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This month's Activities section focuses on our theme for 2005 - Living the Golden Rule - The Ultimate Character Builder. The book of Jeremiah and information on the prophet Jeremiah can be found in Bible Overview.

Swap Shop includes an activity one Sunday school superintendent used with BibleWise coloring pages.

Teachers and Parents

Margie Eddington's hot topic article discusses "newness."

Teachers, you might like to suggest to your students' parents that they read and discuss the Golden Rule and how to live it.

Below is a sample calendar of activities and ideas to read and discuss each week in January. There is a memorization verse for each week as well. Work with your child and your students to learn each verse. Then, discuss the meaning of the verse and how it can be applied to our every day lives. On Sundays during class, riding in the car, or at dinner, it's fun to share stories of how the children have used the verse in their lives that week.

   
 
Weekly Activities Printable HTML Version Download MS Word File
December 27-Jan 2 December 27-Jan 2 December 27-Jan 2
January 3- 9 January 3- 9 January 3- 9
January 10-16 January 10-16 January 10-16
January 17-23 January 17-23 January 17-23
January 24-30 January 24-30 January 24-30
January 31-Feb 6 January 31-Feb 6 January 31-Feb 6
   
 

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Week of December 27-January 2
Memorization verse: Ps 40:3 And he hath put a new song in my mouth, even praise unto our God: many shall see it, and fear, and shall trust in the Lord.

  • What does this verse mean to you?
  • What is your new song?

TEACHERS: The activities for this month deal with newness, priorities, and living the Golden Rule. While there is a list of different questions for each week, please feel free to select the activities that work for you on any Sunday.

Each week we'll continue with the memorization of the Bible verse. It is important to show children how these verses help us live a good life.

Sunday, January 2

  • Ask the students to recite this week's Bible verse.
  • Discuss the meaning of the verse.
  • Why should we trust in the Lord?
  • What kind of a song would we need to sing to get others to trust in God?
  • Why is praise important?

Have the students share their assignments:

   
 
  • Sing or read the new song for your life.
    • Example: I am new everyday -, because God made me this way. I sing, work , and play - I don't forget to pray - because God made me this way. I'm so grateful for everything, God is gracious that's why I sing, " I am okay because, God made me this way." Yea! [Lower grade youngster]"
    • What do the words of this song tell us about you and the new year?
    • What kind of changes do you want to make with your life?
    • Are their any old habits that need to be broken?
    • Is it possible to start brand new? o How do we become "new?"
   
 
  • Viewing others:
    • Who do you want to see in a new light? Why?
      • How can you consistently do this?
    • How do we allow others to become "new?"
    • Do we ever get in the way of someone letting go of the past?
      • Are we the devil's book-keeper (always reminding people of their past mistakes)?
    • Why not make "praising good when you see it" one of your goals for this New Year?
   
 
  • Spiritual goals for 2005?
    • What kind of spiritual goals have you set for this year? (studying the Bible, praying each day, forgiving, planned acts of kindness, etc.)
    • How will these goals improve your ability to help others?
    • How will your goals improve your contribution to family? Church? Friends? School? Sports? Hobbies?
    • If any of these goals are about character change, talk about the importance of asking God if these are goals He has for them.
    • Are the Ten Commandments goals? How so?
    • What's the difference between a law and a goal?
    • Is the speed limit a goal or a law?
    • What would keep us from achieving our goals?
    • How can we guarantee that we will be successful in achieving our goals?
    • What does prayer have to do with our desire to be better?
    • What qualities do you want to express this year?
    • What kinds of goals does God have for us? (look at the goals for different figures of the Bible: Noah, Abraham, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Aaron, Joshua, Gideon, Samson, Deborah, Ruth, Esther, Job, Samuel, Saul, David, Solomon, Hezekiah, Daniel, Meshach, Shadrach, Abednego, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Jonah, Mary, John the Baptist, and Jesus,)

Teachers: You might want to put each name of the Bible characters above (and add others) on index cards and let children draw them out of a stack. Their responsibility is to tell a little bit of the character's story and what kind of goals God gave him or her. This may take a few Sundays. It is a great review and shows our accountability all year to be in service to God.

