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David C Cook Editorial

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 repent in both heartfelt words and living. Going to Jesus with our guilt and shame from the betrayal of our sin is our only way to receive resolution. No human action or plan will work. Any guilt or remorse we ever feel can be confessed to God and He will heal our remorse. He gives us the promise that He will take it and remove it as far as the East is from the West and will remember it no more.

Father, thank You for the grace and mercy You give through the death and resurrection of Your  Son who cleanses me when I acknowledge the source of my remorse  is in my guilt. Thank You for Your forgiveness when I confess and repent. In Jesus’ name, amen.

April 15

By 365 Devotions

Whatever You Ask

But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask (John 11:22).

Scripture: John 11:17-27

Song: “Ask of God”

“I wish I had glasses,” said my 8-year-old. Her remark followed my conversation with her older sister about wearing her glasses at all times and not straining her eyes watching TV without them. My 8-year-old thinks it would be great to wear glasses, thinking that glasses would give her a bigger picture.

If only eye glasses would give us the bigger picture—and especially when it comes to God’s work in our lives. Sometimes God doesn’t give me what I ask Him for, but think I need. I’m learning to remind myself that I don’t know everything He knows. God sees the big picture. I am very thankful that He knows and sees what I cannot see.

Like Martha, who told Jesus that God would give whatever He would ask, we can know for sure that Jesus, as the Son of God, would not ask for just anything. Jesus would ask according to the will of His Father. Our loving Father has all wisdom and all knowledge and will grant requests based on what is best for us—what we really need. It is for our good that God does not operate just on what we think is best.

Father, thank You for knowing what we really need despite all we want. Thank You for fulfilling our every need. In Jesus’ name, amen.

April 15–21. Aleta Hall lives in Texas with her husband and three children. She currently works in the hospitality industry which gives her a chance everyday to serve others. She also loves to read and cook.

April 14

By 365 Devotions

Jesus First

“Truly I tell you, wherever this gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her” (Matthew 26:13).

Scripture: Matthew 26:1-13

Song: “10,000 Reasons”

A man, recently paroled and working to repair his life, passed up a potentially life-changing job interview to save a stranger seriously wounded in a car wreck. While riding the city bus to the interview, he noticed the bus had stopped. He then saw the reason; a terrible car accident. He demanded to get off the bus, even though it meant missing his interview, to help two others rescue the driver. He missed his interview, but helped save the man’s life. After his story was told throughout his state he received several offers of employment.

To be known for doing good is a noble ambition. To be remembered for giving your all to Jesus is even better. Despite the objections of Jesus’ followers, a woman poured out her perfume and her heart to honor Jesus. Like the aroma of the perfume, words like “waste” and “missed opportunity” filled the room. It’s never a waste, though, to give your best and your all to the Lord. Know- ing Him inspires love which compels action. Contemplating His sacrifice stimulates passion which fuels serving. Being in His presence elicits humility which brings us to our knees in reverence and worship. Though this woman’s name is not known, her bold act continues to proclaim the majesty of Jesus. Giving our best to Jesus can help us do the same.

Dear Lord, thank You for who You are and what You do for us. I want to honor You today. In Jesus’ name, amen.

April 13

By 365 Devotions

Forgiven

This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins (Matthew 26:28).

Scripture: Matthew 26:17-29

Song: “At the Cross”

In William Shakespeare’s play Macbeth, the title character kills the king of Scotland at his wife’s urging. Her guilt over the murder gradually drives her insane. Unable to escape the weight of what she’s done, Lady Macbeth walks in her sleep, wringing her hands, trying to wash the blood from them. What she envisions as blood on her hands is a constant reminder of her actions.

For Lady Macbeth, the blood was the stigma of sin and a representation of guilt. How remarkably different is blood for us. At the Last Supper, Jesus indicated the purpose of the elements. The disciples, and all who come after them, are to remember His death and what it means: His body and blood freely given for the forgiveness of our sins.

