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David C Cook Editorial

January 24, 2021: Called for the World’s Belief (John 17:14-24)

By Teacher Tips

To begin the session:

Distribute copies of the “What I Pray for Most” exercise on the activity page, which can be downloaded here. Allow one minute to complete; then call for volunteers to share the entries on their lists. Make a transition by saying, “Today as we look at a prayer priority of Jesus, it will be interesting to compare and contrast it with our typical prayers.”

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

If you used the “What I Pray for Most” exercise on the activity page, distribute copies of the “The Prayer Requests of Jesus” exercise from that same page for learners to complete as indicated in study pairs. After three minutes, compare and contrast the results of the two exercises.

  • 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–January 24, 2021

By "In the World"

Download “In the World” for January 24, 2021 here.

UNIFIED BY THE OLYMPIC SPIRIT

As we anticipate the 2021 Olympic Games in Tokyo, we may recall that the 2008 Beijing Games were the scene of an incredible display of Olympic spirit. The Danish sailing team was favored to win the gold medal in the men’s 49er competition, but in rough seas just before the final race began, their mast broke. When the team from Croatia, who had not qualified for the medal race, heard that the Danish team needed a boat, they sprinted to the marina to get theirs rigged for the race. “For them it was just a natural thing to do—‘These boys need a boat, we have a boat, they’re getting our boat,’” one of the Danish sailors recalled. “They were true legends, really nice guys showing true sportsmanship.” The Danish team went on to win gold.

UNIFIED BY THE HOLY SPIRIT

Christians around the world and across time are united by the Holy Spirit. Truly, we may have more in common with a brother or sister from a completely different culture or era than we do with our next-door neighbor. Jesus prayed that the world would comprehend that this unity is a sign that the same Spirit is within us all, which would be a further testimony that He and the Father are one.

  1. What club, alma mater, or affiliation best unites you with people who are otherwise strangers to you?
  2. If there were no language barrier, what could you talk about with a believer in a very different culture?
  3. How well or poorly do you think the world sees unity in the Church, and why do you think that is?

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.

Get unlimited access to “Unpacking This Week’s Lesson” podcast when you sign up for our Church Support Program: https://churchsupport.davidccook.org/

www.standardlesson.com/category/in-the-world
Copyright © 2021 by Standard Publishing, part of the David C Cook family.
All rights reserved. Each download is for the use of one church only.

January 17, 2021: Called in Authority (Mark 2:1-12)

By Teacher Tips

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

Distribute copies of the “Be Healed!” exercise on the activity page, which you can download here. Assign each Scripture there to a different class member or study pair to paraphrase and then share results with the whole 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.

To encourage personal application:

Distribute copies of the “Finding Forgiveness” exercise on the activity page. Have learners work in study pairs to complete it. Allow time for whole-class sharing.

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–January 17, 2021

By "In the World"

Download “In the World” for January 17, 2021 here.

EMPLOYEES MADE WHOLE

In April of last year, the aldermen of Starkville, Mississippi, instituted a 20 percent pay cut for many of its city employees. The goal was to compensate for the drastic reduction in sales tax revenue due to COVID-19. Pay for these employees was returned to its normal level in July. But then, in November, the city approved a measure to compensate those employees with a 20 percent pay increase for the same amount of time that the pay reduction ran. “I think it was incredibly important to make those people whole,” Mayor Lynn Spruill said. “It was a matter of fairness and equity, since we have the capability to do it.”

FORGIVENESS MADE WHOLE

When Jesus healed the man with paralysis who had been lowered through the roof, He said the man’s sins were forgiven. Some teachers of the Law took offense at this, thinking He was blaspheming, since only God can forgive sins. Jesus pointed out that it was easier to say that a person was forgiven than to declare that the person was healed, because the former is invisible while the latter can be immediately ascertained. To prove that He could do the invisible forgiving, he performed the visible healing. Jesus makes us whole in all ways.

  1. When have you seen someone “made whole” in a financial sense?
  2. What’s something that is easy to claim but hard to prove?
  3. In what ways have you been broken by life or sin but made whole by Jesus?

Get unlimited access to “Unpacking This Week’s Lesson” podcast when you sign up for our Church Support Program: https://churchsupport.davidccook.org/

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.

Get unlimited access to “Unpacking This Week’s Lesson” podcast when you sign up for our Church Support Program: https://churchsupport.davidccook.org/

www.standardlesson.com/category/in-the-world
Copyright © 2021 by Standard Publishing, part of the David C Cook family.
All rights reserved. Each download is for the use of one church only.

In the World–January 10, 2021

By "In the World"

Download “In the World” for January 10, 2021 here.

CAREER CHANGE TO EMPOWER WOMEN

In 2014, Chiney Ogwumike was chosen #1 in the WNBA draft. She played in the US and also in Italy in China. As a basketball player, she used her platform for “uplifting and amplifying women in particular.” But major injuries—knee and Achilles tendon—forced her out of professional sports. She changed careers when she had the opportunity to work for ESPN. For her, broadcasting is a place “where my perspective can matter and [I can] also create other opportunities for other people that look like me.”

CAREER CHANGE TO FISH FOR MEN

When Peter saw Jesus provide the miraculous catch of fish, he knew his life would be forever changed. He fell to his knees, as Isaiah had done long before, in the presence of Almighty God. Jesus raised him up and gave him a new career—no longer as a fisherman but as a fisher-of-men. He joined Jesus’ mission to bring salvation to the world.

  1. What’s the most radical career change you’ve ever heard of anyone making?
  2. How has your life’s path been influenced by your faith in the Lord?
  3. In what ways do people change when they encounter God through faith in 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.

Get unlimited access to “Unpacking This Week’s Lesson” podcast when you sign up for our Church Support Program: https://churchsupport.davidccook.org/

www.standardlesson.com/category/in-the-world
Copyright © 2021 by Standard Publishing, part of the David C Cook family.
All rights reserved. Each download is for the use of one church only.

January 10, 2021: Called to Follow (Luke 5:1-11)

By Teacher Tips

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

Dig deeper into the first challenge by distributing to small groups the “What Were They Thinking?” exercise from the activity page, which you can download here. (Remember to text or e-mail the exercise pages to your remote learners.)

  • 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 several minutes, reconvene for whole-class discussion.

To encourage personal application:

Distribute copies of the “All to Jesus I Surrender” exercise from the activity page. Give students a minute to jot thoughts in this chart, and then invite them to share those thoughts with a study partner. End the class session by leading the class in singing “All to Jesus I Surrender.” Provide copies of additional stanzas as appropriate.

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!

January 3, 2021: Called to Proclaim (Luke 4:14-22a)

By Teacher Tips

To begin the session:

Distribute copies of the “Minute Match” exercise from the activity page, which you can download here. (Remember to text or e-mail the exercise pages to your remote learners.) Allow no more than one minute for the matching part; how much time to allow for the compare part is at your discretion.

To encourage personal application:

Extend the above activity by distributing copies of the “My Mission” prayer-writing exercise on the activity page. Use this to close the class or as a take-home.

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–January 3, 2021

By "In the World"

Download “In the World” for January 3, 2021 here.

DOING GOOD IN THE WORLD

Many of today’s young people are keenly interested in committing their lives to careers that will actually do good in the world. A recent article published for Thompson Rivers University in British Columbia, Canada, highlights study programs the school offers that lead to jobs that aim to make people feel empowered “to enact change in the real world.” These include degrees preparing students for careers as wildlife ecologists, social workers, health care assistants, or environmental scientists. We all want to know, the article says, that “what we do in our day-to-day lives has some positive impact on those around us.”

GOOD NEWS FOR THE WORLD

Jesus’ sermon in the synagogue in Nazareth officially launched His mission to proclaim good news to the world. The message He came to give would have positive impact in the context of first-century Israel, but His eyes were on the whole cosmos and into eternity. He came to set the oppressed free, in both the physical and spiritual realms. Jesus calls His followers to the same mission.

  1. What opportunities do you have for bettering the world through your Christian witness?
  2. If you had access to unlimited resources, how would you proclaim the gospel to the world?
  3. How do you minister to people around you who don’t seem to realize that they need to be set free from sin?

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. 

Get unlimited access to “Unpacking This Week’s Lesson” podcast when you sign up for our Church Support Program: https://churchsupport.davidccook.org/

www.standardlesson.com/category/in-the-world
Copyright © 2021 by Standard Publishing, part of the David C Cook family.
All rights reserved. Each download is for the use of one church only.

In the World–December 27, 2020

By "In the World"

Get unlimited access to “Unpacking This Week’s Lesson” podcast when you sign up for our Church Support Program: https://churchsupport.davidccook.org/

Download “In the World” for December 27, 2020 here.

UP TO THE OWNER TO PROVE HIS CONCERN IS SINCERE

Last month, Steven Cohen, the new owner of the New York Mets baseball team, asked for ideas for how to improve “the Mets experience” for the team’s longsuffering fans. He engaged with several fans on Twitter, responding with sincerity and even affection. “Being open and sincere with fans is a good way to win them over and create trust,” reported Chris Cwik for Yahoo!Sports. However, as Cwik points out, “None of this guarantees Cohen will be a good owner…. It’s possible this is the best it ever gets between Cohen and the Mets’ fanbase.” But it’s an encouraging sign. In the end, whatever improvement he promises, “It will be up to Cohen to prove he’s willing to make that happen.”

UP TO THE PEOPLE TO PROVE THEIR REPENTANCE IS SINCERE

John the Baptist drew many people to his message of repentance. Those flocking to him were committing to changing their lives in anticipation of the Messiah’s arrival. Or they were at least pretending to make that commitment. If they had truly repented, John said, they needed to match their actions with their words. Real change is internal and will show itself in external behaviors.

  1. Who have you seen radically change behaviors to match a new set of beliefs?
  2. When have you seen someone’s professed reforms not matched by reformed behavior?
  3. As you move into 2021, what change would you like to see in your attitudes and 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. 

www.standardlesson.com/category/in-the-world
Copyright © 2020 by Standard Publishing, part of the David C Cook family.
All rights reserved. Each download is for the use of one church only.

December 27, 2020: Called to Prepare (Matthew 3:1-12)

By Teacher Tips

To begin the session:

Distribute copies of the “How Would You Prepare?” exercise from the activity page, which you can download here. (Remember to text or e-mail the exercise pages to your remote learners.) Have learners work in pairs to complete 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 the activity, lead into Bible study by saying, “Today’s lesson has something important to teach us about preparation. Let’s see what it is.”

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

For an extended study on baptism, distribute copies of the “Baptism in the New Testament” exercise from the activity page for learners to complete in small groups as indicated. If time is short, this can be a take-home.

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!

December 20, 2020: Called to Worship (Matthew 2:1-2, 7-15)

By Teacher Tips

To begin the session:

Before learners arrive, distribute (via text or e-mail) or place in chairs copies of the “Worship Around the World” exercise from the activity page, which you can download here. Discuss results to begin class.

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

For deeper study of Old Testament predictions of the Messiah, distribute copies of the “Old Testament Prophecies” exercise from the activity page. Have learners work in study pairs or triads to complete as indicated. After an appropriate amount of time, reconvene for whole-class comparisons of conclusions.

  • 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–December 20, 2020

By "In the World"

Get unlimited access to “Unpacking This Week’s Lesson” podcast when you sign up for our Church Support Program: https://churchsupport.davidccook.org/

Download “In the World” for December 20, 2020 here.

GOING TO GREAT LENGTHS TO DANCE

The performing arts have been hit hard by the pandemic. Audiences can’t gather and performers can’t be near one another. This fall, the Tulsa Ballet was committed to exceeding expectations both of audiences and the CDC. They rehearsed while wearing masks and standing no closer than six feet apart, breathing air purified through a system obtained by a grant. They allowed only thirty people in the audience, separated by empty seats. Their performances were shorter, due to the difficulty of dancing while wearing masks. They learned the dances via video from a choreographer in Amsterdam. As for the annual Christmas performance of The Nutcracker, it had to be canceled so as to not risk the health of the more than one hundred children in the cast. But the company feels that artists who are forced to be even more creative can truly shine.

GOING TO GREAT LENGTHS TO WORSHIP

When ancient astronomers in the Middle East observed great signs in the heavens, a group of them mounted an expedition to see what the signs were heralding. They upended their lives, perhaps for a year or more of travel, to journey to Israel and give homage to the king whose birth was announced in the stars.

  1. What are the greatest lengths you have gone to help someone or achieve something?
  2. What could happen that would make you leave your home for a year or more?
  3. If you had been there to meet the holy family, what would you have wanted to say or do?

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.

www.standardlesson.com/category/in-the-world
Copyright © 2020 by Standard Publishing, part of the David C Cook family.
All rights reserved. Each download is for the use of one church only.

December 13, 2020: Called to Be Immanuel (Matthew 1:18-25)

By Teacher Tips

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

Distribute copies of the “Joseph’s Options” exercise from the activity page, which you can download here. Have learners work in small groups to complete 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:

To extend this activity, distribute copies of “Step Up Your Thanks!” from the activity page as a take-home exercise. You have two options regarding words to be found: either include a list of the 13 to be found or don’t. The latter option will make the puzzle harder to solve and is recommended. To encourage completion, promise to call for results at the beginning of next week’s class.

In the World–December 13, 2020

By "In the World"

Get unlimited access to “Unpacking This Week’s Lesson” podcast when you sign up for our Church Support Program: https://churchsupport.davidccook.org/

Download “In the World” for December 13, 2020 here.

UNAFRAID TO ATTEMPT A RESCUE

This fall, on a rainy night in Greenacres, Florida, a car lost control, went off the busy highway, and landed in a flooded canal. Off-duty Battalion Chief Frank Marciante witnessed the accident and stopped. The car was already submerged to the top of its windows. Nevertheless, Marciante dove in, reached the young woman through the passenger side, and pulled her to safety. “If it was not for his willingness to put her life before his, the outcome would have been very different,” Fire Chief Brian Fuller said. “There were many other witnesses to this accident; however, only one got out of his vehicle and dove into the water to save her.”

UNAFRAID TO OBEY GOD’S COMMAND

When Joseph learned that Mary, his betrothed, was pregnant, he was doubtlessly outraged. Evidently, there was also an element of fear involved, because when the angel appeared to him in a dream, he told Joseph not to be afraid to take Mary for his wife. Perhaps Joseph was afraid of the social consequences of marrying her or of the scorn he and Mary—or the baby—might have to endure. But when he was assured that God was commanding him to marry her, he set his fears aside.

  1. When has fear held you back from doing something you wanted to do?
  2. What fears might prevent a wedding from going through as planned?
  3. If you have felt God calling you do to something scary, what did you do?

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. 

www.standardlesson.com/category/in-the-world
Copyright © 2020 by Standard Publishing, part of the David C Cook family.
All rights reserved. Each download is for the use of one church only.

December 6, 2020: Called to Be Heir (Matthew 1:1-6, 16-17; Hebrews 1:1-5)

By Teacher Tips

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

Distribute copies of the “Jesus’ Heritage” exercise from the activity page, which you can download here. Have students work in pairs or small groups to complete as indicated.

  • If all your learners are online, consider using Zoom Breakouts (which you can learn about here) to form study pairs.
  • If some of your learners are online and others are in the classroom with you, consider breaking the in-person learners into pairs together and using Zoom Breakouts for the online learners.

After no more than 15 minutes, have students share their conclusions. Use the commentary to fill in any gaps.

Make a transition to Into Life by saying, “While we don’t have any control over our human heritage, we do have control over our spiritual heritage.”

To encourage personal application:

Close by distributing copies of the “Jesus, My Savior, Is All Things to Me” from the activity page. As someone reads aloud the words to the hymn, encourage students to remember and acknowledge that their spiritual heritage is in Jesus—and what a wonderful heritage it is!

In the World–December 6, 2020

By "In the World"

Get unlimited access to “Unpacking This Week’s Lesson” podcast when you sign up for our Church Support Program: https://churchsupport.davidccook.org/

Download “In the World” for December 6, 2020 here.

LISTENING TO THE VIRTUAL TEACHER

With schools operating remotely due to COVID-19, many parents of young students found themselves being “helicopter parents.” Virginia Riggs, a stay-at-home mom in Chicago with three young children, sits beside them all day long to make sure they pay attention to their teachers. Her pre-K son refuses to use the unmute button on the computer when called on, so Virginia has to do so for him. All three kids fidget and sometimes get up and leave during class, and it’s a struggle to get them to listen to what their teachers are calling them to do. “The first couple of days last week,” Virginia admits, “I didn’t even eat or take a shower.”

LISTENING TO THE AWAITED MESSIAH

Both Matthew and the writer of Hebrews go to great lengths to emphasize the importance of heeding the call of Jesus, the long-awaited Messiah. Humanly speaking, Jesus has a royal heritage, descending from King David. Divinely speaking, Jesus is the radiance and glory of God the Father and the agent through whom all Creation was made. When Jesus issues a call, we must pay attention.

  1. How easy (or hard) is it to listen to a speaker who isn’t in the room with you?
  2. Who do you know with an impressive lineage or genealogy?
  3. What makes the commands that Jesus gives worth listening to?

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.

www.standardlesson.com/category/in-the-world
Copyright © 2020 by Standard Publishing, part of the David C Cook family.
All rights reserved. Each download is for the use of one church only.

In the World–November 29, 2020

By "In the World"

Get unlimited access to “Unpacking This Week’s Lesson” podcast when you sign up for our Church Support Program: https://churchsupport.davidccook.org/

Download “In the World” for November 29, 2020 here.

PREFERENTIAL TREATMENT LEADS TO DEFEAT

The NBA championship is behind us for this year, but part of the reason one team did not advance in the playoffs was the preferential treatment given to a star player. Los Angeles Clippers’ superstar Kawhi Leonard was reportedly given the authority to take himself out of games whenever he wished, to simply skip games to rest, and to live in another city. The latter frequently made him late for team flights. “When you’re one of the best players in the world, and responsible for so much of the success, the organization is going to take care of you,” wrote one reporter. “Fair or not, that’s just how it works. At a certain point, though, a line can be crossed where that arrangement starts negatively affecting other players, and that’s when things can go bad.”

PREFERENTIAL TREATMENT LEADS TO SIN

James wrote to early Christians who were bending over backward to give preferential treatment to rich people who attended their church gatherings. They also treated the poor badly, making them stand in the back or sit on the floor. Such discrimination—in favor of those who were likely to exploit or defraud others—was a gross misrepresentation of the gospel.

  1. Why do we tend to give preferential treatment to the rich, beautiful, or famous?
  2. In what ways does God honor the poor?
  3. How could you emulate God’s impartiality today?

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.

www.standardlesson.com/category/in-the-world
Copyright © 2020 by Standard Publishing, part of the David C Cook family.
All rights reserved. Each download is for the use of one church only.

November 29, 2020: Impartial Love (James 2:1-13)

By Teacher Tips

To begin the session:

Distribute copies of the matching exercise “He’ll Never Amount to Anything” from the activity page, which you can download here, for learners to work on for no more than one minute. (If you’re meeting completely or partially online, send the activity page exercise to remote class members via e-mail or text.)

After the activity, ask the class about times they reacted to someone inappropriately based on the person’s appearance, vocational failure, or other external factor. Make a transition to Bible study by noting that the Bible has much to teach us in this regard.

To encourage personal application:

Distribute copies of the exercise “A Place for Everyone?” from the activity page. Allow no more than one minute for learners working individually to complete Part 1; call for a show of hands to tally results on the board. (Be sure to share your screen—if all participants are meeting online and you’re capturing notes on your computer—or turn your webcam toward the board—if your class is a hybrid of those physically and virtually present—so your online learners can see and participate.) Engage learners in whole-class discussion to complete Part 2.

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!

Adapting Involvement Learning Activities for Online or Hybrid Use

By Teacher Tips

Many of the Involvement Learning activities in the Standard Lesson curriculum assume an in-person classroom setting. As written, such activities include distributing paper handouts, writing on the board, and breaking into pairs or small groups. If a class is conducted entirely online or a hybrid of in-person and online, these activities are not always easy to convert.

Learners may experience difficulty when some learners gather in-person and other learners attend virtually. The group of in-person learners may get into a lively discussion, leaving out the digital learners. Learners participating remotely may feel they aren’t free to “break in” and contribute to the larger conversation. Further, the teacher may speak primarily to a camera, neglecting those physically present.

This document suggests how to adapt the most common classroom elements of the Involvement Learning (IL) pages for use with an online or hybrid class—so that everyone can be included.

Whenever you see the phrases mentioned below on an IL page, refer to this document for an adaptation.

  • “you prepare”—IL pages frequently task the teacher to prepare simple handouts for distribution. In an online/hybrid classroom, consider distributing the handouts to the in-person learners, while using text or e-mail to send electronic copies of the same handout to your online learners.
  • “from the activity page”—Standard Lesson makes additional activities available via activity pages. Remember to text or e-mail the exercises on these pages to your remote learners.
  • “write on the board”—It’s important to be sure everyone—physically present and online—can see the board. If your entire class is online, “the board” becomes the software you’re using to record learners’ responses. Zoom’s share screen option will allow all virtual attendees to see those responses as the discussion progresses. If your class is a mix of in-person and virtual attendees, you can turn your webcam toward the board you’re writing on.
  • “break into pairs” or “form small groups”—Several online meeting platforms, like Zoom or Google Meet, have solutions for breaking large groups into smaller groups and then coming back together later.
    • If all your learners are online, consider using Zoom Breakout Rooms (which you can learn about online).
    • If some of your learners are online and others are physically present (a hybrid class), the former can use Zoom Breakout Rooms, while the latter gather physically.

As with any tool, the more you use it, the better you’ll become with it. Whichever software solution you use for including your online, virtual learners, practice with it ahead of time.

Several Zoom tutorials are here.

The entire Standard Lesson staff is prayerfully upholding you as you adjust to these unusual and challenging times. But even as conditions change and technology advances, nothing shakes the throne of the Lord God Almighty.

Here are the suggested replacements for Involvement Learning Activities for each lesson:

November 2020

September 2020

August 2020

July 2020

 

June 7

Into the Lesson

  • For the “Alternative” activity, consider this adjustment: Have all learners decode the message together, instead of in pairs.

Into the Word

  • Consider this adjustment: Have learners research book descriptions on Amazon.com or a book publisher’s website. Have them work silently on their own to write the back-cover copy. Get volunteers to read their summaries.

 

June 14

Into the Lesson

  • For the main activity (hiding candy), consider this adjustment: Create an online scavenger hunt by sending learners a list (you prepare) of website addresses and asking them to find a certain object, sentence, or number on each page.

Into the Word

  • For the main activity (distributing dictionaries), consider this adjustment: Get volunteers to look up the words on online dictionaries such as dictionary.com, meriam-webster.com, oed.com, or of course their own printed dictionaries.
  • For the “Option” activity, consider this adjustment: Have learners do the activity together instead of in small groups. (However, if you’re an expert Zoom user, you can use Zoom breakout rooms.)

 

June 21

Into the Word

  • For the main activity (discussing a teen’s situation), consider this adjustment: Discuss each scenario as a group, moving from “Religious” to “Educational.” If you have time, discuss the “Domestic” challenge together, as well.
  • For the “Option” activity, consider this adjustment: Instead of breaking into study pairs, complete the worksheet activity as a group. 

 

June 28

Into the Word

  • Consider this adjustment: Instead of breaking into two groups, keep everyone together but discuss arguments that someone espousing Wisdom would use and that someone displaying Folly might use. Contrast these as a group, perhaps having two volunteers engage in a short mock debate.

November 22, 2020: Responsive Love (Acts 4:32–5:11)

By Teacher Tips

To begin the session:

Distribute copies of the “Truth from an Atheist?” exercise from the activity page, which you can download here. (If you’re meeting completely or partially online, send the activity page exercise to remote class members via e-mail or text.) Have learners form study pairs to complete it as indicated.

If you’re meeting online, you might make use of Zoom breakouts to create study pairs or discussion groups. If you’re in a hybrid situation, you might group all the online people into one group and the in-person people in other groups.

After the activity ask, “As we consider our own needs and wants, how do we know when we’ve crossed the line into selfishness? And how do we ensure that our generosity isn’t really a form of selfishness? Let’s consider how today’s text can answer such questions.”

To encourage personal application:

Distribute copies of the “My Response to Need” exercise from the activity page for learners to complete the first part as indicated, time limit of one minute. This can also be a take-home exercise. If the latter, increase the likelihood of completion by announcing that you will begin the next class by asking volunteers to share 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 here. A key to using Zoom effectively without fumbling is to practice ahead of time!

In the World–November 22, 2020

By "In the World"

Get unlimited access to “Unpacking This Week’s Lesson” podcast when you sign up for our Church Support Program: https://churchsupport.davidccook.org/

Download “In the World” for November 22, 2020 here.

GOOD MOTIVES—GOOD GAME

Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson recently listed his motives for doing his very best to lead his team. His top motivation, he said, was his Christian faith, “because God’s given me this opportunity.” At least one sports writer comments that Wilson makes his faith “evident nearly every time he speaks publicly.” His second motive is his family. “I want my kids one day to see that Dad was able to do everything he could to leave it on the line for the family,” Wilson said. He also likes winning and wants to be the best in the game. Good motives result in a good example to emulate.

BAD MOTIVES—TAINTED ACT

In the early days of the Church, one couple tried to counterfeit their devotion to God, but they were found out. Ananias and Sapphira, a married couple, sold a piece of land and falsely told the Apostles that they had donated the entire purchase price to the Church. Had they simply explained that they had kept part of the proceeds for other purposes but were donating the rest, the act might’ve been pure. But by giving part yet saying they had given all, perhaps to gain more glory, they revealed their sinful motives, and God held them accountable.

  1. On Thanksgiving, we express gratitude for our blessings. How can motives—good or bad—play a part in our speech and behavior during a holiday season?
  2. Where might someone’s motives become obvious in how they play a game or perform any task?
  3. Why do you think God dealt so severely with Ananias and Sapphira?

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.

www.standardlesson.com/category/in-the-world
Copyright © 2020 by Standard Publishing, part of the David C Cook family.
All rights reserved. Each download is for the use of one church only.

November 15, 2020: Confident Love (1 John 3:11-24)

By Teacher Tips

To begin the session:

Before class begins, place in chairs copies of the “Simon Says” exercise on the activity page, which you can download here, for learners to complete as they arrive. (If you’re meeting completely or partially online, send the activity page exercise to remote class members via e-mail or text.)

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

Begin with a mini lecture on the context of the passage. Focus on the contrast between the way people of worldly and Christian outlooks interact both with those of their kind and with those of the opposite viewpoint in terms of love (or lack thereof). Distribute copies of the “God’s Outlook vs. World’s Outlook” exercise from the activity page for learners to complete as indicated. You can use it as a framework for the mini lecture.

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–November 15, 2020

By "In the World"

Get unlimited access to “Unpacking This Week’s Lesson” podcast when you sign up for our Church Support Program: https://churchsupport.davidccook.org/

Download “In the World” for November 15, 2020 here.

KINDNESS LOUDER THAN HATE

In September, legal developments in the UK edged a trial date closer for two Britons accused of terrorist killings. Alexanda Kotey and El Shafee Elsheikh had traveled to Syria to fight with ISIS. They are on trial for executing British humanitarian aid worker David Haines in 2013. His brother, Mike Haines, initially desired revenge for David’s murder, but he has since devoted his life to teaching kindness and warning of the dangers of radicalization. “The voices of hatred are loud and in all sorts of places,” Mike says. “But kindness is strong and deep…. Kindness is the greatest force in this world.”

LOVE OVERCOMING HATE

The Apostle John warned believers not to be surprised if the world hated them, and he urged them to show love anyway. Jesus showed sacrificial love, even to those who hated him. Therefore, Jesus models the way we can love our enemies.

  1. When have you seen kindness speak louder than hatred?
  2. Where can you show love even though you might be hated for doing so?
  3. Of what value is a loving act if the person rejects 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.

www.standardlesson.com/category/in-the-world
Copyright © 2020 by Standard Publishing, part of the David C Cook family.
All rights reserved. Each download is for the use of one church only.

November 8, 2020: Abiding Love (John 15:4-17)

By Teacher Tips

To begin the session:

If you wish to focus exclusively on social media, distribute copies of the “Connecting” activity from the activity page, which you can download here. (If you’re meeting completely or partially online, send the activity page exercise to remote class members via e-mail or text.)

Have learners work together in groups of three to complete as indicated. (If you’re meeting online, you might make use of Zoom breakout rooms to create study pairs or discussion groups. If you’re in a hybrid situation, you might group all the online people into one group and the in-person people in other groups.)

After the exercise, make a transition by saying, “Let’s see what today’s lesson tells us about the best way to connect with Jesus.”

To encourage personal application:

Distribute copies of the “Obeying” exercise from the activity page for learners to complete individually as indicated. When the time limit of one minute expires, ask for volunteers to share responses; don’t put anyone on the spot. Close with prayer for mentioned and unmentioned challenges.

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–November 8, 2020

By "In the World"

Download “In the World” for November 8, 2020 here.

“Unpacking This Week’s Lesson” is a podcast designed to give you additional insight to lesson context, the key verse, and applying the lesson. And you can share this podcast with your entire class—just copy the URL and email or text the link! https://soundcloud.com/user-809447765/issl-fall-2020-lesson-10Get unlimited access to the weekly lesson podcast and other materials when you sign up for our Church Support Program:  https://churchsupport.davidccook.org/.

THE ULTIMATE SACRIFICE FOR A SON

This summer, television actress Naya Rivera (33) drowned after getting her son, Josey (4), back into their boat. Rivera, who appeared on TV’s Glee, was a strong swimmer. She had rented a pontoon boat on Lake Piru northwest of Los Angeles and had tweeted the day before how much she and Josey were enjoying spending time “just the two of us.” The boy was later found asleep on the drifting boat, but Rivera’s body was not found for another five days. Experts speculated that she might have been caught in currents that rise up in that lake. Her last act was to save her son’s life.

THE ULTIMATE SACRIFICE FOR FRIENDS

Jesus called the disciples to love one another with sacrificial love. They could not know how truly Jesus would soon live out this command. No one can show greater love than to lay down his or her life for another person. The idea becomes even more amazing when we realize that the Creator laid down His life for the creature.

  1. What is the strongest illustration of sacrificial love that you have personally witnessed?
  2. How would you characterize our culture’s attitude toward denying oneself for another?
  3. Which of your rights or comforts might you lay down to love 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. 

www.standardlesson.com/category/in-the-world
Copyright © 2020 by Standard Publishing, part of the David C Cook family.
All rights reserved. Each download is for the use of one church only.

November 1, 2020: Serving Love (John 13:1-15, 34-35)

By Teacher Tips

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

If your learners need help grasping the difference between literal and figurative language, distribute copies of the “What Does the Context Imply?” exercise from the activity page, which you can download here. Have learners work in groups of three (physically and/or via Zoom breakouts) to reach understanding.

To encourage personal application:

Conclude the class with a few minutes of silent reflection by distributing copies of the “My (Un)Willingness” exercise from the activity page. Ask learners to complete this individually. Assure them that their written responses are theirs alone to keep—you will not collect them.

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–November 1, 2020

By "In the World"

Download “In the World” for November 1, 2020 here.

“Unpacking This Week’s Lesson” is a podcast designed to give you additional insight to lesson context, the key verse, and applying the lesson. And you can share this podcast with your entire class—just copy the URL and email or text the link! https://soundcloud.com/user-809447765/issl-fall-2020-lesson-09. Get unlimited access to the weekly lesson podcast and other materials when you sign up for our Church Support Program:  https://churchsupport.davidccook.org/.

FOLLOWING CHRIST’S EXAMPLE

A month ago, Rev. Greg Collins, 59, a minister in North Carolina, died of COVID-19. “Pastor Greg” was praised for his servant’s heart. A fellow minister wrote that it was especially difficult for Greg to “do pastoral care without touching people.” He confessed to sometimes feeling he couldn’t help his church thrive anymore and was just trying to help it survive. “I am going to keep on trying to be the kind of John 3:16 pastor that Greg was,” the writer said. “Love people in Jesus’ name. Serve people in Jesus’ name. And in our loving and serving, it is our prayer that more people will come to know Jesus as their Savior.”

