Category Archives: Belief

Knock, Knock! (GAME)


Time

10-15 minutes
Description

This game is a bit of a “Knock, Knock” joke about Peter’s situation when he was released from prison by an angel.  Even though the believers had prayed for a miracle, they didn’t really believe one would happen and were surprised when he showed up at their prayer meeting.  Children will sit in a circle and try to say the right thing when it becomes their turn.  If they say the wrong thing or hesitate, they are out.

 

Scriptures

  • Acts 12:12-17

 

Materials

  • Bible

 

Preparation

  • Select a space to play the game.
  • Practice the script.

 

Procedure

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

  • “Peter was once locked in prison by King Herod, but an angel came during the night and released him in a miraculous way.”
  • “All the Christian believers had been praying together for him, but they were totally surprised when he knocked at their door.”
  • “Let’s read about it.”  (Have volunteer read Acts 12:12-17.)
  • “That’s pretty funny, huh?”
  • “They were praying for a miracle, but they didn’t believe it when it happened!”
  • “Let’s play a game about this story.”
  • “Everyone sit in a circle.” (Have children arrange themselves in a circle.)
  • “I’m going to pick someone to start, and that person will say, ‘Knock, knock’ to the person on their right.”
  • “The second person will say, ‘Who’s there?’ and the first person will respond, ‘It’s Peter?’” (You might want to practice this much so that they don’t get confused.)
  • “Then, the second person will turn to the person on their right and say, ‘It’s Peter!’”
  • “The third person will then deny that it’s Peter to the person on their right.”
  • “For example, person #3 could turn to person #4 and say, ‘No it’s not!’”
  • “Then the forth person and everyone after them has to turn to the person on their right and deny that it’s Peter in a different way.”
  • “For example, person #4 could turn to person #5 and say, ‘That’s impossible!’”
  • “And person #5 might turn to person #6 and say, ‘Unbelievable!’”
  • “And person #6 might turn to person #7 and say, ‘You’re making that up!’” (You might want to practice this once so that they get the idea.)
  • “This continues all the way around until even ‘Peter’ (the first person) denies that it’s him!!!”
  • “This starts a new round, and person #2 (who said ‘Who’s there?’ in the first round) now becomes Peter and turns to the person on their right to say, ‘Knock, knock.’”
  • “This continues until someone hesitates, says the wrong thing or uses the same denial someone else used in the same round.  If they do, that person is out.”
  • “The game is over when there are only two people left.”
    • “Does anyone have any questions?”  (Answer questions, and then start the game. Play several rounds, starting with different people each time.  Then ask the Debrief Questions below.)

 

Debrief Questions

  1. Would you have believed it was Peter at the door?  Why or why not?
  2. Why was it so hard for the “believers” to believe in this situation?
  3. Have you ever prayed for something and been surprised when God gave you what you asked for?  What happened?
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Filed under Belief, faith, Game, Miracle, Peter, prayer

Would You Die for a Lie? (LESSON)


 

Time

30 minutes

 

Description

This lesson makes the case to prove Jesus’ resurrection by stressing the commitment of the apostles to defending it as truth.  Aside from Judas, they were all eyewitnesses of Jesus’ resurrection, and ten of them died a martyr’s death because they wouldn’t renounce it. (All the gory details about the martyrdom of the Apostles is provided in this lesson, but care should be given to the age of the children when deciding how much information to share.)

 

Scriptures

  • Acts

 

Materials

  • The following supporting materials can be found at www.teachingthem.comon the Lesson and Material Downloads page.
    • “Would You Die for a Lie? – Apostles Faces” (Pictures of the Apostles that volunteers can hold up while you tell about them.)
    • “Would You Die for a Lie? – Where the Apostles Preached” (A PowerPoint slide that shows a map of Europe, Africa and the Middle East and all the places that the Apostles took the Good News.)
  • Computer, LCD projector and screen (to show the map)
  • Paint stir sticks or large Popsicle sticks (12)
  • Paper plates (12)
  • Glue

 

Preparation

  • Print apostle face pictures.
  • Glue pictures to paper plates and then to paint stir sticks to make handles.
  • Put these face pictures near the front of your teaching area, where you can easily reach them.
  • Set up projector and screen and get the map ready to project.
  • Practice the script.

