1 Peter 3:13-22, New International Reader's Version (NIRV)
13Who is going to hurt you if you really want to do good? 14 But suppose you do suffer for doing what is right. Even then you will be blessed. Scripture says, “Don’t fear what others say they will do to hurt you. Don’t be afraid.” (Isaiah 8:12) 15 But make sure that in your hearts you honor Christ as Lord. Always be ready to give an answer to anyone who asks you about the hope you have. Be ready to give the reason for it. But do it gently and with respect. 16 Live so that you don’t have to feel you’ve done anything wrong. Some people may say evil things about your good conduct as believers in Christ. If they do, they will be put to shame for speaking like this about you. 17 God may want you to suffer for doing good. That’s better than suffering for doing evil. 18 Christ also suffered once for sins. The one who did what is right suffered for those who don’t do right. He suffered to bring you to God. His body was put to death. But the Holy Spirit brought him back to life. 19 After that, Christ went and made an announcement to the spirits in prison. 20 Long ago these spirits did not obey. That was when God was patient while Noah was building the ark. And only a few people went into the ark. In fact, there were only eight. Those eight people were saved through water. 21 The water of the flood is a picture. It is a picture of the baptism that now saves you too. This baptism has nothing to do with removing dirt from your body. Instead, it promises God that you will keep a clear sense of right and wrong. This baptism saves you by the same power that raised Jesus Christ from the dead. 22 He has gone into heaven. He is at God’s right hand. Angels, authorities, and powers are under his control.
Small sponge in a brown paper sack.
I wonder what is in the bag this week. (Open to reveal a small sponge.) Do you know what this is? (Allow children to answer.) That’s’ right; this is a sponge. What are sponges used for and what do they do? (Allow children to respond.)
Sponges soak up liquid, but what happens when all the liquid is soaked up, and we squeeze the sponge? (Allow children to answer.).
I wonder if we as humans ever get “squeezed” in life? If so, how? Do you ever feel the pressure of life, or “squeezed?” (Allow children to answer.). That’s right, when others, friends, parents, or teachers pressure us to do something. It may simply be pressure to do something because we simply don’t have time to do everything. When we feel that way, we may let our anger or frustration build up until we can’t hide it any longer, and then we act out. When we have too many responsibilities and feel overwhelmed with feelings of not being able to do everything. When bad things or suffering happen in our life. Those are all times when we feel squeezed.
Sometimes, we “squeeze ourselves” and put pressure on ourselves. Can you share a time when you put a lot of pressure on yourself? (Allow children to respond.) There is a lot of pressure on certain situations in our lives, isn’t there? How we deal with the pressure others put on us and how we deal with pressure we put on ourselves might look different. For example, our teachers want us to do well on the next test we have, as do our parents. We study hard; we prepare ourselves, but the pressure from the teacher and our parent might seem less than the pressure we put on ourselves to make a perfect score on the test. Our coach wants us to make every free throw on the basketball team every time we shoot one in a game. But the pressure we put on ourselves to make every shot might be even more than the coach puts on us.
All these situations continue to “fill” our sponge, don’t they? (Allow children to affirm.)
When we squeezed the sponge, what came out? Liquid that we soaked up. So, if we get squeezed, what comes out? Whatever is soaked up in us, that is what will come out.
For example, if we have a bad attitude or negative thoughts, when squeezed, we will demonstrate anger and hateful words. We will show actions that do not bring glory or honor to God. However, if we spend time being filled with God’s love and grace, when “squeezed,” we will bring out good things like love, joy, peace, patience, and other fruits of the Spirit.
This week, I want you to think about what is being soaked up in you. And I wonder when squeezed, what will come out of you? Keep track of times this week when you feel squeezed; make a note in your mind of what came out of you. Tell me about it the next time I see you. Share your stories of feeling squeezed with someone in your family and talk to them about how your actions and attitudes, both good and bad, can affect people around you. How can you find places this week to talk about your feelings about those moments of being “squeezed” this week? Whom can you talk to? We can’t just get squeezed and squeezed until we’re dry. We also need to soak up good stuff again. How can you talk to someone about those opportunities to soak up God’s love? Do you have someone to share those moments when you feel God’s love surrounding you? Think of someone in your life that you feel comfortable sharing those feelings. And then . . . share them.
God of love. Help us soak up your love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, and goodness; and when we feel squeezed in life, allow us to share our faith in you with a loving and respectful attitude. I pray in your name, Amen.