Vol. IV – (Summer 2013)
Session 13 – “The Trinity”
Because the previous 3 lessons (10-12) have so much life application in them; I purposely planned to start 13 with the last point of 12 to jumpstart the conversation and set-up a quick summary/review of the Holy Spirit. After that, I’ll put everyone into smaller discussion groups to work through a couple of questions. Here’s the way I’ve laid it out:
1. The Holy Spirit is a Person
2. The Holy Spirit is an equal part of the Godhead in every way
3. The Process (from the session 11 notes)
4. The Holy Spirit will complete God’s work in us (Eph. 1:13-14 & Phil. 1:6)
Since we are sealed:
- There is confidence in the present
- Hope for the future
- Purpose in each day
Discussion Question to begin – “Concerning the process, how do we measure progress?”
Break into discussion groups, with someone designated to lead the conversation in each one for the following:
One God – Deut. 6:4-5, Mark 12:28-31
Based on these passages, we are to:
- Love God
- Love Others
Discussion Question 1 – “What are some challenges to “Loving God” and “Loving Others”?”
Discussion Question 2 – “What are some solutions to the challenges we face concerning both of these?”
Each discussion group reports to the larger group about their conversation
For the week – Think and pray about what it means to be conformed to Christ’s image.
Session 12 – “God in Us”
When I was deployed overseas with the Army, one of the first things I experienced was a week’s worth of personal guidance on culture, language, and etiquette. I had no idea there was so much to learn! I see much of the same things in the points of this lesson. The Holy Spirit guides us from the very beginning about things we don’t understand.
I. The Holy Spirit begins God’s work in us (John 3:1-8)
A. He reveals the power of the Gospel
B. He convicts us of sin
C. He draws us to salvation
Discussion: “How does the truth that conviction is the work of the Holy Spirit influence the way we witness and pray?”
II. The Holy Spirit continues God’s work in us (Gal. 5:16-26, 1 Cor. 12:4-11)
A. Fruit of the Spirit
- To be selfless instead of self-focused
- To “bear fruit” instead of “working”
- To be connect to God’s work instead of separated from Him
B. Gifts of the Spirit
- For the body of believers
- For the world that needs Jesus
Discussion: “In daily life, how does “bearing fruit” differ from “working”?”
III. The Holy Spirit will complete God’s work in us (Eph. 1:13-14)
Since we are sealed:
A. There is confidence in the present
B. Hope for the future
C. Purpose in each day
Discussion: “Looking back over your faith journey, in what ways do you see progress?”
Something to consider this week: Think about the difference between “working” and “bearing fruit” as ones connected to the Vine (John 15:1-8).
Session 11 – “The Spirit’s Work”
Since the major thrust of this lesson is about the Holy Spirit’s work in and through us, I’m opening my time by drawing an illustration of a manufacturing process. I’ll draw a quick diagram and briefly walk through (asking for input along the way) the highlights of taking steel and making it into a knife. This gives a springboard to talk about process and usefulness.
I. The Holy Spirit Reveals (John 16: 8-11)
A. He convicts the world of the sin of unbelief
B. He convicts the world of missing the mark of righteousness
C. He convicts the world of following a defeated and judged leader
Discussion: “Based on these points, in what practical ways are we part of the Holy Spirit’s work?”
II. The Holy Spirit Purifies (1 Corinthians 6:9-11)
A. We have been washed (cleansed)
B. We have been sanctified (set apart for His service)
C. We have been justified (declared righteous)
Discussion: “Later in verse 20 of 1 Corinthians 6, Paul says we are bought at a price. That being true, how does concern for our “rights” cause trouble?”
III. The Holy Spirit Empowers (Acts 1:4-8)
Just as fulfilling the great commission is described in expanding global circles, so must our attitude be toward fulfilling it in expanding personal circles of life. As in:
A. Being a witness at home
B. Being a witness to friends and co-workers
C. Being a witness in the community around us (neighbors, stores, sports, etc.)
Discussion: “In what areas do we often need the Holy Spirit’s power compared to the weakness of our own?”
Something to think about this week: Consider how the “process” may be at work in you and how you could share about it in your “circles” of life.
Note: For lessons 10, 11, & 12 – There’s an illustration I used (and later posted) that you may find helpful to describe the value of spending a few moments each day letting the Holy Spirit prepare us. To read, click here.
