Skip to main content
All Posts By

David C Cook Editorial

July 21, 2024: Delightful Precepts (Psalm 119:73-80)

By Teacher Tips

To begin the session:

Distribute copies of the “Why Do People Break Traffic Laws?” exercise from the activity sheet, which you can download here. After completing the activity, bring the class together to discuss the prompts at the bottom of the exercise.

After the discussion, lead into Bible study by saying, “Obedience to laws rarely elicits great joy. But the psalmist experienced delight from his quest to learn God’s ways and obey them. Our study today encourages us to do the same.”

To encourage personal application:

Distribute copies of the “Delightful Precept” exercise from the activity page. Have learners complete it individually in a minute or less before discussing conclusions in pairs.

In the World–July 21, 2024

By "In the World"

Download “In the World” for July 21, 2024 here.

GAME RECOGNIZES GAME

When the NFL season begins this fall, two athletes with similar playing styles will take the field for the Denver Broncos. A few years ago, when defensive end Zach Allen was fairly new in the league and playing for the Arizona Cardinals, he became aware of a fellow defensive end with the New York Jets, one who played with a style much like his own. He reached out to John Franklin-Myers online, and the two became quick friends. “Basically, game recognize game,” Allen said, speaking of their similarities of play style and ethos. Over the years of communication, they talked about how amazing it would be to play for the same team—and this year, they’re getting their chance with the Broncos, who are looking to strengthen their defensive line.

FAITH RECOGNIZES FAITH

Today’s text from the longest chapter in the Bible says that those who fear the Lord will rejoice when they see how the psalmist has put his hope in God’s Word. People who walk in the fear of the Lord can sometimes recognize each other when they speak or spend time with one another. How good it is to walk beside those who love the Lord in the same way!

  1. When have you met someone and discovered that you felt the same way about something?
  2. What are your thoughts, if any, about the upcoming NFL season?
  3. How can you tell if you and another person are on the same page, spiritually?

Additional Resources

Any videos or web materials are for your personal use. If you play any media files in class, be sure to have the necessary rights to do so.

July 14, 2024: Continual Proclamation (Psalm 71:12-21)

By Teacher Tips

To begin the session:

Distribute copies of the “Biggest Sources of Stress” exercise from the activity page, which you can download here. Have learners complete it individually in a minute or less before discussing conclusions in pairs.

Transition into the next part of the lesson by saying, “Today’s Scripture text shows how one poet maintained hope in the face of adversity. Let’s see what that looks like.”

To encourage personal application:

Distribute copies of the “Continual Proclamation” exercise for individuals to complete. Optionally, you might offer this as a take-home activity, and remind students that they will have time to share in the next class if they desire.

After the activity, close class by reading Psalm 71:12-21 once more as a prayer to God. Allow time for one minute of silence for learners to add their private supplications before dismissing the class.

In the World–July 14, 2024

By "In the World"

Download “In the World” for July 14, 2024 here.

COOKING WITH THE NEXT GENERATION

Since the mid-twentieth century, lifestyles in the United States have changed. Geographical separation is a reality for many families. Loneliness is said to be at epidemic levels for young and old. Last year the Surgeon General of the US published an advisory on loneliness and isolation, citing its effects on mental and physical health. A particular organization has been in the news for its creative response. ONEGeneration is an intergenerational daycare in Van Nuys, California—care for the elderly and the young together. “For the seniors,” says one of its leaders, “even those living with dementia, it improves social skills, combats ageism, and gives them a sense of purpose, while the kids are able to learn empathy and patience.” Continuity of generations is just one by-product of collective activities: music, painting, cooking, and gardening. This narrows the gap created when multigenerational families stopped living under one roof.

PROCLAIMING TO THE NEXT GENERATION

In Psalm 71, the writer declares the wonders and marvelous deeds of God’s righteousness. He makes a commitment to declare God’s promises, even when he’s “old and gray,” and he will teach the next generation all that God has shown him.

  1. When have you had opportunity to praise God before others?
  2. What are some ways you can encourage other generations?
  3. What are some reasons that people don’t spend as much time with grandparents and great-grandparents as in the past?

Additional Resources

Any videos or web materials are for your personal use. If you play any media files in class, be sure to have the necessary rights to do so.

July 7, 2024: Ceaseless Love (Lamentations 3:16-24)

By Teacher Tips

To engage the learners in a study of the Scripture text:

Distribute copies of the “Hope and Despair” exercise from the activity page, which you can download here. Have learners complete as indicated.

To encourage personal application:

Distribute copies of the “This I Call to Mind” exercise from the activity page. Give learners a minute or less to complete as indicated before discussing with a partner.

Close class with a prayer, thanking God that we can lament to him and still be confident in his love and promises.

In the World–July 7, 2024

By "In the World"

Download “In the World” for July 7, 2024 here.

RECOVERING HOPE TO GRADUATE

When Lansing, MI, high school senior Aniyah Malone crossed the stage this month to receive her diploma, it was a come-from-behind victory. By her sophomore year, she’d fallen behind in her classes, and the chances of graduating with her peers were fading fast. “I’d lost all hope,” Malone said. But her mother didn’t waver: “I never doubted she would graduate,” she said. “It took a lot of blood, sweat and tears to get there but I knew she would.” Malone caught up through a credit recovery program that she could work on during off hours and weekends. “I even told my friends, if they did this, they could get to where I was,” she said. “They just needed to put in the work. . . . I feel like if I could do it, anyone could do it.”

RECOVERING HOPE IN GOD

In today’s text, we see the prophet Jeremiah go from an extreme low, in which his hope in God has been all but extinguished, to a place of recovered faith that gives us one of our most enduring expressions of hope in God’s faithfulness. To call to mind God’s compassions, even in the midst of heartbreaking sorrow, is an act of great spiritual maturity.

  1. When have you regained hope when it had been almost gone?
  2. What’s the lowest despair you’ve been in, and how might God have met you there?
  3. How have you seen God’s compassions renewed?

Additional Resources

Any videos or web materials are for your personal use. If you play any media files in class, be sure to have the necessary rights to do so.

June 30, 2024: Fearless Witness (Acts 26:1-11)

By Teacher Tips

To engage the learners in a study of the Scripture text:

If you wish to consider the entirety of Paul’s defense in Acts 26, distribute copies of the “A Defense and a Testimony” exercise from the activity page, which you can download here, to be completed in the same small groups. During or after presentations of conclusions in whole-class discussion, write the following questions on the board:

  1. How can a defense be a testimony?
  2. Why was Paul’s testimony more important to him than his defense?

Jot responses on the board as they are voiced.

To encourage personal application:

Distribute copies of the “My Key Takeaway” exercise from the activity page. Have learners complete it individually in a minute or less. Assure learners in advance that you will not put anyone on the spot to share with the entire class, nor will you collect the completed exercise.

After the minute is up, allow the opportunity for volunteers to share their takeaways.

In the World–June 30, 2024

By "In the World"

Download “In the World” for June 30, 2024 here.

THE HOPE OF A FAMILY

In October of last year, a young woman in India lost the race to save her life. This month’s issue of the scientific journal Nature recounts the story of Uditi Saraf of New Delhi, who suffered from a rare genetic mutation that caused the neurons in her brain to die. The disorder began to assert itself in her teens, producing seizures and dementia-like cognitive symptoms. She was diagnosed with FENIB, and the race began to find something that could halt or reverse the disease. The most promising approach involved gene editing with CRISPR technology, and her family had the resources to fund a team to study how to use it for Uditi. Meanwhile, her condition continued to decline, and she ultimately fell into a coma and died. The family, and even the researchers, were crushed by the news, but Uditi’s team made discoveries that will help other patients with rare genetic disorders.

THE HOPE OF THE FATHERS

Today’s text recounts Paul’s trial before King Agrippa on various accusations made by the religious leaders of Jerusalem. Paul argues that he’s guilty only of believing in the very thing his accusers claim they long to find: the hope of Israel and the fulfillment of the promises made to their ancestors. Agrippa would not be persuaded to accept Paul’s message, but Paul’s courageous witness carried the gospel message far and wide.

  1. What are your thoughts about medical techniques that seek to make revisions at the genetic level?
  2. When has hope sustained you in difficulty or crisis?
  3. How does hope in your future resurrection give you courage?

Additional Resources

Any videos or web materials are for your personal use.  If you play any media files in class, be sure to have the necessary rights to do so.

June 23, 2024: Full Assurance (Hebrews 6:9-20)

By Teacher Tips

To begin the session:

Distribute copies of the “Let’s Make a Deal” exercise from the activity page, which you can download here. Ask pairs to complete the exercise as indicated.

Lead into the lesson by saying, “People make deals, but God makes promises!” Note that some of his contractual promises include escape clauses (example: Jeremiah 39:18), and some do not (example: Ezekiel 17:18). And God’s covenantal promises are never unconscionable. God will not break his covenant with humanity, nor will he impose impossible conditions to meet.

Make a transition by saying, “Let’s see how the writer of Hebrews draws on these ideas.”

In the World–June 23, 2024

By "In the World"

Download “In the World” for June 23, 2024 here.

ANCHOR FOR THE SHOW

After more than forty years as the host of television game show Wheel of Fortune, Pat Sajak retired this month. Sajak (77), who began his career as a DJ and served in the army during Vietnam, went on to anchor Wheel of Fortune, taking over from original host Chuck Woolery in 1981. “I’ve always felt that the privilege [of hosting] came with a responsibility to keep this daily half hour a safe place for family fun,” Sajak said during his final episode. “No social issues, no politics, nothing embarrassing, I hope. Just a game. But gradually it became more than that: a place where kids learn their letters, where people from other countries hone their English skills, where families came together along with friends and neighbors and entire generations” Sajak will be replaced by Ryan Seacrest—and those letters will still be turned by long-time co-host Vanna White, for at least one more season.

ANCHOR FOR THE SOUL

In today’s text, the writer of Hebrews urges his readers to cling to God as the anchor for their souls. He stresses the unchangeable nature of God, the solid rock of their salvation. It is impossible for the Lord to shift or lie, and so the Christian’s hope is secure when it is affixed to these eternal truths.

  1. What’s your favorite game show?
  2. Is there a job that you think you could enjoy for four decades? Why or why not?
  3. Why is it important for us to have assurance that God will not change or lie?

Additional Resources

Any videos or web materials are for your personal use. If you play any media files in class, be sure to have the necessary rights to do so.

June 16, 2024: Empowered Servants (Romans 15:1-13)

By Teacher Tips

To encourage personal application:

Distribute copies of the “I Once Was Weak, but Now I’m Strong” exercise from the activity page, which you can download here. Have learners complete it individually in a minute or less as indicated before working with a partner to finalize.

After calling time, challenge learners to choose one way to “bear with the weak” throughout the week. Begin next week’s lesson by allowing learners time to share what happened.

As learners depart, distribute copies of the “Reasons to Serve, Foundations for Unity” crossword puzzle from the activity page. Close with prayer appropriate to today’s topic.

In the World–June 16, 2024

By "In the World"

Download “In the World” for June 16, 2024 here.

ACCEPTED BY ALL PARTIES

Earlier this month, Mexico elected its first woman president in its nearly 203-year history. Claudia Sheinbaum, who was also the first female mayor of Mexico City, received 59% of the total vote in a landslide victory. Her nearest rival candidate, also female, received 27% of the vote. This means that Ms. Sheinbaum received widespread support from across party lines. “This is something really historic,” said outgoing Mexican president Andrés Manuel López Obrador. “We are living through exceptional, extraordinary, glorious times.”

ACCEPTING BOTH GROUPS

Today’s text from Romans focuses on Paul’s appeal to the two groups within the church in Rome: Jewish Christians and Gentile Christians. These are not groups that had a history of getting along well together, but Paul urges them to accept one another just as freely as Christ accepted each of them. Jesus is the hope of the Gentiles, as prophesied in the Jewish Scriptures. Jesus is also the fulfillment of the law and prophets, the fulfillment of what was promised to the children of Abraham.

  1. Where have you seen opposing groups come together and make a common cause in recent years?
  2. What are examples of groups that should be held together by their mutual faith in Jesus?
  3. How can you personally accept a believer who is different from you?

Additional Resources

Any videos or web materials are for your personal use. If you play any media files in class, be sure to have the necessary rights to do so.

June 9, 2024: Bold Ministers (2 Corinthians 3:5-18)

By Teacher Tips

To begin the session:

Distribute copies of the “Two Paraphrases” exercise from the activity page, which you can download here. Allow no more than one minute for learners to complete as indicated. Use the second of the two paraphrases to lead into the lesson.

To encourage personal application:

Distribute copies of the “I’m Changing!” activity from the activity page. Have learners complete it individually in a minute or less before sharing with a partner.

Close with a time of silent prayer for transformational change.

In the World–June 9, 2024

By "In the World"

Download “In the World” for June 9, 2024 here.

GLORY NOT SURPASSED

The 2024 Summer Olympics are scheduled to begin next month in Paris. In attendance will be track-and-field great Usain Bolt—but only as an observer. Bolt set two world records in 2009, for the 100-meter and the 200-meter dash, and those records still stand. Five sprinters have run under ten seconds in the 100-meter race, this year alone. But Bolt’s record is 9.58 seconds. “I don’t think the world record will be under threat,” he says. “I think I still have a few more years to go.” So far, his athletic glory remains intact. “I do miss competition, especially when I watch it,” he says.

GLORY FAR SURPASSED

In today’s text, Paul contrasts the glory of the “ministry of condemnation” (the old covenant) with the ministry of righteousness (the new covenant). The glory of the new greatly surpasses the old, so much that it overwhelms their comparison. When the old covenant was given by God, Moses’ face shone so brightly that he wore a veil. How much more glorious is the eternal covenant of the Spirit that brings freedom? It will never fade.

  1. What’s an achievement that you have proudly attained? Or what is an achievement of someone you know?
  2. When have you seen something that made something else obsolete?
  3. How is the new covenant superior to the old?

Additional Resource

Any videos or web materials are for your personal use. If you play any media files in class, be sure to have the necessary rights to do so.

June 2, 2024: Glorious Riches (Colossians 1:24–2:3)

By Teacher Tips

To engage the learners in a study of the Scripture text:

Distribute copies of the “Paul’s Hope” exercise from the activity page, which you can download here. Allow learners to work individually for one minute before pairing up to complete the exercise.

In the same pairs, ask learners to use Bible concordances to look up information about mystery in the New Testament. Have them answer how mystery is applied to Jesus, what other concepts are referred to as mysteries, and how these concepts of mystery are similar to or different from mystery as it might be used in pop culture. When pairs are finished, ask them to share what they found most eye-opening or helpful from their research.

To encourage personal application:

Distribute copies of the “My Hope” exercise from the activity page. Have learners complete it individually in a minute or less before discussing conclusions with a partner. Option. Have learners complete the page at home during the week.

Conclude with prayer that the class will experience joy as they grow in Christ this week.

In the World–June 2, 2024

By "In the World"

Download “In the World” for June 2, 2024 here.

EXTRACTING THE RICHES OF HELIUM

For decades the US has been a world leader in exporting helium, supplying the growing demand for the gas. Helium is not only used to fill party balloons but also as a cooling component in MRI machines, nuclear reactors, and rockets. But US supplies—primarily near Amarillo, Texas, and Kansas—have been dwindling. Other exporters like Russia and Qatar have begun to outpace the US. But a discovery of a new deposit of helium in Minnesota may change all that. The size and concentration of the deposit have scientists calling it “a dream” find that is “perfect.” However, further research is required to determine if the helium can be extracted. That determination should come by the end of this year.

EXPLORING THE RICHES OF CHRIST

Today’s text shows Paul’s excitement to share with the Colossian believers the full extent of the glorious riches they have received through Christ. He describes the “mystery” of salvation, a mystery that was hidden for millennia but is now revealed to all who believe. Paul wants them to be encouraged and to grow in maturity in their faith.

  1. How might your life be affected if helium were no longer available?
  2. When have you discovered a powerful ability or resource?
  3. From your experience, what’s an example of the glorious spiritual riches of Christ?

Additional Resources

Any videos or web materials are for your personal use. If you play any media files in class, be sure to have the necessary rights to do so.

May 26, 2024: Who Has Believed? (Romans 10:1-17)

By Teacher Tips

To begin the session:

Distribute copies of the “Zeal Without Knowledge” exercise from the activity page, which you can download here. Have learners work in pairs to complete as indicated. Say, “Paul wrote to the Romans about the importance of understanding what Jesus has done for us—and of sharing that knowledge.”

To encourage personal application:

Distribute copies of the “Who Has Believed?” exercise from the activity page. Have learners complete it individually in a minute or less before sharing their answers with a partner.

After the activity, lead the class in a closing prayer that learners will be attentive to the Spirit’s leading this week as they find opportunities to grow in their belief in and preaching of the gospel in both word and deed.

In the World–May 26, 2024

By "In the World"

Download “In the World” for May 26, 2024 here.

UNITED BY STUDENT HOUSING

Students at the University of Buffalo are being entertained these days by two roommates from the school. The students, strangers until both responded to an ad about a room for rent, quickly became best friends. One is from China and the other is from Algeria. Jorge Zhang, known as “the Chinese roommate” in their videos, and Mohamed Ali Larbi Daho Bachi, known as “the Algerian roommate,” post Snapchat updates about their lives and travels together. “I personally eat it up,” says psychology major Laiba Qader. “You see all this stuff happening [in Israel and Ukraine] and here’s someone from China with their Algerian roommate, taking them to Wendy’s.” Economics major Yugendran T Kannu Sivakumaran agrees. “They make my day. With all the arguments online, they are a pair of friends that show the world ain’t so” messed up.

UNITED BY SALVATION

As Paul continues developing his argument in Romans, he says that the ethnic divide between Jew and Gentile no longer matters, in light of the new covenant. The word of salvation is near to anyone who calls upon the name of Jesus, regardless of race, ethnicity, or any other difference. For everyone in Christ, the word of God is near and available—not remote and unobtainable.

  1. What restores your hope that humans can build bridges across their many self-imposed divides?
  2. How do you reconcile Paul’s assertion that the word of salvation is near to everyone, even though no one can call upon the name of the Lord without hearing it?
  3. What ways do we share this message of Christ’s lordship? Are there ways without words?

Additional Resources

Any videos or web materials are for your personal use. If you play any media files in class, be sure to have the necessary rights to do so.

May 19, 2024: Reconciled to God (Romans 5:1-11)

By Teacher Tips

To begin the session:

Distribute copies of the “Vocabulary Quiz” exercise from the activity page, which you can download here. Have learners work in pairs to complete the exercise as indicated. When pairs have finished discussing, give the class an opportunity to share their responses.

After the activity, say, “Reconciliation between God and us required his action on our behalf. Today’s lesson will explore what our reconciliation required and what it means for us.”

To encourage personal application:

Distribute copies of the “Not Only So!” exercise from the activity page to be worked on individually and completed at home. Inform learners that you will allow time for volunteers to share at the beginning of next week’s class.

After the activity, pray for learners to experience the peace of reconciliation with God in the week to come.

In the World–May 19, 2024

By "In the World"

Download “In the World” for May 19, 2024 here.

NOT ONLY FUSION, CLEAN ENERGY

Thanks to a successful experiment last month in a lab in South Korea, science has moved closer to the dream of a stable fusion reaction. “Fusion technology,” explains an article on TheCoolDown.com, “mimics the process that powers stars. It holds the key to unlimited, zero-carbon electricity, making it a vital part of our transition to clean energy.” In the experiment at the KSTAR facility in Daejeon, plasma was heated inside a special chamber to nearly seven times hotter than the surface of the sun, and it maintained that temperature in a stable state for 48 seconds. That doesn’t sound like very long, but it’s an improvement of 160% over the previous record. Their hope is to maintain plasma containment for 300 seconds by 2026. Nearly unlimited “free” energy with no pollution is the ultimate goal for the technology.

NOT ONLY RECONCILED, SAVED

In today’s text from Romans, Paul continues his argument. In the previous chapter, he explained that salvation comes through faith, not works of the law, like circumcision. Here, Paul goes on to encourage readers that the reconciliation they have with God—through faith in Christ—not only justifies us in the present, but also in the future. Because of the life of Christ, we will be saved from God’s wrath. Those with faith in Jesus have nothing to fear from God.

  1. What sources of energy do you think humanity should retain, eliminate, or develop?
  2. This Sunday is Pentecost. What is your favorite aspect of this day?
  3. How does it impact your life to know that you have nothing to fear?

Additional Resources

Any videos or web materials are for your personal use. If you play any media files in class, be sure to have the necessary rights to do so.

May 12, 2024: Counted as Righteous (Romans 4:13-25)

By Teacher Tips

To begin the session:

Distribute copies of the “Promises” exercise from the activity page, which you can download here. Have learners complete it individually in a minute or less before discussing responses in small groups. Not all prompts need answers if learners run out of time.

To encourage personal application:

Distribute copies of the “A 90-Year-Old Bucket List” exercise from the activity page. Have learners complete it individually in a minute or less before discussing the conclusion in small groups.

In the World–May 12, 2024

By "In the World"

Download “In the World” for May 12, 2024 here.

UNWAVERING COMMITMENT TO TAIWAN

In a visit to Taipei last month, American politicians pledged to continue their firm support of Taiwan against aggression from China. “The United States will not waver in our commitment to defend freedom and uphold the principles of democracy,” U.S. Representative Lisa McClain said at a news conference. The American government demonstrated this commitment tangibly the next day by passing a $95 billion aid package to support Ukraine and Israel, with $8.1 billion earmarked for Taiwan and key allies in the region. “Let no one doubt our support,” U.S. Representative Mark Alford told the press conference, “for your people and our bright future together.”

UNWAVERING COMMITMENT TO GOD

In today’s passage, Paul praises Abraham’s unwavering commitment to God’s promise. Though the promise that Abraham and Sarah received was a challenge for them to accept (both were thought to be well beyond child-rearing age), Abraham did not waver. He strengthened his belief, and God credited this to him as righteousness. In this way, Abraham was the father of all who believe in the Lord.

  1. What do you think should be the Christian’s role in mediating international conflicts?
  2. When have you shown unwavering support in someone, even amidst uncertainty?
  3. What’s a crisis of faith that reaffirmed your belief in the Lord?

Additional Resources

Any videos or web materials are for your personal use. If you play any media files in class, be sure to have the necessary rights to do so.

May 5, 2024: Justified by Faith (Romans 3:21-30)

By Teacher Tips

To engage the learners in a study of the Scripture text:

Distribute index cards as well as copies of the “Coming Up Short” exercise from the activity page, which you can download here. Give learners a minute to work individually, then as a group, complete as indicated.

Distribute copies of the “God of All” exercise from the activity page. Give pairs of learners time to complete and discuss the activity as indicated.

In the World–May 5, 2024

By "In the World"

Download “In the World” for May 5, 2024 here.

GENDER INCLUSIVITY IN COMPETITIVE SPORTS

A major study published last month in the Journal of Sports Sciences found that the majority (58%) of female athletes support the idea that participants should be categorized by biological sex, rather than gender identity. The study is the largest of its kind, and it reports the opinions of 175 national, elite, and world-class female athletes from a range of sports and countries, including 22 Olympians. Respondents were largely (81%) in favor of more inclusivity for transgender athletes in general. However, women athletes in contact or strength-based sports tended to believe (77%) that participants should be segregated by gender assigned at birth. Opinions differed when less was at stake or when the athletes were past their peak competitiveness (those athletes tended to be more tolerant of inclusion). This was a large, peer-reviewed, statistical survey of opinions. Governing bodies are expected to refer to it when establishing rules and procedures.

EQUAL BEFORE GOD

In today’s passage, Paul says that, when it comes to our standing before God, all humans are in the same position of having fallen short of God’s standard. Being Jewish or Gentile makes no difference in this calculation. All people have sinned and need God’s forgiveness, but everyone has also been offered the opportunity to be justified through faith in Christ Jesus.

  1. How can or should Christ’s command to love our neighbor be applied to the issue of gender identity?
  2. What are some sports or other activities where a gross mismatch of strength or ability is a problem?
  3. How can we remember that our salvation depends on God’s mercy, not our position or personal qualifications?

Additional Resources

Any videos or web materials are for your personal use. If you play any media files in class, be sure to have the necessary rights to do so.

April 28, 2024: Faith of a Canaanite (Matthew 15:21-28)

By Teacher Tips

To engage the learners in a study of the Scripture text:

Distribute copies of the “Consider the Background” exercise from the activity page, which you can download here. Have learners work in pairs to complete as indicated.

Distribute copies of the “Challenging Her Faith” exercise from the activity page. Have learners work in pairs to complete as indicated.

In the World–April 28, 2024

By "In the World"

Download “In the World” for April 28, 202 here.

UNWILLING TO SUBMIT A REPORT

Of the nearly eight million cyberattacks committed against UK firms and charities in 2023, less than half were reported to government authorities, according to one study this month. Nicholas Ryder, professor of law at Cardiff University, said that organizations tend to hesitate to report such incidents because there are government fines for having poor cyber security. Such a report also risks the reputation of the business or charity, which might be seen as unsecure. Experts say that failure to report these attacks—or worse yet, not working to adequately shore up their computer defenses after one—makes these organizations vulnerable to more serious attacks in the future.

WILLING TO SUBMIT TO THE LORD

Today’s discussion is about a Canaanite mother who came to Jesus on behalf of her daughter, who was demon-possessed. This episode can be puzzling: Jesus seems to initially refuse a request from someone in need. That is not what we expect him to do. But Jesus prompts the woman to express profound faith in him. She showed a willingness to endure insults to save her daughter, and her submission to God’s will displayed “great faith” (v. 28), the kind of response Jesus was hoping to find.

  1. What’s something you struggle to admit because it is too embarrassing?
  2. When have you been so desperate for something that you would pay any price to bring it to pass?
  3. How has God worked in your life to increase your faith?

Additional Resources

Any videos or web materials are for your personal use. If you play any media files in class, be sure to have the necessary rights to do so.

April 21, 2024: Faith of an Anointer (Luke 7:36-39, 44-50)

By Teacher Tips

To engage the learners in a study of the Scripture text:

Distribute copies of the “An Encounter with Jesus” exercise from the activity page, which you can download here. Have groups work together to complete as indicated.

To encourage personal application:

Distribute copies of the “Scripture Story, Contemporary Attitudes” exercise from the activity page. Have learners complete it individually in a minute or less before discussing conclusions with a partner.

After the activity, call the class together and urge as many as possible to share their reactions and conclusions after comparing the characters in today’s story with their own life experiences.

In the World–April 21, 2024

By "In the World"

Download “In the World” for April 21, 2024 here.

DESPERATE TO PROVE A DEATH

Unfortunately, insurance fraud is common to many parts of the world. For instance, the country of South Africa is battling an epidemic of fake life insurance claims. When a person reports a non-existent death, that person might be able to collect lucrative benefits from an insurance company. Extended family members might try to claim a relative’s death ahead of time, hoping to maintain their family’s standard of living. Other times, criminals use sophisticated trickery, acquiring unidentified remains from mortuaries and passing these bodies off as “proof of death” to collect a payout. Insurance companies have to fight these crimes, with so much money on the line.

DESPERATE TO SHOW HER DEVOTION

In first-century Israel, meals were usually taken with diners reclining on pillows with their feet extending away from the table. In today’s passage, a woman with a checkered past approaches Jesus’ feet and begins to weep, either in sorrow over her sin or gratitude for the Lord’s forgiveness. Her tears drop onto his feet, and she wipes them with her hair and pours perfume on them. Her desperation to show her devotion is as extreme as the men who tore through the roof to lower a paralyzed friend to Jesus (see Luke 5:18–27).

  1. When have you been desperate to prove something? How did it turn out?
  2. In Jesus’ Jewish culture, how scandalous do you think it was it for this woman to do what she did?
  3. What can we do when our hearts are overflowing with love for Jesus?

Additional Resources

Any videos or web materials are for your personal use. If you play any media files in class, be sure to have the necessary rights to do so.

April 14, 2024: Faith of a Centurion (Luke 7:1-10)

By Teacher Tips

To engage the learners in a study of the Scripture text:

Distribute copies of “The Centurion, the Servant, and the Savior” exercise from the activity page, which you can download here. Have learners work in small groups to complete as indicated.

To encourage personal application:

Distribute copies of the “Jumbled Words, Clear Messages” activity from the activity page. Have learners work with a partner to complete as indicated. If time allows, have pairs present their findings to the whole group. Conclude class with a time of prayer, thanking God for the truths stated in the unscrambled messages and asking God for the courage to share those truths with someone in the upcoming week.

In the World–April 14, 2024

By "In the World"

Download “In the World” for April 14, 2024 here.

GREAT HONOR TO A PLAYER

The Philadelphia 76ers honored Allen Iverson this week by unveiling a statue of the basketball great outside the team’s arena. Iverson led the Sixers to the NBA finals in 2001 and had a long, stellar career. The Legends Walk features a series of sculptures honoring former Philadelphia players such as Charles Barkley, Wilt Chamberlain, and Moses Malone. “Allen Iverson is one of the greatest 76ers to ever live and one of the most iconic players in the history of the NBA,” said Sixers co-owners Josh Harris and David Blitzer in a statement. “We’re thrilled to honor his accomplishments with a well-deserved sculpture on Legends Walk.”

GREAT HONOR TO THE LORD

The centurion mentioned in today’s passage must have been remarkable, for when he sent word asking for Jesus to heal his servant, the Jewish leaders of Capernaum vouched for the Roman soldier. They even said that he deserved to have Jesus go help him. But the centurion didn’t hold such a high view of himself. He instead sent a message, telling Jesus that he didn’t deserve to have him enter his home. His faith was so great that he knew Jesus could heal his servant from anywhere, with just a spoken command.

  1. Whom do you know who deserves to have a statue put up in his or her honor?
  2. What might be a modern equivalent of the Jewish leaders praising this Roman centurion?
  3. How was the centurion’s faith greater than any person Jesus had encountered in all of Israel?

Additional Resources

Any videos or web materials are for your personal use. If you play any media files in class, be sure to have the necessary rights to do so.

