< What I Learned Teaching Sunday School: October 2011

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Following God's Will

Every believer must choose whether he will live by the principle of obedience or whether he will follow his own preferences.

When a person commits to doing the Lord’s will, then every situation and decision is sifted through the standard of “God said it, so I’m going to do it—and that’s the end of it.”

He may complain, weep, or argue, but, in the end, he will be obedient, no matter what.

Our lives are about fulfilling God’s purpose. Many people miss His awesome plan for them because they choose to follow their own preferences. Obedience is sometimes hard, but the struggle and sacrifice are worth it. There is joy and peace for the believer who pleases the Lord and lives by His principles.

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Thursday, October 27, 2011

Becoming Like Christ

You might know so much about the Bible, but at the end of the day, do your actions make people say, "Being with you is like what being with Jesus must have been like"? Do you love people so much that it hurts? That you sacrifice? Wasn't that supposed to be the goal of all this knowledge we have of Christ? That we become more like him?

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Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Mark 6:19 – 29

Mark 6:19 – 29 19 So Herodias nursed a grudge against John and wanted to kill him. But she was not able to, 20 because Herod feared John and protected him, knowing him to be a righteous and holy man. When Herod heard John, he was greatly puzzled; yet he liked to listen to him. 21 Finally the opportune time came. On his birthday Herod gave a banquet for his high officials and military commanders and the leading men of Galilee. 22 When the daughter of Herodias came in and danced, she pleased Herod and his dinner guests.

The king said to the girl, “Ask me for anything you want, and I’ll give it to you.” 23 And he promised her with an oath, “Whatever you ask I will give you, up to half my kingdom.” 24 She went out and said to her mother, “What shall I ask for?” “The head of John the Baptist,” she answered. 25 At once the girl hurried in to the king with the request: “I want you to give me right now the head of John the Baptist on a platter.”

26 The king was greatly distressed, but because of his oaths and his dinner guests, he did not want to refuse her. 27 So he immediately sent an executioner with orders to bring John’s head. The man went, beheaded John in the prison, 28 and brought back his head on a platter. He presented it to the girl, and she gave it to her mother. 29 On hearing of this, John’s disciples came and took his body and laid it in a tomb.

No well bred Jewish girl would have danced in public like this. Apparently it was a very suggestive dance. But these were just really wicked people all the way around! Herod has this huge party filled with important people and lots of wine flowing. He’s bragging in front of them when he promises her anything. He was showing off.

And then the party took a horrible turn. Just like sin often does. The people at the party never expected to see the head of Israel’s greatest prophet on a platter that night. Sin never tells us how bad it’s going to get.

There are two kinds of people in the world. Those who are never forsaken by God and those who are. Herod was forsaken. John was not. Even as he sat in prison and was then beheaded. Don’t let worldly circumstances confuse you. John was at peace with God. Herod Antipas wasn’t ever at peace. That’s why he thought maybe Jesus was John back from the dead. Because of his guilty conscious. Even when John was alive he was afraid of him. He feared his popularity, he worried about the crowds, he worried about John’s message. That too is what sin does. It leaves us worried, uneasy and paranoid.

How different John was. He was a great man and yet ego free. He was truly humble. He said about Christ, “He must increase and I must decrease.” Most people are filled with pride and most often for no reason! He lived to honor Christ. To point to Him.

Luke 3:15-17 15 The people were waiting expectantly and were all wondering in their hearts if John might possibly be the Messiah. 16 John answered them all, “I baptize you with water. But one who is more powerful than I will come, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. 17 His winnowing fork is in his hand to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his barn, but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.”

John 1:29 “Behold the Lamb of God coming to take away the sins of the world.”

Our lesson from him is to always magnify Jesus. Always point people to Him.

In Luke 23:8-12 Herod Antipas also had a lot to do with Jesus’ death: 8 When Herod saw Jesus, he was greatly pleased, because for a long time he had been wanting to see him. From what he had heard about him, he hoped to see him perform a sign of some sort. 9 He plied him with many questions, but Jesus gave him no answer. 10 The chief priests and the teachers of the law were standing there, vehemently accusing him. 11 Then Herod and his soldiers ridiculed and mocked him. Dressing him in an elegant robe, they sent him back to Pilate. 12 That day Herod and Pilate became friends—before this they had been enemies.

He was pleased to finally see Jesus because he could finally see he wasn’t John risen from the dead! But then after Jesus wouldn’t entertain him, he mocked Him and “sent Him back to Pilate.”

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Monday, October 24, 2011

Mark 6:14 – 18

Mark 6:14 – 18 14 King Herod heard about this, for Jesus’ name had become well known. Some were saying, “John the Baptist has been raised from the dead, and that is why miraculous powers are at work in him.” 15 Others said, “He is Elijah.” And still others claimed, “He is a prophet, like one of the prophets of long ago.”

16 But when Herod heard this, he said, “John, whom I beheaded, has been raised from the dead!” 17 For Herod himself had given orders to have John arrested, and he had him bound and put in prison. He did this because of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife, whom he had married. 18 For John had been saying to Herod, “It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife.”

