Thursday, May 5, 2016

2016 Mother's Day Family Devotion

This family devotion guide was prepared to replace the normal evening worship service on Mother’s Day with a family worship time.  It has different activities so you can choose the parts that work best for your family.
I.  Opening Prayer
II.  Scripture Reading 1 Samuel 1:1-28
III. Lessons from Hannah.
      (Optional Hymns)
IV. Closing Prayer Time
(Fun Stuff)

A few tips:
· Make your preparation simple.  If you will thoughtfully read through the lesson ahead of time, you should be adequately prepared.
· Just the act of having a family devotion or worship time says something to your kids about what it important.  It can be a challenge to make family devotions an enjoyable and profitable time, but it will never happen if you don’t try.
· Plan a time when everybody can participate.  Make sure they know not to make other plans for that time.  Keep it short. Keep it simple.
· Let  the children interrupt and ask questions at the right times. This is not just a sermon. Let everybody ask, speak, tell, share, and participate. You want to know what they are thinking and whether they understand.
· Include everyone, even the young ones. While it may seem easier to have a quiet time with just the older ones, it is so important to include your little ones in this family time.  As they grow and mature, they will learn to sit quietly during the devotion time.
· It’s important to remember their ages.  If you have small children, you are probably not going to have a deep teaching time.  Try to include different approaches that are age appropriate.
· Let them be children. They’re fidgety. They’re impatient. They’re children. Try to keep a semblance of order during this time together, but be realistic and patient.  Yelling at them to be quiet and sit still defeats the purpose.
· Turn off all electronics. I know this may seem like a given, but it needs to be mentioned.

I.    Prayer
· The leader (probably dad) should start your time by asking God to bless your time together. 
· You might also want to encourage the family to take turns thanking God for something they appreciate about Mom.
III. Scripture Reading1 
The story of Hannah reminds us of women who are waiting to become a mom or may not be able to have children.  We should be thoughtful and kind to them.  It also reminds us that children are a blessing from the Lord.  We might even think of them as “on loan” from the Lord.
1 Samuel 1:1-28  (EasyEnglish Bible)2
1 There was a man whose name was Elkanah. He lived in the town called Ramathaim-zophim (Ramah). This town was in the hills. It was in a place that God had given to Ephraim’s tribe. Elkanah ... was in the tribe of Ephraim. 2 ...Hannah did not have any children.
3 Every year, Elkanah left Ramathaim and he went up to the town called Shiloh. He went there to worship. There he gave sacrifices to God, the most powerful Lord. ... 5 Elkanah loved Hannah. But she had no children because the Lord had not let her have children.  6 … Then Hannah became sad.  7 This happened every year when they went to the Lord’s house in Shiloh. ... Hannah would not eat anything. 8 Hannah’s husband, Elkanah said to her, ‘I do not know why you are crying. I do not know why you are not eating. You should not be sad. I am better than 10 sons.’
9 One day they were at Shiloh. They had finished eating and drinking. Hannah stood up. Eli the priest was sitting by the door of the Lord’s temple. 10 Hannah was very, very sad. She cried very much and she prayed to the Lord. 11 And she said a promise to God. She prayed, ‘You are the most powerful Lord. See how sad I am. I am your servant. Remember me and do not forget me. Please give a son to me. If you do that, I will give him back to you for all of his life. Nobody will ever cut his hair.’
12 Hannah continued to pray to the Lord. Eli watched her mouth while it moved. 13 Hannah was praying inside herself. Her lips moved but Eli could not hear her voice. So he thought that she had drunk too much alcohol. 14 He said to her, ‘Stop drinking so much. Put away your wine.’ 15 Hannah said to Eli, ‘No, sir, I have not drunk wine or strong drink. I have trouble deep inside myself. I told the Lord all about my problems. 16 Please do not think that I am a bad woman. I am praying here because I am sad. And I feel bad inside.’
17 Eli answered Hannah and he said, ‘Go and let your mind rest. I ask the God of Israel to give to you the thing that you asked him for.’ 18 Hannah said, ‘I will try always to do the things that will cause you pleasure.’ Then Hannah went away and she ate something. Her face was not sad now.
19 ... And God remembered what she had asked him for. 20 Hannah discovered that she would soon have a baby. She had a son and she called him Samuel. She said, ‘His name is Samuel because I asked the Lord for him.’
21 Every year Elkanah went to Shiloh to give sacrifices. And he did what he had promised to the Lord… 22 But Hannah did not go. ... Hannah stayed at her home with her son until he drank no more milk from her.
24 When Samuel was eating proper food, Hannah took him to Shiloh. She took him to the Lord’s house there. ...26 Hannah spoke to Eli. ‘Please believe me sir. I am the woman that was standing here. You saw me here. I was praying to the Lord. 27 I prayed for this boy and the Lord answered me. The Lord gave to me what I asked him for. 28 Now I give this child back to the Lord. He will work for the Lord all of his life.’ And Samuel worshiped the Lord there.

