Object Lessons from Maurice Sweetsur

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Object Lessons 21 - 40.

Object Lessons 21 - 40.

21. The Trinity.

There are many ways of explaining the trinity to children, but the one I like the best is very visual, and involves the use of food colouring.

If you ask at a cake shop, they should be able to tell you where to obtain food colouring in powder form. This comes in a variety of colours.

Stick small pieces of double-sided sticky tape to the inside bottoms of three glasses. Choose three suitable colours, and place a little on each tape. These food colourings are very concentrated, so only very small amounts are required, and are consequently unlikely to be noticed by the children. However, you will probably need to determine by trial and error the best way to do this preparation.

Show a jar of clear water. State "There is one God, represented by the water in this jar, who is made up of three different Persons - Father, Son and Holy Spirit." As you are talking, pour some water into your three glasses to produce the three different colours.

Depending on your group, you could then go on to discuss the different aspects of the three Persons of the trinity in more detail.

A similar illustration could be used if you are teaching about the "water into wine."

22. Miracles.

Here is a simple illustration to demonstrate that with God "All things are possible."

Preparation. Take a piece of cardboard ( about 40x40cm. ) and cut out a round disc (about 15cm. diameter) from the centre. Retain both pieces. Find a solid disc (an ordinary plate is ideal) a little larger than your cardboard disc e.g. about 20cm. diameter.

Presentation. "Sometimes we find that we just cannot do certain things. But we need to remember that God can do absolutely anything. With Him nothing is impossible." Hold up your cardboard sheet and disc. Explain that the disc is just small enough to pass through the hole. Pass the disc through the hole a few times in different ways e.g. face on and side on.

State that if the disc were any larger, it would be "impossible" to pass it through the hole. Your class should agree. Produce your larger disc and pretend to attempt to pass it through the hole in different ways as before. Remind your class that what is impossible for us is possible for God, and state that you are now going to demonstrate that by passing the larger disc through the small hole.

Fold your sheet in half, and place your larger disc inside so that the top protrudes through the hole. Grasp this part of the disc with one hand, and with the other pull down on the side of your sheet - this actually stretches the hole - A gentle tug on your disc will ensure that it passes through the hole without tearing it in any way. You may wish to repeat the operation a few times.

23. Standing up under pressure.

When things are going well, it is sometimes hard to tell the difference between the person who is trusting in Jesus, and the one who is not. However, when pressure - hardships, troubles, problems etc. - comes upon us, the person who knows Jesus is able to keep standing, whereas the person without Christ often crumples or "goes under."

Preparation. Take two plastic pen tops (Preferably different colours). Attach one or two plastic paper clips to the first top. To make the second top heavier than the first, attach one or two metal paper clips. Take about a two litre plastic clear bottle, and fill about 90% full with water. Drop the two plastic tops (with attached clips) into the water. They should both float. Screw the top on the bottle, and apply pressure to the bottle by squeezing it. A little "trial and error" may be required here. You may need to adjust your tops by adding or subtracting clips to ensure that when pressure is applied, the first top continues to float, whilst the second always sinks, or "goes under." When you release the pressure, the submerged top should rise to the surface again.

Presentation. You can make this as long or as short as you wish. Explain that the two same-sized tops represent two people, one who is trusting in Christ, and one who isn't. When things go well (no pressure to the bottle), there is no difference - the tops both float. However, when pressure comes, one continues to float, but the other goes under. Repeat the pressure-on / pressure-off process a few times.

24. Defeating evil with good.

The Bible tells us that we are to defeat evil with good. (Romans 12.21). Here is a good object lesson to illustrate that point.

Preparation. Take a thin piece of wood (about 40cm. x 10cm.), and write on it the word "EVIL." Take 3 or 4 sheets of newspaper, and write on one of them the word "GOOD."

Presentation. Ask your class "Which do you think is stronger "Evil" or "Good" ? You will probably get a mixed response.

Proceed along these lines. "With so much evil in the world, it may sometimes appear as though evil is stronger than good, but God tells us that we are to defeat evil, not with evil, but with good. This piece of wood stands for evil, and it certainly looks strong ( bang it on a table a few times ). These flimsy pieces of newspaper stand for good but, as you know, they could easily tear. However, we shall now find out which is the stronger - the wood or the paper, evil or good."

