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Smyth and Helwys Uniform Series Lesson Outline for May 24, 2015

Gift of Languages               Acts 2: 1-7, 12; 1 Corinthians 14: 13-19

Focal Outline:           Acts 2: 1-4                              The day of Pentecost!

                                    Acts 2: 5-7, 12                        Amazed and perplexed

                                    1 Corinthians 14: 13-19       Spirit and Mind

Summary Statements: (To help you get a handle on the lesson truths.)

  1. Communication between God and Believer can take many shapes and forms.
  2. Pentecost was a Spirit-filled day in Church history. God continues to fill us with the same Spirit today.
  3. Being filled with the Spirit is not a onetime event. When we become Believers, this is a lifelong experience.
  4. God gave the Holy Spirit so that people could proclaim the gospel in a way that everyone could understand.

 

Questions for Thought: (To help you think of some questions to challenge with a “So What?”)  

  1. What are some of the many ways in which God communicates with us?
  2. How can connecting with Pentecost, and knowing ours is the same Spirit, help strengthen our faith?
  3. Why does the ongoing gift of the Spirit serve Believers so much better than a onetime event?
  4. How does the Spirit widen the scope and possibility of God’s kingdom?

 

Points to Ponder

[NOTE: These suggestions are to help your class be more interactive and discussion oriented. Using 3-5 different ideas will enhance your preferred teaching style and involve class participants. Build excitement and intimacy in your learners!]

 

I have to admit my discomfort with some aspects when we start to talk about the gifts of the Holy Spirit. These last weeks have brought us caution about trying to rank or celebrate some gifts over others. We have been reminded that gifts from God are always given according to need and by God’s plan. Then we encounter a wrinkle this week: tongues. My discomfort especially with tongues comes from my disconnection with that practice. I just haven’t been around the spiritual gift of tongues. Paul had been, though. He had seen enough to know that this gift from God could be a distraction. And, an empty hole into which attention poured.

Gifts are always to be understood as coming from God. So, the use of gifts is always to be evaluated in terms of how they serve God’s kingdom. That is primary for Paul. I wonder, though, how primary this is for us? Our bent to distraction and our fascination with the exciting, make gifts like “tongues” one that stands out. Something that can evidently be helpful can be equally an unhelpful sideshow.

God calls us to be God’s special people. God has done many signs and wonders. Paul acknowledges that tongues could be an example of such. But, in this study our challenge is to take those lessons and then move on past just that one gift (tongues). For there are larger and perhaps more current gifts/practices to which Paul’s instruction applies. How will you apply his teachings to your practice of faith?

Introductory Thoughts (5-15 minutes – These are for discussion to introduce this week’s Lesson Ideas.)

  1. How do you sense the Holy Spirit? When the Spirit moves in your life—or speaks a special word—what is that sensation like in your experience? Talk this over, sharing of your memories and understandings.

 

  1. If a friend asked you to describe the Holy Spirit, where would you start? How does one explain this mysterious movement of God in our lives? Be sensitive and gracious with the struggle for words.

 

  1. Some of us might attend a church where “tongues” are spoken. Many of us do not. Paul’s focus about the use of tongues is that any worship we offer should build all others up. What “churchy” language can tend to leave others out?

 

  1. Take a look at “Beginning the Lesson” on p20 of your Uniform Teaching Guide. When is our witness of Jesus Christ most effective?

 

Studying & Discussing the Passage (20-25 minutes – See Brian Harbour’s Commentary for added insights and explanations.)

  1. Share an overview of the Lesson from “Locating the Text” (Teaching Guide ) and then examine the Focal Passage using a variety of teaching methods…

            Acts 2: 1-4                              The Day of Pentecost!

What does “Pentecost” mean? Why were they together? Who was there as v1 unfolds? In v2-3, what sensations do we hear described? What do these signify? How does v4 clarify what happened here?

 

Acts 2: 5-7, 12                        Amazed and perplexed

Why is the detail in v5 important? What does v6-7 describe, as you understand? How do the unassigned v8-11 help you to understand Pentecost? Why did they ask the question found in v12?

