Children’s Bible Program – Level 1: Lesson 51 “King David”

Featured Passage: 2 Samuel 5-8


After many years of running from his enemy, David learned that King Saul and three of his sons, including David’s beloved friend Jonathan, had died in a battle. Instead of rejoicing at the death of his enemy, David was very sad and mourned for Saul and for Jonathan. Though David was sad, God’s promise finally came true and David became King of Israel. When David first became king, he ruled from a city called Hebron. David had his eye on another city where he wanted to set up his capital and build his palace. The name of it was Jerusalem which means “City of Peace”. Jerusalem sat on a small mountain called Zion where David would build his city and where the King of Kings will one day return and build His own city of peace. 

 Discuss:

  • How old was David when he began to reign as king of Israel? How many years did he rule as king?
  • David made a tabernacle for the ark of God. What was the ark and why do you think it was so important to David? 
  • How do you think David felt when he was finally able to bring the ark into the tabernacle in Jerusalem? What did he do? What are some ways that we can worship and praise God?
  • David wrote a song about the ark being brought to the tabernacle (Psalm 105). Can you find the hymn we sing at church that is based on this psalm? 
  • God promised David that his throne would be established forever. What does this mean? What will David be doing in the kingdom? 

Memory Challenge:

2 Samuel 7:26

So let Your name be magnified forever, saying, ‘The Lord of hosts is the God over Israel.’ And let the house of Your servant David be established before You.


Children’s Bible Program – Level 3: Lesson 51 “Zerubbabel”

Featured Passage: Ezra 1-7


The people of Judah had been in captivity for nearly 50 years. Some had longed to return to Jerusalem to rebuild the temple of God and worship there once again, but they were not allowed until a man named Cyrus, King of Persia came to power. This Cyrus wrote a decree that told the people of Judah they could return to Jerusalem to rebuild God’s house – the temple. The returning captives followed a man named Zerubbabel who led them back to their homeland. The people were excited to return and get started on their rebuilding projects, but they didn’t know they were about to face some very challenging obstacles. Their faith was about to be tested, but through it all one man wasn’t about to give up on what they had set out to accomplish.

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Discuss: 

  • Why did Cyrus, the king of Persia, decide to make his proclamation? What does this teach us about how God works with people and leaders in the world? 
  • What was one of the first things Zerubbabel did when they arrived in Jerusalem? What does this show us about his priorities? What can we learn from his example?
  • What was the first big obstacle the people faced when they began working on the temple? 
  • After the work on the temple discontinued for a while, how did it start back up again? 
  • Who gave the people the official decree that they could finish their work on the temple? What did the people do when the temple was finally finished? 

Memory Challenge: 

Ezra 1:3 

Who is among you of all His people? May his God be with him, and let him go up to Jerusalem which is in Judah, and build the house of the Lord God of Israel (He is God), which is in Jerusalem.


Children’s Bible Program – Level 2: Lesson 51 “Moving the Ark”

Featured Passage: 1 Samuel 4-6


When Israel finally came into the land God promised them, under Joshua’s leadership each of the tribes were given different territories where they could build their homes and families. During their wanderings in the wilderness, God had led them with the ark of the covenant and the tabernacle to represent his presence. Upon entering the new land, Joshua and the people set up the tabernacle in Shiloh where the ark would stay for many years, long after Joshua was gone. For a long while the ark was undisturbed and kept by the Levites in the tabernacle, but the people were forgetting why it was important. One day, when the Israelites were desperately preparing to go out to battle against their enemies, they made a rash decision. If they were to bring the ark of the covenant into battle with them like in the days of Joshua, surely God would protect them, right? 

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Discuss: 

  • Why was the ark of the covenant so important? What did it represent? 
  • Why do you think the Israelites decided to bring the ark into battle with them? Why didn’t their plan work? 
  • What did the Philistines do with the ark when they first captured it? What happened to their idol when the ark was put in their pagan temple? What message do you think God was trying to send?
  • Why did the Philistines decide to give the ark back to the Israelites? How did they do it? 
  • Where was the ark kept after the Philistines sent it back? 
  • The next person to move the ark of the covenant was King David (2 Samuel 6). Why did David move it? What happened when he tried?

Memory Challenge:

1 Samuel 4:22

And she said, “The glory has departed from Israel, for the ark of God has been captured.”


Second Thoughts: Be Yourself (No, Really)

Author: Thomas White | Living Church of God, Editorial Department


“Be honest. Don’t hide who you are. Be genuine. Don’t pretend to be someone you’re not. Be yourself.”

We’ve heard all of that before. Even Mr. Richard Ames’ recent assembly, a powerful message of improving one’s interpersonal communication, addressed the importance of openness and honesty—in essence, being yourself.

