This object lesson shows how God uses both good and bad things in our life to make us into the person we are. It uses the analogy of baking a cake with all its ingredients.
- Flour (about half a cup)
- Baking soda (about half a cup)
- Salt (about half a cup)
- Vinegar (about half a cup)
- Baking powder (about half a cup)
- Unsweetened cocoa powder (about half a cup)
- Sugar (about half a cup)
- Eggs (2)
- Milk (about half a cup)
- Vegetable oil (about half a cup)
- Plastic spoons (10)
- Snack cakes (10 – chocolate flavor – something from Little Debbie’s or something similar)
- Table (1)
- Chef costume (optional – apron, chef’s hat wooden spoon, etc.)
- Slip of paper with Romans 8:28 written on it.
- Line your ingredients up in small containers on a table in the front of the room.
- Place a spoon in front of each ingredient.
- Write the Scripture on the slip of paper, and put the slip of paper in your chef’s hat or somewhere else you can easily get to it during the lesson.
- Hide the snack cakes somewhere that no one will be able to see them.
- Practice the script.
Use the following script (or modify to suit your needs):
- “How many of you like cake?” (Acknowledge responses.)
- “Me, too! I love it!”
- “Hey, if you like cake, maybe you can help me with something!”
- “Can I get ten volunteers to come up front?” (Select 10 volunteers. Have each one take up a position behind one of the ingredients. If you don’t have enough participants, have some of them taste more than one ingredient in the upcoming demonstration.)
- “So, I like cake a lot, and you like cake a lot, right?”
- “Then, let’s make some cake!”
- “I have this recipe.” (Hold up a sheet of paper to represent your recipe.)
- “It says we need flour, baking soda, salt, vinegar, baking powder, cocoa, sugar, eggs, milk, and vegetable oil.” (Point out the different ingredients as you mention them.)
- “That’s why I need you guys. Each one of you is responsible for one of these ingredients.”
- “So, let’s see…the recipe says, ‘Preheat oven to 350 degrees.’”
- “Oops, I forgot to do that part.”
- “’Grease and flour two, nine-inch cake pans.’”
- “Uh-oh…I didn’t do that, either.”
“’Mix all the ingredients for three minutes. Then pour into cake pans and bake in over for 35 minutes…’”
- “35 minutes! That’s WAY too long! We don’t have that kind of time.”
- “I’ve got a better idea!”
- “Let’s just eat the ingredients one at a time.”
- “They are all going to the same place anyway, right?”
- “When they get to our bellies, they will mix together to make a cake!”
- “So, here’s where I need your help!”
- “I need each of you to take one spoonful of your ingredient and tell us how it tastes.” (Most won’t want to try their ingredient, but urge them a few times. If they still don’t want to do it, say, “Oh, all right! I’ll try it.” Then, make a big show of how bad it tastes. Gag, sputter, buckle your knees, gasp, whatever… Even if they try their ingredient first, you should also try it. The only exception would be the eggs, because eating raw eggs might make you sick.)
- “That was absolutely terrible!”
- “Only the sugar and milk tasted good.”
- “I love cake, and it always tastes soooooo good! Why do the ingredients taste soooooo bad?” (Acknowledge responses.)
- “Oh! You mean they only taste good when you mix them all together?”
- “That reminds me of a Bible verse!” (Take off your hat, and pull out the slip of paper with the Scripture on it. Ask one of your volunteers to read it aloud.)
- “This Scripture means that God uses ALL THINGS for our good – good things and bad things – good ingredients like the sugar and milk and bad ingredients like the baking soda and vinegar.”
- “God mixes them all together in our lives to help make us into the people He wants us to become.”
- “This won’t happen right away…it will take time.”
- “Many times in life, we have to go through tings that are really bitter and unpleasant.”
- “At the time, they seem terrible, but God has a recipe, and He will take that bad thing and make something good out of it if we will just be patient and wait for Him to work.”
- “But if we will trust God with even the bitter stuff in our lives, He will bring the sweetness out – just like in these cakes that I forgot I bought this weekend!!!” (Give each volunteer one of the snack cakes.)
- “How do those taste?” (Acknowledge responses. Then thank and dismiss your volunteers. Use the Debriefing Questions and the Rhyme Time below to reinforce the learning.)
- Why do you think God allows us to go through the bitter and difficult things in our lives?
- Have you ever been through something terrible but then seen later how God used it to help you? (Allow one or two to share their examples.)
- Based on what you’ve learned, how will you handle those bitter and difficult times in the future?
Sometimes we’ve got to wait
For God to make it great!
This object lesson shows how God can protect us during times of suffering and temptation. It uses some science and some surprising ways to keep balloons from popping even when pierced or put over a flame.
- Balloons (3 per child and 5 for facilitator (includes a few extras just in case))
- Wooden skewers (2 per child and 2 for facilitator)
- Vegetable oil (just a little to dip the skewers in)
- Duct tape (1 roll)
- Candle with a stand (1 set)
- Matches or a lighter
- Medicine dropper (1 – for putting water into a balloon before you blow it up)
- Water (1 cup per group)
- Get your materials ready.