 

Procedure

Use the following script, or modify to suit your needs:

  • “Do you ever wonder what happened to the twelve apostles who followed Jesus?”
  • “Well, the Bible only tells us about a few of them.”
  • “Most of what we know comes from historians who wrote about the time of Jesus and the beginning of the Christian Church.”
  • “So, here’s what we know.”  (Project the map in the file, “Would You Die for a Lie? – Where The Apostles Preached.”  Invite 12 volunteers to come up, and hand them the face signs you created. Have them hold the signs up to cover their faces.  Line them up in this order: James (the Greater), Andrew, Philip, Bartholomew (Nathanael), Matthew, Thomas, James, Simon, Thaddeaus, Judas, John, Peter.  As you tell about each man’s martyrdom, have the volunteer take a seat.)
  • “It all started in this tiny piece of land, called Israel.”  (Indicate Israel on the map.)
  • “Can you believe how small that is?” (Point out Africa, Europe and the Middle East on the map so that the kids will get an idea for where Israel is in relation to them.)
  • “Jesus trained 12 Apostles to take the good news (the Gospel) to all the world.”
  • “The Apostles took their job (the Great Commission) seriously, as you will see!”
  • “Let’s start with James – he was one of the ‘Sons of Thunder’ and one of Jesus’ closest friends on earth, but he became the first Apostle to become a martyr – which is a person who dies for what they believe.”
    • “Herod Agrippa I had James arrested, and when he saw that the Jewish leaders hated James, he had him beheaded.”
    • “This made Herod so popular that he thought he might do the same thing to Peter, but Peter was freed from Herod’s jail by an angel.”
    • “So, James didn’t travel to any of the other places on the map.” (Have volunteer take a seat.)
  • “But then there was Andrew– he was the Apostle who was always bringing people to Jesus.”
    • “He brought Peter, he brought the young boy with the loaves and the fishes, and he brought some Greeks to Jesus.”
    • “After Jesus rose to heaven, Andrew took the Gospel (which is the “good news” about Jesus) north into Russia and then into Scotland.”  (Advance slide.)
    • “After angering a Roman governor by leading his wife to Christ, he was crucified in Greece on an X-shaped cross.”
    • “Instead of nailing him to the cross, they tied him to it so that it would take longer for him to die.” (Have volunteer take a seat.)
  • “Philip – he publically doubted that Jesus could feed the 5,000.”
    • Eight years after James was put to death, Philip was stoned to death at Hierapolis in Asia Minor.” (Advance slide, and have volunteer take a seat.)
  • “Bartholomew – he ministered in Persia, India and Armenia, and tradition says that he was tied up in a sack and thrown into the sea.” (Advance slide, and have volunteer take a seat.)
  • “Matthew – he was a tax collector and the most hated of all Jews, but after following Jesus, he wrote his Gospel for the Jewish people.”
    • Though we don’t have reliable records, it is believed that Matthew ministered in Ethiopia, Persia, the kingdom of the Parthians, Macedonia and Syria.”  (Advance slide.)
    • We think he was burned at the stake.” (Have volunteer take a seat.)
  • “Thomas – he was the Apostle who doubted that Jesus had returned from the grave and said he would have to put his finger into the nail scars before he believed, but when Jesus appeared to him, he made the strongest proclamation that Jesus is God.  (“My Lord and my God!”)”
    • Thomas carried the Gospel to India, and he died when he was run through with a spear.” (Advance slide, and have volunteer take a seat.)
  • “James, the Less – we think that James took the Gospel to Syria and Persia, but we are not entirely sure how he died.” (Advance slide.)
    • “It was either by stoning, beating or crucifixion.” (Have volunteer take a seat.)
  • “Simon, the Zealot – he started as a dangerous terrorist, who probably participated in attacks on the Romans and on tax collectors, but after following Jesus, his heart was changed.”
    • He took the Gospel to Egypt and as far as the British Isles and was killed for his beliefs, though we don’t know how.” (Advance slide.)
    • “Some say crucifixion; some say beheading.” (Have volunteer take a seat.)
  • “Thaddaeus – his name means something like “momma’s boy,” but he really grew up while following Jesus.”
    • We think he took the Gospel to Mesopotamia, near Turkey, and he once healed the king of the city of Edessa.”  (Advance slide.)
    • He was also said to have preached in Iran, and he was clubbed to death for his faith in Beirut, Lebanon.” (Have volunteer take a seat.)
  • “Judas, the Traitor – He never believed that Jesus was God, so Judas has the saddest story of all.”
