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.
This game is a combination of hide-and-seek and the swimming pool game Marco Polo. It calls for blindfolds, ear plugs, and music.
One person is blindfolded and put in the middle of the Youth Sabbath School room. Somebody spins the person around 10 times to disorient the blindfolded person. During that time any others in the room seek a place in the room to hide. Ten seconds after the final spin, the blindfolded person must name somebody in the room and identify which of four quadrants in the room that person is at that moment (it can be a complete guess). The quadrant can be named or pointed toward. If the blindfolded person guesses correctly, the person they pointed to becomes the next blindfolded person standing in the middle of the room. If the blindfolded person’s guess was wrong, they go through the 10-rotation spin all over again and gives it another try. If a blindfolded person guesses wrong three times in a row, pick another person to be blindfolded.
Variations include giving earplugs to the blindfolded person or adding background music so it is more difficult to locate people in the room or hear their movements.
If you can hear, but you can’t see, is it possible to still know? Record your own sounds in advance and then have those in Youth Sabbath School guess those sounds. Here are several from YouTube that you could draw on. Some are nearly impossible to perceive. The answers are given halfway through the 2:46 video clip.
The answers are:
Goat (not a sheep)
The obvious point is that hearing certainly helps, but often we need to also see in order to know.
Transition: As you consider our lesson for today, remember that humans can sometimes trust in something or someone without seeing proof of it. Sometimes they do need proof to believe in something. But does God have such limitations? It may seem sometimes like he doesn’t see, hear, or know what we’re experiencing, but the first four chapters of Exodus tell us differently.
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 that illustrates God’s sovereignty. There are times when it can be easy to question this, such as when the Israelites spent hundreds of years in slavery despite being “God’s people.” However, even then God was still with them and showed it by helping them prosper in spite of their arduous circumstances. When and how might we question God’s sovereignty today? What evidence is there that God still sees, hears, and knows what’s going on right now? Remember to create a list of follow-up questions for your video as well so your participants can discuss it afterwards.
“Do You Have SUPER Color Vision?” is a 3-minute YouTube video that tests how well your eyes can differentiate between colors that look similar. Be prepared to pause the video at points so your participants can vote on the right answer. It’s always wise to preview the video and before you show it to your Youth Sabbath School.
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 3-4
God might be able to see us and know what’s going on in our lives, but that doesn’t mean we necessarily do the same with him. Most humans have never seen God in a form they recognize. It’s often easy to see God in nature, but our interaction with nature typically isn’t as personal as it is with other people. And what is God’s message in nature—power, design, intricacy, cycles, interconnectedness?
We have Moses to thank for writing the first books of the Bible. Because of him, we have written records of many messages from God as well as many of the ways he chose to reveal himself to his followers. Because we’re living after Christ has already come to earth, the records we have of him give us an amazingly clear understanding of what God is like as well.
However, ever since the fall in the Garden of Eden, humans have placed themselves above God. Made in God’s image, humans have amazing abilities and powers—including the ability to recreate others in their own image through childbearing and child rearing. But humans are not God. The kind of relationship God desires to have with us, his natural creation that he made in His image, posits a unique challenge: a dance between us and him.
In a dance for two people, one takes the lead and the other follows. When two partners know each other really well, they’re able to dance together so smoothly they flow with each other. The better the partners know each other, the more they are able to move as one.
If we want to dance with God, we need to let him lead us instead of trying to do it the other way around.
Besides getting to know him as our partner, perhaps the most difficult element in learning to dance with God isn’t his invisibility, but our drive to lead and do things the way we want. With the way God works unseen in our lives, it is often easy for us to take credit for the things he does through us. With our ego and natural selfishness, it can seem unnatural to give God credit for any skill or talent we could claim as our own. At multiple times in his life Joseph recognized God’s actions even though it appeared that his success was due to his own special skill or abilities (see Genesis 40:8; 41:16; 45:8; 50:29). Joseph illustrated that recognizing God as the source of our gifts is a key step in checking our pride. It enables our dance with God to continue rather than fall apart.
Most of us have to learn how to stop our pride from taking the lead from God. People refer to this as “dying to self” or “the greatest battle we face.” It’s a daily issue for most humans. Some just give up and go their own way, which usually results in lots of messes. Those who engage in following God rather than trying to lead him themselves may feel challenged to keep it up, but they benefit from it repeatedly.
