Unconditional Love

Thursday:Unconditional Love
Bible Passages: Romans 5:6-11, Romans 8:29-39, Romans 9:10-16
Objective: God loves us unconditionally.
Introduction: Mrs. Eady Wants a Dog
Mrs. Eady wanted a dog for a long time. She prayed for a dog to come into the home. One day, when she least expected it, she came home, and there was Zeke! Zeke jumped into Mrs. Eady's arms and licked her, and she was very happy, because she had a doggy. She loved him right away. She even loved him before he came into the family.
Explanation: We Love Our Dogs
Sometimes Zeke isn't as well behaved as Mrs. Eady could want. He tears up Klenex, sneaks food off the counter and stove, and accidentally scratches people when he's playing. Mrs. Eady loves him anyway. She loves Zeke because he's her doggy. She tries to teach him to do better, because she wants him to be a good dog. But even when he misbehaves, she still loves him. She would never get rid of him.
Mr. Eady loves Zeke too. He didn't know that he wanted a dog. He said he didn't. But he shares his food with Zeke, and lets him sleep on his lap, and sometimes he takes him for a walk. Mr. Eady loves Zeke, even when Zeke is bad.
Application: God Loves Us
Did you know that God loves us? He loves us even more than Mrs. Eady loves Zeke. Now, he doesn't always like everything we do, just like Mrs. Eady doesn't like everything Zeke does. But even when we do things he doesn't like, he still loves us.
The Bible says that God loved us before we were born. Just like Mrs. Eady loved Zeke before he even came to her house, God always loved you.
Invitation: Subtitle
Invite any children who want to love God the way he loves us to stay after the lesson and discuss it further.

Missionaries Trust God

Day One:Trust
Bible Lesson: Two Obedient Men (Caleb & Joshua): We should trust and obey God.
Memory Verse: 1st John 2:5
Missions Concepts: Missionaries trust God.
Missions Questions:
Why is it important to trust the Lord when you are a missionary?
As a church planter, what do you trust him for?
How has God shown that he is trustworthy?
Bible Passages: Matthew 9:35-38, Matthew 16:13-19, Romans 8:26-39
In your Bible lesson today, you learned how Caleb and Joshua trusted God, and you learned that you need to trust God too. Did you know that missionaries also have to trust God?
This week, we're going to be looking in this [show box and speak slowly in a deep voice] Box of Questions to find some questions that were sent to actual missionaries, and the answers that they gave.
Today's questions are about trusting God, and you'll be able to see how important our missionaries think it is to trust in God.
Procedure: Picking Questions from the Box
Call a child volunteer to pull out each of the questions. Help them read it aloud to the group. You can use a microphone and/or repeat the question yourself so that everyone can hear it.
After reading the question, introduce each missionary before reading their answer. You can also show a photo and/or their country's flag and a map if desired. Then read and explain their answers. If there's time, you can lead a brief discussion of the answers or ask a few comprehension questions.
After each question, check the time, and if enough time is available pick a new volunteer to pull the next question out of the box.
Question #1
Why is it important to trust the Lord when you are a missionary?
Answer: Pastor Tom Ricker
It is important because often it is just you and Him. If you do not trust Him you are doing things in your own strength and you will quickly come to your end and you will dispair and become extremely depressed.
Pastor Tom is saying that since he's trying to start a church, he doesn't have one yet. There's no group of believers there, no Christian friends or people for him to go to. He just has to trust God. It's easy for him to get discouraged, because there's nobody else there helping him from day to day— just God. So he really has to rely on God.
Answer: Pastor Zambo Solomon
Because he is the one that put us into his business. We are not going on our own. God is the owner of the harvest. He sent us and he will take care. All that we are to do should be according to his direction. It happen[s] sometime[s] that things are not moving as we want. No support, no converts, and we may plunge into discouragement. Only our faith in him shall make us conquerors!
Pastor Solomon has to trust in God because he's doing God's work and because God wouldn't have sent him if he didn't want him to do it. Also, when things don't go according to Pastor Solomon's plan, he has to trust that they're still going according to God's plan.
Question #2
As a church planter, what do you trust God for?
Answer: Pastor Tom Ricker
All things. Jesus said He will build His church. I must trust Him to guide me and direct me as I seek to trust Him to build His church.
Pastor Tom is trusting God to bring people into the Bible study and to build them into a church. Every part of the work that Pastor Tom is doing in Vermont relies on God.
Answer: Pastor Zambo Solomon
[That] he himself [will] build his church as he promised. God has to bring people to himself, and I ... will trust more in his sovreignty than my power and talents. Several [times] we [tried to] bring people to Jesus, but the Father [did] not bring them to him.
Pastor Solomon can tell people about Jesus, but only God can help them believe. Pastor Solomon has to trust God to take care of the church and to bring people into the group.
Question #3
How has God shown that he is trustworthy?
Answer: Pastor Tom Ricker
He has brought me into contact with people and given me ways to reach them that I never would have thought of on my own. He has brought people to the Bible study and He is giving me strength to continue to follow Him.
Answer: Pastor Zambo Solomon
I have been in different trials in Africa here, and any time I trust[ed] him he gave me the grace to see his deliverance. I can therefore trust him more, for he has shown that he is my redeemer.
Pastor Solomon trusts God, and God has helped him when times were hard.
Conclusion: Prayer
Finish up by having two or three children pray out loud for the missionaries before you dismiss to the next activity.
Invitation: Missions
Invite any children who want to do missions work to stay after the lesson and discuss it further.

