Christ, the Nearness of God

(The devotional Teach Me To Pray is full of wonderful words from Andrew Murray that encourage us in our spiritual lives. Here is one of my favorites.)

Draw close to God, and God will draw close to you. James 4:8

It has been said that the holiness of God is the union of God’s infinite distance from sinful man with God’s infinite nearness in His redeeming grace. Faith must always seek to realize both the distance and the nearness.

In Christ, God has come very near to man. Now the command comes: If you want God to come still nearer, you must draw nearer to Him. The promised nearness of Christ Jesus expressed in the promise, “And be sure of this: I am with you always” (Matt 28:20), can only be experienced as we draw near to Him.

This mean that at the beginning of each new day, we must yield ourselves to His holy presence. It means a voluntary, intentional, and whole-hearted turning away from the world to wait on God to make Himself known to our souls. It means making time to allow him to reveal Himself. It is impossible to expect the abiding presence of Christ with us through the day without the daily exercise of strong desire and child-like trust in His word.

As you pray, let these words come to you with new meaning each morning: “Draw close to God, and God will draw close to you.” Wait patiently and He will speak in divine power: “I am with you always.”

7 Keys to Teaching Children About God

Passing on our personal faith in Jesus Christ to children is one of the most important things we can ever do. A recent Barna study indicates that nearly half of all Americans who accept Jesus Christ as their savior do so before reaching the age of 13 (43%), and that two out of three born again Christians (64%) made that commitment to Christ before their 18th birthday. 

https://www.barna.com/research/evangelism-is-most-effective-among-kids/

Sometimes kids can be difficult to teach. They need to bounce. They need to talk about their pets. They interrupt. But put a few tools in your teaching tool belt and the problems will smooth right out.

  1. Teach the kids – not the curriculum. Many times, teachers enter the room with prepared curriculum and are insistent that the class get through the material. I have watched kids sit through lessons as words fly past them. Then the kids get up and go home with no idea of what it was all about. Speak to them, look into their eyes, let them ask questions. If you don’t finish all the material, bring it back for a second lesson. It’s better for the kids to go home with one firm thought, than for them to leave with everything over their head.
  2. Ask them if they have any questions. I often start my lessons this way: “What questions do you have about God?” I am amazed at the deep questions the kids have, that no one has taken the time to answer. “How can God be everywhere at once?” “How can Jesus be God if he is on earth and the Father is in heaven?” “Why is the Bible so hard to read?” “How did Jesus know what was going to happen to him?” These are all very important questions. If you don’t know the answer to something they ask, that’s okay. Just say, “I don’t know.” Then go find out and report back. Kids often feel shy about asking these kinds of questions, so I always let them know how important their questions are. The next time, they won’t be so hesitant.
  3. Give them hands on activities to connect with the ideas. Children are tactile. They need to see and touch – even taste. Let the kids act out Bible stories in mini-skits. They LOVE any kind of costumes. Keep the lines short and simple. Usually when we act out a Bible story, it only takes a minute or two, so we repeat it several times with different kids in different roles. Everyone is excited to try every role at least once! By the end of our time, they know the story very well. Paper cut outs, drawings, water paints, and clay molding all work very well too. Give them a theme and let them get to work. You will be astounded at some of the results.
  4. Respect their individual maturity levels. Some kids are full of deeply thought through questions while others just want to talk about their last soccer game. Don’t push kids. When they are ready, they will respond.
  5. Keep it short. Young elementary kids need a change of topic or activity every 10-15 minutes. Older elementary can maybe go 20-25 minutes, then change up the activity. Get them up and moving. Give them something to create. Watch for signs that they need a change. When the kids lose focus, they are not being disobedient, they are being the kids God created them to be.
  6. Really listen to them. What did they go through in the past few days or week that was hard for them? What excites them? Children often struggle with the death of a pet for far longer than we think they should. If they are still talking about something, it’s important to them.
  7. Teach in small groups. Five to eight students in a group is ideal. Any more than that and some kids will get lost in the crowd. Those are the ones who will most likely choose to stay home when their parents give them the choice or when they become teenagers. And they may never come back.

Children love hearing the stories of the Bible. And they love any adult who will sit with them and share their own stories of faith. I teach children because they pour their love right back to me.

What have you found helpful when teaching children? Let’s get a conversation going and reach those kids for Christ.

Why Are We Here?

We still wrestle with the same problems that preoccupied Plato and Aristotle centuries ago: Where did we come from? Why are we here? Where are we going? We search for answers, but the signs all seem to say “no exit.”

But the Cross boldly stands against the confusion of our world, a beacon of hope in the midst of darkness and doubt. In the Cross, Christ not only bridged the gap between God and us, but there we find the answers to life’s deepest questions. There we discover our true identity: forgiven sinners who now belong to God. There we discover our true destiny: a glorious eternity with God in Heaven. There we discover our true purpose: to love God and serve Him with all our might.

Celtic Cross in Ireland

Never underestimate what Christ did for us through the Cross. By it our salvation was won, and by it our lives—and our world—can be transformed. What difference does the Cross make in your life?

By Billy Graham in Hope for Each Day, Words of Wisdom and Faith

Is Jesus God?

I have, over a period of several years, run across a number of individuals who are astounded when I make the statement, “Jesus is God.” Their astonishment always takes me by surprise and puzzles me as well.

They all comment, “Jesus is the Son of God, not God.” Where does this belief come from? Is the church purposefully teaching this idea or does it come from incomplete lessons and a failure to check with the students as to the thoroughness of the learning of the lesson?

This is undoubtedly the most important lesson the church, or any Christian, can possibly teach. If Jesus was not God, then his sacrifice on the cross is worthless. If I died on the cross for the sins of humanity, it would undoubtedly mean nothing. The fact that God became a man, then took the sins of the world onto Himself, is the only way that we become clean in God’s sight. It is the only way we become Holy and therefore can enter His presence.

Okay, so is Jesus God or not? Here are a few thoughts on the matter:

John 1:1 In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God.

Exodus 3:14     I AM WHO I AM  God giving His name as Yahweh.

John 8:58  Jesus said, “Before Abraham was, I am.”  Jesus called himself Yahweh (God) and the men he was speaking to knew it. That is the very reason they immediately tried to kill him.

John 17:5   Jesus prayed, “And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began.”

John 3:13  Jesus said to Nicodemus, “No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven—the Son of Man.”

6:33-35   Jesus said “For the bread of God is the bread that comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”   “Sir,” they said, “always give us this bread.  ” Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life.”

6:38  Jesus said “ For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me.”

So you see that Christ himself says that he is God. He says that he has always existed.

Now, we go to a verse that everyone is familiar with at Christmas time, even those who never step into a church or open a Bible. I have said this verse myself so many times that I quit listening to it. Let’s read it slowly and carefully.

Is 9:6-7   For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Did you hear it? The son’s name will be Everlasting Father!

There are many more verses we did not look at today that point to Christ having been in heaven before the incarnation. Let’s resolve to do a better job of teaching about Christ. The number one lesson should be – Jesus Christ is God!