Monday, September 18, 2017

Adult Sunday School Lesson for September 24, 2017

                 Spirit-Filled Heart

International Sunday School Lesson for September 24, 2017


Purpose
To cultivate a new heart and a new spirit, transformed by the grace of God


Bible Lesson

Background: Ezekiel 36–37; Titus 3:1-11


Ezekiel 36:22-32 (CEB)
22 Therefore, say to the house of Israel, The Lord God proclaims: House of Israel, I’m not acting for your sake but for the sake of my holy name, which you degraded among the nations where you have gone. 23 I will make my great name holy, which was degraded among the nations when you dishonored it among them. Then the nations will know that I am the Lord. This is what the Lord God says.

When I make myself holy among you in their sight, 24 I will take you from the nations, I will gather you from all the countries, and I will bring you to your own fertile land. 25 I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be cleansed of all your pollution. I will cleanse you of all your idols. 26 I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you. I will remove your stony heart from your body and replace it with a living one, 27 and I will give you my spirit so that you may walk according to my regulations and carefully observe my case laws. 28 Then you will live in the land that I gave to your ancestors, you will be my people, and I will be your God. 29 I will save you from all your uncleanness, and I will summon the grain and make it grow abundantly so that you won’t endure famine. 30 I will make abundant the orchards’ fruit and the fields’ produce so that you will never again endure the shame of famine among the nations. 31 Then you will remember your evil ways and no-good deeds, and you will feel disgust for yourselves because of your sinful and detestable practices. 32 Not for your sake do I act. This is what the Lord God proclaims. Let that be known to you! Be ashamed and be humiliated because of all your ways, house of Israel.

Key Verse
I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you. I will remove your stony heart from your body and replace it with a living one. (Ezekiel 36:26)

Some Thoughts

The word covenant does not appear in this week’s Bible passage. Yet the language of God’s covenant with Israel emphatically informed Ezekiel’s prophetic pronouncements of God’s word: “Then you will live in the land that I gave to your ancestors, you will be my people, and I will be your God” (Ezekiel 36:28).

The man who conveyed that promise was a late seventh- to sixth-century-b.c. prophet named Ezekiel ben-Buzi. He was born into a priestly family and was probably initiated into the priesthood by the time the Babylonians first besieged Jerusalem (598 b.c.; the city would fall in 587 b.c.). He was married, but his wife died during the siege of the city (24:15-18). Most likely, he was among an early group of deportees from Jerusalem shortly after King Jehoiachin surrendered to Nebuchadnezzar in 598 b.c.

Ezekiel was called to be a prophet, (2:1-5) it was not something he desired. Prophets were not well liked by anyone, their message was never one of great encouragement.

Because the Israelites and Judah had become involved with foreign gods and worshipped them, God had to step in and save His own reputation. God’s original plan was to make these people that He brought out of Egypt a testimony of Himself and of the power of the one true God, the Creator of everything. Unfortunately these stiff-necked people forsook their God and worshipped the gods of the canaanites.  In addition they ignored God’s commands and failed to be obedient to the law as given to Moses.

Fortunately, once these people are restored to the land promised them by God, you will not find idol worship from that point forward in the Old Testament.  Often, God has to resort to extreme means, to get the attention of His people. God is a jealous God and He will do what is necessary to show the world of His power, and goodness.

Parts of the promise made to Ezekiel have been fulfilled in the past 75 years as Israel has been restored as a nation. Israel is a self sufficient nation, and with the aid of the United States and other nations is producing agricultural products and other goods for the world.

Israel’s existence today is a testimony of God’s power. Every nation has to look at Israel and see that this small nation is one of the most powerful in the world.  But they must remember, God is not doing it for them, but so the world will know that He is God Almighty. (32  “Not for your sake do I act”).

My hymn for this week is “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing.”







Friday, September 15, 2017


            Sabbath Observance

International Sunday School Lesson for September 17, 2017

Purpose
To value God’s call to rest and renew our relationships with God and one another

Bible Lesson
Background: Genesis 2:1-3;
Exodus 31:12-18; Isaiah 56:1-8

Exodus 31:12-18 (CEB)
12 The Lord said to Moses: 13 Tell the Israelites: “Be sure to keep my sabbaths, because the Sabbath is a sign between me and you in every generation so you will know that I am the Lord who makes you holy. 14 Keep the Sabbath, because it is holy for you. Everyone who violates the Sabbath will be put to death. Whoever does any work on the Sabbath, that person will be cut off from the people. 15 Do your work for six days. But the seventh day is a Sabbath of complete rest that is holy to the Lord. Whoever does any work on the Sabbath day will be put to death. 16 The Israelites should keep the Sabbath. They should observe the Sabbath in every generation as a covenant for all time. 17 It is a sign forever between me and the Israelites that in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, and on the seventh day the Lord rested and was refreshed.”

18 When God finished speaking with Moses on Mount Sinai, God gave him the two covenant tablets, the stone tablets written by God’s finger.

Key Verses
Be sure to keep my Sabbaths, because the Sabbath is a sign between me and you in every generation so you will know that I am the Lord who makes you holy. Keep the Sabbath, because it is holy for you. (Exodus 31:13-14)

Some Thoughts
This is our third lesson on covenants. We have looked the “Rainbow” and “circumcision” in our two previous lessons. This week we look at the “Sabbath.”
 
In order to understand fully how God ordained the Sabbath, you should read all of the background text suggested.

In Genesis 2:1-3 we learn that God, after six days of creation, found a need to rest. So it only seems logical if  God that seemingly never needs rest, that we, as part of that creation should need and welcome rest.

In the Jewish tradition, the sabbath is the seventh day of the week. It begins at sundown on Friday and ends on Saturday evening with the appearance of three stars. The sabbath was the day of the week when 12 loaves of flatbread were to be set out on the gold table of the sanctuary by Aaron “on behalf of the Israelites, as a permanent covenant” (Leviticus 24:8).  Later, in the Jewish synagogues, the sabbath became an important day of teaching and worship.

Allow me to interject a personal note, last Sunday most of us in Florida experienced a different kind of Sabbath worship. Very few of us were able to attend church, but more prayers were said than on most normal Sundays. We watched and waited as Irma made her way right up the middle of the state. While there was a lot of property damage, the loss of human life was kept very low. We came through without any damage, other than tree limbs and debris scattered and several days without electric and the internet.

