July 16, 2011 · 10:00 pm
Children, Teens, Adults
This object lesson teaches about wounds that we get when people or circumstances hurt us. These take up a place in our hearts, because our hearts are where we keep things that are very important to us (both good and bad). Wounds are very fertile places in our hearts, so both God and Satan will try to plant seeds there. God’s seeds will turn our wounds into something beautiful, but Satan’s seeds will turn them into something painful, shameful, bitter and/or destructive. (Note: You will need a break in the lesson and/or a helper to plant the flowers and the weeds in the soil.)
- 1 large, heart-shaped pan or container (open at the top and about 3-5 inches deep – will be used as a planter for flowers and weeds and filled with soil.)
- 2 large, over-sized “packages” of seeds (They should be really big – preferably 2 ft tall for an exaggerated effect. They could created out of flipchart paper or something else (like a large mailing envelope.)
- 1 watering can (to water the flowers)
- Thick marker
- Sheet of paper
- Flowers (these can be real or fake – enough to fill the heart-shaped container)
- Weeds (these can be real or fake – about 10 of these)
- Soil (enough to fill the heart-shaped container)
- Seeds to go in each of the seed packages (It doesn’t matter what kind as long as they are large enough to be visible. Sunflower seeds would work well. Put several handfuls into each package.)
- Spread the soil around the heart-shaped container.
- Fill the watering can with water, and have it ready nearby the teaching area.
- Put the flowers and weeds somewhere where they can’t be seen and where you will be able to plant them later without being seen.
- Practice the script.
- Label one package of seeds in large letters that say, “Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness, Self-Control.”
- Label the other package of seeds with large letters that say, “Hate, Sadness, Fear, Impatience, Meanness, Sinfulness, Disloyalty, Harshness, Lack of Control.”
- Use the sheet of paper, marker and tape to label the watering can with a sign that says, “Living Water.”
Use the following script (or modify to suit your needs):
- “Sometimes bad things happen to us.”
- “People mistreat us or hurt us, we have a bad experience, we make a mistake and have to suffer from the consequences…”
- “These things happen to everyone, but sometimes the experience hurts us so much that it creates a wound in our heart.”
- “A wound in your heart is a painful place; it hurts just to think about it.”
- “When you remember what happened, you feel terrible sadness or anger or jealousy or shame and embarrassment.”
- “Don’t raise your hand, but just think to yourself – do you have a wound like that in your heart?” (Allow participants a few moments to consider and remember a wound that they have suffered.)
- “I imagine that we can all think of at least on painful experience in our lives that just won’t go away.” (Ask for a volunteer to come to the front.)
- “A wound is a really fertile place in your heart; that means that it’s a place where things can grow really well.”
- “It’s really fertile because of the pain from the wound. That pain can change you – it can change you for good or change you for evil.”
- “Let’s imagine that this heart-shaped container represents a wound in your heart.” (Show the heart-shaped container, and have the volunteer put his/her fingers through the soil.)
- (To the volunteer…) “Does that look like some fertile soil to you?” (Acknowledge response.)
- “It’s really good soil, and you could grow almost anything in there.”
- “Well, there are two ‘gardeners’ who are very interested in growing things in that soil; one is God, and one is Satan.”
- “They both want to grow things in your wound, because they know how fertile the soil is.”
- “God brings His seeds.” (Hand the large package of God’s seeds (Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness and Self-Control) to your volunteer, and have him/her hold it up where everyone can see.)
- “God’s seeds will grow into the fruit of the Spirit, which is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” (Have volunteer shake some seeds into the soil in the heart.)
- “The Bible says in Romans 8:28 that God will use ALL things for the good of those who love Him.”
- “That means that God can even take the wounds in your heart, the worst things that you have ever experienced, and turn them into blessings for you!”
- “But Satan also brings his seeds.” (Set the God seeds aside and hand the volunteer the other package of seeds.)
