“Return to Me”

“Return UNTO ME… THEN SHALT THOU NOT REMOVE.” Jeremiah 4:1

There is something to be said about being in the safety of the arms of the one you love. It’s a hold that fiercely embraces you, daring one to step between. In it, you not only find love but you feel the truth of all this person’s emotions toward you. You are secured. You are established. Nothing can tear you away from the warmth and protection you feel at this moment.

And yet, as most movies and books go, there comes the drama. In the drama comes the reason for departure. The part of the story that makes you wonder, “Will they ever be united again? Will they ever really know how one another feels?” It’s a typical storyline, but I must admit I never tire of it.

In those stories, not until the two parties separate do they realize just how much they needed the other. All of a sudden, the love they felt for one another reignites and in a desperate attempt to save the relationship, somehow, someway, they run back to the safety of each other’s arms where they can rebuild upon the love that was once felt.

Can I tell you something? God has never fallen out of love with you! As a matter of fact, He has done everything possible to try to keep you safely in His arms where He can take care of you and love on you. Yet, and still, the drama unfolds that leads the heart of man away to run after their own pursuits. What then of the love that God felt for you? It’s still there!

His love has never left just because we did. His love has never stopped embracing even when we didn’t return the embrace. His love has always been on fire for you and me, even when we tried to extinguish it. His love never quits seeking reconciliation because He wants us with Him!

This was the truth that He was trying to get across through the prophet Jeremiah. Jeremiah’s job was to relate to the people of Israel God’s undying passion for them. He tried to convince them that the drama of going their own way wasn’t worth it. Life would be so much better if they would stay where love could keep them and care for them. But, unfortunately, as mankind does, they thought they knew what was best. Love was not on their mind at that moment. As most stories play out, they couldn’t see past what they thought they wanted.

Yet, God is still pleading through the mouth of the prophet, “Return to Me.” If this were a movie, after witnessing the passionate plea for one to come back, to stay in my arms forever, there would not be a dry eye in the house. But, this is what God is doing! He is crying out to His people to not turn away, “DON’T GO! COME BACK! PLEASE, COME BACK!”

As the movies go, so did it with Israel. The pleas go unanswered. He has no choice but to let His loved ones go, hoping that one day they will come to their senses and return. To make a long story short, Israel had to be let go for several decades before they would come to truly appreciate the love that God has for them. Don’t let the same be said of us today.

God is still waiting with opened arms. If we have not held on as tightly as we should – return. If some other thing or person has attracted our desires more – return. If we have turned a deaf ear to the pleas of love – return. If we have refused the grace of His embrace – run back and return to those arms of love.

God promises when you wholeheartedly return to Him and put away all that other stuff that is not like Him, “then shalt thou not remove.”   Why? Because now you are safely snuggled where you belong. You are in the place of promise and His promise is this, “But the Lord is faithful, who shall stablish you, and keep you from evil,” (2 Thessalonians 3:3). Faithful, established, and guarded – wow! That’s what He does for the one who stays in His arms of love.

God is crying out. Don’t let those cries go unanswered. Return today!

Photo: Pixabay/Free-Photos

Sunday School Lesson – “A Sheep or a Goat?” Matthew 25:31-46

Photo: Pixabay/Zahaoha

VERSE DISCOVERY: Matthew 25:31-46 (KJV, Public Domain)

Much of our culture is self-seeking and gives evidence to a heart that is far from the heart of God.  And, as time goes by it seems to infect more and more like a disease that won’t be snuffed out.  But snuff it is what God is asking for as we raise for ourselves flags of surrender to be waved in service for Him toward others.  That we give up of us and pour out all for Him; that we show the world a thing or two about true love; true appreciation to a Savior who poured out all for us.

The Bible tells us, “In all things shewing thyself a pattern of good works…” (Titus 2:7).  It’s time for a new pattern to be laid.  The foundation of self must dissipate, and new groundwork needs to be found on who He is the head of our life and all that He has already done.  It’s time to show the world a different lifestyle.

The Bible assures us, “That they do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate; laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life,” (1 Timothy 6:18-19).  In that, we see that our service toward one another matters and what we do or do not do for others on behalf of our Lord  – the impact of it can even show up in our eternal reward or eternal punishment.

In this lesson, Jesus teaches the difference between the two.  He shows His disciples the difference of being classified as a sheep or a goat.

 When the Son of Man Comes

Matthew 25:31-33 “When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left

Today’s lesson is known to be a part of The Olivet Discourse which begins at Matthew 24:1. Throughout this “discourse,” Jesus is telling or prophesying of times to come.  He even foretold of the destruction of the temple which would occur in A.D. 70 (see Matthew 24:1-2).

I absolutely love how this portion of the discourse begins with the word “when.”  Not “if,” but “when.”  And the “when” that is being referenced is the second coming of Jesus Christ.

Jesus is coming back!  Point blank.  And, one’s eternity is measured by how they lived on earth.

A large part of biblical preaching and teaching is focusing on and preparing people for the return of Christ that they might reign with Him when He comes.

When some look down through the pages of history, they don’t see the chain of events that ushered in the plan of salvation for mankind.  They believe or don’t believe based off what they see with their natural eyes and their short-sighted minds and/or ideas. They don’t see the promise of the good to come that God has already laid up for our futures. They don’t see the fulfilling prophecies that brought God’s kingdom closer to man.  When they look down through history all they see is a normal course of events.  They don’t see this beautiful, epic love story where God tries to woo mankind back to Himself.

But, rest assured, there is a future after this and Jesus says “when” the time comes, this is what’s going to happen.  The events that He speaks of are truths that are still unfolding.  We haven’t seen it all yet, but it’s coming.

The Bible reassures us, “For the Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness,” (2 Peter 3:9a).  We are also told, “For the vision is yet for an appointed time, but at the end it shall speak, and not lie: though it tarry, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry,” (Habakkuk 2:3).

Know this, every word of God, for good or bad, for happy or sad, for those who believe or for those who don’t believe, will come to pass!  For right now He is withholding His hand of judgment so that as many people as possible can be saved.  For us and everyone out there, there is hope for salvation.  God’s waiting won’t add to the demise of people as in the.  Rather, His “longsuffering” is because He is “not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance,” (2 Peter 3:9b).  Will all come and accept a relationship with God through Jesus Christ?  No.  But God loves mankind so much that He wants to get as many people as possible out of the waters of sin that seek to drown them for all eternity.

And, although He has held off, eventually, judgment will come.  2 Peter 3:10 says, “But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night…”

Here, in this lesson, we see we have a King, and the King is coming back.  A time of judgment takes place; a division from those who believe and those who don’t believe; from those who are considered righteous and those who are called cursed: the sheep and the goats, if you will.

“When” this takes place, our lesson tells us “the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory.”  Daniel paints a very similar picture to the one Jesus is describing.  He writes, “I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him.  And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed,” (Daniel 7:13-14).    

Here, we see Jesus obtained His dominion and declaring His reign in these verses and was found sitting “upon the throne of his glory.”  Have you ever read a story when a king rides up in battle with his armies, obtains the victory and sits down on the throne declaring his rule?  This is the picture that comes to my mind when I read this verse.  Jesus, the King of all kings, comes with His entourage of angels; His armies of heavenly hosts and sits in His place of honor where He will rule and reign forever into eternity.

He is that prophesied “righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth,” (Jeremiah 23:5; emphasis mine); and here it can be said, “Let the judging commence.”

“Before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats.”  When He does return, as already stated, a judgment will commence, and this judgment should be taken seriously for in it those living for Christ will be blessed and those who are not shall be condemned.

Here, He is gathering “all nations,” meaning no one on the face of this earth will be exempt from this judgment.  Everyone will be examined, and everyone will be separated “as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats” according to how He classifies them.  Psalm 4:3 lets us know, “That the LORD hath set apart him that is godly for himself…”

We see here, those who are classified as being “sheep” are placed “on his right hand.”  Repeatedly in the Bible, we see the phrase “at the right hand” is used.  For example, in the Old Testament, God said, “Fear not… I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness,” (Isaiah 41:10; emphasis mine).  And, in the New Testament Hebrews 12:2 says, “Looking unto Jesus the author and the finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God,” (emphasis mine).

The “right hand” is a special place.  It gives the idea that those on the right are in a more honored and favored position than others.

The opposite occurred for those who are considered “goats” for they were placed “on the left.”  In the following verses, we will really see the impact of what being in those opposite positions means.

To the Sheep He Says…

Matthew 25:34-40 “Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me. Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.”

First, the “King” addresses those “on his right hand.”  With that, He calls them, “Blessed of my Father” and pronounces that they will “inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.”