April 7, 2024: Faith of the Persistent (Luke 5:17-26)

By Teacher Tips

To engage the learners in a study of the Scripture text:

Distribute copies of the “God’s Definition of a Friend” exercise from the activity page, which you can download here. Have the learners work in pairs to complete and discuss the activity page as indicated.

To encourage personal application:

Distribute copies of the “Remarkable Friendship” activity from the activity page. Have learners complete it as a take-home activity. To encourage completion, tell the class that you will set aside some time at the beginning of the next class to review the activity and its results.

In the World–April 7, 2024

By "In the World"

Download “In the World” for April 7, 2024 here.

POLICE CAMERAS INTRODUCED TO SCHOOL BUSES

Last month the Greece Central School District in New York became the latest in the region to install cameras on their buses’ “stop arms.” These cameras record the license plates of any cars that pass a stopped school bus. Fines begin at $250 for first offenses and increase for second and third violations. In other districts in the same county, cameras have recorded well over a thousand violations just since October. “Never in my wildest dreams did I think in just a few months, we’d see more than a thousand times someone’s child was in danger getting on and off the school bus,” said county executive Adam Bello. I think we can all agree that’s unacceptable. 

A PARALYZED FRIEND INTRODUCED TO JESUS

Today’s passage tells of the men who lowered their paralyzed friend through the roof of a house to get him to Jesus. Their faith was great, and so was their urgency. In an act of reckless determination, they found a way to bring their friend to the only one who could heal him. We have no record of there being any faith exhibited by the man on the pallet, but Jesus saw the faith of his friends, and rewarded their belief. 

  1. What do you think is the most effective way to increase the safety of children who ride school buses?
  2. When have you been desperate and determined to make something happen for someone else?
  3. Who do you know who needs to be introduced to Jesus?

Additional Resources

Any videos or web materials are for your personal use. If you play any media files in class, be sure to have the necessary rights to do so.

March 31, 2024: The Resurrection: Key to Faith (Mark 16:1-8)

By Teacher Tips

To engage the learners in a study of the Scripture text:

Distribute copies of the “Rest of the Story” exercise from the activity page, which you can download here. Have learners work in pairs to complete as indicated before sharing conclusions with the whole class.

To encourage personal application:

Distribute copies of the “Notes for a Letter” activity from the activity page. Have learners work in pairs to complete as indicated.

In the World–March 31, 2024

By "In the World"

Download “In the World” for March 31, 2024 here.

MARS SAMPLE RETURN HINGES ON BUDGET

Since 2021, the Mars rover called Perseverance has been exploring an ancient river delta on the red planet’s surface. At scientifically strategic spots, the rover has been extracting and preserving samples from the rocks it encounters. From the mission’s outset, the plan has been to return those samples to earth, where full-size labs of today and powerful tools not yet invented can examine their composition; and possibly conclude that Mars once had microbial or other forms of life. But the missions to bring the samples back are in jeopardy due to budget cuts to NASA this month. Everything pivots on there being the money—and the international will—to make the sample return missions happen.

THE CHRISTIAN FAITH HINGES ON THE RESURRECTION

All of Christianity pivots on Jesus’ resurrection from the dead. As Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 15:16–17, if Christ has not been raised, then every believer’s faith is worthless, and we all remain in our sins. Today’s passage from Mark gives a reliable eyewitness account of the event that our faith hinges upon and that we celebrate this Easter Sunday.

  1. What’s the most exciting space-related event you’ve heard of?
  2. When has something important in your life hinged upon one thing happening?
  3. What is your favorite way to celebrate Easter?

Additional Resources

Any videos or web materials are for your personal use. If you play any media files in class, be sure to have the necessary rights to do so.

March 24, 2024: Living in Faith (Acts 6:7-15)

By Teacher Tips

To begin the session:

Distribute copies of the “Worst-Case Scenario” exercise from the activity page, which you can download here. Have learners work in groups of three to complete as indicated.

Lead into the lesson by saying, “There may be times when we face a situation that seems unjust or unfair. Our response reveals the nature of our faith in the Lord. Consider Stephen’s response to accusations and how you might have responded.”

To encourage personal application:

Distribute the “Responses and Reactions” activity from the activity page. Have learners complete it individually in a minute or less before discussing conclusions in small groups.

In the World–March 24, 2024

By "In the World"

Download “In the World” for March 24, 2024 here.

RECEIVE LEARNING FROM THE HIVE

Scientists studying bumblebees have discovered that individual bees can solve complex puzzles through social interaction with their peers. In a recent issue of Nature, lead researcher Dr. Alice Bridges reported that a complicated two-step puzzle task, in which the bee had to perform two actions to gain access to a sugar solution, could be taught by “demonstrator” bees who knew how to do it. But bees without training could not figure out how to break the code. “This is an extremely difficult task for bees,” said Bridges, that “opens exciting possibilities” for further study. Lars Chittka, another scientist who reviewed the findings, said that it “challenges the traditional view that only humans can socially learn complex behavior” from peers.

RECEIVE WISDOM FROM THE SPIRIT

In today’s passage, Stephen, a deacon in the newborn church in Jerusalem, found himself debating with learned Jewish scholars who revered the temple. None of his opponents could refute—or even stand up against—the wisdom given to Stephen by the Holy Spirit. This infuriated them, much as it had done when they had debated Jesus. So they hatched a similar plan to get rid of him.

  1. What’s an example of insects or animals learning something that was not instinctual (for instance, kittens learning to use the litter box or crows crafting twigs as tools)?
  2. When have you been given instruction or guidance from the Holy Spirit?
  3. Why do you think the Jewish religious leaders didn’t take Stephen to Pilate with their false accusations?

Additional Resources

Any videos or web materials are for your personal use. If you play any media files in class, be sure to have the necessary rights to do so.

March 17, 2024: Defending Our Faith (1 Peter 3:8-17)

By Teacher Tips

To engage the learners in a study of the Scripture text:

Distribute copies of the “To Do and Not to Do” exercise from the activity page, which you can download here. Have learners work in pairs to complete as indicated before coming together as a whole class to discuss.

To encourage personal application:

Distribute copies of the “With Gentleness and Respect” exercise from the activity page. Allow learners one minute to complete as indicated before pairing up to give their answers.

In the World–March 17, 2024

By "In the World"

Download “In the World” for March 17, 2024 here.

REFUSE TO BE UNFORGIVING

Last month, a wrestling student at Campbellsville University in Kentucky allegedly strangled his teammate, Josiah Kilman. A week later, Kilman’s father spoke to the student body at an emotional chapel service. He urged the students to forgive the accused killer. “Forgiveness is a choice,” he said. “If Josiah was standing here right now, he would talk to you about forgiveness. It’s the center of what Jesus is. Unforgiveness? That’s a curse. It comes with things you don’t want, things you don’t need. From the life of Josiah, I challenge you to choose forgiveness because in that, we become the light of Jesus.”

REFUSE TO TAKE REVENGE

Today’s passage contains Peter’s plea to his readers not to take revenge or to repay evil with evil. He advocates living in ways that are above reproach, for that is likely to cause them to be on the receiving end of fewer acts of malice. Suffering may still come, Peter says, even if we’re doing good. But suffering will surely find us when we choose to take our own revenge.

  1. When have you been moved by someone’s tragedy? What did you want to do in response?
  2. How do you imagine that a grieving father might be able to call for forgiveness so soon after his son’s death?
  3. If you have ever suffered for doing right, how did it feel?

Additional Resources

Any videos or web materials are for your personal use. If you play any media files in class, be sure to have the necessary rights to do so.

March 10, 2024: Testing Our Faith (2 Corinthians 13:5-11)

By Teacher Tips

To engage the learners in a study of the Scripture text:

Distribute copies of the “Fruit of the Spirit Test” exercise from the activity page, which you can download here. Have learners complete it individually in a minute or less before discussing conclusions in pairs.

Next, distribute copies of the “My Prayer for You” activity from the activity page. Have learners complete it individually in one minute or less.

In the World–March 10, 2024

By "In the World"

Download “In the World” for March 10, 2024 here.

ONBOARD LASER DIAGNOSTIC CHECK

Last month, for the first time, a privately owned company (as opposed to a government-funded agency) successfully landed a spacecraft on the moon. The unmanned lander, Odysseus, built and operated by Intuitive Machines, made a soft landing on the lunar surface, but it was almost a disaster. The flight operators who were working on a separate issue decided to check the craft’s distance from the moon the night before the scheduled landing. When they tried to fire the laser rangefinders on board, nothing happened. These lasers were critical to help the craft land safely. Normally, the team wouldn’t have discovered this internal failure until they were already committed to landing, but thanks to this unrelated problem, they had an early warning. They delayed the landing long enough for engineers to come up with a brilliant solution, which they programmed and uploaded to the lander. And it worked.

INTERNAL SPIRITUAL DIAGNOSTIC CHECK

In today’s passage, Paul is warning the Christians in Corinth that he is about to visit them for a third time, and he’s concerned that this will be their third strike. They have worked to correct their previous acceptance of someone’s egregious sin, but he wonders if they’ve really put aside sexual immorality (see 2 Cor. 12:20–21). He asks them to do an internal check to be sure they’re reflecting Christ in their actions.

  1. What is your reaction to sending spacecraft—eventually, humans—back to the moon?
  2. When was a time that you wondered whether a machine or your health was working as it should?
  3. How can we examine ourselves to see if we are faithful in our behavior?

Additional Resources

Any videos or web materials are for your personal use. If you play any media files in class, be sure to have the necessary rights to do so.

March 3, 2024: Sustaining Our Faith (Jude 17-25)

By Teacher Tips

To begin the session:

Distribute copies of the “Dear Friends” exercise from the activity page, which you can download here. Ask learners to pair up to finish as indicated. After about 10 minutes, bring the class back together to discuss their findings.

Lead into the lesson by saying, “It is good to be able to recognize when a good leader has our best interests at heart. Jude’s words in our lesson today encourage us to remember what we know of God and to remain true to him.”

To encourage personal application:

Distribute the “Build Yourselves Up” exercise from the activity page to facilitate creating a plan for implementing Jude 20-21. Pray for the learners as you wrap up class time.

In the World–March 3, 2024

By "In the World"

Download “In the World” for March 3, 2024 here.

RETAINING ALLIES BY STRENGTHENING SECURITY

In February, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida announced intentions to speed up new measures designed to remedy serious security breaches. The US discovered the cybersecurity breach in 2020, when it saw that information it had shared with Japan was being leaked to China. Japan was informed of the problem as a matter of highest urgency but has since moved slowly on it, doing—in the words of one US official—“too little, too late.” Making policy changes to communications protocols has wide-ranging legal impacts on Japanese law, creating resistance to change. But Japan risks losing the trust of its allies, as things stand. One Japanese official said that other nations “are not going to be comfortable sharing sensitive data with Japan if they think it is going to be compromised.”

REMAINING IN GOD’S LOVE AS OTHERS FALL AWAY

Jude wrote to warn Christians that scoffers would come who would divide the church and cause some to fall away from the faith. But he urged his readers to strengthen their faith, keeping themselves in the love of God and praying to the Holy Spirit to stay the course.

  1. When have you recently come to someone with a matter of urgency? Did they react quickly?
  2. How can scoffers bring division to a church body?
  3. In what ways can we strengthen our faith, even as others may fall away?

Additional Resources

Any videos or web materials are for your personal use. If you play any media files in class, be sure to have the necessary rights to do so.

February 25, 2024: Faith in God’s Purpose (Habakkuk 2:1-5)

By Teacher Tips

To encourage personal application:

Distribute copies of the “Praying, but Still Suffering” exercise from the activity page, which you can download here. Have learners work in pairs to complete as indicated.

Next, distribute copies of the “Personal Prayer from One Who Waits” exercise from the activity page. Have learners complete it individually in a minute or less. Give them one minute to jot down thoughts under each of the two headings.

In the World–February 25, 2024

By "In the World"

Download “In the World” for February 25, 2024 here.

HER FLIGHT WILL BE ON TIME

Super Bowl LVIII is ancient history now, but one fan made an epic ’round-the-world trek to get to the game in time for kickoff. Music superstar Taylor Swift is dating Kansas City Chiefs’ tight end Travis Kelce, and she wanted to be in her seat to watch her boyfriend play for the Lombardi Trophy. The problem was that she was doing four shows in Tokyo. After her final show, she rushed to the airport to begin the twelve-hour, fifty-seven-hundred-mile journey across nine time zones and the international date line. At some point over the Pacific, the pilots received word that all the private aircraft parking lots at the airport in the destination city (Las Vegas) were full. Swift’s plane landed in Los Angeles, and then she and her friends had to drive the final five-hour stretch to Allegiant Stadium in Vegas. She did make it to the game on time, and her boyfriend’s team did take home the trophy.

HIS PROMISE WILL BE ON TIME

Sometimes we notice the discrepancy between the things God has promised to do in the world and the actual condition of the world, and we can begin to wonder if the Lord has forgotten or is slow about keeping his promises. In today’s Scripture passage, the prophet Habakkuk received an assurance from God that, though the promised deliverance for his people seemed to be delayed, it would certainly come in its fullness and at the proper time.

  1. What’s the longest or most difficult journey you’ve ever made?
  2. When has God made a promise to you, one that seemed to take a long time to materialize?
  3. How can we patiently wait upon the Lord’s timing?

Additional Resources

Any videos or web materials are for your personal use. If you play any media files in class, be sure to have the necessary rights to do so.

February 18, 2024: Faith in Times of Trouble (Daniel 6:10-11, 14, 16, 19-23, 26-27)

By Teacher Tips

To begin the session:

Distribute copies of “My Daily Habits” exercise from the activity page, which you can download here. Have individuals complete it as indicated.

After the activity, lead into the Bible study by saying, “Today we’ll look at a story about a faithful follower of God who would not renege on his convictions or his faithful habits, even though this refusal threatened his very life.”

To encourage personal application:

Distribute copies of the “Daniel’s Example and New Testament Teaching” activity from the activity page. Have learners work in groups to discuss.

In the World–February 18, 2024

By "In the World"

Download “In the World” for February 18, 2024 here.

WORSHIPING GOD DESPITE CHINESE PERSECUTION

At the end of last month, about one hundred and fifty police officers descended upon the church service of a group of Protestant Christians in northeastern China. Some two hundred of the people were arrested and put on buses, and their fate is unknown as of this writing. The church is affiliated with the SOLA Network, which is working to spread the good news of Jesus Christ through both local churches and digital media platforms. The church’s beliefs were not sanctioned by the Chinese state, and it comes at a time of increased persecution, when the government under Xi Jinping has been cracking down on Christians. Locals became suspicious after noticing a strange car parked outside the gathering place the night before. But everyone was surprised at the number of officers who were sent. “Even when they arrest criminals, we have never seen so many police officers,” one witness said.

WORSHIPING GOD DESPITE BABYLONIAN PERSECUTION

The prophet Daniel, though a captive and a slave, was known for worshiping the God of the Jews. His enemies sought to use this fact to remove him from his favored position in the court of King Darius. They tricked Darius into passing a law whose aim was to make Daniel’s worship a criminal offense punishable by death. But even knowing this edict, Daniel threw open the windows and openly prayed toward Jerusalem. He didn’t know whether God would save him or not, but his love for God overruled his concern for his own life.

  1. How do you think you would do in a country where expressing your faith was a crime?
  2. When have you or someone you know been the target of a plot or persecution?
  3. What were Darius’s options when he realized what was going to happen to Daniel?

Additional Resources

Any videos or web materials are for your personal use. If you play any media files in class, be sure to have the necessary rights to do so.

February 11, 2024: Faith in the Fiery Furnace (Daniel 3:19-28)

By Teacher Tips

To engage the learners in a study of the Scripture text:

Distribute copies of the “Keys to Context” exercise from the activity page, which you can download here. Have learners work in pairs or groups to complete as indicated. Have learners add concepts or notes to the exercise as you discuss the lesson.

To encourage personal application:

Distribute copies of the “Advice for Those Facing Trials” exercise from the activity page. Have learners complete it in pairs before discussing conclusions with the whole group.

Following the activity, divide the class into pairs. Distribute note cards and pens to each person. Give learners one minute to write down a personal “fiery furnace” they are currently facing. Then, with the help of his or her partner, have each learner write down one way to be a faithful witness to God while dealing with the issue. Encourage the partners to close class by praying for one another that each will be able to act faithfully in the middle of the fiery furnace.

In the World–February 11, 2024

By "In the World"

Download “In the World” for February 11, 2024 here.

RESCUED FROM A FIERY CAR

Thirty years ago, two NYPD detectives in Harlem spotted a car billowing smoke. They flagged down the car, which had a young mother and two young children inside. Just then, the engine burst into flames, and they pulled the three out and got them to safety. Earlier this month, one of the two children in that car—Denise Gomez, who was two at the time—achieved her dream of emulating the heroes who had saved her life, and she became a NYPD officer herself. The two detectives who rescued her are now retired, but they attended the ceremony where Denise received her badge. They were surprised to learn that she would carry the exact badge as Eric Ocasio, one of the officers who had pulled her from the car. Ocasio said, “To know that, thirty years later, Police Officer Gomez became a police officer due to our actions that day is very special and near and dear to my heart.”

RESCUED FROM A FIERY FURNACE

After uttering one of the most profound expressions of faith in the Bible, three young men known as Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were thrown alive into a blazing furnace, which was supposed to execute them. But the God in whom they had placed their unwavering faith, a faith they would hold to whether he rescued them or not, delivered them from the flames. The miracle was a powerful testimony to a pagan tyrant, who gave glory to God.

  1. What’s the greatest thing you’ve ever seen a police officer or other service worker do?
  2. Who is someone you admire so much that it has brought change to your life?
  3. How can we know whether our faith is as courageous as Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego?

Additional Resources

Any videos or web materials are for your personal use. If you play media in class, be sure to have the necessary rights to do so.

February 4, 2024: Faith in the Power of God (Isaiah 40:12-13, 25-31)

By Teacher Tips

To engage the learners in a study of the Scripture text:

Distribute copies of “The Warning and the Comfort” exercise from the activity page, which you can download here. Have learners work together in groups to complete as indicated. After five minutes, ask for volunteers from each group to share what their group discovered.

To encourage personal application:

Distribute copies of the “This Is My Father’s World” activity from the activity page. Ask learners to complete the activity as a take-home. To encourage completion, allow time at the beginning of the next class for learners to share insights.

In the World–February 4, 2024

By "In the World"

Download “In the World” for February 4, 202 here.

DISTRUSTING THE POWER COMPANY

During last month’s winter storms, the Portland, Oregon area was hit especially hard, with one hundred twenty-seven thousand people going without power for days. The Portland General Electric (PGE) webpage and mobile app were unreliable, as well, even telling residents that their address didn’t exist. The company worked diligently, mobilizing over fifteen hundred employees and calling in crews from surrounding states. Within two days, nearly a hundred thousand people had their electricity restored. Still, some went five days or more without heat at home, leading Portland resident Jai Sen to say, “I still have no honest answer from PGE as to what to expect, and I don’t know if I could trust anything provided at this point.”

TRUSTING IN THE POWER OF THE LORD

Today’s passage from Isaiah is a testament to the trustworthiness of God. With imagery similar to God’s words in Job 40–41, the Lord is portrayed in glory and power, for the one who created the earth and the cosmos has no equal. Yet this tremendous God employs that power to come to the aid of those who hope in him.

  1. What was your most extreme encounter with cold weather?
  2. What is something in your life that has proved less reliable than you expected it to be?
  3. Where have you experienced the power of God in your life?

Additional Resources

Any videos or web materials are for your personal use. If you play media in class, be sure to have the necessary rights to do so.

In the World–January 28, 2024

By "In the World"

Download “In the World” for January 28, 2024 here.

USING THEIR SKILLS OFF THE FIELD

The University of Washington played in the championship of the College Football Playoffs this month. (They lost 34–13 to Michigan.) But three members of the UW Huskies’ football team are working with a professor on a study that identifies how the skills needed to thrive in high-level athletic competition are transferrable to a variety of career and academic fields. These players are “developing and analyzing plays, observing human behavior, anticipating their opponents, and adapting a complex strategy based on real-time information that they’re synthesizing from their surroundings,” says Holly Barker, a University of Washington teaching professor. “That hasn’t been widely acknowledged, and does a disservice to players, especially in the academic opportunities they pursue and their future careers.”

USING YOUR GIFTS IN THE CHURCH

In today’s passage, Paul calls the Christians in Rome to assess what spiritual gifts they’ve been given and then use those gifts to serve the body of Christ. The Lord has beautifully designed the church to build up its members, and this happens as every person uses his or her gifts in faithful service to Christ and one another.

  1. What abilities have you developed in one hobby or sport that you’ve been able to apply in other settings?
  2. What do you think sets a spiritual gift apart from a natural ability?
  3. How can someone use a spiritual gift in a creative way or an unusual setting?

Additional Resources

These videos and materials are for your personal use. If you show videos in class, be sure to have the necessary rights to do so.

January 28, 2024: Faith and Transformation (Romans 12:3-8)

By Teacher Tips

To begin the session:

Divide participants into groups of three. Distribute copies of the “Common Goal” exercise from the activity page, which you can download here. Have groups work together to complete the activity as indicated before bringing the groups together to talk about their experiences.

Say, “God has given us value and purpose, but he has also designed us to need each other. In today’s lesson, think about how this truth is especially relevant in the church, among the body of believers.”

To encourage personal application:

Distribute copies of the “Badge of Gifts” activity from the activity page. Have learners complete the activity as indicated. Allow time after the pages have been completed for partners to pray for each other. Start next week’s lesson with participants sharing about how they are sharing their gifts to help the church.

January 21, 2024: Faith and Encouragement (2 Chronicles 20:13-20)

By Teacher Tips

To engage the learners in a study of the Scripture text:

Allow one minute for learners to complete the “Asaph’s Psalm” exercise from the activity page, which you can download here. Then ask learners to pair up to discuss their results.

To encourage personal application:

Distribute the “Your Song” exercise from the activity page to be completed individually. Encourage learners to refer to their song or poem throughout the week to remember God’s deliverance and faithfulness.

In the World–January 21, 2024

By "In the World"

Download “In the World” for January 21, 2024 here.

ERODING TRUST IN A COMPANY

In the online store of the Boeing aircraft company, you can buy a t-shirt that says, “If It’s Not Boeing I’m Not Going.” This reflects the trust the public once held in the company and the safety of its planes. However, recent disasters—including two deadly crashes of its 737 Max aircraft in 2018–19—have tarnished their image. Their Starliner spacecraft program has been plagued with errors and failures, and their design of the two planes slated to replace Air Force One has amassed more than $2 billion in losses. Then on January 5 of this year, a 737 Max 9 suffered the rupture of its fuselage in the main cabin while at 16,000 feet, with 171 passengers aboard. After the crashes five years ago, US consumer advocate Ralph Nader said the Boeing 737 Max must never fly again, and recent events have not stopped the erosion of public confidence.

ENCOURAGING TRUST IN THE LORD

During the reign of Jehoshaphat, the king of Judah, an enemy alliance of three armies invaded the land. The people of Judah came to Jerusalem and cried out to the Lord. The king prayed to God, ending with the words sometimes translated, “We don’t know what to do but our eyes are on You!” (2 Chron. 20:12 NIV). Then the Lord gave a message to a prophet among them, who urged them to trust in the Lord’s deliverance, because the battle would be fought by the Lord on their behalf.

  1. Which companies or brands do you deeply trust, and why?
  2. What do you think of the words of the king in reaction to the danger?
  3. When have you trusted in the Lord to help you through something in your life? What was the result?

Additional Resources

These videos and materials are for your personal use. If you show videos in class, be sure to have the necessary rights to do so.

January 14, 2024: Faith and Trust (Proverbs 3:1-8)

By Teacher Tips

To begin the session:

Distribute copies of the “Words of Wisdom” exercise from the activity page, which you can download here. Have learners complete it individually in one minute or less before comparing responses with a partner.

Say, “Most proverbs help us make good decisions and point us to having positive relationships. Today, as we study the proverbs of Scripture, consider how we can apply their wisdom to our lives of faith and trust in God.”

To engage the learners in a study of the Scripture text:

Distribute the “World’s Way vs. God’s Way” activity from the activity page. Have learners work in small groups to complete as indicated.

In the World–January 14, 2024

By "In the World"

Download “In the World” for January 14, 2023 here.

COUNTERINTUITIVE PARENTING

It may seem odd, but modern parenting of school-age children in Western cultures may be increasing anxiety in children rather than giving them confidence for life. “Unfortunately … what the statistics and the studies show us,” says Jennifer Breheny Wallace, a journalist, parenting researcher, and author, “is that the very life-vest we’re hoping to put on our kids to keep them afloat in an uncertain future is actually … acting more like a lead vest, and drowning too many of the kids we are trying to protect.” Parental anxiety over their children, especially their children’s performance in school and extracurricular activities, may be sending the message that what really matters is their scores, grades, and rankings. This can have a chilling effect on children, causing them to hesitate about taking the risks that will make them stronger and teach them how to handle anxiety in life.

COUNTERINTUITIVE TRUST

Following God can sometimes seem counterintuitive to a watching world. Today’s passage reminds us that our own understanding—logical though it may be—is far inferior to the Lord’s commands and guidance. Proverbs reminds us that it’s better to trust in the Lord’s ways than in even the most popular or agreed-upon wisdom of the world.

  1. What’s an example of a parenting strategy that did not work as planned?
  2. When have you found something to be true but counterintuitive?
  3. Why do God’s ways sometimes seem confusing to non-Christians?

Additional Resources

These videos and materials are for your personal use. If you show videos in class, be sure to have the necessary rights to do so.

January 7, 2024: Faith and Righteousness (Hebrews 11:1-4a, 7a, 8, 17-18, 20-23, 32, 39-40)

By Teacher Tips

To begin the session:

Distribute a blank piece of paper and copies of the “What Is Unseen” exercise from the activity page, which you can download here, to half of the class. Instruct them to find a partner who did not receive the exercise and complete it as indicated. Tell learners who received the exercise to read the instructions carefully without showing the page to their partners.

After the activity, say, “Sometimes it is hard to do things before we have all the information or know how it will end. In today’s lesson,  notice how each person’s actions were evidence of faith.”

To engage the learners in a study of the Scripture text:

Distribute copies of “The Hall of Faith” activity from the activity page. Have learners complete the first section with a partner before discussing conclusions in small groups. Then complete the exercise in pairs.

In the World–January 7, 2024

By "In the World"

Download “In the World” for January 7, 2024 here.

SINKING FAITH IN GOALS

In Europe and America, governments have set goals that significant percentages of energy be obtained through renewable sources such as solar or wind power in the near future. The European Union, for example, has set a legally binding mandate that it will be producing 42.5% of its energy from renewables by 2030, up from its current 32%. However, supply chain interruptions begun during the pandemic have not been resolved, and manufacturing and shipping costs have risen dramatically. It has reached the point where wind power companies can’t afford to build the turbines and infrastructure. Britain recently held an auction for wind farm companies to bid to supply that country’s energy needs, but no bidders showed up. “The ratio between risk and reward is out of line in the offshore wind market,” said Ben Backwell, CEO of the Global Wind Energy Council. If things don’t change, he warned, “climate and economic goals will simply not be met.”

STEADY FAITH IN GOD

In the famous chapter on faith from the book of Hebrews, the writer features several biblical heroes. What is praised is each person’s belief that God’s faithfulness would be present in the future. Whatever the Lord asked them to do, they did it, counting it as sure that God would work things out to his glory and according to his design.

  1. What is a goal you were able to reach? What is one you were unable to reach?
  2. When have you had to trust in someone who had not always proved to be reliable?
  3. How have you trusted in God for something in the future and found him faithful?

Additional Resources

These videos and materials are for your personal use. If you show videos in class, be sure to have the necessary rights to do so.

December 31, 2023: The Faith of the Wise Men (Matthew 2:1-12)

By Teacher Tips

To begin the session:

Distribute the “Baby Gifts” exercise from the activity pages, which you can download here. Have learners complete it individually in a minute or less before discussing conclusions as a whole class.

Say, “As we study today’s lesson, consider how the baby announcement and gifts reveal the child’s importance to the gift-givers and gift-receivers.”

To encourage personal application:

Distribute copies of the “Faith in Action” activity from the activity page. Have learners complete it individually in a minute or less before discussing conclusions in small groups. Challenge them to complete the first step of the activity during class, then complete the rest of the activity throughout the upcoming week. Give individuals the opportunity to share about this experience at the beginning of the next class time.

In the World–December 31, 2023

By "In the World"

Download “In the World” for December 31, 2023 here.

UNWAVERING IN A BAD FAITH LAWSUIT

This year, a judge in Houston, Texas, made a ruling in a trade dispute between Teligistics, an expense management company, and Liquid Networx, a San Antonio-based cybersecurity company. Teligistics accused Liquid Networx of stealing a trade secret, but a jury found that Teligistics did not own the secret and had brought the lawsuit in bad faith, which means with dishonest or harmful intent. In September, the Houston judge awarded Liquid Networx over a million dollars in attorneys’ fees as damages. Attorneys praised Liquid Networx, which “never wavered in its denial of any wrongdoing and asserted that the lawsuit was brought in bad faith.”

UNWAVERING IN A GOOD FAITH JOURNEY

Somewhere in “the east,” possibly Persia, Magi saw a star rise in the sky and understood it to herald the birth of a king of the Jews. In faith that their observations were correct, they set out on a long, overland journey to come worship such a supernaturally announced king. In faith, they asked King Herod about where the baby would be born, in faith they went to Bethlehem as the Jewish teachers advised, and in faith—because of a warning dream—they departed via another way.

  1. What does it feel like to be exonerated from a false accusation?
  2. When have you seen non-Christians behave with admirable faith?
  3. Why do you think none of the Jewish chief priests accompanied the Magi to Bethlehem?

Additional Resources

These videos and materials are for your personal use. If you show videos in class, be sure to have the necessary rights to do so.

December 24, 2023: Expectant Mothers’ Faith (Luke 1:36-45, 56)

By Teacher Tips

To begin the session:

Distribute copies of the “Baby Talk Translator” exercise from the activity page, which you can download here. Have learners complete it individually in a minute or less before discussing conclusions with a partner.

