Grades 3-6 Sunday School Lesson
In With the New!
Author’s Notes: Happy New Year, everyone! This weekend we are celebrating the arrival of another New Year. And as we do, we’re going to reflect on how wonderful it can be to receive new things; especially when they come straight from our Heavenly Father. He loves to give and make new things. So in today’s lesson, we’re going to explore God’s Word to find what some of those “new things” are, and how we might respond when we receive them.
Does everyone here know what the expression “hand-me-down” means? A hand-me-down is something we receive that has been used before. Many of us, even today, may be wearing clothes that have belonged to someone else before us; perhaps an older brother or sister, or maybe a friend. Many of us have furniture in our homes that has been given to us by someone else who no longer wanted or needed it.
Much of the time, hand-me-downs are in great condition. Sometimes they even look and feel brand new. And while we may really appreciate and enjoy receiving those gently used items, it’s also exciting to receive things that are brand new!
Did you know that the Bible tells us that our Heavenly Father likes to make and give new things? He does that just for us, to show us how special we are, to Him. Would you like to find out what new things God has waiting for you? We will in just a moment. But first, let’s take some time to learn a verse about one of those new creations God has promised. And that new creation just happens to be us!
Memory verse: (Have the children repeat this verse with you several times, until they are able to say it themselves. And encourage them to repeat it to others several times during the week, so that it’ll have a place in their hearts.)
“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” 2 Corinthians 5:17
Opening prayer: Lord, thank You for each student who’s here, today. And thank You for the new things You are waiting to give us, and the new things You’re wanting to do in our lives. Help us to have hearts open to those things that You have already prepared for us. For we ask in Jesus’ name. Amen.
This Week’s Lesson: In With the New!
(If your students have their own Bibles, and know them well enough, today’s lesson would be a great opportunity for a “sword drill.” With each new verse, say “draw your swords.” And students who have a Bible with them should hold them up in one hand. Then give the reference, chapter and verse, of the verse they are to find; and have them repeat the reference, together. When you say “Charge!” the students open their Bibles to search for the verse. When they find the verse, they should stand to let you know they have found it. Then have the first student who stands read the verse. You may also wish to give small prizes to the first person who finds each verse.
If you do not wish to do a sword drill, but have students who have their own Bibles with them, encourage them to find today’s verses and help with reading them to the class, when the time comes.)
This week, we are beginning a brand new year! How do you feel when you hear the word “new?” Sometimes new situations, like a new school or new assignment can be a little overwhelming. They can leave us feeling anxious and excited, all at the same time.
What about starting another new year? Many people face the new year with the same emotions we just mentioned. There may be some anxious feelings, not knowing what’s going to happen in the coming year. But there’s often lots of excitement as we anticipate new opportunities that may come our way.
We don’t ever need to worry about what might happen in the New Year when we remember that God is in complete control of our lives. He already knows what will happen in the coming year because He has made a plan for our lives. Jeremiah 29:11 says, “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.”
God has a good plan for our lives, and it include lots of new things. And today we’re going to get some Bible exercise, looking through our Bibles for some of the many “new” things God has promised us.
The first and most important new thing we are promised is what we found in our memory verse. Let’s recite it again, together: “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” 2 Corinthians 5:17 What new thing does God promise to those who are “in Christ?” He promises to make us new creatures. Our old, sinful nature will disappear, and be replaced with a new, godly nature. That means when Satan comes to tempt us to do something wrong, we will have the Holy Spirit in us to help us do the right thing.
But this promise isn’t for just anyone. It’s specifically for those who are “in Christ.” What do you think that means? Later in that same chapter of 2 Corinthians it says this: “For he hath made [Jesus] to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” (2 Corinthians 5:21) We are considered “in Christ” when God looks at us and sees the righteousness of His own Son, instead of the sin nature that once was ruling our lives. When we accept Jesus as our Savior, we are then covered in Jesus’ righteousness.
