Tag Archives: Romans 8:28

Trust God When Things Look Bad (CHALLENGE)


Time

10-15 minutes
Description

This Challenge is a fun visual that reminds kids to trust God even when circumstances are looking bad. There is a little bit of “magic” and a little bit of science in this lesson that gives it some “Wow!” factor. Participants will create a water-suspension trick using some simple supplies.

 

Scriptures

  • Genesis 37 to 45
  • Romans 8:28

 

Materials

  • Canning jar (“Mason jar”) with a screw-top lid and a removable insert – 1 per person with one extra for the group leader
  • Small piece of screening (like what covers your windows – enough to cover the top of the canning jar) – 1 per person with one extra for the group leader
  • Gallon jug of water – 1 for group
  • Piece of poster board – 3” x 3” – 1 per person
  • If you don’t want to make your own jars, you can order them for approximately $10 each from Steve Spangler Science (www.stevespanglerscience.com).  It’s called the “Mysterious Water Suspension Trick.”
  • Challenge Card (The file for printing is called, “JJ – Trust God When Things Look Bad – 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

 

Preparation

  • Cut the piece of screening so that it fits over the opening of the jar.  You want some overlap so that the lid will hold the screening securely to the jar.
  • Screw on the band part of the lid, but leave the removable insert out. (Only for the leader’s jar.  The participants will do their own.)
  • You might want to laminate your poster board square but only if you plan on using it multiple times.
  • Practice the trick.  Flipping the jar upside down is the most challenging part.
  • 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).
  • Put the small pieces of screening and the pieces of poster board in each Ziplock bag.
  • Practice the script.

 

Procedure

Use the following script (or modify to suit your needs):

  • “We’re going to do a group Challenge today.”
  • “It’s called, “Trust God When Things Look Bad” 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.”
  • “When I tell you to go, open your Ziplock bags, and read the Challenge Card.” (Allow them to read the Challenge Card.)
  • “So, who’s thinks they have a strong faith in God?”  (Listen for responses, and select the most enthusiastic participant to come up to the front.)
  • (To the participant…)  “You think you have a strong faith in God, right?” (While you are asking, pour water from the pitcher into your demonstration jar.  Don’t let them see the screening over the top.)
  • “Do you feel like you even trust God when things look bad in your life?”  (While you are asking, place the poster board square on top of the jar.)
  • “Could you trust God like Joseph did even after he was sold into slavery and then thrown into prison?”  (While you are asking, flip the jar and the poster board square upside down, and hold them over the child’s head.  Keep your hand under the poster board square so that it looks like you are supporting it.  In reality, the water droplets inside the screening and the air pressure pushing up on the poster board will hold the card in place.)
  • “I would say things are looking pretty bad for you right now.  Are you still trusting God?”  (Listen for response.)
  • “Would you trust God to keep you from getting wet if I were to pull this card away?” (Listen for response, then, with as much drama as you can muster, pull the card away.  The water will stay in the jar.  The water droplets develop surface tension inside the tiny holes in the screen.  This and the fact that if you hold the jar perfectly level, no air can get in to replace the water that leaves, will hold the water in.)
  • “Wow!  I’m impressed that you are still here!  You really do trust God when things look bad!”  (Tilt jar just a little, and some water will pour out until you level out the jar again.  Participants usually get a big kick out of their peer getting wet.)
  • “Oops.  There’s a lesson in this.”
  • “Trusting God doesn’t mean that bad things won’t ever happen.  Trusting God when things look bad means that you trust Him to get you through the bad times.”  (You can thank your volunteer and send him/her back to his/her seat.)
  • “Sometimes, things look really bad, like when I held the jar of water over his/her head.”
  • “Remember during those times to trust God.”
  • “He has the ability to do the impossible in your life (like stopping gravity), but even when He doesn’t stop the bad stuff, He can turn the bad stuff into good.”
  • “The Bible says that God will make EVERYTHING work for you if you know Him as your heavenly father.  That means good stuff and bad stuff will turn out good for you!” (Romans 8:28)
  • (After your lesson, tell the participants how the trick works.  Then, let them make their own water suspension jars and try them out.  The jars can be made by putting the screening over the glass opening of the jar and then screwing the lid (without the insert) over the screening.)
  • (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 God can help them forgive.)

 

 

Debriefing Questions

 

  1. Why do you think Joseph was able to trust God when things looked bad?
  2. Have you ever trusted God during a really difficult time in your life?  What happened?
  3. How could you trust God more during difficult times in the future?

 

Rhyme Time

God has a purpose, a plan and a dream;

My present struggles are more than they seem!

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Fortunately-Unfortunately (CHALLENGE)


Time

10-15 minutes
Description

This Challenge teaches what happens to us is not as important as how we respond to what happens to us.  If we trust God with even our “unfortunate” events and circumstances, He can use everything for our good.  Participants will tell a story and take turns making the events of the story either “fortunate” or “unfortunate.”

Scriptures

  • Genesis 37-50
  • Proverbs 3:11
  • Romans 8:28

Materials

  • Challenge Card (The file for printing is called, “JJ – Fortunately-Unfortunately – 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 – any size – 1 per group

 

Preparation

  • 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).
  • Practice the script.

 

Procedure

Use the following script (or modify to suit your needs):

  • “We’re going to do a group Challenge today.”
  • “It’s called, “Fortunately-Unfortunately” 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.”
  • “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 how God can make good things come out of bad situations.”
  • “We’re going to play a short game called, “Fortunately – Unfortunately.”
  • “First, we have to select the person who will start the game.  I want everyone to hold up one finger.”  (Make sure everyone holds up a finger.  Then have them do the following.)
  • “Now point that finger straight up in the air as high as you can make it go.”
  • “I’m going to count to three.  When I say, ‘three,’ I want everyone in the group to point at the person you think should start the game.”
  • “Ready?  Okay, One….Two….Three!”  (If any groups end up with a tie for the number of fingers pointed at different people, have them do it again until the tie is broken.)
  • “Alright, this person is going to start you off by telling the first part of a story.”
  • “They will tell you about 15-20 words about any topic they want, but the story has to start with, ‘Once upon a time…’”
  • “For example, ‘Once upon a time, there was a man who liked to eat pickled porcupines…’”
  • “Then, that person will stop right there, and the person on their right will pick up the story where they left off.”
  • “But before they tell anymore of the story, they have to say, ‘Unfortunately…’ and then share something unfortunate about the situation or person.”
  • “They will tell about 15 words of why things are so unfortunate, and then they will stop.”
  • “The next person will pick up the story where they left off, but he/she will start by saying, ‘Fortunately…’  Then they will tell us what is so fortunate about the situation.”
  • “This keeps going with each person alternating their stories to be ‘fortunate’ or ‘unfortunate.’”
  • “You will keep going around your group until I say to stop, so you will probably have several tries at making up ‘fortunate’ and ‘unfortunate’ parts of the story.”
  • “The only other rule is that you can’t kill anyone in the stories.”
  • “Does anyone have any questions before we get started?”
  • “Alright, those of you who were picked to start, begin your stories!”  (Allow three to five minutes for storytelling, then ask them to finish the part they are on and turn their attention back to you.)
  • “The point of this game is that there are always two ways of looking at the things that happen in our lives.  You can view almost anything as either fortunate or unfortunate.”
  • “If you search for it, even something very bad can have a fortunate side, particularly if you are willing to trust God with it.”
  • “Romans 8:28 says, ‘And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.”
  • “The Scripture says that God will works in ‘some’ things for our good, right?”  (The kids should answer, ‘NO!’)
  • “Oh, it says, God works in just the fortunate things, right?” (The kids should answer, ‘NO!’)
  • “In just the things where we make good decisions?”  (‘NO!’) 
  • “What does it say?  …God works in ALL things for the good of those who love Him.”
  • “Sometimes when ‘unfortunate’ stuff happens to us, it’s God’s discipline in our lives, because the Bible says in Proverbs 3:11:  ‘My son, do not despise the Lord’s discipline and do not resent His rebuke, because the Lord disciplines those He loves, as a father the son he delights in.’”
  • “But that means that even when God is disciplining you for your sin, He is doing it for your good!”
  • “And it’s even better if you admit that you sinned and ask for forgiveness.  Then God can really use it for your good!”
  • “He uses EVERYTHING that happens in your life to be a blessing to you!”
  • “So, even when something happens that looks bad, it’s a great idea to praise God for it.  That shows that you trust Him to use it for your good.”
  • “It’s less important what happens to you than how you respond to what happens to you.”
  • (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 God can use everything to bless them and prepare them for His good work.)

