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Trusting God to Be God

Aim: For each child to depend on God completely to keep His promises

Core Competency: Personal God

Objectives: The children will

  • Act so as to demonstrate faith in God's promises
  • Learn to trust God through obedience
  • Recognize that physical weakness can build spiritual strength

Key Verse: Surely God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid. The Lord, the Lord, is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation. ( Isaiah 12:2 )

Story: "Smackdown - Jacob Wrestles with God " ( Genesis 32:1-32 )

Materials Required:

  • newspaper
  • rubber cement
  • flour
  • scissors
  • tape, transparent

Eye on Science:

Advance Preparation:Cut six strips of newspaper one column wide (about 5 cm / 2 inches) and at least 50 cm / 2 feet in length. On half of the strips, coat the center two thirds of one side of each with a thin layer of rubber cement and let dry (about 30 minutes). Then dust all of the rubber cement with flour so that it is not sticky. We'll call the unprepared newspaper strips "self-willed strips", and the prepared newspaper strips "obedient strips".

In Class: Tell the following in your own words:

"What has been your greatest challenge? Perhaps transfering to a new school - making new friends, working with new teachers, and learning a new set of rules. You have a choice when faced with a challenge such as this: You can try to make things work in your own power, by doing whatever it takes to 'fit in' (swear, lie, be mean to others, cheat on tests), or you can determine to obey God completely and trust Him to keep His promise ('All things work together for good for those who love God and are called according to His purpose' Romans 8:28 ).

"If you choose to obey God, you can be absolutely confident that God will keep His promise.

"In today's lesson, Jacob faces the greatest challenge of His life. He prepares to meet His brother Esau, who has sworn to kill him. As you can imagine, that makes Jacob more than a little nervous!

"Jacob has a long history of 'helping' God keep His promises.

  • "God promised Jacob the birthright (very valuable). Jacob purchased the birthright from Esau for a bowl of lentil stew and some black bread ( Genesis 25:29-34 ). This sounds a first like the deal of the century, but actually Jacob was taken - after all, God had already promised the birthright to Jacob ( Genesis 25:23 ). To receive it, Jacob needed to do nothing!
  • "God also promised Jacob the blessing. Jacob tricked his father Isaac into giving the blessing to him ( Genesis 27:1-40 ). Not only was this unnecessary (since God already promised this to Jacob), but this incident resulted in Esau's vow to kill his brother Jacob ( Genesis 27:41 ).
  • "God promised that Jacob would be provided all that he needed ( Genesis 27:28 ). Instead, Jacob used deceit to obtain thousands of animals and a lot of money from his Uncle Laban ( Genesis 30:25-43 ). As a result, he had to sneak away in the middle of the night to avoid an ugly scene ( Genesis 31:20-21 ).

"Jacob begins by "helping" God keep his promise to protect Jacob as well. He divides his family and possessions into two groups, so that if Esau attacks one the other might escape ( Genesis 32:7-8 ). He sent 580 animals ahead of both groups as gifts to Esau, to 'butter him up' and perhaps gain mercy ( Genesis 32:13-21 ). Finally, alone on the far bank of the Jabbok River, he prepares to spend the night ( Genesis 32:22-23 ).

"In all of this, Jacob was showing a lack of faith in God. Contrast his actions with a young lady named Corrie Ten Boom, who lived in Germany during World War II. As a Christian, she felt strongly that she should protect the Jewish people from being hurt and killed by the Nazis. She hid many Jews in her attic.

"One day the Nazi secret police knocked on her door and asked if she was hiding any Jews. She could have lied to protect herself, but she felt strongly that she should tell the truth and trust God to protect her. 'Sure,' she replied quite honestly. 'My attic is full of them!'

"To her amazement, the police thought she was joking, laughed, and walked on to the next house. God honored her obedience with His promised protection.

"Jacob had not yet reached the faith that Corrie Ten Boom displayed. But that was about to change!

"During the night, someone came and began to wrestle with Jacob. At first, Jacob believed he was winning. After a night of wrestling, however, the "man" gently touched Jacob's thigh; immediately the bone was wrenched from its socket. Jacob realized that this "man" was actually God, and God's power was infinitely greater than his. He clung to God and begged for God's blessing.

"This event marks a turning point in Jacob's life. From this point forward, Jacob depends less and less on himself, and more and more on God's faithfulness. Jacob's wrenched hip left him physically weaker (he limped for the remainder of his life), but spiritually stronger.

"Are you depending on your own strength to win spiritual battles? If so, imagine yourself battling the enemy with sticks, rocks and bow and arrows while God waits behind you with F-16 fighter jets, M-1 tanks, and nuclear-tipped missiles. Victory is assured if only you will get out of the way and let the battle belong to the Lord. God keeps his promises; our role is to obey."

Take a self-willed strip and show both sides. Explain that life brings many challenges; how we respond is critical. Fold the strip in half and cut off the fold, letting it fall to the floor. Show the two separate strips. "Fix it yourself" (intentionally child-like) using the transparent tape, explaining that you "don't need God", you can fix it with "self-willed tape". Show the amusing result.

Take a obedient stripe and show both sides. Explain that a better way is to "Trust God to be God" and rely on His promises. Fold the strip in half (rubber cement to the inside)and cut off the fold, letting it fall to the floor. Holding one end (and without pulling on the other), let the strip fall open. The scissors will have pressed the rubber cement on the undersides together, forming one perfect seam; the strip will appear to have been "repaired" and to form one single strip. You may refold and cut several more times if you like.

Emphasize that God keeps His promises, and so we should never try to force our plans into His plan. Rather, we should carefully obey His Word, and trust God to simply be God.

Application: In what area of your life are you not obeying God? What promise of God are you reluctant to trust today? Will you commit that area to Him, and change your actions to demonstrate your faith in God's ability to keep His promises?

Used: KIDZ 11/98 , KIDZ 08/02

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