But it’s understandable if we think, “Wait a minute, be myself? That’s the last thing I want to be. Doesn’t God say that the heart is deceitful and wicked? Yeah, no, I’m way too aware of the terrible thoughts I’m constantly battling to be myself with anybody. Myself is awful, so to the best of my ability, I’m going to not be it, thanks.”

Actually, though, that perspective has it backwards. When you get down to it, all of the ungodly thoughts we have, words we say, and actions we take are the result of us not being ourselves—and instead, imitating someone truly awful.

Mr. Nathan Weighs In

To explain, I’ll turn to a quote from Mr. Peter Nathan. In the September-October 2019 Living Church News article “A Tale of Two Goats,” he wrote this:

Scripture describes Satan as having deceived the whole world (Revelation 12:9) and as having played a role in mankind’s sin from the very beginning (Genesis 3:1–5). It is on Satan’s head that the ultimate responsibility for sin rests. Jesus Christ, our High Priest, has already paid the penalty of sin for mankind. Satan, as the deceiver of all humanity, is to carry his responsibility for that sin, confessed over his head, from the presence of God.

– Mr. Peter Nathan, “A Tale of Two Goats”, LCN: Sep-Oct 2019

Now, obviously (because sometimes the obvious needs to be made super obvious at the risk of it not being obvious), Mr. Nathan isn’t saying that any of us are off the hook for our sins. I’m responsible for my sin. You’re responsible for your sin. But also, Satan is responsible for all sin—mine, yours, everyone’s. He doesn’t force anyone into anything, but each and every time we sin in any way, we’re hearing his suggestion and replying, “… Yeah, sure, okay. Seems like a good idea.”

Being Yourself is Resisting the Devil

The heart is deceitful and wicked (Jeremiah 17:9) because it’s so willing to listen to Satan’s deceitful and wicked influence, not because it’s conjuring up that influence all by itself. Our original ancestors, for example: It’s not like Adam and Eve were side-eyeing the tree of the knowledge of good and evil for months, and when a snake started talking, they thought, “Oh good, now I finally have an excuse.” No—they heard the devil’s suggestion and they took it, just like we do when we sin.

Before Satan shows up, we don’t read anything about Eve or Adam being tempted in the slightest by the forbidden fruit. They knew it was there, they knew God didn’t want them near it, and they were on board with that. Were they just “not themselves” before Satan’s deception? Of course they were themselves—God creates children, not clones. If anything, they were more themselves than they ever would be again in their physical lives, because they weren’t yet affected by Satan’s suggestions.

We’re all affected by those suggestions, but it’s when we refuse them that we’re who God made us to be. When we take those suggestions and thereby sin, we’re not ourselves at all—we’re Satan imitators. He’s the one who wants clones. God, though, wants us to exercise the free will He gave us and be nothing less than ourselves.


Children’s Bible Program – Level 3: Lesson 50 “Ezekiel the Watchman”

Featured Passage: Ezekiel 1-11, 33, 40-48


After the Kingdom of Israel was taken into captivity, you’d think it would have been too late for a prophet to warn the people. After all, what is the point of warning someone of something that has already happened? Well, God had a very special message of warning for Israel through His prophet Ezekiel. Ezekiel was told to be a “watchman” for the house of Israel.  At the time, Ezekiel was living among the captives of the Babylonians. God gave him some very unique instructions, signs that he should perform to reinforce the warning message he proclaimed. So who was the message for? It was for the house of Israel in the future, at the Time of the End—today. 

Discuss: 

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  • What is the role of a watchman? Why did God give him this job? 
  • Why did God tell Ezekiel to build a clay model of Jerusalem? What do you think the people thought of Ezekiel for setting up the model? 
  • Even though God was warning of punishment for Israel, what did God tell Ezekiel He would do in the end? What does it mean when God says He will give the people a “Heart of flesh”? 
  • The final chapters of Ezekiel describe the temple complex in the Millennium. What parts of what he describes stand out to you the most? What are you most looking forward to seeing? 
  • According to Ezekiel 47, what will happen to the Dead Sea in Israel during the Millennium? 
  • What will be the name of the city during the Millennium period?  Why do you think God will choose that name for it? 

Memory Challenge: 

Ezekiel 11:19-20

Then I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within them, and take the stony heart out of their flesh, and give them a heart of flesh, that they may walk in My statutes and keep My judgments and do them; and they shall be My people, and I will be their God.


Children’s Bible Program – Level 2: Lesson 50 “Joshua and the Battle of Jericho”

Featured Passage: Joshua 6


After the Israelites made it across the Jordan River, they prepared to meet the next obstacle – the great walled city of Jericho. The men who Joshua sent to spy out the city had come back with important information, but now Joshua needed a plan. Joshua knew that God was the one who would give Israel the victory, but he needed some directions. And, guess what? The Commander of the Army of the Lord Himself came to deliver them. On top of that, the directions He gave were not ordinary battle plans. These plans required a little bit of patience and a whole lot of faith! 