Doggies Don't Like Baffs

Wednesday:Doggies Don't Like Baffs
Bible Passages: [Needed]
Objective: Even though we don't always like the changes God wants us to make in our lives, we still need to do it.
Introduction: Stinky Dog
Zeke is a nice doggy, but sometimes he gets dirty and smelly. Like the time that he ran away on his walk and got sprayed by a skunk, or the time that he rolled in nasty yucky stuff and came home smelling like a swamp. Sometimes he needs a bath.
Explanation: Baths
Now, Zeke doesn't like baths. He doesn't think he needs them.
He doesn't want to get into the bathtub, and when you manage to get him in, he tries to escape. It takes two people to keep Zeke in the tub long enough to wash him and rinse him, to get him clean.
But Zeke needs to obey and stay in the bath until he's clean and rinsed, so he won't stink, and so he can stay in the house (because he can't stay in the house smelling like a skunk), and so he won't have itchy soap all over him when he dries. Zeke doesn't always understand why he needs to stay in the bath. But he still needs to obey and do it.
Application: Obedience
Sometimes your mom or dad, or your teacher, will tell you to do something, or you might even find something in the Bible that God wants you to do. It's not always something you think you want to do. You might not even know why you need to do it. But you still need to do it. You still need to obey.
Invitation: Obedience
Invite any children who want to learn to obey to stay after the lesson and discuss it further.

The Misbehaving Doggy

Tuesday:The Misbehaving Doggy
Bible Passages: [Needed]
Objective: Our sin alienates us from God.
Introduction: Nice Doggy
Zeke is a nice doggy. He's cute, and cuddly, and lovable. He has nice doggy ears, and a cute doggy nose, and he does nice doggy things. He eats his dog food, and he likes to go on walks, and he doesn't bite, and he always goes potty outside. He's a good doggy.
Explanation: Misbehavior
But sometimes Zekiel (Zeke) doesn't do what he's supposed to do. Sometimes he does wrong things that he knows he's not supposed to do.
Sometimes early in the morning, when nobody's watching, he sneaks into the bathroom, grabs some toilet paper, shreds it into little pieces, and scatters them all down the hallway. Zeke knows that he's not supposed to do that, and when he gets caught he hangs his head or runs away. He knows that he'll be in trouble. But he does it again the next day anyway.
Zeke also likes to get yucky things out of the trash and drag them around the house, like old butter wrappers and dirty napkins. He knows he's not supposed to. He knows he'll get in trouble. He hides when he does it, so that the people won't find out. But he still does it.
Application: Sin
Zekiel is just a dog. When Zeke misbehaves, that's bad doggy behavior. But dogs aren't the only ones who ever misbehave, are they? Sometimes people misbehave too.
When people misbehave, we call it sin. Sin is the wrong things that we do, and it makes God very sad. Because we're people, and because we can know God, we're supposed to be able to do better than the animals. God made us to be like him. We're not supposed to sin. When we do sin, it keeps us from being with God. We're in big trouble.
When you do something that you know is wrong, even though you know you're not supposed to, you're choosing to sin, to disobey God. Even though most of the time you do the right thing... most of the time you don't hit your brother... most of the time you don't lie to your parents... but when you do, that's sin, and it's bad, and it keeps you from being with God.
In other words, it's because of our sin that we're at the pound, and God had to pay to get us out. Our sin is a big problem, and we need to ask for God's forgiveness.
Invitation: Repentance
Invite any children who want to turn away from their sin to stay after the lesson and discuss it further.

