God’s Honour – vs – Honouring God

Sabbath School Helps - Lesson 1 - 1 July 2017


Getting into the Story

Read Acts 9:1-9

Before meeting Jesus, who was Saul working for? Acts 9:1 (Himself!)

Who does he think he is working for? (God/Jews)

What does he ask the High Priest for? Why? (Authority, to imprison Christians)

What does Saul believe he is defending? (The name/nature of God)

Who is the ultimate defender of the nature of God? Acts 9:3,4 (God himself)

Who steps in and reveals the truth of God’s Character? Acts 9:4,5 (Jesus)

By attacking Christians, who is Saul actually persecuting? Acts 9:5 (God/Jesus)


The Danger of Defending God

Defending God’s honour puts Saul in a position of perceived power. How does this imbalance effect those around him? (Jews respected him, Christians feared him)

What effect did Saul’s misguided passion have on himself? (he was blinded by his own misguided zeal for God)

What ‘oldest teaching in the Book’ does this teach, once again? (Self is the root of Sin)

Some today believe they must defend the nature of God against fellow believers with differing views. What does Saul’s situation teach us? (LOTS! How to deal with our own zealotry. How to deal with zealots among us. How to deal with questions of God’s nature. Primarily: Leave your ego at the foot of the cross and verify you are seeing Jesus clearly!)


Taking the Story Seriously

Read Acts 9:10-20

What was Ananias’ first opinion of Saul? (fear, distrust)

Why did he go anyway? (Jesus told him to go)

What was the result? (Saul was healed and filled with the Holy Spirit)

What impact would it have on you to hear a Jesus hater proclaiming their love for Him?


Read Acts 9:21-25

How did Saul change? (preaching FOR Jesus)

How did Saul stay the same? (strongly proving his views)

Why were the Jews determined to kill Saul? (the power of his testimony and teaching)


Read Acts 9:26-30

Why is it so hard to trust someone who has hurt your friends and family?

How much convincing would you take to believe Saul?

Without Saul/Paul our understanding of Jesus and the Early church would be very different.
This being true, how important is Barnabas to the story of the Gospel? (very!)

Is there someone who has spoken in your defence? What difference did it make?


In the Early Church

Why was the story of Saul’s conversion effective in changing the hearts of Christians? (various reasons, all emanating out from the presence of Jesus in the heart of their story)

Why was Saul’s story unable to change the hearts of the Jews? (They did not believe in Jesus)


In your Local Church

In some parts of the world today, the Christian church is growing rapidly. In others, it is not. Why?


Read Acts 9:31

What was the secret to the growth and health of the early Christian Church? (Respect for Jesus and the encouragement of the Holy Spirit brought peace, strength and numbers)


In your local church, what receives more attention:  

Personal Testimonies – or – Doctrinal Teaching

What does this tell you?

What needs to happen?


When people present views differing from the majority, does your local church:

Listen and Respond – or – Debate and Divide

What does this tell you?

What needs to happen?


Is your church more like the 1st century Christians or the 1st century Jews?

What needs to happen next? (testimonies about Jesus!)


Conclusion

In Acts 9 we see three stories of humility which lead to a healthy thriving church. Saul humbles himself before Jesus after having the ‘self’ knocked out of him. Ananias humbles himself before Jesus’ will. The Disciples humble themselves after hearing the testimony of Barnabas.

If ‘Self is the root of sin,’ what is the antidote? (Love for others is the root of righteousness)

Where does this kind of Love come from? (only from Jesus)

Where is this love / selfless humility illustrated best? (in the love of Jesus for us, for His father, for all of Creation)

How can we become humble? (look to Jesus)

How can we become a church of humility? (look to Jesus and tell the story)

How can we become loving? (look to Jesus)

How can we become a loving church? (look to Jesus and tell the story)


Why is telling the story so important? (because it changes people!)

