Category Archives: Purpose

Jacob’s Family (BIBLE LESSON)


DanTime

30 minutes
Description

This Bible Lesson teaches about Jacob and his family and focuses on the meaning of the names given to each of his children.  It is a good introduction to the story of Joseph.

 

Scriptures

  • Genesis 29-30, 35

 

Materials

  • Optional – You can use the slides that I’ve created for this lesson. They are all funny pictures of me (or one of my children) posing as each of the different characters.  The file is located at www.teachingthem.com on the Lesson and Material Downloads page.  It is named, “Jacob’s Family – Pictures.”

 

Preparation

  • Practice the script.

 

Procedure

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

  • “I would like to tell you about Jacob and his family.”
  • “It’s a story from the book of Genesis.”
  • “Jacob got into trouble with his twin brother, Esau (another good story for another day!).”
  • “Esau was so mad he wanted to kill Jacob, and Jacob’s mom thought it would be a good idea to send him to live with her brother and his family.”  (Show slide with the map of Canaan.)
  • “Jacob traveled far from his home to a place called Haran, where his uncle Laban lived.” (Advance slide to show the arrow that leads from Canaan to Haran.)
  • “When he arrived, he met his cousin, Rachel, and fell madly in love with her.”
  • “He agreed to work for Laban for seven years to earn the right to marry his daughter, but at the end of that time, Laban tricked Jacob and made him marry his older daughter, Leah, instead.”
  • “Leah wasn’t as pretty as Rachel, so Laban was afraid she wouldn’t be able to find a husband if he didn’t trick Jacob into marrying her.”
  • “Jacob was really mad, but Laban agreed to let him marry Rachel, too, if he would work for him for seven more years.”
  • “Jacob agreed and married Rachel the following week.”
  • “He kept his promise to work for Laban another seven years and then continued working for him for another six, because Laban kept tricking him and changing his wages.”
  • “But even though Laban was dishonest with Jacob, God blessed Jacob with a large family during the time that he worked for his uncle.”
  • “Jacob had twelve sons and a daughter during that time.”
  • “But it wasn’t exactly a happy family.”
  • “The Bible teaches that we should only marry one person.”
  • “Jacob married two, and they were sisters.”
  • “And these sisters were competitive!”
  • “Jacob didn’t really love Leah.”
  • “He had been tricked into marrying her, but Rachel was his true love.”
  • “Because Leah was unloved, God blessed her with children.”
  • “Her first child was a son, which was a big blessing during those times.”
  • “Sons were preferred because they could do hard work and earn money to support their families.”
  • “Leah named this first son Reuben, which means, ‘Look! It’s a boy!’”  (Show slide.)
  • “Names were pretty important to the Hebrew people.”
  • “When people knew the meaning of your name, they knew something about you or about what was going on when you were born.”
  • “Leah was so excited that she had a boy, she celebrated with his name.”
  • “When she named him, she told those who were with her that God had been compassionate to her during her painful loneliness and that she hoped now her husband would love her.”
  • “But even though Leah brought a great blessing to the family, Jacob still didn’t love her.”
  • “So God blessed her again, and she had another son.” (Show slide.)
  • “This one she named Simeon, which means, ‘God heard.’”
  • “Leah knew that God had heard her prayers for another son, and she believed that Jacob would love her now.”
  • “But he didn’t.”
  • “So, God blessed her with a third son, and she named him Levi, which means, ‘Connect.’” (Show slide.)
  • “The desire of Leah’s heart was to connect with her husband, but he still didn’t love her.”
  • “So God gave her another son, and she named him Judah, which means, ‘Praise God!’” (Show slide.)
  • “Four boys made her one of the most blessed women in all the land, so she rightfully gave God praise for his blessings on her life.”
  • “Remember I told you that these sisters were competitive?”
  • “Rachel wasn’t able to have children of her own, and she was getting madder and madder every time Leah gave birth to a boy.”
  • “She said to Jacob, ‘I’ll die if you don’t give me children!’”
  • “And so she came up with a plan.”
  • “Since she couldn’t have children of her own, she gave her servant, Bilhah, to Jacob.”
  • “The custom in that land was that if your servant had children with your husband, those children were counted as your own children.”
  • “God blessed Bilhah, and she had a boy.” (Show slide.)
  • “Rachel named him Dan, which means, ‘Vindication!’”
  • “Vindication means, ‘to be justified or cleared of guilt.’”
  • “Back then, if you couldn’t have children, people thought it was because God didn’t love you.”
