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A Firm Foundation
You will need:
a set of building blocks
Scripture: (Matthew 7:24) "Everyone who hears these things I say and obeys them is like a wise man. The wise man built his house on rock."
[Make a tower by stacking building blocks. The higher and more precarious the tower, the better. Consider asking a few of the older children to help stack the blocks very carefully.] Well, we have built quite a tall tower, haven't we? Good job, kids. Now, what do you think would happen if I moved this bottom block just a teeny, tiny bit? Do you think our tower would keep standing? Let's try it and see. I'll just move it a little bit. [Move a key block just enough so that the entire tower tumbles.]
Wow! To think I moved just one little block a tiny bit, and it made the whole tower come crashing down. If we were to talk to a carpenter—someone who knows all about building things—he would tell us that the foundation—the bottom part of the building that all the rest of the building stands on—is the most important part of all. If the foundation shifts even a few inches, the whole building will become weaker. And if the foundation shifts a great deal (as it might in an earthquake), the whole building may come tumbling down just like these blocks did.
The Bible tells us that we should build our lives on the foundation of Jesus Christ. The Bible calls Jesus the Cornerstone. The cornerstone of a building is the point of the foundation that the rest of the building is built from. If the cornerstone is strong and straight and true, the rest of the building will be strong and straight and true as well.
The Bible teaches us that Jesus is the truth, so there is nothing stronger that we could build our lives on. And how do we do that? How do we build our lives on Jesus? By following Jesus' teaching and the example of his life.
To take home: Give each child a building block or a simple block of wood on which you have written the scripture verse.CHAPTER 2
A Permanent Solution
You will need:
a permanent marker
Scripture: (Proverbs 3:3) Don't ever stop being kind and truthful. Let kindness and truth show in all you do. Write them down in your mind as if on a tablet.
[With permanent marker write the words "kind" and "truthful" on a tablet.] I've written two words on this tablet. Can anyone tell me what the words are? I have an eraser with me. Would you [choose a child] try to erase these words for me, please? You aren't able to erase the words, are you? The marker I used is a permanent marker, so that means anything you write with this marker is on there for good.
Listen to this Bible verse from Proverbs 3. The heading in my Bible says that this is advice to children, so you should listen very carefully. [Read scripture.] Just as I wrote on this tablet with a permanent marker that will always be there, so are we to always think about being kind and truthful in all we do.
What are some of the things that we do each day? [Suggest answers such as go to school, play with friends, play sports, help Mom or Dad.] In all of these things that we do in our lives, the Bible says we are to be kind and truthful. How could we be this way at school? [Be kind to the teacher and the workers at school, as well as to the other kids; do not cheat on school- work, and so forth.] How can we be kind and truthful with our friends? [By letting them have their way sometimes and by always being honest.] What about in sports? When we get caught up in winning, isn't it sometimes hard to be a good sport and to be kind and truthful during the game? We may be tempted to be rude to members of the other team. But remember that scripture says we are to be kind and truthful in all we do. What about being kind and truthful when helping our parents? How could we do that? [Don't argue or complain when our parents ask us to do a job, for example.] It would be kind to do the job willingly, wouldn't it? And we can be truthful by doing our very best job at anything we are asked to do and by not taking shortcuts.
To take home: Write the words "kind" and "truthful" on the cover or the first page of small tablets. Give one to each child.CHAPTER 3
Bear One Another's Burdens
You will need:
a basketful of stuffed teddy bears
two Bibles (a King James Version and the New Living Translation)
Scripture: (Galatians 6:2 KJV) Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.
[Read the scripture from the King James Version of the Bible.] This verse from Galatians is from a very old Bible called the King James Version. I like it because it uses the word "bear," and, as you can see, I like bears! I brought a whole basket of bears with me today to help us remember this scripture. The verse tells us to "bear one another's burdens." But what does that mean? Burdens are problems and feelings that weigh us down and make us sad or tired. And the word "bear" here isn't like the fuzzy kind of bears I have in my basket. The word "bear" means to "hold up" or "carry." This is how that scripture reads in a newer translation of the Bible: "Share each other's troubles and problems" (NLT). So to bear each other's troubles and problems means to share each other's troubles and problems, doesn't it?
But how can you share someone's problems with him or her? Do you have any ideas? What if one of your friends is having trouble with a bully on the way home from school? How could you share his problem? Maybe you could walk home with him and help him stand up to the bully Maybe you could go with him to talk to a teacher or another adult who could help. And what if one of your friends is feeling very sad because her dog or cat died? How could you bear—or share—her troubles? Maybe you could do that just by being a good listener. It might make her feel better just to remember what a wonderful pet she had. Or maybe you've lost a pet, and you remember how sad you felt when that happened. You might even be able to help your friend find a new pet when she's ready. When someone is going through a tough time, it helps to know that he or she is not alone.
