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Teacher Resources

05-26-19 Formations

Form 5-26-19

Timothy and Epaproditus Philippians 2:19-30

Focal Outline: Phil 2:19-24 Timothy

Phil 2:25-30 Epaphroditus

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

1. Many adults are living in chaotic times and need someone of worthy faith as a positive role model.

2. Many adults are skeptical of people of faith seeing with cynical eyes choosing to see nothing positive.

3. When in despair, all of us need people around us to bring good cheer and to help us see goodness.

4. For us all, Jesus is the ultimate example of good news, good cheer, and generosity.  Let us follow obediently!

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

1. Who are some role models for you who represent faith in a positive and realistic way?  Why these?

2. Why are skeptical even cynical of people of faith?  How can you present a positive understanding of faith?

3. When you are depressed or anxious, who cheers you up?  What can you learn from this?

4. What makes following Jesus so difficult?  What makes following Jesus so necessary?

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!]

     I don’t know if I have ever seen such an outpouring of grief around the death of a person of faith as in recent days with the passing of Rachel Held Evans.  “RHE” as she is fondly known was a noted young Christian woman who shared progressive faith as an author and speaker.  She challenged conservative Christianity and gave voice to a generation of wandering evangelicals wrestling with their faith according to the New York Times.  Dias and Roberts report that her last column was on Ash Wednesday when she wrote, “Whether you are a Christian or an atheist or an agnostic or a so-called ‘none,’ you know this truth deep in your bones: ‘Remember that you are dust and to dust you will return.’ Death is a part of life,” she added. “My prayer for you this season is that you make time to celebrate that reality, and to grieve that reality and that you will know you are not alone.”  She was well-respected even among her detractors; she was never phony or unkind even when arguing fundamentalist men trying to bully her.

    RHE was real and honest about her own struggles with faith and encouraged us all to seek our own truth.  She was a voice seemingly crying in the wilderness and urging us all to embrace Jesus.  She was “good news” to a culture that is filled with “bad news,” showing us how to live and ultimately how to die.

    Timothy and Epaphroditus were similar role models in their time.  Paul was the ultimate pastor to his beloved Philippians yet was too sick to pastor them in person.  He sends in his place two men of extreme character and faith to minister in his place.  Paul, Timothy and Epaphroditus are three people representing Christ and giving hope to a congregation in conflict.  Rachel Held Evans represented Christ and gave hope to a modern generation in conflict.  What about you?  How are YOU giving representing Christ and giving hope?

 

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

1. We are a culture of celebrity and we have “Christian celebrities” who have emerged.  Actors, authors, singers speakers, and television preachers are trying to make headway into culture with their Christian messages.  Who are some that you admire?  What is their message?  What draws you to these?  Paul reported to the Philippians that there was “no one like Timothy who would be genuinely anxious for the Philippians.”  Are these Christian celebrities “anxious” for our welfare or their ratings?  How do you identify those worthy of your support and respect?  This list of these recognized “celebrities” is long but those with a worthy message perhaps short!

2. What cheers you up when you are in despair?  Who cheers you up when you are in despair?  Who cheered you when you were a child?  A teen?  What have all these who are vessels of hope taught you? Who needs you to be a vessel of hope for them?  How will you respond?   

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 Lesson Commentary for further insights.)

1.  Phil 2:19-24 Timothy

What is happening in this passage?  Why is Paul sending Timothy to the Philippian congregation?  Why could Paul not go himself?  What is his message around this trusted partner in the ministry?  Paul is very anxious for this congregation and he loves them deeply.  What characteristics does Timothy bring for ministry to this church?  Note:  Why does Paul write so much about these “personalities” more than the Christian principles?  At the foundation of the Christian faith is relationships!  Paul, Timothy, Epaphroditus were in deep relationships with each other and the Philippians.  Relationships ALWAYS are valued more that tenets of the faith.  Why?  

Phil 2:25-30 Epaphroditus

What is happening as Paul’s message continues?  Who is this man?  What characteristics does this man bring for ministry to this church?  What is his role?  What insight does Philippians 4:8 give us about Epaphroditus?  What might we infer about his respect and leadership?

