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The Inspiration of Hope

Monday, December 18

Read 1 John 3:1-6

“And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he [Christ] is pure” (v. 3).

It is easy to become discouraged when it can seem so long since Christ ascended leaving us with the promise that He would come again. Many times Christians are taunted by the world for believing in such an old promise. The fact is that we, much like Simeon and Anna (Luke 2:25-40), aren’t believing in an old promise but in an ever-present Promise Giver. This is the reason for the discipline and effort that the Christian must make to be made pure “even as he is pure.” We must live our lives every day with the awareness that His coming is imminent and we must be ready.

I had a close family member that suffered a major heart attack and needed a heart transplant. While waiting for that to happen, he would have some very rough days. He was unable to participate in some activities, eat some foods, and visit some places. His life style had to be altered to be a candidate for that procedure. He often commented that he could tolerate these trials because he would get a new heart someday and be able to get back to a full life.

We must be willing to change our lives now because of the hope of what is yet to come. (Tim Brubeck)

“My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness” (Edward Mote).

Encourage Your Students

Take a few moments to inspire the class with the hope of eternity. Encourage the members to look up or quote verses that come to mind about heaven. Start the conversation with Titus 3:7: “That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.” Discuss the aspect of faith in this matter, and point out the confidence that Christians can have based upon Scripture. Allow an opportunity for testimonies of God’s assurance in the lives of individuals. Perhaps there are those who would like to share a story about the “home-going” of a saint that they experienced. The awareness of something supernatural is often evident to those in the room, and the one passing from this life is many times filled with a sense of peace. End by including, “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life” (John 3:36).

Young at Heart

There may be teens and young adults in your church that your class members know well (or not at all). Together as a group, discuss conceivable activities that could be planned to assist your group in developing a closer connection with the youth of your church. Following are some possible events to consider: family game night, church picnic, youth/adult interviews (pre-planned questions to facilitate conversations), progressive dinners, etc. In order to easily permit parishioners to get better acquainted, perhaps factsheets listing information about each young person could be compiled. These might include a picture, age, year in school/occupation, details about one’s family, interests/hobbies, and a prayer need. The adult class members could select one or more youth to remember in prayer, and they could make a point to write notes of encouragement to the young people and intentionally develop a connection with them.

God’s Providences

Lesson 13 - November 26, 2017

Focus Text: Genesis 37:23–28, 36; 39:19–23; 41:37–41

Central Truth: God works through our circumstances to fulfill His purposes.

Objective: By the end of this lesson my students should be able to give examples how God works through various circumstances to accomplish His will.

Lesson Outline:

  1. Sold into Slavery (Genesis 37:23–28, 36)
  2. Betrayed by a Lie (Genesis 39:19–23)
  3. Promoted (Genesis 41:37–41)

Sharing Our Faith

Witnessing to others is crucial to our spiritual growth in Christ. Inquire with the students about the circles of influence they believe they currently have in their personal lives and encourage them to give their testimony in class. Challenge them to find someone this next week with whom they can share their “Jesus story.” It is best to keep it brief (one or two minutes) by using the following formula: “1) There was a time in my life when . . . 2) Then I met Jesus . . . 3) Since that time . . . 4) My life is not perfect, but through God’s grace I now . . . 5) Do you have a story like that?” They should then be prepared to entertain a conversation about God. To ensure that each student can lead another to the Lord, walk through the following verses in class: John 3:16; Romans 3:23; 1 John 1:9; Revelation 3:20.

Rebekah Seeks to Serve

Read Genesis 24:16-21

“And when she had done giving him drink, she said, I will draw water for thy camels also, until they have done drinking” (v. 19).

Has “servant practice” led you to a position that you didn’t expect, one for which you did not work, anticipate, or feel qualified?

Rebekah is pure, attractive, strong, articulate, efficient, gracious, and generous. Without being asked, she serves. She goes out of her way. For a stranger. For no “known” profit, thought, or reason. Without any selfish motivations. When she is finished with the initial request she does more, and more, and more. That’s what true servants do.

