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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sing!

Sing!                     

Sing!

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

Sing!

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

Just, Sing!

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

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

So, SING!

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

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

Make a Joyful Noise

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For Our God is Great

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

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

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

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

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

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

We, His People, Worship Him

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Suggested Activities:

Adult Journal Page: Adult Journal Page – Psalm of Praise

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

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

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

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

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

Draw the Scene: Joyful Noise Draw the Scene

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

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

 

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

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

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

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“Straw Pan Flute” from Classic-play.com

“A Heart of Worship” from Ministry to Children

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

“Praise the Lord” from Childrensministry.com

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

“Praising God with Your Hands” from Ezinearticles.com

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

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

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

“Praise the Lord” Coloring Page from Church House Collection

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

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Sunday School Lesson – “The Prodigal Son” Luke 15:11-24

Photo: Pixabay/pumukel

VERSE DISCOVERY: Luke 15:11-24 (KJV, Public Domain)

Man’s failure and God’s redemptive work is the whole story of the Bible.  From Genesis to Revelation; from the Fall to last words of Christ in the Bible that state, “Surely I come quickly,” (Rev. 22:20), God has sought a relationship with mankind that would eventually lead into eternity.  No other story in the Bible demonstrates this sought for relationship better than that of the Prodigal Son.

In it, we see the rebellion of man.  But, also in it, we see the love of the Father looking for His lost child.  One’s eternity will be predicated on if one made the same choice as the Prodigal – to turn back to the Father, repent and rest in His love, and let Him restore.

The Prodigal’s Request

Luke 15:11-12 “And he said, A certain man had two sons: And the younger of them said to his father, Father, give me the portion of goods that falleth to me. And he divided unto them his living.”

The Pharisee’s had a propensity for thinking they knew better than Jesus.  Many of Jesus’ actions were frowned upon by them.  Little did they know His mission was to seek and to save them that are lost, (Luke 19:10).  To do this, He often stepped out of the box most in His time would not.  Their comfort zone didn’t allow them to spend time with the baser sorts of the world and when Jesus did, He was talked about and misunderstood.  His motives were of pure love and showing mankind there was a better way.  He didn’t mind teaching to any who had an ear to hear including “publicans and sinners,” (Luke 15:1-2).

His focus was to teach them, as well as the religious elite, the Father loves the world (John 3:16) and the salvation He seeks to give and the relationship He wants to have is extended to all mankind.  Every human life is valuable to Him; therefore, He will rejoice when even just one of those lost ones becomes found.

To demonstrate this, He told stories we have come to know as parables.  These heavenly nuggets of truth illustratively depict the Father’s desire to be in constant communion with us.  When that bond between Father and creation was broken by sin, His love was not, and He celebrates with all of heaven the one who turns back to Him.

Before reaching the story of the prodigal son, Jesus told two lost and found stories regarding sheep and a coin (see Luke 15:3-10).  These are things, property if you will, who have no eternal value in them.  Once they have expired their use here on earth that’s all there is.  There is no soul to worry about in these “objects” for eternity.  Yet, people get really upset when property is messed with; when things that can be replaced disappear.

Jesus knows His audience.  He knows the value they put on these “things.”  He knows when a disappeared object is restored and found happiness soon follows.  To bring it all into perspective He adds in Luke 15:7, 10 the joy that all of heaven experiences “over one sinner that repenteth.”  Some get happy over found objects, but heaven rejoices over found people.  Unlike those objects, people have eternal value.  They do have souls to worry about and when one is restored in proper fellowship with the Father – oh, what a day that will be!

Priming the pump, if you will, with those parables, Jesus further explains in more detail using human relationships, something not as easily dismissed as a story of a sheep or a coin.  He tells of a father and his two sons, one of which is dubbed forever as the prodigal.

What made him a prodigal?  His reckless lifestyle of squandering money and resources to please his immediate pleasure of the flesh to live lavishly made him so.  Not wanting to wait until his father died, one day the younger of the two boys, the prodigal son, went to his father and said, “Father, give me the portion of goods that falleth to me,” (Luke 15:12a).  To some modernist, this may not seem like a big deal.  Nowadays, some like to give out portions of inheritance so that they can see their kids enjoy what would have been left to them.

But, in Jesus’ day, this was an insult.  His father was apparently still alive and very vibrant in health.  He had many years ahead of him and was nowhere near to being on his death bed.  But this selfish son couldn’t wait that long.   He wanted his portion now.  Pushing forth in this manner was not only a disrespectful sentiment toward his own father, but he was seeking to usurp the tradition of the older son receiving first.  According to law, the older son would also receive a double portion because of his firstborn status (see Deut. 21:17).

The Bible doesn’t go into detail about the father’s reactions.  Was he taken aback by the younger son’s request?  Did something in his behavior lead the father to believe this day was coming?  We don’t know.  But we do know surprisingly the father agreed to the request and “he divided unto them his living,” (Luke 15:12).  With the word “them” included, we can only assume that both sons at that time received their inheritance.

The Prodigal’s Riotous Living

Luke 15:13-14 “And not many days after the younger son gathered all together, and took his journey into a far country, and there wasted his substance with riotous living. And when he had spent all, there arose a mighty famine in that land; and he began to be in want.”

Not wasting much time, “not many days after the younger son gathered all together, and took his journey into a far country, and there wasted his substance with riotous living,” (Luke 15:13).  As if his original demanding of an early inheritance was not offensive and dishonorable enough, this rebellious son took all that was now his and left.

He took his father’s hard-earned money and resources which he spent a lifetime accumulating and put a huge distance between himself and his family.  Instead of loving the father more for what he had received and cleaving to him, he sowed seeds of division.  Acting like a spoiled brat (as one would call him today), he separated himself from the reach of his father and his jurisdiction, and off he went “into a far country,” (Luke 15:13). 

Reading the text, we see this younger son’s wrong lifestyle and choices caught up with him.  Judging by the robe, ring, and feast later given at the end of the parable, I am supposing his father to have been a man of considerable wealth.  Meaning his portion of inheritance was no chump change.  He had to have arrived at that far country with a considerable sum of money.  With one wrong decision leading to another, and then another, extravagantly spending here and there, he squandered his money and “wasted his substance with riotous living,” (Luke 15:13). 

His irresponsibility went far beyond just misspending and purchasing items without regard.  His lifestyle knew no restraint.  The son exposed himself to a free for all, anything goes pattern of behavior, he was not privy to under his father’s roof.  He may not have to answer to his father any longer but, life and the choices he made, will demand one.  Eventually, what he sowed he is going to reap (Gal. 6:7) and he will begin to understand the real impact of his actions.