Jesus had just sent out the 12 disciples and Herod heard about all their healings and miracles. He also heard about Jesus, but had never seen Him. He thought Jesus was John the Baptist back from the dead!

John’s background is covered in Luke 1:5-24; 57-80. John was a relative of Jesus’ and brought to earth to bring the message of Christ’s coming.

Matthew 3:1-4 tells of his spartan lifestyle. He lived in the wilderness and ate locust and honey. The wilderness was mostly in the area of Perea along the Jordan River where he baptized people. There was nothing in this area; yet it’s been estimated that one million people made the trip out there to hear his message of repentance.

Luke 3:7-9 7 John said to the crowds coming out to be baptized by him, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? 8 Produce fruit in keeping with repentance. And do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham. 9 The ax is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.”

Luke 3:18 And with many other words John exhorted the people and proclaimed the good news to them.

His was a call to God! He told the Jews it didn’t matter that they were part of God’s chosen race; it was their individual heart that mattered. He exposed their sin and didn’t beat around the bush while doing it! “If you desire to draw near to God you must repent of all sin, which keeps you from Him.” His was a single focus – God!

John also reprimanded Herod because Herod had married one of his own brother’s wives. So Herod threw him in prison. At first he doesn’t kill him mostly because of John’s wild popularity, but later we’ll see that he does.

Herod was a family name so there are several Herods in the Bible. Herod the Great was the father of Herod Antipas (the Herod in our Mark story.) The father’s rule ended in 4 BC and it was he who had ordered the slaughter of all the baby boys when he heard that a king had been born. He was a wicked man and a descendent of Esau. He was made a king of the Israelites by the Romans. The Romans had one Caesar, but lots of kings. These were lesser rulers with no true authority. They were really magistrates who called themselves kings to seem more important then they were. The Romans could dethrone them on a whim.

Herod the Great built a lot, including the great temple. And he had many wives and LOTS of children! He was totally paranoid, even killing family members because of his paranoia. He “ruled” many years, but died a horrible death, his body filled with disease, probably caused by his lifestyle.

Before he died he broke down his kingdom into four sections; one for each of his four favored sons. He had two different sons named Phillip. One got a section, but the one that Herodias married was just a regular citizen. Herod Antipas got Perea where John the Baptist was and also Galilee where Jesus was. Herod actually lived in Tiberius in Galilee, but he also had both a palace and a prison in Machaerus in Perea.

Herodias was also both her husbands’ niece so the situation was also incestuous! And she had great ambition! Philip, the regular brother, wasn’t good enough. Herod divorced a woman to marry Herodias which caused a huge problem with her people too, but that’s another story! Herodias’ brother was another Herod you may have heard of; Herod Agrippa. In the end her ambition gets them exiled to Gaul. They would lose everything.
But not yet: we'll continue in tomorrow's post.

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Sunday, October 16, 2011

Sending the Disciples Out

Mark 6:7-13 7 Calling the Twelve to him, he began to send them out two by two and gave them authority over impure spirits. 8 These were his instructions: “Take nothing for the journey except a staff—no bread, no bag, no money in your belts. 9 Wear sandals but not an extra shirt. 10 Whenever you enter a house, stay there until you leave that town. 11 And if any place will not welcome you or listen to you, leave that place and shake the dust off your feet as a testimony against them.” 12 They went out and preached that people should repent. 13 They drove out many demons and anointed many sick people with oil and healed them.

Christians are meant to be out in the front lines. Jesus had trained His disciples for two years at this point and now He sends them out. But He sent them out in pairs because Christianity is not a solo life. We need each other for encouragement and fellowship.

This section is the fulfillment of Mark 1:17 where Jesus told His then future disciples, “follow Me and I will make you fishers of men.” They were now sent out to fish.

Jesus has also already commissioned us to go out and spread the gospel. We need to ask ourselves, “How am I doing this?” “Who can I share with today?” We have been saved and taught to be sent out! We are Christ’s ambassadors.

In Luke 10:2 Jesus sends out 70 disciples, telling them they are “like sheep among the wolves”! Sheep can’t run, kick or bite. They are totally defenseless. And yet when Jesus sends them out He tells them to take nothing but a staff, their sandals and one tunic! No bag, no food, no money! Jesus was telling them “you are going to be completely vulnerable.”

Why? Because God would take care of them and they didn’t need anything else. The world is harsh and things happen to us that we often can’t do anything about. Jesus wants us to know that He alone is our supply line.

Psalm 121
1 I lift up my eyes to the mountains—
where does my help come from?
2 My help comes from the LORD,
the Maker of heaven and earth.
3 He will not let your foot slip—
he who watches over you will not slumber;
4 indeed, he who watches over Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.
5 The LORD watches over you—
the LORD is your shade at your right hand;
6 the sun will not harm you by day,
nor the moon by night.
7 The LORD will keep you from all harm—
he will watch over your life;
8 the LORD will watch over your coming and going
both now and forevermore.

We need to get rid of pride and self sufficiency and trust God.

Philippians 4:19 And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.

