Monday, November 20, 2017

International Sunday School Lesson for November 26, 2017

             God’s True Covenant People

International Sunday School Lesson for November 26, 2017


Purpose
To celebrate in worship and our daily lives by remembering the redemptive life and death of Christ


Bible Lesson
Background: 1 Corinthians 11; Jude 3

1 Corinthians 11:23-34 (CEB)
23 I received a tradition from the Lord, which I also handed on to you: on the night on which he was betrayed, the Lord Jesus took bread. 24 After giving thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this to remember me.” 25 He did the same thing with the cup, after they had eaten, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Every time you drink it, do this to remember me.” 26 Every time you eat this bread and drink this cup, you broadcast the death of the Lord until he comes.
27 This is why those who eat the bread or drink the cup of the Lord inappropriately will be guilty of the Lord’s body and blood. 28 Each individual should test himself or herself, and eat from the bread and drink from the cup in that way. 29 Those who eat and drink without correctly understanding the body are eating and drinking their own judgment. 30 Because of this, many of you are weak and sick, and quite a few have died. 31 But if we had judged ourselves, we wouldn’t be judged.
32 However, we are disciplined by the Lord when we are judged so that we won’t be judged and condemned along with the whole world. 33 For these reasons, my brothers and sisters, when you get together to eat, wait for each other. 34 If some of you are hungry, they should eat at home so that getting together doesn’t lead to judgment. I will give directions about the other things when I come.

Key Verse
This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Every time you drink it, do this to remember me” (1 Corinthians 11:25)

Some Thoughts

As we conclude this quarter’s study of the covenant in the Bible, we hear the words of Paul, whose letters are the oldest documents in the New Testament. Paul, the converted Jew and dedicated apostle for Christ, was immersed in the Hebrew Scriptures, aware of the blessings and failures associated with God’s covenantal relationship with Israel, and passionate about God’s guarantee of that covenant with all those who have faith in Christ.

Paul knew the importance of “bread” as it related to the Old Testament.  “Showbread” also was called “bread of the presence” because it was to be always in the Lord’s presence. The table and the bread were a picture of God’s willingness to fellowship and communion (literally speaking, sharing something in common) with man. It was like an invitation to share a meal, an extension of friendship. Eating together often is an act of fellowship. God was willing for man to enter into His presence to fellowship with Him, and this invitation was always open.
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The “bread of presence” in the Old Testament is a type of Christ. It was there for the priest to eat every day, and Jesus encourages us to also eat the “bread of presence” every day in the prayer that He taught to His disciples. “Give us this day our daily bread.”

Jesus used it on the night he was betrayed, telling each of the disciples to eat,  and in breaking the bread Jesus indicates His body will also be broken.

The wine was also a carryover from the O.T. Exodus 29:40 “With the first lamb, add one-tenth of a measure of the high-quality flour mixed with a quarter of a hin of oil from crushed olives and a quarter of a hin of wine for a drink offering. 41 With the second lamb offered at twilight, again include a grain offering and its drink offering as in the morning as a soothing smell, a gift offering for the Lord.” This was to be done also on a daily basis.

The new covenant between God and man, means we no longer have to sacrifice animals in order to gain access to God or to be forgiven. Jesus becomes not only the “bread of presence”  or the wine offering, He becomes the Pascal Lamb. Jesus becomes all we need.

No wonder we celebrate this as often as we can, and with a somber note that recognizes our unworthiness. When we participate without self examination, we are guilty of partaking unworthily. When we partake while still hold grudges, or prejudices, we partake unworthily.

Paul understood the importance and significance of celebrating the Lord’s Supper. It was much harder for those within a congregation that had no Jewish background or training.

You can sense Paul’s frustration as he writes to this congregation. Today we have no excuse for not understanding the importance of this New Covenant.

My hymn for this week is “One Bread, One body.”


Monday, November 13, 2017

International Sunday School Lesson for November 19, 2017

         High Priest of the New Covenant

International Sunday School Lesson for November 19, 2017


Purpose
To pursue peace and express gratitude for the gift of God’s unshakeable kingdom through Jesus

Bible Lesson
Background: Hebrews 12:14-15, 18-29; Psalm 66

Hebrews 12:14-15, 18-29 (CEB)
14 Pursue the goal of peace along with everyone— and holiness as well, because no one will see the Lord without it. 15 Make sure that no one misses out on God’s grace. Make sure that no root of bitterness grows up that might cause trouble and pollute many people.. . .

