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Spirit-Controlled I

This object lesson requires a bit of preparation and supplies, so plan ahead! I have to admit that I have adapted the first half of this object lesson to one or two other lessons that I have either seen demonstrated or read about. So if it seems a little familiar, you may have seen or read it before. Unfortunately, I have no idea who should be credited for the idea. However, the second half is my own application.

Theme Verses:

Ephesians 5:18
Romans 12:1-2


1 large glass jar
Small water-proof objects representing the list below
1-2 bags small marbles/stones
1 gallon water
Approx. 1 dozen inexpensive sponges (cut in half)
Permanent sharpie
Pan to hold wet items

Stop and think about all the activities, needs, projects and ďthingsĒ that consume our time, our talents and our lives, and your list might look something like the following:

Home/Furnishings, Relationships/Friends, Love/Romance, Clothing, Job/Vocation, Hobbies, Money/Finances, Education, Church/Spiritual Life, Car, Pets, Food, Music, Looks, Computer/Internet/facebook/Twitter, Vacation, Sports, Cell Phone/Texting, TV/Video games/Movies/WII, Security

Look around your home for small, waterproof objects that can represent the categories listed above, or the list you prepare. If you canít find something at home, go to a true dollar store (everything $1) or visit garage sales or thrift stores to find objects to match each of your categories. Be imaginative. For instance, a small picture frame can represent relationships, or friends. A small tea candle can represent romance. A jar of make up, mirror or brush can represent looks. A shell or small model airplane can represent vacations or getaways. An old TV remote can represent entertainment. A ceramic animal can represent a pet. A lock can represent security. You get the idea. Be sure you can fit all the items youíve collected into the glass jar. Hopefully theyíll fit so that the jar looks like nothing else could possibly fit into it. If necessary, add objects or change to larger objects so that the jar is filled to the top.

To peak the interest of your class participants as they enter the room, set out the jar and have all the objects placed across a table in the front of the room.

Lesson Launch:

Explain to your class that the objects sitting on the table represent all the activities, interests and possessions that have a place in our lives and in which we spend our time and money. One by one, explain what each object represents and place it in the jar.

If you werenít able to fit all the objects into the jar, or if you werenít able to find objects that appropriately represented all the life areas, tell your class that some key items arenít represented, mostly because of lack of space, such as hobbies, extra jobs or volunteer activities (and the areas you left out). But thatís just like our lives, isnít it? Weíre so busy and our lives are so full, that sometimes we often think we couldnít fit one more thing into our schedule.

Ask your class: Does this jar appear full to you?

It is, but believe it or not, there is still space for several more items. (At this point, begin pouring in the small marbles/stones. Itís not absolutely necessary to pour in all of the stones, as long as they understand the point that no matter how full our lives may seem, we always manage to add even more activities.) These smaller items represent events in our lives that arenít constants, that arenít an everyday part of our lives, such as: music/choir practice, committee meetings, church revivals, VBS, concerts, birthday or anniversary celebrations, etc.

After adding the marbles/stones, ask your class: Does the jar appear full now?

Review that we thought the jar was full after adding the objects, but it was still able to hold quite a few small stones. Now it looks full again, but if we poured in sand, what would happen? Obviously the jar would still be able to hold a fair amount of sand particles, meaning that no matter how full our lives, a schedule can always be readjusted and events moved because of emergencies or unexpected events, such as: a flat tire, illness, a doctorís visit, filling a prescription, a run to the grocery store for a forgotten recipe item, etc. (I make this point about adding the sand, but I choose not to pour in sand because it makes the illustration too messy.)

At this point, weíve added objects, small stones, and imagined adding in sand. For one last time, ask your class: Does the jar appear full now?

Unless your class members have seen the illustration before, most will agree the jar is full at this point. Well, youíre going to show them one more time that the jar still has room for one more item. Tell your class youíre going to add another substance, and thatís the Holy Spirit, represented by water. Begin pouring the water into the jar until it is full.

Ask your class: Based on the number of items in the jar, were you surprised by how much water the jar was able to hold?

While it may appear to be a lot of water, consider the following. Because our life (jar) is so full, and we are so busy, the Holy Spirit (water) is only able to fill those small areas that are left over. In and of themselves, none of the items represented here are evil or bad.  Actually, most of them enrich and give our lives fulfillment. But, like the scientific law that says no two objects can occupy the same space at the same time, the Holy Spirit (water) isnít able to co-exist with the activities and possessions already in our life.

Ephesians 5:18 states that we are to be filled with the Holy Spirit. In other words, we are to be controlled by Him. Does this jar, as it is, illustrate this point?

It absolutely does not. Ephesians 5:18 doesnít direct us to give the Holy Spirit our leftovers, or to only fill, or control, the crevices.

If youíve ever seen this object lesson before, hereís where it takes a detour. At this point, remove all the items that were in the jar and place them in the pan, which leaves only the water, the Holy Spirit. Now that the jar has been emptied of all the activities and events in our life, we can really see just how much influence of the Holy Spirit (water) has been allowed into our lifeÖ.not a whole lot.

Letís go back to Ephesians 5:18. To allow the Holy Spirit more influence in our lives, what has to happen? Since the activities and possessions in our life are to be filled and controlled by the Spirit, then the Holy Spirit has to be the dominant occupier of the space. God is the creator of this world and the author of science, so in His law two objects can occupy the same space.

Instead of replacing the objects as they were, because we know it would put us back in the same dilemma of a self-controlled life, our activities will now be represented by sponges, which will allow the Holy Spirit (water) to be absorbed and co-exist in the same space. (Have each of the categories represented by the objects printed on a sponge.)

As the activities/possessions are placed back in the jar, ask your class members for their input as to how each activity could be filled or controlled by the Holy Spirit. Itís really important that they understand how each object can have a spiritual use and that every area of their life can, and should, glorify the Lord.  Here are some ideas: Entertainment (ďBe careful little eyes what you see,Ē or use the entertainment as an outreach, or to disciple another), Music (that the music would be edifying and uplifting, i.e. praise/worship music), Pet (donít abuse it, care for it as God would), Food (eat food good for the body), Security (place your fears and trust in the Lord), Sports (use it as an outreach), etc. Be sure you are prepared to give a response for each object in the event your class members donít have one, or to be able to expand on what they say.

Now that the objects have been replaced by the sponges in the jar, and co-existing with the Holy Spirit, whatís different? There is a lot of room left over, meaning that we can allow the Holy Spirit even more control over our lives. Pour the remaining water into the jar to illustrate this point.

This object lesson not only illustrates the significance and difference in our lives when we hand over our control to the Holy Spirit, but it is also a great illustration of Romans 12:1-2, focusing particularly on verse 2:

ďI beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world, but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.Ē


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