In John 14:3 Jesus stated before His death, “And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.”  Here, we see the “King” has come back as promised and is now speaking directly to those have become inheritors of that prepared kingdom; to those that He is receiving to Himself.

Their service gave proof/evidence of the faith they claimed they possessed causing them to think outside of the box of their own little world into that of others who have needs.  But let us remember, we are not saved by our works, but our works prove to whom we belong.  “Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone,” (James 2:17; read vss. 14-18).

Jesus gave the reason they were in their favored position: on a human level, they acted as He would in their care and concern for the “brethren.”  To do this means their faith was put into action, and that manifested itself through service, despite the cost to their personal being.

In another portion of Scripture Jesus said, “He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal.  If any man serve me, let him follow me; and where I am, there shall also my servant be: if any man serve me, him will my Father honour,” (John 12: 25-26; emphasis mine).  Here, we see them receiving that honor as the “blessed of my Father.”

Basically, payday has come, if you want to call it that.  Just as in a natural job, so it is in the spirit.  Those who work good works will be rewarded.  That’s why Hebrews 13:16 tells us, “But to do good and to communicate forget not: for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.”  God is pleased when we offer our lives in service and the doing of good works.  Colossians 3:23-24 supports this by telling us, “And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ” (emphasis mine).  There is a reward at the end of the services we offer on behalf of the Lord.

The “sheep” know what it is to put their faith into action and make a difference in the world around them.  Faith is not silent.  Faith is full of action.  Faith is alive.  Faith is shared through works to testify of its genuineness and sincerity.  Faith does more than move mountains; if it is lived out in the lives of the men and women of God, it can move hearts toward salvation!

When one is living a life of faith people should be able to look at their life, their actions, as signs of accreditation that we belong to God.  They should be able to tell by how we operate and carry ourselves through our display of service, that we live what we talk.

James, in his book, wrote, “If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit?” (James 2:15-16).

James saw the emptiness in just words alone.  Speaking “peace” without lifting a finger to physically help satisfy the present need, to him it was not true faith.  True faith believes and then allows that belief to be put to work.  True faith has heavenly aspirations that work out to show good on earth.  So, he asked, “What doth it profit” without it?  What is each of us doing now that is benefiting his fellow man and the kingdom of heaven?

Words without supplying to the physical, emotional or spiritual comfort of another in distress are what these two verses speak of.  But, all too often, how many times have we heard or spoken of what should be done to help others without putting in some work to help society move toward that goal?

Jesus gave props to those who stepped in to help others.  James mentioned two issues that Jesus also stated: naked and food, giving further verification of the call to help one another in need.

Jesus said to those who helped the “hungred… thirsty… stranger… naked… sick… prisoner,” it was as if they were helping Him.  Their care for their fellow man matters in the eyes of heaven.  They supplied for and filled needs wherever it showed up and were blessed because of it.

The “sheep” didn’t understand when they ever saw Jesus in the needs described and gave aide to Him.  But, “the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” 

Treat people like you would treat Jesus.  Wow!

Again, let us remember, we are not saved by works: “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is a gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast,” (Ephesians 2:8-9).  Rather, works give proof to the living faith on the inside: “Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone,” (James 2:17).

To the Goats He Says…

Matthew 25:41-46 “Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not. Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee? Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me. And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.”

Now it’s time to turn our attention to those on the “left;” “the goats.”  These are spoken to and receive the opposite of the sheep because what they did, or in this case, did not do, was the opposite.

Instead of a reward of inheritance of a prepared kingdom, they were condemned to “everlasting punishment;” a place of “everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels.”   Instead of being called “blessed” and “righteous,” they were marked as being “cursed.”

Jesus presented the same scenarios to the left residents that He did to those on the right and in each instance the words “no” or “not” stands out.  They were given the same chances and opportunities to help and make a difference, but they refused.  This is contrary to kingdom living.  That’s not who Jesus is or what He’s all about.  Them that want to be where He is should be as He is.

Does this remind us of somebody?  Remember the story of Lazarus and the rich man (Luke 16:19-31).  Both the “goats” and the “rich man” had the opportunity to help but were not moved with compassion to do so.  Both received the same end.  Here, we already stated above what the goats received.  In the case of the rich man the Bible tells us, “In hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments…” (Luke 16:23).

To reiterate the blessings of those who choose to selflessly serve others, Jesus affirms that the righteous will go “into life eternal.”  Awesome!

How one treats and serves people, or not, has an everlasting impact, for reward or punishment.

PDF Printable Sunday School Lesson Pack (With easy to read instructions following the P.E.A.R.L. format on how to conduct each lesson with areas for adding personal notes): Sunday School Lesson – A Sheep or a Goat

Suggested  Activities:

Draw the Scene: A Sheep or a Goat Draw the Scene

Activity Sheet: A Sheep or a Goat Activity Sheet

Memory Verse: A Sheep or a Goat Memory Verse

Kid’s Journal Page: Kid’s Journal Page – A Sheep or a Goat

Adult Journal Page: Adult Journal Page – A Sheep or a Goat

Word Search: A Sheep or a Goat Word Search  Answers: A Sheep or a Goat Word Search Answers

Crossword: A Sheep or a Goat Crossword  Answers: A Sheep or a Goat Crossword Answers

Word Scramble: A Sheep or a Goat Word Scramble  Answers: A Sheep or a Goat Word Scramble Answers

“Unto the Least of These” (Many activities including some for group participation and coloring page for younger students.  Enjoy!)

“The Sheep and Goats Coloring Page” (Older students)

“The Parable of the Sheep (and the Goats)” (Games, activities and even self-portraits with a twist.  A lovely idea.  Enjoy!)

“Sheep or Goats?” (Activities, group ideas, and more.  Enjoy!)

“Game: Sheep and Goats”

“Parable of the Sheep and the Goats Coloring Page”

“Retelling the Story of the Sheep and Goat with Felt” (What an interesting way to tell this popular story for little ones to understand and enjoy.)

“Sheep Storytime” (Here is a cute, little adorable, stand alone sheep that your students can make to accompany this week’s lesson.  Enjoy!)

“How to Draw a Goat” (Though we really want to focus on being sheep, your older students may enjoy to learn how to draw a goat, step by step.  This could be a great reminder of what not to be.  Enjoy!)

“I Can Follow Jesus by Helping Others Coloring Sheet”

“The Spiritual Discipline of Serving”

 

“God fights for His people, and He wins!”

Here’s a little encouragement for your day: “God fights for His people, and He wins!”  I don’t know what battle you are in or the seemingly impossible situation you may be facing, but our God is a victorious God.  He has never failed and He has never lost a battle.  And, He won’t start now.  “There is no wisdom or understanding or counsel against the LORD.  The horse is prepared for the day of battle, but deliverance is of the LORD,” (Proverbs 21:30-31, NKJV).

God’s track record doesn’t have marks on it to say that He wasn’t able to accomplish this task or that.  As a matter of fact, the Bible states that He is, “able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us,” (Ephesians 3:20).  What that means is the very thing you are praying for; the very struggle you are contending with is nothing for God to handle.  He can do that and more!

Sometimes I don’t think we really understand the scope of God’s power and strength.  Our God is mighty!  Oh, we are used to quoting it and singing about it but do we really understand the strength behind it.  For instance, when Elisha and the city he was in were faced with a multitude of warriors on horses and chariots, he was not moved.  In fact, he told his servant, “Fear not: for they that be with us are more than they that be with them,” (2 Kings 6:16).  After that, he prayed, “LORD, I pray thee, open his eyes, that he may see.  And the LORD opened the eyes of the young man; and he saw: and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha,” (2 Kings 6:17).

There is no might that can stand against God’s might.  There is no earthly or spiritual force that can contend with His awesomeness.  God is surrounding His people even when we don’t see it.  God is fighting for His people even when we don’t feel it.  God is defending His people even when it looks like all odds are against us.  Nothing can hold God back from victory.  Nothing can stand in the way of the will He wants to accomplish in your life.

God is an enemy defeater (Deuteronomy 23:14).  When He rises, the enemies scatter (Numbers 10:35).  He said in Jeremiah, “Behold, I am the LORD, the God of all flesh: is there any thing too hard for me?” (32:27).  Your battle is not too much for God to handle.  He has fought wars for His people down through the ages and He still stands as our defender and our confidence, today.   

I pray, that our eyes of faith be opened today, that we see Him as Elisha did.  With hearts of faith, that we see our God standing and fighting for the cause of His people.  God has not left us to battle in this world alone.  “The LORD thy God in the midst of thee is mighty; he will save, he will rejoice over thee with joy; he will rest in his love, he will joy over thee with singing,” (Zephaniah 3:17).

