Category Archives: Transformation

An Excellent Failure (ANECDOTE)


Success is 99 Percent FailureI was at a meeting with some of our leaders from part of my ministry a few weeks ago, and we were discussing the topic of failure and how it is perceived within our organization.  We agreed that there is an unspoken rule that failure is NOT okay.  We will go to great lengths to prevent failure or even to cover it up and make it look like success when it does happen.  
 
Why do we do this?  It’s not biblical.  Jesus let His disciples fail on a regular basis.  Here are a few examples.  They failed when they:
  • Tried to cast out an unclean spirit from a boy
  • Were asked to feed the 5,000
  • Argued about who would be the greatest in the Kingdom
  • Walked on water
  • Tried to stay awake and pray with Jesus before His arrest
  • Defended Jesus against the soldiers
  • Denied knowing Jesus
You may think I’m cynical, but I believe Jesus even set them up for failure on certain occasions.  He knew that they wouldn’t succeed, but He let them try anyway.  Why?  Because failure gives birth to growth and learning, maturity, character, humility, a teachable spirit, dependence on God, empathy for others, and even innovation, transformation, and revival!  We learn sooooo much more from our failures than we do from our successes.  Are we missing out on God’s best for us when we work so hard not to fail?
 
Recognizing this problem in their culture, here’s what one region of our ministry did.  They flipped failure on its head.  Instead of hiding failures, they required their leaders to celebrate them.  In every leader’s performance appraisal for the past few years, they have had to share an “excellent failure” for which they were personally responsible.  An “excellent failure” is a failure that taught you something, that gave you a new perspective, that prepared you, that matured you, that shaped you to be more like Christ.  It’s a failure that produces a harvest in your life or ministry.  
 
And for it to count, you have to own it.  You’ve got to identify what you did or did not do that made things go wrong.  You’ve got to say, “I failed,” or else the failure has no power to change you.  You can’t dilute it by saying “we” or “my team” or “because they.”  There may be truth in those statements, but the failure won’t be transformational for you until you acknowledge your part.
 
So, what do you think?  Do you have the courage to own your failure?  Are you willing to put your name on it and see what God is willing to do with a transparent and humble leader?
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. ~ 2 Corinthians 12:9
 
Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. ~ John 12:24
 
For though the righteous fall seven times, they rise again… ~ Proverbs 24:16

 

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Filed under Failure, Humility, test, Transformation, Transparency, Trial

Lemme See (QUICK DRAMA)


DESCRIPTION

This short drama reenacts the story of Zacchaeus the Tax Collector from Luke 19:1-10.  It is intended to make the story a little easier for young minds to understand or to give new perspective for older minds.

 

PREPARATION

  • Have a ladder ready and off to the side for “Zach” to use.
  • Assemble a costume for the person playing Jesus (white robe, sash or shawl, beard, etc.)

 

 

SCENE:         A crowd of three or four people is standing around waiting for something special to happen and straining to see who is coming in the distance.  Zach enters from behind the crowd but can’t see what all the excitement is about. The actor should come in on his knees to simulate being much shorter than all the others.

 

Zach –              “Hey, what’s going on?”

 

Person 1 –        (Not even looking at Zach but still watching for something special to happen) “Quiet down, little man!  We’re waiting for the miracle worker.”

 

Zach –              (Trying to pry a space between people so that he can see) “Miracle worker?  I want to see!  Can you let me through?”

 

Person 2 –        (Intentionally blocking his way) “Oh, no you don’t!  The miracle worker isn’t interested in someone like you.  You’re a bad person!”

 

Zach –              (Trying to pry a space between people in another part of the crowd) “Come on, guys! I just want to see him!  I heard he has someone like me on his team.”

 

Person 3 –        (Blocking the way) “You mean a tax collector?  (Looking puzzled and asking a question of the person next to him/her) Yeah, why DID he pick that Matthew guy to be on his team?  All those tax collectors are criminals.  He must have chosen Matthew because he is rich from stealing our money!”

 

Zach –              (Still trying to break through) “I don’t think that’s why…I heard Matthew left all his money behind when he followed the miracle worker.  Please let me through!  I should be allowed to see him, too!”

 

Person 1 –        (Blocking the way) “Not if I can help it!  Any miracles he does today will be for me!”

