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Bible: John 15:5, Galatians 5:20:22–23, Proverbs 16:32, Matthew 5:43–48
Bottom Line: Stay connected to Jesus and good stuff comes out of your life.
OPENING GAME: KEEP IT UP
- Masking tape
- 2–3 beach balls (more if your group is large)
Split the group into two even teams and mark a line down the middle of the playing area with masking tape. Each group takes one side of the playing area.
Players spread out wherever they want on their side.
The game will consist of beach balls being thrown (or hit) and caught between the two sides.
Players attempt to keep the balls moving and not allow the balls to hit the ground on their side of the playing area.
If a ball hits the ground, the opposing team is awarded points.
The team that has the most points at the end of the game wins.
- If your group is large, consider adding more beach balls.
- If your group is really big, consider dividing it into four parts instead of two.
After the game, say:
In life, we often react to others in the same way we are treated.
If your brother hits you, you hit him back. If your parents yell at you, you yell back.
Sort of like what happened in the game we just played.
If one team hit the ball hard, the other team reacted by hitting it hard too.
If one team got real competitive, the other team did too.
Today, we’re going to explore how we can react differently to others.
We’re going to discover how we can break the cycle.
If someone is mean to us, we’re going to learn the secret to how we can react in love rather than hate.
Let’s get started!
- Jar of small pickles
- A few trash bags
- Bag of large marshmallows
- Good, ripe fruit
- Rotten fruit
Say: To get started today, I need two volunteers.
Choose two volunteers to come up front. Have them stand about 10 feet apart.
Give one volunteer an open jar of pickles.
Put a trash bag over the other preteen (so their clothes don’t get pickle juice on them).
Place trash bag or plastic sheeting over the floor where the volunteer is standing.
Give the volunteer an open bag of large marshmallows.
The volunteer then attempts to throw a pickle into the mouth of the other volunteer.
Next, the other volunteer attempts to throw a marshmallow into the mouth of the other volunteer.
They must stay 10 feet apart while throwing the items. Continue, throwing a pickle and marshmallow.
Keep track of how many marshmallows and pickles land in the mouth of a volunteer.
After the activity, congratulate each volunteer for their effort and ask the audience to give them a round of applause.
Believe it or not, if someone throws a smelly pickle at our faces, we can learn to throw a soft delicious marshmallow back at them!
What do I mean by that? I mean that it is possible for us to react in love rather than anger.
We can forgive rather than seek revenge. But, we can’t do it by ourselves.
Let’s look up a verse in the Bible that helps explain this.
Read Galatians 5:22–23 (NCV):
But the Spirit produces the fruit of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. There is no law that says these things are wrong.
What do you think these verses means? (Get responses)
A lot of times people misunderstand these verses.
They think God is saying to be full of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. God is saying more than that.
He is saying that those characteristics are formed in our lives when we stay connected to Jesus.
Let’s take a look at another verse that will help us understand this concept.
Read John 15:5 (NCV):
I am the vine, and you are the branches. If any remain in me and I remain in them, they produce much fruit. But without me they can do nothing.
Jesus is saying that a branch needs to stay connected to the vine in order for fruit to grow. Good fruit will naturally come out of a branch that is connected to the vine.
[Show good, ripe fruit]
The branch doesn’t need to try and create the fruit in its own power. Its job is to stay connected to the vine.
When it does, good fruit will be produced. Like this fruit I’m holding in my hand.
Jesus is saying that we are like the branch. Our goal is to stay connected to Jesus.
If we stay close to him in our everyday lives, then good fruit will come out of us.
The good fruit is the characteristics we read about in Galatians 5:22–23 – love, patience, kindness, goodness, etc.
Like a branch can’t make the fruit, we can’t simply choose to be loving, patience, kind, good, faithful, gentle, and have self-control.
It’s the Holy Spirit’s job to create those characteristics in our lives. Our job is to stay connected to Jesus.
When we do, good characteristics flow out of us.
We find ourselves naturally reacting to the bully at school with love and compassion. We are more likely to forgive our friends. We are more patient.
Sure, it’s a choice we make. But ultimately, it’s God working through us to make us more like Him.
[Show bad fruit]
So, what happens when we don’t take the time and effort to stay connected to Jesus?
Well, bad stuff comes out of our lives. Much like if you were to break off a branch from the vine, the fruit goes bad.
Our lives begin to look like rotten fruit, like in this fruit I’m holding. Yuck.
The Bible actually talks about what this bad fruit looks like.
Read Galatians 5:20 (NCV):
…worshiping gods, doing witchcraft, hating, making trouble, being jealous, being angry, being selfish, making people angry with each other, causing divisions among people…
So, when we’re feeling jealous, angry, and selfish or causing drama around us, those things are the bad stuff coming out of our lives because we are not connected to Jesus.
We’re unconnected to Him.
We’re not spending time with God in prayer, worship or allowing God to speak to us from the Bible.
Today’s bottom line – Stay connected to Jesus and good stuff comes out of your life.
When we choose to surrender our lives to Jesus, the pollution of sin in our lives is cleaned up.
We now have an opportunity for good stuff to come out of our lives.
We have an opportunity to live the way God wants us to live.
We won’t be perfect. We’ll mess up often. That’s just a part of being human.
In order to have good stuff come out of our lives, we have to stay connected to Jesus.
When we do, the Holy Spirit will make us more loving, kind, patient, etc.
We’ll be able to return a sour pickle with a soft marshmallow.
We’ll be able to react differently than we were treated.
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