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More High School Talksheets on the New Testament, Epic Bible Stories52 Ready-to-Use Discussions
By David Lynn
ZONDERVANCopyright © 2010 David Lynn
All right reserved.
Chapter One1. Luke 2:8-20
ThE ShepherdS & ThE AngelS
Part of worship is experiencing the presence of God
1. everyone in Bethlehem who listened to the shepherds' report was amazed. What do you think amazed them the most? What amazed you the most when you first heard about Jesus?
2. finish this sentence: The one thing that makes me happiest about the good news that the shepherds heard is ...
3. The shepherds rushed to find Jesus in Bethlehem. What are you in a rush to find this Christmas? (you may check more than one.)
Pleasure The right girlfriend/boyfriend Freedom The real Jesus The perfect gift The purpose for my life A great meal Freedom from worry The best Christmas tree Something more than I have now A break from school A home with no fighting Peace with God Money
4. The shepherds experienced god's presence in their worship together. If you could be in charge of your congregation's worship for one Sunday, what would you do so that everyone in attendance would experience god's presence?
5. Who are you most like in the story?
The worshiping shepherds Mary, who wondered what lay ahead Joseph, who did exactly what God wanted and supported Mary The surprised townspeople who heard the shepherds' story The manager of the inn who was nowhere to be found
1. ThE ShEphErdS & ThE aNGElS-part of worship is experiencing the presence of God (Luke 2:8-20)
READ OUT LOUD
The Roman Empire was experiencing Pax Romana, or Roman Peace, that was brought about by the brutal force of the Roman military. Violently crushing any rebellion on the part of its subjects, Rome ruled supreme. The Roman Empire's few citizens enjoyed this peace while the majority of those living under Roman rule were slaves. In this context comes the announcement of the angels (a hymn called "Gloria in Excelsis Deo")-"Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests." You can read the story in Luke 2:8-20.
What celebrity don't you admire? What celebrity do you admire?
DISCUSS, BY THE NUMBERS
1. Use this item to begin a faith conversation about what amazed the shepherds the most. Then move your discussion to today-"What amazed you the most when you first heard about Jesus?"
2. Listen to your group members' completed sentences. Ask, "How is the good news that the shepherds heard the same good news that is told about Jesus today?" "Why do you think so many people view God as a mean, punishing God and don't see the good news of God's love as good?" What can you do to correct that misperception of God?"
3. Tally the top three responses by your group members. The band U2 has a song in which they declare that they still haven't found what they're looking for. Ask, "Have you found what you are looking for in Jesus Christ?" "Have you experienced God's forgiveness? God's loving presence?"
4. Let your group describe what they would do the same and different in worship so that everyone is drawn deeper into the experience of knowing God.
5. Find out who each of your group members see themselves as most like in the story. Share who you see yourself most like. Encourage honesty rather than Sunday school answers. Talk about where your group members see their growth areas to be (stronger faith; more wonder and awe of God; surprised by God).
Part of worship is experiencing God's presence. We do that together as a congregation and individually throughout the week in our everyday relationship with God. The shepherds experienced God's presence as they worshiped just like Joseph and Mary, the angels, and probably some of the townspeople.
God is always present in our lives-whether or not we "feel" God close to us. Let us worship God as we become aware of God's presence!
2. Luke 1:67-75
JeSuS IS ComInG SOON
Getting ready to celebrate Jesus' birth
1. zechariah was pumped about the coming birth of Jesus Christ. What excites you the most when you think of Jesus' birth? (if you're not excited, describe why.)
2. What do you think is the biggest obstacle to thinking about Jesus at Christmastime?
3. do you a (agree) or d (disagree) with each of these statements?
_____ Christmas is a reminder of the hope we have in Jesus. _____ At Christmas we should think about the stuff we want. _____ Forgiveness is the message of Christmas. _____ Christmas reminds us that everyone will go to heaven. _____ During the Christmas season we should remember that God is alive and working in the world.
4. What is the best way for you to get ready to celebrate Christ's birth? What is the best way for your family to get ready to celebrate Christ's birth?
5. do you think these statements are T (true) or f (false)?
_____ Our physical world is temporary. _____ Christ is coming again soon. _____ I look forward to Christ's coming again. _____ Christ's second coming makes little difference in how Christians live today. _____ The second coming of Christ motivates me to live a holy life.
2. JESuS IS COmING SOON-Getting ready to celebrate Jesus' birth (Luke 1:67-75)
READ OUT LOUD
The father of John the Baptizer was none other than Zechariah, the hero in today's story. Zechariah was a Jewish priest at the time of Christ's birth. He was visited by the angel Gabriel and told of the coming birth of his son John (called John the Baptist or John the Baptizer). Because Zechariah didn't believe Gabriel, he was unable to speak until his son's birth. At the birth of John the Baptizer, Zechariah prophesied about Jesus. This prophecy-in the form of a hymn called the "Benedictus"-prepares us to celebrate Christ's birth. Read the prophecy found in Luke 1:67-75.
What is the shortest time it has taken you to get ready for school in the morning?
DISCUSS, BY THE NUMBERS
1. Use this item to start a faith conversation about getting ready to celebrate the birth of Jesus. Listen to the group's responses to the question. Then ask, "How excited are your friends about Christ's birth?"
2. Create a list of answers. Then create a list of ways to get around these obstacles.
3. See commentary in bold after each statement.
Christmas is a reminder of the hope we have in Jesus. Ask, "How often do we reflect on the hope we have in Christ?"
