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

Photo by Clemens van Lay on Unsplash

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

God Called

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Abram Responded

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 Abram’s Journey and Worship

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Suggested Activities:

Adult Journal Page: Adult Journal Page – God Called Abram

Kid’s Journal Page: Kid’s Journal Page – God Called Abram

Word Search: God Called Abram Word Search  Answers: God Called Abram Word Search Answers

Crossword: God Called Abram Crossword  Answers: God Called Abram Crossword Answers

Word Scramble: God Called Abram Word Scramble  Answers: God Called Abram Word Scramble Answers

Draw the Scene: God Called Abram Draw the Scene

Memory Verse: God Called Abram Memory Verse

For fun game ideas, go to MinistryArk.com

For great activity ideas, hop on over to SundaySchoolzone.com

For a wonderful activity and printables, click on InMyWorld.com

 

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Sunday School Lesson – “Love Your Enemies” Matthew 5:38-48

Photo: Pixabay

VERSE DISCOVERY: Matthew 5:38-48 (KJV, Public Domain)

What does true Christianity look like?  How do people know that we are a child of God?  What marks us as being different from anyone else?  When we decided to do the things that God does and love the way He loves, then people can readily tell whom we belong; who is our Father.

In life, there are going to be times of being wronged, hurt, and/or misunderstood.  What do we do in these instances?  Do we vehemently seek revenge or try to get even? 

No.  Part of being a Christian or living life as God’s people is to extend God’s love to those who refuse to show us kindness in return.  It’s going against our human nature to when offenses happen by extending the heart of God to those who oppose or war against us; to those whom one would consider being an enemy.

When we choose to say no to what our flesh wants to do and yes to what is right in God’s sight, then we are on the right pathway of living lives that are pleasing to Him.  We are purposefully living like Jesus did – choosing to love, even the worst, like God does.   

Going Against Human Nature

Matthew 5:38-42 “Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.  And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloak also.  And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain.  Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away.”

It is during His teaching on the Sermon on the Mount where Jesus lays out the disciplines necessary for a life lived for the Kingdom of God, where this lesson text is found.  In that teaching, He clarifies a few points He wants His followers to adhere to.  Jesus wanted to set aright some misunderstandings concerning the Law and offers a more Kingdom-approached mindset.

Part of laying out the law in Exodus was to ensure that when people committed a wrong against another or injured another, proper retribution was made.  This portion of the law, and similar portions like it, were put in place to keep everything fair and balanced, not only for the offended but for the offender.  Both parties would be protected to ensure neither party involved would go overboard in exacting from the other what they believed was due them or deserved.  Those who were to receive something in return for an offense would get what’s coming to them – nothing more, nothing less.  And, those who caused the offense or injury, those on the punishment end of the spectrum would get or give what is their due – nothing more, nothing less.

Basically, laws like this not only promoted fairness, but it limited extreme actions from being taken by another for the least little bit of infractions.  The punishment had to fit the crime and not be exaggerated, out of the proportion, or go too far for what was called for.

That’s the meaning behind the phrase/verse, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth, (compare Exodus 21:24).  It was not a license for retaliation and revenge.  It was a law commanded to keep everything fair and balanced.

Supporting the true nature of the law, Jesus taught, rather than seek revenge, go above and beyond what normal human nature would demand of in times of offense.  Do something radically different: Resist not evil.  Proverbs 20:22 explains it like this: “Say not thou, I will recompense evil; but wait on the LORD, and he will save thee,” (compare 1 Peter 3:9).  The focus of a Kingdom-minded individual is not seeking to render evil for evil.  The focus of a true child of God is to live life like Jesus did, with love and compassion toward one’s fellow man.  Even their enemies.

And, if it’s the Law the people want to quote to justify themselves in rendering to another their “just desserts,” then they also must remember that it is also the Law that states, “Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt  love thy neighbour as thyself: I am the LORD,” (Leviticus 19:18).

People can be very self-seeking in matters of avenging and holding grudges.  These two things will tear relationships and people down rather than heal and restore.  And, that defeats the purpose of the original intent of the Law.

Therefore Jesus, to further drive His point home, continues: But whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.  During the Roman occupation, people in Jesus’ day would suffer many assaults from these soldiers and governing authorities.  And, surely too, there would be times when one’s own countrymen would strike out in unjust ways.  But, the response of the Christian is not to behave in the same manner as they.  They were to respond opposite of what society or their normal human character would dictate.

