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Midnight Joy

Aim: To emphasize that joy is ours regardless of our situation, and this joy in God is our strength to overcome the situation

Core Competency: Joy

Objectives: The children will

  • Understand that joy does not depend on our situation
  • Apply Godly joy to overcome adverse situations
  • Use visible joy as a tool to witness the gospel's power to others

Key Verse: I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. ( John 15:11 )

Story: "Paul and Silas Rejoice in Prison " ( Acts 16:16-34 )

Materials Required:

  • Aquarium
  • Construction paper (black), 3 sheets
  • Confetti
  • Opaque cups, 2 identical
  • Poster board
  • Scissors
  • Tape, transparent
  • Pencil
  • Candy
  • Cloth, red

Eye on Science:

Advance Preparation: To make a plug for one of the cups, use the mouth of one of the cups as a template to draw a circle on the poster board (the outer dashed line in the figure). Use the bottom of the cup as a second template to draw another circle centered inside the first (the inner dashed line in the figure). Draw a tab extending outward about 3 cm (1 inch) from the larger circle. Draw 6 equidistant radial lines from the outer circle to about half-way to the inner circle.

Cut out the outer circle / tab from the poster board and the radial lines (the heavy lines in the figure should be cut). The resulting shape should fit snugly about a centimeter (3/8") inside the mouth of the cup, with the tab protruding on one side.

Line the back and sides of the aquarium (or other large see-through container) with black construction paper to make it opaque. Fill it at least 2/3 full of confetti. (If confetti is unavailable or too expensive, shred newspaper into rough squares about 5 cm (2 inches) per side, and crumble into small balls.)

Using tape or glue, attach a small amount of confetti or newspaper to the top of the plug prepared earlier. Fill one of the cups 2/3 full of candy and insert plug (this is the "prepared cup").

Hide the prepared cup in the bottom of the aquarium, leaning against the side wall at the back.

During Class:Tell the story of Paul and Silas in prison from the guard's point of view. The story is more effectively told if the guard has a name, but be honest with the children - "The Bible doesn't tell us his name, but let's call him Julius."

Emphasize the following points:

  • Julius was probably dissatisfied with his life (because he was so ready to accept the gospel, Acts 16:30 ). Each time you mention this, scoop some of the confetti from the aquarium with the unprepared cup and let it pour back into the aquarium (be careful not to reveal the hidden, prepared cup). After each scoup / pour, leave the cup buried in the confetti.
  • Julius' life depended upon keeping Paul and Silas in the prison. He was committed to their suffering, and expected nothing but hatred in return.
  • Paul and Silas displayed joy despite their beatings and imprisonment, because they had been arrested for serving God (specifically, they healed a slave girl without her master's permission). They were even singing praise to God that they were worthy to suffer for Him. Their joy did not depend on having comfortable surroundings, good entertainment, or tasty food. They were filled with joy because they knew God.
  • The Bible records that the other prisoners were quietly listening to the hymns ( Acts 16:25 ); Julius was probably listening as well, and perhaps the singing eased his troubled mind and lulled him to sleep ( Acts 16:27 - he "woke up"). The joy expressed by Paul and Silas was a testimony of the power of God to those who witnessed it.
  • The unexpected earthquake gave Paul and Silas the opportunity to escape, but they did not. They waited for God to use them. Julias' deep despair (so great that he was ready to end his own life) was replaced by amazement when Paul called out, "We are all here!" ( Acts 16:28 ) He willingly accepted the gospel because of their actions ( Acts 16:33 ).
  • Julius had been filled with sorrow and despair. (Pretend to scoop another cupful of confetti from the aquarium, but instead come up with the prepared cup. The confetti glued to the plug will make it appear to be confetti-filled.) However, Jesus changed all of that. (Cover the prepared cup with the red cloth. Now remove the red cloth, holding on to the plug's tab. The plug will be removed and remain hidden in the cloth, which may be tossed onto the table or into a bag.) Julius and his entire family were now filled with joy as well, because they too had come to believe in God ( Acts 16:34 ). (Show that the cup is now filled with candy, which may be shared with the children.)

Application Questions: Are you filled with joy because you believe in God? If your joy is lacking, what will you do this morning to change that? Is your joy a witness to others of the gospel, just as the joy of Paul and Silas was a witness to the jailor in Philippi?

Used: KIDZ 07/01

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