Summer is one of those times of the year when you hope to escape your normal day-to-day and head off on a family vacation. Perhaps you have a passport and hope to fill it with stamps and visas from around the world or maybe you keep albums filled with photos from the places you’ve seen and the people you’ve met along the way.
But when you think about it, these aren’t just passport stamps and travel photos, they are stories capturing moments we lived. As we travel the world and experience the different landscapes and cultures, often we can’t help but notice that no matter where in the world we are, God is already there and up to something amazing.
The prophet Isaiah writes, “The whole earth is filled with God’s glory.” And that glory was made real when 2,000-some years ago a REAL human was born, lived a perfect life, died, and rose again. Of course, that man is Jesus. And throughout the past 2,000 years since, His story—His LIFE—has been changing the world.
This summer we’re excited for kids to experience that life-changing story of Jesus and put their faith in Him.
We’ll talk about faith like this: Believing that what Jesus did can change me. Our hope is that kids discover that no matter where they are in the world, the story of Jesus can change them too.
This summer, we get to view the story of Jesus through a man whose life was radically changed when we encountered the story of Jesus. He went from a person who did whatever it took to stop the message of Jesus from spreading to one who ended up writing most of the New Testament of the Bible and dying for his faith in Jesus. This man, as you may have already guessed, is Paul. He went all over the known world preaching the Story of Jesus. We’ll explore where in the world Paul was and how we fit into his story too.
We continue our look at Paul’s journey in Acts 15:1-35 with an important meeting that happened in Jerusalem. Paul and the rest of the disciples were arguing about if people who weren’t Jewish had to become Jewish in order to follow Jesus. At the end, they decide that the story of Jesus is for everyone. Nothing should stand in the way of people coming to faith in Jesus.
Bottom Line: The story of Jesus is for everybody. It doesn’t matter who you are, what you’ve done, or where you’re from. God’s gift of salvation, through Jesus, is for everyone. When kids start understanding this, we hope that it inspires them to help ALL their friends find out more about Jesus.
Our Memory Verse is Ephesians 2:8. “God’s grace has saved you because of your faith in Christ. Your salvation doesn’t come from anything you do. It is God’s gift.”We can’t earn God’s grace. And while it cost God His own Son, it costs us nothing. It’s God’s gift!
In Acts 21-36, 25:23-26:32, we find out more about an opportunity that Paul had to share his story with King Agrippa. Paul told King Agrippa that he believed Jesus was the Son of God. That truth was bigger than any other faith story because Jesus actually lived, died, and rose again to save us. This is proof that the Story of Jesus is way bigger than any other story.
Bottom Line: The story of Jesus is bigger than every other story. There are many voices that a child hears in his or her life. From what’s talked about on TV to the music they hear and the friends they find at school. We pray that kids start to realize that no matter what they hear from those competing voices, they can believe that the Story of Jesus is the one upon which they can put their faith.
In the third week, we’ll take a look at something Paul wrote while he was under house arrest. He was hoping to encourage the early churches in Ephesus. In Ephesians 4:32, Paul writes how we should forgive others because of the way God forgave us through Jesus.
Bottom Line: The story of Jesus changes how I forgive others. Even though Paul wrote these words a couple thousand years ago, they are still true for us today. We hope kids start to realize how much God forgave them, and they can respond to that forgiveness by forgiving the people in their own life.
Next we head to Acts 27:1–28:10 where we discover that Paul was shipwrecked on his way to Rome. This was obviously something Paul never planned, but his faith in God never wavered. God used that whole ordeal to help others put their faith in Jesus.
Bottom Line: The story of Jesus changes how I see my problems. No matter what we face in life, we can believe that God will help us through the tough times. While it may not turn out as we’d expect, we can trust that God has our best in mind. This changes how we see and respond the problems we face.
We’ll finish up our Where in the World series with something else that Paul wrote to the church at Ephesus. In Ephesians 4:4-6, 15b-16, Paul cast vision for how we need to work together to accomplish everything that God wants us to do.
Bottom Line: The story of Jesus changes how we work together. We can work together using the gifts that God gave us. When we believe in the story of Jesus, life is not just about me anymore. It’s about me working with others to continuing helping even more people hear and believe that Jesus is who He said He was.