    • He sold Jesus for thirty pieces of silver and then had an attack of his conscience.”
    • He hung himself from a weak tree limb that broke and dropped him on some jagged rocks, where his guts spilled out.”
    • Out of the Twelve, he was the only one who died for his lack of faith.” (Have volunteer take a seat.)
  • “John – he was James’ brother and another ‘Son of Thunder.’”
    • “He, too, was one of Jesus’ closest friends on earth.”
    • “He is actually the only apostle who wasn’t killed for his faith in Jesus.”
    • “He lived many years, but it had to be sad for him to hear that all his closest friends were killed.”
    • “John pastored a church in a city called Ephesus in Asia Minor, but then the Roman Emperor Domitian got angry with him and sent him to live on an island for prisoners (Patmos off the west coast of Turkey).” (Advance slide.)
    • “He had to live in a cave, but there he was able to do some writing.”
    • “During his lifetime, he wrote one of the Gospels, three letters that we find in the Bible and the last book of the Bible (Revelation), which tells about when Jesus will come again.”
    • “John eventually died of old age.” (Have volunteer take a seat.)
  • “And finally, there was Simon-Peter– he had the most dramatic transformation after following Jesus.”
    • “Simon eventually earned his name that means ‘listens and obeys.’”
    • “And he also earned his name of Peter, which means ‘rock,’ because Peter became a solid leader who led the early church.”
    • “Peter preached powerfully at Pentecost (a Jewish holiday celebrating the harvest of the crops) and led 3,000 people to the Lord.”
    • “He was so powerful spiritually that people were healed when just his shadow fell on them.”
    • “He raised Dorcas from the dead, introduced the Gentiles (non-Jewish people) to the Gospel and wrote two books of the New Testament.”
    • “He eventually went to Rome, Italy, and witnessed to the Roman emperor, Nero.” (Advance slide.)
    • “Peter and his wife were both crucified for their beliefs, but Peter begged to be crucified upside down, because he didn’t feel worthy to die in the same way Jesus did.” (Have volunteer take a seat.)
  • “So, that’s what became of all of them.”
  • “John was exiled; Judas killed himself and the other ten were put to death because they claimed that Jesus is God.”
  • “Don’t worry, though.  God isn’t asking all of us to die for our faith.”
  • “The Apostles were so powerful that God’s enemy, the Devil, fought very hard against them.”
  • “God protected each of them for a long time, but there came a time in each of their lives that they had completed the work God had for them to do.”
  • “When it came time, they each decided that they wanted to give God as much glory as they could when they died.”
  • “By dying for their belief in Jesus, they told the world that He is really God.”
  • “Let me ask you a question.  If you told a lie, and someone powerful said that you either had to admit you were lying or they would kill you, what would you do?” (Listen for response.)
  • “You wouldn’t die for a lie, would you?”
  • “Touch your neighbor and say, ‘I wouldn’t die for a lie!’”
  • “No, just like me, you would admit that you had lied so that you could go on living.”
  • “Well, the people who killed these men accused them of lying about Jesus.”
  • “They demanded that the Apostles admit they were lying about Jesus being God or else they would be put to death.”
  • “But these men chose to let people kill them rather than admit they were lying about Jesus.”
  • “Why do you think that was?” (Expected response: “They weren’t lying!”)
  • “Right!  They weren’t lying!”
  • “These men didn’t die for a lie.”
  • “Nobody is dumb enough to do that!”
  • “They died for the Truth!”
  • “Touch your neighbor and say, ‘They died for the Truth!’”
  • “They let themselves be put to death, because they knew that death was not the end of their story.”
  • “They knew that it was just the beginning!”
  • “They knew that death was just the end of their physical life on earth, and they were looking ahead to what Jesus promised them – eternal life with Him in heaven.”
  • “Probably none of us will have to die for the Truth that Jesus is alive and Lord of all creation.”
  • “But there are sooooooo many people out there that don’t know the Truth.”
  • “We’ve got to be like the Apostles and tell them about Jesus.”
  • “Don’t let them die believing a lie!”
  • “Tell them the Truth – Jesus is alive!  He loves them, and if they will follow Him, they can live with Him forever in heaven!”
  • “So don’t let them die believing a lie.”
  • “Touch three people and say, ‘I won’t let them die believing a lie.’”  (You can use the Rhyme Time below to reinforce the lesson’s teaching point.)