 

Debriefing Questions

  1. Do you think the things that happened in Joseph’s life were fortunate or unfortunate?  Why?
  2. Are there things in your life that looked unfortunate at first but turned out to be fortunate?
  3. How could you look at bad things in your life in a positive way?

 

Rhyme Time

God has a purpose, a plan and a dream; My present struggles are not what they seem!

 

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Good Seed – Bad Seed (OBJ LESSON)


Time

10-15 minutes
Audience

Children, Teens, Adults

Description

This object lesson teaches about wounds that we get when people or circumstances hurt us.  These take up a place in our hearts, because our hearts are where we keep things that are very important to us (both good and bad).  Wounds are very fertile places in our hearts, so both God and Satan will try to plant seeds there.  God’s seeds will turn our wounds into something beautiful, but Satan’s seeds will turn them into something painful, shameful, bitter and/or destructive.  (Note: You will need a break in the lesson and/or a helper to plant the flowers and the weeds in the soil.)

Scriptures

  •   Romans 8:28

 

Materials

  • 1 large, heart-shaped pan or container (open at the top and about 3-5 inches deep – will be used as a planter for flowers and weeds and filled with soil.)
  • 2 large, over-sized “packages” of seeds (They should be really big – preferably 2 ft tall for an exaggerated effect.  They could created out of flipchart paper or something else (like a large mailing envelope.)
  • 1 watering can (to water the flowers)
  • Thick marker
  • Sheet of paper
  • Tape
  • Flowers (these can be real or fake – enough to fill the heart-shaped container)
  • Weeds (these can be real or fake – about 10 of these)
  • Soil (enough to fill the heart-shaped container)
  • Seeds to go in each of the seed packages (It doesn’t matter what kind as long as they are large enough to be visible.  Sunflower seeds would work well.  Put several handfuls into each package.)

 

Preparation

  • Spread the soil around the heart-shaped container.
  • Fill the watering can with water, and have it ready nearby the teaching area.
  • Put the flowers and weeds somewhere where they can’t be seen and where you will be able to plant them later without being seen.
  • Practice the script.
  • Label one package of seeds in large letters that say, “Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness, Self-Control.”
  • Label the other package of seeds with large letters that say, “Hate, Sadness, Fear, Impatience, Meanness, Sinfulness, Disloyalty, Harshness, Lack of Control.”
  • Use the sheet of paper, marker and tape to label the watering can with a sign that says, “Living Water.”

Procedure

Use the following script (or modify to suit your needs):

  • “Sometimes bad things happen to us.”
  • “People mistreat us or hurt us, we have a bad experience, we make a mistake and have to suffer from the consequences…”
  • “These things happen to everyone, but sometimes the experience hurts us so much that it creates a wound in our heart.”
  • “A wound in your heart is a painful place; it hurts just to think about it.”
  • “When you remember what happened, you feel terrible sadness or anger or jealousy or shame and embarrassment.”
  • “Don’t raise your hand, but just think to yourself – do you have a wound like that in your heart?”  (Allow participants a few moments to consider and remember a wound that they have suffered.)
  • “I imagine that we can all think of at least on painful experience in our lives that just won’t go away.”  (Ask for a volunteer to come to the front.)
  • “A wound is a really fertile place in your heart; that means that it’s a place where things can grow really well.”
  • “It’s really fertile because of the pain from the wound.  That pain can change you – it can change you for good or change you for evil.”
  • “Let’s imagine that this heart-shaped container represents a wound in your heart.”  (Show the heart-shaped container, and have the volunteer put his/her fingers through the soil.)
  • (To the volunteer…) “Does that look like some fertile soil to you?”  (Acknowledge response.)
  • “It’s really good soil, and you could grow almost anything in there.”
  • “Well, there are two ‘gardeners’ who are very interested in growing things in that soil; one is God, and one is Satan.”
  • “They both want to grow things in your wound, because they know how fertile the soil is.”
  • “God brings His seeds.”  (Hand the large package of God’s seeds (Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness and Self-Control) to your volunteer, and have him/her hold it up where everyone can see.)
  • “God’s seeds will grow into the fruit of the Spirit, which is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.”  (Have volunteer shake some seeds into the soil in the heart.)
  • “The Bible says in Romans 8:28 that God will use ALL things for the good of those who love Him.”
  • “That means that God can even take the wounds in your heart, the worst things that you have ever experienced, and turn them into blessings for you!”
  • “But Satan also brings his seeds.” (Set the God seeds aside and hand the volunteer the other package of seeds.)
  • “Satan’s seeds will grow into the fruits of evil, which are the opposite of the fruit of the Spirit: Hate, Sadness, Fear, Impatience, Meanness, Sinfulness, Disloyalty, Harshness, Lack of Control.”   (Have volunteer shake some seeds into the soil in the heart.)
  • “Now, these two sets of seeds are going to compete to grow in the soil of your heart.”
  • “Since the wound is so fertile, they are definitely going to grow, but you get to decide which type of seeds fill up your heart.”
  • “Do you want the seeds that grow into the fruit of the Spirit to fill your heart, or do you want the seeds of evil to grow there?”  (Acknowledge responses.)
  • “If you want the fruit of the Spirit to grow, you’ve got to water those seeds every day with Living Water.”  (Hand your volunteer the watering can, making sure that the audience can see the “Living Water” label.  Have the volunteer sprinkle some water over the soil.)
  • “Living Water is the Word of God – the Bible.”
  • “When you water with Living Water every day, the seeds that turn into the fruit of the Spirit are going to grow.”
  • “But if you do nothing, the weeds of evil will grow instead.”
  • “They don’t need any help to grow, because they grow naturally all by themselves.”
  • “The fruit of the Spirit, on the other hand, only grows when you spend time getting closer to God each day by studying His Word, praying and doing your best to follow what His Word says to do.”
  • “Let’s give these some time to grow and see what happens.”  (Hand the heart-shaped container to a helper (or take a break) to take away and plant the flowers and weeds.  Thank and dismiss your volunteer.  Plant the flowers all around the heart, and insert weeds at different places.  Then, bring the container back into the teaching area to finish the lesson.)
  • “Let’s pretend that some time has passed.”
  • “Our flowers that represent the fruit of the Spirit (Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness, Self-Control) have grown up, because we have been watering them every day with Living Water by spending time praying, reading God’s Word and doing what it says to do.”
  • “Unfortunately, some weeds of evil (Hate, Sadness, Fear, Impatience, Meanness, Sinfulness, Disloyalty, Harshness, Lack of Control) have also grown up in our heart.”
  • “That’s the way Satan works.  He never gives up.”
  • “Even when we are working really hard to let God use the wound to bless us and those around us, Satan will still plant seeds of evil around God’s seeds.”
  • “You will have forgiven the person who hurt you, but every once in awhile, feelings of hate or mean thoughts will spring up in your heart.”
  • “You may have trusted God with the mistake you made, but every once in awhile, feelings of deep sadness or sinful thoughts or actions might spring up.”
  • “Don’t be surprised when this happens…it’s normal.”
  • “What you have to do is pull those weeds.”  (Ask for volunteer to come up and carefully pull the weeds out without uprooting the flowers.)
  • “The way you get those weeds out of your heart is by giving them to God whenever you notice them in your heart.”
  • “Pray to God, and ask Him to take away your bad feelings and your bad thoughts.  Ask Him to help you stay away from bad actions.”
  • “Keep the garden of your heart clean from weeds so that the fruit of the Spirit can really grow and make your heart beautiful.”
  • “In that way, God will take a wound in your heart and make it into something beautiful for you and everyone God puts in your life.”  (Thank and dismiss your volunteer.)

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Filed under blessing, Bullying, Challenges, Fruit of the Spirit, God's Protection, God's Will, Healing, heart, Object Lesson, Overcoming obstacles, purity

Lemons Into Lemonade (OBJ LESSON)


Time

10-15 minutes
Audience

Children, Teens, Adults

 

Description

This object lesson teaches about how God brings good things out of bad and uses the metaphor of turning lemons into lemonade.

Scriptures

  •   Romans 8:28

Materials

  • Lemons – enough for everyone to have a wedge after you cut them up and 5 or 6 for you to juice at the front of the room
  • Lemonade – enough for everyone to have some (I recommend Capri Sun Lemonade pouches for the ease of preparation, distribution and clean-up.)
  • Knife (to cut the lemons)
  • Juicer (manual or electric)
  • Bowl or Ziplock bag to hold the lemon wedges
  • Cup or bowl to catch the juice
  • Sugar (1 cup should be enough for the amount of lemonade you are making)
  • Water (approximately 2 quarts)
  • Pitcher (one)
  • Spoon (for stirring the lemonade)
  • Table to work on

Preparation

  • Slice lemons into wedges.
  • Set up all your materials on a table at the front.
  • Enlist a few helpers to help you pass out lemons and lemonade at different times during the lesson.
  • Practice the script.