- “Satan’s seeds will grow into the fruits of evil, which are the opposite of the fruit of the Spirit: Hate, Sadness, Fear, Impatience, Meanness, Sinfulness, Disloyalty, Harshness, Lack of Control.” (Have volunteer shake some seeds into the soil in the heart.)
- “Now, these two sets of seeds are going to compete to grow in the soil of your heart.”
- “Since the wound is so fertile, they are definitely going to grow, but you get to decide which type of seeds fill up your heart.”
- “Do you want the seeds that grow into the fruit of the Spirit to fill your heart, or do you want the seeds of evil to grow there?” (Acknowledge responses.)
- “If you want the fruit of the Spirit to grow, you’ve got to water those seeds every day with Living Water.” (Hand your volunteer the watering can, making sure that the audience can see the “Living Water” label. Have the volunteer sprinkle some water over the soil.)
- “Living Water is the Word of God – the Bible.”
- “When you water with Living Water every day, the seeds that turn into the fruit of the Spirit are going to grow.”
- “But if you do nothing, the weeds of evil will grow instead.”
- “They don’t need any help to grow, because they grow naturally all by themselves.”
- “The fruit of the Spirit, on the other hand, only grows when you spend time getting closer to God each day by studying His Word, praying and doing your best to follow what His Word says to do.”
- “Let’s give these some time to grow and see what happens.” (Hand the heart-shaped container to a helper (or take a break) to take away and plant the flowers and weeds. Thank and dismiss your volunteer. Plant the flowers all around the heart, and insert weeds at different places. Then, bring the container back into the teaching area to finish the lesson.)
- “Let’s pretend that some time has passed.”
- “Our flowers that represent the fruit of the Spirit (Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness, Self-Control) have grown up, because we have been watering them every day with Living Water by spending time praying, reading God’s Word and doing what it says to do.”
- “Unfortunately, some weeds of evil (Hate, Sadness, Fear, Impatience, Meanness, Sinfulness, Disloyalty, Harshness, Lack of Control) have also grown up in our heart.”
- “That’s the way Satan works. He never gives up.”
- “Even when we are working really hard to let God use the wound to bless us and those around us, Satan will still plant seeds of evil around God’s seeds.”
- “You will have forgiven the person who hurt you, but every once in awhile, feelings of hate or mean thoughts will spring up in your heart.”
- “You may have trusted God with the mistake you made, but every once in awhile, feelings of deep sadness or sinful thoughts or actions might spring up.”
- “Don’t be surprised when this happens…it’s normal.”
- “What you have to do is pull those weeds.” (Ask for volunteer to come up and carefully pull the weeds out without uprooting the flowers.)
- “The way you get those weeds out of your heart is by giving them to God whenever you notice them in your heart.”
- “Pray to God, and ask Him to take away your bad feelings and your bad thoughts. Ask Him to help you stay away from bad actions.”
- “Keep the garden of your heart clean from weeds so that the fruit of the Spirit can really grow and make your heart beautiful.”
- “In that way, God will take a wound in your heart and make it into something beautiful for you and everyone God puts in your life.” (Thank and dismiss your volunteer.)
Filed under blessing, Bullying, Challenges, Fruit of the Spirit, God's Protection, God's Will, Healing, heart, Object Lesson, Overcoming obstacles, purity
Tagged as All things, bad experiences, bad seeds, bitterness, blessings, consequences, curses, destruction, faithfulness, fertile, flowers, Fruit of the Spirit, gardener, gardening, gentleness, God's children, good seeds, goodness, grow, growth, hurt, hurts, inflict, joy, Kindness, Love, pain, painful, patience, peace, Romans 8:28, Satan, self-control, shame, soil of your heart, weeds, wounds
August 16, 2009 · 12:41 am
This object lesson teaches about greed and selfishness and how God wants us to deal with the blessings that He gives us. It uses a metaphor based on the two seas in Israel.
• Luke 6:38, 12:13-21
• Ephesians 3:20-21
• Small, plastic cups (about 50)
• Big, plastic cups (two)
• Water (enough to fill the pitcher)
• Cookie sheet with a lip around the edge
• Fill the pitcher with water
• Practice the script.
