New Testament, Sunday School

1 John: A Read-Through ~ Sunday School Lesson ~ 12-28-14

UPDATE to this post:
Due to sudden and unforeseen circumstances beyond my control, I will not be teaching/blogging the “Jacob” study after all. I’m sorry for any inconvenience this may have caused.

1 John

These are my notes from my ladies’ Sunday School class this morning. I’ll be posting the notes from my class here each week. Click here for last week’s lesson.

Through the Bible in 2014 ~ Week 52 ~ Dec. 21-28
Hebrews, 2 Timothy, 2 Peter, Jude, 1, 2 & 3 John, Revelation 1-5
1 John

Wednesday will mark the end of our “Through the Bible in 2014” readings and lessons. It’s been a great study, and I hope you have learned from it and enjoyed it as much as I have. So, because next Sunday will be the first Sunday of the new year, on the 4th we will start a new curriculum.

For the next few months, we will be using my book, Jacob: Journaling the Journey, to study the life of Jacob in the book of Genesis. If you’re familiar with the book, you know that it is divided into 77 short lessons. It begins with Scripture, followed by expository teaching, followed by questions for the reader to consider as she journals what she has learned from the lesson. In class, I anticipate that we will cover about 2-3 lessons per week, using the quesions at the end of each lesson for discussion.

If you physically attend my Sunday school class, there is no need for you to purchase the book since we will be verbally covering nearly everything in it. However, you may purchase it if you’d like to study ahead. If you would like a copy but cannot afford one, let me know, and I’ll make sure you get one.

If you do not physically attend my class but like to follow my Sunday school lessons here on the blog, you will need to purchase a copy of the book (click on the “books” tab at the top of this page- the e-book version is on sale dirt cheap right now!), and study it on your own. Generally speaking, we will be following the “3 lessons per week” schedule found at the beginning of the book. I will not be posting the text of the lesson since it can be found in the book. Each week’s Sunday school lesson post will be more like an on line discussion/Q&A session for that week’s lessons from the book. I welcome your comments, questions, and input.

Today, we’re going to be reading through the book of 1 John, and pausing to discuss comments and questions from the class as they arise. We will start at chapter 1 and see how far we can get before the bell rings. It is chock full of good stuff, so I encourage you to read 1 John in its entirety when you are at leisure to read and savor it slowly.

One verse I want to make sure we get to is 5:13, because it is here that John explains to us his purpose in writing this epistle:

I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life.

First John is not written to lost people for the purpose of sharing the gospel with them. First John is written to Believers to assure them of their salvation and eternal life. We have all had moments when we wondered if we were really saved or not. The book of 1 John gives us a sort of measuring stick to compare our walk with Christ to. We will particularly see this in the first couple of chapters.

As you read through the book of 1 John, what jumps out at you? What questions arise as you read?
Comment below and let’s chat.

Family, Marriage, New Testament, Parenting, Sunday School

All in the Family ~ Sunday School Lesson ~ 12-21-14


These are my notes from my ladies’ Sunday School class this morning. I’ll be posting the notes from my class here each week. Click here for last week’s lesson.

Through the Bible in 2014 ~ Week 51 ~ Dec.14-20
Acts 27-28, Colossians, Philemon, Ephesians, Philippians,
1 Timothy, Titus, 1 Peter

All in the Family


This week we looked at seven New Testament epistles, all, except 1 Peter, written by Paul. All were written to encourage and/or instruct churches and pastors in doctrine and practices as they lived out the Christian life in the church, at home, and in the world. Four of these seven epistles specifically instruct family members on their roles in the home. Today, we’re going to take a look at God’s instructions to wives, husbands, children, and parents.

We’ll be using Colossians 3:18-21 as our outline, fleshing out each role with passages from the other epistles.

