Family Sunday School Devotional for September 13
“Three Parables” from Luke 15
Listen to- “S-A-V-I-O-R (1 John 4:14)” by Seeds Family Worship here:
and- “Savior, Like a Shepherd Lead Us” from 4Him here:
for younger kids- “The Baa Baa Song” by Sibling Harmony here:
Supplies Needed- For younger kids: none needed; for older kids: tray arranged with 15-20 various small items and towel/cloth to cover tray; for all ages: supplies for retelling the Bible story- clay/playdough or popsicle stick/sock puppets or none (use live people instead)
Summary- Jesus came to save people who do not know Him.
Introduction Younger Kid Activity- Emotion Charades Describe a situation, then say, “I would feel…”, and play out that emotion without saying anything. Invite kids to guess your emotion. Allow kids to play out emotions one at a time. Use the following scenarios or come up with your own: your pet runs away, a neighbor finds your lost pet, you hurt your best friend’s feelings, your friend forgives you, your brother got the new toy you really wanted, your brother shares his toy with you. Say, “Most of us feel sad when we lose something special, and we feel happy when it is found. Some of us might feel excited if our brother got a cool new toy while some of us might feel jealous or angry. How we act when we feel those emotions is very important. In our Bible story today, we will hear about people who felt many different emotions.”
Introduction Older Kid Activity- What’s Missing? Before lesson time, collect 15-20 various small items and arrange them on a tray. Display the tray for the kids. Encourage them to look at the objects for 30 seconds. Then cover the tray, move it out of sight, and remove one item. Uncover the tray for kids to examine. Challenge the kids to identify which item is missing. Play additional rounds if time allows. Say, “Was it easy or difficult to notice what was missing? What if the tray had a hundred items on it? Would you notice if one was missing? Today we are going to hear about a time Jesus told a story of a shepherd who had a hundred sheep. When one went missing, the shepherd noticed!”
Big Picture Question- Say, “Our Big Picture Question asks: How does God care for His creation? The answer is: God loves and rules over His creation according to His perfect plan. We will see that clearly in Jesus’ parables. When things go wrong in creation, God is there to comfort us. His plan was never to leave us alone in sin. Instead, God’s plan was to send Jesus and restore the world from all the damage sin causes. That includes His saving us through Jesus!”
Bible Story- Timeline Say, “When Jesus was on earth, He traveled all over Israel performing miracles and teaching people about God. Jesus spent a lot of time teaching people about God’s kingdom. God’s growing kingdom is more valuable than anything. Jesus also spent time explaining what God is like and how He loves. Jesus used parables– stories with deeper meaning- to help explain how God feels toward those who do not know Him. Our story today is called ‘Three Parables’.” Open a Bible to Luke 15. Say, “Many different people wrote down God’s true word in the Bible. Today we are reading stories that Jesus told in the Book of Luke.” Either tell the story in your own words from this passage or read aloud from the Big Picture Interactive Bible Storybook (the Bible storybook your younger child received from Sunday School) page 220.
Christ Connection- Say, “The good news is that Jesus is the mighty friend of sinners! We are all sinners- whether we break the rules or try really hard to obey them, but just can’t- and Jesus wants us to turn away from our sin and trust in Him. The religious leaders complained that Jesus welcomed sinners. Jesus told these parables to teach about God’s forgiveness. God sent Jesus so sinners can be forgiven. As Savior, Jesus seeks sinners. He paid the ultimate price- His own life- to save people from sin.”
Key Passage- Open a Bible to Colossians 1:13-14. Read the verses aloud. Say, “As soon as we have faith in Jesus, we are rescued from darkness. We immediately become citizens of God’s perfect kingdom. In God’s kingdom, Jesus is our perfect King. He loves us and helps us to glorify God with our lives. When we tell others about Jesus and God’s kingdom, we are part of Jesus’ mission to save the lost.”
Review Questions- Ask the following questions:
- *PreK- Who told stories to teach people about God? (Jesus)
- *PreK- What did the man who lost one of his sheep do? (He left his other sheep to find the one that was lost.)
- *PreK- What did the woman who lost a coin do? (She searched until she found it.)
