Friday, June 29, 2007

Promised benefits—PPT slides for Zephaniah

To end the lesson on “Humility”, make a promise flower out of construction paper and have members write God’s promised benefits from Zeph 3:9-20 on the pedals and attach them with pushpins to the flower (mounted on a cork board).

As promised, I’ve posted my PowerPoint slides that I plan to use Sunday. As always, any comments you have are welcomed!

Thursday, June 28, 2007

See it coming

We are studying Zephaniah this week preparing to teach the lesson, “Humility” out of the LifeWay Explore the Bible series on the Minor Prophets. What circumstances prompted the prophet to write the book?

The NetBible dictionary commentary on Zephaniah fixes the date of its writing around 630-625BC, and during that time, it suggests that an advancing Scythian army threatened Judah. The resulting destruction was described as a judgment, or "day of the Lord".

To help members relate, you might consider sharing a modern day story, “Razing leaves workers saddened”, which describes the destruction of a once great company (that even encouraged its employees to attend church). A corporate takeover attack failed (like the Scythian attacks on Judah), but crippled the leadership of the company. The story mentions pride, greed, shame, poor leadership and the ultimate demise of the company. Workers could “see it coming.”

What is God showing you out of Zephaniah that you want to teach to your class?

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Settle for the best chocolate

While preparing to teach this week’s lesson, “Humility”, I was reminded of the admonition: “don’t settle for less” when I read Zeph 1:12. The Judahites had settled into ruined state of pride, and basically settled for less. How are we doing the same today?

Recipes for flavoring chocolate call for use of oils rather than extracts since extracts contain water, which ruins the chocolate (it thickens and becomes hard). Illustrate this to your class by passing out creamy chocolate for members to taste versus pieces of hard, bitter chocolate. Which is best is obvious. Say, in a similar way, a wrong ingredient, like pride, can ruin one’s life. Why settle for less? Avoid pride.

Monday, June 25, 2007


The April 29 lesson from 1 Peter 5:1-14 was “Act with Humility”. This week we have a lesson entitled “Humility” based on Zephaniah, which described the sin of Judah, their need to repent, and the coming Day of the Lord.

Kathryn Aragon’s commentary helps us see Judah’s unfaithfulness and disobedience as a form of pride, which connects the lesson passage to the topic of humility. She goes on to remind us of “our great value in the eyes of God”, which reminded me of Zeph 3:17, or the fact that the LORD will rejoice over His people with singing. Wow! I can’t wait to hear that song!

Members may not be ready Sunday to hear another lesson where God announces judgment on Judah and its surrounding nations. We have our work cut out for us this week! What is it today that members “can’t wait to hear?” See if you can come up with a top 10 list of “can’t wait to hear list.” Here are some starter ideas:

10. Hear Paris Hilton’s thoughts on mandatory minimum sentences
9. The sound of John McEnroe's voice
8. E.F. Hutton’s advice on surviving as a corporation

1. Zephaniah’s prophecy about the Day of the Lord (see chapters 1 thru 3).

Friday, June 22, 2007

Don't be discouraged

A lesson plan as a series of 20 questions for “Await God’s Timing” was posted by FBC in Chester, Il. It occurred to me that the mere existence of the book of Habakkuk is testimony that God does answer prayer. He is working His ways in His time. Like Habakkuk, we might be unable to see God working today, but reading God's answers in the book will increase your faith and knowledge about God. I hope the Lord has answered your prayers about your class this week, and that you are ready to teach a great lesson from Habakkuk!

Thursday, June 21, 2007

PowerPoint presentation on Habakkuk

Paul Coulter offers a PowerPoint presentation on Habakkuk, which I think can be helpful in preparing this week’s lesson, “Await God’s Timing”. As Christians prepared to give a defense for our hope, we should be ready to give an answer to the question: “Why does God allow evil?” But Paul Coulter asks an interesting question, “Are we more caught up with blessings than with God?”

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Petty Tyrants

While reading the LifeWay Adult Commentary on Habakkuk for the lesson, “Await God’s Timing”, I wondered if we are enabled to see God at work among the nations today just as Habakkuk was commanded so long ago (see verse 1:5)? Why would God issue such an imperative if we unable to discern His handy work?