Other scenarios Jesus gave, such as, if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloak also, and, whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain, demonstrate the previous point He made about not getting caught up in revenge, retaliation, and the seeking of one’s rights.  Here, He is instructing them to once again, go above and beyond that, to the point of doing more than what was insistent upon.  The Christian is not called to live and act like everyone else, getting caught up in matters that surround the here and now or being entangled with the cares of this life, 2 Timothy 2:4.  He/she is called to live and love people as God Himself does, and that often goes against the grain of human nature.  And, sometimes it will require one to do extra or more than necessary in order to show the love of God.

When someone has been hurt and broken the last thing on their mind is the benefit of the one who has inflicted the harm.  Jesus, knowing what He was going to accomplish on the cross, was teaching His disciples to operate in this world as He would.

All these things that He speaks of in the above verses, all the scenarios of wrongs committed, were to be situations that Jesus Himself would live through, love through, and forgive the offense of others through.  They would be things that He would actually demonstrate through His own life: “He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he opened not his mouth,” (Isaiah 53:7).

Jesus was teaching His disciples that to live as Kingdom-minded people, you will not only have to go against the status quo and cliques of society, but you will also have to fight against your own natural inclinations that don’t want to seek the good of those who cause harm.

In addition to that, be giving.  Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away.  God gave us the greatest gift one could ever hope to receive, the Lord Jesus Christ (John 3:16), who would freely and willingly suffer so much wrong to lay His life down for us.  Is it too much for us to give as He gave to those in need?  Jesus didn’t turn others way or turn a blind eye to genuine needs.  Do we?

Love Like God Loves

Matthew 5:43-48 “Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy.  But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.  For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same?  And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so?  Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.”

Love your enemies.  Loving neighbors is one thing, but the words love and enemies don’t exactly coincide with one another according to human standards; rather, they usually collide with one another head-on.  But Jesus is calling us to use God’s Spirit within us to operate on a supernatural level that surpasses our view which is usually obstructed by this natural world.

When one is an enemy that means they are against us.  Yet, Jesus’ command is to love them anyhow.  Show them the same compassion as He did when He allowed them to drive the nails through His hands and feet.  He told His disciples in the Garden of Gethsemane at the time of His arrest, “Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels?” (Matthew 26:53).  He could’ve taken care of His enemies with one swoop of prayer, yet love compelled Him to offer Himself for their release from sin.  He had a heavenly view for loving His enemies.  In that, He laid it all down for them and us and showed just one of the ways one can do good to them that hate you.

Pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.  No one said these sayings were easy, because they’re not.  If they were, everybody would be doing them.  But they are doable because everything that Jesus is telling His followers to do, He did, or would go on to do.

They cursed Him, yet He prayed for them: “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do,” (Luke 23:34).  They struck Jesus on the cheek (John 18:22; compare with Matthew 5:39 from above), and they divided His clothes (Luke 23:34).  He went through it all and never sought His own revenge but continued forth in love.

Following His teachings, even when it’s hard, and mimicking the things He did, helps to identify the Christians as true children of your Father which is in heaven.  In normal, familial relationships there will be some sort of resemblance between parents and children.  Certain traits, characteristics, features will be prominent, assuring the fact that this child belongs to me.  And, the same is true for those who claim to be spiritual children of God.  As His children, some of Him should be seen in us.  As we were originally created to be in the image of God (Genesis 1:26-27), so too should we represent His image as we have been recreated with a new nature (2 Corinthians 5:17).

God is a good God (Psalm 100:5) and “He that doeth good is of God: but he that doeth evil hath not seen God,” (3 John 1:11).  In His goodness, He does not withhold the natural graces of nature even from those who are considered evil and unjust.  He allows the sun and rain to benefit them all.  How much more in kindness should we operate if we are mimicking our Father?

It is easy for anyone to love or salute those who love and salute them back.  Jesus, to make sure they understood this concept, used as an illustration one of the most despised people of their day: the publicans.  The publicans were the local tax collectors on behalf of the Roman government.  They placed exorbitant charges on their fellow countrymen and gave to the Romans what belonged to them while pocketing the overages for themselves.  Because of this, they were greatly despised among their own people and seen as traitors.

With that being said, Jesus is making His point, that it is no great thing to treat ones with love and compassion who show the same toward you.  Even the most despised of people usually do the same.

It is when one goes above and beyond – that’s what sets them apart as true children of God.  When one can step away from their natural tendencies of wanting to retaliate and get even and decide to walk the path that leads us to perfect living; one that mimics our Father which is in heaven is perfect, can they truly say they are loving as God loves.  They are seeing people the way the Father sees them.  That even enemies, and those that war against us, would be viewed in our sight the same way the Father views them and treats them.