CHRIST SETTING HIS EXAMPLE

Everything in the disciples’ experience said that the way to succeed in life was to gain prominence in the eyes of others. Even three years with Jesus had not fully overturned these beliefs. When Jesus, the most prominent among them, knelt down to wash their feet, it must have seemed so strange—even wrong. Our world values those who gain superiority over others. But God, who has all superiority, takes a servant’s towel and goes to His knees to serve.

  1. Who is the most servant-hearted person you have known?
  2. In what ways does God serve us?
  3. How can you serve others in Jesus’ name 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.

www.standardlesson.com/category/in-the-world
Copyright © 2020 by Standard Publishing, part of the David C Cook family.
All rights reserved. Each download is for the use of one church only.

October 25, 2020: Love Never Fails (1 Corinthians 13:1-13)

By Teacher Tips

To begin the session:

Distribute copies of the “Healthy or Unhealthy Love?” exercise from the activity page, which you can download here. (If you’re meeting completely or partially online, send the activity page exercise to remote class members via e-mail or text.) Have learners work in pairs to complete as indicated.

If you’re meeting online, you might make use of Zoom breakouts to create study pairs or discussion groups. If you’re in a hybrid situation, you might group all the online people into one group and the in-person people in other groups.

After the activity say, “Brace yourselves: today we are going to examine the most famous passage in the Bible on the topic of love.”

To encourage personal application:

Distribute copies of the “Using Our Gifts in Love” exercise from the activity page as a take-home to complete as indicated. To encourage its use, promise to begin next week’s class with a discussion of 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 here. Tip: A key to using Zoom effectively without fumbling is to practice ahead of time!

In the World–October 25, 2020

By "In the World"

Download “In the World” for October 25, 2020 here.

“Unpacking This Week’s Lesson” is a podcast designed to give you additional insight to lesson context, the key verse, and applying the lesson. And you can share this podcast with your entire class—just copy the URL and email or text the link! https://soundcloud.com/user-809447765/issl-fall-2020-lesson-08. Get unlimited access to the weekly lesson podcast and other materials when you sign up for our Church Support Program:  https://churchsupport.davidccook.org/.

 

LOVE ME OR DIE

This month, a New Jersey court sentenced Helder Rosa to twenty-three years in prison for aggravated manslaughter. His live-in girlfriend, Leydi Lemos-Delgado, was ending their relationship. The woman’s family told police that Helder Rosa refused to let her leave the relationship, and he obsessively called and texted to find out where she was and who she was with. One day, he took up a knife and killed her. Helder’s idea of love was possession and power, and if Leydi wouldn’t love him, he would “love” her to death.

LOVE ME OR NOT

The love of God is faithful, patient, and humble. It does not demand. It does not control. And it does not punish. Paul’s famous “love chapter” (1 Corinthians 13) is the focus in this week’s lesson. Even having faith or the great power of God is secondary to having His love, Paul says. Jesus is the perfect illustration of the love of God. His love always trusts, always hopes, and always protects.

  1. What’s the best example of human love you’ve seen?
  2. When have you been touched by someone’s false definition of love?
  3. How do you respond to Paul’s statement that love is greater even than 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.

www.standardlesson.com/category/in-the-world
Copyright © 2020 by Standard Publishing, part of the David C Cook family.
All rights reserved. Each download is for the use of one church only.

October 18, 2020: Love for Neighbors (Luke 10:25-37)

By Teacher Tips

To encourage personal application:

Distribute copies of the exercise “Your Actions: A Case Study” from the activity page, which you can download here. (If you’re meeting completely or partially online, send the activity page exercise to remote class members via e-mail or text.) Ask students to identify patterns of values that can make it challenging to overcome biased thinking in terms of whom we will help and whom we won’t. Have class members work in groups of three, physically and/or via Zoom breakouts, to process the variables as indicated.

Close with a minute of silence during which time learners write to themselves the challenge of one change they are willing to make in order to serve others as Christ would have them. Enhance this segment by distributing copies of the exercise “More Compassion, Less Rationalizing” from the activity page. Have learners complete it during the closing minute of silence, then take it home for further reflection.

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. Tip: A key to using Zoom effectively without fumbling is to practice ahead of time!

In the World–October 18, 2020

By "In the World"

Download “In the World” for October 18, 2020 here.

CROSS-CULTURAL MISTAKES

Last month, Disney released its live-action remake of the movie Mulan, a dramatization of the legend of a female warrior from China’s ancient past. The movie failed to capture Chinese moviegoers, primarily because it paid little heed to historical accuracy and themes. “The movie is just a mixture of oriental elements and symbols in the eyes of Westerners,” said one review. Another critic said the movie, “blended conventional settings of traditional Western fairy tales incompatible with Chinese historical stories.” While the movie may have many redeeming qualities, its makers did not work hard enough to depict the actual legend and epoch of Chinese history. It did not maximize its chance to bridge cultures.

CROSS-CULTURAL MINISTRY

Few of Jesus’ parables felt more counter-cultural to the original hearers than the story of the Good Samaritan. Far from being the villain in the story, the Samaritan—despised by the people of Israel as betrayers and heretics—is not only the hero but is depicted as both virtuous and pleasing to God. In spite of what the fictional Samaritan undoubtedly knew the reaction to his actions would be, he nevertheless showed exceptional kindness to someone in need. His compassion to a fellow traveler superseded cultural differences and showed us the example God has set for us.

  1. What is one cultural boundary you would find nearly impossible to cross?
  2. How have you (or someone else) crossed cultural lines in Christ’s name?
  3. Who are people of other cultures in your area who might be in need?

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.

www.standardlesson.com/category/in-the-world
Copyright © 2020 by Standard Publishing, part of the David C Cook family.
All rights reserved. Each download is for the use of one church only.

October 11, 2020: Love for Enemies (Luke 6:27-36)

By Teacher Tips

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

If you choose to spend more time working through the text in depth, distribute copies of the “Natural or Godly” note-taker from the activity page, which you can download here. (If you’re meeting completely or partially online, send the activity page exercise to remote class members via e-mail or text.)

To encourage personal application:

Distribute copies of the “Now It’s Personal” lesson reminder from the activity page as a take-home. Encourage learners to use it daily as indicated. To encourage its use, promise to ask for results at the beginning of next week’s class.

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–October 11, 2020

By "In the World"

Download “In the World” for October 11, 2020 here.

RETURN THE FLAG

During COVID-19, many people have gone through attics and basements, and some have found autographed Japanese flags from World War II. When Japanese soldiers went to war, many tucked into their uniform a flag that had been inscribed with messages from home. Greg Murphy of Portland, Oregon, found such a flag. “I realized then what that flag must have meant for somebody,” he said. “It would be like someone here losing someone and getting their dog tags back.” To commemorate last month’s 75th anniversary since the end of the war against Japan, Murphy sent the flag to an organization that specializes in returning such things. He received notice that the flag had been given to a nephew of the Japanese soldier who had carried it into battle. Murphy contributed to peace through an act of kindness to the family of a former enemy.

TURN THE CHEEK

Loving your enemies means not doing what the world says to do—always fight back, get your revenge on your enemies. Jesus says to show love toward them, something the world would never tell us to do. In this political season, when many people do not believe as we do and are happy to let us know it, our response must be to love them, not yell back at them.

  1. What, if anything, is the difference between letting someone wrong you and letting someone wrong others?
  2. How can we be merciful to our enemies the way God is toward His?
  3. What act of pure kindness could you perform for someone who is your enemy?

Additional Resources

www.standardlesson.com/category/in-the-world
Copyright © 2020 by Standard Publishing, part of the David C Cook family.
All rights reserved. Each download is for the use of one church only.

October 4, 2020: Love that Intercedes (1 Samuel 19:1-7)

By Teacher Tips

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

Distribute to small groups copies of the “What Could Go Wrong?” exercise from the activity page, which you can download here, for learners to complete as indicated. (If you’re meeting completely or partially online, send the activity page exercise to remote class members via e-mail or text.)

To encourage personal application:

Distribute copies of the “Loyalty and Intercession” exercise from the activity page for learners to complete individually as indicated. Since this will take more than a minute, it is best used as a take-home activity.

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–October 4, 2020

By "In the World"

Download “In the World” for October 4, 2020 here.

INTERVENING FOR A STRANGER

Last month, when 18-year-old Waterbury, Connecticut resident Justin Gavin saw a flaming SUV roll past him with a little girl looking out the window, he sprang into action. “I’m yelling, ‘Stop the car! Your car is on fire!’” Gavin recalled, but the driver couldn’t stop. He ran after the vehicle as flames began to consume it and started unloading the three children in the back. This included a 1-year-old baby in a car seat. He then got the mother out just as the fire engulfed the SUV. The police chief awarded Gavin with a “Challenge Coin” medal, one of the highest civilian awards the city gives, hailing the young man as a hero. “I just felt like if I was in that situation,” Gavin said, “I would want somebody to help me out. I guess my instincts took over.”

INTERVENING FOR A FRIEND

As King Saul began his mental and spiritual descent, he gave orders for the execution of young David. The young man had recently saved the nation of Israel by defeating Goliath in single combat. Saul’s son, Jonathan, had developed a friendship with David. So when he heard his father’s irrational command, Jonathan interceded for David. He reminded Saul of how David had helped the kingdom and done the king nothing but good. Saul rescinded his order, and Jonathan brought David back to Saul’s court as before.

  1. When have you been in an emergency situation, and what did you do?
  2. How have you interceded for someone (or how has someone interceded for you)?
  3. What do you think prompted King Saul to give the order for David to be killed?

Additional Resources

www.standardlesson.com/category/in-the-world
Copyright © 2020 by Standard Publishing, part of the David C Cook family.
All rights reserved. Each download is for the use of one church only.

September 27, 2020: Revealed Love (Genesis 45:1-8, 10-15)

By Teacher Tips

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

Distribute copies of the “Joseph’s Actions and Mine” exercise from the activity page, which you can download here, for learners to discuss and complete in study pairs.

To encourage personal application:

Distribute copies* of the “Grateful for God’s Blessings” exercise from the activity page for learners to complete as indicated in study pairs (physically and/or via Zoom breakouts). Allow time for whole-class sharing.

Note: Whenever you distribute copies of anything, use hard-copy (paper) handouts for those physically present and e-copies for those joining online Zoom.

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 27, 2020

By "In the World"

Download “In the World” for September 27, 2020 here.

BUILDING TRUST IN A FAMILY

When Tony Hudgell was one month old, his parents intentionally caused such great injury to him that he had eleven fractured bones, multiple damaged organs, and sepsis, all of which led to both of his legs being amputated below the knee. Tony, from King’s Hill, Kent, UK, was placed with an adoptive family and is now six. Tony recently walked more than 10k on his new prosthetic legs to raise $1.2 million for the hospital that saved his life as an infant. The boy’s bubbly personality and loving adoptive family illustrate that God’s love is redeeming his past hurts.

BUILDING TRUST IN THE LORD

Though Joseph’s brothers felt great remorse for how they had betrayed Joseph when he was 17, Joseph himself had a different perspective. He saw God’s hand in it, as their act of cruelty sent Joseph to Egypt where he could interpret Pharaoh’s prophetic dream—a development that resulted in Joseph’s own family being saved. God uses even the worst kinds of human sin to bring about His plan. Nothing can stand in the way of God’s will being done.

  1. How has God redeemed something painful in your own life?
  2. When have you seen kindness or love turn someone’s life around?
  3. How else have you seen God transform tragedy into triumph?

Additional Resources

www.standardlesson.com/category/in-the-world
Copyright © 2020 by Standard Publishing, part of the David C Cook family.
All rights reserved. Each download is for the use of one church only.

September 20, 2020: Victorious Love (Genesis 42:6-25)

By Teacher Tips

To begin the session:

Distribute copies of the “Movie Plot: Revenge Is Mine!” exercise from the activity page, which you can download here. Divide the class into groups to complete as indicated. (For those participating online, use Zoom breakouts to create discussion groups.) After 10 minutes or so, have groups share results.

After the activity, share a story of a time when you entertained thoughts of revenge against a family member. Say, “I am sure many if not all of us have our own revenge stories, whether of revenge merely pondered or actually carried out. Let’s see how one servant of God dealt with this same temptation.”

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

Split the class in half (physically and/or via Zoom breakouts) and give each group copies of the “Be It Resolved” exercise from the activity page. Conduct the indicated debate after groups develop their arguments.

Note: Whenever you distribute copies of anything, use hard-copy (paper) handouts for those physically present and e-copies for those joining online Zoom.

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 20, 2020

By "In the World"

Download “In the World” for September 20, 2020 here.

LATE REMORSE FOR WHAT HE DID

Last month, Joseph DeAngelo, the infamous Golden State Killer, was sentenced to twelve life sentences plus eight years, without parole. DeAngelo had pleaded guilty to thirteen murders and dozens of rapes committed during the 1970s and 1980s. Throughout the trial and sentencing, he had not shown remorse for his actions. But on the day of sentencing, after receiving statements from victims and their families, DeAngelo said to the courtroom, “I’ve listened to all your statements, each one of them, and I am truly sorry to everyone I hurt.”

GREAT REMORSE FOR WHAT THEY DID

In Egypt, Joseph’s brothers are brought before him to purchase grain for their families suffering in the famine. They do not recognize Joseph, who is now grown, dressed as an Egyptian high official, and using an interpreter to speak with them. He accuses them of treachery and spying, and they express to each other their belief that this is God’s way of punishing them for how they had treated Joseph. Their deep remorse over their actions, overheard in secret by Joseph, causes him to embark on a course that will lead to their great blessing.

  1. How does it feel when someone wrongs you without remorse?
  2. When have you seen true remorse restore a broken relationship?
  3. What is the role of remorse in the Christian life?

Additional Resources

www.standardlesson.com/category/in-the-world
Copyright © 2020 by Standard Publishing, part of the David C Cook family.
All rights reserved. Each download is for the use of one church only.

September 13, 2020: Obedient Love (Genesis 41:25-33, 37-40, 50-52)

By Teacher Tips

To begin the session:

Distribute copies of the “Storytelling” exercise from the activity page, which you can download here. Have learners pair off (physically and/or via Zoom breakouts) and share their stories. Ask for volunteers to tell briefly their stories of someone whose faith helped them through a difficult time.

After the activity say, “Everyone’s life has its ups and downs. This was especially true of Joseph. Let’s see part of the result of his faithfulness.”

To encourage personal application:

Distribute copies of the “Your Life Tree” exercise from the activity page to complete as indicated. This can be a do-at-home activity.

Note: Whenever you distribute copies of anything, use hard-copy (paper) handouts for those physically present and e-copies for those joining online Zoom.

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 13, 2020

By "In the World"

Download “In the World” for September 13, 2020 here.

INSTRUCTIONS FROM A DOCUMENTARY

Ten-year-old Raviraj Saini, of Leeds, England, was swept out to sea while playing in the surf with his dad in Yorkshire last month. The boy is a fan of the BBC2 television documentary series Saving Lives at Sea, which covers rescues by the Royal Navy Lifeboat Institution. The show instructs viewers, if they’re ever in trouble in the water, not to thrash or swim vigorously but to float on their backs, spread-eagled, to conserve energy and to cry out. During his hour in the bay before being rescued, Raviraj remembered this advice and followed it, and it saved his life. “We’re very much in awe of this incredible lad,” said Lee Marton, Coxswain at Scarborough Lifeboat Station, “who managed to remain calm and follow safety advice to the letter in terrifying and stressful circumstances. Had he not, the outcome might have been very different.”

INSTRUCTIONS FROM A SLAVE

In slavery in ancient Egypt, Joseph was called from prison to interpret Pharaoh’s dream. God gave him the interpretation, and Joseph outlined instructions that the nation must follow to heed this warning and save the people from the ensuing famine. Pharaoh, believing that his kingdom’s very existence depended on it, followed the instructions of a lowly slave, whom he raised to high office. Heeding these instructions brought about the salvation of the nation and advanced God’s master plan.

  1. When have you followed instructions that led to someone’s safety or rescue?
  2. What factors go into your decision to heed or ignore instructions?
  3. How has obeying an instruction from God led to blessing for you or others?

Additional Resources

www.standardlesson.com/category/in-the-world
Copyright © 2020 by Standard Publishing, part of the David C Cook family.
All rights reserved. Each download is for the use of one church only.

September 6, 2020: Biased Love (Genesis 37:2-11, 23-24a, 28)

By Teacher Tips

To begin the session:

Before class members arrive, place in chairs copies of the “Yep—That’s Family!” exercise from the activity page, which you can download here. Your early arrivers can work on this as indicated. If you’re meeting completely or partially online, send the activity page exercise to remote class members via e-mail or text.

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

Distribute copies of the “Exegesis, Not Eisegesis” activity from the activity page for learners to complete 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.

In the World–September 6, 2020

By "In the World"

Download “In the World” for September 6, 2020 here.

INNOCENT OF FAVORITISM

Last month, Pueblo, Colorado Mayor Nick Gradisar was accused—and quickly cleared—of favoritism. The city has been allocating $5 million in COVID-19 relief funds to keep businesses from shutting down, and two local establishments that received grants had connections with Gradisar. A taxpayer wrote to the city council pointing out that $10,000 went to TickTock, a coffee shop owned by the mayor’s niece, and $4,000 went to Stiletto Hair Salon, which the mayor partially owns. The letter accused Gradisar of conflicts of interest. However, “This did not rise to the level of an ethics problem,” said Pueblo City Council President Dennis Flores. The actual decisions were made by an evaluation committee. Flores called the city’s process for distributing aid “squeaky-clean.”

GUILTY OF FAVORITISM

Jacob could have done well with a bit more of a squeaky-clean reputation, himself. Instead, he clearly played favorites with his children. He preferred the “baby,” Joseph, so far above his other children that they hated Joseph—to the point where they couldn’t speak a kind word to him. Conflicts of interest in business can be devastating. Conflicts of interest in families can be deadly.

  1. How have you been touched by favoritism—for you or against you?
  2. What can be done to correct or prevent conflicts of interest?
  3. What do you think was behind Jacob’s favoritism for Joseph?

Additional Resources

www.standardlesson.com/category/in-the-world
Copyright © 2020 by Standard Publishing, part of the David C Cook family.
All rights reserved. Each download is for the use of one church only.

August 30, 2020: Two Kinds of Wisdom (James 3:13-18; 5:7-12)

By Teacher Tips

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

Distribute copies of the “Commentary from Scripture” exercise from the activity page, which you can download here. Let half of the class, in pairs or triads, consider the first passage noted as the other half considers the second. Use Zoom breakout groups as necessary. Call for whole-class sharing after several minutes.

Distribute copies of the “Wisdom of the Sages” exercise from the activity page. Allow one minute for learners to complete Part 1 with quick first impressions. Then put learners into groups of three or four to complete Part 2. Use Zoom breakout groups as necessary.

Note: Whenever you distribute copies of anything, use hard-copy (paper) handouts for those physically present and e-copies for those on Zoom.

In the World–August 30, 2020

By "In the World"

Download “In the World” for August 30, 2020 here.

ADVICE FROM BELOW

As schools in the West head toward reopening for the fall semester, they would do well not to take the advice that proved harmful in Israel. With the first wave of COVID-19 cases trending nicely downward, the counsel from the government, including the prime minister himself, was to be smart but otherwise “Go out and have a good time.” When schools began, windows were kept open to improve fresh air circulation. But when it got hot outside, the government exempted everyone from wearing masks for four days and allowed schools to shut their windows. The decision was disastrous, as the nation had its largest outbreak of the coronavirus and had to close schools and businesses across the country. The advice that came from humans, especially based on comfort, sounded good but resulted in calamity.

WISDOM FROM ABOVE

James tells us that the wisdom that comes from above—that is, from God—is pure, promotes peace, and results in mercy and good fruit. Wisdom from below produces strife, envy, competitiveness, and selfish ambition. Our world produces advice that is focused on exalting the individual, and this leads to strife. God’s wisdom is focused on exalting God and loving others, and this leads to blessing.

  1. When have you taken advice that sounded good but resulted in disaster?
  2. What’s an example of worldly wisdom that results in conflict or harm?
  3. How have you seen wise advice lead to peace and love in your life?

Additional Resources

www.standardlesson.com/category/in-the-world
Copyright © 2020 by Standard Publishing, part of the David C Cook family.
All rights reserved. Each download is for the use of one church only.

August 23, 2020: Taming the Tongue (James 3:1-11)

By Teacher Tips

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

For extended discussion, distribute copies of the “Positive Pointers” exercise on the activity page, which you can download here. Have learners work in study pairs to complete as indicated.

To encourage personal application:

Distribute copies of the “Situational Suggestions” exercise from the activity page. Due to its personal nature and need for possibly lengthy reflection, it should be an at-home exercise. To encourage completion, promise to ask for volunteers to disclose results at the beginning of next week’s class.

Note: Whenever you distribute copies of anything, use hard-copy (paper) handouts for those physically present and e-copies for those on Zoom.

In the World–August 23, 2020

By "In the World"

Download “In the World” for August 23, 2020 here.

HE SHOULD NOT SPEAK RECKLESSLY

In Ghana this month, a politician was reprimanded in the media for making what his opponents called reckless comments. Johnson Asiedu Nketia, General Secretary of the National Democratic Congress, accused military officers conducting traffic stops in the Banda Constituency region of being “drunkards” who “looked like rebels on drugs.” Opponents condemned Asiedu Nketia’s remarks, reminding him repeatedly that he should know better. In this culture, as a person ages, he is expected to gain mastery over his tongue. “He is an elderly man,” said one detractor, “and so he should not talk recklessly.”

WE SHOULD NOT SPEAK RECKLESSLY, EITHER

James reminds his readers how important it is to speak wisely, as well. The tongue is the conduit for both praise and cursing, and though the tongue can be harder to tame than a wild beast, still the wise man will tame it. Reckless words can set the whole course of one’s life on fire.

  1. What consequences result from speaking carelessly?
  2. Why is it sometimes difficult to hold our tongue?
  3. When have you seen how powerful words can be to build someone up?

Additional Resources

www.standardlesson.com/category/in-the-world
Copyright © 2020 by Standard Publishing, part of the David C Cook family.
All rights reserved. Each download is for the use of one church only.

August 16, 2020: Living Faith (James 2:14-26)

By Teacher Tips

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

Distribute copies of the “Reconsider the Stories” exercise from the activity page, which you can download here, for deeper study. Ask learners to complete this activity in pairs or triads (Zoom breakouts as appropriate) before you have volunteers share what they’ve discussed.

Distribute copies of the “Finish the Thoughts” exercise from the activity page for learners to complete individually as a post-test. Allow only one minute.

Note: Whenever you distribute copies of anything, use hard-copy (paper) handouts for those physically present and e-copies for those on Zoom.

In the World–August 16, 2020

By "In the World"

Download “In the World” for August 16, 2020 here.

DOING SOMETHING ABOUT CHILD TRAFFICKING

Renée Brinkerhoff (age 64) is founder of Valkyrie Racing and its sister organization, Valkyrie Gives. She does cross-country road rallies in her classic Porsche 356. Renée realized years ago that road rallies gave her a platform, and she believed she had been called to raise awareness and funds to fight child trafficking around the world. Valkyrie Gives has now raised over $190,000, 100% of which has gone to vetted projects helping children and women at risk of trafficking. She has raced on every continent except Antarctica, which she plans to do this winter. “The world is full of people who want to see trafficking end,” says Matt Parker of Exodus Road, which rescues children who have been trafficked. “But I wish it was full of people like Renée who will actually do something about it.”

DOING SOMETHING ABOUT YOUR FAITH

James knew that talk is cheap. We can say the right things about the Christian faith, but the things we do show what we really believe. He knew that our actions are a much better revealer of our beliefs than any words that might come out of our mouths. Faith can be expressed by our words, but genuine faith spills out into our deeds.

  1. When have you said you believed one thing but found yourself doing something different?
  2. What is the difference between not living up to one’s ideals and deliberately misleading with words that do not match actions?
  3. What new action could you take to live out one of the core beliefs of Christianity?

Additional Resources

www.standardlesson.com/category/in-the-world
Copyright © 2020 by Standard Publishing, part of the David C Cook family.
All rights reserved. Each download is for the use of one church only.

August 9, 2020: Hearing and Doing (James 1:19-27)

By Teacher Tips

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

Distribute copies of the “Freedom or Frustration?” exercise from the activity page, which you can download here. Have small groups complete as indicated in Zoom breakout rooms (caution: may be very time consuming).

To encourage personal application:

Distribute copies of the “What Will You Do?” exercise on the activity page. Because of the highly personal nature of this assignment, it should be an at-home exercise. To encourage its completion, say that you will invite learners to volunteer responses next week.

  • Note: Whenever you distribute copies of anything, use hard-copy (paper) handouts for those physically present and e-copies for those meeting online.

In the World–August 9, 2020

By "In the World"

Download “In the World” for August 9, 2020 here.

HEARING BUT NOT DOING IN AUSTRALIA

According to a recent survey by two universities, teen boys in Australia are less likely than other groups to observe social distancing amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Max Sandler (age 12) of Armadale, a suburb of Perth, worries about this because classes resumed there last month. He is concerned that his peers understand the warnings but don’t think they apply to them. “People do know they should be social distancing,” he says, “but it’s like with a cigarette, you know, ‘Oh, one more won’t hurt’ type of thing.” Teen boys are statistically more likely to push limits and test authority. The survey showed that they are also more likely than teen girls to believe someone of their age who doesn’t follow the COVID safety rules is “cool” for doing so.

HEARING BUT NOT DOING IN THE BIBLE

James warned his readers about the dangers of hearing the wisdom of God but not applying it. It’s good to know God’s Word and to agree with it, but it’s something else entirely to actually do it. It is beautiful when someone who claims to love others proves through action that this is truly so. Our actions are the outworking of what we really believe.

  1. What’s an example of when you or someone else ignored a warning and suffered a natural consequence?
  2. How does it feel when you are observing wise restrictions and others are not?
  3. When have you been able to see what someone actually believed by what they did or did not do?

Additional Resources

www.standardlesson.com/category/in-the-world
Copyright © 2020 by Standard Publishing, part of the David C Cook family.
All rights reserved. Each download is for the use of one church only.

August 2, 2020: Faith and Wisdom (James 1:1-11)

By Teacher Tips

To encourage personal application:

As time allows and the needs of your class dictate, distribute copies of one or more of the three exercises on the activity page, which you can download here, to be completed together or by study pairs. (Note: Whenever you distribute copies of anything, use hard-copy (paper) handouts for those physically present and e-copies for those on Zoom.)

If given as at-home work instead, encourage completion by stressing that the activity or activities will be the first matter the class will discuss during next week’s lesson.

In the World–August 2, 2020

By "In the World"

Download “In the World” for August 2, 2020 here.

INNOVATION IN THE MIDST OF HARDSHIP

Minneapolis-area restaurant owners Brian and Sarah Ingram had to shut down their restaurants and send all their workers home because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Faced with this hardship, they pivoted and innovated out of love. They teamed with fellow restaurateur Justin Sutherland and began offering free meals outside to any who had need. “At one point,” said a chef working for the group, “we were making almost 500 meals a day to send to hospitals.” In addition to the food, they offered prayer cards and the freedom to send personal requests via e-mail or text. Requests and needs flooded in, as did support and food from the community. Business is booming, but this new way of working came about because of hardship.

WISDOM IN THE MIDST OF HARDSHIP

James wrote to encourage believers who were undergoing great hardship and trial. He urged them not only not to panic, but to actually consider the calamity as an opportunity for joy. He saw the testing of their faith as the chisel with which God wanted to carve perseverance into them. To be able to pivot in our attitude, not seeking to end the pain as soon as possible but to allow it to complete its good work in us, is the height of wisdom.

  1. What other example can you give of believers serving their community in new ways because of the pandemic?
  2. When has a negative development caused you to find a positive innovation?
  3. Why does God ask us to consider difficulties and trials as opportunities to rejoice?

Additional Resources

www.standardlesson.com/category/in-the-world
Copyright © 2020 by Standard Publishing, part of the David C Cook family.
All rights reserved. Each download is for the use of one church only.

July 26, 2020: Wisdom to Follow (John 14:1-14)

By Teacher Tips

To begin the session:

Distribute or send participants copies of the “Building a Following” exercise from the activity page, which you can download here. (Note: Since there is usually more than one exercise on an activity page, you should take care to send only the exercise that is relevant at the time; otherwise, distraction may result.) Have learners work in pairs or individually for no more than one minute to complete as indicated; if you’re meeting online, mute all participants during this time.

After the activity, say, “We live in a world where we constantly encounter someone saying, ‘trust me.’ Today’s lesson will consider Jesus’ invitation to do just that.”

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

Distribute or send by email attachment or text message copies of the “Contrast Jesus’ Statement” exercise from the activity page. Have learners complete in pairs or small groups as indicated. If your class meets as a hybrid—part in-person and part virtually, have learners complete the activity as those two groups separately.

In the World–July 26, 2020

By "In the World"

Download “In the World” for July 26, 2020 here.

THE WISE DECISION TO STAY BEHIND

Major League Soccer took a four-week suspension due to COVID-19. Earlier this month, the league resumed play with a closed-door event called the “MLS Is Back Tournament” in Orlando. To play, teams had to arrive in Florida and remain sequestered while they were tested for the corona virus. But one player made the decision to skip the tourney and stay home rather than travel with his team, the Los Angeles Football Club. Carlos Vela, the league’s reigning MVP, elected to remain at the side of his wife, who is pregnant. “I would like nothing more than to be with my teammates in Orlando,” Vela said in a statement released by the team. “However, it is in the best interest of the health of my family to stay home and be with my wife during what is a risky pregnancy.”

THE WISE DECISION TO FOLLOW

On the night Jesus was betrayed, He told His disciples that He was the only way of access to His Father. The disciples were confused by much of what the Lord said that night, so Jesus urged them to connect their faith in God to their faith in Him. When they understood that Jesus was in the Father and the Father was in Him, they saw that the wise decision was to follow Him. Indeed, He is the only way.

  1. What’s a decision you made based on your understanding about what was wise or prudent?
  2. When did you not heed godly wisdom, and what happened?
  3. How do you respond when someone says it’s “intolerant” to claim that there’s only one way to God?

Additional Resources

www.standardlesson.com/category/in-the-world
Copyright © 2020 by Standard Publishing, part of the David C Cook family.
All rights reserved. Each download is for the use of one church only.

July 19, 2020: The Wisdom of Jesus (Mark 6:1-6)

By Teacher Tips

To begin the session:

Distribute copies of the “Wisdom Sayings” exercise from the activity page, which you can download here, Have learners work in pairs to complete as indicated. If you’re meeting online, consider having the group complete the activity together. You might even fill it out yourself before class and share some of your answers to get the learners’ wheels turning.

Lead into Bible study by saying, “We often limit our expectations of others based on where they come from. It was no different in Jesus’ day. Let’s see how he handled it.”

To encourage personal application:

Distribute copies of the “Follow Godly Wisdom” exercise from the activity page as a take-home. If you’re meeting online, consider e-mailing the handout to learners before or during class. Alternately, you could go through the acronym together, brainstorming ideas as a group.

In the World–July 19, 2020

By "In the World"

Download “In the World” for July 19, 2020 here.

HOW A REFUGEE SHOULD BEHAVE

Majeda Khouri became a refugee from Syria in 2017 after speaking out against the regime of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad. She has made her home in London for now, arranging for her children to be reunited with her from Syria. But rather than adhere to the expectations she feels about what people think a refugee “should” be, she has remained outspoken about her nation’s situation and has become a business owner, opening a catering business. She even catered an event at which she herself gave a speech. The mayor of London expressed surprise at this, and Majeda said, “Yes, I can talk and I can cook!”

HOW A LOCAL BOY SHOULD BEHAVE

Early in Jesus’ ministry, He returned with His disciples to Nazareth and taught in the synagogue on the Sabbath. But the locals who had seen Him grow up wondered where these miracles and this wisdom had come from. They had formed their opinions about Him, and they had trouble seeing Him as something He had never been in their eyes.

  1. What have other people expected you to be that you are not?
  2. Who do you know who has broken the mold and defied expectations? How were that person’s actions received?
  3. Why were the people in Nazareth dismissive of Jesus when He returned to His hometown?

Additional Resources

www.standardlesson.com/category/in-the-world
Copyright © 2020 by Standard Publishing, part of the David C Cook family.
All rights reserved. Each download is for the use of one church only.

In the World–July 12, 2020

By "In the World"

Download “In the World” for July 12, 2020 here.

