Sunday School Lesson Series: “Getting to Know God Better”

When we enter into a new relationship it takes time to begin to understand and know the other individual.  This knowledge does not come instantly.  It comes with patience and perseverance; it comes by spending time with someone to get to know them personally.  It’s how we figure out all those special things that make them, them.

Getting to know God better, I believe, operates in much the same way.  The more time we spend with Him and the more time we take to understand Him and those special things that make Him, Him, the greater our love and appreciation for Him grows.  That growth is important because our understanding of who God truly is has eternal implications.  Jesus Himself spoke and said, “And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent,” (John 17:3; emphasis mine).

Can I tell you a secret?  God wants us to know Him.  He spoke in Jeremiah, saying, “Thus saith the Lord, Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches: But let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the Lord which exercise lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight, saith the Lord,” (Jeremiah 9:23-24; emphasis mine).

The greatest thing we could ever have is a solid relationship with God.  Fortifying that comes by taking the time to get to know Him better, which is the gist of this new lesson series.  Each lesson focuses on some of those things that make up the beautiful character of our wonderful God.  In the end, my prayer is that your faith in Him and your relationship with Him would be strengthened all the more.  We have this promise in the Bible: “Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you…” (James 4:8).  I pray that the words written in these lessons would help you to do just that, get closer to God.

To access the lessons, simply click on the links below.  They can be studied individually or grouped together as a series.

The power of God is over all! The power of God is responsible for all things created! The power of God cannot be matched and Job declares, even during the roughest patch of his life, that God’s sovereignty over all remains.

When we truly grasp the understanding of the love of God for us, then can we learn to love others better.

“The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to usward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance,” (2 Peter 3:9). God’s longsuffering is God’s patience at work in the best possible way.  Believe today and turn to the Lord for salvation.

Holiness is still right! Isaiah saw a vision of God’s holiness in heaven, unmatched by anything we can know down here or imagine. Peter lets us know, the only way we will get to experience heaven, is to live holy while down here on earth. We must be holy because God is holy!

I am expecting to add more lessons to this series in the future so please stay tuned for updates.  For now, I’m off to work on other projects and series.  Many blessings to you all!

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Sunday School Lesson – “Always Pray and Not Faint” Luke 18:1-8

Photo by Diana Simumpande on Unsplash

VERSE DISCOVERY: Luke 18:1-8 (KJV, Public Domain)

Above the door frame of my front door, there is an elongated plaque mounted.  Inscribed upon it are the words, “Handle with Prayer.”  Every time you come through that door or walk around the living room, this visible reminder stands as a testament of what to do with everything in life: Handle with Prayer.

I believe strongly in prayer and in the power of prayer.  And, I believe it is a part of our relationship with God where we can never stop growing in or do too much.  I believe prayer is a wonderful privilege that God extends to us to come and talk to Him, to lay everything at His feet.  I believe prayer shouldn’t be our last resort when times become difficult.  Rather, it should be the first life-saving ring we grab when we are drowning and hold on to it for dear life.

Is it always easy?  No.  But, then again, neither is life, hence the need for these reminders to take everything to the Lord in prayer before, in the middle of, and after feeling totally overwhelmed by it all.

Prayer is something that should be a natural part of every Christian’s life, but something many use too infrequently or stop when they don’t receive an immediate answer or results they were looking for.  What Jesus teaches us in today’s parable is sometimes you must keep going for it.  We cannot always expect microwave results.  Sometimes we must labor in prayer, and through the power of prayer, repeatedly keep petitioning heaven with those requests.

 Lesson Summary

Luke 18:1-3 “And he spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint; Saying, There was in a city a judge, which feared not God, neither regarded man:  And there was a widow in that city; and she came unto him, saying, Avenge me of mine adversary.”

The operation or workings of prayer have been a mystery to some through the ages.  For some prayer seems to be some mundane Christian civic duty; a check off list, if you will, of something that needs to be done.  For others, prayer seems to be elusive; difficult to understand the concept of and even more difficult to do.

Good news!  Prayer is not either of those things.  Prayer is something that is given to us as an honor; as a way to reach the heavenly Father personally, one on one.  How awesome is that?  Prayer is as essential to the Christian life as breathing or eating.  It is necessary to stay spiritually nourished in Him.

Jesus, therefore, sets about in this lesson opening to His disciples the importance of not giving up in prayer.  To keep laboring through it and being persistent in our requests to God.

Many today teach that if we keep going to God repeatedly with the same request, then that is a sign that we don’t have the proper faith attached to our request, or that we don’t believe God.  Whereas Jesus teaches us in this lesson, “men ought always to pray, and not to faint.”  And, as we find in our lesson, that also covers when we repeatedly take the same request to Him in prayer.

This was a necessary concept for His disciples to grasp.  Jesus had just finished talking to them about His second coming (Luke 17:20-37).  Which means, there must be a departure from His first coming, or as we know, His death, resurrection, and ascension.

During His earthly ministry, Jesus spoke of and demonstrated a life of prayer.  After His departure, prayer is where the disciples must find strength in the continuing forth of the ministry left for them to fulfill.  If Jesus depended often on prayer, surely the disciples, and we, need it even more.

A Christian’s lifeline is held open with God through prayer.  The opened prayer line fosters that interpersonal relationship between God and man. It is not only life-sustaining, but it’s soul-sustaining keeping that glorious love connection betwixt the two opened and flowing.  That’s what Jesus did, He prayed!

Good, effective prayer is not only active during emergency rescues when we turn to Him as a last resort.  A good and effective prayer life will be used to guide our daily steps, saying, “God, I need You and Your counsel and direction in my life this day!”

A strong life of faith cannot be fostered through just those desperate moment prayer request rescues, but when a life hungers to be connected to its source, it willing seeks out that Source all the more, because anything less than what that true connection offers just won’t do.

Therefore, Jesus Christ Himself said, “men ought always to pray.”  That word “always” tells us there is never a time when it is not a good idea to pray.  Prayer in an appropriate action for the Christian to take at all times, or always.  The Apostle Paul taught, “Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God,” (Philippians 4:6; emphasis mine).  Simply put, and agreeing with our Lord, prayer is something that we should always do, and it is always a good idea.

Prayer will also help us to “faint not.”  Pray, and don’t give up.  Pray, and don’t let the temporary of this life get the best of you.  Victory is ahead for the ones that “faint not.”

The word “faint” speaks of weariness to the point that it wears you out and you want to let it go.  Many of us have often spoken those same words declaring the tiresomeness, annoying, and weakened state one may be feeling over a situation, work, or even just dealing with people.

But, for Jesus’ disciples, there would be no room in their new mission for weak-willed, fainthearted workers.  The gospel was the mission, and souls would be the target of that mission.  Life and death would hang in the balance of those who received the words these men of God would soon proclaim and spread to all regions of the world.  They had to be strong.  Prayer would help keep them strong; it would help keep them grounded and tied to their Savior in His absence.  Prayer can make the difference to a life well-lived for God, or not.  Foregoing a persistent prayer life was not an option.  With that, Jesus opens this lesson, saying, “Men ought always to pray, and not to faint.”  Never give up on prayer!

Then, as in other parables, Jesus gives them a story of how this may look in their real, everyday lives; an example of how to act out the principle of prayer that Jesus is teaching.  This is a sign of a good teacher, of which we know Jesus is.  He doesn’t just tell people what to do, He shows them how to do it. 

With that, He opens his story talking about a “judge” who dwells in a certain “city.”  This judge is later identified by Jesus as being “unjust” (see verse 6).  

Unjust means he wasn’t right.  To prove that, Jesus even stated of this man he “feared not God, neither regarded man.”  He had an, “I don’t care” attitude.  He did what benefited him, and most likely, his own pockets.  A judge of any people, particularly God’s people, is supposed to operate with the rule of justice as his measuring rod.  He or she is to uphold all that is true and right.  They are to be fair and impartial in their decisions.  This was not the case here.

Many suppose this man may not have been of Jewish descent because he does not have the fear of God in him, which means he doesn’t respect God, he’s not going to uphold God’s law, nor will he take into consideration God’s ways above what he thinks.  At the same time, some of the judges/leaders throughout history who were of God’s people behaved in the same manner.  So, with the information given, we can’t say one way or another.  But what we do know is God expected more from the judges, especially when it came to helping the weak.  In the book of Isaiah, God pronounced a “woe” against unjust judges who, “turn aside the needy from judgment, and to take away the right from the poor of my people, that widows may be their prey, and that they may rob the fatherless,” (10:2; read 10:1-4).

Nevertheless, whether he was a Jew or a Gentile, he was in a position to help and to judge fairly those who seek his assistance.  But, as we find out, this is not what he is in the habit of doing.

The next character in this parable is a “widow.”  Widows got a rough deal in those days and without a husband or children to care for them their situations could turn disastrous quickly.  They could become prey for those who would take advantage of them and fall victim to the many schemes of unscrupulous peoples.

God had many stipulations in His Word to guard and benefit the weaker members of society, including the widows.  Deuteronomy 27:19 declares, “Cursed be he that perverteth the judgement of the stranger, fatherless, and widow…”  Exodus 22:22 says, “Ye shall not afflict any widow, or fatherless child.”  And, in the New Testament, James says, “Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world,” (1:27).

This “widow” came seeking justice.  She came because she had a case and apparently, to say that things weren’t going right, is an understatement.  She had an “adversary” to deal with and unless she was “avenged;” unless someone like this judge would pay attention to her needs and stand up for her cause, she would most likely go under and succumb to the unfair treatment she was receiving.  She had nowhere else to go, and so, she wasn’t going anywhere.  She refused to accept things as they were.

Luke 18:4-5 “And he would not for a while: but afterward he said within himself, Though I fear not God, nor regard man; Yet because this widow troubleth me, I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me.”

“For a while” the judge refused her or turned away any fair judgment she was searching for.  “For a while” he ignored her pleas and her dire circumstance.  “For a while” he “would not” do anything for her to bring her case to a satisfactory conclusion.  But then there came a time when he was ready to move on her behalf.

There was an “afterward” moment of revelation for this judge.  After he saw her stamina in her “continual coming.”  After he saw that tenacious spirit in her that refused to let her accept anything less than what she deserves, “he said within himself, Though I fear not God, nor regard man; Yet because this widow troubleth me, I will avenge her.”

Not because suddenly he turned his life over to God or got a spiritual revelation.  That wasn’t it.  Not because he suddenly developed a warm spot in his heart for this woman.  That wasn’t it either.  His stance in both of those situations had not changed.  But, because she wouldn’t be stopped, he was going to take up her case and make sure she received justice and possibly those who had done her wrong would be punished, “lest by her continual coming she weary me.”

She wore him out!  She came and invaded his space repeatedly with her pleas.  However many times it took, she was all in.  She came until her request was heard, and her situation was resolved.

How much more will God do for His own who come to Him?

Luke 18:6-8 “And the Lord said, Hear what the unjust judge saith.  And shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them?  I tell you that he will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?”

God is not an unjust judge, nor can He be worn out through our prayers.  The point of this story is to persist in prayer.  If the unjust judge heard the woman and saw to it she was avenged due to her diligence, what do we think about God?  Is not God so much more!  He said, “He shall call upon me, and I will answer him: I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him and honour him,” (Psalm 91:15).

Therefore, be diligent.  Never let anything hinder one’s pace toward that throne of grace (Hebrews 4:16), especially in those coming days where the need to be fortified in prayer will be all the more prevalent.

Keep coming!  Keep going to God!  Never stop looking to Him as your source for everything in life.  Handle everything with prayer!  The widow refused to be silenced, and don’t you be silenced by those around you or your circumstance either.

God has an opened invitation for His people.  God shall “avenge his own elect” in their time of need, according to His perfect and holy will, and time.  There are days now when God’s people are treated unfairly and seem to have drawn the short end of the stick.  In the last days, the heat will be turned up all the more, but God is not ignorant now or then to what His people face.  He will “avenge!”  Therefore, keep praying! 

Every injustice will be repaid.  Every wrong anything done against us will be turned in the favor of God’s people who don’t give up, who keep going despite what it looks like, who hold on to Him and seek Him no matter how hard it may be sometimes.  Those who persist in prayer will see a righteous end to everything they are facing.

But one must hold on to faith because faith and persistence go hand in hand.  And, faith is what Jesus is questioning at the end of this parable.  He says God will do His part.  When His people “cry day and night unto him,” He hears.  Not only does He hear, but He will do something about it.  He will “avenge” and stand for the justice of His own, and He will do it “speedily” without hesitation.

He may not come when you want Him, but as they say, He’s always right on time.  He may “bear long” with His people (see verses on God’s long-suffering in Ex. 34:6; Numbers 14:18; Isaiah 30:18; Romans 2:4 – just to name a few), but at the right moment, He will answer prayer.

As God is patient and longsuffering and will come at the right time, we too are commanded to be patient, and in that patience, persist.  “Be patient therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord. Behold, the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it, until he receive the early and latter rain.  Be ye also patient; stablish your hearts: for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh.” (James 5:7-8).

Yes, it will be hard sometimes, but persist.  Yes, it will seem unfair at times, but persevere.  Yes, there will be times when you will be wronged, and it will hurt, but keep going and keep coming to God to seek everything you need.

“Nevertheless,” Jesus asked, “When the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?”  Events leading up to that coming day will be times of persecution, to say the least.  How will people respond?  How will the disciples and us who are attached to the Lord through His blood covenant respond?  “Shall he find faith on the earth?”

The widow woman was unrelenting in her pursuit of justice.  Are we just as unrelenting in our faith?  True faith requires commitment, and commitment requires one to persist and not yield to the pressures to give up and throw in the towel.

“Shall he find faith on earth?”  As Jesus was preparing His disciple to put their faith into the perspective of hardships they can and will face due to their allegiance to Him, He is also preparing us.  Our faith and trust in Him is the key that unlocks the door to victory.  “For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith,” (1 John 5:4).  At the same time, our faith and trust in Him should strengthen our stance that we won’t back down from the fight, that we don’t cave due to pressure, and we won’t give in despite the persecutions we may face.  We will keep on going!  We will keep on praying!

In a previous article, I wrote:

“Jesus questions trust.  He questions whether or not anyone will believe in the promise and power of prayer.  He questions if there is real, alive faith working in mankind somewhere.  He questions.

One’s faith lies at the center of this questioning, for if we really believed wholeheartedly, there would be no hindrance to bring every request and problem before God in prayer.  This is what Jesus is getting at.  True faith unencumbered.  True faith that takes the shackles off God’s promises and allows one to run freely forth, believing He hears, He knows, and He will answer.” (Jesus Questions Trust/WordForLifeSays.com)

To be the men prepared for the mission Jesus has in store for these disciples, their lives must measure up and be able to fully answer this question well.  They must be willing to go all in and let nothing stop them from having a powerful prayer life.  And, so must we.

Conclusion

One day Jesus is coming back.  Until then, keep praying and don’t give up!  Your heavenly Father hears every cry uttered from your lips and spoken silently in your heart.  You are loved, my friend.  Let your faith rise in your Savior today and believe in His love and power at work in your life. Keep on keeping on.  Always pray and not faint!

