Sunday School Lesson – “Pursuing the Good Fight of Faith” 1 Timothy 6:11-21

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VERSE DISCOVERY: 1 Timothy 6:11-21 (KJV, Public Domain)

In case you didn’t know, we are in a competition like no other.  The world, as God originally designed it, was good.  But through the course of time, as evil entered the world, this place that we call our physical home has become a contentious place.  It has become a battleground where a spiritual war is being waged every day and the target of the main attacks is our faith.

If you have ever heard someone use phrases of exasperation over the struggles they are facing, you get the sense that what they are involved in at that moment or what they are dealing with is extremely hard.  The way they are trying to go or the thing they are trying to accomplish at that time is not easy; rather, it comes with the press of extra effort to get done what they need to get done to make it through.

No truer is this than in the adherence of and the push to maintain our Christian faith.  In a world bent on opposing us with its lack of values and moral character, and with spiritual enemies all around, we are in a fight to keep firm in what we believe.

But keep firm we must.  We are called to be proactive in protecting and walking in our faith.  We must be diligent in our obedience to God as we hold on to our confession and confidence in the One who “…hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the Kingdom of His dear Son,” (Colossians 1:13). 

What God has given us through Jesus Christ is too good to let go of now and the reward up ahead is greater than one can imagine (1 Corinthians 2:9) and it is eternal.  We must strive to not let the flow of this world influence us or make us waver in our faith.

This lesson is a bold message for us to hold on to what we believe.  To pursue after and fight the good fight of faith, and never let it go.  Pursuing the good fight of faith requires something from us.  In this lesson, I will cover six specific topics of personal accountability for the one who is pressing forth and pursuing the good fight of faith.

 1. Our Inward Commitment

1 Timothy 6:11 “But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness.”

In the verses leading up to the lesson text, Paul, in his letter to Timothy, encourages him in his role as pastor of the church of Ephesus.  In this role of leadership, Timothy would be responsible for how things are ordered or conducted in the church.  As one to whom others would look up to, spiritual discipline would be of the highest order because it not only testifies of the leader before the congregation, but it teaches the congregation how to act before the world.  All with the end purpose of drawing more people to believe in Jesus Christ through their living testimonies.

In chapter 6 particularly, some of the issues Paul points out for teaching edification revolves around the idea of contentment, erroneous teaching and beliefs, and the warning of the love of money and how it has already caused some to “err from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows” (1 Timothy 6:10).  For these, Paul wants Timothy to be on guard from these practices while pursuing and protecting his faith.

“But thou, O man of God.”  Let us pause here for a moment and pay attention to that word “but.”  In contrast to what Paul has already described as the wrong way some are following, the word “but” serves as a sifting agent for the one whose identity is tied up in God.  In baking, sifting is used to separate, and as a “man of God,” Timothy particularly had to make sure his actions were separated from the things that would dim his testimony before the world instead of edifying the God he served.  In other words, he was saying, “Timothy, you are different, and I want you to act differently, talk differently and walk differently in the pursuit of your faith.  Don’t do what they are doing but let your testimony before God and the world be of truer stuff.”  For that to happen, Paul lays out some specifics for Timothy, and those in Christ, to follow.

“Flee these things.”  Disassociate yourself from the wrongdoings of others.  The word “flee” gives great urgency to get away from there.  High tail it out of there like never before!  Do not give opportunity for the seed of evil that comes from hanging around that stuff to have a chance to plant in you.  In other words, “RUN!”

The effects of hanging around these sinful behaviors or pondering them in one’s heart, if continually being exposed to it, can ravage the faith of a believer.  If you touch fire, you are going to get burned.  The best way to avoid getting burned is to not expose yourself to the fire in the first place. Many don’t realize it, but in pursuing the good fight of faith, it means one needs to take themselves away from things that can cripple their walk with the Lord.

While Timothy is to turn away from those things that can be damaging to one’s faith, Paul counterbalances his teachings for the things Timothy should be seeking because what one is turning to is just as important as what one is turning away from.

Timothy and every Christian’s life will be characterized by what they “follow after”; by the things they pursue.  Rather than going after the things others are going after like money and materialistic things that those in the world are looking for, Paul teaches Timothy and us what are the better things to seek in our lives.

With that, he makes this list of things to pursue: “righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness,” all designed to govern our relationship with God and with each other.  They not only show the inner commitment we are to have toward God in the right things we pursue, keeping His ways as a priority in all that we do in our lives, to believe in them and adhere to them through it all, but they also show us how to respond to circumstances and people through the production of the fruit of the Spirit (see Galatians 5:22-23).

2. Our Upward Focus

1 Timothy 6:12 “Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses.”

So, Paul teaches, “Fight the good fight of faith.”  Fighting the good fight of faith is not about putting your dukes up.  It is all about putting your faith up.  It is more about taking a stand than taking a punch.  It’s ordering one’s life and steps according to the will of God for our lives (Psalms 119:133).  It is running the race of this Christian life and competing in this spiritual contest, pushing toward the finish line with every ounce of effort one possesses because there is a wonderful goal up ahead.

While we are pushing forth in the defense and protection and adherence to what we believe, we are doing so with the intent of laying hold of a prize.  Our prize is the “eternal life” we are living in hopes of.  At the end of any contest, at the end of the struggle, there is something wonderful we are looking forward to.  Our stand through all we are facing here is in light of the victory we are promised to gain in the end: “eternal life.”

Heaven belongs to the believers.  Life eternal is the ultimate prize for the one who refuses to give in or give up; to the one who does not get entangled by the things of this world others are chasing after (compare 2 Timothy 2:4).  That’s why Jesus once taught, “Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for the meat which endureth unto everlasting life…” (John 6:27).  We have something better than money; we have something better than the materialistic things and social status’ down here to lay hold of.

Our purpose in being “called” and of having this “profession” of faith, is to pursue the things of God.  To be God-focused and heaven-focused, not world-focused and getting caught up in the things we presently see.  It is pushing past every contention here while keeping an upward focus for our future.

3. Our Outward Responsibility

1 Timothy 6:13 “I give thee charge in the sight of God, who quickeneth all things, and before Christ Jesus, who before Pontius Pilate witnessed a good confession;”

Our testimony before others matters and it is our responsibility to represent our Lord well. Therefore, in the strongest terms, Paul tells Timothy, “I give thee charge in the sight of God.”  If you have ever attended a graduation ceremony you may hear the word “charge” being used during the occasion when the higher-ups of the learning institution instruct the graduating class on how to apply their newfound knowledge with responsibility.  This is a word that Paul has chosen to use several times in his letter to Timothy to invoke the seriousness of all he is relaying to him.

And, to punctuate his statement even more with its importance, he is delivering this message before the same All-Mighty, Sovereign, and Supreme God of all the universe that breathes life into every being (“quickeneth”) and “Christ Jesus” who stood blameless with His “good confession” before “Pontius Pilate”, never wavering in what He spoke or knew was the truth.  Our Lord never raised the white flag of surrender, not even through the most difficult thing He would ever face.  Timothy, and all Christians alike, are to follow the example of our Lord with that same fierceness of our “good confession”. 

1 Timothy 6:14 “That thou keep this commandment without spot, unrebukable, until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ:”

With that, Paul continues to encourage Timothy to “keep this commandment without spot, unrebukable.”  Continue forth in the press of your faith; continue to live a life above reproach and accusation.  When Jesus comes back at His “appearing” (second coming), He’s coming back for a church “not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish,” (Ephesians 5:27).

Yes, that might not meld well with the current culture of the world, but in Christ, we are not living to please the culture of this world; rather, we are living for a higher life and that requires the discipline of maintaining and keeping the faith without fail against all adversaries, including the flesh.  We who are called by His name are called to live like Him.  “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; Matthew 5:48).  Our faith is on display as an example of the Christ we follow.  What people see being performed outwardly in our lives will speak volumes more than any message we could ever preach verbally.

4. Our Spiritual Readiness

1 Timothy 6:15-16 “Which in his times he shall shew, who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords;  Who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto; whom no man hath seen, nor can see: to whom be honour and power everlasting. Amen.”

For when He comes “in his times,” all will see Him as He truly is.  We do not know the day or the hour (Matthew 24:36), but Peter teaches us, “The day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night…” (2 Peter 3:10).

Once, I wrote:

“Preoccupation with this world has so many in its clutches and has lulled multitudes into a false sense of security.  How many of our waking hours are spent on the temporary trappings of now instead of the glory that awaits our future?  Our time on this earthly sojourn is not infinite.  Time will pass.  Days will turn to night and eventually, at our proper time, we will step into eternity or as the older folk used to say, when Jesus cracks the sky – it will all be over.

Will we be ready or caught unawares?” (I Come Quickly/Word for Life Says)

Paul wants Timothy, and every Christian, to be aware of not only the life they are living, but the times they are living in, and the time they are living for.  Be ready.

Know that is God the Father is the “only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords,” meaning He, as noted above in verse 13, is supremely Sovereign, with all authority over all (Revelation 19:6).  The Lord reigns, the Bible tells us (Psalms 93:1; 97:1; 99:1)!  He is “the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple,” (Isaiah 66:1).  He is God alone!

Scripture shows us that the Lord Jesus Christ is also known and called by the same description/title (noted above) being attributed to Him (Revelation 17:14; 19:16), and the Bible also encourages us in His power and authority (compare Colossians 2:10) and that we can take heart because our faith is complete in Him!  We are told, “That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things on earth, and things under the earth; And every tongue shall confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father,” (Phil. 2:10-11).  He will be acknowledged as King forever.  The everlasting King will rule forever, and all will “bow the knee” in honor and recognition of who He really is!

God “hath immortality” meaning death and everything that comes with it can never be imposed on Him or appropriated to Him as to others.  Not that He simply just cannot die, but the very fact that His immortality is who He is, He is explicitly incapable of doing what is against the very nature and make up of Himself.    “From everlasting to everlasting, thou art God,” (Psalm 90:2).  As God in the flesh (1 Timothy 3:16; see also John 1:14, 1 John 1:2), Jesus Christ is conqueror over death.  2 Timothy 1:10 tells us, “But is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.”  Life everlasting is found in Christ who lives forever (see Hebrews 7:24).  Hold on to your faith that you may live eternally with Him!

God is He who is that “light which no man can approach unto.”  The Bible reminds us of the story of Moses asking to see God’s face, His glory, just how impossible this was (read Exodus 33:18-20).  Christ is where God is in that glorious place and it is God’s glory that illuminates all of heaven (see Revelation 21:23).  It is a place too wonderful for man to obtain on his/her own; whom without Christ, we would not be admitted into the presence of God.  Keep pursuing and fighting the good fight of faith that you may be able to enter in to be with Him “whom be honour and power everlasting. Amen.”

5. Our Quest for the Greater Gain

1 Timothy 6:17-19 “Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not highminded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy;  That they do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate;  Laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life.”

“Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not high-minded, nor trust in uncertain riches.”  In light of all of this, teach people what is the greater gain, Timothy!  Wealth, notoriety, social status, and the things the world applauds are not what counts.  They are fleeting and will pass away.  “For riches are not for ever: and doth the crown endure to every generation?” (Proverbs 27:24).  Nothing we accumulate here will last forever.  Therefore, don’t put your trust in things but put your trust in the God “who giveth us richly all things to enjoy;” who gave you those things in the first place.

And, when He blesses, use those blessings, not just for yourself, but turn them into “good works” by sharing and positively impacting the lives of others.  Part of fighting the good fight of faith is using what we have to lift others and offer help and support when and where it is needed; not be self-focused, but others-focused.

This, in turn, benefits us spiritually as well in the long run.  For we are “laying up in store… a good foundation against the time to come.”  With “eternal life” ever-present in the mind of the believer, that one lives with not only their own life of faith in their hearts but with the concern of others there as well.  What we do in the here and now impacts our future to come.

6. Our Standing in the Truth

1 Timothy 6:20-21 “O Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of science falsely so called:  Which some professing have erred concerning the faith. Grace be with thee. Amen.”

Therefore, Timothy, “Keep that which is committed to thy trust.”  All that Paul is teaching Timothy, all that entails this life of faith, Timothy is to pursue it, fight for it, and guard against anything contaminating it such as “profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of science falsely so called.”  There was a lot of talk with a lot of false teaching that Timothy was to guard himself and guard the faith against.  Everything that sounds good is not good.  Timothy, hold on to the truth and fight to stand in it!

Even though some “professing have erred concerning the faith,” meaning having been drawn away into believing what is false, you Timothy, continue in the good fight of faith.

The world today is full of false teachings that may sound right, but if it does not match up with the Word of God in its entirety, it is false, and we would do good to stay away from it, too.

As Timothy is, so are we to be just as diligent in our press for our faith.  Our prize for a race well-run is set in the Heavenlies where it will neither tarnish nor fade with time but will last into all eternity.  May we pursue after and fight the good fight of faith that we too may gain that greater reward.

PDF Full 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 – Pursuing the Good Fight of Faith

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Craft: Collage Craft: In the lesson, Paul described six practices for Timothy and all Christians to follow in verse 11. Find pictures from old magazine, books, comics, etc. and make a collage of examples of each of these practices being used.  For an alternate activity, use The Good Fight of Faith Comic Strip activity page for students to draw these examples instead.

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Sunday School Lesson – “The Whole Armor of God” Ephesians 6:10-20

VERSE DISCOVERY: Ephesians 6:10-20 (KJV, Public Domain)

Being caught unawares, is there anything worse?  Can we effectively stand against opposition when opposition seems to have all the fighting power?  How can we successfully be soldiers in the army of the Lord without any weapons?  Are we going to be ready, when, not if, the occasion arises to fight?  Are we openly prepared to enter this battle?

