Monday, December 31, 2007

God’s purposes trump human pride

Rick Hyde, pastor, First Church of England, Arkansas, comments on “God’s Purposes Trump Human Pride”, which is based on Genesis 11:1-9, 27-32. He relates the account of the Apollo 8 crew reading from Genesis in the troubled year of 1968. He connects it to the tower builders in Genesis 11. I plan to show a photomontage of various towers and state the name of the builder. (Does anyone know of a list of famous towers, or find a link on the web to a list?)

People today want to “make a name for themselves,” too. See this story. Corporate marketing knows how to appeal to this desire as the “Indian Elephant Tower Builder” commercial illustrates. Ask members if they have a desire to become famous.

Our pastor challenged us yesterday to “do something great in 2008”. He had in mind that regardless of our present circumstances, we can thrive through Christ, who strengthens us. He emphasized our partnership with Christ, and His power in us to meet the challenge of the possibilities that lay before us.

Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas!

Cynthia Price from Arkansas comments on "God offers new opportunities", the LifeWay lesson for December 30, 2007, which is based on Genesis 8:15-17, 20-22, 9:1-3, 8-13.

Hope you have a great day celebrating the Lord's birth!

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Lesson plans and questions

You might consider Bob O’Haver’s commentary on the lesson, “Accept God’s Promised Savior.” He has some neat features on his site, like roll-over Bible verse pop-ups. Cool!

Does anyone know what happened to the website for Milo Baptist Church? The URL is no longer valid. It’s odd that a church would allow the validity of its domain name to laspe.

Below are some lesson questions taken from First Baptist Church, Chester, Illinois (I copied them since the link is not sticky). Below those I also copied a few lesson questions from Manchester Baptist Church.

Sunday School Questions for December 23
Accept God's Promised Savior
Lesson Passage John 1:1-18

The holidays can be a very busy time for us. We need to be sure we make time for ourselves and more importantly, make time for God. The lesson today will allow us to see the glory of God by seeing the humanity of Jesus. As we saw in Genesis 1:3; the creation of light dispelled the darkness on the first day of creation and we see today how the light of Jesus pierced through the darkness of sin.

Let's dig in-
Share your name with the class and tell us about a gift you returned and why or a gift you gave that you know was returned.

What reasons can you give for not accepting a gift from someone? How does it make you feel when someone refuses to accept a gift from you?

Does the introduction to John's Gospel remind you of the introduction of any other Book in the Bible?

Verse 1 speaks in a paradox, who can tell us what a paradox is? Who is the "The Word"? What do these opening verses tell us about baby Jesus? Is it difficult to understand that even as an infant, Jesus was already ageless and timeless?

If Jesus were to stand visibly before you today and ask, "Who do you say I am?" how would you answer? Would your response be any different from what these Scriptures teach? How so?
Will someone read verse 5 to us? What does this verse mean to you?

Imagine you are at Christmas dinner at your non-Christian relative's house and the conversation turns to Jesus, how would you explain the Divinity of Jesus to those present?
How would you describe in your own words John the Baptist's messages about himself and about Jesus?

Can we all agree that John the Baptist had the role as Jesus' forerunner to bear testimony to the Deity of Jesus? A definition of a witness is someone who provides facts, not personal opinions. Are you a witness like John the Baptist? Do you convey the truth about Jesus' identity?

How does God provide means today to point people to Jesus? When you hear other Christians witness about Jesus, how do you usually feel? If you are not totally supportive of a fellow believer's testimony what does that say about you? What do you need to do about it?

What is the difference between knowing Christ and knowing about Christ? Honesty Time!- Which describes you best, do you know Him or know about Him?

Are all people, Christian or not, considered to be "children of God"? Those who receive Jesus as Savior and Lord are granted the awesome gift of becoming the children of God. What does this mean to you? What does this tell us about the nature of God's gift? What are the privileges and responsibilities of being called a child of God? In your opinion, what is (or would be) the greatest blessing involved in being a child of God?

John 1:14-18 proclaims that Jesus Christ was fully God in human form, the meaning of Incarnation. God made Himself known through Christ. How does this Christmas lesson reinforce your need for Christ? If you have never received Jesus as your personal Savior, what is holding you back? If you have, how will you take greater initiative to tell nonbelievers, even those non-Christian relatives, about who Jesus is and what He has done for you? Let's pray!

