< What I Learned Teaching Sunday School: November 2008

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

2 Thanksgiving Prayers

Here are 2 Thanksgiving prayers that would make a wonderful grace for your Thanksgiving dinner. Have a blessed holiday!


For each new morning with its light,
For rest and shelter of the night,
For health and food,
For love and friends,
For everything Thy goodness sends.

- Ralph Waldo Emerson

We Give Thanks

Our Father in Heaven,
We give thanks for the pleasure
Of gathering together for this occasion.
We give thanks for this food
Prepared by loving hands.
We give thanks for life,
The freedom to enjoy it all
And all other blessings.
As we partake of this food,
We pray for health and strength
To carry on and try to live as You would have us.
This we ask in the name of Christ,
Our Heavenly Father.

- Harry Jewell

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Tuesday, November 18, 2008

What If?

A friend emailed this to me and it reminded me of a devotion I did for Sunday School several years ago. It was for Thanksgiving weekend and about what if God took away all the things we didn’t thank Him for.

I was reading my devotion to my husband and daughter at dinner while the oven was on self-clean after cooking the turkey. I told them how the devotion had caused me to think about all the things in our house that I was thankful for and how I had gone around the house thanking God for: showers, food in the fridge, the heat, our bed, etc. etc.

Suddenly my daughter said, “Did you thank Him for the oven?” I said, “No, I didn’t, why?” and she replied, “Because it’s on fire!”

What If?

What if, GOD decided to stop leading us tomorrow because we didn't follow Him today?

What if, we never saw another flower bloom because we grumbled when GOD sent the rain.

What if, GOD didn't walk with us today because we failed to recognize it as His day?

What if, GOD took away the Bible tomorrow because we would not read it today?

What if, GOD took away His message because we failed to listen to the messenger?

What if, GOD didn't send His only begotten Son because He wanted us to be prepared to pay the price for sin.

What if, the door of the church was closed because we did not open the door of our heart?

What if, GOD stopped loving and caring for us because we failed to love and care for others?

What if, GOD would not hear us today because we would not listen to Him yesterday?

What if, GOD answered our prayers the way we answer His call to service?

What if, GOD met our needs the way we give Him our lives???
--- Author Unknown ---

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Saturday, November 15, 2008

Church Team Spirit

More sharing from Stuart Briscoe’s Nine Attitudes that Keep a Christian Going and Growing.

Here's what he says about team spirit.

1 Corinthians 12:4-13There are different kinds of spiritual gifts, but the same Spirit is the source of them all. There are different kinds of service, but we serve the same Lord. God works in different ways, but it is the same God who does the work in all of us.

A spiritual gift is given to each of us so we can help each other. To one person the Spirit gives the ability to give wise advice; to another the same Spirit gives a message of special knowledge. The same Spirit gives great faith to another, and to someone else the one Spirit gives the gift of healing. He gives one person the power to perform miracles, and another the ability to prophesy. He gives someone else the ability to discern whether a message is from the Spirit of God or from another spirit. Still another person is given the ability to speak in unknown languages, while another is given the ability to interpret what is being said. It is the one and only Spirit who distributes all these gifts. He alone decides which gift each person should have.

The human body has many parts, but the many parts make up one whole body. So it is with the body of Christ. Some of us are Jews, some are Gentiles, some are slaves, and some are free. But we have all been baptized into one body by one Spirit, and we all share the same Spirit .”

The Phrase esprit de corps is drummed into members of the military. The term literally means “spirit of a body”. But the idea was: individual soldiers could achieve certain things, but a regiment could accomplish the unimaginable.

It’s true in the Christian church too.

In order to generate this spirit in a church we must emphasize our common experience. Too many times when we get together we only talk about our differences. This can be destructive. We need to realize that as Christians we have far more things in common, then not.

One thing we have in common: if we’ve entered into a relationship with Jesus, it’s because God took the initiative. He got our attention. He touched our lives. He turned us around. He transformed us. Also, we all serve the same Lord. Paul wrote that no one can say Jesus is Lord, and mean it, unless he has the Holy Spirit in him. And we all experience the working of the Holy Spirit, convicting us of sin, convincing us of the truthfulness of Christ and converting us to a new lifestyle.

