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Smyth and Helwys Uniform Series Lesson Outline for July 5, 2015

No Rest for the Wicked              Micah 2: 4-11

Focal Outline:           Micah 2: 4-5              Bitter lamentation

                                    Micah 2: 6-7              Do not preach

                                    Micah 2: 8-11                        Again the problem is…

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

  1. Micah tells God’s people in our text that selfishness is wrong.
  2. When we are self-centered, we often neglect or mistreat other people.
  3. Sometimes we need to think about the motivations behind our attitudes and actions.
  4. Micah calls us to pay attention to how we live. As we celebrate our freedom, let us certainly do so!

 

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

  1. Most of us would agree in concept that selfishness is wrong. But, what in my life might actually be selfish?
  2. Though that may not be my intent, who may I be neglecting or mistreating as I live the way I do?
  3. How can my motivations not be intentionally bad—but so limited that they end up causing me to hurt others?
  4. How might I practice a more intentional way of living—paying attention to the freedoms that I enjoy?

 

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 love the way our lesson writer, Michael Ruffin, poses the issue in the Teaching Guide (p64). He says, “Most of us have times when we hear a sermon and think, ‘That’s a good message. I wish ___________ were here to listen to it.’” Perhaps later, we come to the issue in a different way and realize that we could have been the neediest audience of all for that good word. So many of the things we think are just our business really can affect others around us. Loved ones and complete strangers alike!

Ruffin will remind in the Study Guide (p72) that Dietrich Bonhoeffer said, “Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ.” The people of Micah’s time were taking advantage of God. They were living any way they wanted, without respect to consequences or costs. And, they would offer their worship as a show—assuming the grace of God would pour upon them anyway.

Our lesson writer will later quote a sign in his own office. (p74) Comfort the afflicted. Afflict the comfortable. God wants both of those outcomes for us. The Spirit plays a role for us, now, in delivering both. But we have a responsibility for each other, too. Micah’s call is more difficult than we know—for he calls on us to pay attention to how we live. Awareness…intent in what we do. God holds us to responsibility, and Micah’s words challenge. Who needs to hear his sermon in the text this week? Yeah, me too.

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

  1. What is one (1) example of corporate or cultural injustice that you have seen? As a group, share with each other. In the midst of our freedom, do injustices actually exist? Be sure that “corporate” in this exercise means large groups—which could be business, government, state, national or global in scope! How can we celebrate our freedom and stand up for those who have been wronged?

 

  1. Have you ever felt restless? How can our choices have unintended consequences for ourselves—and others around us? What are the consequences for our choosing to be a free nation? A free church?

 

  1. How do our economic practices affect others? Discuss as a group. You might choose 1 kind of purchase—groceries, house, car, clothing. Trace this through and name all affected by your decisions.

 

  1. Take a look at “Beginning the Lesson” on p64 of your Uniform Teaching Guide. When was the last time you heard what you wanted to hear—and saw things differently later?

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 2: 4-5              Bitter lamentation

According to v4, on what “day” will these actions take place? Who will taunt Micah’s audience? And, who is being taunted? Why? In v5, those guilty parties will not get to cast lots. Why is that?

 

Micah 2: 6-7              Do not preach

In v6, who is speaking? In v7, who is speaking? (see Study Guide p71 1st paragraph on why this matters!) Who would be threatened by news of God’s impatience? Who has nothing to fear from God here?

 

Micah 2: 8-11                        Again the problem is…

In v8-9, what how would you summarize the specific charges that lead to this judgment? In v10, what instruction does God give? (Go away!) In v11, what sad message does God believe the guilty would hear?

 

  1. On p70 (lrge. print) our lesson author says, “When we are self-centered, we often neglect or mistreat other people. Micah teaches us that we can only find rest in God when we are at rest with others.” Micah describes an evil people. How else can we neglect or mistreat others, even without bad intentions?

 

  1. How does Ps 7: 1-8 relate to this passage? How about Job 31: 13-22?

 

  1. On p74 our lesson writer says “God’s justice brings reversal. This process often involves a flip-flop of what is expected and understood about the world.” What is the value of learning just how serious God is about these issues of justice? What would be the scariest thing about being left to the consequences of your own living?

 

  1. In the Uniform Commentary, Brian Harbour leads with a challenge to modern preaching. Micah’s challenge is similar. But, who is Micah? (p44) To what “family” does Micah refer? (p45) And, who are “they” who will act on “that day?” (v2:4, see p45) On p46, what causes false prophets to oppose Micah’s words? Late on p47, who is the speaker—and why is this important?

 

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 can we be at rest with others? How can our cultural and economic practices affect others?
  2. Pray that God would guide you in treating others fairly, a both the individual and corporate levels.
  3. Are there ways you could be mistreating others who are weak or vulnerable? Take notes this week as you consider this. Pray, asking God for clarity about how you live—and openness to change as you may need!

