“Sitting Around Won’t Win the Battle!”

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“The soul of the sluggard desireth, and hath nothing: but the soul of the diligent shall be made fat,” Proverbs 13:4

 All of us have goals and dreams, or at least, we should.  All of us “desire” things we would like to see accomplished in our lives.  But, desire can only get you so far.  There has to be a proactive approach in order for one to see the fulfillment of these aspirations come to pass.

I love the Bible because it gives us so many true to life examples of these valued lessons.  For instance, in 2 Chronicles 20, Jehoshaphat and his people were getting ready to be attacked.  The enemy had come against them and “Judah gathered themselves together, to ask help of the Lord,” (vs. 4).

I want you to look at this picture Scripture represents.  It’s one of great sadness.  In verse 13, it describes “All Judah stood before the Lord, with their little ones, their wives, and their children.”  It’s as if they were saying, “If not for us, Lord; then please remember our wives and children.”  Awwww!!!

God’s response was, “Be not afraid nor dismayed by reason of this great multitude; for the battle is not yours, but God’s,” (vs. 15).

“That’s what I’m talking about!  We don’t have to fight!  Woo-hoo!  Let’s go home and watch some TV!”

I’m playing.  We all know they didn’t have TV, but what they probably had was a sense of relief that they didn’t need to proactively do anything to win the battle.  Time to hit the couch!

Wrong!

While God did declare the battle was His, He has never been the promoter of laziness.  Too many people want the victory without ever really doing anything.  Too many people want to reach the next level without ever having to walk up the stairs to get there.

It’s too much work!  Too many people get in prayer lines and the like; want God to do everything without themselves ever putting a hand to the plow to till something up.

God works in miraculous ways.  God is a prayer answering God.  Jehoshaphat and his people will find both of these to be true.  He’s going to work a miracle and they are going to get a tremendous answer to their prayer.  But, God has something that He wants them to do.  He said, “To morrow go ye down against them . . . ye shall find them,” (vs. 16).

GULP!

Then God reiterates, “Ye shall not need to fight in this battle,” (vs. 17).

Yeah!

Then, He proceeded to tell them, “set yourselves, stand ye still, and see the salvation of the Lord with you… go out against them…,” (vs. 17).

Hold up!  Wait a minute!  If the battle belongs to God, I don’t understand why I have to go down there and set myself up like I am sure enough going to fight these people.  Huh?

Because God said so.  That’s why many of us lose out.  We want to sit on the couch instead of getting up and following the instructions He gives.  The “sluggard” wants the glory without the work.

In opposite of that, he that is diligent pushes forth to follow through.  Sometimes it’s a hard thing to do.  These people were put in the terrifying position to get in battle formation before the enemy; in front of people who were ready to annihilate them.  Gulp is right!

Yet, they maintained their ground believing God’s promise.  Verses 18-22a tell of the people actively praising God.  Then, the tables turned on the enemies, (vs. 22b).  “Every one helped to destroy another,” (vs. 23), and “none escaped,” (vs. 24).

The result they received was due to their diligence to follow through with the Lord’s instructions.  “Jehoshaphat and his people came to take  away the spoil of them, they found among them in abundance both riches with the dead bodies, and precious jewels, which they stripped off for themselves, more than they could carry away: and they were three days gathering the spoil, it was so much,” (vs. 25).

You may not have to go fight an enemy but you have a goal to reach that will only come by diligence and obedience to God.  I’m not promising you riches, but know this; any time you are diligent to work with God you will see success at the end.

Seek the Lord, He will help you to receive that “expectant end” Jeremiah speaks of, Jeremiah 29:11.  Then, we can rejoice like Jehoshaphat because we saw the fruition of hard work pay off.

“The soul of the diligent shall be made fat.”

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“My Promise is Coming!”

“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,” Habakkuk 2:3, KJV

I’m excited!!!! It’s coming!!!! It can’t hold off too much longer!!! It’s almost here!!!

I see something that has me positively giddy.  BUDS!!!  That’s right, tree buds!  Oh, does it get me worked up.  When I see those pretty little things start to form on the end of barren tree branches it sets my soul soaring because I know spring has sprung.  The season has come.  It couldn’t hold off forever no matter how dim and dismal the weather may seem right now.

This anticipation is much like our spiritual lives.  We know the promises of God.  We read them daily in His Word.  We have rehearsed some of them.  Bound them in our hearts.  Hold with a death grip on them.  Yet, they are not here at this moment.  But, it’s coming!

Often times the branches of hope in our lives can seem so barren as if no fruit or leaves will ever produce on them again; dry and lifeless things just blowing in the wind.  But, it can’t stay like that forever.  There is hope on the horizon that the promise of new life and productivity will once again blossom for you and me, bringing to pass the vision that God has for you in your life.

The Bible tells us, “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven,” (Ecclesiastes 3:1).  We don’t know why we often seem to be in a holding pattern but we can be assured that during the process God is working out His purpose in the midst of it all.

“Though it tarry, wait for it; because it will surely come!”  When God appoints the process to be done and the vision plan to initiate, it CAN NOT hold off.  It has to COME!  I know, I know!  It’s the waiting part that’s hard – tell me about it!  But as a mother carrying a child, the vision has to be birthed when the term is up.  It can’t stay in that holding pattern for long.  It has to come forth.  It’s coming!

Do you want to know something else?  One day I heard the birds chirping.  A sure sign that Spring has arrived.  Pretty soon I’ll be planting flowers and such but right now I’m giddy over the fact of the potential for what’s on the way.  It’s coming!

What are you waiting for today?  The Bible says, “No good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly,” Psalm 84:11.  God is not our magic genie but He is a promise keeper.  “Know therefore that the LORD thy God, he is God, the faithful God, which keepeth covenant and mercy with them that love him and keep his commandments to a thousand generations,” Deuteronomy 7:9.  If it’s in His will and we are doing what we are supposed to be doing – It’s Coming!

We have a hope to hold on to today.  Though we may not see it at this moment, the signs are around us.  My promise is coming!  “It will surely come and will not tarry!”  Don’t Give Up!

SAY TO YOURSELF, “MY PROMISE IS COMING!”

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Sunday School Lesson – “Zacchaeus Meets Jesus” Luke 19:1-10

VERSE DISCOVERY: Luke 19:1-10 (KJV, Public Domain)

Can wealth make you happy?  Many people seem to think so.  They pursue it as if this will be the answer to all their troubles.  While money in and of itself isn’t bad, one’s attitude toward it can be.  If it becomes the main focus of life and is managing you more than you are managing it, then it’s a possibility that there’s a problem.

The fact is many people every day look at money, prestige, titles and the like as a gold access card to carry them through life; depending on it to be there to fill every need imaginable.  For some, it may not be money rather it may be certain people and vices that have this hold on them.  But, when the truth of it all boils down to nothing, often the pursuer of such things still find they have an unanswered void that remains in their life.

Material things and people can only take you so far in life.  Not until we meet Jesus face to face; not until we see Him for who He is in our own lives and depend on Him for salvation and to fill that void, do we find the peace and rest that our souls so desire.

Zacchaeus was such a man in today’s lesson.  He had money.  He had a title.  But his life was not all that it cracked up to be.  On the outside, it may appear that he had everything going for him.  But, on the inside, there was something still missing; something that drew him to want to be where Jesus was on that day of their meeting.

No matter how bad a sinner someone is considered to be, or the negative way people view them when they meet Jesus with a surrendered heart, their life can be changed.

Lesson Summary

Luke 19:1-4 “And Jesus entered and passed through Jericho. And, behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus, which was the chief among the publicans, and he was rich. And he sought to see Jesus who he was; and could not for the press, because he was little of stature. And he ran before, and climbed up into a sycomore tree to see him: for he was to pass that way.”

Being a “publican” (tax collector) is a title that left an awful aftertaste in the mouth of the ancient Jewish people.  Due to their role in extorting monies from their fellow countrymen and working side by side with the occupying forces of the enemy Romans, this made them especially despised in the eyes of their own people.  And, he who would dare to be considered “chief” among these could be looked on possibly as a chief sinner as well.  His sins against his people were even greater considering he most likely came to that position through bidding with the enemy for the right to tax his own people and to hold back monies for himself adding to his “rich” status.