IV. Lessons from Hannah3 
Mothers are special people.  There are many exceptional character traits that are just normal for moms.  Your mom is probably not famous, but she does little things every day that are pretty special.  Here are some truths from our story about Hannah.
1. Hannah experienced disappointments and was sad sometimes, but Hannah and her husband went to worship even when she was sad.
Romans 12:15; Hebrews 10:24-25 — We are not happy all the time.  Sometimes even Mom is sad.  We should try to encourage our moms like Elkanah did Hannah.  Even when we are sad, it is important to attend and be part of our church.  What are things you can do to encourage your mom?
2. Hannah told the Lord about her problems and believed God would answer her prayer.
 Hebrews 4:14-16; 7:25 —  Jesus is our High Priest who understands and prays for us.   We can pray directly to Jesus who understands our feelings, both joys and sorrows.  He even prays to God the Father for us!  Do you thank your mom for praying for you? Do you pray for her?  Have you asked her what you should pray for her?
3. Hannah knew her son was a gift from God.
Psalm 127:3-5; Genesis 33:5; 48:9 — Christian moms know that children are a blessing from the Lord. They really belong to the Him.  Parents have a responsibility to love “their” children and raise them in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.  Do you listen to your mom’s teaching like it says in Proverbs 1:8?
4. Hannah wanted her son to love and serve the Lord.
Deuteronomy 6:4-8; Proverbs 23:15-18;  I John 3:4 — There are many things we can do to make our mothers proud of us.  Nothing is more important to a godly mother than that her children are walking in the truth and serving the Lord with all their hearts.  Are you making your mom proud by loving the Lord and walking in His wisdom?
5. We don’t have to sacrifice animals because Jesus is our sacrifice for sin.
John 1.29, 1 Peter 3:18; Hebrews 8:13-14 — We don’t have to sacrifice animals every year like Elkanah and Hannah did.  Jesus, our perfect sacrifice, died once to paid for all our sins.  Have you believed in Jesus like it says in John 3:16?
1   Note that this story is in the Easy English version and has been shortened for younger children.  If you have older children you might prefer to read the entire chapter out of the version you usually use.
2   If you read the full chapter, be aware that Elkanah had two wives (polygamy).  At some point you will want to discuss this topic with your children.  Here are a couple websites that offer some thoughts on the subject from a biblical perspective. (  
3   You will notice that there is not really a script to read.  The leader should explain each lesson in their own words and use the questions to generate discussion.  There may be more lessons and questions here than you can fit into one devotion time.  Choose which lessons you think are most helpful for your family. 

