Monthly Archives: November 2010

7 Churches of Revelation (LESSON)


Audience

Youth and adults

Time

45-60 minutes
Description

This lesson uses John’s letter to seven churches in Asia Minor (a.k.a. the book of Revelation) to take a look at the churches of the current day and then to focus on an evaluation of our own church and even our own hearts.  The debrief is intended to lead individuals toward repentance.

 

Scriptures

  • Revelation 2-3

Materials

  • Printed copies of “7 Churches of Revelation – Chart” (can be found on the Lesson and Materials Download page at www.teachingthem.com)
  • Flipchart with paper
  • Markers
  • Bible

Preparation

  • Print copies of “7 Churches of Revelation – Chart” (one per participant).
  • Write the debrief questions and the individual reflection steps on a flipchart, but conceal them until it’s time to do the debrief. (Alternatively, you could put these on a PowerPoint slide and  project it.)
  • Practice the script.

 

Procedure

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

o  “In the book of Revelation in the Bible, John writes a message (really a letter) that comes directly from Jesus to seven churches in Asia Minor (current-day Turkey).”

o  “The seven churches are Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia and Laodicea.”

o  “Chapters 2 and 3 are specifically addressed to each of the seven churches one-by-one.”

o  “In these two chapters, Jesus gives an evaluation to the churches and calls several of them to repentance.”

o  “Bible scholars typically believe that there are three ways of understanding these two chapters.”

o  “The first is historical.  These churches actually existed and had the strengths and weaknesses mentioned in the letter.”

o  “The second is prophetic.  These churches can also represent ages in church history from the beginning of the Church in the book of Acts to the present day.”

o  “The third way to understand the descriptions of these churches is as types of different churches that typically all exist at any given time somewhere around the world.”

o  “This third way of understanding is our focus today.”

o  “We are going to use the descriptions of the seven churches to learn more about what can happen to any church depending on how it treats the claims, commands and the Person of Christ.”

o   “The church at Ephesus had lost its passion.”

o   “The church at Smyrna was under persecution but keeping their faith.”

o   “The church at Pergamum was following worldly ways and false teachers.”

o   “The church at Thyatira was compromising and tolerating false prophets and immorality related to sex, money and power.”

o   “The church of Sardis was spiritually dead.”

o   “The church at Philadelphia was small but spiritually alive.”

o   “The church at Laodicea was so rich that they had stopped depending on God for anything.”

o  “In your table groups, I would like to you to read through Revelation, chapters 2 and 3.  You can do it out loud or individually.”  (Allow time (5-10 min) for reading through the two chapters.  As they do, pass out the handouts of the charts to each table – one per participant.)

o  “I have passed out to you a chart that summarizes the descriptions of each of the churches.”

o  “It tells what their Strengths and Weaknesses are from Jesus’ perspective.”

o  “Then, it tells about Jesus’ Instruction, Warning and Promise to each church.”

o  “Read through this chart individually, and underline or highlight anything you want to remember.”

o  “Then, when everyone at the table is done reading, work through the questions on the flip chart at the front of the room.”  (Reveal the debrief questions.  Allow 15-20 minutes for discussion and individual reflection.  Then do a large group debrief to capture what they learned.)

o  “I want to give you an opportunity now to think about your own church and about your own spiritual condition.”

o  “Take some time in quiet, individual reflect to work through these steps.”  (Show the flipchart with the Individual Reflection steps, and allow 10-15 minutes for personal reflection.  Afterward, give an opportunity for anyone who feels especially led to share something that God put on their heart.)

o  “When a church or an individual has unconfessed sin in their life, it drives a wedge between them and God.”

o  “It doesn’t mean that they lose their ‘lampstand’ or their personal salvation, but it puts distance in the relationship.”

o  “In order to restore the relationship, the individuals in the church or the individual for himself has to confess and repent.”

o  “There is no restoration without repentance.”


