< What I Learned Teaching Sunday School: December 2012

Monday, December 31, 2012

God's Plan for Evangelism Part 2

The first thing we have to know about the Gospel is that God created us and everything else! Psalm 24:1 The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness there of: the world and those who dwell there in.

We can see what He created! And He created it out of nothing, by speaking it into existence. In His creation we can see His eternal power and divine nature. There is a grandeur of creation that calls out to the human heart “You are not all there is.” Because everything was created by God everything has a purpose. We are not random, but planned by God. We are created and because He created us God has a right to tell us how to live. We are accountable to Him. We did not create ourselves and we are not self-reliant. Because he created us He also has the right to demand that we worship Him.

Next, God is holy and just and cannot tolerate sin. Matthew 5:48 You therefore must be perfect, as your Heavenly Father is perfect.

We have sinned against Him by not honoring Him and will be judged. James 2:10 For whoever keeps the whole law, but fails in one point has become guilty of all of it.

But, God in His mercy and grace has acted in Jesus Christ to save us and we take hold of that salvation by repentance from sin and faith in Christ.

You have to know first that you need saving for the saving to be good news!

So our problem is; we have rebelled against God and need Him to forgive our sins – not judge us for them. The solution is the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ and our repentance and faith in Him.

Then we must live in a way that gives God the honor and glory that is due Him and recognize His authority over us: we are made by Him, owned by Him, dependent on Him and therefore accountable to Him!

God tells us what to do not because He’s on a power trip, but because He knows what is best for us! His laws are meant to increase our happiness and well-being. Sin is a person’s rejection of God’s creative rights over him. The Gospel is God’s response to sin.

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Sunday, December 30, 2012

God’s Plan for Evangelism

This lesson is based around a book I read by Greg Gilbert called What is the Gospel?

It has always been God’s plan to redeem people for Himself – and use the believer in this process of redemption. A believer should have a lifestyle of evangelism and be prepared to share the gospel in every situation in life.

Eden was created as God’s kingdom on earth, but the fall occurred. We need God to redeem us and the first redemptive act happened in Genesis 3:15, And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.”

Something would happen with their seed that would reverse this problem. Adam and Eve thought it would be Cain, whose name means “the spear”. (Thinking he would cause the fatal wound on Satan.) But he didn’t.

Noah’s Ark in Genesis 6 was a redemptive act. Although God destroyed most of the people he saved a seed through Noah and his family.
Then in Genesis 12: 1-3 God made a promise to Abraham. 12 The Lord had said to Abram, “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you. 2 “I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. 3 I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.”
In 2nd Samuel 7:12-14 God told David He would establish the throne of His kingdom forever through David’s offspring. This is the promise that the Messiah would come through David’s line. 12 When your days are over and you rest with your ancestors, I will raise up your offspring to succeed you, your own flesh and blood, and I will establish his kingdom. 13 He is the one who will build a house for my Name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. 14 I will be his father, and he will be my son.

And in the New Testament Jesus comes to earth. God in human flesh. He died on a cross to take all our sins and offer us righteousness. And He will come again as Lord and King.

God’s people were always supposed to take part in God’s redemption. In Leviticus 19:34 the Old Testament saints were told to share God’s message too. Proverbs 11:30 says he who is wise wins souls. And in Mark 1:14-15 Jesus preached the Gospel of God. 14 After John was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God. 15 “The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!”

Jesus was an ambassador for God’s kingdom. Back then an ambassador was someone who goes out from an angry king to explain the terms of peace. Jesus tells us how to have peace with God, “Repent and believe!”

And we are to praise God for His redemption plan!

Deuteronomy 32:43 Rejoice, you nations, with his people, for he will avenge the blood of his servants; he will take vengeance on his enemies and make atonement for his land and people.

And Ephesians 1:5-6 5 he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— 6 to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves.

God is the One who redeems. God uses His people to redeem others and His people are useful in redeeming others by practicing and proclaiming God’s salvation.

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Thursday, December 27, 2012

The New Covenant Mark 14:27-31

Mark 14:27-31 27 You will all fall away,” Jesus told them, “for it is written: “‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered.’ 28 But after I have risen, I will go ahead of you into Galilee.”