With a famine befalling the country and no longer with the privilege of money and friends at his disposal, “he began to be in want,” (Luke 15:14).  Never in his life did he ever have to go without, but now just the basics of life eluded him, and he was destitute.  He was poor beyond measure.  One can lack money and still have some sort of familial support or a soul to confide in and depend upon.  He had none. His lifestyle didn’t promote the faithfulness of human support to see him through his difficult ordeal.  Any friends he had probably came and went with his money.  Now, his situation is about to get even more desperate.

The Prodigal Hits Rock Bottom

Luke 15:15-16 “And he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country; and he sent him into his fields to feed swine.  And he would fain have filled his belly with the husks that the swine did eat: and no man gave unto him.”

And, as they say, “desperate times call for desperate measures.”  With that, “he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country; and he sent him into his fields to feed swine,” (Luke 15:15).  Becoming a citizen of a country means you agree to be one of them now.  You agree to abide by and uphold their laws and traditions.  Depending on the country you could be asked to totally acclimate to their culture and give up all previous markers of identity that made you, you.

In his desperation, he felt he had no choice.  He was starving and without residence and he needed to secure employment just to live.  Being in no position to negotiate, he had to take what he could even if it was something totally against his upbringing.  He had to feed the swine (Luke 15:15).  The Jewish people do not eat or deal with anything pig related.  To them, these unclean creatures were the lowest of the low, and yet his employment now causes him to care for them.

If his situation couldn’t get any lower, we read his desperation was teetering on the side of despair and total hopelessness.  With no dignity left, and without regard to propriety, he began to desire the slop the pigs were eating: “he would fain have filled his belly with the husks that the swine did eat: and no man gave until him,” (Luke 15:16).  This is what one calls a rock-bottom scenario.  He was about as down as down could get.

How was he to come out of this?

The Prodigal Returns, Repents and is Restored

Luke 15:17-24 “And when he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my father’s have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger!  I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee, And am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants.  And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him.  And the son said unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son.  But the father said to his servants, Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet: And bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat, and be merry: For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry.”

After the reality of a situation so bad he was willing to eat the slop of pigs, the prodigal son was hit with an even bigger dose of reality.  His destructive lifestyle had taught him a lesson or two the hard way: 1) The grass is not always greener on the other side, and 2) What he had, to begin with, was not so bad after all.  This is one of those moments when the obvious is made clear and people say if it was a snake it would have bit you.

Therefore, he said, “How many hired servants of my father’s have bread enough to eat and to spare, and I perish with hunger!  I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee, And am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants,” (Luke 15:17-19). 

It’s amazing how a humiliating and humbling experience can open one’s eyes to true blessings that were already there.  In his coming to himself moment, his eyes were opened to many things: 1) His eyes were opened to the fact that even the servants in his father’s house were better off than him right now.  While living there did he ever stop and think about their work or appreciate the fact that he had servants to help care for his home and livelihood, dependable people who worked hard to make sure everything was cared for?  He knew that right now they were not in want as he was.  He was perishing with hunger.  Though a son by birth, they fared better than he at this moment; 2) His eyes were opened to his sin.  He realized, not just for the sake of needing food and roof over his head, that he had wronged his father.  His foray out into the world made him realize his blunder.  Notice also, he readily admitted that he had not only wronged his father but heaven as well.  Sin impacts one’s relationships with people and God; 3) His eyes were opened to his now unworthy state.  Claiming his early inheritance and distancing himself from his father meant he wanted no more dealings with him.  He knows he could be disowned from the privilege of being called “son.”  Yet, he is willing, if his father is willing, to secure employment there and work as a “hired servant.”

He sought a complete turnaround in the life he messed up.  With great resolve to get back to where he belongs, “he arose and came to his father,” (Luke 15:20).   Little did he know, despite his selfish behavior his father never stopped loving him and never stopped looking for him.  “When he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him,” (Luke 15:20). 

This is that type of rejoicing we see in the two previous parables of the lost sheep and the lost coin made even more alive by the returning of the lost son.  The father who is representing our heavenly Father has compassion and rejoices over the repentance of the lost.  As I stated at the beginning of this article, this has been the whole story of the Bible.  Man’s lost state meets with God’s compassionate redemption.  Wow!!

Every time someone leaves the world of sin behind and comes back to the Father, He is overjoyed.  Heaven is singing and shouting praises.  People matter to God.  Lost people are loved by God.  His strongest desire is to see them come back home in His loving arms where they belong.  What an eye-opening picture this parable presents.

The son readily admitted his failure to his father and confessed his sins (see Luke 15:21).  Thinking to come back as a servant, how big his eyes must have gotten when he heard the command, “Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet: And bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat, and be merry: For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry,” (Luke 15:22-24). 

Instead of disowning him and putting him to work, the father received him with joy and restored his position as his son (signified by adorning him with the best robe, ring, and shoes – all markers of his position in the family).  This went way beyond his farthest dream could imagine when he was hungering and wishing for at least some pig slop to eat.  He was totally restored!

This is God’s end desire for all, including the lost.  He wants to welcome them home and put on them the identifying markers that they are His child and they are restored.  Those that are spiritually dead He wants to make alive once more.  If one finds themselves currently in a prodigal state of living, without hesitation I plead with you to turn back to our heavenly Father and let Him restore you. Experience His compassion of salvation offered through our Lord Jesus Christ.

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 Prodigal Son

Suggested Activities:

Object Lesson: “Three Wishes” (Here you will find a great object lesson/lesson introduction including group activities such as “Balloon Art” and “Prodigal Son Puppet.”  Enjoy!)

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

Draw the Scene: The Prodigal Son Draw the Scene

Memory Verse: The Prodigal Son Memory Verse

Prodigal Son Welcome Home Party Hat: When the lost son came home his father celebrated.  Simply print the PDF (whichever version you like best  I couldn’t decide which one I liked more, so I leave it up to you: Prodigal Son Party Hat  or Prodigal Son Party Hat 2 (both options are shown at the bottom) with verse onto cardstock. Color and decorate. I added a little pom pom on the top.  Another option is to glue pom poms all over instead of coloring the stars if you wish.  The only limit is your and your student’s imagination.  Punch holes in the side and string with yarn.  There you have it.  Enjoy!

PARTY HAT 1 WITH SMALLER PIG FACE

PARTY HAT 2 WITH LARGER PIG FACE

Word Search: The Prodigal Son Word Search  Answers: The Prodigal Son Word Search Answers

Crossword: The Prodigal Son Crossword  Answers: The Prodigal Son Crossword Answers

Word Scramble: The Prodigal Son Word Scramble  Answers: The Prodigal Son Word Scramble Answers

Related Activities:

“Prodigal Son Activities”

“Parable: Prodigal Son” (Awesome lesson ideas and printables your students are sure to love.  Enjoy!)