Know that what you want to accomplish will not easily be handed over to you in this Christian life, and while you are contending for it you will need some backup.  Make no mistake about it, we are in profoundly serious times.  More and more we find ourselves knowingly facing the oppressor of this world.  Are we ready for the challenge?  Are we armed and ready for this fight?

In serving God there will be times of contests and contentions, and to enter any field or times as uncertain as these, one needs weapons.  God has made provisions that we should have everything we need to fight, and to win.

Adversity will raise its head.  It is up to us to be properly equipped to counteract its rising.

This lesson looks at Ephesians 6:10-20, which is a familiar portion of Scripture.  Here, the Apostle Paul tells of what we can expect to be contending with and then he releases valuable information of all the powerful weapons/resources we can adorn ourselves with to have a victorious outcome.

Please Note:  Do not let the familiarity of these verses cause you to pass by on a great learning opportunity to gain more insight into this fight we are in.  In this lesson, there are powerful truths that can be applied to our lives and the spiritual battles we face.

Learning how to stand in and fight for our faith is a part of worship; it is a way of life that is to govern our Christian walk every day.

Your Strength

Ephesians 6:10 “Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.

“Be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.”  Zechariah 4:6 tells us, “Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the LORD of Hosts.” With the many resources afforded to many in our modern-day culture, it is easy to get caught up in the attitude of self-sufficiency.  The Bible tells us, “Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God,” (2 Corinthians 3:5).

Right away, in dealing with this portion of Scripture, Paul wanted the church at Ephesus to know that God is not looking for them to do this Christian life or to be involved in any spiritual battle in their own strength.  They are to be dependent upon Him and the “power of his might.” 

I think this is where many drop the ball.  Our human inclinations are to try to figure stuff out on our own.  Come up with a plan for dealing with what is in front of us, execute that plan, and wait for the positive results we hope to see from that plan.

But life does not generally work that way.  We tend to run into more hiccups in our plans when our total reliance is on ourselves and we treat God as if He is the backup to our plan to pull out of our pocket when we cannot take it a moment more.

No.  From the first onset of anything we face, we recognize that “God, it is You I need in the midst of this adversity.  I may not understand everything I am dealing with or going through but help me to lean on You wholly, and completely depend upon your strength through it all.”

Your Fight

Ephesians 6:11-12 “Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.  For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.”

With that, Paul encourages his readers to “put on the whole armour of God.”  We spend so much time speaking of the armor itself (and we will address each of the pieces later in this lesson) that we forget about the word “whole.” 

“Whole” speaks of completeness; not lacking in anything that is needed.  In this Christian life and dealing with the things that come against us due to this spiritual journey we are on, we cannot be half-way Christians for that will leave areas of exposure for the enemy to prod his way into our circumstances.

God has supplied a complete outfit for our defense and the ability to fight for our faith.  No parts were left unprotected.  To be successful in our campaigns we are to be garbed in all the Christian armament that He supplies.

It is only by being fully dressed; fully prepared that we will be able to “to stand against the wiles of the devil.”  God has beautiful and great, good plans for our lives (Jeremiah 29:11).  The devil’s main goal is to interrupt what God is trying to do; to try to stop His people from reaching any positive future here, and for eternity to come that He has in store for us.

1 Peter 5:8 warns us, “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour.” The word “vigilant” screams at us to be on guard!

Be on guard because the enemy is crafty; he has many tricks up his sleeve.  Paul warned the Corinthian church, “I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ,” (2 Corinthians 11:3).  And the Lord Jesus Christ reminds us, “The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy…” (John 10:10a); and he does so by working his “wiles” through cunning and crafty schemes.

“For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.”  One of the most effective tricks the enemy uses against the people of God is to divert their attention from his trickery and cause them to focus on each other; “against flesh and blood.”  This will effectively bring contentions and disunity where there is supposed to be peace and a spirit of brotherhood.

The only way to stop a thief is to proactively protect what is rightfully yours.  Wrong thinking will make some believe that things would be better in life were it not for certain things, people, and circumstances interfering with them. A lot of the time that part is not going to change but how one responds to each situation makes all the difference in the world.  Be on guard to recognize which is which.

These can be looked at as distractive influences.  How diligent then are we to stand against the evil working behind the scenes and not the people who are positioned in front?  Paul adamantly lets us know that our fight is not with each other.

Yes, they may hurt you, hate you, talk about you, criticize you and yes, even despitefully use you.  While those things may hurt us and bother us, sometimes even daily, there is a more important struggle pressing before us; those forces of evil which threaten our very being and our faith.  They are the behind-the-scenes predators like the “principalities… powers… the rulers of the darkness of this world… spiritual wickedness in high places.”  These have planned attacks and have meticulously plotted to rip away our very portion of the greater prize and reward in God.

Your Weapons

Ephesians 6:13-17 “Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.  Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.  And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:”

Knowing where our true source of contentions lie, Paul once again admonishes the church to “take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.”  When properly dressed; when properly prepared and protected, God’s people will be able to “to stand” even in the “evil day.”

We are in the midst of very real spiritual warfare.  It is nothing to be taken lightly.  Where are our weapons?  What do we have to fight with?  In the following verses, Paul begins to list and layout all the pieces of the armor of God that we will ever need.

In order to be proficient in this fight against sin and this whole army of enemies, we must “Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness.”

What weapon that is formed against us can penetrate the defenses of “truth” and “righteousness?”  Can any snare that an enemy has set for you be effective when Jesus said, “Ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free,” (John 8:32)?  Deception is one of the most powerful weapons the enemy employs against people.  It has worked from the time of the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3) causing people to lose out on the paradise that God offers.

Therefore, the first line of protection is “truth.”  “Truth” encompasses so much of our Christian walk.  It tells us who we are in Christ, it guides us on the right path to walk if we will but follow it, and it guards against the lies of the enemy.  This belt of “truth” supports our lives and supports all the other pieces of armament we are afforded.  Perhaps this is why Proverbs encourages us, “Buy the truth, and sell it not…” (23:23).  “Truth” will hold you up if you hold on to it!  Do not let it go and do not try to fight without it!

Then, Paul tells us to have a “breastplate of righteousness.”  The breastplate guards the heart in battle while “righteousness” should govern the heart for life.  “Hearken unto me, ye that know righteousness, the people in whose heart is my law…” (Isaiah 51:7).  Righteousness is a heart thing.

This right way of living is an inner commitment to have God and His ways as a priority in all that we do.  Only a heart that is truly devoted to God; a heart that encourages one to be shielded in His holiness will lead you down the path to receive God’s blessings.  Anything not in His holy will, will lead to destruction.  Paul writes in Timothy, teaching his readers, “But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness…” (1 Timothy 6:11).

“And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace.”  As odd as it may sound, make sure your feet are covered and prepared as well.  People tend to think of the feet as really being insignificant in battle (besides the basic fact of needing them for walking and running).  All other care for them seems to be obsolete.

Not true.  If an enemy attacks, and takes your feet out from under you, then he takes away your established standing, causing you to lose your footing in the battle.  The Roman soldiers had something like spikes on the bottoms of their sandals to keep their footing sure and secure.  As part of our armament, we are to adorn ourselves with the readiness of the “gospel of peace” that will keep us founded in His truth and confidence as we march forward. 

“The gospel of peace” is the Good News.  When you are suited with the gospel of peace, covering your standing is the defense of everything that Jesus Christ has come to live, die, and now reign for.  Keeping your feet grounded in this truth will help the Christian to avoid all those slippery, hidden devices that the enemy throws at you to try to keep you from progressing toward your long-awaited victory.

With that readiness of protection is also the readiness to carry the message forth, even during times of battle.  Isaiah 52:7 says, “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace; that bringeth good tidings of good, that publisheth salvation; that saith unto Zion, Thy God reigneth!”

No matter how you see it, keeping your feet covered with the gospel of peace can be for protection and mission purposes.  For protection, it serves to keep us in our foundation of faith when the fighting starts.  For mission, it gives us purpose, that even during the fight, we carry forth the message of all that Jesus has done and will do for the heart that believes.  The gospel is part of your equipment, but it also serves as your marching orders as well. “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature,” (Mark 16:15).

“Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.”  “Above all;” most importantly – the most vital thing over top of everything else, Paul says, “I want you to grab hold of your shield of faith.”  Mount it up on your arm and make sure the fit is proper (we do not want it slipping when you need it the most) so that you will be capable of going out into action.  You will be capable of blocking attacks from the enemy.

Everything that the enemy can even imagine attacking you with can be blocked by the “shield of faith.”  Why?  When you are under the protection of faith you are not relying on the strength or wisdom from any man.  You are dependent upon the power of God (see 1 Corinthians 2:5).  With that being said, who can possibly come against the power of God and succeed?

With our shield mounted, we can step boldly on the battlefield, knowing with God on our side, and we will be alright.  This reminds us of the promise He gave to the children of Israel when He said, “There shall no man be able to stand before you: for the LORD your God shall lay the fear of you and the dread of you upon all the land that ye shall tread upon…” (Deuteronomy 11:25).  If God did it once for them, He has proven over and over again in His Word that He will do it again. He will come to the defense of His people, fight for them, and win even now!

We are under the shield of faith.  We are believing and hoping in the power of God during this fight.  What dart can penetrate this shield?  With assurance resting on our side, we continue forth in battle, moving forward and not backward.  We can “fight the good fight of faith” (1 Timothy 6:12).  We have a destination of eternal life to march towards.  “Press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus,” (Philippians 3:14).

You can say, “With the shield of faith I have the power, through Christ, to quench and put out every one of those attacks by adversaries and deflect their advancement.”  Just as Jesus told the Centurion, “Go thy way; and as thou hast believed, so be it done unto thee,” (Matthew 8:13).  The same still applies today.  Believe it, have faith, and it shall be “done unto thee.”

“And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”  Along with all the other equipment, Paul said I want you to make sure you have something to cover your head: “the helmet of salvation.” 

This is the only helmet whose materials are not fashioned by the hands of man.  This helmet was made by the redeeming blood of the Lord Jesus Christ; the one who came to die for our sins.  For without this helmet, we will lose our spiritual battle.  “For there is no other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved,” (Acts 4:12).

It is only through the redemption that Jesus Christ has secured for us and through His name that sins can be removed.  Make sure you are covered.  Make sure you are under the saving grace of Jesus Christ before you even attempt to step out onto the battlefield.

Let the salvation that Christ secured for you guard your mind for this is where the real battle is fought.  If you are saved, then you belong to God, and that is a truth check that you can take to the spiritual bank and cash!  Here are some verses to help you know that you are now His (emphasis mine):

  • “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God,” (Romans 5:1-2).
  • “But we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement,” (Romans 5:11).
  • There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit,” (Romans 8:1).
  • “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me,” (Galatians 2:20).
  • “In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace,” (Ephesians 1:7; also see Colossians 1:14).

And I could really go on and on and on and on.  What a wonderful position we are now in when we are in Christ!

“And the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”  All the armor discussed so far was given for our protection.  They will be there to help you walk through your troubled times.  But now that you are well protected, there is one final weapon given that will allow you to effectively fight back: “the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”  This is the same weapon Jesus used when countering the attack of the enemy (see Matthew 4:4, 7, 10).

The Bible tells us, “For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart,” (Hebrews 4:12).

God’s Word is here to be put into action for you from the minute you open it up.  Wrapped in such a small package of sixty-six books it stands as the only weapon that will effectively penetrate all the forces of darkness.

Everything you need to help keep you strong in the battle is found in the Word of God.  Take up the Word of God in your heart and use it to fight.  God’s Word is a daily message to our hearts that we do not grow faint during the battle.  His Word is our assurance for the future.  In His Word, we can find all the promises laid up for those who continue to fight on the side of what is right before Him.

It does not matter what anybody else says, WHAT DOES THE WORD OF GOD SAY?

  • Depressed/broken heart? – “He healeth the broken heart, and bindeth up their wounds,” (Psalm 174:3).
  • Bound in troubles? – “The LORD is good, a strong hold in the day of trouble; and he knoweth them that trust in him,” (Nahum 1:7).
  • Heavy laden with financial burdens? – “The blessing of the LORD, it maketh rich, and he addeth no sorrow with it,” (Proverbs 10:22).
  • Lonely and seeking comfort when it seems none can be found? – Jesus said, “I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you,” (John 14:18).

That is just a small portion of how the Word of God can fight for you.  If you will just walk in His Word, and carry it in your heart, and let it encourage you toward a life of righteousness (Psalm 119:11), it will fight for you.  Can you take Him at His Word?

Your Prayers

Ephesians 6:18-20 “Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints; And for me, that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel. For which I am an ambassador in bonds: that therein I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.”

“Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints.”  I have covered the subject of prayer extensively in previous lessons and posts.  Prayer is something that is very near and dear to my heart.  It is something I wholeheartedly believe in and cannot live without.  No matter which way you look at it, we are to be a people of prayer.  It is written repeatedly in the Bible and it is consistently taught throughout.  We cannot be strong warriors without a strong prayer life.  We are called to pray “always… in the Spirit.”

We are instructed that our prayers are not just for us; rather, “for all saints.”  Brothers and sisters in Christ, we need to continually lift one another up in prayer!  If we don’t, who will?  We are all trying to reach the same eternal destination and we all need the power of one another praying us through.  (I encourage you to read my article titled  “Please, Pray Me Through to My Deliverance!” found on WordforLifeSays.com.)

Prayer is powerful!  Prayer is authoritative!  And prayer works!

Therefore Paul, chained in prison, admitted his need for prayer also.  While you are praying for the saints he said, “And for me, that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel.” 

As an “ambassador” who was not free; rather, he abode in “bonds,” he needed to still be able to speak freely and “boldly” for He whom he represents.  There are many causes for when one is in “bonds” to keep the mouth shut, yet Paul wanted his voice and His message to still be heard.