Sharing our troubles with each other is a good way to make big troubles seem much smaller. And God wants each one of us to be a good trouble "share-er"—or "bear-er"!
To take home: Give each child a tiny stuffed toy bear. "When you look at this bear I hope you will remember that we are supposed to 'bear' each other's troubles."CHAPTER 4
You will need:
a clean bicycle
Scripture: (Psalm 48:14) This God is our God forever and ever. He will guide us from now on.
This morning, I brought a bicycle to church. We don't see bicycles in the sanctuary very often, do we? But I think this bicycle can help us learn a very important lesson. Would one of you like to volunteer to ride this bike down the aisle? [If there are only a few children, let each have a quick turn. Otherwise, choose one of the older, more responsible children or ask a young preteen from the congregation to volunteer.]
Okay, what I want you to do is ride this bicycle down the aisle and back in as straight a line as possible. [Beforehand, enlist people seated on the aisles to help in avoiding a crash. When the child successfully completes the ride, say:] You did a great job. But now I'm going to ask you to do it again, only this time you will be blindfolded! Would you like someone to help guide you along? [If the child says "no," let him or her try the ride alone. But after the blindfold is on, put a folding chair in the path. Walk next to the rider with a hand on the bike seat. When the child crashes into the chair, ask again if he or she would like a guide. The guide should help him or her ride to the end of the aisle.]
Okay, leave the bike there and let's come back to the front. You know, riding this bicycle blindfolded is a little bit like our lives. We can't always see what's ahead of us or what our future will bring. That's why God put parents, teachers, pastors, and others in our lives—to guide us so we won't have any serious "crashes." As much as we sometimes want to do things our own way, God knows that children sometimes need help in making good choices. And even when we are grown up, we will still need God's help to guide us in life.
To take home: Make handlebar streamers for each child to take home and decorate his or her bicycle with. These can be made by cutting ten to fifteen strips of plastic "crepe" paper that measure twelve inches. Double the strips and wrap the folded center neatly with clear mailing tape to form a "pom-pom."CHAPTER 5
You will need:
a low-sided box half full of sand, in which you have buried small toys or trinkets
Scripture: (Matthew 13:44) "The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in a field. One day a man found the treasure, and then he hid it in the field again. The man was very happy to find the treasure. He went and sold everything that he owned to buy that field."
We are going to hunt for hidden treasure this morning. I'll give each of you a chance to dig in the sand for a treasure. [Let each child dig through the sand until he or she finds a trinket to keep.]
In our scripture reading today we are told about a man who finds a hidden treasure. [Read scripture.] People who study and write about the Bible believe that this man probably was not looking for treasure. He was probably just going about his everyday business when he accidentally came across the treasure. In Jesus' time people often buried treasures. They did have places like banks back in those days, but ordinary people couldn't use them. That's why they buried their valuable belongings in the ground. There were many wars that took place in the land where Jesus lived. So when people were afraid a war was about to break out, they would bury anything they owned of value, hoping to dig it up when the war was over.
Jesus said that the kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in a field. Having Jesus in our hearts is worth more than anything else in the whole world. Just like the man who sold all that he owned to buy the field with the treasure, we should be willing to give up all the things that seem important to us—our toys, our games, the time we spend watching TV or playing with friends—in order to have Jesus in our hearts.
To take home: Let each child take home the trinket he or she found in the sand.CHAPTER 6
You will need:
a bag of large marshmallows
various camping supplies
if possible, a small pop-up tent
perhaps a "campfire" (cover two or three flashlights with red cellophane, turn on flashlights, and lay small branches on top to give the effect of a fire)
Scripture: (2 Corinthians 4:18--5:1) So we set our eyes not on what we see but on what we cannot see. What we see will last only a short time. But what we cannot see will last forever. We know that our body—the tent we live in here on earth—will be destroyed. But when that happens, God will have a house for us to live in. It will not be a house made by men. It will be a home in heaven that will last forever.