Debrief Questions

1.     Do you feel these descriptions match churches that are in existence today?  Why or why not?

2.     Give some examples of churches today or from what you know of past churches or ages within the church.

3.     How do you know that these churches are like the ones described in Revelation?

4.     What do you think needs to be done for these churches (at least the ones that need to repent) to become the types of churches God wants them to be?

5.     What do you think will happen if they don’t repent?

 

Individual Reflection

1.     Which of the seven churches is most like your church?

2.     Why do you think that is?

3.     What needs to be done?

4.     Which of the seven churches is most like your heart?

5.     Why do you think that is?

6.     What needs to be done?

7.     Take some time now to talk to God in prayer.

a.     Confess any sins of your church or in your personal life that the Holy Spirit has brought to your attention.

b.     Repent of these sins, and commit to making changes that will please the Lord.

c.     Write down your commitments and put them someplace you will remember to look at them often.

 

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Filed under Church, Evaluation, John the Beloved, Lesson, Revelation

Repentance (DEVOTION)


The Bible has a lot to say about repentance.  In your groups, read through the following Scriptures, and then discuss the questions below.

o  Psalm 51:1-17 (Create in me a pure heart)

o  Proverbs 1:23 (Wisdom’s rebuke)

o  Jeremiah 15:19 (If you repent, I will restore you)

o  Jeremiah 17:7-8 (If that nation repents, I will relent)

o  Ezekiel 18:30-32 (Repent and live!)

o  2 Corinthians 7:8-11 (Godly sorry brings repentance)

o  Revelation 2:4-5 (You have forsaken your first love)

1.    How would you define repentance?

2.    In what ways do you think repentance before you know Christ compares to repentance after you know Christ?  (How are they the same; how are they different?)

3.    What are the benefits of repentance?

4.    What are the consequences of not repenting?  (Read Psalm 32 if you need some help.)

5.    How often should we repent?

 

After your discussion, take a few moments individually to sit quietly and ask the Holy Spirit to show you any areas in which you need to repent.  Take this opportunity to confess and repent in those areas as you pray.

 

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Filed under Confession, Devotion, Repentance

Reclaim the Promised Land (GAME)


Audience

Teens, Adults

Time

30-35 minutes
Description

This game helps participants to remember that we have an Enemy (Satan) and that he is constantly trying to take away from us what God has given to us.  If we don’t do battle for it, we can easily lose it.  The “Promised Land” in our lives can be anything that you want to focus on for this lesson (e.g., a people group for Christ, God’s purposes for our lives, our children, our marriages, our health….)

 

The Bible story is about Caleb, who received the hills of Hebron as a promise from God (Numbers 14:24).  In order to reclaim the land, though, Caleb had to fight against the Anakim (or Anakites), a fierce and giant people.  (Goliath, the giant that David defeated, was a descendent of the Anakim.)

 

Scriptures

o  Genesis 13:14-18

o  Numbers 14:24

o  Joshua 14:6-15

 

Materials

o  Gameboards (one for every two people – you can make these yourself or use the template in the file, “Reclaim the Promised Land – Game Kit.ppt” at www.teachingthem.com on the Lesson and Material Downloads page.

o  Rules & Instructions Sheet (one per pair of participants (you can find this in the same file)

o  Sample Game sheet (one per pair of participants (you can find this in the same file))

o  Debrief questions sheet (one per pair of participants (you can find this in the same file))

o  Game pieces (24 for each player – you can find these in the same file)

o  Cutting board or scissors

o  Glue stick

o  Ziplock bags (gallon size – one per pair of participants)

o  Bible

Preparation

o  Create a gameboard (one for every pair of participants), or print out the one in the file mentioned above.  (You can do variations of this game by creating larger gameboards and larger game pieces so that groups can compete against each other, or you could even do a life-size version by marking off the gameboard grid on the floor and making the participants into game pieces.  If you make the participants into game pieces, you will need to give them cards to hold or wear around their necks that are different colors on each side so that they can flip them to show who they belong to.)

o  Print out the game pieces in the file mentioned above (48 for each pair of participants).  There is a sheet of blue pieces and a sheet of red pieces.

