Note to the Teacher
The key phrase in this scripture (for this lesson) is “Open her heart.” The ice breaker is fun and helps students consider the difference it can make in going to the source of a message for truth. The discussion encourages students to consider the importance of knowing God’s voice and how we can know that over and above other voices. The activity allows students to consider risk and reward and the importance of opening our hearts to Godly risks. Times are based on a fifty-minute lesson period but may be adjusted.
1. Ice Breaker: Telephone (10 minutes)
Play the class game of “telephone.” All students sit in a circle; give a piece of paper to one student with a sentence or two on it. That student cannot show the paper to anyone else. The student then whispers what was on the paper discreetly into the ear of the student to the right, who has to then repeat it to the student on his or her right. This goes all the way around the circle until it reaches the last student, who must say what he/she heard out loud for everyone to hear. This game works online if you have everyone except for the speaker and the listener turn their audio volume down to zero. The speaker should also still whisper and say the phrase only once. The leader can type the order that the message must pass through in the chat.
The phrase almost always changes from the beginning to the end of the circle.
Here are some suggestions of phrases to use:
- The crow flies at midnight (easier)
- I like to watch football. It’s fun to watch by the bay with a breeze on my back. (medium)
- There once was a whale named Willy. Willy had a whale-sized tail and would whack the water with it. When wackos wanted to watch, they would always get wet. (harder)
To make it a little more interesting, try letting students mingle and raise their hand once someone has whispered the phrase to them or encourage everyone to have a conversation while the phrase is being passed.
2. Read Scripture (5 minutes)
Our scripture reading today happens as Paul and his companions are taking the gospel message to Gentile areas, those areas traditionally outside of Jewish areas. They have important news to tell regarding a decision that was made by the Christians in a council in Jerusalem regarding the inclusion of non-Jewish believers.
Read Acts 16:9-15.
3. Discussion (15 minutes)
Paul has had a vision from God. How do you think he felt about this vision?
- Why do you think Paul wasted no time in going to Macedonia? Wouldn’t it have been smart to make some plans and take some provisions?
- How do you think Paul knows that this vision he had is from God and not just a feeling about something he thought should happen?
- What do you think Paul thought when he first met Lydia? Do you think that he was thinking that she was going to become a fellow follower of Jesus Christ?
Read Proverbs 2:1-5.
- How can we “make our ear attentive to wisdom” or “incline our hearts to understanding”?
- How do we discern whether or not what we are hearing or seeing is from God, or if it is just something from within us, or perhaps something evil?
- How could regularly opening our hearts to God’s Word have an impact on our being able to discern God’s voice from other voices?
- As we saw a couple of lessons ago, how might our community of faith help us discern whether or not something is of God?
The Bible says that God’s word is “living and active” (Hebrews 4:12-13, ESV). It is truth and something we must read and study every day. The more we open our hearts to God’s Word, the more we know God’s heart and are able to discern God’s voice from others. Likewise, reading with others is a great way to gain new perspectives and check our personal understandings.
4. Activity and Discussion (20 minutes)
Have students pair up and compete against each other in “rock, paper, scissors”. Give the winner of each pair a full-sized candy bar (pay attention to food allergies before playing this game). Tell the students who won that they have a choice: they can either quit the game and end with the candy bar they have already been given, or they can risk their candy bar and compete in another round of “rock, paper, scissors” with another student who won the first round. Those who choose to compete will do so, and the winner will take the loser’s candy bar, ending up with two candy bars. The game continues until just one student is left with all the candy bars, or they all decide not to compete and stay with the candy bars they have. This activity can also be done online; just figure out how to deliver the rewards!
If an odd number of students decide to compete in a round, then have one of them compete against you as the leader. If the student loses, then you get to keep the candy bars.
This activity is meant to teach students about risk and reward. Debrief by asking questions like:
- Why did you feel you could risk the candy bar?
- How do we take risks in our faith life?
- Are there ways that we try and avoid risk, especially when it comes to our faith or sharing our faith?
Say something like: “Sometimes we need to open our hearts and take risks for God, much like Paul did in this story in Acts 16. Had he not taken the risk and left for Macedonia, Lydia would never have heard the gospel message. It is important, though, to know God’s Word, so we can know God’s voice when taking risks. Much like the ice breaker game of ‘telephone,’ we can easily misunderstand and get confused if we don’t hear the source of a message. In our case, if we aren’t spending time with God regularly, we can confuse God’s voice with voices around us.”
Total time: 50 minutes
- Paper and pen to write phrases for telephone
- Full size candy bars
Verses marked ESV are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.