Sunday School Lesson – “When God Called Moses” Exodus 3:1-12

VERSE DISCOVERY: Exodus 3:1-12 (Public Domain)

1) “Now Moses kept the flock of Jethro his father in law, the priest of Midian: and he led the flock to the backside of the desert, and came to the mountain of God, even to Horeb.

2) And the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush: and he looked, and, behold, the bush burned with fire, and the bush was not consumed.

3) And Moses said, I will now turn aside, and see this great sight, why the bush is not burnt.

4) And when the Lord saw that he turned aside to see, God called unto him out of the midst of the bush, and said, Moses, Moses. And he said, Here am I.

5) And he said, Draw not nigh hither: put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground.

6) Moreover he said, I am the God of thy father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. And Moses hid his face; for he was afraid to look upon God.

7) And the Lord said, I have surely seen the affliction of my people which are in Egypt, and have heard their cry by reason of their taskmasters; for I know their sorrows;

8) And I am come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, and to bring them up out of that land unto a good land and a large, unto a land flowing with milk and honey; unto the place of the Canaanites, and the Hittites, and the Amorites, and the Perizzites, and the Hivites, and the Jebusites.

9) Now therefore, behold, the cry of the children of Israel is come unto me: and I have also seen the oppression wherewith the Egyptians oppress them.

10) Come now therefore, and I will send thee unto Pharaoh, that thou mayest bring forth my people the children of Israel out of Egypt.

11) And Moses said unto God, Who am I, that I should go unto Pharaoh, and that I should bring forth the children of Israel out of Egypt?

12) And he said, Certainly I will be with thee; and this shall be a token unto thee, that I have sent thee: When thou hast brought forth the people out of Egypt, ye shall serve God upon this mountain.”

 Lesson Introduction:

Going back into history a little more, Moses’ path in life was far from ordinary.  From the time of his birth, he was deemed a “beautiful child” (Ex. 2:2).  When she could no longer hide him from the Egyptians who oppressed her people, Moses’ mother went to great lengths to save his life, leading him to become Pharaoh’s daughter’s child (Ex. 2:5-10).

Being raised in the house of Pharaoh did not block his view of the suffering of his people.  Taking matters into his own hands at one point caused him to flee for his own life, beginning the next leg of his life’s journey in Midian (Ex. 2:1.1-15).  There, he established a new life.  He even married and had sons in the process (Ex. 2:21-22; 18:3-4).

Time went by, but the problem in Egypt remained.  The Bible says, “The children of Israel sighed by reason of the bondage, and they cried, and their cry came up unto God by reason of the bondage.  And God heard their groaning, and God remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob,” (Ex. 2:23b-24).  God was ready to deliver His people from bondage.  For that, He would raise up a man, a prophet, to lead them.  And this man’s name, as we have already been focusing on, was Moses, the subject figure of this week’s lesson.

Lesson Summary:

For Moses, an ordinary day turned extraordinary.  The mundane task of tending the flock of his father-in-law took a dramatic turn, one that would change the course of his life forever.

It all started when “Moses kept the flock of Jethro his father in law, the priest of Midian: and he led the flock to the backside of the desert, and came to the mountain of God, even to Horeb.”  By this time in his life, Moses is at the ripe old age of 80.  Any of those terrible thoughts of his previous life in Egypt have probably faded as he has been settled for some time in his new life of shepherding his father-in-law’s flock.

His goal for that day when he woke up and ventured out was to find the best pasture for the flocks to graze and feed.  That’s it.  His ambitions didn’t go any higher than that.  The simple life is what he lived and what he had grown accustomed to.  No drama.  No hardness.  No dealing with extraordinary circumstances that were beyond his control.  Simply, find pasture, feed the flock, and get on with the day as usual.  The furthest thing from his mind on that day was a personal encounter with God.

Please Note: God never has to ask our permission when He wants to call us into service.  He doesn’t focus on our convenience or acceptance of the call.  He calls us according to His perfect timetable and empowers us with His Spirit to follow through on the course He has laid out for us.  Be it an ordinary day or not, when God is ready, He will reveal Himself to us.  In that, He asks us to trust Him and follow His lead.

While going about his daily routine, his mundane tasks, his inconsequential chores on the “backside of the desert” on “the mountain of God, even to Horeb” (later to be referenced to as Mt. Sinai, the place where Moses will receive the Ten Commandments), his day was interrupted by a sight he had never seen before.  There, before him, was a “bush burned with fire, and the bush was not consumed.” 

The Bible describes the event as something divine in nature going on.  God was getting ready to not only change Moses’ everyday course forever, but He was ready to speak a new calling into his life.  He was going to take him from the ordinary shepherd that he was today and make him a notable instrument in freeing His people from the bondage of Egypt for a better tomorrow.  But first, He had to get his attention.  With that, an “angel of the LORD appeared unto him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush.” 

For Moses, at that time, all it appears he is fascinated with is the fire that does not affect the bush that is set to flames.  This miraculous occurrence is intriguing to him, and in his curiosity, he is resolved to find out more and investigate the matter thoroughly.   He said, “I will now turn aside, and see this great sight, why the bush is not burnt.”  Seeing a bush on fire in the heat of the desert is nothing new.  Seeing a bush on fire in the heat of the desert that doesn’t burn up, well that’s a whole other story worth finding out about more.

“When the LORD saw that he turned aside to see, God called unto him out of the midst of the bush and said, Moses, Moses.”  If the last thing he expected to see on this unusual day was a burning bush that was not consumed, then surely, he would have never imagined hearing a voice coming “out of the midst of the bush” saying his name, “Moses, Moses.” 

What a frightful and awesome experience it must have been to hear the words of the living God being uttered in His powerful and true oration.  And to not only hear His words but to hear Him call you by your name, personally.  But that’s how God is.  He knows us wonderfully.  He knows us completely.  He knows us each, individually, on a one-on-one basis.

Jesus even spoke in the New Testament, saying, “He calleth his own sheep by name,” (John 10:3).  To Him, you are somebody.  To Him, you are valued.  To Him you are important.  To Him, you are not invisible.  He knows you.  He knows your name.  How wonderful is that?  We serve a personal God!  Hallelujah!

To the calling of his name out of the flames, Moses’ response was, “Here am I.”  This is the same way Samuel responded when he thought Eli was calling him.  Turns out the voice he was hearing was from God as well, and he was instructed to respond to Him, saying, “Speak, LORD; for thy servant heareth” (see 1 Samuel 3:4-10).

When God calls, we must be responsive to answering His call.  He’s not calling without purpose.  He doesn’t want to deal with inactivity or an indifferent attitude.  We must be willing to hear and receive from Him and follow through on what He instructs us.  This is something Moses would initially struggle with, but through God’s working and leading, he became a powerful leader of God’s people with his name etched in history forever.

“And he said, Draw not nigh hither: put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground.”  As Moses was coming nearer to the object of his attention, the burning bush, God stopped him from proceeding farther.  One cannot tread the presence of God with a heavy foot.  We must recognize the severity of being in the presence of the true and living, holy God.  He is omnipotent. He is the Sovereign of the universe, the Creator of all. He is divine all by Himself. He is God all by Himself. He declared in Isaiah, “Before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me. I, even I, am the LORD; and beside me there is no savior . . . ye are my witnesses, saith the LORD, that I am God,” (43:10-12).

Being the awesome God that He is, required, and still requires respect before drawing nigh unto His indescribable presence. “Put off thy shoes!” Recognize where you are and who you are approaching!  This is a sacred place.

“Moreover he said, I am the God of thy father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.”  God introduces Himself (compare to Genesis 15:7) to Moses and identifies exactly Who it is that is speaking to him from the midst of the bush.  Referencing his own father and the patriarchs, God identifies Himself as the same God who is and has been in covenant relationship with His people Israel.  He is the same God of the Hebrews that initiated with Abraham this awesome promise and carried it through his lineage and down the line to where Moses and his people are today.  The years have not whittled away that covenant.  It is still intact, and God was ready to show up and show out on His people’s behalf.