“Paper Bag Pig Puppet”

“Pig Mask”

“The Prodigal Son Pig Pen Craft” (Great, demonstrative lesson idea for the students to learn more about the prodigal son’s wrong choices.  Scroll down to craft and enjoy!)

“Teaching Kids Forgiveness/Prodigal Son” (This is an easy and awesome craft idea your students are sure to enjoy that reiterates the true nature of this lesson.  Enjoy!)

“The Prodigal Son Pictures for this lesson” (These pictures help tell the story of this lesson. Enjoy!)

“The Prodigal Son Flipchart”

“The Lost Son Comes Home PDF Storybook”

Sunday School Lesson – “The Christian Race” Hebrews 12:1-13

 

Photo: Pixabay

VERSE DISCOVERY: Hebrews 12:1-13 (KJV, Public Domain)

On your marks.  Get set.  Go!  Once you have accepted Jesus Christ into your life as your personal Savior you have officially entered the Christian race.  The prize is before you and the contests are around you, and the only way to make it to the finish line is by focusing on He who paved the way before you.  The struggles may seem hard at times, but Jesus promised, “He that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved,” (Matthew 24:13).

Endurance is the key and although troubles seem to catch us off guard, we are reminded that we are not the only ones suffering; we are not alone in our pursuit to live like Christ and yet face adversity.  Others have gone before us, including our Lord.  Let their testimony encourage the weary and faint of heart to press on through the contentions of this life that we may gain the crown of life in the next.

Our Focus

Hebrews 12:1-4 “Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds.  Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin.”

In the chapter prior to this, we have some of the greatest sources of encouragement recorded not only in God’s Word but in the world.  We have, as the people of God, dubbed it the Hall of Fame of Faith; and, rightfully so.  In that chapter, we see a concentrated version of God’s mighty acts performed through and for those who followed hard after Him in faith.  Their stories are amazing, and their examples are a testimony of how to do life while still holding on to the promises of God; how to make it to the end even when some personally didn’t see the fulfillment of said promises.

These people who have gone before us can testify that the road wasn’t always easy.  They can tell their story of how they tried to do the work of God and people acted adversely toward them and did not respond the way they had hoped, or the trials they faced on the way to their particular promise were heavy at times.  They can let the cat out of the bag about how they were mistreated, used and abused because their desire was to fulfill the call of God on their lives.  They are a “great cloud of witnesses” that can testify and say, “I’ve been there and done that.  Just hold on to God’s unchanging hand and He will see you through.”

“Let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us.”  Most Olympians and accomplished runners in any race strive to enter the competition with as little baggage as possible.  Clothing is kept to a minimum, as much as decency will allow.  Preparations for physical strength and the shedding of unwanted weight that can prove to be a hindrance were made before one foot touches the starters block.

Why?  To give the athlete the best possible chance of winning.

Jesus wants us to make it to the end of our race.  He wants us to come in victorious as the winners He knows we are in Him.  That can’t happen if we allow people, and stuff, and sin bog us down.  The feet that were meant to run like they had wings attached rather sink as if stones were wrapped around their ankles.  Therefore, the author of Hebrews commands us to “lay aside” everything that wants to hold us back; everything that stands as an obstacle to our spiritual success; everything that works against our salvation preventing us from experiencing the fullness of joy we have in Christ Jesus.

Those in this world compete for trophies, but our competition in our Christian race is for a prize this world can’t offer.  We must do as Paul instructed and, “press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:14).  We can’t do that carrying the extra “weight” of worries and “sin” of this world.

“Let us run with patience the race that is set before us.”  Notice the word “us” written here.  That word is inclusive and tells us that we all have our own race to run that is “set before us.”  The track I am on may not look like yours, but we’re still in this together, each running the course that’s ahead of them.  The things I fight with may not be the same for you, but we are altogether battling against things that try to stop our progression in Christ.

This was especially true for the original readers of this letter who were suffering through times of persecution and hardship.  I can imagine some lying awake at night or hiding out in some undisclosed location wondering about the promises of God through the murkiness of the pain they were experiencing.  I don’t care what anybody tells you, nobody likes to experience troubles, but the soul that can hold on will see the light at the end of the tunnel.  It may not shine as you supposed it would, but it will be there nonetheless as a testimony to the glory of God working in your life as well.

But, to continue this course, in spite of it all, requires “patience;” endurance.  Going back to the picture of an athlete preparing for the competition, they stretch their bodies past normal limits in order to condition it for the race.  They add on extra time and additional boundaries to push past in order to get their endurance and stamina up so that they can power through the most difficult times.  They mold, shape, and work their bodies to be fit for the fight.

Here, the writer is giving us the same advice in the spiritual.  We must purposely trust God and push past some stuff we see now to build up our faith and give us the strength to make it to the end.  We will never be able to power through the competitions of this life if we don’t allow our faith muscles to be conditioned for the battle.

“Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross.”  Jesus, once again, stands as our perfect example of not only how to run the race but how to endure during the process, and one thing I wrote about in a previous article was His “Focus Shift” (I encourage you to read the entire article).  Jesus, while going through the worse thing He could ever possibly endure, didn’t dwell on His current situation or even the enemies at hand, He was more concerned about the welfare of others; He gained a heavenly perspective for souls and salvation that we can only hope to emulate as we look to Him.

Through the trials and tribulations we may face in our own race, we are told to gain a new perspective as well; we are told to shift our focus from ourselves and look to Jesus.  In His life and His obedience, He has gone the road before us to show us how to live and walk in accordance with the Father’s will and never give up.

He is the “author and finisher of our faith.”  He is the originator and completer of our faith.  He is our soul’s pioneer, if you will (a word you often hear referenced when discussing this topic).  He went before us into uncharted territory to gain heavenly ground for each one of us.  Jesus Christ has secured everything we need under the faith umbrella to live this life the way God is calling us to live.

 “Who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross.”  The cross and the process of dying on the cross were ugly.  But, the results that would come from the cross were beautiful and brought joy to the heart of our Savior.  One of my favorite articles written is titled “Reap Rejoicing.”  In that I wrote:

“No one could ever put into words the pain of what it felt like to hang on that cross and bear the sins of the world.  But, as He hung there, with blood pouring down, He was in the gathering process.  That’s why He couldn’t come down because even as He was nailed and left to die, He with great sorrow and tears, was working at gathering that would eventually lead to rejoicing.

What a clear head and frame of mind our Lord kept through it all.  Most of us would have went into survival mode under such duress, thinking of self.  Jesus went to survival mode, too.  Not for Himself rather, “To seek and to save that which was lost,” (Luke 19:10, KJV).”