- *PreK- Did the younger son make good choices? (no)
- *PreK- What did the father do when his younger son came home? (welcomed him and celebrated)
- What did the Pharisees and scribes complain about? (Luke 15:2)
- How did the three characters form the parables react when what they lost was found? (Luke 15:6, 9, 32)
- Why was the older brother angry at the end of that parable? (Luke 15:29-30)
- Do you ever feel like running away from God to live your own way? (Guide kids to think about the choices they make. Help them think through times when it may feel like obeying God is a burden, such as when seeing a popular movie or playing a popular video game dishonors Him. Encourage kids to speak openly about when it is hard to obey God.)
- Do you ever feel like it’s unfair for God to love people who disobey Him? (Help kids see that all people are sinners. We often try to rank our sin or compare it to other people’s sin to justify why we chose to sin. Help kids understand that all sin deserves death.)
- How should we react to a person becoming a believer in Jesus? (Direct kids to remember how God reacts to sinners’ repenting. Discuss the fact that God welcomes sinners and loves them. Help them see that we should respond like God does, with joy and celebration, not with doubt or skepticism.)
- How does God care for His creation? (God loves and rules over His creation according to His perfect plan.)
Say, “Jesus came to seek and save the lost. God loves when sinners turn from sin toward Jesus. We can rejoice in God’s goodness to sinners- including ourselves- and celebrate when people come to faith. God’s love is endless.”
For Older Kids- Also, ask the following questions:
- How are we “lost” before we trust in Jesus? (Lead kids to recognize that being lost means not knowing Jesus as Lord and Savior. The Bible says that apart from Jesus, we are in darkness and are dead in sin. Jesus makes us alive and brings us into His kingdom. He shows us what is true about God and about ourselves. Read Ephesians 2:8-9)
- How does it make you feel to know that God came looking for you? (Allow kids to share their feelings. Remind kids that God created us, so He knows us and sees us. He seeks after us because He loves us. Read Psalm 139:1-2)
- What might you say to someone who doesn’t know Jesus? (Read 1 Corinthians 15:3-4)
Reflection- Ask older children to answer one of the following questions:
- What does this story teach me about God or the Gospel?
- What does the story teach me about myself?
- Whom can I tell about this story?
Further Learning- Storytelling Studio Invite kids to retell the Bible story (or one of the parables) using clay/playdough, simple puppets with popsicle sticks or socks, or play-acting out the story with family members. Consider taking a video to view together again later.
Pray- Thank God for being a loving Father who joyfully welcomes into His home both people who have wandered away from Him and people who have trusted in themselves instead of in Jesus.
Adult Sunday School Devotional for September 13
“Jesus Tells the Parable of the Sons” from Luke 15
Listen to- “When God Ran” by Phillips, Craig, & Dean here:
and- “Amazing Grace” from Darlene Zschech here:
Summary- The stories Jesus told reveal God’s goodness and heart to welcome any sinner home.
Christ Connection- The Pharisees and scribes criticized Jesus for welcoming sinners and dining with them. In response, Jesus told a story of a father longing for and celebrating his wayward son’s return. This story illustrates God’s joy over sinners coming to repentance and trusting in Jesus, the Savior, who came to seek and to save the lost.
Point 1. Selfishness leads to rebelling against the Father’s goodness (read aloud Luke 15:11-13).
Note- The son committed himself to a sinful life indulging the desires of his flesh. His actions were self-centered; this was self-worship. Rather than honoring his father, as the Fifth Commandment would have him do, the son sought only to honor and please himself. In the Book of Judges, all the bloodshed and perversion was the result of every person doing whatever seemed right to him (see Judges 17:6; 21:25), otherwise known as moral relativism. In a sense, all sin is a form of moral relativism because we are deciding in that moment that our desires take precedence over God’s glory and the needs of others. What’s right or wrong becomes subservient to our wishes and whims.
Note- We may not think our sins could compare to the brazen actions of the prodigal son. We may not boldly dishonor our parents and then go bankrupt by spending money on wild living, but any sin is a turning from the satisfaction of God to the prospect of satisfying ourselves apart from Him. Sin is living as if we were the lords of our own lives, the sovereigns of our own kingdoms. When we choose sin, we are choosing to live as if our heavenly Father were dead.
