< What I Learned Teaching Sunday School: June 2015

Friday, June 19, 2015

A Christian's Goal in Life

I was just listening to Chip Ingram on the radio and he said something really interesting!

He said, "Our goal is not to get to Heaven! As Christians we are already going there! Our goal is to be like Jesus Christ!"

That means that everything we do and everything that happens to us is supposed to make us more like Him.

Some of us may need to be humbled and some trials will do that. Some of us need to have more compassion or to love more or to serve more or to share God more.

Think about what it will take to make you more like Jesus!

Labels: , , ,

Friday, June 12, 2015

How to Enjoy Reading Your Bible

"How to Enjoy Reading the Bible" is just what the title suggests. It’s a book that tells us how to enjoy reading our Bible.

Actually the author wants us to fall in love with God and His Word and gives us ten tips to do to make that happen.

Author Keith Ferrin says, “When people are asked why they read the Bible, the typical replies are: ‘It’s an opportunity to know God’s Will,” or “I find encouragement there,” or It’s what I’m supposed to do,” or “It’s God’s Holy Word,” or “It’s how I know what God wants me to do.”

He says, “Most people don’t say, “to hang out with God” but Jesus doesn’t just want us to know about Him, He wants us to know Him.

In his tips, Ferrin spells out in detail different ways to read the Bible. All the way through in four months. Read one book over and over and over again for a period of time. Read the Bible in chronological order. (He gives that order in the back of the book.

And he tells the benefits of doing each way.

This book will make you want to pick a plan and pick up your Bible. It’s very inspiring!
You’ll want to keep it with your Bible.

Labels: ,

Friday, June 05, 2015

Genesis 39

Genesis 39:1-20 Now Joseph had been taken down to Egypt. Potiphar, an Egyptian who was one of Pharaoh’s officials, the captain of the guard, bought him from the Ishmaelites who had taken him there.
2 The LORD was with Joseph so that he prospered, and he lived in the house of his Egyptian master. 3 When his master saw that the LORD was with him and that the LORD gave him success in everything he did, 4 Joseph found favor in his eyes and became his attendant. Potiphar put him in charge of his household, and he entrusted to his care everything he owned. 5 From the time he put him in charge of his household and of all that he owned, the LORD blessed the household of the Egyptian because of Joseph. The blessing of the LORD was on everything Potiphar had, both in the house and in the field. 6 So Potiphar left everything he had in Joseph’s care; with Joseph in charge, he did not concern himself with anything except the food he ate.

Now Joseph was well-built and handsome, 7 and after a while his master’s wife took notice of Joseph and said, “Come to bed with me!”

8 But he refused. “With me in charge,” he told her, “my master does not concern himself with anything in the house; everything he owns he has entrusted to my care. 9 No one is greater in this house than I am. My master has withheld nothing from me except you, because you are his wife. How then could I do such a wicked thing and sin against God?” 10 And though she spoke to Joseph day after day, he refused to go to bed with her or even be with her.

11 One day he went into the house to attend to his duties, and none of the household servants was inside. 12 She caught him by his cloak and said, “Come to bed with me!” But he left his cloak in her hand and ran out of the house.

13 When she saw that he had left his cloak in her hand and had run out of the house, 14 she called her household servants. “Look,” she said to them, “this Hebrew has been brought to us to make sport of us! He came in here to sleep with me, but I screamed. 15 When he heard me scream for help, he left his cloak beside me and ran out of the house.”

16 She kept his cloak beside her until his master came home. 17 Then she told him this story: “That Hebrew slave you brought us came to me to make sport of me. 18 But as soon as I screamed for help, he left his cloak beside me and ran out of the house.”

19 When his master heard the story his wife told him, saying, “This is how your slave treated me,” he burned with anger. 20 Joseph’s master took him and put him in prison, the place where the king’s prisoners were confined.

Joseph is a great example of not being corrupted by pagans surrounding him. Unlike his brothers who had been in Canaan.

After the first moment of anguish when Joseph pleaded not to be left alone to die in the well or be sold off as a slave, he uttered no word of retaliation or of reproach toward God.

Joseph chose to walk with God and it showed to other people and he was blessed because of it. We need to remember this when we look around at today’s society and are tempted to wonder how we can be godly with all the terrible TV shows, movies, violence, new age “religions” etc we are bombarded with. God will keep us strong if we rely on Him.

