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

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

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

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

Scoffers May Disbelieve

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

…But God is Not Slack

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

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

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

“For the Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness.”  God is not an unreliable resource to depend upon like man.  Many get confused along the way because they attribute man’s faulty characteristics to the holy and perfect God.  When someone promises something but takes a long time fulfilling it, we tend to lose faith in that individual.  But God cannot be counted in the same category as man.  His not moving right now is not due to “slackness” or an inability to perform.  Habakkuk tells us, “For the vision is yet for an appointed time, but at the end it shall speak, and not lie: though it tarry, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry,” (2:3).  Shortly after that in the next verse, he says, “The just shall live by his faith,” (2:4b).  Every word of God for good or for bad, for happy or for sad, for those who believe or for those who don’t believe will come to pass!

For right now He is withholding His hand of final judgment so that as many people as possible can be saved.  For everyone out there, there is hope for salvation if they will just turn to Him and repent and be saved.  They don’t have to go out like that when God is waiting for them right now, right this moment.

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

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

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

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

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

Therefore, How We Live Matters

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Suggested Activities:

For a cute coloring page, go to SandwichINK

Object Lesson from Ministry-To-Children

Games and Activities that teach patience from MeaningfulMama

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

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

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

Draw the Scene: The Patience of God Draw the Scene

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

God is Love

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Love Like God Loves

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Object Lesson Ideas:

“How Much Are We Worth?”

“He Loves Me… He Loves Me Not”

“God’s Love Letter”

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

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

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

Memory Verse: The Love of God Memory Verse

Draw the Scene: The Love of God Draw the Scene

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

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

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

Additional Activities/Resources/Links:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Three Bible Stories that Teach About Love”

 

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

Above Photo: Pixabay/paulbr75

 

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

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

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

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

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

Words Without Power

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

God All-Powerful

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Draw the Scene: The Power of God Draw the Scene

Memory Verse: The Power of God Memory Verse

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

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

Blank Journal Pages: 2 Journal Pages

Earth Mobile Craft: Earth Mobile Craft

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

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

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