“And Moses hid his face for he was afraid to look upon God.”  Rightly so!  The presence of God is awesome and terrible all at the same time.  At this present time, Moses has yet to enter the intimacies of being in a personal relationship with God.  One where he becomes familiar with God and God refers to him as a friend (see Exodus 33:11).  Even still, when Moses did gain the boldness to ask God, “I beseech thee, shew me thy glory,” (Exodus 33:18) God’s response was, “Thou canst not see my face: for there shall no man see me, and live,” (Exodus 33:20).

God then begins to talk to Moses about the situation at hand: “the affliction of my people which are in Egypt.”

God’s people weren’t always “afflicted” in Egypt.  Earlier, when Joseph, through much historical detail (read Gen. 39-47 for full details), helped not only the Egyptians through a harsh time of famine but also his own family, the family of Jacob through whom the promises of God flowed, they all enjoyed a time of favor in Egypt.  Pharaoh told Joseph, “Thy father and thy brethren are come unto thee: The land of Egypt is before thee; in the best of the land make thy father and brethren to dwell” (Gen. 47:5-6).

But, when that Pharaoh died, this “affliction” they now faced was spurned by the fears of a new Pharaoh (Ex. 1:8-11).  The children of Israel now suffered mightily and served as slaves for the Egyptians.  Over 400 years have gone by, and God says He has, “heard their cry by reason of their taskmasters; for I know their sorrows.”

Though, throughout their history, their lives went from fantastic to fearful, God’s ears were opened and attentive to their cries the whole time.  In a time after this, David will also acknowledge the God who hears his cries, saying, “In my distress I called upon the Lord, and cried unto my God: he heard my voice out of his temple, and my cry came before him, even unto his ears,” (Ps. 18:6).  The point is God always sees and hears the troubles of His people and He knows “their sorrows.”

“I am come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians.”  Our God is a God of action.  God gets involved in the situation.  Dear friends, you are never left to fight through this world alone, no matter how you feel or how dark the days may seem.

God not only sees and hears, but He also initiates a plan for their deliverance.  Those who are currently in Egypt have never tasted freedom before.  It is something they have only ever dreamed about.  They know nothing about life outside of slavery.  God was going to change it all and “deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians.”  The Egyptians may have a tight hold on them now, but God was going to snatch them out of the hand of the enemy.

In other words, God came to meet them in their deepest time of need, at a time when the stripes of the taskmasters were too much to bear. God will come to meet you in your time of need to bring you out!  You may think you are in the worst place possible, but rest assured, wherever you are, you will never be out of the reach of God.

“To bring them up out of that land . . . unto a land flowing with milk and honey.”  God’s purpose was not only to deliver them from the evil clutches of the Egyptians but to “bring them” unto something better: their Promised Land, the land that was given as a promise to Abram [Abram was Abraham’s name at that time] (for the promise see Genesis 12:7; 13:14-15; 15:18; 17:2, 7-8).  The land may have been currently inhabited by the “Canaanites, and the Hittites, and the Amorites, and the Perizzites, and the Hivites, and the Jebusites,” but that same land has been allotted to the people of God as part of their covenant/promise heritage (refer to Genesis 15:18-21; Psalm 105:6-11).  When God delivered His people, these evil nations would be evicted from inhabiting their promise, and that land of prosperity would be given over to His people (compare Deuteronomy 6:3; 11:22-25; Psalm 105:44).

“Behold, the cry of the children of Israel is come unto me.”  Here is a reiteration that God hears their “cry.”  He also is noted as seeing “the oppression.”  He sees the harshness of their situation.  It has “come unto” Him.  It does not escape His knowledge!  God is closely knit to His people.  What we feel, He feels.  What we experience, He knows all about it.  Even today, the Bible assures us, “We do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses” (Hebrews 4:15a).

One of the greatest lies of the enemy is to speak against the faithfulness of God by trying to convince people that God doesn’t care; by persuading them that He has turned a blind eye to the troubles we face.

Nay, but God sees it! Your battle and your scars are not invisible to God. You are not invisible to God! He is paying attention to each and every one of us. “What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him?” David asked, knowing the true insignificance of man compared to all of creation in Psalm 8:4. Yet, God is mindful; He is paying attention!

Not only has He seen, but all His senses are put on high alert, and He has heard. Did not the psalmist declare, “I called on the LORD in distress; the LORD answered me and set me in a broad place” (Psalm 118:5; NKJV)?

“I will send thee unto Pharaoh, that thou mayest bring forth my people.”  God’s purpose for appearing and speaking to Moses wasn’t for naught.  He had an assignment for him.  Moses is going to be a key in the deliverance of God’s people from the Egyptians.  This is his calling.  This is the ministry God has ordained for his life.  Moses is being sent in as the man for the job.

His mission would entail him going before Pharaoh and bringing God’s groaning people out through signs and wonders performed in Egypt, the going through of the Red Sea, and even through their 40 years of wilderness wanderings, Acts 7:35-36; thus fulfilling more of His faithful promises to Abraham: “they shall come out with great substance,” (Gen. 15:14) and “in the fourth generation they shall come hither again,” (Gen. 15:16).

With such a heavy calling, Moses asked, “Who am I?”  If anyone felt inadequate about a task before him, Moses did.  To find out that God wanted to use him personally in such an extraordinary way was a little more than he could take in.  “Who am I?”  Moses spent the last 40 years shepherding animals and now God suggested that he would begin to shepherd His people “out of Egypt.”

“Certainly I will be with thee,” was God’s promise to him.  God never called anyone to a task and abandon them.  Later, after Moses passes off the scene God will have to reassure his successor, Joshua, in the same way, saying, “For the Lord thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest,” (Joshua. 1:9).  There is comfort that comes with knowing that God is in the midst no matter how overwhelmed we may feel by the job He has given us.

“And this shall be a token unto thee.”  Not only did God’s promise simply say that He would be with him, but God also backed it up with action.  He said, as proof, “When thou hast brought forth the people out of Egypt, ye shall serve God upon this mountain.”  And, when they reach that point, they will realize that it was not their own hand that delivered them. They were brought out because God was with them the whole time, thus fulfilling His promise.

Lesson Conclusion:

Moses was a prophet that was chosen by God for the specific ministry of leading His people out of bondage and shepherding them through their time in the desert.

Jesus had a definite calling for His life; He had a mission.  That mission was prophesied of in the Old Testament and fulfilled in the New Testament.  Moses once spoke of Him, and prophesied, “The LORD thy God will raise up unto thee a Prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, like unto me; unto him ye shall hearken,” (Deuteronomy 18:15).  Jesus Christ would be the fulfiller of that prophesy and so many more, and He would become the ultimate Shepherd of God’s people (John 10:1-15).

What is God calling us to do?  What areas do we feel Him nudging us into service?  Has the call been answered?  These are questions we must ask and answer for ourselves.

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 – When God Called Moses

SUGGESTED ACTIVITIES:

House of Cards Object lesson: When God calls someone to service, it requires us to lay down our will and build upon His will. When we follow God’s will and ways, we build upon a firm foundation (you can use sturdy children’s blocks that interlock to demonstrate this, or something similar).  But going our own way is like trying to build a house with a deck of cards (demonstrate).  They are flimsy and not very strong.  When the least little bit of breeze comes through, the house falls, and you must rebuild it again.

Note: The parable of the wise and foolish builders can also help demonstrate this (Matthew 7:24-26).

Moses, in today’s lesson, opened himself to hear and receive God’s will for his life when he said, “Here am I.”  Although he felt unqualified, God knew he was the man for the job.  Let’s get into it and learn more about When God Called Moses.

