Message to Convey: God knows what we need and it is only when we follow His lead that we get the best results for our life. What does it mean to take up our cross daily, and follow Jesus? It means that we are going to have some tough things happen in our lives but when those tough things happen, trusting God is the best way to get through any situation. When God tests us, He is never setting us up to fail. God gives us His Holy Spirit to pass every test and each test is there to make us stronger. Different from taking tests in school, God loves us so much He makes sure when we follow His lead we pass every test.
God allows difficult things to happen in our lives for different reasons. Sometimes it might be to prepare us to handle more responsibility. Other times it could be to challenge us to grow in specific areas in our lives. Other times He may want others to be encouraged by our Christ-centered response. Still at other times He may do it because we didn't follow His lead. Regardless of the reason, by faith we must believe those trials and tests are there to make us stronger. God promises that regardless of what we go through He will never give us too much to handle and He will always show us the way out. Proverbs 3:5-7 says "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding, acknowledge Him in all your ways and He will make straight your path." Being obedient shows that we love God and trust and believe He always has our back. It's simple to trust God when things are going well but can we trust God when things get tough? Responding by faith is the way we glorify God when we're tested. Let's give it a try.
2 large cans with the same contents (place a small sticker on the bottom of each can, one with #1 and 1 with #2 (size: 40 oz. can for more impact ) with plastic lids that fit securely on either end of the can (I found lids and the cans at Wal-Mart). Make sure the food item is something children really like, example: Ravioli, Spaghetti-Os, etc. Make sure to keep the original labels on each can.
*Place contents from both cans in a container to eat at another time.
1 manual can opener (I found this at the Dollar Store)
1 automatic handless can opener (I found this at Wal-Mart)
Small doggie bones/food or dried bugs, 1for each child or something that most children wouldn't want to eat (Suggested purchase location: Wal-Mart) (adjust items based on age)
1 small bag of candy or small toy, for each child (adjust items based on age)
Rolling cart or small table for your lesson
2 sheets of paper to be placed inside each of the cans (one sheet with the words typed: Obedience=rewards and the other with the words typed: Disobedience=Consequences)
2 Stickers hand written or typed with #1 on one sticker and #2 on the other sticker
Activity: Take the 2 large cans and cut the bottom out using the handless can opener. Remove the contents from both cans and make sure to place in an empty food container. Clean the cans thoroughly. Do not open both sides of the can. Type the words Obedience=rewards, in large print on one paper and Disobedience=Consequences, in large print on another paper. Hand write or type and print the #1 on one sticker and the #2 on the other sticker. Take the sheet with the words typed Obedience=rewards and fold, and place it in one of the cans. On the bottom of this can also place a sticker with the #1 on the lid for that can. Before placing the lid on the bottom of the can, include the small bag of candy or small toys and seal with the lid. Next take the sheet with the words typed Disobedience=Consequences on the other paper and fold and place in the other can. Make sure to place the sticker with the #2 on the lid of this can. In this can also place the dog bone, dried bugs or whatever you purchased that you know a child wouldn't want to eat. Make sure there is enough of each item for each of the children. When you give each this item please make sure to tell them not to eat the item you're giving them, especially if there are smaller children in the group. Now secure the plastic lid on the bottom of this can and place both cans on the demonstration table, with the lid side down. Make sure the manual can opener is placed by the can with the #1 on the lid and the handless can opener is placed by the can with the #2.
Object Lesson: Now ask youth the following question, holding up each can opener: “If you had a choice between using this (an automatic electric handless) or this (a manual) can opener which would you rather use. You can also say, "By the way, this (hold up the manual) is a lot harder to use then this (hold up the handless automatic opener), so which would you prefer?” Listen for their answers. Continue by saying, “What if God specifically told you to open the can with this can opener, (hold up the manual can opener) and you had to do it before you left for a really cool birthday party, which would you use?
Now get them involved even more by separating the children. Place them on either side of you based on their responses to the next question. Start by holding up the automatic handless can opener and say, “Who wants to use this one to open the can?" Say again, "Now remember you're rushing to get to that birthday party." That group will be placed on one side. Hold up the manual can opener and say, “Who wants to use this can opener to open the can? Tell them, "Now remember you're rushing to get to that birthday party and you really don't want to be late. However, if you use this can opener it will definitely make you late for the party." Place those youth on your other side. Invite 2 volunteers, 1 from each group to come over and open the cans. Make sure they keep the cans flat on the surface. Start with the easy automatic handless can opener first, and let them use that to open the can with the #2 sticker. Once the can is opened take the folded paper out and read the words on the paper, out loud. "Disobedience=(equals)consequences". Now say, "It may have been easier to use this can opener (hold up the automatic handless can opener) but it was not what God told you to do. He said use the manual can opener because He knows it will be better for you. You disobeyed God because you wanted to get to the party faster. When we don't do what God tells us, He is not pleased. Explain to them that there are consequences when we take short cuts and don't follow God's rules. Disobedience equals consequences. Take out the bone or whatever is in the can and you can say to them this is a consequence. By being disobedient you get something you don't like. "How many of you liked the way this turned out for you?"
Next have another youth open the other can with the #1 sticker but for this can have them use the manual can opener. You can say, "Remember God told you to use this can opener from the beginning and even though it might make you late for the party it's best to follow God's lead. Ask them questions as they are using the can opener like, "Is that tough for you?" Do you think it's fair that you have to use the harder can opener", etc.. Say to the group, "This is a lot tougher than the automatic hands free can opener right, but if God tells you to do something a certain way doing it is called, obedience. God is pleased when we are obedient and He rewards us for being faithful ". Once the can is opened take the folded paper out and hold up the paper and have the children read that sheet together, "Obedience=(equals)Rewards. Share with them the following: "Obedience always produces good things from God". He knows exactly what each of us needs and promises to give it to us at just the right time. Now show them their reward for obedience by taking the contents out of the can and give one to each child. You can say to them, "Guess what? Because you followed God's lead and didn't try to take the short cut, everyone on this side gets what God already prepared for them". Conclude with the rest of the story under Life Lesson/Wrap up.
Life Lesson/Wrap Up: Tell the children the following: Even when something looks good on the outside it doesn't mean it's good for us. When something seems really hard and God tells us to do it, remember God always gives us what we need so we can pass each test. Continue saying, "By responding in obedience to His will we show God we love Him and we want to do things that please Him". This sounds awesome but we can't do any of it on our. Instead we must rely on the power of the Holy Spirit working through us because it is only with His strength that we can do what seems impossible". "Baptism is the exciting way we receive the gift of the Holy Spirit". The Holy Spirit will guide our steps. Hey, there's even more "Good News"...even when we are disobedient God loves us so much He gives us a chance to say I am sorry. That's called repentance and when we ask for forgiveness He wipes the slate clean.
Conclude by sharing the following: A lot of times people will tell us that what God is asking us to do is too tough. They might say, "Just give up, it's not worth it! Who do you think you should listen to?. When we are obedient God does not always reward us with candy or goodies, instead He always gives us what we need, at exactly the right time. That's because He always knows what's best for us and He loves each of us with His special love.
Want to dig deeper??? Please read the following:
Luke 9: 23--25