1. LEADER PREPARATION

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1 Genesis: A View From the Beginning Week 5: Choose Correctly (Jacob) This includes: 1. Leader Preparation 2. Lesson Guide 1. LEADER PREPARATION LESSON OVERVIEW This lesson will help students think about the choices they make. The narrative of Jacob stealing Esau s blessing is instructive for teenagers because it helps them see that doing the right thing in God s eyes is always the best way. We often think about our decisions in terms of the outcomes: If the result of a decision or choice seems positive, we may overlook whether or not the decision is right or wrong in itself. As Christ-followers, we are called to live in such a way that we seek what is right, in every situation, no matter the cost or consequences. LESSON OBJECTIVES 1. WHAT: As Christ-followers, we re called to always do the right thing, no matter the situation. 2. WHY: The decisions we make the big ones and the little ones, the public ones and the private ones reveal to the world that we are Christ-followers. 3. HOW: Students will be encouraged to think of times when they did the right thing in a tough situation and times they didn t, with the purpose of discovering how important it is to live as Christ calls them to live. PRIMARY SCRIPTURE Genesis 27:1-14, 30-35, SECONDARY SCRIPTURES Matthew 5:13-15 and 1 Peter 1:15-16 TEACHING PREP The short overview below is designed to help you prepare for your lesson. While you may not want to convey this information word-for-word with your teenagers, you ll definitely want to refer to it as you lead. Read Genesis 27:1-14, 30-35,

2 Jacob is one of the more fascinating yet confusing characters in Scripture. His life is full of twists and turns. He makes decisions that seem selfish or even deceitful. Yet God stays faithful to his covenant with Abraham to make a great nation, and that covenant goes squarely through Jacob. Jacob s life story provides one reminder after another that God s ways are different than ours! It s simply challenging to always understand how and why God chooses to deal with Jacob the way he does. This lesson focuses on a terrible decision Jacob made a decision that was encouraged and assisted by his mother, Rebekah. God had already told Rebekah that the promise given to Abraham would pass through Jacob (the younger brother) not Esau (Genesis 25:23). Knowing this, Rebekah sees an opportunity to force God s promise by fooling her aged and half-blind husband, Isaac. Jacob foolishly agrees with only a mild protest one that is based more on getting caught not on the morality of the situation (Genesis 27:11-12). What we see in Genesis 27 is an example of making a choice based on an outcome that is seemingly in line with God s will. God had made Rebekah a promise. She and Jacob were simply acting in order to bring about that promise right? The only problem is that the decision itself was wrong. Before we judge Rebekah and Jacob, of course, we must understand how common this thinking is. Teenagers live this reality all the time. They tell white lies because they think they are protecting a friend. They gossip knowing it will get back to the individual, when they should simply go to him or her personally. They speed to get somewhere on time. They cheat to pass a test. They demonstrate the same behavior in a million different ways each day. And let s be honest: Adults do this, too. The problem with this, of course, is that we are called to be holy, to live righteously. We are called to live as Christ himself lived. First Peter 1:15-16 says this: But now you must be holy in everything you do, just as God who chose you is holy. For the Scriptures say, You must be holy because I am holy. God wants us to do what is right in every circumstance. We are called to be salt and light (Matthew 5:13-15), to stand out in the world as people who live differently. The decisions we make the big ones and the little ones, the public ones and the private ones reveal to the world that we are Christ-followers. Choosing what is right is in our spiritual DNA.

3 THE BEFORE & AFTER [optional] Text Message Questions We ve provided a couple of different text message questions to send out to your students prior to your meeting. Feel free to use one or both of the questions below. As with the rest of the curriculum, edit these questions to fit the needs of your ministry. Do your choices truly speak louder than your words? Be ready to talk about this in small group tonight. Are you choosing the right things today? Small group is going to be all about choices. It s gonna be great. Parent We ve provided you with an below that you can send to your parents following the lesson. Our hope is to encourage parents to continue the conversation at home. Feel free to edit and customize the to fit your ministry needs. Dear parents, Our small group series on the book of Genesis has been a great opportunity to challenge our students to consider the way they respond to God and live for God. This week s lesson focused on how Jacob stole Esau s blessing from Isaac, in Genesis 27. Through this example, we talked about the choices we make and how important it is to choose the right way in every circumstance. We challenged students to draw strength from the times they have made the right choice in a tricky situation and to learn from the times they didn t. I d love it if you kept this environment of self-examination going throughout the week. Consider asking the questions below as you re doing life maybe as you re driving in the car or when you re gathered around the dinner table: Talk about some decisions that affect your family (taxes, legal issues, and so on) that might have seemingly better outcomes if you made the wrong decisions instead of the right ones. Why do you do the right thing when the wrong thing might actually feel better? Can you think of some instances where a celebrity, athlete, or local or national official got caught for making the wrong decision? What could have been avoided if that person had simply chosen right?

