Click below to download the Cornerstone Connections leader’s guide and student lesson. This week’s resources also include two lesson plans and a discussion starter video which offer different ways of looking at the topic. Each lesson plan includes opening activities, scripture passages, discussion questions, and real-life applications.
Humble Hero (Desire of Ages)
Chapter 2 - The People Who Should Have Welcomed Him
Humble Hero (Desire of Ages)
Chapter 3 - Man's Sin and the Fullness of the Time
Although the Jews desired the Messiah’s coming, they misunderstood His mission and purpose. Thus, they missed Him—just as we can.
Genesis 3:15, 16
Isaiah 9:6, 7
Matthew 1:1, 18-23
Acts 2:29, 30
2 Corinthians 5:21
1 Peter 1:18-21
1 Corinthians 12:4-11
2 Corinthians 12:9
Facebook allows your friends to see if you update your personal information to share that a major life event has taken place such as graduation, engagement, moving to a new town, starting a new job, or getting married. Imagine what Mary, the mother of Jesus, would have shared if social media had been available to her! Mary’s status changed very quickly from being a young, anonymous girl to becoming the mother of the Messiah! Just as with Mary, God created you with a specific purpose and plan for your life. As you seek to follow God and His Word, that plan will unfold and you will discover the talents God has given you and how you can live His purpose. Your status change might not happen overnight like it did for Mary, but as you keep connected with God you will also see those special moments in which God is with you. He wants to use you to bring Jesus to the world, too, just not through childbirth (thankfully).
OPENING ACTIVITY: Joseph and Mary on FacebookSupplies Needed: Tablet/laptop/screen to play a video from YouTube
As we explore the amazing birth story of Jesus, it is with great amazement and even shock that we react to this incredible miracle—a woman gives birth to God’s Son! I wonder how many comments, likes, or shares her Facebook post would have received: “Our baby boy, Jesus, arrived at 7:07 p.m. last night. He weighs 7 lbs. 7 oz. and mother and baby are both doing great!” The news of Jesus is still being shared today, so I’m sure it would have been the most popular post ever shared.
Watch and discuss the following video, “Jesus, Mary, and Joseph...on Facebook!”
Note to teacher: Explain to your youth that this video is a few years old, and, if they are familiar with Facebook, they’ll see that it looks a bit different than it does now, but it gives an idea of what Mary and Joseph might have posted.
Prophecies foretold the way Jesus would come to the earth. When Mary became pregnant and gave birth, the shepherds and wisemen saw the fulfillment of prophecy and did not need any convincing. When God does something, He is precise and without fail. In your life, you can experience God’s specific plans fulfilled for you also. Daily seek God and He will give you wisdom, the Holy Spirit, strength, and a clear purpose. Let’s explore how your status updates might look as God leads in your life.
BIBLE STUDY GUIDE
Read each Bible passage, then discuss the questions. If you are still worshiping from home, consider discussing one or more of the questions on social media, in a Zoom meeting, or in a group chat with friends.
Lost and Found
Read 1 Peter 1:18-21 (NIV).
18 For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. 20 He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake. 21 Through Him you believe in God, who raised Him from the dead and glorified Him, and so your faith and hope are in God.
God’s University - Wisdom
Read James 1:5 (NIV).
5 If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.
Like, Love, Share
Read 1 Corinthians 12:4-11 (NIV).
4 There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. 5 There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. 6 There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work.
7 Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. 8 To one there is given through the Spirit a message of wisdom, to another a message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, 9 to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, 10 to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues. 11 All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he distributes them to each one, just as he determines.
ISO: God’s Strength
Read 2 Corinthians 12:9 (NIV).
9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.
What’s On Your Mind . . . ?
Read Matthew 28:18-20 (NIV).
18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
Life has a way of changing. According to reference.com, “Heraclitus, a Greek philosopher, is quoted as saying, ‘change is the only constant in life.’” Sometimes the changes are good and sometimes they are painful. Mary’s status change was amazing and exciting, but it also caused people she loved pain and was a source of town gossip. Mary also had to face the reality that her Son was born to die. Sin has caused everyone to live in a good world that has been damaged. As you update your status on social media, take a moment to reflect and remember the purpose God has for your life. His plans for you are even more exciting than that photo you shared of what you had for breakfast!
Consider applying what you learned in this week’s lesson.
For a Relational Bible Study (RBS) you’ll want to get into the Scripture passage and encourage the youth to imagine participating in the story while it’s happening. Then you will be able to better apply it to your own situation today.
