Scary Ghosts. Evil Demons. The Living Dead. (Part 5 of 5)

Bible Lesson / Teen Bible Lesson.

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 5.

Six days later, Jesus took Peter, James, and John the brother of James and went up on a high mountain. They were all alone there. While these followers watched him, Jesus was changed. His face became bright like the sun, and his clothes became white as light. Then two men were there, talking with him. They were Moses and Elijah.

Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good that we are here. If you want, I will put three tents here—one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.”

While Peter was talking, a bright cloud came over them. A voice came from the cloud and said, “This is my Son, the one I love. I am very pleased with him. Obey him!”

The followers with Jesus heard this voice. They were very afraid, so they fell to the ground. But Jesus came to them and touched them. He said, “Stand up. Don’t be afraid.” The followers looked up, and they saw that Jesus was now alone.

As Jesus and the followers were coming down the mountain, he gave them this command: “Don’t tell anyone about what you saw on the mountain. Wait until the Son of Man has been raised from death. Then you can tell people about what you saw.”

The followers asked Jesus, “Why do the teachers of the law say that Elijah must come before the Messiah comes?”

Jesus answered, “They are right to say Elijah is coming. And it is true that Elijah will make all things the way they should be. But I tell you, Elijah has already come. People did not know who he was, and they treated him badly, doing whatever they wanted to do. It is the same with the Son of Man. Those same people will make the Son of Man suffer.” Then the followers understood that when Jesus said Elijah, he was really talking about John the Baptizer.

Then Jesus, Peter, James, and John went to the other followers. They saw many people around them. The teachers of the law were arguing with the followers. When the people saw Jesus, they were very surprised and ran to welcome him.

Jesus asked, “What are you arguing about with the teachers of the law?”

A man answered, “Teacher, I brought my son to you. He is controlled by an evil spirit that keeps him from talking. The spirit attacks him and throws him on the ground. He foams at the mouth, grinds his teeth, and becomes very stiff. I asked your followers to force the evil spirit out, but they could not.”

Jesus answered, “You people today don’t believe! How long must I stay with you? How long must I be patient with you? Bring the boy to me!”

So the followers brought the boy to Jesus. When the evil spirit saw Jesus, it attacked the boy. The boy fell down and rolled on the ground. He was foaming at the mouth.

Jesus asked the boy’s father, “How long has this been happening to him?”

The father answered, “Since he was very young. The spirit often throws him into a fire or into water to kill him. If you can do anything, please have pity on us and help us.”

Jesus said to the father, “Why did you say ‘if you can’? All things are possible for the one who believes.”

Immediately the father shouted, “I do believe. Help me to believe more!”

Jesus saw that all the people were running there to see what was happening. So he spoke to the evil spirit. He said, “You evil spirit that makes this boy deaf and stops him from talking—I command you to come out of him and never enter him again!”

The evil spirit screamed. It caused the boy to fall on the ground again, and then it came out. The boy looked as if he was dead. Many people said, “He is dead!” But Jesus took hold of his hand and helped him stand up.

Then Jesus went into the house. His followers were alone with him there. They said, “Why weren’t we able to force that evil spirit out?”

Jesus answered, “That kind of spirit can be forced out only with prayer.

Then Jesus and his followers left there and went through Galilee. Jesus did not want the people to know where they were. He wanted to teach his followers alone. He said to them, “The Son of Man will be handed over to the control of other men, who will kill him. After three days, he will rise from death.” But the followers did not understand what he meant, and they were afraid to ask him.

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Scary Ghosts. Evil Demons. The Living Dead. (Part 4 of 5)

Bible Lesson / Teen Bible Lesson.

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 4.

There was a man named Lazarus who was sick. He lived in the town of Bethany, where Mary and her sister Martha lived. (Mary is the same woman who put perfume on the Lord and wiped his feet with her hair.) Mary’s brother was Lazarus, the man who was now sick. So Mary and Martha sent someone to tell Jesus, “Lord, your dear friend Lazarus is sick.”

When Jesus heard this he said, “The end of this sickness will not be death. No, this sickness is for the glory of God. This has happened to bring glory to the Son of God.” Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was two more days and then said to his followers, “We should go back to Judea.”

They answered, “But Teacher, those Jews there tried to stone you to death. That was only a short time ago. Now you want to go back there?”

Jesus answered, “There are twelve hours of light in the day. Whoever walks in the day will not stumble and fall because they can see with the light from the sun. But whoever walks at night will stumble because there is no light.”

Then Jesus said, “Our friend Lazarus is now sleeping, but I am going there to wake him.”

The followers answered, “But, Lord, if he can sleep, he will get well.” They thought Jesus meant that Lazarus was literally sleeping, but he really meant that Lazarus was dead.