Lay the piece of wood on a table or desk, overhanging the edge about 15cm. Place the pieces of newspaper fairly tightly over the wood, with the piece marked "GOOD" on the very top. As you do so, you could retell the story of Calvary i.e. " I am sure that when Jesus was arrested, beaten and crucified, the forces of evil were jumping for joy. They thought they had beaten "Good" for ever. But they were in for a shock, because on the third day Jesus rose from the dead, proving the reverse - that He was stronger than evil."

Tell the class that you are now going to hit the wood and paper hard with the side of your hand. "Which will break - the flimsy paper ? - the hard wood ? (or perhaps your hand! ?). Do this, hitting the wood and paper just past the "overhang." You will find that the wood will break and the paper will remain intact, reminding us that "Good" is stronger than "Evil."

Conclusion. "Good, therefore, can defeat evil. This means for us that if someone is nasty to us, we can defeat this by being good to them in return. This can often be a hard thing to do, but if we persist in doing good, we will usually find that they will start being good to us as well.

25. Jesus is the light of the world.

You should be able to obtain some "trick" birthday cake candles - i.e. the ones that appear to be extinguished when they are blown, but after a few seconds flame up again.

With one of these candles you can summarise the history of the church. For example :-

Jesus came as the light of the world (lite candle), but Satan used wicked men to try and put out this light by crucifying Him (blow out). However on the third day He came alive again (flame rekindled). Jesus has now passed this light on to the church. Over the centuries Satan has continued trying to put out this light by persecuting the church. At times he seemed to have succeeded (blow out), but each time this light returned brighter than ever (rekindle).

26. God is all knowing.

Here are five simple ways in which you can help children remember that God is all-knowing.

1. Take four pieces (you could use more if you wish) of differently coloured cardboard - e.g. Yellow, red, blue and green. On the back of the yellow card write "You will pick up the yellow card." Write on three small pieces of paper "You will pick up the red card ----------------- blue card. ------------------green card." Place these papers out of sight, but in easily accessible positions e.g. inside a plain envelope which is in full view of the class, inside the front cover of your Bible, etc.

Place the four coloured cards in full view of the class, and ask for a volunteer to come and pick up one of the cards - stating that you know beforehand which one they are going to choose. If the yellow card is chosen, ask your volunteer to pick it up and turn it over - showing the words "You will pick up the yellow card." They will probably think that the other three cards have a similar message written on the back. Show the class that this is not the case !

If your volunteer picks up one of the other cards, direct him/her to the appropriate piece of paper in the envelope, Bible etc.

Conclude by stating that what you did was a trick (without revealing how it was actually done), but that our God really does know everything - even the future !

2. This illustration has been around for at least 50 years, but most children are still baffled by it.

Write out the number "1089 " on a piece of paper, and seal it in an envelope. Ask a child to look after it for you, and to be ready to open it at the end of your illustration.

Ask for a volunteer to come and do a maths calculation on the blackboard for you. State that although the numbers will be chosen by your volunteer, you have already placed the answer to their calculation in the envelope.

Ask your volunteer to - 1. Write any three digit number on the board. 2. Write the same number reversed under the first number. 3. Subtract the lesser number from the greater. 4.Reverse the answer obtained. 5. Add the last two numbers. Your final answer will always be 1089.

Here is an example : -
Try a few calculations yourself, just to be completely convinced !

3. This next illustration is similar to the last one, but it has the advantage that all your class can do their own calculations. It does, however, involve a little more complicated maths, so it is better used with older children. HINT. If you give your answer to a child, and they reply "No. You are wrong" , don't worry, it will be because the child has made a mistake with their maths !

Ask each child to do the following calculation (out of your sight, of course) :-

1. Write down the age of one of their brothers or sisters ( a cousin or friend will suffice if they have no siblings ). 2. Multiply this number by two. 3. Add on five. 4. Multiply the answer by fifty. 5. Subtract the number of days in a year (365). 6. Add the number of times they have flown on an aeroplane ( or use any other question that will produce a reasonably low answer e.g. total number of brothers and sisters). 7. Add on one hundred and fifteen.

