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Weekly Supplemental Teaching Plans



Explore the Bible

September 16, 2007

Strive for Godly Perfection
Gregory T. Pouncey

Matthew 5:20-26,38-48

Before the Session


Provide Explore the Bible learner guides and pencils/pens for each learner.



The Standard to Exceed (Matt. 5:20)


Ask learners to read Matthew 5:20 in their learner guides and underline the standard Jesus called His followers to exceed.

Ask: Why do people today generally have a negative view of the Pharisees?

Explain that the Pharisees were the most respected of all the religious parties in Jesus’ day, which added to the shock value of what He said. The Pharisees:

  • Viewed the entirety of the Old Testament as authoritative.
  • Accepted both the written and the oral law.
  • Kept the Sabbath rituals, tithed, and observed purification meals.
  • Taught that the way to God was through obedience to the Law.


  • Why was the Pharisees’ righteousness inadequate?
  • How does the Pharisees standard of righteousness compare with the popular notion that people can be saved if their good outweighs their bad?
  • Read Romans 4:1-5. What kind of righteousness did Paul recommend in this passage?

Read the following excerpt from the Fall 2007 issue of Biblical Illustrator regarding the expectation of Jesus:

The Righteousness of the Scribes and the Pharisees 

The righteousness Jesus referred to, on the other hand, exceeds pharisaic or scribal righteousness in kind rather than in degree. Jesus was not teaching the need to outscore the scribes and the Pharisees. Heart function or condition is vastly more important than outward performance.    

Jesus did not ask for more obedience—He asked for deeper obedience. So He proceeded to illustrate the meaning of Matthew 5:20 by offering six stunning illustrations. One example will satisfactorily make the point. In this section Jesus was saying in so many words, “OK, how does this new teaching relate to Exodus 20:13, and to the interpretation of the extremist Pharisee, ‘Do not murder’?” Jesus identified the root of murder—anger! So the clear teaching is that a person can assassinate a friend or an enemy without ever using a physical weapon (Matt. 5:21-26). The righteousness Jesus upheld, therefore, was not one that could be tallied on a score card; it was instead a matter of the heart.

Source: Jackson, Paul. (2007). The Righteousness of the Scribes and the Pharisees. Biblical Illustrator, 34(1), 16-19.


  • Which is more difficult to maintain—righteousness of heart or righteousness of action?
  • How are the two related?
  • In what ways do we “tally the score” of righteousness and expect to be rewarded for it?
  • Why is this an inadequate way of approaching righteousness?
  • How can we live our lives in a way that expresses genuine righteousness and exceeds legalistic righteousness?



Behavior Toward Friends (Matt. 5:21-26)


Ask learners to read Matthew 5:21-26 and make a list of ways that Jesus continued to explain how the attitude behind murder could lead to other destructive behaviors. These included:

  • Anger toward a brother (v. 22)
  • Verbal abuse against a brother (v. 22)
  • Refusing to forgive (vv. 23-26)

Read the following article:

Temper, tempter!

DORA, Ala. (BP)--"Keep your shirt on!" A couple of centuries ago, only a very well-to-do gentleman owned several shirts, so getting into a fight was no reason to ruin what might very well be your one and only. Too, fabrics were homespun, coarser, and more constricting, so a common step before launching into a fight was to remove one's shirt.

For example, Sam and Ben have words; Sam then sees Ben unbuttoning his shirt. Unless Sam is eager to fight Ben, Sam will cry out, "Keep your shirt on!" In other words, "Let's not be hasty about getting into a fight." Today "keep your shirt on" still means "don't be in such a hurry," but it no longer refers to preparing angrily for a fight.

How does the Bible word it? "Do not let the sun go down on your anger" (Eph. 4:26b). Heard that before, haven't you? But can you quote the next verse, which is the completion of the sentence? "And don't give the devil an opportunity" (Eph. 4:27). In other words, lose your temper and attract the tempter. Grudge-holding is wrong, and the only thing it accomplishes is to show Satan the chink in your armor.

Certainly situations will arise that make us angry and sometimes downright furious. But as followers of the Gentle Lamb of God, what are we to do? Get over it. If we refuse to do so, we open up a wound through which Satan's forces invade our spirit and fester our feelings of self-pity and woundedness. Next thing you know, you're ready to give somebody, maybe even anybody, a piece of your mind. All of us know at least one person who's given so many people a piece of his mind, he doesn't have much left to work with!