So then Jesus said plainly, “Lazarus is dead. And I am glad I was not there. I am happy for you because now you will believe in me. We will go to him now.”

Then Thomas, the one called “Twin,” said to the other followers, “We will go too. We will die there with Jesus.”

Jesus arrived in Bethany and found that Lazarus had already been dead and in the tomb for four days. Bethany was about two miles from Jerusalem. Many Jews had come to see Martha and Mary. They came to comfort them about their brother Lazarus.

When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went out to greet him. But Mary stayed home. Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But I know that even now God will give you anything you ask.”

Jesus said, “Your brother will rise and be alive again.”

Martha answered, “I know that he will rise to live again at the time of the resurrection on the last day.”

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection. I am life. Everyone who believes in me will have life, even if they die. And everyone who lives and believes in me will never really die. Martha, do you believe this?”

Martha answered, “Yes, Lord. I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God. You are the one who was coming to the world.”

After Martha said these things, she went back to her sister Mary. She talked to Mary alone and said, “The Teacher is here. He is asking for you.” When Mary heard this, she stood up and went quickly to Jesus. He had not yet come into the village. He was still at the place where Martha met him. The Jews who were in the house comforting Mary saw her get up and leave quickly. They thought she was going to the tomb to cry there. So they followed her. Mary went to the place where Jesus was. When she saw him, she bowed at his feet and said, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”

When Jesus saw Mary crying and the people with her crying too, he was very upset and deeply troubled. He asked, “Where did you put him?”

They said, “Lord, come and see.”

Jesus cried.

And the Jews said, “Look! He loved Lazarus very much!”

But some of them said, “Jesus healed the eyes of the blind man. Why didn’t he help Lazarus and stop him from dying?”

Again feeling very upset, Jesus came to the tomb. It was a cave with a large stone covering the entrance. He said, “Move the stone away.”

Martha said, “But, Lord, it has been four days since Lazarus died. There will be a bad smell.” Martha was the sister of the dead man.

Then Jesus said to her, “Remember what I told you? I said that if you believed, you would see God’s divine greatness.”

So they moved the stone away from the entrance. Then Jesus looked up and said, “Father, I thank you that you heard me.I know that you always hear me. But I said these things because of the people here around me. I want them to believe that you sent me.” After Jesus said this he called in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” The dead man came out. His hands and feet were wrapped with pieces of cloth. He had a handkerchief covering his face.

Jesus said to the people, “Take off the cloth and let him go.”

There were many Jews who came to visit Mary. When they saw what Jesus did, many of them believed in him. But some of them went to the Pharisees and told them what Jesus did. Then the leading priests and Pharisees called a meeting of the high council. They said, “What should we do? This man is doing many miraculous signs. If we let him continue doing these things, everyone will believe in him. Then the Romans will come and take away our Temple and our nation.”

One of the men there was Caiaphas. He was the high priest that year. He said, “You people know nothing! It is better for one man to die for the people than for the whole nation to be destroyed. But you don’t realize this.”

Caiaphas did not think of this himself. As that year’s high priest, he was really prophesying that Jesus would die for the Jewish people. Yes, he would die for the Jewish people. But he would also die for God’s other children scattered all over the world. He would die to bring them all together and make them one people.

That day the Jewish leaders began planning to kill Jesus. So Jesus stopped traveling around openly among the Jews. He went away to a town called Ephraim in an area near the desert. He stayed there with his followers.

Scary Ghosts. Evil Demons. The Living Dead. (Part 3 of 5)

Bible Lesson / Teen Bible Lesson.

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 3.

One day Elisha went to Shunem, where an important woman lived. She asked Elisha to stop and eat at her house. So every time Elisha went through that place, he stopped there to eat.

The woman said to her husband, “Look, I can see that Elisha is a holy man of God. He passes by our house all the time. Please, let’s make a little room on the roof for him. Let’s put a bed in this room and a table, a chair, and a lampstand. Then when he comes to our house, he can have this room for himself.”

One day Elisha came to the woman’s house. He went to this room and rested there. Elisha said to his servant Gehazi, “Call this Shunammite woman.”

The servant called the Shunammite woman, and she stood in front of Elisha. Elisha told his servant, “Now say to her, ‘Look, you have done your best to take care of us. What can we do for you? Do you want us to speak to the king for you, or to the captain of the army?’”

She answered, “I am fine living here among my own people.”

Elisha said to Gehazi, “What can we do for her?”

He answered, “I know! She does not have a son, and her husband is old.”

Then Elisha said, “Call her.”

So Gehazi called the woman. She came and stood at his door. Elisha said, “About this time next spring, you will be holding your own baby boy in your arms.”

