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More Middle School Talksheets on the New Testament, Epic Bible Stories52 Ready-to-Use Discussions
By David Lynn
ZONDERVANCopyright © 2010 David Lynn
All right reserved.
Chapter One1. Luke 2:8-20
ThE ShepherdS & ThE AngelS
Part of worship is experiencing the presence of God
1. What do you think surprised the shepherds the most?
___ The scary presence of angels ___ The fact that God had come to earth as a baby born into poverty ___ The arrival of Jesus, their Savior ___ The brightness of God's glory ___ The smell of the sheep
2. if you were one of the shepherds who heard this good news, what would it make you want to do?
Run and hide Run out and tell others Pinch myself to see if I was dreaming Wonder if it was something I ate Ask if the message could be repeated Stand up and cheer
3. if i were a shepherd and heard about Jesus, i would rush to find him.
Yes No Maybe
4. The shepherds experienced god's presence in their worship together. In which of the following actions do you experience god's presence while you are with your congregation in worship? (Check all that apply.)
Giving your offering of money Saying the Lord's Prayer Singing praise songs Listening to the Bible read out loud Singing traditional hymns Listening to a sermon Watching a skit or drama presentation Listening to announcements Hearing the closing prayer Watching a movie clip
5. Which people in the story are you most like?
___ I am more like the shepherds who worshiped Christ. ___ I am more like the Bethlehem townspeople who were surprised by the story the shepherds told about the angels.
1. ThE ShEphErdS & ThE aNGElS-part of worship is experiencing the presence of God (Luke 2:8-20)
READ OUT LOUD
The Roman Empire was experiencing Pax Romana, or Roman Peace, that was brought about by the brutal force of the Roman military. Violently crushing any rebellion on the part of its subjects, Rome ruled supreme. The Roman Empire's few citizens enjoyed this peace while the majority of those living under Roman rule were slaves. Then comes the announcement of the angels (a hymn called "Gloria in Excelsis Deo")-"Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests." You can read the story in Luke 2:8-20.
What adult do you admire most?
DISCUSS, BY THE NUMBERS
1. Use this item to begin a faith conversation about what your group members think surprised the shepherds. Then move your discussion to today-"What surprised you the most when you first heard about Jesus?" "What surprises you the most today about Jesus?"
2. Listen to your group members' responses. Ask, "How is the good news that the shepherds heard the same good news that is told about Jesus today?"
3. See which of the three responses, "Yes, No, or Maybe," were picked the most frequently. Ask, "Why would you rush (or not rush) to find Jesus?" "How much of a rush are you in to find Jesus this Christmas season?"
4. Use this item to prompt a faith conversation about experiencing God's presence in corporate worship. Ask your group to describe what they would do the same and different in worship so that everyone could experience God's presence.
5. Find out who each of your group members see themselves as most like in the story-the shepherds or the townspeople. Share who you are most like. Encourage honesty rather than Sunday school answers. Use this as an opportunity to talk about how both groups of people-the shepherds and the townspeople-experienced God's presence in worship.
Part of worship is experiencing God's presence. We do that together as a congregation and individually throughout the week in our everyday relationship with God. The shepherds experienced God's presence as they worshiped, just like Joseph and Mary, the angels, and probably some of the townspeople.
God is always present in our lives-whether or not we "feel" God close to us. Let us worship God as we become aware of God's presence!
2. Luke 1:67-75
JeSuS IS ComInG SOON
Getting ready to celebrate Jesus' birth
1. zechariah learned from the Holy Spirit that Jesus, the Messiah, would arrive soon. Finish this sentence: As Christmas day gets closer to arriving, i want to ...
2. What is one word that best describes how you feel when you think of Jesus' coming at Christmas time?
Hope Love Peace Anticipation Thankfulness Forgiveness
3. What do you think-T (true) or f (false)?
___ Christmas reminds us of the people we love. ___ Christmas reminds us that we need more stuff. ___ Christmas reminds us of Jesus' message of forgiveness. ___ Christmas reminds us that we need to find the perfect gifts for those on our list. ___ Christmas reminds us that we don't make enough money. ___ Christmas reminds us we need to decorate. ___ Christmas reminds us we have hope. ___ Christmas reminds us that everyone will go to heaven. ___ Christmas reminds us we should celebrate the birth of Jesus. ___ Christmas reminds us God is alive and working in the world.
