Saturday, July 29, 2017

Mark: last one, the rest of the story

Mark 16:9-20

It's the longer ending of Mark's gospel, Charlie Brown.  Many scholars, conservative ones, believe that the part of Mark 16 after verse 8 was added by later people who did not like that the gospel ended without a post-resurrection siting of Jesus.  Ligonier ministries accepts it as God-inspired Scripture because it was accepted among the New Testament canon for so long and that God included it.  And it's good.

First, we have Jesus appearing to Mary Magdalene.  If people had simply made up Jesus's resurrection in the first century AD, then they would not have a woman be the first witness to it as women could not testify in court.  But it is true, and God reveals his truth to whoever he wants and uses anyone to spread his message.

Then he appeared to the two guys going to Emmaus.  Then Mary and the two guys tell the duh-sciples who still don't believe.  Even though Jesus told them at least three times that he would be killed and then rise from the dead three days later, they still did not get it.

Finally, Jesus himself appears to them and rebukes them for not believing.  This is testimony to God's irresistible grace.  Although stubborn people resist it for a time, when God calls you to salvation, to believe in the Son whom he sent, he will not give up on you but work on you until you believe and reach God's kingdom as a child of God.  Jesus did that for his eleven.  He did not do that for Judas who had already killed himself before this time.  But if you are hearing the message of Scripture, then he is calling you and his death on the cross and resurrection have your name in it.  You need to answer.

And when you do, if you have not been baptized, then you need to get baptized.  One of my Sunday School girls said that she did not want to get baptized because she did not want to get wet.  God does not leave that option for you.  If you believe, you need to make a public declaration that you have died to your old life and are now raised to new life in Jesus.  Jesus commanded people to baptize people who have come to believe.

Then, here comes a troubling part of the text: the snake-handler text.  Jesus said that you could touch snakes and drink poison and not be harmed, but certain Pentecostals (not all) have used this to prove that you should try to touch snakes and drink poison to show your faith.  No.  You should not actively seek danger.  It will come, yes, and people will survive, though some don't.  But you should not seek it.  Jesus did not say you should seek it, but to just not be afraid when danger comes.

And then finally, he ascended into heaven and sits and God's right hand.  He rules everything and nothing happens outside of his control.  Things may go wrong and death happens in this sin-cursed world, but even that is under his control.  Would you want to believe otherwise?  I don't.  I don't want to believe there is anything that God did not plan from all eternity.  Yes we have responsibility and choices, but God is the ultimate planner of our lives and had orchestrated every day of them.  And who better to do it than the one who made me and loves me more than anyone?  Will you put your trust in him today, join a church body, and get baptized?

Sunday, July 23, 2017

SS 7/23: Prayer Dos and Don'ts

I taught on the Dos and Don'ts of praying today.  I had the children read different Scriptures and then I told them Dos and Don'ts from each.

Proverbs 15:8 - The Lord detests the sacrifice of the wicked, but the prayer of the upright pleases him.
Don't: Be wicked
Do: whatever pleases the Lord

James 5:16 - Therefore, confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.  The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.
Do: confess your sins and pray for each other

1 Thessalonians 5:17 - pray continually
Do: pray continually
Don't: stop praying

Romans 12:12 - Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer
Do: be happy while waiting (even if bored, find something to be happy about)
Wait while bad things happen
Continue praying
Don't: complain, try to repay evil, stop praying

1 John 5:14 - This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.
Do: have confidence (you can talk to God about anything)
Find out God's will.  How? Read the Bible.  Yes, you have time.

James 5:15 - And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up.  If they have sinned, they will be forgiven.
Do: Pray for the sick.
Pray for forgiveness for people, especially ones you are mad at.

Colossians 4:2 - Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.
Do: continue praying

Philippians 4:6 - Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.
Don't: worry
Do: Thank God and ask him.

2 Chronicles 7:14 - If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.
Do: humble yourself, call on God's name, live as if God is always watching (he is), turn from sin and disobedience

Lastly, I read from Matthew 6:5-8 and asked what two things does this text say not to do when praying.  Some said turn from sin and not be hating anyone.  That's not what the text says, but that is true.

I told them even if you have hate, take that to God.  Say, "I feel like I hate this person right now, Lord, and I know it's not what you want, so can you heal me of this?"

