SCHOLARSHIP Deuteronomy 6:7
National African-American Fellowship (NAAF) Scholarships are awarded to one African American male and one African American female student annually based on church and community involvement, leadership potential, academic achievement, and potential for continuing academic success. Applicants must be graduating high school seniors who demonstrate a commitment to Christ, community, and personal excellence through their contributions to the world around them. Please visit the NAAF website at www.naafsbc.org for scholarship details and application. Notification of scholarship awards will be made annually by the NAAF Scholarship Board.
WINTER 2013-14 www.lifeway.com/you
YOU - CONNECT. GROW. SERVE. GO!
You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up.
Leader Guide Included
COMPASSION Showing you care
GOD IS ALL
Live the good life.
Let compassion live in your heart.
FOR THE SAKE OF THE CALL Live like the one you have become.
THE ABC’S OF SALVATION
LifeWay offers black and urban churches the best short-term Bible studies from Priscilla Shirer and Tony Evans
Some people think a personal relationship with God is something only theologians can comprehend. Actually, God’s plan of salvation is simple enough for everyone to understand. Here are the ABC’s of salvation. Admit Admit to God that you are a sinner. All persons need salvation. Each of us has a problem the Bible calls sin. Sin is a refusal to acknowledge God’s authority over our lives. Everyone who does not live a life of perfect obedience to the Lord is guilty of sin. “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). Since none of us is perfect, all of us are sinners (Romans 3:10-18). The result of sin is spiritual death (Romans 6:23). Spiritual death means eternal separation from God. By God’s perfect standard we are guilty of sin and therefore subject to the punishment for sin, which is separation from God. Admitting that you are a sinner and separated from God is the first step of repentance, which is turning from sin and self and turning toward God. Believe Believe in Jesus Christ as God’s Son and receive Jesus’ gift of forgiveness from sin. God loves each of us. God offers us salvation. Although we have done nothing to deserve His love and salvation, God wants to save us. In the death of Jesus on the cross, God provided salvation for all who would repent of their sins and believe in Jesus. “For God loved the world in this way: He gave His One and Only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). Confess Confess your faith in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord to others. After you have received Jesus Christ into your life, share your decision with another person. Tell your pastor or a Christian friend about your decision. Following Christ’s example, ask for baptism by immersion in your local church as a public expression of your faith. “If you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. One believes with the heart, resulting in righteousness, and one confesses with the mouth, resulting in salvation” (Romans 10:9-10).
SEED Pack 1
PRISC IL L A SHIRER
forgotten 0 1 enough 02 control 03
You r wea kn es s . G od ’s STR EN GTH .
ISBN: 978-141-586-689-4 Victory in Spiritual Warfare field guide for Battle
It’s Not too Late How God Uses Less Than Perfect People
toNY eVaNs ISBN: 978-141-587-195-9
For information or to order these Bible studies for your church please visit www.lifeway.com or contact us at 1.800.458.2772
Staying Fit … Spiritually
We talk a lot about the importance of staying physically fit, but what about the health of your spirit? Connect, Grow, Serve, Go is a call to evaluate your present spiritual condition and discover ways to improve your spiritual health. Packed into each biblical concept—Connect, Grow, Serve, Go—is a simple way you can move forward, not remain stagnant. Best of all, these tools will stand the test of time—no “fad” diets here. They will help you become spiritually healthy, and stay that way.
WITH AN OPEN HEART MARK 12:29-31
you to worship, pray, fellowship, and relate to others in positive relationships at work, at home, and in other settings. Spiritual fitness results when you connect with God, with others, and with your church family.
IN BODY, MIND, & SPIRIT ROMANS 12:2
refers to learning and understanding more about God and His expectations of His people, which comes through Bible study. You grow by applying that knowledge to your everyday living.
WITH WILLING HANDS 1 PETER 4:10-11
describes the work you do inside your church. Your church is full of ministry and service opportunities. You serve by using your spiritual gifts, skills, and passions to glorify God. All of us must work together for the church to function as God intended.
With Ready Feet MATTHEW 28:19-20
moves you outside the church and into the community and the world. Evangelism and missions are ways to go into your community and the world in the name of Jesus Christ. It might be uncomfortable at first, but you will experience firsthand the difference Christ can make through you.
Connect, Grow, Serve, Go must impact YOU, the individual, before it can permeate your circle of friends, your Bible study group, and then the church as a whole. But balance is the key! We must be actively participating in all four areas if we want to be spiritually healthy. All Go and no Connect with God or other believers results in powerless activity and wears you out. A steady diet of Grow without the action of Serve or Go leads to unhealthy spiritual obesity and laziness. We need a balanced spiritual diet to remain fit and able to serve God in the ways He has gifted us. The YOU lessons will help you Connect , Grow , Serve , and Go issue. They will help you check and maintain your spiritual health.
