< What I Learned Teaching Sunday School

Saturday, February 25, 2017

John 1:6-18

John 1: 6-9 There was a man sent from God whose name was John. 7 He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all might believe. 8 He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light. The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world.

God sent John the Baptist to prepare the world to believe in the light of the incarnate Word, Jesus Christ.

John 1:10-11 He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. 11 He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him.

This Gospel uses the word “world” 80 times. In this passage it refers to the system of society or sphere of human life that chooses to live apart from God. In every age the majority of the human race lives in alienation from its Maker. But everyone who is brought face to face with Jesus Christ is responsible to recognize Him as the light of the world. Just like a plant turns to the sun, we are designed to turn to Him. Not to recognize Him implies conscious rebellion or unconscious repression of truth.

He came to His own. He came to the Israelites first. The people God entrusted with His revelation, the Old Testament.  But today these words speak to anyone born in a Christian home or who has a church affiliation or knowledge of the Gospel and they refuse to take time to read His words, to pray to Him, to serve Him or to be involved in His church. He needs to be the center of our lives.

The Jews rejected Jesus. And God had prepared them for His coming throughout their history! But some came. And some are coming today. And Gentiles came.

John 1:12-13 Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— 13 children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.

John uses two verbs to describe personal commitment to God in true faith. Receive and believe. In the days Jesus lived on earth, this meant to receive Him openly as the promised Messiah and the unique Son of God. In our day it means to receive Him into our very being through the person of the Holy Spirit. It means to recognize Him as our Lord, King and Savior from sin. To believe expresses the definite decision to accept the facts as true, to love and desire to belong to Christ, and to commit to live in the light of this belief.  

When we’ve believed and received, we’ve entered into a new relationship with God and are obedient to His will. We’re His child. He’s adopted us and will never let us go. We have new life. Eternal life. And it only comes from God through His Son.

John 1:14-18 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
15 (John testified concerning him. He cried out, saying, “This is the one I spoke about when I said, ‘He who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.’”) 16 Out of his fullness we have all received grace in place of grace already given. 17 For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. 18 No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God and is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known.
The Word became flesh and made His dwelling place among us. And John witnessed this personally. John saw the very Glory of God in the man Jesus Christ.

Grace in place of grace already given, means you will never exhaust the grace of God. The blessing you receive when you first believe grows as your faith grows. Grace is God’s undeserved favor, which through Christ God pours out on His people. He gave us the law through Moses and because of our sinful nature we were (are) powerless to live by it. So God forgives the sin of transgressing His law. By grace.

No one has seen God. But from this book we learn if we’ve seen Jesus we’ve seen God. He declares or demonstrates in every aspect of His person every aspect of God Himself. There is a perfect oneness, a deep intimacy between the Father and Son.

In Jesus’ life we see how God thinks and therefore how we should think!

To have Him come to earth and walk among people was astounding! In that day only the high priest could go into the inner temple, and that was once a year. Now people could have total access to God!

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Friday, February 24, 2017

John 1:1-5

The first 18 verses in chapter 1 are usually referred to as the Prologue. And the first 5 verses speak of the pre-incarnate Christ; the Son of God’s position and activity before His earthly birth.

John 1:1-5 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning. 3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. 4 In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

Right away we are told that Jesus is God! He’s the Word, the Word was with God and the Word was God! He possesses the same nature or essence as God the Father. All the Father’s attributes are also attributes of the Son. John placed this revelation in the first verse because he intended for the book to be read in light of this life-changing fact. The deeds and words of Jesus are the deeds and words of God.

Jesus is the perfect picture of God’s Holiness.

Colossians 1:15-17 The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16 For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. 17 He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.

Hebrews 1:2-3 but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe. 3 The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven.

John starts out a lot like Genesis 1:1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. // In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

So Jesus has always existed and He created the heavens and the earth along with God.

And verses 4 and 5 - In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

The Word is the source of life, both physical and spiritual and Jesus connected light and life when He promised “Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of light.” His divine light is our spiritual light. He shows us how to live.

The fall in the Garden of Eden caused man to walk in the darkness of sin, until Jesus came to earth and offered us reconciliation. Because the darkness of sin could not ever overcome Christ’s light the light is victorious.

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Thursday, February 23, 2017

The Gospel of John - Background

The Gospel of John is different from the other three gospels. Over 90% of this book is unique to this gospel. John doesn’t include a genealogy or record of Jesus’ birth, anything about His childhood, temptation, transfiguration, His parables, ascension or Great Commission!

This book was written so that we could have clear evidence that Jesus is the Son of God and that by believing in Him we may have eternal life.

John 20: 30-31 says Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. 31 But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

John used the word signs for miracles. Every miracle John selected is a sign that points to eternal truths. The word appears 20 times in this book. The word “believe” appears 80. And “life” as in eternal life, appears 50 times. Why does he stress these three words? Because eternal life comes only through belief in Jesus Christ, the Son of God, whom the signs reveal.

Faith in Christ is the only way to live life to the full as God intends for people to live. The responsibility to believe and receive life is ours. Belief is not simply intellectual knowledge – it means to commit, deliberately and personally, not only to a set of facts, but to a living person. Jesus Christ, Son of God, equal TO God, is in Heaven right now in his resurrected and glorified body, as real as any of us here!

No other writer reveals Jesus as intimately as John. While there are things John doesn’t cover, there are many things in this Gospel which aren’t in the other three. While all four Gospels focus on the cross and resurrection, John, writing 20 to 30 years later gave special emphasis on what Jesus meant. And he particularly emphasized the relationship between Jesus and His Father.