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 – Always Pray and Not Faint

Suggested Activities:

Kid’s Journal Page: Kid’s Journal Page – Always Pray and Not Faint

Adult Journal Page: Adult Journal Page – Always Pray and Not Faint

Blank Journal Pages: Blank Adult and Kid’s Journal Pages (Using the blank journal pages allows you to bring out the points of the lesson that are most important to you and your class.  Also, the blank journal pages and be used to support the “Life” section of the printed lesson.)

Word Search: Always Pray and Not Faint Word Search  Answers: Always Pray and Not Faint Word Search Answers

Crossword: Always Pray and Not Faint Crossword  Answers: Always Pray and Not Faint Crossword Answers

Word Scramble: Always Pray and Not Faint Word Scramble  Answers: Always Pray and Not Faint Word Scramble Answers

Draw the Scene: Always Pray and Not Faint Draw the Scene

Memory Verse: Always Pray and Not Faint Memory Verse

How Many Words: Always Pray and Not Faint How Many Words

Prayer Chain Craft: A simple, easy and affordable project to throw together for your students. A prayer chain becomes an easy, take-home reminder of different request students can pray for one another about.  Example below. Enjoy!

My Project 263-001

“Easy Craft Idea”

“Several Printable Activities for the Widow and the Unjust Judge”

“Persistent Prayer”

“The Parable of the Persistent Widow”

“Jesus’ Parable of the Persistent Widow and the Unjust Judge”

“Persistence in Prayer”

 

Sunday School Lesson – “The Holiness of God” Isaiah 6:1-5; 1 Peter 1:15-16

Image by StockSnap from Pixabay

VERSE DISCOVERY: Isaiah 6:1-5; 1 Peter 1:15-16 (KJV, Public Domain)

The Bible commands us, “Exalt ye the Lord our God, and worship at his footstool; for he is holy,” (Psalm 99:5).  All throughout the Bible, God’s holiness is prevalent.  When His holiness was disregarded in exchange for a bite of fruit, sin entered in, separation occurred, and mankind lost his place in the sacred garden paradise (Genesis 3).  When God’s holiness was substituted, the people fell into idolatry with a golden calf, people died, names were blotted out of God’s book, sins would be punished, a plague would follow, and God sent an Angel to guide them for He said, “I will not go up in the midst of thee; for thou art a stiffnecked people: lest I consume thee in the way,” (Exodus 33:3; Exodus 32:1-33:3).  Throughout the times of the judges, prophets, all biblical history, and even today, every time the holiness of God has been forsaken, tragedy strikes, and people reap the consequences of their decisions. 

God does have a standard, and holiness is not only who He is, but it is His standard by which all else is measured.  In today’s lesson, we are looking at God’s holiness with a heavenly perspective.  As Isaiah witnessed the events of chapter 6 unfolding before him, he reveals what he experienced when he viewed God’s holiness in the heavens and through that, he prepares us for the extreme holiness of God. 

There, His holiness supersedes everything, and the seraphims cry out, “Holy, Holy, Holy!”  There, when man comes face to face to the untainted character of God, he realizes just how tainted he is.  There, everything falls away in light of His glory.  If we want to live there, we must learn about the true holiness of God, and how we ought to live before Him.

God’s Holiness Shown in Heaven

Isaiah 6:1 “In the year that king Uzziah died I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple.”

“I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne.”  I have loved the vision of God sitting on a throne for some time now.  When I pray, I imagine myself coming before our great King, bowing before His presence and humbly lifting my eyes to Him in supplication and petition.  Because of our lack of a monarchy here in the States, we don’t really appreciate what it is to come before royalty in utter humility.  But there, in his vision, Isaiah sees God on a throne where we would expect Him to be, reigning in all sovereignty and power as the ultimate King of all kings, and Lord of all lords.

The irony in Isaiah’s vision is when the earthly king passed off the scene; Isaiah was able to see the one who truly was in charge the whole time.  Nothing is ever predicated on our earthly rulers or those who may be currently in power.  Even if it doesn’t feel like it, God always has His hands at the helm of life and events.

“throne” is a place of rulership, which in turn is a place of judgment.  Israel had been long divided as a nation at this point in history.  The ten kingdoms to the north were referred to as Israel while the two kingdoms to the south were Judah.  God’s people were divided from each other, but they were also divided from God.  The people had drawn away from God through sin and rebellion (See Isaiah 1:2-4).  God was now “sitting” in the seat of judgment.  Proverbs 20:8 tells us, “A king that sitteth in the throne of judgment scattereth away all evil with his eyes.”

“High and lifted up.”  Where else would He be?  God is exalted above all!  Psalm 108:5 rejoices and says, “Be thou exalted, O God, above the heavens: and thy glory above all the earth.”  God is above!  Not Beneath!  There are many kingdoms established upon this earth, but God supersedes all!  He is “lifted up!”  Every rule of man must bow to the ultimate King.  “The princes of the people are gathered together, even the people of the God of Abraham: for the shields of the earth belong unto God: he is greatly exalted,” (Psalm 47:9).  God’s dominion outranks every other power imaginable!

“His train filled the temple.”  Many of us are familiar with the idea of “train” on a bridal gown.  When she walks into the room and goes forth down the aisle everyone focuses on the floor behind her gracious steps to see how long the train is.  The long, flowing fabric embellished with love moves down behind her giving her a royal appearance.  God didn’t need the appearance of royal, He is royal, He is King!  His “train,” the hem of His holy garment, marked His majestic stance above all else and it “filled the temple.”  Can you imagine seeing just this much of the glory of God in heaven, with heavenly hosts gathered all around, and His flowing garment encompassing and enveloping everything?  Amazing!

When God’s presence is in the place, His presence takes completely over the place!  He occupies every crevice of that heavenly “temple.”  There is not a place there where He is not.

Isaiah 6:2 “Above it stood the seraphims: each one had six wings; with twain he covered his face, and with twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did fly.”

“Above it stood the seraphims.”  As I studied this, I found out that this is the only place in the Bible where the word seraphims appear is here in the book of Isaiah.  This is a unique opportunity that God has given to Isaiah.  For those whom God draws near to Himself and are willing to be a vessel for His use, will experience unique opportunities that are not privileged to everyone else.

“Each one had six wings; with twain he covered his face, and with twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did fly.”  These seraphim dwelt with God in heaven yet felt a need to “cover” themselves.  Here is tells us twice of them being “covered.”  First, with the “face” and then with the “feet.”  Why the need to feel covered?  Perhaps, they know their unworthiness before this Judge who sits on the throne.  Residing in heaven with Him, they don’t only know of His majesty, they know He is completely majestic.  His holiness transcends all others, therefore, they “cover” themselves.  How brash is mankind in thinking that he can approach God in any form or fashion?  When the residences of heaven bow and cover, what more should we do when in His holy presence?

May all men reevaluate their own status before the Lord and give Him the same blessed honor of reverence the seraphim did.  Not necessarily hiding the face (although a little humility can go a long way), but knowing who He is compared to who we are; knowing that we are not worthy except the blood of Christ covered us like those wings of the seraphim, and made us worthy to stand before Him in that coming day.

Isaiah 6:3 “And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is the LORD of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory.”

“And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is the LORD of hosts.”  I love it when the weather is nice and beautiful, and I can keep my windows open to experience nature.  One of the things I get to experience is the birds calling and communicating with one another.  They are sounding off their beautiful sonnets in hopes of attracting a mate or just relaying and revealing stuff in their own bird language.

The seraphim’s message that was being sounded off to one another, and for us to witness through Isaiah’s vision, is that the holiness of God is like no other.  We cannot, with a human perspective, imagine how far and beyond us His holiness is.  Here “one cried unto another… Holy, holy, holy.”  Anytime Jesus wanted to teach a truth with great emphasis, He would use the phrase “Verily, verily.”  Saying it twice really brought attention to the point He was making.  Here, twice was not good enough when professing the holiness of God.  They announced it three times.  That means we cannot comprehend it!  We just better be ready to stand before it!

“The whole earth is full of his glory.”  Everything on the earth gives God the full glory in the way they were created except for man.  When the trees sway in the wind they glorify God because they are fulfilling their design.  When the squirrel gathers nuts, it does so at the command of God over its life.  All of creation speaks of the glory of God.  We may not hear it audibly, but we can see it all around us.

“The earth is the LORD’s, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein,” (Psalm 24:1).  Everything is under God’s ownership, therefore, “Let every thing that hath breath praise the LORD.  Praise ye the LORD,” (Psalm 150:6).  Jesus, on His triumphal entry into Jerusalem, said, “I tell you that, if these should hold their peace, the stones would immediately cry out,” (Luke 19:40).  Why?  Because “the whole earth is full of his glory!”  The magnificence of God can be seen throughout all His creation and if we don’t sing with the seraphim, “Holy, holy, holy,” then the rocks will cry out in our place!

Isaiah 6:4 “And the posts of the door moved at the voice of him that cried, and the house was filled with smoke.”

“The posts of the door moved at the voice of him that cried.”  A voice so thunderous; a voice so powerful and so awe-strikingly moving to be heard that it caused the doorposts in that temple to shake.  And this is just speaking of the seraphim.  No wonder when the children of Israel, when gathered around Mt. Sinai, they were afraid to hear the voice of God speaking to them.  “And they said unto Moses, Speak thou with us, and we will hear: but let not God speak with us, lest we die,” (Exodus 20:19).  To be in God’s awesome, holy presence is nothing to be played with.  When we enter the place where true holiness resides, we enter in with the humility that He and His tabernacle deserve.

“And the house was filled with smoke.”  There is no mistaking when God is in the building or inhabiting the mountain.  Back to the children of Israel at Mt. Sinai, the Bible says, “And all the people saw the thunderings, and the lightnings, and the noise of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking: and when the people saw it, they removed, and stood afar off,” (Exodus 20:18).  What is our response to the true presence of God in our lives?  How do we act when we approach His glory?  The children of Israel “stood afar off” and in our next verse Isaiah was moved with his own unworthiness.  What of our own humility before Him who sits on the throne in pure holiness?

Isaiah 6:5 “Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips, for mine eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts.”

“Then said I.”  What follows is a personal testimony of a man faced with his own sinfulness.  This is his personal statement of what happened in his own heart when he stood before the presence of the Almighty.  This was his response before the Creator of all the heaven and all the earth.  Think about it, what will you say before Him who knows all and sees all, yet called you before His throne anyway?

“Woe is me!”  Can you sense the agony of sin standing before the Sinless?  It’s as if someone pulled back a curtain to reveal all the evils in human nature and the sight of his own role in humanity made Isaiah say, “Woe!”  When was the last time we “woed” at our own incompleteness without Him and before Him?  Even the best-behaved person on the face of this earth would have to “woe” before the Almighty.  This is all about Him and our complete unworthiness to be before Him.

But thank God for where Christ has placed us now: “Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession.  For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.  Let us therefore COME BOLDLY UNTO THE THRONE OF GRACE, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need,” (Hebrews 4:14-16; All Capital Emphasis Mine).

“For I am undone.”  This reminds me of the testimony of some who, in a life-changing moment, saw their life flash before their eyes.  Could this be what Isaiah was experiencing?  Every sin, every wrong, and every transgression comes to the forefront when there’s nothing to hide behind anymore.  Standing before the Revealer of all, he declared, “I am undone.”  

The Bible reminds us, “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God,” (Romans 3:23).  Standing in His glory, one soon realizes just how “short” from being worthy they truly are.

“Because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips.”  Jesus, in condemning the scribes and Pharisees said it best.  “But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man,” (Matthew 15:18).  Using the uncleanness of his own lips and those of people in general, he could see that his life was not ready to stand before the King of all kings and the Lord of all lords.  The uncleanness of the lips is synonymous with the uncleanness of the heart.  Continuing in Matthew, Jesus further said, “For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies: These are the things which defile a man…” (15:19-20a).  But Jesus started off His chastisement saying, “Out of the mouth come forth from the heart.”  What is our conversation saying of our hearts?  Do we really understand how “unclean” we are?

“For mine eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts.”  It only takes a moment to see the miraculous to change your life forever.  Many people who desire to see God in a face to face encounter on this side of glory don’t know what they ask for.  First of all, no man can see God and live (read Exodus 33:20).  Secondly, sometimes when we read stories in the Bible where people came face to face with just an angel of God, and wind up falling down before them in fear. How much more would they be able to stand before the holiness of the Almighty King?  The majority of us will never experience the sight of Him until we get to heaven, “For we walk by faith, not by sight,” (2 Corinthians 5:7).  OH!  But if we did, I’m sure it would have the same impact on us as it did on Isaiah: “For mine eyes have seen the king, the LORD of hosts” and the awesomeness of that moment would make us tremble before His perfect holiness.

But one day, we are hoping to be there where He is, to see the “King, the LORD of hosts” for ourselves.  Anything or anyone that does not fall in line with God’s holiness will not have that privilege.  “And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb’s book of life,” (Revelation 21:27).

God’s Holiness is to Show in Us

1 Peter 1:15-16 “But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.”

Reading of all Isaiah experienced and what he saw of God’s holiness in the heavens, and knowing that one day we too will come face to face with the extreme holiness of God, how should we then live?  We must live lives that represent the holiness of the “holy” God we serve.

Hebrews 12:14 tells us, “Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord” (emphasis mine).  God is looking for a sanctified life.  When we receive His Spirit, the sanctification process has started to turn our lives around getting us ready for a heaven-bound journey.  A lot of people have grown unaccustomed to associating our walk of faith with a walk of sanctification.  We talk a lot about faith, but little is covered anymore about being holy.  But a sanctified people are what we are called to be, and I must ask, is there a fervency for holiness still present in the modern church?

God is still calling for holiness, and holiness is still right!  During the time of Jesus’ earthly ministry, He taught, “Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in there at: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it,” (Matthew 7:13-14).  Holiness is the only way through that gate!

God wants hearts that are in tune with His.  God wants people who are in the world but not of the world (John 17:16).  God our Father is holy, and His children, who are us, are to be holy demonstrators of His character. Peter said in today’s lesson, it has already been “written” in the Old Testament, and nothing has changed in the New Testament: “Be ye holy; for I am holy” (1 Peter 1:16; compare Leviticus 11:44-45; 19:2; 20:7, 26).  Our lives are to be lives of separateness and devotion to God alone, instilled with His Spirit to live differently than the rest of the world.

Peter continues to describe us as “an holy priesthood” and “an holy nation” (1Peter 2:5, 9).  The common denominator is holiness!

Holiness is a prerequisite for access to our heavenly Father.  Sin will hinder a full and beautiful relationship with God.  Isaiah 59:2 reiterates this truth, saying, “But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear.”  Therefore, holiness must be the mark that the Christian aims for in his/her daily life in order to see the Lord at the end of this journey.

And, it must not just be present in some areas of our lives; rather, “be ye holy in all manner of conversation”; in every area of life.  A life submitted to and in complete devotion of the Father who has saved them.  An uncompromising life, that doesn’t pat a sin on the back here and condemns something different over there.

All sin is sin, and every area of our lives must be lived in submission to being “holy.”  If we are going to be identified as His children, then we must be identified as He is, and that is “holy!”  “Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God,” (2 Corinthians 7:1).