Since the time of God’s initial command to remember the sabbath and treat it as holy, the faithful have honored it through devotion and worship, and embraced it as a time of rest and renewal.

The first-century Jewish historian Josephus described the attraction of the sabbath to non-Jews: “Even among the masses there has long existed great enthusiasm for our form of honoring God; there is no city among the Hellenists or the barbarians or anywhere else, nor any people, which does not know about the celebration of the Sabbath” (Against Apion, 2:39).

In  Isaiah 56:1-8 we see a long list of things that hindered the ability of Israel to grow as a nation. The ignoring of the Sabbath was a principle cause of the captivity.

If we think about how separation from our loved ones for any extended period of time (more than a week) leaves us longing for the communion of our family and friends. Then our relationship with God should be renewed regularly, and God in His wisdom created the Sabbath for that reason, we need it to enhance our relationship with our creator. I am certain no marriage could exist without setting aside time to build the relationship.

My hymn for this week is “Dear Lord and Father of Mankind,”










Tuesday, September 5, 2017

International Sunday School Lesson for September 10, 2017

               Circumcision


Purpose
To live with hope and faith in God’s assurances

Bible Lesson
Background: Genesis 17

Genesis 17:1-14 (CEB)
1 When Abram was 99 years old, the Lord appeared to Abram and said to him, “I am El Shaddai. Walk with me and be trustworthy. 2 I will make a covenant between us and I will give you many, many descendants.” 3 Abram fell on his face, and God said to him, 4 “But me, my covenant is with you; you will be the ancestor of many nations. 5 And because I have made you the ancestor of many nations, your name will no longer be Abram but Abraham. 6 I will make you very fertile. I will produce nations from you, and kings will come from you. 7 I will set up my covenant with you and your descendants after you in every generation as an enduring covenant. I will be your God and your descendants’ God after you. 8 I will give you and your descendants the land in which you are immigrants, the whole land of Canaan, as an enduring possession. And I will be their God.”
9 God said to Abraham, “As for you, you must keep my covenant, you and your descendants in every generation. 10 This is my covenant that you and your descendants must keep: Circumcise every male. 11 You must circumcise the flesh of your foreskins, and it will be a symbol of the covenant between us. 12 On the eighth day after birth, every male in every generation must be circumcised, including those who are not your own children: those born in your household and those purchased with silver from foreigners. 13 Be sure you circumcise those born in your household and those purchased with your silver. Your flesh will embody my covenant as an enduring covenant. 14 Any uncircumcised male whose flesh of his foreskin remains uncircumcised will be cut off from his people. He has broken my covenant.”

Key Verse
This is my covenant that you and your descendants must keep: Circumcise every male. (Genesis 17:10)

Some Thoughts

God’s covenant with Noah and the sign of the rainbow promised a new start for the earth and everyone in it. Later, God chose a 75-year-old man named Abram and called him to gather his household, pack up his belongings, and set out for his own new beginning in a foreign land. Abram lived in Haran, a town along the northern tributary of the Euphrates River, about 24 miles southeast of ancient Edessa (modern Urfa). His summons came, like God’s covenant with Noah, with a promise of land, nationhood, and blessing (Genesis 12:1-3). By faithfully responding to God’s call, Abram (whose name God changed to Abraham; 17:5) became the father of three great faiths: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam Abraham has been enshrined in those great religious traditions as a revered, patriarchal figure.

Abram was an Aramean by race (Deuteronomy 26:5); however, when he left Haran, he became a “Hebrew” in spirit. The word Hebrews was synonymous with the Mesopotamian word Khabiru and the Egyptian word Apiru and meant “refugees” or “those who pass or cross boundaries.” As a nomad in a foreign land, Abram was considered a Hebrew (Genesis 14:13, where the word Hebrew is used for the first time).

Our text covers the first 3 of 5 different speeches made by God to Abraham.  God was trustworthy, and his promises would be fulfilled. His speech was straightforward: “I will make a covenant between us and I will give you many, many descendants.” The original promise held firm. The word “covenant” had only appeared once before in the Abraham narrative (Genesis 15:18). But in Chapter 17, to reaffirm that the divine word was reliable, God underlined his “covenant” with Abram and his descendants 13 times.

God’s commandment to Abraham about circumcision was not an easy commandment to keep.  “The flesh of the foreskin was to be cut off as a “sign” (or symbol) of the covenant between God and Abraham and Abraham’s descendants. This was the fourth sign mentioned in Genesis. In Genesis 1:14 (NRSV), God said that the “lights” would be signs for the seasons, days, and years. The sign on Cain identified him as one under God’s protection (4:15). As we previously noted, the rainbow was a sign to remind God of the covenant he made with the earth (9:12-17)

As circumcision signified initiation into God’s covenant with Abraham, his household, and his descendants, so baptism in the Christian tradition represents the Christian’s initiation into the church. In his letter to the Colossians (2:9-11), Paul used the concept of circumcision to explain how the Christian is united with Christ in baptism.

My hymn this week might seem a little weird for the male readers, but it is about making a commitment “O Happy Day.”




Friday, September 1, 2017

International Sunday School Lesson For September 2, 2017
                 "The Rainbow"



Purpose

To recognize that despite the often destructive forces of existence, God’s promise of life endures
Bible Lesson
Background: Genesis 8:20–9:17

Genesis 8:20-22 (CEB)
20 Noah built an altar to the Lord. He took some of the clean large animals and some of the clean birds, and placed entirely burned offerings on the altar. 21The Lord smelled the pleasing scent, and the Lord thought to himself, I will not curse the fertile land anymore because of human beings since the ideas of the human mind are evil from their youth. I will never again destroy every living thing as I have done.
22As long as the earth exists,
seedtime and harvest,
cold and hot,
summer and autumn,
day and night will not cease.

Genesis 9:8-17 8 God said to Noah and to his sons with him, 9 “I am now setting up my covenant with you, with your descendants, 10 and with every living being with you––with the birds, with the large animals, and with all the animals of the earth, leaving the ark with you. 11 I will set up my covenant with you so that never again will all life be cut off by floodwaters. There will never again be a flood to destroy the earth.”
12 God said, “This is the symbol of the covenant that I am drawing up between me and you and every living thing with you, on behalf of every future generation. 13 I have placed my bow in the clouds; it will be the symbol of the covenant between me and the earth. 14 When I bring clouds over the earth and the bow appears in the clouds, 15 I will remember the covenant between me and you and every living being among all the creatures. Floodwaters will never again destroy all creatures. 16 The bow will be in the clouds, and upon seeing it I will remember the enduring covenant between God and every living being of all the earth’s creatures.” 17 God said to Noah, “This is the symbol of the covenant that I have set up between me and all creatures on earth.”

