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Only Jesus

Sunday Lesson Notes from 5-15-2022

Read Matthew 4:1-11

  • Satan tempted Jesus with a promise that he would give Jesus all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor  if he worshiped Satan. Why would this be a temptation for Jesus?
    • Perhaps because Jesus would not have to go through the pain of dying for the world’s reconciliation to God. Afterall, he would “be in charge” of all the kingdoms in one second and then he could force the world to obey him and “his job on earth would be completed”.
    • Jesus was fully human, so it could have been a temptation to desire power and to be in control of all the “man-made” kingdoms for his own benefit.
  • Why was this temptation flawed?
    • Satan was offering something to Jesus that Jesus already owned! Jesus was already the King of all the earth, everything was made for him at the beginning of time.
    • Satan was offering all the worldly glory-which is really a big joke- since everyone knows everything made by humans eventually gets old, rots or becomes irrelevant with time. The world changes and is not consistent or reliable.
  • Why was Jesus able to overcome this temptation?
    • Satan was tempting Jesus to use worldly kingdoms for his own benefit, which is the complete opposite of who Jesus was
    • Jesus was here solely to do God’s will, and God’s will was to serve all the kingdoms as God had asked him to do
    • Jesus knew being in charge in this way was not what God asked him to do, it went against God’s will
    • Jesus had no desire to outdo God, he already was lifted up by God
    • The way Jesus wanted to rule the world is completely opposite to what earthly kings were doing. Jesus came to serve the people, not for the people to serve him
  • What is God’s reasoning for setting up his plan of salvation for humanity in this way (Jesus dying for our sins as the ultimate sacrifice)?
    • God wants a personal relationship with each one of us and therefore paid a high price for our personal salvation and furthermore gives us a choice to take it or not
    • When humans have a free choice in a matter, this allows room for relationship as opposed to just following rules and meeting obligations. God is not into ruling over us or forcing us to make a choice to respond in favor of seeking a relationship with God, he wants us to come to him willingly
    • When Jesus refused to obtain all the kingdoms of the earth as a “gift” from Satan, he reinforced God’s love for us and willingness to give us freedom to choose GOD’s way as the way we would live our lives.
    • When humans are forced to follow rules or follow a structure, there is little room for heart and self motivation to keep us engaged. 
    • It is so easy for us to seek our own plans and ignore God’s plans for our lives. But when we feel like God is personally invested in us and gives us the freedom to live the way of our choosing, then the motivation to do what is right comes out of pure love for God.
    • It was terribly “inefficient” to build a kingdom by influencing one person at a time. Jesus spent 3 yrs of his life building his kingdom through building  relationships with 12 guys. Yet, 2000 years later, his words are being proclaimed throughout the world as these guys spoke to others about their personal interactions with Jesus. 
    • Jesus did God’s will and did not seek out a more efficient way or an easier way or his own way to spread God’s message. Therefore, we could confidently say, it is very likely that those who are responding favorably to God’s scriptures are more than likely doing so willingly and are gaining  a personal connection to God.

What is the “Gospel or the Good News” of Jesus?

Read 1 Corinthians 15:1-28

  • The Good News of Jesus or the Gospel is that Jesus came to the earth, died for our sins, was buried and was raised up on the third day to life. Additionally, Jesus ascended into heaven, was exalted and sits at the right hand of God. 
  • The Gospel is really about what Jesus has done, not about our actions or response to this good news. We are saved because of this good news. 
  • The Good News is part of the bigger story of God wanting us to return to ruling the earth with him as was originally intended in the Garden of Eden. Jesus’s sacrifice has allowed us to return to having a relationship with God, which is the culmination of the creation story.
  • Because of Jesus’s sacrifice: we have forgiveness of our sins, we have a promise of heaven and  we can share this good news with others, to help them reconcile their relationship with God

Read Philippians 2:3-11

  • Paul reminds us here that Jesus coming to the earth and dying for our sins and being resurrected and ascended to be with God is the true Good News or Gospel.
  • God exalted Jesus after death because of his humility and willingness to die as a sacrifice for all humanity thus allowing us to regain our relationship with God that we lost in the Garden of Eden when we chose to disobey God. 