Even if it doesn’t seem to be coming together as we may envision, hold on to hope.  God may have something else in mind.  At the same time, remember you are not in this alone.  You do have a defender who has never lost, but wins!

More encouraging verses and quotes:

“The LORD shall fight for you, and ye shall hold your peace.” Exodus 14:14

“But be not thou far from me, O LORD: O my strength, haste thee to help me.” Psalm 22:19

“Who is this King of glory? The LORD strong and mighty, the LORD mighty in battle.” Psalm 24:8

“Great is our Lord, and of great power: his understanding is infinite.” Psalm 147:5

“When a man has no strength, if he leans on God, he becomes powerful.” D.L. Moody

“God will always be there with us and give us the strength to meet the difficulties of life.” Wendell E. Mettey

 

“Joy to the World – He Came!”

 

“Joy to the world, the Lord is come!
Let earth receive her King;
Let every heart prepare Him room,
And heaven and nature sing,
And heaven and nature sing,
And heaven, and heaven, and nature sing.” (Isaac Watts)

Christmastime, as they say, is the most wonderful time of the year. Christmastime often brings with it sweet thoughts and times of reminiscing with loved ones over the years past.  There’s a celebration of joy in the atmosphere that isn’t felt as prominently during other times of the year.

But, I’m here to tell you that Christmastime is so much more than an emotional response to a holiday and family.  It’s more than the gathering of sweet fellowship and food.

Christmastime is a declaration of all God has wanted to do for mankind since the time He created him.  It’s the time we celebrate God’s love on display in holy determination to have that relationship with man that He so desired.

Christmastime is a celebration of the healing.  There was a rift that was torn by sin between God and man – now it comes together in an era of reconciliation and peace.

Isaiah prophesies of the means by which God ushers this in.  He said, “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counseller, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace,” (Isaiah 9:6).  This is the very foundation of the Christmas story.  Matthew picks it up and tells us in the New Testament,” And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins,” (1:21). Mankind had fallen short of the glory of God, but this little baby had an assignment on His life to save people from their sins!

The Christmas story tells us that He is the fulfilled prophesy that states, “Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel,” (Isaiah 7:14). We see that come to pass in Matthew 1:23 which states He shall be called “Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.”

Down forty-two generations He traveled (Matthew 1:1-17) to be with us. That’s why the carols ring out, “Veiled in flesh the God-head see; Hail the incarnate Deity, Pleased as man with men to dwell, Jesus, our Emmanuel,” (Hark! The Harold Angels Sing – Charles Wesley). He was that “Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth,” (John 1:14).

That’s why Luke lets us know, “He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end,” (Luke 1:32-33).

This is what the Christmas story is all about. Joy to the world – He came!

The Bible declares, “And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn,” (Luke 2:7). He was shunned by the world with no one to care other than Mary and Joseph. Nonetheless, He came!

The angels proclaimed that night, “For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord,” (Luke 2:11). The deliverance of all mankind made His way into the world. God’s plan of salvation broke through the flesh of humanity to rescue in the Spirit.

Joy to the world – He came!

God incarnate manifested Himself in the humility of man. He stepped off His throne in glory to dwell with a sinner like me. He pulled off His royal attire to associate with the filthy dregs of this life.

Joy to the world – He came!

Christmastime we celebrate His birth; we rejoice in His coming. But, that’s not the end of the Christmas story.

He came once so that He could come back again.  The first time He came He was encapsulated in His mother’s womb, riding on a donkey toward Bethlehem to be born. But, the true end of the Christmas story is the next time you see Him, He won’t be that same baby from the womb riding with His mama on a donkey.  He’ll be standing in the air riding the clouds of heaven.

The first time He came He was wrapped in swaddling clothes. The next time you see Him, He will stand before you as the King who broke free from the grave clothes that tried to bind Him, gaining the victory over the grave; gaining the victory over sin and death.

The first time He came only a few lowly shepherds and a few little wise men came to honor Him and pay tribute to the miracle that occurred on that night. The next time you see Him, “Every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father,” (Philippians 2:10-11).  That same baby they ignored.  That same baby they refused to find room for, their mouths are going to open and declare that HE IS LORD!

We celebrate the Christmas story as the ultimate gift of God’s love toward humanity. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life,” (John 3:16).

But, the Christmas story is more than the celebration that He came. It stands as a reminder every year that if He came once as He said He would, then He’s coming back – just like He said He would!

We love this time of year. There’s no greater feeling than the fellowship and gifts of love shared.  But, once the gifts are unwrapped and once the food is eaten and people return to their homes; let the Christmas story remind you, the King came once, and the King will return once again.

Pope Francis is quoted as saying, “God never gives someone a gift they are not capable of receiving. If he gives us the gift of Christmas, it is because we all have the ability to understand and receive it.”

In preparation of His return, I must ask, “Have you received His gift?”

Joy to the World – He came. And, He’s coming back again. That’s the true end of the Christmas story.

Have a Merry Christmas Everyone!!!!

Photo: Pixabay/Annalise1988

Sunday School Lesson – “Jesus’ Birth” Luke 2:8-20

VERSE DISCOVERY: Luke 2:8-20 (KJV, Public Domain)

Is there any time of the year that’s more special or rings with more sentiments than Christmas?  It stands out as iconic since the days of our youth.  It’s a time of year that’s separated from the rest.  Despite one’s belief, there is always a different feeling in the atmosphere during this time of the year.  People seem to be kinder and more patient with one another.  Many feel charitable and look at his fellow man with a more compassionate heart during this season.  This time of the year; this moment of celebration affects all.

Many are very familiar with the backdrop of this lesson.   Caesar Augustus had issued a decree for all the world to be taxed (Luke 2:1).  From there, families were to report to the place of their lineage to be accounted for.  Lineage played a key role in so many aspects of the Bible.  Even when it came time to “tax,” people had to line up and file in at the place of their birth or where their family hailed from.  One’s bloodline, one’s tribe were factors in their inheritance, land rights and so on.  These are matters that those who seek to tax would be greatly interested in.

Augustus thought in and of himself that he was responsible for sending families back to their “own city;” back to the place where their ancestors were from. When, in actuality, God was using him to line up everything according to His holy prophecies that were spoken through the years.  This is why, though to our eye’s times may seem troubling and hard to understand, yet we never know what God is doing behind the scenes.  The people may not understand the need to be forced into travel to undergo taxing, but God was lining them up for their greatest deliverance yet!

Joseph and Mary were not exempt and were forced, despite being far along in her pregnancy, to travel the approximately 90-mile journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem to participate in the taxing process.

While she was there it became time for her to deliver her firstborn child.  Luke 2:6-7 states, “And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.  And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.”

It is here we pick up in today’s lesson where the role of the shepherds came into play.  They show us the birth of our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, is not just a passing event.  Rather, it is a reason to stop and celebrate God and give Him all the glory that is due to His holy name.

Angelic Announcement to the Shepherds

Luke 2:8-9 “And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.  And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.”

“Shepherds” were considered some of the lowest of people during the Bible era.  Men who spent their time with animals roaming the fields to find pasture for their flocks.  Yet, on this night they were the first chosen to hear of this good news.  They were elevated above kings to receive the birth announcement of the King of kings.

Can you imagine being in that field on that night then suddenly light shining from what seems to nowhere appear with a glorious siting of “the angel of the Lord?”  In an era of no electricity, with only the light from the fire they sat around (if they were lucky enough to have one), an illumination of greater proportion appeared and made them “sore afraid.”  I think it’s safe to say, if it were me, I would have been just as “afraid” as they were.  It’s not an everyday occurrence to see the power of the Lord manifested in the siting of one of His “angels.” Who knows why he was here.  “Angels” have been long known as messengers from the Lord and here this one appears with the greatest revelation of all time; one that the “shepherds” are privileged to hear first.

Luke 2:10-12 “And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which shall be to all people.  For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.  And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.”

In an effort to alleviate any trepidation the shepherds were feeling with encountering God’s angel, he spoke to them words that were meant to bring comfort and assurance.  He said, “Fear not” (a greeting that is meant to calm).

The appearance of these heavenly messengers can be a little much to take in.  When the one angel sat upon the stone that was rolled away from Jesus’ tomb the Bible tells us, “His countenance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow: And for fear of him the keepers did shake, and became as dead men,” (Matthew 28:3-4).  One would need a certain measure of comfort in the presence of these awesome creatures.

“Behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which shall be to all people.”  Here, the lowliest of the low; the shepherds that others despise and reject as not being noteworthy, receive the good news that “shall be to all people;” themselves included.

