God has a way of using our insecurities for His purpose.
This lesson on Moses will help students see that God often uses our biggest obstacles, mistakes, and flaws to reach those around us… and this school year is no exception.
Use this youth group lesson, based on Exodus 1-5, to help students understand that even though things won’t always be easy, they can choose to be faithful to God.
– Nick Diliberto, Ministry to Youth
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YOUTH GROUP BACK-TO-SCHOOL LESSON
Written by Carrie Busch
Bible: Exodus 1:22-2:10, 5:1-9, 5:19-21
Bottom Line: Even though things won’t always be easy, you can choose to be faithful to God this school year.
OPENING GAME: BRICKS WITHOUT STRAW
- 4 cans of playdough (one per group)
- Ruler or measuring tape (one per group)
- Prize or candy for winners
Divide the students into groups of four.
Give each group a can of playdough.
HOW TO PLAY THE GAME
The goal of each group is to shape the play-dough into tiny bricks (1 in. X 3 in.).
Use your group’s ruler to ensure each of the bricks fits the size requirements.
The team that can mold the most bricks out of playdough in 3 minutes will win the game.
How they accomplish this is up to each team.
They can designate one team member to measure and adjust the brick sizes while the others mold bricks.
This process may mean that your team has fewer bricks by the time the game is over, or it could mean that you end up with more.
They have to decide if this is a risk they are willing to take?
Hand out a prize or candy for the winning team and then direct them to have a seat and get ready for their “Back-To-School” lesson.
Say: Today’s lesson is based around several scriptures in Exodus.
In fact, the game we just played is a reference to a story about Moses and the Israelites… I will tell you more about that later.
You may be wondering what Moses and the Israelites’ have to do with you going back to school.
Well, let’s begin by turning to the Book of Exodus.
Read Exodus 1:22 – 2:10.
Then Pharaoh commanded all his people, “Every son that is born to the Hebrews you shall cast into the Nile, but you shall let every daughter live.”
Now a man from the house of Levi went and took as his wife a Levite woman.
The woman conceived and bore a son, and when she saw that he was a fine child, she hid him three months.
When she could hide him no longer, she took for him a basket made of bulrushes and daubed it with bitumen and pitch.
She put the child in it and placed it among the reeds by the riverbank.
And his sister stood at a distance to know what would be done to him.
Now the daughter of Pharaoh came down to bathe at the river, while her young women walked beside the river.
She saw the basket among the reeds and sent her servant woman, and she took it.
When she opened it, she saw the child, and behold, the baby was crying.
She took pity on him and said, “This is one of the Hebrews’ children.”
Then his sister said to Pharaoh’s daughter, “Shall I go and call you a nurse from the Hebrew women to nurse the child for you?”
And Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, “Go.” So the girl went and called the child’s mother.
And Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, “Take this child away and nurse him for me, and I will give you your wages.”
So the woman took the child and nursed him.
When the child grew older, she brought him to Pharaoh’s daughter, and he became her son. She named him Moses, “Because,” she said, “I drew him out of the water.”
In these verses, we learn about two important events surrounding Moses’ life:
- Moses was born at a time when male Israelite babies were being murdered.
- Instead of what seemed like certain death, Moses was raised by Pharaoh’s daughter instead of his mother.
It’s amazing how God can put His plan into action even when the odds seem impossible.
Now, let’s consider how God could use what seemed like an obstacle and turn it into an advantage.
An Egyptian education was the best around.
Because he grew up in Pharaoh’s household, Moses learned about Egyptian music, art, military tactics, history, among many other topics.
This means that Moses would have understood, because of his Egyptian noble upbringing, the culture of the Pharaoh that he would one day ask for the Israelites’ release from slavery.
And yet, Moses definitely was not the most confident man.
When it came time for Moses to step into the purpose God had for him, we read that Moses responded with fear and uncertainty.
He even pointed out his speech issues to get God to choose someone else for the job.
However, God convinced Moses that He was with him, and Moses eventually acted in obedience.
But… it didn’t go smoothly.
Remember our game… “Bricks Without Straw”?
Let’s take a look at the scripture that this game was based on:
Read Exodus 5:1-9 and 19-21.
After this presentation to Israel’s leaders, Moses and Aaron went and spoke to Pharaoh.
They told him, “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: Let my people go so they may hold a festival in my honor in the wilderness.”
“Is that so?” retorted Pharaoh. “And who is the Lord? Why should I listen to him and let Israel go? I don’t know the Lord, and I will not let Israel go.”
But Aaron and Moses persisted. “The God of the Hebrews has met with us,” they declared.
“So let us take a three-day journey into the wilderness so we can offer sacrifices to the Lord our God. If we don’t, he will kill us with a plague or with the sword.”
Pharaoh replied, “Moses and Aaron, why are you distracting the people from their tasks? Get back to work!
Look, there are many of your people in the land, and you are stopping them from their work.”
That same day Pharaoh sent this order to the Egyptian slave drivers and the Israelite foremen:
“Do not supply any more straw for making bricks. Make the people get it themselves!
