Morning Bible Study
I am leaving on
a trip early tomorrow morning to Russia and Hungary. I have been invited to share at a Pastors’ Conference in
Moscow and a conference
at the Hungary Bible College. Pray for me!
I’ll only be gone ONE Sunday.
Jesus is on His
last evening with the disciples.
He's been giving them lots of instruction, preparing them for the tough
And now He stops to pray.
17:6-19 Jesus prays
for His disciples
:6 “I have manifested Your name to the men whom You have given Me out of
the world. They were Yours, You gave them to Me, and they have kept Your word.
– phaneroo – to make visible or known
what has been hidden or unknown
– onoma – name; the name is used for
everything which the name covers
Getting the name right
The day finally
arrived: Forrest Gump dies and goes to Heaven. He is met at the Pearly Gates by
Saint Peter himself. The gates are closed, however, and Forrest approaches the gatekeeper. Saint
Peter says, “Well Forrest, it’s certainly good to see you. We have heard a lot
about you. I must inform you that the place is filling up fast, and we’ve been
administering an entrance exam for everyone. The tests are fairly short, but
you need to pass before you can get into Heaven,” Forrest responds, “It shore
is good to be here Saint Peter. I was looking forward to this. Nobody ever told
me about any entrance exams. Shore hope the test ain’t too hard; life was a big
enough test as it was.” Saint Peter goes on, “Yes, I know Forrest. But, the
test I have for you is only three questions. Here is the first: What days of
the week begin with the letter ‘T’? Second, how many seconds are there in a
year? Third, what is God’s first name?” Forrest goes away to think the
questions over. Forest returns the next day and goes up to Saint Peter to try
to answer the exam questions. Saint Peter waves him up and asks, “Now that you
have had a chance to think the questions over, tell me your answers.” Forrest
says, “Well, the first one, how many days of the week begin with the letter
‘T’? Shucks, that one’s easy; that’d be Today and Tomorrow!” The saint’s eyes opened wide
and he exclaims, “Forrest! That’s not what I was thinking, but... you do have a
point though, and I guess I didn’t specify, so I give you credit for that
answer.” “How about
the next one” says Saint Peter, “how many seconds in a year?” “Now that one’s
harder,” says Forrest. “But, I thunk and thunk about that, and I guess the only
answer can be twelve.” Astounded, Saint Peter says, “Twelve! Twelve! Forrest,
how in Heaven’s name could you come up with twelve seconds in a year?” Forrest
says, “Shucks, there gotta be twelve: January second, February second, March
second.......” “Hold it,” interrupts Saint Peter. “I see where you’re going
with it. And I guess I see your point, though that wasn’t quite what I had in
mind. I’ll give you credit for that one too.” “Let’s go on with the next and final question,”
says Saint Peter, “can you tell me God’s first name?” Forrest says, “Well
shore, I know God’s first name. Everybody probably knows it. It’s Howard.” “Howard?” asks
Saint Peter. “What makes you think it’s Howard?” Forrest answers, “It’s in the
prayer.” “The prayer?” asks Saint Peter, “Which prayer?” “The Lord’s Prayer,”
responds Forrest: Our Father, which art in Heaven, Howard be thy name......”
This is not
just about teaching people how to spell or pronounce God’s name.
In the ancient world, a person’s name often described their character. Sometimes I
wonder how the parents knew how to name their kids:
– “fool” – he was the fellow who criticized and refused to help David when he
was fleeing from Saul.
– “beloved” – he was the fellow known as a man after God’s own heart, greatly
beloved by God.
wanted to know God better, God clarified His “name” with Moses:
(Ex 34:5–7 NKJV) —5 Now the Lord
descended in the cloud and stood with him there, and proclaimed the name of the
Lord. 6 And the Lord
passed before him and proclaimed, “The Lord,
the Lord God, merciful and
gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth, 7 keeping mercy for
thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, by no means clearing
the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children and the
children’s children to the third and the fourth generation.”
