Category

“In the World”

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

 

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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?

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.

In the World—March 3, 2019

By "In the World"

Download In the World for March 3 here.

SEEKING ATTENTION?

On January 29, TV actor Jussie Smollett reported that he had been physically attacked on the streets of Chicago. Smollett claimed that two men draped him with a noose, cursed him with racial and homosexual slurs, and gave him the impression that they were supporters of President Trump.  The media immediately ran with this story, often commenting that the attack illustrated an increase in intolerance during the past two years. The actor, once known to relatively few, was thrust into the spotlight.

RECEIVING DETENTION

But soon the story took an unexpected turn. The Chicago Police Department thoroughly investigated the matter and arrested Smollett! Police announced that Smollett had perpetrated a hoax. Evidence surfaced that the actor paid the attackers with a personal check for $3,500 and gave them the script for the slurs. The Department further alleged that Smollett’s motive was to advance his career and to fight intolerance. If this is indeed the case, it seems that a case for tolerance would have better been made by a life of quiet service rather than by seeking fame.

  1. At first, this incident was reported as evidence that the election of President Trump in 2016 encouraged those who harbored prejudices to act out with violence. As evidence mounts that Smollett perpetrated a hoax, how has it affected your attitudes about the media, politics, and law enforcement?
  2. In our text today, Jesus said that those seeking to exalt themselves will, in the end, be humiliated. Tell about a time when you found that to be true.
  3. We would all like the work of our church and the power of Jesus to be exalted in our community. What does this text seem to prescribe as the best way of accomplishing this?

   —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—February 24, 2019

By "In the World"

Download In the World for February 24 here.

PREYED UPON

Travis Kauffman has become famous recently. On February 4, he was running on a mountain trail in Colorado when he was attacked by a mountain lion. Before he knew it, the 50-pound cat had locked its jaws around the arm of the lanky 5-foot-10, 150-pound Kauffman. The 31-year-old runner fought back and eventually suffocated the animal by putting his foot on its neck. When recounting the incident for the press, Kaufman recalled that his first reaction when attacked was trying to protect his face and crying out in sort of a “barbarian yell.”

PRAYING WHEN PREYED UPON

The Psalmist speaks of crying out in a different way when preyed upon. His prayer of praise and trust in God acknowledges that God will enable us to trample on the lion and serpent. Kauffman responded by yelling. The Psalmist reacted with faith in God who can protect and deliver. Kauffman recalled that the experience taught him to “have awareness of the environment.” The Psalmist encourages us to remember that our environment includes a mighty God!

  1. How can Kauffman’s experience with the lion be an allegory for our lives? Describe a situation in which you felt you were being violently and unexpectedly attacked.
  2. How can you become more aware of your environment—situations that can put you in danger? How can trust in God help you fend off an ambush from the Tempter in such situations?
  3. How do the promises in verses 11 to 16 strengthen your trust in God?

—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—February 17, 2019

By "In the World"

Download In the World for February 17 here.

THE POWER OF NATURE

In the past weeks, we’ve continued to see the power of nature in a weeks-long weather pattern. Heavy rains and massive mudslides have plagued California. A polar vortex has created blizzards and record deep freeze temperatures in the Upper Midwest and the Eastern U.S. Ice storms have struck the Midwest and South. When extreme weather brings havoc-creating conditions accompanied by massive destruction of property, insurance companies call these events “acts of God.”

THE POWER OF GOD

Most of us would argue that God should not be blamed for these highly destructive events. After all, human decisions are often the immediate reason for the accidents and other calamities associated with the weather. Regardless of how we might argue those issues, today’s text presents a different sort of evidence of God’s power. God is the Creator of the natural world. But he is also the powerful Restorer of the human spirit and the One who blesses those who revere him.

  1. In what ways have you experienced (and expressed praise for) the evidence of God’s creative power in the natural world? How do you answer those who turn against God because of the existence of natural evil?
  2. Tell the class of a time when you have said to someone (as the psalmist did), “Let me tell you about what God has done for me”? Give the class an example of how God has “kept your feet from slipping.”
  3. In what respect do you see God “watching the nations”? What does this phrase mean to you?

 —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—February 10, 2019

By "In the World"

Download In the World for February 10 here.

A NOT-SO-SUPER BOWL

The Super Bowl elicits an almost religious devotion season after season. Advertisers willingly pay an average $5.25 million for a 30-second commercial to reach rabid football fans. A lot of superlatives are used to describe the game: the bestteams in football, the most talentedplayers in the game, the funniestTV commercials, etc. Nevertheless, the most common superlative given to last Sunday’s Super Bowl LIII was “one of the most boringin Super Bowl history.” At the end of the third quarter, the score was still only 3-to-3. Post-game TV ratings were at a 10-year low for the game.

SEARCHING FOR SUPERLATIVES

When the Psalmist describes the Lord in today’s text, he searches for appropriate superlatives. Unable to find one that effectively expresses God’s greatness, the Psalmist uses the superb character of the city of Jerusalem as a means of declaring God’s glory. Jerusalem is more “super” than any other shrine or location because it is the physical place where God makes himself present to the people of Israel. Thus, the metaphor expresses the superlative nature of Israel’s God.

  1. What, if anything, does the cost of a Super Bowl commercial suggest to you regarding our culture’s values? In what way is a sporting event a way of describing what our culture values?
  2. What contemporary image would you use to describe the glory of God? Explain. Does God have a “holy mountain” today? Explain your answer.
  3. What dangers do you see, if any, in thinking of a specific place (such as a church building or shrine) as the place where God dwells?

—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—February 3, 2019

By "In the World"

Download In the World for February 3 here.

SETTING ASIDE THE PAST

Partisan wrangling led to the longest federal government shutdown in our nation’s history. It finally came to an end last week—at least for a few days. The president and the Congress agreed to give themselves until February 15 to work out a deal that will keep the government in operation after that. The question is whether our representatives in the House, the Senate, and the White House can move past the invectives and posturing that have characterized their political shouting matches for so long.

LOOKING TO THE FUTURE

Putting the past behind is hard for us. We see it in the political divide that caused the government shutdown. We see it in the cultural divide over poverty, race, gender, and so many other issues. For Paul, he once was separated from the church because of his strict adherence to religious ritual. He learned, that although his past accomplishments in Judaism were significant, his future lay in his relationship with Jesus.

  1. How would you, as a Christian citizen, advise our representatives in Washington to move forward from the current impasse? What shared hopes for the future could convince both sides to put the past aside?
  2. What place does personal, corporate, or even religious pride play in keeping us tethered to the past? What challenges to leave the past behind have you encountered? How did you overcome them?
  3. When a church or Sunday School class experiences a decline in membership, what help in facing the future does today’s text provide? Considering such a situation, suggest some practical steps for trusting in God’s righteousness rather than in our own.

—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—January 27, 2019

By "In the World"

Download In the World for January 27 here.

“THERE’S NO ‘I’ IN ‘TEAM’”

Coaches tell their players, “There’s no ‘I’ in ‘team’.” In other words, no matter how valuable any one player may be, the goal is for the team to excel. Nevertheless, one individual’s performance canmake the difference between winning and losing. This may have been the case when officials failed to call pass interference on an L.A. Rams player in last Sunday’s NFC playoff game. Very near the game’s end, the New Orleans Saints were closing in on the goal line when a Rams defender interfered with a pass reception that could had given the Saints the winning touchdown. Officials failed to make the call. The Rams went on to win in overtime and are now headed to Super Bowl LIII. The Rams player later admitted he committed a foul and an official admitted that he missed the call.

THERE IS AN ‘I’ IN ‘CHRISTLIKE’”

During the uncertain time of his imprisonment, Paul wrote to the church in Philippi. The unity of the church, according to Paul, did not depend on his situation, but rather on the extent that believers followed the example of Jesus. Sometimes life’s rules seem not to have been fairly enforced and our lives take a grievous turn. Do we then shift from being a loyal team player to focusing on our own needs? Or do we take a more Christlike approach and subjugate our personal satisfaction to the greater good of what God may be doing?

  1. A missed call in the NFC playoff game may have had great consequences. As Christ followers, what can we learn from that? How have we learned that life is not always fair?
  2. If there is such a thing as a superstar Christian, we would have to consider Paul to be one! But Paul refused to be bitter about the unjust circumstances of his imprisonment and encouraged the church at Philippi to be other-centered rather than self-centered. What was the basis of his reasoning?
  3. In what ways does our culture encourage us to think, “It’s all about me”? What helps you resist temptations toward selfishness and conceit?

—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—January 20, 2019

By "In the World"

Download In the World for January 20 here.

IMMOBILIZED BY WINTER STORMS

Heavy rains drenched mudslide-prone California hillsides last weekend at the same time as a fierce blizzard was sweeping through the Midwest. As the snowstorm moved toward the east coast, it left nearly two feet of snow in its wake along with many fatalities, thousands of collisions and multitudes of drivers stranded on snowy and icy roads. In many states, schools and businesses were forced to close. Many people tried to lay up food and supplies before they would be forced to hole up in their homes, awaiting normalcy to return. More stormy weather was predicted for this weekend.

RESPONDING TO THE STORMS OF LIFE

Could any possible good be mixed in with the problems caused by such severe weather? Centuries earlier, the apostle Paul wrote to the Philippians about figurative storms he was weathering in his life. He had developed the grace to see that, regardless of what harm might come to him, others could benefit from it. The trials he faced were part of the process that God was using to mature him spiritually.

  1. When the “blizzards” of life make your personal plans grind to a halt, how do you make something good out of the situation?
  2. Tell the class of a time when the Spirit of Christ worked in you, helping you to see his provision for yourself or someone else.
  3. Has someone for whom you have prayed told you of the blessing your prayers have been to them? Explain.

—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—January 13, 2019

By "In the World"

Download In the World for January 13 here.

THE GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN

The newly Democrat-controlled House of Representatives is at odds with the White House. A partial federal government shutdown is one result. The media make the stalemate appear to be all about funding the barrier the President wants to complete along America’s southern border. That’s surely a part of it, but as with most things political, the real issue is power. The ones being hurt by loss of income or government services and potential victims of an insecure border are the real pawns in the game.

A MORAL SHUTDOWN

James gets to the heart of the issues that divide America politically (and in most other areas of life as well). Acting purely out of self-interest is the culprit. We quarrel with one another, each seeking what we want. According to James, when our desires run counter to what others want, a brawl can be the result. Usually the fight is metaphorical as it is currently in the government, but sometimes it becomes physical. People get hurt either way.

  1. Do you agree with the premise that the basic struggle in Washington is over who has the power? Why or why not?
  2. In your experience, does the description James gives explain what struggles in the church are usually about? Explain. What about conflicts at home or on the job?
  3. What is your personal strategy as a Christian for seeing that pride does not become a factor in your relationships?

 —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—January 6, 2019

By "In the World"

Download In the World for January 6 here.

A LESSON FROM A SHOOTING

Brendan Kelly is a 22-year-old Marine from Thousand Oaks, California. This week he flies to Afghanistan for his first tour of duty. He was at the concert in Las Vegas in 2017 when a gunman massacred 59 people. He was also at the bar in Thousand Oaks on November 7 when another gunman killed 12 people. Two of the dead were among Kelly’s closest friends. To memorialize them, he had their names tattooed on his back. He also wears a tattoo with the words spoken by a friend as they left Vegas: “In this game of life, no one makes it out alive.”

APPLYING THE LESSON

Standing on the threshold of the new year, it’s good to be reminded of the fact that none of us will “make it out alive.” That is today’s biblical reminder. Obedience to God should be first on our daily agenda. Love for others and faithfulness to scriptural teaching should be the defining characteristics of our lives. The importance of heeding this lesson is increased by the wickedness about us in the world, including society’s increasing disdain for truth.

  1. Is the tattoo on Brendan Kelly’s back simply fatalism, or is there a spiritual truth contained in it? Explain.
  2. Does prayer guarantee that we will be spared from the works of evil people? Why or why not?
  3. How does “walking in the truth” look in your daily life? How do you test ideas to see if they are deceptive?

—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—December 30, 2018

By "In the World"

Download In the World for December 30 here.

UNCONSTITUTIONAL?

U.S. District Judge Reed O’Connor has ruled that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is unconstitutional after Congress repealed the provision that individuals must buy health insurance or pay a penalty. Critics of the ruling say it may negatively affect insurance rates and the stock market. A common concern voiced is that altering or abolishing the ACA puts those with preexisting conditions (often falsely equated with chronic conditions) in peril. The ruling will surely be appealed to a higher court. America is still debating whether we are doing enough to provide health care for all who need it.

UNCOMFORTABLE?

Jesus said God’s judgment will be based on whether we have fed and clothed the needy, cared for the sick, visited the imprisoned, and done other acts of mercy. If we are honest, many of us have trouble with Jesus’ words. They call attention to our lack of enthusiasm for showing concern for the less fortunate in society.

  1. Do Jesus’ words indicate we shall be judged on our works? Explain how what he says can be reconciled with what the apostle Paul says about justification by faith (Romans 5:1,2).
  2. Do you think the actions of the average Christian indicate that we take Jesus seriously? Why or why not? Assisting which type of need Jesus speaks of challenges you the most? Why?
  3. What excuses do we sometimes hear for not performing the acts of mercy Jesus speaks of? How might Jesus respond to our excuses? How does God’s judgment mesh with his love?

—Charles R. Boatman

www.standardlesson.com/category/in-the-world

Copyright © 2018 by Standard Publishing, part of the David C Cook family. All rights reserved.

Each download is for the use of one church only.

In the World—December 23, 2018

By "In the World"

Download In the World for December 23 here.

AWAITING A ROYAL BIRTH

The American press seems as fascinated with births to the British royal family as the British are, even though Americans have no royalty as such. Prince Harry and Princess Meghan recently announced the expected birth of their first child in Spring 2019.The tabloid press and the Internet are heating up just as they did when Prince William and Princess Kate were awaiting each of their three children.

ANTICIPATING A DIVINE BIRTH

In contrast to the above, when Jesus was born, most people seem to have been unaware of and unconcerned with the birth of Jesus. However, one man was different from the rest. Simeon waited with great anticipation for the coming of the Messiah. In fact, God promised him he would live until the divine pregnancy was completed. When Simeon finally saw the anticipated Child, his life’s great hope was fulfilled, and he could die in peace.

  1. What makes people so interested in royal births, even in America?
  2. Why do you think God singled out Simeon for the promise the Holy Spirit made to him? How was Simeon’s prophecy to Mary and Joseph fulfilled? Do God’s blessings always come with “strings attached”? Explain.
  3. What hope do you have which, if fulfilled, would satisfy your deepest longings? Explain. Do you see any parallels between ancient unconcern for Jesus’ coming and the way Christmas is celebrated today? Explain.

—Charles R. Boatman

www.standardlesson.com/category/in-the-world

Copyright © 2018 by Standard Publishing, part of the David C Cook family. All rights reserved.

Each download is for the use of one church only.

In the World—December 16, 2018

By "In the World"

Download In the World for December 16 here.

PRAISE FOR THE DEAD

Just over a week ago, many of us watched the memorial service for George H. W. Bush, the forty-first president of the United States. As is customary on such occasions, those who spoke praised President Bush. They spoke of his dedication to principle, his humility, his service to his country, and his faith in God. We tend to discount such remembrances somewhat, because we know that they often stretch the truth a bit—even while we secretly hope that our friends will do the same for us at our own funerals!

PRAISE FOR THE LIVING GOD

How different are the praises which David, the psalmist, offers for the living God! God is completely worthy of the superlatives David uses to describe the goodness and greatness of God. Compared to the temporary nature of our lives, God is not bound by time. Thus, God is the eternal One who blesses us physically and spiritually, both now and for eternity.

  1. What are the pros and cons of praising people at their funerals? Are we wrong to hope people will remember us kindlier than we deserve? Why or why not?
  2. In what ways have you experienced God’s goodness in the terms David uses? In what ways have you found that some of the items David mentions are not as true in your life as you wish they were? How do you reconcile the difference between your own experiences and what David says?
  3. Restate in your own words what David says about God’s goodness so that an unbeliever might understand.

—Charles R. Boatman

www.standardlesson.com/category/in-the-world

Copyright © 2018 by Standard Publishing, part of the David C Cook family. All rights reserved.

Each download is for the use of one church only.

In the World—December 9, 2018

By "In the World"

Download In the World for December 9 here.

HOPING TO EVADE THE LAW

Two weeks ago, the long-awaited caravan of Central American immigrants reached the San Diego/Tijuana (Mexico) border crossing. For weeks, they had been moving northward toward an imagined promised land. They found the border checkpoint closed in both directions. For several days now, 6,000 refugees have waited for a resolution of their situation. They have been living in makeshift tent villages, sometimes in cold and driving rain. Hoping to evade the law, some of the would-be immigrants broke past Mexican federal police officers and ran toward the wall. U.S. immigration officers fired tear gas, driving them back. Some Americans see the issue in simple terms: legal vs. illegal immigration. Others also see it simply, but from a different perspective: compassion for refugees vs. lack of humanitarian concern.

COMMANDED TO KEEP THE LAW

When the Israelites approached their Promised Land, Joshua unequivocally made plain to them God’s requirement that they obey his law. At the same time, he reminded them that they were immigrants coming into the land God was giving them and that prosperity there was contingent upon their obedience.

  1. Do you see the issue at the border in terms of legal vs. illegal or as compassion vs. unconcern? Why? On what biblical principles do you base your view?
  2. Joshua predicated blessing in the Promised Land based on Israel’s obedience to God’s law. Was this a matter of faith or works? Explain. How does the issue of obedience apply to our relationship with God through Christ?
  3. Does God’s blessing indicate his approval of how we are living? Why or why not? Does teaching our children the way of the Lord guarantee their later faithfulness? Explain.

   —Charles R. Boatman

www.standardlesson.com/category/in-the-world

Copyright © 2018 by Standard Publishing, part of the David C Cook family. All rights reserved.

Each download is for the use of one church only.

In the World—December 2, 2018

By "In the World"

Download In the World for December 2 here.

SEPARATION OF POWERS

The latest example of the perennial tension between the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of the Federal government hit the news last week.  President Trump publicly criticized what he called “Obama judges” in the federal judicial system. In response, Chief Justice John Roberts openly rebuked the president, asserting the necessity of an independent judiciary. This kind of infighting is nothing new. Not many alive can remember President Franklin Roosevelt’s frustrations with the Supreme Court for its rulings against the New Deal legislation he was promoting. FDR attempted to pack the Court with six additional justices more in line with his thinking.

UNIFICATION OF POWER

Just as the Constitution is discussed and interpreted by our system of courts, the people of Israel were commanded to discuss among themselves the meaning of God’s law in their lives. However, this discussion of the law was not to be done in a way that negated what God had said. God was Lawmaker, Judge, and King. His people were to obey his law regardless of their opinion about it or interpretation of it.

  1. What values do you see in the separation of governmental powers? In what ways are our Constitution and God’s law alike? How do they differ?
  2. How are the instructions in Deuteronomy 6:1-9 applicable to the practice of our faith? Which of these commands should be taken literally, and which are meant to be taken figuratively?
  3. How does teaching God’s commandments to our children tie in with loving God with our whole being?

   —Charles R. Boatman

www.standardlesson.com/category/in-the-world

Copyright © 2018 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 25, 2018

By "In the World"

Download In the World for November 25 here.

NOT WHAT THEY BARGAINED FOR

For decades, people streamed into the aptly (or so it seemed) named town of Paradise in California’s Sierra foothills. The beauty of the hills beckoned people to build their homes far into the heavily wooded countryside. Two weeks ago, strong, dry winds made the drought-stricken land a tinderbox. When the inevitable fire started, it could not be stopped. Scores of people died as their heavenly surroundings in Paradise rapidly turned into purgatory! Being caught in the most devastating fire in California history was not what Paradise residents had bargained for.

MORE THAN THEY BARGAINED FOR

Several of the people in today’s lesson got more than they bargained for. Formerly childless Rachel was blessed with a son. Laban, a schemer who took advantage of his son-in-law, prospered greatly as Jacob cared for his flocks. And Jacob, whom we’re tempted to think of as having been a schemer all his life, prospered even more than Laban. All of them got blessings they had not expected.

  1. Why do you think this California town was named Paradise? Do you think that people were more likely to thank God for the blessings of the town of Paradise at its best or question God for the destruction of it in the past weeks? What does that say about human nature?
  2. How do you determine whether a blessing or disaster is of divine origin or due to human activity? Does it matter? Explain.
  3. How much is coincidence a factor in life? Or are all the things that happen to us the result of God’s actions? What experiences in your life indicate that God was actively working for your benefit?

