Thank you for continuing this journey of The Gospel Project® for Kids. Today’s Bible story focuses on Paul’s second missionary journey that he took to follow up with churches he had planted on his first journey. Paul wanted to see how the new believers were doing. Paul and his companion Silas traveled through Syria and Cilicia, encouraging believers and strengthening churches. The numbers of believers in the churches increased daily.
One night, while Paul and Silas were in Troas, the Lord called Paul to go to Macedonia and preach the gospel to the people. So Paul and Silas obeyed. They sailed to Macedonia, staying in the city of Philippi for several days.
Two major events happened while Paul was in Macedonia. First, a woman named Lydia became a believer. God opened Lydia’s heart to the good news of the gospel. She believed and was baptized. Then she invited Paul and Silas to stay at her house.
Then, Paul and Silas were thrown into prison after Paul commanded a fortune-telling spirit to come out of a slave girl. Late at night, an earthquake rocked the prison, flung open the doors, and shucked off the shackles. The prisoners could have jumped up and escaped, but they stayed where they were. The jailer asked Paul and Silas how to be saved. “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved,” they said. The man believed and was baptized.
Lydia, the jailer, and many others were saved because they believed in Jesus. Jesus offers us salvation as a gift. He did all the work to save us by dying on the cross. We do not need to earn salvation; we can just receive it by repenting and trusting in Jesus.
This week in The Gospel Project® for Kids, our journey takes us along with Paul on his first missionary journey. Paul’s first missionary journey began in Antioch of Syria—the third-largest city in the Roman empire, after Rome and Alexandria. The Holy Spirit was working in the Antioch church. The Spirit led the believers there to send out Paul and Barnabas on a journey to preach. The church obeyed, and Paul and Barnabas went out.
Remember that at one time Paul had devotedly persecuted Christians, but now Paul was a missionary. A missionary is someone who obeys God’s call to go and tell others the good news about Jesus. Paul and Barnabas traveled to several cities and all over the island of Cyprus, telling everyone about Jesus.
In each city, they went first into the synagogues. They told the Jews about Jesus. Some of the Jews believed, but some of them were angry at Paul and Barnabas. They rejected the truth about Jesus. In some places, the Jews made plans to kill Paul! So Paul and Barnabas went to the Gentiles, the non-Jews. This was the purpose to which God had called Paul. (See Acts 9:15.) When the Gentiles heard the gospel, many of them believed. The gospel is not for a select group of people; it is for everyone! If Paul had not taken the gospel to the Gentiles, many of us would probably not be believers today.
Paul obeyed the Holy Spirit’s call to tell the world about Jesus. Many of the Jews rejected Christ, so Paul shared the gospel with the non-Jews. Many of them believed in Jesus. God uses people to tell others about Jesus so that people all over the world can be saved from their sin by trusting in Jesus as Lord and Savior.
Thank you for continuing this journey of The Gospel Project® for Kids. Over the next six weeks, kids will learn about Paul’s life-changing encounter with Jesus. Saul was a devout Jew who was born in Tarsus (Phil. 3:5) and inherited his Roman citizenship from his father. (His Roman name was Paul; his Hebrew name was Saul.) So when people began talking about this man named Jesus and claiming that He was the promised Messiah, Saul took notice.
Saul believed strongly in the Jewish faith of his ancestors. He violently persecuted God’s church and tried to destroy it. (Gal. 1:13-14) He dragged believers from their houses and put them in prison. He approved of the stoning of Stephen, the first Christian martyr. Saul thought he was doing the right thing by defending Judaism, but God’s purposes could not be stopped.
As Saul was on his way to arrest believers in Damascus, the Lord stopped him in his tracks. Jesus revealed Himself to Saul, and Saul was never the same. Saul was convinced that Jesus is Lord. Saul later described the experience as being like dying and receiving a new life. (Gal. 2:20; 2 Cor. 5:17) God had a purpose and a plan for Saul. He had set Saul apart before Saul was even born. (Gal. 1:15) God said, “This man is My chosen instrument to take My name to the Gentiles” (Acts 9:15).
Salvation, sometimes called conversion, happens when a person recognizes his sin, repents, believes in Jesus, and confesses Jesus as Savior and Lord. Jesus changes a person’s heart, and as a result, his or her life is changed too. Jesus appeared to Saul and changed him inside and out. Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners. (1 Tim. 1:15) Jesus called Saul, who was once an enemy of Christians, to spend the rest of his life telling people the gospel and leading them to trust Jesus as Lord and Savior.
Thank you for continuing this journey of The Gospel Project® for Kids. Today’s Bible story is about the first Christian martyr, Stephen. Stephen was one of the seven men chosen to serve as leaders in the early church at Jerusalem. (See Acts 6:1-7.) God blessed Stephen, and God gave him power to do wonders and miracles like some of the apostles.
Some of the Jews accused Stephen of blasphemy and dragged him to the Sanhedrin, a group of Jewish leaders that acted as a legal council. Stephen addressed the group. He drew from the Old Testament, which the leaders in the Sanhedrin would have known well. He reminded them of Abraham’s faith in God and of Joseph’s plight in Egypt. He talked about Moses and the Israelites who rejected God’s plan. But God did not give up on them.
Stephen also showed how the Old Testament pointed to a coming Savior and how that Savior was Jesus. Stephen pointed out that the Jews’ ancestors had rejected God’s prophets. And they were just like their fathers; they rejected the Messiah, the Lord Jesus. Not only did they reject Jesus, they killed Him!
The Jewish leaders rushed at Stephen. The Holy Spirit filled Stephen, and he looked into heaven. He saw God’s glory, and Jesus was standing at God’s right hand. The Jews forced Stephen out of the city, and they stoned him. As he died, Stephen called out, “Lord, do not charge them with this sin!”
Stephen was killed because he was a Christian. Jesus told His followers that they would be persecuted—hated, hurt, or even killed—for loving Him. (Mark 13:9-13; John 16:2) Jesus also said that those who suffer for Him would be blessed. (Matthew 5:11) Stephen was not afraid to die because he saw Jesus waiting for him in heaven. We can face suffering in this life because we know great joy is waiting for us in heaven.
This week in The Gospel Project® for Kids, our journey takes us to Jerusalem where the early church was booming with growth. There were two groups of Jews in the first church: Jews who spoke Greek and Jews who spoke Hebrew. The Greek-speaking Jews were from foreign countries, and the Hebrew-speaking Jews had been born in Israel. Tension existed between the two groups. The Greek-speaking Jews complained that their widows were not being cared for properly.
The Old Testament law was clear that God commanded His people to care for the orphans and widows. (See Ex. 22:22; Deut. 10:18.) The early church continued this Jewish custom, but the Greek-speaking Jews claimed their widows were not getting their share of the daily distributions.
The twelve apostles were quick to address the issue. They gathered all the believers together. The apostles explained that God had called them to preaching and teaching. They were not above handling problems among the people, but they wisely led the church to choose seven leaders to oversee such duties.
The church did not choose just anyone to serve; the men were reputable, full of the Spirit, and wise. The chosen seven were Stephen, Philip, Prochorus (PRAHK uh ruhs), Nicanor (nigh KAY nawr), Timon (TIGH mahn), Parmenas (PAHR mih nuhs), and Nicolaus (nik uh LAY uhs). Now the apostles were free to devote themselves to prayer and preaching, and the widows were properly cared for.
Everyone in the church has a role in God’s work. The apostles believed that everyone in the church had an important job to do to serve God's people and help spread the gospel. The seven men who were chosen used their abilities to take care of others. Jesus wants us to serve others so that the message of His death and resurrection can be heard and believed all over the world.
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