Lesson Five: Blessed are those who Hunger and Thirst
Main idea: We crave being right with God, and God fills us up with his righteousness when we choose to follow him.
- Read Scripture references, Isaiah 55:2-3, Matthew 6:33, Psalm 106:3, 1 John 3:7
- Gather: Bible; dry erase markers or chart paper and markers; BEEATTITUDES poster; a gallon jug per child, prepared as described in the game instructions; tennis ball bees; pitcher filled with colored water; shallow baking dish or bowl; plastic cup with several holes cut out of the bottom; plastic cup, intact; glass jars with lids, permanent markers, hexagon template, glass paint and paint brushes or glass paint pens
- Take time to meditate on this week’s Scripture and think about your own life. What is holding you back from being filled with God’s righteousness? Are you discontented because you are going through the motions without really hungering for righteousness and a deeper relationship with the Lord, or are you focused on the things of the world and “keeping up with the Joneses?” Take time to review any places in your life where you are building your own cistern instead of drinking from the spring of living water.
This lesson series is still in progress. Click here to see our progress so far.
- Matthew 5:1-12
- Jeremiah 2:13
- Isaiah 53:6
- Micah 6:8
Game: Honey Pot Catch
Each child will need a “honey pot” made from a gallon milk or water jug. Before class, cut off the top of the jugs, swooping down from the handle to about the middle of the front of the jug. (The corner opposite the handle.) Leave the handle intact. This makes a milk jug scoop that will catch and hold tennis balls. Use permanent maker to write “honey pot” on each jug. To play, pair the kids off. Each child will need a catcher and each pair of kids will need one tennis ball decorated like a bee. Children stand in two lines, shoulder to shoulder and facing the other line. The first kid from each pair puts a tennis ball into their jug and uses the jug to launch the ball to their partner, who then catches it with their jug. Then both players take a step back and throw again. If the ball drops, just pick it up and try again.
Alternatively, have everyone stand in a circle. Use one ball and pass it across the circle using the jugs. To make sure everyone has a turn to catch and throw, have each kid sit down where they are in the circle after they have caught and thrown the ball one time. For added fun, have the kids remember who they launched the ball to and who launched it to them. Continue passing the bee tennis ball in this same pattern. After a couple of rounds with one ball, continue to add more and more, one at a time, until several “bees” are flying through the air!
For an easier option, decorate buckets to look like honey pots or honey combs (or use the milk jug honey pots) and place on a table at one end of the room. Have the kids toss the bee balls into the jugs from various distances.
Open in prayer, then say this is our fifth week in the Beatitudes. Remember, the Beatitudes tell us what our attitudes should be. That’s why we have been playing so many bee related games and making crafts about bees. Whenever we see a bumblebee, we will remember what our attitude should be. We also learned that “blessing” means God’s special favor in our lives, and that blessings aren’t always what we expect. The first Beatitude taught us that being poor in spirit means that our worth comes from God, not our own abilities. In the second Beatitude we discovered that the kind of mourning Jesus meant was a deep, heart-sick sort of sadness over our sins. We discovered that being meek means being kind and gentle, standing up for what’s right without taking revenge or fighting back when people are mean to us. Those first three Beatitudes don’t really seem like blessings, do they? When we think of blessings, we think of having lots of things and being filled to overflowing with good stuff. We said last week that the Beatitudes seem to build up on each other. Today we will see what being poor in spirit, mourning our sins, and being meek build up to. Let’s read the whole Beatitudes passage is Matthew 5:1-12 before we learn about the fourth Beatitude. (Read, or have a student read, Matthew 5:1-12.)
“Now when Jesus saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, 2 and he began to teach them.
3 ‘Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4 Blessed are those who mourn,
for they will be comforted.
5 Blessed are the meek,
for they will inherit the earth.
6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be filled.
7 Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.
8 Blessed are the pure in heart,
for they will see God.
9 Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called children of God.
10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11 ‘Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 12 Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.’”
Let’s play a quick game. Everybody stand up right where you are. Now if you did NOT eat breakfast this morning, sit down. If you had cereal for breakfast, sit down. If you had eggs for breakfast, sit down. (Keep naming breakfast foods until only a couple of kids are left standing. When you get to that point, say,) Now if you had cardboard for breakfast, sit down. (No one will sit.) If you had water from your dog’s water bowl, sit down. Why aren’t you all sitting down? What did you have for breakfast? (Allow the standing students to answer, and then have them sit down.) So did anyone have cardboard or dog water for breakfast? No one? Why not? (Allow students to answer.) I’ve never been hungry for cardboard or dog’s water! When we eat breakfast, we want to eat good things that fill us up. Today’s beatitude promises to fill us up with good things. Who wants to read today’s beatitude for me? (Allow a student to read Matthew 5:6.) “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.”