18 You haven’t drawn near to something that can be touched: a burning fire, darkness, shadow, a whirlwind, 19 a blast of a trumpet, and a sound of words that made the ones who heard it beg that there wouldn’t be one more word. 20 They couldn’t stand the command, If even a wild animal touches the mountain, it must be stoned. 21The sight was so frightening that Moses said, “I’m terrified and shaking!”

22 But you have drawn near to Mount Zion, the city of the living God, heavenly Jerusalem, to countless angels in a festival gathering, 23 to the assembly of God’s firstborn children who are registered in heaven, to God the judge of all, to the spirits of the righteous who have been made perfect, 24 to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks better than Abel’s blood.

25 See to it that you don’t resist the one who is speaking. If the people didn’t escape when they refused to listen to the one who warned them on earth, how will we escape if we reject the one who is warning from heaven? 26 His voice shook the earth then, but now he has made a promise: Still once more I will shake not only the earth but heaven also. 27 The words “still once more” reveal the removal of what is shaken—the things that are part of this creation—so that what isn’t shaken will remain. 28 Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that can’t be shaken, let’s continue to express our gratitude. With this gratitude, let’s serve in a way that is pleasing to God with respect and awe, 29 because our God really is a consuming fire.

Key Verses
Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that can’t be shaken, let’s continue to express our gratitude. With this gratitude, let’s serve in a way that is pleasing to God with respect and awe, because our God is a consuming fire. (Hebrews 12:28-29)
Some Thoughts

This is our next to last lesson on covenants. Today’s lesson hits very close to home for a lot us us. Our nation, our churches and even are families have become divided.  I think the question is can peace and holiness survive together in today’s world?

I am reminded of a quote from John Wesley “Though we cannot think alike, may we not love alike? May we not be of one heart, though we are not of one opinion? Without all doubt, we may. Herein all the children of God may unite, notwithstanding these smaller differences.”

Today our Christianity is challenged, regardless of which political leanings we choose to follow. The questions seem to be is peace more important than holiness? Or can you have true holiness without peace?  I have never experience a chasm so deep as what we find today. Christianity, Evangelical, and Progressive have all become unacceptable words for a lot of Americans.

Any church that calls themselves Evangelical, is considered a fringe belief outside of true Christianity. Likewise anyone calling themselves Progressives is considered outside of any serious belief in Christianity.  

The writer of Hebrews faced a similar problem in 60-70  A.D..  No one is certain of the writer of Hebrews, but most believer he/she may have been more of a preacher rather than writer. Most also believe the target of the letter or sermons were those house churches in Rome. And the struggles may have come from those converted Jews and the Gentiles that also believed. This dynamic created friction in practice and teachings.  
The first two verses of today’s lesson addresses the problem. Just as those in Rome could not allow a division, neither can we.  Our love for each other should not be determined by our political or doctrinal belief. We are called to love one another. Today families are fractured, and we have allowed it to remove the love we are to have for one another.

From the beginning there was a problem with disagreement between brothers, Cain and Abel were jealous, and it led to murder. Abel became the first sacrifice, interestingly Jewish teachings have Abel and Christ being sacrificed on the same day. Abel’s blood, shed by Cain, cried out for vindication (Genesis 4:10). The same day (14th of Nisan) that Jesus shed his blood on the cross is traditionally held by the Jews as the day Abel was slain (as well as the day of Passover).
Like Cain and Abel we can choose how we worship, but only one way was acceptable to God. Cain chose to do his own thing, which we would call the way of the world.

Our lesson looks back at Mount Sinai, and the rules God put forth for that meeting between God and Moses. Disobedience was a death penalty even for the animals that touched the mountain. Thankfully, it then looks forward to a mediator that is acceptable to  God, and that is Jesus. Even the priest in Moses day could not make themselves righteous enough to approach God face to face. God appeared in many different ways all of which frightened them to death and they begged not hear God or see God for fear of death.

Then the author reminded the people that if they willfully resisted the voice of God they would no less suffer the consequences that the Israelites in the wilderness suffered when they disobeyed that voice. The same voice that proclaimed from an earthly hill (Sinai) counseled them from the heavenly Zion to consider the danger of faithlessness.

