Monday, June 2, 2014

God Looks on the Inside by Martin Wiles

(All material is original to the author with the exception of songs and activities which have been borrowed from various sources. All studies are free for public use.)

God Looks on the Inside
Scripture Reference: I Samuel 16:7
Related Scripture Reference:  I Samuel 16
(Compiled and written by Martin W. Wiles)

Objectives: To teach children that what’s on our inside is more important than how we look on the outside. With this group, you may want to address peer pressure and how they will be tempted to conform on the outside by copying others actions, manners, ways of dressing, attitudes, etc. 

Say: Today, we will hear a story that tells how God chose David to be the new king of Israel. Saul was the first king of Israel, but he had a bad habit of disobeying God. God decided to find a king who would obey him. David didn’t become king immediately after the prophet Samuel told him he would be the next king. He was still a young man and was taking care of his father’s sheep. But at least, David knew what his future would hold. 

Say: (Display the following verse where the children can easily see it.) Let’s say our memory verse together. The LORD doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart. (I Samuel 16:7 NLT)

Reflection: Ask the children if they have ever seen the inside of a person or animal. They or someone they know may have cut themselves very badly, and they were able to see a little bit of the inside. Or perhaps they have seen a dead animal on the road. For most people, this is a gruesome sight. Operating room nurses and doctors see people’s insides on a regular basis. You might even consider getting Cindy Eidson to come in and describe what it’s like to see the inside of people. 

What do you think it would be like to see the inside of a person? Would it gross you out, or would you be excited. 
When you’re older, you will probably take a biology course at school, a part of which will be dissecting animals. You will cut open fish, frogs, and perhaps other animals and look at their insides. 
Do you think what a person or animal looks like on the inside differs from how we see them on the outside?
How important is the inside to the outside? What happens on the inside determines whether or not a person can do certain things and whether they are even alive. If a person’s heart isn’t working, they are dead. 
What is peer pressure? How does it tempt you to make your outside different than your inside? 

Bible Story Time: 
Be prepared to tell the children the story of Samuel selecting David as the next king of Israel:

God was supposed to be the nation of Israel’s king, but all the nations that lived around them had an earthly king so Israel asked God to give them one too. God didn’t want to—and he knew it wouldn’t be good for them to have one, but he let them make a poor choice anyway. That’s how God is. He knows what’s best for us, but he will let us make bad choices sometimes to help us learn good lessons. 

Judges ruled the land of Israel before they selected this first king. Samuel was a prophet and also a judge. He had constantly rebuked Saul for disobeying God, but Saul wouldn’t listen. Finally, God had enough. He told Samuel he was rejecting Saul as king. Samuel was to go to Bethlehem to the house of a man named Jesse. God had selected one of his sons as the next king of Israel.

Samuel had to be careful. If King Saul found out what he was doing, he probably would have killed him. God told Samuel to tell the people of Bethlehem and Jesse that he had come to their town to make a sacrifice. That too would keep the king from finding out why he had really come. All of Jesse’s sons came to the sacrifice ceremony. When Samuel saw his son named Eliab, he thought he surely must the one God wanted as the next king. But God told Samuel not to be fooled by his outward appearance. He reminded Samuel that he looks on the inside…at a person’s thoughts and plans. God can see who we really are, not just the person we sometimes pretend to be on the outside. 

Jesse paraded all of his sons before Samuel, but none of them were who God wanted as Israel’s next king. “Do you have any more sons?” Samuel asked. Jesse told him he had one more. He was the youngest and was out in the fields looking after the sheep. Samuel said, “Send for him.” When Samuel looked at him, he didn’t look like king material. He was handsome, but he was also a little rough looking. After all, he worked and lived in the fields while caring for the sheep. His robe was probably dirty, and he probably smelled. He fought with bears, lions, and wolves. But this was the one God wanted as the next king. So Samuel anointed him with oil. David didn’t become king for almost twenty years, but his future was sealed. God had looked on his inside and liked what he saw. 

