WELCOME TO GOD S FAMILY

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1 WELCOME TO GOD S FAMILY To all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband s will, but born of God. John 1:12-13

2 Loving God Jesus said, Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. Matthew 22:37 Welcome to God s family. You have just started a new life as a believer in Jesus Christ. The Bible tells us that the beginning of the Christian life is a new spiritual birth. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. (John 3:6) Just as your physical life began when your mother gave birth to you, you now have a new spiritual life that has been given to you by God through the work of the Holy Spirit. God has given you this new life as a member of his family because He loves you. For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16) Because of God s love, He sent his only Son, Jesus, to earth to become a human being, to die on cross for your sins, and to defeat the power of evil and death in your life by raising Jesus from the dead. As a result, when you who believed in Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior, you received forgiveness of sins and eternal life. Christians call this salvation. When you were saved through faith in Jesus you were born again as a member of God s family. : Now that you are part of this wonderful family, what should you do next? Jesus said that what God wants you to do most is to love God! Jesus said, Love the Lord with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. (Matthew 22:37) This means that your relationship with God should be an exclusive relationship, like a marriage relationship. A person who is married should love only their spouse. The person should not give part of their love to their spouse and part of their love to another person. In the same way, God your Father who sent Jesus to save you does not want to share your love with another god. He does not want you to worship or serve the god of another religion. God your Father wants you to worship and serve only Him. He wants you to love Him completely, with your whole heart, soul and mind. When two people love each other, they want to spend time together. By talking together and experiencing life together, they come to understand one another s thinking, will and desires. In this way, they become one. In the same way, since God loves you and you love Him, you need to spend time with God so that you can know Him. The best way to do this is to spend some time with God each day in prayer and Bible study. When you pray, you talk to God, telling Him your thoughts, feelings, and desires, and asking Him to forgive your sins. The Bible is God s Word, so when you read the Bible, God speaks to you through His Word. He tells you about Himself, about how He relates to human beings, and about His will for your life. You should begin your personal time with God today! You can begin by doing this for only 15 minutes a day. In a notebook, write down the main thoughts that come to your mind as you spend time in prayer and reading God s Word. Later, you will be able to look back over these notes to see what God has taught you and how your relationship with God has grown. As you continue your Christian life and your relationship with God becomes deeper, you will want to spend more and more time with God in prayer and Bible study. Small Group Application: 1. Read 1 John 1:1-10. Before reading ask God to use this time to teach you about God, yourself, your relationship with God, and God s will for your life. Read over 1 John 1:1-10 completely. Then go back and read it a second time more slowly. As you read it the second time, answer the following questions together.

3 (4) What is the application of this passage to your everyday life? 2. Now spend some time in prayer. Use the following statements as a model for your prayer. Write your main thoughts and impressions in your notebook. (4) Today I want to pray for... (the needs of other people you know) Personal Application 1. Read John 3: Before reading ask God to use this time to teach you about God, yourself, your relationship with God, and God s will for your life. Read John 3:16-18 completely. Then go back and read it a second time more slowly. As you read it the second time, write you answer to the following questions about this passage in your notebook. (4) What is the application of this passage to your everyday life? 2. Pray each day using the model for prayer provided in number 2 under small group application.

