Friday, February 27, 2009

Famous failures

There is a pretty cool video on famous failures you might play for the class.

Class members can feel like failures in a number of areas: as an employee, a spouse, a parent, etc.

They may not have lived up to God's expectations. However, make the point that the past is history and they can start over today!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Does God have the same expectations for all of us?

In his Teaching Insights email Dan Kassis, Internet Producer at LifeWay suggests that the failure of promising athletes or bright stars as an illustration for teaching the lesson, “Meet Divine Expectations.”

LifeWay posted its QuickSource plan for the lesson. You might give it a look since it’s not often available. For this lesson, they suggest using a measuring cup as an object lesson for illustrating the idea of “measuring up” to expectations.

As an alternative, take along a set of measuring cups and ask class members if God has different expectations for different people?
Always one to meet expectations, Dr. Jeff Meyer posted a teaching plan for the lesson, and a couple of MSB commentaries on Isaiah (intro and vs by vs).

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Symbolic comparison

Mark Lashley’s commentary on the lesson “Meet Divine Expectations” asks, “How are you taking care of your vineyard?” I like this direct application because it forces the reader to deal with the question, “To what symbol would God use to describe me?” (I’m assuming it’s not a vineyard.)

Israel was described symbolically as a blessed vineyard in Isaiah 5:1-12. They had every opportunity and were cared for, and should have produced righteousness. Instead they produced unrighteousness.

If God wrote a song about Christians, what would He use to symbolically describe them? “living stones”? (1 Pet 2:5) “a building”? (1 Cor 3:9-10). “good soldiers”? (2 Tim 2:3-6). “sojourners”? (1 Pet 2:11). “sheep” (John 21:16-17, 1 Pet 2:25, Heb 13:20).

I could go on to list: children, a family, a bride, salt and light, fish, and probably more.

Use this list to help your class understand the many ways in which God tries to help us understand how He thinks of us.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Classified ad

I personally do not drink alcohol and advise others not to out of wisdom, but it has not escaped me that wine has become such a fad in American culture. According to this article: “America's current interest in quality wine stems from a 1991 60 Minutes Program that examined the health benefits of moderate wine consumption.” It may have started innocently enough, but consumption has increased to the point that “wine today is part of the very fabric of America.”

Ancient Israel was enamored with wine, too (see Isaiah 5:11-12), so it seems that America has achieved par with Isaiah’s audience. Today, we give every aspect of wine great attention, but we have no regard and no respect for God.

I say all of the above because the Bible never ceases to amaze. What was true continues to be true, and I can only wonder about the depths of God’s understanding compared to our lack of the same.

The lesson is titled, “Meet Divine Expectations.” What are God’s expectations of Christians today? Paul gave us a hint in Romans 12:9-21.

Another source I read gave the illustration of an employer’s expectations for an employee. Maybe you could show a picture of a classified ad and analyze it with your class to get some understanding of the expectations the employer would have of an employee?

Monday, February 23, 2009

Meet Divine Expectations, Isaiah 5:1-14

This week we start a new series of lessons from Isaiah. Based on Isaiah 5:1-14, the first, “Meet Divine Expectations,” aims to help Christians live up to God’s expectations. To help get the point, Leroy Fenton’s comments on the lesson begins by asking what if Isaiah was the pastor of your church right now? How would you respond to his sermons?

I would summarize Chapter 5 as the parable of the tenants (Mark 12:1-12) with six woes against evildoers that illustrates the justice a holy God demands. Pretty sobering stuff, and having just studied the coming of the Lord in the Thessalonian letters, I wondered about Israel’s expected future (Jer. 31:35-37, Romans 11:25-26, Zech 12:10-13:1).

Note: We last studied Isaiah in March-May of 2006 (see previous blog posts starting Feb 27, 2006 by successively clicking on Newer Post in the lower left corner).

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Labor day

Mark Cimijotti of Carmel Baptist Church posted his lesson plan for “You can keep at it” that includes a two-page learner handout (page down to the end of the document).

