Tuesday, January 29, 2008

What to pray

This week’s lesson, “Do you care about others,” focuses on caring for others enough to pray for them. 1 John 5:14 expresses the assurance we have that God answers our prayer if we offer it in agreement with His will.

Make a list of what to pray for others, such as (1) their relationship with Christ, (2) their obedience, (3) their worship of God, (4) that they would have wisdom and peace from God, (5) that they would trust the Lord, (6) repent of their sin and confess it to the Lord, (7) love and forgive others, (8) serve God, etc. I suggest that you have members make a list of people they are not particularly fond of and pray for them as I just outlined.

As a human, my natural desire is not to pray for people like this, especially ones I’m not particularly fond of. As a twist, ask members to suggest what they would like others to pray for them. Here is such a list from a single mom.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Do You Care About Others, Genesis 18:1-19:38

You can motivate this week’s lesson, “Do you care about others”, from Genesis 18:1-19:38, in several ways. David Self suggests using a “response to crisis” theme. Vicki Brantly begins by comparing her approach to prayer with how she shops for a list of items. Donald Raney reminds believers to do more than love each other and follow Jesus’ command to love both their enemies and those who persecute them.

How do you plan to get your lesson off the ground this week? Perhaps you can post a picture of various stages of a flower’s growth, and ask members to identify which stage best represents the growth in their concern for others.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Playing the lottery

I found a lesson commentary from Michael Reynolds, pastor of Central Baptist Church in Marion, Ohio. I appreciate it when pastors take time to help Bible teachers do a better job on Sunday Morning.

Sonshine posted questions for studying the lesson, “Do you trust the Lord’s promises?” as did First Baptist Church, Chester, Illinois.

In his commentary, pastor Michael raises the issue of misapplication of Scripture. He also raises the issue of Christians “playing the lottery” instead of trusting in the promises of God as recorded in Scripture.

Do you think Scripturally speaking, it is a sin for Christians to play the lottery? Is it just an unwise choice? Neither? (BTW: I don’t play the lottery, but I’m interested in what you think Scripture teaches). What do you think your class members think about playing the lottery?

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Take God At His Word

The LifeWay leader material suggests singing the hymn, “Standing on the Promises” when you teach the lesson, “Do You Trust the Lord’s Promises?” An alternative is to have a musically talented class member sing the hymn, “Take Him At His Word”. Ask members to identify as many Bible promises as they can from the lyrics.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Timing is off

Reading, “Do you trust the Lord’s Promises”, I was reminded of Romans 4:20, which says, “[Abram] did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God.” So in what way did Abram not trust God in Genesis 16:1-3? His timing was off? His means of fulfillment was wrong?

Seems to me that he assumed God would not provide an heir through Sarai since she was beyond childbearing age, so he accepted Hagar as a substitute.

What causes us to make wrong assumptions regarding God’s promises? I think we rely on our own reasoning rather than trust God’s Word. Our lack of knowledge of Scripture is another possibility.

Ask members for examples of life situations where their timing was off, or demonstrate how we make wrong assumptions by reading a few selections from this list. You could take a few Chinese fortune cookies to class and have members open and read what’s inside as examples of empty promises. Under what conditions would this later suggestion make sense?

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Know the Bible

Post up this photo from Faulke’s Telescope and use God’s illustration of counting the stars to teach, “Do you trust the Lord’s Promises?”. Abram worried about an heir, but God reassured him with an appraisal of righteousness. By what means does God reassure you today regarding, say, His promise of external Life to those that believe on the Lord Jesus Christ?

Time passed. Abram grew older. No heir was apparent. Doubt loomed. Abram deployed a contingency plan. He married Hagar and fathered Ishmael. What causes doubt in our minds about God keeping His promises? Answer: Not knowing His Word as given to us in the Bible.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Do you trust the Lord’s Promises

In the title of this week’s lesson, “Do you trust the Lord’s Promises,” the word trust grabs my attention. In Genesis 15:1-6, Abram believed God, but in verse 8, he ask the Lord God, “how am I to know…?”.

Abram wanted to move beyond trust to a place of knowing. At that point the LORD made a covenant with Abram (see Genesis 15:9-21).

As many Christians are, I am like Abram. I want to know rather than trust. Trusting is risky. Knowing offers certainty.

Manchester Baptist Church offers straight forward questions for this lesson that you might consider using as a 'pretest' to be given at the start of your lesson. Review the answers after your lesson.