—Charles R. Boatman

www.standardlesson.com/category/in-the-world

Copyright © 2018 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 18, 2018

By "In the World"

Download In the World for November 18 here.

PROMISES, PROMISES

The 2018 midterm elections have come and gone. Americans decided to give Democrats control of the House of Representatives as Republicans retained a majority in the Senate. Shifts in power took place all down the line through state and local elections. Numerous ballot measures required citizens to evaluate issues which would affect them in the near future. Party affiliation determined the votes of many, but the promises of candidates and proponents of referendum issues were a major factor for many voters. For the next two years, we will live with the consequences of those promises and our decisions about them.

A QUESTION OF KEEPING THEM

As we all know, campaign promises are not always kept. We also know that we don’t always keep the promises we make to God in times of stress or distress. Jacob’s dream caused him to promise allegiance to God if he were blessed by God. To help him remember the experience, he built an altar at that place.

  1. Why do so many people place little trust in political promises? Why are such promises made, and why are so many of them broken?
  2. Describe the turmoil occurring in Jacob’s life that preceded his encounter with God in this text. Why do so many people promise faithfulness to God in times of great emotion and not so much when life is going smoothly?
  3. Have you ever had a spiritual awakening such as Jacob experienced? What was your reaction to it? How did it change your life? What steps did you take to help you remember that experience?

—Charles R. Boatman

www.standardlesson.com/category/in-the-world

Copyright © 2018 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 11, 2018

By "In the World"

Download In the World for November 11 here.

A GAME OF MAKE-BELIEVE . . .

Two weeks ago was Hallowe’en, a day significant in church history. In 1517, on All Hallows Eve (as it was then called) Martin Luther made public a lengthy list of his theological grievances against the Roman Catholic Church. Since then, however, October 31 no longer has any religious significance for most people. For two-thirds of adults from ages 18 to 45, it’s party time with an average of $50 spent on costumes. An increasing number of adults are playing make-believe on Halloween, sometimes in costumes meant to be sensually alluring.

. . . AND ITS CONSEQUENCES

When Jacob deceived his father to gain the blessing of the birthright, he also engaged in a game of make-believe. He wore a costume that fooled his blind father into believing he was his older brother, Esau. This was no mere game. There were significant consequences for his family and for the Hebrew people for many generations to come. Animosity between the brothers would last for decades. Despite the deception, Jacob’s family line would become the one through which the Messiah would come.

  1. Dressing up for Halloween is widely viewed as an activity of harmless fun for children. Do you think the same is true for adult involvement in masquerade activities? In what ways might adults and children view wearing a costume differently? What criteria might a believer use to judge whether a costume is appropriate for a child? for an adult? Explain.
  2. Try to define the terms masquerade, dressing up, cosplay (“costume play” at a comic book convention, for example), and impersonation. Which best describes what occurred in today’s Bible text? Explain. Why do you think God allowed Isaac’s blessing to stand?
  3. In what kind of figurative masquerades or impersonations do Christians participate? What blessings might we be seeking by doing so? What can be the consequences?

—Charles R. Boatman

www.standardlesson.com/category/in-the-world

Copyright © 2018 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 4, 2018

By "In the World"

Download In the World for November 4 here.

SOCIETAL STRIFE

Sometimes our strife is political. Recently, over the course of several days, a radical partisan sent bombs to numerous members of the political left around the country. Sometimes, racial or ethnic prejudice prompts someone to violence. This occurred when a gunman killed eleven people last Saturday in a Jewish synagogue in Pittsburgh. And this week in North Carolina, a bullying incident in a school hallway escalated into a fight which left one student dead.

FAMILIAL STRIFE

God’s prediction to Rebekah concerning the strife which would characterize the lives of her sons proved tragically true. From the womb, they struggled against each other, and it continued throughout much of their lives. When members of the same family cannot get along, it should not surprise us that members of the human family-at-large experience strife also.

  1. What do you think tips people “over the edge” so that they commit the kind of violence we have seen recently? Does the history of interpersonal strife since biblical times tell you that we can expect no better of humanity? Explain your answer.
  2. Did God’s prediction of the struggle between Jacob and Esau predetermine the course of their lives? Why or why not?
  3. When you have struggled with another person, how did your faith help you to resolve the matter? How does being a Christian help you to prevent negative relationships with others?

—Charles R. Boatman

www.standardlesson.com/category/in-the-world

Copyright © 2018 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 28, 2018

By "In the World"

Download In the World for October 28 here.

A WEDDING PREVENTED

Jamal Khashoggi was a critic of the Saudi government—a fact that led to his self-imposed exile. Nevertheless, he entered the Saudi consulate in Turkey on October 2 to get the papers that would enable him to marry his fiancée, Hatice Cengiz. Khashoggi never left that Istanbul consulate. Evidence seems to be mounting that he was murdered at the embassy and his dismembered body secretly removed by Saudi officials. It took nearly three weeks for the Saudi government to explain his death. There are widespread doubts about the truth of the account.

A WEDDING ARRANGED

When Abraham’s servant arrived in Haran to arrange a marriage for Isaac, the servant was met with gracious hospitality. This was a significantly different welcome than Jamal Khashoggi received! And unlike Khashoggi’s posthumous departure from the Saudi consulate, Rebekah left her home freely, with the blessing of her family. There was one other difference. God’s hand was in what transpired with Rebekah.

  1. Jamal Khashoggi had fled his native Saudi Arabia, but chose to enter sovereign Saudi territory (their embassy in Turkey). Explain his reasons for doing so. Why do you think he would believe that the risk he took was worth it?
  2. What are some marriage customs in our culture that require risks—or at least leaving one’s comfort zones? Why do you believe taking chances for a future spouse is worth it? What part does a faith in God play for believers when they make such commitments?
  3. What do you think prompted Rebekah to accept the marriage offer and leave home for the rest of her life? Leaving home for a far country is a common thread in the story of Abraham and his family. Would you be willing to respond to the call those people received? Explain.

—Charles R. Boatman

www.standardlesson.com/category/in-the-world

Copyright © 2018 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 21, 2018

By "In the World"

Download In the World for October 21 here.

HOPING FOR RELEASE FROM PRISON

Andrew Brunson, a Christian pastor, has been imprisoned for two years in Turkey. He was charged with spying and aiding terrorists. Supporters have said the charges were without merit. Through an email campaign, they have encouraged American Christians to pray for Brunson’s release. Their hope was that this would put pressure on both American and Turkish governments to work toward setting him free. The President, Vice President, and several members of Congress have all become active in the cause. This pressure—and some accompanying incentives—resulted in Brunson’s release on October 11.

HOPE FOR RELEASE FROM CHILDLESSNESS

Sometimes our hope is rewarded only after a long wait. For Andrew Brunson, it was two years. For Abraham and Sarah, it was ten years. Sometimes we may give up hope, as Sarah apparently had. Her disbelieving laughter when divine messengers promised Abraham their long-hoped-for son would be born within a year indicates this. When she became pregnant a few months later, her hope surely began to grow. But perhaps even then, it might have seemed so surreal as to cause lingering doubts.

  1. Which, if either, do you think were more important in getting Brunson released: the prayers of Christians or the diplomatic efforts? Explain your answer.
  2. Some Christians seem to rely solely on prayer; others rely primarily on human activity. What would you say to Christians in either group to help them have a more balanced view?
  3. Does Sarah’s laughter indicate a lack of faith and/or hope? If your life circumstances were like hers, how would you have responded to the promise? Why?

—Charles R. Boatman

www.standardlesson.com/category/in-the-world

Copyright © 2018 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 14, 2018

By "In the World"

Download In the World for October 14 here.

A CHANGE IN PHILOSOPHICAL DIRECTION?

Brett Kavanaugh was confirmed as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court last week by the narrowest margin since Stanley Matthews was confirmed in 1881. Motivating the highly partisan Senate’s actions were the fears of some and the hopes of others that the Court will be moving in a new direction philosophically. Such a change may determine the kind of nation America will be in the future. The intensity of emotion involved in the matter was evident in angry statements made by many Senators and enraged demonstrations that took place as the hearings proceeded.

A CHANGE IN SPIRITUAL DIRECTION?

When God called Abram, he was also concerned about the future: What kind of world would this become if the sinful direction of humanity continued unchecked? Abram’s task would be to change the course of history by acting on his faith in God. He was called to father a new nation—a family which would grow into a worldwide people whose lives were characterized by faith.

  1. In a nation angrily divided over the views of what it should become, how should Christians act?
  2. What does Proverbs 15:1 suggest about how God wants us to behave in such circumstances? What part does praying for our leaders (2 Chronicles 7:14; 1 Timothy 2:1, 2) have in helping to turn our nation toward God?
  3. How does Abram’s response to God’s call challenge you to be more faith-filled? In what way have you answered God’s call to faithfully step out in a new direction in your life?

—Charles R. Boatman

www.standardlesson.com/category/in-the-world

Copyright © 2018 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 7, 2018

By "In the World"

Download In the World for October 7 here.

SAVED FROM THE WATER

An Air Niugini airliner crashed just off the Pacific island of Weno a week ago. During heavy rain and with low visibility, the plane fell short of the runway as it was landing on the small island in Micronesia. As the plane began to sink, local fishermen and other boatmen rushed to the site. An accident that could have brought death in the ocean had an unexpectedly happy ending. Forty-six passengers and the crew were saved; only one person was reported missing.

SAVED BY THE WATER

God told Noah to build a huge boat. In this ark, Noah and his family could be saved from the flood that was coming. Perhaps even more significant is the New Testament commentary on the event. Peter says that the eight people who took refuge in the ark were saved by means of the waters of the flood (1 Peter 3:20). By destroying the sinful society in which Noah’s family lived, the waters of the flood saved them from their culture’s path of self-destruction.

  1. The Micronesian plane crash was caused by a severe storm and an inability to see where the plane was heading. How do those two factors figuratively describe reasons for many societal problems today?
  2. Is the world less evil today than it was in Noah’s time? Why or why not? Why do you think God hasn’t acted more recently to destroy human wickedness as he did in the days of Noah?
  3. The culture of Noah’s day was completely corrupt, yet Noah stood out as righteous despite the unrighteousness all around him. Do Christians today offer the same contrast to culture as Noah did? Explain.

—Charles R. Boatman

www.standardlesson.com/category/in-the-world

Copyright © 2018 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—September 30, 2018

By "In the World"

Download In the World for September 30 here.

TWO PEOPLE SINNED

When Adam and Eve ate forbidden fruit, they set in motion a series of circumstances that still control the world. By disobeying God, they twisted their relationship with him and distorted their relationship with each other. Not only that, the whole creation was changed for the worse. Paradise became polluted with the effects of their disobedience. It’s apparent that what we see in the news daily is both a replication of that first sin in a myriad of forms and the consequences of it.

HOW MANY ARE SINNING NOW?

The confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh illustrate the point. Questions abound: Did a drunken 17-year-old Kavanaugh attack a classmate? Is now-university professor Christine Blasey-Ford either mistaken or lying about what happened long ago? What motivated Senator Feinstein to withhold the information in the professor’s letter until the hearings were all but over? Are Senators of both parties more interested in partisan power than in truth? Is the press selectively reporting the matter, each network from its own bias? When/if it’s a matter of “he said, she said,” how do any of us know what to believe?

  1. Thinking of any of the various scenarios that may play out, how do you think these hearings will affect future nominations for the Supreme Court? Explain.
  2. Supposing the behavior of both Kavanaugh and Blasey-Ford in the incident thirty-five years ago was as alleged, how does this relate to immature, impulsive decision-making in all lives?
  3. The existence of splintered relationships can certainly be seen in today’s partisan divides. How can we work to heal such divides rather than making them deeper?
  4. How does the sin of Adam and Eve affect us personally? In what ways is their sin like your sins and mine?

   —Charles R. Boatman

www.standardlesson.com/category/in-the-world

Copyright © 2018 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—September 23, 2018

By "In the World"

Download In the World for September 23 here.

ARTIFICIAL FAMILIES

Many childless couples have been enabled to have a family by fertility therapy. This process uses donated sperm or eggs and implants an embryo in a woman. Last week’s news raised a question about fertility therapy. DNA testing has revealed that 54 people who are now between 1 and 21 years of age are all related, having the same father—Donor #2757. One of them, Kianna Arroyo, is on a quest to contact her half-siblings in this artificial family. She says, “We have a connection, [but] it’s hard to explain.” It is hard to explain, since shared DNA is the only connection any of them have with one another.

NATURAL FAMILIES

When Eve was created, God began the process of bringing families into the world naturally. He told the first couple to “be fruitful and multiply,” and they followed the divine instructions. We have done so ever since. But the 20th century added new means to create families artificially. To be sure, not all natural families are pictures of familial bliss. Adam and Eve’s family certainly wasn’t. But Christians are challenged to strive for God’s ideal in family life.

  1. Is the process of fertility therapy in keeping with God’s intent? Why or why not? What limitations, if any, should be placed on the process?
  2. Do you believe that adoption is a better way to create a family than fertility therapy? Why or why not?
  3. What makes a family? Is it common DNA or some other factor or a combination of both?
  4. What was God’s purpose in creating the family? What can the church do to help families of every kind to fulfill God’s purpose?

In the World—September 16, 2018

By "In the World"

Download In the World for September 16 here.

NOT VERY GOOD

TheNew York Times reported last week that a highly-regarded doctor in the world of breast cancer research has committed a breach of ethics. He has published dozens of research articles in magazines like TheNew England Journal of Medicine, but has allegedly failed to report his connection to pharmaceutical companies that paid him millions of dollars to push their cancer-fighting drugs. The Times article said this is a common ethical failure, and it implied collusion between the industry, journals, and researchers.

VERY GOOD

When God brought human life into existence, he pronounced it “very good.” Sin turned that equation around and that verdict was no longer an apt description of human life. It is now apparent that even people who work in the noble field of trying to cure the diseases that came because of sin may not be as untainted as we would like them to be. The same can be said of people who work in every field. This includes ministry, as recent revelations of clergy sexual abuse are indicating.

  1. What problems can arise when a doctor fails to reveal his relationship to pharmaceutical companies? How can research be tainted by such a relationship?
  2. Collusion occurs when two or more people or groups who are supposed to be checking on each other secretly work together. What examples of collusion can you cite in other professions?
  3. What similar ethical temptations might affect us as individuals? How do you protect yourself from allowing self-interest to interfere with fulfilling ethical obligations?

—Charles R. Boatman

www.standardlesson.com/category/in-the-world

Copyright © 2018 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—September 9, 2018

By "In the World"

Download In the World for September 9 here.

TIME AND DEATH . . .

Two Americans died recently, one famous and the other scarcely known. John McCain, 81, was a Senator, honored Vietnam War veteran, and former presidential candidate. He was lauded by many at his funeral. Relatively few people had heard about Claire Wineland, an inspirational speaker. She was 60 years younger than McCain when she died at age 21 on Monday. She was one of 30,000 Americans who have cystic fibrosis, a terminal genetic disease. At age 13, she started Claire’s Place Foundation to assist families living with the disease. Claire became an inspirational speaker who said, “Life isn’t just about being happy. It’s about what you’re making of your life and whether you can find a deep pride in who you are and what you’ve given.”

. . . AND LIFE

John McCain survived some of the worst abuse that humans can administer. Claire Wineland fought valiantly against debilitating disease. Both clung tenaciously to God’s gift of life, but in the end, death won. When God began his creative work, a dead world came to life. The beings he created continue to be fruitful and multiply. Eventually, death comes to us all, but God’s sustaining power is still at work bringing us toward everlasting life.

  1. What do the deaths of McCain and Wineland at significantly different ages suggest to you about life and death? How do their responses to their trials speak to you?
  2. What does God’s revelation of his creative work in terms of time imply about our use of time?
  3. How do you show your appreciation for God’s gifts of life and time? What difficulties do you find in trying to use time effectively? Be specific.

—Charles R. Boatman

www.standardlesson.com/category/in-the-world

Copyright © 2018 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—September 2, 2018

By "In the World"

Download In the World for September 2 here.

NATURE’S DESTRUCTIVE FORCE

The island state of Hawai’i sits amid Earth’s largest expanse of water, the Pacific Ocean. Most of us think of Hawai’i as an idyllic place, but things changed last week when Hurricane Lane struck the islands. Eventually Lane was downgraded to a tropical storm, but three feet of rain fell in some places, bringing with it flash floods, landslides, and power failures. The harbor in Honolulu, the lifeline for most of the state’s commodities, was closed. Shortages of some goods were expected.

GOD’S CREATIVE POWER

Genesis begins by describing the whole earth covered with water. There is a brooding sense of an awesome power hovering over this vast expanse, about to do something that had never happened before. God caused land to rise out of the water and light to overwhelm the darkness. Instead of destroying everything in its path, this power was about to turn that primordial waste into a paradise more beautiful than the Hawai’i we usually picture in our mind’s eye. Bringing order from chaos is what God has been doing ever since.

  1. Does nature’s destructive power cause you to reflect on God’s creative power? Explain. How does the volcanic chain of islands that is Hawai’i help you appreciate God’s action in creating the world?
  2. What spiritually destructive forces do you see at work in the world today?
  3. How can Christians help bring order to the chaos of others’ lives, e.g., homelessness, poverty, or addictions? What other examples come to mind?

—Charles R. Boatman

www.standardlesson.com/category/in-the-world

Copyright © 2018 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—August 26, 2018

By "In the World"

Download In the World for August 26 here.

AN ANGRY AMERICA

Americans are deeply divided as we head toward the midterm elections that are two months away. The President is angry at his critics and much of the news media, and the same is true in reverse. Partisans are angry about the Mueller investigation into alleged collusion of the Russians in the 2016 election. The hearings passed the one-year mark this past week with some questioning whether justice will ever be served. A few people have been indicted, and some of them have admitted lying under oath. With all the shouting and charges/counter-charges being made, some people must be lying. Cynics would say everyone probably is!

A PEACEFUL PEOPLE

In contrast, Christians are to be a peaceful people. The apostle Paul tells us that we are to shun anger, lying, evil desires, greed, and other attitudes and behavior that can be summed up in the word, idolatry—placing anything else before God. We are to replace these vices with a gentle and humble spirit that promotes justice and peace in our relationships with others.

  1. Can you foresee a time when Americans will be less angry? What would it take to create such a change? How do the sins Paul names interfere with justice in society?
  2. In our conversations with other Christians who disagree with our political opinions, how do we practice the virtues Paul commands? Is it possible for the peace of Christ to rule in our hearts if we engage in heated arguments over socio-political issues? Explain.
  3. What means have you found helpful in controlling your earthly nature in the various ways it manifests itself?

—Charles R. Boatman

www.standardlesson.com/category/in-the-world

Copyright © 2018 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—August 19, 2018

By "In the World"

Download In the World for August 19 here.

LIGHTING FIRES

Wildfires have been burning in much of the country for weeks. The “Holy” fire in Southern California (named for the creek near which it started) burned out of control for more than a week. It has threatened several communities, forced thousands to evacuate from their homes and businesses, endangered lives and property, and covered the region with smoke and ash. Authorities have arrested the suspected arsonist who lives in one of several cabins in the area—the only cabin which did not burn. Police said the suspect was feuding with neighbors. Just before the fire he had sent an email saying, “this place will burn.”

FIGHTING FIRES

The fires of the human temper can be as damaging as physical fires, although sometimes in different ways. In today’s text, Paul offers us several principles which, if put into practice, will help us fight those fires so they don’t consume us and others. Two of those principles summarize all the rest: genuinely love others and overpower evil with good.

  1. If the charges against the accused arsonist are true, what are some possible explanations for his act?
  2. Is it possible that his estranged neighbors might have calmed the situation down before it reached this point? If so, how? Explain.
  3. Tell of an experience you have had in which you were able to overcome evil with good attitudes and/or behavior.
  4. Which of Paul’s instructions do you find easiest to practice? Why? Which gives you the most difficulty? How do you try to overcome it?

—Charles R. Boatman

www.standardlesson.com/category/in-the-world

Copyright © 2018 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—August 12, 2018

By "In the World"

Download In the World for August 12 here.

THE LEAST ARE LAST TO PROFIT

Poorly educated workers are traditionally the ones most affected by layoffs in a declining economy. They are also usually the last to be hired when the economy begins to recover. Last week’s report on job growth in July put the unemployment rate at historic lows. Of special interest was the fact that people without college educations were increasingly among those being hired in America’s burgeoning economy.