Procedure

Use the following script (or modify to suit your needs):

  • “How many of you have tasted a lemon before?” (As you talk, juice five or six lemons into your cup or bowl, and have someone pass around the lemon wedges to everyone in the audience.)
  •  “Why don’t we all take a taste of the lemons you’ve been given.” (Demonstrate what you want them to do, and observe them tasting their lemons.  Comment on the sour faces.)
  • “They are pretty sour, aren’t they?”  (Continue juicing your lemons as you talk.)
  • “They make you think twice before taking a second bite, I bet.”
  • “You know, sometimes life is pretty sour. I bet this is not the first time you made that face.”
  • “The truth is, bad things sometimes happen to good people.”
  • “Sometimes it’s not your fault.”
  • “You may not have done anything to deserve it, but you are suffering anyway.”
  • “Maybe a bully picks on you or your brother takes your stuff or your sister tells a lie about you…”
  • “Those could be pretty sour experiences, and they might make you want to make the same face you made a minute ago.”
  • “But you know what? When life gives you lemons, God makes lemonade!”
  • “Yep, He uses the bad stuff that happens to us to make us better. He doesn’t always take the bad stuff away. Often, He sweetens it.” (Pour the juice, water and some of your sugar into the pitcher and stir.)
  • “One day, the same bully who picked on you may become your friend.”
  • “Your brother took your old stuff, but you got something better.”
  • “Your sister told a lie about you, but she apologized later.”
  • “God takes lemons and makes lemonade.” (Taste, make sour face, add more sugar and stir.)
  • “It may take some time for God to sweeten up your lemon juice, but I promise He will if you will trust him with your lemons.” (Taste and smile.)
  • “Ahhh! That’s good stuff! How’s your lemonade?”  (Show mock surprise when they protest that they only have lemons.)
  • “What? All you’ve got are sour lemons?”
  • “Let’s ask God to make those lemons into some lemonade.” (Signal some helpers to get ready to pass out lemonade as you pray.)
  • (PRAY) “Lord, all of these kids have gotten some lousy lemons in their lives. Will you please take those sour lemons and turn them into sweet lemonade for each person in this room? We thank you for your faithful hand in our lives, and we give you every lemon that’s ever happened to us. We love you, Lord. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.”  (Signal your helpers to pass out the lemonade.)
  • “Now, let’s have some lemonade to celebrate what God’s going to do with our lemons one day.”  (The Rhyme Time below can be used to reinforce the message of the lesson.  You can also have a volunteer read Romans 8:28 to show how God promises to make all things work for the good of those who love Him.)

 

Rhyme Time

If we trust Him and obey, God makes bad things go OUR way!

 

 

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Filed under Abundance, acceptance, blessing, Bullying, Challenges, Change, Conflict Resolution, God's Plan, God's Protection, Healing, learning, Lesson, Object Lesson, Overcoming obstacles, Problem solving, Transformation

God Doesn’t Waste Anything (OBJ LESSON)


Time

10-15 minutes
Audience

Children, Teens, Adults

 

Description

This object lesson teaches about how God brings good things out of bad and uses the metaphor of turning lemons into lemonade.

Scriptures

  • Romans 8:28
  • Galatians 5:22

Materials

  • Several cow patties if you can find them.  If you can’t, use a bag of fertilizer and just explain that many fertilizers include animal waste.
  • A pot of fragrant flowers
  • A piece of fruit that most people would enjoy eating

Preparation

  • Lay out materials for the lesson.
  • Practice the script.

Procedure

Use the following script (or modify to suit your needs):

  • “Who knows what this is?”  (Hold up dry cow patty.)
  • “Right?  It’s a cow patty.”  (Pass it around to kids.)
  • “Now, it doesn’t smell too bad right now, but who has ever smelled a fresh one?” (Acknowledge responses.)
  • “They’re stinky, aren’t they?”
  • “So, you probably wouldn’t go around smelling them, would you?”
  • “But would you smell this?”  (Hold up flowers in a pot.)
  • “Sure, because it smells good, right?”
  • “Did you know that this (hold up another cow patty) was used to make this (hold up flowers) smell so good?”
  • “How did that happen?”  (Take responses until someone mentions fertilizer.)
  • “Right!  Cow manure is one of the most common ways to fertilize plants and flowers.”
  • “How many of you would eat this?”  (Hold up cow patty.)
  • “But would you eat this?”  (Hold up fruit.)
  • “Believe it or not, there’s some of this (hold up cow patty) in this (hold up fruit).
  • “God made it so that plants and flowers take the nutrients out of the manure and reuse them to help the fruit and the flowers grow.”
  • “God doesn’t waste anything.  He even takes bad stuff (hold up cow patty) and turns it into good stuff (hold up or point to fruit and flowers).”
  • “If God can do that with cow poop, He can do that with the bad stuff in your life, too.”
  • “Some of the stuff that happens to us really stinks, but God will use it to do good stuff in our lives so that we come out smelling like a rose.”
  • “He can use those bad things to create fruit in our lives like the fruit He talks about in the Bible.”  (Have volunteer read Galatians 5:22).
  • “So, whatever bad stuff happens in your life, give it to God to use as fertilizer, and He will bring good fruit out of it.”  (Have volunteer read Romans 8:28.)
  • “God will use everything to bless you if you trust Him with it!”  (You can use the Rhyme Time below to reinforce the lesson.)

 

Rhyme Time

If we trust Him and obey, God makes bad things go OUR way!

 

 

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God’s Permissive Will (OBJ LESSON)


Time

45 minutes
Audience

Children, Teens, Adults

 

Description

This object lesson teaches about how God’s permissive will works with God’s unchangeable will.  It uses the stories of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph and his brothers to illustrate how God allows us to make choices but brings even our bad choices and sin into alignment with his perfect will in the end.

 

Scriptures

  • Genesis 2:16-17; 37-50
  • Numbers 23:19
  • Deuteronomy 30:15-20
  • Joshua 24:14-15
  • 1 Samuel 15:29
  • Malachi 3:6
  • Romans 8:28
  • Hebrews 6:17
  • James 1:17

 

Materials

  • One red rope – about 15-20 ft long
  • Five ropes (any color other than red) – about 15-20 ft long each
  • Printout of the file, “JJ  – God’s Permissive Will – Choices Cards (OBJ LESSON).” 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.
  • 70 clothespins
  • Large paper clip or rubber band
  • Bag to hold clothespins, Choice Cards and ropes

 

Preparation

  • Print out “JJ – God’s Permissive Will – Choice Cards.”  (There are 35 pages.)
  • Cut each of the pages in half down the line in the middle to make 70 separate Choice Cards.
  • Put ropes in your bag
  • Put the clothespins in your bag so that you can carry them during your lesson.
  • Put the Choice Cards in numerical order (the numbers are on each card) with #1 on top and all the rest following.
  • Clip or rubber band these cards together, and put them in your bag.
  • Practice the script.

 

Procedure

Use the following script (or modify to suit your needs):

