All the colors of the rainbow

““I am the Alpha and the Omega—the beginning and the end,” says the Lord God. “I am the one who is, who always was, and who is still to come—the Almighty One.”” Revelation 1:8 NLT

There’s seven main colors in a rainbow. Everyone knows that. ROY G BIV is the name to remember, the mnemonic device to keep those colors for easy access in your brain. But in reality, there is an infinite number of colors. There’s millions, billions even, of hues in between those letters up there.

However, there’s only so much that the human mind can process. All those shades simply aren’t distinguishable to the naked eye. So, technically, logically, we know they’re there. But in the physical world, we have to quantify. We have to define only those that we can see, either by hex values, or by the actual color name.

There’s only so much that our brains can contain, only so much that our eyes can see, only so much that we can understand. Given this, is it so difficult then to fathom that God is greater than anything we can imagine? That He is omnipotent and beyond all things?

If we can believe in the existence of colors in between colors, even when we do not see, why can’t we extend this same belief in the existence of God in all aspects of our life, in between the lines and the cracks and the most minute of details?

I believe in God our Father. I believe in Christ the Son. I believe in the Holy Spirit. Our God is three in One.

Thank You Jesus for giving me eyes that see beyond the colors of the rainbow.

Endurance

Philippians 3:17-21 NLT

Life with Jesus is certainly a fun-filled, exciting life. It is full of love, and hugs, and warm thoughts, and comfort, and peace, and joy.

However, sometimes, it’s not easy. Because God loves us so much, He wants us to have the full experience, not just a one-sided, one-dimensional kind of life. That wouldn’t be very interesting at all.

That means that in this world, there will be pain, sorrow, and hardship. God actually designed it so that life would be that way.

But the best thing is that God also made it so that we would be able to go through it. He made it so that not only would we be able to endure all that life throws at us, but that in the process we would also learn something. And not just at the end, but also all throughout.

“Dear brothers and sisters, pattern your lives after mine, and learn from those who follow our example.” Philippians 3:17 NLT

A good reminder for us here is the life of Paul the Apostle. He used to be a persecutor of Christians who got converted to Christianity by the hand of God Himself. And then he became one of God’s greatest servants.

When Paul answered the call of God, he wanted to do so many things for the Kingdom. He wanted to convert as many people as possible, he wanted to build churches, he wanted to love God in the best way that he possibly can. But then all of these did not come easy. Here’s a list of just some of the things that happened to Paul:

  • He was beaten and even had heavy rocks thrown at him
  • He was shipwrecked
  • He was put in jail multiple times
  • He had people who wanted to kill him, and he had to escape huddled in a basket
  • He was bitten by a deadly snake
  • He had a chronic terminal condition of some sort (perhaps eye trouble, I wouldn’t be surprised)

You would think even just one of those would stop him from serving Jesus. Can you imagine what his will must have been made of?

“But we are citizens of heaven, where the Lord Jesus Christ lives. And we are eagerly waiting for him to return as our Savior.”. Philippians 3:20 NLT

Thankfully, God was with him at all times, and he was empowered to press on despite everything keeping him from his serving.

“He will take our weak mortal bodies and change them into glorious bodies like his own, using the same power with which he will bring everything under his control.” Philippians 3:21 NLT

No matter how empty we think ourselves to be, there is always still something left over inside us, for us to do the task before us. This power comes from Jesus, who is an infinite fount of strength and power.

The Power of Prayer

I was raised in a pious Roman Catholic family, and we went to church every Sunday. Even at a very young age, we went to big people church, with full length masses that seemed to go and on. But I was a very obedient child, and I never missed one service. And every Sunday, I had one fervent, heartfelt prayer.

“Lord, please make me tall enough to reach the pews when I kneel.”

This was seriously my prayer at that time. Because each and every time we have to kneel, I didn’t have anywhere to place my praying hands. I was too short to reach the ledge of the pew when I was kneeling down. 

Full disclosure, I wasn’t a very tall kid. Right now I know I’m the perfect height, but back then, I knew I was a little bit shorter, a little bit cuter, than my other friends.

(Full, full disclosure — I was always the smallest in the classroom.  I never got picked for teams in PE.  At the end of prep school (the level before you start kindergarten), my uncle was surprised that I was part of the graduating class.  He thought that all along that I was just going there to play.  Because I looked too small to be going to school already.)

