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“In the World”

In the World–September 19, 2021

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Download “In the World” for September 19, 2021 here.

DESPERATE FOR NURSES

“Stress is part of the game when you sign up to be an emergency medicine RN, but this is another level.” Trauma nurse Matt Miele made it through the brutal early waves of COVID-19, though not without extreme stress. But just when he and his burned-out peers thought things were heading back toward normalcy, the Delta variant hit. “We thought the pandemic would be over soon and could take time later to deal with our emotions,” said Zenei Triunfo-Cortez, president of National Nurses United. But it was not to be. Now, hospitals and clinics across America deal with critical nursing shortages, and the nurses who remain are being pushed beyond the breaking point. “Some days coming home from the hospital I yell at God, I yell at myself, I yell at COVID and cry,” said ICU nurse Mary Lynn Briggs. “And that’s all before I pull into my driveway.” The need for more nurses is desperate, but the nurses themselves are becoming emotionally desperate.

DESPERATE FOR GOD

Life was hard for Bartimaeus, a blind beggar in Jericho during the ministry of Jesus. Perhaps word of the miraculous healing powers of Jesus had reached his ears, and perhaps he found himself longing for a chance to gain access to him. But how could he? He couldn’t exactly just hop up and go find him. So when he heard that Jesus was in Jericho, actually near enough that he could reach him, Bartimaeus leapt up and awkwardly but boldly stumbled toward the Messiah, crying out to Jesus. People told him to be quiet, but his desperation only surged, and he wailed for mercy. Jesus rewarded his faith by healing his blindness.

  1. When in your life were you most desperate for something?
  2. In what ways could your church minister in Jesus’ name to local nurses and other medical staff?
  3. What is the relationship between Bartimaeus’ desperation and the faith Jesus praises him for?

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 © 2021 by Standard Publishing, part of the David C Cook family.
All rights reserved. Each download is for the use of one church only.

In the World–September 12, 2021

By "In the World"

Download “In the World” for September 12, 2021 here.

DANCING TO HONOR A CHARITY

More than 200 people gathered in Toledo, Ohio, recently to raise money for a local charity. The event was a mock dance competition with area performers, in which the audience voted for their favorite dance couple. But the real winners were the children served by the Ottawa County Family Advocacy Center, which supports local families by “providing compassionate support as they navigate the educational, legal, and social systems of our community.” This year’s banquet was the 13th anniversary of the event, and attendees raised more than $20,000. The community rose up in dance to honor a group doing good in their community.

DANCING TO WORSHIP GOD

King David leapt and danced before the Lord with all his might when he and the people brought the ark of the Lord into Jerusalem. His own appearance and dignity were not as important to him as his worship of the Lord God. His own wife, Michal, did not approve, however. She saw him cavorting about, and she despised him in her heart. But God was pleased with David’s worship, because he had risen up in dance to give honor to Him.

  1. What’s the most extreme expression of celebration you’ve ever given?
  2. Which expressions of worship are you more comfortable with? Which expressions are you less comfortable with?
  3. In what ways can we express joyful worship to God today?

Additional Resources

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

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

In the World–September 5, 2021

By "In the World"

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A SONG BY VICTORY

Victory Brinker, a nine-year-old singer from Pennsylvania, wowed the judges on a popular television talent show, and last month moved on to the semifinals of the competition. At the age of six, Victory saw someone singing opera, and she knew what she wanted to do with her life. But in the second round of the TV show, she increased the drama by changing her song at the last minute. Happily, she performed beautifully and moved on to the semis. “If I impress the judges, that’s wonderful,” Victory told a reporter. “My goal is to get a standing ovation by the judges.” She achieved this, and the song of Victory propelled her onward.

A SONG OF VICTORY

Immediately after God brought the people across the Red Sea on dry land and plunged Pharaoh’s army to their deaths, Moses and Miriam sang a song of victory of their own. With God’s arm outstretched like that, all Israel’s other enemies would think twice about opposing them. Propelled onward by this triumph and their song of victory, God’s people moved toward the Promised Land.

  1. When has a very young person wowed you with their talent or knowledge?
  2. What can make someone’s enemies think twice about opposing them?
  3. What could the Israelites know about God’s character in light of His deliverance at the Red Sea?

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 © 2021 by Standard Publishing, part of the David C Cook family.
All rights reserved. Each download is for the use of one church only.

In the World–August 29, 2021

By "In the World"

Download “In the World” for August 29, 2021 here.

TEMPORARY HOUSING

Integrated Refugee and Immigration Services (IRIS) is a non-profit organization based in New Haven, Connecticut. They help refugee families find housing, jobs, and support. With the American withdrawal from Afghanistan this month, IRIS is seeking to help a large influx of Afghan refugee families, often receiving only 24 hours’ notice before a family arrives. The organization’s leaders are calling for temporary housing—like unoccupied apartments or vacation homes—to be made available for these families. “Receiving families on short notice when we’re already at full tilt because of the pandemic operations, it’s really stretched our budget,” said Ann O’Brien, director of community engagement at IRIS. Meanwhile, the families long for a permanent dwelling too. “As of right now,” O’Brien said, “the housing market is so tight that it takes us two weeks to find permanent housing that they can afford, so we’re incurring hotel costs, which is why we’re looking for temporary housing.”

TEMPORARY HOME

In today’s passage, Paul was thinking of leaving his temporary home behind to move into eternal dwellings. He knew his time on earth, in the earthly dwelling of his body, would someday come to an end. He longed to cast off his physical body and clothe himself with his permanent dwelling—in his permanent home. But he knew he had work to do here until that day, and he was determined to be faithful to his Lord.

  1. What would be your hopes if your family needed to flee from your home country?
  2. How eagerly do you share Paul’s desire to leave this life and put on eternity?
  3. How do you seek to be pleasing to the Lord while you are still in the temporary housing of this life?

Additional Resources

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

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

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

In the World–August 22, 2021

By "In the World"

Download “In the World” for August 22, 2021 here.

THE PROOF IS IN THE PUDDING

Earlier this month, a representative of a ransomware group made an encouraging promise. Ransomware is a form of computer hacking in which a company’s software is rendered unusable unless the company pays millions of dollars in ransom. Targets of such attacks this year include Colonial Pipeline, Kia Motors, and the National Basketball Association (NBA). But pressure from the White House may be having an impact. A spokesperson for ransomware group BlackMatter promised to leave crucial infrastructures alone. But computer security experts are skeptical. “The fact that a single group has said it will avoid attacks on critical infrastructure,” said Brett Callow, a threat analyst at Emsisoft, is “a meaningless nothing-burger.” Whether the word of computer hackers can be trusted is yet to be seen. The proof will be in the pudding.

THE PROOF IS IN THE LOVE

In our passage today, the Apostle John writes that the evidence of someone’s faith will be his or her love shown toward others. As Paul had written previously, even the most laudable of actions are suspect if they are not done in love. Confessing the divinity of Jesus and living in God’s love is how we can identify those who truly belong to the Lord. The proof will be in our love.

  1. Who do you know who has been affected by hackers or other malicious computer users?
  2. When have you taken a wait-and-see approach on someone’s promise or claim?
  3. How can we be sure we are acting in love as we interact with others?

Additional Resources

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

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

www.standardlesson.com/category/in-the-world
Copyright © 2021 by Standard Publishing, part of the David C Cook family.
All rights reserved. Each download is for the use of one church only.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DUA-e_X_JZU

In the World–August 15, 2021

By "In the World"

Download “In the World” for August 15, 2021 here.

PERSEVERING THROUGH COVID

New York City veteran firefighter Kinga Mielnik nearly died from COVID-19 and suffered a miscarriage in the last year. After 20 years fighting fires with the FDNY, it was the coronavirus that almost took her life. But the mother of five young boys persevered and fought for her life in Bellevue Hospital. When she was still recovering, she got pregnant again and she and her husband had their sixth child—a girl, at last: Aleksandra. “You never know what was going to happen with COVID, but you have got to let life go on,” Mielnik said. “Some people were afraid to have kids during the pandemic and put it off, but you can’t let things like this stop you from living.”