29 Peter declared, “Even if all fall away, I will not.”

30 “Truly I tell you,” Jesus answered, “today—yes, tonight—before the rooster crows twice you yourself will disown me three times.”

31 But Peter insisted emphatically, “Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you.” And all the others said the same.

God made us a promise and Jesus is the promise keeper. Back in verse 24 Jesus said, “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many”. God is a covenant making God. All throughout the Bible. A covenant is an expression of God’s desire to know us.

And every time there was a covenant man broke it. All the old covenants: with Abraham, with Moses, were sealed with the blood of an animal. And then the prophet Jeremiah spoke of a new covenant.

Jeremiah 31:31-33 31 “The days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when I will make a new covenant with the people of Israel and with the people of Judah. 32 It will not be like the covenant I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt, because they broke my covenant, though I was a husband to them,” declares the Lord.
33 “This is the covenant I will make with the people of Israel after that time,” declares the Lord. “I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God,
and they will be my people.”

God wants to relate to us. He wants us to be His people. He wants to be our God. This covenant would be different then the ones carved in stone. This one would be in our hearts. And that was accomplished by the Holy Spirit moving into a believer’s body. This is being born again.

But blood would still have to be shed and the disciples of course knew this Jeremiah passage and were waiting all their lives to see whose blood it would be. And now Jesus told them. His blood! He was the sacrifice.

Luke 22:20 20 In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.

Jesus also refers to Himself as the shepherd in this passage. ‘I will strike down the shepherd (Jesus) and the sheep (the disciples) will scatter.” This refers to another Old Testament passage Zechariah 13:7 Awake, sword, against my shepherd, against the man who is close to me!” declares the Lord Almighty. “Strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered, and I will turn my hand against the little ones.”

“Against the man who is close to me.” God would strike His shepherd, His very own son. And the sheep would scatter.

The disciples heard this much and got all huffy because they didn’t like to be called faithless. They totally missed where Jesus said he’d rise and go ahead of them to Galilee. Peter jumped in saying everyone else might desert Him, but not him! Jesus was wrong! But Jesus told him that he, Peter, would deny Him three times that very night.

Peter wasn’t listening and therefore he wasn’t doing what he was supposed to be doing. He was trying to do everything his own way. Peter did become humble later. Probably that very night when Peter had just finished saying the third denial and the cock crowded and he looked up to see Jesus watching him across the courtyard. Can you imagine how Peter felt in that moment? But would Jesus have looked at him with anything but love, understanding and forgiveness?

And because He rose and because He forgave Peter, Peter told this story to Mark – with all of Peter’s faults in it – and it became the Gospel of Mark. And Peter became a pillar in the early Christian church.

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Sunday, December 16, 2012

Jesus turns the Passover dinner into our Communion

Pastor Kurt Gebhards continued preaching on the Gospel of Mark today. Here are my notes:

Mark 14:22-26 22 While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take it; this is my body.”

23 Then he took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, and they all drank from it.

24 “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many,” he said to them. 25 “Truly I tell you, I will not drink again from the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God.”

26 When they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.

Jesus was hosting a Passover dinner for His closest friends. This is a dinner of Thanksgiving to God for getting them out of Egypt back in Exodus 12 and had been celebrated by the Jews for the 1400 years since then.

At this dinner Jesus transforms it into our Communion.

We remember the story of Jacob and his 12 sons. How Joseph was his favorite and some of his brothers were so jealous they sold him into slavery and he ended up in Egypt. But because of his faith in God he rose to become the second highest official in Egypt. Later because of a huge famine his family and people join him there and the Israelites are together and safe. Eventually though when that Pharaoh died and was replaced they became slaves and called out to God to free them.

Then Moses steps in and there are 10 plagues, each worse then the last, until finally the first born of every family in Egypt would be killed if they didn’t put blood from an unblemished lamb on their doorframe so the angel of death would see the blood and pass over that house and they would be saved. The Passover. God told the Israelites ahead of time what to do to be saved. The blood on the door was a sign that you believed in God’s plan for your deliverance.  And because they believed Him and did it, they were spared. But the Egyptian first borns were all killed and that finally convinced Pharaoh to let the Israelites go.

