Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The Sacrifice is Sufficient, Isaiah 49:1-53:12

The lesson, “The Sacrifice is Sufficient” is taken from Isaiah 53:2-12.

Sample openings from selected comentaries:

James McCullen “A prominent lawyer, Jay Sekulow, currently serves as Chief Counsel for the American Center for Law and Justice. He gives the testimony that this passage of scripture caused him to convert to Christianity from the Jewish faith. He could not explain these scriptures unless they referred to the sacrifice Christ made”

Leroy Fenton Regarding the current economic crisis: “Would it not be a good thing to look beneath the problem to the cause. Morality is related directly to the issues of faith in a Holy God who demands righteousness of his people. Where is God in all of this? Why should we have to suffer? How do we overcome this economic bondage and captivity? How do we reconcile the economist’s view with religious beliefs? How do we reconcile human freedom and irresponsibility?”

Mark Lashley “We all have lots of things going on in our lives. What if God showed up in your life in ways that simply defied human explanation? What would happen if God unleashed His power within you?”

David Self “In today's Bible Study we'll see startling clear specific prophecies about Jesus that were written hundreds of years prior to their fulfillment. The Hebrew was translated to Greek by at least 150 B.C.!”

Another idea for starting the lesson is to allow members to share about the hometown where they grew up. Ask what expectations the towns people had on those growing up there, for example, what should they become, or do in life? Ask, what do you think the townspeople of Nazareth would have expected of Jesus?

Friday, March 27, 2009

PPT slides for "Stay Spiritually Alert", Isaiah 36-39

A couple of ideas I incorporated into my PPT slides for “Stay Spiritually Alert” are “spiritual yawning” and the Volvo Driver Alert System.

Yawning is an action to increase alertness, so I paralleled that action with Bible study to form an idea of “spiritual yawning.” We practice spiritual yawning to increase our focus on God to act with Godly wisdom. Hence, I can excuse some members who yawn during my lessons. They are actually trying to stay alert!

If you have an idea about how to improve the slides, let me know (comment on this post).

Thursday, March 26, 2009


I went with a church group to Israel. As we visited the various sites, the tour guide frequently reminded us to watch out for pickpockets. Sadly, when we visited the Garden Of Gethsemane, an older gentleman in our group had his wallet stolen. He was on the lookout, too, but it happened anyway.

Perhaps you can read the following testimony during your lesson:

Pickpockets on the subway in Lisbon were very active. They didn't get anything from me because the money was in my money belt — but my purse was opened twice in the same day! And I thought I was alert!! Teri, Portland, Ore.

I haven’t settled on how I want to teach this week’s lesson. I like the LifeWay application, but I think there is more to the background passage than meets the eye.

For example, Hezekiah prayed regularly and worshipped God, implying that he was spiritually alert, but his faithfulness was tested (2 Chron. 32:31).

Alternatively, David Self of Second Baptist, Houston, offers three applications:
1. In times of calamity, we must trust God.
2. God hears our prayers and answers them.
3. Rejecting God involves judgment.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009


Step 2 of the LifeWay Adult Leader Guide for, “Stay Spiritually Alert” proposes six questions (p.56) to ask class members. An additional question is included in the commentary on verse 5, “Did Hezekiah’s prayer change God’s mind or will?” (p. 56).

And there’s more! Based on Isaiah 32:1, “a king will reign in righteousness” was Hezekiah a type of Christ?

What does Hezekiah’s name mean?

Was there significance to the additional 15 years of life given to Hezekiah?

Hezekiah prayed but does that imply he was spiritually alert?

The same question applies to us: if we are praying does that imply we are spiritually alert?

Monday, March 23, 2009

Stay Spiritually Alert, Isaiah 36-38

After reading the background passage (Isaiah 36-38, see also II Kings 18-20) for this week’s lesson, I checked out a few lesson commentaries to see if there was consensus on Lifeway’s application: “Stay Spiritually Alert.”

