Confirmation lesson 3/31/2020

ei   We have gone through the Gospels and the Book of Acts (History of the Early Church). Now we are going to do some study on the letters of Paul. Remember, Paul was the former man named Saul, who had been persecuting the early Christian church to the point of death. He was a former Jewish Pharisee (religious leader) who was encountered by the Risen Jesus on a trip to round up and Jail followers of the Way (what early Christians were called) and his life becomes totally changed. Saul is re-named Paul, and he now begins a new mission to the world proclaiming Jesus as his Lord. Paul goes on foot to a series of missionary journeys all around the area North to what is now modern day Turkey (called Asia Minor then) to Modern day Greece, to proclaim Jesus as the Son of God (the Messiah) who has entered history, been crucified and died, and is now raised from the dead as God's salvation from sin, death, and the devil for humanity. 


Paul founds churches all over the area surrounding the Mediterranean sea. It's crazy to think how far he traveled by both foot and ship in the span of his life. He was converted by the risen Jesus in about AD34 and he dies in about AD62 in Rome (executed by the Roman empire). Paul writes letters to the church at Rome (Italy), Corinth (Greece), Galatia (Asia Minor), Ephesus (Asia Minor), Philippi (Greece), Colossae (Asia Minor), Thessalonica (Greece), and to  individual young men who worked with him--Timothy and Titus. In almost all the letters with the exception of the letter to Rome, Paul is writing the letter because things in the congregation had situations that Paul needed to address; it wasn't because things were going along perfectly. Paul didn't exactly have a cell phone to call or text in these situations, so by way of a letter delivered by a person on foot from the locations Paul was living, Paul addressed the problems and issues. This is why he wrote letters. He probably started writing these letters in about AD51 (Thessalonica) and the letters to the individuals were in the early 60's. So, most likely the letters were written over a span of about 11 years. The letters were not only read in the congregations they were sent to, but they were copied and read to new Christian congregations and along with the Gospels and Acts were used for preaching and teaching. Other letters written like Hebrews, letters of Peter, James, John, and Revelation were gathered, copied, and distributed as well. 


Romans is the letter Martin Luther read in the early 1500's which made him angry at some of the things the Roman Catholic church was doing and set him on a road to try and reform the church to get back to the basics of faith. Luther thought things had become rotten in the church and a house cleaning was in order. He was particularly angered after a trip on foot to Rome from his home in Germany. What he saw in Rome made him deeply troubled to the point of despair. He was now more sure than ever that things had to change.  Galatians was another letter that Luther thought spoke to the situation with the Roman church. So we see in this that the letters are not simply important in their age they were written for, but important to address Christians and churches in every age. Scripture isn't simply about the original people it was written for, its about a timeless way the letters address Christians in every time and place. 


Please read Romans 1:1-32. Notice in 1: 16-17, Paul states the righteous live by faith. Then jump ahead where Paul picks up this theme again in Romans 3:21-26. We are saved by GRACE as a GIFT by God's RIGTEOUSNESS in Jesus Christ through FAITH, not anything we do. Read chapter 5--we are justified by FAITH and have PEACE with God through Jesus Christ. Notice what Paul says in 5:4 about HOPE. In Chapter 6, we are to be dead to sin so we can be alive to God. The resurrection of Jesus is again stated (also the first chapter). Read all of Romans 8. Romans 8 is one of the most significant and beautiful chapters in the Bible. It's about our new life in the Spirit given to us in our baptisms. Notice how many times "Spirit" is mentioned! We live in the Spirit as Christians. Read especially Romans 8:35-38. Nothing can separate us from the Love of God in Christ Jesus Our Lord. Important to remember these days. Read chapter 12--We are to be a "living sacrifice" to God and one another, so that we are not conformed to this world, but are transformed as our minds are renewed by the Spirit. Romans 12:9-21 outlines what living a Christian life is to look like--genuine Christian LOVE. Also REJOICE, PATIENCE, PRAYER, LIVE in HARMONY, ect. If we read this I will give a quiz on Thursday and print it off and hand it in to me in due time. We will go through many of these letters in the next few months. Save the quizzes and put your names on them. If you don't have access to a printer, let me know and I will copy them off and send them to you. Blessings, prayers for health for you and your loved ones.


Thanks, Pastor Mark


4/2/2020   Answering the following on a sheet of paper and put it in a folder:


On a piece of paper number 1-10 and answer the following questions. Thanks


(1) Why were letters written? (a) Paul was bored; (b) Everything was going so well in the churches; (c) to teach people in the new churches; (d) usually something was going wrong in the churches (e) Both c and d

(2) Were the letters Paul sent mostly to (a) churches; (b) individuals?