  • “God’s will is difficult to understand.”
  • “In some parts of the Bible, it says that God’s will never changes.”  (Have volunteer(s) read one or more of the following Scriptures out loud: Numbers 23:19, 1 Samuel 15:29, Malachi 3:6, Hebrews 6:17, James 1:17.)
  • “But we know from other parts of the Bible that God allows us to have free will – meaning, He lets us make choices.”  (Have a volunteer(s) read one or more of the following Scriptures out loud: Genesis 2:16-17, Deuteronomy 30:15-20, Joshua 24:14-15.)
  • “This is sometimes called ‘God’s permissive will,’ which means that God gives us permission to choose to do something different than His will.”
  • “These Scriptures make me wonder how God’s will can always stay the same even though we do things that are not in His will.”
  • “Why don’t our bad decisions mess up God’s perfect and unchanging will?”
  • “I’m going to show you how this all works.”  (Ask for two volunteers.  Give them each one end of the red rope, and have them stretch it out as far as it will go across the room.)
  • “Let’s say that this is God’s unchanging will.”
  • “It stays the same no matter what.”
  • “On this end, we have ‘Before time began,’ and on the other side, we have ‘Eternity.’”
  • “God’s will is outside of time.  It was here before time began and will continue on after time ends.”
  • “This rope represents our free will.”
  • “There was a time in the Garden of Eden when God’s will and man’s free will were tied together.”  (Tie the two ropes together near the ‘Before time began” end.)
  • “But that didn’t last long, because Adam and Eve chose to do something against God’s will when they ate from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.”
  • “Whenever people step away from God’s will by using their free will to do something wrong, it looks like this.”  (Ask for another volunteer to come up and hold the “free will” rope away from the “God’s Will” rope.  Leave the two ropes tied together, but have the volunteer just hold the rope a few steps away from the “God’s Will” rope.)
  • “That first sin was followed by many more, and I don’t have time to tell you about all of them.”
  • “Instead, I’ll focus just on one family – the family of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Joseph.”
  • “I’m picking this family, because they are God’s chosen people, the ones He made a promise to bless.”
  • “The story started with God making a promise to Abraham.  Abraham was old and didn’t have any children, but God promised to make him the father of many nations.  His son Isaac was the child of that promise.”
  • “At this point, Abraham’s free will was lined up with God’s will, so the two ropes are together.”  (Have volunteer who has the “free will” rope come back to the red “God’s will” rope and hold both ropes together.  Pull out Choice Card #1 from your bag.  Show it to the audience. Clip the two ropes together using a clothespin.  Anytime a Choice Card says, ‘GOD’S WILL – BOTH ROPES’ at the bottom, clip the two ropes together.)
  • “Isaac grew up and got married.  His wife Rebekah couldn’t have children, so he prayed for her.  God answered his prayer and gave them two children, Esau and Jacob.”
  • “What do you think?  Was Isaac’s free will still lined up with God’s will at this point?”  (Listen to responses.)
  • “Sure it was!  Isaac wanted what God wanted, and God blessed him with two children.”  (Show Choice Card #2, and use the clothespin to clip the two ropes together.)
  • “Esau and Jacob fought with each other in their mother’s womb, and God told Rebekah that Jacob would one day rule over his brother Esau.”
  • “Do you think it God’s will that the babies fought in the womb?”  (Listen to responses.)
  • “I don’t know for sure if babies know enough to use their free will, but let’s say that it could be possible.”
  • “That means that their free will separated from God’s will.”  (Have ‘free will’ rope volunteer take a step away from the ‘God’s will’ rope so that the two ropes separate.  Make sure he/she doesn’t pull hard on the rope and rip the Choice Cards that are already on it.  Use a clothespin to clip Choice Card #3 to just the ‘free will’ rope. Draw out Choice Card #4, and show audience.)
  • “Jacob’s name in Hebrew means, ‘He deceives,’ and it’s a great name for Jacob.  He was one of the trickiest people in the whole Bible.  The first trick we know about is when he convinced his brother, Esau, to sell him the birthright of the firstborn son in exchange for a bowl of stew!”
  • “The birthright of the firstborn son was a special privilege given to the boy who was born first, and it made him the leader of the family when the father died.  It also gave him twice the inheritance of the other children, so it was pretty important.”
  • “Now we know that God said Jacob would one day rule over Esau, but I’m pretty sure this is not how God planned for it to happen.”
  • “God didn’t need Jacob to trick Esau.  God would have made His will come true without tricks.”
  • “So, this choice that Jacob made was definitely away from God’s will!”  (Clip Choice Card #4 with a clothespin to just the ‘free will’ rope.  If you have lots of participants, you could give the choice card to a volunteer and have him/her clip it and then stand by it to represent that choice.  There will be 70 choices total, so you might have each volunteer represent several choices.  Draw out the remaining Choice Cards in numerical order while telling the story of God’s chosen people.  The cards are listed below for your reference along with important story elements.)
  1. REBEKAH AND JACOB – Tricked Isaac into giving Esau’s blessing to Jacob (It wasn’t enough that Jacob stole the birthright from Esau; he felt he had to steal his blessing, too.  (The blessing was a special gift from the father that helped a child to know what his or her future would be like.)) FREE WILL ROPE
  2. ESAU – Threatened to kill his brother, Jacob (Esau was so mad when he found out, that he promised to kill Jacob as soon as their father died.) FREE WILL ROPE
  3. REBEKAH – Tricked her husband, Isaac, into sending Jacob away to find a wife among her brother’s people (Now we know where Jacob learned to be so tricky.  His mom was a trickster, too!  She saved Jacob’s life by sending him where Esau couldn’t get him.  It’s good that she saved Jacob’s life, but she didn’t trust God to help.  Instead, she told a lie.  That’s away from God’s will.)  FREE WILL ROPE
  4. GOD – Promised land to Jacob in a dream and told him that he would have many descendants (God met Jacob while he was running away and renewed the promise that He had made to Abraham and Isaac.)  BOTH ROPES
  5. JACOB – Fell in love with Rachel as soon as he saw her (When Jacob arrived at the land of his relatives, he saw a girl named Rachel and fell in love with her.  God wants us to fall in love.  This was lined up with God’s will.)  BOTH ROPES
  6. JACOB – Worked for Laban for seven years in order to marry his daughter, Rachel. (It was the custom for these people at this time that a man would pay a woman’s father for the privilege of marrying her.  Jacob didn’t have any money or property, so he worked for seven years as payment.  This was honorable behavior.)  BOTH ROPES
  7. LABAN – Tricked Jacob into marrying Rachel’s older sister, Leah (Jacob wasn’t the only tricky person.  His uncle Laban wanted to marry his oldest daughter off before Rachel got married, so he tricked Jacob into marrying her. That’s definitely away from God’s will.)  FREE WILL ROPE (have volunteer step away from ‘God’s Will’ rope to hold ‘free will rope’ and show the distance between the two.  You might want to have them step in the other direction from the first time in order to make the best use of space.)
  8. JACOB – Was angry with Laban but agreed to work for Laban for seven more years so that he could marry Rachel, too.  (Jacob loved Rachel very much and still wanted to marry her, so even though he had been tricked, he agreed to work seven more years to pay for her hand in marriage.  That’s pretty romantic, but the problem with it is that God doesn’t want us to marry more than one person.  This is away from God’s will.)  FREE WILL ROPE
  9. LABAN - Tricked Jacob many times in order to make him keep working for him. (Laban wasn’t satisfied with having Jacob work for him for 14 years. Jacob was a talented shepherd, and Laban got rich while Jacob was taking care of his sheep.) FREE WILL ROPE
  10. 14.  GOD - Blessed Jacob by giving him many herds and many children (12 sons and 1 daughter).  (This is the beginning of God fulfilling His promise to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.) BOTH ROPES
  11. 15.  RACHEL and LEAH - Competed with each other to see who could have the most sons for Jacob.  (In their culture, they believed that you were more important if you had more sons.  Leah was able to have six boys, but Jacob didn’t love her.  He loved Rachel, but she couldn’t have children for many years until God finally let her have Joseph and Benjamin towards the end of her life.)  FREE WILL ROPE
  12. JACOB - Ran away from Laban.  Laban chased him, but God warned Laban in a dream not to hurt Jacob.  (I’m not sure if it was God’s will for Jacob to run away or not, but God protected Jacob, so we will say that this was lined up with God’s will.) BOTH ROPES
  13. JACOB – Wrestled with God until God gave Jacob a blessing. (While Jacob was traveling back to the land his family lived in, and angel of the Lord (probably Jesus) came to earth and wrestled Jacob.  Jacob wouldn’t let go until God blessed him.)  BOTH ROPES
  14. 18.  ESAU - Forgave his brother Jacob, because he had been very blessed by God over the years they were apart.  (Jacob was worried about his brother still being mad at him, but he was surprised to find that Esau had totally forgiven him.)  BOTH ROPES
  15. SIMEON AND LEVI – Took revenge on people who hurt their sister, Dinah, by killing all the men in the town.  (When Jacob settled his family in Shechem, a man hurt his daughter, Dinah.  Her brothers took revenge by killing every single man in the town.  Jacob never forgave his sons for what they did.)  FREE WILL ROPE
  16. GOD - Allowed Rachel to die giving birth to Benjamin, Jacob’s youngest child.  (Sometimes God allows bad things to happen, and we don’t understand why.  There are times when we find out later what God was doing, but we won’t know all God’s reasons for what He allows to happen.  We just have to trust Him.)  BOTH ROPES
  17. JACOB - Loved Joseph more than any of his other children.  (Because Joseph was the firstborn child of Rachel, the wife Jacob loved and because some of his other sons had disappointed him, Jacob showed favoritism to Joseph.)  FREE WILL ROPE
  18. 22.  JOSEPH - Told his father about the bad things his brothers had been doing. (Joseph saw his brothers do some pretty bad stuff, and he told his dad about it.  I think it was the right thing to do, but it made his brothers really mad at him.)  BOTH ROPES
  19. 23.  JOSEPH’S BROTHERS - Hated Joseph because their father loved him more.  (It was obvious to his brothers that Joseph was their dad’s favorite, so they hated him.)  FREE WILL ROPE
  20. 24.  JOSEPH - Had two prophetic dreams that showed he would one day rule over his family.  (These dreams were from God, because they eventually came true.)  BOTH ROPES
  21. JOSEPH – Told his brothers about his dreams. (I think this was a mistake.  Joseph might have been showing off to his family, and all it did was make them all angry with him and hate him more.)  FREE WILL ROPE
  22. JOSEPH’S BROTHER – Hated Joseph because of his dreams.  FREE WILL ROPE
  23. 27.  JACOB - Made a special coat of many colors for Joseph, because Joseph was his favorite.  (This was another mistake.  The coat was a special coat like the one rulers would wear.  It was a coat for people who didn’t have to work, and it made Joseph’s brothers hate him even more.)  FREE WILL ROPE
  24. 28.  JACOB - Sent Joseph to check on his brothers and bring him back a report. (And another mistake!  Didn’t he realize how much his sons hated Joseph?  The brothers were working, and Joseph was wearing his fancy, no-working coat.  And Jacob sent Joseph to tattle on his brothers – not good!)  FREE WILL ROPE