After all, we were once enemies as well.  “But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.” (Ephesians 2:13).  But, in His love, “God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8).  He didn’t wait until we were doing right and walking perfect and checking off all the right boxes and treating everyone fairly before He died for us.  He did it while we were in our mess.  He did it while we were sinners.  He did it while we were enemies.  Now, it’s our turn to show others, even those who may hurt us and be called our enemies, the love of God in us.

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 – Love Your Enemies

Suggested Activities:

Adult Journal Page – Love Your Enemies

Kid’s Journal Page – Going the Second Mile

Memory Verse: Love Your Enemies Memory Verse

Draw the Scene: Love Your Enemies Draw the Scene

Word Search: Love Your Enemies Word Search  Answers: Love Your Enemies Word Search Answers

Crossword: Love Your Enemies Crossword  Answers: Love Your Enemies Crossword Answers

Word Scramble: Love Your Enemies Word Scramble  Answers: Love Your Enemies Word Scramble Answers

“Love Your Enemies Activities” (Tom and Jerry anyone?  Yes, what a great example about getting along with someone you are always fighting with.  Enjoy!)

“Love Your Enemy Children’s Lesson”

“Love Your Enemies Group Activities” (Several great ways to bring this lesson out.  Enjoy!)

“Love Your Enemies Activity Sheets”

“What Would Jesus Do Printable Craft”

“What Would Jesus Do Activities” (I really like the section on Visual Activities.  I think using this technique is a great way to open up and introduce the students to this week’s lesson.  Enjoy!)

“What Would Jesus Do, Mirror”

“Jesus Knocking Craft” (Though this does not go with today’s verse, I think this easy printable can be nicely applied to today’s lesson.  Use it to make a Jesus door hanger that will help remind students to ask WWJD?  Enjoy!)

 

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

Photo: Pixabay

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 The Branch

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

His Reign of Peace

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Suggested activities noted in the lesson:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday School Lesson – “The Love of God” 1 John 4:7-19

Photo: Pixabay/PhotoMIX-Company

VERSE DISCOVERY: 1 John 4:7-19 (KJV, Public Domain)

Love is a subject very near and dear to my heart.  It is probably one of my most written about topics to express.  And, we find out from today’s lesson that love is the essence of who God is.  We will learn deeply how our love is an identifying factor in proving us to be of Him and it shows the depth of all He feels for us.

In fact, the whole of our human story has been entirely of God’s love for us.  From our beginning in Genesis to the ending of the story to come, God’s love for humanity has been at the forefront of His relational chase of us.  If you have followed me and my writing for any amount of time you have probably come across a time or two an article I have written titled, Know Real Love.  In that I write:

“God loves you! Throughout the pages of the Bible, the overflow of all He feels for us is pronounced over and over again. He has plenty of evidence to mark the extremes of His love for us . . .  in Deuteronomy 23:5, He is noted as reversing a curse because He loves His people. But His ultimate show of love came when He initiated His plan to reverse the curse of sin once and for all. The plan was successful, but it didn’t come without a price. His love for us cost the life of His Son, John 3:16. All that was done so that one day we might experience the joy of what it really means to be loved; such a tender embrace wrapped around us that can’t be felt anywhere else.” (Word for Life Says/Know Real Love).

Because He loves us so, may we extend that same love to one another, is the pleading of this lesson.  We are His real-life examples to a lost world.  We are the only Bible that some people may read in their entire lifetime.  Let the story they see in you and I be one of love.

Think of it, in a world filled with hatefulness, selfishness, and condemnation, I personally believe we can never tire of hearing of the love of God.  And, as Christians we constantly need to be on our toes; to be retaught over and over again the importance that we show that same love God gave to us to one another.

The ugliness of this world’s characteristics DOES NOT have to infect us.  We can shine brighter above it all knowing that we are loved in a special way by Him.  With that knowledge, we too can return what we have received of Him to others.

When we truly know how much God loves us, we can love others better.

God is Love

1 John 4:7-10 “Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God.  He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.  In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we mighty live through him.  Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.”

God doesn’t birth ugliness (nasty characteristics and ungodly traits).  If one is born of God, then as His spiritual children that one should possess the character and nature of their heavenly Father (just as natural children inherit some of the nature and traits of their parents).

False teachers and naysayers will always try to usurp what God wants to do in the life of the Christian and how they ought to live.  In his letter, false teachers are an enemy that John had to deal with and because of them, he had re-educate the people on what God says is true and encourage people to live and follow that truth which revolves, here in this lesson, around love.

