Vol. 1 – (Fall 2012)
Session 13 – “Listening Together to the Voice of God”
This is a powerful lesson. The temptation is to drift into an easy conversation about modern culture and our nation repenting, but this story speaks to us. It was God’s people weeping over their own sin…that’s strong. I plan to teach the material with an outline using point 4 as a set-up and then using the first three as 2-4. I’ve also adjusted the verse brackets to fit points 3 and 4.
Point 1 – Scripture is the Basis for True Church Community – Acts 2:42
- Using the illustration of how communities throughout history have had a “center” (river, well, castle, fort or square)
- Mentioning that Ezra’s experiences (Book of Ezra) and example is something the apostles would have looked to
Point 2 – Proclamation of the Word – Neh. 8:1-2
- It was the right timing
- There was preparation
- He stayed with the Word
Point 3 – Elevation of the Word – Neh. 8:3-9
- The Word was central
- The people were led to revere the Word
- The leaders were “hands-on”
Point 4 – Call for Response – Neh. 8:10-12
- The Word brought the repentance
- The leaders called for action forward
- The Word became their bond
Session 12 – “Understanding How God Speaks”
This week I plan to open with a current news story about a box of World War II letters (written from a woman to her soon-to-be husband) that were washed up on shore from hurricane Sandy. The goal being to discuss the importance of reading them and being mindful of the 1940’s context. I really like the approach of looking at the four genres one-by-one. I plan to teach the sections as written, but will change the titles to reflect the main points I hope to make on each:
- Point #1 – “Historical – What Happened?”
- Point #2 – “Wisdom Literature – Cause & Effect”
- Point #3 – “Prophecy – Proof & Prediction”
- Point #4 – “Letters – Who, What, Where, When and Why?”
Closing with emphasis on the Holy Spirit and His helping us have discernment in applying the different genres correctly in daily life.
Session 11 – “Submitting to the God Who Speaks”
My plan for this week will be to use the scripture texts given but address them separately. I’ll start with the “katana” illustration, then bring in the Hebrews 4:12-13 passage. I like the idea of spending time developing a picture of the patient katana maker mirroring God patiently revealing His word. Once that subject is explored, the 2 Kings passage gives us a practical picture of how His word did just what Hebrews 4:12-13 describes. My teaching points will be:
Point #1. God’s Word is Superior Metal – (v. 3-10)
Discussion thought: Why is the Bible considered by some to be outdated or not relevant?
Point #2. God’s Word Cuts Cleaner – (v. 11-13)
Discussion thought: Luke 6:43-45 – why is this an important point to remember when reading/discussing God’s word?
Point #3. God’s Word Produces Eternal Results – (v. 14-20)
Discussion thought: Is there a modern day parallel to this section of the story?
Session 10 – “Trusting the God Who Speaks”
The scripture text in this lesson is an example of Stephen doing exactly what the TGP is all about-telling the grand narrative. I plan to use the idea of the opening illustration, but not exactly as written. My emphasis will be more on a child growing and becoming aware of cause & effect, etc.
Point #1 – “Stephen Demonstrated Knowledge of God’s Word” – I’ll be staying with the lesson text and camping some on the importance of learning the basic cornerstones of the biblical/historical record.
Point #2 – “Stephen [Connected the Dots Concerning] the Truth of God’s Word” – I’ve changed the title of point 2 to reflect how I’m teaching it. I agree that he trusted the Word, but he demonstrated it by connecting the dots for the listeners (what made them so angry). The leaders knew and trusted the Old Testament, but had made the wrong connections, Stephen was helping them see the contrast. Incidently, Paul (who was listening at the time) later used the same approach and even repeats 6:48 in Acts 17:24.
- Discussion #1 – “Why is it important to connect the dots between Old and New Testaments?”
- Discussion #2 – “How does knowing church & secular history also help in reaching people with the Gospel?”
Point #3 – “Stephen Spoke the Truth with Boldness” – He was confident in it and faithful to present it unvarnished. I believe the ending note should be Stephen’s motivation. It wasn’t to be “right” but to bear witness to what God had revealed to him. Love was in his heart and his countenance reflected it (6:15).
Session 9 – “Jesus – The Faithful Servant Who Submits to God’s Word”
The opening story that Henry Maxwell wrote is great and I plan to use it for opening and close. I plan to use the teaching points this week just as they are laid out. There is some good discussion questions sprinkled in there, but the main point is getting people talking about what it REALLY means to imitate Christ in every day life at work, home and play-imitating Christ…instead of being an “imitation”.
Session 8 – “Jesus-The Faithful Teacher Who Explains and Fulfills God’s Word”
Looking at this week’s text, I think about how Jesus gave us the “why behind the what”. I plan to take three contrasts mentioned in the body of the lesson material and use them to teach the three points:
Point #1 “Jesus fulfilled…” – Richard Dawkins’ view of God on (p.92) – versus the real picture of God in scripture and ask the “why” question behind his getting it wrong.
Point #2 “Jesus interpreted…” – The illustration of the boy technically obeying (by staying in bed), but playing with Legos instead of going to sleep (p.95) – versus the intent of the instructions. The connection must be made as to how the Law was meant for the good of the Hebrews; daily and in the long term (health, order, quality of life, and ultimately pointing to a Savior).
