Week Five

Week Five: Shift Your Perspective
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It can be easy to focus on our busy, day-to-day lives, yet God calls us to shift our perspective outward to the whole world. As important as it is to care for our own needs, we also have the unique calling to serve on a global scale.

Please feel free to adapt these lessons for your congregation’s context.

Sermon Notes by Mark Seversen

SCRIPTURE

Genesis 12:1

“The Lord had said to Abram, ‘Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you.’”

Acts 13:3

“So after they had fasted and prayed, they placed their hands on them and sent them off.”
 

SUMMARY

Perspective is important. How we live our lives is largely based on how we see things. In other words, our perspective shapes our day-to-day decisions. The Scriptures constantly call us to shift our view of God and of the world. It is in this calling to shift our perspective to see things as God does where real life change and purpose are found.
 

INTRODUCTION

What if the place where we are most comfortable is not the place we actually belong?

“There’s no place like home.” That famous line from The Wizard of Oz saved Dorothy and brought her and Toto back to Kansas. But words like Dorothy’s would have ended Abram’s adventure before it even started. God had something different in mind for him. Through Abram, we learn that home is not a place at all.

“Home is where your heart is.” When I was a child I couldn’t fully appreciate this sentiment. Home was where my toys, my bed, my pillow, my dog, and sometimes my siblings were.

But it was also where I felt safe, was known, and had a deep sense of belonging. I remember watching our neighbors’ oldest son leave for college when I was about six years old. I made my mother promise me that I would never have to leave home. She promised with a smile on her face.

Of course I did leave home eventually, which reflected a complete shift in my understanding of belonging. I realized that home was more about where I belong than where things are most comfortable.

The story of Abram is historically significant, for it teaches us about the birth of the Israelite nation. Yet the story has much more value than that. In the account we observe the ways God accomplishes his purposes. If we listen closely, we also hear an invitation, like Abram’s, to join God in his work. No invitation compares to this in significance. No invitation demands such a dramatic shift for those that decide to follow.

A shift in thinking.
 A shift in location.
 A shift in values. 
A shift in significance.

 

THE PERSON OF FAITH LEAVES

This is not a call to walk away from people that matter to God.

God’s call to Abram is a call to faith. Who knows how many times over the generations others had heard that same call? In Genesis 11 we see a world longing to make a name for themselves—which they address by building the Tower of Babel. After that, a genealogy is provided that lists generation after generation, without any reference to God. The chapter ends with piercing words about the decision of Abram’s parents when they arrived in Harran: “they settled.” Scripture says they intended to take their family further when they set out. Instead they stopped, and settled.

“Is that what you want Abram, when I have so much more for you?” You can almost hear that question setting up the imperative God says to Abram: “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you” (Genesis 12:1). But don’t misread God’s invitation. This invitation is about engagement, not disengagement. It’s about impact, not retreat. After all, God promises that “all peoples on earth will be blessed” through Abram (v. 3).

People of faith are not part of an isolated culture. People of faith do not need to be protected from the world.

The story of rebellion and judgment in Genesis 11 is followed by God’s intent to offer the people salvation in Genesis 12. One commentator writes that by placing Abram’s call after the nations are dispersed at Babylon, the author intended to depict Abram’s call as God’s gift of salvation in the midst of judgment. “As a way of sustaining this theme further, the author patterned the account of Abram’s call and blessing after an earlier account of a similar gift of salvation in the midst of judgment, the conclusion of the flood narrative. The similarities between the two narratives are striking, showing that Abram, like Noah, marks a new beginning as well as a return to God’s original plan of blessing ‘all people’” (John Sailhamer, Expositors Bible Commentary).

What does God do about rebellion? He provides a means of salvation. He seeks to bless those who respond to his grace. There is nothing more significant than the transformed life God has given us, and nothing is more important than sharing that good news with others.

This is a call to walk away from a small life.

In the closing verses of Genesis 11, we are introduced to Abram through his lineage, which serves to identify his place and person. In Genesis 12, Abram is instructed to leave behind the things around which he had built his identity. His allegiance to a specific part of the world is eclipsed by an allegiance to the whole world. His devotion to family is eclipsed by a new devotion to people from every nation, tribe, and people.

Who are you? 
Who do you want to be? 
Who does God want you to be? 
What is God expecting you to leave behind?