After the activity, say, “When Mary visited her relative Elizabeth, the unborn baby of Elizabeth reacted when hearing Mary’s voice. In today’s lesson, we will explore the significance of Elizabeth’s response.”

To encourage personal application:

Distribute copies of the “Write Your Own Song” activity from the activity page. Have learners complete it individually in a minute or less before sharing their prayers of praise with a partner.

In the World–December 24, 2023

By "In the World"

Download “In the World” for December 24, 2023 here.

REVEALING THE GENDER

An expectant woman from Texas had celebrity help in discovering her baby’s gender this fall. Larissa Silva of Weslaco, Texas, attended a Jonas Brothers concert in San Antonio, hoping that the music group would do the honors during the show. The three brothers, all young fathers themselves, have been kindly announcing babies’ genders throughout their current tour, and Silva and her husband were able to arrange for them to do so for their baby. After the band sang “Little Bird,” a song dedicated to their daughters, Joe Jonas opened the envelope that revealed the findings of the ultrasound and announced, “It’s a girl!” The crowd cheered uproariously, and the lights turned pink.

REVEALING THE SAVIOR

The angel Gabriel appeared to Mary and announced that she would be the mother of the Son of God, who would be the Savior. Despite the incredible nature of this news, Mary gladly submitted to the will of the Lord. Gabriel told Mary that her Aunt Elizabeth was also expecting, so Mary journeyed to the hill country to share the news with her aunt. But as soon as Elizabeth heard Mary’s voice, the baby growing inside Elizabeth—who would be John the Baptist—leapt inside her. In two senses, John would be among the very first to recognize Jesus as the Messiah.

  1. What’s the most interesting gender reveal you’ve ever heard of?
  2. What would be your ideal Christmas celebration, if you could have your best dream come true?
  3. Of what significance might it be that a woman was the first to be told of the Savior’s birth and that a woman was the first to witness the risen Christ?

Additional Resources

These videos and materials are for your personal use. If you show videos in class, be sure to have the necessary rights to do so.

December 17, 2023: The Family of Faith (Matthew 1:1-17)

By Teacher Tips

To begin the session:

Distribute copies of the “Surprising Ancestors” exercise from the activity page, which you can download here. Have learners work individually on the exercise as indicated for a minute or less before discussing conclusions as a whole group.

To engage the learners in a study of the Scripture text:

Distribute copies of the “Genealogy Puzzle” exercise from the activity page. Have learners complete it as directed in groups of three.

In the World–December 17, 2023

By "In the World"

Download “In the World” for December 17, 2023 here.

A LIST OF SITES WITH GREAT HERITAGE

In September of this year, an ancient earthworks circle joined Stonehenge, the Great Barrier Reef, and the Angkor temple complex in Cambodia as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This ceremonial site isn’t on the plains of Mesopotamia or Africa, however, but in Ohio. Around two thousand years ago, the Indigenous people now referred to as the Hopewell culture built hundreds of ceremonial earthworks. Over the centuries, especially with European migration to the area, most of the sites have been damaged or erased. A quarter of a century of work from organizations across Ohio culminated in the U.S. Department of the Interior applying to UNESCO in March of 2022, and in September 2023 the Hopewell Ceremonial Earthwork site was officially added to the list.

A LIST OF FATHERS WITH GREAT HERITAGE

Today’s passage includes Matthew’s genealogical list tracing the lineage of Jesus from Joseph to David, Ruth, and Rahab, and all the way back to Abraham. A careful reading of the list reveals it to be not just a dry sequence of begats but a remarkable tale of God’s grace, faithfulness, and love for people of all nations.

  1. Which UNESCO heritage sites would you like to visit? Here’s the link: https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/
  2. How far back do you know your own genealogy?
  3. What do you make of the fact that Matthew’s genealogical list includes women and non-Jews?

Additional Resources

These videos and materials are for your personal use. If you show videos in class, be sure to have the necessary rights to do so.

December 10, 2023: The Faith of David (1 Samuel 17:31-37, 45, 48-50)

By Teacher Tips

To begin the session:

Distribute copies of the “Lions, Tigers, and Bears?” exercise from the activity page, which you can download here. Have learners complete it as indicated.

Next, say, “David, as a shepherd boy, was able to expertly fight animals that threatened his flock. Let’s see how he brought down a giant with just one stone.”

To engage the learners in a study of the Scripture text:

Distribute copies of the “David and Goliath Acrostic” exercise from the activity page. Give groups time to complete as indicated before discussing their conclusions as a whole class.

In the World–December 10, 2023

By "In the World"

Download “In the World” for December 10, 2023 here.

GOING UP AGAINST A CORPORATE GIANT

This fall, a small real estate holding business, Courtland Company, successfully challenged a much larger corporation in federal court. In what the company hailed as a “David versus Goliath victory,” U.S. District Judge John T. Copenhaver, Jr. ruled favorably for Courtland against chemical giant Union Carbide, which is owned by Dow Chemical. Between 1950 and 1980, Copenhaver found, Union Carbide had illegally dumped toxic waste in a nearby property called the Filmont Landfill. Toxins from that practice have and continue to leech into public waterways and groundwater. If the ruling is not overturned, Union Carbide will be forced to pay for the cleanup of soil and water contamination and could face civil penalties under the Clean Water Act.

GOING UP AGAINST AN ACTUAL GIANT

When a young man from Bethlehem came to King Saul and offered to face a Philistine giant in single combat, Saul was hesitant. How could this David, not much more than a boy, stand a chance against a nine-foot-tall warrior? But seeing no other volunteers, and perhaps being moved by David’s zeal for the God of Israel, he relented. David stood before Goliath in the power of the Lord, and he prevailed.

  1. When have you seen someone take positive responsibility for harm done to another?
  2. What’s a David vs. Goliath situation you’ve been part of?
  3. Why do you think King Saul agreed to let David represent Israel in this situation with Goliath?

Additional Resources

These videos and materials are for your personal use. If you show videos in class, be sure to have the necessary rights to do so.

December 3, 2023: The Faith of Ruth (Ruth 1:6-18, 22)

By Teacher Tips

To begin the session:

Distribute copies of the “How Do You Shop?” exercise from the activity page, which you can download here. Have learners work in pairs to complete the exercise as indicated before discussing conclusions as a whole group.

After the activity, say, “Today we’re going to look at the life of Ruth and how love motivated her to take a leap of faith.”

To engage the learners in a study of the Scripture text:

Distribute copies of the “What Would You Give Up?” exercise from the activity page. Have learners complete it individually in a minute or less before discussing conclusions with the class.

After the activity, talk through how Ruth’s courage and faithfulness helped both her and Naomi deal with their situation.

In the World–December 3, 2023

By "In the World"

Download “In the World” for December 3, 2023 here.

REUNITED WITH HIS BIRTH MOTHER

One day in 1981 in Santiago, Chile, a poor woman gave birth to a premature baby boy. She was discharged from the hospital while the baby was put in an incubator, but when she returned, she was told the baby had died and his body had been disposed of. In reality, the baby was sold in a human trafficking scheme that was common at the time. The boy was adopted by an American family and given the name Jimmy Lippert Thyde. The mother, María Angélica González, had more children but never forgot her baby boy. Forty-two years later, through an organization called Nos Buscamos (which means, “We are looking for each other”), mother and son were reunited in Chile. “Mijo,” María told her son, “you have no idea the oceans I’ve cried for you. How many nights I’ve laid awake praying that God let me live long enough to learn what happened to you.”

STAYING WITH HER NEW MOTHER

Naomi had gone to Moab because of a famine in Israel. She had prospered there, marrying and raising two sons, both of whom married Moabite women. But when all three men died and news reached Naomi that Israel had food again, she determined to return home. She urged her two daughters-in-law to go back to their own homes and remarry, but one of the two—Ruth—refused to be parted from her mother-in-law. Her devotion was such that she gave up her homeland and her religion to stay by Naomi’s side.

  1. What’s the happiest adoption or reunion story you’ve ever heard?
  2. How can we help put an end to human trafficking?
  3. What could cause you to leave everything behind and start a new life?

Additional Resources

These videos and materials are for your personal use. If you show videos in class, be sure to have the necessary rights to do so.

November 26, 2023: Freedom to Edify (1 Corinthians 10:23–11:1

By Teacher Tips

To begin the session:

Distribute copies of the “Just Because You Can” exercise from the activity page, which you can download here. Have learners work in pairs to complete as indicated. After time is called, allow time for group discussion.

Explain that today’s Bible study examines how Paul’s message to the Corinthians roots this message in our faith, including our call to be salt and light to others.

To engage the learners in a study of the Scripture text:

Distribute copies of the “How Shall We Act?” exercise on the activity page. Have learners work in pairs or groups of three to complete as indicated.

In the World–November 26, 2023

By "In the World"

Download “In the World” for November 26, 2023 here.

FREEDOM THAT RISKS HARM TO ONESELF

Protestors in several countries recently commemorated the anniversary of the death of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old Kurdish-Iranian woman who died in police custody in Iran last year. Amini had been arrested by morality police for allegedly violating Iran’s mandatory headscarf law. Her death is believed to have resulted from beatings inflicted by Iranian police. News of the tragedy triggered massive protests across the country that threatened to overthrow the Islamic regime. Though the uprising was violently put down, women in Tehran and elsewhere could be seen openly flaunting the headscarf rule. Amini’s efforts to win freedom were celebrated by anniversary gatherings not only in Iran but also in England, France, Italy, and Germany.

FREEDOM THAT RISKS HARM TO OTHERS

Paul countered the claims of some people connected to the church at Corinth who were saying that freedom in Christ meant they were freed from restrictions of any kind. The apostle argued against such libertinism, saying that the freedom we have in Jesus is not meant to be license to sin—nor should it be used to cause others to stumble. If our flaunting of freedoms harms the faith of others, then we are not walking in love.

  1. What freedoms do you enjoy now that you or others had to fight for?
  2. Why do people sometimes flaunt freedoms that others do not have access to?
  3. How can we keep our freedoms from becoming a stumbling block for someone else?

Additional Resources

These videos and materials are for your personal use. If you show videos in class, be sure to have the necessary rights to do so.

November 19, 2023: Freedom from the World (Colossians 2:16-23)

By Teacher Tips

To begin the session:

Distribute copies of the “Real or Fake?” exercise from the activity page, which you can download here. Have learners complete it individually in a minute or less before discussing conclusions with a partner.

After calling time for the activity, lead into Scripture study by saying, “Today’s lesson will examine Paul’s message to the Colossians regarding wrong assumptions that added to the gospel message.

To encourage personal application:

Distribute copies of the “Stay Connected” exercise from the activity page. Have learners work in pairs to complete as indicated. Welcome the sharing of the word clouds at the end of this class or the beginning of the next one.

In the World–November 19, 2023

By "In the World"

Download “In the World” for November 19, 2023 here.

COPYRIGHT NO LONGER APPLIES

On January 1, 2024, the Walt Disney Company’s copyright protection on Mickey Mouse finally runs out. Technically, it’s just the 1928 animated short film “Steamboat Willie,” Mickey Mouse’s first appearance in film, that will no longer be protected. But at 12:01 a.m. in the new year, the entire film will enter the public domain and be fair game to anyone to do with as they please. Users have already been using Mickey and other Disney characters in their own art before now, but there has always been a risk of legal action from the copyright holder. But come the new year, that risk will disappear. In this day of artificial intelligence-driven graphics, who knows what new forms—delightful or unsettling—people will come up with for that mouse.

RESTRICTIONS NO LONGER APPLY

Paul urged the Christians in Colossae to leave behind the “elemental principles” of the world, specifically manmade restrictions pertaining to special foods, festivals, and dates. These strict limitations, which were easy to understand even if they were not so easy to obey, belonged to the non-Christian way of living. Paul wanted his readers to abandon such restrictions and stop thinking that such rules had any value to produce a heart of godliness, humility, or wisdom.

  1. What is your favorite animated character or movie?
  2. What food dish are you most looking forward to enjoying in the holidays?
  3. How can we be sure we don’t put our faith in human restrictions that have no value in God’s eyes?

Additional Resources

These videos and materials are for your personal use. If you show videos in class, be sure to have the necessary rights to do so.

November 12, 2023: Freedom to Love (Romans 13:8-10)

By Teacher Tips

To begin the session:

Distribute copies of the “Love and Romance” exercise on the activity page, which you can download here. Have learners complete as indicated.

After calling time, start a discussion by asking, “How is sacrifice a demonstration of love?” Encourage people to talk about a variety of relationships in this discussion. Transition to the Bible study by saying, “Paul writes to both the Romans and the Corinthians about God’s sacrificial love. Let’s discover how love makes a difference in the lives of those who follow Jesus.”

To engage the learners in a study of the Scripture text:

Distribute copies of “The Bible on Love” exercise from the activity page. Have learners work in pairs to complete as indicated. After time is called, lead a discussion and write conclusions on the board.

In the World–November 12, 2023

By "In the World"

Download “In the World” for November 12, 2023 here.

LOVE CONQUERS ALL

Last month during the NFL game between the San Francisco 49ers and the Dallas Cowboys, two fans of the rival teams found a way to bridge their differences. NBC cameras caught the moment when Arty, wearing a 49ers jersey, got down on one knee and presented a ring to his sweetheart, Lexi, who was wearing a Cowboys jersey. The football commentators had fun with the moment, and some observers questioned whether this might be the closest the Cowboys would get to a ring this year. Arty and Lexi, both from El Paso, Texas, walked away from the game engaged, showing the world that if even fans of rival teams can find romance, maybe love really can conquer all.

LOVE SURPASSES ALL

In today’s two passages from Paul’s letters, we see that the love of God, expressed through Jesus Christ, is the greatest attribute to pursue. Love sums up the whole law of God and gives substance to any act of piety we can do.

  1. When have you seen love overcome differences and even obstacles between people?
  2. What does Paul mean that love fulfills the law?
  3. How can Paul say that love (charity) is greater even than faith and hope?

Additional Resources

These videos and materials are for your personal use. If you show videos in class, be sure to have the necessary rights to do so.

November 5, 2023: Freedom from Expectations (Acts 15:1-11)

By Teacher Tips

To begin the session:

Distribute copies of the “Which Is Better?” exercise from the activity page, which you can download here. Have learners complete it individually in a minute or less before discussing conclusions with a partner.

After the activity, say, “Believers have engaged in other debates that are more significant and harder to resolve. In today’s lesson, let’s consider the significance of an early debate of the first-century church and the implications of that debate for our faith.”

To encourage personal application:

Distribute copies of the “My Personal Practices” activity from the activity page. Have learners complete it as a take-home activity. Remind the class that they will have an opportunity to discuss their responses at the beginning of the next class.

In the World–November 5, 2023

By "In the World"

Download “In the World” for November 5, 2023 here.

INHERITING UNBEARABLE DEBT

Following every war fought by the United States up to and including World War II, national wartime debt was quickly reversed by a united leadership and populace. For example, during WWII, publicly held debt was around 105% of the gross domestic product (GDP), but the White House and Congress worked together to quickly shrink it to 23%. But today the political mood is primarily to increase spending and think about reducing debt at some later time (if at all). According to Forbes, the current debt is already at WWII levels, and this is expected to grow to 115% of GDP in the next ten years…and to 180% in the next thirty years. Our children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren will inherit crushing financial burdens if older generations don’t unify to send a message of drastic change to lawmakers at every level.

INHERITING UNBEARABLE LAW

When Jewish Christians came to Antioch, where Paul was, and began teaching that believers needed to be circumcised and follow Old Testament law and traditions, the resulting debate culminated in a council in Jerusalem. Paul was unwilling to put Jewish legal, dietary, and sacrificial requirements on Gentile believers, as if Christianity consisted of those things as much or more than faith in Jesus. But Jewish believers wanted to continue following their religious traditions while worshiping Jesus as Lord. After much debate, the council finally sided with Paul, refusing to make Gentile believers inherit a burden that even the Jews could not bear.

  1. What factors may have contributed to the current high national debt?
  2. When have you seen older and younger believers finding common ground in the church?
  3. How can traditions that were well-intentioned later become burdensome?

Additional Resources

These videos and materials are for your personal use. If you show videos in class, be sure to have the necessary rights to do so.

October 29, 2023: Freedom as an Heir (Galatians 3:23–4:7)

By Teacher Tips

To begin the session:

Distribute copies of the “What Is Freedom? Part 1” exercise from the activity pages, which you can download here. Have learners complete it individually in a minute or less before discussing answers with a partner.

After the activity say, “We experience freedom in different ways, depending on who has authority and our relationship to them. In today’s lesson, notice who has true freedom and how that freedom is defined.”

To engage the learners in a study of the Scripture text:

Distribute the “What Is Freedom? Part 2” exercise from the activity page. Have learners work in pairs to complete as indicated.

In the World–October 29, 2023

By "In the World"

Download “In the World” for October 29, 2023 here.

REMOVE THE TRAINING WHEELS

American students have long trailed their international peers in math skills. Disruptions caused by COVID-19 intensified the problem, and educators are scrambling to keep up. One solution being tried is an artificial intelligence tutoring program called Digit, developed by Arizona State University. For middle schoolers doing their math work on a computer, Digit corrects mathematical inaccuracies and provides real-time feedback right as the students are solving the problem. It’s individualized, immediate help for every student, something most teachers simply cannot replicate. With middle schoolers, Digit offers hints and game-like rewards. But for high schoolers and college students, the training wheels come off, and Digit instead provides video lectures of why it’s imperative that they learn higher math.

REMOVE THE TUTOR

In his letter to the Galatian church, Paul gives a master class on the purpose of the Jewish law in the context of the New Covenant. It was there as a tutor and guardian for the people of God, holding them in check and preparing their hearts to receive their inheritance, which is not through law but by faith. The law was never God’s final solution. In the fullness of time, the Lord removed the tutor and presented the Savior.

  1. Who or what gave you the most help in learning a new topic or skill?
  2. Why do some people see artificial intelligence as a threat? Why do some people see it as a benefit?
  3. What tasks of a tutor or guardian did the Old Testament law perform for God’s people?

Additional Resources

These videos and materials are for your personal use. If you show videos in class, be sure to have the necessary rights to do so.

October 22, 2023: Spirit and Flesh (Galatians 3:1-14)

By Teacher Tips

To engage the learners in a study of the Scripture text:

Distribute copies of the “Gospel to Abraham” exercise from the activity page, which you can download here. Instruct partners to work together to complete as indicated. After a few minutes, ask the partners to present their findings for whole-class discussion.

Ask a volunteer to read aloud Galatians 3:10-14. Then have small groups look up Old Testament references Paul included—Leviticus 18:5; Deuteronomy 21:23, 27:26; Habakkuk 2:4—as well as Matthew 5:17-20. Ask, “How do Jesus’ words connect the Old Testament verses with the verses in Galatians 3?” Allow time for group members to discuss before sharing their insights with the whole group. (Possible response: Jesus fulfills the law, so through him we are made righteous.)

To encourage personal application:

Distribute copies of the “One in Christ” exercise from the activity page. Have learners complete as indicated.

Give learners one minute to write down one way they continue to be motivated by the flesh instead of by the Spirit. Then ask them to brainstorm with a partner how to be open to the Spirit’s presence and leading in the week ahead as they seek opportunities to serve Christ. Have partners pray for each other in these efforts. Encourage them to come to class next week prepared to tell their partner about their experiences in the Spirit.

In the World–October 22, 2023

By "In the World"

Download “In the World” for October 22, 2023 here.

STAY ON THE TRAIL

This month in Australia, a woman tragically fell to her death at a lookout spot on a popular walking trail. “At one stage, she was there with the witnesses, just walking along,” said Police Inspector Paul Hoyer, “then all of a sudden she’s gone over the edge.” She fell one hundred fifty feet and did not survive. This lookout had no guard rails, but people have fallen in spots that did have them. “Fences, unfortunately, sometimes don’t preclude people from jumping them to get a better view or to look over the edge of cliffs,” said Hoyer. “There’s an inherent risk at these locations that you’ve got to be mindful of.”

STAY ON THE PATH

Paul wrote to the church in Galatia because they were danger of falling away from true Christian faith. They had started out well, following Paul’s sure guidance at the beginning of their spiritual journey. But new teachers had come along promoting a false gospel, and news had reached the apostle that some of them had begun to abandon the truth and wander into deadly error. In today’s passage, he urgently calls them back to the truth.

  1. Where is the most dangerous drop-off you’ve visited or heard of?
  2. When it comes to the outdoors, how can we find the balance between caution and fear?
  3. What are some ways that Christians can wander from the true path of the faith?

Additional Resources

These videos and materials are for your personal use. If you show videos in class, be sure to have the necessary rights to do so.

October 15, 2023: Works and Faith (Galatians 2:11-21)

By Teacher Tips

To begin the session:

Distribute copies of the “A Recipe for Winning Arguments” exercise from the activity page, which you can download here. Have learners work in pairs to complete as indicated.

Connect this activity with today’s lesson by saying, “Sometimes the arrival of someone new can be an unwelcome disruption. Let’s learn how Paul addresses a situation like this in his letter to the Galatians.”

To encourage personal application:

Distribute copies of the “Call and Response Prayer” exercise from the activity page. Complete as a whole class. Encourage learners to refer to this exercise throughout the upcoming week.

After the activity, close class with a time of prayer, asking the Father to reveal any hypocrisies so that they can be repented of and discarded.

In the World–October 15, 2023

By "In the World"

Download “In the World” for October 15, 2023 here.

WALKING BACK PLANS FOR RETIREMENT

Michael Caine is 90, and he says he’s finally retiring from making movies. He announced last month that his new film, The Great Escaper, will be his last. This is the third time Caine has retired, he admits with a laugh in a recent interview with Entertainment Weekly. Back in the 1990s, when he’d turned 60, he wasn’t getting many offers for roles, so he thought he would retire—until fellow actor Jack Nicholson talked him out of it. Then in 2021, after the release of Best Sellers, he suggested that role would be his last. “There’s not exactly scripts pouring out with a leading man who’s 88,” he wrote at the time. He quickly walked back that claim too. But this time, he says the retirement is real. Instead, he wants to concentrate on writing books. “I’m very happy with that because it’s something I can do without walking. All you need is a chair and a pencil and paper.”

WALKING BACK A GOSPEL STANCE

In the early church, especially in churches with both Jewish and Gentile believers, there was much that had to be figured out regarding what, if anything, non-Jewish Christians had to “add to their faith” to be believers, and what, if anything, Jewish believers no longer had to observe from their religious traditions. On at least one occasion, it seems that Peter affirmed the freedoms of Gentile converts … until certain conservative Jewish believers came down from Jerusalem to Antioch. Around these men, Peter walked back his behaviors, putting on a more traditional and “Jewish” manner of living. In today’s passage, Paul tells about how he called Peter out for this hypocrisy, because of the damage it could do to the faith of non-Jewish Christians.

  1. Which paying jobs could you still be doing if, by God’s grace, you reach the age of 90?
  2. What’s a major life decision you (or someone you know) changed your mind about?
  3. Why do we sometimes change our behavior when we’re around certain people?

Additional Resources

These videos and materials are for your personal use. If you show videos in class, be sure to have the necessary rights to do so.

October 8, 2023: Old and New (Romans 7:1-12)

By Teacher Tips

To begin the session:

Distribute copies of the “Still on the Books” exercise from the activity page, which you can download here. Have students work in pairs to complete as indicated. Then discuss the activity as a whole class.

Transition to the Bible st udy by introducing Paul’s discussion of the law’s nature and impact on people.

To engage the learners in a study of the Scripture text:

Distribute copies of the “World-Record Marriages” activity from the activity page. Have learners discuss conclusions in small groups. Be sensitive to those members of the class who may have experienced loss of a spouse or divorce and remarriage.

In the World–October 8, 2023

By "In the World"

Download “In the World” for October 8, 2023 here.

REPEALING A LAW

Quebec is a mostly French-speaking province of Canada, and Montreal is its chief city. In 2022, Quebec passed a language reform law whose goal is to “limit government communications in languages other than French.” Last month, two bilingual (French and English) Montreal suburbs filed a court challenge to elements of this law, saying that it violates constitutional law allowing local governments to use languages other than French. The challenge also seeks to repeal an element of the new law that says that French is Quebec’s official language.

DEAD TO THE LAW

Today’s passage in Romans contains Paul’s metaphor that a wife whose husband dies is free to marry another without the Jewish law declaring her an adulteress. His intent is to show that Christians are free from the authority of the Old Testament law and are rightfully bound to Jesus as their new Lord.

  1. What are the pros and cons of requiring official government communication to be only in a certain language?
  2. What freedoms does a person gain by coming to Christ?
  3. Why do we sometimes gravitate to rules and legalism, even as Christians?

Additional Resources

These videos and materials are for your personal use. If you show videos in class, be sure to have the necessary rights to do so.

October 1, 2023: Inward and Outward (Romans 2:12-24, 28-29)

By Teacher Tips

To begin the session:

Distribute copies of the “Right and Wrong Around the World” exercise from the activity page, which you can download here. Students can work in pairs to complete as indicated.

Following the activity, gather the pairs together. As a whole group discuss what the world might conclude from the fact that people from various religious faiths or no faith at all seem to live generally moral lives. What might society say when those people appear more righteous than Christians?

To encourage personal application:

Distribute copies of the “Repaired with Gold” exercise from the activity page. Have learners complete it individually in a minute or less before sharing with a partner. Conclude the lesson with a prayer that learners  would have open hearts that lead their actions throughout the week. Encourage them to watch for opportunities to teach in both word and deed and come to class next week prepared to report on their experiences.

In the World–October 1, 2023

By "In the World"

Download “In the World” for October 1, 2023 here.

DISOBEYING A LAW THEY KNEW

Last month, a Christian family killed in World War II were honored by the Catholic Church for harboring two Jewish families in Poland. The Nazis had invaded Poland and the governor made a law forbidding any citizen from aiding or protecting the Jews. Anyone who so much as gave a piece of bread to a Jewish person would risk the death penalty. Nevertheless, Józef and Wiktoria Ulma, along with their seven children, hid two Jewish families in their backyard for a year and a half, risking their lives every day. Eventually, someone turned them in to the Nazis, and soldiers descended upon the house. They executed the Jewish families on the spot, killed Józef and Wiktoria Ulma right in their yard, then killed all seven children.

OBEYING A LAW THEY DID NOT KNOW

Paul wrote Romans to at least two audiences: Gentile and Jewish Christians. In today’s passage, he challenges his Jewish Christian hearers about how Gentiles who have never heard the law of God as recorded in the Old Testament can sometimes obey it better than those who do know the law. Their natural obedience will be judged favorably by the Lord, even being declared righteous in God’s sight if they heed the voice of conscience.

  1. What factors may have gone into the Ulmas’ decision to shelter the Jewish families?
  2. How is it that non-Christians sometimes conduct themselves with more compassion or kindness than some believers?
  3. What comfort can you draw from the knowledge that God will deal fairly with all people?

Additional Resources

These videos and materials are for your personal use. If you show videos in class, be sure to have the necessary rights to do so.

September 24, 2023: Jesus Prevents Two Stonings (John 8:1-11, 39-59)

By Teacher Tips

To begin the session:

Distribute copies of the “When Can You Break the Speed Limit?” exercise from the activity page, which you can download here. Have learners work in small groups to discuss as indicated.

To encourage personal application:

Distribute copies of the “Behavior and Motivations” activity from the activity page. Have learners complete it individually in a minute or less before discussing conclusions with a partner.

Read John 3:16-17. Ask learners to write a prayer of gratitude for escaping condemnation in Christ. Challenge learners to spend time during the week reflecting on their actions.

In the World–September 24, 2023

By "In the World"

Download “In the World” for September 24, 2023 here.

VIOLENCE FOR THE GROUP

This September 11 saw the release of research examining why people commit violence in support of a group. Joanna Lindström, PhD Researcher in Psychology at Stockholm University, and her team found that some people—but not all—who saw their group as “unjustly disadvantaged” felt justified in the use of violence for their cause. Lindström’s team wanted to know why some in this group called for violence and some did not. They found that individuals who felt superior to others and entitled to privileges were most likely to think their group was unfairly disadvantaged. This held true even if their group was not actually “structurally disadvantaged.” It seems that feeling superior may be linked to a tendency to justify violence.

VIOLENCE FOR THE LAW

Today’s passage describes two events in Jesus’ life when the Jewish religious leaders took up stones to commit violence to carry out their interpretation of God’s Law. In one, they sought to “purge” Israel of the sin of adultery, and in the other, they sought to punish Jesus over his claim to have existed prior to Abraham. In both cases, they felt righteous and justified in attempting to kill someone else. And in both cases, Jesus prevented their ungodly violence.

  1. Under what conditions, if any, would you consider violence justifiable?
  2. Why do some people feel unjustly disadvantaged even when most observers would not consider them disadvantaged at all?
  3. What do you think of the claim that non-violence is a core teaching of Christianity?

Additional Resources

These videos and materials are for your personal use. If you show videos in class, be sure to have the necessary rights to do so.

September 17, 2023: Jesus Glorifies God (John 7:14-24)

By Teacher Tips

To begin the session:

Distribute copies of the “Look at the Big Picture” exercise from the activity page, which you can download here. Ask pairs or small groups to complete the chart as indicated.

Lead to Bible study by saying, “Jesus, the best teacher in the world, was accused of sharing bad information with wrong motives. Let’s see what happened.”

To engage the learners in a study of the Scripture text:

Distribute copies of the “Examining the Story” activity from the activity page. Have learners complete it individually in one minute or less before comparing their work with a partner.

In the World–September 17, 2023

By "In the World"

Download “In the World” for September 17, 2023 here.

A RELIABLE CHAMPION

American gymnast Simone Biles is again on top of her sport. Late last month, Biles won her eighth all-around title at the U.S. Gymnastics Championships, breaking a record that had held for nearly ninety years. Two years ago, Biles pulled out of the team finals in the Tokyo Olympics after suffering from “the twisties,” a mental phenomenon that affects a gymnast’s perception about their position in the air. Soon afterward, she and other gymnasts testified about being sexually abused by the team doctor. After two years away from competition, it appears the world’s most decorated gymnastics athlete—winner of twenty-five medals at world championships, including eighteen golds—is back.