2. Perhaps use the practice of “colloquy” and have a spiritual conversation with Timothy and Epaphroditus?  Ask each of these biblical characters a question that is at work in your own mind.  Then imagine what they might say in response to your question.  Do this as in individual reflection and then share some insights.  This is a fascinating spiritual exercise that often brings insights beyond the text.  While this might be a bit uncomfortable, lean in and try this with your class.  For more, search “colloquy” on the Internet.

3. How does 1 Timothy 1:2 relate to this passage?  What about Acts 16:1ff?  

4. What do each of these men have to offer a congregation in conflict?  How are YOU like them?

How willing were these to go and minister for Paul?  How willing are you to minister to those in conflict?  

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

1. Discuss any of the following:

a. Why are skeptical even cynical of people of faith?  How can you present a positive understanding of faith?

b. When you are depressed or anxious, who cheers you up?  What can you learn from this?

c. What makes following Jesus so difficult?  What makes following Jesus so necessary?

2. To whom are you willing to go and be an agent of healing?  Why?  How can you be an agent of healing in your church?  In your community?  

3. With whom do you identify the most:  Paul, Timothy, Epaphroditus?  Why?

Close the class in prayer asking for your Christian character to be recognized as genuine and worthy.  Pray that you will recognize those around you in despair and be a vessel of ministry to them.

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

05-26-19 Connections

Connections 5-26-19

The Lord Will Be Our Light Revelation 21: 22-22:7

Focal Outline: Revelation 21: 22-25 The glory of God is its light

Revelation 21: 26-22: 4 The tree of life healing healing nations

Revelation 22: 5-7 I am coming soon 

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

1. Our lives exist within a continual interplay of light and dark.                 

2. Images like wholeness, light, healing and safety appear to permeate this city of God.                        

3. To be part of this realm requires new ways of thinking and acting on our part. Life with God is not life as usual.               

4. The night, symbolic of all that causes fear, has no place in the new Jerusalem.       

 

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

1.  Based on what I know about God, what might living with God--and in “light”-- be like?                  

2.  How might life that near to God stand in contrast to life as we know it now?               

3.  What are some examples of new ways of thinking and acting that will be required for life in God’s city?                   

4.  Blessed is the one who keeps the words of this book… how can I keep the words of Revelation now?                  

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!]

John doesn’t offer readers a specific itinerary of the end of times.  Rather, he communicates the urgency of his message that God-- not circumstances or earthly powers-- is ultimately in control.  I love those sentences of summary.  Why do you think I like them so much?  My hope is that, within these five weeks we will have studied the Revelation, we all have gained access to the true messages of this book.  That’s right, five weeks since we actually started in Revelation on the last Sunday of the previous unit.  

If most of us haven’t stripped away our old ways of thinking about Revelation, then we might still be missing its essence. That is, if we are still thinking about “end times,” mysterious beasts and tantalizing codes or images, then we’ve missed the truths herein. Light and dark, health rather than strife, and God’s healing nearness are what we end on here in chapters 21 and 22.  These act as keys for unlocking the entirety of the message.

In the middle of our lesson this week, our writer introduced the comments of scholar Mitchell Reddish.  He challenges us to understand that “...to be part of this new Jerusalem requires new ways of thinking and acting on our part.  Life with God is not life as usual.”  Having studied now for five weeks in this unique “Revelation” of God, what are some specific ways in which life--and mindset-- will need to be renewed?  Finally, how might we need to get moving on that renewal now, while still very much living here and in this realm?         

 

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

1.  Allow yourself to reflect on your current life reality for a moment.  What would you describe as “old” or “dark”?  In contrast, what might “new” or “light” mean for your life?  How might your faith intersect these now?       

2.  When we talk about security, we use that word to talk about safety, finances, emotion, national security and others.  What types of security matter most to you?  If God’s future is secure, what all might that mean?                             

3.  Like much of our Bible, Revelation’s promises are said to be coming soon.  How might we be intended to understand this “soon”?  What do you suspect that we could be doing now to help Revelation’s promises begin to come true in our realm?         

         

4. Take a look at “Beginning the Lesson” on p27 in your Connections Teaching Guide.  How does it feel to be in the dark?  How does it feel to be in the light?  

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...