Faithful Jeff Meyer of Bayleaf Baptist also posted a lesson plan, and Kelly Kinto from Second Baptist, Houston posted a lesson plan. He relates his military experience of maintaining order to the lesson. His reference to ‘labor’ made me think of “Labor Day”.

My Powerpoint slides for “You can keep at it” may be helpful to some of you, too.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

PPT slides for "You can keep at it", 2 Thessalonians 3:1-18

I posted a version of my slides for Sunday’s lesson, “You can keep at it.” Howver, I plan to study a few more sources before I finalize my thoughts. So feel free to send me your changes or ideas about the slides (ronnieward AT SIGN yahoo DOT com), or post a comment on this blog.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009


To illustrate the idea behind the word translated perseverance in 2 Thes 3:5, which is used in Step 3 of the lesson, “You can keep at it,” I plan to show a video clip of Eric Liddell from the movie Chariots of Fire. In scene 12, “The Bravest Victory”, another runner trips Liddell, who falls down. Instead of quitting the race, however, he gets up, takes out after the other runners (now, well ahead in the race), and overtakes them. He wins the race. He took a blow and kept going. That’s perseverance!

Under what circumstances in life have you had to keep going ("hang in there")?

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

You can keep at it, 2 Thessalonians 3:1-18

Two ideas to share about teaching the lesson, “You can keep at it” based on 2 Thessalonians 3:1-18. In the first verse, Paul asked for prayer that the message would spread rapidly. So how fast was the spread of Christianity? To help grab people’s attention, I think I’ll show one or two maps (still looking for the right ones) and talk briefly about the early spread of Christianity (still looking for the right reference). It was honored.

The other idea came from the next to last verse where Paul demonstrates his own hand writing for the Thessalonians. He did this to combat forged letters (2 Thes 2:2). He wanted them to be able to distinguish a letter from him verses a counterfeit from someone else (Judiazers?). Counterfeit products are a huge problem for businesses today. Similarly, counterfeit Christians are a huge problem in the church today.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Critical thinking

Critical thinking is key skill, which few of us practice well. In teaching the lesson, "You can stay calm", consider testing "How gullible are we?" in class. Might be a fun exercise.

Monday, February 09, 2009

You can stay calm, 2 Thessalonians 2:1-17

If you have ever had a flight canceled due to weather delays, lost your luggage, or had a lost reservation at a hotel, you might begin to understand the emotions experienced by the Christians Paul wrote to in 2 Thessalonians 2:1-17, the focal passage for this week’s lesson, “You can stay calm”. I say this because in these modern situations, travelers are frequently given wrong information that’s upsetting, or troubling. All experienced travelers in your class have been in these situations and may be willing to share a story or two to use in introducing the lesson.

If not pertaining to travel, other situations when erroneous data is conveyed include wrong medical diagnosis, shipping information on an important package, or misleading financial advice (here there is always a promised messiah who can fix any problem). Search News on Google and you’ll find a story to use in opening the lesson.

Aside from these ideas, I also thought of looking at the situation in Thessalonica from Paul’s perspective. He probably thought of Murphy’s Law :).

Thursday, February 05, 2009


Sorry, I've been swamped this week and haven't had a lot of time to blog. I searched the blog and found lots of hits for 'suffering'. Some of the resulting posts may be useful.

However, Karen Conner of 2nd Baptist, Houston, shared her lesson plan for "You can feel safe."

Jeff Meyer of Bayleaf Baptist also shared his lesson plan for "You can feel safer." There is no explanation for the subtle change in the title.

Be sure and read Sam Tullock's commentary on the lesson passage. I always find it useful.

May God bless your teaching!

Monday, February 02, 2009

You can feel safe, 2 Thes 1:1-12

The lesson, "You can feel safe" from 1 Thessalonians 2:1-12 asks three questions. (Step 2) What is God doing in me? (believers faith is flourishing and their love is increasing). (Step 3) What is God going to do with me? (reward believers with rest in God's kingdom). (Step 4) What does God want to do thru me? (join Him in glorifying the name of the Lord Jesus Christ). My short answers are given in parenthesis.

How does knowing these answers help believers suffering persecution because of their faith? You might consider stating the lesson by asking what they do when they're having a bad day?