Colossians 3:18-21


Wives- Submit

Interestingly, in each of the four passages we’ll be studying today, the roles in the home are addressed in the same order: wives, husbands, children, parents. It’s of particular interest to me that wives are always addressed first. Although Scripture doesn’t tell us why this is the case, I would speculate that this might be for two reasons. First, it follows the order of the Fall (Genesis 2). Eve fell first, then Adam, and God gave her consequences first, then Adam’s. Second, wives -then and now- normally have the most responsibility for the day to day, “in the trenches” management of the home. We have an enormous impact on the emotional and spiritual tone of our marriages and family life.

Colossians 3:18- Submit for the Lord
We are submit to our husbands because it is “fitting in the Lord.” Not because they deserve it. Not because they’re awesome (and when they’re not we don’t have to submit). Not because we want to be the perfect wife. Because it is “fitting” in God’s eyes. This is the role God has ordained for us, and it honors Him when we obey Him.

Ephesians 5:22-24, 33b- Submit for the church
We are to submit to and respect our husbands as a picture of the church’s submission to Christ. In the same way that Hosea’s marriage to Gomer was a picture to Israel of God’s faithfulness to His adulterous people, our submission to our husbands should be a picture, especially to the church, of how the church is to be faithful and obedient to Christ.

1 Peter 3:1-6- Submit for our husbands
We are to be subject to our husbands to win them to godliness– to salvation if they are lost, to obedience to Christ if they are saved. Notice that this is accomplished by our example and behavior, not by nagging or talking them to death. Our “respectful and pure conduct” and our “gentle and quiet spirits” are attractive and winsome and can smooth the way for our husbands to desire to be more godly men.

Titus 2: 3-5- Submit for the world
We are to submit to our husbands “that the word of God may not be reviled.” Lost people are watching us. Will we live in obedience to God’s word and show them that it proves true? That they can trust the same Christ we trust?

Husbands- Love

Colossians 3:19- Love for your wife
Husbands are to love their wives and treat them kindly. The Greek form of the phrase “do not be harsh” means not to be bitter or resentful. Wives are imperfect, sinful people (just like husbands) and husbands are to be merciful and forgiving when their wives fall short, not hold bitterness or resentment against them.

Ephesians 5:25-33- Love for the world and the church
Husbands are to love their wives as a picture of Christ’s love for His bride, the church. Christ gave both His life and His blood for the church. When husbands daily love their wives in a self-sacrificing way, they are showing the world -and the church- Jesus.

1 Peter 3:7- Love for your own spiritual life
Husbands are to be understanding with their wives and honor them because they are brother and sister in Christ. Just as a rift between two fellow Christians can hamper their worship and church unity, sinning against his wife by failing to love her as Christ commanded will hinder a man’s relationship with the Lord.

Children- Obey

Colossians 3:20- Obey for the Lord’s pleasure
Children are to obey their parents. In everything. They are not to be allowed to back talk or do as they please in defiance of their parents. Why? It’s so simple even a child can understand it: this pleases the Lord. When children obey their parents, they are fulfilling the role God has ordained for them.

Ephesians 6:1-3- Obey because it’s right. Obey for your well-being.
Obedience to parents is right because God says it is. It is His very first “horizontal” (our relationship with others) Commandment in the Decalogue (the first four are “vertical”- our relationship with God). It is also the first Commandment with a promise- that things will go well for those who obey it.

Parents- Train

Colossians 3: 21- Train for their emotional well-being
Whom does Paul address in this statement? Fathers. While mothers have a huge responsibility to train their children in godliness on a daily basis, the buck stops with Dad. God has been holding dads responsible for their families since He called out, “Adam, where are you?” in the Garden. Fathers are not to rule with an iron fist, but encourage and grow their children in the ways of the Lord.

Ephesians 6:4- Train for their spiritual well-being
Paul again addresses fathers. Fathers are to take seriously their responsibility for the spiritual health of their families. They are not to act or treat their children in ways that frustrate them needlessly. Fathers are to train their children in the Scriptures and discipline them biblically.

Titus 2:4- Train out of love
This is the only part of these passages where Paul specifically addresses a mother’s relationship with her children. She is simply to love them. Of course, it is not loving to let a child do as he pleases. We have already seen that God commands children to obey their parents. So a mother is to lovingly train her child in God’s word and in obedience to God and to parents.

