Sunday School Lesson Series: “Getting to Know God Better”

When we enter into a new relationship it takes time to begin to understand and know the other individual.  This knowledge does not come instantly.  It comes with patience and perseverance; it comes by spending time with someone to get to know them personally.  It’s how we figure out all those special things that make them, them.

Getting to know God better, I believe, operates in much the same way.  The more time we spend with Him and the more time we take to understand Him and those special things that make Him, Him, the greater our love and appreciation for Him grows.  That growth is important because our understanding of who God truly is has eternal implications.  Jesus Himself spoke and said, “And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent,” (John 17:3; emphasis mine).

Can I tell you a secret?  God wants us to know Him.  He spoke in Jeremiah, saying, “Thus saith the Lord, Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches: But let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the Lord which exercise lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight, saith the Lord,” (Jeremiah 9:23-24; emphasis mine).

The greatest thing we could ever have is a solid relationship with God.  Fortifying that comes by taking the time to get to know Him better, which is the gist of this new lesson series.  Each lesson focuses on some of those things that make up the beautiful character of our wonderful God.  In the end, my prayer is that your faith in Him and your relationship with Him would be strengthened all the more.  We have this promise in the Bible: “Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you…” (James 4:8).  I pray that the words written in these lessons would help you to do just that, get closer to God.

To access the lessons, simply click on the links below.  They can be studied individually or grouped together as a series.

The power of God is over all! The power of God is responsible for all things created! The power of God cannot be matched and Job declares, even during the roughest patch of his life, that God’s sovereignty over all remains.

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

“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,” (2 Peter 3:9). God’s longsuffering is God’s patience at work in the best possible way.  Believe today and turn to the Lord for salvation.

Holiness is still right! Isaiah saw a vision of God’s holiness in heaven, unmatched by anything we can know down here or imagine. Peter lets us know, the only way we will get to experience heaven, is to live holy while down here on earth. We must be holy because God is holy!

I am expecting to add more lessons to this series in the future so please stay tuned for updates.  For now, I’m off to work on other projects and series.  Many blessings to you all!

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

Photo by Lindsay Henwood on Unsplash

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

 

Sunday School Lesson – “Made Righteous in Christ” Romans 3:21-31

Photo by Gift Habeshaw on Unsplash

VERSE DISCOVERY: Romans 3:21-31 (KJV, Public Domain)

Since “all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God,” (Romans 3:23; discussed further in this lesson), then how can one ever be truly justified by a holy and righteous God?

The answer is a simple one although it is not always simply accepted: Jesus Christ.  Through His sacrificial atoning of our sins, He changed our former status into one who now becomes righteous in the eyes of our righteous God, Paul explains in this lesson.

The Righteousness of God

Romans 3:21-22 “But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference:”

Although the Apostle Paul did not plant the Church in Rome as he had in other cities, he still took a fatherly-leadership role in helping this church to thrive to be all that God calls them to be.

He prayed for them and desired to visit them (1:1-15), but in the meantime, he wrote this letter to encourage and instruct them on the matter of salvation, God’s righteousness, and how we as sinners, can be made righteous in the eyes of God.

After establishing his fearless zeal in wanting to preach the gospel to them, for in it, he knows, “the righteousness of God” is revealed (1:15-17), which is really the main focus of this letter, Paul continues on discussing what all this means.

God’s righteousness can be described as everything just and right and holy.  God is right, there is no other way to put it.  What He does is right.  Always.  His ways are higher than ours and they are above reproach (Isaiah 55:8-9).  Opposite that is the “ungodliness and unrighteousness of men” (Romans 1:18).

Since the Fall in the garden, mankind has been corrupted by sin.  Since that day, when the age of innocence has passed off the scene, mankind has been subjected to the “wrath of God” (1:18), “Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God” (1:21).  They, mankind, are accused of changing the glory of God (1:23) and the truth of God (1:25) to follow after sinful ways.  Although creation itself testifies to the power of God (1:20), Paul sums up the ungodly truth of sinful man by saying, “Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.” (Romans 1:32).

God’s judgment is against ALL SIN and He will render to “every man according to his deeds,” (2:6).  It doesn’t matter who they are, Jew or Gentile.  It doesn’t matter if they have been raised in the Law or not (2:11-15).  Anything that one can boast in outside of faith in Jesus Christ will profit nothing in that coming day (more on this later).

The law cannot justify one before God.  The law, and it’s following the adherence thereof, cannot earn one true salvation.  The law’s purpose was to bring about “the knowledge of sin,” (3:20), but it could never erase sin for good and make people righteous before God.

Then Paul introduces a “but now” moment that begins to explain how the “righteousness of God” is “manifested.”  This “but now” introduces the wonderful realization that mankind is not left to drift in the world of sin without help; without an anchor to steady and save them.  There is a way for them to receive “the righteousness of God” and it is “by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe.”

In Christ, lies that hope to be justified before the Father, accomplishing something the law never could do.  “For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit,” (Romans 8:3-4).

In the work of the cross of Christ, salvation is available for them that believe.  Jesus Christ is the only answer to heal mankind from their dreaded sinfulness and to make them right before a holy and just God, “upon all them that believe.”

It doesn’t matter who they are, where they’re from, or what they’ve done: “there is not difference.”  Any and all who turn to Jesus Christ by faith can be saved.  The answer to all our sins’ woes is fulfilled in what Christ accomplished on the cross (compare Romans 10:12).

All Have Sinned and Need to be Justified

Romans 3:23-26 “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.”

Just as there is no difference in who can receive the righteousness of God by faith in Christ, there is no difference in who can be categorized as a sinner in need of this grace, in need of redemption, “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.”  Everyone who ever was and ever will be needs to be saved by the redemptive blood of Christ.  No one measures up to God’s standard on their own.  We all need Jesus!

It is through Him, where one can be “justified freely by his grace.”  The word “justifies” signals the “being made right before God” part, while “grace” speaks of the undeserving mercy we receive in that.  Our guilt had us bound, but Jesus set us free through “redemption,” by redeeming us.  He paid the cost.  He “gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time,” (1 Timothy 2:6).  So that our eternity could be secured before the Father, He “freely” satisfied the demand against mankind’s sin.

Jesus became our eternal sacrifice that atoned for our sins once and for all: “Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood.”  The Bible declares and attests to this truth in other areas, saying, “Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins,” (1 John 4:10).  The word “propitiation” in both of these verses speak of Christ’s complete, atoning sacrifice.  “His blood” was shed that we might be made free (compare Hebrews 10:4).  Christ died for our sins.  Our justification is not a human invention.  God “set forth” Christ and the plan of salvation through Christ.

“To declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past.”  Not only today are our past sins taken care of, but the yesterday and the yesteryear sins of sinners are taken care of for all who believe, both before the cross and after the cross (compare Ephesians 1:7; Hebrews 9:15)!  Hallelujah!  The “past,” and those in the past, have been covered by the cross, also!  The cross, and what Jesus did on the cross, is enough to satisfy and uphold the demands of God’s “righteousness” against the sin and sinners of today, yesterday, and forevermore.  Nothing else is needed.  It has already been proven that nothing else will do (read Hebrews 9:12-14).

“Through the forbearance of God.”  God’s own “righteousness” (above), which is the very “habitation of His throne” (Psalm 97:2), is shown in His willingness and longsuffering to withhold final actions upon mankind’s sin as a whole before the time of the cross.  At the time of His death, all sin, past, present, and future, were placed upon our Savior as He hung on that cross.  It’s what one does with the revelation of the cross for their own life that makes the difference.  This is what one will be judged by.

