Bible stories

Choose one or more Bible stories that are appropriate for your children.

Moving without a van

Read Genesis 12:1-9.

Questions for discussion
  1. How would you feel if your parents said you had to pack up everything, leave your home, and go on a long hiking and camping trip until you found a new place to live? Would it be exciting or scary?
  2. Would you whine and complain and try to convince your parents not to leave the home you’re in now?
  3. How do you think Abram and Sarai felt when God told them to move to a different country?
  4. Why do you think Abram and Sarai went?
Key concepts

God told Abram to leave the place he was living (Haran) and establish a new home in another country. Although God promised that He would bless Abram and his family in their new home, it was probably still hard for Abram and Sarai to trust God and leave all that was comfortable and secure. Moving home back then was a much bigger ordeal than it is now. They did not have moving vans or vehicles to carry their belongings. They had to travel on foot or ride on animals. While they travelled they lived in tents. Life for Abram and his family would have turned into a very long hiking and camping trip! When they got to a place called Bethel, the Bible says Abram built an altar and called on the name of the Lord.

At times when we are facing challenges or when the future seems scary, we can follow Abram’s example and “call on the Lord” in prayer. Although our life may sometimes change a lot, God is always with us.

Imagining our life as a storybook that God is writing can help us accept change. Sometimes, in the middle of a story, things go badly for the main character. But usually, by the end, things turn out well. With God, we can always trust that He’s planning for our life story to turn out well. Abram and Sarai faced many challenges in their life together, but their story turned out well in the end too.

God cares and has the answers

Note: This is a continuation of Abram’s journey introduced in the first Bible story, “Moving without a van.” You may want to explain that Sarai was Abram’s half-sister, meaning that Abram and Sarai had the same father but different mothers (Genesis 20:12).

Read Genesis 12:10-20.

Questions for discussion
  1. Why did Abram leave Canaan to go to Egypt?
  2. What was Abram afraid of?
  3. What did Abram and Sarai do to protect themselves?
  4. What happened when the Egyptians noticed that Sarai was beautiful?
  5. How did God take care of this problem?
  6. Do you ever start to worry and forget to let God take care of your problems?
  7. Can you think of a Bible verse that can remind you to trust God, even when you’re afraid?
Key concepts

Even though Abram was a man of great faith, he still had trouble trusting God sometimes. It’s easy for anyone who is uncertain or afraid to forget to let God take care of their problems. When we face difficulties, we often think we need to solve things on our own, but God watches over us and has solutions that we could never dream up ourselves.

When things seem like they are beyond our control we can pray and ask God to give us comfort and courage. We can also choose a Bible verse that reminds us to trust God, then read it over and over again. God didn’t quit caring for Abram when Abram was afraid and God won’t give up on us either.

Relevant Scripture

Psalm 56:3 “When I am afraid, I put my trust in You.”

Psalm 56:11 “. . . in God I trust and am not afraid. What can man do to me?”

Isaiah 12:2 “Surely God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid. The Lord, the Lord Himself, is my strength and my defense; He has become my salvation.”

God changes names sometimes

Read Genesis 17:1-6.

Questions for discussion
  1. What did God change Abram’s name to?
  2. What does the name Abraham mean?Read Genesis 17:15-17.
  3. What did God change Sarai’s name to?
  4. What blessing did God promise for Sarai?
  5. Why do you think God changed Abram and Sarai’s names?Read Genesis 18:11-14 and Genesis 21:1-7.
  6. What did Sarah do when she heard God was going to allow her to have a baby?
  7. What did God reply? Read Genesis 21:1-7 and Matthew 1:1-17.
  8. Can you tell me what the happy ending of this story was?
Key concepts

God changed Abram’s name to Abraham, which means “father of many” (Genesis 17:5). Sarai’s name was changed to Sarah. The blessing that God promised Sarah was that she would have a baby. Sarah had a hard time believing that she and Abraham (who were both very old) would have a child of their own. God replied very directly with a question: “Is anything too hard for the Lord?” (Genesis 18:14).

The very happy ending for this story is that Sarah and Abraham did have a baby boy. They named their baby Isaac and he had children, and the children grew up and had children, and those children grew up and had children, and that continued over and over for a long time. The big blessing God gave Sarah and Abraham was that they became the great, great, great, great, (many greats!) grandparents of Jesus!

God changed Abram and Sarai’s names to reflect the purposes and plans He had for their lives.

Note: At this point, if you wish, consult with one another and choose a special, loving nickname for each person in your family, a nickname that points to the talents and special abilities God has given each person and that might even hint at the plan God has for their life.

Relevant Scripture

Genesis 18:14 “Is anything too hard for the Lord?”

Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”

Singing in a sad place

Note: Before you begin, explain to your children that Paul and Silas had been telling people the good news about Jesus and how they could have their sins forgiven. This bothered some men and they dragged Paul and Silas before the authorities. They told the authorities lies about Paul and Silas, saying they were encouraging the people to follow customs that were against the Roman law (Acts 16:16-21). As a result, Paul and Silas were beaten severely, then thrown into jail.

Read Acts 16:25-36.

Questions for discussion
  1. What happened to Paul and Silas before they were put in prison?
  2. During the night, what did Paul and Silas do?
  3. Who was listening?
  4. Next, there was a big surprise! What happened?
  5. Why did the jailer pull his sword out?
  6. Who stopped the jailer from killing himself?
  7. What did the jailer do next?
  8. Did this story have a happy or a sad ending? Why?
Key concepts

Before Paul and Silas were put in prison they were badly beaten. Once in prison, they were tied up with heavy chains on their legs. They would not have been very comfortable sitting there, all chained up, bleeding and bruised. Instead of whining or complaining or getting mad at God, they chose to pray and sing songs of praise to God. The Bible tells us that the other prisoners were listening as Paul and Silas sang and prayed.

When the jailer saw that the prisoners were freed by the earthquake, he pulled out his sword and was going to kill himself. (He knew that if all the prisoners escaped, he would be killed anyway for not doing his job well enough). Paul called out and stopped the jailer. He told him to put his sword away, because all the prisoners had stayed, even though their chains had fallen off. The jailer was so surprised that he asked Paul and Silas how he could be saved. Paul and Silas told him, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household” (Acts 16:31).

The happy ending to this story is that the jailer, instead of killing himself, found new, eternal life by believing in Jesus. He took Paul and Silas to his home, bandaged up their wounds, and his whole family decided to follow Jesus and be baptized. After this happened, the authorities allowed Paul and Silas to go free.

Even though it is hard to find reasons to thank God in difficult situations, God can bring good out of what seems like a desperate and dreadful situation. It takes real courage to trust and praise God when life seems hopeless, but Paul and Silas did. Their story is a good one to remember during hard times because it reminds us to praise God, even when we face difficulties.

David’s horrible, no good, really bad day – or week

Read Psalm 77.

Questions for discussion
  1. Have you ever had a day when you felt like everything and everyone were against you?
  2. What did David say that lets us know he was really upset?
  3. How do we know that David felt like God was far away?
  4. Even though he was feeling down, what do verses 11-12 say that David decided to do?
  5. What are some of God’s mighty acts that David remembered?
  6. Can you think of any other amazing things God has done?
  7. What mighty acts of God could you think about when you feel as though God is far away?
Key concepts

When we read Psalm 77, we can tell that David was going through a very hard time because David said things like, “I cry aloud to God for help . . . In the day of my trouble I seek the Lord . . . my soul refuses to be comforted . . . I am so troubled that I cannot speak.” David was even wondering if God still loved him. He wondered if God had rejected him, or forgotten to be kind to him.

Even though David was feeling as though God was ignoring him, he decided to think about the amazing things God had done in the past. David thought about God’s holiness and greatness, and about how God did an amazing miracle that was of immense importance for David’s nation of Israel. It happened when the Israelites were slaves in Egypt. God led them to freedom by splitting the Red Sea in two so the Israelites could run across to the other side. They were able to escape the Egyptians and live no longer as slaves, but as free people.

If we start to wonder if God has forgotten us or is mad at us, we can do as David did and praise God for all the wonderful things He has done. Even though, at times, it might seem as though God is silent or far away, that’s not the truth. God is still with us and will never stop loving us.

Relevant Scripture

Deuteronomy 4:31-34 “For the Lord your God is a merciful God. He will not leave you or destroy you or forget the covenant with your fathers that He swore to them. For ask now of the days that are past, which were before you, since the day that God created man on the earth, and ask from one end of heaven to the other, whether such a great thing as this has ever happened or was ever heard of. Did any people ever hear the voice of a god speaking out of the midst of the fire, as you have heard, and still live? Or has any god ever attempted to go and take a nation for himself from the midst of another nation, by trials, by signs, by wonders, and by war, by a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, and by great deeds of terror, all of which the Lord your God did for you in Egypt before your eyes?”

Isaiah 49:13-16 “Sing for joy, O heavens, and exult, O earth; break forth, O mountains, into singing! For the Lord has comforted His people and will have compassion on His afflicted. But Zion said, ‘The Lord has forsaken me; my Lord has forgotten me.’ Can a woman forget her nursing child, that she should have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, yet I will not forget you. Behold, I have engraved you on the palms of My hands; your walls are continually before Me.”

Faithfulness in times of struggle

Read Ruth 1:1-11,14-21.