What prevents us from trusting God's promises? (15:2-3)

How should we respond when God's promises have not materialized after many years of waiting? (16:2)

How should we respond to God when He fulfills His promises? (17:17-18)

Whom did Abram want to designate as his heir? (15:2-3)

Whom did Abram take as a wife at Sarai's request? (16:2-3)

By what name did the Lord identify Himself when He appeared to the 99-year-old Abram? (17:1)

What is the meaning of the name Isaac? (17:19)

Monday, January 14, 2008

Sanctity of Life Lesson

I'm over committed most of this week and will not be able to blog about the lesson.


Thursday, January 10, 2008

PowerPoint "God allows us to choose", Genesis 12-14

Thanks for answering the poll question on the right side of the page about use of PowerPoint in your class. For those of you who have not responded, please take a moment and vote. Here are my PPT slides for "God Allows Us to Chose".

The questions posted by First Baptist Church, Chester, Illinois appear below for the lesson, “God Allows Us to Choose” based on Genesis 12:1-9, 13:8-13. I think they can be a great help to making your class more interactive. However, answer the questions ahead of time yourself. Otherwise, it could turn into a situation of "the blind leading the blind".

Sunday School Questions for January 13

Many times people drift away from God and church. I'm sure many of us can think of some faces we have not seen in church lately. Could it be they are waiting for a word of encouragement from someone? How difficult would it be for this class to make a list of people that we have been missing and then volunteer in pairs and visit them, perhaps taking a small token gift, letting them know that we have been missing them and welcome them to come back?

  1. Let's go around the room and say our names and tell us how many places you have lived in your life.
  2. Today, all of us will make decisions that will affect our lives, some will be trivial, some important, and some spiritual. Who can give us an example of each one of these kind of decisions you will or already have made today?
  3. Is having an abundance of choices a blessing? How so? Why does God allow people to choose whether they will follow Him?
  4. In Abram's day, people rarely ventured from the safety and security of their families. Has God ever called you out of familiar territory to launch you in a strange land for His purposes? How did you respond? What was the outcome? What did you learn from this encounter with God?
  5. Abram chose to trust and obey, which aided his fellowship with God. What effect do our choices to obey or not to obey God have on our fellowship with Him?
  6. Would you prefer to be blessed by God or to be a blessing to others because of God? What is the difference? Reread 12:2-3.
  7. All people choose either to obey or disobey the Lord. Deciding to do nothing equals disobedience. Why do you think Abram was willing to travel to the unknown land?Would you say that you are currently at a crossroads where God is calling you to step out of your comfort zone by faith and follow Him? How can you confirm that you are indeed hearing God's voice and not someone else's?
  8. As we look at 12:7; what did Abram do as a form of worship? How does this act compare with what Noah did when he first emerged from the ark in 8:20? How did this action reinforce the intimate relationship each one had with God?
  9. How do we worship God today? Which part of a worship service inspires you to truly worship the Lord? When was your most memorable time of worshiping God? How do you ensure that you are experiencing genuine worship and not merely going through the motions? Is corporate worship more valuable to you than your private worship? Why?
  10. In 13:8-9; what was the reason Abram suggested that he and his nephew Lot part company? What does this say about Abram's character? As Lot chose the rich cities, Abram stayed on the less fertile soil of Canaan. What do these decisions tell us about their personal trust in God? How would you have chosen if you were Lot?
  11. Lot knew the men of Sodom were wicked and still he wanted to be their neighbor. Have you ever compromised your relationship with God and danced with worldly temptations? How did God react to your choice?
  12. Quickly someone read Joshua 24:14-15. The choice is yours! Whom will you worship? Whom will you give the center stage of your heart and life? Let's pray for one another.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Practice what we teach

In thinking about the lesson, “God allows us to choose,” I was reminded of the truism in a saying my co-teacher Curt uses: “We can make choices, but we can’t choose the consequences!”

Step 3 of the lesson advocates that we worship the Lord. Why? What are the benefits? When we studied Isaiah a couple of years ago, we learned that worshipping the Lord prevents spiritual blindness that comes from worshipping false gods. It helps us avoid foolish decisions, overcomes feelings of ineptness, renews our commitment to the One true God, who relieves our burdens, and He encourages us. Remember, God is high and lifted up. Certainly He is bigger than any challenge we face in our lives.