PERSEVERING THROUGH PERSECUTION

The writer of Hebrews called upon believers to persevere in their faith despite public insult, persecution, prison, and the loss of their property. They suffered for Christ in ways that might cause some people to turn from the Lord and throw away their confidence. The author called on them to hold fast to the end so they would receive the reward promised to those who endure.

  1. What things have you put on hold because of COVID, and what things have you continued doing no matter what?
  2. What’s the most inspiring story of perseverance you’ve ever heard?
  3. How might hardship or persecution help refine your faith in God?

Additional Resources

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

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

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

In the World–August 8, 2021

By "In the World"

Download “In the World” for August 8, 2021  here.

SUSTAINED BY FAITH IN TOKYO

Grace McCallum, 18, is a member of the U.S. women’s gymnastics team at the Tokyo Olympics. She credits her faith in Christ as sustaining her not only through years of training but also through a serious injury earlier this year. Until Tokyo, her parents had never missed one of her competitions. The thought of being without them in Japan has driven Grace to the Lord even more. “I’ll really be leaning on my faith,” she said before the Olympics. “My dad is sending me a couple of prayers to say before each practice in the morning. I think that will be really helpful to keep me at peace and calm while I’m there.”

SUSTAINED BY FAITH IN LIFE

Faith is the chief quality the Lord requires in those who follow Him. Christians are referred to as believers, which shows the importance of faith in our spiritual lives. Our passage today is a brilliant rewind of great examples of people of faith throughout Scripture. “By faith Abel…” and “By faith Enoch…” and “By faith Noah…” The writer of Hebrews heaps up reminder after reminder that faith is difficult, and sometimes deadly, but it is what it takes to follow Jesus not only to the cross, if necessary, but then on to the city that God has prepared for those who believe.

  1. How has your faith sustained you when the pressure was on?
  2. Who are some of your heroes of faith, both in the Bible and in life?
  3. In what way does faith make us strangers or pilgrims on earth?

Additional Resources

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

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

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

In the World–August 1, 2021

By "In the World"

Download “In the World” for August 1, 2021  here.

SCHOOL LUNCH FOR ALL

This fall, California public school students, all 6.2 million of them, will be offered free school lunches, regardless of income. There has been a perceived stigma against children who accept school lunches, causing many who need the offered meal to be ashamed to take it. “This is so historic,” said Erin Primer, director of food services for the San Luis Coastal Unified School District. “It’s beyond life-changing.” This is the largest free lunch program in the nation, but other states are watching California’s experiment carefully, and Maine has already announced a similar plan. “We’ve completely leveled the playing field when it comes to school food,” Primer said.

SALVATION FOR ALL

In the minds of most people in Israel during the first century, eternal salvation was something available to only a select few: the Jews. Whereas the children of Israel had always been meant to draw the world to the salvation available in God, they had come to think of it as a gift offered exclusively to them. Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection reconciled the whole human race to God for all who believe. Today’s passage shows Paul’s teaching that, in Christ, salvation is offered to everyone.

  1. What’s something that had once been available only to some but then was offered to all?
  2. Why do people sometimes wish to keep benefits private rather than making them available to everyone?
  3. When has someone tried to keep Christ’s salvation away from certain people or groups?

Additional Resources

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

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

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

In the World–July 25, 2021

By "In the World"

Download “In the World” for July 25, 2021 here.

SAVED FROM DEATH

An Alaska man named John Pearl Smith II is accused of murdering two people and wounding a third in 2016. When the case neared a court date, the U.S. Attorney’s office announced its intention to pursue the death penalty. However, earlier this month, Attorney General Merrick Garland announced that federal executions would halt, pending a review. The motion to seek Smith’s execution has now been withdrawn. A spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Alaska cautioned that, just because execution has been taken off the table, Smith’s alleged guilt remains. “This decision does not change our intent,” she said, “to pursue justice for the victims and their family members.”

SAVED FROM WRATH

In our passage today, Paul teaches that Christ’s blood covers our guilt. Through the cross, we are justified and reconciled to God. We ourselves have not become more righteous—but the wrath of God has been withdrawn because of Jesus’ atonement. Condemnation has been taken off the table. We stand to gain even more at the judgment because of the resurrection of Jesus. Justice for our sins was obtained at the cross, and now we have peace with God.

  1. What arguments would you give for or against the death penalty?
  2. When have you been saved from a punishment you expected?
  3. What does it mean that God paid such a high price to achieve peace with humanity?

Additional Resources

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

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

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

In the World–July 18, 2021

By "In the World"

Download “In the World” for July 18, 2021 here.

FAITH IN THEIR CHANCES

No matter how the Stanley Cup series ended, the Montreal Canadiens NHL hockey team made it to the finals because of their faith. Not many others shared this faith at the beginning of the tournament, as the Canadiens had the worst record of any of the teams that qualified. But they won 11 of 13 games through the preliminary rounds and in the first round made a sensational comeback against their rivals, the Toronto Maple Leaves, to overcome a 3-1 deficit. But when they were playing the Tampa Bay Lightning in the best-of-seven final round, their faith in their chances rose dramatically. “We wouldn’t be here right now if we didn’t believe,” said Canadiens goalie Carey Price. “We’ve believed this whole time.”

FAITH IN HIS GOD

In Paul’s masterpiece of theology, the letter to the Romans, he carefully laid out why faith in Christ is what is required for salvation. Obedience to the Law will save no one. In today’s passage, Paul recalls that it was the faith of Abraham, not his obedience, that brought about his justification from God. It wasn’t the Law of Moses that brought justification, as that was still 600 years in the future, and it wasn’t even the rite of circumcision that brought justification, as that too was in Abraham’s future. It was Abraham’s belief that God would keep his promises that brought about Abraham’s justification. Therefore, we too are made right with God through our faith and not through our works, sacrifices, or obedience to the Law.

  1. When did you believe in someone (or even in yourself) when no one else did?
  2. Why do you think people—including believers—tend to trust more in works than in faith?
  3. Why do you have faith in a God you have never seen?

Additional Resources

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

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

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

In the World–July 11, 2021

By "In the World"

Download “In the World” for July 11, 2021 here.

FINDING THE COURAGE TO CONFESS HER FAITH

In Makassar, Indonesia, a young woman named Yaya is suffering for her faith in Christ. She grew up in a Muslim home but had always been curious about Christianity. When Yaya met Uda, a faithful Christian man at the bank where they both worked, she was drawn to him, and they began seeing one another. Yaya attended church with Uda, eventually giving her life to Christ. But she was too afraid to tell her mother about her conversion. When Yaya learned that she had actually been adopted by her Muslim parents, she found the courage to finally tell her mother. Her mother flew into a rage, became violent, and threatened Yaya with a knife. She reported her daughter to a radical Muslim organization, who is suing the bank to have both Yaya and Uda fired. As of this writing, the matter was still unresolved.

DECLARING HIS COURAGE TO PREACH THE FAITH

Paul had wanted to visit the church in Rome but had long been prevented from doing so. Perhaps his desire to not build on works begun by others had something to do with it, as well. Whatever the reasons for his absence, it was not because he was somehow ashamed of the gospel. He knew that it was the very power of God for salvation, the only hope for humanity.

  1. When have you had to summon the courage to tell someone about your faith in Christ?
  2. What’s a situation that might cause someone to be ashamed of the gospel?
  3. Who would you speak to about Jesus if you had complete courage?

Additional Resources

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

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

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

In the World–July 4, 2021

By "In the World"

Download “In the World” for July 4, 2021 here.

GRATITUDE FOR CITIZENSHIP

This Fourth of July, 51 new American citizens are celebrating independence with a happy memory. A surprise speaker attended their naturalization ceremony in New York City last month: Douglas Emhoff (husband of Vice President Kamala Harris). The second gentleman gave the keynote address, mentioning his ancestors, who came to Ellis Island from Austria, and his wife’s parents, who are immigrants from Jamaica and India. One new citizen in the crowd felt especially grateful for her official status. Jia-Lin Liu from Taiwan waited 20 years for the ceremony. “I was laughing and crying but I’m really thankful,” Liu said. “Being an American gives you a lot of rights and power and resources.”