A Letter to Refugees: From Surviving to Thriving

Sabbath School Helps - Lesson 13 - 24 June 2017

Introduction

Ringwood Adventist Church, where I attend with my family, is as close to the Kingdom of God as you can get before the return of Christ. Why do I say this? 
Reason 1. A few weeks ago, during luncheon I noticed something about the people with whom I was eating. I commented that the five of us were from five different families, five different nationalities and five different cultures! That's Kingdom growth if I ever saw it!
Reason 2. At least half of our weekly attendees are refugees. Hearing their stories of suffering from around the world, I have learned so much more about the power of Salvation. The Kingdom of God is ever present due to their presence.

Peter's first letter is written to Refugees. He wrote it to give them courage and confidence in their struggles. Let's take a look.


Read 1 Peter 1:1-9

What blessings are declared about refugees (exiles) in these verses? 1 Pet 1:1,2 (chosen by God for the activity of God to be revealed in their lives)

What impact might the following statements have on a refugee:
“God has chosen you and sent you out.”
“God knows your future and His Spirit is with you now, working in you and through you.”
“You are sprinkled with the blood of Jesus!”
“May God’s grace and peace be yours!”

Why does Salvation mean more to those who are suffering?

What has happened to the family inheritance of most refugees? 
What does 1 Pet 1:4 say about the inheritance received by those exiled for Christ?
What would it mean to a refugee to hear of their unending inheritance in Heaven?

What trials do refugees endure today?
How might salvation mean more to them than those who are not exiles? (1 Pet 1:5)

How is suffering improving the eternal character of a refugee? (1 Pet 1:6-7)

Why is it important to realise we are all exiles? (1 Pet 1:3)

How does a refugee state of mind benefit us all? (1 Pet 1:8-9)

What did Charles Spurgeon (1834-1892) wonder about our salvation story?
“Shall we be witnesses for the Lord of grace to myriads of worlds which will be wonderstruck when they hear of the incarnate God? Shall we be surrounded by pure intelligences enquiring and searching into the mysteries of God manifest in the flesh? Will the unfallen worlds desire to be instructed in the glorious gospel of the blessed God? And will each one of us have his tale to tell of our experience of infinite love? I think so, since the Lord has saved us “to that intent that now unto the principalities and powers in the heavenly places might be known by the church of the manifold wisdom of God” (Greatest Fight in the World, April, 1891).

What do you think it will be like, into eternity, to tell of Christ's gift of Salvation for you?


Read: 1 Peter 1:10-17

What did both the prophets and the angels want to understand? (Salvation)

How does being a refugee make a new King and new Kingdom so much more exciting?

Having God as your new King and Lord, how are you called to live until He returns? (sober minded, hope in Christ, obedient, transformed, holy)


Read 1 Peter 5:1-5

What does this type of person look like in today's world?

STORM Co – In Australia we have a movement of Seventh-day Adventist youth from many different conferences who go into various communities and show: “Service To Others Really Matters”. For a week, these young people do community service projects and run daily worship programs. STORM Co started in1992 and is a regular part of the Adventist culture in Australia. 

What does STORM Co teach our youth? 
What does it teach the children who look up to our youth? 
What does it teach the communities STORM Co serves? 
What does it teach the churches these STORM Co groups come from?

What happens to a family where service to others isn’t modelled?
What happens to a country where service to others isn’t valued?
What happens to a church where service to others isn’t organised?
What happens to a Christian who doesn’t serve others?

Is service to others the fullest revelation of Jesus' character to today's world?
Why or why not?

What character strength is required to truly serve others? 1 Pet 5:5


Conclusion

As you closing prayer, read 1 Peter 5:6-11


Sabbath School Helps - Lesson 12 - 16 June 2017


Every TV show ends the season with a cliffhanger, making us wait until the next season for the resolution to some huge impending catastrophe. How is the Second Coming of Jesus similar? 

While you wait for the TV show to return, it slowly fades to the back of your mind. When the new season arrives, what do the show producers do to get you back into the story? How is our wait for the return of Jesus similar? 


Scoffer to Believer

Read 2 Peter 3:1-4

What does it mean to scoff at someone else?