The sweet aroma of forgiveness changes our lives. The blood of Jesus is its mark. No longer are we shackled by the heavy bonds of sin. Guilt, the stealer of hope, is banished, and the shrill voice of condemnation is silenced. Ghosts of the past, who’ve haunted us for years, fade into the shadows, and the chains of regret fall power- less. We have been set free. One of the sweetest words we can ever hear is the word “forgiven.” The blood of Jesus isn’t a sign of death or an emblem of shame. It’s the source of our joy.

Dear Lord, thank You for Your love displayed for me at the cross. Thank you for set- ting me free. In Your name, amen.

April 12

By 365 Devotions

See Jesus

[Judas Iscariot] asked, “What are you willing to give me   if I deliver him over to you?” So they counted out for him thirty pieces of silver (Matthew 26:15).

Scripture: Matthew 26:14-16

Song: “Praise You in This Storm”

Robert Hanssen is a former FBI agent who’s serving a lifetime sentence for selling military intelligence to the Soviets. According to government records, Hanssen became a member of the KGB and sold classified information in exchange for diamonds and cash worth more than half a million dollars. He did this while supervising counterintelligence for the FBI. His stint as a double agent ended when he was caught in 2001. Hanssen got wealth in exchange for his betrayal, but his motivation beyond that isn’t explained.

It’s hard to understand betrayal. Of all of history’s betrayers, Ju- das Iscariot may be the most well-known. I don’t think anyone sets out, from the beginning, to sell out that which matters. I suppose there are lots of little steps on the staircase of betrayal. Unmet expectations lead to disappointment. Disappointment invites discouragement. Discouragement brings frustration. Frustration leads to anger, and so it goes. As we descend, Satan applauds, and we move further away from the one we love.

Stopping the descent means going back to the source. For us, it’s Jesus. See Jesus—really see Him. He knows what’s going on when we don’t get it. He pleads for us to trust Him. He knows our hurts, dis- appointments, and frustrations. Remembering why we love Him and how He loves us can buoy us in the storms of doubt and confusion.

Dear Lord, help me to really see You. Thank You for Your love and loyalty to me. In Your name, amen.

April 11

By 365 Devotions

One for All

“You do not realize that it is better for you that one man die for the people than that the whole nation perish” (John 11:50).

Scripture: John 11:45-53

Song: “The Wonderful Cross”

In 1948 New Yorker magazine carried Shirley Jackson’s troubling story, “The Lottery.” The premise of the story is that one per- son dies for the rest of the town. Once a year, the families in a small New England village gather to participate in a lottery to select the family from whom the scapegoat comes. The process begins with the whole town and narrows down to an individual. Whoever chooses the marked rock is the “winner” and is stoned to death.

The story, when it first ran, incited all kinds of responses. Many were outraged at the dark and brutal aspects of it. I thought of that story again as I read John 11 where unknowingly, Caiaphas spoke truth in prophecy about Jesus.

Unlike Jackson’s story, though, the selection of Jesus wasn’t by random chance. He chose the marked rock. He did it so that no one would ever have to fear death. Because He was willing to die, we can live. The echo from that day still resounds: the lottery hasn’t fallen on me. Jesus’ choice means you never have to be afraid of what’s beyond the grave. The Father put the lottery on His Son and when He died, the lottery ended. None of us were selected and we won’t be. Because of our relationship with Jesus, we have life.

Heavenly Father, thank You for Jesus and how He gave His life for us. May we live to honor Him. In Jesus’ name, amen.

April 10

By 365 Devotions

Extravagant Worship

“You will always have the poor among you, but you will not always have me” (John 12:8).

Scripture: John 12:1-8

Song: “In Christ Alone”

The rain didn’t seem to bother the little dancer. I saw her come into the church with her mother. Her mom rushed to get in from the downpour, but not her. She was overjoyed. I watched her artistry from the window. Though just 6-years old, she danced with grace, skill, and most of all, exuberance. The rain did not dampen her enthusiasm, nor did it wash away her passion.

Exuberant joy and unbridled passion might be a bit rare. People are not always comfortable around lavish displays of emotion. It’s a shame, in a way, because Jesus seems to honor extravagant worship. The people that came that day sat with Jesus, heard His voice and perhaps even served Him. They saw Jesus, but not like Mary did. She saw Jesus in a way that moved her deeply. Her response comes from a heart that understands His love for her. Her extravagant acts come from a desire to give to the One who has given and will give so much. Her outpouring of love, sacrifice and passion flows from a soul indelibly imprinted with the image of a friend and Savior.