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 Holiness of God

Suggested Activities:

Adult Journal Page: Adult Journal Page – The Holiness of God

Kid’s Journal Page: Kid’s Journal Page – The Holiness of God

Draw the Scene: The Holiness of God Draw the Scene

“Holy, Holy, Holy Glitter Sheet Activity”: Another activity that can be done is this “Holy Holy Holy” Glitter sheet.  Use the sheet as is to color or do as I did.  I colored and cut out the words and glued them on blue construction paper (sky).  Then, using a white crayon you can make clouds.  Finally, since it is a holy place where these words are being uttered, I used gold glitter to bring out the words “Holy, Holy, Holy!”  Enjoy!  PDF: Holy coloring sheet

 

Word Search: The Holiness of God Word Search  Answers: The Holiness of God Word Search Answers

Crossword: The Holiness of God Crossword  Answers: The Holiness of God Crossword Answers

Word Scramble: The Holiness of God Word Scramble  Answers: The Holiness of God Word Scramble Answers

“Sin Revealed” from Kidssundayschool.com (Great object lesson to go with being “undone” and “unclean lips” because it shows how our sin can’t hide before God).

“Sanctified Lips” from Calvarycurriculum.com

“Heaven is Awesome”

“Heaven Lesson Bible Plan w/ tons of activities and crafts”

“Molded to be Holy” Object lesson from Childrensministry.com

“Heaven” Ideas/Lesson from Ministry to Children

Sunday School Lesson – “The Patience of God” 2 Peter 3:9-15a

Photo by Lindsay Henwood on Unsplash

VERSE DISCOVERY: 2 Peter 3:9-15a (KJV, Public Domain)

Waiting for things and promises to come to pass can be extremely hard sometimes.  Especially if you have been hearing it for a while but have yet to see the fruition of it.  This is a matter that Peter addressed in this portion of his letter.  The gospel has been preached for some time by now.  Those that believed were hopefully waiting for the promises preached to come to pass.  They’ve heard the story of Jesus’ ascension and the urging to keep focused for His return.  Yet, the scoffers (unbelievers) were making it hard to hold onto their faith.  They ridiculed their beliefs and mocked their devotion.

Peter taught there’s a different end for us who are believers than for those who are unbelievers.  Those that believe should never let go of the promise that He is coming back again regardless of how long it seems to us.  Just look at this way, we are thanking God for His patience and longsuffering because it gives more people a chance to be saved.  I think that’s well worth the wait, don’t you?

Scoffers May Disbelieve

2 Peter 3:3 “Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts,”

“Knowing this first.”  Peter wrote in 1 Peter 4:12, “Think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you.”  Yet, it still amazes us when we go through hardship.  We are still taken aback at any signs of adversity.  Here, Peter said the “first” thing you should know is there are going to be “scoffers.”  There are going to be people who don’t believe what you believe and because they don’t, they will mock, ridicule, and make fun of you for what you believe in.

If you have ever watched a clown perform you have probably laughed.  Why?  Because much of their performance is mocking the actions of another and the way they jokingly do it tickles our funny bone.  “Scoffers” work in much the same way except it’s not funny at all.   I think if we had the predetermined mindset to “know” these things will happen it will prepare us for when those times do come.  Especially in these “last days,” referring to the time between the first and second return of Christ.   

“Walking after their own lusts.”  The word “lusts” has an s on the end of it signifying that there are various pursuits of ungodliness that the unbeliever and scoffer delve into.  They scorn and mock that which is right with the end purpose of being able to do what they want to do.  If they convince themselves there is no return of Christ to look forward to, then what is there that would prohibit living a life of sin and dishonor.  If they believe there will be no repercussions to their current actions and lifestyle choices now, why would they stop pursuing those things and ideas they desire to pursue, even though they are wrong.

We see this attitude alive in the world now.  We see Christians are rallied against because they raise a standard in their life and take a stand for their beliefs, yet at the same time, the mindset of the world is the Christian better not say anything about the beliefs of others.  For if they do then they are considered intolerant of others for not supporting their lifestyles.  All so that the unbeliever/scoffer can continue “walking in their own lusts.”  “Lusts” are sinful desires that go against the plan and design that God has for humanity.

2 Peter 3:4 “And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation.”

A large part of gospel preaching and teaching is focusing on and preparing people for the return of Christ because their eternity hangs in the balance.  Since the scoffer is not looking toward the same heavenly treasure as the believer and does not believe themselves that this event will take place, their job is to try to tear down and even use human reasoning against those who are awaiting God’s promise through the return of Christ.

“Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation.”  Their reasoning, yesterday came and went, and nothing happened.  Last year came and went and nothing happened.  As a matter of fact, since the world was created, days and years came and went, and nothing happened.  You keep saying it, but “Where is the promise of his coming?”

Most people base everything they believe or don’t believe on what they see with their natural eyes and their short-sighted minds.  When the unbeliever looks down through history, they don’t see the chain of events that brought salvation to mankind.  They don’t see the promise of good that God has stored 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 that has continued uninterrupted.  They don’t see this beautiful, epic love story where God tries to woo mankind back to Himself.  Therefore, they can’t fathom this incredible promise either.  To them, nothing has changed.  Since they don’t see it, they don’t mind letting their hatred for those of us who do see it show.  They ridicule and mock the one who believes in the return of Christ (compare Jude 1:18-19).  They trust that everything will remain as it has since the beginning of creation.

2 Peter 3:5-7 “For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water: Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished: But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.”

“They willingly are ignorant.”  Here it states that this is one’s choice in the matter of whether they believe or not believe.  God is not going to arm wrestle someone into faith.  God has blessed every human being with a free will, and they are the ones who will choose whether or not they will follow Him.

“Willingly” implies truth or no truth, they will not comply.  Their minds are made up to purposely follow a life of sin and what they believe or disbelieve to be true and right, regardless of the evidence before them.  Here, their ignorance will not allow them to believe in the order of Creation as stated in the Bible or any other biblical truths that follow.  For too long man has opposed God’s truth to his own finite theories of evolution and reasoning on how the world came to be.

“In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.  The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep.  And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters,” (Genesis 1:1-2).  Before God stepped in there was just chaos.  Our lesson speaks of “the earth standing out of the water and in the water.”  This was God’s doing!   Nothing that we see in this world today existed nor did it evolve from some species.  But on the third day of creation, God said, “Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together in one place, and let dry land appear: and it was so.  And God called the dry land Earth; and the gathering of together of the waters called he seas: and God saw that it was good,” (Genesis 1:9-10).

Though the order of creation is apparent and evident some still choose to disbelieve.  The apostle Paul said this doesn’t excuse them.  “For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse,” (Romans 1:20).

And, it is by those same waters that God stepped into history and judged mankind for his sin once before through the great Flood (see Genesis 6:6:5-7; 7:11-24; compare 2 Peter 3:6 of the lesson text), therefore Peter teaches, He will do it again!  Whether or not one is looking for it, the time of final judgment will come.

Scoffers laugh and jeer because God is taking so long for the time of His coming when they should be rejoicing that He is taking His time.  Instead, they use this time to indulge in evil.  “Because sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil,” (Ecclesiastes 8:11).

In God’s proper timing, when He is ready, He will, “by the same word” He spoke during those times speak again and everything that we see around us today will perish.  Jesus Himself stated that “Heaven and earth shall pass away,” (Matthew 24:35; emphasis mine).  Psalm 102:26 tells us, “They shall perish, but thou shalt endure…” (emphasis mine).  One day, their hope, which is not in God, will die.  Yet, they still ignore the one who will “endure.”  Go figure?

Still, God is patient today, but there will come a time for “judgment and perdition of ungodly men.”  He is reserving everything for that fulfilling time.  For now, He is holding back His “word” for that “day of judgment.”  But then, everything that was spoken of for that day will happen and the ungodly will perish.  There is a different end for the wicked as opposed to those who believe.  “Upon the wicked he shall rain snares, fire and brimstone, and an horrible tempest: this shall be the portion of their cup,” (Psalm 11:6).  It will happen!

…But God is Not Slack

2 Peter 3:8-9 “But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.  The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to usward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.”

But we, as His children, are not to operate in “ignorance.”  We are to be fully aware of the ways of God.  One thing is, God is not on a timetable such as we are.  We mark our days by when the sun rises and sets at night.  We mark our seasons by the temperature in the air, the budding or non-budding of plants, and by the harvests we reap.  We mark our lives by age milestones.  When you are a child you can’t wait to hit the double-digit numbers and be 10.  After that, other milestones are marked such as when becoming a teenager (13), sweet sixteen, at 18 you are considered a legal adult and so forth.

God is infinite.  He cannot be marked by time.  “I am the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty, (Revelation 1:8).  There never a time when He wasn’t because He always was!  With that being said, “One day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.”

“For the Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness.”  God is not an unreliable resource to depend upon like man.  Many get confused along the way because they attribute man’s faulty characteristics to the holy and perfect God.  When someone promises something but takes a long time fulfilling it, we tend to lose faith in that individual.  But God cannot be counted in the same category as man.  His not moving right now is not due to “slackness” or an inability to perform.  Habakkuk tells us, “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,” (2:3).  Shortly after that in the next verse, he says, “The just shall live by his faith,” (2:4b).  Every word of God for good or for bad, for happy or for 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 final judgment so that as many people as possible can be saved.  For everyone out there, there is hope for salvation if they will just turn to Him and repent and be saved.  They don’t have to go out like that when God is waiting for them right now, right this moment.

God’s waiting won’t add to the demise of people.  Rather, His “longsuffering” is because He is “not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.”  Will all come and get into this life He offers through Jesus Christ?  No.  But God loves mankind so much that He wants to get as many people as possible out of that life of sin and unbelief that is seeking to take them down for all eternity.  God wants as many people as possible to be saved and living in heaven with Him.  How beautiful is His love toward us!

But people must repent!  They must turn to Him.  They must turn away from their old life; change their mind from their sinful thinking and living and turn to Him. A true, repentant heart admits that it has fallen short of the glory of God and is seeking restoration and salvation that only God can give through Jesus Christ our Lord.  “For I have no pleasure in the death of him that dieth, saith the Lord GOD: wherefore turn yourselves, and live ye,” (Ezekiel 18:32).

2 Peter 3:10 “But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the earth shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.”

“But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night.”  There’s something to be said for preparing for the unknown.  In life, we put all kinds of securities in place such as home alarm systems to warn against intruders and we stock-up supplies in the event of some horrific storm.  Our future in Christ is not an unknown, yet, still knowing what will take place, some disregard all warnings.  Jesus said, “If the goodman had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be broken up,” (Matthew 24:43).  Thieves are not known for announcing their arrival.  The element of surprise works in their favor.  It catches people off guard when they least expect it.  Here we are told that when we least expect it, it will happen.

“The heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.”  Everything will be gone!  Nothing on this earth will last forever.  Yet, day by day, people put more stock in the things this world possesses and the “works” they can do with their own hands rather than God.  Therefore, Jesus said, “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth,” (Matthew 6:19) because the earth and all that is in it will vanish one day.  As stable and as strong as we think a mountain is, Revelation 16:20 tells us, “And every island fled away, and the mountains were not found.”  All will “pass away!”  Peter’s emphasis for us is not what’s going to happen with the world for we should already be prepared for that.  His concern in dealing with the Christian is what’s happening with us personally.

Therefore, How We Live Matters

2 Peter 3:11 “Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness.”

“Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness.”  Since Peter already focused on the times and seasons of the future, he now wanted to focus on his readers and their inner man, and how they are representing themselves to the waiting world.  How do we live our lives considering our eternity?  Knowing that “all these things shall be dissolved” how do we let that information guide us in our life decisions and choices?  Do we act as carefree and irresponsible as those who live with no hope of a better future?  Or, do we make sure the faith we profess on the inside is shining like a beacon on the outside to draw even more people to Christ?

How we live matters!  Talk is cheap!  Actions speak louder than words!  We’ve heard those sayings most of our lives but usually only apply it to someone we are in an argument with.  What Peter really wants us to do is mind our own steps in life.  It’s easy to pick away at the life of another and the choices they have made when we are not as careful to judge our own.  Jesus asked, “And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?” (Matthew 7:3).  Our eternity is not bound up here, rather we are pressing toward the goal of heaven.  We are working toward the end of salvation.  With that being said, we must mind “what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness.”  We won’t have to answer for nobody but ourselves and how we lived.  And, how we will live matters!

2 Peter 3:12-14 “Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat?  Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness.  Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless.”

In these three verses, we see the word “look” three times.  At the time of this writing, Peter was nearing his end.  This would be the last letter he wrote so he knows something about waiting in expectation of a better future.  Hard times and trials tend to dash one’s hope.  But Peter expressed that “we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth.”  We are not to stop anticipating the better that God has for us.  The unbelievers and scoffers live the way they live because they don’t have this assurance.  But we have the “promise.”  “God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good?” (Numbers 23:19).  God is the author of the promise and God makes good on His promises; therefore, we should never stop looking! (see also Romans 8:31-39).

“Wherein dwelleth righteousness.”  Speaking of our eternal home, the Bible tells us, “There shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb’s book of life,” (Revelation 21:27).  A lot of works carried out by men and woman today will not see the light of heaven tomorrow.  “Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God?  Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners shall inherit the kingdom of God,” (1 Corinthians 6:9-10).  Not on this list?  It doesn’t matter.  If one is not born again then they will not walk the streets of glory (see John 3:5).  Only the righteous will be there.  (This would be a good point to make a call to salvation for your students urging them to prepare themselves for that coming day).

“Be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace.”  When someone is diligent that means they are putting forth a conscientious effort to pay careful heed and give it their all.  Since that day is inevitable, and since we don’t know the day or the hour, we must be ready to “be found of him in peace.”  Romans tells us, “The wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness” (1:18).  In that day, those that are not “found of him in peace,” will surely wish they were.

“Without spot and blameless.”  Israel was initially supposed to be the nation that would show the whole world how to have a relationship with God.  They were to be examples of His righteousness but failed.  Nevertheless, God had a plan to bring a Savior into the world “without blemish and without spot,” (1 Peter 1:19).  Now, we are being called to live like Jesus.  “He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked,” (1 John 2:6, see also 1 Peter 1:13-25 and Matthew 5:48).

2 Peter 3:15a “And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation.”

“The longsuffering of our Lord is salvation.”  Have you ever really had an off day and thought to yourself that you were glad today was not the day when He came back?  Yeah, me too.  There are others that don’t know Him, and it is during this waiting period of His “longsuffering” they have a chance to accept and experience salvation.  His love compels Him to wait a little longer.  He won’t hold off forever, as the lesson has proven.  Things will change despite what the scoffers believe.  Our job in the process is to thank Him for His patience, hope in His coming, and live like we are in anticipation of the return of Christ, because we should be.

His longsuffering, which is stated twice in this lesson, is God’s patience at work in the best possible way.  Believe today and turn to the Lord for salvation.

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 Patience of God

Suggested Activities:

For a cute coloring page, go to SandwichINK

Object Lesson from Ministry-To-Children

Games and Activities that teach patience from MeaningfulMama

Adult Journal Page: Adult Journal Page – The Patience of God

Kid’s Journal Page: Kid’s Journal Page – The Patience of God

Blank Journal Pages: Blank Adult and Kid’s Journal Pages

Draw the Scene: The Patience of God Draw the Scene

Word Search: The Patience of God Word Search  Answers: The Patience of God Word Search Answers

Crossword: The Patience of God Crossword  Answers: The Patience of God Crossword Answers

Word Scramble: The Patience of God Word Scramble  Answers: The Patience of God Word Scramble Answers

 

Sunday School Lesson – “God Called Abram” Genesis 12:1-9

Photo by Clemens van Lay on Unsplash

VERSE DISCOVERY: Genesis 12:1-9 (KJV, Public Domain)

What once was
Will not always be,
When we follow the way
The Lord leads.