THE LEAST SHOULD BE FIRST ON A CHRISTIAN’S LIST

As usual, the politicians are arguing about who should get the glory for the strong economy. More important is what the Bible says about Christians’ responsibility to care for their fellow Christians who may be suffering from economic difficulties. The biblical concept of aid doesn’t depend on a growing economy to create jobs and thus lift people out of poverty. Rather, it relies on individual Christians to follow the example of Christ in giving of himself for the sake of others.

  1. Should Christians be concerned about who gets the credit (or blame) for what happens to the economy? Explain.
  2. Since governmental agencies provide (to some degree) a safety net for people caught in economic troubles, do we have the same obligation to help others today as Christians did in Paul’s time? Why or why not?
  3. Does your church have a program that ministers to those in need? If so, give an example of how it has helped someone. If your church doesn’t have such a program, is there a need for it, and how might you help to get it started? What are some factors that inhibit us from being generous, and how can they be overcome?

—Charles R. Boatman

 

http://www.standardlesson.com/downloads

Copyright © 2018 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—August 12, 2018

By "In the World"

Download In the World for August 12 here.

THE LEAST ARE LAST TO PROFIT

Poorly educated workers are traditionally the ones most affected by layoffs in a declining economy. They are also usually the last to be hired when the economy begins to recover. Last week’s report on job growth in July put the unemployment rate at historic lows. Of special interest was the fact that people without college educations were increasingly among those being hired in America’s burgeoning economy.

THE LEAST SHOULD BE FIRST ON A CHRISTIAN’S LIST

As usual, the politicians are arguing about who should get the glory for the strong economy. More important is what the Bible says about Christians’ responsibility to care for their fellow Christians who may be suffering from economic difficulties. The biblical concept of aid doesn’t depend on a growing economy to create jobs and thus lift people out of poverty. Rather, it relies on individual Christians to follow the example of Christ in giving of himself for the sake of others.

  1. Should Christians be concerned about who gets the credit (or blame) for what happens to the economy? Explain.
  2. Since governmental agencies provide (to some degree) a safety net for people caught in economic troubles, do we have the same obligation to help others today as Christians did in Paul’s time? Why or why not?
  3. Does your church have a program that ministers to those in need? If so, give an example of how it has helped someone. If your church doesn’t have such a program, is there a need for it, and how might you help to get it started? What are some factors that inhibit us from being generous, and how can they be overcome?

—Charles R. Boatman

http://www.standardlesson.com/downloads

Copyright © 2018 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—August 5, 2018

By "In the World"

Download In the World for August 5 here.

BEING JUDGES

Paul Manafort was then-candidate Trump’s campaign chairman in the 2016 election. He went on trial this week on charges of conspiracy, tax evasion, and bank fraud. Beneath the surface of those charges (to which Manafort has pleaded not guilty) lie the allegations by prosecutors that he worked as a paid advisor to the government of Ukraine which has ties to Russia. This may be relevant the Mueller investigation of alleged Russian involvement in the 2016 election. Manafort has already been judged by many people in the court of public opinion, and the president’s lawyer has speculated that President Trump might pardon Manafort, if he is convicted.

BEING JUDGED

All of us are guilty at times of being judges, often without complete knowledge of the facts. In today’s text, the apostle Paul reminds us that we can be guilty of the same kinds of sins for which we condemn others. This places us under God’s judgment. In a way, our judgmental attitudes show contempt for God’s grace, a factor which should lead us to repent of our own sins rather than to judge the sins of others.

  1. Do you think we are quicker to judge others who differ from us (religiously, politically, racially, or culturally) than those who are like us? Explain.
  2. Is “hypocrite” too strong a word for our tendency to judge others for sins like our own? Explain. How does judging others show contempt for God’s grace, as Paul says?
  3. What has helped you resist the temptation to show favoritism in your relationships with others?

—Charles R. Boatman

http://www.standardlesson.com/downloads

Copyright © 2018 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 29, 2018

By "In the World"

Download In the World for July 29 here.

OUTSIDERS TAKING OVER?

The 2016 election shifted the ground under both major political parties. Donald Trump’s victory caused a split in the Republican party, with many of its members disavowing him. On the other side of the aisle in Congress, fifty-three winners in the 2018 Democratic primaries have been outsiders challenging establishment incumbents. For example, the June primary in New York saw Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, an avowed Democratic socialist defeat Joseph Crowley, the number four Democrat in the House. Mainstream leaders in both parties are being replaced by a younger generation that is starting to take their places at the table.

OUTSIDERS DEFINITELY INVITED

It’s an axiom of human nature that the elite, the powerful, and the rich have always found ways to stay in control. When that control is threatened, the result can be anger, chaos, and even revolution. In Jesus’ parable, when the chosen guests refused the host’s invitation, the new invitees were people whom those invited first would have considered undesirable.

  1. Is the current phenomenon of outsiders challenging the political/cultural status quo something new, or has you seen it before? Explain. Have you ever seen similar struggles for control in the church? What happened?
  2. Should church fellowship be parallel to the great banquet of which Jesus spoke? . . . in what way?
  3. What lessons do you see in Jesus’ parable for the church today? What classes of people would be in the second group invited to the feast? Do you welcome outsiders into your congregation? Are there any changes that need to be made in this regard? Explain.

—Charles R. Boatman

http://www.standardlesson.com/downloads

Copyright © 2018 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 22, 2018

By "In the World"

Download In the World for July 22 here.

MEMBER OF A SMALL FRATERNITY

Modern modes of transportation enable us to speedily travel with ease from east to west and north to south. A week ago, President Trump had tea with Queen Elizabeth of England, giving him membership in a small fraternity which many people would be happy to join. This week, the president met with President Vladimir Putin of Russia, again a meeting of a small, elite group. This visit caused great “gnashing of teeth” from many sources. The media had a feast on their disagreements with Mr. Trump’s behavior and comments in his meetings with both leaders.

MEMBERS OF A WORLDWIDE FRATERNITY

When Jesus promised a great feast in heaven, he spoke of a few elite guests—the patriarchs and prophets of the Old Testament. But he also said that (without the need for modern technology) a great host of guests from all over the world would be present for the event. His promise should be reassuring to those of us who are “nobodies” that even though the world discounts our importance, God has reserved a place at his table for us.

  1. Why are people so interested in who gets to “have tea with the Queen,” so to speak? What does this tell us about the world’s values?
  2. Does the “narrow door” Jesus mentioned refer to limited access or the difficulty of entry, or both? Explain. On what basis will God refuse entry to “his house”?
  3. What is your reaction to knowing that you can have a place at God’s table? How can we be certain we will be invited?

 

—Charles R. Boatman

http://www.standardlesson.com/downloads

Copyright © 2018 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 15, 2018

By "In the World"

Download In the World for July 15 here.

PRAY AND NOT GIVE UP

On Wednesday in Thailand, twelve boys and their soccer coach were rescued after having been trapped nearly two miles into Tham Luang cave. They had been there since May 23, when storms flooded the cave after they entered it. At one point, rescue seemed to be impossible. The head coach (who had not entered the cave) said, “All I can do is to send my prayers and support to the children and rescuers.” Those were the sentiments of people around the world. None of the boys were swimmers, and the rescue involved a six-hour trip via a dangerous underwater route.

PRAY AND THANK GOD FOR ANSWERS

The widow in Jesus’ parable must have felt that her situation was also impossible. But what we don’t know is how God may manage an “impossible” situation and how he may work on the recalcitrant hearts of oppressors. Another question is how God may work on the hearts of those who believe in him.

  1. In what ways are prayers effective in crises such as the one in the cave in Thailand? Does the fact that the coach led the boys in Buddhist meditation rather than Christian prayer make a difference in your thinking? Explain.
  2. Have you ever been in “impossible” circumstances from which God rescued you? Explain.
  3. What makes it most difficult for you to “always pray and not give up?”
  4. How would you answer someone who says, “I no longer believe in God because I prayed, and my prayer wasn’t answered?”

—Charles R. Boatman

http://www.standardlesson.com/downloads

Copyright © 2018 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 8, 2018

By "In the World"

Download In the World for July 18 here.

 “UNJUST” AT THE HIGHEST LEVELS?

The furor over immigrant families has been building for several weeks, but it gained new heat last week with calls to abolish ICE, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency. Many are saying this, but Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s call got the most attention. She is a young activist who last week overthrew a 10-term representative in New York’s Democratic primary. Her win was, in effect, a statement charging the leadership in both parties in Washington with being unjust in the way immigration policy is being enforced.

UNJUST IN PERSONAL DEALINGS

Many Americans find the justice issue perplexing in terms of what we want our leaders to do. However, Jesus makes the matter more real to us when he talks about how we as individuals must practice justice, whether we are leaders or citizens. Each of us can find some area of personal hypocrisy; each of us can admit that making justice, mercy and righteousness part of our daily conduct can be a challenge.

  1. What do you think would be the result of abolishing the agency entrusted with enforcing immigration laws? Can you offer a better solution to the problem?
  2. How do you understand the terms, “justice, mercy and righteousness” to apply to actions and attitudes in your personal life?
  3. Why do we find it so easy to tell others how to live their lives (as the Pharisees did), but so difficult to avoid hypocrisy ourselves?
  4. Why do we focus on simple outward acts to prove the validity of our faith, but neglect the attitudes of the spirit? What is the remedy?
  5. How would you apply Jesus’ teaching on this matter to church leadership?

—Charles R. Boatman

http://www.standardlesson.com/downloads

Copyright © 2018 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 1, 2018

By "In the World"

Download In the World for July 1 here.

IS MERCY DESERVED?

California Representative Ted Lieu and New Jersey Senator Bob Menendez played audio recordings of crying immigrant children in Congress last week. Their purpose was to persuade President Trump to change the federal policy that separated children from parents who are trying to enter the country outside of legal immigration channels. The call for mercy for the children was followed by the President’s act of rescinding the separation policy. However, demonstrations continued around the country as the current zero-tolerance policy for adults crossing the border illegally remains in effect.

MERCY IS NOT DESERVED!

The argument over how to deal with illegal immigration will continue indefinitely. When the question is whether we deserve mercy from God because of our sins, the answer is “No!” Yet, Jesus’ parable of the unforgiving servant reminds us that God has given us undeserved mercy in abundance. Considering that, we must not withhold mercy to others. How that plays out in the complicated scenarios of real life is where we often disagree.

  1. How can mercy be extended to immigrant children in American immigration policy? Should we offer forgiveness to their parents who place them in this situation? Why or why not?
  2. What are some other circumstances in which you struggle with whether to forgive someone?
  3. Tell of a situation in which forgiveness had a positive effect on someone’s relationship with another person. How has God’s grace to you affected the way you deal with difficult people and situations?

   —Charles R. Boatman

http://www.standardlesson.com/downloads

Copyright © 2018 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 24, 2018

By "In the World"

Download In the World for June 24 here.

DEMANDING JUSTICE

The #MeToo movement has drawn America’s attention in recent months. Women who say they have been the victims of a culture in which powerful men could, with impunity, treat women inappropriately have demanded justice. The movement has caused many men in the media, the entertainment industry, and business to lose their jobs. Many fell quickly, having been found guilty in the court of public opinion. Others denied their guilt, and the matter has moved slowly through the legal system.

JUSTICE RECEIVED

Often in this life, justice is never received. However, Jesus’ parable promises that God will eventually even the score. The long-suffering beggar’s death set him free and gave him blessed comfort. In death, the rich man found that his privilege and ease in this life were stripped from him, never to be returned. His lot was made even more painful by the fact that he could not warn his brothers to change their ways before it was too late to do so.

  1. Has the #MeToo movement performed a valid service? Has it, like many other social movements, been guilty of excess? Defend your thoughts.
  2. What other incidents of injustice do you see in our society? In what ways has the church been an agent for correcting injustices? Have Christians contributed to the problems of injustice in any way? Explain.
  3. What biblical principles have helped you to treat others justly, as Jesus would?

   —Charles R. Boatman

http://www.standardlesson.com/downloads

Copyright © 2018 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 17, 2018

By "In the World"

Download In the World for June 17 here.

CONFRONTING INJUSTICE

The world eagerly watched this week as President Trump and North Korea’s leader, Kim Jung Un, met for several hours. The two leaders left the meeting with mutual promises to work for the resolution of differences. Some items on the table in this difficult, lengthy process will be the injustice and human rights violations which Kim has used to maintain control. He has kept his people in abject poverty, orchestrated the murder of relatives who threatened his power, and imprisoned numerous American visitors to the country. All the while, Kim was developing nuclear warheads with missiles capable of delivering them to the American mainland.

JUSTIFYING INJUSTICE

As Jesus said, evil people justify their injustice to others—including their own family members—by blaming others for their actions. They may even claim it is for a greater good, even twisting God’s Word to justify injustice. Such injustice is easy enough for us to see in our enemies such as Kim. It’s more difficult to recognize when we are the ones acting unjustly.

  1. What do you think will be the eventual results of the President’s meeting with Kim? What injustices in North Korea do you believe must be righted for an agreement to last?
  2. President Trump has recommended the adoption of a capitalistic economic system to make North Korea a more prosperous and just society. Do you see injustices coming from such an economic system in our own country? Explain. How do the words of Jesus help you to see the solution to such injustices?
  3. What is the relationship between spiritual purity (which the Pharisees claimed) and honoring God’s commands? Jesus’ words spoke to the personal vices of the Pharisees. What personal application can you see in his words for yourself?

—Charles R. Boatman

http://www.standardlesson.com/downloads

Copyright © 2018 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 10, 2018

By "In the World"

Download In the World for June 10 here.

PULLING UP WEEDS

Roseanne Barr is an often caustic and sometimes crude comedienne and television personality. The return engagement of her very-highly-rated ABC-TV sitcom, Roseanne, was cancelled recently. ABC pulled the show because Barr had posted a demeaning racist comment about a former top aide to President Obama on social media. Some people are calling this an example of leftist media censorship since Barr supports the current president, and the object of her scorn is a liberal. Regardless, the news media are predicting Barr will soon find a home on alternative outlets.

THE POWER OF YEAST

One might argue that ABC was acting in the spirit of the servants in Jesus’ parable who wanted to pull up the weeds—an idea Jesus rebuked. On the other hand, Jesus’ parable about the power of yeast could be applied to the coarseness that has overtaken both entertainment and conversation in our culture in recent years.

  1. Which of Jesus’ parables should we apply to the Roseanne controversy? Why?
  2. Is there any justification for Christians to support Barr for her political stance when her mode of expression has often been less than Christian? Why or why not?
  3. What elements of our culture do you think Jesus might call “weeds” if he were here teaching among us today? Explain.
  4. Suggest some specific ways in which Christians can act positively as yeast in our society.
  5. Is the crudeness of some public figures a cause or reflection of the growing vulgarity of society? Do Christians ever contribute to the problem? Explain.

   —Charles R. Boatman

http://www.standardlesson.com/downloads

Copyright © 2018 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 3, 2018

By "In the World"

Download In the World for June 3 here.

FREED BY TECHNOLOGY

DNA testing of evidence in crimes has given freedom to many falsely convicted people in recent years. Because of this fact, two weeks ago, California Senator Kamala Harris called upon Governor Jerry Brown to order DNA testing in the case of Kevin Cooper, convicted of a quadruple murder in 1983. Nine years ago, five federal appeals court judges signed an opinion stating that Cooper was “probably innocent.” Many people familiar with the case now believe Cooper was framed, but the sheriff’s office in the locale where the crime took place is opposing the test.

FREED BY COMPASSION

Sometimes the law works for good, sometimes not. Often, it is not the law which is at fault, but our interpretation and application of it. Such was the case when Jesus and his disciples were accused of breaking the Sabbath law. Jesus showed that compassion for people showed greater justice than a strict (mis)application of the law. To drive the point home, Jesus healed a man on the Sabbath who had been “imprisoned” by his crippled hand.

  1. In what way, if any, does DNA technology’s role in overturning convictions affect your view of the criminal justice system? Why might a sheriff object to DNA testing?
  2. Is there a place in the Christian system for close observance of scriptural requirements, i.e. legalism? Why or why not?
  3. In your understanding of the Bible, do you lean toward the law or the grace side? Why?
  4. What damage in the church have you seen caused by an overemphasis on either strict interpretation or on grace?

—Charles R. Boatman

http://www.standardlesson.com/downloads

Copyright © 2018 by Standard Publishing, part of the David C Cook family. All rights reserved.

Each download is for the use of one church only.

In the World—May 27, 2018

By "In the World"

Download In the World for May 27 here.

RESTORED TO JERUSALEM?

On May 14, the U.S. government officially opened its embassy in Jerusalem. The move angered many Palestinians and their allies, who believe that Jerusalem should be the capital city of a future Palestinian state. On the other hand, many believe opening the U.S. embassy in Jerusalem simply accepts reality. Jerusalem has been recognized as Israel’s capital for 3,000 years, and Israel has long maintained its main government offices there. In 1995, the U. S. Congress passed the Jerusalem Embassy Act, which required that the U.S. embassy be moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Presidents of both parties have pledged to do so, but it has not happened until now. Some (but far from all) evangelical and fundamentalist Christians believe that restoration of Israel’s capital to its biblical location has end times significance.

RESTORED TO JERUSALEM!

We’ve lived with occasionally misguided end time prophecies for thousands of years. So the theological implications of our government’s action are open to interpretation. What we do know, from today’s text and others, is that God is Lord over history and will protect and provide for his people even in times of great distress. The actions of governments may help or hinder Christians, but we look forward to the New Jerusalem God has promised where his order will be restored forever.

  1. Do you think the new American embassy in Jerusalem has prophetic significance? What is the scriptural basis for your opinion? Is Christian activism in Israeli politics good or bad? Why?
  2. How does hope for living in the New Jerusalem strengthen you?
  3. What practical advice can you offer about “taking refuge” in God in times of distress? How has God brought restoration to you personally, either physically or spiritually?

—Charles R. Boatman

http://www.standardlesson.com/downloads

Copyright © 2018 by Standard Publishing, part of the David C Cook family. All rights reserved.

Each download is for the use of one church only.

In the World—May 20, 2018

By "In the World"

Download In the World for May 20 here.

GETTING AWAY FROM HOME

Many older Americans have fond memories of the road trip in the family car that was a staple of their childhood family’s summer vacation plans. Getting away from home and going back to the family homestead was the theme as they jammed themselves into the car and headed off to visit Grandma and Grandpa. Just 10 days ago, the travel industry announced the expected vacation destinations of Americans for Summer, 2018. Topping the list of domestic destinations is Orlando, the perennial favorite with its entertainment-oriented theme parks. These visits are typically for amusement purposes, and usually are not intended to be a meaning-filled visit to the ancestral home.

GOING BACK HOME

For ancient Israelites, every fiftieth year was a Jubilee Year, with a divinely commanded “vacation trip” in which the family would return to their ancestral home and their kin. There, they would be reminded of who they were as a family. Jubilee was also a time for the earth to get a rest: neither planting nor harvesting were allowed, so the Israelites could spend their time contemplating their nation’s historical relationship with God.

  1. What values might we rediscover it if were possible to observe a Jubilee Year in our culture?
  2. What factors would keep us from celebrating a Jubilee Year?
  3. What features of Jubilee might help Christians improve their relationship with God?
  4. Do you think the sabbath-rest commandment is for Christians today? Why or why not?
  5. How do you personally manage to implement the sabbath-rest principle in your life?

—Charles R. Boatman

 

http://www.standardlesson.com/downloads

Copyright © 2018 by Standard Publishing, part of the David C Cook family. All rights reserved.

Each download is for the use of one church only.

In the World—May 13, 2018

By "In the World"

Download In the World for May 13 here.

EXPECTING SILENCE

Stephanie Clifford (aka exotic dancer/porn star Stormy Daniels) announced a few weeks ago that she and Donald Trump had an affair in 2006. The big news about the alleged relationship in recent days has been the $130,000 said to have been paid to her by Mr. Trump’s lawyer before the 2016 election. There are conflicting reports on whether the President did or didn’t know about the payment, when he first knew about it (if he did), or whether he perhaps authorized it. Regardless, nondisclosure agreements are a sort of “first fruits” offering, with the “harvest” being the silence of the recipient, a quid pro quo—if you do this, I’ll do that.

EXPECTING A BLESSING

A two-way expectation also existed when the Israelites made their first fruits offerings. First, God expected the best gift, one without defect, from his people. Second, the Israelites made the gift in expectation that a bountiful harvest would follow. This was also, to some extent, a quid pro quo.

