riot. Paul wanted to speak to the people, but the disciples would not let him. They feared for Paul’s life. After the uproar was over, Paul left for Macedonia.

In Troas, a city in Macedonia, Paul spoke about Jesus late into the night. One young man named Eutychus (YOO tih kuhs) was sitting on a window sill, listening, when he fell asleep. He fell out the window from the third story and died. But Paul—through the power of God—brought him back to life.

Sometime later, Paul decided to go back to Jerusalem. Along the way, a prophet named Agabus came to Paul. He took Paul’s belt and tied his own feet and hands. Then he said that the Jews in Jerusalem would bind Paul’s hands and feet in the same way. Paul’s friends begged him not to go. But Paul was not afraid to be arrested—or even to die—for the name of Jesus, so Paul kept going toward Jerusalem.

Paul told about Jesus even when he was in danger. Paul shared the gospel with people who didn’t know Jesus. He told people to turn from their sins and trust in Jesus, and he encouraged believers in the church to keep loving Jesus. God changed the people’s hearts, and they turned away from their sin. The good news about Jesus is powerful and life-giving.

Read Acts 21:10-14 to your family. Talk about Paul’s willingness to suffer and even die for the good news about Jesus. Talk about some ways Christians in your neighborhood, city, or country face trouble for being disciples of Jesus. Pray for Christians all around the world to be encouraged.

Paul’s Escape from Prison

Dear Parents,

The first time Paul and Silas set foot on European soil they get a fine initial welcome from God-fearing Lydia. But then things turn ugly.

Paul and Silas free a slave girl from an evil spirit. That runs them into deep trouble with the girl’s owners, who had profited handsomely from her misery. Angry about their loss of revenue, they take revenge by having the missionaries flogged and thrown into jail. Paul and Silas must stand uprights throughout the long night with their feet painfully secured in stocks.

Despite their agony God gives them the power to endure and to turn this calamity into an opportunity to spread the gospel. They keep on “praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them.” That the Spirit gives them such power of faithful endurance is miracle enough. But then God sends a violent earthquake that throws open the prison doors and frees the prisoners from their chains. The jailer goes into a panic. If his prisoners escape, he knows he will be publicly humiliated, tortured, and executed—along with his family. To forestall those horrors, he’s about to take his own life.

Paul intervenes. Looking beyond his own agony, he reaches out to the desperately lost soul. Paul reassures the Philippian jailer that the prisoners have not escaped. This leads the jailer to ask the question: “What must I do to be saved?” Paul and Silas show him how to escape not just the wrath of earthly authorities but also the judgment of eternal God.

Hearing the gospel, the jailer believes and is baptized, along with his whole household. He’s instantly transformed. Before his conversion he was a needlessly cruel “host.” He gave Paul and Silas a very rude welcome. But now the jailer treats them with genuine hospitality. Incredibly, this new and surprising way of living pops up in someone who has been a believer for less than ten minutes! From there it can only get better.

Here’s your chance to practice worshiping God anywhere, just like Paul and Silas did! Wherever you go this week, challenge each other to worship God. Start up a song and your family members will likely join you. You can memorize this simple phrase: In song and prayer, God is there.