< What I Learned Teaching Sunday School: July 2013

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Surely This Man was the Son of God!

Mark 15: 33-39 33 At noon, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon. 34 And at three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”).

35 When some of those standing near heard this, they said, “Listen, he’s calling Elijah.” 36 Someone ran, filled a sponge with wine vinegar, put it on a staff, and offered it to Jesus to drink. “Now leave him alone. Let’s see if Elijah comes to take him down,” he said.

37 With a loud cry, Jesus breathed his last.

38 The curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. 39 And when the centurion, who stood there in front of Jesus, saw how he died,[c] he said, “Surely this man was the Son of God!”
Darkness, like night, covered the whole land. At noon! When the sun was at its highest point in the sky. The veil in the temple was ripped in half. The Matthew version tells us a massive earthquake occurred and the dead were raised from their graves.
What was going on? A prophecy in the book of Nahum gives us a hint;
Nahum 1:1-8 A prophecy concerning Nineveh. The book of the vision of Nahum the Elkoshite.
2 The Lord is a jealous and avenging God; the Lord takes vengeance and is filled with wrath. The Lord takes vengeance on his foes and vents his wrath against his enemies.
3 The Lord is slow to anger but great in power; the Lord will not leave the guilty unpunished. His way is in the whirlwind and the storm, and clouds are the dust of his feet. 4 He rebukes the sea and dries it up; he makes all the rivers run dry. Bashan and Carmel wither and the blossoms of Lebanon fade.

5 The mountains quake before him and the hills melt away. The earth trembles at his presence, the world and all who live in it. 6 Who can withstand his indignation?
Who can endure his fierce anger? His wrath is poured out like fire; the rocks are shattered before him.
7 The Lord is good, a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in him,
8 but with an overwhelming flood he will make an end of Nineveh; he will pursue his foes into the realm of darkness.
Darkness and judgment are linked with each other in scripture. Judgment follows sin.
Ezekiel 18:4 For everyone belongs to me, the parent as well as the child—both alike belong to me. The one who sins is the one who will die.
For 3 hours an extraordinary judgment was taking place. Jesus took the judgment for everyone who trusts in Him. For 3 hours Jesus was paying the debt for everyone who ever lived or will live, who believes in Him. And the earth was trembling!
At the end of the 3 hours Jesus cried out “My God, My God. Why have You forsaken me?”
A theologian wrote that this was the scream of the damned. For the first time during His earthly ministry Jesus didn’t refer to God as Abba. Father. But God, My God.
And Jesus was suffocating at this point. That’s how the cross really kills a person. It pushes against their lungs and they can’t breathe unless they can raise themselves up. But with their hands and feet nailed that’s really hard and eventually they can’t lift themselves anymore. It’s really hard to even get a breath to talk. But Jesus cried out in a loud voice!
This was spiritual pain now! He really was forsaken during that time. For us!
The people didn’t get it. They thought He was calling for Elijah. They gave Him the sour wine because they wanted it to go on. They wanted to see if Elijah would show up.
In verse 37 Jesus cries out again. And John 19:30 tells us what He said. “It is finished!’
It is finished was used in the market place in Jesus’ time. When someone bought something, they owed the vendor. When they paid, the vendor would stamp “it is finished’ on the bill showing the debt had been paid!
Jesus also said at this point. “Father, into Your hands I commit My spirit.” He was back with God.
In verse 39 a Roman centurion (who would have been a Roman officer in charge of 100 men) saw all of this. In his job he had probably witnessed hundreds of crucifixions, but this one was very different. When Jesus breathed His last the centurion said, “Surely this man was the Son of God!”

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Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Angels in the Fire

I just finished reading a book called Angels in the Fire by Dann Stadler. The author and his wife were in a horrific car crash in 1989 on their 4th wedding anniversary. The book tells about the crash and their many injuries in painful detail. (Painful meaning I could feel what they went through myself!)

Tracey, his wife, was saved from the wreck by an angel. True story. In fact, we learn later in the book that she has had other contacts with angels in her life.

What we as Christians can learn from this book is first how to get through a trial in a way that glorifies God. These people never complained. They never asked "why me?" They were patient and shared God's love with people and just did the very best they could every day.

The other thing we can learn is: we can see Angels and have encounters with God too. All we have to do is look for them!

I'm going to do that!

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Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Mark 15:22-32

Mark 15: 22-32 22 They brought Jesus to the place called Golgotha (which means “the place of the skull”). 23 Then they offered him wine mixed with myrrh, but he did not take it. 24 And they crucified him. Dividing up his clothes, they cast lots to see what each would get.

25 It was nine in the morning when they crucified him. 26 The written notice of the charge against him read: the king of the jews.