 

THE PERSON OF FAITH FOLLOWS

People of faith are people in motion.

The Book of Acts calls God’s people “people on the way.” Travelers, pilgrims, aliens, world-changers, and kingdom-makers don’t stay home. They don’t live life from the couch. Faith grows as we live in motion.

People of faith follow in faith.

Personally, I hate it when I encounter uncertainty when I travel. I always want to know where, how, and when I’m going. I want to know how to pack and what to expect. I want to keep track of my progress on my GPS, and I want to plan out my stops along the way. But knowing the destination is not necessarily the most important part of the journey.

Before the journey is over for Abram, his identity is changed in a revolutionary way. Even his name changes.

In the meantime, God shows Abram a few things:

  • God is a promise maker and a promise keeper.
  • God has a heart for all people.
  • God wants Abram to share in the blessing of God’s love.

God’s heart of compassion compelled him, “so Abram went, as the LORD had told him.”

“After they fasted and prayed they placed their hands on them and sent them off” (Acts 13:1-3).

 

Adult Bible Study by Kevin Farmer

SCRIPTURE

Genesis 12:1

“The Lord had said to Abram, ‘Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you.’”

Acts 13:3

“So after they fasted and prayed, they placed their hands on them and sent them off.”
 

OVERVIEW

Perspective is important. How we live our lives are largely based on how we see things. In other words, our perspective shapes our day-to-day decisions. The Scriptures constantly call us to shift our view of God and of the world. It is in this calling to shift our perspective to see things as God does where real life change and purpose are found.

This week we will explore God’s call on Abram’s life, a call that was both literal and figurative. On the most basic level, God was calling Abram to leave both his home country and his family. This aspect of God’s call was very much a literal shift in geography—from one location to another.

In and of itself that may not have been very profound for Abram as he and his family would have been familiar with nomadic wanderings. Yet in another respect, God’s call was also a shift in connection. God’s call to Abram included a shift from the people with whom Abram had lifelong connections toward a people and a place he had never experienced before. It was a shift in allegiance both to human bloodlines and to deity. From a human perspective, God was calling for Abram to separate from his family, symbolizing God’s call for us to shift our allegiance from familial ties to a new kingdom family. From a deity perspective, God was calling Abram to lay down the idols he had been raised to worship, representing a deep shift in his allegiance.
 

STUDY: RELOCATION

God is keenly interested in shifting our perspective, our thinking, our beliefs, our motives, and our actions. However, before any of these internal shifts can take place, we must experience an external shift that literally moves us from one location to another.

In Genesis 12:1 we read the following: “The Lord had said to Abram, ‘Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you.’”

Abram resided with his family in a place called Ur, which was the largest and wealthiest part of ancient Chaldea. The people of ancient Mesopotamia worshiped many gods, and the people of Ur worshiped their chief god named Nanna, who was the moon-god. Despite the fact that Abraham is celebrated as one of the most important patriarchs not only of Christianity but also of Judaism and Islam, it is likely that while he was still “Abram” he worshiped Nanna and other gods in the land of Ur.

When Joshua reaffirmed God’s covenant with the Hebrew people at Shechem, he reminded them of this fact: “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: ‘Long ago your ancestors, including Terah the father of Abraham and Nahor, lived beyond the Euphrates River and worshiped other gods’” (Joshua 24:2).

Since Abram lived with his father and his father’s people in this land, it seems likely that he would have conformed to the customs of the land, including the worship of multiple gods. Therefore, a shift needed to take place. But before God could enact a shift in character and purpose in Abram, God had to remove him from Ur, a land of idol worship, and begin the work of setting him apart for the role of earthly Israelite patriarch.

Questions and Considerations

Sometimes we have a sense that we need to move to a different location or that our season of being in a particular place is coming to an end. This can be due to external circumstances that are out of our control, or it could be because of a deep (or even shallow) sense that it’s time to move on.

  • Discuss a time when you may have sensed or experienced God shifting you from one physical location to another.
    What were the surrounding circumstances?
  • Was the shifting due to factors that were independent of you (downsizing at a job, foreclosure on a home, etc.), or were the factors more related to a general sense that it was time to relocate?
  • How did you see God at work during that time?