1. What other kinds of quid pro quo arrangements exist in life? Are such arrangements necessarily bad? Explain.

2. What kind of offering might a Christian make to the Lord that would be comparable to the first fruits offering? How might first fruits offerings differ according to one’s life circumstances?

3. What has been your experience in being blessed because of your giving?

 

—Charles R. Boatman

http://www.standardlesson.com/downloads

Copyright © 2018 by Standard Publishing, part of the David C Cook family. All rights reserved.

Each download is for the use of one church only.

In the World—May 6, 2018

By "In the World"

Download In the World for May 6 here.

A TARNISHED GIFT

Bill Cosby gave America a gift in the 1980s and ‘90s. As Cliff Huxtable, he was the affable father of an upper-middle-class African American family. In presenting this image, The Cosby Show intimated that the American dream was accessible to all regardless of race. However, in recent years, allegations of numerous sexual attacks by Cosby began to tarnish our memories of this gift. Last week’s guilty verdict in three charges of sexual assault further stained the gift he had given us.

AN UNSULLIED GIFT

The gifts God required of Israel were to be untarnished by ulterior motives. God wanted their gifts to be made willingly, by “hearts that were moved.” In a similar fashion, the New Testament reminds us that God loves for us to give willingly and cheerfully. Our gifts are not to be made to satisfy a selfish appetite of any kind.

  1. How can we evaluate the good a person has done when his other actions seem to invalidate it? Explain.
  2. Do we all have “skeletons in our closets?” If so, is it fair for us to criticize others’ sins? Can we be perfectly pure in any of our actions? Explain.
  3. Do you ever give from less than cheerful motives, such as when giving to a homeless person? Describe your feelings in such a situation.
  4. How do you make sure your giving is motivated by a willing, cheerful spirit?

—Charles R. Boatman

http://www.standardlesson.com/downloads

Copyright © 2018 by Standard Publishing, part of the David C Cook family. All rights reserved.

Each download is for the use of one church only.

In the World—April 29, 2018

By "In the World"

Download In the World for April 29 here.

SAVIOR OF HIS COUNTRY?

North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un, announced last weekend that he was “retiring” his policy of nuclear weapons development, since he can now “defend his country.” From this point on, he says he will focus on rebuilding North Korea’s economy. He has agreed to talk with South Korea and America, raising hopes in nations with which he has long been at odds. Basking in the glow of his new-found status, Kim seems to be turning his back on China, his long-time source of political power and sustainer of his poverty-stricken nation.

SAVIOR OF THE WORLD!

Only time will tell whether the praise for Mr. Kim’s new initiative to save his people from the poverty he has forced on them will endure. All human praise is subject to that same uncertainty. However, as the apostle John describes what he saw in the heavens, there was no question about the honor the Lamb of God shall receive. Throughout eternity, innumerable hosts of angels will declare his praise as Savior of the world.

  1. What differences do you see in Kim Jong-un’s quest for temporary adulation and the reasons for which Jesus will receive eternal praise?
  2. What difference, if any, do you see between church worship today and the worship the angels will offer to Jesus? What changes, if any, do you think are needed in our worship?
  3. Do you think there be a difference in the power and dominion Jesus exercises in eternity and now? Explain. What do you think John means when he says that “every creature” regardless of location will praise the Lamb?

—Charles R. Boatman

http://www.standardlesson.com/downloads

Copyright © 2018 by Standard Publishing, part of the David C Cook family. All rights reserved.

Each download is for the use of one church only.

In the World—April 22, 2018

By "In the World"

Download In the World for April 22 here.

THE DESTROYERS

President Bashar al-Assad of Syria has a history of using nerve gas to annihilate his opposition in the long-running Syrian civil war. The West has threatened, and sometimes attempted, to destroy Assad’s ability to conduct such activities. Last week, the United States, Britain, and France sent missiles to Syria, obliterating three of the facilities suspected to be crucial to Syria’s chemical weapons program. Humanity has great creative abilities, but we often use those abilities to create means of destruction, regardless of which side we are on in our various conflicts with each other.

THE CREATOR

Conversely, the Bible presents God as the One whose very essence is the Creator. In the beginning, he made all things (Genesis 1), and even today, he continues to sustain everything by his powerful word (Hebrews 1:3). Today’s text reminds us that even more amazing sights await us than those we can see in God’s present creation!

  1. What rationale might a leader have for using outlawed weapons on his own citizens? Can you think of parallels to Assad’s recent actions?
  2. Why do you think human creative powers are so often used for destructive purposes?
  3. When a human creation has the potential of being used for both good and evil (nuclear power, for example), on what basis should we decide to proceed with it (or not)?
  4. Can you think of biblical examples of God using his power for destructive purposes? How do those examples align with the view of God as Creator, not destroyer?
  5. What implications for everyday life do you see for us as the children of God to act as creators rather than destroyers?

—Charles R. Boatman

http://www.standardlesson.com/downloads

Copyright © 2018 by Standard Publishing, part of the David C Cook family. All rights reserved.

Each download is for the use of one church only.

In the World—April 15, 2018

By "In the World"

Download In the World for April 15 here.

A RELATIONSHIP TAINTED

Facebook promotes its service as a boon to relationships. However, its relationship with its subscribers became tainted with the news that 87 million of its users had their data shared with a political consulting firm in 2016 without the subscribers’ permission. Last week, Facebook admitted that the public profile information of “most” of its 2 billion users may have been “harvested.” Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s CEO, was scheduled to testify before Congress this week. He has already expressed contrition and taken personal responsibility for his company’s lapse in integrity. Whether this will restore the public’s trust is uncertain.

A RELATIONSHIP RESTORED

When Peter denied Jesus before a small crowd in Jerusalem, that act shared some personal data about his moral and spiritual character—that he was willing to compromise his convictions to save his own life. However, by repentance and the gracious forgiveness of Jesus, Peter’s relationship with the Lord was restored. The restored relationship demanded that Peter turn from self-preservation to a life of selflessness, nourishing the Lord’s sheep.

  1. If you’re a Facebook user, what are your feelings about your information being misused? What will it take to restore your faith in Facebook?
  2. Is our responsibility to forgive a corporation that has offended us the same as forgiving an individual? Why or why not?
  3. How has the Lord’s forgiveness changed your life? How has forgiveness (either offered by you or received by you) made a difference in your relationship with someone?
  4. In what ways has Jesus called on you to feed his sheep?

   —Charles R. Boatman

http://www.standardlesson.com/downloads

Copyright © 2018 by Standard Publishing, part of the David C Cook family. All rights reserved.

Each download is for the use of one church only.

In the World—April 8, 2018

By "In the World"

Download In the World for April 8 here.

FROM EUPHORIA TO DESPAIR . . .

The Dow Jones Industrial Average peaked at 26,616 on January 28, but within little more than a week, it fell by more than 10%. From that January high, it’s been a bumpy ride for investors with multiple corrections up and down in the two months since. The last two weeks have seen continuing large fluctuations, with investors showing anxiety over the troubles of Facebook, Tesla and other tech companies. Fears of a trade war with China have also created uncertainty about the future. With the stock market, there are no guarantees.

 . . . AND BACK AGAIN

Jesus’ ministry peaked (at least by human standards) with his triumphal entry into Jerusalem. In the next few days, his “stock” crashed with his arrest, trial and crucifixion. Then came another high: the resurrection. But after that roller-coaster ride came another emotional low. Uncertain about their future, some of the disciples went back to their comfort zones—their careers as fishermen. But then Jesus appeared to them again. From that point on, they began to see the future more clearly.

  1. What parallels do you see between the turmoil in the stock market and everyday life? What are some highs and lows you experience?
  2. Why do you think the disciples vacillated between hope and despair despite the miracle of the resurrection?
  3. The disciples failed to recognize Jesus standing on the shore. Tell about a time of personal despair during which it was difficult for you to recognize Jesus’ presence in your life.
  4. How does recalling how Jesus worked in your life in the past give you comfort and courage during difficult times?
  5. What are some ways you can encourage a fellow Christian who is experiencing doubt or despair?

 

—Charles R. Boatman

 

http://www.standardlesson.com/downloads

Copyright © 2018 by Standard Publishing, part of the David C Cook family. All rights reserved.

Each download is for the use of one church only.

In the World—April 1, 2018

By "In the World"

Download In the World for April 1, here.

TURNING LIFE INTO DEATH

Deadly school shootings have headlined the news in recent years. In February, a gunman killed 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. The focus of this crime seems to have shifted, however, from the act itself to reaction to it. A week ago, crowds of people turned out at gun control demonstrations across the nation. Some proponents of the rallies called them spontaneous student-led events. Skeptics saw them as adult manipulations of youth whose opinions tend toward simplistic answers.

TURNING DEATH INTO LIFE

With human beings, life always turns into death, whether by natural causes, calamities, or by human violence. At the crucifixion, an anger-fueled crowd was demonstrating for death. In the resurrection, God was the only demonstrator, and he turned it all around. The resurrection of Christ is God’s statement that death can turn to life. New life is given to all who accept God’s redemptive action.

  1. Is demonstrating moved by grief and anger a helpful way to spur the government to action on this or other social problems? Name some demonstrations and marches of the past few years. What has resulted because of them?
  2. The disillusioned disciples on the road to Emmaus had hoped Jesus would redeem Israel. Why did they give up on that hope? How do political battles today reveal that we are often blind to how God is addressing problems in our world? Explain.
  3. Is saying that sin is the root of the problems in our society too simplistic? Why do you think responses such as stricter legislation, better education, or addressing financial disparity inevitably fall short of eradicating society’s deepest issues?

—Charles R. Boatman

http://www.standardlesson.com/downloads

Copyright © 2018 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 25, 2018

By "In the World"

Download In the World for March 25 here.

BREAKING FEDERAL LAW

California has declared itself a sanctuary state, officially taking a position against the national policy of deporting people who have entered the country illegally. Early this month, the mayor of Oakland warned residents of her city of a coming federal agency raid to arrest people living there illegally. California and other states have taken similar positions regarding marijuana laws. Such actions have heightened the level of anger on both sides of each issue and focus attention on the question of whether federal law takes precedence over state and local laws.

KEEPING GOD’S LAW

The divine promise to bless Solomon and his nation was based on whether they would keep God’s statutes and ordinances. Along with the promise came a warning that failure to be faithful to God would bring exile and destruction. As we know, Israel failed to obey God, and both national exile and destruction of the temple became historical fact. Failure to keep God’s law had dire consequences.

  1. Whether we are considering immigration, drug, or any other laws, should states and cities be free to ignore or violate federal law? Why or why not? What should be the consequences for such violations?
  2. Does God bless or punish nations today when they keep or violate divine law? If so, how does he do it? Give an example or two.
  3. Have you ever had the sense God was blessing you for keeping his commands? Explain.

   —Charles R. Boatman

http://www.standardlesson.com/downloads

Copyright © 2018 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 18, 2018

By "In the World"

Download In the World for March 18 here.

CELEBRATING NEW JOBS

“The Economy Is Looking Awfully Strong” was a New York Times headline when the government’s February “jobs report” came out recently. The national workforce increased by 313,000 in February, and this year’s average job growth is nearly 100,000 over the monthly growth in all of 2017. The percentage of Americans in their prime working years (25-54) is at a ten-year high. So celebration seems to be in order, but we all know that economic trends such as this one will eventually reverse themselves, sometimes bringing great hardship to those who lose their jobs.

CELEBRATING GOD’S STEADFAST LOVE

As King Solomon dedicated the temple altar, the nation joined with him in thanksgiving, a celebration which had a more stable source than the ebb-and-flow-prone indicators of a nation’s economy. The Israelites thanked God for their national prosperity that had enabled Solomon to build the magnificent temple, but there was more to it than that. They thanked God not just for “being good,” but because “his love endures forever.”

  1. How should Christians react to news of the fluctuations in the nation’s economy? Why?
  2. Is it proper to thank God when economic indicators are positive? Should we blame him when they are bad? Why or why not?
  3. How do sacrifice and thanksgiving tie together for Christians?
  4. What sacrifices are a part of your relationship with God?
  5. What does it mean to you personally that God’s “love endures forever?”

—Charles R. Boatman

http://www.standardlesson.com/downloads

Copyright © 2018 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 11, 2018

By "In the World"

Download In the World for March 11 here.

THE BEST FILM

The Oscars were awarded last Sunday. In a score of categories ranging from picture to director to editing, “the best” was named. This year’s best picture as judged by the Academy was The Shape of Water, the fanciful story of a romantic relationship between a woman and a fish-man. As often happens, box office receipts have told a different story. Voting with their dollars, the film-watching public flocked to see The Greatest Showman, a film panned by several critics.

THE ONLY GOD

In contrast, awarding the title of ruler of the universe is not a popularity contest. The God of the Bible is the only God. Solomon cited historical evidence that God—unlike any other god—is a covenant-making and promise-keeping God. This recognition is not based on what so-called experts say, nor even on what the public says. It is based on the testimony of Scripture in what it reveals to us about our Creator and Sustainer.

  1. In what areas of life beside the arts do we see critics and the crowd sometimes disagreeing? How does that affect your thinking?
  2. What is wrong with the view the Jews sometimes expressed in the Old Testament that their God was “the best God.” Do we sometimes advocate the Christian faith this way? Explain.
  3. Is it appropriate for Christians to find affirmation for their faith in the fact that Christianity has more adherents worldwide than any other religion? Why or why not?
  4. In your own life, how have you experienced the promise-keeping power of God? How has this affected your Christian walk?
  5. How would you explain to an unbeliever what a difference it makes to be in a covenant relationship with God?

In the World for March 4, 2018

By "In the World"

Download In the World for March 4 here.

FAITHFUL

Last week, Billy Graham died at 99 years of age. He was confidant and counselor for most of the U.S. presidents in the last half of the 20th century. He preached to over 200 million people in 185 nations—more than any other preacher in history. He was on Gallup’s list of “most admired men and women” 60 times—every year the company conducted its poll. His career in ministry was characterized by faithfulness to the historic Christian message at a time when many high-profile Christian leaders were watering down the gospel. His faithfulness to Ruth, his wife of 64 years, stood in sharp contrast to many high-profile ministers who lacked such faithfulness.

FAITH-FILLED

Romans 4:11 calls Abraham “the father of all who have faith.” Our text today provides one of several examples that led to his reputation for being faith-filled. Whether answering the call to leave his homeland or to sacrifice the son of God’s promise, Abraham was faithful to what God asked him to do.

  1. Why do you believe Billy Graham had a high reputation, even among those who did not agree with his Christian faith? How do you think Graham avoided the moral failures of some of his contemporaries?
  2. What are the great challenges to faithfulness among followers of Christ today? How does faith in Christ help us be faithful in all areas of life?
  3. Review the lives of Abraham, Graham, and other faithful leaders of the faith. How do their examples help you to be faithful? Be specific.

   —Charles R. Boatman

http://www.standardlesson.com/downloads

Copyright © 2018 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—February 25, 2018

By "In the World"

Download In the World for February 25 here.

AN EVIL FIGHT

Last week, the federal investigation into Russian interference in our 2016 elections resulted in the indictment of 13 Russian individuals and three companies. The individuals posed as American citizens, using stolen identities. Pretending to be (among other things) Christian political activists and advocates of various political perspectives, they used social media and other means to promote dissension among Americans and destroy trust in the American electoral process.

THE GOOD FIGHT

Political dirty tricks are nothing new. We should not be surprised by them. When Christians do good in fighting the good fight of faith, we shouldn’t be surprised by that either. However, that doesn’t always happen. That’s why Paul insists that Timothy set an example in pursuing what is good and turning away from evil and falsehood. In using the word “fight,” Paul implies what we all know: we sometimes must struggle against the temptation to do evil.

  1. How is Russian interference in our elections dangerous to America? How does this compare to American attempts to influence elections in various countries? Explain.
  2. In what ways do Christians sometimes fail in doing good in their public lives? How can this influence public opinion about the church?
  3. List some of Paul’s instructions to Timothy. Which of these can help us be a positive witness to our fellow citizens in public life? Which of these have you found to be helpful in your struggles against various temptations?

—Charles R. Boatman

http://www.standardlesson.com/downloads

Copyright © 2018 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—February 18, 2018

By "In the World"

Download In the World for February 18 here.

SENTENCED TO DEATH

The 2018 Winter Olympics has gripped our attention this week. Nevertheless, the Olympics has been in the news for months. In December, Larry Nassar, a former USA Gymnastics and Michigan State University doctor, was sentenced to 60 years in prison on child pornography charges. In January, more than 150 women and girls testified in court that, over the course of 20 years, he had used the privacy of the medical exam room to sexually abuse them. At the close of the abuse trial, the judge sentenced the 54-year-old discredited doctor to 40 to 175 years in prison, saying, “I’ve just signed your death warrant.”

RESTORED TO LIFE

When Peter came to the home where the body of Dorcas lay, he found her body surrounded by mourners. In that culture, grieving was often done loudly, so Peter sent the mourners out of the room. In the privacy of the now-quiet room, he prayed for her and then commanded her to arise. God answered his prayer and Dorcas was restored to life.

  1. What factors in society enabled Dr. Nassar to get away with his crimes for so long?
  2. Character has been described as how one behaves when no one is looking. Contrast the actions of Dr. Nassar and Peter in the private rooms where these stories unfolded. What does this say about their respective integrity?
  3. How should a belief in the future resurrection of the dead affect the way we grieve?
  4. Can we expect the Holy Spirit to use us today (as he did Peter) to raise the dead? Why or why not?

—Charles R. Boatman

http://www.standardlesson.com/downloads

Copyright © 2018 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—February 11, 2018

By "In the World"

Download In the World for February 11 here.

THE POWER OF THE OFFICIAL WORD

With 2:21 left in last Sunday’s Super Bowl LII, the outcome hung on the official word. Philadelphia Eagles player Zach Ertz caught a 12-yard pass from quarterback Nick Foles. Ertz took two steps before being tripped by the defender and then fell into the end zone. There on the ground, he bobbled the ball before gaining control of it. Was Ertz a pass receiver who did not have control of the ball when he crossed the goal line, or was he a runner who fumbled, but regained control of the ball? The play was reviewed, and the official word was that Ertz was a runner. The touchdown call stood, and the New England Patriots could not regain the lead.

THE POWER OF OUR WORDS

We may think our words are inconsequential, since most of us never speak in any “official” capacity. Yet when we say something hurtful or false or foolish, our words have power. We realize this when we are on the receiving end of such words, but we sometimes minimize their importance when we speak in ways we shouldn’t. James reminds us how evil our tongues can be. But the problem isn’t the tongue. It’s the mind and will that refuses to be led by the Spirit of God.

  1. Official review of football plays has changed the game; how might such a review change the way we speak? Be specific.
  2. Share with the class an example of how you have been hurt by the power of words. Share an example of how you have been helped by the power of words.
  3. What trends do you see in our society that demonstrate the power of words, either positive or negative?
  4. What is the difference between having self-control and being controlled by the Holy Spirit? How can you know whether your words are being directed by the Spirit?

—Charles R. Boatman

http://www.standardlesson.com/downloads

Copyright © 2018 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 for February 4, 2018

By "In the World"

Download In the World for February 04 here.

JUDGING OTHERS

We have recently seen political figures, show business and sports personalities, and media figures fall under charges of sexual immorality. Last week, it happened in another venue—Washington’s National Gallery of Art. The museum announced it would postpone indefinitely an exhibition of paintings by Chuck Close, one of the 20th century’s most honored portrait artists, because of charges that he harassed his models. Other museums in New York, London, and Paris are questioning what to do with his portraits. The problem for museums is that many great artists are reputed to have been harassers, rapists, even murderers. Should art be judged by the morality of the artist?

JUDGING OURSELVES

The current glut of charges being leveled against people who once held the public trust can make us smug. We say, “Look how bad they are,” implying that we are virtuous by comparison. James, however, wants us to turn the spotlight on ourselves. We must ask, “Does my public identity as a Christian align with my faith as I actually practice it?”

  1. One museum curator said, “If we removed the paintings done by immoral people, the walls would be bare.” Does an artist’s immorality invalidate his or her artistic gifts? Why or why not?
  2. There have been times when someone who has won many people to Christ is caught in immorality. Would a person who became a Christian because of that person’s preaching have a valid reason to question his or her own salvation? Why or why not?
  3. What are some ways that a Christian’s character flaws inhibit his or her effectiveness in presenting the gospel?
  4. What safeguards do you have in place to ensure that your actions do not contradict your profession of faith?

—Charles R. Boatman

http://www.standardlesson.com/downloads

Copyright © 2018 by Standard Publishing, part of the David C Cook family. All rights reserved.