We have a new covenant with God, through a sacrifice He can accept, His Son Jesus.
The final verses of our lesson tells us this:  28 Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that can’t be shaken, let’s continue to express our gratitude. With this gratitude, let’s serve in a way that is pleasing to God with respect and awe, 29 because our God really is a consuming fire.

My hymn for this week is “Our God is an Awesome God.”



Monday, November 6, 2017

Adult Sunday School Lesson for November 12, 2017

             Promise of a New Covenant


International Sunday School Lesson for November 12, 2017

Purpose
To thrive in the confidence that God can forgive our sins and transform our hearts with a new covenant

Bible Lesson
Background: Jeremiah 31

Jeremiah 31:27-34 (CEB)
27 The time is coming, declares the Lord, when I will plant seeds in Israel and Judah, and both people and animals will spring up. 28 Just as I watched over them to dig up and pull down, to overthrow, destroy, and bring harm, so I will watch over them to build and plant, declares the Lord. 29 In those days, people will no longer say: Sour grapes eaten by parents leave a bitter taste in the mouths of their children.
30 Because everyone will die for their own sins: whoever eats sour grapes will have a bitter taste in their own mouths.
31The time is coming, declares the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the people of Israel and Judah. 32 It won’t be like the covenant I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt. They broke that covenant with me even though I was their husband, declares the Lord. 33 No, this is the covenant that I will make with the people of Israel after that time, declares the Lord. I will put my Instructions within them and engrave them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. 34 They will no longer need to teach each other to say, “Know the Lord!” because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the Lord; for I will forgive their wrongdoing and never again remember their sins.

Key Verse
I will put my Instructions within them and engrave them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. (Jeremiah 31:33)

Some Thoughts

This week we continue our study of covenants. In this week’s lesson we have the actual words “ I will make a new covenant with the people of Israel and Judah.” Some covenants are implied, but this is called a “New Covenant.”

Those words are are restated several times in the New Testament. (1 Corinthians 11:25; “This cup is the new covenant in my blood.likewise, Luke 22:20).“This cup is the new covenant by my blood, which is poured out for you. The passage in 2 Corinthians 3:1-14 ,  Hebrews 8:8 Look, the days are coming, says the Lord, when I will make a covenant with the house of Israel, and I will make a new covenant with the house of Judah.

This new covenant is probably best explained by the writer of Hebrews in chapter 9: 18 So not even the first covenant was put into effect without blood. 19 Moses took the blood of calves and goats, along with water, scarlet wool, and hyssop, and sprinkled both the Law scroll itself and all the people after he had proclaimed every command of the Law to all the people. 20 While he did it, he said, This is the blood of the covenant that God established for you.[b] 21 And in the same way he sprinkled the meeting tent and also all the equipment that would be used in the priests’ service with blood.22 Almost everything is cleansed by blood, according to the Law’s regulations, and there is no forgiveness without blood being shed.
23 So it was necessary for the copies of the heavenly things to be cleansed with these sacrifices, but the heavenly things had to be cleansed with better sacrifices than these. 24 Christ didn’t enter the holy place (which is a copy of the true holy place) made by human hands, but into heaven itself, so that he now appears in God’s presence for us. 25 He didn’t enter to offer himself over and over again, like the high priest enters the earthly holy place every year with blood that isn’t his. 26 If that were so, then Jesus would have to suffer many times since the foundation of the world. Instead, he has now appeared once at the end of the ages to get rid of sin by sacrificing himself. 27 People are destined to die once and then face judgment. 28 In the same way, Christ was also offered once to take on himself the sins of many people. He will appear a second time, not to take away sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.
Jeremiah tells us more about himself than any other prophet.  And in his writings we also get a picture of a man that had confidence in God, most of the time, but he did have moments of doubt.  
He was called to be a prophet in the 13th year of the reign of Josiah in Judah (around 627 b.c.) Jeremiah witnessed the rise of Babylon. His ministry lasted over 40 years, through the regimes of Judah’s last five kings and the sieges, captures, and destructions of the city and Temple by the Babylonians in 598–597 b.c. and 587 b.c. He saw the Temple looted, the king and many of the politically and socially important figures of Jerusalem exiled after the first siege. He remained in the city only to suffer its catastrophic destruction ten years later—a horror he had predicted (and was imprisoned for, Jeremiah 34:1-7; 37–38).
He was torn by his prophetic calling. He could despise his enemies, but his real struggle often seemed to be within himself. He felt like “a young lamb led to the slaughter” (11:19), and he questioned God’s judgment. He wished he had never been born, his ministry just a “source of conflict and dissension” (15:10) in his own country. The prophet agonizingly, wondered “Why am I always in pain? Why is my wound incurable, so far beyond healing?” and he doubted if God was dependable: “You have become for me as reliable as a spring gone dry” (verse 18).
Maybe it is because most of us can relate to Jeremiah, that he is so well respected as a true prophet. He was not the most popular, but his message proved over time to be correct.
The “New Covenant” becomes the “New Testament”  and we we add the third part of the Trinity the  “Holy Spirit” to the new covenant, God deals with each of us with no carry over of our forefathers sins. With God ruling though our hearts and minds are we without excuse. James puts it this way in 4:17 “It is a sin when someone knows the right thing to do and doesn’t do it.”
My Hymn for this week is an old one “Jesus Paid It All.” and that is the New Covenant.

