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Teacher Resources

01-26-19 Formations

Form 1-26-2020

          Christ Exalted Philippians 2:1-11

For more discussion, see Bo’s book, Sessions in Philippians, available from Smyth and Helwys!

Focal Outline: Philippians 2:1-4 Be Unified!

Philippians 2: 5-8 Be in Christ Jesus!

Philippians 2: 9-11 Jesus Christ is OUR Lord!

Summary Statements: (To share an overview of the lesson…)

1. Christians are called to live in and with the mind of Christ.  Being the presence of Christ is a discipline.

2. Our mission is to have the same mission as Jesus, humility and service for others.

3. Genuine unity does not mean everyone agreeing on everything but on supporting everyone in everything.

4. We cannot be inspired or empowered in Christ until we willingly submit ourselves to the Lordship of Christ.

Life Questions: (To help focus your thoughts…)

1. What is the right attitude for your Christian witness?  How can you discipline yourself into this attitude?

2. How do we put on the attitude of service and selflessness?  What needs to happen in your life?

3. What power do you try to grab?  Why?  What difference does “your” power make?

4. What does it mean to serve with humility and strength?  How do you live intentionally in Christ?

Points to Ponder!!

NOTE:  The following outline is designed for 40 minutes of teaching.  Use 3 to 5 different teaching techniques; choose at least one idea from each of the three sections below.  This will help your class become discussion oriented and interactive.  These approaches will also help you build excitement, intimacy, and disciples as you learn.

     Sooner or later, we have to make right choices.  For many of us, our “upbringing” in faith gave us too many easy answers.  We lead persons to believe that the right choices make life easy, the right journey with Christ is an easy transformation, that choosing Jesus brings about right relationships.  We teach seekers to just take on the persona of Christ and life will be great if we try hard enough, pray hard enough and study hard enough.  I haven’t found life to work that way.  I struggle every day to do even the smallest things as Christ would.

     Paul implores us to look beyond ourselves.  Yet, we live in a consumer culture that conditions us to see ourselves as the perpetual stars of our own shows!  We are NOT the stars…the Christian life is NOT about me!

     To Paul, unity in Christ will feature us being able to see others as equally valuable to God.  That means sharing with each other, doing for each other and occasionally deferring to one another.  Now, I don’t know about you—but my transformation isn’t that complete.  Sometimes, we have to “learn to do the right thing even when that right thing isn’t primary in our hearts.  Actions are easy; we all know what to do.  Attitudes, not so easy; we are all struggling to do the right thing at the right time for the right reasons!  Only in Christ will we find the answers to that challenge!  Stay faithful on the journey!

Beginning (5-15 minutes - These ideas are to spark the learner’s interest in the lesson.)

1. In a “me first” society, where does the concept of humility fit?  Talk over the spiritual purpose that humility serves.  What is the relational purpose humility serves?  What makes humility a relevant and necessary force?  

    Humility…Weakness: what are the differences in these two words?  Why are they so often mistaken for each other in some cultures?  What makes having a clear concept of each important to our faith?

2. Do you participate in some “groups” outside church: service, civic, work, community, social?  Share some you affiliate with.  Then, ask them to discuss how diverse gatherings of people manage to find unity.  How do we get along in business groups, civic groups?  What can the church learn from other positive groups?

3. Think back—when has been a time that you knew someone had placed you above themselves?  What act, deed, gift or statement has demonstrated selflessness that impressed you?  Why was this so meaningful to you?  

What are some of the “basics” of living like Christ?  What are some of these that just don’t come naturally to you?  What can sometimes lead you to be more like Christ?

Examination: (10-20 minutes – These help learners interact with the text, to see, feel, and hear God’s message.  There is NO way you’ll cover all the material.  Choose wisely; let the needs of your class and your prayerful discernment lead you!  Consult the Learner’s Study Guide and the Commentary for further insights.)

1. Philippians 2:1-4 Be Unified!

In the conditional “if” list that Paul uses in v1, what qualities of church/faith life do you hear being described?  In v1, what difference might be made by using the word “if” instead of “because”?  (some scholars believe this was intended)  In v2, “then” what results would be healthy for the church?  In v3-4, what stance is primary? (humility)  

Philippians 2: 5-8 Be in Christ Jesus!

In v5, what is the standard we are to hold?  In v6-8, discuss and identify the hallmarks of this attitude as seen in Christ.  In v6-7, describe the “attitude” of Christ mentioned back in v5.  If v8 is an instruction for all believers, then what is Paul prescribing for us?  What does it mean to “…be obedient to death?”  (‘til death maybe?) 