- Practice the script.
Use the following script (or modify to suit your needs):
- “Did you know that bad stuff happens to everyone – even Christians?” (Listen for responses.)
- “If you don’t follow Jesus, you’ll be like this balloon when bad stuff happens.” (Blow up and tie a balloon.)
- “This wooden skewer represents bad stuff that happens to them.” (Use the skewer to pop the balloon.)
- “That’s not good! I don’t want to be like that balloon, do you?” (Listen for responses.)
- “But Christians don’t have to worry, because God protects them when bad stuff happens.” (Have a volunteer read Psalm 32:7. Then, blow up and tie another balloon, this time about halfway to two-thirds full.)
- “Even Christians are still like this balloon, but they have something special.” (Put a piece of duct tape over the balloon on two different sides.)
- “They have God’s covering to protect them when bad stuff happens.” (Slowly twist the skewer through the tape, through the balloon and through the other side. Then show it to the kids.)
- “Pretty cool, huh? The bad thing still happened to the balloon, but this time, it didn’t pop, because it had God’s covering.”
- “God know where our weak areas are, and He will protect us in those places.”
- “God protects us in another way, too.” (Blow up and tie another balloon about halfway to two-thirds full. Take one of the skewers, and dip it into the vegetable oil. Carefully twist the skewer into the nipple of the balloon (the thickest part at the very top) and then though the other side close to where you tied the knot.)
- “Oil in the Bible often represents the anointing of the Lord. God anoints us when He has something special and difficult for us to do, and the anointing protects us from Satan’s attacks.”
- “I know one more way God protects us!” (Light the candle. Use the medicine dropper to put one dropper-full of water into a balloon. Blow up the balloon and tie it with the water inside. Hold the balloon over the flame of the candle. You can even allow the flame to touch the balloon where the water settles.)
- “If we will fill ourselves with Living Water by reading God’s Word every day, He will protect us from popping when Satan turns up the heat in our lives.” (Pass out balloons and other materials to the kids, and let them try the three experiments. Help them if they need it to tie balloons, pierce balloons with skewers and hold balloons over the flame. When they’ve all had a chance to try, discuss the Debrief Questions below. You can use the Rhyme Time to reinforce the main point of the lesson.)
- Why didn’t the balloons pop when the skewers went through them?
- How about when you put the balloon over the flame?
- How is this like how God protects us during times of suffering?
- If you have to go through a time of suffering in the future, how will you handle it?
We have God’s covering
To protect us when we’re suffering.
This game teaches about the gates of Jerusalem during Nehemiah’s time and uses them as a metaphor for how we should conduct our Christian Walk. Participants will play a dice and memory game to familiarize themselves with the gates and the lessons that they teach.
- Printouts of the file, “Gates of Jerusalem – Cards.” (You can download this file from the website www.teachingthem.com on the Lesson and Material Downloads page.)
- Dice (2)
- Small candies to use for rewards for right answers (enough for everyone to have 2-3 pieces each)
- Lamination sheets and a laminator (optional – best if you plan to play the game multiple times)
- Nehemiah 3
- Psalm 23:4, 119:97-98
- Matthew 4:19, 24:27
- John 1:29, 7:38
- 2 Corinthians 10:3-5
- Ephesians 6:10-17
- Hebrews 12:1-2
- 1 John 1:9
- Revelation 19:11, 22:12
- Print the file “Gates of Jerusalem – Cards.” (in color, preferably)
- Cut out the pictures and their descriptions. (Be careful not to separate the pictues form the descriptions underneath them.)
- Fold the pictures over so that the descriptions are on the opposite side.
- Glue the two sides together.
- Laminate all the cards. (optional)
- Arrange the cards according to the order pictured on the second slide in the file with the cards.
- Mark the Scriptures in your Bible with a bookmark so that they will be easy to find.
- Practice the script.
Use the following script (or modify to suit your needs):
- “We’re going to play a game to teach us about the gates of Jerusalem during the time of Nehemiah.”
- “We can read about these gates in chapter 3 of the book of Nehemiah.”
- “In this chapter, Nehemiah organizes everyone to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem so that they can protect themselves and their Temple from their enemies.”
- “The gates he mentions in the story were real gates at the time, but we can also use them as a reminder about how we should live as Christians.” (Point out the cards you’ve laid out in the shape of the walls of Jerusalem.)
- “These cards represent the walls and gates of Jerusalem.”
- “The ones that look like rocks are the parts of the wall. They don’t move.”
- “The ones with pictures on them represent the gates, and you can open the gates by turning over the card.” (As you go through the next part of the script, turn over the cards and read the descriptions on the opposite side. Then, return the cards to their original position with the picture showing up.)