   
 

Assignment:

  • Memorize the Bible verse.
  • Read Teen Time - Hot Topic on newness.
  • Take your list of goals and prioritize them. What is the most important goal? Why?
  • Get a blank-page journal or a daily diary and write down your goals. At the end of each day, assess how you have achieved your goals.

Week of January 3-9
Memorization verse: Matt 6:33 (to;) But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness;

  • What does this verse mean to you?
  • How is it applicable to your assignment for next Sunday?

Sunday, January 9

  • Ask the students to recite this week's Bible verse.
  • Discuss the meaning of the verse.
  • Henry Drummond paraphrased this verse - Seek ye the kingdom of God first, I promise you a miserable life if you seek it second. Ask the students if they agree with that statement.
  • How do we seek the kingdom of God first?
 

Teachers: In helping students understand the importance of seeking the kingdom of God first, use this list or create your own. Ask the students to order their activities. What do they do first? Where does God enter into their day? One of my Sunday School teachers told me that saving prayer and Bible study for the end of the day was like a knight putting on his armor and jumping into bed. We put our spiritual armor on first so we are prepared for the day. Some activities on the list below may have more than one number. For example, prayer might have a number 2, 10, 15, and 20.

Put a number "1" next to the first activity of your day, a "2" next to the following activity and so on. Some activities may occur more than once in a day.

_____wake-up
_____bathroom routine
_____shower
_____breakfast
_____get dressed
_____talk to God
_____read the Bible
_____pray
_____school
_____play
_____homework
_____television
_____outdoor activities
_____lunch
_____dinner
_____snacks
_____read a book
_____play games
_____go to bed

Look at the responses.

  • Where does God end up in the day?
    • Why?
  • What can we do to put God first?
  • Why is that important?
   
 

Pictogram
Some teachers have mentioned it is difficult for children to memorize a verse each week. To help students remember Bible verses and to work on keeping God as a priority, create a pictogram of the Bible verse - "Seek ye first the Kingdom of God." This can be turned into a bumper sticker for their mirror, or bulletin board in their rooms, or notebook - a place where they will be reminded of putting God first. The following exercise works well for little children who relate better to pictures than to words. Older students can have fun creating meaningful and fun designs, not only for themselves but for the Sunday School and church as a whole. The message is a good reminder for us all. Have your pupils practice with FIND THE BIBLE VERSE in Kids Korner.

Here is just one example -   ye    the

 

Or just one picture combining all the elements:

   
 

Assignment

Week of January 10-16
Memorization verse Matt 7:12 (to;) In everything do to others as you would have them do to you;
NRSV

  • Discuss the Bible verse: what does it mean to do for others?
  • Restate this verse in your own words.

Sunday, January 16

  • Ask the students to recite this week's Bible Verse.
  • What does this verse mean to you?
  • How did you restate this verse?
  • What other verses in the Bible remind you of this verse?
  • What does it mean "to do?"
  • Is there any suggestion in the verse that you should wait for something to happen to you before you do good to others?
  • Why is this an action verse?
  • What kind of action is required of you?
  • Why is this called the Golden Rule?
 

Look at all their restatements of the Golden Rule. Select one or two of the statements and ask the class to create a poster to place in the Sunday School. You can also have each one make a poster for home. As this may take longer than the class session, you may assign it for homework or continue with it in class the next week. This should be a reminder of how they are to live the Golden Rule everyday. Here a few examples from some 4th graders.

 Doing for others as I would want them to do for me. I can read to someone and they can read to me.

The Golden Rule is living and doing good for others.
The Golden Rule isn't getting - it is giving.
Living the Golden Rule is being a peace maker.
I can live the Golden Rule every time I clean my room without being told.

