Monday, March 31, 2008

When others hate you, Genesis 37-38

This lesson begins our study of the last great person of focus in the book of Genesis—Joseph. It is based on Genesis 37-38 and titled “When Others Hate You,” by Donald Raney. His comments mention “dysfunctional families.”

Likewise, Russ Rosser of Carmel Baptist Church in Matthews, NC, offers a lesson plan for “When Others Hate You,” with specific teachings about “dysfunctional families”. For example, he covers various types of parents including those who are defficient, controlling, abusive, and alcoholic. He discusses how these parental types might impact children, and how their negative effects can be overcome. What you may find useful is a questionnaire that members can use privately (if you offer it as a handout) to assess how they might be affected.

You could start the class by asking members to name ways to make an enemy. Write the list on a marker board as they call them out. Here is a starter list as a suggestion:

- If you are the favorite of the boss, be sure and let others know it.
- File a lawsuit against a neighbor, or co-worker.
- Tell someone who works for you that he/she is a ‘little person’.
- Falsely accuse someone,or lie about them to others. Make sure they know it was you.
- Cheat someone in a business deal.
- Blame a problem on someone else in the organization when it was really your fault.
- Brag to your family that you make more money than they do, or that you live in a bigger house.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Checking spiritual temperature

Russ Rosser of Carmel Baptist Church in Matthews, NC, offers a lesson plan for “Renewing Commitment”. His approach suggests (to me) the idea of illustrating Christian commitment using a thermometer. For example, a "spiritual thermometer" might register at one end whether you are lukewarm, or at the other, if you are serving God in “fiery holiness”? I suppose you could take a thermometer to class and use it in your illustration.

I’ve mentioned the idea of using a thermometer before in posts about sharing Jesus, and getting the class to listen up.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Lesson focus

As I prepare to teach, several possible directions to take the lesson typically occur to me. For example, for the lesson, “Renewing Commitment”, the busyness of our lives and how we are distracted in our relationship with the Lord is used in the lesson plan for Renewing Commitment by Jeff Meyer from Bayleaf Baptist Church. Alternately, you could emphasize how not to respond when you are wronged (Jacob’s sons reacted by murdering their sister’s rapist, for example). This is suggested in the lesson commentary by Sam Tullock. Again, the text permits a lesson approach based on how to properly dedicate something to the Lord. This idea is suggested by lesson comments from Jan Freeman Hixson, First Church of Springdale. Have you decided how you will approach this week’s lesson and what focus you’ll take?

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Renewing Commitment, Genesis 34:1-36:43

A reasonable way to start the lesson, “Renewing Commitment,” based on Genesis 34:1-36:43, is to use the Lifeway Adult Leader Guide suggestion for displaying rechargeable items (batteries, etc) and asking members how they are like our spiritual lives.

This gets people thinking about renewal. Another approach is to use the idea of illustrating a “big mistake” using the game of Jenga, which is suggested in the lesson plan by Jay Hancock of Carmel Baptist Church in Matthews, NC. Recognizing the big mistake in their lives leads members to a renewal of commitment.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Lifeway teaching insight

Lifeway's Internet Producer, Dan Kassis, sends out a weekly email with lesson commentary. I reproduced this week's version below for those of you who do not receive his mail.

Happy Easter!

Unit: Growth of Faith
Lesson: Celebrating Easter's Significance
Scriptures: John 20:1-18; 1 Corinthians 15:1-28

We take a break from our study of Genesis this week to celebrate our Lord Jesus' victory over death and fulfillment of prophecy in His sacrifice on a cross and resurrection from a tomb. Our lesson takes a look at both a gospel account of Jesus' resurrection and the apostle Paul's affirmation to the Corinthian church of this critical teaching.

It is apparently not enough to the world that Jesus suffered for our sins. He now has to suffer a decreasing level of significance in society. During the enlightenment period, philosophers doubted the gospels. In the 20th century, scientists doubted the creation account. Today academicians doubt everything the Bible says. We have come to a point in the 21st century when the very belief in God is being attacked by modern atheists with publishing deals and speaking tours.

