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Monday, August 2, 2010

Showing the Love of God by Helping Others...Sunday School Letter

People Show Love by Helping Others in Need

Acts 9:36-43
Now there was in Joppa a disciple named Tabitha, which, translated, means Dorcas. She was full of good works and acts of charity. 37In those days she became ill and died, and when they had washed her, they laid her in an upper room. 38Since Lydda was near Joppa, the disciples, hearing that Peter was there, sent two men to him, urging him, "Please come to us without delay." 39So Peter rose and went with them. And when he arrived, they took him to the upper room. All the widows stood beside him weeping and showing tunics and other garments that Dorcas made while she was with them. 40But Peter put them all outside, and knelt down and prayed; and turning to the body he said, "Tabitha, arise." And she opened her eyes, and when she saw Peter she sat up. 41And he gave her his hand and raised her up. Then calling the saints and widows, he presented her alive. 42And it became known throughout all Joppa, and many believed in the Lord. 43And he stayed in Joppa for many days with one Simon, a tanner.

Life Application: I will hear that helping others is a way to show love.

Galatians 5:13
For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.

From Clay and Bobbi
In our Bible passage Dorcas is shown to be very kind and beneficent to the poor and needy. The impact and impression she had on many people showed when she died and many widows gathered to her crying and showing each other the garments she had made them. It was obvious she was well thought of by all in Joppa, so much so they sent for Peter to come, either hoping he could raise her, or hoping he could encourage them in the Lord and glorify God in her death. Peter agreed to come, perhaps intending to encourage the mourners with the word of the Lord, or maybe he himself thought God was to use him to raise Dorcas. Whatever the intentions by either party, Peter came…and he prayed…And he raised Dorcas from the dead.

Raising people from the dead is a physical picture of another reality…God raising us from the dead spiritually. What an awesome reminder of the power of God in our own lives as we recall how he raised us up from spiritual death! And a reminder that He will raise us up the last day! The lesson plan asked a couple of questions about Dorcas: Do you think Dorcas continued her ministry of sewing after she was raised? How are you helping the vulnerable in society around you? How can you give with a heart like Dorcas?

Those are good questions and we intend on asking the children these questions this morning. Hopefully they will be prepared to answer them for you should you ask them too. We will also encourage them to purposefully do acts of kindness this week to show their love for God. We will have that on our minds and intentions too.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Sunday School Thoughts: Who is Your Neighbor

I Can Choose To Be Kind

From: Luke 10:25-37;
And behold, a lawyer stood up to put him to the test, saying, "Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?" 26 He said to him, "What is written in the Law? How do you read it?" 27And he answered, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself." 28And he said to him, "You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live." 29But he, desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, "And who is my neighbor?" 30Jesus replied, "A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him and departed, leaving him half dead. 31Now by chance a priest was going down that road, and when he saw him he passed by on the other side. 32So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion. 34He went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he set him on his own animal and brought him to an inn and took care of him. 35And the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, 'Take care of him, and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.' 36Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?" 37He said, "The one who showed him mercy." And Jesus said to him, "You go, and do likewise."


From Clay and Bobbi Miller
The lawyer here was testing Jesus to see whether Jesus understood the law or not. What he got back was a lesson from the Lawgiver. The fundamental flaw of this man’s question is his presumption that “works” could save him. If someone “could” keep the whole law, never sin, never transgress…then that person could live forever with God. The problem is, no one can…not even close, because every man and woman is born with a sinful nature. We sin because we are sinners. So Jesus drew this man of the law to the law and asked him “What is written in the Law? How do you read it?” To which the man recited from the phylacteries (Strips of parchment with four passages, rolled up and attached to leather bands worn around the arm or the forehead) which were recited everyday.

The problem is, merely reading the commandments and assenting to their rightness is not the same as “doing” the commandments…and cannot save…likewise no one can do these commandments completely or perform them perfectly as is prescribed inherently in the commands. Jesus did this to show the man and the listeners and us, that obtaining eternal life by works is impossible.