In verse 11 when He talks about shaking the dust from their shoes: Jesus was often rejected and treated badly. He was warning them that they would be too. (John 15:18-20) And if they had presented the gospel and still been rejected they needed to turn the results over to Him. To give God room to be God!

In shaking the dust off their shoes they were creating a word picture to tell the people of that town that God had visited them and they had rejected Him and the disciples weren’t going to be stained by their unbelief. They were leaving it in the town.

In verse 12 it tells what they did. They preached repentance. (Some places in the Bible it talks about them preaching that people must believe, but belief and repentance go hand in hand.) And they cast out demons and healed. The disciples weren’t known in these towns so they needed to do miracles that would get people to listen to them. Today we have the Bible and bring the good works of Christ; integrity, love, compassion, etc.


Sunday, October 09, 2011

A Prophet in His Own Town

Pastor Kurt came back to the Gospel of Mark in his sermon today:

Mark 6:1-6 1 Jesus left there and went to his hometown, accompanied by his disciples. 2 When the Sabbath came, he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were amazed. “Where did this man get these things?” they asked. “What’s this wisdom that has been given him? What are these remarkable miracles he is performing? 3 Isn’t this the carpenter? Isn’t this Mary’s son and the brother of James, Joseph, Judas and Simon? Aren’t his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him.

4 Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his own town, among his relatives and in his own home.” 5 He could not do any miracles there, except lay his hands on a few sick people and heal them. 6 He was amazed at their lack of faith.

Then Jesus went around teaching from village to village.

This text asks us, “Do you miss Jesus or do you get Him?”

Jesus went to Nazareth, His hometown. Nazareth was very small; only about 300 people lived there. And it was off the beaten path. Jesus went back there during His three year ministry one other time and it didn’t go well. That was in Luke 4:15–30 when He was preaching in the Synagogue on the Isaiah passage that said “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” And then said “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”

The crowd was so angry then that they were going to stone Him. But He escaped and now several months or maybe even a year later He comes back. Jesus is merciful and compassionate. He was giving them another chance. Jesus pursues sinners!

The people were astonished at His teaching, His ministry and His life. Astonished in a shocked, doubtful way. They saw who He was: Son of Mary, brother of James, Joseph, Judas and Simon, but they wanted to know who taught Him. In those days Rabbis learned from other Rabbis. But Jesus learned from God Himself.

They could see He had authority, but attacked Him because He hadn’t gotten it from another Rabbi, that He acted like it came from Himself. They acknowledged His wisdom, but weren’t listening to the message.

Then they questioned His miracles: His power. By this time He had healed the woman who had been losing blood for 12 years and also brought the young girl back to life. And they would have heard about that, but they assumed His power came from demons. They said it was obviously not from God because “we know this kid!” He’s “just a carpenter!” They also called Him the son of Mary not Joseph pointing out their belief He was even illegitimate.

Two of His brothers; James and Jude ended up writing books in the New Testament, but even they didn’t believe who He was until He was resurrected.
Jesus does have power. He does have authority and He does do great miracles. Don’t look at Jesus as a man and miss that He is God! They took offense to Him when they should have been bowing the knee and submitting to Him. Worshipping Him!

People who deny Jesus really just don’t want a Lord over them.

In verse 4 Jesus says He is looking for honor. In verses 5 and 6 He says He wants our trust. For us to depend on Him instead of ourselves. He wants us to believe in Him!

Jesus wasn’t unable to do miracles there; He was just disinclined because of their lack of belief. He wouldn’t do physical healing because He was dishonored by their lack of faith. Again, He is more interested in our spiritual teaching then our physical healing.

The last sentence in this section is “He went on teaching.” He moved on from Nazareth. He went on to someone who would listen. This was their second chance.

And it was the last time He went to Nazareth.

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Tuesday, October 04, 2011

God delegates His passion to reach the world through believers

Here’s what I learned in Sunday’s sermon:

2 Corinthians 5:18-21 18 All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: 19 that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. 20 We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. 21 God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

We have been given reconciliation so we can give it to others by sharing the message of the Gospel. We aren’t saved for just our own pleasure! We are God’s ambassadors. If the Word is to be extended it’s on our backs and with our mouths!

Acts 1:8 "But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

Romans 1:14-16 14 I am obligated both to Greeks and non-Greeks, both to the wise and the foolish. 15 That is why I am so eager to preach the gospel also to you who are in Rome. 16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile.

Pastor Kurt said the ministry of reconciliation is the service. Service is passing it along. Faithfully passing on that which has been prepared by someone else. It’s not our job to mess with the message.

We should always be prepared and ready. While it’s important to speak with our lives (walk the talk) we must be able to tell people the good news.

Paul says in verse 20 that God is making His appeal through us. He’s begging us to be reconciled to Him!

If we don’t think we can go out into the mission field or even door-to-door, here are a couple ideas that each of us can do:

1. Care for people. Call them when they are hurting. Bring them food when they are ill.
2. Make every comment we make ring with God’s love: “Aren’t we blessed by God?” “Hasn’t God given us a beautiful day today?” “God bless you!”

The Psalmist wrote, “I will make mention of your righteousness.”

Praise God!

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