Category Archives: Listening to God

God’s Permissive Will (OBJ LESSON)


Time

45 minutes
Audience

Children, Teens, Adults

 

Description

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

 

Scriptures

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

 

Materials

  • One red rope – about 15-20 ft long
  • Five ropes (any color other than red) – about 15-20 ft long each
  • Printout of the file, “JJ  – God’s Permissive Will – Choices Cards (OBJ LESSON).” It can be found on the Lesson and Material Downloads page at www.teachingthem.com.  This can be printed in black and white on regular paper.
  • 70 clothespins
  • Large paper clip or rubber band
  • Bag to hold clothespins, Choice Cards and ropes

 

Preparation

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

 

Procedure

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

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

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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

God-Sized Vision (DEVOTION)


In your groups, read the following Scriptures. Then answer the questions below.

  • Daniel 10:1-21
  • Daniel 11:1
  • Daniel 12:1-13
  • How did Daniel prepare himself to receive the vision?
  • How did the vision impact Daniel?  Why?
  • What was the response of the “one who looked like a man?”
  • How was the vision delayed?
  • Why do you think it was delayed?
  • How should this influence how we approach God when we want a God-sized vision?

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Filed under Daniel, Devotion, Future, Goals, God's dream, God's Plan, God's Will, Humility, Listening to God, prayer, Priorities, Revelation, Spiritual Warfare, Supplication, Vision

Tapped In (OBJ LESSON)


Time

15-20 minutes
Description

This object lesson teaches that you need to stay connected to Jesus in order to have the power to live a godly life and produce the fruit of the Spirit.

Scriptures

  • John 7:37-39, 15:1-5
  • Galatians 5:22

Materials

  • Garden hose (long enough to reach your teaching area from the water spigot
  • Short garden hose (a hose reel leader hose works well)
  • Two quick connect adapters for the hose – need to have an automatic stopper so that the water doesn’t continue to flow after you disconnect it
  • Water nozzle (as small as you can find so that you can use it to fill water balloons)
  • Water supply that you can hook the hose to
  • Nine large balloons (purple is the best color for the lesson if you can find it – you may want to have extra balloons in case any pop or have a leak)
  • Posterboard – one sheet of any light color or white
  • Scissors
  • Tape
  • Permanent marker to label nine, small signs with the name of the nine fruits of the Spirit
  • Lanyard or twine
  • Clear, plastic tub to hold the balloons as they fill with water
  • Thin piece of plywood or piece of plastic or metal (4 ft long) with nine 3/4 in holes drilled in it about 5 inches apart and 5 inches from the end of either side of the board.  (You can often find a piece of metal that has pre-drilled holes in it that will work just fine near the shelving part of your local hardware store.)
  • Drill and ¾ inch drillbit (if you need to make the board mentioned above)
  • Nine, large washers with a ½ inch hold in the center (the washers must be big enough that they won’t fall out of the balloon once you put them in the opening)
  • Bible

Preparation

  • (SEE DIAGRAMS AT END OF LESSON)
  • Connect the hose to the water spigot.
  • Connect the quick connect adapter (the one with the automatic stopper) to the end of the hose, and turn on the water.  Use a steady stream of water but not full force – maybe about 1/4-1/2 turn.
  • Connect the short hose to the quick connect adapter at the end of the longer hose.
  • Connect the other quick connect adapter to the end of the short hose, and screw on the water nozzle.
  • Run the hose segments and the nozzle into the teaching area.
  • Make a large sign that says, “DISOBEDIENCE,” and put it on the lanyard/twine so that someone can wear it around their neck.
  • Ask a volunteer to be your “DISOBEDIENCE” volunteer and to be ready when you call them.  Give him/her the sign to wear when the time is right.
  • Put a washer in the opening of each balloon.
  • Push each balloon through one of the nine holes in your board.  The opening of the balloon and the washer should be on top of the hole with the rest of the balloon below the board.
  • Put the board with the balloons across the clear, plastic tub so that the balloons hang down into the tub.
  • Cut out nine, small rectangles from the posterboard (each about 4 in long and 2 in tall).
  • Write the nine fruits of the Spirit (Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness, Self-Control) on these.
  • Tape the signs to the bottom of the tub on the outside, facing the audience.  Each sign should be in front of a different balloon.
  • Practice