4 What if you choose to do something that is wrong in God s eyes, yet you never get caught in other words, you re never punished for the wrong choice? Is it still wrong? I hope you have a great week and that you have some opportunities to continue this discussion. We appreciate your prayers for our ministry. Please let me know if we can serve you in any way.

5 Genesis: A View From the Beginning Week 5: Choose Correctly (Jacob) 2. LEsson guide GETTING THINGS STARTED [optional] Before your group meets, gather enough plastic containers or boxes so each student in your group can receive one; you want containers that hide their contents. Also gather a variety of food items some desirable, such as a candy bar, and others less desirable, such as a can of sardines. Ideally, most of the food items should be undesirable or unusual. Place one food item in each container or box. Welcome your students and invite them into your meeting area. Open in prayer, and then lead the activity below: Display the containers, and explain that each one contains some kind of food item. Ask for a volunteer to select one of the containers, but emphasize that the volunteer may not open, pick up, or touch the containers the decision must be made based solely on viewing the containers. And the student may not open the container yet. After the first volunteer has selected, continue through the rest of your group until everyone has an unopened container. Then have students open their containers and see what s inside. One or two teenagers may want to eat their food, but others likely will reject what they selected. ASK: How did you decide which container to choose, and how pleased were you with your choice? If I had given you total freedom to examine the containers without opening them, of course what factors might have helped you make a better decision? How was this activity similar to and different from the process of making choices in our daily lives? How do our everyday choices affect our lives and the lives of others? SAY SOMETHING LIKE: Our choices dramatically impact our lives. Some are major choices we spend lots of time considering. Others are small ones we might make without even pausing. Regardless, our lives are defined by our choices. Today we are going to look at the story of Jacob and Esau, the fifth lesson in our look at Genesis. We ll see how one choice Jacob made changed his life dramatically. Fortunately, we don t have to make totally random choices, like you were forced to do in this activity.

6 God is ready to help us make the right choices that help us develop more Christ-like character. If you came up with an opening activity, movie clip, or game that worked well with your group, and you d like to share it with other youth workers, please us at TEACHING GUIDE The goal of the Teaching Points is to help students capture the essence of each lesson with more discussion and less lecture-style teaching. The main points we have chosen here are (1) Choose to do right regardless of the outcome, (2) Wrong choices negatively impact others, not just us, and (3) Right choices align us with God s character and will. Remember: All throughout these lessons, it s up to you to choose (1) how many questions you use, and (2) the wording of the main points keep ours, or change the wording to make it clearer for your audience. Read Genesis 27:1-14, 30-35, together as a group. Consider allowing one or more of the teenagers to read the text. SAY SOMETHING LIKE: Let s examine some important ideas about right choices and wrong choices. 1. Choose to do right regardless of the outcome ASK: How many of you have brothers or sisters? What issues seem to create the biggest conflicts in your sibling relationships? What s the worst trick you ve ever pulled on a sibling or the worst one that s been pulled on you? In Genesis 25:23, God made this promise to Rebekah: The sons in your womb will become two nations. From the very beginning, the two nations will be rivals. One nation will be stronger than the other; and your older son will serve your younger son. In other words God s promise to Abraham to make a great nation would continue through Abraham s younger grandson,

