Sunday, August 27, 2017

SS: on earth as it is in heaven

Lately, in Sunday School, we've been using a curriculum that I don't really have to change much, just print.  Today, I changed it up.  Instead of going from verse to verse, I really like to just take one passage and camp out.

Today's part of the Lord's Prayer is "your will be done on earth as it is in heaven."  The curriculum started out with the verse from Matthew 7:21, "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord', will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven."

Not everyone who says they are a Christian is a Christian.  I will explain two types of that, but first, I will deviate from the lesson and contrast heaven and earth.

For heaven, I will go to Mark 9:2-8.

"After six days, Jesus took Peter, James, and John with him and led them up a high mountain, where they were all alone.  There he was transfigured before them.  His clothes became dazzling white, whiter than anyone in the world could bleach them.  And there appeared before them Elijah and Moses, who were talking with Jesus.

Peter said to Jesus, 'Rabbi, it is good for us to be here.  Let us put up three shelters - one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.' (He did not know what to say, they were so frightened.)

Then a cloud appeared and covered them, and a voice came from the cloud: 'This is my Son, whom I love.  Listen to him!'

Suddenly, when they looked around, they no longer saw anyone with them except Jesus."

What is heaven like?  Jesus is there in his complete God-ness.  Believers who died are there alive.  No pain, frustration, sadness, crying.  Only excitement.

Now for earth, I will go to the next passage, Mark 9:14-29

14 When they came to the other disciples, they saw a large crowd around them and the teachers of the law arguing with them. 15 As soon as all the people saw Jesus, they were overwhelmed with wonder and ran to greet him.
16 “What are you arguing with them about?” he asked.
17 A man in the crowd answered, “Teacher, I brought you my son, who is possessed by a spirit that has robbed him of speech. 18 Whenever it seizes him, it throws him to the ground. He foams at the mouth, gnashes his teeth and becomes rigid. I asked your disciples to drive out the spirit, but they could not.”
19 “You unbelieving generation,” Jesus replied, “how long shall I stay with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring the boy to me.”
20 So they brought him. When the spirit saw Jesus, it immediately threw the boy into a convulsion. He fell to the ground and rolled around, foaming at the mouth.
21 Jesus asked the boy’s father, “How long has he been like this?”
“From childhood,” he answered. 22 “It has often thrown him into fire or water to kill him. But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.”
23 “‘If you can’?” said Jesus. “Everything is possible for one who believes.”
24 Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”
25 When Jesus saw that a crowd was running to the scene, he rebuked the impure spirit. “You deaf and mute spirit,” he said, “I command you, come out of him and never enter him again.”
26 The spirit shrieked, convulsed him violently and came out. The boy looked so much like a corpse that many said, “He’s dead.” 27 But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him to his feet, and he stood up.
28 After Jesus had gone indoors, his disciples asked him privately, “Why couldn’t we drive it out?”
29 He replied, “This kind can come out only by prayer.
So, in heaven, we have Jesus in his complete God-ness, believers who died are there alive, no pain, frustration, sadness, crying, only excitement.  On earth, there is unbelief, arguing, demon-possession, illness, death, and believers who struggle.  Jesus helped make earth more like heaven by healing the boy of his demon-possession and erasing the father's unbelief.  He also gradually got the disciples to stop arguing with each other.
So this leads me to two signs that someone might be a person who says "Lord, Lord" but isn't really a follower of Jesus.  A false Christian.  They don't necessarily mean a person isn't a real Christian, and even I struggle with both of them from time to time.  1: People who are nice, know Scripture, lead worship, but watch vulgar TV shows with violence, nudity and bad language.  They also spend time looking for guidance from luck, horoscopes, and mediums.  2: People who never watch bad shows, and never live bad lifestyles, but they judge people and put limits on who they can be friends with.
All these people need prayer and love and this is one way we can pray for God's will to be done on earth in heaven.  Also, if we are praying for God's will to be done on earth as it is in heaven, then we are praying for earth to be more like heaven now.
How does God answer this prayer?  Through you and me.  How are we going to help God answer this prayer? 1) Tell people about Jesus.  2) Obey Jesus.  3) Cheer people who hurt.
Also, we made Christian road signs such as "Stop sinning," or "Yield to Jesus."  And I started the lesson with funny road signs such as this:

Sunday, August 20, 2017

SS: Your Kingdom Come

It's week five of series on Lord's Prayer in 1 and 2 grade girls' Sunday School.  I taught week 2, skipped 3 and 4 and am now on 5.  This week, we talk about "Your kingdom come."