Therefore, He “endured” the course before Him with “joy” for souls like us and becomes our prime example of how to follow the path of faith.  As the “author and finisher of our faith;” the beginning and end – He showed us how to run our race.

“Despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.”  The cross was just not about pain, but it was about “shame.”  Jesus hung on the cross naked – shame!  Jesus took on the curse of sin for humanity – shame!  Jesus was abused, beaten, and tossed about as nobody worth considering; just another criminal – shame!  Yet, He took any and all shame that would seek to bind us.  He didn’t give in to the pull to turn tail and run.  He took it all on Himself and completed fully the work of the cross and is “set down at the right hand of the throne of God.”  He finished His race and gained His reward and lives forever to show us how to do it.

“Consider him!”  He “endured!”  He was wrongfully accused and wrongfully abused due to the “contradiction of sinners against himself.”  Jesus spoke rightly when He said, “He that is not with me is against me…” (Matthew 12:30), and at the time of the cross His body bore the marks of their opposition and hatred toward Him – yet, He still refused to give up.  Even when the taunting tongues said, “He saved others; himself he cannot save. If he be the King of Israel, let him now come down from the cross, and we will believe him,” (Matthew 27:42); He held on and endured the cross until He gave up the ghost and ascended on high.

“Lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds.”  Why are we continually told to look to Jesus, to fix our spiritual gaze upon Him and consider all that He went through?  Because His legacy becomes a testament to how one should run this Christian race.  His story becomes a well of strength from which we can draw encouragement from.  His experience becomes the energy that we need to motivate us to press on despite all the adversity that tries to mount attacks against us; that try to move us from our faith.  “But they that wait upon the LORD,” the Bible tells us, “shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint,” (Isaiah 40:31).  Consider Jesus that you yourselves to don’t faint in the process of running the race.

When we discussed the previous chapter, the Hall of Fame of faith, in that we see Moses’ character in taking a stand against sin: “Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season,” (Hebrews 11:25).  Standing for one’s faith usually brings about persecution and affliction such as what the readers of this letter were facing.  How far are they willing to go in order to stand for their faith?  There are many in the body of Christ who have borne the harsh ravages of persecution on their own bodies, and even their lives.  There are many who gave all to follow Jesus.  The encouragement is for these readers to stir up their minds, gain strength from the stories of those devoted lives, keep pushing forth, and don’t give up!

Our Discipline

Hebrews 12:5-11 “And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him: For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.  If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not?  But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons.  Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live?  For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness.  Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.”

“Despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him… if ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons.”  “Chastening” or discipline is part of what we must go through in order to grow and mature in Christ as need be.  There will be times of suffering as we continue to walk our path to go higher in Him.  There will be times when the road traveled will seem like we’re fighting an uphill battle.  There will be times of pain and hardships, but as Romans reminds us, “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose,” (Romans 8:28).

Keep in mind, how we view something as working out for good and how God views it could look very different.  Something that may bring us sadness now, God may see a better benefit down the road for our good.  When God looks into the meat of our lives, He’s looking beyond the here and now and the tool that is often used is discipline.

Discipline is rarely seen as being pleasant.  Whether it refers to the bringing of one’s body under subjection for the benefit of exercising and preparing for a race; or, if it is for correction to set one’s course on a right path – hardship in this life is rarely a welcomed companion.

But we are told not to “despise” it as we are reminded that Jesus, the author of our faith, didn’t mount Calvary’s cross by bypassing suffering (see also Proverbs 3:11 and Job 5:17).  He faced it head-on as the Son of God who would redeem mankind from their sins.  Now, we are referred to as sons and daughters of God, and as such should we not take it all in stride when the Father’s molding of our lives involves things we would rather not endure?  Yet, endure we must for one will never reach the finish line of any competition by dropping out.  It’s pushing through despite the pain and the struggle that allows us to reach our eternal reward in victory.

For when God chastens, His only motivation is “love.”  Proverbs 3:12 verifies this by telling us, “For whom the LORD loveth he correcteth; even as a father the son in whom he delighteth.”  Parents don’t want to see their children hurting or sad over a situation no more than God does.  But there are some things that parents can’t allow their children to pursue because, in the end, it will be to their ruin.

God wants us where He is.  He “scourgeth even son whom he receiveth.”  He is our ultimate prize at the end of this race, but we will never get there if we allow the cumbrances of this world to deviate us off that path.  God steps in and corrects the steps we take that we may gain the richer rewards of heaven rather than settle for the less than this world has to offer.  He beckons us to follow the discipline and not to give up.  Allow it to mold you and work for your good to bring about a better end.

Did He not say in Jeremiah, “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end?” (29:11). Those words of promise were spoken as the people endured the discipline of captivity.  God always, always, always has the greater good of His people in mind despite what it currently looks like.  Therefore, run the race and “endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ,” (2 Timothy 2:3).  Subject yourselves “unto the Father of spirits, and live!”  His correction in our lives is for our good!

He does it for “our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness.”  Anything we face in this world cannot compare to the joy that we have in Him and the glory that lay ahead eternally.  One can only be a participator of that joy and glory if they are “partakers of his holiness.”  “But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy,” (1 Peter 1:15-16).

God wants holiness in our lives and in our worship.  I love a message that pronounces blessings just as much as the next person, but without holiness, it means absolutely nothing in His sight.  We need to come back to the central theme of holiness because the LORD requires nothing less.  It is for our profit and if discipline is what it takes to get us there, then God will have His way because you and I are treasured that much that He wants you to be where He is.

No, it’s not “joyous” at the time of receiving said correction and discipline, but “afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.”  There have been times when correction was probably necessary for our own lives, growing up or as an adult.  And no, we don’t like it but, we can thank God for where the correction keeps us from.  The paths of sin and wrong choices that could have kept us walking a road that yielded anything but “righteousness.”  It could have kept us bound in sin.

Children don’t usually rejoice due to correction and discipline.  When parents send a correction in the way of a child it is to prepare them for life up ahead.  When God sends discipline for each of us, we become like trees fit (trained, “exercised thereby”) due to pruning to prepare us to yield “fruit” that will carry over into eternity.

Our Race

Hebrews 12:12-13 “Wherefore lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees; And make straight paths for your feet, lest that which is lame be turned out of the way; but let it rather be healed.”

Be encouraged through it all!  Get in there and run this Christian race!  Don’t let defeat win.  Don’t let the hardships knock you out of place, robbing you of the goal at the end.  If you feel down, get back up, strengthen yourself, and keep on running that your soul may be “healed.”  Jesus is waiting at the finish line.