When we see Jesus, as Mary did with admiration, our hearts can- not help but burst with love and passion. Being in Jesus’ presence is awe-inspiring

Lord, thank You for Your love and all You do for us. We fall at Your feet today and desire to see You. Thank You. In Your name, amen.

In the World–April 14, 2019

By "In the World"

Download “In the World” for April 14 here.

COMPETING VALUE SYSTEMS

Nipsey Hussle moved beyond his gang-affiliated youth in South Los Angeles to become famous as a rap artist. As a rich entrepreneur, he became a model for many in the poorer areas of L.A., where he became a successful businessman. Nipsey encouraged his community to make long-term plans for success in life. On March 31, 2019, Nipsey was killed by gunfire, allegedly from an aspiring rapper who had had a disagreement with him earlier in the day. The suspect’s own rap music exhibited a different value system, one that glorifies guns, violence, and murder.

QUESTIONING A WOMAN’S VALUE SYSTEM

When the disciples condemned the woman’s actions in anointing Jesus with expensive perfume, they were questioning not only her value system, but also her value as a person. They condemned her for not using her expensive gift as they might have. They were also questioning Jesus’ values for accepting the woman’s “wasteful” act.

  1. How does a person’s lifestyle express the values they live by?
  2. Did the disciples’ objection to the woman’s act have any validity? Explain.
  3. Have you ever felt the same as the disciples did about another person’s “extravagant” lifestyle? Explain the rationale for your judgment. How might Jesus respond to your criticism?

—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 fo the use of one church only.

April 14, 2019: Called to Remember (Matthew 26:1-13)

By Teacher Tips

To begin the session:

Write this on the board: “A New Perspective”

People can have different ideas about the same person. You might approve of a political candidate while someone else might be firmly opposed to him or her. You might feel strongly negative feelings for a thief, while that person’s mother might dearly love the same person.

Our passage today contrasts two mindsets that people had toward Jesus.

Download the handout “A New Perspective” here and have the class call out answers as a group.

Lead into Bible study by saying… “In our Bible lesson today, we see one set of people who spent their resources to oppose Jesus and someone else who looked at that same individual and gave extravagantly to support Him.”

To encourage personal application:

Get into groups of three or four. Each person should think of someone he or she would consider a personal enemy. Have them discuss how they would feel about humbly serving this person in some way. Then they should ask one another whether Jesus’ view of that person might refine their thinking.

Challenge the class to pray each day this week that God would soften their hearts toward these enemies.

April 9

By 365 Devotions

Things That Matter

He said to him, “If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises  from the dead” (Luke 16:31).

Scripture: Luke 16:19-31

Song: “I Can Only Imagine”

Charles Dickens in his story A Christmas Carol depicts Ebenezer Scrooge as a man consumed with getting what he can while he can. He rarely thinks of others’ needs and certainly not what’s beyond the life he can see and touch.

The rich man in the parable lived that way. He enjoyed every moment getting as much as he could get, ignoring Lazarus and his situation. What a shock it must’ve been after they both died. He never saw it coming. Of course, he never saw things too clearly. Awareness of the frailty and fleeting nature of this life came too late. He longed for his brothers to understand, though. He pleaded that Lazarus might be sent to warn them. There would be no Jacob Marley in this story, however. They would have to decide how they would live. We, though, have someone who shows us what really matters. Jesus is our help. He reveals the Father to us, so we can know Him. He pleads with us to receive God’s mercy and then live out that mercy toward those around us. He loves us unconditionally with a love that compelled Him to the cross, and challenges us to love one another. These things give our lives meaning and significance.

They have eternal impact. Because of Jesus, we can lead lives that look beyond.

Father, thank You for Your grace and for Jesus. Help us to see what matters. In Jesus’ name, amen.

April 8

By 365 Devotions

Saved by the Blood

The blood will be a sign for you on the houses where you  are, and when I see the blood, I will pass over you. No destructive plague will touch you when I strike Egypt (Exodus 12:13).

