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Smyth and Helwys Uniform Series Lesson Outline for September 21, 2014

A New Future             Jeremiah 32: 2-9, 14-15

Focal Outline:           Jeremiah 32: 2-5                   Thus says the Lord

                                    Jeremiah 32: 6-9                   Then I knew

Jeremiah 32: 14-15               For a long time

 

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

  1. Although we sometimes fail to see how, God is surely at work.
  2. Voices around us might insist that obedience to God is not necessary.
  3. The key to our success is not the power, money or popularity we may enjoy, but our obedience to the Lord.
  4. When faced with difficult times, we must remember that God sees a future that we can’t see.

 

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

  1. When has hindsight helped you to see that God had been working powerfully in your life?
  2. How does the culture around you devalue the need to live according to God’s ways?
  3. Without becoming legalistic, what does obedience need to look like in your faith life?
  4. Where do you think God might be moving ahead of us right now?

 

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!]

 

Where is God? What good could possibly come from this? What is God up to? These are just a few of the reactions that are common when we are challenged. Sometimes, we just can’t believe what we are hearing. All these dynamics, and more, will be featured in our text this week. Jeremiah’s news didn’t sound like good news to the King. So, King Zedekiah just chose to not believe! Or, at least he thought that God was working against the people of Judah.

Next month, we will study a unit of lessons on The Dark Nights of the Soul. Such was the way our Old Testament friends often reacted to the Prophets. Imagine hearing from God that your defeat was certain. In fact, imagine hearing that you would be taken captive and displaced before all of that happened! Any of us might wonder what God was up to. Or, if God was up to anything at all. Dark nights indeed. But, Jeremiah’s tough duty only got tougher—because he had to explain this bad news while he was already in prison!

Now, let’s take a look backward. Zedekiah and the people had lost sight of God’s ways. Zedekiah listened to the wrong people. He heard what he wanted to. His actions caused the Babylonians to punish them, and he paid for this with Judah’s freedom. Have you ever thought that God might just allow you to not suffer the consequences of your own slip-up? What assumptions about God get in the way sometimes for you? But, God only moves forward. God was at work for larger and greater purposes, and still is today. What do you believe God is up to? What more do you wish you knew?

 

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

  1. Who would you say has been a “prophetic” presence in your life? Someone who just seems to see things with clarity or understanding? Enjoy the sharing within your group.

 

  1. When has trusting in God helped you to do the right thing in a difficult situation? Lead your group in a chance to share as they reflect.

 

  1. When you hear the word “obedience,” how do you react? Talk about this word, keeping track of reactions or images. See if your group can come up with a good, healthy definition for obedience as an act of faith.

 

  1. Take a look at “Beginning the Lesson” on p20 of your Uniform Teaching Guide. What are the dangers of only hearing what we want to hear?

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…

 

Jeremiah 32: 2-5                   Thus says the Lord

Why was Jeremiah in prison, as v2 establishes? How would you summarize the prophecy that King Zedekiah   questions in v3-5? What made this news so hard for Zedekiah to believe?

           

            Jeremiah 32: 6-9                   Then I knew

What had God told Jeremiah to do in v6-7? Why might God have instructed him so? In v8, how did the deal unfold? What is remarkable about Jeremiah’s response in v9? Why?

 

Jeremiah 32: 14-15               For a long time

What has happened in v10-13 of the text? Now in v14, what new instruction does Jeremiah receive? What is the purpose of this, within God’s larger plan? How does v15 shed light on this prophecy?

 

  1. On p26 (lrg. print) our lesson writer says, “A long time is not forever! With this act, God proclaims in a visible way that the people have a future.” Defeat and return were equally certain in God’s future. Why does future good seem so difficult to see when we are in the midst of present challenge? Where does our faith fit in?

 

  1. How does Lv 25:23 relate to this passage?   How about Is 12: 2?

 

  1. On p26 our lesson author says “When faced with difficult times, we must remember that God sees a future that we can’t see. The deeds of our lives are stored away for safekeeping until God’s plan is fulfilled.” How can our actions help create hope for others? What is the difference between bold faith and reckless action?

 

  1. In the Uniform Commentary, Brian Harbour helps us to know more about Jeremiah (p14). Why is Jeremiah’s name especially appropriate? On p14, what are at least 2 forces that led to Judah’s vulnerability? On p15-16, why was Jeremiah in prison? On p16, how does US history parallel the king’s paranoia about Jeremiah? On p17, how was Jeremiah’s faithfulness an “acted parable?”

 

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. Consider how often you choose against the will of God and fall into disobedience.
  2. Pray in openness for God to shape your life. Assess your resources, energy and time use this week!

 

  1. Ask God to help you trust in God’s plan for your life and to show you how to make decisions based on that trust. Who is a positive, prophetic voice of God’s wisdom in your life? Listen to them more as you move on.