And I really prayed so so hard to Jesus that He would miraculously make me taller so that I can reach that pew ledge.

I’m not going to reveal what age I finally reached that coveted height, but let’s just suffice it to say that I can now happily reach that ledge when I have to kneel down on a pew. 

(I have some bonus tips for all you boys and girls right now: eat your vegetables, and do as many afternoon naps as you can. Those two things would have saved me many years of unanswered prayers about my height.)

Now that I know more about God, I should’ve asked for more.  I know that God is a God of wisdom, and perfect timing, and answered prayers.

And since we know he hears us when we make our requests, we also know that he will give us what we ask for.
1 John 5:15 NLT

Prayer is powerful!  Even the few mumbled words of thanks we say before each meal; even the vague, jumbled thoughts of blessings for the family before we go to sleep.  Prayer is very powerful.

And not because it is the means by which our requests get sent to some sort of genie-god, who will only approve and process them if they are submitted appropriately.

It is also not because it is the only way that a sort of judge-god will hear our petitions, and mete out punishments or rewards accordingly.

Prayer is powerful because it is the outward expression of our faith, a vocal confirmation of our belief.

When we pray, the first thing that happens is that we are affirming to ourselves, and to God, that we believe in Him.  That’s why when we pray, we start out by saying who it is that we are praying to, and declaring His greatness.

9 This, then, is how you should pray:
“‘Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
10 your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Matthew 6:9-10 NIV

The second thing that happens is that we are acknowledging the extent of His capabilities.

4 He counts the stars
and calls them all by name.
5 How great is our Lord! His power is absolute!
His understanding is beyond comprehension!
Psalm 147:4-5 NLT

But it is important to remember that even though we know the extent of His power, it doesn’t mean that our prayers will get answered by the sheer force of our own earthly belief.

Our prayers don’t get answered by how “well” we pray.  There is no checklist, no set rules, or number of words to use.  There is no timeline or special formula.

Which is not to say that it is a hopeless, fruitless exercise to try and get better at doing it.  Far from it.  Prayer reinforces our faith every single time we do it.  It keeps us close to God, and closer to His divine understanding.  It strengthens our spiritual resolve, the personal relationship that we have with Jesus, and the familial bond that we have with other believers.

So never stop praying.  God always answers the prayers of His sons and daughters.  We do not understand His timing, or His reasons.  But we are rest assured that our God will always hear us.

You will pray to him, and he will hear you, and you will fulfill your vows to him.
Job 22:27 NLT

Kids Teaching – Empowered to Serve

Objective
God empowers us to do things that we cannot believe we can do, as we act on the love that He has put in our hearts by serving others.

God’s Word
If you speak, you should do it like one speaking God’s very words. If you serve, you should do it with the strength God provides. Then in all things God will be praised through Jesus Christ. Give him the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.
1 Peter 4:11 NIRV

Memory Verse:
Carry each other’s heavy loads. If you do, you will give the law of Christ its full meaning.
Galatians 6:2 NIRV

Teaching

Last week we learned all about being empowered to grow.  We learned that we have to 1) get to know of Him before we 2) get to grow in Him. And that He is the one who is giving is the power to grow more in Him.  He is the one who will give us the enormous love in our hearts that will overflow into every aspect of our lives, and into everyone whom we will meet.

This week, we are going to learn about what to do with all that overflow of love.

But before that, a video (that we didn’t get to see last week).

(Show the video on low volume, and talk over it.) Lobsters are fascinating.  They are the only animals with a shell whose bodies grow faster than their shells.  That means they get too big for their shells, and when happens, they have to do something, sometimes bashing their bodies against the rocks and corals because it has to choice but to burst out because it is just growing too much.

What do they have to do with serving?  I showed this to you because the fast growing lobster body is like the way that God is making our hearts and spirits grow, all the way until it gets to the point where we have no choice but let out that love, let it out in a grand overflow.

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Until you have no choice but to do something.  And where do you think that love will go?

But we’re not lobsters.  We’re not volcanoes either.  (Look at your seatmate to make sure though.)  When we have so much love in our hearts, as much as the Lord can give, and you know that He can give quite a lot, it comes out of us when we serve others.

