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Teacher Resources

11-17-19 Formations

Form 11-17-19

The Prospect of Judgment         Matthew 25:31-46

Focal Outline: Matt 25:31-33 A Worldly Gathering

                    Matt 25:34-40 A Worldly Invitation 

Matt 25:41-46 A Worldly Warning

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

1. Awareness to others is basic to the development of a mature mindset of Christian service and judgment.

2. Hospitality recognizes all persons with dignity and respect irregardless of their plight in life.

3. A maturing faith serves others without regard for ourselves.  As we serve others, we also serve God!

4. Service in Jesus’ name, being the presence of Christ, to those in need is ALSO service to our Christ!

Life Questions: (To help focus your thoughts…)

1. What have you learned about how you should live for eternity?  How does living for today affect that?

2. What does your hospitality say about your relationship with Christ?  How can you grow this relationship?

3. How do you most often feel, like a sheep or a goat?  Why?  What might need to change?

4. What is the relationship between “grace” and “hospitality”?  How are you doing in Christian servanthood? 

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.

     Jesus is in His final days.  He is in Jerusalem for Passover, a time of great celebration among the Jewish people.  There were many immature expectations about who Jesus was and would become; none to which He would respond.  Things are pretty much the same today!  “The more things change,” the more there are STILL immature expectations about who Christ Jesus is and what He will do!  The story of the Great Separation is a prophetic parable that calls us to an intentionality of serving Christ through serving others!  Intentional hospitality assumes maturity!  Maturity assumes a growing faith!  We cannot serve Christ by serving ourselves...that is NOT Biblical.  A mature faith is comfortable with diversity.  A mature faith is comfortable in service.  A mature faith serves others without thought for oneself.  A mature faith that practices intentional hospitality has Christ at its center...not Self!  A mature faith is not concerned with judgment…only with serving others in Christ.  Eternity will take care of itself if we care for others!

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

1. What is your favorite summertime refreshment?  Why?  What memories emerge from each of these?  

a. Ice Cold Watermelon b. Homemade Peach Ice Cream

c. A cold Coca Cola with Peanuts d. A Snow Cone e. Other

2. You have been given a missions assignment for your church.  You can pick one of the following places to go and share the Gospel for one year.  Where will you pick to go...and Why???

a.  The Inner City of your City b.  The Adolescent Cancer Ward of a major hospital

c.  The Richest Suburb of your City d.  You PRESENT Neighborhood e.  Other

3.  You have been given a prized honor for valor...which one would you pick and why???

a.  The Medal of Honor b.  The Medal for Outstanding Stewardship  

c.  An Academy Award for Humanity d.  The Nobel Peace Prize e.  Other

4.  What does “Maturity” mean?  How do you recognize it?  How do you gain it?  

Who are 5 people that you know who are mature?  What is special about these five?

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. Matt 25:31-33 A Worldly Gathering

What is the larger context of these verses?  What are the implications?  What role does “grace” play in this passage?  What about “wrath”?  Who is gathered?  Who is showing hospitality?  How does this passage represent the love of God? What is the hospitality being modeled here?

                    Matt 25:34-40 A Worldly Invitation 

What happens to the sheep?  What did they do to receive these blessings?  Are the “sheep” winners?  What did the sheep do to win God’s approval?  What is the significance of each of these actions of the sheep?  What is the hospitality being modeled here?

     How did the Sheep respond?  What was surprising about their response?  Do you think they had been aware of what they had been doing?  Why didn’t they shout for joy and bound into the kingdom?  Why did they continue to question God?  

Matt 25:41-46 A Worldly Warning

How did God phrase His final response?  What was surprising about His response?  Was God bothered by their not accepting on first pass?  How does God respond to the goats asking questions?  How does God respond when WE ask questions?  What is the hospitality being modeled here?

2.  What six actions does God base His judgment on?  To whom are these actions to be directed?  Ultimately, to whom are these actions directed?  Is maturity indicated more when we act with a conscious determination or with an unconscious reaction?

