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The Destiny of the Church

Lesson 13 - August 27, 2017

Focus Text: Ephesians 2:8-22

Central Truth: God is forming believers into a Church with a glorious destiny.

Objective: By the end of this lesson my students should be able to explain how their church can be a victorious one.

Lesson Outline:

  1. Saved Through Faith (Ephesians 2:8-10)
  2. Reconciled Through Christ (Ephesians 2:ll-l7)
  3. Foundation of Victory (Ephesians 2:18-22)

Questions

Question formation can greatly assist, or doom, a group discussion. Make sure your question is formed in such a way as to encour-age differing thoughts. Avoid questions that can be answered with a yes or no. Some possible question formats might include the following:

A. How do you feel about . . . ?
B. How can we change the situation?
C. What do you think has led to this situation or way of thinking?
D. Why do you feel as you do?

How, why, and when questions will often be more successful in stimulating discussion.

Discipline in the Church

Read Matthew 18:15-18

“Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother” (v. 15).

Sometimes our prayer meetings are nothing more than a time to get things off our chest. When we have been hurt we stand and declare it to the whole church, with an air of spirituality. After a detailed description, we sit down and feel so much better for sharing it and think God is pleased because of how much better we feel. This same sense of relief can be achieved by sharing our burdens with a friend or paid professional. People in the USA spend over $200 billion on mental health issues. While some of this is necessary, much is used simply to talk to someone about our problems. Christ said we are to cast our burdens on Him (1 Peter 5:7). What about when we are hurt by a brother or sister? We find clear direction in God's Word — go and tell him his fault! This is not with an attitude of lording it over the offender, but rather to make things right. An attitude of humility is needed from the offended party. Much damage is done to souls and even entire congregations because of not following God's way of dealing with those who have done wrong to us. By publically announcing the offense, we often cause the offender to put up a defensive shield. But, if we humbly approach the one who has offended us it often results in a repentant response. (Paul Clough)

A humble confession of hurt often leads to reconciliation.

This devotional is the Monday, August 14, 2017 entry of Opening the Word.

Discipline and the Church

Lesson 12 - August 20, 2017

Focus Text: Matthew 18:15-20; 2 Thessalonians 3:6-16

Central Truth: The ultimate purpose of church discipline is to win the erring.

Objective: By the end of this lesson my students should be able to explain ways the church should practice discipline of its members.

Lesson Outline:

  1. The Manner of Discipline (Matthew 18:15-20)
  2. The Practice of Discipline (2 Thessalonians 3:6-13)
  3. The Goal of Discipline (2 Thessalonians 3:14-16)

Small Groups

Depending on the size of your class, some people may be intimidated by speaking in what seems to them to be a large group. So consider dividing your class into groups of two or three, and allow-ing time for the small group to discuss the topic. Then ask for volunteers from the small groups to present to the class. You might follow that with something like, “Did any other group have some ideas that have not been presented to the entire group yet?” This can be another way to enlarge your participation pool.

Live Peaceably

Read Genesis 13:5-18

“And Abram said unto Lot, Let there be no strife, I pray thee, between me and thee, and between my herdmen and thy herdmen; for we be brethren” (v. 8).

The story is told of a young Christian soldier who faithfully knelt in prayer each night. The sergeant, who wanted nothing to do with God, disdained this “religious stuff!” One night, the disgruntled man reached for his own muddy boots and threw them at the young soldier, striking him on the head. The following morning a pair of beautifully clean and polished boots was lying neatly by his bed! How did his boots change from muddy to clean overnight? Ah, yes, it was the young soldier's doings! He was astonished to think that this young man returned a peaceful gesture instead of rage. The sergeant was so swept away by this kind deed that he eventually came to know Christ as his Savior. What would we do if we were the soldier? Are we endeavoring to live peaceably with others or do we adamantly attempt to stir up strife? When dissension comes our way, how do we react? Do we retaliate with ugly words and insensitive actions or do we demonstrate the love of Christ? Others are watching us! (Sharonda Baker)

May the mind of Christ, my Savior,</ br>Live in me from day to day,</ br>By His love and pow'r controlling</ br>All I do and say.</ br>— Kate B. Wilkinson

We will not influence sinners to find Jesus by acting like the devil. Allow the mind of Christ to live in us.

This devotional is the Monday, August 7, 2017 entry of Opening the Word.

The Influence of the Church

Lesson 11 - August 13, 2017

Focus Text: Romans 12:10-13; 1 Peter 3:12-18

Central Truth: The church positively influences its community through its Christlike
example.

Objective: By the end of this lesson my students should be able to list ways they can influence people around them.

Lesson Outline:

  1. Cultivate Brotherly Love (Romans 12:10-13)
  2. Influence the World for Good (1 Peter 3:12-15)
  3. Maintain a Good Conscience (1 Peter 3:16-18)

Dealing with Silence

Sometimes students are not prepared to share on a topic without giving some prior thought. The result can be an awkward silence. Try handing out paper and pencils and asking the students to write down their answer to the question first. This not only gives a time of silent reflection, but more timid students may be more likely to read what they have written than to speak “off the cuff.” The result may be a discussion with more participants than if you just allow those who are quick to speak to dominate the conversation.

A Pattern for Ministry

Read Luke 10:1-12

“The harvest is truly great, but the laborers are few: pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth laborers into his harvest” (v. 2).

The harvest . . . the laborers. Christ's harvest is great both in its immensity and its intensity. The sheer population of eternal souls needing Jesus today is staggering. Missiologists tell us that there are an estimated 2.2 billion self-professing Christians worldwide. Even if these figures are accurate, that leaves two-thirds of the world still unreached. But not only is the harvest great in its immensity; it is great in its intensity. The needs of people are so deep and the chains of sin so strong that the task often seems overwhelming and impossible.

Pray . . . the Lord of the harvest that he will send. The project of human redemption is truly the most ambitious task ever undertaken. Due to both its immensity and its intensity, it cannot be accomplished by mere human intervention, creativity, or even sheer hard work. It will require divine intervention. The most powerful tool we have is prayer. Ironically, the disciples became the answer to their prayer for harvesters. (See Luke 10:3.) We cannot pray for harvesters without becoming one ourselves. If you want to see more done for the kingdom, begin with prayer and prepare to go! (Don D Callaway)

Here am I send me;</ br>Here am I send me;</ br>Use me in your harvest, Lord.</ br>Send me where you desire</ br>Fill my soul with holy fire,</ br>Here am I, O Lord, send me!</ br>— Don Callaway

This devotional is the Tuesday, August 1, 2017 entry of Opening the Word.

Evangelism and the Church

Lesson 10 - August 6, 2017

Focus Text: Matthew 28:18-20; Acts 1:6-8; 8:4-8

Central Truth: Every Christian should be involved in the Church’s disciple-making mission.

Objective: By the end of this lesson my students should be able to give a clear definition of evangelism and how it may be done.

Lesson Outline:

  1. The Process of Disciple-Making (Matthew 28:18-20)
  2. The Power of Disciple-Making (Acts 1:6-8)
  3. The Proof of Disciple-Making (1 Thessalonians 1:5-7)