 

Rhyme Time

The Apostles died,

But we don’t grieve.

They gave their lives

So we’d believe!

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Clockwise-Counterclockwise (DEMO)


Time

5 minutes
Description

This demonstration helps participants see that a different perspective can change the way that they see things.

 

Materials

  • None

 

Preparation

  • None

 

Procedure

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

  • “Everyone stand up.”
  • “Take your right hand, and point your index finger at the ceiling.”  (Hold up your right hand and point at the ceiling to demonstrate.)
  • “Now, turn your finger in the same direction that the hands on a clock move.”  (Demonstrate what you’ve asked them to do.  Your finger should turn in a circular motion to the right, i.e. clockwise.)
  • “Good, now keep your finger turning, and slowly lower your hand until your finger is below the level of your nose.” (Demonstrate the action.)
  • “What happened?”  (When their hands are below the level of their noses, their fingers should now appear to be moving in a counter-clockwise motion.)
  • “Now, raise your hand up above your head again while you continue to move your finger in the same direction.” (Demonstrate.)
  • “What happened?” (Their fingers should now appear to be turning clockwise again.)
  • “Can anyone explain what is happening?”  (Allow them to try to explain what happened if they can.  If not, point out that their finger is always turning in the same direction.  However, their perspective has changed.  When they are below their fingers and looking up, their fingers look one way, and when they are looking down on their fingers, they look another way.)
  • “So what can we learn from this activity?”  (Responses should include that what people can see the same thing from two different perspectives and have very different experiences of the same event.  They might also note that it’s a good idea to look at things from multiple perspectives before making decisions or judgments.)

 

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Do Clothes Really Make the Man? (OBJ LESSON)


Time

30 minutes
Description

This object lesson looks at the different clothing Joseph wore and asks the question, “do clothes really make the man?”  The old adage means that how you dress says a lot about you, but in Joseph’s case, he was the same person in any costume.  However, no matter how good Joseph was, he couldn’t be good enough to impress God just through his good works.  God isn’t interested in what we DO until He changes WHO we are, and that only happens when we accept Jesus as our Savior.