How is being called a scoffer worse than being a person who scoffs? (Scoff refers to the nature of the act. Being called a scoffer refers to the nature of the person. A scoffer has made scoffing a way of life and is now defined by it.)

How do the scoffers in these verses reveal themselves? What do they say? (2 Peter 3:3,4)

What traits are evident in the personality and character of a scoffer? (following evil desires)

What is the opposite of scoff? (encourage, compliment, approve, admire, trust, praise)

What is the opposite of scoffer? (believer, optimist)

Do Christians, at times, scoff at unbelievers? How?

Is the Kingdom of God made up of scoffers or believers?

What actions can we take to ensure our temptation to scoff at others does not lead us to become scoffers? (2 Peter 3:1,2)


Wicked to Wise

Read Matthew 24:45-51

Compare/contrast the wise and wicked servant.

How were they the same? (Responsibilities - In charge of Master’s household. Waiting for Master’s return.)

How were they different? (Actions – Wise: feeding household faithfully. Wicked: Attacking household and eating/drinking elsewhere.)

What was the difference in character between the wise and wicked servant? (focus: others/self)

Do we see both wise and wicked servants in our local church today? Why?

In the parable, how did this difference develop? (Time / Delay. Wise: Absence makes the heart grow fonder. Wicked: Absence makes the heart go yonder. Until bit by bit they two servants become opposites.)

What can we do to ensure we fall deeper in love with Jesus as we wait?


Destruction to Salvation

Read 2 Peter 3:14-18

Why do you think Peter puts this challenge to grow in Christlike character at the end of this letter?

What encouragement do you gain from these verses?

What challenges you the most in these verses?

A character formed according to the divine likeness is the only treasure that we can take from this world to the next. Those who are under the instruction of Christ in this world will take every divine attainment with them to the heavenly mansions. And in heaven we are continually to improve. (Maranatha, 224)

Read Hebrews 12:1-3

How can wicked scoffers be changed into wise believers and be taken from destruction to salvation? (only by fixing their eyes on Jesus)

How does looking at Jesus impact the person's character over time? (we become more like Him)

How long does this process take?


To be continued… 
(this is actually the end of this study, but your character development is never ending!)

Sabbath School Helps - Lesson 11 - June 10 2017

Introduction

It is said that 10,000 hours makes a master. What have you mastered in life? How has the process of mastering this craft, instrument, pursuit shaped you? (We are mastered by that which we master)


Lesson

Read: 2 Peter 2:19
What does this verse teach us about the impact your pursuits have upon you?

Read 2 Peter 2:1-22
What different communities are considered in this passage? (OT times, Early church, Heaven, Noah’s community, Lot’s community, wild animals, Balaam’s community, natural forces, sinful world, sacred community) … Why so many? Can we all find at least one to relate with? Which one speaks most clearly to you?

T/F: Those who formed the Early Church were both mastering and being mastered by the church they were forming. Support your answer.
While Creating Community (Planting a church, growing a church):
What positive personal values in individuals can be developed?
What positive organisational values can be developed?
What negative personal values can be developed?
What negative organisational values can be developed?
What makes the difference?
What steps can be taken to ensure we develop positives and squash negatives?

Read John 8:34-36
What is this verse saying to you?
Who among us has sinned? (all) So we are all slaves to what? (sin)
Who among us has been released? (all) So we are all what? (free)
Free indeed!
From what? (the obvious answer is ‘sin’ but this is due to taking this passage – far too often – out of context)


The Context
Read John 8:30-32
To whom is Jesus speaking? (Jews who believe Him – disciples!)

Read John 8:33
Who did they say they were? (Abraham’s sons)

After Jesus pushed them a bit more, who did they decide they were? John 8:41 (God’s sons)
Who did Jesus tell them their father was? John 8:44 (Satan)
Just reminding ourselves: To whom is Jesus speaking? John 8:31 (Believers – disciples)
Do you believe in Jesus? Are you a follower of Jesus?
Are you uncomfortable, yet?