Respond- Why might people resist identifying with the prodigal son at this point in the parable?
Note- We can imagine the son foolishly telling himself he could turn everything around. We can even rationalize that the highs of his licentious living were too addictive. But squandering his material possessions landed him in a pigsty, one of the worst places a Jew could land because pigs were unclean by law (see Deuteronomy 14:8). And what’s worse, he was so hungry that he wanted to eat the slop the pigs ate. Such is the end of a life oriented around oneself. The prodigal son’s tour of debauchery is nothing new. People have lived for the sake of their own pleasure since the fall of humankind. One reason this story from Jesus still resonates so well today is that the hedonistic, licentious lifestyle of the younger son has basically become the default state for a typical young adult in the Western world. You don’t even have to renounce your father to live like the prodigal son anymore; you can do it at college in your frat house or on spring break, indulging in sins considered by many to be rites of passage, all on your father’s dime. But another enduring constant of this parable is the end result of that kind of living. What happens to the prodigal son is what happens to everyone who goes full tilt into self-worship- they end up with nothing to show for it but scars, sorrows, and a life of regrets. Nobody gets to their deathbed, after all, and says: “I wish I’d been more selfish. I wish I’d lived more wastefully.”
Point 2. Sorrow leads to repentance in light of the Father’s goodness (read aloud Luke 15:17-24).
Note- Humbled by his helpless estate, the prodigal son came to his senses in the pigsty: everyone is better off back home, even the hired hands. So the younger son humbled himself and went home. He did not go to claim his place as a son but to work for his father. In his ignorance, he figured that was the only way of being acceptable to his father, as someone working for his living, to pay off his debt. How many people, believers and unbelievers alike, make this mistake? Seeing our great sin debt to our great and holy God, we automatically assume that we must begin paying it off, even after learning that salvation is freely given to all who believe in Jesus. We are so sorrowful about our debt that we assume the Lord will only bring us on as a hired hand rather than welcome us home as a beloved child. We simply cannot fathom the possibilities of His grace.
Respond- What has been your experience of the overwhelming grace of God through faith in Jesus?
Point 3. Self-righteousness leads to resenting the Father’s goodness (read aloud Luke 15:25-32).
God is Gracious: God’s nature is to delight in giving unmerited favor to those who are undeserving (see Ephesians 2:8-9). His grace toward sinners is found most clearly in the salvation He has provided through Christ. Because of sin, humanity is undeserving of salvation- all of us have turned our backs on God, and as a result, we deserve death (see Romans 6:23). However, instead of leaving people in their sins, God has demonstrated His graciousness by providing atonement and forgiveness for our sins through the death and resurrection of Jesus (see 2 Corinthians 5:21).
Respond- What are some ways Christians can exhibit a legalistic worldview?
Conclusion- Jesus is the good older brother. He will wander out into the wilderness, wherever He must go, to search out the lost sheep (see Luke 15:3-7). That’s why He came. That’s His business. He will light up the house, put the chairs up on the tables, and sweep every floorboard and into every corner to find that one lost coin (see Luke 15:8-10). He will go searching every gambler’s den, whorehouse, and pigsty until He finds His younger brothers to bring home. Over and over again, we see in the Gospels as Jesus was extending the welcome of the kingdom to the lowest of the low that He was scandalizing the self-righteous older brothers. Because we too have been forgiven of our sin through Jesus, we must resist the lure of pride and choose to celebrate the Father’s goodness in welcoming home any repentant sinner.
Apply- Because we have been forgiven of our sin through Jesus, we celebrate the Father’s goodness in welcoming home any repentant sinner.
-What do you need to repent of and so come to the Father in humble faith?
-How can your family exhibit a welcoming culture of grace toward sinners who repent?
-How will you share the Gospel message of God’s grace in Jesus with the sinful prodigals and self-righteous older brothers you know?
(Pray as prodigal sons and daughters whom the Lord has rescued. Thank God the Father for the generous older brother, Jesus, His eternal Son, whose sacrifice entitled us to share in His inheritance. Ask for God to send His Holy Spirit ahead of us to lead others towards Him, the God who loves and forgives both wayward prodigals and self-righteous Pharisees through the preaching of the Gospel.)