Scripture: Exodus 12:1-14

Song: “Nothing but the Blood”

Saved by blood. It sounds a bit odd, I know. However, for the people who’ve written testimonies on the American Red Cross website, it’s anything but strange. A woman named Amy wrote about her open-heart surgery. She’d gone through the process to donate her own blood, so if everything went as it was supposed to, all would be fine. It didn’t. The surgery had complications and more blood was needed, much more. She said, “There was a lot of waiting and praying. If it wasn’t for the actions of the Red Cross and those who donated blood I wouldn’t be here today.”

Amy isn’t the only one to know the saving power of blood. The Israelites during the final plague on Egypt experienced it too. God wouldn’t allow a destructive plague to strike any house marked with the blood of the Passover lamb. It would be spared. The blood of the lamb marked God’s people then and still does today. If you’ve been washed in the blood of the Lamb, death cannot touch you. The blood of Jesus brings life.

Lord, thank You for Your love. We stand in awe of the sacrifice that Jesus made for us. The Lamb of God shed His blood to take away our sins and give us life. May we live our lives to honor Him. Always. In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.

April 8–14. Bill Thomas lives in Washington, Missouri.

April 7

By 365 Devotions

Unclean

Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received; freely give. Do not get any gold or silver or copper to take with you in your belts, no bag for the journey or extra shirt or sandals or a staff, for the worker is worth his keep (Matthew 10:8-10).

Scripture: Matthew 10:1-15

Song: “The Hurt & The Healer”

Kalaupapa, is Hawaii’s leprosy colony. Eight thousand people were sent into exile there over the course of a century. As of 2015, there were 16 patients still living there, ranging in age from 73 to 92.

Untreated, leprosy can cause permanent damage to the eyes and skin. Corruption of the nervous system will cause one to lose feeling, and patients can be oblivious to pain and therefore severely injure themselves unknowingly. Leprosy is a difficult, deforming sickness, working from the outside in. In ancient Israel, people with the disease were to walk around calling out, “unclean.”

Sin is like leprosy. Untreated, it can lead to permanent damage. It blinds us to God’s truth and makes us unfeeling, oblivious to our surroundings and the damage we cause ourselves and others. It de- forms us from the inside out. It makes us unclean. Thankfully, God provided Jesus as a remedy. He came to Earth, died for us and rose victoriously. When we make Him our Lord and Savior, God looks at us, through Him, as forgiven and clean.

Lord God, search my heart and show me what needs cleaning. Forgive me of my sins and wash me from the inside out. Thank You Jesus for making this possible. It’s in Your name I pray, Amen.

April 6

By 365 Devotions

Doormats

“I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. There- fore, be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves” (Matthew 10:16).

Scripture: Matthew 10:16-25

Song: “We Fall Down”

Doormats come in different colors, shapes, and sizes. Many say “Welcome,” while one I have seen says “Dog Hiding in Bushes Be- hind You.” But overall doormats do nothing more than just lay out there in the weather to greet people as they arrive. They also supply a good place to wipe off the dirt of the day, but still say welcome to the next person with muddy shoes.

Christians also come in different colors, shapes, and sizes. We are often in the place of doormats, out there in the world to en- courage and give people a greeting of hope. And at times we might also feel like a doormat—vulnerable to getting stepped on. It is in these places that we look less at the people who we think might be stepping on us and look to God. Jesus is there with us to help us deal with the world. He can help us be kind, merciful, loving, and forgiving. He also helps us be wise and shrewd. He did not design us to hold other’s dirt, He will deal with that. We can look to Him for the words and actions that will represent Him to the world in truth and love.

Jesus, help me to be discerning; to know when to speak and when to be still. Help me to be as shrewd as a snake and as innocent as a dove. Show me how to represent You to all who You bring across my path. In Your name, amen.

April 5

By 365 Devotions

Write On

Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd (Matthew 9.35, 36).

Scripture: Matthew 9:35-38

Song: “Lead Me to the Cross”

In the seventh grade I had a fantastic English teacher who was clever,  innovative, and encouraged me to write, despite the fact   I would spell every third word wrong. He would smile and say, “don’t fret about the mess, that’s what editors are for.” He looked at the content and creativity of my work, and overlooked the mess on the page.