This was a request for those in Acts who also wanted to remain faithful to the message that needed to be preached.  They prayed, “And now, Lord, behold their threatenings: and grant unto thy servants, that with all boldness they may speak thy word,” (Acts 4:29).

If anything, during the battle the message of God’s saving grace still must go forth unhindered.  Sometimes, the ground on which we walk will not be favorable; rather, contentious.  Lord, grant us boldness to keep the truth of your message going.

It’s time to put on the whole armor of God!

PDF Full 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 Whole Armor of God

Suggested Activities:

Adult Journal Page: Adult Journal Page – The Whole Armor of God

Kid’s Journal Page: Kid’s Journal Page – The Whole Armor of God

Blanks Journal Page: These pages, one designed for adults and one for children, can be used to bring out, remember, or write a particular part of the lesson you wish for you and/or your class to focus on.  Click>>Blank Adult and Kid’s Journal Pages to access the journal pages.

Review Sheet: The Whole Armor of God Review Sheet

Word Search: The Whole Armor of God Word Search  Answers: The Whole Armor of God Word Search Answers

Crossword: The Whole Armor of God Crossword  Answers: The Whole Armor of God Crossword Answers

Word Scramble: The Whole Armor of God Word Scramble  Answers: The Whole Armor of God Word Scramble Answers

Draw the Scene: The Whole Armor of God Draw the Scene

How Many Words: The Whole Armor of God How Many Words

Memory Verse: The Whole Armor of God Memory Verse

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Sunday School Lesson – “Jesus Blesses the Children” Mark 10:13-16

VERSE DISCOVERY: Mark 10:13-16 (KJV, Public Domain)

There is a familiar scene that plays out in many families between dad, mom, and the little ones.  It is the one where the father, playing with his children, tosses them into the air and catches them on a band of giggles coming from the child while the mother stands on the sidelines holding her breath.

The father with a sure grip and a steady hand has no qualms playing this innocent game.  The child, often young, just thinks it is absolutely hilarious to go for this free ride.  The child never worries about being caught.  The child never worries about being hurt.  The child only sees daddy.  Daddy loves me, daddy cares for me, I trust daddy and daddy will never let me fall.  Therefore, I will enjoy playing with daddy.

From the time that children are born, they have an innate capacity to trust.  They are literally at the whim of their caretakers and can do nothing for themselves.  Their dependency is constantly on others to feed, care for, and love them in their most vulnerable state.  In their innocence, they do not judge by anything outwardly but, only by the love they receive inwardly.

Children are a gift from the Lord (Psalm 127:3).  Children are our future.  These little ones will be the next carriers of God’s Word.  They will be the conduits through which generations after them will find their way to the Lord and His salvation.  At the same time, children can teach us so many things and one of the things they teach us is how to have faith.

Faith gets over-complicated in the adult way of thinking while children just simply receive, remain dependent, trust, and believe.  And that is all God asks from all His children, no matter what their age is.

 Parents Desire

Mark 10:13 “And they brought young children to him, that he should touch them: and his disciples rebuked those that brought them.”

Teachings on the kingdom of God and examples of what true faith looks like were never far from Jesus’ vocabulary.  He took many times and opportunities to open the understanding of all who would listen and heed what God looks for in a true follower of His.

In this lesson, He gives us an undeniable example of both as parents in the crowd “brought young children to him.”  The desires of the parents in question are to have Jesus “touch” their children thereby blessing them. This was not an uncommon practice in this ancient culture.

The truth is parents always want what is best for their children.  If they find a good thing, naturally they would want their children exposed to it as much as possible.  Many modern-day parents spend an enormous amount of money each year to give their children the best clothes, education, housing… the best start in life, if and as they are each able to do.

The parents in today’s lesson saw Jesus teaching and healing and showing compassion to many people, many times over.  He was (and still is) the best thing they could give to their children.  Why would they not want their child exposed to Him?  Why would they not seek a “touch” from Jesus for their little ones if they could?

A child’s faith often starts with their parents (or guardian), and in the home.  It’s where God gave the command of responsibility to Moses for the parents to “teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house…” (Deuteronomy 6:7; see also Deut. 11:19).  There are many variables that go into raising a child.  Parents really must take into consideration and calculate what their children are exposed to on a daily basis and whether or not it is beneficial to their physical and spiritual wellbeing.  The guidelines given to Moses to pass down through the generations was to ensure that the most impressionable of society receive the proper exposure to the things of God; to what would benefit their children the most.  This would also ensure the longevity of the faith amongst the community as a whole.

Those in today’s lesson wanted to expose their children to Jesus.  They wanted Him to touch their little ones with a blessing.  They brought their children near to where Jesus was, giving them the opportunity to hear of His teaching and wisdom on life and the kingdom of God.  The Bible encourages us to, “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it,” (Proverbs 22:6).  This stands as a strong lesson that if we want our children to be exposed to Jesus, then we, as parents, must take that responsibility and not depend on others to do it for us.  When it comes to our children’s faith there can be no complacent parenting.

“And his disciples rebuked those that brought them.”  The disciples didn’t have the same vision for the children as the parents did.  The Bible does not exactly state why their rebuke was so strong (although many speculate).  But they did prohibit the parents from bringing the children nearer to where Jesus was and made no attempts to hide their displeasure at the intrusion.

Did they think the children were unworthy of the Master’s time and consideration?  Maybe they believed Jesus was just too busy and important to deal with the likes of these.  Who knows?  Perhaps it would have been prudent for them to ask Jesus first instead of thinking to act on His behalf.  The fact of the matter is they stood in between Jesus and the children.  Something Jesus highly disapproved of.

Everyone MATTERs TO JESUS

Mark 10:14 “But when Jesus saw it, he was much displeased, and said unto them, Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God.”

Jesus intervened.  Jesus has never turned away a desiring soul.  He has never told a mom or dad no who sought physical or spiritual healing for their child.  And He was not going to turn down or turn away those who desired a special spiritual blessing or touch for their children now.

One of the most precious things I love about our Lord is His ability to see value in everybody.  Those whom society thinks are the lesser, non-important, are magnificent in the eyes of our God.  The Bible teaches us, “But even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not therefore: ye are of more value than many sparrows,” (Luke 12:7).

To Him, it does not matter where you live, what your social status in life is, or anything else like that.  It does not matter if you are aged with wisdom or new and in the innocence of your years.  He that knows the days then, the days now, and the days to come and sees beyond all of that, straight down to the very soul He loves.  With that, He invites or allows (“suffer” as this lesson puts it) them to come unto Him.

Previously I wrote in another lesson, “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 and just rests in the truth that if it is His will, there is nothing that can hinder God from performing a miracle in one’s life.  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,” (Word for Life Says/The Centurion’s Great Faith).  All are welcomed before Him: man, woman, and child.  Many are quick to write off young people, but our youths’ matter to Jesus, too!  Everyone matters to Him!

“Forbid them not,” Jesus commanded.  Do not prevent people, no matter who they are, from drawing nearer to Christ.  The constraints that society then and now may put on some people are not recognized by God.

Youths especially come packed with potential.  For example, Samuel was dedicated to God as an incredibly young child (1 Sam. 1:21-28) and became a righteous judge of God’s people.  Josiah, became king at the tender age of 8 (2 Chr. 34:1), and “in the eighth year of his reign, while he was yet young, he began to seek after the God of David his father: and in the twelfth year he began to purge Judah and Jerusalem from the high places, and the groves, and the carved images, and the molten images,” (2 Chr. 34:3) and eventually went on to make great reformations for God’s people in turning them back to true worship (2 Chr. 34-35) which all started while he was still young.  Timothy learned from his grandmother and mother about true faith and helped the apostle Paul during his missionary journeys and in the establishing of new churches (2 Tim. 1:5).  And, let us not forget our Lord Jesus Christ who was found at the age of 12 in the temple with the “doctors”, amazing all who saw Him and heard “his understanding and answers,” (Luke 2:41-52).   It is far better that potential is tapped in young people for the glory of God than for the things of this world.

I am sure the disciples thought they were doing their best in providing protection and care for their Master.  Yet, Jesus has always had an open-door policy when it comes to people.  People matter to our Savior, even the littlest people – the kiddos.  Jesus always had a heart that burned for drawing people near and exposing to them the kingdom of God.  He loves people.  He loves children.  And He loves you, too!

“For of such is the kingdom of God.”  God’s kingdom is made of those who trust Him with total abandon and are dependent without inhibitions; that have faith and just believe as through the eyes of an innocent child.  Too many adults are hindered in their faith due to life experiences.  But children just accept and believe and love and trust.  They are prime examples of how His sheep come to the Shepherd and humbly follow His lead.

Faith as a Child

Mark 10:15 “Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein.”

Continuing His line of teaching on the kingdom of God, Jesus reiterates the one who wishes to enter in must “receive” it “as a little child.”  Those who choose not, forfeit their right to “enter therein.”

Why? Because the same characteristics that made that celebrated faith like a child acceptable in heaven are not found in those who refuse to receive it.  In fact, the exact opposite is usually what is present.  Instead of trusting, one may see self-sufficiency, and instead of a heart surrendered in faith, one may see it being lifted in pride.  Of course, one does not have to go far in realizing these are things God opposes.  They are not found in His children, the accessors of that heavenly kingdom, therefore to them who refuse to receive it as a child, access is denied.

The promise of heaven awaits any and all who will humble themselves as these children do and put on those same traits.  Walking in a lifestyle that opposes the fruit of the Spirit which is often found in these little ones is to oppose the working of the Spirit in that life.  Flesh wins and carnality overtakes that individual prohibiting them an opened door into the heavenly realm.

Do not be like the children of Israel.  God led them through the wilderness, and they fell short of the promise that lay ahead of them.  Losing out on the spiritual blessings of entering heaven would be far worse with more significant eternal consequences than that of an earthly Promised Land.  Therefore, it is prudent that one takes on this faith, which He describes as being like a child in their trust and willingness to receive, that they may enter in.

Blessed by Jesus

Mark 10:16 “And he took them up in his arms, put his hands upon them, and blessed them.”

After His lesson on the benefits of having the same faith as these little ones that were brought before Him, Jesus granted the parent’s request and “blessed them.” 

Look at Jesus’ actions closely. He did not just speak a word over them as He could have.  He did not send one of the disciples to relay the blessings.  No.  He got personally involved with each child there in showing them the compassion of the Savior.  He lifted “them up in his arms, put his hands upon them, and blessed them.”  I get the impression that He possibly took the time to lay hands on each child individually as any good father or spiritual leader would and speak a word of encouragement over each one of them (just my thoughts).

Remember our introduction: “The child never worries about being caught.  The child never worries about being hurt.  The child only sees daddy.  Daddy loves me, daddy cares for me, I trust daddy and daddy will never let me fall.  Therefore, I will enjoy playing with daddy.”  Jesus is calling for all of us to turn to Him with that same kind of innocent and trusting faith found in children.  Your heavenly Daddy loves you!  Turn to Him.

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

Suggested Activities:

Lesson Opener:  If you tried to put a picture to the word faith, what would that picture look like? What would it show? (As you present the questions in the following paragraph to open the lesson, have pictures ready that depict the scenes being spoken of.)

Would we see one authoritatively speaking with power to the multitudes (show picture)?  Would we see miracles and signs being performed (show picture)?  Or would you see the face of an innocent child (show picture)?

When Jesus taught about what those who enter the kingdom of God and what they would be compared to, in this lesson, He likened them to the picture of an innocent child.

While all the others are very real signs of things being done by those who profess and walk in the faith – what it all boils down to is if one wants to enter His heavenly kingdom, they must, in faith, receive it as a child.

Adult Journal Page: Adult Journal Page – Jesus Blesses the Children

Kid’s Journal Page: Kid’s Journal Page – Jesus Blesses the Children

Blank Journal Pages: These pages, one designed for adults and one for children, can be used to bring out, remember, or write a particular part of the lesson you wish for you and/or your class to focus on.  Click>>Blank Adult and Kid’s Journal Pages to access the journal pages.

Paper Bag Puppet Craft:  Younger students can also put together a paper bag puppet depicting themselves and, on the back, attach the phrase from the printable available on site which states, “Jesus Thinks I’m Special, Too!”  Click here for the printable PDF.

 

Draw the Scene: Jesus Blesses the Children Draw the Scene

Memory Verse: Jesus Blesses the Children Memory Verse

Word Search: Jesus Blesses the Children Word Search  Answers: Jesus Blesses the Children Word Search Answers

Crossword: Jesus Blesses the Children Crossword  Answers: Jesus Blesses the Children Crossword Answers

Word Scramble: Jesus Blesses the Children Word Scramble  Answers: Jesus Blesses the Children Word Scramble Answers

Copyright © Word For Life Says.com (Sharing any posts or lessons can only be done through the share buttons provided on this site from the original posts, lessons, and articles only. You can reblog from the original posts only using the reblog button provided, or share using the share buttons provided from these social media platforms: Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest, etc., and they must be shared from the original posts only. All other repostings are prohibited. Posts and other items of interest found on this site MAY NOT BE COPIED AND PASTED, downloaded, uploaded, etc to another website or entity not listed (physical or electronic).  See COPYRIGHT PAGE for more details.

Sunday School Lesson – “Faith Without Works is Dead” James 2:14-26

VERSE DISCOVERY: James 2:14-26 (KJV, Public Domain)

Remember the days of “Show and Tell” at school?  It was an opportunity for one to not just talk about what they do or have, but to display visible evidence before their classmates of a possession or skill.

Jesus was a “Show and Tell” Savior.  He drew many crowds to Himself through the many miracles that He performed: feeding 5,000, healing the sick, raising the dead, and so on.  People would often marvel at what He could do.  He did more than just talk the talk or preach and lecture, He demonstrated the power of the Kingdom of God through Himself.