Monday, October 30, 2017

Adult Sunday School Lesson for November 5, 2017

Promise of a New Covenant
International Sunday School Lesson for November 5, 2017


Purpose
To understand that our service to God is built upon integrity and fidelity to our commitments to God and to others


Bible Lesson
Background: Numbers 25;
1 Samuel 2:27-36


Numbers 25:10-13 (CEB)
10The Lord spoke to Moses: 11 Phinehas (Eleazar’s son and Aaron the priest’s grandson) has turned back my rage toward the Israelites. Because he was jealous for me among you, I didn’t consume the Israelites due to my jealousy. 12 Therefore, say: I’m now giving him my covenant of wellbeing. 13 It will be for him and his descendants a covenant of permanent priesthood, because he was jealous for his God and sought reconciliation for the Israelites.


1 Samuel 2:30-36 (CEB)
30 Because of all that, this is what the Lord, the God of Israel, declares: I had promised that your household and your father’s household would serve me forever. But now—this is what the Lord declares: I’ll do no such thing! No. I honor those who honor me, and whoever despises me will be cursed. 31The days are coming soon when I will eliminate both your children and the children of your father’s household. There won’t be an old person left in your family tree. 32 You’ll see trouble in my dwelling place, though all will go well for Israel. But there will never be an old person in your family tree. 33 One of your descendants whom I don’t eliminate from serving at my altar will cry his eyes out and be full of grief. Any descendants in your household will die by the sword. 34 And what happens to your two sons Hophni and Phinehas will be a sign for you: they will both die on the same day. 35 Then I will establish for myself a trustworthy priest who will act in accordance with my thoughts and desires. I will build a trustworthy household for him, and he will serve before my anointed one forever. 36 Anyone left from your household will come and beg him for a bit of silver or a loaf of bread, saying: ‘Please appoint me to some priestly duty so I can have a scrap of bread to eat.’ ”


Key Verse
Then I will establish for myself a trustworthy priest who will act in accordance with my thoughts and desires. (1 Samuel 2:35)
Some Thoughts


Today’s lesson offers a different view of God’s covenants. We are reluctant to look at God’s promises in a negative light.  But because of God’s holiness He reserves the right to change His mind when mankind ignores or disobeys the laws.   


Before you attempt to teach or study this lesson be sure to read the background scriptures to provide an accurate account of what is going on.


The abridged version is this: The Israelites had settled at Shittim an area about 10 miles from Jericho, in the land of the Moabites and Midianites. This created a problem when the Israelite men started having sexual relations with Moabite and Midianite women. Even worse was these women convinced the men to go to their feast and worship the Baal of Peor and partake in the sacrifices. When the chief of Simeon’s tribe brought a Midianite woman into God’s camp and proceeded to have sex with her, a priest, Aaron’s grandson Phinehas, was so offended he took a spear and ran it through both of their bellies at the same time. That brings you to the text from Numbers.


The backstory on the text from 1 Samuel is this: The elderly priest Eli, the same one that raised Samuel had 2 sons that were priest. However they were more interested in taking care of themselves than following God’s commands. When this was revealed to Eli, he failed to correct the problem. Coincidently, this story involves another Phinehas.


