< What I Learned Teaching Sunday School: November 2011

Friday, November 18, 2011

Mark 7:1-13

Mark 7:1-13 1 The Pharisees and some of the teachers of the law who had come from Jerusalem gathered around Jesus 2 and saw some of his disciples eating food with hands that were defiled, that is, unwashed. 3 (The Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they give their hands a ceremonial washing, holding to the tradition of the elders. 4 When they come from the marketplace they do not eat unless they wash. And they observe many other traditions, such as the washing of cups, pitchers and kettles.)

5 So the Pharisees and teachers of the law asked Jesus, “Why don’t your disciples live according to the tradition of the elders instead of eating their food with defiled hands?”

6 He replied, “Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you hypocrites; as it is written: “These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. 7 They worship me in vain; their teachings are merely human rules.’8 You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to human traditions.”

9 And he continued, “You have a fine way of setting aside the commands of God in order to observe your own traditions! 10 For Moses said, ‘Honor your father and mother,’ and, ‘Anyone who curses their father or mother is to be put to death.’ 11 But you say that if anyone declares that what might have been used to help their father or mother is Corban (that is, devoted to God) 12 then you no longer let them do anything for their father or mother. 13 Thus you nullify the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And you do many things like that.”

Bible Belt Religion is full of apathy. Of doing little things with rote response and religious rituals. It thinks that Jesus is “too nice” to judge us.

But Jesus shares in this passage that it’s our hearts that are important. Jesus shows His love in two different ways: caring for the people with His healings and miracles, but also speaking critically of the people who need it.

The Pharisees stood for legal righteousness. Of being righteous themselves. They say here that the disciples weren’t “walking in the tradition of the elders.” They were putting the traditions ahead of Jesus. These traditions were the multiplied laws that they had invented and added to God’s laws.

Here are some Bible verses that show how God looks at the heart:

1 Samuel 16:7 But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”

1 Chronicles 28:9 “And you, my son Solomon, acknowledge the God of your father, and serve him with wholehearted devotion and with a willing mind, for the LORD searches every heart and understands every desire and every thought. If you seek him, he will be found by you; but if you forsake him, he will reject you forever.”

Proverbs 16:2
All a person’s ways seem pure to them, but motives are weighed by the LORD.

Proverbs 21:2 A person may think their own ways are right, but the LORD weighs the heart.

Jeremiah 17:10 “I the LORD search the heart and examine the mind, to reward each person according to their conduct, according to what their deeds deserve.”

Revelation 2:23 I will strike her children dead. Then all the churches will know that I am he who searches hearts and minds, and I will repay each of you according to your deeds.

God searches our motives. When He looks into our hearts, does He see love and worship? Does He see us obeying the one great commandment? To love and worship God with all of our heart and soul and mind and to love other people as ourselves?


Sunday, November 13, 2011

He is Sovereign!

Mark 6:53-56 53 When they had crossed over, they landed at Gennesaret and anchored there. 54 As soon as they got out of the boat, people recognized Jesus. 55 They ran throughout that whole region and carried the sick on mats to wherever they heard he was. 56 And wherever he went—into villages, towns or countryside—they placed the sick in the marketplaces. They begged him to let them touch even the edge of his cloak, and all who touched it were healed.

They landed at Gennesaret and the people recognized Him. And everyone came from everywhere bringing the sick to Him.

Jesus didn’t come to earth to heal people physically. He came to save our souls. People loved Jesus the giver of food and Jesus the healer. But only Christians love Jesus the ruler.

The crowd wanted full stomachs and well bodies. That’s wasn’t Jesus’ plan. God is not like us! He is sovereign. He is Savior!

Exodus 15:11 Who among the gods is like you, LORD? Who is like you—
majestic in holiness, awesome in glory, working wonders?

2 Samuel 7:22 “How great you are, Sovereign LORD! There is no one like you, and there is no God but you, as we have heard with our own ears."

1 King 8:23 “LORD, the God of Israel, there is no God like you in heaven above or on earth below—you who keep your covenant of love with your servants who continue wholeheartedly in your way."

Isaiah 40:18 and 25 18 With whom, then, will you compare God? To what image will you liken him? 25 “To whom will you compare me? Or who is my equal?” says the Holy One.

God made us in His image, but we keep trying to make Him into ours!