As a matter of fact, John opens chapter 4 with this warning: “Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world,” (1 John 4:1).  After that he gives a summation of the contrast between the Christian and the world; “Ye are of God, little children . . .” (1 John 4:4), and “They are of the world. . .” (1 John 4:5).  Immediately following this comparison of who is in truth and who is in error, 1 John 4:6 begins to admonish the saints how we ought to live.  How the love of God is to be manifest in our culture.

Christians are to operate in a love culture for this is what we have learned from our heavenly Father.  For John to keep pushing this key point means there must have been a serious disturbance and dissension going on in the church that made it necessary for this subject’s continual address.  I wonder how many disturbances in our modern-day churches are due to a lack of this godly love culture being produced within its walls.

With that, John writes, “Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God.”  God loves us – Yes!  Love comes from God – Yes!  Now, the responsibility to share that love falls on the shoulders of the believers; of the body of Christ, the Church.  As Christians, God has lavished on us the best of His love through our Lord Jesus Christ (as well as being offered to the whole world if they will accept Him).  Therefore, as Christians, our relationship with one another should express that same spirit of love because what comes out of us gives testimony to what’s inside of us (see Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 15:16-20).

For a Christian to claim he is of God means that individual should express the same attributes that are characteristic of the God they say they represent.  To be without those attributes is to be without proof of who you say are and whose you say you are.  The things that come out of our life tell more about the real us than any words of the mouth.

In taking up the responsibility to love one another we are daring to stretch out beyond our personal comfort zones to the benefit of another soul in need.  We are putting our faith in action through the course of loving others.  We are pushing past the popular feelings of emotions and commanding of ourselves and our lives to give unto others what we have received from God.  We are personally making it our goal to imitate the Father’s love toward us.

Romans 12:10 tells us, “Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another.”  As brothers and sisters in Christ, we are all of the same holy family.  We share spiritual kindred and as such we should be devoted to one another in well-being and care expressed through a loving relationship as a family should.  Our love for one another is to be marked by fervency (see 1 Peter 1:22) which means we should have an on-fire, zealous love for one another in Christ.

Love is of God; love is from God and He has demonstrated His love toward humanity when He sent his Son into the world, that we might live through him, (see also John 3:16 and Romans 5:8 which we will see later in this lesson as well).  The sacrifice of Christ proved to us (manifested; made clear) and the world how much God loves us and now we are to make that same love evident to all through our daily living and sacrifice.

God is love (vss. 8, 16), something I hinted on earlier.  The word is can be compared to words such as be or exist.  God doesn’t just love.  God doesn’t just have love.  God isn’t just in love with us.  Loving is not just a part of Him.  God is love.  It’s what His entirety is.  Thus, whoever claims to be in an intimate relationship with God and knows God should readily and willingly demonstrate the same character He is.  In contrast to that, he that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.

This love relationship we get to experience didn’t start in or with us.  God has been the chaser of mankind since his creation.  Love begins and ends with God as the bookends that hold everything together.

To prove His love, He provided a means for mankind to be redeemed from the rift of sin that has torn apart his relationship with God.  He sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.   The fact of the matter is sin destroys.  And, there is no way around atoning (offering of propitiation) for that sin and restoring humanity’s relationship with God outside of shed blood.  Hebrews remind us, “Without shedding of blood is no remission,” (Hebrews 9:22).

With that being said, Christ became that shed blood sacrifice, sent by God, which permanently atoned for our sins.  The Bible tells us, “For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us: Nor yet that he should offer himself often, as the high priest entereth into the holy place every year with blood of others; For then must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world: but now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself,” (Hebrews 9:24-26), where He not only covered our sins but, took them away forever.

Now, that’s love!  That’s what God’s love looks like!  Therefore, our response should be to love like God loves.

Love Like God Loves

1 John 4:11-13 “Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another.  No man hath seen God at any time. If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us.  Hereby know we that we dwell in him, and he in us, because he hath given us of his Spirit.”

Since God showed us the kind of love that would give up His only begotten Son, the command is, we ought to also love one another.  Whatever little meager anything we think we may lose or give up in extending love can never be compared to what God already gave.

Love is the key that opens the door to the reality in showing that we love Him.  God will not dwell in an environment of hate and selfishness.  If those are present, God is not.  If we, as His children, are showing His characteristics of love, then we know that we dwell in him, and he in us.  Love or lack of it is the marker that shows one’s stance in his/her relationship with God.  Anytime the individual or church is not operating in love, they are not operating in God and He is not in the midst.