God has always been fair in His actions toward humanity, sinful though they may be.  He gives everyone time and space to repent: “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance,” (2 Peter 3:9).  But, as we know, all will not come to repentance.  The time of ignorance is over and there is an appointed day for the judgment for all, past, present, and future (Acts 17:30-31).

But, for the one that “believeth in Jesus,” God justifies.  Because of what Christ did, and because of our belief and acceptance of what Christ did as our Savior, God credits that to our account as righteousness.  God declares them/us right and justified!  Mankind, any person in human history outside of Jesus Christ, is far from perfect and right in the eyes of God.  But, when one believes in Jesus, for all He accomplished on the cross and accepts that sacrifice for their life; when God looks at that person, He no longer sees them and their wrongs.  He sees Jesus and His right, and He is the one that declares them now to be righteous.

By Faith, Jesus is Enough

Romans 3:27-31 “Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith.  Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.  Is he the God of the Jews only? is he not also of the Gentiles? Yes, of the Gentiles also: Seeing it is one God, which shall justify the circumcision by faith, and uncircumcision through faith.  Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law.”

Because everything is based solely on what Christ has done, and because it is only God who is able to aptly justify one, what right does anyone have for “boasting”?  They don’t!  That’s the plain and simple truth. No one can make themselves righteous.  No “law” could declare one righteous.  Nor, could any “works” (compare Ephesians 2:9).  Salvation is not something that can be earned.  It is something we are blessed with through “faith.”

Instead of being a source of contention, this should be a relief, for salvation does not depend on what a person can do perfectly, it only depends on what Christ has already done perfectly.  Only the self-righteous would find some kind of joy in trying to pat themselves on the back for a job well-done in trying to get to heaven for all eternity on their own accord or by their own works.  But self-righteousness won’t get you or me there.  Only those who are found Christ-righteous will enter in.

Therefore, “boasting” is kicked to the curb.  “Boasting” is a symbol of pride.  “Boasting” glorifies self and what self can accomplish on its own.  But salvation, I repeat, is NOT something that people can accomplish on their own.  Everyone needs forgiveness and reconciliation through Jesus Christ!  “No flesh shall glory in his presence,” (1 Corinthians 1:29).  National heritage, religious pride, or any other reason one may exalt themselves believing them worthy of this great gift by what they have done or do – all of that is made null and void before the perfect sacrifice of Christ.  For it is ONLY “by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God,” (Ephesians 2:8).

True salvation requires true “faith” in the right source, and we are not it, nor were the receivers of this letter in the Roman church.  What self can do is not it.  The gospel tells the story and the way of that right source who is Christ our Lord.  He is it!  Any other way outside of Christ is “excluded.” 

“Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law,” Paul said.  The reality of this truth permeates Paul’s letter to the Roman Christians.  Prior to reaching the text of study in this lesson, in verse 20 of this same chapter, Paul writes, “Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight…”  Later in Romans, he will write, “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,” (Romans 5:1).  Here, he is declaring exactly what Christ’s sacrifice on the cross accomplished for the sin-sick soul.  He justified us and made us right with the Father (Romans 5:1).  None of this was based on our own efforts or human goodness.  Our new position in Christ was and is solely based on the sacrificial love of Christ that propelled Him through any hurt and pain He was personally feeling to think outside of Himself and see a world of humanity drowning in an ocean of wayward disobedience and rebellion leading them to a lost path of which there is no return unless their souls be saved!

Because of what He did, we now have “access by faith into this grace” and we have a reason to “rejoice in hope of the glory of God,” (Romans 5:2).  With His blood, He bought the key that would give us an open door to our heavenly Father.  And, with everything we face, our end reward is hope (Romans 5:3-5).

He, Jesus, did it all for us and our job is to whole-heartedly accept it, accept His work, accept His sacrifice “by faith.”  Those words, “by faith”, “through faith”, “the law of faith”, and other references to faith appears no less than thirty-seven times in the book of Romans alone.  The “law”, and the works of the law couldn’t do it (compare Acts 13:38-39).  “For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it written, The just shall live by faith,” (Romans 1:17).  It’s a faith thing!

And, this is God’s plan for all.  It’s not just for the “Jews” or for the “Gentiles.”  There is only “one God” with one plan of salvation for all to accept: faith in what Jesus Christ has already done.

Does this make the law “void”?  Absolutely not!  Through Christ, God fulfilled the law.  The law was “established”.  Before His death, Jesus plainly stated, “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil,” (Matthew 5:17).  In Him, the requirements of the law were fully and completely satisfied.  Therefore, God is just when He makes one righteous through Christ because, in Christ, all the law is fulfilled.  By faith, Jesus is enough!

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 – Made Righteous in Christ

Suggested Activities:

Object Lessons from Better Bible Teachers

“Balloon and Rock: The Weight of Sin Object Lesson” from Ministry-To-Children

Games about Salvation from Classroom

Adult Journal Page: Adult Journal Page – Redeemed

Kid’s Journal Page: Kid’s Journal Page – Jesus Saves

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

Draw the Scene: Made Righteous in Christ Draw the Scene

Word Search: Made Righteous in Christ Word Search Answers: Made Righteous in Christ Word Search Answers

Crossword: Made Righteous in Christ Crossword Answers: Made Righteous in Christ Crossword Answers

Word Scramble: Made Righteous in Christ Word Scramble Answers: Made Righteous in Christ Word Scramble Answers

“Memory Verse Activities for Any Lesson” from Calvary Curriculum

“Memory Activities for Sunday School” from SundaySchoolSources.com

“Sketching Bible Memory Verse” from Ministry-To-Children

“Jesus Can Set Us Right Activity Page” from Ministry-To-Children

“Bible Verse Game for Romans 3:32” from Scripture Lady

Explaining Justification from Jelly Telly Parents

Romans 3:32 Coloring Page from HomeschoolRoundup.com

 

Sunday School Lesson – “Serving Like the Good Samaritan” Luke 10:25-34

Photo: Pixabay/jclk8888

VERSE DISCOVERY: Luke 10:25-34 (KJV, Public Domain)

In a previous article I wrote: “Have a Warmer Heart than Usual” it reads:

“I live in a good distance from the church I attend which means lots of driving and observing time.  Often times, on my way to church I look out my window and I stare.  Some may think I’m being rude, but it’s the exact opposite.  I look at that person sitting on the stoop or the one standing on the corner, and I wonder.  I wonder about what they may have gone through that day.  I wonder what it is that made that person look so sad.  I wonder about the mom on the bus stop struggling to get stroller, baby, and bags onto the bus.  I wonder.

How often have we really taken the time to see beyond the people to see the person, to really try to imagine you walking in the shoes of another?  To see what’s going on inside the person without judging the outside?  To show a tender heart instead of a wagging head, disapproving eyes and a simple tsk-tsk-tsk?

When it’s all said and done, “Mercy rejoiceth against judgment.” (James 2:13).  Thinking beyond oneself is going to win out hands down every single time.  Why?  Because, that’s what Christ did for us!  He looked beyond Himself, beyond His own needs and hurts, and saw what the world needed.  The world needed a Savior.

Even during His earthly ministry it has been noted in the Bible, “But when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion on them” (Mt. 9:36).  To the leper, “And Jesus, moved with compassion, put forth his hand, and touched him…” (Mk. 1:41).  To the mom who just lost her son, “And when the Lord saw her, he had compassion on her…” (Luke 7:13).  To the world, “Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done,” (Luke 22:42).  To His enemies, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do…” (Luke 23:34).