Each download is for the use of one church only.

 

In the World—January 28, 2018

By "In the World"

Download In the World for January 28 here.

FAITH IN THE STOCK MARKET

On Monday night, the president signed legislation passed earlier that day, funding the government for three more weeks. This allowed federal workers to return to work after a three-day shutdown. For days, the news media projected a frenzied tone over the anticipated event, even though shutdowns have taken place dozens of times before. As if to demonstrate that the public has greater faith in America’s economic might than the media does, the stock market rose to record high levels day after day.

FAITH IN GOD

The strength of Daniel’s faith in God was of a different sort than the public’s faith in America’s economic might. For one thing, God’s strength never waivers and those who place their faith in him can take life’s ups-and-downs with assurance that God is faithful. On the other hand, the stock market in which Americans are currently rejoicing will occasionally crash precipitously, as we have all experienced.

  1. “If it bleeds it leads” is an axiom that explains media focus. Do you think that’s the case in the media’s concern about the government shutdown? Explain.
  2. Americans have traditionally been an optimistic people, but today many are pessimistic. What do you think are the reasons for either perspective?
  3. What was it in God’s words to Daniel that made him feel weak? What was it in God’s words that gave Daniel strength?
  4. What do you find in today’s passage (and elsewhere) that gives you a sense of spiritual strength?

—Charles R. Boatman

http://www.standardlesson.com/downloads

Copyright © 2018 by Standard Publishing, part of the David C Cook family. All rights reserved.

Each download is for the use of one church only.

In the World—January 21, 2018

By "In the World"

Download In the World for January 21 here.

A NEED FOR REPENTANCE

Recently, the moral failings of humanity have topped the list of bad news. The #MeToo movement has brought to light the problem of sexual assault/harassment, but now some women are saying it infantilizes women and causes an anti-feminist overreaction. On another front, political chatter is divided over whether President Trump is a racist based on a crude term he allegedly used to describe poor countries in a closed meeting last week.  Furthermore, a federal budget may not get passed because of congressional in-fighting over immigration issues. And so it goes!

A PENTINENT PLEA

Daniel was very much aware of the sins of his people. However, instead of stirring them to argue about who among them was worse, he prayed on their behalf. He confessed their corporate sinfulness and the shame they had brought on themselves and on God’s name. His heartfelt plea was that God would forgive his people for his own sake, if not for theirs.

  1. Do you think the sins of America bring shame on God’s name as the sins of Israel did? Why or why not?
  2. What might happen if Christians prayed as Daniel did? To what extent should Christians personally repent for society’s sins? How would you phrase such a prayer?
  3. In Daniel’s prayer, how did thankfulness tie in with shame and repentance?

—Charles R. Boatman

http://www.standardlesson.com/downloads

Copyright © 2018 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 for January 14, 2018

By "In the World"

Download In the World for January 14 here.

FIRE AND FURY

Discussion of Michael Wolff’s book, Fire and Fury, dominated the news this week. The book is aptly named. It generated a fury from within the Trump White House, including a legal move to prevent the book’s release. It fanned the flames of criticism from Trump opponents. Some of those foes even argued that the book provided evidence that President Trump should be removed from office due to inability to perform his duties. Furthermore, the truth of Wolff’s work itself was called into question. The “talking heads” on the news media and the chatterers on the social media argued all week about the authenticity of the book’s claims.

FIRE, BUT NO FURY

King Nebuchadnezzar was furious over the defiance of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. He wanted to do more than remove them from their government jobs. He ordered them to be thrown into a fire so hot that it consumed the soldiers who placed them there! But when the fire did not destroy his enemies, the fury of Nebuchadnezzar abated. For a time at least, the king’s hostility toward these three Hebrews and all that they stood for cooled.

  1. Do you think any of the very personal attacks against the president are directed against the policies he is seeking to implement? Explain.
  2. Can you recall times when disagreements about values and policies have degenerated into ugly name-calling? What do you believe are some appropriate responses when that happens?
  3. The White House responded to Wolff’s book with further name-calling and threats of legal action. Compare that response to the way Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego responded to Nebuchadnezzar.
  4. Part of the appeal of President Trump for many is his willingness to fight fire with fire. Imagine yourself being a political strategist. Craft some advice for responding to politically motivated attacks by referring to this famous Bible account.

—Charles R. Boatman

http://www.standardlesson.com/downloads

Copyright © 2018 by Standard Publishing, part of the David C Cook family. All rights reserved.

Each download is for the use of one church only.

In the World—January 7, 2018

By "In the World"

Download In the World for January 7 here.

FEASTING . . .

For most of us, the period from Thanksgiving Day through the end of the year is a time of feasting and celebration. Indulgence is the name of the game. Then, when the football games and parades of New Year’s Day are over, we face the time of reckoning. We realize we need to deal with those extra pounds and inches we have gained while we feasted. The second week in January sees more health club memberships purchased than any other week in the year, but within one month, 80% of the New Year’s resolution crowd has dropped out.

. . . AND FASTING

Daniel had been invited to perpetually feast at the king’s table, but he realized that a life of indulgence was not good for his health. However, it was more than a matter of not eating food which might harm him. The text says Daniel did not want to “defile” himself—a term that implies he saw a spiritual element to the king’s demand that he was not willing to accept.

  1. What is your experience with New Year’s resolutions to improve your lifestyle? Have you succeeded? For how long?
  2. Why do you think most people fail in their resolve to improve their eating and exercise habits, whether in January or at any other time?
  3. Is proper diet and exercise a matter of honoring God? What biblical passages contribute to your opinion?
  4. Does lack of good health habits indicate a spiritual problem? Why or why not?
  5. Have you ever experienced a demand such as Daniel did which placed your life-situation in jeopardy? Explain.

—Charles R. Boatman

http://www.standardlesson.com/downloads

Copyright © 2018 by Standard Publishing, part of the David C Cook family. All rights reserved.

Each download is for the use of one church only.

In the World—December 31, 2017

By "In the World"

Download In the World for December 31 here.

DIVIDED

As a new year begins, the news media offers a retrospective of the old year’s events and trends. This year, Time magazine’s Person of the Year was “The Silence Breakers,” the women who forced us to look at the divide between men and women in culturally tolerated behavior. Donald Trump’s inauguration, the subsequent political battles over a Supreme Court nomination, and tax and health care reform all pointed out America’s political divide. Mass murders by terrorists in London, Las Vegas, and in a Texas church reminded us of another divide—the one between violent attempts to change society and more civilized means.

UNITED

The Christian answer to bridging these divides is stated in today’s text. The call for us to practice unity is not based on human schemes, political or otherwise. We are to practice unity because it is the nature of the God who created us in his image. Enabled by the Holy Spirit, we gain Christian maturity to the point at which unity becomes a reality in our relationship with God and others. No wonder the world is divided! It rejects how unity can be found.

  1. What good is end-of-year retrospection when, each year, the bad news seems to be most prominent?
  2. From your perspective, what was the most important news in 2017? Why? How does that news show our world’s need for Jesus?
  3. What are some specific things Christians can do to work for unity in church and society?
  4. What can we learn from today’s lesson about human divisiveness and the Spirit’s role in creating unity?
  5. Describe one positive step you plan to take in 2018 to bring unity to your small part of the world.

—Charles R. Boatman

http://www.standardlesson.com/downloads

Copyright © 2017 by Standard Publishing, part of the David C Cook family. All rights reserved.

Each download is for the use of one church only.

In the World—December 24, 2017

By "In the World"

Download In the World for December 24 here.

A DISTURBED AMERICAN CAPITOL

The path of destruction continues to widen in the whirlwind of charges regarding sexual intimidation in Washington, D.C. Most of us are wondering who will be the next powerful and previously respected person in politics, entertainment, or news media to fall. In the last two weeks, new rumors of President Trump’s past actions have circulated, fueling renewed calls for him to resign. The situation disturbs many Americans, regardless of their political leanings.

A DISTURBED JUDEAN CAPITOL

The citizens of Jerusalem also had reason to be disturbed. King Herod was tyrannical and malicious. When his power was threatened, fear seized the hearts of those whom he governed. The news that a new king had been born was brought by the Magi. This was obviously perceived as a threat to Herod, but he clearly misunderstood what kind of king Jesus would be.

  1. What, specifically, should we find most disturbing about the growing number of harassment charges against cultural leaders? If an accusation such as those we are hearing these days were brought against someone you know and love, what would be your response?
  2. What specifically, do you think troubled Herod about the news of Jesus’ birth? What would you have said to him?
  3. In what ways does the public perceive Jesus to be a threat to them? Is it a philosophical issue or a lifestyle issue? Explain.
  4. How can we help non-Christians see that Christ’s coming into their lives brings freedom rather than limitations?

—Charles R. Boatman

http://www.standardlesson.com/downloads

Copyright © 2017 by Standard Publishing, part of the David C Cook family. All rights reserved.

Each download is for the use of one church only.

In the World—December 17, 2017

By "In the World"

Download In the World for December 17 here.

A RECURRING HARDSHIP

Wildfires raged across southern California last week from Santa Barbara County to San Diego County. More than 200,000 people have been forced to evacuate as some 300 square miles have been scorched. Most of the fires have been brought under control, but the one in Ventura County was still growing early in the week. One family lost a home in that fire after already having lost a home to a wildfire in October in northern California. Californians are now being forced to recognize that “fire season” is a year-round hardship.

OVERCOMING HARDSHIPS

As persecution followed Paul and Barnabas from town to town on their missionary tour, they concluded that multiple hardships were the natural consequences of proclaiming Jesus. To confirm the faith of those who had come to Christ through their preaching, the apostles courageously returned to the scenes of their persecution to encourage the new converts.

  1. Certain natural disasters are more common in some areas than they are in others. What reasonable precautions should one take when living in an area prone to such recurring hardships?
  2. What hardships do people in different parts of the world face as natural consequences of proclaiming Jesus? What hardships do people in this country face for attempting to live out their faith?
  3. Note Paul and Barnabas’s approach to dealing with hardships they faced when proclaiming Christ. What can we learn from them when we face similar difficulties?

 —Charles R. Boatman

http://www.standardlesson.com/downloads

Copyright © 2017 by Standard Publishing, part of the David C Cook family. All rights reserved.

Each download is for the use of one church only.

In the World—December 10, 2017

By "In the World"

Download In the World for December 10 here.

CAUGHT IN SIN

Deceitful use of power has been very much in the news recently. Previously respected and powerful men in the media and government have admitted to using their power for sexual gratification. President Trump’s first national security adviser, Michael Flynn, acknowledged a different form of deceitfulness. Flynn admitted to lying to the FBI about the investigation into Russia’s alleged role in the 2016 elections. The chief investigative reporter of a major news network quickly abused his power to falsely report that Flynn was prepared to testify that, as a candidate, Donald Trump directed him to contact the Russians. It is no wonder that confusion as to where the truth is to be found is rampant.

PAYING FOR SIN

Elymas, a Jewish sorcerer and false prophet, deceived others with false information about the apostles. He tried to turn people away from Jesus when they were seeking the truth. He paid dearly for his sins, being struck blind for a time. Modern deceivers may not pay in the same way as he did, but it appears that the sins of many are catching up with them.

  1. What are the effects on society when powerful—and apparently respectable—people are charged with, and then admit to, bad behavior?
  2. What causes people of importance to believe they can get away with abusing their influence? What should be their punishment?
  3. Does the punishment for the sin of Elymas, a powerful government advisor of his day, indicate that his sin was worse than our sins? Explain. How do you protect yourself from sins of deceitfulness?

—Charles R. Boatman

 

http://www.standardlesson.com/downloads

Copyright © 2017 by Standard Publishing, part of the David C Cook family. All rights reserved.

Each download is for the use of one church only.

In the World—December 3, 2017

By "In the World"

Download In the World for December 3 here.

FAITH IN THE WRONG PERSON

The notorious Charles Manson died in prison on November 19. Claiming to be Jesus and Satan in one person, he collected a group of impressionable followers that became known as the “Manson Family.” He preached about “Helter Skelter” (a term he took from the Beatles’ song of the same name) to describe an impending apocalyptic race war that his followers would incite. This pitiable group of people placed their faith in Manson as their “messiah.” They succumbed to his demented ideas and followed his instructions to commit the infamous Tate-LaBianca murders in southern California during the summer of 1969.

LACK OF FAITH IN THE RIGHT PERSON

Peter’s strong words to his audience delivered a guilty verdict for their complicity in the death of Christ. They were guilty because they followed false teachers and failed to recognize in Jesus the one whom God had sent to be their leader. This pattern has continued throughout history. People have turned to evil leaders and away from the true author of life.

  1. What is lacking in people’s lives that causes them to become disciples of people such as Charles Manson? How might faith in Jesus have prevented people from being pulled into Manson’s circle of influence?
  2. What causes Christian leaders to become cultish in their leadership style? What examples can you think of? How does following misguided leaders and giving them control over our thoughts and actions dishonor Christ?
  3. Peter mentions the ignorance of the Jewish people and their leaders. Is ignorance ever an excuse for doing evil or failing to do what is right? Explain.

—Charles R. Boatman

http://www.standardlesson.com/downloads

Copyright © 2017 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 26, 2017

By "In the World"

Download In the World for November 26 here.

A COVENANT OF THANKSGIVING

Ever since President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a national Thanksgiving Day during the Civil War, Americans have observed it—just as we did this past Thursday. For those of us who are Christians, our feasting each year is the continuation of a covenantal act first engaged in nearly 400 years ago by the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag tribe at Plymouth. At that feast, the two groups united in a covenant of friendship that lasted for more than a half-century.

THANKSGIVING FOR A COVENANT

When Jesus met with his disciples to observe the Passover, he was preparing them to remember a covenant which he would institute just a few hours later in his sacrificial death on the cross. Jesus’ death initiated a covenant of friendship unique in all human history—friendship between God and humanity. In giving thanks for the elements of the Passover meal, Jesus taught us to give thanks as we share in the simple feast that has united Christians for 2,000 years.

  1. Does the historical context in which Lincoln made his proclamation (a country torn apart by civil war) seem strange to you? Explain. How can giving thanks unite people in a divisive climate even today?
  2. How is Thanksgiving Day (as Americans celebrate it now) similar to the way the Pilgrims observed it? What are some differences?
  3. List some things for which you offered thanks to God this past Thursday.
  4. Which of the blessings for which you gave thanks were unique to Americans? . . . to Christians?
  5. How does the Lord’s Supper help you give thanks for God’s covenant with us through Christ’s death?

Charles R. Boatman

http://www.standardlesson.com/downloads

Copyright © 2017 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 19, 2017

By "In the World"

Download In the World for November 19 here.

ARE THINGS GETTING WORSE?

Is America becoming increasingly immoral? We frequently hear about sexual sins by previously respected people. Roy Moore, former Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court and now candidate for the U.S. Senate, is but one example.

Moore has been respected by many Christians for his rulings in support of the Ten Commandments and his public stands against homosexuality. Recently, however, Moore has been the subject of rumors of sexual impropriety with teenage girls. We wonder who will be the next cultural idol to be charged with immorality and abuse of power.

THINGS HAVE GOTTEN BETTER!

On the other hand, some things have greatly improved. Since God initiated his New Covenant through Jesus Christ, humanity is living in a much better kingdom than before. The Old Testament law, which no one could keep and which created a fearsome picture of God, has been set aside by the death and resurrection of Christ. We now live in hope of salvation despite our sins.

  1. How should Christians respond when someone is charged with sin, sexual or otherwise? Does it matter if the one being charged holds political positions like our own? Does it matter that some on the other end of the political spectrum have committed similar offenses without consequence? Does it matter if the behavior being revealed happened decades ago and seems to be released now to gain political advantage? Explain.
  2. How should the New Covenant through Christ affect our conduct, our attitudes, and our way of looking at the sins of others? Does the New Testament image of God as a loving Father invalidate the image of God as the Judge of humankind? Explain.
  3. In what specific ways can we Christians, through the power of God, make things better in this world?

—Charles R. Boatman

http://www.standardlesson.com/downloads

Copyright © 2017 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 12, 2017

By "In the World"

Download In the World for November 12 here.

PLACING THE BLAME ON OTHERS

We keep being reminded of the pervasiveness of evil. On October 31, a terrorist who claimed inspiration from ISIS killed eight bicyclists in New York City by driving a truck down a cycle path. Then, last Sunday, a man who had recently sent threatening texts to his mother-in-law went into the church in Texas where she attends and killed 26 people. He is said to have had a history of violence, having been dishonorably discharged from the Air Force five years ago for assaulting his wife and child.

PLACING BLAME WHERE IT SHOULD BE

The social covenant on which our society relies is being torn to shreds. We have no idea when an aggrieved soul will (in Jeremiah’s words) “destroy and bring disaster.” With God’s permission, evil nations had overthrown Israel and Judah, but Jeremiah announced that God would henceforth be using his power to build and plant. Perhaps just as important at a personal level, no one could any longer blame external forces—whether ISIS or a mother-in-law, for example—for his sinfulness.

  1. How can these violent events give us a “wake-up call,” an opportunity to consider the nature of evil and destructiveness of sin? Explain.
  2. Explain the “teeth on edge” proverb of Jeremiah’s day. What are some similar ways we explain suffering without confessing our own guilt today?
  3. Consider the terms of the Old Covenant. Where was the law written and whose responsibility was it to know and keep it?
  4. How does having God’s law written in your heart affect the way you live as a follower of Jesus? Give specific examples.

—Charles R. Boatman

http://www.standardlesson.com/downloads

Copyright © 2017 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 5, 2017

By "In the World"

Download In the World for November 5 here.

RUMORS OF MISDEEDS

Allegations have been circulating for months about Republican attempts to involve the Russians in last year’s election. Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller is investigating the charges. A week ago, the tables turned, with the New York Post reporting that Mueller is expanding his probe to include Tony Podesta, the brother of the Clinton campaign chairman. He and his firm are now the subjects of a criminal investigation. The Post is further alleging the Russians were given approval from the previous administration to buy American uranium. Then things turned again on Monday when the Mueller probe began handing down indictments on the Russian election-tampering issue.

PROVEN SINS

Much of the above has yet to be proved, but each party is trying to convince us that the other is guilty of significant political misdeeds. In Israel, the case of Hophni and Phinehas was different: there was no question about the nature of the evil they had been involved in. What made it even worse was that they were religious leaders. Their blatant misuse of the privileges of the priesthood caused God to bring them to an early death.

Yet not all priests were guilty. Earlier, Phinehas son of Eleazar was praised for his zeal and faithfulness. And although Hophni and Phineas (sons of Samuel) would be judged, God promised that he would raise up a faithful priesthood in their place.

  1. Does it seem to you that American politics has reached a new low? Explain. If not, what evidence can you offer that there are faithful leaders seeking to do right?
  2. What can we learn from the unfaithfulness of Israel’s religious leaders? What is the relationship between faithfulness and the receiving of blessings in a covenant with God?
  3. Describe what faithfulness to God and zeal for his commands look like in our lives today.

—Charles R. Boatman

http://www.standardlesson.com/downloads

Copyright © 2017 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 29, 2017

By "In the World"

Download In the World for October 29 here.

ENSLAVED IN THEIR OWN BODIES

Yesterday, October 28, was National Prescription Drug Take Back Day. Its purpose was to provide a convenient way to get rid of prescription drugs, as well as to educate people regarding the dangers of overusing medications. The previous “take back” day (in April this year) netted 450 tons of drugs. An estimated 6.5 million Americans abuse controlled prescription drugs, most getting them from friends or family members. In America, 20,000 people die each year from abusing prescription painkillers. Four of five new heroin users shift from prescription drugs to heroin because it is cheaper and easier to get!

ENSLAVED IN THEIR OWN LAND

Nehemiah led a nation which was enslaved in the land God had given to them. The cause of this situation was that their leaders and ancestors had forsaken God and become addicted to their sins. Nehemiah called the Jews to repentance. Under his guidance, the people and their leaders—including those who were entrusted with spiritual oversight of the nation—entered into a covenant to return to godly ways.

  1. To what extent, in your opinion, is the epidemic of substance abuse in America a spiritual problem? Explain.
  2. Can someone be a sincere Christian and yet have a drug abuse problem? Why or why not? How do our addictions to various behaviors and attitudes affect (or reflect) our relationship with God?
  3. What responsibility do leaders have for encouraging or facilitating the enslaving sins of their people? Does Nehemiah’s blaming his nation’s slavery on the decisions of its kings and religious leaders have an application to America today? Explain.

