Seven laws for the Sunday school student

Nearly every weekend, I conduct 1-2 seminars at churches across the U.S. on how to be a better Sunday school teacher. I love conducting these seminars because they are filled with people who recognize the incredible responsibility being a teacher carries, and they want to make sure they discharge that responsibility to the best of their ability.

But let’s not kid ourselves; while being a Sunday school teacher is a big responsibility, so is being a Sunday school student. I don’t get to sit in on a Bible class very often. But whenever I have that opportunity, I’m reminded of a few things we owe our teacher. So here are the seven laws for the Sunday school student.

By the way, I should issue a disclaimer. No, breaking one of these laws will not bring your eternal fate into question. But I can say this; break a few of these (or all), and you’ll quickly be labeled that person. People will whisper and snicker about you. You’ll be the punchline of jokes and the subject of knowing looks. People shouldn’t do that, but they will. So heed these seven laws, and you’ll the teacher’s pet vs. his thorn in the flesh.

BE RESPECTFUL

I was recently visiting a class where a student spoke very condescendingly to the teacher. I have no knowledge of their relationship, but as a visitor, it was quite off-putting. If I had been a local from the community, I likely would not have returned because the experience was so awkward—and I wasn’t the one being disrespected!

Teachers most often are volunteers and should be honored for their willingness to serve. What teachers do not deserve is our disrespect. So what if the teacher is younger than you, or not quite your equal when it comes to Bible knowledge or spiritual maturity? They still deserve your respect. If you want to debate an issue or “set the teacher straight,” make sure you do so in private after class.

BE ATTENTIVE

When you come to class, bring your A-game listening skills. Pay attention. Engage yourself in the lesson. You will make your teacher more effective as a teacher if you are more attentive as a student. It’s difficult for a teacher to be engaged and committed to excellence if it’s clear the students’ minds are elsewhere. Teachers have a responsibility to be engaging and relevant, but you also have the obligation to give your undivided attention. Prepare for Bible study the night before by getting plenty of rest and minimizing distractions (phone, tablet) in the classroom.

BE INQUISITIVE

Few things can be as frustrating to a teacher than a class that is not engaged in the lesson, especially one that does not demonstrate an ounce of interest in the subject. You will make the task of teaching more pleasant if you ask sincere, relevant questions on the topic or text at hand. And don’t shy away from tough, controversial questions (if asked for the right reasons and in the right spirit); a good teacher will welcome tough questions, even if she doesn’t immediately know the answer. A class with many inquisitive students is always a greater blessing to teach than a class full of people already confident they know it all.

BE BRIEF

Teachers want input, comments, and questions. But not from one person all the time. Your teacher has a prepared lesson; he should also have a clear objective for the class and a roadmap on how to get there. There are legitimate reasons why some classes don’t cover all the stuff they needed to cover in the allotted time.

But it’s not kosher if you are the reason the class’s time is often hijacked. When you offer input or ask a question, be considerate of others and keep your comment/question brief. Don’t monopolize others’ time.

BE HONEST

I almost labeled this rule “BE POSITIVE.” No one likes a Debbie Downer. I wish all classes could be positive, happy, energetic pep-rallies for Christian living. But life isn’t all “Blue Skies & Rainbows.” I get that.

So that’s why this rule is “BE HONEST.” More important than being positive is being honest. Be appropriately or responsibly honest; but be honest. Be especially honest with your teacher and fellow students about your short-comings, your struggles, your sins, your limitations, your ignorance, and with everything else.

While it is not always possible for our classes to be positive in tone or topic, they must always be places where we can be brutally honest about our spiritual selves. Don’t present yourself as something you’re not. Expose your spiritual self. Be vulnerable. Your class experience will be better as a result.

BE BIBLICAL

As students, we ought to beware popping off a bunch of opinions that aren’t rooted in Scripture. I know how it happens. You’re sitting in class and see a fantastic opportunity to impress people with your wisdom, insight, or intellect. You assure yourself your motives are pure. And so we offer up a comment, but it is one borne more out of prideful ruminations and less out of humble reflection or sincere curiosity. Almost always, such insights or opinions are patently unbiblical. It’s uncanny how that happens, but that’s been my experience.

