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Teacher Resources

07-21-19 Formations

Form 7-21-19

God’s Promises Joshua 23:1-10, 14-15

Focal Outline: Joshua 23:1-5 God has been, is, and will be!

Joshua 23:6-10 Be VERY Careful!

Joshua 23:14-15 God never fails…in the Good and the Bad!

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

1. Many adults today wonder if God is still active in our world, if God still cares for us!

2. Many adults today know that God has been active, God is active, and God will be active in our world.

3. As Joshua warned his people, he warns us, “Stay faithful that God’s good acts will continue among you.”

4. God is with us in the good and the bad.  And, breaking God’s covenant will always bring punishment.

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

1. What evidence is there in your life that God still cares for you?  Who needs to hear your witness?

2. When do you wonder if God cares for you?  How does God confirm everlasting love for you?

3. What does “staying faithful” look like to you?  What do you expect from God for your faithfulness?

4. What is the role of Jesus in you knowing that God has been, is, and will be active in our world?

Points to Ponder

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

     Passing the baton is a tricky maneuver.  This is true in relay races and in leadership transitions.  I’ve been part of several leadership transitions some that were smooth, some that were less than smooth.  Some leaders come in to a well-prepared staff and a well-prepared organization.  These leaders are respected and respect the organization’s prior leaders.  These leaders come in “gently” to live into the culture and build on the good that has been transferred.  Other leaders come to organizations determined to make their mark regardless of the consequences.  They begin with a “scorched earth” approach!  Many of our longest cherished corporations have suffered from this kind of leader transition.

     Joshua is the first kind of leader.  He inherited “gently” the leadership mantle of Israel and led with confidence and intentionality.  He settled the Promised Land and put the Israelites in a good position.  Today, we see Joshua about to “retire”.   And in facing his death, he declares to the people, “Keep doing what you know to do!”  Think what had happened in their history, Moses had rescued the nation from slavery, led them on a 40-year journey, and led them to the brink of the covenant promise.  Joshua picked up the mantle and fulfilled settling the nation.  Every skirmish was a victory.  One of the weakest people would set 1000 of their foes in retreat.  God had always been present, God has been true to the covenant.  Joshua reminds his people and perhaps US…God has been, God is, and God always will be!  Thanks be to God!       

Motivation: (5-15 minutes -These are designed to spark the learner’s interest in the lesson.)

1. What is your favorite way to REST?  When have you experienced some of the best rest in your life?

What have you learned about REST in your adult life?  How do you regularly practice self-care?

2. When is a person considered “old”?  Why this?  What do we know about “old people”?  What might we be missing by overlooking the elderly around us?  Who is the wisest older person you know?  What is a piece of wisdom they have shared?  When you are “old”, what do you hope will be said about you?  When does one start leaving their legacy?

3. Respond to this phrase from my pal, Jimmy Buffett:  I’d rather die while I’m living than live while I’m dead!

What about you?  How do you plan to stay active and engaged well into your Senior Adult years?

(NOTE:  This might cause some emotional responses.  Be sensitive to your class!)

Examination: (10-20 minutes – These give learners opportunities to interact with the text, to see, feel, and hear God’s message.  Also, consult the Learner’s Study Guide and Commentary for further insights.)

1. Joshua 23:1-5 God has been, is, and will be!

What does v1 tell us?  How did the Israelites come to rest?  (God gave them rest!)  Why do you think this happened?  Who specifically does Joshua summon to give transition advice?  Why these?  What does he have to say to them?  Why these words?  What is left to be done?  How will this happen?  What is the message to us?

Joshua 23:6-10 Be VERY Careful!

“Be very careful” is shared several times in these verses?  Why?  What have been the results of loving and obeying the Law of Moses?  Do you think the leaders of Israel did not know this?  Why is Joshua being so intentional in his advice?  What is the message to us?  How do we “love and obey” God’s word?  Do we?

Joshua 23:14-15 God never fails…in the Good and the Bad!

Verses 12 & 13 are a precursor to these verses.  What will be the terrible results if Israel is disobedient?  (v15)

What is the message to us?  How do these verses help us understand the nature of God better?

2. What does Leviticus 26:7-8 have to do with this passage?  REMEMBER:  The nation would have known this passage by heart.  They would have been raised on the promises of God…and…they had 40 years to anticipate God at work!  What promises of God are you holding onto?  What promises of God have you seen come to reality in your life?  

