< What I Learned Teaching Sunday School: February 2013

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Jesus is the Word

I just finished reading Anne Graham Lotz’ book ‘Just Give Me Jesus’. The whole book was wonderful, but as someone who has often prayed to God to tell me plainly what to do – maybe by writing on a billboard! – what His will is for my life, I especially loved what she said about John 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

Anne wrote that Plato, who was popular in John’s day, had said he hoped someday a “logos” (word) might come from God that would make everything about life clear. John says in this verse that it did! A living logos. An outward revelation of the heart and mind of God, expressed perfectly for us in a living person.

Jesus is the living expression of what’s on God’s mind. Of what’s on God’s heart.

Do you want to know the will of God? Then just look at Jesus.

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Monday, February 11, 2013

How to Read God’s Word so you can hear Him speaking to you.

At the Woman to Woman Conference Anne Graham Lotz taught us a wonderful way to read the Bible!

Exodus 34:1-3 The Lord said to Moses, “Chisel out two stone tablets like the first ones, and I will write on them the words that were on the first tablets, which you broke. 2 Be ready in the morning, and then come up on Mount Sinai. Present yourself to me there on top of the mountain. 3 No one is to come with you or be seen anywhere on the mountain; not even the flocks and herds may graze in front of the mountain.”

God called Moses to come to Him alone in the morning. That is an excellent example for us to follow. Spending time in God’s Word every morning sets the tone for our day. We spend time with Him in order to know Him. This is how we see His Glory. Sometimes we can see it in retrospect. We may be in a spiritual dry spot, but we can remember what He’s done in our lives. By taking the time we can look back at different times in our life and see He was with us all the time.

Anne suggested we have a spot set up that we use every day: our Bible and a notebook already in place. To start we choose a book of the Bible to read. She suggested starting with The Gospel of Mark or maybe a smaller book like Colossians. Take just the first paragraph or couple verses. Read the paragraph through. Then re-read it listing just the outstanding facts. (Don’t paraphrase).

Go through each fact and ask what it means. Find a spiritual lesson or a principle in each fact.

Next ask what this means in your life. And finally ask yourself “How am I going to live in response?’ Date this one and hold yourself accountable.

Here’s an example:
John 14:1-6 “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. 2 My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. 4 You know the way to the place where I am going.”
5 Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?” 6 Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

1. Facts might be Do not be troubled, trust in God, trust in Me.

What the fact means could be worry is a lack of trust. Or there are going to be troubles but they don’t have to come inside. (don’t let your heart be troubled by them.) Even “do not be troubled” is a command so worry is a sin!

What does this mean in your life? You might ask yourself if you choose to put your hope and belief in God instead of circumstances. Or; if you really know God why do you keep worrying? Or what areas of your life are you currently worried about that would demonstrate a lack of faith in that area?

How are you going to live in response to this? Depending on the answer above you would come up with something you are going to change or work on.

2. Fact In My Father’s house are many rooms. If that were not so, would I have told you I’m going to prepare a place for you? Jesus is going to prepare a place for me.

What the fact means may be there are lots of rooms in Heaven; enough for everyone who wants to go! Or God is preparing a place just for me! Heaven is a labor of love!

What you might ask yourself from this is “Am I living my life with the expectation of going to Heaven? Am I letting others know they can go too?”

And then decide what you are going to do about the question you just asked yourself.

3. Fact I will come back to take you to be with Me.

What this fact means is God is the initiator! And Jesus will personally deliver you to God. You can be confidant of this because He says so. It also means that earth is not your home and this life is not all there is.

What you might ask yourself from this is “Will I be ready when He comes back? Am I staying in the Word, sharing the Gospel, loving others, worshipping God?”

Then decide what you intend to do, write it down and date it.

4. Fact You know the way to the place I am going.

This fact means God has told us! We have been given the information! We’ve got the Bible. Believers have the Holy Spirit. It also means there is a way! One way!

What you might ask yourself is “DO you know the way?” or “Can I help others know the way?”

And then decide what to do about that!

Fact 5 Thomas said he didn’t know where Jesus was going so how could he know the way?

From this fact you could take that even a disciple might not get it – so what about all those other people sitting in church every Sunday? Or it might be showing you that it’s ok to ask Jesus questions.

