< What I Learned Teaching Sunday School: January 2009

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Let Go and Let God T-shirts and Gifts

As Christians God tells us He'll take care of us. That we should cast our burdens upon Him. So why don't we do it? Remind yourself of this gift with our Let Go Let God t-shirts, mousepads, buttons, notecards, calendars, pillows, teddy bears and more.

http://www.cafepress.com/givitup/6375365

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Tuesday, January 20, 2009

What to Pray for a New President

Mark Labberton a pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Berkeley, California, wrote a timely article over at Christianity Today called What to Pray for a New President, Seeking God's blessing for a pluralistic, conflicted, and divided nation.

Click here to read

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Sunday, January 18, 2009

More thoughts from “A Vision of His Glory”

Rev.2:12-17 To the angel of the church in Pergamum write: These are the words of him who has the sharp, double-edged sword. I know where you live—where Satan has his throne. Yet you remain true to my name. You did not renounce your faith in me, even in the days of Antipas, my faithful witness, who was put to death in your city—where Satan lives. Nevertheless, I have a few things against you: You have people there who hold to the teaching of Balaam, who taught Balak to entice the Israelites to sin by eating food sacrificed to idols and by committing sexual immorality. Likewise you also have those who hold to the teaching of the Nicolaitans. Repent therefore! Otherwise, I will soon come to you and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, I will give some of the hidden manna. I will also give him a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to him who receives it.

Lotz writes about this, “Jesus is saying with the double-edged sword of truth – you are surrounded by intelligence. You are surrounded by “religion”, but look at me. I’m the truth. The Bible is my Word! It is true on both sides of the sword – heaven and hell, salvation and judgment, God and the devil. It is the truth and you can’t accommodate truth to the world around you or it ceases to be truth!”

In today’s world it is so easy to accommodate the different beliefs. New age religion is an example. It’s all over the place. Everything is about tolerance and those who preach straight from the Bible are looked down on.

People work to make God into what they want Him to be. And if someone calls them on that they say something like “Well, how could your God let a child die? My God would never do that.” And because some Christians don’t know how to answer that or they feel like they have over and over, but it doesn’t seem to do any good – they let it slide. They accommodate to others. Their faith turns “private” “personal”. And that’s not what Jesus told us to do or be. He told us to be lights and salt. To spread the Gospel.

So the Christians at Pergamum had some failures. But, Jesus did applaud them for their loyalty and faithfulness to Him. He even named one of the believers who had been faithful even to death. For those who have been criticized for their testimony of Jesus, this section is an encouragement. Jesus tells them He knows what kind of society they live in. Where Satan rules. He knows what it’s like and He thanks them for remaining loyal and faithful. But then He tells them He has a few things against them.

He mentions the people teaching of Balaam and the people who hold to the teaching of the Nicolations. These groups apparently distorted, diluted and denied the truth of God’s Word. They caused people to stumble and doubt it.

Today these are people who are false teachers. They profess to give out God’s Word while destroying people’s faith in it. Think religion classes at a lot of universities. Think some churches who are more worried about numbers and attendance then preaching the truth. I stumbled across a website called Rapture Ready.com and it had a letter to people who will be left behind and who go on line trying to figure out what had just happened. One of the things it said is that the Sunday after the rapture the churches will be packed. And some of the well-known “Christian” leaders will be scrambling to explain the whole thing away.

Jesus warned us about false teachers. We are responsible personally for knowing the Bible and whether what they are saying fits or not. Jesus in this section isn’t warning the false teachers. He’s warning us about them. I love to listen to Christian radio. And I learn a lot from it, but even there you have to be careful. Some speakers and preachers, to be more entertaining, start embellishing some things, watering down others, so that people will enjoy listening to them.

Jesus says in Rev.2:16a again, “Repent Therefore!” He says Stop! Stop embellishing God’s word. Stop allowing seeds of doubt to be planted in your mind!”

Remember how Satan began his deception with Eve in the garden? He said, “Yes, but did God really say…” He caused just a little doubt about God’s word.
Lotz wrote here, we do not stand in judgment over God’s word. God’s word stands in judgment over us. We may not understand everything in the Bible, but we can accept it as the inspired, authoritative, inerrant word of God. Why would God allow something to be in the Bible if He doesn’t want it there and then call it His word?

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Friday, January 16, 2009

Thoughts from “A Vision of His Glory”

Here are some thoughts I had from reading Anne Graham Lotz's views of Revelation 1:12a in the book The Vision Of His Glory when the apostle John turned around to see Jesus: “I turned around to see the voice that was speaking to me.”

The turning around to look at God can mean wanting not just to hear the word, but to see and know the person behind the word.

Lotz asks if when we read the Bible, do we read it to familiarize ourselves with facts? Or grow in our knowledge of the truth? Or so we can live by and obey it so we might be blessed? These are all good intentions, but the ultimate purpose of God’s Word is to reveal God so we can know Him personally.

Lots of times we focus on the hands of God. What He has or hasn’t done for us. What we want Him to do. Instead of focusing on the face of God – simply who He is.

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Saturday, January 10, 2009

Finding Hope in the Book of Revelation

I’ve read Anne Graham Lotz’ book, The Vision Of His Glory
several times. But, I am finally writing up a Sunday School lesson from it.

For all those who haven’t studied the book of Revelation because they think they won’t understand the symbolism or it’s too frightening to think about the end of the world. Read this book. It explains so well that Revelation is meant to give us a fresh vision of Jesus Christ. As King. And that it is meant to give us hope in trials.

Reading this book along with the Bible is a great way to study Revelation.

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Thursday, January 08, 2009

A Wonderful New Year

I subscribe to Our Prayer newsletter. Today I read a short and really good article about how to have a wonderful 2009 by Dr Norman Vincent Peale.

Make this a prosperous New Year with his tips.

http://www.ourprayer.org/wonderful-new-year

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Monday, January 05, 2009

Thoughts on Romans 5:1-5

Romans 5:1-5: Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.

At youth last night the kids read this passage and our youth director played a song in the background where the words kept repeating over and over: you have to spend time with me and I will love you. He was trying to get the kids to talk about how they spend time with God – how they could spend time with God.

I just listened. As an adult it’s easy to step in and tell them what to think. It’s harder to wait it out. Wait out the silence when none of them want to speak up. But, I thought about it a lot.

When our youth director told me what he was going to do, I remembered studying Romans in Bible Study Fellowship. When you study a book of the Bible in BSF it takes a whole year. So we probably spent 2 months on the first 4 chapters. Those are some of the most depressing chapters in the Bible. All about man is sinful. We are unworthy. There seemed to be no hope.

Then chapter 5! The “but, then” chapter! Paul opens the door, the sun comes out – God has provided a way for us. Through Jesus Christ we are worthy in His eyes to spend eternity with Him.

When I saw that wasn’t where the youth were going with this verse, but instead to ask themselves how they can put Him first in their lives, I was reminded of the book of Revelation where Jesus talked about the different churches. To one He said, “You are doing many things right.” But, the thing is they were doing many things. Things that were keeping them from truly worshipping Him. Missions, meetings, socials. And Jesus told them to go back to their first love. What was it like when they first knew Him? First loved Him? Go back to that awe, that relief, that Romans Chapter 5 “but, then” miraculous feeling.

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