Carry each other’s heavy loads. If you do, you will give the law of Christ its full meaning.  Galatians 6:2 NIRV

There are lots of places where it says in the Bible that we should be helping one another.  Jesus Himself came and showed us how we should be with each other, telling us to love one another as we love ourselves.

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Love your neighbor as you love yourself.  Mark 12:31a NIRV

You see, you can’t say that you are grown in Jesus if you don’t love like He does.  And you can’t say that you love like Jesus if you don’t serve like He does.

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It’s the natural progression.  We love, therefore we grow, therefore we serve.  There’s no other way out for that love that is inside us.  Because the love that comes from God is an active, dynamic kind of love.  It is the kind of love that yearns to be let out, yearns to be used, yearns to be moved.

To yearn means to crave, or to want very very much.

And so that love comes out in the way that we serve others.  How else can it be expressed?

It comes out in our kindness, in the way we speak to others.  It comes out in the way we help others.  It comes out in our gentleness, in our self-control.  It comes out in our humility, in our general desire to be good.

Now these things, I know that they’re very easy to remember, here in church, where it’s bright and happy, and there’s games and singing.  But I know that it’s not always easy to choose to be good.  It might be that you’re tired.  Or busy.  It might be that you just have too many things to do.  Or that you’re just plain lazy.

But God knows your heart.  He knows when the reason is valid, when the intention to serve is still there, but that you just need to rest.

And when your heart intention is right, God will anoint you, He will give you the strength and resources, He will equip you with what you need.  He will fill in what is needed.  He will empower you to serve.

That’s the challenge for us today: to say yes to Jesus once again and promise to be a servant for Him.  And then choosing to receive the empowerment that comes from Him to carry out this servanthood.

(The worship team begins the worship with the chorus.)

Worship
Heart of a Servant – City Harvest
Build My Life – Bethel Music

Lifegroup Discussion
Read 1 Peter 4:11.

  1. What are your top 3 favorite chores to do around the house?
  2. What are your top 3 least favorite chores to do around the house?
  3. Have you ever done something for someone else that was difficult to do?  How did you feel about it afterwards?
  4. In your notebooks, write down your family’s names, and think of something you would like to do for them within the day.
  5. If you can choose, what ministry would you like to serve in in our church?

Teaching Slides here.

Kids Teaching – Empowered to Grow

Objective
God empowers us to move beyond the basics of Christian faith, and grow up in Christ, in a way that we can’t even imagine.

God’s Word
A Call to Spiritual Growth
Hebrews 5:11-6:3 NLT

Memory Verse:
It’s not important who does the planting, or who does the watering. What’s important is that God makes the seed grow.
1 Corinthians 3:7 NLT

Teaching
This month we are talking about Empowerment in Christ, and this week, our topic is Empowered to Grow.

A Call to Spiritual Growth
Hebrews 5:11-6:3

Paul wrote this letter, and he was very funny in the analogy.  When you read this during your discussion later, he says two things that are amusing to me.  The first is that, he calls the people dull (the equivalent of the bad S-word) and not willing to listen.  And the second that is that he compared people to babies who need milk and cannot eat solid food.  It’s very funny, you should read it over and over again.

To grow means to undergo natural development by increasing in size and changing physically over a period of time.

(What does it mean to grow physically?  Height, weight, size, lenght, girth, etc. Show chart, growth over time)

All living things grow (bigger, taller, wider, longer, etc.) as time passes. Look at the person beside you. Does he or she look like a living thing? Then for sure, they have grown through the years.

Apart from physical growth, there’s mental growth as well.  As kids we are sometimes told to grow up! Especially when we do something that our parents or guardians think we should be doing better.

(Have you ever heard that from your parents or teachers?  Grow up, insert-name-here!  You’re not a baby anymore!)

And then, here comes my favorite part: spiritual growth.  You can also grow in Christ.

1 Know of Him

“And this is the way to have eternal life—*to know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ*, the one you sent to earth.” (John 17:3 NLT)

We start with knowing of Him — that He is the way, the truth, and the life.  We recieve Him in our hearts, and promise to love Him.

(Who here has Jesus in their hearts raise your Bible!  If you don’t have a Bible, raise your pinky finger, so that you will pinky swear you will have a Bible next week!)

