Sunday, July 22, 2012

Psalm 23: My Good Shepherd is with me through the darkest valleys

1. Lesson (based on Psalm 23:4)
  • HOOK: Shadow Guessing Game
    • Show kids some shadows and get them to guess what the real objects are. You can either show them on powerpoint or use a white cloth with a bright light behind.  Do choose age-appropriate images/shadows, e.g. more difficult for older kids etc.
    •  Guessing shadows are fun. But sometimes, shadows can seem strange and even a bit scary. Especially at night. But they are just black shades that are caused when something blocks out light. The shadows cannot harm us or hurt us. And when we are in broad day light, we don’t have to be afraid of shadows at all.
    • When we have the Light of the World in our lives, we don’t have to be afraid of any shadows any more.
    • Jesus is the Light of the World. And He drives away the darkness and the shadows in our lives. When we have Jesus, we don’t have to be afraid of anything. 
  • Psalm 23:4
    • So far, in Psalm 23, we’ve learnt about the Good Shepherd who
      • provides everything we need
      • invites us to rest in Him
      • gives us new life
      • guides us along the right paths
      • <Get kids to revise Psalm 23:1-3 with actions>
    • Today we’re going to look at verse 4.
      Even though I walk

      through the darkest valley,
      I will fear no evil,
      for you are with me;
      your rod and your staff,

      they comfort me.
    •  From time to time, we would pass through dark valleys.
    • What are valleys? Valleys are the low-lying areas between hills and mountains. <Example of the letter “M” where the middle part is like a valley>
    • The top of the mountains and hills are bright places because the sun shines on them. But the valleys are usually darker because the sunlight is blocked by the mountains. Some valleys can be really scary and spooky, especially when the mist starts coming in.
    • Sheep walking through the dark valley are also very vulnerable because other animals (lions, hyenas etc) may be hiding in the cliffs, waiting to attack them. And in a narrow valley, it may not be easy to run or hide.
    • Sometimes, it may seem like we are passing through dark valleys in our lives. It may be a big challenge in school, or a problem at home, or a loved one who is very sick. We may feel exposed and vulnerable, scared and lonely. There does not seem to be a light at the end of the tunnel, or in this case, valley. No hope.
    • But when our Good Shepherd is with us, we know He will always protect us and see us through the dark valley safely. No problem is too big or too difficult for Him.

    • We do NOT need to fear any sort of evil because He is WITH us. 
    • That’s the biggest reason why we don’t have to fear, because Jesus is with us. 
    • Sometimes we don’t see Him, but He’s there! He’s with us — He may be behind us. He may be beside us. He may be in front of us. But He never leaves us. Ever. <can illustrate by getting a kid to stand in front of you. Kid may not be able to see you, but you are still with the kid>
    •  His rod and his staff are there to comfort us.
      • The rod: Big, long stick to ward/chase off attackers and to guide sheep to the right way 
      • The staff: Hooked long stick to rescue sheep and to lift them up if they fall down.
    • Comfort: We have the assurance to know that our Good Shepherd is always with us. He will never leave us nor forsake us. He will protect us from all harm and danger.

< for older classes>
    • Some versions of the Bible call these dark valleys the “valley of the shadow of death”.
      • Sometimes the valley may seem deadly.  Sometimes our biggest fear is that we lose our lives.
      • But in this life, death is only a shadow. 
        • E.g. Say a big truck is driving on the highway. The sun is shining on one side, casting a dark shadow of the truck on the other side. Imagine you are in a car that is driving on the other side. You will pass through the shadow of the truck. You are not actually crashing into the truck, just passing through its shadow, and the shadow will not hurt you.
      • Because of Jesus, even when we die on this earth, we do not have to fear.  We are just passing on to a better place with Jesus, where there is no more pain or sorrow … or valleys.
      • When we have Jesus, the Good Shepherd, we have eternal life in us. Jesus has defeated death. Death has NO victory and NO sting. (1 Cor 15:55)
  • So today, we learn that:
    • Our Good Shepherd is with us through the darkest valleys
    • He protects and keeps us safe with His rod and staff
    • We do not need to fear anything because He is near.

 2. Suggested Activities:
  • Memory Verse with actions: Psalm 23:1-4
     Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
    He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters,
    He refreshes my soul.

    He guides me
     along the right paths for his name’s sake.

    Even though I walk
     through the darkest valley,
    I will fear no evil, 
    for you are with me;
    your rod and your staff,
     they comfort me.

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