Session 10 – “The Spirit’s Identity”
In the previous three lessons, we looked at the great foundational truths about Jesus’ life and redemptive work. With this lesson we turn our focus to the Person of the Holy Spirit, His wonderful ministry and supply of victorious power. Here’s how I’ve put the points together to guide the conversation.
I. The Holy Spirit is a Person (John 14:16-17)
A. Jesus promised He would come
B. He counsels with truth
C. He is personal and involved
Discussion: “Based on these points, what can we expect from the Holy Spirit’s voice and prompting?”
II. The Holy Spirit is God (2 Cor. 13:14) (v.13 in the HCSB)
A. He is an equal part of the Trinity
B. He dwells in us (1 Cor. 3:16-17)
Discussion: “Since He’s an equal part of the Trinity, what should our attitude toward Him (and His temple) be?”
III. The Holy Spirit Matters
A. The Holy Spirit frees us (Rom. 8:2)
B. The Holy Spirit guides us (John 16:13)
C. The Holy Spirit empowers us (Acts 2:37-38)
Discussion: “In the freedom He brings, for what purposes will the Holy Spirit guide and empower us?”
Something to consider this week: Since the Holy Spirit is active in our daily life, let’s prayerfully seek ways to rely more on His leading and less on the skills we’ve come to trust.
Session 9 – “Jesus’ Work”
I plan to start with discussing the idea (from the lesson) of “what we do” through doing a listing exercise. After setting up the idea, my question to spur conversation will be “Concerning the idea of what we do; what does it say about us?” Afterwards, I’ll look at the points broken into two major sections:
I. Jesus’ Work
A. In the New Testament (then, the roles had always been distinctly seperate)
- Prophet who revealed God (Acts 3:22-26)
- Priest who reconciled humanity (Hebrews 2:14-18, 10:10)
- King who established a new order (Hebrews 6:19-20, Genesis 14:18-20)
B. Now He is the
- Prophet still revealing God (Colossians 1:19-20, 2:9-10)
- Priest still interceding (Hebrews 4:14-16)
- King currently reigning & waiting (Revelation 19:11-16)
Discussion: “What do these 3 things that Jesus did and is still doing reveal about Him?”
II. Our Work
A. As Prophets revealing God’s truth through words and deeds (Matt. 5:13-16)
B. As Priests being the “go-betweens” (1 Peter 2: 5-9, 2 Corinthians 5:18-20)
C. As Kings sharing in His reign (Revelation 5:8-10)
Discussion: “Since our 3 God-given roles are extremely important, what does our level of seriousness concerning them say about us?”
Something to consider this week: In our roles as Prophets, Priests and Kings, think & pray about how they’re applied differently according to context; family, vocation, neighborhood, and church.
Session 8 – “Jesus’ Humanity”
I plan to go with a version of the opening illustration, but tweak it a bit. With two stick-figure people drawn on the dry-erase board, asking for/writing descriptions of humanity today (considering the world around us); second (as we consider the moment of Genesis 1:26-31), then contrasting the two. Here are the ways I’m presenting the 3 points:
I. Who says Jesus is a man? (1 John 1:1-4, add John 1:14)
- He got tired (John 4:6)
- He needed sleep (Mark 4:38)
- He knew thirst (John 19:28)
- He wept (John 11:35)
- He was mocked (Luke 7:34)
- He knew sorrow (Matt. 26:37)
Discussion: “What difference does it make that Jesus literally experienced the challenges of daily life?”
II. Who denies Jesus’ humanity? (1 John 4:1-3)
- Those who teach that He only appeared human or only partially experienced human life. (I’m choosing not to work through the various “ism” of heresies, but draw attention to the fact there has always been heretical teachings. I think the limited class time is best spent focusing on the bullets in point 3 by transitioning with the following question:
Discussion: “What difference does it make whether Jesus was fully human or not?”
III. Why does Jesus’ humanity matter?
If Christ was/is not human, then:
- He couldn’t be obedient in our place (Romans 5:18)
- He couldn’t be our Substitute Sacrifice (Hebrews 10:11-14)
- He couldn’t be our Mediator (1 Timothy 2:5)
- He couldn’t be Ruler over Creation (Matthew 28:18)
- He couldn’t be our Example and Pattern in life (2 Corinthians 3:18)
- He couldn’t be our High Priest (Hebrews 4:15-16)
Something to consider this week: Since Jesus really was/is human, and He led by example regarding daily life; prayerfully consider His instructions when dealing with people and circumstances (showing love, patience, etc.).
