The Joy of Right Relationships

Read Psalm 51:10-13

“Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit” (v. 12).
For many years I did not notice the right relationship of the pronouns in this scripture verse. I exchanged “thy” with “my.” I wanted my joy to be based on owning my salvation and my free spirit. That’s definitely a self-centered attitude regarding relationships, especially my most precious one with God. He has greatly invested in our desire for Him by sending His only Son to the cross for my sins and for the sins of the whole world (John 3:16, 17).
I relate the joy of salvation with what Paul wrote in Romans: “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (5:8). As a peer-counselor at a crisis pregnancy center, I would tell a client that she did not have to clean up her act before accepting Christ as Savior. God acted first on her behalf.
How did God demonstrate His love? He “sent his Son to be the propitiation [sacrifice, atonement, satisfaction] for our sins” (1 John 4:10). Thus, “We love him because he first loved us” (v. 19). What joy! What freedom! And it’s all provided by our great and good God. (Ann L. Coker)
God’s best wish for us is an intimate relationship with Him.
2018-11-07T09:00:33+00:00November 7th, 2018|Categories: Opening the Word|Tags: , , |0 Comments

How to Love Your Neighbor

In "Doctrinal Discussion" Jason Lindahl writes:

To love your neighbor as yourself, the second-highest commandment according to Jesus, is highly practical. It looks like Proverbs 25, where we read, “Go not forth hastily to strive, lest thou know not what to do in the end thereof, when thy neighbor hath put thee to shame” (v. 8). In other words, when you find canine excrement in your front yard, do not automatically assume your neighbor's poodle is to blame and fling the offensive substance over the bordering fence into his property. Perhaps a friendly discussion of the problem is in order, as the next couple of verses state: “Debate thy cause with thy neigh-bor himself; and discover not a secret to another: lest he that heareth it put thee to shame, and thine infamy turn not away.” That is, don't go blabbing to all the other neighbors that Joe next door lets his poodle run wild, instead of going and talking the matter over with Joe himself. When you find out that Joe's dog got run over by a car six months ago and that some other animal was responsible for the deposit in your yard, you are going to feel pretty ashamed. Furthermore, the town gossip becomes the subject of scornful gossip himself. Also, when we go to talk to Joe about the problem, our speech should be gracious and non-accusing, as verse 11 says: “A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver.” Of course, upon further reflection, we may decide, probably correctly, that it is not worth making a big deal over the situation, and simply toss the refuse in the garbage can. The command to love our neighbors as ourselves comes from the Book of Leviticus and in context it reads, “Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy peo-ple, but thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself: I am the LORD” (19:18). Perhaps Joe's dog is to blame; perhaps Joe is careless and inconsiderate. Consider forgiveness. Take Joe a loaf of bread. Back to Proverbs 25: “If thine enemy be hungry, give him bread to eat; and if he be thirsty, give him water to drink: for thou shalt heap coals of fire upon his head, and the LORD shall reward thee” (vs. 21, 22). On the other hand, perhaps Joe is a great guy, friendly, generous, and helpful. Perhaps you enjoy talking to him and find it convenient to run over every so often and borrow his hedge trimmer. Keep in mind verse 17 of our chapter: “Withdraw thy foot from thy neighbor's house; lest he be weary of thee, and so hate thee.” And certainly, whatever you do, don't let your dog run loose in Joe's yard!

Source: Building Christian Relationships: Adult Teacher's Insights, page 74.

2017-05-20T09:00:00+00:00May 20th, 2017|Categories: Lesson Highlights|Tags: |0 Comments

Love and Submission

In "Biblical Perspective" Larry Grile writes:

The highest ideal of love is that we love our neighbors as ourselves (Lev. 19:18; Matt. 22:39). This means that we transfer the love we naturally have for ourselves to include having a caring and thoughtful regard for others. This kind of love should be most evident in marriage. Husbands need to express their love verbally and practically every day. Women are usually more loving than men, and they also need the security of being loved. It is much easier for a wife to be submissive when a man truly loves and affirms her. Reverence includes the ideas of submission, respect, and deference. God has so made men that they need and desire these qualities in a woman, but they cannot require them. Reverence is needed because man is the authority and head of the home. Respectful submission is part of a woman's submission to God. Husbands can lead only when wives will follow. A woman is much easier to love when she is submissive, respectful, and affectionate. Only as men love and lead, and women respect and follow, can marriage reach the joyful and fulfilling ideal it was meant to be.

Source: Building Christian Relationships: Adult Teacher's Insights, page 53.

2017-04-29T09:18:00+00:00April 29th, 2017|Categories: Lesson Highlights|Tags: , |0 Comments

First Love

In "Word Focus" Darrell Grim writes:

Lange gives the meaning of first love as “that glowing, all-absorbing love to Jesus, as a personal Savior, which at the first constrained them to devoted service.” It is more than that early ecstasy that new Christians feel. John Wesley stated that the initial ecstasy of our conversion “subsides into a calm and peaceful love.” This happens even as Christ remains our first love. However, for the Ephesians that love had cooled until they were left with orthodoxy without the Spirit. As happens many times, their loss of the Spirit was followed by an emphasis on works.

Discussion: What caused the Laodicean Church to leave its first love?
Source: Christ, the Triumphant Lord: Adult Teacher's Insights, page 9.

