This lesson can be utilized at any time of the year because children repeatedly need to hear that God is near. It was created because my own children had seen visual representations of Jesus rising from the dead and had made assumptions that He was now gone. In their young minds, when He was lifted up, He was present in Heaven, but not on this earth; He was present with God, but not with us.
This Bible lesson challenges that misconception; encouraging children to “take heart,” knowing that God has overcome any trouble on this earth and is very present with us.
This Bible lesson was been prepared for elementary age students, but can be adapted to meet the needs of your ministry. Leave a comment below with your suggestions or new ideas for making it even better.
Learning Goal: Students will be given tools to overcome difficult situations; with the foundational knowledge that Christ has already overcome death through His resurrection. Therefore, they are not overcoming alone.
Central Bible Passage: John 16:33
Scripture: Various verses in the Old and New Testaments
Target Age Group: 1st – 5th grade
Learning Context: Sunday School
Target Time Frame: 60 minutes
Supply List: Bibles, newspapers to serve as a background for a bulletin board or object lesson (taped or pinned up), red marker, memory verse on display, puzzle piece hearts (directions below), black markers or black crayons (one for each team), tape or pushpins to hang the hearts up on the newsprint, various recylable items for a sculpture such as cardboard, bottles, cans, newspapers, books, jars, etc, rope and duct tape or a hot glue gun to adhere sculptures, “troubled” balloons blown up with individual words (or two word phrases) of the memory verse inside (on the outside of the balloon are common problems written with a sharpie: death, sickness, divorce, war, sin, bullying, feeling alone, fighting, etc.)
Directions for Puzzle Piece Hearts: Take large sheets of red poster board, tape them together, and cut out a huge heart. Then cut out 10 pieces of the heart, like puzzle pieces. On the back of each, include a scripture verse (listed below).
Bible Lesson Introduction:
If applicable, briefly review previous lessons about the death and resurrection of Christ. Ask the children what they love most about the account.
We’ve talked a lot about the death and resurrection of Jesus lately; how He died on the cross for our sins and rose again to new life. Today, Jesus is with God in Heaven and He is fully alive. But He is not gone. He is as close to us as the beating of our hearts. Even though we cannot see Him any longer, He is still present with us. He has not left us alone.
When people know they’re going to die, their last words are very important. What they say matters. What we hear from them matters. Today, let’s hear some of Jesus’ last words. They are cool. They are scary. They are incredible.
In John 16, Jesus is hanging out with His disciples. He knows He is going to die. He also knows His disciples are going to freak out! Because of this, He warns them about the future, He tells them where, when and why He is going, and He makes sure that they know that they are not alone. His disciples don’t understand then, but they will one day soon.
In verse 33, Jesus says, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
Learning Activity #1: We’ve Got Trouble
No one has to think very hard to come up with a list of troubles, right? Trouble is all around us. Jesus said that it would be. He said, “In this world you will have trouble.” There are stories of troubles written all over newspapers and troubles in all of our lives. What kind of troubles are in our world? Let’s write down as many of them as we can in one minute. If we take any longer than that, we might be in trouble! All of us will be crying and running to hide under our beds!
Have pages of the newspaper hung up as a display (as the background to a bulletin board or wall mural.) In a red marker, write down the one minute student brainstorming session. When you write the troubles, write them close together in the center of the board. When the students complete the puzzle, it will create a heart that will cover all of the trouble completely. This will serve as a visual object lesson.
Troubles could include: darkness of sin, death, tears, fears, failing, heartache, disease, pain, bullying, natural disasters like earthquakes and hurricanes, hunger, broken relationships, war, abuse, being separated from someone you love, shame, fighting, weakness, etc.
Learning Activity #2: Take Heart Puzzle
So before anyone runs away from all of these troubles, let’s hear what God has to say. He says that there will be trouble, but He also says, “Take heart!” Take heart means to be confident or courageous in a difficult situation. It means don’t freak out! Be brave! You’ve got this! Go get em! You can do this! But there’s more to it…. because Jesus says, “Take heart (because) I have overcome the world.”
You see… we don’t have to be brave alone. We aren’t fighting troubles alone. We can be courageous and tough because Jesus showed us how to be. He chose to die on that cross for our sins. He rose again three days later to prove that He can overcome ANYTHING!!!! Overcome means to win over something. If you can overcome death, you can overcome anything!!!! And we can too, with Christ.