We can be so easily swayed this way and that with the moving of our circumstances and our emotions and just plain old life itself.  But Jesus, “the author and finisher of our faith;” our perfect example, never let anything sway Him from the righteous path.  He never let anything drag Him off course from where God wanted Him to be.  As a matter of fact, He repeatedly let us know “For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me,” (John 6:38).  And yes, He suffered through it all, but suffering didn’t win, and discouragement didn’t stand a chance against the will of God planted so deeply in Him, ergo He ran His race unhindered.

The writer of Hebrews is teaching his readers and us the same valuable life lesson.  Everything will not always seem to work in our favor (despite the barrage of popular messages that tell otherwise), but “make straight paths for your feet;” look past the obstacles that try to obstruct your view from the finish line and stay wholly focused on Him who is our spiritual forerunner.  Follow His lead who endured already and “ponder the path of thy feet, and let all thy ways be established,” (Proverbs 4:26).

Remember, others are watching your race so run that they too may be encouraged to keep going and not be “turned out of the way.”  May they press on to receive healing for their souls as well.

Sometimes the things we deal with get hard.  Trials and tribulations are nothing to sneeze at, but we must make the decision to respond the way Jesus did and to not let it frustrate us from everything that God has for us and want us to do.  If you keep your eyes firmly fixed on Jesus, you can make it to the end of your Christian race.

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 Christian Faith 

Suggested Activities:

Object Lesson: “Run the Race Object Lesson”

Video Links: 

“Running the Race Youtube Video/Skit Guys”

“Derek Redmond Inspiration Video/Never Give Up”

Adult Journal Page: The Christian Race

Kid’s Journal Page: The Christian Race

Blank Journal Pages (to cover what points you prefer to bring out):  Blank Adult and Kid’s Journal Pages

Draw the Scene: The Christian Race Draw the Scene

How Many Words: The Christian Race How Many Words

Memory Verse: The Christian Race Memory Verse

 

Word Search: The Christian Race Word Search  Answers: The Christian Race Word Search Answers

Crossword: The Christian Race Crossword  Answers: The Christian Race Crossword Answers

Word Scramble: The Christian Race Word Scramble  Answers: The Christian Race Word Scramble Answers

“Perseverance” (opening Marshmallow Toss activity)

“What the Olympics can teach us about Christianity”

“Pressing for the Prize” 

 

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 – “A Sheep or a Goat?” Matthew 25:31-46

Photo: Pixabay/Zahaoha

VERSE DISCOVERY: Matthew 25:31-46 (KJV, Public Domain)

Much of our culture is self-seeking and gives evidence to a heart that is far from the heart of God.  And, as time goes by it seems to infect more and more like a disease that won’t be snuffed out.  But snuff it is what God is asking for as we raise for ourselves flags of surrender to be waved in service for Him toward others.  That we give up of us and pour out all for Him; that we show the world a thing or two about true love; true appreciation to a Savior who poured out all for us.

The Bible tells us, “In all things shewing thyself a pattern of good works…” (Titus 2:7).  It’s time for a new pattern to be laid.  The foundation of self must dissipate, and new groundwork needs to be found on who He is the head of our life and all that He has already done.  It’s time to show the world a different lifestyle.

The Bible assures us, “That they do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate; laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life,” (1 Timothy 6:18-19).  In that, we see that our service toward one another matters and what we do or do not do for others on behalf of our Lord  – the impact of it can even show up in our eternal reward or eternal punishment.

In this lesson, Jesus teaches the difference between the two.  He shows His disciples the difference of being classified as a sheep or a goat.

 When the Son of Man Comes

Matthew 25:31-33 “When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left

Today’s lesson is known to be a part of The Olivet Discourse which begins at Matthew 24:1. Throughout this “discourse,” Jesus is telling or prophesying of times to come.  He even foretold of the destruction of the temple which would occur in A.D. 70 (see Matthew 24:1-2).

I absolutely love how this portion of the discourse begins with the word “when.”  Not “if,” but “when.”  And the “when” that is being referenced is the second coming of Jesus Christ.

Jesus is coming back!  Point blank.  And, one’s eternity is measured by how they lived on earth.

A large part of biblical preaching and teaching is focusing on and preparing people for the return of Christ that they might reign with Him when He comes.

When some look down through the pages of history, they don’t see the chain of events that ushered in the plan of salvation for mankind.  They believe or don’t believe based off what they see with their natural eyes and their short-sighted minds and/or ideas. They don’t see the promise of the good to come that God has already laid 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.  They don’t see this beautiful, epic love story where God tries to woo mankind back to Himself.

But, rest assured, there is a future after this and Jesus says “when” the time comes, this is what’s going to happen.  The events that He speaks of are truths that are still unfolding.  We haven’t seen it all yet, but it’s coming.

The Bible reassures us, “For the Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness,” (2 Peter 3:9a).  We are also told, “For the vision is yet for an appointed time, but at the end it shall speak, and not lie: though it tarry, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry,” (Habakkuk 2:3).

Know this, every word of God, for good or bad, for happy or 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 judgment so that as many people as possible can be saved.  For us and everyone out there, there is hope for salvation.  God’s waiting won’t add to the demise of people as in the.  Rather, His “longsuffering” is because He is “not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance,” (2 Peter 3:9b).  Will all come and accept a relationship with God through Jesus Christ?  No.  But God loves mankind so much that He wants to get as many people as possible out of the waters of sin that seek to drown them for all eternity.

And, although He has held off, eventually, judgment will come.  2 Peter 3:10 says, “But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night…”

Here, in this lesson, we see we have a King, and the King is coming back.  A time of judgment takes place; a division from those who believe and those who don’t believe; from those who are considered righteous and those who are called cursed: the sheep and the goats, if you will.

“When” this takes place, our lesson tells us “the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory.”  Daniel paints a very similar picture to the one Jesus is describing.  He writes, “I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him.  And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed,” (Daniel 7:13-14).    

Here, we see Jesus obtained His dominion and declaring His reign in these verses and was found sitting “upon the throne of his glory.”  Have you ever read a story when a king rides up in battle with his armies, obtains the victory and sits down on the throne declaring his rule?  This is the picture that comes to my mind when I read this verse.  Jesus, the King of all kings, comes with His entourage of angels; His armies of heavenly hosts and sits in His place of honor where He will rule and reign forever into eternity.

He is that prophesied “righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth,” (Jeremiah 23:5; emphasis mine); and here it can be said, “Let the judging commence.”

“Before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats.”  When He does return, as already stated, a judgment will commence, and this judgment should be taken seriously for in it those living for Christ will be blessed and those who are not shall be condemned.