4. What is one new thing you can do to get ready to celebrate Christ's birth?
Perform a secret act of service for one of the members of my family. Go without food for a day as I anticipate the arrival of Christ on Christmas Day. Read my Bible twice each day in the month of December. Set aside 30 minutes to pray one day in December. Talk with my family about Jesus every day in December. Buy a special gift for my family that demonstrates my love for Christ. Pray for others every day. Be more grateful. Donate things I am no longer using so that someone else can have a better Christmas. Share with someone the reason that I celebrate Christmas.
5. Christ came first as a baby, which we celebrate at Christmas. Christ is coming again. When you think about Christ's second coming, what one word best describes how you feel?
Sad Worried Scared Uncertain Excited Apathetic Other _____
2. JESuS IS COmING SOON-Getting ready to celebrate Jesus' birth (Luke 1:67-75)
READ OUT LOUD
The father of John the Baptizer was none other than Zechariah, the hero in today's story. Zechariah was a Jewish priest at the time of Christ's birth. He was visited by the angel Gabriel and told of the coming birth of his son John (called John the Baptist or John the Baptizer). Because Zechariah didn't believe Gabriel, he was unable to speak until his son's birth. At the birth of John the Baptizer, Zechariah predicted the coming birth of Jesus. This prophecy-in the form of a hymn called the "Benedictus"-prepares us to celebrate Christ's birth. Read the prophecy found in Luke 1:67-75.
How long does it take you to get ready for school in the morning?
DISCUSS, BY THE NUMBERS
1. Use this item to start a faith conversation about getting ready to celebrate the birth of Jesus. Listen to the group's responses to the sentence stem. Talk about the need to get our hearts and minds ready for the celebration of Christ's birth.
2. See if there were one or two words that were identified the most. Ask your group to identify the reasons behind each of the feeling words.
3. See commentary in bold after each statement.
Christmas reminds us of the people we love. Christmas is a time for good family memories for some and memories of pain for others. Let group members who have painful memories share them in a safe way.
Christmas reminds us that we need more stuff. debate this one. Look at the pros and cons of focusing on "stuff" during the Christmas season. Ask, "What would Christmas be like if we bypassed gift-giving and focused exclusively on the birth of Christ through prayer, fasting, Bible reading, worship, and other spiritual disciplines?"
Christmas reminds us of Jesus' message of forgiveness. Again, debate this one. Ultimately, Christ and the salvation he brings to us is the reason for the season.
Christmas reminds us that we need to find the perfect gifts for those on our list. debate this one.
Christmas reminds us that we don't make enough money. Sadly, for many, Christmas is a time of getting into debt or thinking that the size of the gift is the reason for the season.
Christmas reminds us we need to decorate. There is nothing wrong with decorating unless it takes away from the message of Christ at Christmas.
Christmas reminds us to have hope. Ask, "How often do we reflect on the hope we have in Christ?"
Christmas reminds us that everyone will go to heaven. Will everyone go to heaven? The Bible is clear that only those who repent and believe in Jesus are saved.
Christmas reminds us we should celebrate the birth of Jesus. f or some it does while for many it reminds them of parties, time off work, and buying gifts they can't afford.
Christmas reminds us God is alive and working in the world. Christmas is a great reminder of what god did over 2,000 years ago and what he is doing now!
4. What were the five most popular ideas checked by your group members? Talk about other ideas your group may have for getting ready to celebrate Christ's birth.
5. Figure out which one or two words were chosen most. Talk about how we ought to live because Christ is coming again. Read and discuss 2 Peter 3:10-11.
But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar, the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare. Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives. (2 Peter 3:10-11)
As Christmas quickly approaches we need to be reminded of the words of Zechariah's song. God rescued us in Jesus Christ. God provided the way of salvation so that we can serve him.
Read Luke 1:74-75. "To rescue us from the hand of our enemies, and to enable us to serve him without fear in holiness and righteousness before him all our days.
3. Matthew 2:1-12
ThE WISE meN lOOK FOR JeSuS
Everyone is seeking something
1. How many people are searching for a relationship with Jesus?
More than there were in the past About the same as there were in the past Fewer than there were in the past
2. if i saw the wise men following the star, i would have-
Joined them Wondered what they were doing, then forgot about them Made fun of them Hid in a cave Gone ahead of them
3. The star led the wise men to Bethlehem. What or who leads you the most? (Check only one.)
A teacher at school Advertising My friends An adult at my church My pastor's sermons Video games Parents/grandparents The Bible My music The opposite sex Jesus Alcohol/drugs Extended family My appearance Achievement (in class, in sports)
4. People are distracted more today from seeking Christ than they were in Jesus' time.
5. do you consider yourself a follower of Christ?