Abandoning the comforts
And safety we know,
Attaching oneself
To the One who speaks, “Go.”

Stepping out
In this journey of trust.
By faith, we follow,
Leaving the past in the dust.

One foot, one step,
We walk our way through.
Arriving in His promise
Where every word comes true.
©WordForLifeSays.com

Every journey in life starts with a first step.  That step, and the ones that come after it is the way to arrive at the destination that was hoped for.

For most people, when making such a drastic change in life, they have properly prepared for it well in advance.  But, when you’re like Abram, there is no such thing.  The call was made, what will he do with it?  Will he make excuses as to why this is not the right time to uproot his family?  Will he reason himself out of what lay ahead because he just doesn’t have enough details to make a thoughtful and well-informed decision?  Or will he go against the norms of rational, and put one foot in front of the other and walk where God says walk?

At this point, we all know that’s exactly what he did.  Let’s examine the story of his call a little closer that we might find the encouragement to move when God asks us to move with nothing but faith as our guide.

God Called

Genesis 12:1-3 “Now the Lord had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will shew thee: And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.”

In order for there to be a complete blessing, there must be complete obedience.  Our God is not a half-way God.  He does all things well, and when He pursues individuals and welcomes them into His plans, He expects the same follow-through mentality He possesses.  Often, this requires a great deal of faith.

And this, we will find out, is exactly what Abram did and why he is honored by God in the way that he was.  At the command of God, he was willing to leave everything behind that attached him to his old life that he may be more attached to his relationship with God.  Generally, this action is similar to what every Christian is called to do when God delivers them from what they used to do or be.

Back to Abram.  While living life in the land of Ur, minding his business and going about what we assume was his daily routines or normal course of living, Abram’s life was interrupted by God.  This interruption would cause him to nix any plans he had for himself.  This interruption would let him know that he was no longer the most important person in his life, and neither was his family.  This interruption would speak of things the eyes have not yet seen but ask to walk that way anyhow.  This interruption would change the life of Abram forever, but more importantly, it would help usher in the greatest change the world has ever seen.

In the place he was currently in, God said to leave it.  Everything familiar, leave it.  Everything you are comfortable with, leave it.  Every person you have become attached to, leave them.  The life they lived and the place where he was, was not conducive to what God had in store for this man.

Many times, we read stories like this and we think, “Oh, that’s all he had to do.”  It’s more to it than that because whether you admit it or not, as humans, we like the familiar.  We like the things that we are used to.  We like the circle of people who we have come to know their little idiosyncrasies, and they have come to know ours.  We like our positions in that circle of people, so leaving everything behind, especially in the most permanent way Abram was called to leave, takes faith.

God commanded him, “Get thee out of thy country.”  Detach yourself, Abram, from everything that’s not a part of my plan for you.  In that country, idol worshipping prevailed.  In that country, people were not in a relationship with the one true God.  That place would not foster the environment that would grow Abram to be the man that He has designed him to be, nor would it be the right environment for the promises and the people that God has in store for Abram’s future to reproduce and grow.

Some comfortable places are traps.  Some of the familiar things that we have a hard time letting go of are keeping us from where God wants to take us.  Abram had to choose, follow God or stay put and risk losing everything even though he didn’t know anything about where God was taking him.

Abram’s separation was to be a complete severance from “thy kindred, and from thy father’s house.”  Walk away from everything and everyone, with only those that belong just to you in tow.  Turn your back on that auntie who used to pinch your cheeks in the sweetest fashion every time she saw you.  Your cousin, who was more like your best friend, you must leave behind.  All familial holds had to be let go of.

He must go “unto a land that I will shew thee.”  God knew where He was taking Abram, but Abram didn’t.  One must wonder, what was it about this call that would inspire Abram to make such a sudden, life-altering choice.  We don’t know exactly how God appeared to him or how the call was made, but for Abram, a man raised in idol worship, he was more than willing to do what God asked him to do, and follow His leading, sight unseen.  That’s the true definition of faith (Hebrews 11:1).

Ur, he knew.  Haran, he knew.  Where God was taking him, he knew nothing about it.  What would the land be like?  Will it be enough to support us?  Will it be enough to support our herds and the people I have with me?  So many questions must have gone through his mind, yet if there were reservations, they were never allowed to manifest and become a hindrance of following through with where God called him to go.  Rather, his faith was manifested in his obedience to go, in spite of it all.

God not only told him He had a land for him, but God also had promises attached to his act of faith in stepping out.  God was going to “bless” Abram.  That word “bless” meant there were going to be some good things that would come his way.  Things that would be unattainable if he chose to stay where he was.

“I will make of thee a great nation” was one of the blessings attached to his step of faith.  The man who didn’t even have one heir at the time was promised a whole nation.  Considering his age at the time (75), could Abram even fathom this sort of increase on the horizon?  God was going to take Abram’s nothing (from an heir point of view) and “make” it more than he could ever realize.  God was going to create an entire “nation” from this one man of faith (see Genesis 17:4).  God had a definitive plan in mind for this man and when he stepped out in faith, God would accomplish His purposes for him and his future family.

“I will bless thee” was the next portion of the promises for Abram.  In general, God was going to honor Abram with His blessings which could really cover every area of his life (compare Genesis 24:1).  God’s favor would be evident upon Abram.  God would be in a covenant relationship with Abram, and eventually, his people, and the state of their blessedness in Him will show (compare Genesis 24:35).

“And make thy name great” is designed around the reputation Abram (who would eventually become Abraham) would be known for.  To this day, his name, attached to his steps of faith, is known and honored.  He didn’t leave for fame, but fame would follow his faith story.

“And thou shalt be a blessing.”  All that Abram would be and become was not just for himself or his family.  As God has blessed him, he would also bless others.  Abram would “be” a blessing.

“And I will bless them that bless thee.”  When favor was shown to this special man and this special family, God would take special note of it.  One cannot bless the people of God and God not be pleased with it.  When we treat others right, especially those in covenant relationship with God, God notices and rewards.

At the same time, if one mistreats these same ones, then God would turn their “curse” back on their own heads to bear.  When God is in a covenant relationship with His people, God protects them.

Lastly, God promised, “In thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.”  This was a promise that has been reiterated several times in Scripture (see Genesis 18:18; 22:18, and more).  In the New Testament, the Apostle Paul noted in Galatians, “That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith,” (3:14).  As Abraham received his promise through faith, so too do those who believe in Christ, be they, Jew or Gentile.  When God stated, “all families”, that’s exactly what He meant.  He left the door open for any believing heart to have access to what Christ has to offer.  And Christ would come through the line of Abraham and his family, extending the blessings of God to whoever will receive Him.   

Abram Responded

Genesis 12:4-5 “So Abram departed, as the Lord had spoken unto him; and Lot went with him: and Abram was seventy and five years old when he departed out of Haran.  And Abram took Sarai his wife, and Lot his brother’s son, and all their substance that they had gathered, and the souls that they had gotten in Haran; and they went forth to go into the land of Canaan; and into the land of Canaan they came.” 

Abram responded to the call of God in a positive fashion.  He obeyed.  When he “departed, as the Lord had spoken unto him,” it means he obeyed what the Lord instructed him.  Abram’s faith, as well as our own, is tied to obedience.  Obedience says, I don’t know everything, and he didn’t, but I trust God enough to step into the unknown and do what He has asked me to do.

Abram is seventy-five years old at this point in his life.  How difficult would it have been to leave everything when one is probably well-planted and settled where he is?  Yet, leave is what he did because this is what the “Lord had spoken unto him.”  He moved his life and his family under the direction of God.

Many years later, one of Israel’s future leaders will make a bold declaration for him and his house in obeying what God wills for their life.  Joshua stood and spoke with his faith, and said, “As for me and my house, we will serve the LORD,” (Joshua 24:15).  Whether it’s addressing the issue of properly serving God as opposed to those who went after what is false, or as in Abram’s story of faith that has him trekking on an unknown journey because it is what God commands for his life, both scenarios are journeys of obedience, both require faith, and both had the whole family that belonged to them involved.

When Abram departed, he didn’t go it alone.  He had responsibilities to those who belong to him to include them in on what God was doing in his life now and in the future.  They had to follow him as he followed God.  Therefore, Abram “took Sarai his wife, and Lot his brother’s son, and all their substance that they had gathered, and the souls that they had gotten in Haran” with him and they would witness firsthand what faith in following God looked like through their obedient leader.

“They went forth to go into the land of Canaan.”  “They”, all those journeying with Abram followed Abram and “they” all “went forth to go into the land of Canaan.”  They may have not understood but they followed Abram.  They all left Haran.

“And into the land of Canaan they came.”  As Abram would soon find out, this place they were entering was going to be the same place God said He would show him.  This place was going to be a pivotal place throughout their history for so many wonderful things of faith.  This place was going to belong to him and his people.  Others may live there now, but it would be their Promised Land.    

 Abram’s Journey and Worship

Genesis 12:6-9 “And Abram passed through the land unto the place of Sichem, unto the plain of Moreh. And the Canaanite was then in the land.  And the Lord appeared unto Abram, and said, Unto thy seed will I give this land: and there builded he an altar unto the Lord, who appeared unto him.  And he removed from thence unto a mountain on the east of Bethel, and pitched his tent, having Bethel on the west, and Hai on the east: and there he builded an altar unto the Lord, and called upon the name of the Lord.  And Abram journeyed, going on still toward the south.”

If you have ever journeyed on a long trip, you know the sheer joy of arriving.  Arriving means your destination has been reached.  Arriving means whatever travail occurred during the trip can be put into the back of your mind because you are here now and that’s all that matters.

Abram’s journey started on nothing but pure faith in what God promised, and now he is in that very place of promise.  How awesome!

Coming into the land, Abram “passed through the land unto the place of Sichem, unto the plain of Moreh.”  He was walking through his promise.  Every step he took, every piece of land he crossed in that place was already his.  This land, though inhabited by “the Canaanite” at that time, his descendants will rightfully claim as their own because he stepped out in faith.

Verifying all of this, “the LORD appeared unto Abram, and said, Unto thy seed will I give this land.”  “This land” was promised by God.  “This land”, the very parcel of ground where he stood, and all the borders of the region God would lay out for him was his and his “seed.”  God gave it to them.  God promised it to Abram (see also Genesis 15:18-21).  He may be a “stranger” in this place right now, but God was giving it to him for an “everlasting possession” (Genesis 17:8).

Many, many other verses in the Bible verify this land of promise by God belongs to Abram and his descendants.  God spoke to Isaac, his future son, when a famine hit the area, saying, “Sojourn in this land, and I will be with thee, and will bless thee; for unto thee, and unto thy seed, I will give all these countries, and I will perform the oath which I sware unto Abraham thy father,” (Genesis 26:3).  And unto Jacob, He said, “I am the LORD God of Abraham thy father, and the God of Isaac: the land whereon thou liest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed,” (Genesis 28:13).  With many more references throughout God’s holy Word, Abram has the assurance that he is in the place God had for him.  His step of faith led him into what was previously unknown territory into the remarkable position of standing in that very place of promise.

The leaving was worth it.  The journey was worth it.  The stepping out into the unknown was worth it.  God did exactly what He said He would do, and as he looked around the land, and the mountains, and the plains and seeing all the places of “Moreh”, “Bethel”, and “Hai” in his journey, he could see nothing but the fulfillment of everything he hoped for in God.  It was no longer just a dream, but the expectations of that dream had been rewarded to him for his faith.  Physically, and literally, he could see all God had in store for him.

And so, he worshipped.  Worship should always be a part of one’s journey with God, and worship should also be prevalent when we get to where God was leading us (before, during, and after – at all times, Psalm 34:1).  Abram built “an altar unto the LORD, who appeared to him.” 

Abram, through his faith, through his obedience to go, and through his worship, centered his life on the “LORD.”  Herein is a great example to live by.  Knowing and recognizing who it is that has authored not only our lives, but everything in between, and giving Him the proper glory that is due to His name.

Abram “called upon the name of the LORD” and blessed and honored publicly the same God who so blessed and honored him.  He stepped out in faith, and in that same faith, he is declaring his devotion to God alone.

One man out of all the men of the earth.  Taken out of one nation to begin a new nation.  Out of this, one family will increase and grow until centuries later it gives birth to one Savior who will save all mankind from their sins when they turn to Him in faith.

All this started, by faith.  That faith led to obedience, which then led to the fulfillment of everything God promised.

As he continued “toward the south” one can imagine him taking in more and more of the land in utter amazement.  What an awe-inspiring feeling that must have come over him as he took it all in.

One step.  One journey.  One very happy result in the end.

Everybody is not called to take the same journey as Abram did, but when God calls, we are all to respond the same way: in faith and obedience.

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 – God Called Abram

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Sunday School Lesson – “Grafted in by Faith” Romans 11:11-24

Image by Helger11 from Pixabay

VERSE DISCOVERY: Romans 11:11-24 (KJV, Public Domain)

The Jews of the Apostle Paul’s day struggled first with accepting God’s plan of salvation by faith.  Rather, in their own righteousness, relied more on the works of the law (Romans 9:31-33).  Romans 10:4 declares, “For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.”

Another thing they struggled in was the acceptance of the Gentiles into God’s spiritual family.  Rather than depend on the law, as the Jews previously had done, and the works of the law, they, the Gentiles “have attained to righteousness, even the righteousness which is of faith,” (Romans 9:30).  Although through the centuries the prophets foretold, “I will call them my people, which were not my people; and her beloved, which was not beloved,” (Romans 9:25; see also verse 26).

Paul continued to teach when it comes to accepting Christ by faith, “There is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him.  For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved,” (Romans 10:12-13; emphasis mine).

Does this mean that God has cast away His chosen people?  (Romans 11:1).  Absolutely not!  But, by God’s grace, there is still a remnant that will worship Him through faith (Romans 11:1-6).  While some remained spiritually blind, God was using this as an opportunity to bring salvation to the Gentiles.

Neither group had a reason for division amongst them.  God loves the Jews and the Gentiles alike and wants all to be saved if they believe.

Lesson Summary

 Romans 11:11 “I say then, Have they stumbled that they should fall? God forbid: but rather through their fall salvation is come unto the Gentiles, for to provoke them to jealousy.”

“Have they stumbled that they should fall?”  Referring to the unbelief of those early Jews and their rejection of Christ as the Messiah, as God’s plan of salvation – does this stumbling at this divine truth mean that this is the end for them?  Are they now a people that are done away with because they have no more purpose in God’s plan?  Has their fallen status become who they are to be permanently identified as?

“God forbid.”  Absolutely not!  God still has a divine plan and purpose in effect for His people Israel.  They may have initially rejected the Christ and transgressed against Him through their unbelief, but God was not completely done with them.

“But rather through their fall salvation is come unto the Gentiles, for to provoke them to jealousy.”  As noted in last week’s lesson, salvation was never supposed to be exclusive.  God’s chosen people were designed to be carriers of His truth and His revelation to the world – to be a witness to the world of His desired relationship with all mankind.

