What God Does When We’re Lost (Martin Wiles’ Lessons for Children and Youth)

Scripture Reference: Luke 15:1-10

Memory Verse: Romans 8:39

The lesson objective is two-fold. First to teach children God loves them more than anyone else ever could. Second, to remind them God is always looking…searching for people to become his children because he does love them so much. Even if we don’t feel loved by others, God will always love us and forgive us when we’ve done something wrong.

Go around the room and let each child tell about a time when they lost something. If they can’t think of an occasion when they have, ask them how they think they’d feel if they lost something of great importance and couldn’t find it. The teacher should also share a story of a time when he or she lost something.

Let’s say our memory verse together that we learned last week. Nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:39 paraphrased).

Activity Time:

Prior to telling the two Bible stories, play hide-n-seek with the children by hiding a coin and a picture of a sheep and letting the children find them. Tell the children they are going to represent God in this game. Hide the objects in easily locatable spots the first time. Then play the game again and hide them in impossible places. To add to the difficulty, turn the lights off and make the children search in the dark or in a dimly lit room. Let the children share how different they felt when they could find the coin and sheep and when they couldn’t.

Today we’re going to listen to a story about a man who lost a sheep and a woman who lost a coin. Both of these stories teach us about God’s love.

Once there was a man who owned one hundred sheep. In Jesus’ day, many people were farmers, and the animals they raised were often sheep. Sheep are dumb. Not that they don’t have any sense, but they need someone to guide them or they will wander into dangerous places. Sheep provided wool which could be used by the family to make clothes, or the sheep could be sold for money. Shepherds had to keep a careful eye on their sheep to keep thieves from stealing them and wild animals from killing them. These sheep represented money for this farmer. Losing one of them was troublesome.

This man could have been out in the open pasture letting his sheep eat grass. At night, shepherds would bring their sheep back into a fold. It may have been a pen or perhaps an area protected by trees or hedges. As they came into the fold, the shepherd would count them. When all were safely inside, he would lay or sit across the gate or opening so nothing could get into the pen and steal or kill his sheep.

On one occasion, this shepherd was counting his flock and he only counted ninety nine. Immediately, he left them and began searching for the missing sheep. Fortunately, he found him alive. He carried him around his neck where all four of the sheep’s legs were lying on his chest. Holding him securely, he took him home and called his friends for a celebration. He was excited that he had found his missing sheep.

Reflection: It takes one hundred pennies to make a dollar. Suppose you were counting the money in your piggy bank and only had ninety-nine cents. You knew the last time you counted you had one hundred pennies. You hadn’t spent any. Would you look for the one cent, or would you say, “Oh well, it’s just a penny.” How many of you pick up a penny if you see one lying in the parking lot or on the store floor? Do you think pennies are important? What if I told you the one sheep represented you, and the farmer searching represented God? Or the one penny represented you, and the person picking it up represented God? Would you feel differently? How would you feel if you lost something that belonged to your parents or grandparents? What would you do? How do you think God feels when people won’t follow him?

The next story is about a woman who lost a coin. Women in Jesus’ day received ten silver coins when they got married. Sometimes they were used to make a wedding headdress. Not only did the coins have monetary value but they also had sentimental value. It would be similar to your parents or grandparents giving you something that belonged to them when they were younger. Perhaps something their parents or grandparents had given them.

The woman in this story lost one of the coins. She was sad and upset. Houses in this day didn’t have electric lights—only candles or oil lamps. Her house may have only had one window. Imagine how dark it was and how difficult it was for her to find this coin. But she looked anyway. The coin had value. It would be like a woman or man losing their wedding ring today. She looked under every piece of furniture and swept out all the corners. When she had almost given up hope of finding it, she saw it. Like the shepherd, she called her friends together for a celebration.

Reflection: What do you think you would do with something your parents or grandparents gave you that had been in your family for a long time? Would it be important for you to take care of it and keep it safe? Do you think you might get tired of it and sell it?

Jesus told these stories to illustrate God’s love. You and I are like the one lost sheep and the lost coin. God wants every single person to be his child. Before we become his child, we are like the lost sheep and coin. But God is like the shepherd and the woman. He looks for us until he finds us. The voice inside you that makes you feel bad when you do something wrong is God searching for you. When we believe Jesus died for our sins and when we choose to love and serve him, we have been found by God. When God finds us, we need to help God find others who are lost. Like the people who celebrated with the shepherd and woman, we need to be excited when we see other people trust Jesus as their Savior.

Reflection: How does it make you feel to know God is always searching for people to become his children? The sheep and coin that were found also represent people who are willing to say “I’m sorry” for their sins. Is it difficult for you to say “I’m sorry?” How do you feel when you see someone come to know Jesus as their Savior? What can you do to help a friend come to know Jesus?  Is it difficult for you to apologize to your parents, teachers, or friends when you’ve done something wrong? How about God?

Let each child tell one thing they learned from the stories of the Lost Coin and the Lost Sheep.