But still require them to make the same number of bricks as before.
Don’t reduce the quota.
They are lazy.
That’s why they are crying out, ‘Let us go and offer sacrifices to our God.’
Load them down with more work.
Make them sweat! That will teach them to listen to lies!”
Say: In these verses, Moses (and Aaron) obediently and bravely approached Pharaoh to ask for a three-day journey into the wilderness.
And instead of receiving a “yes,” Pharaoh made the work more difficult!
Don’t we often expect things to go easily if what we’re doing is part of God’s plan?
Imagine how you would feel if you had done such a brave thing only to have the metaphorical door slammed in your face.
And in verses 19-21, it gets worse!
Read Exodus 5:19-21.
The Israelite foremen could see that they were in serious trouble when they were told, “You must not reduce the number of bricks you make each day.”
As they left Pharaoh’s court, they confronted Moses and Aaron, who were waiting outside for them.
The foremen said to them, “May the Lord judge and punish you for making us stink before Pharaoh and his officials.
You have put a sword into their hands, an excuse to kill us!”
The people that Moses is pleading for turned against him because they couldn’t see past their suffering.
In the end, we’re all probably familiar with what happens: eventually, after the plagues and Pharaoh’s loss of his son, he summoned Moses and Aaron and tells the Israelites (finally!) to get out of Egypt.
So, again, what does this have to do with heading back-to-school?
Well, it certainly has nothing to do with school supplies, your new schedule, or even your new classrooms and teachers.
It has everything to do with this school year, though.
Your purpose, not just this year, but every year, is to serve God.
As you enter your middle or high school in the coming week, it may be tempting to follow the crowd and blend in.
But, like Moses, even though you’ll have obstacles and challenges, and even though things might not go smoothly, your goal can’t change.
And if your goal is to serve God, how can you do that?
Well, let’s take a look at the lessons we learned from Moses:
1. When challenges arise in our walk with Christ, it does not mean that God has left us.
It’s hard to think of anyone who had it more difficult than Moses.
And he didn’t do everything well either.
There were lots of bumps and bruises, but ultimately, Moses trusted that God’s plan would work.
Don’t make the mistake of quitting when challenges arise, thinking “God must not be in this.”
American cultural Christianity would tell you that if God “is in it,” then things will work out smoothly and quickly.
This is a lie.
Dedicate your year to the Lord, and make your mind up now that it won’t be easy, but that you will remain obedient.
2. Your inadequacies don’t have any effect on how God can use you.
Moses said he was “slow of speech,” and yet he was the one (along with Aaron) that God chose to defend the Israelites and plead their case to the most powerful man in Egypt.
This year, you may think that your inadequacies or insecurities make you unusable for the kingdom of God.
This couldn’t be further from the truth.
Spend some time in the Word studying mighty men of God, just like Moses, and you’ll see that God has a way of using our insecurities for His purpose.
He gets the glory, and you get to be part of His plan and purpose.
3. Your obedience might be confusing to others, but don’t let them stop you.
In Moses’ case, the people he was trying to help turned on him.
The heart of man can change so quickly!
But Moses stuck to the plan.
Sure, he probably had about a thousand doubts, but he heard from the Lord, and that was enough to keep him going even when the naysayers jeered at him.
So, you may be wondering… how can I know what to do when there is no burning bush and no voice of God telling me the plan?
Well, we have something that Moses didn’t have: God’s Word.
When you question your purpose and identity in Christ, go to God’s Word to hear what He has to say.
Better yet, go to God’s Word every day of this school year, and your desires and heart will transform.
You won’t question your mission if you spend time reading about how God used the men and women who came before you.
Our most significant takeaway from Moses’ life should be this: when we follow God and are set apart for His purpose, things won’t be easy, but they’ll be worth it.
You have a purpose in Christ this year and every year, and God can give you the strength to start walking in it.
Close in prayer.
SMALL GROUP DISCUSSION QUESTIONS
1. Have you ever done something with good intentions and received nothing but blame or ridicule? How did you handle it?
2. What are some of the challenges you may face this year as you prioritize obedience to Christ?
3. What kind of mindset do you need to deal with these challenges?
4. Who should you go to when things get tough?
5. What should be the mission of every Christian?
How have you taken practical steps toward that mission?
6. If you are just starting, what are some “first steps” that you’ll have to take to walk in obedience to God?
7. Have you believed the lie that when God answers prayers, He makes things smooth and easy?
Think of someone (from the Bible, history, or current day) who followed the Lord despite lots of challenges and suffering. Share with the group.
8. Think of another biblical person who was insecure in his or her calling.
How did that person deal with this insecurity, and how did God use him or her anyway?
9. Think of a goal that you’ve reached in the past.
Did it require sacrifice? Suffering?
Share your story with the group to encourage others about the difficulty and reward of attaining a goal.
10. How can each of the people in this group support each other and hold each other accountable this year?
Make a list of ways you can help one another and be intentional about encouraging each other to follow God this year.
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