Jesus loved to teach. He was clever, innovative, and encouraging. He looked out over the crowds and instead of focusing on the mess that they were, He looked inside at their content, if you will. He knew they were each unique, made by His Father in His image. He saw them and had compassion on them. He has compassion on us.

This is a huge encouragement to us. Jesus is compassionate. He sees us and wants to not only cure our sickness and diseases, but the other messes we carry around; our guilt, pain, fear, and un- forgiveness. He is our good shepherd who gently, patiently, and protectively leads us to the Father. Know that when He looks at you, He smiles and says, “don’t fret about the mess, that’s what I am here for.”

Thank You, Jesus for being compassionate. Thank You for loving me in spite of all my mess. Lead me to the Father. In Your name, amen.

April 4

By 365 Devotions

No Shoes, No Shirt, No Problem

“Take nothing for the journey except a staff—no bread,  no bag, no money in your belts. Wear sandals but not an extra shirt.” They drove out many demons and  anointed many sick people with oil and healed them (Mark 6:8, 9, 13).

Scripture: Mark 6:7-13

Song: “Keep Changing the World”

When my 17-year-old daughter left for a mission trip to Uganda, she packed flip flops that got stuck in the mud, skirts that got covered in mud, and ate food that tasted like mud. She slept under mosquito netting, and if she was able to get a shower, she was joined by gigantic millipedes. The local people had little bread, few bags, and limited money for their nonexistent belts.

When Jesus sent His disciples out to minister, He discharged them in pairs, and instructed them to take nothing more than the shoes on their feet and the shirt on their back. They were not to bring any other stuff. They stayed with the local people, and if their hosts were not interested in what they had to say, they moved on. The disciples lifted up those who welcomed them to the Father and He met their needs. He cast out their demons and healed their diseases. The disciples didn’t rely on medications, therapists, or specialists—not because these are bad, but because they were not available. They came to people empty handed and left them full of the glory of God.

Mighty God, meet us where we are. Be our strength and our healer. We come empty and ask You to fill us with Yourself. In Christ’s name, amen.

April 3

By 365 Devotions

Listen and Obey

During the night Paul had a vision of a man of Macedonia standing and begging him, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” After Paul had seen the vision, we got ready at  once to leave for Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them (Acts 16:9, 10).

Scripture: Acts 16:6-10

Song: Word of God Speak

It was 5:00 in the evening when the phone rang. I had just dropped our eldest off at a pool party and my husband was at a Bible study in the basement of our church. “Her water has broken, come now.” The birth mom of our soon-to-be-son had gone into labor and we needed to get on the road.

I headed back to the pool and then raced with the other three kids to the church as there is no cell phone reception in the basement. We gave my husband the exciting news, and after dropping of the kids at my parents my husband and I hit the road for the 12-hour drive to meet our new baby boy.

When God told Paul to head to Macedonia, he got ready at once to leave. God spoke and Paul obeyed. As with Paul, God wants to use us to spread the gospel to people in need of help, or comfort, or salvation. Let us be people who are quick to listen and quick to obey God’s call.

Word of God speak. Open my heart and mind to receive from You. Help me to recognize Your voice, loud or soft, and take the gospel to all in need. In Your name, amen.

April 7, 2019: Called to Mission (Matthew 10:1-15)

By Teacher Tips

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

Download the “Missions Compared” handout here. Pair up and fill out the Venn diagram according to the directions in the handout.

While the learners are working, draw a simple, two-circle Venn diagram on the board. When the learners have populated their circles, bring the class together to ask for highlights of what they found. Now work together as a class to fill in the middle section of the diagram, comprised of things in common with both missions.

Ask these questions: 1–In what ways do you feel a connection with the disciples on that first mission? 2–Aside from issues of technology, why do you think the first mission was so different from what we see today? 3–How was this mission a foretaste of the church’s spread in the book of Acts? 4–How does the biblical history of mission shape and potentially change how we practice outreach and other ministries today?

To encourage personal application:

Pair up and brainstorm how someone might behave if he or she knew they were in charge of handing out amazing treasures however and to whomever they see fit.