Session 7 – “Jesus’ Deity”
I like this lesson as written (including the intro of the Wizard of Oz) and I’ve added some discussion questions. As referenced on p.84 of the Teacher book, the classic C.S. Lewis discussions of “Is He a Liar, Lunatic or Lord?” is a great point and one I think will work good up front. It’s THE question to be answered.
I. Who says Jesus is God?
- Jesus Himself (John 8:56-59)
- Jesus’ Disciples (I think specifically pointing to Peter’s comment in Acts 2:36 is good)
- Later Apostles (Paul’s conversion/preaching/statement in Acts 9:20 along with the Col. 1:15-20)
- The Bible, God the Father, and the Holy Spirit (Isa. 9:6, Matt. 3:17 & 17:5, John 15:26)
Discussion: “What difference does it make that Jesus Himself claimed to be God versus just others claiming it?”
II. Who denies that Jesus is God?
- Liberal scholars (Bible not literally true)
- Cults & religions (like Jehovah’s Witnesses and Islam saying He was just a great teacher or prophet)
Discussion: “Why do you think these groups and others try to separate Jesus from actually being God?”
III. Why does Jesus’ deity matter?
Consider the question of “So what?” to each of the following statements.
If Christ is not divine, then:
- The scriptures are not true
- His sacrifice was not sufficient to save us from our sins
- All glory in the work of salvation is due to God alone
- He could not represent God to man and man to God as a mediator
- He could not reveal the image of the Father nor restore to us the image of God.
Something to consider this week: If Jesus really is God, how serious should I take His words and instructions?
Session 6 – “Holy, Holy, Holy”
The first 3 words of Psalm 99 shout the main point, “The LORD reigns!” Whether a person acknowledges it or not, He reigns. As a matter of fact, all will acknowledge that truth eventually (Revelation 20). Our mission is to simultaneously communicate that sobering reality, while explaining God’s offer of grace through Christ.
Instead of the opening illustration used by the author, I think a personal story describing when something was happening without my knowledge (then finding out after the fact) works better. For example:
You say to a friend, “Hey, I just got your message this morning; sorry my phone died yesterday afternoon. What’s up?”
Your friend says, “Yeah, I got free tickets to the game last night, but since I didn’t hear back from you I gave them to somebody else.”
Reality: Just because you didn’t know, didn’t stop the game from happening (or others from participating). The Psalm is encouraging people to get “on-board” with worshipping the King!
I. God is Holy (v.3 & 5)
- Celebrate! Our King is above everything!
- He alone defines righteousness
- His decrees are to be of primary importance in our mind
Discussion: “How can familiarity or routine hinder a true attitude of worship? How can one personally address that?”
II. God is Just (v.4)
- He will have the final word
- He will always do what is right
- His judgments are untainted
Discussion: “What are some ways our ideas of “fairness” cloud our ability to see God as the scripture describes Him?”
III. God is Jealous (Exodus 34:14)
- There is a difference between being jealous of someone and being jealous for someone
- God wants what’s best for us, not a lesser substitute
Discussion: “Since God doesn’t struggle with pride or self-esteem issues, why would He want us to be true in our devotion to Him?”
Something to pray about this week: Take a few moments to slowly pray through Psalm 99.
Something to do this week: Take note of your actions this week and see if you’re one who demonstrates God-defined righteousness (or rightness) in your dealing with those closest to you.
Session 5 – “Good God”
Different from the way the lesson is written, I’m using the core principle that “God is good” (lesson pt. 1) as the intro, then exploring sub-points within His goodness; His love, mercy, & saving.
Intro: God is Good (Psalm 106:1-12, 45)
What exactly is good? How do we know what’s good? Good can ultimately be traced back to God; James 1:17, Psalm 84:11 & Romans 8:28
I. In His goodness He loves (v. 1 & 7)
Bible translators vary on verses 1 & 7 concerning the rendering of the wording as “mercy” or “love”. The official Hebrew-English translation used by the Jewish community (The TANAKH) reads this way: v.1 “…His steadfast love is eternal.” v.7 “…did not remember Your abundant love.” The word love evokes a variety of thoughts. Within God’s nature it’s perfect. His love is:
- Everlasting-not just for a season
- Selfless-not dependent on reciprocity
- Pure-there is no ulterior motive
Discussion: “What are some ways God’s love contrasts our ways of showing love?”
