Psalm Series 2: God Forgives You
by S. A. Keith

   
   

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This lesson is formatted to cover two, one hour sessions. Includes: a Yummy Devotion: "Prayer Pretzels", a Craft: "Soap Cross", and two Bible Games: "Clean Heart", and "Repent". All activities are printed below.

Session 1: Sing songs*. Present the lesson and memory verse. Make the craft.
Session 2: Sing songs. Review the lesson and memory verse. Play the Bible game. (When I review a lesson I give the children an opportunity to tell me one thing they remember. If they're able to recall one idea, and not repeat someone else's answer, I reward them with a piece of candy. I know this method of rewarding is considered controversial by some, but I find it very effective in keeping the children focused during review time.)

* Some modern Praise-Psalms to sing with this lesson are, "Create In Me A Clean Heart",  "I Will Sing Of the Mercies of the LORD", and "The LORD Is My Shepherd".

 


Object Lesson: God forgives you and cleanses you. 

(Before the lesson draw a large heart on a chalkboard.) 

In today's lesson we will learn that God forgives us and cleanses us. (As you say the Bible point, have children use these motions: Forgives: Hold palms together, horizontal to the ground, then slide top palm forward. Cleanses: wipe hands as if washing them.)

What is sin? (Allow children to answer) Sin is anything we say, think, or do, that is not pleasing to God. It is saying, thinking, and doing wrong things. Imagine someone trying to aim an arrow at a target. He or she takes aim, but misses the bull's eye. This is missing the mark. Sin is missing the mark of God's perfection. The Bible uses a lot of different words for sin: transgressions, iniquities, offenses, evil, wrongdoing, and wickedness to name a few. 

Psalm 51 is a Prayer-Psalm written by King David after he committed a terrible sin against God. David was heartsick and repentant over his sin and pleaded with God for his forgiveness. In all probability he lay prostrate on the ground when he prayed this prayer. (Have a child demonstrate this by laying stretched out, flat on the ground, on his or her tummy)  To be repentant means to be going in one direction, see that you are going in the wrong direction, then turn and go in the right direction. (Illustrate this point by walking one way, then turning and walking in the opposite direction.)

Read Psalm 51:1-13, 17 - As you read, ask the children to listen for the different names for sin that are mentioned. Also have them listen for the different ways God cleanses a sinner. 

Enrichment Idea: Have kids pinch their noses shut when they hear words or phrases which speak of sin and make hand-washing motions for words of cleansing and forgiveness.

"Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me. Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you are proved right when you speak and justified when you judge. Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me. Surely you desire truth in the inner parts; you teach me wisdom in the inmost place. Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones you have crushed rejoice. Hide your face from my sins and blot out all my iniquity. Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me. Then I will teach transgressors your ways, and sinners will turn back to you. (vs.17) The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.

What are some sins that a boy or girl your age might do? What are some sins an adult might do? (Allow the children to name off sins. Write them on the inside of the heart as you go.) Look how these sins crowd the heart. There is no room for God. In fact, God cannot be near sin because he is HOLY. He is perfect. Because we are sinners, we miss the mark of God's perfection, his holy way.  As a result, we cannot be allowed into God's presence and cannot live with him in Heaven. Unless of course we are forgiven for and cleansed from our sins. 

This is why Jesus came down from heaven. He knew we could not get rid of sin without his help. He knew we needed to be forgiven. Jesus died in our place. He took the punishment we deserved for doing wrong things. When you ask Jesus to forgive you, he will cleanse you of all your sin. He will wipe them away! (Erase the sins on the chalkboard.) Then you can live in God's holy presence for all eternity! Verse 17 says, "...a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise." This means when you admit you've done wrong (confess) and you are sorry for your sins, God will forgive you.

Memory Verse: "Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me." 
Psalm 51:10. Optional:
Act out motions to Psalm 51:10. (Allow the children to help create and agree on the motions.)

Suggested Prayer: Dear Jesus, thank you that you died for me and have forgiven me of my sins. I want you to be my Savior and Forever Friend. Thank you for forgiving me and cleansing me. Keep me from sinning, from doing wrong things. Help me to follow you always. Amen.

Copyright 2002 Sarah Keith

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"God Forgives You" is one of three lessons in a series of "Psalms Lessons". 
The other two lessons are, "God Knows You", and "God Makes You Grow" 
Get them on the Sermons and Object lessons page. Click here.

 




Craft-Yummy Devotion: Prayer Pretzels

Pretzels were originally made by monks to ease their hunger during Lenten fasting. They shaped them to resemble crossed arms in prayer. The pretzels were made with flour and water and no yeast because in the Bible yeast symbolizes sin. The pretzel reminds us of our need to rid the sin in our own lives, and our need to repent and turn to Jesus for cleansing from sin. (See also: 1Corinthians 5:6-8.) 

As Christians we need to examine our lives everyday. We need to ask God to show us our sins: "Search us, O God..." as Psalm 139 requests, and to receive God's cleansing: "Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin..." as in Psalm 51.  

