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Mpango wa Mungu wa Wokovu

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1 Yoh 5:11-12 Na huu ndio ushuhuda, ya kwamba Mungu alitupa uzima wa milele; na uzima huu umo katika Mwanawe. Yeye aliye naye Mwana, anao huo uzima; asiye naye Mwana wa Mungu hana huo uzima.

Mkutadha huu watwambia ya kwamba Mungu ametupa uzima wa milele; na uzima huu umo katika Mwanawe, Yesu Kristo. Katika maneno mengine, njia ya kuumiliki uzima wa milele ni kummiliki Mwana wa Mungu. Swahili ni, mtu awezaje kukuwa na Mwana wa Mungu?

Shida ya Mwanadamu

Utengano na Mungu

Isaya 59:2 Lakini maovu yenu yamewafarikisha ninyi na Mungu wenu, na dhambi zenu zimeuficha uso Wake msiuone, hata hataki kusikia maombi yenu.

Warumi 5:8 Bali Mungu aonyesha pendo Lake Yeye Mwenyewe kwetu sisi, kwa kuwa Kristo alikufa kwa ajili yetu, tulipokuwa tungali wenye dhambi.

Kulingana na Warumi 5:8, Mungu alionyesha pendo Lake kwetu sisi kwa njia ya mauti ya Mwanawe. Kwa nini ilimpasa Kristo kutufia? Kwa sababu Andiko la tangaza watu wote kuwa wafanya dhambi. Kufanya "dhambi" kuna maanisha kukosa alama. Biblia inatangaza "wote wamefanya dhambi, na kupungukiwa na utukufu (utakatifu mkamilifu) wa Mungu" (Rum. 3:23). Katika maneno mengine, dhambi zetu zatufarikisha sisi na Mungu wetu aliye utakatifu mkamilifu (haki na kweli) na kwa hivyo sharti Mungu awahukumu watenda dhambi.

Habakuki 1:13a Wewe uliye na macho safi hata usiweze kuangalia uovu, Wewe usiyeweza kutazama ukaidi; mbona unawaangalia watendao kwa hila; na kunyamaza kimya?

Matendo yetu Yasioleta Manufaa

Andiko lafundisha pia ya kwamba hakuna kiasi cha wema wa mwanadamu, matendo ya binadamu, tabia njema ya binadamu, au utendaji wa kidini uwezao kumfanya mtu akubalike na Mungu wala kumwingiza mtu mbinguni. Mtu wa kidini, na mtu mwovu na yule asiye wa kidini wote wako katika hali moja. Wote walipungukiwa na haki ya ukamilifu wa Mungu. Baada ya kujadili mtu mwovu, mtu mwadilifu, na mtu wa kidini katika Warumi 1:18-3:8, Mtume Paulo atangaza ya kwamba Wayahudi na Wayunani wote wako chini ya dhambi, ya kwamba "hakuna mwenye haki hata mmoja" (Rum. 3:9-10). Yaliyo ongezwa kwa jambo hili ni maazimio yafuatayo ya vifungu vya Maandiko:

Waefeso 2:8-9 Kwa maana mmeokolewa kwa neema, kwa njia ya imani; ambayo hiyo haikutokana na nafsi zenu, ni kipawa cha Mungu; 9 wala si kwa matendo, mtu asije akajisifu.

Tito 3:5-7 alituokoa; si kwa sababu ya matendo ya haki tuliyoyatenda sisi; bali kwa rehema Yake, kwa kuoshwa kwa kuzaliwa kwa pili na kufanywa upya na Roho Mtakatifu; 6 ambaye alitumwagia kwa wingi, kwa njia ya Yesu Kristo Mwokozi wetu; 7 ili tukihesabiwa haki kwa neema Yake, tupate kufanywa warithi wa uzima wa milele, kama lilivyo tumaini letu.

Warumi 4:1-5 Basi, tusemeje juu ya Ibrahimu, baba yetu kwa jinsi ya mwili? 2 Kwa maana ikiwa Ibrahimu alihesabiwa haki kwa ajili ya matendo yake, analo la kujisifia; (lakini si mbele za Mungu). 3 Maana Maandiko yasemaje? "Ibrahimu alimwamini Mungu, ikahesabiwa kwake kuwa haki." 4 Lakini kwa mtu afanyaye kazi, ujira wake hauhesabiwi kuwa ni neema, bali kuwa ni deni. 5 Lakini kwa mtu asiyefanya kazi, bali anamwamini Yeye ambaye amhesabia haki asiyekuwa mtauwa, imani yake mtu huyo imehesabiwa kuwa haki.

Hakuna kiasi cha wema wa binadamu ulio wema jinsi alivyo Mungu. Kwa sababu ya jambo hili, Habakuki 1:13 inatwambia Mungu hawezi kuwa na ushirika na mtu ye yote asiyekuwa na haki kamilifu. Ili tukaweze kukubalika na Mungu, sharti tuwe wema jinsi alivyo Mungu. Mbele za Mungu, sisi sote twasimama uchi, wasiojiweza, na wasio na tumaini ndani yetu. Hakuna kiasi cha kuishi kuzuri kitakacho tupeleka mbinguni wala kutupa uzima wa milele. Jawabu ni nini basi?

Utatuzi wa Mungu

Mungu si utakatifu mkamilifu tu (ambaye tabia Yake sisi hatuwezi kamwe kuifikilia kwa nafsi zetu wa kwa matendo yetu ya haki) lakini Yeye pia ni pendo kamilifu aliyejaa neema na huruma. Kwa sababu ya pendo Lake na neema, Yeye hajatuwacha sisi bila tumaini na jawabu.

Warumi 5:8 Bali Mungu aonyesha pendo Lake Yeye Mwenyewe kwetu sisi, kwa kuwa Kristo alikufa kwa ajili yetu, Tulipokuwa tungali wenye dhambi.

Hii ni habari njema ya Biblia, ujumbe wa injili. Ni ujumbe wa kipawa cha Mwana wa Mungu Mwenyewe aliyefanyika mwanadamu (Mungu-mwanadamu), akaishi maisha yasiyo ya dhambi, akafa msalabani kwa ajili yetu, naye akafufuliwa kutoka kaburini akitoa jambo ya kuwa Yeye ni Mwana wa Mungu na thamani ya mauti Yake kwa ajili yetu kama kibadala.

Warumi 1:4 aliyedhihirishwa kwa uwezo kuwa Mwana-wa-Mungu, kwa jinsi ya Roho Mtakatifu, kwa ufufuo wa wafu, Yesu Kristo Bwana wetu.

Warumi 4:25 Ambaye alitolewa kwa ajili ya makosa yetu, na kufufuliwa ili mpate kuhesabiwa haki.

2 Wakorintho 5:21 Mungu alimfanya Yeye asiyejua dhambi kuwa dhambi kwa ajili yetu, ili sisi tupate kuwa haki ya Mungu katika Yeye.