Get the children to show you their answers. They will probably all be different, but you will be able to instantly tell them the number of times they have been on a plane - from the last two digits, and the age of their brother or sister - from the remaining number or numbers. (i.e. first one or two digits).

Here is an example for someone with a twelve year old brother, and who has been on a plane three times :-


4. Another variation on the same theme, but this one has the advantage that you are not dependent on a child getting their maths right !

Write the number "34" on a piece of paper, place in envelope, and hand to child for safekeeping. Draw a square grid on the blackboard containing sixteen squares (4x4). Simply fill in the grid with the numbers 1 to 16 in their normal order i.e. "1" will be in the top left hand corner, and "16" in the bottom right.

Ask a child to come and choose four numbers for you that you will then be able to add up. State that you already know their final answer - which is contained in the envelope.

1. Get the child to choose any number by putting a circle round it. Explain that for their next choice, they will still have plenty of numbers to choose from, but that you are going to reduce their options a little. Cross out all the other numbers on the same row and column as the circled number (i.e. six in all).
2. Get the child to choose a second number from those remaining. Cross out the remaining numbers on that row and column as before (four in total).
3. There will be four numbers left. Get the child to choose any one. Cross out the two numbers on that row and column.
4. There is now only one number left. That will have to be their final choice.

Add up the four chosen numbers. The answer will be 34. Time to open the envelope !

5. Nothing is hidden from God. He sees through everything. (Hebrews 4.13).

Place twenty small identical objects (e.g. matches or counters) on a table. Tell a volunteer that while your back is turned, he/she will be able to pick up and hide two separate lots of the objects and hide them in a pocket and in a closed hand. However, you will then be able to tell them exactly how many objects are in their pocket and hand respectively.

1.While your back is turned, instruct your volunteer to pick up any number of objects between 1 and 10, and place them in their pocket.
2. Next, ask your volunteer to count (silently) how many objects are left. It will be a two-digit number. Ask him to add the two digits together, pick up that number of objects and add them to the pile in his pocket. (Note. You will be able to calculate that, no matter how many objects your volunteer first picked up, he will now have eleven in his pocket - leaving nine on the table).
3. Instruct your volunteer to pick up as many of the remaining objects he wishes, and hold them in his closed hand.
4. Turn around. Count the number of objects left on the table (Lets call this "x"). Inform the class that your volunteer has eleven objects in his pocket, and nine minus "x" objects in his hand ! (e.g. if there are three objects on the table, he must have nine minus three = six objects in his hand).

27. Needle through a balloon.
Punctuating an inflated balloon with a pin or needle, without it bursting, will always fascinate children. There are two ways you can achieve this :- 1. Place a small piece if clear sticking tape on the inflated balloon. You can then pierce this without the balloon bursting. 2. Pierce the balloon where the rubber is thickest i.e. near the hole and at the opposite end. In fact, by using these two locations, you should be able to pass your needle right through the balloon. Hints. Don't inflate the balloon too much. Use a sharp needle. Smear a little grease on the end of your needle.
I have used this illustration in two ways. You may be able to think of others.
1. Miracles. State that normally when you prick a balloon with a needle it will burst - Give an illustration. (If appropriate you could tell the children why it bursts, by talking about air pressure, rapid flow of air to the hole etc.). State that God can overcome or suspend the natural physical laws of the Universe. He can do miracles. Proceed with your demonstration.
2. Sharing your testimony. Inflate about four or five balloons, and write on them things which you (or others) once thought would give lasting satisfaction e.g. Sport, Job, Money, etc. On the last one write "Jesus." Keep the balloons (or at least the words) out of sight until required. Produce the balloons one at a time, and talk about how you once thought that Sport etc. would really satisfy you for life, but that in the end you found it wasn't really what you were searching for. It let you down. Burst the balloon with your pin or needle. Proceed until you are left with the "Jesus" balloon. Explain that this is what you have always been searching for, and that you have found that He will never let you down. Prick the balloon in the appropriate place to demonstrate!

