Scripture Reference: Ephesians 6:1-2, 5-8; Daniel 1 and 3
Memory Verse: 1 Timothy 2:2
Today we will study what the apostle Paul said about children obeying those in authority over them. We’ll also learn about three men who had to make a decision about whether or not they would obey someone with authority over them: Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.
Let’s say our memory verse together. Pray . . . for kings and all who are in authority. 1 Timothy 2:2 NLT
Obedience Matters When Shining Pennies
(Make two attempts to clean pennies with a salt and vinegar solution. The first fails because obedience to the instructions isn’t followed.)
You will need some dirty pennies, two small bowls, salt, vinegar, cotton swabs (the double-ended stick swabs) and a copy of these paragraphs to serve as your “instructions.”
Begin by telling your children you need to clean some pennies and that you have read you can use vinegar to clean them.
Put some pennies in the bowl. Dip a cotton swab in vinegar, and try to clean the pennies. (You might see a slight cleaning effect, but nothing significant.)
Pretend you are disappointed in the results. Then say, “I guess I should have read the instructions more carefully.” Consult your instructions and then say, “Now I understand! I was supposed to mix salt in the vinegar.”
Now have your children help you stir 1 teaspoon of salt into ¼ cup of vinegar. Have them stir until the salt is dissolved.
When the salt is completely dissolved, allow your children to put the pennies into the mixture. You may need to stir the solution a bit, but the results will be different. Your efforts will produce some clean and shiny pennies.
Give each of your children a shiny penny to remind them how brightly they shine when they obey God and others.
Bible Story Time:
Name some people who have authority over you? (parents, older siblings, police, governor, president, teachers, principals, God)
Why do you think it’s important to obey those who have authority over us?
What are some things that can happen when we don’t obey those who have authority over us?
Reflection: Why do you think God gives people authority over us? What would happen if everyone did what they wanted with no one to answer to?
A long time ago, God’s people were taken captive for 70 years by foreign armies who didn’t love or serve their God. Among the many who were taken captive were Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.
The first thing the king wanted them to do was to eat the same kind of food he ate. Some of that food was considered unclean for Jewish people. Daniel knew eating that food would cause him and his friends to disobey God, but the king had authority over him and so did the king’s attendant. He asked the king’s attendant if he could have food that was clean for them. After ten days, if they didn’t look just as healthy as the others who were eating the king’s food, then they would eat the king’s food. The attendant agreed. Sure enough, after ten days of eating vegetables and drinking water, Daniel and his friends were healthier than those who had eaten the king’s food.
Reflection: What do you think might have happened if Daniel and his friends had refused to eat the king’s food? What would you have done?
Later, the king made a gold statue of himself that was ninety feet tall and nine feet wide. He gave an order that at the sound of all the different types of musical instruments playing the people were to fall down and worship the statue. Some believe the statue may have been a statue of the king.
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego knew worshipping the statue meant disobeying God. God had said they weren’t to have any other gods before him. They were in a difficult situation. The king had authority over them, but God had more authority.
Reflection: If you are faced with a choice of whether to obey God or someone else, what helps you choose which person to obey? Why?
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego heard the musical instruments playing, but they had made up their mind they wouldn’t obey the king’s order. To make matters worse, some others who had authority saw them refuse to worship the king’s statue and told the king about it. The king summoned Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego and asked them why they hadn’t worshiped the statue. They told him they only worshiped God.
The king was furious when the three men said they were not going to worship the statue. The penalty for anyone who didn’t fall down and worship was being thrown into a furnace. When the three told the king they wouldn’t bow down to his statue, he ordered the furnace heated seven times hotter than normal. Then he had them thrown into the furnace.
Reflection: Does anyone know what happened next? Is there ever a time when we should disobey those who have authority over us? If so, when?
After the king had the three men thrown into the furnace, he saw something strange. Instead of three people in the fire, he saw four—the fourth having the appearance of a god according to the king. Sure enough, it was. God was with them in the fire. And the three men weren’t burning up, screaming, or hollering. The king called for them to come out. They did and had no burns on them, nor did they smell like smoke. The king now knew how powerful their God was and understood why they chose to obey him.
The apostle Paul tells children to obey their parents. Parents have authority. When your parents give an older brother or sister the authority to take care of you, you are also supposed to obey them. Or a babysitter.
Paul also tells slaves to obey their masters. We don’t have slavery in America anymore, but we do have bosses whom we work for. The same is true. What our bosses tell us to do, we should do.
Reflection: Who are some other people whom you should obey? What is the only exception for not obeying those who have authority over us?