1 Petro 3:18 Kwa maana Kristo naye aliteswa mara moja kwa ajili ya dhambi, mwenye haki kwa ajili yao wasio haki, ili atulete kwa Mungu; mwili Wake akauawa, bali roho Yake akahuishwa.

Je, Twampokeaje Mwana wa Mungu?

Kwa sababu ya kile alichotimiza Yesu Kristo kwa ajili yetu pale msalabani, Biblia inaeleza "Yeye aliye na Mwana anao uzima." Twaweza kumpokea Mwana, Yesu Kristo, kama Mwokozi wetu kwa imani ya kibinafsi, kwa kutumaini katika utu wa Kristo na katika mauti Yake kwa ajili ya dhambi zetu.

Yohana 1:12 Bali wote waliompokea--wale waliaminio jina Lake--aliwapa uwezo wa kufanyika watoto wa Mungu.

Yohana 3:16-18 Kwa maana jinsi hii Mungu aliupenda ulimwengu, hata akamtoa Mwanawe pekee, ili kila mtu amwaniniye asipotee, bali awe na uzima wa milele. 17 Maana Mungu hakumtuma Mwana ulimwenguni ili auhukumu ulimwengu, bali ulimwengu uokolewe katika yeye. 18 Amwaminiye yeye hahukumiwi; asiyeamini amekwisha kuhukumiwa; kwa sababu hakuliamini jina la Mwana pekee wa Mungu.

Hili linamaanisha sharti kila mmoja wetu aje kwa Mungu kwa njia ile hasa: (1) kama mtenda dhambi afahamuye dhambi zake, (2) aziye tambua ya kwamba matendo ya binadamu yanaweza kuleta wokovu, na (3) kuegemea juu ya Kristo peke Yake kabisa kwa imani peke kwa ajili ya wokovu wetu.

Ikiwa ungependa kumtumaini na kumpokea Kristo kama Mwokozi wako wa binafsi, huenda unataka kuieleza imani yako iliyo katika Kristo kwa ombi rahisi kwa kubali uovu wako, ukikubali msamaha Wake na kuiweka imani yako katika Kristo kwa ajili ya wokovu wako.

Ikiwa wewe umetumaini katika Kristo kwa muda usio mrefu, unahitaji kujifunza kuhusu maisha yako mapya na jinsi ya kuenenda pamoja na Bwana. Labda tuna pendekeza uanze kupitia kusoma zile ABCs for Christian Growth yapatikanayo kwa http://www.bible.org. Hizi mfululizo safu utachukua moja-kwa-moja kupitia baadhi ya kweli ya msingi wa Neno la Mungu na utakusaidia wewe kwa kujenga msingi imara kwa ajili ya imani yako katika Kristo.

Related Topics: Soteriology (Salvation)

Lesson 66: We Wish to See Jesus (John 12:20-24)

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September 7, 2014

When the historic Church of the Open Door was in downtown Los Angeles, I heard that if you stood behind the pulpit you looked out into a massive auditorium consisting of a large first floor, a large balcony, and even a second balcony. Although I never stood there, I was told that it gave you a feeling of importance just to stand there and look out at the large crowd that had gathered to hear you speak. But just as your ego might begin to inflate, you quickly came down to earth when you looked down at a little plaque fixed to the pulpit with the words of John 12:21, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.”

“We didn’t come here to see you! We don’t want to be impressed with your brilliance or eloquence! We want to see Jesus!” Those are appropriate words for every preacher to remember and, for that matter, for every Christian to keep in mind. In 1 John 3:2, the apostle tells us, “We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is.” Seeing Jesus will transform us. And so, even though now we “see in a mirror dimly” (1 Cor. 13:12), our aim should be to see more and more of Jesus. As we grow to see more of His glory now, it progressively changes us into His image. As Paul says (2 Cor. 3:18): “But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.”

So the question is, how do we see Jesus and His glory now? Then, what difference will seeing Jesus and His glory make in our lives? That question is answered in John 12:25-26, which we will look at next week. But this week we want to focus on how do we see Jesus and His glory now? John 12:20-24 tells us:

To see Jesus and His glory, look to the cross.

In response to the Greeks’ request to see Jesus, He announces that the hour has now come. This is the hour of the cross. Jesus is the grain of wheat that falls into the ground and dies so that it bears much fruit (v. 24). Then Jesus applies this to us (vv. 25-26): His followers must also lose their lives even as Jesus would lose His. But, there are great rewards for those who do.

This is an interesting text for several reasons. First, it seems a bit unexpected to find Greeks in Jerusalem at this Jewish feast. These were probably Gentiles who were proselytes to Judaism. It’s also rather odd that John tells us about their request to see Jesus, but then they pass off the scene and we never learn whether their request was granted or what came of it. My guess is that Jesus granted their request, but we aren’t told. John just uses their request to turn the corner towards the cross. Philip seems rather confused by their request and talks to Andrew. Then the two of them come to Jesus with the Greeks’ request. But it’s not obvious on the surface how Jesus’ reply relates to the Greeks’ desire to see Him.

It is clear, however, that Jesus sees this request as a pivotal point in His ministry. Up till now, there has been a repeated theme in John’s Gospel that Jesus’ hour or time has not yet come. When His mother came to Jesus at the wedding in Cana and informed Him that they had run out of wine, He replied that His hour had not yet come (John 2:4). When His brothers, who were not yet believing in Him, advised Him to go to the Feast of Tabernacles and make Himself known, Jesus replied that His time was not yet here (John 7:4). Later, at that feast, when the hostile Jews tried to seize Him, they were unable to lay a hand on Him, because His hour had not come (John 7:30). When Jesus taught openly in the temple, again His enemies could not seize Him, because His hour had not yet come (John 8:20).

But now, in response to the request of these Greeks to see Him, Jesus announces (John 12:23), “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.” Why? What was the significance of these Greeks and their desire to see Jesus? The answer is that these Greeks signaled a turning point in which the Jewish people have rejected Jesus as their Savior and so now the gospel would go out to the Gentiles as well as the Jews. Salvation would now be proclaimed to the whole world.

This worldwide scope of the gospel was telegraphed in John 3:16-17, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.” We also saw it in John 4:42, when the Samaritan people told the woman who had met Jesus by the well, “It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves and know that this One is indeed the Savior of the world.” The gospel came to the Jews first, but now that they have largely rejected it, the message goes out to the whole world. (Paul develops that theme in Romans 9-11. He practiced it in Acts 13:45-46.)

John makes this point in a subtle and skillful manner. First, he contrasts the Pharisees with the Greeks (John 12:19-20). The Pharisees were the religious leaders in Israel. They should have accepted Jesus as their Messiah and Savior. But instead, they rejected Him and were seeking to kill Him. In contrast, the Greeks were seeking Him. John wants us to see that the Jews’ rejection of Jesus did not thwart God’s plan of salvation; rather, it means good news for the world (Rom. 11:15).