Read Acts 3: 11-26

  • Peter reminds us here again that the Good News is that Jesus came to the earth, died for our sins and was raised from the dead by God. God resurrected Jesus from the dead and exalted him to sit at his right hand.  Peter reminds us that our response to the Good News should be repentance and turning to God: this means changing our minds and our actions should demonstrate this
  • When we teach others the Good News of Jesus, they should be called to respond to this fact with repentance: which involves changing of the heart and mind to be in alignment with God’s will and actions should follow.
  • Humans are created as images of God. Our intended role given by God,  is to rule over creation as God has asked from Genesis in the Garden of Eden. We are supposed to be taking care of every living thing on the earth-people, plants, animals. God has already installed in each human how to care, nurture, love, serve and encourage others. 
  • Jesus walked on the earth, lived a full life and experienced temptation just like everyone else, and did not give into the temptation. As humans, the ultimate temptation is to put ourselves above God  and disobey his will. But Jesus was an example of how to humble ourselves and obey God and yield to his will. 

Read Romans 6:1-14

  • When we get baptized into Jesus, we are participating in the “death, burial and resurrection of Jesus”. When we are raised up out of the waters of baptism, we are raised to a new life so that we can live for God. We are “reliving” the Good News during our baptism into Jesus. Peter calls us to the living Gospel. 
  • We have hope that this will allow us to be with God in a new life in Heaven. 
  • Think of this, resurrection, being raised from the dead-how is this possible? Only God can do this!
  • Read Acts 4:1-2, they were upset that the apostles were teaching that it is possible for a “dead person to be resurrected”. This is truly miraculous, that God raised Jesus from the dead and will do the same for us. 
  • When we remember that one day we too will be resurrected like Jesus, death has no power over us. We should remember this because it will allow us to persevere through any trouble, knowing that we have the hope of something better with God in heaven!

Present Your Requests to God

Sunday, April 10th

Sermon Notes

Read Psalm 86-  Example of David Praying

Read Philippians 4:4-7-Pray instead of being Anxious

Read Jonah 2:1-10- Jonah Prayed in his Distress

Read 1 Kings 3:5-14-King Solomon Prayed for Discerning Heart

Think of some prayer requests you have laid before God and What happened as a result?

Here are some prayers and situations that were shared by some individuals:

  • About to get a competitive dream job, but in the end God said “no” which was really a blessing 
  • Suffering with mental health issues, raising small children and having a difficult financial situation, but God protected them through this and saw them out of this situation
  • Moved from one country with no money to get a better education- God provided money, shelter and now they have higher degrees, a nice place to live and permanent status to stay in this country
  • Followed their spouse from another  country to the USA, did not know the language and had a small child. God protected them through this time, especially when the child was ill and the spouse was on travel and they did not know the language well. 
  • Having a hard time with the loss of a relative that was sudden and tragic, but their relationship with God grew and is now able to help others with the grieving process
  • Older and unmarried but learned to surrender the wedding plans to God
  • Relative died tragically although they prayed for their life to be spared, learned that God will do things in his timing
  • Prayed to know Jesus and found him
  • Learned to be OK when God says no or not yet
  • Prayed for a dear friend to return to God and he is now returning
  • Prayed to care for children and they are being cared for
  • Prayed for spouse who was in a bad accident to not require surgery and live, God answered yes

When we pray, God listens and cares about what we are going through. We should always remember to pray and never give up.

Read Luke 18: 1-8

How does this parable change your perspective on prayer?

Do you give up praying? Or do you refuse to pray about everything in your life?

“Remembering Jesus”

Read Luke 22:19

Jesus reminded his disciples to “remember him” while having a meal to celebrate the Passover.

The Passover was an event that happened when the Hebrews were in slavery in Egypt and the Angel of Death was killing all the first borns of the Egyptian people. They were told by God to paint the blood of a lamb and eat a special meal so that the Angel of Death would “Passover” their home and not kill their first born. Yearly, they re-enacted that event to remember what God had done to save them.

Eating meals together was a very intimate experience for Hebrew families. They shared their food and their hearts with each other daily. Jesus was doing the same with his disciples.

Side note-remember to eat dinner with your family each night and share your intimate thoughts and feelings with them to encourage them daily.