Game: Following the call of God requires that we lay down our will and pick up God’s will. Sometimes, people have a hard time with this, and they want to do their own thing.  This idea can be demonstrated by playing a game of Tug of War. Put a flag or a marker in the middle of the rope.  Attach a paper or a ribbon with the words “God’s Ways” on one side of the rope and on the other side, attach one with the words “Our Way.”  Proceed to play the game as usual, noting this is not what’s supposed to happen when God asks us to get on board with His plans.  Jesus, when faced with the tough job of going to the cross, said, “Father, if Thou be willing, remove this cup from Me; nevertheless not My will, but Thine be done” (Luke 22:42).

Craft Idea: The Prince and the Shepherd: Find pictures of a prince and one of a shepherd for students to color and cut out. Once they have finished that, they can glue them onto craft sticks to use as puppets in the retelling of Moses’ story.  It would be a bonus idea to add a sheep to it as well to help reenact the lesson.

Adult Journal Page: Adult Journal Page – When God Called Moses

Kid’s Journal Page: Kid’s Journal Page – When God Called Moses

Blank 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.

Draw the Scene: When God Called Moses Draw the Scene

Memory Verse: When God Called Moses Memory Verse

Word Search: When God Called Moses Word Search  Answers: When God Called Moses Word Search Answers

Crossword: When God Called Moses Crossword  Answers: When God Called Moses Crossword Answers

Word Scramble: When God Called Moses Word Scramble  Answers: When God Called Moses Word Scramble Answers

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Sunday School Lesson – “The Passover Lamb is Crucified” Luke 23:33-46; John 3:16

VERSE DISCOVERY: Luke 23:33-46; John 3:16 (KJV, Public Domain)

At twilight, at six o’clock that evening (being the time the Jewish day started), the celebration of Passover would begin, and the lamb of the Last Supper would have been killed for the feast (compare Matthew 26:17-19; Mark 14:12-16; Luke 22: 7-13).  Before twenty-four hours would pass, before this very time the next day, Jesus Christ would hang on the cross and be sacrificed as the Passover Lamb once and for all: “And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world” (1 John 2:2).

Many things have happened between Jesus’ last Passover with His disciples and His journey to the cross.  Following Luke’s account, not long after that Last Supper, after exposing there is a betrayer among them and squashing arguments of who is the greatest (Luke 22:24), Jesus soon found Himself on the Mount of Olives, in that garden called Gethsemane, where He battled in prayer (Luke 22:39-46).

Soon after, the betrayer arrived in the garden with “a band of men and officers from the chief priests and Pharisees” (John 18:3).  The price had been paid, and Judas Iscariot would fully follow through on his part as an informant for the enemy, double-crossing Jesus with a kiss (Luke 22:47-48).

After His arrest and the desertion of His disciples (Matthew 26:56), and the denial of Peter (Luke 22:54-62), Jesus stood before Pilate, a man condemned, and yet not condemned.  Not condemned, because there was no sin attached to Jesus or in Jesus that would condemn Him (Hebrews 4:15; 1 Peter 2:22; 1 John 3:5).  Even Pilate’s own mouth voiced His innocence with these words: “Ye have brought this man unto me, as one that perverteth the people: and, behold, I, having examined him before you, have found no fault in this man touching those things whereof ye accuse him:  No, nor yet Herod: for I sent you to him; and, lo, nothing worthy of death is done unto him” (Luke 23:14-15).

Yet, the Bible tells us, “For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him” (2 Corinthians 5:21).  For that to happen, the Passover Lamb had to be crucified.

Pilate passed his sentence and condemned to death (Luke 23:24) He that came to bring life (John 10:10). 

Stripped and beaten, crowned with thorns and spit upon, scourged and mocked (Matthew 27:27-31; Mark 15:16-20; John 19:1), he “Then delivered he him therefore unto them to be crucified. And they took Jesus, and led him away.  And he bearing his cross went forth into a place called the place of a skull, which is called in the Hebrew Golgotha” (John 19:16-17).

Jesus and the Cross

Luke 23:33-38 “And when they were come to the place, which is called Calvary, there they crucified him, and the malefactors, one on the right hand, and the other on the left.  Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. And they parted his raiment, and cast lots.  And the people stood beholding. And the rulers also with them derided him, saying, He saved others; let him save himself, if he be Christ, the chosen of God.  And the soldiers also mocked him, coming to him, and offering him vinegar, And saying, If thou be the king of the Jews, save thyself.  And a superscription also was written over him in letters of Greek, and Latin, and Hebrew, This Is The King Of The Jews.”

This was His destiny if we want to call it that.  This was the appointed time for Jesus to arrive at this place, this place called “Calvary, this place in history.

“Calvary” was more than a lovely thought in the hymns we sing and the story we pass down, it was a real place, where real pain and sacrifice were experienced.  It was a real place where love would win the ultimate victory.

Before He left heaven, this place, carrying out this plan of salvation was already determined: “But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world…” (1 Peter 1:19-20; see also Acts 2:23; Hebrews 9:26; Revelation 13:8).  The very details of His crucifixion were recorded in Psalm 22 many years before it happened.

Calvary would be the place where God would satisfy the greatest need humanity has ever known: salvation.  Calvary is the place where “they crucified him,” where Jesus laid down His life on the cross (John 10:18).

Submitting to the Father’s will on the cross would mean things would forever be different.  He had done more than come to change the world, He had come to change the hearts and lives of men.  He had come to “seek and save that which was lost” (Luke 19:40).  He had come to reconcile broken humanity back to the Father (Colossians 1:20; 2 Corinthians 5:18).  The cross made the way for that to happen.

With that, the act of crucifixion commenced.  As His body was forced to lie on that rugged beam, being held in place, the nails were driven in His flesh to secure Him, to punish Him, to kill Him.  Being lifted high, with the weight of His body pulling and being jarred against the tearing of flesh and the pain of the wound of the scourging, He was hung between two “malefactors, one on the right hand, and the other on the left” (we will talk more on them later).

This symbol of our Lord’s cross, posted between two others, is another real symbol in history testifying to the realness this moment demanded.  Our Lord’s death is not a fairy tale or a wonderful read of something lovely someone did for us.  His story is real, with incredibly real details that support the account of what He did for you and me.

Hanging there, Jesus wastes no time in speaking His first words from the cross: “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.”  Jesus refuses to let pain speak for Him.  He refuses to let resentment, bitterness, or anger have a word here.  Instead, love speaks.  The same love that drove Him to the cross (John 15:13) is the same love that is pleading for their forgiveness.  When the course of these events is over and Jesus ascends back to the Father, all who believe in Him will find life and forgiveness (John 14:6; 3:16; Acts 3:19; 2:38).

Earlier, Jesus prayed for His disciples (John 17), and here He prays for the executioners, the nailers, the mockers, the whippers, and for them who yelled, “Crucify Him!” (Luke 23:21).

In an article I previously published titled, Focus Shift, I wrote:

Instead of ranting and raving, Jesus, in His agony and pain sought the betterment of the very ones who were killing Him.  He knew He would die.  He knew the pain would not cease until He did.  This plan was going to go forth.  Yet, He focused on the needs of others rather than Himself.

How awesome is that?  Often, we hear these words during a Seven Last Words service on Good Friday, but can we even begin to imagine the strength and willpower it took for Jesus not to focus on Himself during that time?  For Him to look beyond what He was currently going through to care for and about others?  I don’t think we have a clue.  He immediately pleaded with the Father for their forgiveness.” (©WordforLifeSays)

So, thus, He prayed.

As they “cast lots” for His garment, fulfilling even more prophecies (Psalm 22:18), the response of the very people Jesus just prayed for while in agony was startling.  They “derided him, saying, He saved others; let him save himself, if he be Christ, the chosen of God.”

The “soldiers” too “mocked him, coming to him, and offering him vinegar.”  That old phrase, “rubbing salt into an open wound,” comes to mind when I read these words.

Love lays down on the cross.  Love prays for His transgressors.  Love bleeds in the place of man.  Yet, love is scorned and mocked with wagging heads (Matthew 27:39; compare Psalm 22:7-8), tormenting Jesus with more than the nails in His flesh.  The hurting words of the people must have pierced His heart in a way a sword never could.