II. In His goodness He shows mercy (v. 45)
- He doesn’t give us what we deserve
- Since he has full knowledge of our motives & mistakes, the scope of His mercy is huge
Discussion: “What are some ways we insult God through words and attitudes? In light of that, how should His treatment of us affect our dealings with others?”
III. In His goodness He saves (v. 8 & 10)
He often intervenes on our behalf in spite of our ways.
- Even when we don’t give Him proper credit
- Often in ways and methods that we wouldn’t have chosen
Discussion: “In what ways have you experienced God’s saving?”
Something to pray about this week: Take a few moments to inventory some ways that God has been good to you and give Him thanks.
Something to do this week: Look for an opportunity to show goodness (as God does) to someone who needs it.
Session 4 – “The Omni God”
I like the idea of considering these points with Psalm 139 and will use it (verses 1-12) for all three points. My goal in this lesson is to stay true to the powerful precepts, but discuss them in a way that’s applicable to daily struggles as a disciple of Christ (compared to just abstract concepts). Here’s my attempt at it:
I. God is All-knowing (Omniscient) (Psalm 139:1-6)
We can draw encouragement from the fact that God knows our unique circumstances and everything surrounding us.
- We can discuss personal details/hopes/disappointments with Him and receive guidance unique to us.
- We can take comfort in knowing He has made arrangements to facilitate what’s best specifically for us.
Discussion: “When clear direction or specific answers aren’t present, why do we struggle to simply rely on the truth of verses 1-6?”
II. God is All-present (Omnipresent) (Psalm 139:7-8)
We can draw confidence from the fact that God is everywhere life takes us.
- We’re never alone and aren’t asked to face life depending on our own sufficiency.
- We’re always within His realm of authority, regardless of whether those around us acknowledge it or not.
Discussion: “How does/should the reality of God being “ever-present” affect my approach to circumstances?”
III. God is All-powerful (Omnipotent) (Psalm 139:9-12)
We can be secure in knowing that God is involved and in control.
- We need not worry about what’s out of our control.
- We have been brought from darkness into light through God’s power and provision (1 Peter 2:9-10).
Discussion: “How do we reconcile this truth with the daily stream of negative news?”
Something to pray about this week: Pray this week for insight and discernment into how God is at work in/around you.
Something to do this week: Read (or reread) Psalm 139 in its entirety.
Session 3 – “Our Great God”
I like the idea of a starter discussion centered on the question of “What exactly is “great”?” As one who appreciates military history, the writer’s use of Alexander works for me, but I can see sports or other disciplines equally fitting. Concerning the lesson material, I plan to use the verses, but I’m arranging my notes to separate each passage to tie them to three distinct discussions. I’m changing the titles to words I would use in a real-life conversation, instead of “lesson type” language.
I. God is Timeless (1 Timothy 1:17)
“God’s eternality means he sees all time as equally vivid.” (p.38)
- To Him, events in the past aren’t dim and distant, nor things in the future still vague
- He alone is God
- The glory surrounding Him is also timeless (it didn’t start with our arrival on the scene)
Discussion: “Considering that God and His activity are timeless, how do you communicate to others where we fit into the picture?”
II. God is Trustworthy (Exodus 3:13-15)
- Time doesn’t diminish the strength of God’s promises (v.15)
- We should remember and highlight His faithfulness (v.15)
Discussion: “What does the biblical record (and personal experience) teach us about God’s timing and dependability?”
III. God is Unlimited (John 4:24)
- God is not bound to a location (context of woman’s comment in John 4:20)
- Any material representation of God is an insult
- Worship now is direct and personal (with no veil-Matt. 27:51)
Discussion: “When considering the broader conversation in John 4 (Jesus & the Samaritan woman), how does it help us accurately communicate the gospel message?
Something to pray about this week: Pray this week for a sense of God’s greatness.
Something to do this week: Spend some time in the Psalms reading and worshipping; making notes of particular phrases that speak to you.
Session 2 – “The God Who Is”
Questions concerning the existence and character of God are a natural part of spiritual inquiry. All spiritual conversations (given enough time) will eventually get to the question of God. There are three general questions to ask of ourselves as we start:
- What do I believe?
- Why do I believe it?
- How can I explain it?
I like the way the lesson is constructed and plan to use the points as written. I’ve added a few thoughts/questions.
I. Creation points to the existence of God (Psalm 8:3-8)
Called The Teleological Argument this is based on the observation that nature has such a refined level of design, sequencing, and beauty, that chance could not possibly be the author of such incredible things.