From Manchester Baptist Church:

Accept God's Promised Savior

Those who receive Jesus by faith become God's children.
~~John 1:1-18~~

Why is it significant that Jesus participated with the Father in creation? (1:3)
Why did John repeatedly refer to Jesus as light? (1:8-9)
How can we explain that Jesus' own people did not accept Him? (1:11)
How can we witness effectively to persons in our world? (1:15)

Study Questions

What title did John give to Jesus? (1:1)
How could Jesus have participated in creation? (1:3)
What divinely ordained task did John the Baptist fulfill? (1:7)
What do believers in Jesus receive? (1:12)
Who reveals God fully? (1:18)

Friday, December 21, 2007


Only by God's grace will someone “Accept God’s Promised Savior”. A couple of years ago, we studied Romans, and God’s grace was one of the lesson topics. I mention it as a possible help to your discussion of grace this Sunday. Below are links to each of my lesson posts for “What about God’s Grace?”.

Grace as God’s Ability
Can’t get there from here
Perspective gap
Abundant grace
More about God’s grace
Spotlight grace

Thursday, December 20, 2007


I enjoy reading each week Dr. Sam Tullock’s commentary on the Exlore the Bible lesson, which this week is “Accept God’s Promised Savior”. I can relate to his writing since he is in the trenches as a teacher, and is not just a hired gun commentator.

You might say, I ‘receive’ his teaching—knowing the source from which it comes, and the humility with which it is offered. I’ve never met Dr. Tullock personally, so I only know him thru his words. However, by receiving his teaching he is a blessing to me.

Jesus’ own people did not receive Him according to John 1:11. Unlike my virtual relationship with Dr. Tullock, they met Jesus personally, observed His behavior, and listened to Him talk. In Jesus, they could see God in action as a man, yet they did not receive Him. They missed a blessing.

Ask members to think of people they receive, and what blessings stem from the relationship. Perhaps reading excerpts from this story will help members recall the blessings they have received.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Using contrast

Proverbs 11:30 came to mind while thinking about Step 3 of “Accept God’s Promised Savior”, LifeWay’s Explore the Bible lesson this week.

The Leader Guide asks for teachers to describe an effective witness. The proverb describes “he who wins souls” as “wise”.

Here are tips for being an effective witness in a courtroom situation. What are the contrasts with being an effective witness for Christ?

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Invisible, but present word

I’m reading The Call, by Os Guinness, and on p. 64 he makes a point about the Lord that I think is relevant to the lesson, “Accept God’s Promised Savior”. He says, “Words are the deepest, fullest expression in which God now discloses himself to us, beginning with His calling us, So it is in listening to Him, trusting Him and obeying Him when He calls that we ‘let God be God’ in all His majesty.”

This is key, because as Os points out, God does not reveal Himself to us in pictures, or objects, but in words. The Lord is invisible and inconceivable to our natural senses. Understanding that God reveals Himself to us with words, helps us dig into the Bible to know the Savior. Jesus was the incarnate word, or mind of God.

Of course there is no perfect analogy, but gravity is an invisible power that demands our obedience. It hurts when we fall.

The idea of a trace is a little technical, but it illustrates the notion of an invisible word—a word that’s present in a sentence, but not visible.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Accept God's Promised Savior John 1:1-18

"Accept God's Promised Savior" is the lesson this week, and it is based on John 1:1-18. It's not clear how I can add anything to the passage that can't be appreciated by simply reading it.

Pray for the technical people at Their site was hacked. Such evil! Pray that the perp will accept God's promised savior, Jesus Christ.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

PPT slides for "Aspire to Walk With God"

Click to download my Powerpoint slides for “Aspire to Walk With God”, or forward the link to another Explore the Bible teacher that can benefit from them.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Are you good at following directions?

Pastor Jim McCullen titles step 4 of “Aspire to walk with God” in his lesson commentary as “Committed To Follow Instructions”, which raises the issue of how good are we at following directions?
How good are you at following directions? Take this test.
Yesterday, driving to Dallas, I noticed a billboard on I-45 that said,

—the map is in my book.

P.S. Below are some lesson questions taken from First Baptist Church, Chester, Illinois (I copied them since the link is not sticky).