Read Genesis 22:1-19

Love- the first time the word “Love” is written in the Bible. Abraham was willing to sacrifice his son as a sign of his love for GOD. Love is an action, a sacrifice you make for someone else, not just a feeling.

The ram-was caught in a thicket, or “tree” and would replace Isaac as the sacrifice. Just like Jesus died on a tree as a sacrifice for our sins. Isaac was a young man and knew what a sacrifice was because his father Abraham was teaching him about God. Yet, Isaac willingly trusted his father and did not resist when he was bound and tied to the altar, similar to how Jesus yielded to be a sacrifice for us.

The journey to the place of sacrifice was three days, similar to the time Jesus died and went to hell and returned by the will of God. God again provided the sacrifice. This story is an exact foreshadowing of what Jesus would go through for us in the future.

Although Abraham was waiting a very long time for his son to be born, he did not withhold him from God and was willing to sacrifice to obey God and show his love for God.

Do you think Sarah knew what was going on? Did the servants even know? How about Isaac?
Jesus knew he was going to die his whole life and so did Mary. Imagine how hard that must have been to keep going knowing your destiny was to die for someone else’s sin!

Why did Jesus come on earth? To release us from slavery to sin and to proclaim that we would be saved by his sacrifice. Therefore, every week we meet together to share a meal and remember what Jesus has done for us.

Read John 3:16
God loves us so much that he was willing to sacrifice his only Son for our sake

God would not ask anything of us that he would not do himself
God loves us even more that he loves Jesus-who was blameless and yet he sacrificed him for us. Take time to remember this sacrifice and this act of true love and turn to God and love him back with your life.

Encouraging Each Other

Sunday Sermon Notes

March 13, 2022

Read 1 Corinthians 14:26

“What then shall we say, brothers and sisters? When you come together, each of you has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation. Everything must be done so that the church may be built up.”

The bible tells us to build each other with Hymns or Words of instruction. We took a chance today to encourage each other in this way. Here are some thoughts that were shared:

  • John 4:7-10: We need each other, we need relationships. Jesus reached out to a Samaritan woman very different from himself and was able to engage in helping her get to know God and connect with God. Relationships can help us to connect with God. 
  • Isaiah 32:1-2: Righteousness and Justice is a shelter from the wind and refuge from the storm; we can help each other and protect each other when we engage in these actions.

Hebrews 10: 19-25:Remember to keep spurring each other on toward love and good deeds;keep meeting together ; keep on encouraging each other; keep loving God

The Full Armor of God

Sunday Sermon Notes from February 27, 2022

READ EPHESIANS 6: 10-20

What is the full armor of GOD?

  • An armor is usually worn by someone to protect their body parts from physical injury
  • The individual wearing the armor puts their trust in the armor to protect them when facing a challenge
  • Paul was in prison when he wrote this letter and was likely writing this letter in the presence of well armored guards, therefore, it is easy to see why he used this metaphor to describe how as disciples we have access an even better armor, the FULL ARMOR OF GOD
  • When we suit up in the FULL ARMOR of God, we clothe ourselves with various items to protect our body parts
  • We should trust that God’s ARMOR will protect us when we are in the spiritual battles of life
  • The parts of God’s ARMOR include the following: a helmet, a breastplate, a shield, a sword and feet!

How and When does God expect us to wear this ARMOR?

  • We should wear our FULL ARMOR of God at all times because we are in a spiritual battle everyday and need to be protected from satan’s schemes
  • Our ARMOR not only protects us but it allows us to defeat satan over and over without harming ourselves
  • God expects us to be ready and to stand firm for battle
  • Yes, God does the fighting for us but we need to be available and ready to fight or we will miss out on the awesome victories God has in store for us

Let’s discuss the pieces of God’s ARMOR and how each piece can protect us:

Belt of Truth

Jesus speaks truth. He says if you obey him you will know the truth and it will set you free. Truth holds us up in the midst of difficult times, like a belt-it hold’s everything together. Knowing Jesus’s teachings and obeying them will help to keep us together when satan sends his schemes our way

Breastplate of Righteousness

This portion of armor protects our heart and lungs- organs that are vital to survival. When we are righteous, we are  doing  what God wants us to do. When we obey God’s requirements, it can  protect us from serious harm and our actions will be well guided.