While you and I may not be multiplying a boy’s lunch to feed 5,000, we can through our actions and service toward one another, volunteer to feed some.  We may not be raising the dead or healing the sick (although, miracles really do still happen), we can volunteer to comfort and help those around us in need.  What this does is it shows that we are more than just talk; rather our faith is manifested in what we do.

James knew that people needed to see the church displaying tangible evidence of what they say they believe, especially when it comes down to how we treat one another.  Jesus, along with many others in the Bible, let their works speak for them.  And, how they worked showed what the real measure of their concern and faith was on the inside.

No Actions. No Proof.

 James 2:14 “What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him?”

This section of verses picks up right where James left off his teaching against having respect of persons and dealing with how we treat people.

In my opinion, right at the beginning of this lesson, James seems to be questioning the validity of someone’s faith without works, without evidence.  He said, “What doth it profit?”  What does it profit you?  What does it profit for others around you?

For a man or woman to say they have faith or are in the faith without evidence to back it up is like saying one is a doctor without a degree to prove it.  When I go into a doctor’s office, I am one of those people who will read the accreditations on the wall.  This is proof that they can take care of me.  What I see before me is speaking up on behalf of the individual to whom I am submitting myself for care.  Those papers hanging on the walls are little, personal testimonies.

Faith that is worked out operates in the same manner.  Faith is not silent.  Faith is full of action.  Faith is alive.  Faith is shared through works to testify of its genuineness and sincerity.  Faith does more than move mountains.  If it is lived out in the lives of the men and women of God, it can help move hearts toward salvation!

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

Where is the profit if there is no proof?  What can you and I show to a hurting world that we have their best interest in mind; that we genuinely care about them as a person?

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

Is this one’s faith real or not?  Words without supplying to the physical, emotional, or spiritual comfort and support of another in distress are what these two verses speak of.  But, all too often, how many times have we heard or spoken of what should be done to help others without putting in some work to help society move toward that goal?

All that talking becomes useless speech.  Unless we move past the act of just talking and show that we care through the act of doing; unless we put some backbone and muscle behind our mouths, the world will never see the true love of Jesus Christ in action.

That is what it’s all about, isn’t it?  It is going beyond pulpits and church walls to work at meeting the needs of the communities that we are in, to put the love of Christ on display through our actions and not just our words.  Obviously, some people, churches, and communities can do more than others.  That is not what James is after here.  He just wants us to get up, move past complacency, and just do something.

James saw no positive effect for others in just words alone.  Speaking “peace” without lifting a finger to physically help satisfy the present need, to him it was not true faith.  True faith believes and then allows that belief to be put to work.  True faith has heavenly aspirations that work out to show good on earth.  So, he asked, “What doth it profit” without it?  What is each of us doing now that is benefiting his fellow man and the kingdom of heaven?

James 2:17-18 “Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.  Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.”

What you profess and what you do together should match up to display a well-rounded Christian.  People cannot claim they are heaven bound and yet show no heavenly fruit in their lives.  Such claims to faith are “dead,” meaning there is nothing in it to prove it is alive and real.

Don’t you know, you can start today to make a difference?  You can start where you are and with what you have.  You do not need a personal invitation to love and serve others.  What are you waiting for?  Show the world that God is alive in you!  Put some action behind those words you speak!

One may say, “Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.”  Our faith, which comes through hearing the Word of God (Rom. 10:17) should compel us to actively participate in the things that are written of or spoken through that Word; it should get us involved in the things that God is concerned about.  The faith that shows that the Word is working in us is the faith that can do more.  Therefore, faith and works do not go against each other, rather, they support one another in proving that Christ is alive and active on the inside of the believer (compare with James 2:22 notes below).

When that happens, this, in turn, shines a light to the world reflecting Him.  Matthew 5:16 says, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven,” (emphasis mine).  This light shines by what it is doing; by “good works.”  This kind of faith can make a bigger impact in this world and draw more people to God.

James 2:19-20 “Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.  But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?”

One’s claim to faith goes beyond just believing in the very real fact that there is a one and only true living God.  It is living out that belief in one’s daily life.  It’s working His works.  James opened our perspective this way by saying that’s good; that’s a start, that’s right, “thou doest well” to believe.  Everything in our faith walk begins with believing.  But, where does it go from there?    

He goes on to say, “The devils also believe, and tremble,” but they’re still “devils.”  They know there is a God.  They believe He exists, but they are not bowing their selves to working His works.  They are not obeying Him.  They are not working His will.  They are not in a relationship with God; rather, they work against everything God is, loves, and stands for.

But, what of those who claim they are in a relationship with God through faith?  Where is the fruit of their faith?

Faith without fruit is not an operational faith.  It is stale.  It’s stagnated.  It does no good.  Real faith must act out what it is experiencing on the inside.  Real, genuine faith will not just be content in a life of mediocrity – never accomplishing or making a difference for His kingdom.  Real faith wants to see better in and for people’s lives.  Real faith shows itself and overflows to those around him or her.

Therefore, if faith is meant to be alive and active and shown to the world through works, then “faith without works is dead.”  The one who claims they believe without any evidence to support that proclamation is “vain,” useless, hollow, in other words, no good.

Rather, when we come to that great and glorious day, Jesus wants to say, “Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord,” (Matthew 25:23, emphasis mine).  Those who have put their faith into action and have “done” something with what He has given them can make a difference.  God can use people like this in the world.  But He cannot do that unless you work what He has given you.

If it is not working – it’s “dead.”  It’s lifeless with no functioning activities.  It is useless!

Much Action. Much Proof.

James 2:21-24 “Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar?  Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect?  And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God.  Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.”

Genesis 15:6 declares of Abram, “And he believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness.”  This was after God told him to count the stars and see if he could number them.  God then told him, “So shall thy seed be,” (Genesis 15:5).

At another point, Abraham was forced to send Hagar and Ishmael away, but God gave him this promise: “for in Isaac shall thy seed be called,” (Genesis 21:12).

Then there came the day when Abraham’s faith was tested to see if he still believed in the God of those promises that were spoken unto him; to see if the faith and righteousness that was attributed to him was true on the inside and not just an outward, surface claim to faith.  By taking action to obey God in going forth with the procedure to offer “Isaac his son upon the altar,” he manifested through his works the very realness of his faith.  His faith, in turn, became a testimony before the whole world.  Abraham’s story does not just talk about faith, it shows how his faith was worked out (compare Hebrews 11:17-19).

His actions demonstrated his heart.  “Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect.”  Pay attention to that word “with” (compare this to the notes above in James 2:18) which speaks to the accompanying factor of each coming alongside one another as agents together to show what he was really made of; to show his true belief in God alone, regardless of the way things outwardly appeared.  Jointly, they showed his true faith nature, and jointly, “by works was faith made perfect,” or complete.

“And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness.”  Referencing the above verse quote I noted earlier from Genesis 15:6, James saw a fulfilling of that verse through the actions of Abraham, through his obedience.  Abraham’s faith was real, and it was shown by what he did (compare Romans 4:3; Galatians 3:6).

“And he was called a friend of God.”  Abraham’s experiences with God drew his heart closer to God in obedience and in turn, he was considered a friend of God (compare 2 Chronicles 20:7; Isaiah 41:8), in such a way that God was even able to reveal to Abraham what His plans were for the destruction of Sodom (see Genesis 18:17-18).

Jesus once taught, “Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.  Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you,” (John 15:14-15).  As His Father revealed to Abraham, His friend, of His plans, so too does Jesus reveal the will of God to those disciples, to those who obey Him, for they are His friends, too.

James put the two together as in a great summation: “Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.”  James was calling his readers to put their faith on display.  To show they had a lively faith.  To show the world that you are not just all talk, but the love of Christ is in you and manifesting through you to touch a world in need.  Put Him on display that when eyes see you, they might see Him.

The Apostle Paul put it like this, “Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ,” (1 Corinthians 11:1).  In the chapter before, he left off saying he was not seeking his own profit.  But in all that he did, he was seeking the “profit of many, that they might be saved,” (1 Corinthians 10:33).

While works cannot save us they show that we are saved, they are telling proof that we are “justified” and moving in the same direction as our Christ.  And, what we do, can, in fact, profit others (compare to Paul’s statement above from 1 Corinthians 10:33 regarding what he was doing was for the “profit of many” and James asking in the above verses (James 2:14-16), about what does it profit when the works are missing from the faith).

James 2:25 “Likewise also was not Rahab the harlot justified by works, when she had received the messengers, and had sent them out another way?”

Here is another example of WHAT YOU DO MATTERS!  I cannot overemphasize those words enough.  Rahab could have lost her life if she had been found helping the enemy of her people.  But she heard about all God had done in delivering His people against their enemies (Joshua 2:10) and it made the people of Jericho’s hearts melt (Joshua 2:11).  But Rahab believed for more. She said, “I know that the LORD hath given you the land, and that your terror is fallen upon us,” (Joshua 2:9). Not only did she express belief in all that God has done and was still doing, but she also went as far as to take these men in her home and personally sought for their care and safety.  That was a bold step for her.  Her faith was put into action.  To make a long story short, for those in her house, their lives were spared in the fall of Jericho because of her active, working faith which landed her in the hall of fame of faith (Hebrews 11:31).

James 2:26 “For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.”

The body is a physical shell, so to speak, that houses the spirit.  At the time of death, the spirit departs and goes back to God (Ecclesiastes 12:7) leaving behind the lifeless shell that remains.  When we attend funerals and view our dearly departed all we see is what is left, the outer man, the shell.  “So faith without works is dead also.”  Faith, without the outward workings of tangible evidence, is just as dead as a body without a spirit.  Life is not represented there.

Our actions testify to the faith that we say we have in us.  What we do or how we live out our faith matters.  Jesus taught, “Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me,” (Matthew 25:40; read Matthew 25:31-46 for further explanation).

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

No action.  No proof.  Much action.  Much proof.

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 – Faith Without Works is Dead

Suggested Activities:

Adult Journal Page: Adult Journal Page – Faith Without Works is Dead

Kid’s Journal Page: Kid’s Journal Page – Faith Without Works is Dead

Blank Journal Pages: These pages, one designed for adults and one for children, can be used to bring out, remember, or write a particular part of the lesson you wish for you and/or your class to focus on.  Click>>Blank Adult and Kid’s Journal Pages to access the journal pages.

Draw the Scene: Faith Without Works is Dead Draw the Scene

In getting across the idea of “Faith Without Works is Dead” I used crafts incorporating the hands (as seen in previous lessons) since that’s what we use the most to show other’s love to and help them (see below). Enjoy!

LACE IT UP HANDPRINT:

One craft idea is to simply have students trace their handprint on cardstock or use this Handprint Craft Cutout printed on cardstock for this project because it’s sturdier, and then cut it out.   Using a hole punch, go around the outer edges of the picture of the hand (these will be for lacing).  Students can then decorate and lace with ribbon, colorful shoelaces, or yarn (note: if you use ribbon like I did, you may want to wrap the ends in tape to make a little aglet like on a shoelace to make it easier to navigate through the holes).  You or your students can even write a memory verse reference directly on your project. (Example pictured below)

 

HANDPRINT NECKLACE:

Continuing with our hand theme, students can make a Handprint Necklace (example pictured below – I used construction paper with tracing).  Students can trace their handprint onto construction paper or cardstock or use this Handprint Craft Cutout and cut out.  Punch one hole in the top.  Using ribbon or yarn and cut up straws, beads, or whatever you have laying around (even loop cereal).  Let them have fun and decorate it as they see fit. You or your students can even write a memory verse reference directly on your project.

Charades: To bring home the idea of “doing”, have students play a game of Charades.  But, for this game of charades, have ideas in the bucket that people can do to help others, make them feel loved, and show your faith (ex. Sweep the floor for someone, pick flowers to show love, wash the dishes to be helpful, visit the sick, welcome everyone, etc.)  Emphasize there are a lot of ways we can show our faith through our “doings”.  You can even have students come up with ideas to throw in the bucket and see if others can figure out what they wrote.

Card Match: Play any card matching game (or make your own using ideas from the lesson) to highlight the idea of how our actions should “match” the faith we say we have.  If you do not want to do a “Show and Tell” as a lesson opener (as listed in the PDF lesson packet), this activity would work well in its place as an object lesson.

Word Search: Faith Without Works is Dead Word Search  Answers: Faith Without Works is Dead Word Search Answers

Crossword: Faith Without Works is Dead Crossword  Answers: Faith Without Works is Dead Crossword Answers

Word Scramble: Faith Without Works is Dead Word Scramble  Answers: Faith Without Works is Dead Word Scramble Answers

Copyright © Word For Life Says.com (Sharing any posts or lessons can only be done through the share buttons provided on this site from the original posts, lessons, and articles only. You can reblog from the original posts only using the reblog button provided, or share using the share buttons provided from these social media platforms: Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest, etc., and they must be shared from the original posts only. All other repostings are prohibited. Posts and other items of interest found on this site MAY NOT BE COPIED AND PASTED, downloaded, uploaded, etc to another website or entity not listed (physical or electronic).  See COPYRIGHT PAGE for more details.

Sunday School Lesson – “Doers of the Word” James 1:19-27

VERSE DISCOVERY: James 1:19-27 (KJV, Public Domain)

The word “do” is a word of action.  It begs for the spirit of complacency to be put off and done away with.

“Do” wants you to go after it, not just to observe it, but to put it to work.  To allow it to become a part of you.  To allow it to be represented in you.

“Do” wants to see things accomplished.  “Do” wants to act when others only want to hear and speculate.  And, when it comes to the Word of God, nothing less than “do” is acceptable. Because “do” puts into practice what it reads and hears.  Those who are doers are not satisfied with anything less than God’s active Word being active in their own life.

