< What I Learned Teaching Sunday School: June 2008

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Why We Still Sin

Kevin A. Miller the executive vice president of Christianity Today International and assistant pastor at Church of the Resurrection in Glen Ellyn, Illinois wrote a very helpful article called “Why Can’t I Shake My Sins?” You can read it at Christianity Today:

Why Can't I Shake My Sins?

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Thursday, June 19, 2008

God Created Us, We Must Not Create God

I was teaching about the Bible being true and the inspired word of God and as I was finishing up working on the last lesson I heard Dr. David Jeremiah on the radio tell the story about when the Israelites were getting ready to move in to the Promised Land.

God told them to wipe out the different pagan groups who were there. Today we read that in the Bible and we can't understand why God would do that. But, the Israelites had been set apart by God. They were coming out of a long training period designed to make them Holy and God knew if they mingled with those pagans they would become more like them.

And the thing is, they didn't kill all the people. They got there and thought, "they aren't so bad, let's let some of them co-exist with us." And that's when Israel turned from loving God first and formost and above all else.

They not only disobeyed God, they started picking up on the pagan's ideas and views and mixing them with their own.

Today we have people who invent a God of their liking. They take traits of different religions and come up with something they can live with. That's not only wrong, but dangerous! Because it's made up!

As Christians, we have the Bible, and God tells us in there exactly what He's like and exactly what we are to do. And we need to share that with the world.

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Thursday, June 05, 2008

Darlene Zschech Worship Seminar at The Cove

John and I just got back from a 3-day worship leader seminar at Billy Graham’s Training Center at the Cove in Asheville. It was wonderful!

This is the first time we’ve been to The Cove and it’s beautiful. I heard staff telling guests, “We’ve been praying for you.” Apparently before a group arrives for a seminar the guest names are distributed to staff members who pray for each guest by name! The maids even pray for the people whose rooms they clean! As you get off the shuttle buses the drivers tell you to have a blessed day!

My husband has often lamented that the congregation doesn’t seem to get into a lot of the songs his Praise band leads and he asks me if they were even singing! There was no problem at The Cove’s worship services! 3 or 4 hundred worship leaders were the congregation! It was not only loud, but there was a whole lot of jumping going on!!

I learned a lot from Darlene’s sessions and also the break out worship leader session I went to. It was very inspiring!

Here’s Darlene’s website. If you’ve ever sung, “Shout to the Lord” she’s the one who wrote it! Darlene Zschech

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Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Youth Worship Service for Senior Sunday

This is a youth worship service we did on Senior Sunday and I wanted an “advice” type message for the seniors that was still meaningful to every age present. It was also outdoors so had to be “low-tech”. I used information from The Purpose Driven Life, Christianity Today and also just my own studies.

My husband was holding up a frame picture that we had used crayons to draw an image of a person where half the face was a girl and the other half a boy. Under the glass was a picture of Jesus and John (my husband) was scraping small bits of crayon off as I shared the message slowly exposing the face of Jesus.

The message:

There are 2 things really important to God. First, more than anything, He wants His lost children back. That’s why He sent Jesus to earth. He wants His children, who He created and loves, to spend eternity with Him and as Christians it’s our job to help Him by spreading the Gospel. I get that.

The other thing that is really important to God is that we become like Christ. And according to 1st Corinthians by the time we stand in front of Him in heaven we will be like Jesus. When we die some of us will be only 10% like Him and others may be 90% like Him. But, He will make up the difference then.

Our goal in life is to keep moving in that direction and becoming more and more like Christ. What I wished I had learned earlier is – think about what Jesus was like. He was humble, compassionate, strong in His faith and determined to live out God’s will. What does it take to become like that?

Trials. Problems.. People who have been through a lot of health problems will have more compassion on others going through illness. People who have been lonely are often the first to reach out to other lonely people. People whose hearts have been broken tear up when they see other people hurt. People often have to get knocked down a bit to become humble. Some – more than a bit!

Romans 8: 28-29 says, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose..”

A lot of people misquote and misunderstand these 2 verses. It doesn’t say, “God causes everything to work in the way I want it to.” And it doesn’t say, “God causes everything to have a happy ending on earth.”

These verses were written to believers. Those who love the Lord. What is our good according to God? To become like Christ. What’s it going to take to become like Christ? Trials, problems, things that will test our faith, things that give us the opportunity to show other people how God and our faith can help us get through bad things without becoming bitter or giving up.

How do you know you have faith if it’s never tested?