 

STUDY: A SHIFT IN PERSPECTIVE

Often when God begins to change our perspectives or beliefs or even our location, the shift takes place in stages. We see evidence of this in God’s progressive calls to Abram, especially when we consider the story of Terah, Abram’s father.

In the book of Acts, we read Stephen’s testimony of God’s call to Abram while he was still in the land of Ur: “Brothers and fathers, listen to me! The God of glory appeared to our father Abraham while he was still in Mesopotamia, before he lived in Harran. ‘Leave your country and your people,’ God said, ‘and go to the land I will show you.’ So he left the land of the Chaldeans and settled in Harran. After the death of his father, God sent him to this land where you are now living” (Acts 7:2-4).

In the Genesis account, Abram’s father, Terah, is included in the story:

“This is the account of Terah’s family line. Terah became the father of Abram, Nahor and Haran. And Haran became the father of Lot. While his father Terah was still alive, Haran died in Ur of the Chaldeans, in the land of his birth. Abram and Nahor both married. The name of Abram’s wife was Sarai, and the name of Nahor’s wife was Milkah; she was the daughter of Haran, the father of both Milkah and Iskah. Now Sarai was childless because she was not able to conceive. Terah took his son Abram, his grandson Lot son of Haran, and his daughter-in-law Sarai, the wife of his son Abram, and together they set out from Ur of the Chaldeans to go to Canaan. But when they came to Harran, they settled there. Terah lived 205 years, and he died in Harran” (Genesis 11:27-32).

God’s call was for and to Abram while Abram still lived in Ur. Yet God used Abram’s father, Terah, to lead his family out of the land of Ur to a land of promise where God’s own name could be made great.

We don’t know why Terah decided to leave Ur. What is clear is that God wanted to shift Abram’s geographic location, and Terah made that possible. That shift in location was needed—but it wasn’t the only shift that was necessary. A greater shift in belief, understanding, and perspective also needed to take place.

Questions and Considerations

  • Describe a situation where you have experienced a shift in your understanding over a period of time.
    What was the situation?
  • What changed in your understanding?
  • What were some of the elements, or who were some of the people who helped to change your understanding?
  • Discuss how your change in understanding affected your feelings about the situation.

 

STUDY: A NEW SEASON

On the journey from Ur to Canaan, Terah and his family stopped in Harran. The progressive movement of God’s call to Abram was continuing. God shifted Abram from his homeland in Ur and gave him a temporary stop in Harran.

It was in that place where Abram’s father died. Terah was likely Abram’s source of earthly and spiritual guidance. He undoubtedly instructed Abram in matters such as commerce, relationships, worship, family protection, and provision.

After Terah’s death God reiterates his call to Abram while he is in Harran: “The Lord had said to Abram, ‘Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you” (Genesis 12:1).

Once Terah—Abram’s source of earthly protection and provision—was gone, God began shifting Abram into a new season. He was shifting Abram’s very character into a new perspective, a new set of beliefs, and a new set of actions. Eventually Abram would recognize and worship the one true God.

But a problem still existed: “So Abram went, as the Lord had told him; and Lot went with him” (Genesis 12:4).

On a cursory level, this statement might seem insignificant. Abram heard the command of the Lord, and he followed that command—mostly. God’s command to Abram was to leave his country, his people, and his father’s household. Abram did leave, but Lot, his brother’s son, went with him. That had significant implications.

Lot’s father, Haran, died while the family was still in Ur, so perhaps Lot had been placed under Abram’s care. But it’s clear that he was a member of Terah’s household. God’s command was clear—Abram was instructed to leave everything associated with his father’s household and go to the place where God would show him. God was shifting Abram from every connection of that past experience so that he could be the only spiritual influence in Abram’s life. That was critical as God prepared Abram to be the father of many nations.

Now you might wonder about Abram’s wife, Sarai. Should Abram have left her behind? No! As husband and wife, they had become a one-flesh union as we see in Genesis: “Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man. The man said, ‘This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called “woman,” for she was taken out of man.’ That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh” (Genesis 2:22-24).