 

  1. See “Applying the Lesson” on p68 of the Uniform Teaching Guide. What’s wrong with the world today? “I am,” according to G.K. Chesterton.

 

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

Uniform 7-5-15

Smyth and Helwys Uniform Series Lesson Outline for July 12, 2015

No Tolerance for Corrupt Leaders and Prophets Micah 3: 5-12

Focal Outline:           Micah 3: 5-7              Sun shall go down

                                    Micah 3: 8                  But as for me

                                    Micah 3: 9-12                        Hear this…

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

  1. Personal failures and unkept promises may make us feel disappointed in a leader.
  2. In the Bible, those who share God’s message are called Prophets. Today, we might call them “preachers.”
  3. True prophets of God share Gods’ word no matter who is listening to them.
  4. We want to follow people that we can trust and rely on.

 

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

  1. But what specific standards do you evaluate those who would lead you?
  2. How do the preachers of today relate to the prophets of biblical times? What are the similarities?
  3. What can be some of the shapers of preachers’ messages? What influences should they try to ignore?
  4. Who may dwell on God’s holy hill? (Psalm 15)

 

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!]

 

How often do you pray for your pastor? Our lesson writer, Michael Ruffin, poses that question in the Study Guide (p80). He says, “This week, consider using Micah 3: 8 in your praying.” You may want to see the whole paragraph in which he says that. You might consider how this relates to the larger text we study this week. And, how this might be one healthy application of our time together. Those who give voice and life to God’s words (and God’s movements) need all the help they can get!

Like the Prophets of old, modern pastors toil under strange pressures. Talk with one of your pastors about their sense of “calling.” Ask them where the proclamation of God’s word fits within that calling. But, also be sure to ask them what helps them most in fulfilling their call. Don’t’ stop there, though. For your conversation needs to include some talk about what they feel holds them back.

Leaders of all stripes ought to be evaluated by their moral and ethical health. Or, as Micah might focus our attention—true leaders of God will actively do justice. Leaders will move us toward health as a group, and they react to ill-health. Micah has a tough word to deliver. There were leaders in his time—even false-teachers—who would vie for the people’s attention. And, there were the rich and powerful who simply commanded allegiance without deserving that gift. Micah spoke boldly. He had a tough job!

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

  1. Has an admired leader ever let you down? Encourage group member to share the generalities of such stories (with sensitivity to not defaming commonly known locals). How would you sum up your disappointment?

 

  1. Have you ever applied the following standard to your evaluation of leaders: their treatment of the weak and vulnerable? Why might this be a valid standard for us to apply? Micah will say that God judges political and religious leaders by the standard of justice.

 

  1. Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. You have probably heard this saying. Discuss just what this really means. And, why the saying might be true.

 

  1. Take a look at “Beginning the Lesson” on p71 of your Uniform Teaching Guide. What are some of the words you typically use to describe religious and political leaders of your time?

 

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 3: 5-7              Sun shall go down

In what ways does v5 clarify what Micah will now speak about? Starting with v5, what are some of the specific charges? V6-7 employs a metaphor to indicate the judgment: what will that feel like to the false prophets?

 

Micah 3: 8                  But as for me

What are some of the contrasts that Micah offers between himself and other prophets? According to that verse, what is his assignment from God? (to declare Israel’s sin)

 

Micah 3: 9-12                        Hear this…

V9-10 further describe the brokenness within Israel’s leadership. As a group, go through and discuss these descriptions. In v11-12, perhaps the most pointed charges yet are listed. What are those? Why are these such serious transgressions, especially from the “prophets”? (they led Israel to drift from God)

 

  1. On p78 (lrge. print) our lesson author says, “With the Internet and television, we have easier access to the words of more preachers than any generation before us. How do we know when preachers are being true to God’s call?” Discuss this practical issue of our faith and time. What do you think?

 

  1. How does Mt 7: 15-20 relate to this passage? How about Ps 15?

 

  1. On p80 our lesson writer says “Think about the congregation where you worship. How do you think most people in your church view the pastor? Which sermons are most appreciated? Ignored?” Be sure to talk this over with regard to your congregation, and Churches in general.

 

  1. In the Uniform Commentary, Brian Harbour leads with a story and quote from Daniel Webster. See p49 for a segment on how “self-advancement”—rather than God–was guiding Israel. P50 will cite Phil 3: 19 where Paul gives a parallel indictment against false-prophets. Later on p50, see a discussion of “light” and “dark” as indicators of what is ahead. What does history reveal that happened after Micah’s time? (p50-51)

 

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 need discernment as we listen to preachers who speak to us in the name of God.
  2. Pray that God will help you to know when someone is a true, honest prophet.
  3. Reflect on the ways that Micah judged the prophets of his day. Do you use these standards when you try to figure out if a preacher or leader’s words are sincere?

 

  1. See “Applying the Lesson” on p76 of the Uniform Teaching Guide. Based on Micah’s (not yours) standards, what would America’s practices of justice look like if leaders followed God’s hope?
Uniform 7-12-15