Take a moment in class to worship the Lord. As a class try singing Holy, Holy by Michael W. Smith

Hallelujah, Hallelujah, For our Lord God Almighty Reign
Hallelujah, Hallelujah, For our Lord God Almighty Reign
Hallelujah, Holy, Holy
Are you Lord God Almighty
Worthy is the Lamb
Worthy is the Lamb
You are Holy, Holy,
Are you Lord God Almighty
Worthy is the Lamb
Worthy is the Lamb

Hallelujah, Hallelujah, For our Lord God Almighty Reign
Hallelujah, Hallelujah, For our Lord God Almighty Reign

Holy, Holy, Are you Lord God Almighty
Worthy is the Lamb
Worthy is the Lamb
You are Holy, Holy
Are you Lord God Almighty
Worthy is the Lamb
Worthy is the Lamb

You are Holy, Holy
Are you Lord God Almighty
Worthy is the Lamb
Worthy is the Lamb

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

What's most important

An answer in part to a comment on yesterday’s post is found in Mark Rathel’s commentary on this week’s lesson, “God allows us to choose”. Scripture records where Abram built altars, not just the fact that he built them. Rathel helps us understand the significance of their location.

Most importantly, Abram chose to obey God. I have a friend Vic who used to say obedience includes our “thought, word and deeds”. God gives believers a choice to obey Him. He wants us to think, talk and act like Christ Jesus 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Like Abram, none of us are perfect, so as sinners we practice confession of sin to God, forgive others who sin against us, and voluntarily love others. It is most important to our sense of experiential relationship with Jesus that we choose to confess our sin, forgive others, and voluntarily love others. These don’t happen automatically. Our motivation is love of God and a desire to experience deep relationship with Him. BTW, what are the benefits of obedience to the Lord?

Several videos on this site might be useful to help members focus on what’s most important in their lives. I might use the first three minutes of this video.

Please answer the poll on the right about using PowerPoint in your class. Thanks!

Monday, January 07, 2008

God allows us to choose, Genesis 12-14

This week’s lesson, “God allows us to choose” is exciting, and action packed. Based on Genesis 12:1-14:24, it focuses on God’s call of Abram, his worship of the LORD, and his nephew Lot’s choices. But you have a choice to present some of the other great elements from the background passage—Abram’s decision to sojourn in Egypt, the LORD’s promise and command to Abram in 13:14-18, Abram’s decision to rescue Lot, or Melchizedek’s blessing of Abram.

Ask members to identify elements in life where they have a choice. Also, ask them to identify life elements where they have no choice. Ask them if people have a choice to follow God or not.

By the way, we had 123 people download the PowerPoint slides posted for last week’s lesson. I hope you’ll take a second and answer the poll question on the right. Please click one of the choices. Appreciate it!

Friday, January 04, 2008

PPT Slides for Genesis 10-11, God's Purposes Trump Human Pride

If you make some useful updates to my slides for "God's Purposes Trump Human Pride", send me a note so I can update them and make your change available to everyone else.


Thursday, January 03, 2008

Dominos falling

I recommend reading Dr. Sam Tullock’s commentary on “God’s purposes trump human pride.” I’ve struggled in preparing this lesson with the phrase “God’s purposes”, but Dr. Tullock’s introduction helps establish a boundary on the term that makes sense to me for this lesson.

Visually, I picture God’s purposes being accomplished as dominos falling in various places. Once God put His plan into motion, there is no stopping it.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Organizing our lives using cool technology

The aim of this week’s lesson, “God’s purposes trump human pride”, according to the LifeWay Adult Leader Guide is to help believers organize their lives around God’s purposes (p. 65). What are God’s purposes? How do they compare to human desires?

We’re beyond using brick and tar, but in our technology-based culture, it’s common to hop on the bandwagon of the latest gadget and build our lives around them in order to be cool.

Ask members to tell a story about their use of some gadgets to organize their lives: personal computer, HDTV, personal navigator, mp3 player, text messaging, wearable cell phones, etc.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Site Update

The bar chart shows traffic to this site by month in 2007 (taken from statcounter.com). I reported traffic to this site in 2006, too. The doubling in year-over-year growth can be seen in the following average monthly statistics:

Year: ----------------> 2006 2007
Page loads: ----------> 2640 5296
Unique visitors: -----> 1046 2237
First time visitors: ---> 644 1327
Returning visitors: ---> 403 911

I assume the traffic growth is an indicator of the utility of the site even though it has not worked out as I originally envisioned. I thought it would be a ‘happening place’ of active discussion of the weekly LikeWay Explore the Bible lessons, but that hasn’t come to pass.

Nevertheless, I thank God for those of you who visit here. May the Lord continue to bless us in 2008 as we prepare together to teach His word each Sunday.