< What I Learned Teaching Sunday School: December 2009

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas Eve

“And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a SAVIOUR, which is CHRIST the Lord.”

Happy Birthday, Jesus! Merry Christmas, All!

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Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Do You Know What I Know?

Said the night wind to the little lamb,
do you see what I see
Way up in the sky, little lamb,
do you see what I see
A star, a star, dancing in the night
With a tail as big as a kite
With a tail as big as a kite

Said the little lamb to the shepherd boy,
do you hear what I hear
Ringing through the sky, shepherd boy,
do you hear what I hear
A song, a song, high above the trees
With a voice as big as the sea
With a voice as big as the sea

Said the shepherd boy to the mighty king,
do you know what I know
In your palace warm, mighty king,
do you know what I know
A Child, a Child shivers in the cold
Let us bring Him silver and gold
Let us bring Him silver and gold

Said the king to the people everywhere,
listen to what I say
Pray for peace, people everywhere!
listen to what I say
The Child, the Child, sleeping in the night
He will bring us goodness and light
He will bring us goodness and light

I heard this song on the radio yesterday and it’s been haunting me ever since. Especially the line where the shepherd boy says to the king, “Do you know what I know?” Had I never really listened to the words before?

After seeing the star and hearing about the birth the boy shared the news. With a king! Why are we so afraid to share the message of Christmas? What’s the worst that could happen to us? A raised eyebrow? Someone whispering about us behind our back?

And what’s the worst that would happen to the person we didn’t share with? What if they NEVER know what you know?

Tell people what you know. Share with one and all what Christmas is about.

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Sunday, December 13, 2009

God Opened the Heavens and said, “I Love You!”

A friend invited us to visit his church today; Harvest Bible Chapel. He knew John would love the praise band and I would love the sermon. And I do love sermons where I learn something new and that also ignite something inside me.

The minister today talked about what it was really like for Jesus to come to earth, when and where He did. And how we need to get beyond the “familiar” of Christmas to see the scriptural. There were a couple things from his sermon I’d like to remember.

The shepherds were excited by the message the angels gave them. They ran to Bethlehem to tell others and to see the baby for themselves. The people in Bethlehem were interested in what was going on because it was unusual – kind of like us reading the news and talking about it. But, they held back. They just wondered and talked about it. But the shepherds worshipped.

We need to get excited and worship, not just sit back and wonder.

Another thing he said was that in the Christmas story in Luke 2:1-20 in one verse Jesus is referred to as Savior, Christ and Lord. Savior is really what Jesus’ name meant. Jesus is another name for Joshua, which means salvation. Christ is His deity and Lord is what He is: ruler of all. The pastor said as Christians instead of just calling Him Jesus like even unbelievers are comfortable doing, we need to call Him Lord Jesus or Jesus Christ or even The Lord Jesus Christ.

And finally he told a story about coming home from work one day and as he was getting out of the car his 2-year-old opened the front door and shouted, “Guess what! Guess what!” He couldn’t imagine what she was so excited to tell him and answered, “What?”

She said, “I LOVE YOU!”

And that’s what God did on Christmas. He opened the Heavens and said, “I have something exciting to tell you! I LOVE YOU!”

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Saturday, December 12, 2009

Hebrews 13:17-24

Hebrews 13:17-19 Obey your leaders and submit to their authority. They keep watch over you as men who must give an account. Obey them so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no advantage to you.
Pray for us. We are sure that we have a clear conscience and desire to live honorably in every way. I particularly urge you to pray so that I may be restored to you soon.

We must give our respect and obedience to those who are in authority over us. And we must pray for our leaders. I once heard this suggestion, “If you want a better pastor; pray for the one you have!”

Hebrews 13:20-24 May the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

Brothers, I urge you to bear with my word of exhortation, for I have written you only a short letter. I want you to know that our brother Timothy has been released. If he arrives soon, I will come with him to see you. Greet all your leaders and all God's people. Those from Italy send you their greetings.

The first 2 verses of this prayer draw a perfect picture of God and of Jesus. Each is in 3 parts.

1. God is the God of peace. Even in the worst of times God can bring peace to men’s souls. IT is only God that can put a man into a right relationship with Him, with other men and with eternity.

2. God is the God of life. It was God who resurrected Jesus. God gives us triumph over death. It was to obey the will of God that Jesus died. And it was the same will of God that brought Him back. For the man who obeys the will of God: death is conquered. The end is the beginning.

3. God shows us His will and He equips us to do it. God never gives us a task without giving us the power to do it. When He sends us out, He sends us armed and equipped.

The 3 things about Jesus are:

1. Jesus is the great shepherd of His sheep. This is a very familiar picture to us, though Paul never uses it and the author of Hebrews only uses it once. Sheep are foolish creatures and a shepherd puts up with that foolishness and has compassion for them. He watches them and has patience with them and goes after them when they stray.

2. Jesus established the new covenant. It was Jesus who showed us what God is like. It was Jesus who opened the door for us. It was Jesus who took away the terror and showed us God’s love.

3. Jesus is the one who died. Our relationship with God cost the blood of Jesus. He died to give us eternal life.

My application Bible wraps up the book well. It says, “Hebrews is a call to Christian maturity. It was addressed to 1st century Jewish Christians, but it applies to Christians in any age or of any background. Christian maturity means making Christ the beginning and end of our faith. To grow in maturity we must center our lives on Him, not depending on religious ritual, not falling back into sin, not trusting ourselves and not letting anything come between us and Christ. Christ is sufficient and superior.

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Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Hebrews 13: 7-16

Hebrews 13:7-8 Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.

Who does it say the leaders of the church are?

Those who spoke the word of God.