GRATITUDE FOR HEALING

Jesus met ten lepers on the border of Galilee and Samaria. He graciously granted healing to all ten, but only one—a Samaritan—came back to give Jesus thanks and praise. Though the Lord had miraculously restored their lives and status in society, only this one outsider showed gratitude.

  1. How did you or your family come to live in this nation?
  2. What are you most grateful for about this country?
  3. What are three things you’re deeply grateful to the Lord for?

Additional Resources

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

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

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

In the World–June 27, 2021

By "In the World"

Download “In the World” for June 27, 2021 here.

FEAR LEADS TO SUPERHUMAN FEAT

In Russia, strongmen compete in bizarre ways to prove they are the strongest in the country. This month, Maxim Gametsky, the “Siberian Bear,” strapped a 737 jet to his back and tried to pull it across the runway. It wouldn’t budge. In practice, he couldn’t get it to move. But when the crowds and reporters came, something shifted in Maxim, and video shows him pulling the 40-ton beast 15 meters down the tarmac, to the wild cries of fans. “I couldn’t move it on the first attempt in any of my training sessions,” he later said. “And to be honest, I was a little scared today would be the same. Maybe it was excitement, maybe it was fear, but I did it anyway.” Fear and excitement enabled him to perform at a level he’d been unable to attain alone.

FAITH LEADS TO SUPERNATURAL STEP

Imagine the shock and fear the disciples felt that night when they saw a ghostly figure walking on the whitecaps of the Sea of Galilee. Sailors are notoriously superstitious anyway, and seeing Jesus there must’ve been not only terrifying but disorienting. Were they about to hit land? What was happening? The supernatural mood only deepened when Jesus called Peter out onto the water with Him. Peter is often ridiculed for his lack of faith here, but he exhibited a faith so strong that it enabled him to do—for a few steps, at least—something that none of the others even dared to try.

  1. What’s the most impressive feat of human strength you’ve ever witnessed?
  2. When have you found yourself capable of something you never thought you could do?
  3. What was your moment of greatest faith in God?

Additional Resources

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

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

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

In the World–June 20, 2021

By "In the World"

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DESPERATE FOR ACHIEVEMENT

Climbing North America’s tallest peak, Denali (formerly Mt. McKinley), isn’t like climbing other mountains. Even experienced climbers of peaks in the 14,000′ range, like Mt. Rainier, aren’t automatically prepared to reach the Alaskan giant’s summit, at 20,308′. “We have seen a disturbing amount of overconfidence paired with inexperience in the Alaska Range,” the National Park Service wrote in a statement, citing the mounting number of deaths and serious injuries among Denali climbers in 2021. As an expedition’s days begin to run short, climbers are tempted to make the 7,000′ final ascent in a single day. Rangers said that many climbers get “desperation, impatience and summit fever,” causing them to take unwise risks to reach their goal.

DESPERATE FOR HEALING

In Capernaum, Jesus was thronged by people eager to hear Him teach—or desperate for Him to heal them. A father whose twelve-year-old daughter had died begged Jesus to bring her back to life. So great was his faith in Jesus that even death was not a barrier. As Jesus went with him, a woman in the crowd was just as desperate. After suffering for twelve years with a medical condition, she reached out to Jesus as He passed, just to touch the edge of His cloak. Her faith too was so great that she believed He didn’t even have to notice her to provide healing. Both this woman and the bereaved father were rewarded for their faith— faithful risks allowed Jesus’ reach to work miracles.

  1. What’s the highest hill or mountain you’ve ever climbed?
  2. What’s the relationship between desperation and faith?
  3. Who in the biblical story do you most identify with?

Additional Resources

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

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

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

In the World–June 13, 2021

By "In the World"

Download “In the World” for June 13, 2021 here.

SHAKING IN THE STREETS

On May 18–20, a skyscraper in Shenzhen, China began inexplicably shaking, sparking a panic in the city. Video shows people screaming and running away down the streets in all directions, fleeing a possible collapse. However, inspectors could find no problems or anomalies in the safety standards they monitor. And there was no wind, earthquake, or structural failure in the seventy-two-story building. Some speculate that a combination of temperature changes, gusts of wind, and a subway running below the streets might be the cause. But the building is twenty years old, and those conditions have never caused such shaking in the past. After three days of such shaking, the building was finally shut down as officials discussed what to do.

SHAKING IN THE BOAT

Jesus was asleep in the boat as the disciples rowed across the Sea of Galilee. A sudden storm blew in, bringing high winds and waves and causing even the fishermen among them to panic. Though the architect of the universe was right there with them, and surely He wouldn’t perish in a freak wind, they feared for their lives.

  1. What’s the most frightened you’ve ever been?
  2. What have you learned about the relationship between fear and faith?
  3. How would the disciples’ actions have been changed if they had acted out of faith instead of fear?

Additional Resources

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

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

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

In the World–June 6, 2021

By "In the World"

Download “In the World” for June 6, 2021 here.

FAITH OVER WORRY ON D-DAY

Sunday marks the 77th anniversary of the D-Day landings in Normandy. Though there are fewer and fewer veterans of that day still living, we have the writings of many. On that day, the men in the landing boats were almost entirely defenseless. After riding in a landing craft to Omaha Beach, Chaplain John G. Burkhalter wrote home: “It was a pure miracle we even took that beach at all. Yes, there were a lot of miracles on the beach that day. As we approached the French coast I began praying more earnestly than ever, and our assault craft was miraculously spared.” Amidst the anxiety of that harrowing landing under deadly enemy fire, all Burkhalter had to protect him was hope in the Lord.

FAITH OVER WORRY TODAY

Today’s text is a favorite of many. How powerful are Jesus’ words reminding us of God’s tender care and His loving attention upon us. If the Lord spares the time and effort to care for blades of grass and the smallest of birds, how much more must He care for us! Assured that He is tending to those things and armored by His attentiveness, we can shift our focus from our anxieties to doing His will.

  1. When have you been the most worried?
  2. How do you cope with worry when it comes upon you now?
  3. When have you asked God to meet a need, and He met it?

Additional Resources

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

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

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

In the World–May 30, 2021

By "In the World"

Download “In the World” for May 30, 2021 here.

COMPASSION FOR THE HURTING

May is Mental Health Awareness Month in the United States. This May, one couple was dining at a restaurant in Buffalo, NY, and noticed a semicolon tattoo on the wrist of their server, Katie Battel. A semicolon is used when a writer could’ve chosen to end a sentence but chose not to; in the same way, a semicolon tattoo shows that the person has chosen not to end his or her life. The couple left a nice tip for Katie and a note saying they were so glad she was still here. What they didn’t know was that Katie’s suicidal thoughts had returned lately. “It was just like a sign,” she told a reporter. “Like, ‘Hey, girl, we know you’re going through it again, but … here’s a little boost to help you keep going.’ ” An act of compassion helped give this young woman a future.

COMPASSION FOR THE SINFUL

When Jonah finally preached God’s message of doom in the heart of Nineveh, he could hardly have guessed the city’s reaction. While he was still hoping for them to reject God’s warning and suffer His judgment, they took the prophecy seriously. From the king in his palace to the lowliest livestock, all put on sackcloth and fasted, together begging the Lord to show compassion on them and turn His wrath away.

  1. When you hear the words Mental Health Awareness Month, who or what comes to mind?
  2. What’s a dark outcome you or someone else turned from, and what caused the change?
  3. Do you regularly pray for those who hurt you? Explain your answer.

Additional Resources

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

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

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

In the World–May 23, 2021

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IRRESPONSIBILITY IN SPACE

This month, China’s space agency successfully placed in orbit the first module of its new space station. However, the main rocket used to launch it was not caused to burn up in the atmosphere or controlled to splash down in the ocean, as NASA and other space agencies do. Instead, the 20-ton Chinese rocket entered orbit, which meant it would then fall to earth at some point—and in some random location, possibly on a populated area. Thankfully, it eventually splashed down in the Indian Ocean. However, “China was just playing the odds,” said Jonathan McDowell of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. “They decided … ‘We’ll take the risk and we’ll pay compensation if it hits anything.’ ”

IRRESPONSIBILITY WITH SIN

In Ezekiel’s day, the Israelites thought they were not responsible for their own deeds. They played the odds too, hoping God would put the punishment for their sins onto the next generation, instead. God’s message for them was that He holds every person responsible for his or her own sin—and that the person who does not sin would certainly not be punished for the sins of the previous generation.