“For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.”  The message is, that long-awaited day has finally arrived!  The Jews felt the oppression of enemies for years.  They have listened to the prophecies passed down from generation to generation that spoke, “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace,” (Is. 9:6).  He that was spoken of has arrived in this lowly place, to a lowly people, to save them and be their Messiah.

The news could not get any better than this.  I imagine eyes misting over and a lonely tear streaking down the weather-worn cheek of these men to whom the angel spoke.  Oh, the joy of it all on that holy night!

“And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.”  So that no misrepresentation and no doubt can reside in the mind of these shepherds, the angel described in great detail who and what they should expect to find.  Just as our introduction described is how they would find this blessed “babe” when they came upon Him.  Surely, with the scene matching up with the description given upon their arrival to see the “babe” they would absolutely know that He is their “Saviour.”

Luke 2:13-14 “And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.”

As if the appearance of one angel with an awesome message wasn’t enough to seal the deal of belief with these shepherds, “a multitude of the heavenly host” appeared.  It was as if heaven could not hold back its rejoicing over the birth of the Savior.  Heaven peaked through into the earthly realm and these shepherds got to see them “get their praise on” as we would call it today.

They were saying, “Glory to God in the highest!”  I don’t think the words do the moment justice.  Yes, they were ascribing “glory to God” but I believe there was a tingling in the atmosphere that can’t be replicated with words.  I believe there was a charge of elation mixed with the power of God’s presence radiating through these “heavenly host” that can’t be described.  A time and place like no other that only these lowly shepherds got to witness on this holy night.  Awesome!

“And on earth peace.”  Sin has destroyed humanity’s “peace” with God.  The beloved creature that He formed and placed in the Garden of Eden; that He loved and treasured as His own, was now corrupt and subject to perish without holy intervention.  Romans 5:12 tells us, “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned.”  Because of that, “peace” and reconciliation needed to be restored.

Romans 5:18 encourages us and says, “Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life.”  “Gifts” are major for most this time of the year.  But, on this holy night, God gave the best “free gift” that would annihilate the effects of sin that destroyed the “peace” He intended for His creation.  Now, the “heavenly host” are rejoicing because they know the significance of this birth for all of humanity and the “earth.”  Through the “free gift” of His Son, God is showing the ultimate “good will toward men.”

Hasting to See the Babe

Luke 2:15-17 “And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.  And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.  And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child.”

“Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass.”  After the angels disappeared, the shepherds wasted no time in making up their mind to see “this thing which is come to pass.”  “Come to pass” means it has already happened.  They were speaking in terms of belief.  They hadn’t seen the “babe” as of yet, but through the words and rejoicing of the angels they believed that “which the Lord hath made known.”

What an awesome revelation both literally and nonliterally!  God showed up and showed out and sent His message, the birth announcement of His Son, to a field whose occupants seemed to the rest of the world counted unworthy.  With their newfound knowledge, they wasted no time in seeing with their own eyes that which was revealed to them so much so that the Bible tells us “they came with haste.”  Excitement propelled them forward and they “found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe” just as it was spoken to them.

“And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child.”  They may have been the lowliest in the eyes of society.  They may have been counted out of many cliques and circles, but these dirt covered, smelled like the field and animals’ men became the first evangelist of the Lord Jesus Christ.  God had revealed something awesome to them.  Then, they saw the manifestation of it with their own eyes.  Their hearts were then burdened to make it “known abroad,” the same revelation that they received “concerning this child.”

Mary’s Pondering Heart

Luke 2:18-20 “And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds.  But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.  And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.”

“All they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds.”  The reaction of the people that heard the message of the shepherds was reactions of “wonder.”  They were simply amazed and in awe over the shepherds and the message they carried.  I believe that this type of “wonder” didn’t have any questioning to it.  Rather, they were just completely taken aback over the news and the excitement of the shepherds.

How a message is delivered also bears an impact on how the message is received by the hearers and judging by the enthusiasm of these lowly shepherds on that night, many had to be filled with total astonishment.  If the news could be believed, then the greatest miracle to ever be imposed on mankind has finally taken place; an extraordinary event like no other.  No wonder the shepherds couldn’t help but tell and express all they witnessed on this night.  The people had to see and feel that this news was a remarkable and outstanding experience.

“But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.”  A mother’s heart works differently toward her child.  She’s the one to whom the angel showed up out of the blue one day and delivered the message that she would carry the Son of God in her own womb.  She’s the one who dealt with being ostracized and mistreated by those who thought the worse of her.  She’s the one that bore the babe in her womb for nine months dealing with all that comes with it.  She’s the one who lay up in a stable, if you will, and pushed forth this new, special life into the world.  Now, these shepherds show up and declare the glorious.  They show up and pay special attention and respect to her Son.  She holds in all in her “heart” and mind.

Surely, during this time her mind had to travel back to the day Gabriel approached her and told her, “The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God,” (Luke 1:35).  Thinking back to then and comparing the scene unfolding before her now must have given her pause to stop and consider all that has transpired (compare Luke 2:51).

What must have been going through her mind at the time, one can only imagine.  But, there in her “heart,” she held it all.  The moments; the memories; the miracle that she has been a part of – there in her “heart,” the wonder of it all rests.

“And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.”  The “shepherds,” who were previously known for their care of the flocks, were now known for their praise.  When a miracle occurs on this level one can’t help but let a praise flow from their innermost being.  It should be a natural occurrence that when God blesses you to see a manifestation of His promise come to pass, praise should issue forth like an unstoppable river flow.

They “heard and seen” some amazing things on this night.  Things that many will never ever get to experience; things we can only read about and have faith in – they were eyewitnesses to it all!  They, with their own eyes and ears, physically saw our Lord Jesus Christ as a babe lying in a manger.  How AWESOME is that?!  The revelation given to them of the angel assured them that this was no ordinary babe.  The King of all heaven and earth lay before them.  They can’t keep that praise in!  They glorify God!  God is worthy!

They didn’t “return” the same way they left.  What they witnessed was too extraordinary to go back to life as usual.  They now had a praise that would not stop; one that had to be expressed to the fullest that God get the glory He deserves over this magnificent event.  Hallelujah!!!

PDF Printable Sunday School Lesson Pack (With easy to read instructions following the P.E.A.R.L. format on how to conduct each lesson with areas for adding personal notes): Sunday School Lesson – Jesus’ Birth

Suggested Activities:

Adult Journal Page: Adult Journal Page – My favorite part of the Christmas Story

Kid’s Journal Page: Kids Journal Page – My favorite part of the Christmas story

Draw the Scene: Jesus’ Birth Draw the Scene

Wordsearch: Jesus’ Birth Wordsearch  Answers: Jesus’ Birth Wordsearch Answers

Crossword: Jesus’ Birth Crossword  Answers: Jesus’ Birth Crossword Answers

Memory Verse: Jesus’ Birth Memory Verse

Baby Jesus Best Gift Craft: BABY JESUS GIFT CRAFT_2 (This craft will remind students of God’s best gift He gave us in Jesus Christ.  Enjoy!) – Use this PDF link for accurate printing. Simply print out, color, and cut.  Cut construction paper in half.  Glue tab for gift box and attach.  Next, glue baby Jesus under the gift box and close.  Last, attach the “God’s Best Gift!” label with glue.  And, there you have it.  When students open the “gift box” they can view God’s best gift: Jesus Christ. 

 

 

“The Babe of Bethlehem”

“And they said unto him, In Bethlehem of Judaea: for thus it is written by the prophet,  And thou Bethlehem, in the land of Juda, art not the least among the princes of Juda: for out of thee shall come a Governor, that shall rule my people Israel.” Matthew 2:5-6

At the writing of Matthew 2:5-6, over 700 years have gone by since the Old Testament prophet Micah told of a Ruler that would be birthed out of this little town of Bethlehem (Micah 5:2-3).  While over those centuries of waiting, countless babies have entered this world and linked the beginning of their lives to this motherland, only One’s heritage can connect the dots with those long ago words that herald the coming of the Savior of the world.

He would be the freedom the world has longingly yearned for.  He would be the peace, souls since the beginning of time, have dreamt about.  He would be the Shepherd who would not lead with a rod or a staff, but with His life.  This blessed Babe of Bethlehem would be the all eternal One, whose days are from everlasting (Micah 5:).  He would be the Babe seen as He “who is, and who was, and which is to come, the Almighty,” (Revelation 1:8), and He would change everything the world once knew.