 (Optional Hymns)
· “What a Friend We Have in Jesus” 
· “Giving Thanks for Mothers”  
· Ask your mom for one of her favorites.
IV. Closing:
1. Each child should “rise up” in turn and express  appreciation for their mother.  (The parents should also praise their mothers as an example.)
2. The father should take a few minutes to praise his wife (his children’s mother) and close in prayer. If the father is not available, mom or an older child can close in prayer.
(Fun Stuff): 
Bible Trivia: Who am I?
1. Who saw her son die on a cross?  (John 19:25)
2. Who was the mom of John the Baptist?  (Luke 1:57-59)
3. Who was the first mother on earth?  (Genesis 4:1)
4. Who was Joseph’s mother?  (Genesis 30:22-25)
5. Who told her daughter to ask for John the Baptist’s head for a prize?  (Matthew 14:6-7)
6. Who called herself, “The Mother of Israel?”  (Judges 5:7)
7. Whose mother brought him a new coat each year?  (1 Samuel 2:19)
8. Whose mother does Paul greet in the letter to the Romans?  (Romans 16:13)
Q: What did mommy spider say to the baby spider?
A: You spend too much time on the web.
Q: What did the mother broom say to the baby broom?
A: It's time to go to sweep!
Q. What do you call a small mom?
A: A minimum.
Q: Why did the monster’s mother knit him three socks?
A: She heard he grew another foot.
I called my mother up when they announced I won a Nobel Prize. She said, "That's nice — and when are you going to see me next?"    —-Steven Chu, Nobel Prize Winner
When Mom says, “Because I’m your mother.”
Q: Is there a biblical basis for mom’s explanation, “Because I’m your mother!” 

Bible Trivia Answers:  1. Mary   2. Elizabeth   3. Eve   4. Rachel   5. Herodias   6. Deborah   7. Hannah   8. Rufus

A Hymn For Mother's Day

Giving thanks to Mothers
(tune of “Joyful, Joyful we adore thee”)
by Rev. Rebecca Kelly ©2006

Verse 1
Lord, we thank you for the mothers
By whose faith we come to Thee;
Who reflect Your grace and mercy
In their faces, You, we see.
Honor mothers, God commands us,
Show respect and loving care,
Instruments You made to guide us
Mothers who Christ’s love doth share.

Verse 2
Through the ages, leading forward
Moms who serve to glorify.
Eve’s firstborn starts all the races,
Child in pain sparks Hagar’s cry.
Hannah’s prayers and Mary’s song
Tell acceptance of God’s will.
King of grace and peace and patience
These the lessons mothers tell.

Verse 3
Lord, we thank you for the mothers
Who have brought us forth on earth.
Giving life that we may worship
Savior born of Virgin birth.
All created by Holy Maker
Workmanship beyond compare
For the gift of moms, we thank Thee
Praise to You, we do declare.

L:We pray for older moms whose children are grown.
P: Grant them joy and satisfaction for a job well done.

L: We pray for new moms experiencing changes they could not predict.
P: Grant them rest and peace as they trust you for the future.

L: We pray for pregnant women who will soon be moms.
P: Grant them patience and good counsel in the coming months.

L: We pray for moms who face the demands of single parenthood.
P: Grant them strength and wisdom.

L: We pray for moms who enjoy financial abundance.
P: Grant them time to share with their families.

L: We pray for moms who are raising their children in poverty.
P: Grant them relief and justice.

L: We pray for step-moms.
P: Grant them patience and understanding and love.

L: We pray for moms who are separated from their children.
P: Grant them faith and hope.

L: We pray for moms in marriages that are in crisis.
P: Grant them support and insight.

L: We pray for moms who have lost children.
P: Grant them comfort in the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

L: We pray for moms who gave up their children for adoption.
P: Grant them peace and confidence as they trust in your providence.!!

L: We pray for adoptive mothers.
P: Grant them joy and gratitude for the gift you have provided.

L: We pray for women who think about becoming moms.
P: Grant them wisdom and discernment.

L: We pray for women who desperately want, or wanted, to be moms.
P: Grant them grace to accept your timing and will.

L: We pray for all women who have assumed the mother’s role in a child’s life.
P: Grant them joy and the appreciation of others.

L: We pray for those people present who are grieving the loss of their mother in the past year.

P: Grant them comfort and hope in Christ’s resurrection.