What God saw on David’s inside—that Samuel couldn’t, was that David loved God and wanted to please him. Samuel was looking at height, muscles, hair color, weight, etc. None of this mattered to God. He was interested in David’s heart. Not his literal heart but his heart in the sense of his relationship with God and his desire to please him with his actions. Something King Saul wasn’t interested in. 

Ask: What does this story teach us about how the appearance of our inside is more important than our outside. Get the children to reflect on how the proper working of our insides affects our outside. If blood doesn’t flow to one of our limbs, it will shrivel and die. If our liver doesn’t work, we can die. If our heart doesn’t pump, we will die. If our joints don’t work, we can’t bend our fingers, toes, arms, and legs. 

Help children understand that the inside God is interested in is the part that shows we are interested in loving him, serving him, and telling others about him. Our insides are made beautiful to God when we accept what Jesus has done for us on the cross. When we ask Jesus to forgive our sins and come into our hearts as our Savior and Lord, our insides become beautiful to God. It doesn’t matter how our outsides look. (This is a good opportunity to explain the steps of salvation.)

Activity Break: (15 minutes)

Game: Just a Mask
This game will demonstrate to kids that how they look has little to do with who they really are.

Supply List
one paper plate per child;
markers, crayons, pens;
craft sticks, one per person (optional);
masking tape (optional);
other craft supplies (optional);
Scripture: 1 Samuel 16:7

The Game
Give each child a paper plate. Set out markers, crayons, and pens for kids to share. You can also supply craft items such as yarn, glitter glue, and fabric scraps for kids to use. Have kids make a face mask on his or her paper plate.

On the other side of the mask, have kids write three things they love. Finally, have kids tape a craft stick handle to the back of the plate. Gather the masks, and scramble them in the center of the room. Have kids form a circle around the masks.

Let each child choose a mask, making sure it's not their own. Go around the circle and have each child read what's written on the back of the mask. Let the rest of the class guess who the mask really belongs to.

Post-Game Discussion Questions
After playing the game, ask your students to sit down in groups of three and discuss:
How was trying to guess which mask matched which person like Samuel trying to figure out which of Jesse's sons God had chosen to be king?
How is our outward appearance like a mask of who we really are?
Do you think God cares how we look? Why or why not?
How should we try to look at each other?
Encourage kids to take their masks home to remind them that God looks at the heart, not at our outward appearance.

Transition
Let’s sing a song to remind ourselves how important our inside is.

Song:
I've Got the Joy In My Heart

I've got the joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart
Where?
Down in my heart!
Where?
Down in my heart!
I've got the joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart
Down in my heart to stay

And I'm so happy
So very happy
I've got the love of Jesus in my heart
Down in my heart
And I'm so happy
So very happy
I've got the love of Jesus in my heart.

I've got the love of Jesus, love of Jesus
Down in my heart
Where?
Down in my heart!
Where?
Down in my heart!
I've got the love of Jesus, love of Jesus
Down in my heart
Where?
Down in my heart to stay.

And I'm so happy
So very happy
I've got the love of Jesus in my heart
Down in my heart
And I'm so happy
So very happy
I've got the love of Jesus in my heart.

I've got the peace that passes understanding
Way down in the depths of my heart!
Where?
Down in the depths of my heart!
Where?
Down in the depths of my heart!
I've got the peace that passes understanding
Way down in the depths of my heart!
Down in my heart to stay

And I'm so happy
So very happy
I've got the love of Jesus in my heart
Down in my heart
And I'm so happy
So very happy
I've got the love of Jesus in my heart.

And if the Devil doesn't like it
He can sit on a tack!
Ouch!
Sit on a tack!
Ouch!
Sit on a tack!
And if the Devil doesn't like it
He can sit on a tack!
Ouch!
Sit on a tack to stay!

And I'm so happy
So very happy
I've got the love of Jesus in my heart
Down in my heart
And I'm so happy
So very happy
I've got the love of Jesus in my heart.

Wrap Up: 
Give children a blank sheet of paper and let them color their rendition of David the Shepherd Boy. 

Take Away:
Let each child tell one thing they learned from the story of Samuel selecting David the shepherd boy as the next king of Israel. 
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