There is a personal responsibility that John is pointing to for each individual believer to follow.  Approximately 10x’s John uses the word we throughout this lesson alone, not including the rest of his book where there are many, many more instances and identifying words which incorporate and reference the whole body of Christ with the use of words like “us” and “our.”

“We” identifies us.  We” states what we believe.  We,” tells our mission.  “We” also have His Spirit living on the inside of us and as such should operate the way His Spirit operates; in love.

Every true, born-again Christian, must possess the indwelling of His Spirit.  The effective and powerful Christian life cannot be lived out without His Spirit.  His leading and guiding on the inside is the separating factor between us and the world.  The world caters to the things of the flesh while the Spirit hones in on the things of heaven; the things of God.  Therefore, he hath given us of his Spirit and His Spirit should lead every Christian down the path of showing the same love He has shown to us.

1 John 4:14 “And we have seen and do testify that the Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world.”

Here, we see the word “we” again.  In this usage of the word, John is speaking from his personal experience with Jesus.  John was not doing a retelling of a story passed down; rather, he was attesting to the real-life knowledge of the ministry he witnessed following Jesus Christ personally for those 3 ½ years.  This is a ministry that he has seen with his own eyes and now lives to tell about it or testify to others.

And, what does he testify?  “The Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world!”  How incredibly AWESOME is that!  He knows and witnessed His workings while here on earth that Jesus Christ was no less than the Son who has come to save!  He is the love of God in action!

Jesus Himself told Nicodemus, “For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved,” (John 3:17). This is nothing short of the ultimate act of love.  This, throughout every facet of His ministry, John gave witness to, testified of and wrote as a record in the books that bear his name.

1 John 4:15 “Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwelleth in him, and he in God.”

Earlier in this same book John wrote, “Whosoever denieth the Son, the same hath not the Father: he that acknowledgeth the Son hath the Father,” (1 John 2:23).  This goes back to his combatting the false teachers and their teachings.  He stated very bluntly in the verse prior to this: “Who is a liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist, that denieth the Father and the Son,” (1 John 2:22).

Not only are they a “liar,” but have been identified with the “antichrist.”  That’s a heavy dose of truth.  Christians have to be on guard where they are getting their information from and where they are allowing it to lead them.  But he that shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwelleth in him, and he in God.

The false teachings are out there.  We are to make sure we are following the way of truth in love.

1 John 4:16-19 “And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him.  Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world.  There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.  We love him, because he first loved us.”

Here, the love issue is unwrapped and exposed for us to understand.  What do we understand?

  1. We know and believed the love that God hath to us. – Before one can dish it out to another, they must believe the love that God has for them. God loves you! We are more than familiar with the John 3:16 statement of love, but what about the Romans 5:8 statement of love: “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” While we were yet in our mess – God loved us so much to send His Son to the cross for us. That’s powerful love!
  2. God is love. – Again, as already has been stated in our lesson, God cannot be separated from the character of who He is.  Love is not what God does, it’s who He is. Now, everything that the world identifies as love does not mean that God is in that.  If it is in opposition to His Word, He ain’t there.  Point blank.  Plain and simple.
  3. He that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him. – God’s love was a demonstrative type of love; one He put on display through action, particularly in the sacrificing of His Son. In John 15:13 Jesus said, “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” He who possesses the same marks of love He did, has the same “God in him.” He that lives in the life of love lives in God.
  4. Perfect love – We can experience His perfect love.  When the day of judgment comes we can stand with no fear in us because we have already been covered by His love. Therefore, we fear no sense of judgment or separation.  Romans 8:38-39 reminds us, “For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, no powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” There is no fear in His perfect love.  Perfect love casteth out fear, therefore if any remain in fear he is not in love and needs to reevaluate their relationship with God. “For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father,” (Romans 8:15; see also 2 Timothy 1:7).
  5. We love him, because he first loved us. – Make no mistake about it; humans cannot take credit for this. As already stated before, love originates with God.  “God loves you!”  You, my friends, are so very much and incredibly loved by the King of all kings and the Lord of all lords.  There is so much that we face daily that tries to speak contrary to the blessedness we have in Him.  But, my God loves you with an undying love.  His heart is tied to His people.  His people need only to rest in the promises of His mercy, grace, power, and authority that make their hearts soar on the wings of the hope we have in Him all because He chose to love us first despite our sins and flaws.

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

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 for teaching): Sunday School Lesson – The Love of God

Object Lesson Ideas:

“How Much Are We Worth?”