Due to their current unbelieving status, a doorway would now be opened for the “Gentiles” to have a shot at receiving “salvation.”  Acts 13 tells us what occurred when Paul and Barnabas were blasphemed against and contradicted by the Jews: “Then Paul and Barnabas waxed bold, and said, It was necessary that the word of God should first have been spoken to you: but seeing you put it from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, lo, we turn to the Gentiles,” (vs. 46).  Thus, the preaching of the gospel was on the move toward the Gentiles.

Does this mean all Gentiles will be saved at the Jews rejection of the Christ?  Again, absolutely not!  Regardless of ethnic background or regional heritage, all must come to Him in and through faith – Jew and Gentile alike.

While the Jews rejection of Christ opened a door of acceptance to the Gentiles, the Gentiles too would become a tool to touch the heart of the Jews, “to provoke them to jealousy.”  Deuteronomy 32:21 foretold, “They have moved me to jealousy with that which is not God; they have provoked me to anger . . . I will move them to jealousy with those which are not a people; I will provoke them to anger with a foolish nation,” (see also Romans 10:19).

Romans 11:12 “Now if the fall of them be the riches of the world, and the diminishing of them the riches of the Gentiles; how much more their fullness?”

If through their “fall” and “diminishing” the “world/Gentiles” become “rich” (spiritually so at the accepting of the rich gospel of Christ through faith), “how much more their fullness?”  Those who were not formerly considered to be blessed are now presented with the opportunity to be spiritually blessed.  Israel’s loss is the world’s gain (as some would note it today).

With the offering of Christ and all the blessings a child of God would receive now available to them – greater would be the spiritual riches when the hearts of the Jews are stirred toward the realm of faith in Christ Jesus, bringing them to their “fullness.”

Just imagine and compare the difference it would make.  How much more would their own faith (speaking of those future Jews), touch and turn others, causing a global domino effect of God’s blessings and the turning of people in faith as it ripples through this world?

It would be simply amazing.

Romans 11:13-14 “For I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify mine office: If by any means I may provoke to emulation them which are my flesh, and might save some of them.”

Lest they become haughty in their thinking, Paul directs his next line of thought directly to the Gentiles.  Careful heed should be taken given their now privileged position in Christ.  Paul, “the apostle of the Gentiles,” (compare to Acts 9:15), acting with authority to his calling, says, “I magnify my office.”

The Apostle Paul was the founding father of many churches located in Gentile nations.  His reputation of authority preceded him to the Roman church as well.  As their spiritual leader, he had no qualms in letting them know, “If by any means I may provoke to emulation them which are my flesh, and might save some of them.”

Paul may have been an apostle to the Gentiles, but he still had a heart for his own kinsmen.  In Romans 9 he carried, “great heaviness and continual sorrow” (vs. 2) in his heart for his fellow flesh that rejected Christ.  To the point where he stated, “I wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh,” (vs. 3).

His love for his own people never waned though his mission took him to others.  So, if there is some way for their hearts to be pricked to receive the gospel; to open themselves up to God’s truth of salvation through all of this – then, so be it.  He would be enamored with the idea.  To really know his feelings toward his people, think of your own family and the unsaved in it.  What if the similar would happen to cause them to accept Christ?  Wouldn’t you be overjoyed to see them come to salvation?  I would!

So, it is Paul’s hope that the Gentiles turning in faith would provoke his Jewish brethren that as many as will may be saved and brought back from the dead spiritually.  For another analogy, picture if you will in your mind an EMT bringing to recovery a loved one battled in a life or death crisis.  There is rejoicing.  There is joy over the recovering of said loved one.  The same with Paul.

As the Gentiles gained from their loss, oh what it would be if the provocation of such would awaken those Jewish sleeping souls to rise up and grab hold of Jesus for themselves, and “save some of them.”

Awesome!

Romans 11:15-21 “For if the casting away of them be the reconciling of the world, what shall the receiving of them be, but life from the dead?  For if the firstfruit be holy, the lump is also holy: and if the root be holy, so are the branches.  And if some of the branches be broken off, and thou, being a wild olive tree, wert graffed in among them, and with them partakest of the root and fatness of the olive tree; Boast not against the branches. But if thou boast, thou bearest not the root, but the root thee.  Thou wilt say then, The branches were broken off, that I might be graffed in.  Well; because of unbelief they were broken off, and thou standest by faith. Be not highminded, but fear:  For if God spared not the natural branches, take heed lest he also spare not thee.”

If their rejection and unbelief have given place for the door of the gospel to be opened to the rest of the world, how much more “shall the receiving of them be, but life from the dead?”  A national prodigal son story of restoration, if you will.  A people literally brought back to life, being spiritually resuscitated and restored once again.

Therefore, the one who has this privilege bestowed upon them, the Gentiles, should not “boast.”  It’s not of their own goodness (far from it – but, a work of grace) that caused God’s mercy to extend salvation beyond the spiritual borders of His chosen people.  Their disobedience [God’s chosen] made a way for the measure of reconciliation, through Christ, to be made available to all who believe.

Would it not benefit the Gentiles to remember from where they came; their “parent body” of faith to be saved, if you will?  “For if the firstfruit be holy, the lump is also holy: and if the root be holy, so are the braches.”

In speaking of the “firstfruit” Paul breaks down for them, the Gentiles, the importance of their faith and what role the Jews played in that.  In Numbers 15:20-21 we learn the importance of the word firstfruit where they would offer up in appreciation “the first of your dough.”  Not until that first portion was offered was it permissible to eat the rest.

Given that the first portion to be offered was considered “holy” (set apart and consecrated), the “lump,” the source of the original would also have to be viewed as holy once it was consecrated.  Thus, making those first-century Christians, who were Jews by birth, vital in the foundation of their faith as well.

“And if the root be holy, so are the branches.”  The root system of any tree supports the branches.  Whatever the root is or has is transferred to the branches that grow from it.

There are varying opinions on which the “root” here is referring.  Some cite the patriarchs, some says God, and some refer this verse to the first Jewish Christians.  I won’t argue either point here.  Regardless of whom it is actually speaking of the main point for the Gentiles believers (whom Paul is currently speaking to) is to realize they and their newfound faith are grounded in the “holy” which came before them.  Again, there was no need to be boastful and haughty in their current status in Christ.  Those that were before them are foundational in their faith now.

Therefore, they are instructed not to lift themselves up with a prideful spirit, as if they are now superior to those Jews who refused to believe.  For God can, at any moment, cut them off as well.  “For if God spared not the natural branches, take heed lest he also spare not thee.”

Some of those natural branches were disobedient in their unbelief to believe in the fulfilled promise of Christ.  Thus, they were “broken off.”  A great spiritual pruning had taken place and “some,” not all, of those branches that lack to produce spiritual fruit, were done away with while others were “graffed” in.

This does not mean that God has done away with the Jews as a whole (referring back to the introduction and beginning of the lesson).  Only some were broken off showing God still has a remnant of those that believe.  But the unbelieving Jews were taken out and believing Gentiles, “wild olive tree,” was put in to grow “among them” and “with them partakest of the root and the fatness of the olive tree.”  Tied into the natural tree, as the farmer of an orchard would add branches through the process of grafting, they too would produce spiritual fruit.

The Gentiles believers were always to remember “thou bearest not the root, but the root thee.”  The ones that were broken off were done so because of “unbelief.”  Those who are now grafted in are done so by faith.  Ethnicity didn’t cause the loss of the promise – unbelief did.  Ethnicity didn’t compel the gain of the promise – faith did.  Everything hinges on whether one believes or not.

Living a life of faith through Jesus Christ will gain one a future with God.  Hebrews 11:6 tells us beyond a shadow of a doubt that you cannot please God without faith.  The feet of faith walk forward believing God is, “and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him,” (Hebrews 11:6).  Faith in its highest form removes all worldly shackles.  Ethnicity, background, and prestige all fall away in the eyes of our Savior whose only view is that of an opened heart filled with belief.

Obtaining the promise of being grafted in is directly related to one’s “faith.”  A mind of humility and godly “fear” is to be had as opposed to boastfulness when one realizes the goodness of God.

Romans 11:22-24 “Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God: on them which fell, severity; but toward thee, goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off.  And they also, if they abide not still in unbelief, shall be graffed in: for God is able to graff them in again.  For if thou wert cut out of the olive tree which is wild by nature, and wert graffed contrary to nature into a good olive tree: how much more shall these, which be the natural branches, be graffed into their own olive tree?”

God’s “goodness” has now allowed access to those who formerly had none, and in His “severity” He has cut off some of those who were formerly allowed access from the promise.

Again, everything hinges on belief and unbelief.  Those who believe will experience the goodness of God and those who refuse Him, His severity.

The Bible says, “Good and upright is the LORD,” (Psalm 25:8).  It tells us, “For the LORD is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations,” (Psalm 100:5).  Over and over again we read of His goodness.  God wants to bless people.  He wants to see them thrive in the spirit, drawing nearer and nearer to Him.  Only the feet of faith will walk one there.

Unbelief is delusional and a robber of the goodness of God.  It separates one from where He wants them to be and through their lack of faith, they experience His severity (cut off).

How much are people missing out due to their lack of faith?  Apparently, a lot.  An eternal promise lies in the balance and faith is the key to enter.  “For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith,” (1 John 5:4; emphasis mine).

“If thou continue in his goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off.”  Initial faith is not enough.  One must continue in the faith to continue experiencing the goodness of God or else they too would be subject to losing out on the promise; being “cut off.”

The warning for the Gentile Christians is to take heed the path they walk lest they end up in the same destination as those Jewish people whose rejection of Christ led them away from the promise.  “Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away . . .” (John 15:2) – Jew or Gentile.

“God is able to graff them in again.”  If the Jewish heart that was once unbelieving has now turned to Him in faith, God is able to restore that branch back to the tree.  Their relationship with God can be healed.  God has not totally washed His hands of His chosen people, as some believe.  Any heart that turns to Him, Jews included, God, can bring back into His promise.  God specializes in restoration, healing relationships with Him “again.”

“For if thou wert cut out of the olive tree which is wild by nature, and wert graffed contrary to nature into a good olive tree: how much more shall these, which be the natural branches, be graffed into their own olive tree?”  By nature’s law one of one’s “own” is more easily and readily grafted in than a wild one, or one who doesn’t originally belong.

Some packs of animals carry a specific scent for their particular pack.  One who does not bear the same scent would have a harder time being accepted into the pack.  We see a similar example in the human body with organ transplants.  It is so wonderful that God has allowed science to take on such a procedure, but parts that are trying to be incorporated in could suffer rejection because they were not naturally a part of that particular body.

If Gentiles, who were not of the natural olive tree (who weren’t originally God’s chosen people; who didn’t have God’s ordinances and such) can be grafted in – how much easier for the Jews who hearts have been turned to a life of faith (those who bore the markings of the natural)?

Conclusion

God welcomes all to partake of His promises – Jew and Gentile alike.  He can graft any believing heart into the family of God when they operate with a heart of faith.

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 – Grafted in by Faith

Suggested Activities:

“How to Graft a Fruit Tree Video”

Adult Journal Page:  Adult Journal Page – Grafted in by Faith

Kid’s Journal Page: Kid’s Journal Page – Grafted in by Faith

Word Search: Grafted in by Faith Word Seach Answers: Grafted in by Faith Word Search Answers

Crossword: Grafted in by Faith Crossword Answers: Grafted in by Faith Crossword Answers

Word Scramble: Grafted in by Faith Word Scramble Answers: Grafted in by Faith Word Scramble Answers

Draw the Scene: Grafted in by Faith Draw the Scene

Memory Verse: Grafted in by Faith Memory Verse

How Many Words: Grafted in by Faith How Many Words

From previous lessons, but can be applied here as being grafted in as a child of God or in the family of God:

“I Am a Child of Faith” Necklace Craft: I Am a Child of Faith Necklace Craft (Use this PDF for accurate printing) Simply have the student draw their portrait on the necklace, bead any way they want and there you go.  Enjoy!

Coloring Sheet: Not the Same but Loved by God Coloring Sheet

“The Family of God Activities” from Sermons4kids.com(Including group activities such as “Available Grace to All” and “Child of God Headband.”)  Enjoy!

“Adopted into God’s family” from Ministry-To-Children

 

Sunday School Lesson – “Children of God, by Faith” Galatians 3:26-4:7

Photo from Pixabay by geralt

VERSE DISCOVERY: Galatians 3:26-4:7 (KJV, Public Domain)

The book of Galatians has long been a favorite of mine.  In it, we see the freedom Christ secured for us really come to the forefront.  We see within its pages grace winning out over laws and rituals.  Held in the words thereof is the promise that no matter our background, race, sex, or whatever – if we are in Christ, then we are members of the family of God by faith and heirs according to the promise.

The Apostle Paul was taken aback at how soon those in the church of Galatia had allowed others in the form of false teachers infect the faith they had in Jesus Christ (see Galatians 1:6) and he testified before them that the gospel he preached; those blessed words of faith he delivered unto them was not because they were taught to him or received from man, but it was by an actual revelation of Jesus Christ (see Galatians 1:11-12).

After giving a brief testimony of his own previous dealings regarding his former religion which he was so zealous for and how he persecuted the church, he stated that he too was called by grace (see Galatians 1:13-14).  Paul then went on to teach that even though he and his fellow countrymen may be Jews by nature, they too have to believe in Jesus Christ “that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified (Galatians 2:15-16).

The prevailing issue coming from these false teachers which Paul wrote to instruct of revolved around the idea of circumcision.  In the Old Testament, we read that God entered a covenant relationship with Abraham.  One of the particulars of that relationship was that all males be circumcised on the eighth day (see Genesis 17:9-14).  This was under their old order of rule keeping and rituals that are not found in an active relationship through Jesus Christ.

Some men called Judaizers (false teachers) attempted to add works of the flesh and law (such as the issue of circumcision and other like measures) to the finished work of the Spirit performed through Christ.  These men argued that grace was not enough in order for a Greek (Gentile) to be saved.   They must first follow all the steps of protocol that Moses laid out in his law, including circumcision, in order to be a true Christian.

That, my friends, is a total contradiction of the very word of grace itself which speaks of God’s unmerited favor. When something is “unmerited” it is, by definition, undeserved, meaning there is nothing one can do to gain the favor of it or earn it themselves.

Paul taught at one point in the book of Acts saying, “And by him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses,” (13:39).  If the law and adherence to those rituals could have saved mankind once and for all, then Jesus Christ would have never needed to come to this earth, be born a babe in a manger just to die on that old rugged cross bearing the sins of the world.  Earlier in Galatians, we read that Christ already did the work that redeemed us and freed us from the curse: “Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law…” (Galatians 3:13).  Therefore, Paul is writing this letter to set the record straight.

Lesson Summary

Galatians 3:26-29 “For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.”

The disputes that came by way of those Judaizers left confusion in the Galatian’s spiritual pathway of faith.  In the verse just prior to these above Paul states, “But after that faith is come we are no longer under a schoolmaster,” (Galatians 3:25) giving a final answer to his telling of the purpose of the law before moving to today’s subject.

Faith is the key.  Coming to Jesus with all our wrongs and trusting Him to heal and forgive is a walk of faith no matter where you or your family hails from.  “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God,” (Ephesians 2:8).  Now, that one has received that gift of God, that gift of salvation, they are “all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.” 

