Teacher’s Resources


Connections 11-19-17

A Needed Deliverer           Judges 4: 1-10

Focal Outline:           Judges 4: 1-3                         What was evil

                                    Judges 4: 4-8                         I will go if…

                                    Judges 4: 9-10                       I will go, but…

 

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

  1. The best leadership arises from a spirit of mutuality and humility.
  2. As we are so often prone to do, this text is set up by the people wandering from their commitment to God.
  3. This story testifies to the power of personal leadership that doesn’t seek its own glory.
  4. This story sounds as though Deborah will be the hero. Often, though, God has a surprise in store.

 

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

  1. How can a spirit of mutuality, or of humility, be a strong leadership quality rather than a weakness?
  2. When have I (or a group I am part of) wandered away from God?
  3. Is glory the problem? Or is seeking glory the problem, when leading others? Why so?
  4. How has God surprised me in a way that created a lasting impression?

 

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!]

Patterns. They’re all the rage with therapists. For good reason, too. We all (and I do mean “all”) live in patterns. Now before we render these to be the villains of our lives, I want you to stop and consider some healthy patterns that you catch yourself living in. Go ahead. We’ll wait. Think about that now. But, you should also stop and list some unhealthy patterns in your life. Being self-aware of our patterns is not always easy. But, the more we can catch onto the better. Let’s own our good patterns. But, those bad ones?!

Judges shows a culture, and spiritual people, who were stuck in a pattern. In fact, the scholars term for this is actually a “cycle.” The Judges Cycle is something we ought to pay attention to. For Israel, they swung from faithfulness (and safety) to unfaithfulness, punishment and a need for delivery by God. This week’s lesson text shows us one such episode where it took the intervention of God—and some military action—to get their freedom back. What price do you pay for your most obvious unhealthy pattern?

Deborah and Barak will yield to each other’s strong points in this text and form a powerful alliance. Each wants to be sure that the other is on board, so daring is their mission. But, putting aside their need for glory, they make possible the delivery of God’s people back to freedom again. But, not without a heroic action by another woman—for Deborah will not be the only strong woman in this chapter. Take a peek at the end of the story—beyond our lesson’s assignment—so that you know how the story ends. God is full of surprises. Maybe one of your good patterns is that you are open to holy possibilities. Or, is that you at all?

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

  1. More and more, we hear about behavioral “patterns” being at the root of so many problems. Why do you think people fall into such destructive patterns? What takes an okay pattern and makes it destructive?

 

  1. Today’s lesson text is drawn from Judges, with the famous “cycle” of faithfulness turning to unfaithfulness, which leads to judgment/punishment and finally redemption. What might cause such unfaithful behavior?

 

  1. What does our Christian faith teach us about seeking honor for ourselves? About sharing honor with others? Discuss with group members, listening to each other’s testimonies and beliefs.

 

  1. Take a look at “Beginning the Lesson” on p80 of your Connections Teaching Guide. Are we ever surprised at the leaders God chooses? Should we be?

 

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…

 

Judges 4: 1-3                         What was evil

In v1, how important is the word “again”? Why? How do v2-3 describe the punishment they fell into as a result of their evil? See how many issues are listed here.

 

Judges 4: 4-8                         I will go if…             

In v4-5, how traditional a “judge” does Deborah seem to be? What seems to be her plan in v6-7? What kind of a response did Barak give her in v8? Why do you think he did so?

 

Judges 4: 9-10                       I will go, but…

In v9, what did Barak think she was prophesying? Who was the likeliest woman to fulfill this, to this point in the story? What are we to learn from Barak and Deborah in this text?

 

  1. On p94 (lrge. print) our lesson writer says, “This story testifies to the power of personal leadership that doesn’t seek its own glory, but instead seeks to the glory of the Lord and of other people.” Do you agree with this assessment? Why does this seem especially important in God’s kingdom? In your life?

 

  1. How does Je 31: 31-34 relate to our text? How about Mt 25: 14-30?

 

  1. On p96 our lesson writer says “Are we keeping our eyes open for the surprising things God may have in store?” Would a surprise from God, about right now, be good news to you, or bad? Why so?

 

  1. In the Connections Commentary, Brian Harbour begins by recounting all the leadership roles that Deborah held. He says there are four—but see if you don’t count even more. For context, see p61-2 for six “cycles” of rebellion/judgment/repentance/deliverance that we’ll find in Judges. See p64 for some questions that arise about Deborah’s approach, as a result of reading this text.

 

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. Why do we sometimes not learn from our own mistakes?
  2. What patterns do you need to break? Pray that God will lead you to healthy patterns of faithfulness.
  3. What might have caused the people to fall into unfaithfulness? What are we supposed to learn from stories like this? Ask God to make you aware of such patterns and circumstances so you can be more ready.