A RELIABLE MESSENGER

One year during Jesus’ ministry, he went to Jerusalem for the Feast of Tabernacles. Some Jewish leaders challenged his teaching, citing the fact that he hadn’t been educated in their formal system. Jesus said his teaching was reliable because he wasn’t seeking his own fame but only God’s glory. Those who are committed to accurately relaying the message of the one who sent them are reliable messengers, he said. This was in contrast to the Jewish leaders, who were perverting the message of Moses for their own gain.

  1. When have you or someone else made a tremendous recovery?
  2. What does Jesus mean by someone who “speaks on their own” (or “speaketh of himself”)?
  3. How can we be sure we are seeking God’s glory only and not speaking on our own?

Additional Resources

These videos and materials are for your personal use. If you show videos in class, be sure to have the necessary rights to do so.

September 10, 2023: Jesus Silences Critics (Luke 14:1-6)

By Teacher Tips

To engage the learners in a study of the Scripture text:  

Distribute copies of the “Three Meals, One Pattern” exercise from the activity page, which you can download here. Have learners work in pairs to complete as indicated.

Next, distribute copies of the “Remember the Sabbath” activity from the activity page. Have learners work in pairs to complete as indicated.

In the World–September 10, 2023

By "In the World"

Download “In the World” for September 10, 2023 here.

THE LETTER OF THE GUN LAW

Last month in Utah, state lawmakers called officers from the Salt Lake City Police Department to explain why they had suspended one of their own officers for trying to obey a new law at the city’s airport. The law states that travelers should be ticketed if they try to bring a firearm through security—unless the person brought the gun unintentionally or had forgotten it was in a carry-on bag. In that case, the person should not be ticketed (but still be disallowed from bringing the gun through). The SLCPD preferred to ticket everyone who brought a gun to the airport, no matter what, choosing a “letter of the law” reading of the legislation. The suspended officer had been disciplined by his superiors for trying to follow the intent of the law and not writing a ticket for someone who had accidentally brought a firearm to security. The lawmakers wanted to know why the police were violating what they felt was the clear intent of the new law.

THE INTENT OF GOD’S LAW

In today’s passage, some Pharisees tested whether Jesus would violate the letter of the commandment to keep the Sabbath holy. They brought a man in need of healing before Jesus on the Sabbath to see if he would heal him and thus, in their minds, violate the Sabbath by doing work. Jesus did heal the man, and then he dashed their efforts to trap him by showing God’s original intent for the commandment—and by showing that even they would “work” on the Sabbath to save a child or a cow in a well. So how could he not save this son of Abraham, even on a Sabbath?

  1. Why might someone prefer a letter-of-the-law interpretation over the spirit of the law?
  2. What does it say that the Pharisees took for granted Jesus’ miraculous healing power and concentrated instead on questions about the Sabbath?
  3. How can we know if we have begun obeying the letter of an instruction in the Bible and straying from its intent?

Additional Resources

These videos and materials are for your personal use. If you show videos in class, be sure to have the necessary rights to do so.

September 3, 2023: Jesus Confronts Hypocrisy (Luke 11:37-44)

By Teacher Tips

To begin the session:

Distribute copies of the “Movie Script” exercise from the activity page, which you can download here. Have learners work in small groups to complete as indicated. After 10 minutes, reconvene the groups and ask them to share their results.

Transition to Bible study by saying, “Today’s Scripture describes how Jesus interacted with some religious leaders who were proud of their status as a part of the perceived ‘in’ crowd. As we study, notice Jesus’ reaction to their attitude.”

To encourage personal application:

Distribute copies of the “We Still Have a Problem” activity from the activity page. Have learners complete it in pairs before discussing conclusions with the whole class.

Close class with prayer. Begin with a silent time of repentance for hypocritical attitudes. Finish by asking God to reveal to learners how to live in a consistent way that demonstrates God’s love.

In the World–September 3, 2023

By "In the World"

Download “In the World” for September 3, 2023 here.

TRAGIC MISTAKEN IDENTITY

In San Francisco last month, a family that had already been touched by tragedy was struck again. In 2008, in a case of mistaken identity, three members of the Tony Bologna family were killed in gang violence. Tony and two of his sons, Michael and Matthew, were murdered when Edwin Ramos, an MS-13 gang member, thought one of the sons was a member of a rival gang. Left behind were Tony’s third son, Andrew, and Tony’s wife, Danielle, and daughter, Francesca. But last month, Danielle and Francesca were killed when a car veered into their lane on a highway. Now Andrew Bologna has had to bury every member of his family. A GoFundMe page has been set up to allow people to provide assistance to him.

SINFUL FALSE IDENTITY

In today’s passage, the Pharisees came under the Lord’s discipline for hypocrisy. They presented a false identity of being pure and righteous, carrying their supposed love for God to the extent of giving him a tenth of everything—even their garden herbs—and yet their hearts were full of sin and greed. Jesus exposed their façade and called them to make their true selves line up with the righteous identity they showed the world.

  1. When have you or someone you know been touched by false or mistaken identity?
  2. Why is it sometimes tempting to present a more positive, but not entirely accurate, version of ourselves to others?
  3. When has someone been honest with you about their faults?

Additional Resources

These videos and materials are for your personal use. If you show videos in class, be sure to have the necessary rights to do so.

August 27, 2023: God’s Kingdom Will Be All in All (1 Corinthians 15:20-28)

By Teacher Tips

To begin the session:

Distribute copies of the “Define Authority?” exercise from the activity page, which you can download here. Have learners work in pairs or small groups to complete as indicated. After calling time, have volunteers share their responses with the class.

Lead into Bible study by saying, “Determining a proper response to authority is a problem for some people. Today’s Scripture shows how this problem is resolved for followers of Jesus.”

To engage the learners in a study of the Scripture text:

Distribute copies of the “Main Characters” activity from the activity page. Have learners work in pairs to complete as indicated.

After calling time under the activity, ask the following questions for whole-class discussion: 1–What are the roles of Adam, Jesus, and God the Father as described in 1 Corinthians 15:20-28? 2–How is God’s authority demonstrated and explained in this passage?

In the World–August 27, 2023

By "In the World"

Download “In the World” for August 27, 2023 here.

UNTIL THE AXIS ENEMY IS DEFEATED

The movie Oppenheimer (which we are not endorsing) tells the story of Dr. J. Robert Oppenheimer, who led the American effort to build an atomic bomb before the Germans could do so. Historians have suggested that the US government needed Oppenheimer and his team to succeed in order for the Allies to win World War II, but in the decade afterward, he was not needed and was cast into suspicion as a Communist, as the World War ended and the Cold War began. For himself, Oppenheimer wished to turn control of all atomic weapons over to some neutral body like the United Nations to attempt to prevent a nuclear arms race.

UNTIL THE LAST ENEMY IS DEFEATED

Jesus Christ is eternal and will reign forever. His mission on earth was to be not only deliverer but also conqueror, with the task of defeating sin and the devil and reconciling humanity with God. In our passage today, Paul explains that Jesus’ role as God’s war commander would continue until the very last enemy, death, was defeated. When his task is complete, he will lay aside that role, bow to his Father, and rejoin him in eternal majesty.

  1. What do you think of the arguments for and against the use of nuclear weapons in WW2?
  2. In what ways would the world change if all nuclear weapons disappeared today?
  3. How do we reconcile the idea of Jesus as equal with God the Father and the fact that he submits himself to his Father, as seen in today’s passage?

Additional Resources

These videos and materials are for your personal use. If you show videos in class, be sure to have the necessary rights to do so.

August 20, 2023: Judgment in the Kingdom (1 Corinthians 4:1-6, 17-21)

By Teacher Tips

To engage the learners in a study of the Scripture text:

Activity 1: Distribute copies of the “Judging Paul’s Faithfulness” exercise from the activity page, which you can download here. Have learners work in pairs to complete as indicated.

Activity 2: Distribute copies of the “The Lord, Our Judge” activity from the activity page. Have learners work in small groups to complete as indicated.

In the World–August 20, 2023

By "In the World"

Download “In the World” for August 20, 2023 here.

RISING TO HIGHER AUTHORITY

When the top-ranking Marine—the commandant of the Marine Corps—retires or needs to be replaced, the successor must be sanctioned by the U.S. Senate. The elevation of someone to the Corps’ top post, along with nearly 270 other military nominations and promotions, is being blocked by a senator who wishes to bring attention to some of the Pentagon’s policies. Despite the obstacle, the officer deemed most likely to step into the commandant’s position—Gen. Eric Smith, assistant commandant—has this month written a letter giving direction for all marines. “Until the Senate confirms our 39th Commandant, this guidance will serve as our reference point,” Smith wrote. “What I require is that when decisions are made, we move out as one to attack our problems together.”

WAITING FOR HIGHER AUTHORITY

The Christians in Corinth had evidently passed judgment on how Paul was conducting his ministry, perhaps even accusing him of having sinister motives for his actions. Paul responded that he didn’t really mind what they thought of him—or even what he thought of himself—but deferred all judgment to the Lord Jesus. Paul answered to God, not to humans, and the Lord’s judgment would reveal not only Paul’s motives but also their own. He would be exonerated, and he did not shrink back from exercising the authority entrusted to him as a servant of Christ.

  1. What is a time when you approved of someone in authority?
  2. When have you made a decision based not on what people wanted in the moment but on the wishes of the higher authority you were going to have to report to?
  3. How can we balance our responsibility as Christians with the sometimes-ungodly desires and demands of our culture?

Additional Resources

These videos and materials are for your personal use. If you show videos in class, be sure to have the necessary rights to do so.

August 13, 2023: The Nature of the Kingdom (Romans 14:10-23)

By Teacher Tips

To engage the learners in a study of the Scripture text:

Distribute copies of the “Building and Encouraging Love” exercise from the activity page, which you can download here. Have participants work in pairs to complete as indicated.

After calling time on the activity, have the class present their findings for discussion.

To encourage personal application:

Distribute copies of the “Weighing All the Angles” activity from the activity page. Have participants complete it individually (in a minute or less) before discussing conclusions in small groups.

In the World–August 13, 2023

By "In the World"

Download “In the World” for August 13, 2023 here.

REMOVING OBSTACLES TO HOUSING

Late last month, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development announced $85 million in “innovative competitive grants for communities to identify and remove barriers to affordable housing production and preservation.” Government entities at the local and state level can apply for grants ranging from $1 million to $10 million to help them improve zoning restrictions, housing policies, and the availability of affordable new homes and the preservation of existing ones. “HUD recognizes that communities have unique housing challenges,” said HUD Secretary Marcia L. Fudge in announcing the new grants. “Today, we are acting to increase the supply of affordable housing, which is crucial to lowering housing costs.”

REMOVING OBSTACLES TO FAITH

Paul wrote to the believers in Rome that they should be sensitive in their exercise of freedoms so as not to offend or upset other, especially new, Christians. For example, eating food dedicated to idols could cause some brothers and sisters to question their faith. Instead, mature Christians could exercise some of their freedoms in different circumstances to avoid putting obstacles in the way of people coming to faith. Better to temporarily not eat something than to eat it in such a way that it makes someone stumble.

  1. If you had a $10 million grant to deal with some housing issue, how would you use it?
  2. What’s something about the Christian life that an unbeliever might not understand?
  3. How can we be careful that an unbeliever or less mature Christian will not be harmed by our actions?

Additional Resources

These videos and materials are for your personal use. If you show videos in class, be sure to have the necessary rights to do so.

August 6, 2023: Inheriting the Kingdom (Galatians 5:13-26)

By Teacher Tips

To engage the learners in a study of the Scripture text:

Distribute copies of the “Acts to Avoid” exercise from the activity page, which you can download here. Have learners work in pairs to complete as indicated.

To encourage personal application:

Distribute copies of the “Yield to the Spirit” activity from the activity page. Have learners work together in pairs to complete it. After 10 minutes, bring the groups together to discuss their conclusions.

In the World–August 6, 2023

By "In the World"

Download “In the World” for August 6, 2023 here.

CONDITIONS FOR BAD FRUIT

South Carolina peach farmers are in a bad way this year. A combination of an early spring and hard freezes in March have cost them as much as seventy percent of their crop. What they have managed to harvest are mostly small, “button” peaches, which can’t be sold at market, or have pits that are difficult for machinery to remove when processing for fruit cups. “When you lose 70% of a crop,” says Ross Williams, chief operating officer of post-harvest operations at Titan Farms, “it’s difficult to be able to make ends meet at the end of the year.” Farmers are trying to keep relations with major retailers intact by providing as many peaches as they can and hoping for better in the future. “Next year, hopefully when we do have a full crop,” says Williams, “we don’t want to have missed out on a year with that retailer.”

CONDITIONS FOR GOOD FRUIT

This week’s passage includes Paul’s lists of deeds of the flesh and fruit of the Spirit. While it is tempting to think of the fruit of the Spirit as qualities we can work on and develop in our lives, Paul teaches that these things simply “grow” in us as we walk by the Spirit. We can’t make ourselves have more love, joy, or peace, but we can create conditions in our heart for those things to appear on their own by the working of the Lord.

  1. What experience, if any, do you have with farming?
  2. If you could have more of any fruit of the Spirit, which one would it be, and why?
  3. In what sense are the deeds of the flesh another sort of spiritual fruit?

Additional Resources

These videos and materials are for your personal use. If you show videos in class, be sure to have the necessary rights to do so.

July 30, 2023: Finding and Gathering (Matthew 13:44-52)

By Teacher Tips

To begin the session:

Distribute copies of “Kingdom Teaching” activity from the activity page, which you can download here. Have learners complete it individually (in a minute or less).

After calling time on the activity, have pairs discuss how easy it can be for people to place value on the wrong things. Transition to the lesson by saying, “Jesus played on people’s inaccurate perceptions of value as he taught them using parables regarding that which has ultimate value.”

To engage the learners in a study of the Scripture text:

Distribute copies of the “Inventory of Everything” activity from the activity page. Have learners complete it individually (in a minute or less) before discussing conclusions in small groups, but with no pressure to reveal private information.

In the World–July 30, 2023

By "In the World"

Download “In the World” for July 30, 2023 here.

WORTH EVERYTHING IN THE WALLET

Shohei Ohtani is an extremely talented Major League Baseball player for the Los Angeles Angels. Ohtani, originally from Japan, is setting records both as a batter and a pitcher this year. And he is nearing a time of free agency, when the pocketbooks of many MLB team owners are expected to come all the way open. Los Angeles Dodgers’ player Freddie Freeman calls Ohtani a “unicorn” whose new contract may shatter the previous high amount of over $426 million. Several people have suggested the new deal could reach $600 million. When asked what he would pay to sign Ohtani if he were an owner, Baltimore Orioles’ center-fielder Austin Hays said, “As much money as I have. I’m giving him everything that I’ve got.”

WORTH EVERYTHING YOU OWN

Today’s passage includes some striking parables in which Jesus urged believers to value the kingdom of heaven so dearly that they would be willing to give everything away in order to obtain it. Others may not understand it, but he or she is no fool who uses what is temporary to obtain what is eternal and who trades earthly belongings for heavenly treasure.

  1. If you could own any sports team in the world, what would it be, and why?
  2. When have you realized that you would pay everything you owned to gain, change, purchase, or prevent something?
  3. How can we live out our commitment to the kingdom over the things of this life?

Additional Resources

These videos and materials are for your personal use. If you show videos in class, be sure to have the necessary rights to do so.

July 23, 2023: Weeds Among the Wheat (Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43)

By Teacher Tips

To begin the session:

Distribute copies of the “Survival Recipes” activity from the activity page, which you can download here. Have learners work in pairs to complete as indicated.

After the activity, lead into Bible study by saying, “It can be hard for us to judge what things are good and what things are bad, just from outward appearances. Discerning another person’s character and their heart is even more difficult. Let’s see what Jesus had to say about his timing regarding judgment on the hearts of people.”

To encourage personal application:

Distribute copies of the “Whole Wheat Living” activity from the activity page. Have participants work in small groups to complete as indicated. If time allows, ask for representatives from each group to state their group’s responses to the questions.

Close class with a prayer asking God to help the class both to grow and be fruitful as wheat in God’s field.

In the World–July 23, 2023

By "In the World"

Download “In the World” for July 23, 2023 here.

SEPARATING OUT THE PLASTIC

A 22-year-old Irishman has taken third place in the Young Inventors Prize contest in Europe for his ingenious method of removing microplastics from water. The UN estimates that there are more than fifty-one trillion microplastic particles in the seas, a crisis that affects our food chain and, ultimately, us. Fionn Ferreira’s method mixes seawater with ferrofluid, a magnetic liquid mixture that binds to microplastic particles. A magnet draws both the ferrofluid and the plastics out of the water, removing eighty-five percent of the particles in a single pass. The plastics can be recycled, the ferrofluid can be reused, and the water is rendered safe. “This prestigious award,” Ferreira says, is “a profound acknowledgment of the urgent need to combat the devastating impact of microplastics on our planet’s water systems.”

SEPARATING OUT THE WEEDS

In Jesus’ parable of the wheat and the tares (weeds), a field where good seed was planted gets sabotaged by an enemy, who sows weeds alongside the good seed. The workers soon spot the weeds and ask the owner if they should begin weeding. But the owner instructs them to let both crops grow together, and they’ll sort one from the other in the harvest. Jesus later reveals that this is a metaphor for the people of God’s kingdom and the people of the devil, who share the earth. They will continue to live side by side until they are separated in the judgment.

  1. As a steward of the earth, what do you feel is the most pressing concern in the natural environment?
  2. What do you think Jesus means by the children of the devil?
  3. If Jesus is going to sort out these two groups, what role does evangelism or missions play?

Additional Resources

These videos and materials are for your personal use. If you show videos in class, be sure to have the necessary rights to do so.

July 16, 2023: The Sower and the Seed (Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23)

By Teacher Tips

To engage the learners in a study of the Scripture text:

Distribute copies of the “Matching Soil” exercise from the activity page, which you can download here. Have participants work in pairs to complete as indicated.

To encourage personal application:

Distribute copies of the “Paradise Gardening Service” activity from the activity page. Allow one minute for learners to complete it.

In the World–July 16, 2023

By "In the World"

Download “In the World” for July 16, 2023 here.

THE RIGHT NUTRIENTS FOR THE SOIL

In a global first, the soil in Northern Ireland’s farms is receiving free testing by the government. The massive scheme, developed by Rachel Cassidy, a scientist in the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute in Belfast, is designed to level the playing field for all farmers in Northern Ireland. By making the assessment free, all farmers can receive the comprehensive soil sampling and analysis of their fields, plus detailed erosion maps of their land. The goal is to save farmers money and improve their efficiency, especially against a backdrop of soaring costs for feed, fertilizer, and fuel. The larger goal of the scheme is to protect the environment by reducing the risk of excess fertilizer polluting nearby waterways.

THE RIGHT KIND OF SOIL

Jesus’ parable of the soils continues to resonate across the centuries. Nearly everyone can relate to the different kinds of soils: hard-packed, shallow, weedy, or receptive. Though the farmer casts the seed far and wide, dropping good seed on all sorts of soils and hearts, all it takes is a few spots of good soil, with receptive hearts—and the few spots that have truly receptive hearts will produce a tremendous harvest.

  1. What is the best government program you’ve ever heard of?
  2. How can we develop a heart of good soil that produces such a plentiful harvest in the Lord?
  3. What connection can we make, if any, between this parable and the current exodus of many young people from the church?

Additional Resources

These videos and materials are for your personal use. If you show videos in class, be sure to have the necessary rights to do so.

July 9, 2023: The Kingdom Has Come upon You (Matthew 12:22-32)

By Teacher Tips

To begin the session:

Distribute copies of “Seven Deadly Sins?” activity from the activity page, which you can download here. Have learners work in pairs to complete as indicated. Allow volunteers to share with the class how they answered.

Make a transition to the lesson by saying, “Today we are going to study a passage of Scripture that can be difficult to understand. In it we will look at a certain deadly stance toward God and his work.”

To encourage personal application:

Distribute copies of the “Arguments Against” activity from the activity page. Have learners work in small groups to complete as indicated.

In the World–July 9, 2023

By "In the World"

Download “In the World” for July 9, 2023 here.

A REGIME DIVIDED AGAINST ITSELF

Late last month saw one of the most bizarre episodes of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Putin employs a mercenary army called the Wagner Group, commanded by Yevgeny Prigozhin, who has an ongoing power struggle with Moscow’s military brass. In late June, Prigozhin accused his rivals of firing rockets at Wagner Group troops. He took his tanks and troops off the war front and turned toward Russia itself, rolling rapidly toward Moscow. Then, through negotiations behind the scenes, Prigozhin abruptly halted his tank columns and diverted to Belarus. Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky triumphantly declared, “Everyone who chooses the path of evil destroys himself…. Russia’s weakness is obvious…. And the longer Russia keeps its troops and mercenaries on our land, the more chaos, pain, and problems it will have for itself later.”

A KINGDOM DIVIDED AGAINST ITSELF

When Jesus delivered a demon-possessed man who had not been able to speak or see, the people were astonished—and the Pharisees felt jealous and threatened. They claimed that Jesus was only able to command demons because he used Satan’s power to do so. Jesus responded that the devil would never divide his forces and weaken his kingdom by letting Satan fight against Satan.

  1. What are your feelings about the war in Ukraine and the divisions within Russian top leadership?
  2. When people are feeling jealous or threatened, what are they likely to say or do?
  3. In this passage, Jesus talks about blasphemy against the Holy Spirit—what do you think that means?

Additional Resources

These videos and materials are for your personal use. If you show videos in class, be sure to have the necessary rights to do so.

July 2, 2023: Peace to the Nations (Zechariah 9:9-17)

By Teacher Tips

To begin the session:

Distribute copies of the “Attitude of Gratitude” exercise from the activity page, which you can download here. Have learners complete it individually (in a minute or less) before revealing the answers.

After calling time on the activity, invite responses to these questions: 1–What does gratitude do for us? 2–How is gratitude connected to worship? Transition by talking about how the group will be studying verses from Zechariah to discover that there is much to rejoice about and be thankful for!

To encourage personal application:

Distribute copies of “Play by the Rules” exercise from the activity page. Have participants work in groups of three or four to complete as indicated before sharing their rules with the larger group. Allow several minutes for groups to complete this activity.

In the remaining minutes, have participants each write a short prayer rejoicing and thanking God for the many wonderful qualities in Jesus, our king and Messiah.

In the World–July 2, 2023

By "In the World"

Download “In the World” for July 2, 2023 here.

THE CROWN JEWELS OF SCOTLAND

Every year, the monarch of the United Kingdom pays a week-long visit to Scotland to celebrate Scottish culture, community, and contributions. This year is special because the UK has a new king and queen. King Charles and Queen Camilla are scheduled to be Edinburgh this week, where amidst much pomp and a twenty-one-gun salute, Charles will be presented with “The Honours of Scotland,” England’s oldest crown jewels. The first monarch to be crowned with it was Mary Queen of Scots in 1543. The crown and accompanying scepter and sword of state are made of gold, silver, and precious gems.

THE CROWN JEWELS OF GOD

In today’s passage, we study Zechariah’s prophecy of rejoicing for the Jewish exiles returning to Jerusalem. This chapter contains the messianic prophecy about the king coming to Jerusalem mounted on the foal of a donkey. Zechariah also says that God’s people will glitter in Jerusalem like jewels in a crown.

  1. What royal ceremony anywhere in the world would you love to be present to witness, if any?
  2. While that celebration is going on in Scotland, Americans will be celebrating Independence Day. What are your plans?
  3. Which biblical metaphor or word picture, like today’s simile of jewels in a crown, is your favorite?

Additional Resources

These videos and materials are for your personal use. If you show videos in class, be sure to have the necessary rights to do so.

June 25, 2023: Renewed in God’s Love (Zephaniah 3:14-20)

By Teacher Tips

To engage the learners in a study of the Scripture text:

Distribute copies of the “Power and Promises” exercise from the activity page, which you can download here. Have participants work in groups of three or four to complete as indicated. After 15 minutes bring the class together to discuss their findings.

To encourage personal application:

Distribute copies of the “Viral Rejoicing” activity from the activity page. Have learners work in pairs or trios to complete as indicated.

In the World–June 25, 2023

By "In the World"

Download “In the World” for June 25, 2023 here.

CONVICTION OVERTURNED

Back in 2003, someone robbed a Walgreens store at gunpoint in Dania Beach, Florida. A witness tentatively identified 33-year-old Leonard Cure as someone who might’ve been the robber. There was evidence that Cure was miles away at the time of the crime, but a jury nevertheless convicted him, and he was given a lifetime sentence plus ten years. This month, however, the state attorney’s office got the entire case thrown out, and Cure was not only released from prison after sixteen years but was also granted record compensation of $817,000 and 120 hours of college tuition and fees. “No amount of money will get those years back for Mr. Cure or give him peace,” said Broward State Attorney Harold Pryor, “but it is a small gesture that recognizes Mr. Cure was wronged.”

PUNISHMENT RESCINDED

After years spent in Babylonian exile because of the rebellion and idolatry of the people of Judea, God promised through Zephaniah to bring them home. The Lord announced his intention to cancel his punishment, cease his rebuke, and deal with any who had oppressed them. God’s discipline of his people was not without end.

  1. What’s the worst case of injustice you know of? How should things have gone instead?
  2. When have you felt the Lord’s discipline?
  3. This passage depicts the Lord rejoicing over his people with singing. What do you think that means?

Additional Resources

These videos and materials are for your personal use. If you show videos in class, be sure to have the necessary rights to do so.

June 18, 2023: God’s Servant-King (Ezekiel 37:21-28)

By Teacher Tips

To begin the session:

Distribute copies of the “What’s in a Word?” exercise from the activity page, which you can download here. Have learners work in pairs to complete as indicated.

After the activity, transition to the Bible study. Say, “In this week’s lesson, notice how God brings his people together, gives them a dwelling place, and makes them strong.”

To encourage personal application:

Distribute copies of the “United Forever” activity from the activity page. Have participants work in pairs to complete as indicated. Then bring the class together to discuss how the various puzzle pieces work together. Have learners color in one piece that isn’t an accurate description of his or her experience in God’s kingdom. Ask the partners to pray for one another regarding the growth area(s) they both identified.

In the World–June 18, 2023

By "In the World"

Download “In the World” for June 18, 2023 here.

COMING OUT OF A COMA

British eleven-year-old Tom White was struck by a police van this month and left in critical condition. The boy spent nearly a week on life support and then began waking from his coma. As his family awaited Tom’s full awakening, when they could find out his long-term prognosis, they launched a Facebook page to collect videos and notes from well-wishers. Among the many contributors was WBC heavyweight boxing champion Tyson Fury. Fury’s personal video shows the British boxer saying, “Keep fighting, Tom! All the best. Get recovered. See you soon, buddy. God bless.” When Tom comes to his senses, God willing, he will have many such treasures to discover.

COMING TO THEIR SENSES

The Babylonian exile had taught the Jewish people a costly lesson about turning away from God to idols. The Lord spoke through the prophet Ezekiel, promising to gather the Israelites from all the nations they’d been scattered to and to bring them back to their own land, where they would be united again and ruled by a king from the line of David. All these benefits awaited them if they would come to their senses and put their idolatry behind them forever.

  1. Why do you think even busy celebrities go out of their way to help young people sometimes?
  2. What was your most memorable Father’s Day?
  3. When did you realize that you needed to put something behind you?

Additional Resources

These videos and materials are for your personal use. If you show videos in class, be sure to have the necessary rights to do so.

June 11, 2023: God’s Kingdom of Peace (Isaiah 65:17-25)

By Teacher Tips

To begin the session:

Distribute copies of the “Word Transformation” exercise from the activity page, which you can download here. Have learners work in pairs to complete as indicated. (Option: This exercise can be done as a race. Do as many rounds as time allows.)

After the activity, say, “Transformation often happens in stages, but it can bring about dramatic changes. In today’s lesson, look for the ways God promises to transform his creation.”

To engage the learners in a study of the Scripture text:

Distribute copies of the “Reverse the Curse” exercise from the activity page. Have learners complete it individually (in one minute or less) before discussing conclusions with a partner. Allow additional time for pairs to share and discuss their responses and thoughts with the whole group.

In the World–June 11, 2023

By "In the World"

Download “In the World” for June 11, 2023 here.

A BRIGHT FUTURE FOR 3D PRINTING AND SPACEFLIGHT

A few weeks ago, Terran 1, the world’s first full-sized 3D-printed rocket, blasted off from Cape Canaveral, Florida. It was a maiden test flight of the rocket prototype, which at the time was the largest 3D-printed object in the world, at 110 feet tall and 7.5 feet wide. The unmanned rocket launched and successfully endured Max-Q, the moment of most intense vibration during ascent, proving that 3D-printed rocketry is robust and viable. The vehicle had an “anomaly” later in the flight, causing it to fail to reach orbit. But as a test flight, it was highly successful, and the manufacturer, Relativity Space, incorporated lessons learned and is already moving to its next-stage prototype, the Terran R rocket, and sees a bright future for 3D-printed space technology.

A BRIGHT FUTURE FOR ISRAEL AND JERUSALEM

In our passage today, the Lord paints a picture of a day when God’s people will live in complete peace and joy. Children will not die shortly after childbirth in this future, and lifespans will be such that if someone doesn’t reach 100 years of age, it will seem very strange indeed. They will build houses and live in them, and they will have such a measure of peace that even the wolf and the lamb will dwell together in harmony. Such will the future be for those who belong to the Lord.

  1. If someone gave you the opportunity to ride a rocket into orbit, what would you say?
  2. What would perfect peace and harmony look like to you?
  3. How does knowing what heaven may be like change your life on earth?

Additional Resources

These videos and materials are for your personal use. If you show videos in class, be sure to have the necessary rights to do so.

June 4, 2023: God Reigns (Isaiah 52:7-12)

By Teacher Tips

To engage the learners in a study of the Scripture text:

Distribute copies of the “Exciting Announcement” exercise from the activity page, which you can download here. Have pairs complete the exercise as indicated.

To encourage personal application:

Distribute the “Good News for Me” exercise from the activity page. Have learners complete it individually (in a minute or less) before discussing the sheet in small groups. End with the small groups praying together. Encourage participants to take the handout home to remind them to share the gospel this week.