Key Verse
I will set up my covenant with you so that never again will all life be cut off by floodwaters. There will never again be a flood to destroy the earth. (Genesis 9:11)

Some Thoughts

As I prepared for this lesson, I could not help but think about how God works. At least seven years ago a group of scholars met as part of the International Sunday School Committee and picked this passage and this topic for today’s lesson.

Hurricane Harvey has struck Texas and Louisiana and left a path of destruction. Rain has fallen in an amount that only be described as Biblical.  Lives have been lost, destruction may be the greatest ever seen in our lifetime.  Yet there is a coming together, with thousands of volunteers, all working to save life and property regardless of race or creed.

I am certain at some point a rainbow was spotted, and the promise of God was remembered.

I have no doubt God will use this national disaster, to heal and unite us.  It will also serve as a reminder, that God’s promises are true, and we can depend on Him to keep His side  of the covenant.

As we look at our printed text, there are a few things that stand out. First it is the faithfulness of Noah.  Without any prompting from God, Noah erected an altar selected those animals that would be considered Kosher, and offered them to God as a sacrifice.

Since Noah and his family had been on the ark for a year, I can only assume that the animals offered were the first born of the animals carried onto the ark with Noah’s family.
According to theologians, until this time man lived off of the fruits and vegetables. Man had not eaten animal flesh.  

With God’s covenant some things changed, man was free to kill and eat animals and for the first time there was fear of man by the animals. Fortunately this happened after the flood, otherwise it would have hard to gather all of the animals as directed by God.

As for man, he would remain corrupted with evil in his heart. Noah becomes a second Adam, still fallen but aware of God’s mercy and grace, and redeemed by God for a new creation.

This all happened about 4-6 thousand years ago, and the amazing thing is that the eight people that came off the ark are our ancestors, regardless of  race or color. If you calculate the population of the earth today, it is easy to see that our civilization is no older that the bible says it is or today's population would be many times larger than it is today.
God accepted Noah’s sacrifice, but still announced man's sinfulness.  But God also announced that He would never destroy the earth and its inhabitants in the future as long as the earth exist.  Interesting that the “bow” was set as a reminder to both man and God, of the covenant made with Noah and his family.  Now we like to think God would never forget, but He includes  the “bow” as a reminder to Himself.

We should never forget who is in charge, Psalm 24 makes it pretty plain, “The earth is the Lord's, and the fullness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein.
2 For he hath founded it upon the seas, and established it upon the floods.”
There is an old hymn that paints the picture I want to leave with you today. “ If Your Heart Keeps Right” every cloud will wear a rainbow.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Called to be Inclusive

     Called to Be Inclusive

Adult Sunday School Lesson for August 27, 2017


Purpose

To ponder the importance of ministering across cultural, racial, and socioeconomic boundaries

Bible Lesson

Background: Acts 10

Acts 10:19-33 (CEB)

19 While Peter was brooding over the vision, the Spirit interrupted him, “Look! Three people are looking for you. 20Go downstairs. Don’t ask questions; just go with them because I have sent them.”

21 So Peter went downstairs and told them, “I’m the one you are looking for. Why have you come?”

22 They replied, “We’ve come on behalf of Cornelius, a centurion and righteous man, a Godworshipper who is well-respected by all Jewish people. A holy angel directed him to summon you to his house and to hear what you have to say.” 23 Peter invited them into the house as his guests.

The next day he got up and went with them, together with some of the believers from Joppa. 24 They arrived in Caesarea the following day. Anticipating their arrival, Cornelius had gathered his relatives and close friends. 25As Peter entered the house, Cornelius met him and fell at his feet in order to honor him. 26But Peter lifted him up, saying, “Get up! Like you, I’m just a human.” 27As they continued to talk, Peter went inside and found a large gathering of people. 28He said to them, “You all realize that it is forbidden for a Jew to associate or visit with outsiders. However, God has shown me that I should never call a person impure or unclean. 29For this reason, when you sent for me, I came without objection. I want to know, then, why you sent for me.”

30 Cornelius answered, “Four days ago at this same time, three o’clock in the afternoon, I was praying at home. Suddenly a man in radiant clothing stood before me. 31 He said, ‘Cornelius, God has heard your prayers, and your compassionate acts are like a memorial offering to him. 32 Therefore, send someone to Joppa and summon Simon, who is known as Peter. He is a guest in the home of Simon the tanner, located near the seacoast.’ 33 I sent for you right away, and you were kind enough to come. Now, here we are, gathered in the presence of God to listen to everything the Lord has directed you to say.”


Key Verse

God has shown me that I should never call a person impure or unclean. (Acts 10:28)

Some Thoughts
For the past twelve weeks we have been looking at how God calls different people, from Moses to Peter. Of all the lessons today’s may be the most timely and important for our age.

Peter finds himself in conflict between the Jewish law and the Holy Spirit. Peter was staying in the house of Simon the Tanner, a somewhat questionable place to stay because of Jewish law. Yet it is in this setting that Peter has the vision of the sheet coming down and filled with different beast and creatures, none of which would be fit for a good Jew to eat, but God told Peter  “Never consider unclean what God has made pure.”

This had to be a great new revelation to Peter.  It clears the way for what happens next.  A Gentile Roman Centurion was about to invite a devout a Jew into his home.  We do not know much about Cornelius, except what is shared by Luke. But, I have to wonder if there is a connection between Cornelius and the Centurion that Jesus encountered in the Gospel written by Luke, as recorded in chapter 7:9  “ When Jesus heard these words, he was  impressed with the centurion. He turned to the crowd following him and said, “I tell you, even in Israel I haven’t found faith like this.”  If it is not the same Centurion certainly the faith is the same.
It was important for Luke to share both stories, because in both cases a Gentile is used, and in both cases the faith of both are extraordinary.  I think it is the same soldier.  Imagine the boldness of faith displayed in both stories.

