Into the Lesson
To begin class, share these creative excuses with your students, or substitute some that you have heard or used! (These examples are printed in the student books.)
I can’t come in to work; it’s Friday the thirteenth, and I’m really superstitious.
I won’t be in to work today because my dog has to have emergency cataract surgery.
I didn’t meet the deadline because I couldn’t find matching socks.
I’m locked in my car, and I have to go to the dealership so they can get me out.
There was a bomb scare at my office building, and I couldn’t call the personnel manager for my phone interview.
I can’t help it, officer; someone hypnotized me to park illegally.
Next, ask your students to share some excuses they have heard or used. After you have heard several examples, tell your students that today’s lesson deals with taking responsibility for our behavior and not making excuses to God.
Into the Word
Develop a mini-lecture from the Lesson Background to introduce today’s text. After this introduction, divide your class into three small groups of three to five students each. For larger classes create additional groups in multiples of three. Each group will cover one section of the lesson text. Distribute the following instructions, along with pencil and paper (or direct attention to the student book). Allow several minutes for each group to complete its activity.
Group #1. Read Ezekiel 18:4, 20. Identify three absolute principles stated by God in these verses. For each principle write down at least one excuse that is invalidated by that principle.
Group #2. Read Ezekiel 18:20-23, 300. Compare verse 20 with Exodus 34:6, 7. How can both passages be true? Identify three promises that God offers to the repentant sinner in Ezekiel 18:21-23, 30a. Also identify any conditions connected with those promises. What reason does God give for offering the promises?
Group #3. Read Ezekiel 18:30-32. List the steps God required for the ancient Israelite to move from spiritual death to life and to avoid God’s judgment. Explain what was involved in each step and why it was essential.
When your groups have completed their work, discuss their findings. Be sure to address the implications for evangelism, missions, and preaching today.
Assign one of the following scenarios to each group from the previous exercise. Each team is to write a brief plan of action. The plans will use today’s text to challenge the recipient(s) to take responsibility for personal actions and to allow God to renew a relationship with Him.
Scenario # 1. Kim and her two young children occasionally attend worship services at your church. She wants her boy and girl to have some religious training, since she never received any from her own parents. Kim has never been married but currently lives with her boyfriend. He is not the father of her children. She blames her parents for her situation because they showed her little affection as a child. What would you say to help her?
Scenario #2. Dave is despondent about his lifestyle. He has been in and out of treatment centers for alcohol abuse but can’t kick the habit for good. Dave’s friends and coworkers try to encourage him to stay sober but he blames them for his addiction because they drink socially. Now he’s come to your church for help. What can you do for him?
Scenario #3. Bill and Stacy have a troubled marriage. They fight often and have separated on several occasions. They have no children. Stacy blames Bill for not wanting a family, for being gone from home too often, and for failing to meet her emotional needs. Bill blames Stacy for spending too much money so that he has to work a second job to pay the bills. How can you help them?