“He Loves Me… He Loves Me Not”

“God’s Love Letter”

Craft Heart: Create a simple heart craft that expresses God’s love for them. Simply fold a piece of construction paper in half and cut into the shape of a half heart.  When the students open the heart fully, they can write in the middle “God is Love” and decorate their heart by making designs, or adding stickers, glitter, or other embellishments to it.

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

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

Memory Verse: The Love of God Memory Verse

Draw the Scene: The Love of God Draw the Scene

Word Search: The Love of God Word Search  Answers: The Love of God Word Search Answers

Crossword: The Love of God Crossword  Answers: The Love of God Crossword Answers

Word Scramble: The Love of God Word Scramble  Answers: The Love of God Word Scramble Answers

Additional Activities/Resources/Links:

“Love Bible Printables” (Yes, printables!  Originally for Valentines Day but goes very nicely with today’s lesson.  Enjoy!)

“Bible Lessons, Crafts and Activities about Love” (Several to choose from that can be nicely incorporated in this week’s lesson.  Enjoy!)

“Love One Another” (How does making “friendship stickers” sound?  This and another activity can be found on this link.  What a creative way to show love!  Enjoy!)

“Love One Another” (A creative classroom project which involves a big red heart and students’ self-portraits.  Very nice!  Enjoy!)

“Heart Crafts” (Several for Valentine’s Day that can be used creatively for our lesson.  Enjoy!)

“As I Have Loved You” (Children’s Bible lesson and activities with printable sheets and group activities that include a “Sucker Relay,” “Bubble Popping,” and more.  Enjoy!)

“Teaching Kids How to Love God and Love Others” (Sunday School Lesson Help)

“Love Bible Verses for Children” (Easy printable activity for kids.  Enjoy!)

“Love One Another Printable Mobile” (AWESOMENESS!  ENJOY!)

“Love Crafts” (Many unique love crafts to choose from that can be adapted to today’s lesson.  Click to check it out.  Enjoy!)

“Three Bible Stories that Teach About Love”

 

“The Power of God” Sunday School Lesson, Job 26:1-14

Above Photo: Pixabay/paulbr75

 

VERSE DISCOVERY: Job 26:1-14 (KJV, Public Domain)

Many are familiar with the history of Job and how his story arrived at this chapter in the Bible and the reasoning for the state that he was in (see Job 1&2 for the story behind the beginnings of his afflictions).

In the chapter prior to this lesson, chapter 25, Bildad, one of Job’s friends who came originally to console Job, who then became one of his accusers, spoke against Job’s complaint. 

You see, Job is in the hardest battle of his life.  In some ways he appears to feel alone and can’t find God in the midst of this mess he is in (23:2-9), but he firmly holds on to his faith and states, “But he knoweth the way that I take: when he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold,” (23:9). 

But, after Job’s recitation of the wrongs he sees being done in the world (chapter 24), his friend Bildad gives a little speech of his own, to the which, we find Job’s rebuttal in the verses below.

Words Without Power

Job 26:1-4 “But Job answered and said, How hast thou helped him that is without power? how savest thou the arm that hath no strength? How hast thou counselled him that hath no wisdom? and how hast thou plentifully declared the thing as it is? To whom hast thou uttered words? and whose spirit came from thee?”

But Job answered.  This was the ninth time Job speaks and it is against his friends in rebuttal and he had a lot to say about them and the words they used against him.  A lot of words are flowing from their mouths but they have no power to help.

The words we speak out of our mouths can either edify (build up) others or tear them down.  Proverbs tell us, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof,” (18:21).  Proverbs also tell us, “In the multitude of words there wanteth not sin: but he that refraineth his lips is wise,” (10:19).

Yet, refraining their lips were something Job’s friends had a great deal of difficulty doing.  They just knew that Job was the cause of all his troubles, and they had no problem telling him their opinions.  Repeatedly, they opened their mouth against their friend, and repeatedly, instead of encouraging and comforting him, they attacked him with venomous words that weren’t adding to Job’s circumstance, but they were taking away from him.

Job’s rebuttal to Bildad’s last speech was to question how have their words helped him?  He has been wrung through the wringer of life and he couldn’t even find strength in the counsel of friends.  No wonder he once referred to them as miserable comforters’ (Job 16:2).

Job lost everything physically and relationally close to him.  All his possessions are gone.  His children are no more.  His wife was acting like a “foolish woman” (Job 2:10).  And as for his friends, where is the sympathy and compassion he thought he would receive in such troubling times?

Rather, before the eyes of his friends, Job seems to be nothing.  They don’t look at him the same way they used to look at him.  To them, he is not righteous, he has no integrity, and he needs to have a one on one with God to get things right.  They see no value in the man they once highly esteemed and they had no problem telling him about himself.