. Look for these icons throughout this
Visit www.lifeway.com/adultstrategy for more about Connect, Grow, Serve, Go. YOU 3
Winter 2013-2014 VOLUME 6, NUMBER 2
IN EVERY ISSUE 2 3 6 7
How to Become a Christian Staying Fit Spiritually A Word from the Editor Suggested Resources
8 51 99 101
Church Success Stories This Is My Story Scripture Memory Cards How to Use Leader Pages
160 Glossary of Key Words 162 M eet the Writers/Coming Next Quarter
What is your spiritual vocation?
Unlikely pastor starts church for the broken
mountains and molehills
122 140 154
by Sandy Smith
by Tobin Perry
by James MacDonald
How to have a meaningful conversation by Stephanie Hughes
Do what matters by Phil Cooke
INTEGRITY: THE BIG DEAL ABOUT LITTLE STUFF by Bob Bunn
WHAT MATTERS by Phil Cooke
Samuel Morse was frustrated. He had given his life to be a painter—even traveled to Paris in pursuit of that dream. As historian David McCullough recounts in The Greater Journey (Simon & Schuster), painting had been Morse’s dream since college, and he had set his heart on that and that alone. But after a long series of setbacks, Morse finally abandoned it. The crushing moment was his losing the appointment to paint a historic mural at the Capitol in Washington. With that loss, he gave up painting entirely and began to focus on something new: inventing the telegraph and eventually a language called Morse code, which literally changed the world. To accomplish such a success with the telegraph, Morse first came to terms with one fact: He had hit a wall. He had failed, and he needed to make a serious change. Sad but true, many people prefer to live in denial rather than face the truth that could set them free to discover their true God-given destiny. What about you? You may not consider yourself a failure, but the question is: Have you really achieved what God put you on Earth to accomplish? Everywhere I travel, men and women in their 50s, 60s, and even 70s tell me, “Phil, I’ve worked hard all my life, but I honestly don’t know if I’ve actually accomplished what I was put here to do.” That deep frustration and sadness drive me to help people discover how they are wired and what God put them on Earth to accomplish. Are you looking for those answers in your own life? Start by prayerfully asking yourself these four questions:
1. What comes easy to me? Think about your life. How many times were you asked to do something because you were the organized one, the athletic one, the good writer, or the most patient? Looking back, think about the moments when you naturally gravitated toward a particular task at church or at the office. Perhaps you’ve built a reputation as the person who finds this or that task or challenge easier than anyone else. Far too often, we simply brush aside the thing we naturally do well when it could be a critical key to personal calling. For most people, the One Big Thing, as I like to call it, is an ability, a skill, a God-given capacity to handle something other people find challenging. Something bigger than a single job that could apply to many fields, such as the uncanny ability to sense when others are hurting or the knack for motivating people in difficult circumstances. Don’t guess, and don’t make a snap judgment. Take your time, and really think about your One Big Thing.
UNIT 1 GOD IS ALL 11 God Is Good!
31 God Most High
17 God Knows It All
37 God Is Great!
Psalm 25:4-5,7b-10,12-13 Leader Pages (pp. 102-105)
Isaiah 40:13-14,27-31 Leader Pages (pp. 106-109)
Luke 1:26-35 Leader Pages (pp. 114-117)
Psalm 68:4-6,32-35 Leader Pages (pp. 118-121)
23 God Is Always with Me
Psalm 73:12-13,21-28 Leader Pages (pp. 110-113)
UNIT 2 RISKY BUSINESS 45 Compassion for the Hungry Matthew 15:32-38 Leader Pages (pp. 124-127)
Compassion for the Anguished Luke 7:11-17 Leader Pages (pp. 128-131)
Compassion for the Untouchables Mark 1:40-45 Leader Pages (pp. 132-135)
65 Put Yourself Out There!
Luke 10:29-37 Leader Pages (pp. 136-139)
UNIT 3 FOR THE SAKE OF THE CALL 73 Worthy of the Calling 87 Challenges to My Calling Ephesians 4:1-6; 5:1,3 Leader Pages (pp. 142-145)
79 Living Out My Calling
Ephesians 4:25-32 Leader Pages (pp. 146-149)
Ephesians 5:6-14 Leader Pages (pp. 150-153)
93 Guarding My Calling
Ephesians 5:15-21 Leader Pages (pp. 156-159)
DAILY READINGS are included after each lesson.