You will need to ask God for the Holy Spirit to be present as your small group discusses the questions (no more than 3-6 people in a group is recommended). Start with the opening question. It is a personal question and the answer is unique for each individual. There is no right answer and nobody is an expert here, so don’t be surprised when you hear different responses. You are depending on the Holy Spirit to be present and to speak through your group. Say what God prompts you to say, and listen to what others share.
Take turns reading the chapter out loud. Follow that with giving the students some time to individually mark their responses to the questions (a PDF version of the handout is available as a download). This gives each person a starting point for responding when you start to share as a group. Next, begin the discussion by asking the students to share what they marked and why on each question as you work your way through. Feel free to take more time on some questions than others as discussion warrants.
Encourage each person in the group to apply what is discussed to their personal lives and to share with the group what they believe God wants them to do. Then ask them to pray that God will help each of them to follow through in doing so. Remind them to expect that God will show them ways to live out the message of this passage in the coming week, and that they are free to ask others in the group to help hold them accountable.
As we begin to study this new quarterly and this new section of the Bible, it is important to take a moment and delve into the story of one of the Bible’s matriarchs: Mary, mother of Jesus. Mary’s story usually is heard during Christmas time, but there is much more of her story to explore.
As we explore Mary’s story, it is important to note that there are two versions that we could explore: prophecy and feelings. Weird combination, right? Well, verses like Genesis 3:15 predict that Jesus would come from a certain woman, and all throughout the Old Testament we read bits and pieces of prophecy that tell us about Jesus’ life, including clues about who His mother and father would be. In Luke 1, we find some insight into Mary’s life and a look into her emotions during her life-changing pregnancy with the Savior. For this relational Bible study, we will be focusing on Luke 1 and Mary’s backstory.
As Mary goes through this marvelous experience, we learn that not everything is wonderful for her, especially at the beginning. She was pregnant outside of marriage, and it wasn’t exactly plausible to say that the Holy Spirit impregnated her. She risked being shunned by her town, friends, family, and especially her fiancé. But, when the angel gave her this wonderful news, Mary did not object; instead, she submitted herself to God’s will. As we continue to delve into Mary’s mind, let’s say a prayer and ask God to help us apply this unique story to our lives.
Mother of the Holy
What is one thing that makes your mother special?
Read Luke 1:1-80.
1 Many have undertaken to draw up an account of the things that have been fulfilled among us, 2 just as they were handed down to us by those who from the first were eyewitnesses and servants of the word. 3 With this in mind, since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, I too decided to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, 4 so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught.
The Birth of John the Baptist Foretold
5 In the time of Herod king of Judea there was a priest named Zechariah, who belonged to the priestly division of Abijah; his wife Elizabeth was also a descendant of Aaron. 6 Both of them were righteous in the sight of God, observing all the Lord’s commands and decrees blamelessly. 7 But they were childless because Elizabeth was not able to conceive, and they were both very old.
8 Once when Zechariah’s division was on duty and he was serving as priest before God, 9 he was chosen by lot, according to the custom of the priesthood, to go into the temple of the Lord and burn incense. 10 And when the time for the burning of incense came, all the assembled worshipers were praying outside.
11 Then an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing at the right side of the altar of incense. 12 When Zechariah saw him, he was startled and was gripped with fear. 13 But the angel said to him: “Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to call him John. 14 He will be a joy and delight to you, and many will rejoice because of his birth, 15 for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He is never to take wine or other fermented drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit even before he is born. 16 He will bring back many of the people of Israel to the Lord their God. 17 And he will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the parents to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous—to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”
18 Zechariah asked the angel, “How can I be sure of this? I am an old man and my wife is well along in years.”
19 The angel said to him, “I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to tell you this good news. 20 And now you will be silent and not able to speak until the day this happens, because you did not believe my words, which will come true at their appointed time.”
21 Meanwhile, the people were waiting for Zechariah and wondering why he stayed so long in the temple. 22 When he came out, he could not speak to them. They realized he had seen a vision in the temple, for he kept making signs to them but remained unable to speak.
23 When his time of service was completed, he returned home. 24 After this his wife Elizabeth became pregnant and for five months remained in seclusion. 25 “The Lord has done this for me,” she said. “In these days he has shown his favor and taken away my disgrace among the people.”
The Birth of Jesus Foretold
26 In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, 27 to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28 The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”
29 Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. 30 But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. 31 You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.”
34 “How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”
35 The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. 36 Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be unable to conceive is in her sixth month. 37 For no word from God will ever fail.”
38 “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” Then the angel left her.
Mary Visits Elizabeth
39 At that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea, 40 where she entered Zechariah’s home and greeted Elizabeth. 41 When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. 42 In a loud voice she exclaimed: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! 43 But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? 44 As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. 45 Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!”