Yet, He refused their taunts.  He refused the temptation to leave this appointed place.  He refused to save Himself from this hour (John 12:27).  Remember what He said in the garden?  “Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels?  But how then shall the scriptures be fulfilled, that thus it must be?” (Matthew 26:53-54).

Therefore, He hung, with Pilate’s “superscription. . . over him”, written in “Greek, and Latin, and Hebrew, THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS.”

Why was Pilate so adamant about keeping his superscription as it was?  The Jewish leaders insisted that he revise the wording by saying, “Write not, The King of the Jews; but that he said, I am King of the Jews” (John 19:21).  But Pilate refused and stated, “What I have written I have written” (John 19:22).  What was meant to be a written charge of the condemned became a written testimony for all to see.

Pilate knew they handed Jesus over by unjust means (Matthew 27:18), and they had no real evidence to condemn Him.  Even more startling was his wife’s interruption of the proceedings to send a private message to him, straightly telling him, “Have thou nothing to do with that just man: for I have suffered many things this day in a dream because of him” (Matthew 27:19).

He spoke twice in Luke, “I find no fault in him” (Luke 23:4, 14).  Was his conscience bothering him?  That, mixed with the warning from his wife, could have stirred something inside of him, but not enough to totally release Jesus from this fate.

Was he making a point?  Who really knows his thoughts behind the process, but the words of the superscription, written in the three main languages of the day and region, would stand to proclaim, “THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS.”

Jesus and the Thief

Luke 23:39-43 “And one of the malefactors which were hanged railed on him, saying, If thou be Christ, save thyself and us.  But the other answering rebuked him, saying, Dost not thou fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation?  And we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds: but this man hath done nothing amiss.  And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom.  And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, Today shalt thou be with me in paradise.”

So, there Jesus hung in between the two thieves (Mark 15:27), fulfilling scripture once again, being “numbered with the transgressors” (Mark 15:28; Isaiah 53:12).

Originally, both thieves had a thing or two to speak out against and challenged our Lord, and “reviled him” (Matthew 27:44; Mark 15:32).  Jesus was truly taking a battering on the cross.  There would not even be a camaraderie with His fellow condemned.  As His body bled and writhed in agony, would He be forsaken by all?

The challenge picked up in intensity as the pain and feeling of hopelessness crept in for one of the thieves.  He “railed. . . If thou be Christ, save thyself and us.”  In his railing against the Lord, he probably wasn’t as much concerned with Jesus and His claim to deity, and saving Himself, as he was for his own life being spared.  Out of fear for his life and his own pain, he made this selfish request.

But, challenging his challenge, the other thief spoke up, “Dost not thou fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation?”  Being this close to the end of his life may have awakened a reality in this man that the other seemed to miss.  None of them would leave these crosses alive.  The Roman soldiers would make sure of that (John 19:31-34).  All of them faced the same outcome.  Or did they?

Was there no fear of God in the first thief, even in this late hour of life?

As the prodigal son did in the pigpen (Luke 15:17), had this second thief finally come to himself and realize the wrongs that undid his life?  Did he question the choices he made that led him to Calvary as well?  Did he see something in Jesus, even in this late hour of his own life –  the man who speaks forgiveness from the place of pain, that he wanted for his own life, what little of it was left?

We don’t have all the answers to the questions or thoughts this man was struggling with on the cross, but we do know that he recognized two things.  First, he recognized his own undone state, that he “justly” was suffering for his “deeds.”  Recognizing personal sin is the first step to true repentance.  Jesus may have been nailed next to him, but he knew what Pilate and Herod already knew: “this man hath done nothing amiss.”

I don’t know how much of Jesus this thief could see physically with his eyes, but with his heart, it appears he had seen enough to believe that even now something better can come from his wasted life.  “And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom.”

Others were jeering, mocking, and cursing Him, but this dying thief recognized Jesus by what others missed, addressing Him as “Lord.”  He would die as a consequence of his actions, of this, he was sure, and he accepted that.  At the same time, he also accepted that the One who hung next to him was “Lord.”

To the “Lord” he prayed, “remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom.”  He didn’t rile.  He didn’t even suggest to Jesus to be released from his cross.  But when his story was done on this earth, he wanted to be where Jesus was, in His “kingdom.”  As the minutes passed, and the struggle to breathe and endure the pain and humiliation of the cross were getting extremely harder, this thief was looking ahead, with hope, for something better.

His late hour faith in Christ was rewarded with these words from our dying Lord: “Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise.”  Today, Jesus promised him, this will all be over.  Today, this man would be saved once and for all.  Today, Jesus would carry this precious soul to heaven with Him.

Jesus and the Father

Luke 23:44-46 “And it was about the sixth hour, and there was a darkness over all the earth until the ninth hour.  And the sun was darkened, and the veil of the temple was rent in the midst.  And when Jesus had cried with a loud voice, he said, Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit: and having said thus, he gave up the ghost.”

Earth responded to the Lord being crucified.  From noon, “the sixth hour”, to three o’clock in the afternoon, “the ninth hour”, “darkness” covered the “earth” (see Amos 8:9).

At this “ninth hour” Jesus cried out from the cross, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46).  The nails, the taunts, the pain were incomparable to this feeling of separation between Himself and the Father, a feeling He had never experienced before.  These very words were prophesied to be voiced at this time (Psalm 22:1), as the sin of the world laid literally on the shoulders of Jesus.

Heaven also responded to the crucifixion of our Lord when “the veil of the temple was rent in the midst.”  The need for further sacrifices was no longer there.  Through Jesus Christ, God was making a new way for believing souls to gain access to Him.

Before the cross, Jesus taught that He was the “way” (John 14:6) and the “door of the sheep” (John 10:7).  In John 10:9, Jesus says, “I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.”  There was no longer the need for “the veil of the temple.”  The Good Shepherd gave His life for the sheep (John 10:11), and heaven tore the “veil” because the way has been made:

“God made a way through the life and death of our Lord Jesus Christ.  To the life that will turn their heart and soul over to Him, He made a way.  “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me,” (John 14:6).  He is our access key.  He is the one who paved the pathway for us in righteousness and through His blood provided a space for us in His heavenly realm.  If we are His and have turned to Him, there is a place with your name on it in heaven.  A place waiting and wanting to be filled by you, but you must come through Jesus Christ only.” (God Made a Way/WordforLifeSays.com)

Seeing that all was done, every prophecy and command fulfilled, Jesus, spoke, “It is finished” (John 19:30).  Then, to the Father, Jesus cried out, echoing the words of Psalm 31:5, “Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit.”  There was nothing left for Him to do.  This portion of His story was written, and written perfectly well, and now it was time for the ending.  The work of the cross was finished.  The Passover Lamb had been crucified.  The price for sin has been paid (Romans 5:8; 6:23; Hebrews 9:12; 1 Peter 1:18-19).

Jesus and the World

John 3:16 “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 isn’t just a wonderful sentiment.  It’s more than a good word spoken to a seeking man by the name of Nicodemus.  John 3:16 was the expressed saving power of God on display in one verse, and Jesus knew that when He died on the cross, when He was lifted “As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness” (John 3:14), through His sacrifice, those who believe will find “eternal life” (John 3:15) in Him.  “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).

Why?  Because, “God so loved the world.” 

Love is God’s great motivation for everything.  From the calling of everything into existence to His moving through history, in all of it, God has operated in the sphere of love.

There is a popular quote that you may have heard before touting, “Love makes people do strange things.”  While love, or man’s idea of love, may have tripped people up and caused confusion over what love really is or how to respond to it, God never had any misgivings.  Anything and everything He did for love was an on-purpose act with a direct point of what He wanted to accomplish, even the death of Christ on the cross.