When you make a comment that is clearly opinion and, worse, patently unbiblical, you’re going to make your teacher want to cry. Instead, make sure, when you comment and offer up an insight, that you are soundly using Scripture to solidify your position. No one came to Sunday school that day to hear your insights; they came to learn more about God’s will for their lives. Remember that. Stay biblical, and you are dramatically less likely to embarrass yourself.

BE PUNCTUAL

Speaking as both a teacher and a student, when a person walks into class late, it can be disrespectful, especially when the late-comer is a repeat offender. I know that some people make the excuse that they can’t seem to “help it.” And I realize special circumstances exist.

But for the majority of us, it’s baloney that we can’t get anywhere on time. We are all quite capable of being punctual, even early, when we think it really matters. Like, say, making our flight at the airport. Being punctual to Bible study is a demonstration of respect to our teacher, our fellow students, and to the Lord, a sign that we take Bible study seriously and consider a very important part of our schedule.

What other rules should Sunday school students adhere to?

Michael Whitworth

The Danger of a Fuzzy Focus!

The word “focus” is familiar to us. We use it often – as in employees who might need to “focus” on their work; or students who often need to “focus” more closely on their studies; or a husband and wife who may need to pay more attention and “focus” on a marriage that is running out of steam. You can likely think of something on which you should “focus” more carefully – Bible study or prayer or even reading this article! We speak of “focus” in familiar metaphors like “keep your eye on the ball” or “hammer away” or “knuckle down” or be “all in.” Interestingly, the word “focus” never appears in the Bible even once in standard translations. That being said, the simple fact of the matter is that, without ever using the word, Bible writers often spurred Christians to maintain an intense focus on Jesus Christ, the word of God and spiritual things. Here is a very tiny sample of verses that do so: * Colossians 3:2 “Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth.” Strong’s Concordance informs us the word “set” in this verse is from the Greek word phroneo (pronounced fron-eh’-o) and means “to exercise the mind; to be disposed earnestly in a certain direction; to interest oneself in or set the affection on.” So the apostle Paul directs us to earnestly focus our hearts and minds and affections on Christ and in the direction of heaven! If we fail to do that, the danger is “things on earth” arrest our attention to the point our spiritual focus gets fuzzy. * Hebrews 12:2 speaks of “Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith.” The word “looking” here is from the Greek word aphorao. Thayer defines it as “to fix the eyes on,” indicating the action of one who, aware of trivial distractions, deliberately looks away from them to fix the eyes on more important things. A hound fixes on a trail, a laser- guided bomb fixes on a target, and authentic Christians are “fixed” or “focused” on Jesus. Alas, if we look at what they do instead of just what they say, some church members are more focused on things on the earth than they are Jesus and things above. Jesus taught us to seek God first (Matthew 6:33), and the Bible tells us early Christians “continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, the breaking of bread, and in prayers” (Acts 2:42).” To be a disciple of Jesus requires a fixed focus on Christ and His church and her worship and work. If a batter loses his focus on the baseball, he strikes out. The same is true spiritually of Christians who try to get by with a fuzzy, fragmented, half-hearted focus on Christ.

John Maxwell illustrates how a lack of clear focus in life is dangerous. In Developing the Leader Within You (p 131), he relates that William Henson tells why animal trainers invariably carry a stool when they enter a cage with lions. The trainers have other tools (whips, a pistol, etc.), but Henson says the stool is the most important tool of all. The trainer holds the stool by the back and thrusts the legs toward the animal’s face. Some maintain that the animal tries to focus on all four legs at once, but in the attempt to do so, a kind of paralysis overwhelms the creature. It becomes tame and disabled because its attention is fragmented. How many Christians are disabled spiritually because their attention to Jesus and the church is fragmented? A fuzzy focus on Christ endangers your soul. How focused are you on going to heaven?

 By: Dan Gulley, Smithville, TN

They stole a FAKE CAKE!