Also, John uses irony to report the frustrated words of the Pharisees as they saw the crowds shouting “Hosanna” as Jesus rode into Jerusalem on the donkey’s colt (John 12:19): “You see that you are not doing any good; look, the world has gone after Him.” John’s irony is, “Yes, in fact the world is going after Jesus.” He is the Savior not only of the Jews, but of all people who seek Him.

I want to draw two important truths from these verses:

1. God’s ultimate aim in history is to glorify His Son.

Jesus says (John 12:23), “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.” “Son of Man” was Jesus’ favorite way to refer to Himself. It had overtones of His deity, but undertones of His humanity (Leon Morris, The Gospel According to John [Eerdmans], p. 172). Morris says (pp. 172-173), “It was a way of alluding to and yet veiling His messiahship, for His concept of the Messiah differed markedly from that commonly held.” He adds that in John’s Gospel, “the term is always associated either with Christ’s heavenly glory or with the salvation He came to bring.”

In the last chapter, when Jesus looked ahead to raising Lazarus from the dead, He said (John 11:4), “This sickness is not to end in death, but for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified by it.” This means that to glorify the Son is tantamount to glorifying God, which was Jesus’ aim in all that He did. As we have seen (in my message on John 11:38-57, p. 2), God’s glory is His essential and intrinsic splendor. His glory is displayed in all of His attributes and works. Since God’s ultimate aim is to glorify Himself through His Son, our chief aim is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever (Westminster Shorter Catechism).

Back in John 5:22-23, Jesus made a statement that would be blasphemous on the lips of anyone who is not equal to God: “For not even the Father judges anyone, but He has given all judgment to the Son, so that all will honor the Son even as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him.” In His prayer just before going out to Gethsemane, Jesus prayed (John 17:1), “Father, the hour has come; glorify Your Son, that the Son may glorify You ….” He added (John 17:5), “Now, Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was.”

The apostle Paul repeatedly made the same point. After mentioning how Jesus humbled Himself by being obedient to death on the cross, Paul added (Phil. 2:9-11):

For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

In Ephesians 1:10, Paul said that God’s purpose is “the summing up of all things in Christ.” In Colossians 1:18, Paul said that Christ “will come to have first place in everything.” In Revelation (21:22-23), John describes the New Jerusalem:

I saw no temple in it, for the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. And the city has no need of the sun or of the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God has illumined it, and its lamp is the Lamb.

So throughout eternity we will live in the light of the glory of God and His Son, the Lamb who was slain for us! Paul sums up the application for us (1 Cor. 10:31): “Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” To state it negatively: If something doesn’t glorify God (make Him look good, as He truly is), then don’t do it. The battle begins on the thought level: Do your thoughts glorify God? Do your attitudes glorify the Savior? (Hint: Grumbling does not glorify God! Thankfulness does!) It extends to your words: Does what you say to your mate or your children glorify God? Does what you say about another person behind her back glorify God? Paul says that we shouldn’t use rotten speech that tears someone down, but only words that edify and give grace to others (Eph. 4:29). Then it flows out to our behavior: Did your actions this week glorify God? Did your actions make God look good so that others will be drawn to your Savior? Since God’s aim in history is to glorify His Son, our aim every day should be to glorify our Lord and Savior.

2. The cross reveals God’s glory in Christ.

When Jesus said (John 12:23), “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified,” He was referring to the cross. The same is true when He prayed (John 17:1), “Father, the hour has come; glorify Your Son, that the Son may glorify You ….” Jesus glorified the Father and the Father glorified Jesus through the cross. How? Here are three ways (there are many more):

A. The cross reveals Jesus’ glory by having all people come to Him alone for salvation.

G. Campbell Morgan explained (The Gospel According to John [Revell], p. 215), “Jesus said in effect, ‘These Greeks cannot see Me. There is only one way by which they may see Me, know Me, apprehend Me; and that is through the “hour” that has now come, and that is through the way of the Cross.’”

So, Jesus is the grain of wheat that falls into the ground and dies, thus producing much fruit (John 12:24). Augustine explained (cited by Morris, p. 593, note 69), “He spoke of Himself. He Himself was the grain that had to die, and be multiplied; to suffer death through the unbelief of the Jews, and to be multiplied in the faith of many nations.” A grain of wheat by itself, sitting on the shelf, remains alone. But if it falls into the ground and that outer shell “dies,” the life inside is released and produces a plant containing many grains of wheat. Through the cross, the gospel was opened to all peoples.

Jesus is the Savior for the Jews first, but also for the Gentiles (Rom. 1:16). But whether Jew or Gentile, all must come through Jesus and His substitutionary death alone. There are not many ways to God. Jesus is the only way. He said (John 14:6), “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.” Peter echoed this when he proclaimed to the Jewish leaders (Acts 4:12), “And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.”

But when these Greeks approached Philip at the feast, he seemed a bit hesitant to bring them to Jesus. We don’t know, by the way, why they went to Philip. Perhaps it was his Greek name or maybe, as John here reminds us (12:21), he was from Bethsaida of Galilee, which was near Gentile provinces. But before Philip went to Jesus with the Greeks’ request, he conferred with Andrew and then together they went to Jesus.

Probably Philip’s hesitation stemmed from Jesus’ earlier instructions to the twelve before He sent them out on a preaching tour (Matt. 10:5-6), “Do not go in the way of the Gentiles, and do not enter any city of the Samaritans; but rather go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” Jesus’ mission, in line with the Abrahamic Covenant to bless all nations through his descendants, was first to offer Himself to the Jews as their Messiah. He opened the door of salvation to the Gentiles only after Israel rejected Him. Now the gospel goes out to the nations through those who through faith are Abraham’s true spiritual children (Gal. 3:7).

In the Great Commission, just before He ascended, Jesus plainly commanded (Matt. 28:19), “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations ….” Luke (24:47) reports Jesus as telling His disciples “that repentance for forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in His name to all the nations ….” In Revelation (5:9; 7:9), John sees a great multitude in heaven from every tribe, tongue, people, and nation, whom Jesus purchased with His blood. So the cross reveals Jesus’ glory by having all people come to Him alone for salvation. There is no salvation outside of faith in Jesus’ death for our sins.

B. The cross reveals Jesus’ glory by nullifying the boastful works of sinners.

This is Paul’s argument in 1 Corinthians 1:18-31. He shows how God sets aside the so-called “wisdom” of this world and replaces it with Christ crucified. He states (1 Cor. 1:22-24), “For indeed Jews ask for signs and Greeks search for wisdom; but we preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block and to Gentiles foolishness, but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.” He goes on to show that God did not choose the Corinthians for salvation because of their wisdom or earthly status, so that no one may boast before the Lord. He sums up (1 Cor. 1:30-31): “But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption, so that, just as it is written, ‘Let him who boasts, boast in the Lord.’”

