The Church in Obedience

In our Sunday school lesson this week we are studying being obedient as a Christian.  And while we are not meeting in Sunday school, my wife and I try to keep up with our Sunday lessons. 

In the introduction our lesson states “Sometimes we can complicate the concept of following God.  Following God can be summed up simply as obedience.  This is really all that God demands of His people.  He does not call believers to be perfect, for God knows that perfection is impossible for mortal human beings.  All God asks is that we obey him.  Christianity is really that simple.  This lesson challenges the believer in the area of obedience.  Are you willing to be obedient to God even though it may result in opposition by men?  We find a great example to follow from the apostles as they remained obedient to God despite the opposition they faced.  More firsts develop in Acts 5:17 – 32: the first miraculous escape from prison and the first beating.” (Baptist Expositor Learner/Spring 2020 Witness to Jerusalem, Judea, and Samaria: A study of Acts 1-8)      

As Christians we get persecuted because we believe in something that others may not, because we believe in God and that we are saved by God’s grace.  That he sent his only son to die on the Cross for our sins so that we may have eternal life in Heaven.  You can see in the below scripture that the apostles stood fast in their faith in God, even though they knew they were going to be persecuted. 

17 “Then the high priest rose up, and all they that were with him, (which is the sect of the Sadducees,) and were filled with indignation,

18 And laid their hands on the apostles, and put them in the common prison.

19 But the angel of the Lord by night opened the prison doors, and brought them forth, and said,

20 Go, stand and speak in the temple to the people all the words of this life.

21 And when they heard that, they entered into the temple early in the morning, and taught. But the high priest came, and they that were with him, and called the council together, and all the senate of the children of Israel, and sent to the prison to have them brought.

22 But when the officers came, and found them not in the prison, they returned and told,

23 Saying, The prison truly found we shut with all safety, and the keepers standing without before the doors: but when we had opened, we found no man within.

24 Now when the high priest and the captain of the temple and the chief priests heard these things, they doubted of them whereunto this would grow.

25 Then came one and told them, saying, Behold, the men whom ye put in prison are standing in the temple, and teaching the people.

26 Then went the captain with the officers, and brought them without violence: for they feared the people, lest they should have been stoned.

27 And when they had brought them, they set them before the council: and the high priest asked them,

28 Saying, Did not we straitly command you that ye should not teach in this name? and, behold, ye have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine, and intend to bring this man’s blood upon us.

29 Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men.

30 The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom ye slew and hanged on a tree.

31 Him hath God exalted with his right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins.

32 And we are his witnesses of these things; and so is also the Holy Ghost, whom God hath given to them that obey him.

33 When they heard that, they were cut to the heart, and took counsel to slay them.

34 Then stood there up one in the council, a Pharisee, named Gamaliel, a doctor of the law, had in reputation among all the people, and commanded to put the apostles forth a little space;

35 And said unto them, Ye men of Israel, take heed to yourselves what ye intend to do as touching these men.

36 For before these days rose up Theudas, boasting himself to be somebody; to whom a number of men, about four hundred, joined themselves: who was slain; and all, as many as obeyed him, were scattered, and brought to nought.

37 After this man rose up Judas of Galilee in the days of the taxing, and drew away much people after him: he also perished; and all, even as many as obeyed him, were dispersed.

38 And now I say unto you, Refrain from these men, and let them alone: for if this counsel or this work be of men, it will come to nought:

39 But if it be of God, ye cannot overthrow it; lest haply ye be found even to fight against God.

40 And to him they agreed: and when they had called the apostles, and beaten them, they commanded that they should not speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go.

41 And they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name.

42 And daily in the temple, and in every house, they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ.” (Bible Gateway King James Version 2020)

It’s hard to stay the course and have faith as Christians, but that is exactly what we are called to do.  Love, Pray and Fish (more on that later). 

The Role of the Teacher

I am reading Teaching to Change Lives (Dr. Howard Hendricks 1987) for my BMA Seminary class, Introduction to Christian Teaching and it is amazing.  I’m learning so much. 

I always thought to teach is to go over the answers.  I filled in for the Sunday school teacher one day and went over the answers and I realize now that I did a terrible job.

“The true function of the teacher is to create the most favorable conditions for self-learning…True teaching is not that which gives knowledge, but that which stimulates pupils to gain it.  One might say that he teaches best who teaches least.” (John Milton Gregory)

Dr. Hendricks states “The way people learn determines how you teach.” Teaching to Change Lives (Dr. Howard Hendricks 1987).  It’s true we all learn differently.  Me I’m slow.  It takes me a while to get something.  I joke that my favorite lolly pop flavor is Windex (window licker).

