Read 1 Corinthians 13:9-13.
Better in Love.
“But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away” (v. 10).
This week we are focusing on God’s Better Plan. The world talks and sings a lot about love. So it is very evident that love is also a part of the world’s plan. So what makes the love that is in God’s plan better than the love that is in the world’s plan? To answer that question, read back through 1 Corinthians 13 – the chapter that describes God’s plan of love.
From this chapter, we can see the superiority of God’s love first because that love never ends. God never says, “I just cannot love that person anymore.” His love “never fails.” God’s love is also superior because it is not self-centered – it “seeketh not her own.” Further, this love is not based upon a fantasy, but upon truth – “rejoiceth in truth.” Verse 7 emphasizes that God’s love motivates us to positive action in the worst of times.
In comparison, the world’s love often ends, is often selfish, is based upon feeling rather than truth, and often turns to hate when circumstances change.
God never met a person He could not love! He has a better plan! (GLS)
Make my love like yours, dear Lord,
Unending, selfless, and true,
So that when others see my love,
They will quickly think of You. (GLS)
Focus Text: Hebrews 9:11-14, 19-28
Central Truth: Only through Christ's atonement can we obtain eternal redemption.
Objective: By the end of this lesson my students should be able to explain the superiority of Christ's atonement over that of the Old Testament system of atonement.
I. A Better Priest (Hebrews 9:11-14)
II. A Better Promise (Hebrews 9:15-21)
III. A Better Provision (Hebrews 9:22-28)
Focus Text: Hebrews 8:1-13
Central Truth: When the Word is written in our hearts, it enables us to fulfill God's will.
Objective: By the end of this lesson my students should be able to compare and contrast the Old Covenant with the New Covenant.
I. The Minister of the New Covenant (Hebrews 8:1-7)
II. The Ministry of the New Covenant (Hebrews 8:8, 9)
III. The Meaning of the New Covenant (Hebrews 8:10-13)
Focus Text: Luke 24:13-29
Central Truth: Christ is the complete fulfillment of the prophetic scriptures.
Objective: By the end of this lesson my students should be able to explain the historical evidence concerning the resurrection of Christ.
I. Revealed Through the Word (Luke 24:13-27)
II. Revealed Through Communion (Luke 24:28-45)
I suppose every Christian, in this time of unprecedented social upheaval (Unprecedented in our lifetimes!), has a verse to which they turn for comfort and strength. For some of us, the place is Psalm 46:8-11. The keynote of the passage is v. 10: "Be still and know that I am God."
When I was a fifth grader (Please note – the year was 1962!), each school day began with a time of "opening exercises." My teacher had a little book of poems from which we read each morning. Although 1962 was long ago, one of those poems still is sealed to my mind.
The world today is going so fast,
I can't keep up; I am traveling half-masked.
I think I will go east, and I find I have gone west.
I am hurrying so fast to keep up with the rest.
They're hurrying here, and hurrying there;
Not sure where they are going, and they don't much care!
In the rural world, where I find my greatest delight, we call it "chasing our tail" – creating lots of activity, for little or no purpose. And if that was the case in 1962, how much more has been true in more recent times! Sports, music, school activities, church activities, political activism, professional activities, texting, social media, electronic communication – that is life! Or is it? Evidently God does not think so! For on the seventh day, God rested (Gen 2:1). The Creator God found it necessary to hit the "pause button" – to take time to reflect.
The world has defied God in many ways, and the church has rightfully decried many of them. Sadly, however, the church has joined the world in defying God's call to rest – to "be still and know that I am God." And I cannot help but wonder if the current change of pace isn't, in part, God's way of getting His people to do by decree what they refused to do by choice – "be still."
Please do not misunderstand. I do not know whether God sent this virus, or, like with Job, allowed it. I also do not know what God's purpose is in this current crisis. I just know He has one! And I am quite sure that His purpose involves His people as well as the world. And it doesn't seem His people are taking very kindly to what He is doing! One dear brother mentioned that his wife is not taking very well to this idea of cooking at home! I hear others decry this loss of freedom. Yes, change is difficult to accept, especially when we seem to have little choice!
In commenting on Psalm 46:10, Charles Spurgeon makes this interesting observation. "Either by terror or by love God will subdue all hearts to himself." The cross showed His love. And in a smaller way, COVID-19 shows His terror. He is the Sovereign God, so COVID-19 did not take Him by surprise.
Let's go back to Psalm 46:8, where the psalmist talks about a part of the work of God being "what desolations he hath made in the earth." Verse 9 talks about God's ability to stop war by bringing desolation. It is in that context that God, through the psalmist, calls upon his people to "be still and know that I am God."
Job too faced desolation, and, to be sure, that desolation did not cause him to be still! In fact, Job became quite vocal – maybe like us – in his protesting the desolation in his life. Until, that is, God appeared in chapter 38. And when God gets done with dealing with Job's faulty theology, Job finally acknowledges that he should have not talked so much.
Therefore, have I uttered that I understood not;
things too wonderful for me, which I knew not (Job 42:3).
As stated earlier, none of us know for sure what God is doing through this pandemic. And we should learn from Job that, when God brings desolation, whether by decree or permission, we need to learn silence. Spurgeon refers to it as "expressive silence."
The modern church world is not very good at "silent praise." Maybe God is trying to teach us something new! Psalm 46 is an excellent place to learn what that "something new" might be!
Read 1 Corinthians 15:12-19
“And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are still in your sins” ( v. 17).
Toolbox, check. Parts all over the garage floor, check. Instruction manual, check. You’re ready to put that new cabinet together. You get through steps 1 and 2 like a pro. Then you turn the page and realize there's a problem; the next step in the manual is 8. Part of the manual is missing. We need all of the Bible. We can’t skip to the ending and miss out on the beginning or middle. We need each and every word and truth.
Some reject the doctrine of man's sinfulness and only want the hope of resurrection. Others ignore the life of resurrection in favor of the sinfulness of man. But it is an error to emphasize Calvary to the exclusion of Gethsemane and vice-avers. We cannot separate the cross from the empty tomb. They are one.
At the cross, we died with Christ; out of the tomb, we are made alive with Christ (Romans 6:3-4). At the cross, we resolve our past; at the tomb we gain our future (Romans 6:11).
At the cross, the power of sin is broken; at the tomb, the power of righteousness is released. (Romans 6:13);
In the cross, we taste mercy; at the tomb, we drink grace (Romans 6:22). (Don Callaway)
In the Cross of Christ I glory
Towr'ing o'er the wrecks of time;
All the light of sacred story
Gathers round its head sublime. -John Bowring
“I am crucified with Christ; nevertheless I live, yet not I but Christ liveth in me and the life which I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the son of God who loved me and gave Himself for me.” Galatians 2:20