Source: Bates, Judy Woodward (2007, March 27). Temper tempter. Retrieved September 4, 2007, from www.baptistpress.com.


  • How do you “keep your shirt on” when you are angry with someone?
  • Why did Jesus view uncontrolled anger as a detriment?

Say: We can exhibit genuine righteousness by refusing to be angry with or express contempt for other Christians and by seeking reconciliation in broken relationships.



Behavior Toward Difficult People (Matt. 5:38-42)


Ask learners to read Matthew 5:38-42 and list the types of difficult people that Jesus included in these verses. These might include:

  • Those bent toward doing evil (v. 39)
  • Those who insult others (v. 39)
  • Those who steal (v. 40)
  • Those who overpower others (v. 41)
  • Those who want something from others (v. 42)

Read the description of the book Sandpaper People: Dealing with the Ones Who Rub You the Wrong Way by Mary Southerland.

Everybody deals with them—people who rub you the wrong way, often leaving abrasions behind!

Mary Southerland goes beyond just giving good advice on how to handle tough relationships. Using examples from her own painful experiences, a readily applicable format—and a dusting of humor and intriguing “Sandpaper Facts” throughout—she frames key principles of relating to rub–you–the–wrong–way types such as...

  • be loving—recognize their worth
  • be humble—choose against pride
  • be encouraging—become their cheerleader
  • be strong—develop endurance
  • be committed—refuse to walk away

Readers will see how God, using the difficult people in their lives, is reshaping them into men and women who can express His forgiveness, mercy, and tender affection.

Source: This book and description are available at www.harvesthousepublishers.com.

Divide learners into 5 groups, assigning each group one of the types of difficult people that appears in the list above. Using Southerland’s suggestions about how to deal with sandpaper people, ask them to suggest ways they should properly respond to their type of difficult person.

Say: We exhibit genuine righteousness by being generous to those who are difficult, demanding, or undeserving.



Behavior Toward Enemies (Matt. 5:43-47)


Ask learners to read Matt. 5:43-47 and underline ways that we should properly respond to those whom we consider as enemies. Answers might include:

  • Love your enemies (v. 44)
  • Pray for your enemies (v. 44)
  • Speak kindly to your enemies (v. 47)

Read the excerpt from CNN’s review of Spiderman 3:

The blockbuster ethos always demands, "More! More! MORE!" Raimi (who also cowrote the screenplay with his brother Ivan) is happy to oblige, stacking the movie with no less than three villains: first Peter Parker's old friend and rival Harry Osborn (James Franco), aka the New Goblin; then escaped convict Flint Marko (Thomas Haden Church), aka Sandman; and finally ambitious news photographer Eddie Brock (Topher Grace), aka Venom.

For one of life's good guys, Parker sure has a way of picking up enemies.

He even manages to alienate girlfriend Mary Jane (Kirsten Dunst), who suffers a career setback just as Parker is being handed the keys of the city by Gwen Stacy (Bryce Dallas Howard). Seems like Peter's head is getting too big for his mask these days.

Source: Charity, Tom (2007, May 3). Review: 'Spider-Man 3' mixes highs and lows. Retrieved September 4, 2007 from www.cnn.com.


  • Why is it sometimes easy for “good guys” to “pick up enemies?”
  • What are some specific steps of love we can take toward those who may dislike us?

Say: We exhibit genuine righteousness by loving those who cause us physical or emotional harm.



The Standard to Seek (Matt. 5:48)


Emphasize that there are two approaches to interpreting this passage.

  • The Greek word for perfect literally can mean “mature, whole or complete.” The first interpretation is that Jesus was calling for spiritual maturity.
  • The second interpretation is that Jesus set an “unattainable standard” that sums up what the Law demands. It causes us to realize that only through Christ can we meet the standard.


  • What standards do you strive to achieve that you have not yet attained?
  • What keeps you striving toward those standards even though you have not achieved them yet?
  • What motivates you to strive toward Christian maturity?

Say: We are to strive for godly perfection, which is the highest form of genuine righteousness.

Encourage learners to exhibit genuine righteousness by striving for godly perfection, and close with a prayer of commitment.