That’s how warm Jesus’ heart was toward people.  He had a genuine concern to look at people from the inside out instead of the outside in.  He saw the person beyond the people.  So, did the Good Samaritan.  Despite the rejection and animosity he faced down through the years at the hand of the Jews, this man needed his help.  He was not going to let those years of bitterness or even indifference change his resolve to help the one that needed him now.

Paul taught the church in Ephesus to “And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.  Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children; And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us…” (Eph. 4:32-5:2).

Imitators of God are concerned with the person on the inside.  An imitator of God is warmed to the plight of the human in humanity and sees them for who they are.  They are someone that God is concerned enough about to allow His Son to die.  Shouldn’t we then have that same compassion for one another? (© Word For Life Says).

Compassion, though it may sometimes seem like it in today’s world, does not have to be a lost art.  We, if we follow the example of Jesus and of those who have gone on before us, can make a difference, not only in one life but in the world, positively, for change.  Through our service to our fellow man we are demonstrating the service of God’s love toward us; thereby serving God as well.

Considering all that Christ has done for us, we have a unique responsibility to show one another love through service.  Think about the life of Christ.  He said, “Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many,” (Matthew 20:28).  Here is the King of all kings and the Lord of all lords, humbling Himself as a commoner and serving.  His focus was never on receiving anything, yet to give it all.  The pattern of the Church and those who would serve God should be so likeminded.

A Lawyer Questions Jesus

Luke 10:25-29 “And, behold, a certain lawyer stood up, and tempted him, saying, Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?  He said unto him, What is written in the law? how readest thou?  And he answering said, Thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself.  And he said unto him, Thou hast answered right: this do, and thou shalt live.  But he willing to justify himself, said unto Jesus, And who is my neighbour?” 

It amazes me the lengths that individuals will go through to try to prove a point.  Certain men would show up at different points: Pharisees, Herodians, Sadducees and scribes, “to catch him in his words,” (Mark 12:13).  These questionings were not honest inquiries rather ways to try to catch Jesus in a trap; “that they might take hold of his words, that so they might deliver him unto the power and authority of the governor,” (Luke 20:20; read 9-19 for more).

The lawyer in today’s lesson was an expert in the religious law or the Law of Moses.  His life revolved around the teachings thereof; he knew and possessed the expertise of the time; a very thorough knowledge of what was written and passed down from generation to generation amongst the people of God.

Here, he used his “knowledge” to try to trap Jesus in something he and the other Pharisees and scribes could eventually use against Him in their pursuit of His demise.  We see a similar situation play out in Matthew 22:35 and Mark 12:28.

But Jesus turned the tables on him and asked him, “What is written in the law? how readest thou?” Obviously, Jesus knew of the man and who he was and being the expert that he is should be able to readily answer His question as well.  It’s one thing to throw questions at another in an attempt to embarrass or discredit; it’s totally different to be put on the spot and have to answer for some theological debate for oneself.  Jesus redirected the man’s question to let the law, which he is so familiarly acquainted with, speak for itself.

Note: “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness,” (2 Timothy 3:16).  If there is any question regarding the Word, refer back to the Word.  Jesus used God’s Word a lot in many defenses.

What I like is Jesus didn’t initiate this.  It was the pride and headiness of those who sought to disprove Him that caused them to pose these questions.  Yet, at every turn, Jesus, in His quiet and humble way, puts people in their place causing the opposite results in what they were hoping for.

The lawyer’s response was not unexpected.  He answered with his recitation from a portion of the Law which begins in Deuteronomy 6:4 with the words, “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord:”; also known as the Shema (compare Mark 12:29).  This prayer was recited two times a day.  Its instructions are very poignant and meant to solidify one’s relationship and that of his house with God (see Deuteronomy 6:4-7).  What great principles on rearing a godly house and drawing one closer to God!  Here, the lawyer answered confidently, “Thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind” reciting from the familiar verse 5 in that same set of verses from Deuteronomy 6.

Note: Because we love Him, everything within our inner being should be wholly and completely devoted to God: the emotions, mind, will, and strength.  This goes beyond lip service.  God wants your inner man devoted to Him rather than surface professions of faith.  Why do you think God so approved of David despite his many, many faults?  He did so because David’s heart was for God.  Act 13:22 says, “I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after mine own heart…”  David worshiped God and was devoted to God from the heart.  His inner man was tied to God.”

The second portion of his recitation came from Leviticus 19:18b where it states, “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.”  Love is a working of the inner man and is concerned with outwardly working itself in the lives of others seeking their betterment.  Love doesn’t look to loop-hole another to get out of service, rather, it asks, “What can I do for my fellow man?”  One of the greatest things we or any of us can give to another is love (1 Corinthians 13:13)

Jesus supports his answer as being correct by stating, “Thou hast answered right: this do, and thou shalt live.” In Matthew 22:40 Jesus states, “On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”  Everything is fulfilled in the following of these two commandments.  We are not saved by our works, but our works prove to whom we belong.  “Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone,” (James 2:17; read vss. 14-18).

“But he, willing to justify himself, said unto Jesus, And who is my neighbor?” Oh, here’s where we get into the pudding of the matter.  I don’t know why this man felt a need to justify himself but the answer that Jesus gives was most certainly not what he was looking for.  When one is seeking to justify themselves, in my opinion, they are trying to clear themselves from any wrongdoing.  Being that this man was, in fact, a pro at the dealings of the Mosaic Law, he wants to be found, again in my opinion, “right” in his dealings with his fellow man.

Though his title of a lawyer was not as we use it today in a court of law, let’s think about that court of law scene for a moment.  People go to court to try and convict.  Others are there to defend or justify; presenting an excuse to the judge/jury of why they should be cleared of any charges.  Again, strictly my opinion, but to me, this man was fishing to be exonerated of any wrong toward his fellow man.  But, let’s find out Jesus’ answer in the matter.

Jesus’ Answer to the Lawyer

Luke 10:30-34 “And Jesus answering said, A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, which stripped him of his raiment, and wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead.  And by chance there came down a certain priest that way: and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side.  And likewise a Levite, when he was at the place, came and looked on him, and passed by on the other side.  But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him, And went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him.”

To answer the lawyer’s question, Jesus, as He was known to do, told a very illustrative story instead of giving a simple verbal response.  What He was about to pose would be thought-provoking and should cause some to question whether they are truly serving in the love of God.

Many of us are very familiar with this story so I won’t bore you with the obvious.  What I do what to point out is the “opposite” ingredient that plays into the mix of things in Jesus’ story.  On the one hand, we have not one, but two men who are considered righteous workers in the temple of God: the priest and the Levite.  Both men have been ordained and appointed special positions and special tasks on behalf of the temple, the people, and God.

On the other hand, we have a despised reject of Jewish society, the Samaritan.  One who most would have been considered a nobody yet became the hero of Jesus’ story and is definitive proof that no matter how others view you, you can still make an impact in this world for God.

Another “opposite” ingredient to look at is not who any of the men are; rather, their actions in coming across the beaten man.  The two, the priest and the Levite, for whatever reason chose not to help or even come near to see about the battered man.  Some say they wanted to remain ceremonially clean or the like.  We just don’t know the exact cause for why they reacted the way they did but Jesus made it a point to tell the story like this, so it is more than noteworthy to pay attention to.

