The Lord saves us and wants us to be thankful for His blessings. Includes a teaching guide, 2 games, and a craft.
Needed: drawing paper, crayons or colored pencils, soft play pall
Intro Game: Thanks Toss
Students stand in a circle and randomly toss a ball back and forth. Whenever someone catches the ball, they have to name one thing they’re thankful for, but it can’t be anything anyone else has said.
Ask students, Have you ever just had a bad day, when it seemed like nothing was going right for you?
What should you do on a day like that? Should you complain about things and get all grumpy? What should you do?
One thing you can do when you’re having a bad day is to think about all the good things you have in your life and thank God for those good things. Then, maybe that will help you to stop thinking about the couple of bad things that are happening that day.
Today, we’re going to learn about a group of people who just liked to complain.
(Summarize Numbers 21 , asking the included questions as you read.)
One day, when Moses and the Israelites were walking in the desert…
Why are Moses and the Israelites walking in the desert? Can anyone tell me?
The Israelites were slaves in Egypt, but God used Moses to rescue the Israelites from slavery. They were walking through the desert to their new home in Canaan, but when the people got to Canaan, they were afraid to go attack the people living there and take over, even though God had told the people that He would help them. So, to punish the people for not trusting Him to help them, God told them that they could not go live in Canaan. They had to wait until every adult at that time had died and then God would take their children into Canaan to live there. So, now in our story, the Israelites still have to live in the desert until all those adults who didn’t trust God to help them are dead.
So one day, when Moses and the Israelites were walking in the desert, the people started to complain. “Why did you bring us out of slavery in Egypt just to make us walk around in the desert?” they said. “There’s no food here, there’s no water, and we’re sick and tired of this manna bread that God keeps giving us to eat!”
Do you think the people should be complaining about things like that?
Which do you think would be better, to have to work all day as a slave or to live in the desert? Living in the desert would be much better than being a slave, but the people are complaining that they’re not still slaves in Egypt!
What would have happened if the people had trusted God and gone in to attack the Canaanites and taken over their land? The people would be living in their new homes by now instead of living in the desert. So, the people created their own problems by not trusting in God.
But did you notice what God was still doing for the Israelites? (He was still giving them manna bread to eat every day.)
Did God have to give them food? (No, He could have let them starve and die in the desert, but instead, God loved the people and took care of them by giving them the manna bread.)
So, because the Israelites were complaining and not being grateful to God for rescuing them from slavery in Egypt or for giving them the manna bread every day, God decided to punish them. He sent poisonous snakes to slither in among the complaining Israelites and bite them. Many of the people died from the snake bites. Then, the people and said to Moses, “We’re sorry for complaining against God. Please pray for us so that God will take the snakes away.”
Do you think it was good for the people to say they were sorry for complaining? (Yes, they did the right thing by saying they were sorry. God always wants us to admit what wrong things we did and say that we’re sorry for them.)
Then, Moses prayed and God told him, “Make a snake out of metal and put it high up on a pole. Then, when a snake bites someone, that person can look up at the snake, and I will heal them from their snakebite so that they won’t die.”
Do you think it’s nice that God said He would heal the people from their snakebites?
The people said they were sorry for complaining, so God forgave them and gave them a way to be saved from the snakes.
God gives us a way to be saved, too, doesn’t He? How can we be saved when we do wrong things?
God says that if we believe in Jesus and ask God to forgive us for the wrong things that we’ve done, then He will forgive us and save us from going to Hell when we die. All we have to do is look up to Jesus, who died on the cross for us.
Game: Complaining Communication
The leader starts off telling a fictitious story about something bad that happened. The students’ goal is to then think about all the good things that might have happened afterward.
An example might be, “I went to the fair the other day and dropped my ice cream cone.”
The students could then add, “But the ice cream vendor saw what happened and gave me a new ice cream cone for free. Then, someone stole a lady’s purse, but the thief slipped on my spilled ice cream, and the police caught him. One of the people who saw it was an old friend of one of the police officers. They hadn’t seen each other in years, but when the person saw the police officer arresting the thief, they gave each other their phone numbers. Another person…”
Let kids be imaginative as possible and ask them questions to prompt their creativity. The only point of the game is to think of how good things outweigh the negative in most situations.
Craft: Thank You Letter to God
Ask kids to write or draw a thank you letter to God for all the blessings He’s given them. Direct them to remember to include Jesus dying on the cross for us.
Father, we thank You for all the good things You’ve given us in our life. Help us to be grateful and not complain. We especially thank You for sending Jesus to die on the cross for us so that we could be forgiven for our sins. Amen.
This lesson is included in my book, Slaves to Conquerors: Children’s Sunday School Lessons for Exodus – Joshua.