Besides our common experiences, we also have a common good. This means when I experience the working of God in my life it’s not purely for my own benefit. I’m supposed to use it to help the body of believers.

Paul points out in this passage that we all have different backgrounds. The people he was talking to were Jews, Gentiles, free or slaves. He also pointed out that they had different callings.

And then in verse 18 he says, “God arranged the parts in the body, everyone of them just as he wanted them to be.” By that Paul meant God has taken individual Christians from differing circumstances and has placed them in the body in different ways to do different things. All of us, uniquely different, are designed for the good of the body.

At a meeting of the American Psychological Association, Jack Lipton, a psychologist at Union College, and R. Scott Builione, a graduate student at Columbia University, presented their findings on how members of the various sections of 11 major symphony orchestras perceived each other. The percussionists were viewed as insensitive, unintelligent, and hard-of-hearing, yet fun-loving. String players were seen as arrogant, stuffy, and unathletic. The orchestra members overwhelmingly chose “loud” as the primary adjective to describe the brass players. Woodwind players seemed to be held in the highest esteem, described as quiet and meticulous, though a bit egotistical. Interesting findings, to say the least! With such widely divergent personalities and perceptions, how could an orchestra ever come together to make such wonderful music? The answer is simple: regardless of how those musicians view each other, they subordinate their feelings and biases to the leadership of the conductor. Under his guidance, they play beautiful music.

Another way we generate team spirit in the church is by emphasizing a common objective. The human body has many parts, but the many parts make up one whole body. So it is with the body of Christ

What he’s saying when he says “So it is with Christ” is that the church is an extension of Christ. Because we identify with Christ we must also identify with each other. The objective of the church is to make an invisible Christ visible, an intangible Christ tangible.

We are to be the mechanical means whereby the dynamic Christ touches people’s lives. Sometimes we just simply say we are His hands and feet.

The true church of Jesus Christ also demonstrates a unity that allows diversity. God created all of our differences. He loves the variety! God’s work demands all kinds of love, compassion, flexibility and openness. It’s one thing that makes us different from a Country Club or social club.

When people ask someone about their church they will often talk about the building or the programs. But, the church isn’t somewhere to go. It’s something we are. We are the body of Christ. If we don’t even know what the church is, how can we know what it’s suppose to do and how we can do it?

Right after this passage is the great Love passage 1 Corinthians 13. It’s where Paul reminds us to create a loving, concerned atmosphere, by cultivation and demonstrating genuine interest in people. By encouraging their questions, by accepting their uniqueness while welcoming them into our fellowship. And we do it out of love for Christ so His purposes won’t be hindered.

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Monday, November 03, 2008

Youth Worship Service on Patience

We’ve been doing worship services on the different Fruits of the Spirit and this months was Patience. Here’s what we came up with:

Hosanna – opening song – kind of loud

The Freedom We Know

This month’s fruit of the spirit is Patience. God will put us in situations that test our patience because that’s how we get more patience. This happens with interruptions, inconvenience, irritation and inactivity. (or waiting) If you think about it we’re really the most impatient when we’re being selfish, because that’s when things are getting in the way of “my needs, my goals, my schedule.” So if we want to develop patience we need to look at things through a different perspective.

We need to know that we are not in control of most things that happen. We need to know that we can’t keep all the traffic lights green as we drive up to them, or the people in front of us in the check out line from asking questions or paying for what they’re buying with 500 pennies that they have to count out – twice!

We have to remember that we are only human. And we need to remember that everyone else is only human too.

Patience is a mark of maturity. And maturity gives us the ability to wait and live with delayed gratification.

It helps to develop a sense of humor. Humor dissolves tension. If you can laugh at it you can live with it. And than to look at things from a loving perspective. Love is patient.

When people irritate us, when bad things happen to us, and we praise God thru it all, if it’s Satan trying to get at us, he’ll eventually give up when he realizes he can’t penetrate the wall of praise around our life.

