Big Idea: When facing tough circumstances, trust God instead of complaining. Be a thankster, not a crankster!
Scripture: Numbers 13-14; Philippians 2:14
Memory Verse: “Do everything without complaining or arguing.” Philippians 2:14
Parent Prep: Read the story in Numbers 13-14 and become familiar with it. The Israelites are in a position to leave the wilderness and cross into the promised land. God has promised to give them the land, but the Israelites do not trust God and begin to grumble and complain. Joshua and Caleb trust God to give them the new land, so their lives are spared and they are allowed to enter the land. The other 10 men who were responsible for spreading the bad report (Num. 14:37) and started complaining were struck down with a plague.
Step 1: Tell the story of the 12 explorers. You can read/summarize directly from Numbers 13-14, or you can just tell the story. Include the report of the 10 and the report of Joshua and Caleb. Emphasize that the people responded by complaining instead of trusting God in difficult circumstances. (you can say what’s in bold below)
God wanted the people to do something that they didn’t want to do. Do we (your parents) ever ask you to do things you don’t want to do? Clean my room, chores, homework.
How do you respond? Complain, argue, whine, or I do what my parents say.
The Bible tells us that God is slow to anger, but that the Israelites complained so much that God became angry. Have you ever complained so much that your parents became angry? There are negative consequences to our complaining. Parents might put you in a time-out or a break, or you might lose a privilege. The Israelites complained so much that the consequence was severe. God said he was going to give everyone a plague except those who trusted him like Joshua and Caleb.
What is a plague? When the water turns to blood, when a lot of people get sick with the same thing. Plagues are anything bad that happens to a whole group of people. Often a sickness that nearly everyone gets is referred to as a plague.
Step 2: Get out the cold oatmeal and stir it in front of the kids. (you can say what’s in bold below)
We are going to take turns telling about a time when we complained or argued. When you complain, I am going to put a glob of this sticky cold oatmeal on your arm to represent the plague—we’ll call it the oatmeal plague.
Put your arm out onto the table in front of you. Allow children to share. Place a glob of oatmeal on the child’s arm.
This oatmeal reminds us that there are consequences when we complain. It also represents how yucky it is to complain—it is yucky to God, to our parents, to others around us, and it often feels yucky even inside of you.
(Although this is very simple, kids love it!)
After each child shares 3 times of complaining, bring out the box of wet wipes.
Moses prayed to God to forgive the people for their complaining. God heard Moses’ prayer and took the plague away except for the 10 explorers who spread the bad report. Wipe away half of the oatmeal plague with the wet wipe. This wipe represents God’s grace. God doesn’t always give us what we deserve. The Israelites deserved the plague for their arguing and complaining, but God took it away. Jesus is part of God’s plan for grace in our lives.
Complaining is a sin. When we ask Jesus to forgive us for any sin, even complaining, he does. Let’s each ask Jesus to forgive us for our complaining, and then I’ll wipe away the remaining oatmeal to represent God’s forgiveness.
Step 3: Pray and ask God to forgive us for complaining. Ask God to help us trust him even when things aren’t going the way we want them to go. Thank God for all the ways he has provided for you today or this week.
Remember, instead of complaining, we can trust and be thankful! Thanksters, not cranksters!