So it was not only appropriate but also right for Abram to take Sarai with him. But taking his nephew Lot created unforeseen problems for Abram. Lot’s name means “veil” or “covering” and has the connotation of having one’s sight covered. God was attempting to shift Abram from one location to another location and from one perspective to another, but by bringing his nephew with him, Abram was unable to see what God doing—his vision was symbolically covered, or veiled. It wasn’t until after Abram separated from Lot (Genesis 13), that the veil was removed from Abram’s eyes. Only after that did God institute his covenant with Abram.

Questions and Considerations

  • Describe your thoughts regarding Abram’s decision to bring Lot with him. In your opinion is this detail important or not?
  • Do you believe Abram fully obeyed God by allowing Lot to travel with him?
  • Discuss a time when the Lord was attempting to shift your understanding from one perspective to another. Did you experience any mental or spiritual veiling that limited your ability to discern God’s plan?

 

PERSONAL REFLECTIONS

God always has plans for us—plans that are ultimately for his glory. We must remember that God is always attempting to shift our minds, hearts, perspectives, and actions toward him and that this shift that is both literal and symbolic. We must be careful not to allow either material or spiritual veils to impair our ability to see God’s shifting work.

  • Describe what was most challenging for you in this study.
  • Describe what was most inspiring for you in this study.
  • Identify any barriers that might be impeding God’s desire to shift you.
  • Identify three ways that you can open your heart, mind, and actions to be shifted to a more Christ-centered perspective.

 

PERSONAL AND COMMUNAL COMMITMENTS

  • Surrender your heart and mind and be willing to allow God to begin to shift your perspective from yourself to others.
  • Trust that God is shifting your perspective so that you can be a more effective agent for his kingdom.
  • Actively seek ways in which you can share your faith journey with others.
  • Don’t just settle for change that is easy—pray and expect God to lead you toward change that will be challenging.
  • Find three small pebbles to help you remember God’s desire to shift your heart, mind and actions:
  • ◦ Place one in your wallet to help you remember the poor as you spend your money.
    ◦ Place one in your shoe to help you remember that you are on a spiritual journey—and that walking the journey of biblical justice is often uncomfortable and challenging.
    ◦ Place one in your pocket to help you remember that wherever you go, through the Holy Spirit, you can change the world around you.

 

PRAYER REFLECTION

Oscar Romero, archbishop of El Salvador, denounced injustice in his country and supported the development of many social organizations. He became the voice of the people of El Salvador when oppression had crushed all other channels of expression. On March 24, 1980, he was assassinated while celebrating mass in a chapel hospital. The words of this prayer are often attributed to him.

It helps, now and then, to step back and take a long view.
The kingdom is not only beyond our efforts; it is even beyond our vision.
We accomplish in our lifetime only a tiny fraction of the magnificent enterprise that is God’s work. Nothing we do is complete, which is a way of saying that the kingdom always lies beyond us.
No statement says all that could be said.
No prayer fully expresses our faith.
No confession brings perfection.
No pastoral visit brings wholeness.
No program accomplishes the church’s mission.
No set of goals and objectives includes everything.
This is what we are about.
We plant the seeds that one day will grow.
We water seeds already planted, knowing that they hold future promise.
We lay foundations that will need further development.
We provide yeast that produces far beyond our capabilities.
We cannot do everything, and there is a sense of liberation in realizing that.
This enables us to do something, and to do it very well.
It may be incomplete, but it is a beginning, a step along the way, an opportunity for the Lord’s grace to enter and do the rest.
We may never see the end results, but that is the difference between the master builder and the worker.
We are workers, not master builders; ministers, not messiahs.
We are prophets of a future not our own.
 

Youth Discussion Guide by Ruby Varghese

SCRIPTURE

Genesis 12:1

“The Lord had said to Abram, ‘Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you.’”

Acts 13:3

“So after they had fasted and prayed, they placed their hands on them and sent them off.”
 

SUMMARY

Perspective is important. Our decisions about how we live our lives are largely based on how we see things. In other words, our perspective shapes our day-to-day decisions. The Scriptures constantly call us to shift our view of God and of the world. It is in this call to see things as God does where real life change and purpose are found.
 

INTRODUCTION

God has a call our life. What does that mean? It means that God, our creator and sustainer, is calling each of us to something beyond ourselves. Today, we will look at Genesis 12:1-3 and Acts 13:3. These passages show us that God is calling each of us to move from our self-focused world to go obediently into the world and respond to his call to love him as we love others.
 