 

                        (Zach realizes he can’t get through the crowd and comes up with a better idea.  He grabs a ladder and climbs up on top (on his knees if possible and safe).  Just then, Jesus arrives and calls out to him.)

 

Jesus –             “Hi, Zach!  What are you doing up there?  Come down so that I can spend some time with you!”

 

                        (The crowd gasps!  Zach climbs down and forces his way through the crowd to Jesus.)

 

Person 2 –        “Doesn’t he know what a bad person that guy is?”

 

Person 3 –        “That’s TWO tax collectors he has talked to!  What kind of miracle worker is this?”

 

Person 1 –        “Hey, what about me?  I want a miracle!”

 

Zach –              (Looking up at Jesus) “Jesus, they are right.  I’ve been a bad person…but I’m willing to fix it right here and right now!  I will give half of what I own to the poor, and I’ll pay back anyone I’ve cheated four times as much as I took!”

 

Jesus –             (Smiling) “Okay, Zach, it’s a start…and a good one.  I don’t care as much about what you’ve done in the past as I do about what you choose to do today, and you are choosing well.”

 

Zach –              (Taking Jesus by the hand and walking toward the door) “I want you to meet my friends.  (Pausing)  Uh….they are a lot like me…you don’t mind, do you?”

 

Jesus –             “Of COURSE I don’t mind, Zach…those are exactly the people I came to find.  I want to meet all your friends!”

 

Zach –              “Awesome!  They are going to love you! (Pausing before opening the door) Hey, can you do one of those miracles and make me taller?”

 

Jesus –             (Opening the door for Zach, and walking through) “Zach, you stood taller today than you have in your entire life!”

 

EXIT

 

END SCENE

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Filed under drama, forgiveness, God's Plan, Obedience, Quick Drama, Repentance, salvation, Transformation, unconditional love

Reflecting God’s Glory (OBJ LESSON)


Time

10-15 minutes
Description

This object lesson teaches that we have no light of our own but that we are called to reflect God’s light to the world.  It uses the story of Moses’ glowing face when he came down from Mount Sinai after meeting with God to make the point that the more time we spend with God, the more we will reflect His glory.

 

Audience

  • Children, Youth, Adults

 

Scriptures

  • Exodus 34:29-35
  • Matthew 5:14-16
  • John 8:12
  • 2 Corinthians 3:18

 

Materials

  • Small mirrors or other reflective surfaces (at least 5-6, but you may want more if you want the entire audience to participate)
  • A bright light source and power to make it work (a large flashlight or lamp would work)
  • A barrier behind which you will hide the light source (It should hide the light source from the audience.)
  • Something (or someone) that can hold the light source steady and point it toward the front of the room.
  • Anything you need to darken the room (You will need to block light coming from windows, doors and artificial light sources.)
  • Bible

 

Preparation

  • Set up the barrier near the front of the room but off to the side.  It should allow the light source to show toward the front of the room but be concealed to all other parts of the room.
  • Set up the light source and angle the light so that it points toward the front of the room.  Turn the light on before you begin your lesson.
  • Block light coming from any other light source (but leave the lights on until the appropriate time to turn them off in your lesson).
  • Ask someone to turn off the lights for you when you give the signal.
  • Set the mirrors or reflective surfaces near the front of the room where you can access them easily.
  • Practice the script.

 