It’s kind of strange that some think of God in the Old
Testament as being cranky and quick to strike people dead.
There is a part of God that is indeed just, willing to
punish the wicked. But God is first merciful, gracious, patient, etc.
Christians we leave the wrong impression about God with people.
This was the problem Jesus often had with Pharisees
(Lk 12:1b–2 NKJV) …He
began to say to His disciples first of all, “Beware of the leaven of the
Pharisees, which is hypocrisy. 2 For there is nothing covered that will not be
revealed, nor hidden that will not be known.
The Pharisees were the ultra religious people of the day. If
anyone ought to have given a correct impression about who God was, it should
have been them. But they were caught up in hypocrisy – hiding the crud in their own hearts
and constantly criticizing what Jesus was doing. This is NOT what God is like.
Don’t you hate
it when people don’t get your name right?
My name has a lot of variations.
In first grade I was known as “Richie”.
In second grade I was known as “Dick”. In
third grade I was known as “Rich”. In Spanish class I was “Ricardo”. From fourth grade into my thirties I was
known as “Richard”. After becoming a pastor, I decided to go for
the simplified version and am quite okay with people calling me “Rich”.
I really prefer that you don’t call me “Rick” or “Ricky”. Not that I have a problem with people who are
called that, but it’s just not “me”.
Whatever you call me, just don’t call me late for
supper. And please stop calling me “surely” …
To me, when a person gets my name wrong, it simply points
out that this person doesn’t know me as well as they should.
people the correct impression of God. He “manifested” God’s name to people.
Think of what they’ve seen in just the last couple of hours of this
Jesus washed their feet, taking the role of a servant.
(Jn 13:34–35 NKJV)
—34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that
you also love one another. 35 By this all will know that you are My disciples,
if you have love for one another.”
(Jn 15:13 NKJV)
Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.
correctly “manifested” God’s name.
:7 Now they
have known that all things which You have given Me are from You.
What kinds of “things” has God given to Jesus? His words.
:8 For I have given to them the words which You have given Me; and they
have received them, and have known surely that I came forth from You; and they
have believed that You sent Me.
:8 the words
– rhema – that which is or has been
uttered by the living voice
It comes from rheo: to pour forth, to utter
I like the concept of “pouring”
here. God has “poured” the words into Jesus, and Jesus has in turn “poured” the
words into the disciples.
:8 I have given
– didomi – to give something to
Jesus not just giving an explanation of where His teachings came from, but
He’s also setting an example.
Jesus received the things He taught from God. The things that God gave to
Jesus, Jesus passed on to His disciples.
This is not just something unique to Jesus, but should be an example for
all Christian teachers.
When Paul was addressing the Corinthians about the messes they caused
during communion and how important it was for them to address their problems,
(1 Co 11:23
NKJV) For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you:
that the Lord Jesus on the same night in which He was betrayed took bread …
Did you notice Paul’s “source”? Paul received this from
the Lord, and passed it on to the Corinthians.
How does this happen?
How does a teacher “get things” from God?
I hope that at least some of the things that I talk about on Sunday
mornings are not just good ideas that I’ve researched and then shared – but it
is my sincere hope that at least some of these things are things that are
shared have been given to me by God, and given to me to pass on to you.
Not everyone is called to teach, but there are more teachers in this room
than just me. These are things that I find are important in the process of
(Je 33:3 NKJV) ‘Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty
things, which you do not know.’
I think understanding comes to a heart that is crying out
to God for guidance. I remember reading
about a Puritan
pastor would continually pray while preparing his messages, “More Light…”
We need to pray for those that we teach.
prophet Samuel was speaking to the nation of Israel when he said,
(1 Sa 12:23 NLT) “As for me, I will certainly not
sin against the Lord by ending my
prayers for you. And I will continue to teach you what is good and right.
I don’t think it’s a coincidence that “prayers” and “teaching” are
connected in the same verse.