Every year since they would celebrate God’s deliverance with this meal. In fact God commanded them to do this

Exodus 12:3,5,13-14 Tell the whole community of Israel that on the tenth day of this month each man is to take a lamb for his family, one for each household. 5 The animals you choose must be year-old males without defect, and you may take them from the sheep or the goats.  13 The blood will be a sign for you on the houses where you are, and when I see the blood, I will pass over you. No destructive plague will touch you when I strike Egypt.14 “This is a day you are to commemorate; for the generations to come you shall celebrate it as a festival to the Lord—a lasting ordinance.

Judgment was deserved. But God wanted to save His people and He had a plan to do that.

Today God wants to save His children. And He has a plan to do that too. Jesus’ blood, of course, is what God sees when He looks at His believers. We are covered in His blood when we believe in His work on the cross. Jesus is what keeps us from judgment.

The feast of unleavened bread is why our communion uses unleavened bread. Leaven is a sign of sin. This is a call to remove the sin from your life. When God delivers us we are to become sanctified. To show a life that has been altered by His work. The Passover didn’t leave them in Egypt. He delivered them out of it. God delivers us to change us!

Why did the lamb have to die? It was unblemished and spotless. But something had to die because the wages of sin is death. So the lamb, a perfect lamb, was their substitute. God established a provision for someone to die in their place and also in ours.

John 1:29 29 The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! and again in John 1:35 35 The next day John was there again with two of his disciples. 36 When he saw Jesus passing by, he said, “Look, the Lamb of God!”

The Jews were aware of the lamb that would serve as their substitute and John the Baptist said quite plainly “There he is!” Jesus Christ is our substitute. Only Jesus was perfect enough to take our place. In this Mark passage Jesus says while breaking the bread, “This is my body.” (In other words I am the substitute, not the lamb anymore, Me!”) And “This is my blood poured out” (His blood will cover us now, not the lamb’s). Christ is not just with us, He is for us! He came on our behalf. He died in our place!

Hebrews 9:22 answers the question of the need for the blood, for the substitute. 22 In fact, the law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.

All of the goodness in the world couldn’t make up for 1 sin against God. Because sinning is against God and it’s like declaring war against Him. But He is willing to be at peace with us. And look at the lengths He went to, to do it! So Jesus here tells us that His flesh would be broken and His blood would be poured out.

Isaiah 50:6-7 I offered my back to those who beat me, my cheeks to those who pulled out my beard; I did not hide my face from mocking and spitting.

Isaiah was prophesying about the Messiah. And this happened to Jesus exactly as written. But notice it says “I offered” and “I did not hide my face”. Jesus gave Himself to the people who beat Him for us! His flesh WAS broken. He was pierced by a spear in His side. His blood DID pour out. When Jesus broke the bread He wasn’t saying the bread was His body, but breaking it was showing He was going to die and that His body would be broken. We do this in communion to remember that He died for us.

Matthew 26:28 says the reason His blood is poured out is “for the remission of sins.” Romans 8:32 says He was delivered over for us. And Paul says in Galatians 2:20 “He “gave Himself for me!”

God loved us in our sin so much that He sacrificed His beloved Son to save us.

In verse 25 it says He isn’t going to drink of the cup again until He’s in the kingdom. He’s going to have another dinner someday. He let the disciples know that when He died on Friday it wasn’t the end!

The question for each of us is “Have I been covered by His blood? Have I accepted His provision?”

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Friday, December 14, 2012

The Reason for the Season!

A friend put this on Facebook and I wanted to share!

Merry Christmas!

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Sunday, December 09, 2012

Betrayed! Mark 14:10-21

Mark 14:10-21 10 Then Judas Iscariot, one of the Twelve, went to the chief priests to betray Jesus to them. 11 They were delighted to hear this and promised to give him money. So he watched for an opportunity to hand him over.

12 On the first day of the Festival of Unleavened Bread, when it was customary to sacrifice the Passover lamb, Jesus’ disciples asked him, “Where do you want us to go and make preparations for you to eat the Passover?”

13 So he sent two of his disciples, telling them, “Go into the city, and a man carrying a jar of water will meet you. Follow him. 14 Say to the owner of the house he enters, ‘The Teacher asks: Where is my guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?’ 15 He will show you a large room upstairs, furnished and ready. Make preparations for us there.”

16 The disciples left, went into the city and found things just as Jesus had told them. So they prepared the Passover. 17 When evening came, Jesus arrived with the Twelve. 18 While they were reclining at the table eating, he said, “Truly I tell you, one of you will betray me—one who is eating with me.”