Yet, it is the same man such as the one described above who hears of Jesus coming to town and wants to get a better view of Him.  The Bible doesn’t specify his cause for wanting to be near to Jesus when He comes, but the fact that he went through great lengths to gain a bird’s eye view is nothing to sneeze at.  Something (as we say, but know it had to have been the Lord), was working on the inside to draw this man closer to where the Savior would be for a divinely appointed encounter that would change his life forever.

“He sought to see Jesus who he was.”  At this point in His ministry, Jesus is coming to the end of His course on this earth.  By now many people in many cities have seen or at the very least heard of this man who teaches with such power and authority; a man who raises the dead and opens the eyes of the blind and the ears of the deaf.  Some identified Him as a man who restores the lepers to a whole state and frees people from spiritual bondage.  Some thought of Him as John the Baptist come back to life or Elijah or one of the prophets (see Mark 8:28).  Very few saw Him for who He really was – the “Christ,” the Son of God (see Mark 8:29), who came with a divine mission to save mankind from his sins.

With such a reputation preceding Him it is not surprising that when He comes to town people want to clamor to at least get a glimpse of Him to see “who he was,” even this publican.  Was it mere curiosity or was there something more going on in the heart of Zacchaeus?  We may never know what started his pursuit to be near Jesus, but we are sure told how the story ends – and that, my friends, is the best and most important part of it all.

With the crowds forming Zacchaeus’ size posed a problem in his desire to see Jesus better.  It is recorded that he was “little of stature,” meaning he was shorter than the average males present there.  We are not told exactly how tall he was, but it had to have been significant to point out as a hindrance to see Jesus.

With that, “he ran before, and climbed up into a sycomore tree to see him: for he was to pass that way.”  Although I am a girl, climbing trees used to be one of my favorite things to do as a child.  I mean, literally, almost every day we were climbing trees.  We would pretend this tree was my house and that one was yours and so on.  Oh, for the imagination of youth…

Yet, it was not imagination that drove Zacchaeus, but a real-life desire.  Determined to not let anyone or anything get in his way, in the most undignified fashion imaginable for a grown man who had the status of “chief publican”, he acted as a school-aged boy and climbed a tree just to see Jesus.

What lengths do we go through to be near Jesus?  Our western culture offers us opportunities that others may not be privileged to, and yet how do we use our unrestricted access of the Lord?  Perhaps if we were forced into hiding just to worship, we would understand the simple desire to climb a tree to see Jesus.

A clear vision of Jesus, no matter where we find ourselves in life, is imperative to our Christian faith.  It requires determination and commitment to be where He is.  The question is, “How bad do you want Him?”

Zacchaeus didn’t know Jesus personally, yet, but from what he heard he, a sinner, had a made-up mind to find out more, even if it meant suffering the scoffing of others.  Not caring what they thought, he mounted the “sycomore tree” branches that went out some, giving him the perfect place to perch himself for a better vantage point to see Jesus.

Luke 19:5-6 “And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up, and saw him, and said unto him, Zacchaeus, make haste, and come down; for to day I must abide at thy house.  And he made haste, and came down, and received him joyfully.”

Jesus has always had an amazing focus for people.  He had a perspective of souls that others couldn’t possibly see on the outside.  When they looked at Zacchaeus all they saw was his sins and with condemning attitudes brushed him off as not being worthy of their time.  After all, he consorted with the enemy, so why should they.

Thankfully, Jesus doesn’t see him or us that way.  Outward markers that try to identify us are not what He’s most concerned with.  I have always said that He is more interested in what goes on inside.  Jesus pays attention to the needs of the inner man that the whole man might be saved.  Inside every real person is a real soul that needs to be filled by the Lord Jesus Christ.

What would it have been like to be the most unwelcome guest at the party, but the honoree comes along to point you out and elevate you above all others in attendance?  Sweet!   This is something akin to the way I believe Zacchaeus must have felt when, despite the crowds of “worthy” people in the press, Jesus centered on him alone, saying, “Zacchaeus, make haste, and come down; for to day I must abide at thy house.”

I love this because it really personifies what Jesus taught when He told the parable of the lost sheep saying, “What man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it?” (Luke 15:4).  This was a picture of Jesus caring enough about each individual to go after that one soul.  Make no mistake about it, Jesus cares about you personally.

It was simply unheard of for a rabbi or a holy man to go to the house of a sinner such as him.  Being the Savior that He was, Jesus often ruffled the feathers of other’s opinions in a desire to draw people closer to Himself.  This was not the first time His actions upended other’s views.  Earlier, explaining His choice to eat with sinners, Jesus taught, “They that are whole need not a physician; but they that are sick,” (Luke 5:31).  Jesus was not, and has never, and never will entertain sin.  Please get that right.  However, Jesus knows that people from all manner of life need a Savior regardless of how the rest of the world views them.

Sticking to His guns, as we would dub it modern terminology, Jesus invites Himself to Zacchaeus’ house.  Zacchaeus surely knows how people viewed him.  He probably would have never thought to ask Jesus to come but Jesus has opened the door and called to him out of the crowds.  Quickly he came down from that tree and “received him joyfully.”

He had something to be happy about.  Jesus chose to be with him out of everyone else.  The world had written him off as a no good, no good.  But, not Jesus.  There’s a phrase that most are familiar with called “carpe diem,” which many interpret as “seize the day.”  It means don’t let this moment go by.  Take hold of what is presented before you before it slips through your fingers.  It may never come around again.  He must take a step of faith now.

Zacchaeus saw Jesus before him.  Zacchaeus received Jesus’ beckoning to allow Him to come to his house.  There are a lot of spiritual underlying references here.  The Bible tells us to “Seek ye the LORD while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near,” (Isaiah 55:6).  The time is now.  The day is at hand.  For anyone who wants to be saved, tomorrow is not promised.  When Jesus knocks at the door of your heart, right now is the time to open it and let Him in; to receive Him joyfully.

The Bible also lets us know, “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name,” (John 1:12).  What would have happened if Zacchaeus would have denied Jesus’ request?  Little did he know that Jesus was making His way closer to the cross to be sacrificed for the sins of all mankind past, present, and future.  Jesus would not come through here again.  This was the time to receive Him.  It was not going to come around once more.  He would have missed out on the best life-altering experience there is.  Don’t let it be said too late.

Luke 19:7 “And when they saw it, they all murmured, saying, That he was gone to be guest with a man that is a sinner.”

The others in the crowd complained when they saw the interaction between Jesus and Zacchaeus.  It is amazing, that despite the grace of God in each individual life, how we can get selfish and nick pick when God wants to do something for someone else.

People talk about what they don’t understand.  God said in Isaiah, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD,” (55:8).  They couldn’t understand why Jesus would want to even talk to the likes of this tax collector, better yet, why He would want to go to his house.  They couldn’t understand that Jesus looks beyond what people are right now and sees what they can become.  They couldn’t comprehend that love, grace, and mercy were at work there that day and every day to any and all who would receive Him joyfully. He might be classified as a “sinner” right now, but before this event is over with, he shall be called a child of God.

Luke 19:8-10 “And Zacchaeus stood, and said unto the Lord; Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have taken any thing from any man by false accusation, I restore him fourfold. And Jesus said unto him, This day is salvation come to this house, forsomuch as he also is a son of Abraham. For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.”

A changed heart is reflected by changed actions.  What people witness in your life will resound more than the words that are coming out of your mouth.  Something remarkable transpired there that day between Zacchaeus and Jesus.  We don’t know exactly what, but at the end of the day, Zacchaeus was a new man.  The art of greed and getting over on people to make a quick buck were no longer his priorities.  His priority now was living right before the Lord.  And with that, he seeks to pay back some of the wrongs he has committed toward his fellow man.

He offers, of his own accord, to give half of his goods to the poor.  This was not something that was required but wholly testifies to the new nature his heart has undergone.  You can never be saved by your works, but faith without works is dead (James 2:17,20,26).  What has transpired on the inside should be made manifest on the outside.

For this man, who gained his wealth by stealing and extortion, sought means along those same lines to recompense his wrongdoings.  Therefore, anything he had taken from any person through the means of “false accusation” Zacchaeus promised to “restore him fourfold.”  He was ready, and his heart was in proper position, to go above and beyond what was necessary to work to undo some of the wrongs he had done.  