Love doesn’t make God do strange things.  God’s love does impossible things that only His perfect heart can do.  Although some may not understand the act of sacrificing Your perfect Son for the most unworthy of people, and they may view it through the eyes of limited human knowledge, thinking it strange, God sees it as the only way out for mankind to have a renewed relationship with Him.  God knows that for any man, woman, or child to be redeemed, they need to be reconciled to Him.  Only what Jesus did through the cross, as our Passover Lamb, can do this.  Only God’s love put Jesus there for us, for the “world”, to hang on Calvary’s tree: “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; emphasis mine).

Because of what Jesus Christ has done, we now have “access by faith into this grace,” and we have a reason to “rejoice in hope of the glory of God” (Romans 5:2).  Through His sacrifice of blood, He bought the key that would give us an open door to our heavenly Father.  And with everything we face in this life, our promise through Christ stands, and we who “believeth in him” shall have “everlasting life.” 

Thank God for the Lamb!

“Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord.” Acts 3:19

“Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.” 1 Peter 2:24

“Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us” 1 Corinthians 5:7

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 Passover Lamb is Crucified

Suggested Activities:

Adult Journal Page:  Adult Journal Page – The Passover Lamb is Crucified

Kid’s Journal Page:  Kid’s Journal Page – The Passover Lamb is Crucified

Draw the Scene:  The Passover Lamb is Crucified Draw the Scene

Memory Verse:  The Passover Lamb is Crucified Memory Verse

Activity Sheet:  The Passover Lamb is Crucified Activity Sheet

 

Word Search:  The Passover Lamb is Crucified Word Search  Answers: The Passover Lamb is Crucified Word Search Answers

Crossword:  The Passover Lamb is Crucified Crossword  Answers: The Passover Lamb is Crucified Crossword Answers

Word Scramble:  The Passover Lamb is Crucified Word Scramble  Answers: The Passover Lamb is Crucified Word Scramble Answers 

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Sunday School Lesson – “The Beginning of Jesus’ Miracles” John 2:1-12

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VERSE DISCOVERY: John 2:1-12 (KJV, Public Domain)

As romance filled the air and the town rejoiced in the jubilant affair, the birthing of miracles was about to take place.

Brides and grooms have many different ideas and wishes for their special day. Some people like nighttime candle-lit themes, while others like weddings outside at the beach. For some, the ceremony is short and sweet. For others, like the Jews in Jesus’ day, it could be a weeklong celebratory event involving everyone they knew.

No matter the weddings you have seen or even dreamed of, this wedding in Cana, on that day, was set apart from the rest as an absolute original, never to be repeated again. It became more than the wedding of the century. It became one whose story has been told time and time again. 

What marked this wedding as a worthy-to-be-passed-down story had nothing to do with design, theme, or the expense of the affair. But, because the extraordinary happened during this seemingly ordinary event, this wedding is remembered forever in history.

Take it to Jesus

John 2:1-4 “And the third day there was a marriage in Cana of Galilee; and the mother of Jesus was there: And both Jesus was called, and his disciples, to the marriage.  And when they wanted wine, the mother of Jesus saith unto him, They have no wine.  Jesus saith unto her, Woman, what have I to do with thee? mine hour is not yet come.”

At this wedding, “the mother of Jesus was there” in attendance already, supposed by some that she was personally involved in the celebration. It could be that she was a relative or a close friend of the family who had members that were to be married that day. Jesus also was “called, and his disciples, to the marriage” giving even more reason to believe that Mary and Jesus had close ties with these newlyweds. As the festivities got underway, at some point, Mary and supposedly the hosts of the affair realized there was a shortage of an essential staple present at these events, the “wine.”

This family in this remote village (where purchasing more wine in abundance, at a moment’s notice, was probably not an option) would know no small embarrassment at the lack of wine during such an auspicious occasion. This could be viewed as a huge social blunder and a reason for scorn and derision for the family involved. Not to mention the possibility of the bridegroom and his bride being mocked on what was supposed to be the happiest day of their life.

They are the ones who were to be celebrated that day, yet because of this misstep in failing to carefully plan for the event and the number of people in attendance, they would be ridiculed, to say the least. Such an error in a culture known for these elaborate feasts and gatherings (weddings during that time could last up to a week), where hospitality was key, would not soon be forgotten. They had social obligations and expectations from those in attendance that needed to be filled.

Mary, whom we are already supposing to have close ties to the family with the dilemma, does what any good Christian should do when facing a crisis: she took the problem to Jesus.

She approached Him and said, what seems to be in a pretty straightforward fashion, “They have no wine.” Can one image her wringing her hands as she realizes the scorn this family could face when the blunder becomes known? Then, could it be that the worry lines that started to stretch across her face began to disappear as she laid eyes on her son, the Son of God, who held all the answers she needed?

Why else did she seek out Jesus? She knew He could do something to remedy the situation. There is an old saying that “familiarity breeds contempt,” meaning those closest to you do not respect you as much as others would because they know too much about you. But, in this case, it is because Mary knew emphatically the realness of who Jesus is and His true identity, that she had no qualms about seeking His help in the time of this desperate situation.

Jesus respectfully replied to His mother’s query for help, saying, “Woman, what have it to do with thee? mine hour is not yet come,” (vs. 4). There is a right time and season for all things. Isn’t that what the book of Ecclesiastes tells us (see Ecc. 3)? Therefore, would not He who was present before time began and will be present when time on this earth comes to an end have a good handle on when it is the right time for Him to act or not?

Jesus has always had a keen idea on His “hour” (compare Matthew 26:18, 45 and John 12:23). What He was asked to do and what He was about to do would usher in a no turning back moment, propelling Him full speed ahead into His earthly ministry toward that end result found on Calvary’s hill. Everything had to be done precisely and according to His “hour.” This would be a visually identifying moment for Him that would begin to reveal, publicly, His true identity not only to His mother but to the world in wait for the Messiah to appear.

Do What He Says

John 2:5-8 “His mother saith unto the servants, Whatsoever he saith unto you, do it.  And there were set there six waterpots of stone, after the manner of the purifying of the Jews, containing two or three firkins apiece.  Jesus saith unto them, Fill the waterpots with water. And they filled them up to the brim.  And he saith unto them, Draw out now, and bear unto the governor of the feast. And they bare it.”

His mother was not put off or dismayed at His response. In fact, she acted confidently in faith that He would offer some solution to the problem at hand. Turning to the servants who were present with her, she simply stated, “Whatsoever he saith unto you, do it” (vs. 5).

Did she overstep herself? I don’t believe so. I believe if she had, Jesus would have simply chosen not to perform the miracle at all. In fact, I think she acted with the boldness of all she knew Him to be.

From time to time, throughout His life growing up, she must have pondered the time when she received the news from the angel Gabriel of the Child she would give birth to. Back when he initially spoke to her, informing her that He “shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest” (Luke 1:32). Back when he spoke, “that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God” (Luke 1:35), her mind must have traveled from time to time. It may be possible that thoughts such as these have carried her through some difficult days and gave her pause to remember that He, her Son, being the “Son of God,” was everything that God was and is.

Social obligations and expectations aside, she knew in her heart that He could fix the problem at hand because of who He was and confidently told those in service to follow His orders. With that, we are supposing she went on about the business of helping out with the wedding, leaving everything in the hands of Jesus.

If you will allow me to interject here for a moment, didn’t Mary do exactly what the Word encourages saints to do with every problem: take it to Jesus and leave it there? Are we not told in Psalm 55:22 and 1 Peter 5:7 to “cast” our burdens and cares on the Lord? Give Him what is troubling us because He cares about the problems we face? Mary became a great, real-life illustration of how to do just that.

Now, back to our lesson.

Jesus answered her request. Noticing the “six waterpots of stone” at hand for ceremonial “purifying of the Jews,” Jesus instructed the servants to “Fill the waterpots with water.”

Each of these vessels held about 20-30 gallons of fluid, depending on the size and shape of the vessel. They were there for the purpose of ritual washings. Here, they may have been made available for guest to wash their hands before eating. Possibly water from these vessels would be poured out and used for some guests who may have had their feet washed upon entering the house, as we see explained in other Bible stories (ex. Jesus washing the disciples feet at the Last Supper).

