Leaders: this is just for you! Read ahead of time to engage with the Bible story on an adult level and prepare your heart to teach on Sunday.

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1 Leader DEVOTIONAL Leaders: this is just for you! Read ahead of time to engage with the Bible story on an adult level and prepare your heart to teach on Sunday. Ezra was a priest in Babylon at the end of the exile. More than 50 years after the first group of exiles returned to Jerusalem and completed and dedicated the temple, Ezra led a second group back to Jerusalem. Just as God had been with Nehemiah, He was with Ezra granting him favor with the Persian king. The king gave Ezra permission to go to Jerusalem. He provided Ezra with a letter and access to resources to ensure safe travel. (See Ezra 7:11-26.) Ezra traveled to Jerusalem with a purpose. God s people had spent 70 years in exile, and they needed to be reminded how to live. As a scribe, Ezra was an expert on the law of Moses, and he had determined in his heart to study the law of the Lord, obey it, and teach its statutes and ordinances in Israel (Ezra 7:10). Under Nehemiah s leadership, the people had rebuilt Jerusalem s walls. They gathered together at the Water Gate to hear the law of Moses. Men, women, and children anyone who could understand came to listen to the reading of God s Word. From early morning until midday, Ezra read from the book of the law of Moses. He stood on a high wooden platform where everyone could see and hear him. Ezra opened the book of the law, and everyone stood up. The Levites helped the listeners understand the words of the law. The people reacted strongly to hearing and understanding the law of Moses. Verse 9 says the people were weeping. The law revealed their sin. God s Word is powerful. The law reveals our sin and how short we fall of meeting God s standard. As you teach kinders, help them recognize that we cannot meet God s requirements. We need a Savior. God sent Jesus to obey the law perfectly and die for our sins. We can trust in Him for salvation.

2 The BIBLE STORY Ezra Read the Law Nehemiah 8:1-12 Hurray! Hurray! The walls around Jerusalem were finished. The people had worked very hard. God had helped them, and they had fixed the walls and the city gates. One morning, the people got together. Men, women, and children came. Everyone wanted to hear Ezra (EZ ruh) the priest read God s Word. The sun was just coming up when Ezra carried out God s Word so he could read it. God s words were written on a scroll. Ezra stood on a tall platform made of wood. Some men stood next to Ezra. Men stood on his right and on his left. Ezra opened the scroll, and everyone could see it. Ezra unrolled the scroll and began to read God s Word aloud. Everyone in the crowd listened carefully. All the people stood up. Ezra praised God, and the people lifted up their hands. Amen! Amen! the people said. Then they bowed down with their faces close to the ground. All the people worshiped God together. Some of the men there explained God s words to the people. They helped the people understand what Ezra read. When the people heard God s Word, they were sad. All of the people cried. The words from God were about how to live, and the people had not been living the way God wanted them to live. They were sorry for disobeying God. Ezra, his helpers, and Nehemiah (NEE huh MIGH uh) the governor said, This day is special. Do not be sad. Do not cry. This was a happy day. Ezra said to the people, Go home and get ready to have a feast! Eat good food and drink good drinks. Share what you make with people who don t have any food or drinks. Then Ezra said again, Today is a special day. Be happy! God makes us strong. So the people did what Ezra told them to do. They got ready to have a feast. They ate good food and drank good drinks. They had a big party! The people were happy because God gave them His Word to help them do the right things. Christ Connection: The Bible teaches us about God and Jesus. It helps us know the right things to do. We do wrong things a lot, but when we know and love Jesus, He helps us say no to sin. Jesus died to rescue us from sin.

3 Small Group OPENING Welcome time Greet each kid as he or she arrives. Use this time to help new kids connect to your group. As kids arrive, ask them about their favorite books. Ask them what they like to read (or have read to them) and why they like it. Say Today our Bible story will feature a man who read a very special book to God s people. What book do you think he might have read? We will find out soon! Activity page Find the Bibles activity page, 1 per child pencils or crayons Invite kinders to find and circle the six Bibles in the scene. Say Do you know how many Bibles you have in your house? The Bible is the most important book there is. God s words are in the Bible. We should read it! In today s Bible story, God s people were happy because the walls around Jerusalem were finished. One morning, all the people got together. Everyone wanted to hear Ezra the priest read God s Word to them. Key passage activity Key Passage Poster craft sticks, 2 per kid 3-by-6-inch papers, 1 per kid pens glue or tape Provide each kid with two craft sticks and a 3-by-6-inch piece of paper. Help kids write out the key passage on their paper. Provide glue or tape for the kids to connect the craft stick to each end of the rectangle; then show them how to roll up their scroll. Use a chair as a small platform. Take volunteers who want to come to the front and read the verses out loud from the miniature stage. Say Ezra read God s Word, which was probably recorded on a scroll at that time, to God s people. Our key passage reminds us of God s faithfulness, love, and mercy. All three of these traits are seen in God s promise to send Jesus to rescue us from sin. God kept that promise, showing His faithfulness. Jesus died on the cross and rose again to save us, showing God s mercy and love to make us right with Him. Transition to Bible study paper To gain the attention of all the kinders to move them to Bible study, flip off the lights or clap a simple rhythm for the children to copy. Roll a sheet of paper like a scroll. Open the scroll and play out reading each child s name to call them to Bible study.