Paul has a similar argument in Galatians, where he refutes the proud claims of the Judaizers, who said that in addition to faith in Christ, people had to keep the Jewish law, especially the rite of circumcision. But if sinners can commend themselves to God on the basis of anything that they can do, then they have grounds for boasting in their good works (Gal. 6:13). But Paul concludes (Gal. 6:14), “But may it never be that I would boast, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.”

The cross means that Jesus did everything necessary for our salvation. He paid in full the debt that we owe. He satisfied God’s righteous judgment against our sins. There is nothing that we can do to qualify for heaven. All we can do is to repent and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ; but repentance and faith are His gifts, so that none can boast (Acts 11:18; Eph. 2:8-9). Thus He gets all the glory for our salvation and we get none. That’s the practical point of the doctrine of election: God gets all the glory for our salvation. If He had not chosen us, we never would have chosen Him.

C. The cross reveals Jesus’ glory by being the supreme revelation of God’s perfect love and justice.

The cross showed God’s love, not just for the Jews, but for the world (John 3:16). It reveals God’s great love for us, “in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8). John declares (1 John 4:10), “In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” Jesus didn’t love us because we were worthy. He loved us in spite of our rebellion against Him. As Charles Wesley wrote, “Amazing love, how can it be, that Thou, my God, shouldst die for me!”

But that word “propitiation” points to another aspect of God’s glory as seen in the cross: His perfect justice. God didn’t love us so much that He just said, “I’ll overlook your sins.” If He had done that, He wouldn’t be just and righteous. A judge who dismissed murderers and rapists with no penalty would not be just. The requirement of the law must be upheld. So God’s gracious solution was to send His Son as the propitiation (a sacrifice that satisfies God’s wrath) for our sins. Hebrews 2:17 says that Jesus had to share our human nature “so that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.” So at the cross Jesus bore the wrath of God on behalf of all whom the Father gave to Him.

Leon Morris (The Apostolic Preaching of the Cross [Eerdmans], p. 211) sums up an exhaustive study of the Greek words for “propitiation:” “Thus the use of the concept of propitiation witnesses to two great realities, the one, the reality and the seriousness of the divine reaction against sin, and the other, the reality and the greatness of the divine love which provided the gift which should avert the wrath from men.” The cross shows Jesus’ glory by being the supreme revelation of God’s perfect love and justice. If you have not fled to the cross for mercy, you’re still under God’s terrible wrath (John 3:36). But God invites all sinners to come to Jesus and be saved (Rom. 10:12-13).

Thus, God’s ultimate aim in history is to glorify His Son. The cross reveals God’s glory in Christ by having all people come to Him alone for salvation; by nullifying the boastful works of sinners; and by displaying God’s perfect love and justice. If I had time, I could develop the point that the cross reveals Jesus’ glory by bearing much fruit through His death, as John 12:24 shows. As Jesus said (John 6:39), “This is the will of Him who sent Me, that of all that He has given Me I lose nothing, but raise it up on the last day.” He did not shed His blood in vain, hoping that some might be saved. He shed His blood effectually to save all whom the Father had given Him.

Conclusion

So to see Jesus and His glory, you don’t need to have a mystical vision. Rather, look to the cross. The cross reveals Jesus’ glory. Ask God to open your eyes to the glory of Christ and Him crucified! Meditate often on the cross. It will humble your pride, which is your biggest impediment to loving God and loving others. It will stir your heart with love and worship for the Savior, who gave Himself for you when you were a sinful rebel. It will give you compassion and hope for the lost, who can be saved by looking in faith to Jesus as the substitute for their sins. And, as we’ll see in our next study (of John 12:25-26), seeing Jesus’ glory in the cross will transform you so that others will see Him through you.

Application Questions

  1. What practical applications stem from understanding that the gospel is primarily about God’s glory in Christ, not about us? (See God’s Passion for His Glory, by John Piper.)
  2. Many would argue that to say that Jesus is the only way to God is intolerant and arrogant. How would you answer them?
  3. Why is it important to understand that repentance and saving faith are God’s gifts? What Scriptures support this? What errors result if this is denied?
  4. An unbeliever tells you, “When someone wrongs me, I just forgive him. Why can’t God just forgive us without killing His Son?” How would you reply?

Copyright, Steven J. Cole, 2014, All Rights Reserved.

Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture Quotations are from the New American Standard Bible, Updated Edition © The Lockman Foundation

Related Topics: Glory, Soteriology (Salvation)

Lesson 67: Why You Should Hate Your Life (John 12:24-26)

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September 21, 2014

If I wanted to preach a sermon that appeals to a wide audience, I probably should come up with a different title than, “Why You Should Hate Your Life.” For one thing, it’s a downer. It’s not a happy title. There’s already enough doom and gloom in this world, so why preach a sermon about hating your life? For another thing, not many people wonder about, “How can I hate my life?” It doesn’t help build self-esteem and we all know that building our self-esteem should be one of our main goals in the Christian life, don’t we? (In case you can’t tell, I was being facetious!)

But here’s why I think “Why You Should Hate Your Life” is a good title for a sermon: Because Jesus said that we should do it! And it’s not something that you will fall into naturally without thought or effort. To do it, you’ve got to think carefully about what it means and work at it daily. It’s not a “do it once and you’re done” kind of thing. Also, Jesus said that if I hate my life in this world, I will keep it to life eternal. So this isn’t just some self-help advice about how to have your best life now. It’s about your eternal destiny! So we need to be clear on what Jesus meant and how we should apply it!

We shouldn’t brush aside any of Jesus’ teachings, but when He repeats a message often, we really need to pay attention. He gives us a “heads up” when He begins (12:24) with, “Truly, truly ….” That means, “Wake up! Don’t miss this! Think carefully about this because it’s important!” He proceeds to talk about Himself—He is the grain of wheat that dies so that it will bear much fruit. But in that, Jesus is also our example. We are to die to ourselves so that we bear much fruit. Then He applies it directly to us in verse 25 in the form of a paradox, followed by a motivational promise as to why we should do this (verse 26).

Jesus taught the same truth with slight variations in Matthew 10:37-39; 16:24-27; Mark 8:34-38; Luke 9:23-26; 14:27; & 17:33. To cite Mark 8:34-38:

And He summoned the crowd with His disciples, and said to them, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it. For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul? For what will a man give in exchange for his soul? For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will also be ashamed of him when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels.”

Jesus’ words apply to everyone who wants to follow Him. He assumes that we all want to save our lives. But He tells us that the way to save our lives is to lose them for His sake and the gospel’s. And, He’s talking about saving or losing our lives eternally, as the comment about coming “in the glory of His Father with the holy angels” shows. So it’s vitally important to understand and apply Jesus’ words in our text. The message is:

You should hate your life in this world because you want to follow Jesus, serve Him, and be with Him forever.