(3) Which letter has had a major influence on Christianity and even Martin Luther (a) Letter to Hebrews; (b) Letters of Peter; (c) Romans; (d) the letter to Thantos

(4) Why did Paul want to go to Rome? (a) He thought it would be a beautiful city; (b) He greatly wanted to see them and help their faith; (c) He was angry with them and wanted to give them a piece of his mind; (d) he wanted to gather up and army and overthrow Rome

(5) The Righteous will live by________?  (a) Hope; (b) love; (c) faith; (d) greed

(6) Christ died for the (a) perfect people; (b) just Jews; (c) ungodly; (d) long suffering Viking fans

(7) In Romans 8 there is one reality all through it. What is it? (a) living according to the Spirit of God; (b) living in turmoil; (c) sin; (d) love

(8) Nothing will be able to _________ us from the _________ of God in Christ Jesus (Romans 8)

(9) Present yourself as a ___________  ___________ holy and acceptable to God (Romans 12) Its the verse the song "living sanctuary is taken from at camp.

(10) Do not be ___________ to this world, but be ___________ by the renewal of your mind.



Confirmation Lesson for the week of April 6-12

Last week we examined why Paul wrote letters to the churches. We examined some material from Paul's letter to the Roman church. Romans is one of the most important letters in the history of the church because it was a letter that had an enduring value throughout history. Martin Luther, in particular, how it influenced him and the events he was experiencing in his time in the early 1500's. It ignited a Reformation that changed both the church and politics. This week we are going to be looking at two of the longer letters in the New Testament-- I and II Corinthians. 


Read chapter 1 of 1 Corinthians. Corinth was a city in modern day Greece. Notice how many times God, Christ Jesus, Lord Jesus Christ, and Son are mentioned in the 9 verses (x16!). Paul is focusing them on the God who calls them to be disciples in God's world of Jesus. It's the same call you have on your lives. But there is a problem and this problem becomes apparent in the next section. The problem is division in the church. There are rivalries and different ways of following Jesus and who is to be followed. The church is no longer united in its vision and mission to the world. Think about how hard it is if you get into some drama with a group of friends. Think of what happens when you have friends you like that don't get along. It changes things and life becomes more of a chore. You might wonder--what can I do to get the division or problem solved? Paul was thinking the same way when he writes in chapter two about Jesus crucified. He appealed to them to find the wisdom from the Spirit to come together again. Spirit or God appears (x20!) in this section. Paul is convinced that the Spirit of God has the power to end the divisions. 


There were other issues going on in the church. There was a case of sexual immorality where a man was with the wife of his father in a sexual relationship. Paul says this plainly must be put to an end by removing this person from the body of Christ. Other things were happening--Christians were suing each other, there were disputes about whether people could still eat food offered to idols (their old religion), their were divisions in how the Lord's Supper was done in the congregation and between rich and poor. Apparently, the rich were treated like kings compared to the poor members. Read 11:17-35. It talks about the Lord's Supper. Paul writes about the "Words of Institution" that the pastor says before distributing the Lord's Supper. One thing Paul says that is interesting is that you can eat or drink in an "unworthy manner". I think he is referring here to the divisions among them and a casual view of receiving the Lord's Supper. It's a Holy and important thing to receive, nothing to be taken casually or not viewed as important.


Please read 1 Corinthians 12-13. This section talks about spiritual gifts that each believer has through the Holy Spirit. Also, notice how Paul says we are one body but many members. As you read through chapter 13, you might have heard this read at a wedding before, take notice of what it means to love as a Christian. This is truly one of the most important chapters in the Bible to know what true love looks like in our faith. Finally, read chapter 15 that talks about the importance of the Resurrection of Jesus, a good section to read the week of Easter.


In II Corinthians read 2:5-11, an important teaching on forgiveness. We always need to reminded of the power of forgiveness. Read 5:17-21 where Paul writes of us being a "new creation". Much of the rest of the letter is an appeal to raise money for further mission work by Paul all around the area of the Mediterranean sea.


Quiz for Corinthian Letters

(1) Paul addresses the Corinthians in chapter one as (a) Fools; (b) idiots; (c) saints; (d) good dudes

(2) "the word of the _________ is folly to those who are dying, but to us who are being saved it is the _________ of God (chapter 1)

(3) What is a stumbling block to Jews and Gentiles? (a) God; (b) Christ Crucified; (c) demons; (d) angels

(4) Paul hears there are ______________ and ______________ among the Corinthians (Corinthians 11)

(5) "Anyone who eats and drinks without ____________the body eat and drinks to judgment on him/her self (11)

(6) Chapter 12 is about (a) Holy Spirit; (b) spiritual gifts; (c) God; (4) a and b

(7) The body of Christ is made up of ______________ _______________

(8) What is the theme of chapter 13? _________________

(9) Name 5 things love is_____________  ________________ ______________ _______________ ________________

(10) Faith, hope, and _____________ abide and the greatest of these is _________________


Confirmation Lesson 4/15/2020


We continue with Paul's letters to churches in various sections of the Mediterranean Sea area. One of the reasons Paul wrote letters was to keep connected to the churches, but also to correct problems or issues going on in the churches in his absence. 