No matter the reason they were there, now they would become vessels for the Master’s use. Jesus was going to employ these ordinary containers to hold and pour out a miracle for people to enjoy.

The first step toward that miracle is to do exactly as Mary said. To reiterate, she said, “Whatsoever he saith unto you, do it.” The servants who would carry out the details of this miracle had to obey the voice of Jesus. No obedience = no miracle. (Side note: This almost became a hindrance in Naaman receiving his healing from leprosy when he initially refused to do as instructed until one of his own men pushed the idea that he should follow and obey the voice of the prophet – see 2 Kings 5 for full story).

Obedience enjoined with faith equals miracles. On many occasions of performing miracles, Jesus just did what needed to be done and healed, delivered, or set free. At the same time, on other occasions, His instructions being followed was pivotal in receiving said miracle (see John 9:7). Therefore, “they filled them up to the brim,” (vs. 7). The servants carried out Jesus’ commands leaving no room at the top. Jesus said fill them up and fill them up they did.

Jesus then instructed them to “Draw out now, and bear unto the governor of the feast.” We do not know if the servants could visibly, at this point, still see water in the pots or if they saw wine. The “governor of the feast” was the man in charge of all that was taking place during the celebration. Were the servants actually being asked to serve the governor water to drink from a cleansing pot? They may have wondered.

Experience the Results

John 2:9-12 “When the ruler of the feast had tasted the water that was made wine, and knew not whence it was: (but the servants which drew the water knew;) the governor of the feast called the bridegroom, And saith unto him, Every man at the beginning doth set forth good wine; and when men have well drunk, then that which is worse: but thou hast kept the good wine until now.  This beginning of miracles did Jesus in Cana of Galilee, and manifested forth his glory; and his disciples believed on him.  After this he went down to Capernaum, he, and his mother, and his brethren, and his disciples: and they continued there not many days.”

I personally believe that there still appeared to be water in the pots to the servant, and this too was a step of faith in obedience. The reason I believe this is because verse 9 tells us, “but the servants which drew the water knew,” indicating that it was still water when they took it out of the vessels and gave it to the governor. They, and the governor, were astonished at the results (even though the governor did not previously know where the wine came from – vs. 9).

Pulling the “bridegroom” aside, the governor exclaimed, “Every man at the beginning doth set forth good wine; and when men have well drunk, then that which is worse: but thou hast kept the good wine until now,” (vs. 10). The governor was under the impression that the bridegroom had kept the best for last. But this wasn’t the case at all. The bridegroom and his party ran out of supplies to keep the celebration in full operation. They were finished and set up to be a social embarrassment.

Jesus stepped in to rescue and remedied the situation in what is noted as the “beginning of miracles” He did in “Cana of Galilee.” Jesus did not save the best for last. He totally transformed the ordinary into the extraordinary, making water become the best wine anyone had ever tasted. This, my friends, is a bonafide miracle. He supernaturally made what wasn’t into what was before them now.

The real end result was not to get the best tasting wine possible. Rather, when those disciples who were with Him saw what He did, it encouraged and strengthened their faith in Him, and they “believed on him” all the more.

In what seems to be a minor miracle (I think not) to some, compared to others that would shortly follow, really was something terrific that “manifested forth his glory” to those around Him. Jesus was not a mere man trying to gain a crowd to follow Him. These men witnessed His power in action for the first time, and it was astounding. No one who was not approved by God, no one who was not God in the flesh could alter the structure of something as simple as water, and create it to be something totally different as wine.

We must keep in mind that what was given to the governor was not water that tasted like wine; rather, it was real, and official wine. Normally, this comes about through the grapevines with fruit that has been harvested and pressed and aged for a time. But when Jesus gets ahold of simple H2O, He created it to be something it wasn’t or didn’t have the structure to be. That’s a miracle!

No wonder their faith was encouraged by what they saw. This was one of the purposes for the miracles that Jesus did. They validated Him to the world seeking a Savior. Later in John 10:38, Jesus says, “Though ye believe not me, believe the works: that ye may know, and believe, that the Father is in me, and I in him.”

Only the Son of God can do such things as these, and that’s a cause for belief in Him, all by itself.

After the wedding celebration, Jesus “went down to Capernaum, he, and his mother, and his brethren, and his disciples: and they continued there not many days,” (vs. 12). From this point on, Jesus became fully engulfed in His earthly ministry.

“Capernaum,” at this time, was a respite before heading to Jerusalem for the Passover celebration (see John 2:13).

It was there at Jerusalem where Jesus became displeased and angry over what was going on in His Father’s house and flipped the tables of the merchants (see John 2:16). The disciples that were with Him at this time were clued in even more to His true identity by what they witnessed (see John 2:17), and even more miracles were performed that attested to the fact of who He really was (see John 2:23).

“Capernaum” later would serve as a major place of activity during His earthly ministry, including more miracles. It was there where the centurion asked for help for his servant, and Jesus sent healing his way (see Matthew 8:5-13). It was there, where Peter was instructed to look in the mouth of a fish for money to pay tribute (see Matthew 17:24-27).

What started with wine would eventually end with His blood flowing from Calvary’s cross. The truest of all miracles performed by the Lord who washed our black sins whiter than snow through His red blood offered as a Lamb sacrificed in our place.

Amazing!

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 and other ideas available.): Sunday School Lesson – The Beginning of Jesus’ Miracles

Suggested Activities:

Believe or Don’t Believe game opener. Do an internet search of extreme or what would seem to be unbelievable facts.  Have ideas that are real and some that are false.  These ideas can be from multiple sources such as unusual or weird stories (within reason), different weather events, historical facts or clothing, natural phenomenon, and so forth. Things that may seem outrageous but are hard to tell if it’s true or not.

Make paddles to use for this game. It can be something as simple as paper plates attached to large craft sticks, or you can use the paddle printable found below.  Have enough to give each student or team two paddles each.  On one paddle, have the word Believe written on it, and on the other paddle write the words Don’t Believe.

On a chart, chalkboard, or whiteboard write the name of your students (or teams if you have a larger class) to keep score.  Start presenting the ideas you found from your internet search.  Ask your students on the count of three to show, using their paddles, if they believe or don’t believe the statement you just made.  The student or team who has the most correct answers at the end of the game wins.

Lead into the lesson:  When discussing the miracles of Jesus that are recorded in the Word of God, we must believe that they are one hundred percent true.  Many who came to Jesus for their special needs to be met knew that He could do something to remedy their situation.  Today, we hold on to the truth of those wonderful miracles He performed, and we let them encourage our own faith walk.

Believe Don’t Believe Paddles: Printables found here.  Printing on cardstock is best or glue paddles to construction paper for stability before attaching to craft sticks.

Adult Journal Page: Adult Journal Page – The Beginning of Jesus’ Miracles

Kid’s Journal Page: Kid’s Journal Page – The Beginning of Jesus’ Miracles

Blank 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.

Draw the Scene: The Beginning of Jesus’ Miracles Draw the Scene

Memory Verse: The Beginning of Jesus’ Miracles Memory Verse

Word Search: The Beginning of Jesus’ Miracles Word Search  Answers: The Beginning of Jesus’ Miracles Word Search Answers

Crossword: The Beginning of Jesus’ Miracles Crossword  Answers: The Beginning of Jesus’ Miracles Crossword Answers

Word Scramble: The Beginning of Jesus’ Miracles Word Scramble  Answers: The Beginning of Jesus’ Miracles Word Scramble Answers

 

 

Sunday School Lesson – “4 Ways to Use Words Better” James 3:1-12; Isaiah 50:4

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4 Ways to Use Words Better Title pic-001

Our words are powerful!  As this lesson shows, they can be used to hurt or to heal; to edify or to tear down.  James wants us to choose life with the words that we speak.