o  Glue the two game pieces sheets together back-to-back so that the red pieces show on one side and the blue pieces show on the other.  The “Top” of each page is labeled so that you can line them up precisely.  (Be careful not to use too much glue that it creates bumps in the paper, but be sure to evenly coat the entire page before you glue the two sheets together.  If your glue coating isn’t even, some of your pieces might not stick together after you cut them up.)

o  Allow time for drying.

o  Cut the pieces out along the border lines.  If you were careful to line up the two sheets of paper, you will then have 48 game pieces that are red on one side and blue on the other.

o  Put a gameboard, 48 game pieces, a Rules & Instructions Sheet and a Debrief Questions sheet in a plastic zipper bag for each pair of participants.  (This will make it easier to pass out the games when it comes time.)

Procedure

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

  • “When Abraham (“Abram” at the time) left his people and his home, God took him to a new land and made him a promise.”  (Have a volunteer read Genesis 13:14-18.)
  • “God gave Abraham what was then known as the land of Canaan.”
  • “Abraham lived in it for some years, and so did his son, Isaac, and his grandson, Jacob, but then God took Abraham’s descendents into Egypt for about 400 years.”
  • “While in Egypt, they became slaves to the Egyptians and cried out to God for help.”
  • “God sent them Moses, who led them out of Egypt and showed them where the ‘Promised Land’ (promised to Abraham and his descendents) was.”
  • “Unfortunately, when they saw the enemies living in their land, they lacked the faith to trust God to help them reclaim it.”
  • “So, God made them wander in the desert for 40 years, until the old generation of Israelites had died and a new generation was ready to reclaim the Promised Land.”
  • “There were only two people left from the old generation who were allowed to enter the Promised Land.”
  • “Forty years earlier, Joshua and Caleb had scouted the land, seen the terrible enemies but still believed that God would give them the land.”
  • “For their faithfulness, God allowed them lead the rest of the people into the land.”
  • “God made Joshua the leader of all the Israelites, and He made Caleb a special promise.”  (Have a volunteer read Numbers 14:24.)
  • “Caleb remembered the promise, and even though he was 85 years by the time he was ready to claim it and even though the land was full of giants, he was still strong and ready to do battle against those enemies in order to reclaim it.”  (Have a volunteer read Joshua 14:6-15.)
  • “Caleb is an inspiration for us even today, because we are still engaged in a battle for ‘the Promised Land’ in our own lives.”
  • “’The Promised Land’ in your life is anything that God wants you to have that your Enemy, Satan, has taken away.”
  • “We’re going to play a game that deals with this ongoing battle, and I hope it will help you remember that you have to keep fighting to keep position of your ‘Promised Land.’”
  • “We’ve got to be like Caleb, who continued fighting the toughest enemies into his eighties!”  (Divide group into pairs.)
  • “I’m passing out to each pair a game kit, that has the gameboard, game pieces and rules and instructions for the game.”
  • “Please read over the rules and instructions, and let me know if you have any questions.”
  • “There is a ‘Sample Game’ sheet in your game kit that shows what a typical game might look like.”  (Allow them to read over the instructions and ask any questions before beginning.  Then, allow the pairs to play the game.  Afterward, have them discuss the Debrief Questions and then rejoin their table groups.  Conduct a large group debrief to capture some of the strategies for reclaiming territory Satan has stolen and for protecting territory we have already claimed from him.  Conclude with a final comment.   You can use the following one if you like.)
  • “While the Israelites were in Egypt, Satan stole the Promised Land from them.”
  • “But God had promised this land to Abraham’s people, and it was His will that they take it back.”
  • “While we or those who came before us have been in Egypt (Egypt usually represents sin, pride and trusting in our own efforts in the Bible), Satan has stolen much of the territory that God wants us to have.”
  • “It’s time for us to have the courage and determination of Caleb to reclaim our Promised Land.”
  • “We won’t get it without a fight, but if we trust in God, He will be faithful to give us victory.”