Today we're going to pretend that we're on a camping trip. We can sit around the campfire and pretend we're roasting marshmallows. [Pass the marshmallows around. You might tell the children to hold their marshmallows over the campfire to "toast" them.] How many of you have ever gone camping? What are some of the things you took with you? [Wait for someone to mention a tent.] That's right. Many times you take a tent when you camp. But when you go camping, do you plan to live in your tent for a long time? No. Usually, the tent is only your home for a few days or weeks, isn't it? In 2 Corinthians, Paul talks about a tent. He calls the body "the tent we live in here on earth." Living eighty or ninety years here on earth may seem like a long time to us, but to God it's just like going on a weekend camping trip. Our real home is in heaven. God has made a home for us there that will last forever. Paul says we should set our eyes not on what we see, but on what we cannot see. We should take care of our bodies, but we shouldn't be overly concerned about fixing up the tents—or bodies—that are just going to get old and will someday be destroyed. Paul goes on to say that our only goal is to please God. God gave us these bodies to use and enjoy, but the important thing is that we make God happy in everything we do.
To take home: Give each child one more marshmallow to take back to his or her seat.CHAPTER 7
Chips and Cracks
You will need:
enough imperfect—but still usable and attractive—teacups for each child to have one (garage sales and flea markets usually offer an abundance of inexpensive dishes)
one cup that is damaged too badly to be used for drinking (use this cup to hold a small plant or pencils or candies)
a teapot filled with water
Scripture: (2 Corinthians 12:10) So I am happy when I have weaknesses, insults, hard times, sufferings, and all kinds of troubles. All these things are for Christ. And I am happy, because when I am weak, then I am truly strong.
[Pour a small amount of water into each child's teacup. When the children are finished drinking, instruct them to study the cups in their hands.] These cups are all very pretty, aren't they? Each one is different, and each one has a special beauty about it. But if you look closely, you will see that none of these cups is perfect. Every cup has a chip or a scratch or a broken handle. In a way, you and I are like these teacups. Each one of us has something in our life that we'd like change. Maybe we're not as smart as we'd like to be. Maybe we can't run as fast as our classmates. Maybe there is something we'd like to change about our bodies. Or maybe we have problems in our families, or something happened in our lives that hurt us and made us sad. But when God looks at us, God sees that even with all our problems and imperfections, we are beautiful and useful. In fact, the Bible teaches that God's power is actually stronger when we are weak!
[Hold up the most damaged cup.] Even this cup, so badly damaged that it will no longer hold water, is still very useful. In fact, it makes a perfect holder for this plant (these pencils, or whatever.) No matter who we are or what troubles life has given us, God loves us and wants us to do good things in Jesus' name.
To take home: Let each child take home the cup he or she drank from as a reminder that God loves each one of us in spite of our imperfections.CHAPTER 8
Crossing the Bridge
You will need: [If you do not use the take-home item, you will not need any materials to present this lesson.]
Scripture: (John 14:6) Jesus answered, "I am the way. And I am the truth and the life. The only way to the Father is through me."
[If your church has a platform or stage, you could stand on stage and challenge the children to join you. If you don't have such a platform, use the aisle as the dividing line. You might lay a piece of string across the aisle to make the line obvious.]
I'd like to play a little game with you this morning. I'm going to stand on the stage, and I want each of you to try to get up here beside me. But there are a couple of rules you must follow. First of all, you may not touch the stairs. And second, you may not walk, run, crawl, or scoot. Those rules make it pretty tough, don't they? Does it sound impossible? Well, let's think about it. Can you think of any way at all that you could get up here without touching the stairs and without walking, running, crawling, or scooting?
[If the children don't offer their own ideas or come up with the right answer, give them hints.] Let's think about it. Maybe you need some help. How might someone else help you get up here? What if your mom, dad, or a friend carried you up here? Would that work? Your feet wouldn't touch the stairs, would they? And you wouldn't be walking or crawling or breaking any of the other rules. Sounds as if that's the answer, doesn't it?
[Move down to the same level or side of the aisle as the children.] You know, our relationship with God is a lot like this game. There are directions in God's Word about how we can get to heaven to be with God. The Bible tells us that we can't get there by ourselves. We can't get there just by being a good person. We can't get there just because we grew up in a Christian family. No, according to the Bible, there is only one way to get to God and that is by faith in Jesus Christ. Only by trusting in Jesus as our Savior can we truly know God.
To take home: Cut thick crosses from heavy paper and write "Jesus" in bold letters across the horizontal bar. Tell the children that these crosses should serve as reminders that Jesus is the only "bridge" we can cross to get to God.
Excerpted from More Children's Sermons to go by Vicky Miller, Deborah Raney, Vicky, Samantha, Wesley Miller. Copyright © 2001 Vicky Miller and Deborah Raney. Excerpted by permission of Abingdon Press.
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Posted October 30, 2012
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