In His wisdom and goodness, God has ordained certain roles and responsibilities for each member of the family. We show our love and honor for God when we seek to obey Him by fulfilling our roles as He empowers and enables us to do so.

New Testament, Salvation, Suffering, Sunday School

3 Reasons to Rejoice ~ Sunday School Lesson ~ 12-14-14


These are my notes from my ladies’ Sunday School class this morning. I’ll be posting the notes from my class here each week. Click here for last week’s lesson.

Through the Bible in 2014 ~ Week 50 ~ Dec. 7-13
Acts 20-26, Romans
3 Reasons to Rejoice


Paul wrote the epistle of Romans to the church at Rome while he was still in Corinth, around A.D. 56. His main purpose in writing was to instruct the Roman believers in basic Christian doctrine, beliefs, and practices, since neither Paul nor the other apostles had yet been able to instruct them in person.

Rome was a dangerous place for Christians at that time. There was persecution of the sort that, today, we can only have nightmares about. But even in the midst of that horrific situation, those who were in Christ had good reasons for hope and rejoicing. Paul shares three of them in Romans 5:1-11 to comfort and encourage the Roman church.

Romans 5:1-11

Reason to Rejoice #1: Our Standing (1-2)

What is our standing before God before we’re saved? We stand guilty in our sin before God. There is no way out of that sin, and no way out of its eternal consequences. There is complete uncertainty about what will happen to us after we die. For the lost, there’s no hope that, no matter how bad things get in this life, God will set all things right in Heaven. Without Christ, the best we can say about our eternity is, “I guess,” “I hope,” or “Maybe.”

Verses 1-2 remind us that because we have been justified (legally exonerated of our crimes against God) by faith in Christ, our standing has been changed. Because of Christ’s sacrifice for our sin, we now stand before God as righteous, not as guilty. And because of that standing which we now experience dimly here on earth, we have the hope of one day standing before God in all of His glory– not ashamed and cowering before Him, but loved, welcomed, and accepted. We have that certain hope, and we rejoice in it.

Reason to Rejoice #2: Our Suffering (3-5, Hebrews 12:2)

Every one of us has suffered or will suffer. Even the richest, most powerful, most popular, most famous person you can think of suffers. In this life, the question is never, “Will I suffer?” but “Will I suffer with Christ or without Him?”

I have a friend who’s a physical therapist. Physical therapy can be excruciating, but one thing my friend helps her patients to focus on is that the pain they experience is not pointless. It is “pain with a purpose.” That pain means that one day that patient will be past the injury and able to walk better. There’s a reason for it. It’s the same way with suffering.

The reason God allows lost people to suffer is to cause them to cry out to Him for salvation. Paul explains, in verses 3-5, the reason God allows saved people to suffer: it grows and matures us in Christ.

We need endurance. Most of us have many years ahead of us to live for Christ. Coming through suffering builds the endurance we need to depend on God’s strength, keep on keeping on, and finish our lives out as faithful servants who refused to give up on following Christ, no matter how hard it got.

The Greek word translated “character” here means “proof.” When gold is refined in fire, all of the impurities burn away and what comes out is the proof of what was there all along: pure gold. When we endure passing through the fire of suffering, what comes out on the other side is the proof that the “pure gold” of Christ in us is what survives the flame. And the world desperately needs to see that proof -through our endurance of suffering- that Christ is their only hope. Not only that, but that very same proof that Christ carries us through suffering gives us hope that He will continue to carry us through suffering until He carries us Home. Just as Jesus endured the cross for the joy set before Him (Heb.) we endure suffering for the joy of what’s waiting on the other side– another hope to rejoice in.

Reason to Rejoice #3: Our Salvation (6-11)

There are so many reasons to rejoice in our salvation, but I’ll limit myself to the ones Paul outlines here.

