“That’s My Story”
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.
Unlikely Leaders - Ch. 37
Pauls Farewell Journey to Jerusalem
Unlikely Leaders - Ch. 38
Paul Receives Bad Advice
When the authorities came to arrest Paul, he asked permission to tell the crowd the story of his conversion experience. Our stories also have powerful potential to change lives.
Paul’s Faith in Jesus
The religious leaders in the time of Jesus and continuing into the time of Paul were in a head-to-head battle that could easily be labeled “Man vs. God.” Although, they would not say it that way. Paul’s mission was to share the gospel of Jesus and help people to accept God’s gift of salvation. Meanwhile, the Jewish religious leaders still did not accept Jesus as the promised Savior. They stayed focused on the law and being authorities of the law in Scripture. They found security in the law, defined their identity by their observance of the law, considered themselves experts of the law, and enjoyed using their knowledge to command authority over others. Paul focused on Jesus and His authority as the Savior foretold in the prophecies, while the religious leaders placed the most emphasis on their own authority. Is there still today a battle going on between human authority and God’s authority? Paul warned the believers in his time to stay faithful to their belief in Jesus and the gospel message, and we must also be aware of deception and keep the faith too!
Supplies: Paper, pens or pencils
BIBLE STUDY GUIDE
Read each Bible passage, then discuss the questions.
From the Beginning . . .
Read Genesis 3:15.
15 And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.
Read John 12:31.
31 Now is the time for judgment on this world; now the prince of this world will be driven out.
Read Galatians 4:4-5 (NIV).
4 But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, 5 to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship.
Jesus is Lord
Read Romans 10:4, 9.
4 Christ is the culmination of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes.
9 If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.
God sent Jesus to save sinners who are in a deeply humbled position. We are weak as sinners and are heading towards death. But, Jesus healed our mortal wound of sin. He stands as the only authority Who can proclaim us saved and make us new creations capable of living forever. Paul was God’s representative to help people see the truth. He fought a continuous battle against the empty ceremonial practices, exclusive prejudices, and ritualistic traditions that had become the accepted religion in that area. Ultimately, Paul was a voice of truth in a time when people were oppressed by religion. He was led by the Holy Spirit to teach the people about the freedom and salvation that is only found in Jesus.
Consider applying what you learned in this week’s lesson by doing one or all of these activities:
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.
The journeys of Paul are widely recognized to be one of (if not the most) influential sources of missionary work found in the early church. As Paul traveled, he often faced persecution from both the gentiles and Jews alike. However, this did not discourage him from spreading the message diligently, and he worked tirelessly to correct even church leaders from false ideologies. On his last journey, he did not cross Ephesus again, but requested that the church leaders meet him at Miletus. There, he gave a powerful message that served as a farewell. Amongst his remarks about his career and journeys, he gave these elders explicit instructions that apply for our church and our youth today. I call them the Big Three Rules of a Successful Church. The first rule, which probably umbrellas them all, is to guard our own souls, and those of the members of our church. He went on to warn about letting in false prophets, citing that they can cause damage like wolves to a flock of lambs. Lastly, he entrusted the message of God into their hands, and commissioned them to build “an inheritance” for their churches with it, stating that it will be far more valuable than any piece of gold or money the church retains in their keeping. As we grow our churches and our youth, it is imperative to keep these rules in mind. The work that we put in to spreading the gospel is far more valuable than any monetary growth, and the inheritance that we provide our youth is the forming point of what our churches will become.
Have you ever had to say a hard goodbye?
Read Acts 20:13-38.
13 We went on ahead to the ship and sailed for Assos, where we were going to take Paul aboard. He had made this arrangement because he was going there on foot. 14 When he met us at Assos, we took him aboard and went on to Mitylene. 15 The next day we set sail from there and arrived off Chios. The day after that we crossed over to Samos, and on the following day arrived at Miletus. 16 Paul had decided to sail past Ephesus to avoid spending time in the province of Asia, for he was in a hurry to reach Jerusalem, if possible, by the day of Pentecost.
