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Sabbath Rest

Observation: Sundays can be as eventful as other days. There are seasons in the church calendar which make the Lord’s Day just as hectic as any other. Check in with the class for input about this issue. Do they notice themselves being so industrious in “God’s work” that they fail to reserve intervals to restore their souls? Are they too harried to be sensitive to the needs around them? Do the class members take opportunities to sit down with their families for occasional meals and quality time? Inspire the group to plan sessions to refuel and restore their spirits before the Lord. When Sundays become crowded with church events, encourage them to seize additional moments on alternative days in the week to devote to time alone with God. Rest from one’s work is modeled by God. It is important that we discuss how to follow His model.

Making Right Choices

Lesson 8 - October 22, 2017

Focus Text: Genesis 13:5-15; 14:14-16

Central Truth: We should ask God for wisdom for life’s decisions.

Objective: By the end of this lesson my students should be able to list some guidelines for making right choices.

Lesson Outline:

  1. Abram's Generosity (Genesis 13:1-9)
  2. Lot's Covetousness (Genesis 13:10-13)
  3. God's Covenant (Genesis 13:14-18)
  4. Lot's Deliverance (Genesis 14:1-16)

Missions Emphasis

Develop a hunger in the hearts of your adult students to have a passion and burden for missions. Pray for the persecuted church regularly, and share occasional updates about the victories or obstacles facing those who are suffering for the cause of Christ. Educate the members regarding the challenges that missionaries have in trying to evangelize unreached people groups. Pray specifically for our missionaries, and communicate with them through cards/letters or social media. Consider sending a care package to various missionaries from time to time. The class might be interested in committing to fill one or more Christmas packages for needy children. Make a concerted effort to give toward the annual World Missions offering at church. Perhaps the Sunday school class could take up a collection in addition to the gifts that individuals plan to donate on their own.

Living as a Foreigner

Read Genesis 12:9, 10; 14-20

"And there was a famine in the land: and Abram went down into Egypt to sojourn there; for the famine was grievous in the land" (v. 10).

When a severe famine struck the land of Canaan, Abram was forced to move his family to a foreign country, where they could survive. However, before long, Abram had gotten himself into a predicament with the Pharaoh, and soon Abram and company were sent packing out of Egypt, complete with an escort (v. 20).

It is not easy being a foreigner. It was my high privilege to dwell across the waters for a season of service in another country. I quickly discovered that in order to build relationships and establish a meaningful life as a foreigner, one must be willing to respect the culture, political system, cuisine, societal norms, language, and inhabitants of that land. Likewise, we should regard immigrants to our country with the respect with which we would wish to be treated, and dwell in harmony as much as is possible. After all, we, too, are really foreigners on this planet - passing through to our homeland, one that is fairer than day! (Faith Trussell)

O Beulah Land, sweet Beulah Land,
As on thy highest mount, I stand,
I look away across the sea,
Where mansions are prepared for me,
And view the shining glory shore,
My heaven, my home forever more!
- Edgar Page Stites

While we are living as foreigners, may all whose paths we cross see Jesus in us!

This devotional is the Monday, October 9, 2017 entry of Opening the Word.

Fulfilling God’s Purpose

Lesson 7 - October 15, 2017

Focus Text: Genesis 11:31-12:9

Central Truth: God’s divine purpose is fulfilled by man’s obedience to God’s will.

Objective: By the end of this lesson my students should be able to identify blessings that result from obedience to God.

Lesson Outline:

  1. God's Call (Genesis 11:31-12:1)
  2. God's Covenant (Genesis 12:2-3)
  3. Abram's Obedience (Genesis 12:4-9)

Meditate on the Word

Carefully pray, plan, and prepare the class for the upcoming week’s focus on the meditation of God’s Word and biblical principles. Mention that each person should bring a journal or note-taking method the following class. Choose a portion of the Bible reading to use to practice meditating on a passage. Select several class members to read pre-determined sections from various writers on this subject to give the group guidance on how to pursue meditation on the Scripture. This is a discipline that is rarely mentioned in sermons but results in personal benefits to encourage closeness with God and spiritual growth. Issue a challenge, along with suggestions from readings, for the class to develop this discipline individually in the week to come. After practicing this exercise, ask for feedback from participants regarding areas where they were convicted, blessed, or uplifted.

Pride Brings Peril

Read 2 Chronicles 26:14-16

“But when he was strong, his heart was lifted up to his destruction: for he transgressed against the LORD his God, and went into the temple of the LORD to burn incense upon the altar of incense” (v. 16)

Uzziah became king at the age of only sixteen and ruled for fifty-two years. He was a successful king, winning victories against Judah’s enemies and building a strong nation.

There is a sad irony in Uzziah’s story. The name Uzziah means “The Lord is my strength.” But when Uzziah “was strong,” pride filled his heart. He came to believe that he could manage on his own. One day, Uzziah entered the temple to perform duties that were reserved for the priests. Eighty priests went into the temple to argue with him, but Uzziah refused to listen. God judged him with leprosy.

Pride is a constant temptation in ministry. It is a sin that brings great peril to any church leader. When God blesses our ministry, Satan tempts us to pride and a belief that it is our talents and abilities that are bringing a response. If we are not careful to continue relying on God, our hearts will be lifted up in pride and we will try to do God’s work in our own strength. (Randall D. McElwain)

Cleanse me from every evil thought,
From all the filth of self and pride.
The hatred of the carnal mindOut of my flesh at once remove: Give me a tender heart, resigned,
And pure, and full of faith and love. — John Wesley

Pride will destroy our ministry. We must always remember that it is only God working through us that makes ministry effective. The 

The Failure of Self-Will

Lesson 6 - October 8, 2017

Focus Text: Genesis 11:1-9

Central Truth: True success comes only when we live within God's will.

Objective: By the end of this lesson my students should be able to identify reasons why they should yield to God’s will.

Lesson Outline:

  1. Powerful Resources (Genesis 11:1-2)
  2. Presumptuous Resolutions (Genesis 11:3-4)
  3. Providential Restraint (Genesis 11:5-9)

Promise of Victory

Read Revelation 21:1-7

“He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son” (v. 7).

Games are not really worth playing if one player claims the victory by breaking the rules. That is cheating! Cheating spoils the fun of the game.

Christians can claim victory in life, not because they are going to cheat, but because they are on a team with the one who has already achieved the victory. Jesus can offer to share His victory because He properly earned the victory by following God's rules — He died to satisfy justice.

Yesterday's reading reminded us that after salvation, we “were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise.” Jesus promised His disciples that when their Teacher left, they would not be left alone. A “Comforter” would come to continue the work already started in them. God never leaves His children to face the enemy alone. The Holy Spirit comes along beside us to guide and teach and even comfort us through every struggle and battle. Victory has been assured for the Christian. We must be the ones to claim the promise. (Michelle Avery)

Claim the promised victory!

This devotional is the Sunday, August 27, 2017 entry of Opening the Word.

Stay on Target

One of the chief roles of a teacher during a time of discussion is not to assess who is right or wrong but to keep the discussion on target. Discussions can easily stray into talking about pet peeves if they are not guided correctly. Often guiding the discussion is done with questions that bring the speaker back to the discussion topic. You can say things like, “What you have said is good, but how does it help us to understand our topic?” If you summarize the contribution of each speaker to the topic, it may help later speakers to stay on the topic.