 

Scriptures

  • Genesis 37-50
  • Isaiah 64:5-6
  • Isaiah 61:10

 

Materials

  • Several smocks (Loose-fitting fabrics that simply have a hole in the middle to fit over the head (for quick changing during the lesson) and a belt to tie them off.  You can do more elaborate costumes if you want, but these simple outfits will work.)
    • One plain white smock (to start the story)
    • One “coat of many colors”
    • Two dingy-colored or burlap smocks (for slavery before being sold and for prison)
    • One nicer white smock (for serving Potiphar)
    • Two even nicer smocks (for when Potiphar put Joseph in charge of his entire estate and for when Joseph comes up from prison)
    • One even nicer, nicer smock (for when Joseph was put in charge of Egypt – “robes of fine linen”)
    • One “filthy rags” smock (to represent our “righteousness”)
    • One “golden” smock (to represent the righteousness of Christ)
    • Gold chains costume jewelry
    • Ring costume jewelry

 

Preparation

  • Practice the script.

 

Procedure

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

  • “There is famous saying that ‘Clothes make the man.’”
  • “It means that what you wear says a lot about you and that people will judge you based on the clothes that you wear.”
  • “I think we ought to be careful about judging people based on the clothes that they wear.”
  • “They could be a great person inside of terrible clothes.”
  • “For example, Joseph wore many clothes in his lifetime, but for most of his life, Joseph was the same person underneath those clothes.”  (Ask for volunteer to come to the front, and put the plain, white smock on him or her.)
  • “Here’s Joseph, a young man of 17 years.”
  • “Look closely at him.  I want you to tell me if he changes when he gets his new clothes.”
  • “Joseph had 11 brothers, ten older than him.”
  • “In Hebrew culture, the oldest son was supposed to get the best treatment, but Joseph’s father loved him more than all the others, because he was the firstborn son of Rachel, Jacob’s favorite wife.)
  • “To show his love for Joseph, Jacob gave him a fancy coat to wear.”  (Put coat of many colors on volunteer.)
  • “Look closely; is it the same person or a different person underneath?” (Acknowledge responses.  Hopefully, the participants will agree that Joseph was the same person no matter what he was wearing.)
  • “This made Joseph’s brothers really jealous and angry with him, and they got even angrier when Joseph started having dreams about ruling over his brothers.”
  • “The next time the brothers were out shepherding their sheep, Joseph’s father sent him to check on them.”
  • “He made the mistake of wearing his fancy robe to go and find them.”
  • “The brothers were all wearing the clothes of smelly, dirty shepherds, and here came Joseph, wearing the clothes of someone who didn’t have to work because he was so special.”
  • “When they saw Joseph with his fancy coat, they were furious with him and talked about killing him.”
  • “In the end, they decided to sell him to a passing group of slave traders.”  (Put the dingy-colored smock on the volunteer.)
  • “What do you think now?  Is it the same Joseph, or did the clothes change him?”  (Acknowledge responses.)
  • “The slave traders took Joseph to Egypt and sold him to an Egyptian, named Potiphar.  There, he was given the clothes of a servant.”  (Put nicer white smock on volunteer.)
  • “Same Joseph or different?”  (Acknowledge responses.)
  • “Joseph served Potiphar so well that Potiphar soon promoted him and put him in charge of everything in his household.”  (Put even nicer white smock on volunteer.)
  • “Is he different yet, or is he the same Joseph he was when we started the story?”  (Acknowledge responses.)
  • “But then a terrible and unfair thing happened!  Potiphar’s wife accused Joseph of doing something he didn’t do, and Potiphar was so angry that he threw Joseph into prison.”  (Put second dingy smock on volunteer.)
  • “Do these clothes make him someone different?”  (Acknowledge responses.)
  • “Joseph was in prison for years, but he served the prison warden so well that the warden put him in charge of everything in the prison.”
  • “There came a day when Pharaoh (the king of Egypt) had a few dreams that bothered him.”
  • “No one could interpret the dreams for him, but he learned from one of his servants that Joseph had the power to interpret dreams.”