CORRUPTING DIVINE WISDOM

Hagia Sophia is an ancient cathedral whose name means “Church of Divine Wisdom.” It was built around A.D. 535 in what was then Constantinople on the orders of Byzantine Emperor Justinian I. In 1453, when Ottoman forces conquered the city, now called Istanbul, Hagia Sophia was converted into a mosque. But in the 1930s, it was made a museum. Last month, Turkish President Erdogan restated his intention to convert this house of the Father’s wisdom back into a mosque and to allow Muslim prayers and readings from the Quran inside its walls. So far, his efforts have been blocked.

DEVELOPING DIVINE WISDOM

Today’s lesson explores how the boy Jesus gained the wisdom He displayed when He questioned the religious teachers in the Temple at age twelve. Though Jesus most likely learned many great lessons in conventional wisdom from his earthly father’s house, He ultimately desired to learn Divine wisdom in His true Father’s house.

  1. What’s an example of wisdom you’ve learned from God?
  2. What’s an example of wisdom you’ve learned from a person?
  3. How much awareness do you think Jesus had as a very young boy that He was God’s Son?

Additional Resources

www.standardlesson.com/category/in-the-world
Copyright © 2020 by Standard Publishing, part of the David C Cook family.
All rights reserved. Each download is for the use of one church only.

July 12, 2020: The Boy Jesus (Ecclesiastes 3:1, 7b; Luke 2:39-52)

By Teacher Tips

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

Distribute copies of the “Cycles of Wisdom” exercise from the activity page, which you can download here, (Note: Since there is usually more than one exercise on an activity page, you should take care to distribute—by email or text message—only the exercise that is relevant at the time; otherwise, distraction may result.) Form groups of three or four to complete as indicated. Reconvene for whole-class compare-and-contrast of results. Distribute copies of the “Amazement” exercise from the activity page. Email or text copies of the “Amazement” exercise from the activity page for whole-class discussion.

July 5, 2020: Vindicating Wisdom (Matthew 11:7-19)

By Teacher Tips

To begin the session:

Distribute copies of the “Puzzling” exercise from the activity page, which you can download here, Conduct an agree/disagree discussion as appropriate.

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

As a post-test, distribute copies of the “Correcting Falsehood” quiz from the activity page. Allow learners to score their own results after one minute.

In the World–July 5, 2020

By "In the World"

Download “In the World” for July 5, 2020 here.

ACCEPTING THE WORLD’S WISDOM

Marijuana has now been legalized for recreational use in eleven states and the District of Columbia. The first states to so legalize it were Colorado and Washington (in 2012), followed by Alaska and Oregon (in 2014). The world’s wisdom had been that legalizing marijuana would free up law enforcement to focus on other types of crime, would help many people with medical needs, and would be a boost to personal freedom and choice. Last month, New York Medical College, Valhalla released a study examining the connection between legalized recreational marijuana use and traffic fatalities in the four states where it has been legalized the longest. The study found that traffic fatalities increased about twenty percent in those states. “Legislators in states considering legal commercial sales of marijuana should take the likelihood of increased deaths into consideration when drafting new laws,” says Russel Kamer, MD, who was involved with the study. The world’s wisdom led to many unnecessary deaths.

REJECTING GOD’S WISDOM

The world does not understand godly wisdom even when it sees it. When John the Baptist preached in his ascetic style, many rejected him as being demon-possessed. Yet when Jesus came in a less ascetic style, “eating and drinking,” many accused the Lord of drunkenness and gluttony. When people are turned away from God, godly wisdom looks like foolishness. But people turned toward God recognize godly wisdom in its many guises.

  1. When have you been swayed by the world’s wisdom on something you later realized was not God’s will?
  2. What’s a time when you saw the wisdom in reacting in a way that was contrary to how others were reacting?
  3. What teachings of Jesus seem especially contrary to our current culture’s mindset?

Additional Resources

  1. Music Video, Traditional: “Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee” with Colin Raye
  2. Music Video, Multicultural: “I’m with You/Be Still” by Israel and Adrienne Houghton 
  3. Music Video, Contemporary: “Risen” by Tom Smith
  4. Guzik’s Commentary on Matthew 11
  5. Barclay’s Commentary on Matthew 11
  6. Coffman’s Commentary on Matthew 11

www.standardlesson.com/category/in-the-world
Copyright © 2020 by Standard Publishing, part of the David C Cook family.
All rights reserved. Each download is for the use of one church only.

June 28, 2020: Feast with Wisdom (Proverbs 9:1-6, 8-10, 13-18)

By Teacher Tips

To begin the session:

Distribute copies of the “Choices” exercise from the activity page, which you can download here, for each learner to complete silently as indicated. Call time after no more than one minute. Tally responses on the board or screen.

After the activity say, “Life is full of choices. Some are merely matters of personal taste, while others influence the very course of life. Let’s see what Solomon had to say about the latter.”

To encourage personal application:

Distribute copies of the “Two Appeals” exercise from the activity page as a closing self-test. Assure learners that you will not collect the results. Allow no more than one minute; have learners check their own answers.

Close with a prayer that thanks God for his rebukes and teachings in wisdom, asking that he will continue to teach wisdom to each member of the class.

In the World–June 28, 2020

By "In the World"

Download “In the World” for June 28, 2020 here.

A TREEHOUSE BUILT ON FAULTY ADVICE

A dad in South Carolina built a free-standing treehouse for his son this month but was unsure whether it was safe. He sent a note and video to Washington Post DIY columnist Tim Carter. The video is “filled with love and concern,” Carter said, “but it’s also filled with serious building errors.” Upon watching the video, he immediately e-mailed the dad and urged him to stop working on the treehouse and to await a video from Carter that would show how to make the structure safe for his son and friends to play on. This dad “either got very bad advice or, if he found great advice, he failed to follow it,” Carter said. “The Internet is overflowing with conflicting building advice, and if you don’t know what’s right and what’s wrong, it’s easy for you to go down the wrong path.”

A LIFE BUILT ON FAULTY ADVICE

Folly and Wisdom both set up shop in today’s passage from Proverbs. They both position themselves in the marketplace and call out to passersby. They urge people to heed their guidance and to eat the fruit of their very different messages. Advice of any kind is designed to lead the hearer toward a destination. Whereas Wisdom will guide you to life and understanding, death lies at the end of the road for anyone following Folly.

  1. What bad advice have you gotten, and what did it lead to?
  2. When have you ever given advice to someone that you later wished you could take back?
  3. Why do people sometimes ignore good advice and heed bad advice instead?

Additional Resources

www.standardlesson.com/category/in-the-world
Copyright © 2020 by Standard Publishing, part of the David C Cook family.
All rights reserved. Each download is for the use of one church only.

June 21, 2020: Receive Wisdom’s Gifts (Proverbs 8:8-14, 17-21)

By Teacher Tips

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

Distribute copies of the “Wisdom Wanted!” exercise from the activity page, which you can download here. If you’re meeting in person, have study pairs complete the activity. If you’re meeting online, consider completing the worksheet as a group. After the activity is complete, start a discussion by asking which is truer: we apprehend wisdom or wisdom apprehends us.

To encourage personal application:

To expand the previous activity, distribute copies of the “Wisdom Needed!” exercise from the activity page. Allow one minute for class members to complete as indicated.

In the World–June 21, 2020

By "In the World"

Download “In the World” for June 21, 2020 here.

THE PURSUIT OF WISDOM IN INDIA

Last month, a bishop in India announced his plan to leave his church duties and live like the hermits of the ancient church. Jacob Muricken desires to lead an ascetic life devoted to God through prayer, meditation, Bible study, and writing. He will live at the top of a nearby hill at an existing monastery called Mar Thoma Sleeha in the Idukki district near the southern tip of the Indian peninsula. Muricken hopes his choice will not be seen as hating the world but as valuing the Lord, “teaching men to look at the world in the right way, fixing our eyes only on God.”

THE PURSUT OF WISDOM WHERE YOU ARE

Today’s passage reminds us, in our Western society and hectic lives, that we too can choose to value the wisdom of God over the desires of the world. Wisdom’s gifts—riches, honor, knowledge, prudence, discretion, and more—are far superior to silver, gold, or anything the world has to offer. We don’t have to step away from our lives to receive these gifts. But we do need to commit to trusting in the wisdom of God over all other competing voices.

  1. What’s an example of a time when you’ve had to choose between the wisdom of God and the world’s desires?
  2. How can God’s ancient wisdom be relevant in today’s troubled and complicated world?
  3. Which verses in Proverbs have proved to be helpful in your life?

Additional Resources

www.standardlesson.com/category/in-the-world
Copyright © 2020 by Standard Publishing, part of the David C Cook family.
All rights reserved. Each download is for the use of one church only.

June 14, 2020: Value Wisdom (Proverbs 2:1-11)

By Teacher Tips

To begin the session:

Distribute copies of the “A Search for Information” exercise from the activity page, which you can download here. Give class members five minutes to complete as indicated. Allow students to share what they have learned.

Discuss the activity with these questions: 1–What other types of treasure hunts have you enjoyed in the past? (Possible responses: scavenger hunts, Easter egg hunts, etc.) 2–Sometimes our searches are not games but rather are vital parts of life. What are some of those? (Possible responses: job search, researching a major purchase, etc.)

Lead into Bible study by saying, “Treasure hunts and similar games are fun, but we all participate in much more serious searches. Let’s see what Solomon taught regarding the nature of the most important search.”

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

Distribute copies of the “Fill It In” exercise from the activity page. Have students work together to complete the puzzle.

 

In the World–June 14, 2020

By "In the World"

Download “In the World” for June 14, 2020 here.

VALUE THE WISDOM OF LEGENDARY PLAYERS

During the lockdown for COVID-19, professional NFL football players have been unable to meet with other players and coaches to prepare for the upcoming season (assuming we have one). This month, legendary quarterbacking brothers Peyton and Eli Manning had some sage advice for quarterbacks across the league. Eli urged the quarterbacks to take ownership of the moment and put in more work, calling extra Zoom meetings with other players. And Peyton affirmed the approach: “Instead of complaining about it, see it as an opportunity to really improve…. I think the team that wins it all this year is gonna be the team that’s really getting an edge during this time.”

VALUE THE WISDOM OF LEGENDARY SAGES

King Solomon was the primary author of the book of Proverbs, though Agur and Lemuel added their wisdom, as well. These keen counselors point out our need to seek wisdom from God. Wisdom has immense value in our lives, bringing joy, provision, safety, success, relational harmony, and the fear of the Lord. Happy is the person who searches for it as if it were treasure.

  1. What’s the best advice anyone has ever given you?
  2. Who has been a terrific advisor in your life?
  3. If you were asked to pen a verse or two in the book of Proverbs, what would you write?

Additional Resources

www.standardlesson.com/category/in-the-world
Copyright © 2020 by Standard Publishing, part of the David C Cook family.
All rights reserved. Each download is for the use of one church only.

June 7, 2020: Listen to God’s Wisdom (Proverbs 1:1-4, 7-8, 10, 20-22, 32-33)

By Teacher Tips

To begin the session:

Distribute copies of the “Decode It” exercise from the activity page, which you can download here. Allow class members to work in pairs to complete the activity according to instructions. (If you’re meeting online, consider having the class complete the activity together.) After completion, discuss conclusions by asking learners to identify the common theme of the decoded phrases, which relate to feelings of inadequacy or incompetence.

After the activity say, “We all have times when we feel unqualified, unprepared, or incompetent to address a task. How do we overcome these feelings? Let’s find out.”

To encourage personal application:

Distribute copies of the “On Trial” exercise from the activity page as a take-home or an after-class activity to be completed as indicated. As a motive to complete it, state that you will begin the next class session by reviewing results.

In the World–June 7, 2020

By "In the World"

Download “In the World” for June 7, 2020 here.

IGNORING WARNINGS LEADS TO DISASTER

On May 22, Pakistan International Airlines flight 8303 crashed in a residential district of Karachi, Pakistan. Ninety-nine passengers and crew were aboard, and all but two perished. Before the crash, air traffic control told the pilot to descend from 10,000 feet to 7,000, but he told controllers he was satisfied with his altitude. Air traffic control contacted the plane when it was nearer to the airport, again instructing the pilot to bring the plane from 7,000 feet down to 3,000, but he repeated that he was fine. When he attempted the landing, he hit so hard that the engines scraped against the ground and were damaged. The pilot took off again and circled the airport to attempt another landing. But the engines were not working properly, and the plane crashed.

IGNORING WISDOM LEADS TO DISASTER

The book of Proverbs is designed to warn and instruct us in how to live prudently. The consequences for ignoring its counsel can be deadly. It is pure folly to spurn its guidance, whether out of ignorance or pride. The wise person walks in the fear of the Lord and heeds knowledge and instruction.

  1. When have you ignored a warning and it led to trouble?
  2. What’s an example of a time when you heeded a warning that others ignored, to their undoing?
  3. How has the book of Proverbs proven useful and life-giving to you?

Additional Resources

www.standardlesson.com/category/in-the-world
Copyright © 2020 by Standard Publishing, part of the David C Cook family.
All rights reserved. Each download is for the use of one church only.

Online-Friendly Interactive Learning Activities

By Teacher Tips

Many congregations are experiencing a season when face-to-face interactions are limited. Because of social distancing and shelter-in-place measures, many Sunday school classes and small groups are meeting online using solutions like Zoom, Google Hangouts, or Facebook Live. Others are hosting conference calls on the telephone or meeting one-on-one.

Because many of the Standard Lesson Activities were originally written with an in-person classroom setting in mind, we are providing alternate learning activities that will work well even when teachers and learners aren’t sitting in the same room, learning from each other. 

Here are the suggested replacements for Involvement Learning Activities for each lesson:

November 2020

 

September 2020

 

August 2020

 

July 2020

 

June 7

Into the Lesson

  • For the “Alternative” activity, consider this adjustment: Have all learners decode the message together, instead of in pairs.

Into the Word

  • Consider this adjustment: Have learners research book descriptions on Amazon.com or a book publisher’s website. Have them work silently on their own to write the back-cover copy. Get volunteers to read their summaries.

 

June 14

Into the Lesson

  • For the main activity (hiding candy), consider this adjustment: Create an online scavenger hunt by sending learners a list (you prepare) of website addresses and asking them to find a certain object, sentence, or number on each page.

Into the Word

  • For the main activity (distributing dictionaries), consider this adjustment: Get volunteers to look up the words on online dictionaries such as dictionary.com, meriam-webster.com, oed.com, or of course their own printed dictionaries.
  • For the “Option” activity, consider this adjustment: Have learners do the activity together instead of in small groups. (However, if you’re an expert Zoom user, you can use Zoom breakout rooms.)

 

June 21

Into the Word

  • For the main activity (discussing a teen’s situation), consider this adjustment: Discuss each scenario as a group, moving from “Religious” to “Educational.” If you have time, discuss the “Domestic” challenge together, as well.
  • For the “Option” activity, consider this adjustment: Instead of breaking into study pairs, complete the worksheet activity as a group. 

 

June 28

Into the Word

  • Consider this adjustment: Instead of breaking into two groups, keep everyone together but discuss arguments that someone espousing Wisdom would use and that someone displaying Folly might use. Contrast these as a group, perhaps having two volunteers engage in a short mock debate.

Ideas for Using In the World in a Virtual Setting

By "In the World"

Maybe you have been using In the World in an online setting like Zoom or Google hangouts or a video stream. Maybe you’re using it as part of a phone conference session. Or physically mailing or emailing the lesson to people to read.

Whether you use In the World to prepare your group before you meet or to extend the learning into the week, here are a couple of additional ideas for using this weekly resource to enrich your virtual class—both during your group time and throughout the week.

Using In the World While You Meet

Whether you’re meeting in small in-person groups or online, these tips will help you get the most out of In the World.

  • Weekly Check-in: Before you start the lesson, allow at least a few minutes for a weekly check-in to help the group feel connected with each other.
  • Discuss the Current Event: Talk together about the top paragraph, where In the World features the modern-day story. You could also invite members to offer their own discussion questions. During your meeting, give the group time to discuss the article.
  • Discuss the Bible Event: Talk together about the second paragraph, which leads into the Bible lesson. Invite members to come up with some of their own discussion questions. During your meeting, give the group time to discuss the article.
  • How Does the Tune Fit?: Share your screen and play one of the suggested music videos. Talk as a group about how that song fits the lesson.
  • Worship Time: Have a lesson-themed time of worship during the lesson. Share your screen and play one of the suggested music videos. Give time for the group to respond in prayer.
  • Breakout Rooms: If you’re using a tool like Zoom and your group is comfortable with the technology, try sending small groups to different rooms for a short discussion time. Then bring everyone back together to summarize the discussion before moving on with the next part of the lesson. For information on using Zoom Rooms go to https://support.zoom.us/hc/en-us/articles/217890563-Zoom-Rooms-Admin-Management

 

Using In the World During the Week

These ideas can be used to prepare your students before you meet or afterward to help reinforce the lesson.

  • Music Group: Create a text group or another social media group. Send out the music links throughout the week for people to use during their personal devotion times.
  • Daily Bible Readings: Send out the key verse along the with home daily Bible readings for the day to encourage regular Bible study.
  • Commentary Group: Create a text group or another social media group. Send out the link to one of the commentaries. Add a question at the end asking people what they learned in their reading. Encourage people to share their thoughts in the thread.
  • Coffee Time: Invite people to join in an online video discussion time during the week to talk more about the lesson. Ask everyone to brew and bring their favorite hot beverage!
  • Before your scheduled meeting time, send your group the text from the first paragraph of In the World, which features the modern-day story to your group. Include any of the discussion questions that match that part of the article. You could also invite members to offer their own discussion questions.
  • Send the Bible event text—the second paragraph of In the World—to your group before you meet. Include any of the discussion questions that match that part of the article and invite members to come up with some of their own discussion questions.

This article, while focused on children’s ministry, offers several suggestions you might add to your own personal teaching-virtually-tool set.

In the World–May 31, 2020

By "In the World"

Download “In the World” for May 31, 2020 here.

THE PRODIGAL PRINCE

In January, Britain’s Prince Harry announced that he and his wife, Meghan, would be stepping down from their role as senior members of the Royal Family. They moved first to British Columbia and then to Los Angeles to pursue a more private lifestyle as they raise their one-year-old son, Archie. While this caused an international furor and sold many magazines, the fallout from their departure may not be as negative as many predicted. Queen Elizabeth is reported to be quite fond of Prince Harry. Last month, the queen expressed that she fully expected the couple to return to the fold one day, and she stands ready to welcome the royal prodigal with open arms.

THE PRODIGAL PEOPLE

Though God’s people rebelled in a much more serious way, God nevertheless still loved and pursued them in their unfaithfulness. In today’s Scripture, the Lord considers the sins of His people and His plan to reconcile them. Like a loving Father, He pleads with them to put away their idols, do justice again, and return to His loving arms.

  1. When have you or someone close to you turned away from love—or even from a life or future that had been planned out?
  2. What can cause someone to return to a person or place they’d once rejected?
  3. How can a person be a prodigal son regarding the Lord?

Additional Resources

www.standardlesson.com/category/in-the-world
Copyright © 2020 by Standard Publishing, part of the David C Cook family.
All rights reserved. Each download is for the use of one church only.

May 31, 2020: Pursue Love and Justice (Hosea 11:1, 2, 7-10; 12:1, 2, 6-14)

By Teacher Tips

To begin the session:

E-mail to learners the “Tell a Story” exercise on the activity page, which you can download here. Work as a group to complete as indicated. Call for ideas in the ensuing whole-class discussion.

Lead into Bible study by asking, “Do these pictures have anything to do with people’s relationships with their heavenly Father? Let’s find out!”

To encourage personal application:

If you have time, have learners complete both the “Find the Lesson” and “Change Your Story” portions of the activity page. If you don’t have time to do it in your time together, encourage learners to complete those sections on their own.

May 24, 2020: Repent of Injustice (Jeremiah 22:1-10)

By Teacher Tips

To encourage personal application:

Have learners work together to complete the “Concern for the Vulnerable” exercise on the activity page, which you can download here. Remind students that each listed category is in Jeremiah 22:3.

As a group, propose how you can help your church improve in each of those areas of ministry.

Conclude by encouraging learners to work on the “Prayer for Wisdom to Help” exercise at the bottom of the activity page after class.

In the World–May 24, 2020

By "In the World"

Download “In the World” for May 24, 2020 here.

RESCUE THE ORPHAN FROM DISEASE

Last month, an orphanage for children with developmental disabilities in Belarus was hit hard by COVID-19. The conditions are so crowded that there is no ability to enforce social distancing. This resulted in dozens of infections among the staff and orphans. It has also made it difficult to recruit new staff. A Christian charity in Ireland, which supports the orphanage, issued an appeal to the public. The response was massive, and over $60,000 was raised. Money and supplies were donated by companies and individuals from around Ireland and beyond. Earlier this month, the charity shipped thousands of masks, gloves, gowns, hand sanitizer, and other personal protective equipment to the orphanage. It is good in the Lord’s eyes to care for the orphan and the marginalized.

RESCUE THE ORPHAN FROM INJUSTICE

The Lord commanded the prophet Jeremiah to go to the palace and urge the people to repent of their idolatry. He commanded the king to execute justice for the marginalized in the nation. If he did extend justice to the orphan and the widow, God promised to maintain the palace and the line of David in glory and security. But if the king miscarried justice against the weak and defenseless, God would send invaders who would bring the palace to ruin.

  1. What encounters have you had with orphans, foreigners, widows, and those who are marginalized?
  2. Who do you know who is currently being overlooked or forgotten by God’s people?
  3. How could you personally help bring justice to the weak and marginalized?

Additional Resources

www.standardlesson.com/category/in-the-world
Copyright © 2020 by Standard Publishing, part of the David C Cook family.
All rights reserved. Each download is for the use of one church only.

In the World–May 17, 2020

By "In the World"

Download “In the World” for May 17, 2020 here.

JUSTICE WHILE RACING TIME

In 1943, Friedrich Karl Berger enlisted in the German military and became a guard in the Neuengamme concentration camp complex near Meppen, Germany. After the war, Berger emigrated to Canada and then in 1959 moved to the United States. He eventually settled in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, where he laid low as he raised his children and grew old. But this year, with Berger now 94, the U.S. Department of Justice finally caught up to him, and an immigration judge has ordered him to be returned to Germany for potential prosecution. The U.S. government is determined to do justice for the victims of the Holocaust while there is still time to do so.

JUSTICE WHILE FACING DEFEAT

Time was running out for Judah. God’s justice and judgment were catching up with the people and their leaders for their long-standing idol worship and their refusal to listen to God’s prophets such as Jeremiah. Even on the verge of destruction by the hands of the Babylonians, there was still time for the leaders of Judah to act. They could administer justice and stand for the oppressed in accordance with the teaching of God’s prophets.

  1. When have you seen time run out on the chance to bring earthly justice to someone?
  2. Under what conditions would you consider pursuing justice on a matter that others would rather forget?
  3. What purpose might God have had for demanding the leaders continue to administer justice even after declaring that the city was about to fall?

Additional Resources

www.standardlesson.com/category/in-the-world
Copyright © 2020 by Standard Publishing, part of the David C Cook family.
All rights reserved. Each download is for the use of one church only.

May 10, 2020: Promising Peace (Zechariah 8:1-8, 11-17)

By Teacher Tips

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

E-mail to learners the link (here it is) to find the “Turn Lies into Truth” exercise from the activity page. Have everyone complete the exercise as a group. Include in the ensuing whole-class discussion a consideration of how easy it is to allow nonbiblical folk wisdom to direct our talk and actions.

Tip for group video calls: Make the rule that each person can answer only once until everyone else has spoken.

To encourage personal application:

As you reach the end of your time together, encourage learners to complete the puzzle “Jesus Gives What I Know I Really Need” on their own time.

In the World–May 10, 2020

By "In the World"

Download “In the World” for May 10, 2020 here.

RESCUED ON A DIFFERENT BEACH

A few weeks ago, New Zealander Eli Smith, 39, went missing. He’d been hunting in the dense bushland of Stewart Island, also called Rakiura, off the southern coast of the South Island. He’d gotten lost because a knife in his pocket had interfered with his compass, resulting in incorrect bearings. At last understanding what had happened, Smith made his way to a beach—but it wasn’t one he recognized. He could hear the rescue helicopter in the distance, but he was far from where they were searching. He carved “HELP” on the beach and stayed put until he was finally found. When rescue arrived, peace flooded over him. “I was not going to die in the bush, that’s for sure.”

RESCUED IN A DIFFERENT WAY

God promised the prophet Zechariah that the people of Jerusalem would be rescued from the countries where they had been taken. He promised that the elderly would safely sit in the streets and children would be free to play beside them. God declared that He would treat the remnant of Israel differently from how He’d treated His people in the past, when He had brought punishment upon them. God’s promise of restored blessing brought great peace to the people of Jerusalem and Judah.

  1. When have you been lost and frightened? How were you found?
  2. How do you treat people after you have punished them?
  3. What is it like to receive correction from the Lord? What is it like to receive blessing?

Additional Resources

www.standardlesson.com/category/in-the-world
Copyright © 2020 by Standard Publishing, part of the David C Cook family.
All rights reserved. Each download is for the use of one church only.

 

May 3, 2020: Prophesying Restoration (Zephaniah 3:14-20)

By Teacher Tips

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

Distribute copies of the “The Promise of God’s Presence” exercise from the activity page, which you can download here. Have study pairs complete it as indicated. Call for insights during ensuing whole-class discussion.

To encourage personal application:

If you used the first exercise from the activity page earlier, distribute copies of the second one, titled “Practicing God’s Presence,” as a take-home. To greatly increase the likelihood that learners will complete it (and not just leave it stuck in their Bibles), say that you will call for their conclusions at the beginning of the next class.

In the World–May 3, 2020

By "In the World"

Download “In the World” for May 3, 2020 here.

EXILES RETURN HOME AMIDST VIOLENCE

In recent years, war in the African nation of Mali has displaced over 140,000 of its citizens. These refugees have fled to neighboring countries, with nearly 25,000 crossing into Burkina Faso. However, this year, violence against refugees in Burkina Faso has caused many Malian refugees to make the hard decision to return to their home country. But continued unrest there prevents them from returning, leaving them displaced, vulnerable to attack and oppression from all sides. Only peace in the land will allow the Malian refugees to return home.

EXILES RETURN HOME BY GOD’S HAND

The northern kingdom of Israel had fallen to the Assyrians a hundred years before Zephaniah prophesied to the nation of Judah. Ten tribes of Israel had been dispersed from their homeland—and the worst was yet to come. Jerusalem would be destroyed and the people of Judah exiled. But the prophet foretold that God’s punishment would not last forever. One day, the Lord would gather the exiles, lead them home, and restore their fortunes.

  1. What experience, if any, do you have with refugees?
  2. What’s the most painful or risky decision you’ve ever had to make?
  3. How have you been (or how would you like to be) delivered by God and allowed to return to a place or relationship you abandoned?

Additional Resources

www.standardlesson.com/category/in-the-world
Copyright © 2020 by Standard Publishing, part of the David C Cook family.
All rights reserved. Each download is for the use of one church only.

April 26, 2020: A Justice-Loving God (Isaiah 61:8-11; 62:2-4a)

By Teacher Tips

To begin the session:

Distribute copies of the “Would You Rather . . . ?” quiz from the activity page, which you can download here. After learners complete as indicated, have them pair off and take turns trying to guess the other person’s choices.

After the activity state, “Most of our preferences are morally neutral. They are neither right nor wrong, but are simply matters of taste. Today we’ll explore whether the same is true of God.”

To encourage personal application:

Distribute copies of the “Did You Ever . . . ?” exercise from the activity page to complete as indicated. Assure learners that you will not ask for these back or put anyone on the spot to reveal responses to the class.

In the World–April 26, 2020

By "In the World"

Download “In the World” for April 26, 2020 here.

MOST-FAVORED NATIONS EXEMPTED FROM TARIFFS

With the global economy disrupted by the coronavirus, President Donald Trump recently granted a ninety-day exemption from tariffs for most-favored nations. The goal is to allow non-U.S. companies to retain money that would have normally been paid to the American government during shutdowns connected to the pandemic. A country is granted most-favored nation status by becoming a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO), which requires that any member government abide by certain criteria. WTO rules include such things as easing customs procedures and reining in tariffs that would reduce imports.

MOST-FAVORED NATION STATUS IN THE EYES OF GOD

In today’s Bible passage, the Lord grants most-favored nation status to Israel, saying He will make an everlasting covenant with them. God chooses nations for His own reasons, and the criteria He gave for honoring Israel in this way was His own truth and faithfulness. He set one nation above all as a light to draw the others and to bring glory to His name.

  1. When has favor come upon you in some way (winning something, for example)?
  2. When have you felt as if God has favored you?
  3. In light of this passage, how might ancient Israel have viewed itself compared to other nations?

Additional Resources

  1. Music Video, Traditional: “Nearer My God to Thee”
  2. Music Video, Multicultural: “Living Proof” by David & Nicole Binion + Steffany Gretzinger
  3. Music Video, Contemporary: “Praise the Name (Ancient Doors)” by Thrive Worship
  4. Guzik’s Commentary on Isaiah 61
  5. Matthew Henry’s Commentary on Isaiah 61
  6. JFB Commentary on Isaiah 61

www.standardlesson.com/category/in-the-world
Copyright © 2020 by Standard Publishing, part of the David C Cook family.
All rights reserved. Each download is for the use of one church only.

April 19, 2020: An Executed Scoundrel (Esther 7:1-10)

By Teacher Tips

To begin the session:

Before class begins, place in chairs copies of the “Revenge Gone Wrong” exercise from the activity page, which you can download here. Learners can begin working on this as they arrive.

To encourage personal application:

Distribute copies of the “Teamwork Under Fire” exercise from the activity page. Promise to discuss answers when the class next meets.

In the World–April 19, 2020

By "In the World"

Download “In the World” for April 19, 2020 here.

INJUSTICE AMID CORRUPTION

Earlier this month, an injustice was committed in Pakistan. Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheik, the mastermind behind the kidnapping and gruesome murder of journalist Daniel Pearl (in 2002), was acquitted of murder and had his sentence reduced to kidnapping only. He is likely to be released soon for time already served. Three other violent Islamists who had been convicted in the same crime likewise had their convictions overturned in a move that a source said “reeks of corruption.” Hopefully, those who have spoken out against such corruption will continue to do so.

JUSTICE DESPITE CORRUPTION

In the days of Queen Esther, the Jewish exiles in Babylon faced the very real threat of extermination because of the machinations of Haman. Esther relied on wisdom, intelligence, charm, and the prayers of many to gain the king’s favor enough to expose Haman’s plot. With only days to spare, justice prevailed, and Haman was executed on the apparatus he had constructed to kill Esther’s cousin Mordecai. Despite the evil intentions of man, God can bring about justice to His people.

  1. When has injustice touched someone you care about?
  2. What injustice have you seen corrected in your life?
  3. How might you have been placed by God “for such a time as this” as you walk through this current pandemic?

Additional Resources

www.standardlesson.com/category/in-the-world
Copyright © 2020 by Standard Publishing, part of the David C Cook family.
All rights reserved. Each download is for the use of one church only.

April 12, 2020: A Resurrected Savior (1 Corinthians 15:1-8, 12-14, 20-23, 42-45)

By Teacher Tips

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

Distribute copies of the “My Resurrection Body” exercise from the activity page, which you can download here. Have learners complete it in pairs.

To encourage personal application:

Distribute copies of the “Proclaim the Resurrection” exercise from the activity page for learners to discuss and use as indicated.

In the World–April 12, 2020

By "In the World"

Download “In the World” for April 12, 2020 here.

LIGHT FOR THE BLIND

Pastor Phillip Dunn of West Virginia went blind fourteen years ago due to macular degeneration and cataracts. He learned to prepare for his sermons by listening to the Bible on audio. Without ever seeing them, he met new church members and became friends with them. He attended his daughter’s wedding but could not see it. He had never laid eyes on his grandchildren. Always, this pastor hoped God would restore his vision. Dunn developed a sharp pain in his left eye: the cataract in that eye had ruptured. His doctor operated to try to save his eyeball. Days after the surgery, Dunn removed the patch. Not only could he see light through that eye, somehow he could literally see. God saved this pastor from his darkness just as Jesus’ resurrection saved all believers from the darkness of sin and death.