Jesus, the true teller of a true heart transformation proclaims, “This day is salvation come to this house, forsomuch as he also is a son of Abraham.”  True repentance is an inside job.  Faith is personal and Jesus knew, not from his giving, but because He is the only one who can see where man can’t, that this man is a new creature with a new nature.  Jesus knows this man is fit for salvation, and as Zacchaeus received Him with joy into his home, Jesus gladly welcomes this repentant man into the family of faith.

Isaiah tells us, “Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon,” (55:7).  And, this is what we see play out in Zacchaeus’ story.

God has from the beginning always sought the side of pardon.  Man has often gone in the opposite direction.  But, when one wants to make that spiritual U-turn in life and gets back on the right path where He is, God does not reject him.  God is “not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance,” (2 Peter 3:9).  And, “He that believeth on him is not condemned,” (John 3:18).

The murmurers and complainers had condemned him already, but Jesus saw more.  He was still a child of promise, the seed of Abraham (compare to those of us who are now in Christ, who through faith are now the seed of Abraham as well – see Galatians 3:7,16,26), just as they were, and if he was truly repentant, he deserved another chance. Earlier Jesus taught, “But go ye and learn what that meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice: for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance,” (Matthew 9:13; compare to Paul’s personal testimony in 1 Tim. 1:15).  And, judging by Zacchaeus’ outcome, I’d say, MISSION ACCOMPLISHED.

Changed hearts and changed lives are what Jesus’ ministry is all about.  He didn’t wash His hands of him and consider him out of the game.  Rather, He sought for that lost soul, stating, “For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.” 

Jesus’ life was marked with the undeniable cause to save men from their sins; to redeem a people unto God.  The ministry that He operated in would heal; bring peace and deliverance, eventually fulfilling all through His ultimate sacrifice on the cross.  “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; see also 1 John 4:14).

Conclusion

Revelation 3:20 says, “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.”  Zacchaeus joyfully received Jesus with faith.  Will you?

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 – Zacchaeus Meets Jesus

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“Again!”

 

God can do it again!

God can restore again!

God can touch your land again!

God can cause fruit to grow in your life again!

God can turn your captivity into prosperity again!

God can do it for you even when it seems all hope is lost again!

Our God specializes in restoration, healing relationships with Him again!

He majors in turning the ashes of our lives into something beautiful again!

Turn to God because He can do it for you again!

“For thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; Houses and fields and vineyards shall be possessed again in this land.” (Jeremiah 32:15)

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Sunday School Lesson – “Instructions on Humility” Luke 14:4-14

Photo: Pixabay/Lumapoche

VERSE DISCOVERY: Luke 14:7-14 (KJV, Public Domain)

Have you ever been around that one person in the crowd that always needs to be heard?  They stand amid a circle of onlookers boasting about all the what’s going to be.  They are people with a lot of talk and little action, when, actions really do speak louder than words.

Jesus was the epitome of humbleness and humility.   Philippians 2:7 says, “But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men.”  The King of all kings stepped down from His throne in heaven and stooped down to the rags of earth and put on humanity.  The King who could’ve demanded all demanded nothing.

In John 13:15 He told them, “For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you.”  Though that was written after the washing of the disciples’ feet the same principle of humility and how one lives their life applies here.

Prominence is not a new and now thing.  Wanting to be seen and noticed by others is something that mankind has before and continues to struggle with today.  Jesus instructs us on how to seek the humble road to walk and let God exalt us in due time.

Humility Does Not Exalt Itself

Luke 14:7 “And he put forth a parable to those which were bidden, when he marked how they chose out the chief rooms; saying unto them,”

“I only want the best for my…” you fill in the rest.  It’s something I’m sure we have all said at one point or another.  The best is a symbol of status.  It is thought of to be in a more favorable condition than another.  The best for the purpose of showing off was not something Jesus supported, but for those who attended these events, they fervently sought for it.

“He marked how they chose out the chief rooms.”  Jesus pays attention to the dealings of man.  He has a very astute eye for detail.  Attending the weddings and/or events He observed how people clamored for the best; “the chief rooms.”  Many may not see a problem with wanting choice seating but let me unwrap it a bit and show you this in another perspective.

Imagine a concert with people fighting and pushing their way to get as close to the front as possible.  Not caring for others, they would trample and step over others to get to that prominent place.  Or, let me pick with some other folk.  Imagine… are you ready for it… BLACK FRIDAY SHOPPING!  Enough said.

Seeking after these chief rooms was seeking after the world’s symbol of being lifted above another.  The attitudes represented didn’t give thought or care to their human counterparts.  Getting to that prominent position is all that mattered.

Luke 14:8-9 “When thou art bidden of any man to a wedding, sit not down in the highest room; lest a more honourable man than thou be bidden of him; And he that bade thee and him come and say to thee, Give this man place; and thou begin with shame to take the lowest room.”

It’s the “not’s” of life that people don’t want to hear about.  But Jesus, with His wise perspective, instructs the people to live opposite of their natural inclinations.  Naturally, people seek the higher, the better.  True humility doesn’t vie for the best for oneself; it vies for the best for others.

One teaching I have always heard and still remember to this day is that none of us are the end all to everything.  What that means is that God can raise up someone off the streets or wherever to take anybody’s place and fulfill a ministry, calling, etc. if one is unwilling to do so on their part.  There is always someone who can take over the place where we fight to sit or someone in the wings whom others may view as more important.  Therefore, to vie for the temporary of our own accord means that we will not have the strength in and of ourselves to retain that so-called “seat of honor” if the one who bids decides that we can be swapped out and made to move and give room to another.

Jesus’ advice was not to put oneself in that situation where instead of the honor they fought of themselves to obtain, they actually have come to know shame by being made to move.  This reminds me of the naughty dog who walks away with his tail tucked between his legs; ashamed and put out.  Jesus was trying to help Christians save themselves from shame through the fruit of humility.  In our success-driven generation more of this fruit needs to be eaten more often, and with careful regard.  The thrill to seek the “high” will quickly be overtaken when one is forced to take the “lowest.”

Luke 14:10 “But when thou art bidden, go and sit down in the lowest room; that when he that bade thee cometh, he may say unto thee, Friend, go up higher: then shalt thou have worship in the presence of them that sit at meat with thee.”

The way to up is down.  How backward that is to the thinking of many today?  But how glorious it is that when one is in the “lowest” to have another come and place him in the “higher.”  This is how things work in God’s economy.  Notice in the Bible, it is the lowliest of people that are entrusted with the greatest honor.

People will take notice of the one who is lifted.  “Then shalt thou have worship in the presence of them that sit at meat with thee.”  Notice the opposites of God’s economy.  Those that seek to be noticed in the “presence” of people are the same ones that can be overlooked or even made to move lower.  Yet, at the same time, those who are not worried about self-glorification and such are the ones who are now noticed in the “presence” of all.  “Put not forth thyself in the presence of the king, and stand not in the place of great men: For better it is that it be said unto thee, Come up hither; than that thou shouldest be put lower in the presence of the prince whom thine eyes have seen,” (Proverbs 25:6-7).  Choose what Proverbs calls the “better!”

A good biblical representation of this is the story of Joseph.   He was forced into servitude yet through it all he kept his cool and let God work in him where he was be it the pit, Potiphar’s house, or the prison.  God moved him “higher” in each circumstance until eventually, Pharaoh declared, “Thou shalt be over my house, and according unto thy word shall all my people be ruled: only in the throne will I be greater than thou,” (Genesis 41:40).  Now, Joseph was honored or “worshipped” as second in command of Egypt.  He didn’t exalt or seek the higher for himself; God was responsible for bidding him to come “higher.”

Luke 14:11 “For whosoever exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.”

Through stories of parable or through a direct command of the Word, Jesus is making His point: if one decides to lift themselves up God can and will bring him/her down!

Obadiah 3-4 says, “The pride of thine heart hath deceived thee, thou that dwellest in the clefts of the rock, whose habitation is high; that saith in his heart, Who shall bring me down to the ground? Though thou exalt thyself as the eagle, and though thou set thy nest among the stars, thence will I bring thee down, saith the LORD” (emphasis mine).  Arrogance and self-exaltation are deceptive.  It is a lie that will fade as fast as any fake substance that tries to stand before a very real God.  That’s God’s economy!

