The following lesson is an adaptation that I made for our older elementary age students. Students will discover that we show our love for God by obedience to His Word. This is only a lesson guide, please adapt to the the needs of your ministry.
Bible Passage: Joshua 23-24
Bible Story Title: Serve God
Target Age Group: Ages 9-11 (3rd-5th Grade U.S.A.)
Target Time Frame: 60 Minutes
Original Teaching Context: Sunday School
Supply List: Bibles, activity pages, pens/pencils
Credits: Image courtesy of Sweet Publishing and Distant Shores Media
Learning Goal: Students will learn that love for God is shown through obedience to His Word.
Learning Activity #1: While waiting for students to arrive have an activity page for them to work on. This is an opportunity to visit and talk with the students.
Learning Activity #2: Serve God- After teaching the lesson this activity will help students to understand how turning to anyone or anything other than God is serving a false god.
How do we serve God or serve gods?
Sometimes when we read books like Joshua we might think that we don’t bow down and worship pretend idols so we have nothing to worry about. You and I may never bow down to a little statue but anytime we focus more on anyone or anything more than God we are serving false gods.
What are some gods that we may be tempted to serve? (Allow responses and write them on the board or a sheet of paper)
Money, people, education, popularity, entertainment, clothes, things, etc. are some examples of gods people in our culture may worship. Are these things bad things? They are only sinful if they turn us away from obeying God. How can we serve God with any of these things?
Challenge: In our quiet time each day we should ask God to show us if we are serving anyone or anything other than Him. When He shows us that ‘god’ we should confess that sin and ask Him to help us serve only Him.
Memory Verse: Joshua 24:15 “But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your forefathers served beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.”
Bible Lesson: Serve God (Joshua 23-24)
Review previous lesson question statements:
What does God do when people obey Him (God blesses those who obey Him in faith)
What does God do when we pray? (God answers the prayers of His people and saves them)
Today’s statement: How can we show we love God? (We show God we love Him by obeying Him)
Before we turn to our passage in Joshua let’s look at John 14:15. Jesus is speaking in this verse and says, “If you love me, you will obey what I command.” If you and I are followers of Christ others will know that we love God because we obey Him. (1 John 2:3-6)
Let’s turn to Joshua 23. We are going to look at the final two chapters of Joshua. Let’s read 23:1-2. The people gathered together and listened closely to what Joshua was going to say. He said to the people, “You must never forget the great things the Lord has done for you. Always remember how God took care of you. God promised to give you the land of Canaan. He promised to fight your enemies so you can live in this land. You are now living in the land and saw God fight your enemies. God has been faithful and has kept all of His promises. God has been very good to all of you.”
Read 23:6-8. Joshua tells the people to be very careful to obey all that God has said. He also warns them not to serve the false gods that the people who do not know the One True God worship. He encourages them to hold fast to the Lord God.
- Believers have been given God’s Word. The Bible tells us who God is and how we should live to please Him. We live in a world that is filled with people who do not worship and obey the One True God. We must stay close to the Lord in order to keep from worshiping anything that is not God.
Read 23:9-11. Who drove out the nations before the Israelites? (God) Who fought for the Israelites? (God) What did Joshua tell the Israelites to be careful to do? (Love the Lord)
(Joshua 23:12-16) Read verses 14-16. God promised to bless His people if they obeyed. He also promised to punish them if they turned away from Him and disobeyed.
- Believers who turn away from God and continue to disobey Him will be disciplined. (Hebrews 12:4-11) “But God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in His holiness.”
In Joshua 24, Joshua reminds the Israelites of God’s faithfulness to them beginning with Abraham. God delivered Abraham out of a land where he worshiped false gods. God delivered Abraham’s descendants out of Egypt (Egyptians worshiped false gods). God brought His people into the land He promised and destroyed those who fought against the Israelites.
Read verses 12-13. God was reminding His people that they did nothing but receive His gift of the Promised Land.
- Believers did nothing to receive the gift of living eternally with God in heaven. Ephesians 2:8-9 “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God-not by works, so that no one can boast.”
After remembering all that God had done for the Israelites and how He kept all of His promises to them, Joshua encourages the people to serve God faithfully. Read verses 14-16. How many times did you read the word ‘serve’? (6)
- What does it mean to serve the Lord? When we obey God we are serving Him. We serve Him by doing everything in our lives to reflect our obedience to Him.
The people tell Joshua that they will serve the Lord because He is the One who has brought them out of slavery, performed great miracles and gave them the land He promised.
Read Joshua 24:19-21. Why does Joshua tell the people they are not able to serve the LORD? (He is holy and jealous) What do the people say to Joshua after he tells them they can’t serve the LORD? (We will serve the LORD)
(Joshua 24:22-27) The Israelites said they would serve the Lord and obey Him. Joshua made a covenant (a binding agreement) between the people and God saying that they would serve and obey Him. He set up a stone to be a memorial of their covenant with God. It would always be there to remind them of this agreement to serve and obey.
The Israelites made promises to obey God but they failed over and over again. They could not keep their promise but God always kept His promises.
When God kept sent the Savior a New Covenant was given for all people. Jesus, God’s Son came to die on the cross for our sins. He was buried and rose again on the third day. When a person believes in Jesus as the sacrifice for his/her sins the Holy Spirit comes to live in their heart. The Holy Spirit enables believers to obey God.
Without the Holy Spirit no one can obey God. A person who has not been saved from their sin is spiritually dead (Ephesians 2:1). We have talked about this when we studied Ephesians. Something that is dead cannot do anything. If I am dead in my sins nothing I do will ever please God. Anything I try to do for God is like handing him filthy rags. Imagine if it were possible a skeleton handing God a stack of dirty stinky clothes hoping to please Him.
God is holy and requires only righteousness in His presence. Just like the people Joshua was speaking to it is impossible for us to serve God. What is impossible with us is possible with God (Mark 10:26-27). God sent Jesus, the sinless Son of God to die in our place. When He shed His blood God’s wrath was satisfied. (Ephesians 2:3-5) “God made Him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.” (2 Cor. 5:21) Our faith in Jesus makes us righteous before God and through the power of His Holy Spirit we can show we love God by our obedience to Him.
Close in prayer.