Use this children’s Sunday School lesson to teach about God’s sovereignty in giving His gifts .
Needed: Bibles, cookies or other small prizes in paper bags
Intro Game #1: Promises, Promises
Set a cookie or small prize in individual paper bags or under individual boxes. In this game show type activity, call one student contestant forward. They are the Prize Giver for the round. That student (the Prize Giver) can then choose two more student contestants to come forward. They are the Promisers.
The Prize Giver chooses one of the bags and, without opening it, asks what the Promisers will do for them if they will give one of them the prize inside the bag. The Promisers can make up anything they want, but they can only promise one thing. The Prize Giver then chooses their favorite promise and gives that student the bag with the prize inside.
Play until every student has had a chance to play both roles and every student has won a prize.
Intro Game #2: Manipulating God
Have the students sit in a circle and throw one of their shoes in the middle of the circle. Choose one student to be It. They pick a shoe and tell the owner to do something to get their shoe back. They can choose a simple task or something silly – anything appropriate for your play area. When the student completes the task, they get their shoe back and then, become It for the next student.
Ask students, If you had a million dollars, what would you buy?
What are some things that you wouldn’t be able to buy even if you had all the money in the whole world? (Love, Heaven, etc.)
(Read Acts 8:9-11.)
“Now for some time a man named Simon had practiced sorcery in the city and amazed all the people of Samaria. He boasted that he was someone great, and all the people, both high and low, gave him their attention and exclaimed, ‘This man is rightly called the Great Power of God.’ They followed him because he had amazed them for a long time with his sorcery.”
The Bible says that people followed Simon because he could do magic. But is magic real? (No.)
Magic isn’t real. When people do magic, they’re just doing tricks to make it look like they’re doing something. It’s not real magic. So, Simon was doing magic tricks, but people thought he was doing real magic.
(Read Acts 8:12-13.)
“But when they believed Philip as he proclaimed the good news of the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women. Simon himself believed and was baptized. And he followed Philip everywhere, astonished by the great signs and miracles he saw.”
Simon, the magician, believed in Jesus when he saw Philip healing people and doing miracles. Do you think Philip was really doing miracles or was he just tricking people and doing magic tricks like Simon was?
Philip was really doing miracles because God was giving him the power to do real miracles. So, Simon saw that Philip was doing real miracles instead of just magic tricks, as he did, and that made him believe in Jesus.
(Read Acts 8:14-19.)
“When the apostles in Jerusalem heard that Samaria had accepted the word of God, they sent Peter and John to Samaria. When they arrived, they prayed for the new believers there that they might receive the Holy Spirit, because the Holy Spirit had not yet come on any of them; they had simply been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Then Peter and John placed their hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit.
“When Simon saw that the Spirit was given at the laying on of the apostles’ hands, he offered them money and said, ‘Give me also this ability so that everyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit.’”
Simon, the magician, offered to give the followers of Jesus money if they would teach him how to give people the Holy Spirit. Why do you think Simon the magician wanted the power to give people the Holy Spirit?
Simon probably wanted the power so that he could make people follow him again. He thought he could use it as one of his magic tricks to make people follow him again. But are we supposed to follow people or follow God? (Follow God.)
And can we buy power from God? (No.)
God gives power to people for free if they really believe in Jesus. He doesn’t give power to people just so that they can be powerful and make people follow them.
(Read Acts 8:20-25.)
“Peter answered: ‘May your money perish with you, because you thought you could buy the gift of God with money! You have no part or share in this ministry, because your heart is not right before God. Repent of this wickedness and pray to the Lord in the hope that He may forgive you for having such a thought in your heart. For I see that you are full of bitterness and captive to sin.’
“Then Simon answered, ‘Pray to the Lord for me so that nothing you have said may happen to me.’
“After they had further proclaimed the word of the Lord and testified about Jesus, Peter and John returned to Jerusalem, preaching the gospel in many Samaritan villages.”
Was Simon sorry for trying to buy power from God? (Yes.)
Simon realized he made a mistake, and God forgave him. Do you think God will forgive you if you make a mistake and say you’re sorry? (Yes.)
God always forgives us if we say we’re sorry.
Game: Manipulating God part 2
Tell students that you’re going to play the intro game again, but that you’re going to be It the whole time and that you’re not going to tell them what they have to do to get their shoe back. They have to make something up, and then, you’ll decide to give their shoe back or not.
Randomly give some kids’ shoe back and refuse to give others’ back. When you refuse, put the shoe back in the pile and choose another.
When every student has had a chance to get their shoe back, ask, Why did I choose to give some of your shoes back but kept the others?
I was showing you that even though you were doing things, you couldn’t make me give your shoe back. I could decide to give your shoe back or not based on whether I wanted to give it back or not.
In the same way, we can’t make God do something. Simon tried to buy the power to give people the Holy Spirit. But people can’t buy things from God. We can’t make God do anything. God chooses what He wants to do. We can pray and ask God to do things, but He doesn’t have to do them. Nothing we do can make God do anything. We can’t control God. God is in control.
Now, I choose to give the rest of you back your shoes.
Father God, we thank You for giving us the Holy Spirit, and we thank You for all the blessings You give us and for listening to our prayers. Help us remember that You are in control and that we can’t buy anything from You or make You do anything. In Jesus’ name we pray, amen.
You can also find this lesson for Kindle or in print in my book, The Rock.