We see: The servant’s model: Jesus (12:24); the servant’s mandate: to hate our lives in this world (12:25); and, the servant’s motivation: to be with Jesus and to be honored by the Father (12:26).

1. The servant’s model: By laying down His life on the cross, Jesus bore much fruit (12:24).

Jesus said (John 12:24), “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.” Jesus was referring to the cross. He is the grain of wheat that fell into the ground, died, and bore much fruit. By giving His life as a ransom for many, Jesus “brought many sons to glory” (Mark 10:45; Heb. 2:10). He bore much fruit.

We can never imitate Jesus in His substitutionary death for the sins of others. His death was unique because Jesus is unique. He is the only God-man. He is the eternal Word made flesh, who came as the Lamb of God to take away the sins of the world (John 1:14, 29). Only Jesus could do that.

But in another sense, His death was an example for us all. During His short ministry on earth, Jesus was constantly dying to Himself as He loved others. We see a graphic example of that in John 13, where Jesus took a towel and a basin of water to wash the disciples’ feet. That was the job of a servant. But Jesus did it as an example of how we are to lay aside our lives to serve one another (John 13:15). The culmination of Jesus’ dying to Himself was when He literally laid down His life on the cross for us. That’s how He bore much fruit. When we follow Him by daily dying to ourselves to serve others, we will bear much fruit, and so prove ourselves to be His disciples (John 15:8). Jesus applies His example to us in verse 25:

2. The servant’s mandate: To follow Jesus, you must hate, not love, your life in this world (12:25).

John 12:25: “He who loves his life loses it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it to life eternal.” In the Greek text, the first two words translated “life” are psyche, which is often translated “soul.” The last “life” comes from zoe, which refers to the eternal life that God gives. Jesus assumes that we all want to keep our souls (or lives) to life eternal. But here’s the paradox: the way to keep your life is to hate it. The way to lose it is to love it. Also, this isn’t just aimed at the dedicated few who want to go to the mission field or become martyrs for the sake of the gospel. This is a mandate for all who follow Jesus (Mark 8:34). All that follow Him are in the daily process of hating their lives in this world. They are the ones who keep their lives eternally.

So, what does it mean to “love your life in this world” and “to hate your life in this world”? Let’s look at both sides of it:

A. To follow Jesus, you must not love your life in this world.

Note three things about loving your life in this world:

1) Loving your life in this world means living with this life only in view.

That’s what Jesus means by “in this world.” It’s to live as if this world is all there is, so get all the gusto you can now. It’s to live for “your best life now.” That’s the stupidest title for a supposedly Christian book that I’ve ever heard of! Did Jesus enjoy His best life now as He endured the hostility of sinners against Him and went to cross in His early thirties? Did Paul enjoy his best life now as he suffered beatings, imprisonments, a stoning, shipwrecks, and frequent dangers for the sake of the gospel (2 Cor. 11:23-27)? Did any of the martyrs enjoy their best life now as they had their heads cut off or their bodies burned at the stake? If that book is telling you how to have your best life now by laying it down for the sake of Jesus and the gospel, “Amen!” But if it’s telling you how you can have health and wealth and a comfortable lifestyle now, then it’s completely opposed to Jesus’ teaching!

Jesus told about a man who was enjoying his best life now. He said to his soul (Luke 12:19), “Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years to come; take your ease, eat, drink, and be merry.” But God said to him (Luke 12:20), “You fool! This very night your soul is required of you; and now who will own what you have prepared?” Jesus concluded (Luke 12:21), “So is the man who stores up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.”

Those in the world live as if this life is all that there is. Their aim in life is to accumulate as much money and stuff as they think will make them happy. Their motto is, “He who dies with the most toys wins!” But Jesus says, “He loses.”

2) Loving your life in this world means living for the same things people in the world live for.

What do people without Christ in this world live for? John tells us (1 John 2:15-17):

Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever.

If greed and accumulating this world’s stuff is a temptation for you (as it is for me), I urge you to memorize those verses and rehearse them often in your mind! The merchants of this world bombard us daily with the message, “To be happy, you need the stuff that I’m selling. Buy this stuff and you’ll be happy!” I’ll be honest: I like a lot of the stuff they’re selling. And, some of it does make life more comfortable and easy to navigate. I’m thankful for computers and the Internet, which make preparing my sermons and making them available worldwide much easier. They have many other wonderful features. I’m sure that someday I’ll join the rest of the world in getting a smart phone and once I learn how to use it, I’ll like the way it makes life easier. The same can be said for many other things in the world. But, I’ve got to be on guard against loving those things. If I love those things as opposed to doing the will of God, John says, the love of the Father is not in me.

3) Loving your life in this world is the sure way to lose it.

John 12:25a: “He who loves his life loses it….” That’s the same thing as Mark 8:35a, “For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it,” which is the same as, “to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul” (Mark 8:36). Let me put it nicely: People are crazy! A story that I’ve used many times in funeral messages illustrates why:

In 1981, a man was flown into the remote Alaskan wilderness to photograph the natural beauty of the tundra. He had photo equipment, 500 rolls of film, several firearms, and 1,400 pounds of provisions. As the months passed, the entries in his diary, which at first detailed the wonder and fascination with the wildlife around him, turned into a pathetic record of a nightmare. In August he wrote, “I think I should have used more foresight about arranging my departure. I’ll soon find out.”

He waited and waited, but no one came to his rescue. In November he died in a nameless valley, by a nameless lake, 225 miles northeast of Fairbanks. An investigation revealed that he had care-fully provided for his adventure, but he had made no provision to be flown out of the area.

That was a bit shortsighted, wasn’t it? And yet, how many people live their lives without making any plans for their departure to face eternity? The statistics on death are quite impressive! You know for certain that you will be departing. And you know that you won’t be taking any of your stuff with you when you go. I read about a rich guy once who was buried in his Cadillac. But he’s not driving it now! As they say, you never see a hearse towing a U-Haul!

So why don’t more people—including the Lord’s people—think more seriously about Jesus’ words (John 12:25a): “He who loves his life loses it…”? Our goals, our desires, the way we spend our money and our lives, should not be focused on this life only. Loving your life in this world is the sure way to lose it. Let’s look at the flip side:

B. To follow Jesus, you must hate your life in this world.

You ask, “Am I supposed to become a monk, take a vow of poverty, wear hair shirts, have no contact with the outside world, and spend hours singing Gregorian chants?” Is it wrong to enjoy life? What does it mean to hate my life in this world?

To “hate” our lives (John 12:25) is the same thing as denying ourselves and taking up our cross daily to follow Jesus (Luke 9:23). It means that we must daily repudiate a self-centered life. It means living for God’s glory and His purpose by submitting every thought, word, and deed to the lordship of Jesus. It means moment by moment seeking to love God and love others for Jesus’ sake by saying no to my inherent selfishness and pride. Here are two things to consider about hating your life in this world:

1) Hating your life in this world is not the way to gain eternal life, but rather a characteristic of all who have eternal life.

