< What I Learned Teaching Sunday School: April 2012

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Gaither Homecoming 2012

John and I were in Nashville last week and Friday night he took me to The Gaither Homecoming 2012 concert as an early birthday present! I had never been to one before although I listen to them on You Tube sometimes and I’ve seen David Phelps in concert before and also heard Gloria Gaither at a Hearts of Worship conference.

It was three and a half hours of wonderful music and worship! Mark Lowry who wrote “Mary Did You Know” (my favorite!) was part of the group and sang it! Chills!

Can’t wait to go to another one!

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Monday, April 16, 2012

Thus Minded

In Pastor Kurt’s sermon this week he pointed out something really interesting. He was preaching on Philippians 3: 12 – 17 and in verses 14 – 16: 14 I press on toward the goal unto the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. 15 Let us therefore, as many as are perfect, be thus minded: and if in anything ye are otherwise minded, this also shall God reveal unto you: 16 only, whereunto we have attained, by that same rule let us walk.

He asked, “What does thus minded mean? Well scripture answers scripture so turn to”:

Philippians 5: 5-8 5 In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: 6 Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; 7 rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross!

We see that thus minded means having the same mindset as Jesus. What was His mindset? Look at:

Philippians 2:1-11 1 If there is therefore any exhortation in Christ, if any consolation of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any tender mercies and compassions, 2 make full my joy, that ye be of the same mind, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind; 3 doing nothing through faction or through vainglory, but in lowliness of mind each counting other better than himself; 4 not looking each of you to his own things, but each of you also to the things of others.

5 Have this mind in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: 6 who, existing in the form of God, counted not the being on an equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being made in the likeness of men; 8 and being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, becoming obedient even unto death, yea, the death of the cross.

9 Wherefore also God highly exalted him, and gave unto him the name which is above every name; 10 that in the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven and things on earth and things under the earth, 11 and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

His mindset was a humility that lead to sacrifice. It was a humility, graciousness and kindness that was focused on others.

So that’s how we need to be!

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Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Mark 9: 42-50

Mark 9: 42-50 42 “If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them if a large millstone were hung around their neck and they were thrown into the sea. 43 If your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life maimed than with two hands to go into hell, where the fire never goes out. [44] 45 And if your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life crippled than to have two feet and be thrown into hell. [46] 47 And if your eye causes you to stumble, pluck it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into hell, 48 where “‘the worms that eat them do not die, and the fire is not quenched.’

49 Everyone will be salted with fire. 50 “Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can you make it salty again? Have salt among yourselves, and be at peace with each other.”

Jesus tells us clearly here how we are to treat other believers (little ones). We are to keep them upright. Sustain them in righteousness. Strive for unity in the body of Christ. Don’t speak badly of them or tempt them to sin.

Jesus said to cause someone to stumble was worse then tying a millstone around their neck and throwing themselves into water. The Jews hated water. They were afraid of drowning. Millstones, used to grind wheat, were enormous and very heavy. It was a scary picture.

Verses 43 to 48 are about the harm we do to ourselves when we sin. We tend to take sin really casually. Too casually. The word for hell that Jesus uses here is Gehenna. This was the Valley of Hinnom west of Jerusalem. Its history was littered with horror. King Ahaz sacrificed children there. Righteous King Josiah turned it into a garbage dump. There were constantly burning fires there to get rid of the stuff and it stunk. The fire wasn’t ever quenched because it was constantly being fed.

Hell is very real. God has planted eternity into our souls. We will all live forever; it’s up to us where we spend that time. Anyone who hears about Christ makes a decision about Him and that decision decides where we will spend eternity.

2 Corinthians 7:1 1 Therefore, since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God.

Even though we are saved and forgiven we need to separate ourselves from sin and work at living a holy life. Some of us need to make radical changes in our lives.

We must consecrate our life for God’s usefulness. We are to worship Him alone. Obey Him alone; no matter what. We are to be living sacrifices to Him. Jesus talks about salt in the last part of this section. Salt was good. Pure salt would last without changing for hundreds of years. But back then some people mixed gypsum in it to make it cheaper. This salt was unstable. You can’t mix things in. Christians can’t be half in and half out. We need to be 100% committed. If we only give part, the remaining part will get taken over by the world. And God knows that’s not what’s best for us.

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Monday, April 09, 2012

Mark 9: 30 - 41

Mark 9:30-41 30 They left that place and passed through Galilee. Jesus did not want anyone to know where they were, 31 because he was teaching his disciples. He said to them, “The Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men. They will kill him, and after three days he will rise.” 32 But they did not understand what he meant and were afraid to ask him about it.