The lesson the Holy Spirit teaches Peter, is a great lesson for our day. When God created man in human form there was no black, white, yellow or red, just humankind. God sent His son to redeem mankind not just one or two races but all races. Until we can accept that, we are living outside of God’s will for mankind.

All of our lessons for this quarter are about being called, but more importantly we need to get to work after we are called. There are no drones in God’s workforce only worker bees. If God has called you to salvation, then He expects you to do your job, and continue to grow as Peter grew. Prayer is about listening, you cannot tell God anything He does not know. But if you let Him talk to you through the Holy Spirit, maybe you will hear your assignment.

My hymn for this week is “Where He Leads Me, I Will Follow"

Monday, August 14, 2017

Called to Preach Adult Sunday School Lesson

International Sunday School Lesson
For Sunday August 20, 201

Purpose: To recommit to God’s call to share the gospel

Bible Lesson: Acts 9:10-20

Background Scripture: Acts 9:1-31

Key Verse: Ananias went to the house. He placed his hands on Saul (Acts 9:17)

Acts 9:10-20 (CEB)
(10) In Damascus, there was a certain disciple named Ananias. The Lord spoke to him in a vision, “Ananias!
“He answered, “Yes, Lord.”

(11) The Lord instructed him, “Go to Judas’ house on Straight Street and ask for a man from Tarsus named Saul. He is praying. (12) In a vision he has seen a man named Ananias enter and put his hands on him to restore his sight.”

(13 Ananias countered, “Lord, I have heard many reports about this man. People say he has done horrible things to your holy people in Jerusalem. (14) He’s here with authority from the chief priests to arrest everyone who calls on your name.” (15) The Lord replied, “Go! This man is the agent I have chosen to carry my name before Gentiles, kings, and Israelites. (16) I will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name.”

(17) Ananias went to the house. He placed his hands on Saul and said, “Brother Saul, the Lord sent me—Jesus, who appeared to you on the way as you were coming here. He sent me so that you could see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” (18) Instantly, flakes fell from Saul’s eyes and he could see again. He got up and was baptized.

(19) After eating, he regained his strength. He stayed with the disciples in Damascus for several days. (20) Right away, he began to preach about Jesus in the synagogues. “He is God’s Son,” he declared.


Some Thoughts by  Burgess Walter

In these final four lessons this quarter we are looking at people that were called in the Book of Acts.  While most commentators call this the Book of “Acts of the Disciples”, it could better be called the “Acts of the Holy Spirit”.
Luke places a lot of emphasis on the way the Holy Spirit worked during this time of establishing the early church, more than any other Gospel writer.

What struck me as I read this account was how people in the background are used by God, for His plan to be accomplished. While Paul/Saul becomes the leading individual in the New Testament, it is those in the background that intrigue me.

Where would Paul be without the testimony he heard from Stephen? Or the hospitality of Judas? Ananias was a very devout Jew, but he was also a Christ follower. The early group of Christ or Jesus followers were mostly Jews. (Next week we will look at Peter and how he accepted the Gentiles into this group) The point being that most people are called, but the Holy Spirit, does a lot of background work to help them in responding to that call.

Would Saul become Paul without the Holy Spirit working in the life and testimony of Stephen? Or without the obedience of Judas and Ananias?  I know I would not be a Christian today without the obedience of an uncle that was willing to sacrifice his time to drag me and several others to all kinds of church services. Nor would a classmate of mine be a missionary without a Sunday School teacher that instilled the desire to do more with his life.

Very few of us accomplish anything on our own.  The amazing thing is that we are never fully aware of how God intervenes and uses others to minister and influence us to be more and do more. God’s plan is accomplished when we respond to His call, and others around us are also obedient to God’s call, urgings and their willingness to answer a similar call.  We may not be called to be the greatest Evangelist or writer of the New Testament.  Some are called to open their home to strangers, some are called to witness to those in need, But it takes all of them to fulfill God’s plan.

I do not know of many preachers that became preachers in isolation. Almost always there was a person of influence in their lives. That someone was listening to God and accepted his call to help, encouraged, or prayed for someone responding to that call on their life.

My hymn for this week is “Channels Only” which is what each of us are called to be.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Called to Break Down Barriers Adult Sunday School Lesson

International Sunday School Lesson
For Sunday August 13, 2017

Purpose: To grasp the importance of and commit to ministering to the marginalized

Bible Lesson: Acts 8:26-39

Background Scripture: Acts 8

Key Verse: Starting with that passage, Philip proclaimed the good news about Jesus to him. (Acts 8:35)

Acts 8:26-39 (CEB)
(26) An angel from the Lord spoke to Philip, “At noon, take the road that leads from Jerusalem to Gaza.” (This is a desert road.) (27) So, he did. Meanwhile, an Ethiopian man was on his way home from Jerusalem, where he had come to worship. He was a eunuch and an official responsible for the entire treasury of Candace. (Candace is the title given to the Ethiopian queen.) (28) He was reading the prophet Isaiah while sitting in his carriage. (29) The Spirit told Philip, “Approach this carriage and stay with it.”

(30) Running up to the carriage, Philip heard the man reading the prophet Isaiah. He asked, “Do you really understand what you are reading?”

(31) The man replied, “Without someone to guide me, how could I?” Then he invited Philip to climb up and sit with him. (32) This was the passage of scripture he was reading: Like a sheep he was led to the slaughter and like a lamb before its shearer is silent so he didn’t open his mouth.

(33) In his humiliation justice was taken away from him. Who can tell the story of his descendants, because his life was taken from the earth?

(34) The eunuch asked Philip, “Tell me, about whom does the prophet say this? Is he talking about himself or someone else?” (35) Starting with that passage, Philip proclaimed the good news about Jesus to him. (36) As they went down the road, they came to some water. The eunuch said, “Look! Water!
What would keep me from being baptized?” (38) He ordered that the carriage halt. Both Philip and the eunuch went down to the water, where Philip baptized him. (39) When they came up out of the water, the Lord’s Spirit suddenly took Philip away. The eunuch never saw him again but went on his way rejoicing.

Some Thoughts by Burgess Walter

This is our second lesson on being called in the New Testament. As we saw last week, a group of seven Greek disciples (deacons) had been appointed by the twelve to serve the Greek speaking community widows and others that were not being served by the Jewish community in the new church.