When Jesus says (John 12:25b), “he who hates his life in this world will keep it to life eternal,” He is not describing how to obtain eternal life, unless we understand hating our life in this world to mean denying all trust in our own good works and trusting in Christ alone for salvation. But I think rather by “hating his life,” Jesus is referring to the daily, lifelong process of dying to self as we live for Him. That process is characteristic of all who have truly trusted in Christ for salvation. If you’re not engaging in the daily battle of fighting your own selfishness and pride, you may need to ask, “Have I truly repented of my sins and trusted in Christ as my Savior and Lord?”

2) Hating your life in this world means dying to selfishness in order to love others for Jesus’ sake.

“Hating your life in this world” is the same thing as “taking up your cross daily” to follow Jesus (Luke 9:23). Many Christians think that to bear their cross means putting up with a difficult mate or with a painful malady, like arthritis or back pain. But taking up your cross is not an unavoidable trial that you must endure. Jesus says that it is a daily activity that you choose to embrace. In Jesus’ day, the cross wasn’t an implement of irritation, inconvenience, or even suffering. The cross was an instrument of tortuous, slow execution. Jesus’ hearers knew that a man who took up his cross was, for all practical purposes, a dead man. A man bearing his cross gave up all hope and interest in the things of this world, including self-fulfillment. He knew that in a very short time he would be leaving this world. He was dead to self.

Taking up your cross or hating your life in this world is not something you achieve in an emotional moment of spiritual ecstasy or dedication. You never arrive on a spiritual mountaintop where you can sigh with relief, “I’m finally there! No more death to self!” Nor are there any shortcuts or quick fixes to this painful process. The need to hate my life or die to self is never finished in this life; it is a daily battle. A. T. Pierson said, “Getting rid of the ‘self-life’ is like peeling an onion: layer upon layer—and a tearful process!”

Jesus’ death on the cross was the supreme act of love in human history. While, as I said, we can’t die to pay for others’ sins, to the extent that we follow Jesus’ example by dying to our own selfishness for the sake of others’ ultimate good, we are imitating His example of love. In other words, self-sacrifice for others’ highest good is the essence of biblical love. In Ephesians 5:2, Paul exhorts, “Walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma.” Later he applies it to husbands (Eph. 5:25), “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her….” Love is a self-sacrificing commitment that seeks the highest good of the one loved. And love is the supreme mark of the Christian, the first fruit of the Holy Spirit (John 13:35; Gal. 5:22).

I’m a husband and I see a lot of Christian husbands who fail to apply this on a daily basis with their wives, so I’m going to talk about that for a moment. If you’re in a different role, it applies to you, so you can adapt the application for your situation. But I see a lot of husbands who think that being the head of their homes means being the king of their homes. And kings don’t serve others. Kings are served by others. So they don’t serve their wives and kids; they expect their wives and kids to serve them. If they want to do something, they do it without a thought about how it may affect their wife and kids. If they want to buy a new toy, they buy it without talking to their wife about her needs. In other words, they’re living selfishly. They’re not hating their lives in order to love others for Jesus’ sake. But hating your life in this world means dying to selfishness in order to love others for Jesus’ sake.

Maybe by this point you’re wondering, “Why would I want to die to myself and live for Christ and others?” That leads to:

3. The servant’s motivation: If we serve Jesus and follow Him, we’ll bear much fruit, we’ll be with Him forever, and the Father will honor us (12:26).

John 12:26: “If anyone serves Me, he must follow Me; and where I am, there My servant will be also; if anyone serves Me, the Father will honor him.” Two brief comments:

A. To serve Jesus, you must follow Him with the goal of bearing much fruit.

Jesus assumes that all His people will serve Him. And all who serve Him must follow Him. This means obeying His teachings and commandments, of course. But in the context, it especially means following Him by dying to self so that we might, like Jesus, bear much fruit. As He will tell the disciples (John 15:16), He chose them so that they would bear fruit. If the Lord has chosen you, then that’s your purpose. Fruit refers to all character qualities, behavior, and service that He produces in and through us as we abide in Him. Then comes the motivation:

B. If we serve and follow Jesus, we will be with Him forever and the Father will honor us.

Jesus here doesn’t say that He will be with us, although that is true (Matt. 28:20). Rather, He says that we will be with Him. In John 14:3, He promises, “If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also.” “Where I am” refers to heaven. To be with Jesus in heaven throughout eternity is more than sufficient reward for all of the trials and persecution that we may go through in this life! And on top of that, Jesus promises that the Father will honor us! I’m sure that we can’t imagine what that entails, but all the honors that this world can give will pale by comparison to the honor that the Father will give to those who have faithfully served His Son.

Conclusion

One writer (Luccock, cited by Ralph Earle, The Gospel According to Mark [Zondervan], p. 108) observes that a mummy is the best preserved thing in human history. If you want to make yourself a spiritual mummy, then try to preserve your life. Jesus says, “You’ll die alone.” But if you die to self for Jesus’ sake, you’ll bear much fruit. So why should you hate your life in this world? Because you want to follow Jesus and be like Him. You want to serve Him and be with Him forever. Remember the famous words of missionary martyr Jim Elliot: “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.”

Application Questions

  1. Discuss: If you die to self to serve others, won’t you become a doormat who gets used by others? When is it okay to say no?
  2. Does hating your life in this world mean that it’s wrong to have fun and enjoy life? Support your answer from Scripture.
  3. What are some practical ways that you can serve your family (or roommates if you’re not living at home)?
  4. To what extent should Christians be motivated by eternal rewards? Can the rewards motivation taint us? Cite Scripture.

Copyright, Steven J. Cole, 2014, All Rights Reserved.

Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture Quotations are from the New American Standard Bible, Updated Edition © The Lockman Foundation

Related Topics: Christian Life, Discipleship, Spiritual Life

5. Why We Should Pursue Faithfulness (1 Corinthians 4:1-21)

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1 Corinthians (part five)

The more I read the Bible, the higher I elevate the importance of our faithfulness. It summarizes our job description on earth. The measuring stick God uses to evaluate the quality of our lives seems to have the word "faithfulness" inscribed on it. Certainly, faithfulness to God is not impressive in the eyes of the world. It may not look like success to those who don't know Christ; they may even criticize us for doing the things that God praises. But we have one ultimate, objective Judge who knows our hearts and our motives in addition to our actions. If you're around me much, you're going to hear this notion of faithfulness repeated over and over again. Be faithful, trust God for the results, and invite others to a life of faithfulness.

Related Topics: Christian Life, Spiritual Life

Issue 019. 2014 October Bible.org Translator's Newsletter

Thank You!

