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Read 2 Timothy 1:3-6

“When I call to remembrance the unfeigned faith that is in thee, which dwelt first in thy grandmother Lois, and thy mother Eunice; and I am persuaded that in thee also” (v. 5).

A young man told my husband, “If my mom were the only Christian I knew, I never would have become one!” How important is it to have the real thing? In most areas of life, it matters not one whit whether you have “a cheap knock-off” instead of the “genuine article.” If the lesser one works, no problem!

This is so-not-true when it come to our spiritual lives. The ones we are closest to, the ones we are around the most will know if our faith is real. Someone said that even sinners know how a Christian should act. This doesn’t mean a Christian will always have a godly reaction to every situation, but a faithful Christian will ask forgiveness, make restitution, and seek God’s help to change a character flaw or mistake.

If you desire your faith to be passed on to the next generations of your family, they must know without any doubt that you are genuine. If changes need to be made, make them immediately with God’s help. Get rid of anything fake in your walk with God. It is most likely people know if you are not genuinely walking with God anyway and will consider you and your faith a fraud. (Wanda Skeen)

I would be true, for there are those who trust me.— Howard Walter

Be the real deal, true blue through and through.

This devotional is the Monday, April 24, 2017 entry of Opening the Word.

Object Lesson

Using object lessons may seem a technique best left for teaching children, but this method is surprisingly effective in teaching adults. Just ask the chagrined pastor whose congregation is more abuzz after the service about his “children’s sermon” than the message he spent hours crafting!

  1. Plan your object lesson well in advance of Sunday. Searching for the necessary materials last-minute creates unnecessary stress that can keep you from a proper focus on your lesson.
  2. Avoid over-analogizing or over-spiritualizing your object lesson. Like Jesus’ parables were meant to make ONE point rather than for each aspect to hold some spiritual significance, the better object lesson will seek to make one point, rather than to provide a complete picture of life.
  3. Consider your audience. While some object lessons may be very effective, others may promote the idea of childishness and therefore detract from the authority of God’s Word.

Building Family Relationships

Lesson 9 - April 30, 2017

Focus Text: Ephesians 5:31-6:4; Colossians 3:18-21; 1 Peter 3:1-7

Key Verse:  Except the LORD build the house, they labour in vain that build it (Psalm 127:1).

Central Truth:  The Christian home should follow God's relational principles.

Objective: By the end of this lesson my students should be able to list several ways they can make their home a better place in which to live.

Lesson Outline:

  1. God's Order for Marriage (Ephesians 5:31-33; 1 Peter 3:1-7; Colossians 3:18, 19)
  2. God's Order for Children (Colossians 3:20; Ephesians 6:1-3)
  3. God's Order for Parents (Ephesians 6:4; Colossians 3:21)

Biblical Metaphors for the Church

In "Doctrinal Discussion" Jason Lindahl writes:

Although the practice of referring to the church as a family existed long before the Gaithers, their song “The Family of God” clearly shows that the Church is a group of people who are connected by a common heritage. Each member of this family bears the marks of their Father — even God. And while each member is unique, the stress in the Church is upon the qualities members have in common because they are in a very real sense related to God. In this metaphor, the emphasis is upon the connectedness of the members of the Church. The Church is called the Bride of Christ. The context is still family, but the emphasis now shifts to the relationship between each member and their Lord, Jesus Christ. Marriage highlights the love that each church member feels for Jesus, and also the intimacy of that relationship. As beautiful and fulfilling as marriage is, Ephesians 5 seems to suggest that it is just a foretaste of the Christian's relationship with Jesus. When the Church is referred to as the Body of Christ, the emphasis is back on the inter-relatedness and dependence of the members of the Church. This metaphor highlights the two dimensions of church relationships. But this metaphor also places primary focus on the fact that Jesus is the Head of the Church — the chief executive officer. When things happen in an organization calling itself a church that are not directed by Jesus, that organization is losing its qualification to be called a church. A metaphor for the Church that comes from the animal world is the flock. Sheepherders are unanimous in their assessment that sheep are helpless, dependent animals. They often do foolish things that require the shepherd to undo, or else the sheep will die. Sheep must be led to places of food, drink, and shelter. This metaphor emphasizes the submission of the Christian to the Lord. The plant kingdom also provides a metaphor to communicate the meaning of the Church. In John 15, Jesus referred to Himself as the vine, and individual Christians are the branches. Just as no power tool can do its job unless it is connected to a power source, so Christians become impotent and ultimately will perish without being connected to Christ. The final metaphor comes from the field of architecture. The church is the building of God. The Bible makes it clear that Jesus is the foundation, the cornerstone, and the door of this building. Peter pointed out that Christians are merely the stones that make up the building. These stones are held in place by the mortar of the Spirit.