Reply to this question: “How will I present the gospel differently to someone I know, now that I see myself as having been put in charge of handing out the most incredible treasure the world has ever seen?”

In the World–April 7, 2019

By "In the World"

Download “In the World” for April 7 here.

HEALTH CARE AT WHAT COST?

How to provide healthcare for Americans is part of an ongoing debate in Washington, DC, these days. Opinions on the matter vary across the political spectrum, from 100% coverage free for everyone to no coverage except that which an individual can afford to buy. This week, the US Justice Department filed a suit asking the courts to strike down “Obamacare.” Some candidates in the 2020 presidential run for the White House are taking positions at the opposite extreme.

HEALING FREE TO ALL

In Jesus’ time, there was no such thing as health insurance and nothing like medical care as we know it. Thus, when Jesus came healing the sick and casting out demons, He was meeting a need that couldn’t be filled otherwise. When He called and sent out His apostles, He gave them authority to engage in a healing ministry similar to His.

  1. Does the healing authority Jesus gave to His twelve apostles apply to Christians today? Why or why not? If so, to what extent?
  2. Do you know of situations in which a Christian has exercised (or claimed to exercise) the gift of healing? If so, how was the gift authenticated?
  3. If Jesus’ will regarding healthcare were perfectly enacted in our country today, what do you think that would look like?

—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 fo the use of one church only.

Apri 2

By 365 Devotions

Noise

In Damascus there was a disciple named Ananias. The Lord called to him in a vision, “Ananias!” “Yes, Lord,” he answered (Acts 9:10).

Scripture: Acts 9:10-19

Song: “In Your Eyes”

Beats®, Skullcandy®, Bose®, Apple®, JBL® and Sennheiser®. What do all of these companies have in common? My teenage son (you thought I was going to say music or headphones, didn’t you? In all fairness, you are correct). This guy loves to listen to music; on his bike, on a run, in his room. He spends much of his day with noise entering his ears.

But teenage boys aren’t the only ones, are they? In the car, the kitchen, the office and even where we shop, we are surrounded by noise. We listen to music, podcasts, and talk radio. We turn on the news and morning shows as background sound while we dress, cook, and clean. In the midst of all this racquet, how can we expect to hear God? Ananias is described as “a devout observer of the law and highly respected by all the Jews living there” (Acts 22:12). He sought God, and God spoke to him and used him. While I realize Ananias didn’t have radio and TV to clutter his day, I know there were plenty of other clamorous distractions. And yet in the midst of it all, he kept himself in a position that when God spoke, he immediately replied,

“Yes, Lord.”

Let us be people who in the middle of all the commotion, are willing to listen above the noise and respond, “Yes, Lord” when He speaks.

God, speak to me. Make me quick to listen and quick to obey. Help me turn off the noise and be still before You. Amen.

April 1

By 365 Devotions

First Responders

“Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you and will rescue you,” declares the Lord (Jeremiah 1:8).

Scripture: Jeremiah 1:4-10

Song: “Mighty to Save”

Paramedics, firefighters, police officers. These are the people who run toward tragedy, while the rest of us hightail it the other way. They are known as “first responders” because they are the first to come when catastrophe strikes. They put their lives on the line in order to save, retrieve, and rescue others. They offer medication, safe transport, protection, and help to all who call.

In today’s verse we are told that we do not need to be afraid, because God is with us and will rescue us. The verse does not say, God will prevent anything bad from happening to us. It does not say we will never get sick, or hurt, or be in danger. It does promise, however, that when we need rescuing, He will be there. He is the ultimate first responder. He is ready to offer whatever is needed to all who call on Him: To the hurt—He offers hope; To the sick— healing; To the lonely—comfort; and to the terrified—peace.

When you are in need, call to the one who always hears, always cares, and always responds. He will be with you and He will rescue you.

Father God, thank You for hearing me when I call, and coming to my rescue. Thank You that I do not have to be afraid. Thank You for always responding. Amen.

April 1–7. Kim Biasotto lives in Wilmington, Delaware, with her wonderful husband. Her goal in writing and speaking is to inspire others not simply to exist—but to thrive.

