< What I Learned Teaching Sunday School: September 2011

Friday, September 30, 2011

The Psalms

I’ve been reading a Psalm a day lately. So it will take me awhile to read all of them (150 days to be exact!)

But I came across this list about some of the Psalms that speak to different things going on in our lives:

To find comfort Psalm 23
To feel closer to God Psalm 103
To learn a new prayer Psalm 136
To learn a new song Psalm 92
To learn more about God Psalm 24
To understand yourself more clearly Psalm 8
To know how to come to God each day Psalm 5
To be forgiven Psalm 51
To feel worthwhile Psalm 139
To understand why you should read the Bible Psalm 119
To give praise to God Psalm 145
To know that God is in control Psalm 146
To give thanks to God Psalm 136
To please God Psalm 15
To know why you should worship God Psalm 104

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Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Faith and Works

John 14:12 Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do, he will do also; and greater works than these he will do; because I go to the Father.

Our works pour out of our faith. Christianity begins with faith alone.

Ephesians 2:8-9 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; 9 not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.

Grace isn’t Grace if you have to earn it!

If we try to get to Heaven on our good works, it’s like saying that what Jesus Christ did wasn’t enough. Salvation is based on His work. What He did!

But Ephesians 2:10 says that as believers we are to work for Him though. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.

Once we are born again, good works will flow out of us. We don’t do them because He needs it, or because we should. It is a privilege to serve the King of Kings!

I had a thought about when Jesus said that “he who believes in Me, the works that I do, he will do also; and greater works than these he will do”… our Pastor had explained that greater just meant more because Jesus was only on earth for a short time and we would have longer. But I thought about Christ’s works and He says that His work is to Glorify the Father. So that means that’s our work too.

It was easy for Jesus to Glorify God because He was perfect and had lived with Him in Heaven. But every time we do something that’s hard or we don’t want to do, because we feel like it’s what Jesus would do, whether it’s giving up our time to help someone, or forgiving someone or sharing the gospel when it would be so much easier to be quiet, then we are glorifying God. So God may very well see our efforts as great works when we do them with the right motive.


Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Dead Sea Scrolls now Online

I think it's amazing we can see and learn more about the Dead Sea Scrolls online. When you have some time, check it out here:

Dead Sea Scrolls


Saturday, September 24, 2011

You Can’t Stop God from Loving You!

The following was in our church newsletter last week and I wanted to share it because it explains why we feel the way we do about God’s love.

1 John 4:7-10 7 Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. 8 Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. 9 This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. 10 This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.

One of the biggest struggles many people face is a feeling that the Lord couldn't possibly love them. Yet the Bible clearly tells us that He does. Far from just saying so with words, God has also given us ample proof. Creation itself is an expression of His awesome care for us. He designed this earth as the perfect habitation for humanity and provides us with the necessities of life. But the highest expression of His love is manifested in His provision for our eternal needs. He sent His Son to redeem us from sin so that we could be forgiven and reconciled to God—and then live with Him in heaven forever.

So why, with all this evidence, do so many of us still doubt His love? Perhaps the reason is that we are looking at it from our own limited perspective: since we cannot love others unconditionally, we doubt that the Lord can. After all, human logic considers it reasonable to be loving towards people who measure up to our standards—but to hold ourselves aloof from those who don't. Or maybe we just feel unworthy of His love.

Well, I have news for you: no one is worthy. God's love is not based on whether we're deserving or not. It's a demonstration of His commitment to our greatest good. Divine love is conditioned not on our performance but on God's nature. It's like the ocean's tide. You can stand on the shore and say, "I don't believe in waves," but that doesn't stop them from coming. Likewise, nothing you do or feel will stop the Father's love from washing over you.

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Thursday, September 22, 2011

God’s Hands and Feet

Ephesians 4:11-16 So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, 12 to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13 until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.
14 Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. 15 Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. 16 From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.

Christianity is designed to be a community. Each of us can make a difference in the life of someone who needs that difference.

God has made the church to be the workers of His Grace. When we are born again we are to be conduits of His blessings to other believers. If someone needs the Gospel, he sends a believer to share the Gospel. If someone needs strength and encouragement, we as the church are to be God’s hands and feet and meet that need.

When God works in us we are blessed. When He works through us we are blessed and He is glorified.

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Sunday, September 18, 2011

Becoming a Worship Catalyst

Pastor Kurt Gebhards at Harvest Bible Chapel, Hickory, challenged us last week to be worship catalysts. A catalyst is a substance that causes or accelerates change or activity. And he said that if we are born again we are meant to be a catalyst: a person whose talk, enthusiasm or energy causes others to be more enthusiastic, energetic or friendly. And we should be helping others praise God.

To do this we should be praising God ourselves continuously. Bless, praise, boast, magnify and exalt God are words mentioned over and over again in the Bible.  He is glorious and we as His children need to do something about this! Worship Him for who He is and what He’s done for us!