4 Joining God s Family Baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit Matthew 28:19b 1. What is one thing that God taught you this week through your personal application? 2. How can you apply what God has taught you to your everyday life? Just as every parent looks forward to the day when His child will take his first step, God also looks forward to the day when you will take your first step in your new life as a follower of Jesus Christ. That important first step is baptism. When you believed in Jesus as your Lord and Savior, you became a new person. The old person you once were, controlled by fear, worry and selfish desires, ceased to exist. The old person has died and in its place a new person has been born, now controlled by love, joy, and God s Spirit. Baptism is a visible symbol of this spiritual birth that you have experienced. In Romans 6:3-4 is written: Don t you know that all of us who were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Jesus was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may have new life. Baptism is not a rule that you must obey in order to receive salvation. Rather, baptism is an opportunity that Jesus has given to you. Baptism is an opportunity to give visible, public testimony to Christians, family and friends of your faith in Jesus Christ. Baptism identifies you as a child of God, a member of His family. When you are baptized you say to the whole world, I am no longer the person that I once was, controlled by fear, doubt and my own selfish desires. I am a new person, changed by the power of God s Spirit to do good works and witness for Jesus Christ. I am a child of God. : 1. Why should a person be baptized? 2. What may cause a person to hesitate being baptized? As a member of God s family, you can now participate fully in the life of the church. Through church life, Christians meet together to strengthen and encourage one another. This happens as Christians express their love for God and share the love that God has given them for one another. The result is worship, fellowship, teaching and ministry. In worship, you can express your love for God through songs of praise, prayer, and proclamation of the Word of God. In fellowship, you can experience the love that God has given to us for one another to care for each other s needs and to bear one another s burdens. In teaching, you can learn principles from the Bible so that you will know how to live life God s way, according to His will. In ministry, you can use your experiences, talents and spiritual gifts to share God s love and to serve other people. Small Group Application 1. In the New Testament, when people became believers in Jesus they were usually baptized immediately. Baptism is the first step of your new life as a child of God. Baptism is an opportunity to share with your family, friends and other Christians your commitment to follow Christ. Talk about what you have learned about baptism in your small group. 2. What are some questions that you still have about baptism? 3. Now spend some time in prayer. Use the following statements as a model for your prayer. Write your main thoughts and impressions in your notebook. (4) Today I want to pray for... (the needs of other people)

5 Personal Application 1. Read Acts 2: Write answers to the following questions in your notebook. (1) What did you learn about baptism? (2) What questions do you have about baptism? 2. This week read 1 John 2:1-17. Before reading ask God to use this time to teach you about God, yourself, your relationship with God, and God s will for your life. Read over 2:1-17 completely. Then go back and read it a second time more slowly. As you read it the second time, write you answer to the following questions about this passage in your notebook. (4) What is the application of this passage to your everyday life? 3. Now spend some time in prayer each day. Use the following statements as a model for your prayer. Write your main thoughts and impressions in your notebook. (4) Today I want to pray for... (the needs of other people) 4. When will you take the first step of your new life by being baptized? In your notebook write about when you would like to be baptized and special people (family and friends) that you want to invite to your baptism. Also, write about any possible difficulty or opposition to your baptism.

6 Following Jesus And teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I will be with you always, to the very end of the age. Matthew 28:20 1. What is one thing that God taught you this week through your personal application? 2. How can you apply what God has taught you to your everyday life? When you believed in Jesus as your Lord and Savior you became a child of God. (1 John 5:1) You know that God loves you because He sent Jesus to die on the cross and to be resurrected from the dead so that you can have forgiveness of sins and eternal life. But how can you let God know that you love Him? By spending time with Him in prayer and Bible study? Yes. By loving and serving other people? Yes. By telling other people about Jesus? Yes. By gathering with other Christians for worship, fellowship, teaching and ministry? Yes. Another way to say this is that you can tell God how much you love Him by obeying Him, by serving Him, by doing what He has commanded. This is how we know that we love the children of God: by loving God and carrying out his commands. This is love for God: to obey his commands. And his commands are not burdensome, for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. (1 John 5:2-4) Jesus is not only your Savior. He is also the perfect example of obedience to God. When Jesus was baptized, God the Father said, This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. (Matthew 3:17) Jesus himself said, The one who sent me is with me; he has not left me alone, for I always do what pleases him. (John 8:29) God s goal for your life is that you will become like Jesus. God wants you to have the same character, attitude and actions that Jesus has. If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should not look to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death even death on a cross. (Philippians 2:1-8) 1. Have each person share one or two words that describe Jesus character? 2. What characteristics of Jesus would you like to have? God knows that you cannot follow Jesus example perfectly by yourself. No one can be perfect like Jesus. In fact, God does not want you to try on your own to be like Jesus. When you became a believer in Jesus, God sent his Spirit, called the Holy Spirit, to live in you. What God wants you to do is allow the Holy Spirit to work in you. God wants you to allow the Holy Spirit to direct your life. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. (Galatians 5:24-25) The change that the Holy Spirit wants to bring in your life will not come quickly. In fact, He will not finish His work until the time that you go to be with God in heaven. In this life, you will always struggle with weakness, temptation and sin. The difference is that before you became a Christian you had to struggle with these things by yourself; now you have God s Spirit with you to help you. The result of the Holy Spirit s work in your life will come slowly, but it will be wonderful. The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