Winter 2013-2014 | Vol. 6 No. 2
PRODUCTION AND MINISTRY TEAM BEVERLY SONNIER Content Editor Nicole Childress Graphic Designer LYNN PRYOR Editorial Team Leader david apple, ALAN RAUGHTON Adult Ministry Specialists Special Thanks to CHANDRA BENNETT Special Thanks to JUDI HAYES Contract Production Editor Special Thanks to LARRY DRY Contract Production Editor MANAGEMENT PERSONNEL ERIC GEIGER Vice President, Church Resources Faith Whatley Director, Adult Ministry PHILIP NATION Director, Adult Ministry Publishing Ken Braddy, Debbie Johnson, AMY LOWE Managers, Adult Ministry Publishing DAVID FRANCIS Director, Sunday School Send questions/comments to: Editor, YOU One LifeWay Plaza Nashville, TN 37234-0175 Or make comments on the Web at: www.lifeway.com/ YOU or YOU@lifeway.com Printed in the United States of America
From THE EDITOR... As another very rewarding year draws to an end, I find myself doing some serious self-reflection. And it hit me—I’ve received more compassion and love than I ever deserved. I hope I’m returning the favor! Let’s face it, some folks are easier to love than others. I know this simple “truth” should in no way diminish our responsibility and commitment to love our brothers as ourselves. But again, it’s difficult sometimes. I’m preparing for an upcoming mission trip to Honduras. In the midst of working through last-minute details, I’m being constantly reminded of a few more “simple truths” prominent in the Gospels: the charge Jesus gave all of His followers to make disciples of all nations by going to them, baptizing and teaching them to obey His commands (the Great Commission); His command for each of us to love God and our neighbors (the Great Commandments); and for believers to imitate Jesus in our care and concern for others (the Great Compassion). As always, I pray that you too will be stretched and strengthened by this quarter’s lessons on the attributes of God, compassion, and Christian conduct as much as I have! Peace and blessings,
YOU (ISSN 1943-6230, Item 005030553) is published quarterly by LifeWay Christian Resources, One LifeWay Plaza, Nashville, TN 37234, Thom S. Rainer, President. © 2013 LifeWay Christian Resources. 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 firstname.lastname@example.org, 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. To review LifeWay’s doctrinal guideline, please visit www.lifeway.com/doctrinalguideline.
Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holman Christian Standard Bible® Copyright © 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2009 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission. Holman Christian Standard Bible®, Holman CSB®, and HCSB® are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers. CEV—Scripture taken from the Contemporary English Version. Copyright © 1991, 1992, 1995 by American Bible Society. Used by permission. ESV—Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved. KJV—King James Version. Message—The Message by Eugene H. Peterson, copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002. Used by permission of NavPress Publishing Group. All rights reserved. NASB— Scripture taken from the New American Standard Bible®, Copyright ˙© 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission (www.lockman.org). NIV—The Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. NKJV— From the New King James Version. Copyright © 1979, 1980, 1982, Thomas Nelson, Inc., Publishers. NLT—Scripture quotations marked (NLT) are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, IL 60189 USA. All rights reserved. Suggestions for pronouncing Bible names are from That’s Easy for You to Say: Your Quick Guide to Pronouncing Bible Names, by W. Murray Severance, copyright © 1997 by Broadman & Holman Publishers. Used by permission. NOTE: Some 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.
Suggested Disciple-making Resources Here’s a list of resources you can use to deepen your understanding of the units of study this quarter. These resources complement the lessons for this quarter and can be used for small-group study, midweek study, or personal Bible study. GRIPPED BY THE GREATNESS OF GOD (FOR UNIT 1) Gripped by the Greatness of God by James McDonald is an eight-week Bible study that uses selected passages from Isaiah and seeks to reveal the sovereignty, holiness, grace, and glory of God. Awed by His greatness, as participants come to recognize each of the matchless attributes that characterize God, they will also be led, naturally, to a renewed heart of worship.
THIS CHANGES EVERYTHING: LESSONS FROM JAMES (FOR UNIT 2) This Changes Everything: Lessons from James by Ben Stuart is an eight-session study for young adults that unpacks the Book of James. The world desperately needs Christians whose actions match their convictions. A young generation is rising up, and they need to see the power of the gospel working its way out into their everyday lives. James will call us to evaluate the way we deal with hardship, handle money, use our words, and plan our futures. But if we will let him in, James’s letter has the potential for our outside to match our inside, our activity to match our God-given identity.
CALLED AND ACCOUNTABLE: DISCOVERING YOUR PLACE IN GOD’S ETERNAL PURPOSE (10TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION) (FOR UNIT 3) This anniversary edition of Called and Accountable: Discovering Your Place in God’s Eternal Purpose by Henry T. Blackaby and Norman Blackaby contains fresh perspectives bookended by all-new personal testimonies that illustrate God’s calling and accountability for all who experience Him. Through this six-week study, the Blackabys help ordinary individuals experience the reality that God is still calling them today just as He did in the Bible, to accomplish His eternal purposes.
