The book of Philippians has quite a multitude of amazing truth nuggets and important elements. This lesson focuses on a passage in chapter four that reminds us of the best ways to live our lives and maintain contentment.
Lesson Objective and Observation: Students will experience various spots of the passage, responding to each with words, pictures, or actions. Students will discuss worries and thought thieves, and come up with methods of remaining thankful through all things. Students will finish with a craft decoration to recall the Bible verse.
Passage: Philippians 4:4-13
Target Audience: K-6th Grade (adaptable)
Materials Needed: Dark construction paper; colorful construction/scrapbook paper, cut into strips; pictures; markers; scissors; glue; string; sweet n’ sour candies.
Lesson Opening: Start with a little reminder introduction to Paul’s life and writings. Tie students (a couple of volunteers or the whole group) with string (gently!) so that their fingers are free, but it is constricting to use hands. Hand each person a paper and pen, and ask them to write a list of things they are thankful for. It might be somewhat difficult to write while tied up…is it? If students agree, go back to the character of Paul. Describe a bit about his life, if students are not familiar with the story… he was beaten repeatedly….five times whipped with “39 lashes”, three times beaten with rods, and stoned and left for dead once. He was shipwrecked three times, and went without food or water. He once had to escape town through a window because people were after him. He was put on trial, put in prison, and suffered a chronic malady that stuck with him. Oh, this is just the beginning! Well, while he was still in prison, he wrote a good bit of our New Testament, sending out letters to churches he had visited. Today we will be talking about one of those letters: Philippians. Most of this passage is quite joyful, in spite of the circumstances in which it was written. We are going to talk about what we can do to achieve joy and peace.
Remind students of the circumstances of Paul’s life (again), but explain that he still had positive messages to share. What do you do when you are in a tough situation? Invite students to share ideas, and then have them read (or read to them) the first couple verses:
Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5 Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. -Philippians 4:4-7
So what is the prescription for hard things? Prayer! Note, though, that Paul emphasizes prayer with thanksgiving… Hand each student a sour candy. Is it tasty or too tart? Does it make kids pucker up, or smile… or both? Talk about how some sour things become sweet when we wait, or if we look at them and enjoy them the right way. Well, when we have a positive and thankful attitude, we can develop a happy and peaceful mindset. And how can we think this way?
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. 9 Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you. -Philippians 4:8-9
What do we think about the most? What do we worry about the most? Have students write down a couple of lists on a piece of paper…one side of the paper will be for “things I think about or imagine.” The other side will be a list of “things that I worry about.” Invite students to share only if desired. Then talk about what Paul here commands us to think about. Things that are good, excellent, lovely, praiseworthy, pure….how can we make sure we are training our brains to think of those positive things? It isn’t easy, and often does not come natural. But some things are not too easy! Read the next passage:
I rejoiced greatly in the Lord that at last you renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you were concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it.11 I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength. Philippians 4:10-13
Paul says he can do all things through Christ. What are some things that seem impossible? Offer some examples of world records, describing how extraordinary they seem….
- Two men in Vietnam set a record by climbing ninety stairs with one person stacked on the other’s head!
- A Canadian man pulled an airplane weighing more than 400,000 pounds!
- A man in New York made a 60-layer sandwich! (did he eat it, though???)
Anyway, these feats might seem impossible (or ridiculous!), but people did them…sometimes we think things are impossible or worrisome, but nothing is impossible with God’s help. Note also that Paul is content because he is thankful. No matter what happens, he knows God is with him. We can remember the same thing. Life gets rough sometimes…but God is always there to give us hope and strength!
Have students create a hanging decoration to display at home as a reminder of what to set minds on. Drawing vines, and using finger prints as little grapes
- Fold a long dark construction paper into eight segments.
- Give or have students select strips of the decorative paper, and on them write the words to the verse. Encourage them to add pictures, too.
- Glue the verse to the larger paper, and attach a string to hang it in a prominent spot.
Closing questions: wrap things up with a few questions to evaluate how students have soaked in the lesson…Ask probing questions to see what kids remember. Such as….
- Who was Paul’s letter to? Why did he write it?
- How can we get rid of worries?
- How do you eliminate negative thoughts?
- What does it mean to be content?
Close with prayer and ask the Lord to help us take our thoughts captive for Him.