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Even though nearly 2,000 years have passed since Paul wrote his letters, students today are facing many of the same issues as the Philippians, Colossians, and Thessalonians. They may be experiencing angst or hurt, or they may be hearing messages that are contrary to what they know to be true about the Gospel. They’re probably even dealing with questions about sexuality and morality. By studying these practical letters of Paul, students will learn ways to faithfully cope with the trials of the their day-to-day ...
Even though nearly 2,000 years have passed since Paul wrote his letters, students today are facing many of the same issues as the Philippians, Colossians, and Thessalonians. They may be experiencing angst or hurt, or they may be hearing messages that are contrary to what they know to be true about the Gospel. They’re probably even dealing with questions about sexuality and morality. By studying these practical letters of Paul, students will learn ways to faithfully cope with the trials of the their day-to-day lives. Through engaging activities and thought-provoking questions that get right to the heart of Philippians, Colossians, and First and Second Thessalonians, students will learn how to find joy in their journey, discover practical instructions of faith, and get encouragement for times of trial. • In Philippians students will learn how to tell the difference between joy and happiness, and they will learn that true joy comes from serving Christ. • In the letter of Paul to the Colossians, students will be encouraged in their faith, and they will learn how to make a difference in the lives of believers and non-believers alike—whether they can see the impact they make or not. They will also discover how to avoid false teachings. • In the two letters to the Thessalonians, students will learn that as believers they should be living in ways that make others excited to get to know God. They will also learn how to reach out for a Christian community for support when they encounter trials. Written with the busy youth worker in mind, Studies on the Go: Philippians, Colossians, and First and Second Thessalonians provides Scriptural depth and substance to be tackled in a manageable time frame. The questions are real, down-to-earth, and straight to the point to get students quickly into the text so they can hear God’s word on a practical level. Designed for classes, youth groups, and small groups, this curriculum is guaranteed to get students engaged in the Bible.
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Paul writes with Timothy as a servant and apostle (one who was sent forth) by God. We use the word missionary often in place of the word apostle. The apostle Paul went from being a persecutor of Christians to a preacher for Jesus, which landed him in the final years of his life as a prisoner for his newfound faith. Around AD 61-64 Paul wrote a letter from prison to encourage the Christians in a Roman colony called Philippi located in northern Greece (called Macedonia in Paul's day).
Paul took many journeys to spread the message of the Messiah Jesus (Yeshua in Hebrew). One of the churches he founded was in Philippi. Years later, as Paul faced death, he wrote these Christians to encourage them. His central point: We find joy in walking with God, joy in being a follower of Jesus, joy in talking and listening to God, and joy in working together to reach people for Jesus.
What's a Christian? Someone who invites Jesus into her life, then partners with God, resulting in good works in and through her. And theresult is joy. More than 16 times Paul penned the words joy and rejoice. That was Paul's message in his time-and is still the message today. We find joy in the journey.
SHARE (WARM-UP QUESTIONS)
If you could travel anywhere with all expenses paid, where would you go and why?
What activity, hobby, or event gives you happiness or joy? Why?
What's the difference between joy and happiness? Explain.
OBSERVE (OBSERVATION QUESTIONS)
Read Philippians 1:1. How does Paul refer to himself and Timothy? Who was he writing this letter to?
According to verse 2, what's Paul's opening greeting?
Based on verses 3-4, with what attitude does Paul pray?
In verses 5-6, what's Paul confident of for these followers of Jesus?
THINK (INTERPRETATION QUESTIONS)
What's a servant? What does a servant do? How do you think Paul was a servant to others (especially churches)?
Verse 2 refers to a saint. How would you define a saint?
Look at verses 3-6. Why does Paul pray with thanksgiving and with joy?
What's the promise to Christians in verse 6?
APPLY (APPLICATION QUESTIONS)
How's your joy meter lately, based on the scale of 1 being low and 10 being high?
Do you think joy is an emotion or an attitude? Explain.
Why do you think many people have trouble being joyful?
Where do you see God working in your life now? What work do you hope God will "carry to completion" in your life?
What's one step you can take this week to choose joy in the journey?
DO (OPTIONAL ACTIVITY)
Have everyone in your group write down two or three stop signs or road blocks that keep them from experiencing joy in the journey. Then have everyone write down two or three green lights or triggers that help pave their way to joy. Then have each person share his answers with the group. Close in prayer, asking God to help the students walk in confidence that God's work is being completed in them.
QUIET TIME REFLECTIONS
Day one: Philippians 1:1
1. What word or phrase jumps out to you? Why? 2. Do you view yourself as a servant? Why or why not? 3. Think about the word saint. What does it mean for your life?
Day two: Philippians 1:2
1. What word or phrase jumps out to you? Why? 2. What does it mean to have grace and peace? What does it mean to have peace from God? What person in your life needs this grace and peace right now? 3. Think about God as father. How does viewing God as father affect you negatively or positively?
Day three: Philippians 1:3
1. What word or phrase jumps out to you? Why?
2. What do you think about the phrase "I thank my God"? Is it hard for you to be thankful? Why?
3. What are some ways to express thankfulness to God?
Day four: Philippians 1:4
1. What word or phrase jumps out to you? Why? 2. What's your prayer life like these days? 3. How do you handle what seem to be unanswered prayers? Why should we pray even when we don't feel anything? Think about practical ways to develop a joyful prayer life (see Romans 1:10) and jot down a couple.
Day five: Philippians 1:5
1. What word or phrase jumps out to you? Why? 2. What does it mean to have a "partnership with someone in the gospel"? 3. Think about the powerful connection we can have with friends in sharing the good news of Jesus. What's one way you might share Jesus with someone this week?
Day six: Philippians 1:6
1. What word or phrase jumps out to you? Why? 2. What does it mean that God will complete the good work "until the day of Christ Jesus"? 3. In what ways does your life feel lacking? How might God intend for you to finish this journey strong even though you feel those places of weakness?
Day seven: Philippians 1:1-6
Read through the entire passage. Write down the one verse that impacted you the most this week. Commit the passage to memory.
Excerpted from Studies on the Go: The Letters of Philippians, Colossians, and 1 and 2 Thessalonians by David Olshine Copyright © 2009 by David Olshine. Excerpted by permission.
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