—Charles R. Boatman

http://www.standardlesson.com/downloads

Copyright © 2017 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 22, 2017

By "In the World"

Download In the World for October 22 here.

LEAVING A LEGACY

Barack Obama considered the Affordable Care Act (AKA “Obamacare”) the most significant domestic legacy of his presidency. President Trump has indicated numerous times that he wants “Make America Great Again” to be the theme of his legacy. Replacing the ACA seems to be a foundation stone of that quest. Obama and Trump are not the first leaders of nations to focus on which of their accomplishments they will be remembered for. The ego that drives such people to seek high office seems to guarantee it.

 A DIVINELY PROMISED LEGACY

David wanted to be remembered as the king who built a “house for God to dwell in.” It seemed like a noble desire, since David couched it in terms of the irony of himself having a house, although God did not. However, God told David he was misguided in his quest. The legacy God would give him would be greater than any building project, no matter how grandiose it might be. David’s divinely promised legacy would be an eternal spiritual kingdom.

  1. How might leaders’ focus on their legacies be detrimental to their performance in office?
  2. Is it overly harsh to say that human leaders are too focused on the legacies they leave? Why or why not?
  3. Should any of us be concerned about our legacy? If so, what kind of legacy should it be?
  4. How much time must pass before one’s legacy may be properly evaluated? Give an example to substantiate your view.
  5. To what extent does this discussion apply to church leaders? Explain.

    —Charles R. Boatman

http://www.standardlesson.com/downloads

Copyright © 2017 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 15, 2017

By "In the World"

Download In the World for October 15 here.

CULTURALLY TOLERATED BEHAVIOR

Harvey Weinstein is a film producer who is also famed for his contributions to liberal causes such as the women’s movement. Last Sunday, he was fired from his own company after revelations that he has a decades-long history of sexually harassing actresses and female employees and making payoffs in exchange for silence. His first response to the allegations

was to apologize for his sinful behavior (although that was not how he described it.) Then, this week, he has threatened to sue for defamation.

DIVINELY PRESCRIBED BEHAVIOR

The actions that Weinstein has admitted have traditionally been a part of corporate culture, especially in the film industry. When God spoke to Israel from Sinai, he was announcing that the people’s cultural background was no longer an excuse for sinful behavior. Their idolatry would not be tolerated, but if they obeyed God, they would be blessed.

  1. For a long time, the type of behavior Weinstein is accused of has been tolerated by our society. Does this lessen his responsibility for his actions? Explain.
  2. Is fear of God or others ever a valid stimulus for good behavior? Why or why not?
  3. Have you seen sinful attitudes or behavior tolerated or excused in the church? What was the result? How should it have been dealt with?
  4. How do you personally resist some of our culture’s idolatrous beliefs and activities?

—Charles R. Boatman

http://www.standardlesson.com/downloads

Copyright © 2017 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 8, 2017

By "In the World"

Download In the World for October 8 here.

DEATH FROM ABOVE

From a window high in the Mandalay Bay hotel last Sunday evening came burst after burst of death and destruction. A lone gunman, in a well-planned attack, fired on a country music festival, killing nearly sixty concert-goers and wounding over five hundred more. The violence reignited the perennial American debate over terrorism, guns, mental illness, and whether there is any way we can prevent such evil acts.

LIFE FROM ABOVE

As Moses prepared to ascend Mt. Sinai, thunder, lightning, fire, smoke, and loud trumpet blasts accompanied God’s presence on the mountain. God told Moses to warn the priests and people not to ascend the mountain, or else death would come from on high. However, God’s purpose was to bring life, not death. On the mountain, God would give Moses the commandments which, if Israel followed them, would bring both spiritual and physical life to the nation.

  1. Does Las Vegas’s reputation as “Sin City” have anything to do with the shooter choosing it as a venue for his actions? Explain.
  2. To what extent do you think the violence in our culture is the result of our nation turning away from God’s commands? Explain.
  3. Why was God so concerned that not even the priests of Israel should approach the mountain?
  4. How can we translate God’s demand for reverence into our lives? . . . into the public life of our nation?
  5. Is there anything in modern church life that doesn’t show proper reverence for God? How would you correct the problem?

—Charles R. Boatman

http://www.standardlesson.com/downloads

Copyright © 2017 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 Word — October 1, 2017

By "In the World"

Download In the World for October 1 here.

WORLDLY CONDEMNATIONS

Last Sunday, taking a knee during the national anthem to protest perceived racial injustice grew into a massive movement. President Trump entered the debate via social media, condemning players who refused to stand for the anthem. Two teams, the Titans and Seahawks refused to go on the field until after the anthem was sung. When a third team, the Steelers, boycotted the anthem, one player broke with his teammates. Alejandro Villanueva, an Afghanistan war vet, took to the field alone. Other NFL players and some team owners condemned the president’s words. Soon the controversy spilled over into other sports.

DIVINE COMMENDATION

God’s repeating His covenant promises to Abram of innumerable descendants and a land in which they would dwell stressed His faithfulness. The divine covenant demonstrated a significant difference between God’s promises and human contracts. Not all human contracts, such as a government’s promise of justice for all citizens, are kept perfectly. The covenant to Abram, in contrast, would be kept by God for centuries—throughout all Old Testament history and beyond.

  1. Is boycotting the national anthem an effective way to protest perceived injustice? Why or why not? What alternative(s) do you believe would be more effective?
  2. The protests suggest that the U.S. government has failed to live up to its promises to provide universal justice. What evidence is cited that this social covenant has been broken?
  3. Abram was concerned that God had not yet kept his promise to give Abram descendants. Have you ever experienced what seemed like excessive delays in God’s response to your requests? Explain.
  4. How does God’s faithfulness in keeping His covenant with Abram give you a special reason for hope? Explain.

—Charles R. Boatman

http://www.standardlesson.com/downloads

Copyright © 2017 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 Word — September 24, 2017

By "In the World"

Download In the World for September 24 here.

A DYSTOPIAN FUTURE

At last week’s Emmys, The Handmaid’s Tale was a big winner. Set in the near future, Christian fundamentalists assassinate the President and most of Congress, suspend the U.S. Constitution, establish a totalitarian theocracy, and systematically enslave women to be breeders to provide children for an oppressive male ruling class.

The series is based on a novel by Canadian author Margaret Atwood written in the 1980s. It is meant to be a cautionary tale warning against the growing involvement by Christians in American politics, especially those who want to limit abortion on demand.

A FUTURE BLESSED BY GOD

The Handmaid’s Tale pictures the influence of a Bible-based morality as a threat to freedom. Old Testament history tells another story. Judah’s government had lost its godly direction, had become corrupt and immoral, and had lost its freedom.

Ezekiel paints a different portrait of Judah’s future than what Handmaid portrays for America. The people of Judah will return with pure hearts to their land. It will be a land of plenty which God will bless if Judah responds to the moving of God’s Spirit in their hearts.

  1. Have you watched The Handmaid’s Tale? If so, do you believe it depicts a plausible future? Explain.
  2. The TV series has recently been cited in political discourse to explain a so-called war on women and the recent defeat of a female presidential candidate. How do we respond to this critique of Christianity and the pro-life movement?
  3. In The Handmaid’s Tale, the fictitious Sons of Jacob staged a revolution to create a theocracy that was based on many of the laws of the Old Testament. How does that compare with those who call for a greater influence of Bible morality in America today?
  4. Do God’s promises to a repentant Judah also apply to America if our nation repents? Explain. What differences do you see between a theocracy and a nation of people with “new hearts?”

—Charles R. Boatman

 

http://www.standardlesson.com/downloads

Copyright © 2017 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 Word — September 17, 2017

By "In the World"

Download In the World for September 17 here.

NO RESPITE FROM BAD NEWS

For weeks, we’ve heard news of 100 or so wildfires burning throughout the West, taking lives and property with them. Then an 8.2 magnitude earthquake struck southern Mexico, accompanied by eerie lights in the sky and killing scores of people. Hurricane Harvey created disaster in Houston and spawned tornados as it moved inland. After Harvey came Irma, which decimated numerous Caribbean islands before coming ashore in Florida last weekend. The parade of natural disasters is starting to seem never-ending! The prospect of unabated bad news tests the human spirit.

SO WHERE’S THE GOOD NEWS?

It seems as if there’s no respite from bad news, but the millennia-old Sabbath command still stands as good news, helping us weather the storms of life. On a week-by-week basis, a day of rest brings refreshment and restoration to both body and spirit, allowing us time to reflect on God’s care for us. Our Maker knows about the storms we face. He also knows that our fallen human nature will fear that crises will come unabated. A weekly day of rest strengthens our bodies and renews our faith.

  1. From your perspective, how does an overwhelming spate of bad news affect the human spirit? How do fears of “more to come” compound the problem?
  2. In what way does Sabbath-keeping help us whether storms, both real and imagined?
  3. How do you practice the Sabbath principle? Have you had a bad experience from failing to keep a Sabbath? Explain.
  4. Some people use Bible passages such as Mark 13:7, 8 and Luke 21:25, 26 to support a view that the recent events mentioned above are signs of the end times. How can you tell whether such interpretations are legitimate and which are just another example of “the sky is falling” fear of the future?

—Charles R. Boatman

 

http://www.standardlesson.com/downloads

Copyright © 2017 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 – September 10, 2017

By "In the World"

Download In the World for September 10 here.

WHAT IDENTIFIES AN AMERICAN?

On Tuesday, President Trump announced an executive order rescinding the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) executive order that was put in place by President Obama. In doing so, President Trump gave Congress six months to move forward in dealing with children who were brought into the country illegally by their parents. DACA delays deportation actions against such youth. Trump’s action is seen by some as a simple legal matter, reversing an executive order issued by his predecessor. Others view it as a question of what should identify someone as “American.”

WHAT IDENTIFIES A CHILD OF GOD?

God commanded that Abraham and his male progeny be circumcised as a sign that they were in a covenant relationship with God. Circumcision was a physical symbol identifying who was to be considered a member of the Jewish people. However, as is true with many such matters, there is more to one’s identity than a legal code; there is a spiritual component, as well.

  1. What makes a person an American? By your definition, should children of undocumented immigrants be considered to be Americans? Explain.
  2. Do you see any parallel between legal documents for one’s entry to America and circumcision for Abraham and his descendants? Why or why not?
  3. How does the New Testament deal with the matter of circumcision as a sign of one’s relationship with God? See Romans 2:28, 29; Galatians 5:1-6.
  4. What should be the sign of a covenant relationship with God for Christians today? How should we treat “undocumented believers,” those professing believers who do not bear those signs?

—Charles R. Boatman

 

http://www.standardlesson.com/downloads

Copyright © 2017 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 – September 3, 2017

By "In the World"

Download In the World for September 3 here.

A FLOOD . . .

Hurricane Harvey slammed into the Texas coast last weekend as a Category 4 storm, bringing torrential rains that were forecast to total 50 inches in some places. One local official predicted the storm would go down in history as “an 800-year flood” as it moved through Texas and into Louisiana. Federal officials estimated that 30,000 people would need temporary shelter before the storm subsided. The military released water from two reservoirs to prevent even more massive destruction in central Houston, though increasing the risk of flooding in other areas.

 

. . . FOLLOWED BY A PROMISE

The flood in Noah’s time was immeasurably greater than the flood in Texas this past week. It is hard to imagine how Noah and his family coped with their circumstances while the waters rose and then subsided. However, their faithfulness was rewarded with an amazing promise from God: “Never again will all life be destroyed by the waters of a flood; never again will there be a flood to destroy the earth.” Then God gave the rainbow as a sign of the promise.

 

  1. Do storms such as Harvey come as retribution for human sin? Explain your answer.
  2. Do floods like this one in Texas represent a failure of God to keep his promise? Why or why not?
  3. Why does God still send rainbows even though massive destruction by floods still occur?
  4. Does it ever seem to you that God isn’t keeping his promises to you? Which ones? How do you resolve the matter?
  5. How do God’s promises help you to cope when life sends you “floods”?
  6. How do you show your gratitude to God when he saves you from calamity?

 

—Charles R. Boatman

http://www.standardlesson.com/downloads

Copyright © 2017 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 – August 27, 2017

By "In the World"

Download In the World for August 27 here.

A VISION IN THE HEAVENS

On Monday, the “great American eclipse” got the attention of a nation that has been focused for months on political rivalries and racism—prejudices that die hard. However, last weekend, millions of Americans were united in a singular quest: to find a way to view the August 21 eclipse in which the moon’s shadow traced a path from Oregon to South Carolina. For a time, and for at least some of us, the struggles and riots fomented by various prejudices took second place to a vision in the heavens.

 

A VISION FROM HEAVEN

The gloom of moral darkness also cast its shadow across the Roman world. The great eclipse of ethnic and religious prejudice could have prevented the church from extending beyond the Jews. Peter required a vision from heaven to convince him that, in God’s eyes, the barrier between Jews and Gentiles had been removed. God considers none of us “unclean,” and thus we are all equally included in God’s call to become a part of his fellowship through the church.

 

  1. What lesson, if any, do you see in the fact that a solar eclipse “eclipsed” the other earthly concerns of Americans for at least a short time?
  2. Why did it take an eclipse to join us together when the well-being of our nation was not sufficient cause to make us more inclusive in our attitudes?
  3. Likewise, why did it take a dramatic vision for Peter to be more inclusive in his attitudes?
  4. In what matters should the church be inclusive? Are there matters in which the church should be exclusive? If so, explain.
  5. Would some people assume they wouldn’t be welcome in your church? If so, what could be done to change that?

 

—Charles R. Boatman

 

http://www.standardlesson.com/downloads

Copyright © 2017 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 – August 20, 2017

By "In the World"

Download In the World for August 20 here.

A CLASH OF VISIONS

Charlottesville, Virginia, erupted in violence last week in a clash of visions. The riots came in response to the city’s plans to remove the statue of a Confederate general from a city park. Individuals variously referred to in the media as white nationalists, white supremacists, neo-Nazis, and members of the alt-right gathered to protest the city’s intentions in what was called a “Unite the Right” rally. A large group of counterprotesters also gathered, and soon racial taunts and name-calling turned into a riot. Tragically, a young man drove his car into the crowd of counterdemonstrators, killing one and injuring 19 others.

 

A SINGULAR VISION

The purpose of the vision God gave Ananias was to heal, not to hurt. He was called to heal the blindness of Saul, a man who was committed to destroying the church. Initially Ananias balked, sensing a great risk to himself, but he obeyed the divine call. In so doing, he played a key part in the apostle Paul’s conversion and subsequent preaching that helped to heal the division between Jews and Gentiles.

  1. What purposes do our society’s memorials serve?
  2. Does our worldview as Christians call for viewing those purposes differently? If so, in what way?
  3. Paul was converted from being a violent persecutor to being a peacemaking preacher. How can that transformation inform and inspire us in light of cultural tensions today?
  4. Have you ever experienced God calling you to follow a life-changing vision as Paul did? Explain.
  5. What vision is God giving you now in regard to being an agent of change in our mixed-up, polarized society?

—Charles R. Boatman

 

http://www.standardlesson.com/downloads

Copyright © 2017 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 – August 13, 2017

By "In the World"

Download In the World for August 13 here.

REFUSING TO HEAR

North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-un, has been claiming for months that his nation can now deliver nuclear bombs to the US mainland. His increasingly sophisticated missiles indicate his claims may well be correct. Kim has been unresponsive to warnings from the United States and other countries. Last week the UN Security Council unanimously voted to impose sanctions that will likely reduce North Korea’s export revenue by $1 billion a year. In response, Kim threatened that “the US mainland will sink into an unimaginable sea of fire” for “brandishing its nuclear and sanctions clubs.”

 

WANTING TO HEAR

None of us like to be told that we need to change our ways. The result of such an encounter depends heavily on how open we are to change. Unlike North Korea’s leader, the Ethiopian official was ready to heed a message that would change his life. When Philip crossed his path, the Ethiopian actively sought to hear Philip’s advice; and then he incorporated the good news he heard into his behavior.

 

  1. Do threats and sanctions work against leaders like Kim Jong-un? What other options would you suggest?
  2. Are Kim’s reactions typical of a person whose behavior has been challenged? Explain.
  3. When you are challenged about your ideas or behavior, do you wish your typical response would be different? If so, in what way?
  4. In your daily life, how do you find yourself challenging/encouraging others toward positive change?
  5. How do you compare with Philip in your willingness and ability to share the gospel, especially with someone who is different than you?

 

—Charles R. Boatman

http://www.standardlesson.com/downloads

Copyright © 2017 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 – August 6, 2017

By "In the World"

Download In the World for August 6 here.

CAN THE TESTIMONY BE TRUSTED?

O. J. Simpson was recently granted parole. He was convicted of armed robbery and kidnapping nine years ago. Prior to that he gained notoriety for his alleged role in the 1994 murders of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend Ron Goldman—and his acquittal in the subsequent high-profile trial. Simpson was found culpable in a later civil suit, resulting in a $33.5 million judgment against him. In all of these trials, the testimony was mixed and seemingly contradictory.

 

YES, THE TESTIMONY CAN BE TRUSTED

The first church in Jerusalem had a different kind of testimony problem, yet the question was the same: Can the church be believed in its claim to be a new kind of society—caring for all, with Christ’s love evident to every observer? One way to answer the question is to look at how an individual, organization, or society treats those who are least able to care for themselves. Mixed and contradictory testimony is not acceptable.

 

  1. What factors made O. J. Simpson’s trials so polarizing to the public?
  2. To what extent do you think contradictory testimony affected people’s opinion of the verdicts?
  3. How big of a problem does the church have in regard to its testimony to the world? What are the causes of this problem?
  4. Who are “the least” in our society whom the church should care for?
  5. What is the testimony of your church in this regard? What would you do to improve it?

 

—Charles R. Boatman

 

http://www.standardlesson.com/downloads

Copyright © 2017 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 30, 2017

By "In the World"

Download In the World for July 30 here.

DEATH IN A FOREIGN LAND

Last weekend 10 immigrants died after being locked in a truck that was found in a San Antonio parking lot. The victims were being transported by human traffickers. Many other victims were hospitalized for extreme dehydration and heatstroke. Such events provoke strong debate, with members of the Sanctuary Movement saying the incident is evidence of a need for change in immigration policies, while others say the event calls for stricter law enforcement. Either way, more than a score of people suffered or died in a land not their own.

 

A PREDICTION OF CAPTIVITY AND DEATH

Although Amos denied that he was a prophet, he responded to God’s call and delivered a message of doom for Israel. He proclaimed that both Israel’s king and its people would be taken captive and die in a foreign land. Unlike illegal immigrants who seek a better life in the United States, the Israelites would be transported to a strange land as exiles who were paying with their lives for their idolatry and sinfulness.

 

  1. Where should the blame be placed for the deaths in San Antonio?
  2. What other types of human trafficking are you aware of? How would you solve this problem as it appears in its many guises?
  3. What guidelines does the gospel offer to Christians for determining their attitudes and actions regarding this situation?
  4. What do you think Amos would say to America today?
  5. How might God be calling you to speak to our culture’s evils?

 

—Charles R. Boatman

 

http://www.standardlesson.com/downloads

Copyright © 2017 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 23, 2017

By "In the World"

Download In the World for July 23 here.

EATING THEIR WORDS

“Eating your words” is an expression used when people have boasted about what they will do but later discover that they are unable to accomplish it. When that happens, those words can have a bitter taste. We see a current example of the phenomenon in Washington. Unfulfilled campaign promises can plague members of either party, but right now it’s the Republicans’ turn. They are finding it difficult to deliver on their preelection boast that they would immediately repeal and replace Obamacare, and they are facing the ire of some of their most ardent supporters.

 

EATING GOD’S WORDS

God’s command to Ezekiel to eat a scroll symbolized the idea of making the word of God an integral part of our being. For the prophet, the scroll tasted as sweet as honey, because he was faithful to the Lord. However, if the people of Israel failed to listen to the words of God, those words would be bitter to them.

 

  1. What is there in our psychological makeup that makes us willing to believe the promises of politicians seeking our votes?
  2. In what areas of life, other than politics, do we see this same phenomenon? Give examples.
  3. In what ways have you found God’s words to be like honey to you?
  4. How can we ensure that others will find our words “as sweet as honey”?
  5. Specifically, what can you do to prevent “eating your words”?

 

—Charles R. Boatman

 

http://www.standardlesson.com/downloads

Copyright © 2017 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 16, 2017

By "In the World"

Download In the World for July 16 here.

WHAT WILL HE SAY?