In the World–June 4, 2023

By "In the World"

Download “In the World” for June 4, 2023 here.

VETERAN ESCORTED BY POLICE

Last month, just before his 95th birthday, WWII veteran John Powell got a special ride through his home city. Back in 1945, young John Powell turned 17 and promptly enlisted for the Navy. But on May 15 of this year, he rode through downtown Greenfield, Indiana, in a 1948 MG TC Roadster convertible escorted by police and cheered by all who saw the little parade pass by. Representatives from the Greenfield Veterans Honor Guard presented Powell with an American flag, and the town’s mayor presented him with the city’s Distinguished Citizen Award. “I’m grateful,” said Powell as he shook the mayor’s hand. “There are no words.”

ISRAEL ESCORTED BY THE LORD

Now that the Babylonian Empire had been overthrown, the Israelites heard that they would soon be able to return to Jerusalem. In today’s passage, the Lord promises to be both their vanguard and their rearguard, allowing them to make the journey without fear of ambush or attack.

  1. Who is the oldest person you have ever met?
  2. What’s the most unusual car you’ve ever ridden in?
  3. How would your actions or decisions change if you knew God was going both before and behind you?

Additional Resources

These videos and materials are for your personal use. If you show videos in class, be sure to have the necessary rights to do so.

May 28, 2023: Saul of Tarsus (Acts 9:9-17)

By Teacher Tips

To engage the learners in a study of the Scripture text:

Distribute copies of the “Before and After” exercise, which you can download here. Have groups work to complete as indicated.

Another option is to distribute copies of the “Called to Suffering” exercise from the activity page. Have small groups complete as indicated before sharing conclusions with the whole class.

Allow a few minutes for groups to share specific learnings about Saul with the whole class.

In the World–May 28, 2023

By "In the World"

Download “In the World” for May 28, 2023 here.

KINDNESS TO A LEGAL ENEMY

Last month, a years-long legal battle involving actress Gwyneth Paltrow concluded in her favor. On the slopes of a Utah ski resort in 2016, Paltrow and another skier, Terry Sanderson (now 76), collided, resulting in injuries to Mr. Sanderson. He sued her for $3.1 million, and she counter-sued for one dollar plus attorney fees. After a highly publicized court trial last month, the jury sided with Paltrow. On her way out of the courtroom, the actress went to Mr. Sanderson and, rather than gloating, told him, “I wish you well.” Sanderson responded, “Thank you, dear,” and later characterized Paltrow’s gesture as “very kind.”

KINDNESS TO A SPIRITUAL ENEMY

Saul the Pharisee had been blinded in a divine encounter on the road to Damascus. The Lord had rendered him blind in order to open his eyes. Jesus appeared in a vision to a faithful discipled named Ananias, instructing him to go lay hands on Saul to regain his vision and bestow the Holy Spirit. Ananias, quite naturally perhaps, asked the Lord for clarification. But God sent him to his former enemy to make him a brother.

  1. What is a celebrity encounter you have had?
  2. When have you or others doubted whether someone had actually become a Christian?
  3. How have you acted with Christ’s love toward someone you formerly considered an enemy?

Additional Resources

These videos and materials are for your personal use. If you show videos in class, be sure to have the necessary rights to do so.

May 21, 2023: An Ethiopian Is Baptized (Acts 8:29-40)

By Teacher Tips

To begin the session:

Distribute copies of the “Other Old Testament Prophecies” exercise from the activity page, which you can download here. Have learners complete it individually (in a minute or less) before discussing conclusions in small groups.

Say, “Today we will consider an unexpected visit by a believer in Jesus to someone who did not understand the gospel.”

To engage the learners in a study of the Scripture text:

Distribute copies of the “One of Several Baptisms” activity from the activity page. Have groups work together to complete as indicated before discussing their answer to the question posed there.

In the World–May 21, 2023

By "In the World"

Download “In the World” for May 21, 2023 here.

HAPPY COINCIDENCE AT THE CORONATION

Earlier this month, England held the coronation ceremony for King Charles at Westminster Abbey. It was a spectacle of pomp and history, but what caught the attention of many was all the blue and yellow in the ceremony. Several members of the royal family and distinguished guests, including First Lady Jill Biden, wore blue or yellow, and the interior of the abbey itself was decorated in blue and yellow carpets. With the war in Ukraine in the news, and the first lady of Ukraine in attendance, the prominent display of the colors of the Ukrainian flag was a welcome sight to many. “I saw Ukraine there,” said Dame Melinda Simmons, Britain’s Ambassador to Ukraine, about the carpets, “and lost my composure for a minute.” A Palace spokesman described it all as “a happy coincidence.”

HAPPY COINCIDENCE ON A DUSTY ROAD

In the early days of the Church, one of its leaders—Philip—was led by the Holy Spirit to leave Jerusalem and approach a certain chariot that was traveling slowly along the dusty road. Philip approached the chariot and, in a beautiful example of God’s coordination and timing, overheard the passenger, an official from the Ethiopian royal court, reading aloud from the book of Isaiah. It happened to be Isaiah 53, which is a clear Messianic prophecy. Philip engaged the Ethiopian, and it led to the man becoming a baptized follower of the Lord.

  1. What’s the most bizarre coincidence you’ve ever heard of?
  2. How do you respond to this quote by William Temple, Archbishop of Canterbury in the 1940s: “When I pray, coincidences happen, and when I don’t, they don’t”?
  3. When have you felt most directly guided by the Holy Spirit?

Additional Resources

These videos and materials are for your personal use. If you show videos in class, be sure to have the necessary rights to do so.

May 14, 2023: Jumping for Joy (Acts 3:1-11)

By Teacher Tips

To engage the learners in a study of the Scripture text:

Distribute copies of the “Look Me in the Eye!” exercise from the activity page, which you can download here. Have learners work together in pairs to complete as indicated.

To encourage personal application:

Distribute copies of the “Signs of the Times” activity from the activity page. Have learners complete the activity in small groups before discussing conclusions with the whole class.

After the activity, distribute an index card and a pen to each learner. Have them write a prayer for the following needs: 1–Clarity for how to best meet the perceived needs of people in the community. 2–The desire to share the gospel with the people of your community. 3– Discernment to know how to do both.

Encourage learners to place these prayers in a visible location where they will be seen throughout the upcoming week.

In the World–May 14, 2023

By "In the World"

Download “In the World” for May 14, 2023 here.

TRADING UP FOR EDGE PRESSURE

In Kansas City last month, the NFL draft took place. In the third round, the Carolina Panthers traded the Pittsburgh Steelers a late fourth-round draft in exchange for the eightieth overall pick. The Panthers wanted University of Oregon outside linebacker DJ Johnson, and they were concerned he wouldn’t still be available when their next pick—at ninety-three overall—came around. Johnson fits well with the new defensive scheme the Panthers are adopting, which benefits from multiple edge rushers who can get to the quarterback. “This was one of the teams that I liked and wanted to go to,” Johnson said of the Panthers. “I am super excited. Super juiced. This is one of my dream spots, for sure.”

TRADING UP FOR LEGS THAT WORK

One day not long after the Day of Pentecost, Peter and John were hailed by a paralyzed man begging for money at one of the gates to the temple. The man was hoping for silver or gold to help him get by one more day, just as he’d done most of the days of his life, having been paralyzed since birth. But Peter offered him the chance to trade up for something much better than coins. He offered him the chance, in the name of Jesus Christ, to gain the use of his legs. He accepted, and his legs and ankles were miraculously healed. He leapt and cavorted and shouted praise to God, and a crowd ran up to see this miracle.

  1. What are your feelings about the NFL or other pro sports leagues?
  2. When have you seen God give someone something greater than they’d dared hope for?
  3. In what ways has your life with the Lord been a “trade up” from the life you had before?

Additional Resources

These videos and materials are for your personal use. If you show videos in class, be sure to have the necessary rights to do so.

May 7, 2023: The Day of Pentecost (Acts 2:1-8, 14-24, 37-39)

By Teacher Tips

To engage the learners in a study of the Scripture text:

Distribute copies of the “Baptism in Scripture” exercise from the activity page, which you can download here. Have learners work in small groups to complete as indicated.

To encourage personal application:

Distribute copies of the “Power, Power!” activity from the activity page. Have learners complete the activity in pairs before discussing answers in whole-class discussion.

After calling time for the activity, distribute index cards and pens to each learner. Ask learners to write a prayer based on the following prompt:

Lord, help me be attentive to the influence of the Holy Spirit. Empower me through the Holy Spirit to follow Jesus boldly this week as I . . .

Encourage learners to place the cards in a location where they will notice the prayers throughout the week.

In the World–May 7, 2023

By "In the World"

Download “In the World” for May 7, 2023 here.

CALLING ON A NEIGHBOR TO BE SAVED

Late last month, video footage was released from body cameras of first responders who rushed to save the life of actor Jeremy Renner on New Year’s Day. Renner, who played Hawkeye in the Avengers movies of superheroes, was run over by his own snowcat while attempting to rescue his nephew, Alex Fries. The 13,500 lb. vehicle ran him over, breaking more than thirty bones and crushing him nearly to death. In the footage, Fries explains what happened, and first responders are amazed to find Renner still alive. Desperate to find help, Fries spotted the legs of neighbor Rich Kovach through a partially opened garage door. Fries yelled and even grabbed Kovach’s ankle to get his attention, so someone could call 911. Renner has had several surgeries and has a long road ahead, but he is determined to fully recover.

CALLING ON THE LORD TO BE SAVED

On the day of Pentecost, God poured out the Holy Spirit onto the believers gathered in Jerusalem. They began speaking in foreign languages they had never learned, astonishing the crowd that had come to the city for the feast. Peter addressed the entire throng, telling them that in this miracle the Lord was fulfilling his promise concerning Jesus Christ, the Messiah—whom they had killed—and was offering pardon and salvation to anyone who would repent and call upon the name of Jesus in faith.

  1. What’s the most serious accident you’ve ever heard of anyone recovering from?
  2. How might you pray for Jeremy Renner and everyone involved in that event?
  3. What do you think it would’ve been like to have been in the crowd on the day of Pentecost?

Additional Resources

These videos and materials are for your personal use. If you show videos in class, be sure to have the necessary rights to do so.

April 30, 2023: Jesus Makes a Promise (Acts 1:1-11)

By Teacher Tips

To engage the learners in a study of the Scripture text:

Distribute copies of the “In the Cloud” exercise from the activity page, which you can download here. Have learners work in pairs to complete as indicated. Have pairs share with the whole class their answers to the last two questions.

To encourage personal application:

Distribute copies of the “Circles of Influence” activity from the activity page. Have learners work in small groups to complete as indicated.

End class by placing learners in pairs and having them pray for guidance for how they might rededicate themselves to the work that Jesus has given them to accomplish the gospel mandate.

In the World–April 30, 2023

By "In the World"

Download “In the World” for April 30, 2023 here.

THE PROMISE OF ELECTRICAL POWER

This month, rain and high winds knocked out power to twenty thousand Michigan residents, just as a cold front moved in. DTE Energy deployed more than 160 crews on the day of the storm, and by 2:00 p.m. the next day, power had been restored to 99.9% of their customers. We expect that sort of responsiveness from utility companies, as a CEO of another power company makes plain: “As an electric utility, our responsibility is to provide reliable power to our customers,” said Kevin Thornton, CEO of Southern Maryland Electric Cooperative. “That’s the promise we make, and we take it very seriously.”

THE PROMISE OF SPIRITUAL POWER

Today’s passage describes a time after the Resurrection but before the Ascension, when Jesus ate a meal with his followers. They pressed him for information about what was going to happen next, but Jesus told them to wait in Jerusalem until the promised Holy Spirit came upon them in power. Then they would know what to do, and it would be to take the good news outward from there until it reached the ends of the earth. But they could not accomplish that task without power from above.

  1. When were you most affected by the absence of electricity, water, or some other utility?
  2. What’s a task you simply didn’t have the power to accomplish on your own, and how did you eventually manage it?
  3. What questions would you have had for Jesus if you’d been eating with him after the Resurrection?

Additional Resources

These videos and materials are for your personal use. If you show videos in class, be sure to have the necessary rights to do so.

April 23, 2023:Jesus Reinstates Peter (John 21:15-19)

By Teacher Tips

To begin the session:

Divide the class into small groups. Distribute copies of the “Sheep, Sheep, Shepherd” exercise from the activity page, which you can download here. Have learners complete it individually in one minute or less before discussing questions with small groups. Bring the groups back together before transitioning to the Bible study by saying, “In today’s lesson we’ll discover what Peter learned about being a shepherd.”

To encourage personal application:

Distribute copies of the “Revised Hollywood Ending” activity from the activity page. Have learners complete as indicated.

In the World–April 23, 2023

By "In the World"

Download “In the World” for April 23, 2023 here.

REINSTATED AFTER THEFT

The city manager of Brookings, the southernmost city on the Oregon coast, was reinstated last month after pleading no contest to a charge of theft after allegedly shoplifting from an area grocery store. Janell Howard repaid the store for the items she is accused of taking and paid a $500 fine. But Brookings locals report feeling “betrayed” that she was given her old job back. “What message does that send to our at-risk youth that are trying to negotiate the system?” wondered Brookings resident Jan Miller. “That it’s okay to be a thief?” Concerned citizens vowed to hold a recall on all elected city council members who supported the reinstatement. That includes the mayor, said Miller. “We’re going to recall them all.”

REINSTATED AFTER BETRAYAL

After denying three times that he was Jesus’ disciple, and after watching his Lord crucified and buried, Peter’s remorse weighed heavily upon him. Even the reports of Jesus’ resurrection had not brought relief from his sorrow. So when the risen Christ appeared to several disciples on the shores of the Sea of Galilee and asked if Peter loved him, Peter saw his chance to seek forgiveness. His three denials were canceled by three new protestations of his devotion to Jesus, and Peter was reinstated as leader of the newborn church.

  1. Under what conditions would you consider reinstating a public official—or religious leader—who is guilty of a crime?
  2. What cases could be made that Peter should or should not have been reinstated to lead the church?
  3. How can we balance prudence with Christ’s forgiveness of us as we consider reinstating Christian leaders who fall?

Additional Resources

These videos and materials are for your personal use. If you show videos in class, be sure to have the necessary rights to do so.

April 16, 2023: Jesus Cooks Breakfast (John 21:1-14)

By Teacher Tips

To begin the session:

Distribute copies of the “Word for Word” exercise from the activity page, which you can download here. Have learners complete it individually in one minute or less before discussing in small groups. Transition to the Bible study by saying, “Today’s lesson will show us how the concepts of trust, belief, faith, and obedience are interrelated.”

To encourage personal application:

Distribute copies of the “I See Jesus” exercise from the activity page. Have learners complete it as directed.

After the activity, invite learners to write a prayer for eyes to recognize Jesus at work. Encourage participants to refer to their prayer throughout the week.

In the World–April 16, 2023

By "In the World"

Download “In the World” for April 16, 2023 here.

ENTHUSIASTIC DIVE IN MICHIGAN

Five years ago, Michigan native Chris Roxburgh was paddleboarding on Lake Michigan when he saw in the waters beneath him a ghostly sunken ship. It turned out he’d discovered the wreck of the George Rogers, a tugboat that sank in 1914. The wreck had never been found because researchers had looked in deeper waters. A week later, and without any training but full of excitement, Roxburgh went back to the spot with a wetsuit and a GoPro camera. His photos and video of the wreck were instantly hailed by local, and then national, media. The thrill of the discovery and his sudden fame convinced Roxburgh that he’d just found his new passion. Five years later, he is a certified scuba diver and a leading expert on photographing deep shipwrecks in the Great Lakes, featured in national publications and on The History Channel.

ENTHUSIASTIC DIVE IN GALILEE

After Jesus’ resurrection, Simon Peter and half a dozen other disciples spent the night fishing on the Sea of Galilee. As the morning dawned and the boat neared land, they spotted a man on the shore beside a cookfire. When Peter understood that it was Jesus, the one he’d so badly failed only a few days before, he threw himself into the water and swam a hundred yards to reach his Lord.

  1. What do you think it would feel like to make a significant historical discovery?
  2. Despite proof of Jesus’ resurrection, Peter still seems troubled—why do you think that was?
  3. When have you felt desperate to get back to Jesus as quickly as possible?

Additional Resources

These videos and materials are for your personal use. If you show videos in class, be sure to have the necessary rights to do so.

April 9, 2023: Disciples Believe the Resurrection (Luke 24:13-27, 30-31)

By Teacher Tips

To begin the session:

Distribute copies of the “Did It Happen?” exercise from the activity page, which you can download here. Have learners work in pairs to complete as indicated.

After completing the activity, lead into Bible study by saying, “Last week’s lesson was the first of two parts. This week we’ll continue the story and consider how some of Jesus’ followers were provided with an unexpected corrective.”

To engage the learners in a study of the Scripture text:

Distribute copies of the “Extra! Extra!” exercise from the active page, which you can download. Have learners work in pairs to complete as indicated. After 10 minutes, have pairs present their articles to the whole class.

In the World–April 9, 2023

By "In the World"

Download “In the World” for April 9, 2023 here.

DETERMINED TO BELIEVE

Last month, the men’s basketball team from San Diego State University (SDSU) won their quarterfinals game against Creighton University to move into the Final Four for the first time in the school’s history. With the game tied and the final period ticking down to overtime, Creighton committed a foul, sending SDSU star Darrion Trammell to the free-throw line with only 1.2 seconds left. Trammell missed the first shot and then took a deep breath. After the game, he was asked what went through his mind right then. “That the moment wasn’t too big for me,” he said. “Through everything I’ve been through, I feel like the opportunity was just set there for me. It was God’s timing. I just had to believe in that.” He sank the second shot, and SDSU won by one point.

SLOW TO BELIEVE

On the first Easter Sunday, Jesus’ disciples heard from Mary and the other women who had seen the angels that Jesus was alive. They themselves found the tomb empty. But evidently, two of Christ’s disciples did not believe this meant Jesus had defeated death. Though Jesus’ resurrection changed everything, opening the way for his followers to rise to life as he had, still his closest disciples did not believe that the empty tomb meant Jesus had overcome death and become the firstborn among many more to follow.

  1. When has belief (in God, in yourself, or in someone else) helped in a critical moment?
  2. What factors went into the disciples’ slowness to believe that Jesus had risen from the dead?
  3. Why do we sometimes still live in defeat or fear even though Jesus has overcome the grave?

Additional Resources

These videos and materials are for your personal use. If you show videos in class, be sure to have the necessary rights to do so.

April 2, 2023: The Empty Tomb (Luke 24:1-12)

By Teacher Tips

To begin the session:

Distribute copies of the “Multiple Lenses” exercise from the activity page, which you can download here. Have learners work in groups of four to complete as indicated.

After the activity, transition to Bible study by saying, “Today’s Scripture will examine the nature of human expectations and the reality of when those expectations are not met—for the better!”

To engage the learners in a study of the Scripture text:

Distribute copies of the “What’s the Story?” exercise from the activity page. Have learners work in groups to complete as indicated.

In the World–April 2, 2023

By "In the World"

Download “In the World” for April 2, 2023 here.

THE EMPTY HOMES

In Hong Kong, forty thousand small housing units sit empty. Some were occupied briefly for COVID-19 quarantine stays during the pandemic. But nearly two-thirds of them were never occupied, having been finished after the need diminished, and one was just officially shut in March. This in a city of seven million residents where 1.4 million live below the poverty line and many need subsidized housing. While the average new home sells for over a million dollars, and hundreds of thousands of people wait five years or more for housing, all these quarantine units remain empty. Some critics theorize that the government obtains so much income from house prices being high that it is intentionally slow to ease the housing problem and thus drive down home prices. A government spokesperson said that future plans for the empty units “will be announced after a decision is made.”

THE EMPTY TOMB

When the women got to the tomb to anoint the body of Jesus, they found the stone rolled away and no sign of Jesus. They saw angels, heard about the resurrection, and ran to tell the disciples. Not knowing what to think, Peter ran to the tomb and he too found it empty. Even when we believe, we can still be astonished when God moves in power.

  1. What’s an example of government doing a good job for its citizens?
  2. What questions do you have about the resurrection of Jesus?
  3. When have you believed that something would happen and yet you were still surprised when it did?

Additional Resources

These videos and materials are for your personal use. If you show videos in class, be sure to have the necessary rights to do so.

March 26, 2023: Jesus Overpowers Legion (Mark 5:1-13, 18-20)

By Teacher Tips

To engage the learners in a study of the Scripture text:

Distribute copies of the “The Ultimate Spiritual Makeover” exercise from the activity page, which you can download here. Have learners complete as directed in one minute or less before discussing with their small groups.

To encourage personal application:

Distribute the “Before and After” activity page to each participant. Encourage them to take it home to complete this week. Ask volunteers to be prepared to share their testimonies at the beginning of the next lesson.

Divide the class into small groups. Encourage learners to discuss a plan for sharing their “before and after” testimonies with at least one person this week.

Conclude class time by praying for opportunities, courage, and wisdom to share these testimonies. Be sure to allow time next week for learners to share their experience.

In the World–March 26, 2023

By "In the World"

Download “In the World” for March 26, 2023 here.

DELIVERANCE AND THE JESUS REVOLUTION

Jesus Revolution is a current movie about the Jesus Movement of the 1970s, especially as it involved Pastor Chuck Smith’s church in California. The real-life instigator of the movement at Smith’s church was Lonnie Frisbee, a hippie played in the movie by Jonathan Roumie (who also portrays Jesus in The Chosen). Frisbee’s early life had been marked by brutal beatings by his father and molestation by a babysitter. The young man turned to drugs and homosexuality before becoming radically saved by the Lord. Later, Frisbee fell away from the faith. But near the end of his life, he repented and found deliverance from the Lord he’d inspired so many to follow. His final release came in 1993 when he died from AIDS at age 43.

DELIVERANCE AT THE HANDS OF JESUS

Today’s passage depicts the demon-possessed man who lived in the country of the Gerasenes. The legion of demons gave him tremendous strength, allowing him to break free from shackles and chains. But it wasn’t until Jesus set foot on the shore that he could truly be delivered from his torment. When Jesus delivered him from possession, all the man wanted to do was follow the Lord. But Jesus sent him home to testify about what God had done for him.

  1. If you were aware of it at the time, what did you think of the Jesus Movement as it was happening?
  2. Why do you think Jesus sent the man home rather than letting him become a follower?
  3. In what ways has Jesus delivered you?

Additional Resources

These videos and materials are for your personal use. If you show videos in class, be sure to have the necessary rights to do so.

March 19, 2023: Jesus Talks with a Samaritan (John 4:7-15, 28-30, 39-41)

By Teacher Tips

To begin the session:

Divide learners into small groups. Distribute the “Satisfaction Guaranteed” exercise from the activity page, which you can download here. After allowing a couple of minutes for groups to complete as directed, reveal the correct answers.

To encourage personal application:

Distribute copies of the “Evangelistic Elements” activity from the activity page. Have learners work in small groups to complete as indicated. Not all answers need to be filled out. Encourage participants to finish the sheet at home during the week, to be discussed at the beginning of class next week.

Conclude by reading aloud John 4:42 and having small groups pray that their witness would have this effect on others.

In the World–March 19, 2023

By "In the World"

Download “In the World” for March 19, 2023 here.

THE BOUNDARY BETWEEN HUMAN AND ROBOT

Science fiction authors have long predicted the moment when artificial intelligence (AI) becomes as capable and intelligent as humans. We have not reached that point yet, but a new AI program called ChatGPT has made a huge leap in that direction. ChatGPT lets you enter questions or commands in a way similar to how you might do a Google search, and then you watch as it instantly researches, synthesizes, and types out a well-written response. Whether you want it to summarize the book of Galatians, list the top five themes of the works of Shakespeare, or write a letter to your congressman, ChatGPT can do it almost as quickly as you can type the command. College professors now have to try to determine if term papers were written by their students or by this program. Though we are more capable than AI in many respects, the time when we can easily define the boundary between something written by humans and robots is past.

THE BOUNDARY BETWEEN SAVED AND LOST

Because of a long history of hatred, invasion, intermarriage, and religious disagreement, Jewish people in the first century did not willingly interact with Samaritans. The boundary between Israel and Samaria was well known by both parties, and each stayed away from the other. But Jesus not only crossed the border and went into a Samaritan town, he also broke the barrier between Jewish rabbi and unaccompanied Samaritan woman—so that he could reach a woman who was desperately lost.

  1. What opportunities or dangers do you see in the advances being made in artificial intelligence?
  2. Who might be today’s equivalent to the Samaritan woman?
  3. What boundaries would you be willing to cross to bring the gospel to someone who needs it?

Additional Resources

These videos and materials are for your personal use. If you show videos in class, be sure to have the necessary rights to do so.

March 12, 2023: The Greatest in the Kingdom (Matthew 18:1-9)

By Teacher Tips

To begin the session:

Divide participants into three groups. Distribute copies of the “What to Remove” exercise from the activity page, which you can download here. Have groups work to complete as indicated.

After the activity, lead into the Bible study by saying, “Being ‘like a child’ can mean different things. In today’s text from Matthew, we consider which of these ideas Jesus meant when he was teaching his followers.”

To encourage personal application:

Distribute copies of the “Humble Behavior” activity from the activity page. Have learners complete it individually (in a minute or less) before dividing into pairs. Give pairs time to pray for each other’s plan to show humility throughout the week.

At the beginning of the next lesson, ask volunteers to share what happened when they practiced humble behavior during the week.

In the World–March 12, 2023

By "In the World"

Download “In the World” for March 12, 2023 here.

A FATAL STUMBLE

Changes may be coming to equestrian events after the tragic death of Irish rider Tiggy Hancock (15) in 2001. An inquiry last month found that the trained showjumping horse the young girl was riding could not see a jump bar. This led to a tumble in which horse and rider flipped. Tiggy landed on the ground first and the horse fell on top of her, crushing her chest and one lung, leading to her death. Her mother, who witnessed the fall, said the obstacle was “brown water with a brown jump and brown sand.” Tiggy is remembered as an accomplished rider and rising star in Irish equestrian sport. The family welcomes the call to use contrasting colors so both horse and rider can see obstacles, hopefully avoiding future tragedy.

AN ETERNAL STUMBLE

In today’s passage, Jesus drives home the importance of not stumbling and not causing others to stumble. To follow Jesus in humility and devotion is the way to enter the kingdom of heaven, and nothing must be allowed to be an obstacle to this. The stakes can be eternal. He urges us to prefer entry into the kingdom over anything on earth—and to be sure not to block others as they seek to get in.

  1. What experience do you have with horses?
  2. If you could suggest a safety improvement to any sport or activity, what would it be?
  3. Why did Jesus use such disturbing imagery in today’s passage?

Additional Resources

These videos and materials are for your personal use. If you show videos in class, be sure to have the necessary rights to do so.

March 5, 2023: The Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-24)

By Teacher Tips

To begin the session:

Distribute copies of the “Would You Rather?” exercise from the activity page, which you can download here. Have learners complete it individually in a minute or less before discussing conclusions in whole-class discussion.

After the activity, lead into the Bible study by saying, “All decisions have consequences. As we read the parable in today’s Scripture, consider how your decisions would be similar to or different from the decisions made by each character.”

To engage the learners in a study of the Scripture text:

Option 1: Distribute copies of the “If You Ask Me” activity from the activity page. Have learners complete prompts 1 and 2. After one minute, discuss responses in whole-class discussion.

Have the groups read Luke 15:14-19 and write a second diary entry based on their character’s perspective in these specific verses. Encourage groups to creatively consider the consequences of their character’s decisions. After several minutes, ask a volunteer from each group to read their group’s diary entry to the whole class.

Option 2: Have learners complete prompts 3 and 4 on the “If You Ask Me” activity page. After one minute, invite volunteers to share their responses and explain how the responses are similar to or different from the parable’s narrative.

Have the groups read Luke 15:20-24 and write a third diary entry based on their character’s perspective in these specific verses. Encourage groups to consider their character’s treatment of the other character, given what feelings and beliefs might have been behind the actions. After several minutes, ask a volunteer from each group to read their group’s diary entry to the whole class.

Option 3: Have participants complete prompts 5 and 6 on the “If You Ask Me” activity page. After one minute, invite volunteers to share their responses and how the responses best connect with the characters or events of the parable.

In the World–March 5, 2023

By "In the World"

Download “In the World” for March 5, 2023 here.

REGRETS OVER LEAVING A JOB

In 2021, partially due to the disruptions of COVID-19, 47 million Americans quit their jobs, and the trend has not entirely ended. This unprecedented shift in the workforce was dubbed The Great Resignation. But a recent survey found that for most of those who quit, it has become The Great Regret. The survey, performed by HR company Paychex, found that eighty percent of employees who left their jobs during this period feel that they made a mistake, and sixty-eight percent have tried to get their old jobs back. Workers who resigned reported missing co-workers, having lower pay, and finding less work satisfaction in a new job as compared to the previous one. Only twenty-seven percent of those trying to get rehired at their old places of employment have succeeded.

REGRETS OVER LEAVING HOME

Jesus’ parable of the prodigal son follows a similar trajectory. Thinking the grass was greener out in a faraway country where he could be master of his own time and finances, the young protagonist strikes out and lives the high life. Until the money runs out. But at his lowest point, he comes to his senses and determines to go home, humbly and with newfound gratitude over what his father had provided all along.

  1. What’s a workplace or relational decision that you came to regret?
  2. When have you made a big change that was definitely a good one?
  3. What is your favorite aspect of the prodigal son story?

Additional Resources

These videos and materials are for your personal use. If you show videos in class, be sure to have the necessary rights to do so.

February 26, 2023: Results of the Call (1 Peter 2:1-10)

By Teacher Tips

To begin the session:

Distribute copies of the “Which Category?” exercise from the activity page, which you can download here. Have students complete it as directed.

After the activity, say, “Our identity is composed out of many facets of personality and experience. In today’s text, Peter gives us metaphors for categories that help us better understand our identity as Christians.”

To encourage personal application:

Distribute copies of the “Set Apart” activity from the activity page. Encourage students to finish the activity as a take-home.

