Category Archives: Obedience

Center of God’s Will (CHALLENGE)


Time

10-15 minutes
Description

This Challenge teaches that the safest place for us is in the center of God’s will.  Groups will create a board (representing God’s will) with handles and then attempt to spin it upside down with a cup of water on it.  If they do it correctly, centrifugal force will keep the water in the cup.  The metaphor is that when everything is “spinning” around us, the center of God’s will is the best place to keep us from being “upset.”

 

Scriptures

  • Genesis 37-50
  • Isaiah 26:3

 

Materials

  • Future board – 1 square per group – about 18”x18” (You can substitute other materials, such as plywood or heavy cardboard.)
  • Note card – 1 per group
  • Marker – (just 1 for the Preparation stage)
  • Tape – (just 1 roll for the Preparation stage)
  • Something sharp that can be used to put a small hole in the four corners of the board (just 1 for the Preparation stage)
  • Plastic cups – 2 per group (They only need one, but it’s possible that it might break.)
  • Twine – 4 lengths of about 2.5 ft per group (These will provide handles for the board so that it can be spun.)
  • Gallon jug of water – 1 per group
  • Challenge Card (The file for printing is called, “JJ – Center of God’s Will – Challenge Card (CHALLENGE),” and it can be found on the Lesson and Material Downloads page at www.teachingthem.com.  This can be printed in black and white on regular paper.  There are two Challenge Cards per page.)
  • Ziplock bags – gallon size – 1 per group

 

Preparation

  • Write, “GOD’S WILL” on the note card, and tape it to the center of the board.
  • Put a small hole in each corner of the boards so that the groups can thread twine through it and tie a knot on the bottom side.  (These will provide handles for spinning the boards.)
  • Put all the materials in a Ziplock bag. – 1 per group (This should include two plastic cups and four lengths of twine.)
  • Print out the Challenge Card document.
  • Cut the Challenge Card document in half (each half is identical), and put one in each Ziplock bag (one per group).
  • Tape the future board to the Ziplock bag, and put the water where groups can reach it.
  • Practice the script.

 

Procedure

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

  • “We’re going to do a group Challenge today.”
  • “It’s called, “Center of God’s Will” and it’s part of the Joseph’s Journey Series.”
  • “First, I’ll need to divide you into groups.”  (Divide the participants into the number of groups for which you have prepared kits.)
  • “Each group will have a Ziplock bag with a Challenge Card, some cups, some string, a board and some water.”
  • “When I tell you to go, open your Ziplock bags, and read the Challenge Card.” (Allow them to read the Challenge Card.)
  • “This challenge is about staying in the center of God’s will.”
  • “You will have to create your ‘God’s Will’ board.”
  • “Here are the instructions – you can build as I share them with you.”
  • “Tie a knot at one end of each piece of twine.”
  • “Thread one piece of twine through each of the four holes in the future board.”
  • “Pull the twine through until the knot stops the rope from continuing through the hole.”
  • “Tie the unknotted ends of the twine together in one, big knot above the board (on the God’s Will side).  (Make sure that each rope is the same length from the knot to the board.  Otherwise, your board will not hang flat.)”
  • “Fill the cup ¾ full of water.”
  • “The water represents you.”
  • “Your challenge is to place the cup of water on the board, hold the top of all four strings where you tied them together, and spin the board with the water in a circle so that the water goes upside down several times before you stop spinning.”
  • “This represents the challenging times in our lives when everything seems to be spinning around us.”
  • “It’s difficult to keep from getting ‘upset,’ but if we stay in the center of God’s will, it’s a lot easier than if we are outside of His will.”  (Let several participants try to spin the board and the water.  Whenever they spill the water, refill the cup, and let them try again.  Give them some help if they need it.  Speed is important to take advantage of the centrifugal force.)
  • “Isaiah 26:3 says, ‘(God) will keep in perfect peace all who trust in (Him), all whose thoughts are fixed on (Him)!’” (NLT)
  • “That means that if we keep our trust in God and keep thinking about Him, we will have peace in difficult times.”
  • (When you are finished, have them answer the Debrief Questions below (also on their Challenge Cards).  The Rhyme Time is to help them recognize that when they trust and obey God, they stay in the center of His will.  Then, He makes bad things work for their good.)

 

Debriefing Questions

  1. What usually happens if the water cup is near the edge of the board when you spin it?
  2. What usually happens if it is near the center of the board?
  3. What do you think it means to be in the “center of God’s will” in your life?
  4. How can you do this more often?

