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Life Truths Learner Guide
!"#$%&'()*%+ The Bible records that Jesus used the phrase “born again” in a conversation with a man named Nicodemus. Nicodemus approached Jesus at night. He was curious about Jesus and the kingdom of God. Jesus told him: “Unless someone is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3). Nicodemus responded, “But how can anyone be born when he is old?” (John 3:4). Nicodemus was a highly moral man who obeyed God’s law. He was a respected leader of the Jewish community. No doubt he was a fine man. Yet something was lacking. Like Nicodemus, many people today confuse religion with new birth in Christ. Phrases like “I pray regularly” or “I believe there is a God” often are confused with a real new-birth experience.
© ROSEMARIE GEARHAR/ISTOCKPHOTO
New birth begins with the Holy Spirit convicting a person that the person is a sinner. Because of sin, we are spiritually dead. For this reason, spiritual birth, as Jesus described it, is necessary. God loves us and gives us spiritual birth when we ask Him for it. The Bible says all persons are sinners (Romans 3:23). Jesus died on a cross and was raised from the dead to save sinners. To be born again means that a person admits to God that he or she is a sinner, repents of sin, believes in or trusts Christ, and confesses faith in Christ as Savior and Lord. Jesus told Nicodemus that everyone who believes in (places faith in) Christ would not perish (John 3:16). Jesus is the only One who can save us (John 14:6). To believe in Jesus is to be born again. Confess your sins and ask Jesus right now to save you. “Whoever calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” (Acts 2:21). After you have received Jesus Christ into your life, share your decision with another person, and following Christ’s example, ask for baptism by immersion in your local church as a public expression of your faith (Romans 6:4; Colossians 2:6).
CHANGE THE WORLD
ROADS LESS TRAVELED
5 Study Theme Introduction
38 Study Theme Introduction
6 December 5
40 January 2
Value What God Values Isaiah 61:1-11
Community Ephesians 4:4-7,14-16,25-32
14 December 12 Go and Do Luke 10:25-37
48 January 9 Humility Luke 14:7-11; John 13:3-5,14-15; Philippians 2:1-4
22 December 19 Focus on Jesus Luke 2:8-20,33-35 30 December 26 Go and Tell Acts 8:26-39
56 January 16 Service Matthew 25:19-21,29,34-40; Mark 10:42-45 64 January 23
Sacrifice Luke 9:23-24,57-62; 21:1-4; Romans 12:1-2
HOSEA: GOD’S CRAZY LOVE STORY 80 Study Theme Introduction 82 February 6 Love to the Unlovely Hosea 1:2-9; 3:1-5 90 February 13 Loyal to the Disloyal Hosea 6:1–7:2 98 February 20 Father to the Rebellious Hosea 11:1-11 106 February 27 A Home for the Homeless Hosea 14:1-9
72 January 30 Meditation Psalm 1:1-3; 119:11-16; Mark 1:35-39
For parents, from parents, because God’s Word makes us better parents. VOLUME 5, NUMBER 2 WINTER 2010-11
PRODUCTION & MINISTRY TEAM James Jackson CONTENT EDITOR
Ashley M. Linne PRODUCTION EDITOR
Stephanie Salvatore GRAPHIC DESIGN SPECIALIST
Alan Raughton LEAD ADULT MINISTRY SPECIALIST
David Apple ADULT MINISTRY SPECIALIST
Christina Zimmerman EDITORIAL PROJECT LEADER
Send questions/comments to: Content Editor, Life Truths Learner Guide, One LifeWay Plaza, Nashville, TN 37234-0175; or make comments on the Web at www.lifeway.com.
MANAGEMENT PERSONNEL Bret Robbe DIRECTOR, LEADERSHIP AND ADULT PUBLISHING
Ken Braddy, Ron Brown, Ron Keck MANAGING DIRECTORS, LEADERSHIP AND ADULT PUBLISHING
David Francis DIRECTOR, SUNDAY SCHOOL
Bill Craig DIRECTOR, LEADERSHIP AND ADULT MINISTRY
Gary H. Hauk DIRECTOR, PUBLISHING LIFEWAY CHURCH RESOURCES
There are two types of people in the world: those who make New Year’s resolutions, and those who used to. Many of us give up on the idea of making resolutions because we have failed so many times at following through with them. Research shows 52% of all participants in a resolution study believed they would accomplish their goals, but only 12% actually achieved them.1 So with this Winter issue of Life Truths, we come around again to the promise of a new year. Will you make resolutions this year? December’s unit title sounds like a resolution (Change the World). January’s unit is all about developing spiritual disciplines, which is key to actually keeping whatever resolutions you make. But it is February’s study of Hosea that shows the power of making a resolution. Long ago, God resolved that He would restore a relationship with fallen humanity. And no matter how often we have strayed away from God, He has never stopped making good on that resolution.