4 Small Group ACTIVITIES Bible story review & Bible skills Bibles, 1 per kid Main Point Poster Lead kinders to play out the Bible story using the following script and actions: Everyone listened carefully as Ezra read God s Word. [Cup hands around ears and lean in.] All the people stood and lifted up their hands to praise God. [Stand tall and lift up hands.] The people said, Amen! Amen! [Say, Amen! Amen! ] Then they bowed with their faces to the ground and worshiped God together. [Bow down with face to ground.] Some of the men explained God s words to the people, and they began to cry. They had not been living the way God wanted them to live. [Pretend to cry.] Ezra and the others said not to cry. This was a special day! [Pretend to wipe away tears.] The people had a party because they were happy God gave them His Word! [Jump up and down and clap.] Play through the script and actions several times, moving faster each time. Have fun trying to see how quickly kids can complete all the actions. Say God sent His people into exile because of their sin, but He brought them home because of His faithfulness, love, and mercy. Ezra read God s Word to teach the people how to obey God. They wept when they heard it, but Ezra told them to celebrate instead! God s Word is powerful to change our lives. The Bible calls Jesus the Word. Jesus died on the cross and rose again to pay for our sins. When we trust in Him, God changes our hearts and gives us new life! Engage Option 1: Bible bookmarks Bible Bookmarks printable Bibles, 1 per kid crayons or markers hole punch ribbon, 6-inch lengths scissors clear contact plastic Provide a bookmark printable for each kid. Invite kids to decorate their bookmarks with crayons or markers. Encourage them to find a favorite verse in the Bible and copy it onto the back of their bookmarks. Suggest kids copy the key passage, Lamentations 3: Assist kids in covering the front and back of their bookmarks with clear contact plastic. Then punch a hole at the top of the bookmark. Tie a short length of ribbon through the hole. Prompt kids to place their bookmarks in their Bibles to use as they read God s Word this week. Say Those bookmarks look great! They can help you keep your place as you read the Bible. If you don t already know the books of the Bible, try to learn them! God s Word is so amazing. As we heard today, Ezra read God s Word to teach the people how to obey God. God s Word is powerful. When Ezra read God s Word, the people changed their

5 ways and loved God more. The Bible tells us about Jesus, who is called the Word. Jesus is God the Son. He came to live with people on earth, and He has the power to change our hearts. Throughout the Bible, we can see that God had a plan all along to rescue people from sin through His Son, Jesus. When we trust in Him, God forgives our sin and gives us new life. Option: Review the gospel with boys and girls. Explain that kids are welcome to speak with you or another teacher if they have questions. Option 2: Molded and re-molded play dough or modeling clay Invite the kids to sit in a circle on the floor or around a table. Provide play dough or modeling clay. Allow each kid to mold their dough into a shape of their choosing. After a minute or so, all the kids will give their creation to the kid on their left. Kids will reshape the clay into something new. In a minute or two, instruct the kids to pass their sculptures again, and again change the work into something new. Say Sometimes it can be really difficult to give up control over things in our lives, like your sculptures. We don t always like it when other people change things and make them different. God s people refused to give God control of their lives for a long time. God eventually punished their sin by sending them into exile. When God brought His people home and helped them finish the walls and the temple, Ezra read God s law to the people. God s Word changed them! They threw a celebration to honor God for His faithfulness and power. We give God control of our lives by trusting Jesus as our Savior. The Bible tells us that the Word of God has the power to transform our lives. Jesus is the Word who came to live with people on earth. When we trust in Him, He changes our hearts to love God and want to obey Him. Prayer time Class prayer request notebook Invite kids to think of a quiet place they can go to read the Bible or have it read to them, and to share with the class if they d like. Talk to them about the importance of daily time in the Word. Encourage them to ask their parents to help them read the Bible daily. Say Ezra knew that God s Word is powerful and able to change lives. Ezra read God s Word to teach the people how to obey God. God s Word can change us too! Jesus died on the cross and rose again to make the way for us to be with God, and when we read the Bible daily it transforms our lives! Take prayer requests. Pray, thanking God for giving us His Word. Ask Him to use it to change the life of each kid in your group. Closing and Pick-Up Bible Story Coloring Page, 1 per kid crayons or markers Big Picture Cards After prayer time is done, continue any unfinished activities and/or let kids color this week s Bible Story Coloring Page until parents arrive. Send each kid home with this week's Big Picture Card so kids and their parents can interact with the biblical content at home.

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