I find it very interesting that two of those appointed, not only served the Greek community within the church, but became some of its greatest and most influential members of this new church in Jerusalem and beyond. Remember it was Stephen’s words that Saul/Paul heard before he set out for Damascus.

Philip was so attuned to the Holy Spirit and he was so obedient, God could use him in an enormous way. Many scholars believe that Ethiopia was the first nation to declare itself Christian. We know from Solomon’s words; the Queen of Sheba had brought the Jewish faith to Ethiopia about a thousand years earlier.

Now this Eunuch, from the court of, the Queen of Ethiopia, is sought out by God and instructed and baptized by Philip. Undoubtedly, he returned to Ethiopia with a new understanding of the prophet Isaiah and what had happened in Jerusalem when Jesus was crucified.

There are many lessons we can learn from Philip and the Eunuch. From Philip, we learn the importance of listening to the Holy Spirit, and in obeying the commands given.  This was not the road Philip would normally choose, but it was the one god wanted him to travel.

In 1920, Robert Frost published his wonderful poem “The Road Not Taken,” which ends, “I shall be telling this with a sigh Somewhere ages and ages hence; Two roads diverged in a wood, and I— I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.” Life gives us the choice between two roads. One road leads to the ways of the world; one road leads to the kingdom of God. The latter route is the road less traveled. Philip chose to take the road less traveled, and it made all the difference. He trusted God; he went where God asked him to go and he did what God asked him to do. Moreover, because he was willing to take this road less traveled, God used him to make a major impact on the world.

The Eunuch also gives us a lesson in the importance of study and the openness to listen to the Holy Spirit who teaches us. The Eunuch was an outcast in the Jewish religion, he could not worship the God he loved in the temple, because he was forbidden to enter it.  It is easy to understand why he was reading from the prophet Isaiah. When he read Isaiah 56:3-7 he must have been encouraged:
(3 )Don’t let the immigrant who has joined with the Lord say,
   “The Lord will exclude me from the people.”
   And don’t let the eunuch say,
       “I’m just a dry tree.”
(4) The Lord says:
   To the eunuchs who keep my sabbaths,
   choose what I desire,
   and remain loyal to my covenant.
(5 )   In my temple and courts, I will give them
   a monument and a name better than sons and daughters.
   I will give to them an enduring name
   that won’t be removed.
(6) The immigrants who have joined me, [a]
   serving me and loving my name,[b] becoming my servants,[c]
   everyone who keeps the Sabbath without making it impure, Philip
   and those who hold fast to my covenant:
(7 )   I will bring them to my holy mountain,
   and bring them joy in my house of prayer.
   I will accept their entirely burned offerings and sacrifices on my altar.
   My house will be known as a house of prayer for all peoples


This Eunuch probably returned to Ethiopia full of new enthusiasm as well as a new understanding of the God he worshipped.

How open are you to God’s call in the form of the Holy Spirit on your life? It could be as simple as taking another road, or just going across the road. My hymn for this week is “Here I Am Lord.”



 

Monday, July 31, 2017

Called to Witness Adult Sunday School Lesson

International Sunday School Lesson
For Sunday August 6, 2017

Purpose: To assert the importance of establishing priorities in ministering to people with all kinds of needs

Bible Lesson: Acts 6:1-8

Background Scripture: Acts 1; 6; 7

Key Verse: Brothers and sisters, carefully choose seven well-respected men from among you. They must be well-respected and endowed by the Spirit with exceptional wisdom. We will put them in charge of this concern. (Acts 6:3)

Acts 6:1-8 (CEB)
(1) About that time, while the number of disciples continued to increase, a complaint arose. Greek-speaking disciples accused the Aramaic-speaking disciples because their widows were being overlooked in the daily food service. (2) The Twelve called a meeting of all the disciples and said, “It isn’t right for us to set aside proclamation of God’s word in order to serve tables. (3) Brothers and sisters, carefully choose seven well-respected men from among you. They must be well-respected and endowed by the Spirit with exceptional wisdom. We will put them in charge of this concern. (4) As for us, we will devote ourselves to prayer and the service of proclaiming the word.”

(5) This proposal pleased the entire community. They selected Stephen, a man endowed by the Holy Spirit with exceptional faith, Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolaus from Antioch, a convert to Judaism. (6) The community presented these seven to the apostles, who prayed and laid their hands on them. (7) God’s word continued to grow. The number of disciples in Jerusalem increased significantly. Even a large group of priests embraced the faith.

(8) Stephen, who stood out among the believers for the way God’s grace was at work in his life and for his exceptional endowment with divine power, was doing great wonders and signs among the people.


Some Thoughts by Burgess Walter

This week we begin a series of four lessons from the Book of Acts.  The Book of Acts is part of Luke’s (Luke-Acts) writings. Luke is the only non-Jew writer included in the New Testament.

Luke is straightforward in his writings that his audience is the Greco-Roman world. Luke appears to present a more compassionate gospel, focusing on the poor and disenfranchised. Luke does not spend much time talking about the old Jewish customs. Rather he points to a new type or religion that is a stand-alone, not part of the old Judaism religion, Jesus came to redeem the whole word, not just as the promised Jewish Messiah.

In our text, we find a typical problem found in every church, there are some that fall through the cracks and are not included in the mainstream ministry of the church. Whether this is because of social, economic, or outside the clique.

The difference is the action taken by the leaders of the Jerusalem. Once the problem was brought to their attention action was swift, and spirit led. The seven selected were all Greek or Roman origin. This group may have included many that had returned after the Diaspora and were attuned to the Greek or Roman world than the Jewish community.

The qualifications imposed by the disciples on the selection of this group is something for us to consider when we are looking for leaders within our own church. Please note while the disciples claimed they were busy teaching and preaching. This did not preclude the appointed seven from not only distributing the food but Stephen and Philip were noted preachers and evangelist in the community. Showing the importance of having spirit led leaders.

While the early church’s experiment with communal living was short lived, that type of government is doomed because it is not a sustainable situation. It failed in the first century and has failed every time it has been tried throughout history. However, that is no excuse for not providing for those that cannot provide for themselves. Also, our message should go forth.