3. Agree or Disagree?  Why?  

“Most of us were taught that God would love us if and when we change. In fact, God loves you so that you can change. What empowers change, what makes you desirous of change is the experience of love. It is that inherent experience of love that becomes the engine of change.”  Richard Rohr 

4. If you were Joshua, what would you have to say to your leadership team?  Why?

Applying the Lesson (10-20 minutes - Choose one or two questions to encourage action plans for the coming week!)

1. Respond to any of the following…

a. What evidence is there in your life that God still cares for you?  Who needs to hear your witness?

b. When do you wonder if God cares for you?  How does God confirm everlasting love for you?

c. What does “staying faithful” look like to you?  What do you expect from God for your faithfulness?

2. Who are some Senior Adults that are special to your church?  Perhaps consider inviting some of them into your class today to share the history of your church and offer advice to your class.  If you teach a Senior Adult class, consider inviting some younger adult leaders into your class for dialogue and prayer!

3. Close the class in prayer.  Pray for the legacy of those who have come before you?  Pray for your church that you will stay faithful to God’s call.  Pray for one another as you continue leadership.

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

07-21-19 Connections

Connections 7-21-19

God Requires Justice Amos 8: 1-12

Focal Outline: Amos 8: 1-3 What the Lord showed me

Amos 8: 4-6 Accusations abound

Amos 8: 7-12 On that day

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

1.  As Amos wrote, injustice was a chronic problem.  It still is.                   

2.  The symbol of “fruit” is limited, because fruit can rot with time.  Fruit has no choice.  People do have a choice.                        

3.  I may run a business or I may not.  All of us do business with someone, and all cast votes that influence justice.                

4.  Biblical words of judgment shouldn’t cause us to live in fear, but they should cause us to take sin seriously.          

 

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

1.  How is injustice still a chronic problem, and how am I connected with it?                      

2.  What choices do I make on a daily basis that perpetuate either good or bad fruit?                

3.  How could I become more self-aware of specific ways I can be a more just person?       

4.  What is my responsibility as a constant participant within economic and political systems?                         

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!]

But let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream. (Amos 5: 24) That was how my introduction to Amos began in seminary.  To this day, I have no idea why those words compelled me quite like they did at that time.  Because I didn’t understand them.  Sure enough, I knew they sounded like judgment upon “those sinners.”  Now I know I am among the “sinners” as much as anyone else.     

The prophets had a tough job then, and their work among us hasn’t grown any easier in the thousands of years since Amos’ time.  First, they always had hard news to deliver.  Who enjoys that?  Delivering bad news could be costly.  That was true then and still is now.  Next, after announcing the coming judgment, they always explained why.  Injustice was Amos’ major theme, and the reason for Israel’s looming pain.  However, a prophet always delivered a word of hope.  God would provide a way out, “if” they sought forgiveness and changed their ways.  Finally, a prophet’s work was never done until they had called their audience to action.  “Do something!” 

Amos is clear and practical.  Read especially v4-6 of our text this week.  The accusations against the people are specific.  In doing business, they have created a system wherein the poor are also exceedingly powerless.  Rather than using the Sabbath as they should, they appear to merely wait this sacred day out.  God’s holy day gets in the way of their crooked commerce.  They have forsaken the Lord’s ways, focusing on deceitful practices.  Ultimately, they “sell” the poor and needy to acquire more for themselves.  How do we participate in broken systems and practices like this still today?   Be careful to not hear Amos talking to “someone else.”        

 

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

1. For the love of money is the root of all evil.  These words are found in 1 Tim 6: 10.  So, let’s talk about this.  Why might “the love of money” really be the root of all evil?  What else is “evil” rooted in?                

2.  Our faith can shine a light onto our life realities.  What is the worst news your faith has ever spoken into your life?  What hard news do the prophets among us try to deliver to us today?                                        

3. Amos has many disturbing things to say.  Among them, notice that he says a time is coming when the people will no longer be able to hear the word of the Lord.  How could this happen-- then or now?                  

         

4. Take a look at “Beginning the Lesson” on p85 in your Connections Teaching Guide.  What challenges do we face now in having a conversation about economic injustice in our context?                

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...