28. God's Provision.
There are numerous examples in nature that can help children understand the wonderful provision of God for all of His creation. You can take along to your class such things as flowers, insects and pets, and by showing how God meets all their needs, show how He will also meet all our needs. I usually take along a few dandelions, including one which is ready to shed its seeds, and proceed as follows :-
Most people think of these flowers as weeds, but did you know that God provides for each plant everything it needs to survive, grow well, and produce more dandelions?
Petals. You probably think you are looking at just one flower, but actually what you can see is about a hundred flowers bunched together. Each single petal is a complete flower, capable of producing a perfect seed, to enable another dandelion to grow.
Stem. Now let's look at the stem of the dandelion. As I break it in two, you can see that it is hollow - just like a straw. This means that the stem is very light and flexible. When heavy rain or wind comes, the stem will bend over, but then will be able to spring up again afterwards. If the stem was solid, it would break in the heavy rain or wind.
Leaves. We will now look at the leaves. They appear to be pretty crude and ugly, but actually all these jagged edges, channels and grooves are ideal for collecting rain water and sending it down to the root where it is needed to help the dandelion to grow.
Root. Look how long and strong this root is. It is ideal for holding the dandelion in place when the bad weather comes, and preventing it from being blown away.
Seed head. Let us now examine this dandelion which is ready to shed its seeds. If you look closely at the seed heads, you will see that they are all like tiny parachutes. This means that when a breeze comes, they don't all fall off the parent plant in the same small area and thus have to compete with each other for the same patch of earth to grow in. No, because of the way God has designed them, they are able to float long distances in the breeze, and thus have a much better chance of surviving and growing into other dandelions.
Seed. If you looked at a seed under the microscope, you would see that it is shaped like a screw. This means that after its "parachute" has carried it to a patch of earth, it is able to plant itself by screwing into the ground, thus again giving it a better chance to survive and grow.
As we have seen, God loves each little dandelion so much that He has given it everything it needs to grow well and produce more dandelions. Hands up everyone who thinks that God loves us as much as He does dandelions? (Probably most of the children will raise their hands). Those who have raised their hands are wrong. The Bible teaches that God loves each of us far, far, more than dandelions, or indeed any other of His creations. But if He gives each dandelion everything it needs, how much more will He give to us everything we need!
29. A Memory Feat.

Adam was created perfect with a wonderful mind and memory. He had to name all the many different animals that God brought before him, and then would have had to remember all their names. To illustrate this you can then amaze your class by doing your own memory feat.

Have fifty cards, blank on one side and numbered from 1 to 50 on the other. On the same side write , apparently random, six-digit numbers across their centres. State that you are going to memorise all fifty of these six-digit numbers. Flick through the cards as you pretend to memorise them, give them a good shuffle, turn the blank sides upwards and offer the pack to about six volunteers who will each choose a card. One at a time, ask your volunteers to tell you the number of their card (i.e. between 1 and 50), and as they do so write on the board the six-digit number associated with that card! You will achieve a 100 percent success rate!

You will have probably realised by now that you don't really memorise the numbers, rather you calculate them from the card number you are given. This is how you do it :-

To the number you are given (i.e. between 1 and 50), add eleven. Reverse this two-digit number. This will be the first two numbers you write on the board. Add these two numbers together to give your third number. However, if this is a two-digit number, ignore the first digit (i.e. "1") and write down the second. Proceed in this way, adding your last two digits together, until you have written down all six digits. Ask your volunteer to confirm this is the number they have on their card. A few of examples will make this clear :-

Card No. 15. Six-digit No. will be 628088.
Card No. 16 Six-digit No. will be 729101.
Card No. 17 Six-digit No. will be 820224.

As can be seen, even card numbers that are close to each other will produce completely different six-digit numbers.

30. The Trinity.

Here is a two-part illusion to illustrate your teaching on the Trinity.

Produce three ropes of equal length (about 80 cm. is ideal). State that these represent the three Persons of the Godhead - Father, Son and Holy Spirit. "The first thing to notice is that the ropes are of equal length, reminding us that the three Persons are all equal."

State that you are now going to bring the bottoms of the ropes up to the top, and tie them into three loops. Holding the ropes near their tops together in one hand, one at a time bring the bottom of each rope up to the top, and tie it to the top of a different rope. (To ensure that I don't make a mistake at this point, I mark beforehand a spot with a pen on the top and bottom of the middle rope. I then tie the bottom of the outside rope with the top of the first, followed in turn by the other two ropes, ensuring that I don't tie the "spot" ends together).