Divide your participants into groups of two. Have them face their partner, hold up both hands, and interlock their fingers. Explain that the goal is to place the toes of one of their feet on top of the toes of their partner’s foot and then tap three times before their partner can do it first. (You may need to demonstrate this slowly with a partner of your own beforehand.The person who is the first to tap their partner’s toes three times is the winner of the two. If you have more than two people in your Youth Sabbath School, have the winners face off against each other while those who lost pair up with new partners and go again. If you have a large Youth Sabbath School of ten or more people, you may have to stop after two or three rounds, or else devote more time to this activity before you move on to the next part of the program.
Our Scripture passage for this Bible study is Exodus 3, 4. This is the story of Moses and the burning bush, which many of you might already be familiar with. Moses was originally born to godly parents who were also Hebrew slaves, but was later adopted into the Egyptian royal family. He lived the first forty years of his life with them, most likely receiving the best education and military training available at that time as part of his privilege.
These two opposing influences in his life—his Hebrew heritage but the way he was raised as a member of the royal family—resulted in Moses having to run for his own life after he reached the age of forty. He spent the next forty years as a shepherd in Midian. It almost seems surreal when you compare his time living in the royal palace with a job taking care of sheep.
It might seem like such a waste of talent and time for Moses to leave a life as a prince behind for a life as a shepherd, but that’s looking at it from a human perspective. From God’s perspective, he saved Moses’ life in Egypt and then refined his training to help him become the person who would later lead the Israelites out of slavery and into the Promised Land.
Take turns reading Exodus 3, 4. Pause occasionally for participants to give their input and point out who was leading and who was following at different points in the dance between God and Moses. Note also who wasn’t leading and who wasn’t following.
God desires to be in a close relationship with each one of us. For a dance to be good, there needs to be a leader (God) and a follower (you). When you know your partner well, you can move in tandem so it doesn’t even seem like the two of you are a leader and follower, but a unit. This doesn’t just happen. It requires practice, submission, active following, and endurance. It requires us to have trust in God.
BASED ON EXODUS 2:11-3:12
The influences from his birth parents during his early childhood and knowing how God had saved him as a baby must have had a huge influence on Moses’ direction in life and his sense of his own destiny. Whether he knew it or not, God had rescued him so he could one day rescue the Hebrew people from Egyptian slavery.
The influences he received during his life in the Egyptian royal family must have had a big impact on him as well. As the adopted son of Pharaoh’s daughter, Moses would have received the education and political training all high-ranking males in Egypt were given at that time (see Acts 7:22). He must have seemed destined for greatness.
But when the Pharaoh ordered a death decree for Moses (Exodus 2:15), he found himself in a critical spot and was forced to flee for his life. He escaped Egypt and went to the desert of Midian, where he went on to take one of the longest timeouts in history—one that lasted for forty years
It’s hard to even imagine how long taking a 40-year timeout would be. If you’re a teen, forty years is more than twice the length of your entire lifetime so far! That’s the same as 480 months or 14,600 days! What do you think Moses did during all that time?
Pass out a copy of the “Let Me Tell You a Story” handout and something to write with to each participant.
As we read the Scripture passage that connects the end of Exodus 2 with the beginning of Exodus 3, use your imagination and write a one-paragraph description of what Moses might have done or experienced during his 40-year timeout.
Here’s Exodus 2:11-25 (NCV):
11 Moses grew and became a man. One day he visited his people and saw that they were forced to work very hard. He saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew man, one of Moses’ own people. 12 Moses looked all around and saw that no one was watching, so he killed the Egyptian and hid his body in the sand.
13 The next day Moses returned and saw two Hebrew men fighting each other. He said to the one that was in the wrong, “Why are you hitting one of your own people?”
14 The man answered, “Who made you our ruler and judge? Are you going to kill me as you killed the Egyptian?”
Moses was afraid and thought, “Now everyone knows what I did.”
15 When the king heard what Moses had done, he tried to kill him. But Moses ran away from the king and went to live in the land of Midian. There he sat down near a well.
16 There was a priest in Midian who had seven daughters. His daughters went to that well to get water to fill the water troughs for their father’s flock. 17 Some shepherds came and chased the girls away, but Moses defended the girls and watered their flock.