Here, He is gathering “all nations,” meaning no one on the face of this earth will be exempt from this judgment.  Everyone will be examined, and everyone will be separated “as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats” according to how He classifies them.  Psalm 4:3 lets us know, “That the LORD hath set apart him that is godly for himself…”

We see here, those who are classified as being “sheep” are placed “on his right hand.”  Repeatedly in the Bible, we see the phrase “at the right hand” is used.  For example, in the Old Testament, God said, “Fear not… I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness,” (Isaiah 41:10; emphasis mine).  And, in the New Testament Hebrews 12:2 says, “Looking unto Jesus the author and the finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God,” (emphasis mine).

The “right hand” is a special place.  It gives the idea that those on the right are in a more honored and favored position than others.

The opposite occurred for those who are considered “goats” for they were placed “on the left.”  In the following verses, we will really see the impact of what being in those opposite positions means.

To the Sheep He Says…

Matthew 25:34-40 “Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me. Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.”

First, the “King” addresses those “on his right hand.”  With that, He calls them, “Blessed of my Father” and pronounces that they will “inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.”

In John 14:3 Jesus stated before His death, “And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.”  Here, we see the “King” has come back as promised and is now speaking directly to those have become inheritors of that prepared kingdom; to those that He is receiving to Himself.

Their service gave proof/evidence of the faith they claimed they possessed causing them to think outside of the box of their own little world into that of others who have needs.  But let us remember, 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).

Jesus gave the reason they were in their favored position: on a human level, they acted as He would in their care and concern for the “brethren.”  To do this means their faith was put into action, and that manifested itself through service, despite the cost to their personal being.

In another portion of Scripture Jesus said, “He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal.  If any man serve me, let him follow me; and where I am, there shall also my servant be: if any man serve me, him will my Father honour,” (John 12: 25-26; emphasis mine).  Here, we see them receiving that honor as the “blessed of my Father.”

Basically, payday has come, if you want to call it that.  Just as in a natural job, so it is in the spirit.  Those who work good works will be rewarded.  That’s why Hebrews 13:16 tells us, “But to do good and to communicate forget not: for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.”  God is pleased when we offer our lives in service and the doing of good works.  Colossians 3:23-24 supports this by telling us, “And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ” (emphasis mine).  There is a reward at the end of the services we offer on behalf of the Lord.

The “sheep” know what it is to put their faith into action and make a difference in the world around them.  Faith is not silent.  Faith is full of action.  Faith is alive.  Faith is shared through works to testify of its genuineness and sincerity.  Faith does more than move mountains; if it is lived out in the lives of the men and women of God, it can move hearts toward salvation!

When one is living a life of faith people should be able to look at their life, their actions, as signs of accreditation that we belong to God.  They should be able to tell by how we operate and carry ourselves through our display of service, that we live what we talk.

James, in his book, wrote, “If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit?” (James 2:15-16).

James saw the emptiness in just words alone.  Speaking “peace” without lifting a finger to physically help satisfy the present need, to him it was not true faith.  True faith believes and then allows that belief to be put to work.  True faith has heavenly aspirations that work out to show good on earth.  So, he asked, “What doth it profit” without it?  What is each of us doing now that is benefiting his fellow man and the kingdom of heaven?

Words without supplying to the physical, emotional or spiritual comfort of another in distress are what these two verses speak of.  But, all too often, how many times have we heard or spoken of what should be done to help others without putting in some work to help society move toward that goal?

Jesus gave props to those who stepped in to help others.  James mentioned two issues that Jesus also stated: naked and food, giving further verification of the call to help one another in need.

Jesus said to those who helped the “hungred… thirsty… stranger… naked… sick… prisoner,” it was as if they were helping Him.  Their care for their fellow man matters in the eyes of heaven.  They supplied for and filled needs wherever it showed up and were blessed because of it.

The “sheep” didn’t understand when they ever saw Jesus in the needs described and gave aide to Him.  But, “the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” 

Treat people like you would treat Jesus.  Wow!

Again, let us remember, we are not saved by works: “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is a gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast,” (Ephesians 2:8-9).  Rather, works give proof to the living faith on the inside: “Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone,” (James 2:17).

To the Goats He Says…

Matthew 25:41-46 “Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not. Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee? Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me. And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.”

Now it’s time to turn our attention to those on the “left;” “the goats.”  These are spoken to and receive the opposite of the sheep because what they did, or in this case, did not do, was the opposite.

Instead of a reward of inheritance of a prepared kingdom, they were condemned to “everlasting punishment;” a place of “everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels.”   Instead of being called “blessed” and “righteous,” they were marked as being “cursed.”

Jesus presented the same scenarios to the left residents that He did to those on the right and in each instance the words “no” or “not” stands out.  They were given the same chances and opportunities to help and make a difference, but they refused.  This is contrary to kingdom living.  That’s not who Jesus is or what He’s all about.  Them that want to be where He is should be as He is.

Does this remind us of somebody?  Remember the story of Lazarus and the rich man (Luke 16:19-31).  Both the “goats” and the “rich man” had the opportunity to help but were not moved with compassion to do so.  Both received the same end.  Here, we already stated above what the goats received.  In the case of the rich man the Bible tells us, “In hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments…” (Luke 16:23).

To reiterate the blessings of those who choose to selflessly serve others, Jesus affirms that the righteous will go “into life eternal.”  Awesome!

How one treats and serves people, or not, has an everlasting impact, for reward or punishment.

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 – A Sheep or a Goat

Suggested  Activities:

Draw the Scene: A Sheep or a Goat Draw the Scene

Activity Sheet: A Sheep or a Goat Activity Sheet

Memory Verse: A Sheep or a Goat Memory Verse

Kid’s Journal Page: Kid’s Journal Page – A Sheep or a Goat

Adult Journal Page: Adult Journal Page – A Sheep or a Goat

Word Search: A Sheep or a Goat Word Search  Answers: A Sheep or a Goat Word Search Answers

Crossword: A Sheep or a Goat Crossword  Answers: A Sheep or a Goat Crossword Answers

Word Scramble: A Sheep or a Goat Word Scramble  Answers: A Sheep or a Goat Word Scramble Answers

“Unto the Least of These” (Many activities including some for group participation and coloring page for younger students.  Enjoy!)

“The Sheep and Goats Coloring Page” (Older students)

“The Parable of the Sheep (and the Goats)” (Games, activities and even self-portraits with a twist.  A lovely idea.  Enjoy!)

“Sheep or Goats?” (Activities, group ideas, and more.  Enjoy!)

“Game: Sheep and Goats”

“Parable of the Sheep and the Goats Coloring Page”

“Retelling the Story of the Sheep and Goat with Felt” (What an interesting way to tell this popular story for little ones to understand and enjoy.)

“Sheep Storytime” (Here is a cute, little adorable, stand alone sheep that your students can make to accompany this week’s lesson.  Enjoy!)

