There are three segments to our Legacy Lesson:
2. Legacy Lesson–Bible point: Receiving God’s encouragement can change us, as well as others!
3. Wrap-up: Apply the message to our own lives; work on memory verse
We have just wrapped up a month on HUMILITY!! I don’t know about you, but it seemed like a very focused time of character chiseling in my family!! Humility doesn’t come naturally to any of us, but the Humility Challenge was a favorite among my kiddos!! That activity will be here to stay.
This month, we are focusing on ENCOURAGEMENT. According to Webster’s Dictionary, encouragement is “to inspire with courage, spirit, or confidence.”
➤Encouragement can make the difference between a good day and a GREAT DAY.
➤Encouragement can bring a smile to one’s face.
➤Encouragement can lift someone’s spirits when they are feeling down.
Encouragement can make a WORLD of difference!!
Discussion Question to get your people thinking about today’s topic:
Who have you encouraged lately? What did you say?
What is the best encouragement you’ve ever gotten?
One thing is for certain: we don’t forget those who encourage us, and they won’t forget
when we encourage them. One person can make all the difference between a blessing
and a disappointment. Words are powerful when spoken in faith! In our focus story, God
encourages one man so that he can encourage others.
2. Transition over to Legacy Lesson:
Feel free to modify for your sphere of influence. Add, revise, or delete sections that would help keep attention for 30 minutes or less. (For younger audiences, I would aim for 10-15 minutes!)
Today, our lesson focuses in on 3 different people:
1. God: Creator of the world, encourager of mankind
2. Joshua: Leader of the Israelites; he took over after Moses died.
3. Israelites: They are God’s people; they are also called Jews.
Backstory: (This is not necessary to share, but it does add much insight to the lesson!)
After crossing the Red Sea, Moses and the Israelites traveled all around the desert for years while God taught them to trust him, to love him, and to place him first in their lives. He was preparing them to go into a special land (called the Promise Land) that was the perfect place to live–full of trees, streams, and places to grow crops…MUCH BETTER than the desert they had been living in!!
But because they were disobedient to God, He wouldn’t allow any of them in. (This is kind of like a parent who wants to give their children a wonderful gift, but the child is acting so disrespectful, the parent won’t give it to him/her.)
In fact, He said NONE of them, INCLUDING MOSES, could go into the Promised Land except Joshua and Caleb. (God is pretty serious when it comes to obedience!!) So, it has been 40 long years when our story starts…all of the older, disobedient Israelites have died and their children are now adults. Moses has died, and Joshua has taken over for Moses.
The Cause: God encourages Joshua.
I am going to give you the portion from the book of Joshua where God has something very important to tell Joshua, the leader of the Israelites.
“Moses my servant is dead. Now you and all the people prepare to cross over
the Jordan to the land I am giving the Israelites. I have given you every place
where the sole of your foot treads, just as I promised Moses. Your territory will be
from the wilderness and Lebanon to the great Euphrates River—all the land of
the Hittites—and west to the Mediterranean Sea. No one will be able to stand
against you as long as you live. I will be with you, just as I was with Moses. I will
not leave you or forsake you. (Joshua 1:2-5, HCSB)
“Be strong and courageous, for you will distribute the land I swore to their fathers to give them as an inheritance. Above all, be strong and very courageous to carefully observe the whole instruction my servant Moses commanded you. Do not turn from it to the right or the left, so that you will have success wherever you go. This book of instruction must not depart from your mouth; you are to recite it day and night so that you may carefully observe everything written in it. For then you will prosper and succeed in whatever you do. Haven’t I commanded you: be strong and courageous? Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1: 6-9, HCSB)
Questions about this portion:
What command does God give Joshua? Cross over the Jordan to the land God is giving them
How does God encourage Joshua? (bolded phrases above are God’s encouragement)
Why would Joshua need to hear this encouragement? Joshua needed to know that God would be with him. He needed to know that God wouldn’t leave him. He needed to be encouraged to be strong and courageous. Joshua was probably really nervous and afraid to take the Israelites to the Promised Land, where they would have to fight the people living there…some of them rumored to be giants!!!!
What must not depart from Joshua’s mouth (In other words, what must Joshua never stop talking about?)
Book of Instruction (The Book of Instruction is a collection of Moses’ writings God gave
him….it was not the Bible, but a book of the Bible.) Basically, Joshua was to memorize God’s Word!
What is Joshua told to do with this book of instruction?
Repeat it day and night so that he may remember it and do it. The more we repeat it, the more likely we are to do it! God needed Joshua to be very obedient to God’s commands and trust that God would take care of it.
If you were Joshua, leader of the new generation of Israelites, and you were told to go into a new land with fierce people living in it, how would you feel?? Among the many things your kiddos may say, I am thinking “afraid” and “scared” are going to be the most popular! That’s probably why God told Joshua to be strong and courageous….because he was probably shaking in his boots! (or sandals!)
