Click below to download the Cornerstone Connections leader’s guide and student lesson. This week’s resources also include two lesson study options which offer different ways of looking at the topic. Each lesson option includes opening activities, Scripture passages, and discussion questions.
School is out for some, and soon to be out for others. This means it’s summertime (at least in the Northern hemisphere). But what are you going to do this summer? Some plan in advance, others have families who plan for them, and others have no idea what they will be doing this summer. Team up with another person and fill out the “Summer Plans” handout for yourself and then, without asking, fill out how you think your partner answered the same questions. Once both of you have completed both columns, share your responses with each other and see how well you guessed what your partner plans to do this summer.
Stretch your creativity by thinking outside of the box. You can actually train your brain to think in new ways. Try a few brain puzzles such as one of the following:
What is one word that comes to mind when you think of the following sequence of letters: H, I, J, K, L, M, N, O?
If someone doesn’t get it right away, give a few hints, such as:
If nobody has figured it out yet, the answer is WATER. That’s because the sequence is the letters in the alphabet from H to O, or H2O, which is the chemical name for water.
As we consider “God Thinks Twice” today, we might need to think in new and unpredictable ways to understand God as well as to understand how God’s people can act in blatant contrast to God’s instructions.
This is a short video clip and an idea to help you create your own video on this week’s topic, plus a few follow-up questions to spark discussion afterwards.
Create a video clip that illustrates forgiveness—a major topic since sin entered our world. Jesus spoke about, illustrated, and practiced it. God has communicated forgiveness throughout earth’s history. Joseph forgave his brothers when they came for food. Can you come up with current examples? Ask someone in advance to create follow up questions based on these video clips.
Do you ever miss something obvious? Did the Israelites do that by worshipping a golden calf and calling it the god who brought them out of Egypt? Watch this short (1:41) video to see how observant you are.
Go to Vimeo to watch a video (4:54) called “God Thinks Twice.” This was created by Tyler Cantrell’s video class at Wisconsin Academy. The end of this video includes five questions to start your discussion.
If you would like to create a video for Youth Sabbath School Ideas in the future, just email Steve Case (Steve@involveyouth.org) and he will send you a future topic and Scripture passage to launch your creativity.
Go to YouTube to watch an iBelieveBible video (3:33) called “Cash Cow.” It includes a quick description of a common way many teens in American worship today. It’s not a golden calf; it’s called Moralistic Therapeutic Deism.
These are more approaches to the same topic featured in the Teacher’s Guide, but just a different way of looking at it. Expect activities to illustrate the topic followed by some questions.
BASED ON EXODUS 24:9-18; 32:1
“1 When the people saw that Moses had not come down from the mountain but was staying there a long time, they gathered around Aaron and said to him, “We do not know what has happened to this man Moses, who led us out of Egypt; so make us a god to lead us.” Exodus 32:1 (GNT)
Good news or bad news?
On the “good” side, God’s people were quite open to following God. They looked to Aaron, Moses’ key sidekick and clearly the assistant leader.
On the “bad” side, God’s people were ready to dump Yahweh and Moses. Hey, it had been 40 days and 40 nights. How long are they supposed to wait? (That’s a repeated number in the Bible—40 days and nights of rain for the flood; 40 days and nights Jesus fasted in the wilderness while being tempted by Satan.)
People often say something like “God is always available” or “God is just one prayer away.” But what is a person supposed to do when they pray and there doesn’t seem to be any answer from God? When there’s no word or message or feeling or sight, what then? And when there’s a time crunch such as a person’s health getting worse and worse, and a decision that has to be made and there’s no indication from God, what’s a person to do?
Let’s take a moment to recount the facts and evidences God’s people knew about Yahweh from their own experiences as recorded in the book of Exodus, prior to this moment at Mount Sinai.
Based on these evidences, why would the Israelites want Aaron to lead them with a new god? Did they simply forget? Were they just impatient? Was this a better idea?
Give the individuals in your Youth Sabbath School class a limited amount of time (10-15 minutes, depending on the size of your church facility) to go in search of evidence that God exists and can be trusted even though you might not be able to physically see or hear him right now. They may want to take photos of certain items in the church that have meaning to them, or film an interview with someone who has a testimony about God’s trustworthiness. As they return to the Youth Sabbath School room, let each person report what they found by either sharing it verbally with the group or posting it on a whiteboard, poster board, or banner. Filmed interviews can be played for others to see. If you have a large group with more than 10 people, you probably won’t have time for everyone to share in one group, but you can divide into smaller groups so each person gets a chance to share.