Visit www.lifeway.com or call 1-800-458-2772 for more information or to purchase any of these products.
Church Success Stories Sister Tina Curtis, teacher, and Dr. Jeffrey Curtis, pastor of Christian education “The Couples” GIGG Sunday School Class, Greater Grace Temple Community Church, Nashville, Tennessee Our class is growing spiritually mature and reaching others for the kingdom! Our pastor of Christian education asked me to teach “The Couples” (G.I.G.G.—Growing In Grace Groups) class temporarily. I had never taught Sunday School before; however, the YOU lesson plans are so user-friendly that I was immediately able to effectively share and lead in discussing God’s truths. YOU also continues to help me become closer to Jesus Christ. The suggested object lessons are a weekly hit with the class! The adult learners are anxious to see what Greater Grace Temple Community Church I bring to class. Each Nashville, Tennessee object lesson is a visual aide to enhance learning and to help generate interest in the biblical concept being studied. The articles and commentary provided help contextualize the lessons. The class also appreciates the relevant life application provided in each lesson. They relate to and apply it in their daily living. I’ve heard comments from the adult learners such as: “I want to learn more of God’s Word, and the YOU Sunday School curriculum helps me do just that.” “My spouse and I are becoming closer through the relevant Scriptures and lessons.” “I hold on to the YOU books for further study and also share them with others.” This six-month temporary assignment has been an unexpected joy and blessing to my soul. I know that this has been in no small part due to a great resource—YOU!
We’d love to hear how your church or small group navigated the challenges of switching to YOU, the blessings and benefits your church or small group experienced since switching to YOU, and why you would encourage other churches or small groups to give YOU a try. Please limit your response to 100 words or less. Feel free to provide a photo (jpeg) of a class or group using YOU. Send responses to: firstname.lastname@example.org. YO UU 88 YO
“You can see God from anywhere if your mind is set to love and obey Him.” A. W. Tozer
Unit 1 God Is All
A Bible Study on the Attributes of God In this unit—God is All—we’ll try to wrap our minds around some of the key attributes of Almighty God: • Goodness and Faithful Love—“God is Good!” • Omniscience—“God Knows it All” • Omnipresence—“God Is Always Closer than a Whisper” • God with Us—“God Most High” • Omnipotence—“God Rocks the Universe!” In the process, we’ll work through five very practical questions: 10 Y O U
• How can I find the good life? • Is God missing this? (Has He forgotten me?) • What makes me lose sight of God’s presence? • What can God do for me and through me? • What should be my response to all-powerful God? Through our Bible study in this unit, let’s get to know the real God who created you and longs to be closer to you!
The leader pages for this lesson are found on pages 102-105.
Unit 1, lesson 1
God Is Good!
Background Passage: Psalm 25:1-13 Lesson Passages: Psalm 25:4-5,7b-10,12-13 The Question: How can I find the good life? The Point: You will find the good life when you choose the Lord and follow His ways.
PSALM 25:4-5,7B-10,12-13 a God of my salvation: The
4 Make Your ways known to me, Lord; teach me Your paths. 5 Guide me in Your truth and teach me, for You are the a God of my salvation; I wait for You all day long. ............ ... remember me because of Your goodness, Lord. The Lord is good and upright; therefore He shows sinners the way. 9 He leads ✱ the humble in what is right and teaches them His way. 10 All the ✱ Lord ’s ways show b faithful love and truth to those who keep His covenant and decrees.
............ 12 Who is the man who ✱ fears the Lord? He will show him the way he should choose. 13 He will live a c good life, and his descendants will inherit the land.
theme of salvation—rescue and redemption—is strong in the psalms, appearing 50 times. Psalms 18:46; 25:5; 27:9; 51:14; and 88:1 use this exact phrase.
b Faithful love: God’s “faithful
love” is the totally committed loyalty that will not leave His people. This steady, persistent refusal of God to wash His hands of wayward Israel is the essential meaning of the Hebrew word chesed.
c Good life: God gives the “good
life” to those who are humble and fear Him. The good life intimately connects us with Jesus—the Way, the Truth, and the Life—in a life of significance and meaning.
For more information about key words (✱), visit the glossary on pages 160-161.
Memory Verse. Psalm 25:12-13
Who is the man who fears the Lord? He will show him the way he should choose. He will live a good life, and his descendants will inherit the land.
Y OU 11
God Is Good!
How can I find the good life?