46 And Mary said: “My soul glorifies the Lord 47and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, 48 for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant. From now on all generations will call me blessed, 49for the Mighty One has done great things for me—holy is his name. 50 His mercy extends to those who fear him, from generation to generation. 51 He has performed mighty deeds with his arm; he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts. 52 He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble. 53 He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty. 54 He has helped his servant Israel, remembering to be merciful 55 to Abraham and his descendants forever, just as he promised our ancestors.”
56 Mary stayed with Elizabeth for about three months and then returned home.
The Birth of John the Baptist
57 When it was time for Elizabeth to have her baby, she gave birth to a son. 58 Her neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord had shown her great mercy, and they shared her joy.
59 On the eighth day they came to circumcise the child, and they were going to name him after his father Zechariah, 60 but his mother spoke up and said, “No! He is to be called John.”
61 They said to her, “There is no one among your relatives who has that name.”
62 Then they made signs to his father, to find out what he would like to name the child. 63 He asked for a writing tablet, and to everyone’s astonishment he wrote, “His name is John.”
64 Immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue set free, and he began to speak, praising God. 65 All the neighbors were filled with awe, and throughout the hill country of Judea people were talking about all these things. 66 Everyone who heard this wondered about it, asking, “What then is this child going to be?” For the Lord’s hand was with him.
67 His father Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied: 68 “Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, because he has come to his people and redeemed them. 69 He has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David 70 (as he said through his holy prophets of long ago), 71 salvation from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us—72 to show mercy to our ancestors and to remember his holy covenant, 73the oath he swore to our father Abraham: 74 to rescue us from the hand of our enemies, and to enable us to serve him without fear 75in holiness and righteousness before him all our days. 76 And you, my child, will be called a prophet of the Most High; for you will go on before the Lord to prepare the way for him, 77 to give his people the knowledge of salvation through the forgiveness of their sins, 78 because of the tender mercy of our God, by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven 79 to shine on those living in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the path of peace.”
80 And the child grew and became strong in spirit; and he lived in the wilderness until he appeared publicly to Israel.
Read Matthew 1:18-24.
18 This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit. 19 Because Joseph her husband was faithful to the law, and yet did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.
20 But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”
22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: 23 “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”).
24 When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. 25 But he did not consummate their marriage until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus.
While facing this life-changing, daunting task of raising the Messiah, Mary remained faithful to God. She knew the possible difficulties she would face, and she was frightened. But yet, she chose to believe that God had a plan in mind and that her faith would see her through. In the face of hard events, it could be simple to just question God and refuse to follow His path, but we learn from Mary’s story that He always has a plan in mind, and a solution to any problem we may see arising. Nothing is too difficult for God, especially when it is something that will benefit ourselves or others. Although Satan will want us to feel scared and insecure, if we stand steadfastly in our faith as Mary did, we will be safe and sound.
Mary’s story is obviously unique, and it is impossible for it to happen again. However, that does not exclude us from learning valuable lessons from her experiences. In the applications below, you will find some ideas for applying aspects of Mary’s story to your own life, so that you can grow in character and faith.
Everyone goes through tough times, and is presented with situations that seem impossible to handle. Think about some moments in your life that you felt were life-changing.
Quick Start Prayer Guide for Generation Z
By Kymone Hinds
It seems like such a simple request. It was a request made by the disciples to Jesus one day. They saw Him praying and were so impressed and impacted by His prayer that they wanted to learn to pray like Him.
Prayer can be one of the easiest things to do and one of the most difficult things at the same time. It’s like talking to a friend - that’s easy. It’s talking to a friend you can’t see or hear audibly – that’s hard. Let’s be honest, you look weird talking to someone that is invisible.
Even though God is unseen it does not mean that He is not accessible. He can be reached. He is just a prayer away. This guide will help you to connect with Him deeper and get more out of your time in prayer.
Love reading? Use your reading and acting skills to bring joy to children and seniors. Create a funding page, select a few books, go live on Instagram, Facebook, or broadcast on YouTube.
Cost: Less than $5.00
Express your appreciation and encourage people on the front lines. Use your imagination to create encouraging cards for essential workers.
Cost: Less than $5.00
Help feed the hungry. Give your canned food drive a twist. Build and display structures with the cans to encourage people to give.
Cost: Less than $5.00
Help children transition to a new home with dignity. Purchase and decorate duffle bags for children who are placed into foster care. Place items such as towels and personal hygiene items in the bags.
Cost: $25.00 – partner with a business to defray costs
5. Appreciation Gift Bags for Essential Workers & Teachers / Hero Candy Bars Say thanks in a fun way. Make appreciation bags with food or care items for teachers, essential workers, hospital staff, first responders, etc.
Cost: Less than $5.00