The fourth in a series of Philippians used to teach older students the value of having a personal quiet time every day. This lesson focus on the race that every believer is on and how believers must prize their relationship with Jesus above anything. When their relationship with Jesus is their most valued possession they will protect the time they spend with Him. The lesson was created for older students and can be adapted for your ministry’s needs.
Memory Verse: Philippians 3:14 “I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”
Learning Goal: Students will learn that believers need to protect their personal quiet time because our walk with Jesus is the highest priority.
Bible Passage: Philippians 3
Bible Story Title: Pressing on for the Prize (Philippians 3)
Target Age Group: Ages 9-11 (3rd-5th Grade U.S.A.)
Target Time Frame: 60 Minutes
Original Teaching Context: Sunday School
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Supply List: Bibles, paper, pens/pencils, blocks for relay race,
Learning Activity #1: My Prized Possessions: Give each student a sheet of paper. They will list their five most valuable possessions in the order they value them most.
Learning Activity #2: Relay Race: Divide class into two teams. At one end of the room have 5 blocks (cardboard boxes with the words Born again, Grow, Serve, Persevere, Goal) Give each team a baton. Line up the teams and when the signal to go is given each player runs to the blocks, picks up one and returns giving the baton to the next player who runs and gets the next and so on. Once the team has all the blocks have them set in order from beginning to finish. The team who has the blocks stacked in the proper order wins the round. Have the order visible for the teams: at the bottom is born again, grow, serve, persevere, goal.
Bible Lesson: Pressing on for the Prize (Philippians 3)
The past few weeks we have been learning about the importance of having a daily quiet time with God. Believers need to spend time with God every day to grow in faith and understanding. Last week we talked about getting ready to have our time with God. Before we can begin to read our Bible and pray we need to have an attitude check and see if our hearts are clean before God. We stop and confess any sin we are aware of and ask God to forgive us and cleanse us. (1 John 1:9) Once we have allowed God to show us of any sinful attitudes or actions and we have confessed them, we are now ready to begin our quiet time with Him.
Let’s turn in our Bibles to Philippians 3. Read 3:4-6. Before Paul became a Christian he had many things he could be proud of about his life. As a Jewish man (one of God’s chosen people), he was from the family of Benjamin (one of Jacob’s 12 sons). He was a Pharisee, an expert in knowing God’s laws and obeying them. The Jews saw his zeal when he persecuted followers of Jesus because they believed Christians were blaspheming God. Other Jewish people would be very impressed with Paul’s position in life.
Let’s think about our life. What are some things you are proud of that you have done? (Allow responses) Using an example that is shared, ask does this thing that has been accomplished make Joe a better, more important Christian than others?
Let’s read Philippians 3:7-11. What did Paul call those things he once considered things to be proud of? (Garbage) What did Paul want more than being proud of his own accomplishments? (To know Christ, to be found in Him and the power of His resurrection)
Paul prized his relationship with the Lord Jesus above all things. His attitude was no longer one of pride but his attitude looked more like Jesus who humbled Himself (Philippians 2:5-8). The most important thing to Paul was knowing more about Jesus and pleasing Him.
At the beginning of class we filled in boxes of our prized possessions. We protect what we prize. If we are followers of Jesus we will protect our daily time with Him by setting aside time and giving up other things we enjoy so we can grow in our relationship with Him.
Read Philippians 3:12-14. Paul often uses running a race as a picture of the Christian’s life (Acts 20:24; 1 Corinthians 9:24; 2 Timothy 4:7). How many of you have ever run in a race? (If no one has run in a race refer to sports, music etc.) What do you need to do to prepare for the race (game, recital, etc.)? If you are intending to win the race I would guess that you would train and practice daily. You would eat foods that would strengthen your body and avoid junk food that will not make your body strong. You would place training over your other favorite activities.
In the Christian life the race begins the moment a person puts their faith in Jesus as their Savior. They admit that they are a sinner and deserve to be punished for their sins against God. They believe that Jesus died on the cross, was buried and rose again the third day to pay the price for all sin. They confess with their mouths that Jesus is Lord.
The race begins the moment a person is born again but what are they racing for? Read Philippians 3:14. This is our memory verse as well. Every believer receives the gift of eternal life the moment he/she believes in Jesus. One day when we die we will spend eternity with Jesus in heaven. With that in mind each day we should be running in such a way that we are prepared to see Jesus face to face.
A runner prepares by training his/her physical body to endure the challenges of a race. Their goal is to win the race. Even if they don’t win they still want to cross the finish line triumphantly.
Grow-Reading Bible, Praying, Obeying
A Christian prepares to cross the finish line and spend eternity with Jesus by training our spiritual lives. We do that by growing. We grow by spending time each day in God’s Word learning about who He is. We grow when we pray and see Him answer our prayers. We grow when we read and obey what He is teaching us. Just like training for a race we must make daily time with God a priority. If we think we can do it once in a while it will be easier and easier not to do it at all. We won’t realize it at first but our eyes are no longer on the prize of spending eternity with Jesus but our eyes are on the prizes this world has to offer.
Believers train for the race by serving. Every believer is commanded to go into the world and make disciples (Matthew 28:19-20). That means that every believer is commanded to share the Good News about Jesus. Every believer has also been given gifts to serve other Christians. All believers make up the Body of Christ. He is the head and each one of us has an important part of His body to do the work He has given us. He has prepared a work for each believer (Ephesians 2:10) and as you spend time daily with Him He will teach you and lead you to the place He wants you to serve.
Running in the Christian race there will be unbelievers on the side lines. When a believer shares the Good News with those on the side lines he is inviting them to join the race. As believers run the Christian race there will be other believers that are struggling in their race and need us to help them up by encouraging them to get back up and run alongside them so they can cross the finish line triumphantly too. The Christian race isn’t about pushing others down so we can beat them to the finish line. It is each of our goals to help one another finish well by using our gifts to help one another.
A runner in a long race must endure to cross the finish line. If God allows a believer to live a long life on the earth he/she must endure to cross the finish line triumphantly. Let’s do this little skit to give you an idea of what the race can look like for a believer. (Choose a student to run in place.) Sometimes the race is fun. People are cheering you on and encouraging you to keep running. (Have other students cheer/encourage) Sometimes the race is very difficult and people will try to get you to quit. You may even face very difficult challenges along the race. Enemies that have been paid to distract you and discourage you may pelt you with rocks, ‘boo’ you and try to lead you off the track. (Have students, boo, throw paper balls, etc.)
(Have the students return to their seats) In the Christian race there will be times that it is fun and encouraging. We read our Bibles and God is answering our prayers and life is good. At other times we may be facing very difficult, discouraging challenges. We read our Bibles and pray, but it seems like God isn’t hearing our prayers.
It’s easy to press on in the race when it’s going well but what do we do when the race is difficult and it is tempting to quit? This is how making a daily quiet time a priority helps you when you don’t think you can run the race anymore. When you have read God’s word when things are going well, you will remember the Words God has taught you.
Let’s read Hebrews 12:1-3. (Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who endured such hostility form sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls.)
Hebrews 10:36 “You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised.”
As you and I persevere by keeping our eyes on Jesus our prize we will cross the finish line triumphantly. As we make our relationship with Jesus our daily priority, His Holy Spirit will empower us to endure the Christian race so we can finish with joy.
Close in prayer.