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photo by Curtis Hall

photo by Curtis Hall

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Jesus, the Holy Spirit, and Prayer – Lesson 7

Book of LukeShe seems an unlikely character for this week’s discussion on Jesus, the Holy Spirit, and Prayer. Throughout her story, as recorded in the Gospel of John, prayer is not once mentioned. She is not one of the many who came seeking Jesus for miraculous healing from some incurable illness. As a matter of fact, she didn’t initially recognize Jesus as they conversed together. Yet, her brief interaction with Him speaks volumes about our experience with God as it relates to prayer.

“Jesus answered her,
“If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.” John 4:10While her entire story from beginning to end is full of valuable lessons for many aspects of life, we will listen to just a small part of her discourse with Divinity. Jesus, in his humanity, sits at Jacob’s well in Sychar. Unable to draw the water himself he asked this woman of Samaria for a drink. In her shock that a Jew would dialogue with a Samaritan, she sought an answer from Him about this break from tradition. It is here where the lesson of prayer begins.

If you only knew who you were talking to…

What would life for us be if we really appreciated who we were conversing with in prayer? Sure, we all readily agree that prayer is talking to God one on one. But the evidence shows that we often pray in a spirit of lowered expectations.

This is not a problem exclusive to our generation. In the days when Jesus walked this earth as man, He addressed this issue in a way to show the higher priorities of life.

“Consider the lilies how they grow: they toil not, they spin not; and yet I say unto you, that Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. If then God so clothe the grass, which is to day in the field, and to morrow is cast into the oven; how much more will he clothe you, O ye of little faith? And seek not ye what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink, neither be ye of doubtful mind. For all these things do the nations of the world seek after: and your Father knoweth that ye have need of these things. But rather seek ye the kingdom of God; and all these things shall be added unto you.” Luke 12:27-31

Today, we are reminded that God “is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think” Ephesians 3:20. We hear Jesus saying to us as He did to the woman of Samaria, “I that speak unto thee am he.”

Our operating in a spirit of low expectations must be replaced with a deeper belief that comprehends the priceless offer of heavenly resources.

Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.”Luke 11:9-10

We must no longer limit our prayers to primarily seeking relief from financial necessities or other common life trials. Realizing more fully Who it is we are speaking to, let’s ask Him to do what no other can do – make an entire change in our hearts and lives. Whether rich or poor let us be content, but let us ask Him to free us from the sins that do so easily overwhelm. Our expectations must be higher.

Whether we’re free or bound, give us excellence in our service to the Kingdom of God. Help us to rise above selfish goals of success that feed our egos and allow us to be those at the end of time who hear the pronouncement from the King,

“Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.” “Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” Matthew 25:34-26, 40.

Our expectations must be higher.

Here are a few Hit the Mark questions for this week’s lesson discussion:

  • What does prayer mean to you? (Don’t use the answer “speaking to God”)
  • What, if any, is the difference in the life of someone who spends time in prayer compared to someone who rarely does?
  • Is it possible to be a faithful Christian without spending much time in prayer? Why yes or no? (Personal reflection question) Are you a faithful Christian?
  • What does it mean in 1 Thessalonians 5:16 to “pray without ceasing” and why should we do that?
  • If you agree that there is such a thing as selfish prayers, how would you describe an unselfish prayer?
  • Is it true that the “better” we are as Christians the more likely our prayers will be answered? Why yes or no?
  • Is the following statement True, Mostly True, Somewhat True or Not True: I should do all in my power to answer my own prayers. Explain your answer.

We close this week with the words of Jesus which speak of the foundation and life transformative power of prayer:

“I am the Vine, you are the branches. When you’re joined with me and I with you, the relation intimate and organic, the harvest is sure to be abundant. Separated, you can’t produce a thing. Anyone who separates from me is deadwood, gathered up and thrown on the bonfire. But if you make yourselves at home with me and my words are at home in you, you can be sure that whatever you ask will be listened to and acted upon. This is how my Father shows who he is—when you produce grapes, when you mature as my disciples.” John 15:5-8 The Message

Until next week, let’s all continue to Hit the Mark in Sabbath School!

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photo by Curtis Hall

photo by Curtis Hall

Women in the Ministry of Jesus – Lesson 6

Book of LukeJesus is the champion of women – and women need a champion!

The story of this women, although not found in the book of Luke, is emblematic of the value Jesus had and has for women. Only found in the book of John, it is the story of the women taken in adultery. I’ve often imagined how she must have felt that day. I’ve had my share of embarrassing moments; times when I wish I could have disappeared. Humiliation on occasion happens to all. But this was different.

We can only speculate about her mindset leading up to this event. It is possible that she was manipulated into this position with the sole purpose of taking down Jesus. However she found herself in this  situation, this had to be the biggest mistake of her life.

photo by Curtis Hall

photo by Curtis Hall

Christ as the Lord of the Sabbath – Lesson 5

Book of LukeIt has finally arrived – the lesson topic on which everyone is an expert. The one topic we love to talk about above all others – the Sabbath. Yes, you can put your Bible and study guides down right now and let the free-flowing discussions begin.

I can hear the Sabbath school discussions right now, “When I was growing up we used to do this and that regarding the Sabbath.” Yes, there will be lots of reminiscing about the good ole days of Sabbath keeping. It may be suggested that 30, 40 or 50 years ago the methods of keeping the Sabbath were the right ways compared to the ways the Sabbath is kept today.

photo by Curtis Hall

photo by Curtis Hall

The Call to Discipleship – Lesson 4

Book of LukeHe’s sitting in a boat teaching. There is a massive crowd standing before Him with one particular thing in common. Luke 5:1 reads, “The multitude pressed about Him to hear the word of God.”

This week as we look at “The Call to Discipleship,” we will concentrate on the events of this day in history. The lessons are many.

We could discuss if we really believe that the Word alone is powerful enough to draw men and women, or, if instead, we need to hide it behind a shiny exterior of excitement and entertainment. We could examine the prominence the Word has in our lives both privately and corporately.

I like Luke 5:4 because it typifies how Jesus gives directions with no uncertainty. Life is challenging. It seems that as soon as we start to get a handle on living we look back and see the years that were wasted in aimless pursuits because we lacked direction. But His directions are sure and the outcome of following His commands is already determined. “Launch out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.” Luke 5:4

photo by Curtis Hall

photo by Curtis Hall