  • “Now Rachel felt that she was justified by God and that He had proven His love for her with the birth of Dan.”
  • “Because she had some catching up to do, Rachel gave Bilhah to Jacob again, and Bilhah got pregnant a second time.” (Show slide.)
  • “She gave birth to another boy, and Rachel named him Naphtali, which means, ‘Fight!’”
  • “Rachel said, ‘I’ve had to wrestle with my own sister and with God, and I’ve won!’”
  • “Now, Leah started to get worried.”
  • “She wasn’t having any children of her own, so she gave her maid, Zilpah, to Jacob, too.”
  • “Zilpah got pregnant and had a boy.” (Show slide.)
  • “Leah named the boy Gad, which means, ‘Lucky,’ because she felt so lucky to have five boys!”
  • “Leah gave Zilpah to Jacob again, and Zilpah had another boy.” (Show slide.)
  • “Leah named him Asher, which means, ‘Happy,’ because she was so happy to have six boys!”
  • “One day after this, Reuben (Leah’s oldest son) was digging and found some mandrakes, which have a root that looks a little like a person.”
  • “People used to believe that it had special powers to make women pregnant, so Rachel asked Leah if she could have it.”
  • “Leah didn’t want to share it.”
  • “She was unhappy because Jacob never spent time with her anymore.  He only spent time with Rachel.”
  • “Leah agreed to share the mandrake if Rachel would tell Jacob to spend time with her, so Rachel did it.”
  • “So, Leah got pregnant again and had a seventh son.” (Show slide.)
  • “She named him Issachar, which means, ‘Bartered,’ because she traded the mandrake with her sister so that she could spend time with Jacob.”
  • “Then, Leah had another son, and she named him Zebulun, which means, ‘Honor.’” (Show slide.)
  • “Leah hoped that Jacob would now honor her as his wife, since she had given him eight sons.”
  • “God blessed her one more time after that, and she had a daughter, whom she named Dinah.” (Show slide.)
  • “Dinah means, ‘Justified,’ which is a lot like the name Rachel gave to Bilhah’s first son, Dan.”
  • “Leah felt that eight sons and a daughter justified her as Jacob’s wife.”
  • “After that, God heard the prayers of Rachel and gave her a son of her own.”  (Show slide.)
  • “Rachel named him Joseph, which means, ‘Add.’”
  • “She said, ‘God has taken away my shame.  May he add to me another son.’”
  • “Because Joseph was the first son of Rachel, the wife Jacob loved, Joseph was his father’s favorite and could do no wrong.”
  • “Jacob finally got away from Laban after that and went to live back near his home in Canaan.”
  • “There Rachel gave him another son.” (Show slide.)
  • “But Rachel was much older now, and her body struggled through the labor.”
  • “In the end, it was too much for her.”
  • “As the boy was born, Rachel knew she was dying.”
  • “When they asked her what she wanted to name the boy, she said, ‘Ben-Oni,’ which means, ‘Son of my pain.’”
  • “Then, she died, and Jacob buried her with much grief.”
  • “A name is an important thing for a Hebrew.”
  • “It says a lot about you.”
  • “How do you think Ben-Oni would feel growing up with a name that means ‘Son of my pain?’”
  • “Everyone would know he caused his parents deep pain.”
  • “They would know (because people talk) that his mother died giving birth to him.”
  • “And every time his father, his siblings, a friend, a teacher or anyone else called his name, he would be reminded that his birth killed his mother.”
  • “Jacob couldn’t let that happen, so he changed Ben-Oni’s name to Ben-jamin, which means, ‘Son of Good Fortune.’” (Advance slide.)
  • “What an act of grace and kindness!”
  • “Instead of having a name linked with his mother’s pain and death, Benjamin had a name that reflected his father’s deep gratitude to God for giving him another child.”
  • “Maybe people have tried to give you a name like Ben-Oni’s, a name that constantly reminds you that you’re not good enough, that people don’t want you, that you’re not loved.”
  • “It may be a terrible nickname you are teased with, or it might be words like, “Worthless!’ ‘Unwanted,’ ‘Accident,’ ‘Mistake,’ ‘Screw-up,’ or ‘Failure.”
  • “I’m here to tell you that your Father in heaven would never use that name or that label to refer to you.”
  • “Your Father in heaven doesn’t think you are a mistake or an accident or a screw-up or a failure.”
  • “He thinks you are an incredible, wonderful blessing!”
  • “He loves you immensely, and there is nothing you can do that would ever make Him love you any less.”
  • “To your Father in heaven, you will always be the child of His good fortune!”

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Filed under Future, Jacob, Joseph, Purpose

Name Change Toss (GAME)


Time

10-15 minutes
Description

God often changed someone’s name in Scripture to identify his or her potential, and other people in authority renamed characters for various reasons. This matching game challenges children to select both the old and new names of the Biblical characters and throw a beanbag on each one to earn points.