When Jesus transformed their lives with His saving blood they have been renewed, changed, and adopted into the family of God.  They have shed off the old garments of self, sin, and following the course of the world and the dictates of evil and the flesh and have “put on Christ.”  A great exchange took place then and takes place now in the individual that turns to Jesus in faith.

Please note: It is noted, “For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.”   Baptism symbolized the shedding off of the old life and the taking on of the new; it stood for the remission of their sins (see Acts 2:38). In it, they were identifying with Christ.

Thus, through their faith, they aligned themselves with Christ.  Why now do they wish to add unprofitable rituals such as circumcision in the mix?  Although they may be “Greek” (Gentile) by birth, they are Christians by rebirth.  To be a Christian is to be of Christ with no added ingredients to the mix.

Paul recognized this and earlier taught, “That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith,” (Galatians 3:14). Freedom came by way of the promise that was laid out before the law (read Galatians 3:14-18).  This was now a faith walk and there is no difference in God’s eyes who gets to walk it. To Him “there is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.  And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.”

God does not focus on one’s ethnic background to decide if they are right to be called His.  He doesn’t let their social status, gender, or anything that man may try to discriminate against or use as a counterbalance of some pre-prescribed acceptance.  In a culture where most were judged on these divisive measures, this was good news indeed.

Since God doesn’t make a difference between the two, there is no need to make the Gentiles adhere to traditions that would make them Jews first. They didn’t need to become Jewish for God to save them.  God was saving them right where they are through faith in Jesus Christ.

And, because of that, they are now “one in Christ Jesus.”  There is no delineation in God’s family.  They are a unified people under Him, secured in their relationship in Christ.  Everyone who believes in Him and has accepted Him as their Savior is now participants in His promise.  We read, “If ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.”

An heir, by nature, is one who receives an inheritance or entitlement.  Notice the word “seed” does not have an “s” on it.  There is one seed identified with Abraham to whom the promise comes through and that is Jesus Christ (see Galatians 3:16).  In Galatians 3:19 we see the law being in effect until the “seed should come to whom the promise was made.”  Those who come under that seed, who come through “Christ” are now privileged to be considered also as “Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.”  Other portions of Scripture support this by saying, “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name,” (John 1:12; see also Ephesians 3:6 and 1 John 3:1).

Therefore, the need for circumcision in order to become a member of the family of God is not an issue and one is not to predicate their salvation on it or any other measures of the law.  As a matter of fact, to set the record straight Paul taught in Romans 4:11 of Abraham regarding the covenant of circumcision that, “He received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had yet being uncircumcised: that he might be the father of all them that believe, though they be not circumcised; that righteousness might be imputed unto them also.”  In other words, circumcision was just a sign of the relationship of faith that Abraham already had with God before he was circumcised thereby making him “the father of all them that believe.”

God is looking for a faith relationship found only in His Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, as a marker of who is and is not a child of God.  The Galatians need not worry about adhering to or adding stipulations of the law (such as circumcision) to declare they are His children.

Galatians 4:1-5 “Now I say, That the heir, as long as he is a child, differeth nothing from a servant, though he be lord of all; But is under tutors and governors until the time appointed of the father.  Even so we, when we were children, were in bondage under the elements of the world: But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.”

To further delve into his “heir” description, Paul takes a scenario from life they would see play out around them and connects it to the spiritual truth we have in Him.

A young “child” does not possess the knowledge and the wherewithal to control and make impactful decisions regarding an estate that would be laid up for his future.  As a member of the family and inheritor of all, he still had to wait until he was of proper age and understanding before the keys, so to speak, of all could be placed solely in his hands.

While he was still growing in understanding during his upbringing he would be placed “under tutors and governors until the time appointed of the father.”  Until his father saw that the mature and complete time that his son would be able to take on the responsibility of the upkeep of all he had come, the son was placed under these individuals, similar to that of a “servant,” to teach him the ins and outs, the rights and wrongs of everything.

The law acted the same way.  “The law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith,” (Galatians 3:24).  And, when God deemed the time to be right, “God sent forth his Son, made of a woman…” 

For centuries the children of Israel waited for the appearing of the Messiah.  At the perfect point in history God sent Jesus Christ just as He had promised (see Gen. 3:15, 12:3; 2 Sam. 12-13; Is. 7:14 – just to name a few).  Tracked down the path of forty-two generation (Matthew 1:1-17), He came to be the Savior of the world.  God’s timing for everything is perfect and the events that ushered Jesus into the world to bring us to this life of faith were and are fully supported by Him.

God left no stone unturned about how the ins and outs of this plan of His coming would come into effect.  God takes eternity seriously.  His goal is to see that as many spiritual children are made heirs of that promise as possible which is fulfilled through our Savior Jesus Christ.

When Jesus was born physically on this earth He was “made of a woman, made under the law.”  Jesus came into this world fully human and fully divine.  As a human, although He was the Son of God, He willingly put Himself under the same constraints of the law as any other Jewish human (see Matthew 5:17).

“To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.”  But unlike other humans, Jesus’ purpose on earth for being under the law was to “redeem them that were under the law.”  “For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh,” (8:3; see also John 1:14).  Through His death on the cross, He overcame sin, which the law was unable to permanently do, and for those who believe in Him they are now justified (see Acts 13:39 and Galatians 2:16).   They have been redeemed and made heirs of the promise, “adoption of sons,” without those previously discussed works of the law such as circumcision.

Galatians 4:6-7 “And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father. Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.”

Because of what Jesus did, and because those who made that decision that they needed Christ as their Savior accepted Him as their own, their status in this world has changed from being mere men and woman to being considered as “sons” of God, or children of God.  They have received of His “Spirit” by faith. 

The Bible supports this in other verses telling us, “In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise, Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory,” (Ephesians 1:13-14).  The Holy Spirit is the guarantee of our inheritance in Him.  Not circumcision or other outwardly rituals.  As a child of God, we are covered and endowed by His Spirit.  His Spirit didn’t come because of circumcision but because the gospel was heard and responded to through belief.

Thus, our relationship with God blesses us to be able to cry out to Him, “Abba, Father.”  As carriers of the Spirit of His Son in our hearts we are now a child of God, not a “servant,” and as such we are able to call out to our heavenly Father because we are in Him (see also Romans 8:15); because there is a heavenly bond between God and those that are His.  And, since we are now considered “a son” we are “then an heir of God through Christ”; children of God, by faith! 

Conclusion

Everybody has the same opportunity to be saved. There are no barriers. There are no walls except the ones we build ourselves. His gift of salvation is available to all. You just have to accept it for yourself.

Remember, “Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree: That the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith,” (Galatians 3:13-14).  Therefore, making us children of God, by faith.

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 – Children of God by Faith

Suggested Activities:

“Child of God Object Lesson” from Preaching.com

Kid’s Journal Page: Kid’s Journal Page – Child of God

Adult Journal Page: Adult Journal Page – Child of God

Draw the Scene: Children of God by Faith Draw the Scene

Memory Verse: Children of God by Faith Memory Verse

How Many Words: Children of God by Faith How Many Words

Playing Dough People: Supply assorted colors of moldable dough for students to make different people showing there is diversity in the children of God. (Many other resources can be found by doing an online search). 

Word Search: Children of God by Faith Word Search Answers: Children of God by Faith Word Search Answers

 

Crossword: Children of God by Faith Crossword Answers: Children of God by Faith Crossword Answers

Word Scramble: Children of God by Faith Word Scramble Answers: Children of God by Faith Word Scramble Answers

“The Family of God”  from Sermons4Kids.com (Printable activities, coloring page, and group activities including “Child of God Headband” and “Faith Envelope.”)

“One in Christ Coloring Page for Older Students” from AbdaActs

“Galatians Coloring Page” from Ministry-To-Children

“Adopted into God’s Family Lesson and Ideas” from Ministry-To-Children

“Child of God Printable Activities” from DLTK

“God’s Adopted Children” from Sermons4kids.com (Printable activities, coloring page, and group activities including “Family Collage 4 Heaven” and “Adoption Papers.”  Enjoy!)

“All the Children of the World” from Sermons4kids.com (A great object lesson using eggs, not to mention printables, coloring, and group activities that really engage students in this lesson.  Enjoy!)

 

Sunday School Lesson – “Made Righteous in Christ” Romans 3:21-31

Photo by Gift Habeshaw on Unsplash

VERSE DISCOVERY: Romans 3:21-31 (KJV, Public Domain)

Since “all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God,” (Romans 3:23; discussed further in this lesson), then how can one ever be truly justified by a holy and righteous God?

The answer is a simple one although it is not always simply accepted: Jesus Christ.  Through His sacrificial atoning of our sins, He changed our former status into one who now becomes righteous in the eyes of our righteous God, Paul explains in this lesson.

The Righteousness of God

Romans 3:21-22 “But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference:”

Although the Apostle Paul did not plant the Church in Rome as he had in other cities, he still took a fatherly-leadership role in helping this church to thrive to be all that God calls them to be.

He prayed for them and desired to visit them (1:1-15), but in the meantime, he wrote this letter to encourage and instruct them on the matter of salvation, God’s righteousness, and how we as sinners, can be made righteous in the eyes of God.

After establishing his fearless zeal in wanting to preach the gospel to them, for in it, he knows, “the righteousness of God” is revealed (1:15-17), which is really the main focus of this letter, Paul continues on discussing what all this means.

God’s righteousness can be described as everything just and right and holy.  God is right, there is no other way to put it.  What He does is right.  Always.  His ways are higher than ours and they are above reproach (Isaiah 55:8-9).  Opposite that is the “ungodliness and unrighteousness of men” (Romans 1:18).

Since the Fall in the garden, mankind has been corrupted by sin.  Since that day, when the age of innocence has passed off the scene, mankind has been subjected to the “wrath of God” (1:18), “Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God” (1:21).  They, mankind, are accused of changing the glory of God (1:23) and the truth of God (1:25) to follow after sinful ways.  Although creation itself testifies to the power of God (1:20), Paul sums up the ungodly truth of sinful man by saying, “Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.” (Romans 1:32).

God’s judgment is against ALL SIN and He will render to “every man according to his deeds,” (2:6).  It doesn’t matter who they are, Jew or Gentile.  It doesn’t matter if they have been raised in the Law or not (2:11-15).  Anything that one can boast in outside of faith in Jesus Christ will profit nothing in that coming day (more on this later).

The law cannot justify one before God.  The law, and it’s following the adherence thereof, cannot earn one true salvation.  The law’s purpose was to bring about “the knowledge of sin,” (3:20), but it could never erase sin for good and make people righteous before God.

Then Paul introduces a “but now” moment that begins to explain how the “righteousness of God” is “manifested.”  This “but now” introduces the wonderful realization that mankind is not left to drift in the world of sin without help; without an anchor to steady and save them.  There is a way for them to receive “the righteousness of God” and it is “by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe.”

In Christ, lies that hope to be justified before the Father, accomplishing something the law never could do.  “For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit,” (Romans 8:3-4).

In the work of the cross of Christ, salvation is available for them that believe.  Jesus Christ is the only answer to heal mankind from their dreaded sinfulness and to make them right before a holy and just God, “upon all them that believe.”

It doesn’t matter who they are, where they’re from, or what they’ve done: “there is not difference.”  Any and all who turn to Jesus Christ by faith can be saved.  The answer to all our sins’ woes is fulfilled in what Christ accomplished on the cross (compare Romans 10:12).

All Have Sinned and Need to be Justified

Romans 3:23-26 “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.”

Just as there is no difference in who can receive the righteousness of God by faith in Christ, there is no difference in who can be categorized as a sinner in need of this grace, in need of redemption, “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.”  Everyone who ever was and ever will be needs to be saved by the redemptive blood of Christ.  No one measures up to God’s standard on their own.  We all need Jesus!

It is through Him, where one can be “justified freely by his grace.”  The word “justifies” signals the “being made right before God” part, while “grace” speaks of the undeserving mercy we receive in that.  Our guilt had us bound, but Jesus set us free through “redemption,” by redeeming us.  He paid the cost.  He “gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time,” (1 Timothy 2:6).  So that our eternity could be secured before the Father, He “freely” satisfied the demand against mankind’s sin.

Jesus became our eternal sacrifice that atoned for our sins once and for all: “Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood.”  The Bible declares and attests to this truth in other areas, saying, “Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins,” (1 John 4:10).  The word “propitiation” in both of these verses speak of Christ’s complete, atoning sacrifice.  “His blood” was shed that we might be made free (compare Hebrews 10:4).  Christ died for our sins.  Our justification is not a human invention.  God “set forth” Christ and the plan of salvation through Christ.

“To declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past.”  Not only today are our past sins taken care of, but the yesterday and the yesteryear sins of sinners are taken care of for all who believe, both before the cross and after the cross (compare Ephesians 1:7; Hebrews 9:15)!  Hallelujah!  The “past,” and those in the past, have been covered by the cross, also!  The cross, and what Jesus did on the cross, is enough to satisfy and uphold the demands of God’s “righteousness” against the sin and sinners of today, yesterday, and forevermore.  Nothing else is needed.  It has already been proven that nothing else will do (read Hebrews 9:12-14).

“Through the forbearance of God.”  God’s own “righteousness” (above), which is the very “habitation of His throne” (Psalm 97:2), is shown in His willingness and longsuffering to withhold final actions upon mankind’s sin as a whole before the time of the cross.  At the time of His death, all sin, past, present, and future, were placed upon our Savior as He hung on that cross.  It’s what one does with the revelation of the cross for their own life that makes the difference.  This is what one will be judged by.

God has always been fair in His actions toward humanity, sinful though they may be.  He gives everyone time and space to repent: “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance,” (2 Peter 3:9).  But, as we know, all will not come to repentance.  The time of ignorance is over and there is an appointed day for the judgment for all, past, present, and future (Acts 17:30-31).

But, for the one that “believeth in Jesus,” God justifies.  Because of what Christ did, and because of our belief and acceptance of what Christ did as our Savior, God credits that to our account as righteousness.  God declares them/us right and justified!  Mankind, any person in human history outside of Jesus Christ, is far from perfect and right in the eyes of God.  But, when one believes in Jesus, for all He accomplished on the cross and accepts that sacrifice for their life; when God looks at that person, He no longer sees them and their wrongs.  He sees Jesus and His right, and He is the one that declares them now to be righteous.

By Faith, Jesus is Enough

Romans 3:27-31 “Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith.  Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.  Is he the God of the Jews only? is he not also of the Gentiles? Yes, of the Gentiles also: Seeing it is one God, which shall justify the circumcision by faith, and uncircumcision through faith.  Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law.”

Because everything is based solely on what Christ has done, and because it is only God who is able to aptly justify one, what right does anyone have for “boasting”?  They don’t!  That’s the plain and simple truth. No one can make themselves righteous.  No “law” could declare one righteous.  Nor, could any “works” (compare Ephesians 2:9).  Salvation is not something that can be earned.  It is something we are blessed with through “faith.”

Instead of being a source of contention, this should be a relief, for salvation does not depend on what a person can do perfectly, it only depends on what Christ has already done perfectly.  Only the self-righteous would find some kind of joy in trying to pat themselves on the back for a job well-done in trying to get to heaven for all eternity on their own accord or by their own works.  But self-righteousness won’t get you or me there.  Only those who are found Christ-righteous will enter in.