God’s guidance in what to talk about comes in that atmosphere where He is
present in prayer and the faces of the people you teach are before you.
That’s the atmosphere that comes only by praying for the
people you are teaching.
If you are a teacher over a group of any size, at some
point before you teach, and best before you prepare, work at the discipline of
praying for those that you teach. Their faces should before your eyes when you
we’re in today is a prayer of Jesus, and the biggest chunk of this prayer is
centered in on these disciples that have been with Him.
I think it is very important to spend time studying and preparing before
think good teaching is like preparing a meal. The better the
preparation, the better the meal.
would you do if you ordered veal parmesan at a restaurant, and the waiter comes
out and throws a
piece of raw meat, a cup of flour, a can of tomatoes, some spices, a hunk of
cheese, and some dried pasta onto your plate? Would you come back to that
Preparation is a good thing.
I get the feeling from some teachers that they subscribe
to the raw parmesan approach.
Paul wrote to Timothy:
(2 Ti 2:15 NKJV) Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does
not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.
It is not unspiritual to prepare. It’s healthy.
Chewing. Meditating. Listening.
The whole message doesn’t just come from your vast mental powers and
preparation. Give God a chance to respond to your prayers.
David said about the righteous man:
(Ps 1:2 NKJV) But his delight is in the law of the Lord, And in His law he meditates day and
Are You Listening?
story is told of Franklin Roosevelt, who often endured long receiving
lines at the White House. He complained that no one really paid any attention
to what was said. One day, during a reception, he decided to try an experiment.
To each person who came down the line and shook his hand, he murmured, “I
murdered my grandmother this morning.” The guests responded with phrases like,
“Marvelous! Keep up the good work. We are proud of you. God bless you, sir.” It
was not until the end of the line, while greeting the ambassador from Bolivia,
that his words were actually heard. Not quite knowing what to say, the
ambassador leaned over and whispered, “I’m sure she had it coming.”
The Golden Crane
As a teacher of
origami (the ancient Japanese art of paper folding) at the LaFarge Lifelong
Learning Institute in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Art Beaudry was asked to represent
the school at an exhibit at a large mall in Milwaukee. He decided to take along
a couple hundred folded paper
cranes to pass out to people who stopped at his booth. Before that day,
however, something strange happened - a voice told him to find a piece of gold
foil paper and make a gold origami crane. The strange voice was so insistent
that Art actually found himself rummaging through his collection of origami
papers at home until he found one flat, shiny piece of gold foil. “Why am I doing this?”
he asked himself. Art had never worked with the shiny gold paper. It didn’t
fold as easily or neatly as the crisp multicolored papers. But that little
voice kept nudging. Art harrumphed and tried to ignore the voice. “Why gold
foil anyway? Paper is much easier to work with.” He grumbled. The voice
continued “Do it! And you must give it away tomorrow to a special person.” By
now Art was getting a little cranky..... “What special person?” He asked the
voice. “You’ll know which one,” the voice said. That evening Art very carefully
folded and shaped
the unforgiving gold foil until it became as graceful and delicate as a real
crane about to take flight. He packed the exquisite bird in the box along with
about 200 colorful paper cranes he’d made over the previous few weeks. The next
day at the mall, dozens upon dozens of people stopped by Art’s booth to ask
questions about origami. He demonstrated the art. He folded, unfolded and
refolded. He explained the intricate details, the need for sharp creases. Then
there was a woman standing in front of Art. The special person. Art had never seen her before,
and she hadn’t said a word as she watched him carefully fold a bright pink
piece of paper into a crane with pointed, graceful wings. Art glanced up at her
face, and before he knew what he was doing, his hands were down in the big box
that contained the supply of paper cranes. There it was, the delicate gold-foil
bird he’d labored over the night before. He retrieved it and carefully placed
it in the woman’s hand. “I don’t know why, but there’s a very loud voice inside
me telling me I’m supposed to give you this golden crane. The crane is the
ancient symbol of peace.” Art said simply. The woman didn’t say a word as she
slowly cupped her small hand around the fragile bird as if it were alive. When
Art looked up at her face, he saw tears filling her eyes, ready to spill out.