One of the basic truths of the Christian Gospel or "Good News" is that you are loved by God's grace in Jesus and there is nothing you can do or must do to "earn" this love/grace. If you think about it--Every area of our life we at least "feel" we have to earn our way to something. It's not like that is entirely a bad thing. We want to excel in school, job, and relationships. We want to do our best, but often the demands are life can be very heavy. If not from a coach, parent, or boss, but from ourselves! There is a saying, "I've met the enemy and it is ME!". It's like that voice that you hear in your head at times--you aren't good enough, you will never do this, or if only you were more like_______ , everything would be great. Yet, the Christian Gospel calls you by name_________ and God in Jesus claims YOU as his own, and promises to always be with YOU, no matter what the circumstance is in life. Paul tried to teach this to the churches he started. But sometimes it seemed easier to set up a set of rules to follow or try and bring back old things than it was to live in God's love/grace. 

Read Galatians 1. Paul is right away amazed that this people deserted the grace of Jesus Christ and is following after a different Gospel. Some false teachers came into the church and said that they were doing it all wrong and what Paul taught them wasn't true. They needed to practice some very old Jewish religious things in order to be Christians. In other words, It wasn't about grace and faith in Jesus, it was about "doing" certain things to measure up. It's almost like they were saying, "What Paul taught you is too easy, you need to go get on the stick!" The false teachers will set them straight about what they need to do. 

The easiest friend to be around is a friend who is full of grace and accepts you for who you are. The most difficult friend to be around is one who wants to change you--maybe encourage you to dress different, or act different, or be more like THEM. Just think of the difference! The easy-going friend or grace filled friend accepts you as you are, but the other "friend" wants to change you, or make you jump through hoops in order to like you. How draining and difficult is that to be around? 

In chapter 1 of Galatians Paul says --Do we want to seek the approval of God? Or please humans, seek their approval? This could be connected to "fitting in" with the group because "everyone is doing it", rather than be the person God wants you to be around other people, or even when no one is looking. God doesn't want you to compare yourself to others; God wants you to be faithful to God by loving both God and the neighbor, as well as yourself. Don't do what people think you should do, do what is right. 

In chapter 1 Paul says he hurt others and was violent against the church. Why? Because that is what he thought was serving God and he was getting good vibes from others in his religion because of it. Paul was pretty proud of himself! But Jesus came to him and encountered him with his love/grace so he could spread that love/grace to others. He was no longer to use violence to stop people from worshipping Jesus. In fact, Paul was to worship and serve Jesus in love and grace! Wow, a total reversal. Paul was called to be a disciple of Jesus. The very people he had been against. Paul had to change. The people of Pau's church had changed but now they were going backwards to something else--something other than the Good News of God's grace and love in Jesus by faith. Read Galatians 2:19-21. 

Paul is so upset at the direction these people have gone that he asks, "Who has bewitched you"? Who has cast a spell over you? It is the Holy Spirit that bring them to faith, not the rules of religion. Paul says we live according to spirit, faith, grace, not law. Law can't save you, only Jesus can. It's not that the law is bad--we need rules and laws, but if we set up a list of things to follow even if they are silly, is that LIFE? Read Galatians 3:24-29. 

You might ask, "Is this stuff really that important?" Well, think of relationships that based totally on law or performance. You know how hard those attitudes can be to live with. It's not that we shouldn't try our best to live right and obey our parents and teachers, those in authority, but what is our motivation to do so--demand or grace? Which is life giving? Which feels like constantly proving ourselves? 

Galatians 5 is one of the most important chapters in the entire Bible. Read it. It talks about faith working through love. It speaks being called to Freedom, but freedom isn't doing what we want to the harm of others, freedom is living life in God's Holy Spirit and love for God and all people. Paul says, "Walk by the Spirit." He outlines the "Fruit of the Spirit in 5:22-26. Powerful. 

Read Galatians 6 as it shows us how to be with each other--help others with their burdens and challenges, have a spirit of gentleness in your life. Basically in 6:3-5, it says don't boast in who you are but also don't compare who you are to others. Be who God uniquely created you to be in helping others. Life isn't an ego trip. If it is for you--you are doing it wrong. You aren't following the example of Jesus who "humbled himself, even to death on a cross" for the sake of the entire world and eternity; for you. 

