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Smyth and Helwys Uniform Series Lesson Outline for August 31, 2014

A Community Shares its Resources             2 Corinthians 8: 1-14

Focal Outline:           2 Corinthians 8: 1-6                         Privilege of sharing

                                    2 Corinthians 8: 7-9                         We want you to excel

2 Corinthians 8: 10-14                     Now finish

 

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

1. Part of living as Christ is realizing when we have enough and sharing of our excess with others.

2. Paul was convinced that there was enough for all in God’s kingdom. We are to share joyfully.

3. We must back up our words with the way we live.

4. Paul believed that there was a fairness issue in our generosity. If they need, and we have, we should share.

 

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

1. What do you consider to be enough? What is your excess and what more could you do with that?

2. How do you feel about the concept of sharing? Why might Paul believe this is a responsibility?

3. What tend to be the disconnects between your words and your living?

4. How can our sharing be a fairness issue?

 

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!]

 

Does every person have an equal chance? Should everyone have to support him or herself and thrive independently? For some, those questions sound simplistic. But, consider for a moment that persons who believe there to be easy answers would be surprisingly divided. The trick for all of us will be to consider Paul’s teachings—and how they connect with the life of Christ—without having too divisive an hour of study. Let’s hope that our group has a spirit of mutual respect that overrides a range of differences.

Our lesson writer will share this observation (p139): Again we see that Paul’s main goal is not to collect as much money as possible for Jerusalem but to teach the Corinthians a lesson about Christian generosity. The need at Jerusalem seems to have been very real. Paul felt strongly about the Christians there getting some help from others. If our lesson writer is correct, then, how strongly must generosity be at the very core of our faith? One of the most faithful responses to the life and love of Christ is to help others in need!

Each of us has our own responses. For many, they are deeply engrained. Years, or even decades, have cast us in patterns of how we manage our resources. There may be some causes that capture our hearts easily. Others, however, may have a tougher time breaking through. One of our shields to generosity is our concept of enough. When we are living in fear, or insatiable desire, there seems never to be enough. Paul challenges us to assess what we have. And, to assess what could make life more possible for someone else. Then, Paul challenges us to find a balance that works for all. Are you open to the challenges of empathetic generosity?

 

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

1. “We must back up our words with the way we live.” (p140) Although that sounds basic, we still recognize instantly our struggle. What are some ways your life backs up your words? What challenges your faith?

 

2. Our author will challenge us to consider what enough is in each of our lives. From our abundance comes our generosity. So, what is enough in your life? Why should you share of what you have?

 

3. Paul will call the Corinthians to give generously. That call to share is a faithful response to Christ’s love. In your experience, what prevents people or groups from living out this expression of empathy?

 

4. Take a look at “Beginning the Lesson” on p122 of your Uniform Teaching Guide. What makes you want to give money to an organization or cause? What turns you off?

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…

 

2 Corinthians 8: 1-6                         Privilege of sharing

What subject is Paul taking up now, in v1-2? (generosity) In v2-3, what is so impressive about the Macedonian gifts? In v4, what hints of their spirit? In v5-6, what can we learn from Paul’s assessment of them?

           

            2 Corinthians 8: 7-9                         We want you to excel

What do the Corinthians do well, according to Paul in v7? What qualifying remarks describe Paul’s spirit in v8? Why is generosity and sharing a matter of reflecting Jesus, according to v9?

 

2 Corinthians 8: 10-14                     Now finish

Why might we get the idea that the Corinthians were already open to giving, according to v10-11? What counts most in giving, as said in v12? What is fair or balanced giving, according to Paul in v13-14?

2. On p138 (large. print) our lesson writer says, “Paul does not suggest that the Corinthians should be come destitute through helping others.   Instead, they should follow the Macedonians’ example of generosity…” Read the full statement. Consider how one might determine a healthy balance, as Paul suggests.

 

3. How does Mt 5: 48 relate to this passage?   How about Ac 2: 42-45?

 

4. On p138 our lesson author says “We see the way of Jesus when we reject our culture’s lie that every person takes care of himself or herself and strive instead to work for the common good.” Talk within your group: what is the cultural lie here? Why might Jesus’ life and ministry—along with Paul’s teachings—call this a “lie?”

 

5. In the Uniform Commentary, Brian Harbour leads with a convicting story (perhaps). On p92, why is this lavish generosity a matter of the grace of God? Also on p138, why might the Macedonians’ gifts have been sacrificial—and not just from their abundance? On p93, what do the Corinthians need to “complete?” How do you react to Paul’s final motivator (p94)—that one day the Corinthians might need help from Jerusalem?

 

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. Think about how you can participate in Christian community through generosity.

b. Ask God to help you to see those in need around you, and to value being a part of something beyond you!

 

2. In your experience, what keeps you—or your church— from sharing more lavishly from your abundance? Pray for the grace to share with others and the humility to accept help when you need it.

 

3. See “Applying the Lesson” on p126 in the Uniform Teaching Guide. How might rethinking our concept of “enough” help us to be a part of something like Christ might do?