Therefore, “boasting” is kicked to the curb.  “Boasting” is a symbol of pride.  “Boasting” glorifies self and what self can accomplish on its own.  But salvation, I repeat, is NOT something that people can accomplish on their own.  Everyone needs forgiveness and reconciliation through Jesus Christ!  “No flesh shall glory in his presence,” (1 Corinthians 1:29).  National heritage, religious pride, or any other reason one may exalt themselves believing them worthy of this great gift by what they have done or do – all of that is made null and void before the perfect sacrifice of Christ.  For it is ONLY “by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God,” (Ephesians 2:8).

True salvation requires true “faith” in the right source, and we are not it, nor were the receivers of this letter in the Roman church.  What self can do is not it.  The gospel tells the story and the way of that right source who is Christ our Lord.  He is it!  Any other way outside of Christ is “excluded.” 

“Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law,” Paul said.  The reality of this truth permeates Paul’s letter to the Roman Christians.  Prior to reaching the text of study in this lesson, in verse 20 of this same chapter, Paul writes, “Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight…”  Later in Romans, he will write, “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,” (Romans 5:1).  Here, he is declaring exactly what Christ’s sacrifice on the cross accomplished for the sin-sick soul.  He justified us and made us right with the Father (Romans 5:1).  None of this was based on our own efforts or human goodness.  Our new position in Christ was and is solely based on the sacrificial love of Christ that propelled Him through any hurt and pain He was personally feeling to think outside of Himself and see a world of humanity drowning in an ocean of wayward disobedience and rebellion leading them to a lost path of which there is no return unless their souls be saved!

Because of what He did, we now have “access by faith into this grace” and we have a reason to “rejoice in hope of the glory of God,” (Romans 5:2).  With His blood, He bought the key that would give us an open door to our heavenly Father.  And, with everything we face, our end reward is hope (Romans 5:3-5).

He, Jesus, did it all for us and our job is to whole-heartedly accept it, accept His work, accept His sacrifice “by faith.”  Those words, “by faith”, “through faith”, “the law of faith”, and other references to faith appears no less than thirty-seven times in the book of Romans alone.  The “law”, and the works of the law couldn’t do it (compare Acts 13:38-39).  “For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it written, The just shall live by faith,” (Romans 1:17).  It’s a faith thing!

And, this is God’s plan for all.  It’s not just for the “Jews” or for the “Gentiles.”  There is only “one God” with one plan of salvation for all to accept: faith in what Jesus Christ has already done.

Does this make the law “void”?  Absolutely not!  Through Christ, God fulfilled the law.  The law was “established”.  Before His death, Jesus plainly stated, “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil,” (Matthew 5:17).  In Him, the requirements of the law were fully and completely satisfied.  Therefore, God is just when He makes one righteous through Christ because, in Christ, all the law is fulfilled.  By faith, Jesus is enough!

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 – Made Righteous in Christ

Suggested Activities:

Object Lessons from Better Bible Teachers

“Balloon and Rock: The Weight of Sin Object Lesson” from Ministry-To-Children

Games about Salvation from Classroom

Adult Journal Page: Adult Journal Page – Redeemed

Kid’s Journal Page: Kid’s Journal Page – Jesus Saves

Blank Journal Pages: Blank Adult and Kid’s Journal Pages

Draw the Scene: Made Righteous in Christ Draw the Scene

Word Search: Made Righteous in Christ Word Search Answers: Made Righteous in Christ Word Search Answers

Crossword: Made Righteous in Christ Crossword Answers: Made Righteous in Christ Crossword Answers

Word Scramble: Made Righteous in Christ Word Scramble Answers: Made Righteous in Christ Word Scramble Answers

“Memory Verse Activities for Any Lesson” from Calvary Curriculum

“Memory Activities for Sunday School” from SundaySchoolSources.com

“Sketching Bible Memory Verse” from Ministry-To-Children

“Jesus Can Set Us Right Activity Page” from Ministry-To-Children

“Bible Verse Game for Romans 3:32” from Scripture Lady

Explaining Justification from Jelly Telly Parents

Romans 3:32 Coloring Page from HomeschoolRoundup.com

 

Sunday School Lesson – “Hosanna to the King!” Mark 11:1-11

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

At one point, before his death, John the Baptist sent men to Jesus and asked, “Art thou he that should come, or do we look for another?” (Matthew 11:3).  This questioning was spawned because of the mighty “works of Christ” (Matthew 11:2) that were performed and proclaimed throughout the region.

Not only did the works He performed bear witness of who He was (John 10:25), Jesus often identified Himself with the Deity of heaven; as being one with the Father Himself (see John 10:30; John 1:1; John 14:9).

The hope of the people has been in a state of expectation since the days of old.  They have heard of the prophecies, such as the one Zechariah proclaimed, saying, “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King cometh unto thee: he is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass,” (Zechariah 9:9).

They were waiting for this time of celebration that was prophesied hundreds of years before the actual event took place. A time when God’s people would ring out their worship of their one true King. At His coming joy will go before Him for His proposed reign. People will raise their voices with heartfelt praise and adoration of Him who has come to save them.

Unfortunately, when He came, most were not looking for a Savior from sin, rather one who would free them of the national tyranny of their oppressors. The people at that time were more focused on their present circumstances over their eternal destinies.  This will rob you of seeing Jesus for who He really is every single time.

It was prophesied that this King would be “just.” His rule would be governed by truth. It’s how He lived and how He died; according to God’s truth. He declared in Matthew 5:18 “For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.” He pressed on to fulfill truth so that His reign would be marked and identified as being “just.” He would do all that is right according to God’s holy Word.

This King would also be known as “having salvation.” He would bear within Himself the means to save mankind from the ravages of sin and disparity brought on by their fleshly stance in this world. The Bible declares, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” (Romans 3:23). Therefore, all of mankind needed and still needs a Savior; one who can bring them out of the depths of his/her evil state. Acts 4:12 lets us know, “Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” This King comes with our “salvation.”

At His entrance, He comes in a state opposite of most royalty and the elite of society. This King is prophesied to come “lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass.” A humble creature of burden becomes transportation of Him who would bear all of humanities burdens and sins.

I think it important to reiterate here that our King was “lowly.” We sing songs praising that wonderful characteristic of His, but do we really understand how much He humbled Himself to come and do what He did for us? Do we understand that He could have arrived with all the pomp and circumstance of heaven, but He arrived in an animal’s dwelling, with no proper place to lay His head? Do we understand how many times He could have shut the mouth of those who rose against Him and accused Him, but He took it all on Himself as part of His mission; His ministry to save mankind? Do we really understand how much He took off to put on the dregs of humanity? Do we understand? He was “lowly.”

By entering the town on that day in that way, Jesus was letting all the world know that He was that prophesied King.  That yes, if anybody wants to know, He is the One whom they have been looking for.

This is where we find ourselves studying today: Jesus’ triumphal entry. 

 Lesson Summary

Mark 11:1-3 “And when they came night to Jerusalem, unto Bethphage and Bethany, at the mount of Olives, he sendeth forth two of his disciples, And saith unto them, Go your way into the village over against you: and as soon as ye be entered into it, ye shall find a colt tied, whereon never man sat; loose him, and bring him. And if any man say unto you, Why do ye this? say ye that the Lord hath need of him; and straightway he will send him hither.”

Before we arrive at today’s lesson, Matthew 20 tells us that Jesus once again tried to prepare His disciples for the reality of what was soon to take place:

“Now Jesus, going up to Jerusalem, took the twelve disciples aside on the road and said to them,

“Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be betrayed to the chief priests and to the scribes; and they will condemn Him to death,

And deliver Him to the Gentiles to mock and to scourge and to crucify. And the third day He will rise again,” (Matthew 20:17-19; see also Mark 10:32:34).

Here, in the above verses, with what I believe was still clueless disciples, Jesus is drawing “nigh to Jerusalem.” The King is about to make His entrance but before doing so He gives His disciples very explicit details to follow to make sure when He comes in there is no mistake to the reign He claims.

As a matter of fact, fulfilling every prophecy that was spoken of Him was so imperative that later He wouldn’t die until He could finally say, “It is finished,” (John 19:30).

God’s prophets such as Zechariah were His spokesmen. They have been used down through Israel’s history to pass onto the people the word of God. To warn, exhort and exalt them to draw closer to Him through their prophecies. When God used a prophet as His mouthpiece, the words that come from them are as valid as if they heard it from His own being, thundering upon the mountains. Since what they spoke was on His behalf, He had to make sure everything: past, present, and future would be fulfilled as it was told to the people down through the years.

They were told exactly how their King would arrive and Jesus was careful to make sure there would be no mistaking who He claimed to be when He arrived in Jerusalem in such a fashion. His arrival mounted on that beast would offer them visual evidence. Any Jew would have known that when they see Him on a “colt the foal of an ass,” as Zechariah stated; or just using the word “colt” as this lesson states, He was claiming His Kingship; He was claiming His Lordship; He was claiming His Messiahship.

With that, the instructions He gives is for them to, “Go your way into the village over against you: and as soon as ye be entered into it, ye shall find a colt tied, whereon never man sat; loose him, and bring him.” It is supposed by many Bible students that Jesus had a prearranged agreement with the owners of the animals that He sent them for. With that supposition, He knew (which He could have known because of His Sovereignty if He wanted to) exactly where to send them and how to instruct them on searching out what He already planned. When they arrived and found the ones He said, His command was “loose him, and bring him.” The reason is stated for us, and for the owner’s is in the next verse.

If anyone dared to question what the disciples were doing and what was their intent and purposes of loosing the animal, Jesus gave them a simple reply to relay: “The Lord hath need of him.” He was set aside for the Master’s use. He was needed by Jesus. How privileged was this little guy that would carry the “Lord;” the Savior of the world, on his back. Awesome!

Never had anyone rode him before this day.  Jesus’ specific instructions included that he be one that “never a man sat.”  It amazes me what our Christ can do with the unused; what He can do with the unskilled and rough around the edges. This donkey is not known by name to us, but we know him as part of the Messiah’s royal parade forever in history.  Even more awesome!

Mark 11:4-6 “And they went their way, and found the colt tied by the door without in a place where two ways met; and they loose him.  And certain of them that stood there said unto them, What do ye, loosing the colt?  And they said unto them even as Jesus had commanded: and they let them go.”

“And they went their way, and found the colt… and they loose him.”  They may have not understood everything right away, nor did they fully grasp that Jesus was fully preparing Himself to die that He might reign (though He often tried to get that point across to them), but they didn’t question Him. They didn’t try to dissuade Him from His task; rather they obeyed.

Their obedience is a key component. Let’s put this in full perspective.  They knew the authorities of the day were plotting against Him to seek to take His life. The Triumphal Entry of Jesus is also found in the Book of John chapter 12. In chapter 11 of that same book, before this moment in time, when Jesus was determined to go to Bethany (about 1½ miles outside of Jerusalem) to raise Lazarus from the dead, seeing that He couldn’t be dissuaded, Thomas, one of the disciples, said, “Let us also go, that we may die with Him.” So, when He instructed them in the matter of the “colt” they are noted as doing what Jesus told them to do despite any fears on misgivings they may have felt at that moment.

Following His orders did indeed get them questioned by others, but they once again followed the path of obedience and “they said unto them even as Jesus had commanded.” 

Mark 11:7 “And they brought the colt to Jesus, and cast their garments on him; and he sat upon him.”

I don’t know about you, but I have ridden a horse bareback before. The experience was not pleasant, to say the least. Here, the disciples provide comfort for the Lord as He mounts the beast set aside for His use. In lieu of a saddle, they pad the back of the beast with “their garments.”

We often hear people use expressions of love and service to another by saying things like, “I will give them the clothes off my back.” Jesus’ disciples didn’t talk about it, they did it. They literally gave Him the “clothes” off their backs to comfort the ride of the King. Oh, how much this must have meant to the Lord who would soon come before angry faces and hearts filled with hatred.  But, at this moment, He gets to feel and experience support from those closest to Him.

Mark 11:8-10 “And many spread their garments in the way: and others cut down branches off the trees, and strawed them in the way.  And they that went before, and they that followed, cried, saying, Hosanna; Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord.  Blessed be the kingdom of our father David, that cometh in the name of the Lord: Hosanna in the highest.”

Can we picture this scene really quick? As Jesus was entering in Jerusalem on that colt, word had to have rapidly spread for not just the disciples were celebrating the King, “many” and “others” joined in. Matthew 21:8 referred to them as “multitudes.”

Did they recognize the symbolism? Did they associate His entrance as the long-awaited promised One; of He that was prophesied of? We are working under the assumption that those questions can be answered with a very real, “Yes!”

Again, His reign to free men from sin instead of tyranny may not be what they had imagined at the time, but they understood who He claimed to be by how He rode into Jerusalem, fulfilling prophecy. Therefore, they willingly and with great rejoicing (as was also prophesied) wanted to be a part of the celebration. The King was coming and they “spread their garments in the way” and “cut down branches off the trees” to cover the path He would travel. What a small service for such a great King!

They honored Him with their “Hosanna” shout. They rallied and proclaimed the praises of Him who would save them, for that’s the meaning behind the word “Hosanna;” to “save now.”

“Hosanna” was the shout of triumph. In Him, they saw a victorious King. In Him, they had an expectancy of deliverance. In Him they rejoiced, proclaiming that He is the one who would fulfill the promise of “the kingdom of our father David,” (see 2 Samuel 7:12-14).

So, they rejoiced and shouted that He was, “Blessed.”  His “kingdom” is “blessed.” He is the one that “cometh in the name of the Lord!” They were getting their praise on as we say it today! The King has arrived! The King has come! “Blessed is he!”

In Matthew 21:10 it says of that day that “all the city was moved.”  Often when Jesus performed miracles crowds would gather around Him to witness the power of God at work through Him. Here, there is no miracle performed; rather prophecy, long-awaited prophecy being fulfilled. Emotions were running high and people gathered and were excited to see it coming to pass right before their eyes; right in their time of living. When was the last time you were so stirred up about Jesus?  They had a reason to be shaken with excitement saying, “Hosanna in the highest!”

Mark 11:11 “And Jesus entered into Jerusalem, and into the temple: and when he had looked round about upon all things, and now the eventide was come, he went out unto Bethany with the twelve.”

An anti-climactic end to such a triumphal entry?  Oh, no!  After identifying Himself as King by riding in the way that He did, Jesus “entered… into the temple,” and soon some things were going to change!  It was about to get real up in that place, as some would say.

If you would read further past our lesson, Mark 11:15-17 shows us the second cleansing of the temple Jesus performed (this is also support by Matthew 21:12-13).  There He turned over tables and proclaimed, “Is it not written, My house shall be called of all nations the house of prayer? but ye have made it a den of thieves,” (Mark 11:17).

This King wasn’t playing with His ministry!  He was triumphant at the beginning, middle and end of His parade, and He still commands the victory as He is cleaning out His Father’s house.  Only the true King, with true authority, can command and operate the way He does.

Conclusion

Jesus is He that was to come; the King to reign for all eternity.  Let us shout his praises: “Hosanna in the highest!”  There’s no need to look for another.  He’s the One!

Lesson PDF: Sunday School Lesson – Hosanna to the King

Suggested Activities:

Adult Journal Page: Adult Journal Page – Hosanna to the King

Kid’s Journal Page: Kid’s Journal Page – Hosanna to the King

Draw the Scene: Hosanna to the King Draw the Scene

(Use the PDF link above for accurate printing) Want to jazz up this memory verse?  Try printing on cardstock and using glue with glitter to fill in the words, colored chalk, paints and more.  You’re only limited by your imagination.  Enjoy!