March 31: Called to Follow (Matthew 4:12-22)

By Teacher Tips

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

Download the “New Directions” activity here. Make copies for every class member. Follow the instructions on the handout.

Answers might include:

  • Before: The people were living in darkness
  • After: They have seen a great light
  • Before: John the Baptist was free to preach and baptize
  • After: John was imprisoned
  • Before: Jesus had no disciples
  • After: Jesus began by calling His first four disciples
  • Before: Jesus lived in Nazareth
  • After: Jesus made His home in Capernaum
  • Before: Simon, Andrew, James, and John spent their days fishing on the Sea of Galilee
  • After: These men followed Jesus and spent their days fishing for men

To encourage personal application:

With the class, brainstorm a list of the times and ways in which the learners were called into a whole new direction. Brainstorm a second list of current new directions they’re considering. Ask how these calls have challenged and strengthened their faith. How might these new directions affect their future callings?

Say, “No matter what directions we find ourselves traveling, Jesus always calls us to trust and follow Him.”

In the World–March 31, 2019

By "In the World"

Download “In the World” for March 31 here.

FOLLOWING THE PARTY LINE . . .

 In May 2017, Robert Mueller was named special counsel in a widely publicized US investigation. A summary of Mueller’s report was made public last Sunday. The report found no collusion between Russia and the 2016 Trump election campaign. This outcome infuriated some and delighted others. Reactions pretty well followed political party lines. Even well-meaning Christians are divided over whether the investigation was a political “witch hunt” or a coverup of possibly illegal deeds.

. . . OR FOLLOWING JESUS?

When Jesus called the four fishermen of Galilee to follow Him, His call was divisive too. He asked these two sets of brothers to leave their families, their jobs, and their homes and throw in with this itinerant rabbi. It’s possible that the families didn’t appreciate having their primary wage-earners taken away from their work. Evidently, these men were able to resolve at least some of the dissension and became followers of Christ (see Mark 1:29). No matter where we stand politically, Christians can be united in making Jesus our highest priority and seeking to love at all times.

  1. How can Christians avoid creating dissension in the church (or online) over political hot topics, such as the Mueller investigation?
  2. Why do you think Matthew places Jesus’ call to repentance (4:17) in the same context as His call to follow Him (4:19)?
  3. Does the way in which you discuss political and social issues indicate that you are a follower of Jesus? If yes, in what way? If not, what do you need to change?

March 24: Called to Repent (Luke 19:1-10)

By Teacher Tips

To begin the session:

After all class members have arrived, discuss the following questions. How far are you willing to go to find something you’ve lost? If you answer, “It depends,” explain the factors that determine how far you’re willing to go and what price you’re willing to pay to bring it back to you.

What’s something you’ve looked for that other people disapproved of you wanting? For example, what if you didn’t know you were in a vegan restaurant and you asked the server if they had good hamburgers? How did it feel to go against what others wanted you to do?

What’s something you’ve wanted despite the fact that wanting it gave people the wrong idea? For instance, people working to rescue girls out of sex trafficking in other countries often enter the brothels posing as customers (so they can identify the girls to be rescued by law enforcement). What if someone who didn’t know that you were working with a rescue agency saw you go inside the brothel and assumed you were paying for a prostitute? Could that possibility make someone have second thoughts about helping? Why or why not?

Would you ever pursue something even though people might get the wrong idea about what you are doing and even if they assumed something other than what you have in your heart?

Lead into Bible study by saying, “What Jesus did in our Bible passage today made people assume He was condoning the sin that a man was committing.”

To encourage personal application:

Download the “How Far Would You Go?” activity here. Make copies for every class member. Give them these instructions: “The more we love someone, the higher the price and risk we’re willing to pay to bring them back if they get lost or put in danger. On the left side of the chart, write the names or categories of people you would go to these different lengths to save.”

What cost was Jesus willing to pay to seek and save Zacchaeus when he was lost? What is a situation in your life where you have (or have not) been willing to pay the price to reach out to someone even though (or because) people thought you were endorsing sin? Who is someone in your life now who is searching for meaning in their life, and in what way could you go one step further to seek and to save him or her?

In the World–March 24, 2019

By "In the World"

Download “In the World” for March 24 here.