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Filed under Abraham, Abram, Caleb, Challenges, courage, faith, Game, Games that Teach, God's Plan, God's Will, Israel, Satan's tactics, Spiritual Warfare, struggles

Three’s Company (ICEBREAKER)


Audience

Children, Teens, Adults

Time

10 minutes
Description

This icebreaker helps people get to know each other a little better and increases the energy in the room.  The name is a borrowed from a popular American T.V. show by the same name from the 1970’s-80’s.  In the game, participants get a card with something on it that comes in threes.  They have to try to find their other two matches, introduce themselves to each other and figure out what the connection is between the three things.

 

This is also a great sorting activity if you need to put participants into groups of threes.

 

Materials

o  Note cards (one per participant)

o  Marker

Preparation

o  Create the note card sets by writing one of the three things or persons from the set of three on each card.  (For example, if you were doing “Father, Son and Holy Spirit,” write “Father” on one card, “Son” on another and “Holy Spirit” on a third card.  If you think that your group may not recognize a set of three, write the other two options at the bottom of each card to make it easier for them to find each other.

o   Some suggestions for groups of three are below.  Feel free to add your own or to not use any of these that would not be recognizable to your group.

§  Father, Son, Holy Spirit (3 Persons of the Trinity)

§  Friday, Saturday, Sunday (3 days Jesus was buried)

§  Shem, Ham, Japheth (Noah’s 3 sons)

§  Golden Jar of Manna, Aaron’s Staff, Stone Tablets with 10 Commandments (3 things in the Ark of the Covenant)

§  Casper, Melchior, Balthasar (3 Wise Men – traditionally)

§  Frankincense, Gold, Myrrh (3 gifts of the Wise Men – traditionally)

§  Abraham, Isaac, Jacob (3 Patriarchs)

§  Faith, Hope, Love (the “three that remain” according to Paul in 1 Corinthians 13:13)

§  Death, Burial, Resurrection (3 stages of Jesus’ atoning sacrifice)

§  Poverty, Chastity, Obedience (3 monastic vows)

§  The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers, The Return of the King (3 books in the Lord of the Rings trilogy)

§  The Lion, The Witch, The Wardrobe (3 parts of the famous children’s book by C.S. Lewis)

§  Birth, Life, Death (3 phases of life)

§  Larry, Moe, Curly (3 Stooges)

§  Nina, Pinta, Santa Maria (3 ships Columbus sailed)

§  Athos, Porthos, Aramis (3 Musketeers)

§  Reading, wRiting, aRithmetic (3 R’s of basic education)

§  Huew, Dewey, Louie (3 cousins of Donald Duck)

§  Protons, Neutrons, Electrons (3 parts of an atom)

§  Red, Green, Blue (3 primary colors)

§  Igneous, Metamorphic, Sedimentary (3 types of rocks)

§  Pyramid of Khufu, Pyramid of Khafre, Pyramid of Menkaure (3 Great Pyramids of Giza)

§  Carreras, Domingo, Pavarotti (3 Tenors)

§  Medusa, Stheno, Euryale (3 Gorgons)

§  Clotho, Lachesis, Atropos (3 Greek Faiths)

§  Paper, Scissors, Rock (3 choices in the hand game, “Rock, Paper, Scissors”)

§  Snap, Crackle, Pop (3 mascots of Kellogg’s Rice Crispies cereal)

§  Veni, Vidi, Vici (Julius Caesar’s famous comment about his short war with Pharnaces II of Pontus.  It means, “I came, I saw, I conquered.”)

§  Small, Medium, Large (3 sizes)

§  Ready, Aim, Fire (3 commands for a firing squad)

§  On Your Mark, Get Set, Go (3 commands for track and field racers)

§  Blossom, Bubbles, Buttercup (3 Powerpuff Girls)

o  Shuffle the cards well, and put some at each place where a participant will be sitting.

o  If you have a number of participants that won’t divide by three, you could take a card for yourself (if you just need one more person), or you could make duplicates of some cards.  Be sure to let the participants know that because there are some duplicates, some groups might have four people in them.