Use the following script and instructions (or modify to suit your needs):
• “Let’s read a story that Jesus told about a greedy man.” (Ask volunteer to read Luke 12:13-21.)
• “Why do you think Jesus told them this story?” (Listen to responses. The main idea is that Jesus wanted them to see that greed and the desire for earthly things were not the most important things for those in the Kingdom of God.)
• “What do you think about the rich man in this story?” (Listen to responses.)
• “What else do you think the man could have done with all his extra crop?” (Listen to responses. The one you are looking for to begin the object lesson is that he could have shared the food with people who didn’t have very much.)
• “I’m going to give you a picture of how God wants us to handle the blessings He gives us.”
• “I need everyone to stand up and form a single-file line.” (Help them get into a line. It doesn’t have to be straight. If you have a large number of participants, you can wrap the line around the room.)
• “This line represents some very important bodies of water in the land of Israel.”
• “At this end (designate one end of the line) is the Sea of Galilee.” (Hand the participant on that end one of the large cups, and ask him/her to hold it.)
• “And at this end (designate the other end of the line) is the Dead Sea.” (Hand the participant on the other end the second large cup, and ask him/her to hold it. Place the bucket nearby. If you have a Bible with maps in it, you might want to show the group what Israel looks like and point out the two seas with the Jordan River between them.)
• “The two seas are connected by the Jordan River.” (Hand all the remaining participants one small cup each and ask them to hold it.)
• “Now, even though these two seas are connected by the same river, they are very different from one another.”
• “The Sea of Galilee contains 27 species of fish, some found nowhere else in the world.”
• “Its sweet waters serve as the main water supply for Israel, and its shores are lush with vegetation.”
• “Many people make their living from its waters, fishing or planting crops near the shore.”
• “The Dead Sea, on the other hand, didn’t get its name for nothing.”
• “There are no fish, no fishermen, no vegetation on its shores.”
• “It’s twice as wide and almost four times as long as the Sea of Galilee, but the Dead Sea is toxic and bitter.”
• “There is no life in it or around it except bacteria and one type of algea.”
• “Why is it dead? There are several reasons.”
• “For one, it’s the point of lowest elevation on the planet outside of the ocean depths.”
• “The Jordan River brings water and minerals into the Dead Sea, but it’s so low that the only way the water gets out is by evaporation.”
• “And it’s so hot in this part of the world that seven million gallons of water evaporate from the Dead Sea every day!”
• “So the water evaporates, but the minerals (like salt) stay.”
• “In fact, the Dead Sea is six times saltier than the ocean!”
• “You are probably wondering why I gave you the cups.”
• “We are going to pretend like we are the two seas and the Jordan River to make a point about sharing what God blesses you with.” (Go to the end of the line with the person representing the Sea of Galilee, and use the pitcher to pour water into his/her cup. Then instruct him/her to pour water into the next person’s cup and so on down the line until the water reaches the “Dead Sea” participant. Each time the “Sea of Galilee” participant’s cup of water is emptied, fill it back up. Each time the “Dead Sea” participant’s cup fills up, have him/her empty it into the bucket.)
• “In this demonstration, I represent the top of the Jordan River, which starts before the Sea of Galilee.”
• “I’m sending water and fish and minerals into the Sea of Galilee, and those are travelling down through the Jordan River to the Dead Sea.” (Keep pouring out water whenever necessary.)
• “As a result, the Jordan River Valley is considered to be one of the most fertile places on the planet.
• “It takes all these minerals and water down, down to the Dead Sea, but the fish know not to get too close or they will die.”
• “Then, the water evaporates from the Dead Sea, leaving all the salt and minerals behind.” (Have “Dead Sea” volunteer pour water into the bucket to demonstrate evaporation.)
• “Now, the water is like God’s blessings, and I’m like God, pouring out blessings to this person.”
• “He/she is then sharing those blessings with someone.”