Monday, May 2, 2016

An Introduction to the Gospel According to Mark

An Introduction to the Gospel According to Mark
by Phil Martin
“It [Mark] is intended to be neither a formal historical treatise nor a biography of Jesus, but a proclamation.”[i]  Gospels are similar to biographies in that they focus on one person as the “hero”.  This person in the NT gospels is obviously Jesus. The Gospels are not biographies though. The main difference is that the Gospels are not intended to describe every event in Jesus’ life.  They are highly focused and emphasize more on Jesus’ role in the plan of salvation than telling his life story.  They show how Jesus is the Messiah, God’s son, who came down from heaven and took on flesh in order to redeem us from sin and death. [ii]
“An unbroken tradition affirms that the evangelist was intimately associated with the apostle Peter and that the contents of this Gospel depend significantly upon the message he proclaimed.”[iii]  1st Clements, Papias (as quoted by Eusebius), Justin Martyr, The Anti-Macrcionite Prologue to Mark, and Irenaeus are among the early witnesses to Mark’s authorship of the Gospel.  Some specifically make the point that Peter’s preaching was the source of Mark’s material.[iv]  
Mark’s mother was a well known believer in Jerusalem in whose house the church met (Acts 12:12), and he was possibly the man referred to in Mark 14:51-52.  Mark was a companion and co-worker with Peter (1 Peter 5:13).  His uncle, Barnabas, was a close associate and fellow missionary with the Apostle Paul (Acts 13:5, 13).  Though Mark deserted Paul and Barnabas’ first missionary journey, he later came to be a partner that Paul found useful (2 Timothy 4:11).
“Mark wrote for the Romans, and his theme is Jesus Christ the Servant. If we had to pick a “key verse” in this Gospel, it would be Mark 10:45—“For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give His life a ransom for many.”[v]  
Mark could be thought of as a “Reader’s Digest” Gospel or possibly a source for Matthew and Luke.  “Mark has 661 verses; Matthew has 1,068 verses; Luke has 1,149 verses.  Of Mark’s 661 verses, Matthew reproduces no fewer than 606 . Of Mark’s 661 verses Luke reproduces 320… So the result is that there are only 24 verses in Mark which do not occur somewhere in Matthew and Luke.” [vi]  
Mark is a fast moving account emphasizing what Jesus did more than what He said.  The expression “immediately” or “straightway” occurs some forty times.  Dr. Constable notes that Mark used a relatively limited vocabulary, sometimes had rough and ungrammatical Greek, addressed his readers directly, recorded many intimate details that only an eyewitness would observe, and stressed the humanity of Christ.[vii]  
Mark can be divided geographically into four parts:  a Galilean ministry (1:14-6:13), the ministry outside Galilee (6:14-8:30), the journey to Jerusalem (8:31-10:52), and the last week in Jerusalem (11:1-16:8).  The first two sections climax with Peter’s confession that Jesus was the Christ (8:29): The second two sections build toward the centurion’s confession that Jesus is the son of God (15:39).  

[i]  Lane, William L. The Gospel According to Mark: The English Text with Introduction, Exposition, and Notes. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1974. Print. (p.1)
[ii] Friend, T.J. "Genre: Gospel." How to Study the Bible. 11 Nov. 2009. Web. 15 Sept. 2015. .
[iii]  Lane, William L. The Gospel According to Mark: The English Text with Introduction, Exposition, and Notes. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1974. Print. (p. 7)
[iv] Utley, Bob, “The Gospel According to Peter: Mark and 1 & 2 Peter.” Free Bible Commentary. ©2014 by Bible Lessons International, Marshall, Texas. Web 15 Sept. 2015. <>.
[v] Warren W. Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary, vol. 1. Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1996, (p. 110)
[v] Constable, Thomas “Expository Notes on Mark.” Sonic Light. © 1999-2015. Web. 15 Sept. 2015. .
[vi] Barclay, William. The Gospel of Mark. Philadelphia: Westminster, 1975. Print.
[vii] Constable, Thomas “Expository Notes on Mark.” Sonic Light. © 1999-2015. Web. 15 Sept. 2015. 