Joseph seemed to have inherited all the best traits from his ancestors. Abraham’s faith and honesty, Isaac’s quiet submissiveness, but persistent faith, and Jacob’s loving heart and energy.
And his complete absence of bitterness, resentment and self-pity is the proof of true faith in God. And he met the adverse circumstances over which he had no control with courage. He made it his business to use all his energies to glorify God and to be successful in his immediate duties as a slave.
And God honored him. He didn’t change his circumstances, but He blessed Joseph IN those circumstances.
He caused Joseph to prosper in all that he did.

God caused Potiphar to see this. Potiphar promoted Joseph to the position of personal aide and then promoted him to oversee his entire household. And then all his estate.

The reason Joseph didn’t have anything to do with the food was because Egyptians didn’t eat with Hebrews – Potiphar would have considered himself defiled if he did.

In his refusal to Potiphar’s wife Joseph clearly said it would be wrong to do so because Potiphar had been good to him and also that it would be a sin against God. People aren’t so clear nowadays about what’s right or wrong, are they?

He tried to keep away from her, but when he couldn’t, he RAN! Another good lesson for us. We should get ourselves AWAY from temptation. We pray to God to “keep me from temptation”. We aren’t to get in its pathway. Avoid all contact and burn all bridges!

And her infatuation turned to hatred. She determined to ruin him. Even put him to death because the action was worthy of death according to Egyptian law. One commentator said he may not have been put to death because other slaves in the household would have known what the wife was like and could have told Potiphar, but just having it talked about brought disgrace on the house and so Potiphar sent Joseph to prison with no trial.

Genesis 39:20-23 But while Joseph was there in the prison, 21 the LORD was with him; he showed him kindness and granted him favor in the eyes of the prison warden.22 So the warden put Joseph in charge of all those held in the prison, and he was made responsible for all that was done there. 23 The warden paid no attention to anything under Joseph’s care, because the LORD was with Joseph and gave him success in whatever he did.

Joseph was committed to the “Round House,” a famous round tower or dungeon where prisoners connected with the king’s court were housed.

Just like when he was sold into slavery – now in prison, Joseph kept moving forward. Not becoming bitter or losing faith – so that he began working his way up here too. Finally he became head overseer so that he had complete charge of all the prisoners and freedom to run the prison as he saw fit.

Labels: , ,

Thursday, June 04, 2015

Genesis 38

Genesis 38 At that time, Judah left his brothers and went down to stay with a man of Adullam named Hirah. 2 There Judah met the daughter of a Canaanite man named Shua. He married her and made love to her; 3 she became pregnant and gave birth to a son, who was named Er. 4 She conceived again and gave birth to a son and named him Onan. 5 She gave birth to still another son and named him Shelah. It was at Kezib that she gave birth to him.

6 Judah got a wife for Er, his firstborn, and her name was Tamar. 7 But Er, Judah’s firstborn, was wicked in the LORD’s sight; so the LORD put him to death.

8 Then Judah said to Onan, “Sleep with your brother’s wife and fulfill your duty to her as a brother-in-law to raise up offspring for your brother.” 9 But Onan knew that the child would not be his; so whenever he slept with his brother’s wife, he spilled his semen on the ground to keep from providing offspring for his brother. 10 What he did was wicked in the LORD’s sight; so the LORD put him to death also.

11 Judah then said to his daughter-in-law Tamar, “Live as a widow in your father’s household until my son Shelah grows up.” For he thought, “He may die too, just like his brothers.” So Tamar went to live in her father’s household.

12 After a long time Judah’s wife, the daughter of Shua, died. When Judah had recovered from his grief, he went up to Timnah, to the men who were shearing his sheep, and his friend Hirah the Adullamite went with him.

13 When Tamar was told, “Your father-in-law is on his way to Timnah to shear his sheep,” 14 she took off her widow’s clothes, covered herself with a veil to disguise herself, and then sat down at the entrance to Enaim, which is on the road to Timnah. For she saw that, though Shelah had now grown up, she had not been given to him as his wife.

15 When Judah saw her, he thought she was a prostitute, for she had covered her face. 16 Not realizing that she was his daughter-in-law, he went over to her by the roadside and said, “Come now, let me sleep with you.”

“And what will you give me to sleep with you?” she asked. 17 “I’ll send you a young goat from my flock,” he said. “Will you give me something as a pledge until you send it?” she asked.

18 He said, “What pledge should I give you?”
“Your seal and its cord, and the staff in your hand,” she answered. So he gave them to her and slept with her, and she became pregnant by him.19 After she left, she took off her veil and put on her widow’s clothes again.

20 Meanwhile Judah sent the young goat by his friend the Adullamite in order to get his pledge back from the woman, but he did not find her. 21 He asked the men who lived there, “Where is the shrine prostitute who was beside the road at Enaim?”