No wonder hearts were stirred.  No wonder souls were searching with excitement.  No wonder kingdoms were in a ruckus.  The Babe of Bethlehem was no ordinary babe.  He was God incarnate, God in the flesh, “God with us,” (Matthew 1:23).  The imperfect people born in this world would need the help of that perfect Savior born in Bethlehem.

The celebration of Christmas is the celebration of that precious Babe who had finally arrived in the world to bring this long-awaited hope.  He that was born as the prophesied Messiah would lift the judgment of condemnation for those who not only seek Him, but find Him.  And, they are no longer content to have Him wrapped in swaddling clothes, but their soul’s desire is to wrap Him in their hearts.

Photo Credit: Pixabay

 

Sunday School Lesson – “Mary’s Song” Luke 1:39-56

VERSE DISCOVERY: Luke 1:39-56 (KJV, Public Domain)

The news that Mary received that she would be the carrier of God’s plan of salvation was phenomenal, to say the least.  One could even say that it all may have been a bit overwhelming.   After all, this would be the actual Son of God in her body and the angel Gabriel told her some pretty awesome stuff concerning Him.  Upon hearing it all and taking it in – she accepted the calling of God on her life and yielded, literally, her body as a sacrifice.

Still, one can imagine questions rolling around in her mind.  If our minds get blown away at the little special stuff God does for us here and there, I can’t help but think Mary may have been a little taken aback of the whole scene before her and the future that lay up ahead.

Despite it all, Luke 1:38 tells us she acquiesced to the hand and plan of God and spoke, “Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word.”

Not once did she ever ask for a sign but as the scene of today’s lesson unfolds God gives her one.  Miraculously and mysteriously God peels back what people could not have known except by divine revelation and confirms not only the promise to her but His plan of salvation to the world.

 Elisabeth’s Confirming Praise

Luke 1:39-40 “And Mary arose in those days, and went into the hill country with haste, into a city of Juda; And entered into the house of Zacharias, and saluted Elisabeth.”

These verses pick up immediately after the angel Gabriel departed from speaking with Mary God’s plans and promise for her life, and the life of the Child she was to carry.

But, before his departure, he encouraged Mary, noting, “For with God nothing shall be impossible,” (Luke 1:37) after telling Mary, “Behold, thy cousin Elisabeth, she hath also conceived a son in her old age: and this is the sixth month with her, who was called barren,” (Luke 1:36).  I can only imagine after all that was said and done, she remembered these blessed words and “arose in those days, and went into the hill country with haste, into a city of Juda.” 

Perhaps it was one of those “I just have to see Elisabeth” moments after all she heard.  Regardless of the reason, we do know that it was with “haste” that she was compelled to go.  Immediately, without hesitation, she wanted to be where Elisabeth was.  God was doing an unexpected thing in her life and she possibly wanted to connect with the other name Gabriel gave her in relation to this great miracle.

So…, long ago, in a hill far away, Mary went.  It almost reads like a fairy tale, but the story herein is very true and worthy to be learned and appreciated for the intricacies of details God weaves through their lives and the history of our salvation as well to bring about His promise for mankind.

“And entered into the house of Zacharias, and saluted Elisabeth.”  Upon arriving at her destination at the house where Elisabeth dwelt with her now mute husband, Zacharias, Mary entered and greeted her according to custom.

Luke 1:41-45 “And it came to pass, that, when Elisabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and Elisabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost: And she spake out with a loud voice, and said, Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb.  And whence is this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?  For, lo, as soon as the voice of thy salutation sounded in mine ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy.  And blessed is she that believed: for there shall be a performance of those things which were told her from the Lord.”

The words of Mary’s greeting aren’t recorded, but the response by Elisabeth and what happens after is.  “When Elisabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb.”  When Mary’s greeting reached the ears of her cousin God phenomenally made His way known during what seemed to be a very normal and customary interaction between two people.

Something moved in Elisabeth at the hearing of the voice of Mary; and not just the baby inside of her (Although as noted in the lesson he “leaped” and reacted to hearing her voice as well.  See note below).  Mary’s voice connected with her innermost being by the moving of God’s Spirit, hence we see her at this very time being “filled with the Holy Ghost.” 

Please Note: Babies in a womb have an amazing connection to their own mother’s voice and maybe even dads.  But, rarely will they react in such a strong way to a voice they have never heard.  This makes the baby’s reaction all the more powerful and a reason to take note.  The baby, later to be known as John the Baptist, was filled with the Holy Ghost at this time fulfilling a promise as well (see Luke 1:15).  God used an unborn child to spiritually testify of the work He was doing.  Awesome!

Can I give you something to try to associate this feeling with?  Imagine someone knocking on your door one day to give you the best news possible.  Maybe you are one of those famous sweepstakes winners and all your financial needs would be forever taken care of.  Or, perhaps someone announced that you are a long-lost relative of someone who has left you an extraordinary inheritance.  Maybe that knock brings a lost love home again for which the joy felt can’t be measured in dollars and cents.  Any one of these events would practically leave us in joyful tears and simply awestruck at what is happening.  I can imagine the same “I can’t believe it!” joy being felt by Elisabeth at the sounding of sweet Mary’s voice.

Mary and Elisabeth were no longer just cousins of the flesh, but they were sisters in the Spirit because God was working mightily through both.

Continuing to be moved by the Spirit of God, Elisabeth’s voice rang out in exuberant praise, declaring, “Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb.”  When Gabriel appeared to Mary, he too used words like “highly favoured” and called her “blessed” (Luke 1:28).  Her life would become extraordinarily different from women everywhere and in every era.  There wasn’t then, and would never be, another woman like her in the entire world or the world’s history who was called to do what she did.  She was “blessed.”  And Elisabeth’s declaration: “blessed is the fruit of thy womb,” (even though Mary was nowhere near showing at this time to give the outward appearance of pregnancy) means that she [Elisabeth] was speaking directly in reference to the miracle that God has performed in her [Mary’s] life.

In an age where instant notifications, emails, text, Facebook, and the like didn’t exist, as quickly as these events unfolded there appears to be no prior knowledge of Mary’s pregnant condition before the infilling of the Holy Ghost.  God revealed this to Elisabeth and Elisabeth sang out in praise declaring how special she [Mary] is because of the babe [the fruit of the womb] that is inside of her.

Still a little awestruck at the greatness of all that is transpiring before her, Elisabeth continues, saying, “Whence is this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?”  Immediately, without any questioning of detail or such, she knew that Mary was the “mother of my Lord.”  What a declaration for Mary to hear!  In the very near future, when word got out about her pregnancy, she would hear, I’m sure what I assume to be a myriad of hateful and hurtful remarks.  But for now, I can imagine Mary letting Elisabeth’s words wrap around her as a warm hug confirming what God is doing in her life.

Elisabeth goes on to tell Mary of the reaction her own babe had at the hearing of her voice: “Lo, as soon as the voice of thy salutation sounded in mine ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy.”  Inspired by the Spirit of God, Elisabeth not only felt the baby physically leap but inwardly she knew the reason was for “joy.”  The forerunner of Christ was already getting happy and testifying to the greatness that was to come through Him.

Ringing out these Holy Ghost inspired words, Elisabeth continues to say, “Blessed is she that believes.”  That’s a powerful statement.  It not only testifies to Mary’s confident acceptance of what God was doing through her, but it also shows how much faith must play a key role in anything God calls anyone to do.  Hebrews 11:1 reminds us, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”  One’s faith is important for without it we are told it is impossible to please God (see Hebrews 11:6).  As scary as this situation was for Mary, she got on board with God’s plan without knowing everything that would unfold in her future.

Because of that, “there shall be a performance of those things which were told her from the Lord.”  Mary accepted in faith, and Elisabeth declared that God was moving on her behalf.  God has never failed to follow through with His promises.  He speaks them.  Here it is confirmed.  And, it shall come to pass.  Other areas of the Bible remind us of this great truth, saying, “For I am the LORD: I will speak, and the word that I shall speak shall come to pass…” (Ezekiel 12:25; see also Psalm 111:7).

In response, Mary’s soul joins in with rejoicing!

Mary’s Song of Rejoicing

Luke 1:46-47 “And Mary said, My soul doth magnify the Lord, And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour.”

“My soul doth magnify the Lord.”  What God revealed to her through Gabriel and confirmed through Elisabeth is nothing short of AWESOME!  It goes beyond the concept of human thinking and understanding and takes you to a realm of the way He thinks and operates.  It beckons one to step out into the unknown with a life and a heart of total trust.

How else is Mary to respond except to say, “My soul doth magnify the Lord?”  God was about a great work (as He always is).  For centuries they have longed for the promise of the Messiah to be fulfilled.  Generations have laid up their hopes in store for this great day.  Mary’s soul can’t help it but praise God.  She knew before anyone else that God was ready to do a great kingdom shift.  She is rejoicing because that time is finally at hand for the long-awaited promise to come to pass and she is to be personally involved.