 

Procedure

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

  • “Time to get to know each other!”
  • “At your seat, you will find a notecard with something written on it.”
  • “In each case, what is written on your card is one part of something that comes in threes.”
  • “In just a moment, I want everyone to get up and go around the room looking for two other people who have cards that complete your set of three.”
  • “For example, if you had a card that said, ‘Knife,’ you would need to search for someone who has a card that says, ‘Fork,’ and another person who has a card that says, ‘Spoon.’”
  • “When you find that person, introduce yourself.” (Give them some direction about how they should introduce themselves.  Should they share their name, role within the company, number of brothers and sisters, where they are from, etc.?)
  • “Then, as a group, try to figure out what the connection is between the three thing mentioned on your cards.”  (Ask if anyone has any questions.  Then, let them find their matches.  After everyone is matched up, go around the room asking the groups to share their three cards and the connection between them.)

 

 

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Hot Potato Name Game (ICEBREAKER)


Time

10-15 minutes
Description

This fun icebreaker can be an energizing way to help participants learn each other’s names.  It gets its name from the popular children’s game.

 

Materials

o  Something to represent the “hot potato” (You can use an actual potato, a ball, or anything else that can be passed easily.  You’ll need one per group.)

o  A bell or noisemaker that makes a significantly loud sound

Preparation

o  None

 

Procedure

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

  • “We are going to play a game to help you get to know each other.”
  • “It’s called the Hot Potato Name Game, and it works like this.”  (Hold up one of the “hot potatoes.”)
  • “This is a ‘hot potato.’”
  • “Because it’s hot, you don’t want to hold onto it too long, or it will burn your fingers.”
  • “So, if the ‘hot potato’ is passed to you, you should pass it to someone else in your group.”
  • “But the tricky part is, you can’t pass it until you say the name of the person you are passing it to.”
  • “If you can’t remember anyone’s name, you have to keep holding the ‘hot potato’ until you do.”
  • “And if you have the ‘hot potato’ when I ring this bell (or make a noise with the noisemaker), you just got burned, and you are out of the game.”
  • “I will ring the bell at different times each round, so you better be fast at getting rid of your ‘hot potato.’”
  • “To get us started, I am going to put you into groups in small circles and have you go around your circle and introduce yourself.”  (Tell them what you want them to say when they introduce themselves.  Do you want them to just say their names, or would you like them to tell one or two things about themselves?  You might want them to each say their names several times so that everyone has a chance to memorize them.)
  • (Ask the group if they have any questions.  Then, put them in their small groups (about 8-10 people each), and let them do their introductions.)
  • (After about five minutes, give them their ‘hot potatoes’ and let them start passing.)
  • (After a few minutes, ring the bell, and have the person with the ‘potato’ step out of the circle.)
  • (Then, passing begins again.  This continues until you have only 2-3 people left in each group.)

 

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Filed under Game, Icebreaker, Names

Out of Orbit (Obj Lesson)


Time

10-15 minutes
Description

This object lesson teaches about how difficult it can be for us to stay focused on following Jesus.

 

Scriptures

  • Philippians 3:12-14

Materials

  • A toy rocket or spaceship (or if you don’t have anything like that, improvise with a cardboard tube or just about anything else – the kids won’t mind)
  • One large ball (preferably yellow or orange)
  • Several smaller balls of varying sizes
  • Permanent marker
  • Index cards (one for each ball)
  • Tape
  • Bible

Preparation

  • Write the following words on different index cards, “SON,” “WORLD,” “Jealousy,” “Bitterness,” “Selfishness,” “Unkindness,” “Worry,” “Doubt,” “Foolishness,” “Pride,” “Fear,” “Greed,” “Ignorance,” or any others that you want to use.  The only ones that are required are the “SON” card and the “WORLD” card.
  • Tape these cards onto different balls.  The “SON” card should be taped to the largest ball.
  • Practice the script.