Isaiah 43:7 says He created us to glorify Him. People should be able to recognize Him in us, so we must live our lives in a way that puts Him on display. If we aren’t doing this we aren’t doing what we were created to do!

We should also be doing this corporately. Romans 15:5 says, “O magnify the Lord with me” and “let us exalt His name together.” Our worship is designed to stimulate each other.

Also when we go to church we should be prepared. Arrive early with a heart that is prepared for worship. Prepare yourself for impact with God! Pray for the service. Greet people. Ready yourself for a meeting with the King of Kings!

We aren’t at the service for ourselves, but for God and others. So be a spiritual catalyst in someone’s life so they can be drawn closer to Christ. Because Christ’s glory hangs in the balance. He doesn’t deserve lukewarm worship. We want other people to glorify and honor Him!

How much glory and praise is God deriving from your life?

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Friday, September 16, 2011

Feeding Your Soul

Last night The Institute for Faith and Learning at our local college brought in author/speaker Mark Yaconelli. He gave a program on our souls.

He said the world has so much noise that we don’t hear God or each other anymore. And we make shallow things important: what we wear, what we do and how we look. We weren’t born that way. We all were born with souls that know God.

So how do we allow God’s presence to move in our lives?

First, slow down. Hang on to your sense of wonder and awe. The journey matters! As children we wander off the path noticing flowers and bugs. We laugh and play. Then the world trains us to only see the goal. We’re told that what matters is what we accomplish. But our soul wants to watch the sunset!

We were given the Sabbath to take a day off: to read, to think, to dream, to reflect, to worship. To just receive the gift of life. Never feel guilty for taking that day!

Second our soul is compassionate. Let it come out. Be present for someone who is hurting. We don’t have to DO anything or be a Biblical scholar, just notice and care and love.

Third, the soul is the place in you that waits for joy. It knows that in the midst of darkness life is coming. That God has a plan and will bring a resolution. Even when it makes no sense.

Our soul knows this. Our true name, hidden in our soul, is beloved!

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Thursday, September 15, 2011

God’s Story, Your Story

Pastor and author, Max Lucado has written another wonderful book. This one is called God’s Story, Your Story, and in it he talks about embracing God’s plan for your life.
He says God is up to something big! Here’s what Max says it is:

“He’s up to building a new kingdom that will take place not in this life but in the next in which he will restore this universe to its original splendor. And he will populate that kingdom with human beings who have on this earth voluntarily signed up to be a part of the new kingdom. They will have been redeemed by the death of Christ.

Their bodies will have been restored to their intended state by the power of God and they will reign with God, we will reign with God forever in the new kingdom.”

He adds, “If God’s goal is just to make this life comfortable and happy then either there is no God or he’s failed miserably. So if however God’s goal is to not just prepare a kingdom for us but to prepare us for a kingdom then he’s going to use difficulties to prepare us and to equip us so my struggles have a purpose. They have a reason. They’re not just distractions. There’s something in these tests and struggles that can prepare me for what is yet to come. So then I begin seeing the challenges of life not as some accident or random happening. No, I begin to see them as really from the hand of God used to equip me for something in the future, something that I’ll need to serve him in the kingdom.

Trust Jesus, he says that this world is not the end, that this world is just the beginning. He endorses all of scripture so I try to trust all of scripture and I’m just trying to live my life according to his will.”

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Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Gospel Knowledge Demands Gospel Living!

We were in Charleston, SC for Labor Day weekend, so missed our home church service. However I listened to Pastor Kurt online when we got back and as usual he shared a powerful lesson.

What you believe dictates what you do.

As Christians we believe in the promises of the Gospel. But then our agenda must be Gospel living: following the precepts of God.

There are 1260 promises in the Bible (250 in the New Testament)

There are 6468 commands in the Bible (1050 in the New Testament)

2 Peter 1:1-8 Simon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ,

To those who through the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ have received a faith as precious as ours: 2 Grace and peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord. 3 His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. 4 Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires. 5 For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; 6 and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; 7 and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. 8 For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Verse 1 tells us that Peter’s readers share a common faith. We believe the same thing as Peter. One faith no matter the time or place. Jesus Christ is the author and finisher of our faith and He never changes. The Word of God keeps us stable and strong. Its boundaries keep us safe. It’s designed to help and support us.

Jude 1:3 Dear friends, although I was very eager to write to you about the salvation we share, I felt compelled to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to God’s holy people.

This faith was passed down through the Bible. And we get this faith by the righteousness of Jesus Christ. His work, His power, His accomplishment!

Back to our 2 Peter verses: looking at verses 2 and 3. We believe a complete knowledge. A knowledge that comes to us because of our pursuit of it. Our desire for it. Grace and peace will be multiplied to us when we have true knowledge of God and His promises. Stay in the Scriptures daily!

