Archive for the ‘lesson’ Category

Give to Caesar or God

Then Jesus said to them,
“Give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s

and to God what is God’s.”

And they were amazed at him.
– Mark 12:17 (NIV)

Some people sought to trap Jesus.  He knew it from what we learn within the Gospel of Mark.  Just look at verses 13 and 15.  He knew their hearts, their hypocrisy, and their intentions.

This discourse comes right behind Jesus sharing the parable of the tenants who slayed the master’s son who was innocent.  That sent a pretty strong message to those who could discern its underlying meaning.  After all, the Lord did say: “If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear.”

Give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s.

That spells it out.  If taxes and other matters of this world are part of how we are to obey authority, give it to Caesar or the feds, whoever may be in power.  Obviously, Jesus was not into that form of insurrection.  He said for us to give it to Caesar.  Yet, He also shared that we should give God what is His.

What is God due? Is it just tithes and offerings? Is it just our praise? Is it more than that?
When Jesus saw that he had answered wisely, he said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” And from then on no one dared ask him any more questions.
– Mark 12:34, NIV

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Jesus Enters Jerusalem

Our lesson coming up this Sunday is about Jesus entering Jerusalem.  It marks the final days of the Lord before the cross.  This narrative passage of Scriptures depicts Jesus interacting with all kinds of folks, especially His own disciples.  This is the portion of the Lord’s ministry where He takes it up a notch by cursing a barren fig tree and cleansing the temple. 

Dig into the Gospel of Mark’s latter chapters and see how Jesus hits Jerusalem on His way to Calvary and the ultimate sacrifice for mankind.  Expect great things to come out of studying this section of the Scriptures as we seek to learn more and more about our Lord and Savior.

FYI: Sunday students will shift classrooms from MLK 210 to MLK 301 (inside the building and in the loft).  We will be there from now on.

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Left Behind for Jesus

Then Peter began to say unto him,
Lo, we have left all, and have followed thee.
– Mark 10:28 (KJV)
Think about it for a moment.  Peter and Andrew left behind their nets and boats to follow Jesus.  James and John did the same, even leaving their daddy Zebedee behind.  Levi (Matthew) left the tax collecting booth.  Simon the Zealot left behind the rumblings of revolution and uprising against the Romans.  They all left something behind andin the past in order to follow Jesus.

What have you left behind to follow Jesus?

Family and friends?
Your old ways?
Your old hangouts?
How about your habits?

Think it through and see what Jesus offers to those who leave something behind for His sake.

29And Jesus answered and said, Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my sake, and the gospel’s, 30But he shall receive an hundredfold now in this time, houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with persecutions; and in the world to come eternal life. 31But many that are first shall be last; and the last first.  – Mark 10:29-31 (KJV)

Look at chapter 10’s conversation on divorce and answer some questions on our online survey.  We won’t disclose any names, but we will discuss and share some of the responses and how we deal with the Word versus the world when it comes to making decisions.
Go to the online survey now. . .

To share the survey with others send the link: http://bit.ly/QjOw88  

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In reading the Book of Mark, I try to keep in mind one major aspect of Bible observation methods; who is speaking to whom.  I try to keep that in mind from two perspectives:

  1. Who is (John ) Mark writing to as the author sharing with an intended audience?
  2. Who is speaking in the biblical text and who is it directed to as a listening audience?
Let’s look at the second point.  Look at the end of Mark’s chapter 8.

And He began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things, and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. Mark 8:31 (NKJV)

Who is the them who He began to teach? The disciples of Jesus? The Twelve? The multitudes and the disciples? Who is them in this context?

Then, after you find them, go to the passage that reads: When He had called the people to Himself, with His disciples also, He said to them, Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. (v. 34).  We now have a full view of who He (being Jesus) is talking to at the end of the chapter.  Read it so that it can be understood.

No amount of theological school or seminary will ever wipe out such fundamental study practices like this.  It should be seen as necessary for basic Bible study to be conducted in such a manner to gain an understanding of what is actually happening within the text and who is actually involved, not who is assumed to be involved in it.

As we enter into chapter 9 of Mark, let us continue to keep our eyes attentive to what we read in the text.  See who is involved and how so.  Otherwise, we may start making some errors in interpreting what occurs from verse to verse, even in a straightforward biblical book like Mark.

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Looking Back in Mark

Read Mark chapter 1 again.  Read that part between verses 16 through 20, the part where Jesus called them and they responded.  Look at verses 18 and 20.