Sunday School Questions for December 16
Aspire to Walk With God
Lesson Passage Genesis 6:9-18, 22

The Lottie Moon Christmas Offering is how we, as Southern Baptists, reach out to our missionaries across the world. Have you given your Lottie Moon Christmas Offering yet? How would it be, if next Sunday, our class gave our's together? What was that last commandment we studied in Matthew 28:19?

Let's dig into this week's lesson-
Tell the class your name for the sake of those of us with bad memories or for our guests and then tell us how you got to school when you were in the fourth grade.In a week's time, how far do you think you walk? What is the farthest you have ever walked in one day? When you walk, is it easier to walk with a friend or loved one or do you prefer to walk alone?

Would you describe your walk with God as a daily event? As you walk with Him, do you do all the talking or do you allow Him to speak to you? How does that work? Do you ever allow the things of this world to distract you from walking with God?How would you describe Noah? How are you like or different from him? Can we all agree that if we walk with God as Noah did that we can overcome the challenges of our culture and our environment? Do you think our world today is more corrupt or less corrupt than it used to be? Why?What were the names of Noah's three sons? In what ways do you think Noah's integrity and allegiance to God affected his wife and sons? In your opinion, were they likely to have always supported him and his devotion to God?

When you are faced with immorality and corruption is it easy to continue your walk with God? When you have seen someone refuse to participate in the corrupt behavior of others, what do you think of them? What do you think allows them to refuse to participate? Noah followed God's leadership and led a life that met with God's approval. On a scale of one to ten, with ten being highest; how would you rate your own spiritual walk with God?

In Genesis 1:31a, God was pleased with all He had created and now we see God regretting that He had made them. In comparison of these moments in history; what contrast do you see? What does this tell us about the nature of sin?

Can you recall an incident in your childhood when you received a strict penalty from your parents for some wrongdoing? What did you do to cause your parent's grief? At the time, did you feel that they were fair or unjust in their discipline? In retrospect, how do you feel about it now? Are you grateful for their concern now that you are older and wiser? In your mind, was God's treatment of Noah's contemporaries justified or was he too severe? Why?

Would you agree or disagree with this statement; "We are so used to God's mercy that we abuse His grace and then complain that it is not enough when He grants it."? Defend your answer. When we look at all the natural calamities that have occurred recently, is God speaking to us or are they simply "accidents of nature"?Someone read Genesis 6:22. How was Noah able to do what God asked? In your life, how do you respond when God tells you to do something you may not understand or that seems too difficult? So far, what has your faith cost you? Do you walk with hesitation with God because you fear what might lie ahead? How has this lesson on Noah's faith and obedience encouraged you? Let's pray.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Filled with disgust

See comments by Mike Dawson: “Aspire to Walk with God” for an interesting example of a band member “skipping to stay in step.” That’s a practical discipline for sure!

Step 3 is concerned with God’s judgment as recorded in Genesis 6:11-13. The earth was filled with something other than what God intended.

Last week, Frito Lay wrongly filled bags of Lay’s Classic Potato Chips with Lay's Cheddar & Sour Cream Flavored Potato Chips. They made a judgment to recall the 2,460 errant bags.

Ask members if they have ever discovered their garden infested with bugs that kill the flowers, or fire ants that have a painful bite? If so, what did they do about it? My guess is they applied a bug killer to wipe out the infestation. God was disgusted that his creation was filled with other than what He intended.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Hire a guide

Step 2 of our lesson, “Aspire to Walk With God,” focuses on Noah’s character as revealed in Genesis 6:9-10. He was righteous and blameless. How so?

Noah didn’t travel alone, but like Enoch, he “walked with God.” His contemporaries did not and they got lost living life.

Liken the idea of “Why hire a guide” with following God’s leadership in life. To help reenforce, the aim of "walking with God", ask members to share about their travel experiences with and without a guide.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Personal Navigator

As I read the background passage, Genesis 5:1-8:14, for this week’s lesson, “Aspire to walk with God”, I kept asking myself what is God’s purpose in communicating this material to me? It might help you to approach some of these difficult narratives with “what purpose” in mind.

For example, what was God’s purpose in providing the genealogy given in chapter 5? Was it to highlight Enoch in contrast to the others mentioned?

Why did God preserve chapter 6 for us? Was it to emphasize the effects of sin on humanity, like the results of a union between believers and unbelievers?

Similarly, why did God tell us in chapters 7&8 about Noah and the judgment of a worldwide flood? How does knowing about Noah’s life help me today?