Amos 8: 1-3 What the Lord showed me

How did the Lord show Amos this message in v1-2?  (summer fruit)  What are some characteristics of summer fruits?  In v2, what is the Lord’s interpretation of the vision?  What does v3 add in clarifying the magnitude of this?                                                   

Amos 8: 4-6 Accusations abound

In v4, who is the audience and the accused?  In v5-6, work as a group to list their specific justice and economic sins.  How does the moon and the Sabbath figure in to this accusation?  What is their spiritual condition?                                                   

Amos 8: 7-12 On that day

Read v7-8 aloud.  What is this reference to “the pride of Jacob”?  In v9, on what “day”?  In v9-12, what are some of the coming hardships?  How will this “famine” differ from the usual?  What does v12 mean?                                             

2. On p94 our lesson writer says “We are God’s people...our privilege and responsibility come down to two things: we are to love God...and we are to love our neighbor as ourselves.”  Read the full paragraph for context. How does Amos’ message connect with our lives today?                                                                      

3. How does Mt 22: 37-38 relate to our lesson?  How about 1 Tim 6: 10?       

4. On p96, our lesson writer says, “If you own, operate or help manage a business, you can apply these words to your life.  But we all should practice basic human kindness that leads us to treat people fairly.”  What are some specific systems and practices that I perpetuate which are unjust?  What in my life IS fair and just?                                                                          

 

5. In the Connections Commentary, Brian Harbour opens with a Thoreau quote that is convicting and relevant.(p58)  What does Amos’ vision of the basket of ripe fruit mean? (p58-9)  How does what God sees differ from what the religious and political leaders in Israel see? (p60)  On p60-1, what are the complaints against the leaders?  If the political/religious leaders are following the rituals-- then what is the problem?  (lack of interest)                          

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. A desire to be rich, prominent or powerful can lead us to engage in unethical practices.                                         

       B. Ask God to help you to be loving and gracious so you will treat people in the right ways.                            

 

  1. 2. This week, re-read Amos 8: 1-12.  Being specific, how are economic and political injustice an issue in your culture?  How can we benefit from hearing Amos’ words?  Do we practice justice?  How do we treat the poor?                       
  1. 3. See “Applying the Lesson” on p89 in the Uniform Teaching Guide.  In the church, do we talk more about individual or communal sins?  Why does this matter?                         

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

07-28-19 Formations

Form 7-28-19

We will serve the Lord Joshua 24:6-16

Focal Outline: Joshua 24:6-12 Thus Saith the Lord!

Joshua 24:13 The Rewards of Obedience

Joshua 24:14-16 The Choices before the People

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

1. Many adults aren’t interested in past performance.  “What have you done for me lately” is their mantra.

2. Many adults ignore the blessings of the past interested only in God’s blessings right now!

3. Many of us are more blessed today because of the sacrifices of those who have come before us.

4. We all STILL have the option to follow God or not to follow!  What will you choose?  Choose wisely!

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

1. Why should we continue to study history?  What can we learn from the decisions of those from the past?

2. Who do you have to thank for the good things in your life?  What are you going to do to “pay it forward?”

3. Looking backward at your life so far, where have you seen God?  What does this tell you?

4. What options are before you in your life today?  What are you risks are you willing to take?  Why?

Points to Ponder

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

     After all this time, after all that God has done for them, the nation is summoned for one last opportunity to accept or reject the leadership of God.  After ALL that God has done for them, they are reminded, “You now live on a land you did not toil, in buildings you did not build, and eat food you did not plant!”  Did they really have to be reminded?  It seems that for the last two chapters all God through Joshua has done is recounting the history of the past years.  Were the people of Israel that dense???  ARE WE???

     We all know that those who ignore the sins of the past are doomed to repeat them.  In his closing days, Joshua is reminding his people one more time.  God knows our hearts and minds.  God knows that we tend to become lazy in our faith, that we tend to take for granted that God will continue to bless us.  And so, God gives the nation a brief history lesson to remind them of all that God has done.  And, then God gives the ultimate invitation, “Serve God with all faithfulness.  Throw away the sins of the past.  Choose and renew this day whom you will serve.”  

     For you and me, the choice seems simple, even unnecessary.  You and I know that after all that God has done for us, serving God is the easy choice!  OR, is it? 