When one seeks to exalt themselves not only is it prideful, something that God is dreadfully against, but it shows that one trusts in themselves over God’s sovereignty.  “Whosoever” means absolutely anybody! There are no exceptions.  Nobody is exempt.  Any who would seek to lift himself will be “abased;” God will put them down.  But, for those that are humble God shows special favor.  “For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones,” (Isaiah 57:17).  These are revived.  These are exalted.

Humility Treats Others Fairly

Luke 14:12-13 “Then said he also to him that bade him, When thou makest a dinner or a supper, call not thy friends, nor thy brethren, neither thy kinsmen, nor thy rich neighbours; lest they also bid thee again, and a recompence be made thee.  But when thou makest a feast call the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind:”

Instructions for humility also include how we treat others.  One who is prideful and operates for self-advancement will put on a show for those who can help them reach their goal.  Shaking the right hands and scratching the right backs can lift one in certain social circles.  It propels them further up the ladder of success.

Humility, as what Jesus was teaching, operates with compassion and is based on love.  Love that wants to see others treated fairly.  Love that is not concerned with who approves of the guest list.  Love that sees people for who they are and not the badges of afflictions such as maimed, lame and blind; and not for the labels of being “poor.”  These people, despite how society looks on them, are to be welcomed to come to the feast!

Are we not a people who will experience the same benefits that Jesus is teaching in this parable?  Revelation 19:9 says, “…Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb…” Were we not the unloved?  Were we not the ones maimed by sin and the degradation of this world?  Were we not the ones who bore afflictions and were outcast yet when He saved us we became “blessed?”  We have received our open invitation to the “marriage supper of the Lamb” which we could never have been counted worthy of or repay.  Jesus is saying for His people to start practicing what He already was going to do for all those who are “called.”

Luke 14:14 “And thou shalt be blessed; for they cannot recompence thee: for thou shalt be recompensed at the resurrection of the just.”

If you will allow me to paraphrase, Jesus was saying, “They can’t repay you, but I can!”  Isn’t that exciting?  “Thou shalt be blessed!”  The Bible declares, “Evil pursueth sinners: but to the righteous good shall be repayed,” (Proverbs 13:21).  Too many are worried about the idea of losing out.  They allow thoughts of being shortened by someone or not receiving a return for their supposed good that they do.  But our God is faithful, and He is the one that will reward!

“Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ,” (Colossians 3:24).  When one loves people enough to invite those whom to others seem unworthy, they are showing that they are true servants of Christ because this is what Christ did for all.  And, because they “serve the Lord Christ” they “shall receive the reward of the inheritance.”

If you have ever read The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom, you know that the Ten Boom family was a family that was used to opening their home out of their meager means to feed any who knocked on the door – people who could not repay them for their kindness.  Then, during the German occupation, they rescued, saved, and cared for countless Jews while they themselves suffered loss.  God does not soon forget such kindness toward one of His own.  On this earth, it may have appeared that this family lost all, when, in actuality, they have their reward that will be “recompensed at the resurrection of the just.”  In humility, they were just happy to be servants of Christ that could reach out and help others.  They were never worried about a here and now reward.  They just wanted to help any way they could. That’s compassion.  That’s the love of Christ in operation, which to me, is the meaning of true humility.

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 – Instructions on Humility

Suggested Activities:

Draw the Scene: Instructions on Humility Draw the Scene

 

Word Search: Instructions on Humility Word Search Answers: Instructions on Humility Word Search Answers

Crossword: Instructions on Humility Crossword Answers: Instructions on Humility Crossword Answers

Word Scramble: Instructions on Humility Word Scramble Answers: Instructions on Humility Word Scramble Answers

Adult Journal Page: Adult Journal Page – Luke 14:11

Kid’s Journal Page – Kid’s Journal Page – Jesus Teaches Us to be Humble

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

“A Tale of Two Prayers” (Great lesson ideas and object lesson.  It has balloons so you know students will enjoy this one.  Enjoy!)

“The Tortoise and the Hare” (This old story with coloring sheet is a great example of humility.  Enjoy!)

“Donkey Paper Bag Craft”

“Activities for Kids on Humility”

“Humility Bible Lessons for Kids”

“Boastful or Humble” (Printable activity page that will help kids evaluate what is humble.)

“Pride vs. Humility” (Different lesson but can easily be applied to this one.  After all, when you have boxing gloves involved it becomes a whole new way of illustrating such an important truth.  Enjoy!)

 

“Learning to Let Go!”

Learning to let go

 

Once, I took a much-needed vacation with family and friends.  I haven’t had a real one in years.  Every part of me, inside and out, needed a break from schedules, routines, and the normal day-to-day.

During this vacation, I was privileged to do and experience things I haven’t before.  Two of the things especially of note were the zip lines and the quick jump.  Both required jumping from the top of a high platform or rock wall and both really stretched me out of my comfort zone.

Don’t get me wrong; zip lining was a blast, but in order to get down off the landing platform I was attached to a sort of supportive rope that would grab you and lower you gently as you made your descent.  In order to activate the rope, the instructor told me to just step off.

Huh?!

Watching others from the ground it didn’t seem that big of a deal but standing on the platform for yourself was a whole other story. It was higher than it appeared and I am not too fond of heights, to begin with.  Standing there looking down the instructor repeated her directions: just step off or jump.

Just step off or jump …???

With my eyes, I saw the rope catch and lower each person that used it.  It never failed to do its job.  But, my body had trouble taking that leap of faith.  All I simply had to do was let go and depend on the equipment to do its job.

A lot of times we face difficulties and challenges in life, things that stretch us way out of where we are used to being.  Then, we are asked to trust God; to just step out and depend on Him as our unfailing equipment.  Often our response is the same as mine standing atop that platform.

Huh?!

The mind knows all the promises of God.  The heart has digested His Word and has been filled with His Spirit, yet to just step out and let go  . . .

It’s a lot harder than we first imagined.  To let oneself freefall into trust where you have absolutely no control but to lean on Him takes courage.

But, this is the kind of courage and trust that makes our heavenly Father’s heart swell.  Knowing that our confidence is so strongly planted in Him, we just hold on and depend on Him to take us down from those high platforms of life – well, let’s just say, that’s all He ever asks from us is to lean and depend on Him.

Every challenging story in the Bible and every hero in the great hall of faith (Hebrews 11), each one started with that one-step-of-faith moment; one learning-to-let-go experience, trusting wholly in God for the end results.

Are you facing a challenge today?  Are you being stretched beyond your comfort zone?  Do you have goals that seem too big for you to accomplish by yourself?

You don’t have to do it alone.  Let go, and let God.  See where the end results will be in Him.

As far as those high platforms for the zip line and quick jump, I eventually sat down and scooted off.  No flash or show.  The rope was activated and did its job.  The point is I did it, in my own way, and let go.

Step off and let God’s power be activated in your life today.

“God Wanted More!”

Photo: Pixabay/geralt

When we think of the vastness of God’s power stretching from history to history, and eternity to eternity it can leave one with an awe-inspired feeling.  As I read through the Word I am always left in amazement the strategy and planning God did to bring certain events into place, including our salvation.

When God first called Abraham out to establish a people for Himself through him, God did not rest in the satisfaction of just having one people or nation as His.  He wanted it all.  He wanted the world.

Isaiah 49:6 tells us, “It is a light thing that thou shouldest be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved of Israel: I will also give thee for a light to the Gentiles, that thou mayest be my salvation unto the end of the earth.”  Instead of the words “light thing,” the New King James Version says, “It is too small a thing” which means the same thing but shows us a deeper level of God’s plan and His heart.  It wasn’t enough for God to be content with the Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ, to touch and affect the lives of a single race or family.  God wanted more!

God’s thinking for salvation was too big in scope and depth for His heart to settle for reaping the souls of just a single kindred or nationality of folk.  As far as His love (which can never be measured by human standards) reaches – that’s how far He wants to grab a hold of people and love them as His own.  He couldn’t rest with just saving some, but He wanted the sum of humanity to have a chance to experience this awesome deliverance.