Discuss:

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  • All the people of the land had heard of the children of Israel. How do you think the people of Jereicho felt when they heard that the Israelites had crossed over the Jordan into their territory? Do you think the people of Jericho felt safe inside the city walls?  
  • What were the directions that God gave to Joshua? What was unusual about them? What do you think the people of Jericho were thinking when they saw the Israelites following the directions they were given?
  • How was the instruction for the army different on the seventh day than on the other days? Who did God protect in the city?
  • Why do you think God planned the Battle of Jericho the way He did? 

Memory Challenge:

Joshua 6:2 

And the Lord said to Joshua: “See! I have given Jericho into your hand, its king, and the mighty men of valor.


Children’s Bible Program – Level 1: Lesson 50 “David and Abigail”

Featured Passage: 1 Samuel 25


David was on the run from King Saul, and with God’s help he and his mighty men managed to stay at least one step ahead of the jealous king. They hid in caves, fought against the Philistines, and always stayed on the lookout for Saul and his men. Though King Saul did not like it, most people knew who David was and that he was in line to be the next king of Israel, so they would help David with whatever he needed. One day, David and his men were hungry, so they stopped at the home of a wealthy man named Nabal who they knew would have plenty of extra food to spare. But, instead of helping them out, Nabal turned the men away and refused to share anything. Angry at Nabal’s foolish decision, David told his men to get their swords ready. David and his men headed down to the household, swords in hand, when suddenly they were met by someone on the way who had an urgent request. 

Discuss: 

  • Who was Nabal? What does his name mean? Why do you think David and his men chose to stop at Nabal’s house to get food to eat? 
  • Why do you think Nabal refused to share with David? Why was David so upset by Nabal’s response? 
  • Who was Abigail? How did Abigail find out what was going on? What did she do when she found out what Nabal had done? What can we learn from Abigail’s actions?
  • How did Abigail act when she made her request? What did David do when she did? 
  • What happened to Nabal? What did David do when he found out? 

Memory Challenge: 

1 Samuel 25:32 

Then David said to Abigail: “Blessed is the Lord God of Israel, who sent you this day to meet me!”


Second Thoughts: Sonder and You (and Everyone Else)

Author: Thomas White | Editorial Department, Living Church of God


There’s debate on whether or not it can be called a real word, but if you type “sonder” into Wiktionary, you’ll get this definition:

“The profound feeling of realizing that everyone, including strangers passed in the street, has a life as complex as one’s own, which they are constantly living despite one’s personal lack of awareness of it.”

After this week’s assembly, I felt oddly compelled to immerse myself in a bit of sonder. Mr. Dexter Wakefield took us on a journey through the demographical statistics of the Church, and we learned, among many other things, that some of our youngest attending members are two years old, that our oldest attending member is one hundred and two years old, and that the Church’s database keeps track of them and everyone in between.

Thanks for Noticing

It’s always nice to know that someone is keeping track of you. We all feel a certain level of peace in the knowledge that we’re accounted for, that we’re considered. That might be why you get a tiny little thrill whenever someone uses your name. I don’t think it’s egotistical—it may be, in some cases, but for many people, the feeling seems more akin to gratitude. “Thank you for saying my name,” the feeling says, too fast to even be processed. “Thank you for acknowledging and keeping track of me.”

Maybe feeling sonder is just acknowledging everyone as worth keeping track of, when we usually only keep track of ourselves and the people closest to us. Most of us don’t feel sonder perpetually. It takes a surprising amount of effort to meaningfully recognize that other people are as multifaceted as we, ourselves, are. It might even be a little scary to do that, because as soon as you do, you have to recognize, in turn, that you don’t really know anyone. Most of the struggles that define someone else’s life are hidden from you. And once you’re aware of that, the excuses you drum up for judging other people seem… well, about as pathetic as they are, really.

Acknowledge the Battle

God keeps track of everyone, and that’s so easy to say, but hard to completely wrap your brain around. “I’d better be nice, because God wants me to be nice,” you might think when you’re tempted to not be nice. And that’s true, but it’s deeper than that, isn’t it? You might be better off thinking, “I’d better be nice, because God wants this person in front of me to experience kindness.” He’s keeping track of you, yes, absolutely, but he’s keeping just as much track of everyone you interact with, and He knows how much they need your empathy.