  25. 29.  JOSEPH’S BROTHERS – Threw Joseph in a well and then sold him to some slave traders. (Joseph’s brothers were sick and tired of their little brother, and they decided to get rid of him.)  FREE WILL ROPE
  26. 30.  JOSEPH’S BROTHERS - Tore his robe and dipped it in blood.  Then they let their father believe Joseph was killed. (They hid what they did by making Jacob think that Joseph had been eaten by a wild animal.)  FREE WILL ROPE
  27. 31.  MIDIANITES - Sold Joseph as a slave to Potiphar, the Egyptian and captain of the guard for Pharoah. (God is never happy when people are treated as slaves.)  FREE WILL ROPE
  28. 32.  JOSEPH - Served Potiphar faithfully and honored God.  (Suffering can often change your heart, and I think Joseph grew up a lot when he was sold as a slave.  During this time, he learned to trust God and do his best even in a bad situation.)  BOTH ROPES
  29. 33.  GOD - Was with Joseph and gave him success in everything that he did.  (When we are lined up with God’s will, He blesses us and blesses us!)  BOTH ROPES
  30. 34.  POTIPHAR - Put Joseph in charge of everything in his household and trusted him with everything he owned.  (Even people who don’t believe in God can be in line with God’s will sometimes.  Potiphar was so impressed with Joseph that he gave him responsibility for everything.) BOTH ROPES
  31. 35.  POTIPHAR’S WIFE – Tried to get Joseph to kiss her.  (What?!  She was married!  Definitely not in God’s will!)  FREE WILL ROPE
  32. 36.  JOSEPH - Refused to sin against Potiphar and God and avoided Potiphar’s wife whenever possible.  (Good for him!)  BOTH ROPES
  33. 37.  POTIPHAR’S WIFE - Lied about Joseph to her husband and said that Joseph tried to kiss her.  (Oooh….she’s not a good person!) FREE WILL ROPE
  34. 38.  POTIPHAR - Put Joseph in the prison where the king’s prisoners were kept. (It’s interesting that he put Joseph in this special prison for Pharaoh’s prisoners.  That gave Joseph opportunities to meet important people.  Still, Potiphar shouldn’t have put him in prison for something he didn’t do.) FREE WILL ROPE
  35. 39.  JOSEPH - Served the prison warden faithfully and honored God while he was in prison.  (Joseph was put into prison unfairly, but he still chose to trust in God and honor God by working hard.)  BOTH ROPES
  36. 40.  GOD - Was with Joseph and gave him success in everything that he did. (Again, when we line up with God’s will, He blesses us.)  BOTH ROPES
  37. 41.  THE PRISON WARDEN - Put Joseph in charge of everything and everyone in the prison.  (Because Joseph was so trustworthy, the warden trusted him with everything.  God was definitely at work.)  BOTH ROPES
  38. 42.  THE CUPBEARER and THE BAKER – Offended Pharaoh.  (We don’t know what happened, but Pharaoh was mad at two of his top servants.)  FREE WILL ROPE
  39. 43.  PHARAOH - Put the cupbearer and the baker into prison. (It’s hard to know if Pharaoh was being fair or not, but God was going to use it.)  BOTH ROPES
  40. 44.  POTIPHAR - Assigned the cupbearer and the baker to Joseph. (Potiphar was in charge of the prison, and he apparently still had some trust in Joseph.) BOTH ROPES
  41. 45.  THE CUPBEARER and THE BAKER - Both had dreams on the same night, but they were sad because they didn’t know what the dreams meant.  (Sometimes God is the One who gives people dreams.) BOTH ROPES
  42. 46.  JOSEPH - Noticed their sadness, asked to hear their dreams and then interpreted them.  He asked the cupbearer to remember him when he returned to Pharaoh. (Joseph had interpreted his own dreams in the past and knew that God could interpret these dreams through him.  In this case, Joseph told them that the cupbearer’s dream meant that Pharaoh would restore him again in three days and that the baker’s dream meant that Pharaoh would kill him in three days. Joseph asked the cupbearer to remember him and get him out of prison.)  BOTH ROPES
  43. 47.  PHARAOH - Restored the cupbearer and killed the baker, just as Joseph had predicted.  (Exactly as Joseph had interpreted the dreams, the cupbearer went back to work, but the baker was killed.) BOTH ROPES
  44. 48.  THE CUPBEARER - Forgot about Joseph for two years.  (Not cool!  Joseph got him free, and he totally forgot about Joseph.)  FREE WILL ROPE
  45. 49.  PHARAOH - Had two dreams that worried him.  (These dreams were definitely from God.  One was about seven fat cows that got eaten by seven skinny cows, and the other was about seven healthy heads of grain that got eaten by seven sick heads of grain.)  BOTH ROPES
  46. 50.  PHARAOH - Called all his magicians and wise men, but no one could interpret the dreams. (God was saving the interpretation for Joseph.)  BOTH ROPES
  47. 51.  THE CUPBEARER - Remembered Joseph and told Pharaoh about his ability to interpret dreams.  (Finally!) BOTH ROPES
  48. 52.  PHAROAH - Called for Joseph to come to interpret his dreams. (It’s just about to get really good!) BOTH ROPES
  49. 53.  JOSEPH - Interpreted Pharaoh’s dreams and gave him advice about how to prepare for the coming famine.  (Joseph didn’t take any of the credit for his ability.  He gave it all to God, and he helped Pharaoh understand that the dreams meant there would be seven years of plenty of food followed by seven years of starvation.)  BOTH ROPES
  50. 54.  PHARAOH - Put Joseph in charge of all of Egypt, gave him his official ring, robes, chain and chariot and gave him a wife. (Pharaoh realized no one would do a better job than Joseph at saving the country, so he put him in charge of everything!) BOTH ROPES
  51. 55.  GOD - Allowed a famine throughout all of the world.  (A famine is a bad thing, but God allowed it to help many people stop believing in false gods and start believing in Him.)  BOTH ROPES
  52. 56.  JOSEPH - Managed the food in Egypt well so that no one had to starve during the famine. (God gave Joseph excellent management skills, and he saved so much food during the good years that there was plenty of food for everyone during the seven years of famine.) BOTH ROPES
  53. 57.  JACOB - Sent Joseph’s brothers to Egypt to get food for the family.  (It wasn’t just the people in Egypt who couldn’t grow food during the famine.  People all over the world started coming to Egypt, because they were the only ones with food.)  BOTH ROPES
  54. 58.  JOSEPH - Recognized his brothers when they came to buy grain but didn’t reveal his identity.  (Joseph knew that he had to test his brothers to make sure that they had changed.) BOTH ROPES
  55. 59.  JOSEPH - Tested his brothers to see if his younger brother, Benjamin, was still alive.  (First of all, Joseph was worried that his younger brother might have been killed or sold into slavery, so he made his brothers go and get him to bring him to Egypt.)  BOTH ROPES
  56. 60.  JOSEPH’S BROTHERS – Returned home to get Benjamin, but they had to leave Simeon, who was put into prison.  (To make sure that they would come back, Joseph made them leave Simeon behind.)  BOTH ROPES
  57. 61.  JACOB - Didn’t want to let his sons take Benjamin, but he finally gave in when they got too hungry.  (Jacob was afraid that the ruler (actually Joseph) in Egypt might keep Benjamin, so he didn’t want to let him go.  In the end, though, they needed the food for survival.) FREE WILL ROPE
  58. 62.  JOSEPH’S BROTHERS - Returned to Egypt with Benjamin and two times the money needed to pay for food.  (They returned with twice the money, because Joseph had their money put back in their grain sacks before they left the first time.  That shows that he had forgiven them.  He didn’t want their money, and he didn’t want to get even.)  BOTH ROPES
  59. 63.  JOSEPH - Tested his brothers one more time to see if their hearts had changed.  (Now that Joseph saw Benjamin, he was relieved, but he still wondered if his brothers were the same, evil people that they had once been, so he tested them one more time by sending them back with a silver cup hidden in Benjamin’s sack.  After they had left, he sent his official to find out who “stole” his cup.  He wanted to know if they would sacrifice Benjamin for their own safety.)  BOTH ROPES
  60. 64.  JUDAH - Offered to be Joseph’s slave if Joseph would just let Benjamin and the others go. (To Joseph’s surprise and joy, Judah offered to become a slave in order to free Benjamin.  Judah was the brother who led the others to sell Joseph into slavery, but his heart had changed over the years.)  BOTH ROPES
  61. 65.  JOSEPH - Revealed his identity to his brothers and sent them back to get their father and bring him to Egypt. (When he was sure that his brothers had changed, Joseph told them who he was.  They had dinner together, and he told them the whole story.  Then, he sent them back to get the whole family.)  BOTH ROPES
  62. 66.  PHARAOH - Approved for Joseph’s family to live in the best part of Egypt.  (Pharaoh trusted Joseph so much and was so grateful for his wise leadership that he gave Joseph’s family the best land in Egypt to live in.)  BOTH ROPES
  63. 67.  JACOB - Brought his whole family to Egypt.  (70 people in all!)  BOTH ROPES
  64. 68.  JOSEPH - Reunited with his father and family and received his father’s blessing.  (Jacob was so happy to see Joseph alive!  The two had a great reunion.)  BOTH ROPES
  65. 69.  JOSEPH - Forgave his brothers for the terrible things they had done to him. (Joseph really forgave his brothers.  In fact, he told them that he knew they meant to hurt him, but God allowed it to happen so that he could save many lives.) BOTH ROPES
  66. 70.  MOSES - Led the Hebrews out of Egypt and into the Promised Land. (And that wasn’t the end of the story, because Jacob’s family lived in Egypt for 400 years.  During that time, they were protected from the evil religions that were in the country of Canaan, where they had come from, and they were able to grow from 70 people to over 2 million.  When the time was right and the Hebrews were ready, God sent Moses to lead them out of Egypt and back into the Promised Land of Canaan.)  BOTH ROPES
  • CONCLUSION:
  • “Notice how often people in this story did their own free will apart from God’s will.”
  • “But also notice that God always brought events back in line with His will.”
  • “So here’s the answer to how God can allow us to have free will and sin but still accomplish His perfect will in the end…”
  • “No matter what these people did, God would take it and use it for His purposes.”
  • “Even when they sinned, He turned it around and made it work for good.”
  • “In the end, God brings everything in line with His will.”  (Grab the end of the Free Will rope.  Then go to the “eternity” end of the red rope, and pull on the Free Will rope until it straightens out right next to the red rope.  This shows how God brings everything into alignment with His purposes in the end.)
  • “You’ve probably noticed that the ‘God’s Will’ rope is red.  That’s to symbolize the blood of Jesus, that has the power to bring our Free Will into alignment with God’s Will.”
  • “Satan is a bigger trickster than Jacob, Rebekah and Laban put together, and he constantly tries to get us to pull away from God’s Will.”  (Gently pull several of your volunteers back away from the red rope as they hold onto the “Free Will” rope.)
  • “But no matter what he tricks us into doing, God offers to help us line up with His will if we will just trust in the blood of Jesus.”  (Pull the ropes together again.)
  • “When you accept Jesus’ sacrifice of His own life on the cross as payment for your sins, God brings everything in line with His will.”
  • “He will take all the bad and sinful choices you made and use them in a positive way.”
  • “He will take all the terrible things other people did to you and use them in a positive way.”
  • “And even though you can still make choices that take you away from God when you are a believer…”  (Pull one of your volunteers and the “Free Will” rope away from the red rope.)
  • “If you ask God for forgiveness, He will bring those bad choices back into line with His will.”  (Pull the ropes together again.)
  • “Romans 8:28 says that God will use ALL things for the good of those who love Him.”
  • “God is pretty amazing, don’t you think?”  (Acknowledge responses, thank your volunteers and allow them to be seated.)