Procedure

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

  • “I’m going to show you why it is so important for you to stay close to God.”
  • “The night before Jesus was crucified, he said something very important to his closest disciples.”  (Have volunteer read John 15:1-5.)
  • “Jesus was making a comparison between His relationship with His disciples and a grapevine.”
  • “Jesus said that He is the grapevine.  That’s the thickest part of the plant that is rooted to the ground.”
  • “He said that the disciples are branches and that the branches hold the fruit.”
  • “We know from Galatians 5:22 that the fruit that Jesus is talking about is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” (If the kids are not familiar with the fruit of the Spirit, you might want to take a moment to describe each one for them.)
  • “And He says that if we (as the branches) don’t stay connect to Him (the vine), we won’t have any of this fruit.”
  • “But….if we stay connected to Jesus, we will have LOTS of fruit.”  (Ask for a volunteer to come to the front, and allow him/her to help you in the following demonstration.)
  • “I don’t have a grapevine here today, and even if I did, we don’t have an entire season to watch the grapes grow on the vine.”
  • “So, instead of using a real grapevine, I’m going to use this hose, this nozzle and these balloons to demonstrate what Jesus is talking about.”  (Ask volunteer to hold the nozzle at the end of the hose.)
  • “Imagine that this hose represents Jesus as the vine.”
  • “Through Him comes a steady flow of living water, which the Bible tells us is the Holy Spirit according to John 7:39.”  (Turn on the nozzle (if it isn’t already) and have the volunteer point it into the tub.  Have another volunteer read John 7:37-39.)
  • “This nozzle represents us as the branches, and these nine balloons represent the fruit of the spirit – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.  They are like the grapes on the vine.”
  • “Now, the goal is to produce fruit and lots of it.”
  • “We produce fruit by filling the balloons with the water.  This is like the Holy Spirit flowing through us (the nozzle) to do the good works that the fruit represents.”  (Allow your volunteer to begin to fill one of the balloons.  Turn off the nozzle when the balloon is full enough that the water doesn’t come shooting back out the top – over half-way.)
  • “But by itself, this nozzle is pretty useless.  It has no water of its own to share.”
  • “We can’t connect just the nozzle to a balloon and fill it.”  (Disconnect the nozzle from the hose and give it to the volunteer.  Ask them to try to fill the balloons with just the nozzle.)
  • “That’s what it’s like if we try to do God’s work without God.”
  • “There is just no power in it.”
  • “So we have to stay connected to the hose if we want to have the power to do the work that God has given us to do.”  (Reconnect the nozzle, and let the volunteer continue filling the first balloon.  When it gets about full, start filling up another balloon.)
  • “What does it mean to be connected to the hose?  In other words, how can we stay connected to Jesus so that His Spirit flows through us and produces fruit?”
  • “There are two things we need to do in order to stay connected to the hose/to Jesus.”
  • “We need to spend time with God, and we need to obey God.”
  • “If we do these two things, we will stay connected to Jesus, and His power will flow through us and produce lots of fruit.”  (Allow volunteer to keep filling balloons slowly.  Don’t allow them to fill all the balloons before you finish the next part.)
  • “How can we spend time with God?”  (Listen to answers.  You are looking for things like, “Go to church, worship, praise, pray, read your Bible…”)
  • “Excellent! During those times, God will tell us what He wants us to do in our lives.”
  • “But spending time with Him is not enough.  We have to also do what He says.”
  • “Sometimes, we know what God wants us to do, but we don’t want to do it.”
  • “That’s called ‘DISOBEDIENCE’ (bring your “DISOBEDIENCE” volunteer forward), and it’s disconnecting the hose so that the living water won’t pass through.” (Have “DISOBEDIENCE” volunteer disconnect the hose so that the water stops.)
  • “Disobedience stops the flow of the living water coming through your nozzle.”
  • “Another word for ‘disobedience’ is ‘sin.’”
  • “Sin stops the flow of God’s power, which He sends through His Holy Spirit, through you.”
  • “But it’s easy to get the living water flowing again. What do you think you have to do?”  (Listen to responses.  You are looking for someone to say, “obey.”)
  • “That’s right!  Obey, and living water flows through you again to create more fruit.”  (Have “DISOBEDIENCE” volunteer reconnect hose, and allow volunteer to fill in the rest of the balloons.  Then dismiss the volunteer.)
  • “So what are the two things we need to do to stay connected to God?”  (Listen for the answers, “spend time with Him” and “obey Him.”)
  • “Fantastic! Let’s all go and produce lots of fruit!”