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Saturday, November 12, 2011

Jesus Walks on Water

Mark 6:45-52 45 Immediately Jesus made his disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to Bethsaida, while he dismissed the crowd. 46 After leaving them, he went up on a mountainside to pray.

47 Later that night, the boat was in the middle of the lake, and he was alone on land. 48 He saw the disciples straining at the oars, because the wind was against them. Shortly before dawn he went out to them, walking on the lake. He was about to pass by them, 49 but when they saw him walking on the lake, they thought he was a ghost. They cried out, 50 because they all saw him and were terrified.

Immediately he spoke to them and said, “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” 51 Then he climbed into the boat with them, and the wind died down. They were completely amazed, 52 for they had not understood about the loaves; their hearts were hardened.

The world today tears Jesus down. As Christians we need to have a right view of who He is and fight to show others a high view of Him. If God is just like us, how can He save us?

In this section neither the disciples nor the crowd appreciated who Jesus really was. Jesus had a different plan from both the crowd and the disciples. In John 6:14-15 (Right after John’s account of the feeding of the 5000) we see that the crowd wants to make Him king. If He could keep them fed, they figured they could get out from under Roman rule. The disciples wanted Him to be made king too, because if He rose in power they figured they’d move up with Him.

So Jesus separates the disciples from the crowd. He makes them get in the boat and sends them off and then sends the crowds home. Then He goes up the mountain to pray for most of the night.

One thing we need to remember about when Jesus prays: He is an interceder. He prays for US! All the time! Read John 17 sometime realizing that is one of His prayers for us!

Jesus sent His disciples out on the Sea of Galilee at night. The fishermen in the group knew you don’t do that because it was common for fierce storms to come up at night. But Jesus wanted them to learn something. And He gave them a great miracle to do it.

It was pitch black, yet Jesus saw them straining at the oars. He knew of their fear. And He went to them. He sees our fear and distress too. He knows what we are going through. Where it says in verse 48 “He was about to pass them by”, means that He came along side of them so they could all see Him. And they did all see the miracle.

John 6:21 tells us that when Jesus stepped into the boat they were immediately where they were going. He could have gotten them there without walking on the water. But this showed them something. First they were terrified thinking He was a ghost: they still didn’t know who He was. But then Jesus said “Take courage.” Take courage is in the New Testament eight times and every time it’s Jesus saying it because He is who gives us courage.

Then He says, “It is I.” This was the Greek equivalent for the name of God in the Old Testament: Yahweh. He was telling them that Yahweh was there!
Jews were afraid of oceans and seas.

Job 9:8 He alone stretches out the heavens and treads on the waves of the sea.

Psalms 77:19 Your path led through the sea, your way through the mighty waters, though your footprints were not seen.

Habakkuk 3:15 You trampled the sea with your horses, churning the great waters.

God has majestic power over the water. Who else can calm the sea that He made?

When God came to them in their hour of need and in this way it was a changing point for them. It clicked. All the other miracles they had seen were for other people. This was for them in their own desperate need.
Matthew 14:33 says they worshipped Him saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.” To know something about God, if you don’t worship, causes hardness of heart. He changed their hearts by putting them into this unusual difficulty so they would need Him and He would meet that need.

A soft heart wants to follow God’s plan and worship Him.

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Monday, November 07, 2011

God is Giving a Dinner Party

A missionary from Romania visited our church Life Group tonight. After telling us about all the work he is doing there and in Armenia and Serbia and Spain he used the following parable to explain why he was a missionary:

Luke 14:16-35 16 Jesus replied: “A certain man was preparing a great banquet and invited many guests. 17 At the time of the banquet he sent his servant to tell those who had been invited, ‘Come, for everything is now ready.’

18 “But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said, ‘I have just bought a field, and I must go and see it. Please excuse me.’ 19 “Another said, ‘I have just bought five yoke of oxen, and I’m on my way to try them out. Please excuse me.’

20 “Still another said, ‘I just got married, so I can’t come.’ 21 “The servant came back and reported this to his master. Then the owner of the house became angry and ordered his servant, ‘Go out quickly into the streets and alleys of the town and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame.’

22 “‘Sir,’ the servant said, ‘what you ordered has been done, but there is still room.’ 23 “Then the master told his servant, ‘Go out to the roads and country lanes and compel them to come in, so that my house will be full. 24 I tell you, not one of those who were invited will get a taste of my banquet.’”

25 Large crowds were traveling with Jesus, and turning to them he said: 26 “If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple. 27 And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.