 

Rhyme Time

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

 

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Filed under Challenges, Daily walk, God's Will, Obedience, Object Lesson, Science, Science experiment, Teaching

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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Conversation Starters for Teenage Girls (SCENARIOS)


Audience

Teen Girls

Time

30-45 minutes
Description

These scenarios are intended to provide conversation starters for teen girls and a skilled and caring mentor.  They can also be used in group settings, but an adult guide should still be present to provide perspective and wisdom.  The cards address many challenging situations in which young girls might find themselves.

 

Scriptures

o   N/A

 

Materials

o  Scenarios worksheets (attached – 1 per person) or “Conversation Starters for Teenage Girls – Cards” (a file that you can download at www.teachingthem.com on the Lesson and Material Downloads page.

o  Something to write with (if you use the worksheet – 1 per person)

o  Something to write on (if you use the worksheet – 1 per person)

o  Bible

Preparation

o  Review the scenarios and delete or pull out any that you don’t want to address.

o  Print the worksheets (1 per person) or the scenario cards (1 per group)

o  Practice the script.

Procedure

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

  • “There are many challenging situations facing teenage girls today.”
  • “If you haven’t thought about how you will prepare for them or respond to them, they could surprise you, and you might find yourself under pressure to make the wrong decision.”
  • “Today, we are going to ask you to think about some of these situations and give your opinion about how you should prepare for or respond to them.”  (If you are using the worksheet, pass it out now, and let the girls have 15-20 minutes to complete it.  You can then discuss their answers as a group, or you can have them turn them in so that you can review them before discussing them at your next meeting.  If you are using the cards, lay them face-down in the center of the group, and have the girls take turns drawing one and responding to it.  Then, allow the other girls to share their thoughts, as well.  Sometimes what they say will be enough on the topic, but at other times, you may need to redirect them by sharing your perspective.  Whenever possible, reference biblical principles.)

 

SCENARIO WORKSHEET

Take some time, and read through each of the following scenarios.  Write how you think you should handle each situation on a separate sheet of paper.  Be sure to number your answers.

 

1.     You and your boyfriend have been dating for three months.  Recently, he has begun to bring up the subject of sex to get your opinion on it.  He says that he wouldn’t ever want to do anything that you didn’t want to do, but you can tell that he is hoping you will say it is okay.

2.     One of your girlfriends confessed to you that she has been thinking about suicide.  Her parents have been fighting for years and are now going through a divorce.  She is unpopular at school, and the boys make fun of her because she is heavy.  Recently, she has even stopped turning in her homework, and her failing grades are getting her into trouble with her parents and with school administrators.

3.     At a party, a popular girl invites you to join her and her friends as they take hits of acid.  You initially say, “No, thanks….I’m okay,” but they begin to make fun of you for being so “straight” and “pure.”  They laugh at you and tell you it’s time to grow up and stop being such a little girl.

4.     You are out driving on a date with a cute boy, and he reaches across you to open the glove compartment of his car.  As he does so, his arm brushes your chest.  You are embarrassed, but he is very apologetic, so you say it was no big deal.  However, an hour later, he does the same thing at dinner as he reaches for the ketchup.

5.     You and a girlfriend are out at the mall.  As she reaches to pick out a bracelet that she likes, you see that she has several dark bruises on her arm under her shirtsleeve.  When you ask her about it, she says that she bumped into something, but you aren’t convinced.  The bruises look like finger marks from her arm being squeezed too hard. You keep asking her about it until she confesses that her boyfriend got angry the other day and shook her a little.  She assures you that it’s the first time anything like this has ever happened.

6.     The word is out all over school about a famous celebrity sex video, and you are surprised to find that someone has sent you the link through email.  Your friend is watching over your shoulder when you open the email and tells you that you should click on the link.  “Everyone has seen it except us,” she says.

7.     Report cards come out, and you are surprised to see that you got a “B” in a class that you should have failed.  You didn’t turn in three assignments this semester, and you’ve been dreading getting your grades.  What was even more surprising is that your teacher commented on how much you’ve improved in getting your homework done.  You’re pretty sure that he made some kind of mistake in his grade book, but you are reluctant to bring it up, because an “F” means you will be grounded and miss this weekend’s social.

8.     A friend has started to look tired all the time.  She has dark patches under her eyes, and she no longer seems to have any energy or spark.  She has also been losing a lot of weight, which is confusing, because she eats more than you or any of your other friends.  You’ve begun to wonder if she might be throwing up whenever she goes to the bathroom after you eat out together.