18 When they went back to their father Reuel, he asked them, “Why have you come home early today?”
19 The girls answered, “The shepherds chased us away, but an Egyptian defended us. He got water for us and watered our flock.”
20 He asked his daughters, “Where is this man? Why did you leave him? Invite him to eat with us.”
21 Moses agreed to stay with Jethro, and he gave his daughter Zipporah to Moses to be his wife. 22 Zipporah gave birth to a son. Moses named him Gershom, because Moses was a stranger in a land that was not his own.
23 After a long time, the king of Egypt died. The people of Israel groaned, because they were forced to work very hard. When they cried for help, God heard them. 24 God heard their cries, and he remembered the agreement he had made with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. 25 He saw the troubles of the people of Israel, and he was concerned about them.
Give participants about 4-5 minutes to write a one-paragraph example of what Moses might have done at some point during his 40-year timeout. This sheet breaks this time down into several different periods. Assign one time period to one person and another time period to another person. If you have more than five people, assign several people to the same time period and have them compare their ideas during the sharing time. If you have less than five people, either you or they could choose which time periods to include and which to exclude. Note: The Bible gives us very little information about what happened during these forty years.
After participants have written down their ideas, have them share with the rest of the group. If you have a large group, just share stories in groups of 5-10 people.
In less than five minutes, we’ve already read everything the Bible has recorded for those forty years of Moses’ life! The next forty years of his life will take several books of the Bible to tell! Let’s take a look at where Moses is mentioned in Hebrews 11, a chapter that many people refer to as the “Hall of Faith.” It describes Moses during a time in his life when he was faced with a critical choice: to side with God’s people or to side with the people in power. He chose God’s people, and as a result he was forced to flee Egypt. But what happened to Moses during his forty years in Midian made him into the kind of person who could return and lead God’s people out of slavery. Here’s how Hebrews 11:24-27 (TLB) puts it:
24-25 It was by faith that Moses, when he grew up, refused to be treated as the grandson of the king, but chose to share ill-treatment with God’s people instead of enjoying the fleeting pleasures of sin. 26 He thought that it was better to suffer for the promised Christ than to own all the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking forward to the great reward that God would give him. 27 And it was because he trusted God that he left the land of Egypt and wasn’t afraid of the king’s anger. Moses kept right on going; it seemed as though he could see God right there with him.
It makes you wonder exactly what Moses experienced during those forty years in the desert. The Israelite slaves he would lead out of Egypt would spend the next forty years to come in the desert too, though we’ll study that more closely in June of this year. David would later write about how nature reveals God in unmistakable ways in Psalm 19:1-4 (GNT):
1 How clearly the sky reveals God's glory!
How plainly it shows what he has done!
2 Each day announces it to the following day;
each night repeats it to the next.
3 No speech or words are used,
no sound is heard;
4 yet their message goes out to all the world
and is heard to the ends of the earth.
Moses got back on track with God during those forty years in Midian. The high and mighty view he had most likely cultivated of himself as a prince before then dissipated when he became a shepherd in the area of Midian—probably giving him a familiarity with the land that would come in handy when he was leading thousands of Israelites over the same terrain. Majestic Mount Sinai, where God appeared to Moses in the form of the burning bush, is the same place Moses returned to with the Israelites to worship the one true God. While the Bible tells us very little about Moses’ time in Midian, Ellen White provides more details. Check out chapter 22 of the book Patriarchs and Prophets to discover more, including this tidbit: Moses wrote the book of Genesis during this time.
We often miss messages and impressions from God because of the busyness or restlessness of our lives. Take a few minutes to separate yourself from any electronic devices, distracting noises, or visual stimuli in your home and spend some time in quiet solitude. If you can’t get a space all to yourself, just close your eyes in the best place you can find and decompress. Use this quiet time to talk to God with your mind. Listen for audible and inaudible messages from him. Expect this to take some time. In fact, five minutes might not even be enough time for you to power down and truly become calm.
Help your Youth Sabbath School participants to find some space and have a quiet time with God right now. Assure them that you will come and get them when five minutes have elapsed. Then do so.
Notice the change in Moses after his 40-year timeout was over. Let’s read the first twelve verses of Exodus 3 (NCV):
1 One day Moses was taking care of Jethro’s flock. (Jethro was the priest of Midian and also Moses’ father-in-law.) When Moses led the flock to the west side of the desert, he came to Sinai, the mountain of God. 2 There the angel of the Lord appeared to him in flames of fire coming out of a bush. Moses saw that the bush was on fire, but it was not burning up. 3 So he said, “I will go closer to this strange thing. How can a bush continue burning without burning up?”
