< What I Learned Teaching Sunday School: August 2012

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Love the Lord your God with all of your heart

Mark 12:30 30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’

We throw the word love around lightly in the 21st century. Maybe a better word here would be “treasure”. You can love a dress or vanilla ice cream. But treasure is adoration. Worship. And when we know God genuinely we will treasure Him.

Loving God with all of your heart is to obey Him. The heart is the mission control center of your life.

Proverbs 4:23 Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.

Jesus is asking for a submitted love, an obedient love.

John 14:15 If you love me, keep my commands.

If you say your heart belongs to God then that will manifest itself in your actions. Love includes feelings, thinking AND doing.

Loving God with all of your soul is the feeling part of love. It’s passion, zeal and a personal relationship. It’s getting excited about God! Enjoying Him!

Loving god with all of your mind means to esteem him. We are told to hold our thoughts captive. Everything we do must glorify God.

1 Peter 3:15 But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord.

Loving God with all of your strength means to exert yourself for Him. Be active in the church. Make disciples!

If Christ had just loved us without doing – we wouldn’t have the promise of Heaven!

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Friday, August 24, 2012

The LORD our God is One God

Pastor Kurt continued his sermons on the Gospel of Mark Sunday:

Mark 12:28 – 31 28 One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”

29 “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ 31 The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”

A scribe asks Jesus which one commandment is the greatest. It looks like Jesus answers with the top two, but really He’s giving three parts to the greatest commandment.

They are: to know God genuinely, to worship God exclusively and to serve others wholeheartedly.

We’ll start with the first: To know God genuinely.

God is demanding that we hear Him! That we listen to Him! “Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God, the Lord is one.” This is the John 3:16 of the Old Testament. John 3:16 is probably the most well known verse in the New Testament and Deuteronomy 6: 4-9 was that for the Jews. It is known as the Shema, which is the Hebrew word for hear. And the Jewish people recited this verse all the time.

4 Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one5 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. 6 These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts.

Bible hearing is more then just hearing. You can hear without listening and you can listen without taking it in and you can take it in without determining to do something about it and you can determine to do something about it without actually taking action.

Bible hearing is to hear, to internalize, to determine you are going to live it out and then live it out. You listen in such a way that you obey! Remember it is the doer of the Word not the hearer of the Word who is blessed.

How do we “hear” God? By reading His Word: the Bible. We don’t go with our feelings or to a friend for advice or trust in circumstances or read other Christian books. This is the only book that is His Word!

2 Timothy 3:16 – 17 16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the servant of God] may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

And what are we supposed to hear exactly? “The Lord, our God, is one Lord.” We are supposed to pay attention to who God is. To His character. So we can know Him better.

In Bible times names meant something about what a person was. LORD in all caps, which you will see often in the Bible, indicates that the word behind this is Yahweh. The name God gave Himself. Yahweh is actually a Hebrew verb meaning ‘to be.” When God said His name in the Bible, He said, “I am.” He is eternal and unchanging.

Isaiah 41:4 Who has done this and carried it through, calling forth the generations from the beginning?  I, the Lord, with the first of them and with the last, I am he.”

Jesus, The Lord, is the Yahweh of the Old Testament. It’s hard to wrap our heads around the Trinity, but we have one God.

After it says “Our Lord” it says “Our God”. Yahweh set God up high. Separate from us. Our God makes Him ours. He is with us!

Just from this we know He’s generous – He gave Himself to us. He’s is for us – He’s our advocate, and He is humble – He lowered Himself to live among us and allowed Himself to be treated the way He was! He is Our God.

The sentence ends with is One God. He alone is King of the universe. God doesn’t need us to do anything for Him. He just wants us to know Him and we start to know Him by listening to Him. Hear, O Israel! Hear, O Church!

From this we learn He is Holy and perfect in everyway. The only way we can have a relationship with a perfect and Holy God is through Jesus and His blood.

The difference between knowing God and knowing about God is the difference between Heaven and Hell. “About” is fact accumulation. Knowing is appreciating who He is. You will never know the presence of God until you understand the person of God.

2 Peter 3:18 But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen.

Philippians 3:8 What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ

Hosea 6:6 6 For I desire mercy, not sacrifice,  and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings.