In our first story God rewards Phinehas in verse 12 Therefore, say: I’m now giving him my covenant of well-being. 13 It will be for him and his descendants a covenant of permanent priesthood, because he was jealous for his God and sought reconciliation for the Israelites.


In our second story we see just the opposite, 2:31 The days are coming soon when I will eliminate both your children and the children of your father’s household. There won’t be an old person left in your family tree. 32 You’ll see trouble in my dwelling place, though all will go well for Israel. while ut there will never be an old person in your family tree.


I think the lesson for us is, God is willing to show great mercy to those that follow his commands, but for those that choose not to follow, they risk the punishment for sin. The teaching from a lot of so called experts today choose not to talk about the consequences of sin. Obviously God does not ignore sin and neither should we.   


God’s promises/covenants are always true, good and bad. The wages of sin is still death, but the gift of God is eternal life.

My hymn for this week is one of my all time favorites and is the gospel in verse and song, “Trust and Obey.”

Monday, October 23, 2017

Adult Sunday School Lesson for October 29, 2017

   God’s Covenant With the Returned Exiles

International Sunday School Lesson for October 29, 2017



Purpose

To be able to admit our faults and pledge ourselves to a life that honors our relationship with God


Bible Lesson

Background: Nehemiah 9–10


Nehemiah 9:32-38 (CEB)

32 Now, our God, great and mighty and awesome God, you are the one who faithfully keeps the covenant. Don’t treat lightly all of the hardship that has come upon us, upon our kings, our officials, our priests, our prophets, our ancestors, and all your people, from the time of the kings of Assyria until today.

33 You have been just in all that has happened to us; you have acted faithfully, and we have done wrong.

34 Our kings, our officials, our priests, and our ancestors haven’t kept your Instruction. They haven’t heeded your commandments and the warnings that you gave them.

35 Even in their own kingdom, surrounded by the great goodness that you gave to them, even in the wide and rich land that you gave them, they didn’t serve you or turn from their wicked works.

36 So now today we are slaves, slaves in the land that you gave to our ancestors to enjoy its fruit and its good gifts.

37 Its produce profits the kings whom you have placed over us because of our sins. They have power over our bodies and do as they please with our livestock. We are in great distress.


38 Because of all this, we are making a firm agreement in writing, with the names of our officials, our Levites, and our priests on the seal.

Nehemiah 10:28-29 (CEB)
28 The rest of the people, the priests, the Levites, the gatekeepers, the singers, the temple servants, and all who have separated themselves from the neighboring peoples to follow the Instruction from God, together with their wives, their sons, their daughters, and all who have knowledge and understanding.
29 They join with their officials and relatives, and make a solemn pledge to live by God’s Instruction, which was given by Moses, God’s servant, and to observe faithfully all the commandments, judgments, and statutes of our Lord God.

Key Verse
You have been just in all that has happened to us; you have acted faithfully, and we have done wrong. (Nehemiah 9:33)

Some Thoughts

The time of this text was probably around 445 b.c. The place was Jerusalem. Ezra-Nehemiah, originally one book composed at the end of the fifth century b.c., described many of the changes that occurred in Judah and Jerusalem after the period of the Babylonian exile.

At the time and place of this week’s readings, the narrative focuses on what might have been the most crucial change: the change of heart of the Jewish people living in the land of their ancestors. It had been almost a century since the first wave of exiles had returned to their native Judah from Babylon. After the Persian king Cyrus had conquered Babylon in 539 b.c., he decreed that the Jews should return to their land, resume their worship, and rebuild their Temple (Ezra 1:1-4). With the prophetic encouragement of Haggai and Zechariah and the support of the Persian administrators, the Temple was completed in 515 b.c. (Ezra 6:15) during the reign of the Persian king Darius (Ezra 1–6)

In 458 b.c., the Persian king Artaxerxes sent the scribe and priest Ezra to Judah. He had the full financial and material commitment of the king as well as the authority to appoint
magistrates and judges throughout the province.

The above should give you an historical background. Our text is the final few verses of a prayer that is started in verse 5 of chapter 9, and concluded at verse 37.

The people that had returned from exile all gather together and hear for the first time the reading of the law, from the law of Moses. (Instruction Scroll of the Lord)

By the time we get from the beginning of the prayer to today’s text, most of the history of the Jewish people has been revealed.  It is a history of a faithful God and disobedient people.