This last few months has resulted in 16 new translated articles being added to the site. We have added our main salvation article into two more languages (Hindi and Swahili), and are always appreciative of the gospel being made available to more people. Please pray that God uses it in the spread of His kingdom. Thank you for your hard work, Mariza, Jenny, Roma, and David!

What a blessing to be able to provide these new resources to our readers around the world. Thank you all for your ongoing translation work. See the Languages and Articles Here.

Hints and Tips

Tip: Want to double-check a hard section to translate? Want to know more about the way a word or phrase has been translated by others in other real translations?

Linguee (http://www.linguee.com/) has an interesting resource that I highly recommend you check out. It is not a “machine translation” like Google Translate, but it provides some translation suggestions on the left hand side of the screen while giving similar real translations for comparison in the main body of the results page. This could be an interesting tool for providing further background information on the translation of phrases that are challenging for you—in complement with traditional dictionary resources and discussion with other individuals. Currently it is available with 25 languages.

Hopefully this will be a helpful resource to you as you work on accurately translating these important messages about God’s Word!

Learn More Tips from our FAQ Section.

Awarding Faithfulness

This time we had the joy of giving out two awards for translation efforts. The first award went to Mariza for having reached the 85 article milestone. She received an ePub version of the book The Hospitality Commands by Alexander Strauch. The second award was to David for his first translation with us. He received an ePub version of the NET Bible with Full Notes. We pray that these resources are a blessing to you in your personal lives and ministry.

For further Award program details see our Awarding Faithfulness article

Know someone else who is bilingual?

If you know of anyone else who would have the time and skills to translate articles for Bible.org please consider recommending this ministry to them. Sometimes the most obvious gifts (like preaching or being a leader) are not the ones with the most impact or need. This is a real opportunity to meet a need and impact thousands and thousands of people with the truth of God’s Word. Click here to contact us and begin impacting thousands around the world

Need help, have questions, or prefer to meet in real time?

I am available and would love to answer any questions you might have. We do have a Frequently Asked Questions section on our Translation Series page, but you can always send me an email! I can also be available through Skype for a voice or chat conversation. Simply let me know through email that you would like to talk and we will get it worked out.

I look forward to hearing from you!

Click here to email us

Related Topics: Administrative and Organization

A Time for Training Wheels: Family Devotions for Three to Seven Year Olds

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As children mount their two-wheelers for the first time the eagerness and excitement of success can be seen in their glowing eyes and cocky smiles. But it only takes one spill for them to realize they are going to need some help and support to make this an enjoyable adventure. This is when training wheels become useful.

Family devotions can be like bike riding. God’s Word is an adventure waiting to be explored, but for many it can be overwhelming and difficult. A Time for Training Wheels will give you the support, ideas, direction and creative flair to make family devotions a successful adventure.

Illustrated by Jon Smail

To download a PDF or Word document version of this book click on the downloads in the Related Media Block.

Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version® NIV® Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.

Related Topics: Bible Literacy, Children's Curriculum, Children's Training Resources, Parent Resources, Christian Education, Christian Home, Devotionals, Parenting

Introduction

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Illustrated by Jon Smail

Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version® NIV® Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.

Dedicated

To the McRae family who provided a platform from which I was free to spread my wings and soar.

To my loving husband Bob whose enthusiasm, involvement and support make our family devotions into memorable events.

To April, Tiffany and Chanelle who are my precious treasures and my inspiration for it in the first place!

Table Of Contents

Section I: What We Can Do For God

1. Making Music To God

2. Pleasing God In What We

3. Learning To Talk To God

4. Learning To Obey God

5. Learning To Listen To God

Section II: Fruit Of The Spirit

1. Love (Valentine’s Day)

2. Joy

3. Peace

4. Patience

5. Kindness

6. Goodness

7. Faithfulness

8. Gentleness

9. Self Control

Section III: Old Testament Stories

1. Creation

2. Tower Of Babel

3. Lot’s Escape

4. Joseph

5. Baby Moses

6. Moses The Leader

7. Jericho

8. Gideon

9. Ruth

10. David

11. Elijah

12. Esther

13. Daniel And The Lion’s Den

14. Jonah

Section IV: Devotions For Outdoors

1. Cloud Gazing

2. Bouquet

3. Nature’s Collage

4. Rock Cracking

5. God Provides Through Growing Things

6. Colors In Nature

Section V: Getting To Know Jesus

1. Jesus Is King

2. Jesus Is Perfect

3. Jesus Is Our Best Friend

4. Jesus Is To Be Obeyed

5. Jesus Is Caring

6. Jesus Is Our Savior

7. Jesus Is To Be Remembered

8. Jesus Is Always With Us

Section VI: Devotions For The Car

1. Bible Stories In A Round

2. God’s Character

3. God In Nature

4. Sing-A-Long

5. Twenty Questions

Section VII: Devotions For Special Occasions

1. Easter

2. May Day

3. Father’s Day (Card For A King)

4. Thanksgiving

5. Christmas

Weekly Devotions For A Year

If you start this in January you will find that the devotionals for special occasions will fall around the date for the celebration.

1. Making Music to God

27. David

2. Pleasing God in What We Do

28. Elijah

3. Learning to Talk to God

29. Esther

4. Learning to Obey God

30. Daniel and the Lions Den

5. Learning to Listen to God

31. Jonah

6. Love (Valentines Day)

32. Cloud Gazing

7. Joy

33. Bouquet

8. Peace

34. Natures Collage

9. Patience

35. Rock Cracking

10. Kindness

36. God Provides Through Growing Things

11. Goodness

37. Colors in Nature

12. Faithfulness

38. Jesus is King

13. Easter

39. Jesus is Perfect

14. Gentleness

40. Jesus is Our Best Friend

15. Self Control

41. Jesus Is to Be Obeyed

16. Creation

42. Jesus is Caring

17. Tower of Babel

43. Jesus is Our Savior

18. May Day

44. Jesus is to Be Remembered

19. Lots Escape

45. Jesus is Always With Us

20. Joseph

46. Thanksgiving

21. Baby Moses

47. Bible Stories in a Round

22. Moses the Leader

48. Gods Character

23. Jericho

49. God in Nature

24. Card for a King (Fathers Day)

50. Sing-A-Long

25. Gideon

51. Twenty Questions

26. Ruth

52. Christmas

Making The Most Of A Time For Training Wheels

As children mount their two-wheelers for the first time the eagerness and excitement of success can be seen in their glowing eyes and cocky smiles. But it only takes one spill for them to realize they are going to need some help and support to make this an enjoyable adventure. This is when training wheels become useful.

Family devotions can be like bike riding. God’s Word is an adventure waiting to be explored, but for many it can be overwhelming and difficult. A Time for Training Wheels will give you the support, ideas, direction and creative flair to make family devotions a successful adventure.

Can Family Devotions Happen Successfully?