WHEN GOD CALLS, YOU GO!

Have you ever wondered what it means to be “set apart” for God’s special call and purposes? We will look at the stories of Abram, Paul, and Barnabas to explore this concept further.

Abram was just a regular guy who moved from Ur to Canaan with his family, animals, and servants—but he stopped en route, in the land of Harran. His father, who told his family to pack up their home in Ur and move, eventually died in Harran. So what was next for Abram? Abram was not looking for God, yet God showed up.

“The LORD had said to Abram, ‘Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you’” (Genesis 12:1).

God calls Abram to leave his plans behind for the life that God had planned for him instead: “I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you” (Genesis 12:2-3).

God makes a covenant—a holy agreement—with Abram and eventually with all of humanity. In the same way, we learn in Acts 13 about a church in Antioch that set apart two men, Barnabas and Saul, to do God’s work. This was the beginning of Paul’s missionary journey. The church was involved in sending these men to reach the world, but it was the Holy Spirit’s prompting that led them to follow God’s call.
 

WHEN GOD MAKES A PROMISE, HE KEEPS IT

Abram is blessed by God. He eventually becomes the father of many nations and is one of the most important figures in Scripture.

Do you ever worry that you are not good enough or special enough to accomplish what God is calling you to do? God built a great nation from Abram’s family. God calls us to recognize that he alone is the source of all goodness. We are called to embody this goodness to the world around us.
 

WHEN GOD CALLS, IT TAKES SACRIFICE

Whenever we follow the will of God, we must separate from whatever does not draw us to God. The church in Antioch learned the beauty of doing life together. They were passionate, dedicated, and faithful to the mission. When God called Paul and Barnabus, great leaders in that community, to go, the prophets and teachers were willing to send them with their blessing.

In Abram’s case, God called him away from everything familiar. When God talks about blessing the land, we see his desire for the lost to be restored. God’s love is not meant to be just for us. What do we need to release or let go of so that we can shift our perspective from our world to the whole world?

Sacrifice is never easy. Abram had to leave his comfort zone and his familiar surroundings. We, too, will face hardship, opposition, and, at times, isolation, but if we are truly pursuing the call of God on our lives we must be willing to give up the things that hold us back from fulfilling God’s call.

“As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. ‘Come, follow me,’ Jesus said, ‘and I will send you out to fish for people.’ At once they left their nets and followed him” (Matthew 4:18-20).
 

WHEN GOD CALLS, IT TAKES A RESPONSE

God calls us to go into the world, just as Paul and Barnabas did. Their call wasn’t a result of any special qualifications that they had—it was of the Holy Spirit. The church in Antioch had learned the beauty of doing life together. They were passionate, dedicated, and faithful to the mission, and when Paul and Barnabas were called, the church recognized their call. The leaders of the church in Antioch laid hands on them and sent them with a blessing from God.

We may be called to leave our identity, culture, and the influences we hold dear in order to follow God. Yet God is infinitely good, and even when the response seems hard, we can trust his goodness. We are called to reflect his goodness to the world around us. This takes obedience. It takes awareness that God has even greater plans ahead. Do not doubt yourself or limit what God can do in and through you.

Often we are tempted to remain where we are when God calls us, but the good news is that even when we run from God he continues to call us the way he called Abram. He doesn’t give up on the one he calls. We have been blessed by a God who loves us, redeems us through the cross, and gives us new life.
 

APPLICATION POINTS

How is God calling you to serve the world?
 

CONCLUSION

Who are we living for? Are we willing to step out in faith and answer God’s call to move from a world where we live for ourselves into a world where we live for others? Remember God’s promise: he will equip you with all that you need to bring glory to his name. How can you follow where is God calling you today?
 

CLOSING PRAYER

God, we have been foolish and hidden so many times from your call on our lives. We have sinned and made excuses for not following you. May we cling to you, the One who gives us life. Help us in those areas of fear, and give us faith and courage to follow you. We pray that these words would help us to bring your kingdom to earth. Thank you for this reminder of our need for you. Guide us to where you are calling us next. Amen.
 