If you’re thinking, as you read the title of this article, that I’ve misspelled a word, I totally understand.  But I’ve learned a lesson after reading a news item this morning.  Maybe three teenagers learned a more valuable lesson, though.

The news story came from Edina, Minnesota (a suburb of Minneapolis) yesterday.  Police stopped a car with three teenagers inside, based on a description given by a grocery store employee.  Sure enough, a cake was found in the car, one the teens had stolen from the store.

It turns out that the cake wasn’t a cake at all; it was a cardboard replica, made for display purposes only.  The store manager, considering the larger situation, declined to press charges against these hapless young folks.  One reader commented on the article, “They got their just desserts!”

It was my turn to be surprised when I decided to look up the background of this image.  The correct spelling is “deserts”, and the word is an English word rarely used any more.  It means something that a person deserves, not something sweet.

Will we get what we deserve?  The Bible has a lot to say in response to that question.  One verse that speaks powerfully is Moses’ warning to some Israelites to be careful to do as they had promised: “But if you do not do so, then take note, you have sinned against the Lord; and be sure your sin will find you out” (Numbers 32:23).

Many seem to think they are too smart for the law or for the Lord.  They believe they can break laws without ever being found out.  Sometimes that’s true with human laws, but can it work with God?  “And there is no creature hidden from [God’s] sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account” (Hebrews 4:13).  Those who try to evade God’s laws will receive their just deserts.

But wait – here’s some good news: God has made it possible for people to avoid getting their just deserts.  What He would prefer to give us is mercy.  Here’s how Paul stated it in 2 Corinthians 5:20,21: “… we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God.  For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”

If you ask me, that’s nothing short of amazing.  It points to the love of God who would rather not press charges against us for breaking His laws.  Someone, however, has to pay for our crimes.  That’s why Jesus “who knew no sin [became] sin for us”.

“We love Him because He first loved us” (1 John 4:19).

Come to the light God offers!  Study His word, the Bible.  Worship Him in spirit and truth (John 4:24).  Get in touch with us if you’d like to discuss these ideas further.

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Copyright, 2017, Timothy D. Hall

Passover: the Anticipation of the Cross Exodus 12:1-28)

British scholar Michael Green once wrote, What an astonishing way for a religion to start – founded on a cross! Imagine the incongruity these days of starting a religious movmt. based on a hangman s noose. And yet think of the amazing spread of that cross, all b/c Jesus died on one 2000 yrs ago The Empty Cross of Jesus, 1984).

A. Ever since Jesus died & rose, the cross has been at the center of Christian faith – not so much as a religious symbol, but as the focal point of God s love & power.

B. We sing about it, preach it, live in light of it, & sometimes even wear it, b/c we fully realize that apart from the cross we have no hope – but that through the cross we have life everlasting. – Jn. 12:32 – I will draw all men to myself.

C. Yet not everyone loves the old rugged cross. In Phil. 3:18 Paul spoke of many who live as enemies of the cross of Christ – & the cross continues to have its opponents today: people who reject it, scoff at it, criticize it, demean it, & just ignore it.

D. In 2004, The Passion of the Christ served as a lightning-rod for our civilization s animosity toward the cross. It became publicly evident how many truly despise the cross we cherish.

E. In this series we’ll be studying the cross together, exploring its meaning & significance, trying to understand anew just what happened there & why it ought to change us. NOT primarily b/c the cross has its detractors, but b/c it deserves all the attention we can give it, & so we can be reminded that the message we proclaim is that of Christ – & Him crucified.

F. In the OT certain crucial events & ceremonies foreshadow what God would later do through the cross of Christ. One of the most significant of these is the Passover ritual. Passover is so closely linked to the cross that in 1 Cor 5:7 Paul refers to Jesus as our Passover Lamb who has been sacrificed.

I. Passover, like the cross, was about being saved from     death by means of a death.

A. 1st Passover observance came in connection w. last of the 10 plagues by which God forced Pharaoh to let Isr. go: death of the 1st-born of Egypt.