 

Procedure

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

  • “Do any of you ever have trouble staying focused on following God?”  (Acknowledge responses.)
  • “Me, too!  It’s so hard to always do what is right and stay on the path toward Him.”
  • “We are kind of like a rocket ship heading toward the sun (but actually, we are headed to the S-O-N, because we won’t burn up when we reach Him!)”  (Ask for enough volunteers to hold all the props you’ve brought – one for the rocket ship and one for each ball.  Put the person holding the “SON” ball at one end of the room, and place the person with the “WORLD” ball and the person with the rocket ship at the other end of the room.  Space those with the balls along either side of the path between the large ball and the rocket ship.)
  • “Before we know Jesus, we are stuck in the WORLD’s orbit.”  (Guide the person with the rocket ship by the shoulders to make several orbits around the person with the “WORLD” ball.”
  • “But then, we catch a glimpse of the SON and decide we want to follow Him.”
  • “We break free from the WORLD’s orbit and start heading toward the SON.”  (Guide the person with the rocket ship slowly toward the SON, but as soon as you get to the first person with a ball on the path, break off and orbit around that person.”
  • “Unfortunately, on the way to the SON, we get distracted by ________ (name whatever is printed on the card on the ball), and we go into orbit around it for a while.” (Keep going around this person.)
  • “The more times we go around _____________ (say what is on the ball again), the more we hate it, but it is soooooooo hard to break free from its gravitational pull!”  (Keep going around this person.)
  • “We keep seeing the SON every time we pass around __________________ (say the name of the ball), and eventually, His power pulls us free of the orbit of the dead planet we have been circling.”  (Break free and start back toward the SON.)
  • “Not everything is a temptation for us, so we will be able to pass some of these dead planets without any problem, but our Enemy, Satan, is not going to give us up without a fight.
  • “He will put a very tempting planet in our path, and sure enough, we will get distracted looking at it and get sucked into its gravitational pull!” (Guide the person with rocket to begin orbiting this new dead planet.)
  • “Even though the planet looked tempting from a distance, when we get close to it, we find that it is empty and lifeless.  It doesn’t satisfy.”
  • “The SON won’t let us forget Him.  We will see Him on every orbit, and eventually, He will pull us free from that dead planet and set us back on the path toward Him.”  (Guide the person with the rocket to break away and head toward the Son.)
  • “This keeps happening over and over and over again.  It’s very frustrating!”  (Guide the person with the rocket to get sucked into one orbit and then break away and then get sucked into another orbit and so on….)
  • “But there is good news!  The closer we get to the SON, the easier it gets to break free from these temptations.”
  • “We get stronger and stronger in our faith and our ability to resist temptation, and we stay longer and longer on the path toward the SON.”
  • “We just need to keep striving to reach the SON.  Paul says in his letter to the Philippians, “Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:12-14)
  • “Paul was saying that he doesn’t look back at what’s behind him; he just keeps straining toward what is ahead of him.”
  • “He keeps his ship pointed toward the SON, and when he gets off-course, he gets back on-course as soon as possible to follow the SON.”
  • “One day, it will be time, and the SON will bring us the rest of the way to Him when we join Him in heaven (or when He comes back to join us on earth).  (Guide the person with the rocket ship to the SON and have him orbit the SON several times before ending the lesson.)

 

 

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Filed under Challenges, Daily walk, God's Will, Jesus, Obedience, Object Lesson, Pride, Repentance, sanctification, Satan's tactics, Spiritual Growth, temptation

Abraham’s Tests (Lesson)


Time

30-35 minutes
Description

This lesson teaches about how God tested Abraham when He asked him to sacrifice Isaac.

 

Scriptures

  • Genesis 12:1-3; 15:1-6; 17:19-20; 22:1-19
  • Hebrews 11:17-19

Materials

  • Whiteboard, chalkboard or flipchart
  • Marker
  • Bible

Preparation

  • Practice the script.