Job was weak and had nothing and their words did nothing to strengthen him (compare Isaiah 41:28).

Job lamented their false words and so-called wisdom which they attempted, in their own way, to counsel him by (compare Psalm 71:9-12).  Sarcastically, he stated, How hast thou plentifully declared the thing as it is?  Their words were many but did very little to relieve all that Job was feeling or going through.  At the end of Job’s story, God had something to say about the words they so plentifully aimed at Job.  He said, “Now take seven bulls and seven rams, go to my servant Job, and offer a burnt offering for yourselves. Then my servant Job will pray for you. I will surely accept his prayer and not deal with you as your folly deserves. For you have not spoken the truth about me, as my servant Job has,” (Job 42:8; emphasis mine; refer back to Proverbs 10:19).  Through their own wisdom they thought they were helping, but in truth, their words didn’t help at all.

While Job may have questioned the words Bildad and the others uttered against him, and the spirit from which these words were inspired, one thing Job didn’t question in this chapter was the greatness of God’s power.

God All-Powerful

Job 26:5-6 “Dead things are formed from under the waters, and the inhabitants thereof. Hell is naked before him, and destruction hath no covering.”

God is not limited in His ability to see all and to know all.  He is “omniscient” which means “all-knowing.”  As Jonah found out in his story, there is no place one can run or hide and not have God be fully aware of it.  Even David once asked the rhetorical question for which he already knew the answer: “Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence?” (Psalm 139:7).  David then followed it up with this monumental statement of faith: “If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there,” (Psalm 139:8).

Years before David’s proclamation on the all-knowing capabilities of God, Job pronounced that even the places where the dead, and hell, and destruction are; these horrid places beyond the capacity of man’s reach, their goings-on are completely opened before God as if they were naked and had no covering.

God’s power sees everything!  There is no place, no situation, no heart, no anything that is out of His reach to see and know about.  All our lives are truly an opened book before His greatness, and even when we pass off the scene, He knows us in those places as well.

God knows all that goes on in the heavens and the unlimited reaches of the universe that humanity can’t even begin to scratch the surface on knowing.  God knows what goes on in every corner of the earth, with every participant of humanity.  And yes, God even knows the places where the dead reside, no matter who or where they are.

They recognize Him and fear and tremble before His presence.  How much more should the living?

Job 26:7-14 “He stretcheth out the north over the empty place, and hangeth the earth upon nothing. He bindeth up the waters in his thick clouds; and the cloud is not rent under them. He holdeth back the face of his throne, and spreadeth his cloud upon it. He hath compassed the waters with bounds, until the day and night come to an end. The pillars of heaven tremble and are astonished at his reproof. He divideth the sea with his power, and by his understanding he smiteth through the proud. By his spirit he hath garnished the heavens; his hand hath formed the crooked serpent. Lo, these are parts of his ways: but how little a portion is heard of him? but the thunder of his power who can understand?”

As Creator, God’s power is responsible for putting everything in its ordered place.

He stretcheth out the north over the empty place (compare Genesis 1:2; Job 9:8).  This is referring to the heavens.  We are told in the very beginning of the Bible, “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth,” (Genesis 1:1).  God is the Author and Designer of all places, things, and life.  God’s power alone is responsible for the creation of even the heavens (north) (compare 1 Chronicles 16:26; Nehemiah 9:6; Isaiah 42:5; 44:24; 51:13 – just to name a few).  “Ah LORD GOD! behold, thou hast made the heaven and the earth by thy great power and stretched out arm, and there is nothing too hard for thee,” (Jeremiah 32:17).

He hangeth the earth upon nothing.  It is amazing that Job had this insight of the universe in a time before the modern use of space exploration tools and technology.  The earth is just where God placed it, rotating on an axis that nobody can see, orbiting millions of miles around the sun each year, while being held on seemingly nothingness, yet there it is, perfectly placed by God’s power.  Jeremiah tells us, “He hath made the earth by his power, he hath established the world by his wisdom, and hath stretched out the heaven by his understanding,” (51:15).  In essence, God’s power and wisdom are all that is needed to hang the earth on nothing!

He bindeth up waters in his thick clouds.  As Job thinks about God’s power, perhaps he’s looking skyward where he notices the clouds.  Upon seeing them, maybe he is awestruck at their beauty and how God collects the waters in them and they float along the lines of the sky and the cloud is not rent under them.  Oh, in their due time, rains will come.  But isn’t it amazing all the waters that are gathered by way of vapors and held in each one, and despite their size, mass, and weight, they dance along on the currents of the winds and travel wherever they may without them busting?