EXTRA! is a supplement designed to enhance and expand the effectiveness of printed curriculum provided by LifeWay Church Resources.

EXTRA! is produced by Publishing Services and Multimedia, LifeWay Church Resources, Copyright 2007, LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention.

SPECIAL NOTE: Some Internet addresses given in EXTRA! are outside the LifeWay Internet domain. Because of the changing nature of the Web, EXTRA! editors cannot be held responsible for content on pages outside their control. At the time of this posting, the specific pages mentioned have been viewed and approved by the EXTRA! editorial staff. However, at the time of your viewing, the information on these pages may have changed. Links from the specific page addresses referenced in this material possibly could link to inappropriate material.


Weekly Supplemental Teaching Plans



Bible Studies for Life
Bible Studies for Life EXTRA

September 16, 2007

Facing the Fiery Furnace
Dana Armstrong

Daniel 3:1-2,4-6,8,12-14,16-18,24-26,28

Before the Session


Bring enough modeling clay for groups of 2-4 learners.



Daniel 3:1-2,4-6

Enlist a volunteer to read Daniel 3:1-2,4-6 aloud.

Explain that King Nebuchadnezzar erected an idol that was approximately 90 feet high and could be seen for fifteen miles across the plain of Dura. To understand the magnitude of building such an idol, consider that the Statue of Liberty is 151 feet tall and weighs 225 tons. It took 2 years to erect the assembled parts on the pedestal at Liberty Island. Although Nebuchadnezzar’s idol was a little smaller, this gives us a good idea of how massive this statue was and how laborious it must have been to erect such an idol. When the idol was completed, King Nebuchadnezzar called the satraps, prefects, governors, counselors, treasurers, judges, magistrates and rulers of provinces to attend his dedication. As all of his governmental officials stood in court, a command was given to all the people. When they heard the sound of the music from all kinds of instruments, they were to fall down and worship the golden image. Anyone who failed to fall down and worship immediately would be cast into the furnace of fire.

Say: Persecution is still present in our world today. In the last century, 45.5 million Christians have been martyred for their faith.


  • How do you define persecution?
  • How do you define martyrdom? 

Read the following titles of press releases. Be sure to note that these were just a few acts of persecution noted in the month of August.

  • Christian Leaders Detained in Zimbabwe for Unauthorized Prayer Meeting
  • Uzbekistan Christian Could Face Five Years in Prison for Hosting Worship Services
  • Kidnapped Pastor Rescued by Fellow Believers in India
  • Hindu Radicals Beat Up Pastor and Church Members
  • Missing Christian Girls Married Off to Muslims (Pakistan)
  • Five Years Imprisonment for Hosting Worship Services (Uzbekistan)
  • Egypt: Government Extends Jail Time for Christian Right Workers
  • Beheading Video Used to Threaten Iraqi Christians
  • Two missionaries Beaten in North India
  • Church Attacked and Stoned
  • In Ethiopia a Church Packed with About 500 Believers Were Attacked with Bomb
  • Saudis Might Take Bibles From Christian Tourists
  • Kazakhstan Baptist Fear More Persecution

Countries where Christians are persecuted currently: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Belarus, Bhutan, China, Cuba, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, European Union, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Islam, Jordan, North Korea, Laos, Maldives, Morocco, Myanmar, Nepal, Nigeria, Pakistan, Palestine, Saudi Arabia, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Syria, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, Uzbekistan, Vietnam, Yemen.

Say: In America, persecution is hard to define or even understand fully. While most Christians may not face physical abuse or martyrdom because of their beliefs, we are often mocked or persecuted when we refuse to conform to the world’s standards. In fact, many of our religious freedoms are being taken away subtly. There may come a day when American Christians may suffer as our brothers and sisters do around the world.   


  • How are people of faith tempted to join in various forms of idolatry?
  • Are you ready and willing to stand up under demands that may be placed on you to conform to the world and disobey God?
  • What will you do today to prepare to stand against worldly influences?



Daniel 3:8,12-14

Enlist a volunteer to read Daniel 3:8,12-14 aloud.