Verse 5: God calls us by His moral excellence and then asks us to live by moral excellence. He doesn’t save us to stay in our sin. He changes us! The Gospel changes us!

Verse 4 shows that the Gospel is based upon His precious and magnificent promises. The Gospel tells us that God has done everything for us and if we trust in Christ, these promises are ours. If we do He causes us to change both on the inside (a new nature) and on the outside (our behavior, our attitude, our actions). “Partakers of the divine nature means we are born again.

The end of verse 4 tells us we’ve also escaped the penalty of sin! But 1 Peter 2:11 tells us there are still lusts within us that are waging war. Believers are soldiers. Sanctification is an ongoing work.

We have positional sanctification – He has received us. But we are working on practical sanctification – waging warfare and putting to death our lusts and sin.

If you are saved, apply it! Make God’s difference for His Glory. If we believe our lives must say so! After all we want to be useful to the King. Don’t we?

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Monday, September 12, 2011

Explaining the 3 Heavens

Dr. Jimmy DeYoung explained the 3 Heavens the last night of the Prophecy Conference.

2 Corinthians 12:2-3 gives evidence that there are 3 heavens:

I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven. Whether it was in the body or out of the body I do not know—God knows. 3 And I know that this man—whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, but God knows

The first heaven is what we see in the daytime: the sun and clouds
The second heaven is what we see at night: the moon and the stars
And the third heaven is where God is.

Ephesians 6:12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.

These principalities and evil spirits are gathered in the first two heavens and dispatched to earth to wage spiritual warfare.

2 Corinthians 11: 14- 15 And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. 15 It is not surprising, then, if his servants also masquerade as servants of righteousness. Their end will be what their actions deserve.

Satan has his own ministers doing things for him. That’s why we have to compare everything we hear and read with scripture.

We know that before war breaks out in heaven, that Satan has access to the third heaven by these 2 verses:

Revelation 12:7 Then war broke out in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back

Revelation 12:10 Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say:
“Now have come the salvation and the power
and the kingdom of our God,
and the authority of his Messiah.
For the accuser of our brothers and sisters,
who accuses them before our God day and night,
has been hurled down.

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Sunday, September 11, 2011

Christ’s Judgment and Rewards

Dr. Jimmy DeYoung talked about Christ’s judgment at the Prophecy conference:

1 Corinthians 3:10 – 14 talks about the judgment seat of Christ and our rewards.

10 By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as a wise builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should build with care. 11 For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 If anyone builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, 13 their work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each person’s work. 14 If what has been built survives, the builder will receive a reward. 15 If it is burned up, the builder will suffer loss but yet will be saved—even though only as one escaping through the flames.

The gold, silver and precious stones are the works we did for His Glory and in His power. The rewards we get will be:

An incorruptible crown –

1 Corinthians 9:25 Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.

A crown we will rejoice over –

1 Thessalonians 2:19 For what is our hope, our joy, or the crown in which we will glory in the presence of our Lord Jesus when he comes? Is it not you?

A Crown of life for not yielding to temptation –

James 1:12 Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.

A crown for helping the body grow –

1 Peter 5:1-4 1 To the elders among you, I appeal as a fellow elder and a witness of Christ’s sufferings who also will share in the glory to be revealed: 2 Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, watching over them—not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not pursuing dishonest gain, but eager to serve; 3 not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock. 4 And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away.

A crown of righteousness –

2 Timothy 4:8 Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.

After this judgment we will lay our crowns at His feet and attend the marriage supper of the lamb for seven years!

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Thursday, September 08, 2011

Who are the Palestinians? And why do they hate the Jews?

Night three of the Prophecy Conference:

On the 20th of September the Palestinians are going to the United Nations to declare their Palestinian state. There has never been one before. And they want it to be in Jerusalem.

On May 14, 1948 the United Nations allowed the Jewish people to have a state. 500,000 Jews established Israel. Within an hour they were surrounded by about 2 million Palestinians, who attacked.

The Palestinians had sent their wives and children across the Jordan thinking they’d come back after they defeated the Jews. But that didn’t happen, so 70% of the area across the Jordan is made up of Palestinians.

Yasser Arafat came in to that area to form terrorist groups to go after the Jews. Fatah was his organization and PLO was a group of organizations he put together. Eventually he was driven into Jordan where he tried to overthrow King Hussein. The king killed 10,000 Palestinians in one day. Arafat then took his people and went to Lebanon first and then Tunisia.

In September of 1993 he went to the White House to sign the Oslo accords peace treaty between he and Israel. Then Arafat came back into Israel, first to Jericho where he built a palace, but then decided he really needed to be in the Gaza strip where so many Palestinians were.