Galatians is a powerful witness by Paul not to be enslaved to the things of the world, but to be freed to live in Jesus and his grace/love by faith in him.

(1) In chapter one, Paul in verse 1 says _________ and __________ to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. I sometimes start a sermon with this greeting. It sends the message of the Gospel right away as a type of blessing and gift to the one worshipping

(2) Paul is (a) happy; (b) could care less; (c) astonished/shocked; (d) depressed that the church is going against the things he taught them that God gave to him in Jesus.

(3) Is there a different Gospel according to Paul? (a) Yes; (b) No

(4) Paul received his call from God through (a) Revelation; (b) a note; (c) a trial; (d) an alien landing his time machine in Paul's palm tree filled back yard.

(5) Paul, in his former life, had sought to (a) help; (b) irritate; (c) destroy; (4) make himself savior in terms of how he related to the church of Jesus Christ.

(6) In Chapter 3 circle some of the key words in the chapter
Bewitched  faith  Spirit  dark  heaven  cloud  promise  law  camel  donkey

(7) Chapter 5 starts out by stressing you are (a) Free; (b) enslaved in Christ but the people of the Church in Galatia have (a) submitted to slavery; (b) Freedom

(8) Paul tells the church to _________ by the Spirit, or live by the Spirit. 

(9) List some of the things you can do that signal that you are enslaved to the flesh
__________  _____________  ______________  ______________  _______________  _______________

(10) The Opposite is the fruit of the Spirit. What are some of those?
________________  ________________  ________________ ________________ __________________ _________________

I pray you are all well. God bless and keep each of you! 

Pastor Mark


Confirmation Lesson April 23, 2020


One of my favorite sections of the entire Bible is Paul's letter to the church at Philippi. The letter is only four short chapter so whatever version of the Bible you have at home, read through it. I will give you some background about the letter.


Paul is in a prison due to his faith. I think this is important to remember because as you read the letter, you can't help but know how joyful and grateful Paul is for his life and his relationship to these people. You can't help but notice how he values his relationship to God/Christ. 


Chapter 1--Paul states the Christian faith is partnership. Here is the first of many verses I love from this letter: "And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ". This one too: "And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent." This was my confirmation verse: "For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain". 


In chapter 2 Paul points out the power there is in Christ's example of humility. The road to the cross and the cross is a humble one. Jesus humbled himself to death on the cross. Jesus made himself into "nothing" took on the form of a slave/servant, obedient to death. Here is another great verse: "Shine as lights in the world, holding fast to the word of life, so that I did not run in vain."


If you are in a sport, if you work really hard at your school work, or if work hard to be the best there is in speech competitions/choir/knowledge bowl, you have to train hard if you want to excel at what you do. So Paul uses the running image, the training image to Christianity and a life of faith too. You put your faith to the test daily, you pray without ceasing, you don't see Christianity simply as a part of your life--it is your life! It is in play at home, with your friends, on the basketball court, and in your school work/job. 


Some of you might know or have heard about Tim Tebow. He was a championship QB in college who wasn't shy about witnessing about Jesus. He takes a lot of flak for it, he still does. He even made it to the level right below the major leagues in baseball, as a guy over 30; pretty much unheard of. Some people object to him being so "out there" with his faith, but to me, he is being true to what he feels Jesus is calling him to be--"Shine as lights in the world". He has done some amazing things for organizations and people because of his celebrity. He seems genuine. I think he strives to be a Christian who "walks the talk". It seems to me this is what Paul is saying is key to the Christian life. Get after it! Live it daily. It isn't something you put on Sunday morning or at Christmas or Easter, you wear your Christianity every day you have breath in this life.


In chapter three Paul says he has a lot to boast about if he wanted to. Yet, its suffering for his faith so that he can gain Jesus that matters. It's to know him and the power of his resurrection. He presses on to the goal (again, the example of training for a race or athletic contest). "Our citizenship is in heaven and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself."


This verse in chapter four is one of my favs: "The Lord is at hand, do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus." This one is equally as powerful: "Whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things." Yes! These truly are words to LIVE by in Christ! 


Instead of a quiz today. if you like to draw,  take one of these verses I have pointed out and doodle or draw an image that seems to give a representation of the words. For those who aren't drawing artistic, maybe think up some lyrics to a rap song, or write down a poem, or maybe write a short story about a character who is moved by these words by Paul about what it means to live the Christian faith. If none of this works for you, then write a personal reflection on a verse or two for how it either has or could in the future, shape your life. Why does any of this matter? What difference can the power of the faith described here by Paul make in your life?