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Filed under Abraham, Abram, Challenges, Choices, Decision making, discipleship, faith, God's Plan, God's Will, Jesus, Joseph, Lesson, Listening to God, Obedience, Object Lesson, Repentance, Satan's tactics, Spiritual Growth, temptation, Transformation, unity

Connecting the D.O.T.S. (Obj Lesson)


Time
15 minutes

Description
This object lesson teaches about how God’s plan for us can be difficult to see at times.  Even so, we should do our best to follow the path He has set out for us.

Scriptures
•    Psalm 37:23-24
•    Proverbs 3:5-6, 16:9
•    Romans 8:28

Materials
•    Dot-to-dot pattern (You can find this on the Lesson and Material Downloads page at http://www.teachthem.wordpress.com in the file named Connect the D-O-T-S – Pattern.ppt)
•    Posterboard or flipchart paper (2-4, depending upon how large you want to make the dot-to-dot pattern)
•    LCD or overhead projector (or photo copy machine, depending upon how you choose to enlarge the pattern)
•    Marker

Preparation
•    Enlarge the dot-to-dot pattern.  (In the file mentioned above, it is the first slide.  The second slide shows the completed dot-to-dot picture, and the third slide shows a more stylized dot-to-dot picture of the same pattern in case you want to project it.  You can enlarge it a few different ways – print it and then photo copy it using the magnification settings on the copier, use either an LCD or overhead projector to project the image on several posterboards or flipchart pages and then trace the image onto the paper.)
•    Hang the dot-to-dot pattern where your volunteer will be able to reach it.
•    Practice the script.

Procedure
Use the following script and instructions (or modify to suit your needs):
•    “Let’s do a dot-to-dot puzzle!”

Unfinished Puzzle

Unfinished Puzzle

•    “I’m going to need a volunteer.”  (Select a volunteer from the audience.)
•    (To volunteer) “You know how to do these, right
•    “You connect the dots with a line in the order of the numbers next to the dot.”
•    “Start with number “1;” then go to “2;” then to “3” and so on.  (Let the volunteer begin to connect the dots with a marker.)
•    (To audience) “You know, doing a dot-to-dot puzzle is a lot like trying to follow God’s plan for your life.”
•    “When you first get started, it’s hard to see what He’s doing in your life.”
•    “It can look like just a bunch of dots.”
•    “But each of those dots is an event in your life.”
•    “Some are big events; most are small.”
•    “Some are so small that you wouldn’t even think they would matter, but Romans 8:28 tells us that God uses ALL things for the good of those who love Him, who are called according to His purpose.”
•    “Some dots represent good choices that you made, and some represent bad choices, but God uses everything!”
•    “He just keeps connecting those dots.”  (By this time, your volunteer should have run into at least one of the following problems:  a) There is no dot or label for “10;” b) Dots “13, 14, 15 and 16” are not labeled; c) Many of the dots have more than one number associated with them.)
•    (To volunteer) “Is there a problem?”  (Listen for response.)
•    (To group) “Sometimes, God’s next step for you won’t be clear.”
•    “What do you think you should do when this happens?”  (Take responses, and listen for ideas like “pray, read the Bible, ask other Christians, wait for the Lord.”  Offer these if the kids don’t.)
•    “Right!  Eventually, the Lord will usually show you the next step.”
•    “Sometimes, though, He is testing you to see which path you will take.”
•    “And sometimes, He doesn’t have a specific next move for you to take.  He is fine with you making the best decision you can that honors Him.  In this case, He is fine with any of your choices and is giving you some freedom to select the one that you think is best.”
•    “Often during these times, God doesn’t move quickly, so you may have to be patient.”  (Show volunteer the order of the missing dots.  They are labeled on both the second and third slide in the PowerPoint file.)
•    (To group and volunteer) “Has anyone noticed that some of the dots have more than one number associated with them?”  (Demonstrate that you are looking for a show of hands.)
•    “What do you think this might represent in God’s plan for your life?”  (Listen to responses.  The group may come up with some creative ideas, but one possibility is that God might ask you to go through some experiences multiple times – especially if they were tests that you didn’t pass the first time through.)
•    “There are a few lines and squares already drawn into the pattern.  What do you think these might represent in God’s plan for your life?”  (Listen to responses.  Again, they might have creative answers other than this one, but one possibility is that these could represent resources and helps that God provides in our lives.  Another possibility is that these could represent times when God had to carry us through a difficult time.)
•    “Can any of you tell what the picture is yet?”  (Listen to responses, but neither confirm nor deny at this point.)
•    “You know, sometimes when we think we can tell where God is going, we want to jump ahead and skip some of the dots.”
•    “You can see examples of this in Scripture when:
o    Abram had a son with Hagar instead of with Sarai.
o    Jacob stole his brother’s blessing and birthright.
o    David tried to carry the Ark of the Covenant on a cart instead of the shoulders of the priests.
o    James and John offered to call down fire on a village that had rejected Jesus.
o    Peter often tried to take leadership of the apostles before it was time.”
•    “But what does it do if I jump from this dot to this dot and skip the ones in-between?”  (Demonstrate by pointing to dots in the pattern.  Then listen for responses.)
•    “It messes up the picture, right?”
•    “Then, God has to lead me back to the right dot so that I can go back through the right steps again.”
•    “It’s hard to do, but we should be patient and go at the Lord’s pace.”  (Have a volunteer read Psalm 37:23-24, Proverbs 3:5-6 and Proverbs 16:9.)
•    “God cares about the steps we take, and He wants us to walk in His path.”  (Watch the volunteer, and help him/her whenever he/she gets stuck.  When the puzzle is complete, thank and dismiss the volunteer.)
•    “Who can read it now?”  (Listen to responses.  The correct answer is “D.O.T.S. – Disciples of the Savior,” and there is a cross behind the text.)
•    “If we continue to follow God’s path, He will make us into what He truly wants us to be: D.O.T.S. – Disciples of the Savior!”