UNIT 1 LESSON 1
We know there’s more to life than getting by, but how do we find the good life? Through our faith and choices! Viktor Frankl illustrates: “We who lived in concentration camps can remember the men who walked through the huts comforting others, giving away their last piece of bread. They may have been few in number, but they offer sufficient proof that everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”
Focal Passage Outline He saves us (Ps. 25:4-5,7b) He Shows us His faithful love and truth (Ps. 25:8-10) He GiveS Us the good life (Ps. 25:12-13)
He SAVEs us Psalm 25:4-5,7b Throughout the Psalms, God’s people are challenged to make wise choices. It’s easy to get discouraged when life circumstances beat us down, but as we choose to follow God’s path, He will deliver us. We’re not sure what was going on when King David wrote Psalm 25, but we know he was facing painful, dark days. Read these verses and note the kinds of difficulties David was facing during this time in his life: Psalm 25:2-3,15-16, and 19.
From the first words of this psalm, David cries out in utter dependence on God. He felt isolated and discouraged as enemies closed in, plotting to take him down. Read Psalm 25:4-5,7b. What do you think David means when he refers to a God of my salvation (v. 5)? (See also Key Words, p. 11.)
12 Y O U
God Is Good!
David had learned throughout his early years that God could always be trusted, no matter how things were going. More than anything, David trusted God because of His goodness and faithful love, which existed before the dawn of time.
Think back to times in your life when God personally showed you His goodness and faithful love. Jot down your memories. How does Jesus’ sacrifice and the Holy Spirit’s living in us demonstrate God’s goodness and faithful love?
The Humble David’s faith was not trite religious faith; it was gut-level faith that carried him even when he felt alone, abandoned, trapped, stressed out, and discouraged. He knew from the Scriptures and his past experiences that God never missed what was happening, had supreme power to work, was always good, and passionately loved him. When have you observed people struggling with holding onto faith in God? With which do you personally struggle more—God’s awareness, His power, His goodness, or His personal love for you?
David was rescued from his ordeal because He sought out God and cried to Him for help. He pleaded with God to teach him and give him direction. David was willing to wait all day long or longer to hear from God (v. 5). While trusting God fully, David also knew he had to do his part—God’s way. Psalm 46:1 declares, “God is our refuge and strength, a helper who is always found in times of trouble.”
He shows us His faithful love and truth
Lamentations 3:22 emphasizes how God’s faithful love and mercies never fail and never come to an end. The Lord never does anything that is not in keeping with His personal character. Read Psalm 25:8-10.
James 4:9-17 reveals five qualities of a humble person. • Submits to the will of God in every motivation and action. Why is this the key to humility (v. 7)? • Repents of sin and mourns disobedience. How can a broken heart lead to the good life (vv. 8-9)? • Checks a critical spirit. What’s the danger of judging others’ motives and actions (vv. 11-12)? • Refuses to boast in arrogance. How can we remain humble and still be confident (vv. 13-16)? • Recognizes personal sinfulness. What can happen when we fail to see our own sinfulness (v. 17)?
As you read verses 8-10, which characteristics are used to describe God?
Y OU 13
God Is Good!
Did you know? The terms for inheritance occur more than 200 times, most frequently in Numbers, Deuteronomy, Joshua, and Psalms (e.g. Ps. 25:13). While Jewish inheritance laws were specific and complete, almost all references to inheritance in the Old Testament are theological, not legal. • The inheritance of land and abundant heirs is the focus of God’s covenant with Abraham (see Gen. 15). Due to its value, many wars are fought over land. • Psalm 105:7-11 extends inheriting the land into “an everlasting covenant” established by God. Read Acts 20:32 and Colossians 3:24 about the everlasting inheritance for God’s children.
Verses 9-10 identify two essential traits for people who will receive God’s direction and follow His paths: they must be ✱ humble as well as keepers of God’s covenant and decrees. These people alone will be open to hear and follow God to discover the real life He offers. What does it mean to be humble? To keep God’s covenant and decrees? (See Key Words, p. 11 and Diggin’ Deeper, p. 13.) How can we live out these traits?
David sought God with passion and resolve. He waited through many difficult days and sometimes months before He saw God move on his behalf. In His perfect timing, God gave direction and raised him to victory over the evil in his life. Even when we think God has forgotten us, He is always working out His plan behind the scenes. Romans 8:28 promises: “All things work together for the good of those who love God: those who are called according to His purpose.” In what ways does God show b faithful love and truth in verses 8-10? (Hint: Look for the verbs or action words.)
We don’t have to be in a desperate situation or dark place to connect with God. As we walk in humility and seek to follow God’s personal path for us, His Spirit in us will teach us, lead us, and point the way to a c good life. He has a strategic plan for each and every one of us—a plan based on His b fear and truth.