Revelation 21: 22-25 The glory of God is its light

V22 speaks of a dramatic change.  What is that?  Why so?  Likewise, v23-24 note another absence.  What is that?  How do these verses explain the lack of need for light?  How does v25 add to this understanding?                                          

Revelation 21: 26-22: 4 The tree of life healing healing nations

Have someone read v26 aloud for the group.  What does this seem to describe?  V27 makes a strong distinction about the health and purity of God’s redeemed future.  What is that?  How might our understandings of v27 differ from God’s intent?  What are the promises found in v1-4?  List them.  How do they contrast your present realm?                                        

Revelation 22: 5-7 I am coming soon

In v5, what has happened to night?  What hope does this promise us?  How do v6-7 lend hope?  When is “soon”?                                         

2. On p29 our lesson writer says “He tells us that in the end, God’s light will overcome all darkness and God’s intimate presence in the new Jerusalem will bring healing and wholeness.”  How does God’s nearness seem to be a source of light for all that is?  What does God’s nearness portend that would bring healing and wholeness?                                                                

3. How does Gn 3: 22-24 relate to our lesson?  How about Rv 21: 1-7?      

4. On p35 our lesson writer says, “Mitchell Reddish says that the ‘purpose of [Revelation]...is to warn, to exhort and to comfort.’”  Looking back on now five weeks studying the Revelation together, what have you heard that might speak to any or all three of these?  Discuss within your group.                                                                    

 

5. In the Connections Commentary, Brian Harbour begins by recalling the recent solar eclipse of August, 2017.  Excitement to see the light was tempered by caution. On p19-20, how are we to glean both hope and challenge from God’s “light”?  See p20-21 to tie Ezekiel’s apocalyptic “river” with John’s Revelation water of life!  On p21-22, John’s “tree of life” will bear new fruit each month.  What promises are found here?                          

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. Rev. 22: 7 says “Blessed is the one who keeps the words...of this book.”                                     

       B. Spend time in prayer this week.  What specific, practical ways can you “keep” these words as you live?                       

 

  1. 2. Reflect on the word “security” this week.  What types of security matter to you now?  What safety and security will God provide in a renewed and perfect realm?  Give thanks for the security Jesus provides you even now!                   
  1. 3. See “Applying the Lesson” on p31 in the Uniform Teaching Guide.  Why should we remain steadfast and faithful in our following of Jesus?  How does John’s vision encourage us now?                     

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

06-02-19 Formations

Form 6-2-19

The Spirit is Upon Me Luke 4:14-18

Focal Outline: Luke 4:14-18 Prophetic Preaching

Bonus - Luke 4:22-24 From Aware to Amazed

Bonus - Luke 4:25-30 From Amazed to Enraged

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

1. Adults today need to be more aware than ever that God is still at work with judgment and correction.

2. Prejudice and judgementalism still exists in our communities yet this may be more subtle than outward.

3. Transformation of heart, mind and soul only happens when we internalize new information and grow.

4. Living in the power of God’s Spirit transforms us into a people being the presence of Christ.

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

1. To what transformations is Jesus calling you?  What keeps you from following more intentionally?

2. When do you withhold grace from those different from you?  Why?  Who needs God’s grace from you?

3. Why does God continue to challenge us to grow deeper?  Are you growing?  Why/why not?

4. To what new challenges are you being called?  How do you know?  How are you responding? 

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.

     You hear the subtleness of prejudice all around.  “What is SHE doing with HIM?”  “Can you believe that tattooed guy came to our church?”  “I’m not sure you FIT in our Sunday School class.”  “How in the world can you believe that?”  “If you have those people in your church, you can’t belong!”  Hear the judgment?

     Nazareth was a city filled with uppity believers.  They sat in the Synagogue in their best dress and looked down on the common folks who were coming with sincerity.  “Is this Joseph’s son?” was actually a question of judgment.  And Jesus does not disappoint.  He challenges these church folks to move out of their comfort zone.

     Today, the prejudice and judgments of Nazareth are just as prevalent.  We harshly judge those who might be of a different color, different ethnicity, or different sexual preference.  We are a people in need of correction.  We are a people who have fallen short of Jesus.  And yet, I hear some of you thinking, “Aren’t you a white male from Milledgeville, Georgia?  What have you to tell to us???”  See…judgmentalism is alive!

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

1. Who are the people that get judged today?  Why?  What is it about judgment that is so easy?  What is hurtful about judging others?  What is dangerous about judging others?  When have you been judged?