To Jesus, their actions were not only opposite of the Samaritan’s, who showed compassion; but their actions were also opposite of what God was looking for.  For by the time we reach the end of the story, not in today’s printed text, Jesus asked, “Which of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbour unto him that fell among the thieves?” (Luke 10:36).

The lawyer to whom He presented the question answered, “He that shewed mercy on him,” (Luke 10:37a).  Jesus followed with this very important instruction: “Go, and do thou likewise,” (Luke 10:37b), showing what kind of service God was looking for from His people.

We serve God not just in the confines of the church building or temple; we serve God when we reach out to our fellow man and become vessels for His mercy to work through.

This was a prime teaching opportunity to let them know how they treat people matters.  Treat people as you yourself would want to be treated or how you think Jesus would treat them.  “God is love,” (1 John 4:8), and those that belong to Him should operate in love also.  Everybody wants to be loved and feel the concern of mercy and compassion this man showed, no matter their status in life.

God’s people should know how to treat people in any situation or circumstance, whether the times are favorable or not.  God’s people must respond the same way Jesus did.  Philippians 2:5 tells us, “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus.”  See people how Jesus sees them.  What is His attitude toward another in need?

Loving people; serving them and treating them as one would want to be treated is a priority for living as God’s people and serving Him.

As was already stated in our introduction, we are to “And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.  Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children; And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us…” (Eph. 4:32-5:2).

In order to serve God, we must serve people also.  The Good Samaritan became a great and enduring example through the ages of how through serving one’s fellow man we also serve 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 – Serving Like the Good Samaritan

Suggested Activities:

Object Lesson Idea from: “Living Love: The Parable of the Good Samaritan” (go to page 3 for the Object Lesson to lead into this lesson titled, The Present Predicament )

“Bible Verse Review Activity” (Click to find a great game that’s easy and inexpensive to help students memorize Bible verses)

In getting across the idea of “Serving,” I used crafts incorporating the hands since that’s what we use the most to serve and help others (see below). Enjoy!

LACE IT UP HANDPRINT:

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

 

HANDPRINT NECKLACE:

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

Adult Journal Page: Serving Like the Good Samaritan

Kid’s Journal Page: Serving Like the Good Samaritan

Blank Journal Pages (to cover what interest your class): Blank Adult and Kid’s Journal Pages

Draw the Scene: Serving Like the Good Samaritan Draw the Scene

Word Search: Serving Like the Good Samaritan Word Search  Answers: Serving Like the Good Samaritan Word Search Answers

Crossword: Serving Like the Good Samaritan Crossword  Answers: Serving Like the Good Samaritan Crossword Answers

Word Scramble: Serving Like the Good Samaritan Word Scramble  Answers: Serving Like the Good Samaritan Word Scramble Answers

“The Good Samaritan Bible Lesson” (Here you will find many, many activities to choose from including WWJD? activities, coloring pages, take-home pages, and more.  Enjoy!)

“The Good Samaritan Crafts for Kids”

“The Good Samaritan Bible Lesson/Little Blots of Faith”

“Bible Fun Zone/Good Samaritan”

“The Good Samaritan” (Several unique activities, printables and story illustrations for the telling of the lesson.  Enjoy!)

“First Aide Bag” (A very original, cheap and easy craft your students can put together.  I would suggest adding a bible verse from the lesson as a reminder of what was covered.  Enjoy!)

“Doctor’s Bag”

“I Can Be a Service Star” (Sugardoodle.net)

“Serving Others”

 

 

 

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

Photo: Pixabay

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

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

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

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

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

Going Against Human Nature

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Love Like God Loves

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Suggested Activities:

Adult Journal Page – Love Your Enemies

Kid’s Journal Page – Going the Second Mile

Memory Verse: Love Your Enemies Memory Verse

Draw the Scene: Love Your Enemies Draw the Scene

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

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

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

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

“Love Your Enemy Children’s Lesson”

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

“Love Your Enemies Activity Sheets”

“What Would Jesus Do Printable Craft”

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

“What Would Jesus Do, Mirror”

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

 

Sunday School Lesson – “God Created Mankind” Genesis 1:26-2:3, 7

Photo Credit: Pixabay/Prawny

VERSE DISCOVERY: Genesis 1:26-2:3, 7 (KJV, Public Domain)

Do you know how special you are?  Do you know of the creative design that brought you here today?  Can you fully appreciate your uniqueness, being an altogether separate creature from all others God created?

As part of the human race, you are the climax of God’s design.  Oh, the stars and objects above serve their purpose and are beautiful to look at, but they are not you.  And, as we look out on the horizon to view nature, we may sigh pleasantly at the glorious way the panoramic view displays His beautiful scene before us – but no scene is more beautiful to Him than those who were made in His image, in His likeness.  These were specially designed for a relationship with the Father.

As the creation story unfolds, may we find our place in it, our origin in it, and may those findings render a new appreciation for how special you are in the eyes of God. 

God Created Man

Genesis 1:26-27 “And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.  So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.”

For six days, God had been creating.  With light created and darkness separated, both being defined for what they are; and with land, plant life, celestial bodies spoken into existence and put in their places, the Creation story of the beginning of everything we know is off to a beautiful start, and it is all good in the sight of the Creator.

With sea, land, and air creatures created and placed in their proper places, it is time for the crème de la crème of all His creation to be formed.  That apex of God’s design comes when He decides to inhabit this grand earth He made with mankind.

Mankind is the most unique of all God’s creation for several reasons (and we’ll discuss those reasons in a bit), but let’s hone in on the word “unique” for a moment in relation to all the elements of the Creation story already put in place.

Mankind has nothing like himself that dwells on the face of the earth outside of other members of the human race.  Yes, I know there is a scientific theory that tries to over-exaggerate similarities between humans and other species when, in fact, there are no other species identical to the man God formed out of the dust of the ground as his beginning origins (Genesis 2:7).  And, I know there are other theories that express many ideas of suppositions of how we came to be the people we are in the place that we are in, but the Bible gives the very straightforward facts of not only our origin but also why we are so special in our uniqueness among all other creation.

For we are made in the image/likeness of God.  God, Himself, spoke on that sixth day of creation and said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.”

The words us and our leaves many asking to whom God is talking to when He is speaking.  Now, again, while many people have theorized several answers to that questioning, the most biblically based, solid answer, revolves around the Trinity.  Biblical evidence shows clearly God the Father, the Son (John 1:1-14; Colossians 1:16-17), and the Holy Spirit (Genesis 1:2) being present at the time of Creation.

With God having no physical likeness, the image/likeness we were made to be like has more to do with the way He created man from the inside out.  Though His thoughts are above our thoughts (Isaiah 55:8-9), God gave us the capacity to think or operate intellectually and emotionally as He does.  With that comes the ability to reason, to love, etc.  We are not God, but apart from all other creatures, we are His likeness upon the earth.

In an article I previously published, Our True Image, I wrote:

“I believe when God spoke in the beginning that we were made in His image (see Genesis 1:27), He spoke of more than just our facial features, our physique, our height, weight, and so on.  He spoke of our representation of something the boundaries of those outer measurements can’t comprehend.  He spoke of our likeness of Him.  At that point of creation, when it came time for humanity to be put on the earth, God looked to Himself to snap a portrait of who we are truly designed to be.

Now, do I mean that you are supposed to be God sitting on the throne in heaven?  No.  But, what I do mean is we are carriers of so much more.  The portrait of our lives is made to expose and reflect His glory of the greater.” (WordForLifeSays.com)

Another part of the uniqueness of created humanity is he is to reign and have dominion over all other creatures created.  David expressed in the Psalms the reign of man over all “the works of thy hands,” (Psalm 8:6-8), and Hebrews agrees (Hebrews 2:7-8).