Philippians 2: 9-11 Jesus Christ is OUR Lord!

In v9-10, what reward did Christ receive for His life?  What can we learn from hearing of Christ’s exaltation after a life lived in humility?  What does v11 have to say about who we are to worship, rather than exalting our own abilities?  In v9-11, what were the results that you can identify for Christ?  

2. Much like today’s culture, first-century Rome was a ‘me-first’ society, showing humility was seen as a sign of weakness. Agree or Disagree?  Why?  What might bear out this assessment of ancient Rome?   Is this true of our culture today?  Why/why not?  How can this inform us now?

3. What does Mk 10: 37 have to do with this passage?  How about Ga 6: 2?  

 

4. Worldly society values power and punishes weakness.  Jesus’ decision to practice humility and honor God’s power above human power caused him to die at the hands of power-hungry individuals.  In what ways is this assessment true?  How are Jesus’ ways actually forms of “power” themselves?  

Application (5-15 minutes – These ideas give learners opportunities to apply lesson truths to their lives!)

1. From the following list of people, whom would be the most intriguing and why?  Who holds the least appeal?  Whom would you reject outright?  Why?  How does your judgment affect your responses?

a. Peyton Manning   b. Ellen DeGeneres         c. Bill Gates          d. Superman          e. Other

Whom do you think Jesus would accept on this list?  What might Jesus say to each?

2. Read Isaiah 42:1-4   What does this passage say about the role of the servant who God appoints?  How fond is God of the servant who follows God’s heart and will?  What is the role of the servant in Isaiah?  How does this compare to the Christ?  What type of servant can you be?

3. Read John 18:19-40   How does this passage exemplify and amplify the Philippian passage?

Close with prayer that each of us might be able to live more in this way. 

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

01-26-19 Connections

Smyth and Helwys Connections Series Lesson Outline for January 26

Unifying Grace 1 Corinthian 1: 10-18, 26-31

Focal Outline: 1 Corinthians 1: 10-13 Be united

1 Corinthians 1: 14-18 Unified in Christ

1 Corinthians 1: 26-31 The source of life

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

1.  The cross lies at the heart of our common faith. Christians come together over shared commitment to Jesus.               

2.  Paul’s emphasis on the cross of Christ gives us a standard for evaluating our teachers and ourselves.                             

3.  The ways we think about and approach life should reveal that we follow the crucified Lord.             

4.  We have nothing to boast about. Paul says we should stay aware of all that God has done for us in Christ.          

 

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

1.  In all our diversity, what unifies me with my fellow church members?  With believers in my larger community?   

2.  What values, standards and causes does a crucified Christ call me to emphasize in my own faith?                    

3.  How do my ways of living speak to what I believe about Jesus Christ and His sacrifice for us?                

4.  What do I hear Paul saying about “boasting” if Christians are not supposed to actually boast?                             

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!]

Well, I can tell you that they like each other. They seem to really know each other and share community.  I get the feeling they might be especially unified, as churches go. The date was December 28, 2016.  Elizabeth had just picked me up at the airport, fresh back from my initial visit to what is now the church I pastor.  She said, “Okay…tell me all about them!”  With that start, I began describing for my wife the members of a pastor search committee I had just met face-to-face for the first time.

Anyone can put their best foot forward for a short while. All search committees seem to function in “selling” mode with a new candidate. But you can tell about people after a while. Right?  Church unity, true community among believers is all too rare if we are being honest. Peace within a church is not a given. Trust, cooperation and shared purpose are commodities we should never take for granted within any group, much less a church. I have seen what individualism, consumerism, selfishness and a culture of rivalry can do within a local church. It isn’t pretty. The apostle Paul will suggest today that the very cross of Christ is what should unite us.  

“Unifying Grace” is our lesson title. If we take advantage of the opportunity, this week’s lesson could offer us a chance to come to a fresh understanding about a church’s underlying dynamics. In all of the inevitable diversity of even a peaceful congregation, what can we rally around? Paul would suggest that the #1 binding factor must be our commitment and gratitude to a crucified Jesus Christ. We should evaluate what we say, do and commit to be a part of—all based on the reality that God-in-flesh has shown us a better way. Then, that same Christ has handed Himself over even unto death that He might rise. What does this all have to do with people getting along? Read up. Study the lesson. Study the text. Ask the hard questions, and talk this over with trusted friends!   

