Here’s a daily hint: Spend time GROWing at the dinner table.
Growing as in…
Grace (say a table grace together). Review the days highs and lows while you eat. Open the Bible and read just a tiny bit. Work on applying it to life.
The “work on it” part doesn’t have to be elaborate. It’s all about…
Asking questions or doing activities that help us to see that the Bible applies to our lives.
So if our current Rotation story is about Joseph in Egypt, how can such a long story—with numerous characters and complex plot twists—be broken down in bite-sized (dinner table-sized) chunks?
Easy! Use the following reading/discussion guide!
If you’d like to print out this reading plan/discussion guide, click here. Need a review? See part one of Joseph in Egypt here. And if you’d like to go even further back, review the discussion guide for Joseph’s “Coat” portion of the story, here.
Read in Genesis
Why did Jacob have fears about Benjamin going to Egypt? Kids: Do you suppose that your parents have fears about you going places without them? What can help your parents when they are afraid?
Why do you suppose Joseph pretended to not know his brothers? What would your reaction have been if you were Joseph?
What “dreams” is Joseph talking about? (Hint: Genesis 37:5-11) How do you suppose Joseph is feeling watching his dreams come true!?
Why do you suppose Joseph locked up all of his brothers for three days? Describe a time when you schemed to “get back” at someone who had wronged you. Did you follow through with your plans?
Joseph says he “fears” God (verse 18) meaning he respects God. Where would you put Joseph’s trust-in-God-level at this point in the story? How do you suppose the brothers of Joseph are feeling: upset at their lot in life or sorry about what they did to Joseph?
Where are they on the trust-in-God-meter?
Share in the comments how applying-it-to-life helps you to GROW your family faith!
To print out this discussion guide from a Google Doc, click here.
Our current Rotation covers part two of the Old Testament story of Joseph and his brothers. We covered part one – the “colorful” coat portion of the story – in January and February. A review of part one (with a printable discussion) is here.
Part two concludes the cliffhanger that part one left off at – what happens to Joseph in Egypt?!? Because our story winds its way through several chapters in Genesis (39:1-5, 39:20-45:28, 46:1-7, 50:15-21) here is part one of a reading plan that breaks it down into manageable chunks so that you can all read the story over several days/weeks. Just read a passage and then discuss the associated question(s)/do the activities. Make it a habit to get out a Bible at the family dinner table. (Or wherever your family is gathered together.)
* A review question
Read in Genesis
Who was “Israel?” (Hint: It’s a name God gave someone; if stumped check out Genesis 32:28)
How does this special robe end up getting Joseph into a heap of trouble? Have you ever gotten into trouble because of jealousy? (Adults: ‘fess up time)
The next thing Joseph knows, he’s headed for Egypt (and I suppose he’s not riding a camel). When has a sudden turn of events surprised you? How do you suppose Joseph is feeling? What do you imagine his prayers to God sound like?
Where would you put Joseph’s trust-in-God-level at this point in the story? (not so much, a little bit, still strong?) Do you suppose it’s a good idea to prepare for the next rough situation, by strengthening your trust in God? Brainstorm some ideas for building trust. Create a list for the ‘fridge.
What do you suppose Potiphar saw that made him conclude: “the Lord is with Joseph”? What would it look like if someone noticed that God was with you?
Joseph was accused of doing something that he didn’t do. Where would you put Joseph’s “trust-in-God-level” at this point in the story? Tell about a time when you were at that place on the “trust-in-God-meter.”
How do you suppose Joseph is feeling now? What does it feel like to know that God is with you? Bonus question for 3rd grade & up: what does the little “c” mean in “39:20c”?
How did Joseph come to interpret the dreams of the kings workers? (Hint: verse 7). What does this tell you about being sensitive to the needs of those around you? Speculate about where it might lead you if you notice someone’s needs today?
40:9-23 For < 3rd grade stop at verse 15
Do you suppose God speaks to us through dreams? What strange dreams have you had? Why do you suppose the cupbearer forgot about Joseph? Where would you put Joseph’s “trust-in-God-level” at this point in the story?
Two years have passed! Do you suppose Joseph wondered where God was? What do you suppose Pharaoh’s dreams mean? Why do you suppose none of Pharaoh’s “magicians” could tell him the meaning of his dreams? How would you describe Joseph’s relationship with God? (pay close attention to verse 16) When have you given God the credit for working in your life?
What is a famine? How would you describe your relationship with God – as going through a feast or a famine? If you could see into the future, what would you do?
What do you suppose Joseph is feeling now? How has Joseph changed since the beginning of our story in chapter 37? (Remember, he was bragging about his dreams.) How have you changed as you’ve “grown up”?