2016-06-09T09:00:00+00:00June 9th, 2016|Categories: Lesson Highlights|Tags: |0 Comments

Love Rewarded

Read Revelation 2:1-11
“He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death” (v. 11).
As I hear news reports of the torture that Christians in other parts of the world are undergoing and enduring, my heart bleeds for them. I am moved to pray that God will be their constant companion through these times. I remember the three Hebrew Children and the ridicule and testing they were put through before finally being cast into the furnace. God could have delivered them by some miraculous act without them going through the furnace, but when they faced what seemed certain death, God was with them. Those who are today being persecuted, tortured and slain for their faith are finding their God with them in the midst and to the end of their trying.
Though none of us like to think about having to go through the things that our Christian brothers and sisters in other parts of the world are enduring, we need to remember that there are worse things coming if we do not remain steadfast in our dedication and service to our Lord. Our text verse tells us that if we overcome these things in this present life that we shall not be hurt of the second death. Revelation 20:14 tells us that the second death is the casting of death and hell into the lake of fire. (Larry DeOrnellis)
"When our ears hear, and our hearts respond, we come into a love relationship with God and that love is rewarded by not being hurt of the second death."
This devotional is the Saturday, June 11, 2016 entry of Opening the Word.

2016-06-08T09:00:00+00:00June 8th, 2016|Categories: Opening the Word|Tags: |0 Comments

The Irony of the Gospel

In "Biblical Perspective" Randall McElwain writes:

As Jewish idioms, love and hatred are relative terms. Love for the things of God is equated with hatred of this life. The term translated lose here is often translated “destroy.” A selfish love for this life destroys the very life one seeks to protect. The great paradox of the gospel is that the only way to gain eternal life is to give up life. The great irony of the gospel is that Jesus, who already possessed eternal life, gave up His life to provide eternal life to humankind.

Discussion: How have you seen a love for this life destroy people's lives?
Source: Jesus, Son of God: Adult Teacher's Insights, page 11.

2016-03-09T09:00:00+00:00March 9th, 2016|Categories: Lesson Highlights|Tags: , , |0 Comments

What motivates God?

In "Doctrinal Discussion" Randy Bland asks the question, "What motivates God?" Why does God love us so much? He then writes:

Yet, for love to be real, there must always be the possibility of pain and rejection. God made Himself vulnerable in order to live in loving community with other beings, and He was rejected, first by many of the angels, and then by humanity. He continues to feel the pain of rejection up to this very moment. Most of us would run from that level of pain, but God embraced the pain through love and found a way to win many people back to Himself. That way, of course, is the cross.

Discussion: What motivates us? How does this compare to what motivates God?
Source: Jesus, The Son of God: Adult Teacher's Insights, page 7.

2016-03-04T09:00:00+00:00March 4th, 2016|Categories: Lesson Highlights|Tags: , |0 Comments

Who is the "leper" in your life?

In "Word Focus" William Sillings writes:

Jesus touched (hapsato) the leper. Not only that, but He also stretched out His hand (ekteinas — aorist participle). The literal meaning of this word might read something like this, “When He had stretched out His hand,” signifying that this was a very intentional action. We think little about the fact that Jesus touched a leper, because we have heard it so many times. But think about what it meant to the first-century disciples. According to Leviticus 13, anyone who had leprosy was to be declared unclean, and they were to be quarantined from their families and the rest of the camp of Israel.
For Jesus to touch a leper was to transgress the traditions of Israel as well as to cause Himself to become ceremonially unclean. In the eyes of His disciples, Jesus was rewriting the tradition. He was taking drastic steps to make His point that people are more important than ceremonial cleanness.

Discussion: Who are the people our community are unwilling to touch? Who are the people our church is afraid or unwilling to touch? Who are you unwilling to touch?
Discussion: How should we change our attitudes and actions toward our "lepers"?
Source: Miracles of Jesus: Adult Teacher's Insights, page 28.

2015-12-30T14:00:46+00:00December 30th, 2015|Categories: Lesson Highlights|Tags: , , |0 Comments

Lesson Highlight: "walk"

In "Doctrinal Discussion" Dr. Glenn McClure writes concerning the Christian walk:

  1. We need to walk in love which is the essence of our walk (Eph. 5:2).
  2. We need to walk by faith (2 Cor. 5:7), knowing that God’s way will not always be accepted by this world.
  3. We need to walk in the light (1 John 1:7).
  4. We need to walk with integrity (Rom. 13:13).
  5. Most importantly, we need to walk in newness of life (Rom. 6:4); that is, we need to walk in Christ (Col. 2:6), the one who has given us physical, spiritual, and eternal life.

Source: Miracles of Jesus: Adult Teacher's Insights, page 26.

2015-12-24T09:00:13+00:00December 24th, 2015|Categories: Lesson Highlights|Tags: , , , , |0 Comments

Lesson Highlight: "no room"

"And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn." (Luke 2:7)
In "Word Focus" William Sillings writes:

When Jesus was born, there was no room in the inn (kataluma — literally, lodging, inn, or guest house). The inn was likely an eastern khan which is like a series of open-ended rooms or stalls opening into a common courtyard where the animals were kept. There was no room in the khan, so it was in the common courtyard where Jesus was born. There was no privacy even at this event for this weary, wayworn family. The fact that there was no room in the inn is typical of what was to happen to Jesus all through His life. The room reserved for Him, says Barclay, was on a cross. “He sought an entry to the overcrowded hearts of men; He could not find it; and still His search — and His rejection — go on.”

Source: Miracles of Jesus: Adult Teacher's Insights, page 16.

2015-12-18T09:00:22+00:00December 18th, 2015|Categories: Lesson Highlights|Tags: , , |0 Comments


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