You can then ask yourself “Am I alert to people who are in the dark?” or “Am I looking for another way to Heaven?”

And then decide what you are going to do about this.

Fact 6 Jesus is the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Him.

This means that not all roads lead to Heaven. It also shows Him answering a question – we will get answers when we ask. He answers in His Word, so stay in the Word! Jesus is the guide who will take us there! When we close our eyes on earth we open them looking into His eyes!

You might ask yourself “Am I making myself available to answer people’s questions about how to get to Heaven?” “What questions would I like Jesus to answer?” “Am I asking God to reveal His will?” “Do I go to Jesus first for my answers?” “Am I submitting to His leadership?”

And then decide what you will do about it.

Lastly, but really firstly, pray before you read your Bible. Ask God that the Holy Spirit open the passage to you so that you will understand it and hear God speak to you.

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Sunday, February 10, 2013

Hope for All Seasons

I went to the Woman to Woman Conference Friday night and all day Saturday at the Hickory Metro Convention Center. The theme was Hope for All Seasons and the keynote speaker was Anne Graham Lotz. (One of my very favorites!) This post is what she covered Friday night.

1 Peter 1:3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,

In today’s world we put our hope in so many things: the stock market, the company we work for, our health, our ability. When any of it fails – we lose hope.

Sometimes we lose hope because of the day after day same old same old problems. We pray about them, we try to fix them, but they never go away.

Biblical hope is confidence. Our hope rests in God’s plan, God’s person and God’s purpose.

The 1st century Christians were losing hope in God. Jesus hadn’t returned yet and there was a crazy man ruling who demanded they bow down to him and call him god. When they wouldn’t he burned them at the stakes, fed them to the lions and nailed them to crosses.

God gave the Apostle John the vision to write the book of Revelation to give them hope. Today it’s one of the last books we look at when it should be the first. It’s meant to give us hope!

God’s plan is revealed in Jesus. It was all about Jesus since before the creation of the world. The key to understanding the book of Revelation is to focus on Jesus.

We have hope in the world because Jesus is in charge. When it looks like the world is falling apart it’s really just falling into place. (Study prophecy – you’ll see!)

Revelation says “blessed is he who reads this”. And really we are blessed anytime we open our Bibles. God knows our problems and He will help us manage them so that we can bring Him glory. And we bring Him glory as we become more like His Son.

Revelation 1:8 says He’s the Alpha and the Omega. The beginning and the end of the alphabet. He is all wisdom. He knows everything about us and has known our names since before we were born.

John was suffering for his testimony. Sometimes we think when we are suffering it means God doesn’t love us. But remember, John was the disciple that Jesus loved yet he was in exile for doing something completely in God’s will. Sharing Jesus to others. His suffering ended up bringing glory to God through the writing of the last book of the Bible. God allows us to suffer for a greater purpose. We need to understand this; know that our lives will never be trouble free and deal with it!

John, even though he was alone on that tiny island, was “in the spirit” on “the Lord’s Day”. When we are going through trials we need to stay in the Word. Stay close to God. Don’t complain. Show others that we are trusting that God has a plan for our life and He will use this for our good and for His glory.

We lose hope because we keep trying to get Jesus to make our life the way we want. When He doesn’t do what we tell Him to we get upset! We need to rest in His plan. We need to have a submissive spirit and just ask Him to let us know what to do next.

In Revelation 1:13 Jesus was dressed in the robe of a high priest. Right this minute He is our high priest and praying for us by name. The golden sash around His chest was like that of a King’s. He held seven stars in His right hand representing the seven churches (us). We are in His right hand because He wants to use us. His word is double edged. We need to be in the word to use it.

John fell at His feet like a dead man. Dead men don’t talk back. They don’t argue or give excuses. No more struggling against His will. 

No matter what happens in your life, focus on Jesus and continue to praise Him for who He is and what He has already done for you. Accept His purpose in your life. Read the Bible to know His will and then do it! Surrender!

Jesus put His hand on John and said “Don’t be afraid” because He knows we are sometimes afraid to surrender because of what He might ask us to do. But the better we know Him the more we will want what He wants! God’s will is good and pleasing and perfect. But we won’t get it until we surrender to Him.


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