It should prepare us for an attitude of worship in today’s churches.  Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 11:28 Each individual should test himself or herself, and eat from the bread and drink from the cup in that way. We also must come with a prayer of confession just as even Pharaoh confessed in Exodus 9:27  Then Pharaoh sent for Moses and Aaron and said to them, “This time I’ve sinned. The Lord is right, and I and my people are wrong.

How do we get there? In the early Christian monasteries, a special way to read Scripture for a deeper understanding was developed called lectio divina (literally, “divine reading” or “sacred reading”). The practice involves reading the Scripture text slowly and in a low voice in an uninterrupted place. As Gabriel O’Donnell describes: “One reads, in the ancient sense of that word, with one’s mouth and one’s ears. In this context, a text is intended to be heard—and not, primarily, to be seen. In reading in this ancient sense, the reader becomes both proclaimer and hearer of the word and, in the case of lectio divina, of the Word of God.” Believing that the passage has a personal message from God, the reader may pause at a particularly meaningful word, phrase, or sentence and repeat it over again and again. Or as O’Donnell says, they can use a food metaphor: taste it, savor and chew it, and finally swallow or consume it. As the reading continues, the reader is drawn into the passage. What has begun as a dialogue between the reader and God’s Word can become a duet where the reader’s life blends into harmony with God and God’s will becomes the reader’s will. Give it a try.

My hymn for this week is “How Firm A Foundation.”

Monday, October 16, 2017

Adult Sunday School Lesson for October 22, 2017

   " God’s Covenant With David"

International Sunday School Lesson for October 22, 2017


Purpose
To discern how God has guided our lives with purpose and faithful love

Bible Lesson
Background: 2 Samuel 7:1-16; Psalm 89; 1 Chronicles 22:6-8

2 Samuel 7:1-6, 8-10, 12-16 (CEB)
1 When the king was settled in his palace, and the Lord had given him rest from all his surrounding enemies, 2 the king said to the prophet Nathan, “Look! I’m living in a cedar palace, but God’s chest is housed in a tent!”

3 Nathan said to the king, “Go ahead and do whatever you are thinking, because the Lord is with you.”

4 But that very night the Lord’s word came to Nathan: 5 Go to my servant David and tell him: This is what the Lord says: You are not the one to build the temple for me to live in. 6 In fact, I haven’t lived in a temple from the day I brought Israel out of Egypt until now. Instead, I have been traveling around in a tent and in a dwelling.

8 So then, say this to my servant David: This is what the Lord of heavenly forces says: I took you from the pasture, from following the flock, to be leader over my people Israel. 9 I’ve been with you wherever you’ve gone, and I’ve eliminated all your enemies before you. Now I will make your name great—like the name of the greatest people on earth. 10 I’m going to provide a place for my people Israel, and plant them so that they may live there and no longer be disturbed. Cruel people will no longer trouble them, as they had been earlier, . . .

12 When the time comes for you to die and you lie down with your ancestors, I will raise up your descendant—one of your very own children—to succeed you, and I will establish his kingdom. 13 He will build a temple for my name, and I will establish his royal throne forever. 14 I will be a father to him, and he will be a son to me. Whenever he does wrong, I will discipline him with a human rod, with blows from human beings. 15 But I will never take my faithful love away from him like I took it away from Saul, whom I set aside in favor of you. 16 Your dynasty and your kingdom will be secured forever before me. Your throne will be established forever.


Key Verse
Your dynasty and your kingdom will be secured forever before me. Your throne will be established forever. (2 Samuel 7:16)


Some Thoughts

This is our eighth lesson on “covenants.”  Unlike our previous lesson God does not speak directly to David as he did with Abraham and Moses.  This covenant is delivered to David through the prophet Nathan.

Nathan suddenly appears on the scene in our text, not much is known prior. He served as a prophet for both David and Solomon.  Our text begins with Nathan being more of an adviser than prophet. When David suggest he thinks God should have a home as nice as his, Nathan is all for it, when Nathan goes to bed that night the Lord has a different plan. Nathan’s original answer has been changed and Nathan must tell David, “not so fast.”

All of this takes place during a very peaceful time for both David and Israel. The enemies of both have been defeated, and I think David is bored, and is looking for something worthwhile he can do. Why not build a home of cedar and limestone for the Ark of the Covenant?