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

1.  Our lesson writer says, What brings people together? What unifies them? (p29) This gives us a chance to examine the unified zones of our own lives. So, how would you answer the questions?  Discuss with your group.                                                     

2.  How would you complete the following sentence?  “I belong to _____________.”  What are some groups, causes, people or commitments that you would say you “belong” to?  Discuss within your study group.                                       

3.  What would you say you do differently because of your faith?  What do you do or say differently because you belong or affiliate with a church/group of believers?        

         

4. Take a look at “Beginning the Lesson” on p27 in your Connections Teaching Guide.  If you choose this option, be sure you prepare by having a chart or board on which to write, and are ready to guide the class groups!  

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.

1 Corinthians 1: 10-13 Be united

In v10, what is Paul’s “appeal” to the Corinthians?  What are some specific ways in which v11-12 explains his cause for concern?  How would you summarize the problem? What does v13 add to his appeal?        

 

1 Corinthians 1: 14-18 Unified in Christ

In v14-16, for what is Paul “thankful”?  Why so?  What is Paul’s role in this relationship, according to v17-18?  How is the message of the cross “foolishness” to some?                                                                      

1 Corinthians 1: 26-31 The source of life                                    

How does Paul explain the Corinthian believers’ role in v26-29?  Talk this over in your group, and propose how you might summarize this.  In v30, what all did Christ provide us as a source of our life?                        

2. On p34 our lesson writer says “Paul writes, ‘For the message about the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.’”  For whom is the cross “foolishness” today?  How is it “the power of God” for believers?                                                                               

3. How does Is 53: 1-13 relate to our lesson?  How about 1 Sam 1: 1-20?         

4. On p35 our lesson writer says, “We should learn to reflect on what God has done in the past and pay attention to what God is doing in the present. We should show our gratitude by living in light of our commitment to the crucified Lord.” What should this mean for your belief? Your living?        

                                                                        

5. In the Connections Commentary, Brian Harbour draws a fascinating bit of analysis from C.S. Lewis! (p19) See 2 key phrases in Paul’s text on p19-20. On p20, what are 3 questions Paul uses to respond to the divisions in Corinth? On p21, why does Paul want to focus on the Cross? On p21, see a discussion about why the message of a crucified Christ is foolishness and a stumbling block!                   

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.   Jesus’ death on the cross reveals God’s power. It is the power of love and grace.                               

       B.  As you pray, ask God to help you reflect the power of the cross in the ways you live.                                  

 

  1. 2. We all “belong” or are committed to things other than Christ. If honest, how do your other affiliations and commitments affect your life as one who belongs to Jesus? As you pay this week, ask God to help you be sure your relationship with Jesus is primary rather than secondary to these other relationships.                              
  1. 3. See “Applying the Lesson” on p31 in the Uniform Teaching Guide. What kinds of problems can develop in the church when we focus on the wrong things?                                               

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

02-02-20 Formations

Form 2-2-2020

         Moses’ Early Life Exodus 2:1-15a

Focal Outline: Exodus 2:1-4 A Hidden Child

Exodus 2:5-9 A Hidden Insight

Exodus 2:10-15a A Hidden Heritage

Summary Statements: (To share an overview of the lesson…)

1. When we act as the presence of Christ, we communicate that we trust that God knows what God is doing.

2. God uses all of us to round out the grand plan that God has put in place.  Action requires faith!

3. God is calling all of us to be the presence of Christ in the world.  God desires our interaction!

4. God calls us boldly, we must respond boldly too.  We must all be ready to respond!

Life Questions: (To help focus your thoughts…)

1. What bold action is God calling you to take?  What keeps you from a bold response?  What needs to happen?

2. How are you like Miriam?  How are you like Moses’ mother?  How are you like Pharaoh’s daughter?

3. How can we be ready when God calls us into action?  What do you need right now to feel “Christ confident”?

4. How open are you to responding to God’s call?  How willing are you to make serving God a priority?

Points to Ponder!!

NOTE:  The following outline is designed for 40 minutes of teaching.  Use 3 to 5 different teaching techniques, choose at least one idea from each of the three sections below.  This will help your class become discussion oriented and interactive.  These approaches will also help you build excitement, intimacy, and disciples as you learn.

     The call to respond to God is a scary one.  When God called me to follow and become a disciple of Christ, I had to walk “down front” and tell the preacher.  Scary!  When God called me to ministry, I had to sit before an ordaining council and share my call experience.  Scary!!  When I graduated from Seminary, I’ve had to share with Search Committees about why I thought God was calling me to work in their settings.  Scary!!!

     Yet, the God I serve is the God of Love and Grace.  The God I serve is in control of the process; God knows the “Grand Plan”!  There have been times that I didn’t get the church I interviewed with.  There have been times when I didn’t get the “Dream Job” I was seeking.  Sometimes God doesn’t work the way I think God should work.  Sometimes God has used my shortcomings to lead me to successes beyond my imaginings.