Procedure

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

  • “One of the most important things we can do as Christians is to give glory to God.”
  • “In the book of Exodus (2nd book of the Bible in the OT), it tells the story of Moses when he came down from Mount Sinai with the two tablets that had the ‘Ten Commandments’ on them.”  (Have someone read Exodus 34:29-35.)
  • “Because Moses had been spending so much time with God up on the mountain, when he came down, his face glowed with the glory of the Lord!”
  • “It was so bright that the Israelites were afraid of Moses at first, and he had to put a veil over his face when he talked to them.”
  • “Paul talks about this story in 2 Corinthians 3:18 (have someone read the Scripture), but he says we should act differently than Moses.”
  • “We shouldn’t put a veil over God’s glory; we should let it reflect off of us as brightly as possible.”
  • “In fact, he says that as we are being transformed to look more and more like Jesus, we will reflect more and more of God’s glory.”
  • “It’s important to remember, though, that this glory isn’t from us.”
  • “We don’t have any light of our own.”
  • “All our light is reflected light from God.”
  • “We should be like this mirror.”  (Hold up a mirror to show the audience.)
  • “How much light does the mirror emit by itself?”  (Acknowledge responses, and lead them to the correct answer if they get it wrong.)
  • “The truth is that the mirror cannot create light; it can only reflect light.”
  • “Let me show you what I mean.”  (Have your volunteer turn off the lights.  Be careful not to angle your mirror toward your hidden light source.  You don’t want it to reflect any light yet.)
  • “What happened?”  (Acknowledge responses.)
  • “When the lights went out, you couldn’t really see the mirror anymore.”
  • “Why is that?”  (Acknowledge responses, and guide them toward the right answer – it doesn’t emit any light of its own.)
  • “The mirror only reflects – it doesn’t create light.”
  • “But who has noticed that there is a light source somewhere in the room?”  (Acknowledge responses.)
  • “Right!  There is a light coming from over there!”
  • “Now, none of you can actually see the light source, but you can see the evidence of the light source.”
  • “What I mean is that you don’t know what is actually making the light, but you can see what it does – it makes things brighter and better.”
  • “God is like that for most of the people in the world.”
  • “We can’t see Him, but we can see what He does – He makes things brighter and better.”
  • “He pushes back darkness and shines His glory in the world.”
  • “Most people don’t know what the Light Source of the world is, but Christians do!”
  • “If you are a Christian, you know where the light in the world comes from; it comes from Jesus.”
  • “In John 8:12, Jesus tells us, ‘I am the light of the world.  Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.’”
  • “That’s pretty cool – we’ll have the light of life and won’t walk in darkness.”  (Angle your mirror so that it catches the light, but point the light away from the audience.)
  • “But we aren’t supposed to just keep the light for ourselves.”
  • “Jesus was the light in the world while He was here on earth, but now He has gone back to heaven, and no one can see Him.”
  • “That’s why he tells His followers in Matthew 5:14, ‘You are the light of the world.’” (Have someone read Matthew 5:14-16.)
  • “He tells them, ‘Let your light shine before men, so that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.’”
  • “We can’t keep this light to ourselves – we have to let it shine!”  (Angle your mirror so that the light falls on someone in the audience.)
  • “Here’s what’s great!  When you let the light of Jesus shine on someone, there’s a good chance that they will want see that light for themselves.”  (Invite the person you shined the light on to come to the front of the room.  Give him or her a mirror, and show him or her how to catch the light and angle it toward someone else in the audience.)
  • “If they do, then they will start to reflect the light of Jesus in the world, and the person they shine it on might want to see the Light Source for himself/herself.”  (Invite the person your volunteer shined the light on to come get a mirror and repeat the process.  You can do this as many times as you would like to multiply the number of people shining the light of Jesus.)
  • “How cool is this!”
  • “By shining the light of Jesus out into the world, we help people recognize how much God loves them.”
  • “When people know how much God loves them, they usually will want to see the Light Source for themselves.”
  • “But we can’t keep the light to ourselves.”  (Have all the mirror-holders angle their mirrors away from the audience.)
  • “That would be selfish and disobedient to what God has asked us to do, and no one would know how much God loves them.”  (Have them angle their mirrors back toward the audience and move them around so that the light dances around the room.)
  • “Jesus tells us how we can reflect His light.”
  • “He says in Matthew 14-16 that when we do good deeds because of our love of God, His light will reflect off of us, and people will praise God.”
  • “So we’ve got to find ways to do good things for people who don’t know God.”
  • “Right now, I want you to quickly think of one good thing you could do for someone (especially someone who doesn’t know God).”
  • “Tell the person next to you what you thought of.”  (Allow a few moments for them to share their idea.)
  • “Who will actually go and do what you thought of?”  (Acknowledge responses.)
  • “Excellent!  That is how we can reflect God’s glory in the world!!”  (Thank your volunteers, and let them return to their seats as you have your volunteer turn the lights back on.)

 

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Filed under God's Glory, Great Commission, Jesus, Light of the world, Moses, Object Lesson, Testimony, Transformation, Veil, Witness

Bloom Where You Are Planted (CHALLENGE)


Time

10-15 minutes
Description

This Challenge makes the point that we can make a choice to honor God even if difficult situations.  Joseph was sold into slavery by his own brothers, but he was such a trustworthy slave, that Potiphar put him in charge of everything in the house.  When Joseph was accused by Potiphar’s wife and thrown into prison, the prison warden soon put everything under Joseph’s authority, because Joseph was so faithful in how he handled his responsibilities.  Participants will plant flowers in a mixture of gravel and water jelly crystals to show that you can still bloom when you are in a bad place.