The man wanted to justify himself (v.29). He did not touch the “love the Lord your God perfectly” part. No wonder. What he did was go to an area that he felt quite confident about for himself…loving his neighbor. Jews commonly interpreted “neighbor” to be “other Jews” or those who were like-minded as the Jews. Basically, their interpretation for neighbor was “those who were their neighbor in the Law”, i.e. others who have the law. Jesus was about to squash his self-righteousness.

Jesus answers the lawyer’s question with a story of a man, an unnamed man, of an unidentified ethnicity, who was beaten badly by robbers. He was left for dead. While lying there a Jewish priest walks by and showed no kindness, no mercy. Likewise a Levite passed by showing no kindness, no mercy. It was as if Jesus were showing that the moral and ceremonial law (which these two were priest of) offered no mercy. It does not. The law was given to show us the sinfulness of our sin and drive us to the cross where there is mercy and there is grace and there is forgiveness for not fulfilling the impossible requirements of the law.

Then Jesus introduces a third man. A Samaritan. Samaritans were “half-Jews” and therefore hated by Jews. They would fall into the category of a “non-neighbor”. So the Jews would feel quite justified in not “loving” them as part of “love your neighbor”. So Jesus is about to show them that this Samaritan, whom they despised, was not only a neighbor in the truest sense, but proved to be a better neighbor and friend than this smug lawyer who asked the question. This Samaritan had compassion, doctored and bound up his wounds, put him on his animal, brought him to an inn and cared for him and paid someone to continue his care until he was healed up. Jesus asks straightly, “Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?" The lawyer answers the only way he could correctly answer…”He said, "The one who showed him mercy." Jesus then commands them,,,”You go, and do likewise."

Jesus showed at least two things to us from this answer to the lawyer’s test. One, if we think we are keeping the law perfectly at any point, and meriting salvation, we are misinterpreting the Law. Jesus could pinpoint many ways in which we break commandments we might think we keep. The lawyer wanted to justify himself. That is impossible. And if we try it, we will be condemned. Only Christ lived and kept the law perfectly. He was not born with a sinful nature (miraculous conception; virgin birth). He did not inherit that sinful nature as we do. He did live perfectly righteous. He did keep the law without blemish. And the only way we can be justified is by having his righteousness imputed to our account. That happens when we put our faith in Him, His righteousness, for our salvation, knowing our own lives cannot meet the standard at all. We cannot justify ourselves. Justification (being declared not guilty) can only come by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone and all for the glory of God alone.

Second, Jesus is showing us that although the law cannot save us, it is still good and we should still strive to abide in it, not for merit but because if we are to love God, we are to love the Lawgiver. We love the Law because we love the lawgiver. The law to the Christian is not obeyed merely out of duty, but because we want to show our love to God.

So our lesson today was “I can choose to be kind”. What we really hoped to emphasize to the children today was how to be kind, ways to be kind and how to be kind not just to be kind, but to show our love for God to others and to God. The kind of kindness God seeks is kindness that is God-centered, God-sourced, and God-glorifying. Something to strive for always in all we do!!!!

Thank you for letting us be a small part of your child’s growing in the Lord!

--Clay and Bobbi

Monday, July 19, 2010

Sunday School: True Friendship

This is a little note we give to parents of preschoolers. The lesson plan was We can choose to love our friends. Bobbi and I are firm in our belief that all lessons should be God-centered and not just action or idea centered in and of itself. For example, we can teach to be good...but two people can be the same "good" externally and one please God and one not. The difference would be in the motivation of the hearts. We need to be "good" i.e. do good deeds, because we want to glorify God, not ourselves, and not for some sort of gain from man. This is a small little note, but maybe it can encourage someone who reads it.

I Can Choose to Love My Friends

From 1 Samuel 14:49; 18:1-4; 20:1-42—The friendship of Jonathan and David.

Today’s lesson is about choosing to love our friends…something we need God’s guidance on and also something we should try to do with a God-centeredness. Loving our friends without a God-centeredness is not the kind of love that is beneficial, but ends up being a false love. When we love someone we want their best. And the best that anyone can have is not material things, or feelings, but rather the most valuable treasure in existence…we want them to have their greatest joy in knowing and loving Jesus Christ.