In the World–February 26, 2023

By "In the World"

Download “In the World” for February 26, 2023 here.

REJECTED PHONE CALL

Earlier this month, the United States military shot down several objects thought to be unmanned Chinese spy balloons in the airspace of the US and Canada. The first incident was the downing of a very large balloon at high altitude (over 60,000′). Shortly after the Air Force F-22 destroyed the balloon with a Sidewinder missile, US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin used a special phone line to reach out to his Chinese counterpart, Chinese Defense Minister Wei Fenghe, to try to manage the crisis. But the minister refused to get on the line, later saying that the U.S. had “not created the proper atmosphere” for dialogue. A call to prevent a possible escalation was rejected, and matters became worse.

REJECTED SAVIOR

Peter appealed to all people to heed the call of Jesus to be saved. He said that some—including the Christians he was writing to—had indeed believed in Jesus as God’s chosen and precious cornerstone. By this, they had become spiritual stones themselves, and God had constructed them into a spiritual building. But others continued to reject the Lord’s offer, and Jesus had become for them a stumbling stone. A call to prevent eternal doom was rejected, and if they did not change their minds, matters for them would become much worse.

  1. What are acceptable and unacceptable practices for nations to spy on one another?
  2. When did someone reject a positive effort on your part? What did you do?
  3. What causes an unbeliever to change his or her mind and come to Jesus in faith?

Additional Resources

These videos and materials are for your personal use. If you show videos in class, be sure to have the necessary rights to do so.

February 19, 2023: Responsibility of Those Called (James 2:1-12)

By Teacher Tips

To begin the session:

Distribute copies of “The Dangers of Favoritism” exercise from the activity page, which you can download here. Have learners work in pairs to complete as indicated.

After the activity, give the group time to talk about favoritism. Lead into the Bible study by saying, “Favoritism can be dangerous to society and in our own lives. In today’s text, James gives us a warning against allowing favoritism within the church.”

To encourage personal application:

Distribute copies of the “Welcoming Newcomers” activity from the activity page. Have learners complete it individually (in a minute or less) before discussing conclusions in small groups.

After calling time, have small groups talk about how you, as a church, might improve in not showing favoritism in your congregation. Close with a prayer.

In the World–February 19, 2023

By "In the World"

Download “In the World” for February 19, 2023 here.

IMPARTIALITY REQUIRED IN AFGHANISTAN

Humanitarian agencies working around the world sometimes struggle to ensure that the aid they deliver makes it into all the right hands. For example, in Afghanistan the Taliban has recently placed restrictions on food aid agencies that make it nearly impossible to assess whether or not the food is reaching the most vulnerable—women and children—with any degree of impartiality. Some agencies have halted their aid to the country because of the restrictions. The issue highlights the difficulty of balancing women’s rights with delivering aid.

IMPARTIALITY REQUIRED AT CHURCH

This week’s passage records James’ observation that people in churches were giving precedence to rich congregants and treating poor congregants disrespectfully. Though some among the rich were exploiting other Christians and dragging them into court, these were the ones being honored. He called believers to treat all people equally and to remember that God has chosen the poor to be rich in faith.

  1. What factors prevent vulnerable people from receiving aid, even when it’s offered?
  2. When and where have you seen good examples of impartiality at church?
  3. What explains the tendency to treat rich people favorably?

Additional Resources

These videos and materials are for your personal use. If you show videos in class, be sure to have the necessary rights to do so.

February 12, 2023: Reminder of the Call (2 Timothy 1:3-14)

By Teacher Tips

To engage the learners in a study of the Scripture text:

Distribute copies of the “A Marvelous Mentor” exercise from the activity page, which you can download here. Have learners work in small groups to complete as indicated.

After calling time, have groups present their findings in whole-class discussion. Use the commentary to correct misconceptions.

To encourage personal application:

Distribute copies of the “Hold Fast” activity from the activity page. Have learners work in pairs to complete as indicated.

After the activity, hand out index cards and pens. Invite learners to write out how they can be encouraged throughout the next week to hold fast to the faith and love that is in Christ Jesus. Then close with prayer.

In the World–February 12, 2023

By "In the World"

Download “In the World” for February 12, 2023 here.

IMMORTAL CELLS

People have been trying to defy death for millennia before Ponce de León searched for the Fountain of Youth. In more recent years, scientists have explored “cell death” in the bodies of mammals, and last month, researchers discovered how to accelerate, decelerate, and even reverse aging in mouse cells. They learned how to tell the epigenome (the part of the DNA system that gives cells their instructions) to erase the corrupted instructions that had been causing cell death. The researchers have hopes that further work will show potential in healing a host of diseases—including chronic heart disease and even neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s. “It’s no longer a question of if rejuvenation is possible,” says David Sinclair, professor of genetics in the Blavatnik Institute at Harvard Medical School, “but a question of when.”

IMMORTAL SOULS

In today’s passage, the Apostle Paul urged Timothy, his protégé, to fan into flame the spiritual gift that was in him. Timothy had the responsibility and the honor of proclaiming the message that Jesus Christ had abolished death and brought immortality to light. Timothy needed to leave his natural timidity behind and guard the good thing that Christ had deposited into him and given him the grace to use in his service.

  1. If science developed the ability to hold off death indefinitely, why (or why not) would you be interested?
  2. What advantages and disadvantages would there be in prolonging earthly life indefinitely?
  3. When have you had to leave behind some natural tendency of your own to follow the Lord?

Additional Resources

These videos and materials are for your personal use. If you show videos in class, be sure to have the necessary rights to do so.

February 5, 2023: Résumé of Those Called (1 Corinthians 1:18-31)

By Teacher Tips

To engage the learners in a study of the Scripture text:

Distribute copies of the “Word Web” exercise from the activity page, which you can download here. Have learners work in pairs to complete the activity as indicated.

After calling time for the activity, have groups present their findings in whole-class discussion. Conclude the activity by asking, “Why do the implications of the cross seem foolish to some people?”

To encourage personal application:

Distribute copies of the “Praying for Wisdom” activity from the activity page. Have students complete the activity as indicated (in a minute or less) before sharing with a partner.

In the World–February 5, 2023

By "In the World"

Download “In the World” for February 5, 2023 here.

TRACTION THROUGH AN UNLIKELY SOURCE

Oklahoma City motorists were seeing red late last month as they made their way across frozen bridges and overpasses. The city’s public works department was experimenting with a mixture of rock salt brine and beet juice to increase the effectiveness of their ice-melting efforts. The brine alone needs a temperature of at least fifteen degrees to melt ice, but adding a percentage of beet juice to the mixture drops its operating temperature to negative twenty degrees. If the experiment is successful, the program may expand—and if it gives drivers better traction, perhaps they won’t mind the red tint on the roads.

WISDOM THROUGH AN UNLIKELY GROUP

In Paul’s first letter to the Christians in Corinth, he developed one of his favorite themes: that the weakness of humans is the perfect stage for the demonstration of the power of God. Though the Corinthian church did not have many impressive people in it—few government officials, notables, or celebrities of any sort—nevertheless, they were the ones whom God had chosen to use to show the foolishness of the world’s wisdom.

  1. What’s the strangest solution you’ve ever seen to a problem?
  2. What do you think of Christians’ fascination with celebrities who come to faith in Christ?
  3. Where have you seen the wisdom of humans nullified by the wisdom of God?

Additional Resources

These videos and materials are for your personal use. If you show videos in class, be sure to have the necessary rights to do so.

January 29, 2023: God Promises His Presence (Joel 2:21-27)

By Teacher Tips

To begin the session:

Distribute copies of the “Hope Quotes” exercise from the activity page, which you can download here. Have learners work in pairs to complete as indicated.

After calling time for the activity, have students present their findings to the class. Then ask the following questions as part of whole-class discussion: 1–How do you define hope? 2–Why is hope important? 3–When is having hope difficult? 4–What happens when people give up hope?

Lead into the lesson by saying, “Today’s Scripture text was written to people who needed hope that God’s presence would be evident. We’ll examine the prophet’s message and consider how helpful his message was to them and to us.”

To engage the learners in a study of the Scripture text:

Distribute copies of the “Hope’s Foundation” activity from the activity page. Have learners work in pairs to complete as indicated. (This exercise will be more time-consuming than it appears at first glance.) After 10 minutes, ask pairs to share their paraphrases with the whole class.

In the World–January 29, 2023

By "In the World"

Download “In the World” for January 29, 2023 here.

EMERGING FROM PHYSICAL COLLAPSE

On January 2, during a Monday Night Football game between the Cincinnati Bengals and the Buffalo Bills, Bills’ safety Damar Hamlin made a routine tackle on Bengals’ receiver Tee Higgins. Both players got up, but Hamlin suddenly collapsed. Medical staff rushed to the field, where they determined that his heart was not beating. First responders administered CPR, and Hamlin was rushed to a local hospital, where he remained in a coma in intensive care. Over the next three days, not just the world of pro football but most of the nation hung on scraps of updates. Finally, to the relief of all, Hamlin emerged from the coma and showed no sign of lasting injury to his mental or physical capacities. “We’re not promised anything,” said NFL great Tom Brady, reflecting on Hamlin’s injury and recovery, “none of us are…. Let’s not take anything for granted,” he said. “Nothing’s forever.”

EMERGING FROM SPIRITUAL COLLAPSE

The land of Judah had been devastated by a plague of locusts because of the disobedience of God’s people. But even though the Lord had sent his army to devastate their fields as in the Day of the Lord, he nevertheless promised to be with them and to bless them in the future. His discipline was not forever, and his mercy remained for those who worshipped him. God promised that Judah would emerge from that disaster and once again praise him.

  1. What is the most serious injury you’ve heard about in sporting events?
  2. When has something happened that has reminded you that there are more important things than what we often get so worked up about?
  3. How often do you think about God’s discipline on those he loves?

Additional Resources

These videos and materials are for your personal use. If you show videos in class, be sure to have the necessary rights to do so.

In the World–January 22, 2023

By "In the World"

Download “In the World” for January 22, 2023 here.

EMANCIPATION FOR SLAVES

January is National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month, and already many communities across America have celebrated the 160th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation. On January 1, 1863, a document signed by President Abraham Lincoln went into effect declaring the freedom of enslaved people living in Confederate states that were not yet in Union hands. This freedom was not realized by most slaves in the South until the conclusion of the Civil War, in 1865. Today, slavery remains a scourge in America through forced labor and sex trafficking. “I call upon businesses, civil society organizations, communities of faith, families, and all Americans,” said President Biden in a December 30, 2022, proclamation, “to recognize the vital role we play in combating human trafficking.”

EMANCIPATION FOR ALL

Through Isaiah, the Lord reminded the Jewish people that his will has always been to loose the chains of injustice, feed the hungry, and remove the yoke of oppression. In today’s passage, Isaiah declares God’s promise that those who heed his call to bring emancipation to all who are in forced labor will receive blessing and power from heaven.

  1. What was your closest encounter with slavery, forced labor, or human trafficking?
  2. How can we fight human trafficking today?
  3. Who is one person whose suffering you could alleviate this week?

Additional Resources

These videos and materials are for your personal use. If you show videos in class, be sure to have the necessary rights to do so.

January 15, 2023: God Promises to Guide (Isaiah 48:3-8a, 17)

By Teacher Tips

To begin the session:

Distribute copies of “The Googles Know” exercise from the activity page, which you can download here. Have learners work in pairs to complete as indicated. Discuss conclusions as a group. Say: “While technologies may seem to ‘know’ us, today’s passage illustrates how nothing is hidden from God and that only he controls and reveals the future—at his pleasure.”

To encourage personal application:

Distribute copies of the “Win or Learn” activity from the activity page. Have learners complete it individually (in one minute) before discussing conclusions in small groups.

In the World–January 15, 2023

By "In the World"

Download “In the World” for January 15, 2023 here.

CLOSED IN BOTH DIRECTIONS

In the last week of December, a small sinkhole opened on the shoulder of SR-261 just south of Washtucna, Washington. Department of Transportation crews closed the rural road in one direction, reducing traffic to a single lane. Then over the course of the next few hours, the sinkhole began to collapse the asphalt, widening to dangerous proportions. Officials finally closed the road in both directions and set up a detour. Sinkholes in Washington are usually caused by extreme weather changes or flooding beneath the surface. The water can hollow out an area beneath land, a road, or even a structure, and eventually the roof of the cavern can’t support itself. “If you see a sinkhole,” said TV station Fox 28 in Spokane, “even a small one, quickly leave the area and report it. Though they can look harmless at first, the opening can spread rapidly.”

THE GOD WHO GIVES DIRECTIONS

In today’s passage, God reminds the Jewish people that he had announced his plans for them in generations past. They had no room to claim that they had thought them up or brought them to pass through their pagan idols. Then he says he’s doing new things that they couldn’t predict, so they can’t claim they’d already known of them. God is the one who directs them, either in the past or the future, and teaches them what’s best for them. But will they heed his directions?

  1. What’s the worst sinkhole incident you’ve ever heard of?
  2. When have you had to change the direction of your life?
  3. How has God directed you in the past?

Additional Resources

These videos and materials are for your personal use. If you show videos in class, be sure to have the necessary rights to do so.

January 8, 2023: God Promises to Restore (Isaiah 43:1-4, 10-12)

By Teacher Tips

To begin the session:

Distribute copies of the “Fear-o-Phobia” exercise from the activity page, which you can download here. Have learners work in pairs to complete as indicated. As time allows, ask learners to talk about how faith can help people overcome their fears.

After the activity, say, “In today’s text, Isaiah shares promises God gave to Israel, and us, to help calm fears.”

To encourage personal application:

Distribute copies of the “God’s Protection” activity from the activity page. Have learners complete as indicated.

After the activity, read Isaiah 43:1, replacing the words “O Jacob” and “O Israel” with a pause. Ask learners to silently say their own names in place of the pause.

In the World–January 8, 2023

By "In the World"

Download “In the World” for January 8, 2023 here.

OVERCOME BY SMOKE

A 66-year-old woman in Benton Harbor, MI, died in October in a house fire. When firefighters arrived at 1:49 p.m., fire was coming from the eaves of the home. The incident commander circled the house and found the woman’s husband struggling to open the back door to rescue his wife, but he was overcome by smoke and could not proceed. The firefighters entered the home and rescued the woman. On the way to the hospital, she regained a pulse, but she later died from her injuries. It was her birthday the next day.

NOT OVERCOME BY FIRE

Though God’s people had disobeyed Him, He still promised to not forsake them. He was their God and He had summoned them by name. Though waters might rise up against them, they would not drown, and though they passed through fire, they would not be overcome. They were witnesses to the fact that the Lord is the only God.

  1. Have you ever had breathing problems caused by smoke? What did it feel like?
  2. When, if ever, have you felt that God might have abandoned you?
  3. How can you know that God has called you and not forsaken you?

Additional Resources

These videos and materials are for your personal use. If you show videos in class, be sure to have the necessary rights to do so.

January 1, 2023: God Promises to Hear and Forgive (2 Chronicles 7:12-22)

By Teacher Tips

To begin the session:

Distribute copies of the “A Holy Place” exercise from the activity page, which you can download here. Have learners complete it individually (in one minute) before sharing their creations with a partner. As a whole group, discuss what is required for a place to be considered holy. Continue the discussion by asking, “Why do we seek sacred spaces?”

After the activity, say, “With God’s approval and guidance, Solomon built the temple, and with God’s presence it became a holy place to worship and pray to God. But consequences would follow if the people forsook their faithfulness to him.”

To engage the learners in a study of the Scripture text:

Read through today’s passage aloud once. Distribute copies of the “If/Then Covenant” activity from the activity page. Have learners work in pairs to complete as indicated. (This exercise may be more time-consuming than it appears at first glance.) Then reconvene the whole class to discuss their work.

In the World–January 1, 2023

By "In the World"

Download “In the World” for January 1, 2023 here.

DEBT FORGIVENESS FOR A STUDENT

The federal Student Loan Forgiveness program is understandably popular for the many millions of college students carrying debt from their educational loans. Some analysts, however, point out that such forgiveness may encourage financial irresponsibility and that it would tend to discourage those who worked to repay their debt after graduation. But with university costs skyrocketing and the pandemic putting some people out of work, many have fallen behind and feel they can never recover. No matter what may be said about the policy or the program, when a person needs help with any debt, forgiveness is always welcome.

SIN FORGIVENESS FOR A PEOPLE

Today’s passage includes one of the most well-known verses in the Old Testament. The “If my people…” passage is a common rallying cry to call a nation back to God. The benefits of turning the hearts of a people back to God are many, not least of which being forgiveness of sin. The dangers of turning away from the Lord are manifold, as well, and include invasion, conquest, and exile to another land—all of which did happen for God’s people.

  1. What do you think about any effort to forgive or cancel financial debt?
  2. As we enter this new year, who in your life will you decide to forgive?
  3. What benefits and dangers are there in today’s world for turning toward or away from God?

Additional Resources

These videos and materials are for your personal use. If you show videos in class, be sure to have the necessary rights to do so.

December 25, 2022: Mary Rejoices (Luke 1:46-55)

By Teacher Tips

To begin the session:

Distribute copies of the “Awards Show” exercise from the activity page, which you can download here. Have learners complete it individually in a minute or less. Ask volunteers to share their responses to the final question.

After the activity, transition to the lesson by saying, “Although Mary was shown favor by God, she did not brag about herself at all. Instead, she praised God for the work that he had done.”

To encourage personal application:

Distribute copies of the “Song of Praise Template” exercise from the activity page. Assign this as a take-home activity. To encourage completion, ask learners to consider sharing their completed songs at the beginning of the next class.

In the World–December 25, 2022

By "In the World"

Download “In the World” for December 25, 2022 here.

GRASPING THE CORE MESSAGE

When students are learning a language other than their mother tongue, some use reader books in which the original words have been simplified by the books’ writers. However, as artificial intelligence (AI) tools become more powerful, simplification software is emerging that can simplify any written material automatically. This fall, in a test of an English-language AI text simplification tool in Busan, South Korea, students who were learning English were able to grasp the core message of an article simplified from the magazine Scientific American. The automated tools need more work to help readers of all levels, however. “Software developers will continue to develop AI-enhanced tools,” says the study’s leader, Professor Dennis Murphy Odo, “that will make challenging texts more and more comprehensible to foreign language learners with different reading proficiencies.”

EXPRESSING HIS CORE MESSAGE

When Mary was pregnant with Jesus, she was filled with the Holy Spirit and uttered beautiful words that expressed the heart of God and what would be Jesus’ core message on earth. Those who fear the Lord will be exalted. Those who oppress the poor will be cast down. The hungry will be filled, and the proud will be scattered and sent away empty.

  1. What’s a complex idea someone has expertly simplified for you?
  2. How would you describe God’s core message? What is the Lord’s heartbeat?
  3. Who around you needs to hear that message?

Additional Resources

These videos and materials are for your personal use. If you show videos in class, be sure to have the necessary rights to do so.

December 18, 2022: John the Baptist Appears (Luke 3:2b-6, 15-18)

By Teacher Tips

To begin the session:

Distribute copies of the “Always Be Prepared” exercise from the activity page, which you can download here. Have learners work in groups to complete as indicated.

Transition into the Scripture text by saying, “In today’s Scripture, notice how John the Baptist introduced people to the Lord and how he answered their questions regarding the Lord’s identity.”

To encourage personal application:

Distribute copies of the “Relating to Jesus” exercise from the activity page. Have learners work in pairs to complete as indicated. After calling time, invite pairs to share their responses to the last question. Encourage everyone to share their metaphors with a neighbor during the upcoming week and be prepared to report on the experience at the beginning of the next class.

In the World–December 18, 2022

By "In the World"

Download “In the World” for December 18, 2022 here.

REMOVING OBSTACLES TO GOD IN AFRICA

In a commencement address at Coal City University Enugu in Nigeria this fall, Senator Anthony Agbo called on Africa’s universities to lead the way in turning to Scripture for how to live. He urged his countrymen to turn from pagan gods and lay aside internal conflicts, basing their lives on the Bible in order to avoid the obstacles caused by those ancient prophecies. He urged them to turn to the Word of God, “whose power, authority and impeccable truth have defied the coordinated onslaught of misguided men of all ages, including those of elevated but sinister institutions; to produce the greatest nations on earth and most insightful men of all time.”

REMOVING OBSTACLES TO GOD IN ISRAEL

John the Baptist was raised up by God to go in the spirit of the Old Testament prophets to make the people’s hearts ready to welcome their King. His ministry would be to remove all obstacles from the path of the Lord’s coming. Every valley would be raised, every mountain flattened, and every crooked way straightened to hasten the arrival of the Son of God.

  1. What correlations are there, if any, between a nation that reveres the Word of God and that nation’s status?
  2. What Old Testament judgments are still in effect today?
  3. In what way did John’s ministry remove obstacles for the coming of Jesus?

Additional Resources

These videos and materials are for your personal use. If you show videos in class, be sure to have the necessary rights to do so.

December 11, 2022: Zechariah Speaks (Luke 1:57-66, 76-79)

By Teacher Tips

To begin the session:

Distribute copies of the “What’s in a Name?” activity from activity page, which you can download here. Have learners work in small groups to complete as indicated.

After calling time on the activity, say, “Sometimes a name’s significance is in its meaning. Other times its significance is related to our experiences with people who have that name—no matter how fair or accurate those perceptions are. In today’s lesson, consider how the name John was significant for Elizabeth and Zechariah.”

To engage the learners in a study of the Scripture text:

Distribute copies of the “Prophecies” activity from the activity page. Have learners work in pairs to complete as indicated.

After calling time, ask how Zechariah’s prophecy showed God’s faithfulness and prepared the hearts of the people to receive the Lord.

In the World–December 11, 2022

By "In the World"

Download “In the World” for December 11, 2022 here.

THE WRONG KIND OF ATTENTION

The wastewater treatment plant in the city of Driggs, ID, has for years failed to come into compliance with federal pollution statutes. The city has been working to eliminate the problem and build a new plant, but the federal government filed a lawsuit in October to pressure the city to come into compliance. However, some in the media have misrepresented the seriousness of the problem, painting the city as negligent and irresponsible. “It is challenging to know the facts surrounding our [plant],” said Mayor August Christensen, “and see how some media outlets spun the story. I am hearing how much it is affecting our community.” Despite the large amount of negative media attention, Christensen hopes people will support the city’s efforts to correct the problem.

THE RIGHT KIND OF ATTENTION

After failing to believe the angel’s words about a son, Zechariah was rendered mute until the boy was born. At John’s birth, however, news began to go out that God had been merciful to Elizabeth by giving her a son, even in her old age. But when Zechariah indicated, by writing a message on a tablet, that the boy’s name was to be what the angel had proclaimed, his muteness vanished, and he began praising God and prophesying. Then everyone in the whole region turned their attention to the great things God was doing for Israel.

  1. When has someone gotten the wrong idea about you, and what did you do?
  2. Why do you think the media sometimes misrepresents true events?
  3. What’s something God did that you just had to tell someone about?

Additional Resources

These videos and materials are for your personal use. If you show videos in class, be sure to have the necessary rights to do so.

December 4, 2022: Zechariah Hears from God (Luke 1:8-20)

By Teacher Tips

To begin the session:

Distribute copies of the “An Astonishing Story” exercise from the activity page, which you can download here. Have learners complete the exercise as indicated.

After the activity, say, “Communicating without speaking words is a challenge. In today’s lesson, we will consider how Zechariah’s inability to speak was both a punishment and an expression of mercy.”

To engage the learners in a study of the Scripture text:

Distribute copies of the “Baby Announcement” exercise from the activity page. Have students work in pairs to complete the activity as indicated.

In the World–December 4, 2022

By "In the World"

Download “In the World” for December 4, 2022 here.

SHE COULDN’T BELIEVE THE PARTY WAS FOR HER

For more than two decades, Dolores Santucci (now 96) manned her hot dog cart in Hillsdale, New Jersey. “She was there six days a week, rain or shine,” says Esther Davidowitz writing in NorthJersey.com. “Everyone in town and beyond, it seems, knew her, if not by name, then by her nickname: The Hot Dog Lady.” After a liver infection sidelined her from working the cart, the city decided to honor the woman many called “Mom.” The mayor proclaimed October 28 “Dolores Santucci Day,” and more than 200 people turned out for the celebration. “It was a complete surprise,” said Dolores of the party, which took place at the cart. “I couldn’t believe it. The people are very nice. They always were nice.”

HE COULDN’T BELIEVE GOD HAD GRANTED HIS PRAYER

For many decades, the priest Zechariah prayed that his wife, Elizabeth, would bear him a son. Sadly, she remained barren, and by the time they were both well advanced in years, one wonders if his prayers slowed or finally stopped. So, when the angel Gabriel appeared to Zechariah in the Temple and told him that his prayers for a son had been heard, Zechariah didn’t buy it. He still got the son he’d prayed so long for, but there were consequences for his unbelief: he was rendered mute until his son, John the Baptist, was born.

  1. If you could throw a big celebration to honor someone, who would it be?
  2. When have you or someone else stopped praying for something only to receive it unexpectedly?
  3. How do you think God decides if, how, and when to grant prayers?

Additional Resources

These videos and materials are for your personal use. If you show videos in class, be sure to have the necessary rights to do so.

November 27, 2022: God Gives Tools for Our Protection (Ephesians 6:10-18)

By Teacher Tips

To begin the session:

Distribute copies of the “Seeking Security” exercise from the activity page, which you can download here. Have learners work in pairs to complete as indicated. Allow time for group discussion.

Lead into Bible study by saying, “The apostle Paul uses the imagery of a suit of armor to show how God protects believers from evil.”

To encourage personal application:

Distribute copies of the “Dress Me in Armor” activity from the activity page. Allow one minute for participants to complete the exercise.

In the World–November 27, 2022

By "In the World"

Download “In the World” for November 27, 2022 here.

TOOLS TO SPOT AN UNSEEN ENEMY

The invasion of Ukraine is the first time that both sides in a conflict have had reconnaissance drones—and the ability to shoot down the enemy’s drones. Throughout the war, Ukraine’s hordes of locally produced drones, which are cheap enough to lose during a mission without causing much hardship, have been a better option to Russia’s small number of very expensive drones, which Moscow doesn’t want to lose. As a result, the Ukrainian military has had much better knowledge of Russian positions and movements than the Russian military has enjoyed.

TOOLS TO FIGHT AN UNSEEN ENEMY

When the devil’s schemes come on the day of evil, Christians can stand firm in the power of the Lord. Paul’s famous passage on the full armor of God—based on the armor worn by Roman soldiers all around him in prison—encourages believers to take up and strap on the various pieces of armor. The enemy may be spiritual and invisible, but Jesus does not leave His children without powerful defenses.

  1. What do you think of self-flying or self-driving vehicles like drones?
  2. How can we improve our ability to see things that are otherwise invisible?
  3. When have you used one or more pieces of the full armor of God?

Additional Resources

These videos and materials are for your personal use. If you show videos in class, be sure to have the necessary rights to do so.

November 20, 2022: We Are God’s Handiwork (Ephesians 2:1-10)

By Teacher Tips

To engage the learners in a study of the Scripture text:

Distribute copies of the “Rich in Mercy” exercise from the activity page, which you can download here. Have learners work in pairs to complete as indicated. Allow time for group discussion before continuing with the next part of the lesson.

To encourage personal application:

Distribute copies of the “Pass It On” exercise on the activity page. Allow one minute for the quick brainstorming exercise. Have individuals share their commitments with a partner for accountability.

After calling time for the activity, end the lesson with a prayer time, praising God for the love and grace experienced in being God’s workmanship.

In the World–November 20, 2022

By "In the World"

Download “In the World” for November 20, 2022 here.

THE BEAUTY OF FALL COLORS

During spring and summer in the northern hemisphere, tree leaves bud and sprout, becoming a luxurious green in the warmth of the middle of the year. But as autumn begins, leaves turn color, becoming the glorious shades of gold, yellow, red, and orange we often see at Thanksgiving. What many people don’t know is that the leaves were always secretly gold, yellow, red, and orange. During the long-daylight months of spring and summer, the trees were producing chlorophyl and lots of green pigment, which masked the other colors. When the sun is up fewer hours, the chlorophyl breaks down and there is no longer enough green pigment to hide the leaves’ true colors.

THE BEAUTY OF GOD’S WORKMANSHIP

Paul tells the Christians in Ephesus that they are creations hand-crafted by God for specific purposes. Like the handiwork of a master craftsman, believers are beautiful in their own right. But God hasn’t created, called, and justified us simply to be admired but rather to be useful to him in the good works that he has prepared for us to do. We find our meaning when we are used by God to do his will on earth.

  1. What is your favorite autumn memory?
  2. What are your plans for Thanksgiving?
  3. In what ways are you a masterpiece? In what ways are you a trusty tool for the Lord?

Additional Resources

These videos and materials are for your personal use. If you show videos in class, be sure to have the necessary rights to do so.

November 13, 2022: Christ Is Wisdom (Ephesians 1:15-23)

By Teacher Tips

To begin the session:

Distribute copies of the “Mission Accomplished?” exercise from the activity page, which you can download here. Have learners work in pairs to complete as indicated. After several minutes of work time, invite volunteers to share what they’ve discovered.

After calling time for the activity, say, “Today we’ll look at how Paul encourages Christians to do God’s work.”

To encourage personal application:

Distribute copies of the “Show Me the Love” activity from the activity page. Have students work in pairs to complete the chart and action plan. It is important to follow up on this activity next week. Make a plan to discuss (at that time) ways they saw God at work through their initiatives. Remind students to be prepared for this discussion. Then remember to praise and thank God together for the blessings—and to commit to God’s care anything that did not turn out as expected.

In the World–November 13, 2022

By "In the World"

Download “In the World” for November 13, 2022 here.

ENLIGHTENED FOR THE EARTH

Late last month, the Frost and Sullivan Institute released its second annual Enlightened Growth Leadership Awards. The prize goes to companies that “have demonstrated commitment to [environmental] sustainability by leveraging technology and innovation-driven solutions to make strides in innovating some of the major global challenges we face.” One of this year’s winners is Ubisoft Entertainment, makers of video games such as Assassin’s Creed and Ghost Recon. Their efforts to support the environment include targeting 100% renewable energy in their facilities, limiting employees’ international travel, and eliminating single-use plastics in their offices. “The recipients of the Enlightened Growth Leadership Recognition,” said Aroop Zutshi, Director, Frost & Sullivan Institute, “have demonstrated success in merging business acumen with a moral imperative.”

