I was recently invited to offer a devotional to open a small group meeting. The Lord placed Hebrews 3:1-6 on my heart and showed me a series of steps to relate a particular message. The message contains several important points, all of which lead up to answering the great “why” question and putting that answer into practice. What follows is a description of how you can lead this group devotional in the form of an object lesson. You can modify as you are led or clip steps described below if time is an issue. When I did this it took less than 30 minutes. To do this you will need a pack of index cards (enough for each person present) and a pen or pencil for each person.
Step 1 Setup
Pass out cards and pens/pencils to each person. As the presenter you must do each of these steps yourself both to demonstrate and to participate.
Step 2 Writing
a) Ask everyone to write their name on one side of their card.
b) Ask them to write a major personal accomplishment under their name.
c) On the opposite side of the card write the name of a favorite human bible character.
d) Below that write their favorite bible verse, passage or book.
Step 3 Fold, Spindle and Mutilate
Explain this step before telling people to do it. Treat this card as you see the world and Satan treating you for your faith. You may fold the card, bend it up, spool it, mutilate it, tear it, or do anything else you want to it, but you must not tear it into more than one piece. After explaining, have them do this.
Step 4 Smooth
Have everyone restore their card as best they can to its original smooth undamaged form.
Step 5 Explanation of above steps
Satan seeks to devour and destroy. You were not allowed to tear the card into more than one piece because God is one. He is undivided, unbroken, and we are created in His image. Our nature is corrupt and Satan will try to destroy us, but he can never damage us nor can we damage ourselves beyond hope of restoration by Christ. The accomplishment was damaged with you because our righteousness is as filthy rags. Only through the indwelling Holy Spirit can we bare good fruit. The human bible character is just like you. He or she is damaged goods, yet God used them for His purposes. We don’t have to be perfect to be used by God, we just need to repent and obey. As for the bible verse, explain that this is the hardest part of the lesson. Ask: how is Judeo-Christian religion different from every other world religion? Answer: we worship the Creator, but other religions worship the created. Scripture is a wonderful gift from God, but it is still a created thing. Worship of scripture is as wrong as worshiping angels, other people, idols, or anything else created in place of the Creator. Our faith must be given to the Creator alone. God can restore us because His nature is eternal and unchanging holiness. He is never corrupted by our sin.
Step 6 Hebrews 3:1-6
Read the passage aloud. Key points –
V1: we are all called; we need to agree with Christ (confess and obey).
V2: Be faithful as Jesus was faithful; the immutability (unchanging nature) of God.
V3: The builder is greater than the building.
V4: God is the ultimate builder.
V5: We are called to testify to this.
V6: Jesus is Son and we are House; we must persevere.
Step 7 Build a House of Cards
Reread verse 3. Lead everyone in building a card house with the index cards. Discuss how God uses everyone. Everyone has a place no matter how damaged. Discussion points may include what Jesus said about a mansion with many rooms waiting, restoration of house of Israel, importance of working together, parts of the body of Christ or bride of Christ, etc. Discuss how what is born corrupt dies but the incorruptible is born anew to glory like Christ. If or when the card house falls (or you knock it down) you may choose to read 1 Cor 15:42-49 or parts of that passage to explain the meaning.
Step 8 Why?
The greatest question of them all is why? Why are we here. Why does God put up with us, redeem us, love us? God’s purpose in creation is personal. His mercy and grace are personal. Faith is personal. We cannot ever replace that personal love relationship which restores, regenerates, renews, and converts us with an impersonal worship of any created thing above the Creator. God’s purpose is eternally tied to who He is: love. God is love (1 Jn 4:8).
Step 9 Be Love
Jesus said, follow me. Where does Jesus go? He comes and loves us. You can pass out bible tracts or bibles and tell people Jesus loves them. There’s nothing wrong with that message – it is true. But it is also impersonal. Remember, Jesus’ purpose is purely and personal. Have everyone in the group pick up one of the index cards that is not their own. As leader, go to the person whose card you picked up. Explain to the group that you’re going to show them the difference between handing out a tract and introducing Jesus personally to someone. Place your hands on the shoulders of the person you selected. Look into their eyes and say something like: “I believe in Jesus because I know he loves me, he forgives my sin and he lives in my heart. Jesus loves you and he wants you to trust him. I know this because I love you, too.” Then wrap the person in a sincere hug. After doing this, challenge everyone to approach the person on their card and repeat what you did.