Psalm 145:13 says, "Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom,
    and your dominion endures through all generations."
Everlasting means that it has no end.  It also had no beginning.  God's kingdom has always been and always will be.  "Dominion" means kingdom.  And "generations" means our children, their children, and so on.  
Lots of kingdoms have come and gone.  The Roman empire lasted thousands of years, arguably up until the 20th century according to some people.  It's gone.  Before that there were the Greeks, Persians, Babylonians, Egyptians.  They are all gone.  Israel as a kingdom did not last and they thought they would because they had the temple.  God's actual temple lasts, but the earthly one did not.  Even America will not last.  But God's kingdom will always last.  
When Jesus was on trial before Pontius Pilate before his crucifixion, Pilate asked if he was a king.  Jesus said in John 18:36, "Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jewish leaders. But now my kingdom is from another place.”
Right now Jesus is in heaven with our loved ones who have died who believed in him.  But one day he will be here on earth and there will be no more death or sorry or crying or pain (Revelation 21:4)
And he invites all the ones he died for to come to him and believe.
How do we get to heaven?  Some girls gave the typical answer: you die.  But not everyone who dies goes to heaven.  And some said that murderers and liars will go to hell.  Yes, but we all have lied and sinned and deserve hell.  Only one person never made mistakes or sinned: Jesus.  He is God and he did not want his loved ones in hell forever, so he came, lived a perfect life, and then took my punishment on the cross and gave me his goodness.  Then he rose from the dead, and now I and those who believe him will go to heaven and be forgiven.
And the best part is that we don't have to wait until we die to enjoy heaven.  Using scenes from Acts 3 and 4, I showed how God's kingdom comes now through healing (Peter and John healed the lame man), through us sharing the Gospel with people, through our enemies (Peter and John had to stand trial because of their faith and had to share the Gospel through conflict), and then simply spending time with Jesus now in the Bible and in prayer.  Acts 4:13 says "When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus."
John and Peter were backwoods fishermen who probably couldn't read.  My class is children who can read and me.  We are ordinary people, but we will stand out because we have been with Jesus.  And that is what we must desire when we pray, "Your kingdom come."

Sunday, August 13, 2017

LH: Pencil - a lesson on listening

What is this? (a pencil) What do pencils do? (take notes) If you are at a restaurant and the server has a pad and pencil, what is she doing?  Listening to write down your order and not make a mistake.  Do you know that the internet is not a good listener?  If you google something, it tries to finish the sentence before you are done.  The worst thing is Autocorrect.  Here are some funny Autocorrect mistakes.

1. I like watching how I Met your Mothballs.  The person was trying to say, How I met your Mother.

2. Ugh, I just hate sitting by the phone waiting for it to ripen.  Reply: Is your phone a banana?  Ripen instead of ring.

3. 1:Are you coming to my New Years Eve party? 2: Of course I will be there. 1: Ok cool, because I am going to kill you at midnight.  The person meant to say kiss.

4. 1: I’m sorry, I should have told you sooner. 2: I’m mad.  I don’t want you to keep squirrelmeat from me!  Intended word was secrets

5. I start my new job with the police force on Thursday.  I just picked up my new unicorn.  2: I would never get mad if a cop pulled me over on a unicorn.

6. 1: I had a huge tag sale this weekend and made $450. 2: nice, I’m selling my father’s organs.  Should make a pretty penny.  He meant to say organ.

7. I Love that new eye slicer you bought me last year.  She meant egg slicer, I assume.

8. Need anything from Taliban?  The person meant some store named Ralph’s, not Taliban.

9.  One time autocorrect changed a woman named Chelsea to “Cheesy”

10. One time it change my name, Meghan, to Methane.

If you want to have friends, you have to be a good listener.  You have to listen to what they say without forming in your head what to say next so that you know exactly who they are and why they do what they do.  You may not want to actually have a pad and pencil when you talk to your friends.  That may seem weird though it’s not a bad idea either.  I’ve never done it. 

I do remember when my grandmother was old and really hard-of-hearing, I would bring a pad and pen and write in big letters what I was telling her.  When I first started dating my husband, he went with me to meet her and she first thought he was my brother Andrew.  She said, “Drew! You got bigger!”  I had to write in big letters, “THIS IS MY BOYFRIEND, TIM!”  I miss Granny.

But if you have good hearing, then being a good listener is hard, but important.  One time a teacher had some kid in time out for 5 minutes or so.  When it was up, she told her she could go, but she stayed and they just talked.  Then she asked, “Am I free to go?”  She wasn’t listening.  Not listening cost play time.

Not listening can even lead to tragic results.  The Challenger Explosion was a result of not listening.  NASA tried to launch a rocket into outer space with 7 people on it.  The rocket had a faulty O-ring.  The people who examined the O-ring said to not launch the rocket.  They did not listen but launched the rocket.  It exploded and all 7 people died.

But more importantly than costing you things you want or your friendships or lives, not listening means you think you already know.  And if you think you already know, then you could miss out on life or death information not just for this life but for the life to come.

