Month: June 2017

Lesson 5: July 2, 2017

Moses and the Burning Bush: Exodus 3


Teaching Strategy: Ask participants to list injustices they are aware of in the world today and discuss appropriate and inappropriate ways to confront such injustices. How can believers – individually and in collaboration with others – confront injustice in ways that honor what they know of God’s character, purpose, and presence?

 

Exodus 3 begins with God’s appearance to Moses in a burning bush. Several aspects of the story are noteworthy. God speaks to ordinary people in extraordinary ways. Such moments and places are holy. God hears the cry of the oppressed; God has compassion for those who are treated unjustly. God responds to the misery of the Israelites by sending a human deliverer. God’s message to Moses is a call to action – a call to deliver God’s people from the Egyptians.  “Then the Lord said, ‘I have observed the misery of my people who are in Egypt; I have heard their cry on account of their taskmasters. Indeed, I know their sufferings, and I have come down to deliver them from the Egyptians, and to bring them up out of that land to a good and broad land, a land flowing with milk and honey’” (v. 7-8a).

Moses doubted his ability to do as God asked, but God assured Moses by revealing the divine name, and promising to work with Moses to accomplish God’s purposes. Justice comes when humans become partners with God in the work of redemption.

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Summer 2017 Theme: God’s Urgent Call

Unifying Principle: People get accustomed to living with the injustices that prevail in society. What does it take to address injustice? God called Moses to address injustice and empowered him with the knowledge of God’s identity, purpose, and presence.

Lesson 4: June 25, 2017

Samson’s Call:    Judges 13: 1-7, 24-25

Teaching Strategy: Invite participants to share how, in hindsight, they have perceived God at work in their lives, preparing them for and leading them into their current leadership roles. Invite them also to discuss how they perceive God working through the lives of others in today’s world.

 

The story of Samson in Judges 13 is an example of a birth announcement like others found in Scripture. An angel of God appeared to the wife of Manoah (who had been barren) to tell her that she would bear a son. He would be a lifelong “nazirite,” a designation that imposed certain restrictions upon him, such as not cutting his hair and not drinking wine or alcohol. He was named Samson and the Lord blessed him. The stories about Samson that follow in chapters 13-16 describe a character who is not what one would expect of someone called to deliver Israel (13:5).

People want to believe that their lives have purpose and meaning. Believers have faith that God is present in their lives even before birth. They believe God uses life experiences to prepare them to fulfill God’s divine purposes. Many believers make vows to God and devote themselves to disciplined living, whether by practicing specific spiritual disciplines or regulating specific behaviors.

The story of Samson invites participants to reflect on many aspects of God’s call to us today: its origin even before birth, the demands it makes upon us to live in certain ways, the way its purpose(s) may be hidden in the present and visible only in hindsight, and/or its unpredictability – God often uses those we would least expect. It also invites reflection on where in today’s world God is working to deliver God’s people and God’s creation.


Summer 2017 Theme: God’s Urgent Call

Unifying Principle: Preparation for leadership may involve life circumstances not of one’s own choosing. How do we respond when we find ourselves in such circumstances? Even before birth, Samson’s call was assured as shown by the instructions the Lord’s angel gave to his mother.

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Lesson 3: June 18, 2017

Jephthah Answers the Call: Judges 11:4-11, 29-31


Teaching Strategy: Discuss modern-day examples of people or groups who allow incidents in the past or disagreements in the present to impede their ability to work together.  Encourage participants to consider examples within their own church setting (or the wider Christian church) in which opposing opinions and disagreements hinder the work of the church.

 

Jephthah, the son of Gilead and a prostitute, was a mighty warrior. Jephthah’s siblings, sons of Gilead and his wife, rejected Jephthah and sent him away. Later, when the leaders of Gilead came to ask Jephthah to save them from the Ammonites, he reminded them of their past and questioned their motives. He agreed to be their leader only if God gave him success in the battle against the Ammonites, saying “If you bring me home again to fight with the Ammonites, and the Lord gives them over to me, I will be your head” (v.9b).”

What can we learn from this story about God’s call to leadership? How are some of the challenges that leaders today face – such as painful histories, broken relationships, questionable motives, or fundamental disagreement – similar to the challenges Jephthah faced when he was called to leadership? How can leaders today overcome such challenges and bring people together to accomplish God’s purposes?


Summer 2017 Theme: God’s Urgent Call

Unifying Principle: People called to be leaders may question the motives of their supporters. How do these leaders know if their supporters’ motives are sincere? Jephthah discussed the inconsistencies in the behavior of his supporters and established conditions for his leadership.

 

Lesson 2: June 11, 2017

Gideon’s Call: Judges 6:11-18


Teaching Strategy: List and discuss additional examples from Scripture in which God chooses an unexpected person to accomplish great things. How do God’s choices of such people affect how we think about God acting in the world today?

 

Gideon questioned God’s call saying, “My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family” (v.15b). In a culture where family, parentage, and birth order largely determined one’s status, God’s choice of Gideon would have come as a shock. But Gideon’s call is a reminder that God chooses servants based on divine wisdom, not human criteria. The Bible is full of stories in which God calls an unlikely person and uses that person to accomplish God’s divine will. Often the person called doubts his or her ability to accomplish what is asked, and yet God’s presence makes all things possible.

In many ways the same is true today. God uses people we least expect to fulfill God’s purposes. Even when they doubt their ability, God empowers them to do more than they imagined possible. Questions remain! If we feel called, how do we know it’s God? How do we allow God to overcome our doubts and the circumstances that seem to limit us? As believers, how can we open our eyes so that we see God working through others – using “ordinary” unexpected people to accomplish extraordinary things? Where was/is God at work in these stories?


Summer 2017 Theme: God’s Urgent Call

Unifying Principle: People sometimes view their circumstances as a hindrance to being effective leaders. How do they deal with their doubts? Gideon voiced his doubts and requested a miraculous sign.