9.     It is obvious to you that the girls who wear the tightest clothing and the shortest skirts get the most attention from the guys.  You’ve always been modest in what you wear, but it hurts that none of the guys is ever interested in you.  One guy even asked you why you wear “old lady” clothes.

10.  You’re out at the movies with a guy.  When he opens his wallet to pay for your tickets, you notice that he has several condoms in it.

11.  You catch your older brother looking at a pornographic magazine in his room.  He first begs you not to tell, then threatens to get you back if you say anything to Mom or Dad.

12.  You wake up late one night when you hear a noise in the dark.  You look out your window and see your older sister sneaking back into her room.  You look at the clock and see that it’s 4:30 a.m. The next morning, your parents tell you to wake up your sister, and you smell alcohol on her breath when you go to get her.

13.  You’ve got a new teacher – a young guy just out of college, and he is really cute.  All the girls are talking about him.  One day, he asks you to stay for a few minutes after class so that he can talk to you about your last paper.  He is very excited about your writing abilities and tells you that you have talent.  This meeting is followed by several others, and he offers to coach you to help you really develop your writing skills.  You have been meeting a few times a week after school for several weeks, and one day at your meeting, he reaches out and puts his hand on yours.

14.  One of your girlfriends just found out that she is pregnant.  She says that there is no way she can have a baby.  Her parents would do something crazy like sending her to live with her aunt in another state.  Her boyfriend is trying to help her raise the money for the abortion pill, and she has asked if you can help out with a little money.

15.  One of the girls in your first period class is upset, because someone stole her iPod out of her backpack.  This girl is really irritating and has always been mean to you, and you are a little amused to see that something bad has finally happened to her.  Unfortunately, you know who stole the iPod.  You saw one of your good friends listening to it yesterday after school, and you know it is the same iPod because of a scratch that it has on the back cover.

16.  You are at a school social with some friends.  When it is time to leave, you realize that the friend who drove you there has been drinking and is in no condition to drive.  You offer to drive for her, but she refuses and says that she is just fine.

17.  You are at a concert with some friends, and someone passes a joint down the row of seats.  You expect your friends to pass it back the other way, but to your surprise, they all take a hit and then pass it to you.  When you start to refuse, they begin to tease you and put the joint in your face.  They say that you are going to get high off the second-hand smoke anyway – why not enjoy it all the way?

18.  You’ve told your parents that you are going to a sleepover at a friend’s house, but when you get there, you find out that the girls have planned a secret trip to a local dance club.  They are busy getting dressed and putting on make-up so that they look “legal,” and one of the girls says that she is a good friend with the gatekeeper at the door.  He promised that he would let them all in as long as they looked old enough.

19.  While at the mall one weekend, you and your girlfriend meet a couple of cute guys.  They are from your school, but you don’t really know them.  You eat together at one of the fast-food places, and then the guys ask if the two of you can give them a ride home.  When you hesitate, they say, “Come on, it’s not far from here.  It will only take you a few minutes.”

20.  You get a friend request from someone on Facebook.  You don’t recognize the name, but they have lots of the same friends as you, so you approve the request.  As soon as you do, the person starts to chat with you.  You start to chat while looking up his profile.  Unfortunately, you still don’t recognize him, but he looks pretty normal in his photos and he goes to the same high school as you.  He is asking you questions about what you like to do on the weekends and when you aren’t working on homework.

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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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Out of Orbit (Obj Lesson)


Time

10-15 minutes
Description

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

 

Scriptures

  • Philippians 3:12-14

Materials

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

Preparation

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

 

Procedure

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

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

 

 

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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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Red Light – Green Light (GAME)


Time

15-20 minutes
Description

This game is a twist on the popular “Red Light – Green Light” game that kids often play.  It’s high energy with a spiritual teaching point at the end.

Scriptures

  • Jonah 1:1-3
  • Hebrews 12:1-2

Materials

  • None

Preparation

  • Select a wide-open space to play the game.
  • Choose a highly-visible object or point to be the “Finish Line” and another place to be the “Start Line.”
  • Practice the script.