27 They crucified two rebels with him, one on his right and one on his left. [28]  29 Those who passed by hurled insults at him, shaking their heads and saying, “So! You who are going to destroy the temple and build it in three days, 30 come down from the cross and save yourself!” 31 In the same way the chief priests and the teachers of the law mocked him among themselves. “He saved others,” they said, “but he can’t save himself! 32 Let this Messiah, this king of Israel, come down now from the cross, that we may see and believe.” Those crucified with him also heaped insults on him.
They brought Him to Golgotha. The English word is Calvary which comes from the Latin word skull. It says they offered Him wine mixed with myrrh, but He wouldn’t take it. Myrrh was extremely expensive. A gift for a king. Jesus had been given it by the Magi when He was born.
Here it wasn’t the Romans giving Him this drink. They didn’t care if He was thirsty or comfortable or not. Rich Jewish widows bought the myrrh to offer to people being crucified as an act of mercy. It was a sedative. The Romans were only fine with passing it on because it kept the prisoners calmer. Easier to handle.
Jesus wouldn’t drink it because He was unwilling to take a shortcut. He was committed to drinking His Father’s cup. All the way to the dregs. 1 Corinthians 10:13 shows us how to apply this for us.
No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.
You can substitute trial for temptation. And was Jesus in a trial? Yes! And God promises to give us a way of escape! What is the way? Well, He defines it in the last half of the last sentence. “So that you can endure it.”
The way of escape from the trial you are in is going all the way through the trial. Because that’s how God wants to bless us, build us up, grow and mature us. There is a purpose in trials! Jesus went all the way. He endured it to the very end. For God’s glory and our salvation. No short cuts.
The next part of the Mark passage has the soldiers casting lots for Christ’s clothes. This was prophesized in the Psalms. Then it says He was crucified at 9 a.m. and the Romans put a sign up over the cross stating what He was convicted of. Often the prisoner would wear this sign around his neck while carrying the cross too. Pilate was getting a dig in at the Jews when he had the charge written on Jesus’ sign. “The King of the Jews”. In 3 languages so everyone could read it!
How did people treat the king? The ones passing by hurled insults at Him. They said “come down and save yourself.” The chief priest and teachers of the law said pretty much the same thing. “He saved others, but He can’t save Himself.” Those crucified with Him even insulted Him. (Although we see in the Luke account of this story that one of the robbers changed and repented and Jesus promised him he’d be with Him in paradise that day.)
They all misunderstood salvation. When they said save, they meant help. Jesus helped others; by healing them, getting rid of their demons, etc. So they were saying “you helped others now help yourself.” They considered salvation to be the same as earthly abundance, health, success. And a lot of us today think the same thing. Joel Osteen says our lives are improved when we become Christians. That we’ll be happier, more successful, and richer. That was never our promise and we need to be very careful not to mix that that up!

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Sunday, July 07, 2013

Mary, Martha and What’s Necessary

Pastor Shannon Hurley, a missionary in Uganda, gave the sermon in church today and it was excellent! A very familiar story that really spoke to me this time under his sharing.

Luke 10:38-42 38 Now as they went on their way, he entered a certain village, where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. 39 She had a sister named Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to what he was saying. 40 But Martha was distracted by her many tasks; so she came to him and asked, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to do all the work by myself? Tell her then to help me.” 41 But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things; 42 there is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken away from her.”

Martha did a good thing. She invited Christ into her home for a meal. But she was anxious and worried because of all the work that involved. She was distracted and pulled away from what should have been her priority and it caused her to sin. She got angry. She was also resentful that her sister was sitting at Christ’s feet instead of helping her. So she acted in an unbecoming way in front of her guests.

Mary’s priority was listening to Jesus. Sitting right at His feet was going against all cultural norms. Rabbis didn’t teach women! But she didn’t care because she was eager to learn.

When Martha complained to Jesus about Mary, Jesus said, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things; 42 there is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken away from her.”

There is need of only one thing! Only one thing is necessary. Meaning we must do it! And that’s to sit down and listen to the Word of God. Read and study the Bible. It’s necessary!

In the passage right before this one a man asks Jesus how to have eternal life and Jesus tells him to love God with all your heart and soul and mind. And love your neighbor as yourself. The man skips the part about God and asks who his neighbor is. (Which Jesus answers with the parable of the Good Samaritan.)

Pastor Hurley thinks the Mary, Martha story is inserted right after this to show how we are to love God with all our heart and soul and mind.

Prioritize Him! Sit at His feet! Listen to Him! Spend time in His Word!

One thing is necessary!