LIFE FROM THE DEAD

There is no greater example of light penetrating the darkness than the resurrection of Jesus Christ. With the incarnation, God was invading our realm with salvation. With the crucifixion, God was conducting the great work of atonement. But as we see from Paul in today’s lesson, all our preaching and even our faith would be useless if it were not for the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. Our bodies are sown in weakness, as we know all too well. But because of Christ, the believer’s body is raised in power.

  1. What experience do you have with blindness or a deep darkness?
  2. How has the resurrection of Jesus changed your life?
  3. Who do you know who needs Christ to bring light to their darkness?

Additional Resources

www.standardlesson.com/category/in-the-world
Copyright © 2019 by Standard Publishing, part of the David C Cook family.
All rights reserved. Each download is for the use of one church only.

In the World–April 5, 2020

By "In the World"

Download “In the World” for April 5, 2020 here.

A LIGHT FOR BUS DRIVERS

Last month, a school district in Batesville, Indiana, received a grant to provide strobe lights to attach to the backpacks of students waiting for school buses. The initiative was born in 2018, after three students in another town were struck and killed by a bus because the driver did not see them. “We don’t know the situation,” a Batesville safety authority said of the bus driver. “But if an extra $1.80 light could have caught the corner of her eye, there might be three kids alive.” Lights flashing in the darkness are protecting precious lives in Batesville today.

A LIGHT FOR THE NATIONS

The Lord told Isaiah that He would raise up His servant and put His Spirit upon Him. This servant was Jesus Christ, who was still yet to come. Isaiah received the prophecy that this servant would be a light to the nations and would open the eyes of the blind. The servant of God purchased lives for God across all time and all humanity. He still opens eyes today.

  1. What new technology could be developed to help save lives?
  2. In what way has Jesus opened your eyes or ended your blindness?
  3. Do you know someone who still walks in darkness and needs to see this great light? If so, how could you help shine the light of Christ to that person?

Additional Resources

www.standardlesson.com/category/in-the-world
Copyright © 2019 by Standard Publishing, part of the David C Cook family.
All rights reserved. Each download is for the use of one church only.

In the World–March 29, 2020

By "In the World"

Download “In the World” for March 29, 2020 here.

CORRUPT NATIONS IN THE WORLD

Every year, an organization calling itself Transparency International ranks nations in its Best Countries report. They rank 73 countries based on surveys from more than 20,000 global citizens, arranging countries on multiple categories, such as citizenship, adventure, and heritage. They also rank nations on a Corruption Perceptions Index, which gives negative scores for countries that encourage “the misuse of public power for private benefit.” This year’s index puts Columbia, Mexico, and Ghana as the three most corrupt nations in the world.

CORRUPT RELIGIOUS LEADERS

The Old Testament prophet Malachi brought God’s dire warning against the corrupt religious leaders of Judah. Instead of proclaiming truth and justice, the priests were perverting justice and showing partiality in matters of law. God said these legal experts were themselves going to be put on trial. He would swiftly bring justice against them if they did not remember the fear of the Lord and judge rightly.

  1. In what ways have you ever been tempted to misuse resources for private benefit?
  2. If you were ranked in a transparency survey, in what categories (such as kindness, forgiveness, etc.) would you rank high or low?
  3. In what situations have you been a good example for God? A not-so-good example?

Additional Resources

www.standardlesson.com/category/in-the-world
Copyright © 2019 by Standard Publishing, part of the David C Cook family.
All rights reserved. Each download is for the use of one church only.

March 29, 2020: Need for Just Leaders (Malachi 2:1-9; 3:5, 6)

By Teacher Tips

To begin the session:

Before class begins, place in chairs copies of the “Fair Representation” puzzle from the activity page, which you can download here. Your early arrivers can begin work on this before class begins. If time allows, discuss at conclusion of the class.

Make a transition by asking, “When a leader of God’s people falls short of what the responsibility requires, is it usually through simple negligence or intentional misconduct?” After brief whole-class discussion, say, “Let’s see what today’s lesson from Malachi has to say about the distinction and about God’s standards, as the prophet describes the conduct of the Judean priesthood of the late fifth century BC.”

To encourage personal application:

Distribute copies of the “My Priesthood” exercise from the activity page as a takehome for further self-evaluation.

March 22, 2020: An Argument Against Corruption (Micah 3:1-3, 9-12; 6:6-8)

By Teacher Tips

To begin the session:

Distribute copies of the “Scandalous History” exercise on the activity page, which you can download here. Have students work in pairs to complete it as indicated.

After the activity, ask, “Is abuse of power really anything new? The ancient prophet Micah has the answer.”

To encourage personal application:

Distribute copies of the “Micah 3 & 6 Interview Questions” exercise from the activity page to groups of three to five. During whole-class discussion after groups complete as indicated, work through the lesson text carefully to see if learners have missed anything.

 

In the World–March 22, 2020

By "In the World"

Download “In the World” for March 22, 2020 here.

INJUSTICE BASED ON FEAR

This month, as fears of COVID-19 spread across the world, violence against Asians has surged. Some people have taken to blaming Asian people indiscriminately. A man from Singapore was beaten on the streets of London, with the attackers crying, “We don’t want your coronavirus in our country.” Never mind that the man was not Chinese and hadn’t traveled to China. A Vietnamese art curator was uninvited from appearing on a panel at an exhibit. The organizers feared that her presence would indicate that anyone going inside would contract the virus. Fear leads to injustice and hate.

INJUSTICE BASED ON SIN

The prophet Micah witnessed atrocious injustice within Israel. Its leaders were apparently condoning violence and corruption against the people of God. Leaders miscarried justice for a bribe and prophets gave “good” fortunes for pay. And yet the leaders felt they remained under the blessing of God. Injustice will be punished by God, no matter who commits it. Micah warned them that if they wanted to avoid God’s wrath, they must turn back to carrying out God’s justice and walking humbly before Him.

  1. What fear have you or others felt because of the coronavirus?
  2. How have you or someone you know behaved irrationally because of fear?
  3. How can a good God punish His people for sin and utterly destroy their country?

Additional Resources

www.standardlesson.com/category/in-the-world
Copyright © 2019 by Standard Publishing, part of the David C Cook family.
All rights reserved. Each download is for the use of one church only.

March 15, 2020: Consequences for Injustice (Habakkuk 2:6-14)

By Teacher Tips

To begin the session:

Distribute copies of the “Consequotation” exercise on the activity page, which you can download here. Have students work in pairs to complete the puzzle as directed.

After the activity say, “The fact is, actions have consequences. Let’s see what the ancient prophet Habakkuk learned from God in that regard.”

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

Distribute copies of the “From the Dustbin of History” exercise from the activity page. After learners complete it in pairs, discuss why people don’t seem to learn the lessons that the examples of failed despots have to teach.

In the World–March 15, 2020

By "In the World"

Download “In the World” for March 15, 2020 here.

PLOTTING THE RUIN OF HOMEOWNERS

A Maryland man posing as a lawyer told multiple homeowners he would fight mortgage companies to lower their monthly payment. He instructed the owners to pay his fees and then to cease paying the mortgage or opening mail from the loan companies while he “worked things out” for them. The loan institutions eventually foreclosed on the homes, and the owners received eviction notices—because the mortgage payments had not been made and warning letters hadn’t been responded to. Then the man offered to purchase the distressed properties for pennies on the dollar. He was arrested in January.

PLOTTING THE RUIN OF WHOLE PEOPLES

The prophet Habakkuk received God’s word about how the Babylonian ruler had built his kingdom on fraud, violence, and injustice. Man’s reign will last for a short time, but the knowledge of the glory of the Lord will fill the earth and last forever. God’s justice will bring to ruin those who establish their kingdom upon bloodshed and a miscarriage of justice. God expects all people, from slaves to kings, to deal rightly with one another.

  1. What example of a scam or scheme have you encountered?
  2. How can we protect ourselves or each other from those who would take advantage of others?
  3. In what ways can we help the knowledge of the glory of God to fill the earth?

Additional Resources

www.standardlesson.com/category/in-the-world
Copyright © 2019 by Standard Publishing, part of the David C Cook family.
All rights reserved. Each download is for the use of one church only.

March 8, 2020: A Prayer for Justice (Habakkuk 1:1-4, 12-14)

By Teacher Tips

To begin the session:

Distribute copies of the “Tyrants in Power” exercise from the activity page, which you can download here. Have students work individually for no more than a minute (or in small groups for a few minutes) to complete as indicated.

After the activity say, “We recognize that this world has bad guys in it—not just fictional but terribly real. If God is good and all powerful, why doesn’t he stop them? This is not a new question, as today’s text reveals.”

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

Distribute copies of the “It Doesn’t Add Up!” exercise from the activity page. Have students work in small groups to complete as indicated.

After the activity, point out that because God is sovereign, he can and does use even the actions people intend for evil to accomplish his will.

 

 

In the World–March 8, 2020

By "In the World"

Download “In the World” for March 8, 2020 here.

A LONG WAIT FOR MAN’S JUSTICE

On January 15, 1980, Helene Pruszynski, a 21-year-old college coed, got off a bus in Colorado but never made it home. The next day, her body was found dumped in a field, having been stabbed to death. For forty years, the case was unsolvable, and justice could not prevail. But new technology and old-fashioned detective work led investigators to Helene’s killer. Last month, the man pleaded guilty to the crime. After a long, uncertain wait, during which most of Helene’s close relatives died, justice was finally done.

A LONG WAIT FOR GOD’S JUSTICE

The prophet Habakkuk had to wait a long time for justice to be done, and he cried out to God to bring it about. He expressed amazement that God—the author of justice—refused to bring an end to the violence and injustice Habakkuk saw continually. In God’s forbearance, He sometimes withholds punishment of the wicked, and His people may have to endure the consequences of the delay. But His justice is sure, and the day of judgment is coming.

  1. What instance of injustice causes you to cry out to God?
  2. What example of justice being done causes you to thank God?
  3. Why do you think God doesn’t punish every wrongdoer as soon as he or she commits injustice?

Additional Resources

www.standardlesson.com/category/in-the-world
Copyright © 2019 by Standard Publishing, part of the David C Cook family.
All rights reserved. Each download is for the use of one church only.

March 1, 2020: A Call to Accountability (Amos 5:18-24)

By Teacher Tips

To begin the session:

Distribute copies of the “Fair Enough” exercise from the activity page, which you can download here. Have students work in small groups to discuss the fairness of the situations described. Note that there are no clear right or wrong responses. Limit discussion time to no more than five minutes.

After the activity, pose one or more of the following questions for a whole-class discussion: 1–What frequently causes people to complain about being treated unfairly? 2–Why is self-interest the worst criterion by which to evaluate fairness? 3–What better criteria exist?

Make a transition by saying, “People want fairness and expect justice—it’s human nature. But is justice a matter of personal, subjective expectation? Let’s see what God had to say about this through the prophet Amos.”

To encourage personal application:

Distribute copies of the “Seven Days of Justice and Righteousness” exercise from the activity page as a take-home. As an incentive to complete it, promise that you will begin next week’s class by discussing results.

 

 

In the World–March 1, 2020

By "In the World"

Download “In the World” for March 1, 2020 here.

PRETENDING SAFETY WHILE A VIRUS RUNS RAMPANT

Back in December, in the earliest days of the coronavirus in China, Dr. Li Wenliang and seven other doctors were reprimanded by state officials for warning people about the outbreak. Dr. Li, who was 34, used social media to tell friends about the emerging threat. Police rebuked Li and the other doctors, asserting the government’s official position that there was no danger at all. The disease became a worldwide epidemic, and last month, Dr. Li died from the coronavirus he warned about.

PRETENDING RIGHTEOUSNESS WHILE INJUSTICE RUNS RAMPANT

In our text today, the prophet Amos delivers God’s judgment on Israelites who pretended righteousness while injustice and sin ran like a virus through the whole community. They preferred the official position that their sacrifices exhibited pure hearts, but God exposed the acts as empty rituals. They were making God sick because their false beliefs allowed corruption to thrive among them.

  1. What was it like when you or someone else battled a frightening illness?
  2. How can pretending that something is untrue harm ourselves and others?
  3. What can be done when you feel that your heart isn’t truly right before God?

Additional Resources

  1. Music Video, Traditional: “Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee”
  2. Music Video, Multicultural: “Friend of God” by Israel Houghton
  3. Music Video, Contemporary: “The Same Jesus” by Matt Redman
  4. Guzik’s Commentary on Amos 5
  5. JFB Commentary on Amos 5
  6. Coffman’s Commentary on Amos 5

www.standardlesson.com/category/in-the-world
Copyright © 2019 by Standard Publishing, part of the David C Cook family.
All rights reserved. Each download is for the use of one church only.

February 23, 2020: Ever-Persevering Petitions (Luke 11:5-13)

By Teacher Tips

To begin the session:

Distribute copies of the “Handling Personal Requests” exercise from the activity page, which you can download here. Have students work in pairs to complete as indicated. (Option. Reduce the number of questions to be discussed as time constraints dictate.)

After the activity, lead into Bible study by saying, “Those who can grant our desires sometimes say yes, sometimes they say no, and sometimes change their no to yes because of our persistence. Let’s see how Jesus used this common experience to teach about our relationship with the heavenly Father.”

To encourage personal application:

Distribute copies of the “A Pathway to Prayer” exercise from the activity page. This is best used as a take-home due to its personal nature. Stress that you will begin next week’s class by asking for volunteers to share conclusions.

 

 

In the World–February 23, 2020

By "In the World"

Download “In the World” for February 23, 2020 here.

A FARMER’S PERSISTENT REQUEST

Subsistence farmers in northern South Africa are suffering a tremendous drought. No rainfall means no water or vegetation with which to keep their few cattle alive. Farmers with herds of 17–20 cattle have lost 10 or more, and unless the situation improves, “we will soon have carcasses of animals strewn all over the place,” says one farmer. The farmers have formed a forum with their neighbors to petition the South African department of agriculture, their last and only hope, for aid. Other areas hit by the drought are receiving government assistance, but so far, not much has come to this area. The farmers have no one else to turn to, so they continue crying out to the government for help.

A FRIEND’S PERSISTENT REQUEST

In our passage today, we hear Jesus’ parable about the friend who comes to a house at midnight, desperate to receive aid in caring for a guest who has arrived unexpectedly. Jesus urges his listeners to persist in prayer the same way the man persisted in requesting help from his neighbor. In Jesus’ command to ask, seek, and knock, we get the picture of someone who fervently explores a variety of approaches to get his friend’s attention and help. Christians are to come to God, their only hope for the relief they need, and to persist in requesting help. If even humans will get up and help their friends, though they don’t want to, how much more will our heavenly Father—who does love to help his children—arise to give them aid?

  1. What’s something you’ve been convinced to do because someone was persistent?
  2. When have you been in a situation in which only one person or group could help you and you desperately needed their help? What did you do?
  3. We know that God knows all our needs, so why does Jesus command us to pray and to be persistent in prayer?

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.

www.standardlesson.com/category/in-the-world
Copyright © 2019 by Standard Publishing, part of the David C Cook family.
All rights reserved. Each download is for the use of one church only.

February 16, 2020: Kingdom-Seeking Prayer (Matthew 6:9-15)

By Teacher Tips

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

Distribute copies of the “Forgiveness Pointers” exercise from the activity page, which you can download here. If you wish learners to work alone, allow one minute for selecting one quotation and reacting as indicated. If learners work in pairs, adjust your request as appropriate for your class. Limit the time for whole-class discussion so it won’t drag out.

To encourage personal application:

Distribute copies of the “Forgiveness Challenge” exercise on the activity page. Due to the highly personal nature of this exercise, it should be given as a take-home as learners depart.

In the World–February 16, 2020

By "In the World"

Download “In the World” for February 16, 2020 here.

IN LIFE AS IN THOUGHTS

Statistics tell us that, by the second week of February, more than 80% of people have abandoned their New Year’s resolutions. One article says that this happens in part because people do not come up with a plan for how they are going to bring about their resolution. A failure to envision how the plan could go from mere words or an idea in the mind to a reality in life will contribute to failure.

ON EARTH AS IN HEAVEN

Jesus taught His disciples to pray that realities in heaven could become realities in their actual lives on earth. To translate God’s will in heaven so that it’s done more and more on earth is ever the Christian’s prayer. We have the great opportunity to live as citizens of God’s kingdom even as we walk in this life, declaring God’s resolution to come to earth to provide salvation to humankind.

  1. How are you doing on any resolutions you made this year?
  2. If you’ve ever followed through with a New Year’s resolution, what was it, and what helped you bring it about?
  3. What’s an aspect of God’s will that you’d love to see carried out on earth as it is in 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.

www.standardlesson.com/category/in-the-world
Copyright © 2019 by Standard Publishing, part of the David C Cook family.
All rights reserved. Each download is for the use of one church only.

February 9, 2020: God-Honoring Piety (Matthew 6:1-8)

By Teacher Tips

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

Distribute copies of the “Giving, Prayer, and Heart” exercise from the activity page, which you can download here. Have learners complete it in study pairs or groups of three. (Option. You can change the seven questions into seven skits for learners to act out for discussion.)

To encourage personal application:

If you did not do so earlier, distribute copies of the “Giving, Prayer, and Heart” exercise from the activity page as a take-home. To encourage completion, promise to discuss results next week.

In the World–February 9, 2020

By "In the World"

Download “In the World” for February 9, 2020 here.

GIFT FROM AN ANONYMOUS DONOR

At Valentine’s Day, we think about expressing our affection for others, and perhaps to that one special someone. Some people might even receive something from a secret admirer. But one person took anonymous philanthropic giving to a new level in 2018. This person, identified only as “Pine,” had made a fortune in bitcoin and decided he or she had more money than could ever be spent, so Pine started giving million-dollar gifts to non-profit organizations in the health sector. Over the course of a few months, this anonymous donor gave away over $55 million. To this day, the person’s identity is unknown to those who received the gifts.

GIFT FROM AN ANONYMOUS GIVER

In Jesus’ day, the priests and Pharisees were hardly anonymous in their giving. They called attention to their supposedly pious acts, all but begging for applause and glory. Jesus taught His disciples to seek the favor of God rather than of people. By letting their giving be between themselves and God and not for show, they would obtain reward from God, a reward that would last. This was far better than receiving fleeting honor among people and nothing at all from God.

  1. What’s your favorite Valentine memory?
  2. Have you ever had (or been) a secret admirer? What was that like?
  3. Why does God dislike good works when they are showy?

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.

www.standardlesson.com/category/in-the-world
Copyright © 2019 by Standard Publishing, part of the David C Cook family.
All rights reserved. Each download is for the use of one church only.

February 2, 2020: Single-Minded Obedience (Matthew 4:1-11)

By Teacher Tips

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

As a posttest, have learners complete the “True or False?” exercise on the activity page, which you can download here and reproduce.

To encourage personal application:

Distribute copies of the “Tempted Like Jesus” exercise on the activity page. Have learners complete it in study pairs before moving to the final commitment activity.

In the World–February 2, 2020

By "In the World"

Download “In the World” for February 2, 2020 here.

PREPARED FOR ARMED CONFLICT

When Marine Corps recruits go through basic training at Parris Island, South Carolina, they endure obstacles and challenges one after another. The drill instructors move recruits through a crawl/walk/run approach, preparing them for the rigors of deployment and combat. They embody the Navy SEAL saying, “The more you sweat in training, the less you bleed in battle.” Recruits experience firsthand the effectiveness of their gear, such as when they remove gas masks in a chamber filled with tear gas. Such training and testing infuse a sense of confidence in the recruits’ future success as United States Marines.

PREPARED FOR SPIRITUAL CONFLICT

Jesus’ temptation in the wilderness was the first great challenge of His ministry. It was an intense test that probed the depths of His character and the singlemindedness of His obedience to His Father. But much greater tests lay in His future. Through this challenge, Jesus perhaps gained confidence in His own strength against temptation. The tests that come our way today, in “training,” are preparing us so we don’t “bleed” and suffer when the greater challenges come.

  1. What difficult test have you endured that prepared you to succeed when another test came later?
  2. In what ways, if any, have you sensed your confidence in God growing when He carries you through some large test of your faith?
  3. How did each of Satan’s temptations test Jesus, and how was Jesus tested in each of these same categories at a later time?

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.

www.standardlesson.com/category/in-the-world
Copyright © 2019 by Standard Publishing, part of the David C Cook family.
All rights reserved. Each download is for the use of one church only.

 

In the World–January 26, 2020

By "In the World"

Download “In the World” for January 26, 2020 here.

BIRDS TURNED IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION

Scientists found that European robins, when taken out into the country in cages, would orient themselves toward the direction they should be migrating. But when the robins were back in the city, they could not detect the proper direction. The scientists theorized that electromagnetic radiation might be interfering with the birds’ sense of direction. So they placed robins inside a Faraday cage (which blocks electromagnetic radiation). Though the birds were still in the city, they immediately turned in the correct direction. When the troubling interference was removed, they knew where they should go next.

HEARTS TURNED IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION

At the end of Solomon’s dedication of the temple, he stood before the whole assembly of the people and prayed that God would always show them what they should do next. The king asked that the Lord would keep the hearts of the people turned ever in His direction. He recounted God’s faithfulness to Israel in the past and at the present time, and he prayed that all interference would be removed so that in the future they would continue to be pointed toward their Redeemer.

  1. How is your sense of direction, and how has that helped or hindered you in your life?
  2. What sort of “interference” can sometimes disrupt our spiritual compass?
  3. When you contemplate the future, where do you expect your praise to arise from?

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.

www.standardlesson.com/category/in-the-world
Copyright © 2019 by Standard Publishing, part of the David C Cook family.
All rights reserved. Each download is for the use of one church only.

January 19, 2020: Solomon Seeks God’s Blessing (1 Kings 8:22-53; 2 Chronicles 6:12-42)

By Teacher Tips

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

Distribute copies of the “Seven Prayers, Seven Principles” exercise from the activity page, which you can download here. Have learners complete as indicated, considering 1 Kings 8:31-51 as background. If distributed as a take-home, promise to discuss results next week.

To encourage personal application:

Distribute copies of the “Prayer Emphasis” exercise from the activity page as a take-home. To encourage completion, state that you will call for volunteers to share results next week.

In the World–January 19, 2020

By "In the World"

Download “In the World” for January 19, 2020 here.

HEARING WORDS OF LOVE

Andrea Diaz had been mostly deaf since birth. Following surgery to install a cochlear implant, an audiology technician switched the implant on to see if Diaz, now a young woman, could hear clearly. Immediately, she began to laugh and cry as sounds flooded into her mind. In the audiology room with her was her boyfriend, who seized his moment. He went to one knee and produced an engagement ring. “I wanted to make one of the first things you hear be me asking you to marry me.” He proposed and she accepted, saying, “I love you. I can hear your voice.”

HEARING WORDS OF PRAYER

When Solomon stood before the altar with the people to dedicate the temple to God, one of his chief prayers was that God would hear all the prayers made in and toward the temple. He hoped the temple could serve as a gateway to God, a place where one’s requests could have special volume and effectiveness in God’s ears. In this temple, Solomon prayed that God would hear their voice—and forgive.

  1. What would you say is the best sound in the whole world? A newborn’s cry? Classical music? The roar of the ocean?
  2. What’s something you have built, installed, or purchased so you could hear more clearly?
  3. How do we know that God hears all 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.

www.standardlesson.com/category/in-the-world
Copyright © 2019 by Standard Publishing, part of the David C Cook family.
All rights reserved. Each download is for the use of one church only.

January 12, 2020: Solomon Speaks to the People (1 Kings 8:14-21)

By Teacher Tips

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

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

To encourage personal application:

Use the “One Favorite Promise” exercise from the activity page to expand the discussion. Students can pair off to discuss as indicated.

In the World–January 12, 2020

By "In the World"

Download “In the World” for January 12, 2020 here.

A PROMISE MADE TO THE PEOPLE

Last year, we celebrated the fiftieth anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing. President John F. Kennedy launched that effort in a famous speech before the people gathered in the Rice University stadium in Houston on September 12, 1962. He made the vow that America would put astronauts on the moon and bring them home safely within the decade of the 1960s. It was a promise that was kept, though he who made the promise did not live to see it fulfilled.

A PROMISE KEPT BEFORE THE PEOPLE

King David had wanted to build a temple in Jerusalem, but God, though pleased with his desire, gave the honor to his son Solomon. David’s vow was fulfilled by someone else. When Solomon was dedicating the temple, he addressed the people to praise God for how He had kept His promise to David, to Solomon, and to Israel.

  1. If you remember the space race of the 1960s, how confident were you that President Kennedy’s vow could be accomplished?
  2. What is the most significant promise that someone has kept with you?
  3. Why are some promises made before other 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.

www.standardlesson.com/category/in-the-world
Copyright © 2019 by Standard Publishing, part of the David C Cook family.
All rights reserved. Each download is for the use of one church only.

January 5, 2020: Solomon Summons the Ark (1 Kings 8:1-13)

By Teacher Tips

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

Distribute copies of the “Glory, Glory, Glory!” exercise from the activity page, which you can download here. Time allowing, have learners complete it in groups of three. It can be a take-home if time is short.

To encourage personal application:

Distribute copies of the “God’s Glory in Us” exercise from the activity page. Challenge class members to jot down a response to at least one of the questions before class adjourns. Call for volunteers to share what they’ve written, but don’t put anyone on the spot.

In the World–January 5, 2020

By "In the World"

Download “In the World” for January 5, 2020 here.

CHANGING THE VENUE FOR A WEDDING?

This past October, wildfires raged in the California Wine Country, threatening the dream wedding of a couple who had planned the event for over a year. With firefighting vehicles all around, the fire marshal ordering evacuations of the area, and the air quality dropping by the minute, the couple refused to change venues, and the nuptials went on as scheduled. The wedding photographer posted to social media a photo of the couple in their wedding attire—with the addition of surgical masks—standing in a vineyard backlit by a smoky sunset. The photo went viral and their “unforgettable” wedding became just that.

CHANGING THE VENUE FOR THE ARK OF THE COVENANT

King Solomon contemplated and executed a change of venue in an event long-planned, as well. He’d made thorough preparations to transition the ark of the covenant from its temporary home in the tabernacle to what he hoped would be its permanent home in the temple. When the transition had been accomplished, a smoky cloud of the glory of God filled the temple, and the king knew God was pleased.

  1. Have you ever been forced to evacuate for any reason, and what were your emotions?
  2. Would you say you have ever encountered an overwhelming sense of the presence or glory of God? If so, what was it like?
  3. In what ways does this Old Testament event foreshadow the coming 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.

www.standardlesson.com/category/in-the-world
Copyright © 2019 by Standard Publishing, part of the David C Cook family.
All rights reserved. Each download is for the use of one church only.

 

December 29, 2019: David’s Prayer (1 Chronicles 17:16-27)

By Teacher Tips

To begin the session:

Distribute copies of the “Exceptional Acceptance” exercise from the activity page, which you can download here. Have class members work in pairs to discuss as indicated.

After the activity, discuss what makes a good acceptance speech. Lead into Bible study by saying, “When a person receives an honor, he or she may respond with gracious words. We can learn from David in this regard.”

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

Distribute copies of the “How to Give an Acceptance Speech” exercise from the activity page. Have learners work in small groups to complete it. After either activity, lead into the final section of the lesson by saying, “David’s prayer in this text provides us a good model for our own prayer lives. Let’s see how we can apply what it teaches us.”

 

 

In the World–December 29, 2019

By "In the World"

Download “In the World” for December 29, 2019 here.

LOOK BACK AND LOOK AHEAD ON NEW YEAR’S EVE

Tuesday night is New Year’s Eve, and people will be having parties, watching fireworks, and making resolutions left and right. Articles will round up the top news stories of 2019 and pundits will declare 2020 the year of something. We’ll start hearing about the new year’s fashions, technology, colors, trends, and predictions. January—named after the pagan god Janus, often depicted with one face looking back and another face looking forward—is a great time to take stock of your life. Look backward over 2019 to remember what happened and look forward to what you hope will happen in 2020.

LOOK BACK AND LOOK AHEAD ABOUT GOD’S WORK

In our passage today, David took stock of his relationship with God. David looked back into the recent past to recall that God had promised to establish his kingdom forever, and he looked further back to recall God’s faithfulness to Israel. Then he looked ahead and prayed that God would carry out His promise in the future.

  1. What were the high and low points of 2019 for you, and what do you hope for in 2020?
  2. What’s a New Year’s Eve or Day tradition you like to observe or would like to resurrect?
  3. As you take stock of your spiritual life, what are the high and low points in your past, and what is your prayer for 2020?

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.

www.standardlesson.com/category/in-the-world
Copyright © 2019 by Standard Publishing, part of the David C Cook family.
All rights reserved. Each download is for the use of one church only.

December 22, 2019: Mary’s Praise (Luke 1:39-56)

By Teacher Tips

To begin the session:

Distribute copies of the “Bless You!” exercise from the activity page, which you can download here. Have students work individually to complete the activity as indicated in no more than one minute.

After the activity say, “To be blessed is to recognize and enjoy some kind of prosperity. In describing the visit of Mary to Elizabeth, Luke repeatedly wrote of blessing and being blessed. Let’s see what this has to do with us.”

To encourage personal application:

As learners depart, distribute copies of the “Praying from the Psalms” exercise from the activity page as a take-home. To encourage completion, promise to discuss the results at the beginning of the next class.

In the World–December 22, 2019

By "In the World"

Download “In the World” for December 22, 2019 here.

TWO WOMEN WHO CHANGED HISTORY

On October 18, NASA astronauts Jessica Meir and Christina Koch performed the first-ever all-woman spacewalk. The pair went outside the International Space Station to replace a faulty battery, and in the process made history. “For us it’s just coming out here and doing our job today,” Meir said during the spacewalk. “At the same time, we recognize that it is a historic achievement.”

TWO WOMEN WHO CHANGED ETERNITY

In our passage today, we look at Elizabeth, who was pregnant with John the Baptist, and Mary, who was pregnant with the Son of God. These women were handpicked by God to bear two of the most important baby boys ever born. John readied Israel for the Messiah and Jesus atoned for humanity and opened the way for eternal relationship with God. Through the women’s shared task—to bear and raise their sons—they helped change the course not only of history but of eternity.

  1. Who are some heroines in your life and throughout history, and why do you admire them?
  2. What benefits do you see resulting from women taking on tasks that were historically men’s work?
  3. What qualities and character attributes can you detect about Elizabeth and Mary from 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.

www.standardlesson.com/category/in-the-world
Copyright © 2019 by Standard Publishing, part of the David C Cook family.
All rights reserved. Each download is for the use of one church only.

December 15, 2019: David’s House (1 Chronicles 17:1, 3, 4, 11-14)

By Teacher Tips

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

Distribute copies of the “Fair or Unfair?” exercise from the activity page, which you can download here, as a posttest.

To encourage personal application:

Distribute copies of the “Who Is in Charge?” exercise from the activity page for learners to complete in one minute or less. Give a token prize to the one who completes it the fastest. Discuss what the quote signifies.

Close with prayer asking God to help your learners trust that his plans are always superior to even the best of human intentions.

In the World–December 15, 2019

By "In the World"

Download “In the World” for December 15, 2019 here.

A JOYFUL PLAN FOR A BOY

William is a young boy who was born with only half a working heart. Despite multiple surgeries, at a tender age he had to face the reality that many of his most cherished dreams are forever beyond his reach. One of these is to be an airline pilot. But one airline and one wish-granting foundation worked together to give this brave boy a three-day simulation—right down to custom-made pilot’s uniform, hat, and aviator’s sunglasses—of what it would be like to be a pilot. He got to fly the simulator, ride in the crash fire truck, deploy a plane’s emergency exit door, and more. What they did for him was much better than what he would’ve otherwise received.

GOD’S BETTER PLAN FOR A MAN

King David’s most cherished dream was to build a Temple for the ark of the covenant and for the Lord. But God told him he was not the person for the job. However, the Lord had a better plan for him than he had for himself. He wanted to build a temporary temple, but God wanted to establish David’s throne forever. Indeed, David’s bloodline ran directly to Jesus Christ, whose reign will never end. Sometimes even our highest aspirations fall far short of God’s intent.

  1. If you had the power to grant someone’s wish, who and what would it be?
  2. What’s something you wanted that you were later glad you didn’t get because what you ended up with was far superior?
  3. What lesson can we draw from seeing that David’s focus was on an earthly structure and God’s eyes were on the future?