The Effect: Joshua encourages the Israelites to cross the Jordan River
So, just days after getting that command, Joshua had his people ready to cross over to the Promised Land (called Canaan). They were ready to begin their journey….except there was one BIG problem: A river separated them from the Promised Land.
Not just any river. It was a wide, rushing, overflowing river that was very intimidating. Joshua had almost a 1 million people that needed to cross over, so this would be a pretty serious problem!!
There are two ways of learning about the crossing:
1. Act it out
2. Read about it from the Bible
Acting Out–Crossing the Jordan
–12 rocks, small-medium size
–water bottle…if no bottle, use a cup of water (can flick water with fingers)
–Bible (to represent the Ark of the Covenant)
A. Parts to Play:
*More than 1 person can play a role…for example, the “river” could turn into an Israelite,
Joshua could also be the Narrator.
—Joshua: Joshua has several smaller speaking parts while standing near the “river’s edge”…would need someone who is able to read.
–Priest(s): One person would work, but two would be better! They are supposed to be holding the Ark of the Covenant, near the “water’s edge”,….however, since we don’t have that on hand, a Bible will suffice! If there are 2 “priests,” have each person hold an end of the Bible with both hands.
–Israelites: At least 1 person is needed here, but a few would be great! They will stand way behind the priests…quite a distance in real life!
–River: Since this is a harder role to play, at least 1 person needs to be the water sprayer to represent the river. He/she will be stationed in the middle of the river and can have a water bottle (or a cup with water in which they can flick the water with his/her hands). He/she will be spraying the priests and the Israelites….until they step their toes into the water. At that point, the water stops flowing and parts for them. After everyone crosses over, the river begins flowing again, and the “river” will begin spraying everyone on the other side.
–Narrator: This person basically retells the Bible story. This part would be great for someone who can read and direct traffic.
–12 Men of Israel: One person (or more) will walk to the middle of the dry river bed and get the 12 rocks and take those rocks to the other side.
B. Places everyone:
1. Decide where the Jordan river will be…preferably in the middle of your room (or outside if it’s nice!). It may be an area rug or just a section you will mark off as the “river’s” edge.
2. Put 12 rocks in the middle of your “Jordan River.”
3. Station your “priest(s)” by the river’s edge. Remember, the priests are to have their Bible in hand! if you have more than 1 priest, then they can face one another, each holding one side of the Bible.
4. Israelites need to stay behind the priests–technically, they had to stay behind 1,000 yards. The whole idea is to give holy reverence to the Ark of the Covenant because the Ark represents the presence of God.
C. Acting Out:
Narrator: The nation of Israel is coming to the Jordan river in early Spring. It is overflowing from the winter rains, which means it is flowing downstream very fast! The Jordan River is about 100 feet wide and 10 feet deep, which just means you don’t want to go for a swim…its rushing waters would quickly take you down the river, possibly drowning you!! It is a very dangerous situation that would require a miraculous intervention!!
(Cue Water Sprayers! They need to spray the priests and the Israelites; this represents the wild, swirling waters of the Jordan!)
Joshua: “I have already told you that God is going to do something amazing today. When you see the Ark of the Covenant going ahead of you, follow it!! The Living God is among you! When the priest’s feet enter the Jordan river’s waters, it will stop flowing. The water flowing downstream will collect in a wall until we are safely through!”
Narrator: The priests began to walk in the water, and something miraculous happened!!!! As soon as their feet touched the water, the water flowing from downstream stopped and started rising up in a wall of water so that the river bed was dry for the people to cross!
(Cue Water Sprayers stop spraying the water…for the water is now being held back by God’s
Joshua: “Priests of God, walk to the middle of the river and stand there with the Ark of the Covenant until all of the Israelites have passed through!
Israelites, as the priests stand in the middle of the dry river bed, I need 12 strong men to stay back and cross last. You all need to each get a heavy rock from the middle of the river bed and take it to the other side. This will serve as a reminder of the day God parted the Jordan River for us!!”
Narrator: So the priests stood firmly in the middle of the now dry river bed, the presence of God holding back the flow of the water. The nation of Israel crossed through the dry bed of the Jordan River!
Israelites: (Cross over quickly, full of awe, shock, and amazement!!)
*Remember, they had approximately 1 million Israelites, so they probably took at LEAST a day, if not several days!
Joshua: “Twelve Men of Israel, you may cross over! Heave a rock on your shoulder from the very middle of the dry river bed and carry it to the other side!!”
12 Men of Israel: (Walk to the middle, imagine you are getting very large and very heavy stones, and take them to the other side. Have fun grunting if that makes you feel more involved! I am sure it was a hefty task!)
Narrator: After the 12 men of Israel and Joshua cross the Jordan, all that is left is the priests.