Finally the woman took a deep breath and said, “My husband died three weeks
ago. This is the first time I’ve been out. “Today.......” She wiped her eyes
with her free hand, still gently cradling the golden crane with the other.
“Today is our golden wedding anniversary.” Then this stranger said in a clear
voice. “Thank you for this beautiful gift. Now I know that my husband is at
peace. Don’t you see? That voice you heard. It’s the voice God, and this
beautiful crane is a gift from Him! It’s the most wonderful 50th
wedding anniversary present I could have received. Thank you for listening to
your heart.” And that’s how Art learned to listen very carefully when a little
voice within him tells him to do something he may not understand at the time. ~Patricia Lorenz~
My favorite teachers
are ones with which it is obvious that they’ve spent time thinking and
meditating on a passage.
It’s best to give your passage a chance to “breathe”. Don’t
get into the habit of preparing your lesson ten minutes before you teach.
I hope that a fair measure of the things that I share are not just head
knowledge, but things that I’ve been learning to apply to my life.
A teacher is supposed to set an example with his life.
Paul wrote to Timothy:
(1 Ti 4:12–13 NLT)
—12 Don’t let anyone think less of you because you are young. Be an example to all
believers in what you say, in the way you live, in your love, your faith, and
your purity.13 Until I get there, focus on reading the Scriptures to the
church, encouraging the believers, and teaching them.
Before Paul encouraged Timothy in his teaching, he
encouraged him to be an example.
If I’m teaching on humility, and yet the people around me
know what a proud jerk I am, they are going to have a hard time listening to
Can the people who know you best stand to listen to you
teach? Do they receive anything from what you say? Or do your words come across
flat because you don’t “practice what you preach”?
On the flip side, there are things that I will need to talk about from time
to time, things that I don’t have a clue about.
Don’t shy away from teaching about things beyond your
experience level. But be honest that it’s beyond you. Don’t pretend to be an
expert at something you’re not.
:8 they have
received – lambano – to
take; lay hold of; to receive (what is given)
Jesus taught, the disciples “received”.
(vs. 8) they have received them, and have known surely that I came
forth from You; and they have believed that You sent Me
We may not all be called to teach, but we are all called to learn. There are some interesting things here that
challenge us as those who are “taught”.
There are three key words in the last phrase that tell us what it is to
be a “learner”.
Jesus’ teaching brought the disciples to “know” who God was. This is a knowledge based upon
experience. They haven’t just learned
about God, but have come to know God.
The word translated “surely” (alethos)
is based on the word for “truth”.
The basic idea of “truth” (aletheia) is what is “not hidden”.
Whereas the hypocritical Pharisees learned to cover things up in their
lives, the disciples are learning to uncover the truth about who God is, who
they are, and how to follow Him.
The disciples have come to trust in Jesus and who He is.
For you, you don’t need to come and trust the human teacher (like me). Your trust needs to be in Jesus Christ.
From time to time I hear Christians complain that they didn’t get anything
out of a Bible Study. Perhaps the
teacher didn’t tell any good jokes. Perhaps
he told too many jokes. Perhaps he
didn’t tell them anything they didn’t already know.
The bigger issue is whether or not I am open to receiving anything from
The old priest
Eli taught the little boy Samuel how to respond when God was poking at his
(1 Sa 3:10 NKJV)
Now the Lord came and stood and
called as at other times, “Samuel! Samuel!” And Samuel answered, “Speak, for Your servant hears.”
Growing as a disciple doesn’t just come from having a good teacher. It comes from being a good “learner”
Am I hungry to
“know” (experience) God?
Am I ready to hear
the “truth” about who God is and who I am?
Am I ready to trust
God with more of my life?