There is a big difference between serving and seeking to serve. The former is attached to the duties and assignments of life; often they are tasks expected of me. The latter is something I seek. How often do I rake the leaves for an elderly neighbor or take time to listen to a heartache? When did I last go out of my way for a stranger who needed a ride? When did I last give my meal away to someone who needed it more than I?

What Rebekah did had nothing to do with her responsibilities involving her service commitments to her family and their livestock. She stepped beyond that to authentic servanthood.

In chapel services at Mountain State Bible School, we often sang about serving Him because we love Him, allowing Him to take our ruined lives, and use them for His glory. (SEM)

To one who has been given life, serving is a joy!

This devotional is the Tuesday, November 14, 2017 entry of Opening the Word.

Finding God’s Will

Lesson 12 - November 19, 2017

Focus Text: Genesis 24:10-20

Central Truth: Knowing God’s will gives confidence for all life’s choices.

Objective: By the end of this lesson my students should be able to list ways we can know God’s will.

Lesson Outline:

  1. Prospects for a Bride (Genesis 24:1-27)
  2. Proposal to the Bride (Genesis 24:28-49)
  3. Preparation of the Bride (Genesis 24:50-60)
  4. Presentation of the Bride (Genesis 24:61-67)

Continue reading Finding God’s Will

Inductive Bible Study

It is important to teach members to engage in inductive Bible study methods. Empower the students, and discover what captures the interest of each individual. Rather than using a lecture style, facilitate a group discussion. Sit around a table(s) in groups of ten or fewer to allow for adults to view one another as equals. Each person should re-read the Bible passage quietly for five to ten minutes, looking for the one main point and several key concepts. Later, compare the conclusions drawn by each reader. If there are glaring errors in interpretation that are offered up, step in to give an alternative explanation based on Scripture. After the passage is presented, ask probing, open-ended questions. If there is time remaining after this process has taken place, bring out Bible concordances and dictionaries for further study. Encourage attendees to follow this study method at home.

The Walk of Faith

Read 2 Corinthians 4:8-11

“For we which live are always delivered unto death for Jesus’ sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh” (v. 11).

The inseparable law of the Christian life is — “No Cross, No Crown.” Today‘s Scripture highlights the paradoxes we can expect when we walk by faith. We are:

Sore pressed at every point, but not hemmed in;
At our wit’s end, but never our hope’s end;
Persecuted by men, but never abandoned by God;
Knocked down, but not knocked out.

This walk of faith, despite life’s adversities, makes us more than conquerors through Christ. We are strengthened with divine courage, knowing that if we share the life of Christ, we must also share His suffering.

The location chosen for the great Hoover Dam comprised a vast area of desert. In its construction, inevitably there were those who lost their lives. At the completion of the project, a tablet was placed in the wall of the dam which bore the names of the ninety-six workers who had perished, with this inscription below it: “These died that the desert might rejoice and blossom as a rose.“ Today, the reservoir created by the 726 feet tall structure supplies water to farms, businesses, and millions of people in Nevada, Arizona, California, and Mexico.

How could Paul go through what he did? He knew his afflictions were not in vain; they were to bring others to God. Walking by faith, whatever the risks or cost, enables us to do and endure all things for Christ’s sake. Trials do not disappear, but God gives overcoming grace.

“Faith makes things possible, not easy” (Unknown).

This devotional is the Wednesday, November 8, 2017 entry of Opening the Word.

The Importance of Faith

Lesson 11 - November 12, 2017

Focus Text: Genesis 22:1-13

Central Truth: Our faith in God is demonstrated by our obedience to His will.

Objective: By the end of this lesson my students should be able to identify why faith must result in action.

Lesson Outline:

  1. The Command Received (Genesis 22:1-2)
  2. The Command Respected (Genesis 22:3-10)
  3. The Command Rescinded (Genesis 22:11-19)