Thus, she was moved to “magnify the Lord.”  We use the word “magnify” to mean to enlarge.  We can’t make God bigger than He already is.  1 Kings 8:27 declare, “The heaven of heavens cannot contain thee.”  But we can exalt and praise Him – we can lift His name up at the joy of what He is doing in the lives of His people.  We can make our praise of Him grow and grow until it affects the lives of those around us.  Through our worship, we can’t help but to enlarge His territory and gain back spiritual ground in the lives of those who witness what God is doing in us.

When was the last time that you can honestly say, “My soul doth magnify the Lord?”  When was the last time you felt a shift in your spirit to move into the realm of praise over the greatness of God in your life?  Mary was at her cousin’s house when she busted out with this hymn of rejoicing.  You can feel the Spirit of God move you to worship anywhere!  You don’t have to wait until Sunday morning service!  Let your soul “magnify” Him now!  That’s why she continued, and said, “My spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour.”

“God my Saviour.”  This is all about Him and what He is doing.  Man cannot save himself.  Man does not have the means to secure permanent deliverance from sin for himself.  Try as he might, it just won’t work.

But, God…

Her people were under the tyranny of Herod and whoever else decided to put their hands in the pot of affliction over them.  Worse than that, despite laws and sacrifices, the tyranny of sin still permeated the world and had mankind shackled in its bonds.

But, God…

Mary can “rejoice!”  There is hope for her.  There is hope for her people.  There is hope for the world.  “God my Saviour” is ready to let loose His plan of deliverance once and for all!  Titus 3:4-5a says, “But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared, Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us…” Rejoice!  “God my Saviour” had and has a plan to “save us!”

Luke 1:48-50 “For he hath regarded the low estate of his handmaiden: for, behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed.  For he that is mighty hath done to me great things; and holy is his name.  And his mercy is on them that fear him from generation to generation.”

“For he hath regarded the low estate of his handmaiden.”  Who are you to those who see you every day?  Are you known as mom or dad, sister or brother?  Are you just that church member who sits on the end of pew five from the front?  Or, are you just that neighbor down the street?  Who are you to those at work or to those who see you drop off the kids at school?  How do people identify you?  Are you just a passing thought to most or do people “regard” you?  Do people take notice of you and your life?

Mary, when she woke up that morning before Gabriel spoke to her, she just saw herself as Mary; nothing more, nothing less.  She was just one in a group of young women who lived in her town of Nazareth.  Yet, the whole time God “regarded” her.  God had His eyes on her for something bigger and better in life and she didn’t even know it.  “He hath regarded the low estate of his handmaiden.”  In a spirit of humility, she may have viewed herself as nobody and her humble surroundings would suggest it as well, but she was somebody God paid attention to.

“From henceforth all generations shall call me blessed.”  God is big on remembering those who submit in obedience to His will and allow themselves to be used by Him.  “He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him,” (Heb. 11:6).  Jesus told His disciples one day after Mary (not the Mary from today’s lesson) anoints Him with the oil from the alabaster box, “Wheresoever this gospel shall be preached throughout the whole world, this also that she hath done shall be spoken of for a memorial of her.”  People are going to remember her.

With the Mary of today’s lesson, the one that would bear the Son of God, people are going to do more than just remember her, they “shall call me blessed.”  She will forever be linked to the greatest miracle God has ever done and considered “blessed” to be a part of it.

“For he that is mighty hath done to me great things; and holy is his name.”  How often has God moved in the life of one to bless and bring about “great things” to only have them take credit for it or attribute it to another?  Mary didn’t do that.  She recognized that God is the “mighty” One and He was the One that was performing these “great things” in her life.  1 Samuel reminds us, “For them that honour me I will honour,” (2:30).  She honored God and attributed glory to His name for His mighty hand in her life.

“Holy is his name.”  Mary is rolling out this beautiful hymn of what God is doing and in the middle, she takes as we call it today, a praise break!  At least, this is how I viewed it J!  God has overwhelmed her in such a good way and it’s like she can’t help but stop and declare, “Holy is his name!”

God is unique in who He is and in the way He does things.  After God delivered the children of Israel from Pharaoh and his chariots at the Red Sea, Moses and the children of Israel sang a song, Exodus 15:1.  In that song, they also recognized the holiness of God.  They sang, “Who is like unto thee, O LORD, among the gods? who is like thee, glorious in holiness, fearful in praises, doing wonders?” (15:11).  This is the same heart of song that Mary rejoices with in today’s lesson when she pronounces “Holy is his name!”  Psalm 99:3 declares, “Let them praise thy great and terrible name; for it is holy.”

When God moves in your life; when God does the impossible if, at no other time, one ought to especially then recognize His holiness, His power, His uniqueness in it all and praise Him for it!

“And his mercy is on them that fear him from generation to generation.”  I have a lot of favorite psalms but by far one of my top favorites is Psalm 118.  This is one I cling to and often go back to for times when I need encouragement.  It starts off giving a brief history of the goodness of God in the life of His people because “his mercy endureth forever.”  Then, this beautiful psalm moves to an even more beautiful declaration of God’s promises for those who put their trust in Him.  There is not a verse in this Psalm that I don’t like.  It even ends with another, “For his mercy endureth for ever,” (Ps. 118:29).

Mary recognized God’s hand of mercy over “them that fear him from generation to generation.”  Psalm 103:17 tells us, “But the mercy of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting upon them that fear him, and his righteousness unto children’s children.”  Both verses express the unending mercy of God.

God promised David through Nathan the prophet, speaking of his descendants, saying, “I will be his father, and he shall be my son.  If he commit iniquity, I will chasten him with the road of men, and with the stripes of the children of men: But my mercy shall not depart away from him, as I took it from Saul, whom I put away before thee,” (2 Sam. 7:14-15).

Mary saw God’s promise to David and that His mercy was still at work to “them that fear him.”  Proverbs 1:7 says, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge,” (see also Pro. 9:10-11).  Time did not erase the promises of God.  Though they have waited, and at times the wait may have made it seem the Messiah wasn’t coming, God’s mercy was working it out from “generation to generation.”

Luke 1:51-53 “He hath shewed strength with his arm; he hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts.  He hath put down the mighty from their seats, and exalted them of low degree.  He hath filled the hungry with good things; and the rich he hath sent empty away.”

“He hath shewed strength with his arm.”  When God has a plan, He shows up in the full strength of His power to accomplish it.  God is omnipotent.  There is nothing that He can’t do.  There is none who can subdue or usurp His power.  That’s why we are encouraged to, “Seek the LORD and his strength, seek his face continually,” (1 Chron. 16:11), because God’s strength is unmatched in power and authority.

In His strength, He “scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts… he put down the mighty from their seats… the rich he hath sent empty away.”  He made them broke, busted and disgusted!  Those that should have had no lack; those that should have been top of their game; God humbled them and removed them.  Why?  Because they lived in reliance on their own power and ability.  They lived a life of pride; a life in opposition to God.  Therefore, “God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.” (James 4:6).

God flips the script and He “exalted them of low degree” and “He hath filled the hungry with good things…”   God lifts up and blesses the lowly of this world such as His people Israel.  “Though the LORD be high, yet hath he respect unto the lowly,” (Ps. 138:6).  It was the lowly, the unassuming and the unexpected course that God would use to usher in the reign of the Messiah.  From the choosing of a young woman from Nazareth to His lowly birth and being “laid… in a manager,” (Lk. 2:7); all was done without pomp and circumstance to bring forth the Savior of the world.

Luke 1:54-55 “He hath holpen his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy; As he spake to our fathers, to Abraham, and to his seed for ever.”

“He hath holpen his servant Israel.”  God has been a constant source for His people “Israel.”  They were a people of promise.  They were a people who would be an example to other nations (Deut. 4:6-8).  They were a people through whom we would be blessed also.  “And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed,” (Gal. 3:8, see also Luke 1:55 (today’s lesson); Gen. 12:3).  He remembered “his mercy” despite their failings and short-comings.  God has helped Israel and stood by Israel’s side for them to be the people they were called to be.

Luke 1:56 “And Mary abode with her about three months, and returned to her own house.”

Mary, we are assuming, stayed with Elisabeth up until the time of her giving birth to John.  Gabriel came to her in the sixth month (Luke 1:26), and here we are told she “abode with her about three months” which would equal out to the normal time for pregnancy to be completed.  Then, she “returned to her own house.”  After which, verse 57 (not in today’s lesson), tells us of the birth of John.