Mark Rathel and Leroy Fenton agreed, but Lucien Coleman did not focus on Hezekiah being prideful after his healing. He suggests instead that Hezekiah was demonstrating his wherewithal to offer support against the Assyrians.

What does it mean to be spiritually alert? Jesus was alert when Peter said, “Be it far from thee, Lord: this shall not be unto thee.” (Matthew 16:21-23). Jesus recognized Peter’s words as an attack from Satan.

Can you cite another example from Scripture of spiritual alertness?

Friday, March 20, 2009

Fake ice cream

Two lessons plans by Jay Hancock and Mark Cimijotti from Carmel Baptist were posted this week. Mark’s plan has a handy two-sheet handout with blanks that learners can fill in as the lesson progresses.

Tony Collins opens his comments on the lesson, “Follow the Lord’s Will” by noting that it is not easy for men to follow directions. Maybe this applies to Rob Faircloth who wrote in his blog, “Free Will Run Amok” regarding the LifeWay material this week.

The opening in Lucien Coleman’s lesson plan (from Riverland Hills) suggested to me an illustration to consider. I enjoy real ice cream as opposed to a cheap, ice cream-like version. Does anyone remember Melorine? One way to start the lesson is to ask class members which fast food restaurant chain offers the best ice cream cone? I vote for Chick-fil-A.

The applications listed in the lesson outline from W. B. Tolar (p. 4) might help you end your lesson. Speaking of endings, that’s it for this week!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Cultural helps and hinderances

Sam Tullock’s comments on the lesson offer a good outline of the background passage. He also states that Americans “embrace a gospel that has little place for confrontational preaching.”

Our culture both helps and hinders us as we seek to follow the Lord’s will. For example, consider how we value: (1) Individual freedom and liberty, (2) Technological advances, and (3) Wealth, health, comfort and entertainment.

Discuss with your class how these values can be a blessing and help us follow the Lord, or how they can deter us.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Had it backwards

Reading Isaiah 29:15-16 for the lesson, “Follow the Lord’s Will,” made me think of people who work undercover of darkness and think no one can see them. However, God has “night vision” and sees everything that goes on in the affairs of men.

Verse 16 in particular reminded me of the idea that someone "had it backwards!” Our knowledge and wisdom has limits, which we forget. God must see our backward thinking and laugh. I thought the following was funny:

Yahoo Question: “I've worn contact for about 6 years with no problems. But today, one of them keeps moving around and falling out and it's become a real hassle. I couldn't even see clearly while driving to work! I put in a new one, but nothing has changed. Any tips on what I can do? It's ruining my day!!!”

Yahoo Answer: The only reason mine did that is if I had it in backwards, inside out.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Generation gap

The lesson writers for “Follow the Lord’s Will” emphasize man’s ability to make life choices (right and wrong) in contrast to a fatalistic view that attributes everything that happens to “the Lord’s will.”

Reading Mark Rathel’s comments on the focal passage the following words were top of mind: blind, illiterate, shallow, and foolish. To start your lesson, try putting these words on a marker board and ask members what category of people they describe. Note their answers on the board, too.

I thought the words best described a younger generation who is biblically illiterate, un-churched, and unwise. Members of a generation gap perhaps?

Monday, March 16, 2009

Bible software

I was pleased with how my lesson went yesterday. I felt that it was informative (not just interesting) and challenging (not just accurate). This week we study a lesson titled, "Follow the Lord's Will," based on Isaiah 24:1-35:10.

I'm hoping you'll comment (below) and tell me if you use Bible software installed on your PC, or not. I've used Quickverse Bible software in the past, and occasionally use iLumina, but in general, I use the web instead of any locally installed software. However, a friend is talking to me about using Logos Bible Software. Have any of you used it?

Don't be shy. Let me hear from you.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Tullock's comments just in...

I encourage you to read Dr. Sam Tullock’s lesson commentary this week. It is especially helpful given the length of the lesson background passage (17 chapters). I used it to update my PPT slides for the lesson.

