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Connections 4-2-17

The Spirit Is Life                 Romans 8: 1-11

Focal Outline:           Romans 8: 1-4                                   No condemnation

                                    Romans 8: 5-8                                   Set your mind

                                    Romans 8: 9-11                                 God in you

 

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

  1. Paul says real life is found by living in the spirit of God.
  2. Our feelings don’t always reflect our belief that there is no condemnation for those who follow Christ.
  3. Having chosen to seek God’s way, we must constantly nurture our relationship with the Spirit.
  4. Christ did not leave us alone; he gave us the Spirit as our helper, advocate and companion.

 

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

  1. If living apart from God, how would I describe that life?
  2. How does God want me to manage my guilt when I fall short of God’s best intent?
  3. What constitutes “nurturing” my relationship with the Spirit? Why is this so important?
  4. Why was I left with the Spirit as my “helper”?

 

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 do we set our minds on the Spirit?(p110) This is a central issue that our lesson writer highlights. But, what does Paul mean by “minds” here? According to a commentary writer, our human will is really the subject. What we set our human will on reflects what has become our priority. So, where does the Spirit fit into all of this? And, what does the Spirit have to offer us that could be helpful in navigating the personal freedom God has given to us?

Personal freedom. Choice. Some have proposed that the ultimate loving act of God’s creation was to give us freedom of choice. Rather than coerce our love, rather than force our obedience, we have options. Living apart from God’s greatest intentions is an option. Living in ways that are more—or less—healthy in concert with others around us is an option. Sometimes, don’t you get tempted to think the world would be a more pleasant place if God had just required us to all act….think…speak…in the same perfect way?

So, how can we “set our minds on the Spirit”?   This directional sounds good. But, what does it really mean to our living? That will be one of our tasks this week. Moving beyond that which sounds good, sounds right—we have to get down to asking what that choice would mean for our lives. I hope we’ll engage that and be as specific as we can. To some extent, that is an individual understanding. But, there are probably a good many universals we could apply as well. Read up, especially on p110 (large print ed.) and see what you think!

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

  1. We want to make a difference, but sometimes it seems like an unattainable goal. (p107) What makes life worth living? How can we know that we are making a positive difference?

 

  1. There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. (v1) What does this mean to you? In the context of what Paul was discussing in Romans 8, what was his point? How is this true?

 

  1. When have you felt judged by someone? Or, by a group or system? How did that feel? What does God have to offer to you on this? What help is the Spirit?

 

  1. Take a look at “Beginning the Lesson” on p94 of your Connections Teaching Guide. What do you do when life seems empty?

 

 

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 “Scripture Context” (Teaching Guide ) and then examine the focal passage using a variety of teaching methods…

 

Romans 8: 1-4                                   No condemnation

What has led Paul to discuss this as ch8 begins? In v1-2, what affirmation does he make? In v3, how did God do this? In v4, what is the difference between this and a more legalistic faith?

 

Romans 8: 5-8                                   Set your mind

In v5, what contrast does Paul explore? How so? In v7, why does this matter? How might this be “death”? How does v7-8 substantiate this?

 

Romans 8: 9-11                                 God in you

What is the difference between the follower of Christ and the non-follower, in v9? What kind of “life” is claimed in v10? How does v11 back this up?

 

  1. On p107 (lrge. print) our lesson writer says, “Life can seem dull, boring and meaningless. How can we make a difference? How can we know life is worth living?” How do you respond? Why?

 

  1. How does 2 Cor 10: 3-5 relate to our text? How about Jas 1: 22-25?

 

  1. On p113 our lesson writer says “What difference does the power of the Spirit of God make in your life? What does it mean that the Spirit of God who raised Jesus from the dead lives in you?” Discuss these in your group. Allow a few minutes for group members to really listen to each other.

 

  1. In the Connections Commentary, Brian Harbour talks about how meaning can change in what we read, over time. Including beloved scripture texts. On p71, what “new” position do we have before God? On p72, what does it mean to be liberated from the Law?” On p72-3, what were we saved “for”? On p73, what is our new priority?

 

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 Ro 8: 1 again. Commit it to memory and believe that grace is yours in Christ.
  2. Meditate on the verse, and give thanks to God that you are set free in Christ.
  3. Are you setting your mind on the flesh or on the Spirit? Have you chosen to seek God’s will, or your own? Have you chosen to seek to please yourself, or to please God? Ask for God’s help and strength in living!