PDF Printable Sunday School Lesson Pack (With easy to read instructions following the P.E.A.R.L. format on how to conduct each lesson with areas for adding personal notes): Sunday School Lesson – Mary’s Song

Suggested Activities:

Adult Journal Page: Adult Journal Page – Mary’s Song

Kid’s Journal Page: Kid’s Journal Page – Mary’s Song

Blank Journal Pages to fill in for your own ideas: 2 journal pages

Coloring Page: Mary’s Song Coloring Page

Memory Verse: Mary’s Song Memory Verse

Word Search: Mary’s Song Word Search  Answers: Mary’s Song Word Search Answers

Crossword: Mary’s Song Crossword  Answers: Mary’s Song Crossword Answers

Word Scramble: Mary’s Song Word Scramble  Answers: Mary’s Song Word Scramble Answers

Craft Idea: This time of the year we are doing a lot of singing right along with Mary.  We are magnifying God in the Christmas songs that we sing.  What better way to Magnify God than to sing of the birth of His Son.  Children can put together their own personal songbooks filled with the blessed melodies of the season.  A great addition to that would be to put together candle crafts that they may hold while singing to the glory of God.  The ideas are limitless in helping our students worship during this Christmas season.

Sunday School Lesson – “The Branch and His Reign of Peace” Isaiah 11:1-10

Photo: Pixabay

VERSE DISCOVERY: Isaiah 11:1-10 (KJV, Public Domain)

The current situation of our culture and world is far removed from the idyllic picture of peace the prophet Isaiah foretold of in the verses covering the latter part of this lesson.  Just turning on the news in the morning spouts stories of evil, hatred, gossip, destruction, and lives torn apart due to the ravages of sin in this world.

Have you ever wondered what life would be like if it were different?  What if we lived in a time when peace prevailed and our relationship with God was uninterrupted by sin?  There once was a time like that.  It was during the period of innocence with Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden.

As we are continually dealing with the evils around us today, you too may have wondered for a time when the world knew nothing but the peace of God.  The good news is we have a renewal and restoration of such a time coming in our future.  For the people of God, one day we will be introduced to a world devoid of the hatred and sin we have become so accustomed to when our Savior, the prophesied Branch, comes back and takes His reign.

In the chapter before today’s text, where people are hearing such words as “Oh Assyrian, the rod of mine anger, and the staff in their hand is mine indignation,” Isaiah 10:5, there needed to be a measure of hope for the people to look forward to.  When God’s warnings go unheeded, He does what He must do to direct the hearts of sinful people back to Him.  God then sends them a promise of a remnant (Isaiah 10:20-23) and tells them, “Be not afraid of the Assyrian: he shall smite thee with a rod, and shall lift up his staff against thee . . .” (Isaiah 10:24).  It was going to get rough for the people and they would suffer punishment, but the promise was still up ahead for something so much more wonderful.

Have no fear, for those same instruments He uses, He will judge due to their own pride (see Isaiah 10:15-16; 33-34).  “He shall cut down the thickets of the forest with iron, and Lebanon shall fall by a mighty one,” (Isaiah 10:34).  But, for God’s people there is the promise of new growth that will arise and be a beacon of hope, ushering in peace unimaginable.

Isaiah then paints a beautiful picture for them and us to hold onto in chapter 11 (today’s text).  This world and all its trappings, fighting, and sin will not have the final say.  What’s up ahead is so much more glorious.  Just wait for the return of the Branch at His reign.

 The Branch

Isaiah 11:1-2 “And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots: And the spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD;”

Isaiah, the first of the Major Prophets and the author of this book, is known and called by many today as “the eagle eye prophet” for his ability to foresee the birth of Christ some 700 years before it occurred. Though much of his ministry was filled with rebuke and warnings to God’s people over their wicked ways, he was also able to encourage them through what the Lord allowed him to see in their future.

Some of the visions he saw went even beyond the birth of Christ into His future reign at His second coming.  This is magnificent when you think about it.  This prophet was allowed to see the first and second coming of our Savior King.  And, what he saw in correlation to the second coming was mind-blowing.  For those who are tired of the troubles of this world, there is a greater story up ahead and it starts with a glimpse of the past.

“And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots.”  This verse and those following we identify as the Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ.  As many Bible students are aware, Jesse is the father of King David.  Why is that significant?  The fact is God gave David a promise through the prophet Nathan saying, “Thine house and thy kingdom shall be established for ever before thee: thy throne shall be established for ever,” (2 Samuel 7:16).

Although David and his descendants died and passed off the scene and saw corruption, there would still be a sprout that will grow from the roots of this family to secure that seat on that throne that shall be established forever.  There will be one who springs up from this royal lineage that will not see corruption, but rather reign forever (Acts 13:37).  And, His name is Jesus.

Of Him it was spoken of, “He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David:  And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end,” (Luke 1:32-33).  From before the beginning to the end of His life Jesus was fulfilling the promise of this forever kingdom rule.  He is that prophesied rod and Branch Isaiah foretells of.

If you have ever cut back some plants and placed them in water and tend to them, they begin to grow roots and sprout new life to them.  A new and better life has always been God’s desire for His people which is why it was so important that they learn about this promised Branch and cleave to the hope of peace found in Him.  Prophesying of this Branch was not only something Isaiah foretold of but Jeremiah as well.

Jeremiah 23:5, supporting the imagery found in Isaiah, also prophesies of Christ as the Branch from David: “Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth,” (see also Isaiah 4:2; Jeremiah 33:17).

One more note on our Branch description of Jesus to solidify He is the fulfiller of these prophesies.  After His birth, His parents had to flee Bethlehem for fear of Him being killed by Herod.  This landed them in Egypt.  When it was time for Him to be safely returned to the area, God spoke to Joseph in a dream instructing him on what to do next.  In Matthew 2:23 these directions led them to Nazareth.  This was very important because as it reads: “And he came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, He shall be called a Nazarene.”  That word “Nazarene” is “nezer” or “netzer” in Hebrew which means “branch.”  The Bible could not be any clearer on who this true Branch is: Jesus Christ.

“And the spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him.”  The Branch is full of God’s Spirit.  When John the Baptist baptized Jesus it was evident that this was the Son of God by a sign that was given him. John 1:32-34 says, “And John bare record, saying, I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it abode upon him.  And I knew him not: but he that sent me to baptize with water, the same said unto me, Upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending, remaining on him, the same is he which baptizeth with the Holy Ghost.  And I saw, and bare record that this is the Son of God.”

PLEASE NOTE: Jesus did not “get” the Spirit at the time of His baptism.  Jesus has always been fully God, meaning, fully endowed with the Spirit, and fully man at the same time.

Anything done for God must be done through the Spirit.  Isaiah 42:1 also shows and prophesies, “I have put my spirit upon him: he shall bring forth judgment unto the Gentiles.”  Here in today’s text, we see He is empowered by the same Spirit authoritatively, justly, and perfectly to function in areas where normal man is limited by the finiteness of his humanity.  He will have “the spirit of wisdom and understanding . . . counsel and might . . . knowledge and of the fear of the LORD.” 

These functions allow Him to be the ultimate righteous judge we see figured in the next few verses.

PLEASE NOTE: When Jesus began His earthly ministry, He quoted from Isaiah 61:1-2 which begins with the words, “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me…”, and declared the same prophecy spoken therein was speaking of Him (see Luke 4:17-19).

Isaiah 11:3-5 “And shall make him of quick understanding in the fear of the LORD: and he shall not judge after the sight of his eyes, neither reprove after the hearing of his ears: But with righteousness shall he judge the poor, and reprove with equity for the meek of the earth: and he shall smite the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked.  And righteousness shall be the girdle of his loins, and faithfulness the girdle of his reins.”

The term “quick understanding in the fear of the LORD” simply means He justly and obediently operates and follow’s His life course to please the heavenly Father.  His life is as an aromatic offering of Himself.

“He shall not judge after the sight of his eyes, neither reprove after the hearing of his ears.”  One of the strongest things that condemn or acquit a person in our judicial system is evidence; the stuff that people see and hear that prove a case or not.  We rely on this in order to have fair and unbiased proceedings.  But, what if a situation comes where the evidence is just circumstantial and can’t really be trusted to condemn or not?

He, of whom this prophecy speaks of, will base His judgment on nothing other than “righteousness” which is the truest measure wherewith anything can be measured by.  He will make sure those that are considered the least of all; those who are usually not able to defend themselves – He will make sure they will have a just, fair, and right outcome.

