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Following Christ

“And he left all, rose up, and followed him” (v. 28).

Jesus’ call is very simple. All He asked Levi to do was follow Him. There were no requirements and no application process. The only thing Jesus asked for was a response and commitment. On the surface, the response is also very simple. Levi simply had to stand up out of his seat and begin to walk with the Master. However, beneath the surface, we see a much deeper response and a greater commitment. Levi was leaving behind the only life he knew. He was leaving behind not only his occupation but also the source of his wealth as a tax collector. He was leaving his friends and the life style of feasts and parties.

Yet Levi saw something in Jesus that made all he was leaving behind seem worthless because what he was gaining had infinitely more value. No doubt the pull of Levi’s old life sometimes seemed very strong. Perhaps he had to deal with the implications of walking off the job and leaving everything behind. We don’t know that part of the story, but what we do know is that he stayed with Jesus and became one of the twelve apostles and a founder of God’s new Church. Jesus called a very diverse group of men to follow him. Perhaps the only thing they all had in common was their response and commitment to His call. (Kevin R. Askew)

Trust and obey For there’s no other way To be happy in Jesus But to trust and obey. — John Sammis

Have you left all and followed like Levi?

Paul: Saved to Serve

Focus Text: Acts 9:1-16

Central Truth: Christ calls us from self-centered righteousness to selfless service.

Objective: By the end of this lesson my students should be able to identify some areas of service in which they need to be involved.

Lesson Outline:

I. Confronted by Christ (Acts 9:1-5)

II. Submission to Christ (Acts 9:6-9)

III. Sent by Christ (Acts 9:10-16)

 

Picture of a Disciple

Create a word picture of Peter for your character notebook.
Peter was a man who often acted on impulse, but still was mightily used of God.
Ask the class to list what Jesus may have seen in Peter to select him to be a disciple.
List the differences in Peter when he was first called and after he became an apostle. List the similarities.
What motivated Peter? Why was he a man of action? How was his action modified and directed after he met Christ?
Compare Peter’s faith to that of other people in the Bible. Compare our faith to Peter’s faith.

 

Submission to the Father

“And he went a little farther, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless, not as I will, but as thou wilt” (v. 39).

We have this idea that Jesus went through His life, happily looking forward to the cross. We sing, “He had no tears for His own grief, but sweat- drops of blood for mine,” from Charles Gabriel’s otherwise wonderful hymn “My Savior’s Love.” In these last moments, before He would begin rushing headlong for the cross, Jesus was asking His Father if there was any other way. Jesus did not want to go through the agony of crucifixion.

We get several English words from the Latin crux. One of them is “excruciating,” which we use to describe unbearable pain. Unbearable pain was the point of crucifixion. Nails were driven through the wrists and ankles, but that was only the beginning. The nails were driven in such a way that one was supported by the nail in the ankles, but had to pull one’s self up on the nails in the wrist in order to breathe. Very often the victim had been whipped, so the lacerated back scraped up and down the rough wood of the cross. Added to this was the humiliation of being naked and held up for public spectacle.

Why would Jesus submit Himself to the Father’s will and embrace the cross? Hebrews 12:2 tells us that Jesus went to the cross “for the joy set before him.” The joy set before Him was the salvation of sinners. His obedience even to death has saved us. (Randy J. Bland)

How marvelous, how wonderful! And my song shall ever be: How marvelous, how wonderful! Is my Savior’s love for me. — Charles Gabriel

Will you follow Jesus’ example and be obedient to the Father?

Side-by-Side Pictures

There are two characters for today’s word pictures, Mary and Martha. Create a separate picture for each one.
We are not to criticize Martha’s service, but to learn the importance of keeping our service to God in proper focus.
Analyze each woman’s weaknesses and strengths. Compare the hospitality of Martha and Mary. Was one sister better than the other?
Did Mary and Martha work as a team? Can two people working together be more effective than when working alone. 

 

Have the class tell what they admire about Mary and Martha, or about someone else they know.

 

Giving Sacrificially

“And he saw also a certain poor widow casting in thither two mites” (v. 2).

Does the Lord need our money? Right now, you may be formulating an answer in your mind. A church treasurer may say – absolutely! A pastor may be thinking — I need my salary. A missionary president may reflect upon the many needs upon the foreign field. Yet, I ask, does God really need our money?

Note three thoughts in our text verse: 1) God knows if you are giving to His cause: “he saw.” Indeed, we do have a responsibility to give our tithes and offerings to God’s work (Mal. 3:10). 2) A poor widow gave. She wanted to give to the Lord. What a wonderful attitude she displayed. “God loveth a cheerful giver” (2 Cor. 9:7). 3) She gave a small offering — only two mites. Yet, it was sacrificial, for she gave all she had (Luke 21:4). Do we likewise give sacrificially and cheerfully?

I believe that God rewarded this widow for her devoted service, and He will bless us also when we are faithful to give. (James O. Baker)

There’ll be show’rs of blessing from our Father’s hand, On His word of promise we may firmly stand; There’ll be rains refreshing on the thirsty land When the tithes are gathered in. — Mrs. C. H. Morris

What is my attitude in giving to the Lord?

Martha and Mary: Women of Devoted Service

Focus Text: Luke 10:38-42, John 11:21-29; 12:1-3

Central Truth: God uses the loving service of dedicated Christians to bless others.

Objective: By the end of this lesson my students should be able to identify various ways of serving God, the church, and others today.

Lesson Outline:

I. Displayed Hospitality

II. Believed in Jesus

II. Honored the Lord

A Melancholy Man

The character for this week's lesson is Jeremiah. Create a word picture of him for your notebook. 
Jeremiah was a melancholy man whom God used to prophesy.
What qualifications did Jeremiah have to be a prophet? What qualifications did Jeremiah think he had? 
Did Jeremiah think he was capable of doing what God wanted him to do? Describe how God can use a person who thinks he is small. Do you know of anyone like this?
Jeremiah was known as “the weeping prophet.” How can a sorrowful person like that be used by God?

 

A Lesson from God

“O house of Israel, cannot I do with you as this potter? saith the LORD. Behold, as the clay is in the potter’s hand, so are ye in mine hand, O house of Israel” (v. 6).

Maybe like you, I have some pieces of pottery in storage somewhere that I made in grade school. They are in storage because I am not proud enough of them to put them on display. But they have been “fired” in the kiln, and are beyond improvement. They can only be changed by breaking them, and then they are just trash.

I am so glad that God always has a way of reshaping the clay! Lives of abuse and neglect sometimes seem to create a permanent piece, and people despair that anything new or beautiful can come from their piece of clay. But God has a unique way of reshaping even lives that have been made hard by sin.

A year ago our church began a ministry called Celebrate Recovery. Every other Wednesday night we watch a testimony supplied by the national organization of the transforming grace of God. When the testimony ends, the words I hear most in our men’s group are, “I would have given up on that person long ago.” But God didn’t. Instead He reshaped the clay.

Do you think you are beyond reshaping? Do you feel the hurts of life have made it impossible for you to be the person you were meant to be? (Gordon L. Snider)

Give God the broken pieces!