 

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 08-31-14

Smyth and Helwys Uniform Series Lesson Outline for September 7, 2014

A Vision of the Future                 Jeremiah 30: 1-3, 18-22

Focal Outline:           Jeremiah 30: 1-3                   Write in a book

                                    Jeremiah 30: 18-19               I will restore

Jeremiah 30: 20-22               A new day

 

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

1. God never strays from Covenant. God will find ways to remind us of our part of the deal, too.

2. We might not live under the rule of a foreign army, but we do experience darkness and despair in our world.

3. Part of living with God is naming the responsibility we have in our lives for pain, misfortune and sin.

4. One of the purposes of biblical prophecy is to assure us that God is in control, even in difficult times.

 

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

1. Sum up the Covenant you believe to exist between God and humanity: what is God’s part? What is my part?

2. What parts of the darkness in your life do you have any control in? What is beyond your control?

3. When assessing your misfortune or pain, what part of the responsibility is yours?

4. How can we take heed—and comfort—in the words left to us by the O.T. prophets?

 

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!]

 

When does the very old become refreshed and new? If the words of the Old Testament prophets are in question, that just might take place when they describe your life (or mine!). We can pick up the words of a Jeremiah or a Habbakuk and quickly wander off. That is, the circumstances or language can seem out of touch with our lives. Their battles simply aren’t ours. Their hardships don’t sound like ours. Even the Covenant they lived under feels like it belongs to Moses…but not me.

The lessons of this unit could reconnect us with sources of hope from the Old Testament. But in order to benefit as we could, we will have to open ourselves to these words. Simple as it may sound, we sometimes have to lift out their hardship and find a way to substitute ours. We also, at times, may have to lift out their shortcomings and confess our own. Same with fears and injustices. Suddenly, their cry becomes ours. Their loneliness becomes familiar and their hope can also be ours. God remains faithful!

The Days are Surely Coming. That is our unit title. I find those words compelling. Whether forecasting the impending payment for our errors, or for the resolution of our pain, the days are surely coming. The prophets never described pain, assessed judgment nor attributed suffering without also delivering promise. The prophet’s job was to deliver all of the above. That included helping the people to find a way toward a new day. God would not leave them without possibility. Then and now, what we deal with is not the final chapter. Where do you find hope? What would God have you to reach for?

 

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

1. Have there been times of your life when you felt like a “captive?” What brought you to that feeling? How does God bring you hope? What do you fear about God?

 

2. There is a lot about our current era that causes people to despair. What are some of those sources of despair? What might be cause for hope today? Where is God at work in our world that should especially give us hope?

 

3. How have you been responsible for some of the negative circumstances of your life? We live in an age of victims. See if your group is vulnerable enough to talk about their mixture of responsibility in life.

 

4. Take a look at “Beginning the Lesson” on p6 of your Uniform Teaching Guide. What makes a situation appear “hopeless?”

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 30: 1-3                   Write in a book

In v1-2, what are some of the ways that you could summarize Jeremiah’s task? In v3, what does the phrase, “For the days are surely coming…” mean to us now? What are the promises Jeremiah records?

           

            Jeremiah 30: 18-19               I will restore

What are the promises for Israel in v18-19? How were these fulfilled, in your understanding of scripture? What do these promises have to do with us and our age? Why should this be encouraging to us?

 

Jeremiah 30: 20-22               A new day

More promises are made in v20-22. Go through as a group and list as many as you can identify. How have these been fulfilled in Old and New Testament scripture? What hope can we take from these same promises?

2. On p9 (lrg. print) our lesson writer says, “The people wouldn’t have needed the rebuilding and restoration of 30:18-19 if they had followed God’s plan in the first place. How have you been responsible for the negative circumstances in your life?” How do your free will choices and God’s sovereign power co-exist in our lives?

 

3. How does 1 Pt 2: 9 relate to this passage?   How about Jer 22: 1-9?

 

4. On p11 our lesson author says “When we study the prophecies of Jeremiah…hope becomes more than a positive attitude in the face of tough problems.” What does become of “hope” as we assess God’s faithfulness to the promises? What is our part in helping God’s faithfulness take root?

 

5. In the Uniform Commentary, Brian Harbour useful story. On p4, what does the opening statement in our text tell us about Jeremiah’s source? On p5, what is significant about “the God of Israel”? On p5, what does God want Jeremiah to write down? See p6-7 for some key words from the text. On p7, what will be the result of this promised One? (renewed spirit of joy!)

 

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. Today, there are defenseless and displaced people who still need to hear God’s message of hope.

b. Ask God to help you see those who need someone to stand at their side. Pray for the will to help them!

 

2. How have you been responsible for the negative circumstances in your own life? Ask God to help you understand how you have been disobedient. See God’s forgiveness and empowerment for a new day!

 

3. See “Applying the Lesson” on p11 in the Uniform Teaching Guide. How would you define “hope?” How can we offer hope for those in despair?

 

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

 

Bo Prosser, series editor, is the Coordinator for Missional Congregations 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 09-07-14