What this means is, as representatives of God on this earth, we are to diligently care for and steward the things of the earth.  One day, the earth will pass way in the great finale of the end times, but until then, every human being is given the order to care for this temporary home of ours, and all the other creatures in it.

Through the years, the word dominion has become synonymous with words like power, authority, and control.  And, that’s a right interpretation of the word.  But, what’s more important is how that word is being carried out.  Are we abusing, taking for granted, and treating recklessly those things placed under our control?  Or, are we managing everything in a godly fashion and taking proper care of what has been given us?  As His image-bearers, we have the responsibility to be responsible with His creation.

Both men and women carry this responsibility for both are made in the image of God (Genesis 1:27).  Each bears their own qualities that set them apart as male and female, but each are image-bearers created by God and His perfect design for all humans.  There are separate identifying markers for each sex, but as part of the human race they are made in his own image.  Jesus once said, “Have you not read that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female,” (Matthew 19:4).  Both have important roles in His creation.

Genesis 1:28 “And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.”

Then God spoke His blessings over them with the charge to be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth.  God blessed them to be productive that the earth might be filled, the same way He called all other creatures to multiply (Genesis 1:20, 25).  As God placed in all other living species of His creation the ability to produce (procreate) that the earth may teem with life, so did He with humanity.  Multiplication equals increase.  Increase equals a filled earth.

And, with that blessing of fruitfulness, came also the reiteration of their responsibility to subdue and have dominion… over every living thing…  God placed mankind in charge.  This may make us special, and some may abuse that top-of-the-food-chain-status, but the greater reminder is that with such a heavy charge there comes more to answer for on how things/creatures/nature was used under our control/charge.  Our job is to be righteous rulers over everything God has placed in our care.

Genesis 1:29-30 “And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat.  And to every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to every thing that creepeth upon the earth, wherein there is life, I have given every green herb for meat: and it was so.”

As God has called us to the position of caring for other creatures in creation, He shows mankind some of the ways He cares for them and all living things as He supplies for their needs.  Specified seeds, fruits, herbs, and vegetation would be the meat or food nutritional source for all creatures such as beasts… fowls… and everything that creepeth upon the earth along with mankind which God created.  He gave or furnished every living thing with all that they need to survive, flourish, and multiply.

Genesis 1:31 “And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day.”

When God took in the scope of everything He created, He saw it was very good.  Everything was perfectly original, perfectly created, and perfectly placed.  There was no intrusion in the tranquility of His beautiful design.  Sin was not present, and the earth was as glorious as He envisioned it – unstained and unaffected by the mess we see today.

Once I wrote, “Our original design was not to live in an environment of sin and decay.  It was not designed to exist with dead and dreary things.  It was designed to behold the beauty of God through His creation.  We were designed to live in God’s best!” (Made for Green/WordForLifeSays.com). 

And, when He saw His best on display, God viewed it as very good, culminating the sixth day of creation.

God Rested After Creation

Genesis 2:1-3 “Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them.  And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made.  And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made.”

After everything was finished, God rested on the seventh day.  This day would later be referred to as Sabbath, which means “rest” or “cease.”  It would be a day set aside out of the week that demanded nothing but rest and time to worship (Exodus 20:8-11).  It also became a sign between God and His people (Exodus 31:13).

This holy precedent started with God Himself.  There are fewer things in the world than that which brings one the satisfaction of a job well done.  What God did was perfect.  There was no further need for work, therefore work ended, and He ordained the seventh day as a time of rest.

God made this day a priority and sanctified it, which means He set is apart as holy.  He did this because of or in honor of the fact that he had rested from all his work which God created and made.

There is something uniquely beautiful in the idea of the Creator of all sitting back and being pleased with everything before Him in perfectness.  I can’t help but imagine how happy His heart must have been at that time.  Did it all put a smile on His face?  Does it put a smile on your face thinking about it?  It does for me.

Genesis 2:7 “And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.”

As chapter 2 progresses, it describes and reiterates, with additional detail, certain aspects of the creation story, including the specifics on mankind being formed… of the dust of the ground (compare Genesis 3:19, 23).   

Opposite of everything that was spoken in creation, or the way the animals were called forth from the ground (Genesis 1:24; 2:19), mankind was the only uniquely one formed to be an image-bearer of God.  This one, he was special, and he required a special design.

See, I told you that you were unique and special in His design.  Then, God breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.  Mankind is alive because of God.  Should God take away or withhold that precious breath, mankind would cease to live (see Psalm 104:21; Job 34:14-15).  “Thus saith God the LORD, he that created the heavens, and stretched them out; he that spread forth the earth, and that which cometh out of it; he that giveth breath unto the people upon it, and spirit to them that walk therein,” (Isaiah 42:5). 

God created mankind, and that’s the one and only true answer for our existence on this earth.  You and I are living souls because of 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 – God Created Mankind

Suggested Activities:

Fingerprints uniquely tell who we are. There are no two sets alike, not even for identical twins.  Your fingerprints tell of the individual God made you to be; that you are individually special to God.  Using a stamper and the fingers of students, have each rub a thumb or ink on the stamper pad and stamp a clear paper with their fingerprint.  Have them look carefully at it.  Students can even exchange them with one another to see their own uniqueness in the way God created them.  Tie this example into today’s lesson.

Younger students can work with moldable playing dough. For this example, homemade is best (I like the idea of using it organically, with no colors for the forming of man effect), but of course, any kind of moldable dough for playing will do.  Have students form “man” from the blob you give them.  Discuss how easy or hard it was.  Discuss the intricate details it took for God to make us. (Note: if you are using homemade dough and if time allows, let the children help you make the dough, to really get involved in the “creation” of the people they make.  Find a recipe for a non-cooking version.  There are many online to choose from.)

Younger students can also put together a Made in God’s Image people necklace. Print from the outlines (found online at wordforlifesays.com) the people templates on cardstock or glue to construction paper.  Decorate each one as you want.  Punch a hole in the top and string through with yard or something similar.  You can even add beads or cut up straws for a nice decorated effect.  They can wear it proudly around their neck because they are Made in God’s Image. PDFMade In God’s Image Craft

Adult Journal Page: Adult Journal Page – Made in the Image of God

Kid’s Journal Page: Kid’s Journal Page – Made in the Image of God

Draw the Scene: God Created Mankind Draw the Scene

Memory Verse: God Created Mankind Memory Verse

Word Search: God Created Mankind Word Search  Answers: God Created Mankind Word Search Answers

Crossword: God Created Mankind Crossword  Answers: God Created Mankind Crossword Answers

Word Scramble: God Created Mankind Word Scramble  Answers: God Created Mankind Word Scramble Answers

 

 

 

Sunday School Lesson – “When Sin Entered In”

Photo: Pixabay

VERSE DISCOVERY: Genesis 3:1-15 (KJV, Public Domain)

Failure is something I, as well as all humanity, have grappled with throughout their life.  Whether you want to give it a cute name like “fumbling the ball,” or call it as it is – “missing the mark,” they all declare the same thing in the end – I messed up.  I have sinned.

Sin, unfortunately, is something a lot of people don’t pay attention to, have become desensitized to, or simply brush off with no thought of confession or consequences.  Whereas, others, it brings them to their knees in humility seeking reconciliation with God and man.