The power of God is responsible for the creation of the clouds and rains as well. “For he maketh small the drops of water: they pour down rain according to the vapour thereof: Which the clouds do drop and distil upon man abundantly,” (Job 36:27-28). Oh, what insight Job had of the Almighty!

He holdeth back the face of his throne speaks of the covering of God’s majestic, heavenly seat by way of the very cloud over it.  As Moses was held safely in the cleft of the rock (Exodus 33:22), shadowed by the hand of God, that his eyes may not be overcome by the fullness of His glory, so too may the clouds cover the place of His glory, concealing the fullness of Him in His heavenly abode (compare Psalm 97:2; 104:1-3).

He hath compassed the waters with bounds.  Does Job look out on the horizon and see that circular marker in the sky that shows the limits of where dark and light meet, where day and night come to an end, and realize it’s there, too, because of God’s power (compare Proverbs 8:29; Isaiah 40:22)?  All evidence of Job’s speech points back to God the Creator and how it was nothing but His power that set everything in the heavens and the earth into motion and being.

The pillars of heaven (compare Psalm 75:3) can be likened to the mountain peaks which appear, to the human eye looking out, that they are holding up the very heavens themselves and the skies are resting upon them.  Yet, as strong and as majestic these great pillars may appear to be, they tremble at the power of God and are astonished at his reproof.  They quake in His presence and are in awe at the sound of His rebuke (compare Psalm 18:7 and Isaiah 5:25).  Everything in creation reacts to the presence and power of God.

He divideth the sea with his power.  The seas are often described as raging and out of control, but God’s power controls even these.  As the seas can be stirred by His power they can also be calmed by His power.  This is something Jesus proved true when the Son of God stood in the boat in the midst of the raging sea and demanded of it, “Peace, be still!” (Mark 4:39) and it obeyed His voice.

By his understanding he smitteth through the proud or, “Rahab.”  There are many ideas of exactly who or what this is referring to.  But, all the proud will be crushed under Him whether it is speaking of the pride of the sea and/or creatures in it, the pride of evil, or the pride of nations such as Egypt; all will collapse and be brought down by the power of God.

Everything in creation was made by his spirit, (Spirit), or as some translate it, the very breath of God (In both the Hebrew and Greek the word “breath” is the same word for “spirit” and vice versa. Compare Psalm 33:6; John 20:22).  From the highest heights of the heavens and all their celestial bodies, including certain constellations, particularly the dragon, which in that day was synonymous to that of the crooked serpent (compare Job 9:8-9), everything came because He commanded it to be so. 

Note: Some see the serpent here as a physical animal on land or a sea creature, or even something of the spiritual nature, all which God most assuredly reigns over and can control.  But, here in this portion of Job, it most likely refers to the constellation.

When God spoke by His breath or Spirit in the beginning, those words formed and became the world and all that we see today.  Mankind may be able to invent things out of materials that already exist, but God, by His words, creates, and things come from nothing and begin to exist for His divine purposes (see Hebrews 11:3).  As Creator, He can raise them all up, and/or pierce them through at His holy desire.  Just because He is God!

Therefore, Job closes with this statement, Lo, these are parts of his ways.  All these beautiful descriptions that Job lays out about God’s power and His creative abilities and strength to form and hold all that is in the world, none of it can still scratch the vast surface of who He really is and what He is really capable of doing.  All that we may see and wonder over, are just a part of, or just the edge of His ways.  God is so much more.

What we can hear of Him amounts to no more than the littlest of whispers, or a little portion because He is so grand and majestic.  How we would be able to even comprehend the full thunder of powerWhat it all boils down to is, out of all that God has revealed to us through His creation, out of all the demonstrations of His power, we still only know the slightest parts of Him, we still can’t comprehend His greatness fully with our human intellect because He is just that powerfully awesome!

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 for teaching): Sunday School Lesson - The Power of God

Draw the Scene: The Power of God Draw the Scene

Memory Verse: The Power of God Memory Verse

Adult Journal Page: Adult Journal Page – Job 26:7

Kids Journal Page: Journal Page Kids – Job 26:7

Blank Journal Pages: 2 Journal Pages

Earth Mobile Craft: Earth Mobile Craft

Word Search: The Power of God Word Search  Answers: The Power of God Word Search Answers

Crossword: The Power of God Crossword  Answers: The Power of God Crossword Answers

Word Scramble: The Power of God Word Scramble  Answers: The Power of God Word Scramble Answers