“There hasn’t been any shrine prostitute here,” they said.

22 So he went back to Judah and said, “I didn’t find her. Besides, the men who lived there said, ‘There hasn’t been any shrine prostitute here.’”

23 Then Judah said, “Let her keep what she has, or we will become a laughingstock. After all, I did send her this young goat, but you didn’t find her.”

24 About three months later Judah was told, “Your daughter-in-law Tamar is guilty of prostitution, and as a result she is now pregnant.”
Judah said, “Bring her out and have her burned to death!”

25 As she was being brought out, she sent a message to her father-in-law. “I am pregnant by the man who owns these,” she said. And she added, “See if you recognize whose seal and cord and staff these are.”
26 Judah recognized them and said, “She is more righteous than I, since I wouldn’t give her to my son Shelah.” And he did not sleep with her again.

27 When the time came for her to give birth, there were twin boys in her womb. 28 As she was giving birth, one of them put out his hand; so the midwife took a scarlet thread and tied it on his wrist and said, “This one came out first.” 29 But when he drew back his hand, his brother came out, and she said, “So this is how you have broken out!” And he was named Perez.30 Then his brother, who had the scarlet thread on his wrist, came out. And he was named Zerah.

This is another example of one of Jacob’s kids going astray. (To put it lightly!)

The law about marrying the widow in the family is explained in Deuteronomy 25:5-10. It was to insure that the widow would have a son who receive her late husband’s inheritance and also take care of her. Because Tamar had no children there was no bloodline through which the inheritance and blessing of the covenant could continue. The Bible says God killed Oman because he refused to fulfill his obligation to his brother and Tamar.

Prostitutes are mentioned fairly often in the Old Testament. That’s because they were common in pagan cultures back then. Some even served as goddesses in the churches built to various gods.
A woman’s most important function was bearing children who could keep the family line going. A woman was supposed to be a virgin at marriage to insure the children were the husband’s. If she committed adultery she was breaking the line. If a man committed adultery he wasn’t – so he got off and she didn’t. This is another reason for so many prostitutes back then I suppose. And that’s why Judah thought it was ok for him to be with a prostitute, but was ready to kill Tamar when he thought she was one. If she got pregnant his grandson wouldn’t have been part of the bloodline.

The next chapter (39) brings us back to Joseph. We’ll see that for the first 13 years in captivity he went through a period of profound and undeserved humiliation, suffering and loneliness. Being thrown into a well to die, then being dragged out and sold to Ishmael’s descendants, then sold in Egypt as a slave and we’ll see thrown in prison and forgotten must have been overwhelming for Joseph. He had done nothing to deserve this.
And he lost everything: home, family, social standing, approval, friendships, comfort. He must have asked God why many times.

This reminds us of Jesus who humbled Himself! He, who was equal with God made Himself “of no reputation” and was obedient even to a criminal’s death on a cross.

And just as God later exalts Joseph and men bow down to him. God exalted His Son to whom one day EVERY knee will bow.

Jesus through dying saved countless lives. Joseph later saves many lives too. Hebrews 2:10 says, In bringing many sons and daughters to glory, it was fitting that God, for whom and through whom everything exists, should make the pioneer of their salvation perfect through what he suffered.

Joseph was perfected for God’s use through his suffering too.

Christians are going to suffer. Jesus pretty much said “expect it”. But no suffering is wasted if you respond in the right way and the story of Joseph shows us that. No self-pity, no bitterness, no martyr complex, no worry – whatever you do that may cause you to miss the purpose for which God allowed the suffering to come into your life.

Not saying He caused it. But He didn’t stop it. For a reason.

Sometimes the blessing God has for us in a trial is just our being stronger when we have gotten through it! Sometimes it’s becoming closer to Him.

In Joseph’s case, each crisis only served to reveal a new facet of his beautiful character.

Labels: ,

Wednesday, June 03, 2015

Genesis 37

Genesis 37:1-4 Jacob lived in the land where his father had stayed, the land of Canaan.
2 This is the account of Jacob’s family line.

Joseph, a young man of seventeen, was tending the flocks with his brothers, the sons of Bilhah and the sons of Zilpah, his father’s wives, and he brought their father a bad report about them.

3 Now Israel loved Joseph more than any of his other sons, because he had been born to him in his old age; and he made an ornate robe for him. 4 When his brothers saw that their father loved him more than any of them, they hated him and could not speak a kind word to him.

In those days everyone had a robe or cloak. They were used to warm yourself, to tie your belongings up in, for shepherds as a blanket…Where it says the robe Israel made was richly ornamented, that shows that it was a lot fancier then most and probably where people got the idea that it was of many colors.