17 From Miletus, Paul sent to Ephesus for the elders of the church. 18 When they arrived, he said to them: “You know how I lived the whole time I was with you, from the first day I came into the province of Asia. 19 I served the Lord with great humility and with tears and in the midst of severe testing by the plots of my Jewish opponents. 20 You know that I have not hesitated to preach anything that would be helpful to you but have taught you publicly and from house to house. 21 I have declared to both Jews and Greeks that they must turn to God in repentance and have faith in our Lord Jesus.
22 “And now, compelled by the Spirit, I am going to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there. 23 I only know that in every city the Holy Spirit warns me that prison and hardships are facing me. 24 However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace.
25 “Now I know that none of you among whom I have gone about preaching the kingdom will ever see me again. 26 Therefore, I declare to you today that I am innocent of the blood of any of you. 27 For I have not hesitated to proclaim to you the whole will of God. 28 Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood. 29 I know that after I leave, savage wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock. 30 Even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them. 31 So be on your guard! Remember that for three years I never stopped warning each of you night and day with tears.
32 “Now I commit you to God and to the word of his grace, which can build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified. 33 I have not coveted anyone’s silver or gold or clothing. 34 You yourselves know that these hands of mine have supplied my own needs and the needs of my companions. 35 In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ ”
36 When Paul had finished speaking, he knelt down with all of them and prayed. 37 They all wept as they embraced him and kissed him. 38 What grieved them most was his statement that they would never see his face again. Then they accompanied him to the ship.
It can be difficult to say goodbye to those who have lead us through the formation of something great in our lives. Therefore, we can only imagine how the Ephesian elders felt to say goodbye to Paul. However, his departing speech was definitely one for the record; quite literally, as it is an important part of the Bible that serves as instruction even today. Setting aside Paul’s impressive record of ministry, his statement in verse 35 should be one that we keep in the front of our minds, “it is more blessed to give than to receive.” As Paul endured the trials of persecution and earthly powers, he kept God and his mission at the forefront of his mind. As we work to grow as young Christians and shape the minds of the future leaders of our churches, we should remember that we are not working for humans, but for God.
Pauls’ farewell speech and his words to the Ephesian elders are especially important to us as youth in the modern-day church. It is always a necessary part of studying to sit back and meditate on how a story applies to us today. Below you will find three applications that can benefit the youth in your group and help them meditate on the word shared today. These applications work both individually and in a group.
Paul ends his speech with a stark reminder of Jesus’ words: It is better to give than to receive. In this world, it is easy to become selfish, wanting things for ourselves and not caring about others.
Sometimes it is easy to think of false prophets as people who outwardly imitate Jesus or have an extravagant way of proclaiming false news. This can make believers overconfident, and blind them from realizing that false prophets are all around us in our modern-day world. Paul warns of the danger and destruction false prophets can bring.
As youth, we are the future of our churches. Paul states in his message that Jesus entrusted the message into our hands and commissioned us to build an inheritance from it.
All the Way Up
By Pastor Vandeon Griffin
This FREE download includes sermons and PowerPoint slide backgrounds for “All the Way Up,” the March 13-22 Week of Prayer for Youth Ministries. The theme verse is Colossians 3:2; “Let heaven fill your thoughts; don’t spend your time worrying about things down here.”
The sermon series is set up so that each youth department/youth director of the local church can access the sermons and share them with the young people who sign up to preach each night of the week.
Let’s prepare for “All the Way Up” with Jesus Christ!
1. Activity / Busy Bags for Kids
Help parents stay sane. Assemble bags with activities to keep small children busy.
Cost: Less than $5.00
2. Placemats For Meals On Wheels
Cheer up the homebound. Thoughtfully decorated placemats are a lovely extra to bring to meal recipients. If you’re able to laminate the placemats, all the better!
Cost: Less than $5.00
3. Deliver Meals For Meals On Wheels
Help fight hunger. Pick up and deliver meals to seniors and people with disabilities.
Cost: Less than $5.00