33 They came to Capernaum. When he was in the house, he asked them, “What were you arguing about on the road?” 34 But they kept quiet because on the way they had argued about who was the greatest.

35 Sitting down, Jesus called the Twelve and said, “Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last, and the servant of all.”

36 He took a little child whom he placed among them. Taking the child in his arms, he said to them, 37 “Whoever welcomes one of these little children in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me does not welcome me but the one who sent me.”

38 “Teacher,” said John, “we saw someone driving out demons in your name and we told him to stop, because he was not one of us.”

39 “Do not stop him,” Jesus said. “For no one who does a miracle in my name can in the next moment say anything bad about me, 40 for whoever is not against us is for us. 41 Truly I tell you, anyone who gives you a cup of water in my name because you belong to the Messiah will certainly not lose their reward.

The humble person knows no fear except the fear of God. You are never more like Christ then when you are humble. Humility isn’t natural to us – pride is. But Christ wants us to be humble and His crucifixion is the perfect example of humility.

Jesus and His disciples were going through Galilee and He didn’t want any one to know He was there. He was focusing His attention and teaching on His disciples. He was going over the information again and again. He was telling them He was going to Jerusalem to be delivered into the hands of men. They would kill Him and then after 3 days He would rise.

Jesus endured infinite shame in coming to earth as a man and to be killed that way. He did it for us. He had to keep telling the disciples it because it was so hard to get. That the Son of God would have to go through that.
In verse 32 “they didn’t understand this” – they were ignorant. But they were also arrogant because they refused to ask. They didn’t want to pierce beyond the surface of what they knew was bad.

They arrived at Capernaum and had been talking about which of them was the greatest. We love our pride! And Christ wants to deliver us from that.
They hadn’t been to Capernaum for 5 months and it would be the last time He was there. He had “set His face toward Jerusalem”. To die. What a contrast; the disciples pridefully talking about who was the greatest and Jesus walking to Jerusalem where He knew He would die; and in such a horrible way. He asks them what they were talking about not to find out what they said, but to point out the contrast.

Humility rejects the self promotion of man. Humility motivates the Christian to make disciples.

Jesus sits down to teach them why they need humility. For us, on this side of the cross, we’ve already seen His example. We need to love; to put people before ourselves. God wants us to be like Jesus and Jesus shows us how. “Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last, and the servant of all.” We should want to be great, but Jesus defines greatness differently to us. We are to be great servants, great disciples.

He brings the child in and puts him on His lap. His message was we are to embrace Christians with spiritual love. We must receive His spiritual children: Christians. We must make disciples. We must share the Gospel and encourage people to become believers. Support new believers. Serve and love fellow Christians. Take them into our arms. Make their hurts our hurts and their joys our joy. When we welcome a Christian we welcome Him.

In verse 38 John speaks about something that apparently happened in the past: 38 “Teacher,” said John, “we saw someone driving out demons in your name and we told him to stop, because he was not one of us.”

Because Jesus was saying we’re to be a welcoming group John wanted to know if he had done it right. (The man was not one of them.) Jesus let him know he didn’t. Jesus acknowledged that the man was doing miracles and said he was doing it in Christ’s name. Jesus said, “Don’t hinder him.” He was honoring people in Jesus’ name and blessing others. John shut him down because he wasn’t’ part of their little band. Pride.

Jesus is saying we have big work. Don’t make yourself judgmental by something small going on by someone trying in Christ’s name. Truly I tell you, anyone who gives you a cup of water in my name because you belong to the Messiah will certainly not lose their reward.

Humility will eventually give great reward. Be other oriented. Every sacrifice, every smile, every act for God, for others… Every invitation to church…every cold cup of water offered in His name…the book of Hebrews tells us He records it all.

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Sunday, April 08, 2012

Mark 9: 9-29

Mark 9:9-29 9 As they were coming down the mountain, Jesus gave them orders not to tell anyone what they had seen until the Son of Man had risen from the dead. 10 They kept the matter to themselves, discussing what “rising from the dead” meant.

11 And they asked him, “Why do the teachers of the law say that Elijah must come first?”

12 Jesus replied, “To be sure, Elijah does come first, and restores all things. Why then is it written that the Son of Man must suffer much and be rejected? 13 But I tell you, Elijah has come, and they have done to him everything they wished, just as it is written about him.”

14 When they came to the other disciples, they saw a large crowd around them and the teachers of the law arguing with them. 15 As soon as all the people saw Jesus, they were overwhelmed with wonder and ran to greet him.
16 “What are you arguing with them about?” he asked.

