GOD CAN GIVE US JOY, EVEN IN THE WORST OF TIMES
Lesson Plan for Lower Grade Children’s church
Prepared by Ms. Kristen
OVERVIEW & PURPOSE
You will teach the kids, “When I focus on God, I have joy.”
Acts 16:22-34, Paul and Silas in prison
MEMORY VERSE ACTIVITY: Psalm 9:2
Write out the verse word by word and have the child put it in order. Once in order, have them try to recite it with little to no help.
Psalms 9:2, “I will be glad and full of joy because of you. Most High God, I will sing the praises of your name.”
Paul and Silas were thrown into prison for telling people about Jesus. Most prisoners probably would have been filled with anger, sadness or fear. But Paul and Silas were filled with joy – singing songs of praise and praying to God. Even in the most terrible of times, if our focus and hope is on Jesus, we can have joy and peace.
Whatever emotions we face, God’s love and grace can replace that emotion with joy. Even in the worst of times and the worst of places, God can fill our hearts with joy. Today’s Bible story will take us into a prison cell in the dead of night, where two wrongfully accused missionaries were not only able to find joy, but share that joy with
22 The crowd joined in the attack against Paul and Silas, and the magistrates ordered them to be stripped and beaten with rods. 23 After they had been severely flogged, they were thrown into prison, and the jailer was commanded to guard them carefully. 24 When he received these orders, he put them in the inner cell and fastened their feet in the stocks.
25 About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them. 26 Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken. At once all the prison doors flew open, and everyone’s chains came loose. 27 The jailer woke up, and when he saw the prison doors open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself because he thought the prisoners had escaped. 28 But Paul shouted, “Don’t harm yourself! We are all here!”
29 The jailer called for lights, rushed in and fell trembling before Paul and Silas. 30 He then brought them out and asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”
31 They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household.” 32 Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all the others in his house. 33 At that hour of the night the jailer took them and washed their wounds; then immediately he and all his household were baptized. 34 The jailer brought them into his house and set a meal before them; he was filled with joy because he had come to believe in God—he and his whole household.
Paul and Silas were thrown in prison for setting a girl free from demons. They had done something good through the power of God, and they were being punished for it. Many believers were facing similar persecution at the time, including prison, beatings, and even death, and Paul and Silas had to know that death was a possibility for them. They had every right to feel angry, afraid, and sad. Yet Paul and Silas were joyful. They led the prisoners in singing hymns, and when God heard their song of praise, He shook the walls of the prison to the ground. When the earthquake happened, it was the jailer who suddenly felt afraid. He believed the prisoners would escape, and he and his family would be killed. When he saw the faith of Paul and Silas, he prayed to receive Jesus as his Savior. Jesus turned the jailer’s fear into joy just as he turned Paul and Silas’s despair into joy. If Jesus can bring joy to that darkened prison, He can bring joy to anyone, anytime, anywhere. When we focus on God, even in bad times, we can have joy.
Emotions are how we experience life. Some emotions are positive, some are negative. All emotions are an important part of being human, even anger, fear, and sadness, but if we let these negative emotions run unchecked, they can bring us down and even get us into trouble. Jesus wants to help us to tame our emotions. He wants to give you the Holy Spirit, who can lift you up when you’re sad. He wants us to rely on prayer in the Bible when we need courage. He wants to give us peace when we are troubled. He wants to fill our hearts with joy, even in bad times.
If you're tired of trying to tame your emotions on your own, you can invite Jesus to be your savior today. You can receive the gift of the Holy Spirit, who will be by your side and good times and in bad. When you ask Jesus to forgive your sins and come into your life, you will receive the blessings of eternal life. You will also know that God is always a prayer away, right by your side.
If you’ve already received Jesus and are still struggling with your emotions, take heart. You are not alone. It takes a lifetime to learn to rely on God to tame our emotions. Day by day, one emotion at a time, one prayer at a time, God will help us transform our bad emotions into joy. Jesus came to give us new life and joy. If we focus on God we can have that Joy, no matter what life brings our way. Let’s thank God for Jesus, and let’s ask him to fill all of our hearts with joy!
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Read Acts 16:22-34
What Christian missionaries were locked up in prison?
What were Paul and Silas doing while they sat in the prison cell?
What did God do because of their songs of praise?
How did the jail receive joy?
How can we receive Jesus as our savior?
What were Paul and Silas singing in the prison cell?
What did the jailer try to do after the walls of the prison collapsed?