Help the students to thoroughly understand how their actions are to be good. If they are not, why not?

  • What do we get when we withhold good from others?
  • Do we want people to suffer?
    • Who do we want to see suffer?
    • How can we correct that?
  • Have you ever turned an "enemy" into a friend?

If we are seeking first the kingdom of God - then we are seeking the good in everyone.

  • How can you see good in everyone?
  • How can you want to help even those you don't like?

Select Bible stories that demonstrate how to do unto others:

  • Joseph forgiving his brothers for throwing him into the pit
  • David forgiving Saul when he tried to kill him many times
  • The Good Samaritan
  • List and discuss other Bible stories that illustrate the Golden Rule.
  • Ask them to discuss their journal entries on how they are maintaining their goals for the year, getting their priorities in order, and how to live the Golden Rule each day.


   
 

Assignments

Young Children: Read the story of the Good Samaritan

Older Children: Read the Good Samaritan and The Good Shepherd and the Good Samaritan and read Guest of the Month - Bob Moline, award-winning song writer.

Week of January 17-23
Memorization verse: Eph 4:32 And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you.

  • What does this verse mean to you?
  • Find a different translation of this verse.

Sunday, January 23

  • Ask the students to recite this week's Bible Verse.
  • Why should we be kind to one another?
  • What does tender-hearted mean? [understanding]
  • Did you bring a different translation of the verse?
  • How has God been kind to you? Tender-hearted with you? Forgiven you?
  • Why is forgiveness important?

Recap:

  • How are you achieving your goals?
  • Have you changed your priorities?
    • Is God first in your life?
    • How has your life improved with putting God first?
  • Are you keeping up your journals/diaries about living the Golden Rule?
  • Give an example of how you lived the Golden Rule this week.
  • Why is it important to keep the Golden Rule foremost in thought?
  • Did you see anyone else living the Golden Rule?
  • Check to see how the posters for the Golden Rule are coming.
    • Any new ideas?
 

Ask the class to tell the story of the Good Samaritan or read it together from Luke 10:25-37.

  • Who challenged Jesus?
  • What are the two great commandments?
  • How does Jesus define "neighbor?"
  • Who is our neighbor?
  • Is the Good Samaritan another way of showing the Golden Rule in action?
  • What kind of story does Jesus tell the lawyer? (parable)
  • Look at the characters in the story: the priest, the Levite, the Samaritan, the man who was beaten.
    • Who might these people be today?
      • What if the injured person were someone from a different ethnic group than you? Would you stop to help?
      • Why do you think the two Jews walked away from him?
      • Describe the Samaritan.
      • Why was it so unusual for him to stop and tend to the man's wounds?
      • What if the injured man was from Israel? The United States?
      • And what if the Samaritan were a Palestinian? Iraqi?
        • Would you expect the man from Palestine (Iraq) to stop and help?
      • What did the lawyer learn from this parable?
      • What lessons did you learn from this parable?
      • How can we all express more compassion and care for one another?
      • Does loving your neighbor as yourself help explain the Golden Rule?
      • Why is it important for us to be willing to help others?
      • How does God see each of us?
        • How can we work to see each other the way God sees us?
   
  Assignment:

Young Children: Complete the maze Help-Him-Out!; find the Muddled Facts!; discover which is Right or Wrong?; and answer two Questions (Question1, Question2)

Older Children: Finish Golden Rule Posters

Week of January 24-30
Memorization verse: Matt 5:9 You're blessed when you can show people how to cooperate instead of compete or fight. That's when you discover who you really are, and your place in God's family. The Message

  • What does this verse mean to you?
  • What does it mean to be in God's family?

Sunday, January 30
Ask the students to recite this week's Bible Verse.