  1. What’s an example of someone who hoped to escape punishment by letting the responsibility fall on others?
  2. What’s the difference between taking responsibility for one’s own actions and acknowledging one’s complicity with the actions of others?
  3. When have you wanted someone else to take responsibility for their actions or choices?

Additional Resources

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

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

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Copyright © 2021 by Standard Publishing, part of the David C Cook family.
All rights reserved. Each download is for the use of one church only.

In the World–May 16, 2021

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Download “In the World” for May 16, 2021  here.

A COACH’S CHOICE

The NFL draft took place a couple of weeks ago. The San Francisco 49ers traded up to have the third overall pick in the draft because they sorely needed a quarterback. The first two teams to make their picks were virtually guaranteed to also pick quarterbacks, and pretty much everyone knew who those first two picks would be. So the 49ers had to select from the young quarterbacks who remained. As sportswriter Josh Shrock put it, the choice for 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan is whether he would take one player who was “NFL-ready” but might have already reached his potential or another player who wasn’t as ready but whose potential might be unlimited. “Two paths stretch before Shanahan,” Shrock wrote. “Which one he walks will determine the course of his and the 49ers’ future.” He decided to draft the young player with potential, Trey Lance.

A KING’S CHOICE

King Zedekiah was in a terrible spot. However, Jeremiah made the situation crystal clear to him: you are going to Babylon either way. Your only choice is whether or not you’re going to bring about the deaths of your family and the destruction of Jerusalem too. The capital of David, the home of the temple, and the resting place of the ark of the covenant, not to mention all his sons and the other citizens inside Jerusalem, were in the king’s power to save. Sadly, Zedekiah chose poorly, and great was the suffering that followed.

  1. When have you or someone else taken a complicated situation and found a way to boil it down to a very clear choice?
  2. What was an example of when you had an extremely important decision to make? How did you decide?
  3. Why do you think King Zedekiah chose as he did?

Additional Resources

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

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

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Copyright © 2021 by Standard Publishing, part of the David C Cook family.
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In the World–May 9, 2021

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SECRET PLOT EXPOSED BY A PHOTO

British television network ITV has begun shooting a dramatic portrayal of a notorious crime committed in 2002. John and Anne Darwin, an English couple in their sixties decided to fake John’s death in a canoeing accident in order to claim nearly $1 million in insurance payouts. The scam involved Anne reporting John’s death to police and then lying to their two sons, who were devastated by the loss of their father. Meanwhile, John lived in a secret room for five years, using the stolen money to plan for he and Anne to begin a new life in Panama. Their crime was discovered when an amateur sleuth, acting on a tip, Googled “John,” “Anne,” and “Panama” and found an image of the couple in Panama, and then contacted media and the police. The treacherous plans the Darwins kept secret were revealed to the world, and their expectations were thwarted.

SECRET PLANS EXPOSED BY THE LORD

People in Isaiah’s day thought they could hide their treacherous plans from the Lord. They went to great lengths to do so, and they were confident that He would never find out. One of their worst offenses was that they claimed to honor the Lord with their words and offerings, but their hearts were far from Him. Their hypocrisy would bring about God’s judgment, and their expectations of deception would all be dashed. But God nevertheless remained with His arms stretched out to His people and gave them hope for the future.

  1. What’s an example of someone you know who tried to deceive but whose plans fell apart?
  2. How do we sometimes claim to honor God but don’t?
  3. Since we know God understands our private thoughts, why do we sometimes think we can hide from the Lord?

Additional Resources

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

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

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Copyright © 2021 by Standard Publishing, part of the David C Cook family.
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In the World–May 2, 2021

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FALSE TESTIMONY GIVEN TO SWAY A JURY

Last month, the Indiana Court of Appeals reexamined the case of a man sentenced to 55 years in prison for the murder of an elderly woman in 2002. Andrew Royer was convicted of the murder due largely to testimony that was coerced, falsified, and later disproved, and now the court is deciding whether or not to “vacate” the previous conviction. The detective in the case was removed from other cases for making misleading statements to attorneys. It was also revealed that the key witness was paid for her testimony and threatened with having her children taken from her if she didn’t comply. Falsehoods were presented to the legal authority in order to bring about someone’s desired outcome.

TRUE TESTIMONY GIVEN TO JUDGE A KING

When King Ahab wanted to find out if an attack against the Arameans at Ramoth-Gilead would succeed, he sent for the prophet Micaiah. All of Ahab’s other advisors were telling him that God would surely give him the victory, and even Micaiah said the same. But Micaiah did so, he explained, because God had ordained that Ahab must die in the battle. He essentially said, “Sure, go ahead, my king. It is God’s will for you to fight them. Not for you to win, however.” Truth was spoken to the king in order to bring about God’s desired outcome.

  1. When has false testimony been used against you or someone you know?
  2. Why is it sometimes hard to speak truth to those in power?
  3. If we feel we must speak truth to someone in authority, how can we be sure we’re delivering God’s will and not just speaking from our own mind or preferences?

Additional Resources

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

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

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

In the World–April, 25, 2021

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A DRONE HEARS A CRY FOR HELP

Drones are used to search for lost hikers or survey areas devastated by flood or earthquake. However, the most common way for people in need of rescue to be found is when rescuers hear them crying out for help. Until now, drones have not been able to listen for these pleas. Even if a drone had a microphone, all it would pick up would be the sound of the drone’s rotors. Dotterel Technologies, a drone manufacturer in New Zealand, has solved this by including both a directional microphone and an onboard processor that filters out the sound of the drone itself. “Many missing people are found by rescuers listening for voice appeal in hard-to-reach locations,” says Auckland search and rescue leader Brandon McCarthy. “The ability to quickly extend our hearing range is of high value.” These drones are no longer deaf to cries for help.

GOD LISTENS TO A CRY FOR HELP

The people of Judah were left in devastation after the Babylonians destroyed Jerusalem and carried many into exile. In the book of Lamentations, Jeremiah, appropriately nicknamed the weeping prophet, described the people’s distress and dismay. They admitted their sins but wondered why God seemed deaf to their cries—or perhaps too angry at them to consider reconciliation. He did hear and would reconcile, but the consequences for their sin had to be carried out through Babylon, God’s instrument of judgment.

  1. When has someone’s cries for help brought you to their aid?
  2. How has God seemed slow to hear your cries?
  3. When has someone’s consequences extended even beyond the person’s repentance?

Additional Resources

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

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

www.standardlesson.com/category/in-the-world
Copyright © 2021 by Standard Publishing, part of the David C Cook family.
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In the World–April 18, 2021

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BUILDING ISRAEL’S DEFENSES TODAY

Modern-day Israel is surrounded by hostile nations. One of its primary foes, Iran, is seeking nuclear weapons capability, a development that senior Israeli military officials believe could spark a nuclear arms race in the region. “The United States is [now] looking at other regions,” IDF Brig. Gen. Tal Kalman said in an interview this month, “and doesn’t want to invest as much in ours.” Israel needs to develop new tools to better deal with Iran, even on Iran’s own territory, he says. “When you’re competing against an intelligent, strategic actor who plays long term, you need to act to influence his intentions. For that, you need to act also in other places and in other ways.”

BUILDING ISRAEL’S DEFENSES CENTURIES AGO

Israel after the Exile was surrounded by enemies, as well. When Nehemiah returned from Persia to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem, he understood that he would be doing so amidst great opposition. Sanballat the Horonite, Tobiah the Ammonite servant, and Geshem the Arab mocked the Jewish people who were rebuilding the city’s defenses. In the face of their pressure and threats, Nehemiah urged his countrymen to rebuild the walls and gates so as to restore their strength and remove their disgrace.