• “As long as he/she keeps sharing those blessings, I’ll keep more blessings coming.”
• “But do you see what the Dead Sea person is doing?”
• “He/she is keeping all the blessings for himself/herself!”
• “That doesn’t work with God.”
• “Just like in the story, God says, ‘You fool! I’m taking to take those blessings away from you and give them to someone else.’”
• “And so, just like that, when we try to keep all the blessings for ourselves, they evaporate!”
• “Do you want to be a ‘Sea of Galilee’ person or a ‘Dead Sea’ person?” (Listen to responses.)
• “’Sea of Galilee’ people keep getting new blessings from God.”
• “They enjoy those blessings and then pass them on to someone else, which gives them the blessing of the joy of sharing.”
• “Okay, pass the last of your blessings down to the Dead Sea, and then bring your cups over here.” (Move to the table, and set out the cookie sheet.)
• “Everyone who has small cups, place them on this cookie sheet right-side-up.” (Have them make a single layer of cups with each cup as close to the others as possible. All sides should touch other cups if possible. Once you have a bottom layer down, start stacking cups (use extras when you need to) on top to make a second layer. Each cup should rest on top of three different cups beneath it. When the second layer is done, add a third and a fourth until you have just one cup the very top of the pyramid you’ve created.)
• “Let’s pretend these cups represent each one of us, and this pitcher represents God.”
• “God pours his blessings out to you, and He wants you to enjoy them.” (Demonstrate by pouring water into the top cup slowly and evenly.)
• “But God never intends for you to keep that blessing all for yourself.”
• “God will bless you more than you can handle all by yourself, and He wants you to share your overflow with those people He has put in your life.” (Allow the water to overflow the top cup into the cups beneath it. Ask volunteer to read Ephesians 3:20-21.)
• “This Scripture says that God is able to bless us immeasurably more than we ask for or than we even imagine.”
• “In the King James version of the Bible, it says that God is able to do exceeding abundantly more than we ask for or imagine.”
• “Isn’t that cool?”
• “The blessings will just keep coming and coming!” (Keep pouring until the cups on the bottom level start to overflow. It’s likely that not all the cups will receiver water from the upper rows. That’s okay.)
• “You just keep blessing those around you with your overflow, and God will keep blessing you.”
• “Now, you know these people in the second row, but maybe you don’t know the people in the third row.”
• “When you bless those close to you, it gives them the ability to bless those who are close to them who you don’t even know.”
• “Then those in this third row can bless those in the fourth row!”
• “When people get blessed, it’s easier for them to bless others.”
• “And maybe some of them know God as their Lord, too.”
• “God will bless them directly in addition to the blessings they get from knowing you.” (Start filling the emptier cups on the second, third or fourth rows, and allow them to overflow to the rows beneath them. Ask volunteer to read Luke 6:38.)
• “God wants to bless you so much that it just runs over like this water, but He says that He will use the same measure you use to bless others.”
• “In other words, the size of cup you use to pour our blessings on others is the same size cup God will use to bless you.”
• “What size cup do you want to use to bless others?” (Listen to responses.)
• “I’m going to use the biggest cup I can find, because I want God’s blessings to keep coming and coming in huge amounts.” (Thank everyone and let them take their seats.)
Filed under Agape Love, generosity, Hands-on, Kindness, Love, Object Lesson, Relationships, sharing, unconditional love
Tagged as ask, blessings, choke, covetousness, Dead Sea, Ephesians 3:20-21, exceeding abundantly, exceedingly, fertile, Fertile Crescent, generosity, generous, giving, greed, helping, imagine, immeasurably more, Israel, Jordan River, Jordan River Valley, life, Luke 12:13-21, Luke 6:38, measure you use, Object Lesson, Parable of the Rich Fool, richness, Sea of Galilee, selfishness, sharing, stinginess, stingy
May 1, 2009 · 1:20 pm
This game teaches that we have God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense (G.R.A.C.E.), but we have to keep returning to God every time we sin in order to keep the relationship strong. If we don’t, we wander further and further from God.