B. Passover was the means of protecting Israel from that plague.
1. Ex. 12:1-28 gives detailed instructions: gather as families, slaughter unblemished lambs at sunset on 14 Nisan, eat it roasted & leave nothing. Eat with shoes on & staff in hand, ready to leave when God gave the word.
2. Important: Blood of the lamb to be smeared on doorposts & lintel of every Israelite house. 12:13 & 23-24.

C. Result was 2-fold: 1) preservation from death & 2) freedom     from slavery.

D. Repeated observance of Passover became an annual reminder of what God had done in delivering & preserving His people, which powerfully foreshadowed what He would later do through the cross of His own Son.

1. Jn 1:29: Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the         sins of the world.
2. Matt 26:26-29. Last Supper was an observance of Pasover, but transformed by Jesus to show its ultimate meaning – the blood of the covenant. . . for the forgiveness of sins. As Isr. was protected & set free from Eg., we are from sin, b/c we are in covenant relationship with God through the shed blood of Jesus.
3. All 4 NT Gospels give accounts of the LS, & the one element of the meal never mentioned in any of them is the lamb – b/c Jesus is the Lamb!
4. Rev 5:6, 9-14 – by thy blood thou didst ransom. . . .

2. But the parallels betw. Passover & Cross aren t limited to a meal & the shedding of a lamb s blood. Both Passover & Cross. . .

A. Created a holy people.
1. Prior to Passover & Exodus, Isr was a rag-tag group of slaves. After, they were a holy nation for God s service 12:14-20). Passover was their defining moment, as they became a people devoted to doing as God directs in order to be holy.
2. 1 Pet 1:13-19. Peter says the same about the cross & the church: we are to be holy, b/c we’ve been ransomed by the blood of Jesus. Notice the obvious Passover allusion.)

3. Problem: Isr frequently lost sight of their sacred identity & calling. Forgot why God redeemed them. The times of their greatest apostasy from God were also the times when they didn’t observe Passover. 2 Ki 23:21-23). What was the connection? When they weren’t observing Passover, they lost sight of their identity & purpose.
4. As the church, we have to be certain that doesn’t  happen to us. B/c it can, & sometimes does.
a. Reason why, from earliest days of the church, the Lord s Supper has been a weekly feature of Christian worship. B/c we need the reminder! We aren’t just called to be something, but to do something – serve God by showing His love to the world. Examples: Evangelism, caring for those in need as in Matt 25).
b. But eating the supper is no guarantee we’ll remember our mission. Some see selves as called to nit-pick rather than to serve. Not servants, but critics.
c. Each of us needs to examine our own hearts & lives continually: Am I being what God has called me to be through the cross? Think about that as you eat the Supper.

B. Brought freedom at a price.
1. Israel: Set free, but only through deaths of the 1st-born of Eg & death of an unblemished lamb.
2. Church: As Peter said, Ransomed, not with earthly, material things, but by the blood of God s own Son, OUR Passover Lamb. That’s how we obtain freedom from sin.
a. Jn 8:31-34. Slavery to sin is even worse than physical bondage, b/c it means certain death, separation from God forever.
b. Heb 2:14-15, Rom. 8:1-2.
3. That’s why we can’t purposely go on sinning – our freedom cost too much!

4. Badly misunderstood by those who say, Once forgiven, it doesn’t matter what you do. But the cross says, B/c you re forgiven, your freedom is too costly to trifle with it!

C. Disclosed the identity & nature of God.
1. Ex 5:2. Who is the Lord? – Pharaoh found out, that night the 1st-born died! Isr found out, too – that their God was more powerful than all the gods of Eg, & He is the God who kept His word to Abraham.
2. In the cross, we learn something else about God: the depth of His love, even for fallen, sinful humanity. Jn 3:16, 1 Jn 3:16.
3. There was ample evidence of God s love before Jesus died:
Adam & Eve, covenant with Ab, the Exodus from Eg, the prophets. – But nothing quite disclosed just how much He loves us until Jesus went to the cross.
4. Now we know – & b/c we know, there can be no holding back from Him!

