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Smyth and Helwys Uniform Series Lesson Outline for October 19, 2014

Hope Complains                  Job 24: 1, 9-12, 19-25

Focal Outline:           Job 24: 1                     Why?

                                    Job 24: 9-12               God Pays No Attention

Job 24: 19-25             Evil is Fleeting

 

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

  1. Sometimes it seems as though wicked people have all the success and can’t be stopped in doing bad things.
  2. We know from experience that life is not always fair, and that people suffer needlessly.
  3. In a dark night of the soul, it is difficult to keep listening for a word from a silent God.
  4. While we wait for God’s justice, we can be active agents of God’s transformational work.

 

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

  1. When injustice, or life’s unfairness, cause you to struggle—what do you typically do with that struggle?
  2. Why do you think God set things up with suffering and injustice as possibilities?
  3. What has challenged you most in listening for a helpful (or hopeful) word from God?
  4. Like Mother Teresa, how can I build the maturity to keep serving even while struggling spiritually?

 

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!]

 

Why? really is a fair question when we talk with God. Don’t you think? One of the most hopeful notes to be found in the complaints the prophets made—and in Job’s dialogues—is that our God is big enough for our deepest honesty. Don’t you find that a source of strength and hope? If prayer is a discipline of being with God, then our best prayers would seem to be our most honest ones. Sadly, any of us can catch ourselves polishing up words as we try to impress God. Or, as we try to bargain with, convince or manipulate God.

The dark night of the soul is a difficult time. Take in the pain that Job makes so clear! This much is palpable. Job’s friends add hurt to the disillusionment and fear that Job already feels. Now, in this week’s text we hear him say, “Why are times not kept by the Almighty?” God is taking so long to intervene that Job wonders when he will ever hear from God. Hurry up, God!–Job seems to say.

Yet God pays no attention to their prayer. This painful line is found in v12, as Job observes the veritable wasteland of injustice around him. Others have cried out to God, only to be met with what seem to be silence and absence. But, as we study through the section in v19-25, a shift happens. Job asserts that in God’s world, evil’s reign will not last. Sheol itself can be counted upon to rise up and “snatch away” those who have sinned. Job says that God’s eyes are never off of those who commit wrongs. They will wither and fade. So, if we have hope as Job had hope—what should be our response to pain and suffering? That will be an interesting topic for us to take up. We can still serve and live faithfully—even when God seems so distant—if we choose.

 

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

  1. The word why is a fair question. What are some of the whys of life that cause you to ponder? What are some of the bigger things that cause you to ask God, “why?” See Simon Sinek’s TED Talk on Why? For more.

 

  1. Discuss within your group—when have you struggled to find evidence of God’s nearness or activity within your life? Or, maybe what seemed to be the absence of God in a friend/loved one’s life?

 

  1. Think about your study of scripture. What biblical texts or episodes can seem the most brutal or perplexing? (violence in Judges; Hebrew enslavement; a murderous king Saul; perhaps the NT persecution of Christians?)

 

  1. Take a look at “Beginning the Lesson” on p49 of your Uniform Teaching Guide. How long has it been since you had a completely honest conversation with 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…

 

Job 24: 1                     Why?

Why can’t God seem to care about our needs—and in time to help us? Is this a fair summation of Job’s question in v1?   Why? Why not? In v1b, what similar question is Job asking?

           

            Job 24: 9-12               God Pays No Attention

In v9-11, how would you list the complaints Job gives voice to? (children taken, extortion, lack of basic needs being met, hunger, poverty, unfair wages?) In v12, what accusation is made of God?

 

            Job 24: 19-25             Evil is Fleeting

If we assume that Job has a longer view of time, how can we hear v19-24 as an optimistic outlook from Job? In v25, what challenge does Job issue to those around him? (prove me wrong!)

 

  1. On p53 (lrg. print) our lesson writer says, “Even with so much evidence to the contrary, Job trusted that God intends to offer justice and restoration.” How do these scripture texts render the lesson writer to such a conclusion? Does this sound like where Job is to you? Why? Why not?

