“My Way Versus God’s Way”
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 - Chapter 72
The Lord's Supper Instituted
Humble Hero - Chapter 73
Let Not Your Heart Be Troubled
Jesus would have saved Judas had he surrendered, but Judas chose a path of greed rather than salvation. He could not bring himself to surrender to a humble Messiah.
Judas, as a disciple of Jesus, showed himself to be stunted in his faith compared to the other eleven. By that night in Gethsemane, he not only exhibited a lack of faith, but his hopeless end showed his faith was dead. Throughout Jesus’ ministry, Judas had opportunities to see people healed, hear the powerful stories Jesus told to the crowds, and spend personal time with just Jesus and the other disciples. He had all the information and real-life experiences needed to understand what Jesus was on earth to do, yet instead of growing stronger, his faith withered and faded as time passed.
Standing at just 5 feet 7 inches, Spud Webb was one of the shortest people to ever play for in the NBA. Some might have claimed that Webb’s growth was stunted due to growing up in poverty, but he never let his short stature stop him. In his first game as a high school basketball player, he scored 22 points and was much faster and jumped much higher than any of the other bigger players. Later as an NBA player, he played without stunted ability, showing himself to be one of the best skilled in dribbling, scoring, and dunking. In 1986, Spud Webb won the NBA Slam Dunk Contest.
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.
Do Not Lose Heart
16Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 17For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 18So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
Trials are Good
Read James 1:2-4 (NIV).
2Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
Faith & Salvation
Read Ephesians 2:8-10 (NIV).
8For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9not by works, so that no one can boast. 10For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
It takes growth to be humble, to serve, and to act unselfishly. Children sometimes think of themselves first when they are little—“my toy,” “my turn,” “I want to go first.” But, as a child grows, they slowly learn to be polite, helpful, and kind. Judas had not grown up in his faith, and his selfish betrayal of Jesus serves as a clear reminder to each of us—we need to continue growing stronger in our faith 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.
Last week’s lesson focused on the foot washing service we practice, just as Christ instituted it 2,000 years ago. Well, it’s not exactly the same. For example, we pair up and wash each other’s feet, but Christ washed everyone’s feet by Himself—super awkward.
And we don’t walk in sandals on dirt paths that necessitate someone to wash our feet when we come into the house. But we still practice the “ordinance of humility” before participating in the “Lord’s Supper” (sometimes called the “Last Supper” or “Communion”) at church, even though our feet probably aren’t dirty or dusty.
Christ transformed a Passover practice people had been doing for 1,500 years. This served as a reminder that the angel of death “passed over” the houses in Egypt that had blood on the doorposts. The blood symbolized the death of an innocent lamb in place of the first born of each family. The Egyptian houses that had no blood on the doorposts found their first-born male, the one to carry on the family name, dead!
The innocent lamb killed in place of the Israelite first born symbolized the Lamb of God who would take away the sins of the world and be the substitute for all. That night Jesus claimed to be that Lamb, and He changed the Passover to remember Christ’s innocent death for us. We eat flatbread and drink grape juice to symbolize Christ who gave His life—flesh and blood—for our salvation.
All four Gospels record this “Last Supper” of Jesus. You can find it in Matthew 20, Mark 14, Luke 22, and John 13. But John continues with three more chapters about what happened after that—stuff the other Gospel writers didn’t record. This includes the promise, “I go to prepare a place for you,” and “I will come again.” You’ll find “I am the vine and you are the branches.” Jesus surprised and confused the disciples by explaining “God the Holy Spirit” would soon replace Jesus in their lives—WHAT?!
What is something you’ve planted, and how did it grow?
Read John 15:1-27.
1 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. 2 He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. 3 You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. 4 Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.
5 “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. 6 If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. 7 If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8 This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.
9 “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. 10 If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. 11 I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. 12 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command. 15 I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. 17 This is my command: Love each other.
