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Smyth and Helwys Uniform Series Lesson Outline for July 26, 2015

God Shows Clemency         Micah 7: 14-20

Focal Outline:           Micah 7: 14-15                      Guide us

                                    Micah 7: 16-17                      The nations shall see

                                    Micah 7: 18-20                      Compassion upon us           

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

  1. God’s grace is amazing. But, God’s amazing grace should make a difference in our lives.
  2. We sometimes act in ways that create distance in relationships. But, God’s mercy can restore us.
  3. God’s actions can help others—even those who have witnessed the failures of God’s own people.
  4. There is a difference between accepting and presuming. We are called to accept God’s grace.

 

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

  1. What should God’s mercy and grace inspire that would be different in me—if I allow God to change me?
  2. When have I seen God do a work of unexpected restoration and change?
  3. What more can God do when we are joining with God as a positive example to others?
  4. How does my spirit need humbling in order that my acceptance would be with a pure heart?

 

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!]

 

Who is a God like our God? (p98) Our lesson writer will ask us this simple question. Yet, the longer we ponder the less simple the notion seems. For our God simply does some things that a regular god doesn’t have to do. God could lead with a more forceful approach, yet our God grants us freedom of choice. God could preside over our transformation in a less than grace-filled way. Yet, mercy and grace are hallmarks of our salvation experience.

Micah had a tough word to deliver. For the people needed to be called to the shepherding possibilities found only in a merciful God. God had not given up on the people, but longed for their return. God wanted to lead them into healthier ways. And, God wanted to get on with the business that Israel had been created for. An alternative to all the other nations was needed. A people in step with God could lead by example and inspiration. Instead, the people were presuming God’s blessings and living according to their pleasures.

As much as Israel had disappointed, God’s grace was still available. God intended to transform and hold up the people of Micah’s day. Israel had a future hope. God wants our attention and our allegiance, too. Sometimes, I remember to pray in thanks that God has included me in the larger plan. God is on mission to bring to completion our very creation. That we have a place in that work is not to be taken for granted. How recently have you spent time in thanks that you are still a part of God’s future?

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

  1. Have you had a moment—or even a season—where you knew you had experienced God’s mercy and forgiveness in a very specific way? How did that affect your living?

 

  1. Our lesson writer poses these interesting questions– Has anyone ever forgiven you for something you did? Have you ever received mercy that you didn’t deserve? If so, how did you feel? Talk these over, enjoying a chance to share. Enjoy the discussion.

 

  1. People of other faiths at times struggle to understand the Christian concept of grace or mercy that is so central to our transformation. How would you put words to these acts of God in our lives?

 

  1. Take a look at “Beginning the Lesson” on p85 of your Uniform Teaching Guide. When have you forgiven someone who has wronged you?

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…

            Micah 7: 14-15                      Guide us

To whom is Micah speaking as v14 unfolds? In v14-15, what pleas can you list that are lifted on the peoples’ behalf? In v14, what is the aim of the phrase “…the flock that belongs to you”?

 

Micah 7: 16-17                      The nations shall see

Compared even with sinful Israel, what does v16-17 say is the fate of other opposing nations? What are the sources of hope for Israel found in these 2 verses? How can this ancient word bring us hope today?

 

Micah 7: 18-20                      Compassion upon us

V18 attempts to affirm some qualities of God. What qualities do you find here? In v19-20, what are some additional sources of hope that the prophet affirms? Be as specific as you can, listing these as a group.

 

  1. On p94 (lrge. print) our lesson author says, “Just like the people addressed in Micah, we sometimes act in ways that cut us off from God and from those who love and support us. But God’s mercy can restore us too.” What draws you closer to God? What can cut you off from God? How could this affect your living?

 

  1. How does Jn 10:11-18 relate to this passage? How about Mt 5:43-45?

 

  1. On p96 our lesson writer says “What will amaze people who are opposed to god and to those who believe in God? What will inspire them to come to God in humility?” Read at least a couple more sentences into the paragraph. Be sure to discuss this, noting our part in what God is doing throughout all of Creation.

 

  1. In the Uniform Commentary, Brian Harbour opens with a story about God’s radical forgiveness/forgetfulness. See p59-60 for discussion of who is addressing who in Micah 7. What is the “forest” metaphor of v7:14? Later on p60, where does the prophet want the Shepherd to lead them? See p61 for help with the imagery of v16-17! See p62 for why Micah believes God will show this kind of mercy to Israel.

 

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. Read Ps 23 and Jn 10: 11-18 again this week. How is God like a Shepherd, in your view?
  2. Pray to the great Shepherd. Submit yourself and ask God for fresh guidance.
  3. One well-known hymn has this chorus: “Count your blessings, name them one by one…” If you know the song, sing it this week. Pray in confession. Pray in thanks.  Count your blessings; name them one by one!