He gives Us the good life Psalm 25:12-13 It’s not enough merely to survive when we were created to thrive. God wants so much more for us! He wants to give us real life in abundance! Because He is good, an amazing benefit of following God’s ways is that we are blessed with a c good life. How would you describe a “good life”? What would you say life is really about? How do you think God describes a “good life”? (Refer to Key Words on p. 11.)
14 Y O U
God Is Good!
Read Psalm 25:12-13. According to these verses, the good life starts with fearing the Lord. Notice how David could ✱ fear the Lord and yet relate to Him with total trust in a very personal way. How do you make sense of God fearers living in difficult circumstances and ungodly people living “the good life” in luxury?
Logic and the Scriptures make clear this life is like a vapor, shortlived and then gone. Certainly God gives His children good gifts now, but His focus is the eternal life to come. We must be careful to avoid two distorted, human perspectives: (1) assuming God’s blessings and the c good life refer to money and the material things we can buy in this life; and (2) trying to judge God’s goodness based on how well our circumstances are going. God is good all the time, and He’s working for your good now and, more importantly, in the endless life to come. What is “good” about your life right now? Thank God for it.
We all want the good life. The only way to get it is to trust God’s goodness and choose to follow Him even when the road is treacherous. Start with fearing the Lord. The fear of the Lord involves acting consistently with God’s character and with His commands. It means we must forsake deception, and we must speak truthfully. It means we must cease pursuing evil and pursue peace instead. The fear of the Lord not only involves doctrine; it implements it. Choose to believe the truth about God’s goodness. Have courage to humble yourself, seek His face, lay everything out with Him, and follow what He reveals to you.
SO WHAT? How does this apply to me? There’s a popular church phrase we say and even sing regularly: God is good ALL THE TIME; All the time GOD IS GOOD. It sounds great, and it’s absolutely true, but it can be tough to trust God’s goodness and loving intentions when things aren’t going well. • A re you living real life—thriving—or just surviving? How are you doing at staying on God’s path? • In what ways are you allowing your circumstances to mess up your view of God’s goodness and faithful love for you? •W hat struggle are you facing? How are you trying to fix things instead of waiting for God’s direction?
Y OU 15
1. God’s Open Hand Psalm 145:8-19 We teach children to recite the blessing, “God is great. God is good….” If God were only great without being good, His hands would be a frightening thing. In Psalm 145, David shows us God’s goodness: He’s gracious and compassionate, slow to anger, overflowing in faithful love, and good to everyone.
Lord, You are near to all who call out to You. Hear my cry. Please take my hand and pull me up.
2. Our Good Shepherd John 10:7-15 In Jesus’ day a sheep pen where the flock slept at night had an opening but no door. The shepherd would lie down at the opening to protect the sheep from wolves and other dangers. Only Jesus is the Good Shepherd. He alone has totally pure, unselfish motives. Only the Good Shepherd would give His life for His sheep.
Jesus, I cannot imagine how You can be totally good. I’m so grateful I am Yours and You are mine.
Daily Readings 3. Our Mind-Blowing God
4. Why Do I Doubt You?
The psalmist’s “Hallelujah” is not “Oh yeah, praise be to God.” It’s a “Wow God! You blow my mind!” Astronomers estimate about 100 thousand million stars in our Milky Way galaxy alone. And there are millions upon millions of other galaxies! God has each one numbered and named—Wow!
As the apostle Paul is explaining about the incredible mercy of God, he breaks into spontaneous praise at the end of Romans 11. Why do we sometimes question God or wonder if He really has things under control? No one can counsel the One with infinite intelligence, and wisdom. Everything is because of God and for God.
God, Your intelligence and understanding leave me in awe. Thank You for caring about me.
Glorious Father, forgive me for my doubts. Thanks for reminding me of Your infinite wisdom and care!
16 Y O U
BEFORE YOU TEACH
FOR UNIT 1, LESSON 1 (pp. 11–15)
Step 1 A Warm welcome.
This is the beginning of your winter quarter. Greet each person as they arrive with a warm, friendly welcome. Pay special attention to visitors and guests. Be sure to prepare warm drinks, water, baked goods, and fruit to serve your class. There’s nothing like a little food to kick off a new quarter.
Step 2 Develop class leaders.
Involve others in small leadership roles within the group. Ask someone in your group who has the gift of hospitality to take the lead on providing refreshments and welcoming people each week. If your group is too large for everyone to participate well, you can develop discussion facilitators for small-group breakout times. Leaders need to develop other leaders.
Step 3 Prepare yourself to lead the session.
