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What is the Purpose of Life?

Lesson 3 - March 18, 2018

Focus Text: Ecclesiastes 3:1, 9-22; 12:13-14

Central Truth: Our purpose in life is to glorify God.

Objective: By the end of this lesson my students should be able to identify way we can glorify God with our lives.

Lesson Outline:

  1. The Order of Life (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8)
  2. The Gifts of Life (Ecclesiastes 3:9-13)
  3. The Judgment of Life (Ecclesiastes 3:14-22)
  4. The Duty of Life (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14)

Does God Answer Prayer

Lesson 2 - March 11, 2018

Focus Text: Luke 11:1-13; 1 John 5:14-15

Central Truth: We can pray confidently knowing that God will answer us.

Objective: By the end of this lesson my students should be able to list ways God answers prayer.

Lesson Outline:

  1. Pattern for Prayer (Luke 11:1-4)
  2. Persistence in Prayer (Luke 11:5-13)
  3. Confidence in Prayer (1 John 5:14-15)

Earnestness in Prayer

Read Exodus 2:23-25

“And it came to pass in process of time, that the king of Egypt died: and the children of Israel sighed by reason of the bondage, and they cried, and their cry came up unto God by reason of the bondage” (v. 23).

How does a person assess “earnestness in prayer”? Some prayer meetings might give the impression that earnestness is equated with volume. The louder the prayer, the more earnest it is. Earnestness might also be evaluated by persistence. In that case, a no-quit attitude would be evidence of earnestness.

It is unlikely that the Israelites in our text came together for times of group prayer. And it is equally unlikely that they prayed at the top of their voices. The authorities would likely have frowned on either scenario. But what is clear is that their cries got the attention of God and that as a result the deliverance process was begun.

Earnestness could be defined as a heartfelt conviction that God is the only answer to our dilemma. Probably how it is expressed is as different as the people praying. But God knows when a seeker is completely given to crying out to God for an answer. And history has shown that when God gets that message, He acts! (Gordon Snider)

Faith, mighty faith, the promise sees,
And looks to that alone;

Laughs at impossibilities,

And cries, “It shall be done!” — Charles Wesley

Earnest prayer knows no impossibilities.

This devotional is the Monday, February 19 , 2018 entry of Opening the Word.

Practice what you preach

Present this pertinent challenge to the class: Have you ever heard anyone say, “Practice what you preach!”? Is your reaction one of feeling criticized? It is not an unreasonable command or request. This concept is paired with the saying, “Actions speak louder than words.” Take a look at your own behaviors. Are you living out what you truly believe? It is so much easier to find fault in others, but we need to continually examine ourselves by turning the mirror of God’s Word upon our souls. The Bible addresses this issue, “And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? … Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye” (Matt. 7:3–5).

Praying for Revival

Lesson 13 - February 25, 2018

Focus Text: Isaiah 63:15-64:12

Central Truth: The prayer of all Christians is that God would make His presence known so that all nations would recognize His greatness.

Objective: By the end of this lesson my students will have learned from Isaiah how to petition God for the revival of His people.

Lesson Outline:

  1. The Identity of God's People (Isaiah 63:11-19)
  2. The Cry of God's People (Isaiah 64:1-4)
  3. The Confession of God's People (Isaiah 64:5-12)

Mission: To Protect a People

Read Esther 4:6–14

“For if thou altogether holdest thy peace at this time, then shall there enlargement and deliverance arise to the Jews from another place; but thou and thy father’s house shall be destroyed: and who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” (v. 14).

During World War II the ten Boom family felt it necessary to hide Jews from Nazi soldiers. The family prepared a room in their home to keep these individuals hidden. This family was willing to risk their lives to save a people, the Jews. It is estimated that they saved 800 persons. In so doing, some of the ten Boom family died in prison, and others lived on to tell of God’s great love during those troublesome times.

Esther, in our Scripture for today, was a noble and courageous lady who valiantly stood in the gap, defending her people, the Jews, and triumphed in her mission to protect the nation of Israel from Haman’s devious scheme.

What produces such lion-hearted boldness in a person? My friend, it is love; God’s love! There are millions of unborn babies murdered; what are we doing about it? There are souls headed for eternity; are we willing to stand up and share the salvation message with them? It is our mission! (Sharonda Baker)

Who is on the Lord’s side? Who will serve the King?
Who will be His helpers other lives to bring?
Who will leave the world’s side? Who will face the foe?

Are we willing to stand alone and fill in the gap for truth and righteousness?

This devotional is the Tuesday, February 13, 2018 entry of Opening the Word.

The Christian Race

“I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 3:14). The biblical metaphor of “the Christian race” is familiar to us. What if we allowed this concept to propel us forward each day? Think about your religious workouts (Bible reading, meditation, prayer, memorization, witnessing, etc.). Do you find that you have hit a wall, or are you advancing in your faith? A steady pace is advised if you want to have endurance until the finish line. Remember that it is a marathon rather than a sprint. Have you discovered that your spiritual “hamstrings” are strained? Be sure to stretch before you begin, and check your heart rate regularly along the way. Strive to set personal records, and reach for your individual best. Invite others to join you side-by-side, and expect those metaphorical endorphins to “kick in.” Run the race victoriously!

Engaged in Mission

Lesson 12 - February 18, 2018

Focus Text: Isaiah 61:1-11

Central Truth: Because the Holy Spirit dwells in them, the mission of all Christians is to bring restoration to the broken of earth.

Objective: By the end of this lesson my students will understand that to be true followers of Jesus, Christians must be driven by a spirit of mission to bring restoration to the broken of earth.

Lesson Outline:

  1. The Spirit of the Christian's Mission (Isaiah 61:1-3)
  2. The Goal of the Christian's Mission (Isaiah 61:4-9)
  3. The Joy of the Christian's Mission (Isaiah 61:10-11)

The Sacrifice of the Servant

Read Isaiah 53:4–9

“Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted” (v. 4).

The servant must focus on his mission. Jesus identified His mission as “to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10). He was passionately consumed with that mission. John the Baptist summed it up when he said, “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world,” (John 1:29), but here Isaiah spells out what that involved. The Servant of the Lord was “stricken, smitten of God, afflicted,” He was “wounded for our transgressions, bruised for our iniquities,” chastised for our peace, seeking our healing with His stripes. The mission, not the sacrifice, occupied Him!

However, it is the sacrifice that grabs our attention when verse 6 of this passage says, “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned everyone to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.” Yet the cost of the sacrifice did not thwart His mission of love! As Lord and Servant-Savior, He willingly sacrificed to the utmost to accomplish His mission for you and me! (Rodney Stearns)

He left His Father’s throne above,

So free, so infinite His grace!

Emptied Himself of all but love,

And bled for Adam’s helpless race;

’Tis mercy all immense and free.

For, O my God, it found out me!

— Charles Wesley

He suffered to save; new life He gave!

This devotional is the Tuesday, February 6, 2018 entry of Opening the Word.

Studying Bible Themes

What does the Bible say about marriage? Have the students list several themes from Scripture that characterize God’s intentions and plan for matrimony. Talk about the purposes of nuptials, and mention some of the differences that may be present in a Christian marriage vs. a secular or ungodly one. Have the class members share some blessings that they have experienced in their own marital relationships, or allow them the opportunity to tell of examples of couples who have followed God’s plan for a Christian home. Perhaps you could explore possible decisions that individuals might make that would take them away from a godly ideal of marital bliss. Discuss barriers to happiness that a wedded twosome faces which may prevent the unit from achieving God’s will for their lives. Ask the group for principles to live by that class members could share to bolster the strength of marriages today.