 

            1 Corinthians 14: 13-19       Spirit and Mind

What does Paul instruct about “tongues” in v13? Why? How does v14 justify his position? Work through v15-17, listing the points that Paul makes. Why isn’t how you pray just a matter between you and God, according to Paul? In v18, what is Paul thankful for? How does v19 drive home the point Paul is trying to make?

 

  1. On p24 (lrge. print) our lesson author says, “The main point is that the presence of the Holy Spirit helps men and women understand the gospel.” Do you believe this is an apt summary? If so, does this only apply to situations of preaching and testimony or does this apply more broadly? Why? Why not?

 

  1. How does Eph 5: 18 relate to this passage? How about Dt 4: 32-40?

 

  1. On p25 our lesson writer says “The gospel message is meant to be shared. What are you doing to make the good news easier to understand?” What kind of self-assessment might you need to do in order to truly answer this question? Who in your life might provide you with some insight that helps with this question?

 

  1. In the Uniform Commentary, Brian Harbour leads with a helpful observation about Sir Winston Churchill. Later on p14, what is “Pentecost” in the Jewish calendar? On p15, who is there and how many? Later on p15, what do wind and fire symbolize? Top of p16, why was the gift of tongues given by God? P16-17 tells why the gift of interpretation is so important. See “Conclusion” on p17 for at least 3 lessons these texts give us.

 

Applying the Lesson (10-20 minutes – Choose one or two questions to encourage action plans for the coming week!)

Discuss any of the following questions…

  1. We return to the lesson writer’s challenging point on p25: the gospel message is meant to be shared.
  2. Ask God to help you to be even more self-aware about how clear you make the message for others!
  3. The Corinthians were bragging about speaking in tongues. We may have other points of pride that compare with this specific one. What in your church, or in your faith practice, might you think a little too highly of?

 

  1. See “Applying the Lesson” on p25 of the Uniform Teaching Guide. In your church or fellowship, what might be the secret insider “language” or group that keeps outsiders…outside?
Uniform 5-24-15

Smyth and Helwys Uniform Series Lesson Outline for May 31, 2015

The Greatest Gift is Love           1 Corinthians 13

Focal Outline:           1 Corinthians 13: 1-3                       If I do not have love

                                    1 Corinthians 13: 4-7                       What is love?

                                    1 Corinthians 13: 8-13                     Love lasts

Summary Statements: (To help you get a handle on the lesson truths.)

  1. There is a more excellent way: more than a feeling, love is a lifestyle of putting others first.
  2. Our culture’s obsession with romantic love makes it hard to comprehend God’s kind of love.
  3. Agape is not a feeling that comes and goes. Agape is a decision to live like Christ in all we do, think and say.
  4. Humans struggle to comprehend forever. Paul tries to explain the permanence of love.

 

Questions for Thought: (To help you think of some questions to challenge with a “So What?”)  

  1. What theological difference does it make to comprehend love as a lifestyle more than a feeling?
  2. How do current cultural understandings/inclinations about romantic love affect our understanding of God?
  3. What could loving as Christ loved really mean for our everyday?
  4. How is love such an enduring quality? And, why is this quality so important above all others?

 

Points to Ponder

[NOTE: These suggestions are to help your class be more interactive and discussion oriented. Using 3-5 different ideas will enhance your preferred teaching style and involve class participants. Build excitement and intimacy in your learners!]

 

But if I do not have love… That phrase adds a dimension to the “Love Chapter” of the Bible. Just what this dimension is—how to best describe that unique quality—is somewhat of an elusive challenge for me. At times, this quality is rather haunting to me. That is, the longer I live I realize that we can do things in ways….or for reasons…or perhaps with unintended consequences…that are far from loving. With this growing conscience, then, I realize that it can be easier than I once thought to not have love. You see my struggle? What is your reaction to this week’s text?