3. How does Luke 24:13-31 have to do with this passage?  What is the hospitality being modeled here?

4. What does it mean to be “blessed” by God?  Do a Scripture search on this one beyond today’s passage!

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

1. When have you been in a situation similar to one as outlined in this passage?  What were the circumstances?  How did you respond?  What was the outcome?

2. Would you rather be naked or a stranger?  Why?  Whom would you rather help, a stranger or a naked person?  Why?  Whom would you rather help, one who is thirsty or hungry?  Why?  How are the needs around us today similar to the needs of the people of Jesus’s day?  How are the needs different?

3. What opportunities for meeting these needs are before us today?  How can your class help meet some of these needs?  How can our church meet some of these needs?  Why is “praying” for these needs to be met not enough?  Why didn’t Jesus bless, “If you prayed for the least of these?” in this passage?  

     

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

11-17-19 Connections

Connections 11-17-19

Blessing Our Faithful Efforts 2 Thessalonians 3: 1-13

Focal Outline: 2 Thessalonians 3: 1-5 Pray for us 

2 Thessalonians 3: 6-9 Don’t take advantage

2 Thessalonians 3: 10-13 Doing what is right

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

1.  This week’s scripture focuses on life within a church and among believers.                    

2.  We should pray for those who give their lives to proclaim and spread the good news of Jesus Christ.                             

3.  The Lord motivates us to be active in ways that spread grace and love.                 

4.  Idleness is still a problem.  Today’s believers must be just as vigilant about pulling their share of the weight.          

 

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

1.  What if I just concentrate on life within the church, during my study of this lesson?  How might that help?      

2.  What are several ways in which I could support those who give their lives to proclaiming the good news?                 

3.  Our roles as believers are always to be active ones.  How can I differentiate “active” support vs. “passive”?               

4.  How could church members who don’t volunteer or give financially also be examples of what Paul taught here?                           

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!]

Do not be weary in doing what is right. (v13) That is how the apostle Paul concludes our lesson text this week.  What is the subject this week?  Well, that’s a good starting place.  I’m telling you right now, someone’s group will take off on a tangent as soon as they read these verses. They’ll miss not only the lesson’s theme, they’ll also miss Paul’s subject and in some way misuse the scripture itself.  Let me elaborate.  I am thinking of a certain Sunday School class that meets in a room near mine. They tend to chat a little too much about politics.  I can just hear someone taking off on a rant about “welfare” and about “people who are too sorry to work.”     

As I often do, let me call us back to the unit theme. This month, the lessons are bound together under the theme of Spiritual Motivation. Our writer gave an overview back in the Introduction. I hope you read it. There, we learn that of course the apostle will give corrections and instructions.  But, he’ll also shed light on what God is doing.  In among all our busy-ness and living, our responses and our intents-- God is always at work.  We’ll be called all month in these lessons to pay attention to what God is doing.  

So, if these words from Paul aren’t about your favorite political/cultural position on people too sorry to work...what are they about this week?  Well, let’s read them.  That’s always a good place to begin when we study the Bible.  To whom was Paul speaking?  What was their actual problem?  We may discover that his words challenge “us” rather than some “them” we love to perceive.  I also love the request for prayer.  As I write, we just commissioned a team headed to serve with CBF missionaries in Slovakia.  If you will, pray for us! 

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

1.  When has someone told you that they had prayed for you?  How did that feel for you?  What is the power of supporting each other very specifically through prayer?  Discuss within your group.                                                     

2.  What are the church’s obligations to those who have given their lives to sharing and spreading the good news of Jesus Christ?  How should those obligations change along with our growing expectations of these servants?                                  

3.  This week we hear Paul admonish “idle” supporters and believers.  What does “idle” look like in our world?  What might an “idle” believer act like at church?  Discuss within your group.   

         

4. Take a look at “Beginning the Lesson” on p80 in your Connections Teaching Guide.  How is your work meaningful to you?  How is it meaningful to others around you?    

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.

2 Thessalonians 3: 1-5 Pray for us 

How did ch2 conclude that explains “Finally...” as v1 begins our text?   For what does he ask in these prayers? (v1-2)  What hopes and resources are evident in v3-5?    