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.

www.standardlesson.com/category/in-the-world
Copyright © 2019 by Standard Publishing, part of the David C Cook family.
All rights reserved. Each download is for the use of one church only.

December 8, 2019: David’s Gratitude (1 Chronicles 16:8-12, 28-36)

By Teacher Tips

To begin the session:

For your early arrivers, place in chairs copies of the “Reasons to Celebrate” exercise from the activity page, which you can download here.

When the time to start class arrives, have playing in the background a song that speaks of “celebration” in some way. Ask what memories this kind of song (but not necessarily this particular song) evokes. Follow up by discussing various reasons such songs give for celebrating.

Say, “We like parties—and there are so many reasons for celebration. But do we ever celebrate for reasons similar to those of Bible characters? Let’s take a look at one and find out!”

To encourage personal application:

Distribute copies of the “Party Animals” exercise from the activity page as a take-home for personal self-evaluation. Promise to discuss results during next week’s class.

In the World–December 8, 2019

By "In the World"

Download “In the World” for December 8, 2019 here.

PROCLAIMING THE ASCENSION OF AN EMPEROR

Earlier this fall, a man of royal birth named Naruhito proclaimed himself emperor of Japan. His father had previously abdicated the throne, and now his son, next in line in the world’s oldest hereditary monarchy, took his place. “I hereby proclaim my enthronement,” Naruhito said, promising to fulfill his responsibilities to the people of Japan. Thousands of guests attended the ceremony, shouting the traditional cheer that means “10,000 years.”

PROCLAIMING THE GOODNESS OF GOD

After David had led the people to properly bring the ark of the covenant into its tent in Jerusalem, he wanted the celebration to continue. He commissioned a certain musician, Asaph, to create a new song that would proclaim the everlasting goodness of the Lord. The song reminded Israel of God’s graciousness to them throughout their 2,500-plus-year history and urged them to proclaim their gratitude to Him.

  1. People often proclaim the major milestones in their lives, such as engagements or the birth of a first child. What have you proclaimed in your life?
  2. Why is it important to remember that God is our king?
  3. What would you like to proclaim today about God’s everlasting goodness?

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.

www.standardlesson.com/category/in-the-world
Copyright © 2019 by Standard Publishing, part of the David C Cook family.
All rights reserved. Each download is for the use of one church only.

December 1, 2019: David’s Worship (1 Chronicles 15:1-3, 14-16, 25-29a)

By Teacher Tips

To begin the session:

Distribute copies of the “Making a Move” exercise from the activity page, which you can download here. Have students work in pairs to complete this very difficult matching quiz.

After the activity say, “Whether we are moving the contents of one room into another or moving a household across the country, we need to prepare for the task to do it properly. We may be surprised to know that King David has something to teach us in this regard.”

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

Distribute copies of the “David’s Moving Plans” exercise from the activity page. Use the five lines with the scrambled words as outline points for further discussion.

In the World–December 1, 2019

By "In the World"

Download “In the World” for December 1, 2019 here.

PREPARATION AND PLAY

In October of this year, two pro basketball teams traveled to Mumbai for the first-ever NBA game in India. Years of preparation had gone into the visit, and the teams got to enjoy visiting the Taj Mahal and other cultural sites. But when the time for the preseason game came, they turned to the serious business of preparing for the regular season. In the preparation there was work and joy, and in the main event, there was also work and joy.

PREPARATION AND WORSHIP

Before David was willing to move the ark of the covenant from its temporary site to its new home in Jerusalem, he did much joyful preparation. The Levites were carefully instructed and everything was made ready. But when the time came to bring the ark into the city, David turned to the serious work of worship that would prepare the ark and the people for the work and joy of ministry in the Tabernacle.

  1. How do you see preparation being connected to worship?
  2. What could happen if proper preparations aren’t made prior to worship?
  3. How do you feel when you see people worshiping the Lord more exuberantly than you do?

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.

www.standardlesson.com/category/in-the-world
Copyright © 2019 by Standard Publishing, part of the David C Cook family.
All rights reserved. Each download is for the use of one church only.

In the World–November 24, 2019

By "In the World"

Download “In the World” for November 24, 2019 here.

AVOID SPOILAGE

Throughout history, people have used techniques such as curing, smoking, or drying to preserve meat and escape the corruption that would otherwise ruin it. Today we use freezing and refrigeration to stave off the growth of bacteria, yeast, and mold. Yet this Thanksgiving, the US Department of Agriculture meat and poultry hotline will receive hundreds of calls from people worried that their turkey has spoiled or will make their guests sick. Even in our modern age, food spoilage is a lingering problem. We still have to watch out for things that corrupt—physically and spiritually.

AVOID CORRUPTION

Peter wrote to Christians who, like us, found themselves surrounded by all manner of corrupting influences. The world, our flesh, lust, and evil desires would work together to bring spoilage to us. So we must cultivate godly habits and emulate the example of Jesus. The Lord called Christians the salt of the earth, and one meaning of that is that salt preserves things that would otherwise go bad. Let us pursue the things that keep us fresh and unspoiled in the world.

  1. What are your best and worst Thanksgiving memories?
  2. In what ways do you see culture working to “spoil” Christians?
  3. What’s a godly habit you could develop that would help you and others escape the corruption of the world?

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 17, 2019: Faith that Is Focused (1 Peter 1:13-25)

By Teacher Tips

To begin the session:

Place in chairs copies of the “What Does It Mean to Be Holy?” exercise from the activity page, which you can download here, for learners to begin working on as they arrive. Tell them to feel free to work with a partner to find the answers. After learners solve the puzzle, Ask, “Why should these words describe the Christian?”

After the activity, say, “Today’s Scripture challenges every Christian to be holy and also tells us why and how.”

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

Distribute copies of the “My Life Is Yours, Lord” exercise from the activity page. This activity challenges students to compare the lyrics of the hymn “Take My Life and Let It Be” with the admonitions of today’s Scripture.

 

In the World–November 17, 2019

By "In the World"

Download “In the World” for November 17, 2019 here.

FOCUSED ON TRAINING

Last month, American gymnast Simone Biles became the most decorated gymnastics athlete, male or female, of all time. She dominated the World Championships in Stuttgart, Germany, winning five gold medals in six events. Biles hopes to add to her medal total in the Summer Olympics in Tokyo next year. Observers credit her “laser-like focus on training” as part of what has led to her incredible success.

FOCUSED ON HOLINESS

In his first epistle, Peter wrote to people living under hostile conditions. He urged them to bring some focus of their own onto purity and holy living. He knew the dangers of conforming to the desires they had before they came to faith in Christ. He charged them to focus on living in a holy way because the one who called them to Himself is holy.

  1. What’s something you became highly focused on to achieve or attain?
  2. Which aspects of your life can steal your focus from holy living, if you’re not careful?
  3. Who do you know whose focus on purity or holy living has been an inspiration or a challenge to you, and why?

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.

  1. Music Video, Traditional: “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God”
  2. Music Video, Multicultural: “Journal” by Casey J
  3. Music Video, Contemporary: “I Don’t Have Much” by Mission House
  4. Guzik’s Commentary on 1 Peter 1
  5. Barnes’ Commentary on 1 Peter 1
  6. Commentary on 1 Peter

www.standardlesson.com/category/in-the-world
Copyright © 2019 by Standard Publishing, part of the David C Cook family.
All rights reserved. Each download is for the use of one church only.

In the World–November 10, 2019

By "In the World"

Download “In the World” for November 10, 2019 here.

AN INSPIRATION TO DADS EVERYWHERE

In October, a young dad posted a video of himself and his toddler son dancing to celebrate that the boy was 11 months cancer-free. The son has Down syndrome and was later diagnosed with leukemia, but none of that stopped him and his dad from cavorting for the camera. The video had 13,000 views and counting. The dad is a motivational speaker, and he said of the video that if he and his son can beat cancer, others can do great things, as well. Perhaps the most inspiring part is seeing this dad so obviously loving and having fun with this very special little boy.

AN INSPIRATION TO CHURCHES EVERYWHERE

The Christians in Thessalonica were likewise inspirational to Paul and to churches throughout the Roman Empire. The gospel came to them with power, and they immediately became imitators of Paul and his companions. Despite suffering, their faith flourished, and this devotion set an example for every other church Paul interacted with.

  1. What’s the most motivating story you’ve ever heard?
  2. Who has been a role model or example to you personally?
  3. How do you think churches reacted when Paul told them about the example of the Thessalonian 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.

www.standardlesson.com/category/in-the-world
Copyright © 2019 by Standard Publishing, part of the David C Cook family.
All rights reserved. Each download is for the use of one church only.

November 3, 2019: Faith that Is Tested (2 Corinthians 13:1-11)

By Teacher Tips

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

Distribute copies of the exercise “A Difficult Letter” on the activity page, which you can download here. Divide the class into at least four groups, one to consider each of the headings listed. After several minutes of group work, have groups share their decisions during whole-class discussion.

To encourage personal application:

Distribute to pairs copies of the “Strength Through Weakness” exercise on the activity page to be completed as indicated. Ask volunteers to share what they’ve written.

In the World–November 3, 2019

By "In the World"

Download “In the World” for November 3, 2019 here.

EXAMINATION INVALIDATED

California authorities recently invalidated the licensing test scores for more than 1,400 pharmacy students, after it was revealed that some of the test questions had been leaked online. Officials defended the move, saying they want to be sure that their pharmacists are competent to take care of patients. But for the majority of students who did not cheat, their futures are put on hold, some have missed out on job openings, and none know how they performed in the assessment.

EXAMINATION REQUIRED

In our passage today, Paul urges Christians to assess themselves when it comes to their faith. Those who pass this self-exam are able to restore and encourage each other through God’s power. Such people don’t mind if they score low in human strength, because this allows God’s power to be strong through them.

  1. What’s the hardest test or exam you’ve had to undergo?
  2. How does it make you feel when you read that Paul asks us to examine ourselves in the faith? Nervous? Confident? Unsure?
  3. When has your faith been most sorely tested? What happened as a result of that test?

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.

www.standardlesson.com/category/in-the-world
Copyright © 2019 by Standard Publishing, part of the David C Cook family.
All rights reserved. Each download is for the use of one church only.

October 27, 2019: Grateful Faith (Luke 7:37-48)

By Teacher Tips

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

Distribute copies of the “Reflecting on God’s Forgiveness” activity on the activity page, which you can download here, to be completed in pairs or groups. After several minutes, discuss with the whole class.

To encourage personal application:

Distribute copies of the “A Graph of My Gratitude” exercise from the activity page. Ask students to complete it in one minute. If learners cannot pinpoint a gratitude level for each line on the graph, ask them to mark the time in their lives when they were most grateful to God. Then discuss with them the questions on the activity as indicated.

In the World–October 27, 2019

By "In the World"

Download “In the World” for October 27, 2019 here.

KINDNESS INSPIRES KINDNESS

Three years ago, a couple in Hull, England, delivered a stillborn baby girl. On the day little Willow would’ve been 3, the couple went to a local park to spread kindness to others in the name of their daughter. They placed flowers, chocolates, and a card with Willow’s story on benches and cars to delight others in her memory. A teenage boy found the chocolates and note, and was moved to take it to school. His compassion caused the teacher to devote a day to having the class write notes of kindness and encouragement back to the parents. The parents’ random act of kindness led to kindness in return.

EXTRAVAGANCE INSPIRES EXTRAVAGANCE

A woman of Judea, whose sins were many, was forgiven by Jesus. His extravagant kindness led her to perform an extravagant act of her own. Weeping, she poured perfume from an alabaster jar onto Jesus’ feet. In Jewish culture, this was improper on a number of levels, but she didn’t care. He had saved her, and her gratitude spilled out into an act of pure love.

  1. When has someone’s act of kindness inspired you to perform an act of kindness to someone else?
  2. What is it about kindness (or the opposite) that generates the same in us?
  3. What is one way you could express love to someone else because of the extravagant love Christ has given 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.

  1. Music Video, Traditional: “To God Be the Glory”
  2. Music Video, Multicultural: “Whisper His Name” by William McDowell
  3. Music Video, Contemporary: “Kerosene” by ASDN
  4. Guzik’s Commentary on Luke 7
  5. Coffman’s Commentary on Luke 7
  6. Matthew Henry’s Commentary on Luke 7

www.standardlesson.com/category/in-the-world
Copyright © 2019 by Standard Publishing, part of the David C Cook family.
All rights reserved. Each download is for the use of one church only.

 

October 20, 2019: Humble Faith (Luke 7:1-10)

By Teacher Tips

To begin the session:

Before class begins, distribute the crossword puzzle “What’s Faith Like?” on the activity page, which you can download here, to each class member as a take-home activity.

Hand students two slips of paper. On the first they are to complete this sentence: “The best surprise I ever received was . . .” After no more than one minute, collect the slips. Then ask students to complete this sentence on the second slip: “The worst surprise I ever received was . . .” Collect these slips also after no more than one minute. Read several slips from each set to the class.

Lead into Bible study by telling students that real faith is often surprising to those who witness it, as will be seen in this week’s account of a man with great faith and great humility.

To encourage personal application:

Distribute copies of the “My Faith Looks Up to Thee” exercise from the activity page to be completed as indicated. Discuss as time permits.

In the World–October 20, 2019

By "In the World"

Download “In the World” for October 20, 2019 here.

SURPRISED BY KIDS

In Roseville, California, last month, a woman with dementia wandered from her care facility, and the police posted a notice on Facebook. Many people took to the streets to look for her—including a group of local kids aged ten and younger. They got their bikes and went riding around their neighborhood. They did find her, and they called the police, who came and took her safely home. The police dispatcher was very surprised to hear that it was a group of kids who had found the missing person.

SURPRISED BY FAITH

On the streets of Capernaum, Jesus also found himself surprised by what he heard. He was walking to a Roman centurion’s home, where a servant lay sick. While he was on the way, the centurion sent word that Jesus didn’t need to come to the man’s house. He wasn’t worthy for Jesus to enter, he said. What was more, his faith in Jesus’ ability to simply command an illness away, even from afar, excelled the faith that Jesus had seen among the Jews … to the point that Jesus marveled.

  1. What’s something that surprised you lately?
  2. When was a time when you were surprised by someone’s faith (or lack of faith), including your own?
  3. What aspects of this episode from Jesus’ ministry do you find surprising?

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.

www.standardlesson.com/category/in-the-world
Copyright © 2019 by Standard Publishing, part of the David C Cook family.
All rights reserved. Each download is for the use of one church only.

 

October 13, 2019: Active Faith (1 Kings 17:8-16)

By Teacher Tips

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

Distribute copies of the “Obeying God with Confidence” exercise from the activity page, which you can download here. These can be completed individually as indicated; the time limit is one minute.

To encourage personal application:

Distribute copies of the “What Jesus Said” activity on the activity page. Discuss the questions as a class.

 

In the World–October 13, 2019

By "In the World"

Download “In the World” for October 13, 2019 here.

A RISK IN IRAN

The nation with the fastest-growing church in the world is, surprisingly, Iran. According to Frontier Alliance International, God is moving powerfully in Iran, leaving some mosques empty and people leaving Islam in droves. The ayatollahs have brought persecution, which the leaders (mostly women) of the Iranian church say did the church a favor by driving away halfhearted believers. “When we walk outside,” one Iranian Christian said, “we really don’t care if we get arrested, we are not upset if we get arrested. What is 50 years in prison compared to eternity with Jesus?”

A WIDOW’S RISK

When Elijah told the widow of Sidon to trust that the God of Israel would provide miraculously for her and her son, he was asking her to risk everything. Her situation was so destitute that she had despaired of life and was preparing for death. But Elijah challenged her to have faith in a God she did not know. If she risked herself and He did not uphold His promise, she would lose everything. But she did trust, and He did uphold His promise.

  1. What can we learn from the faith of persecuted Iranian Christians?
  2. When has it been the hardest time in your life to maintain your faith in the Lord?
  3. How are trust and risk a crucial part of your 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.

www.standardlesson.com/category/in-the-world
Copyright © 2019 by Standard Publishing, part of the David C Cook family.
All rights reserved. Each download is for the use of one church only.

In the World–October 6, 2019

By "In the World"

Download “In the World” for October 6, 2019 here.

WHEN LAWS ARE BROKEN, PEOPLE DIE

Late in September, a school of 800 students in Nairobi, Kenya, collapsed, injuring dozens and killing at least seven children. The non-enforcement of building codes contributed to this tragedy, allowing shoddy workmanship, greed, and a lack of oversight. Residents demanded resignations, arrests, and criminal charges over the laws that were broken and the lives that were ended.

WHEN LAWS ARE OBEYED, PEOPLE FLOURISH

Moses addressed the children of Israel and recounted how God had been faithful to them in the wilderness by providing for them and by giving them His Law. If they would obey this Law, they would inhabit the Promised Land and thrive, gaining a reputation for being people of wisdom with a great and approachable God. But if they disobeyed the Law, destruction and death would surely follow.

  1. What’s an example of a law that, if broken, could result in great tragedy?
  2. How can the balance be maintained between public well-being and private liberty?
  3. How does obeying civil laws help everyone?

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.

  1. Music Video, Traditional: “All Creatures of Our God and King”
  2. Music Video, Multicultural: “Rain” by Noel Robinson
  3. Music Video, Contemporary: “Pieces” by Sarah Kroger
  4. Matthew Henry’s Commentary on Deuteronomy 4
  5. JFB Commentary on Deuteronomy 4
  6. Guzik’s Commentary on Deuteronomy 4

www.standardlesson.com/category/in-the-world
Copyright © 2019 by Standard Publishing, part of the David C Cook family.
All rights reserved. Each download is for the use of one church only.

September 29, 2019: Faithful in Consequences (Numbers 14:10b-20)

By Teacher Tips

To begin the session:

Distribute copies of the “In Place Of” exercise from the activity page, which you can download here. Have students work individually for no more than one minute (or in small groups for several minutes) to complete as indicated.

After the activity, lead into Bible study by saying, “There are times when all of us need someone to ‘go to bat’ for us. We need someone to stand up or to stand in, to be a broker or a backer, to support us in some way. When the people of Israel angered the Lord by their rebellion, they had an intercessor. His name was Moses.”

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

Distribute copies of the “Substituting Subtext” exercise from the activity page. Have students work in small groups to complete as indicated.

After the activity, move to the final section of the lesson by saying, “The Lord’s anger against Israel was certainly justified. But another theme is intercession. Ultimately, the intercessor who stands up for us is God’s own Son! Let’s look for ways we can be intercessors for our brothers and sisters in Christ.”

 

 

In the World–September 29, 2019

By "In the World"

Download “In the World” for September 29, 2019 here.

UNEXPECTED CONSEQUENCES OF CARRYING A KNIFE

Four years ago in England, 15-year-old Sadam Essakhil grabbed a kitchen knife “for protection” and went out onto the streets of Handsworth, Birmingham, looking for trouble. He says he had no intention of drawing the weapon, yet Essakhil ended up using it to kill another young man. Now he is paying the consequences of his actions. In a video released from behind bars this month, Essakhil intercedes for other youth, pleading with them not to arm themselves with knives even if they think they won’t use them.

UNEXPECTED CONSEQUENCES OF NOT BELIEVING GOD

When the children of Israel rejected God’s promise that He would lead them victoriously into the Promised Land, they had no idea what the consequences might be. God was so angry with them that He told Moses He would destroy them with a pestilence and raise up a new people from Moses. Had Moses not interceded on their behalf, an entire population would’ve been decimated because of their lack of faith in God.

  1. What’s an action you took that had unintended negative consequences?
  2. Has there ever been a time when you interceded on behalf of someone else—or someone else stood in the gap for you? What happened?
  3. How would the biblical story have been different if Moses hadn’t interceded for the 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.

www.standardlesson.com/category/in-the-world
Copyright © 2019 by Standard Publishing, part of the David C Cook family.
All rights reserved. Each download is for the use of one church only.

September 22, 2019: Faithful Despite Unfaithfulness (Numbers 13:1–14:10a)

By Teacher Tips

To begin the session:

Distribute copies of the “Motivation” exercise from the activity page, which you can download here. Have students work individually for no more than one minute or in pairs for a few minutes to complete it as indicated.

Lead into Bible study by saying, “When life puts obstacles in our paths, what contributes to our ending up discouraged easily?” Discuss. Make a transition by noting that two Israelite spies believed that God could lead Israel to possess the promised land. But their inability to overcome human nature has something to teach us today.

To encourage personal application:

Distribute copies of the “Counseling Session” exercise from the activity page. Have students work in small groups or as a whole class to complete it as indicated.

In the World–September 22, 2019

By "In the World"

Download “In the World” for September 22, 2019 here.

FAITH IN THE GUIDANCE OF THE TOWER

In Australia this month, a 29-year-old student pilot found himself flying solo on just his third training flight. An hour after takeoff, the man’s instructor fell unconscious. The student did not give in to fear. He radioed the tower at the airfield in Perth, and personnel began talking him through how to land. He paid very close attention to the instructions from the voice on the ground, and he managed a perfect landing.

FAITH IN THE GUIDANCE OF THE LORD

When the children of Israel stood on the threshold to the Promised Land and heard the report of the spies, they had a similar decision to make. Would they trust the instructions from the voice on the mountain, or would they give in to fear? Despite the efforts of Caleb and Joshua, they chose to cease listening to God’s guidance and instead listened to their fears. God punished them with decades in the wilderness and the death of all those adults who did not trust Him.

  1. When have you had to choose between trusting God or succumbing to fear?
  2. Why does it seem more difficult to trust God when our situation feels fearful and uncertain?
  3. If you played a game in which you were blindfolded and had to cross a room full of obstacles based only on instructions from someone else, would you trust the voice guiding you? Why or why not?

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.

  1. Music Video, Traditional: “Praise to the Lord the Almighty”
  2. Music Video, Multicultural: “Glory” by Nashville Life Music
  3. Music Video, Contemporary: “Come as You Are” by David Leonard
  4. Guzik’s Commentary on Numbers 13 and Numbers 14
  5. Matthew Henry’s Commentary on Numbers 13 and Numbers 14
  6. Coffman’s Commentary on Numbers 13 and Numbers 14

www.standardlesson.com/category/in-the-world
Copyright © 2019 by Standard Publishing, part of the David C Cook family.
All rights reserved. Each download is for the use of one church only.

September 15, 2019: Faithful During Uncertainty (Exodus 16:1-15)

By Teacher Tips

To begin the session:

Distribute copies of the “Decode the Title” exercise from the activity page, which you can download here. Have students work individually for no more than one minute or in small groups for up to three minutes to complete as indicated.

Lead into Bible study by saying, “We can’t seem to help ourselves! We complain about the weather, high prices, long lines, and so much more. But this is nothing new. Although the Israelites were rescued from slavery, they found reasons to complain. Let’s see how that happened and what resulted.”

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

Distribute copies of the “Here We Go Again!” exercise from the activity page. Have students work in small groups or as a class to complete it as indicated.

After the activity, make a transition to the Into Life section by saying, “A lifestyle of grumbling results from failing to be grateful for what one has and a failure to recognize the source of those blessings. Like Israel, we start listening to our desires and the influences around us. We can find ourselves believing that we are victims of God rather than victors enjoying victories won by God. Let’s look at how we can avoid that trap and, instead, live in trust that our God will provide for us.”

In the World–September 15, 2019

By "In the World"

Download “In the World” for September 15, 2019 here.

HOARDING IN THE FACE OF A HURRICANE

This month, Hurricane Dorian made its slow, menacing approach to Florida and the eastern seaboard, leaving death and destruction in its wake. In its predicted path, people rushed to stores, quickly buying out the fresh water, canned food, batteries, and gasoline. People also hoarded things they knew they didn’t need, purchasing them “just in case” because of the fear they felt in the face of an uncertain future.

HOARDING IN THE FACE OF A WILDERNESS

In the wilderness of the Sinai Desert, the children of Israel also faced an uncertain future. The people walked through an environment infamous for its inability to support life. And despite how God had repeatedly proved that He would provide for them, they nevertheless hoarded even the daily manna God miraculously gave them. But what they saved from the previous day was eaten by worms. God wants us to trust Him to provide every day, because we always live in uncertain times. We are His people, and He is our provider and protector.

  1. What’s an impending disaster or uncertainty you had to prepare for?
  2. What would you say to someone who says we shouldn’t work or prepare at all but should just trust God?
  3. Why is it sometimes hard to trust God when fearful possibilities loom?

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.

www.standardlesson.com/category/in-the-world
Copyright © 2019 by Standard Publishing, part of the David C Cook family.
All rights reserved. Each download is for the use of one church only.

September 8, 2019: Faithful During Grief (1 Samuel 1:9-20)

By Teacher Tips

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

Distribute copies of the “Putting It Together” exercise from the activity page, which you can download here. Have students work in groups to complete it as indicated.

After the activity, move to the final section of the lesson by saying, “Hannah’s situation reminds us that life is messy. Her prayer was answered yes only after bitter tears. In the end, her burden was relieved. Let’s see what we can learn from other believers who have turned to God in prayer.”

To encourage personal application:

Distribute copies of the “A Prayer That Changed the World” exercise from the activity page to be completed and discussed as indicated.

In the World–September 8, 2019

By "In the World"

Download “In the World” for September 8, 2019 here.

FROM LIFE-GIVER TO BARREN

Fires have raged for weeks in Brazil’s Amazon rainforest. The Amazon is earth’s largest and most fertile rainforest. It is responsible for generating 20 percent of the world’s oxygen, earning it the nickname “the lungs of the planet.” The fires, which may have been caused or at least helped by deforestation in the region, have left two million acres smoldering in barren ruin. What has been life-giving has suffered harm, and hopefully will become fertile again.

FROM BARREN TO LIFE-GIVER

Hannah was Elkanah’s first wife, but she lived in grief and pain because she was infertile. Though Elkanah honored Hannah with his love, he took a second wife to bear children to his name. Perhaps Hannah wondered if God were punishing or cursing her by closing her womb. She cried out in prayer at the site of the Tabernacle, making a vow to God if He would make her fertile. Eli the priest heard her and added his blessing to her request for a child. Soon thereafter, her barrenness and her grief were taken away, and she brought forth a son.

  1. Have you lived through grief and pain similar to what Hannah went through?
  2. What might you say to someone who feels that God is punishing or cursing them?
  3. What story or event can you recall in which someone’s shame was turned to honor?

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.

www.standardlesson.com/category/in-the-world
Copyright © 2019 by Standard Publishing, part of the David C Cook family.
All rights reserved. Each download is for the use of one church only.

September 1, 2019: Faithful During Distress (Genesis 19:1, 4, 5, 15-26, 29)

By Teacher Tips

To begin the session:

Distribute copies of the “Celebrity Godparents” exercise from the activity page, which you can download here. Have students work individually for no more than a minute or in pairs for a few minutes to complete as indicated.

After the activity say, “It is not unusual for people, even after they become adults, to have an older and wiser adult looking out for their best interests. In the Bible, we find a similar situation concerning Abraham and his nephew Lot. Let’s take a look.”

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

Distribute copies of the “Surprising or Expected?” exercise from the activity page. Have students work in small groups to complete as indicated.

After the activity, make a transition to the Into Life section by saying, “Note that the people in today’s lesson had varying degrees of faith as connected with their self-interest. Let’s think about how we can use today’s lesson effectively in our interactions with those who are less mature in the faith—newer believers who need to be aware of the tension between God’s holy judgment and his gracious mercy.”

In the World–September 1, 2019

By "In the World"

Download “In the World” for September 1, 2019 here.

FAITHFUL DESPITE SHARKS

Last month, a fisherman in California hooked a shark as long as the fisherman was tall. He tried to get the hook out of the shark’s mouth, but it lunged at him and sank its jaws into his thigh, piercing an artery. The man called out, but the nearest human help was over a hundred yards away. However, Darby—the man’s year-old pit bull waiting in the car nearby—leapt from the window and came to his master’s aid. He sank his own teeth into the shark and eventually pulled it off, and they got the shark back into the water. The fisherman recovered, but things could’ve been much worse if not for the courage of a faithful dog.

FAITHFUL DESPITE SIN

In today’s lesson, we read of the extreme evil of the citizens of Sodom and Gomorrah in the time of Abraham and Lot. Yet despite their great sin, God remained faithful to His own, providing a gracious way of escape for Lot and his family. Though the culture was deeply corrupt, still God remembered His promises to His people and made sure they were safe.

  1. When has a faithful companion (human or otherwise) given aid that prevented you from coming to great harm?
  2. Why is it difficult (or is it difficult) to remain true to a promise when the other person has been involved in some sin or misdeed?
  3. How should we respond if we find ourselves in corrupt and sinful surroundings?

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.

www.standardlesson.com/category/in-the-world
Copyright © 2019 by Standard Publishing, part of the David C Cook family.
All rights reserved. Each download is for the use of one church only.

August 25, 2019: A Covenant of Love (Ephesians 5:21-33)

By Teacher Tips

To begin the session:

Distribute copies of the activity page, which you can download here. Point students to the “Marriage Broken” activity at the top of the page. With a time limit of one minute, have students write descriptions of what seems to be happening in each one. (You can use the “Marriage Mended” part of the reproducible page in the Into Life section.)

Lead into Bible study by saying, “Today, we’re going to look at a covenant that’s personal, a covenant arrangement that has affected each of our lives in one way or another. I’m talking about marriage. The challenge for us is to decide how a Christian marriage can be more pleasing to God than marriages not governed by Christ.”

To encourage personal application:

Point students to the “Marriage Mended” section of the activity page. Allow a maximum of one minute for learners to engage the activity as indicated. Ask for volunteers to share thoughts for whole-class discussion.

Write this sentence on the board: Christian marriages are unique because ______. Ask class members to volunteer completions to the sentence. End with a prayer for the marriages represented—and to be represented—in your class.

In the World–August 25, 2019

By "In the World"

Download “In the World” for August 25, 2019 here.

SACRIFICIAL LOVE FOR ORPHANS

As young parents on a mission trip to Mexico, Jeane and Paul Briggs, of West Virginia, encountered a blind orphan boy whose story tugged at their hearts. They adopted him and have been adopting girls and boys ever since. For each child, “We’d hear of a child, pray about it and then felt like we should bring him home.” Their family now includes 32 previously orphaned children from various countries. The couple opened their lives and their home in radical, sacrificial love to so many children in need.

SACRIFICIAL LOVE FOR OTHERS

Our passage today has often been misread and sometimes abused to force wives to submit to their husbands, no questions asked. But Paul is saying that all Christians are to love and submit to one another (Ephesians 5:21)—husbands and wives, wives and husbands, and everyone else—in the same way Christ loved us. His way is never to force someone to submit to Him. His way is to give Himself wholly and sacrificially to even His enemies, and certainly His children, in love.

  1. How does the adoption of orphans reflect Christ’s sacrificial love?
  2. What view of this passage does your church or congregation have?
  3. Why should marriage be a covenant of mutual love?

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.

www.standardlesson.com/category/in-the-world
Copyright © 2019 by Standard Publishing, part of the David C Cook family.
All rights reserved. Each download is for the use of one church only.

August 18, 2019: A Covenant to Marry (Ruth 3:1-6, 8-12, 16-18)

By Teacher Tips

To begin the session:

Distribute copies of the “Hidden Message, Helpful Message” activity from the activity page, which you can download here. After learners work in pairs for several minutes, ask who can read it. Ask volunteers how they’ve seen this principle played out with positive or negative examples.

Lead into Bible study by saying, “Today we’re going to look at a prelude to a wedding. The details of this account may seem strange to us in our time and in our culture. But we will see how the actions demonstrated the integrity of everyone in the story.”

To encourage personal application:

Distribute copies of “My Relationship Matrix” from the activity page, to be completed as indicated in one minute. Discuss. (Option. Distribute as a take-home activity.)

In the World–August 18, 2019

By "In the World"

Download “In the World” for August 18 here.

BREAKING FROM WEDDING TRADITIONS

Weddings are becoming more individualized and focused on what the couple wants rather than following convention. For instance, one trend in 2019 is to have a traditional ceremony and a second wedding event—as much as six months later—that is more of a party. The reception, which used to feature more or less the same traditional elements, has become more mix and match to suit a couple’s desires. One event planner advises, “Don’t have the evening regimented by protocol with a three-course meal and choreographed dances. You can do that if you really want to, but it would be a shame to fall back on conventionality in that way.”