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Thursday, July 04, 2013

Do What Jesus Did

I have read hundreds of "Christian books" and love most of them. There was something special about Pastor Robby Dawkin’s new book Do What Jesus Did though. New thoughts, new challenges, new explanations.
Robby says that we Christians think we are following Jesus when we work in the Soup Kitchen, help out in the nursery, prepare a meal for a sick friend, etc. But he says, "Look at what Jesus DID!" He healed the sick, He caused the lame to walk, He drove out demons. And Robby shows us that as Christians we have Christ's power in us to do the same.
We have to take risks to do that though. The woman with the issue of blood for 12 years came up to Jesus and touched His robe, the centurion told Jesus He didn't have to even come to his house to heal his servant. "Just say the word." Jesus told the lame man to pick up his mat and get up. We can't just ask God to equip us. We need to start! Take the step forward when you sense His prompting and He'll make you able. Robby stresses over and over that the people God used in the Bible weren't "special". They were available!
He does a wonderful job with his practical tips and the stories he tells about his personal experiences are mesmerizing!
At the end is maybe his most practical advice. He writes, “The thing is to press in, and to keep pressing in and pressing up. Keep seeking His presence. Seek His presence when no one’s watching. Let it infect every part of who you are – in the character choices you make, what you do with your girlfriend or boyfriend, how you speak to your spouse, the way you treat the guy at the DMV. Keep on blessing people who disagree with you and attack you. Trust me, if you think those kinds of challenges will go away the more Kingdom stuff you do, you couldn’t be more wrong! But it’s so worth it. The joy is there – the unbelievable privilege of being friends with such a cool God and being someone He shares His secrets with. It honors Him so much when we keep pressing in to the things of God.”
Chosen Books sent me a free copy to review and I highly recommend this book! It's exciting and a joy to read!

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Tuesday, July 02, 2013

Mark 15:15-21

Mark 15:15-21 15 Wanting to satisfy the crowd, Pilate released Barabbas to them. He had Jesus flogged, and handed him over to be crucified. 1

6 The soldiers led Jesus away into the palace (that is, the Praetorium) and called together the whole company of soldiers. 17 They put a purple robe on him, then twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on him. 18 And they began to call out to him, “Hail, king of the Jews!” 19 Again and again they struck him on the head with a staff and spit on him. Falling on their knees, they paid homage to him. 20 And when they had mocked him, they took off the purple robe and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him out to crucify him.

21 A certain man from Cyrene, Simon, the father of Alexander and Rufus, was passing by on his way in from the country, and they forced him to carry the cross.

Flogging. Or scourging was a lot worse then it sounds. Both the Romans and Jews did this, but when the Jews did it they had a tiny bit of mercy. Knowing 40 lashes would kill most men they were only allowed 39. The Romans however could go on and on and on.

The weapon was a long stick with strips of leather coming off the top. These strips had pieces of glass, bone and metal embedded in them. When the victim was whipped the strips would wrap around the body bruising internal organs. As they yanked it back would tear off skin. Horrible!

This passage says when they took Jesus into the palace after the flogging they called together a whole company of soldiers. The whole battalion was there and they beat on Jesus after dressing Him up as a mock king. They spit on Him and made fun of Him.

Can you imagine how they will feel on the day “every knee will bow, every tongue confess?”

Jesus had known forever that this was going to happen and He was determined to go to Jerusalem and to the cross! We’re to know a couple things when we hear this story.

Hebrews 12:2-3 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

We should not grow weary and lose heart in whatever we are going through. He didn’t. He endured for the joy before Him (the crown and blessing from God.) We have that to look forward to too.

1 Peter 3:18 For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive in the Spirit.

He endured because in doing so it brought us to God! Our sin deserved such brutality. That’s how bad sin against God is.

1 Peter 2:21-24 21 To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps. 22 “He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth.” 23 When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly. 24 “He himself bore our sins” in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; “by his wounds you have been healed.”

Again, that’s our example. He didn’t retaliate, He didn’t sin. He didn’t threaten. He entrusted Himself to Him who judges justly. To God.

How does God respond to mockery?

Psalm 2:1-6 Why do the nations conspire and the peoples plot in vain? 2 The kings of the earth rise up and the rulers band together against the LORD and against his anointed, saying, 3 “Let us break their chains and throw off their shackles.” 4 The One enthroned in heaven laughs; the Lord scoffs at them. 5 He rebukes them in his anger and terrifies them in his wrath, saying, 6 “I have installed my king on Zion, my holy mountain.”

God is not threatened! Ever!

Psalm 2:9-12 goes on to say: You will break them with a rod of iron; you will dash them to pieces like pottery.” 10 Therefore, you kings, be wise; be warned, you rulers of the earth. 11 Serve the LORD with fear and celebrate his rule with trembling. 12 Kiss his son, or he will be angry and your way will lead to your destruction, for his wrath can flare up in a moment. Blessed are all who take refuge in him.

Blessed are all who take refuge in Him. God is not just wrathful. He is merciful. God judges sinners because they mock His Son. Because they say what Christ did was meaningless. He will judge those who sin by rejecting Christ.

Trust in the Son and he will have mercy on you.

In the last verse in this Mark passage Jesus gets a little help from a passerby as He’s carrying His cross. You can imagine how hurt Jesus was at this point! He’d been up all night. Been flogged, been beat. And now He’s carrying a hundred pound cross. And He stumbled.

The Romans weren’t about to carry the cross for Him, so they pulled a man from the crowd. Simon was from Cyrene, which is in Africa where Libya is today. He was in Jerusalem for Passover with his family.

We think that he became a believer, maybe from this experience. We know his sons were because; first in Romans 16:13 Paul says to greet Rufus. And second Mark wouldn’t have put their names in unless they were known in the early church.

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