"It appears that I now have three loops, but that is not really true." Release the ropes to show that you now have one large loop tied in three places - reminding your class that there is one God comprising three Persons.

Now for the "fun" part of your illusion. Put your rope away in your bag, but immediately bring out a similar looking rope. This second rope (which your class should think is still your first three-part loop) is actually one long piece of rope - of total length just less than that of your three original ropes combined (i.e. about 220 cm) - tied to form a loop, and with two small lengths of rope tied around two small loops in your longer rope at the appropriate places to give the appearance of knots.

Tell the class that they are probably thinking that this loop is three pieces of rope tied together, but that actually it is now just one long piece of rope. Untie the (genuine) knot to demonstrate. The class will not look two impressed, because the other two "knots" are still there. State that these are only two small lengths of rope, and that you can easily remove them. Pull the two ends of your rope (or get two volunteers to do it), and the small ropes will "pop" off, leaving only one long piece of rope!

You may ask "won't the children realise that you have swapped the ropes?" Well, in my experience, they never have.

31. Discovering your gifts.

God has given us all many different gifts, talents and abilities. Here is a lesson to help children understand about discovering those gifts.

The ink that comes from a felt tip pen will appear to be just one color, but in fact it will probably be a mixture of different colors. This is how to discover those different colors (c.f. discovering our different gifts). Choose four or five different colored felt tip pens. It is best to use fairly dark colors and fairly cheap pens as these will contain more impurities (i.e. colors). Take a strip of white tissue paper (e.g. 15cm. x 8cm.) and make a line of dots with your different pens about 3cm. from the bottom. Hang your paper over the edge of a glass containing about 2 cm. of water, so that the bottom of the paper is in the water and the dots are about 1cm. above the water level. The water will begin to move up the tissue, and when it reaches the dots, capillary action will cause the hidden colors to travel up the paper at different rates.

After a few minutes, although there will probably be some "smearing", you should clearly be able to see three or four distinct colors originating from each dot.

"The Bible tells us that God has given each of us different gifts to use (Romans 12 v. 6). One of the most exciting things about growing up is to discover what special gifts, talents and abilities you have and then to use them to serve God.

I have made four colored dots on this tissue paper from these four differently colored pens. Although each dot looks as though it is made up of just a single color, actually there are a number of hidden colors hidden within each dot - as we shall now discover as I place the paper in a glass of water.

That is like you. You may think that you are only good at one thing, perhaps running, music, reading, drawing etc. When you get older you will find other gifts that God has already placed in you. Some of you may find that you have a gift for teaching, or for looking after small children. Others may discover they have a gift for writing or telling others about Jesus. Some of you may be good at making friends, listening to others, helping people in need, or giving to the poor. Some may find they are good at encouraging people, hospitality, or looking after the sick.

All these gifts, and many more, can be used to serve God. Jesus actually told us that when we are doing good to others, we are actually doing good to Him. (Matthew 25 v. 40). So discover which gifts God has given you. Concentrate on doing what you are good at, and use your abilities to serve God, because there is nothing more important or wonderful than that."

32. Facing trials and troubles.

Children particularly enjoy any lessons involving fire, water or balloons. The following object lesson involves all three, so should be a big hit!

Everyone faces trials and troubles at sometime in their life, but if we have put our trust in Jesus then He has promised to always be with us and help us through all our troubles.

1. Light a candle - the flame represents our trials and troubles.
2. Produce an inflated balloon - this represents the person who doesn't have Jesus in their life, and is therefore facing the trouble on their own. Let's see what happens when I put the balloon over the flame - BANG.
3. Produce an inflated balloon about one third full of water - this represents the person who has Jesus in their life (c.f. the water). Let's see what happens when I put this balloon over the flame - THE BALLOON IS UNHARMED.

Although both balloons faced the same trial (i.e. flame), the second one came through unharmed - because the water took away the heat before it could do any damage. In much the same way, Jesus is able to see us through our trials and troubles unharmed.