 

  1. See “Applying the Lesson” on p84 in the Uniform Teaching Guide. What do Deborah and Barak teach us about living the way God wants us to live?

 

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


Connections 11-26-17

A Victorious Lord Ephesians 1: 15-23

Focal Outline: Ephesians 1: 15-16 Ceaseless thanks

Ephesians 1: 17-19 Anticipating the time

Ephesians 1: 20-23 Above all rule

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

1. No matter who else claims to be, Christ is the ultimate authority over our lives. Who is your “authority”?

2. Christ plans to return one day to judge “the nations.”  How will you be “judged”?  What needs to change?

3. As we get to know Jesus better, we’ll better experience the blessings of being God’s people.

4. We look forward to God’s resolution that is to happen one day.  But, we can already experience some of that.

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

1. What does it mean for Christ to be “king” of your life?  What might need to change?

2. By what standards might Christ judge “the nations”?  Who will He be judging?  How will you be judged?

3. What can I do to better understand who Jesus is?

4. How does a resurrected Jesus show us toward a foretaste of God’s glory and redemption?

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!]

Jesus is Lord.  Often, that is the testimony of children or adults as they enter the waters of Baptism.   That simple, brief testimony.  Some people listen to the interviews of breathless athletes, carried away in the moment, who wish to thank My Lord and Savior Jesus Christ—only to come away with the notion that this is all one word.  Whatever the packaging–the context–let’s ask another question: what is the meaning?  What do any of us mean when we proclaim Jesus to be the Lord of our lives?

I hope you’ll stop and work on that one for a few minutes.  Maybe that could be your question of the week.  Your driving around or walking around question.  Our unit theme this month has been God’s Perpetual Power.  In this week, though, we focus on God in the form of Jesus Christ.  Christ as a reigning, transforming and preeminent power.  Folks in my church hear me say often that some of the best news I can give them is this—God is God, which means you don’t have to be.

I hope you find that to be good news. But, we’d all still do well to wonder what it means for us to acknowledge Christ as “Lord” over our lives.  For some, the focus might be on salvation.  For others, a second chance or a renewal of sorts.  For still others, guidance and a model for healthy living and decision-making might be their most hopeful understanding.  In any event, what role does submitting to God play in your understanding of faith?  When we truly submit to someone, we hand over to them the opportunity to shape us powerfully.  How does your life need some re-shaping?

 

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

1. Jesus says that He will return one day and judge the nations.  What do you take this to mean?  By what standards?  How should that be instructive for us?

2. What would you say have been some things that have “enlightened the eyes” of your heart during your lifetime?  What do you take this to mean?

3. How does God want to put the power of the resurrected Lord to use in the church? (p104)  Our lesson writer will ask that question this week.  Discuss with group members, listening to each other’s testimonies and beliefs.

4. Take a look at “Beginning the Lesson” on p87 of your Connections Teaching Guide.  What do we truly mean when we say that Christ is Lord?

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…

Ephesians 1: 15-16 Ceaseless thanks

In v15, wonder how Paul has heard about these qualities?  Why is it important that Paul has “heard” about their faith?  In v16, what is Paul’s reaction to this good news?

Ephesians 1: 17-19 Anticipating the time

In v17, what is Paul specifically praying for on behalf of the Ephesian believers?  In v18-19, what might this spirit of wisdom do for them?  What is the intended result of all this?

Ephesians 1: 20-23 Above all rule

Read v20-21 aloud.  What do you think this means?  Outline the affirmations about Christ that Paul makes in v20-23.  Have someone write these on a board, or at least keep track.  Why should this encourage us?

2. On p102 (lrge. print) our lesson writer says, “As we get to know Jesus better, we’ll better experience the blessings that come with being God’s people.”  What are some of the “blessings” this might refer to?  How could you get to know Jesus better?  What one thing will you do to help this happen?

3. How does Re 22: 1-9 relate to our text?  How about Mt 25: 31-46?

4. On p104 our lesson writer says “The church is the body of Christ that bears his presence in the world….”  If we take today’s scriptural text, and look at each point Paul makes—what seem to be the Church’s assignments?

 

5. In the Connections Commentary, Brian Harbour shares a short, cute story about a little boy’s bedtime prayer.  On p66-7, what are two key qualities that Paul cites regarding the Ephesians?  See p67-8 for a discussion of Paul’s prayer that they will have “wisdom” and “enlightenment.”  Key words are explained that enumerate what this enlightment might yield—hope, inheritance, power.

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. 1. A. As you pray this week, reflect on the blessings that will be ours one day.

B. Ask God to enlighten you so you will be filled with hope.

 

  1. 2. We can grow in our knowledge of Jesus by studying the Gospels and by praying.  What else can we do to put ourselves in a better position to know Jesus?  Find one practice and try that this week!
  1. 3. See “Applying the Lesson” on p92 in the Uniform Teaching Guide.  Can we ever know Jesus well enough?

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