4 When the Lord saw Moses was coming to look at the bush, God called to him from the bush, “Moses, Moses!”
And Moses said, “Here I am.”
5 Then God said, “Do not come any closer. Take off your sandals, because you are standing on holy ground. 6 I am the God of your ancestors—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” Moses covered his face because he was afraid to look at God.
7 The Lord said, “I have seen the troubles my people have suffered in Egypt, and I have heard their cries when the Egyptian slave masters hurt them. I am concerned about their pain, 8 and I have come down to save them from the Egyptians. I will bring them out of that land and lead them to a good land with lots of room—a fertile land. It is the land of the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites. 9 I have heard the cries of the people of Israel, and I have seen the way the Egyptians have made life hard for them. 10 So now I am sending you to the king of Egypt. Go! Bring my people, the Israelites, out of Egypt!”
11 But Moses said to God, “I am not a great man! How can I go to the king and lead the Israelites out of Egypt?”
12 God said, “I will be with you. This will be the proof that I am sending you: After you lead the people out of Egypt, all of you will worship me on this mountain.”
The miraculous way God had been leading Moses’ life might seem to have gone off the rails when the Pharaoh ordered his death and forced him to leave his life in Egypt behind for a life in Midian. However, it was during this long, 40-year timeout that Moses was able to get back on track with God and God asked him to lead the Israelites out of Egypt. Like Moses, we may feel unequal to do what God asks us to do for him at first, but what God needs is availability, not ability. God’s presence is all a person needs no matter what tasks, challenges, or difficulties they face. The time Moses spent caring for sheep in the desert is what prepared him for the next phase of his life with God.
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 above.
Talk to a person at your church who knows you well. Let them know that you’ve recently read about Moses’ experience of learning to trust God at the burning bush and tell them you’re wanting to learn like Moses did. Explain that in Youth Sabbath School, you discussed the metaphor of dancing with God and now you want to follow God’s lead. Then ask them based on their knowledge of you how they would suggest you go about doing that with God. Do the same thing with a parent. Compare their responses, then go to God in prayer and ask him to shape you more and more into a great dance partner for him.
Plan now to carve out a quiet time for you to listen to God this week. You might already know a good day and time for this. Perhaps you already take personal time with God. If you aren’t accustomed to doing it, be aware that it might take a while to focus on God and shut out the many impulses and distractions that come from daily life. However, taking time to be still in solitude can enable us to start receiving impressions from God that we can easily miss in the midst of our hurried or loud lives. Start with five minutes of solitude and see if you can grow that to ten minutes. Get a partner to do this on his or her own as well, then share with each other what you experienced.
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.
It’s easy for a youth leader to be so invested in a particular program that the young people become the second priority rather than the first priority. When your program matters more than your people, you need to step back, readjust, and return to making the program FOR the youth rather than expecting the youth to be present simply for the program. Programs are important, but not as important as people. The program is a means to an end (the spiritual growth of the youth), not the end itself.
Here’s a collection of trends related to the world of young people, as well as the sources of that information. This is to help the youth leader understand the general world of young people today. Your specific youth may differ, but this is the general trend.
Our topic this month is: Trending for Teens – Racial and Ethnic Diversity
The Most Diverse Generation. Members of Gen Z (those born between 1997 and 2012) are the most racially and ethnically diverse American generation to date. Nearly half (48%) of them belong to communities of color compared with more than a third (39%) of Millennials in 2002. This upward trend is part of the emergence of a “majority-minority America,” in which—by 2045—most Americans (50.3%) will not identify as white. However, for youth under age 18, this line will be crossed much earlier, with minority youth reaching a majority by 2020.
Hispanic Growth. The largest growth is occurring in the Hispanic sector. In 2018, one in four (25%) youth ages 6-21 were Hispanic, compared to almost one in five (18%) in 2002. The U.S. Census Bureau projects that by 2060 Hispanics will comprise nearly one third (32%) of the population under age 18, with whites accounting for just over a another third (36%). By comparison, the percentage of black youth has changed very little in the last 50 years, moving from 13% in 1968 to 14% in 2018, and is projected to remain steady into 2050. The percentage of Asian youth has increased slightly from 4% in 2002 to 6% in 2018, with only slight gains expected by 2050.
