Lesson Seven: Blessed are the Pure in Heart
Main idea: When we let Jesus purify our hearts, we can to come into God’s presence and spend all of forever with him.
- Read Scripture references and Jeremiah 17:10, Proverbs 15:11, James 4:8, Psalm 24, Psalm 51 and Luke 6:45
- Gather: Bible; dry erase markers or chart paper and markers; BEEATTITUDES poster; marbles; rice; small crosses; bowls; spoons; unopened bottle of water; a cup of sand; a plastic spoon; smocks; chalkboard paint; wooden hearts; acrylic paint; paintbrushes; or small chalkboards, metallic Sharpies and washable markers
- Take time to meditate on this week’s Scripture and think about your own life. To be pure in heart is to be from contamination. It is to have one focus, one goal as you go about your life, and that goal is to please God. Maybe you have some sin that you know is hindering you from living up to your fullest potential in Christ. Or maybe you don’t have any “major sin” holding you back. If that’s the case, check your intentions. You may be doing good things for the kingdom of heaven, but is there any part of you that is serving God for selfish reasons? Or is your service, or any work you do, negatively affecting the quality and quantity of your relationship with your family? This week, do a heart check and ask God to purify you so you may see him clearly.
- Matthew 5:1-12
- 1 Samuel 16:7
- 1 Chronicles 28:9
- John 3:16
- Ecclesiastes 7:20
- Romans 6:23
Game: Purify Your Heart
There are many versions of this game, based on the needs and abilities of your class. The basic idea is to have a bowl of dry rice or beans, with small objects mixed in. The objects must include a small cross. You can also include jacks, marbles, small action figures, or beads. Any object that is small enough to fit on a spoon or be picked up with chopsticks would work. I personally would just use a small cross pendant and about ten marbles in each bowl of rice. The children must sift through the rice using chopsticks or spoons in order to find all the objects, or “distractions” hidden within the rice. They must remove the objects using only the spoon or chopsticks and transfer them to another bowl. They must leave the rice and the cross in the original bowl. This represents that the way to have a pure heart is to have only Jesus as our focus. You can have the kids work in teams and run a relay, with children running to their team’s rice bowl, scooping up one object, and carrying it back on a spoon to their team. The first team to remove all the objects except the cross wins. Or give the children each their own bowl and have them compete against everyone. Be sure to have the same number and type of objects in each bowl, so it is easy for you to know when they have removed everything and to tell the kids what they still have left to look for if they start to get frustrated.
Open in prayer, then say this is our seventh week studying the Beatitudes! We have learned so much in our time together! 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. The first three Beatitudes didn’t really seem like blessings when we first started studying them. They were all about being empty and humble and broken before the Lord. Last week we learned that God starts to fill up that emptiness by giving us mercy. For a couple more weeks we will look at how God fills up the hunger we have in us for him. Let’s read the whole Beatitudes passage is Matthew 5:1-12 before we learn about the sixth 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.’”
So what is this week’s beatitude? (Allow a student to answer.) Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. Let’s start by discussing what it means to be pure. (Write “pure” on the board.) What does pure mean? (Allow students to answer.) Pure means not contaminated, not mixed with any other substance. I have a demonstration to help you understand purity a little better. I have here an unopened bottle of water. (Show the kids that the seal is still intact on the bottle.) This is pure water and is safe and good for me to drink. (Open the water bottle and take a drink. Before saying anything else, take out a clear cup of sand and add a few spoonfuls of sand to the water bottle. Put the lid back on and give it a good shake.) Is the water safe and good for me to drink now? Of course not. The water is no longer pure. It has been contaminated by sand. This contaminated bottle of water is like our hearts when we fill our lives with things other than God. So a pure heart is one that is focused on God, and not filled up with the thoughts and desires of the world. (On the board next to “pure,” write “focused on only God.”)
