This lesson plan is the first in a four-part series for children on knowing God. For more information about this curriculum and tips for teaching it, see the introduction page for Discovering the Divine.
This Bible lesson would work for either Sunday School or Children’s Church. It was written for older elementary children, but could be modified for any age group.
Bible Passage: Jeremiah 9:23-24
Bible Story Title: The Lord’s Desire for You to Know Him
Target Age Group: 4th – 5th grade
Target Time Frame: 50 minutes
Original Teaching Context: Children’s Church
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Exegetical Idea: God declares that one should not boast in earthly things, but should boast only in understanding and knowing Him.
Pedagogical Idea: God has a desire for us not to boast in earthly things, but to boast in understanding and knowing Him intimately.
Cognitive Aim: Children will know what it means to know (yada ) God and that God desires for them to know Him now.
Affective Aim: Children will feel awe that they can know God just as well as adults can know God, and they will feel joy in the knowledge that God desires them to know Him.
Behavioral Aim: Children will memorize Jeremiah 9:24, ask an adult in their life how they came to know God and how they are deepening their knowledge of God, and they will pray for God to help them know Him intimately.
Memory Verse: Jeremiah 9:24, “but let him who boasts boast of this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the LORD who exercises lovingkindness, justice, and righteousness on earth; for I delight in these things,’ declares the LORD” (ESV).
Create Longing (10 minutes) Watch a scene from Prince Caspian followed by discussion questions and a personal story. Supplies: Prince Caspian, DVD player, and television.
God Revealed (15 minutes) Read Jeremiah 9:23-24, discuss the Scripture, and learn a Hebrew word. Supplies: Bibles for every child
Personal Pursuit (15 minutes) Demonstrates the difference of knowing about God and knowing God. Supplies: Picture of celebrity
Daily Knowing (10 minutes) Memorize Jeremiah 9:24 Supplies: Cardstock hearts cut out for each child.
1. Create Longing (10 minutes)
Show Prince Caspian: Chapter 8, “What Lucy Saw”
- Question: What do you think Aslan meant when He said each year that Lucy grew, he would also grow? (As we grow in our knowledge of God, He seems to get bigger because we begin to see Him for who He really is.)
- Question: What experience have you had in growing in your view of who God really is?
Explain that when we think one way about God, we can see Him as smaller than He really is. As we begin to study the Bible and walk with Him on the journey of faith, we begin to know Him more and more. God desires for us to know Him for who He really is, not who we think He is. When we begin to pursue a true knowledge of God, it is amazing to see how big He really is!
- Share a personal story about your view of God growing bigger as a result of discovering who He really is.
2. God Revealed (15 minutes)
- State, “We are going to look in the Bible today and read a command directly from God about His desire for us to know Him. Lets all turn to Jeremiah 9:23.” (Give children time to find the passage and help the students having trouble. If some children get there quickly, ask them to help those who are having trouble*.) State, “Would one person volunteer to read verse 23 and one person read verse 24?”
Jeremiah 9:23-24: “Thus says the LORD, ‘Let not a wise man boast of his wisdom, and let not the mighty man boast of his might, let not a rich man boast of his riches; but let him who boasts boast of this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the LORD who exercises lovingkindness, justice, and righteousness on earth; for I delight in these things,’ declares the LORD” (ESV).
- After the passage has been read, ask the students for their response. You could ask, “Why would God instruct man to not boast in wisdom, strength, or riches?” (Those things will never last. Those things are based in self and human strength, which is fleeting.) “What does God say man should boast in?” (In understanding and knowing Him).
- Teach the students about the Hebrew word Yada, the word translated as “know.” This word describes an intimate knowledge, a knowledge that goes beyond an acquaintance and even beyond how well you know a sister, brother, or best friend. (The children can teach this word in their presentation to the church at the end of the series. It is a central word that will be used throughout the other lessons).
- Pray asking God to help you and the children know (yada ) God.
*Note: For students with disabilities, make sure Bibles are available to suit their disability. Make sure the students are able to follow along with the rest of the children and pay special attention to their needs. For ESL students, make sure they either have a Bible in their language or check continually to make sure they are able to understand what they are reading.
3. Personal Pursuit (15 minutes)
- Tell children you have some very important questions for them to think about. Ask them to close their eyes and think silently about the answers to your questions:
- Who do you know who knows God the best?
- Why do you think that person knows God the best?
- Do you think you can know God in the same way? (Allow children time to really ponder this)
- Do you think God wants you to know Him like this person knows Him?
Ask the children to open their eyes and tell you their thoughts. Strive for a time of deep discussion that reveals their hearts and real thoughts about their ability to know God and His desire for them to know Him. Emphasize that children can know God as adults know God, and He desires them to!
Hold up a picture of a celebrity that they all probably know (Like Hannah Montana or a Jonas brother). Ask them simple questions about the celebrity, such as, “Who is this? What do they do for a living? Do they have brothers and sisters? Do you know their favorite color? What is their favorite thing to do? What is their favorite thing to wear?” The questions should progress from obvious to difficult. Feel free to think of your own questions using your knowledge of your class. Progress to questions that they would not be able to know about the person, questions that are very personal and only the person’s closest friends and family would know.
- Question: So, is there a difference between knowing about someone and knowing someone?
They do not talk to this person every day, nor do they spend any real time with this person. They have a surface knowledge, only knowing the facts but not the person themselves. Ask the students to think of their best friends. Ask them how they became best friends and how they continue to be best friends. I would expect to get answers like they do things together on a regular basis, they talk to each other, they share secrets, etc. Explain that yada goes way beyond knowing facts about God. God becomes your best friend when you know (yada ) Him.
- Question: What do you think keeps you from knowing God intimately?
- Have a time of prayer. Ask each student to pray aloud to God askingHim to help them know Him intimately, to yada know Him, and to help them overcome the things in their lives that keep them from knowing Him intimately.
4. Daily Knowing (10 minutes)
- Tell the children that knowing God goes beyond the room you are in. They should be pursuing a knowledge of God everyday. Explain to them that part of the lessons will also include things they can carry with them outside of church, such as memorizing Scripture and tasks for them to do at home.
- Today the students are all going to memorize Jeremiah 9:24, “But let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the LORD who exercises lovingkindness, justice, and righteousness on earth; for I delight in these things,’ declares the LORD (NASB). Allow the children to make up motions to help them remember this Scripture and emphasize that memorizing God’s word is one way we get to know Him more. They can write this verse on a cardstock heart to illustrate that they are hiding God’s word in their hearts. Encourage them to place it in place where they can read it and practice it every day.
- Remind the students of the adults they thought of at the beginning of the lesson. Tell each child to go to this adult and ask them how they were able to know God so well. Encourage them to begin to purposefully seek to know God everyday through the things we did today (prayer, studying Scripture, and memorization) as well as putting into action what the adults in their life tell them.
- Explain to the children that they are going to have an opportunity to share what they learn these four weeks with the rest of the church. Go ahead and ask students what role they would like to play in the presentation, whether it is reading, telling what they learned, explaining an aspect of Scripture or the Hebrew words they learned, leading the church in a song, etc. Let them use their creativity to come up with ideas. The dynamic learner should come up in this process.