18 “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. 19 If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. 20 Remember what I told you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ t If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also. 21 They will treat you this way because of my name, for they do not know the one who sent me. 22 If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not be guilty of sin; but now they have no excuse for their sin. 23 Whoever hates me hates my Father as well. 24 If I had not done among them the works no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin. As it is, they have seen, and yet they have hated both me and my Father. 25 But this is to fulfill what is written in their Law: ‘They hated me without reason.’
26 “When the Advocate comes, whom I will send to you from the Father—the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father—he will testify about me. 27 And you also must testify, for you have been with me from the beginning.
1. Why is pruning important for grape vines?
2. How can a person stay connected to Jesus—the vine?
3. What are some of Christ’s commands?
4. How do “love” and “obeying God’s commands” relate to each other?
5. Why does the world hate Christ’s disciples?
6. On the following diagram, place a:
“” where you’d put various friends you have
“” where you’d put your different family members
“” where you’d place some who are strangers to you
“” where you’d put the people you don’t like
7. What makes it easy for you to stay connected to Christ? What makes it hard?
8. How do you relate to people who are down on Christianity?
You have to wonder how much the disciples grasped that last night. The triumphant entry on Sunday seemed to indicate Christ was finally going to rule the world. But things fell apart after that. And then mighty Jesus, the supposed Messiah, took the lowly role of a servant?! He tells the disciples not to be troubled by all this, but he reveals that one of them will soon turn traitor and Jesus will be killed. Then it’s off to the Garden of Gethsemane and a combination of counsel to stay connected to Christ even though He’s leaving—to obey, to love, and to be hated by the world. Is this what they signed up for when they joined Christ? Is this good news or bad news? This “Divine Vine” seems so similar to, and yet so different from, anything else the disciples have experienced. They’re committed to Jesus, but what’s going to happen next?
The disciples were clear on some things, and clouded by others. But Jesus was on the move, and so they followed. This week, as you move along with Jesus, apply John 15 to your life in one of the three ways suggested below, of find your own application to live out Scripture in real ways, starting today.
Pruning removes dead branches and even living branches that simply aren’t going to produce worthwhile fruit. Just as a vine can waste a lot of nutrients, we can waste a lot of time, money, energy, relationships, giving, influencing, listening, and more. It’s not that we shouldn’t give these “nutrients” to others, but being intentional and purposeful directs these from the vine through the branches to grow fruit. That’s what branches are supposed to do.
One clear and over-arching command from Jesus is to love. That’s much easier to say than to do. “Love” can mean so many different things.
The physical metaphor of “I am the vine; you are the branches” explains the development of fruit. But how does this happen spiritually? What are ways you can 1) connect to Christ; 2) stay connected to Christ; and 3) develop fruit?
Understanding & Relating to Asian American Youth
By Jane Hong-Guzman de Leon, Kevin Doi & Mike Park
You know how important it is to engage young people in your church. But how? Even when we bring our best intentions to these conversations, the dialogue somehow flops. This comprehensive 40-page guide is the perfect handbook for any adult looking for a starting point in conversations with today’s Asian American youth. It includes an overview of the reality Asian American youth face, fundamental principles of conversation, plus 30+ questions and ideas for next steps.
Birthday in a Box
Spread birthday joy at shelters. Collect and assemble birthday candles, cake mix, frosting, decorations, plates, cups, napkins, and a simple toy or two in a box. Decorate the box.
Cost: Less than $10.00
Sock Collection for Homeless
Give the item most requested at homeless shelters. Collect and donate white crew socks for men, women, and children.
Cost: Less than $5.00
Paper Bag Decorating for Meals on Wheels / Food Bank Snack Pack
Add pizzazz to lunch for seniors. In addition to receiving the hot portion of the meal in a tray, Meals on Wheels recipients get the cold portion in a lunch bag. Add life to their meals by decorating lunch bags. Simply buy paper lunch bags and use your creativity, crayons, markers, stickers, or any art materials you have on hand.
Cost: Less than $5.00