D. Required both Divine Initiative & Human Obedience.
1. No question about it: Passover & Exodus were God’s doing. He sent Moses to Phar, & He brought the plagues on Eg, & He parted the sea. W/out Him, there was nothing Isr could have done to free themselves.
2. But once God acted, it was up to Isr to obey & receive what God was offering them. That’s what the detailed instructions re Passover are all about: did they believe Him enough to obey Him? If so, they would live; if not, they would die.

3. No question about it: The cross was God’s doing. Nothing we did or could ever do could motivate God to offer up His Son. Now that He’s done it, it’s up to us to trust & obey Him.
a. God s initiative is what Scrip calls grace – giving us what we need, but in no way deserve.
b. But grace cries out to be accepted. Otherwise, we remain in bondage. Acts 2:36-42
4. Make no mistake: His initiative has priority. But our faithful obedience is a necessity.

Obviously, there are many parallels between Passover & the Cross. But there s also one enormous difference that we dare not overlook: What God did in the Passover was for the benefit of His chosen people, Israel – to free them, to make them a unique people. What Jesus did on the cross was for everyone, w/out regard to nationality, race, or prior history. 1 Tim 2:4. He desires all to be saved.@ That means Jesus went to the cross for every one of us – for you! Now He waits to see if you want to be under the blood.

Tommy South

Tell the truth, the whole truth, & nothing but the truth, so help me God

I found on Sermon Central by Melvin Newland on Run the Race. Some may want to use it in a sermon on the cross. The illustration is below:

If you ever take the tour in historic Williamsburg, VA they will explain to you why, even to this day, we hold up our hand & swear that we will “tell the truth, the whole truth, & nothing but the truth, so help me God” whenever we give testimony in court.

The story goes all the way back to medieval times. When someone was being tried for a crime & the evidence seemed overwhelmingly against him, there was a way out. He could stand up & say, “I plead the benefit of clergy.”

Now when he pled “the benefit of clergy” everyone was aghast because that was the same as an admission of guilt. But it was his last hope, his last chance.

So a clergyman would come in with a selected passage of Scripture, usually from Psalms 51, the confession of David for all the sins that he had committed. He would hand it to the accused & say, “Here, read this.” It was kind of a fore-runner of the lie detector test.

The law said that if he could read it without stammering or stuttering he would be set free even though the evidence against him was overwhelming. But if he stumbled or stammered just one time he was judged guilty.

Usually a guilty person could not read that passage without stammering or stuttering. So they were found guilty. But when someone read it perfectly & was set free, they branded the palm of his hand with the brand of the cross.

You see, you could only claim the benefit of clergy one time. So whenever anyone testified in court he would have to hold up his hand so that all could see if the brand of the cross was there.

One day, folks, we’re all going to stand before the judge of the universe, as guilty as we can be. The evidence is overwhelmingly against us. Satan, the accuser, will be there to accuse us of all the sins we have committed.

Our only hope is to claim the benefit of the cross.

Ralph Weinhold

They could not tell you how to get into the kingdom of God

Webster defines “jeopardy” as “exposure to or imminence of death, loss, or injury” (Merriam-Webster On Line). An alternate meaning is: “the danger that an accused person is subjected to when on trial for a criminal offense.”

The word was adopted as the title to a popular TV game show that debuted in 1984, and is still running more than three decades later. For just over thirty-three years contestants have been given the “answer” to which they were to respond with the correct “question.” For example, “This automobile was produced by Ford Motor Company in the late 1950’s but it never became very popular,” to which the contestant would respond, “What is the Edsel?” The contests get to choose from a selection of categories, with the dollar amount increasing in proportion to the difficulty of the question. Occasionally one of the categories is “The Bible,” or “Bible Characters,” or something to that effect. And, once in a while, a Bible “answer” is given to prompt the correct “question” from the contestant.

