Choose from the song time selections (suggestions included in book).
Enrichment Idea: Gettin' Empty
Present various items to the class which are empty such as an empty bag of cookies, an empty piggy bank or an empty jewelry box. Create anticipation for the kids to see what's inside. Ask, "What do you expect to find? Who wants to be the first to open one of them up?" (You might allow a few kids to come open them.) "Did you expect to find them empty? Is being empty ever a good thing?" Most often we like things to be filled up. When we go on a trip, we want our gas tanks filled. When we're hungry we want our stomachs filled. When we get a box of candy, we want candy in it. In fact, I can't think of anything that when empty, it's a good thing!
When Jesus began his teaching, he said, "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." What do you think of when you hear of someone being poor? (Discuss)
When we think of being poor, we think of someone who doesn't have a lot of money or nice clothing or food to eat or who doesn't live in a nice home, but this isn't what Jesus is talking about. Being poor in spirit means realizing we're spiritually broke. We're poor on the inside. The Bible tells us that man looks at the outside of a person, but God looks at the heart. So if getting into the kingdom of heaven means you must first be poor in spirit, what do you think Jesus means? (Discuss)
Being poor in spirit is realizing that we have nothing without Jesus. Our "spiritual piggy bank" is empty! We also have nothing we can give to Jesus. It is understanding that we are completely sinful and do wrong, and that nothing in and of ourselves choose to follow God's ways. The Bible says it like this, "There is no one who does right, not even one person" (Romans 3:10). And, "All of our ways of doing right are like dirty rags in God's sight" (Isaiah 64:6). In other words, being poor in spirit means we are completely lost and empty without Jesus. It is knowing that we do not deserve God's approval, his salvation or his forgiveness. It is also realizing we can't work our way to earning God's favor and approval either. Another way to say Jesus' statement could be said like this, "Blessed, favored or approved by God, are the empty ones, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." So, being empty, or poor in spirit, is exactly what Jesus wants from us. He wants us to see our emptiness, and then ask him to fill us with himself. The immediate benefit of being poor in Spirit is being forgiven of our sins, and then being filled with God's Spirit and love--we become rich in God! The eternal benefit of being poor in spirit is being able to enter God's heavenly kingdom.
Read Luke 15:11-32 from a child-friendly Bible or use the following enrichment idea.
Enrichment Idea - Skit: The Prodigal Son
Narrator reads the script and the actors follow the italicized instructions. (Prodigal means reckless, wasteful, uncontrolled.)
Actors: Narrator, Father, Younger Son.
Props: Fake or real money.
Narrator: "There was a man who had two sons. The younger one said to his father, 'Father, give me my share of the estate.' So he divided his property and gave half to his younger son."
Father, give the younger son half your money.
Narrator: The younger son decided he didn't want to live with his father, so he took the money and ran off to a distant land.
Take the money and run away, Younger Son.
Narrator: While he was away, the younger son got into all kinds of trouble and spent all the money his father had given him doing all sorts of bad things. Now he was broke and tired and hungry!
Look broke and tired and hungry, Younger Son.
Narrator: The younger son decided to find a job, but the only job he could find was feeding pigs.
Say, "Yuk!", Younger Son.
Narrator: Eventually the younger son got so hungry that even the pig's food started to look good to him!
Say, "Yum!", Younger Son.
(The rest of the skit is available with book purchase.)
In this story the younger son came to his senses and realized he was empty and lost without his father, he was poor in spirit. This story teaches us that when we wander away from God, then we too will find ourselves lost and empty, but the question is, "What will you fill your life with?" Will you empty all the things in your life that trouble you or that take up your time and energy and occupy your thoughts? Will you empty all those things that take you away from God or will you fill your life with Jesus? What things could take us away from Jesus? (Discuss)
Sin separates us from God. However, there are other things in our lives that can take us away from God too. They might not be bad in and of themselves, such as playing sports or hanging out with our friends, but we must not put anything or anyone ahead of, or in place of, God. Jesus said we must be poor in spirit; we must empty ourselves in order to enter his kingdom. When we do this, it is the beginning of trusting him and following him. If our "attitudes" are to be like Jesus' attitudes, then this is the first step to understanding all the rest of what Jesus has to say to us. Jesus died on the cross for us, because he knows we are empty without him; he wants to welcome us into his heavenly home, and fill us with his love, so we are rich in him!
Discussion Questions (Available with book purchase.)
"Dear Jesus, without you we are lost, empty and poor. Help us to fill our lives with you, and do and say those things that please you. Amen."
"Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." Matthew 5:3
(Use one of the memory verse activities to score memorized verses (Available with book purchase.)
Craft: Empty Yourself Sand-Timer (Pattern and directions included with book purchase.)
This craft reminds us to be empty (poor in spirit) so God can fill us with his love. Just for fun, use the sand-timers to race against the clock to recite the Be-Attitudes memory verse(s).
Game: Empty Buckets (Available with book purchase.)
BONUS Craft & Game Activity: Make N' Play "Catch The Beatitudes"
Who will score the most points? Opposing player chooses a number, then player holding the catcher counts out his or her selection while moving the catcher open and closed. Opposing player chooses a number again, doing the same. The number chosen the third time is the Beatitude to read for that round of play. Player holding catcher reads the first part of the Beatitude and the opposing player must say the rest of the beatitude to score a point.
(A black & white pattern is included with book purchase. The full-color Beatitudes Catcher pattern is available as a separate purchase)
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