The woman said, “No, sir! Man of God, don’t lie to me!”

But the woman did become pregnant and gave birth to a son that next spring, just as Elisha had said.

The boy grew. One day the boy went out into the fields to see his father and the men cutting the grain. The boy said to his father, “Oh, my head! My head hurts!”

The father said to his servant, “Carry him to his mother!”

The servant took the boy to his mother. The boy sat on his mother’s lap until noon. Then he died.

The woman laid the boy on the bed of Elisha, the man of God. Then she shut the door to that room and went outside. She called to her husband and said, “Please send me one of the servants and a donkey. Then I will go quickly to get the man of God and come back.”

The woman’s husband said, “Why would you want to go to the man of God today? It isn’t the New Moon or Sabbath day.”

She said, “Goodbye!”

Then she put a saddle on a donkey and said to her servant, “Let’s go, and hurry! Go slow only when I tell you.”

The woman went to Mount Carmel to get the man of God.

The man of God saw the Shunammite woman coming from far away and said to his servant Gehazi, “Look, there’s the Shunammite woman! Please run now to meet her! Say to her, ‘Are you all right? Is your husband all right? Is the child all right?’”

She answered, “Everything is all right.”

But the Shunammite woman went up the hill to the man of God. She bowed down and touched Elisha’s feet. Gehazi came near to pull her away. But the man of God said to Gehazi, “Leave her alone! She’s very upset, and the Lord didn’t tell me about it. He hid this news from me.”

Then she said, “Sir, I never asked for a son. I told you, ‘Don’t trick me!’”

Then Elisha said to Gehazi, “Get ready to go. Take my walking stick and go! If you meet anyone along the way, don’t even stop to say hello to him. If anyone says hello to you, don’t answer. Put my walking stick on the child’s face.”

But the child’s mother said, “I promise, as the Lord lives and as you live, I will not leave without you!”

So Elisha got up and followed her.

Gehazi arrived at the house before Elisha and the Shunammite woman. Gehazi laid the walking stick on the child’s face, but the child did not talk or show any sign that he heard anything. Then Gehazi came back to meet Elisha and said, “The child will not wake up!”

Elisha went into the house, and there was the child, lying dead on his bed. Elisha went into the room and shut the door. He and the child were alone in the room now. Then he prayed to the Lord. Elisha went to the bed and lay on the child. He put his eyes on the child’s eyes, his mouth on the child’s mouth, and his hands on the child’s hands. He lay there on top of the child until the child’s body became warm.

Then Elisha turned away and walked around the room. He went back and lay on the child until the child sneezed seven times and opened his eyes.

Elisha called Gehazi and said, “Call the Shunammite woman!”

Gehazi called her, and she came to Elisha. Elisha said, “Pick up your son.”

Then the Shunammite woman went into the room and bowed down at Elisha’s feet. Then she picked up her son and went out.

Jesus and his followers went across the lake to the area where the Gerasene people lived. When Jesus got out of the boat, a man came to him from the caves where the dead are buried. This man had an evil spirit living inside him. He lived in the burial caves. No one could keep him tied up, even with chains. Many times people had put chains on his hands and feet, but he broke the chains. No one was strong enough to control him. Day and night he stayed around the burial caves and on the hills. He would scream and cut himself with rocks.

While Jesus was still far away, the man saw him. He ran to Jesus and bowed down before him. As Jesus was saying, “You evil spirit, come out of this man,” the man shouted loudly, “What do you want with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg you in God’s name not to punish me!”

Then Jesus asked the man, “What is your name?”

The man answered, “My name is Legion, because there are many spirits inside me.” The spirits inside the man begged Jesus again and again not to send them out of that area.

A large herd of pigs was eating on a hill near there. The evil spirits begged Jesus, “Send us to the pigs. Let us go into them.” So Jesus allowed them to do this. The evil spirits left the man and went into the pigs. Then the herd of pigs ran down the hill and into the lake. They were all drowned. There were about 2000 pigs in that herd.

The men who had the work of caring for the pigs ran away. They ran to the town and to the farms and told everyone what happened. The people went out to see. They came to Jesus, and they saw the man who had the many evil spirits. He was sitting down and was wearing clothes. He was in his right mind again. When they saw this, they were afraid. Those who had seen what Jesus did told the others what happened to the man who had the demons living in him. And they also told about the pigs. Then the people began to beg Jesus to leave their area.

Jesus was preparing to leave in the boat. The man who was now free from the demons begged to go with him. But Jesus did not allow the man to go. He said, “Go home to your family and friends. Tell them about all that the Lord did for you. Tell them how the Lord was good to you.”

So the man left and told the people in the Ten Towns about the great things Jesus did for him. Everyone was amazed.