6-8- We don’t have to clean ourselves up before coming to Christ. (Mark 2:17, Romans 3:10)
In fact, we can’t. It’s not possible. Jesus Himself said, “I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.” (and, by the way, “None is righteous, no, not one;” so that’s all of us). Before we ever drew breath, before we ever thought about getting our lives in order before we could come to Him, while we were enjoying our sin and shaking our fists at God, that’s when Christ died for us. That’s why even the worst sinner can have the hope that Christ will save him, because God’s desire to save us doesn’t hinge on who we are or what we’ve done. It hinges on Him and His love for us in spite of our sin.

9We no longer have to fear God’s wrath. (Romans 8:1)

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

None. Zero. Zip. Unsaved people should rightly fear God’s wrath being poured out on them for their sin. That fear should drive them to run to the loving arms of the merciful Savior who stands ready to welcome and forgive them. But Believers can rejoice in the fact that Christ has already absorbed God’s wrath –all of it– towards us when He endured the cross.

10-11We are reconciled to God.
Have you ever had a big fight with your husband, your sister, your best friend, or someone else you’re really close to? Think for just a moment about how you feel during the hours or days before you and that person make things right with each other. You feel separated from that person- disconnected -maybe like there’s a huge wall between you. You don’t feel bonded with that person. You don’t feel at peace. You wake up every day feeling like something is off kilter. But then think of the peace, and joy, and reconnection you feel when you and that person make up, forgive, and move ahead in your relationship.

That’s what it’s like to be reconciled (brought back and reunited with) to God through faith in Christ. We’re no longer separated from God. That disconnect is gone. We’re not enemies with Him anymore! We can rest in Him, enjoy Him, be at peace with Him, and be in harmony with Him. “God and sinners reconciled!” Rejoice!

When I first started putting this lesson together, I thought, “Hmm…Romans 5 is a great passage, but it isn’t very Christmasy.” But if you think about it, the rejoicing in Romans 5 is the very reason we rejoice in the birth of Christ. He was born so that, through Him, we could stand before God as righteous. He was born to shine the light of the gospel -and give us hope- through our suffering. He was born to reconcile man to God. Those are reasons to rejoice at Christmas and every other day!

New Testament, Sunday School

The Believin’ Bereans and the Thessalonian Thugs ~ Sunday School Lesson ~ 11-30-14


These are my notes from my ladies’ Sunday School class this morning. I’ll be posting the notes from my class here each week. Click here for last week’s lesson.

Through the Bible in 2014 ~ Week 48 ~ Nov. 23-29
Acts 15-19, Galatians, 1&2 Thessalonians, 1Corinthians 1-4
The Believin’ Bereans and the Thessalonian Thugs

A large part of Acts is devoted to describing how Paul traveled around Asia and Europe preaching and planting churches. Today, we’re going to look at two places he went, Thessalonica and Berea, and their two very different responses to the gospel.

Acts 17:1-9- Thessalonica

Jews vs. Gentiles (1-2, Romans 1:16)
In the days of the early church, one of the apostles was known primarily as the apostle to the Jews, and one as the apostle to the Gentiles. Do you remember which was which? Peter preached mainly to the Jews, and Paul preached mainly to the Gentiles. But as we can see, there was some overlap for both of them.

When Paul arrived at a town with a synagogue (a local “mini-temple” in towns distant from Jerusalem) he started his preaching gig there– to the Jews. This mirrors what we studied back in October, when Jesus sent the disciples out to preach. First, the messiah was God’s promise to and through the Jews, so it was only right to give them “first dibs” on the gospel. Second, this was a period of rapid growth for the church, and converted Jews, with their background in the Old Testament could become competent teachers and preachers much more quickly than Gentiles who had no biblical training at all. Paul emphasizes this concept later in Romans 1:16:

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.

The Substance of the Sermon (2-3)
In verses 2-3, what does Paul draw from to convince the people that Jesus is the Savior? Does he tell them about his phenomenal personal salvation experience on the road to Damascus? No. He “reasoned with them from the Scriptures.” (2) This is something that’s extremely important for us to grasp and remember as we share the gospel with others today.