Years later, King Saul would get impatient because he hadn’t heard from God soon enough (see 1 Samuel 13:6-14). It’s easy for us to look at passages like this and forget that we also get impatient or give up on God when things don’t go the way we want, or we don’t hear from God nearly as quickly as we think is reasonable.
The Option 2 video clip for today is another illustration of missing somethin that is right in front of you. It’s easy to miss things that are right around us, especially if our focus in on something other than God.
Go to the Application Ideas section of this week’s materials for the application portion of this lesson.
In spite of the many amazing miracles God’s people experienced in their deliverance from Egyptian slavery and God’s actions in the wilderness, and in spite of God’s daily care for them with the cloud to guide and protect them, and in spite of the daily manna experience, and in spite of the power of God continuing to be demonstrated on Mount Sinai, the Israelites still chose to ask for a new god. They asked Aaron to make them a new god to lead them when Moses hadn’t returned after 40 days and nights on the mountain with Yahweh. Trust provides patience. A lack of patience erodes trust. And yet God provides lots of evidence of his care for us if we simply look around or think about our relatively recent past.
BASED ON EXODUS 19:1-25
We present this lesson from last week hoping that young people will listen to God so they don’t copy the Israelites’ actions right after hearing God speak his covenant of love. This lesson study builds on the idea of God’s covenant with us and focuses on helping the young people understand that they, as regular people, are each called to be a leader in their own community. The activity illustrates the working relationship between God, his selection of Moses as a leader, and the followers.
Exodus 19 is packed full of dialogue, promises, and action. We read how God used Moses to bring the children of Israel to a pinnacle destination, with a plan of action that had been in the making for many years. The ultimate mountaintop experience unfolded when God revealed his law, the 10 commandments, to His chosen people. Wrapped up in an easy-to-use package, these commandments were given to teach, guide, and influence his special people into a very special relationship—a covenantal love relationship—throughout eternity. The commandments were a simple way to teach how to relate to God and others.
In this lesson, we will unpack what it means to have a “covenant” and we will also look at the idea of a “covenant relationship.” These are important because God set up a unique relationship between this special group of people and himself. Moses and the people of Israel were ordinary, yet God used these ordinary people to become extraordinary leaders to the world around them.
For our lives today, we can take this biblical experience and make it real, personal, and relevant. God still wants a special relationship and still has great plans for those who actively, diligently seek him and obey his law. To get personal, God has special plans for each person in one way or another. God has plans for you! Through the story of Moses, we see how God creatively blessed and molded an ordinary man to become an extraordinary leader. God can use ordinary people, like you and me, to do great things for him.
We will begin the lesson with a challenge.
We can learn about leadership and teamwork in Exodus 19. Choose a leader/spokesperson for your group and read this chapter together. The chosen group leader is the person that will communicate with the youth leader.
The goal is for the youth to open a locked box (sitting in an open area) and get what is inside. The youth do not have a key and must figure out how to obtain one and open the box.
Let them work at it, but prompt them when necessary. The idea is for them to pick a group leader and send that leader to the youth leader to ultimately get the key to open the box. However, the key will not be given to the group leader until the group has answered several questions. When the group has provided an adequate response to one question, move on to the next one. After the youth answer the second question, show them the key but don’t hand it to them until the end of the activity.
Depending on the size of your group, it could be one group or several groups.
Question 1: What are some actions that Moses took in Exodus 19 that show good leadership skills? (Try to get at least one answer from each person in your group.) Some ideas include:
Question 2: Continuing with Exodus 19, what actions did the people take that show good team member skills? Again, try to get at least one answer from each person in the group. Some ideas include:
When the group comes back with the second list, show them the key, but debrief about the activity before actually handing them the key.
Question 3 (only ask if time allows): Looking back at Exodus 19, how did God show his leadership and love toward Moses and the Israelites? Make a list. Some ideas include:
Question 4: God revealed himself to the children of Israel through fire and smoke. How does God reveal Himself to you today?
Hand the key to the group leader(s) at this time.
Inside the box is:
The 10 Commandments weren’t just something God handed to Moses. Rather, they were designed as a way for God to have a special relationship with the children of Israel. He showed the people who he was, built a relationship with them, and demonstrated how much he cared. His plan was to make them leaders; a light to a dark, sinful world. His plan is no different for us today. God wants a special relationship with us. God has a special plan for each one of you.
Early in Moses’ life he knew he needed to be a leader, and he needed to help God’s people. In a sense, it was like he needed to help God. Later in his life, Moses thought quite differently. He misunderstood his leadership skills and abilities; he didn’t believe he could even be a leader. Then, after submitting to God, Moses led the people to the foot of Mount Sinai, where God was about to reveal something important. However, God didn’t just “hand them the key.” He required action from the people.