But the first thing it says it to not be a hypocrite.  Do not say you believe one thing but then live your life as if you did not.  So, the kids were right, stop sinning and hating.

The second thing is to not pray loudly for all to hear.  If I took one of the kids and wanted to talk to her but then went out to the atrium and shouted for all to hear, who am I really talking to?  Her or everyone else?  It's the same with God.  Talk just to God and don't care what others thing.

Part two of the second thing is to not babble like the pagans.  It's like if I went to my dad and asked, "Dad, can I have a cookie?  Dad, can I have a cookie?  Dad, can I have a cookie?..."  Just have a normal conversation with God.  Tell him what you want once and then just let him work.  And continue talking to God.  Pray without ceasing.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

SS 7/16 - Let your light shine so others can see it

Numbers 21:4-9

Situation: Moses and the Israelites have been freed from Egyptian slavery by God and now they are between Egypt and the land of Canaan.  They journeyed for 40 years because they kept failing to trust God.  God has been very gracious to not kill them all in the desert because of their constant complaining after all he’s done for them.  He fed them mysterious bread from heaven called “manna” and quail.  He kept their shoes from wearing out and kept them all alive.  So here’s the story.

They traveled along the route to the Red Sea, to go around Edom. But the people grew impatient on the way; they spoke against God and against Moses, and said, “Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? There is no bread! There is no water! And we detest this miserable food!”
Remember, kids, God graciously gave them this food.  He did not have to.  He could have just made them hunt and work for it, but he gave it freely.  And he also could have killed them the first time they were ungrateful that he freed them from having to work night and day with no break in Egypt.
Then the Lord sent venomous snakes among them; they bit the people and many Israelites died. The people came to Moses and said, “We sinned when we spoke against the Lord and against you. Pray that the Lord will take the snakes away from us.” So Moses prayed for the people.
The Lord said to Moses, “Make a snake and put it up on a pole; anyone who is bitten can look at it and live.” So Moses made a bronze snake and put it up on a pole. Then when anyone was bitten by a snake and looked at the bronze snake, they lived.

Unless you are tempted to think of how stupid the Israelites are because they are so ungrateful, let me remind you of what you all do.  You waste whole sandwiches because you want sugar.  You have the rare opportunity to tour SunTrust Park but complain about being hungry and having to walk everywhere.  And you continue to be mean to each other no matter how many times I have told you to treat each other the way you want to be treated.  And lest I think too highly of myself, I actually do the same things.  That’s why I get so mad when I see you do it. 

Do you see how miserable and pathetic we are because of sin?  We love ourselves so much that we think we are better than God.  We want our way and not his way.  And yet he still let us wake up today. 

Jesus talks about this story to Nicodemus.  John 3:14-15 Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, 15 that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him.”

But do you know how dark it is because of sin?  It was impossible to come to God in our sin because we would burn in his anger.  But what was impossible, God made possible.  Just like he had mercy and let Moses make a bronze snake so that the people could look to it and be healed from their snake-bites, he also sent to us a Savior to die in my place for the sin I committed, and then Jesus lived so I could inherit his goodness. 

This flashlight is made to shine.  But what happens?  Nothing.  Let’s open the battery area.  Nothing.  What if I put coins and rocks in it?  Still nothing. It needs batteries.

In the same way, you have no light or life without Jesus.  We are dead in our sins and trespasses and cannot believe because we’re dead.  Jesus has to make us alive.  And if you believe and love our Lord, then he has done that.  If you are hearing me tell you this, then you are being called and must respond.

And when you respond, you need to take the light of Jesus and share it with others.  And the meaner that people are to you, the more they need that light and love that has changed you.

Matthew 5:16 – Let your light shine so others can see it.  Then they will see the good things you do.  And they will bring glory to your father in heaven.

There was once a man named Jim Elliot.  He and some men and their wives went to share Jesus with native Americans in South America.  But these men did not want the light just yet, so they killed Jim and the other men.  What did their wives do?  What would you do if you were the wives?  They came back to South America to share Jesus with the same men that killed their husbands.  And they came to know Jesus and were saved from hell.  When the children grew up, they had every right to kill the men who killed their dads.  But they did not.  They treated them like dads and loved them.  We are to do the same thing to others.