 

  1. How does Ps 55: 1-8, 12-23 relate to this passage?   How about Jb 14: 7-13?

 

  1. On p57 our lesson author says “Job has painted a bleak picture of how wickedness thrives in his world….The saying, ‘No good deed goes unpunished,’ seems accurate.” What causes people offer up that saying, at times? What does our scripture have to offer that might give us reason for optimism under God?

 

  1. In the Uniform Commentary, Brian Harbour suggests that Job skips a response to his friends, in this section. Instead, on p34 what 2 responses does Job make to God? On p35, what has Job so impatient as he observes that God does not keep “time”? On p36-7, what has scholars so perplexed in Job 24: 19-25?

 

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

Discuss any of the questions…

  1. a. If you are struggling spiritually, ask God to help you find evidence of God’s presence in your life.
  2. Pray for patience as you wait for that evidence, and for the strength to keep on looking!

 

  1. Here is the tough assignment of the dark night: that even while we struggle and feel distant from God—that we continue living a life of faithfulness, service, justice and love. How can you move toward the strength to try this act of faith? What can build that maturity now?

 

  1. See “Applying the Lesson” on p54 in the Uniform Teaching Guide. How can our faith serve us best when we feel like Job? What is there for us to draw from?

 

People go where they know they’ve been prepared for and are cared for!

 

Bo Prosser, series editor, is the Coordinator for Organizational Relationships at CBF in Atlanta.

Charles Qualls, session writer, is Associate Pastor at Second-Ponce de Leon Baptist Church in Atlanta.

 

Copyright SS Helps 2014            All references to Smyth and Helwys literature are used by permission of the Publisher.

All materials used are available through Smyth & Helwys Publishing,www.helwys.com, 800-747-3016.

 

Send Comments to:        Center for Christian Education ATTN: Gail Prosser e-mail – gail24@comcast.net

2511 Summeroak Dr. Tucker GA 30084 phone: (770)493-6648

 Uniform 10-19-14

Smyth and Helwys Uniform Series Lesson Outline for October 26, 2014

Hope Satisfies            Job 42: 1-10

Focal Outline:           Job 42: 1-3                 Job Repents

                                    Job 42: 4-6                 Now I See

Job 42: 7-10               God Restores

 

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

  1. Job’s response in chap 42 provides a positive example of perseverance in faith.
  2. Job acknowledges the limits of his vision. We simply can’t see/know all that God is working toward.
  3. Job’s new understanding of God does not mean that he now accepts or is unconcerned about his suffering.
  4. Those who thought they had come to help Job ended up needing help from him. We are interdependent!

 

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

  1. In a darker night of the soul, what might be some ways in which you will have to work in order to find light?
  2. In what ways do you need to be thankful that you currently are not?
  3. How can you be more honest about the hardships of life, without doing damage to your faith?
  4. What do you need to learn from Job’s story, so that in your attempts to help, you don’t add burdens to 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!]

God’s distance can be so troubling. That much has been well established in this unit of study. The irony found in these texts is that while feeling distant—the figures represented as crying out for God did just that. They kept on crying out. Although they felt distant, abandoned, wronged or confused, they never gave up their faith. Can we learn from their examples so that we are more prepared for our dark times? To search for God is one thing. To continue believing—and even living lives which reflect that faith while searching—is another.

Job will give us a couple of gifts today. First, he models confession. Affirmed in his honesty, still God has told Job some new things. As a result, Job has reconnected. And, he admits now the limits of his understanding. His sight is not God’s sight, and his reach is not God’s reach. Job admits that his own suffering limited his ability to sense a sovereign God who was still very much at work in Creation.