 

  1. See “Applying the Lesson” on p90 of the Uniform Teaching Guide. How should the points from Jesus’ model prayer inform our own living?
Uniform 7-26-15

Smyth and Helwys Uniform Series Lesson Outline for August 2, 2015

Our Redeemer Comes        Isaiah 59: 15b-21

Focal Outline:           Isaiah 59: 15-16                     And it displeased God

                                    Isaiah 59: 17-19                     Garments of vengeance

                                    Isaiah 59: 20-21                     God will redeem                 

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

  1. God’s spirit will come upon people who repent of sins. But, if we don’t repent we block the path to God.
  2. Thinking about how our actions—or failure to act—might affect injustice can be eye-opening.
  3. In Isaiah 59, God finds no one willing to intervene. So, God pours out wrath on those who live unjustly.
  4. Through Isaiah, God reminds people of what they are supposed to do.

 

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

  1. How can we potentially block an all-powerful God from working in/through us as God might like?
  2. If we participate in worship with honesty, how might our actions change?
  3. Who deserves God’s wrath? Is that me? Is that someone I know? Why?
  4. Responsibility do you feel to partner with the Redeemer?

 

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!]

 

The good news of the Bible is always worth sharing. (p106) The Redeemer is good news as Isaiah has shared in the section that ch59 follows. God’s fierce and consistent movement is to redeem, transform and finish Creation. Even after some tough words of judgment, Isaiah proclaims God’s movement toward grace. This Redeemer is a central promise in Isaiah. Any way we can participate with God in telling this good news—and bringing about the movement forward—is faithful and welcomed.

God has been watching humanity. Isaiah tells that God offers a spirit that would come upon the faithful who have repented and joined in with God’s redemptive work. Trouble is, God’s evaluation came up a little short as far as helpers were concerned. No one was acting to intervene on behalf of those who were mistreated and used. No voice would speak out to interrupt societal patterns that disturbed God. So, God would act alone. However, this intervention by God will feature wrath and upheaval.

When we fail to speak up…when we fail to act…when we watch but do not counter societal ills—we appear complicit. God’s punishment for injustice included Israel. For Israel above all, had been commissioned to set a fresh pace. God had chosen to have an alternative people, so that others could see what Creation was meant to be. Eventually, God grew impatient. Who deserves God’s wrath? And, what all could be considered to be the wrath of God?

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

  1. How often do you read the news? How does the news make you feel? What questions about God do the headlines raise for you?

 

  1. Our lesson writer poses these questions– What injustices have you witnessed in your community? How did you react? Has something terrible happened but no one helped? Do you believe you have ever seen God take matters into God’s own hands? If so, when/how?

 

  1. You have heard people say that someone was “…going through the motions.” What does that mean? How often do you think that Christians around you simply go through the motions? Why?

 

  1. Take a look at “Beginning the Lesson” on p93 of your Uniform Teaching Guide. Why do you think justice is so important to God?

 

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…

            Isaiah 59: 15-16                     And it displeased God

Does Is 59: 1-15a give a summary as to what God saw and did not like? How does v15b state the issue? (no justice) In v16, what else does God see? In 16b, how did God react to this need?

 

Isaiah 59: 17-19                     Garments of vengeance

What does v17 remind you of? (Paul in Eph 6) Name the qualities God used in v17. (righteousness, salvation, vengeance, fury) What more do we learn about God’s wrath in v18? (wrath, requital) What is this “requital?”

 

Isaiah 59: 20-21                     God will redeem

In v20, what will God offer? (redemption) And, to whom? V21 describes a “covenant.” What is that covenant, and what of its terms do you understand as set forth here? How may God have done that?

 

  1. On p103 (lrge. print) our lesson author says, “Who deserves the wrath of God? Is it those who turn away from God and don’t uphold their end of the covenant? If so, maybe we all deserve wrath at one time or another.” How do you respond to these questions? Discuss within your group.

 

  1. How does Ps 89: 11-18 relate to this passage? How about Ro 3: 10-18?

 

  1. On p104 our lesson writer says “Some people have a hard time thinking of God as a warrior…But the Bible is clear that there are times when God needs to go to war.” How do you react to this assessment? How does the Bible support your conclusion?

 

  1. In the Uniform Commentary, Brian Harbour opens with a parallel illustration by a Nobel Prize winner. On p65-6, what are the 2 problems that Isaiah identifies? (Is 59: 15, 16) Why is the unwillingness to act deemed an offense equal to the iniquities themselves? On p67, as we explore the promise—what does “requital” mean? Also on p67, what does the name Isaiah gives his own son mean?

 

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. Read Is 59: 17-19 again this week. Have you ever seen God’s judgment in this way?
  2. Pray that God would help you to remember the expectations placed on Christians—and try your best!
  3. Is there a situation where God would like you to step in? Pray on this. If so, ask God for the courage to be hands and feet as needed. Be careful what you ask for, though!

 

  1. See “Applying the Lesson” on p98 of the Uniform Teaching Guide. Who is intervening today? Who has the power to intervene, but is doing nothing?
Uniform 8-2-15