I have had occasion to watch a few episodes of this interesting and enlightening game show. Some years back I sat down for lunch and turned the TV to “Jeopardy” to pass the time while enjoying my lunch. I must confess that my ability to come up with the “question” to the “answers” that appeared on the game board was quite limited. But there was one “answer” that one would think everyone knew, and that each one of the College aged contestants would be quick to buzz in on. The “answer”: “Jesus said that in order for a man to enter into the kingdom of God he must do this.” Of course the “question” would be, “What is ‘born again’?” The shocker was that not a single one of those college aged contestants even attempted to buzz in. Oh they had answered questions on historical figures, biology, finances, and geography. They could tell you how to enter college, how to enter the free market, how to get into the circles of the social elite; but they could not tell you how to get into the kingdom of God.

Perhaps this little incident illustrates just how far the next generation has fallen from the spiritual plateau of their grandparents and great grandparents. With each passing decade, the Western world has moved ever further away from God and a knowledge of His word. But it seems incredible that they can no longer answer the basic question as to how a man enters into the kingdom of God. As in the days of Amos, there is a “famine” in our land, “not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord” (Amos 8:11). Consequently, the moral climate of our nation has declined dramatically in direct proportion with the ignorance of God’s word.

Seeing that someday we will stand before God to give an account of what we have done in this life, it seems to this scribe that we would want to prepare ourselves toward that end. Since the words of Christ shall judge us in that last day (John 12:48), does it not seem reasonable that we would want to know that word so as to be better prepared to face our Lord in the judgment? Indeed it does. But somewhere along the way, we have neglected that awesome responsibility. With that in mind it is sobering to realize that an entire generation stands in jeopardy.

By Tom Wacaster

The Value of Dad

    In our modern society, the value of a dad in the home has, to a large degree, been lost. The reason our society and our families are in such disarray, is because dads are absent in the home. Some dads, being unwilling to be responsible or afraid of settling down, have completely walked out on their children. Some dads, being so consumed with the pursuit of wealth, have allowed work to keep them out of the home and their children’s life. And some dads, are so absent and disconnected from their children that he does not and could not really teach them about faith, Jesus, or the Father. Not only is the blessing of having a child something to be honored, something to be treasured, the value of dad in the home to lead his family cannot be compared (Psalm 127:3; Ex. 20:12).
Throughout the scriptures, God has emphasized the importance and value of dad. Not only are we told to honor dad (Ex. 20:12) but rebellion or mistreatment of dad was worthy of the death penalty (Ex. 21:15; Lev. 20:9; Deut. 22:18-21). I used to read these passages as a young man and wonder why God could call for such strict punishment for those who disobeyed dad. My conclusion was that God wanted us to value him that much. Dad was so valuable to the home and society that God protected him with the death penalty. He was responsibility for teaching his children about God and helping them to fulfill the law to enter into a covenant relationship (Lev. 12:3; Deut. 11:19). So valuable and precious is dad that God used that relationship to describe his own value to us (Psalm 103:13).
In the New Testament, the imagery is just as strong. God is the father of who believe and love (Matt. 6:5-8; 10:29-31). One of the greatest parables of Jesus, the parable of the prodigal son (Luke 15:11-32), was mostly about the love and forgiveness of God as seen in our dads. This parable helps us understand ourselves, and just as importantly, it helps us understand our great God.
It seems that God understands something that has been all but lost in our modern, enlightened, society. In our wisdom and advancement, we have replaced dad with gifts, with possessions that could never be as important as dad. We have lost sight of just how important his role really is to our children, our homes, and our churches. As one writer said, “the father was truly the linchpin of the family and society.”*
Isn’t it time we get back to God’s standard and value for dad? Isn’t it time that we encourage dads to step up and be the man God knows he can be? Until we do, we will never truly be successful. Disobedience to God always equals failure and the role and value of dad is no exception.

– Jeff Arnette

I look to the clouds for my security

“In The Clouds”

By no means can I be called a frequent flyer.  On the occasions I’ve taken to the air for travel, I love sitting by the window.  I’m fascinated by the view above the clouds.  Things can look mighty different from up there!

