This object lesson shows how God can protect us during times of suffering and temptation. It uses some science and some surprising ways to keep balloons from popping even when pierced or put over a flame.
- Balloons (3 per child and 5 for facilitator (includes a few extras just in case))
- Wooden skewers (2 per child and 2 for facilitator)
- Vegetable oil (just a little to dip the skewers in)
- Duct tape (1 roll)
- Candle with a stand (1 set)
- Matches or a lighter
- Medicine dropper (1 – for putting water into a balloon before you blow it up)
- Water (1 cup per group)
- Get your materials ready.
- Practice the script.
Use the following script (or modify to suit your needs):
- “Did you know that bad stuff happens to everyone – even Christians?” (Listen for responses.)
- “If you don’t follow Jesus, you’ll be like this balloon when bad stuff happens.” (Blow up and tie a balloon.)
- “This wooden skewer represents bad stuff that happens to them.” (Use the skewer to pop the balloon.)
- “That’s not good! I don’t want to be like that balloon, do you?” (Listen for responses.)
- “But Christians don’t have to worry, because God protects them when bad stuff happens.” (Have a volunteer read Psalm 32:7. Then, blow up and tie another balloon, this time about halfway to two-thirds full.)
- “Even Christians are still like this balloon, but they have something special.” (Put a piece of duct tape over the balloon on two different sides.)
- “They have God’s covering to protect them when bad stuff happens.” (Slowly twist the skewer through the tape, through the balloon and through the other side. Then show it to the kids.)
- “Pretty cool, huh? The bad thing still happened to the balloon, but this time, it didn’t pop, because it had God’s covering.”
- “God know where our weak areas are, and He will protect us in those places.”
- “God protects us in another way, too.” (Blow up and tie another balloon about halfway to two-thirds full. Take one of the skewers, and dip it into the vegetable oil. Carefully twist the skewer into the nipple of the balloon (the thickest part at the very top) and then though the other side close to where you tied the knot.)
- “Oil in the Bible often represents the anointing of the Lord. God anoints us when He has something special and difficult for us to do, and the anointing protects us from Satan’s attacks.”
- “I know one more way God protects us!” (Light the candle. Use the medicine dropper to put one dropper-full of water into a balloon. Blow up the balloon and tie it with the water inside. Hold the balloon over the flame of the candle. You can even allow the flame to touch the balloon where the water settles.)
- “If we will fill ourselves with Living Water by reading God’s Word every day, He will protect us from popping when Satan turns up the heat in our lives.” (Pass out balloons and other materials to the kids, and let them try the three experiments. Help them if they need it to tie balloons, pierce balloons with skewers and hold balloons over the flame. When they’ve all had a chance to try, discuss the Debrief Questions below. You can use the Rhyme Time to reinforce the main point of the lesson.)
- Why didn’t the balloons pop when the skewers went through them?
- How about when you put the balloon over the flame?
- How is this like how God protects us during times of suffering?
- If you have to go through a time of suffering in the future, how will you handle it?
We have God’s covering
To protect us when we’re suffering.
This Challenge teaches that the safest place for us is in the center of God’s will. Groups will create a board (representing God’s will) with handles and then attempt to spin it upside down with a cup of water on it. If they do it correctly, centrifugal force will keep the water in the cup. The metaphor is that when everything is “spinning” around us, the center of God’s will is the best place to keep us from being “upset.”
- Genesis 37-50
- Isaiah 26:3
- Future board – 1 square per group – about 18”x18” (You can substitute other materials, such as plywood or heavy cardboard.)
- Note card – 1 per group
- Marker – (just 1 for the Preparation stage)
- Tape – (just 1 roll for the Preparation stage)
- Something sharp that can be used to put a small hole in the four corners of the board (just 1 for the Preparation stage)
- Plastic cups – 2 per group (They only need one, but it’s possible that it might break.)
- Twine – 4 lengths of about 2.5 ft per group (These will provide handles for the board so that it can be spun.)
- Gallon jug of water – 1 per group
- Challenge Card (The file for printing is called, “JJ – Center of God’s Will – Challenge Card (CHALLENGE),” and it can be found on the Lesson and Material Downloads page at www.teachingthem.com. This can be printed in black and white on regular paper. There are two Challenge Cards per page.)
- Ziplock bags – gallon size – 1 per group
- Write, “GOD’S WILL” on the note card, and tape it to the center of the board.
- Put a small hole in each corner of the boards so that the groups can thread twine through it and tie a knot on the bottom side. (These will provide handles for spinning the boards.)
- Put all the materials in a Ziplock bag. – 1 per group (This should include two plastic cups and four lengths of twine.)
- Print out the Challenge Card document.
- Cut the Challenge Card document in half (each half is identical), and put one in each Ziplock bag (one per group).
- Tape the future board to the Ziplock bag, and put the water where groups can reach it.
- Practice the script.
Use the following script (or modify to suit your needs):
- “We’re going to do a group Challenge today.”
- “It’s called, “Center of God’s Will” and it’s part of the Joseph’s Journey Series.”
- “First, I’ll need to divide you into groups.” (Divide the participants into the number of groups for which you have prepared kits.)
- “Each group will have a Ziplock bag with a Challenge Card, some cups, some string, a board and some water.”
- “When I tell you to go, open your Ziplock bags, and read the Challenge Card.” (Allow them to read the Challenge Card.)
- “This challenge is about staying in the center of God’s will.”
- “You will have to create your ‘God’s Will’ board.”
- “Here are the instructions – you can build as I share them with you.”
- “Tie a knot at one end of each piece of twine.”
- “Thread one piece of twine through each of the four holes in the future board.”
- “Pull the twine through until the knot stops the rope from continuing through the hole.”
- “Tie the unknotted ends of the twine together in one, big knot above the board (on the God’s Will side). (Make sure that each rope is the same length from the knot to the board. Otherwise, your board will not hang flat.)”
- “Fill the cup ¾ full of water.”
- “The water represents you.”
- “Your challenge is to place the cup of water on the board, hold the top of all four strings where you tied them together, and spin the board with the water in a circle so that the water goes upside down several times before you stop spinning.”
- “This represents the challenging times in our lives when everything seems to be spinning around us.”
- “It’s difficult to keep from getting ‘upset,’ but if we stay in the center of God’s will, it’s a lot easier than if we are outside of His will.” (Let several participants try to spin the board and the water. Whenever they spill the water, refill the cup, and let them try again. Give them some help if they need it. Speed is important to take advantage of the centrifugal force.)
- “Isaiah 26:3 says, ‘(God) will keep in perfect peace all who trust in (Him), all whose thoughts are fixed on (Him)!’” (NLT)
- “That means that if we keep our trust in God and keep thinking about Him, we will have peace in difficult times.”
- (When you are finished, have them answer the Debrief Questions below (also on their Challenge Cards). The Rhyme Time is to help them recognize that when they trust and obey God, they stay in the center of His will. Then, He makes bad things work for their good.)
- What usually happens if the water cup is near the edge of the board when you spin it?
- What usually happens if it is near the center of the board?
- What do you think it means to be in the “center of God’s will” in your life?
- How can you do this more often?
If we trust Him and obey, God makes bad things go OUR way!