What makes the difference? John 8:42 (love for Jesus)
How important is it that our church community is founded on love for Jesus and love for others?
How can we ensure ‘love for Jesus’ is the primary focus of our community?

Any time our community claims God as our Father but does not love, we become the children of Satan. While this may seem extremely harsh, it is exactly what the context of John 8 is teaching us about being ‘set free by the Son.’
If we are ‘free indeed’ – John 8:36 – what have we been set free from? (loveless entitlement, believing we are the sons of God, heirs of the Kingdom, or any other such title without first recognising our places as slaves in need of freedom. We are not natural sons – only freed slaves - but amazingly we are adopted as children of God! We best remember our 'lost' heritage and 'found' story.)
What steps can be taken to ensure we develop love and squash entitlement?
What does discipleship look like in a place set free by the Son?
What does evangelism look like in a place set free by the Son?


Conclusion

If Jesus is truly our master, we will be mastered by Him.
Personally, what might this look like today? Tomorrow? In 30 years?
As a church, what might this look like today? Tomorrow? In 30 years?


Sabbath School Helps - Lesson 10 - June 3 2017

Icebreaker: Think back to the last time you spent time with a special friend. What was the situation? Why did you get together? What did you do? 

Lesson Discussion

Read the following bolded question and discuss briefly. Then read each of the three passages individually and ask some 5W & H questions (who, what, when, where, why, how) about each. Use the category (G-words) to wrap up each section before moving onto the next verse. 
Into what types of situations did Jesus take his “Inner circle” of three? 
His Grieving: Garden of Gethsemane (Matthew 26:36-46)
His Giftedness: Jairus’ Daughter (Luke 8:49-56)
His Glory: The Transfiguration (Matthew 17:1-6)

Grieving, Giftedness, Glory.
Which of these three situations are you most likely to take your friends? Why? 
Which of these three situations are you most likely to face alone? Why? 
Why do you think Jesus took his “inner circle” into all three settings? 
How did these three situations set them up as leaders in the Early Church?
How did these three situations set them up and disciple makers?
Do you think Peter, James and John made a conscious effort to teach and take their followers into their times of grieving, giftedness and glory? 

Read 2 Peter 1:16-20
What story is Peter referring to? 
Why is it important to Peter that his readers understand that this is not a myth but an actual occurrence?

Read 1 Peter 1:10-12
How does this passage reveal the way Jesus was involved past, present and future in revealing Himself to the people of Earth?
Where do you see grief, gifts and glory revealed in this passage? 
What does that tell you about the nature of the prophets and their message? 
What does it tell you about the messenger who gave the gospel to you? 
What does it tell you about yourself as a giver of the gospel to the next person? 
Are you the recipient of ‘cleverly contrived myths’ or something else? Is the salvation story of Jesus – past, present and future – a true occurrence? How do you know?

Read 2 Peter 1:19-21
How does this verse tie OT, NT and today together?
How does it make you feel to know the Morning Star (Jesus, Revelation 22:16) is shining in your heart?
What does it mean that the words of the prophets are ‘carried along by the Holy Spirit’? 
What does this look like in our day to day interpretation of the world?
Now that your heart is alight with Jesus’ shining nature, how are you seeing His light shining through you into the darkness of the world?

Read 2 Timothy 3:15-17
What is the purpose of the Holy Scriptures in us? (2 Tim 3:15)
What is the purpose of the Holy Scriptures in the church? (2 Tim 3:16)
What is the purpose of the Holy Scriptures in the world? (2 Tim 3:17)

How to each of these settings reveal our need to share our grieving, giftedness and glory with others?

Closing Prayer: Sing Together

Into my heart
Into my heart
Come into my heart, Lord Jesus

Come in today
Come in always
Come into my heart, Lord Jesus

Out of my heart
Out of my heart
Shine out of my heart, Lord Jesus

Shine out today
Shine out always
Shine out of my heart, Lord Jesus



Dave Edgren ~ Story: Teller, Author, Trainer ~

BOOK DAVE NOW! Dave Edgren is passionate about creating a values-based storytelling culture. In his engaging and often hilarious way,...