“Be kind,” goes an oft-quoted saying of dubious origin, “because everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” In all of His dealings with each and every one of us, God always, always acknowledges the battle. He’s never unaware of the struggles we each have every day, as we fight past the monsters in our own minds. We might not be able to know what the people around us are fighting, as He does, but if we want to be like Him, we should strive to treat other people like they’re fighting something painful, going through something hard—because most of the people around us probably are.

So, say peoples’ names when you talk to them. If someone looks sad, ask if they’re okay—and be prepared to listen if they’re not. Smile when you (even accidentally) make eye contact with someone you know. Even a little sonder might go a long way.


Weekly Update Feb. 15, 2020

Second Thoughts: Presumption, Assumption, and…Reputation?

Author: William Williams | Editorial Department, Living Church of God


Have you ever been in a situation where you knew something you planned to do wouldn’t “look right,” but since you believed you weren’t going to “do anything wrong,” you went ahead with it anyway?

Perhaps the “Mike Pence” rule just seemed inconvenient that one time—especially if the circumstances really didn’t seem like the kind where anything truly compromising could happen. Maybe there wouldn’t be time for anything to happen. Maybe you and the people you planned to be with have good reputations, and people just know you better than to think you’d misbehave in some particular way or another. And maybe people should “mind their own business”—especially when such situations don’t always involve spending time with members of the opposite sex, but could simply be the kind of happenstance that maaaybe would look like you were doing something inappropriate on the Sabbath—when you weren’t—or juuust might seem like you were staying out late drinking and partying—which you don’t!

Of course, life is full of decisions, and not all decisions or actions can be helped regarding how others perceive them. If we worried about how our every single action might be perceived, we would certainly wastea lot of time. But we also know that God cares about how our behavior affects others, so it isn’t always worry but consideration. And when it comes to something that could seriously affect your reputation—or cause others to stumble—the matter deserves consideration.

The Appearance of Evil

“Reputation and the Appearance of Evil” was in fact Dr. Scott Winnail’s most recent Living Education address, and an especially vital topic for Christians today. Analyzing situations where individuals knew their decisions might give others “the wrong idea” was a chief part of his lecture. However, far from simply mowing down the assembled students with a list of “do’s” and “don’ts”, Dr. Winnail instead engaged in a give-and-take session about why people might inadvertently put their reputations at risk and how to avoid the appearance of evil—and he reminded them of the oft-repeated quote by Warren Buffett that a good reputation can take decades to develop, but be destroyed in five minutes.

Dr. Scott gave several examples of situations that can potentially tarnish one’s reputation, and what stood out most importantly to me was the absence of condemnation. Leaving behind most discussion of when people do fall into sin when they “skirt the edge of the cliff,” his focus was mainly on how to maintain a good reputation and make sure that pure motivations go hand in hand with—and even promote—pure perceptions.

Assume or Presume?

Throughout the discussion, a singular thought crossed my mind: presumptions lead to assumptions! We all know (or should know) that assume is a dirty word, but what about presume? If assuming is jumping to a conclusion when we don’t have all the facts (the very thing we don’t want people to do regarding our actions) presuming is assuming ahead of time how a certain thing will or should turn out (or how people will or should respond to those same actions!). And if, as Henry “the Fonz” Winkler was famous for saying, “Assumptions are the termites of relationships,” then presumptions are the overlooked food source that attracts them!

Dr. Scott suggested some questions his listeners should ask themselves before taking certain actions, including, “Why do I want to do this?,” “What are the possible outcomes?,” “How will my actions be perceived?,” and “Could someone imitate me and thereby fall into condemnation?”

In every case, here’s one bit of handy reasoning to add: “Don’t presume too much about how others will perceive your actions!” I’ve been told many times that “You can’t control what other people think,” but here’s a secret: you can, to a certain degree, by your own choice to “walk circumspectly” (Ephesians 5:15).

What looks like a duck…

As always, the best lessons are the ones we apply to ourselves, and thus I turn the lens around: Justifying something based on what people should think is a presumption. Thinking people will always know my future actions are honest based on my current reputation is a presumption. And stating that people should “mind their own business” is a naïve presumption at best—and a rejection of Philippians 2:29 and Romans 14:13 at worst. (Not to mention the fact that saying it out loud can easily become an example of just exactly what I’m talking about when someone takes it the wrong way and thinks, “Whoa, what a jerk that guy is.” If it looks like a duck, and quacks like a duck…)

With that, I can conclude:

  • I’m not the arbiter of what others should think—so I should think out my own actions before committing to them, as Dr. Winnail stressed.
  • I’m not the paragon of virtue I’d like to think of myself as—and I can’t place the burden of exonerating me on others, who have daily struggles and distractions all their own to think about.
  • And I’m not by any means the one who gets to decide where others should be on the path to their conversion, such that I can blame them for “minding” my business—especially when my business breathes the same air God gave everyone else to swim around in.

Or so I should presume.