He wanted to show the divinity of Jesus. We see His power over everything created and we see His love for people.

Also this is the only Gospel that states its purpose.

Gospel means “good news.” Which is kind of an understatement, isn’t it?  Some people say it’s the good news that answers the bad news that we’ve all sinned and are therefore separate from God. The Gospel is the life-changing power of God that brings salvation and eternal life to all who believe.

After Jesus returned to Heaven, the apostles preached the Gospel. In a unique way the Holy Spirit brought Christ’s words to their minds. Later they wrote God’s truth. As the church grew, spreading far from Jerusalem, the apostles recorded the four accounts to circulate among the churches. 60 years may have passed between the cross and John’s writing of this book, but they only served to deepen John’s insight.

By the year A.D. 100, the New Testament had all the books in it we have today. In the early 20th century, some doubted so early a date for John’s Gospel. However in 1935, the discovery of a fragment of John 18 proved the Gospel was already widely distributed soon after A.D. 100.

A little bit about John:

John and his older brother, James, were Peter’s partners in the fishing trade in Galilee, in northern Israel. Their father Zebedee was a prosperous fisherman. Their mother Salome also followed Jesus when they did. John’s family also had connections to the wealthy and influential high priest.

John was a disciple of John the Baptist, but when John the Baptist pointed out Jesus as the Lamb of God John immediately turned and followed Jesus. And his life was never the same! Later, he, James and Peter became Jesus’ inner circle.

On the cross Jesus entrusted His mother, Mary, to John to take care of.  John shepherded churches in Ephesus, where he wrote this Gospel as well as three New Testament letters.

He had some flaws – because of his fiery nature, Jesus called he and James ‘sons of thunder.” But his close proximity to Jesus transformed him into the apostle of love. By the time he wrote Revelation he was very humble. “A servant of God.”

Jesus transforms those who follow Him.

So we should read the Gospel of John not for information, but for transformation. God isn’t impressed that we memorized the great commission if we never share the Gospel. And He’s not impressed that we know what the Golden Rule is if we don’t help people.

Do we live like we believe the Bible? Jesus gives us an invitation to salvation, eternity and abundant life. And we can be secure in Him! He promises us unity with God!

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Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Review of Children's Book 'A Patch on the Peak of Ararat'

I had to remind myself when reading this that it's meant for little kids. And sometimes children's books only have one word on a page. But I didn't like that it repeated itself over and over again. (Although I know that was a style the author was going for.)

But I'm giving it 4 stars because I loved the illustrations - it's a beautiful book. And it does open up a child's mind to a great Bible story.

To learn more, click on the book below.  


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Monday, February 13, 2017

Our Role in God's Answer to Prayer

I'm not sure if anyone else has had this problem, but often in the past I would pray asking God to do something for me. But then I would find myself wondering if I was supposed to have faith He'd just do it, or was I supposed to do something too?

When I first became familiar with The Hallelujah Diet, the founder, Rev. George Malkmus, wrote a book 'Why Christians Get Sick' and he said he always had a problem when people in his church would pray or ask him to pray for healing, but then just go on doing the same unhealthy things.

Like praying for God to heal lung cancer, but not giving up smoking in the meantime.

He said people had to start living a healthier lifestyle, giving up the junk food, exercising, adding fruits and vegetables and destressing. Asking God to give them wisdom to go in the right direction and make good choices, but making good choices.

In a devotion I read today in Randy Alcorn's book '60 Days of Happiness' he gave an illustration of a man coming in to is office when he was a young pastor, saying he was disappointed in God for not taking away a temptation. The pastor asked if he had kept himself away from it - but up some roadblocks. The man said no.

Then Randy started pushing a book across his desk while praying out oud "Dear God, please don't let this book fall on the floor", all the while continuing to push it. And of course it fell.

He wrote, "Instead of calling on God to empower him as he took decisive steps to resist temptation, he kept making unwise choices while asking to be delivered from their natural consequences."

We mustn't expect God to save us from disastrous actions that we keep setting ourselves up for.

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Monday, January 30, 2017

Book review of Anointed to Heal

Chosen Books sent me Anointed to Heal by Randy Clark and Bill Johnson to review.

This book was different than I imagined it would be. The entire thing was an interview. Bill Johnson interviewing Randy Clark and vice versa.

I was excited to read it because I felt that although there are huge healings going on in third world countries, you don't often hear about them in America today. Yet these two guys have healed thousands.

I felt it a little strange though the way they tried "this technique" or "that way of saying something". I would never have guessed that miraculous healings needed to be learned! In fact they teach their methods.

It was interesting to learn the background of their ministry, but I felt it needed something more.



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Saturday, January 14, 2017

60 Days of Happiness: Discover God's Promise of Relentless Joy

I just finished reading '60 Days of Happiness: Discover God's Promise of Relentless Joy.'

I was excited to read this book because I loved Randy Alcorn's book 'Heaven' and thought this would be as inspirational and dynamic.

Sadly, I found it a bit dry. It seemed like he looked up happy quotes on the internet and scattered them throughout. And the chapters felt very repetitive.

I did take away one thought though that may have been worth reading the whole thing! And that was when he pointed out that we expect God to treat us by the way we perceive Him. So if we see Him as a harsh, controlling task master with no sense of joy we will fear Him and not get close. But if we see Him as a happy God then we can expect Him to want us to be happy too.

That made sense to me.

If you want Bible verses about happiness and joy or quotes from other writers and well-known people, then get the book.

Tyndale gave me a copy of this book for my review.


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