Immediately they left their nets and followed Him.– Mark 1:18
Jesus called them.  They left their nets.  They left their fishing boats and gear.  They left everything to follow Him.
That was early during the Lord’s ministry.  That was before He called them together as the Twelve and gave them power over unclean spirits.  That was way before Jesus fed five thousand or four thousand with fish and bread loaves, leaving baskets of fragments each time.  That was even before Peter spoke up and claimed Jesus to be the Christ.
In fact, that was even before Peter spoke up and said: “We have left everything to follow you!” (Mark 10:28).
Jesus could have called them on their initial response to His calling them.  He could have said: “Whoa, y’all! Wait a minute.  I thought you wanted to hang out with the Messiah.  I thought you wanted to be part of the change that’s taking place.  Was that not real?” He sure could have said that to them.
What could he say to us?
Yo, ________________ (Insert Your Name), whatever happened with that stuff you said about it being about just you and I from here on?
Was that real or just something to say?
Let me know.

Yours truly,   Jesus (the Christ)   Think about it.  It doesn’t make Jesus any less powerful.  He still has power and authority.  We just end up looking bad due to our failure to keep our promises to Him.  When we look back, can we have enough faith to stick it out and hang on a little longer with Jesus?   Or, do we have to get Jesus to rebuke us right after He gets done with the wind and the waves?

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Reading the Gospel of Mark reveals the many movements of Jesus in His ministry.  It shows just how mobile Jesus made His earthly ministry.  He kept things moving.  He managed to minister while on the move.

The woman with an issue of blood occurred while Jesus was on the move.  Jesus healing the deaf and mute man in Decapolis happened while He was moving from one place to another.  Much of what Jesus does in the Gospel of Mark shows us that ministry can be mobilized to reach people here and there.

Yes, the Lord does demonstrate how it can work outside of the church.  He shows us how we can serve others with our gifts and abilities as we come and go on this earth.  We see the Lord at work, serving men, woemn and children and meeting needs as He goes about His daily business.

Search through the Gospel of Mark and discover how to minister to others outside of the sanctuary.  See how we can do more outside of the church building to share with others and lead them to Christ.  Read it and see for yourself that the Lord wants us working.  In other words, He wants us serving.

This week we continue in Mark chapter 8 and see a blind man healed, Peter confessing Jesus to be the Christ, and Jesus predicting His own death at the hands of those who will reject Him.  Complete our latest pop-up quiz on Mark today.

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Genesis Record, The: A Scientific and Devotional Commentary on the Book of Beginnings
1Now Abraham moved on from there into the region of the Negev and lived between Kadesh and Shur. For a while he stayed in Gerar, 2and there Abraham said of his wife Sarah, “She is my sister.” Then Abimelech king of Gerar sent for Sarah and took her. –Genesis 20:1-2 (NIV)

Have you ever repeated a mistake? You have gone through it at least once before, but you repeat it anyhow.  Rather than rely upon God, you start relying upon instinct and intuition.  yet, you find yourself back in the same situation that you once experienced and should have learned from some time ago.

Abraham did just that.  He had done similarly as to when he entered into Egypt.  He  told his wife to tell those they encountered that she was his sister (Gen. 12:13; Gen. 20:2).  He was different in Genesis 12.  He was still Abram then, but now he had a new name.  He was uncertain of what God wanted to do with him, but now he had been assured by God.  He was unsure of this land that God would show him, but now he had already seen the land of promise

What gives?

We really don’t know.  If we knew, we most probably wouldn’t repeat mistakes like that ourselves.  If it was so easy, we could condemn Abraham.  However, it is not so easy and we surely don’t have an easy answer that we can just slip in and suggest as a rationale for repeating mistakes.

What we can do is simply try our best to avoid making repeated mistakes.  Is there a lesson that we should learn in it? Learn in it and grow from there.  Cut down the number of repeat mistakes by seeking the counsel of God.  Pray before you make a major move.  Ask of God before making transitions and shifts in your plan.  Listen to God’s Spirit.  Hear what the Lord has to say to you, then make a move.  Possibly, if you are attentive and act accordingly, you will see yourself making fewer and fewer repeated mistakes.

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But Daniel sresolved that he would not tdefile himself with kthe king’s food, or with lthe wine that he drank. Therefore he asked the chief of the eunuchs to allow him not to tdefile himself.- Daniel 1:8 (NLT)

What we learn from the many biblical examples provided to us is that God can distinguish us with a divine destiny.  We don’t have to walk long with the Lord before we feel the spiritual tug on our lives and find ourselves marked for an assignment by Master.  He uses whomever He chooses.

