The BIG IDEA:
We can have hope in trials and invest in things that last when we know our life on earth isn’t all there is and our future with God is secure.
Our daily lives cause us to lose sight of eternity and focus too much on things that don’t last.
Learn to value the things of God’s eternal kingdom more than the things that will pass away.
WHY IT MATTERS:
If we don’t have an understanding of living with God forever, we will live as if this life is all there is and place our hope in things that don’t last.
I want my students to:
- KNOW: Ultimate reality is not just what we see around us.
- EXPERIENCE: Hope and peace knowing that trials won’t last, and a desire to invest in the things of God that will last forever.
- DO: Invest our time, talents, and resources in light of eternity.
The idea box is a place where you can find some creative ideas for leading this study. You might find videos, activities, or great illustrations that really bring the main point home. The ideas come from small group leader like you, so if you have an idea that isn’t in there, click below to share it with the community!
You’re waiting for the bus and drop your phone in the street just as the bus comes around the corner. Before you can grab it, you hear a crunch as the front wheel of the bus meets your phone. How do you feel?
How would your response be different if you already knew you were getting the brand new phone you wanted in two days for your birthday? Why?
Would you spend a large amount of money to fix your broken phone? Why or why not?
*What difference does it make when you see the whole picture, not just a part of a situation? Some people call this perspective.
*One of the people in the Bible who understood this very well was the apostle Paul. Let’s take a look at what he wrote about himself in a letter to the people in a place called Corinth.
(put the below facts about Paul in a box)
Interesting facts about Paul:
- The Bible is full of stories about Paul. (You can read a lot of them in the book of Acts)
- He was originally a Jewish leader who didn’t believe Jesus was God.
- He was known for hunting down Christians and having them killed until he had his own encounter with God.
- He became a follower of Jesus and traveled all over, helping start some of the very first churches.
- He wrote quite a few of the New Testament books in the Bible.
*1. As they were traveling Paul and his friends went through some crazy stuff! Read 2 Corinthians 11:24-28. What are some of the things that Paul faced? Make a list.
He was: whipped, beaten, stoned (people threw rocks at him to kill him), shipwrecked 3 times. He was in danger from rivers and robbers, from his own people (Jews) and those who were different from him (Gentiles). There was danger in the city, in the desert, on the seas, and from people who pretended to be on his side. He had long hours and sleepless nights, with no food and not enough clothes to keep him warm. (v.27) He was also stressed about his responsibilities to the people he cared about in the churches.
2. Check out 2 Corinthians 1:8-10. How did Paul react to all his troubles? What do you think he felt like?
He says he felt overwhelmed and crushed by the weight of everything. He didn’t know if he would survive. He learned to rely on God and decided to place his confidence in God.
*3. Read 2 Corinthians 4:16-18, Paul says they don’t lose heart (aren’t discouraged to the point of giving up). What are some of the things they give as reasons for this?
Some reasons might be: God is renewing their spirits (verse 16). They see a purpose in their suffering. They know their situations are only temporary (verse 18). Compared to eternity they say that all those things they suffer are not very big. Think about the list of things he went through (from question 1). He’s calling all those things small!
4. According to verse 18, what do they say they are focusing on and what are they not focusing on? Why?
They are focusing on things that are unseen. They are not focusing on things that are seen. The things that are seen are temporary; the things that are unseen are eternal (last forever).
5. What might be practical examples of these “seen” and “unseen” things in Paul’s life at this time?
Some “unseen” examples include heaven, God, and spiritual rewards in heaven. Some “seen” examples such as their chains, pain, hunger, and persecution.
*6. How would it make a difference in facing hard times in your life if you know they are only temporary?
Allow the group to discuss. You can relate this to the cell phone story at the beginning. You can also talk about the difference between having hope and not having hope.
*7. Going back to the idea of how important perspective is, consider this line that represents eternity. Pretend this line represents all of history behind us, our present day, and all of eternity in front of us. How much of it would be taken up by your life here on earth?
( *Hint: When you compare our life with how long eternity is, our life here would be nothing more than a dot on this line.)
8. Our perspective also influences how we invest our life. Jesus understood this. Read Matthew 6:19-21. In what kinds of temporary treasures do people invest their time, talents, and finances?
Some examples might include athletic achievement, physical beauty, awards and recognition, fame, money, houses, cars, or the newest electronic gadgets.
9. What kinds of things are eternal?
The Bible only refers a few things that are eternal. God, His word, and people are some of them. Others (in 1 Corinthians 13) are faith, hope and love.
*10. As you look back at the line representing eternity, how much of your life are you investing in things that last, and how much are you investing in things that don’t?
Allow the group to discuss. You might want them to consider how investing too much in temporary things is like pouring money into a broken phone when you are going to get a new one in a few days. Most of us would consider it an unwise investment to pour a lot of money into a phone we would only have for a few days. Likewise, since our life here on earth is so short compared to eternity in heaven, it makes a lot more sense to store up our treasures in heaven where they will last for eternity.
FOR FURTHER STUDY
For other illustrations of the concept and further study, check out Roger Hershey’s article http://crupressgreen.com/an-eternal-perspective
Our review cards are an excellent way to review your past lessons with your students before each study. Not every lesson has one yet but if we have them, you can find them on the PRINT page. Check them out and use them each week to help your students grab hold of the truths in these studies.
What ideas do you have that could improve this study? Are there creative things you do to bring this topic home to your students? Please share with the community clicking the FEEDBACK button or leaving a comment below.