This object lesson uses a tower of cups and a waterfall of liquid to demonstrate how God blessed everyone around Joseph because of Joseph’s faithfulness to God.
- Genesis 37:12-36; 39:1-6, 20-23; 41:53-57
- 2 Corinthians 9:8 – The Voice translation: “God is ready to overwhelm you with more blessings than you could ever imagine so that you’ll always be taken care of in every way and you’ll have more than enough to share.”
- Notecard (1)
- Cup Tower
- Clear, plastic cups (41)
- Transparent tape (“Scotch” tape or another brand) (1 roll)
- Double-sided foam tape (1 roll)
- Large spoon (for stirring)
- Tray or clear basin (to catch any water that overflows the cups)
- Food coloring (I recommend a darker color such as green, red or blue.)
- Write 2 Corinthians 9:8 from The Voice translation on a notecard.
- Create a cup tower.
- Stack the cups in five layers.
- The bottom layer will have 18 cups.
- The next layer will have 12 cups.
- The next layer will have seven cups.
- The next layer will have three cups.
- The top layer will just have one cup.
- It may be helpful to assemble each layer separately first and to tape the cups together at the rims with transparent tape.
- Then, place a piece of double-sided foam tape wherever three cups will be supporting an upper layer cup.
- Finally, place your layers on top of each other one-by-one, and press gently to get the double-sided tape to stick.
- You don’t need your cup tower to last forever, but you don’t want it to fall apart during your lesson as you add the weight of the water to the upper layers.
- See the photos below to help you assemble the cup tower.
- Place your cup tower into or onto the clear basin or tray.
- Test your cup tower, but pouring water into the top cup, and ensuring that water cascades into the lower levels of cups.
- Fill the pitcher with water, add food coloring, and stir.
- Bookmark Genesis 39:20-23 in your Bible so that you can find it quickly when you need someone to read it out loud.
- Practice the script.
Use the following script (or modify to suit your needs):
- Joseph was sold by his brothers and had to go to serve as a slave in Egypt.
- He was sold to a man named Potiphar, who held a very high position in Pharaoh’s court.
- Pharaoh was the king of Egypt, and Potiphar was the captain of his security team.
- Potiphar was probably very wealthy and had a large household.
- He put Joseph to work, and he was soon very pleased with how hard-working and responsible Joseph was.
- The bible says that Joseph “succeeded in everything he did as he served in the home of his Egyptian master.” (Gen 39:2)
- Potiphar was so happy that he made Joseph his personal attendant and put him in charge of his entire household.
- Then, an amazing thing happened!
- The bible says, “the Lord began to bless Potiphar’s household for Joseph’s sake. All his household affairs ran smoothly, and his crops and livestock flourished.” (Gen 39:5)
- In other words, Potiphar’s life got better BECAUSE Joseph was there!
- Potiphar wasn’t even a follower of God, but God blessed him, because he had Joseph living in his house.
- Here’s what’s really cool!
- This doesn’t just happen with Joseph; it happens with you, too!
- When you are following God and doing what He says to do in your bible, God is so pleased with you that He blesses you.
- But God loves to bless you with much more than you need. (Have volunteer read 2 Corinthians 9:8 from The Voice translation: “God is ready to overwhelm you with more blessings than you could ever imagine so that you’ll always be taken care of in every way and you’ll have more than enough to share.”)
- That’s such a great Scripture!
- Let me show you what that looks like. (Ask for a volunteer to come help you, and bring out your cup tower and your pitcher of colored water.)
- In this stack of cups, you are this top cup, and the other cups are the people around you.
- When you are pleasing God by doing what He wants you to do, He blesses you.
- Let’s pretend that this liquid is God’s blessing in your life. (Show pitcher of colored liquid, and help your volunteer pour it into the top cup in the stack. Keep pouring after the cup is full, and the liquid will start to spill over into the other cups, which will then spill over into the other cups. Continue pouring until all the cups are full.)
- God overwhelms you with his blessings!
- It’s more than you could ever imagine!
- You are taken care of in every way!
- And you have more than enough to share!
- See how all the people around you get blessed, because you are doing what God wants you to do!
- You take God’s blessing with you everywhere you go. (Thank and dismiss your volunteer.)
- So Joseph is in Potiphar’s house, and Potiphar is being blessed.
- But through some unfair events, Joseph was thrown into prison.
- You might think Joseph would have been angry with God for allowing this to happen, but he continued to trust God even in prison.
- And you know what God did? He blessed the prison because of Joseph. (Have a volunteer read Genesis 39:20-23.)
- God overwhelmed Joseph with blessings, and they poured out onto the people in the prison. (Gesture toward the cup tower.)
- You know what happened next?
- Pharaoh, the king of Egypt, had some dreams that troubled him.
- He heard that Joseph knew how to interpret dreams, so he released Joseph from prison and had him interpret his dreams for him.
- When he heard how wise Joseph was, he promoted him to the second highest position in the entire country.
- He put Joseph in charge of all the food in Egypt, and Joseph managed it so well when there was plenty of food that there was enough for all the people during a terrible famine that lasted for seven years.
- In fact, Joseph had saved so much food during the good times that there was enough to feed the people of other countries when they ran out of food.
- The people of these nations bought food from Egypt and made Pharaoh very rich.