What you do: Use ready-made breadstick dough in a can. Roll the dough into 12"-15" long ropes. Do not overwork the dough; otherwise it becomes difficult to shape. To shape the pretzel: Begin by making a 'smile-shape' with the dough. Take one end of the dough, the 'arm', and fold it down over the middle of the 'smile', overlapping just a bit. Do the same with the other 'arm'. Sprinkle with coarse grained salt. (or sugar) Bake dough according to directions. (The smile-shape reminds us that when we are forgiven of our sins, our lives are gladdened! See vs.12.)

While the Prayer Pretzels bake, play a pantomime game using the following words or phrases from
Psalm 51: God - love - you - sins - cleanse - evil - joy - hide - wash - face - broken -  heart - blot out
- cast me not away -  inner parts. Have one person act out the word or phrase. (He or she must say if it is a word or phrase before acting it out.) The person that guesses correctly acts out the next word or phrase. When you're finished playing the game, eat your Prayer Pretzels.

Optional Craft: Soap Cross

Hold up a bar of soap and ask the children what it is used for. Yes, it is used to clean away the dirt. In today's lesson we learned about asking God to clean away the sin in our lives so we can live with him in Heaven. This craft will help to remind us that Jesus died on the cross to cleanse us from our sins.

What you need: A bar of Ivory Soap for each crafter (other brands do not work as well), a plastic picnic knife, a toothpick. Have a few extra bars on hand in case the soap breaks during carving.

What you do: Draw an outline of a cross on the soap. Make the cross bars approximately 1-1/2" wide. Whittle away the soap a little bit at a time. DO NOT attempt to cut all the way through at one time. Cut slowly and carefully, otherwise the soap will break apart. Once the cross is carved, place it under running water and smooth out the edges. Scrape the name "Ivory" off the soap. Using a toothpick, carve a heart at the center, or write, "JESUS" across and down the center. (The middle letter "S" in Jesus should be placed at the center of the cross.)

Copyright 2002 Sarah Keith

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Game Idea: Clean Heart

Set Up: Designate a large playing area. If possible cordon off the play area into the shape of a heart. Fill the 'heart' with items of various sizes and shapes to represent sin (ie. cones, scarves, cups, rolled up newspaper, boxes, etc.) Establish a start line 15'-30' away from the point of the 'heart'.  

How To Play: Divide players into teams. (No more than 5 players per team) Tell the players the playing area represents a heart (a life) filled with sin. Have the teams line up at the start line. At the go the first player on each team must run into the heart and remove one item. Then run back to his or her team line to drop of the item "a sin", then tag off to the next player line. Next player in line takes his or her turn. Play continues like this until all the 'sins' are removed.

How To Win: The team with the most sins removed from the heart is the winning team.

After the Game Discussion: All those items we collected represented the sins in our lives. Some were big 'sins' and some were small 'sins'. We sometimes look at our own sins as big and small sins too. Telling a lie or being unkind, we might consider to be a small sin, verses stealing something or killing someone. Those we would think of as big sins! However, God doesn't measure sin like that. God tells us that ALL sin is wrong and that ALL sins, big and small, separate us from his holy presence, and deserve to be punished. The only way we can rid ourselves of sin is to trust in Jesus to save us and forgive us. Jesus died in our place to take the punishment that we deserve for sinning. When we believe Jesus did that for us, and we ask him to forgive us, we are forgiven, and our hearts are cleansed.

(Reference verses: Romans 3:23, Romans 6:23, and Romans 10:9-10.)

Optional Game: Repent

Set Up: Designate a large playing area. Begin with one player, the opposing player, at one end of the playing area. (Represents the wrong way.) Have the other players lock arms and line up at the opposite side of the playing area, the starting line. (Represents the right way.)

How To Play:  At the go, the players locking arms must walk quickly towards the other side of the playing field, the wrong way, until the teacher yells, "Repent!", at which time players unlock arms, turn around, and run back to the starting line before the opposing player can tag them. Any players which are tagged must go to the opposing side of the playing area to join the opposing side. Play continues like this until one player is left on the 'right' side of the field.

The opposing players may heckle the other players by saying, "Come on over to our side. You know this looks like fun." The opposing player(s) may not move forward to tag the other players until the word "Repent" is yelled out. During play the teacher may tease the players moving in the wrong direction and say, "You're going in the wrooong direction! God doesn't want you to go that way in life, but you are not listening to him. The wrong way can look like fun sometimes, but in the end it leads to your doom! You know you need to...REPENT!" (The tension rises for each child as they come closer and closer to the opposing side.) 

How To Win: The last player left standing on the right side of the playing area is the winner. (You may decide to make it the last 2 players standing, 3 players, etc.)

After The Game Discussion:

This is a fun way to remember what it means to repent. (Repent means to recognize you're moving in the wrong direction, turn around in the opposite direction and move in the right direction towards God's way.) But unlike our game which required you to be able to run the fastest to keep away from the wrong way, God has promised to give you the power and the strength to turn from the wrong way in life and to follow his way. Psalm 51:10 says, Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. When you are steadfast, you are determined or committed to the task. When you are God's child, he will give you the willpower to be steadfast when you ask him for help.

Suggested Prayer: Dear Jesus,  thank you for cleansing me and forgiving me. Please keep me from going the wrong way in life, and give me the willpower and the strength to follow your way. Amen.

Copyright 2002 Sarah Keith

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