Explain that in these verses, we again we see the Chaldeans, who consisted of the conjurers, sorcerers, magicians and wise men in King Nebuchadnezzar’s court. These probably were the same Chaldeans from chapter 1, who possibly held a grudge against Daniel and his friends because of their ability to interpret the king’s dream when they were unable to do so. We find this same group coming before the king, offering false flattery to gain his full attention as they attempted to bring judgment and death to Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. According to verse 12, the Chaldeans asserted, "There are some Jews you have appointed to manage the province of Babylon: Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. These men have ignored you, the king; they do not serve your gods or worship the gold statue you have set up." King Nebuchadnezzar was furious and had the three young men brought before him to ask them if the accusations were true. 


  • What types of “idol worship” do you see in the world today?
  • What makes it harder to distinguish these as idols in our lives when we compare them to the statue Nebuchadnezzar built?
  • What can we do to resist idolatry? 
Create play in the learning environment. Many adults have lost the ability to have fun while learning. Arrange learners into groups of two or four. Provide modeling clay for each group, and ask learners to shape a representation of idols with which people wrestle today. Then have the groups present their work and explain their idols. Ask each group to tear apart or destroy their idols in front of the class after their presentations. Remember to connect this activity with how we can and should destroy real idols in our lives

Say: Idols come in many shapes and forms. Satan may not bring something as obvious as a 90 foot golden statue to test our faith and commitment to God. He is more likely to use subtle influences to cause us to forget that only God is worthy of our worship. We must remember that an idol is only a representation or symbol of an object of worship; it bears the appearance of something important, though it is without substance.



Daniel 3:16-18


Enlist a volunteer to read Daniel 3:16-18.

Read the following excerpt from Beth Moore’s study on the Book of Daniel:

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego bowed to God alone. No man or idol was worthy of their worship. The kind of bowing pictured in the third chapter of Daniel was worship, not demonstration of respect. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were caught in neither the superiority nor inferiority of Babylonian thinking. With their hands, they’d serve anyone. With their knees, however, they’d bow to no one but God.

When summoned before the king, there is no doubt Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were aware of the reason. We find them standing before the king, firmly resolute in not bowing before King Nebuchadnezzar’s idol. They did not argue, they did not try to plead their case, they did not even tremble in fear. Instead they were confident in the God they serve, choosing to only bow their knee to the one who is worthy of their praise, the Almighty God. They were fearless, boldly telling Nebuchadnezzar that the God they serve is able to deliver them from the furnace of blazing fire. They go one step further by telling the king, “we are not going to serve your gods or worship the golden image you have set up.”

Source: Moore, Beth (2006). Daniel: Lives of Integrity, Words of Prophecy. Nashville: LifeWay Press, p. 54.


  • What kinds of gods challenge people in our culture to submit?
  • When and how should we prepare for temptations to bow to idol gods.

Say: We should not wait until we are in the moment to decide whom we will worship. These three young men made a decision not to bow, and it did not happen out of momentary passion. It resulted from intimate fellowship with the God they served. They knew Him personally and knew how powerful He was. They had chosen long before that meeting with King Nebuchadnezzar whom they would serve.


  • Have you chosen whom you will serve?
  • Do you devote time to developing an intimate relationship with God, and how important is this relationship to you?
  • What idols in your life need to be destroyed because they are not worthy of your worship?



Daniel 3:24-26,28

Enlist a volunteer to read Daniel 3:24-26,28.

Explain that after Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego’s refusal to bow to Nebuchadnezzar’s golden image, judgment was passed on them. King Nebuchadnezzar was so angry that his feelings toward these three young men changed. There is no doubt that Nebuchadnezzar knew them well, for he highly respected them after Daniel interpreted his dream. They were among the “wise men” of Babylon. Nebuchadnezzar must have felt betrayed because of their rejection of his command to worship the idol he had created. He ordered the furnace to be heated seven times hotter and tied them up. The fire was so hot that the men taking them to the fire were killed.

Say: Nebuchadnezzar stood in amazement when he saw four men walking freely in the fire. He even described the “form of the fourth” as like the Son of God (v. 25).


  • What was King Nebuchadnezzar’s response to the miracle in the fiery furnace?
  • Do you think King Nebuchadnezzar finally believed in the God of Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego? Explain your answer.