Is it still safe to travel in and above the clouds?  We hear so much about “cloud computing”, and security software that is based “in the cloud”.  Yet I’ve never heard of an airplane colliding with a server or any other type of computing devices.

“Cloud computing” is actually anything but that.  PC Magazine, in an article published in May of 2016, explained: “cloud computing means storing and accessing data and programs over the Internet instead of your computer’s hard drive”.  Thus, if your computer crashes, it’s not the catastrophe it once was – assuming you are storing your photos and files in the clouds.  But not everyone uses the cloud; I mostly don’t.

The point is this: Cloud computing can give peace of mind if you use it properly.  Ten years’ worth of your children’s photos can be tucked away on two or three remote servers, and always ready for you to view.  No need to worry about spilled drinks on the laptop’s keyboard.  (But understand that most “clouds” charge a fee for their services.)

Even cloud computing is not 100% fail-proof.  Hackers and terrorists are clever people, and all systems are subject to intrusion.  Secure?  Yes.  Totally secure?  Not actually.

With all that said, I still look to the clouds for my security.  I’m referring to Luke’s account of the ascension of Jesus in Acts 1:9: “Now when [Jesus] had spoken these things, while they watched, He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight.”  Angels appeared and told the bewildered disciples that Jesus “will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven” (Acts 1:11).

Where did Jesus go when He vanished from their sight?  Daniel gave the answer hundreds of years earlier: “… And behold, One like the Son of Man, coming with the clouds of heaven! He came to the Ancient of Days … to Him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom” (Daniel 7:13,14).  Jesus is seated at God’s right hand.  Stephen, the first Christian martyr, saw Jesus “standing at the right hand of God” (Acts 7:56).

The story of Jesus has not ended, though.  As the angels indicated to the disciples, Jesus will return “in like manner”.  That’s what John also affirms in Revelation 1:7: “Behold, He is coming with clouds, and every eye will see Him, even they who pierced Him.”  Every eye will see Jesus return; yours, mine, and everyone else’s.

I’m looking at the clouds right now, and I don’t see Jesus.  But one day …

Come to the light God offers!  Study His word, the Bible.  Worship Him in spirit and truth (John 4:24).  Get in touch with us if you’d like to discuss these ideas further.

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Copyright, 2017, Timothy D. Hall

When men make a creed to do what the Bible would not do, they should certainly make it different from the Bible, or it would serve no better purpose than the Bible itself.

“But there are so many creeds, all claiming to be right, that I should not know which to take.  They were all made by learned men, and if they can not agree on the kind of a creed, how am I to decide which is right?” says one. It is a matter of great moment and of much relief that, aside from all these conflicting, clashing, and erring creeds, there is one book that all parties concede is right. They all agree that the Bible is right – that it came from God. They all further agree that it contains the law of God – that the law of the Lord is perfect. The only wonder is, that man ever attempted to make any other creed or law for the Church. Such an undertaking could not have commenced without two wicked assumptions:
1. That the law of God, as set forth in the Bible, is not sufficient or is a failure.
2. That the insufficiency or failure can be remedied by weak, erring, and uninspired men.

No man of intelligence will affirm, in plain terms, that the Bible is not sufficient for the government of the saints; or that man – uninspired man – can make a creed that will serve a better purpose than the Bible. Still such affirmations are implied in every attempt made by uninspired men to make a creed. If you admit, as all are bound to do, that the law of God is in the Bible; that nothing may be added to it, nothing taken from it, and that no part of it may be changed, there is not an excuse in the world for making another law. The law of God in the Bible is the law, the divine law, the supreme law, in the kingdom of God; and it is a treasonable movement to attempt to get up another constitution, law, name, body, or officers, apart from the constitution, law, name, body, and officers as found in the Bible.

But the matter now in hand is to find a safe course to pursue. Can this be done? All admit the Bible is right. All admit that the law of God in the Bible is right. All admit that those who follow the Bible honestly and faithfully, in faith and practice, will be saved. All admit that wherever any creed differs from the Bible is wrong. Then it is infallibly safe to take the Bible and follow it. When men undertake to prove that a human creed is a good one, they argue that it is like the Bible. If a creed like the Bible is a good one, why will not the Bible itself do?  If the Bible will not serve the purpose – is insufficient and a failure – a creed like it would be equally insufficient. When men make a creed to do what the Bible would not do, they should certainly make it different from the Bible, or it would serve no better purpose than the Bible itself.

