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Smyth and Helwys Uniform Series Lesson Outline for November 23, 2014

Transformation Continued          Ezekiel 47: 13-23

Focal Outline:           Ezekiel 47: 13-14                  A place to live

                                    Ezekiel 47: 15-21                  An apportioning of land

Ezekiel 47: 22-23                  A way to live

 

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

  1. God does not leave us in ashes. God creates beauty out of our pain.
  2. We will disappoint God sometimes, but God continually offers forgiveness and fresh starts.
  3. God wants to do new and better things in our lives. We should expect great things from God.
  4. We often treat some people like they are superior, and others like they are inferior. All are equal to God.

 

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

  1. When have I experienced God doing the unexpected—creating beauty out of pain?
  2. What might it mean to “disappoint” God in our living? Think on specifics.
  3. How have you expected too little of God in the past?
  4. Who do I—in practice—raise above others? Who do I–in practice—help to push down below 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!]

 

No one has ever come to my church because I looked down on someone from a moral high ground. (– Nadia Bolz-Weber) How do you react to this statement? Some will recoil, assuming that the message lobbies for an absence or loosing of standards. But others will immediately connect with its truth. I find the thought convicting. In our text this week, God will insist that the people of Israel and Judah are not superior to others. Instead, all were deserving of inclusion and of a share in all with which God would bless!

Can you remember when God gave you a glimmer of hope? Our author will pose that question in the Teaching Guide (p85). I surely can. God has given me glimmers of hope through the loving gestures of others. God has shared hope with me through the grace of forgiveness and by including me in the ongoing works of ministry here in Creation. God has soothed the sleepless night with images of hope, and God has intervened in the dry period with fresh ideas and perspective.

One of the ways we can apply this week’s lesson will be to ask God for some help. Not treasures, not advantage or victorious outcomes will be our requests. No, this application is to ask for the vision that sees all people as children of God. Frederick Buechner talks about the little lady who sits in front of you in the movie. The way she puts her hand over her mouth as she giggles. And, she tucks a tissue into her bracelet. Her neck is skinny and wrinkled. She is your mother, your sister or your child grown old. And, when we learn to see others in similar ways—God’s work of transformation is alive in us.

 

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

  1. “Mercy” is a key concept in our faith. How would you define “mercy?” Talk this over within your group. What are some ways in which you have seen God’s mercy firsthand in your life?

 

  1. We don’t often frame God as “disappointed.”   Seems there are a lot of other words for the distance between us and God. But, what might be some things that “disappoint” God in Creation? Have your group make a list.

 

  1. Isaiah 42: 5-9 was a suggested reading for this week’s lesson. From that scripture, and your own testimonies, what might be some reasons that God could be found trustworthy?

 

  1. Take a look at “Beginning the Lesson” on p85 of your Uniform Teaching Guide. Can you remember a time when God gave you a glimmer of hope?

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…

 

Ezekiel 47: 13-14                  A place to live

What is significant about the phrase, “Thus says the Lord God?” (identifies prophecy) What subject matter is introduced here? Why? What additional perspective comes in v14?

           

            Ezekiel 47: 15-21                  An apportioning of land

What can we learn by reading through the list of boundaries here? What problems do modern day maps cause us in trying to understand v15-21? (some locations not identified) How does this differ from Joshua 14?

 

Ezekiel 47: 22-23                  A way to live

What do we learn about God’s value for the Gentiles living in these lands already? How might that help us to understand how God views all of humanity still today? Why might God have set things up in this way?

2. On p94 (lrg. print) our lesson writer says, “Sometimes we expect too little from God…God wants to do new and better things in our lives. We should expect great things from God. We can trust that God will do more than we can imagine.” How might this challenge cause you to develop a refreshed understanding of God?

 

  1. How does Lm 3: 19-26 relate to this passage?   How about Is 42: 5-9?

 

  1. On p96 our lesson author says “As you read God’s instructions for the treatment of resident aliens in the promised land, think about times when you have felt like an outsider. How did other people treat you? What actions made you feel more excluded? Included?” Use this as a rhetorical question, or have the group discuss.

 

  1. In the Uniform Commentary, Brian Harbour leads with a story about a WWII p.o.w. returning home. See some very helpful background to this text beginning on p59. See the bottom of that page for 2 key promises around which Ezekiel builds his prophecy. On p60, take a look back at the original land allotments of Joseph. On p62, how does Gal. 3: 28 help us to interpret the new land allotment for “aliens”?

 

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. Read Lam 3: 19-26. How have you experienced God’s refreshing mercies in your life?
  2. This week, ask God to give you eyes to see these mercies as you go. Give thanks for God’s good gifts!

 

  1. We can treat others rather unevenly. Some receive treatment as though they are more important, while we treat others as though they are somehow less significant. How can we do a better job of loving evenly?

 

  1. See “Applying the Lesson” on p90 in the Uniform Teaching Guide. What can we learn about forgiveness by paying attention to God’s actions? What is forgiveness? What does forgiveness not have to be?

