< What I Learned Teaching Sunday School: November 2017

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Review of Living the Spirit-Formed Life

This book, 'Living the Spirit-Formed Life' is so practical!

The author, Jack Hayford, says that living the Spirit-formed life is when we allow the Holy Spirit to set the structure for our lives and get our lives organized, under control and disciplined. To bring fullness to ourselves. To get maturity under Christ's Lordship by linking our souls to timeless practices and principles set forth in Scripture and proven valid.

He says we are to learn God's grace, but live Christ's laws.

And to do this he says first we have to have faith. And it doesn't have to be a lot of faith; only a basic, foundational trust in Jesus. Faith in who He is and confidence in what He has done for us as man-kind's only Savior.

We are to be a strong support to others also. A faithful church worker, a dependable employee, loving spouse, wise parent, good pastor, considerate boss, helpful neighbor, etc. When we put our faith in Jesus, HE makes us dependable disciples who work for the Kingdom.

Next we are to spend time in God's Word. And every time we read it we are to listen. Listen to what He wants us to do. And then do it! God's Word has been given to increase growth, fruitfulness and blessing both in and through our lives. So we should listen with a heart ready to be taught and to obey. Jesus said, "My sheep hear my voice and they FOLLOW me."

God's Word is essential to everything in our lives. Every issue is covered by the truth and wisdom contained in His Book. And simply giving the Word a place in your life every day is taking the oath of allegiance. This invites His direction.  "In all your ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct your paths." He is a lamp today and a light for tomorrow. Details for today, discernment for tomorrow. Daily reading keeps us pure.

I liked what the author said about communion too: "Communion is a celebration of victory won! Our salvation is complete, our sins are forgiven and we are justified by His death. So we give thanks! We are proclaiming His coming back!

These are just a few of the golden nuggets in the book. I recommend it highly.

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Sunday, November 05, 2017

Jesus said, "No one comes to the Father, except through Me"

John 13:18 “I am not referring to all of you; I know those I have chosen. But this is to fulfill this passage of Scripture: ‘He who shared my bread has turned against me.”

In Middle Easter culture there was no treachery worse that to eat at a person’s table and then betray him, because to eat together shows true friendship.

Jesus knew Judas completely: his mind, his desires and disappointments. And Judas had witnessed the miracles, heard all the teachings and Christ’s promises, prophecies and warnings.

But he wasn’t satisfied, and he succumbed to the devil’s influence. But Jesus washed his feet along with the other disciples. But when He spoke of them being clean and promised blessing for following His command, He continued, I am not referring to all of you; I know those I have chosen. 

And Jesus not only knew Judas completely, He knew His betrayal would fulfill prophecy from the words and the life of His human ancestor King David. David wrote in Psalm 41:9 Even my close friend, someone I trusted, one who shared my bread, has turned against me.

John 13:19-30 “I am telling you now before it happens, so that when it does happen you will believe that I am who I am. 20 Very truly I tell you, whoever accepts anyone I send accepts me; and whoever accepts me accepts the one who sent me. After he had said this, Jesus was troubled in spirit and testified, “Very truly I tell you, one of you is going to betray me.”
22 His disciples stared at one another, at a loss to know which of them he meant. 23 One of them, the disciple whom Jesus loved, was reclining next to him. 24 Simon Peter motioned to this disciple and said, “Ask him which one he means.”
25 Leaning back against Jesus, he asked him, “Lord, who is it?”
26 Jesus answered, “It is the one to whom I will give this piece of bread when I have dipped it in the dish.” Then, dipping the piece of bread, he gave it to Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot. 27 As soon as Judas took the bread, Satan entered into him.
So Jesus told him, “What you are about to do, do quickly.” 28 But no one at the meal understood why Jesus said this to him. 29 Since Judas had charge of the money, some thought Jesus was telling him to buy what was needed for the festival, or to give something to the poor. 30 As soon as Judas had taken the bread, he went out. And it was night.
The table around which they gathered was a low, solid block, with couches grouped around it in a half-circle. As host, Jesus would have been in the center with a disciple on each side. Each man reclined on his left side with his left arm on a cushion for support, leaving his right arm free for eating. They stretched their feet out behind them. This meant the head of each person was near his neighbor’s chest on the left.
During the Passover meal, it was customary for the father of the family to give the honored guests pieces of bread or meat dipped in a juice made from fruit boiled in wine, a symbol of the fruits of the Promised Land.
Jesus gave this to Judas. This should have really touched Judas. But now Satan had entered him. Matthew 27 records Judas regretted his decision to betray Jesus and tried to return the 30 pieces of silver the chief priest paid him. But remorse isn’t the same as repentance. Remorse is wishing you hadn’t done something, usually because of the consequences, but refusing to confess and ask for forgiveness. Repentance is a deliberate change in mind, spirit and life direction following the receiving of forgiveness. Judas didn’t ask for forgiveness from Jesus or God. In fact, in choosing to take his own life he shut the door to reconciliation with Christ.
John 13: 31-38 When he was gone, Jesus said, “Now the Son of Man is glorified and God is glorified in him. 32 If God is glorified in him, God will glorify the Son in himself, and will glorify him at once.
33 “My children, I will be with you only a little longer. You will look for me, and just as I told the Jews, so I tell you now: Where I am going, you cannot come.
34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
36 Simon Peter asked him, “Lord, where are you going?”
Jesus replied, “Where I am going, you cannot follow now, but you will follow later.”
37 Peter asked, “Lord, why can’t I follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.”
38 Then Jesus answered, “Will you really lay down your life for me? Very truly I tell you, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times!
The disciples needed to understand that Jesus was not a victim. He willingly laid down His life. And the cross would bring Jesus glory.