“How to Draw a Goat” (Though we really want to focus on being sheep, your older students may enjoy to learn how to draw a goat, step by step.  This could be a great reminder of what not to be.  Enjoy!)

“I Can Follow Jesus by Helping Others Coloring Sheet”

“The Spiritual Discipline of Serving”

 

Sunday School Lesson – “Jesus’ Birth” Luke 2:8-20

Photo: Pixabay

VERSE DISCOVERY: Luke 2:8-20 (KJV, Public Domain)

Is there any time of the year that’s more special or rings with more sentiments than Christmas?  It stands out as iconic since the days of our youth.  It’s a time of year that’s separated from the rest.  Despite one’s belief, there is always a different feeling in the atmosphere during this time of the year.  People seem to be kinder and more patient with one another.  Many feel charitable and look at his fellow man with a more compassionate heart during this season.  This time of the year; this moment of celebration affects all.

Many are very familiar with the backdrop of this lesson.   Caesar Augustus had issued a decree for all the world to be taxed (Luke 2:1).  From there, families were to report to the place of their lineage to be accounted for.  Lineage played a key role in so many aspects of the Bible.  Even when it came time to “tax,” people had to line up and file in at the place of their birth or where their family hailed from.  One’s bloodline, one’s tribe were factors in their inheritance, land rights and so on.  These are matters that those who seek to tax would be greatly interested in.

Augustus thought in and of himself that he was responsible for sending families back to their “own city;” back to the place where their ancestors were from. When, in actuality, God was using him to line up everything according to His holy prophecies that were spoken through the years.  This is why, though to our eye’s times may seem troubling and hard to understand, yet we never know what God is doing behind the scenes.  The people may not understand the need to be forced into travel to undergo taxing, but God was lining them up for their greatest deliverance yet!

Joseph and Mary were not exempt and were forced, despite being far along in her pregnancy, to travel the approximately 90-mile journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem to participate in the taxing process.

While she was there it became time for her to deliver her firstborn child.  Luke 2:6-7 states, “And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.  And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.”

It is here we pick up in today’s lesson where the role of the shepherds came into play.  They show us the birth of our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, is not just a passing event.  Rather, it is a reason to stop and celebrate God and give Him all the glory that is due to His holy name.

Angelic Announcement to the Shepherds

Luke 2:8-9 “And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.  And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.”

“Shepherds” were considered some of the lowest of people during the Bible era.  Men who spent their time with animals roaming the fields to find pasture for their flocks.  Yet, on this night they were the first chosen to hear of this good news.  They were elevated above kings to receive the birth announcement of the King of kings.

Can you imagine being in that field on that night then suddenly light shining from what seems to nowhere appear with a glorious siting of “the angel of the Lord?”  In an era of no electricity, with only the light from the fire they sat around (if they were lucky enough to have one), an illumination of greater proportion appeared and made them “sore afraid.”  I think it’s safe to say, if it were me, I would have been just as “afraid” as they were.  It’s not an everyday occurrence to see the power of the Lord manifested in the siting of one of His “angels.” Who knows why he was here.  “Angels” have been long known as messengers from the Lord and here this one appears with the greatest revelation of all time; one that the “shepherds” are privileged to hear first.

Luke 2:10-12 “And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which shall be to all people.  For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.  And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.”

In an effort to alleviate any trepidation the shepherds were feeling with encountering God’s angel, he spoke to them words that were meant to bring comfort and assurance.  He said, “Fear not” (a greeting that is meant to calm).

The appearance of these heavenly messengers can be a little much to take in.  When the one angel sat upon the stone that was rolled away from Jesus’ tomb the Bible tells us, “His countenance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow: And for fear of him the keepers did shake, and became as dead men,” (Matthew 28:3-4).  One would need a certain measure of comfort in the presence of these awesome creatures.

“Behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which shall be to all people.”  Here, the lowliest of the low; the shepherds that others despise and reject as not being noteworthy, receive the good news that “shall be to all people;” themselves included.

“For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.”  The message is, that long-awaited day has finally arrived!  The Jews felt the oppression of enemies for years.  They have listened to the prophecies passed down from generation to generation that spoke, “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace,” (Is. 9:6).  He that was spoken of has arrived in this lowly place, to a lowly people, to save them and be their Messiah.

The news could not get any better than this.  I imagine eyes misting over and a lonely tear streaking down the weather-worn cheek of these men to whom the angel spoke.  Oh, the joy of it all on that holy night!

“And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.”  So that no misrepresentation and no doubt can reside in the mind of these shepherds, the angel described in great detail who and what they should expect to find.  Just as our introduction described is how they would find this blessed “babe” when they came upon Him.  Surely, with the scene matching up with the description given upon their arrival to see the “babe” they would absolutely know that He is their “Saviour.”

Luke 2:13-14 “And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.”

As if the appearance of one angel with an awesome message wasn’t enough to seal the deal of belief with these shepherds, “a multitude of the heavenly host” appeared.  It was as if heaven could not hold back its rejoicing over the birth of the Savior.  Heaven peaked through into the earthly realm and these shepherds got to see them “get their praise on” as we would call it today.

They were saying, “Glory to God in the highest!”  I don’t think the words do the moment justice.  Yes, they were ascribing “glory to God” but I believe there was a tingling in the atmosphere that can’t be replicated with words.  I believe there was a charge of elation mixed with the power of God’s presence radiating through these “heavenly host” that can’t be described.  A time and place like no other that only these lowly shepherds got to witness on this holy night.  Awesome!

“And on earth peace.”  Sin has destroyed humanity’s “peace” with God.  The beloved creature that He formed and placed in the Garden of Eden; that He loved and treasured as His own, was now corrupt and subject to perish without holy intervention.  Romans 5:12 tells us, “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned.”  Because of that, “peace” and reconciliation needed to be restored.

Romans 5:18 encourages us and says, “Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life.”  “Gifts” are major for most this time of the year.  But, on this holy night, God gave the best “free gift” that would annihilate the effects of sin that destroyed the “peace” He intended for His creation.  Now, the “heavenly host” are rejoicing because they know the significance of this birth for all of humanity and the “earth.”  Through the “free gift” of His Son, God is showing the ultimate “good will toward men.”

Hasting to See the Babe

Luke 2:15-17 “And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.  And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.  And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child.”

“Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass.”  After the angels disappeared, the shepherds wasted no time in making up their mind to see “this thing which is come to pass.”  “Come to pass” means it has already happened.  They were speaking in terms of belief.  They hadn’t seen the “babe” as of yet, but through the words and rejoicing of the angels they believed that “which the Lord hath made known.”

