God Sends Paul to Help in Macedonia: Sunday School Lesson

This children’s Sunday School lesson is the next in the series from the Book of Acts. Paul decides to visit the believers from their first missionary journey. Paul and Barnabas part company over a disagreement whether to take John Mark with them. Paul chooses Silas and begins his second missionary journey. This lesson teaches students that the Holy Spirit guides believers as they follow Jesus. Walking with Jesus daily and staying in His Word enables believers to recognize when God is telling a believer to stop and when to go. The lesson was prepared for older students but can be adapted to other ages. Click here to see all the lessons in this series.

Bible Story: Paul Goes to Macedonia, Paul’s vision of the man of Macedonia
Scripture: Acts 15:36-16:10
Target Age Group: Age 9 – 11 (U.S. 3rd – 5th Grade)
Learning Context: Sunday School
Target Time Frame: 60 minutes
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Supply List: Bibles, Stop sign, Go sign, Grab bag items: compass, map, GPS, instruction manual,

Learning Goal: Students will learn that the Holy Spirit guides and directs believers.

Learning Indicator: Students will demonstrate their comprehension of the lesson by answering review questions.

Learning Activity #1: Play Red Light Green Light. (An active game to help teach lesson about when to stop and when to go) Line students up against a wall and stand at the opposite wall. Explain that when you say ‘red light’ they are to stop and when you say ‘green light’ they are to go. The student that reaches you first can say red light and green light when the students are lined back up against the wall.

Learning Activity #2: Make a grab bag and put in it a compass, map, GPS, instruction manual, Bible etc. Have students take an item out of the bag and talk about how the object is helpful if a person needs to know what to do.

Test: Review Questions

Memory Verse: Proverbs 16:9 “In his heart a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps.”

Bible Lesson: Paul is Directed to Macedonia

Show the stop sign and the go sign. Why are these signs important to have? (Allow responses) If we obey these signs we are safe as we travel from place to place. As a believer we are following Jesus every day. Did you know that the Holy Spirit tells us when to stop and when to go? Did you know that when you are walking with Jesus and obeying Him the Holy Spirit guides you to where God wants you to be?

Let’s turn in our Bibles to Acts 15:36. Review last week’s lesson about the meeting in Jerusalem. How are people saved? By believing in Jesus. What were the Jews saying the Gentiles needed to do in order to be saved? Obey the laws of Moses. How did the believers respond to the letter that Paul, Barnabas, Judas and Silas brought back from Jerusalem? They were encouraged.

Paul and Barnabas stayed with the believers in Antioch for a few years teaching them the word of God.

Before Paul was a believer he tried to love and serve God with all his heart. After he became a believer he realized that without Jesus he couldn’t truly please God because without Christ he was separated from God. Once Paul believed in Jesus his sins were forgiven and no longer separated from God. The Holy Spirit lived in Paul’s heart so now he could love and serve God with all his heart and truly please Him.

God had a plan for Paul’s life. God had chosen Paul to take His Name before the Gentiles and their kings and before the people of Israel. (Acts 9:15)

As Paul went on his first missionary journey with Barnabas God’s purpose for his life must have been the motivation of his heart as he shared the Good News in whatever place he visited.

As he traveled to each place and saw many people put their faith in Jesus, each believer must have had a special place in Paul’s heart. While staying in Antioch, Paul must have prayed for and thought about the believers he met on his first missionary journey. After being away from them for a few years he really wanted to go back and visit them and see how they were doing. Barnabas agreed that they should travel and visit the believers. He told Paul that he wanted to bring John also called Mark with them on this trip.

Who remembers Mark? He went on the first trip with Paul and Barnabas but quit and returned home before Paul and Barnabas finished.

John Mark was Barnabas’ cousin and he knew that Mark had made a mistake and wanted to give him a second chance to encourage him.

Paul knew that the work of sharing the Gospel was too important to have someone who couldn’t be counted on to stay and do the work.

How many of you think Barnabas was right to allow John Mark a second chance?

How many of you think Paul was right to not take a chance on Mark quitting and returning home?

Paul felt very strongly about his opinion and Barnabas felt very strongly about his. Paul and Barnabas could not come to an agreement and decided it was best if they went separate ways. (Genesis 13:8-9) Paul chose Silas to travel with him and Barnabas chose to travel with Mark.

Sometimes we think if we don’t agree with someone they are wrong and we are right. Both Paul and Barnabas were right and instead of trying to hurt each other they chose to agree to disagree. God used this disagreement to send four people out to share the Gospel instead of just two.