But, you can’t say, “I’m going to be patient if it kills me.” It’s not will power. Patience is a form of faith. It says, “I trust God. I believe that God is bigger than this problem. And I believe that God has His hand in these irritations and can use them in my life for good. So I’m going to wait and watch and see what He does with this.”

Right now there is a lot going on in the world that is testing our patience.

Kids don’t feel it that much because we adults do try to shield you from that kind of stress. But, this election and the direction our country is taking in so many areas, the stock market and people losing their savings, people losing their jobs and homes. It’s a very tough time.

Faith helps us look at life from God’s point of view. It helps us ask, “God, what do you want me to learn from this?” Instead of, “Why did this happen?”

Some people think all this financial stuff going on is a huge wake up call from God about the way many of us spend money. There was a lot of greed involved in the whole situation. Not just the banks and Wall Street, but the individual people who wanted to live lives they couldn’t afford to. Keeping up with the Joneses is just another way of coveting your neighbor.

As far as the country and its many problems is concerned, we’ve turned our backs on God over and over again. For over 200 years we’ve been a blessed nation because we gave Him credit. We put His names on things. We’re not doing that anymore. We’ve put other gods before Him.

But, the Bible says in 2nd Chronicles 7:14 “if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”

Noah had to wait 120 years for the promised rain to come. Abraham had to wait 100 years for a son. Moses waited 40 years in the desert and then another 40 years leading the Israelites to the Promised Land. Those are all long times to be patient! Look how long people waited for the Messiah to come. Look how long we’ve been waiting for Him to come back! The Bible is a book about waiting. Why? Because waiting demonstrates faith and faith pleases God.

The hardest kind of waiting comes when you’re in a hurry and God isn’t. It’s hard to be patient when you’re waiting for an answer to prayer, but it’s a test of faith. God’s timing is perfect. Psalm 37:7 says, “Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for Him.” He may not move on our schedule (and usually doesn’t) but He is always on time and He wants us to show we trust Him and are willing to wait on Him.

Lord, we are only a tiny part of this nation, but we cry out to You. Make us people who show our trust in You every single day. Please bless our country.
We pray that the election’s turn out is Your will and that good comes out of this financial crisis, but much more importantly we pray that we spend our lives and all of eternity praising You. As always we come to You through Your Son, Jesus, and it’s in His Holy name we pray. Amen.

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Sunday, November 02, 2008

Minstry with Others - Part 4

The Ephesians encouraged Apollos to help Christians elsewhere and supplied him with letters of recommendation. He went off to Corinth where he was warmly received. So warmly, infact that for a while the believers were divided. Some liked Paul’s style of preaching and some Apollos’ and they actually argued about who was best. But, Paul quickly put an end to this telling them they weren’t following Paul or Apollos, but Christ.

Paul wrote his letter, 1st Corinthians from Ephesus in response to distressing reports he heard. The church, which Paul had started, sent a letter to Paul with a glowing report of the spiritual gifts they were receiving and wonderful things they were hearing, but they also asked several questions related to church life and Christian faith that made Paul realize they were “puffed up” over their so-called “wisdom”, talents and what they believed was spiritual maturity.

Their questions were of minor importance and totally blind to gross sins, that if continued, would bring spiritual ruin to any church. So he wrote them a letter, which became 1st Corinthians.

His letter covered things like:

1.Their grave dissensions over personalities brought about by pride (chapters 1-4)
2.Outrageous gross immorality (chapter 5)
3.Lawsuits between Christians brought before pagan judges (chapter 6)
4.He answers questions about marriage (chapter 7)
5.Food offered to idols (chapter 8-10)
6.Church worship and communion (chapter 11)
7.Spiritual gifts (chapter 12-14)
8.Resurrection of the body (chapter 15)

People get puffed up over learning scripture, head knowledge, and totally neglect the basic principles of knowing God’s wisdom and will, especially in regard to moral conduct and ethical principals. Doctrinally, they had received much yet their lives were so far from right Paul called them immature, worldly babes.

When God calls us to be His children He calls us to live lives according to our place in Christ and His call empowers us to do this.

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