  1. What level of peace do you think is possible in relations between Israel and its enemies?
  2. When have you tried to build something despite strong opposition?
  3. In what ways does the Christian life stand in conflict with the surrounding culture?

Additional Resources

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

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

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

In the World–April 11, 2021

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STATELESS BY THEIR OWN CHOICES

Four years after the fall of ISIS, the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq, many women and children remain in limbo. More than 500 young women born in the West left their homes to help the Islamic cause and marry ISIS fighters. Some may have been misled and mistreated, but all abandoned their citizenship to join the new Caliphate. A few weeks ago, twenty-one-year-old Shamima Begum, originally from London, lost her court case to be reinstated as a British citizen after marrying an ISIS member in 2015. The tribunal who heard her case refused to repatriate her, citing national security concerns. Whatever the factors that led to her situation, they said, Begum is stateless “as a result of her own choices.”

MATELESS BY THEIR OWN CHOICES

Following the Exile to Babylon, three waves of Jewish citizens were allowed to return to Israel to rebuild Jerusalem and the Temple. Though they had been exiled as punishment for violating God’s Law, the returning Israelites continued to sin, most notably by marrying foreign women. Ezra cried out to God, and the people agreed to send their foreign wives away, showing how costly it may be to follow God after making bad choices.

  1. If you sat as a judge hearing a case like Begum’s, how would you decide if the person was a national security risk or a victim of fraud and lies?
  2. What’s something significant you’ve given up to follow Jesus?
  3. How have bad choices—yours or someone else’s—resulted in pain or sin?

Additional Resources

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

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

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

In the World–April 4, 2021

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HIS LIFE GIVEN FOR MANY

Three weeks ago, Tampa Bay police officer Jesse Madsen took Interstate 275 home after his shift. Madsen, father of three and a seven-time recipient of the Tampa Police Department’s Life-Saving Award, saw a car coming toward him, racing the wrong way at over 100 mph. The driver, probably intoxicated, was almost certain to cause multiple accidents and possibly many fatalities. So Officer Madsen intentionally veered into the car’s path. Both men died in the fiery collision, but no one else was injured. “Officer Madsen is a true American hero,” said police Chief Brian Dugan. “He deliberately moved his patrol car into the other driver’s path of travel … to stop this wrong way driver from putting anyone else’s life in danger by laying down his own.”

HIS LIFE GIVEN FOR ALL

This weekend we celebrate Easter, when the greatest act of personal sacrifice in history was overwhelmed by resurrection. Isaiah 53, our passage today, is one of the most remarkable Old Testament descriptions of the Messiah, later revealed to be Jesus. To make a way for all humanity to be offered salvation from something even worse than physical death, Jesus deliberately offered His life in exchange for us all. May we worship Him in awe.

  1. What is the greatest act of sacrifice for the sake of others that you have ever seen or heard of anyone making?
  2. Which aspect of Christ’s suffering, crucifixion, death, burial, or resurrection is most meaningful to you this year?
  3. How could you honor the family of a fallen police officer, firefighter, soldier, or other hero?

Additional Resources

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

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

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

In the World–March 28, 2021

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WOMEN OF COURAGE

On March 8, First Lady Dr. Jill Biden helped the U.S. State Department honor twenty-one women with the International Women of Courage Award. Seven of the women had been murdered in Afghanistan while serving their communities. The other fourteen were from were from Belarus, Cameroon, China, Colombia, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Guatemala, Iran, Myanmar, Nepal, Somalia, Spain, Sri Lanka, Turkey, and Venezuela. They had all faced tremendous difficulties, and many had endured imprisonment, threats, and violence. “You see, courage isn’t really found,” Biden said. “It’s an intentional decision made.”

MAN OF COURAGE

The prophet Elijah made an intentional decision to present himself before King Ahab, who was on a murderous rampage to locate him. Obadiah, the king’s official, also had to summon his courage to go to Ahab and promise that he would find Elijah in the place where Obadiah said he would be. If Elijah left or hid himself, Ahab would certainly have had Obadiah executed. But Obadiah trusted himself to the Lord and the prophet, and he led Ahab to Elijah, where an epic confrontation was brewing.

  1. What’s the most courageous act you’ve ever witnessed or heard about?
  2. How could you have done what Elijah (or Obadiah) did if you were in their position?
  3. This is Palm Sunday—what courage do you think Jesus or others exhibited on this day?

Additional Resources

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

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Copyright © 2021 by Standard Publishing, part of the David C Cook family.
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In the World–March 21, 2021

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HUMAN FORGIVENESS

Last week were the annual Grammy Awards. Secular musician Grace Potter was nominated in two categories. One song from her most recent album is called “Release” and is about forgiveness. The lyrics speak about how she’s loosing someone, perhaps herself, from resentment. “Back when I first wrote a piece of the chorus,” Potter said, “I didn’t really know what forgiveness would feel like because I wasn’t there yet.” But over time, she came to understand “that forgiveness is the most beautiful feeling you can have; to really go through the cathartic, angry and overwhelming emotions that grief or loss can bring on” and find release.

DIVINE FORGIVENESS

Through the prophetess Huldah, God had proclaimed disaster upon Jerusalem because the people had turned to idols. But the current ruler of Judah, King Josiah, was deeply grieved over the nation’s behaviors and the coming judgment from God. He tore his robes and wept before the Lord in confession, and God was pleased. Huldah gave instructions that Josiah should be told that the judgment had been delayed until after the king’s death. His humility before God brought a release and a reprieve to the whole nation.

  1. What song, fictional story, or poem has ever moved you to release bitterness?
  2. When have you witnessed someone give authentic confession of wrongdoing?
  3. Who benefits the most from forgiveness?

Additional Resources

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

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

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Copyright © 2021 by Standard Publishing, part of the David C Cook family.
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In the World–March 14, 2021

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CHAINS OF IRON BROKEN

Contrary to popular understanding, the historical St. Patrick was a courageous Christian missionary. He was a Roman Briton captured as a teenager by Irish pirates, and yet after his escape, God called him back to the land of his enslavement. Based on one of Patrick’s own surviving letters, we know that he was once clapped in irons by local warlords because of his testimony for Christ. “They stole everything they found in our possession, and they bound me in iron,” he wrote. However, “On the fourteenth day, the Lord set me free from their power; all our possessions were returned to us for God’s sake.” Mighty chains could not hold back the plan of God for His servant.

WALLS OF STONE THROWN DOWN

Nor could mighty walls hold back the plan of God for His people. Today’s passage contains the story of how God supernaturally cast down the walls of Jericho to give His people the victory. From the instructions God gave Joshua and the lack of any assault on the walls by the people, it was clear that this incredible conquest came directly from the hand of the Lord.

  1. How does knowing about the real St. Patrick encourage you on the holiday named for him?
  2. What have you seen happen that could be only from the hand of God?
  3. When has God asked you to take Him on faith for something that seemed impossible?

Additional Resources

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

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Copyright © 2021 by Standard Publishing, part of the David C Cook family.
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In the World–March 7, 2021

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LISTENING WITH PERSEVERANCE

On February 18, NASA landed its Perseverance Rover on the surface of Mars. In addition to amassing incredible photos and video of the landing itself, an onboard microphone recorded the first-ever direct sounds from another planet. At a press conference on February 22, the audio recording was played, and the sense of the world holding its breath and leaning forward to hear it was palpable. After the whirring of the rover itself was filtered out, the puff of Martian winds was clearly audible. On a barren plain 129.9 million miles away, an alien wind blew, and humans strained to hear.

LISTENING FOR DELIVERANCE

In our passage today, the children of Israel wondered how they could tell the difference between the words of a false prophet and the words of a prophet sent from God. They were leaning forward to hear, but there was interference that made discernment difficult—and their very deliverance as a people rested on hearing correctly. God told Moses to have the people watch to see if the alleged prophet’s words came true. If they didn’t, that person was not a prophet sent from God.

  1. What’s the most memorable sound you’ve ever heard?
  2. When have your ears told you that something was wrong or dangerous?
  3. How do you know when you’re hearing from God, from yourself, or from some other source?