Acts 16:1-5

Paul and Silas traveled to Lystra. The believers must have been so happy to see Paul! They most likely talked about what the Lord had been doing since Paul had left. During their conversations a name of a young man kept coming up. Maybe the conversations went something like this: “Remember Eunice? She became a believer when you visited Lystra. Her son Timothy is a believer and he is a faithful young man.” We don’t know what the people said but Acts 16:2 tells us that the believers spoke well of Timothy.

• What kind of reputation do you have? When people speak about you do they speak well of you as the believers in Lystra spoke about Timothy? A good reputation is important for followers of Jesus. Proverbs 22:1

When Paul heard the reputation Timothy had among the believers he wanted to take him on his missionary journey. Timothy must have been so excited to have the privilege to travel with Paul.

Last week we heard about how Gentiles did not need to be circumcised to be saved. Let’s read Acts 16:3. The reason Paul had Timothy circumcised so it wouldn’t be a distraction when they were sharing the Gospel with the Jews.

• We need to be careful that things in our lives do not distract others from seeing Jesus.

Paul, Silas and Timothy began to travel from town to town visiting the believers. As they stopped in each town they shared the letter that the leaders in Jerusalem had written for the Gentile believers. Who remembers what the letter was about? (What things Gentiles needed to abstain from.) Let’s read Acts 16:5. Paul’s visits to the believers brought encouragement and even more people were saved.

Use grab bag of items that show help people know where to go. These items help a person know where to go and would help them if they were lost.

• Introduce Memory Verse.

How do believers know what God wants them to do or where He wants them to go? Believers have the gift of the Holy Spirit living inside their hearts to help them know where to go and what to do as they daily follow Jesus. God has given us the Bible to teach us about Him and His plans for our lives. Believers have the privilege to pray and ask God for His help and direction. God has also given other believers to help us when we are not sure what to do.

As Paul traveled sharing the Good News the Holy Spirit told him where to go and He also told him where not to go. Let’s read Acts 16:6-8. We don’t know exactly how Holy Spirit stopped Paul but he knew that he was being prevented from going in the direction he wanted to travel.

(Share an example from your life or use an age appropriate illustration of how the Holy Spirit may prevent believers as they are trying to do something they think the Lord wants them to do.)

There are many ways that the Lord shows us what we should do and what we should not do. It’s important to pray, stay in His Word and be sensitive to what He is leading you to do and also what He may be preventing you from doing. If you have an uncomfortable feeling in your heart and after praying that God would give you peace and it doesn’t go away it may be God saying not to do what you were planning to do.

When the Holy Spirit told Paul no, he obeyed and traveled in a different direction trusting that God would clearly show him where to share the Good News next. As Paul and his team travel to a place called Troas, God made His directions perfectly clear. Let’s read how God did this in Acts 16:9.

When Paul saw the man from Macedonia begging him to come and help, he knew that this was from God. Paul immediately obeyed what he knew God was telling him to do and Silas, Timothy and Luke (who joined the team in Troas) got on a ship and prepared to travel to Macedonia.

Next time we will continue with Paul and his missionary team’s adventure to Macedonia. We will see how the Holy Spirit continues to empower and guide Paul as he obeys God. Just as the Holy Spirit gave Paul directions for his missionary journey, He will give us directions in our daily life. We will know what God wants us to do when we obey Him and stay close to Him daily.

Close in prayer.

Review Questions:

  1. Where did Paul and Barnabas stay to teach and preach for several years? (Antioch)
  2. Why did Paul want to visit the believers he met on his first missionary trip? (To see how they were doing)
  3. Who did Barnabas want to take on this trip with Paul? (John Mark)
  4. Why did Paul and Barnabas disagree? (Paul didn’t want to risk having John Mark quit again and Barnabas wanted to give him a second chance)
  5. How did Paul and Barnabas solve their disagreement? (They separated and went different directions. Paul took Silas and Barnabas took Mark)
  6. Who joined Paul and Silas in Lystra? (Timothy)
  7. Why was Timothy circumcised? (Because his mother was a Jew and Paul didn’t want Timothy to be a distraction to the unbelieving Jews)
  8. Who prevented Paul and his team from trying to go to Asia and Bithynia? (The Holy Spirit)
  9. How did Paul know God wanted him to go to Macedonia? (He had a vision of a man from Macedonia begging him to come and help them)
  10. What changes do you need to make in your life this week that will help you be able to know when God is telling you to go and when He wants you not to do something?

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