Monday, June 2, 2014

I May Be Small but God Can Use Me 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.)

I May Be Small but God Can Use Me
Scripture Reference: Judges 6:15
Related Scripture References: Judges 6-8 
(Compiled and written by Martin W. Wiles)

Objectives: To teach children that God can use them in his service even when they are young. 

Say: This month we will continue our study on “Great Stories from the Bible” by studying a man named Gideon. While we don’t know how old Gideon was when God spoke to him, we do know that Gideon said he was the youngest in his family. In spite of that, God worked a great miracle through him. He—like David, who was just a young shepherd boy when God called him, was used by God in a mighty way. We are never too young or too old for God to use us. 

Say: (Write the following verse on paper and display it where the children can easily see it.) Let’s say our memory verse together. Gideon said to him, “But Lord, how can I deliver Israel? Just look! My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the youngest in my family” (Judges 6:15 NET). 

Bible Story Time: 
Be prepared to tell the children the story of Gideon:

Gideon lived during a very bad time in his country’s history. Last week we studied about a great leader named Joshua. Joshua led Israel until he was 110 years of age, but after he and all his generation died the people turned to wicked behavior. The Bible says, In those days Israel had no king. Each man did what he considered to be right (Judges 21:25 NET). The trouble was what most of them considered right was wrong in God’s eyes. 

God still loved his people even though many of them were living wicked lives. Remember that the nation of Israel was divided into 12 tribes who were named after the 12 sons of Jacob (God later changed his name to Israel.). God gave the members of each tribe a different section of land in the Promised Land. After Joshua died—and the people were rebelling against God, God raised up judges to rule over each of these different territories. Gideon was one of those men.

Gideon belonged to the tribe of Manasseh, and some bad people called the Midianites were bothering them. Gideon and his family members would plant their crops, and the Midianites would swoop down on their land and destroy them. Gideon and his family were so scared that many of them had moved to the mountains and were hiding in caves. Gideon was so frightened that he was harvesting his wheat down in a wine press. 

While Gideon was working and looking over his shoulder at the same time to make sure his enemies weren’t around, an angel from God appeared to him. The angel told Gideon that God wanted him to deliver his people from the Midianites. That’s when Gideon told the angel that his family was very small and that he himself was very young. Gideon’s excuses didn’t bother the angel or change what God wanted Gideon to do. He assured Gideon God would give him strength to deliver his people. Before God could use Gideon, Gideon had to learn to trust God. 

Gideon assembled 32,000 soldiers to fight these enemies. God, however, thought he had too many soldiers. If they defeated the Midianites with this many men, the people would think they had won the battle in their own power. God wanted them to remember that he gave them power to fight. So he told Gideon to let all those who were afraid go home. Imagine Gideon’s shock when 22,000 of his soldiers left. Now he only had 10,000. But God wasn’t finished yet. He told Gideon to take them down to the water and watch how they drank. Those who lapped the water with their tongues like a dog were to be separated from those who knelt down to drink. Only 300 lapped. These were the ones who were truly prepared for battle. Imagine how Gideon must have felt. Not only was he a young boy but God had also dwindled his army from 32,000 to 300. 

Gideon and his 300 men stood on the hillside and looked at the great army of Midianites below them in the valley. How could 300 people defeat thousands? God showed them. Gideon divided his men into three groups of 100 each. Each man carried a trumpet and a pitcher with a torch inside. When all the men were in place, Gideon gave the command. They blew their trumpets, broke their jars, and shouted, “A sword for the LORD and for Gideon!” Their enemies were startled, frightened, and ran like scared rabbits. Gideon may have been young, but God used him to deliver his people from their enemies.

Ask: What does this story teach us about how God can use us regardless of what age we are? (This is a good place to emphasize to the children that while God wants to use them they must first trust him as their Savior. Remind them that God loved them so much that he sent Jesus to die for their sins. When they ask him for forgiveness, they become God’s child. Be prepared to talk to any child who may respond to this during or after class.)

Reflection: Children are sometimes tempted to think that they have to be an adult before God can use them in his Kingdom work. Such is not the case. There are numerous ways children and youth can be used by God before they ever reach adulthood. Biblical examples of God using children and young people are: David was chosen to be king of Israel when he was just a youth tending sheep, Manasseh was 12 when God made him king of Israel, and Josiah was only 8 when God made him king. Ask children the following questions:

Do you have to be a certain age to invite one of your friends to church?
Do you have to be a certain age to tell someone that you love Jesus and that he loves them?
Can you hold the entrance door to the church open for an older person who is having trouble walking?
Can you help keep the church clean by picking up your trash and others trash you might see lying around?
Can you pray for your pastor, teachers, family, and friends?
Can you give money to help support our missionaries around the world who are telling others about Jesus’ love?
Can you be the one at school who makes the right choices when everyone else seems to be making the wrong choices? 

Activity Break: (15 minutes)

Game:  Rise and Shine
After any toys are put away, have the kids lie on the floor and pretend to sleep. An adult says in a loud voice, "Good night!" and turns off the lights. The kids snore. After a few moments, the adult says, "Good morning!" and turns on the lights. At this cue, all the kids stand up and sing, "Rise and shine and give God the glory, glory!" until the adult says, "Good night" again. Then the kids yawn, lie down, and go back to "sleep." 
Remind the children that even though they are young, they can shine their lights for God. 

Transition
Let’s sing a song to remind ourselves how powerful God is.

Song:

I'm in the Lord's Army

I may never march in the infantry
Ride in the cavalry
Shoot the artillery
I may never fly o'er the enemy
But I'm in the Lord's army!
Yes Sir!

I'm in the Lord's army!
Yes sir!
I'm in the Lord's army!
Yes sir!

I may never march in the infantry
Ride in the cavalry
Shoot the artillery
I may never fly o'er the enemy
But I'm in the Lord's army!
Yes sir!

This Little Light of Mine
This little light of mine
I'm going to let it shine
Oh, this little light of mine
I'm going to let it shine
This little light of mine
I'm going to let it shine
Let it shine, all the time, let it shine


All around the neighborhood
I'm going to let it shine
All around the neighborhood
I'm going to let it shine
All around the neighborhood
I'm going to let it shine
Let it shine, all the time, let it shine.

Hide it under a bushel? No!
I'm going to let it shine
Hide it under a bushel? No!
I'm going to let it shine
Hide it under a bushel? No!
I'm going to let it shine
Let it shine, all the time, let it shine.

Don't let Satan [blow] it out!
I'm going to let it shine
Don't let Satan [blow] it out!
I'm going to let it shine
Don't let Satan [blow] it out!
I'm going to let it shine
Let it shine, all the time, let it shine


Wrap Up: 
Give children a blank sheet of paper and let them color their version of Gideon and his Army fighting the Midianites. 

Take Away:
Let each child tell one thing they learned from the story about Gideon. 
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