Additional Resources

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

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Copyright © 2021 by Standard Publishing, part of the David C Cook family.
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In the World–February 28, 2021

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OVERCOMING DIVISIONS FOR DEMOCRACY

Earlier this month in the Southeast Asian nation of Myanmar, the military overthrew the democratically elected government and seized control of the country. The nation is normally divided by a wide array of religious, ethnic, and regional factions all fighting the government and sometimes each other. But in demonstrations across Myanmar this month, citizens have set aside their differences to jointly call for the military to reverse its coup. “What is happening right now is not about party politics,” said Ke Jung, a youth leader from a remote Indian border area. “It is a fight for the [democratic] system.”

OVERCOMING DIVISIONS FOR THE GOSPEL

How odd it must have been for Paul to be speaking not in a synagogue but on a riverbank, and not to Jewish men but to Gentile women. Yet that is the scenario the Apostle encountered in the Roman colony city called Philippi when he taught Lydia and the other women. Yet with the Gospel, God was tearing down the old, man-made divisions so that all the world could be offered salvation in Christ.

  1. What divisions—social, economic, political, etc.—have held you back in your life?
  2. When have you seen someone cross a boundary to reach out to someone else?
  3. What divisions might you dare set aside for the gospel?

Additional Resources

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

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Copyright © 2021 by Standard Publishing, part of the David C Cook family.
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In the World–February 21, 2021

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CO-TEACHING FOR INCLUSION

Early last year, the DuBois Area School District in northwestern Pennsylvania announced they would no longer be providing special education services for its sending districts. So one area school, Jefferson County Vocational Technical School, decided it would find a way to continue offering special ed to its students. Turning to its own personnel, school officials devised a co-teaching arrangement and an all-inclusive approach. “Co-teaching involves a regular instructor and a special ed. instructor working together to present the lesson,” explained Special Education Supervisor Amber Hathorn this month. This method “allows all learners to be in the regular education environment and learning at the same time as their peers.” Teaching teams are making a difference in this school.

CO-TEACHING FOR THE KINGDOM

Among the Apostle Paul’s many co-laborers were the husband-wife team of Priscilla and Aquila. These two tentmakers from Rome became believers in Christ and joined Paul’s ministry in Corinth. They were an effective gospel partnership, co-teaching the believers in Ephesus and also the gifted apologist named Apollos. Paul even declares that Priscilla and Aquila risked their lives for him (Romans 16:4). We are called to work together to explain the gospel.

  1. When has a partnership with someone helped you achieve more than you could do alone?
  2. Who is a “power couple” you admire, and why?
  3. What other pairs of people did God use in Acts to further the Gospel?

Additional Resources

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

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Copyright © 2021 by Standard Publishing, part of the David C Cook family.
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In the World–February 14, 2021

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DECLARING HIS LOVE FOR HER

On Valentine’s Day, we give thought to voicing our affection for our loved ones. Celebrity Peloton cycling instructor Ally Love recently got engaged to her long-time boyfriend, Andrew Haynes. He took her to one of her favorite places in the world, a beach in Mexico, and surprised her by dropping to one knee and proposing. When she said yes, the private fireworks display he had arranged was set off, and the couple are now planning their wedding.

DECLARING OUR LOVE FOR HIM

When Jesus rose from the dead, He appeared first to the faithful women such as Mary Magdalene who had followed Him in His ministry. They first testified to the world of His resurrection, and they were effective communicators of the Lord’s victory over sin, death, and hell, supporting the advance of the kingdom of God.

  1. What’s the most extravagant or romantic way you’ve ever voiced your love to someone?
  2. Which is your favorite (or least favorite) thing about Valentine’s Day?
  3. What do you imagine it was like for the women who followed Jesus during His ministry?

Additional Resources

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

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

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Copyright © 2021 by Standard Publishing, part of the David C Cook family.
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In the World–February 7, 2021

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Download “In the World” for February 7, 2021 here.

TESTIFYING TO THE GREATNESS OF TEAMMATES

Today (Sunday) is when Super Bowl 55 is scheduled to be played. After the championship games two weeks before, both winning teams went to great lengths to testify to the worthiness of their teammates, coaches, opponents, and fans. Each offense lauded its defense, and vice versa. When singer John Legend tweeted “Hire. Eric. Bienemy.” [sic] to encourage some NFL team to hire Kansas City Chiefs’ offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy as head coach (after the Super Bowl), the Chiefs’ official Twitter feed answered, “What. He. Said.” In the day of victory, people are quick to testify to the greatness of others.

TESTIFYING TO THE GREATNESS OF JESUS

When the Samaritan woman spoke with Jesus at Jacob’s Well (John 4), she became convinced that He was the long-awaited Messiah. She left her water jar behind and rushed back to her town to testify to anyone who would listen that she had found the one they’d been longing for. An entire population came to faith because she was willing to testify.

  1. When have you been so excited about something that you just had to tell someone else?
  2. What was it like (or what do you imagine it would be like) to testify in court?
  3. What part (if any) did a witness’s testimony play in your path to salvation?

Additional Resources

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

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

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

 

 

In the World–January 31, 2021

By "In the World"

Download “In the World” for January 31, 2021 here.

WOMEN ARE VALUED IN ICELAND

Sara Sigmundsdottir is one of the world’s top female CrossFit athletes. She is from Iceland, which has produced a disproportionate number of world-class contenders in this fitness category for its population of only 360,000. Many have wondered why this is so. Some credit the shieldmaiden legacy of Viking women. Others mention the toughness demanded by life in the cold land of volcanoes and geysers. In more recent years, people have pointed to the fact that Iceland has the world’s best male and female parity policies, enforced by many laws and agencies and mandated as a teaching throughout the school years. Sara praises the opportunities given by her homeland, and she channels these into her work ethic. “I want to prove that if you set your mind to something and work hard for it,” she says, “you will get it.”

WOMEN ARE VALUED IN GOD’S KINGDOM

From the beginning, God has set men and women on equal footing. Scripture is full of stories of the Lord’s high regard for women. Jesus was considered controversial for how He consistently valued those whom society had labeled as outcasts, including women. Today’s Scriptures remind us that Jesus expects women to have integral parts in the establishment of His kingdom, including the sacred act of divine prophecy.

  1. If God considers men and women to be of equal value, why have societies not shared that view?
  2. How have women been more recognized for their importance in your lifetime?
  3. How do we put God’s high value of women into daily practice?

Additional Resources

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

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

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

In the World–January 24, 2021

By "In the World"

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

UNIFIED BY THE OLYMPIC SPIRIT

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

UNIFIED BY THE HOLY SPIRIT

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

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

Additional Resources

These videos and materials are for your personal use.

If you show videos in class, be sure to have the necessary rights to do so.

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

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

In the World–January 17, 2021

By "In the World"

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

EMPLOYEES MADE WHOLE

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

FORGIVENESS MADE WHOLE

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

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

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

Additional Resources

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

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

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

In the World–January 10, 2021

By "In the World"

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

CAREER CHANGE TO EMPOWER WOMEN

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

CAREER CHANGE TO FISH FOR MEN

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

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

Additional Resources

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

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

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

In the World–January 3, 2021

By "In the World"

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

DOING GOOD IN THE WORLD

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

GOOD NEWS FOR THE WORLD

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

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

Additional Resources

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

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

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

In the World–December 27, 2020

By "In the World"

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

UP TO THE OWNER TO PROVE HIS CONCERN IS SINCERE

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

UP TO THE PEOPLE TO PROVE THEIR REPENTANCE IS SINCERE

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

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

Additional Resources

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

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

In the World–December 20, 2020

By "In the World"

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

GOING TO GREAT LENGTHS TO DANCE

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

GOING TO GREAT LENGTHS TO WORSHIP

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

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

Additional Resources

These videos and materials are for your personal use.

If you show videos in class, be sure to have the necessary rights to do so.