  • “Pharaoh called Joseph up from prison, and they dressed him in nicer clothes to prepare him to meet Pharaoh.”  (Put second even nicer white smock on volunteer.)
  • “Has he changed?”  (Acknowledge responses.)
  • “Joseph interpreted Pharaoh’s dreams for him, and Pharaoh was so impressed that he promoted Joseph to the 2nd highest level within Egypt.  Only Pharaoh was more powerful than Joseph.”
  • “Pharaoh had Joseph dressed in robes of fine linen and put gold chains around his neck and an important ring on his finger.”  (Put even nicer, nicer smock, gold chains and ring on volunteer.)
  • “Even in this really nice set of clothes, isn’t Joseph still the same person underneath?”  (Acknowledge responses.)
  • “In this new role, Joseph did even better than he did in all his other roles.”
  • “He helped the Egyptians to save some food during the good years when there was lots of food, and when the famine came, there was plenty of food for everyone in Egypt and in the surrounding nations.”
  • “So, here we have Joseph with his eight different sets of clothes.”  (Show all eight smocks.)
  • “But the Joseph underneath is the same Joseph no matter what he is wearing.”
  • “Joseph always did his best and served those in authority faithfully, and in the end, he was recognized as a great and wise leader by Pharaoh.”
  • “Joseph was a pretty impressive guy!”
  • “When we read about him, most of us think it would be pretty cool to be like Joseph.”
  • “But you know what?  No matter how impressive Joseph is to us, he doesn’t impress God just because he was a good person.”
  • “The Bible tells us in Isaiah 64:5-6, ‘How then can we be saved? All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags.’”
  • “What that means is that even the ‘best’ person in the world – the one who does the most good things – looks like he is dressed in filthy rags to God.”  (Put filthy rags smock on volunteer.)
  • “We can’t save ourselves from Hell just by being good – not even if we are as a good as Joseph was.”
  • “You see, God doesn’t care what you DO until you change WHO you are, and there is only one way to change WHO you are in God’s eyes…you have to accept Jesus (God’s Son) as your Savior.”
  • “Two thousand years ago, Jesus died on a cross to save us from our sins.”
  • “He had to do that because we sin.”
  • “You sin, I sin…everyone who has ever lived sins.”
  • “The Bible says that the penalty for sin is death.  That means separation from God.”
  • “But God loved us so much that he didn’t want us to be separate from Him.”
  • “So He sent His Son, Jesus, to take the penalty of our sin for us.”
  • “Jesus died on a cross to pay for our sins.  Then He rose from the dead to give us new life!”
  • “But you have to accept what Jesus did for you.  It’s a gift, and He won’t make you take it.”
  • “If you want to, you can still pay the penalty for your own sins, but that would be a terrible waste of the gift Jesus bought for you when He died on the cross.”
  • “But here’s what’s cool about accepting Jesus’ gift!”  (Have someone read Isaiah 61:10)
  • “This Scripture is talking about two of the things Jesus did for us by dying on the cross.”
  • “The first is that He clothed us with salvation.  In other words, we get to go to heaven.”
  • “The second is that He dressed us up in a robe of righteousness.  In other words, He covered our unrighteousness (our filthy rags) with His righteousness.”  (Put golden smock on volunteer.)
  • “Now THIS impresses God!”
  • “When we accept Jesus as our Savior, He covers our sinfulness with His perfection.”
  • “Then, whenever God, the Father, looks at us, He sees the righteousness of His Son, Jesus.”
  • “This is the only set of clothes that will ever change WHO you are, because it makes you a child of God.”
  • “It has nothing to do with what you DO, because it’s a gift from Jesus.”
  • “You can’t earn it.  You can only accept it.”
  • “So in a sense, clothes really do make the man, but in God’s eyes, there are only two types of clothes that say anything about WHO you are.”
  • “Are you wearing the filthy rags of sinfulness? (Show the filthy rag smock.) ….or the righteous robe of a child of God?”  (Show the golden smock.)
  • “I hope you will accept the wonderful gift Jesus bought for you.  He really wants you to have it!”  (Thank and dismiss volunteer.  At this point (depending on your tradition), you might want to make an invitation for the audience to accept the gift of salvation and the robe of righteousness that Jesus has purchased for each of us.)