7 (Galatians 5:22-23). This spiritual fruit is really a description of Jesus own character reproduced through the work of God s Spirit in His children. Small Group Application 1. Discuss the follow questions: (1) What does it mean to follow Jesus? (2) How can you apply what you have learned about following Jesus to your life this week? 2. Now spend some time in prayer. Use the following statements as a model for your prayer. Write your main thoughts and impressions in your notebook. (4) Today I want to pray for... (the needs of other people) Personal Application 1. Read 1 John 3: Before reading ask God to use this time to teach you about God, yourself, your relationship with God, and God s will for your life. Read over 1 John 3:11-24 completely. Then go back and read it a second time more slowly. As you read it the second time, write you answer to the following questions about this passage in your notebook. (4) What is the application of this passage to your everyday life? 2. Spend some time in prayer each day. Use the following statements as a model for your prayer. Write your main thoughts and impressions in your notebook. (4) Today I want to pray for... (the needs of other people) 3. Try to apply what you learned about following Jesus in today s lesson to your life this week. Be prepared to share with your small group what God teaches you through this experience.

8 Sharing Your Story Then Jesus came to them and said, All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations. Matthew 28:18-19a 1. What is one thing that God taught you this week through your personal application? 2. How can you apply what God has taught you to your everyday life? When Jesus said, All authority on heaven and earth has been given to me, He meant that there is nothing in the universe that could prevent Him from completing the work that God gave Him to do. According to Romans 8:38-39: Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Because of God s love, God sent Jesus into the world to provide people with forgiveness of sins and eternal life. Now that you are a Christian, God wants you to participate in the work that Jesus began. You can do this by telling your family and friends about what Jesus has done for you. Telling other people about Jesus is very simple. You can begin by telling them briefly about your own salvation experience. This story needs to include: what you were like before believed in Jesus; what people and circumstances influenced your decision to believe in Jesus; and, how your life has changed since you became a believer in Jesus. Small Group Application 1. Divide into groups of two. Have each person tell his story about becoming a Christian. Be sure that each person includes: (1) what his life was like before he became a Christian; (2) what people and circumstances influenced him to become a Christian; and (3) how his life has changed since he became a Christian. 2. Change partners so that there are new groups of two. Do the activity in number 1 again. 3. Talk about what you learned through this experience of sharing your testimony with each other. After you tell someone your story about how you became a Christian, some people will be interested in hearing more about Jesus. The Christian message about Jesus has four main points. These points can be explained using only John 3:16: For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. (1) There is only one true God. This God created us, loves us, and wants to have a relationship with us. (2) We have been separated from God by our sin. In Christianity sin means anything we think, say or do that harms or breaks our relationship with God or another person. When we understand sin in this way, we realize that all people have sinned. (Romans 3:23) (3) Jesus died on the cross in our place for our sins. Then Jesus was resurrected from the dead, overcoming the power of sin and death. (4) When a person trusts in Jesus cross and resurrection as the means to overcome sin, evil and death and becomes a follower of Jesus Christ, the result is forgiveness of sins and eternal life. This person leaves behind their old way of life to begin a new life. He is born again as a child of God. Small Group Application 1. Each person should share the name of 2 or 3 people who are not Christians with whom they would like to tell their story of how they became a Christian.