My hymn for this week is “Make Me a Blessing”


 

Monday, July 24, 2017

Amos's Call Adult Sunday School Lesson

International Sunday School Lesson
For Sunday July 30, 2017

Purpose: To acknowledge that faithfully serving God often invites criticism from others

Bible Lesson: Amos 7:10-17

Background Scripture: Amos 7

Key Verses: Amos answered Amaziah, “I am not a prophet, nor am I a prophet’s son; but I am a shepherd, and a trimmer of sycamore trees. But the Lord took me from shepherding the flock, and the Lord said to me, ‘Go, prophesy to my people Israel.’” (Amos 7:14-15)

Amos 7:10-17 (CEB)
(10) Then Amaziah, the priest of Bethel, reported to Israel’s King Jeroboam, “Amos has plotted against you within the house of Israel. The land isn’t able to cope with everything that he is saying. (11) Amos has said, ‘Jeroboam will die by the sword, and Israel will be forced out of its land.’”

(12) Amaziah said to Amos, “You who see things, go, run away to the land of Judah, eat your bread there, and prophesy there; (13) but never again prophesy at Bethel, for it is the king’s holy place and his royal house.”

(14) Amos answered Amaziah, “I am not a prophet, nor am I a prophet’s son; but I am a shepherd, and a trimmer of sycamore trees. (15) But the Lord took me from shepherding the flock, and the Lord said to me, ‘Go, prophesy to my people Israel.’

(16) “Now then hear the Lord’s word. You say, ‘Don’t prophesy against Israel, and don’t preach against the house of Isaac.’ (17) “Therefore, the Lord proclaims: ‘Your wife will become a prostitute in the city, and your sons and your daughters will fall by the sword, and your land will be measured and divided up; you yourself will die in an unclean land, and Israel will surely be taken away from its land.’”


Some Thoughts by Burgess Walter

This is the last of five lessons in a unit entitled “Calling of Prophets.” We have learned about Moses, Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel, and today we will learn more about Amos.

First let me give a little tutorial.  There are two terms with which may not be familiar to you. Exegesis (ek-si-jee-sis) is defined as a critical explanation or interpretation of a biblical text. Exegesis seeks to be an objective attempt to determine the meaning and implication of the text. The other, even less familiar word is eisegesis (ahy-si-jee-sis). Eisegesis is the process of reading into the text our own presuppositions and biases.

Most of us are aware that America was founded on Christian based principles, but it was also established with a separation of Church and State.  Historically when that separation did not exist as in the Roman and other European countries there was a conflict of interest. Which is what lead to the new settlers coming to America.

At the time of Amos, approximately 750 B.C. there was a divided nation of Israel, Israel being the northern kingdom and Judah the southern kingdom. The king in the northern kingdom was Jeroboam II.  The southern kingdom was ruled by Uzziah at this time.

Amos lived in the southern kingdom of Judah, but was called by God to preach and prophecy in the northern kingdom of Israel. Amos was unique in that he was not a professional prophet nor even the son of a prophet. He had not received any formal training, he was a shepherd and farmer.

What Amos had to say in Bethel did not go over well with the King Jeroboam II or with the priest Amaziah.  After all things were pretty good in Israel, Assyria, which had been a threat to Israel and Judah for many years, was experiencing a period of decline with problems of its own. With it posing less of a threat, and Israel having to pay less to a foreign power, Abraham’s descendants could benefit greatly by engaging more freely in international trade. This was especially true for the northern kingdom of Israel.

However, God saw an injustice taking place, the poor were still poor and the wealthy were the only ones benefiting from this period of peace and prosperity. In addition, the Church leaders were also aligning with government of the north, hence Amaziah, the priest, comments to Amos.  

Which brings us to today’s problem in our own country.  Which side are we to be on, the church or the state?  Many things that the Church promotes is not popular with those that have no Christian understanding. The Church’s “Shall nots” come in conflict with the state's “rules and laws.”

Like Amos we may have to choose, the state or the church. Like Amos, our choice may be directly opposed to what is popular with the state.  Are we willing to face unhappy friends, neighbors or family for the sake of Christ?  No one wants to hear the truth about what might happen, we prefer the ostrich approach.

My hymn for this week is “God Bless America.”

Monday, July 17, 2017

Ezekiel's Call Adult Sunday School Lesson

International Sunday School Lesson 
For Sunday July 23, 2017 

Purpose: To depend on the teachings of Scripture for help in rising above seemingly insurmountable obstacles

Bible Lesson: Ezekiel 3:1-11

Background Scripture: Ezekiel 1–3

Key Verses: He said to me: Human one, listen closely, and take to heart every word I say to you. Then go to the exiles, to your people’s children. Whether they listen or not, speak to them and say: The Lord God proclaims! (Ezekiel 3:10-11)

Ezekiel 3:1-11 (CEB)
(1) Then he said to me: Human one, eat this thing that you’ve found. Eat this scroll and go, speak to the house of Israel. (2) So, I opened my mouth, and he fed me the scroll. (3) He said to me: Human one, feed your belly and fill your stomach with this scroll that I give you. So, I ate it, and in my mouth, it became as sweet as honey.

(4) Then he said to me: Human one, go! Go to the house of Israel and speak my words to them. (5) You aren’t being sent to a people whose language and speech are difficult and obscure but to the house of Israel. (6) No, not to many peoples who speak difficult and obscure languages, whose words you wouldn’t understand. If I did send you to them, they would listen to you. (7) But the house of Israel—they will refuse to listen to you because they refuse to listen to me. The whole house of Israel is hardheaded and hard-hearted too. (8) I’ve now hardened your face so that you can meet them head-on. (9) I’ve made your forehead like a diamond, harder than stone. Don’t be afraid of them or shrink away from them, because they are a household of rebels.

(10) He said to me: Human one, listen closely, and take to heart every word I say to you. (11) Then go to the exiles, to your people’s children. Whether they listen or not, speak to them and say: The Lord God proclaims!


Some Thoughts by Burgess Walter

This week’s lesson is the fourth in the unit “Calling of Prophets.” Last week, we took a brief look at the life of Jeremiah and his experience with God in the Temple where God called him to be a prophet. In this lesson, we will investigate the life of Ezekiel and focus on his call experience.

To put this lesson into a historical context as well as spiritual context we must try and understand the situation in which Ezekiel finds himself.   Ezekiel was both a priest and a prophet. As part of those taken into captivity by Nebuchadnezzar, he found himself in an unfamiliar setting. He was away from both Jerusalem and the temple.

The thinking at the time by most reasonable men was that the god they worshipped was the strongest and therefore the victor’s gods prevailed.