Sunday, May 1, 2016

The Gospel of Mark: A Serving Savior / 2015-2016 Men's Bible Study / Lesson 23 - “Crucified” - Mark 15:40-16:8 (9-20)

Lesson 23  - “Crucified” -  Mark 15:40-16:8 (9-20)
ID: Inductive Questions (Asking the text questions like who, what, where, when, why, & how?”)
CR: Cross References (Comparing Scripture to Scripture, understanding the vague by the clear.)
WS: Word Study (Understanding definition, theological meaning, and usages in other passages.)
The WORD: What does the Bible say?
Context:  Read Mark 15:40-16:20 to help understand the context of this passage.  Read Mark 15:40-16:8 in a more literal or more dynamic translation than you usually use.  While there is some question about the validity of verses 9-20, we should avoid being too distracted by this question. 
1.     CR/ID: (15:43, 45-46)  What do we learn about Joseph of Arimathea?  (Luke 23:50; John 19:38)  Why was Pilate surprised to hear that Jesus was dead?
2.     WS/CR: (15:46-47)  Who was involved in the burial?  Who observed where Jesus’ body was buried?  Use a concordance, Bible dictionary, and/or Bible encyclopedia to find out who they were.
3.     ID: (16:1-3) Who came to the tomb in the morning?  What problem were they concerned about?
4.     ID: (16:6) What did the women find when they entered to tomb?  Why do you think the women were surprised to see the tomb empty?  When had Jesus told His followers about His death and resurrection?
5.     ID: (16:7-8)  What were the women told to do?  Why do you think were they afraid?
Though verses 9-20 are present in the majority of the texts, two of the oldest manuscripts end with verse eight.  As a result, most current evangelical scholars believe that verse eight is the last verse we can be certain was part of the original text written by Mark.  (see the links one the second page)  How would the abrupt ending fit with the tone and theme of Mark’s account of Christ’s death and resurrection?
6.     CR: (16:9-14)  To whom do verses 9-14 say Jesus appeared?  Verse 15 contains Mark’s version of the “Great Commission.”  How does it compare with the ones in the other synoptic Gospels?  (Matthew 28:18-19; Luke 24:44-48)  Verses 17-18 allude to several “signs” that would follow.  Can you think of times in the book of Acts when any of these occurred?
The WALK: What should I do?
1.     Mark provides several details to confirm Jesus physically died and rose.  Why was this important?
2.     How risky do you think it was for Joseph of Arimathea to ask for Jesus’ body?  What is the riskiest think you have ever done because of your faith in Christ?  What gave you courage to do it?
3.     Who is Jesus sending you to with the news of Christ’s resurrection?
4.     What would prevent you from reading through the Gospel of Mark with an unbeliever or new Christian?
5.     Where in this passage do we see Gospel truths about God, Man, Christ, and our response?  Have your sins been forgiven?
Going Beyond:  1.  Read through the Gospel of Mark with an unbeliever or a new believer.
2.  Utilize the book One to One Bible Reading or David Helm’s online training sessions to improve your effectiveness.
3. What areas of theology are touched on in this passage?  q The Bible   q God  q God the Father   q Jesus Christ    q The Holy Spirit    q Man   q Salvation   q The Church   q Angels & Satan   q Future Things –
Answer: Joseph of Arimathea was a biblical figure who played an important role in the burial of Jesus Christ.  His account can be found in each of the four Gospels: Matthew 27:57–60; Mark 15:42–46; Luke 23:50–53; and John 19:38–42.  He is called “Joseph of Arimathea” because “he came from the Judean town of Arimathea” (Luke 23:51) and to distinguish him from other Josephs in the Bible.
While there is not much information in the Bible about Joseph of Arimathea, there are certain things we can glean from the text.  In Luke 23:50, we learn that Joseph was actually a part of the Council, or Sanhedrin—the group of Jewish religious leaders who called for Jesus’ crucifixion.  However, as we read on to verse 51, we see that Joseph was opposed to the Council’s decision and was in fact a secret follower of Jesus (see also Mark 15:43).  Joseph was a wealthy man (Matthew 27:57), although the source of his wealth is unknown.  In addition, the Bible refers to Joseph as a “good and upright man” (Luke 23:50).
After Jesus’ death on the cross, Joseph, at great risk to himself and his reputation, went to the Roman governor Pilate to request Jesus’ body. Nicodemus, the Pharisee who had visited Jesus at night to ask questions about God’s Kingdom (John 19:39; cf. John 3), accompanied Joseph.  The two men were granted custody of Jesus’ body, and they immediately began to prepare the body for burial.  Following Jewish custom, they wrapped the body in strips of linen and mixed in myrrh and aloe.  However, it was the Day of Preparation—the sixth day of the week, just before the Jewish Sabbath—and it was late in the day.  So Joseph and Nicodemus hurriedly placed Jesus in Joseph’s own tomb, located in a garden near the place of Jesus’ crucifixion.
Unbeknownst to Joseph and Nicodemus, their choice to put Jesus in Joseph’s tomb fulfilled Isaiah’s prophecy spoken hundreds of years before Jesus’ death: “He was assigned a grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death, though he had done no violence, nor was any deceit in his mouth” (Isaiah 53:9, emphasis added).  This is one of the many prophecies that have confirmed Jesus’ identity as the Messiah and Son of God.
The day after Jesus’ burial, the chief priests and Pharisees went to Pilate to request that the stone Joseph had placed in front of the tomb be sealed, and a guard posted, for three days.  They cited Jesus’ assertion that He would rise after three days and claimed the disciples might attempt to steal the body in order to fabricate a resurrection (Matthew 27:63–64).  Their precautions were for naught, as Jesus rose from the dead on the third day, just as He had predicted (Matthew 28).
Many spurious stories and legends have arisen regarding Joseph.  Some purport that Joseph of Arimathea was the uncle of Jesus’ mother, Mary.  However, the Bible makes no such connection, so the claim is unsubstantiated.  In addition, Joseph supposedly made many trips to Britain for trade and is said to have eventually brought the gospel to that country.  Again, though, the Bible is silent about Joseph after Jesus’ burial, so we cannot know for sure what path he took later in life.  What we do know is what we find in the Scriptures: Joseph of Arimathea was a rich man and part of the Sanhedrin, and he procured Jesus’ body and laid it in his own tomb—from which Jesus would rise again in power three days later.
Recommended Resources: The Great Lives from God's Word Series by Chuck Swindoll and Logos Bible Software.