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

In the World–December 13, 2020

By "In the World"

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

UNAFRAID TO ATTEMPT A RESCUE

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

UNAFRAID TO OBEY GOD’S COMMAND

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

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

Additional Resources

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

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

In the World–December 6, 2020

By "In the World"

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

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

LISTENING TO THE VIRTUAL TEACHER

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

LISTENING TO THE AWAITED MESSIAH

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

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

Additional Resources

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

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

In the World–November 29, 2020

By "In the World"

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

PREFERENTIAL TREATMENT LEADS TO DEFEAT

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

PREFERENTIAL TREATMENT LEADS TO SIN

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

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

Additional Resources

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

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

In the World–November 22, 2020

By "In the World"

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

GOOD MOTIVES—GOOD GAME

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

BAD MOTIVES—TAINTED ACT

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

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

Additional Resources

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

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

In the World–November 15, 2020

By "In the World"

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

KINDNESS LOUDER THAN HATE

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

LOVE OVERCOMING HATE

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

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

Additional Resources

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

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

In the World–November 8, 2020

By "In the World"

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

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

THE ULTIMATE SACRIFICE FOR A SON

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

THE ULTIMATE SACRIFICE FOR FRIENDS

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

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

Additional Resources

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

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

In the World–November 1, 2020

By "In the World"

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

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

FOLLOWING CHRIST’S EXAMPLE

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

CHRIST SETTING HIS EXAMPLE

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

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

Additional Resources

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

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

In the World–October 25, 2020

By "In the World"

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

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

 

LOVE ME OR DIE

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

LOVE ME OR NOT

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

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

Additional Resources

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

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

In the World–October 18, 2020

By "In the World"

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

CROSS-CULTURAL MISTAKES

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

CROSS-CULTURAL MINISTRY

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

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

Additional Resources

These videos and materials are for your personal use.

If you show videos in class, be sure to have the necessary rights to do so.

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In the World–October 11, 2020

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RETURN THE FLAG

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

TURN THE CHEEK

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

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

Additional Resources

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In the World–October 4, 2020

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INTERVENING FOR A STRANGER

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

INTERVENING FOR A FRIEND

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

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

Additional Resources

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In the World–September 27, 2020

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BUILDING TRUST IN A FAMILY

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

BUILDING TRUST IN THE LORD

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

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

Additional Resources

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In the World–September 20, 2020

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LATE REMORSE FOR WHAT HE DID

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

GREAT REMORSE FOR WHAT THEY DID

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

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

Additional Resources

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In the World–September 13, 2020

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INSTRUCTIONS FROM A DOCUMENTARY

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

INSTRUCTIONS FROM A SLAVE

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

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

Additional Resources

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In the World–September 6, 2020

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INNOCENT OF FAVORITISM

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

GUILTY OF FAVORITISM

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

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

Additional Resources

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In the World–August 30, 2020

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ADVICE FROM BELOW

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

WISDOM FROM ABOVE

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

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

Additional Resources

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In the World–August 23, 2020

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HE SHOULD NOT SPEAK RECKLESSLY

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

WE SHOULD NOT SPEAK RECKLESSLY, EITHER

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

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

Additional Resources

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In the World–August 16, 2020

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DOING SOMETHING ABOUT CHILD TRAFFICKING

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

DOING SOMETHING ABOUT YOUR FAITH

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

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

Additional Resources

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In the World–August 9, 2020

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HEARING BUT NOT DOING IN AUSTRALIA

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

HEARING BUT NOT DOING IN THE BIBLE

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

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

Additional Resources

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In the World–August 2, 2020

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INNOVATION IN THE MIDST OF HARDSHIP

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

WISDOM IN THE MIDST OF HARDSHIP

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

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

Additional Resources

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In the World–July 26, 2020

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THE WISE DECISION TO STAY BEHIND

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

THE WISE DECISION TO FOLLOW

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

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

Additional Resources

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In the World–July 19, 2020

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HOW A REFUGEE SHOULD BEHAVE

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

HOW A LOCAL BOY SHOULD BEHAVE

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

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

Additional Resources

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In the World–July 12, 2020

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CORRUPTING DIVINE WISDOM

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

DEVELOPING DIVINE WISDOM

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

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

Additional Resources

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In the World–July 5, 2020

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ACCEPTING THE WORLD’S WISDOM

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

REJECTING GOD’S WISDOM

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

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

Additional Resources

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

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Copyright © 2020 by Standard Publishing, part of the David C Cook family.
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In the World–June 28, 2020

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A TREEHOUSE BUILT ON FAULTY ADVICE

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

A LIFE BUILT ON FAULTY ADVICE

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

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

Additional Resources

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In the World–June 21, 2020

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THE PURSUIT OF WISDOM IN INDIA

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

THE PURSUT OF WISDOM WHERE YOU ARE

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

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

Additional Resources

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In the World–June 14, 2020

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VALUE THE WISDOM OF LEGENDARY PLAYERS

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

VALUE THE WISDOM OF LEGENDARY SAGES

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

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

Additional Resources

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In the World–June 7, 2020

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IGNORING WARNINGS LEADS TO DISASTER

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

IGNORING WISDOM LEADS TO DISASTER

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

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

Additional Resources

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

Ideas for Using In the World in a Virtual Setting

By "In the World"

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

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

Using In the World While You Meet

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

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

 

Using In the World During the Week

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

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

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

In the World–May 31, 2020

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THE PRODIGAL PRINCE

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

THE PRODIGAL PEOPLE

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

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

Additional Resources

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

In the World–May 24, 2020

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RESCUE THE ORPHAN FROM DISEASE

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

RESCUE THE ORPHAN FROM INJUSTICE

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

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

Additional Resources

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

In the World–May 17, 2020

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JUSTICE WHILE RACING TIME

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

JUSTICE WHILE FACING DEFEAT

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

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

Additional Resources

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

In the World–May 10, 2020

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RESCUED ON A DIFFERENT BEACH

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

RESCUED IN A DIFFERENT WAY

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

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

Additional Resources

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

 

In the World–May 3, 2020

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EXILES RETURN HOME AMIDST VIOLENCE

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

EXILES RETURN HOME BY GOD’S HAND

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

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

Additional Resources

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

In the World–April 26, 2020

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

MOST-FAVORED NATIONS EXEMPTED FROM TARIFFS

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

MOST-FAVORED NATION STATUS IN THE EYES OF GOD

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

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

Additional Resources

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

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

In the World–April 19, 2020

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

INJUSTICE AMID CORRUPTION

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

JUSTICE DESPITE CORRUPTION

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

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

Additional Resources

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

In the World–April 12, 2020

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LIGHT FOR THE BLIND

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

LIFE FROM THE DEAD

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

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

Additional Resources

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

In the World–April 5, 2020

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

A LIGHT FOR BUS DRIVERS

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

A LIGHT FOR THE NATIONS

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

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

Additional Resources

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

In the World–March 29, 2020

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

CORRUPT NATIONS IN THE WORLD

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

CORRUPT RELIGIOUS LEADERS

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

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

Additional Resources

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

In the World–March 22, 2020

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

INJUSTICE BASED ON FEAR

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

INJUSTICE BASED ON SIN

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

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

Additional Resources

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

In the World–March 15, 2020

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

PLOTTING THE RUIN OF HOMEOWNERS

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

PLOTTING THE RUIN OF WHOLE PEOPLES

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

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

Additional Resources

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

In the World–March 8, 2020

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

A LONG WAIT FOR MAN’S JUSTICE

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

A LONG WAIT FOR GOD’S JUSTICE

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

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

Additional Resources

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

In the World–March 1, 2020

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

PRETENDING SAFETY WHILE A VIRUS RUNS RAMPANT

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

PRETENDING RIGHTEOUSNESS WHILE INJUSTICE RUNS RAMPANT

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

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

Additional Resources

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

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

In the World–February 23, 2020

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

A FARMER’S PERSISTENT REQUEST

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

A FRIEND’S PERSISTENT REQUEST

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

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

Additional Resources

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

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

In the World–February 16, 2020

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

IN LIFE AS IN THOUGHTS

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

ON EARTH AS IN HEAVEN

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

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

Additional Resources

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

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

In the World–February 9, 2020

By "In the World"

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

GIFT FROM AN ANONYMOUS DONOR

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

GIFT FROM AN ANONYMOUS GIVER

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

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

Additional Resources

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

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

In the World–February 2, 2020

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PREPARED FOR ARMED CONFLICT

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

PREPARED FOR SPIRITUAL CONFLICT

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

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

Additional Resources

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Copyright © 2019 by Standard Publishing, part of the David C Cook family.
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In the World–January 26, 2020

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BIRDS TURNED IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION

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

HEARTS TURNED IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION

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

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

Additional Resources

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

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Copyright © 2019 by Standard Publishing, part of the David C Cook family.
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In the World–January 19, 2020

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HEARING WORDS OF LOVE

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

HEARING WORDS OF PRAYER

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

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

Additional Resources

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Copyright © 2019 by Standard Publishing, part of the David C Cook family.
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In the World–January 12, 2020

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A PROMISE MADE TO THE PEOPLE

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

A PROMISE KEPT BEFORE THE PEOPLE

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

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

Additional Resources

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Copyright © 2019 by Standard Publishing, part of the David C Cook family.
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In the World–January 5, 2020

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CHANGING THE VENUE FOR A WEDDING?