God always wanted more.  His intention was that all the families of the earth be exposed to this offer of salvation (see Genesis 12:1-3).  I don’t know about you but I’m glad God wasn’t satisfied with “some.”  In His high degree of love for people, His thinking was bigger.  Because of that, everyone has the opportunity to be in the “sum” of the saved; to be a part of that heavenly number if they will answer His call.

You, my friends, are the “more” that God has always wanted.  You were always in God’s plan.  You were always on God’s mind from the beginning.  You have always mattered to God and He wants you in that heavenly number.

Sunday School Lesson – “Jesus: the Great High Priest” Hebrews 4:14-5:10

Photo: Pixabay/geralt

VERSE DISCOVERY: Hebrews 4:14-5:10 (KJV, Public Domain)

If one allows something to occupy space and time in their lives and in their hearts, it shouldn’t be mediocre or average; rather, it should be great.  Jesus Christ is not only the greatest person in life, but He is the greatest inspiration whereby one should base their faith.  Great always outranks all others.

For every reason, way of thinking, or possibility one would think to leave their faith in Jesus for and return to the old order of things, the writer of Hebrews continues to show that Jesus Christ is greater than all, even the high priest.  Let Him be your inspiration to hold on and believe through it all.

Jesus, Our High Priest, Knows What We’re Going Through

Hebrews 4:14-16 “Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession.  For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.  Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.”

The writer of Hebrews, to which no one can surely claim authorship, opens his book with the exaltation of Christ as being over all, and declared that God “hath in these last days spoken to us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things,” (Hebrews 1:2).

“Therefore,” Hebrews 2:1 tells us, “we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip.”

Many believe the recipients of this letter are Jewish Christians whose faith has come under attack and they needed encouragement to hold on to the words of Christ; hold onto the gospel message lest they “let them slip.”

When one “slips” it is usually a backward path into old ways, and this is what was threatening their current faith.  That was the fear plaguing the faith of these new converts.  The old ways; the old religious system that came before Christ was trying to prevail and draw people backward.  The writer of Hebrews continues to explain that Christ is greater than the old way.  He is greater than Moses and greater than the old religious system and priesthood, the angels and all that came before Him.  He is simply greater in every way.

I know old is comfortable to some, but he was trying to push them out of their comfort zone and step out on their new-found faith and believe that Christ is the greater choice.

Our rest, he states, is now found in the promises fulfilled in Christ (Hebrews 3:18-4:3).

With that our lesson opens, stating, “Seeing then that we have a great high priest.”  Back in Leviticus 8:12 we see Aaron being anointed as the first high priest.  From then until Christ, the old religious system of sacrifices, ritual laws, and offerings was in place and the high priest stood as an intermediary between God and the people.

The fallacy in those who wanted to revert to this old system is that now “we have a great high priest.”  Adding the word “great” shows that He is more excellent in every way compared to the high priestly system to which they wanted to go back to.

What made Jesus a “great high priest?”  Not only did He fulfill the role of high priest on a natural level, but he is the only priest/prophet/King/sacrifice that fulfilled everything on a spiritual level.

Jesus stood in the gap where the common man cannot.  He became a “merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, and to make reconciliation for the sins of the people,” (Hebrews 2:17).  So, not only did He offer sacrifices (as the role of the high priest), but He Himself would “make reconciliation for the sins of the people,” by His own blood.  Colossians 1:20 reaffirms this by telling us, “And having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things on earth, or things in heaven.”

For the people, the danger of falling back into the old system would cause them to act in unbelief of what Christ accomplished on the cross.  This, in turn, would cause them to forfeit the promise, as did their ancestors when they failed to believe God and enter their promise (see Hebrews 3:12, 18-19; 4:1-3, 9, 11).

Following Christ, the ultimate high priest is the only way to enter that “rest.”

Other high priests were only able to enter the most holy place after much sacrificing for their own sins.  But Christ went even further.  He “passed into the heavens.”  As the “Son of God” He was able to go above and beyond what any mere man or normal high priest could do.  As a matter of fact, Hebrews 7:26 states that He, as high priest, was made “higher than the heavens.”  Jesus is simply that AWESOME!

“Let us hold fast our profession.”  Because of whom Jesus is and His perfect work as the high priest for us, we have the responsibility to hold on to our faith and not let it slip away.  Don’t be easily swayed this way and that with the moving of our circumstances and our emotions and just plain old life itself.  Stay planted in your faith.  Don’t be uprooted but hold on!

Repeatedly we are encouraged to take a stand for our faith and to continue therein (see Colossians 1:23 and 1 Peter 5:9).  Later, the writer of Hebrews will reiterate the need to “hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering, (for he is faithful that promised),” (Hebrews 10:23).  “Wavering” is littered with doubt and unbelief.  But the one that promised is faithful to keep what He promised if we would just remain in Him and believe.

“For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities.”  Most parents know what it is to see a child reaching for something harmful and in a panic yell “stop” or “no” because we know by experience the outcome of what grabbing hold of that harmful thing may be.

Experience is a great teacher of life.  Why is that?  Because, unless you really have been there and done that and gone through this, you really don’t know on a personal level how it feels.

Christ, as our high priest, knows exactly how this life feels to us.  Serving in humanity as a human also, He experienced what it was like to “be touched with the feeling of our infirmities.”  He experienced “in all points” the frail nature of the human body with all its passions.  In an article I previously wrote titled Jesus Knows, I said:

“Jesus knows what living in the flesh feels like.  Walking up and down the shores of Galilee, He didn’t let His holiness withhold Himself from our infirmities.  He hungered as we did.  He wept when sadness invaded His heart.  He justifiably angered at the thoughtlessness of men.  He knows.

Jesus knows.  He knows suffering.  He knows temptation.  He knows what it is to care when no one else does.

He knows what it is to be chased, used and despised.  His ears have felt the sting of gossip and have heard the song of ridicule.  He’s heard the taunting of the nay-sayers and the tsk- tsk- tsk- of the un-approving.

Aching limbs, sore feet and a thirsty tongue – He knows.  Jesus knows disappointment at the carelessness of others.  He knows desperation over the plight of the lost soul.  He knows of the crown of thorns His life is leading Him to.

Jesus knows everything because He is divine.  Jesus has experienced everything because of His humanity.” (Word For Life Says)

Yet, even in His humanity, He overcame all temptation “without sin.”  Even Pilate exclaimed during his own human inquisition of the Savior, “I find no fault in this man,” (Luke 23:4).

Other verses tell us, “For he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succor them that are tempted,” (Hebrews 2:18).  Because of what He experienced personally, He knows how to help each one of us, in each one of our situations, personally.  No matter how hard it may appear to us, Jesus knows how to HELP!

Considering all that we have learned so far about our “great high priest;” the recipients of this letter and us are encouraged with these words: “Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.”

Since Jesus personally knows and since Jesus personally serves as our high priest, our connecting link to God, we can with confidence draw near to God through prayer to seek “mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.”

We have access to God.  Don’t hold back your privilege as a child of God of going before the Father to get some help.  There are times of humbling; times of desperation when we all need to approach the throne of the King for a little more grace and mercy.  No, we don’t deserve it, but yes, He gives us access to come anyhow.

So, come boldly, with the confidence of the King’s kid, to find that help you need.  Jesus is there waiting, at the right hand of the Father interceding on our behalf.  There’s no reason not to go.  He beckons, “Come and get some help!”

Jesus, Our High Priest, Did What Others Couldn’t

Hebrews 5:1-3 “For every high priest taken from among men is ordained for men in all things pertaining to God, that he may offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins: Who can have compassion on the ignorant, and on them that are out of the way; for that he himself also is compassed with infirmity.  And by reason hereof he ought, as for the people, so also for himself, to offer for sins.”

The job of the high priest was to take care of “all things pertaining to God;” meaning they had the charge and responsibility of all things in the service of God on behalf of the people, being “ordained for men.”  These tasks also included the giving of “gifts” and the offering up of “sacrifices for sins.”

If you were to do a really good study, you may find that just dealing with the system and rituals and law regarding sacrifices was quite the operation.  There were burnt offerings, heave offerings, grain offerings, wave offerings and peace offerings (each had their own specifications that had to be followed).  There were rules to be followed for the animals involved and for the people involved.  There were obligations that if not followed could disqualify one for the priesthood.  THERE WAS A LOT INVOLVED and all to make sure the services of the holiness of God and “all things pertaining to God,” would go off the right way (this is just scratching the surface of all involved in their duties).