Sin and the effects of sin is something every human will encounter because once sin entered the world it contaminated everything and everyone.  The paradise of what was will be shut away from humanity till the saved souls experience it one day in eternity.

“By one man sin entered into the world,” (Romans 5:12), and this lesson covers the events surrounding that dreadful day which has become known as the Fall; the day when sin entered in. 

The Fall

Genesis 3:1-7 “Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?  And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden: But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die.  And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.  And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.  And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons.”

God has, from the beginning, given a precious gift to the man He created: the gift of free will.  And, from the beginning, it has been man’s responsibility to use it in a just and righteous way.  With that, we see the man has had the ability to choose to do right or to choose to do wrong.  In these verses, the waters of that free will have been tested, and as a result, humanity succumbed to temptation and sin entered the world.

The serpent who appears in the story has become synonymous to us today and throughout the Bible as the devil or Satan.  Although in the form of a creature which is being used by the devil, this adversary of old (see Revelation 12:9) has come on the scene for one purpose – to disrupt the good that God created.  To work against Him in rebellion any way he can.

And to do that, he had to get to the mind of His beloved creature, man, by casting doubt about God.  The very nature of the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field.  That subtilty speaks of his cunningness.  Where a cunning character is in this respect, there is deception and falsehood with the craftiness to work both.  Therefore, whatever he says cannot be trusted and unfortunately for Eve, she and Adam find out this sad truth the hard way and a little too late.

Questioning the woman, as if they had already been engaged in an active dialogue, but weren’t, he asked, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?  This type of questioning lives up to the nature of this tempter.  It cast doubt where doubt probably wasn’t once before.  It asks one to focus a little harder on the forbidden object when quite possibly, it wasn’t the focus before.  A hands-off approach was alright with her until one question made her rethink the truth of what was.

Not fully comprehending or even slightly knowing of his deception, and the deceit behind his inquiry, Eve engaged fully into conversation with the serpent when she responded.  She told him what they may and may not eat.

God supplied plenty for them.  Remember, man was the last of God’s creation and God had everything in order to properly sustain and fulfill all that they would need.  With Eden bringing to mind a picture of paradise, in the lushness of what was available to them, it would be more than enough that they had at their disposal to use and enjoy.

We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden.  Notice the s on the world trees, making them plural.  Plural choices were available to them.  Plural delicacies abounded in the garden.  There were multiple things to eat and choose from with only one being prohibited from them.

That one came with restrictions.  That one came with the only rule they had to follow to be obedient to God: But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die.  This she knew.  Thus far, this is what she abided by.

Now, the enemy works in his cunning ways to get her to do the very thing that God hath said not to do.  First, he lied and convinced her the consequences aren’t as serious as she had been led to believe.  Once that kind of thinking enters in and one begins to mull over the idea, it becomes easier to shirk the responsibility of those consequences with total disregard.  He told her, Ye shall not surely die.

Note: Notice the conflict here in what God says versus what the serpent/devil says.  God’s Word is tried, true, and solid.  God’s Word is always right, and never flawed or wrong (Proverbs 30:5).  God’s Word is everlasting, and it is fixed in heaven (Psalm 119:89).  Anything that speaks against what God says, then and now, and does not line up with His Word, is not of God, and it’s wrong.  It’s of the devil.

Eve had a choice to make.  Who was she going to listen to?

Secondly, he planted his own seeds in that garden.  He planted seeds of doubt.  Today, we know the Bible tells us, “No good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly,” (Psalm 84:11).  But here, as he presented this “option” to go outside of the will of God, he did so by making it seem that God was holding out on them.  For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods.

The more she listened and gave space to the serpent’s sly words, the more that option to sin looked enticing to her.  Of course, right then and there she may not have seen it as sin, but anything that takes one out of the will of God, we can rest assured, is sin, no matter what it “looks like.”

When she looked at that forbidden tree she saw it had everything she wanted.  It was good for food, pleasant to the eyes, and to be desired to make one wise.  Or, as John so eloquently wrote: “the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life,” (1 John 2:16).

And, because it had everything she desired, the Bible tells us she did eat.  She sinned.  She made up in her mind to go her own way; to throw off what God said and listen to the serpent (compare James 1:14-15).

She then gave it to her husband, and he did eat, too.  Adam sinned, and he did so willfully (compare 1 Timothy 2:14).  He wasn’t deceived as Eve was and with their choices made, sin has entered the world and changed it forever (compare Romans 5:19).

Now, the eyes of them both were opened.  Now, they saw things as they never had before, and they didn’t like what they saw.  Not only did they now know what evil in this respect when previously all they knew was good; but now they knew shame, guilt, and the wrongs that came with it.  Now, they knew they were naked, and they tried to cover the nakedness by sewing fig leaves together.

Oh, how I can imagine, they probably wished they could undo it all; that things could go back to the way they were.  But, they couldn’t, and the consequences of the Fall would now come.

  The Consequences of the Fall

Genesis 3:8-15 “And they heard the voice of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God amongst the trees of the garden.  And the Lord God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou?  And he said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself.  And he said, Who told thee that thou wast naked? Hast thou eaten of the tree, whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldest not eat?  And the man said, The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat.  And the Lord God said unto the woman, What is this that thou hast done? And the woman said, The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat.  And the Lord God said unto the serpent, Because thou hast done this, thou art cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field; upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life:  And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.”

In their state of innocence, before their sin, they had intimate fellowship with God.  So, when they heard His voice, they were familiar with His presence.  Only this time, it wasn’t as welcoming as it once was.  This time, there was trepidation involved.  There were fear and uneasiness where there wasn’t before.  This time, His presence exposed their shame, so they hid themselves.  Sin and guilt marred everything!

What does hiding imply?  To hide means there is something that one does not want uncovered.  There is something that one does not want to be revealed.  They want to hide their wrong; they want to hide their sin from God amongst the trees – but, alas, this attempt is futile.

So, God called out, Where art thou?  Our God is omnipresent, which basically means He is everywhere at the same time (see Psalm 139:7-10).    And, our God is omniscient, which means He knows everything that’s going on from the inside out.  Psalm 44:21 says that He even knows “the secrets of the heart.”  With that being said, God knew exactly where Adam was and what was going on.  Trees could not hide man’s sin.  Later in history, Jonah too would find out the impossible feat of trying to hide from an all-seeing, all-knowing God.  Everything is opened to God; everything is exposed.  There is nothing hid from Him (see Hebrews 4:13).

I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself.”  Matched against the presence of God, sin will make man tremble and be afraid.  God is holy, and His people are called to be holy (1 Peter 1:16).  But, when the unholy nature of man faces God, it tries to hide.  I imagine, previously the voice of God was a comfort to Adam.  Here, in the knowledge of his sin, fear has taken over.  Sin took away peace and opened the door for all other opposing emotions.    

Who told thee thou wast naked?  Questions are designed for extracting information from an individual and securing an answer.  Once again, God knew the answer, but Adam had to fully comprehend what he had done.  Questioning will cause Adam to look inside himself for an answer; a way to reply.  “How do I answer? I would have to admit this and that.”

Hast thou eaten of the tree, whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldest not eat?  In other words, “Have you disobeyed Me?” is what God was asking.  Adam and Eve were given one rule to follow.  One rule; one command.  Did they disregard that command?

God’s word is His commands.  What God says outranks all else.  One’s real intimacy with God is revealed in how well they keep His commandments.  1 John 2:3 says, “And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments.”  The psalmist said, “Thy word I have hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee,” (Psalm 119:11).  Hiding God’s word in one’s heart will help them not to have to hide behind trees in shame later.