Scriptures

  • Genesis 37-50
  • John 4:10-14

 

Materials

  • Water Jelly Crystals – (You can order them from Steve Spangler Science for approximately $40 plus shipping and handling. (2.27 kg (5 pounds)
    Item #: WSAC-900) Order early, because they may take up to two weeks to receive. It’s important that the crystals are clear and not colored.  You can find these crystals at http://www.stevespanglerscience.com/product/1283.
  • Challenge Card (The file for printing is called, “JJ – Bloom Where You Are Planted – 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.)
  • Small, potted flowers (preferably seedlings with some leaves but before they bloom, but this is flexible) – 1 per person
  • Small, clear, plastic cups – 1 per person
  • Gravel – enough to fill each plastic cup about ¾ full
  • Ziplock bags – gallon size – 1 per group
  • Scoops or large plastic spoons – 1 per group
  • Gallon jug of water – 1 per group

 

Preparation

  • Divide the water jelly crystals evenly so that you have the same amount for each group, and place them in Ziplock bags.
  • Add a scoop or large plastic spoon to each bag for scooping out crystals.
  • Add enough plastic cups for each person in each group.
  • Divide the gravel evenly among the groups, and put it into a bag or some other container for each group.
  • Set aside enough flowers for each person in each group.
  • 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).
  • 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, “Bloom Where You Are Planted” 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, cups, water jelly crystals, and a scoop or spoon.”
  • “Each group will also have some flowers, gravel and water.”
  • “When I tell you to go, open your Ziplock bags, and read the Challenge Card.”
  • “You will then take the small seedlings out of their planter and shake off the soil so that all you have is the plant with exposed roots.”
  • “This represents Joseph, who was taken out of the good soil of his home and family.”
  • “Next, take a handful of gravel rocks and a handful of water jelly crystals, and mix them together.”
  • “Then, put them into your clear, plastic cup.”
  • “This represents the bad soil that Joseph was planted in when he was sold into slavery by his brothers and then again later when he was thrown into prison for something he didn’t do.”
  • “Plants can’t usually grow in rocks, because they need nutrients from the soil and something to hold the water when it rains.”
  • “That’s why we added water jelly crystals.  They hold water and help the roots to get the refreshing water that they need to grow.”
  • “So here’s the secret reason why Joseph was able to continue to grow even though he was in a bad place.”
  • “God was with him.”
  • “The water jelly crystals represent God’s presence in Joseph’s life.”
  • “Plants need normal water to thrive, but people need LIVING WATER, which is God’s Word and presence, to thrive.”
  • “Jesus says in John 4:10 that we can ask Him, and he will give us living water.”
  • “Then, He says in John 4:13-14 that ‘Everyone who drinks (regular) water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water (Jesus) gives them will never thirst. Indeed, the water (Jesus) gives them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.’”
  • “That means that if you depend on Jesus, you will have eternal life with Him in heaven.”
  • “Put your finger into the gravel and water jelly crystals and make a hole for the seedling to be planted in.”
  • “Then, plant the seedling in the gravel, and move the gravel and water jelly crystals around the root.”
  • “Finally, add some water to about halfway up the cup.”
  • “Now, let’s set these aside.  We’ll watch them during the week (or weeks) to see if they thrive in their new soil.  They may even bloom!”
  • (When you are finished, have them answer the Debrief Questions below (also on their Challenge Cards.  The Rhyme Time is a reinforce to help them remember that if they continue to trust God, He will make even difficult situations a blessing for them.)

 

Debriefing Questions

 

  1. Do you think the flower will bloom where you planted it?  Why or why not?
  2. Why do you think Joseph was able to succeed in difficult situations?
  3. How could you “bloom” when you find yourself in a difficult place?

 

Rhyme Time

If we trust Him and obey,

God makes bad things go OUR way!

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Filed under Abundance, acceptance, activity, Challenges, Character, Choices, Coping skills, courage, Daily walk, Hands-on, Hope, Joseph, Object Lesson, Overcoming obstacles, Scarcity, struggles, Transformation, Waiting on the Lord

Lemons Into Lemonade (OBJ LESSON)


Time

10-15 minutes
Audience

Children, Teens, Adults

 

Description

This object lesson teaches about how God brings good things out of bad and uses the metaphor of turning lemons into lemonade.

