Monday, June 2, 2014

What Can Dirt Teach 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.)

What Can Dirt Teach Me?
Scripture Reference: James 1:22
Related Scripture Reference: Matthew 13:1-9
(Compiled and written by Martin W. Wiles)

Objectives: To remind children that God wants us to love and obey his Word. While reading it is important, doing what it says is the most important thing. If we only hear God’s Word but don’t obey it, it doesn’t do us any good. 

Say: Today we continue our theme, “Jesus the Great Storyteller.” Jesus was a great preacher and teacher, but the primary way he did both was by telling stories that made people sit still and listen. Many of his stories were about things people of his time were familiar with. Our story today was one such story. Many of Jesus’ listeners were probably farmers or knew people who were.  

Say: (Display the following verse where the children can easily see it.) Let’s say our memory verse together. But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. (James 1:22 NLT)

Reflection: Do your parents read you Bible stories? If not, why not ask them to? How often do you read your Bible? When do you think the best time to read your Bible is? Does your family have family devotions together? If not, why not ask your parents if you can start? Family devotions are a great way for the entire family to spend time together learning God’s Word. 

Activity Break: 
The story you will tell the children today can be well illustrated by actually allowing them to plant seeds in different types of soil. Over the course of the next few weeks, you can demonstrate how the different types of dirt (hard soil, poor soil, soil with plant food, soil with rocks) can affect how seeds sprout and grow. Seed pods and seed can be purchased inexpensively. 

Bible Story Time: 
Tell the children Jesus’ story of the Parable of the Four Soils:

One day Jesus went down to a lake shore. Like as on many other occasions, a crowd of people gathered to hear him tell a story. Why he might even heal someone or perform some other type of miracle. The crowd was so large that Jesus got into a boat, sat down, and began to teach from there. We are accustomed to seeing a teacher or preacher stand up while they are speaking, but in Jesus’ day teachers and preachers sat down.

The Bible doesn’t tell us all the stories Jesus told while he was in the boat, but one was about a farmer planting his field. This farmer would probably have had a seed bag thrown over his shoulder. He didn’t have a tractor or any modern implements like farmers use today. As he walked over his field, he would take his hand and scatter the seed. He didn’t dig a row, put the seed in it, and then cover it up like we see farmers do today. Now you can understand how this seed would fall on different types of soil. 

Jesus said some of the seed fell on a footpath. Paths ran through and around the various fields. The farmer walked on them as he planted his seed, but travelers walked on them also as they were going from one place to the next. 

Reflection: What happens to dirt that is walked on a great deal? What do you think would happen to a seed that landed on a hard piece of ground? One of your seed cups should have hard packed dirt. The seed can simply be laid on top of it. 

This seed didn’t grow because the ground was too hard. Since it was exposed, birds came down and ate it. Some of the seed the farmer sowed fell on rocky ground. Not rocks on top but rocks underneath. The soil was shallow. 

Reflection: What happens to plants that are planted in shallow soil? Explain to the children that while the seed will spout in shallow soil, once the roots and plant begin to grow, eventually they will have no more room. The plant will then wither and die. 

Other seed fell in ground that was infested with thorns. We might be more familiar with weeds and grass. 

Reflection: What happens to the plants if a farmer or gardener doesn’t keep the weeds or grass out of his field? 

Sure enough, the thorns choked out the plants, and they soon died. But some of the seed fell on good soil. Soil the farmer had fertilized and plowed. 

Reflection: What do you think happened to the seed that fell on good ground? 

The seed that fell on good ground produced an abundant crop. For every kernel of corn that was planted, a stalk grew that produced 3 to 4 ears of corn. The farmer made much more than he planted because he had prepared the soil. 

But Jesus wasn’t really talking about farming, even though what he said was true. He was talking about us hearing and obeying his Word. The soil represents our hearts and how we prepare them so we can adequately hear God’s Word. If we don’t prepare our hearts well, God’s Word won’t make any difference in our lives. If we get too busy with other things, we might neglect God’s Word all together. 

Reflection: What does this story teach us about reading and obeying God’s Word? It’s not enough to be a hearer of God’s Word, we must be a doer. Whatever God’s Word tells us not to do, we shouldn’t do, and whatever it tells us to do, we should do. Before we read the Bible, we should pray and ask God to help us understand it. We should ask him to make our hearts like the good soil. 

Wrap Up: 
Give the children a blank sheet of paper and let them draw and then color something they learned from the Parable of the Sower. 

Transition
Let’s sing a song to remind us how important God’s Word is.

Song: 
The B-I-B-L-E

The B-I-B-L-E
Yes, that's the book for me
I stand alone on the Word of God
The B-I-B-L-E

Take Away:
Let each child tell one thing they learned from the Parable of the Sower.