In the book, he also says “the concept behind John Milton Gregory’s laws (The Seven Laws of Teaching) calls the law of the Teaching Process, it involves stimulating and directing the learner’s self-activities – that’s the key expression.” Teaching to Change Lives (Dr. Howard Hendricks 1987)

He elaborates and states “the teacher must excite and direct the learner’s self-activities, tell the learner nothing – and do nothing for him – that he can learn or do for himself.  Therefore, what’s important is not what you do as a teacher, but what the learners do as a result of what you do.”  Teaching to Change Lives (Dr. Howard Hendricks 1987)

“The teacher is primarily a stimulator and motivator, not the player, but the coach who excites and direct the players.  The learner is primarily an investigator, a discoverer and a doer.  So again, the ultimate test of teaching is not what you do or how well you do it, but what and how the learner does.  Good teachers can’t be focused on what they do, but on what their students are doing.”  Teaching to Change Lives (Dr. Howard Hendricks 1987)

Dr. Hendricks goes on to say “do you settle for the fact that they can give you all the right answers and mouth all the Christian truths?  Does that satisfy you?  I’m never impressed with how much they know.  They’re always throwing in Greek and Hebrew here and there to impress me, and I say Big Deal.  How does it work in your life?” Teaching to Change Lives (Dr. Howard Hendricks 1987)

That’s true if we can relate to what the Sunday school instructor is saying, we can gain a lot more out of it.

Finally, Dr. Hendricks says “teachers are interested in how much a student can cram into his head and then regurgitate onto a piece of paper.  In a hallway at the seminary I once met a student on his way to an exam.  He seemed to be in a trance, and I started to put my arm around him and talk to him.  Prof, he joked, don’t touch me!  I’ll leak everything I know.  That’s not education.”  Teaching to Change Lives (Dr. Howard Hendricks 1987)

A few weeks ago, our Sunday school class went over The Good Samaritan Luke 10:25 – 37 and we learned that the road between Jerusalem and Jericho is about 18 miles long and it’s a treacherous place, oftentimes people get robbed and beat up on that road and in this particular instance someone in fact did get robbed and beat up by bandits.  He was stripped of his raiment or clothes and wounded or beaten and left there. 

In those times there were three levels of Jewish hierarchy: the high priest, priests, and Levites.  And in New Testament times the priests were the ones who made sacrifices in the Temples.  A Priest passed by, but he made sure to pass by on the other side of the road and did nothing.  A Levite also saw the beaten man and also passed on the opposite side of the road and did nothing to help the man. 

However, a Samaritan, a stranger, saw the beaten man and choose to stop and help.  He poured in olive oil and wine on the wounds, bandaged his wounds.  He put the man on his own beast (animal), He brought him to an Inn, in doing so, provided a place for him to recover, and he paid for more care to be given, and promised to pay for the remainder of the bill, if needed, when he returned. 

In our Sunday school lesson we were engaged and thought about what we would do, or what would Jesus do if her were in that situation.  There is no doubt that Jesus would help the beaten man left on the side of the road.

We even talked about homeless people, or people we see on the side of the road and why we don’t just get out and ask if we can pray with them, even if you don’t have money to give them, what if we just prayed with them and for them.

We got more out of that discussion and interaction that just going over the material and being given the answers.  The goal should be to inspire change in one’s life, not to just go over the answers.    

A Busy and Blessed Sunday

Sunday my wife got up and decided she wanted to go help with the 4th Sunday morning Brotherhood breakfast that started at 730 am.  Of-course, I wanted no part of that.  That means I would be getting the kids ready, which she helped before she left, and I would finish getting the kids ready and ensure we are there at 830 am for breakfast. 

We have an almost four year-old, December 18, and a six year-old.  Anyway, I finished getting myself and the kids ready and show up to Church with the girls for brotherhood breakfast and Sunday morning devotion.

When we got there, there was pancakes being grilled outside on the grill, bacon, eggs, the works.  It was very good. 

I had worked on my Sunday school lesson the day prior and was proud of myself for studying the lesson and filling out the answers.  I even blogged about it here on my website.  Well, our Sunday school teacher couldn’t make it to Sunday school and his fill-in found out about taking his place the day before, since my wife knew I had studied the lesson, she made sure to tell “Pistol” that I had studied it, basically, volunteering me for the job.  Pistol said he had heard that I did my homework and asked if I wanted to lead the Sunday school this morning, Sunday school is in two hours. But, who am I to say no to God (“Pistol” is not God, but we are in God’s house.  Who am I to say no in God’s house?)

Plus I like to be challenged.  I don’t really like being in front of people, but I like to try to overcome my fears and I accepted the chance to present the material. 