Feet Fitted with Readiness

As disciples, we are tasked with spreading the Gospel of Jesus to others. We should always be ready to go out and spread this great news to others as we live out the Gospel in our lives

Shield of Faith

Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. We have to be willing to trust that God will deliver us from harm and protect us from the flaming arrows of satan. Our Faith protects us in times of trouble like a shield, don’t forget to take your shield with you each day!

Helmet of Salvation

A Helmet protects our brain. In our brain, we have the knowledge that we are saved for sure and therefore can  have security in God. Our brain can help us to focus on the confidence our salvation brings us. We can therefore remember the assurance that God handles our problems and situations and we can have peace instead of worry during those times. 

Sword of the Spirit

We use God’s word to bring truth to situations and to guide us in how we should respond during various situations. God’s spirit will always lead us to where God wants us to go when we follow. 

CHECK OUT EPHESIANS CHAPTER 1 for ADDITIONAL BACKGROUND!!!

What’s Love Got to Do With It?

Read the following verses:

  • 1 John 3:1-16
  • Isaiah 43:1-7
  • Zephaniah 3:14-17
  • Psalm 33:18-22
  • Romans 8:28-39

Answer the following two questions:

  1. What helps you to connect with God’s love?
  2. What helps you to connect with God’s Love, demonstrated through Jesus?

Here are some answers to these questions that various church members shared:

  • Some people feel connected to God’s love when they are forgiven for something and know they did not deserve forgiveness
  • Some feel connected when they spend time in nature, listen to Godly music or spend time with other Christians
  • Others feel connected the more they study God’s word and obey it
  • Some are connected by experiencing God’s Holy Spirit, experiencing God through his creations and through interactions with others in the world

To Love God is to obey God. Love is an action involving sacrificing for someone else, the way Jesus sacrificed for us. We feel close to God and can connect with his Love more as a by-product of obeying him.

READ EPHESIANS 3:14-21

God really wants us to understand the depth of his love for us. When we are little, we may swim in the kiddie pool and then when we get bigger, we swim in the adult pool; then finally we are able to swim in the ocean. The more we know God the more we will understand how wide and deep his love is for us. 

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The Beatitudes

Read Matthew 5: 1-11

Why do you think Jesus decided to preach about the Beatitudes?

Why do you think Jesus decided to preach about the Beatitudes to his disciples?

Here are some possible answers:

  • He wanted to let them know the truth about God’s Character
  • He was giving new insights into the meaning of the “Law”
  • He wanted others to see his life matched his word
  • He wanted to make sure his disciples knew this since they would be teaching others
  • He wanted to make sure they knew what was expected of them in order to make it into his kingdom, he gave them a roadmap

Let us review each Beatitude:

What does it mean to be poor in spirit?

  • When we are poor in spirit, we will be humble and teachable
  • We will be aware that we are insufficient and need something, and because of this awareness that we need something, we are able to receive
  • We are able to see our need for God and our need to depend on God for everything
  • We need the Spirit of God to fill us up

What does it mean to mourn?

  • Mourning is the sadness we feel as a result of being separated from something
  • As Christians, it is easy to see when the presence of God is lacking which can cause us to mourn
  • The Israelites at this time period could have been mourning the loss of the prophets, the Levites etc. since they had not heard from God in over 400 years

What does it mean to be meek?

  • It is a willingness to set aside our rights to save or serve others; to make sacrifices to help others when we are not obligated to do so
  • Peter and Paul were great examples of servants who could have used their power to rule over others but they were meek and served others instead

What does it mean to hunger and thirst for righteousness?

  • This is a desire to be filled with God’s word and to obey it
  • It is when we continuously want contact with God and  to be in alignment with God
  • The righteous activity we do are a result of our contact and intimacy with God 

What does it mean to be merciful?

  • Mercy occurs when punishment for a fault is withheld
  • When we give mercy, we are giving forgiveness and able to move past a hurt
  • Without knowing God’s character of mercy, we will have difficulty giving mercy to others
  • Read Hosea to understand the mercy of God

What does it mean to be pure in heart?

  • This is an innocence and trust in God; it is not pretentious
  • A single minded focus, unadulterated, trust and focus only in God

What is a peacemaker?