These men, who would play the crucial role as the go-between of God and man, themselves, were “compassed with infirmity… so also for himself, to offer for sins.”  The human priesthood in place, with animal sacrifices, before Christ, served its temporary purpose.   But, to supply eternal life on the level that Christ would offer in His priesthood, they were unqualified for because they themselves suffered weaknesses and flaws of humanity and had to make sure their sins were taken care of as well (compare to Hebrews 9:6-7).  That system was just a “shadow of good things to come” (Hebrews 10:1).

By the old system, “every priest standeth daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins,” (Hebrews 10:11).  But with Jesus as high priest, doing what man or the blood of bulls and goats couldn’t do, became the “mediator of the new testament,” (read Hebrews 9:11-15); “This man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God,” (Hebrews 10:12) and it is from that place and position where He, as our great High Priest, remains today.  Glory!

Jesus, Our High Priest, Was Begotten for This

Hebrews 5:4-6 “And no man taketh this honour unto himself, but he that is called of God, as was Aaron.  So also Christ glorified not himself to be made an high priest; but he that said unto him, Thou art my Son, to day have I begotten thee.  As he saith also in another place, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec.”

Aaron didn’t call himself to be a high priest and neither did Jesus.  Regarding Aaron, God instructed Moses, “Take thou unto thee Aaron thy brother, and his sons with him, from among the children of Israel, that he may minister unto me in the priest’s office…,” (Exodus 28:1, emphasis mine).  God selected Aaron to serve as “priest” and God is also the one who spoke the words confirming Jesus’ role, “Thou art my Son, to day have I begotten thee,” (see also Psalm 2:7; Acts 13:33 and Matthew 3:17, just to name a few).

The old line of priesthood was through Aaron (the tribe of Levi), but now the new was established in Jesus.  The priesthood was changed (Heb. 7:12), by “the bringing in of a better hope… by the which we draw nigh unto God,” (Heb. 7:19).

Perfection could not be achieved through the Levitical priesthood and there was a need for something better (Hebrews 7:11).  In comparison, the priesthood of Christ would be marked by the same characteristics of “Melchisedec” in that like Melchisedec, Jesus would serve as King and priest (see Genesis 14:18), and also like Melchisedec, His priesthood would be enduring and “for ever” (Heb. 7:17).  There is no recorded beginning or ending for Melchisedec but “made like unto the Son of God; abideth a priest continually,” (Heb. 7:3).

Jesus’ priesthood would be marked by the “power of an endless life,” (Heb. 7:16) which is in sharp contrast to the Levitical priesthood where they could not “continue by reason of death,” (Heb. 7:23).  Thereby, Christ has an “unchangeable priesthood,” (Heb. 7:24), “Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them,” (Heb. 7:25).

Jesus, in His priesthood, lives forever to save because He is the great High Priest.  There is none better.  None that came before Him could do what He did.  That’s why this lesson is marked by the word “great” which implies strongly Jesus is “more than” in status, power, and glory.  And, there is none after Him.  He is it.  He is the great High Priest whom the former was just a shadow of.

Jesus, Our High Priest, Suffered for our Salvation

Hebrews 5:7-10 “Who in the days of his flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto him that was able to save him from death, and was heard in that he feared; Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered; And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him; Called of God an high priest after the order of Melchisedec.”

Jesus “suffered.”  Can we wrap our minds around that?  There are some with a false supposition that Christ could endure all that He did because He was the Son of God.  They make it sound like it was nothing for Him to go through what He went through.  Boy, are they wrong!  Jesus suffered because He was the Son of God!  “Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered,” (emphasis mine).

Let’s go back to the Garden of Gethsemane.  There Jesus prayed, “Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done,” (Luke 22:42).  Sometimes I believe we hear this verse so much that we become desensitized to the agony behind the prayer.

If you continue to read it states, “Being in agony he prayed more earnestly,” (Luke 22:44a; emphasis mine).  He was already feeling the trauma of what was about to take place and it was wreaking havoc on Him.  He was in agony!  The pain was pressing on Him.  He was tormented at the thought of what was soon going to come to pass.  So much so, “his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground,” (Luke 22:44b).  Look at what His body was going through, and He wasn’t even on the cross yet.  He “suffered” and “he had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto him that was able to save him from death.”

He didn’t have an easy time getting through the suffering because He was the Son; rather He suffered harshly because He was the Son.   Even Isaiah prophesied of the pain of His suffering: “He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he was brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth.  He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? for he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken,” (Is. 53:7-8).

Jesus would fulfill His role as our King and our priest, but it would be at the expense of His own battered, bruised, beaten and dead body.

Because He reacted and responded in “obedience,” and endured the shame and the suffering of the cross, He “became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him,” thereby making Him the greater.  Jesus became the “source” of our salvation and eternal life.  When He obeyed unto death and entered the holy place, not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood, the Bible declares, He “obtained eternal redemption for us,” (Hebrews 9:12).

“Called of God an high priest after the order of Melchisedec.”  Once again, the writer of Hebrews reiterates that this calling was not of His own doing; rather, He was “called of God.”  God preordained this to be so.  Psalm 110:4 says, “The LORD hath sworn, and will not repent, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek.”  That word “order” gives the impression of one being in the same style.  Once again, He would serve not only as King, but He would fulfill priestly duties as well.  And, forever He did and does it greater!

Turning to Jesus Christ is the best decision one can make in life.  He is greater than anyone and anything, and faith in Him will not disappoint.  He is the source of our 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 – Jesus The Great High Priest

Suggested Activities:

Bible Review Game: “Bible Baseball” (Click on the link and follow to that site.  Follow the directions given and I’m sure your students will enjoy.)

Kid’s Journal Page: Kid’s Journal Page – Holding Fast to our Faith

Adult Journal Page: Adult Journal Page – Holding Fast to our Faith

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

Word Search: Jesus: The Great High Priest Word Search  Answers: Jesus: The Great High Priest Word Search Answers

Crossword: Jesus: The Great High Priest Crossword  Answers: Jesus: The Great High Priest Crossword Answers

Word Scramble: Jesus: The Great High Priest Word Scramble  Answers: Jesus: The Great High Priest Word Scramble Answers

Draw the Scene: Jesus: The Great High Priest Draw the Scene

jesus-the-great-high-priest-draw-the-scene-001

Coloring Page: Jesus: The Great High Priest Coloring Page (Try new ideas to turn your coloring page into a fun activity.  You can have students use colored chalk or watercolor paints instead of crayons.  You can cut it up into puzzle pieces to put back together again or cut out words and the picture to glue onto construction paper to make a neat poster.  You are only limited by your imagination.  Enjoy!)

jesus-the-great-high-priest-coloring-page-001

“Our Great High Priest” (Coloring and printable activities. Enjoy!)

“Our Great High Priest”

“Jesus Crafts for Kids” (Incorporate any one of these activities to fit with our lesson.  I particularly like the “Standing Jesus Pic,” instead of writing Jesus loves me, you can write “Jesus is My High Priest.”  Enjoy!)

“How to Draw Jesus Christ” (This one is geared to the younger students and I think they will enjoy it greatly.  What fun your students will have when they find out they can draw a picture of JESUS themselves.  Awesome for this lesson or just about any lesson.  Also comes with a “print friendly” version.  Enjoy!)

“Jesus Toilet Paper Roll Craft”

“Jesus Loves Me Craft” (Easy construction paper craft. Enjoy!)

“Name of Jesus Coloring Sheet” (Not a color-by-number, but a color-by-color sheet.  Enjoy!)

Sunday School Lesson – “Make a Joyful Noise!” Psalm 95:1-7

VERSE DISCOVERY: Psalm 95:1-7 (KJV, Public Domain)

Once, I had the privilege to attend a Christian concert.  Oh, what a blessing and a joy for me to experience some of my favorite performers live in worship.  It was a really awesome time.

Good, Christian music can have that effect on you.  It may not change your situation, but it can change the atmosphere and how you feel about a situation.  Christian music draws you in a realm of worship that can’t be experienced anywhere else.