HOSANNA PALM LEAF CRAFT: Hosanna Palm Leaf for Palm Sunday (Use this PDF link for accurate printing)  Have students decorate and color their free palm leaf (printing on cardstock is best) and tape or glue to a craft stick (makes a great church fan 🙂 ) or dowel rod or twigs from outside for a natural element so they too can wave them before the Lord with rejoicing.  I wanted mine to be colorful, not just all green.  Jazz it up! After all, it is a celebration.  Enjoy!

PhotoGrid_1426985631285

Hosanna Palm Leaf for Palm Sunday-001

 

Leaf Lace Up Craft:   Use PDF: Mark 11 9 Leaf Lace Up Craft to put together this simple, yet fun activity.  Print out on cardstock and use a hole punch to put holes around the free leaf template.  Use any materials you have laying around for lacing: yarn, string, pipe cleaners, etc.  I used crumbled up party streamers.  Go figure!  Enjoy! (Similar project shown below)

My Project 320-001

Mark 11 9 Leaf Lace Up Craft-001

How Many Words: Hosanna to the King How Many Words

Word Search: Hosanna to the King Word Search Answers: Hosanna to the King Word Search Answers

Crossword: Hosanna to the King Crossword Answers: Hosanna to the King Crossword Answers

Word Scramble: Hosanna to the King Word Scramble Answers: Hosanna to the King Word Scramble Answers

 

 

 

 

Sunday School Lesson – “4 Keys to Powerful Prayer” Luke 11:1-13

Photo: Pixabay/Prawny

VERSE DISCOVERY: Luke 11:1-13 (KJV, Public Domain)

The operation or workings of prayer have been a mystery to some through the ages.  For some prayer seems to be some mundane Christian civic duty; a check off list, if you will, of something that needs to be done.  For others, prayer seems to be elusive; difficult to understand the concept of and even more difficult to do.

Good news!  Prayer is not either of those things.  Prayer is something that is given to us as an honor; as a way to reach the heavenly Father personally, one on one.  How awesome is that?  Prayer is as essential to the Christian life as breathing or eating.  It is necessary to stay spiritually nourished in Him.

So, when Jesus’ disciples asked Him to teach them to pray, He gladly obliged because He Himself knows the significance and power in prayer.  In this lesson, there are four key components that can help us have a more powerful prayer life.  The good news is, we’re learning from the best.  We are sitting at the feet of Jesus and taking in these points as He shares with His disciples.  Blessings ~

Lord, Teach Us to Pray

Luke 11:1 “And it came to pass, that, as he was praying in a certain place, when he ceased, one of his disciples said unto him, Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples.”

One’s life speaks volumes; more than one’s words ever will.  Most people will judge you by what they see and what Jesus’ disciples saw was a man who was dedicated to prayer.  While He walked on the face of this earth, He was known for offering up “prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears,” (Hebrews 5:7).  Witnessing personally His uninhibited habit of going before the Father with His petitions and the outpourings of His soul, the disciple wanted to know more.

How awesome it is for the disciple to see such a one as He doing the miraculous and being identified as the Son of God, still find a need for prayer?  It’s huge!  It lets us know that if Jesus needed constant contact with the Father to do life on earth, then so do we.  Perhaps this is why a disciple of His questioned Him on prayer and wanted to know more on how to do it?

So, after He was finished “praying in a certain place . . . one of his disciples said unto him, Lord, teach us to pray.”  The Bible doesn’t tell us which disciple it was that asked, and it doesn’t matter.  What does matter is the disciple’s willingness to learn from the Master.  When one sees something genuine and real, they want more of it and want to know how it’s done.  I believe the disciple saw a treasure in prayer and longed to experience it as Jesus did.

Asking to be taught the ins and outs of this valuable resource was the beginning of a great discovery that Jesus was all too willing to share.

Below are four key points that popped out at me during this study on this model prayer that Jesus taught.  These are key elements that I believe will help boost our prayer life, taking it out of the mundane onto a platform where it makes a real difference in our lives.

KEY #1:  ONE HAS TO HAVE ACKNOWLEDGING PRAYER

Luke 11:2-4 “And he said unto them, When ye pray, say, Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.  Thy kingdom come.  Thy will be done, as in heaven, so in earth.  Give us day by day our daily bread.  And forgive us our sins; for we also forgive every one that is indebted to us.  And lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil.”

When one acknowledges something or someone they are ascribing or giving them credit that they deserve.  Here, opening His teaching on prayer, Jesus jumps in without hesitation, stating, “When ye pray, say, Our Father which art in heaven.”  Now, notice first that Jesus didn’t say “if” ye pray.  He point-blank expected that His people should have an active and working prayer life so He said, “When ye pray.”

Starting with the statement, “Our Father which art in heaven,” Jesus acknowledges to whom one’s prayers should be directed.  And, in the verses following God gets the credit for everything!  This is acknowledgment.

“Our Father which art in heaven,” points one in the right direction.  There are many voices that try to offer advice and insight to the world we live and to the troubles and woes we face.  Yet, none can have the insight as He who created all things.  None is Sovereign as He to really be our champion for real change.  That can only come from He who is enthroned in heaven for all eternity; by He Whom everything takes its commands: “Our Father.”

“Our Father” describes the intimate, relational context in which God wants to be committed to us.  Did you get that?  God wants to be “Our Father” so much that Jesus, God incarnate, instructed us to address Him as such in prayer.  Man may not always step up to the plate to fill this role, but God does.  He willingly takes on the role of “Father,” meaning more than provider in my view.  He takes on the responsibility to love, care and nurture them who come to Him seeking Him as daddy.  Romans 8:15 describes it as this: “Ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.”  This adoption is an on-purpose act of love that He is seeking to fulfill as role of “Father.”  God “will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty,” (2 Corinthians 6:18).

“Hallowed be thy name.”  Part of acknowledging prayer is respecting His holiness.  Oh, I cringe when I see people take the name of the Lord in vain.  God’s name is not like any other and should not be treated as it is.  His name is holy (Isaiah 57:15), and He is the one who “dwell in the high and holy place.”  When one invokes God’s name in prayer it is not a plaything.  We are seeking His holiness to come in on our behalf; garnering His stamp of approval.  Heaven knows how to treat His name so much that they speak the word “holy” three times: “Holy, holy, holy, is the LORD of hosts,” (Isaiah 6:3).

Acknowledging prayer recognizes God’s authority, His power, His Sovereignty, His control, His kingdom and His will overall. “Thy kingdom come.  Thy will be done, as in heaven, so in earth.”  No wonder at the end of the parallel of this prayer found in Matthew 6:13 it states, “For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever.  Amen.”  We should want to see the glory of God’s will take over the atmosphere of this old stale world “as in heaven.”  We should have heavenly visions of God’s power reclaiming this earth.

Acknowledging prayer recognizes that God is the provider of all.  “Give us day by day our daily bread.”  “Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God,” (2 Corinthians 3:5).  We, as all other things created, are dependent on Him as our provider.  “Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them.  Are ye not much better than they?” (Matthew 6:26).  God will provide.

Acknowledging prayer knows that forgiveness comes from God: “And forgive us our sins; for we also forgive every one that is indebted to us.”  2 Chronicles 7:14 declares, “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.”  God wants to spiritually heal people from their sin-sick ways.  “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness,” (1 John 1:9).

In return, we are expected to offer forgiveness to those who ask for it.  Gulp!  Yes, forgiveness in any form can be a hard pill to swallow.  But, let me ask you this.  How many times has God said no to us whenever we sought for healing and restoration for the wrongs we have done?  Exactly, He hasn’t!  Forgiveness, much like love, is nothing to be played with.  It is not a lip service to please others rather, it is a heart service to the Lord.  It is, in a sense, showing to others the same grace and mercy that God showed toward us.  And, we acknowledge that this is His will for us.

Acknowledging prayer shows God as a deliverer: And lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil.” God doesn’t tempt people into sin.  “Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man,” (James 1:13).  Sin is a choice and so is choosing to let God lead and trusting Him to keep you in those hard times.  “O keep my soul, and deliver me: let me not be ashamed; for I put my trust in thee,” (Psalm 25:20).  “Keep back thy servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me . . .” (Psalm 19:13).  He is a keeper to them that know Him as a deliverer and He is a protector against the ultimate enemy, the devil.

KEY #2: ONE HAS TO HAVE PERSEVERING PRAYER

Luke 11:5-8 “And he said unto them, Which of you shall have a friend, and shall go unto him at midnight, and say unto him, Friend, lend me three loaves; For a friend of mine in his journey is come to me, and I have nothing to set before him?  And he from within shall answer and say, Trouble me not: the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot rise and give thee.  I say unto you, Though he will not rise and give him, because he is his friend, yet because of his importunity he will rise and give him, as many as he needeth.”

The scenario is simple: it’s late in the midnight hour and someone has dropped in unexpectedly.  The problem with the scenario is due to the lateness of the hour and the unexpected nature of the visit there was not enough time to gather resources to care for this visitor.

The proposed solution: knock on the neighbor’s door who is a friend and ask for some help.  The problem with the solution: again, stating the obvious, it’s midnight.  We are in bed.  Are you trying to wake up the kids with all that knocking and yelling out there?!  “I cannot rise and give thee.”

Now, I don’t know about this neighbor, but waking up at midnight is not exactly a welcomed intrusion into my otherwise restful night.  Then, to have the audacity to show up banging on my door and asking for food at that time… well, that’s a whole other story!  But hospitality was central to the culture of the day and was expected to be doled out accordingly.

Also, in those days, sleeping arrangements were generally shared by the whole family.  Doors had big, heavy bolts that clanged and banged if moved.  To get to the bread one would have to step over kids, make noise to get the bread and bang and clang the door opened and shut again.  At this point, the whole house could easily be disturbed.

Jesus stated that the neighbor eventually will give his friend what he is asking but not because he is a friend.  He will only get up out the bed because of his “importunity;” or his persistence.

Jesus uses this scenario to teach us the power of persevering prayer.  One cannot give up so easily.  We have been afforded the privilege to come before the throne of grace “that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need,” (Hebrews 4:16).  We must be persistent in that privilege.

One’s lack of persistence in prayer can be tied to a lack of faith.  Jesus told the parable of the unjust judge and the widow to illustrate His point: “Yet because this widow troubleth me, I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me,” (Luke 18:5).  Jesus then asked, “Shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them?  I tell you that he will avenge them speedily.  Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:7-8, emphasis mine).

A powerful key component of prayer is not to give up too quickly.

KEY #3: ONE HAS TO HAVE EXPECTANT PRAYER

Luke 11:9-10 “And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.  For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.”

When one prays expect to receive an answer; expect to see some sort of fulfillment to come from your prayers.  Look for something to happen as a result of your praying.

He doesn’t tell us to “ask” without the expectation of receiving something.  No, He says if you do this, then this will happen; and so, it goes with the other instructions to “seek and knock.” 

Even if the answer doesn’t look the way you imagine it should, your prayers do not fall on deaf ears.  Be confident that God hears you.  God is attentive to you.  God does not leave you in a state of wanting.  David said, “The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want,” (Psalm 23:1).  There will be results.

When I plant a seed in the ground, I expect to see some sort of growth come out of it.  It may take a while but eventually, I should start seeing a little sprout begin to poke its head through the surface of the dirt.  As I watch it grow to full fruition, I expect to be able to reap off of what I have sown.

Your prayers are like you planting a seed, and what is being said here is that when you do these things: ask, seek and knock; growth is going to come from it.  Expect it!

The word “shall” appears as reassurance four times in just these two verses meaning this is what will happen as a result of praying in this manner.  Let me remind you that Jesus is the one who is teaching this lesson and He is the one telling us to “Ask . . . Seek . . . Knock.”  He is the one who speaks of “receiving, finding and opening” as a result of praying. 

Whatever it is, keep looking to God for the answer.  “Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God,” (Philippians 4:6).  Make it known unto God and keeping making it known with the anticipation of seeing something happen.

“And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us: And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him,” (1 John 5:14-15).  Therefore, we can expect to see results.

KEY #4: ONE HAS TO HAVE BELIEVING PRAYER

Luke 11:11-13 “If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone? or if he ask a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent?  Or if he shall ask an egg, will he offer a him a scorpion?  If ye the, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?”

Believe in the goodness of God.  Believe in your relationship with Him as a child of the heavenly Father.  Believe that He always seeks to give you His best (ex. John 3:16).  I often refer to God in my personal prayer as the Good Father who gives good gifts to His children.  It’s something we must hold on to and depend upon.

Believe that God knows how to answer our prayers.  I am a mom who is not perfect, but I love my children to distraction.  I want what’s best for them.  If they ask for food, surely I will not make a stone sandwich and expect them to eat.  I want them to experience good things.  I want them to be satisfied with the goodness of my house.  God is perfect in all that He is and does, so doesn’t He too have the same aspirations and love toward them that are His? He is not aloof but caring.  He is not unapproachable; rather, He invites us to ask for the good.

We have to step out of ourselves and believe with childlike faith that our heavenly Father knows and cares about our petitions that go up before Him.  This is a trust issue in our relationship with Him.  We rely on Him to supply: “But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus,” (Philippians 4:19).  He is well able and wants to answer our prayers.  “And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive,” (Matthew 21:22, emphasis mine).

Believe it today.

And, the most precious gifts of all that He is more than willing to give to those who ask is the gift of the “Holy Spirit.”  We need the “Holy Spirit!”  He is our comforter (John 14:16).  He is our sealed promise (Ephesians 1:13).  “The love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us,” (Romans 5:5).  The “Holy Spirit” teaches us the things of God, (1 Corinthians 2:12-13).  We need the gift of the “Holy Spirit” in order to make it in this world.  Therefore, ask with a believing heart, and God will give!

Prayer is powerful!  Jesus lists key points for every believer to enrich their own prayer life.  It’s up to us to use this valuable information to the fullest.

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 – 4 Keys to Powerful Prayer

Suggested Resources:

Draw the Scene: 4 Keys to Powerful Prayer Draw the Scene

Adult Journal Page: Adult Journal Page – Prayer Journal Page

Kid’s Journal Page: Kid’s Journal Page – Prayer Journal Page

Word Search: 4 Keys to Powerful Prayer Word Search  Answers: 4 Keys to Powerful Prayer Word Search Answers

Crossword: 4 Keys to Powerful Prayer Crossword  Answers: 4 Keys to Powerful Prayer Crossword Answers

Word Scramble: 4 Keys to Powerful Prayer Word Scramble  Answers: 4 Keys to Powerful Prayer Word Scramble Answers

“Prayer Chain Craft” (A simple, easy and affordable project to throw together for your students. A prayer chain becomes an easy, take-home reminder where students can link together names of people, things, and situations they are praying for.  Example below. Enjoy!)

My Project 263-001

“Prayer Book Craft”

“The Lord’s Prayer Coloring Sheet” (Younger students)

“Teach Us to Pray Maze”

“Prayer Bear” (Cute! Cute! Cute!)

“Ribbon Prayer”

“Bible Lesson: Ask, Seek, Knock”  (Wonderful object lesson)

“Knock, Knock. Who’s There?”  (Links to printables and group activities.  Enjoy!)