Born in the USA. Gen Zers are less likely to be born abroad (7%) than their Millennial counterparts (8%). However, they are more likely to be born in the U.S. of at least one foreign-born parent (22%) compared with Millennials (15%).
Urban and Western. Of those Gen Zers living in urban areas, two-thirds are racial or ethnic minorities, as opposed to 45% in suburban areas and only 29% in rural areas. Regionally, the percentage of Gen Z minority youth is likely to be much higher in the Western (60%) and Southern (52%) states than in the Northeast (42%) and Midwest (32%).
Lagging Diversity in Schools. While American students are more diverse than ever before, a relatively small share (20% in 2015) of elementary and secondary public-school teachers come from minority backgrounds. Furthermore, many students go to schools where at least half of the students come from their own race or ethnicity. This is true of large numbers of black (44%), Hispanic (57%) and white students.
Embracing Diversity and Racial Justice. Nevertheless, eight in ten (81%) Gen Z youth indicate that “I have one or more friends who are of a different race than me,” as opposed to seven in ten (69%) Millennials. Over three quarters (77%) say they are in favor of marrying someone of a different race, up from two thirds (66%) of Millennials. Both Gen Zers and Millennials are more likely than their elders to believe that increasing racial and ethnic diversity is good for society, to say that blacks are treated less fairly than whites, and to support NFL players kneeling in protest.
Navigating Racial Tensions. Gen Zers are coming of age in a social and political climate where overt forms of racism have found a renewed foothold. While many Gen Zers have been born during the first black American presidency, they by no means live within a post-racial world. Black teens may have concerns about issues like police brutality and mass incarceration. Immigrant and refugee youth, who make up an increasing percentage of the North American Adventist population, may have anxieties about deportation or the fate of loved ones in other parts of the world. Any racial or ethnic difference can make a teen the target of online bullying. Adults should tune into these realities, protect young people where necessary, and be prepared to advocate for greater understanding and respect.
Preparing to Lead. Those who lead and minister to such a diverse generation should educate themselves in matters of race and culture. Many adults, particularly those who are white, grew up in an era when they were taught to be “color-blind” and to treat everyone the same. But many young people of color would say that if you don’t see their color and understand the struggles and perspectives that come with it, you really don’t see them. Take time to understand and read about the communities of color represented in your youth group. Spend time in young people’s homes and neighborhoods. Be aware of how your words, attitudes and actions may be shaped by you own racial identity. If you grew up looking at life through a white lens, you may want to begin by reading a book like Pastor Daniel Hill’s White Awake: An Honest Look at What It Means to Be White (2017, IVP). Another helpful book, for Christians of all backgrounds, is Christena Cleveland’s Disunity in Christ: Uncovering the Hidden Forces That Keep Us Apart (2013, IVP).
Geiger, Abigail (September 7, 2018). “6 facts about America’s students,” Pew Research Center. Accessed at http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2018/09/07/6-facts-about-americas-students/
Kane, Libby (Dec. 4, 2017). “Meet Generation Z, the 'Millennials on steroids' who could lead the charge for change in the US,” Business Insider. Accessed at https://www.businessinsider.com/generation-z-profile-2017-9
Frey, William (March 14, 2018). “The US will become ‘minority white’ in 2045, Census projects: Youthful minorities are the engine of future growth,” Brookings. Accessed at https://www.brookings.edu/blog/the-avenue/2018/03/14/the-us-will-become-minority-white-in-2045-census-projects/
Fry, Richard and Parker, Kim (November 15, 2018). “Early benchmarks show ‘Post-Millennials’ on track to be most diverse, best-educated generation yet,” Pew Research Center. Accessed at http://www.pewsocialtrends.org/2018/11/15/early-benchmarks-show-post-millennials-on-track-to-be-most-diverse-best-educated-generation-yet/
Parker, Kim; Graf, Nikki and Igielnik, Ruth (January 17, 2019). “Generation Z looks a lot like Millennials on key social and political issues,” Pew Research Center. Accessed at http://www.pewsocialtrends.org/2019/01/17/generation-z-looks-a-lot-like-millennials-on-key-social-and-political-issues/