Challenging to me also would be Paul’s description of just how empty our words can be. On p31, our lesson writer will explore briefly what it might mean to be as a noisy gong or a loud clanging cymbal. The conclusion is that our empty or love-less words can often be as annoying as a toneless, obnoxious instrument. My, that is painful to hear.

Here is the good thing. Paul will not leave us only with challenge or indictment. In this text, we see the comparison and contrast between love and the absence of love. Paul speaks of some of the healthiest qualities of solid relationships. We are given a timeless, lasting quality in his word picture. Love never ends! If you have to place your bet in life (figurative)—and we all do– Paul says to place that wager on love.

Introductory Thoughts (5-15 minutes – These are for discussion to introduce this week’s Lesson Ideas.)

  1. We have all known super-talented people who were also quite selfish. Today’s text will highlight the transformative power of love. How might the power of transforming love affect-selfish-yet-talented people?

 

  1. Our scripture affirms that God is love! If a friend asked you to describe how God loves– where would you start? Be sensitive and gracious with the struggle for words.

 

  1. In Matthew 22: 36-40, Jesus answered a question about the greatest commandment by stating that we are to love God and love each other. What does it mean to love God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength?

 

  1. Take a look at “Beginning the Lesson” on p27 of your Uniform Teaching Guide. If you use this one—notice that you’ll want to be set up to play the song mentioned! What was Paul’s “more excellent way”?

 

 

Studying & Discussing the Passage (20-25 minutes – See Brian Harbour’s Commentary for added insights and explanations.)

  1. Share an overview of the Lesson from “Locating the Text” (Teaching Guide ) and then examine the Focal Passage using a variety of teaching methods…

            1 Corinthians 13: 1-3                       If I do not have love

In light of last week’s lesson, what does v1’s mention of “tongues” have to do with love? Why are the wonders of v2 “nothing” if one does not have love? How could one do the acts of v3 and not have love?

 

1 Corinthians 13: 4-7                       What is love?

In v4-7, go through as a group and list all of what love “is.” Then, list what love “is not.”   In the context of Church, why might Paul have offered this counsel? Which do you learn more from—the “is” or “is nots”?

 

            1 Corinthians 13: 8-13                     Love lasts

In v8, how might it be true that love “never ends”? How do these other gifts in v8 “end”? What point does Paul make in v9-10? How do v11-12 further his point about the importance of love’s endurance? In the end, why is “love” the most important of the three great qualities?

 

  1. On p31 (lrge. print) our lesson author says, “A ‘noisy gong’ or ‘clanging cymbal’ would be loud and annoying. Paul compares someone who speaks without love to a toneless, obnoxious instrument.” How have you experienced Paul’s conviction here to be true? Why do we in the Church need especially to take this in?

 

  1. How does Gal 5: 19-26 relate to this passage? How about Mt 22: 36-40?

 

  1. On p35 our lesson writer says “If we lived and died and nothing more, what we do now wouldn’t matter. But there is so much more, and what makes every moment significant.” In this last paragraph of our lesson, what is the writer striving to emphasize? Why does Eternity make the “now” matter even more?

 

  1. In the Uniform Commentary, Brian Harbour leads with a strong story from the life of Edwin Markham. On p20, is Paul saying that love is “better” than other abilities? See lower p20-22 for help with several key Greek words/phrases. On lower p21, how does Christian love differ from both eros and philia loves?

 

Applying the Lesson (10-20 minutes – Choose one or two questions to encourage action plans for the coming week!)

Discuss any of the following questions…

  1. How could love make your talents more meaningful to others? Consider your own gifts.
  2. What could God do through you if you committed to act in a greater sense of love?
  3. How can you take the principles Paul shares about agape into your relationships? How have you shown God’s kind of love to others this week? Ask God to help you keep the qualities of agape in mind each day.

 

  1. See “Applying the Lesson” on p31 of the Uniform Teaching Guide. Think of someone with whom you struggle. Is there some kind of way you could show them love this week?
Uniform 5-31-15