Be well-prepared. Look at the overall unit plan. This teaching plan gives you the outline and flow for the group session. Spend time with this material plus the learner content and questions (pp. 11-15). Make it your own to best serve the needs of your group. Highlight ahead of time key questions and comments that you definitely don’t want your group to miss.
Step 4 Attitude is Contagious.
It’s been wisely said that attitude is contagious. The question is, Do people want to catch what you’ve got? It might be a little tough for people in your group to believe God is good if you say it like you’re trying to convince yourself. This session emphasizes our attitude toward God. You need to believe it before your learners will.
Welcome everyone to the new quarter and this unit, God Is All—a five-week study on the attributes of God. Refer to last week’s Live It! (Fall 2013, p. 97). Say: You were challenged to reflect on personal loss and respond to the question, How does Jesus’ hope change my view on these situations? Allow learners to share responses. Transition into today’s study by reading the unit overview (p. 10).
YOU Object Lesson Emergency Vehicle
What’s your reaction to the lights and sirens on emergency vehicles? (No, not the reaction when those lights and siren just pulled you over for speeding.) Of course we get concerned about people who are hurt, but we can be grateful too that help is on the way. Psalm 121 highlights the driver of our emergency vehicle in all of life: “Where will my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth” (vv. 1-2). Each time you see emergency lights or hear a siren, remember that no matter how tough life gets, your Rescuer knows and He is here for you!
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GOD IS GOOD (TEACHING PLAN)
FOR UNIT 1, LESSON 1 (pp. 11–15)
Introduction This week we’re focusing on God’s attribute of goodness. One of the first prayers we learn as children is “God is great; God is good. Let’s us thank Him for our food.” We will discuss the question, How can I find the good life? We work hard to get through school, hold down a job, work a second job, make a home or family, make friends and connections … looking for the good life. But how do we find it? Ask a volunteer to read aloud the Lesson 1 introduction (p. 12). Ask for comments on Frankl’s quote from people in your group. Then read aloud this quote from Chuck Swindoll and discuss group members’ reactions: “We cannot change our past. We cannot change the fact that people act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude.”
Dig into the Text He SAVes us Psalm 25:4-5,7b • Read aloud the session introduction. Ask: How do
you feel about the popular phrase and chorus, “God is good all the time; all the time God is good”?
• Invite a volunteer to read Psalm 25:4-5,7b. Provide learners with historical background related to David and Psalm 25 from the Leader Commentary (p. 105). Review the various difficulties and struggles David was facing in verses 2-3,15-16, and 19. Enlist a volunteer to read the two paragraphs under the heading He Saves Us (p. 12) beginning with the
words, “Throughout the Psalms” and “From the first words.” • Lead learners in discussing question 2 under the heading He Rescues Us (p. 12), which asks, “What do you think David means when he refers to ‘God of my salvation’ (v. 5)?” (See Key Words, p. 11.) • Highlight the way Jesus’ sacrifice and the Holy Spirit’s living in us demonstrate both God’s goodness and His faithful love toward each of us.
He Shows us His faithful love and truth Psalm 25:8-10 • Ask learners to meditate on Lamentations 3:22 (display it on a whiteboard or poster). Invite volunteers to share what this verse speaks to them about God. Then read aloud Psalm 25:8-10. Ask learners to identify characteristics used to describe God (write these on a whiteboard or poster). • Invite a volunteer to read the second paragraph in
the section He Shows Us His Faithful Love and Truth (p. 14), beginning with “Verses 9-10.” Then ask the first question, “What does it mean to be humble? To keep God’s covenant and decrees? How can we live out these traits?” (Share insights from Key Words, p. 11 and Diggin’ Deeper, p. 13.) Ask another volunteer to read the fourth paragraph in the section He Shows Us His Faithful Love and Truth (p. 14). l e a de r pa ge s | Y OU 1 0 3
GOD IS GOOD (Teaching Plan) FOR UNIT 1, LESSON 1 (pp. 11–15)
HE SHOWS US HIS FAITHFUL LOVE AND TRUTH (CONT.) • Say: Share a time in your life when you needed to hear from God. How long did it take for God to come
through? How difficult was it to wait for His timing? Was the outcome what you expected? Discuss.
HE GIVES US THE GOOD LIFE PSALM 25:12-14 • Ask a volunteer to read aloud verses 12-14. Invite another volunteer to read the first paragraph in the section He Gives Us the Good Life (p. 14), beginning with “It’s not enough.” Discuss the difference between our description of “the good life” and God’s? • Ask: How would you describe “fearing the Lord” the way God intends it? How can we be God’s children
and friends and still “fear” Him? Refer to Key Words and the leader commentary. • Read the description of key word b faithful love on page 11. Discuss question 2 (p. 15), which reads: “How do you make sense of God-fearers living in difficult circumstances and ungodly people living ‘the good life’ in luxury?”
so what? how does this apply to me? We know God is good, but He just doesn’t pop out to grant my wishes like the genie in the lamp. So if God is good and faithful and an ever-present help, then we must circle back around to our faith and our attitude, especially during difficult times.