While some may think this is a worthy effort, God has something better in mind. The Lord of heavenly forces, is offering David something more valuable than the legacy of a temple builder.

There are couple of lessons for us: first what we want and what God wants may not be the same. Second, we may not be qualified for the task at hand. Regardless of our self esteem we might have to yield to God’s time and plan.

What Nathan tells David is much more significant than being the builder of a temple. God shares through Nathan a plan that affects mankind for generations and it will last till the end of time. God is promising a Messiah, from David’s bloodline. A son that will come and be a saviour for all mankind.  And not just any son, but a Son of God, that will come through David’s kingdom, and throne.

There are times when God wants us to be obedient, rather than just spinning our wheels on busy work. When we try things on our own we can become guilty of “growing weary of well doing.” (Galatians 6:9) God did not need a temple He was perfectly happy with the tent. As long as He was close to the people wherever they were, whether in the desert or in Jerusalem.
Amazingly, David did not qualify, because of his sin with Bathsheba and killing her husband. But God gave him something better, a name through which the Son of God would become man.

My hymn for this week is “All Hail the Power of Jesus Name.”  

Monday, October 9, 2017

Adult Sunday School Lesson for October 15, 2017

       "God’s Written Covenant"


Adult Sunday School Lesson for October 15, 2017

Purpose
To embrace the presence of God in awe, wonder, and commitment to doing God’s will

Bible Lesson
Background: Exodus 20

Exodus 20:18-26  (CEB)
18 When all the people witnessed the thunder and lightning, the sound of the horn, and the mountain smoking, the people shook with fear and stood at a distance. 19 They said to Moses, “You speak to us, and we’ll listen. But don’t let God speak to us, or we’ll die.” 20 Moses said to the people, “Don’t be afraid, because God has come only to test you and to make sure you are always in awe of God so that you don’t sin.” 21 The people stood at a distance while Moses approached the thick darkness in which God was present.

22 The Lord said to Moses: “Say this to the Israelites: You saw for yourselves how I spoke with you from heaven. 23 Don’t make alongside me gods of silver or gold for yourselves. 24 Make for me an altar from fertile soil on which to sacrifice your entirely burned offerings, your well-being sacrifices, your sheep, and your oxen. I will come to you and bless you in every place where I make sure my name is remembered. 25 But if you do make for me an altar from stones, don’t build it with chiseled stone since using your chisel on the stone will make it impure. 26 Don’t climb onto my altar using steps: then your genitals won’t be exposed by doing so.”

Key Verse
I will come to you and bless you in every place where I make sure my name is remembered. (Exodus 20:24)

Some Thoughts

Today’s lesson is a continuation of last week’s lesson. Last week Moses brought the Israelites to the mountain. Our text today begins after the Ten Commandments has been delivered to Moses. The people wanted no part of the fire spewing God and what they thought was certain death. Their request was for Moses to deliver God’s message, so they would not have to face God.
Moses delivers the message as the people had requested.  The message was pretty straight forward,  “You saw for yourselves how I spoke with you from heaven. 23 Don’t make alongside me gods of silver or gold for yourselves.”  We know in hindsight they soon broke this commandment. (See Exodus 32)

There is a parallel passage in Deuteronomy 5 that also addresses this instance found in today’s text. I would suggest you read both passages to get the full effect of this encounter.

As we look further at today’s text, you can see how compassionate, jealous, and zealous God is about those He loves and has called. Obey all that God has commanded and you can expect blessings, disobey and  trouble will find your family for the next three or four generations. Jeremiah 31:29 In those days, people will no longer say: Sour grapes eaten by parents  leave a bitter taste in the mouths of their children.

We should be thankful today that Jeremiah has given us hope because, we nre no longer bound by the Law, but rather have a new hope that comes from Christ. As Jesus explained to the Pharisees, “there is really only two laws that apply, love the Lord with all of our heart, mind and soul, and our neighbor as ourselves.”

The burden now falls to us to teach our children, grandchildren and  great grandchildren, God’s ways and law, as defined in the hymn from Psalm 119:33-40  “Teach Me O Lord”.
33 Lord, teach me what your statutes are about, and I will guard every part of them.
34 Help me understand so I can guard your Instruction and keep it with all my heart.
35 Lead me on the trail of your commandments because that is what I want.
36 Turn my heart to your laws,  not to greedy gain.
37 Turn my eyes away from looking at worthless things.Make me live by your way.
38 Confirm your promise to your servant—  the promise that is for all those who honor you.
39 Remove the insults that I dread  because your rules are good.
40 Look how I desire your precepts!    Make me live by your righteousness.