How are these difficult passages relevant in this day and age to your class members?

God wants believers to live in fellowship with Him by doing what is right. For that, Enoch earned the commendation: “walked with God”.

Mark Rathel’s commentary on the lesson mentions life direction and pace, which made me think about the direction road signs provide in life. I’m also considering using a personal navigator to illustrate that to reach a destination, we need to know a good path, and then stay on that path as we travel (it even talks to us!). In this sense, the Bible is like a personal navigator to a commendation, “walked with God”.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Milo Plan

Folks, Milo Baptist Church posted commentary for "Admit Your Sin Problem", our lesson from Genesis 3 &4 this week.

I've cut and pasted it into this blog entry (below), since their link is not permanent.

BTW, does anyone know what happened to "Bob" at Hampton Road Baptist Church? He used to post wonderful lesson plans, but suddenly stopped about a year ago.

Gen. 3:1-4:26
KEY VERSE: And the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her, and he did eat. Gen. 3:6

All people struggle with temptations and often sin against God.
Paradise did not last long in the garden of Eden. Though God had provided everything the man and woman needed, they fell prey to the serpent's temptation to want more. After dialoguing with the serpent, the woman broke God’s one command by eating the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. The man quickly followed his wife's action (Gen. 3:1-6).

Realizing their nakedness, the man and woman fashioned crude coverings from fig leaves and hid from God when He came to walk with them in the garden. Knowing what they had done, God provided the man and woman an opportunity to confess their sin, but they refused to admit their guilt and instead blamed others. God punished the serpent, the woman, and the man by making life for more difficult for each. Adam named his wife Eve because she "was the mother of all living" (3:20. God demonstrated He cared for them by providing the appropriate clothing, but He also sent them out of Eden so they would not eat from the tree of life (3:7-24).

Adam and Eve became the parents of two sons, Cain and Abel. Cain become a farmer like Adam, while Abel became a shepherd. When Cain and Abel worshiped God, God accepted Abel and his offering of firstborn animals but not Cain and his offering of produce. When Cain became angry, God warned Cain not to fall prey to sin. Yet Cain ignored God’s and killed his brother. When God gave Cain the opportunity to confess, Cain, like his parents, refused. God punished Cain, driving him further from Eden; but God also protected him from possible enemies. Cain's line made great contributions to civilization but also maintained a spirit of vengeance (4:1-24).

Eve bore Adam another son whom they named Seth, who then had a son named Enosh. With this new line, the worship of God began again (4:25-26).1.

TEMPTATION LURES US (Gen. 3:1-5)1 Now the serpent was more subtle than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden? 2 And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the tree of the garden. 3 But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die. 4 And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: 5 For God doth know that the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil. The first two chapters of Genesis focus on goodness and life. Chapter 3 provides the answer for the question, Why is there evil and death? How can evil be reconciled with God's goodness and the fact that everything originated with Him?

The origin of sin is found in the choice of the man and woman to obey the voice of the serpent rather and the voice of God. The serpent, speaking briefly and only twice, caused the woman to doubt first God’s word (3:1) and then God's goodness (3:4-5).THE SERPENT (GEN. 3:1)

Bible students long have argued over the serpent's identity in Gen. 3. Some Bible students suggest the serpent was symbolic of pagan fertility religions or representative of the forces of evil and chaos that opposed the created order.

Other Bible students believe the serpent symbolized life and wisdom since it was reborn on a regular basis through the shedding of its skin and cleverly survived even without limbs. Still other Bible students state the serpent symbolized humanity's inner desires that lead to sin (Jas. 1:13-14).

None of these views are based on the New Testament, which understands the serpent to be Satan employed the serpent, spoke against God and His command, and thus tempted the man and woman to sin. Even as Satan used Peter to attempt to dissuade Jesus from His mission (Matt. 16:22-23), Satan used the serpent and still uses situations and people today to tempt individuals to question and disobey God.

According to Genesis 3:5, the serpent promised that man and woman would "become like God knowing good and evil." But according to verse 7, all they really came to know was that they were naked.

That Adam and Eve struggled to cover themselves indicates that they felt guilt as a result of their sin.

All people sin and experience alienation from God and, to some degree, alienation from one another.