What an awesome revelation both literally and nonliterally!  God showed up and showed out and sent His message, the birth announcement of His Son, to a field whose occupants seemed to the rest of the world counted unworthy.  With their newfound knowledge, they wasted no time in seeing with their own eyes that which was revealed to them so much so that the Bible tells us “they came with haste.”  Excitement propelled them forward and they “found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe” just as it was spoken to them.

“And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child.”  They may have been the lowliest in the eyes of society.  They may have been counted out of many cliques and circles, but these dirt covered, smelled like the field and animals’ men became the first evangelist of the Lord Jesus Christ.  God had revealed something awesome to them.  Then, they saw the manifestation of it with their own eyes.  Their hearts were then burdened to make it “known abroad,” the same revelation that they received “concerning this child.”

Mary’s Pondering Heart

Luke 2:18-20 “And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds.  But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.  And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.”

“All they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds.”  The reaction of the people that heard the message of the shepherds was reactions of “wonder.”  They were simply amazed and in awe over the shepherds and the message they carried.  I believe that this type of “wonder” didn’t have any questioning to it.  Rather, they were just completely taken aback over the news and the excitement of the shepherds.

How a message is delivered also bears an impact on how the message is received by the hearers and judging by the enthusiasm of these lowly shepherds on that night, many had to be filled with total astonishment.  If the news could be believed, then the greatest miracle to ever be imposed on mankind has finally taken place; an extraordinary event like no other.  No wonder the shepherds couldn’t help but tell and express all they witnessed on this night.  The people had to see and feel that this news was a remarkable and outstanding experience.

“But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.”  A mother’s heart works differently toward her child.  She’s the one to whom the angel showed up out of the blue one day and delivered the message that she would carry the Son of God in her own womb.  She’s the one who dealt with being ostracized and mistreated by those who thought the worse of her.  She’s the one that bore the babe in her womb for nine months dealing with all that comes with it.  She’s the one who lay up in a stable, if you will, and pushed forth this new, special life into the world.  Now, these shepherds show up and declare the glorious.  They show up and pay special attention and respect to her Son.  She holds in all in her “heart” and mind.

Surely, during this time her mind had to travel back to the day Gabriel approached her and told her, “The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God,” (Luke 1:35).  Thinking back to then and comparing the scene unfolding before her now must have given her pause to stop and consider all that has transpired (compare Luke 2:51).

What must have been going through her mind at the time, one can only imagine.  But, there in her “heart,” she held it all.  The moments; the memories; the miracle that she has been a part of – there in her “heart,” the wonder of it all rests.

“And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.”  The “shepherds,” who were previously known for their care of the flocks, were now known for their praise.  When a miracle occurs on this level one can’t help but let a praise flow from their innermost being.  It should be a natural occurrence that when God blesses you to see a manifestation of His promise come to pass, praise should issue forth like an unstoppable river flow.

They “heard and seen” some amazing things on this night.  Things that many will never ever get to experience; things we can only read about and have faith in – they were eyewitnesses to it all!  They, with their own eyes and ears, physically saw our Lord Jesus Christ as a babe lying in a manger.  How AWESOME is that?!  The revelation given to them of the angel assured them that this was no ordinary babe.  The King of all heaven and earth lay before them.  They can’t keep that praise in!  They glorify God!  God is worthy!

They didn’t “return” the same way they left.  What they witnessed was too extraordinary to go back to life as usual.  They now had a praise that would not stop; one that had to be expressed to the fullest that God get the glory He deserves over this magnificent event.  Hallelujah!!!

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

Suggested Activities:

Christmas Object Lesson: The Angels Appear to the Shepherds (video with a great idea for making angels appear as noted in the “Prepare” portion of the lesson)

Adult Journal Page: Adult Journal Page – My favorite part of the Christmas Story

Kid’s Journal Page: Kids Journal Page – My favorite part of the Christmas story

Draw the Scene: Jesus’ Birth Draw the Scene

Wordsearch: Jesus’ Birth Wordsearch  Answers: Jesus’ Birth Wordsearch Answers

Crossword: Jesus’ Birth Crossword  Answers: Jesus’ Birth Crossword Answers

Memory Verse: Jesus’ Birth Memory Verse

Baby Jesus Best Gift Craft: BABY JESUS GIFT CRAFT_2 (This craft will remind students of God’s best gift He gave us in Jesus Christ.  Enjoy!) – Use this PDF link for accurate printing. Simply print out, color, and cut.  Cut construction paper in half.  Glue tab for gift box and attach.  Next, glue baby Jesus under the gift box and close.  Last, attach the “God’s Best Gift!” label with glue.  And, there you have it.  When students open the “gift box” they can view God’s best gift: Jesus Christ. 

Other Suggested Activities:

Jesus Is the Reason for the Season:

“Jesus is the Reason for the Season Crafts” (I particularly like the “Faith Bracelet” and the “Jesus Christmas Necklace crafts on this page.  It takes you away from the ordinary ornament and nativity crafts (which will never go out of style🙂 )that we usually see this time of year and gives us something fresh to do.  Enjoy!)

“Christmas Piñata” (What a wonderful way to celebrate the birthday of Jesus.  Enjoy!)

“Emmanuel Crafts for Kids” (All I can say is, “Easy!”  Enjoy!)

“Several Games and Object Lessons for Christmas” (If you are looking for unique ways to hit home this very familiar lesson, then this is for you.  Check it out.  You won’t be disappointed.  Enjoy!)

Cute Nativity Scenes:  Each one was chosen for their uniqueness.  Browse through and find one suitable to your needs.  Enjoy!

“Bee Crafty Kids – Nativity” (Using black construction paper as the backdrop this easy to put together nativity scene craft can be adaptable to most students.  Make it as easy or as hard as you like it.  I like this one just the way it is.  Enjoy!)

“Hope and a Nativity Craft” (Popsicle sticks, paper and crayons are all you need to put together this simple nativity scene.  This time of the year we can run low on funds and time and this is a great answer for most teachers in both of these areas.  Enjoy!)

“Easy Nativity Craft” (The name says it all 🙂  Enjoy!)

“Nativity Crafts for Kids from Recyclables”

Shepherd Crafts:

“Candy Cane Shepherd” (Wow, an activity with a Christmas treat!  Enjoy!)

“Shepherd and Sheep Toilet Paper Roll Craft” (This is easy and can I tell, they have printables!  Yeah!  Enjoy!)

“Shepherd and Angel Craft” (Super easy especially for your youngest students.  Enjoy!)

Christmas Coloring Pages for Luke 2:

“The Birth of Jesus Coloring Page”

“The Birth of Jesus (Older Students) Coloring Page”

“Angel and Shepherds Rejoice (Older Students) Coloring Page”

“Don’t Miss Christmas Coloring and Activities”

 

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