17 A man in the crowd answered, “Teacher, I brought you my son, who is possessed by a spirit that has robbed him of speech. 18 Whenever it seizes him, it throws him to the ground. He foams at the mouth, gnashes his teeth and becomes rigid. I asked your disciples to drive out the spirit, but they could not.”

19 “You unbelieving generation,” Jesus replied, “how long shall I stay with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring the boy to me.”
20 So they brought him. When the spirit saw Jesus, it immediately threw the boy into a convulsion. He fell to the ground and rolled around, foaming at the mouth.

21 Jesus asked the boy’s father, “How long has he been like this?”
“From childhood,” he answered. 22 “It has often thrown him into fire or water to kill him. But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.”

23 “‘If you can’?” said Jesus. “Everything is possible for one who believes.”

24 Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”

25 When Jesus saw that a crowd was running to the scene, he rebuked the impure spirit. “You deaf and mute spirit,” he said, “I command you, come out of him and never enter him again.”

26 The spirit shrieked, convulsed him violently and came out. The boy looked so much like a corpse that many said, “He’s dead.” 27 But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him to his feet, and he stood up.

28 After Jesus had gone indoors, his disciples asked him privately, “Why couldn’t we drive it out?

29 He replied, “This kind can come out only by prayer.

What we believe about Jesus Christ matters in every part of our life. Faith is important! Without faith there can be no approach to God.

Hebrews 11:6 And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.

Luke 7:50 Jesus said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”

Romans 5:1 Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,

Acts 15:9 He did not discriminate between us and them, for he purified their hearts by faith.

1Timothy 6:12 Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses.

2 Corinthians 1:24 Not that we lord it over your faith, but we work with you for your joy, because it is by faith you stand firm.

Romans 1:5 Through him we received grace and apostleship to call all the Gentiles to the obedience that comes from faith for his name’s sake.

We either have faith in ourselves or faith in God. God wants us to have faith in Him.

There are 6 ways we can fortify our faith:

1. From verses 9 -13 we see we need to avoid spiritual distraction. Jesus, John, James and Peter were coming down the mountain from the Transfiguration and the disciples started talking about rising from the dead. And they talked about Elijah! Jesus had just been glorified before their eyes and they were focused on Elijah! Spiritual ADHD – we all have it! Just pay attention to your mind during a sermon! To purify our faith we need to always put Jesus in the center of our thinking and fight off distraction.

Colossians 3:1-2 1 Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.

This is how we avoid spiritual distraction.

The second way to fortify our faith is:

2. From verses 14-19: we see we need to admit our faith’s frailty. Everyone in this story except Jesus had frail faith. Not all Christians have the same amount of faith. Faith is a gift from God. He gives us saving Grace, but then He expects us to grow our faith. He wants us to abound in Grace for His Glory! What He says in verse 19 tells us that our doubts and disbeliefs burden Him. “You unbelieving generation,” Jesus replied, “how long shall I stay with you? How long shall I put up with you?” Our faith gladdens Him! Whenever we have doubt or anxiety we need to turn it over to Him.

3. From verses 20-22 we learn we need to appreciate our relationship with Christ. The goal of the demon in this story was to kill the boy! He ravaged him for many years. The father must have been beside himself. The Luke passage of this story said it was the man’s only child. The man was desperate. And Jesus entered into his pain with compassion by asking “How long has he been this way?” Jesus wanted his faith to be strengthened. But the father almost blew it. He said “if you can”! He had weak faith.

4. From verse 23 we see we need to access the potency of faith. Jesus responded “if you can”? “All things are possible to him who believes.” John 14:13-14 13 And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it. This is misunderstood by some today. Believing a Mercedes will appear won’t make it happen. What it’s saying is the power of our faith is based on the power of the one in whom we believe. If you place faith in something that doesn’t exist it doesn’t mean anything. “In His name” - when we give God all our belief He will make it happen in His will. His best for our life. His purpose will unfold. As believers we can expect it to be filled with kindness and mercy. God allows for desperation to occur so that we are drawn closer to Him. There is a blessing in desperation. If it brings Christ to us it’s worth it!

5. From verses 24-27 we see we must appropriate Christ’s healing. Verse 23 was Christ’s pointing out the man’s wrong thinking and now in verse 24 the man immediately repents. And the reward for his faith is Jesus delivers the son from the demon.

6. Verses 28-29 tell us to apply the potency of prayer. Again it’s not that our prayer is powerful, but the one we pray to is. The disciples who had been trying to get rid of the demon had been relying on their own power, not God’s. Trust God. Depend on Him!

Romans 10:11 As Scripture says, “Anyone who believes in him will never be put to shame.”

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