2. Share this quote from Martin Niemoller…then discuss.

First the Germans came for the Communists, and I didn’t speak up, because I wasn’t a Communist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I didn’t speak up, because I wasn’t a Jew.

Then they came for the Catholics, and I didn’t speak up, because I was a Protestant.

Then they came for ME, and there was no on left to speak up for me.  (www.serendipity.li/cda/niemoll.html)

3. Here is my testimony, perhaps yours, “When I was young, I was certain about almost everything.  The older I get, the less certain I become about more and more.”  What does this mean?  Agree/Disagree?  Why?

4. How are we to live without judging?  Isn’t this a little unrealistic?  We tell our children, “Don’t talk to strangers.”  Isn’t this a form of judging?  What is Jesus saying to us?

5. Have fun with this…What is your least favorite… color, tv show, candy?  Do you have a tattoo?  What car do you drive?  Who is your favorite college team?  Remember, No Judgment!  

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 Cecil Sherman’s Commentary for further insights.)

 

1.               Luke 4:14-18 Prophetic Preaching

What’s happening here?  It would seem to me that preaching at “Homecoming” should be a great happening for 

the young minister and the Congregation.  Was this the case for Jesus?  What is Jesus doing in this passage?  

Doesn’t Jesus sound a bit arrogant here?  Where is this passage originally found?  (Isaiah 61:1-2)  Jesus is now 

defining His messianic role.  Why do you think the congregation didn’t accept Him?

Luke 4:22-24 From Aware to Amazed

What happens next?  Why was Jesus not content to “bask in the glory” of their affirmation?  How does He 

confront them?  Why does He confront them?  What would you have done if you had been Jesus?  What would 

you have done had you been in the congregation?  

Luke 4:25-30 From Amazed to Enraged

What happens next?  What is Jesus preaching in this section?  Why would he do this?  Jesus offended His hometown congregation, one that could support His ministry?  Why?  What is the real tension happening here?

2. Do you agree with Jesus’ assessment that “no prophet is accepted in his hometown”?  Why?  Is this true in your home church?  What is the responsibility of the prophet in his hometown?  What is the responsibility of the congregation in his hometown?  What does your congregation need to hear today?

3. The main issue here is that Jesus is confronting Judaism!  This would happen over and over again.  Share some of the other challenges Jesus puts before the Jewish leaders.  Are these challenges put on us today?  Why/why not?  Where did Jesus get the courage to speak so boldly?  What keeps us from speaking boldly to confront prejudice?

4. Isaiah 61 and Luke 4 are treatments on the year of Jubilee of Leviticus 25.  This was to take place every fifty years in Israel, all debts are forgiven, all slaves freed, all land given back to original owners, all people in Israel would spend the year celebrating the goodness and blessings of God.  What would happen if we were to observe a year of Jubilee?  What would happen if we were just to celebrate God’s goodness for a year?

Application:  (5-15 minutes - This section is to give learners an opportunity to apply lesson truths to their lives!)

1. Anger is evident in this passage…both in the preaching of Jesus and in the hearing from the congregation.  What is this anger about?  Do you hear/feel anger in your church?  Where?  How?  What are you doing to resolve this anger?

2. Jesus spoke the truth in love!  Agree/disagree?  What’s the difference between preaching the truth in love and preaching the truth in anger?  Are the results similar are different?  Why?

3. Prejudice is dangerous.  Thanksgiving is contagious.  I received the following challenge this week:

Be thankful for 1000 things every day!  (It’s more difficult than you might think!)

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

06-02-19 Connections

Connections 6-2-19

Faithful Waiting                          Acts 1: 1-11

 

Focal Outline:            Acts 1: 1-5                  Wait there

                                    Acts 1: 6-8                  Asking for clarity

                                    Acts 1: 9-11                A promise     

 

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

  1. Our culture has acclimated us to being impatient.Jesus’ instructions and promises begin with “wait.”
  2. We share the same Spirit-led mission charge that these original believers received.
  3. Remembering our connections with Jesus’ ministry is critical for the life of our churches.
  4. It is important that we do all we can understand, but we will never know everything we’d like to know.