 

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 11-23-14

Smyth and Helwys Uniform Series Lesson Outline for November 30, 2014

Let Zion Rejoice                 Isaiah 52: 1-2, 7-12

Focal Outline:           Isaiah 52: 1-2             Temple returns

                                    Isaiah 52: 7-10           Your God reigns

Isaiah 52: 11-12         Go out from there

 

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

  1. Throughout scripture, God offers assurances that our current pain pales in comparison to God’s future plans.
  2. With God, there is always hope for a brighter future.
  3. Tough times will cause us to wonder, “Will things ever get better, or is this my lot in life?”
  4. The God who delivered the Hebrews from Egypt can deliver us from exile, too.

 

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

  1. How well do I reconcile my current needs with the hope of God’s future victories?
  2. With God, what are some real reasons for hope?
  3. How should I answer the question—Will things get better, or is this my lot in life? Why?
  4. What is my best use of the encouraging biblical stories where God delivers for those in need?

 

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!]

 

Lord, you alone are my portion and my cup; you make my lot secure.” These powerful words from David (Psalm 16: 5) are compelling. For in each of our journeys of faith, surely we have those seasons where we yearn for God. God’s voice. God’s direction. God’s perspective–anything! We may also do some contemplating on what our “lot” is in life. That is, why certain things are happening to us. Or, why they are not happening. Maybe a little musing on what-in-the-world God is up to?

Isaiah extends a call to God’s people: put on your strength! Listen to the words that open this chapter. The call is to return to their lives! But, not return to their lives apart from God. No, the sacred work and practice of faith was to be the source of their strength in God. The beautiful garments, entry into the holy city, the keeping of Temple practice. These are the notes hit in Isaiah 52. A return to life!

How does your faith help you to truly live? That question might be a good one to explore. For our call to live as Christ has lived is also a call to life! Just as Jerusalem was to spring back to bustling life, we also are set free to a purposeful life. A life where being as God intended will add power, strength and hope to our existence. How do your expectations match up with God’s? If my expectations are out of line, God has a hard time helping me to feel good about things. When my expectations align with God’s, suddenly so much of my life and work make sense.

 

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

  1. “Hope” is a key concept in our faith. How would you define “hope?” Talk this over within your group. What are some ways in which you have seen God give hope firsthand in your life?

 

  1. Do you ever feel as though God has forgotten about you? Do you ever wonder if God even has a plan? What do you do when your time to explore these doubts arrives? What help does the Bible give?

 

  1. Psalm 16:5 finds David saying, “Lord, you alone are my portion and my cup; you make my lot secure.” How would you describe your “lot” in life? How does God impact that lot, in your estimation?

 

  1. Take a look at “Beginning the Lesson” on p92 of your Uniform Teaching Guide. In our society, who needs redemption or hope?

 

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…

 

Isaiah 52: 1-2             Temple returns

What might “awake” mean for Isaiah’s audience? How about for us? What does v1b mean, with talk of beautiful garments and unclean people? How does v2 contribute to this calling?

           

            Isaiah 52: 7-10           Your God reigns

What is the “good news” of v7? (God reigns!) To Isaiah’s audience, why was that important? What has brought this joy in v8? What will God do, according to v9-10? What does this really mean, then and now?

 

Isaiah 52: 11-12         Go out from there

What do the instructions found in v11-12 imply about the outlook for Isaiah’s people? What kind of life will they have cause to live one day? (free, faithful, worshipful) What memory did v12 draw upon? Why?

2. On p100 (lrg. print) our lesson writer says, “When we experience grief today, we don’t literally sit in dust and ashes…When we mourn the loss of a loved one….we can become totally different people, consumed by sadness confusion and fear.” What message does Isaiah have about God, for those living in challenging times?

 

  1. How does Ps 42: 5-11 relate to this passage?   How about Hab 3: 17-19?

 

  1. On p104 our lesson author says “Remembering our history reminds us that God is still working on our behalf and is actively involved in our lives.” What of the biblical history helps you to remember this? What from your own experience with God helps you to remember this? Why are Isaiah’s words still relevant to us?

 

  1. In the Uniform Commentary, Brian Harbour leads with a fascinating view of Isaiah as “the miniature Bible.” What should we know about this prophet’s context that helps us interpret the message? (p64) Why do the people need to “awake?” (p65) See p65-6 for a discussion of the “beautiful garments.” On p66, what 3 things will characterize the new day to come? See p67 for 2 expectations God had for Israel—and still for us today!

 

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. This week, write about times in your past when God showed up and did great things!
  2. Dwell on these. Pray that you would have vision and willingness to go as God calls you.

 

  1. Challenging times will test what we have to offer. Pray this week that God will give you a heart of faith, and the strength you need to face the days ahead with hope!

 

  1. See “Applying the Lesson” on p96 in the Uniform Teaching Guide. Why is God worthy of our praise? And, how might living a worship life of praise empower us for the days ahead?
 Uniform 11-30-14