• Copies of the Grace or Guilt Gameboard (See the file, “God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense – Gameboard.ppt” on the “Lesson and Material Downloads” page.)
• Copies of “Grace Cards” (included at the end of this lesson text) – You will need a set for every group of six.
• A copy of the “Debrief Questions” at the end of this lesson. You will need one printout per group.
• Something to act as game pieces. You can use coins, torn pieces of paper, poker chips… You will need enough for all the children to have one.
• Dice (one per group)
• Optional – Prizes for the winners.
• Print the “Grace or Guilt – Gameboard,” and tape the two pages end-to-end. You will need one gameboard for each group of up to six children.
• Print out a copy of the “Grace Cards” at the end of the lesson, and cut them out. Place them face down beside the gameboard.
• Print out a copy of the Debrief Question (one per group).
• Practice the script
Use the following script (or modify to suit your needs):
• “We’re going to play a game to help us understand how sin takes us away from God and the many blessings He wants us to have.”
• “It’s called, ‘God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense.”
• “First, I’ll need to divide you into small groups.” (Divide children into small groups of no more than six each. Then, hand out the gameboards and game pieces.)
• “Here’s the way this game is played.
o First, you will all roll the die (singular for dice) to see who goes first. The highest role wins and goes first. The next-highest roll goes second and so on. If you get a tie, those people should re-roll until someone rolls a higher number.
o Players should put their game pieces on the paths that match their playing order. For example, Path 1 for the first player, Path 2 for the second, and so on.
o Next, you will roll the die to see how many spaces to move your game piece.
o Each player starts in the “God’s Riches” space.
o At the end of every turn, you will draw a card.
o The card has a letter (or letters) on it.
o You want to collect all the letters in the word, “GRACE.”
o It’s okay if you have extra letters, but you need to have at least one of each of the letters on your cards.
o If you get the right letters to spell, “GRACE,” you can return to the “God’s Riches” space.
o You should put any cards you used to spell “GRACE” in a discard pile. If the group draws all the card in the draw pile, the discard pile will be shuffled and used as the new draw pile.
o The game ends when someone rolls a number that forces them to move more spaces than are left on the path.
o The winner of the game is the person who is closest to “God’s Riches.”
o In the event of a tie, you can let the tied players roll again to see who is the closest to “God’s Riches” after the roll.”
• “Does anyone have questions about how you will play?” (Answer questions. Then, let them get started. When they are done, award a prize for the winners if you like, and hand out a copy of the Debrief Questions on the next page. Give groups ten minutes to discuss the debrief questions, and then talk with the entire group about their answers.)
o Why is the game called, “God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense?
o What are “God’s Riches?”
o What does “Christ’s Expense” mean?
o How is this game like our Christian walk?
o Read Proverbs 4:14-15. What do you think the spaces represented?
o Read Proverbs 4:26-27. What do you think it means?
o Grace allows us to return to God after we have sinned, but what do we actually need to do to return to Him?
Filed under Christianity, Confession, Daily walk, forgiveness, Game, Games that Teach, Obedience, Repentance, Spiritual Health
Tagged as blessings, children, Christian walk, Christianity, forgiveness, Game, Games that Teach, God's Riches At Christ's Expense, grace, kids, path, prodigal son, Proverbs 4:14-15, Proverbs 4:26-27, relationship, Repentance, restoration, sin, Sunday school
April 12, 2009 · 11:29 am
This object lesson helps us to understand that what happens to us is not as important as how we respond to what happens to us. If we trust God with even our “unfortunate” events and circumstances, He can use everything for our good.
• Practice the script.
Use the following script (or modify to suit your needs):
• “We’re going to play a short game called, “Fortunately – Unfortunately.”
• “First, I need to divide you into small groups.” (Divide kids into smaller groups of 3-6 people.)
• “Now, we have to select the person who will start the game. I want everyone to hold up one finger.” (Make sure everyone holds up a finger, then have them do the following.)