Monday, October 2, 2017

International Sunday School Lesson for October 8, 2017

         "God’s Covenant With Israel"

International Sunday School Lesson for October 8. 2017

Purpose
To eagerly anticipate meeting God in many ways and many places

Bible Lesson
Background: Exodus 19; Isaiah 60:3

Exodus 19:16-25 (CEB)
16 When morning dawned on the third day, there was thunder, lightning, and a thick cloud on the mountain, and a very loud blast of a horn. All the people in the camp shook with fear. 17 Moses brought the people out of the camp to meet God, and they took their place at the foot of the mountain. 18 Mount Sinai was all in smoke because the Lord had come down on it with lightning. The smoke went up like the smoke of a hot furnace, while the whole mountain shook violently. 19 The blasts of the horn grew louder and louder. Moses would speak, and God would answer him with thunder. 20 The Lord came down on Mount Sinai to the top of the mountain. The Lord called Moses to come up to the top of the mountain, and Moses went up. 21The Lord said to Moses, “Go down and warn the people not to break through to try to see the Lord, or many of them will fall dead. 22 Even the priests who come near to the Lord must keep themselves holy, or the Lord will break loose against them.”

23 Moses said to the Lord, “The people aren’t allowed to come up on Mount Sinai because you warned us and said, ‘Set up a fence around the mountain to keep it holy.’”

24 The Lord said to him, “Go down, and bring Aaron back up with you. But the priests and the people must not break through and come up to the Lord. Otherwise, the Lord will break loose against them.” 25 So Moses went down to the people and told them.

Key Verse
Moses brought the people out of the camp to meet God, and they took their place at the foot of the mountain. (Exodus 19:17)


Some Thoughts

This passage might be easier to understand if is divided into  the individual scenes that make up the chapter: Scene One (verses 3-6); Scene Two (verses 7-8); Scene Three (verses 8-13); Scene Four (verses 14-15); Scene Five (verses 16-20); Scene Six (verses 20-24); and Scene Seven (verse 25).

As you read these different scenes you will notice a couple of things. You will notice that Moses made a total of three trips up and down the mountain. You may also notice  alternate names being used for the divine, between God and Lord; however, the names are used synonymously in the same way that we name the one God in different ways.  Both “God” and “Lord” are used in the English translations of Chapter 19. They distinguish the two Hebrew words Elohim [God] and Yahweh [Lord]. They may suggest different sources for the narrative, but they are essentially synonymous in this context.)

Another observation may be the Exodus 19:16. The fifth scene (19:16-20) begins with a bang. Theophanies (appearances of God) are reported throughout the Bible: Jacob’s dream (Genesis 28:10-17), Moses and the burning bush (Exodus 3:1– 4:17), Isaiah’s vision in the Temple (Isaiah 6), Ezekiel’s throne chariot vision (Ezekiel 1), and Paul’s encounter on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:1-9). Each of these appearances played an important role in the transformation of those who beheld them and the life of their community. God’s theophany in this week’s passage recast the lives and destiny of the whole people of Israel.

If you go back to Abraham, God had prophesied to Abraham that his descendants would be oppressed for four centuries in a foreign land. The prophecy came true, and the Israelites suffered in bondage year after year in Egypt. The Egyptians “made their lives miserable with hard labor, making mortar and bricks, doing field work, and by forcing them to do all kinds of other cruel work” (Exodus 1:14). Yet “God heard their cry of grief, and God remembered his covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob” (2:24) and came to Moses at the burning bush (3:7-8; also 6:2-8). When Moses questioned his own ability to lead his people, God responded, “I’ll be with you. And this will show you that I’m the one who sent you” (3:12). Then God added, “After you bring the people out of Egypt, you will come back here and worship God on this mountain.”

As you study this lesson I think there are a few things to contemplate. How eager are you to encounter God? And how can you sanctify yourself for that meeting?  God calls His people in Exodus 19:6  “You will be a kingdom of priests for me and a holy nation. These are the words you should say to the Israelites.” What does that mean to you?

Our hymn for this week is “Holy, Holy Holy.