And the man said, The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave of the tree, and I did eat.  In the previous chapter, she was “bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh,” (Genesis 2:23).  She was the one made specifically for him.  Here, there is an almost disdainful ire about him when he talks about that woman whom thou gavest to me.  What intimacy they once shared, sin has now caused a rift in their relationship, hence the beginning of the blame game.

Note: In speaking of the blame game, notice also how Adam seemed to signify too or hint at that it was God’s fault because He is the one who gave her the woman.  Sin ruins relationships with God and with people.   

And the LORD God said unto the woman, What is this that thou hast done?  As a parent lining children up to find out who broke the lamp, God is going down the line, questioning everyone involved.  The woman’s response was, the serpent beguiled me, and I did eat.  Through that one bite of forbidden fruit knowledge was gained, and with that came the realization that she had been deceived or beguiled.  Some say hindsight has 20/20 vision.  But, the Bible says, “The just shall live by faith,” (Habakkuk 2:4).

Actions have consequences, for the good or for the bad.  Here, it was all bad.  Disobedience to God’s commands always leads one a treacherous path.  That’s why the Bible says, “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path,” (Psalm 119:105).  God’s commands shine the way to keep man from that pathway that leads to destruction.

God then speaks to the serpent.  He’s not questioning him for information.  For now, it’s time to deal with the matter at hand.  Because thou hast done this, thou art cursed.  Cursed is a word no creature wants to hear.  God has spoken again the serpent.  Upon thy belly thou shalt go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life.  The serpent would be the least favored of all animals and would pay tremendously for his part in the fall of man.

I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.  This judgement also carries with it spiritual implications of the conflict between the enemy and people, to Jesus’s ultimate victory in the end.

God’s judgement was set.  Individually, Adam and Eve received further judgements (see Genesis 3:16-19).  Collectively, paradise was lost in the heart where all that reigned once was peace, and it was lost physically in being evicted from Eden (Genesis 3:22-24).  Because, when sin enters in, it destroys everything.

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 - When Sin Entered In 

Sin Object Lesson Ideas:

“Broken and Restored Toothpick”

“Sin Separates Us from God Balloon Object Lesson”

“Sin is Gross Object Lesson”

Adult Journal Page – Adult Journal Page – Adam and Eve’s Choices

Kid’s Journal Page: Kid’s Journal Page – Adam and Eve’s Choices

Broken by Sin Puzzle: Using the pdf: Outlines People Template students can decorate their people, cut them out, and then using scissors cut their individual people into puzzle pieces.  This symbolizes the brokenness that comes by doing wrong, by sinning. (Don’t forget to supply sandwich bags so they can carry their puzzles home).

Draw the Scene: When Sin Entered In Draw the Scene

Activity Sheet: When Sin Entered In Activity Sheet

Memory Verse: When Sin Entered In Memory Verse

Word Search: When Sin Entered In Word Search  Answers: When Sin Entered In Word Search Answers

Crossword: When Sin Entered In Crossword  Answers: When Sin Entered In Crossword Answers

Word Scramble: When Sin Entered In Word Scramble  Answers: When Sin Entered Word Scramble Answers

Sunday School Lesson – “A Help Meet for Adam”

Photo: Pixabay/MiguelRPerez

VERSE DISCOVERY: Genesis 2:18-25 (KJV, Public Domain)

All throughout the Bible, God is seen as being a promoter of strong family relationships and from the beginning, these families would start with the marriage of a man and a woman.  This is and was God’s one and only design for an intimate relationship and to fulfill the commandment to be fruitful and multiply (Genesis 1:28). 

Is there anything sweeter than the absolute unity of true togetherness?  Togetherness that’s not shackled by doubts, mistrust, etc.?  Togetherness that speaks more in action than words and says, in this relationship, we come together to share life together?  Her concerns become his concerns, and vice versa.  She feels what he feels because their bond is one of unity and selfless love.  Yes, I believe in the beginning, before sin entered the picture, that sweetness existed.

And, that’s just how God intended it to be.  After the man was created, he was alone and had no one else like himself to share life with.  The animals were great and served as some source of possible companionship, but they could never fulfill the needs of the man the way someone like him would.  Animals are wonderful, and I’m an animal lover, but animals are not people.  People need people.  Humans need other humans to love and interact with to be whole and complete.

There is something integral missing in the created man’s life and God set about to remedy that situation when He made a help meet for Adam.   

 

                                                 Something Not Good                 

Genesis 2:18 “And the Lord God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.”

This lesson opens with, And the LORD God said, verifying that God Himself is the one making the statement that follows.  This is critical because it’s not only stating God’s authorship of the words but also in the actions that follow.

It is not good that the man should be alone.  At the end of everything God created He said, “It was good,” (Genesis 1:31).  But, here in this verse, something causes God to say, it is not good.  And that something is the loneliness of man, which we are assuming is the present cause for concern.  This verse specifically points out the man using a singular stance, meaning just one.  The usage of the words like this reemphasizes the power behind God’s statement of his [the man] being alone.

Think about that word alone for a minute.  It can evoke a sense of isolation even though one is not in isolation physically.  Adam was in a big, beautiful garden, but he was alone.  He was surrounded by other living creatures, yet, he was still alone.  In all of that, we get the sense that Adam longed for more.

Was Adam feeling unfilled?  Viewing the monkeys swinging in the trees together as a community or rabbits chasing each other in a game of bunny tag, did the sight dishearten Adam and make him long for more?  We don’t know.  All we do know is what Scripture tells us, and that is, man is alone and in God’s eyes, it was not good.

Adam could talk, but he had nobody like himself to converse with on a daily basis.  Adam could feel, but he had nobody like himself to share his feelings with.  Adam could embrace, but another set of arms to embrace him back was missing.  What was all of this doing to him on the inside?

Again, we don’t know.  But, for the man God created, I can imagine He did not want to see any despondency in Adam due to being alone.  So, God sought to remedy the situation.

Note: Yes, Adam could converse with God and share his daily concerns with God, but we are talking about the absence of another physical being like himself on the earth to share life with.  And, when we are thinking along those lines of questioning, remember it was God Himself who pointed out Adam’s aloneness and said it was not good.  Therefore, we cannot argue with God.

I will make him an help meet for him.  God has something special up his sleeve.  All that He created was good.  Every creature, the way He made them was perfect, but God was going to do something special for Adam.  God was going to bless him with a mate, a companion; someone whom he could share this life journey with.  God was going to fill that not good part of Adam’s life with something not only good but specially made just for him.

With His marvelous creative abilities, God said, I will make, or, I will design someone who can specifically fill that void He sees in Adam’s life.  How awesome is that!  The Bible goes into great detail to show us God’s love and care for the man, to the point of fashioning for him someone that can meet his needs on every relational level.  One that is appropriate and compatible just for him.

Genesis 2:19-20 “And out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air; and brought them unto Adam to see what he would call them: and whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof.  And Adam gave names to all cattle, and to the fowl of the air, and to every beast of the field; but for Adam there was not found an help meet for him.”

And out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast… and fowl.  Here is a reiteration of what already occurred.  There are no contradictions in the Bible.  A good Bible student will see the wording for what it is, a supportive summary of creation and continually pointing back to God as the Creator is necessary and we could never over-emphasize it enough.  Perhaps that’s why the psalmist rejoiced when he thought about it and celebrated God for it when he states, “O LORD, how manifold are thy works! in wisdom thou made them all…(Psalm 104:24; emphasis mine).  Out of all those manifold works, we see here where it is stated again that the Lord made these animals as well.