 

2 Thessalonians 3: 6-9 Don’t take advantage

In v6, what do you understand the warning to be?  What is “idleness” in Paul’s estimate?  What was the model that Paul’s group left for them, according to v7-9?                                                                    

2 Thessalonians 3: 10-13 Doing what is right                                        

What additional conviction did Paul and his group teach, according to v10?  In v11, what has prompted this item of attention?  What encouragement do we hear in v12-13?                

2. On p91 our lesson writer says  “Paul is confident that the Thessalonian Christians will continue to grow in their faith and love.  His confidence is in the Lord; he trusts that the Lord will help them continue to progress.”  How might Paul’s hopes, and his specific confidence here, give us hope in our age as believers?                                                                            

3. How does 2 Cor 1: 1-11 relate to our lesson?  How about 2 Pt 1: 1-11?       

4. On p93, our lesson writer says, “One of the ways we can do Christ’s work in the world is by subsuming our individual rights to the needs of the community. What would this mean in your life?”   How would you respond?             

                                                                        

5. In the Connections Commentary, Brian Harbour works to lay down a definition of “evangelism,” the church’s universal assignment. (p60)  On p60-1, look for some help with key words that help us know what he prescribes prayer for.  What does it mean to be “faithful”? (p62)  On p62-3, what are at least 2 results that faithfulness will produce?  Don’t miss an illustration from Mother Teresa’s life-- how faith drives our willingness! (p63)                 

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.  This week, pick one clergyperson and one layperson to pray for by name.                                       

       B.  Ask God to help them be faithful in bearing witness to Jesus.  Ask God to help you, too!                                    

 

  1. 2. Read the poem on p95 (lg print edition), John Donne’s “No Man Is An Island.” Spend a few moments reflecting on this poem.  Read 2 Thess. 3: 1-13.  Ask God to bless your best efforts at being a faithful and productive member of the Christian community.                          
  1. 3. See “Applying the Lesson” on p84 in the Uniform Teaching Guide.  How will work and community operate in the new world God will bring about?                                         

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

11-24-19 Formations

Form 11-24-19

The Water of Life  Revelation 7: 9-17

Focal Outline: Revelation 7: 9-12 A great crowd worshipping

Revelation 7: 13-14 They have washed their robes

Revelation 7: 15-17 They are safe and cared for 

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

1. The Revelation acknowledges that much of life can be hard.  John points to faithfulness as a cause of suffering!               

2. Our world is full of people and things that would claim to offer us “salvation” of a sort.  The Lamb saves.                        

3. The great ordeal ahead might be, as John sees, a grim conflict of loyalties and duty rather than physical danger.             

4. The Revelation offers a picture of divine comfort and blessedness awaiting God’s faithful after earthly ordeals.       

 

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

1.  If you were to sum up three things that make life so hard, what might those be?                  

2.  Where have you looked, in this life here and now, for something that could be seen as “salvation?”           

3.  What “grim conflicts of loyalties and duty” have you observed or experienced in life?                 

4.  What does Revelation’s comfort and blessedness sound like to you, as portrayed so far?                  

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!]

A trio of headstrong young seminary students piled into a car and headed out across their state.  Their quest was to attend a weekend workshop where an eminent scholar would teach on the biblical book of John’s Revelation.  They were eager to get there and claim great seats.  They wanted to sit at the feet of an expert who might unlock the mysteries of all the code, imagery and action found in the Revelation.  

As they went across the parking lot, an old custodian was sweeping up out front of the huge lecture hall.  He said, “I guess you boys are here for the Revelation conference.”  They tried to push on past him, but he stepped out and propped up on his broom.  “I think I got the Revelation figured out.”  They grinned at the notion.  “Best I can tell,” he said, “Revelation is a love-letter from God written to a tired, worn out, beat up people...tryin’ to tell ‘em everything’s gonna be okay.”  They sniffed at the simplicity and headed on in.  The lecture hall filled up.

The renowned scholar stepped out onto the stage and welcomed everyone.  He promised they would go page by page and chapter by chapter, unlocking the mysterious riches.  But he said, “I have a friend I work with here on campus who sums it up about as well as I could imagine. He says that best he can tell, Revelation is a love-letter from God written to a tired, worn out, beat up people...tryin’ to tell ‘em everything’s gonna be okay.         