The brothers didn’t like Joseph because he was his father’s favorite. All parents know they are not to have a favorite child and if they do not to show it!

Genesis 37:6-11 He said to them, “Listen to this dream I had: 7 We were binding sheaves of grain out in the field when suddenly my sheaf rose and stood upright, while your sheaves gathered around mine and bowed down to it.”

8 His brothers said to him, “Do you intend to reign over us? Will you actually rule us?”And they hated him all the more because of his dream and what he had said.

9 Then he had another dream, and he told it to his brothers. “Listen,” he said, “I had another dream, and this time the sun and moon and eleven stars were bowing down to me.”

10 When he told his father as well as his brothers, his father rebuked him and said, “What is this dream you had? Will your mother and I and your brothers actually come and bow down to the ground before you?” 11 His brothers were jealous of him, but his father kept the matter in mind.

Joseph was probably a bit cocky. Growing up one of the youngest and knowing he was his father’s favorite probably gave him a bit of an attitude. And his telling of the dream where his brothers all bowed down to him fueled the fire of their dislike for Joseph.

Genesis 37:12-36 Now his brothers had gone to graze their father’s flocks near Shechem, 13 and Israel said to Joseph, “As you know, your brothers are grazing the flocks near Shechem. Come, I am going to send you to them.”

“Very well,” he replied.

14 So he said to him, “Go and see if all is well with your brothers and with the flocks, and bring word back to me.” Then he sent him off from the Valley of Hebron.

When Joseph arrived at Shechem, 15 a man found him wandering around in the fields and asked him, “What are you looking for?”

16 He replied, “I’m looking for my brothers. Can you tell me where they are grazing their flocks?”
17 “They have moved on from here,” the man answered. “I heard them say, ‘Let’s go to Dothan.’”
So Joseph went after his brothers and found them near Dothan. 18 But they saw him in the distance, and before he reached them, they plotted to kill him.

19 “Here comes that dreamer!” they said to each other. 20 “Come now, let’s kill him and throw him into one of these cisterns and say that a ferocious animal devoured him. Then we’ll see what comes of his dreams.”

21 When Reuben heard this, he tried to rescue him from their hands. “Let’s not take his life,” he said. 22 “Don’t shed any blood. Throw him into this cistern here in the wilderness, but don’t lay a hand on him.” Reuben said this to rescue him from them and take him back to his father.
23 So when Joseph came to his brothers, they stripped him of his robe—the ornate robe he was wearing— 24 and they took him and threw him into the cistern. The cistern was empty; there was no water in it.

25 As they sat down to eat their meal, they looked up and saw a caravan of Ishmaelites coming from Gilead. Their camels were loaded with spices, balm and myrrh, and they were on their way to take them down to Egypt.

26 Judah said to his brothers, “What will we gain if we kill our brother and cover up his blood? 27 Come, let’s sell him to the Ishmaelites and not lay our hands on him; after all, he is our brother, our own flesh and blood.” His brothers agreed.

28 So when the Midianite merchants came by, his brothers pulled Joseph up out of the cistern and sold him for twenty shekels of silver to the Ishmaelites, who took him to Egypt.

29 When Reuben returned to the cistern and saw that Joseph was not there, he tore his clothes. 30 He went back to his brothers and said, “The boy isn’t there! Where can I turn now?”

31 Then they got Joseph’s robe, slaughtered a goat and dipped the robe in the blood.32 They took the ornate robe back to their father and said, “We found this. Examine it to see whether it is your son’s robe.”

33 He recognized it and said, “It is my son’s robe! Some ferocious animal has devoured him. Joseph has surely been torn to pieces.”

34 Then Jacob tore his clothes, put on sackcloth and mourned for his son many days.35 All his sons and daughters came to comfort him, but he refused to be comforted. “No,” he said, “I will continue to mourn until I join my son in the grave.” So his father wept for him.
36 Meanwhile, the Midianites sold Joseph in Egypt to Potiphar, one of Pharaoh’s officials, the captain of the guard.

Jealousy is an ugly emotion. And it’s the cause of a lot of crimes and relationship problems. It’s hard to believe that his brothers were ready to kill him. And even though they didn’t they wouldn’t have expected him to last long under a cruel slave master. One commentator said that Joseph faced a 30 day walk to Egypt through the desert, probably chained up. And he would not be treated well.

But little did they know that God would use their hatred and Joseph’s suffering and humiliation to prepare him for leadership and that later on Joseph’s position would even save the lives of his brothers.

Labels: , ,