Motivation: (5-15 minutes -These are designed to spark the learner’s interest in the lesson.)

1a. What is the greatest invention in your lifetime?  Why do you think this?  What factors influenced this invention coming about?  How might the role of history have influenced this invention?

b. Who is one of the most influential people of your lifetime (not family)?  Why do you think this?  What factors led to this person’s rise of influence?  How might the role of history have influenced this person?

c. Why is history important?  What happens when we pay attention to history?  When we ignore history?

2. What other “gods” influence your life?  

Money        Fame       Career       Power       Addiction       Security       Upbringing       Family

How do you keep these “gods” under control?  How do you keep Jehovah God central in your life?

     What does the phrase “spiritual but not religious” mean to you?  Can you be one and not the other?  How?

3. What is in your “wilderness”?  When is a time you have wandered in the wilderness?  It took Israel 40 years in their wilderness; how long di you wander?  What did you learn?  Where is your Promised Land?  What have you found?  What advice would you give to someone wandering today?

Examination: (10-20 minutes – These give learners opportunities to interact with the text, to see, feel, and hear God’s message.  Also, consult the Learner’s Study Guide and Commentary for further insights.)

1. Joshua 24:6-12 Thus Saith the Lord

Who is speaking in this passage?  To whom?  Why them?  From who has this message come?  Why so much history?  The nation of Israel standing before Joshua in this gathering may have known little of this message.  What was so important about all this that God had done?  What is the real meaning here?  How might this message apply to your church or to your life today?  What might Joshua’s speech be life if he were preaching in your church today?

Joshua 24:13 The Rewards of Obedience

What are the rewards of obedience in this verse?  What is the real meaning here?  How might this message apply to your church or to your life today?  Is this verse relevant to us today?  How?  What are we to gather from these words for our lives?

Joshua 24:14-16 The Choices before the People

What is the question that Joshua puts before the people?  After all this time, after all that God has done, do you think there were still those who did not believe?  Why/why not?  How does Joshua choose?  What is the real meaning here?  How might this message apply to your church or to your life today?  How do you choose?

2. What is the rest of the story?  What is the response of the people in vv16-21?  Do you think they could have answered any differently?  Why/why not?

3. How do Genesis 12:6-7 and Genesis 33:18-20 relate to this passage?

What might John 3:16-17 have to do with this passage?  (We still have to make the choice today!)

4. Verse 13 is a wonderful verse on the blessings of God.  What are some things in your life that you have “inherited” as a response to your obedience to your family?  What have you inherited from God?

 

Applying the Lesson (10-20 minutes - Choose one or two questions to encourage action plans for the coming week!)

1.  Respond to any of the following:

a. Who do you have to thank for the good things in your life?  What are you going to do to “pay it forward?”

b. Looking backward at your life so far, where have you seen God?  What does this tell you?

c. What options are before you in your life today?  What are you risks are you willing to take?  Why?

2. Perhaps have a service of recommitment for your class today.  Challenge them with the challenge from Joshua in vv14-15!  Ask people to say aloud or to write down ONE thing they are willing to do better to express their commitment to God.  Close the class in prayer for the commitments that have been shared.

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

07-28-19 Connections

Connections 7-28-19

God Offers Hope Hosea 1: 2-10

Focal Outline: Hosea 1: 2-5 Hosea’s marriage: a metaphor

Hosea 1: 6-7 God’s pity and judgment

Hosea 1: 8-10 Children of God

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

1.  We should keep our feet planted in the present while learning from the past-- and being inspired by the future.                   

2.  Though it is difficult to think about, we should consider the possibility that we have forsaken the Lord too.                         

3.  Hosea will imply that Israel has moved beyond God’s mercy and forgiveness.  We can too, it seems.                  

4.  Our hope is based on God’s grace. God’s promises are ongoing, including the hope of Israel in Abraham.           

 

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

1.  What does this hard prophecy from Hosea have to offer me as I view my own life with God?                      

2.  How have I strayed and been unfaithful to the God who loves me?                

3.  How would it make you feel to learn that you were beyond God’s mercy and forgiveness?  How can this be?     

4.  In my distractedness and sin, where can I find hope in God’s promises?  How does Hosea offer hope?                         

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!]

