How can we put the Lord first in our lives? Includes a lesson, 3 games, and a craft.
Needed: Soft play balls or paper wads, soccer goals, drawing paper, crayons or colored pencils
Intro Game 1: Rotating Firsts
Divide the students into two teams and play dodge ball with soft play balls or wads of waste paper. After 30 seconds, name one of the balls as the 1st ball. That is the only ball that can get someone out. If anyone picks up any of the other balls, they’re out. After 30 seconds, go back to normal play. Then, 30 seconds later, choose another ball as the 1st ball.
After the game, explain that we have to learn to put God first in our lives, just like we had to name one of the balls to be first.
Intro Game 2: Different Goals
If you have room, set up an area to play soccer. The twist is that instead of having two goals, you’ll have three. Every 30 seconds, change which goal one of the teams is trying to score in. The goalie from the defending team has to run to the new goal as the offensive team turns their attention toward it.
Afterward, tell students that we have to make living for God our number 1 goal.
Ask students, What is the one thing that you love the most in the whole world?
What would you do if God asked you to give that thing up?
We’ve been learning about Abram. You remember that God told Abram to leave his country and his friends and his family and go live in the country of Canaan. Does anyone remember what promise God made to Abram about the country of Canaan? (God promised that He would give the whole country to Abram’s children and grandchildren forever.)
But there was a problem with Abram having children, wasn’t there? Does anyone remember why Abram didn’t have any children yet? (His wife, Sarai, couldn’t have babies.)
So what wrong thing did Abram do to help him have a baby? (He married Sarai’s servant, Hagar. Abram had two wives.)
Did Hagar have a baby? (Yes, she had a son named Ishmael.)
But then, a few years later, God talked to Abram and told Abram that his wife, Sarai, would have a son, even though Sarai was ninety years old. And God named Abram Abraham and He named Sarai Sarah. Abraham and Sarah thought it was funny that God would say Sarah would have a son and they didn’t believe Him at first. But God can do anything, can’t He? He’s so powerful.
So now we’re going to learn about the time when Sarah finally had her son and we’re going to learn about a couple of times when Abraham had to make a hard decision.
Summarize Genesis 21-22 with this Bible story, asking the included questions as you read.
When Abraham was a hundred years old – that’s pretty old, isn’t it? – and Sarah was ninety years old, God made it so that Sarah could become pregnant and she gave birth to a son. Abraham named this son Isaac, and he was so happy that he gave a great feast to celebrate.
Everyone, cheer for Sarah having a son.
But at the feast, Abraham’s other son, Ishmael, whose mother was Hagar, was making fun of the baby Isaac.
Everyone, laugh and point like you’re Ishmael making fun of Isaac.
But it isn’t nice to make fun of people, is it?
Sarah saw Ishmael making fun of Isaac and went to complain to Abraham. “Send Hagar and Ishmael away from us,” she said. “Isaac and I are your family, not them.”
Do you think Abraham should send Hagar and Ishmael away? (Remember that Abraham shouldn’t have married Hagar in the first place since he was already married to Sarah.)
Abraham didn’t want to send Hagar and Ishmael away because he cared about them too. But then God talked to Abraham and said, “Don’t worry about Hagar and Ishmael, Abraham. Send them away like Sarah said.”
So, the next morning, Abraham gave Hagar and Ishmael some food and a bottle of water and sent them away to live somewhere else. Hagar and Ishmael walked through the desert all day. When their water ran out, Hagar took Ishmael and put him under a bush so he would be shaded from the sun. Then, she went a little way further and sat down and cried. She thought they were going to die it was so hot in that desert.
Do you think God will let Hagar and Ishmael die?
Then, God sent His angel and the angel came and said, “What is the matter, Hagar? You and Ishmael will not die. God will make Ishmael to grow up and have many children, and they will become a great nation of people.”
Then, God showed Hagar a well of water a little further away, and she went and filled her water bottle and gave it to Ishmael. And God did what He had said for Ishmael. Ishmael grew up big and strong and got married and had his own kids.
A few years later, though, God came and tested Abraham. “Abraham,” He said, “I want you to take your son, Isaac, and go up the mountain and sacrifice him to me as a burnt offering. I want you to kill Isaac.”
Do you think Abraham will do it? Will Abraham kill his son, Isaac, because God asked him to?
How do you think it made Abraham feel for God to ask him to kill his son?
Why do you think God would tell Abraham to kill Isaac?
The next morning, Abraham took Isaac, some wood, and a knife and went up the mountain. As they walked, Isaac asked his father, Abraham, “Father, we have the wood and the knife, but where is the sacrifice? Where is the thing we are going to kill and burn up for God?”
“God will provide the sacrifice,” Abraham answered.
When they got to the top of the mountain, Abraham took Isaac and tied him down with a rope. Then, he lifted the knife and was about to kill Isaac when an angel suddenly yelled, “Abraham! Abraham!”
“I’m here!” Abraham answered.
“Do not kill the boy,” the angel answered. “You have done the right thing. You were willing to even give up your son if God asked you to. Now, God knows that God is first in your life. God will bless you for this and give you many children and grandchildren, and God will give this whole country to them forever.”
Why did God tell Abraham to sacrifice Isaac? (God wanted to see if Abraham would listen to Him.)
God asks us to do hard things sometimes. He might even ask us to stop doing something that we like to do, but we have to be willing to do whatever God asks us. We have to make sure that God is always first in our lives. He has to be number one, the most important thing. And if we will do what God tells us to and make Him first in our lives, then He will reward us, just like He rewarded Abraham.
Game: Alex and Alicia
Use these fictional stories to help students learn how to put God first in their lives.
Story #1: Alicia’s Big Decision
(Change the example if any of your students are deaf.) There’s a girl in Alicia’s class who’s a little different. Her name is Audrey. Audrey is deaf, and when she talks, her words sound strange. One day, Alicia heard her friend, Ally, making fun of Audrey. Alicia thinks it would be funny if she made fun of Audrey too.
What should Alicia do to put God first in her life in this situation?
(Alicia can put God first in her life by not making fun of Audrey and telling Ally to stop. God doesn’t want us to make fun of other people.)
Story #2: Delayed Gratification
It’s Saturday at Alex’s house and it is beautiful outside. One of his friends, Arthur, is at the door, asking him to come outside and play. Alex wants to, but he was just about to spend some time reading his Bible and praying.
What should Alex do to put God first in his life in this situation?
(Alex can put God first in his life by telling Arthur that he’ll come outside when he’s finished reading his Bible and praying. God is more important than our friends or playing outside.)
Craft: God’s on Top
Have students draw a tower of the different things that they like or are important to them. They might draw their family, cartoon characters that they like, hobbies they enjoy, friends, certain places that are special to them, prized possessions, etc. Have them draw a cross or a throne at the top to represent God. Remind them that God has to be first in their life. He is the most important thing.
Game: Rotating Firsts or Different Goals
Play the intro games again as time allows. Remind students of the lessons we can learn from each game.
God, You are the one who created us. You are the one who sent Jesus to die for us so that we could be forgiven of our sins. Help us to put You first in our lives and make You the most important thing. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.
This lesson is included in my book, Father Abraham: Children Sunday School Lessons on Genesis 12-50.