< What I Learned Teaching Sunday School: April 2010

Monday, April 26, 2010

Psalm 63

In church Sunday the pastor did a message from Psalm 63:

1 O God, you are my God,
earnestly I seek you;
my soul thirsts for you,
my body longs for you,
in a dry and weary land
where there is no water.
2 I have seen you in the sanctuary
and beheld your power and your glory.
3 Because your love is better than life,
my lips will glorify you.
4 I will praise you as long as I live,
and in your name I will lift up my hands.
5 My soul will be satisfied as with the richest of foods;
with singing lips my mouth will praise you.
6 On my bed I remember you;
I think of you through the watches of the night.
7 Because you are my help,
I sing in the shadow of your wings.
8 My soul clings to you;
your right hand upholds me.
9 They who seek my life will be destroyed;
they will go down to the depths of the earth.
10 They will be given over to the sword
and become food for jackals.
11 But the king will rejoice in God;
all who swear by God's name will praise him,
while the mouths of liars will be silenced.

He pointed out that verses 9 – 11 show that David was in the wilderness running and hiding from his son. But in verses 1 and 2 it shows he only wanted and needed God.

If we have one thing – God – we are beyond rich. David writes “Oh, God, you are my God." God offers Himself fully to us for complete intimacy. If it’s not there it’s because of something we’ve done, not Him.

John 6:37 says, “I will in no way cast out the one who comes to Me.” It’s a promise.

Then David goes on to say, “earnestly I seek you.” We need to love God, pursue Him, make Him our passion. We must choose between this world and God. This world is nothing compared to God.

Verses 3 – 5 talk about satisfaction and service. God’s loving kindness is better than the sum total of our lives. Satisfaction is a blessing from God that must be followed by service. Praise from our lips, but also pouring out our lives for Him. The pastor said we should ask ourselves if we are threatened by God’s demands on our life. And if we love life more then Him. The answer should be no!

But then the pastor said we should make our choice thoughtfully and then live that way. Give all we can to Christ. Serve God joyfully. It’s an honor and a privilege.

Verses 6 – 8 talk about comfort and clinging. We are weak and vulnerable. When we admit this to God, He shelters and comforts us. We are kept in His right hand by His mercy forever. No one can take us from Him! For this comfort our responsibility is to cling to Him. Focus on God and God alone. The Glory of God must be our center.


Friday, April 23, 2010

Living by Christ’s Provision and in His - Power Part 2

We need to stop living in self-deprivation. Although we live in a broken world, God wants us to look up to Him and His greatness and provision. We have a great inheritance.

Romans 6:4-5 4We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. 5If we have been united with him like this in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection.
Two things happened with the resurrection. We died to sin and were raised in newness of life. We should live like we have new life! Our inheritance is the Lord Himself! To know and fellowship with Him throughout eternity.

Jesus inherited His position in heaven, but He shares it with all believers. Because of this we should be living a Holy (set apart) life here on earth. Hebrews 12:14 says, “Without Holiness we can’t see God.”

We can live this way because Christ’s power is now in us. And it is inexhaustible. We can be transformed. We can turn from sins. For His Glory and our benefit.

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Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Living by Christ’s Provision and in His Power

Pastor Kurt Gebhards of Harvest Bible Chapel, Hickory, gave a two-part sermon the past two weeks on Ephesians 1:15-23:

15For this reason, ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints, 16I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers. 17I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. 18I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, 19and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of his mighty strength, 20which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, 21far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. 22And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, 23which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.

God has given us unlimited resources and unlimited, eternal riches…and we aren’t using them! First we need to understand God’s Word. We have to know Him. We have to know His promises. Then we can claim them.

Pastor Geghards pointed out that the book of Ephesians followed a pattern that Paul utilizes in his epistles. In chapters 1 – 3 he writes the Doctrine of our position in Christ. In chapters 4 – 6; the duty of our practice in Christ. Doctrine proceeds doing. What we do must be founded on what we know of Christ.

Paul’s prayer in this letter is that they know. Christianity is for those who want to know, think and understand. And verses 18 and 19 tell us what those things are:

1. To know the hope of His calling
2. To know the riches of the inheritance
3. To know what is the surpassing greatness of His greatness.

You can’t know Christ outside of His Word. To be effective for Christ you must be reflective of Christ. Christ is the wisdom that God has given us. All has been revealed.

Christianity is what God has done for us and our response in gratitude and love because of this. We rejoice in the prospect of living in Christ’s steps.

John 17:3 says, Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.

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Wednesday, April 14, 2010

An Evening with Walk in the Word’s James MacDonald

James MacDonald of Walk in the Word http://www.walkintheword.com/ has been on a bus tour this spring and John and I went to his worship service in Hendersonville, NC last weekend.

The message was Why Trials from James 1: 1-6

1 James, a bondservant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, To the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad: Greetings.

2 My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, 3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. 4 But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. 5 If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. 6 But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind.

This book was written by the brother of Jesus, yet he calls himself a bondservant of God and Jesus. He was writing to believers who were scattered and suffering. So he gets right to the heart of his message.

Consider your trials joy.

To understand this you have to have the right definition of joy. It’s not happiness. It’s a supernatural delight. It’s one of the gifts of the Spirit. Joy in God Himself!

God knows us perfectly and loves us infinitely. And He’s working out His plan for us: in the person of God, the purposes of God and in the people of God. That is certainly a reason for joy!

To count (or consider) it all joy means you need to think about it. When you are thinking about your trials ask yourself, “Why am I here?” “What is the purpose of my life once I’ve been saved?” James says it’s to display the superiority of a Christian life well lived. That’s why Christians have trials. God allows trials so we can show people the difference between a follower of Jesus Christ and someone who isn’t.