James, in his book, really talks a lot about Christian living.  His book opens our understanding of what it really means to live out God’s Word in our lives through deliberate action and not just complacent listening. 

Do – Be Mindful of Others

 James 1:19-20 “Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath: For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God.”

Being mindful of others affect how we respond and communicate with individuals on a personal level.  It is the works and the Word of God we want to be manifested in our lives and not our own selfish ambitions, anger, or agendas.

In these verses and the ones following, James lays out guidelines and precepts for human communication and purposeful thoughtfulness in our response to others.  By using the words “every man” he implies that these are good guidelines for any and everyone to follow when dealing with one another.

First, “be swift to hear.”  I must admit in the age where texting and social media is the prevalent form of communication, really learning to sit down and hear someone out is a passing characteristic trait.  This being “swift to hear” is not for one who is running to hear gossip about others.  Rather, it is the ability to stay oneself in a conversation where another can unload a burden, where another can trust you to be their confidant in the time of trouble, or where you can invest in hearing the whole of the matter, digesting it completely before offering your two cents on the subject at hand.

Thusly, we are commanded to “be slow to speak.”  If you have ever been in one of those conversations where the other person is always jumping in and cutting you off, you know how it can be a real put-off.  Proverbs 21:23 reminds us, “Whoso keepeth his mouth and his tongue keepeth his soul from troubles.”  Many of the misunderstandings that occur between people are because the right words were not spoken at the right time, rather the wrong words were spoken at the wrong time (see James 3 for more on this tongue of trouble).

Then, this verse admonishes us to be “slow to wrath.”  Proverbs 14:29 tells us, “He that is slow to wrath is of great understanding: but he that is hasty of spirit exalteth folly.”  The one with a quick temper shows his/her lack of self-control.  Oh, how easy it is to let loose and lash out.  But what great strength is shown in the one who does not.

One part of the fruit of the Spirit is “temperance” (Gal. 5:23), which means self-control.  In other words, the passions of the flesh that provoke one to rise in anger are not to have the final rule or say.  We, as Christians, are to allow the working of the Spirit to have free course as opposed to that of the fleshly desire.  That is why Paul said, “I keep my body, and bring it into subjection…” (1 Cor. 9:27a).  He, as well as we, are running this Christian race and often that requires putting the things we feel under the obedience of Christ who Himself was our living example (see Is. 53:7).

“For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God.”  “Man” operates with fleshly inclinations.  What that means is man is not infinitely wise and all-knowing as our heavenly Father is who said, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD,” (Is. 55:8).  Man, judges according to his finite knowledge and abilities, especially in times of anger where his judgment could be clouded and impaired by raging emotions.

This often causes man to lash out on his own without first prayerfully considering the consequences and recourses of his actions, thereby not producing the “righteousness of God.”  That is why the Apostle Paul admonishes us, “Be ye angry and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath,” (Eph. 4:26).  Proverbs 16:32 tells us, “He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty; and he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a city.”  He who can control his emotions in this manner through inner strength is stronger than the one who can conquer a city with his outer strength.

James 1:21 “Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls.”

“Lay apart.”  Take it off!  These things are not only destructive to oneself, but they are also destructive to others when unleashed.  These things can hold an individual back from being all that God has called them to be.  Hindrances that get in the way of one fulfilling God’s Word in their lives.  James said to lay it apart – take it off because it is not profitable to “save your souls.”

Rather, “receive with meekness the engrafted word.”  “Receive” means to bring into oneself.  This is what we want to lay ownership to and put on: “the engrafted word.”  The Word is an essential component in the spiritually mature life.  It upholds us (Ps. 119:116).  Through the Word, faith is increased (Rom. 10:17).  The Word is our weapon to fight with (Eph. 6:17).  The Word lights the pathway for us (Ps. 119:105).  The Christian cannot live without the Word.  God freely gives it to us “for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness,” (2 Tim. 3:16), that when we “receive” it with “meekness” we will know how to operate like Him and not according to our fleshly wrath and ways.

Do – Put Actions Behind What You Hear

James 1:22 “But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.”

“But be ye doers of the word.”  A “doer” is a person marked by activity and action.  It is a person who is not complacent (refer back to the introduction), content with just sitting on the sidelines.  This person believes in getting in there, rolling their sleeves up, and working the Word to its fullest capacity.

God’s Word is not an aquarium.  In an aquarium, we view the fish from the outside.  We do not go in and interact with them.  We just watch them swimming along and think about how beautiful and peaceful they are.  God’s Word is beautiful and peaceful, but it is also meant to be lived out; it is meant to be interacted with, and it is meant to be active in the life of every believer.  One is not just to be an observer or a “hearer” but a “doer.” 

They that only hear are “deceiving your own selves.”  Many pack churches out on Sunday’s to fulfill their “weekly obligation” of attending church without having a personal relationship with the Word; without contemplating and applying its truths to their own lives.  This may make one appear spiritually rich on the outside, but on the inside, they have cheated themselves out of its rich rewards.  This is deceptive to self.

James 1:23-25 “For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was. But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.”

There, in the morning rush to get out of the door, a dash to the mirror to make sure every hair is in place and the face is in order.  Walking away, another dash to the mirror to verify once again that everything looked okay.  Again, in the car, adjust the mirror once again to reaffirm what one looks like, and so on; readjusting and running back to the mirror so that outwardly things may appear right.

One who does not have an active relationship with the Word does not have it as a constant measuring stick to live by.  Think of a leveling tool that is used in construction to make sure everything lines up evenly and according to plan.  Without that level, walls could end up slanted and out of place causing the entire structure to be unstable.  Just taking a quick glance or eyeing it will not give a good representation.  You need the tool to be sure.

The Word is that tool that keeps us in line so that we will not “forget what manner of man he was.”  He who is a “doer” of the Word has an active relationship with the Word and keeps coming back to it to align his or herself aright.  This is the one who looks intently and intentionally into the Word, here referred to as “the perfect law of liberty” and sees it for the truth marker that it is.

“This man shall be blessed in his deed.”  Luke 11:28 says, “Blessed are they that hear the word of God, and keep it;” a promise that is spoken over and over again in the Bible (see also Deut. 4:40; John 13:17 and Rom. 2:13).  God’s blessings are poured out on the “doers,” not just the “hearers.”  The “doer” is the one who despite his/her feelings does the will of the Father (see Jesus’ parable in Mt. 21:28-31).  Jesus was a “doer!”  In agony, He declared, “Nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done,” (Lk. 22:42).

Do – Match Your Actions with Your Profession of Faith

James 1:26-27 “If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man’s religion is vain. 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.”

Here is a reiteration of where the lesson began with instructions on being swift to hear and slow to speak.  One can seem holy and pious on the outside but if that little inside member known as the “tongue” is not brought under control, “this man’s religion is vain.” 

If the Word is not active in his life causing him to operate in love and concern for his fellow brethren, rather seeks to tear others down, his religion is not fruitful.  It is not producing the things that will draw men to Christ, instead, it is repelling.  The Word is meant to go beyond just believing it.  It is meant to be put into operation and lived.

James, in essence, was saying, if you really want to know if the Word is at work in one’s life, watch what they do.  “Pure religion and undefiled” fulfill the command of God in their lives.  “Pure religion” is not seen in just talk, but in fruitful actions.  It shows in their care of others like: “to visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction.”  It goes beyond just being a hearer and displays actual evidence of being a doer.  It is also shown in how they line themselves up to the Word “to keep himself unspotted from the world.”  The proof is in the pudding, so to speak.  A “doer” shows what they believe, whereas a “hearer” is only a complacent bystander.

There are enough hearers, observers, and viewers of the faith.  God needs some action heroes that will allow the Word to work in their lives.  God needs more “doers!”

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 – Doers of the Word

Suggested Activities:

Lesson Opener: On a board, write the words Hearer on one side, and Doer on the other. Draw a line down the middle of the two.  Ask students to give you ideas on what can be used to describe each word.

Under the two columns in all caps write the word OBEY as big as your board will let you.  To obey is to hear instructions and then follow through.  Explain what it would be like to just hear without doing.  That is not obeying.  Ultimately, God is looking for our faith to be worked out in our lives through obedience and that means we have to not only listen to what He says, but we have to put into action what God says.

Lesson Lead-In: One option for a lesson lead-in is to talk about or show a fun online cute video about animal training. Talk about the ups and downs of training and the rewards when training is successful.

Our lesson tells us, “He being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed,” (James 1:25).  There is always a reward in doing what God asks us to, and not just hearing about it.  When we are Doers of the Word, we are living a life that is pleasing to God.  We put a smile on God’s face when we obey.

Adult Journal Page: Adult Journal Page – Doers of the Word

Kid’s Journal Page: Kid’s Journal Page – Doers of the Word

Draw the Scene: Doers of the Word Draw the Scene

Mini-Puzzle Activity: After students have drawn their picture using the Draw the Scene sheet (above), they can cut the square portion of the sheet and cut it into several pieces to use as a mini-puzzle.  If you choose this option for an activity, as always it is best to print out the page using cardstock or glue the regular paper to construction paper for stability.

Paper Bag Puppets: Younger students can design paper bag puppets featuring themselves.  After completion, have them attach the “I Will Be a Doer of God’s Word” Button to the back of their puppets.

Declaration Buttons: Using the buttons link and picture from above, students can make their own buttons to wear, declaring to be Doers of God’s Word (print out on cardstock or glue to construction paper for stability).  Color, decorate, and tape or glue a safety pin to the back.  Bonus: using the same materials, punch a hole in the top and string through with yarn to design a necklace. 

Aquarium Activities: From the statement pulled from the lesson saying, “God’s Word is not an aquarium just to be looked at.  We are called to be doers of the Word,” you can find any fish, aquarium, or similar crafts and activities to incorporate into this lesson.  Or, make a construction paper fishbowl with this lesson quote in it.  An easy activity sheet is provided below to be used as-is or you cut the fishbowl out as a template for a craft.

Doers of the Word Activity Sheet

 

Fishbowl Toss Review Game: Buy a cheap fishbowl or make one out of virtually anything and some little balls or toy fish.  Armed with a list of questions, if a student can answer the question correctly (also use True or False and Fill in the Blank questions), then they get a point for their team and a chance to shoot the ball or fish into the fishbowl.  If the ball or fish goes into the bowl, then they get another point for their team.  This review game can be as simple or as challenging as you want and can easily be adapted for many ages and levels of learning.   

Word Search: Doers of the Word Word Search  Answers: Doers of the Word Word Search Answers

Crossword: Doers of the Word Crossword  Answers: Doers of the Word Crossword Answers

Word Scramble: Doers of the Word Word Scramble  Answers: Doers of the Word Word Scramble Answers

Copyright © Word For Life Says.com (Sharing any posts or lessons can only be done through the share buttons provided on this site from the original posts, lessons, and articles only. You can reblog from the original posts only using the reblog button provided, or share using the share buttons provided from these social media platforms: Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest, etc., and they must be shared from the original posts only. All other repostings are prohibited. Posts and other items of interest found on this site MAY NOT BE COPIED AND PASTED, downloaded, uploaded, etc to another website or entity not listed (physical or electronic).  See COPYRIGHT PAGE for more details.

 

Sunday School Lesson – “Count it All Joy!” James 1:1-12

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

What do you do when life doesn’t seem to want to play fair?  When all the boxes don’t check off in all the right places and everything seems out of whack – what do you do?

For some, remaining optimistic during trials is harder than others.  Firstly, every trial that every individual person deals with is not the same.  Some things that may be troubling to one, but in reality, is only a minor inconvenience and annoyance, to others, they may be battling tooth and nail to keep their head above the water of the adversity they are facing.

Then, we have each person’s natural dispositions on how they specifically handle tumultuous events.  Where one sees the dark clouds others can readily point out the silver lining.

For those whom James was addressing in his letter, he knew they were being hounded by real troubles and not just a matter of inconvenience.  He knew of the hardships and oppression they were experiencing.  Yet, through it all, he wanted these believers to focus on the positive fruit all the things they were experiencing in their life could produce.

Let Patience Have Her Perfect Work

James 1:1-4 “James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad, greeting.  My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience.  But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.”

This “James”, who addresses himself as “a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ” is supposed by many to be the actual brother of our Lord Jesus Christ.  While Jesus was going about fulfilling His earthly ministry, his brothers were not part of those who supported that ministry (see John 7:3-5).  As a matter of fact, it is supposed that it wasn’t until after he had seen the risen Lord for himself, that James, the natural, half-brother of Jesus Christ, believed and became a follower and a leader in the early church (1 Corinthians 15:7; Acts 1:14).

Which is why he is writing this letter “to the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad.”  As a leader in the early church (Galatians 2:9; Acts 15:13-22), his care for members of the body of Christ is evident in the time and care he takes to write to them about their personal growth in the Lord, the discipline of the faith, conducting personal behaviors pleasing to the Lord, and yes, remaining hopeful in the midst of it all.

In this section of Scripture, James didn’t downplay the suffering some were experiencing.  Rather, he encouraged them to remain focused on what truly matters.  Therefore, he begins this letter by admonishing then to “count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations.”

“Count it all joy” – when you really think about that statement, it’s naturally a very difficult thing to do.  It’s very similar to the Apostle Paul’s teaching to which he says, “In every thing give thanks…” (1 Thessalonians 5:18).

Those words “all” and “every thing” can encompass a great many circumstances.  Circumstances that wouldn’t need encouragement to remain joyful and thankful if they weren’t adverse.  Nobody needs to be encouraged to be happy when they are already happy.  It’s when things become hard and unbearable that leaders such as James try to cheer them on to see that silver lining in a dark cloud.

James goes on to say, “Count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations,” or, various trials.  You know what, I have given birth to four different children and each labor experience was different.  Some were scary, some were painful, some were eventful, while others were uneventful.  No two were alike.  Each one was different.  During one, I thought I was going to lose that baby, and during one, my own health was compromised.