Jeremiah 9:24 but let the one who boasts boast about this: that they have the understanding to know me, that I am the Lord, who exercises kindness,  justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight,” declares the Lord.

The most important thing you need to know about Jesus? The Lord Jesus Christ is willing to be your Savior and friend. So first we have to turn from our sins and trust Him. Then listen! To everything He tells us about Himself!

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Thursday, August 16, 2012

Come Cruise the Mediterranean with me!

The Italians have a phrase: "la dolce vita." It means The Sweet Life. And I'm convinced we'll experience that on the Mediterranean Cruise my husband and I will be escorting next April.
The ports are amazing: Athens, Sicily, Crete and Turkey. I've been studying up on Turkey as most reviews say this was the reviewer's favorite.

The picture below is a picture of the port - Kusadasi

Most people take a shore excursion to Ephesus, but all leave time to shop here (Turkish rugs, leather goods, copper trays, traditional Turkish tea services and intricate silver and gold jewelry.) You'll even be able to watch the Turkish rugs being made.

From the port to Ephesus you will pass olive, peach and lemon orchards.

Ephesus itself was once one of the largest and most important cities of the ancient world with a population of half a million people during its peak. You'll see where the Apostle Paul preached, the Virgin Mary lived in her last years, walk the streets where Alexander the Great walked and along the Arcadian Way, where once Mark Antony and Cleopatra rode in procession.

So here's the link to all the pricing and information again. There's still time to join us on our excellent adventure!


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Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Christ's Authority

Mark 12:13-27 13 Later they sent some of the Pharisees and Herodians to Jesus to catch him in his words. 14 They came to him and said, “Teacher, we know that you are a man of integrity. You aren’t swayed by others, because you pay no attention to who they are; but you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. Is it right to pay the imperial tax to Caesar or not? 15 Should we pay or shouldn’t we?”

But Jesus knew their hypocrisy. “Why are you trying to trap me?” he asked. “Bring me a denarius and let me look at it.” 16 They brought the coin, and he asked them, “Whose image is this? And whose inscription?”

“Caesar’s,” they replied.

17 Then Jesus said to them, “Give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s.”

And they were amazed at him.

18 Then the Sadducees, who say there is no resurrection, came to him with a question. 19 “Teacher,” they said, “Moses wrote for us that if a man’s brother dies and leaves a wife but no children, the man must marry the widow and raise up offspring for his brother. 20 Now there were seven brothers. The first one married and died without leaving any children. 21 The second one married the widow, but he also died, leaving no child. It was the same with the third. 22 In fact, none of the seven left any children. Last of all, the woman died too. 23 At the resurrection whose wife will she be, since the seven were married to her?”

24 Jesus replied, “Are you not in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God? 25 When the dead rise, they will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven. 26 Now about the dead rising—have you not read in the Book of Moses, in the account of the burning bush, how God said to him, ‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? 27 He is not the God of the dead, but of the living. You are badly mistaken!”

Two illustrations in this passage show that dethroning God is foolish. One is about the taxes and the second is about marriage. And really they didn’t care about either taxes or marriage, they were just trying to trip Him up.

What we learn about taxes from the Bible is: part of what you own is due to the government and all of what you own belongs to God. And about marriage: in heaven marriage has evolved into a beautiful transformation, just like our bodies will be similar but different.

All of Mark chapter 12 is about Christ’s authority. When Jesus told them the parable, they rejected the message. God has told us His message in the Bible. We must not reject it.

Here are 6 ways you know you are “religious” “if”:

  1. You find yourself just going through the motions.
  2. You attend a church without investing in it.
  3. You are motivated by guilt instead of grace.
  4. You compare yourself to the person who is worse then you.
  5. You are hard hearted and prideful in your service.
  6. You come to church to be with your friends instead of reaching out to the people who need Christ.


Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Jesus is the Sovereign King of the Universe

Mark 12:9-12 9 “What then will the owner of the vineyard do? He will come and kill those tenants and give the vineyard to others. 10 Haven’t you read this passage of Scripture:

“‘The stone the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone; 11 the Lord has done this,
and it is marvelous in our eyes’?”

Then the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the elders looked for a way to arrest him because they knew he had spoken the parable against them. But they were afraid of the crowd; so they left him and went away.