Redeeming a Dog

Monday:Redeeming a Dog
Bible Passages: [Needed]
Objective: God has paid to adopt us and bring us into his family.
Introduction: The Dog Pound
When dogs don't have a home, they get taken to the dog pound and locked up. The Humane Society keeps the dogs at the pound for a little while, hoping that someone will come and take them home. They feed them a little bit, but they don't play with them, and they don't hug them, and they don't give them treats, and they don't have time to be friends with every doggy that's there. They don't love them. It's not a very nice place for a doggy to live.
When Zeke was little, he ended up at the dog pound. He was sad, and he was afraid, and just a little bit hungry. He didn't like it at the pound. But somebody came and wanted to take Zeke home.
Story: Redemption
Did you know that to bring a dog home from the pound, you have to pay money? It costs a lot of money, more than fifty dollars. But somebody came and loved Zeke enough to pay the price. They willingly paid the money, so that Zeke could go home with them.
But Zeke had to choose to go. He had to let them put the leash on him, and he had to go with them. He was scared, but he didn't want to stay at the pound either.
Application: God has redeemed us.
Just like somebody paid to redeem Zeke from the dog pound, somebody paid to redeem us, too. Jesus paid the price so that we could some day go home with him. Just like Zeke had to choose to go on the leash and leave the pound, we have to choose to follow Jesus so that we can go with him.
Invitation: Salvation
Invite any children who want to be adopted by God to stay after the lesson and discuss it further.

Skit #5 for Following the Footsteps

Skit: Following the Footsteps, Day 5
[Johnny enters carrying an oversized magnifying glass, following footprint tracks, and humming the theme song from Inspector Gadget (or any other popular cartoon detective show you like).]
Heather: [Enters.] What are you doing, Johnny?
Johnny: Oh, I'm following these footprints to find out where they go.
Heather: Can I help?
Johnny: Sure. Here, you hold the magnifying glass. [Hand it to her.]
[The two of them follow the footprints for a few steps.]
Heather: Hey, wait a second. You told me that following the footsteps means changing our behavior to live the way God wants us to live, by following the good examples he gave us in the Bible.
Johnny: Yes, that's right. [point] Umm, I think they lead over this way.
Heather: So, like, we can follow the footsteps of Caleb and Joshua by trusting God and doing what he says. Or we can follow the footsteps of the Israelites in the desert by putting our faith in Jesus to forgive our sins, just like they trusted God that looking at the snake on the stick would save them from the snakebite venom.
Johnny: Exactly. Or you could follow in the footsteps of Hannah by praying to God. Hand me the magnifying glass.
Heather: Yeah. [Hand him the glass.] So why are you following the footsteps that are on the ground? I thought we were following the footsteps of people in the Bible.
Johnny: We are.
Heather: You're confusing me! What gives? Did Moses walk in this church?
Johnny: [shrug] Not as far as I know.
Heather: I thought all those people in the Bible lived across the ocean.
Johnny: They did.
Heather: So why are we following their footsteps, then?
Johnny: We're following their footsteps because they set a good example that God wants us to follow. We love God, so we do our best for him, and the footsteps in the Bible show us how.
Heather: [exasperated] But what about these footsteps?
Whose footsteps are these?
Johnny: What, you mean these footprints on the floor?
Heather: Yeah, isn't that what we've been talking about?
Johnny: Oh, I was just following these for fun.
[Exit, humming Inspector Gadget again.]

Footsteps Snacks

Monday: Grape Clusters & Pretzel Rods
Bible Lesson: Two Obedient Men (Caleb & Joshua): We should trust and obey God.
Memory Verse: 1stJohn 2:5
Snack: Grape Clusters & Pretzel Rods
Hand out a small cluster of grapes, and a pretzel rod or two, to each child, explaining how the grapes remind them of the lesson.
Lesson Tie-In:
The men who explored the land brought back an enormous cluster of grapes, evidence of the bounty of the land. (The pretzels are just to bulk out the snack.)

Tuesday: Footsteps Cookies
Bible Lesson: Do What It Says (Ezra reads from the book of the law.)
Memory Verse: James 1:22
Snack: Footsteps Cookies
Give the kids footprint-shaped cutout cookies.
Lesson Tie-In:
The shape of the cookies will remind them of the theme for the week: that we should follow in the footsteps of the people from the Bible lessons. While they eat, talk about what it means to follow in someone's footsteps.