 

  1. See “Applying the Lesson” on p98 in the Uniform Teaching Guide. Will you ask God’s help in your transformation?

 

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


 

Connections 4-9-17

Jesus is Lord              Philippians 2: 5-11

Focal Outline:           Philippians 2: 5-6                             The same mind

                                    Philippians 2: 7-8                             Humbled and obedient

                                    Philippians 2: 9-11                           Every knee should bend

 

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

  1. Heading toward Easter, it is good for us to consider what it means for Jesus to be Lord.
  2. Christ existed before the creation of the world. His concern was not status as He humbled himself for us.
  3. Christ gave everything to become human. We are compelled to respond with humility and sacrifice.
  4. The Church constantly needs to hear that we are created and defined by the self-emptying Christ.

 

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

  1. What do we mean when we use the word “Lord” as we talk about Jesus?
  2. When the Bible refers to Christ “humbling” Himself, what does that mean?
  3. What did Christ give up in order to become human? What does that have to do with our response?
  4. How should the Church be challenged by Christ’s self-sacrifice?

 

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 church constantly needs to hear the reminder that we are created and defined by the self-emptying Christ. (p.121) We hear that, and our instinctive response is “yes.” But, what all does that assessment mean? We’ll have to do some spade work this week in order to fully gain the meaning behind Fred Craddock’s statement. For starters, how did Christ “self-empty” by becoming human and leaving a heavenly realm? We ought to stop applauding that at least long enough to understand what it means. Yes?

We also need to ponder what the church should get from this. Palm Sunday signaled Jesus’ ultimate act of self-sacrifice. This should challenge us in worship. But, our lesson writer will challenge the Church to ponder its own needs of sacrifice and humility. After all, wasn’t Paul writing this letter to the Philippians at large, and not just to any one individual? So, we ought to think collectively just as we do individually this week. The Church can get caught up in itself, just as we all do individually. Churches have group personalities, just as we do individually. This is a good challenge.

Jesus the Risen King is our new unit title. This binding theme will guide us through the celebration of Easter. Our faith is made possible by a risen Lord, victorious over death. Life-giving in all His manifestations, Jesus has shown us the best of how to live. But, don’t miss another through-theme. And, that theme is humility. Our powerful, victorious redeemer is a humble servant. So, we’ll do well to follow that thread through these lessons as well. We need to be challenged by all of Jesus, not just our favorite parts.

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

  1. We talk about Jesus as “Lord,” but may not all mean the same thing when we do. Discuss, and maybe even have someone keep track of the list—what all might it mean to refer to Jesus as Lord?

 

  1. Our lesson writer contends that we live in a world where status and security mean everything to us. If that is so, what affect might that have on how we view our faith? How we practice our faith?

 

  1. What is the most intentional choice you have ever made to “humble” yourself? In other words, what adjustment or sacrifice(s) have you made in order to help something important happen for others?

 

  1. Take a look at “Beginning the Lesson” on p101 of your Connections Teaching Guide. What does Palm Sunday mean to you? What should we learn by celebrating it?

 

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 “Scripture Context” (Teaching Guide ) and then examine the focal passage using a variety of teaching methods…

 

Philippians 2: 5-6                             The same mind

What instruction comes in v5? What might it mean to have “the same mind” as Christ? In v6, what do we learn about how Christ came to us? How does this help us to have the “same mind”?

 

Philippians 2: 7-8                             Humbled and obedient

What might it mean that Christ “emptied” Himself? How does v7 help us to understand that? In v8, how did Christ “humble” Himself? What can we mortals learn from this?

 

Philippians 2: 9-11                           Every knee should bend

What should the affirmation in v9 mean for our practice of faith? Why? How do v10-11 further shape your view of Christ? Your weekly practices of worship? What do v9-11 have to do with v5-8?

 

  1. On p117 (lrge. print) our lesson writer says, “If we practice Christ-like humility, we may be concerned that we’ll be treated like Jesus was.” How do you respond? Why?

 

  1. How does Jn 1: 1-2 relate to our text? How about Isa 45: 23?

 

  1. On p119 our lesson writer says “N.T. Wright says that Christ’s self-emptying wasn’t a decision to give up divinity, but rather an expression of divinity.” Discuss this in your group—what does this statement by Wright mean? Why is it true? Why does this matter?

 

  1. In the Connections Commentary, Brian Harbour gets right to work pondering what Jesus as “Lord” truly means. On p76, in this context what does having the “mind” of Christ mean for us? P77-78 explores Jesus’ humility and what it means to empty Himself for us. Middle p78, how did Jesus’ crucifixion make our forgiveness possible? P79 turns toward why Jesus should be praised as God has been.

 

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 Mt 26: 14-27: 66. This is a lot, but push through and ponder.
  2. As you pray, focus on what Jesus’ humility tells you about God. What kind of God does this?
  3. In a world where status and security reign, it can be difficult to follow the example of a God who humbles self and sacrifices so. Pray this week that God would continually transform your own spirit for living!

 

  1. See “Applying the Lesson” on p106 in the Uniform Teaching Guide. What kind of attitude and lifestyle should the Church have?

 

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