6. What do you want to get out of being a follower of Christ?
A good feeling Answers to all my prayers Forgiveness of my sins A best friend A ticket into heaven
3. ThE wISE mEN I lOOk fOr JESuS-Everyone is seeking something (Matthew 2:1-12)
READ OUT LOUD
The wise men-the Bible never says how many-were educated men from what is now the area of Saudi Arabia, Iraq, and Iran. They were schooled in astronomy, philosophy, religion, and medicine. And they were searching for Jesus. Read the story found in Matthew 2:1-12.
When you get home from school, what is the first thing you look for?
DISCUSS, BY THE NUMBERS
1. In the United States church attendance has declined. The United States appears to be taking the road Great Britain and Europe have taken by becoming more and more secular. While church attendance is not the only indicator of interest in Jesus, it is the best data we have and probably does indicate less interest in Jesus in the United States. Central and South America, Africa, and parts of Asia are showing much more interest in Jesus and Christianity.
2. Ask, "What do you think the wise men were seeking?" "What do you think Herod was seeking?"
3. Take this opportunity to discuss those things that lead us in good and bad directions. Ask, "Which of these things can lead you astray?" "Which will lead you to Jesus?"
4. People are distracted by all kinds of things- false religions, seeking pleasure, striving to make more money.
5. Talk for a minute about what it means to be a follower of Christ. Ask, "Do you think the wise men became Christ-followers?" Spend time talking with your group about how the forgiveness we have in Christ rights our relationship with God so that we can be friends with God.
6. What do you want to get out of being a follower of Christ?
A good feeling-you can get a good feeling by exercising, eating a great dessert, or going on a fun vacation; you don't need Jesus for a great feeling.
Answers to all my prayers-following Jesus doesn't mean you will get all that you pray for.
Forgiveness of my sins-following Christ does give you this, something you can't get anywhere else.
A best friend-Jesus is the best friend you will ever have.
A ticket into heaven-following Christ will get you into heaven, but this can't be the reason we follow him. We should follow Christ because he is the way, the truth, and the life-there is nowhere else for us to turn.
No matter your social status, your family background, or your education, everyone is seeking something. Some seek pleasure, others power or spiritual enlightenment. The Bible clearly points to Jesus as the only one who will satisfy the spiritual vacuum that exists in our souls.
4. Luke 3:1-20
John The BApTIzer prepAreS The WAy
God wants us to introduce others to Jesus
1. Who first told you about Jesus?
A parent or grandparent A friend A neighbor A Sunday school teacher A pastor A book Who's Jesus? Other: _____________________
2. Are you more like John the Baptizer or the crowds listening to him?
John the Baptizer introducing others to Jesus The crowd who listened
3. Why do you think so many people were attracted to John the Baptizer?
He acted differently than all the religious people they knew. He wore stylish clothes. He promised them riches if they turned to God. He told them the truth about God. He gave them a purpose for living. He had a weight-loss plan that worked. He pointed them to Jesus.
4. Which one would you choose? if someone asked me about Jesus i would-
a) Change the subject b) Walk away c) Tell them to go talk to a pastor d) Tell them what Jesus has done for me
5. "i tried the church thing once," said Bethany. "My mom made me go to Sunday school after she and my dad got divorced. The kids seemed pretty stuck up. No one talked to me, so I finally stopped going. Why do you want to know?"
Alyssa and Bethany really didn't know each other very well. Bethany just moved to town. Alyssa knew that it was hard to be the new kid, so she had started talking to Bethany during lunch. They mostly just asked each other questions about their favorite movies, kinds of chocolate, and subjects in school. But the last question had stopped the conversation cold. Alyssa had asked Bethany if she and her mom had found a church to go to yet. Now Bethany wanted to know why Alyssa wanted to know. What should Alyssa say?
Excerpted from More Middle School Talksheets on the New Testament, Epic Bible Stories by David Lynn Copyright © 2010 by David Lynn. Excerpted by permission.
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