THE PAIN OF PAYING TAXES

On April 15, our 2018 income tax returns and payments will be due. Does anyone actually love paying taxes? We all use and appreciate the public services and other benefits our taxes pay for, but we know there’s much waste and we hate to see our tax dollars going to causes we don’t agree with. Every April, the call arises for a reduction to taxation, an end to taxation, or serious amendments to the tax system. In the end, most of us will grumble about it all . . . and then pay up.

A TAX-COLLECTOR’S CHANGE OF HEART

We don’t know whether Jesus said anything to Zacchaeus regarding the sinful way he went about his job. However, it is clear from Zacchaeus’s response that Jesus’ words or actions pricked the chief tax collector’s conscience regarding his conduct. From what we know about the way Rome collected its taxes, we are safe in saying that Zacchaeus’s approach to his job was to enrich himself, regardless of how it affected the poor and powerless.

  1. Do you think the American system of taxation is more fair than Rome’s was? Why or why not?
  2. On one occasion, Jesus answered a question about paying taxes to Caesar by saying we should give to “Caesar” what is due (Mark 12:17). How does this apply to Christians today—in the realm of taxation and beyond?
  3. What does Zacchaeus’s extravagant example of repentance say about how we should show repentance? Can repentance be real without a tangible demonstration of it? Explain your response.

—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 fo the use of one church only.

In the World–March 17, 2019

By "In the World"

Download “In the World” for March 17 here.

NONE DESERVE FORGIVENESS . . .

There’s a lot of sin in the news. For example, a rash of politicians have recently felt the need to apologize for past actions and statements that were not in keeping with today’s politically correct stance on now-sensitive issues. Where harm has been done, it’s understandable that some may press for accountability, but there’s a danger of causing more harm in the process. There’s also a trend in social media toward so-called “cancel culture”—stopping books from being sold or TV shows from being aired because someone feels offended. There seems to be a vigilante culture looking to convict and carry out punishment, and there is very little talk about forgiveness.

. . . BUT IT’S OFFERED ANYWAY

How different was the father in Jesus’ parable (See Luke 15:11-24)! Both of his sons disappointed him. Neither one deserved forgiveness. However, the father’s love was greater than his sons’ offenses. The parable speaks powerfully to our relationship with our heavenly Father.

  1. Should we punish past actions or attitudes that were once considered acceptable behavior? Why or why not?
  2. Do you correct (or “call out”) someone who is acting or speaking in a way that offends you? What might be some Christlike ways to do so?
  3. Which of the characters in Jesus’ parable do you relate to most? Do you see yourself in more than one of them? In what ways?

—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.

In the World–March 10, 2019

By "In the World"

Download “In the World” for March 10 here.

IN MEMORIAM

On Saturday, March 2, our dear friend and colleague Jim Eichenberger died unexpectedly from complications following emergency surgery. Jim was a valued member of the Standard Publishing editorial team for many years. Editing “In the World” was one of the ways he served the Lord. He said “Yes” to the call of Jesus and followed willingly wherever the Lord led him.

Whether you knew Jim for years or only minutes, you were touched by his humor, his intelligence, and his generosity. Jim was extremely passionate . . . about Jesus, studying and knowing Scripture, loving his family (and bragging on his kids and grandkids), and cheering for the Chicago Cubs. Jim cared about the purpose of his work, the people he was working alongside, and those who ultimately would read his work. Jim never ran out of ideas or energy, but he would take mental breaks, whipping out his harmonica to play a whimsical tune.

When Jesus began calling His disciples, His simple invitation was “Come, follow me.” They knew not where their decision to follow would take them, nor did they know the kind of sacrifices they would endure. However, in that moment, their lives changed—and history began to change too. So it is with Jim and with all of us who follow the Lord’s call. May Jim’s example of faithfulness to his calling be a challenge to us all.

  1. What place does your faith have in your reaction to news of a friend or loved one’s death? Does a sudden death such as Jim’s change the equation? Explain.
  2. When a person such as Jim is suddenly taken in the prime of life, some people might question God’s fairness. How do you answer them?
  3. How does the radical decision of the disciples to follow Jesus challenge you in answering His call in your life?

—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.