When Israel and Judah find themselves in a foreign land where gods other than Yahweh are worshipped they are confused. Adding to this is the fact that their worship has always been connected to both Jerusalem and the temple.  Now priest like Ezekiel must use other means to worship. Nothing in their lives seemed to point them to God.

This is the temptation of every believer when he is separated from the home and church of his youth, and they find themselves in a strange environment.  The sense of God’s power and presence, in fact of God’s reality, are apt to suffer.

In this environment Ezekiel is led to employ a new strategy for teaching. Remarkably his prophecy begins with a new and revitalized picture of God’s sovereignty.  In this new vision God is no longer in a temple in Jerusalem but reigns from a glorious throne and from the throne comes the voice of God. Thus, the basic facts of religion are born, God’s existence, his supreme sovereignty, his revelation, and his appointment of a prophet. 

God warned Ezekiel the message is not going to be received by the hearers, but God never guarantees success, he only asks for obedience. 
Jeremiah had prophesied that this captivity would last 70 years. While most would count this a problem, God used it to inspire the wise men in captivity to accumulate and copy all the text that had been written, and that becomes the Jewish bible as we know it.  All gathered in one scroll. Out of the captivity, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob,

becomes better known and His power through such men as Daniel, the three Hebrew children, Nehemiah, Ezra, and others is far greater than the gods of Babylon, Assyria or Persia.

My hymn for this week is “Wonderful Words of Life”

Monday, July 10, 2017

Jeremiah's Call and Commission Adult Sunday School Lesson

Uniform Adult Sunday School Lesson
For Sunday July 16, 2017

Purpose: To recognize that we can be reluctant and afraid when confronted with a divine challenge

Bible Lesson: Jeremiah 1:4-10

Background Scripture: Jeremiah 1

Key Verse: Don’t be afraid of them, because I’m with you to rescue you,” declares the Lord. (Jeremiah 1:8)

Jeremiah 1:4-10 (CEB)
(4) The Lord’s word came to me:
(5) “Before I created you in the womb I knew you; before you were born I set you apart; I made you a prophet to the nations.”
(6) “Ah, Lord God,” I said, “I don’t know how to speak because I’m only a child.”
(7) The Lord responded, “Don’t say, ‘I’m only a child.’ Where I send you, you must go; what I tell you, you must say.
(8) Don’t be afraid of them, because I’m with you to rescue you,” declares the Lord.
(9) Then the Lord stretched out his hand, touched my mouth, and said to me, “I’m putting my words in your mouth.
(10) This very day I appoint you over nations and empires, to dig up and pull down, to destroy and demolish, to build and plant.”


Some Thoughts by Burgess Walter

This week’s lesson is the third in a unit focusing on the calling of prophets. Today’s lesson examines the calling of Jeremiah and helps us deepen our understanding of how God calls people to mission and ministry.

We will learn, or at least be reminded, that being reluctant and afraid when God calls us to carry out his mission is no disqualification for service. As with the two previous lessons in this unit, it will help us appreciate the calling of Jeremiah if we have at least a minimal understanding of his historical context.

The prophet began his career during the reign of Josiah, around 626 B.C. (about 116 years after the call of Isaiah)  King Josiah is famous in Jewish history for his religious reforms, including an attempt to align the national policies of Judah with his concept of the Mosaic covenant.

Jeremiah was primarily a prophet to the nation of Judah, sometimes called the southern kingdom. The northern nation of Israel had already been conquered. Jeremiah served under four different kings of Judah. Josiah, Jehoahaz, Jehoiakim and Jehoiachin. When Jehoiakim was king, he cut up and burned Jeremiah's first scroll. (36:20-26) So what we are reading today is a rewrite of the original.

In God’s call to Jeremiah, God promises to be with and rescue Jeremiah. However, Jeremiah faces a lot of resistance. Jeremiah, at one point, is arrested and placed in a cistern.  His words are found very offensive by other so-called prophets, who taught a more loving God would never allow Judah to be taken into captivity by the Babylonians. Verse 19:9 NKJV says “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; Who can know it?

In 1:16 God says, “I will declare my judgment against them for doing evil: for abandoning me, worshipping other gods, and trusting in the works of their hands.” Then in 31:31 “The time is coming, declares the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the people of Israel and Judah.” This new covenant is found in Mathew 26:28 “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many so that their sins may be forgiven.”

While our lesson is about Jeremiah’s call, we should not forget that all Christ followers are called by Jesus in the Great Commission. Mathew 28:19  “Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, (20)  teaching them to obey everything that I’ve commanded you. Look, I myself will be with you every day until the end of this present age.”

Thankfully God has the authority and the right to pronounce both judgement and salvation. Our call is to share His teachings and persuade them to seek repentance and be restored by the New Covenant.  If we do that, we have the assurance that God will be with us. Knowing our hope is not in fame or fortune, but an eternal life with the creator, redeemer.

My hymn for this week is “My Faith Has Found a Resting Place.”


Monday, July 3, 2017

Isaiah in the Temple Adult Sunday School Lesson

Uniform Adult Sunday School Lesson
For Sunday July 9, 2017

Purpose: To realize that unexpected circumstances can lead us into new opportunities to serve God

Bible Lesson: Isaiah 6:1-8

Background Scripture: Isaiah 6

Key Verse: Then I heard the Lord’s voice saying, “Whom should I send, and who will go for us?” I said, “I’m here; send me.” (Isaiah 6:8)

Isaiah 6:1-8 (CEB)
(1) In the year of King Uzziah’s death, I saw the Lord sitting on a high and exalted throne, the edges of his robe filling the temple. (2) Winged creatures were stationed around him. Each had six wings: with two they veiled their faces, with two their feet, and with two they flew about.

(3) They shouted to each other, saying: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of heavenly forces! All the earth is filled with God’s glory!”

(4) The doorframe shook at the sound of their shouting, and the house was filled with smoke.

(5) I said, “Mourn for me; I’m ruined! I’m a man with unclean lips, and I live among a people with unclean lips. Yet I’ve seen the king, the Lord of heavenly forces!”

(6) Then one of the winged creatures flew to me, holding a glowing coal that he had taken from the altar with tongs. (7) He touched my mouth and said, “See, this has touched your lips. Your guilt has departed, and your sin is removed.”

(8) Then I heard the Lord’s voice saying, “Whom should I send, and who will go for us?” I said, “I’m here; send me.”