• “Now point that finger straight up in the air as high as you can make it go.”
• “I’m going to count to three. When I say, ‘three,’ I want everyone in the group to point at the person you think should start the game.”
• “Ready? Okay, One….Two….Three!” (If any groups end up with a tie for the number of fingers pointed at different people, have them do it again until the tie is broken.)
• “Alright, this person is going to start you off by telling the first part of a story.”
• “They will tell you about 15-20 words about any topic they want, but the story has to start with, ‘Once upon a time…’”
• “For example, ‘Once upon a time, there was a man who liked to eat pickled porcupines…’”
• “Then, that person will stop right there, and the person on their right will pick up the story where they left off.”
• “But before they tell anymore of the story, they have to say, ‘Unfortunately…’ and then share something unfortunate about the situation or person.”
• “They will tell about 15 words of why things are so unfortunate, and then they will stop.”
• “The next person will pick up the story where they left off, but he/she will start by saying, ‘Fortunately…’ Then they will tell us what is so fortunate about the situation.”
• “This keeps going with each person alternating their stories to be ‘fortunate’ or ‘unfortunate.’”
• “You will keep going around your group until I say to stop, so you will probably have several tries at making up ‘fortunate’ and ‘unfortunate’ parts of the story.”
• “The only other rule is that you can’t kill anyone in the stories.”
• “Does anyone have any questions before we get started?”
• “Alright, those of you who were picked to start, begin your stories!” (Allow three to five minutes for storytelling, then ask them to finish the part they are on and turn their attention back to you.)
• “The point of this game is that there are always two ways of looking at the things that happen in our lives. You can view almost anything as either fortunate or unfortunate.”
• “If you search for it, even something very bad can have a fortunate side, particularly if you are willing to trust God with it.”
• “Romans 8:28 says, ‘And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.”
• “The Scripture says that God will works in ‘some’ things for our good, right?” (The kids should answer, ‘NO!’)
• “Oh, it says, God works in just the fortunate things, right?” (The kids should answer, ‘NO!’)
• “In just the things where we make good decisions?” (‘NO!’)
• “…where we stay out of sin?” (‘NO!’)
• “…where we pray about it ahead of time?” (‘NO!’)
• “…where we do everything our pastor tells us to do?” (‘NO!’)
• “What does it say? …God works in ALL things for the good of those who love Him.”
• “Sometimes when ‘unfortunate’ stuff happens to us, it’s God’s discipline in our lives, because the Bible says in Proverbs 3:11: ‘My son, do not despise the Lord’s discipline and do not resent His rebuke, because the Lord disciplines those He loves, as a father the son he delights in.’”
• “But that means that even when God is disciplining you for your sin, He is doing it for your good!”
• “And it’s even better if you admit that you sinned and ask for forgiveness. Then God can really use it for your good!”
• “He uses EVERYTHING that happens in your life to be a blessing to you!”
• “So, even when something happens that looks bad, it’s a great idea to praise God for it. That shows that you trust Him to use it for your good.”
• “So, let’s try this out. Who can think of something bad that could happen to us?” (Listen for examples.)
• “Alright everyone, how could God use that for that person’s good?” (Do this several times to make the point that God can use everything to bless us.)
• “You see, just because it looks unfortunate doesn’t mean it is.”
• “It’s less important what happens to you than how you respond to what happens to you.”
• “Praise God for anything and everything that happens in your life – whether it looks fortunate or unfortunate!”
Filed under acceptance, blessing, Challenges, Christianity, Coping skills, Discipline, faith, Game, Games that Teach, God's Plan, Hope, Object Lesson, Praise, Trust, Worry
Tagged as All things, blessings, children, Christianity, Discipline, every cloud, fortunate, fun, Game, God works in all things, interpretation, kids, Object Lesson, praise God in all things, Proverbs 3:11, rebuke, responding to our circumstances, response, Romans 8, Romans 8:28, Scripture, silver lining, storytelling, teaching, unfortunate, youth