I hope you are well. Pray the Lord's Prayer when you are done and know the Love of God as shown in Jesus and through the Holy Spirit is with you at all times and all places. Know it, believe it, and live it!


Pastor Mark


Confirmation Lesson April 30, 2020


We will continue to have some readings for the next month in doing out work. How is everyone doing with their faith statements? At least you that are the 9th graders. if you have any lessons let me know either by text or simply call me. My number is (218) 851-3153. Ok, so here is what we will be doing the next four weeks. This week we will look at (1) a few more of Paul's letters. The next week we will examine a letter called (2) Hebrews; in week (3) we will

look at a the letters of James, Peter and John; (4) we will finish up by trying to get some understanding of a letter I just taught in FB live Bible study--Revelation. 


Paul wrote a number of letters to the churches he founded and we have read a number of those letters. Let's talk about the letters (2 of them) to a church in Thessalonica in Modern Day Greece. I don't have much of a desire to go to anywhere in Europe to travel someday, but it I had to pick a country in Europe I'd like to go and see, it would probably be Greece. I hear its beautiful there and I'm guessing the weather is a bit better than the UK? Did you know that Paul had plans to go all the way to Spain? I don't think he made it there but Paul was always dreaming big, he wanted to bring the Good News of Jesus as far and wide as he could go! Paul was probably killed for his faith in Rome in about the year 64 AD. I just read this week that it is probable that Paul was 3-4 years younger than Jesus. I was wondering how they would have any clue on this. I will try to find out. 


Once again, when Paul is writing to the church there he is thankful for their partnership in the Good News of Jesus. Paul gives thanks for them. Paul mentions their (1) work of faith; (2) labor of love; (3) steadfastness of hope. Read Thessalonians chapter 1. Paul even says the people there became examples for others in their faith. The people of this city tuned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, to wait from Jesus' return. Have you ever had older kids you knew who were inspiring to your faith? What was it about them that impressed you? You might even have friends or know people at school who are great examples of Christian living or joy in your life. Be thankful for them because they help us to live our faith. Faith is individual but we also need each other. It's the thing I miss most these days. I miss all of you and I miss people I was used to seeing in church every week. A lot of us are missing something we always took for granted, being with people in our community.


(1) What modern day country is Thessalonica located? (a) Spain; (b) Russia; (c) Italy; (d) Greece

(2) What was Paul excited about that the people of Thessalonica doing in becoming (a) imitators or (b) imposters; of him and the Lord.

(3) True or false: Paul often traveled with other Christian believers on his missions?   T         F    


Read Thessalonians Chapter 2

Apparently Paul was not treated very well in Philippi, he makes mention of this in Chapter 2. But Paul did not back down in his boldness to share the Gospel of Jesus. Paul also points out that when he was visiting these people that he worked to make his own living. He did not want to "mooch" off them. I think this is interesting. Paul also points out that the people of Thessalonica suffered for their faith. It's not always easy being a Christian, no matter if you lived in Paul's time or if you live today. What do you think it means to be a Christian? Is it hard for you? What do you think about this question? 


(4) Paul never sought _____________ from people.


Read Thessalonians Chapter 4

One thing Paul mentions in almost every single one of his letters to churches is his command for the people he writes to that they abstain from sexual immorality. The reason this is true is that those people came out of a way of life where sexual things were not only expected but required to be a human person in those cultures and religions. It was a very different way of living life compared to Jewish-Christian morality. This is why this subject keeps on coming up again and again in Paul's letters. 


(5) Paul encourages the people to ______________ one another more and more. 


Paul encourages people to live quietly and keep their eyes on their bobber and keep their nose out of other people's business. 


2 Thessalonians

Read 2 Thessalonians  Chapter 1

In this section Paul talks about the judgment that is coming when Jesus comes again. We say this in the Apostles Creed. 


Read 2 Thessalonians Chapter 3

Prayer is important to the Christian life

(6) Not all have faith, but the Lord is faithful and will __________ you against the evil one.

(7) Do not grow weary of ___________    _____________  .  This is a great thing to remember every day. 


Confirmation Lesson: May 6, 2020


A professor once asked Pastors in seminary (school that pastors must go to in order to become a pastor) how many had ever studied Hebrews in the New Testament before? Most of the pastors did not raise their hands. So, its a part of the Bible that very few people are familiar with, even pastors. I wont make you read the whole thing, but as I give you sections to read I want you to take a pencil and every time you see the words--NEW, SUPERIOR, BETTER, MORE EXCELLANT, underline them. These words are key to understanding the message of the letter. 