HONORING WEDDING TRADITIONS

The story of Ruth approaching Boaz to take her as his wife is all about “falling back on conventionality.” Ancient tradition held that the nearest male relative of a deceased Jewish man must marry his widow in order to bear children to be the dead man’s heirs (see Deuteronomy 25:5–6; Ruth 4:10, 13; Mark 12:19; Luke 20:28). This week’s story, about Ruth covering herself under Boaz’s blanket, is odd to us, but it is a picture of two people carefully honoring cherished Jewish tradition.

  1. What’s the strangest wedding you’ve ever heard of or been to?
  2. What wedding tradition do you love most? Which one do you wish would go away?
  3. If you know of some unusual traditions or laws, which is your favorite?

Additional Resources

www.standardlesson.com/category/in-the-world
Copyright © 2019 by Standard Publishing, part of the David C Cook family.
All rights reserved. Each download is for the use of one church only.

August 11, 2019: A Mother-Daughter Covenant (Ruth 1:6-11, 14-18)

By Teacher Tips

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

Distribute copies of the “In-law Diaries” activity from the activity page, which you can download here. Read today’s printed text in the segments indicated on the sheet. After each segment, pause for learners to make entries as indicated. After the last entry, cycle back to the beginning as you ask volunteers to share what they’ve written.

To encourage personal application:

Distribute copies of the “Blessed to Be a Blessing” activity from the activity page as a take-home exercise. Ask for volunteers to be ready to share in the next class session what they have written and how things turned out.

In the World–August 11, 2019

By "In the World"

Download “In the World” for August 11 here.

I’LL HELP BECAUSE YOU SHARE MY VALUES

An experiment in Germany studied whether or not people would help an immigrant. An actor in the experiment dropped a paper cup on the ground at a park, and the other actor (a woman dressed as an immigrant) either ignored the trash or chided the man until he threw his trash away. Then the woman dropped her own groceries, and the sociologists watched to see if bystanders would come to her aid. Germans are notorious sticklers for cleanliness. The procedure, done more than a thousand times, showed a significant statistical increase in people coming to the woman’s aid if she had first shown that she shared German values by making the man clean up.

I’LL HELP BECAUSE YOU SHARE MY SAVIOR

Today’s story is about how Ruth, a woman from Moab, committed to staying by the side of Naomi, her deceased husband’s mother. She did this despite their differences in background, ethnicity, and religion. Ruth put her faith in the God of the Bible, and both King David and Jesus Himself trace their lineage to her. It’s important to form relationships with Christians from different backgrounds, especially for times of crisis or need. The Christian may have more in common with another Christian in a faraway nation than with a non-Christian neighbor next door.

  1. What’s an American value that a refugee could demonstrate that would make you more inclined to help him or her in need?
  2. In what ways, if at all, do you find yourself naturally inclined to reach out to people from other ethnic groups or different cultures?
  3. How might you form a new relationship with a Christian from a different background?

Additional Resources

www.standardlesson.com/category/in-the-world
Copyright © 2019 by Standard Publishing, part of the David C Cook family.
All rights reserved. Each download is for the use of one church only.

August 4, 2019: A Covenant Between Friends (1 Samuel 18:1-5; 19:1-7)

By Teacher Tips

To begin the session:

Distribute copies of the “Acquaintance . . . or Friend?” activity from the activity page, which you can download here. Ask students if they agree or disagree with the quote. Taking no more than one minute, have them complete the “Remembering My Friends” section as indicated.

Lead into Bible study by saying, “Today we’ll look at a story of friendship to see how it confirms or contradicts these quotes. Maybe we’ll decide something new about friendship in the process.”

To encourage personal application:

Ask class members to complete individually the chart in the “Strengthening Our Friendship” activity from the activity page. If time allows, ask volunteers to share what they’ve written.

In the World–August 4, 2019

By "In the World"

Download “In the World” for August 4 here.

A FRIENDSHIP THAT SAVED THE UNIVERSE

On July 20, Avengers: Endgame became the highest-grossing movie of all time, earning $2.7892 billion globally. The film surpassed James Cameron’s Avatar, which had topped the list (for non-inflation-adjusted films) for ten years. The Avengers movies feature a group of superhero friends who band together to fight off a parade of supervillains and their hordes. Though the heroes sometimes disagree and even fight one another, in the end, they put aside their differences for the common good.

A FRIENDSHIP THAT HONORED GOD

David and Jonathan are perhaps the best-known friends in the Bible. David had been anointed by the prophet Samuel to become Israel’s next king. Jonathan, as King Saul’s son and heir to the throne, had every reason to be jealous of David, but he was not. The hearts of the two became knitted together, and they solidified their friendship with a covenant. That covenant was tested as Saul sought to kill David. But Jonathan honored God by upholding his word to protect his friend.

  1. If you could cause one movie to be the highest-earning film of all time, which would you pick, and why?
  2. When has your friendship with someone been sorely tested? What happened?
  3. What was it about Jonathan that caused him to not be angry or threatened by David, even knowing that David’s presence meant Jonathan would never be king?

Additional Resources

www.standardlesson.com/category/in-the-world
Copyright © 2019 by Standard Publishing, part of the David C Cook family.
All rights reserved. Each download is for the use of one church only.

July 28, 2019: Spiritual Discernment (Matthew 7:1-6, 15-23)

By Teacher Tips

To begin the session:

Distribute copies of the “How Do You Rate?” activity from the activity page, which you can download here, to be completed as indicated by interaction with fellow class members.

After the activity, discuss the idea of ratings with these questions: 1–What is the value of having rating systems? 2–What are some rating systems to which you pay a great deal of attention? 3–In what contexts have you been evaluated by some sort of rating scale? 4–What makes some rating systems more valid than others?

Lead into Bible study by saying, “Rating a movie, evaluating job performance, and assessing the quality of goods are familiar to us. But how do we go about judging the godliness of another person? Jesus has invaluable words of caution on just this question.”

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

Form learners into study pairs or groups of three. Distribute copies of the “True or False?” activity from the activity page to be completed as indicated, then discuss.

After the activity, lead into the Into Life segment by saying, “Jesus does not command that we say nothing when someone we know is on the wrong path. Rather, he counsels us not to offer blanket condemnation. Instead, we first evaluate our own behavior so we can offer helpful correction without hypocrisy. We need to respond to evil wisely. Let’s see how that might look.”

In the World–July 28, 2019

By "In the World"

Download “In the World” for July 28 here.

A BLIND RAGE

This month, a man in Milwaukee didn’t like how another motorist was driving, so he pulled out a gun, fired several times into the other car, and drove away. The other car was driven by a young mother with her four children in the back, aged 1, 2, 3, and 4, out for a drive on a Saturday morning. The three-year-old girl was shot and killed. An expert on road rage says that “denial and loss of objectivity” are a contributing factor in the person who becomes enraged. “We tend to overlook our own faults and place blame on others.” No doubt this driver had serious issues before the incident, and they flared out murderously over someone else’s trifling error.

A BLIND EYE

Jesus warned us against overlooking our own serious issues and letting them flare out against other people’s trifling errors. We may have a beam- or plank-sized sin in our own lives, but what often gets our attention is the mote or speck of a sin in someone else’s life. We must maintain a healthy mindfulness of our own imperfections—or risk inflicting horrifying harm to another. An awareness of our own tendencies to sin causes us to have mercy on others and to approach their failings with humility and patience.

  1. What was an incident of road rage that impacted you or someone you know?
  2. In addition to road rage, what are other ways in which people can magnify someone else’s sin and turn a blind eye to their own faults?
  3. What’s an example of a failing in your own life that has caused you to be slow to condemn others for their failings?

Additional Resources

www.standardlesson.com/category/in-the-world
Copyright © 2019 by Standard Publishing, part of the David C Cook family.
All rights reserved. Each download is for the use of one church only.

July 21, 2019: Transforming Love (Matthew 5:38-48)

By Teacher Tips

To begin the session:

Distribute copies of the “Consequential Quote” activity from the activity page, which you can download here. Have students work to piece together a quote about vengeance, jigsaw style.

After the activity, ask, “Is it always good that someone gets what he or she deserves? Are there times when it is better if people do not get their ‘just deserts’”? Lead into Bible study by saying, “‘What goes around comes around.’ ‘You made your bed; now lie in it.’ ‘Your just deserts.’ These common expressions say that people should get what they deserve. Jesus taught something different. Let’s examine why his way works best.”

To encourage personal application:

Distribute copies of the “Persecution Map” activity from the activity page. Have class members take the map home and pray for leaders in the countries throughout the week.

In the World–July 21, 2019

By "In the World"

Download “In the World” for July 21 here.

A SHIP FOR A SHIP

British Royal Marines recently boarded and detained an Iranian oil tanker off Gibraltar on suspicion that it was breaking international sanctions by taking oil to Syria. Shortly afterward, in a case of “eye for an eye” retaliation, three Iranian paramilitary boats attempted to divert a British Petroleum supertanker into Iranian territorial waters as it passed through the Strait of Hormuz, with the likely aim of seizing the ship. A British navy destroyer deterred the Iranian vessels, but the Iranian government has promised “repercussions” for seizing their ship.

AN EYE FOR AN EYE

Jesus addressed “eye for an eye” retaliations in the Sermon on the Mount. It’s true that an equal and restrained revenge is better than escalating responses: “You take my eye, so I take your life.” But Jesus turns the whole situation upside-down, as He does so often, by telling His followers to take no revenge at all. And if the command of zero vengeance weren’t hard enough to bear, He also commands us to love and even pray for the good of those who mistreat us.

  1. In the complicated and explosive tensions of the Middle East, should “an eye for an eye” be the diplomatic strategy? If not, why not?
  2. When someone wrongs you without provocation, how naturally do you seek to love and pray for that person?
  3. Why do you think Jesus asks Christians to behave this way to those who harm us?

Additional Resources

www.standardlesson.com/category/in-the-world
Copyright © 2019 by Standard Publishing, part of the David C Cook family.
All rights reserved. Each download is for the use of one church only.

In the World–July 14, 2019

By "In the World"

Download In the World for July 14 here.

WORKING HARD TO MAINTAIN PEACE

On the world stage, some nations are strong allies and some are outright enemies. In between are nations that have to work very hard to remain civil with one another. Chinese President Xi Jinping recently traveled to North Korea to encourage their often-stubborn ally to work to decrease nuclear tensions with the United States and to improve conditions for its own people. South Korea weighed in, saying that China’s efforts helped bring stability to the Korean peninsula. All parties have to work diligently and show great restraint to prevent unthinkable outcomes.

WORKING HARD TO MAKE PEACE

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus called us to work just as hard and show just as much restraint regarding our personal conflicts. There are few things more difficult than surrendering the urge to lash out when we’ve been wronged or to make sure someone doesn’t “get away with” an offense against us. We’d much rather strike back, and sometimes we do. But Jesus told us to integrate our thoughts and prayers with our actions. If we wish to have peace with God, we have to do the hard work of making peace with the people around us, especially those whom we have offended. We don’t know how long it will be before we all stand before the Judge.

  1. What conflicts on the world stage concern you the most right now? How might the parties move toward defusing the conflict?
  2. What family members, co-workers, or acquaintances have you had to work very hard to maintain even a semblance of a relationship with? Why is it sometimes so difficult?
  3. When have you swallowed your pride or surrendered your desire to get even and instead pursued peace? When has someone made the first move to seek reconciliation with you?

Additional Resources

www.standardlesson.com/category/in-the-world
Copyright © 2019 by Standard Publishing, part of the David C Cook family.
All rights reserved. Each download is for the use of one church only.

 

July 14, 2019: Love One Another (Matthew 5:21-32)

By Teacher Tips

To begin the session:

Distribute copies of the “Crime Classification” activity from the activity page, which you can download here. Have students work in pairs to identify each of the crimes as a felony or a misdemeanor.

After the activity ask, “What are some criteria used to rate the seriousness of specific actions? Are those same criteria used decade after decade, or can the ratings change over time?” Lead into Bible study by saying, “Human systems of law and morality differentiate between major and minor infractions. But where does one draw the line? Jesus draws the line much closer to us than we might find comfortable!”

To encourage personal application:

Distribute copies of the “Dissecting the Text” activity from the activity page. Have students work in small groups to complete as indicated.

After the activity, make a transition by saying, “Attitudes of anger and lust are not harmless. Unchecked, they lead to disaster. Let’s develop strategies to monitor our thoughts.”

In the World–July 7, 2019

By "In the World"

Download “In the World” for July 7 here.

A VARIABLE LIGHT

If you go outside one night this week, you may be able to spot Saturn in the sky. On July 9th, it will be in “opposition” to us, meaning that the earth is directly between Saturn and the sun, showing the ringed planet at its brightest. In technical terms, its apparent magnitude will be as high as –0.55, which will make it brighter than all but two stars in the night sky. But as both planets continue their orbits around the sun, Saturn’s perceived luminosity will drop. At its farthest from earth, its apparent magnitude dips to +1.17 (in this scale, a higher number is less bright). Saturn’s visibility rises and falls with time.

A RELIABLE LIGHT?

Jesus called Christians the light of the world and compared us to a city set on a hill. If you’ve ever driven at night and seen a community or even just a single house on a hill, you can picture what He meant. It’s visible for miles around and functions as a reliable guide for those trying to find their way in the dark. But as individuals and as the global church, our apparent luminosity to the world can seem to dim with time. The people living in darkness need to continue seeing the great light.

  1. If you’ve ever had the opportunity to view Saturn through a telescope, what was your reaction to its appearance?
  2. What factors make the church—either worldwide or perhaps a local church—more or less reliable as a light guiding people to Jesus?
  3. What’s something a church, denomination, or ministry has done that made it a bright light for the lost?

Additional Resources

www.standardlesson.com/category/in-the-world
Copyright © 2019 by Standard Publishing, part of the David C Cook family.
All rights reserved. Each download is for the use of one church only.

July 7, 2019: Fulfilling the Law (Matthew 5:13-20)

By Teacher Tips

To begin the session:

Distribute copies of the “Big Claims, Outrageous Promises” activity from the activity page, which you can download here. Have students work in groups to unscramble brand names associated with advertising slogans.

After the activity say, “Some ads fairly represent their products. Yet many ads use words to manipulate emotions, create false images, and imply impossible promises. Jesus demanded that those who follow him be real. He taught his disciples how to live as authentic children of God.”

To encourage personal application:

Distribute copies of the “Pass the Salt, Turn on the Light” activity from the activity page. Have students evaluate their “saltiness” or “luminosity” with the metaphors found there.

June 30, 2019: Right Attitudes (Matthew 5:1-12)

By Teacher Tips

To begin the session:

Distribute copies of the “What’s in a Name?” activity from the activity page, which you can download here. Have students work to match the ironic names with their identities. Ask for a definition of the word irony. (Expected response: the use of words to express something other than and especially the opposite of the literal meaning.)

Lead into Bible study by saying, “The world’s tallest man is nicknamed Tiny. Drug abuse educators meet for a wine and cheese reception. A fitness guru has a heart attack while jogging . . . We see examples of irony daily. Jesus told his disciples that their lifestyle would seem just as contradictory to the world.”

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

Distribute copies of the “Unexpected Words” activity from the activity page. Allow no more than a minute for students to fill in the grid. Discuss why Jesus’ teaching on being blessed is countercultural.

Lead into the closing activity with these words: “It goes against common thinking to say that a person can be filled when empty, powerful when peaceful, and happy when hurting. But we have known believers who exhibit those characteristics. Let’s recognize someone who displays beatitude attitudes.”

In the World–June 30, 2019

By "In the World"

Download “In the World” for June 30 here.

UNKNOWN CAUSE OF POWER LOSS

On June 16, more than forty million people in Argentina and Uruguay woke up without electrical power. Local outages are not uncommon, but this was a massive failure of the power grid. The only part of Argentina that wasn’t without power was Tierra del Fuego, a mostly unpopulated archipelago off the southern tip of the mainland because it has its own electrical system. Not only lights but elevators, refrigerators, trains, subways, and more were without power for more than twenty-four hours. Argentina’s energy agency did not know what had caused the outage to be so widespread but speculated that it might have to do with recent storms.

UNEXPECTED SOURCE OF POWER GAIN

Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount is full of unexpected reversals, and the Beatitudes are especially surprising. In Jesus’ system, people who are low are actually lifted high by God’s power. The ones who are disrespected by the world are greatly honored by God. The ones who appear least in this world seem to be especially beloved by the Father. God’s ways are rarely our ways, and even today, it is almost unheard of to give mercy, to not seek revenge, or to value the overlooked. And yet this is what we will do to emulate the Lord and partake in His blessing and power.

  1. What’s the most serious effect you’ve ever encountered because of a power loss?
  2. Which of Jesus’ Beatitudes seems most countercultural in the world today?
  3. What do you think it means to be poor in spirit, and how can we do a better job of being this way?

Additional Resources

www.standardlesson.com/category/in-the-world
Copyright © 2019 by Standard Publishing, part of the David C Cook family.
All rights reserved. Each download is for the use of one church only.

In the World–June 23, 2019

By "In the World"

Download “In the World” for June 23, 2019 here.

PUT AWAY THE SOCIAL MEDIA AND GO DEEP

Many young people today (along with many adults) spend a surprisingly large amount of time on social media sites such as Instagram. Students often feel that if they don’t read notifications and respond right away, they will miss out on something. They see their peers showing only their best side online, and this can lead to negative self-comparisons. A recent article associates all this with drastically increased anxiety and depression in young people, to the point that one expert calls this a “mental health tsunami.” Some schools bring in comfort dogs or yoga teachers in attempts to help students put away false messages about who they are—or aren’t—and become “grounded.”

PUT AWAY THE FALSE TEACHING AND GO DEEP

The church in Colossae needed to put away false messages as well. Paul wrote because false teachers were feeding his readers misinformation that was leading to a drastic increase in anxieties and a rift in the church. These believers were trying to understand whether Jesus really had accomplished everything claimed, or whether there were secrets that Christians needed to receive (from the false teachers) in order to have the best spiritual nourishment. Paul urged them not to be deluded by this teaching but to remember that they had been firmly rooted in God and that in Christ they had been made complete.

  1. Describe a time when you received information that made you almost forget what was true about yourself—what did you do to regain your balance?
  2. How can false teaching increase anxiety in the heart of a Christian, and what can be done to remember that he or she is firmly rooted and complete in Christ?
  3. How can false teaching divide a church, and what can be done to knit hearts back together in love?

Additional Resources

www.standardlesson.com/category/in-the-world
Copyright © 2019 by Standard Publishing, part of the David C Cook family.
All rights reserved. Each download is for the use of one church only.

In the World–June 16, 2019

By "In the World"

Download “In the World” for June 16 here.

A SACRIFICE TO END HITLER’S REIGN

Last week marked the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landing in Normandy, still the largest amphibious operation in history. Around 156,000 Allied troops stormed the beaches and began fighting their way across France, with the goal of marching into Berlin and bringing down Adolf Hitler’s Nazi regime. The D-Day landing was a great victory and is considered the tipping point in World War 2, but 4,414 Allied troops gave their lives on that one day. The total casualty count for both sides (not counting civilian deaths) in the months-long campaign to liberate France and topple Berlin is estimated at 425,000. The cost of freedom is very steep indeed and is sometimes paid in blood.

A SACRIFICE TO END SIN’S REIGN

Jesus offered His own blood to pay the cost of freedom for all people. In the Jewish sacrificial system, no forgiveness was granted without the shedding of innocent blood. The High Priest would offer annual sacrifices for his own sins and for those of the people, but that ritual had to be performed every year. On the cross, Jesus served as both High Priest and blood sacrifice, providing His blood to cleanse and redeem us—not with a sacrifice that had to be repeated every year, but for all time. The cost of freedom for humanity was the death of God’s only Son.

  1. What connection, if any, do you have with D-Day or World War 2 in general? Tell about someone you know who has given his or her life in the effort to bring freedom to others.
  2. How would you, in your own words, explain the significance of Christ’s death on the cross?
  3. Last week, we commemorated the sacrifice of those who fought and died on D-Day; how can we commemorate the sacrifice that Jesus made for us?

Additional Resources

www.standardlesson.com/category/in-the-world
Copyright © 2019 by Standard Publishing, part of the David C Cook family.
All rights reserved. Each download is for the use of one church only.

June 16, 2019: The New Covenant’s Sacrifice (Hebrews 9:11-22)

By Teacher Tips

To begin the session:

Place on chairs copies of the “Day of Atonement Match” activity from the activity page, which you can download here, for learners to begin working on as they arrive. Assure your learners that they will score their own results later during class. Use this activity as a reference as you aid the class in working through the lesson.

To encourage personal application:

Distribute copies of the “Hebrew Parallelism” activity from the activity page. Have learners work in groups to construct prayer poems about Christ’s sacrifice as indicated. Have groups share their completed prayer poems. E-mail copies to learners so they can pray it in the week ahead.

June 9, 2019: Jesus Seals the New Covenant (Mark 15:6-15, 25, 26, 33-39)

By Teacher Tips

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

Have students present the reader’s theater activity titled “Various Viewpoints” from the activity page, which you can download here. Give each student a copy. Compare the various perspectives of the events that took place in the lesson text.

Follow the activity by (1) identifying those involved in the events leading up to the crucifixion and (2) comparing what their actions revealed about their character. Anticipated identity responses: those of the Jewish leadership, the Roman leader Pilate, Barabbas, the crowd, a centurion, Jesus himself. Possible character responses: a mentality of “the end justifies the means” among the Jewish leaders as well as Pilate; people in the crowd swayed by the emotion of the moment; the revealing of either fear or confession of faith in the centurion’s cry. (Note: expect some disagreement on the question of character!)

To encourage personal application:

Distribute copies of the “My Response” activity from the activity page. Allow no more than one minute to record answers. Discuss as time allows.

In the World—June 9, 2019

By "In the World"

Download “In the World” for June 9 here.

BLEW THE ROOF OFF

Recently, more than one hundred suspected tornados formed across the central and eastern United States, causing countless millions of dollars in damage and taking several lives. One Ohio man heard the tornado warning and moved to an interior hallway. Seconds later, the front room of his house was blown apart. “I was hit by debris in my head,” he said later. “I looked up and I no longer had a roof.” It took only twenty seconds to take what had been a solid barrier and make it a portal open to the sky.

TORE THE DOOR IN HALF

When Jesus hung on the cross, and for centuries before, there hung a heavy veil over the opening to the Most Holy Place in the Temple (and in the Tabernacle, before the Temple). This was a solid barrier to separate mankind from the holy presence of God. But when Jesus breathed His last and gave a great cry, that veil was supernaturally torn in half from top to bottom. Now the door between people and the Most High wasn’t opened so much as shredded, granting direct access to God. Today, the Holy Spirit lives inside Christians, and believes live in the very presence of the Lord. Jesus’ death opened the door to come to God.

  1. Have you or someone you know ever lived through a tornado (or hurricane or earthquake)? If so, tell that story.
  2. Why was the Most Holy Place in the Temple blocked off by a heavy veil?
  3. Is there any sense in which doors still stand between people and God? Explain. What doors blocking access to God might Jesus want to tear apart today?

Additional Resources

www.standardlesson.com/category/in-the-world
Copyright © 2019 by Standard Publishing, part of the David C Cook family.
All rights reserved. Each download is for the use of one church only.

May 31

By 365 Devotions

Difficult Circumstances

When the hour came, Jesus and his apostles reclined at the table (Luke 22:14).

Passage: Luke 22:14-23

Song: “Blessed Assurance”

As a minister, I often had to have difficult conversations with both congregational and community members. Issues in the judicial system, school policies, outreach opportunities, or correcting and rebuking were often necessary but never fun.

And before those conversations, I often had a knot in the pit of my stomach. Nervous energy and jumbled nerves would often precede conversations that I honestly would have rather avoided.

Jesus, in contrast, only hours before His trial and execution, sits peacefully and calmly at rest. My conversations were nowhere near the magnitude or importance of Christ’s impending activities, yet our internal states could not be more different.

The difference is where attention is put. While Jesus will shortly utter the words, “not my will but yours,” I was often focused on the worst potential outcomes. None of the dire circumstances in my mind ever came to pass, but my fear often limited my ability to be fully present in the conversation.

It is discipline and belief in God’s character that will help us to keep our focus on Him. Jesus was resolutely focused on achieving God’s will. His Spirit and power now reside in His people. When we keep our focus on Him and His work, we not only honor God, but our very lives become His platform to draw other people close to Him as well.

Heavenly Father, thank You for Your work through me when I turn to You in difficult circumstances. In Christ’s name, amen.

May 30

By 365 Devotions

Knowing God

No longer will they teach their neighbor, or say to one another, “Know the Lord,” because they will all know me (Jeremiah 31:34).

Scripture: Jeremiah 31:31-34

Song: “One Thing”

I love teaching in both private Christian colleges and public institutions. Teaching Christians is a chance to sharpen and refine people in the church for ministry. Teaching at public institutions is a chance to share faith and life with those seeking for truth. I open classes by telling the students that I love teaching because even if they don’t realize it, they are searching for answers.

In all of my years of teaching, I’ve never been wrong about that. Even the most adamant atheists end up intrigued and asking questions. There is something deep within us that longs to know and connect with truth. It’s the part of us that is made in the image of God. We revel in perfect peace and truth.

What is exciting as a teacher is the promise of this passage. In short, that one day I will be out of a job. The day is coming when everyone will know God. His promises never fail. His truth is never left untold. His hope is never extinguished. His sovereignty never ends.

A day of perfect paradise is coming, where all who know the Lord will dwell together in the truth and knowledge of what the Lord has done. We will not need to hear stories of His promises and faithfulness because we will all know Him intimately.

Holy God, thank You for always keeping Your promises and teaching me Your ways. In Christ, amen.

June 2, 2019: Jesus Institutes the New Covenant (Mark 14:17-25; Hebrews 8:6, 7, 10-12)

By Teacher Tips

To begin the session:

Place copies of “A Jewish Holiday” activity from the activity page, which you can download here, in students’ chairs before they arrive. Have students work individually to match the list of Jewish traditions to the list of Jewish holidays with which they belong. After a minute, have students share their answers with the class, including their knowledge of the significance of the holidays or traditions listed.

After the activity, lead into the Bible study by saying, “The Israelites themselves had greatly revered commemorations. But there was one in particular that Jesus took time to teach his disciples a new way to celebrate. To fully understand this new celebration, we must first look at the Passover feast as originally instituted.”

To encourage personal application:

Distribute the “The Lord’s Supper” activity from the activity page. Have students take one minute to reflect individually on how the elements of the Lord’s Supper are significant. Then ask for volunteers to share their thoughts.

 

In the World–June 2, 2019

By "In the World"

Download “In the World” for June 2 here.

A (PROBABLY) TRUSTWORTHY COVENANT

A recent survey found Amazon.com to be the second most trusted institution in the United States (behind only the military). Americans believe in an unspoken agreement that Amazon is trustworthy and will treat them fairly. Some people—including some Amazon shareholders—believe the company is in danger of violating that unwritten covenant by selling its proprietary face recognition technology to governments or law enforcement. Some are concerned that this would be a violation of confidentiality and privacy that could lead to bias against certain categories of shopper.

A (COMPLETELY) SUPERIOR COVENANT

When Jesus instituted the New Covenant, He made an agreement between God and man that is built on “better promises” (Hebrews 8:6) than the Old Covenant was. The bread and cup of Communion are symbols of God’s trustworthiness and reminders of the superior covenant He entered into with those who will receive it. In this week’s lesson, we will understand the meaning of the New Covenant and how it impacts our lives.

  1. In the information age, when big companies like Amazon, Facebook, and Google are watching our behaviors and even our facial expressions, how can we be sure we can trust what they’re doing?
  2. What are some examples of tokens or symbols of good faith that people have used to increase trust that a contract or agreement will be upheld? (Example: Earnest money payment.)
  3. Do you have a covenant or agreement you have made with God? If so, describe it.

Additional Resources

www.standardlesson.com/category/in-the-world
Copyright © 2019 by Standard Publishing, part of the David C Cook family.
All rights reserved. Each download is for the use of one church only.

May 29

By 365 Devotions

In Plain Sight

The disciples left, went into the city and found things just as Jesus had told them (Mark 14:16).

Scripture: Mark 14:12-16

Song: “Standing on the Promises”

“Dad, I can’t find my shoes.” That’s a common phrase in our house. I’ll then explain that I put them in their proper place, or where I saw them. For example, I might say, “I put them at the end of your

bed last night.”

Ten seconds later I’ll hear a shout from the bedroom. “I’ve looked, I can’t see them anywhere.”

I’ll walk into the room, explain where they are and show them that they are where I said they’d be.

We all know that frustration of looking for something and not finding it, and it’s usually because it wasn’t exactly how we expected it to be.

The disciples were told to go and prepare the Passover and Mark tells us that everything happened just as it was told to them. What they expected and what they experienced were in agreement.

Our struggles in life can come in many forms. One of them is when our expectation and our experiences differ. What’s encouraging in this passage is not primarily the notion that expectations and experiences lined up for the disciples. It’s that God’s plan was fulfilled. His promises were kept.

The same is true for us, whether expectation meets reality or not. In the midst of it all, through all of life’s circumstances and difficulties, there remains a God so ever-present and faithful that His word and His truth will always be accomplished.

Heavenly Father, thank You for Your faithfulness and presence in the hard times of life. In Christ’s name, amen.

May 28

By 365 Devotions

Generosity and Mission

“The Lord needs it and will send it back here shortly” (Mark 11:3).

Scripture: Mark 11:1-10

Song: “All That I Am”

As a father, I’ve heard every variation of the phrase, “That’s not fair!” It usually revolves around the need to share a toy, electronic device, or snack. There is something built into human nature that makes us inclined to protect personal property.

What’s remarkable about today’s passage is the complete lack of selfishness from the owners of the donkey. They were so open to what God was doing that with a simple statement, “The Lord needs it” was enough to release their possession without question.

Our abundant generosity for God’s mission can be hard. It requires us to release our time, money, and personal possessions. We might be tempted to withhold something or not offer the best of what we have. Yet God’s call into mission is a chance for us to look beyond ourselves and toward something bigger.

The generosity from the owners of a donkey was much more than one small gift. It was the fulfillment of prophecy and an integral part of the confirmation of Jesus as God’s Messiah. The display of generosity is recorded, recited, and remembered every time this story is read.

The same is true of our generosity in mission. Those lowly donkey owners may not have been able to fully comprehend what they were participating in. We may not ever fully know either, yet in God’s economy our generosity is matched and outdone by God’s. One simple act of obedience from His people is exponentially used and blessed by God.

God, thank You for the chance to give generously to Your mission. In Jesus’ name, amen.

May 27

By 365 Devotions

Remembering Suffering

Do not eat it with bread made with yeast, but for seven days eat unleavened bread, the bread of affliction (Deuteronomy 16:3).

Scripture: Deuteronomy 16:1-8

Song: “Never Once”

Our medicine cabinet is over-full. Headaches, sprains, strains, cuts, and bruises; if there is something that ails our family, we have the treatment. Pain, it seems, is an unfortunate side effect of life.

Yet this passage teaches the Hebrew people to eat the bread of affliction as a marker for time and eventual freedom. For the Israelites, there is something to be remembered in pain. Suffering is often a big area of growth. It is through pain that we learn to adapt, grow, and change.

My journal has a section titled, “Hurtful Experiences.” These are significant moments in life like betrayal by a close friend or an unfair character assault. I keep this list for two reasons. One, it reminds to pray for those who hurt or offend me. Two, I look back on a past experience and realize God’s grace. Below each of these experiences, I keep blank space to write lessons learned, spiritual insights, and prayers. Each of these “bread of affliction moments” has reminded me of a time of suffering, and of God›s grace and provision in the midst of trial. Several times a year, I revisit this list. I eat “bread of affliction” to remind me not only of these seasons of growth but of God’s continual provision along the way.

Thank You, God, for providing comfort in difficult circumstances. In Jesus’ name, amen.

May 27–31. Justin Hiebert is a Life Coach who helps pastors and leaders stay holistically healthy and avoid burnout to lead effectively.

May 26

By 365 Devotions

Birthday Cards

We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us (Romans 12:6).

Scripture: Romans 12:1-8

Song: “The Gifts of the Holy Spirit”

The silver-haired woman lays out her birthday cards and copies old hymns and then writes a special message in each card. She does this for everyone in the church. And yes, if you move away, she still sends you a specially crafted birthday card. I look forward to mine every year, even though we moved away eight years ago! She has the gift of exhortation, or commonly known as encouragement. She has embraced her gift and served well with it.