Finished Puzzle

Finished Puzzle

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Heart Garden (Obj Lesson)


Time
15-20 minutes

Description
This object lesson teaches about our hearts and how God works in them to produce something beautiful.  It’s preferable to do it outside.

Audience
Children, youth, adults

Materials
o    Landscaping edging (I used 20 ft, but that is quite big.)
o    Stakes for the edging (8-10 should do if you create the 20 ft heart.)
o    Hammer
o    Potting soil
o    Spade or some other gardening tool
o    (Optional) Gardening gloves and hat
o    Watering can with water in it
o    Assorted garbage – plastic, peelings, etc.  (Be careful not to put anything in the soil that might cut fingers.)
o    Hard soil to spread over the top of the heart (enough to cover the surface)
o    Rocks – several dozen of assorted sizes to mix in with the soil
o    Manure/fertilizer – actual manure is good for shock value, but fertilizer will make the point.
o    Sprouts – a few small plants just beginning to show above the soil
o    Beautiful flowers or ground cover – enough to cover most or all of the heart
o    Marker
o    Packages of seeds (4 or more)

Preparation
o    Create a heart shape with the landscaping edging, and stake it down.  (Cut the edging in half to make this easier.)
o    Fill the shape almost to the top with potting soil.
o    Mix some garbage and rocks into the soil.
o    Cover the soil and the garbage with hard soil clods that you’ve dug up from somewhere else
o    Label the seed packages using the marker so that they say, “Answered Prayer,” “Truth,”  “Kindness and Love,” and “Hope.”  If you have more than four packages, you can label them with other “seeds from God” that you can think of.
o    Practice the script.

Procedure
Use the following script and instructions (or modify to suit your needs):
•    “I’m going to give you a picture of what our hearts are like.”
•    “Think of your heart like a garden.”
•    “Before we know Jesus as our Lord and Savior, the soil in our heart is hard and dead.  Nothing will grow there except weeds.”  (Show hard soil in heart.)
•    “But God wants to make our hearts beautiful, so the first thing He does is to break up all that hard soil.”  (Ask a volunteer to come break up the soil with a spade or some other tool.  Hand them the gloves and the gardening hat if you have them.)
•    “This isn’t very fun for us.  Our hard hearts are difficult to break up, and the tools that God uses are sometimes very sharp.”
•    “He might allow us to go through some difficult experiences or lose something we love, but He only does this to break up the hard soil and start planting good seeds on the inside.”
•    “Thankfully, God will also pour in some Living Water to help break up the soil.”  (Have volunteer pour in some water.)
•    “Living Water is the Word of God.  It’s the Bible.  The Scriptures are like water to a thirsty soul, and we need to drink deeply of them every day to stay spiritually healthy.”
•    “Sometimes breaking up the hard soil takes a very long time.  The harder the soil in our hearts, the longer it will take God to make it usable for His purposes.”
•    “Once the hard soil is broken up, God will remove the parts that are unusable.”  (Have volunteer pull our chunks that don’t break down into the soil.)
•    “By breaking up the hard soil, God can give you a new heart.”
•    “If you are willing to receive Jesus as your Lord and Savior, your heart will be made new.”  (Make sure audience can see the potting soil.)
•    “The Scriptures say that God will remove our heart of stone and give us a heart of flesh.” (Ezekiel 11:19)
•    “Now, when a gardener is preparing soil, he mixes in some nasty stuff like this manure.”  (Give manure/fertilizer to volunteer, and have him/her mix it into the soil.)
•    “It stinks, it’s gross, you really don’t want to deal with it, but it’s the best way to make the soil rich and ready to grow healthy plants and flowers.”
•    “Romans 8:28 tells us that when you give your heart to God, He will use even the bad stuff in your past to enrich your heart ‘soil.’”
•    “In other words, He will use the times you’ve been hurt, the times bad things happened to you and the bad decisions you made to bless you.”
•    “That’s great news!!!!”
•    “God then plants some seeds in your heart.”  (Have volunteer sprinkle in some seeds and work them in with the spade.)
•    “Actually, God plants seeds even before you become a Christian, when your heart is hard, but many of them don’t make it into the soil.”
•    “When Jesus taught about this, He said that the birds of the air will steal the seeds before they have a chance to take root in the hard soil.”
•    “He told his disciples that the birds of the air represent our enemy, Satan, who doesn’t want God’s truth to get into your heart.”
•    “God’s seeds can represent times when He answered prayers for you or times when He spoke some truth into your life through a friend or teacher or parent or event a stranger.”  (Have volunteer show the labels on these packages of seeds.)
•    “Sometime an act of kindness or love can plant a seed.”  (Have volunteer show the label on this package and pour in some seeds.)
•    “And sometimes God gives you hope in difficult situation.”  (Have volunteer show label on this package and pour in some seeds.)
•    “When God plants His seeds, He is faithful to continue to water the seeds with His Living Word and shine the light of His Son on them.”  (Have volunteer water the seeds.)
•    “Eventually, some of those seeds will start to grow in our hearts.”  (Have volunteer plant a few spouts in the soil.)
•    “God will continue to water and care for these while He plants even more seeds.”  (Have volunteer water soil and plant a few more seeds.)
•    “But just because we got new hearts doesn’t mean that our hearts are completely pure.”  (Have volunteer sift through soil until he/she finds trash or rocks.)
•    “We probably still have trash that we allowed into our hearts before we became Christians, and it’s likely that we still have some hard places in our hearts.”
•    “The trash represents sinfulness that we haven’t dealt with yet, and the rocks represent emotional hard places – hurts, pains, disappointments, hatreds, fears… that we haven’t allowed God into.”
•    “God can plant beautiful things in the parts of our hearts that we give to Him, but He can’t do anything with the areas we won’t trust Him with.”
•    “The trash and the hard places will stay in our hearts until we allow God to help us get rid of them.”
•    “While other parts of our heart are showing new life and the evidence of God’s work, these places are in danger of hardening back up if we don’t turn them over to God.”
•    “The more we trust God, the more beautiful our hearts will become.”  (Have the volunteer replace the sprouts with some beautiful flowers.)
•    “And when our hearts are beautiful, God will use them to bring joy and happiness to other people who see them.”
•    “That’s beautiful, isn’t it?”  (Thank and dismiss volunteer.)
•    “So, are we done?  Can we just let it alone and enjoy it?”  (Listen for responses.)
•    “No.  If we leave it alone, what will happen?”  (Listen for responses.)
•    “Right!  It will die.  These flowers need watering and sunshine every day.”
•    “In the same way, you need to meet with God every day – to enjoy His Son and to get the Living Water that comes from the Bible.”
•    “And even if we do that everyday, is that enough to keep our heart garden healthy?”  (Listen to responses.)
•    “No, because we have an enemy, and his name is Satan.”
•    “Satan plants seeds, too, but they grow into weeds that will choke out the beauty from our garden.”
•    “Satan’s seeds are bad thoughts, worries, fears, resentments and other things that keep us from loving God, loving our neighbor and loving ourselves.”
•    “Whenever you notice a weed in your heart garden, what should you do?”  (Listen to responses.)
•    “Right, pull it out!  Don’t let those bad thoughts or worries or fears stay.  Yank them out!”
•    “Okay, let’s practice the Rhyme Time for this lesson to help us remember it:”

My heart is the garden
Where God plants His seeds.
We tend it together
And pull all the weeds!