 

Procedure

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

  • “Raise your hand if your parents have ever tracked how tall you are growing by putting a mark on a wall right above your head.”  (Acknowledge raised hands.)
  • “My mom used to do that, too.”
  • “I want to see how quickly we can do it today up at this board (or flipchart).”
  • “Everyone line up over here, and then come up and let me mark your height on the board.”  (As each participant comes up, make a mark above their heads and put his/her name beside it.  Try to keep everyone’s marks clustered in the center, because you are going to draw a large heart around them.  You might even want to use the two tallest participants as the top of the heart and then taper the marks toward the bottom.  Don’t draw the heart shape yet, though. )
  • “Wow, we’ve got a lot of different heights in this room!”
  • “So, this is how your parents’ might have tracked your height.”
  • “God does something similar, but He’s not tracking your height; He tracking your heart.” (Draw a heart shape around all the measurements.)
  • “God is much less interested in your height than He is in your heart, so every once in a while, He measures your heart to see how spiritually mature it is.”
  • “You could say that if God measured you, and you were down here (put your hand near the bottom of the heart) that you are not very mature spiritually.”
  • “But if you were way up here (put your hand near the top of the heart), you would be very spiritually mature.”
  • “Does anyone know how God measures the spiritual maturity of our hearts?”  (Listen for responses.  What you want to hear is that He tests us.)
  • “Right!  God tests us to measure the spiritual maturity of our hearts!”
  • “The story I’m going to tell you about today is about a person who was VERY spiritually mature.”
  • “He was very old, and he had followed the Lord for a very long time.”
  • “His name was Abram, but you might know him better as Abraham.”
  • “Have any of you heard of him?”  (Look for a show of hands.)
  • “Great! Well, there is a lot to tell about the story of Abraham, but we are going to focus on one of the times in his life when God was giving him a test to measure the spiritual maturity of his heart.”
  • “This part of his story started when he was 75 years old.”
  • “God made him a very special but very surprising promise.”  (Ask a volunteer to read Genesis 12:1-3.)
  • “God promised to make Abraham (at this point, his name was just Abram) into a great nation.”
  • “This had to be surprising to Abraham, because he didn’t have any children at the age of 75.”
  • “His name, Abram, meant ‘exalted father,’ and it must have felt like a joke to him and may have even been a very painful reminder that he didn’t have anyone to carry on his name.”
  • “But Abraham believed God, and it’s a good thing he did, because this was one of God’s tests.” (Mark a line on the heart about one-third up from the bottom, and write “Abram” or “Abraham” beside it.)
  • “Abraham left his family and went to a place that God showed him.”
  • “Years later, Abraham still didn’t have any children when God appeared to him in a vision.”  (Have a volunteer read Genesis 15:1-6.)
  • “You see, it’s okay to tell God exactly how you feel.”
  • “Abraham complained to God that God had made a promise but nothing had changed.”
  • “So, God made His promise a little more clear and told him that he would definitely have a child..and not just one, but many, many, many…as many as the starts in the sky.”
  • “And Abraham believed him, and it was a good thing he did, because this was another one of God’s tests.” (Mark a line on the heart about halfway up from the bottom, and write “Abram” or “Abraham” beside it.)
  • “Years later, Abraham was 99 years old and had a son.”
  • “Abraham thought this boy, Ishmael, was God’s promise to him.”
  • “Unfortunately, it wasn’t the son that God had promised but a son that came from a mistake Abraham had made when he thought God needed his help making God’s promise come true.”
  • “So, God appeared to Abraham again to help him understand.”  (Have a volunteer read Genesis 17:19-20.)
  • “God got very specific this time and even told Abraham the name of the promised child.”
  • “This was actually the time that God gave Abram his new name, Abraham, which means ‘father of many nations.’”
  • “Abraham laughed at the promise at first (since he was 99, and his wife was 90 – pretty old to be having children), but then he believed God.”
  • “And it’s a good thing he did, because this was one of God’s tests.” (Mark a line on the heart about one-third down from the top, and write “Abraham” beside it.)
  • “One year later, Abraham and Sarah (his wife) had a baby boy, and they loved him very, very much!”
  • “Years passed, and Isaac grew strong and tall.”
  • “Probably about the time that he was a teenager, Abraham was tested by God again.”
  • “And since Abraham was spiritually mature, this test was a really tough one!”
  • “God wanted to know who was more important in Abraham’s heart – Isaac or God?”  (Have volunteer read Genesis 22:1-2.)
  • “This sounds like a terrible test!”
  • “How could God ask Abraham to sacrifice his promised son?”
  • “But Abraham trusted God and knew that even if Isaac died, God could raise him back to life.”
  • “We know that was what Abraham was thinking, because the Bible tells us so.”  (Have volunteer read Hebrews 11:17-19.)
  • “So Abraham obeyed God, and it’s a good thing he did, because this was one of God’s tests.” (Mark a line on the heart a little higher than the last one and write “Abraham” beside it.  Then have a volunteer read Genesis 22:3-5.)
  • “I know this had to be tearing Abraham up in side.  Three days walking with your son, knowing that you were going to offer him as a sacrifice!”
  • “But Abraham kept trusting God every step of the way.”  (Mark a line on the heart a little higher than the last one and write “Abraham” beside it.  Then, have a volunteer read Genesis 22:6-8.)
  • “Do you hear Abraham’s faith? ‘God Himself will provide the lamb…’” (Mark a line a little higher.  Then have a volunteer read Genesis 22:9-12.)
  • “Wow!  That was close!  But you have to understand that God never intended for Abraham to actually sacrifice Isaac.”
  • “God says in another part of Scripture that He must NOT be worshiped by human sacrifice.”  (Deuteronomy 12:31)
  • “God had his angel standing on the ready the entire time, but the test wasn’t complete until Abraham showed that he was actually willing to sacrifice his son.”
  • “Abraham proved that he loved God more than he loved Isaac and that he believed God could bring Isaac back from the dead.”  (Make a mark at the top of the heart, and write “Abraham” next to it.  Then have a volunteer read Genesis 22:13-19.)
  • “When Abraham passed God’s test, God provided a another way that Abraham hadn’t even imagined.”
  • “God provided a substitute for Isaac.”
  • “Instead of Isaac dying, the ram would die.”
  • “And because Abraham passed this test, he got to be part of a very special story – the story about Jesus.”
  • “This story of Abraham and Isaac is a lot like the story of Jesus, and there are clue all the way through.  Can anyone tell me something from this story that is like the story of Jesus?”  (Listen for responses.  Here are some possible answers that you might want to bring it if they aren’t mentioned:

o   Abraham was willing to sacrifice his son just like God was willing to sacrifice His Son, Jesus.

o   Isaac was going to be an offering for sin, just like Jesus.

o   The journey took three days, which reminds us that Jesus was buried for three days.

o   Isaac carried the wood that he was going to be sacrificed on, just like Jesus carried His cross.

o   Isaac asked where they would get the lamb for the sacrifice, and Abraham told him that God would provide the lamb.  God did provide Jesus as the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world.

o   Isaac apparently was willing to die, just like Jesus, because there is no mention of a struggle (a struggle Isaac surely would have won, since his father was over 100 years old, and he would have been a teenager).

o   The ram was caught in the thickets, a thorny bush, which reminds us that Jesus wore a crown of thorns.

o   An angel was present at both this event and the resurrection of Jesus.  You could say that Isaac also had a type of resurrection, since he was meant to die on the altar.)

  • “You see, this story points us to Jesus.”
  • “Some people call it a type or a shadow of the story of Jesus.  I prefer ‘shadow,’ because a shadow lets you know ahead of time if someone is coming around a corner.  And this type of story tells us ahead of time that Jesus is coming.”
  • “Jesus died for us so that we don’t have to.”
  • “The Bible says that the wages (or payment) for sin is death, and Jesus paid that payment for us on the cross.”
  • “He was our substitute, like the ram in the thicket.”
  • “And because Jesus paid for our sins, we get to live for eternity, forever and ever with Jesus in heaven.”
  • “What I want you to remember from today’s lesson are these few things:

o   God will test the spiritual maturity of your heart many times during your life as a Christian.

o   This test is not really for God to know your maturity; he already knows.  They are for you to recognize how mature you have become.

o   The more mature you get, the bigger the tests God will give you.

o   When you pass a test, God blesses you and uses you to bless others.”

 

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