Jesus made four statements about His glorification. He spoke of divine glory as well as human glory.

1.     How the Son of Man is glorified. Son of Man was Jesus’ most-used title for Himself. Jesus’ perfect human life fulfilled all God’s purpose in creating people in His own image.

2.     God is glorified in Him. Jesus’ death, resurrection and ascension brought lasting glory to God the Father through His triumph over Satan, sin and death. The cross displays the perfection of God’s mercy, justice and wisdom.

3.     God will glorify the Son in Himself. Jesus was preparing to return to Heaven as Son of God in a glorified body.

4.     God will glorify Him at once. Jesus’ hour had come. God glorified his Son as man by His bodily resurrection from the dead and His ascension into heaven in His human body.
Jesus calls His disciples “my children” here. God’s children are those who trust in His Son. Brought into His family forever by faith in Him. This seems to have made an impression on John because he often called his readers my children.

He tells the disciples (and us) to love one another as He has loved them (and us!): selflessly, humbly and sacrificially.  We may not feel Jesus’ loving look or touch, but we can feel it when another believer does it. Believers now put the skin on Jesus!

John 14:1-7 “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. 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?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. You know the way to the place where I am going.”
Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?”
Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.”
Everyone knows this passage. It’s quoted ALL the time. We love to hear that Jesus is preparing a home for us and he’s coming back to get us, don’t we?

And Jesus meant for it to be a comfort. His disciples were worried. They didn’t know what was happening. So, Jesus told them. But He started out by commanding them to not let their hearts be troubled. He is showing us that worry is a choice! He told them to stop worrying and replace worry with trust in God.

After that He told them His purpose for leaving – to prepare a place for them where they would live with Him forever. When He returns for us we’ll never be separated again.

Some translations say, “many mansions” instead of houses. That doesn’t mean large houses like we would picture now. Back then a “mansion” referred to a permanent dwelling place.

Jesus pictured a king’s son, his father’s heir and the ruler of his kingdom returning to His Father’s house and to His proper place on His throne. And the Father welcomes all His Son’s friends. Within the king’s home is room for all who trust Him. In Christ, the Father adopts each believer as His child.

Jesus talked about His coming back a lot. 1 out of every 20 verses in the New Testament relates to His return. He will return personally, physically, visibly and in the same way he went up into Heaven.

When He returns He will: judge and bring salvation to those who are waiting for Him. He will evaluate the character, personal relationships, thoughts, motivations, words and work of every day of each person who has ever lived. But he will never accuse any who repent and trust Him. Everyone who trusts in Christ can be confident the Father has laid on His beloved Son all our punishment. The book of Romans says, “There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”

And His righteous judgment will vindicate His people and end all questions about the seeming victories of wrong over right or the suffering of the innocent.

Where Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” He didn’t say, He knew, taught or revealed the way the truth or the life. He didn’t say He was one way among a bunch of other good choices. He said NO ONE else can lead us to God.

John 14:8-14 Philip said, “Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.”
Jesus answered: “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? 10 Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you I do not speak on my own authority. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work. 11 Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the works themselves. 12 Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. 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.
Jesus reveals God perfectly to us. To see Jesus is to see God.

Twice each day, Jesus, Philip and the other disciples would have recited the Shema. Deuteronomy 6:4Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.”

That’s why the Jewish leaders were trying to kill Him. Because He was claiming equality with God. They sort of got it, but apparently Philip still didn’t.

Jesus is the only one who came from Heaven to tell us about Heaven.

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Saturday, November 04, 2017

Review of Choosing A Life That Matters

Author Dennis Rainey came up for the idea for "Choosing A Life That Matters" after being asked to speak at the commencement ceremony for a prominent divinity school. He wondered what he could say to a group of folks who had studied the world’s great theologians.

After much prayer, he realized that each student would be stepping out of the spiritual incubator of the classroom into the real world. And all the challenges that entailed.