God designed each of us specifically for a purpose and has equipped us with spiritual gifts to fulfill a specific purpose in His body, the church. Each of us has a part that God has ordained for us (1 Corinthians 12:12, 18). It is important that we recognize and do our part. Whether you are gifted with encouragement, teaching, prophecy, serving, or one of the many other gifts you will be blessed, and also bless others by using the gifts God has given you. So it comes down to a choice we make. We can choose to leave those gifts dormant and leave so much potential untouched. Or we can embrace the gifts given us and build up the body of Christ.

Choose to build.

Dear Lord, thank You for the spiritual gifts You have given me. Help me to recognize them and to embrace them so I take my part in the body and bless others. In Your name, amen.

May 25

By 365 Devotions

Not Taking Revenge

Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath (Romans 12:17-19).

Scripture: Romans 12:16-21

Song: “Here I am Lord”

My daughter, Abby, was molested by a boy in kindergarten. Later, in her middle school years, Abby was frightened when he showed up at church and in her class. We talked with Abby about how to respond and today’s Scripture became helpful. Abby chose to “leave room for God” and put the situation in His hands by leaving the class in order to became a volunteer helper teaching the younger elementary school students.

Avoiding revenge and stepping away can open up space for God to work in the evildoer’s heart. Doing the uncommon—not responding in vengeance and offering kindness—will “heap burning coals” on the head of the guilty. Those burning coals are not meant for vengeance but rather to light the fire of Christ into the person’s heart.

Not taking revenge can be hard. Releasing our anger and hunger for revenge to God is a good way to move toward loving the people we might think are difficult to love. Yet they are some of the very ones that God asks us to love.

Dear Lord, thank You for understanding the pain I feel from those who have caused me pain. Please help me release my anger and suffering to You so that I may be free to love my enemies so that they can see Your love in me. In Jesus’ name, amen.

May 24

By 365 Devotions

Devoted Ones

Be devoted to one another in love (Romans 12:10).

Scripture: Romans 12:9-15

Song: “Brother”

I am bipolar. I also have borderline personality disorder, PTSD, anxiety, and major depressive disorder. It’s a heavy burden to carry. Sometimes I have to stay in a short term mental health facility to get my medicine adjusted. These times are very hard on my family. But my family and I do not bear these burdens alone. After a couple years of reaching out and forming intimate relationships in our church family, and especially through Celebrate Recovery we have found people who are devoted to us in love. These are people who have driven me to the hospital, picked me up, watched my children, stayed with me in the emergency room, provided dinner for my family while I was away, paid a car payment, and folded

laundry. These are demonstrations of devotion in love.

The book of Acts does not specifically use the word “love.” But the stories of believers in action most certainly shows love. Jesus changed Paul and showed him how to live devoted in love by proclaiming the truth of the gospel. Believers, the church, were devoted to each other in love each day. “All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had” (Acts 4:32).

Today, seek to be devoted to someone in love. Certainly there are people around you to love.

Lord, thank You for the love the church has given me. Please, help me be more devoted to those around me in love. In Your name, amen.

May 23

By 365 Devotions

Deliverance

I sought the Lord, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears (Psalm 34:4).

Scripture: Psalm 34:1-14

Song: “No Longer Slaves”

Thump.Thump. My heart feels heavy. My body is ablaze with a fiery burn and I tingle from head to toe. My stomach is in knots. My breathing is difficult and labored. I feel like I am dying but I am not. It’s a panic attack from fear.

Even the strongest among us will likely face fear at some point. David certainly had many fearful occasions. When lions and bears would come and carry away sheep David confronted his fear and went into action to rescue the sheep (1 Samuel 17:34-37). The same was evident when all the army of Israel feared Goliath but David trusted God to deliver him. David went against his foe in the name the Lord with full confidence that God was with him and would give him skill and strength for victory (1 Samuel 30:6). David trusted God to rescue him from danger and put his faith into action as he moved into position to engage and to overcome the foe in the Lord’s name.

God never failed David. He never fails those who seek Him as the stronghold of their lives, even in the face of fear. Only by seeking God do we become ready to receive His strength and become ready to move forward in the assurance of His presence with us. This is how we can stand against the enemy of our souls without fear.

Father, thank You for Your constant presence with me and almighty strength to deliver me from fear. In Jesus’ name, amen.

May 22

By 365 Devotions

Ungrateful to Grateful

He is kind to the ungrateful and wicked (Luke 6:35).

Scripture: Luke 6:27-36

Song: “Give Thanks with a Grateful Heart”

A man lost three of his children in a fire. And a few years after that he lost his last child in a drive by shooting. He became angry and directed it all at God. By focusing on all he had lost and not on what he still had he became ungrateful and turned away from God. But even from all this rejection God didn’t stop loving him and still loves this man.

God never fails to show His mercy and kindness to everyone— those who are ungrateful, just as He does for those who are grateful. It’s actually very simple because it’s not about who we are—whether we are grateful or ungrateful, angry or not. It is about who God is and what He does—loves us even when we do not love Him (1 John 4:9, 19). God takes the initiative. He is the one who does not change. He simply keeps on showing us His loving kindness.

But we must look for His kindness even though an ungrateful heart can obstruct our vision. But praise God that His kindness  is big enough to always be seen. It comes to us each day in ways that might be new for that day and then also more common, such as another sunrise, breath, and daily provision. So be willing to receive God’s kindness. And as we do ungrateful hearts can become grateful.

Lord, thank You for Your mercy and kindness despite myself. In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.

May 26, 2019: Called to Be Transformed (Romans 12:1-8)

By Teacher Tips

To begin the session:

As learners arrive, have an array of items laid out on one or more tables: such as a shoe with shoelaces, a keyboard (for typing), a musical instrument, a blender or mixer, empty plastic containers with lids or caps, etc.

Instruct learners to tie the laces, type on the keyboard, play the instrument, operate the blender, take off the caps or lids, etc., using anything except their hands.

Say, “Life just works better when the right body parts are doing the things they’re designed to do—and when the other body parts stick to what they’re designed to do! Let’s see what Paul says about that in Romans.”

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

Download the handout “One Body, Many Parts” here. Have the class work in groups of 4–6 to complete the sheet.

Give the class twenty minutes to complete the sheet. Then reconvene and discuss their answers, especially the funny examples.

Say, “Why do we sometimes want the more ‘significant’ or ‘flashy’ roles and gifts in the church? How might we operate instead not as the world does but as if we were servants dedicated to the Lord as living sacrifices?”

May 21

By 365 Devotions

Dishwashing Soap

Love is kind (1 Corinthians 13:4).

Scripture: 1 Corinthians 13

Song: “Love Never Fails”

My daughter, Abby, was “cleaning” the kitchen floor with dishwashing soap. I stepped in to clean up her soapy, sudsy mess but my son crawled into the room. I felt angry about it all but remembered I could also choose loving kindness. There on my hands and knees in the mess I thanked Abby for her help but explained to her that I need her to ask for help washing the kitchen floor. Then, I sat her and her brother at the table with a snack while I sopped up the sudsy mess.

We always have choices about our feelings and words. Jesus shows us how to choose kindness in His interactions with a paralyzed man (Luke 5:18-25), an adulterous woman (John 8:1-11), and a thief (Luke 23:39-43). Jesus shows us loving kindness to people who made a mess of their lives because of their sin. Jesus reached down into their pit and gave each of them kindness that we might think they deserved the least. God redeems the messiest, most scarred among us. In His kindness, He loves us.

With that same love, Jesus calls us to reach out to the hurting, the sick, the sin stained—in their messes. We don’t wait for them to clean up their act. He wants us down on our knees in the middle of their mess to show and speak God’s love and kindness to save us from the mess we all can make of our lives.

Lord, Thank You for Your kindness to me. Please help me to love through kindness today. In Your name, amen.

In the World–May 26, 2019

By "In the World"

Download “In the World” for May 26 here.

DYING SACRIFICIALLY

On May 7, two students armed with guns entered a school in Highlands Ranch, Colorado. This could have been another school massacre. However, three students, who were willing to sacrifice their lives, tackled and disarmed the shooters. One of the heroic students, Kendrick Castillo, was killed while helping to stop the assailants. Brendan Bialy and a third student joined Castillo in subduing the attackers. All three were hailed as heroes for putting themselves at risk in order to save others. Bialy is in a Marine Corps training program. He put into action what his recruiter had taught him: Put service before self.

LIVING SACRIFICIALLY

Self-centeredness is not a Christian virtue. While some may be called to make the ultimate sacrifice in their service to others, all Christians are called to sacrifice themselves in other ways. In today’s passage, the apostle Paul teaches that we are to live as sacrifices offered to God (Romans 12:1). We are called to put service to God and others before self. Whatever gifts we have, whether showing leadership in the face of evil or encouraging others or extending mercy, Paul says that using our gifts to benefit others is one of the ways we worship God.

  1. What causes some people to act heroically when others do not?
  2. How is it worshipping God if we live sacrificially in the ways the text mentions?
  3. Share some examples of people who lived sacrificially by using their spiritual gifts to serve God and others.

—Charles R. Boatman

www.standardlesson.com/category/in-the-world
Copyright © 2019 by Standard Publishing, part of the David C Cook family.
All rights reserved. Each download is for the use of one church only.

May 20

By 365 Devotions

Cracked Switch Plates

Do not be wise in your own eyes (Proverbs 3:7).

Scripture: Proverbs 3:1-12

Song: “Be Thou My Vision”

My eight year old son, Eli, loves to help. He saw some loose screws that hold the cover plates over light switches in the house and decided to use my husband’s screwdriver to tighten. In his little eyes, he was helping. But eight year old wisdom on how tight those little screws should be for the plastic cover plates does not always meet reality. Now we have a house full of cracked switch plates.

Just as Eli needed to ask for some guidance and wisdom, God says to ask Him for wisdom. He promises to give when we ask. He says, “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you” (James 1:5).

It comes down to two choices. The wisdom of man or the wisdom of God. Without God, the Bible calls us “fools” and “mockers” (Proverbs 1:7 and Proverbs 13:1). However, God’s wisdom is a treasure that “is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere” (James 3:17).

Where will you look for wisdom today?

Heavenly Father, thank You for giving me Your wisdom when I ask for it. Please help me to use Your discernment wisely and consistently in my daily walk. In Jesus’ name, amen.

May 20–26. Susan Burkepile and her husband have four beautiful children, ranging in ages 6-13.

May 19

By 365 Devotions

Accepted Back

How much more readily will these, the natural branches, be grafted into their own olive tree (Romans 11:24).

Scripture: Romans 11:11-24

Song: “Lord, I’m Coming Home”

Carol drifted away from the Lord for over six years while away from home and at college. She chose this route for herself even though she was raised in an active church-going Christian family. Her parents remained active in the church and were so glad to see her home again. But her parents were also saddened that Carol had rejected God and the faith she had adopted as a child.

Carol’s family pleaded with her to reconsider God and return to faith, but she continued to decline. They prayed for her every day, asking God to speak the truth and change her mind and heart. The Holy Spirit began to work in her heart. After several months, she decided to go to church. There, God spoke to her heart and convicted her of her lack of faith and her need to repent of her rejection and return to Him. She responded, experienced God’s grace, and was gladly accepted back.

If you have never responded to God’s offer of salvation or even rejected His previous offers of His gift of grace, then know that God can graft you back into the family of God.

He can cause you to grow in your faith and become a productive disciple for Christ. God has never turned His back on you and you can be assured that He will not do it now.

Gracious Heavenly Father, thank You for Your grace that persists for me and for all who will respond to You in faith. In Jesus’ name, amen.

May 18

By 365 Devotions

An Irrevocable Call

God’s gifts and his call are irrevocable (Romans 11:29).

Scripture: Romans 11:25-36

Song: “Where He Leads Me”

People in Mike’s church were very familiar with his volunteer carpentry work in the community. He had been sharing with his minister about his interest for using his skills in foreign countries. When the minister stopped him in the hall one Sunday morning, he asked Mike to come by and discuss an idea he had in mind. Mike quickly accepted.

The idea was about helping a church in a storm ravaged area  of Haiti that wanted to reach out to their community by repairing buildings. Because of Mike’s carpentry trade, his previous volunteer work, and his growing interest in going to a foreign country on a mission trip it seemed he might be a terrific fit for this ministry opportunity in Haiti. But Mike was somewhat apprehensive as he was concerned about his welfare. He asked, “Is it safe there?”

We might be uncertain about how to respond to God’s call on our lives because of many reasons, including health. But God remains consistent and faithful to His call upon us and He equips us for the work. He calls and equips us through His Holy Spirit. We can learn God’s call and even the source of any apprehension by going to Him in open and honest prayer. Seek God today for where He is calling, and how He is equipping you.

Loving Father, thank You for calling me into Your family. Now please help me hear and respond to Your call upon me. Please give me strength and courage for the work You are setting before me. In Jesus’ name, amen.

May 17

By 365 Devotions

Powerful Grace

And if by grace, then it cannot be based on works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace (Romans 11:6).

Scripture: Romans 11:1-10

Song: “Grace Greater than Our Sin”

A close friend stopped by my office one day and began to share from his heart that he felt he was failing God as a believer. He had been striving to become a better Sunday school teacher and he began to feel as though he was not doing an adequate job. He admitted that he had some areas in his life that needed cleaning up and felt that God was starting to reject him for that.

I reminded my friend that God began a work in him the day he gave his life to Christ. And God promised He would never leave him nor forsake him. I reminded him also that it was by God’s grace that he was saved and not of his works. Had he depended upon his works for his salvation, then grace would not be grace. This is the clear and powerful truth of God’s grace that the apostle Paul conveys to us in today’s passage.

When we confess our sin then God forgives. He is faithful to cleanse us from unrighteous acts (1 John 1:9). This is God’s grace at work. It is not about our efforts to perform to any standard. God’s grace is powerful and He is at work in us toward His purposes (Philippians 2:13). He has not given up on us and He will keep His promises to us.

Gracious Heavenly Father, help me this day to know that You are faithful to me and that You keep Your promises. In Jesus’ name, amen.

May 16

By 365 Devotions

Opportunity Accepted

You know how I lived the whole time I was with you, from the first day I came into the province of Asia. I served the Lord with great humility and with tears and in the midst of severe testing by the plots of my Jewish opponents (Acts 20:18, 19).

Scripture: Acts 20:17-24, 32

Song: “Blessed Assurance, Jesus is Mine”

David so loved the Lord that he gave his heart and life to Him. At that time he committed, “My mission to You Lord is to go wherever You lead me.” Little did David know at that initial point in his life with God that he would witness to men and women in some of the most wicked places on the earth. He faced rejection after rejection as he traveled the globe witnessing for Jesus. But David never gave up and kept sharing the love of Jesus on the streets with much humility. David served in humility out of his love for the Lord. He learned this through Scripture’s account the apostle Paul and his ministry to the Ephesian church in spite of opposition. Paul faced opposition from the Jews; David faced opposition from unbelievers in his path.

In serving the Lord, it is wonderful to know that even in times of adversity, the Lord remains faithful to us. His faithfulness always exceeds any opposition we face. Allow the Holy Spirit to lead and minister to you.

Heavenly Father, I pray that as I witness to my community, and face the opposition of non-believers, that the Holy Spirit will lead me and draw the hearts of people to accept the gift of salvation. I pray this in Jesus’ name, amen.

May 15

By 365 Devotions

I Am Praying for You

I want you to know how hard I am contending for you   and for those at Laodicea, and for all who have not met me personally (Colossians 2:1).

Scripture:  Colossians 2:1-10

Song: “What a Friend We Have in Jesus”

Judy opened a card in her mail from the prayer ministry of the church she regularly attended and was overtaken with joy to read that someone was praying for her. Tears of happiness trickled down her cheek even though she did not know the person who signed the card but still expressed how happy and honored she was to  lift up Judy to Jesus. And then in addition, this prayer warrior was simply pleased to also encourage Judy by writing. Judy felt blessed through a double, tandem ministry.

The importance of what Paul comes through clearly to us through today’s passage and also his instruction to Timothy to pray for others (see 1 Timothy 2:1). Both are instruction to us to pray for others, and even those we may not know personally. This is a ministry we can take up ourselves. We don’t need to wait for others to get it started. We can do this from our own homes without an organized ministry within our churches. Of course, we could also organize such a ministry in our churches. Either way, we can pray for people we know and people we don’t now but are certainly our neighbors.

Heavenly Father, thank You for knowing the needs of the people on my heart and mind, and even the ones I do not know personally. Please make Your presence and love known to them. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

May 19: Called to Mutual Acceptance (Romans 11:11-24)

By Teacher Tips

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

Download the handout “Fall and Rise” here. Divide the class into two groups: the Verses 11-16 Group and the Verses 17-24 Group. Have each group work on the appropriate half of the handout.

Give the class twenty minutes to complete the sheet. Then reconvene and have a spokesperson from the Verses 11-16 Group read aloud the questions and that group’s answers. Next, have a spokesperson from the Verses 17-24 Group do the same with their answers.

Together, discuss the flow of the passage and the insights the learners have gained in terms of the writer’s original intent.

To encourage personal application:

As you think about how much energy is exerted in our culture today to exalt one group of people over another—or over all others—how can you apply today’s lesson to it? What group has in the past exalted (or is now exalting) themselves over you or those you care about? What person or group have you exalted (or are you exalting) yourself over? Based on today’s passage, what should our attitude be toward those people?

Pick a person or group you have sometimes been tempted to feel superior to, if any, and make it a matter of prayer this week to think about that person or group. Remember that it is by our faith in Christ that any of us stands, and that it is by thinking we’re superior that any of us can fall.

In the World–May 19, 2019

By "In the World"

Download “In the World” for May 19 here.

“BETTER” PEOPLE?

Fifty celebrities, coaches, and other individuals have been charged in a college admissions scandal in recent weeks. This week, actress Felicity Huffman, one of the best known among the accused, pleaded guilty to a charge of fraud in paying $15,000 for someone to cheat on her daughter’s SAT test, thus giving the daughter a better chance to get accepted at an elite university. Another parent pleaded guilty to the same charge, admitting he had agreed to pay $250,000 to get his son a water polo athletic scholarship at the University of Southern California, even though the son doesn’t play the sport. Apparently, these people wanted to have their children (and themselves) seen as better than they were.

“BETTER” CHRISTIANS?

It seems to be a universal principle that people wish to be seen as better than they really are—and better than others around them. Sometimes, we think we are justified in looking down on entire people groups. The apostle Paul alludes to such a situation in the early church. Some Gentile Christians apparently thought they were better than Jews (even Jewish Christians) because Israel had, as a people, rejected Christ while many Gentiles had been open to the gospel.

  1. How does the college admissions scandal illustrate the evil of human pride?
  2. Have you ever been tempted to think you were better than others, including other Christians? On what basis? How did you overcome the temptation?
  3. How does the Christian view of people contrast with the world’s view?

—Charles R. Boatman

www.standardlesson.com/category/in-the-world
Copyright © 2019 by Standard Publishing, part of the David C Cook family.
All rights reserved. Each download is for the use of one church only.

May 14

By 365 Devotions

The Spirit Empowers the Word

The word of the Lord spread through the whole region (Acts 13:49).

Scripture: Acts 13:44-49

Song: “Holy Spirit, Breathe on Me”

The church came to life because of the power of the Holy Spirit upon the congregation following a great revival meeting. People gathered to hear God’s Word proclaimed. Many made decisions to accept Christ. The church grew and was called back to the basics of discipleship. It was obvious that the Holy Spirit was working. What a mighty God we serve!

After being revived by God’s Spirit, the church began to grow and become a lighthouse for the community with a strong outreach program. Through increased focus on and appreciation for the Word of the Lord many people became disciples on the mission for Christ. The church was encouraged by the preaching and teaching of God’s Word.

The words of Scripture will certainly bless our hearts and lift us up when we pray for God’s Spirit to fall fresh on us and to enlighten us with the truth of the Word. Seek His Spirit right now, wait upon God and feel His hand upon you. Focus your mind to meditate on His Word and seek His presence while stepping into a closer walk with Jesus. Just ask Him to lead you. He promises He will.

Heavenly Father, it is so awesome to see Your Spirit working in the life of Your church and watching as it reaches out to the community. How wonderful is Your Word when the Holy Spirit is allowed to touch lives and lift up the body of Christ. Thank You for sending Your Spirit! In Jesus’ name. Amen!

May 13

By 365 Devotions

Promises Come True

For not all who are descended from Israel are Israel. Nor because they are his descendants are they all Abraham’s children (Romans 9:6, 7).

Scripture: Romans 9:1-18

Song: “Jesus Saves”

While witnessing to a man around 40 years old who appeared depressed, I asked him if he knew that Jesus loved him. He replied that he doubted that Jesus loved him. Having attended church as a child with his parents, he ventured away from the church when he reached adulthood. He said he tried church, but it didn’t do anything for him. He had heard Jesus’ promises many times.

Many people think God makes all these promises, but they don’t always come true for everyone who attends church. Oftentimes we may feel uncomfortable with our church membership and God seems distant from us. We see others accept Christ, but it just doesn’t happen for us. Although our family is active in church, we don’t feel drawn to Him.

It is not who we are or where we come from, or even who our family is that saves us. But if we will place our trust in Him and accept His promise, Jesus will save us. The apostle Paul was very explicit that it is not our blood-line that saves us.

Heavenly Father, help me to put my faith and trust in You today. In Jesus’ name, amen.

May 13–19. Bob Lankford worked over 20 years in management prior to entering ministry. Now retired, he enjoys teaching Sunday school, Bible study and research, and officiating at weddings. He and his wife of 48 years, have two children and six grandchildren.

May 12

By 365 Devotions

A Faithful Guide

For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if  by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live. For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God (Romans 8:13, 14).

Scripture: Romans 8:1-14

Song: “Come Holy Spirit, I Need You”

In 2017, Southern California experienced a disastrous string of wildfires. While heroically battling blazes and trying to preserve life, first responders identified a new problem. Commuters, using smartphone applications (apps) programmed to search for lighter traffic, kept driving toward the destruction. Technology, while extremely helpful in many ways, does not offer perfect guidance. In contrast, the Holy Spirit dwelling inside believers is always a trustworthy guide—and oh, how we need Him!

Jesus’ death on the cross set believers free from the penalty of sin and death. Yet, we still reside in bodies of flesh this side of Heaven. Our flesh is hostile to godly living. Thank God for His Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit knows the will and ways of God. He helps us “put to death the misdeeds of the body” (v. 13) so we can live in ways that please God. The Holy Spirit doesn’t leave us after conversion. He stays and guides us away from paths of destruction, so we can lead lives of blessing and peace.

Don’t be discouraged if your flesh seems to be winning at times. The Holy Spirit is a faithful guide. Let Him lead. “For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God” (v. 14).

Father, help me be sensitive to the leading of Your Holy Spirit so I share Your love faithfully with others. In Jesus’ name, amen.

May 11

By 365 Devotions

Image of the Son

For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn of many brothers and sisters. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified (Romans 8:29, 30).

Scripture: Romans 8:26-30

Song: “Breathe on Me, Breath of God”

It was common in the 1990s to see people wearing WWJD (What Would Jesus Do?) bracelets. They were meant to remind believers to consider how Jesus might behave before making decisions. The bracelets represented an admirable endeavor. We certainly are to imitate Christ. However, it might be more fitting to remind ourselves of God’s role in conforming us to the image of Christ.

God predestined us to be conformed to the image of His Son knowing we can’t simply “will” ourselves to be like Christ. That’s why He helps us in our weaknesses. He takes every circumstance and uses it for the good of those He called for His purpose. His Spirit even intercedes for us when we don’t know how to pray.

Verses such as, “The Spirit helps us in our weaknesses” (v. 26) won’t fit as easily onto pieces of jewelry as WWJD. However, God’s Word can fit on our hearts. Depend on God to help you live according to His will.

Father, thank You for Your work in my life that changes me and equips me do what you’ve called me to do as a part of Your forever family. In Jesus’ name, amen.

May 10

By 365 Devotions

Hopeful Waiting

For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it (Romans 8:20).

Scripture: Romans 8:18-25

Song: “All of Creation”

In Spanish, the verb esperar can mean either “to wait” or “to hope.” Today’s passage affirms that hope and waiting are bound together for believers and creation alike.

Human beings aren’t alone in longing for freedom from the effects of the fall of mankind. Scripture states that creation “groans” while awaiting its own final redemption. However, along with groans of longing, creation maintains a posture of waiting with “eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed” (v. 19).

The Bible doesn’t deny the reality of suffering in a fallen world. We feel real pain and must endure loss. However, because God subjected the world to decay for His good purpose, we have reasons to maintain hope. Remember that the world’s fallen state is temporary. God, in His wisdom and sovereignty, subjected the world to decay as part of a redemptive plan. Our present suffering, as difficult as it is now, will pale in comparison to the “glory that will be revealed in us” (v. 18). God’s plan also includes purposeful living while we are waiting. We are here for a reason and our lives and actions are meaningful both

now and in eternity.

Hope doesn’t deny reality. It recognizes the beauty of a future reality. Let faith in an all loving and faithful God encourage your heart and hope.

Father, help me to remember that You are a God of hope. Help me to trust Your perfect timing and to live faithfully while I’m waiting. In Christ’s name, amen.

May 9

By 365 Devotions

Seeing Others Through God’s Eyes

So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! (2 Corinthians 5:16, 17).

Scripture: 2 Corinthians 5:16-21

Song: “Give Me Your Eyes”

Years ago, I bonded with a stranger while waiting for an airport shuttle. She was reading a book by a well-known Christian author and I initiated a conversation about it. It didn’t matter that we were of different races and age brackets. We recognized our familial relationship in Christ. A brief, sweet time of fellowship followed. After a parting hug, I thought about how faith in God affects how we see others.

Our passage today, and especially verse 16 reminds us that we are to “regard no one from a worldly point of view.” A worldly point of view measures a person’s value by perceived attractiveness or usefulness to society. In God’s economy, the least is often greatest, and the greatest is often the least. Enemies are loved and forgiven. All people are regarded as God’s image bearers with intrinsic value as His created beings. Any person you meet is a potential family member and a new creation in Christ. Moreover, we are to be ready and willing to deliver the message of reconciliation entrusted to us by the God who saves.

Is there someone in your life who needs a new look from you?

Lord, help me to be a faithful witness who sees others through Your eyes. In Jesus’ name, amen.

May 8

By 365 Devotions

Risen Savior, Fruitful Faith

But Christ indeed has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since  death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man (1 Corinthians 15:20, 21).

Scripture: 1 Corinthians 15:12-28

Song: “My Redeemer Lives”

The first emperor of China, Qin Shi Huang, was buried with thousands of terracotta soldiers. He thought he needed them for protection in the afterlife. People from all cultures have an intuitive sense that there is life after death. As incredible as it seems, some in the early church denied the resurrection of the dead. In today’s passage, the apostle Paul admonishes believers to remember that a Christian’s hope is in a risen Savior.

Paul understood that the gospel isn’t the gospel without Jesus’ sacrificial death, burial, and resurrection. Paul’s rock-solid faith in the reality of Christ’s resurrection wasn’t just wishful thinking. His faith was informed by a personal encounter with the risen Lord on the road to Damascus. After describing the futility and hopelessness of faith without a resurrected Christ, Paul proclaims the joyous truth, “But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep” (v. 20).

Let the internal witness of the Holy Spirit remind you that because your Redeemer lives, so will you.

Father, thank You for raising Jesus from the dead to fulfill Your promise in the Scriptures. Now that I have received full Your assurance that You will raise me to life with You in glory, please help me to share the good news of the risen Savior with others. In my Savior’s name I pray, amen.

In the World–May 12, 2019

By "In the World"

Download “In the World” for May 12 here.

DISQUALIFIED

A racehorse named Maximum Security led this year’s Kentucky Derby from beginning to end. However, the horse was charged with pushing War of Will out of its lane, causing it to bump into Country House. Country House showed great spirit, recovering from the incident to finish second. Although Maximum Security’s rule violation may have been unintentional, officials disqualified the horse on the basis that it could have injured several horses and their jockeys. As a result, Country House, a 65-to-1 underdog, was awarded the win.

WINNING GOD’S WAY

Many people who are considered winners by the world trust in their natural abilities to succeed. But when the competition is fierce, they sometimes bump aside others who get in the way. Other people who are disdained by the world as losers live by the Spirit, trusting God to bring the victory, and persevere through the bumps of life. The apostle Paul assures us that such people can recover from life’s blows to win the prize at the end of the race.

  1. Tell of someone you know who surmounted obstacles placed in their path (perhaps by their flesh or the devil) and found victory in the life of faith.
  2. What can we do to ensure that we don’t “bump” someone else and cause them to stumble?
  3. How can we be sure that we are being led by God’s Spirit and not by our flesh?

—Charles R. Boatman

www.standardlesson.com/category/in-the-world
Copyright © 2019 by Standard Publishing, part of the David C Cook family.
All rights reserved. Each download is for the use of one church only.

May 7

By 365 Devotions

God’s Heirs

God sent his Son, . . . to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship. Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, ‘Abba, Father.’ So you are no longer a slave, but God’s child; and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir (Galatians 4:4-7).

Scripture: Galatians 4:1-7

Song: “Good Good Father”

God graciously gave my husband and me a remarkable twentieth anniversary gift, a baby. When I delivered this natural-born child, I gained another heir. My oldest child became my heir when we legally adopted her. Both my children have the same rights and privileges. They are equal heirs, both in my eyes and in the eyes of the law. I hope they feel secure and confident in their status as my children in ways that help them flourish.

The Holy Spirit affirms that Christians are not merely forgiven, but adopted as God’s children. Believers sometimes struggle with embracing this wondrous truth, especially in the context of a broken relationship with an earthly father. It helps to remember how we gained status as God’s heirs—through the cross.

God initiated and completed our redemption and adoption through the cross of Jesus Christ. It was His idea and His work. Resting in the security of our relationship with Him helps us hear the same Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.”

Father, thank You for adopting me as Your child and sending Your Holy Spirit as a witness to this amazing reality. Help me to share the magnificent news of the gospel with others. In the name of Your Son, Jesus, amen.

May 12, 2019: Called to Life in the Spirit (Romans 8:1-14)

By Teacher Tips

To begin the session:

Download the handout “Impulse Control” here. Have the class work in groups of 2–3 to complete the sheet.

Say, “Humans have the ability to think before acting on our urges, though frequently we don’t. Christians have been set free from slavery to the flesh, so we have not only the ability but the command to deny the flesh and instead walk by the Spirit. The worksheet helps us identify ways we can set our minds on the Spirit.”

To encourage personal application:

Look over the “Impulse Control” worksheet and review the topics you wrote down. Choose one topic from the list, or another topic you think of, and ask for God’s help in denying your impulses so you can walk by the Spirit in that area. Take a moment to pray silently about it, asking for His power and setting your mind on the Spirit for the week ahead.

We Apologize!

By "In the World"

We’re very sorry that “In the World” for May 5 wasn’t available for your use this weekend and apologize for any inconvenience that caused. We experienced a technical glitch with scheduling, but we’ll be sure that “In the World” is available to you on time in the future.

May 6

By 365 Devotions

A Vision for Living

“Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can only do what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does. For the Father loves the Son and shows him all he does” (John 5:19, 20).

Scripture: John 5:19-24

Song: “Be Thou My Vision”

What would motivate someone to travel to Liberia to help treat Ebola, a viral disease that kills approximately 90 percent of its victims? According to Dr. Kent Brantly, he went in response to God’s call on his life. Dr. Brantly’s call was rooted in something all believers share, a God-given vision for living.

Jesus’ vision for earthly ministry came from His intimate relationship with the Father. Jesus did what He saw His Father doing. Kingdom vision for Christians reflects belief in the sacrificial death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. A common expression claims that seeing is believing. For Christians, believing is seeing—Jesus. We, too, are called to see Jesus to be imitators of Christ.

The smallest act of service is glorious when it honors Christ. You don’t have to be a skilled physician or travel to a foreign country to be a faithful disciple. Trust God to help you honor His vision for your daily ministry.

Father, help me to see endless ways to be joyously fruitful in Your service as I follow You. In Jesus’ name, amen.

May 6–12. Maureen Fowler is a sinner saved by grace, who seeks to grow her faith in God and obedience to His Word each day. She lives with her husband, two children, and a couple of mischievous cats.