- Again, God overwhelmed Joseph with blessings, and those blessings poured out onto the people of Egypt and the nations around Egypt.
- God can do the same thing through you!
- If you do what God wants you to do, God will bless you and everyone around you!
- (You may want to have the kids say the following Rhyme Time a few times to reinforce the main teaching point.)
When we do what God wants us to do
God blesses us and those around us, too!
King Herod arrested Peter and put him in prison, but an angel freed him in a miraculous way. Children will play a game of tag that simulates the miracle.
- Hula hoops (2 or more, depending on the size of the group)
- Slips of paper in a cup with the different roles printed on them (You can download the role slips on the Lesson and Material Downloads page at www.teachingthem.com. The name of the file is “Peter in Prison – Roles,” and it contains 4 Peters, 2 Angels and 6 Guards.)
- Select a space to play the game.
- Lay out your hula hoops some distance away from each other.
- Cut out or make your role slips. Fold them and put them in a cup so that the children can draw them out without knowing which role they are choosing.
- Practice the script.
Use the following script (or modify to suit your needs):
- “We’re going to play a game called, ‘Peter in Prison!’”
- “It’s like a game of tag, and it’s based on a miracle that happened to Peter one time after he had been arrested by King Herod.” (Have volunteer read Acts 12:1-11.)
- “Incredible story, huh?”
- “So, let me tell you how our game of tag will work.”
- “Everyone will draw a slip of paper from this cup, read it and keep it a secret.”
- “It will tell you what role you will play in the game.”
- “Some slips say ‘Peter.’ Some say ‘Angel’ and some say ‘Guard.’
- “If you draw ‘Guard,’ you will try to tag all the ‘Peters’ and take them to a jail cell (point out the hula hoops).”
- “If you draw ‘Peter,’ you will try to stay away from the ‘Guards’ without letting them figure out that you are a ‘Peter.’”
- “If you draw ‘Angel,’ you will act normally so that the ‘Guards’ can’t tell that you aren’t ‘Peters.’ You are trying to fool the ‘Guards’ into trying to tag you so that the ‘Peters’ can stay out of jail.”
- “If a ‘Guard’ tags an ‘Angel,’ the ‘Angel’ has to say, ‘Angel’ and count to 30 before moving again.”
- “If a ‘Guard’ tags another ‘Guard,’ the ‘Guard’ has to say, ‘Guard,’ and then both are free to keep looking for ‘Peters.’”
- “If a ‘Guard’ tags a ‘Peter,’ the ‘Peter’ must step into the hula hoop. He is in prison.”
- “An ‘Angel’ can free a ‘Peter’ by standing in the jail with him and saying, ‘Peter, Peter! You should know! God sent me to let you go!’ Then, ‘Peter’ is free until tagged again.”
- “No one can be tagged while in a jail cell.”
- “If the ‘Guards’ tag all the ‘Peters’ (there are up to four ‘Peters’ depending on the size of your group), the ‘Guards’ win.”
- “Play lasts for three (3) minutes. If even one ‘Peter’ is out of prison, then the ‘Peters’ and ‘Angels’ win.”
- “Does anyone have any questions?” (Answer any questions.)
- “Okay, let’s play!” (Play several rounds if you like. Then ask the Debrief Questions below.)
- Why do you think King Herod put Peter in prison?
- Why did God send an angel to free Peter?
- Do you think God still does things like this? Why or why not?
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.
- Genesis 37-50
- John 4:10-14
- 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
- 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.
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.)
- Do you think the flower will bloom where you planted it? Why or why not?
- Why do you think Joseph was able to succeed in difficult situations?
- How could you “bloom” when you find yourself in a difficult place?
If we trust Him and obey,
God makes bad things go OUR way!
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
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.
- Genesis 37-50
- Isaiah 64:5-6
- Isaiah 61:10
- 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
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.)
Filed under acceptance, Agape Love, Belief, Character, Christianity, Eternity, faith, Jesus, Joseph, Object Lesson, Performance, salvation, sanctification, Transformation
For summer camp this year, I’ve written ten Challenges (Bible activities for small groups and a leader to do together – sometimes in competition with other groups) and some large group lessons on the story of Joseph. They are all located on the Lesson and Material Downloads page (see the link at the top of the screen), and you can find them alphabetically in the list. They all start with the letters “JJ” for “Joseph’s Journey.”
Hope you can find some lessons that will be useful for you!
Filed under Abraham, Abundance, acceptance, activity, Agape Love, Annointing, Belief, Bible study, blessing, Challenges, Change, Character, Christianity, Comfort Zone, Coping skills, courage, Discipline, distractions, drama, exercise, faith, Fear, forgiveness, Future, Game, Games that Teach, God's dream, God's favor, God's Plan, God's Will, Hands-on, Healing, heart, Hope, Humility, Jesus, Joseph, Kindness, leadership, Lesson, Listening to God, Love, Obedience, Object Lesson, Overcoming obstacles, Pride, purity, Relationships, Repentance, Salt of the earth, sanctification, spiritual disciplines, Spiritual Growth, Spiritual Health, Spiritual Warfare, Strengths, struggles, team, temptation, territory, test, tool, Transformation, Trust, unconditional love, Waiting on the Lord