  • This beatitude in the KJV says, Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.
  • Peacemaker in the Greek means those who practice the presence of God.
  • How have you practiced the presence of God this past week?
  • Does this verse look like another form of the Golden Rule?
  • What does this verse ask us to do?
  • Are you willing to cooperate instead of fight?
  • When there is an argument, do you fight until the end, or are you willing to let go?
  • It takes two to argue. If one stops arguing, then the argument is over.
    • Are you willing to be the one to lose the argument for the sake of loving the person?
    • A good rule of thumb is to always ask yourself, Is this person more important to me than winning the argument?
    • When is an argument very important?
    • Sometimes it is hard to argue for doing what is right with a best friend. For example:
      • What do you do if a best friend shoplifts a CD?
      • Is it your responsibility to stop him?
      • How does the Golden Rule apply in this case?
 

Teachers: Print out the scramble list below to help students remember each commandment and then discuss it in light of Jesus explaining the two great commandments in Luke 10: 25-37.

Let's look more deeply at our actions. The Bible verses this month help us act toward others in a loving fashion. We are asked to put God first and love our neighbor - just as Jesus explained the two great commandments. Had you ever looked at the second great commandment as the Golden Rule?

Look at the first four commandments. Unscramble them for your hint.

  1. other before Do gods me any have not
    _________________________________________

  2. make yourselves Do not for idols
    _________________________________________

  3. vain name Do take in not of the Lord
    _________________________________________

  4. to Sabbath keep Remember the day
    _________________________________________


    Look at each one.

    •  Are these commands to God or to our neighbor?

    •  Are these the commandments that Jesus put into the first    commandment?

    What about the next six commandments. Unscramble them for a hint.


  5. mother Honor father your and
    _________________________________________

  6. murder anyone Do not
    _________________________________________

  7. not adultery Do commit
    _________________________________________

  8. steal not Do
    _________________________________________

  9. not lie Do
    _________________________________________

  10. other people's not covet Do things
    _________________________________________

Look at each one.

  • Which commandments apply to God and which apply to our neighbor?
    • Number 5 looks like it might apply to God and our parents.
  • What about commandments 6-10?
  • Do you see how obeying each of those is living the Golden Rule?
  • The first commandments tell us to get our priorities right with God and the bottom half show us how to live with each other.
    • Select one commandment and create a poster to go with your Golden Rule poster.
   
 

Teachers: This is an article by Barry Huff on Teaching the Ten Commandments.

When my 3rd grade Sunday School class was studying the Ten Commandments, I brought a big wooden box to class (a sturdy suitcase or trunk also works). I invited each student to climb into the box and describe how they felt (trapped). Then, I turned the box over, the students climbed on top of it, and they described how they felt while standing on top of the box (elevated). I explained that, while some people think the Ten Commandments box you in and restrict you, they actually are meant to be foundations for freedom that give you a higher perspective.

God introduces the Ten Commandments by declaring, "I am the Lord thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. Thou shalt…" (Exod 20:1). In the verses that follow, God gives this newly-liberated community the top ten ways to remain free.

As the box analogy illustrates, the purpose of the commandments is not to limit, but to liberate!

- Barry Huff

   
 

Mary Jane Chaignot wrote a description of the Ten Commandments. This would be a good review for both student and teacher of all ages. The commandments are our guide book for living the Golden Rule.

The Ten Commandments

  • In Hebrew they are called the Decalogue--Deca = ten. Logue = word.

  • There are many parallels in Babylonian and Egyptian texts to the last six, which regulate the relationships between people. There aren't any parallels to the first four addressing the relationship of people to God.

  • Setting: These words are addressed by God to Israel gathered, by His
    command, to the perimeter of the mountain at the base of Sinai. These
    people have been on an emotional roller coaster for three months. They've been ecstatic, fearful, comforted, saved, complaining. They've been getting ready for three days. They were taking this all very seriously. Now what was the first thing they heard? "I am the Lord your God." It could also be said: "I the Lord, am your God."