1. “New Year’s Resolutions Experiment,” Quirkology.com, cited 25 May 2010; www.quirkology. com/UK/Experiment_resolution.shtml. Printed in the United States of America Life Truths Learner Guide (ISSN 1557-475X; Item 005075000) is published quarterly by LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention, One LifeWay Plaza, Nashville, TN 37234, Thom S. Rainer, President. © 2010 LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention. For ordering or inquiries, visit www.lifeway.com, or write LifeWay Church Resources Customer Service, One LifeWay Plaza, Nashville, TN 37234-0113. For subscriptions or subscription address changes, e-mail subscribe@lifeway. com, fax (615) 251-5818, or write to the above address. For bulk shipments mailed quarterly to one address, e-mail email@example.com, fax (615) 251-5933, or write to the above address. We believe that the Bible has God for its author; salvation for its end; and truth, without any mixture of error, for its matter and that all Scripture is totally true and trustworthy. The 2000 statement of The Baptist Faith and Message is our doctrinal guideline. Unless otherwise noted, Scripture quotations are taken from the Holman Christian Standard Bible®, copyright 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission. Scripture quotations marked (NIV) are from the Holy Bible, New International Version, copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission. Scripture quotations marked (NASB) are taken from the New American Standard Bible, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. (www.lockman.org) Scripture quotations marked (AMP) are taken from The AmplifiedBible, copyright © 1954, 1958, 1962, 1964, 1965, 1987 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. (www.lockman.org) NOTE: Many Internet addresses given in this periodical are outside the LifeWay Internet domain. At the time of this posting, the specific pages mentioned were viewed and approved by LifeWay editorial staff. Because information on these pages may have changed by the time of your viewing, the LifeWay editorial staff cannot be held responsible for content on pages outside their control. Specific page addresses referenced in this periodical possibly may link to inappropriate material.
DECEMBER UNIT FOCUS: COMMUNITY AND WORLD
&&41)%(-&.1-&5#$63 KYLE CRAVENS works in
IN 1996, ERIC CLAPTON had a hit song called
the Student Events Department at
“Change the World” that, no pun intended, struck a chord with a lot of people. “If I could change the world,” Clapton sang, “I would be the sunlight in your universe. You would think my love was really something good, if I could change the world.” The song won him a Grammy.
LifeWay Christian Resources, and
Rock stars aren’t generally known for their humility. But Clapton seemed to understand something about his own limitations with that lyric. The phrase “if I could” carries with it the awareness that “I cannot.” I can’t change the world. I can’t be the sunlight in your universe. And my love, no matter how hard I try to express it, is fundamentally flawed.
adults for LifeWay, including Life
But when we could not, God did. Sunlight came into our dark universe in the most unlikely way: Jesus, Son of God, born in a feeding trough for want of a hotel room. Jesus, the only One who can back up the desire to change the world with the ability.
is part of the team that coordinates Fuge youth camps in the summer (www.fuge.com). He has written curriculum for both teenagers and
Truths. He and his wife, Danette, have been married for nearly ten years, and are the proud parents of one son, Colin. They live in Franklin, Tennessee, where they are active in their home church, Rolling Hills Community Church (SBC).
FOR THE REST OF US, WE CAN ONLY CHANGE THE WORLD BY POINTING TO THE ONE WHO ALREADY HAS. 5
P A U S E
and hear God speak
A GROW LESSON DECEMBER 5
7 ) 6 8 - & 5 1 ) .& &&&9#3&7)68-: I s h a v i n g t h e r i g ht to something t h e s a m e t h i n g as actually having it?
© MAYUMI TERAO/ISTOCKPHOTO
“Everyone has the right to work … to just and favourable conditions of work … ensuring for himself and his family an existence worthy of human dignity … Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care …” — United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 1948
The Job Description
No, “Christ” is NOT Jesus’ Last Name.
What the Anointed One will do:
What the Restored Ones will do:
Isaiah 61:1-7 1
The Spirit of the Lord GOD is on Me, because the LORD has anointed Me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives,
Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary, p. 70.