9 2. Have a time of prayer. Pray that each small group member will have the opportunity to share their story. Pray that the people whose names were shared in number 4 will have open hearts so that when they hear the Gospel they will believe in Jesus. Personal Application 1. Read 1 John 4:1-21. Before reading ask God to use this time to teach you about God, yourself, your relationship with God, and God s will for your life. Read over 1 John 4:1-21completely. Then go back and read it a second time more slowly. As you read it the second time, write you answer to the following questions about this passage in your notebook. (4) What is the application of this passage to your everyday life? 2. In your notebook briefly write your story about how you came to believe in Jesus as your Lord and Savior. Try to write it using words that you would use to tell your story to some one else. This story needs to include: what you were like before believed in Jesus; what people and circumstances influenced your decision to believe in Jesus; and, how your life has changed since you became a believer in Jesus. This should be only about one page. 3. Spend some time in prayer each day. Pray that God will give you the opportunity to share your story with people who are not Christians. Pray for these people by name, asking God to save then. Also, continue to use the following statements as a model for your prayer. Write your main thoughts and impressions in your notebook. (4) Today I want to pray for... (people you know who need to believe in Jesus) 4. When God gives you the opportunity share your story about how you became a Christian with your family and friends. You do not have to limit yourself talking only to the people you have prayed for. On the other hand, do not to force yourself on people who do not seem interested in listening. If the Holy Spirit is leading those you talk with will be ready to listen.

10 Loving Other People Love your neighbor as you love yourself. Matthew 22:39 1. What is one thing that God taught you this week through your personal application? 2. How can you apply what God has taught you to your everyday life? One way to express your love for God is to spend time with Him daily in prayer and Bible study. Another way to express your love for God is to love what He loves. In1John 4:14 is written: We have seen and testify that the Father sent the Son to be the Savior of the world. Just as God loves you, He also loves every other person in the world. So you can express your love for God by loving other people just as God does. 1 John 4:19-21 tells us that love for other people is proof that we really love God: We love because he first loved us. If anyone says, I love God, yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen. And he has given us this command: Whoever loves God must also love his brother. Love is not only an emotion. While love includes emotion, it also includes the will and action. For example, because of God s love He decided to provide us with forgiveness of sins and eternal life. As a result of this decision, God sent (action) Jesus to be our Savior. To love other people as God loves them means that you will not only feel compassion for them, you will also decide to do something for them, and then you will act of the basis of your decision. 1 John 3:17-18 tells us: If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth. List some actions that the members of your small group could do to show love for other people. These can be either actions that you could do as individuals or actions that you could do together as a small group. God not only commands that we love other people through acts of service. God also gives us gifts to use for the purpose of serving others. 1 Peter 4:10-11 tells us: Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God s grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the various words of God. If anyone serves, he should do it with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be glory and power for ever and ever. Amen. According to Ephesians 4:11-13, God gives gifts to Christians so that He can fulfill His purpose through us. It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. In this passage we see that God provides us with gifts to fulfill four purposes. 1. We can provide for human needs (physical and psychological) as a foundation for building the body of Christ. This is showing the love of Christ for other people through acts of service. 2. We can tell other people about Jesus so that they can have faith in Christ. 3. We can lead in worship so that other people will know Christ personally. 4. We can teach people to obey God s Word so that they can develop spiritual maturity. Spiritual maturity is being like Christ having the same character, will and purpose that Jesus does.

11 Small Group Application 1. Talk about specific needs of people that you know that your small group could help with by doing an act of service together. This may be the need of one person or the need of a group of people. 2. Spend some time in prayer. Ask God to show you which of these needs you should respond to as a small group using the gifts and abilities that God has given you. 3. Make a specific plan for your group to do an act of service in response to the need of person or a group people. If possible, every member of the group should plan to participate in this activity. Your plan will need to include details of what you will do, where you will do it, and when you will do it. Personal Application 1. Read 1 John 5:1-12. Before reading ask God to use this time to teach you about God, yourself, your relationship with God, and God s will for your life. Read over 1 John 5:1-12 completely. Then go back and read it a second time more slowly. As you read it the second time, write you answer to the following questions about this passage in your notebook. (4) What is the application of this passage to your everyday life? 2. Now spend some time in prayer. Use the following statements as a model for your prayer. Write your main thoughts and impressions in your notebook. (3) Today I want to ask God to help me help me to begin to discover my purpose by showing me the gifts that He has given me... (4) Today I want to pray for... (the needs of other people you know) 3. Participate in your small group s act of service. Share about what God teaches you through the experience with the other members of your group.

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