Our teacher, Rev. Dr. Richard Boyce, will from time to time post lesson material here for the upcoming Sunday School lesson. Class members are encouraged to read the material and post comments.
This week we have another familiar passage (Zacchaeus), and another peculiar pick for the theme of discipleship. Maybe we don’t have to leave our home and nets to follow Jesus! Some questions to get us started.
Acting the Fool. In my experience we “rich” folk hold on to our respectability. We’re not known for outrageous behavior – at least in public. But here we have the story of an apparently “successful” tax-collector scrambling up a tree to see Jesus. What foolish things have we done to “catch a glance at Jesus”?
Home versus Foreign Missions. When I was little, I dreamed of being a missionary and/or explorer in far away lands. Nothing seemed as boring and unchallenging as “home.” As an adult (and reading the story of Zacchaeus), I have a different perspective. Where do you think it’s most difficult to bear witness to Jesus: away, or at home?
Money. Daggone it! It seems every time we look up, the Bible’s talking about money! Enough already. And yet, any conversion that doesn’t make a change in our guest lists, our vocations, and our check books, may not be a “Holy Spirit/Jesus” conversion. How has being a follower of Jesus changed your behavior – either last week or over the years?
Wow, that should get us started! Read the Scriptures, read your lesson, think, pray, and come prepared to share. Tall or short, new or life-long Christian, we’re all welcome at Jesus’ table! See you Sunday.
This is a familiar passage, but a peculiar passage for the theme of discipleship. What does the story of the prodigal son/father have to do with our call?
Calling as Leaving. How often do we try to get away from our calling? Why does the father let the younger son go?
Calling as Turning. How often do we return to our calling after trying other things? Why does the younger son go home?
Calling as Refusing. How often do we refuse our calling because of the others Christ has welcomed on the way? Why does the elder brother remain outside?
This is one of the best stories ever told. What is it saying to us today as disciples? See you Sunday – if you’re willing to “come home.”
Mark 1 and Luke 14
This week our lesson is entitled “A Costly Call.” Three questions to get us started.
Why Us? Have you ever wondered why God calls human beings? Couldn’t God work better on God’s own? How do you understand God’s covenant with us?
God’s Grace is Free, But Costly. Our lesson has some harsh language about “hating” fathers, mothers, and others. Doesn’t that break some basic commandments? Why would Jesus say such disturbing things to his disciples and to us?
Counting the Cost. Jesus tells two “parables” about counting the cost: one, a builder; the other, a king. What’s your experience of counting the cost of discipleship – before, during, and after God’s call?
That should get us started, if not finished! Hope to see you Sunday.
This week we come to our final lesson on “Our Love for God,” and deal with another psalm, under the heading “Love Songs that Glorify God.” The psalm is Psalm 91; a song of trust. Some questions.
Improper Use. The devil quotes this psalm in Luke 4 when he places Jesus on the pinnacle of the Temple. How and when does our trust in God’s protection become “putting God to the test (Luke 4:12)?”
Proper Use. The author contrasts trusting in God with “trusting in a particular outcome (p. 80).” In another place, he states: “Trusting in God does not mean trusting that everything will always go well. It means that, no matter what path we must walk, God always walks with us (p. 79).” How do you distinguish between proper and improper trust?
Israel and Jesus. Maybe it would be helpful to ask how God “protects” Israel and Jesus in the Bible. If God doesn’t protect Israel or Jesus from suffering, why should we expect anything different for us? And yet, as God does protect Israel and Jesus from utter destruction, should we not also expect the same for us? If so, what should we fear?
See you Sunday. Come with some stories of “deliverance” and “destruction,” and let’s see if we can discern the Lord’s presence in both! Let’s see how we might sing this “pilgrim song (p. 87)” together.
We finish out our study on “Our Love for God” with a unit on “Love Songs that Glorify God.” All three are from the Psalms. Get ready to sing!
Mount Zion. We all have our special places, especially when it comes to worship. Come prepared to share one of your special places, then let’s try to connect it with Mount Zion/Jerusalem. Why and how does this place serve as a template for all other places where God is present?
Steadfast Love. Mount Zion/Jerusalem have a permanence that reminds the psalmist of the permanence of God. Only they don’t! Even the mountains are not as everlasting as God’s love. What metaphors speak to you regarding the never-failing nature of God’s love?
That You May Tell the Next Generation. Many scholars think that this psalm may be post-exilic, and thus reflect the reality of Zion/Jerusalem’s destruction by the Babylonians. What past places of worship should we “walk around (verse 12)” in our minds, so that they might be remembered for generations to come?
Dare I say it? God’s love is even more dependable than the Johnston-Rhodes Bible Class! See you Sunday – Lord willing!
We move to our second lesson from Philippians on the theme of “Loving God by Trusting Christ.” At the heart of this passage is a “poem” that most scholars believe served as the text for an early Christian hymn. Jesus “goes low” in order to “lift us high.” Can we, with his help, do the same? Some questions.
The Song. Hymns may teach us more theology than sermons! Let’s look at the text of this early Christ hymn and compare it with some of our favorites. What do we learn about God’s love for us in these tunes?
Do Likewise. Paul references this hymn as a way of urging the Philippians to “let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus (verse 4).” How can we avoid “selfish ambition or conceit (verse 3)”; how can we “in humility regard others as better than ourselves (verse 3)”; how do we learn to “look not to our own interests, but to the interests of others (verse 4).” Again, Jesus “goes low” in order to “lift us high.” How do we follow where he leads?
JOY. The author proposes an acronym to help us on this way: “JOY: Jesus, Others, You (page 55).” What do you think? Would or could this get us closer to the “one mind” toward which Paul urges the Philippians?
Hymns have a way of getting into our hearts and bones. Let’s see if we can make such progress with this “old favorite.” Believe it or not, it predates all our hymns – even the ones in our red books! See you Sunday.
For the next three weeks, our unit on “Loving God by Trusting Christ” shifts to Philippians, Paul’s joyful letter from prison. How does one rejoice in prison? Apparently, by remaining steadfast in one’s trust in Christ, and one’s determination to spread the gospel. Paul argues that three situations that might lead us toward despair cause him to rejoice. We’ll go at them in order.
Persecution. Paul doesn’t regret the fact that he’s in prison (and, according to tradition, on his way to being beheaded!). If persecution leads to the spread of the gospel, Paul declares it’s a good thing. How do we apply this teaching to our own lives, and the lives of those being persecuted for the faith today?
True/False Motives. Apparently, some fellow evangelists have taken advantage of Paul’s imprisonment in order to promote themselves (references to “envy and rivalry,” and “selfish ambition,” verses 15 and 17). But if Christ is proclaimed, Paul asks, “What does it matter (verse 18)?” Wow! Whether motivated by love or ambition, spread of the gospel is a good thing, according to Paul. Again, how does this apply to our own lives, and those of other evangelists around us?
Life/Death. Perhaps most astounding of all, Paul seems to care little about whether he lives or dies. Indeed, if both his life and his death can lead to greater boldness in others’ witness, bring them on! “Living is Christ and dying is gain!” Paul declares (verse 21). Another, wow! How might such an attitude affect our living and our dying?
Rumbling beneath this entire lesson is the theme of “joy.” How can someone in Paul’s circumstances be so full of joy? Any answers? Any thoughts? Any testimonies? Hope to see you Sunday.