- “The first gate is the Sheep Gate. It was used to bring sheep into the city for sacrifices, and it was very close to the Temple for this reason. It reminds us that Jesus went to the cross like a sacrificial lamb. We should remember that He died to pay for our sins. When we accept this gift, we become Christians.” (Have a volunteer read John 1:29.)
- “This first gate represents the gate we walk through when we give our hearts to Jesus.”
- “The second gate is the Fish Gate. This gate was used by fishermen to bring their fish into Jerusalem to sell. It reminds us that as followers of Jesus, He is calling us to become “fishers of men.” That means that we should try to help others know about Jesus.” (Have a volunteer read Matthew 4:19.)
- “The third gate is the Old Gate. We aren’t sure why it was called the Old Gate, but it may have been because it was part of an older city and brought to Jerusalem. It reminds us that God’s Truth is older than time. When Satan tries to trick us with lies, we should use God’s Truth to fight against him.” (Have a volunteer read Ephesians 6:10-17.)
- “The fourth gate is the Valley Gate. It opened into a valley on the west side of the city of Jerusalem. Mountaintops are exciting, but valleys are hard. They represent the difficult things we go through that help us depend on God and make us stronger. There is nothing growing above the treeline on a mountain, but valleys are typically lush with growth.” (Have a volunteer read Psalm 23:4.)
- “The fifth gate is the Dung Gate. This is the gate that led to the Valley of Hinnom, where the people burned their garbage. This gate represents how God uses the valleys in our lives to show us some of our garbage and sinfulness. When God shows us what is sinful and bad in us, we should get rid of it like smelly garbage (or poop!) so that we can follow Jesus.” (Have a volunteer read Hebrews 12:1-2.)
- “The sixth gate is the Fountain Gate. It was at the end of the Pool of Siloam, and provided refreshing waters for the people of the city. It represents the streams of Living Water that should flow from us to bless others. Once we have gotten rid of the ‘dung’ in our lives, God’s Living Waters (which represent God’s Word and His Spirit) can flow through us.” (Have a volunteer read John 7:38.)
- “The seventh gate is the Water Gate. This gate was at the beginning of a famous tunnel that King Hezekiah dug to bring water into the city in case enemy armies lay siege to Jerusalem. Because the water came through a tunnel, it couldn’t be poisoned by their enemies. The Water Gates reminds us that we should wash every day in the Word of God by reading our Bibles. God’s Word is always pure, and Satan can’t poison it.” (Have a volunteer read Psalm 119:97-98.)
- “The eighth gate is the Horse Gate. It was the gate where the horses were taken for water. Horses in the Bible represent war, so this gate reminds us that we should always be ready to do battle with spiritual forces of evil. (Have a volunteer read 2 Corinthians 10:3-5.) It is also pointing forward to the time when Jesus will come again. The Bible says He will come again riding on a white horse. (Have a volunteer read Revelation 19:11.)
- “The ninth gate is the East Gate. It was on the east side of the city and faced the Mountain of Olives. This gate is very important for Jews and Christians, because the Bible tells us that Jesus will come the second time from the East. This gate reminds us to have hope because Jesus is coming again.” (Have a volunteer read Matthew 24:27.)
- “The tenth and final gate is the Inspection Gate (or Muster Gate). It opened to a road that led to Miphkad (“appointed place”). This is where the people were numbered for the Temple tax. It reminds us that we should take time at the end of each day to allow God to review the day with us. If He brings to mind sins we have done, we should confess them and ask for forgiveness. (Have a volunteer read 1 John 1:9.) It also points forward to the time when Jesus comes again. There will be a time of judgment for believers called the Bema Judgment. At this time, He will evaluate all that we have done and reward us for our good works. (There is no punishment at this judgment.).” (Have a volunteer read Revelation 22:12.)
- “In the story in Nehemiah, he mentions the Sheep Gate again at the end of chapter 3. This is to remind us that everything begins and ends with Jesus and that He is coming again.”
- “So, here’s how to play the game.”
- “The youngest person goes first.”
- “He or she rolls two dice and then has to tell us the name of the gate for the number he/she rolls and what the gate means.” (Point out the numbers in the upper, right-hand corner of each gate picture. The Sheep gate is numbered both 1 and 11, because it is mentioned twice in the story.)
- “For example, if you roll a 2 and a 3, that equals 5. You would have to tell us the name and meaning of the Dung Gate.”
- “If you roll a 12, the person on your left gets to pick which gate you have to tell us about.”
- “If you get it right (or mostly right), you get a piece of candy!”
- “After your turn, the person on your right gets to roll.”
- “Ready to play? (Play several rounds. Then, you can use the Rhyme Time below to reinforce the message and the Debrief Questions to apply the lesson to their personal lives.)
When gate meanings are unlocked
We understand our Christian walk.
- Which gates are hard for you to understand? (Explain to help make their meaning clearer.)
- What gates have you already gone through in your life?
- What was that like?
- Which gate do you think is the coolest? Why?
- Who could you teach about the gates?
Filed under Game, Nehemiah