After the knowing, comes the growing.  You know of Him, now you can grow in Him.

But of course this type of growth is not measured in height or weight or size.  (You have to be this tall to read the Bible — not!)

This growth is measured in increase.  (Say it with me, “increase”.)

In other words, you can also use: “better”, “more”, “further”.

You see to grow in Christ means to increase in your knowledge of Him, your love for Him, and in obedience to Him.

And the wonderful thing is that it is Jesus Himself who will bring about this growth.

“I planted the seed in your hearts, and Apollos watered it, but *it was God who made it grow*.” (1 Corinthians 3:6-7 NLT)

It was God who made it grow.

2 Grow in Him

God is the source of your growth. As you walk in the power of the Holy Spirit, read the Bible, pray, tell people about Christ and spend time with other believers, God will be at work in you producing fruitfulness and maturity.

Which is not to say that you don’t do anything to help along your spiritual growth.  This is where discipline comes in, when you put in the time and effort to read your Bible and pray everyday.  This is where the self-control and patience comes in, when you remember your Christlikeness even when everyone else around you is just so annoying and loud and testing you and tempting you to sin.

“Better to be patient than powerful; better to have self-control than to conquer a city.” (Proverbs 16:32 NLT)

(If you want to grow physically, what can you do to help your body?  Eat vegetables, get more naps in the afternoons, sleep long at night, etc.  It’s the same thing.  If you want grow in Christ, you can also do some things to help you along in your journey.)

And the great thing about it is that when it is God, when it comes from God, when He is the one moving, He moves with a supernatural power.  He works at a rate that we can’t imagine.  He can make things happen in your life so wonderfully, not even any of those superhero powers in the movies can compare.

That’s why we say, Empowered to Grow!  With a power that comes from Jesus Himself!

And when we grow in Christ, we can surpass whatever barriers we can think of.  You can have more faith that you’ve ever had before.  You can hear from Him more clearly than you’ve ever had before.  You can worship more deeply than you’ve ever had before.

Now we have to talk about lobsters.  Don’t worry, it’s all connected.

Lobsters are the only animals with a shell whose bodies grow faster than their shells.  That means they get too big for their shells, and when happens, they get rid of that shell, sometimes bashing their bodies against the rocks and corals just to get it off so that they can grow a new shell to fit.

I want to have that kind of faith!  I want to grow so much in Christ, that it overflows out of me, in my worship, in my serving Him, in my life.  And if I have to get rid of my shell, or whatever it is that’s keeping me from growing in Him and loving Him more that I have ever imagined, then I’m going to get rid of my shell and grow and grow and grow!

When I started out writing this teaching, I thought I would play with that word GROW, and think if acronyms that would work, and I came up with several.  Obviously, I was inspired:

  • God reveals our worth
  • God reshapes our weaknesses
  • God rules our world
  • God removes our worries
  • God renews our wisdom
  • God requires our work
  • God rejoices in our worship

But right now, let’s focus that last one.  God Rejoices in Our Worship, and when we are empowered to grow, we have an empowered worship as well, is that an Amen?  Then let’s stand up and worship God, and say yes God, I want to know You more, I want to grow in You.  Let’s worship.

Worship
I Love You Jesus (Children’s Prayer)
New Wine (Hillsong Worship)

Lifegroup Discussion
Read Hebrews 5:11-6:3 verse by verse.  Encourage lively reading.

  1. What can you say about Hebrews 5:11?  Why do you think Paul used these words? (Show them the NLT version, and lead them into a discussion about how even before, people “don’t seem to listen”).
  2. (Fold a big piece of paper in half, lengthwise, just one for your group.  On the first column, get suggestions from the group one by one, and write down things that babies and young kids do that kids their age don’t do anymore.)
  3. (On the other column, write down things that they do now that they have grown, that they couldn’t do before.  Lead them into thinking of their day to day activities at home, in school, and in church.)
  4. Do you remember when you first received Jesus? (Encourage them to think about the date carefully, and write it down in their notebook or Bible.  It is an important date.)
  5. What do you know about Jesus now that you didn’t know before?
  6. Are there still things in the Bible that you don’t understand?  Think of three questions and submit to the teacher.
  7. Can you think of other acronyms for the word GROW?
  8. What is your favorite worship song?

Teaching Slides here.