When you think about what you want your children to learn at church, what’s the first thing that pops into your mind? We’ve all been there. With so much truth in the Bible where do we start? Why not start where the Bible starts. No, not necessarily creation, but GOD.
Who is God? What is God like? What does God do?
“The highest science, the loftiest speculation, the mightiest philosophy, which can ever engage the attention of a child of God, is the name, the nature, the person, the work, the doings, and the existence of the great God whom he calls Father.” ~ C. H. Spurgeon
Through this series of 42 lessons we’ll be introducing children to fullness of God’s character one attribute at a time. Most churched children will tell you that God created the world, or He rescues His people, or even that Jesus came to earth to rescue God’s people, but the goal of these lessons is for them to begin to know more of who He is and what it means to worship Him for who He is.
AGE GROUP: elementary (ages 6-11)
TIME REQUIRED: 45 minutes
LESSON 4: GOD IS COMPASSIONATE
- Key Verse: “But You, O Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness.” Psalm 86:15
- Teaching Passage: Jonah & the People of Ninevah – Jonah
- Supporting Texts: Exodus 34:6, Psalm 86:15, Joel 2:13, Psalm 145:9 , Psalm 51:1
Bibles, previous attribute of God posters, a large piece of paper with the words GOD IS COMPASSIONATE written on it, key verse (Psalm 86:15) printed on a piece of paper, blank paper and markers or colored pencils for each child in the group
REVIEW PREVIOUS LESSONS:
Ask one of the kids in the group to remind you what you’re learning this year. Remind them that each week we’ll be looking into the Bible to answer the question… “Can you tell me what God is like?” and will be learning one of the many truths about God that we see in His Word.
Ask if anyone can remember the 3 truths we’ve learned so far. Have the kids stand up and say the attributes of God and do the motions.
- God is Almighty= He has absolute power or is all powerful
- God is the Alpha and Omega= He is the beginning and the end, the first and the last
- God is Awesome = He inspires awe and amazement
TEACH- GOD IS COMPASSIONATE:
Get started by showing kids the page that says “God is compassionate” and ask if any of the kids in the group know what that word means, or if anyone has any guesses what it might mean.
Ask kids in the group to read the other supporting verses (listed at the top of the page) to see times in the Bible where God is seen as being compassionate and after each verse, ask if they have any more of an idea of what it might mean that God is compassionate. Explain that being compassionate means caring about the needs of others, feeling sorry for them and doing something to help them out. Tell the kids that this morning we’re going to look at a familiar story in the Bible where God showed compassion to people.
After this brief introduction, designate children to be the following characters and explain that they will act out their parts while you read the story from these verses – Jonah 1:1-3, 1:9, 1:12, 1:17, 2:1, 2:10, 3:1-3, 3;5, & 3:10.
After reading these verses, walk through the story, asking the following review questions:
- Who was the prophet that God chose to use in this story?
- Where did God send Jonah? What was he to do there?
- How did Jonah respond to God’s command to go to Nineveh with the good news? Why didn’t he want to go to Nineveh?
- Was Jonah able to hide from God on the ship?
- What did God do to get the attention of Jonah? How did God rescue Jonah?
- Once out of the fish, what did God tell Jonah to do? What was his response this time?
- How did the people of Nineveh respond to the call to repent?
- What was Jonah’s response when God had compassion on the people and forgave them?
DEFINE AND REMEMBER:
To help the kids remember this truth about God, take a few minutes to define the attribute.
COMPASSIONATE = SHOWING OR HAVING A DEEP CONCERN FOR OTHERS AND DESIRE TO MEET THEIR NEEDS
EXPLAIN: Ask….. how did God show compassion to the people of Nineveh? What need of the people did God meet? (salvation). What is our greatest need? (salvation) How has God met our greatest need? (through Jesus)
Since motions & actions help kids remember, choose an action for COMPASSIONATE. A good motion might be to hug your neighbor.
SAY: “This week’s memory verse is Psalm 86:15. This verse tells us that God has compassion for His people. The greatest example of God’s compassion is the truth that Jesus came to earth to die on the cross in the place of sinners.”
Read the memory verse (Psalm 86:15) a few times together and do the motion for awesome.
Ask the group to remind you what the message was that Jonah was to preach to the people of Nineveh (basically….God is going to destroy you because of your sinfulness). Explain that although this sounds harsh that this is the truth for every single person in the world. The Bible clearly tells us in Romans 3:23 that we are all sinners and in Romans 6:23 that our sin deserves death. Throughout the Bible, the payment for sin was always blood, as we see in the Old Testament stories of sacrifice. But, because of His great love, while we were still sinners who deserved punishment (Romans 5:8), God sent Jesus to earth to die as the perfect, spotless lamb of God (John 1:29) who would take away the sin of the world. Just like the people of Nineveh, we all deserve to be punished for our sin, but the good news is that Jesus has already taken that punishment for us. In our story this morning, when the people of Nineveh repented of their sin and turned to God, God had compassion on them and saved them. God has already shown His love and compassion for us through Jesus, but like the people of Nineveh we are still called to repent of our sin and turn to Jesus for salvation.
Give each child a blank piece of paper provide markers or colored pencils. Encourage them to write the word compassionate somewhere on the paper and then write or draw something to help them remember this attribute of God. They could write the definition for compassionate or the memory verse or they could illustrate any of the passages you read about God being compassionate. After a few minutes, bring the group back together and give kids time to share what they have drawn or written.
Pray that the kids in the group would come to know God more and more each week through this study and that they would remember that all of us are sinners who need to be saved and that they would thank God for the gift of Jesus and the gift of salvation for all who believe in Jesus.