When we are obedient to God’s commands, we can count on his order, provision, and protection. In “After the Manger,” children will learn about the events that took place after Jesus’ birth and how those events teach us to boldly obey God. Even among opposition we can have the confidence that the Lord is near because he provides exactly what we need to follow him.
From Pastor Ken Gray’s sermon entitled, “Beyond the Manger.” (December 27, 2015)
Transcribed for Sunday school with permission.
TARGET AGES: 10-14
OBJECTIVE: The children will learn how God’s order, provision, and protection enables believers to fulfill his will even when confronted by obstacles.
MAIN IDEA: Being a follower of Jesus is tough in a sinful world. However, we will experience God’s loving order, provision, and protection when we follow the Wise men’s example of perseverant obedience.
SCRIPTURE PASSAGES: Matthew 2:1-10, Psalm 37:23-24, Matthew 2:11, Philippians 4:19, Matthew 2:12-15, Philippians 2:12-13
MATERIAL(S): white board, scissors, glue sticks, “My Dream Trip” worksheets (download), index cards, game cards and tape
As Children Arrive/Introduction (10 minutes)
ICE BREAKER PROJECT: Pass out the, “My Dream Trip” worksheets (attachment) along with the scissors and glue sticks. Allow the children to work independently or with a partner as they identify methods of planning (order), having needs (provision), and taking safety measures (protection) while on a trip.
OPENING PRAYER: “God, thank you for your order, provision, and protection. Show us through today’s lesson that our obedience brings your guidance. Amen.”
Lesson (15 minutes)
PREPARATION: Write each scripture on an index card (consider splitting longer passages into several parts) and divide the cards among the children. Ask them to look up their scriptures and be ready to read as the lesson progresses.
- Say, “Today we will evaluate the Wise men’s obedience as they searched for Jesus and how God’s purposes were carried out in spite of the world’s distractions.” Read Matthew 2:1-10 and Psalm 37:23-24. Emphasize that God orders the path of those who obey him. Comment, “The Wise men boldly searched for Jesus and dedicated themselves to a long journey (up to two years) to find Jesus. What are some ways God ‘ordered’ their steps on the journey (gave them a star to follow, led them to Jerusalem and then Bethlehem, etc)?” Talk about a time in your own life when God ordered your path and you had to persevere to receive what he had in store. Say, “God cares about the details of our lives, so we can trust that he will equip us for any paths he wants us to take.”
- Next, read Matthew 2:11. Ask, “How did God provide for Joseph, Mary, and Jesus (through the Wise men’s gifts)? These gifts were very costly in Jesus’ day.” Briefly discuss the meaning behind each gift: gold represents kingship, frankincense was a fragrant spice used during worship, and myrrh was a spice used for burial. Explain how these gifts were a perfect depiction of Jesus’ life and also provided the physical means for what was to come. Say, “God supplied provision for Jesus’ family through the Wise men’s gifts, and he will also provide whatever we need.” Read Philippians 4:19. Explain that God’s endless “riches” will be given to meet our needs because it gives “glory [through] Christ Jesus.”
- As an example of God’s protection over his followers, read Matthew 2:12-15. Ask, “Why did the Wise men take a different route home (because they were warned in a dream not to return to Herod)? Who told Joseph to take his family and escape to Egypt (an angel of the Lord)?” Reiterate that God can certainly speak to us through dreams and angels, but more often protection is extended through our simple obedience to God’s commands (e.g. “[loving] one another” will keep us from the consequences of stealing). Ask, “What could have happened if the Wise men or Joseph didn’t listen to God’s guidance (they could have been harmed)? So, what should we do if we want God’s protection (be obedient to his word and unique callings on our lives)?” Lastly, read Philippians 2:12-13. Emphasize that each believer must “work out [their] salvation,” or figure out God’s unique plan for their life. Add that ways we do this include reading our bibles and praying every day, serving others, being faithful to church, choosing obedience, and trusting God when things don’t go our way.
“Order, Provision, Protection” Game: (15 minutes)
Come up with at least three biblical or real-life examples of God’s order, provision, and protection (some suggestions are included below). Write or type/print each example twice on a sheet of paper with different colors of markers, once on the top and once on the bottom. Then cut each paper in half to form two sets of examples. Next, write headings on the white board that say, “Order,” “Provision,” and “Protection” (leave ample room below each heading). Say, “We are going to form two teams and see which team can put the cards in the right place the fastest.” Explain to the class that one person from each team will pick a card, tape it under the desired heading (with help from his/her team), and then it will be the next person’s turn. Once all the cards are placed, assist the teams by identifying any misplaced cards. Then review the cards and headings together as a class. Comment, “There are many examples of God’s order, provision, and protection in the bible and all around us. All we need to do is look for evidences of his presence.”
– The animals came two-by-two to Noah’s ark. (Genesis 6:20)
– The sun rises and sets each day.
– God restored Job’s possessions and gave him twice as much as before. (Job 42:10)
– A car is given to a needy family.
– God shut the mouths of the lions when Daniel was in the lion’s den. (Daniel 6:22)
– Peter’s chains were broken and he was lead to freedom by an angel. (Acts 12:7)
Conclusion (5 minutes)
RECAP: Choosing obedience to God, even among difficulty, means we can count on his order, provision, and protection.
CLOSING PRAYER: “Lord, help us make good decisions even when we’re surrounded by sin. We want our lives to point others to you. Amen.”