Anyway, next up was a beautiful devotion from one of our beloved Church members that was another blessing to listen to her speak.  It was a touching devotion about making sure we have our body armor on to fend off the devil while we are searching for a Pastor.  She reminded us, her Son is in the ROTC (Reserve Officer Training Corps) program and she went to pick him up from training and she noticed how everyone had a battle buddy, reminding each other not to forget their back pack, or luggage or whatever and they were genuinely concerned for each other and their well-being, just like our Church is checking on each other, praying for each other, praying for the Pul-pit Committee and for our Church in this time without a “Shepherd”, her words were inspiring and a blessing and we haven’t even had Sunday School yet.

It was an honor to go over the material with the Sunday school and I felt good that I was helping out any way I could in Church.  There was a lot of class participation.  It turned out to be a blessing to help out.  I guess that’s what happens when you show up to Church early for breakfast.

For our Church service we had a visiting preacher come to share his sermon with us and it turned out to be a wonderful message, one that the Lord put on his heart and I am sure that we all needed to hear about Paul being “all in” when he went to deliver his sermon in Colossian.  The preacher said Paul really had nothing to lose in Colossians.  He surely wasn’t afraid to die, because he knew he would go to heaven to be with the Lord anyway.  And he was asking if we are “all in” for Jesus?  It was another beautiful message and another blessing and it’s not even 12:30 pm now. 

Next, since it’s the fourth Sunday, we have youth night at Holly Springs Homestead scheduled and I am helping with security, making sure vehicles are parked in the parking lots.

There was a crowd of about 180 that showed up, there were games to play at the Homestead from Frisbee toss to corn hole and a corn maze for the youth to traverse.  There was hamburgers, chicken sandwiches, and even hobo soup.  After, the kids were fed (eating again, we’re Baptists, what can I say, we like to eat), we sang songs and had a message for the youth.  We even had one soul saved and planted seeds in many more.  Again, another blessing.  The day was filled with blessings.  I was exhausted at the end of the day, but I slept great.  Who am I to say to say no to helping the Church and serving God?  Are you All In for Jesus?        

The Importance of Knowledge in our Walk with Jesus

What does the word “walk” mean when referenced to our relationship with Jesus? In our Sunday school lesson we are studying Colossians 3:5-11. Colossians 5 “So put to death the sinful, earthy things lurking within you. Have nothing to do with sexual immorality, impurity, lust, and evil desires. Don’t be greedy, for a greedy person is an idolater, worshiping the things of this world. 6 Because of these sins, the anger of God is coming. 7 You used to do these things when your life was still part of this world. 8 But now is the time to get rid of anger, rage, malicious behavior, slander, and dirty language. 9 Don’t lie to each other, for you have stripped off your old sinful nature, and all its wicked deeds. 10 Put on your new nature, and be renewed as you learn to know your Creator and become like him. 11 In this new life, it doesn’t matter if you are a Jew or a Gentile, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbaric, uncivilized, slave or free. Christ is all that matters, and he lives in all of us.” (Holy Bible, Gift & Award Edition, New Living Translation, second Edition)

In my Sunday school lesson it says “Paul offers two very good reasons why the sins in 3:5 must be avoided. First, the wrath of God is coming for those who practice such things. God’s wrath is real against those who sin and the Bible is full of examples in both the Old and New Testaments. Specifically, Paul mentions that God’s wrath is coming upon the children of disobedience. This key phrase is mentioned two other times in Ephesians 2:2 and 5:6, related passages. Paul uses this phrase in Ephesians 5:6 after listing some of the same sins in that letter. The wrath of God is serious and often met with eternal consequences.” (Baptist Expositor, Learner 2019)

It goes on to say “The second reason Paul offers the Colossian believers as to why they should put these sins to death is because this is how they used to walk. The key word walk speaks of ones behavior and is a repeated word from 2:6. Paul used the word previously to speak of how the believers should now walk in Christ, but here in 3:7 he is referring to their behavior before Christ when they lived in these sins. There was a certain time in the past when these sins were part of their ongoing lifestyle. The point of emphasis is that these sins were part of their past, but should not be part of their present. Just like all believers who have committed their lives to the Lord, there are certain past behaviors that are no longer appropriate.” (Baptist Expositor, Learner 2019)

“Walk” in this Sunday school lesson refers to our behavior before and after accepting Jesus into our lives and one of the questions in the lesson is Colossian believers should put these sins to death is because this is how they used to walk. And the new man (after accepting Christ) is characterized by a renewal to knowledge.

The more we study our Bible and meditate on it, the more we learn what is expected of us as Christians. We’re to leave the sinful earthly nature behind and live a life pleasing to God in our renewed life.