(1)The letter was written to Christians of Jewish background. Those people had read the Old Testament and were familiar with it since they were young. Their parents brought them to their local church called the Synagogue on a regular basis. So, these Jewish people who now believed Jesus was the Messiah, the One sent by God to save the world entire world, had a deep appreciation for their Jewish background. The person who is writing Hebrews wants them to know that in CHRIST, there is now a new, superior, better, and more excellent way.


(2) There are 2 ways of relating to God--Old Covenant and New Covenant. The Old Covenant of the Old Testament--But it is NOT worthless, otherwise we wouldn't have studied it, but it is inadequate by itself to know Jesus. God has done a new thing in sending Jesus to the world, so this is called the New Covenant. Covenant is a fancy word for a close relationship that two sides enter into in order to be faithful to each other. Its based on promise. When people get married they think about marriage in those terms. If people are to be faithful to each other in marriage, it means that they are going to be there for that person they are marrying in all the circumstances of life. Even if their partner becomes sick or disabled or some awful thing, the promise is to stick by them. Married people also promise to not mess around with others--either single or married--but be faithful and exclusive to their mate. If you do this and try to get along the best you can, just think of how this makes the children feel. The kids feel secure and they delight in knowing their mom and dad love each other and are faithful to each other. In the Old Testament the people of God experience difficulty in staying faithful to God. We see in much of the Old Testament this struggle. But in the New Covenant --Jesus is sent to give us new and abundant/overflowing life. 


(3) In this new covenant (promise) Jesus is the better, more excellent way, Jesus is the perfect high priest--the one who offered sacrifices for the people for sin, now Jesus is the perfect sacrifice (think of part of the meaning of the cross). Jesus died for your sins. 


What is also important about this is because Jesus is the New Covenant --you don't have to be born Jewish to be God's child. You don't have to do certain things to be a part of God's family. It would be like at one time the only people who could be a part of God's family had to be in Grant County. If others from Stevens or Douglas county wanted to be a part of then "club" they would have to do certain things, one of them involving a very painful cut to a <cough> certain part of the body we have talked out <yowzer> But in Jesus, we believe in him and get all the benefits without having to prove we deserve it. We are saved by faith, not works! 


(4) the letter was probably written in about 80 AD or 90AD, one of the last letters of the New Testament. Jesus died and was raised in about 33AD so we get an idea this is at least 50 years after Jesus' death and resurrection. So these people the letter was written to, some of them anyway, could have been Christians for a long time. The person who is writing the letter wants the people to not take their faith for granted. Don't get lazy about it. Make sure that faith is lived daily in many ways, gather together and worship, and take your faith seriously. 


Ok...I hope that gives you some solid background to better understand what you are reading. Let's go though the Letter to the Hebrews!


Chapter 1--read through it


(1) How does Hebrews say God spoke to the people before? (a) Through angels; (b) Prophets; (c) Donkeys; (d) Kings

Much of chapter one shouts out the importance of Jesus. Jesus is superior to the angels, to everything

(2) Does chapter one say Jesus changes over time or is Jesus the foundation, from the beginning? <Hint--In the Gospel of John Jesus is described as the "word" of God from the beginning. Jesus is (a) from the beginning; (b) changing all the time; (c) just another angel but a little higher; (d) not important.


Chapter 2--read through it


(3) How did these people learn about God/Jesus? (a) People witnessed, told them; (b) signs and wonders; (c) various miracles; (d) All of the above. 

Jesus crowned with glory and honor because of (4) (a) it was his right; (b) he was lucky; (c) suffering and death; (d) no reason


Read Chapter 4


(5) the word of God is ___________ and _____________  ________________ than any two-edged sword. 


(6) Jesus is described as the _____________   ______________  ______________. He know our weaknesses, has been tempted like we are, yet without ________________.  Great to remember this each day. 


Read Chapter 6


(7) It's important that Christians (a) Stay like little babies in their faith; (b) mature in faith; (c) don't care about their faith; (d) Judge others


Read Chapter 11


(8) Faith is the assurance of things _____________ for, the conviction of things not _____________. 

The rest of the chapter tells us how faith is so important. It gives us a lot of examples. This is truly one of the great chapters in the entire New Testament letter sections. Faith can go through pretty much anything if God is trusted. We need to remember this at all times, not just in rough times. We need faith too in the times when things seem to be going well or easy. Faith keeps us humble and grounded. 


Read Chapter12


(9 )We are surrounded by so great a cloud of __________________, let us lay aside ever weight and ____________ which clings so closely, let us run with __________________ the race that is set before us, looking to ______________, the founder and perfecter of our faith. (One of my favorite Bible verses!) 