Our life application is: “I will discover how to be a loving friend. To be the ultimate friend we need to point our friends to Christ in all things. Christ is the answer to all of our trials. The old hymn describes turning our eyes upon Jesus and “the things of earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of His glory and grace.” We focused on emphasizing keeping Christ as the center of our friendships. It is challenging because they are so young and really have not fully developed long-lasting friendships and probably have a hard time comprehending what it takes…but we pray more seeds were planted in their lives this morning to build God-centered friendships with each other and others God will bring in their lives one day.

Romans 12:10 tells us, “Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. The brotherhood of that verse stems from us being the adopted sons and daughters of God. And God wants our relationships to be other-serving rather than self-serving. This is true in our friendships and marriages. Outdo one another in showing honor to the other.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Night and Day

July 16, 2010

Genesis 1:14-19
And God said, "Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night. And let them be for signs and for seasons, and for days and years, 15and let them be lights in the expanse of the heavens to give light upon the earth." And it was so. 16And God made the two great lights--the greater light to rule the day and the lesser light to rule the night--and the stars. 17And God set them in the expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth, 18to rule over the day and over the night, and to separate the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good. 19And there was evening and there was morning, the fourth day.


Matthew Henry: “[Learn from this] (2.) The duty and wisdom of daily worshipping that God who made all these things, and made them to be that to us which they are. The revolutions of the day and night oblige us to offer the solemn sacrifice of prayer and praise every morning and evening.

Clay Miller: In America we think of our days as being for work and play. That is true in a sense. We are to work. We are to rest. Those are not inherently wrong of course. But God created the sun, moon and stars to pretty much delineate between day and night. He gave us daytime and nighttime. And our duty and our joy is to be transformed from the casual thoughtlessness of just going through the motions, and rather think, “How can I use the daytime to glorify God. How can use the nighttime to glorify God. Daytime is an amazing time. We see the whole world lit up. We see the inside of this bubble we live in called the atmosphere. Nighttime is amazing too. We see past the bubble more clearly and see that there is a vast universe out there. God lights up the earth and atmosphere in the day to show off His creation here. Then at night He reminds us of how infinitely powerful and how endless He is by showing us a glimpse of the size of our universe. What we see is not the great thing…though it is great. The great One is the Creator of it all!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Not These! But the Maker of These!

July 15, 2010

Genesis 1:14-19
And God said, "Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night. And let them be for signs and for seasons, and for days and years, 15and let them be lights in the expanse of the heavens to give light upon the earth." And it was so. 16And God made the two great lights--the greater light to rule the day and the lesser light to rule the night--and the stars. 17And God set them in the expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth, 18to rule over the day and over the night, and to separate the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good. 19And there was evening and there was morning, the fourth day.

Matthew Henry: “2. Learn from all this, (1.) The sin and folly of that ancient idolatry, the worshipping of the sun, moon, and stars, which, some think, took rise, or countenance at least, from some broken traditions in the patriarchal age concerning the rule and dominion of the lights of heaven. But the account here given of them plainly shows that they are both God’s creatures and man’s servants; and therefore it is both a great affront to God and a great reproach to ourselves to make deities of them and give them divine honours…See Deu. 4:19.

Deuteronomy 4:19
And beware lest you raise your eyes to heaven, and when you see the sun and the moon and the stars, all the host of heaven, you be drawn away and bow down to them and serve them, things that the LORD your God has allotted to all the peoples under the whole heaven.

Clay Miller: I am short on time tonight but wanted to get an entry in. Sun worship, moon worship, astrology…it is all bad. We need to focus on the message of the Creator of those entities. They are created. The Creator is not. He is the only one worthy of worship. He is the Maker of these things. As a matter-of-fact, God created them for us. They have no necessity but the purpose God designed them for us. If He was not going to create man, there would be no reason to create those entities. So when you look at the sun (after you get your sight back from its brightness J), or the moon or the stars or consider the beauty and vastness of this universe or anything in it, think, “Not these, but the Maker of these be the glory!”.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Be Useful

Just becasue life is getting busy, I am cutting out the Charnock Study and will just do Matthew Henry. Also from time to time I will post other things, like my videos, and other things I tackle. Here is the latest:

June 24, 2010

Genesis 1:14-19
And God said, "Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night. And let them be for signs and for seasons, and for days and years, 15and let them be lights in the expanse of the heavens to give light upon the earth." And it was so. 16And God made the two great lights--the greater light to rule the day and the lesser light to rule the night--and the stars. 17And God set them in the expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth, 18to rule over the day and over the night, and to separate the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good. 19And there was evening and there was morning, the fourth day.