The gospel isn’t true and necessary because we personally experience life change from it. The gospel is true and necessary because God says it is.

People can experience life change from Weight Watchers, or a near death experience, or Mormonism, or Buddhism. But the life change they experience doesn’t save them and doesn’t prove that these things are true. This is why, when we evangelize, Scripture should take center stage and personal experiences of how Christ has changed our lives should play a supporting role.

The Mixed Response (4-9)
The encouraging news of this passage is that some of the people Paul preached to heard the gospel and believed it. Sometimes, we are reluctant to share the gospel with people because we’re afraid they will reject it (or us), but we should always keep verse 4 in mind– what if they actually believe it?

The remaining five verses, however, describe the opposite response to the gospel. Now, keep in mind, Paul is preaching to Jews…in the synagogue…from their own Scriptures. These are “church people,” if you will. If anybody should have received with joy what Paul was saying, it was this audience. Instead, they rejected the plain teaching of Scripture and basically ran Paul and Silas out of town on a rail.

Though we don’t usually experience rejection to this extreme today, it is a good reminder to us that there are still unbelievers in the church who will reject the plain teaching of Scripture. And, if there are enough like-minded unbelievers in a particular church or denomination, they will run off pastors, teachers, and denominational leaders who stand firmly on Scripture, and will codify rebellion against Scripture into their core beliefs and policies. This is why we have “churches” today that have homosexual bishops, female pastors, accept evolution, etc. Faithful, active church membership does not automatically guarantee that a person is saved.

Acts 17:10-15- Berea

Second Verse, Same as the First (10)
Sometimes, God closes a door and opens a window. Sometimes He slams the door and throws us through the window. Regardless of His method, we end up in the yard with a new place to share the gospel, and that’s exactly what happened to Paul and Silas.

Again, they started out by preaching the gospel in the synagogue.

An Enthusiastic and Responsible Response (11-12)
It’s easy to see why Paul said that the Jews of Berea were more noble than those of Thessalonica. He had three reasons:

1. “They received the word with all eagerness.”
These Jews loved God’s word and were hungry for it. Hearing Scripture taught wasn’t a burden or a duty for them, it was a joy.

2. They were “examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so.”
These Jews had the godly wisdom to know that, if what Paul was preaching was truly from God, Scripture would back it up. They did not just gullibly take every thing Paul said at face value. They did their homework and dug into the Scriptures to make sure Paul wasn’t pulling a fast one on them.

In our day and age of so many false teachers permeating the media, it is imperative that we follow the example of the Bereans. Don’t listen to that TV preacher just because what he says sounds good to the ear. Don’t assume that Bible study you’re considering buying is true to Scripture just because it’s on the shelf at a Christian bookstore. Be a good Berean. Do the homework– it’s never been easier! Google the pastor or author and find out if he/she has a track record of proclaiming sound doctrine. Compare what you’re hearing or reading to Scripture (in context), and see if what you’re being taught is really what God’s word says.

3. “Many of them therefore believed” (Mark 1:14)
There’s nothing more noble than hearing the gospel and believing it. That’s exactly what Jesus said to do in Mark 1:14: “repent and believe in the gospel.”

The Rest of the Story (13-15)
I wanted to end the lesson with verse 12, because I’m a “happily ever after” kind of gal. But this is the Bible, not a Disney movie, and the reality is that wherever the gospel flourishes, Satan will be hot on its heels to attack.

The unbelieving Jews who had caused such a ruckus in Thessalonica heard what was going on in Berea, and they didn’t like it. So, they traipsed roughly 50 miles down the road (a trip which probably took 2+ days) and started causing the same kind of trouble in Berea. We can expect the same kind of results today. When we preach the gospel, we will often face opposition.


When we share the gospel, we can be encouraged and spurred on by the fact that sometimes people will believe it. At the same time, we must be prepared for the opposition Paul and Silas, and even Jesus faced. But, like them, we will eventually get our happy ending. Jesus promised:

Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
Matthew 5:11-12