When you stand strong through the trials of life you are displaying the superiority of a life lived in God. God trusts us with the big stuff!

Eternity is racing upon us and the Bible says our trials are a light and momentary affliction. They should be our opportunity to show the world how awesome God is.
They are also a testing of our faith and they produce patience.

James says we should ask ourselves these questions:

Do you believe God is in control when something awful happens? (Even when you can’t see it or feel it.)

Do you believe God is good? (His disposition toward you is to bless you even if He has to hurt you awhile to make you a better person. God is interested in conforming us into the image of His Son.)

Are you willing to wait, by faith, until you see how God is working this out all together?

And finally James said we need to stay in the trial for as long as it takes. Don’t give up, don’t run, don’t complain or lash out. Trials produce transformation. We have to go through the whole thing to get the full effect. There is power in waiting.

Verse 4 says if you let it have its full effect on you you will be perfect and complete: lacking nothing. God is trying to rid us of the self-inflicted misery. Embrace the trial.

Verse 5 says if you lack wisdom ask God. This is about the trial. Ask God what you are supposed to learn from it. And God will give you insight.

Verse 6 says to ask in faith. You have to really want to know.

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Thursday, April 08, 2010

1st Thessalonians 5

1st Thessalonians 5: 11-28 11Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.

12Now we ask you, brothers, to respect those who work hard among you, who are over you in the Lord and who admonish you. 13Hold them in the highest regard in love because of their work. Live in peace with each other. 14And we urge you, brothers, warn those who are idle, encourage the timid, help the weak, be patient with everyone. 15Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always try to be kind to each other and to everyone else.

16Be joyful always; 17pray continually; 18give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus. 19Do not put out the Spirit's fire; 20do not treat prophecies with contempt. 21Test everything. Hold on to the good. 22Avoid every kind of evil. 23May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 24The one who calls you is faithful and he will do it.

25Brothers, pray for us. 26Greet all the brothers with a holy kiss. 27I charge you before the Lord to have this letter read to all the brothers. 28The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.

God isn’t just the God of our spiritual self. He is our God through and through. He should be involved in everything we do.

Paul has written in 1st Thessalonians the kind of life Christians need to live. It is one that has an increasing and abounding love for one another. One that is worthy of God, one that is characterized by the kind of blamelessness that can stand the test of Christ’s judgment when He returns. It includes both attitudes and conduct: sexual purity, brotherly love, quiet minding of one’s own business, industriousness, mature theological understanding of the end times, spiritual alertness and self-control, respect of church leaders, thankfulness, prayerfulness, gratitude for and effective use of the Holy Spirit and His gifts, the ability to discriminate between right and wrong and the power to reject evil and do what is good. (!)

Christianity is NOT for weaklings!

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Wednesday, April 07, 2010

1st Thessalonians 4 Part 3

1st Thessalonians 4:16-17 For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever.

Christ’s second coming is referred to over three hundred times in the New Testament. Let’s look at what will happen when He returns. In 4:16 and 17 it says the Lord Himself will descend from heaven and the dead in Christ (those bodies) will rise first and then everyone who is still alive on earth will rise and meet them in the air. “So we shall always be with the Lord.”

This is the Rapture which literally means “to snatch up” or to “catch up”. All believers (and only believers) will share in this event. Also in verse 16, notice that Jesus Himself is coming. He’s not sending someone or sending for us. He’s actually coming to get us!

This will be an event of majesty and honor. There will be “the cry of command” or in some translations, “a shout” which is an authoritative utterance. One commentator likened it to the battle cry of the military heralds. Jesus called Lazarus from the grave with a loud authoritative voice. He will call for His church too.

John 5:25 I tell you the truth, a time is coming and has now come when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God and those who hear will live.

Some translations say, “with a shout and an arch angel’s cry” and most commentators believe that Jesus will give the shout and the archangel will add to it. There will also be a trumpet. Trumpets are mentioned a lot in the Old Testament at times of victory and festivals. In the book of Numbers God communicated with the huge camp of Israelites by signals from 2 silver trumpets.

John Calvin thinks these three things happening are how a field marshal gathers his armies to battle. The shout, the voice and the trumpet picture one great event. It is a call to those who have been saved by grace to rise and follow the King of Kings.

When they meet in the air, both the dead in Christ and those still alive on earth will get resurrected bodies like Christ’s. It will be a body that never wears out or be subject to pain, disease or death. As John Wolvoord wrote, “it will be suited for the glorious presence of the Lord.”

Finally when we tell someone they look divine it will be true!

We get some idea of the resurrected body in the account of the transfiguration of Jesus:

Matthew 17:2 There he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light.

The reunion of those who have died in Christ is very important to Paul. He stresses the fact they will be together again. He says, “We shall always be with the Lord.” There is permanence in our fellowship with Christ and each other. It’s a comforting and encouraging thought. And in fact Paul says we should comfort each other with these words.

The reason we can comfort others is because God chose to reveal this to us. He doesn’t leave us in ignorance or without hope. This is going to happen: a promise from God is the same as already done. Hope in the Bible is not the way we use hope – it’s a sure thing.

A Christian faces death not in despair, but with sureness of what will happen. And the really important thing about all of this is that we’re ready. We need to be right with God. We need to accept Christ as our personal Lord and Savior. We need to live each day like it might be our last because some day it will be.

Our preparation should be: repentance, renewal, diligent proclamation of the gospel and Christ-like living.

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