How can years of “abundance” help you prepare for years of “famine?”
If you’d like to print out the following discussion guide, click here.
Our current Rotation covers the Old Testament story of Joseph and his brothers. It’s the story with the fancy coat.
It is a familiar story of family struggles: favoritism, bragging, sibling rivalry, and brothers gone bad. We’ll only catch a glimpse of it but it is also the story of God having a greater plan. Things can look pretty bad, but God is never far away. Recalling Joseph’s story can help us get through our own difficult times.
Use the following to read a passage and then discuss the question(s)/do the activities. Do this over the course of several days!
* = a review question!
Read in Genesis
Where have we heard of Jacob? (We studied about him and his brother Esau in Oct. & Nov. 2012.) Can you draw out the family tree? Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and… Bonus question for 3rd grade & up: what does the little “a” mean in “37:1-2a”?
How would you like to have a brother who told bad stories about you? Has anyone ever told a bad story about you? Was the story true??
How many children did Jacob have? (Ans: Here + one daughter.) What other reason might there be as to why Joseph was Jacob’s favorite child? (Hint and Hint)
What kind of upbringing did Jacob have that sort of explains his picking of favorites? (Hint) Ask your child(ren) which traits of your family, they might like to pass on to their children.
Have a family-draw: Grab some paper and markers or crayons. Have everyone create their own rendition of what Joseph’s coat looked like. While drawing, talk about jealousy. Does everyone know what the word means? Tell me about a time when you felt jealous. What did you do with your jealous feelings? Be sure to spend time explaining your drawings.
Describe a strange dream that you’ve had. Do you suppose that Joseph could have told his dreams in a way that didn’t sound like bragging? Try re-writing Joseph’s story of his dreams in a friendlier way.
Where have we “seen” God in this story so far? Even though God isn’t specifically mentioned in chapter 37, think back to the stories of Jacob and Esau. What happened that makes you certain that Jacob shared his “God-stories” with his sons? (Hint)
Jacob seemed unaware of his sons thoughts about Joseph. What could Jacob have done about the brewing troubles? How do you solve issues in your family?
Have you ever had to talk a group out of a bad idea? Did Reuben’s strategy to save Joseph work? (Hint) Reuben was the oldest. Do you suppose that is why he offered this alternative idea? Adults: if you had siblings did being oldest mean anything special?
Have you ever heard the expression “it’s the pits?” How does that expression apply to this story? (Hint) Have you ever felt like you were stuck in a pit? Why? What (or perhaps who) helped you out of that pit?
Do you know why people in Bible times tore their clothes? It was a sign of mourning. (As well as putting on “sackcloth” and ashes.) What are signs in our culture that someone is sad? When the brothers saw how upset Jacob was, how do you suppose they kept their secret? Adults: share a time when you were growing up & pulled a fast-one.
37:36 & 39:1-5
What do you suppose Joseph’s prayers sounded like when he was in the pit? When he was being taken to Egypt? When he found God was with him in Egypt? How have your prayers sounded recently?
This month our Rotation story is part two of Jacob and Esau. (Last month we covered part one.) A Bible story big enough to be covered over two months calls for your help! It’s too much to cover all of this story in class. Please read this story a bit each day, using the following family reading plan. As an added bonus there are questions for discussion along with the reading.
Gather together around the family dinner table. (Or wherever your family is gathered together.) If you’d like to print out the part two reading plan/discussion guide, click here. (For part one’s reading plan click here.)
* A review from last month
Read in Genesis
How does this message from God become significant later in the story? (Hint: This is a review question! Who ends up with the birthright and the family blessing?)
How would you describe Jacob? Esau? Their parents, Rebekah and Isaac? Do any of their traits describe you? (Are you an outdoorsy-type, a grabber, an opportunist?)
Have you ever played a trick on someone? What was the outcome? Draw pictures of what you think Jacob looked like in his “disguise.”
How would you rate Jacob’s trust in God? Why do you suppose God would want such a person to be responsible for his Covenant? (see Genesis 22:17-18)
Describe how Esau must have felt? Aren’t you glad that in our day, everyone can be blessed! Practice saying a blessing for each family member. Try: “The Lord bless you and keep you.”
Tell about a time when you held a grudge against (or were angry with) someone. Did it ever get resolved?
As you re-read this passage think about what you use a stairway for. How can a stairway be seen as a way we can “get to” God? As a way God gets to us?
Do you know the story of how your mom and dad first met? Talk about the last gathering of your relatives. Was there lots of hugs and kissing? Telling stories?