Even Christians who attend Sunday School and Bible studies are prone to influence from the constant barrage against Jesus from the media - and sadly from some church pulpits. But the absolute, verifiable, and undeniable truth of Jesus' death, burial, and resurrection are just as significant today as they were when the events unfolded before eyewitnesses. As you teach this lesson, you must communicate to your learners that Easter is a time to celebrate Jesus. This is also a great opportunity to ensure that all who attend your class session have made their own decisions to receive Jesus as Lord and Savior.

Reading the eyewitness account of Jesus' resurrection in John 20, one perceives the depth of hope these people had put in their Teacher. Notice the way Peter and John ran to the tomb. Picture Mary weeping just outside the entrance. When she believes that the "gardener" has removed Jesus' body from the tomb, she resolutely states that she will take Him away. That one woman could have carried a body by herself is unlikely - but this only illustrates her determination to honor Jesus. The way she clings to the Lord when she finally recognizes Him further enforces this fact. What are the depths of the hope your learners have placed in Jesus? Easter Sunday is the perfect day to challenge them to rededicate their hearts fully to the Lord.

Paul's proclamation in 1 Corinthians 15:3-8 is one of the earliest writings that support the death, burial, bodily resurrection, and post-resurrection appearances of Jesus. On page 34 of Lee Strobel's excellent book, The Case for Christ (Zondervan, 1998), Denver Seminary professor Dr. Craig Blomberg is quoted as remarking that this creed can be dated to within two to five years after Jesus' resurrection. There is no way any skeptic could credibly refute the historicity of these apostolic claims. The faith we place in Jesus is a rock-solid faith based on fact. This is a wonderful truth to communicate to your learners on Resurrection Sunday!

Have you taken time lately to think about the significance of Jesus' death and resurrection? In what specific ways will you celebrate your new life in Christ?

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Light, life, action!

Mark Rathel’s comments on “Celebrating Easter’s Significance” emphasize the “new beginning”, the clue of left behind clothing, and the “light of men”, or the moral illumination Jesus is to the lives of believers. How has Jesus shed light on darkness in your life?

Consider demonstrating how a cheap flashlight cuts on and off (even though it has fresh batteries in it) to illustrate how undependable man's efforts are at stimulating good moral behavior compared to the perfection found in Jesus Christ.

To get a flashlight on, we bang it, wiggle it, or shake it. To keep it on, we handle it carefully so as not to jar it. But the light of Jesus is totally dependable. His light never fails, and in Him we never walk in darkness (John 8:12).

Monday, March 17, 2008

Celebrating Easter’s Significance, John 20:1-9, 15-18; 1 Cor 15:3-6, 20-22

This Sunday we will not have Bible Study classes at Champion Forest Baptist Church (even though we have lot’s of new parking spaces, I suppose we can’t keep two groups on campus at the same time—those in a worship service, and those in a Bible Study Class). So I won’t blog about this week’s lesson, “Celebrating Easter’s Significance” except to call to your attention various lesson helps posted on the web, such as the lesson plan offered by Jeff Meyer, Bayleaf Baptist Church. I’ll continue to look for others and post them if it makes sense.

Manchester Baptist Church, Manchester, MO posted a few study questions for the lesson as did CornerStone Baptist Church, Arlington, TX.

Unexpectedly, life is flourishing after the Chernobyl disaster in Russia. Reading parts of the article may be useful for introducing your Easter lesson, which includes the resurrection of Jesus from the dead! He is risen!

Happy Easter!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Growing spiritually by praying for others

Your life may not be in crisis at the moment, but most likely you have friends, or family members whose lives are in turmoil. What should you do?

Jay Hancock of Carmel Baptist Church in Matthews, NC, posted his lesson plan for “Growing Spiritually Through Crises”. He includes a two-sheet handout, “Scripture Prayers for Your Family and Friends.” He illustrates how to use it with a prayer for his daughter. Again, concern for others is a sign of spiritual growth.