What is more important thing to know to be saved?  What question do you need to answer correctly?  If you answer the question, “Who is Jesus?” correctly, then you are saved and are going to heaven.  If not, then you are in big trouble and need to listen to know how to be saved.

Jesus asked his disciples this one time in Matthew 16 starting at verse 13.

13 When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?”
14 They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”
15 “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?”
16 Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”
17 Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven. 18 And I tell you that you are Peter,[b] and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades[c] will not overcome it. 19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be[d] bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be[e] loosed in heaven.” 20 Then he ordered his disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Messiah.
Simon Peter had been a good Jewish boy and knew the prophecies of Isaiah.  Prophecies like Isaiah 9:6-7:

For to us a child is born,
    to us a son is given,
    and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
    Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
    Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the greatness of his government and peace
    there will be no end.
He will reign on David’s throne
    and over his kingdom,
establishing and upholding it
    with justice and righteousness
    from that time on and forever.
The zeal of the Lord Almighty
    will accomplish this.

Good Jewish children also knew about the suffering servant of Isaiah 53:1-6

Who has believed our message
    and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?
He grew up before him like a tender shoot,
    and like a root out of dry ground.
He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him,
    nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.
He was despised and rejected by mankind,
    a man of suffering, and familiar with pain.
Like one from whom people hide their faces
    he was despised, and we held him in low esteem.
Surely he took up our pain
    and bore our suffering,
yet we considered him punished by God,
    stricken by him, and afflicted.
But he was pierced for our transgressions,
    he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was on him,
    and by his wounds we are healed.
We all, like sheep, have gone astray,
    each of us has turned to our own way;
and the Lord has laid on him
    the iniquity of us all.
Did Peter have the right answer?  You know he did because Jesus celebrated it like crazy.  How did he know Jesus was the Messiah?  Peter had traveled with Jesus who healed people, had answers to the toughest religious questions, and called all people to repent.  He had a following.  And if he was Messiah, that means he was also God in human skin.  But nobody in his time realized that the promised Messiah and the suffering servant would be the same guy.  Here is what happens when Jesus tries to tell him:

21 From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.
22 Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. “Never, Lord!” he said. “This shall never happen to you!”
23 Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.”
Why would Jesus all Peter Satan?  Peter wasn’t listening, and Jesus called him Satan because Satan did not want Jesus to die for the sins of his people.  Satan wanted God’s prize creation lost forever in their sin and rebellion and to suffer in hell forever with him.  And right now, Peter was encouraging Jesus to not give up his life, following Satan’s plan.  But Jesus knew better, that he would die for Peter’s sins, mine, and yours. 

But the point is, Peter wasn’t listening.  Peter thought he already knew what Jesus was going to do, and dying on a cross was not one of those things.  None of the disciples got it.  They weren’t listening, and that lack of listening could have cost them their salvations.  I did for Judas Iscariot.  He betrayed Jesus and never repented but hung himself without knowing about Jesus’s glorious resurrection.

But even in Mark 16:9-11, the disciples are still suffering from not listening:

When Jesus rose early on the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom he had driven seven demons.10 She went and told those who had been with him and who were mourning and weeping. 11 When they heard that Jesus was alive and that she had seen him, they did not believe it.

They did not believe it!  How thick can you be?  But Jesus was determined that they would be saved, so he appeared to them and gave them their faiths.  He does the same thing to you and me, too.  If you are going to be saved, then he will teach you his message until he finally brings you home to belief in him and eternity in his glorious presence.

Does anybody have a story of a time when they finally understood something after a long time of not understanding?  Did a teacher have to tell you something over and over and over until you finally got it?  Or your mom or dad?

I remember one time I was listening to rock music and mom came in and told me that she could tell I was kind of sad because I was listening to rock music again.  I was so mad at her because it was Switchfoot which has always been one of my favorites.  A Christian band.  But years later, I still hear her telling me that because it’s true.  If I’m sadder, I listen to more rock music.  But is that necessarily a bad thing?

What does the world listen to when its mad?  Nirvana.  I liked Smashing Pumpkins once.  Those nineties rock bands on MTV that I listened to for a spell in college and in my twenties.  If you listen to them long enough, you become angry and hopeless.  But when mom passed away, something changed in me and I decided that dark music wasn’t cool anymore and started listening to more Jeremy Camp and godly music.  Now, if I’m sad, I just switch to Flyleaf or its former lead singer, Lacey Sturm.  It’s rock, yes, but it has hope in the Lord and helps me to heal and live.  If I need to scream, I scream with hope.