ENLIGHTENED BY GOD

Paul’s letter to the Ephesians includes his prayer that the eyes of their hearts would be enlightened with wisdom so they could fully grasp the hope that Christ had given them. He prayed that their understanding would be stretched so they would know the inheritance of power, riches, and security that was theirs through the Lord.

  1. How do you help care for the world the Lord made us stewards of?
  2. What improvements have you seen in how some companies treat the environment?
  3. How has your understanding of Christ’s riches toward you grown over the years?

Additional Resources

These videos and materials are for your personal use. If you show videos in class, be sure to have the necessary rights to do so.

November 6, 2022: God Picked You! (Ephesians 1:1-14)

By Teacher Tips

To begin the session:

Distribute copies of the “Winning Qualities” exercise from the activity page, which you can download here. Allow three minutes for pairs to complete the activity.

After the activity, discuss how our criteria for choosing a winner or determining success affects how we see ourselves and how we interact with others. Consider pressures as well as possible positive outcomes of a culture focused on winning awards. Wrap up by saying, “Today’s lesson allows us to expand beyond a popular worldview and think about who we are in Christ.”

To encourage personal application:

Distribute copies of the “Adopted in Christ” exercise from the activity page. Allow a minute for students to work individually; then let them work together to complete the puzzle. Discuss ideas for how to implement this message into their lives this week when they are faced with challenges.

Plan time during next week’s lesson to see how learners are dealing with their challenges from the perspective of being God’s children. Close with a prayer of praise for adoption into Christ’s family.

In the World–November 6, 2022

By "In the World"

Download “In the World” for November 6, 2022 here.

PICKED TO RULE WITH XI

Last month, China’s President Xi Jinping secured a third term in office. In addition, he handpicked his top cabinet members, the Politburo Standing Committee, promoting and demoting so that only those personally loyal to him remain. One surprise was the promotion to the top spot among Xi’s advisors of Li Qiang, who had fallen out of public favor by his poorly planned and deeply unpopular COVID lockdown in Shanghai, where Li held top party leadership. “If Li Qiang does become premier, which looks now certain,” said Tony Saich, an expert on Chinese politics at Harvard University, “it clearly means that loyalty is more important than performance.”

PICKED TO INHERIT WITH CHRIST

Before the creation of the world, God chose us in Him to be adopted as His sons and daughters. He redeemed us through Christ, made us to the praise of His glory through our hope in Him, and marked us with a seal of the Holy Spirit when we believed. The Spirit is the deposit guaranteeing our inheritance from God until the day when we receive it in His presence.

  1. When have you seen loyalty prized above performance? When have you seen the opposite?
  2. What do you think it means that we were chosen to be blameless in God’s sight?
  3. What’s an example of something held as a deposit or guarantee until a later date?

Additional Resources

These videos and materials are for your personal use. If you show videos in class, be sure to have the necessary rights to do so.

October 30, 2022: David Anointed as King (1 Samuel 16:1-13)

By Teacher Tips

To engage the learners in a study of the Scripture text:

Distribute copies of the “Samuel’s Tough Assignment” exercise from the activity page, which you can download here. Have learners work in pairs or small groups to complete as indicated.

To encourage personal application:

Distribute copies of the “Leaders You Know” exercise from the activity page. Have learners work independently for one minute before working with others in groups of three to complete the activity.

After the activity, end with sentence prayers from class members asking God to help them develop a clean heart and eyes of faith, as well as the specific qualities they wrote down. You may ask students to jot down their prayers on their sheets. Plan time next week to talk about how God is working to develop godly leadership qualities in your learners.

In the World–October 30, 2022

By "In the World"

Download “In the World” for October 30, 2022 here.

WHO HE IS UNDER THE COSTUME

Halloween is Monday and depending on where you live and whether or not you leave your porch light on, you may get some trick-or-treaters at your door. This year, you can expect to see more than the usual number of cute little dinosaurs, Spider-Man imitators, fairies, and characters from the Netflix show Stranger Things. Those are the most popular Halloween costume searches this month, according to Google. It can be humorous when children dressed in costumes expect us to recognize them under the mask. But sometimes, the outward appearance doesn’t give us any clues as to who is actually standing before us.

WHO HE IS UNDER THE APPEARANCE

After God let Israel have their way in choosing a regal-looking first king—and the disasters that followed—He decided to replace Saul with a king who would be a man after His own heart. He sent Samuel to Bethlehem, to the house of Jesse, to anoint God’s selection. But none of Jesse’s handsome, impressive, full-grown, regal-looking sons were God’s choice. They had to go bring in the kid brother, who smelled of sheep, before God revealed His plan. Sometimes, the outward appearance of a king doesn’t show how well he will rule. What God examines is the heart.

  1. Why would we hide our true character from other people?
  2. What does it mean to be a person after God’s own heart?
  3. When have you been surprised at the disconnect between someone’s appearance and true character?

Additional Resources

These videos and materials are for your personal use. If you show videos in class, be sure to have the necessary rights to do so.

October 23, 2022: Who Is King? (1 Samuel 8:4-7; 1 Samuel 10:17-24)

By Teacher Tips

To engage the learners in a study of the Scripture text:

Distribute copies of the “Diary of an Old Man” exercise from the activity page, which you can download here. Have learners work together to complete as indicated. After a few minutes, invite volunteers to read what they’ve written.

After completing the activity, have the class draw conclusions about how Israel’s choices reflected their relationship with God and his standards.

To encourage personal application:

Distribute copies of the “What Do You Say?” exercise from the activity page. Have learners complete it in pairs before discussing conclusions as a whole class.

In the World–October 23, 2022

By "In the World"

Download “In the World” for October 23, 2022 here.

A CONSIDERATE KING

Last month, King Charles III took the throne of England after the death of his mother, Queen Elizabeth II. While his mother’s coronation ceremony had lasted three hours and boasted 8,000 dignitaries as guests—and cost a fortune, Charles wishes to streamline things. With an eye toward the financial crisis in the UK, Charles didn’t want to create a huge, expensive spectacle of his coronation. So the event (next year) will be one hour long, and the guest list will drop to 2,000. Still big and befitting a kingdom, but sensitive to the cultural moment. “The King is very aware of the struggles felt by modern Britons,” said a royal source. “It should also be representative of a monarchy in a modern world.”

A RELUCTANT KING

After Samuel had ruled Israel as the last judge and first prophet for a lifetime, he grew old and his sons did not follow the Lord. The people, perhaps looking with envy at surrounding nations who were led by monarchs, came to Samuel and demanded that he select someone to rule over them as king. Samuel consulted the Lord, certain that God would refuse their demand. But the Lord told him to grant their request, assuring him that it wasn’t Samuel they were rejecting, but God. However, when it came time to crown Saul, they couldn’t find him. They finally located him hiding with the luggage.

  1. What do you think it would be like to live in a monarchy? What would you like or dislike about it?
  2. If you were king or queen of your own country, what would be your first decree?
  3. Why do you think Saul hid from those who wanted to make him king?

Additional Resources

These videos and materials are for your personal use. If you show videos in class, be sure to have the necessary rights to do so.

October 16, 2022: The Call of Gideon (Judges 6:1-2, 7-16a)

By Teacher Tips

To encourage personal application:

Close the class by distributing copies of the “Help!” exercise on the activity page, which you can download here. Allow one minute for participants to complete as indicated individually before voluntary sharing. Or use this activity as a take-home prayer prompt for the week ahead.

Also, distribute copies of the “Called to Rescue” crossword puzzle on the activity page as a take-home.

In the World–October 16, 2022

By "In the World"

Download “In the World” for October 16, 2022 here.

OPPORTUNITY FROM WEAKNESS

The global economy continues to struggle. This month, an Australian economic writer named Taylor Dart wrote an article featuring an Australian mining company called Evolution Mining, which has been hit hard by market conditions. Though it had a down fiscal year in 2022, running at seventy-five percent below its highs, Dart sees evidence to predict that the company’s stock will experience a sharp turnaround in the new fiscal year. His personal opinion is that his readers should watch for Evolution Mining’s stock prices to drop even further first though, and he sees this as a good chance to seize the moment. “I would view any pullbacks below US$1.15,” he says, “as buying opportunities.”

STRENGTH FROM WEAKNESS

Israel’s disobedience of the Lord had left them hiding in winepresses to conceal their meager harvests from the occupying Midianites. A young man named Gideon felt quite sharply his weakness as the youngest child of the least important family in a conquered clan. And yet this is the champion the Lord chose to deliver His people. Gideon’s story is a magnificent illustration of how God delights to exert His power through the weakness of willing humans.

  1. If you have invested in the stock market, what have been your own highs and lows in doing so?
  2. What’s an example of something that others saw as a weakness but that you knew was a strength?
  3. Where are you called by God to do something you know you are in desperate need of His help to accomplish?

Additional Resources

These videos and materials are for your personal use. If you show videos in class, be sure to have the necessary rights to do so.

October 9, 2022: Song of Moses (Deuteronomy 32:3-6, 10-14, 18)

By Teacher Tips

To engage the learners in a study of the Scripture text:

Distribute copies of the “Goodness and Rebellion” exercise from the activity page, which you can download here. Have groups work together to complete the activity as indicated before discussing their findings with the whole class.

To encourage personal application:

Distribute copies of the “Images of Praise” activity from the activity page. Have learners work in pairs to complete the activity as indicated. After five minutes, have volunteers give their answer to the third prompt on the activity.

In the World–October 9, 2022

By "In the World"

Download “In the World” for October 9, 2022 here.

COLLIDING WITH AN ASTEROID TO SAVE THE EARTH

On September 26, NASA intentionally crashed one of its spacecraft into an asteroid. The DART (Double Asteroid Redirection Test) mission released an impactor probe that slammed into Dimorphos, a tiny “moon” that orbits the asteroid known as Didymos, while the other portion of the probe observed the impact as it sailed past. Also watching were the James Webb Space Telescope and the Hubble telescope. The mission was the first “live” test of a proposed method of saving the earth from any asteroids that might someday be found to be on a collision course with our world. The goal of the collision was to see if the impact could adjust the little moon’s orbit around the asteroid, and to what degree. It provided crucial data for scientists and engineers to develop plans for planetary defense.

CONFRONTING THE ISRAELITES TO SAVE THEIR SOULS

At the end of Moses’ life, he gave a speech we often refer to as the Song of Moses. His farewell speech was at times harsh as he called the children of Israel to obey God. Moses knew, after leading them for forty years, that the people were obstinate and tended toward disobedience. But he urged them remember the glorious faithfulness of God after he was gone and to not forget the rock of their salvation.

  1. What would you do if you found out that a large asteroid was on a collision course with Earth?
  2. When have you or someone else used “tough love” to motivate someone’s behavior? Did it work?
  3. How effective was Moses in preventing the children of Israel from committing wickedness after he was gone?

Additional Resources

These videos and materials are for your personal use. If you show videos in class, be sure to have the necessary rights to do so.

October 2, 2022: The Birth of Moses (Exodus 2:1-10)

By Teacher Tips

To engage the learners in a study of the Scripture text:

Distribute copies of the “An Unforgettable Day” exercise from the activity page, which you can download here. Have learners work in pairs to complete as indicated.

After calling time for the exercise, have groups present their findings for whole-class discussion.

To encourage personal application:

Distribute copies of the “Decisions, Decisions” activity from the activity page. Because of the personal nature of the activity, students may wish to complete this as a take-home.

In the World–October 2, 2022

By "In the World"

Download “In the World” for October 2, 2022 here.

THE RISKS OF COVID-19 UNDER CHINESE POLICY

The Chinese government has taken a zero-COVID policy throughout the pandemic. Citizens are ordered to stay in their homes during local outbreaks. Reports have emerged of police welding apartment doors shut to keep people inside, and people were ordered to stay in their homes even during and after an earthquake. In September, a bus carrying 45 residents who had been exposed to infected people left after midnight to take them to quarantine housing. Around 2:40 a.m., the bus rolled into a ditch, killing 27 of those aboard. The incident, a forced move made when visibility was low and the driver bleary-eyed, highlighted the glaring safety risks the Beijing government has been willing to accept to keep COVID under control. “For such a large-scale, long-distance transport,” said Hu Xijin, the former editor in chief of China’s state-run Global Times, “did it really have to be done so late at night, and was there really no alternative?”

THE RISKS OF THE NILE UNDER EGYPTIAN POLICY

The Egyptian government that assumed power after Joseph’s death adopted a zero-new-Hebrew-boys policy to limit the growth of their slave population. But after months of hiding her newborn son, one Levite mother finally had to obey the letter of the Egyptian edict, so she put her son into the Nile (but in a little boat). Would the boat even float? Would the current overturn it? Would the crocodiles attack? Such dangers are a small thing in God’s eyes; He ensured that the risks were averted and the child would be found by a daughter of Pharaoh, and later named Moses.

  1. How do you feel about the stricter or more lenient governmental responses to COVID-19?
  2. What risks would you be willing to accept to keep other people safe?
  3. When have you had to trust God to keep you from danger?

Additional Resources

These videos and materials are for your personal use. If you show videos in class, be sure to have the necessary rights to do so.

September 25, 2022: The Scepter Given to Judah (Genesis 35:22b-26; 38:12-19, 24-26; 49:8-12)

By Teacher Tips

To engage the learners in a study of the Scripture text:

Distribute copies of the “Jacob’s Family” exercise from the activity page, which you can download here. Have learners work in pairs to complete as indicated.

Next, distribute copies of the “Family Tree” activity from the activity page. Have learners complete it as indicated, in small groups. After no more than five minutes, ask for volunteers to share their group’s insights from the discussion questions.

  • If all your learners are online, consider using Zoom Breakouts (which you can learn about here).
  • If some of your learners are online and others are in the classroom with you, consider breaking the in-person learners into groups together and using Zoom Breakouts for the online learners.

Note: Whenever you distribute copies of anything, use hard-copy (paper) handouts for those physically present and e-copies for those joining online via Zoom, etc.

Tip: For a tutorial on how to use Zoom breakouts, go here. For many other Zoom tutorials, see here. A key to using Zoom effectively without fumbling is to practice ahead of time!

In the World–September 25, 2022

By "In the World"

Download “In the World” for September 25, 2022 here.

FAMILY DISPUTE IN MODERN RUSSIA

The citizens of Russia have been told the invasion of Ukraine is a “special military operation” to liberate the people from fascist forces. But some Russians, including the grown daughters of a returning Russian paratrooper surnamed Grigoryev, know that the truth is much different. Their father returned from six months of fighting “a broken man,” which exacerbated an already sore subject of whether or not the war is justified. “He says he didn’t kill anyone” in the fighting, says one daughter, Elizaveta. “But war is a crime in and of itself,” says Anastasia, the other daughter. The conflict within the family became so intense last month that the daughters fled the home. It’s an example of how the invasion is tearing some Russian families apart.

FAMILY DISPUTE IN ANCIENT CANAAN

Through a sad series of events, two sons of Judah died before having children. Both in turn had been married to a woman named Tamar, and Judah promised to give his third son to her as a husband when he came of age. But the time came, and Judah did not keep his promise. Tamar felt she had to resort to deception to achieve justice—and children—from Judah. Nevertheless, God promised to bring about the Messiah through the line of Judah.

  1. What criteria, if any, must be met before you would consider a war to be justifiable?
  2. How can family disputes be solved well?
  3. Why did God promise to bring the Messiah through the line of Judah, despite Judah’s sins?

Additional Resources

These videos and materials are for your personal use. If you show videos in class, be sure to have the necessary rights to do so.

September 18, 2022: Jacob Called Israel (Genesis 32:22-32)

By Teacher Tips

To engage the learners in a study of the Scripture text:

Distribute copies of the “What’s in a Name?” exercise from the activity page, which you can download here. Have learners work in pairs to complete as indicated. After 10 minutes, provide the correct answers for the class and ask volunteers to share their answers to the final three questions.

To encourage personal application:

Distribute copies of the “Count Your Blessings” exercise from the activity page as a take-home. To encourage completion, promise to discuss the results at the beginning of the next class.

  • If all your learners are online, consider using Zoom Breakouts (which you can learn about here).
  • If some of your learners are online and others are in the classroom with you, consider breaking the in-person learners into groups together and using Zoom Breakouts for the online learners.

Note: Whenever you distribute copies of anything, use hard-copy (paper) handouts for those physically present and e-copies for those joining online via Zoom, etc.

Tip: For a tutorial on how to use Zoom breakouts, go here. For many other Zoom tutorials, see here. A key to using Zoom effectively without fumbling is to practice ahead of time!

In the World–September 18, 2022

By "In the World"

Download “In the World” for September 18, 2022 here.

NAME CHANGED FROM

In Germany this month, a family won their legal battle to change their six-year-old daughter’s name from Alexa to something else (undisclosed). Alexa is the name and activation word used by Amazon’s Echo device. Children and even adults would “tease” the little girl by saying her name and commanding her to do things. One man accosted her on the street and said, “Alexa, dance for me.” Lauren Johnson, founder of the I Am Alexa Alliance, says, “The whole thing is a step beyond ‘normal’ teasing and bullying. It’s identity erasure…. The word Alexa has become synonymous with servant or slave,” she says. “It gives people a license to treat people with the name Alexa in a subservient manner.”

NAME CHANGED TO

When Jacob had sent his family and servants across the Jabbok River, he remained alone on the near bank. A mysterious figure appeared and wrestled with him all night, and when he saw he could not overpower Jacob, he said he had fought with God and prevailed. He who could perform such a feat deserved a new name, so the man changed Jacob’s name to Israel, which means one who wrestles with God.

  1. When have you wished you could change your name or something else about yourself?
  2. What steps have you taken on behalf of someone who was being bullied or harassed?
  3. If God were to give you a new name, what might it be? What would you wish your new name to be?

Additional Resources

These videos and materials are for your personal use. If you show videos in class, be sure to have the necessary rights to do so.

September 11, 2022: God Chooses the Younger Twin (Genesis 25:19b-34)

By Teacher Tips

To engage the learners in a study of the Scripture text:

Distribute copies of the “Get What You Want” exercise from the activity page, which you can download here. Have learners work in small groups to complete all four rows.

To encourage personal application:

Distribute copies of “The Situation” activity from the activity page. Have learners complete it with a partner.

Close class with a prayer based on Psalm 75, a psalm composed to provide reassurance of God’s victory. Begin the prayer by reading verse 1 aloud. Allow students to pray silently regarding the conflicts they may face, asking God for his wisdom. End the prayer by reading verse 9 aloud.

  • If all your learners are online, consider using Zoom Breakouts (which you can learn about here).
  • If some of your learners are online and others are in the classroom with you, consider breaking the in-person learners into groups together and using Zoom Breakouts for the online learners.

Note: Whenever you distribute copies of anything, use hard-copy (paper) handouts for those physically present and e-copies for those joining online via Zoom, etc.

Tip: For a tutorial on how to use Zoom breakouts, go here. For many other Zoom tutorials, see here. A key to using Zoom effectively without fumbling is to practice ahead of time!

In the World–September 11, 2022

By "In the World"

Download “In the World” for September 11, 2022 here.

SHORTSIGHTED IN THE MILITARY

A report released last month by the Defence Safety Authority, an investigative arm of the British military, claims that a tragic death happened because someone was not wearing his contact lenses. Last year, during a live-fire training exercise at the Castlemartin range in Pembrokeshire, Wales, Sergeant Gavin Hillier, 35, of the 1st Battalion Welsh Guards, was fatally shot. The report found that the shooter was not wearing his lenses and mistook his fellow soldier for a shooting target. Without his contacts, the shooter would’ve had to be six times closer to the target to be able to distinguish what he was shooting at. Sergeant Hillier had served in several countries, including Afghanistan, where he’d fought the global war on terror, which we especially remember this weekend.

SHORTSIGHTED IN GOD’S PLAN

Jacob and Esau were twin brothers in the book of Genesis. Esau loved his wide-open spaces and wild game, while Jacob was a homebody who sometimes enjoyed vegetarian dishes. One day, Esau returned from the hunt in a state of great hunger. In order to get a bowl of the savory bean soup Jacob was cooking, Esau was willing to give away his birthright as Isaac’s firstborn son. His shortsighted decision changed the course of the two nations that would rise from their lines: Edom and Israel.

  1. What’s the worst tragedy you’ve heard of resulting from reduced or obstructed vision?
  2. As you remember the 21st anniversary of 9/11, what are your thoughts on the state of the world?
  3. How can we balance our real but shortsighted goals against the need to take the long view, especially as it relates to God’s plan?

Additional Resources

These videos and materials are for your personal use. If you show videos in class, be sure to have the necessary rights to do so.

September 4, 2022: The Call of Abram (Genesis 12:1-7; 15:1-7)

By Teacher Tips

To engage the learners in a study of the Scripture text:

Distribute copies of the “God’s Promises Fulfilled” exercise from the activity page, which you can download here. Have students work in pairs to complete the activity as indicated. After 10 minutes, ask volunteers to share their conclusions.

After the activity, make the transition to Into Life by saying, “The narrative of Abram can inform us greatly regarding obedience and emboldened faith. The next practice will demonstrate how today’s Scripture passage is more than a good story for us to read.”

To encourage personal application:

Distribute copies of the “Emboldened and Obedient” activity from the activity page. Have learners complete the activity individually in a minute.

  • If all your learners are online, consider using Zoom Breakouts (which you can learn about here).
  • If some of your learners are online and others are in the classroom with you, consider breaking the in-person learners into groups together and using Zoom Breakouts for the online learners.

Note: Whenever you distribute copies of anything, use hard-copy (paper) handouts for those physically present and e-copies for those joining online via Zoom, etc.

Tip: For a tutorial on how to use Zoom breakouts, go here. For many other Zoom tutorials, see here. A key to using Zoom effectively without fumbling is to practice ahead of time!

In the World–September 4, 2022

By "In the World"

Download “In the World” for September 4, 2022 here.

COME BACK

Several major corporations in North America have designated this Monday—Labor Day—as the day when most of their workforce must cease working exclusively from home. It is RTO (return-to-office) day. However, “Workers have grown accustomed to being able to work where and when they wish,” says Bloomberg writer Matthew Boyle, “freeing them up to care for kids, aging parents or to simply escape … and take a stroll in the backyard after lunch.” Labor Day may be when companies draw a line in the sand for their workers to come back to their desks. “In the battle of the boardroom versus the bedroom,” Boyle says, “something has to give come September.”

GO FORTH

During his life in Haran, Abram had grown wealthy and was probably anticipating enjoying his sunset years enjoying the fruit of his labors. However, the Lord God spoke to Abram and called him to leave the country of his father and journey into a land that God would show him. Once he and his family, along with his servants and flocks, had arrived in Canaan, God promised to bless Abram—and the whole earth through him. He believed the word of the Lord, and it was credited to him as righteousness.

  1. What advantages and disadvantages do you see in working from an office vs. working from home?
  2. In your current life situation, would you say you are feeling more of a tug to go out or to stay put? Explain your answer.
  3. When has God ever called you or someone you know out into an unknown land or on an adventure?

Additional Resources

These videos and materials are for your personal use. If you show videos in class, be sure to have the necessary rights to do so.

August 28, 2022: A Welcoming Invitation (Revelation 22:10-21)

By Teacher Tips

To engage the learners in a study of the Scripture text:

For deeper study on the titles of Jesus, distribute copies of the “Who Was/Is Jesus?” exercise from the activity page, which you can download here. Digging into the distinction between “meaning” and “significance” (as in lesson 11) will result in a much deeper study.

To encourage personal application:

As class wraps up, distribute copies of the “Come, Lord Jesus” exercise from the activity page as a take-home.

  • If all your learners are online, consider using Zoom Breakouts (which you can learn about here).
  • If some of your learners are online and others are in the classroom with you, consider breaking the in-person learners into groups together and using Zoom Breakouts for the online learners.

Note: Whenever you distribute copies of anything, use hard-copy (paper) handouts for those physically present and e-copies for those joining online via Zoom, etc.

Tip: For a tutorial on how to use Zoom breakouts, go here. For many other Zoom tutorials, see here. A key to using Zoom effectively without fumbling is to practice ahead of time!

In the World–August 28, 2022

By "In the World"

Download “In the World” for August 28, 2022  here.

INVITED TO A BIRTHDAY PARTY

Turning six is a big deal. So this month when one girl in England started making out the guest list for her party, she decided to send an invitation to Prince George, the nine-year-old son of Prince William and Duchess Kate. George’s parents received the invitation and ultimately decided he wouldn’t be able to attend. However, they dictated a kind note to the birthday girl. “The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge were immensely touched that you should take the trouble to write,” said the response. “It really was most thoughtful of you and Their Royal Highnesses have asked me to send you their warmest thanks and best wishes.” While she didn’t get the prince at her party, the little girl did get a personalized message from the royal family, which her mother says will always be “something amazing she can keep.”

INVITED TO THE ULTIMATE PARTY

The Spirit and the bride invite everyone who hears to receive the free gift of the water of life. When the business of the fall has been tended to and the damage undone, the party that got delayed in Eden can begin, and we’re all invited.

  1. What’s the greatest party or celebration you’ve ever been part of?
  2. Of all the people who have attended your celebrations over the years, whose presence was most meaningful to you?
  3. Revelation describes many pictures of heaven—which aspect appeals to you most?

Additional Resources

These videos and materials are for your personal use. If you show videos in class, be sure to have the necessary rights to do so.

August 21, 2022: The River of Life (Revelation 22:1-7)

By Teacher Tips

To engage the learners in a study of the Scripture text:

For cross-passage comparison, distribute copies of the “The Source of Life” exercise on the activity page, which you can download here. Have groups work to complete as indicated. After groups finish, discuss conclusions as a class.

To encourage personal application:

Distribute copies of the exercise “The Promise of Hope” from the activity page for participants to complete in pairs as indicated.

  • If all your learners are online, consider using Zoom Breakouts (which you can learn about here).
  • If some of your learners are online and others are in the classroom with you, consider breaking the in-person learners into groups together and using Zoom Breakouts for the online learners.

Note: Whenever you distribute copies of anything, use hard-copy (paper) handouts for those physically present and e-copies for those joining online via Zoom, etc.

Tip: For a tutorial on how to use Zoom breakouts, go here. For many other Zoom tutorials, see here. A key to using Zoom effectively without fumbling is to practice ahead of time!

In the World–August 21, 2022

By "In the World"

Download “In the World” for August 21, 2022 here.

FOR THE HEALING OF THE NEIGHBORHOODS

Washington, D.C., contains many pockets of financial wealth and many pockets of poverty. Two such neighborhoods are split by the Anacostia River, which is quite wide at the point where it separates the affluent Navy Yard homes from the downtrodden Ward 8 region. A highway bridge linking the neighborhoods was torn down a decade ago, but the piers and pilings were left in place. And now plans are finalizing to rebuild the bridge as an elevated park, garden, art space, and performance venue. “These communities are separated by 900 feet of water,” said Scott Kratz, one of the planners. “They have been divided for generations.” He hopes the park will bring residents from both sides together. Harriet Tregoning, former D.C.-area director of planning, agrees, calling the new bridge “a space where people who wouldn’t otherwise be in the same place would be able to mingle and do things together.”

FOR THE HEALING OF THE NATIONS

Our passage today depicts the New Jerusalem of God, through which runs a wide street with a river flowing down the middle. Straddling this river of crystal-clear water stands the tree of life, which yields twelve crops of fruit and bears fruit every month. It’s a picture of plenty and luxurious life, and its leaves are for the healing of the nations.

  1. If you wanted to bring two divided populations together in peace, how would you do it?
  2. What step could you take today to be a peacemaker or bridge-builder?
  3. In what ways is the New Jerusalem similar to the garden of Eden, and in what ways is it different?

Additional Resources

These videos and materials are for your personal use. If you show videos in class, be sure to have the necessary rights to do so.

August 14, 2022: A New City (Revelation 21:10-27)

By Teacher Tips

To begin the session:

Place in chairs (or distribute via e-mail) before learners arrive the “Gems” word-search puzzle from the activity page, which you can download here. Your early arrivers can work on this before class begins.

To engage the learners in a study of the Scripture text:

For extra study on meaning and significance (and the difference between those two terms), distribute copies of the “Meaning and Significance” exercise from the activity page to your triads, to be completed as indicated. After several minutes, reconvene for whole-class discussion.

  • If all your learners are online, consider using Zoom Breakouts (which you can learn about here).
  • If some of your learners are online and others are in the classroom with you, consider breaking the in-person learners into groups together and using Zoom Breakouts for the online learners.

Note: Whenever you distribute copies of anything, use hard-copy (paper) handouts for those physically present and e-copies for those joining online via Zoom, etc.

Tip: For a tutorial on how to use Zoom breakouts, go here. For many other Zoom tutorials, see here. A key to using Zoom effectively without fumbling is to practice ahead of time!

In the World–August 14, 2022

By "In the World"

Download “In the World” for August 14, 2022 here.

YOUR NEW CITY

Since 1989 with Sim City, fans of computer games have been able to play civic engineer and build their own dream cities. City-building games form a genre that remains popular today. Late last month, a game called Urbek City Builder became the newest entry into the category. In the game, you pick your location and biome (seaside, desert, forest, etc.) and start building your infrastructure, power grid, transportation system, housing districts, and more. You’re limited only by terrain, money, resources, and your own imagination. Urbek brings a focus on how your city will develop on its own, so long as you provide the conditions necessary. For example, if you place several homes around a park, eventually it will become condominiums. If you’ve ever wanted to build a city the “right” way, these games will let you do so.

GOD’S NEW CITY

In today’s passage, we see the new Jerusalem descending from heaven in the glittering glory of God. The city has been designed and constructed by God, and it is both functional and gorgeous. In fact, the emphasis in John’s account of the city is all on how beautiful it is and how richly adorned it is with precious jewels of all kinds. It is from this passage that we learn that heaven has pearly gates. When we finally see the city whose architect and builder is God, we will be astonished.