At Christmas we should think about the stuff we want. debate this one. Look at the pros and cons of focusing on "stuff" during the Christmas season. Ask, "What would Christmas be like if we bypassed gift-giving and focused exclusively on the birth of Christ through prayer, fasting, Bible reading, worship, and other spiritual disciplines?"
Forgiveness is the message of Christmas. Again, debate this one. Ultimately, Christ and the salvation he brings to us is the reason for the season.
Christmas reminds us that everyone will go to heaven. Will everyone go to heaven? The Bible is clear that only those who repent and believe in Jesus are saved.
During the Christmas season we should remember that God is alive and working in the world. Christmas is a great reminder of what god did over 2,000 years ago and what he is doing now!
4. Create two lists, one that describes the best ways for your group members to get ready to celebrate Christ's birth and another that describes the best ways for your group's families to ready themselves to celebrate.
5. See commentary in bold after each statement.
Our physical world is temporary. True. A house fire proves this.
Christ is coming again soon. True. When we don't know, but the Bible tells us soon! Could be 100 years from now or 100 days. Christ is coming again. He came first as a baby. His second coming will be deliverance to those who have been saved, and judgment to those who have rejected him.
I look forward to Christ's coming again. Sometimes true and sometimes not so true-especially for young people who have not yet experienced much of life.
Christ's second coming makes little difference in how Christians live today. Talk about the difference it should make. Ask, "does it make a difference to most Christians?"
The second coming of Christ motivates me to live a holy life. Ask, "if your parents left you alone for the weekend, and you knew they were coming back at 8 p.m. on Sunday, what would you do?" Ask again, "if your parents left you alone for the weekend, but you didn't know when they would return, what would you do?" Ask, "What made the difference in your response?" We don't know when Christ will come again. Hopefully the anticipation of his imminent return motivates us to holy living.
Read and discuss 2 Peter 3:10-11.
But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar, the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare. Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives. (2 Peter 3:10-11)
As Christmas quickly approaches we need to be reminded of the words of Zechariah's song. God rescued us in Jesus Christ. God provided the way of salvation so that we can serve him.
Read Luke 1:74-75. "To rescue us from the hand of our enemies, and to enable us to serve him without fear in holiness and righteousness before him all our days."
3. Matthew 2:1-12
The WISe meN lOOK FOR JeSuS
Everyone is seeking something
1. do you think there are more or fewer people in the united States seeking Jesus today? in the world?
2. What do you think the Magi were seeking as they followed the star to Bethlehem?
Knowledge and power they could use to manipulate others Relief from sadness and pain Pleasure to enjoy their lives more Purpose to give their lives meaning Popularity and prestige Wealth so they could feel more secure Peace from the troubles in the world
3. The star led the wise men to Bethlehem. Rank the following things that lead you from most (1) to least (10).
___ A teacher at school ___ Advertising ___ My friends ___ An adult at my church ___ My pastor's sermons ___ Parents/grandparents ___ The Bible ___ My music ___ My appearance ___ Achievement (in class, in sports)
4. Worldly philosophies and religions distract people from seeking Christ. Which of the following do you think distracts people in the united States the most?
Religions like Islam, Hinduism, or Mormonism say people must work their way into heaven. Hedonism says pleasure is the ultimate purpose in life. Materialism says the person with the most stuff wins. New Age beliefs say people are in control of the universe (in other words, people play the role of God). Atheism says there is no God (or gods); people are on their own. Other: _______________________________________________
5. What are you seeking from Christ?
Best friend Comfort Moral guide A sense of belonging Get-out-of-hell-free card Forgiveness/right relationship with God Spiritual coach Love A Santa Claus Hope
3. ThE WISE mEN lOOk fOr JESuS-Everyone is seeking something (Matthew 2:1-12)
READ OUT LOUD
The wise men-the Bible never says how many-were educated men from what is now the area of Saudi Arabia, Iraq, and Iran. They were schooled in astronomy, philosophy, religion, and medicine. And they were searching for Jesus. Read the story found in Matthew 2:1-12.
When you were a kid, where was the best place to hide when you played hide-n-seek?
DISCUSS, BY THE NUMBERS
1. In the United States church attendance has declined. The United States appears to be taking the road Great Britain and Europe have taken by becoming more and more secular. While church attendance is not the only indicator of interest in Jesus, it is the best data we have and probably does indicate less interest in Jesus in the United States. Central and South America, Africa, and parts of Asia are showing much more interest in Jesus and Christianity.
2. Scripture tells us that the Magi both sought and worshiped the baby Jesus. Ask, "What do you think Herod was seeking?"
3. Take this opportunity to discuss those things that lead us in good and bad directions. Ask, "Which of these things can lead you astray?" "Which will lead you to Jesus?"
4. Worldly philosophies and religions often distract people from seeking Christ. Which of the following do you think distracts people in the United States the most? Mormonism is growing in the United States, as is Islam. Materialism continues to deceive in spite of the Great Recession and its consequences. New Age beliefs have grown in popularity since the 1960s-people have a menu of beliefs that center around finding the "god inside you," your innate wisdom, your "true self," and the like. Atheism has grown, but most people still believe in some sort of god or higher power.
5. This item can spark a healthy faith conversation about what your group members seek from Jesus. Spend time talking with your group about how the forgiveness we have in Christ sets our relationship right with God so that we can be friends with God.
No matter your social status, your family background, or your education, everyone is seeking something. Some seek pleasure. Others power. Others spiritual enlightenment. The Bible clearly points to Jesus as the only one who will satisfy the spiritual vacuum that exists in our souls.
Excerpted from More High School Talksheets on the New Testament, Epic Bible Stories by David Lynn Copyright © 2010 by David Lynn. Excerpted by permission.
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