So today, I’ve talked about why you should listen to your friends, why it’s a matter of life and death whether you listen to Jesus without thinking that you already know, and the importance of listening to music that has hope in the Lord.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Hosea: wantonness - Israel's and mine

I finished Mark finally.  This year, I think I'll try to go through Hosea, but about once a month.  I teach Sunday School and children's church and want to dedicate most of my blogs to those lessons since I take pride in them.  But I won't do that every week and need to go through another book straight through.  Kelly Needham has a study through Hosea that's supposed to take women deeper into God's word.  I hope she does more.  The resources are all on her website for free and are good to take advantage of.  For her first week, her homework was to read Hosea 1-3 three times.  I was also prompted to take note of Judgment and Restoration.

First, here is the situation.  Hosea is called to be a prophet to Israel.  At this point, Israel is two kingdoms: Israel and Judah.  Hosea is called to Israel.  Israel has a long history of God saving them from slavery only to have them turn their backs on God and worship idols or false gods.  Each time he sends people to punish them, then they turn back, and then the next generation falls again.  Hosea is called toward the end of the existence of Northern Israel before God finally has enough and has another nation: Assyria, take them into exile never to be heard from again.  He graciously saves Judah as they have some faithful kings, but Israel, after they split from Judah after the reign of Rehoboam set up golden calves and worshiped them and none of its kings were faithful to God.  None.  Jeroboam set up the idols, told the people they could worship the true God through them so they would not have to go to Jerusalem, and disregarded the 2nd commandment which led way to them breaking all the others.

Meanwhile, Judah still had the priests keeping them faithful to the true God while the people would also turn away from God.  Both nations deserved God to cast them aside, but God still send prophets to warn them and save them from themselves.  He finds a unique way for Hosea to bring his message.  He tells Hosea to take a wife who would be unfaithful to him, but still love her.  Verse 2 of chapter one uses a word three times: harlotry or whoredom.  The wife, Gomer, would sleep with other men for money and treat a sex act that God created to bond a man and his wife as a cheap commodity to share with anyone.  He says the word for prostitution or wantonness three times for special emphasis.  Just like it's horrible for a wife to leave her husband and have sex with strangers for money, it is just the same as if a nation or church turns away from God to worship dead images or even people who have nothing to give and certainly can't save you from death or slavery.

So in chapter 1, God judges Israel by telling Hosea to name the kids that Gomer bears terrifying names: their meanings are "Jezreel, No Mercy, and Not My People."  Jezreel is the plain where king Jehu slaughtered the descendants of the wicked king Ahab but still went and worshiped the golden calves.  But at the same time, there is redemption because God remembers the promise he made to Abraham, to make his descendants as numerous as the stars of the sky and the sand on the seashore.  He promised to be faithful and to bring about a Seed that would redeem mankind from eternal separation from God's love.  So, he would spare Israel and leave a remnant.  One day, No Mercy will have Mercy, and Not My People will be God's People.  And great will be the land of Jezreel.

In chapter 2, God would punish Israel for her wantonness, but then in verse 14 he says he will "allure" her.

In chapter 3, somehow Gomer finds herself in slavery and he tells Hosea to buy her back.  It was something scandalous and I think even against the Levitical code, yet eventually, God will do the same for Judah and all his lost children by sending Jesus to die for our sins.  Our sins must be paid for and we cannot pay it.  But God's justice must be satisfied, so it has to be paid.  Praise God, he send a substitute for us, our own betrothed, Jesus Christ.

Kelly has questions on her note sheet.
When have you experienced apathy toward God? How do you feel to know it's so offensive to Him?
Where do I begin?  How many times have I made a friend, made that friend the center of my world, and found myself worshiping that person only for them to break my heart and not live up to my expectations?  Even down to last year, I have made idols of people and slowly seen God strip them away to where I wish I could learn to love people without idolizing them.  It is why I now must spend time away and even suffer loneliness because the alternative is me not being faithful to God.

Does the harsh tone of the first couple verses intimidate you? Excite you? Distress you?
Actually, yes.  I was told one time that the "W" word was once bleeped out on TV.  It's a disgusting word for a disgusting practice yet my sin and yours are just as disgusting.  Even more, against an infinite God, it will last forever and had it not been for Jesus taking my punishment and then giving me his perfect life, I could never come to God or else I would burn forever under his just wrath in hell.

How do you think Hosea felt hearing what God was asking of him?
Awkward.  That is something nobody did, to keep taking back an unfaithful wife.  A man was supposed to put her away for life.  Some liberals even said that this was simply metaphorical, but no, I believe Hosea really did this at God's command.  It is so embarrassing for Hosea to have to go redeem his wanton wife again and to take her back.  And it was humiliating for Jesus to hang naked on a cross when he never committed a sin or made any errors for someone like me who keeps wandering to other loves and interests.  When will I be healed of this?  It will take a lifelong process that will finally end when I die or when Christ comes back.  I wish I could restrain my mind.  I must pray for the Holy Spirit to continue to guide me.