19 They were saddened, and one by one they said to him, “Surely you don’t mean me?” 20 “It is one of the Twelve,” he replied, “one who dips bread into the bowl with me. 21 The Son of Man will go just as it is written about him. But woe to that man who betrays the Son of Man! It would be better for him if he had not been born.”

Passover feast is like our Christmas: very important. It’s a little surprising that Jesus and the disciples hadn’t prepared for it until that morning. But really, Jesus did have it planned. He told them exactly what to do. Telling them to find the man in the city carrying a jar of water wouldn’t have been as hard as it sounds. Men didn’t usually carry jars of water. And the room was already set up. This would be the setting of the Last Supper. And this part of the story is about Judas.

Unlike Jesus, who was born in poverty and had to flee the country with his parents to avoid being killed by Herod: Judas was born into a religious family of means. His parents gave him his name after Judah one of the most important of the twelve tribes of Israel. They wanted to honor their religious heritage. Judas was proud. He was pro-Israel: a nationalist. He would have grown up looking for the Messiah who would overthrow the Romans. Judas would have heard of John the Baptist first, stirring everyone up about the coming Messiah. Then he would have heard about Jesus healing and preaching. And when Jesus told him to follow Him, he did so.

He was enthusiastic in the beginning. In John 6 Jesus told His disciples that one of them was a devil and they ALL wondered who it was. He was singled out to carry the groups’ common purse. They trusted him. And Judas saw all the miracles: Jesus walking on water, feeding the 5000, raising people from the dead, etc. But his initial enthusiasm had soured.

Jesus kept turning away the offer to make Him king. All of the disciples were confused, but Judas was becoming bitter. From unmet expectations. In John chapter 12 we see that Judas was the one who complained the most about Mary “wasting” the perfumed oil. And this finally pushed him to act. He went to the Jewish officials and offered Jesus’ life for a price.

He felt like Jesus owed him. After all he had given up everything to follow Him nearly three years ago. And for what? He’d been stealing from the common purse here and there to “make up for some of it” but that wasn’t enough anymore.

30 pieces of silver was only a few hundred dollars. But Judas took it on Wednesday night. Then all day Thursday he hung around with Jesus including at the Passover meal where Jesus washed all His disciples feet.

At the dinner Jesus said “one of you will betray me”. Again everyone wondered and even asked “Rabbi it’s not me is it?” But this time he knew! And so did Jesus. He told John it would be the one who dips his bread into the bowl with him. And then he told Judas, “What you do, do quickly.” And Judas left.

Judas would have known that Jesus liked to get away and pray in the Garden of Gethsemane and he told the Jews they could find Him there. In the garden Jesus asked Peter, James and John to stay awake and pray with Him, but they fell asleep only to be awakened by the noise of an entire Roman cohort (600 soldiers) and the Jewish leaders and Judas coming toward them.

Judas gives the signal by kissing Jesus who is taken into custody while the disciples fled.

That night Judas’ conscious attacked him. He had SOLD Christ for 30 pieces of silver! And he knew that Jesus was innocent. Early Friday he tries to get the money back, but the priests won’t take it, so he throws it on the floor at their feet and runs to hang himself at the edge of a cliff. The rope breaks and he falls down into a field bursting open. Later the priests used the “blood money” to make this land into a graveyard for strangers.

What can we learn from Judas? Judas started with a favorable impression of Jesus. And he had faith in what He could do. But that didn’t equal salvation. It takes more then believing in the miracles. He expected the wrong thing from Jesus and that led to disillusionment.

There are people today who believe the facts about Jesus, but they are disillusioned because He’s not doing what they want Him to do. So they turn away from Him and to the world for their help. This leads to rebellion and then to ruin.

We think that Judas was the worst betrayer ever. But he wasn’t. We are worse because we know more! We’ve seen that Christ died and rose for our sins. And yet we betray Him with our disobedience and lack of faith, our judgment of what He does or doesn’t do for us, every single day.

But the good news is, Christ will forgive us at any step whenever we ask. We need to trust Him, His will, and His work completely.