  • This is when someone helps another person to settle their account and make peace with God
  • We can do this by helping them to imitate Jesus’s character in any situation
  • Stephen in Acts was being a peacemaker when he was teaching others about Jesus and helping them to make peace with God

What does it mean to be persecuted or insulted for righteousness or the name of Jesus?

  • As Christians we are connected because we have Jesus in common, when we take a stand for who Jesus is and do what he did, we will face the repercussions of our actions

Healing on the Sabbath

Sunday Lesson Notes from January 16, 2022

Read Luke 14: 1-6

Where did this story take place?

At the House of a Prominent Pharisee

Who was present and who was absent?

Jesus, the Pharisees, experts in the Law and a man suffering with a medical condition were present. Based on how the Pharisees reacted to Jesus and his eating with “tax collectors and sinners” in other passages, there were most likely no tax collectors, commoners, women or other unclean people present. Non-Jews, or Gentiles, were definitely not present.

What does Jesus say to the Pharisees and what impact did this have in the room?

Jesus asked the Pharisees if it was lawful to heal on the Sabbath or not. He called out the elephant in the room, so the trap backfired on them. The Pharisees must have been shocked that the guy was actually healed.

Jesus was able to point out to the Pharisees that there were exemptions to the rules of the Sabbath and healing people was more important than the rules of the law. 

The Pharisees here are not really concerned about the law, they were more concerned about trapping Jesus and when they were confronted they had nothing to say. 

What does this show you about the nature of God?

God is merciful and humanity is more important to him. God notices our suffering and cares about us and will provide healing. 

One encounter with Jesus changed this man’s life. This man started with an underlying disease that led to swelling, but in an instant he was normal. 

After the healing, Jesus did not brag about his abilities. He was very humble and pointed the Pharisees back to their own law and taught them how to really obey and understand it. He gave them a chance to change and to learn about why they were doing what they were doing. 

Why did the Pharisees remain silent?

Perhaps they were embarrassed, or did not want to be kicked out of the group for agreeing with Jesus?

Jesus continues to teach the Pharisees later on in the chapter, why?

Jesus wanted them to have a deeper understanding of the law they were supposedly upholding. Jesus wanted them to learn how to really honor the Sabbath and to know the reason behind why they did what they were doing.

What Do You Want?

Sunday Sermon Notes from January 9, 2022

Read John 1:35-39

Why did Jesus ask these men what they wanted?

Perhaps Jesus already knew what they wanted, but wanted to see if they, themselves knew what they wanted from him.

Also, since relationships should go both ways, these men needed to say what they wanted out of their own relationship with God. 

It is easy to desire something, but do we really want to put in the work to attain it?

Read John 2:1-11

What did Mary want?

Mary wanted Jesus to turn the water into wine to help out with a problem at the wedding. Mary demonstrated great faith that her son could do something about this situation. She was borrowing from her own experiences of faith when the Holy Spirit came to her and told her she would give birth to Jesus. 

Jesus knew now that Mary had faith in him.

Read John 2: 13-17

What did Jesus want?

Is Worship at churches today like a marketplace or show?

Jesus was indignant and removed all the money changers from the temple since they were disrespecting the house of God. They were also blocking gentiles and others from worshiping God by this set up. This was an example of rampant consumerism. They were making it easier for  the people to make a sacrifice by providing the animals they needed to make their sacrifice.  Therefore, they did not actually have to raise the animal and bring it to the temple, which was really watering down the impact of their sacrifice. 

Many churches today try to make it easier for members to just show up which means it doesn’t cost us anything to go to church. We can just go and receive and not give anything if we so choose. Jesus wants everyone to come and worship him without hindrances. 

Read John 3: 16-21

What does God want?

God wants us to live in the light, to be open and transparent and vulnerable with each other and with him. God wants us to be saved and goes to all ends to save us. God gave us his son Jesus and planned to save us from the laws of the Old Testament that we could not keep. 

What do the people want?

People prefer darkness to light. We like to do what we want to do and not what God wants most of the time. It is quite common that people respond negatively to someone who is trying to do what is right because we do not like to be exposed by our wrongdoing. 

Do you really want what Jesus wants in your life?

Do you go to Jesus to see what he wants in your life?

Do you allow Jesus to shepherd your life? 

What can you do to align your wants with Jesus’s wants?

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