Note: For families with young children, it is suggested that you tell this story to your family rather than read it out of the Bible. (Read it for yourself ahead of time.) First, ask your child(ren) what they know about Jacob’s marriages. Tell the story and then ask: How does the trickster get tricked? How do you suppose Leah and Rachel felt?
Jacob was working for Laban for 20 years. Can you imagine working at the same job for 20 years? What do you suppose God has planned for Jacob?
When have you prepared for something, expecting that the worst could happen? Does Jacob remember that God is with him? The next time this happens, how will knowing that God is with you make it different?
Why do you suppose God wrestled with Jacob? Do you suppose that sometimes the only way to learn something is to struggle with it? What is something that you’ve struggled with lately?
Names had great meaning in Bible times. Why do you suppose God asks Jacob what his name is? What new name does God give Jacob? What new name do you suppose God would give you? Bible-reader? Child who prays daily? One who helps others? Share your desired new name from God by adding a comment below!
Did this meeting turn-out how you expected? Is it easier to offer forgiveness or to be forgiven?
Click here for info on banner photo (not visible in readers or email). Jacob & Esau is an image from Sunday Software’s the Awesome Bible Stories CD. Used by permission. (This software is a neat way of expanding Bible learning at home. Discover more titles here.)
Our Rotation this month is part one from the Old Testament story of Jacob and Esau. (Next month we’ll be covering part two.) A Bible story big enough to be covered over two months warrants a family reading plan! As an added bonus there are questions for discussion at the family dinner table. (Or wherever your family is gathered together.)
Is this required reading?
Yes! Let’s call it that! Actually, I’d hope that you are always reading together as a family, the Bible story being taught at FUMC. But this is especially necessary for a big story; a long story is hard to cover in the short amount of class time on a Saturday night or a Sunday morning.
Besides, this story is intriguing! It’s got interesting characters, twin brothers in conflict, a hasty swap, scheming, disguises, and trickery. Oh, and it ends (for this month) on a cliffhanger. (What will happen to Jacob??) Consider this an excuse to start a faith dialogue in your family!
(If you’d like to print out this reading plan & discussion guide, click here.)
Can your child draw out a family tree with the characters in our story?
What sort of questions would you like to ask God?
Do you know what your name means? Read the foot notes in the Bible for the twins names. In Bible times names had great meaning. What do you think of Jacob’s name meaning “deceiver?”
Do you suppose that Isaac and Rebekah were wrong to have favorites?
What sort of trouble did this lead to?
Have you ever been so hungry that you would trade something valuable just to be able to eat?
Have you ever taken advantage of a family member who was vulnerable in some way?
Is forgiveness necessary?
What were the rights of the firstborn son?
(Ans: He would inherit a larger amount of property and would be leader of the family.)
Why do you suppose Esau didn’t seem to care about his birthright?
We typically equate “blessing” with approval (example: I approve of your choice of a university to attend). In Bible times a blessing was very important and held great promise. How do you suppose it would have felt to have been “blessed” in such a manner?
What is Rebekah suggesting?
What do you think of Jacob’s response? (Doesn’t protest too hardily!)
Why do you suppose this story (about deceit!) is in the Bible?
Review what God told Rebekah about her sons – Genesis 25:23. Why do you suppose she felt as though she had to act in order for God’s plan to happen? When have you felt it necessary to be in charge?
Do you get the feeling that Isaac knows he’s being tricked? Why do you suppose he plays along?
Do you suppose that God approves of these actions? What does this story teach us about the power of words? Whom can you bless with your words?
How would you feel if you were Esau?
What have you learned from this story?
Genesis 27:41-43 and 28:1-5
Why did Jacob run away?
What does this imply about what he has done?
Have you ever felt like running away?
How do you suppose it felt to use a stone as a pillow?
What does the dream mean to you?
Genesis 17:1-8 and 28:12-15
Abram was the grandfather of Jacob. What does it mean that God repeats his promise to Jacob? Review the promises God has made with you! (Ephesians 2:8 & Romans 5:2 are a couple.)
As you re-read this passage, consider how amazing it is that, in spite of what Jacob has done, God still offers grace! What does this mean for you?
Have you ever been surprised by God’s presence? How have you confirmed a meeting with God?
Click here for info on banner photo (not visible in readers or email). Jacob and Esau in the womb, is an image from the Awesome Bible Stories CD, used by permission. (This software is a neat way of expanding Bible learning at home. Discover more titles here.)
We are about to embark on a follow-up Rotation on Moses. Last month we covered Moses from his birth to his encounter with God in a burning bush.
That was a lot of ground to cover in the Bible, as is part two: Plagues and Passover. But have no fear! Here is a reading plan for your family group to use, to break down this month’s story into manageable chunks. (For the part one reading plan click here.)