Consider using his handout in your class to help members pray personally for crisis situations in the lives of family or friends.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Evidence of Spiritual Growth

According to Genesis 32:7, when Jacob faced a crisis, he was “greatly afraid and distressed.” At first he made a plan to divide into two camps, which would guarantee the survival of at least half of his family. Concern for others is one way of demonstrating spiritual growth.

Later, he prayed to the LORD. This signaled another way in which he was “Growing Spiritually Through Crises.” We can’t put marks on a wall showing spiritual growth, for example, like we do to show growth in height. So how do we determine spiritual growth? Some possible examples of spiritual growth include: being encouraged by the truth found in God’s word, demonstrating a voluntary concern for the well being of others, performing acts of service in the name of the Lord, praying continually?

To be more systematic, make a list of 'evidences for spiritual growth' (see p. 32) found in Transformational Discipleship, by Sneed and Edgemon, LifeWay Press. Use this list to help class members apply the meaning of spiritual growth.

Why not publish your list as a comment to this post? I know that others would appreciate it!

Monday, March 10, 2008

Growing Spiritually Through Crises, Genesis 32-33

Opps! I got ahead of myself last Saturday and confused Jeff Meyer's comments on this week's lesson, "Growing Spiritually Through Crises" with his comments on last week's lesson, which was titled: "Learning about God's faithfulness." Sorry about that! I want to be a help, not a waste of time.

Here is a quiz to determine a descriptive label for how you act in a crisis. I'm a "soother", not a "super hero." Are you a "crazy," a "stormy," or a "comic relief"?

You might consider reading parts of this article, which describes a person whose life is one crisis after another.

Saturday, March 08, 2008


Jeff Meyer of Bayleaf Baptist Church posted his lesson plan for “Learning about God’s faithfulness”. I always enjoy his comments, for example, I liked his angle on life shaping crisis in this lesson.

Friday, March 07, 2008

Hated in-laws

A lesson plan for "Learning about God’s faithfulness,” written by Jay Hancock of Carmel Baptist Church in Matthews, NC, was posted on the web. He mentions bad family situations. Can you top this one? Maybe read a story from a wbsite titled, I Hate My In-Laws? Lord, help us.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

I forgot to pray

The lesson, “Learning about God’s faithfulness” teaches us that God is faithful regardless of our circumstances, even when we fail to pray.

If you google the phrases, “I forgot to pray”, or “I did not pray”, you’ll get tens of thousands of search results. I point this out to illustrate that we often fail to pray as Christians about the safety of a loved one, some issue in our lives, or a particular circumstance. Yet, things work out okay. Why is that? Well, it illustrates how God is faithful even when we go about our lives oblivious to His involvement.

How many times have your class members failed to pray in some situation, but God was nevertheless faithful? What a God we serve!

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

A heart of worship

Reading Genesis 31:1-3 to prepare for Step 3 of the lesson, “Learning about God’s Faithfulness,” reminds me somewhat of Matthew 28:16-20. In both situations where believers needed encouragement, the Lord unexpectedly spoke a command—“Go” with a reminder, “I will be with you.”

First, He is faithful to intervene by speaking to the heart of the believer need. Second, He adds the assurance of His continnual presence. How faithful is that?!

When life gets tough, what do you do? Pastor Ben Edgington recommends worship. Read the section titled, “a sole with hope” of his message “Worship when life is tough”. It’s encouraging.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Learning about God's Faithfulness, Genesis 29:1-31:55

Studying Genesis 29:1-31:55 this week, we can see Jacob learning about God’s faithfulness. In His sovereignty, God allows pain and trouble in our lives so He can make His faithfulness known to us.

Uncle Laban’s gods were nothing more than impersonal idols. On the other hand, Jacob worshipped a very personal God who inspired dread (the Fear of Isaac). God had revealed Himself personally to Jacob at Bethel. Paul understood God as personal (see Phil 4:19). In what ways does God get personal with us?

Ask members to think about a time when the Lord has revealed Himself to them personally. What were their circumstances?