UNIT 01: GOD SHOWS UP | EPISODE 01: GOD IS HOPE

Luke 1:5-25, 57-80; Hebrews 10:23

We all need hope—and as people who know God, we have it! Our hope isn’t based on our own God-given smarts or strength. Instead, it flows from our trust in God—and the truth that God is faithful to always keep His promises.

When God promised to send a Savior to deliver His people, He also promised that He would send a prophet to prepare the way for that deliverer.

Today we’ll GET INTO Luke, chapter 1, and discover how the birth of John the Baptist fulfilled God’s promise and gave God’s people hope! After the video, we’ll TALK IT UP and ACT IT OUT. So, get ready to experience some happy, helpful hope today!

Gather everyone together, fire up a screen, and watch Episode 1’s video: “Birth of a Prophet.”

HOPE. You can use the word “hope” in several ways. Sometimes it’s used to express a wish—that it won’t rain during the picnic, or your team will win the big game. You’re expressing a desire, but you’re not sure if things will go as you hope.

The word can also be used to express a confident trust that something will happen—and that’s how we’re using the word.

God’s people had hope that He would send a deliverer, and they were sure it would happen. They were sure because they knew God always keeps His promises and they trusted God.

We can have that same hope because we can trust God to keep His promises to us!

We have hope because we can trust God to keep His promises! Use these questions to TALK IT UP and dig into what God’s Word tells us about hope:

  • Where do you see hope peeking out in the Bible story about the birth of John the Baptist? Who has it—and why?
  • God’s people waited hundreds of years for God to send a deliverer, but they kept hoping. Tell about a time you had to wait a long time for something to happen. Did your hope fade at all as you waited?
  • Zechariah had hope that John would grow up to be a prophet. What fueled Zechariah’s hope?
  • What’s something God has promised you that you hope will happen?
  • What would help your hope in God grow stronger? Brainstorm a list of “hope helpers.”

Pick one “hope helper” from the list you brainstormed in TALK IT UP and give it a try—right now!

  • If praying will build your hope, pray.
  • If reading the Bible will supersize your hope, take turns reading aloud some promises from God to you. Here’s a list of verses to get you started: Psalm 37:23; Matthew 6:33, 11:28, 24:13; John 3:16, 36; Romans 8:28; James 1:5; and 1 John 1:9.
  • Or see what hope can do for you with a quick game of Hopeful Foundation!

Hopeful Foundation

Directions

  1. Pair up so everyone has a partner. If possible, pair up people who are about the same height.
  2. Have partners face each another and place their right palms together—but no interlocking fingers.
  3. Tell everyone to balance on one foot and then, at your signal, push palms to see which partner loses balance and must place both feet on the ground first.
  4. Play again, switching palms and this time letting partners stand on both feet.
  5. Got a few extra minutes? Change partners and play again!

After the game, talk about this:

  • What was your strategy for tipping over your partner? In what ways did having a solid foundation help or hurt your chances of keeping your balance?
  • How does trusting God and hoping in Him help you keep balanced in your life?
  • What place in your life could you trust God and hope in Him more?

These questions will help you connect the Bible story to your own lives. Use all the questions or pick 1 or 2—it’s up to you!

  • What’s something you hope happens in the next week? How hopeful are you that it’ll happen?
  • Zechariah and Elizabeth hoped they’d have kids, but they finally gave up hoping. What’s something you’ve stopped hoping for?
  • Zechariah doubted the message that God sent Gabriel to share. What got in the way of Zechariah’s hope for a child?
  • When it comes to trusting and placing your hope in God, what gets in your way?
  • Given what you’ve learned about hope in this lesson, how might you treat yourself, God, or others differently?
  • What’s the difference between hoping and wishing?

These questions will help you connect the Bible story to your own lives. Use all the questions or pick 1 or 2—it’s up to you!

  • What’s something you hope happens in the next week? How hopeful are you that it’ll happen?
  • Zechariah and Elizabeth hoped they’d have kids, but they finally gave up hoping. What’s something you’ve stopped hoping for?
  • Zechariah doubted the message that God sent Gabriel to share. What got in the way of Zechariah’s hope for a child?
  • When it comes to trusting and placing your hope in God, what gets in your way?
  • Given what you’ve learned about hope in this lesson, how might you treat yourself, God, or others differently?
  • What’s the difference between hoping and wishing?

When we share what God’s doing in and through us, it can encourage others to have hope! Here are some ideas for how to do that:

  • Head out the door and tell the first person you see that there’s hope in Jesus. Nobody in sight? Write something about hope on a piece of paper and carefully tape it to the outside of the door so anyone passing by will see the message!
  • Pair up and take turns explaining what the word “hope” means … and why it matters. Ask for volunteers to share with the whole group what they decided in their pair.
  • Share a picture, video, or story about hope on social media. Use the hashtag #GodInAction so we can see what you share too!

GROW IT LEADER RESOURCES

Watch this worship video and sing along with [Integrity Artist Here] as you praise God together!

“Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.” —Hebrews 10:23

When you hear the word “hope,” it’s often not a good thing.

“We hope the surgery goes well” isn’t what you want your doctor to say. “We hope we have enough fuel” is never a welcome announcement from the cockpit.

But when the Bible uses the word “hope,” it’s altogether different. That hope is a trusting confidence, a certainty that something will happen—because God has promised it will happen.

Today we’re exploring Luke, chapter 1, where God promised Zechariah and Elizabeth a son—even though they were well past the age where that was physically possible.