     Imagine a mother having to hide her precious son.  Imagine a daughter having to “babysit” down by the river.  Imagine a faithful daughter, raising a foreigner as her own.  Imagine a powerful king, willing to protect his throne by killing innocent babies.  Imagine the “hidden” secrets of each of the people in our story today!  Yet, each of these players in today’s story was instruments within God’s Grand Plan.  Yet, for none of them was there an awareness of success!  They all had to sacrifice and at a great cost.  Hidden actions rarely stay hidden.  Bold actions may not always bear the success we expect.  Stay open, stay willing, stay faithful!

Beginning (5-15 minutes - These ideas are to spark the learner’s interest in the lesson.)

1. Other than your parents (and spouse if it applies), who has made great sacrifices for you?  Who are some people who have given in order that you might achieve, progress, mature?  Why do you think they made such sacrifices?  

     Have you ever said thank you to them?  Encourage folks to send thank you cards to them this week.

     What sacrifices do you think your pastor or staff ministers make on behalf of the church?  Have you ever said thank you to theses?  Encourage sending notes of thanks to these this week too!  

2. What does sacrifice…sound like, feel like, taste like?  What color is sacrifice?

Who are some people other than Jesus who have sacrificed for the welfare of the larger good?  Why?

3. Answer silently…What are you hiding?  Why this?  What do you expect from God in this issue?

Pause and pray for a release of this hidden thing.  Ask God for faithfulness in moving beyond this.

Examination: (10-20 minutes – These help learners interact with the text, to see, feel, and hear God’s message.  There is NO way you’ll cover all the material.  Choose wisely; let the needs of your class and your prayerful discernment lead you!  Consult the Learner’s Study Guide and the Commentary for further insights.)

1. Exodus 2:1-4 A Hidden Child

Spend a little time giving some background into this passage.  Then introduce Miriam, Moses and their family.  What does it mean to be from the house of Levi?  What would Moses’ role become as he grew and matured?  Why did the mother hide the baby?  If Moses hadn’t been a “fine baby” would she have hidden him?  Why/why not?  Why did the mother choose Miriam?  (Miriam was somewhere between 6 and 10 years old.  What a huge responsibility for one so young!)  What characteristics must Miriam have shown?  Why was Moses hidden?

Exodus 2:5-9 A Hidden Insight

What is the hidden insight?  (That the nurse was really the Mom!)  How did the daughter of Pharaoh respond to the Baby Moses?  How might her father have responded had he found the baby?  How does Miriam respond?  What happens next?

Exodus 2:10-15a A Hidden Heritage

 What happens as the child grows?  Moses is given an Egyptian name.  He is raised in the court of Pharaoh.  His true heritage is hidden from his Egyptian family.  Why?  Perhaps he stayed connected with his Hebrew community.  But he was definitely raised in the Egyptian tradition.  This must have been confusing to the boy, Moses.  Yet, he stayed under the blessing and in a relationship with Jehovah God.  What action gets Moses in trouble?  Does he choose to be open with this or to hide it?  Why?  What does Pharaoh do in response?

2. Who are some other Old Testament heroes who acted boldly?

Joseph, David the Shepherd Boy, Esther, Ruth 

What are similar about all of these?  

3. The word “basket” in this passage is the same Hebrew word as used in Genesis 6:14.

Compare and contrast some of the traits between Moses and the “hero” in Genesis 6.

Application (5-15 minutes – These ideas give learners opportunities to apply lesson truths to their lives!)

1. What impresses you most about:  Moses’ mother, Miriam, Pharaoh’s daughter?  Of these three, who are YOU most like?  Why?  (Encourage the men in your class to respond too!)

2. Be sensitive to the fact that there may be learners who have “given up” a child.  

What might Moses’ mother have been thinking when she put Moses in the basket?

What are the similarities be Moses’ mother and Jesus’ mother?

3. Why is all this “hiding” going on?  What is God saying to us in this passage about hiding?  About opening up?  About being found?  About being released?  About being “saved”???

People go, where they know, they have been prepared for and are cared for!