His righteousness is mandated by His holiness.  His holiness and just judgment are directed by the power of the Spirit in and of Him which includes all those special areas as noted above: wisdom, understanding, counsel, might knowledge, and of the fear of the Lord.  He is completely empowered to discern, advise, and carry out His sovereign righteous reign.

“He shall smite the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of lips shall he slay the wicked.”  2 Thessalonians 2:8 tells us, “And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming.”  No adversary, not even Satan himself, will be able to stand when the reigning Christ opens His mouth in judgment.

The Centurion, when Jesus was coming to his house to heal his servant, sent and said unto Him, “Lord, trouble not thyself: for I am not worthy that thou shouldest enter under my roof: Wherefore neither thought I myself worthy to come unto thee: but say in a word, and my servant shall be healed,” (Luke 7:6-7; emphasis mine).

In that coming day, when Jesus cracks the sky and returns, He will but speak a word “and with the breath of lips shall he slay the wicked” (compare His powerful words to Hebrews 4:12).  He will totally crush and destroy evil with the truth and right judgment that comes from His mouth.  He that it is spoken of that came to “steal, kill, and destroy” (John 10:10) will ultimately face the same demise he tried to afflict on humanity.

“And righteousness shall be the girdle of his loins, and faithfulness the girdle of his reins.”  As a belt that holds up a garment, He that is coming will be wrapped in “righteousness and faithfulness.”  What that means is all that He is, and all that He has, and all that He does is guarded and supported by some of the most precious qualities about Him: His righteousness which simply is to do that which is completely and perfectly right, just, and with the utmost integrity; and, His faithfulness which personifies His sure character of never failing and steadfastness.

Out of all the leaders throughout our history here on this earth and out of all the leaders we currently see in power or vying for position now, He is the only One empowered completely to reign right.

In other passages of Scripture we see, “The LORD reigneth, he is clothed with majesty; the LORD is clothed with strength, wherewith he hath girded himself . . .” (Psalm 93:1), and “For he put on righteousness as a breastplate, and an helmet of salvation upon his head; and he put on the garments of vengeance for clothing, and was clad with zeal as a cloak,” (Isaiah 59:17).  Our King is already now and will be then, dressed and ready to render proper justice in this world and no evil will be able to stand against His judgment.

His Reign of Peace

Isaiah 11:6-10 “The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them.  And the cow and the bear shall feed; their young ones shall lie down together: and the lion shall eat straw like the ox.  And the sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the cockatrice’ den.  They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea. And in that day there shall be a root of Jesse, which shall stand for an ensign of the people; to it shall the Gentiles seek: and his rest shall be glorious.”

Peace as we have never known before.  An age that resembles the innocence of living in the garden with God once again as He originally designed.  There’s a beauty here that can’t be missed.  A place now where only our imagination can take us until that promise of hope is finally fulfilled in that day.

Once I wrote an article titled Interruption of Peace, expressing in it how the enemy comes to steal peace that God gives, yet peace is His divine promise and blessing to us.  In it I talk about how peace is something that must be fought for; it’s about what we let dominate our lives (read article www.wordforlifesays.com).  But, here’s the blessed thing of that coming future day – we don’t have to fight for this peace.  We don’t have to struggle with the day to day issues of life to lay hold of it.  It is there.  It is our promise.  It is our hope.  It is what He has already secured for us and at His reign, we will know it like we have never known it before.

PLEASE NOTE: We I speak of “at His reign” I am speaking of the future day of fulfillment when Jesus returns a second time to rule forevermore.  Of course, as saints of God, we know that He is ruling even as we speak now.  We are not diminishing that; rather we are magnifying the extraordinary event that will take place in that day when the Branch comes and solidifies His reign of peace.  Oh, what a day that will be!

In that day, God’s creation will operate under a spirit of divine fellowship with one another as He originally created them to be.  There is no top of the food chain or bottom of the food chain status to worry about.  His peace; His righteousness will be felt by every being in nature and none shall be absent from the knowledge, the simple knowing, of who He is.

Animals that were at odds with one another, one hiding for fear of death and another seeking to satisfy a need to eat – it will all be done away with.  These competitors become companions: “wolves with lambs, leopards with the kid, lion and the fatling – led by the direction of an innocent child.”   

Even as fantastic as some childhood movies and books depict humans and animals living together in harmony, side by side, without fear of attack or being eaten [I happen to love those kinds of stories by the way], in most of those stories there are still elements that can cause fear, distrust, and anguish between the two.

In that coming day, none of that will exist.  Only the companionship of simply being will matter.  After all, who ever heard of “cows and bears” getting along or a “lion” that eats “straw like the ox?”  Who would ever in this day of ours allow babes and toddlers (sucking child and weaned child) to play with snakes (asp and the cockatrice)? 

His coming kingdom, at His perfect reign, the things which by nature seem impossible and unheard of now, will be possible then.  The only characteristic there is summed up in one word: PEACE.

All sin and evil by then will have been done away with and full restoration will come to head.  “They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea” (compare wording to Habakkuk 2:14).  There is the absence of pain and tears.  There is no more hardship and adversity.  The things and wrong thinking that used to ravage humanity sending it on its downward spiral of sin – all of that is gone.  It’s not in this future kingdom (see also Isaiah 2:4; 65:25; Hosea 2:18).

“The earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea.”  If you will allow me, I see the whole story of Creation, the whole history of man, and the whole of the promise that lays waiting for us in our future as being summed up in one word: GOD.

Psalms remind us, “Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever thou hadst formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, thou art God,” (90:2; see also Exodus 15:18 and Revelation 19:6).  And, it is that same Sovereign rule of our holy Creator that every man and creature will respect and know of because of the very essence and knowledge of who He penetrates the world as a whole thanks to the victory gained through that righteous Branch.

And, it won’t only be those of Israel who will be drawn to “his rest.”  As He stands as an “ensign;” as a banner raised, even the “Gentiles” shall “seek” him.

The nations will be drawn to the source of their salvation.  Jesus once taught Nicodemus, “As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life,” (John 3:14-15); whether they be Jew or “Gentile.”  Jesus, the Branch, the “root of Jesse” was raised once on the cross when He died for the victory over our sins, and He will “stand for an ensign of the people” in that glorious day, declaring once and for all His victory and His reign of peace.

PDF Printable Sunday School Lesson Pack (With easy to read instructions following the P.E.A.R.L. format on how to conduct each lesson with areas for adding personal notes): Sunday School Lesson – The Branch and His Reign of Peace

Suggested activities noted in the lesson:

“Chart of Old Testament prophecies fulfilled by Jesus” (Some useful information to note specific Isaiah prophecies when leading into the lesson)

“Children’s Video of Isaiah 11:1-9 prophecy”

“Grow Carrot Tops Activity” (This activity will help students see how new growth can sprout from a carrot.  Simply follow one of the easy ways shown on this site for a successful and fun project for your students.  Enjoy!)

“Geneology of Jesus Wheel Craft” (This craft or a family tree will help students trace Jesus’s family line.  Enjoy!)

Adult Journal Page: Adult Journal Page – Better Days are Coming

Kid’s Journal Page: Kid’s Journal Page – Signs of Peace at Jesus’ Reign

Blank Journal Pages  for adults and children to fill in your own verse or ideas: 2 journal pages

Draw the Scene: The Branch and His Reign of Peace Draw the Scene

Memory Verse: The Branch and His Reign of Peace Memory Verse

Word Search: The Branch and His Reign of Peace Word Search  Answers: The Branch and His Reign of Peace Word Search Answers

Crossword: The Branch and His Reign of Peace Crossword  Answers: The Branch and His Reign of Peace Crossword Answers

Word Scramble: The Branch and His Reign of Peace Word Scramble  Answers: The Branch and His Reign of Peace Word Scramble Answers

“Peace on Earth” (Activity sheets, coloring, and printables)

“The Prophet Isaiah” (Links to coloring pages, teacher’s guide, etc.)

Listen for God’s leading and then do something about it!

Listen for God’s leading and then do something about it!

“We get new ideas from God every hour of our day when we put our trust in Him — but we have to follow that inspiration up with perspiration — we have to work to prove our faith. Remember that the bee that hangs around the hive never gets any honey.” – Albert E. Cliffe

“No Other Rock I Know!”

no-other-rock

He is the ONLY ROCK I know! On Christ the solid Rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand.

Dear Friends, that means He is unwavering and unfailing. God is our strength when we are weak. He is our fortress in the time of travail. He is our comfort in the time of sorrow. Any other source, any other person, any other thing we choose to depend on will fail. But, God will never fail. He is solid! He is unmoving! We stand on Him because He is our firm foundation!!!