VERSE DISCOVERY: James 3:1-12; Isaiah 50:4 (KJV, Public Domain)

Simon says, “Close your mouth!”  We all know the game.  Whatever Simon tells us to do, we do it lest we fear being counted out.  Oh, if only it were that easy to take command of some of our loose actions in life, such as ones that regard the mouth.  And yet, throughout the Bible, we are commanded to use our speech patterns in healthy and productive ways.  Not to be instruments for destruction and tearing one another down.

There is so much power bound up in the way that we talk.  Proverbs 18:21 tells us, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof.”  Whatever is produced from our lips generates fruit.  Stuff grows, for the good or the bad, from what we say.

James is admonishing us to be mindful of the words that come out of our mouth for with them we can lift someone’s day, or we can emotionally kill them. 

What we say makes a difference in the lives of others.  Our mouths are vessels of influence. 

James 3 unpacks the truth of the power of the tongue and how people of faith should be cautious in how they unleash it. 

Using Isaiah 50:4 as a companion Scripture with those found in James 3, this lesson will uncover four ways all of us can strive to use our words better.

 1. Realizing the Weight of Your Words

James 3:1 “My brethren, be not many masters, knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation.”

At the beginning of this lesson, I believe this is where many of us drop the ball, so to speak, in trying to improve our speech patterns toward others.  Many do not realize the weight of the words they speak and the impact those very words can have on the hearers.  Even if one is not trying to be purposely offensive, they would do well to think before speaking, asking oneself if the words that are about to come out of my mouth, necessary and/or helpful.  This step none can overlook, whether they are leaders or laypeople.  The responsibility of our words is just that, our responsibility.

So, starting with the leaders, James teaches, “Be not many masters.”  When it comes to bearing any title of leadership, often many will focus on prestige and tend to overlook the responsibility that comes with the job.  The Bible warns us, “For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more” (Luke 12:48).  There is a higher level of accountability for “masters” or “teachers.”  Those endued with the power to magnify the gospel in such a way must be particularly careful in how they use words.

Words are powerful and need to be measured out carefully.  One of the devices that Jesus’s enemies tried to employ against Him was to catch or trap Him in what He said.  Matthew 22:15 says, “Then went the Pharisees, and took counsel how they might entangle him in his talk.”  One’s words can testify for or against an individual.  “Masters” and those in leadership carry the added weight of accountability for their words for the increased impact they can make.

This office is not to be taken lightly, for James said, “Knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation.”  At this level, there is a higher standard of living expected for the one who bears the title, and James included himself in this by saying, “we”.  Proverbs 10:11 says, “The mouth of the righteous man is a well of life.”  Those who belong to God and work at sharing His word must especially be careful that what is coming out of them is speaking “life” to the ears of the hearers (more on this later).

James 3:2 “For in many things we offend all.  If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body.” 

In your mind, raise your hand if you have ever messed up or “offend” another.  One of the easiest ways to “offend” and harm another is through the mouth.  People often speak rashly in the heat of the moment and without carefully considering the impact their words have on another.  These emotional outbursts cause us to come up with phrases like “My mouth ran away with me” and so forth.  On those occasions, the use of the mouth was not employed as a tool for edifying, rather just the opposite.

But the one that can control his speech is considered “a perfect man.”  Since the tongue is often known as “running away” on its own, the one that exercises great restraint over this defiant member is considered “able also to bridle the whole body.”  It is the taming of what some view as being untamable.   He or she who can moderate or put limits on something so difficult to deal with can often show great restraint in other areas of life.  “He that keepeth his mouth keepeth His life: but he that openeth wide his lips shall have destruction,” is what we find in Proverbs 13:3a.  If one can keep their mouth under control, they can often hold tight elsewhere, avoiding destructive patterns that would work to tear them down.

In both verses quoted above, we see the weight of words and their impact is the sole responsibility of the one speaking, regardless of their title or not.  What we say out of our mouths carries so much with it and, it would behoove us to use our words wisely, chew on it a bit before we say it, and think critically, if what we are about to say is needful for that particular moment.

2. Learn to Tame the Tongue

James 3:3-4 “Behold, we put bits in the horses’ mouths,  that they may obey us; and we turn about their whole body.  Behold also the ships, which though they be so great, and are driven of fierce winds, yet are they turned about with a very small helm, whithersoever the governor listeth.”

James gives us the best possible illustrations on the power of the tongue by referencing it to two things his readers, as well as modern-day readers, can easily understand.  Through these two examples: one of a horse and another of a ship, James shows that man has, down through the years, discovered ways to bring these powerful objects under control.  For the horse, it is using a “bit” in its mouth and, for a ship, “a very small helm.” 

Both instruments are used for controlling other things.  They both direct the course of which way the operator wants each to go, be it a rider or “the governor.”  Both are great examples of how these large, and strong objects, can be made to comply with the will of the one who is controlling that little, vital piece.  If there are these little things that can move great objects into obeisance at its master’s will, what more of the little tongue?

James 3:5-6 “Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things. Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth!  And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell.”

Just as those little instruments are applied to the horse and ships, the body has a little thing that tries to control it also: “the tongue.” 

First, it “boasteth great things.”  The tongue edifies itself.  It magnifies the capabilities of its owner whether or not they really can do something.  The tongue is swollen with pride.  Have you ever seen an owner walk a little tiny dog with the biggest yipper on it, tugging and tugging the leash?  Or have you walked past a yard to the tune of relentless barking thanks to a peewee-sized dog?  These little ones are tenacious in letting you know who they are.  These pint-sized sweeties have no problem in letting the world know that they are here, and they mean business.

Our tongues often act in the same way.  It is so small, and it has so much to bark about.  Yet, this barking, used in a nonproductive and selfish way, makes a lot of noise, and can lead to great destruction.

Secondly, James taught, “how great a matter a little fire kindleth!  And the tongue is a fire.”  It only takes a small flame to bring on a raging inferno.  I often watch coverage on the news of fires that burn uncontrollably.  They are huge.  They are massive walls of orange-red destruction, eating and devouring everything in its path.  But they never start out that big.  Their origin is relatively small in comparison to the size they have grown to be.

James said, “And the tongue is a fire.”  The tongue can be the source of destruction that wreaks havoc on the things that get in its way.  It can chop and devour until it has consumed some with sorrow and some with despair when wrongly used.  The tongue can lash out and cause irreparable damage to the ears of its hearer if not used properly.

James described it as “a world of iniquity.”  Proverbs 10:19 says, “In the multitude of words there wanteth not sin: but he that refraineth his lips is wise.”  A lot of running off at the mouth gives many opportunities for sin to rear its ugly head.  When the tongue is let loose, it lashes about without regard for hurt, feelings, or the devastation it leaves behind.  Like a whirling tornado, it ravishes, spinning around and around in sinfulness, wiping out all in its path.

Without restraint, all it knows how to do is upheaval.  Without being restrained, the tongue “defileth the whole body.”  Jesus taught, “A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh,” (Luke 6:45).  With that, we see that whatever comes out of the mouth, gives evidence to what already resides in the heart or the “body.” 

James 3:7-8 “For every kind of beasts, and of birds, and of serpents, and of things in the sea, is tamed, and hath been tamed of mankind:  But the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison.”

Man, through the blessed ingenuity that God has given him, has developed ways to tame just about everything.  Yes, our lesson focuses on the taming of animals and birds, right down to the taming of serpents.  But, when we think about it, man has been able to take control of or tame many more things.  Since the Bible days, man has even found ways to harness energy through many means, including using the sun’s power.  Man has developed many ways to use the power of nature, such as wind and water, to harness their energies to benefit humanity.

Though he has been able to do so many feats (think of all the inventions through the years), the Bible says, “the tongue can no man tame.” It speaks to the “unruly evil” that it truly is.  It testifies to the power that it holds in its little self.  It is liken as being “full of deadly poison.”  Its work can destroy to the point of no return.  No wonder James’s warning is so strong and so severe.  Christians must learn how to put reins on this evil and stop its destructive ways.