  • The first commandment starts with God. It sets the tone for everything that follows. First they were to know God; God is disclosing himself. "I am your God who brought you up, don't have any other gods before my face." This word demonstrated God's concern for their newly acquired freedom. They didn't have a clue how to be a people. God wanted them to be His people, and they didn't have it yet. They didn't know how. So He was trying to help them. Don't sell your birthright. Be single-minded. Start from God. To believe in God is to believe from the consciousness of God. We believe in a lot of things, we only believe from the standpoint of one thing.

  • Thou shalt have no other gods before me. Today: "Please have a God."
    Many people don't. But is that really true? Isn't there always something as a last resort on which people depend and to which they give their final allegiance? When God is gone, people put something else in His place, some object in which they place their final trust, some idol of their own making. Everyone has a god. Now we're just talking about what kind of a god it will be.

  • Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image... Today: The point is
    one's view of God. God cannot be imprisoned in the forms of this world. He is free. He is beyond creation's control, not concrete. He does not become tangible in holy things. God is in His voluntary self-giving, His love, free judgment, and sovereign grace. God does not want us to destroy ourselves by serving the creature instead of the Creator. He doesn't want anything between us. He doesn't want anything between us even if it is good. He wants direct communication.

  • Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain... Today: This has to do with the divine reputation. The Hebrew word for "take" is nasa -- sounds like NASA, sending up shuttles that carry things up, lift things up. Nasa means "to lift up, to carry, to bear." To do this in vain means to do it falsely, to make use of it for any idol, frivolous, or insincere purpose, or for mischief. God gave His name in friendship, for a relationship. All of God's names have to be honored, celebrated, blessed. To do anything less would be to treat this gift very lightly, to underestimate His power, and to misrepresent His nature. God's name is really saying, "I am here, you don't have to call me. I am here." God's name is consistent with His nature. And if we're going to that name, if we're going to carry it, bear it, and lift it up, then it must be consistent with ours as well.

  • Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Today: "Remember" is a very emphatic imperative. It isn't for those days when we have time to remember; it is to remember without lapse. Remember this in terms of the covenant. Do this every week. Why? God does not condemn people to slavery. He has built rest into His creation. We call it R and R, rest and recreation. And what is recreation except re - creation? The Sabbath is a time to step back; it is a time to be with God.

The next six words will focus on the horizontal line -- people to people.

  • Honor your father and your mother. Today: Honor is in the imperative; it means "give weight to, glorify, esteem in the sense of giving precedence." It means taking someone seriously, it's not meant to just be subject to them, but to be respectful and to recognize their right of importance, to esteem them for their priority of importance and to love them. In that sense they will be honored. Now as we honor parents, we become honored parents. To the extent that we are honorable and honored parents, that is what we are teaching. And that is what the children pick up.

  • Thou shalt not kill. Today: It would be a whole lot better if there had been a direct object. Unfortunately, it is open ended. But wait! Isn't this the same society that just witnessed the death of a whole lot of Egyptians, who fought a big battle with the Amelekites? Before they ever move away from this mountain, 3,000 of their own community are going to die. So what is this "Don't kill?" Does it make any sense? Let's go a little bit deeper. At that time, the sovereignty of God was determined by geographical boundaries. Each community had its own gods. The one with the strongest god was expected to prevail. Enjoying the spoils of war was really demonstrating glory to their god. But within the group, they were expected to hold each other in mutual esteem. All were under the care of that same God. Since God is the author of life, no one should dare act as God. And if someone did, the community acted on God's behalf. There is an underlying, basic principle that life belonged to God. When they went to war, they asked God. When crimes were committed, they cast lots or needed corroborating testimony from two witnesses. Both were considered to be signs from God. This word was intended to stop feudal killing. Such behaviors violated the standard of living that God expected of those who had given themselves to Him. This is still hard for us today. We have war, capital punishment, abortion, euthanasia. These all raise hard questions. Whether we like it or not, these are all forms of killing.