 

Scriptures

  • John 1:40-42

 

Materials

  • Masking tape (1 roll)
  • Permanent marker (1 – darker color)
  • Name cards (A PowerPoint file with these names is available on the Lesson and Material Downloads page at www.teachingthem.comin the file called, “Name Change Toss – Name Cards.”):
    • Abram (Exalted Father); Abraham (Father of Many)
    • Sarai (Argumentative); Sarah (Princess)
    • Jacob (Deceiver); Israel (He Struggles With God)
    • Ben-Oni (Son of My Trouble); Benjamin (Son of My Right Hand)
    • Lo-Ruhamah (Not Loved); Ruhamah (Loved)
    • Lo-Ammi (Not My People); Ammi (My People)
    • Simon (Listens and Obeys); Peter (the Rock)
    • Saul (Prayed For); Paul (Humble)
  • Beanbags (2) or something similar that children can toss onto the grid
  • Bible

 

Preparation

  • Select a space to play the game.
  • Create your 4×4 grid with masking tape (each square should be about 8”x8”).
  • Create or print your name cards.
  • Lay the name cards down (one per square in the grid) in random order (face-up). Separate the old and new names from each other.
  • Lay down a strip of masking tape about six feet away from the grid, and label it, “Tossing Line” with a permanent marker.
  • Have your beanbags ready
  • Practice the script.

 

Procedure

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

  • “In Bible times, your name was very important.  It told what people could expect from you.”
  • “When God changed your name, it was because He knew your potential and wanted to share His plan for your future.”
  • “Can anyone think of someone from the Bible who had their name changed?”  (Acknowledge responses, and share the meanings of any of the following names that are mentioned.
    • Abram (Exalted Father); Abraham (Father of Many)
    • Sarai (Argumentative); Sarah (Princess)
    • Jacob (Deceiver); Israel (He Struggles With God)
    • Ben-Oni (Son of My Trouble); Benjamin (Son of My Right Hand)
    • Lo-Ruhamah (Not Loved); Ruhamah (Loved)
    • Lo-Ammi (Not My People); Ammi (My People)
    • Simon (Listens and Obeys); Peter (the Rock)
    • Saul (Prayed For); Paul (Humble))
  • “Let’s play a game to try to match the old and new names of some of these biblical characters.”
  • “Follow me over to this grid that I’ve made on the floor.” (Lead children to the grid.)
  • “You will take turns throwing the beanbags and trying to hit both the old and new names.”
  • “You have to make your toss from this line.” (Point out the Tossing Line.)
  • “If you get both the old and new names for any person, you can remove both cards, get two points and try again.”
  • “If your beanbags land on names that aren’t a match or off the grid, the next person in line gets to try.”
  • “The person with the most points when all the cards have been collected wins.”
  • “Does anyone have any questions?”  (Answer questions, and then line up the children behind the Tossing Line.  Let them take turns tossing two beanbags each.  If they get a match, they can collect the cards and try again.  If they don’t, the next person in line gets a turn, and the person who missed rotates to the back of the line. Play several rounds if you have time, and then ask the Debrief Questions below.)

 

Debrief Questions

  1. How important do you think your name is in today’s times?
  2. Why do you think Jesus changed Peter’s name from Simon to Peter?
  3. How do you think it made Peter feel?
  4. Do you think Peter ever became a “rock” for God?  Why or why not?

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Filed under Abraham, Abram, Game, Names, Paul, Peter, Purpose, Sarah

Strategic Planning and Nehemiah (BIBLICAL CASE STUDY)


Audience

Teens, Adults

Time

45 minutes
Description

A Biblical Case Study is an exercise that uses Scripture to practice the use of modern business and leadership tools.  In this case study, participants will use the first four chapters of the book of Nehemiah to create a strategic planning Waterfall Model (i.e., Mission, Vision, Strategy, Tactics, Outcomes, Values, Environment).

 

Scriptures

Nehemiah, chapters 1-4

 

Materials

o  Copies of the file “Strategic Planning and Nehemiah – Slides.ppt” (can be found at www.teachingthem.com on the Lesson and Material Downloads page.  There are two slides in the presentation, and you can either project them with an LCD projector or print them out to be used as handouts. 1 copy per table group if you print them out.)

  • Flipchart paper and markers for each table group (1-2 pages each).
  • Masking tape (if you want to hang the flipcharts on the wall)

o  Computer, LCD projector and screen (OPTIONAL)

o  Bible for each table group

Preparation

o  Print out the “Strategic Planning and Nehemiah – Slides.ppt” file. (or have it ready to project with the LCD projector)

o  Practice the script.