·       Most evangelical study bibles include a note
·       Dr. John MacArthur’s defends the shorter ending in his sermon, “The Fitting End to Mark’s Gospel.”
·       Dr. David Miller presents arguments in favor of the longer reading in a lengthy article, “Is Mark 16:9-20 Inspired?” on the Apologetics Press website.

Lesson 23 (Last lesson in this series!)  Mark 15:40-16:8 (9-20)

1. This is a foundational question since we want to develop the idea Joseph’s courage for the Walk section.
2. Identify who the characters were.  You may even want to compare Mark’s list with those in the other Gospels.
3 & 4 are basically observation questions.
5-6.  You are probably aware that there is some doubt about the authenticity of Mark 16:9-20.  This really does not affect any doctrine, etc. so it is probably not a big deal either way.  Most versions note that there are problems with the longer reading. 
I have included a questions about Mark’s point with the shorter reading.  It would be worth discussing. 
I have also included some questions from the longer reading.  Use your judgment about whether your group will use them.
DO NOT get into a long involved discussion about textual criticism or make anybody feel uncomfortable because they do or don’t except the longer reading.

2 – 4  Let’s use the courageous example of Joseph to motivate us to actively look for an opportunity to read through the book of Mark with an unbeliever or new believer.  I have links to two resources.  If you have any questions about this, contact Bob Nichols.  He would love to talk with you about it.)

You might consider having the men get copies of the book and spend a couple weeks discussing and praying about it. 

At the very least have your men think of some prospects that might ask to read through the Gospel of Mark with them.

1.  I have a short article about Joseph of Arimathea.
2. There are links to a book about the ending of Mark and a link to arguments against and for the longer reading.