There is a wonderful story called ‘The Refiner’ that is based on a verse, Malachi 3:3. “He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver” and also on Isaiah 48:10 which says, “Behold, I have refined you, but not with silver, I have chosen you in the furnace of affliction.” God is the silversmith and we are the silver. The story goes, “I heard a silversmith talk about refining silver. He said, “I must sit with my eyes steadily fixed on the furnace. The silver is too precious to risk losing. If the time necessary for refining were exceeded by the slightest degree, the silver will be injured. If I take it out of the furnace too early – it won’t be purified. When the silver is in the furnace I must focus on it and not let anything distract me, waiting for the exact moment to take it out. I know the silver is pure when I can see my face reflected there.”

That’s kind of a heavy thought. Being put through trials to become refined. And don’t take this wrong – most things that happen to us are because we live in a fallen world and it’s either our sin or someone else’s sin that cause our problems. But, you’ll learn when you study Job, that they are God-filtered. And He will use them for His purposes and His Glory. He will also give us the strength to get through them and come out better if we have the right attitude.

Some of us have a long way to go before we can be as humble, compassionate, loving and sacrificial as Christ. How many more problems will it take for us to be like Him? What’s it going to take in our lives to cause that?

The author of The Purpose Driven Life, Rick Warren, says, “We are like jewels, shaped with the hammer and chisel of adversity. If a jeweler’s hammer isn’t strong enough to chip out rough edges, God will use a sledgehammer. If we’re really stubborn He uses a jackhammer. He’ll use whatever it takes. The more difficult the problem, the greater the potential for building muscle and moral fiber.”

Paul wrote, “We know that these troubles produce patience. And patience produces character.” What happens outwardly in our lives isn’t as important as what happens inside us. Our circumstances are temporary, but our character will last forever.

Peter wrote, “These troubles come to prove that your faith is pure. This purity of faith is worth more than gold.”

And James wrote, “Under pressure, your faith life is forced into the open and shows its true colors.”

See? They all talked about it. So we’d know!

Since God intends us to be like Jesus, He will allow us to go through the same experiences Jesus went through. These include: loneliness, temptation, stress, criticism, rejection and a lot more. The Bible says, Jesus learned obedience through suffering. And that He was made perfect through suffering.

In order for us to come out like Christ from all these trials we have to respond as Jesus would. Some people do become bitter and good doesn’t come from it. In order to respond like Jesus would we have to remember that God’s plan is good. God knows what is best and He has our best interests at heart.

Joseph “got it” when he told his brothers who had sold him into slavery. “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good.” In order for Joseph to become the Prime Minister of Egypt – God had to get him to Egypt! His brothers sold him as a slave to a group of Ishmaelites who (just happened?) to be on their way to Egypt!

It helps to remember what Hebrews 12:10b says, “But God is doing what is best for us, training us to live God's holy best. At the time, discipline isn't much fun. It always feels like it's going against the grain. Later, of course, it pays off handsomely, for it's the well-trained who find themselves mature in their relationship with God.”

The secret to endurance is to remember our pain is temporary, but our reward will be eternal. And we don’t ”just get through it without becoming bitter.” We are also told to give thanks in all circumstances. That’s in all circumstances, not for all circumstances.

We can thank God that He will use our problem to fulfill His purposes. And we can thank Him for His love. His wisdom. His power. His faithfulness. Etc. And we know God doesn’t leave us alone in our suffering even though it may feel like it sometimes. He is with us always. He said that and He doesn’t lie.

Like Jesus we must refuse to give up. We must be patient and persistent. Character building is a slow process. When we grasp the eternal consequences of our character development, we’ll pray fewer “comfort me” prayers and more “use this to make me more like You” prayers.

We know we are maturing when we begin to see the hand of God in the seemingly random circumstances of life. Instead of asking “Why me?” Ask, “What do You want me to learn?” Then trust God and keep on doing what’s right.

Even if you don't believe you can become more like Jesus, even if you can't see any way the old you will ever fade away, even if your friends don't believe this Christianity deal is anything more than a passing fad with you and that you will fail...Even if no one else believes in you...God does.In fact, He can already see you changing, already picture you becoming more like Jesus.

The Bible says"...those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son..."He knows you can do it. And he's planning on your seeing it through - walking with Him, relying on His Holy Spirit to guide and direct your paths while he is working everything together for your good. See, the thing is - He's planning a BIG family reunion for His lost children.

Christianity is not for wimps! But, God’s love is everlasting and His patience endures forever. Ask Him for the power to do the right thing and then expect Him to provide it.

We then led the kids in the song “I Have Decided to Follow Jesus” and closed in prayer.

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