Procedure

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

  • “How many of you have played a game called ‘Red Light – Green Light’ before?”  (Look for a show of hands.)
  • “Well, we’re going to play a game like that, but I’m going to change the rules just a little.”
  • “In ‘Red Light – Green Light,’ everyone starts at a starting line, and the person who is leading is far away.”
  • “The leader faces everyone and says, ‘Red Light!’ and everyone has to freeze right where they are.”
  • “If the leader sees anyone moving even a little, he can send them back to the start line.”
  • “But when the leader turns his back to everyone, he says, ‘Green Light!’ and everyone runs as far as they can toward him before he turns around again and says, ‘Red Light!’”
  • “The first person to reach the leader and tag him wins and gets to be the new leader for another round of the game.”
  • “So, those are the regular rules.  Here are my new backward rules.”
  • “Instead of running toward the leader, you are going to run away from the leader.”
  • “The first person to reach the finish line will be the winner.”  (Tell them what the finish line will be, and point out where everyone will start.)
  • “Does that make sense to everyone?”  (Look for questions and respond.)
  • “Okay, the other rule is still the same.”
  • “When I’m facing you, I’ll call out, ‘Red Light!’ and everyone has to freeze right where they are.”
  • “But when I turn around, I’ll call out, ‘Green Light!’ and you can run like crazy!”
  • “Any questions?”  (Respond to any questions.)
  • “Okay, I’ll be leader first.”  (Position yourself in the middle of the “Start Line,” and have everyone line up on either side of you along the same line.  Start by facing them.  Then quickly turn around and yell out, “Green Light!”  Don’t give them much time to run.  Quickly turn back around, and yell, “Red Light!”  If you see anyone still moving or even twitching (depending upon how strict you want to be with the rules), make them come back to the “Start Line.”  Repeat this process until someone reaches the “Finish Line.”  Then make that person the new leader.  Run through several rounds of the game, and then bring everyone back for a debrief using the following questions.)

Debrief Questions & Discussion

  1. “What did you think of the game?”
  2. “Let’s pretend that the leader of the game is like God.  How does the game compare to how some people act toward God?”  (You are listening for someone to mention that people are often moving away from (even running away from!) God.  Running away from God is the equivalent of sinning and putting distance in our relationship.)
  3. “That reminds me of someone in the Bible who ran from the Lord.”  (Have a volunteer read Jonah 1:1-3.)
  4. “Jonah ran from the Lord.  How did that work out for him?”  (Listen for someone to mention that he was swallowed by a great fish for three days.)
  5. “Not so well, right?”
  6. “So, if the leader is God, what could the ‘Red Light!’ and ‘Green Light!’ represent for Christians?”  (You are listening for someone to say that the red light is like when we feel God is watching us and we have to be on our best behavior.  The green light is like when we pretend God isn’t watching and we can do whatever we want, even if it’s bad for us to do.)
  7. “Do you think this is the way God actually acts toward us?”  (Hopefully the kids will know that it is not the way God acts toward us.)
  8. “So how DOES God act toward us?  What’s different than the game?”  (God is always watching over us.  Even when we don’t feel close to Him, He hasn’t turned away from us.   He never gives a “Green Light” to sin.  And even though He always has a “Red Light” to sin, He isn’t trying to catch us doing something wrong.  He is encouraging us to come running to Him and not away from Him.)
  9. “The Scriptures say that we should be running toward God.”  (Have volunteer read Hebrews 12:1-2.)

10.  “We should keep our eyes on Jesus and throw off anything that might slow us down as we race toward Him.”

11.  “So, let’s change the rules again, and this time, everyone see how fast you can get to God with no ‘Red Lights!’”  (Choose someone to be the leader/”God,” and have the kids line up at the former “Finish Line,” which will now be the new “Start Line.”  When the leader/”God” says, “Green Light!” everyone should race to see how fast they can reach and tag him.  Instruct the leader not to give any “Red Lights.”)

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Filed under acceptance, Christianity, Coping skills, Daily walk, Fear, forgiveness, Game, Games that Teach, Jonah, Obedience, self-image, Trust

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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The Amazing Journey (GAME SERIES)


I’ve published a new series on the Lesson and Material Downloads page.  It’s called, “The Amazing Journey” (or AJ for short), and there are 20 object lessons.  Ten of the lessons focus on the story of Daniel and ten focus on the story of Esther.  They are non-competitive, but you can make them competitive if you like.

I’m writing them for a summer camp that I have in a few days.  Some of them need facilitator notes to help you set them up, but you should be able to figure most of them out.  I won’t have time to do the facilitator notes until after camp, but if you need them for a lesson, drop me a comment, and I’ll write them up for you for any of the lessons.

Blessings….Michael

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Filed under Belief, Christianity, courage, Daily walk, Daniel, Esther, faith, Fear, Game, Games that Teach, God's Will, Hands-on, Kindness, leadership, Obedience, Object Lesson, prayer, Relationships, Satan's tactics, struggles, temptation, test