Thousands of anti-capitalist anarchists descended on Hamburg, Germany when leaders of the G-20 industrialized nations met. They did not come to hear what anyone had to say; they came to create havoc. However, most people wanted to know what Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin would say to each other. Another question was whether President Trump would soften his voice on the US withdrawal from the Paris climate-change agreement.

 

THIS IS WHAT HE WILL SAY

God’s call to Jeremiah left little doubt as to what his message would be. It might seem like an anarchist message to some. God would overthrow established orders and ruling powers—but not for the sake of causing chaos. Jeremiah would speak God’s words in order to restore a reign of godliness. The prophet would be tempted to fear his audience, understandably so in light of the content of the messages God gave him.

 

  1. Why were the media so enthralled with the Trump-Putin face-off and the climate-change issue? Of what concern should those matters be to Christians?
  2. Do you see any value in the protesters’ presence during the G-20 meetings? Why or why not?
  3. Was God’s call to Jeremiah really a call to incite anarchy? Explain.
  4. How much effort should we expend to understand those with whom we disagree?
  5. Do you fear speaking out for God in our post-Christian culture? What would give you more confidence to do so?

 

—Charles R. Boatman

http://www.standardlesson.com/downloads

Copyright © 2017 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 9, 2017

By "In the World"

Download In the World for July 9 here.

CALLING EACH OTHER NAMES

“Liar, liar, pants on fire!” We’re all familiar with this childhood taunt. Unfortunately, that seems to be what political discourse in America has become. It is the nature of partisan debate on many issues. President Trump and his critics have taken up this kind of interchange. Last week the president tweeted harshly about the cohosts of MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” show. When the tweets raised a firestorm of protest, deputy press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders defended the president, essentially saying that when he gets criticized, he replies in kind.

 

CALLED BY GOD

When Isaiah was called by God, the seraphim didn’t shout “Sinner!” And Isaiah didn’t defend himself, as we all tend to do when criticized. Instead, as Isaiah stood in the presence of God, he recognized God’s holiness and admitted his own sinfulness. So it was that when God called him on a mission, Isaiah responded, “At your service!”

 

  1. What remedies would you recommend for the baseness of public discourse in America?
  2. Although we like to blame our leaders for our problems, how do we common citizens contribute to the harshness of public debate?
  3. How should awareness of God’s holiness affect the way we respond to criticism when it is unfair? . . . when it accurately points out our sin?
  4. How do Matthew 5:39 and Colossians 4:6 apply to this situation?
  5. How should God’s call to us as Christians determine the nature of our conversation with others?

 

—Charles R. Boatman

 

http://www.standardlesson.com/downloads

Copyright © 2017 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 2, 2017

By "In the World"

Download In the World for July 2 here.

FIRES THAT CONSUME

A week ago the West was on fire . . . figuratively. A week-long extreme heat wave brought 125 degrees to Death Valley, 122 degrees to Palm Springs, 111 degrees to Burbank, and even 96 degrees to Seattle! Las Vegas and Phoenix also suffered from the intense heat. As this past week began, the heat wave had moved eastward, but literal fire began to consume the West. Seven Western states were being ravaged by more than 20 wildfires that were destroying large areas and forcing thousands of people to flee from their homes.

 

A FIRE THAT DID NOT CONSUME

We don’t know if Moses had ever seen a wildfire, but the fire he saw on “the mountain of God” was stranger than anything he had ever seen. A bush was on fire but was not being consumed. As we would expect, Moses’ curiosity was aroused. Drawing near to the bush, Moses discovered that God was calling him to the greatest challenge of his life. When Moses tried to refuse the call, God promised to give him extraordinary power to accomplish what he was being called to do.

 

  1. Is God speaking to us through extreme weather conditions? If so, what is the message?
  2. Does God still use unusual physical circumstances to call people to serve him? Why or why not?
  3. Did Moses react to the burning bush and to God’s call the way most people would? Explain.
  4. Was Moses’ hesitancy due to insecurity or a lack of faith?
  5. Have you ever been in an unusual situation through which you perceived God to be speaking to you? Explain.

 

—Charles R. Boatman

 

http://www.standardlesson.com/downloads

Copyright © 2017 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 25, 2017

By "In the World"

Download In the World for June 25 here.

NOT AS HE SEEMED

The sexual assault trial of Bill Cosby ended a week ago with a hung jury. From 1984 to 1992, Cosby played the role of lovable Cliff Huxtable, named by TV Guide as the “greatest television dad.” In contrast, the comedian was portrayed by the prosecution in the trial as a sexual predator. Although Cosby has admitted to being an unfaithful husband in real life, he denied the charges against him during the classic “he said, she said” trial.

 

EXACTLY AS THEY SAID

When the angel told Manoah’s wife that their child was to be a Nazirite, they agreed to raise him according to that command. Their words were followed up by parental actions congruent with their promise. What they said was what they did. Unfortunately, Bill Cosby’s show-business portrayal of a good father did not mesh with the flawed person he was in real life.

 

  1. We may have opinions about the Cosby trial verdict, but is it appropriate to make judgments about his guilt or innocence (as many are doing) when we did not hear the evidence personally? Why or why not?
  2. How could Cosby play the role of Cliff Huxtable in good conscience when his personal life as husband and father did not measure up?
  3. If Cosby was otherwise a good father in real life, do his admitted serial infidelities diminish his stature as a father?
  4. Is Cosby different than the rest of us when it comes to having proverbial skeletons in the closet? Explain.
  5. What place, if any, do “vows” like Samson’s mother made have in parenting today?

 

—Charles R. Boatman

 

http://www.standardlesson.com/downloads

Copyright © 2017 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 18, 2017

By "In the World"

Download In the World for June 18 here.

LOYALTY, LEAKS, AND . . .

Former FBI director James Comey, who was fired by President Trump, testified in a highly anticipated congressional hearing last week. He claimed the president demanded loyalty from him in January, during their first meeting. Comey said he promised “honesty” instead. Comey also alleged Trump requested, during a private meeting in the Oval Office in February, that he drop investigations into former national security advisor Michael Flynn’s interactions with the Russians. Characterizing Trump as a liar, Comey admitted that his mistrust led him to ask a friend to leak information about their conversations.

 

. . . LEADERSHIP

Jephthah mistrusted the leaders of Gilead. His half-brothers had driven him from his home in Gilead because Jephthah’s mother, a prostitute, was not their mother; and Jephthah considered the elders complicit in this indignity (see Judges 11:7). Now these leaders were pleading with him to lead the Israelites into battle against the Ammonites. Jephthah challenged their fickleness and agreed to become their head only if they would vow their loyalty to him before the Lord.

 

  1. How do we determine truth and falsehood in what is happening in Washington these days?
  2. How would you rank political loyalty versus honesty? Why?
  3. Give examples of how these values might compete. Give an example of a life situation in which loyalty and honesty should be complementary.
  4. Was Jephthah justified to insist on loyalty from the leaders of Gilead? Why or why not?
  5. Is it appropriate to demand loyalty from people during serious negotiations today? In what ways do we do this?

 

—Charles R. Boatman

 

http://www.standardlesson.com/downloads

Copyright © 2017 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 11, 2017

By "In the World"

Download In the World for June 11 here.

FRUSTRATION

Last Saturday night, Britain suffered a third Islamist attack in three months when terrorists drove a van into pedestrians on London Bridge and then stabbed many victims in the nearby restaurant district. Seven were killed and dozens wounded. Theresa May, Britain’s prime minister, gave a strongly worded response. However, government efforts to restrict incitements to terror have been frustrated by free-speech impediments in British courts, creating a sense of impotence in dealing with such threats.

 

IMPOTENCE

Gideon may have felt a similar sense of impotence when called to deliver Israel from the Midianites. He found a number of excuses to resist God’s call: God’s current actions in Israel’s behalf weren’t as bold as they had been in the past, Gideon was from a weak clan, he was least in his family, he needed a divine sign, etc.

 

  1. How can a society which values privacy and the freedoms of speech, association, and religion protect itself from those who abuse those freedoms to destroy that society?
  2. Should temporary security measures such as those used in wartime be put in force to protect us today? Why or why not?
  3. Have you ever felt, as Gideon did, that God isn’t working in behalf of his people as he used to? Explain.
  4. Have you ever felt you were inadequate for what God called you to do? How did you deal with such feelings?
  5. When we are unsure of God’s will for us, should we seek signs? Why or why not?

 

—Charles R. Boatman

 

http://www.standardlesson.com/downloads

Copyright © 2017 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 4, 2017

By "In the World"

Download In the World for June 4 here.

ONE ASCENDANT WOMAN

In Europe a week ago, President Trump attended a NATO summit and a G-7 meeting of economic leaders. Historically, America’s president has been the leader at such meetings, but things changed this time. Angela Merkel, Germany’s “iron chancellor,” emerged from these meetings as the apparent new leader based on her fearless public criticism of Trump’s stated positions on climate change, trade, Russia, and NATO. Some might see irony in the fact that Merkel, a woman, had gained ascendancy—at least in the eyes of European delegates—over a strong-willed American president.

 

TWO VICTORIOUS WOMEN

Deborah was the only female among Israel’s judges. She delivered the news to Barak that God had chosen him to the lead the Israelites in their fight against Sisera, the commander of the Canaanite army. Barak’s unwillingness to go into battle against the Canaanites unless Deborah was at his side called out a demonstration of her toughness. She warned Barak that even though the Israelites would win, the honor of victory would go to a woman. We find out later that this woman would be Jael, who killed an exhausted Sisera while he was asleep.

 

  1. In politics, does it matter whether men or women are in leadership? Why or why not?
  2. What character traits make a good leader, whether male or female?
  3. Do you think God chose Deborah to be judge because no competent men were available, or for other reasons? Explain.
  4. There seems to be some irony in Deborah’s response to Barak. Do you suppose she enjoyed it? Would it have been right for her to do so?
  5. What principles from this biblical incident, if any, can we apply to leadership in today’s world?

 

—Charles R. Boatman

http://www.standardlesson.com/downloads

Copyright © 2017 by Standard Publishing, part of the David C Cook family. All rights reserved.

Each download is for the use of one church only.

 

In the World – May 28, 2017

By "In the World"

Download In the World for May 28 here.

A QUESTION OF VALUE

Jean-Michel Basquiat was once a graffiti painter. Now his work is celebrated by art collectors. On May 18, Basquiat’s graffiti-like painting of a skull, titled “Untitled,” brought $110.5 million at auction. The purchaser, Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa, beat out three other bidders. Last year Maezawa paid $57.3 million for another Basquiat work, also titled “Untitled,” in which the artist portrayed himself as a horned devil. About last week’s auction, one art collector gushed, “It’s a really historical moment.” However, many people outside the rarified air of the art connoisseur’s world find Basquiat’s work less remarkable.

 

A QUESTION OF VALUES

Jonah’s anger about God’s refusal to destroy Nineveh reflects a self-centeredness that prevented him from rejoicing in the work God was doing. He placed greater value on his own desire to see his message of divine retribution come true than he did on the 120,000 citizens of Nineveh whom God wanted to save.

 

  1. How might a person rationalize spending $110.5 million on a painting when there are so many worthy and needy causes in the world?
  2. Assuming you had the money, how would you spend $110.5 million?
  3. At a much lower level of expenditure, what questions come to your mind about the values we Christians express by our purchases?
  4. God questioned Jonah’s values on the basis of compassionate concern for others. How does that speak to our values?
  5. Does our response to current social issues ever mirror Jonah’s expression of self-centeredness? Explain and give examples.

 

—Charles R. Boatman

 

http://www.standardlesson.com/downloads

Copyright © 2017 by Standard Publishing, part of the David C Cook family. All rights reserved.

Each download is for the use of one church only.

In the World – May 21, 2017

By "In the World"

Download In the World for May 21 here.

THREATENING DESTRUCTION . . .

North Korea’s capricious leader, Kim Jong Un, engaged in saber rattling again this week. Kim boasted North Korea’s apparently successful missile test Sunday proves that his backward nation can now deliver “a large scale heavy nuclear warhead” and that the US mainland is in its “sighting range for strike.” Kim has long sought international recognition through military power rather than by more positive means such as developing economic strength to benefit his impoverished people.

 

. . . BUT PROMISING SALVATION

God threatened Nineveh with destruction, but not to boost his own fragile ego. Instead, God’s message through Jonah was intended to save the city’s residents by persuading them to turn from their sinful ways. Thus, the divine threat was a means of making the Ninevites aware of their need for salvation. Unlike so many human leaders, the king of Nineveh used his position to bring spiritual prosperity to his people.

 

  1. What differences do you see between Kim Jong Un and the king of Nineveh?
  2. What causes political leaders to put personal prestige ahead of the welfare of their people?
  3. Why are Christian leaders sometimes subject to similar temptations?
  4. The people of Nineveh needed threats of punishment before they would repent. Is this a universal human condition? Explain.
  5. How can we keep ourselves from needing to be threatened with punishment before we repent of sin?

 

—Charles R. Boatman

 

http://www.standardlesson.com/downloads

Copyright © 2017 by Standard Publishing, part of the David C Cook family. All rights reserved.

Each download is for the use of one church only.

In the World – May 14, 2017

By "In the World"

Download In the World for May 14 here.

KIDNAPPED AND HOPELESS

It was three years ago that Boko Haram, the extremely violent ISIS-related terrorist group, kidnapped 276 girls from a school in Nigeria. Some of the students escaped soon after they were kidnapped, and others have escaped or been released in the past year. Last Sunday, 82 of the girls were traded for five terrorist commanders, leaving 113 still missing. In what seems like a hopeless situation, Boko Haram has abducted thousands of people in the last few years, using them as sex slaves, human bombs, or bargaining chips in negotiations.

 

DESPERATE, BUT HOPEFUL

Jonah was also in a hopeless situation, all because of his refusal to answer God’s call. Sinking in the Mediterranean Sea, Jonah felt as if he was “deep in the realm of the dead.” But he cried out to God in hope of being saved, trusting that once again he would be able to praise God in his temple.

 

  1. What are the pros and cons of trading hostages for terrorists?
  2. How did Jonah’s desperate situation differ from that of the girls abducted by Boko Haram?
  3. How did Jonah’s failure to obey God mesh with his expression of hope that God would save him? In what ways are we like Jonah?
  4. What other apparently hopeless “hostage” situations exist in our modern world? Are you aware of any ministries committed to setting such people free?
  5. Are you acquainted personally with someone who was set free from some form of bondage? How did trust in God figure into their escape?

 

—Charles R. Boatman

http://www.standardlesson.com/downloads

Copyright © 2017 by Standard Publishing, part of the David C Cook family. All rights reserved.

Each download is for the use of one church only.

In the World – April 30, 2017

By "In the World"

Download In the World for April 30 here.

DISTORTED LOVE

On March 13, Tad Cummins, a 50-year-old school teacher, and Elizabeth Thomas, his 15-year-old former student, disappeared from Culleoka, Tennessee. There had been reports of a romantic relationship between them, and they apparently fled as the investigation into the affair developed. The pair’s location was unknown for five weeks, but they were finally found in an isolated cabin in northern California. Police were able to arrest Cummins without resistance. Elizabeth was safe and has been returned to her family, while Cummins faces several state and federal criminal charges.

 

SELFLESS LOVE

We humans find numerous ways to twist life circumstances so that our relationships become distorted into something outside of God’s will for us. Jesus spoke of how thieves try to steal the sheep, as opposed to the good shepherd who loves them and cares for them. Jesus does this even to the point of giving his life for them, as opposed to using them for selfish purposes, like a thief would.

 

  1. What can society do to prevent the kind of situation that developed between Tad Cummins and his student?
  2. What should the consequences be for Cummins?
  3. How can Christians be God’s agents in bringing healing to people like Cummins, Elizabeth Thomas, and their families?
  4. How can we avoid fooling ourselves into thinking our sins are OK?
  5. If you have experienced others trying to use you, can you express how Christ has cared for you in spite of your experience?

 

—Charles R. Boatman

 

http://www.standardlesson.com/downloads

Copyright © 2017 by Standard Publishing, part of the David C Cook family. All rights reserved.

Each download is for the use of one church only.

In the World – April 23, 2017

By "In the World"

Download In the World for April 23 here.

AN UNEXPECTED GIFT

Cayla Chandara moved from California to Hawaii to go to college. But then the 21-year-old dropped out and took on two waitress jobs to pay down her student loans before hopefully returning to school. Recently she served a friendly couple from Australia who were interested in hearing about her life and future dreams. Their bill was $200. After they left, Cayla discovered they gave her a $400 tip! The couple had mentioned where they were staying, so Cayla left a thank-you letter for them at the hotel’s front desk. The next evening, the tourists returned to the restaurant and gave Cayla $10,000 to pay off her loans and help her get back into college. Cayla said, “They have truly changed my life, not only financially but in the way I look at things.”

 

AN UNDESERVED GIFT

We occasionally hear about someone who donates a kidney or a portion of their liver to keep some worthy person alive. We don’t expect people to risk their lives for an undeserving person. But that’s what Jesus did for us—the godly died for the ungodly! In the process, he made us right with God, something we could not accomplish by ourselves.

 

  1. What do you think prompted the couple to give these gifts to Cayla, a person they had just met?
  2. Are you aware of other stories like this?
  3. Have you ever been moved to offer a generous gift to a deserving person? What moved you to do so?
  4. Have you ever refused even a small donation to someone you felt was “unworthy” of your help? Does Jesus’ gift make it more difficult to justify such a decision?
  5. How has Christ’s gift changed the way you approach life?

 

—Charles R. Boatman

 

http://www.standardlesson.com/downloads

Copyright © 2016 by Standard Publishing, Part of the David C. Cook Family. All rights reserved.

Each download is for the use of one church only.

In the World – April 16, 2017

By "In the World"

Download In the World for April 16 here.

SEVERELY DESTROYED . . .

Early on April 4, bombs bearing poisonous gas fell on Khan Sheikhoun, Syria, killing dozens of civilians. US intelligence determined the planes involved flew from a Syrian government airbase. Two days later, US warships in the Mediterranean fired 59 Tomahawk missiles at the base. Initial reports from the Pentagon asserted that 58 of the 59 missiles “severely degraded or destroyed” their intended targets. But the Kremlin contended that only 23 of the missiles reached the base. Within a couple of days the Syrian government, which claims not to even use chemical weapons, said it had resumed using the airbase.

 

. . . BUT ALIVE AGAIN!

Jewish and Roman authorities thought they had destroyed Jesus and dealt a death blow to the movement he had started. The evidence three days later, however, showed they were wrong. The tomb the authorities had made as secure as they knew how (Matthew 27:65) was empty. No body was found because Jesus was alive and observed by many witnesses. The heartbreak of the disciples had turned to inexpressible joy.

 

  1. Do conflicting accounts of events like the attack on the Syrian airbase cause you to be skeptical about the reliability of news reports? Why or why not?
  2. Whether Gospel accounts or current news reports, what factors go into your decision to believe them or not?
  3. Critics of Christianity deny the truthfulness of the “news reports” in the Gospels about Jesus’ resurrection. How would you respond to their skepticism?
  4. Have you ever discussed your faith in the resurrected Christ with a nonbeliever? What discussion points did you use? What was the result?
  5. What does Peter’s encouragement in 1 Peter 1:3-9 suggest about how we can witness to a culture that no longer believes in objective truth?

 

—Charles R. Boatman

 

http://www.standardlesson.com/downloads

Copyright © 2016 by Standard Publishing, Part of the David C. Cook Family. All rights reserved.

Each download is for the use of one church only.

In the World – April 9, 2017

By "In the World"

Download In the World for April 9 here.

FINDING NEW LIFE

Every spring for more than three-quarters of a century, March Madness has struck America. College-basketball fever infects the nation for a few weeks, as 68 teams enter into a single-elimination tournament. Last year the University of North Carolina lost the championship game to Villanova. Ever since then the Tar Heels talked about “redemption.” Monday night North Carolina found new life, beating Gonzaga for the 2017 crown. It was only the fourth time a team has won the national championship after losing the title game the previous year.

 

GIVEN NEW LIFE

Sports fans live for “next year,” hoping their team will experience a championship “rebirth.” Sometimes the difference is found in a team’s spirit. However, winning such a prize comes to only one team each year. The glory of the gospel is that the number of “winners” is limited only by the unwillingness of individuals to accept God’s gift of new life. Nicodemus, focusing on the flesh, had difficulty understanding this. Jesus redirected his attention to the realm of the Spirit.

 

  1. Can the church learn anything from March Madness in regard to creating excitement about the gospel? Explain.
  2. What dangers do you see in trying to learn from the secular world?
  3. Do you get as excited about your faith as you do about your other interests in life? If so, explain your passion.
  4. If not, how might Jesus’ teaching about the new birth be the remedy?
  5. What does “being born of the Spirit” mean in your life?