His goal for his talk (and later this book) was to give, in one message, the essence of what the Bible teaches us about what who God is, what God expects of us and how to relate to Him. How to live a life that matters.

He came up with 7 decisions we should make. To seek God, not sin; fear God, not men; love God, not the world; believe God, not the deceiver; obey God, not your feelings; worship God, not comfort; and serve God, not self.

Dennis makes each of these a chapter in his book, giving us Biblical viewpoint, a life story and then a bit of “homework” or “challenge”.

I received this book from Bethany House for my honest review.

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Wednesday, November 01, 2017

Jesus Washes His Disciples' Feet

John 13: 1-9 It was just before the Passover Festival. Jesus knew that the hour had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.

2 The evening meal was in progress, and the devil had already prompted Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, to betray Jesus. 3 Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; 4 so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. 5 After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.

6 He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?”

7 Jesus replied, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.”

8 “No,” said Peter, “you shall never wash my feet.”

Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.”

9 “Then, Lord,” Simon Peter replied, “not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!”

Look at the first verse again: Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. Jesus loved His people since the beginning of time. He loves us intensely and will love us forever.
Jesus, the Savior of the world who held infinite power, undertook the task of the lowest-ranking servant to train His disciples. He would soon be leaving them, completing the mission for which He came. He wanted them to know His love and His provision for joyful, productive lives in the face of a hostile world.

To appreciate the depth of Jesus’ humility, we must recognize the height of his greatness. First, He is one with God. Everything in the universe was created by Him and for Him. He knew who He was and where He was returning to. He knew He would die on a cross and that He would rise again and ascend back into Heaven.

But instead of showing pride about who He was and what He had accomplished, He humbled Himself and took the form and demeanor of a servant. You know, a lot of “high up” people feel too important to do menial tasks. Even the disciples had argued about who would be greater in Jesus’ kingdom.

In a world in which seeking power, prestige and renown is the priority, Jesus gives this God-ordained example of humble leadership in loving service.

At the same time the devil had already prompted Judas to betray Jesus.

And of course Jesus knew that too.

The disciples were probably uncomfortable as Jesus worked His way around the group. Finally, when He came to Peter, the disciple said, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?” Jesus, at first, didn’t explain. He just said, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.”

Peter probably intended to honor Jesus with his next remark, “No,” said Peter, “you shall never wash my feet.” but really he was refusing to submit in obedience to Jesus.

Jesus’ reply, “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.” broke Peter’s resistance. Above all, Peter wanted to be with Jesus. So retracking his never comment he said, “Then Lord, not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!”

Whatever Jesus was offering, Peter wanted it all!

John 13:10-17 Jesus answered, “Those who have had a bath need only to wash their feet; their whole body is clean. And you are clean, though not every one of you.” 11 For he knew who was going to betray him, and that was why he said not every one was clean.

12 When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them. 13 “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. 14 Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. 15 I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. 16 Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. 17 Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.

Jesus was of course talking about spiritual cleansing here, and that was something only He could accomplish. And He was also setting the example for His disciples for the way they should serve each other. Humbly meeting the needs of others.

We must embrace opportunities to take a lower position of service rather than desiring and competing for higher positions of leadership. If we ARE called into leadership we are still to be humble, not acting like we’re better than anyone else.

The disciples were clean because they had completely submitted their lives to belief in Jesus. In God’s sight they were already washed, in view of Jesus’ work on the cross, soon to be accomplished. However, they also continuously needed cleansing from the specific sins of daily life. Maybe one of their sins was lack of humbleness to serve one another!

If you are a believer you are clean through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit. You are cleansed from sin, forgiven and justified in God’s sight. You are declared righteous by God and accepted by Him because you are covered by the perfect righteousness of Jesus Christ.

But we must also recognize sin when it appears in our lives. The more we mature in Christ, the more we perceive attitudes and habits of speech and behavior that violate God’s perfect standard. As we become aware of them, we confess them and again know we are cleansed and forgiven.

The Bible says if we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

So how can we wash the feet of others?

First, we can show genuine love for others in practical ways. 1 John 3:16-18 says: This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. 17 If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? 18 Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.

Next, put others first. The Bible tells us to do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests, but each of you to the interests of the others.

We can also forgive each other. Ephesians 4:32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

Strengthen one another to overcome sin and bear one another’s burdens. Galatians 6: 1-3 Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted. 2 Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. 3 If anyone thinks they are something when they are not, they deceive themselves.

Surrender your rights for the sake of others.  Romans 14:15 If your brother or sister is distressed because of what you eat, you are no longer acting in love. Do not by your eating destroy someone for whom Christ died.

Pray for one another. James 5: 13-14  Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray. Is anyone happy? Let them sing songs of praise. 14 Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord.

And finally, encourage one another to live for Christ. Hebrews 10: 23-25 Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, 25 not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching

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