Wednesday: Snakes on Sticks, and Graham Crackers
Bible Lesson: Look and Live (the snake on the pole): We should look to Jesus, trusting God for our salvation.
Memory Verse: John 3:14-15
Snack: Snakes on Sticks, & Graham Crackers
Skewer each "gummy snake" (use gummy worms and call them snakes) on a large toothpick. Give each child at least one of the "snakes" and some graham crackers.
Lesson Tie-In:
The snakes remind them of the Bible lesson: God told Moses to display a snake on a stick in the middle of the camp, so that people could look to it and be saved, just like we today look to Jesus for our salvation. The crackers are just to help fill them up.

Thursday: Cookies
Bible Lesson: Hannah's Prayer: When we have problems, we should pray to God.
Memory Verse: James 5:16
Snack: Cookies
Hand out homemade cookies.
Lesson Tie-In:
Chocolate-chip cookies don't have much to do with the Bible lesson, but you can still talk about the lesson while the kids eat them. Yum, yum, yum.

Friday: Cornbread & Apple Butter
Elementary Bible Lesson: Footsteps of Service (Epaphroditus and the Shunnemite): We should serve God by serving others.
Memory Verse: Philippians 2:4
Preschool Bible Lesson: Elisha and the Shunnemite: Helping Others
Snack: Cornbread & Apple Butter
Serve cornbread (or other obviously homemade bread) and apple butter (or homemade jam). Don't buy them at the store: the fact that these items are home-made is part of the lesson tie-in.
Lesson Tie-In:
Epaphroditus brought Paul food (among other things) from the church, to help Paul while he was in Prison for telling people about Jesus. Epaphroditus served God by helping Paul. The Shunnamite also helped Elisha by feeding him, because he was a man of God. Homemade bread is a kind of food they might have had and might have given them.

Skit #4 for Following the Footsteps

Skit: Following the Footsteps, Day 4
Heather: Man, this following in the footsteps is getting pretty hard. First I found out I don't just have to step in some footprints, and then I found out I don't even just have to do exactly what somebody else did. I actually have to think. It's too hard. I'm not sure if I want to do this anymore.
Johnny: [Enters] Hey, Heather, are you ready to learn some more footsteps to follow?
Heather: I'm not sure I want to. Following the footsteps can be hard. Can't I just do something easy? Can't you just follow the footsteps for me?
Johnny: Well, I'm going to try to follow the footsteps too.
Heather: Why bother? It's so hard.
Johnny: Yeah, it's hard, but nothing worth doing is easy. God gave us the Bible so we could have good footsteps to follow. I think it's better to follow them as best we can, instead of just trying to guess. Remember how you said in the winter you walked in your dad's footprints, so you wouldn't get snow in your boots?
Heather: Yeah. Walking in dad's steps was better than making my own path.
Johnny: Well, it's like that. If we didn't have the Bible, we wouldn't even know what we're supposed to do. We'd have to make our own path, by guesswork. Following in the footsteps makes it easier to live for God. We can do better than we would if we didn't have any examples to follow.
Heather: Oh. I guess so.
Johnny: Come on, come to Bible school tonight, and we'll learn about some more footsteps.
Heather: Okay. I do want to follow God. I guess I'd better find some more footsteps.
Johnny: Yep.
Heather: Okay, I'm ready now. Let's go!

Skit #3 for Following the Footsteps

Skit: Following the Footsteps, Day 3
Heather: [Enter] Okay, I'm all set now. I'm going to follow in the footsteps...
[walk slowly toward stage while speaking...]
the footsteps of Ezra... I want to do the same things Ezra did...
Ezra had a platform to stand on, and read the Bible. Now let me see... What can I do that's like that? I could say my memory verse from last night, but what about the platform? I know, I'll use the stage! Here I go! I'm going to follow in Ezra's footsteps.
[Heather gets up on the stage and starts saying the verse. Johnny interrupts about halfway through.]
Johnny: [Enter] Hey, Heather, what are you doing up there?
Heather: I'm following in Ezra's footsteps. See? I'm using this stage as a platform, and I'm saying my memory verse, which is from the Bible.
Johnny: Well, learning your memory verse is a good way to follow in Ezra's footsteps, but why are you up on the stage?
Heather: What, isn't it good enough? Isn't the stage like Ezra's platform?
Johnny: What do you need a platform for?
Heather: Well, Ezra used a platform. I'm following in his footsteps.
Johnny: Ezra used a platform because otherwise all the people wouldn't have been able to hear, and they wouldn't have known what God's word said. They didn't all have their own copies of the Bible. These people [gesture toward audience] have their own copies of the Bible. So I don't think the platform is the most important thing about Ezra's footsteps.
Heather: Well, then, how am I supposed to follow in the footsteps?
Johnny: What did the people do once Ezra had read the Bible to them?
Heather: Well, they did what it said... Oh, I get it. If I'm going to follow in the footsteps, I have to do what the person did. To follow in the footsteps of Ezra, I have to do what the Bible says.
Johnny: Right.
Heather: Okay, so how do I know what to do?
Johnny: Keep coming to Bible school, and to church, and study your Bible at home. You'll learn all kinds of things that you can be doing. Then you can really follow in the footsteps.
Heather: Wow! And I won't even need a platform!