Apparently, scrolling through my site I found that I have written quite of few things that involve singing, but one of my all times favorites that I have written is simply titled: “Sing!” and it goes like this:

“And I saw as it were . . . them that had gotten the victory . . . and they sing the song,” Revelation 15:2-3, KJV

Songs.  Movements of the heart and soul.  I don’t know how they come about.  Do they start with words that won’t let the mind rest until the lyrics are expressed?  Or, is it a tune, a melodious humming in one’s being that beckons to become more?

Songs come and go at any time and there’s one for every occasion.  Most great songs come from one’s life experiences.  Whether in good times or bad, happy or sad, the man inside calls for a tune to join the ceremony.

Songs express joy and times of rejoicing.  A good song motivates one when it’s hard to push forward in life and lifts one out of times of sadness.  We see the power of this type of inspiring music in 1 Samuel 16:23, when David played the harp before Saul and the evil spirit left him.

Music is no doubt powerful.  The most precious and heart-felt songs come after times of hardship and struggles.  When we have gone through the wringer of life, made it to the other side, and have squeezed out a heart that expresses gratefulness to God.  Music that tells the world that yes, it was hard, but I made it to the other side.  After crossing the Red Sea did not Miriam put a tambourine in her hand and say, “Sing ye to the LORD, for he hath triumphed gloriously,” (Exodus 15:21, KJV)?

In the book of Revelation, we see songs of deliverance going up before God.  They had overcome “the beast, and over his image, and over his mark, and over the number of his name, stand on the sea of glass, having harps of God,” (Rev. 15:2, KJV).  And, what did they do?  “They sing!” (Rev. 15:3, KJV).  Their praise cannot be constrained any longer.  They have never felt freer then when they had overcome.  That kind of joy starts to seep out every crevice of one’s being until it pours over in song, releasing praise to God!

Music and songs are wrought throughout the Bible.  The psalmist exhorts us to “Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all ye lands.  Serve the LORD with gladness: come before his presence with singing,” (Ps. 100:1-2, KJV).  When the Assyrians were prophesied to be destroyed, Isaiah 30:29 emphatically declares, “Ye shall have a song!” (KJV).  When Paul and Silas prayed and sang praises, the earth quaked and prison doors were opened (Acts 16:25-26).  After the Last Supper “they had sung a hymn,” (Mk. 14:26, KJV).  James said, “Is any merry? let him sing psalms,” (Ja. 5:13, KJV).

Sing!

Sing!                     

Sing!

I don’t have the best voice, but I have a praise in my soul that I have to let out!

Sing!

I’m shy in front of other people, but I’m living to please an audience of one!  It doesn’t have to be in front of a crowd (yikes!).  A praise can wring out of your spirit at any time and in any place.

Just, Sing!

Give your heart – your spirit – your soul permission to rejoice.  God has been so good to us – so, Sing!

You are an overcomer also.  “Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us,” (Rom. 8:37, KJV).

So, SING!

Those in Revelations had every right to sing, and so do you.  Just sing!  He’s worthy of it today!” (www.wordforlifesays.com).

The focus of that article was singing and rejoicing; worshiping Him because He is worthy; because He has done so much for you and me.  In it, you find the same call as today’s lesson to “Make a Joyful Noise!” coming from Psalm 95.  If nobody else honors God, we the people of God should readily “Make a Joyful Noise!”

Make a Joyful Noise

Psalm 95:1 “O come, let us sing unto the LORD: let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation.”

“O come,” to me, rings out an open invitation for all to participate in the worship of God.  “Come” is beckoning the hearer to come nearer; to approach God in the manner specified in today’s lesson.

And, the manner specified is through song and “a joyful noise.”  Yes, your prayers matter to God and your service also; but God is also attentive to your worship.  A well-rounded Christian is active and alive and moving in all these areas.

Psalm 98 gives the same command to “make a joyful noise” and shows how that can be done through the voice and through instruments:

“Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all the earth: make a loud noise, and rejoice, and sing praise.

Sing unto the LORD with the harp; with the harp, and the voice of a psalm.

With trumpets and sound of cornet make a joyful noise before the LORD, the King,” (Psalm 98:4-6).

Repeatedly in the Bible, we are commanded and shown that God alone is worthy of all our praise, honor, and glory.  He deserves this and so much more.  Praise and honor through song is something He expects from us and looks forward to.  It’s like a love letter from us to Him.  What an awesome perspective!

Now, I have written about the need to “make a joyful noise” enough in the introduction.  Here, I want to focus on the word “unto.”  “Unto” gives us direction to where this worship is to go.

There are many types of Psalms in the Bible.  Some speak of confession and some of wisdom.  Some tell history and some cry out against injustice.  Some prophesy of the future Messiah and some, like today’s Psalm is considered a Royal Psalm.  It is titled such because it declares the kingship of God.  It is “unto” Him; it is “unto” the King, “the LORD” which we are commanded to “make a joyful noise.”

He is “the rock of our salvation.”  “Rock” represents strength.  It pictures one standing on a sure foundation that will not fail.  I’m sure many are familiar with that old hymn that states: “On Christ, the solid rock I stand; all other ground is sinking sand,” (“My Hope is Built,” Edward Mote, 1834; Public Domain).  2 Samuel 22:32 asks, “For who is God, save the LORD? and who is a rock, save our God?”  God is “the rock of our salvation” and He is worthy to be praised!

Psalm 95:2 “Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving, and make a joyful noise unto him with psalms.”

“Come before his presence with thanksgiving” shows a grateful heart in action.  One who knows not to take the goodness of the Lord for granted.  One who dares not enter the place where He is or draws nigh unto Him without reverence for all that He has done for one in their life.  Thanksgiving is not a holiday, it’s a lifestyle.  It’s a life that knows apart from Him I can do nothing (John 15:5); a life that recognizes their need and dependence upon this great Salvation and can’t help but to say, “Thank You!”

In a previous article titled: “What Ever Happened to Thank You?” it was noted that “There is a great danger in forgetting to be thankful, especially when it comes to recognizing the great work that God has done in our lives…  When one fails to appreciate what is done for them they, of themselves, can begin to get prideful.  Simply refusing to acknowledge that there was outside help to raise them out of a situation can make one think they have delivered themselves of their own accord and power.  Being thankful means being grounded.  It is recognizing that we don’t have it all together as we think we do, and we need the assistance of another to help along the way.” (www.wordforlifesays.com)

When we enter His “presence” we are to do so with a grateful heart that doesn’t take His goodness for granted.  The article goes on to say, “God is so gracious to us; let us not take Him for granted.  We may slight our fellow man once in a while (which we also need to continually watch out for and learn to do better), but don’t slight God.  Give Him His due.  Is it really that hard to simply stop during the busyness of our day and say, “Thank you?”  Does it really cause us that much extra work to simply acknowledge what has been done for you and me with an attitude of gratitude?” (www.wordforlifesays.com)

With that heart of gratitude, we are exhorted to once again “make a joyful noise unto him with psalms.”  Many know that “psalms” means songs.  It shows us the real impact of God-honoring music during worship: He loves it!

For Our God is Great

Psalms 95:3 “For the LORD is a great God, and a great King above all gods.”

Deuteronomy 10:17 mightily declares, “For the LORD your God is God of gods, and Lord of lords, a great God, a mighty, and a terrible, which regardeth not persons, nor taketh reward.”  God is the real thing!  There are a lot of false and destructive forces that try to sway man away from the truth of God and His deity over all creation, but the fact of the matter is, He is the real deal.  Everything begins and ends with Him.  He is the authority over all.  Therefore, He is the one worthy of praise.

Too many go through their day without ever considering the fact that hey, He is God, and He should be before all others. With that realization in hand, I want my life to reflect that great truth. I want every word, every action and every thought to magnify the greatness of who He is and all His glory. When I go about my day, I want people to see Him in me. Do I make mistakes? Oh, yeah! But I have a goal. I aspire to do better and to be better every day. God has been so good and wonderful to me, and I feel that as His child the least I can do is showing Him the honor due Him.

“Give unto the Lord, O ye mighty, give unto the Lord glory and strength. Give unto the Lord the glory due unto his name; worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness,” (Ps. 29:1-2). These two verses have been among favorites of mine for many years now. When you think of “giving to the Lord” one realizes just how futile our efforts can be because of His vast greatness. But, something that each of us can give is honor and praise because He is God!