The Holman Bible Dictionary has an article on Habakkuk that gives a good outline of the book (follow the link and see the bottom of the page). The article describes King Jehoiakim as a petty tyrant, which is an interesting perspective. Consider having a discussion of petty tyrants in your lesson. I'm sure members will relate, but the Holman article makes a more important link from Habakkuk to Paul to Martin Luther. God is amazing!

Monday, June 18, 2007

Await God’s Timing Habakkuk 1:1-3:19

Sunday's lesson went very well. As one anonymous commenter suggested, I didn’t make the leap to “fighting injustice”. Instead, I ask members to privately confess sin and seek forgiveness from the same LORD that we talked about in Nahum.

A 115 of you downloaded the PowerPoint slides for the lesson. That was 35% of the unique site visitors from Thursday thru Sunday. As a ministry, I think the slides might be useful to more teachers, but there is not a simple way to reach other teachers to let them know about the blog. If you are interested in helping me do that, please forward a link to your Education minister with a note asking him to forward it to his buddies at other churches. Thanks!

This week lesson “Await God’s Timing” is based on Habakkuk. It's a good one. You know the expression, “a watched pot never boils”. It was like that with Habakkuk, who observed the surrounding evil and wondered why God was slow to save. God’s revelation helped him, and it will help us learn to wait confidently on the Lord.

Carole Waina wrote the LifeWay Extra this week and to help members start thinking about time she offers an interesting introductory activity to have people mentally count and discuss the meaning of the clocks, watches, or other time pieces they have in their homes, as well as discuss key phrases like 24/7 and 356 days a year.

A different idea is to get members thinking about how impatient we can be. Have you ever gone to a movie and found yourself looking at your watch during the show? Have you ever changed lines hoping to find one offering faster service? What makes us impatient? You’ll find lots of suggestions on how to develop patience, but none are better than learning to trust an Almighty God.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Some last thoughts

In finalizing my PowerPoint slides, it occurred to me to be sure and have members locate verses in their Bibles as I teach. It's important to be able to find a passage in Scripture and practicing in class never hurts!

I know you all are pondering "What should we learn from Nahum?" Top of mind is "How does it apply to our lives today?" Join me in prayer that God will make His message from Nahum clear to us today.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Affirm God's Justice: Nahum PPT Slides

In working thru the lesson, I decided to take a more expository approach and cover chapter 2 as well. Phrases came to mind like "they got what they deserve" and "you can run but you can't hide" as I put together the first draft of my PowerPoint slides. Of course feel free to help me with any feedback you have regarding their content.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Significance of Nineveh's fall

We are studying Nahum in an Explore the Bible lesson entitled “Affirm God’s Justice”. As an analogy to how Judah rejoiced at the fall of Nineveh, the LifeWay Adult Commentary mentions how the fall of the Berlin Wall and collapse of the East German government brought joy to all of Germany.

The Jews had a covenant relation with Yahweh, who had used the Assyrians to judge Israel, the northern kingdom, and campaign against Judah in 701 BC. Nahum prophesied that the LORD would zealously keep His covenant with Judah and judge the Assyrians—Nineveh fell in 612 BC (remind members of the vicious nature of the Assyrians by reading about their destruction of Judean city of Lachish).

Monday, June 11, 2007

Affirm God's Justice

Co-teacher Curt did a great job yesterday setting a context of the history of Edom and Judah before teaching Obadiah. So I’ve been doing some background reading today on Assyria to prepare for Sunday’s lesson: "Affirm God's Justice" based on Nahum 1:1-3:19, or specifically Nahum 1:1-3, 7-8; 3:1-7,19.

Mark Rathel’s commentary on the lesson is useful for background material if you don’t have access to the Biblical Illustrator articles: “The Historical Setting of Nahum”, and “God’s Jealousy”. Read the BI articles if you have them!

I admit that when I read Nahum’s book, it’s style left me wanting. However, now that I understand it is a book of poetry, I will approach the text differently.

To introduce the lesson, I was thinking of the phrase “got what was coming”. Hopefully I can find a useful news story, or video to use in opening the lesson.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Obadiah slides

PowerPoint slides presenting a study of Odadiah seems well done. Another seemingly well done PPT presentation on Obadiah is offered in PDF format. Did you know Obadiah is the littlest book in the Old Testament?

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Drink every last drop

In Mark 10:38, Jesus asked the disciples “Can you drink the cup I drink?” His immediate destiny was death on a cross. He was asking the disciples if they could consume that same destiny, which they could not.