And, if we remember, when God made Adam, he was brought forth from the “dust of the ground,” (Genesis 2:7).  These reiterations of the Creation story, specifically toward living creatures, not only supports the story of the Author of Creation, but it also sets apart that special way that God takes that not good and turns it into something good (we will discuss this further in the next section).

And brought them unto Adam to see what he would call them: and whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof.  Genesis 2:15 says, “And the Lord God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it.”  I have always looked upon that verse and the verse in our lesson with the name of every living creature as jobs that were given to Adam by God.  And notice, these jobs were given before the Fall of man, before sin entered the world.

A lot of people try to distinguish why Adam was responsible for the naming of the living creatures at this meet and greet with the animals and not God.  God could’ve done it all, and yet, God has always invited mankind to participate in what He is doing.  God has never promoted laziness but has always encouraged mankind in taking on responsibility.  I think it is amazing how God is allowing Adam to work at, or speak things, as He Himself does.  He is not speaking things into creation, but he is speaking names over it and whatever Adam speaks, whatever he calls them, that was the name thereof, and God ordained it to be so.

I believe (just my opinion), that when one works at something, be it dressing a garden or naming creatures or the like, there becomes more interest and more personal involvement compelling one to invest in the care of what God already created.  With that, Adam gave names to all.

God’s observation in verse 18 begins to stand out even more in verse 20 where it states, but for Adam there was not found an help meet for him.  After naming the animals, was it now apparent, or more apparent to Adam himself that there just was no one else like him?  Again, we don’t know, but what we do know is that the reiteration of this point means that God wanted it especially noted and referenced.

Twice in this lesson, the need for a help meet appropriate for Adam is implied and stated.  Twice we sense that deep longing for companionship.  Twice we see Adam didn’t have anybody to relate to on his level.  These are all things that can be associated with the not good that God stated at the beginning of this lesson.  Nevertheless, God is getting ready to take that not good, and make something good.

Something Good

Genesis 2:21-22 “And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof; And the rib, which the Lord God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man.”

And the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept.  It was time for the first human surgery to commence.  This was not done by doctors in the medical field who have piled on degrees to learn about the human body.  This was done by Him who created the human body from the mere dust of the ground.

Awesome!

Using the first case of anesthesia, Adam slept.  As with modern day anesthesia he was completely under, knocked out, and totally unconscious.  This was done that God might create the help meet he needed as a companion, and He was going to do this in a special way.

Taking one of Adam’s ribs, God made he a woman, and brought her unto the man.”  Why did God decide to make Eve in a different way than He did Adam?  There’s a lot of speculation with no definitive answer.  All we know is God left a very detailed and illustrated version of Eve coming into existence differently than Adam.

Most seem to suggest this was done to exhibit unity in the human race as well as unity in marriage.  We do know that Genesis 1:27 states, “In the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.”  The woman may have been formed differently from the man, but she too was important; she was made also “in the image of God.” 

Then, God brought her unto the man.  As a gift most precious, the woman was presented to the man from God.  In his eyes, she was definitely something good to behold as the next verses suggest.

Genesis 2:23-25 “And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.  Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.  And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.”

Adam’s reaction when he saw Eve was priceless!  “This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh,” he exclaimed.  Some way or another, Adam was made aware of the procedure that transpired and when he saw the woman he immediately recognized her as being the result of that procedure; her as being from him.

Adam’s declaration is she is no longer just a part of his body, rather now, meaning presently, after God created her – she is fully and completely of him and from him from the inside out.  Saying bone of my bones may be a hint to the inside, and flesh of my flesh could be a hint to the outside (from the inside out).

Notice also Adam’s use of the word my twice which not only shows unity but could he be speaking as if he now has a responsibility to her and for her because she is now a permanent part of his life?

She shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.  Although I have referred to the Woman as Eve several times throughout this lesson, she does not actually take on that name until Genesis 3:20.  I referenced her as Eve for familiarity purposes.

Here, we see Adam’s first response was to call her Woman.  She was a part of man, but different from man.  Some like to say that she was the feminine side of mankind.  Regardless of what one thinks, one thing of note is that both the words Man and Woman are capitalized.  At this time their proper names weren’t being used by each other, therefore the need for capitalization of their human titles.

Notice also the emphasis placed on the phrase she was taken out of man (compare 1 Timothy 2:13; 1 Corinthians 11:8)This is the reiteration of her origin as being different from Adam and all other created beings.  They were from the ground, from dust – but, not her.  She was a special order.  She was for a purpose (compare 1 Corinthians 11:9).  She had a special role that would make her one hundred percent completely compatible for Adam.  She is that something good that would come and overshadow what was not good, and with this special design on her life, she was the perfect help meet for Adam.

Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife.  When God looked at Adam and saw that it was not good for him to be alone, we see He remedied the situation.  Now, she becomes a priority to the man.  The word cleave means to “cling.”  She was taken out of him and now his job is to adhere himself to her, stay with her and make himself available to her and to love her.  That sounds like marriage vows already.  In fact, many view this as a snapshot of what a marriage relationship should look like (compare to the Apostle Paul’s teachings in Ephesians 5:28-33).

The idea of cleaving is also showing a strong level of commitment, fostering an environment where intimacy and love can be cultivated and nourished.  It is in this relationship where those needs that were once unmet, can now be met in this God-ordained, suitable partner for life as one flesh together (compare Matthew 19:4-6; Mark 10:6-9).  Whatever brought attention to the Man’s previous “alone” state can now be fully satisfied and fulfilled with the gift of the Woman.

And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.  When my youngest was in Pre-K, I volunteered a lot at her school.  Her teacher was very thorough in all areas of subject, but had a deep appreciation and interest in art.  One of my assignments with the students was to go through an art catalog and show different works to the students (they had a field trip coming up to the museum).  I was to point out and ask about lines, shading, shapes, and such in the works.

Before releasing me to the students she made sure to emphasize the need to stay away from “inappropriate” works, namely naked works, and with good reason.  The time of Eden is over, and these types of materials are usually looked upon with a certain amount of shame.  A quick search on the internet and in books telling the story of Adam and Eve will hide their nakedness behind trees and leaves, or something else.

But, in our lesson, innocence abounded, and they were both naked… and were not ashamed.”  During this period, there was nothing present that could make them feel ashamed.  There was no sin and no wrong.  They were completely pure.  The need to cover came immediately after they sinned (see Genesis 3:6-7).  As soon as their “eyes were opened… they knew they were naked.”  But here, as God originally made them, they had no reason to be ashamed. 

Adam and Even could enjoy an unhindered relationship God blessed them with to meet the capacity of human need.  In Eve, the help meet God designed for Adam, the void that was once present could now be filled.

 

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 - A Help Meet for Adam

Adult Journal Page – Adult Journal Page – A Prayer for My Family

Kids Journal Page – Kids Journal Page – A Prayer for My Family

Better Together Craft:  Using the Better Together Craft pdf template, create this craft following the directions as a reminder of God’s great design.

Memory Verse: A Help Meet for Adam Memory Verse

Draw the Scene: A Help Meet for Adam Draw the Scene

Word Search: Help Meet for Adam Word Search  Answers: Help Meet Word Search Answers

Crossword: A Help Meet for Adam Crossword  Answers: A Help Meet for Adam Crossword Answers

Word Scramble: A Help Meet for Adam Word Scramble  Answers: A Help Meet for Adam Word Scramble Answers