The Palestinians control the Temple mount, which we saw in yesterday’s post has a long and strong Jewish history.

The story of the feud between the Jews and the Palestinians goes all the way back to Genesis 25:19-25 when the twins Jacob and Esau struggled in Rebekah’s womb. God’s plan was always for the elder (Esau) to serve the younger (Jacob) and he told Rebekah that. But she and Jacob plotted and connived to steal Isaac’s blessing to Esau anyway.

Esau said he would kill Jacob for stealing his birthright and his descendents have been trying to do that ever since!

In 1st Samuel 15 King Saul was told to kill all the Amalekites and their animals. (The Amalekites were descendents of Esau) But Saul didn’t and on that day he lost his authority as king. Every personality in the Old Testament who ever wanted to kill the Jews was also a descendent.

In the New Testament, Herod the Great who killed all the baby boys trying to kill the King of the Jews, was also a descendent. There were even descendents from Bosnia fighting with the Germans in World War II. In more modern times? Yasser Arafat and Suddam Hussein.

Satan uses the Palestinians because he wants every Jew dead. If he can do this that means that God’s promises to the Jews won’t be fulfilled, which would make Him a liar.

These promises are found in the four covenants that the Lord made with the Jewish people down through the years. The first was the "Abrahamic Covenant", Genesis 12 made to Abraham that God would make him a great nation through the "sons of promise", Isaac and Jacob.

The "Land Covenant", Deuteronomy 30 is the eternal for the Jews and the "land" that God will give them at the time of the Kingdom.

Speaking of the Kingdom, it is to be an eternal Kingdom, headquartered in Jerusalem with the Messiah, Jesus Christ on the "throne" in a "Temple" on the Temple Mount, as promised by the "Davidic Covenant", 2 Samuel 7

The "New Covenant" is given, not to the Church, but to the Jewish people, Jeremiah 31:31, and it will be fulfilled when the Lord puts His Word in the hearts of the Jews and they become His people and God becomes their God.

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Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Prophecy Conference Night Two – The Importance of Jerusalem

Jerusalem is the spiritual capital, the physical capital and the eternal capital of the world.

Psalm 132:13-14 says that God chose Jerusalem for His people. In Zechariah 1:12 Jesus appeared to the prophet and said, “I am jealous for Jerusalem,” (Meaning “I am aggressively possessive of Jerusalem.”) “and displeased with the heathen (the nations) who are against it.”

And in Ezekiel 5:5 God put Jerusalem in the center, surrounded by the other countries, who will one day attack her. But Zechariah 12:1-9 says that God will deliver Jerusalem from those nations.

2nd Samuel 7:13 and 16 tells us that God promised David Jerusalem will be there forever.

Zechariah 1:16 says that Jesus will come back and build His temple there and rule!

Why is Jerusalem key? This is where Abraham offered up Isaac on the Temple Mount. The same spot was also where David paid for the site. And where Solomon built the first temple. After it was torn down the second temple was built there. All the sacrifices took place there.

And! It’s where the Garden of Eden was!

In Genesis 1:26 God told Adam and Eve to rule the first kingdom, Eden. At the end, the last Adam and His bride (the church) will rule from the Garden of Eden (Jerusalem)!

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Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Prophecy Conference Night 1

John and I went to a four night prophecy conference that a group of Baptist churches in Taylorsville, NC hosted. The speaker was Dr. Jimmy DeYoung, a radio favorite of mine.

The first night he talked about understanding Revelation by studying it chronologically.
In Revelation 1:1 God gave the revelation to Jesus who gave it to an angel who gave it to John.

I’m not one of those people who think about angels being around us all the time, but Dr. DeYoung says they not only played a big part in Christ’s first coming; they’ll also play a big part in the second coming. Angels deliver 14 of the 21 judgments in Revelation. He also made the comment they are often in church because angels come to hear every teaching about God. And apparently there are millions of angels!

Chapter 1 of Revelation tells us about the person and power of Jesus Christ. Chapters 2 and 3 are the last words of Jesus to the church. (The 7 letters to the 7 churches.) Chapter 4 is the Rapture of the church. Starting with chapter 5 is the 7 years of tribulation before Christ returns. The church is not mentioned in chapters 5 – 18 because they are no longer on earth.

After Christ returns, there’s the 1000 year reign, then the Great White Judgment where the unbelievers are sent to the lake of fire. Then the eternal heaven and the eternal earth.


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Monday, September 05, 2011

In a Garden

My husband and I were in Charleston this past weekend and went to a Gallery Crawl on Broad St. Friday night. On the way back to the car we stopped at another gallery on East Bay where I met a really delightful Christian artist named Ellen Bass.

I think we could have talked for hours! She's written a devotional book using her paintings called "In a Garden" and I thought you would enjoy seeing it!

Click to view book

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