Psalm 95:4-5 “In his hands are the deep places of the earth: the strength of the hills is his also.  The sea is his, and he made it: and his hands formed the dry land.”

Another of the Royal Psalms that really emphasizes the truth of this verse is Psalm 24 that opens declaring, “The earth is the LORD’s, and the fullness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein.  For he hath founded it upon the seas, and established it upon the floods,” (vss. 1-2).  He “founded”, and He “established” along with the phrase from today’s lesson “he made it: and his hands formed” really expresses His all-powerful supreme rule over all creation.  The word “his” showed here four times, along with the word “he” declares His ownership over all.  He did it, not we.  “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth,” (Genesis 1:1).  Therefore, He should be praised and honored.

We, His People, Worship Him

Psalm 95:6-7 “O come, let us worship and bow down: let us kneel before the LORD our maker.  For he is our God; and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand…”

Here, the psalmist reemphasizes the call to “come, let us worship.”  Worshipping God is something that cannot be overemphasized.  It’s something that we can’t exhaust.  It’s something that we better get used to because it will be happening all over heaven for all eternity.

To “bow down” and “kneel” shows honor to the one who receives this form of respect.  We often see this in the realm of royalty and would aptly be applied here in a Royal Psalm to Him that is King above all the world and all kings of the world.

Oh, how quickly we tune in when we see royalty on display.  Events revolving around those who belong to royal heritage gain our attention when we see their pageantry on display.  As people come out in celebration and crowds gather around their televisions worldwide, we take a peek into the lives of those whom we know only afar off, and we watch their beautiful display of majesty on parade (at least on a human level).  The celebrations are grand as the people cheer and look on with fascination.

The pageantry that God deserves is far greater “for he is our God; and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand.”  We belong to Him and should want to celebrate Him in a manner that is higher than any earthly royalty could ever experience.  He is the one who watches over our affairs.  He is the one who comes to our rescue when we need help.  He is the one who cares enough to let His only begotten Son die on the cross because of our mess-ups and mistakes.  He did that for us all.  Celebrate Him! “For God is my King of old, working salvation in the midst of the earth,” (Psalm 74:12).  Celebrate Him!  “O come, let us worship!”

“We are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand.”  God has often been identified as our Shepherd.  Psalm 23:1 says, “The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.”  He is the only one who can care for His people as He does.  God loves you and you belong to Him.  He is in love with His flock and declares them as His.  “And ye my flock, the flock of my pasture, are men, and I am your God, saith the LORD GOD,” (Ezekiel 34:31).

If you are not a member of His flock, I urge you to make that change today.  Don’t let another opportunity go by without Him as your protector, your provider, your salvation and your Shepherd.  There’s too much at stake.  “He is our God” and He can be your God today as well.  Turn to Him, give Him praise, and make a joyful noise before your God!

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 – Make a Joyful Noise

Suggested Activities:

Adult Journal Page: Adult Journal Page – Psalm of Praise

Kid’s Journal Page: Kid’s Journal Page – Psalm of Praise

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

Word Search: Make a Joyful Noise Word Search Answers: Make a Joyful Noise Word Search Answers

Crossword: Make a Joyful Noise Crossword  Answers: Make a Joyful Noise Crossword Answers

Word Scramble: Make a Joyful Noise Word Scramble  Answers: Make a Joyful Noise Word Scramble Answers

Draw the Scene: Joyful Noise Draw the Scene

“Make A Joyful Noise Microphone Craft”: Here is a craft that will surely inspire your younger students to sing and make a joyful noise unto the Lord.  Basic craft instructions can be found here, although there are many versions out there.  After following the basic construction of the craft, print out the PDF: Make A Joyful Noise Toilet Paper Roll Cover.  Have students color, decorate, and attach to the toilet paper roll.  Ball up aluminum foil into a tight ball or use a Styrofoam ball covered in glitter  (can be done in advance) and attach to the top of the roll with regular or hot glue, or tape.  Below is a version I did.  Enjoy!

“Printable Microphones:” If you like the idea of using a microphone theme but don’t have time or resources, use this printable for students to cut out and decorate (cardstock works best or glue cut out to construction paper, cereal boxes, or cardboard).  Attach the memory verse to the back and your students are ready to rock out for God.  Enjoy!  PDF: Printable Mircrophones (Use this link for accurate printing)

 

“Making a Joyful Noise Instruments” Though our lesson focuses on singing, making a joyful noise is made with instruments in Psalms 98:6 it says, “With trumpets and the sound of cornet make a joyful noise before the LORD, the King.”  Below are ideas to praise God with instruments.  Enjoy!

“Homemade Kazoo Craft” from Preschool Crafts for Kids (Below is a sample done by my daughter 🙂 ):

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“Water Bottle Shakers” from Thecraftingchicks.com (Decorate outside any way you wish and fill with beads, beans or whatever.  Very easy project to help the children “Praise the Lord!”  Again, done by my daughter 🙂 ):

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“Straw Pan Flute” from Classic-play.com

“A Heart of Worship” from Ministry to Children

“Let the World Praise the Lord” from Ministry to Children

“Praise the Lord” from Childrensministry.com

“Why Do We Praise God?” from Kidssundayschool.com

“Praising God with Your Hands” from Ezinearticles.com

“I Will Praise God” Coloring Page from Twistynoodle.com

“Sing Praise to the Lord” Coloring Page from Lessons4sundayschool.com

“Sing Unto the Lord” Coloring Pages from Childrens Gems in MY Treasure Box

“Praise the Lord” Coloring Page from Church House Collection

“When We Praise God” Coloring Page from Hem of His Garment

Devotion – Dealing with Failure

dealing with failure

I don’t know about you, but I have made many mistakes in almost every area of my life.  Every “i” has not been dotted, nor every “t” crossed.  If I would begin to go down the list and check off all the goof-ups, blunders, and short-comings it would tell a story most don’t get to see on the outside; a story of blemishes on my record marred with many imperfections.

Failure and mistakes are some of those things that are hard to overcome for some.  Mess-ups have a way of smearing defeat in one’s face making them feel that there will never be a space for recovery and restoration.  But, God is a God of restoration.

The children of Israel had a propensity of straying from the will of God and messing up on several occasions (actually more than several but who are we to judge).  Knowing their history, when Solomon was praying at the temple dedication, he included a plea for restoration from the sins and mistakes of the people.  He prayed,

“When thy people Israel be smitten down before the enemy, because they have sinned against thee, and shall turn again to thee, and confess thy name, and pray, and make supplication unto thee in this house:

Then hear thou in heaven, and forgive the sin of thy people Israel, and bring them again unto the land which thou gavest unto their fathers.” (1 Kings 8:33-34)

In the above verses, we see a pattern to deal with defeat: 1) Pray and confess the wrong or mistake; 2) Let God restore.  Now listen, even if what one has “failed” at does not necessarily qualify as sin, such as one may wish they had spoken better to someone else or, in hindsight one realizes they could have put more effort on a project, or it was just an honest mistake of accidentally overlooking something or someone – whatever the cause innocent or not, I believe the same model that King Solomon laid out can be applied to just about every situation.

Point number one: Any mistake, honest and innocent to sin and wrongdoing, can be taken to the Lord in prayer.  1 Peter 5:6-7 says, “Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.”  Not just your worries and disappointments, but every care that deals with situations that make one say, “Boy, I sure messed that up.  Now what?”

Taking things to God in prayer allows Him to work on your case and opens up the doors of grace to be released in one’s life.  Which leads to the second point: let God restore and work on your case.  Solomon’s prayer said, “Bring them again unto the land,” which speaks of the opportunity to set things straight and start over; another chance to experience recovery of the Lord’s healing over the situation.

God specializes in fixing the broken and healing what others thought was impossible.  Trust Him with everything that is bothering you and let Him work it out.

If the cause of failure is due to sin, confess it and get rid of it (seek spiritual counsel from a pastor or leader for help).  If one has made a mistake that’s keeping you bound in doubt, pray for His deliverance even in this.  God is standing at the ready to repair the brokenness and bring healing to the land.

Rejoice not against me, O mine enemy: when I fall, I shall arise; when I sit in darkness, the LORD shall be a light unto me,” (Micah 7:8).

“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.

For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved,” (John 3:16-17).