  • Thou shalt not commit adultery. Today: Again, this was given by God to a forming community. It is intimately connected to life within that community. The word, "adultery" comes from two words meaning, "add and other." Together, they mean to "add other," to dilute something by adding something else to it. To adulterate means to cheapen the quality or to upset the completeness. In antiquity, adultery meant sexual intercourse with the wife of another man, the fiancée of another man,
    or a wife with a married man. It was not meant to regulate one's love life; it was given to protect the institution of marriage. It provided societal stability. Marriages were not monogamous and divorce was permitted. But an existing marriage was given fullest protection. Actions that dilute, cheapen the quality, pollute, or upset the completeness in relation to marriage violate the covenantal agreement. In so doing we adulterate our own self worth as persons, sell ourselves short on the real meaning of life, and it affects our relationship with God. At issue is the purity of our actions not the prudishness of them. God did not make us to use or to be used by other people. We should love and regard each other as priceless, because we are each in a relationship with God.

  • Don't steal. Today: It is best described as depicting stealing of any kind and sometimes may apply to the duplicity of it, the secrecy of it. Stealing of any kind disrupts relationships. This word was given by God to a forming community that had agreed to live in relationship, first of all, with Him. The penalty was not the main point; the real point was the breech of covenantal relations and the loss of God's presence. People who live in a relationship with God were not to steal from one another. A Thesaurus has dozens of words available to depict stealing. There's really only one way to be honest. Nothing anyone has is really his in any ultimate sense. Everything is God's; we are merely custodians. This is a word that speaks to those who are tempted to misuse their lives to pilfer other people's lives, or to rape the earth. It stems from a vision that is out of focus. What's mine is God's, and we'll share it.

  • Don't bear false witness against your neighbor. Today: In ancient Israel, occasions that demanded truth-telling were in relation to public affairs. Disputes between families involved property, business, and personal injury. If an Israelite had a dispute with someone, he brought his witnesses and spoke before the elders at the main gate. There a decision would be rendered. Witnessing depended on truth-telling. At the heart of this commandment was the knowledge that language is the essence of culture and community life.

  • Don't desire anything that is your neighbor's. Today: The Hebrew word is chamad. Typically, it means "desire, yearn for, covet, lust after someone or something specifically for your own use or gratification." But, some say that this is too broad, too inclusive. It's too strict, too hard. They then argue for a narrower meaning, like connive, saying that it prohibits any practical action that attempts to acquire what belongs to your neighbor. But we have to read the whole commandment. It doesn't say desire is bad; it says desiring what belongs to your neighbor is bad. This is a commandment that deals with root causes. Attitudes affect the way people live. This is like an itch that won't go away. There may also be some significance in the fact that this is the tenth and last of the series. In fact, let's think of this as a summary commandment. The violation of this commandment is like the gateway to the violation of all the others. Because it describes an attitude, it is also unenforceable. How can you enforce against coveting or desire? Who would know? If it were limited to connive, we might be able to see that. But as desire, that is something just between God and us.

These were spiritual guidelines. This was a pattern for living. These were the limits. Everything else was okay. This was not a one-time thing; this was a process. The children of Israel spent the rest of their days figuring out the practical application of those Ten Commandments that they were given at the base of that mountain. They learned how to live with each other, and how to live with God. In a very real sense, we are still learning, too. Our story is very much connected to theirs.

— Mary Jane Chaignot

   
 

Assignments

Young Children: Color the picture of Shep and Lily practicing the Golden Rule.

Older Children: Define forgiveness. Find a story in the Bible to share that shows forgiveness.

Week of January 31-February 6
Memorization verse: Rom 12:21 Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.

  • What does this verse mean to you?
  • Do you ever get angry or upset with people?
  • Do you try to get back at them?
    • What is this verse telling us to do?
  — GAL
   
 
   
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