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Connecting the D.O.T.S. (Obj Lesson)


Time
15 minutes

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

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

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

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

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

Unfinished Puzzle

Unfinished Puzzle

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

Finished Puzzle

Finished Puzzle

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Capture Every Thought (GAME)


Time
30-45 minutes

Description
This game helps participants understand how important it is to capture every thought and take it captive before Christ.  It is loosely based on the game of Othello ® (Gabriel Industries, Inc.) or Reversi.

Audience
Children, youth

Materials
•    Gameboard (can be printed from the file “Capture Every Thought – Game Board and Pieces.ppt” located on the Lesson and Material Downloads page of http://www.teachthem.wordpress.com.)
•    Game pieces (can be printed from the file “Capture Every Thought – Game Board and Pieces.ppt” located on the Lesson and Material Downloads page of http://www.teachthem.wordpress.com.)
•    “Starting Positions” Gameboard (can be printed from the file “Capture Every Thought – Game Board and Pieces.ppt” located on the Lesson and Material Downloads page of http://www.teachthem.wordpress.com.)
•    “Move #1, #2 & #3” slide (can be printed from the file “Capture Every Thought – Game Board and Pieces.ppt” located on the Lesson and Material Downloads page of http://www.teachthem.wordpress.com.)
•    Glue stick
•    Scissors or cutting board
•    (Optional) Prizes for winners

Preparation
•    Make copies of the “Debrief Questions” page at the end of this lesson (one copy per table group).
•    Print copies of the game boards (1 for every two people)
•    Print copies of the game pieces (60 for ever two people – 1 page makes 60 pieces)
•    Print one copy each of the “Starting Positions” slide and the “Move #1, #2 & #3” example slide.
•    Fold the game piece pages along the blue line that divides the two colors.  Crease the page well along this fold.
•    Use a glue stick to stick the two pages together.  Make sure that the entire surface is covered.
•    Use the scissors or the cutting board to cut out each of the rectangular game pieces.  (They should now be a different color on each side.  Cut closely to the rectangles, because if the pieces are too big, they are difficult to flip on the gamebaord.)
•    Practice the script.