Take the cutout paper person. Glue this plain, ordinary paper person onto the middle of your sheet of paper. Take this plain person and personalize it with features to represent yourself. How are you unique?
God wants to use you to do amazing things for him. Around your paper person, use the colorful Post-Its to draw or write ways you can do things for him right now to help others and be a light to the world. Also draw or write ways you can prepare yourself right now to work for God.
Read Exodus 19:5. What response did the Israelites give to God?
Read Exodus 19:8. God made a covenant with the Israelites and he makes a covenant with us today. What is our covenant with him?
It’s time to action. How many of you want to say to God as the Israelites did, “All that the Lord has spoken we will do”?
See the Application section for some specific ways youth can apply this lesson for the coming week. Check out Option D for some ideas.
God prepared Moses to be a great leader of his people. The covenant was God’s process of drawing close to his people, and for the people to draw close to him. Their response was the same one God seeks from us: “All that the Lord has said, we will do.”
Let these spark ideas for ways you can move from talk to action and live out the lesson in a practical way this week. The following applications relate to the corresponding Bible Study Guide options for this lesson.
OPTION A – WHEN GOD SEEMS SILENT
As an antidote to the temptation to be impatient when God seems silent or doesn’t respond in the way we want or at the time we want, select a testimony partner for one week. Contact your partner once a day for the coming week and ask what evidence they have for God for that day. Pray for each other. Take the testimony of others, special Scriptures, evidence in nature, taking time to listen to God, and recounting God’s activity in your own life in the past. Feel free to expand this beyond your testimony partner. Team up with another church member in addition to another youth. Be ready to share in Youth Sabbath School next week.
OPTION B – WHAT GOD SAID IN THE FIRST PLACE
Each of you is going to receive a commitment card. Sign your name on the bottom and carry it in your pocket, purse, or wallet to remind you of the pledge you made on Sabbath. It will also serve as a reminder of God’s love for you.
In addition, take the paper cutout person and place it where you can see it throughout the week (e.g., bedroom wall, bathroom mirror) as a reminder of what God can do for you, and what you can do for God. Light up someone’s life this week by using your ideas. Take action! Show your love and obedience to God by sharing God with others.
This is a bonus just for the youth leader—a quick tip and an illustration to enhance your youth leadership. You may already know this idea, have learned it through trial and error, or just need a quick reminder.
Leaders need to look at the big picture rather than fulfilling all immediate requests. Maturity helps you see beyond the moment to something bigger, better, or just more important. Jesus often met immediate needs, but it was for the purpose of fulfilling a greater need. Be clear about how the greater need can influence your response. Next time you receive a shortsighted request, make it clear that you heard the input, then share the big picture and turn the situation into a learning experience for the person making the request.
Here are a few resources to add to your collection as a Youth Sabbath School leader.
1. Teens today are part of “Gen Z.” Lots of people like to make predictions about today’s teens, but most of these are vague or obvious generalizations. For example, today’s teens are tech-savvy digital natives. They have a can-do attitude and believe they will solve the problems of the world. They came of age after 9/11, and they live with the anxiety of knowing that school shootings have become a common occurrence. But do these generalizations hold true to the teens in your Sabbath School? That’s the more important question. Here’s a short book, written by a teen himself, about his generation. Check out Vivek Pandit’s perspective of We Are Generation Z at https://www.amazon.com/We-Are-Generation-Attitudes-Perspectives/dp/1612542182/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=we+are+generation+z&qid=1558143593&s=gateway&sr=8-1
2. Just when you thought technology would rule the world and each person would be in their individual and isolated space, along came “Three Match Creations” in 2018. With a focus on collaboration, community, and creativity, this group has created space in central Massachusetts for visionaries to create, innovate, and educate in the arts, community, and life skills. Check them out at www.threematchcreations.com and discover visionaries—resident visionaries, independent visionaries, and even transient visionaries. Consider the various workshops they have available for open mic nights, knitting, seed swapping, water colors, succulent gifts, and even a clothing swap.
3. Here’s an example of a local church making a difference in their community. The Paradise Valley Seventh-day Adventist Church in San Diego noticed lots of refugees who had left dangerous situations and sought asylum in the U.S. These church members started providing food and clothing, plus offering ESL classes. Instead of starting with Bible studies, this church started with meeting felt needs. They’ve continued to develop this over a number of years. If you’d like to see a 12-minute overview of what this one church is doing to serve in their community, go to