Relating this helps us know God better by giving us insight into how He thinks. To pick up on the idea of ‘drinking’, Obadiah 1:16 says that Edom drank in Jerusalem when they took part in Judah’s destruction—pillaging Judah, killing fugitives, handing over survivors, and boasting and rejoicing. They consumed (drank) Judah’s affliction with joy.

Now the word drink is used again in 1:16b to indicate the nations (they) that God uses to destroy Edom drink continually. In other words, these nations would destroy Edom (drink in the affliction of the Edomites) and continue (keep on drinking the Edomite destruction). Wow! Edom would be destroyed and then it would keep on being destroyed.

Verse 1:16c makes this even more clear by saying, “they (the Edomites) will drink and drink” of their affliction and become “as if they had never been.” The Edomites would consume their own destruction (drink) continuously to the point where it would be as if they had never existed. Only an incredibly powerful, and wonderful God could destroy evil so thoroughly.

To illustrate this, pour some drinking water in a small cup. Ask a class member to stand in front of the class and hand them the cup. Ask the person to drink it all, and hand the cup back to you.

When they hand back the cup, make the point about how God will thoroughly destroy evil. Ask the class if the cup is empty? Many will say yes because they just saw someone drink all of it. However, a few drops will remain in the cup. Hold it up and turn it upside down and let these drops fall. Explain that God caused the evil Edomites to drink every last drop of the destruction they afflicted on Judah.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007


The Edomites didn’t “Accept God’s Leadership,” and verses 5-7 in Obadiah impressed me. God would be thorough in His judgment of Edom. While they could expect others (robbers, grape pickers, friends) not to be systematic, meticulous or comprehensive, they should expect God to be the opposite. He would completely and utterly judge their nation. No one would be exempt.

This teaches us how God thinks. He leaves no stone unturned. The Edomites would be completely pillaged and destroyed. For example, if cancer surgery is performed, we like to hear “we got it all”. We want to know that the cancer was completely and thoroughly excised. In the same way, the Judahites wanted to know that all of the “evil” Edom would be judged. God assured them that this would be the case. God is good.

You might search for a news story where “we got it all” is good news and use it to help members understand how Judah might have reacted to hearing Obadiah words in verses 5-7.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Accept God's Lordship

We are studying Obadiah this week. It is a prophecy against Edom (the descendants of Esau). They thought their homes were impregnable based on their high-cliff location, but the Lord makes clear they would be brought down. Their pride and arrogance would lead to their destruction. They failed to “Accept God’s Lordship.”

Once, I had an elderly man tell me that he thought he was bulletproof, meaning he was not going to die anytime soon. He said this because of his healthy lifestyle, regular physical exercise, and his current good health. Shortly after saying that he was diagnosed with colon cancer. God was merciful and he lived thru the surgery, but for sure, the experience altered his perspective.

A video of a soldier foolishly testing a bulletproof-vest ballistic plate looks like a hoax (or staged) to me. Nevertheless, it illustrates how arrogance can be deceiving. If it’s real, I can’t imagine a mindset that would allow someone to hold a target in the manner portrayed in the video. Maybe you can think of a movie scene where arrogance is demonstrated, but failure happens afterwards.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Site update and Sunday's PPT slides

As an update on traffic to this site, according to, we ended May with an average of 636 returning monthly users (see chart for monthly numbers January ’07 thru May ’07) out of an average 1,464 unique-monthly visitors. That’s up from the 2006 numbers of 400 returning monthly users and an average of 1,046 unique-monthly visitors.

As you can see, a lot of people come to this site each month, but I assume there are many more Explore the Bible teachers who are still unaware of the site. If and when it ever reaches 2,000 returning monthly users, then I guess it will have tipped. How many Explore the Bible teachers would you guess are out there?

It’s still confusing however that few of you ever leave a comment. It’s difficult for me to believe that fellow Bible teachers have nothing to say, or do not want to interact with other teachers. But you are proving me wrong!

I uploaded the first draft of my PowerPoint slides for Sunday’s lesson “Appropriate God’s Mercy”. The lesson over promises and under delivers somewhat, I think. More material is needed on repentance and the indwelling the Holy Spirit. Anyway, please let me know what changes you recommend to the slides. I’d appreciate it!