Procedure
Use the following script (or modify to suit your needs):
•    “The Bible has a lot to say about what we think.”
•    “Our minds are a major battlefield for the spiritual war between Satan and God.”
•    “God wants our minds to be filled with good things that honor Him, because He knows that these things will bless us and help us live fulfilling lives.”
•    “Satan wants our minds to be filled with bad things that dishonor God, because he hates God and hates that we are made in God’s image.”
•    “Satan knows that he can’t do anything to diminish God, so he tries to hurt the Creator through His creation – and that’s us.”
•    “Let’s read a few of the Scriptures related to our thoughts.”  (Have volunteers read the following Scriptures out loud.)
o    Romans 8:6 (mind of sinful man is death; mind of the Spirit is life)
o    Proverbs 15:26 (the Lord detests thoughts of the wicked but is pleased by thoughts of the pure)
o    Isaiah 55:8-9 (God’s thoughts are higher than our thoughts)
o    Colossians 3:2 (set minds on things above, not on earthly things)
o    Philippians 4:8 (think about excellent, praiseworthy….things)
o    2 Corinthians 10:5 (take every thought captive)
•    “So, we are to think about the things God thinks about and not about sinful things.”
•    “This is really hard to do, and it takes a lot of prayer and practice, because Satan is going to try to mess up our thoughts as much as possible.”
•    “He whispers evil thoughts to us from the spiritual realm, and if we aren’t careful, we accept his thoughts as our own.”
•    “That’s terribly dangerous, because the Bible says that everything Satan ever says is a lie.  Lying is his native language and the only language he speaks.”  (John 8:44)
•    “2 Corinthians 10:5 says that we are to take every thought captive and make it obedient to Christ.”
•    “This means that when we have a bad thought or even a thought we aren’t sure about, we should ask God about it.”
•    “If is something true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent or praiseworthy, God will confirm it for you.”
•    “But if it’s a lie from Satan, God will replace it with the truth.”
•    “We’re going to play a game that will help us to remember to take every thought captive to Christ.”  (Divide group into pairs, and hand out the gameboards and game pieces for each pair.)
•    “You have a gameboard in front of you.  It has 64 spaces on it.”
•    “You also have 64 colored game pieces.  They are blue on one side and yellow on the other.”
•    “Each person should take 30 game pieces for himself and decide if he wants to be either blue or yellow.”  (Have them divide the pieces and pick a color.)
•    “Alright, everyone who chose blue, raise your hands.”  (Demonstrate.)
•    “In this battle, you represent the devil.  Sorry about that.”
•    “Everyone who chose yellow, you represent God.”
•    “The gameboard represents a human mind, and the game pieces each represent thoughts.”
•    “Dark blue pieces represent the bad thoughts and lies Satan tries to get us to believe and take as our own.”
•    “Yellow pieces represent the good thoughts and truth God wants us to believe and act on.”
•    “Each player starts with two thoughts (game pieces) on the board in the center squares.  They should look like this.”  (Show the “Starting Positions” slide.  Have all players put two of their game pieces down.)
•    “The goal of each player is to trap your opponents pieces between two of your own.”
•    “If you have one piece down already and then lay another one, you capture all of your opponent’s pieces that are between your two pieces.  You can then flip all those captured pieces over so that they are now your color.”  (Show “Move #1, #2 and #3” slide to give them examples.)
•    “You can capture pieces diagonally, horizontally or vertically.”
•    “You capture all the opponents’ pieces between your two pieces, so as the game progresses, you should be able to capture two, three, four or more pieces at a time.”
•    “You can even capture pieces in two or more directions at the same time as long as they are all between two of your pieces.”
•    “It’s important to know that you cannot play on spaces unless it allow you to capture at least one of your opponent’s pieces.”
•    “The winner is the person who has the most of their colored pieces on the board when it gets to a point that no one can make a move.”
•    “Dark blue pieces get to go first.”
•    “Do you have any questions about how to play?”  (Answer questions, and then allow them to play a round.  If they finish the first round quickly and you have the time, let them play several rounds.  Then, award a prize to the winners if you choose.  Pass out the Debrief Questions sheet to each group, and allow them 10-15 minutes to talk about the questions.  Then ask the large group for any general insights from the activity.)

Debrief Questions

o    How does this game reflect the battle between God and Satan for your mind?
o    Why would some bad thoughts from Satan change your good thoughts to bad ones (like capturing pieces in the game)?
o    The corners are the most strategic spaces on the gameboard, because they cannot be trapped once they belong to someone.  What might these represent in the battle for your mind?
o    Why is it important to guard your mind against Satan’s influence?  How can you do this?
o    How could you capture more thoughts for Christ?

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Point to Christ Relay


Time

15-25 minutes

Description

This is game that helps participants understand how difficult it can be sometimes to keep our lives pointed toward Christ.