 

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

  1. What are the tradeoffs of our controllable, predictable and almost instant world?
  2. How would I summarize the mission these early believers were given?How does this inform our calling now?
  3. What are the key points of the early believers’ mission charge that should still drive our churches today?
  4. What does my faith give me that could help me to manage my own impatience and curiosity?

 

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!]

Curiosityis an admirable intellectual trait.  Some of the great advances and many of the great discoveries of our history happened because someone followed their curiosity.  We need to wonder, and we should push to the edges of what we do not know.  However, nosinessis not an admirable trait.  The line between curiosity and nosiness can seem so thin.  Being nosy usually leads to our being into something we had no business being into in the first place.  Being nosy also annoys others.  Having a clear sense of what is leading us to explore, or learn, or think is a healthy awareness.  Jesus told his disciples to “wait.”  That had to have been hard for a bunch of people who wanted to know what came next!

This week’s text shows us some people who encountered questions.  I say “encountered” because one curiosity came from the disciples. The other was posed to them.  They were rightful to have those questions, I suppose.  Look at the questions and promises found here.  Were they understandable ones, the questions?  What of the promises that followed those questions?  Do they reveal to us anything about where God was headed?

Faithful waiting is active waiting.  That’s what our lesson writer in this new unit of study will say this week.  (p42, large print ed.)  That’s a good word for us.  True, Jesus did tell them to gather and wait for him to arrive.  Once He did, Jesus told them that it wasn’t for them to know God’s timing.  But, they had work to do!  Their mission would be to serve as His witnesses across the world.  How is their calling still our own call?

 

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

  1. An old proverb says, “Good things come to those who wait.” How have you seen this come to be true in your life? Discuss within the group.  How does waiting come into play within your own faith, specifically?       

 

  1. Christians hold that the Gospels are important.What practices within your church’s life demonstrate that the Gospels are, indeed, important?  Talk this over within your group.

 

  1. There is much about our faith, and specifically how God does things, that we wish we knew more about.Discuss within your group what each member wishes they knew more about in our faith. With regard to Jesus’ return, what do you think God is waiting for?

 

  1. Take a look at “Beginning the Lesson” on p35 in your ConnectionsTeaching Guide.When have you had to wait for a promise to be fulfilled?

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...

 

            Acts 1: 1-5                  Wait there
What is the “first book” referenced in v1? Why is that connection important to us? How did v1-5 summarize what was presented in that Gospel book?  How does v5 especially explain what is to come in this book?

           

            Acts 1: 6-8                  Asking for clarity

What curiosity was on the minds of those gathered with Jesus in v6?  Why did He answer them in this way, in v7?  What specific promises and purpose is set forth for Jesus’ followers in v8?

 

            Acts 1: 9-11                A promise

What do v9-11 add to the beginning of this Gospel?  What do you make of what the two men said to them in v11?

 

  1. On p42 our lesson writer says “When the apostles ask Jesus if he is about to fulfill all their hopes by restoring Israel, he tells them that they can’t know about such things.”We have the same purpose and the same Spirit empowering us. How does the “not knowing” affect your faith? Your mission?

 

  1. How does Eph 1: 15-23 relate to our lesson?How about Lk 2: 25-38?

 

  1. On p44, our lesson writer says, “We watch for Jesus not by staring into the sky but by going in the power of the Spirit to do the work of ministry that Jesus sends us to do.”What would you say that work is?Why is fulfilling that mission considered a better way to “watch”?

 

  1. In the Connections Commentary, Brian Harbour begins by defining “Christology.”There on p24, what are 3 different approaches to the study of Christ? What are 2 things that catch our attention as the book of Acts begins?  On p25, what “strong word” shows what Luke intends to demonstrate here in Acts?  On p26-7, why did Jesus ascend as He did?  On p27-8, amid the uncertainty what are at least 2 things we can know?

 

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. Read slowly through Ps 47. Before doing so, pray that the Holy Spirit will teach you.
  2. Spend time in prayer this week.Again, invite the Spirit to instruct you.  How might our lesson help this?

 

  1. As you read the Ephesians 1: 15-23 passage, list the gifts God gives us. Reflect on how knowing we have these gifts should encourage and empower us for the work of ministry.  Ask God to help you.

 

  1. See “Applying the Lesson” on p39 in the Uniform Teaching Guide. Why does God sometimes call on us to wait for the Spirit’s leadership rather than move directly into action?

 

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