Might I suggest covering our story over several days? Start off with a review of God’s call to Moses. (The Burning Bush!) The next day, read about Moses and Aaron’s first encounter with Pharaoh. (See picture above.) On subsequent days you can read about each plague, as God displays his power to Egypt. Eventually you’ll read about the first Passover and about how a lamb’s blood saved the Israelites.
As an added bonus there are questions for discussion at the family dinner table. (Or wherever your family is gathered together.)
If you’d like to print out this reading plan/discussion guide (I’ve tried to squeeze it into a one-page document!) click here.
Why take off your sandals? What sort of relationship to God does this imply?
What does God want Moses to do?
How many different ways does God identify himself?
Does Moses sound like he is whining? When was the last time you whined? Reread verse 11. Which of your perceived limitations needs this sort of talking to?
How did you expect Pharaoh would react to Moses’ request? Tell about a time you asked for something and were turned down.
What can help you to keep in mind that God is with you in times of stress?
Do you suppose Moses is ready to give up? So soon? When have you felt this way?
Why do you suppose God “hardened” Pharaoh’s heart? Or did Pharaoh harden his own heart? What do you hope to be able to accomplish at age 80?
How do you suppose Moses and Aaron felt when Pharaoh’s magicians made their staffs into snakes? Who (in your opinion) “won” this round?
To the Egyptians the Nile River was a god. What does this say about God’s power?
Do you see “magicians” in society who try to mimic God’s power?
How do you suppose it would feel to find frogs in your oven and in your mixing bowls?
Why do you suppose the magicians didn’t try to stop the frogs?
Starting with this plague, the magicians were no longer able to reproduce a plague. Why do you suppose this didn’t have an affect on Pharaoh?
What sort of pattern of behavior is happening? Starting with this plague, the Hebrews were unaffected. What sort of message did this send to Pharaoh? To the Hebrews?
How do you suppose Pharaoh planned to recover Egypt from these plagues?
God didn’t tell Moses how many plagues would happen. How is Moses likely feeling?
What does the warning in verse 19 say about God? How about verse 32?
If God knows that Pharaoh will change his mind, why does he keep stopping a plague when Pharaoh says he will let them go? Why does Pharaoh ignore his officials advice?
The sun was a god to the Egyptians. What does this story teach you about your allegiance to the “gods” of today’s society?
Exodus 11:1, 12:1-13
Why do you suppose there are such explicit directions for a Passover feast? How does Jesus’ Last Supper relate to this story? How about Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross?
In the manner of verse 26, discuss your family traditions.
What sort of blessing do you suppose Moses gave Pharaoh? Have you ever received a blessing? How do you suppose the Hebrews felt as they left town in a hurry?
Moses’ story, from his birth to his experience with the burning bush, is rich in content, and opens numerous chances for discussion. One of our targets for this Rotation is to help kids recognize God “at work” in the lives of Moses and other story characters. A second objective is to apply the concept of “God at work” to their own life. Great topics for families to discuss!
What does God at work look like in this portion of our story?
Read the scripture together as a family. Since it’s a long story, use the following chart to read and talk about our story in stages, over the course of several days. (If you’d like to print out this reading plan/discussion guide, click here.)
Read a passage and then ask where you see God making his presence known. I’ve provided some suggestions. Feel free to comment on other ways you notice God taking action.
Discussion points. How is God at work in the lives of story characters?
Fulfilling God’s promise to Abraham to have as many descendants as the stars in the sky (Genesis 15:5).
What are two Hebrew midwives able to do?
Imagine the trust in God necessary to hide your child in a basket in the river!
Just at the right time, Pharaoh’s daughter decides to take a bath.
Miriam showed some courage. And Moses gets the best of two worlds – being raised as a youngster by his family (and being seeped in Hebrew culture) and life in Pharaoh’s palace.
What good ends up coming from this bad? (It does require knowing the rest of the story.)
Moses lived in Midian for 40 years. I wonder what sort of “learning” Moses needed to acquire during that long time in the “wilderness.”
God is starting his rescue plan! I wonder what would have happened if Moses hadn’t said, “Hmm, that’s unusual. I’d better go and look at that.”
This one is obvious: God speaks to Moses!
Pagan gods never revealed their name because disclosing a name was like giving away power. But our God is a personal God; he has a name!
God gives Moses concrete examples of his power. I wonder how Moses will feel when God doesn’t seem so close at hand?
God really wants Moses to do this job. I wonder why Moses is so hesitant?
What does God give Moses to remind him that God will be with him?
What are ways that you see God at work in your life?
Photo credits: Burning bush by the Providence Lithograph Company [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.