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Joseph’s Journey


For summer camp this year, I’ve written ten Challenges (Bible activities for small groups and a leader to do together – sometimes in competition with other groups) and some large group lessons on the story of Joseph. They are all located on the Lesson and Material Downloads page (see the link at the top of the screen), and you can find them alphabetically in the list. They all start with the letters “JJ” for “Joseph’s Journey.”

Hope you can find some lessons that will be useful for you!

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Filed under Abraham, Abundance, acceptance, activity, Agape Love, Annointing, Belief, Bible study, blessing, Challenges, Change, Character, Christianity, Comfort Zone, Coping skills, courage, Discipline, distractions, drama, exercise, faith, Fear, forgiveness, Future, Game, Games that Teach, God's dream, God's favor, God's Plan, God's Will, Hands-on, Healing, heart, Hope, Humility, Jesus, Joseph, Kindness, leadership, Lesson, Listening to God, Love, Obedience, Object Lesson, Overcoming obstacles, Pride, purity, Relationships, Repentance, Salt of the earth, sanctification, spiritual disciplines, Spiritual Growth, Spiritual Health, Spiritual Warfare, Strengths, struggles, team, temptation, territory, test, tool, Transformation, Trust, unconditional love, Waiting on the Lord

Comfort Zone (OBJECT LESSON)


Audience

Children, Teens, Adults

Time

10-15 minutes
Description

This game helps participants to understand how important it is to step our of our comfort zones in order to grow.  You can use the story of Abraham (Abram at the time) leaving his country and his family and everything he knew as a reinforcement of the lesson.

Scriptures

o  Genesis 12:1-9

Materials

o  Rope (about 30 feet or more) or a garden hose

o  Balls (about 5 – alternatively, you can just wad up scrap pieces of paper)

o  Laundry basket or trash can

o  Bible

Preparation

o  Tie the rope or garden hose into a loop.

o  Use the rope or garden hose to make a small circle on the ground (about 1 ft – 1 ½ ft in diameter).

o  Coil the excess rope or garden hose on top of this circle so that you have only one circle.

o  Set up the trashcan or laundry basket about 20 ft away from the circle (further if you want to increase the difficulty).

o  Practice the script.