REFLECTIVE QUESTIONS

  1. Why is it important to shift our perspective from our private world to the whole world?
  2. Where have you seen the blessing of God in your life?
  3. Have you or someone you know ever been called by God to do something unusual or radical? Share the situation with the group, and how you or that person responded. What were the results?
  4. How can we present the hope of the gospel to others even when there are obstacles or opposition? Have you ever ignored God’s calling?
  5. Where is God calling you to go?

CHALLENGE & DISCUSSION

  1. Think of someone you know who effectively shares the gospel. What qualities do you see in that person?
  2. What characteristics and qualities do you have that make sharing the gospel natural for you? What makes it difficult to share your faith?
  3. Why do you think the people prayed and fasted before and after they sent Barnabas and Saul on their way?
  4. Who set Paul and Barnabas apart for the work? Who sent them on their way? How does the Spirit interact with the people of God?
  5. To what extent does Acts 13:1-3 set an example we must follow, and to what extent is it a unique event?
  6. Describe how you/your church/your youth group would react if you heard this announcement: “This week, the Holy Spirit told us to send two of our best leaders off to the missions field full-time.”

APPLICATION

Where is God calling you to serve?

Spend some time this week in prayer/fasting and talking to wise people in your life (youth pastor, church leaders, family, friends) who will affirm your gifts and calling. Ask them to pray for you.
 
 

Children's Ministry Lesson by Shelley Kurth

SCRIPTURE

Genesis 12:1

“The Lord had said to Abram, ‘Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you.’”

Acts 13:3

“So after they had fasted and prayed, they placed their hands on them and sent them off.”
 

SUMMARY

Perspective is important. How we live our lives is largely based on how we see things. In other words, our perspective shapes our day-to-day decisions. The Scriptures constantly call us to shift our view of God and of the world. It is in this calling to shift our perspective to see things as God does where real life change and purpose are found.
 

MEMORY VERSE

Genesis 12:3
“I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.”
 

BIBLICAL BACKGROUND

  • Read Genesis 11:25–12:3 to better understand the call of Abram.
  • Read Acts 12:25–13:3 to better understand the sending of Barnabas and Saul.

PREPARATION

As your facility and space allow, create areas that help children visualize the Shift theme, especially items that help students see things differently: a telescope, binoculars, a magnifying glass, transformer action figures, playdough, Silly Putty and comics (please note that not all of today’s Sunday funnies are children appropriate), a globe, topical maps, aerial or satellite photos, heat-sensing or image-changing toys, etc.

Designate a place where the theme is displayed and the weekly topic posted.

Consider having a dedicated display area where parents and other members of the church family can see what the children are creating and how this relates to what the whole church is doing. Display reflection activities, photos of children hearing the story, flip chart pictures, response activities, youth or adult reflection pieces, etc.
 

KEY CONCEPTS

God asks us to go and tell others about him. That means that we shift our thinking from ourselves to others who need to learn about his love.

The goal is to help children understand that:

  • God asks those who love him to tell others about him.
  • Abram, Paul, and Barnabas left what they knew and what they were comfortable with.
  • God used Abram, Paul, and Barnabas to tell others about God.
  • God can use us too.
  • God asks us to go and tell others about him.

At the end of the class today, the children will be able to:

  • Talk about Abram being called by God.
  • Communicate the way the church sends people.
  • Share ideas of how they are called and how they can send.

HELPFUL RESOURCES

  • Map of Abram’s journey
  • Map of Paul’s journey with Barnabas
  • Pictures of homes (current, Bible times, different countries)
  • Familiar story of a missionary from local church

ENTERING ACTIVITIES

Build visual connections to shift perspectives. Have objects on hand to help children to find and see differently. Create stations for connections with other students and staff as children enter. These can either remain up for the length of the series, or change out occasionally as desired.

Across the Room—Use binoculars to read messages on the far wall of the room (Bible verse from previous weeks/add each week; maps used in lessons).

Silly Putty Perspective—Use Silly Putty to transfer images and distort them.

Transformers—Free play with transformer action figures, changing them from one form to another.

I-Spy—Encourage children to find the grocery store, school, church, park, etc., on laminated aerial or satellite photos of your community.
 

OPENING

If a combined story time occurs or you break into smaller groups for activities, be sure to adjust the schedule as needed.
 

INTRODUCTION

As we learn more about God and how to love him, our way of thinking changes, or shifts. This curriculum helps us learn how God is asking us to shift our way of thinking and living.