Scriptures

  •   Romans 8:28

Materials

  • Lemons – enough for everyone to have a wedge after you cut them up and 5 or 6 for you to juice at the front of the room
  • Lemonade – enough for everyone to have some (I recommend Capri Sun Lemonade pouches for the ease of preparation, distribution and clean-up.)
  • Knife (to cut the lemons)
  • Juicer (manual or electric)
  • Bowl or Ziplock bag to hold the lemon wedges
  • Cup or bowl to catch the juice
  • Sugar (1 cup should be enough for the amount of lemonade you are making)
  • Water (approximately 2 quarts)
  • Pitcher (one)
  • Spoon (for stirring the lemonade)
  • Table to work on

Preparation

  • Slice lemons into wedges.
  • Set up all your materials on a table at the front.
  • Enlist a few helpers to help you pass out lemons and lemonade at different times during the lesson.
  • Practice the script.

Procedure

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

  • “How many of you have tasted a lemon before?” (As you talk, juice five or six lemons into your cup or bowl, and have someone pass around the lemon wedges to everyone in the audience.)
  •  “Why don’t we all take a taste of the lemons you’ve been given.” (Demonstrate what you want them to do, and observe them tasting their lemons.  Comment on the sour faces.)
  • “They are pretty sour, aren’t they?”  (Continue juicing your lemons as you talk.)
  • “They make you think twice before taking a second bite, I bet.”
  • “You know, sometimes life is pretty sour. I bet this is not the first time you made that face.”
  • “The truth is, bad things sometimes happen to good people.”
  • “Sometimes it’s not your fault.”
  • “You may not have done anything to deserve it, but you are suffering anyway.”
  • “Maybe a bully picks on you or your brother takes your stuff or your sister tells a lie about you…”
  • “Those could be pretty sour experiences, and they might make you want to make the same face you made a minute ago.”
  • “But you know what? When life gives you lemons, God makes lemonade!”
  • “Yep, He uses the bad stuff that happens to us to make us better. He doesn’t always take the bad stuff away. Often, He sweetens it.” (Pour the juice, water and some of your sugar into the pitcher and stir.)
  • “One day, the same bully who picked on you may become your friend.”
  • “Your brother took your old stuff, but you got something better.”
  • “Your sister told a lie about you, but she apologized later.”
  • “God takes lemons and makes lemonade.” (Taste, make sour face, add more sugar and stir.)
  • “It may take some time for God to sweeten up your lemon juice, but I promise He will if you will trust him with your lemons.” (Taste and smile.)
  • “Ahhh! That’s good stuff! How’s your lemonade?”  (Show mock surprise when they protest that they only have lemons.)
  • “What? All you’ve got are sour lemons?”
  • “Let’s ask God to make those lemons into some lemonade.” (Signal some helpers to get ready to pass out lemonade as you pray.)
  • (PRAY) “Lord, all of these kids have gotten some lousy lemons in their lives. Will you please take those sour lemons and turn them into sweet lemonade for each person in this room? We thank you for your faithful hand in our lives, and we give you every lemon that’s ever happened to us. We love you, Lord. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.”  (Signal your helpers to pass out the lemonade.)
  • “Now, let’s have some lemonade to celebrate what God’s going to do with our lemons one day.”  (The Rhyme Time below can be used to reinforce the message of the lesson.  You can also have a volunteer read Romans 8:28 to show how God promises to make all things work for the good of those who love Him.)

 

Rhyme Time

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

 

 

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Filed under Abundance, acceptance, blessing, Bullying, Challenges, Change, Conflict Resolution, God's Plan, God's Protection, Healing, learning, Lesson, Object Lesson, Overcoming obstacles, Problem solving, Transformation

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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Filed under Abraham, Abram, Challenges, Choices, Decision making, discipleship, faith, God's Plan, God's Will, Jesus, Joseph, Lesson, Listening to God, Obedience, Object Lesson, Repentance, Satan's tactics, Spiritual Growth, temptation, Transformation, unity

Do Clothes Really Make the Man? (OBJ LESSON)


Time

30 minutes
Description

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

 

Scriptures

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

 

Materials

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

 

Preparation

  • Practice the script.

 

Procedure

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

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

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