 

Materials

  • Blindfolds (one for each team)
  • Prizes for “enemies or demons.”
  • Prizes for the winning team (optional)
  • Flipchart and markers

 

Preparation

·      Find a wide-open space in which to run the race.  Make sure that there are no obstacles that the runners might stumble over.

·      Select a point in the room or outside that can represent “Christ.”

·      Select starting points around the room or outside that are equidistant from the “Christ” point.

·      Mark off the starting points and three to four relay points of equal distance.  In other words, you want to divide each path to “Christ” into three to four segments.

·      Post the debrief questions on a flipchart, but keep it concealed until the activity is over.  (See the end of this lesson for questions.)

·      Practice the script.

 

Procedure

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

·      “We’re going to run a race today, but it’s going to be a different kind of race.”

·      “This race will be a relay race, which may or may not be familiar to you.”

·      “But in this race, you will be blindfolded!”

·      “AND…each racer will have an enemy who tries to keep you from finishing your race!”

·      “Interested?”

·      “Okay, I’m going to divide you into teams.”  (Divide group into teams of 5-6.  Each team needs to be equally sized.  Extras can serve as additional “enemies/demons.”) 

·      “Now I need a volunteer from each team to be the ‘enemies or demons.’” 

·      “Your job will be to try to prevent the runners on the other teams from reaching their goal, and if you help your team win because you confused the other teams, your team will get a prize (optional).”

·      “So, here’s how this race works.”

·      “Each team will start from their starting point.”  (Indicate starting points for each team.)

·      “One team member will line up on each of your team’s relay points (including the starting point).”  (Indicate relay points for each team, and have the team members take their positions.)

·      When it’s your turn to race, you will have to put on a blindfold.”  (Indicate blindfold and how to put it on.)

·      “If your blindfold is not on correctly, your team can be disqualified, so make sure you get it on so that you can’t see.”

·      “The first racer will put on his blindfold and run to the first relay point.”

·      “Once there, he will take off the blindfold and give it to the next runner, who will then put on the blindfold before starting to run.”

·      “The first team to reach this point, which we are calling ‘Christ,’ wins!”

·      “But remember the enemies/demons?  These enemies/demons will run up to you as soon as you put your blindfold on, and they will spin you around 3-5 times.  When they are done spinning you, they may point you in the wrong direction.”  (Assign “enemies/demons” to opponents’ teams.  Extra “enemies/demons” should be instructed that they can are to stand off to the side and shout confusing directions to the runners to keep them from reaching the goal.  Be sure to reward these extra “enemies/demons” after the race, since they aren’t part of a team.)

·      “One team member is your “Holy Spirit.”  He or she will stand off to the side and call out directions to you about which way you should go.”

·      “You will have to listen very carefully to hear your “Holy Spirit” telling you how to face toward ‘Christ’ and to separate the voice of your “Holy Spirit’ from the voice of any demons.”

·      “Is everyone clear on the instructions?”  (Answer any questions.)

·      “Okay, everyone get on your places.  First runners, put on your blindfolds.  “Enemies/demons,” get ready to spin them.  Ready, get set….GO!”  (Help everyone to follow the rules, but try not to interfere in the race.  When the race is over, award prizes if you choose and have the teams reassemble to answer the debrief questions, listed below.)

 

Debrief Questions

o   “What made that difficult?”

o   “Even if you didn’t win, how were you able to succeed in running the race?”

o   “How is this like real life for a Christian?”

o   (Have a volunteer read 1 Corinthians 9:24-27.)

o   “How was running this race like the race Paul describes?”

o   “Why do you think Paul compares our Christian life to a race?”

o   “What does Paul mean by ‘running aimlessly’ and ‘fight(ing) like a man beating the air?’  How do these apply to us?”

o   “Why would Paul need to ‘beat (his) body and make it (his) slave?’”

§  “Do we need to do this, too?  If so, how?”

o   “What other lessons can you take away from this activity?”

 

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