Skit #2 for Following the Footsteps

Skit: Following the Footsteps, Day 2
[Heather enters]
Heather: Alright, I'm all set to follow the footsteps, just as soon as I figure out where they go. Now let's see... yesterday we talked about Caleb and Joshua leaving footsteps. Now, where did they go again? Let me think...
Johnny: [Enters] Hey, Heather, how's it going?
Heather: Didn't Caleb and Joshua go into the promised land?
Johnny: Well, yes...
Heather: Okay, I'm all set. So, which way is that from here anyway? Is the promised land [pointing] this way?
Johnny: Umm, why do you need to know?
Heather: Because, I'm gonna follow the footsteps Caleb and Joshua left for us. I don't need to see their footprints, because we studied in last night's Bible lesson about where they went. I know they went to the promised land, so I figure their footsteps must lead there. So as soon as I figure out which way that is, I'll go follow...
Johnny: I don't think you understood. We weren't talking about going to a place where they went. When we talked about following the footsteps of Caleb and Joshua, we were talking about emulating how they lived, and what they did.
Heather: Well, how will that tell me which way to go? How am I supposed to get to wherever it is I'm supposed to be going, if I don't know which way they went? Can't we just program it into my GPS?
Johnny: Heather, you're not listening. We don't need to go where they went. What we need to do is act the way they acted, the way God wants us to act. We're supposed to be learning to follow their example. That's why God gave it to us in the Bible, so we can learn how to act.
Heather: So you mean I don't need my hiking boots and my GPS? Whew, that's a relief. I bet the promised land is a long way from here anyway. It would probably take me all day to walk there.
Johnny: Actually, I think it's across the ocean, so you couldn't walk there from here anyhow.
Heather: Across the ocean? That would really take me a long time! I'd miss Bible school for sure!
Johnny: Oh, you don't want to miss Bible school tonight. We're going to learn about somebody else whose footsteps we can follow.
Heather: Okay, I'm ready!

Skit #1 for Following the Foosteps

Skit: Following the Footsteps, Day 1
[Heather enters, bent over and looking at the floor.]
Heather: I can't find any footsteps here. [Look under a pew.] Boys and girls, did any of you see any footsteps? [Looks behind the piano, etc.] I came here to follow the footsteps, but I don't see any! What am I going to do? Oh, now what? Woe is me, ...
[Johnny enters]
Johnny: What are you doing, Heather?
Heather: Well, I was going to follow the footsteps, but I can't find any!
Johnny: You can't find any? But we're going to learn about them tonight!
Heather: You mean, I have to learn how to find them? I thought this was going to be easy. Footsteps, you know, [point to ground] you see them, and then you [making exaggerated stepping motions] step in the same places.
Johnny: I don't think that's what they mean by following the footsteps.
Heather: Sure it is! When it snowed last winter, I followed in my dad's footsteps, so I wouldn't get any snow in my boots. It's like that.
Johnny: Well, these footsteps that we're talking about at Bible school are from people who lived thousands of years ago.
Heather: Thousands of years? Wouldn't the snow have melted by now? Wouldn't the footsteps be gone?
Johnny: Well, yes, but it's a figure of speech. Their physical footprints are gone, but we can still follow in their footsteps by following their good example. Following in the footsteps means behaving like they behaved, doing the kinds of things they did.
Heather: I don't get it. How can I follow footsteps I can't see?
Johnny: Don't worry. Just wait until the Bible teacher comes, and we're going to learn all about the footsteps that we can follow.