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Sunday, December 02, 2012

Oh Come Let Us Adore Him - Mark 14:1-9

I was worried Pastor Kurt Gebhards would take a break from preaching on the Gospel of Mark because in Mark we are right at the Easter story and of course we are in the Christmas season now. But as he explained today "Christmas has no meaning without Easter. Jesus came to die." Here are my notes from today's sermon.
Mark 14:1-9 14 Now the Passover and the Festival of Unleavened Bread were only two days away, and the chief priests and the teachers of the law were scheming to arrest Jesus secretly and kill him. 2 “But not during the festival,” they said, “or the people may riot.”
3 While he was in Bethany, reclining at the table in the home of Simon the Leper, a woman came with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, made of pure nard. She broke the jar and poured the perfume on his head.

4 Some of those present were saying indignantly to one another, “Why this waste of perfume? 5 It could have been sold for more than a year’s wages and the money given to the poor.” And they rebuked her harshly.

6 “Leave her alone,” said Jesus. “Why are you bothering her? She has done a beautiful thing to me. 7 The poor you will always have with you, and you can help them any time you want. But you will not always have me. 8 She did what she could. She poured perfume on my body beforehand to prepare for my burial. 9 Truly I tell you, wherever the gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.”

The Passover and the feast of the unleavened bread is when the Passover lamb is brought into Jerusalem. Jesus was the Passover lamb and had come to Jerusalem. We only know of three times in his three year ministry that He came to the city. The chief priests would never arrest Him in His own territory; only on their turf. He came to them.

They had a plot. But God had a plan! He planned it! Jesus told them over and over and over again, “I am going to Jerusalem to die.” God was never caught off guard. He never will be! He planned this for Himself. For God’s Glory. And for us.

Jesus liked to stay in Bethany when He came to Jerusalem. He had good friends there. Simon the Leper was no longer a leper because Jesus had cleansed him. The woman with the perfume was Mary, the sister of Martha and Lazarus. The Lazarus that Jesus had very recently brought back from the dead.

Perfume in those days was extremely expensive. They didn’t readily have a way to store their wealth back then so they would store it in their stuff. And perfumed oil was one way to do that. This was 12oz. of very potent and precious perfume in an elaborate alabaster vial. The oil could have been sold for a year’s wage. (Today $30,000.00 to $40,000.00) And the vial maybe another $1000.00. Mary broke the vial! She didn’t have to. She could have poured it out. But she wanted to show expressive, unlimited worship because He was worth it!

In Mark it says she poured it on His head. In the John account it says she also poured it on His feet and rubbed it in with her hair. This would have been scandalous! But she didn’t care because she had an audience of One! He wasn’t just worth a lot – He was worthy of everything!

1 Peter 2:7 Now to you who believe, this stone is precious.

Some of the people there thought it was a waste and they scolded her saying the money could have been given to the poor. They still didn’t get it. But Jesus was so patient with them when He explained she did it for His burial.

There was nothing wrong in them saying they should help the poor. But this wasn’t the priority here. There shouldn’t be a list of priorities in our lives, like: God first, family second, etc. There is only 1 priority and it’s God!

He was telling them He would only be with them for a little while more. He tells us we will only have so long to accept Him. We are only on this earth for a short time and then it will be too late.

When we do help the poor we must always share the Gospel too. We should help take care of their physical needs, but more importantly their spiritual needs. God wants His children to come home to Him above all else!

In verse six Jesus said Mary had done a good thing TO Him. Not for Him. For Him is extending a cup of water to the thirsty, or paying a tithe. To Him is fellowship with Him, worship of Him, friendship!

Why was Mary aware that He was going to die so soon and the disciples weren’t? Remember the story of Mary and Martha where Mary didn’t help Martha because she was sitting at Jesus’ feet? Mary loved listening to Jesus. She had a relationship with Him. And she worshiped Him lavishly because of it. If your worship is dim it’s because your relationship is weak.

This act was so precious to Jesus because that whole week He knew exactly what was going to take place and the disciples kept dismissing it. Brushing it aside like it wouldn’t happen. But Mary got it. She shared in His suffering. You know this week is called Passion Week because of the intense pain and suffering Jesus went through. Not only on the cross but leading up to it.

Jesus told the others that wherever the Gospel was preached in the world the story of Mary and her vial of perfume would be told. Why? Because this story illustrates the power of God to change us. Mary was changed. She didn’t need a safety net. And she didn’t hold anything back.

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