The Hebrew mashach and the Greek chrio, both translated “to anoint,” are the source for our English words “Messiah” and “Christ.” In the context of this passage (which Jesus applies to Himself in Luke 4:16-19), anointing is the procedure of pouring oil over someone’s head for the purpose of setting Him apart. So “Jesus Christ” is “Jesus, the Anointed One.” Look up 2 Corinthians 1:21 and 1 John 2:27. Are Christians also anointed, or do we just follow the Anointed One?
and freedom to the prisoners; 2
to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor, and the day of our God’s vengeance; to comfort all who mourn,
to provide for those who mourn in Zion; to give them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, festive oil instead of mourning, and splendid clothes instead of despair. And they will be called righteous trees, planted by the LORD,to glorify Him.
They will rebuild the ancient ruins; they will restore the former devastations; they will renew the ruined cities, the devastations of many generations.
Strangers will stand and feed your flocks, and foreigners will be your plowmen and vinedressers.
But you will be called the LORD’s priests; they will speak of you as ministers of our God; you will eat the wealth of the nations, and you will boast in their riches.
Because your shame was double,and they cried out, “Disgrace is their portion,” therefore, they will possess double in their land,
and eternal joy will be theirs.
When you were a kid, did your dad ever ask you to help him in the garage? Did he ask you because he needed your help, or was there something else going on? 8
C O N N E C T
with the Word and other parents during class
JOHN MCLAIRD/GLOW IMAGES
But let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream! –Amos 5:24 (NIV)
How is justice like a rolling river? How is righteousness like a never-failing stream? Good News to the Poor
Healing the Brokenhearted
Liberty to the Captives
Rebuilding Ancient Ruins
JUSTICE The Holman Bible Dictionary describes justice as “the central ethical idea of the Old Testament.” It is defined as “the order that God seeks to reestablish in His creation, in which all people receive the benefits of life with Him.” So “robbery” in verse 8 means taking something that rightfully belongs to someone else.
Beauty Instead of Ashes
Isaiah 61:8-9 8
For I the LORD love justice; I hate robbery and injustice; I will faithfully reward them and make an everlasting covenant with them.
Their descendants will be known among the nations, and their posterity among the peoples. All who see them will recognize that they are a people the LORD has blessed. DECEMBER 5
C O N N E C T
“A theology that cannot be sung is not worth having… Authentic Christian faith is not merely believed. Nor is it merely acted upon. It is sung— with utter joy sometimes, in uncontrollable tears sometimes, but it is sung.” –Reggie M. Kidd
Isaiah 61:10-11 10
Project Runway: Scripture Edition
I greatly rejoice in the LORD, I exult in my God; for He has clothed me with the garments of salvation and wrapped me in a robe of righteousness,
Throughout Scripture, robes carry great symbolic significance: The favored son: Joseph was given a robe of many colors by his father (Gen. 37). The priest: God devoted an entire chapter of Exodus (28) to instructions for how to make the high priest’s robe. The forgiven son: When the prodigal son came home, the father ordered that the best robe be brought for him (Luke 15:22). The faithful: in Revelation 7:9-14, those who had been martyred for their faith are wearing white robes.
as a bridegroom wears a turban and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels. 11
For as the earth brings forth its growth, and as a garden enables what is sown to spring up, so the Lord GOD will cause righteousness and praise to spring up before all the nations.
Mount St. Helens Then and Now Geologists know there is a connection between “beauty instead of ashes” in verse 3 and the “earth brings forth growth” in verse 11. Look at the two photos of a valley near Mount St. Helens. Within a generation, an area that was desolated had sprung to life again, thanks to the nutrients provided from the volcanic ash.
2010 ALEX L. FRADKIN/GETTY IMAGES
KEN DESPAIN/ISTOCK PHOTO
D E E P E N
your understanding ISAIAH 61:1-2 FOR FURTHER STUDY...
!;#3)<===&;1*:&>?$*@.8$-&1):&"--%&A86/*66-3+ In Luke 4:16-30, Jesus visited his hometown of Nazareth. News had spread about the miracle worker from Nazareth, so everybody—family, friends, and neighbors—flocked to see and hear Him. Jesus’ custom was to attend public worship, so He made His way on the Sabbath to the place of prayer. The synagogue service typically included a reading from the Law or the Prophets and a brief sermon by one of the men of the congregation or a visiting rabbi. Jesus was asked by the synagogue leaders to read the Scripture and to give the sermon. Maybe they wanted to prove He was no more than a learned man and gifted teacher. Perhaps they were just curious to see what He had to say. Maybe they saw this as their chance to observe Him up close and personal. This crowd thought of Jesus as the son of Mary and Joseph. Many of them had watched Him grow up. Jesus wanted the people to know He was fulfillment of prophecy, the Son of God. Jesus selected Isaiah 61:1-2 for His text, which the rabbis interpreted to refer to the Messiah. Imagine how shocked the crowd was when Jesus boldly said it was written about Him and that He had come to bring the “acceptable year of the Lord” (KJV). Jesus brought the message of salvation to sinners. He healed the brokenhearted and freed people from bondage to demons, sickness, and disease. The problem was that His listeners did not believe Him, much less believe IN Him. They saw Him only as the son of Mary and Joseph.