What do you think of his summary?  How does this help you read the Revelation? Why might some be disappointed with the contrast to their assumptions that Revelation tells about the end of earth, mysterious armed conflicts, great beasts and world history?  How does this help you anticipate the coming Judgment?        

 

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

1.  Above, you read that one person says, Revelation is a love-letter from God written to a tired, worn out, beat up people...tryin’ to tell ‘em everything’s gonna be okay.  How might that help to unlock all that you read therein?      

2.  John’s world, like ours, had many who would offer “salvation” of sorts.  What in your world seems to make promises of such magnitude?  How do you manage the temptations that come with those offers?                           

3.  The great conflict in John’s Revelation might be less an armed and military one.  Instead, it might be a grim conflict of loyalties and duty.  What might this mean?  How have you experienced a conflict of loyalties and duty?      

         

4. What image in this passage today has spoken clearly to you?  Why this image?  What might God be saying to you as you think about this image?  How might this change the way you approach life?

5. For what are you thankful this year?  How might this change the way you live life in the coming year?

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.  Revelation 7: 9-12 A great crowd worshipping

In v9, after what?  What is this gathering described in v9?  List the various symbols in v9 and discuss what they might mean.  In v10, what do they affirm?  How do v11-12 add understanding of what is happening here?                                       

Revelation 7: 13-14 They have washed their robes

Why does the elder ask his question?  What answer comes in v14?  What might this “great ordeal” be?                                        

Revelation 7: 15-17 They are safe and cared for

In v15, for what “reason”?  What are at least 2 things the Revelation suggests will be our eternity in v15?  What more do we learn in v16-17 about what eternity might hold for us?  List all you can.  This passage offers a poetic vision of final comfort and blessedness awaiting God’s faithful on the other side of their earthly ordeals. How does the text offer comfort and blessing for us today?

2. One writer says, “It is not the threat of physical death which constitutes the great ordeal, so much as the grim conflict of loyalties in which a Christian may well be in genuine doubt where...duty lies.”  How does this help you to understand the “ordeal” mentioned in v14?  How does this understanding challenge you now?  What conflicting loyalties and duties might you be wrestling with today?                                                                

3. How does Is 6: 1-8 relate to our lesson?  How about Lk 12: 29-32?      

4. What words/themes are most often associated with the writing of the book of Revelation?  If this is indeed a love letter of comfort, why do so many avoid it?  As we approach this Thanksgiving season, what might this passage have to say to us about giving thanks…giving up fear…living in abundance and generosity? 

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. This week, make a list of 10 things that God offers to us through salvation in Christ.                                   

       B. Spend time in prayer.  Offer your list to God.  Linger in each item, listening for God to speak to you.                   

 

  1. 2. Prayer consists of a similar rhythm of receiving and giving: we receive God’s presence and love for us, and in response we offer to God the contents of our hearts and lives. This week try practicing that give/take.  

3.  Close the class with prayers of thanksgiving and sharing comfort with one another!  Pause before departing simply to rest in the love of God!                

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

11-24-19 Connections

Connections 11-24-19

Reconciling All Things Colossians 1: 9-20

Focal Outline: Colossians 1: 9-14 Praying for you 

Colossians 1: 15-17 The image of the invisible

Colossians 1: 18-20 Christ over the church

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

1.  There is much in this letter for the Colossian believers to learn.  We can too.                   

2.  These verses lead us to reflect on the need to mature in our faith.                             

3.  We need to stay grounded in the One who holds everything together.                

4.   Through Christ, God will make everything as it should be.           

 

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

1.  How do I best learn from an old letter like this?  How should I engage this material?       

2.  Who around me could really help me as I try to mature in my faith?                   

3.  What might being more “grounded” in Christ start to look like?  Sound like?  Act like?                

4.  What might “God...making everything as it should be” look like?                             

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!]