(10) Therefore, let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be ____________________, and thus let us offer to God acceptable _________________. with reverence and awe, for our God is a ______________  ______________. 


Enjoy the rest of your week. Gorgeous day today. 

I will try to get the next two lessons (final ones) on here by Sunday night. Thanks!



May 11 Confirmation Lesson

 

One of my favorite writings in the entire New Testament is a little gem of a letter by James. It's only five chapters long, but there is so much wisdom in those chapters. Wisdom is what I would call--practical, lived-out truth. It's more than good advice from a person who has lived enough of life to have something to say about how to live the life you've been blessed with. Wisdom is rooted in God instruction of his law and ways. It is life giving, but its no guarantee that if you follow it as closely has possible that you will prosper. This is why the book of Job and Ecclesiastes were written, as a correction to the idea that living in wisdom guarantees anything. I had one of you ask me why bad things happen to good people. This is a great question that any person of faith struggles with from time to time. 


What James teaches is how to practically live this life you've been given in accordance with God's direction. What are the things that matter to God? Interestingly, Jesus isn't mentioned a whole lot in this letter. But when he is, take notice because something important is being taught. Since this letter is so short, I want you to read through it. Here are some things to keep in mind: (1) God is the giver of all the good gifts in our life. God does not tempt us. (2) We can't just be hearer's of God's word. We must "do" it! We are called to live out our faith every day in every way. If Christianity means anything it means to listen to God's word and enact it in life. (3) We are called to love everyone without exception. I have a quote hanging on my bulletin board by my desk that says this: "Our job is to love others without stopping to inquire whether or not they are worthy". Its written by a Roman Catholic monk named Thomas Merton. We don't look down on anyone or think we are better than anyone. People in this church James is writing to were treating rich members better than poor ones. This is not how God's kingdom is to be lived in. We are always to love our neighbor as ourselves. (4) How important is it to be careful in what we say about other people? Being nasty, being snarky and rude, being judgmental of others is an affront to God. Instead, we are to use our speech, or tongues to build up others, to encourage, and to make them feel good. We all fail at doing this at times. But what power is there in this scripture to remind us of what is good, right, and beautiful in our speech? (5) Keep focused on the day, not tomorrow. Today and the present is to be your focus. Who knows if we will even get a tomorrow? Especially don't boast about what you will do in the future. Be humble and focused on today. (6) We all suffer, don't we? There isn't a one of us who doesn't go through some trials in life. But in the middle of suffering, what if we were patient? This section even mentions how Job was so steadfast in his suffering. What a powerful example of how to go through tough times in our lives. James reminds us that God is compassionate and merciful.  Bear with God and trust God. (7) Pray for sick people to get well. There is power in prayer.


Chapter One

(1) Count it all __________ my brothers, when you meet _____________.

(2) Steadfastness leads to being ____________ and ______________, lacking in nothing.

(3) Blessed is the one who remains________________ under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive "the crown of life"

(4) True or false--God tempts people? 


Chapter Two

(5) Show no ___________________ as you hold the faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. 

(6) You shall ______________ your neighbor as _______________. 

(7) Mercy triumphs over_____________________.


Chapter Three

(8) You shall ________________ your neighbor as _____________________. 

(9) James says the _________________ is wild and causes great damage to others.


Chapter Four

(10) Should we boast about what we are going to do tomorrow? T or F? 


Chapter Five

(11) Be _________________ in _________________. Job is seen as an example of this.

(12) Pray for the_________________. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. 


May 18, Lesson  The letter of Revelation

 

This will be our last lesson on a New Testament letter. The last, the letter of Revelation, is a real doozy! 

If you pick this up and just start reading it, you will no doubt be very quickly asking the question, "What is this and what is this about?" The letter of Revelation is truly the strangest, on the face of it-- troubling, and most non-sensical writing in the entire Bible. So let me help you understand some things about it, because if you live for many more years, you are going to hear about this letter and much of what you hear about it coming from various churches and other religious traditions will be flat out wrong. It is not a letter to be feared, nor is it about some dreadful happenings that are to come in the future according to some sort of timeline of events. If you like horror films you can watch many films that are patterned after events in the letter. Films like Rosemary's Baby, The Omen series, and the Left Behind books/movies are examples of this. They make for a scary tale, but have nothing to do with what will transpire in the future. So anyway, I would recommend the Omen series if you like to get unnerved a bit and you will get a good idea about how Hollywood takes something from the Bible and plays it out into a story. I think there are three films in that series. I'm sure its on Net Flix or Amazon. 