May 5

By 365 Devotions

Rescued by Grace

All are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus (Romans 3:24).

Scripture: Romans 3:21-31

Song: “Amazing Grace”

One afternoon my family and I found a distraught stray kitten hiding in our carport. The dirty, helpless creature was injured, infested with parasites, and weak from dehydration. If left to fend for himself, he would surely die. So, my son carefully took him in his arms and we put our rescue in motion. We took him for medical help, cared for him with tenderness and love, and made him our own. Dear Bo has been part of our family ever since.

Before coming to Christ, we were a lot like Bo, spiritually speaking. Helpless before God, we were weak when it came to following His laws and, therefore, infested with sin. We could never make ourselves spiritually healthy and clean enough for such a Holy God. If left to fend for ourselves, we would surely die an eternal death. We needed to repent and be rescued! So, out of His great love for us, God sent His Son Jesus to be our Redeemer. Through Christ alone, and not because of anything we did, we were “justified freely by His grace” (v. 24) and made right before God. Our “dirt” was washed by Jesus’ blood. When we accept that free gift by faith, we become part of God’s family forever. Rescued indeed!

Father God, Your amazing grace is sweet and life-changing. Thank You for making a way for us to be justified. It was a costly gift—the death of Your Son, Jesus—yet freely given out of Your tender love for me. In Your Holy name, amen.

May 4

By 365 Devotions

Fear God

Destruction and misery are in their ways: And the way of peace have they not known: There is no fear of God before their eyes (Romans 3:16-18, KJV).

Scripture: Romans 3:9-20

Song: “Ye Servants of God, Your Master Proclaim”

At age 17, Graham dropped out of high school and left home. He decided that his one-time Christian values no longer aligned with how he wanted to live. So he took off, determined to do life on his terms—without God and without parental input. Three years later, as he continues in his rebellion, his life is, more often than not, in a tumultuous state. His family and friends often pray for him to become conscious of the seriousness of his sin, see his need for Christ, and repent.

The Bible is clear: God and the instruction in His law are not to be taken lightly. There are earthly and eternal consequences for rejecting Him. Today’s verses tell us that when we live without fearing God, destruction and misery are produced in our life and we lack peace. Yet, we may deduce that the opposite is true: when we are careful to have a proper respect (fear) of God and His law, we can live an abundant life that pleases Him and blesses us. We can experience His peace. Fearing God is putting Him in His proper place—on the throne of our lives where we desperately need Him to be.

Dear Lord, Help me to take fearing You seriously. I don’t want to be casual about my sin. May I live in such a way that honors You and reflects my full respect which You desire and deserve. In Jesus’ name, amen.

May 3

By 365 Devotions

The Fact of Faithful

What if some were unfaithful? Will their unfaithfulness nullify God’s faithfulness? Not at all! (Romans 3:3, 4)

Scripture: Romans 3:1-8

Song: “Yes and Amen”

Gini is faithful to show up each week, ready to teach Sunday school at her small church. Her genuine love for children and God’s Word motivates her to come prepared and eager to teach. Some weeks, only a few children show up. The others are sometimes too busy playing on their sports teams or attending birthday parties to make it to church. Regardless, you can count on Gini to be there. The fact is, she’s faithful to the Lord first and foremost, so no matter the attendance numbers, she comes to serve.

A fact we can know about our Lord is that He is faithful. Think about what you’ve read in God’s Word and what you’ve experienced in your own life and you’ll see His faithfulness. Though some waiver and are not faithful in their belief of God, that doesn’t change the truth about Him. People may abandon their faith, choosing instead to follow other “gods,” but, thankfully, God’s faithfulness is not contingent on the actions or beliefs of others. The Bible confirms this in 2 Timothy 2:13: “If we are faithless, he remains faithful, for he cannot disown himself.” God is who He says He is and does what He says He will do. No human action or opinion can ever affect that truth!

Father God, You are a truth-teller; a promise keeper—faithful to who You are and faithful to the promises You’ve made to Your children. Help me each day to remain faithful to You. Please grow my faith. In Jesus’ name, amen.

May 2

By 365 Devotions

Now That Faith Has Come

So the law was our guardian until Christ came that we might be justified by faith. Now that this faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian (Galatians 3:24, 25).

Scripture: Galatians 3:19-29

Song: “Justified by Faith”

Allison, a young mom, walks her kindergartener to class each morning. She wants to protect him from any encounters with the older kids at school. She worries about the negative influence they might have on him. She, understandably, longs to guard him from trouble and help him walk the straight and narrow. Unfortunately, there are negative influences everywhere—even inside himself! He won’t always make the right choices at school or in life. Allison can only do so much to help him.

In that same sense, the law—given as a guardian to help protect us from doing wrong—could only do so much. It was never meant to be the ultimate way of making us right with God. As sinners prone to veer off the path, we are unable to walk the straight and narrow. But, thankfully, our guardian the law pointed us to our Savior Christ. Then Christ came, not as a warning sign or guard rail, but to save us and everything changed! Through faith in Him, though we veer and sin, we are justified. Such power and grace our guardian, the law, could never possess. It’s found in Christ alone.

Dear Lord Jesus, I know I can never be good enough on my own. I’m in need of You, my Savior. As I live out my life each day help me to remember that truth and cling to my faith in You. In Your matchless name, amen.

May 1

By 365 Devotions

Against the Law

For apart from the law, sin was dead. Once I was alive apart from the law; but when the commandment came, sin sprang to life and I died (Romans 7:8, 9).

Scripture: Romans 7:7-12

Song: “Grace Greater Than Our Sin”

I didn’t I realize how sinful I could be until I got married. Before the honeymoon I thought I was so mature and loving! But what I discovered in that first year of marriage was a different me than I had imagined. I felt as if my “uglies” bubbled to the surface and an easily angered, impatient, and jealous me was exposed. As a Christian, I was well aware that I wasn’t behaving in a right way, according to God’s law, and I was miserable. I also knew that God’s law wasn’t the problem—I was. Thankfully the Lord’s loving conviction drew me to Himself. He helped me and my marriage then flourished.

The law, which is “holy, righteous and good,” (v. 12) gives us a blueprint for right living, but God’s Word tells us that sin in mankind “sprang to life” (v. 9) with its contents. When we examine the law and ourselves, we recognize we are sin-ridden. But the life-giving, glorious reality is that while we fall short of the law, God sees us, His children, as holy, right, and good through His Son, Jesus. The law serves its purpose—it exposes our sin and helps us to see our need for a Savior.

Father, Thank You for not leaving me in the guilty state the law exposes, but sending Your Son to clear my name and take me from death to life. How loving You are! In Your holy name, amen.

In the World–May 5, 2019

By "In the World"

Download “In the World” for May 5, 2019 here.

AN EVIL VIEW OF RIGHTEOUSNESS

Suicide bombers blew up three churches and three hotels in Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday. Islamic State representatives claimed responsibility for the terrorist acts. These bombings show us what human attempts to create righteousness, according to one set of extremist religious views, can lead to. It should not surprise us that human attempts to be righteous turn into legalism and judgment that sometimes produce evil results.

THE ONLY RIGHTEOUSNESS THAT COUNTS

As Christians, we also may be tempted to focus on an external appearance of righteousness. Legalism prompts us to develop lists of supposedly righteous acts and beliefs that elevate us above “ordinary sinners.” But according to the apostle Paul, this demonstrates the pride that can infect even the good that we do! In today’s background text (Romans 3:10), Paul tells us that no human can be righteous on his or her own. Only Jesus, the Righteous One, can make us pleasing to God, and that happens when we come to Him through faith in Christ and His righteousness, not through pride in ourselves.

  1. How can one’s thinking get so twisted as to think that God is honored by committing murder in His name?
  2. What does Paul’s life before meeting Jesus on the Damascus road (Acts 9) suggest about this?
  3. In what ways have you struggled with a focus on the appearance of external righteousness?

—Charles R. Boatman

www.standardlesson.com/category/in-the-world
Copyright © 2019 by Standard Publishing, part of the David C Cook family.
All rights reserved. Each download is for the use of one church only.

April 30

By 365 Devotions

Well-Known Sheep

“I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me” (John 10:14).

Scripture: John 10:11-18

Song: “The Shepherd Knows Your Name”

While in rural Germany I came across a shepherd herding his flock in a field—a unique sight for a city girl from California! Recalling some biblical references to shepherds and sheep, I eagerly watched to see what would unfold. What I witnessed was a shepherd hard at work, herding his flock and moving them along to where they needed to go. But that was it. His interaction with them was void of tender attention—no pats on the head, no calling by name. The sheep, too, were disengaged from their shepherd other than to respond to his shouts and prods by continuing to advance as they mindlessly grazed along the way.

Though at first the scene left me wanting, I realized something: My Shepherd is completely “other.” No human on earth can care for me like He does. He not only knows my name, He knows me! He is intimately acquainted with all my ways. He loves me fully and for all eternity. And I know Him because He has revealed Himself to me and has been faithful to teach me His ways. My shepherd, Jesus, is tender, compassionate, and patient as He leads me. As I walked away from the field that day I mindfully grazed on those precious truths. My Shepherd is God.

Dear Jesus, You are like no other. Thank You for being my intimate, Good Shepherd, faithful to lead and guide me every day as I look to You. Help me to better know and follow You. In Your powerful name, amen.

May 5, 2019: Called to Righteousness (Romans 3:21-31)

By Teacher Tips

To begin the session:

Download the handout “The Great Equalizer” here. Have the class pair up and work the sheet.

To transition to the Bible study portion of the lesson, say, “Humans often jockey for position and work very hard to elevate themselves above others. But many things wipe all advantages and disadvantages away, sometimes in the blink of an eye. In our passage today, we’ll see that God is the greatest equalizer of all.”

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

Today’s passage is Romans 3:21–31. As a class, go through the passage phrase by phrase looking for expressions of how God, sin, law, faith, and other things place us all on the same footing.

There are at least seven expressions of equalization in this passage:

Verse(s) Comment
21–22 All who believe have access to God’s righteousness
22 Neither is better or worse than the other
23 All people are equally in need of forgiveness, atonement, and salvation
24 Everyone receives justification in the same way
25 All people require atonement because of their sins
28 Everyone who is justified is justified in the same way
29–30 Since all humankind is either Jew or Gentile, God is the God of all

 

April 29

By 365 Devotions

Eat, Drink, Work

Every man should eat and drink, and enjoy the good of all his labour, it is the gift of God (Ecclesiastes 3:13, KJV).

Scripture: Ecclesiastes 3:9-17

Song: “Count Your Blessings”

After college my son Ian moved into an apartment and began his career. As he embraces adult living I am reminded of some basic yet meaningful gifts from God: Eating, drinking, working. Ian describes a meal he cooked at home or ate out with friends and I hear satisfaction in his voice. He calls to ask for prayer about a goal he is striving to meet or a challenge he is struggling to overcome on the job. I then hear his robust determination and blessed dependence on the one who provided the work in the first place.

May we, too, embrace this simple, but profound fact expressed by Solomon many years ago—that we can eat and drink and enjoy the labor we’ve been given as a gift from God. These daily activities can easily be taken for granted, even grumbled over, but He wants us to take pleasure in them! We’re dependent on Him for each of these things. How it must please the Lord when we are mindful of that fact with every bite and sip we savor and each time we roll up our sleeves to work.

Lord, Thank You for the gifts of food, drink, and work that You provide. Help me to find pleasure and satisfaction in them all. In Jesus’ name, amen.

April 29–May 5. Cathy McIlvoy lives in a small coastal town just south of San Francisco, California. She serves alongside her husband in ministry through a church in their community.

April 28

By 365 Devotions

Empowered for Today

Then they gathered around him and asked him, “Lord,  are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?” He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses” (Acts 1:6-8).

Scripture: Matthew 28:16-20; Acts 1:6-8

Song: “Pentecostal Power”

The engagement party had ended, but my emotional meltdown had just begun. Another friend on her way to marriage while I was on my way to nowhere it seemed. As the tears fell, a question formed in my heart: “Lord, will I be married one day, or single forever?” Rather than give an answer, God redirected my focus. “Today you are single, so today you are to be about My business.” The apostles were not grappling with singleness, but they did have unfulfilled expectations. They longed to know what Jesus would do about the restoration of the kingdom, but Jesus called their attention to what they would do through the power of the

Holy Spirit.

God wants to shift our focus from future events that are beyond our knowledge and control to our present reality as His witnesses in the earth. When we embrace the empowerment we’ve been given for today, we can abandon our anxiety about tomorrow. It is not for us to know times and dates, but it is for us to be Spirit filled witnesses of Jesus.

Father, I rejoice because the future is in Your hands, but the Holy Spirit is in my heart bringing empowerment for kingdom work. In Jesus’ name, amen.

April 27

By 365 Devotions

Prepared and Chosen

Therefore it is necessary to choose one of the men who have been with us the whole time the Lord Jesus was living among us, beginning from John’s baptism to the time when Jesus was taken up from us (Acts 1:21, 22).

Scripture: Acts 1:12-17, 21-26

Song: “Do You Know That You Were Chosen?”

“Are you crazy? I’m not a principal.” The founders of a new, Christian middle school were offering me the position of principal, and I could not contain my shock. Having observed my rapport with the high school students, they agreed that I would be a great addition to the leadership team once the school expanded. The change in roles was sudden, but working with the high school students prepared me.

I wonder if Matthias had a similar reply when the apostles nominated him to take Judas’ place: “Are you crazy? I’m not an apostle.” We are not privy to those details, but we do know that Matthias was a part of Jesus’ ministry from beginning to end (Acts 1:21,22). Though not mentioned in the Gospels, Matthias learned from Jesus, right alongside the original twelve. When the time came to appoint another apostle, God chose him.

Just like Matthias, many of us have responded to Jesus and are following Him wholeheartedly. We do not know when we will be called to leadership, but if we continue in Him, serving faithfully alongside other disciples of Christ, we will be ready when the call comes. Before God chose Matthias, He spent time preparing him, and He will do the same for us.

Father, I praise You for Your faithfulness in preparing the ones you choose. In Jesus’ name, amen.

April 26

By 365 Devotions

Keep on Speaking

Then Paul left the synagogue and went next door to the house of Titius Justus, a worshiper of God. Crispus, the synagogue leader, and his entire household believed in the Lord; and many of the Corinthians who heard Paul believed and were baptized (Acts 18:7, 8).

Scripture: Acts 18:5-11

Song: “Fight the Good Fight”

In a 1967 sermon entitled, “A Knock at Midnight,” Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. talked candidly about the difficulties of leading the civil rights movement in America. “Living with all kinds of abuse and criticism and misunderstanding, I feel discouraged sometimes,” he admitted.

Despite the opposition, King tirelessly sounded the trumpet of love, brotherhood, and justice. His speeches and demonstrations drew crowds of non-violent supporters, while at the same time inciting violent displays of hate.

Paul experienced a similar reaction when he preached about Jesus among the Jews in the synagogue. They treated him harshly and did not want to hear his message. However, right next door to the place where he faced opposition, Paul found someone who worshipped God. Not only that, but the leader of the synagogue and his household believed the good news, along with many other Corinthians.

The true gospel is confrontational and will lead either to opposition and rejection or acceptance and belief. When we share this message and people reject it, we can move forward in peace knowing that there are others who are ready to believe. In fact, those others may be right in the midst of the ones who oppose us.

Lord, thank You for making me Your witness. And thank You for the strength to continue proclaiming Your name even when people react negatively. In Jesus’ name, amen.

April 25

By 365 Devotions

Prison Break

About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them. Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken. At once all the prison doors flew open, and everyone’s chains came loose (Acts 16:25, 26).

Scripture: Acts 16:25-34

Song: “Anywhere with Jesus”

In Corrie ten Boom’s second autobiography, Tramp for the Lord, she recounts how she and her sister, Betsie, maintained joy and trust in God during their imprisonment in a Nazi concentration camp. From conducting Bible study in their barracks to sharing the gospel with prisoners on the brink of death, Corrie and Betsie’s lives shined bright amid great darkness. Many women were drawn to Jesus because of the ten Boom sisters’ joy and faith.

Parts of ten Boom’s book hints of Scripture’s record of Paul and Silas’ brief stint in a Philippian jail. Though imprisoned unjustly, these men understood that God was still good and they were still in His expert care. Their bodies chained, but their spirits free, they overflowed with prayer and praise. Surprisingly, God’s response to Paul and Silas affected everyone in prison with them. The earthquake that He sent broke everyone’s chains, opened every prison door, and eventually led to the jailer’s salvation.

As believers in Jesus Christ, we have the privilege of worshipping God in every situation, no matter how daunting it seems. When we respond to trials with heartfelt prayer and praise, we will experience God’s glory in ways that leave an eternal impact on us and those around us.

Father, may my response to adversity cause others to see how mighty and faithful You are. In Jesus’ name, amen.

April 24

By 365 Devotions

Unexpected Ministry

On the Sabbath we went outside the city gate to the river, where we expected to find a place of prayer. We sat down and began to speak to the women who had gathered there. One of those listening was a woman . . . named Lydia, . . . The Lord opened her heart to respond to Paul’s message (Acts 16:13, 14).

Scripture: Acts 16:11-15

Song: “Make Me a Blessing”

As the stillness of the morning settled over me, I snuggled into my recliner and began to prayerfully read the Scriptures. It wasn’t long before the Lord gave me a message to share with my dad. Quickly, I picked up my phone and sent him a text which included a simple verse from the book of James.

A few hours later, my father called me and said, “The verse you sent was so timely. Today, I received some bad news and I needed the encouragement.” It thrilled my heart to know that as I spent time with God, He would direct me to the people who needed to hear from Him.

Paul, Silas, and Timothy were not on the hunt for an evangelistic encounter. Yet, as they sought intimacy with God in prayer, they had the privilege of inviting Lydia into intimacy with Him as well. They show us that when our hearts are set on communion with God, we are in the perfect position to partner with Him in reaching others with the gospel.

Dear Lord, thank You for the unexpected ministry opportunities that await me as I seek You in the secret place. In the name of Jesus, I pray, amen.

April 28, 2019: Called to Make Disciples (Matthew 28:16-20; Acts 1:6-8)

By Teacher Tips

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

Write these words on the board: “Sidetracked, Hijacked, Intimidated, Lost Focus”

Have the class identify a time when they have forgotten what their main purpose or goal was. Make this a self-reflective time of acknowledging that all of us can lose focus at times, but it’s possible to get refocused on the main thing.

Try to come up with an example of each of the descriptions listed on the board.

As a group, come up with at least one way that each person or group could regain focus on the goal and move forward toward it.

Transition into the Bible study by saying, “After the resurrection, Jesus gave the disciples clear directions about what their focus should be.”

To encourage personal application:

Download the handout “Focusing on the Great Commission” here. Break into pairs or small groups and have learners fill out the worksheet.

Say, “All of us can pursue the Great Commission in our many roles, but we might not have thought about that in a while and perhaps our roles have changed. Break into pairs and help each other think of creative ways to obey the Great Commission in our different life roles.”

In the World–April 28, 2019

By "In the World"

Download “In the World” for April 28 here.

WILL IT BE RESTORED?

Much of Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris was destroyed two weeks ago. The magnificent building, which had withstood 850 years of revolution, peace, and wartime peril, fell victim to fire. French President Emmanuel Macron quickly promised the cathedral would be rebuilt in 5 years. However, architectural experts predicted the project could take as long as 20 years. At this point, no one really knows the time involved, the cost, or even whether the building suffered more damage than can be repaired.

YES, BUT IN A DIFFERENT FORM

We’re looking at Notre-Dame’s future the way the apostles looked at the future of their faith after Jesus’ death. Someone of great value to them had been destroyed (or so they thought). Even after the resurrection of Jesus, their question to Jesus shows that the apostles still believed that Jesus had an earthly kingdom of the Jews in mind (see Acts 1:6). However, God’s vision for His kingdom was greater than theirs. Their vision would include the Jews, but God’s restored kingdom would be open to people of every ethnicity. The timing and nature of the restoration might be unknown, but the fact of it is certain beyond doubt!

  1. Do you see any parallels between the destruction at Notre-Dame and the dilemma the apostles were facing? Explain.
  2. Does uncertainty over the timing of Jesus’ return trouble you? Why or why not?
  3. In what ways might our view of God’s kingdom be limited (as the apostles’ view was)?

—Charles R. Boatman

www.standardlesson.com/category/in-the-world
Copyright © 2019 by Standard Publishing, part of the David C Cook family.
All rights reserved. Each download is for the use of one church only.

April 23

By 365 Devotions

A Signature Piece

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. . . . And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity (Colossians 3:12, 14).

Scripture: 1 Corinthians 12:12-14; Colossians 3:12-17

Song: “Blest Be the Tie That Binds”

My brother’s new girlfriend always looked as if she stepped off the pages of a fashion magazine. I wanted to know her secret— how could she look so put together all the time? Her answer surprised me.

“Oh, it’s the coat,” she said. I thought about it for a moment and realized that she did in fact wear a long, stylish coat on top of every outfit. She explained further, “My outfits are simple, but I invest a lot in coats because they really bring an outfit together.” She looked like a million bucks, not because she spent that much, but because she understood the value of a signature piece.

We can say that love is the signature piece for Christians. And when we put it on, everything else looks even better. Compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience are vital, but love is the source from which these other virtues flow. When we put on love, our Christian life will attract others and draw them to the one who is love himself.

Father, as Your beloved child, I thank You that You have not only equipped me to display the attitudes of Your kingdom but You also call me to that life-long devotion. Since love is what matters most, I pray that all my actions and all my words would be marked by love. In the name of Jesus who shows me how, amen.

April 22

By 365 Devotions

Learning to Walk

Many peoples will come and say, “Come, let us go up to  the mountain of the Lord, to the temple of the God of Jacob. He will teach us his ways, so that we may walk in his paths” (Isaiah 2:3).

Scripture: Isaiah 2:1-4

Song: “Walking with Jesus”

When young children learn to walk, their parents are bursting with encouragement: “That’s it! You can do it!” “Look at Mommy’s big girl!” “Daddy’s so proud of you.”

Even if a child takes only two shaky steps before tumbling to the ground, parents cannot contain their excitement. Two shaky steps are accomplishments worthy of grand celebration when it is something you have never done before.

The ways of earthly parents with their children give us a faint glimpse of the profound love that our Heavenly Father has for us. When we first come to Him, He doesn’t expect us to know the walk of faith immediately. Instead, through His church, His Spirit, and His Word, He takes the time to teach us His ways. As we get to know Him, our steps get steadier and our pace increases as we walk in the paths He has set.

Heavenly Father, thank You for Your kindness and patience toward me as I grow in faith. Thank You for teaching me Your ways, so that my obedience to You will be the natural response of a heart that knows and loves You. In Jesus’ name, amen.

April 22–28. Lakeisha D. Blake enjoys teaching, singing, and bringing people together who share a common purpose. Her heart burns with a passion to know God, to love well, and to speak truth. She lives in North Carolina.

April 21

By 365 Devotions

As He Said

“Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as He  said. Come and see the place where He lay” (Matthew 28:5, 6).

Scripture: Matthew 28:1-15

Song: “Let Him Have His Way with Thee”

“I’ll give it back to you on Friday,” were the words of my friend when she asked to borrow something. Due to so many things going on at the time, I hardly listened and quickly forgot what she said. So, it was great surprise on Friday when she came to me and fulfilled the promise that I did not really listen to and certainly did not remember.

Jesus talked with His disciples and those who followed Him, such as these two women, on many occasions about His upcoming death and resurrection. He consistently said that He would rise on the third day. People heard the words but did not really listen and take them in. But when the angel referred to Jesus doing just as He said, then those words came to mind and became real truth and fact.

All the promises God spoke through and to His servants will always be fulfilled. Some of those promises have not come to pass, but if God said it then it will be done. Knowing that we can rely on His Word strengthens our faith and gives us hope, even during our difficult times. We can always believe and hope in those promises.

Lord, Your promises are true. Thank You that we can rely on what You have told us in your Word. Help me to go back to Your promises and to trust in You. In Your name I pray, amen.

April 20

By 365 Devotions

Eager Expectation

And I saw an angel coming down out of heaven, having the key to the Abyss and holding in his hand a great chain. He seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil, or Satan, and bound him for a thousand years (Revelation 20:1, 2).

Scripture: Revelation 20:1-6

Song: “Jesus Is Coming Back Again”

My daughter has been counting down her birthday for a few months now. She will turn nine and she is so excited not only  about that day but that whole period of time. The week right after her birthday begins their winter break from school as well as their school play. She feels that she has so much to look forward to. Everyday her spirit is lifted by thoughts of all that is to come.

This Scripture and my daughter prompt hope within for what the future will bring. The thought of Satan being bound and chained lifts my spirits. I anticipate the coming of Christ and what it means as a believer. I am also reminded that even today, though we wait for the return of Jesus, He’s already given us victory.

Every book of the Bible, from Genesis through Revelation, gives us truths and promises from God that support our hope for the future and joyful outlook on each day, as it comes. Look for more reason for our hope in all the pages you read over all the days of your life.

Heavenly Father, I thank you today for your plan of salvation for me. Thank You that one day I will be with You in glory. In my Savior’s precious name, amen.

April 19

By 365 Devotions

Tell Them

Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the news: “I have seen the Lord!” (John 20:18).

Scripture: John 20:11-18

Song: “I’ve Just Seen Jesus”

There are times of not seeing a way out of a situation or devastating events. Financial burdens, a physical conditions, or loss interrupt our lives. But then, when we seek Jesus, even in the depths of despair, He can bring financial relief, healing, peace, and comfort. Jesus breaks through.

Mary was crying at the tomb. She thought someone had taken her Lord away and she wanted to find Him. But then she turned to see Jesus and hear Him call her name. The sound of His voice in her ears clarified who she saw with her eyes—Jesus, her risen Lord! Every bit of sadness turned to joy. Jesus renewed her hope. From that experience with Jesus and His instruction, Mary was equipped to go and tell the disciples that things were not as His followers had feared.

Like Mary, we can turn to Jesus, listen to Him call our name and give His instruction. From the joy and hope of seeing our risen Lord we can spread the news of what we have seen. We can share the love of Jesus and encourage others to seek His work in their lives. We don’t have to be preachers, Bible teachers, or in a foreign land to tell others about our Jesus and the ways that we have seen Him.

Dear Lord, open my ears and eyes to see You at work in my life. Give me the words to share to someone in need today. Help me to tell others about You. In Your name, amen.

April 18

By 365 Devotions

No Stone Too Heavy

So they went and made the tomb secure by putting a seal on the stone and posting the guard (Matthew 27:66).

Scripture: Matthew 27:62-66

Song: “Oh My Soul”

After my release from prison, I was certain it would be hard to find a job. I thought that no one would trust me again. Many people told me to not expect an opportunity to work in my former career field because of my conviction. It seemed as if the entrance back onto that path had a big stone rolled and sealed in front of it.

The chief priests, the Pharisees, and the Roman guard were certain that the stone rolled and sealed over the entrance of the tomb was the end of Jesus and His “career.” But it was not. The Father moved that stone with His resurrection plan. In fact, the resurrection shows what a powerful God we serve. He removes any hindrance rolled into the path of His grace, mercy, and power for us and our lives.

God unblocked the path for me and opened doors I had not imagined He could. I am again in the work that I love and use my passion to serve others. Don’t get discouraged about past mistakes, broken relationships, or financial burdens. The stone that seems to block your path into God’s goodness can easily be removed by the one who raised His Son, our Savior, from the grave. Keep the faith.

Father, thank You that no stone or any other hindrance the enemy of our souls places in the path of Your plan for our salvation and goodness can remain against Your power and plan for our lives. In the name of my Savior, Jesus, amen.

April 17

By 365 Devotions

Help with the Cross

As they were going out, they met a man from Cyrene, named Simon, and they forced him to carry the cross (Matthew 27:32).

Scripture: Matthew 27:32-44

Song: “Carry My Cross”

A young homeless woman and her two kids were stranded in an unknown city trying to reach family in another town two hours away. My coworker was compelled in her heart to help this woman that she didn’t even know. She allowed her heart to guide and gave the stranded family food and shelter until she could make arrangements to help them get to their family.

In the passage today, the soldiers forced Simon from Cyrene, an innocent bystander, to help carry the cross of Jesus. Although not the same type of compulsion, or from the same source, my co- worker felt something drawing her to help carry the burden of this young mother. We might not be present for opportunities to carry a physical cross or even taking in a stranger with small children. But we might be presented with other opportunities to help lift someone’s load. Simon helped the Son of God during His painful time. We can do the same for someone through words of encouragement, help with a task, or simply a listening ear. The help we can give others shows the love of Jesus; the love He showed for us on that same day Simon helped Him.

Father, I pray that You will open my eyes to opportunities to help someone today. Please guide and strengthen me to help. Father, send me to show Your love and to nurture hope in You. In Jesus name, amen.

In the World–April 21, 2019

By "In the World"

Download “In the World” for April 21 here.

A CAREER RESURRECTED

Tiger Woods was once a brilliant young star in the world of professional golf. But scandals in his personal life and physical injuries took Woods’s game away. He had not won a major tournament since 2008, and many golf fans believed his career was over, or “dead.” Two years ago, Woods was bedridden; even he questioned his future as a professional golfer. However, last Sunday, Woods won the Masters Tournament in Augusta, GA. It was the fifth of his career. Sports writers are calling the win “a comeback for the ages” and his fans are hoping for a resurrected career.

HUMAN HOPES RESURRECTED

On what we call Palm Sunday, Jesus was a rising star with fans praising Him as their long-hoped-for Messiah. Though He entered Jerusalem humbly, on a donkey instead of a warhorse, we do nevertheless call it the Triumphal Entry. Then, just a few days later, Jesus was executed as a criminal. With their anticipated Deliverer lying lifeless in a tomb, the disciples’ hopes had been dashed. Three days later, on that first Easter, Jesus rose from the dead, and with Him were resurrected the hopes of all the world for victory over evil and life beyond the grave.

  1. Should a Christian rejoice when tarnished celebrities succeed in their careers? Why or why not?
  2. How would you explain to an unbeliever how the Resurrection gives you hope in this life?
  3. Tell the class about a time when you were crushed by life’s circumstances, yet you had hope because of your faith in the resurrected Christ.

–Charles R. Boatman

www.standardlesson.com/category/in-the-world
Copyright © 2019 by Standard Publishing, part of the David C Cook family.
All rights reserved. Each download is for the use of one church only.

April 21, 2019–Called to Believe the Resurrection (Matthew 28:1-15)

By Teacher Tips

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

Download the handout “Too Good to Be True?” here and have learners pair up to fill out the sheet.

After they have filled out the sheet, bring the class back together to discuss each item.

If time allows, ask the class to name other aspects of Christianity that are so extraordinary as to seem too good to be true. (Examples: that God became human; that God did for people what we could never do for ourselves; that the Christian life is supposed to be so much more simple than we make it; and that salvation is received by faith and we can never merit it.)

To encourage personal application:

If we had been with the women witnessing the resurrection that first Easter morning, or if we had been with the Apostles hearing their report, we surely would’ve been skeptical, at least at first. These are remarkable events, unprecedented and unrepeated in history.

In the same way, we can be skeptical of the things God says to us, either in Scripture or in our in discerning the things we believe He asks us to trust Him about or obey. Discuss with your partner the most incredible thing God has ever asked you to do or believe.

What is something you haven’t yet dared to believe about God, despite the fact that He has promised it? (Examples: That God not only “loves” you but likes you; that God wants to take even your sins and use those failures for His purposes.)

This week, choose to believe God’s promise, even if it sounds too good to be true.

 

April 16

By 365 Devotions

Dealing with Remorse

When Judas, who had betrayed him, saw that Jesus was condemned, he was seized with remorse (Matthew 27:3).

Scripture: Matthew 27:3-10

Song: “Free from Guilt and Free from Sin”

A woman in Louisiana sold a painting at a garage sale for two dollars. In the hands of a new owner the piece was later discovered to be an original Picasso. Apparently the seller had no idea the painting would have made a tidy sum of money that could have changed, or at least influenced, her life.

Judas apparently did not understand the grace and mercy available through Jesus, even after betrayal. Perhaps Judas would have chosen a different response to his remorse had he recognized that the One he betrayed is the same One who could freely give him forgiveness and the restoration he needed.

Jesus removes our guilt for our wrongdoing, and even betrayal, that we sincerely confess to Him and repen