Jesus tells them what the vineyard owner (God) will do. Because no one can dethrone God. We didn’t put Him there and we can’t pull Him off. The verse He quotes is from Psalm 118:22-23 22 The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone;  23 the Lord has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes.

Every believer’s foundation is Christ. Religions and people who try to take his place will be judged. Here are just a few verses showing God’s sovereignty:

Job 42:1-2
Then Job replied to the Lord. 2 “I know that you can do all things;  no purpose of yours can be thwarted.

Psalm 33:11 But the plans of the Lord stand firm forever, the purposes of his heart through all generations.

Psalm 103:19 The Lord has established his throne in heaven, and his kingdom rules over all.

Psalm 115:13 he will bless those who fear the Lord—small and great alike.

Psalm 135:6 The Lord does whatever pleases him, in the heavens and on the earth,
in the seas and all their depths.

Proverbs 19:21 Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.

Daniel 4:34-35
34 At the end of that time, I, Nebuchadnezzar, raised my eyes toward heaven, and my sanity was restored. Then I praised the Most High; I honored and glorified him who lives forever.
His dominion is an eternal dominion; his kingdom endures from generation to generation. 35 All the peoples of the earth are regarded as nothing.  He does as he pleases with the powers of heaven and the peoples of the earth. No one can hold back his hand or say to him: “What have you done?”

The Lord Jesus Christ is the Sovereign King of the universe.  

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Monday, August 13, 2012

God on the Throne

This next section has to do with the difference between “religion” and Christianity. Religion is constantly trying to dethrone God. Think about Catholics who pray to saints and worship the Virgin Mary and bow down to the Pope. Or Mormons who have to ask the Bishop for forgiveness. Christianity is all about Jesus and our relationship with Him and acknowledging what He did for us.

Mark 12:1-8
Jesus then began to speak to them in parables: “A man planted a vineyard. He put a wall around it, dug a pit for the winepress and built a watchtower. Then he rented the vineyard to some farmers and moved to another place. 2 At harvest time he sent a servant to the tenants to collect from them some of the fruit of the vineyard. 3 But they seized him, beat him and sent him away empty-handed. 4 Then he sent another servant to them; they struck this man on the head and treated him shamefully. 5 He sent still another, and that one they killed. He sent many others; some of them they beat, others they killed. 6 “He had one left to send, a son, whom he loved. He sent him last of all, saying, ‘They will respect my son.’ 7 “But the tenants said to one another, ‘This is the heir. Come, let’s kill him, and the inheritance will be ours.’ 8 So they took him and killed him, and threw him out of the vineyard.

Jesus was talking to the chief priests, scribes and church elders here. His parable actually referred to a passage in Isaiah they would have been familiar with:

Isaiah 5:1-2 I will sing for the one I love a song about his vineyard:  My loved one had a vineyard on a fertile hillside. 2 He dug it up and cleared it of stones and planted it with the choicest vines. He built a watchtower in it and cut out a winepress as well. Then he looked for a crop of good grapes, but it yielded only bad fruit.

God had given Israel everything and they turned against Him. Now Jesus is telling the church leaders that they are the reason “the wine is bad.” And He also tells them that the vineyard owner (God) sent His own Son and they were going to kill Him. In just 3 days this is exactly what happened!

 Jesus was letting them know He knew about their plot and that they were under condemnation because they had killed the other profits and now planned on killing Christ.

 The church leaders were trying to dethrone God. Instead of doing everything for God’s glory, they did it for their own.

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Saturday, August 11, 2012

5 Characteristics of a Christian

A missionary, Shannon Hurley, preached at our church last week on Hebrews 11. Toward the end of his sermon he listed 5 characteristics of a Christian:

  1. A person who confidently lives in the light of the Word of God. (We believe because God says so! And if we know that what God says will happen it motivates our life.)
  2. A person who lives for Heaven. (We are strangers and exiles on earth. Our reward is in Heaven!)
  3. A person who abstains from sin. (A Christian runs from sin because we know the pleasure of sin makes us miserable.)
  4. A person who chooses to suffer. (We speak the truth not caring what people think about us. And we bear others’ burdens. We also give up our time to help in the church and the community.)
  5. A person who lives a radical and exciting life. (We see God do what is humanly impossible!)