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

CHANGING THE VENUE FOR THE ARK OF THE COVENANT

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

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

Additional Resources

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

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Copyright © 2019 by Standard Publishing, part of the David C Cook family.
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In the World–December 29, 2019

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LOOK BACK AND LOOK AHEAD ON NEW YEAR’S EVE

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

LOOK BACK AND LOOK AHEAD ABOUT GOD’S WORK

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

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

Additional Resources

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

www.standardlesson.com/category/in-the-world
Copyright © 2019 by Standard Publishing, part of the David C Cook family.
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In the World–December 22, 2019

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TWO WOMEN WHO CHANGED HISTORY

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

TWO WOMEN WHO CHANGED ETERNITY

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

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

Additional Resources

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

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Copyright © 2019 by Standard Publishing, part of the David C Cook family.
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In the World–December 15, 2019

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A JOYFUL PLAN FOR A BOY

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

GOD’S BETTER PLAN FOR A MAN

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

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

Additional Resources

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

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Copyright © 2019 by Standard Publishing, part of the David C Cook family.
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In the World–December 8, 2019

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PROCLAIMING THE ASCENSION OF AN EMPEROR

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

PROCLAIMING THE GOODNESS OF GOD

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

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

Additional Resources

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

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Copyright © 2019 by Standard Publishing, part of the David C Cook family.
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In the World–December 1, 2019

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PREPARATION AND PLAY

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

PREPARATION AND WORSHIP

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

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

Additional Resources

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

www.standardlesson.com/category/in-the-world
Copyright © 2019 by Standard Publishing, part of the David C Cook family.
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In the World–November 24, 2019

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AVOID SPOILAGE

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

AVOID CORRUPTION

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

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

Additional Resources

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In the World–November 17, 2019

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FOCUSED ON TRAINING

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

FOCUSED ON HOLINESS

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

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

Additional Resources

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

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

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

In the World–November 10, 2019

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AN INSPIRATION TO DADS EVERYWHERE

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

AN INSPIRATION TO CHURCHES EVERYWHERE

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

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

Additional Resources

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

www.standardlesson.com/category/in-the-world
Copyright © 2019 by Standard Publishing, part of the David C Cook family.
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In the World–November 3, 2019

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EXAMINATION INVALIDATED

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

EXAMINATION REQUIRED

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

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

Additional Resources

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

www.standardlesson.com/category/in-the-world
Copyright © 2019 by Standard Publishing, part of the David C Cook family.
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In the World–October 27, 2019

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KINDNESS INSPIRES KINDNESS

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

EXTRAVAGANCE INSPIRES EXTRAVAGANCE

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

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

Additional Resources

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

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

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

 

In the World–October 20, 2019

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SURPRISED BY KIDS

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

SURPRISED BY FAITH

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

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

Additional Resources

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

www.standardlesson.com/category/in-the-world
Copyright © 2019 by Standard Publishing, part of the David C Cook family.
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In the World–October 13, 2019

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A RISK IN IRAN

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

A WIDOW’S RISK

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

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

Additional Resources

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

www.standardlesson.com/category/in-the-world
Copyright © 2019 by Standard Publishing, part of the David C Cook family.
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In the World–October 6, 2019

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WHEN LAWS ARE BROKEN, PEOPLE DIE

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

WHEN LAWS ARE OBEYED, PEOPLE FLOURISH

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

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

Additional Resources

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

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

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

In the World–September 29, 2019

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

UNEXPECTED CONSEQUENCES OF CARRYING A KNIFE

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

UNEXPECTED CONSEQUENCES OF NOT BELIEVING GOD

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

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

Additional Resources

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

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

In the World–September 22, 2019

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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.
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In the World–June 30, 2019

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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

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Copyright © 2019 by Standard Publishing, part of the David C Cook family.
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In the World–June 23, 2019

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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

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Copyright © 2019 by Standard Publishing, part of the David C Cook family.
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In the World–June 16, 2019

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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

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Copyright © 2019 by Standard Publishing, part of the David C Cook family.
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In the World—June 9, 2019

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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

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Copyright © 2019 by Standard Publishing, part of the David C Cook family.
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In the World–June 2, 2019

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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

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In the World–May 26, 2019

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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

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In the World–May 19, 2019

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“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

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In the World–May 12, 2019

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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

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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

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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

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In the World–April 28, 2019

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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

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In the World–April 21, 2019

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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

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In the World–April 14, 2019

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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

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In the World–April 7, 2019

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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

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Copyright © 2019 by Standard Publishing, part of the David C Cook family. All rights reserved.
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In the World–March 31, 2019

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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

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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

 

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In the World–March 17, 2019

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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

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In the World–March 10, 2019

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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

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In the World—March 3, 2019

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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

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In the World—February 24, 2019

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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

 

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In the World—February 17, 2019

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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

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In the World—February 10, 2019

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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

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In the World—February 3, 2019

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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

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In the World—January 27, 2019

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“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

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In the World—January 20, 2019

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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

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In the World—January 13, 2019

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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

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In the World—January 6, 2019

By "In the World"

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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

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In the World—December 30, 2018

By "In the World"

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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

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In the World—December 23, 2018

By "In the World"

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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

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In the World—December 16, 2018

By "In the World"

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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

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In the World—December 9, 2018

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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

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In the World—December 2, 2018

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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

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In the World—November 25, 2018

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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

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In the World—November 18, 2018

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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

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In the World—November 11, 2018

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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

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In the World—November 4, 2018

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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

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In the World—October 28, 2018

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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

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In the World—October 21, 2018

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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

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In the World—October 14, 2018

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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

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In the World—October 7, 2018

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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

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In the World—September 30, 2018

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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

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In the World—September 23, 2018

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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

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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

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In the World—September 9, 2018

By "In the World"

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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

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In the World—September 2, 2018

By "In the World"

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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

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In the World—August 26, 2018

By "In the World"

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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

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In the World—August 19, 2018

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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

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In the World—August 12, 2018

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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

 

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In the World—August 12, 2018

By "In the World"

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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

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In the World—August 5, 2018

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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

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In the World—July 29, 2018

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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

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In the World—July 22, 2018

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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

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In the World—July 15, 2018

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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

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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

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In the World—July 1, 2018

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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

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In the World—June 24, 2018

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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

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In the World—June 17, 2018

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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

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In the World—June 10, 2018

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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

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In the World—June 3, 2018

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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

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In the World—May 27, 2018

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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

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In the World—May 20, 2018

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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

 

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In the World—May 13, 2018

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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

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In the World—May 6, 2018

By "In the World"

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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

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In the World—April 29, 2018

By "In the World"

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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

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In the World—April 22, 2018

By "In the World"

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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

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In the World—April 15, 2018

By "In the World"

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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

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In the World—April 8, 2018

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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

 

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In the World—April 1, 2018

By "In the World"

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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

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In the World—March 25, 2018

By "In the World"

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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

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In the World—March 18, 2018

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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

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In the World—March 11, 2018

By "In the World"

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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"

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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

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In the World—February 25, 2018

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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

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In the World—February 18, 2018

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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

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In the World—February 11, 2018

By "In the World"

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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

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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

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