The unequivocal answer is “yes’” Solomon wrote in Proverbs 22:6 “Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.” The challenge is to do this training in a creative way so we keep our children’s attention. A Time for Training Wheels meets this need. For us, family devotional nights are greeted with three cheers as together my husband and I enjoy ‘‘training our children in the way they should go.”

How Can I Make This Book Work For Our Family?

  • Keep the devotional moving. Don’t get stuck on details. Each devotional should range from 10 to 20 minutes.
  • Adapt the devotional to your setting and to your children’s attention span.
  • Do as much of the devotional as is practical for your children at their stage, needs and interest.
  • Review each upcoming devotional at least the day before so you are able to prepare without pressure.
  • Although the lessons can be applied to all, remember, this is a time for the children to learn and enjoy God’s Word.

Do I Have To Do Them All?

This book can be used in a variety of ways:

  • Take one series a year, spaced evenly throughout the 12 months. For example, the Fruit of the Spirit series has nine lessons, one of which can be done every six weeks.
  • Do only the devotionals that are designated for Special Days. These can be done before, on or after the holiday being celebrated.
  • Use this book on family vacations, allowing each person to choose the one that looks most interesting.
  • Do 1 devotional a week (there are a total of 52 in A Time for Training Wheels).

It is my prayer that you will grow as a family and deepen in your love for our God as you begin this great adventure together.

Mary-Lynn Chambers

1. Making Music To God

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Materials Needed

  • paper plates
  • stapler
  • macaroni or rice
  • empty tins with plastic snap-on lids
  • construction paper
  • glue
  • markers or crayons

Setting The Stage

In Psalm 92:1-3 we see the Psalmist praising God, making music and proclaiming with musical instruments. We need to learn to do as the Psalmist did. Note: In the upcoming months these new musical instruments can be saved and used during family devotional times to add to the singing experience.

Project

The Homemade Way

  • Take the paper plates and fill them with the dried macaroni using a stapler or glue to seal the two plates together securely. Make sure the staples are side by side so no macaroni escapes. Use the markers to decorate the plates.
  • Fill an empty tin with dried macaroni or rice and cover it with a snap-on plastic lid (coffee tins or potato chip cans work well for this). Secure the lid by taping it in place. Glue the construction paper to the outside of the tin. Using your imaginations decorate the tins so they look great and the children will be eager to use them in the future. Note: Make sure nothing will rub off on the children’s hands while they are grasping and shaking the instruments.

The Professional Way

  • Go to a department store, flee market, garage sale or music store as a family. While on the drive or walk, discuss how God enjoys music. Talk about favorite songs you could sing to God. Point out how musical instruments can help make singing fun and interesting. Take time to decide what type of instruments you would like to buy. On the drive home try out your new instruments while singing praise songs to God.

Songs

This Little Light of Mine

I Will Make You Fishers of Men

Jesus Loves Me

Memory Verse

Ps.92:1
It is good to praise the LORD and make music to your name, O Most High.

Related Topics: Children's Training Resources, Parent Resources, Christian Education, Christian Home, Devotionals, Worship

2. Pleasing God In What We Do

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Materials Needed

  • 2’ x 2’ piece of paper (can be the back of a sheet of wrapping paper or a run of computer paper taped together to form a large square) OR one sheet of paper per person
  • vanilla pudding (chocolate pudding if you do not have any food coloring)
  • two or three different colors of food coloring
  • two or three large, shallow containers (for example, a cake pan)
  • brightly colored markers

Setting The Stage

There are many ways we can please God with our bodies. Ask your children how this can be possible. Direct their answers and help them understand that we can use our mouths to encourage, hands to help, smiles to make sad people feel better, ears to listen to what our parents are saying, etc. Encourage them to think of other ways while you work on this project.

Project

1. Make the vanilla pudding (can be prepared ahead of time). Divide pudding equally and place each part in a separate large, shallow container. Add a different food coloring to each container until the desired color is achieved. The more variety in color the better. Set the containers by the large piece of paper.

2. Have the children dip their hands and feet into the different containers and place them on the paper, leaving behind a colorful hand or foot print. Try to leave space between each print for writing.

3. After all of the prints have been made, ask the children to think of something specific they could do with their hands or feet that would make God happy.

Examples:

Helping mommy by cleaning up my room (hands)

Coming quickly when I am called (feet)

4. Write the specific actions in brightly colored markers beside the prints, one appropriate action for each hand or foot print.

5. When the pudding is dry, hang the finished product on the fridge or wall as a reminder for the rest of the week of what we can do to please God.

Song

Head and Shoulders

(use original tune or Mary had a Little Lamb”)

Head and shoulders, knees and toes, knees and toes, knees and toes
Head and shoulders, knees and toes - (shout) “All For Jesus!”

As you are singing the parts of the body touch each particular part and finish the song by raising your hands and shouting “All for Jesus!”

Prayer

Each person can ask God to help him or her do one of the actions he or she wrote down.

Memory Verse

Proverbs 31:20
She opens her arms to the poor and extends her hands to the needy.

Related Topics: Children's Curriculum, Children's Training Resources, Parent Resources, Christian Education, Christian Home, Devotionals

3. Learning To Talk To God

Related Media

Materials Needed

  • five small brown paper bags or dark plastic bags (they need to be nontransparent)
  • five small items made by God. Examples: piece of fruit, plastic or real flower, Bible, stuffed animal, rock or shell.
  • children’s book on prayer or a storybook where someone had to pray
  • large piece of paper (2’ x 2’) (smaller sheets may be taped together)
  • masking tape
  • markers or crayons

Setting The Stage

There are many reasons for prayer. We often spend time in prayer only when we have a request. This devotional will help your children appreciate thanking God in prayer. Before you start, you will need to acquire a children’s book involving prayer, assemble the mystery bags, each containing one item made by God, and tape the large piece of paper to the wall.

Project

  • Read the book on prayer. If you don’t have one you can purchase one at any Christian bookstore or check one out of your church library. If neither of these options are available to you, read Matthew 14:23. Discuss the prayer of the person in the story or the content of Jesus’ prayer on the mountainside.
  • Have the 2’ x 2’ sheet of paper taped to the wall. Let each child draw a picture that depicts details from the prayer in the story just read. Encourage the reluctant and inexperienced drawers to try as well. Once the picture is drawn, let the child describe it to you.
  • With the filled mystery bags set off to the side have each person sit down. Pass the bags around and let each child feel the outside and then guess what is inside. Once the guessing is done, remove the items and ask the children what all of the items have in common. The answer is that God made them. Point out how we need to thank God for making them and that thanksgiving is part of prayer.

Prayer

Let each person pick one of the items from the bags and say a simple thank you to God for making that item.

Memory Verse

Luke 11:1b
Lord teach us to pray

Related Topics: Children's Training Resources, Parent Resources, Christian Education, Christian Home, Devotionals, Prayer

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