Spiritual Alternative to Halloween. / Teen Bible Lesson.
This time of year, ghosts and goblins appear everywhere. I have selected 13 real-life stories from the Bible for those of you who want an alternative to the scary fiction floating around. Or if you want to use this time of year as an opportunity to focus attention on Christ.
I have also included discussion starter questions for each episode. All Scripture references are from the Easy-To-Read Version of the Bible. There is no expiration date for the multiple-choice (poll) questions. And of course, if you wish to share your thoughts or comments on this blog, you are more than welcomed to do so.
Get ready to hoot and howl! Part 1.
After Samuel died, all the Israelites mourned for him and buried him in Ramah, his hometown.
Saul had removed the mediums and fortunetellers from Israel.
The Philistines prepared for war. They came to Shunem and made their camp at that place. Saul gathered all the Israelites together and made his camp at Gilboa. Saul saw the Philistine army, and he was afraid. His heart pounded with fear. He prayed to the Lord, but the Lord did not answer him. God did not talk to Saul in dreams. God did not use the Urim to give him an answer, and God did not use prophets to speak to Saul. Finally, Saul said to his officers, “Find me a woman who is a medium. Then I can go ask her what will happen.”
His officers answered, “There is a medium at Endor.”
That night, Saul put on different clothes so that no one would know who he was. Then Saul and two of his men went to see the woman. Saul said to her, “I want you to bring up a ghost who can tell me what will happen in the future. You must call for the ghost of the person I name.”
But the woman said to him, “You know that Saul forced all the mediums and fortunetellers to leave the land of Israel. You are trying to trap me and kill me.”
Saul used the Lord’s name to make a promise to the woman. He said, “As surely as the Lord lives, you won’t be punished for doing this.”
The woman asked, “Who do you want me to bring up for you?”
Saul answered, “Bring up Samuel.”
And it happened—the woman saw Samuel and screamed. She said to Saul, “You tricked me! You are Saul.”
The king said to the woman, “Don’t be afraid! What do you see?”
The woman said, “I see a spirit coming up out of the ground.”
Saul asked, “What does he look like?”
The woman answered, “He looks like an old man wearing a special robe.”
Then Saul knew it was Samuel, and he bowed down. His face touched the ground.Samuel said to Saul, “Why did you bother me? Why did you bring me up?”
Saul answered, “I am in trouble! The Philistines have come to fight me, and God has left me. God won’t answer me anymore. He won’t use prophets or dreams to answer me, so I called you. I want you to tell me what to do.”
Samuel said, “The Lord left you and is now your enemy, so why are you asking me for advice? The Lord used me to tell you what he would do, and now he is doing what he said he would do. He is tearing the kingdom out of your hands and giving it to your neighbor, David. The Lord was angry with the Amalekites and told you to destroy them. But you did not obey him. That’s why the Lord is doing this to you today. The Lord will let the Philistines defeat you and the army of Israel today. Tomorrow, you and your sons will be here with me.”
Saul quickly fell to the ground and lay stretched out there. Saul was afraid because of what Samuel said. Saul was also very weak because he had not eaten any food all that day and night.
The woman came over to Saul and saw how afraid he was. She said, “Look, I am your servant. I have obeyed you. I risked my life and did what you told me to do. Please, listen to me. You need to eat. Let me get you some food. Then you will have enough strength to go on your way.”
But Saul refused. He said, “I won’t eat.”
Saul’s officers joined the woman and begged him to eat. Finally, Saul listened to them. He got up from the ground and sat on the bed. The woman had a calf that she had been fattening. She quickly killed the calf. She took some flour and pressed it with her hands. Then she baked some bread without yeast. The woman put the food before Saul and his officers and they ate. Then they got up and left during the night.
God used Paul to do some very special miracles. Some people carried away handkerchiefs and clothes that Paul had used and put them on those who were sick. The sick people were healed, and evil spirits left them.
Some Jews also were traveling around forcing evil spirits out of people. The seven sons of Sceva, one of the leading priests, were doing this. These Jews tried to use the name of the Lord Jesus to make the evil spirits go out of people. They all said, “By the same Jesus that Paul talks about, I order you to come out!”