 

  1. See “Applying the Lesson” on p25 in the Uniform Teaching Guide. Why does confident following of God’s leadership directly affect our future?
Uniform 09-21-14

Smyth and Helwys Uniform Series Lesson Outline for September 28, 2014

Improbable Possibilities              Jeremiah 33: 2-11

Focal Outline:           Jeremiah 33: 2-5                   I will answer you

                                    Jeremiah 33: 6-9                   I will heal you

Jeremiah 33: 10-11               I will restore

 

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

  1. When things look grim, God sees possibilities that elude our vision.
  2. In distressing times, God encouraged Jeremiah’s people to bring their questions and concerns in prayer.
  3. As God’s people were promised healing, we have experienced spiritual healing through the work of Christ.
  4. Return to God and be filled again with the sounds of joy. Pray for those who are separated from God.

 

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

  1. How much do you trust God’s vision vs. your own?   Why?
  2. How long has it been since you prayed the questions and concerns of your soul?
  3. These issues/promises seem out of context to us. How does Christ’s spiritual healing fulfill Jeremiah’s word?
  4. Do you need to return to God? How so? If not, then pray for those who are distanced from God just now.

 

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!]

 

Despair is when you need immediate relief and realize that none will come. I heard that definition recently. This lesson recalled those words. Especially as our writer asks, “How do you keep going when there are no signs of hope in your life?” Maybe you’ve known that feeling firsthand. God’s knowledge, God’s vision and God’s work in our lives—these are elusive quantities when life gets tough.

Call to me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known. (v3) This is one of the promises God makes through Jeremiah in our text. We all have questions. Tough times call on us to be willing to reach out for the help God could provide. However, as God feels at a distance that act of reaching out is hard to do. We all have watched someone who was suffering. And, resources may have been at their finger-tips if only they could muster the health needed to reach out.

Our writer will make an interesting application: (p30) “We constantly pray for those who are physically ill.   But how often do we take time to pray for those around us who are spiritually ill?” Who has reached out to you in your darkest moments? Who has told you that they (even once) prayed for you? Where do you find light again, after discouragement has doused your flame? God promises answers…and healing…and restoration. In Jeremiah’s prophecy, it all starts with the people calling out for help. In the Christ covenant, it starts with us recognizing that God is God (and not us). God’s plan moves forward. Will we stay on board?

 

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

  1. What in your life used to appear permanent, but turned out to be temporary? What in your life has proven to have been “lasting” so far?

 

  1. All of us experience times of spiritual distress. Who reached out to you in your darkest times? How did you let them know in the first place? How did they help you to find God’s light?

 

  1. Our lesson writer will assert that true repentance calls us to change our ways. If you asked God to reveal to you where repentance is needed, what you do believe God might reveal to you?

 

  1. Take a look at “Beginning the Lesson” on p27 of your Uniform Teaching Guide. How do you keep going when there is no hope apparent?

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…

 

Jeremiah 33: 2-5                   I will answer you

In v3, what does God ask? (call upon me) What does God promise in return? In v4-5, what was ahead in Judah? According to v5, why is this?

           

            Jeremiah 33: 6-9                   I will heal you

But, in v6-7, what also is ahead? To what extend should there be hope? What spiritual transactions will take place, according to v8? What reason for optimism does v9 add?

 

Jeremiah 33: 10-11               I will restore

V10-11 continue to offer hope. What are some examples found in these verses? In the biblical context, what do you believe these prophecies turned out to really mean? Why?

 

  1. On p29 (lrg. print) our lesson writer says, “Just as a city’s walls are high and impenetrable, God’s knowledge is not easy to access. But, if the people ask, God will reveal the truth.” Why do the biblical instances of God’s hiddenness seem to happen? Why do some of God’s truths appear difficult to attain?

 

  1. How does Ps 51 relate to this passage?   How about Is 30: 15?

 

  1. On p34 our lesson author says “Although physical abundance may surround us, a barrenness of spirit removes all joy, and the sounds of any celebration are hollow and meaningless.” How does this assessment fit as an application of this Jeremiah text? What other applications could you draw for today?

 

  1. In the Uniform Commentary, Brian Harbour asks (p19) What does Jeremiah reveal to us about God? Why might Jeremiah’s prophecy not be about Judah’s future? (p19-20?) See p20 for a discussion of others in the Bible who struggled with God’s hiddenness. Explore the judgment of God on p21, including a tie between the book of Lamentations and Jeremiah’s time in Judah. See p22 for some help with key words!

 

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. God encouraged the people to bring their concerns and questions in prayer.
  2. Pray your own questions and concerns. Be honest and transparent with the God who already knows!

 

  1. Ask God to reveal to you those who may need encouragement and hope. Pray for the wisdom and the will to be of use by God in reaching those who lack hope. Listen to God; move toward others boldly!

 

  1. See “Applying the Lesson” on p32 in the Uniform Teaching Guide. What makes Gods’ promises different from anyone else’s?
 Uniform 09-28-14