But life is like that.  The degrees and variables surrounding each hardship are unique to that particular time, place, situation, and person.  They all don’t come packed in the same neat packaging, for if they did, we could really prepare our actions and reactions to each case.  Trials come looking and feeling many ways and sometimes it’s hard getting a grip on it all and adjusting one’s mindset to see the positive.

But James didn’t focus on the many things people see, feel, and experience now.  He focused on the many things it would produce.

First, he said, “Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience.”  If you have ever exercised with resistance bands, you know how difficult it can be.  You are using your own body’s strength, be it little or big, to purposely add pressure and pull to an already hard work out.

The “trying of our faith” is working for us, for our good, even though it seems to be opposing us.  That which is hard to deal with is actually teaching us in a way that an easy path, with no resistance, ever could.  It is producing in us virtues and spiritual fruit (Romans 5:3-6) that really will have no way of growing in us if it were not for the adverse circumstances we become occasionally planted in.

Here, in James’ teaching, he is showing them the flip side of what they are feeling.  He’s showing them that what they are going through, those things that feel like they are wearing their faith down, is actually producing “patience” in them.  This patience is all about endurance.  One will never know how to go through hardships and stand if they have never been given the opportunity to exercise that faith and endure.

We read about Bible characters and their stories, and we think, oh, put me in the lion’s den, or let me at Goliath, or some other situation alike, and I know what to do because the Bible tells us what they did.  When reading the lives in these stories, we must not become desensitized to the power and faith it took for an individual to keep remaining true to their faith despite a death threat or to face a monster of a man on the battlefield.  Until we have our own Nebuchadnezzar to stand before with the resolve to refuse to bow and worship a false image, no matter how hot the situation was getting, we will never know what it’s like to endure trials such as these that build our faith unless we go through it for ourselves.

“But let patience have her perfect work.”  If you want to grow and produce things conducive to strong faith, then let that same patience work it out in you.  Every Christian should strive for mature, tested, and tried fruit of these spiritual disciplines to be produced in their life.

Every day we should want to do better and to be better, but a lot of that will never come to be unless we work at letting “patience have her perfect work.”  Then, will we grow, being “perfect and entire, wanting nothing” in the development of our Christian character, now being ripe fruit, fit for the Master’s use.

Ask in Faith and Don’t Waver

James 1:5-8 “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.  But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed.  For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord.  A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.”

“Faith” is a key factor in this opening of James’ letter.  In the trying and in the producing, faith comes to the forefront of a must-have list.

“Wisdom” is needed in so many areas of life.  Proper wisdom is needed all the more when facing opposition.  Wisdom is one of the best tools one should have in their arsenal when navigating or combatting trying times.

Previously I wrote,

“Strength and weapons are carnal devices that depend on fleshly know-how and might.  Often these are the first resources that man runs to in times of difficulty and adversity.  Wisdom is dependent upon God.  ‘The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; Fools despise wisdom and instruction,’ Proverbs 1:7.

Would it not be more prudent in the days of trials to follow the path of wisdom whose Author is God?” (Wisdom is Better/Word for Life Says).

James said, “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God.”  It is very possible to be in the midst of contentions and not know what to do or how to respond.  God has opened Himself up to us to receive what we need to succeed in this Christian journey.  The Apostle Peter, one of Jesus’ original disciples, wrote, “According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness…” (2 Peter 1:3; emphasis mine) and that includes wisdom.  God gives it to the one who asks, but when he or she asks, it must be done in “faith.”

Faith supports faith.  The one here, who is in a trial and dealing with contentions because of their faith, are to ask in faith, of the Father, for the proper wisdom of how to continue forward in their faith while going through.

Steadfast, believing faith is necessary for every aspect of our Christian walk.  To “waver” in that is to sway in that belief and in the one who is the Author of that belief.

James gives the picture of this one being “like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed.”  I love the ocean.  I love the beach.  When vacationing, it’s one of my favorite places to visit.  One of the things I most enjoy while there is standing on the shoreline and watching the waves come in and go out.  The ebb and flow of the waters are always moving, never still, and never steady.

While beautiful to look at in nature, in our Christian character that’s not what we’re looking for.  We want to be rooted and grounded in what we believe and whom we believe – that He is able to answer our prayers and give us the wisdom we need.  To shun that, through not asking in faith, is to shun the benefits one would have received otherwise.

James warns, “For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord.”  Too many are living the faith they profess to have without living in complete faith and assurance in the “Lord.”  It may be possible for people to live in compliance with regulations of the faith and have the spirit of faith missing.

This one has a divided mindset.  James considers them to be a “double minded man” who is “unstable in all his ways.”  If he or she can’t get off the fence here, before the very foundation of their faith, when praying and asking of God, other areas of life are guaranteed to be constantly shifting and fluctuating as well, being blown about in uncertainty.

But for the one, who in complete faith, is asking God for wisdom, God will give it “liberally” and “it shall be given him.”  Wow!  What a promise!

Endure, There is an Eternal Reward

James 1:9-12 “Let the brother of low degree rejoice in that he is exalted: But the rich, in that he is made low: because as the flower of the grass he shall pass away.  For the sun is no sooner risen with a burning heat, but it withereth the grass, and the flower thereof falleth, and the grace of the fashion of it perisheth: so also shall the rich man fade away in his ways.  Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him.”

Rich or poor, it doesn’t matter.  Everyone will experience trials.  And, everyone can be taught valuable lessons through those trials.  All social classes and backgrounds can find joy during times of adversity.

How is that?

James explains it like this.  For the poor, or him of “low degree,” such a one can “rejoice in that he is exalted.”  This one’s “right now status” does not determine their joy in life.

It is easy to see the ones without… without as much as others, without as many financial resources, without proper education, and anything else this world stores up as markers for success and happiness.

This one may think he is justified in being sullen, withdrawn, and living a pity-party lifestyle that no one wants to attend.  Contrarily, James points out the opposite.  Regardless of what he has or didn’t have; no matter how others view his lowliness, or even how he views himself, James declares that joy and rejoicing should still be found in his heart because of the God whom he has placed his trust in, and not his haves and have nots.

In this, too, he can “rejoice.”  When it’s all said and done, when he parts from this world, it is God who will “exalt” him to the things he has never seen with human eyes or even imagined (compare 1 Corinthians 2:9).  He may not have as much as another, but in his trials and temptations, he can still count it all joy!

When Jesus was teaching the Beatitudes, at the end of all those “blessed are” statements that would point out circumstances in which one wouldn’t normally find joy in, Jesus speaks these words: “Rejoice, and be exceedingly glad: for great is your reward in heaven,” (Matthew 5:12).  His comments were spoken in relation to being persecuted, something James’ readers are all too familiar with, yet, what He points out is that even in that hardship, Jesus Himself said, “Rejoice!”

And, He wasn’t teaching anything contrary to what He Himself was not willing to do.  Hebrews 12:2 tells us, “…who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame…”

As those who are linked to Him in faith, James said every believer can count it all joy no matter their privileged or underprivileged status and life.

And the “rich” are to remember, in humility, that though they may have a lot right now, their days are moving just as fast as anyone else’s in this lifespan each of us has been allotted.  Life is a vapor, here today, gone tomorrow (James 4:14).

“As the flower of the grass he shall pass away.”  Riches cannot increase his time or secure him a better end.  He, too, must depend on the same salvation, the same saving grace, as one who may be without and lacking.  The businesses, the homes, the money – nothing he has accumulated in this life will account for anything in eternity.  Outside of Christ, low or high, rich or poor, we are all nothing.

So, when this one faces trials and temptations, he too can count it all joy for he is made keenly aware that his days and life here are very brief.  That awareness brings him “low”; it centers and focuses him on what matters the most.

Both types of trials and temptations are a gift for they both, whether for the rich or poor, should keep us before the Lord in humility and dependence.  Not a one has a reason to glory in his own flesh or circumstances.  Before God, it’s the heart of the man that matters the most.  Not what he has or doesn’t have.

James adds, “Blessed is the man that endureth temptation.”  Counting it all joy is not because we have avoided temptations and trials from ever happening to us.  Counting it all joy for the blessedness that is ours for enduring the times of testing they brought.

Even Jesus was tried, tested, and tempted.  Hebrews reminds us again, “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,” (Hebrews 4:15).

Endure!

Let patience have her perfect work!  Because in the end, when the trials and trying times are all over with, that one that was “tried” and endured with faith intact through it – that one “shall receive the crown of life.”

Now, that’s real success.  That’s the real goal.  That’s the real reason to be happy when troubles just won’t seem to let up.

At one point or another, and many times in between, we are all going to be touched by the finger of adversity.  But, as the Word of God declares, “But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved,” (Matthew 24:13).

Don’t lose your joy!  There is a “crown of life” waiting for you with your name on it.  We are going through and enduring because there is a prize laid up for us at the end of this race (1 Corinthians 9:24-25).

Your running is not in vain.  Your joy is not in vain.  The “Lord” has “promised” this wonderful gift “to them that love him.”

it is spoken.  It is written.  It is ours if we remain in our holy joy and keep pushing for it and not giving up.

The opposite of the joy we are called to have is words like misery, sadness, and the like.  When one keeps swimming in the pools of these waters, they will soon feel overcome by the displeasure found there, let go of their grip, and drown.

Life may not be perfect but maintaining your spiritual joy will keep you buoyant in the murkiest of waters.

So, count it all joy!

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 – Count it All Joy

Suggested Activities:

Lesson Lead In/Happy or Sad Activity: Print out one happy face and one sad face (you can just do one set for the teacher or multiple sets so that each student can have their own). Attach the faces to craft sticks. Prepare a list of things that might make one happy or sad (finding money, losing a tooth, receiving an unexpected gift, losing a puppy, etc.). Ask the class, using the faces, to show how each thing listed would make them feel, and why? Then ask, Is it possible to feel joy even in sad times? (Give them space to answer.)

Use this as a lead in to the lesson. Say, James wrote to people during a very hard time in life and one of the things he did was encouraged them to count it all joy. This concept is difficult for some adults to grasp, let alone children. Let them know a Christian’s joy is never based on the goodness of their circumstances. Rather, their joy is based on the goodness of God, who will give us the wisdom we need to make it through hard times.

Frown Upside Down Craft: Make your own frowning face that can be turned upside down to make a smiling face. If you don’t know how to do this, search the internet for great examples. Use this as a supplement to the lesson Count it All Joy.

Adult Journal Page: Adult Journal Page – Count it All Joy

Kid’s Journal Page: Kid’s Journal Page – Count it All Joy

Blank Journal Pages: Blank Adult and Kid’s Journal Pages (These pages are great to use with the other journaling exercise provided in the PEARL lesson packet or to use to bring out any other area of the lesson you choose to focus on.  Enjoy!)

Draw the Scene: Count it All Joy Draw the Scene

Word Search: Count it All Joy Word Search  Answers: Count it All Joy Word Search Answers

Crossword: Count it All Joy Crossword  Answers: Count it All Joy Crossword Answers

Word Scramble: Count it All Joy Word Scramble  Answers: Count it All Joy Word Scramble Answers 

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Sunday School Lesson Series: “Christmas”

“And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.” – Matthew 1:21

“For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.” – Isaiah 9:6

“For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.” – Luke 2:11

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” – John 3:16

“Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift.” – 2 Corinthians 9:15

Christmastime really is the most wonderful time of the year, but not for the reasons most profess it.  Caught up in commercialism and materialism, many are so focused on the giving of gifts that they forget or take their focus off the greatest gift given: Jesus Christ our Savior.  He is the reason we celebrate.  He is the reason for the season.

The verses above remind us of all the wonderful things God has secured for us through the coming of His Son into this world.  As we draw deeper into this blessed season, may our hearts be enlightened more with the truth behind the reason we celebrate: JESUS.  It’s all about Him.

In light of that, I have put together a Christmas Series of Sunday School Lessons to help us and students draw nearer to Him and to learn and appreciate more the realness of this wonderful time.  Each of these lessons is designed to be used as individual lessons, or as seen here,  they can be grouped together to be used as a series.    Below you will find four links to the lessons offered.

As always, while I provide resources and activities for lessons and lesson development, I encourage my readers to do their own personal studies as well.

To access the lessons, simply click on the links below.

“An Angel Foretells of John’s Birth” – Luke 1:8-20

Before Gabriel spoke to Mary, he appeared to another person in relation to the future Messiah.  He came to a man by the name of Zacharias and foretold of the child he would father.  This child would grow to be a messenger before the Lord and would be he of whom it was prophesied as the one who would be characterized as, “The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight,” (Mark 1:3).

“Gabriel Foretells of Jesus’ Birth” – Luke 1:26-38

These little details that surround the greatest story ever told can get lost in the bustle of the celebration.  But, if we take the time to sit and listen as Mary did with the angel, we too can find assurance in the plans that God has for us in our lives.

“Mary’s Song” – Luke 1:39-56

Let your soul magnify God with Mary! God is worthy to be praised! Not just in those marvelous times when He is working miracles out for you and me, but praise Him as Mary did, for His holiness. Praise Him for being the great God that He is!

“Jesus’ Birth” – Luke 2:8-20

If nothing else will move the soul, the birth of our Savior ought to give us all a reason to reflect on the goodness of the Lord and praise Him as the shepherds did on that Holy Night.

May these lessons bless you and help you to fully appreciate and celebrate our Savior, Jesus Christ, the Lord, and all that He has done for each of us.  Blessings and peace to you all!

Sunday School Lesson – “Gabriel Foretells of Jesus’ Birth” Luke 1:26-38

VERSE DISCOVERY: Luke 1:26-38 (KJV, Public Domain)

One moment in time that would change history forever; affecting not only the life of one individual but for all mankind that ever was and that will ever be born upon the face of the earth.