 

Procedure

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

  • “In strategic planning, there is a simple model that shows the basic elements of a strategic plan and how they relate to each other.” (Hand out Waterfall Model printout, or project on the screen.)
  • “It’s called the Waterfall Model, and it gets it’s name from how each element spills into the next from top to bottom.”
  • “It starts with the Mission.  The Mission is ‘Why we exist.’”
  • “It’s our purpose, why we do what we do.”
  • “Once we’ve designed it, it shouldn’t change very often.”
  • “At the bottom of the Waterfall are the Outcomes.  Outcomes tell us ‘What we hope to achieve’ through our Mission.”
  • “These are specific and measurable goals that let us know if we are achieving our Mission along the way.”
  • “In strategic planning, design your Mission first and your Outcomes second so that you know why you do what you do and what you want to accomplish.”
  • “Below the Mission is the Vision.  The Vision is ‘Where and what we want to be.’”
  • “A Vision is different from a Mission, because it defines a specific point in the future – a long-term goal that we want to reach.”
  • “It paints a picture of the future that tells us how far we want to go or what we want to become.”
  • “It’s likely that an organization, a team or an individual will have many Visions for the future, creating new ones each time the old ones are achieved, but they will probably only have one Mission.”
  • “Below the Vision is the Strategy.  Strategy tells us ‘How we plan to get there,’ and it’s specifically related to the Vision.”
  • “It gives us a mid-term (as opposed to long-term or short-term) set of instructions about how we will reach our Vision.”
  • “It’s more specific than Vision, but it is less specific than Tactics, which are below it on the Waterfall.”
  • “The idea of Strategy is that it gives us the big picture of what our major efforts will be to achieve the Vision.”
  • “Below the Strategy are the Tactics.  These are short-term plans that tell us very specifically ‘What we need to do.’”
  • “Tactics are an action plan that tell who does what by when.”
  • “While it is good for the leadership team of an organization to create the Mission, Vision and even the Strategy, the group doing the work should usually come up with the Tactics.”
  • “This is because they understand the work that needs to be done better than the leaders and because it is important that those doing the implementation of the Vision and Strategy have ownership of what they are doing.”
  • “They are more likely to own what they are doing if they have an opportunity to determine some or all of the Tactics that they will be using.”
  • “If we did a good job with our strategic plan, the Tactics will align with the Strategy to help us to accomplish the Vision, and Outcomes will be achieved along the way.”
  • “There are two other elements that we have to consider.”
  • “The first is Values.  Values tell us ‘How we behave’ as an organization, a team or an individual.”
  • “Values reflect the things we really care about, and they should have influence on every part of the Waterfall model.”
  • “For example, if we had a Value for Integrity, it would not be okay to achieve our Outcomes by doing something dishonest.”
  • “Our Strategy couldn’t involve taking advantage of people, and our Vision couldn’t be to reach a goal at any cost.”
  • “The last element is Environment.  Environment describes “The conditions in which we operate.’”
  • “It includes things that work for us and things that work against us, e.g., competition, culture, government, law, technology, economy, etc.”
  • “We need to consider what Environment we are working in so that we can anticipate how to take advantage of opportunities and minimize threats.”
  • “Moreover, the Environment is constantly changing and will force us to make adjustments in our Vision, Strategy, Tactics and even our Mission and Outcomes at times.”
  • “So, this is the Waterfall Model of Strategic Planning.  What questions do you have before I have you practice using it?”  (Answer any questions.)
  • “To practice using it, I would like for each table group to create a flipchart with a Waterfall Model for Nehemiah as he worked with the Israelites to build up the walls of Jerusalem.”
  • “You can find the story in the book of Nehemiah.  We will work just with chapters 1-4.”
  • “We could use the entire book, but that might take too long, so I’ve limited the exercise to just these first four chapters.”
  • “On your flipcharts, you will make a Waterfall Model that shows Nehemiah’s Mission, Vision, Strategy, Tactics, Outcomes, Values and Environment.”
  • “The information may not be explicitly stated for each of the elements, so it’s okay to make an educated guess about what it might be.”
  • “For example, Nehemiah never tells us his Mission, but we can infer it from what he says and does in the story.”
  • “Does anyone have any questions before we get started?”  (Answer questions.  Then allow 20-30 minutes for them to create their flipcharts.  When everyone is done, have each team present their flipchart to the larger group.  Debrief by asking each group to share what they learned from the exercise and how they will use it.)

 

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Filed under Case Study, Mission, Nehemiah, Purpose, Strategic Planning, Value, Vision