Joshua: “Men of God, come out of the Jordan! The water will stand in a wall until the last of you is out of the river bed.”
Narrator: As soon as the last priests’ feet left the river bed onto the shore, the wall of water upstream came crashing down and the river began flowing again.
(Cue Water Sprayers to begin spraying the Israelites now on the other side of the river!)
Narrator: Everyone begins to celebrate that their God performed a mighty miracle for them today!!! (Have everyone in your family celebrate and thank God for this amazing miracle!!!)
Reading about The Crossing
Joshua 3:14-Joshua 4: 7
14 When the people broke camp to cross the Jordan, the priests carried
the ark of the covenant ahead of the people. 15 Now the Jordan
overflows its banks throughout the harvest season. But as soon as the
priests carrying the ark reached the Jordan, their feet touched the water
at its edge 16 and the water flowing downstream stood still, rising up in a
mass that extended as far as[f] Adam, a city next to Zarethan. The water
flowing downstream into the Sea of the Arabah (the Dead Sea) was
completely cut off, and the people crossed opposite Jericho. 17 The priests
carrying the ark of the LORD’s covenant stood firmly on dry ground in the
middle of the Jordan, while all Israel crossed on dry ground until the entire
nation had finished crossing the Jordan.
4 After the entire nation had finished crossing the Jordan, the LORD spoke
to Joshua: 2 “Choose 12 men from the people, one man for each tribe, 3 and command them: Take 12 stones from this place in the middle of the Jordan where the priests[g] are standing, carry them with you, and set them down at the place where you spend the night.” 4 So Joshua summoned the 12 men he had selected from the Israelites, one man for each tribe, 5 and said to them, “Go across to the ark of the LORD your God in the middle of the Jordan. Each of you lift a stone onto his shoulder, one for each[h] of the Israelite tribes, 6 so that this will be a sign among you. In the future, when your children ask you, ‘What do
these stones mean to you?’ 7 you should tell them, ‘The waters of the Jordan were cut off in front of the ark of the LORD’s covenant. When it crossed the Jordan, the Jordan’s waters were cut off.’ Therefore these stones will always be a memorial for the Israelites.”
Tell, in order, the groups of people who crossed the Jordan.
2. Israelites (Joshua included here) Some experts estimate up to 2.5 million Israelites! (which is interesting because that would have taken days upon days upon days to cross the Jordan for that many people!)
3. 12 Israelite men
What was the exact moment the water stopped flowing downstream?
When the priests stepped their toes in the river. (This is a teaching moment of “walking by faith, not by sight! Sometimes, God doesn’t act until we are willing to put our toes into the water!
What did the water look like upstream?
Wall of water
Who got the 12 stones?
12 men of Israel (each man represents one of the tribes of Israel); these stones were probably bigger, yet smooth (being at the bottom of a flowing river smoothed them out!) Each man put that big stone on his back and walked it to the other side….so these stones were big enough to catch people’s attention!
Why did they have to get these stones?
God wanted it to be a reminder to them and all future generations of God’s faithfulness, God’s miracle, God’s provision, God’s blessing on their lives.
Why would God want to remind them of this amazing miracle?
Because if there wasn’t a physical reminder of God’s miraculous intervention, some people would forget about it….and forget to teach their children.
When their children would see that heap of stones, they were commanded to tell the story of God parting the waters of the Jordan River for the Israelites.
*Another place to reference this command: Deuteronomy 6: 20-25. The whole idea is to tell your children your stories of faith!
Wrapping-Up: Applying it to our lives
God had a BIG job for Joshua, and it was going to take a lot of encouragement to help him do it. God’s encouragement in Joshua 1:9 is encouragement we ALL need! That is why it will be our memory verse this week:
“Be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9*
*Note: The verse actually says: “Haven’t I commanded you: be strong and courageous? Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” I reworded the beginning for my kiddos. Feel free to go to www.biblegateway.com, type in Joshua 1:9, click on “in all English translations” and find the translation that works for you and your family!
We all need to know that as well. Think about the areas in your life that you need to be bold and courageous…trying something new, standing up for yourself (or others), talking about your faith, talking to others about Jesus, admitting when you made a mistake, even confessing a sin takes a lot of courage. Our goal as a family is to pick an area we need to be more courageous in and then focus on it during the next week.
By saying this verse over and over in your mind and to yourself, you are meditating on it, you are keeping it in your mind. God will use that verse to help grow your courage.
Phrasing your memory verse with your name in it makes it more personal. Trying memorizing it this way:
“__________(Your name), be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9
Because God encouraged Joshua, Joshua was able to encourage the Israelites to cross the Jordan River. This cause-effect relationship is exactly what God intends: He encourages us, so we can encourage others. Just think about how many people we could give godly encouragement too if we just focused on this ONE VERSE to tell them about! What an AMAZING ripple effect this could have!
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