Mary, the young Jewish woman from Nazareth, surely knew of the prophecy that was taught to her people down through the generations: “Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel,” (Is. 7:14).  But, never could she have imagined that she would be that one; that she would be that virgin spoken of so many years ago, (see Mt. 1:21-23).

As we enter into the celebration of the Christmas season let us not become so familiar with the story that we pass it by without a second glance.  Rather, as the angel Gabriel introduces to Mary the great feat that God is about to do in her life, let us reintroduce ourselves to His great power and plan to bring salvation to all men

Lesson Summary

Luke 1:26 “And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth,”

In the verses leading up to our lesson a dramatic event unfolded.  Zacharias’ lot was drawn “to burn incense” in the temple of the Lord, (Luke 1:9).  Whilst there, “Gabriel,” the same angel in today’s lesson, informs Zacharias that he shall have a son that he “shall be great in the sight of the Lord,” (Luke 1:15).  Zacharias, though working in the temple of the Lord, doubted what God could do in his life.  This caused him to be stricken “dumb, and not able to speak, until the days that these things shall be performed,” (Luke 1:20).

His wife Elisabeth conceived as was told by the angel Gabriel and “hid herself five months,” (Luke 1:24).  Today’s lesson picks up “in the sixth month” where we see the same Gabriel who spoke to Zacharias in the temple now appearing to Mary in “Nazareth.”

Once, when Jesus would first begin His ministry, Philip, after being approached by Jesus and told to, “Follow me,” (John 1:43) went to get Nathanael to come as well.  Coming upon Nathanael, Philip said, “We have found him, of whom Moses in the law, and the prophets, did write, Jesus of Nazareth…” (John 1:45).  Nathanael’s response was, “Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth?” (John 1:46).  He said that because “Nazareth” was a place nobody really paid attention to.  It was a little village despised and rejected as not being worth consideration.  But it is from this obscure place that Gabriel is sent to announce to a young woman there of her participation in the coming of our Savior into this world.

Luke 1:27 “To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary.”

Mary was “espoused” or as we like to call it in modern terms “engaged” to a man by the name of “Joseph.”  Unlike modern times, to be engaged then carried far more weight of commitment then it does today.  Those “espoused” were considered husband and wife without partaking in the intimate affairs of the relationship at this time.  That would come a year later when she would go to be with him as a wife in every sense of the word.  At this point in their relationship, only a divorce could break off their engagement.

Luke 1:28-29 “And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women.  And when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be.”

“The angel came in unto her, and said, Hail.”  In most depictions of this encounter, one gets the sense that this encounter took place outdoors.  But here it states that when the angel Gabriel greeted Mary, he “came in unto her,” giving us the impression that Mary was indoors during this holy encounter.

He spoke, “Thou art highly favoured.”  Now, to be real I think in our day we hear so much preaching on the word favor that we have missed the real significance of the word.  Too many people associate favor with the plethora of prosperity messages.  In the Bible, “favour” is associated with “grace,” and grace is, after all, God’s unmerited favor.

It’s something that is not earned or deserved.  But God, when he looked upon Mary saw something special in her to choose her to be the one to partake in this life-changing, world-changing, history-changing mission.  In God’s eyes, she was “highly favoured.”  I like the fact that the Bible does not go into greater detail of why God chose Mary outside of being “highly favoured,” lest we think of it as a list of criteria to try to emulate to gain favor when this is all done through grace.

“The Lord is with thee.”  How many times in her life would she need to reflect back on that promise?  When the news got out about her pregnancy; when all the gossips and tongue lashers had their way, how many times would she need to reach back to this promise that God is with her?  What about when uncertainty in the turbulent times of the day where people would seek to threaten the life of her child?  Or, even moving beyond this story to the scene of Jesus’ death, how often would she remind herself of those words of blessed assurance?  Is this not one of the greatest promises associated with the birth of the Messiah?  He is “Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us,” (Matthew 1:23).

“Blessed art thou among women.”  No woman on the face of this earth would ever, and I do mean ever, experience what Mary did.  Not only in being chosen for this mission of God but also in every aspect of life this journey would take her through from His conception to death.  In that, she is “blessed.”  Women have conceived since the time of Eve, but none has ever been a virgin overshadowed by the Holy Ghost.  Women have carried children in their womb, but none else has ever or will ever carry the Son of God.  She is “blessed.”

“She was troubled at his saying… what manner of salutation this should be.”  One of my favorite verses in the Bible is a humbling verse and it asks, “What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visited him?” (Psalm 8:4).

This could be imagination on my part, but I believe one of the reasons behind Mary being “troubled at his saying” and her questioning of “what manner of salutation this should be” is rooted in the same spirit of humility that Psalms 8:4 expresses.  “What is man?” – “Who am I?” must have been running through her head that an angel of God would greet her so.

There would also be a healthy dose of godly fear intermingled with her personal response.  After all, it isn’t every day that God dispatches a messenger from heaven to speak face to face with a person.  This was truly an awe-inspiring event.  Anytime an angel appeared to speak directly to an individual it was often “troubling” to the receiver (compare to Luke 1:12).

Luke 1:30-33 “And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary; for thou hast found favour with God.  And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS.  He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: and he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.”

“Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God.”  Gabriel spoke words meant to calm the fright she was experiencing on the inside.  “Fear not” is one of my favorite sets of words in the Bible.  It is spoken over and over again on many occasions to many different people; approximately 365 times, one for every day of the year.  My favorite is found in Isaiah 41:10 where these words of assurance are found saying, “Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.”  “Fear not” pleads with mankind and is pleading with Mary to trust God wholeheartedly.

Gabriel then reiterated that Mary “hast found favour with God.”  With the task she is about to receive she would need this double dose of reassurance of God’s favor over her life.

“Thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS.”  “Shalt” means that it is going to happen.  God has a plan for her that begins and ends with “JESUS.”  She, in the very near future, would carry a child in her “womb.”  Though her year of being espoused is not yet up and the final marriage preparations have not been done, she is told she will “bring forth a son and shalt call his name JESUS.”  When the angel spoke to Joseph in Matthew 1:21, he confirmed the name of this special child would be “JESUS.”  That name, with the meaning of salvation, is where many would find life eternal (see John 20:31).

“He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest.”  He would be no ordinary child by any means of the word.  Jesus will later say of Himself, “I am from above: ye are of this world; I am not of this world,” (Jn. 8:23).  He knew His origin was different than any other man that had been born on the earth.  Here, Gabriel tells Mary her son will be from the “Highest,” (see also John 3:31).

“And the Lord shall give unto him the throne of his father David.”  For centuries the hopes of the Jewish people’s awaited Messiah sprang from the promise that God made to His servant David when He said, “And thine house and thy kingdom shall be established for ever before thee: thy throne shall be established for ever,” (2 Samuel 7:16, see also 1 Chronicles 17:14).

David desired to build God a physical house, but God desired to build off his legacy a spiritual house that will never fail.  The son that Mary would carry in her womb would hold the keys to that spiritual house.  He would be the one to occupy the “throne” forever.

“He shall reign… and of his kingdom there shall be no end.”  Earthly kings would come and go down through the course of time.  Some would be good kings, and some would be evil.  For some they would do what was right in the eyes of God while others would rule as polar opposites.  One thing they all had and still have in common is no matter who they are, and no matter the motivation, the location, or the rule – sooner or later their reign will end.  Either by death, usurping of the throne, or by some other kingdom-shifting event they would eventually lose their right to rule.

The child that Mary would carry would always “reign.”  Even when it looked like death may have won for a short space of time – He was just revving up to rule forever.

Luke 1:34 “Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man?”

When all was said and done and her stomach would begin to grow with child, most people would never believe Mary’s statement: “I know not a man.”  People judge by what they see with their natural eyes.  But, for Mary her statement would forever stand as truth in the eyes of all who believe that this virgin would conceive the Son of God.

Mary knew the means in which one would normally conceive a child.  She also knew that though she was espoused, she has remained untouched in this manner.  The Bible confirms that “before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost,” (Matthew 1:18).  Her questioning was more of a “How in the world will this happen?” statement rather than of doubt.  She knew her pure state.  How was God going to accomplish such a thing in her?  Her body would produce a miracle – but, how?

Luke 1:35 “And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.”

“The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee… shall be called the Son of God.”  Gabriel answered Mary’s question.  In His own way, a way that only God Himself can explain or understand, “The Holy Ghost” will come upon her and “the power of the Highest shall overshadow” her.  Though the Holy Ghost had previously and temporarily empowered people to do something for God, here He was playing a key role in the incarnation of Christ in whom “dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily,” (Col. 2:9).  John 1 recognized Jesus as the only begotten Son of God, (VSS. 14, 18).

Luke 1:36-37 “And, behold, thy cousin Elisabeth, she hath also conceived a son in her old age: and this is the sixth month with her, who was called barren.  For with God nothing shall be impossible.”

“Elisabeth, she hath also conceived a son in her old age.”  Mary never asked for a sign but what a sweet reminder of the grace of God at work.  How many times had God blessed a barren womb in the Bible?  Elisabeth’s son would fulfill a prophecy of his own (see Isaiah 40:3) and would forever be remembered for his greatness in going before the Lord.  Even Jesus spoke of John and said, “For I say unto you, Among those that are born of women there is not a greater prophet than John the Baptist,” (Luke 7:28).

“For with God nothing shall be impossible.”  Oh, how often have we quoted this and yet underestimate His power at work in it?  God, the Creator of all heaven and earth, was still fashioning things into existence in a miraculous way.  “Nothing” is outside of the scope of the power of God!  There isn’t “no-thing” that He can’t do!  “God hath spoken once; twice have I heard this; that power belongeth unto God,” (Psalm 62:11).  Revelation 19:1 declares, “Alleluia; Salvation, and glory, and honour, and power, unto thee Lord our God.”  With God, it will happen!

Luke 1:38 “And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word.  And the angel departed from her.”

Mission accomplished.  The angel delivered his message and departed after she accepted the mission at hand.  Let us not downplay Mary’s acceptance of this calling.  The situation could have ended her life.  The situation would bring shame and ridicule to her and her family.  It is hard to accept some of the things that God asks of His people.  At one point in His own ministry, Jesus’ teachings would invoke this response: “This is an hard saying; who can hear it?” (John 6:60) questioned some who followed Him.

For Mary, the task she was accepting was in fact very hard, but she acquiesced to the hand of God and His will over her life.  Jesus later would accept the harder calling of God, and said, “O my Father, if this cup may not pass away from me, except I drink it, thy will be done,” (Matthew 26:42).  Following God’s way will not always be easy, but it will always be right.

These little details that surround the greatest story ever told can get lost in the bustle of the celebration.  But, if we take the time to sit and listen as Mary did with the angel, we too can find assurance in the plans that God has for us in our lives.

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 – Gabriel Foretells of Jesus’ Birth

Suggested Activities:

Adult Journal Page: Adult Journal Page – Gabriel Foretells of Jesus’ Birth

Kid’s Journal Page: Kid’s Journal Page – Gabriel Foretells of Jesus’ Birth

Draw the Scene: Gabriel Foretells of Jesus’ Birth Draw the Scene

Craft Idea:  Bouncing off the idea expressed in the Draw the Scene section, for a simple Craft Idea students can cut out different pictures of an angel, a woman, and other items out of old magazines, books, or even different coloring books in an almost collage format to recreate the scene of Gabriel speaking to Mary as in today’s lesson.

Memory Verse: Gabriel Foretells of Jesus’ Birth Memory Verse

Word Scramble: Gabriel Foretells of Jesus’ Birth Word Scramble  Answers: Gabriel Foretells of Jesus’ Birth Word Scramble Answers

Word Search: Gabriel Foretells of Jesus’ Birth Word Search  Answers: Gabriel Foretells of Jesus’ Birth Word Search Answers

Crossword: Gabriel Foretells of Jesus’ Birth Crossword  Answers: Gabriel Foretells of Jesus’ Birth Crossword Answers

Sunday School Lesson – “An Angel Foretells of John’s Birth” Luke 1:8-20

VERSE DISCOVERY: Luke 1:8-20 (KJV, Public Domain)

Before Gabriel spoke to Mary, he appeared to another person in relation to the future Messiah.  He came to a man by the name of Zacharias and foretold of the child he would father.  This child would grow to be a messenger before the Lord and would be he of whom it was prophesied as the one who would be characterized as, “The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight,” (Mark 1:3). 

Imagine for a moment, the president, king, or any head of a country, coming to an area to visit.  Before their arrival, another would have been sent ahead to announce and make the proper preparations before they get there.  Such as it was in ancient times when kings came into town.  And, so is the ministry of John the Baptist, the child whom Gabriel speaks of in today’s lesson as a promise to Zacharias, when the King of all kings makes His arrival on this earth.

Zacharias’ Duty

Luke 1:8-10 “And it came to pass, that while he executed the priest’s office before God in the order of his course, According to the custom of the priest’s office, his lot was to burn incense when he went into the temple of the Lord.  And the whole multitude of the people were praying without at the time of incense.”

Righteous before God.  Walking in the commandments.  Blameless.  These are some of the noteworthy characteristics of Zacharias and Elisabeth his wife (see Luke 1:5-6).

Although he was a faithful priest in the eyes of the Lord and his wife modeled the same holy qualities, they had no child.  Being well-advanced in years, their time for this possibility seemed to be over until God steps in and shakes up their way of thinking and reorders their life with a great and precious promise.

The number of priests available to serve in those days was large.  Some estimates put them in the tens of thousands.  With that, 1 Chronicles 24:1-9 lays out the divisions of the priests.  There were 24 in all and from these divisions, the duties that were to be performed in the temple were selected by “lot.”  Using the term “lot” it describes the system of selection that depended on God to choose who will do what and when they will do it by the drawing or casting of lots.