02-02-20 Connections

Connections 2-2-20_1

The Life God Requires Micah 6: 1-8

Focal Outline: Micah 6: 1-5 The hearing

Micah 6: 6-7 The questions

Micah 6: 8 The charge

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

1.  The prophet tells them how they are to live in response to all the ways God has been faithful to them.               

2.  We can get so caught up in our struggles and fears that we fail to notice God’s ongoing faithfulness.                            

3.  The people who hear God’s words through Micah wonder what God expects of them.             

4.  God asks the people to act on behalf of the poor, oppressed and the vulnerable.            

 

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

1.  What specific examples of God’s faithfulness challenge me to want to live according to God’s ways?     

2.  What one or two things consistently distract me from noticing God’s faithfulness?                    

3.  The Bible is full of what God expects of me. So, what do I hear it saying?              

4.  Who nearby needs me to do what is right for them?                             

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!]

With what shall I come before the Lord? Christians today might not think in terms of burnt offerings, young sacrificial calves, rams or oil. However, once in a while we might become aware enough to wonder what God does want from us. People talk about searching for God’s “will.” However, as Micah will remind this week, what God wants from us is pretty clear in the Bible. In fact, after Micah’s time, no less than Jesus himself came to show us what God wants. We had a living example in the form of a Messiah. 

There is a hidden treasure here that our lesson writer wisely helps us to see. God wants us to do justice. A lifetime is never enough to do a fraction of the justice we could do. We are to love kindness, and you might use the rest of this day to ponder the ways in which you could actively “love” the quality of “kindness.” However, don’t miss what comes next. God wants a relationship with us. “...and to walk humbly with your God” Micah tells the people. There it is!   

This new unit of study is entitled “Listen and Learn.” We want to do what God wants us to do. I truly believe that. We want to live in ways that please God. We’ll have to listen and learn, for all our spiritual lives, if we are to do that. Then, we will still have to act. God’s call is never just to believe, to think or to hope. We are always called to do specific things. Micah challenges us most, perhaps, because this is “The Life God Requires.”  Be sure, as you read, to ponder some ways in which Micah’s words could color your own living.

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

1.  Our lesson writer says, God wants to know why the people are acting against who God calls them to be. The people act as if following God is a chore that has become too difficult to achieve.”  What are the parts of God’s calling upon you that can sometimes feel like a “chore” to you?  Discuss with your group.                                                     

2. “What more could God do to demonstrate faithfulness to them?” (p39) If you are honest, what are you waiting for God to do so that you trust in how God wants you to live?  Talk this over with group members.                                      

3.  What does God want? In v8 of this week’s Micah text, that is the essence of the question. How would you answer that, if someone who is not of the faith asked you? See how group members answer this question.         

         

4. Take a look at “Beginning the Lesson” on p35 in your Connections Teaching Guide.  Where do we get our ideas about what God requires of us?  

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.

Micah 6: 1-5 The hearing

Have someone read v1-5 aloud for the group. What is Micah saying? What does the Lord say here?  What is God’s issue with the people?  How does the background or context of v5 help this to add to God’s message?     

 

Micah 6: 6-7 The questions

Who is speaking now in v6-7?  How would you summarize their questions? Would you say these are the right questions to be asking? Why or why not?                                                                          

Micah 6: 8 The charge                                 

In v8, how might everything in v1-7 be answered by the prophet now?  What do you believe these brief instructions mean for your living?                       

2. On p39 our lesson writer says  “The people God addresses through Micah are familiar with oppression and violence. They live in a culture of power clashes and nations fighting against one another.” Are there parallels you could draw between Micah’s world, with which God is “wearied,” and our own? How so?                                                                              

3. How does Dt 24: 17-25: 4 relate to our lesson?  How about Dt 16: 18-20?         

4. On p41 our lesson writer says, “What does God want? What kind of sacrifice is good enough for God?” Read the paragraph in its entirety. Will a “gift” we can bring to God replace a life lived as God’s child?  How would you answer the question, “What does God want?”       

                                                                        

5. In the Connections Commentary, Brian Harbour begins with an anecdote from his own pastoral career (I think!)  Who was Micah, and who are the key players in his prophecy/courtroom hearing? (p24-5)  On p25, what is Israel’s crime? On p25-6, what has God done that they have “forgotten”? On p27-8, how can we “love kindness”? What is a healthy understanding of “humility” for the believer?                   

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.  What is your understanding of what these verses suggest God “requires” of us?                                 

       B.   As you reflect on them, ask yourself whether faith in Jesus lessens or increases our responsibility.                                  

 

  1. 2. What distracts you from remembering God’s past faithfulness and noticing God’s present faithfulness? How can you refocus your mind and heart so you can hear God’s words of love and care?                                
  1. 3. See “Applying the Lesson” on p39 in the Uniform Teaching Guide. What seem to be the 3 main items on God’s checklist for us to do? Pray for your fellow group-mates, and for yourself, as you commit to these!                                               

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