33. Can we trust our senses?

Sometimes our natural senses - sight, hearing, smell, touch and taste - let us down. However, there is one thing that will never let us down, one thing that is totally reliable - God's Word, the Bible.

Try out these hearing and eyesight tests on your class to show them that their senses are unreliable.

1. How many of each type of animal did Moses take onto the Ark?
(None. It was Noah who had the Ark).

2. You are the driver of a train. There are 30 passengers on board. At the first station, 10 passengers get off. At the second station, 5 passengers get on. What is the name of the train driver?
(You will probably have to repeat the question, using the right emphasis "You are the driver of a train - - - - ").

3. It is noon. You look at your watch, the little hand is pointing to 3, and the big hand is pointing to 6. What time is it?
(Noon. If your little hand is pointing to 3, and your big hand to 6, your watch must have stopped!).

4. Let's all spell out the word S. T. O. P. together. Then I will ask you a simple question that you have to answer immediately. S. T. O. P. spells STOP. What do you do when you come to a green light?

5. Let's all spell out the word S. I. L. K. together. Then I will ask you a simple question that you have to answer immediately. S. I. L. K. spells SILK. What do cow's drink?

6. Write out the following two sets of words on triangular pieces of paper or cardboard as shown. Show each sentence to your class, and ask them to study it carefully. After about 15 seconds, put the paper away and ask them what it said. Most will get it wrong, missing out a "The" and an "A" respectively.

In The
The Bush

In A
A Lifetime

34. The seriousness of sin.

Many children tend to categorise sin into big sins (e.g. murder) and little sins (e.g. a lie). Here are two illustrations you could use to help them understand that in God's sight all sin is serious.

a. Hold in one hand a crumpled piece of paper, and in the other a small but heavy object (e.g. a battery). Tell the children that the paper represents what many people think of as "little" sins like lying and swearing, and that the heavy object represents what many think of as "big" sins like murder and robbery. State that you are going to drop both objects to the floor at the same time. Ask the children which object they think will reach the floor first? Most should say the heavy object.

Drop both objects. They will reach the floor at the same time. (You may wish to repeat the exercise). State that sin is like that to God. The lighter or smaller sins are just as serious to Him as the weightier ones, for all wrongdoing is sin (1 John 5 v. 17).

b. Ask the children to imagine that both they and you are going to take a maths test where the pass mark is 100%. State that they - being really clever - get a mark of 98%, but that you - being not too good at maths - only manage 2%.

Ask the children how you have done - passed or failed? You have failed.
Ask the children how they have done - passed or failed? They also have failed.

Explain that although the children did much better than you in this imaginary test, they still failed. State that in life some people have led really led really bad lives and, rather like getting a mark of two out of a hundred, fall far short of God's standard, which is perfection. State that other people (give a few examples) have led wonderful lives, but no matter how good they have been they still come short of God's standard. Most people come somewhere between these two extremes, but the good news of the Gospel is that one man, Jesus, did lead a perfect life and reach God's standard. The even better news is that Jesus did it for us, and then died on the cross in our place, so that we could be forgiven - no matter how short of God's standard we have come.

35. Sin grows rapidly.

Children often fail to realise that sin, no matter how insignificant it appears at first, once we let it into our lives can grow very rapidly. Here are two illustrations to illustrate this.

a. Ask the children to imagine that they had a choice of receiving either $500 immediately, or 1 cent doubled every day for a month. Which would they choose? Most children will opt for the $500. Bad choice! If they had chosen the 1 cent doubled each day for a month, they would have ended up with over $5,000,000. (Work it out for yourself!). Sin grows rather like that. It may seem small and insignificant to start with, but left unchecked, it can rapidly grow to become a serious problem.

Alternative : A similar illustration can be used regarding witnessing. " If you told just one other person about Jesus today, and then tomorrow you both each told another person, and then the next day all four of you each told one other person, and you continued on like this. How long would it be before the entire world of about six billion people heard about Jesus? Answer: Just over a month! In contrast, if I, working alone, attempted to tell everybody in just Auckland (population 1 million) about Jesus at the rate of ten per day, it would still take me over 270 years to complete the task!

b. Have a volunteer come out and hold his arms outstretched. Produce a small length of wool, and tie it round the volunteer's wrists. Explain that this one twist of wool represents one sin (e.g. one lie). Ask the children to imagine that your volunteer told one lie, then realised what he had done was wrong and determined to break free from his sin and give up lying. Have your volunteer break free from the wool, which he will easily be able to do.