Another gift that Job gives us in this lesson is the selflessness of community. In the end, God still needs to deal with those friends who have made things even worse for Job. There is a twist of irony at work in today’s text. For Job will become the key to their redemption. God called them out, and placed them at Job’s mercy. Job was willing to pray on their behalf, asking God to forgive them. Sometimes those who come to visit the “victim,” to minister to the downtrodden, become the very ones who most need pastoral care. One hospice patient told me of many times in which his visitors had been overcome with emotion. Then, he would have to take on the pastoral role from his deathbed and help soothe their souls. Unfair…human…community?   Yep.

 

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

  1. If you were in charge of the world for even just 15 minutes, what are some things you would do? Enjoy a light discussion. Looking at some of the things on your list, what are the blind spots or biases that show up? Share Judith Viorst’s poem, “If I were in charge of the World”, for a child’s view!

 

  1. Discuss within your group—when have you lived through circumstances that helped you to see God in a new or different way? What were the circumstances, how did things conclude?

 

  1. When has God called on you to fill a role that didn’t fit your circumstances? How did trying to fill that role change your perspective?

 

  1. Take a look at “Beginning the Lesson” on p56 of your Uniform Teaching Guide. How long has it been since you spoke too soon– or about something of which you really knew too little?

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…

 

Job 42: 1-3                 Job Repents

In v1, what is Job responding to? In v2, what two key affirmations of his faith does Job make? (God’s power; unchanging purpose) Who does Job quote in v3? (himself from earlier) What confession is made here?

           

            Job 42: 4-6                 Now I See

Who is speaking in v4? (Job quotes God here) How does v5 affirm that Job had been listening for a word from God? What confession does Job make in v5-6? Why is this significant in the larger story of Job?

 

            Job 42: 7-10               God Restores

How does the story shift in v7? What is God’s issue with Job’s friends? In v8, what offer does God make? (a route to repentance) What key role will Job be asked to play? In v9-10, how did their response aid in healing?

 

  1. On p62 (lrg. print) our lesson writer says, “Job gives us another spiritual gift here. He recognized that his vision was limited. Job acknowledged that he couldn’t possibly see all that God can see.” How might this insight help you in a true dark night? Why? What could this insight lead a darkened soul to do next?

 

  1. How does Ps 38: 9-15 relate to this passage?   How about Eph 1: 11-19?

 

  1. On p64 our lesson author says “Have you tried praying the questions of your soul? When was the last time you opened your heart and presented to God what was really there?” How might this be a helpful way to manage a dark night of the soul? What makes you hesitant to do this? What make this appealing to you?

 

  1. In the Uniform Commentary, Brian Harbour lends a powerful reminder of scientist Alexander Flemming’s accidental discovery of penicillin. On p40, why does God not answer Job’s questions? Later on p40, of what does Job repent? On p41, why is God so upset with Job’s friends? And, why sacrifice 14 offerings rather than 7? Why is Job restored by God into prosperity, and why is this important to you and me? (p42)

 

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

Discuss any of the questions…

  1. a. Do you have a difficult question right now? Is the life of faith a struggle for you?
  2. Pray your darkest fear, your deepest hurt, your biggest question to God. But, pray ready for any answer!

 

  1. Even in the darker times, God’s calling upon our lives does not cease. What might it feel like to go on serving—loving—even when God is not to be found? In what way is that your lot right now?

 

  1. See “Applying the Lesson” on p60 in the Uniform Teaching Guide. Our spiritual lives are never completely just “between God and me.” Job reminds us of the communal nature of faith!

 

People go where they know they’ve been prepared for and are cared for!

 

Bo Prosser, series editor, is the Coordinator for Organizational Relationships at CBF in Atlanta.

Charles Qualls, session writer, is Associate Pastor at Second-Ponce de Leon Baptist Church in Atlanta.

 

Copyright SS Helps 2014            All references to Smyth and Helwys literature are used by permission of the Publisher.

All materials used are available through Smyth & Helwys Publishing,www.helwys.com, 800-747-3016.

 

Send Comments to:        Center for Christian Education ATTN: Gail Prosser e-mail – gail24@comcast.net

2511 Summeroak Dr. Tucker GA 30084 phone: (770)493-6648

 Uniform 10-26-14