Point #3 “Jesus laid out…” – The Illustration of Disney World requiring a ticket (p.97) – versus not having one. The writer mentions on page 99 that by faith in Jesus, the righteousness of Christ is accounted to us. I think it’s important to bring out that God didn’t throw out the “ledger book” between the Old and New Testments; He is now able to mark a “credit” in the same book for us because of Jesus (Rom. 4:5, Gal. 3:6, James 2:23). The standard of the “ledger” was always the heart. When He says in verse 48 “Be perfect, therefore, as your Heavenly Father is perfect”, He had just finished speaking specifically about the heart. As followers of Christ it’s still about the heart and Christ in me; not my ability.
Session 7 – “Jesus-The Faithful Son Who Obey’s God’s Word”
I plan to teach this lesson from the perspective that Jesus came and accomplished His mission within the standards God had spelled out. In other words, the Law was not set aside in order to make a way for redemption, it’s requirements were met perfectly by Christ. God didn’t overlook or minimize sin, He dealt with it.
Question for opening discussion: In what specific ways do people attempt to be accepted by God?
Some thoughts to include along with the three lesson points.
Point #1 “God the Father affirms…” – Jesus was the first sinless person since Adam and Eve. Not only sinless, but unique. Just as God pronounced the unspoiled creation “good” and “very good”, He pronounced the goodness of Jesus as He came out of the water. It was a “starting over”. (Additional scripture: Romans 5:12-21)
Point #2 “Jesus obeys God…” – It’s important to note that Jesus was presented with the same type of enticement to want more, but where man failed, He succeeded.
Point #3 “Jesus’ obedience…” – The Law was still in play and Jesus did what man couldn’t do back then and still can’t do today. (Additional scripture: Matthew 5:17-18)
Session 6 – “Numb to the Word”
The quote from Oprah on page pages 71-72 seems to be a great set-up to use at the beginning of the lesson, rather than in the middle. It is what we see all around us in culture. Using it to put “self” center stage creates the opportunity to reference the leprosy word picture and discuss the two diseases we deal with:
- Numbness due to inherited sin from Adam (seperating us from God, causing our need for redemption)
- Numbness due to sins we commit through daily life choices (preventing fellowship with God)
The two are very different conditions. Understanding them, help us to communicate the gospel more clearly and equip listeners to ask the right diagnostic questions.
Preferred discussion questions:
Regarding inherited sin:
- Is it possible…(p.73)
- What are some signs…(p.74)
Regarding daily sins:
- In what ways does the church’s hypocrisy…(p.70)
- In what ways is sin…(p.72)
Session 5 – “God’s Law for Life”
A key thought is in the middle of page 61 of the Teacher’s Guide which says:
“David says in Psalm 51:4 “Against You-You alone -I have sinned and done this evil in Your sight”. David’s transgression of commandments 6-10 was rooted in his pride and violation of the first 4.”
I plan to expand on how our attitude regarding the first 4 (relationship with God) drive our actions regarding the last 6 (relationships with people). I plan to use the discussion questions on p.59 (about God’s intention behind the Law), p.62 (about belief versus practices) and an additional one connecting back to session 3, “How do modern seeds of doubt (evolution for example) affect us regarding the first 4?”
Finishing with two points:
- We’ve fallen short of the Law (Romans 3:23, James 2:10) and need His grace for hope of salvation (Even if there was only commandment 1, we would still fall short because of pride).
- As followers of Christ, we still need His daily help regarding the first 4 (which drives our actions towards others).
Session 4 – “In God We Trust?”
The word trust is THE key point in this lesson. Like a hinge connecting me to God’s truth, trust (or lack of it) determines how I react when challenged. Based on the three scriptures/points of the material, I plan to discuss these scenarios:
- The temptation to accept an incomplete or edited view of scripture
- The temptation to add additional thoughts or requirements to scripture
- The temptation to use scripture out of context
And explore these questions:
- How can the seed of doubt grow?
- How is questioning God different than taking questions to the scripture?
Session 3 – “God is Not Mute”
The II Timothy 3:16-17 text is great pivot point for this lesson. I plan to highlight the elements in verse 16 of the scripture’s benefits (teaching, rebuking, correcting and training), then by coupling it with the end results in verse 17 (complete and equipped) working into discussion of what it looks like. On point two, I plan to focus on the promises listed by David in the Psalm that come from embracing the perfect Word-renewal, wisdom, gladness and reward. On point three, Jesus giving an overarching narrative of Himself in scripture is a perfect model of natural conversational evangelism.
Session 2 – “God is not Hiding”
On initial study, the passage in Point 1 (Psalm 19:1-6) looks like a great set-up, but the Romans 1:20 passage is the key to the lesson. In addition to Point 2 (using Acts 14), tying in Acts 17 (Paul’s sermon in Athens) would also be most appropriate in discussing how to have a conversation about such matters.
The discussion question on p.24 is really good and very valuable as a pre-cursor for ending with the C.S. Lewis story on p.29.
Preferred closing question on p.29: “Why is it wrong to think that “experiencing God” in nature is enough?”
Session 1 – “The God Who Speaks”
The Helen Keller illustration is great. I plan to open with it and the question concerning our built-in need for communication. I’ll probably spend a sizable amount of time on text/point 1, briefly on text/point 2 and then finish with the idea that we are commissioned or “tasked” (as the lesson teaches in text/point 3). Closing with 3 specific questions for prayerful consideration:
- How has God blessed/affirmed me?
- How has God spoken to me?
- How has God commissioned me?