Source: Building Christian Relationships: Adult Teacher's Insights, page 50.

Seeking peace despite disagreement

In "God's Word for Today" Gordon Snider writes:

As I write this lesson, the presidential race of 2016 is underway. In my lifetime, I have never seen the evangelical community so divided in a presidential election. Christians are “de-friending” other Christians on Facebook because the rhetoric is so strong. It just goes to show that it is difficult to fellowship with people who have strong feelings that differ from our own. Yet Paul, in today's lesson, calls for harmony in the face of disagreements. Disagreements will not vanish because the election is over. Serious conflicts still exist among believers over things like recreation, appearance, worship styles, and Sabbath observance, just to name a few. Paul was not calling us to compromise the truth, but he was calling the Church to live in harmony. Today's texts can give us clear direction about how to “shoot the rapids” of controversy while maintaining the unity of the Body of Christ. Perhaps no truth is more needed today than this one!

Source: Building Christian Relationships: Adult Teacher's Insights, page 46.

How do Christians edify one another?

In "Word Focus" Glenn McClure writes:

One of the keys to understanding our printed text is the word edify, which occurs both in Romans 14:19 and in 15:2, where it is translated “edification.” This is a key word because it describes one of the basic motivations of Christian action. But it is also a word that is not used in casual conversation. The Greek word is actually a combination of two words, one meaning “to build” and the other meaning “a house.” So the obvious meaning is “to build a house.” Clearly the intended meaning of this word can best be visualized by remembering the last time you observed a construction project. Each piece of material was carefully put in place so that, when the project was completed, the building would be able to bear the load expected of it. That picture suggests that when Paul exhorted us to “edify [one] another” he imagined that every Christian is a part of the construction crew that is erecting a fellow Christian. The goal of our work is that our efforts will enable our fellow Christian to bear the load he or she will be expected to bear. What should inspire in us a sense of awe is that we as Christians are being asked to do what God himself was said to be doing in Jeremiah 24:6.

Source: Building Christian Relationships: Adult Teacher's Insights, page 46.

Return Blessing for Reviling

Read 1 Corinthians 4:11-16

“And labor, working with our own hands: being reviled, we bless; being persecuted, we suffer it” (v. 12).

At the local grocery store one day a pastor was noticed by a man who had just entered. Very loudly, the man addressed the pastor telling a story, equating preachers with Adolf Hitler's fanaticism. The pastor listened politely and went on his way. Later, this man apologized to the pastor saying that he had not meant to intimate that all pastors were like Hitler. The pastor responded graciously but the libelous words still hurt. Another time a pastor was accosted by an alcoholic who proceeded to rail and rant against one of his church members for half an hour. The pastor attempted to listen politely, while holding the accusations in suspension of belief, seeking some way to minister to the hurting man. It hurts when the world shouts accusations and works to harm God's people, even though we may be able to dismiss the accusations as false. What really hurts is when God's people turn on us, accusing us of evil motives. Yet we are called to bless even when we are reviled. (David Woods)

Is there someone who has spoken evil of you recently for whom God would have you say a prayer of blessing?

This devotional is the Wednesday, April 19, 2017 entry of Opening the Word.


Some people just like to argue; and some are really good at it! Consider using this propensity to your advantage when preparing for lessons that are conducive to strong arguments and opinions. Think about two different well-spoken individuals in your class who would be willing to prepare beforehand for a debate-style presentation during your class.

It should be emphasized to the participants (and maybe even the class) that the point of this debate is not to destroy faith, but to enable the class to seriously consider both pros and cons of whatever the issue is, even though one side of the argument might seem to be heretical - that real, sound faith does not have all the answers, that ambiguity is okay, and that such questions can bring us closer to God rather than to draw us away. (It is better than a ball team’s weaknesses be exposed on the practice field than during a competition.)

When Christians Disagree

Lesson 8 - April 23, 2017

Focus Text:  Philippians 2:1-4; Romans 14:19-23; 15:1-7

Central Truth:  Christ expects His Church to be unified in our love for Him.

Objective: By the end of this lesson my students should be able to identify ways they can strengthen relationships in our local church.

Lesson Outline:

  1. Seek to Avoid Confrontations (Philippians 2:1-4)
  2. Follow After Peace (Romans 14:19-23)
  3. Forbear One Another (Romans 15:1-4)
  4. Receive One Another (Romans 15:5-7)