Some Thoughts by Burgess Walter

I learned a long time ago that you should be careful of what you complain about to God. If a problem has been brought to your attention and you complain, don’t be surprised if God ask you to fix it.

That is sort of the case with Isaiah, he was unhappy with the way people were acting and he realized he might be part of the problem.

When we compare ourselves to other mortals, it is easy to come to the wrong conclusion, that we might be better than most. God on the other hand does not compare us to other mortals. His standard is much higher. God’s holiness is so far above anything we can comprehend it is impossible for us to fathom.

Isaiah uses the most outrageous things he can, to come up with his description of a holy God.  The Hebrew language has no way to express a superlative except by repetition. To say “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord” is to declare that God is very, very, very holy.

The year of King Uzziah’s death is 742 B.C. The vision takes place in the temple in Jerusalem. Unlike the role of priest in the Jewish faith, there is no ordination for a prophet. Anyone can declare themselves a prophet, they are judged on their accuracy.

Politically the nation of Judah is headed down a slippery slope. In trying to save their kingdom, they had made alliances with Egypt and paid tribute to Assyria. They sought a political solution when God just wanted them to repent and serve Him only. Maybe it was because of Isaiah's preaching that Jerusalem was spared as long as it was. Only an intervention, by an angel of God, was Jerusalem saved in 701 B.C. (You can read that story in 2 Kings 19:35)

While our lesson focuses on the call of Isaiah, God’s act of salvation should not be overlooked. Isaiah’s cleansing comes as a divine initiative. Isaiah is made worthy to perform God’s work by the act of the “winged creature.” Isaiah was purified for service after he confessed his unclean lips were not worthy, along with rest of Judah.

God may not call you through an ordained office, He may just ask you to confess and go, God will always provide the purification if we confess. Whether it is called Salvation, Justification, or Sanctification it only happens when we confess our uncleanness and say, “I’m here; send me.”  Only when we compare ourselves to a Holy God do we see our own flaws.

My hymn for this week is “Holy, Holy, Holy.”


Monday, June 26, 2017

Moses and the Burning Bush Adult Sunday School Lesson

Uniform Adult Sunday School Lesson
For Sunday July 2, 2017

Purpose: To recognize God’s presence as we partner with God to correct injustice

Bible Lesson: Exodus 3:1-12

Background Scripture: Exodus 3

Key Verses: "Now the Israelites’ cries of injustice have reached me. I’ve seen just how much the Egyptians have oppressed them. So, get going. I’m sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people, the Israelites, out of Egypt.” (Exodus 3:9-10)

Exodus 3:1-12 (CEB)
(1) Moses was taking care of the flock for his father-in-law Jethro, Midian’s priest. He led his flock out to the edge of the desert, and he came to God’s mountain called Horeb. (2) The Lord’s messenger appeared to him in a flame of fire in the middle of a bush. Moses saw that the bush was in flames, but it didn’t burn up. (3) Then Moses said to himself, let me check out this amazing sight and find out why the bush isn’t burning up.

(4) When the Lord saw that he was coming to look, God called to him out of the bush, “Moses, Moses!”
Moses said, “I’m here.”

(5) Then the Lord said, “Don’t come any closer! Take off your sandals, because you are standing on holy ground.” (6) He continued, “I am the God of your father, Abraham’s God, Isaac’s God, and Jacob’s God.” Moses hid his face because he was afraid to look at God. (7) Then the Lord said, “I’ve clearly seen my people oppressed in Egypt. I’ve heard their cry of injustice because of their slave masters. I know about their pain. (8) I’ve come down to rescue them from the Egyptians in order to take them out of that land and bring them to a good and broad land, a land that’s full of milk and honey, a place where the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites all live. (9) Now the Israelites’ cries of injustice have reached me. I’ve seen just how much the Egyptians have oppressed them. (10) So, get going. I’m sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people, the Israelites, out of Egypt.”

(11) But Moses said to God, “Who am I to go to Pharaoh and to bring the Israelites out of Egypt?” (12) God said, “I’ll be with you. And this will show you that I’m the one who sent you. After you bring the people out of Egypt, you will come back here and worship God on this mountain.”

Some Thoughts by Burgess Walter

For the past four weeks, we have looked at those that were, “Called To Be Strong.”  This week we begin a new unit entitled “Calling of Prophets” and examine the calls of Moses, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Amos. This week’s lesson examines Moses’ experience with God on Mount Horeb.

As usual a little background is needed to put today’s lesson into the historical setting. Briefly explained, God called Abraham, and a promise was made. Abraham’s grandson was Jacob, Jacob had twelve sons, one of which was Joseph, Joseph was sold into slavery in Egypt. Joseph becomes second in command of all of Egypt. A great famine happens, and Joseph in his mercy, brings his father and brothers to Egypt to survive the famine.

The call of Moses takes place approximately 215 years after Joseph was in charge in Egypt.  In Exodus 1:8 we find these sad words, “Now a new king came to power in Egypt who didn’t know Joseph.”  That brings you up to date historically. Assuming you know about Moses’s story up to the point he was chased out of Egypt for killing an Egyptian.  Moses was raised and educated in the house of Pharaoh, he was a prince, prior to killing an Egyptian. Moses goes into the Sinai desert to escape punishment and marries the daughter of Jethro. Jethro was a righteous man and puts Moses in charge of his herd.

That is where our text for this week begins. Moses has plenty of time to contemplate while tending to Jethro’s herd.

God considers Moses the most qualified person to go back into Egypt and bring out the Israelites, that were slaves to the Egyptians.  Moses was qualified both politically and education wise to approach Pharaoh. He did have a speech problem that God would take care of. But most importantly God promised to be with him. God also promised that they would meet again on this very mountain, assuring Moses he would survive whatever the Egyptians might try.

After the death of Joseph, and the new Pharaohs came into power, the Israelites had become a very important work force for the rulers of Egypt. As they were treated worse and worse they cried out to God about their circumstances.  Verse 9 says, “Now the Israelites’ cries of injustice have reached me.”

A couple of things have taken place, the Israelites had multiplied and the Egyptians loved to have slaves. Like us, they cried out to God for deliverance. It may not be on our, time schedule or how we would do it, but we can always count on God to deliver. The promise to Abraham goes back 400 years, but God comes through.

My hymn for this week is “God Lead His Dear Children Along.”