Why does Jesus tell us that the pure in HEART are blessed? Why not say the pure in mind, or the pure in works? Let’s turn to the Bible to find out. We’re going to do a sword drill for this next verse, so take all bookmarks and fingers out of your Bible and hold them above your head. To give the verse you are going to look up some context, the passage we will be reading from is when God sent the prophet Samuel to anoint the new king. Samuel didn’t know it would be David, he just knew it would be one of Jesse’s sons. So the verse we’ll read is referring to one of David’s older brothers. When I say go, turn to 1 Samuel 16:7. Go! (Read, or have a student read 1 Samuel 16:7.) “But the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.’” You see, the way people and the world look at people is different than how God looks at people. People tend to judge others on how they look, what they do, how they act, and what they say. But God doesn’t judge us based on what we do or what we look like on the outside. God goes much deeper in his relationship than that. He goes right into our hearts. Right into the deepest, darkest, most sinful places in our lives. He knows the secrets that we don’t tell anyone. He knows our greatest fears and what embarrasses us the most. He knows how we do good things for wrong reasons and how we do bad things while we think we have a good reason. God knows us better that we know ourselves. The Bible says in 1 Chronicles 28:9, “the Lord searches every heart and understands every desire and every thought.” To some people, the idea that the Lord digs into the deepest parts of our lives and sees all of our sin can be scary. They may think that God will be angry or disgusted with how impure their hearts are. But you know what? God is not disgusted by you. He knows that you are a sinner. He knows that your heart is impure. And he loves you. He loves you, just as you are. He loves you so much, he sent Jesus to die on the cross for you. Who wants to tell me what the Bible says in John 3:16? (Have a student recite this well-known verse.) “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
This is a verse that most people know, even if they don’t really go to church. But knowing the verse and understanding it are two very different things. I have just told you that God loves you just as you are. But still, Jesus had to come to earth and die on the cross for our sins. And our Beatitude today tells us that only the pure in heart will get to see God. But the Bible tells us in Ecclesiastes 7:20 that “Indeed, there is no one on earth who is righteous, no one who does what is right and never sins.” So if no one is righteous and pure in heart, how can anyone see God? We can never do anything to make ourselves pure on our own. We can’t go to church enough, tithe enough money, read the Bible enough, do enough good works or pray enough or confess our sins enough to be made pure before God. There is only one thing that will rid our hearts of all sins and all the things that take our focus off of God, and that is the blood of Jesus Christ. (On the board, draw an arrow pointing down from the word “pure” to “Jesus saves.”) God is so holy and so perfectly pure that he will not be in the presence of impurity. So when our hearts are filled with sin, we cannot see God. The wages for our sin is death. It says so in Romans 6:23. “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” We don’t deserve to spend all of forever in heaven with God. But he loves us so much that he had his son Jesus take on the punishment for our sins. Jesus died so we can see God. Jesus died to take away our sins and make us pure. All we have to do is believe that he forgives us, confess to him that we are sinners, and then do our best to live pure lives. Lives that are focused on God and what he wants us to do, and not distracted by other things in life.
So what does it mean to see God? Have you all ever asked a friend if you could see their cool new toy, only to have them say, “You look with your eyes, not with your hands?” No one? Well I’ve had people say that to me before. When I ask someone if I can see something they have, I don’t mean that I want to look at it. I mean that I want to interact with it, touch it, and move it around. Or when you go to your grandparents’ house for Thanksgiving, you may tell your friends that you are going to see your grandma and grandpa. You don’t mean that you are going to go over to their house and stare at them across the table. You mean you are going to interact with them, talk with them and laugh with them and hug them. That is the sort of “see” that Jesus means when he says, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.” When we let Jesus purify our hearts, we get to come into God’s presence and spend all of forever with him.
Before we move on to our craft today, let’s spend a few moments listing on the board the things that can fill up our hearts to make them impure. (In a large heart on the board, write “God.” In the rest of the heart, write the sins and distractions the students suggest. If you want, write “God in permanent marker. It should come off if you scribble over it completely with dry erase marker and rub it off, or use hand sanitizer. Don’t do this is you are afraid to risk ruining your board.) That is a good list of things that cause us to be impure in heart. We want to follow God, but we get distracted by our homework, or sports, or fighting with friends or family, or grumbling about doing our chores. Our hearts can become impure even by good things, if we let those good things become more important to us than God is. Doing homework and sports are good things, for example, but if they become more important to us than our relationship with God, then our hearts are just as impure as if we were cheating our homework or being a poor sport when we lose a game. The only thing that should be permanently in our hearts is God. (As you say this, erase everything in the heart except “God.) In order to see God and spend all of forever with him, we must become pure in heart and free from distraction by following Jesus.
(End by adding the “pure in heart” bee to the “see God” part of the hive on the BEEATTITUDES poster.)
End in prayer.
Craft: Pure (Chalkboard) Hearts
Cover the children in smocks and protect your tables. Give each child a small wood or cardboard heart. Allow them to paint it in chalkboard paint. Clean up the paint while the chalkboards dry, and then have the kids paint the word “God” onto the heart in a different shade of paint than the background. Send them home with a piece of chalk and tell the kids that while we may add many thinks to our hearts, the way to have a pure heart is to have God in our hearts forever. If you wish to avoid using chalkboard paint with your kids, buy the prefinished chalkboards that have an unfinished wood frame. Have the students decorate the frame using markers. Suggest that they draw bees and hearts, and the phrase “bee pure,” but let them decorate it how they desire. Use silver Sharpie or paint to write “God” on the chalkboard itself as a reminder that we must always keep God in our hearts.