Paul’s purpose in sharing a hymn is to present the Colossians with a solid understanding of Jesus that will enable them to be effective followers.  The hymn affirms that Christ is all the Colossians, or anyone else, needs for salvation. (p100)  That’s right. Within this “letter” that the apostle Paul wrote, there appear lyrics to what would have been a “hymn.”  The hymn lyrics fall within our assigned scriptural text this week. I hope you’ll be interested in learning more about that.  Our lesson writer will work with that a bit.      

Like any church, the Colossian believers needed someone to shepherd them.  There was much to be thankful for about them.  However, the apostle also knew how vulnerable they were. Vulnerable to discouragement and vulnerable to being misled.  So, he works here to anchor or ground their trust in God through Jesus Christ.  Some people would refer to what he is writing here as Christology.  God has done wonderful things for us through Jesus Christ.  Here may be the most important part. To Paul, Christ is the “...image of the invisible God.”    

That is no small claim. What do you think?  When you can’t see something, or someone, you need to take your clues where you can get them.  In him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell.  This is High Christology!  But, the affirmations go further.  Christ holds all things together.  He keeps all of Creation from slipping back into chaos.  Is Paul’s view of Jesus starting to get big now?  What might it mean to you for Christ to be at work reconciling all things?   

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

1.  Where do you look for security?  Who...what...form parts of your security?  What does “security” sound like?  Feel like?  Look like to you?                                                       

2.  What keeps you “grounded” in life?  We use that term a lot.  Grounded.  For a believer, what might staying grounded-- in the One who keeps things together-- look like?                                   

3.  As Christ’s followers, we should participate in what God is doing through Christ.  As Christ’s followers, how can we be peacemakers?  How can we be reconcilers?  Talk this over within your group.     

         

4. Take a look at “Beginning the Lesson” on p87 in your Connections Teaching Guide.  Think of a time when you started something new.  How did you feel as you started your new endeavor?      

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.

Colossians 1: 9-14 Praying for you 

In v9, for what “reason” do they not cease praying?  Have someone read v9-14 aloud for the group. Work together to list all of the specific requests made on the Colossians’ behalf.  Also, list all the affirmations made about God!  

 

Colossians 1: 15-17 The image of the invisible

Talk over what v15-16 say.  How is Christ the image of the invisible?  Also in v15-16, how comprehensive is Christ’s role in God’s reign?  In v17, how might this be true biblically-- and in your own experience?                                                                      

Colossians 1: 18-20 Christ over the church                                       

What further affirmations does Paul make about Christ’s supremacy in v18?  How should this affect our belief and our practice of being “church”?  What do v19-20 add to how we should understand Christ’s identity?                  

2. On p99 our lesson writer says  “We have the privilege of learning more and more about God’s will and way. This increased knowledge should lead us to live in ways that reflect who God has revealed God’s self to be through Jesus.”  In what ways do you need to grow more in your understandings of God.                                                                            

3. How does Lk 18: 15-17 relate to our lesson?  How about Heb 9: 23-28?       

4. On p103, our lesson writer says, “Our sin disrupts the relationship between God and creation, but God is reconciling all things to God through Christ’s death and resurrection.”  How can we be peacemakers?  How can we be reconcilers?  How can we follow God’s lead in Christ, by giving ourselves away?               

                                                                        

5. In the Connections Commentary, Brian Harbour quotes former president Jimmy Carter in order to remind us that one key goal for Paul was to get the Colossians to “demonstrate” their faith.  But, what does this mean? (p66-7)  On p67-8, how is it possible for them to live the kinds of lives Paul describes?  How can Jesus rescue us from the darkness and provide redemption and forgiveness? (p68-9)                

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.  Read v15-17 from our lesson text again.  Reflect on each phrase.                                      

       B.  Ask God to help you incorporate this truth into your life.  What does each phrase remind you about Jesus?                                    

 

  1. 2. Read v18-20, the second part of the “Christ hymn” found in Paul’s letter.  Read the phrases here one at at time.  Pause and reflect on each truth.  Ask God to help you incorporate these truths into your faith!                          
  1. 3. See “Applying the Lesson” on p91 in the Uniform Teaching Guide.  How can we participate in what God is doing through Christ?                                         

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