Let’s read our memory verse together:
Memory Verse: “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world!” – John 16:33
Separate students into groups and distribute the ten puzzle pieces and a black marker or crayon to each team. If your class size is small, give multiple pieces to each team. In teams, the students will look up the references on the back of the pieces, read them, and write on the other side: I can overcome with ____________. Once each team has completed their hearts, have one person from each team selected to figure out the puzzle. Once the puzzle is completed, hang up the completed puzzle over the “trouble brainstorming session,” as a visual reminder to “Take Heart” – Christ has overcome.
As we can see, God can and will overcome troubles in our lives. Do you remember what overcome means? It means to win over something. God, because of the cross, has won over our troubles. That certainly doesn’t mean that we won’t have any more. It does mean that God will help us to get through them. What I want you to remember from today is how to “Take Heart.” Let’s learn from each other and see how we do that. Refer to the hearts posted on the board and review each of them, making additions or clarifications as necessary. .
1 John 5:4
For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith.
I CAN OVERCOME WITH FAITH.
I promise you what I promised Moses: ‘Wherever you set foot, you will be on land I have given you … No one will be able to stand against you as long as you live. For I will be with you as I was with Moses. I will not fail you or abandon you.
Be strong and courageous, for you are the one who will lead these people to possess all the land I swore to their ancestors I would give them. Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the instructions Moses gave you. Do not deviate from them, turning either to the right or to the left. Then you will be successful in everything you do. Obey this Book of Instruction continually. Meditate on it day and night so you will be sure to obey everything written in it. Only then will you prosper and succeed in all you do. This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.
I CAN OVERCOME WITH HIS PRESENCE, HIS WORD, and OBEDIENCE.
When I am afraid, I will trust in you. In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I will not be afraid. What can mortal man do to me?
I CAN OVERCOME WITH GOD and HIS WORD.
For I am the LORD, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.
I CAN OVERCOME WITH HIS HAND and HELP.
2 Timothy 1:7
For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.
I CAN OVERCOME WITH HIS POWER, LOVE, and SELF DISCIPLINE.
For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” So we may boldly say: “The LORD is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?”
I CAN OVERCOME WITH GOD BEING NEAR (HIS PRESENCE).
Some men brought to him a paralytic, lying on a mat. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Take heart, son; your sins are forgiven.”
I CAN OVERCOME WITH HIS FORGIVENESS.
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.
I CAN OVERCOME WITH HIS PEACE.
2 Corinthians 4:7:
But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.
I CAN OVERCOME WITH HIS POWER.
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.
I CAN OVERCOME WITH HIS LOVE.
Learning Activity #3: Take Heart Art
If we were to compare the bad stuff in our lives – the trouble – to something, I think we would probably compare the troubles to trash. Trash is disgusting. It gets worse the longer you keep it around. But God wants us to learn in the trouble something about Himself. He may want us to go to Him with our troubles by praying. He may want to show us His goodness in the trouble – maybe we would never know who Jesus was without the trouble. He may want us to feel the love of His people through the trouble. We really don’t know why troubles come into our lives, but we know that God is good. Because God is good, He can bring good out of the worst troubles.
Let’s work together today to create a sculpture reminding us that Jesus has overcome. Let’s take trash and recycle it to make something good out of it. Depending on teacher preference, this activity could be done individually, as a small class, or in teams of three to five. Please note that this particular activity takes longer than anticipated. Students could work for one entire class on their sculptures! Some suggestions of sculptures would be a cross, a heart, flowers, medals or a trophy, hands holding hands, etc.
Learning Activity #4: Take This, Trouble! Jesus Has Overcome! (A Memory Verse Game)
Review the memory verse before playing the game. Make sure that it is displayed for students to reference during the game.
Today we have talked about overcoming our trouble. Let’s play a game that says, “Take this Trouble!” On the outside of each of these balloons is a problem. That problem or trouble will need to be taken care of – POPPED! You will have to read the trouble and then demolish it to find the good inside – God’s word. Once each balloon is popped, work together as a team to put the memory verse together. Let’s see how quickly you can do it! I’ll be timing you. Any questions? Ready, set, go!!!! Let’s win over our troubles!!!!
Distribute “troubled” balloons around the room. Have individual words from the memory verse hidden inside (If you go with one word in each balloon, it ends up being 30 balloons – that’s a lot of hot air!!!!; you may want to put two word phrases in each one or get some help with the prepwork.). Students will need to read the outside of the balloon, pop it, find and read the word, and work together to build the entire verse. Depending on the size of your class, you could do two competing teams (each team’s balloon color would be different). Have the two teams race to see which can build the verse the fastest. Just make sure your facility allows for the noise factor on this game!
Additional Resources: Hillsong United’s “Take Heart” song.