Procedure

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

  • “How many of you know what a comfort zone is?” (Acknowledge responses.)
  • “A comfort zone is a place or situation where you feel safe, comfortable.”
  • “When you are in your comfort zone, you don’t take risks.”
  • “Those are uncomfortable, so they can’t be in the zone.”
  • “In your comfort zone, there is no progress or growth, because progress and growth only occur when you take risks and step out of your comfort zone.”
  • “God asked Abraham (Abram at the time) to leave his comfort zone.” (Have a volunteer read Genesis 12:1-9.)
  • “Abraham had to leave everything that he knew (his family, his friends, his country, his home….) in order to follow God’s leading into a strange country.”
  • “The trip would take months, and it would be full of risk to Abraham, his wife, his nephew, Lot, and their servants.”
  • “They would face dangers from animals, thieves, foreign kings, fatigue, potential starvation and other threats.”
  • “But Abraham could not experience God’s blessing from inside his comfort zone in his home in Haran.”
  • “To experience God’s blessing, Abraham had to take a risk.”
  • “Let me show you a demonstration that will help you understand comfort zones better.”
  • “I’m going to need a volunteer.”  (Select a volunteer from the group.)
  • “Let’s pretend that this is your comfort zone.”  (Position volunteer inside the coil of ropes or garden hose.)
  • “Don’t you feel all comfy in there?”
  • “Now, let’s pretend that you have a goal that you want to achieve.”
  • “Your goal is to get five (or more if you like) shots in a row in that basket/trash can.”
  • “You can take shots only from inside your comfort zone this first time.”
  • “How many shots do you think you will make?”  (Listen to response, and share it with the audience if it was too quiet for them to hear.)
  • “Well, let’s try.  Take your shots.”  (Allow volunteer to take all his/her shots. Share the score with the audience.)
  • “Not so good.”
  • (Ask volunteer…) “What do you think would help you to be more successful?”  (Listen to response, and shear it with the audience if it was too quiet for them to hear. If the volunteer doesn’t mention stepping out of their comfort zone, prompt them.)
  • “Let’s try that.”  (Allow volunteer to take one step, as big as they can, out of their comfort zone.)
  • “But wait.  That wasn’t very scary.  Stepping out of your comfort zone has to have some risk involved.”
  • “Otherwise, every place on earth would be your comfort zone.”
    “Let’s make it more scary.”
  • “Can I get another volunteer?”  (Select another volunteer.  Make him (or her) stand five feet away from the first volunteer.)
  • “This person represents the risk of stepping out of your comfort zone.”
  • “He (or she) has to stand right here and count to ten slowly (“one, one thousand, two, one thousand, three, one thousand….”).”
  • “When he gets to ten, he can try to tag our first volunteer, the shooter, as long as he is out of his comfort zone.”
  • “But if the shooter goes back into his comfort zone, he can’t be tagged there.”
  • “However, he still has to make all five shots, either from within the comfort zone if he hasn’t don’t it already or out of his comfort zone if he is brave enough to come out one step.”
  • “Do both my volunteers understand how this works?”  (Answer any questions they have.  Then, let your shooter try to make the shots, stepping no more than one step out of the comfort zone. If the risk person tags the shooter, the shooter can’t shoot anymore shots.)
  • “That looked challenging.”
  • “But something interesting happens when you step out of your comfort zone.”  (Uncoil the rope or garden hose to make it twice as big as it was.)
  • “Your comfort zone grows!”
  • “Now you feel comfortable going further than you went before.”
  • “So, let’s try it again.”
  • “Our risk person will count to ten slowly before he tries to tag our shooter.”
  • “Our shooter can step one, big step outside of his comfort zone and take five shots without getting tagged.”  (Allow them to try this.)
  • “It’s getting easier.  Let’s do it again!”
  • “The comfort zone increases, because our shooter took a step out of it during the last round.” (Uncoil the rope or garden hose another loop or even two (depending on how fast you want to finish the exercise) to make it bigger. Then let the shooter try to make his shots again.  If the shooter makes all his shots, you’re done.  If he doesn’t, you might want to run the exercise a time or two again.  When you are finished, thank and dismiss your volunteers and close with the following comments.)
  • “So, you can see how a comfort zone works.”
  • “Whenever you take a risk and step out of it, it grows.”
  • “The more you do it, the easier it will be to accomplish your goals.”
  • “Remember our story about Abraham?”
  • “He took a huge risk, but every step out of his comfort zone helped him to grow in his faith in the Lord.”
  • “By the time Abraham reached the Promised Land, he had learned to put his complete faith in the Lord.”
  • “He needed that faith to help him wait the 25 years for God’s promise of a son to come true.”
  • “He would need it again to pass the test of almost offering Isaac as a sacrifice to the Lord.”
  • “Abraham could never have the faith to do those things if he had stayed in Haran.”
  • “If you want to experience God’s greatest blessings, you’ve got to follow Him out of your comfort zone.”

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Filed under Abraham, Abram, Belief, blessing, Challenges, Character, Comfort Zone, courage, faith, God's Plan, God's Will, Obedience, Object Lesson, Sarah, test, Trust

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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Filed under Abraham, Abram, Belief, faith, God's Plan, God's Will, Obedience, Priorities, Trust