Repeat the above procedure, but this time produce a longer length of wool, and begin to wrap it around your volunteer's wrists, explaining that this time he did not give up his lying, but told another one to try and cover up his first, and then another, and another, etc. End up with about ten twists. Tie the length ends together. State that eventually your volunteer realised what he was doing, and decided to break free from his lies as before. But what happens this time? No matter how hard he struggles, he is unable to snap the wool and break free.

That is how sin works. The Bible says "He who sins is a slave to sin" (John 8 v. 34). Think for a moment what a slave is - someone who cannot do what he wants to do, and has to do what he doesn't want to do! If sin becomes a habit in your life (whether it is lying or something else), without help, it will be extremely hard to stop - even if you want to. The good news is that if we ask him, Jesus is able to break the power of sin in our life and, as the Bible says, "If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed." (John 8 v. 36). Finally, produce a pair of scissors and set your volunteer free.

36. The fair distribution of food.

Many children believe that there are starving people in some countries because there is a world-wide food shortage. Here is an illustration to help children understand that the problem is not one of food shortage, but rather one of unfair or unequal food distribution.

Preparation. Get a piece of cardboard, and write on it the letters and numbers as shown below :-

A = 1
B = 2
C = 3
D = 4
E = 0

Cover each number with individual small pieces of card or paper.

Next, get as many pieces of plain paper as their are children in your group, write on each one A,B,C,D, or E. Ensure you have far more E's than the other letters, and the total of the corresponding numbers add up to the total number of children. For example, if I have 30 children in my group, I will write out three A's (total = 3), three B's (total = 6), three C's (total = 9), three D's (total = 12) and eighteen E's (total = 0). Fold the papers over, and place in a box.

Get a bag of sweets (lollies / candies ), just enough for one per child.

Presentation. Produce your sweets, box of folded papers, and prepared card. Announce that you are going to share the sweets with the group, according to what is written on the paper each child is about to receive. Let each child choose a paper and unfold it to reveal the letter.

Ask "Who has got an 'A'?" Take the cover off the number next to your 'A' to reveal a '1'. "You will all get 1 sweet."
"Who has got a 'B'? ------------------------- You will all get 2 sweets."
"Who has got a 'C'? ------------------------- You will all get 3 sweets." ( By now, those with an 'E' will be getting excited).
"Who has got a 'D'? ------------------------- You will all get 4 sweets."
"Who has got an 'E'. More than half the children will put their hands up in eager anticipation. Remove the last cover. ------------------ "Oh dear! You will get no sweets!"

After the 'groans' have died down, ask the children if they think it fair that some children should get 3 or 4 sweets while many others will get none? Even those children due to get 3 or 4 sweets will usually agree that this is not a fair way of sharing. Ask the children if they can think of a fairer way of sharing the sweets? Mention that you have just noticed that the total number of sweets is the same as the number of children present. The children should soon come to a consensus that a better way of sharing out the sweets is for each child to get one each. State that you agree with them. and distribute accordingly.

Conclusion. "In some countries many boys and girls go to bed hungry every night because they don't have enough food to eat. The problem is not because of a world food shortage, but rather an unequal distribution of the ample food that is grown. As Christians, we should be thinking of ways in which we can make this distribution more fair, and ensure that everyone gets enough food to eat."

37. God can do things instantly.

Here are two 'instant addition' illustrations to help children understand that God doesn't need time to do what He wants to do, rather He can do things instantly.

A. Get a volunteer to write any two four-digit numbers on the board. You then write out the third four-digit number, ensuring that the product of the second and third numbers is 9999. For example, if the second number is 3785, the third number will be 6214. Get your volunteer to write out the fourth four-digit number. You then write out the fifth number, ensuring that the product of the fourth and fifth numbers is again 9999. You are now ready to amaze your class by adding up all five numbers instantly. Your answer will be 2, followed by the first number minus 2. i.e. If the first number is 4567, your answer will be 24565. Here is an example :-

Volunteer 4567
Volunteer 4291
Self 5708
Volunteer 6235
Self 3764

Total = 24565

Get the children to confirm your answer - with their calculators if these are available.