On this particular day, Zacharias had the privilege to experience the opportunity to serve before the Lord.  “According to the custom of the priest’s office” (see 2 Chronicles 8:14), as the lots were cast for the duty of burning incense (see 1 Chronicles 23:13; 2 Chronicles 29:11), Zacharias’s name was chosen to perform this job “in the temple of the Lord.”

This was a highly desired position and considered a great honor.  Before the morning sacrifice and after the evening sacrifice was offered, the chosen priest would burn incense before the altar symbolizing the prayers of the people who were positioned outside of the temple (“praying without”), during this time.

An Angel Encounter

Luke 1:11-14 “And there appeared unto him an angel of the Lord standing on the right side of the altar of incense.  And when Zacharias saw him, he was troubled, and fear fell upon him.  But the angel said unto him, Fear not, Zacharias: for thy prayer is heard; and thy wife Elisabeth shall bear thee a son, and thou shalt call his name John.  And thou shalt have joy and gladness; and many shall rejoice at his birth.”

Above all else, we believe God to be sovereign.  We believe Him to be in charge of time and circumstance.  And, although Zacharias is considered old at this time, we believe God held his name in remembrance to appear on the scene and receive the promise of he who would be chosen and work to prepare the way of Christ at this chosen time in history.

While reverently going about his duties which, as already noted, had to be performed twice a day (see Exodus 30:7-8), “there appeared unto him an angel of the Lord.”  Imagine, if you will, being in that holy atmosphere where one might not hear anything but the burning of coals and the shuffling of his own feet; an atmosphere where everything is sacred and yet, God chose you to come before Him in the temple to perform this holy calling.

With the aromas of spices filling the air, off to the right side of the altar, beyond the ascending fragrant cloud, Zacharias sees “an angel of the Lord.”  Some depictions of this encounter may have Zacharias just hearing the angel, but the Bible says he “saw him.”

And when he “saw him, he was troubled, and fear fell upon him.”  Throughout the Bible, any time an angel appeared directly to an individual it was often unsettling and troubling to the individual (see 1 Chronicles 21:30; Matthew 28:2-4).  God does not do anything frivolously, especially regarding having a heavenly host appear to mankind.  This was an occasion to take seriously.  Not knowing at that time, the exact reason for the visit, “fear fell upon him.”

“But the angel said unto him, Fear not, Zacharias.”  Zacharias’s reaction wasn’t necessary, and the angel sought to ease the millions of horrific thoughts that may be running through his mind.  God’s dispatched angel came with a message of promise, not of peril; therefore, he spoke, “Fear not;” the same comforting words he will give to Mary in Luke 1:30.

“For thy prayer is heard.”  Zacharias was a righteous man and he was a praying man and according to God’s holy word, “The eyes of the LORD are upon the righteous, and his ears are open unto their cry, “(Psalm 34:15; see also 1 Peter 3:12).  Knowing the heartbreak and shame of being childless; I don’t know how many years Zacharias prayed, but in His perfect, pre-ordained time, God let him know He “heard.”

In a previous article titled Know That God Hears, I wrote: “Our deepest heart’s desires do not fall on deaf ears.  God is not playing cat and mouse with us.  He wants us to seek Him that He may be found: “Seek ye the LORD while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near,” (Isaiah 55:6).  Then, He can respond!” (Word For Life Says)

And, respond He did.  The angel told Zacharias of what would be.  He said, “Thy wife Elisabeth shall bear thee a son, and thou shalt call his name John.”  A woman, who like her husband is “well-stricken in years,” (Luke 1:7) will finally, not only have a child and know the joy of motherhood, but she will “bear thee a son.”

Just think, after all those years of let downs.  After feelings of disgrace have surely washed over them and it seemed all hope is gone – God favored them.  They would know what it is like; they will experience their very own fulfilled promise in the form of a son named “John.”

His birth would not only bring “joy and gladness” to the parents whose hearts longed to hear a babe crying in their home, and to hold and coddle their own flesh and blood – but, “many shall rejoice at his birth.”

As time goes by and Elisabeth does give birth, we see in Luke 1:58, “her neighbours and her cousins heard how the Lord had shewed great mercy upon her; and they rejoiced with her,” (emphasis mine).  I believe the angel’s words were meant to have a much farther reach of impact in the lives of the people who will respond to his call of repentance, and eventually be led to Christ.

John’s Foretold Character

 Luke 1:15 “For he shall be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink; and he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother’s womb.”

“For he shall be great in the sight of the Lord.”  When Jesus came on the scene, during His years of ministry, He testified of John and said, “For I say unto you, Among those that are born of women there is not a greater prophet than John the Baptist,” (Luke 7:28; see also Matthew 11:11).  Jesus’ ministry obviously is superior in depth and importance than that of John the Baptist’s (read John 1:29-34 for John’s own testimony of the Lamb of God’s ministry; He [Jesus] that is preferred before him [John the Baptist]).

Nevertheless, because of his position and unique ministry as the one who would prepare the way before the Savior, John the Baptist stands out and is extraordinary among the name of the prophets.  From the time of the womb, he would bear witness of the Christ (see Luke 1:41; John 1:15, 29-34).

“And he shall drink neither wine nor strong drink.”  This is reminiscent of the instructions we see given to Samson’s parents when an angel appeared to them.  The withholding of oneself from “strong drink” as well as other strict requirements, was in keeping with what is known as a Nazarite vow (compare Judges 13:4-5).  This devoted life would be a sign of the holy and set apart nature of the individual; that God was doing something special in his life.

“And he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother’s womb.”  John the Baptist would be heavenly empowered and enabled from the womb to fulfill the role as that prophesied voice and that holy messenger, heralding to all who would listen, before the arrival of the Savior (compare Isaiah 40:3).  Anything done for God must be Spirit-powered.  Many today try to operate in their own power but fall short of producing godly fruit for the Kingdom.  John’s life and mission would be infused with “Holy Ghost” power!

John’s Foretold Ministry

Luke 1:16-17 “And many of the children of Israel shall he turn to the Lord their God.  And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”

“Many of the children of Israel shall he turn to the Lord their God.”  When John the Baptist came into his ministry, he is seen “preaching in the wilderness of Judaea, And saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand,” (Matthew 3:1-2).  People from all over the area came: “Jerusalem, and all Judaea, and all the region round about Jordan, And were baptized of him in Jordan, confessing their sins,” (Matthew 3:5-6).  He was working to turn hearts back “to the Lord their God.”  He was winning souls to the Kingdom, fulfilling this prophecy over his life.

John’s style of clothing (camel’s hair garments) and eating choices (locusts and wild honey) did not detract from the impact he made on those who came out to see and hear him.  The love for people, the Kingdom, and the ingrained ministry in him compelled him to reach out and help those who were seeking “the Lord their God.”

“And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias.”  In the Old Testament, it was prophesied, “Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me…” (Malachi 3:1).  When we study the New Testament, particularly the sayings of Jesus on the subject, we see that John was, in fact, he that came “in the spirit and power of Elias [Elijah],” (read Matthew 17:11-13 for further clarification).

“To turn the hearts of the fathers to the children.”  In correlation with this prophecy of John the Baptist being compared to Elijah, here too we see another O.T. promise being fulfilled through his life and ministry.  With almost exact wording, Malachi 4:5-6 talks about Elijah coming again with a focus on restoring familial relationships.  The very fabric that makes up the strength of the home is relationships; those connections would have “hearts” renewed in love and peace for one another again.

Some see it in a different way, perhaps referring to the turning of the hearts of the children of Israel back to the way of their fathers, the patriarchs.

Regardless of how one views it, his ministry softens “hearts” that will be ready to receive the healing that Christ will offer.

When John the Baptist does arrive on the scene to do the work of the Lord, the people would have been 400 years without hearing the voice of a true prophet of God.  The above quotation from Malachi 4:5-6 were among the last words spoken by a prophet in the Old Testament.

“And the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”  The ministry of John the Baptist would change hearts and minds from unjust behavior to “just” behaviors; leading people to look for the greater gift of salvation which is found in Jesus Christ.  As such, he was making “ready a people prepared.”  John the Baptist can be seen as the opening act, while Jesus Christ, without a doubt, is the main event.

Zacharias’ Doubt

Luke 1:18-20 “And Zacharias said unto the angel, Whereby shall I know this? for I am an old man, and my wife well stricken in years.  And the angel answering said unto him, I am Gabriel, that stand in the presence of God; and am sent to speak unto thee, and to shew thee these glad tidings.  And, behold, thou shalt be dumb, and not able to speak, until the day that these things shall be performed, because thou believest not my words, which shall be fulfilled in their season.”

“Whereby shall I know this? for I am an old man, and my wife well stricken in years.”  Surprised at the announcement.  Overwhelmed at the possibility.  Over-thinking the proposed miracle.  All this and more led Zacharias down a path of doubt.

Here, Zacharias’s prayer was heard, and God sent a messenger to declare he’s getting what he prayed for.  But the faith that caused him to ask in prayer was missing at the declaration of the miracle.  Rather than respond with rejoicing, he responded with questioning.

What happened?

He looked with human eyes at human conditions and made up his mind for God, that it just wasn’t possible.  Let us be reminded of this great biblical truth: “But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him,” (Hebrews 11:6; emphasis mine).

Zacharias was a “diligent” seeker of the Lord (as noted earlier in this lesson).  God was ready to reward him, but he just couldn’t see with his natural eyes the miracle ahead.  Therefore, he asks, “Whereby shall I know this?”

What God speaks always comes to pass, so the angel, who is revealed as the same “Gabriel” who speaks with Mary – his response below is just.

“I am Gabriel, that stand in the presence of God; and am sent to speak unto thee, and to shew thee these glad tidings.”  Coming as a holy messenger of God, what “Gabriel” brought was good news!  As if it isn’t awesome enough to see an angel, period – this one brought a promise with him.  Most would think this is convincing enough, but for Zacharias, he met the miracle with misgivings about his situation and wanted something more: “Whereby shall I know this?”

Thus, the angel Gabriel said, “Thou shalt be dumb, and not able to speak, until the day that these things shall be performed.”  If we fast forward to the birth of John, particularly the eighth day when it was time for him to be circumcised according to custom, which would also be the same time when he officially gets his name, we see Zacharias wrote the babe’s name “John” on a tablet.  And when he did so, “his mouth was opened immediately, and his tongue loosed, and he spake, and praised God,” (Luke 1:59-64).  Until that day he was “not able to speak” according to Gabriel’s words because he “believest not.”

Remember, what God promises, He is able to perform (Romans 4:21).  Believe Him for it all.

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 – An Angel Foretells of John’s Birth

Suggested Activities:

Adult Journal Page: Adult Journal Page – An Angel Foretells of John’s Birth

Kid’s Journal Page: Kid’s Journal Page – An Angel Foretells of John’s Birth

Memory Verse: An Angel Foretells of John’s Birth Memory Verse

How Many Words: An Angel Foretells of John’s Birth How Many Words

Draw the Scene: An Angel Foretells of John’s Birth Draw the Scene

Word Search: An Angel Foretells of John’s Birth Word Search  Answers: An Angel Foretells of John’s Birth Word Search Answers

Crossword: An Angel Foretells of John’s Birth Crossword  Answers: An Angel Foretells of John’s Birth Crossword Answers

Word Scramble: An Angel Foretells of John’s Birth Word Scramble  Answers: An Angel Foretells of John’s Birth Word Scramble Answers

Sunday School Lesson Series: “Jesus and His Followers”

When they were called, we see how we are called.  When Jesus teaches and prays for them, we learn He does the same for us.  When Jesus empowers them, in that we learn how we are empowered as well.  When Jesus wants them to focus on following Him, He speaks the same words to us.  And, when Jesus sends them out to work the Great Commission, we learn that we are not exempt from this part of the calling; rather, with one foot in front of the other, we are to go and reach the world for Christ.

Each of these lessons is designed to be used as individual lessons, or as seen here,  they can be grouped together to be used as a series.    Below you will find six links to the lessons I offer in this series.

As always, while I provide resources and activities for lessons and lesson development, I encourage my readers to do their own personal studies as well.

To access the lessons, simply click on the links below.

Jesus Calls His Followers

This lesson explores the calling of the original twelve disciples/apostles, and it also calls us, as individuals, to follow Jesus as well.  Father God, may our hearts be tied to our Savior and may our feet follow wherever He calls us. Thank You for welcoming us into Your family. Thank You for making us a part of Your holy calling. In the name of Jesus Christ, we pray, AMEN!

Jesus Teaches His Followers

What does Christianity look like to you? Many have a wrong idea of what it truly means to be a follower of Christ. Jesus set about in this lesson to instruct His followers on how they should live. And, the awesome thing about Jesus, He didn’t just teach it, but He lived it Himself.

Jesus Prays for His Followers

Jesus prayed for His disciples and Jesus prayed for you, too.  We who have believed are covered by the prayers of Christ that we might go out into the world and help others believe also.

Jesus Empowers His Followers

We all need to be empowered with His Spirit to do His work! We cannot do this alone.

Jesus’ Followers Follow Him

As Christians, God expects us to follow Christ in every sense of the word.  Christ is our guide in everything.  As He lived, so too are we called to live.  1 John 2:6 tells us, “He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked,” (see also John 13:15).  Christ is our ruler whereby we measure the life we live, and His standards are the guide to our pathway.

Jesus Sends His Followers

Each Christian believer now has the role and responsibility to, “Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled,” (Luke 14:23). The call of the Great Commission belongs to all who are in Christ. And with that, He sends His followers, and tells them to, “Go!”

I hope you enjoy these lessons.  My prayer is that these lessons will be helpful to you personally or to use in your own classroom settings.  Many blessings to you all!