7 not the older. How do you think this promise influenced Rebekah s decision to have Jacob trick his father? Jacob could have and should have resisted Rebekah s plan. Why is it often hard to resist someone who is leading you to make a choice you know is not right? Rebekah probably saw the outcome of her plan as a positive one; she was simply going about her own way of making God s promise come true. Can you think of some examples of choices that are wrong but have seemingly good outcomes? Why is it important to make the right choices regardless of the outcome? SAY SOMETHING LIKE: We sometimes make choices we know are wrong because the outcome seems positive. We cheat on a test because we need to get a good grade. We tell a lie because we think we are protecting someone from a truth that might be hurtful. God is the standard for good. When we make the right choices, we honor God with our lives. When we make the wrong choices, regardless of the outcome, we go against God and his ways. 2. Wrong choices negatively impacts others, not just us ASK: How are our wrong decisions often selfishly motivated? Give some examples. Think of a time when someone made a wrong choice that had a negative impact on you. How did that make you feel? If people know that you are a Christ-follower, how might your influence be impacted if you make a wrong choice that hurts them? How did Jacob s wrong choice hurt his brother and his father? SAY SOMETHING LIKE: We forget it sometimes, but usually we aren t the only victims of our sin. When we make wrong choices that impact others, we act in a very selfish way. We show that our concerns are more important than others. Unfortunately, this violates some pretty important commands in Scripture about how we ought to treat others. Doing right is always the best choice even though it isn t always the easy choice. It can require courage to make solid decisions and to have tough conversations. In most cases, choosing God s way will ensure that others are protected from negative consequences. But even if choosing right seems to negatively impact others, we can be assured that in the long run, God has a plan that will actually bring about good for us and for them.

8 3. Right choices align us with God s character and will ASK: If we choose well, how does that align us with Jesus and the way he lived his life? When you think about the impact your life has on the world around you, what impact does being identified with Christ and his ways have? SAY SOMETHING LIKE: God desires that you choose the right way in every circumstance. Is this because he wants you to be better than others or to look like a self-righteous know-it-all? Nope. It s because God is holy in every way. He sent his son, Jesus, to live a holy life in order to make us holy through his sacrifice. And living a holy life in other words, a life that seeks good instead of bad is a way of identifying ourselves with God through Christ. When we do this, we influence and impact the world around us. By choosing good, we show the world we belong to Christ. ADDITIONAL DISCUSSION [optional] ASK: Read Joshua 24:15. Like Joshua told the Israelites thousands of years ago, we all must make a choice. We must choose to serve God or choose not to. Why is there no in between? Why can t we sometimes choose to serve God and sometimes choose not to? What is at stake in choosing right over wrong choosing God over our own interests or the interests of the world? Read 1 Peter 1: What does this passage say about our choices and our motives? Read Matthew 5: These verses touch on the result of our good choices. What does being salt and light have to do with whether we choose to do right or wrong?

9 APPLICATION You may choose to do the following application points in a variety of combinations. Choose one or more to work through as a group. Or, do one as a group and send one to your students at some point during the week. Have students remember a time when they chose to do the right thing even when choosing the wrong thing would have worked out better for them. If they feel comfortable, have students talk about this experience. Be prepared to share your own example. Ask how it worked out for them in the long run. Some of them might be able to see how God worked the situation for their good. Others may not have that perspective yet. Encourage them to look at the examples of those who can look back with perspective. Encourage students that the outcome really should have very little bearing on our decisions; we are called to choose right because we are Christ-followers who love God and desire to honor God in every area of life. Ask if there have been times when students have not chosen rightly. If your group has developed enough trust, consider having students share these situations as well. Consider sharing an example here from your life, as well. Explain that God is a forgiving God, a God of second chances. Challenge students to look at their past mistakes and learn from them. Urge them to commit to choosing rightly because of their love for God and commitment to God, regardless of how the outcome might be. SUMMARY End your lesson here. Provide your teenagers with a quick summary or take-home challenge based on (1) the content of this lesson, (2) the dialogue that took place during the lesson, (3) your understanding of the issues and struggles your teenagers are facing, and (4) the big picture of your youth ministry and what your leadership team wants accomplished with the teaching and discussion time.

10 FOR KEEPS [MEMORY VERSE] Encourage and/or challenge your teenagers to memorize the verse below. But now you must be holy in everything you do, just as God who chose you is holy. For the Scriptures say, You must be holy because I am holy (1 Peter 1:15-16).

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