He then rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant, and sat down. And the eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fixed on Him. He began by saying to them, “Today as you listen, this Scripture has been fulfilled.” Luke 4:20-21
At first, they admired the way He taught, but when He started reminding them that God’s grace is for ALL people (see vv. 25-27), it didn’t take long for their admiration to turn into antagonism. His message of grace was a blow to the Jews and a reminder of God’s goodness to the Gentiles. It cut both ways: Jews must be saved by grace, just like the Gentiles, but Gentiles could be saved by grace, just like the Jews. This was enough to make the crowd want to throw Him off a cliff! It was His first sermon and His first rejection. It wouldn’t be His last of either one.
L I V E
your faith every day
TO LESS STRESSFUL HOLIDAYS
Getting out of alignment with God can happen quickly during the holidays. Here are some tips to help keep your focus on the true reason for the season. 1. Avoid crowded malls and stores. Give gift cards or shop online. 2. Don’t give gifts. Instead, give money to local charities, your church, or the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering® for International Missions. 3. Scale back on Christmas decorating. Give away unused decorations and help an elderly person do his or her decorating. 4. Be selective about the Christmas parties and activities you attend. Do not over-book your schedule. 5. Send a Christmas e-card to everyone on your Christmas card list. This will save money and time.
FAMILY ADVENTCelebrate Advent over the next four weeks as a family. Purchase three purple candles, a pink candle, and a white candle. Light a purple candle and share things for which you hope as individuals and as a family: for this week, the Christmas season, the New Year to come, your lifetime on earth, and your life in heaven. Make sure some of your discussion focuses on eternal longings. Talk about the hope and comfort we have as believers because of Christ. Search and read Scripture on the hope we have in Christ. Discuss those who are in need of hope, those without Jesus, and those hurting. Plan what you can do as a family to bring them hope this week. Put together food baskets and deliver them to the needy in your community.
6. Plan a relaxing getaway for a few days.
7. Focus on Christ every day.
CHILDREN: How Oliver Olson Changed the World; by Claudia Mills; pictures by Heather Maione; Farrar, Straus and Giroux, March 2009 ADULTS: The Hole in Our Gospel: What Does God Expect of Us? The Answer That Changed My Life and Might Just Change the World; by Richard Stearns; Thomas Nelson, 2009
COMMON GROUND WITH YOUR KIDS IN SUNDAY SCHOOL If your church uses LifeWay’s Bible Teaching dor Kids curriculum, this month they are learning about Jesus. This week in particular, kindergartners are learning verses from Isaiah that predicted the birth of Jesus. As we talk about God’s plan to change the world through Christ, your kids are learning about what a special baby Jesus was. You can receive weekly suggestions for connecting with your kids in Sunday School with KISS (Kids in Sunday School) Connections, available at Parent2Parent.ning.com.
HOLIDAYS=FAMILY DAYS 1. 2. 3. 4.
Plan time for family. Serve someone who needs help as a family. Create family traditions. Talk while traveling—don’t just plug in a DVD!
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MAKING A DIFFERENCE
In addition to supporting your church’s missions offering (www.imb.org), pick one of the charities below you may not be familiar with. Find out what they are about, and consider donating to help those in need. Heifer International – www.heifer.org Sweet Sleep – www.sweetsleep.org Soles4Souls – www.soles4souls.org The Water Project – www.thewaterproject.org Last Letter – www.thelastletter.org
L I V E
A)0*6<&4#%%-?.*#% For Preschoolers Sing “Jesus Loves the Little Children.” Share how God loves everyone and has appointed each of us to share His love with those who are less fortunate. Sort through toys and clothes your children no longer play with or wear. Give these to a local charity.
For Children Talk to your child about the Salvation Army’s red kettle tradition around the holidays. Discuss why workers ring the bell. Find out how money collected is used in your own community and share with your child. Challenge your child to save her own money and drop it in a red kettle the next time she sees one. Remind your child that as she takes this action, she is helping those less fortunate and showing them God’s love.
For Students Look at the “Click It For Charities” Web sites with your teen. Challenge him to get a group of friends or the youth group to join or begin a cause to make a difference in their world. DECEMBER 5