We know what it means to be hungry and to be thirsty when it comes to our bodies. Our tummies start to growl, our mouths get dry; we may get a little grumpy. Those are signs that we need to eat and drink something to take care of our bodies. But Jesus isn’t talking about being physically hungry and thirsty. He’s talking about being spiritually hungry and thirsty. When our hearts are hungry and thirsty, we need to fill them with the righteousness of God. We have spent the past few weeks coming to the realization that we are spiritually empty. We don’t have what it takes to please God on our own. We are sinners who need to learn to be humble and gentle. Our spirits are hungry. When my body is hungry, I crave chicken pot pie. When my heart is hungry, I crave righteousness. The problem is, I, just like everyone else on the planet, I try to fill myself up with other things than righteousness. Let’s have a sword drill to find a Bible verse to explain this further. Take all fingers and bookmarks out of your Bibles and hold them above your heads. When I say go, look up Jeremiah 2:13. Go! (Read, or have a student read, Jeremiah 2:13.) “My people have committed two sins: They have forsaken me, the spring of living water, and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water.” In this verse, God is using a metaphor. This word picture helps to understand more about ourselves and more about God. In this word picture, God is fresh, pure, cool water that flows nonstop and quenches our thirst. God is like that first drink of water you take after playing a long, hard football game. It tastes so good, doesn’t it? That’s what we have turned our backs on. Instead, we make cisterns, water wells for ourselves. And these wells leak! Sometimes we would rather do things our own way and get it wrong than to do things God’s way. All of us have turned away from God to do things our own way instead of our way. Isaiah 53:6 says, “We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.” We have all have sinned, have turned to our own way, but the good news is, Jesus has taken on the punishment for our sin so we can follow God!
Let me demonstrate what it looks like when we try to dig our own cisterns and live life apart from God. (Place a baking dish or bowl on the table, along with a pitcher of water. Before class, color the water with food coloring to make it easier to see. Hold up a clear plastic cup that has several holes cut out of the bottom.) This cup represents what our lives look like when we try to live our lives without submitting to God. This water in the pitcher represents the blessings and good things God wants to give us. (Hold the cup over the bowl or baking dish and slowly pour the water into the cup. It should very quickly drain out of the bottom, like a colander.) You see, this is what Jeremiah 2:13 means by broken cisterns. Like this cup can’t do its job with holes in it, we can’t do our job without God in us. We may try, but we will soon find that we are empty, hungry, and thirsty.
But thank God for the promise we find in today’s beatitude! “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.” When our hearts are hungry and thirsty, God fills us up! This beatitude in Matthew 5:6 says that we are filled when we hunger and thirst for righteousness. So what is righteousness, anyway? (Write “RIGHTEOUSNESS” on the board.) Righteousness is being right with God. (Underline “RIGHT” in “RIGHTEOUSNESS.”) Being right with God means to live the way he wants us to. Let’s have a sword drill to find a verse that will help us to see how God wants us to live. Take all fingers and bookmarks out of your Bibles and hold them over your heads. When I say go, turn to Micah 6:8. Go! (Read, or have a student read, Micah 6:8.) “He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”
Obviously, we can’t do these things on our own. But something amazing happens when we start to hunger and thirst, to crave in our hearts, being right with God, when we start to crave righteousness. 2 Corinthians 5:17 says, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” When we belong to Jesus and choose to follow him, he gets rid of the old, sinful, broken things in our lives, (hold up the cup with holes in the bottom and make a show of throwing it over your shoulder or into the trash,) and he makes us brand new! (Hold up a new clear cup.) When we hunger and thirst for righteousness, God fills us up. (Fill this cup up until it overflows into the baking dish or bowl beneath it.) God fills us up so much that all the blessings and good things he gives us overflow!
Have you ever heard the saying “the grass is always greener on the other side?” It means that no matter what we have, what other people have will always seem better. That is because we hunger and thirst for something this world can never fill. We hunger and thirst for God’s righteousness, for heaven, which we get when we follow Jesus, who takes away our sins!
Next week we will see what our being filled with righteousness overflows into as we start in on the last half of the beatitudes.
(End by adding the “hunger and thirst” bee to the “filled” part of the hive on the BEEATTITUDES poster.)
End in prayer.
Craft: Honeycomb Jars
Make a honey jar out of old glass jars. Large baby food jars or Starbucks Frappuccino jars would work well for this, or you can buy small glass jars with lids. Thoroughly wash and sanitize the jars beforehand. Use a permanent marker to write kid’s names or initials on the bottom of the glass. Cut out the hexagon stencil so it fits into the jar. (Let the kids choose if they would rather use the larger or smaller hexagons.) Stick it into the jar so the image faces out and can be seen around the whole jar when you turn it. Use glass paint or glass paint pens to trace the hexagons onto the glass, then paint inside the hexagons with a bunch of colors to create a Technicolor honeycomb jar. Send home directions on how to cure the paint, according to the package directions on that particular paint. (Many require a few days’ time air drying before baking.) If you want, put a little honey in the jars before sending them home. If you want to avoid using glass jars with your kids, use clear plastic cups instead. Put the hexagon paper in the cup so the pattern faces out and use permanent markers to decorate.