  1. What’s your favorite game (computer game or otherwise) of all time?
  2. If you were to build your dream city, what would it be like, and what would it have in it?
  3. When you walk the streets of the heavenly Jerusalem, what will you want to do first?

Additional Resources

These videos and materials are for your personal use. If you show videos in class, be sure to have the necessary rights to do so.

August 7, 2022: A New Home (Revelation 21:1-9)

By Teacher Tips

To engage the learners in a study of the Scripture text:

To focus on the “symbol” aspect of the first set of tasks, distribute copies of the “Words as Depictions” exercise from the activity page, which you can download here. Learners can work on this in study pairs, or they can use it as a note-taker as you work through the text. It should not be used for individual in-class study.

Another option for exploring symbolic language further is to distribute copies of the “Here Comes the Bride” exercise from the activity page, to be completed as  above.

  • If all your learners are online, consider using Zoom Breakouts (which you can learn about here).
  • If some of your learners are online and others are in the classroom with you, consider breaking the in-person learners into groups together and using Zoom Breakouts for the online learners.

Note: Whenever you distribute copies of anything, use hard-copy (paper) handouts for those physically present and e-copies for those joining online via Zoom, etc.

Tip: For a tutorial on how to use Zoom breakouts, go here. For many other Zoom tutorials, see here. A key to using Zoom effectively without fumbling is to practice ahead of time!

In the World–August 7, 2022

By "In the World"

Download “In the World” for August 7, 2022 here.

A NEW BRIDE AND A BURNED HOME

Steve and Andrea Ward of Mariposa County, California, were married last month under a wooden arch in the yard of what was to be their home. Shortly after their wedding, a wildfire broke out, quickly expanding to more than 15,000 acres and forcing over 6,000 residents to evacuate—including the Wards. The fire did take their home, burning it to the ground in a matter of minutes. The newlyweds were allowed to return to the site late last month, where almost everything was gone. The wooden arch had burned away, except for part of its base. “If I gotta prioritize keeping her safe versus keeping the house safe,” said Steve Ward of his new bride, “I’m gonna take her…. What was more important that was built in that … was strong bonds and a stronger love.”

A NEW BRIDE AND AN ETERNAL HOME

The Bible concludes with an account of heaven and the glorious eternity that believers will share with the Lord. In today’s passage, the new Jerusalem descends from heaven adorned as a bride arriving at her wedding. The home the Lord will share with His beloved will never burn or fade, and every tear will be wiped away, replaced by joy.

  1. When were you most affected by a fire?
  2. What’s the funniest newlywed story you know?
  3. What are you most looking forward to about heaven?

Additional Resources

These videos and materials are for your personal use. If you show videos in class, be sure to have the necessary rights to do so.

July 31, 2022: The Word Gives Peace (John 14:15-29)

By Teacher Tips

To engage the learners in a study of the Scripture text:

Distribute copies of the two exercises on the activity page, which you can download here. Do both parts of the Inductive study activity in groups.

  • If all your learners are online, consider using Zoom Breakouts (which you can learn about here).
  • If some of your learners are online and others are in the classroom with you, consider breaking the in-person learners into groups together and using Zoom Breakouts for the online learners.

Note: Whenever you distribute copies of anything, use hard-copy (paper) handouts for those physically present and e-copies for those joining online via Zoom, etc.

Tip: For a tutorial on how to use Zoom breakouts, go here. For many other Zoom tutorials, see here. A key to using Zoom effectively without fumbling is to practice ahead of time!

In the World–July 31, 2022

By "In the World"

Download “In the World” for July 31, 2022 here.

PEACE AS THE WORLD GIVES

The Russian invasion continues, and nowhere in Ukraine seems safe—not even 167 miles away from the fighting. Earlier this month, Liza Dmytriyeva, a little four-year-old girl with Down syndrome, played big-girl in a park in the city of Vinnytsia, pushing her own stroller and smiling up at her mommy in a video posted to social media. Photos from hours later show the stroller on its side, mangled and bloody, marking the spot where Liza was killed by a Russian cruise missile that destroyed the medical center nearby. The peace the world gives—assuring families that being far away from the battlefield will keep them safe—is not real peace.

PEACE AS THE LORD GIVES

On the night Jesus was to be betrayed, he promised that though he himself was going away from his disciples for a while, they would see him again. Better yet, he would come to them in the form of a helper or advocate, the Spirit of truth, so he could be in them—and they in Him—forever. The Holy Spirit brings the peace that Jesus carried inside him, and no act of war, disease, or death can ever separate those who believe in him from the peace he gives.

  1. What has been your strongest reaction to the war in Ukraine?
  2. When has human or earthly peace failed you?
  3. How have you felt the peace of the Lord—and have you experienced it lately?

Additional Resources

These videos and materials are for your personal use. If you show videos in class, be sure to have the necessary rights to do so.

July 24, 2022: The Word Resurrects (John 11:17-27, 38-44)

By Teacher Tips

To begin the session:

Distribute copies of the “(Mis) conceptions About Death” exercise on the activity page, which you can download here. Have participants work in pairs to complete as indicated. After five minutes, reconvene for whole-class sharing of insights regarding the stages of life. Do not discuss the compare/contrast with 1 Corinthians 15 at this point; save that for Into the Word.

After the above, lead into Bible study by saying, “Even though we may not want to think about it, death is a regular part of life. But that won’t always be the case. Let’s see why.”

To engage the learners in a study of the Scripture text:

Return to the “(Mis)conceptions About Death” activity to compare and contrast the stages-of-life views of death with what Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15.

  • If all your learners are online, consider using Zoom Breakouts (which you can learn about here).
  • If some of your learners are online and others are in the classroom with you, consider breaking the in-person learners into groups together and using Zoom Breakouts for the online learners.

Note: Whenever you distribute copies of anything, use hard-copy (paper) handouts for those physically present and e-copies for those joining online via Zoom, etc.

Tip: For a tutorial on how to use Zoom breakouts, go here. For many other Zoom tutorials, see here. A key to using Zoom effectively without fumbling is to practice ahead of time!

In the World–July 24, 2022

By "In the World"

Download “In the World” for July 24, 2022 here.

BELIEF AND TENNIS GLORY

Two weeks ago, tennis star Elena Rybakina won the women’s singles final at Wimbledon. Though she was born in Russia, she moved to Kazakhstan and has been playing for them for four years. “I’m really happy representing Kazakhstan,” she said before the finals. “They believed in me.” In the final match, Rybakina, then ranked #17 in the world, gained glory by defeating #3-ranked Ons Jabeur in three sets. She again hailed Kazakhstan’s belief in her, noting that the president of their tennis federation had come to some of her matches. “It’s really a big thing,” Rybakina said. “It’s unbelievable support, which I just appreciate.”

BELIEF AND GOD’S GLORY

Four days after Lazarus had been laid in his tomb, Jesus arrived at the home where Martha and Mary grieved the death of their brother. Jesus assured Martha that her brother would rise again. And while her great faith allowed her to believe in Jesus’ power to resurrect, Martha’s still believed they would find a rotting corpse if they opened Lazarus’ tomb. Jesus gently reminded her that if she believed in Him, she would see the glory of God—and after Jesus prayed, Lazarus emerged from the tomb alive.

  1. How does someone’s belief in you help you perform at a high level?
  2. Whom do you know who needs someone to believe in them today?
  3. When have you believed God and seen His glory?

Additional Resources

These videos and materials are for your personal use. If you show videos in class, be sure to have the necessary rights to do so.

July 17, 2022: The Word Saves (John 12:44-50)

By Teacher Tips

To engage the learners in a study of the Scripture text:

Distribute copies of the “Light and Dark” activity from the activity page, which you can download here. Have learners work in pairs to complete the activity as indicated.

To encourage personal application:

Distribute copies of the “Light Meter” activity from the activity page. Have learners work in pairs to complete the activity as indicated. After no more than five minutes, have volunteers give their answers to the third question on the handout.

  • If all your learners are online, consider using Zoom Breakouts (which you can learn about here).
  • If some of your learners are online and others are in the classroom with you, consider breaking the in-person learners into groups together and using Zoom Breakouts for the online learners.

Note: Whenever you distribute copies of anything, use hard-copy (paper) handouts for those physically present and e-copies for those joining online via Zoom, etc.

Tip: For a tutorial on how to use Zoom breakouts, go here. For many other Zoom tutorials, see here. A key to using Zoom effectively without fumbling is to practice ahead of time!

In the World–July 17, 2022

By "In the World"

Download “In the World” for July 17, 2022 here.

CAN’T BELIEVE IT

After a 21-year dry spell, the Colorado Avalanche NHL hockey team won the Stanley Cup last month, beating the Tampa Bay Lightning in six games. After the victory celebration on the ice, with the Avs team posing for the camera beside the big metal statue, the Stanley Cup was taken away so it could later be delivered to the home of the Avs team captain, Gabriel Landeskog. Unfortunately, the delivery team couldn’t read the street address in front of the houses and accidentally delivered it to the wrong home. “I couldn’t believe it!” said Kit Karbler, the temporary holder of the Stanley Cup. “I knew that we had Avalanche players that lived in the neighborhood, but I didn’t know how close!” After much friendly laughter and a rare photo op, the delivery team took the trophy to its rightful resting place next door.

MUST BELIEVE IT

Jesus came into the world as its light—and as the perfect representation of His Father. He brought into the family of God all those who believed Jesus had been sent by Him. He also believed that every word His Father gave Him to say led to eternal life, so He carefully delivered each one to His hearers exactly as He’d received them from God.

  1. What’s the funniest story you know of something delivered to the wrong person—or of the wrong thing delivered to the right person?
  2. When have you had to be absolutely certain that you delivered a message with perfect accuracy?
  3. Which command(s) of God did Jesus deliver that lead to eternal life?

Additional Resources

These videos and materials are for your personal use. If you show videos in class, be sure to have the necessary rights to do so.

July 10, 2022: The Word Heals (John 4:46-54)

By Teacher Tips

To engage the learners in a study of the Scripture text:

Distribute copies of “Significant Miracles” exercise from the activity page, which you can download here. Have learners work in pairs to complete as indicated. After 10 minutes, ask volunteers to share their findings.

  • If all your learners are online, consider using Zoom Breakouts (which you can learn about here).
  • If some of your learners are online and others are in the classroom with you, consider breaking the in-person learners into groups together and using Zoom Breakouts for the online learners.

To encourage personal application:

Distribute copies of the “Seeking God’s Power” activity from the activity page. Have learners work in pairs to complete the activity as indicated.

Note: Whenever you distribute copies of anything, use hard-copy (paper) handouts for those physically present and e-copies for those joining online via Zoom, etc.

Tip: For a tutorial on how to use Zoom breakouts, go here. For many other Zoom tutorials, see here. A key to using Zoom effectively without fumbling is to practice ahead of time!

In the World–July 10, 2022

By "In the World"

Download “In the World” for July 10, 2022 here.

SEEING THE MIRACULOUS

In just a few days (July 12), the very first full-color images from the new James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) are scheduled to be released to the public. The telescope itself is an engineering miracle, having been folded up origami-style to fit inside its launch vehicle and then unfolded in space. But the infrared images it is set to deliver could revolutionize our understanding of the physical universe. With a clarity and magnification greater than any previous telescope, including Hubble, and with infrared’s ability to peer through stellar dust, JWST is poised to wow us with miraculous images and take its place as the greatest space telescope ever built.

BELIEVING THE MIRACULOUS

A royal official from Capernaum traveled to Jesus and begged Him to come heal his son, who was dying. After challenging His listeners to believe in God without first seeing miracles, Jesus promised the father that his son would live. The man took Jesus at His word—believing in Him with no miracle already witnessed—and returned to Capernaum, where he found that his son had been healed at the hour Jesus had promised the miracle.

  1. What’s your favorite thing to gaze at when you look into the night sky?
  2. What miracle or miracles have you seen God perform?
  3. When have you believed God would do something and then you later saw Him bring it to pass?

Additional Resources

These videos and materials are for your personal use. If you show videos in class, be sure to have the necessary rights to do so.

July 3, 2022: The Word Becomes Flesh (John 1:1-14)

By Teacher Tips

To engage the learners in a study of the Scripture text:

Distribute copies of the “Word/Creator/Light” exercise from the activity page, which you can download here. Have learners complete it individually before discussing conclusions in small groups.

Divide the class into pairs and distribute copies of the “A Witness to the Light” activity from the activity page. Have learners work in pairs to complete as indicated. After calling time under either activity, have groups or pairs present their findings in whole class discussion.

  • If all your learners are online, consider using Zoom Breakouts (which you can learn about here).
  • If some of your learners are online and others are in the classroom with you, consider breaking the in-person learners into groups together and using Zoom Breakouts for the online learners.

Note: Whenever you distribute copies of anything, use hard-copy (paper) handouts for those physically present and e-copies for those joining online via Zoom, etc.

Tip: For a tutorial on how to use Zoom breakouts, go here. For many other Zoom tutorials, see here. A key to using Zoom effectively without fumbling is to practice ahead of time!

In the World–July 3, 2022

By "In the World"

Download “In the World” for July 3, 2022 here.

DON’T MISS THE POINT

This Fourth of July, if you go out to watch fireworks, don’t forget that this is a celebration of freedom and unity. Don’t miss the point, as some did last month in Disney World. A couple had staked out the perfect spot to watch fireworks at Cinderella Castle, but shortly before the program began, a family tried to get right in front of them. A physical altercation broke out, first between the wives and then between the husbands. With the result that the police were called and one of the women went to the hospital with a brain bleed. These couples missed the point of ending a fun day at the Happiest Place on Earth by fighting over watching fireworks.

DON’T MISS THE MESSIAH

The Son of God made the entire universe, yet when He walked among His creation, people did not honor Him. Most did not even recognize Him, and fewer still believed in Him. The Light that gives light to the world walked through the darkness, and yet He was not recognized. But some people listened to what John the Baptist said, and some observed the words and works of Jesus, and they did not let Him pass them by. Those who believed in Him received the greatest freedom imaginable.

  1. What are your best memories of fireworks?
  2. When have you or someone else completely missed the point of what was happening?
  3. How can we make sure we don’t miss what Jesus is doing in our own day?

Additional Resources

These videos and materials are for your personal use. If you show videos in class, be sure to have the necessary rights to do so.

June 26, 2022: God Offers Deliverance (Isaiah 51:1-8)

By Teacher Tips

To begin the session:

Distribute the “What Are You Searching For?” exercise from the activity page, which you can download here. Allow learners one minute to individually find as many words related to today’s lesson as they can before allowing them to work in pairs for a few minutes longer. Allow time briefly to discuss the final answer together.

  • If all your learners are online, consider using Zoom Breakouts (which you can learn about here).
  • If some of your learners are online and others are in the classroom with you, consider breaking the in-person learners into groups together and using Zoom Breakouts for the online learners.

After the activity, say, “In today’s lesson, we will see how God turns his people’s focus in different directions to help them become oriented to who he is and who he has called them to be.”

To engage the learners in a study of the Scripture text:

Divide the class into four small groups. Distribute to each group the “Look Around!” exercise from the activity page. Ask the groups to study and discuss the verses together, completing as directed. Then bring the class back together to discuss further.

Note: Whenever you distribute copies of anything, use hard-copy (paper) handouts for those physically present and e-copies for those joining online via Zoom, etc.

Tip: For a tutorial on how to use Zoom breakouts, go here. For many other Zoom tutorials, see here. A key to using Zoom effectively without fumbling is to practice ahead of time!

In the World–June 26, 2022

By "In the World"

Download “In the World” for June 26, 2022 here.

IGNORING THE GUIDANCE OF EXPERTS

Soccer (globally known as football) is a high-speed, sometimes violent game in which head injuries are common. There is pressure from teams, owners, and fans for injured players to continue playing. This can result in extremely serious injuries, including permanent brain damage. This month, the sport’s global governing body, the International Football Association Board (IFAB), received an open letter from the Professional Footballers’ Association, prominent ex-players, and a top consultant neuropathologist urging changes. But the letter’s recommendations were rejected. “It’s disappointing to hear,” said Penny Watson, wife of former England captain Dave Watson, who now lives with dementia due to multiple concussions suffered in football, “that IFAB do not seem to listen to the suggestions and advice from those eminent people involved in the head injury debate.”

HEEDING THE GUIDANCE OF GOD

Many messages delivered through God’s prophets were calling the people back to obedience. But occasionally, a portion of the people received praise from the Lord. This week’s passage contains a message Isaiah delivered to those in Judah who pursued righteousness and heeded God’s instructions. The Lord promised to destroy those who threatened them and to turn Judah’s deserts into gardens. God knows the ones whose hearts are truly His.

  1. When have you ignored experts’ advice to your own detriment?
  2. What advantages come to those who pursue righteousness and seek the Lord?
  3. How could Isaiah have handled being the bearer of bad news from God so often?

Additional Resources

These videos and materials are for your personal use. If you show videos in class, be sure to have the necessary rights to do so.

June 19, 2022: God’s People Shall Prosper (Isaiah 49:18-23)

By Teacher Tips

To begin the session:

Distribute copies of the “Bedtime Story” exercise from the activity page, which you can download here, to be completed as directed alone or in pairs. Bring the class together and allow volunteers to read their completed stories before discussing the questions together as a class.

After the activity say, “In today’s lesson we’ll explore the promises God made to his people and how they responded.”

To encourage personal application:

Bring the original pairs from the first activity back together. Ask them to discuss what evidence of the Lord’s faithfulness and redemption they saw in the reunion they described. If none, ask them to imagine how the experience would have been different if God’s work had been more evident in that gathering. Allow volunteers to share with the class.

  • If all your learners are online, consider using Zoom Breakouts (which you can learn about here).
  • If some of your learners are online and others are in the classroom with you, consider breaking the in-person learners into groups together and using Zoom Breakouts for the online learners.

Note: Whenever you distribute copies of anything, use hard-copy (paper) handouts for those physically present and e-copies for those joining online via Zoom, etc.

Tip: For a tutorial on how to use Zoom breakouts, go here. For many other Zoom tutorials, see here. A key to using Zoom effectively without fumbling is to practice ahead of time!

In the World–June 19, 2022

By "In the World"

Download “In the World” for June 19, 2022 here.

REVERSAL OF AGING IN MICE

This month, a molecular biologist at Harvard Medical School announced success at resetting certain cells to an earlier age. Dr. David Sinclair’s lab has used special proteins to turn aging cells in mice back into stem cells, essentially reversing the ravages of time. This was done first in old mice with damaged retinas, returning their vision to levels they had in youth. Sinclair has had success with mouse muscles and brains, as well, and is working to reverse aging on a mouse’s entire body. While it will take years of further testing and analysis before any such treatment would be approved for humans, that is the future Sinclair envisions. “We’ve done it in a mouse,” he says. “There’s no reason I can think of why it shouldn’t work in a person, too.”

REVERSAL OF FORTUNE IN ISRAEL

Though God had disciplined the children of Israel for their disobedience and idolatry, He always had their restoration in mind. Through Isaiah, the Lord declared images of reversal, such as the ruined land once again thriving and the depleted population coming to exceed the space available inside their borders. God would bring other nations to give tribute to His people, too, once more lifting up all those who put their hope in Him.

  1. If science offered the chance to reverse aging on any one part of your body, which would you choose?
  2. What advantages and disadvantages can you foresee if humans gained the ability to stave off death indefinitely?
  3. In the Bible, when else did the Lord completely reverse someone’s situation?

Additional Resources

These videos and materials are for your personal use. If you show videos in class, be sure to have the necessary rights to do so.

June 12, 2022: God Foretells of Redemption (Isaiah 49:1-13)

By Teacher Tips

To engage the learners in a study of the Scripture text:

Distribute the “Acceptance Speech” exercise from the activity page, which you can download here. Ask pairs to complete only the “Servant’s Speech” column for now.

  • If all your learners are online, consider using Zoom Breakouts (which you can learn about here).
  • If some of your learners are online and others are in the classroom with you, consider breaking the in-person learners into groups together and using Zoom Breakouts for the online learners.

After the activity, ask groups to briefly summarize their responses for the whole group. Allow time for discussion.

To encourage personal application:

Distribute one “Servant Leader” exercise from the activity page to all the learners. Give them one minute to consider the activity before pairing up. Tell them their new partner is their accountability partner for the week to encourage them to do what they have brainstormed.

Note: Whenever you distribute copies of anything, use hard-copy (paper) handouts for those physically present and e-copies for those joining online via Zoom, etc.

Tip: For a tutorial on how to use Zoom breakouts, go here. For many other Zoom tutorials, see here. A key to using Zoom effectively without fumbling is to practice ahead of time!

In the World–June 12, 2022

By "In the World"

Download “In the World” for June 12, 2022 here.

LIGHT ECLIPSED

On the night of May 15–16, most of the Western hemisphere and beyond were united in witnessing a total lunar eclipse. Because this happened when the moon was near its closest distance to earth (lunar perigee), the moon seemed especially large in the sky. Sunlight refracted through the earth’s atmosphere, tinging its shadow red, giving the eclipsed moon that color, and earning it the status of a “super blood moon.” People from Canada to Argentina and from California to Italy—from dozens of languages, races, and religions—stood together and watched the light of the moon go dim.

LIGHT UNVEILED

Though the children of Israel were convinced that God was theirs alone and that salvation was for the Jewish people only, that had never been God’s design. The prophet Isaiah was frustrated with the hardness of heart among the people, feeling that he had served the Lord in vain. But God’s plan was well under way to make redemption shine forth as a light to all, uniting people from every land, language, and race in Christ.

  1. What’s the most spectacular eclipse you’ve ever witnessed?
  2. What causes you to feel a kinship with all people, even those who look or speak differently than you do?
  3. How do you think Isaiah felt when he heard that God’s salvation was meant for the Gentiles too? How do you think Isaiah’s listeners would’ve felt when they heard it?

Additional Resources

These videos and materials are for your personal use. If you show videos in class, be sure to have the necessary rights to do so.

June 5, 2022: God Foretells Destruction (Isaiah 47:10-15)

By Teacher Tips

To begin the session:

Distribute copies of the “Advice in the Stars?” exercise from the activity page, which you can download here. Encourage class members to work in pairs to complete as indicated. Invite volunteers to share their responses with the group.

  • If all your learners are online, consider using Zoom Breakouts (which you can learn about here).
  • If some of your learners are online and others are in the classroom with you, consider breaking the in-person learners into groups together and using Zoom Breakouts for the online learners.

To encourage personal application:

Distribute copies of the “Am I Safe?” exercise on the activity page and allow the pairs to use Part 1 to help them keep track of their answers. Gather the class together to discuss their answers.

Note: Whenever you distribute copies of anything, use hard-copy (paper) handouts for those physically present and e-copies for those joining online via Zoom, etc.

Tip: For a tutorial on how to use Zoom breakouts, go here. For many other Zoom tutorials, see here. A key to using Zoom effectively without fumbling is to practice ahead of time!

In the World–June 5, 2022

By "In the World"

Download “In the World” for June 5, 2022 here.

UNRELIABLE CRIMINALS

Ransomware is a crime in which hackers gain access to a victim’s computer network and demand payment to return control to the owners. Victims range from individuals all the way up to huge companies and even entire cities. Part of the agreed-upon arrangement in ransomware, says cybersecurity expert Charles Carmakal, is that hacker gangs promise to abide by the deal and not simply seize control again tomorrow or release embarrassing data even if the victim pays. But as this crime becomes more mainstream, unscrupulous hackers join in, many with no intention of honoring a deal. Carmakal says victims could pay the ransom and yet still see their data leaked. Such unreliable criminals could give hackers a bad name.

UNRELIABLE SORCERY

The people of Judah in Isaiah’s day had turned to magic spells and astrology to bring them good fortune and protect them from calamity. But the prophet sought to turn them back to the Lord. He delivered God’s warning that soon a disaster would come upon them that they could not dispel with their magic nor ward off with any ransom. All such protections would prove futile and unreliable in the end.

  1. Which aspect of computer technology do you like best? Which do you like least?
  2. What do you think of the notion of honor among thieves?
  3. When have you given up on something unreliable in exchange for more faith in the Lord?

Additional Resources

These videos and materials are for your personal use. If you show videos in class, be sure to have the necessary rights to do so.

May 29, 2022: The Fruit of Freedom (Galatians 5:16-26)

By Teacher Tips

To engage the learners in a study of the Scripture text:

Distribute copies of the “What Kind of Fruit?” activity from the activity page, which you can download here. Have learners work in pairs to complete the activity as indicated.

  • If all your learners are online, consider using Zoom Breakouts (which you can learn about here).
  • If some of your learners are online and others are in the classroom with you, consider breaking the in-person learners into groups together and using Zoom Breakouts for the online learners.

After calling time for the activity, have each group present their findings for whole-class discussion. Use the lesson commentary to correct misconceptions regarding the Spirit’s fruit.

To encourage personal application:

Distribute copies of the “Read All About It!” exercise from the activity page. Have learners work in small groups to complete the activity as indicated. After 10 minutes, have each group share their findings.

End class with a prayer asking God to help each class member demonstrate the Spirit’s fruit in the coming week.

Note: Whenever you distribute copies of anything, use hard-copy (paper) handouts for those physically present and e-copies for those joining online via Zoom, etc.

Tip: For a tutorial on how to use Zoom breakouts, go here. For many other Zoom tutorials, see here. A key to using Zoom effectively without fumbling is to practice ahead of time!

In the World–May 29, 2022

By "In the World"

Download “In the World” for May 29, 2022 here.

A NEW LIFE AFTER LEAVING HOLLYWOOD

When she was 9, Melissa Gilbert played Laura Ingalls on Little House on the Prairie. Now, at age 58, she has finally put Hollywood behind and given herself permission to age. Growing up in Tinseltown led Gilbert to pursue superficial standards of youth and beauty. Before long, she was obsessed with her weight and was going down the path of Botox and cosmetic surgery. As she says in her new book, Back to the Prairie, “I finally woke up and went, ‘What am I doing?’” She and her husband moved to the Catskills to restore an old hunting cabin and live in the country. “I’m excited about this,” she says about aging and rediscovering herself. “I love all these changes and watching what’s happening and getting to know this new person.”

A NEW LIFE AFTER COMING TO CHRIST

Paul wrote his letter to the Galatians to remind the believers there that life in Christ meant freedom from and freedom to. Jesus had set them free from all the old behaviors they had come out of—envying, fighting, carousing, sensuality, and the rest. And He had set them free to walk in the Spirit and to enjoy the new person this allowed each one of them to become.

  1. Who was your favorite TV star when you were younger?
  2. What’s something you had to put behind you to go on to maturity?
  3. Which aspect of the fruit of the Spirit do you want more of in your life?

Additional Resources

These videos and materials are for your personal use. If you show videos in class, be sure to have the necessary rights to do so.

May 22, 2022: Freedom, Love, and Faith (Galatians 5:1-15)

By Teacher Tips

To engage the learners in a study of the Scripture text:

Distribute copies of the “Love Your Neighbor” activity from the activity page, which you can download here. Have learners divide into pairs and complete the activity as indicated.

  • If all your learners are online, consider using Zoom Breakouts (which you can learn about here).
  • If some of your learners are online and others are in the classroom with you, consider breaking the in-person learners into groups together and using Zoom Breakouts for the online learners.

To encourage personal application:

Distribute copies of the “Who’s My Neighbor?” exercise from the activity page. Encourage everyone to complete the activity at home, as directed, and be prepared to share their experiences with the class at the start of next week’s time.

Note: Whenever you distribute copies of anything, use hard-copy (paper) handouts for those physically present and e-copies for those joining online via Zoom, etc.

Tip: For a tutorial on how to use Zoom breakouts, go here. For many other Zoom tutorials, see here. A key to using Zoom effectively without fumbling is to practice ahead of time!

In the World–May 22, 2022

By "In the World"

Download “In the World” for May 22, 2022 here.

A RETURN TO THE GOOD OLD DAYS

“Just look at this,” said octogenarian Joaquin Diaz as he led the Cinco de Mayo parade in Saginaw, MI. “We needed this.” Diaz and his late wife, Cruz, founded the city’s parade in 1979. After running annually for fifty years, health concerns over COVID-19 caused the event to be cancelled for the previous two years. This year, with pandemic restrictions lightened, Diaz rode in his pickup ahead of hundreds of vehicles in the parade, delighting the thousands of people who turned out to watch. “It’s so wonderful to be out here again,” he said. “This reminds me of the good old days.”

A RETURN TO THE BAD OLD DAYS

The Apostle Paul had founded the church in Galatia on the solid rock of freedom in Jesus Christ. However, not long after he left, someone tricked the believers into surrendering their freedom and returning to the bad old days of slavery to sin and law. When the news reached Paul, he was baffled. What—short of sorcery or a smooth-talking salesman with something to gain—could convince people walking in freedom to voluntarily downgrade their lives and submit to bondage again? He urged them to resist the lie and fight for their freedom in Christ.

  1. What’s something you remember from the good old days that you wish would come back?
  2. When have you seen someone knowingly reject a superior solution or return to an inferior way of life?
  3. How do Christians today return to a bondage to law or the primitive, pre-Christian life of unbelievers?

Additional Resources

These videos and materials are for your personal use. If you show videos in class, be sure to have the necessary rights to do so.

May 15, 2022: Freedom and the Law (Galatians 3:18-29)

By Teacher Tips

To engage the learners in a study of the Scripture text:

Divide the class into three groups. To each group distribute copies of the “What About Baptism?” exercise on the activity page, which you can download here. Have groups complete the activity as indicated. Ask a volunteer from each group to share their final definition.

  • If all your learners are online, consider using Zoom Breakouts (which you can learn about here).
  • If some of your learners are online and others are in the classroom with you, consider breaking the in-person learners into groups together and using Zoom Breakouts for the online learners.

To encourage personal application:

Distribute copies of the “Adopted to a New Life” exercise on the activity page as a take-home. As a motive to complete it, state that you will begin the next class session by reviewing volunteers’ results.

Note: Whenever you distribute copies of anything, use hard-copy (paper) handouts for those physically present and e-copies for those joining online via Zoom, etc.

Tip: For a tutorial on how to use Zoom breakouts, go here. For many other Zoom tutorials, see