It is so with Daniel as we read this familiar text from the Scriptures.  Circumstances and situations collide and culminate in cornucopia of change, change that is caused by being called out from among the crowd by the Creator.  So we find young Daniel among those marked by a secular king to expand and extend an earthly kingdom but simultaneously handpicked by the spiritual King of kings to exemplify and express a heavenly kingdom.  Daniel was distinguished for a divine destiny, for God indeed had called him to stand. Yes, He hose daniel to stand for truth with integrity and to stand for God amid idolatrous defilement.  God had called on this young man to lead a spiritual stand against impurity.  The fact of the matter is that God has called on many of us stand…in the courtroom, at the school district, in college lecture halls, in community meetings, even at the barbershop and the beauty shop.  God has called on His people to stand…to stand for Him in dark times and to stand on His promises even where you see no provision.

So what happens when God calls you stand?

  • He will cause you to stand up

Daniel has a turning point in this text that sets him apart from the other young men. The Word simply says: “Daniel purposed in his heart not to defile himself.” It’s an internal decision before his external demonstration.  It’s a personal resolution before it is a public result. You see something happened in Daniel’s heart before anything came out of his mouth.  Therefore, when Daniel did speak, God had already stirred something within him before he started something through him.    If God calls you to stand, He will cause you to stand up for Him and to His glory.  If you want to test where somebody’s standing, look and see who’s going to get the glory.  That’ll tell you all you need to know.  We are to stand up but stand up for God and the purpose He has given us, seeking nothing for ourselves.

  • …to stand out

After approved and acted on, Daniel and his comrades appeared to stand out from the rest.  Their countenance glowed differently than the others.  The appeared healthier than their counterparts.  God caused them to stand out.   What we take into our bodies has an effect on us, particularly in our appearance.  Take in junk and you start showing signs of how junk is affecting you.

  • … to stand above

So in the end we that God will cause you to stand up and He’ll cause you to stand out.  But what’s real impressive about God is that He’ll even cause you to stand above.  Daniel and his friends stood out so much that they stood above the other young men.  In fact when presented before the king they were even standing above those who the king already had in place. like astrologers and magicians.  God uses these young men proved to be a cut above all of those as well.  You see when take a stand for God based upon His calling you, He can cause you to stand above…He can cause you to stand above your circumstances…your situation…your health condition…your socioeconomic status…your education level…your marital status…even when you don’t believe in yourself, you better believe in God…He can cause you to stand above it all.


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Open my eyes so that I can see the wonderful truths in your law.-Psalm 119:18 (NIV)

Bible study should lead to life-changing action on the part of the reader.  What the Bible teaches and tells us about life should help us as we live daily, seeking to live in truth.  In essence, the Bible should help to open our eyes to God’s truth.

A thorough study of a book of the Bible using Bible study methods should lead to discovery and understanding.  On the front end, prayer should prepare us for our personal Bible study time.  As we pray, we must seek the Lord for guidance in getting distractions out of the way and allowing us to get the meat, the solid food, of the Word of God.  The end result should be an understanding of the Word that allows every individual to deepen his or her personal relationship with God.  The goal is to learn more about God through the Word so that we can live differently here on earth and look forward to an eternity with God.

Michael Smith says it best with the lyrics that simply say:

Open the eyes of my heart, Lord
Open the eyes of my heart
I want to see You
I want to see You

To see You high and lifted up
Shinin’ in the light of Your glory
Pour out Your power and love
As we sing holy, holy, holy

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While Paul was saying these things to defend himself, Festus said loudly, “Paul, you are out of your mind! Too much study has driven you crazy!”- Acts 26:24 (NCV)

Paul has met his divine appointment.  He has faced fate faithfully, sharing his personal testimony blended with a thorough mix of the Good News and a  history of God’s people of faith.   Yet, we also learn that God can prepare us for a lifetime for that divine appointment.  He can train us for years for just one singular moment.  I suggest 5 strategies for approaching your Bible study lessons to take your teaching and preaching to another level.

  • Purpose: Identify the “why” for your study.  Why are you studying this text/ passage? What’s the point? Know your purpose before you even start.
  • Preparation: Once armed with your purpose, you can prepare accurately.  You cut to the chase in your Bible study and sermon preparation.  You will see things differently, seeing a clear pathway to your goal as the Spirit leads you.
  • Practice: You practice to perfect.  As you practice, you review your material with your audience in mind.  You start to get a feel for your pace and how to personalize your presentation.
  • Performance: You have to show and prove.  That’s where you give it your all and hold nothing back.  Do what you do to His glory.
  • Post-Performance: You have to review what you have already done.  You want to perfect your presentation skills.  Did you connect with the people?Did you connect the people with your material? Be able to identify what needs more work and how to rework it to make it work out for the better.

Let this simple serve as a general guide for you.  As you become more and more practiced, you will be able to identify particular methods that help you more than others as you prepare to teach and preach.  This simple guide is a plan to help you get started and stay on track from start to finish.  Keep in mind that God’s will is supreme and overrides all that is suggested here.  Let what is presented here simply help you become more confident in what God has for you as it confirms what He lays upon your heart.

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