Once we are new creatures, God gives us each a new name to go along with our new nature. Revelation 2:17 says, “…To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it.”
And once we are new creatures with new names, we are then able to receive many more new things from our Heavenly Father. One of the most exciting promises we receive is the promise of a new way we can come to God. For the Old Testament followers of God, there were strict rules about when and how they were to approach God. They had to do so through the priests. They had to be careful to bring just the right sacrifice. And perform all the right rituals. But now that Jesus has paid the penalty for our sins, once we are saved, and are in Christ, we can come to God on our own. And His Word even says we can come boldly. Listen to what the book of Hebrews tells us about a new way to come to our Heavenly Father.
“Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus,
By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh;” Hebrews 10:19-20
We don’t have to bring a sacrifice to a priest, and have him offer it to the Lord, for us. God has offered us a new way to come to Him. When Jesus died on the cross, the veil in the Temple that separated God from the Jewish people was torn in two. Through Jesus’ sacrifice, God made the way for us to come directly to Him. We can go right to the holiest place, His throne, to confess our sins and share our prayers with Him.
And that invitation to come boldly to Him isn’t just a one time thing. In Lamentations, we find out that we can keep coming to God, every single day, because every day comes with another new thing. Let’s find out what it is.
“… his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness.” Lamentations 3:22-23
God’s love toward us is new every morning! Every day we can wake up and go directly to our Heavenly Father’s throne, where we can start off the day right. What better way could there be to start each new day…on track with the Lord!
That’s enough to put a new song in our hearts. King David thought so, too. Here’s how he put it:
“And he hath put a new song in my mouth, even praise unto our God: many shall see it, and fear, and shall trust in the LORD.” Psalm 40:3
How exciting! When we are saved, we are given a new nature, a new name, a new boldness to come to God’s throne, and the invitation to enjoy the love of God every day. And with a new song in our hearts, we can respond to all of these new blessings by singing praises back to the Lord.
But all of these wonderful, new gifts also come with a new responsibility. As Christians, we are to live in a way that will make it obvious to others that we are God’s children. How do we do that? By obeying a new commandment that Jesus, Himself, gave to His disciples. Jesus said this:
“A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” John 13:34-35
The love of God shows through us when we, in turn, show love to one another. When unsaved people look at us, they should be able to tell that we love God by looking at the way we treat others. If we don’t love them, then the love of God must be missing from our hearts. Can others see your new nature by the way you act toward the rest of God’s children?
As the New Year begins, this would be an excellent time to reflect on how we’re doing with the new commandment that Jesus left for us. How have you done, this year, showing God’s love to others? Have you shown God’s love to your friends? To your neighbors? And how about the tough one… to your family?
If you find that loving others is hard for you, then perhaps you’ll need to go back a little farther and consider whether or not you really have been made a new creature, in Christ. If you’ve never made that decision to ask Jesus into your heart and life, then there’s no better time than today to receive that new nature, and a new name. Imagine beginning a new year as a whole new person!
Closing Prayer: Heavenly Father, Thank You for Your Word, and for the many new things we find there. How exciting it is when You make us new creatures! And how wonderful are the many promises of all the new things You bring about in the lives of those who are Your children. If there are any here, today, who have not yet become new creatures, in Christ, please open their hearts even now. For we pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.
Activity: New Year’s Resolutions
Many people make a habit of taking some time, at the beginning of the New Year, to think about what changes they might like to make; or what new things they might like to do. Is there anything you think the Lord might be telling you that needs to be changed this year? Are there things you might consider doing for Him, in response to all He has done for you? Let’s make a list, together, of some things we could do this year to show God how much we appreciate all He has done for us. I’ll start us off with the first one. (share #1, then encourage your students to add more of their own. Offer more suggestions if they are having a hard time coming up with ideas.)
Remember that these things will not, in any way, earn us a place in Heaven. Only Jesus’ death on the cross could do that for us. These are just ways that we can show God how much we love Him, because He loved us first.
Happy New Year!