– by Benjamin Franklin

(note:  Benjamin Franklin was a nineteenth century gospel preacher, not to be confused with our eighteenth century “founding father.”)

Vines and children trained improperly when they are young and tender, cannot easily be retrained after they have been stiffened with age

“Train Up A Child”

Vines grow the way they are trained.  Children do too.  Like the nurseryman who trains vines to grow on a trellis according to his design, parents are to “train up a child in the way he should go” (Prov. 20:6).  Fathers are to bring up their children “in the training and admonition of the Lord” (Eph. 6:4).  Vines and children trained improperly when they are young and tender, cannot easily be retrained after they have been stiffened with age.  Godly parents will make a sincere and serious-minded effort to properly train their children by word and by example.  Here are some practical tips for parents who are interested in having their children grow the way God wants them to grow in three important areas — worship, morality and Bible knowledge.

Tips For Training Children To Worship

1.  Attend every assembly possible (Heb. 10:25).  The example parents set will have more effect on a child than anything parents say.  When parents neglect assembling they are training their children to do likewise.  If there is a discussion in the home each week about “whether or not we are going to church today”, the child gets the message that worship is unimportant and optional.

2.  Do not allow school age children to draw, play or sleep during a worship assembly. If they are expected to pay attention in school because “education is important”, surely they should also pay attention during worship to Almighty God.

3.  Encourage children to pray – at meal time, bed time or any time they have a problem.

4.  Encourage children to sing – during worship assemblies, in the car – any time they are cheerful (James 5:13).

Tips For Training Children To Make Moral Decisions

1.  Teach children to respect authority.  Children who are allowed to be disrespectful to teachers and parents are not being trained to respect the God of heaven.  A child who is allowed to constantly question authority will be an adult who questions God’s authority.  It is one thing to explain to a child the reason for something when he needs to know; it is quite another to indulge every “why?” question a child asks in defiance of plainly spoken commands.  Children must learn that the proper response to expressed authority is simple obedience.

2.  Do not allow children to engage in activities which God will consider immoral when they become adults.  For instance, if parents allow their six year old daughter to where a swimming suit in public, what are they training their child to do when she is eighteen years old?  Following this advice may mean that a child will be looked upon as being different from other children.  Children need to know that God’s people are special to Him precisely because they are different from the world (2 Corinthians 6:17-18).

3.  Discuss with your children the moral training they receive from other sources.  Children in public schools may often be shown standards of morality which are out of harmony with the Bible.  For example, we are hearing of cases where elementary students have been told that there are certain circumstances under which it is alright to lie!  Parents should make it their business to know what others are teaching their children.

Tips For Training Children To Know The Bible

1.  Take children to every Bible class arranged by the church. It would be a shame for any parent to let such an excellent learning opportunity go to waste.

2.  Make sure children get their Bible class lessons ahead of time, and that they do any memory work that has been assigned.  It does little good to get “little Johnny” to Bible class if he is not prepared to learn when he gets there.

3.  Study the Bible with your children.  When they ask a question about God’s will, about right and wrong, open a Bible and read together the verses which answer their questions.  Setting aside time for Bible study can greatly benefit both you and your child.

In his book, Good Homes in a Wicked World, brother Irvin Lee wrote the following: “The child is like a mound of potter’s clay.  The potter can take the clay and fashion it into whatever form he chooses.  He can then dry and temper it, and the form is set into its permanent shape.  That is a frightening thought.  As the twig is bent, so the tree is inclined.  As the child is molded and shaped so the man will be.  The challenge is very great when the parents realize that they have the power to shape the very eternal destiny of the soul that inhabits the body of their little child.  How many parents will be lost because they failed in their duty to their children?”

– by Steve Klein