• In what area do you need to hear from God? How can this group pray for you in hearing God’s “secret counsel”?
• What struggle are you facing? How are you trying to fix things instead of waiting for God’s direction?
• What is real life to you? Where are you living right now?
Close the Session This lesson gives application to the study on the attributes of God and challenges learners to acknowledge that God saves us, shows us His faithful love and truth, and gives us the good life we seek. Lead learners in memorizing the memory verse for this lesson, Psalm 25:12-13. (A memory card can be cut out on page 99.) We can experience the good life. You will only find it when you choose the Lord and follow His ways. You must turn to God and seek His face. He’s there just waiting for you to turn to Him in faith. Pray, thanking God for the opportunity to experience His goodness, grace, and mercy. 104 Y O U | L e a d e r Pag es
UNIT 1, LESSON 1 (pp. 11–15)
God Is Good!
Lesson Passages: Psalm 25:4-5,7b, 8-10,12-13 The Question: How can I find the good life? The Point: You will find the good life when you choose the Lord and follow His ways. This commentary is designed to help you think about the question, “How can I find the good life?” and drive home this one truth: You will find the good life when you choose the Lord and follow His ways. FOCUS ON THESE POINTS He Saves Us (Ps. 25:4-5,7b) Psalm 25 records David’s heartfelt cry to God for guidance and deliverance. It also emphasizes his dependence on God. We are not sure what was going on when King David wrote Psalm 25. We do know that he struggled with the issue of self-sufficiency and that it was a time of darkness in his life: He was attacked by enemies (vv. 2-3,19), entrapped in a trial (v. 15), isolated from supporters (v. 16), discouraged of heart (v. 17), and hated by foes (v. 19). In his hour of desperation, he needed to be restored according to the Lord’s perfect will. David asked for divine guidance to lead him to know God’s will. He wanted to follow God’s perfect path. David asked for general directions into the Lord’s will. His prayer, “Make Your ways known to me, Lord; teach me Your paths,” expressed his desire for God’s will to be revealed to him so he could pursue and travel it. The “paths” are similar to “ways” in verse 10 and are connected not only to God’s truth but also to His faithful love. “Guide” and “teach” are essentially synonymous in this context, and they refer to Yahweh’s directing those who are faithful to Him. His truth is the guide for their lives (43:3). David asked God to guide his life “all day long” (v. 5). He was aware of his sinful nature (v. 18) and knew that only God could deliver him from his enemies according to His ways and David’s ability to follow His paths. David was rescued because he sought out God with passion and resolve. While trusting God fully, David also knew he had to do his part—God’s way. Psalm 46:1 declares, “God is our refuge and strength, a helper who is always found in times of trouble.”
He Shows Us His Faithful Love and Truth (Ps. 25:8-10) In His perfect timing God gave David direction and raised him to victory over the evil in his life. Even when we think God has forgotten us, He is always working out His plan behind the scenes. Romans 8:28 promises: “All things work together for the good of those who love God: those who are called according to His purpose.” God is a constant shelter and refuge for the believer who reveres Him. The Lord never does anything that is not in keeping with His personal character. In verses 8-10, David turns his attention to God’s greatness. “Way” and “ways” are probably not the way of life or conduct of God’s people in this instance, as these terms are commonly used elsewhere (Ps. 143:8; Deut. 5:33, ESV, KJV). They represent Yahweh’s instruction of His people in the truth. In this sense the Lord’s ways are equivalent to His covenant and decrees. God often used the word “covenant” (v. 10) to describe His relationship with Israel, His chosen people. Yet unlike a covenant between people involving a mutual agreement, the covenant between God and His people was a unilateral covenant, or an agreement based on the faithfulness of God alone. This covenant was initiated and instituted by God alone to protect and preserve His chosen ones. God’s Spirit in us will teach us, lead us, and point us to the way of truth. He Gives Us the Good Life (Ps. 25:12-13) David asks the question, “Who is the man who fears the Lord?” (v. 12). The person whom God will instruct in His way is the one who fears the Lord (Ps. 111:10; Prov. 1:7). This is the way that is chosen by God Himself. Such holy reverence for God leads to prosperity that would continue to David’s descendants. The promise of inheriting the land is closely tied with those who are faithful to God. The promise of the land was never a “blank check” for Israel, but it could be realized only when the people were faithful (Deut. 4:1,28-30). God will indeed instruct and bless His people.
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