But God always keeps His promises, and a son was born. That son, John the Baptist, was the prophet God promised to point to the arrival of the Messiah.

One happy birth—and two of God’s promises kept!

God has always kept His promises in the past, and He can be trusted to keep them in the future. So whatever God has promised you—His love, His forgiveness, a place with Him in Heaven—you can rely on with rock-solid certainty.

People in the Bible who trusted God discovered that truth again and again. And people today who trust God are discovering it too.

GOD IS HOPE

Waiting. Hoping. If you’ve had to wait for something to happen, you know that waiting can be tough!

Read Isaiah 40:3-5 and Malachi 3:1. God told His people through His prophets about the coming of a messenger, a voice crying in the wilderness to prepare the way of the Lord.

In ancient times, when the ruler of one nation went to visit another nation, a government official traveled ahead of the king to prepare the way. Sometimes roads needed to be made passable, as referred to in Isaiah 40 when the prophet described a road in the desert being made straight and level. The people of Israel had been waiting hundreds of years for God’s promised messenger to arrive and ready the way of the Lord by pointing Him out and preparing their hearts to receive Him.

Read Luke 1:5-25, 57-80 and John 1:19-23. An angel of the Lord surprised Zechariah with exciting news about the role his son would play in God’s kingdom. Zechariah’s son would fulfill God’s promise to send a messenger—the messenger everyone had waited and hoped for—to prepare the way for the Messiah! John himself confirmed that he was the one sent to fulfill God’s promise.

But even though it was an angel speaking, Zechariah didn’t trust the news. Zechariah doubted God—and God’s response was to remove Zechariah’s ability to speak until the promised son was born.

After losing his speech, Zechariah still had to finish his priestly duties. When he finally got home, unable to speak, perhaps Zechariah used gestures or writing to communicate to his wife, Elizabeth, what had happened. And what would happen—that after many childless years and even though they were too old to have children, they’d at last conceive the son they’d long wanted.

Fold-Over First-Responder Cards

In your community there are people who risk their heath and lives to care for others. They sometimes wonder if anyone appreciates what they do. They hope someone cares … and today you can show them their hope is well-founded!

Before you make any cards, call a local fire station, hospital emergency room, or police station to find out how you can drop off some encouraging cards. And be sure—before anyone seals a card—that the messages are all appropriate.

Materials

  • 8 ½” x 11” paper (thick stock works best, but printer paper works fine too)
  • Markers
  • Colored pencils
  • Variety of stickers (but no confetti!)
  • Cellophane tape

Directions

  1. Fold a piece of paper in thirds, as if you were inserting it into a standard business envelope. The top outside flap of the folded paper will be the front of the card, and the inside area that’s revealed when the flap is lifted is where words and art go.
  2. Explain who the fold-over cards are for and that the goal is to help those people feel appreciated and encouraged. Sign the cards with first names only, which makes the cards personal but keeps children safe.
  3. Drawings … stickers … affirming words—they all work for the cards’ messages. Go crazy!
  4. As cards are completed, quietly check them, and then apply a small piece of tape to hold each card closed.
  5. When you take the cards to first responders, ask if you can take a selfie with one of the recipients so you can share it!

As you’re creating cards, talk about this:

  • Tell about a time you did something helpful and hoped it was appreciated. What was it—and did you feel appreciated?

God’s people had certain hope that God would send a deliverer. First responders hope people appreciate their hard work—but they aren’t so certain. Besides making cards, what can people do to show first responders their hope is well-founded?

PLAY IT

Struck Silent

This charades game can help everyone better understand the hope Zechariah had in God’s promise after Zechariah was “struck silent.” Zechariah couldn’t talk because he didn’t trust what the angel Gabriel told him. For the next few months, Zechariah had to communicate through writing or using gestures.

Play this game to see how well you can communicate without using your voices.

Supplies

  • Clock or device with countdown function
  • Slips of paper
  • Opaque bag (paper, plastic, or recycle bag—your choice!)
  • Paper and pencil (or whiteboard and dry-erase marker)

Before playing, write charade ideas on slips of paper (or print and cut apart the ideas below) and place slips in the bag. Use the following suggestions or, even better, create your own! And a hint: If you have younger players, be sure they get the simpler options.

Directions
Create 2 teams and explain these rules:

  • One player from a team will take a slip of paper from the bag. That player will then use only gestures to help his or her teammates guess what’s on the slip of paper. The team will have 60 seconds to shout out guesses.
  • If the first team doesn’t guess correctly, the second team will have 10 seconds to make guesses.
  • Whichever team guesses correctly scores a point. If no team guesses correctly, you get a point. Yup—you’re the third team in this competition!
  • Have teams take turns drawing slips and keep track of each person’s score.
  • Keep things moving quickly—it’s more fun that way!

Charades Ideas

  • Swimming
  • Flying
  • Being a chicken
  • Being a snake
  • Jumping rope
  • Playing hopscotch
  • Jumping on a pogo stick
  • Peeling an onion
  • Watching fireworks
  • Petting an elephant
  • Ice skating for the first time
  • Rescuing a cat from a tree
  • Watching a scary movie
  • Catching a fly with your tongue
  • Kissing a frog
  • Dancing a tango

When the game is finished, announce a winner and talk about these questions:

  • How did it feel to have something to share—but be unable to say it?
  • When you were acting, your only hope of scoring a point was to trust your teammates. In what ways did Zechariah need to place his hope and trust in God?

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