28 “Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it? 29 For if you lay the foundation and are not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule you, 30 saying, ‘This person began to build and wasn’t able to finish.’

31 “Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Won’t he first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand? 32 If he is not able, he will send a delegation while the other is still a long way off and will ask for terms of peace. 33 In the same way, those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples.

34 “Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? 35 It is fit neither for the soil nor for the manure pile; it is thrown out.

“Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear.”

God is giving a dinner and many people who have been invited have made up excuses for not going. And according to verse 24 they won’t be invited again.

Jesus answers these excuses that we have to put Him first in order to be His disciple. God is sending us out to fill His table

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Saturday, November 05, 2011

Mark 6: 30-44 The Bread of Life

Mark 6:30 – 44 30 The apostles gathered around Jesus and reported to him all they had done and taught. 31 Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.” 32 So they went away by themselves in a boat to a solitary place. 33 But many who saw them leaving recognized them and ran on foot from all the towns and got there ahead of them. 34 When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. So he began teaching them many things.

35 By this time it was late in the day, so his disciples came to him. “This is a remote place,” they said, “and it’s already very late. 36 Send the people away so that they can go to the surrounding countryside and villages and buy themselves something to eat.”

37 But he answered, “You give them something to eat.” They said to him, “That would take more than half a year’s wages! Are we to go and spend that much on bread and give it to them to eat?” 38 “How many loaves do you have?” he asked. “Go and see.” When they found out, they said, “Five—and two fish.”

39 Then Jesus directed them to have all the people sit down in groups on the green grass. 40 So they sat down in groups of hundreds and fifties. 41 Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to his disciples to distribute to the people. He also divided the two fish among them all. 42 They all ate and were satisfied, 43 and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces of bread and fish. 44 The number of the men who had eaten was five thousand.

The disciples are just getting back from their travels and want to tell Jesus all about it. They had probably had a lot of rejection and were in need of some R&R with Jesus and He wants to talk to them too. But as usual the crowds wouldn’t leave them alone.

They got in a boat to go from Capernaum to Bethsaida about four miles east. The people could see them sailing along the shore and recognized them, so figured out where they must be going and ran ahead to get there! It was eight miles by land so they must have been running really fast to beat the boat!

The story says 5000 men, so with women and children there were probably 20,000 people running!

Jesus wanted time with His disciples, but He had compassion for the crowd. He knew they were needy. Only people who are needy hunger for Christ. Hunger arises from a lack of satisfaction. The disciples hungered for Jesus Himself though while the crowd hungered for what He could do for them.

Psalm 63:1 You, God, are my God,
earnestly I seek you;
I thirst for you,
my whole being longs for you,
in a dry and parched land
where there is no water.

When you totally yearn for Christ Psalm 63:5 is your promise:

I will be fully satisfied as with the richest of foods;
with singing lips my mouth will praise you.

If you are hungry for Christ you will never miss an opportunity to commune with Him. The world never satisfies us – for long!

We know from the Matthew and Luke accounts of this story that Jesus was teaching and healing for hours. So now, in verse 38, it’s gotten late. The disciples want to send them away. In the John account we see it’s Philip who goes to tell Jesus this idea.

Jesus tells the disciples to feed them. And asked, “How many loaves do you have?”

5 loaves and 2 fish. That’s all they came up with! Jesus sat the people down in groups of 50s and 100s. He blessed the food and broke the loaves. As they passed it out from the basket, it never lessened! Jesus was miraculously multiplying the food as it was being passed out. Jesus performed the miracle to show His ability to provide for everyone. And the Bible said they all ate until they were satisfied.

The lesson to the miracle is the Lord Jesus satisfies. He is the only one who can spiritually satisfy. He is the bread of life. This is the 1st miracle in Mark that is repeated in all of the Gospels. In John, after the miracle is a confrontation with the crowd. The crowd follows them back to Capernaum and Jesus says to them in John 6:26 “Very truly I tell you, you are looking for me, not because you saw the signs I performed but because you ate the loaves and had your fill.”

And in John 6:32-35 32 Jesus said to them, “Very truly I tell you, it is not Moses who has given you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. 33 For the bread of God is the bread that comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”
34 “Sir,” they said, “always give us this bread.” 35 Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty."

They wanted more free meals. They had the bread of LIFE in their midst and they were worried about their next meal. We will never want for anything when we come to Him. Christ plus nothing. He’s ALL we need!

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