Friday, March 13, 2009

PPT slides for "Act on Revealed Truth," Isaiah 7:1-14,16

Dr. Harry Leafe teaches that Christians misuse the saying, “God opened a door for me.” The idea of the Lord “opening a door” is used in Scripture to refer to His making a way for the sharing the gospel.

However, in making a decision unrelated to ministry, many Christians simply say, “The Lord opened a door,” when in fact the Lord had nothing to do with the decision. They simply did what they wanted to do. They avoided the heavy lifting of seeking spiritual wisdom from the Word.

I thought this teaching point was pertinent to step 4 of the lesson, “Act on Revealed Truth,” so I included it in my PPT slides for the lesson.

P.S. Sign up to follow this blog (see right side of page), or forward a link to other Explore the Bible teachers you know.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Focus on God

Step 2 of the lesson, “Act on Revealed Truth” emphasizes our focus should be on the Lord in a time of crisis. This is one of the applications in the lesson plan by Mark Cimijotti of Carmel Baptist.

However, to help create interest with a little humor, I thought I’d show a timeline chart that included a few secular events I found in the iLumina Bible.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

How to develop confidence

Developing confidence in the Lord is the main idea of Step 3 of the lesson, “Act on Revealed Truth.” For some years, I’ve enjoyed reading Ray Stedman’s sermon on Isaiah 7. Understanding this passage helped me develop confidence in the Lord.

See the article: “how to develop confidence...” for a possible exercise in "growing confidence" in God.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Opportunity knocking to trust God?

In Step 4 of “Act on Revealed Truth”, King Ahaz’s response to the LORD in Isaiah 7:10-12 reminded me of the truth that Jesus spoke in Luke 16:19-31. Some people simply will not believe God.

Isaiah pictures the people of Judah as fear struck in Isaiah 7:2. David Self’s lesson commentary begins with an analogy of people being under pressure. How do they respond?

Kelly Kinto’s lesson plan begins with a good illustration. An opportunity to trust God’s word is ignored and pain and suffering results. I’ll begin with a PPT slide somewhat like the following.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Act on Revealed Truth, Isaiah 7:1-14, 16

If you can believe it, the background passage for this week’s lesson, “Act on Revealed Truth” covers 24 chapters (Isaiah 7:1-23:18)! Fortunately, the focal passage (Isaiah 7:1-14, 16) is short enough.

When we taught the same focal passage three years ago, our lesson was titled, “Do you take God at His Word?” I’d bet the lesson writers at Lifeway knew of this title, and perhaps even those used back in the day of Herschel Hobbs, too. It must be an interesting exercise to sit in a Lifeway meeting to decide lesson titles on passages that have been taught many times.

A more interesting topic is Isaiah 7:14. Be sure and spend the time this week praying and studying this verse to make sure you understand it well.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Slide redux

We taught the same focal passage (Isaiah 6:1-13) 3-years ago, so I posted my slides for the lesson back then, “Do you volunteer to serve?”

I didn't update the slides for this lesson since I am not teaching this week.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Isaiah's experience

Isaiah’s vision reminds me of John’s testimony when he saw the Lord in heaven.

Isaiah’s understanding of his sinful condition (and that of the people) occurs as a result of his vision of God.

Today, how can we observe perfection and realize our sinful condition? We look into the perfect law of the LORD and through the law we become conscious of sin.

You might consider reading this article on how the law exposes sin.

Monday, March 02, 2009

Honor the Lord, Isaiah 6:1-13

Based on Isaiah 6:1-13, the lesson, “Honor the Lord” is thought provoking. Isaiah saw a vision of God and afterwards, served Him the rest of his life.

Isaiah might agree with this statement: his vision of God’s holiness changed his life. What do people say, “changed my life” today? If you Google the Internet, or Google News with the quoted phrase, “changed my life” you seen many results for what people say today.

Making up your own list of these (say the top 10), and presenting them to your class might be a good way to start the lesson. This would get members talking about what changes people’s lives. Of course, we are interested in changed lives that commit to honoring and serving the risen Lord!

Also, here is a link to a previous post about honoring the Lord.