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Fortunately – Unfortunately (Obj Lesson)


Time
20 minutes

Description
This object lesson helps us to understand that what happens to us is not as important as how we respond to what happens to us.  If we trust God with even our “unfortunate” events and circumstances, He can use everything for our good.

Materials
•    None

Preparation
•    Practice the script.

Procedure
Use the following script (or modify to suit your needs):
•    “We’re going to play a short game called, “Fortunately – Unfortunately.”
•    “First, I need to divide you into small groups.”  (Divide kids into smaller groups of 3-6 people.)
•    “Now, we have to select the person who will start the game.  I want everyone to hold up one finger.”  (Make sure everyone holds up a finger, then have them do the following.)
•    “Now point that finger straight up in the air as high as you can make it go.”
•    “I’m going to count to three.  When I say, ‘three,’ I want everyone in the group to point at the person you think should start the game.”
•    “Ready?  Okay, One….Two….Three!”  (If any groups end up with a tie for the number of fingers pointed at different people, have them do it again until the tie is broken.)
•    “Alright, this person is going to start you off by telling the first part of a story.”
•    “They will tell you about 15-20 words about any topic they want, but the story has to start with, ‘Once upon a time…’”
•    “For example, ‘Once upon a time, there was a man who liked to eat pickled porcupines…’”
•    “Then, that person will stop right there, and the person on their right will pick up the story where they left off.”
•    “But before they tell anymore of the story, they have to say, ‘Unfortunately…’ and then share something unfortunate about the situation or person.”
•    “They will tell about 15 words of why things are so unfortunate, and then they will stop.”
•    “The next person will pick up the story where they left off, but he/she will start by saying, ‘Fortunately…’  Then they will tell us what is so fortunate about the situation.”
•    “This keeps going with each person alternating their stories to be ‘fortunate’ or ‘unfortunate.’”
•    “You will keep going around your group until I say to stop, so you will probably have several tries at making up ‘fortunate’ and ‘unfortunate’ parts of the story.”
•    “The only other rule is that you can’t kill anyone in the stories.”
•    “Does anyone have any questions before we get started?”
•    “Alright, those of you who were picked to start, begin your stories!”  (Allow three to five minutes for storytelling, then ask them to finish the part they are on and turn their attention back to you.)
•    “The point of this game is that there are always two ways of looking at the things that happen in our lives.  You can view almost anything as either fortunate or unfortunate.”
•    “If you search for it, even something very bad can have a fortunate side, particularly if you are willing to trust God with it.”
•    “Romans 8:28 says, ‘And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.”
•    “The Scripture says that God will works in ‘some’ things for our good, right?”  (The kids should answer, ‘NO!’)
•    “Oh, it says, God works in just the fortunate things, right?” (The kids should answer, ‘NO!’)
•    “In just the things where we make good decisions?”  (‘NO!’)
•    “…where we stay out of sin?” (‘NO!’)
•    “…where we pray about it ahead of time?” (‘NO!’)
•    “…where we do everything our pastor tells us to do?” (‘NO!’)
•    “What does it say?  …God works in ALL things for the good of those who love Him.”
•    “Sometimes when ‘unfortunate’ stuff happens to us, it’s God’s discipline in our lives, because the Bible says in Proverbs 3:11:  ‘My son, do not despise the Lord’s discipline and do not resent His rebuke, because the Lord disciplines those He loves, as a father the son he delights in.’”
•    “But that means that even when God is disciplining you for your sin, He is doing it for your good!”
•    “And it’s even better if you admit that you sinned and ask for forgiveness.  Then God can really use it for your good!”
•    “He uses EVERYTHING that happens in your life to be a blessing to you!”
•    “So, even when something happens that looks bad, it’s a great idea to praise God for it.  That shows that you trust Him to use it for your good.”
•    “So, let’s try this out.  Who can think of something bad that could happen to us?”  (Listen for examples.)
•    “Alright everyone, how could God use that for that person’s good?”  (Do this several times to make the point that God can use everything to bless us.)
•    “You see, just because it looks unfortunate doesn’t mean it is.”
•    “It’s less important what happens to you than how you respond to what happens to you.”
•    “Praise God for anything and everything that happens in your life – whether it looks fortunate or unfortunate!”

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Filed under acceptance, blessing, Challenges, Christianity, Coping skills, Discipline, faith, Game, Games that Teach, God's Plan, Hope, Object Lesson, Praise, Trust, Worry

Trust God When Things Look Bad (OBJ LESSON)


Time

10-15 minutes for the icebreaker (the recommended lessons will take longer.)

Description

This object lesson is a fun visual that reminds kids to trust God even when circumstances are looking bad. Use it as an icebreaker for a larger lesson. There is a little bit of “magic” and a little bit of science in this lesson that gives it some “Wow!” factor.

Materials

· Canning jar (“Mason jar”) with a screw-top lid and a removable insert

· Small piece of screening (like what covers your windows – enough to cover the top of the canning jar)

· Pitcher of water

· Piece of poster board – 3” x 3”

· If you don’t want to make your own jar, you can order one for approximately $10 from Steve Spangler Science (www.stevespanglerscience.com). It’s called the “Mysterious Water Suspension Trick.”

Preparation

· Cut the piece of screening so that it fits over the opening of the jar. You want some overlap so that the lid will hold the screening securely to the jar.

· Screw on the band part of the lid, but leave the removable insert out.

· You might want to laminate your poster board square but only if you plan on using it multiple times.

· Practice the trick. Flipping the jar upside down is the most challenging part.

· Practice the script.

Procedure

Use the following script (or modify to suit your needs):

  • “Hey, everybody! Who’s having a great day?” (Listen for responses, and select the most enthusiastic child to come up to the front.)
  • (To the child…) “Have you had a pretty good day so far?” (While you are asking, pour water from the pitcher into the jar. Don’t let them see the screening over the top.)
  • “Would you say that you’ve been a really good kid today?” (While you are asking, place the poster board square on top of the jar.)
  • “Would you say that you have you been really, really good today?” (While you are asking, flip the jar and the poster board square upside down, and hold them over the child’s head. Keep your hand under the poster board square so that it looks like you are supporting it. In reality, the water droplets inside the screening and the air pressure pushing up on the poster board will hold the card in place.)
  • (Ask the audience…) “What do you think? Has he/she been really, really good? …or should I pull away the card?” (Most will typically encourage you to pull it away, so with as much drama as you can muster, pull the card away. The water will stay in the jar. The water droplets develop surface tension inside the tiny holes in the screen. This and the fact that if you hold the jar perfectly level, no air can get in to replace and water that leaves, will hold the water in.)
  • “I guess you have been really, really good!” (Tilt jar just a little, and some water will pour out until you level out the jar again. The kids usually get a big kick out of their peer getting wet.)
  • “Oops. Maybe you weren’t quite that good.” (You can thank your volunteer and send him/her back to his/her seat. If you want, you can have other kids come up and try. Finish with the following tie-ins to your lesson.)
  • “Sometimes, things look really bad, like when I held the jar of water over his/her head.”
  • “Remember during those times to trust God.”
  • “He has the ability to do the impossible in your life (like stopping gravity), and He can turn the bad stuff into good.”
  • “The Bible says that God will make everything work for you if you know Him as your heavenly father.” (Romans 8:28)
  • “Things might look bad, and you may not be able to see a way for things to turn out okay, but God knows all things. He can make a way out where there seems to be no way.” (After your lesson, you can tell the kids how the trick works. They might even enjoy making their own water suspension jars to try out on their friends at home.)
  • Some recommended lessons on trusting God when things look bad that will work with this icebreaker:
    • Joseph (anything from Genesis 37 to 45)
    • Ruth (you might need to give a summary of the entire story)
    • David and Goliath (1 Samuel 17)
    • Elisha and the Widow’s Oil (2 Kings 4)
    • Elisha and the Shunammite’s Son (2 Kings 4)
    • Hezekiah and Sennacherib (2 Chronicles 32)
    • Esther (you might need to give a summary of the entire story)
    • Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-Nego (Daniel 3)
    • Daniel and the Lion’s Den (Daniel 6)
    • Jesus’ Arrest and Crucifixion (any of the Gospels)
    • Peter in Prison (Acts 12)

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Filed under faith, Fear, Hope, illusion, Magic, test, Witness