Read the following article:

The Miracle of Love & Grace

EL CAJON, Calif. (BP)--Does God still perform miracles? Ask missionary Bertha Smith. During her early days in China, she settled in the only place she could find in the village of Tsining -- an ox stall in a villager’s barn. 

The flies nearly drove her crazy -- house flies, horse flies, black, green ... “Lord,” she prayed, “I just can’t eat with those flies all over my food. Please take them away or enable me not to mind them.” From that moment, not a fly flew into the ox stall.

But that wasn’t the greatest miracle. The villagers turned from idols to God because of her ministry. “If those people were born of the Spirit,” she wrote in "Go Home and Tell," “that was the greatest miracle.... Flies have no enmity against God; but when a human being realizes he is deserving of hell ... and willingly turns away from sin and chooses Christ ..., that is a miracle!”

Has God ever given you a miracle? Or do you wonder why not? Perhaps you’re overlooking the greatest of His miracles -- His love and grace. Romans 5:8 says, “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

When we come to God through the shed blood of Jesus, we’re raised (resurrected) from death to life -- a miracle for us! “And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins,” (Ephesians 2:1).

Soon the Lord Jesus is coming in the clouds. And according to 1 Thessalonians 4:16, “the dead in Christ will rise first.” The dust of dead and buried saints is reconstituted into glorified bodies -- a miracle.

But the spiritual resurrection of our souls from death to life at the moment of conversion is equally miraculous. “But God ... because ... He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ,” (Ephesians 2:4-5).

We were utterly dead within (without God), separated from eternal life, wrapped in guilt and sin, helpless and hell-bound. But Jesus quickened us, crying, “Awake, you who sleep, arise from the dead!” (Ephesians 5:14). He made us alive who were dead in sin -- a true miracle.

We can’t change the past -- hence we have guilt. But when Christ comes into our lives, we have a new beginning: "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new," (2 Corinthians 5:17). "Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow" (Isaiah 1:18). "I have swept away your sins like the morning mists," (Isaiah 44:22 NLT).

At conversion, your past was revisited, your record wiped clean, your mistakes forgotten, your sin forgiven, your guilt removed and your soul set free -- a miracle.

In coming to Christ, we also find the power to begin living a new kind of life. God works in us both to will and to do His good pleasure (Philippians 2:13).

A Vietnam Vet living on the streets, on crutches, was panhandling for money. After hearing Philippians 1:6, he gave his life to Christ. “The Lord moved in and ... put all my depression and hatred into a bottle and threw it away.” Frank is now a mission director. Christ has changed millions of lives -- a miracle.

In Christ we’re given a new hope with the promises of God. Christians awake saying, “This is the day the LORD has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it,” (Psalm 118:24). We close our eyes saying, “You alone, O LORD, make me dwell in safety,” (Psalm 4:8).

Day by day, the Lord meets our needs, answers our prayers and increases our optimism. We have an inner bedrock of hope that enables us to rejoice in the Lord. How do such peace, love and joy come into our hearts? -- a miracle.

If you think you’ve never seen a miracle, think again. You haven’t been passed over. The Christian life is supernatural, and all God’s children have experienced miracles. All His children are miracles. You are a miracle, too!

Source: Jeremiah, David. The Miracle of Love & Grace. Retrieved September 4, 2007 from www.lifeway.com.

Say: Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego experienced a miracle that day in Babylon because they obeyed God and refused to compromise despite the perceived consequences. As His children, we also must resolve to be obedient despite the persecution we may face. It is necessary for us to evaluate our lives to see if we have allowed any idols to be set up in our hearts and in our homes. We then need to take steps to destroy those idols. Choose today whom you will serve.

Close the session with prayer.




EXTRA! is a supplement designed to enhance and expand the effectiveness of printed curriculum provided by LifeWay Church Resources.

EXTRA! is produced by Publishing Services and Multimedia, LifeWay Church Resources, Copyright 2007, LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention.

SPECIAL NOTE: Some Internet addresses given in EXTRA! are outside the LifeWay Internet domain. Because of the changing nature of the Web, EXTRA! editors cannot be held responsible for content on pages outside their control. At the time of this posting, the specific pages mentioned have been viewed and approved by the EXTRA! editorial staff. However, at the time of your viewing, the information on these pages may have changed. Links from the specific page addresses referenced in this material possibly could link to inappropriate material.