But what I am going to teach about Revelation is much more tame and actually much more historical than the fanciful tales some movies try to spin or even Tv pastors and a large segment of Christianity that just gets this letter wrong, totally wrong. 


Let's look at three things: (1) the letter of Revelation is just THAT--a letter. If it is a letter it must function as a letter. In other words, it must make sense and be able to be understood by the ones the letter is being sent to. This would seem to be obvious, but the most glary mistake most people make when trying to understand the letter and its meaning is they forget this fact. Who was the letter written to? It was written to a group of 7 congregations/churches in what is now modern day Turkey, but at the time it was written, was known as Asia Minor. So, these are the churches the letter is written to and the writer wants to get an important message across to them, or else he wouldn't have bothered to write this down and send it to them. 


(2) The author of the letter was a man named John. He was a prophet, not an Old Testament prophet like Jeremiah or Isaiah, but a New Testament prophet whose job was to deliver messages that the people might not want to hear, as well as tell them to "hold on" in the face of things getting pretty rough for them. He is trying to encourage them to stay strong in their faith even though there are pressures for them to fit into the culture they grew up in or even abandon their faith in Jesus. Make sense?


(3) This letter is about the end of all things. In Chapters 21-22, there is a vision of John of a new heaven and a new earth. This is another way of talking about "heaven" but it may come to a surprise to some of you that in this vision, heaven is on earth! A NEW heaven and a NEW earth. Its physical and we will live out eternity in this NEW state of existence before God. We will have a resurrection body just like his after he was raised from the grave. When people first hear this, many get troubled. They might ask a question like this one, "What? What has happened to my loved one who has died in the past?" If this is the case and true, is my loved one just waiting for this and sitting in the ground all alone and not in "heaven"? Nope, not at all. We believe the words of Jesus from John 14, that he has gone and prepared a place for us, because in his House are many rooms. In other words, when we die we will be in God's presence. We will not be forsaken or "sleeping" 6 feet under. We will be with the Lord. Romans 8 talks about how in Christ Jesus there is no separation. We need to remember this promise because it its true. 


For you reading assignment on this letter of Revelation read Chapters 1-3. This is the part of the letter where John addresses things that are going on in the congregations. He has a little to say about each one of them. 


(1) I am the ___________ and the ____________ , says the Lord God, Who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty. 

(2) John had his vision from an Island called ______________. 

(3) What are the names of the 7 churches? _____________ _______________ ________________ _________________ _______________ ________________ ____________________. 

 

Read chapter 4

This is one of my favorite chapters in all of the Bible. It's a scene from Heaven of worship of God and the Lamb (Jesus). 


Think about some of the thins seen by John here--the throne 24 Elders, crowns on their head, what do they end of doing with their crown? (4)__________________________________ The thunder and lightening, the worship. 


(5) ______________ are you, our Lord and God to receive ______________ and ___________ and ___________, for you created all things. 


In chapters 5-10 there is a vision of various things on the earth   War, economic turmoil, sickness. death. Sound familiar? When people read this they go, "Oh, this is happening right now!" There is a universal reality to the things shown John that every age fears and suffers from. 


Read chapter 7 --verse 9-18  Another worship scene in Heaven. A great multitude from all the nations of the earth glorify and worship God and the Lamb. 


Read chapters 12 -13

This is the story of the woman and the dragon. When you read it, it might seem like something out of a fantasy book you have read. It's full of action and drama. Will the child survive? Or will the dragon get it? There is also a war in heaven where the Arch Angel (6) ________________ defeats the dragon and his angels. Satan is thrown out of heaven for good. The woman is probably not Mary, but the church but the child does stand for Jesus. It's just another way to say that Satan has not and cannot prevail or win. In chapter 13 we see these creatures called the Beast arise. There are two beasts that seek to lead the world astray. 


Read Chapter 17--This is the story of the great Harlot and the Beast. When the name Babylon is mentioned that is two things (1) Stands for Rome and its empire. In fact, I think this is a vision that in part previews the down fall of all powerful Rome; (2) It also symbolizes any empire who opposes God and the Lamb, the characteristics are often the same. These empires operate by means of violence, economic pressures, and intimidation. Think about Hitler or Stalin. Did Nazi Germany survive? Did the Soviet Union?  Chapter 18 shows the fall and destruction of Babylon. Chapter 19 shows the rejoicing in Heaven at the fall of Babylon. 


Read 21 and 22 --The New Heaven and New Earth.

Christ will come again and usher in the New Heaven and New Earth. 


I hope this has given you some understanding of the New Testament letters and why they were written. Finish up your faith statements and we will await a time where we can hold a confirmation service for you. Job well done by all of you! 


Pastor Mark