Questions for discussion
  1. Do you know what the name “Mara” means? (Mara means “bitter,” whereas Naomi means “pleasant.”)
  2. Why did Naomi tell her friends to call her “Mara”? Read Ruth 2:1-7 and Ruth 4:13-17.
  3. Who did God bring into Naomi and Ruth’s life to help them?
  4. What was it about Ruth that impressed Boaz so much?
  5. After Ruth and Boaz married, who else did God bring into Naomi’s life?
  6. After her grandson Obed was born, do you think Naomi still thought of herself as “Mara” (bitter) or as “Naomi” (pleasant)?
  7. If you find yourself feeling like God doesn’t care for you anymore, which Bible verse can you use as a reminder that God will never forget you or leave you?
  8. Baby Obed grew up to become the grandfather of King David. Can you guess who Obed was the great, great, great, (many greats) grandfather of? (Jesus)
Key concepts

Naomi and Ruth went through a time of great sadness and discouragement when they lived in Moab. Despite everything, they continued to trust and worship God. Their story is a wonderful story to read because we get to see how God worked out an amazing plan for Ruth and Naomi through Boaz. Not only did God provide a righteous and generous man for a husband for Ruth, He allowed Ruth and Boaz to have to a baby boy named Obed, a grandson for Naomi.

In the end, other women in Bethlehem praised God and encouraged Naomi by saying how blessed she was (Ruth 4:14). When Obed grew up, he became the grandfather of David who eventually was chosen by God to become king of Israel. Obed was also an ancestor of Jesus.

As discouraged as Naomi was at the start of her story, and as much as she felt God had forgotten about her, we know that He never did stop loving and caring for her. At times, we too may feel so sad or lonely that we are sure God has forgotten us. If this happens, we can remember this story of how God cared for Ruth and blessed Naomi, in spite of Naomi’s bitterness and disappointment.

Relevant Scripture

Deuteronomy 31:8 “It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; He will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.”

Isaiah 49:13-16 “Sing for joy, O heavens, and exult, O earth; break forth, O mountains, into singing! For the Lord has comforted His people and will have compassion on His afflicted. But Zion said, ‘The Lord has forsaken me; my Lord has forgotten me.’ Can a woman forget her nursing child, that she should have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, yet I will not forget you. Behold, I have engraved you on the palms of My hands; your walls are continually before Me.”

Jesus cries with His friends

Read John 11:1-7,14-15,17-44.

Questions for discussion
  1. If you have a big problem, who do you usually talk to?
  2. Who did Mary and Martha want to talk to when Lazarus became ill?
  3. What do you think that says about Jesus’ friendship with Martha, Mary and Lazarus?
  4. Why do you think Jesus didn’t hurry, but waited two days before He went to see Lazarus?
  5. Why do you think Jesus cried when He saw Mary and her friends weeping?
  6. Can you think of a time when you felt like no one understood how sad you were?
  7. Do you think Jesus cares about your sadness, just like He did about Mary’s?
Key concepts

The Bible tells us that when Jesus saw Mary and the others weeping over the death of Lazarus, He was deeply troubled and He cried too (John 11:32-35). Even though Jesus already knew that He was going to raise Lazarus from the dead, He wept to see everyone feeling so sad.

From reading this story, we know that Jesus understood the sorrow His friends felt over losing a beloved friend and family member. When life gets hard, many people like to go and talk with a trusted friend or family member.  We can be comforted by sharing our sorrows with other people. This story of Lazarus lets us know that when we are in pain, Jesus cares about our sadness and will comfort us too.

Foolish faith – or not?

Read Hebrews 11:1-2,6-12,23-34.

Questions for discussion
  1. Do you think there were often big floods in the region where Noah built the ark?
  2. Did Abraham know anything about the land God was sending him to?
  3. When Moses’ parents sent him floating down a river in a basket, did they have any idea where he was going to end up?
  4. Did Moses know what was going to happen to the Israelites when he obeyed God by leading them out of Egypt and into the desert?
  5. Were these people of faith wise or foolish?
  6. Who does the Bible say we should imitate?
Key concepts

Having faith means being sure that God is who He says He is and that He will do what He has promised to do. Even though we can’t see into the future to see what God has planned for our lives, we need to follow Him, trusting that His plans for us will be good.

This is exactly what Paul wrote about in Hebrews 11. He lists many people who followed God in faith. Even though they didn’t know exactly what God had planned for them, they trusted Him anyway and were careful to follow God’s instructions.

When we go through hard times, we can find encouragement through reading what the Bible says about God. Hebrews 13:5-8 says God is the same yesterday and today and tomorrow and that He will never leave us or forsake us.

Relevant Scripture

Hebrews 13:5-8 “Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for He has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’ So we can confidently say, ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?’ Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.”