But one time an evil spirit said to these Jews, “I know Jesus, and I know about Paul, but who are you?”
Then the man who had the evil spirit inside him jumped on these Jews. He was much stronger than all of them. He beat them up and tore their clothes off. They all ran away from that house.
All the people in Ephesus, Jews and Greeks, learned about this. They were all filled with fear and gave great honor to the Lord Jesus. Many of the believers began to confess, telling about all the evil things they had done. Some of them had used magic. These believers brought their magic books and burned them before everyone. These books were worth about 50,000 silver coins.This is how the word of the Lord was spreading in a powerful way, causing more and more people to believe.
What experiences have you had with religious counterfeits (relics, forgeries, hoaxes, cults, etc.)? Any that have really scared you?
If you were one of Sceva’s sons, what would you say about Jesus after being jumped by this evil spirit?
How do people try to use Jesus for their own purposes today? What is the difference between that and real faith in Christ?
When Jesus went back to Galilee, the people welcomed him. Everyone was waiting for him. A man named Jairus came to him. He was a leader of the synagogue. He had only one daughter. She was twelve years old, and she was dying. So Jairus bowed down at the feet of Jesus and begged him to come to his house.
While Jesus was going to Jairus’ house, the people crowded all around him. . . While Jesus was still speaking, someone came from the house of the synagogue leader and said, “Your daughter has died! Don’t bother the Teacher anymore.”
Jesus heard this and said to Jairus, “Don’t be afraid! Just believe and your daughter will be well.”
Jesus went to the house. He let only Peter, John, James, and the girl’s father and mother go inside with him. Everyone was crying and feeling sad because the girl was dead. But Jesus said, “Don’t cry. She is not dead. She is only sleeping.”
The people laughed at him, because they knew that the girl was dead. But Jesus held her hand and called to her, “Little girl, stand up!” Her spirit came back into her, and she stood up immediately.
Jesus said, “Give her something to eat.” The girl’s parents were amazed. He told them not to tell anyone about what happened.
What is the relationship between desperation and faith? What does this story encourage you to do as you face desperate situations?
When was the last time you “fell at Jesus’ feet” and begged for help?
Have you ever been too frightened to come to God with a problem? Why?
King Herod heard about Jesus, because Jesus was now famous. Some people said, “He is John the Baptizer. He must have risen from death, and that is why he can do these miracles.”
Other people said, “He is Elijah.”
And others said, “He is a prophet. He is like the prophets who lived long ago.”
Herod heard these things about Jesus. He said, “I killed John by cutting off his head. Now he has been raised from death!”
Herod himself had ordered his soldiers to arrest John and put him in prison. Herod did this to please his wife Herodias. She had been married to Herod’s brother Philip, but then Herod married her. John told Herod, “It is not right for you to be married to your brother’s wife.”
So Herodias hated John. She wanted him dead, but she was not able to persuade Herod to kill him. Herod was afraid to kill John, because he knew that he was a good and holy man. So he protected him. He liked listening to John, although what John said left him with so many questions.
Then the right time came for Herodias to cause John’s death. It happened on Herod’s birthday. Herod gave a dinner party for the most important government leaders, the commanders of his army, and the most important people in Galilee. The daughter of Herodias came to the party and danced. When she danced, Herod and the people eating with him were very pleased.
So King Herod said to the girl, “I will give you anything you want.” He promised her, “Anything you ask for I will give to you—even half of my kingdom.”
The girl went to her mother and asked, “What should I ask King Herod to give me?”
Her mother answered, “Ask for the head of John the Baptizer.”
So right then the girl went back in to the king. She said to him, “Please give me the head of John the Baptizer. Bring it to me now on a plate.”
King Herod was very sad, but he didn’t want to break the promise he had made to her in front of his guests. So he sent a soldier to cut off John’s head and bring it to him. The soldier went and cut off John’s head in the prison. He brought the head back on a plate and gave it to the girl, and the girl gave it to her mother. John’s followers heard about what happened, so they came and got John’s body and put it in a tomb.