Friday, August 03, 2012

More from Mark Chapter 11

We’re going to skip the next few verses and come back to them.

Mark 11: 15-18 15 On reaching Jerusalem, Jesus entered the temple courts and began driving out those who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves, 16 and would not allow anyone to carry merchandise through the temple courts. 17 And as he taught them, he said, “Is it not written: ‘My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations’? But you have made it ‘a den of robbers.’”

18 The chief priests and the teachers of the law heard this and began looking for a way to kill him, for they feared him, because the whole crowd was amazed at his teaching.

This is the second time Jesus cleansed the temple. The first was in the beginning of His ministry. The area this took place in was The Court of the Gentiles. And it was HUGE! 45 acres! Because it was Passover week there would have been tens of thousands of people there that day. And Jesus shut it down!

The reason He was angry was because travelers coming to worship God had to get their Roman coins changed into temple currency and the money changers would charge them a lot to do that. Then they would take this devalued currency and buy animals to sacrifice and they were charged two and three times too much for the animals.

And Christ had had enough! God owned the temple! Only God’s authority could have shut this down on the busiest day of the year. Everyone recognized His authority when He spoke and they were afraid. But the high priests and the money changers hated Him because of it. He wrecked their finances.

Now back to the verses we skipped:

Mark 11: 12-14 12 The next day as they were leaving Bethany, Jesus was hungry. 13 Seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, he went to find out if it had any fruit. When he reached it, he found nothing but leaves, because it was not the season for figs. 14 Then he said to the tree, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again.” And his disciples heard him say it.

This tree had a lot of leaves, a lot of show, but no figs. This is a parable about the scribes and Pharisees. They made a lot of show about their religion, but there was no fruit.

Christ is the creator of everything, which means He has authority over everything. Which means He also has the right to judge us.

Colossians 1:16-18 16 For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. 17 He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy.

The fig tree had a purpose: to make figs. So when it failed to make figs it wasn’t good for anything anymore. Believers were created to bear fruit.

Colossians 1: 9-13 9 For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, 10 so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, 11 being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, 12 and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light. 13 For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves,

Mark 11:19-26 19 When evening came, Jesus and his disciples went out of the city. 20 In the morning, as they went along, they saw the fig tree withered from the roots. 21 Peter remembered and said to Jesus, “Rabbi, look! The fig tree you cursed has withered!”

22 “Have faith in God,” Jesus answered. 23 “Truly I tell you, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in their heart but believes that what they say will happen, it will be done for them. 24 Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. 25 And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.”

Peter is surprised that the fig tree has died. Instead of answering Peter’s comment, He talks about faith. To build theirs up. He says a primary way to have faith is through prayer. Verse 23 speaks of the power of faith, of prayer. God is able to do amazing and miraculous things. When you trust in God He is able to do the impossible.

It’s not about us being able to do something; it’s about God able to do anything! The enemy of faith is skepticism. If we want to do what’s healthy for our souls we will bow the knee and say, “Yes, Lord.’ Faith comes from knowing Christ and obeying Him.

And where this passage talks about forgiving? Unforgiveness in your heart is disbelief in God’s power and His love for you. When you live in forgiveness you let God deal with the offense. If you hold onto it, it’s like saying you don’t trust Him to take care of it.

Mark 11:27-33 27 They arrived again in Jerusalem, and while Jesus was walking in the temple courts, the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the elders came to him. 28 “By what authority are you doing these things?” they asked. “And who gave you authority to do this?”

29 Jesus replied, “I will ask you one question. Answer me, and I will tell you by what authority I am doing these things. 30 John’s baptism—was it from heaven, or of human origin? Tell me!”

31 They discussed it among themselves and said, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will ask, ‘Then why didn’t you believe him?’ 32 But if we say, ‘Of human origin’ …” (They feared the people, for everyone held that John really was a prophet.)

33 So they answered Jesus, “We don’t know.”

Jesus said, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things.”

The scribes and Pharisees asked him by what authority He had to kick out all the money changers from the temple. They were always trying to trip up Jesus. But it never worked because He knows ALL! Christ IS wisdom! He made everything, He knows how it works and He knows how to fix it! We can trust in Him alone!

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