The leader draws attention to Christ, not himself. A saint has been defined before as a “man in whom Christ lives again.” The duty of a church leader or a pastor is not so much to talk to men about Christ as to show men Christ in his own life and actions.

“Consider the outcome of their life.”

They remain faithful to the end. So a church leader should be both an example and an inspiration. There have been thousands of church leaders in the past 2000 years; in all sizes, shapes and colors. They have been led by the same unchanging Jesus Christ.

And Jesus, who first chose 12 disciples to be with Him and do His work, is still seeking those who will bring men to Him and Him to men.

Hebrews 13:9-16 Do not be carried away by all kinds of strange teachings. It is good for our hearts to be strengthened by grace, not by ceremonial foods, which are of no value to those who eat them. We have an altar from which those who minister at the tabernacle have no right to eat.

The high priest carries the blood of animals into the Most Holy Place as a sin offering, but the bodies are burned outside the camp. And so Jesus also suffered outside the city gate to make the people holy through his own blood. Let us, then, go to him outside the camp, bearing the disgrace he bore. For here we do not have an enduring city, but we are looking for the city that is to come.

Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that confess his name. And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.

There were false teachings going on then. There are false teachings going on now. We need to stick to scripture. To know for ourselves what is true.

Back then the Christians were mainly Jews who had grown up with strict food laws. Leviticus 12 has most of these in it. For example, Jews don’t eat pork. But, the author is saying that it’s not what you eat or don’t eat that pleases God. Grace is what’s important. A lot of those food laws were given to keep the Israelites healthy in desert conditions.

Where the author says, Christ suffered outside the gates: criminals were crucified outside Jerusalem’s city walls. They were considered unclean. Jesus was considered a criminal, or as the Bible says, “He was numbered with the transgressors.” The author is telling Christians we need to expect and accept that too. We must be ready for separation, isolation and humiliation, just like Christ was.

Where it says, acts of praise and worship are considered sacrifices to God, we’ve heard the term of “sacrifice of praise” before. And in the next line, one commentator wrote “compassion shown to men by men is a bloodless sacrifice and holy unto God.” Jesus Himself said in Mathew 25:40 “In as much as ye have done unto one of the least of theses my brethren, ye have done unto me.”

Acts of kindness and sharing are especially pleasing to God even when they go unnoticed by others.

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Saturday, December 05, 2009

Hebrews 13

Hebrews 13:1-6 “Keep on loving each other as brothers. Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it. Remember those in prison as if you were their fellow prisoners, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering. Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral. Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, "Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you." So we say with confidence, "The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?"

My Bible calls this section “General Christian Obligations” and it’s full of well known phrases. Let’s look at the first one: brotherly love. The Bible tells us we are all brothers in Christ. We should be kind to one another: not look for faults or be unsympathetic.

The next part says we should practice hospitality. The ancient world loved and honored hospitality. Back then inns were nasty places. There used to be a system called “guest friendships” where families, even if they had lost touch years before, knew if they needed to, they could stay with each other. People were always being invited in for a cup of water or a meal. I think one of the reasons people looked forward to company like this was the lack of newspapers and TV. Talking to others, telling stories and spreading news, was entertainment.

In the early church, preachers and prophets needed places to stay and Christians needed to provide those places. Christianity should still be a religion of the open door.

Next we are told to have sympathy for those in trouble. Back when this was written Christians were often in jail; for their beliefs or their debt. The early church would go into action to supply for persons in need, or if they could, get the person out of prison.

Next: purity. Respect for marriage vows. The Bible couldn’t be any more clear, could it? Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral.

And then contentment. One commentator wrote, “The Christian must be content with what he has. And why shouldn’t he be? For he possesses the continual presence of God!
The author of Hebrews quotes 2 great Old Testament passages to show that the man of God needs nothing more than God’s presence and help.

Joshua 1:5 “No one will be able to stand up against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you.”

Psalm 118:6 “The LORD is with me; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?”

To be content we need to thank God daily for our blessings. Keep our eyes focused on Him and not TV commercials or the Jones everyone keeps trying to keep up with!

We would do our children an enormous favor if we could help them learn to be content. None of us needs as much stuff as we have!

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Friday, December 04, 2009

Hebrews 12:25-29

Hebrews 12:25-29 "See to it that you do not refuse him who speaks. If they did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, how much less will we, if we turn away from him who warns us from heaven? At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, "Once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens." The words "once more" indicate the removing of what can be shaken—that is, created things—so that what cannot be shaken may remain. Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our "God is a consuming fire."

Moses relayed the law to the people. He was the one who warned the people on earth and those who refused to obey did not escape. Jesus is the one who warns from Heaven and the author says if the punishment is so severe for breaking the law; know that it will be much more severe for not listening to Jesus!

We are actually under a double responsibility. Those back under the law only knew part of the truth. Because of Jesus, we know God’s full truth and should have no excuse for not obeying Him. It’s like the saying, “To who much is given, much is expected.”

When the first law was given, the world shook!

(Exodus 19:18) (Psalm 114:7) (Psalm 68:8) (Psalm 77:18)

The author says, someday the world will shake again. Everything that can be uprooted will be destroyed. The only things that will remain will be what can’t be shaken: our relationship with God. Jesus spoke in Matthew about the importance of building on a firm foundation.

We must worship God with reverence. We must serve Him with fear. The author ends this passage by quoting Deuteronomy 4:24 “For the LORD your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God.”

Moses told the Israelite this, but it’s true for us too. God must be first in our lives. Having a relationship with Him, being able to approach Him now, doesn’t change that. If we put God first and our faith remains unshakable – when the end comes, whether Christ comes back in our lifetime, or we die of old age - we will be safe and secure. We have a choice!

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