Go, take for yourself a wife of whoredom and have children of whoredom, for the land commits great whoredom by forsaking the Lord. (Hs 1: 2)  Okay.  How many of us grew up not realizing how much of the biblical content the adults were hiding from us? I didn’t know that this verse from Hosea 1 was in there until seminary!  My teaching opportunities here often include a diverse age-range. People who remind me an awful lot of my mother are going to study this lesson.  My goodness, her Sunday School class will study this lesson.  In my family of origin, we still operate on the assumption that a stork delivered my brother and me.  This is uncomfortable!     

Of course, Hosea’s words are also clear and compelling.  In this monthly unit of study, we are visiting some writings of the biblical Old Testament prophets.  The news they had to deliver was hard and not popular.  Often, they used metaphors especially in order to be sure they illustrated the severity of God’s conviction.  The one that begins this text is actually a story wrapped in a painful story.  Hosea unfolds Israel’s judgment by illustrating how unfaithful they have been to God.  Meanwhile, he himself has married a woman of whoredom, Gomer, who will also be unfaithful to him.  

One task for your study group will be to ask, “What are we supposed to learn from this?”  Another related question might be, “How is their story my story?  How is this our story?”  Being occasionally unfaithful to God seems to be a universal and timeless affliction among believers.  Yet God is portrayed as being the “...the same yesterday, today and tomorrow.”  Indeed, what will we take away from this that helps us?         

 

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

1. How does it feel when someone betrays a personal relationship? (p102)  It seems that we give those closest to us the most access to our hearts-- which allows them to hurt us deepest when they stray.  Why might that be true?                  

2.  Your lesson writer will ask, “Do we trust in God to deliver us?  Or do we too often trust in ourselves?  What might such misplaced trust look like in our lives?” (p104)  Discuss your responses within your group.                                          

3. We can always become closer to God than we are and we can always serve and obey God better than we do. What are some specific ways we can help these outcomes happen?  Discuss within your group.                   

         

4. Take a look at “Beginning the Lesson” on p92 in your Connections Teaching Guide.  How far do you think God would go to communicate God’s word to the people?                

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...

Hosea 1: 2-5 Hosea’s marriage: a metaphor

In v2-5, what do we learn about Hosea?  What do we learn about God?  What do we learn about Israel’s past and future?                                                    

Hosea 1: 6-7 God’s pity and judgment

In v6, why might this not say that she bore “Hosea” a daughter? (illegitimate child?)  What might have taken God past the point of pity on Israel?  Why in v7 will God continue to save Judah though?  How will God not save them?                                                   

Hosea 1: 8-10 Children of God

In v8-9, what more do we learn about God’s view of Israel?  How far might God actually mean/take this?  What does v10 add to this? (hope)  How so?  Why so?  (see lesson writer’s notes especially on p105, large print ed.)                                            

2. On p102 our lesson writer says “One way that Israel had forsaken God was by practicing and condoning violence.  Are we too willing to tolerate violence in our society?”  What about harm in our churches?                                                                      

3. How does 1 Ki 21 relate to our lesson?  How about 2 Ki 9: 1-10?       

4. On p106, our lesson writer says, “Our hope is based on God’s grace. It isn’t based on who we are or on what we can do. God’s grace should inspire us to be faithful in our relationship with God.”  How should God’s grace inspire us?  How does God’s grace inspire you?                                                                            

 

5. In the Connections Commentary, Brian Harbour will begin with 2 definitions of a “prophet” and 2 additional factors that characterize biblical prophecy. (p64)  How are these helpful to know, and how does Hosea embody these?  What time period in history, and where in the Bible can we find the events of Hosea’s prophecy?  (p65)  What are 3 ways to understand God’s commands to Hosea regarding Gomer...and which one is most helpful?(p65)                         

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. We should do better and be better. Instead, we often fail and fall. When we do, God’s grace is our hope.                                        

       B.  Pray to know God’s grace as fully as possible. Pray to stay close to God.  Pray to trust in God to restore you when you need that restoration.                              

 

  1. 2. The marriage of Hosea and Gomer symbolizes the relationship between God and Israel. As you reflect on these verses, consider ways that your unfaithfulness might sadden God. Pray to make God glad!                       
  1. 3. See “Applying the Lesson” on p96 in the Uniform Teaching Guide.  How does it make you feel to hear that restoration might only come after we have experienced the consequences of our sins?                         

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