Prayer

Pray for God to open our hearts and ears to what he wants us to learn about shifting our perspectives and learning more about our world. If your practice is to take requests at the beginning or end of the lesson, be sure to continue this. Depending on the size of your class or group, you may wish to have additional staff break into small groups, older students pray with younger students, or ask a student to write prayer requests on the board throughout the class and pray at end. Keeping a prayer journal and regularly reviewing the requests are great ways to continue to teach children that God cares about their needs and answers prayers.

Offering

If your practice includes offering, do this at this time.

Singing

If desired, you can move this later in the schedule.
 

BIBLE READING

Assist students in finding the passages in their Bibles. If you are teaching the books of the Bible, this is a good time to review them. Read today’s Scriptures with little to no immediate discussion, allowing God’s word to speak into their hearts.
 

OBJECT LESSON

This can be part of the opening section if desired, but it should happen before the Bible lesson (below) to help students better connect with the Bible characters.

Prepare a suitcase with items for a trip—clothes, toothbrush, shoes, teddy bear, toys, book, etc. Pack a Bible. Have a basket of additional items for various “special trips”—winter, summer, hiking, Disney, camping, fishing, maps, etc.

Tell the children, “Today we are learning about a few people in the Bible who were asked to go on a trip. One took his whole family and the other took a friend. They both knew that God wanted them to go. What types of things do you think they might have taken with them?”

After they respond, say, “When I am going on a trip, I take …”

(Unpack the suitcase.)

Ask, “Have you ever been on a trip when you didn’t know where you were going? Well, these guys didn’t know where God was sending them … and they still went! They must have trusted God with their whole life!”

Ask children how they would pack if they didn’t know where they were going. “Let’s see, I’d still need my clothes and teddy bear, but what else might I might need to add?”

Discuss additional items as you re-pack the suitcase.

“One reason these people followed God is that they wanted to obey him, and they wanted other people to love him too. They must have really cared about people! What are some things you can do to show people God’s love?”

Say, “Let’s dig into our stories today and see if we can learn more about what Abram, Saul, and Barnabas did to follow God. Maybe we will even want to make plans to follow God too!”
 

BIBLE LESSON

There are always several ways to tell the story. One simple and effective way is to create a flip chart story. Before the session, pre-draw aspects of the story using the key points and draw in simple details as the story is told.

Another great way is to have a storyteller read from the Bible while a different person draws. Stick figures work well. Use the Bible references as your guide.

You may choose to use other possibilities for presentation such as puppets, costumes, or dramas. Base your choice on your ministry patterns and the needs of the age groups present. Depending on the method used and the age of the students, you may ask them to follow along in their Bibles.

The Story of Abram

• Terah was the father of Abram, Nahor, and Haran, and Haran became the father of Lot. Haran died while his family was still living in Ur (Genesis 11:27-28).
• Abram married Sarai, and Nahor married Milkah. Nahor and Milkah had several children, but Abram and Sarai were unable to have children (11:29-30).
• Terah took Abram and Lot and their families and left Ur to go to Canaan. But they only made it as far as Harran before settling down. There, Terah died (11:31-32).
• Many years later, God called Abram to continue the journey (12:1-3).
• Abram did as God commanded and left Harran at age 75 with his family and journeyed to Canaan (12:4-5).

Take time to talk about Abram. Let the children think about each wondering statement below.

I wonder what it was like for Abram to leave his friends.

I wonder if it was a long journey.

I wonder if Sarai and Abram were sad to not have their own children.

I wonder how God led them and what they prayed about.

Was Abram too old to be called by God? How old is too old? How young is too young? Age isn’t an obstacle to being called by God.

Paul and Barnabas

Two people from the early church named Saul and Barnabas were called by God, just like Abram. They were part of a church and were missionaries who had just come back home.

  • Barnabas and Saul brought Mark (who is also called John) to Jerusalem with them (Acts 12:25).
  • Barnabas and Saul were part of the church in Antioch (13:1).
  • While the church in Jerusalem was worshiping together, God called Barnabas and Saul to return to the mission field (13:2).
  • The church prayed for Barnabas and Saul and sent them out (13:3).

DISCUSS

Discuss how the sending of Saul and Barnabas and the call of Abram involved obedience to God.