B. Prepare four cards (A,B,C,D), each with a five-digit number on them written from top to bottom as shown.


9 6 1 8
1 4 5 7
5 2 4 1
4 7 7 7
2 5 8 4

Get a volunteer to come and stick the cards on the board, in any order they choose, to thus form five four-digit numbers - as per the example above. Remind the children that there are twenty four different ways in which your volunteer could have arranged the cards.

As soon as the cards are in place, write down the product of the five numbers. You could get the children to be adding up the numbers with their calculators at the same time - but you will have the correct answer long before them! To get your instant answer, write down 2, followed by two plus each number in your second four-digit number (1457 in above example), except for the last number (7) which remains unaltered. Thus the answer is 23677.

You may wish to get a second volunteer to come and rearrange the cards, and repeat the procedure. If the cards were rearranged C.B.D,A for example, your answer will be 27691.

38. Obedience brings success.

This is a very popular object lesson that children love to try for themselves.

Effect. Place a square handkerchief (linen or paper) in a "diamond" shape on a flat surface. Lay a pencil across the centre of the handkerchief. Bring the bottom corner of the handkerchief up to the top, but ensure that it slightly overlaps. The pencil will now, of course, be covered. Place a hand on the pencil through the handkerchief, and tightly roll it up until the lower corner flips over. Unroll the handkerchief, and you will see that the pencil is now on the top. i.e. it appears to have penetrated the handkerchief from inside to outside. Try it out. It is much simpler than it sounds!

Explanation. By rolling up the handkerchief until one corner 'flips over', you are actually turning it inside out, and thus bringing the pencil from the inside to the outside. The critical part is ensuring that only one corner flips over. If both ( or no) corners are flipped, the pencil will remain on the inside.

Application. This illustration can be used to complement any teaching on Obedience. I usually use it in connection with Ephesians 6 v. 1.

Example. " If you obey your, Parents, God has promised that you will be successful. If my volunteer here obeys me, he will be able to pass this pencil from the inside to the outside of this handkerchief. What I want you to do is roll it up tightly, tap it three times with your finger, unroll it, and the pencil will have passed through the material - you will be successful. Wait a minute! First let us see what will happen if you are disobedient, and you tap the pencil four times? (Ensure that the rolling stops just before the flip over). Oh dear. You were unsuccessful because you were disobedient! This time you can be obedient (Ensure the bottom corner flips over). Wonderful. Your obedience has brought success!

You may wish to get a few more volunteers to try it out. All you need to remember is that you control the flip overs, depending on whether you want the person to be successful or not. It is very rare for any volunteer or spectator to notice the differences in the three ways you can roll up the handkerchief - i.e. no, one, or two flip overs.

Object Lesson 39. - Wrestling match. I invite one of the bigger boys to come out for a wrestling match. I explain that it is a "handicap" match - all of him against my little thumb! My volunteer can use both hands, and all he has to do is wrestle my little thumb to the ground! After he has failed to do that, ask "Why wasn't that big boy able to defeat my little thumb?" Answer. Because my thumb, small as it is, is attached to something far bigger - it is attached to me! Remind the children that if they are trusting in Jesus, they are actually attached to God, and no matter how big their "giant" may appear, they will be able to overcome it because God is far, far bigger.

Object Lesson 40. - Samson pad. These are pieces of white plastic, but they look and feel like cardboard. They can be obtained from www.onewaystreet.com . Take one plastic sheet and one ordinary cardboard sheet (which comes in the same pack), and write on each "GIANT". The two sheets should look identical. Give the cardboard sheet to a small girl, and the plastic sheet to a big boy. Explain that we are going to imagine that both the volunteers have giants to overcome. God is on the side of both of them, but one - and you are not saying which - is like David, and has remembered that. The other is like the other Israelite soldiers who forgot that, and so were afraid of the giant.

Ask the volunteers to defeat their "giants" by ripping up the 'cardboard' into small pieces. It will soon be obvious which one is like David.