 

—Charles R. Boatman

 

http://www.standardlesson.com/downloads

Copyright © 2016 by Standard Publishing, Part of the David C. Cook Family. All rights reserved.

Each download is for the use of one church only.

In the World – April 2, 2017

By "In the World"

Download In the World for April 2 here.

SUDDEN DEATH

Last Wednesday Americans Kurt and Mellissa Cochran were celebrating their 25th wedding anniversary in London, walking on the Westminster Bridge, when a terrorist drove his car into them. Kurt and one other person were killed on the bridge before the assailant drove to the Parliament grounds, where he killed a policeman with a knife. The attacker was shot and killed by police, but not before he injured 50 other victims. ISIS has claimed that one of their “soldiers” was the assassin, and several suspected accomplices have been arrested.

 

ABIDING COMFORT

When unexpected evil suddenly strikes us, we are challenged to discover whether the resources of our faith can withstand the blow. Christians needing comfort often read Psalm 23 in such situations. This passage of Scripture is among those most commonly read at funeral services. A significant reason for the psalm’s popularity is the psalmist David’s claim to have no fear of evil, even when he was walking through life’s darkest valleys.

 

  1. How do you react when you hear that another Islamic terrorist has struck innocent victims far from the Middle East?
  2. Should we react differently than what you just expressed? Why? If so, in what way?
  3. How does David’s promise of God’s care in Psalm 23 help you live in an age when terror of more than one kind can strike at any moment?
  4. What does it mean to you that God prepares a feast for you in the presence of your enemies?
  5. Share with the group how Psalm 23 has brought you peace during a difficult time in your life.

 

—Charles R. Boatman

 

http://www.standardlesson.com/downloads

Copyright © 2016 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 26, 2017

By "In the World"

Download In the World for March 26 here.

A PASSIONATE DEBATE

Conservative justice Antonin Scalia’s death last year left the US Supreme Court divided 4-4 on many issues. This week, the Senate passionately debated the nomination of Neil Gorsuch to the court. Many see the Senate hearings as a battle for the spirit of the nation. The dream of conservatives is that a court with the 49-year-old Justice Gorsuch on it would bring more traditional rulings for decades to come. Liberals have visions of a court more attuned to what they might call the spirit of our times.

 

A PROPHETIC CALL

The prophet Joel lived in and prophesied to the nation of Judah, the southern kingdom of Israel, during a time when the country was devastated by a locust plague. He viewed Judah as a nation whose supreme judge was God and whose national spirit was formed and guided by the Spirit of God. The Lord promised to restore Judah to a place of honor among the nations and to make Jerusalem a place of deliverance and salvation.

 

  1. Why do both sides of the Senate view the stakes of the Gorsuch nomination to be so high?
  2. Is it better for the Supreme Court to “tilt” to the left or the right? On what issues and why?
  3. Regardless of which direction the court moves, do you see a need for America’s spirit to be restored to what it was in a previous era? Explain.
  4. Does Joel’s call to return to the Lord (Joel 2:13) speak to us today? If not, why not? If so, how?
  5. Does Joel’s promise that Judah would not be an object of scorn (Joel 2:19) offer you hope for the Christian faith to be more highly regarded in our nation? Why or why not?

 

—Charles R. Boatman

http://www.standardlesson.com/downloads

Copyright © 2016 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 19, 2017

By "In the World"

Download In the World for March 19 here.

THE COST OF HEALTH CARE

One of President Trump’s campaign promises is currently being tested by Congress as it struggles over a replacement for the Affordable Care Act. The debate is largely along partisan lines, but Republicans are far from united about what the outcome should be. The challenge seems overwhelming: What can be pruned from the ACA to save the government money while still providing a reasonable and fair level of medical care for citizens without costing them more than they can personally afford?

 

THE COST OF LOVE

At the heart of the ACA-replacement debate is the question of whether the government should pay (or at least subsidize) the cost of health insurance for all its citizens. Obeying Jesus’ words to “Love each other as I have loved you” (John 15:12) is difficult enough for us individually. How much more difficult to do this as a society, especially when it demands sacrifice by some to benefit others!

 

  1. Is legislating universal health care a possible, appropriate, or reasonable way for a nation to “love” its citizens?
  2. Should Jesus’ command to love others have any effect on the way Christians think about societal issues such as health care? Why or why not?
  3. What personal challenges do you face in regard to loving others?
  4. Jesus speaks of the pruning activity of our loving heavenly Father. In what way have you seen this at work in your life?
  5. How does knowledge of Jesus’ love for you “make your joy complete” (John 15:11)?

 

—Charles R. Boatman

 

http://www.standardlesson.com/downloads

Copyright © 2016 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 12, 2017

By "In the World"

Download In the World for March 12 here.

IT’S THE LAW . . .

President Trump announced a new executive order regarding Middle Eastern and African immigrants on Monday. The White House insisted that the new ban was country-based, not religion-based. On another immigration front, national policy regarding immigrants already in the country illegally remains a point of contention. Critics of the administration continue to call for looser immigration policies. Overall, the issue seems to be whether immigration policy should be strictly a matter of law or whether some grace should be extended in individual cases regarding deportation decisions.

 

. . . BUT SHOULD GRACE BE EXTENDED?

Law versus grace is an age-old issue. Jesus’ opponents criticized him for not keeping the Jewish law, even though he said he had come to fulfill the Law and the Prophets (Matthew 5:17). Today’s text makes it plain that trying to achieve salvation by works—i.e., by keeping the law—only brings death, because none of us (unlike Jesus) can do that successfully. The glory of the gospel is that God’s grace through Christ brings us from spiritual death to everlasting life.

 

  1. Should immigration policy be strictly a matter of law? Why or why not?
  2. Should grace have any role in enforcement decisions? If so, in what situations? If not, why not?
  3. Do passages such as Leviticus 19:34 and Luke 10:25-37 apply to this issue? Explain.
  4. In what ways do our transgressions and sins make us “dead”?
  5. What should the effects of God’s grace be in our lives?

 

—Charles R. Boatman

 

http://www.standardlesson.com/downloads

Copyright © 2016 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 5, 2017

By "In the World"

Download In the World for March 5 here.

HATEFUL ACTIONS

On Monday, 20 Jewish community centers and schools in 12 states received bomb threats, for a total of 89 this year. The day before, about 100 headstones in a Jewish cemetery in Philadelphia were knocked over. A week before that, more than 150 headstones were toppled in a Jewish cemetery near St. Louis. In the latter case, a Muslim activist group initiated a crowdfunding campaign that raised $55,000. In January, a mosque in Texas burned, and Americans contributed more than a million dollars to repair it.

 

LOVING ATTITUDES

The human race finds the command to love one another difficult to obey. Desecration of religious sites and cemeteries is one of the most hateful ways this fact is demonstrated. Such attacks have caused Jewish and Muslim communities in the United States to express increasing fear in recent months. On the other hand, John says loving others is the way we know that we live in Christ and he lives in us. And God’s perfect love casts out fear.

 

  1. Why do you think we are seeing an outbreak of threats and actions against Jewish and Muslim sites?
  2. Are the contributions to repair the damaged sites an indication of a basic goodness in Americans? Why or why not?
  3. How can we love people who hold to a religion in which some adherents have proved to be a violent threat to our way of life? Explain.
  4. If you discovered that Christians had desecrated the cemeteries and mosque, what would be your attitude toward those persons?
  5. What helps you love people whom you find unlikeable?

 

—Charles R. Boatman

 

http://www.standardlesson.com/downloads

Copyright © 2016 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 – February 26, 2017

By "In the World"

Download In the World for February 26 here.

DECAY . . .

A decaying national infrastructure is in the news. In California, the problems at Oroville Dam recently caught the public’s attention. Water in Flint, Michigan has been polluted for years with lead, E. coli, and dangerous levels of many chemicals. Texas roads, dams, flood control, and drinking water get a D or D– grade from the American Society of Civil Engineers. So it goes around the country. The American Society of Civil Engineers estimates that an investment of $3.6 trillion will be needed by 2020 to rectify the situation. Many say Americans have been selfishly spending money for years to make ourselves comfortable, though unwilling to allocate funds to keep us safe and well.

 

. . . AND GROWTH

Paul’s instructions to the Galatians emphasize the fruit of the Spirit—character traits that are directed to enriching the lives of others first and ourselves incidentally. The apostle warns us that we eventually “get what’s coming to us,” as the old saying goes. The principle seems to apply to societies as well as individuals.

 

  1. Do you think America’s infrastructure problems prove that “we reap what we sow,” to use Paul’s terminology? Explain.
  2. Beyond that, to what extent do you think the nation’s social problems are the result of “the acts of the flesh,” to use another of Paul’s phrases?
  3. Is reluctance to tax ourselves for the common good an indication of national selfishness?
  4. What have you found in your own life to be the benefit of cultivating the fruit of the Spirit? Give some specific examples.

 

—Charles R. Boatman

 

http://www.standardlesson.com/downloads

Copyright © 2016 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 – February 19, 2017

By "In the World"

Download In the World for February 19 here.

WHEN THE LAW IS GOOD . . .

Law enforcement authorities ordered more than 180,000 people in northern California to evacuate several towns last Sunday night. Some people did not evacuate, thinking they could save themselves. Authorities feared that the 770-feet high Oroville dam—the tallest in the country—was in danger of failing due to recent heavy rains. The main spillway had already been damaged, and Sunday the reservoir reached its capacity and overflowed the emergency spillway. That’s when authorities used the power of the law to force the evacuation. If the dam had failed, their order could have possibly saved countless lives.

 

. . . AND WHEN IT ISN’T

In Galatia, Christians had found spiritual freedom by trusting in the grace of God. Later, many of them were persuaded to retreat from faith. They began to trust in the law’s commandments and their own ability to fulfill those commandments as the means to gain God’s favor and love. Paul reminded them that the law could not save them and neither could they save themselves.

 

  1. Are the edicts of civil law always good? Is religious “law” always bad? What exceptions can you cite?
  2. What parallels do you see between people’s refusal to obey the evacuation orders and some Christians’ rejection of the gospel?
  3. Why did the Galatians turn back from the gospel to the law?
  4. In what ways are Christians tempted to do the same today? Give examples.
  5. Do you struggle with this issue in your spiritual life? Explain.

 

—Charles R. Boatman

http://www.standardlesson.com/downloads

Copyright © 2016 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 – February 12, 2017

By "In the World"

Download In the World for February 12 here.

FAKE NEWS

“Fake news” has become a hot topic recently. We’ve heard politicians and journalists charge others with promoting “alternative facts.” Of course, that concept has been with us for a long time. We called it propaganda in the Cold War era. In recent years, postmodern thinking has called into question whether anything is really “true.” The validity of Christian teaching is now widely questioned, and America has been inundated by the advocacy of “alternative lifestyles.”

 

REAL NEWS

The new Christians in Galatia had heard “real news” when the apostle Paul visited them. Literally, it was good news—the gospel of Jesus Christ. However, they later began to listen to—and believe—fake news. False teachers beguiled them into forsaking their freedom in Christ for a return to the slavery of adhering to the Old Testament law.

 

  1. To what extent does our culture’s acceptance of the postmodern “your truth” and “my truth” notion plays into the fake news issue?
  2. If real truth does not exist, how does this affect our faith in Christ?
  3. How should Christians confront our culture’s denial of ultimate truth?
  4. Tell the group about a conversation you’ve had with someone regarding whether the teachings of Christianity are true. What were their objections? What was the result of the conversation?
  5. How does the legalism the Galatians fell into show itself among Christians today?

 

—Charles R. Boatman

 

http://www.standardlesson.com/downloads

Copyright © 2016 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 – February 5, 2017

By "In the World"

Download In the World for February 5 here.

SHARPLY DIVIDED!

Two marches took place in Washington recently. The unifying theme of the Women’s March on January 21 seemed to be opposition to newly inaugurated President Trump. It also touted a multitude of causes spread over a wide spectrum of concerns, including climate change, immigration, LGBT rights, and “women’s health issues.” The last topic was also addressed by the March for Life on January 27. Some in the conservative media called this “the real women’s march,” as it was “pro-life” rather than “pro-choice.”

 

TOTALLY UNITED?

The two marches demonstrate the distinct difference between the way we function in secular society and how God expects us to function in the church of Jesus Christ. Secular society is rife with division over many issues, but Christ calls us to recognize that all believers stand on level ground before the cross, with neither ethnic, social, nor gender discrimination taking place. The question for us is whether we are living up to the divine call!

 

  1. Do competing marches, such as those in Washington recently, serve a valid function in America? Explain.
  2. To what extent is the church contributing to unity between races? In what ways does the church fail?
  3. Is our modern social-class system an appropriate lens through which to view the “neither slave nor free” concept? Explain.
  4. How has your church handled the “neither male nor female” issue in terms of leadership and service roles?
  5. How can Christians experience unity in Christ if we disagree on these significant issues?

 

—Charles R. Boatman

 

http://www.standardlesson.com/downloads

Copyright © 2016 by Standard Publishing, Part of the David C. Cook Family. All rights reserved.

Each download is for the use of one church only.

In the World – January 29, 2017

By "In the World"

Download In the World for January 29 here.

DIVIDED PERSPECTIVES

Last week we saw once again how divided America is. Although throngs of people converged on Washington to witness Donald Trump’s inauguration (the size of the crowd eliciting its own controversy), large demonstrations followed the inauguration. It was estimated that hundreds of thousands of people demonstrated in Washington, New York, Chicago, and other cities. Demonstrations also took place in over 600 cities around the world. Behind the anxiety is distrust of the new administration and fear of how unknown policies will affect trade, human rights, the economy, immigration, and other matters. On the other hand, many Americans are happy to see change taking place.

 

UNDIVIDED PRAISE

The psalmist draws a picture of unity when he speaks of creation’s praise for God. Not only the created “things,” but humans of every age and classification, join in this undivided praise of God. The reason behind this outpouring of adulation is that God is consistently good in his governing of the universe. We may safely trust both his wisdom and his power, something we can never be sure of regarding any human authority figure or force.

 

  1. What do you think is the most significant reason for the strong reactions in so many places against the inauguration of President Trump?
  2. Do you think the psalmist overstates the case for all of creation offering undivided praise to God? Why or why not?
  3. How would you answer people who contend that God isn’t good and offer examples of what they think proves it?
  4. How do you make sure that you are consistently praising God?

 

—Charles R. Boatman

 

http://www.standardlesson.com/downloads

Copyright © 2016 by Standard Publishing, Part of the David C. Cook Family. All rights reserved.

Each download is for the use of one church only.

In the World – January 22, 2017

By "In the World"

Download In the World for January 22 here.

CONTINUING CRITICISM

Donald J. Trump became the 45th president of the United States on Friday. One week earlier, a media feud developed between Trump and Congressman John Lewis. Lewis called Trump’s election “illegitimate,” and Trump fired back a tweet that was harshly critical of the longtime Georgia congressman. In the aftermath, a growing number of Democratic members of Congress vowed to join Lewis in protesting Trump’s election by not attending the inaugural ceremonies. The animosity of the election campaign is continuing as the new administration takes office.

 

CEASELESS PRAISE

What is happening in Washington stands in stark contrast to what Psalm 104 says of God’s reign over the universe. Without contradiction, God’s creation speaks with ceaseless praise of his greatness. The heavens, the earth, the sea, and all the creatures speak of God’s power.

 

  1. What do you see as your Christian responsibility regarding the divisive attitudes displayed in Washington and around the country at this time?
  2. Have you been able to develop a more charitable attitude toward the candidate(s) you voted against? If so, how?
  3. How are you praying for the new president (Romans 13:1-7; 1 Timothy 2:1, 2)? How are you praying for his critics?
  4. How does creation express praise to God?
  5. Why do you think humans so often fail to do the same?

 

—Charles R. Boatman

 

http://www.standardlesson.com/downloads

Copyright © 2016 by Standard Publishing, Part of the David C. Cook Family. All rights reserved.

Each download is for the use of one church only.

In the World – January 15, 2017

By "In the World"

Download In the World for January 15 here.

WATER BRINGS SADNESS

Perhaps in the form of torrential rains or blizzard-like snow conditions, the first week of January brought challenging, wet weather to most of the United States. In the drought-stricken West, multiple storms filled recently empty reservoirs to overflowing. California’s famous Pioneer Cabin sequoia tree—believed to be 1,000 years old (and having a car-sized hole carved through it in the 1880s)—fell because of the rain. In the South, severe flooding spread from Texas to Florida. Meanwhile, the North and East experienced heavy snowfall that blocked roads and caused numerous multivehicle crashes.

 

WATER BRINGS GLADNESS

The psalmist speaks of God as the source of water that does us good: enriching the land, bringing forth a bounty that blesses us and causes us to sing joyfully. The fact that some of the water with which the earth abounds at the present brings suffering and sadness may sometimes cause us to question the way God works through the natural forces he has put in place.

 

  1. In response to destructive natural phenomena like we have seen recently, how would you answer the question, “Why does God allow such things to happen?”
  2. Are such events really “acts of God,” as they are sometimes called? Explain.
  3. Have you ever experienced loss through a flood, blizzard, or another weather event? How did your faith help you cope with the situation?
  4. Should we praise God for tragic events? Why or why not?
  5. Would you prefer to phrase question 4 differently? If so, how does that help you deal with difficult circumstances?

 

—Charles R. Boatman

 

http://www.standardlesson.com/downloads

Copyright © 2016 by Standard Publishing, Part of the David C. Cook Family. All rights reserved.

Each download is for the use of one church only.

In the World – January 8, 2017

By "In the World"

Download In the World for January 8 here.

A NEW YEAR

A week ago today, we celebrated the beginning of a new year. Most people found the year past was—as usual—a combination of good and bad circumstances and experiences. In hope of making their lives better, many people start the new year by making resolutions . . . and soon after breaking them! Surveys show that the most common broken resolutions include efforts to 1) lose weight and get fit, 2) quit smoking, 3) learn something new, 4) eat healthier and diet, 5) get out of debt and save money, 6) spend more time with family, 7) travel to new places, 8) be less stressed, 9) volunteer, and 10) drink less.

 

A NEW SONG

Psalm 96 provides a different focus for us. Rather than urging us to resolve to work at improving ourselves, it commands us to “sing to the Lord a new song.” That is, self-improvement starts with having a new attitude toward God: praising—and obeying—the one who gives us salvation. Without turning to God, our own efforts to be better people will achieve limited success.

 

  1. What do you think causes most New Year’s resolutions to be abandoned?
  2. Do you make such resolutions? With what kind of resolutions have you found the most success?
  3. What spiritual resolutions do you think Christians should make?
  4. How does praising God fit into your self-improvement agenda?
  5. This year, if you were to focus on one new praise to offer to God daily, what would it be?

 

—Charles R. Boatman

 

http://www.standardlesson.com/downloads

Copyright © 2016 by Standard Publishing, Part of the David C. Cook Family. All rights reserved.

Each download is for the use of one church only.

In the World – January 1, 2017

By "In the World"

Download In the World for January 1 here.

THE POWER OF PEOPLE’S WORDS

The year just completed provided numerous examples of the power of words. In 2016, political campaigns from local to national demonstrated how words can stir people to support a candidate they dislike (or perhaps vote for a different candidate whom they dislike less). In some states, words persuaded the electorate to legalize the use of marijuana, either recreationally or for medicinal purposes. Across the nation, words incited violence against various ethnic groups and against law enforcement officers. In short, we saw how words can be used to divide and destroy.

 

THE POWER OF GOD’S WORDS

On the other hand, as we read in Psalm 33, God demonstrated the positive, creative power of words when he spoke the universe into being. From the stars that fill the highest heavens to the creatures in the deepest seas, God spoke, and they came into existence. What is more, he has given to us the privilege—and the command—to speak his praise and create good with the words we speak!

 

  1. From all the reports you saw and heard in 2016, what words demonstrated the greatest power to divide our nation? . . . to unite us?
  2. From your personal experience last year, give examples of words that either hurt or healed. What were the circumstances, and what were the results?
  3. How would you compare the creative power of God’s words with the power of our words to either create or destroy?
  4. How can Christians “speak peace” to a divided and warring world?
  5. What changes in your speech will you be making in 2017? Have you made resolutions to that effect?

 

—Charles R. Boatman

 

http://www.standardlesson.com/downloads

Copyright © 2016 by Standard Publishing, Part of the David C. Cook Family. All rights reserved.

Each download is for the use of one church only.