In what ways do we try to hide ourselves from other people? In what ways do we also try to hide from God.11. SIN ALIENATES US (Gen. 3:6-10)6 And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be sired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat. 7 And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made them selves aprons. 8 And they heard the voice of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day; AND Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God amongst the trees of the garden. 9 And the Lord God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou? 10 And he said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself.

The focus of the serpent's beguiling speech was subtle: the tree of the knowledge of good and evil must have been intended by God to keep knowledge of good and evil from people. But people, created in God's image, need this knowledge to be like Him. By placing the tree off limits, God had declared that the ability and right to know what was good and what was not good for people was something that He had reserved of Himself.

The woman, enticed by the serpent (cp. 2Cor. 11:3), ate of the tree and in turn gave some of its fruit to the man, who ate willingly. In flaunting God's right to know and trying to be wise in their own eyes (3:6), the man and woman decided that they no longer needed God. The ultimate source of evil is not explained in Genesis, two facts are clear: evil did not originate with God, and it is subject to His power and will.

Created to be free and exalted beings, people have the capacity to choose God or to reject Him. Beginning with Adam and because of Adam, all people have chosen to elevate their own desires over the desires of God.111. GOD CONFRONTS US (Gen. 3:11-13, 22-23)11 And he said, Who told thee that thou wast naked? Hast thou eaten of the tree, whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldest not eat? 12 And the man said, The woman whom thou gavest to with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat. 13 And the Lord God said unto the woman, What is this that thou hast done? And the woman said, The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat....................22 And the Lord God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know god and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live forever: 23 Therefore the LORD God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken.
Old Testament writers understood the corrupting effect of sin on humanity (Jer. 17:9). But it was the apostle Paul who most clearly set out the doctrine of original sin. Paul noted that sin had entered the world and spread to all people because of the sin of one man (Rom. 5:12). He drew a comparison between Adam-the one who had originally been without sin-and Jesus who-although also without sin-was punished for the sin of Adam (Rom. 5:14-21).

People, created in the image of God, succumbed to the temptation to become even more like God than they already were (3:5). As a result, they would share the dust of the serpent (3:14, 19). But someday the Messiah would come to defeat sin and bring people back into a right relationship with God.

All sinners must face the consequences of their sin, and the primary consequence is separation from God.

We need to recognize all people face temptations to sin against the Lord.

We need to realize all people sin and experience alienation from God and, to some degree, alienation from one another.

Because God holds all people accountable for their sins, we need to admit our sins and confess them honestly to Him.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

That's what I'm talk'n about!

Dave posted his lesson plan today for “Admit Your Sin Problem”. How cool is that!? He’s in good company with his admission about reading this blog, but you have to like the fact that he shared his lesson plan with the rest of us!

It’s an outstanding contribution. Good job, Dave! Thank you!

Is that applause I hear in the audience?

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Choose in advance

For this week’s lesson, “Admit Your Sin Problem,” the LifeWay Adult Leader Guide (p.26) asks, “Does awareness we are being tempted help us to resist? Why?” What is your answer to the question?

I believe the answer is yes because awareness should facilitate response. That is, being aware of an issue is surely better than the alternative? Right? One way to help members is to encourage them develop a plan to put into effect when tempted.

Consider playing the Steve Green song, “Guard Your Heart” on “The Mission” CD. Call attention to the lyric:

The human heart is easily swayed
And often betrayed at the hand of emotion
You dare not leave the outcome to chance
You must choose in advance
Or live with the agony
Such needless tragedy

Do you have a plan to put into effect when you are tempted? As the song says, “You dare not leave the outcome to chance”!

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

The price of sin, the price of grace

Sonshine offers questions to help you prepare for the lesson, “Admit Your Sin Problem”, based on Genesis 3:1-13, 22-23. I always find her remarks helpful, especially understanding "the price of sin, and the price of grace."

Monday, December 03, 2007

"Have you heard...."

To introduce this week’s lesson, “Admit Your Sin Problem”, I recommend opening with a hard-hitting discussion on the sin of gossiping. It plagues the church today, and dealing with it upfront will set a tone for members to better personally apply the lesson passage, Genesis 3:1-4:26.

You can start discussion of the topic by showing a list of gossip columnists, and asking members what these people have in common. As an alternative, share this news story to get members talking about the topic.
It would be instructive to crisply define "gossip" in a way that coincides with understanding it as sin. Anyone care to take a stab at a one-sentence definition? (Hit the comment link below and tell us what you think.)