Taming the tongue begins with not only monitoring one’s mouth but the things in the heart.  For the mouth cannot speak what the heart is not feeling.  Proverbs commands us, “Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life” (4:23).  The word “keep” can be used in the same sense as “guard” or “monitor.”  When the heart is kept and dealt with rightly, so too will the words which flow from it.

One day, each one of us will give an account for everything that proceeds from our mouths (Matthew 12:36-37).  As God’s children, we must not be reckless in the use of our words.  Taming the tongue means working hard to make sure your mouth is as a “well of life” (Proverbs 10:11) and that the words we speak be words of grace and helpful to the hearers thereof (Colossians 4:6; see also Ephesians 4:29).

3. Speak to Give Life

James 3:9-10 “Therewith bless we God, even the Father; and therewith curse we men, which are made after the similitude of God.  Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing.  My brethren, these things ought not so to be.”

In the beginning, God spoke His most beautiful words of creation: “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness…” (Genesis 1:26).  Verse 27 goes on to say, “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.”  These words professed the climax of His creation.  These words speak volumes of the love relationship that God wanted to have with man who was made “in his own image,” or as today’s lesson says, “after the similitude of God.” 

“Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing.”  The conundrum of man is that we love the Lord and seek to bless Him, but sometimes our attitude toward His creation, our fellow man, can cause us to have disgruntled feelings that may turn to cursing.  “These things ought not so to be,” James said.  That is not the way we are to behave toward one another.

1 John 4:20 says it like this, “If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?”  Love for God and hate toward man equals “blessing” and “cursing.” Those two cannot, and should not, exist together.  They are incompatible roommates.  They are not a good fit to dwell in the same domain with each other.

James 3:11-12 “Doth a fountain send forth at the same place sweet water and bitter?  Can the fig tree, my brethren, bear olive berries? either a vine figs? so can no fountain both yield salt water and fresh.”

To further illustrate this puzzling aspect of man to try and bless and curse from the same vessel, James points out things in nature that cannot happen, that are incompatible.  First, he uses “water” to demonstrate.  Can a water fountain bring sweet water and bitter from the same place?  Can a fountain have both salt water and fresh water?  The answer is an obvious no.  The same is true for looking for olives on the fig tree or figs on a vine where grapes would be.  It does not happen.

Nature is not confused about what it is to produce.  A fig tree is designed by God to bear fig fruit.  The same is true for olives and such.  If nature knows what it should produce, so should the Christians to whom James is writing.  They are to not act out of character to the way that God designed them.

In dealing with our speech toward others, we must be mindful of building up rather than tearing down.  Proverbs 15:4 reminds us that, “A wholesome tongue is a tree of life…” Think about that for a minute.  The words that we speak about and to one another can bring healing to a hurting soul.  That is powerful!  Our speech goes beyond just saying words; they exhibit and send forth “life.”

Who are we raising to “life” with a timely and sincere word?  Are people enriched for the good when they sit down to have a chat with us or do they walk away feeling extra heavy and burdened down?  These things make a difference.  Not only do they make a difference to the one whom we are conversing with, but they also speak for us how closely we are walking in tune with our Savior and how He dealt with individuals daily.  On that note, on to our fourth point in this lesson.

4. Mimic the Speech of Jesus

Isaiah 50:4 “The Lord GOD hath given me the tongue of the learned, that I should know how to speak a word in season to him that is weary: he wakeneth morning by morning, he wakeneth mine ear to hear as the learned.”

If one seems to come short of all other attempts to use productive and positive speech patterns, all you have to do is look at Jesus and see what He did and how He communicated to those He came into contact with.

If one is going to learn how to use the tongue healthily, the best example is that of our Lord Jesus Christ.  Jesus had all the right words at the right time.  He knew how to speak compassion when it was needed most.  He knew how to speak conviction in truth without berating another.  And Jesus knew how to speak life.

Jumping out of the New Testament and going back to the old, there we see the prophesied Servant, whom we know to be the Messiah, our Lord Jesus Christ, and in Isaiah 50:4, He talks about the words He uses and the way He uses them to speak.  There He says, “The Lord GOD hath given me the tongue of the learned, that I should know how to speak a word in season to him that is weary…” 

It amazes me how many people think they have something to offer and are quick to verbalize those very thoughts and ideas.  Never do we see Jesus in the Bible using words in a frivolous or lackadaisical manner.  We have already expressed the preciousness of words and how they are used, and Jesus, just as His Father, knew the value of words and used them as such.

Jesus’ heart was always, and I do mean always, to do the will of the Father (John 6:38).  In everything, right down to going to the cross, God’s will was His number one priority (Luke 22:42).  With the will of God governing His whole life and ministry, even the words He spoke had to be what “The Lord GOD hath given me.” 

In Isaiah, that which was given is described as “the tongue of the learned”; as one who had been taught by God what to say and how to say it.  You can speak something true, but how the message is delivered can affect how one receives it or not.

In John 12:50, Jesus said, “For I have not spoken of myself; but the Father which sent me, he gave me a commandment, what I should say, and what I should speak.  And I know that his commandment is life everlasting: whatsoever I speak therefore, even as the Father said unto me, so I speak.”

Jesus never used words in a fly-away fashion.  With everything He spoke, it was either with a purpose, for a purpose, or to fulfill a purpose – or all three in one.

When we think of “with a purpose”, we can think along the lines of healing, miracles, and deliverances.  Jesus, in those instances, spoke with the intent to deliver an individual from some illness, spiritual oppression, or to perform a miracle such as the feeding of the five thousand.

When we think in terms of “for a purpose”, we can think along the lines of the parables He taught.  In those instances, He spoke for His audience to gain a greater understanding of something, particularly Kingdom principles.

And, when we think in terms of Jesus speaking to “fulfill a purpose”, we can easily associate this with prophecies such as the one He spoke from the cross: “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46).  Those exact words open the Messianic psalm found in Psalm 22:1.

By the way, the verses quoted above in John 12:49, 50 could also be looked at in a fulfilling fashion because they fulfilled our verse of study in Isaiah 50:4 regarding the use of His speech.

Jesus used His words with exactness and preciseness.  Back in Isaiah, we see His words were carefully chosen “that I should know how to speak a word in season to him that is weary.”  The right words at the right time, especially for the weary worn, are a special kind of sweetness to a soul that dreadfully needs it.  Proverbs 16:24 says, “Pleasant words are as an honeycomb, sweet to the soul, and health to the bones,” and nobody could do this better than the Lord Jesus Christ.  He said, “…the word that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life,” (John 6:63).

Then, in Isaiah, He goes on to explain, “he wakeneth morning by morning, he wakeneth mine ear to hear as the learned.”  It was a daily thing for Jesus to have His ear tuned into the Father’s mouth, to hear what He has to say and express the very words He “learned.” 

In concluding this lesson, this last section may seem overwhelming in learning to speak like Jesus in this manner.  But, if we take everything into consideration and then look at what James taught earlier in his book: “Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath:” (James 1:19), following this, may help us to learn to have an ear as the Servant (Jesus), and be able to speak with words of grace (Ephesians 4:29).

Our words are powerful!  As this lesson shows, they can be used to hurt or to heal; to edify or to tear down.  James wants us to choose life with the words that we speak.  He wants us to take the high road and control of what is coming out of our mouths.  If we need help, we can pray the prayer of the psalmist and say, “Set a watch, O LORD, before my mouth; keep the door of my lips” (Ps. 141:3).

What we say and how we talk to one another really does matter.  It is all about how we use our words and to learn daily to use them better.

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 and other ideas available.): Sunday School Lesson – 4 Ways to Use Words Better

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Speaking Collage Craft: This craft is perfect if you have old newspaper comics strips laying around.  Just cut them out and glue onto construction paper to make a collage of many different ones together (I prefer the ones with word balloons on them to demonstrate speaking).  In the middle, attach our cut-out picture verse printable for James 3:10 declaring, “Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be”  found here.

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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 – “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

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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

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