- Long before we had technology to see the expanse of space, David said, “The heavens declare the glory of God.” (Psalm 19:1)
- God said to Job that creation takes on form like “clay under a seal”. The earth is literally like a mark left from the signet ring of the maker (Job 38:14).
- William Paley in his book, Natural Theology tells the story of a man noticing two items in a field, a rock and a watch. The rock brought no special interest, just a naturally occurring thing, but the watch was different. It had obvious marks of a craftsman who shaped the metal pieces, polished the class bezel, and wound the spring. We can point to this magnificent creation as evidence of God, as opposed to random chance.
Discussion: “Since creation gives evidence of design and purpose, what does that mean for us?”
II. Scripture points to the nature of God (Gen. 1:1 & Ps. 14:1-3)
I plan to push the discussion of “The Moral Argument” to the next point and use this one to draw attention to 3 specific things scripture reveals about God:
- His authority (He created and defined)
- His involvement (He looked down to see)
- His consistency (we turned away, He stayed the same)
Discussion: “What over-arching themes do we see in scripture about God’s character and how should that affect our daily life?”
III. All humans have an inner sense that God exists (Rom. 1:21 & Ps. 10:3-4)
Called The Moral Argument this is based on the universal recognition of right & wrong in the world.
- Even when there is no concept of Judeo-Christian teaching, there are behavior codes. Even in remote places, there are rules against such things as murder & theft, why? It’s because a “conscience” is hardwired into people from being created in God’s image. What makes right “right”, and wrong “wrong”? Who defined that originally? God did.
- Paul used the Moral Argument in two separate passages of scripture, Rom. 1:18-21 and Acts 17:22-29. He successfully shows how nature points to God’s creative role, and man’s rebellion.
Additionally, your own personal story is a key part of the conversation. The technical phrase is called The Experience Argument and is based on your personal testimony.
- Description – I can describe my Dad because I know him. I can tell of his personality, preferences, and other details, because of a relationship with him. It’s the same with describing God. There are characteristics of Him beyond my ability to communicate, but that shouldn’t stop me from talking about what I know is true.
- Observation – In science, part of an experiment is the observation. Our life is “observable” and we should be mindful of what onlookers are observing. Over time, if our life proves consistent, then our credibility compels people to ask “How?” and “Why?”
The evidence for God is overwhelming. Just like Paul in Acts 17, we hear opinions of all kinds. Mankind has many beliefs contradicting scripture, but at the core, they’re feeble attempts to approach God on human terms. The Good News is that God reached down to us through Jesus and made a way for us to know Him.
Discussion: What is your main “take-away” today?
Something to pray about this week: Pray this week for clarity on the three questions; “What do I believe?” “Why do I believe it?” & “How can I explain it?”
Something to do this week: Write down some things you’ve observed in the natural world that reveals God’s nature to you.
Session 1 – “Knowing God”
John 17 is an incredible record of Jesus having a personal conversation with the Father. Verse 21 provides a natural 3-part picture of His desire for us today; together…in Him…making Him known. I’m choosing to use the whole chapter (prayer) and here is the way I see the points flowing for this lesson based on the text:
I. Together – Jesus & the Father (John 17:1-5)
- Jesus is to be specifically glorified (v.1)
- Authority has been given to Him by the Father (v.2, Matt. 28:18)
- Eternal life is exclusively through Jesus (v.3, John 14:6)
Discussion: “What are the potential differences between having a conversation with an unbeliever about God in general and one specifically including Jesus? Why?”
II. Together – Us with Jesus & the Father (John 17:6-19)
- A disciple genuinely knows the Master (Jesus) (v. 7-8)
- A disciple is kept by the Master (Jesus) (v.12 & 15)
- A disciple is set apart to the Master’s (Jesus’) heavenly standards (v.16-19)
Discussion: “How should these truths about a disciple influence the way I view priorities at home, work and play?”
III. Together – Us with Jesus & the Father, making Him known (John 17:20-26)
- We (believers today) are specifically prayed for (v.20)
- Jesus’ glory is to flow through us (v.21-23)
- Our lives in Christ should generate belief in others (v.23)
Discussion: “How can authenticity and transparency in our conversation with others point people to Jesus?”
Something to pray about this week: Pray this week for the ability to see Jesus’ character clearly and for guidance in making Him known to others.
Something to do this week: Write down some things God has revealed to you in recent weeks/months about His personality and consider sharing them with someone.