Matthew Henry: Now these lights are said to rule (v. 16, 18); not that they have a supreme dominion, as God has, but they are deputy-governors, rulers under him. Here the less light, the moon, is said to rule the night; but in Ps. 136:9 the stars are mentioned as sharers in that government…

Psalm 136:9
the moon and stars to rule over the night, for his steadfast love endures forever;
…The moon and stars to rule by night. No more is meant than that they give light…

Jeremiah 31:35
Thus says the LORD, who gives the sun for light by day and the fixed order of the moon and the stars for light by night, who stirs up the sea so that its waves roar-- the LORD of hosts is his name:

…The best and most honourable way of ruling is by giving light and doing good: those command respect that live a useful life, and so shine as lights.

Clay Miller: God gives two ways at least in Scripture of the purpose of the sun, moon and stars. They are to rule. They are to give light. There giving light is their ruling. Henry here connects our spiritual life with the ruling of these lights…but in what since do we rule? The closest connection I can think of off hand is Romans 5:17…

Romans 5:17
For if, because of one man's trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ.

Death reigned over me through Adam’s sin. I received the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness through Jesus. I will reign in life. Jon Gill says of this passage:

“in corporeal life, they are not now subject to death as a penal evil, as other persons are, and though they die this death, they will triumph over it in the resurrection morn, they will rise again to everlasting life; they reign now in spiritual life over sin, Satan, and the world; and they will reign in eternal life, they will sit on thrones, wear crowns, and possess a kingdom of glory for ever and ever; and all by and through one, Jesus Christ, and not on account of any works, or merits of theirs.

…I am subject to death but not in a penal sense anymore. I will be resurrected with Jesus. So I in that sense now reign over death rather than death reigning over me. I have this life that accomplishes this. So Henry would say, shine! Be useful and shine the truth of God wherever you go.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Common Questions: If Jesus is God then Why Would He Pray to Himself?

Common Question: If Jesus is God, then was He praying to Himself when He prayed? Who was He praying to on the cross when He said, “MY God, My God, why have you forsaken Me?” Was He praying to Himself? Was He complaining to Himself about why He had forsaken Himself?

1. This is a question that betrays ignorance of the Trinity. For a little article explaining the consistency of the Trinity see http://claybobbilukedoggg.blogspot.com/2010/01/jesus-is-god.html. No Jesus was not praying to Himself. Jesus was praying to the Father, also known as the first Person of the Trinity. Jesus would be the 2nd Person of the Trinity. They are distinct in Persons. They are one in the Being they share.
2. This question assumes Modalism, or Sabbelianism. This is the heresy that teaches that God is one Person who acts in different modes. The idea is He acts in modes as we do. I am a dad, a son and a brother. So they say this is what God does in being the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. One major problem with this error is exactly what this question emphasizes, namely that a person who is different things to different people does not hold conversations with his different modes. I do not say “Clay the dad, can you help me fix the car?” and answer, “Well, Clay the son, I would love to.” I do not dialogue with myself like this and neither does God.
3. Jesus accomplished many things by taking on humanity. One was that He set the perfect example of how every human being should live, but does not live. He set an example and provided His righteousness as a substitute for our sins, those of us who believe. So His crying out was an example. His praying was human obedience as it should be. He fulfilled the law we could not fulfill. He submitted to the Father to display what we should do. It was His role in redemption.
4. So the answer is no. He was praying to God the Father, not God the Son (Himself). Once again, this argument is a straw man argument against Christianity. It misrepresents what Christianity teaches about the nature of God.